Friday, 16 June 2017

Lawyers, including the country's peak law body, have condemned Immigration Minister Peter Dutton

Australia would do well to remember that besides being a wealthy property developer, the far-right Australian Immigration Minister and Liberal MP for Dickson, Peter Craig Dutton (left), is a former Queensland police officer.

Neither occupation has a history of probity in that state* nor its members a reputation for an ability to look beyond their own narrow self-interests.

Lawyers, including the country's peak law body, have condemned Immigration Minister Peter Dutton's latest citizenship crackdown as a power grab that threatens the independence of the judiciary.

Under changes to be put to Parliament this week, the minister will be empowered to overrule citizenship decisions of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, in a bid to put a stop to its "silly" rulings……

Law Council of Australia president Fiona McLeod said she would await the full details, but reports of the tribunal being hamstrung were worrying.

"That's a very grave concern," she said. "Any attempt to wind back review powers should be treated with concern."……

Australian National University law professor Kim Rubenstein, who consulted on the 2008 citizenship revamp, warned against granting individual government ministers more and more power.

"That becomes a slippery slope to very draconian environments," she said. "We as Australians take these things too much for granted."

Western Sydney University law lecturer Jason Donnelly said it "completely undermines the object and independence of the AAT" and "shows a growing imbalance" in the separation of powers.

"It opens the can of worms to the abrogation of other fundamental rights," he said. "The courts have a fundamental role in protecting rights - because the government certainly isn't doing it."

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