Jesuit welcomes High Court 'fair go' asylum seeker appeal ruling
Lawyer Fr Frank Brennan is pleased with Tuesday's unanimous High Court ruling that preserves the appeal rights of asylum seekers.
"All seven judges of the High Court have thrown out [Immigration] Minister Ruddock's attempt to deny asylum seekers access to the courts," he said.
In the aftermath of the Tampa crisis in late 2001, the Federal Government made changes to the Migration Act that cut off asylum seekers' right to appeal in the court.
In this week's case, the High Court upheld the right of a Bangladeshi person to appeal not only to the High Court, but also to the Federal Court and the new Federal Magistrates' Court.
Fr Brennan pointed out that despite attempts by the government to stop this practice, the High Court "can still remit such matters to lower courts to avoid the High Court being clogged with such cases".
"It is not enough for the immigration officers or the Refugee Review Tribunal simply to establish that they acted in good faith," he said. "Asylum seekers, like the rest of us, are entitled to expect fairness."
Fr Brennan said Chief Justice Gleeson ruled as "inviolable" the requirement of a fair hearing, describing "the broad reading which the Commonwealth tried to give to its privative clause" as "inconsistent with four principles of statutory interpretation".
Fr Brennan is associate director of the Sydney-based Uniya Jesuit Social Justice Centre.
The High Court Throws Out the Ruddock Attempt to Exclude the Courts in Refugee Cases (commentary by Fr Frank Brennan)
6 Feb 2003