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Lobby group says migration zone excisions breach Racial Discrimination Act

Australia's policy of excising certain Islands from its migration zone to keep asylum seekers out of the country, breaches the Commonwealth's Racial Discrimination Act 1975, according to the Catholic lobby group PolMin.

The Migration Legislation (Excision from Migration Zone) Act 2001 was enacted by Federal Parliament in wake of the TAMPA incident, and was supported by all political parties. The Act prevents those asylum seekers who enter Australia by boat at Christmas Island, Ashmore and Cartier Islands, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, from claiming asylum.

PolMin points out that the Act states: "It is unlawful for a person to do any act involving a distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of any human right or fundamental freedom in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life".

It says the Federal Government is bound by the Act.

"[The Act] creates an exclusion that is to the detriment of asylum seekers of specific ethnic origins," it said in a statement released at the weekend. "It creates a distinction between those asylum seekers who enter Australia by boat and those who enter Australia by plane, and this distinction is to the detriment of the former class."

Coordinator James McGillicuddy commented that if the community turns a blind eye to the Government's breach of the Act, "we send a clear signal to Federal Parliament that it is permitted to break other important and fundamental social policies without censure."


Racial Discrimination Act 1975

10 Dec 2002