Independent Member for Wentworth Kerryn Phelps during Question Time on Tuesday. Picture: AAP
Independent Member for Wentworth Kerryn Phelps during Question Time on Tuesday. Picture: AAP

Security fears over asylum seekers suspected of crimes

THE  government holds grave concerns about specific asylum seekers - including a man suspected of murder - who could qualify for medical transfer under Kerryn Phelps' and Labor's new legislation.

A key government concern over Opposition leader Bill Shorten and Dr Phelps' new law is that the Minister can only knock back a medical transfer if the asylum seeker or refugee has been sentenced to 12 months jail or more.

The government considers this character test inadequate because the asylum seekers arrive without identification, meaning it is often impossible to ascertain the scope of a person's criminal history.

Dr Kerry Phelps receives a document from Opposition Leader Bill Shorten which she signed and returned on Tuesday. Picture: Gary Ramage
Dr Kerry Phelps receives a document from Opposition Leader Bill Shorten which she signed and returned on Tuesday. Picture: Gary Ramage


The Daily Telegraph has seen four examples of individuals currently held on Manus Island and Nauru who, if signed off by two doctors, the government believes could be transferred to Australia.

The first case is a man with a history of violence charged on Manus Island with the assault of a treating psychiatrist and who is suspected of being charged with murder in Iran.

The second involves a man arrested in association with a rape of a minor on Manus Island, but who is in custody pending appearance in court.

 

The third case is a man accused of conducting a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl on Manus Island and the fourth case is a man charged with an Indecent Act in Relation to a Child under 16 who has not yet appeared in court.

The changes pushed through by Mr Shorten mean that boat people currently held on Manus Island and Nauru can be transferred to Australia with the sign-off of any two doctors regardless of the advice of treating physicians on the islands.

 

Instead of a board within Home Affairs assessing the request and considering other treatment options, the only recourse is for the immigration minister to block the transfer on medical or character ground where it must be proven within 72 hours that the individual has a "substantial criminal record", including having served 12 months behind bars.

It comes as Mr Shorten and his MPs have rejected a separate government plan to automatically cancel the visas of violent thugs and sexual deviants living or holidaying in Australia who had been convicted of crimes that carry a maximum jail sentence of at least two years.

 

Mr Shorten with wife Chloe attend the 2019 church service for the start of the Parliamentary Year at St Paul’s, Canberra on Tuesday. Picture: Kym Smith
Mr Shorten with wife Chloe attend the 2019 church service for the start of the Parliamentary Year at St Paul’s, Canberra on Tuesday. Picture: Kym Smith

 

The government is seeking support in parliament to toughen the character test under the Migration Act to make sure foreigners convicted of serious crimes were sent packing regardless of the sentence handed down by a judge.

But Labor has responded to pressure from New Zealand which objects to the government crackdown on sending its criminals back home.



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