MUA Against Amended Migration and Maritime Powers Bill

The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) urged the Senators to reject the Abbott Government’s Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment Bill, which is currently before the Senate.

MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said the Bill deserves to be voted down on several fronts.

According to Crumlin, the Abbott Government’s new Bill would allow the Immigration Minister to decide in secret whether the Navigation Act 2012, the Shipping Registration Act 1981, the Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) National Law, and Australia’s other international maritime obligations would apply to any particular vessel.

“Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has failed to grasp that these laws and conventions exist to save lives at sea, to protect fragile marine environments, and to ensure proper standards in shipping,” he said. “But this bill undermines maritime workers’ ability to offer that helping hand by removing a layer of accountability in a dangerous, unpredictable industry. Moreover, it allows Australian ships to secretly take people to any part of the world, and exempts them from any other law in the process.”

Mr Crumlin said that like many other sections of the Australian community, the MUA and its members strongly believe that genuine asylum seekers deserve a fair go.

“Asylum seekers deserve to be treated with dignity when they arrive, to have their cases heard fairly and expeditiously, and to have an opportunity to make Australia their home if they meet the appropriate internationally accepted criteria,” he said.

Crumlin said the Bill, with its negative and obsessive focus against asylum seekers, also undermines governance within the maritime industry and the rights and protections of maritime workers.

The Association for the Prevention of Torture said, quoting its Committee against Torture, that asylum seekers detained in offshore processing centers, which are within Australia’s ‘effective control’, are subjected to ill treatment, stressing that  Australia has an obligation to uphold their rights under the  the UN Convention Against Torture.

Detainees on Nauru and Manus Island in Papua New Guinea were transferred by Australia; the detention centers were run with Australia’s financial aid; and the private security contractors that run the centers were chosen by Australia, APT said.

“The rights of asylum seekers in offshore detention are not being upheld according to the UNHCR, who have previously found that basic standards are not being met,” the Association said.

The Committee also expressed concern at draft laws currently before the Australian Parliament, which would remove safeguards and lower standards of protection under the Refugee Convention and the UN Convention against Torture.

In particular, the Australian government is seeking to change the threshold for returning asylum seekers to a standard where they must show they are ‘more likely than not’ to suffer torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment on return, a departure from the international standard, which requires only a ‘real risk’ of torture.

Press Release

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