find the latest legal job
Corporate Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Highly-respected, innovative and entrepreneurial Not-for-Profit · Competency based Board
View details
Chief Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Dynamic, high growth organisation · ASX listed market leader
View details
In-house Projects Lawyer | Renewables / Solar | 2-5 Years PQE
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: All Australia
· Help design the future · NASDAQ Listed
View details
Corporate Lawyer (3-5 years PQE)
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Sydney CBD, Inner West & Eastern Suburbs Sydney NSW
· National firm acting for domestic and multinational clients
View details
Lawyer – CTP Insurance (2-3 years)
Category: Insurance and Superannuation Law | Location: Sydney CBD, Inner West & Eastern Suburbs Sydney NSW
· Well-regarded team offering mentoring and career development
View details
LCA and ALA condemn panel plans for asylum seekers

LCA and ALA condemn panel plans for asylum seekers

The Australian Lawyers Alliance and the Law Council of Australia have expressed grave disappointment in the recommendations of the expert panel on asylum seekers to allow offshore processing in Nauru and Manus Island.

LCA president Catherine Gale said she was pleased with the recommendation, which Gillard has endorsed in principle, to increase the humanitarian intake from 13,750 people per year to 20,000, but that other recommendations reflect a punitive approach.

The expert panel, which made 22 recommendations, was comprised of former Defence Force chief Angus Houston, refugee expert Paris Aristotle and former diplomat Michael L'Estrange.

They proposed Manus Island and Nauru as “short-term circuit breakers” ahead of an as-yet-unspecified longer-term solution to the regional asylum-seeker crisis, but the ALA labelled the rushed Federal Government plans as “cruel and outrageous”.

“I’m disappointed in the panel. I’m particularly disappointed in Paris Aristotle. I like Paris, I met with the panel and I have no doubt about their sincerity, but what they have sanctioned is effectively governments creating a great deal of harm to very vulnerable people,” said immediate past-president of the ALA Greg Barns. He also claimed there will be major episodes of mental and physical illness among detainees, as shown by Howard’s Pacific Solution.

“I think there’s a naivety on the part of the panel in thinking that politicians in this country, who are extraordinarily short term in their view of the world and put human rights well down the value chain, will do any thing other than simply rely on Nauru and Manus Island as long-term solutions,” he said.

Barns argued the panel should not have been so pragmatic but rather pushed for regional processing centres “where people have a hope of having their claims processed within a 12-month period”.

Australian mental health expert, Professor Pat McGorry, who was consulted by the Government's expert panel, has said that after about six, and certainly 12, months in detention, mental health will deteriorate.

“What is quite disturbing is the failure by the Prime Minister to give any assurance about time limits on detention; in fact she said that longer detention acts as a deterrent, which is an extraordinary statement … one would expect unfortunately from authoritarian  regimes around the world,” said Barns.

LCA president Catherine Gale said that for many years the LCA has opposed offshore processing, mandatory detention and other policies aimed at punishing those seeking asylum in Australia.

“The Law Council urges the Parliament to ensure that any legislative instruments authorising a location for offshore processing are subject to regular parliamentary review,” said Gale.

“There is also a need to give legislative effect to the types of safeguards outlined in the expert panel report, such as the provision of assistance during the preparation of protection applications and the establishment of an appeal mechanism against negative decisions on such applications.”

The LCA also has concerns about the rights of unaccompanied minors and the ability of persons found to be genuine refugees to be reunited with their families. Gale said the LCA will continue to monitor the implementation of the panel’s recommendations on these matters.

Many costs

Barns argued that the Gillard Government is setting Australia up for massive compensation claims that will dwarf the $22 million already paid out in compensation claims to asylum seekers who were detained under the Howard, Rudd and Gillard administrations.

“We are creating a morally repugnant policy, but in fiscal terms an extraordinarily expensive policy. You think of the $22 million already paid out that could have gone to onshore community processing rather than putting people through physical and mental hell over a number of years … and we’re creating the same conditions again,” said Barns.

 “Just as the US benefitted from post-World War II refugees stimulating and driving its economic prosperity, so Australia stands to benefit from embracing such culturally diverse and resilient people.”

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

LCA and ALA condemn panel plans for asylum seekers
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Aug 23 2017
NT Law Society sounds alarm on mandatory sentencing
The Law Society Northern Territory has issued a warning over mandatory sentencing, saying it hasn’...
Aug 22 2017
Professionals unite in support of marriage equality
The presidents of representative bodies for solicitors, barristers and doctors in NSW have come toge...
Aug 21 2017
Is your firm on the right track for gig economy gains?
Promoted by Crowd & Co. The way we do business, where we work, how we engage with workers, ev...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...