A new bill passed by the Senate on Wednesday has dramatically expanded the powers of immigration Minister Scott Morrison by granting the minister broad new powers to cancel or refuse visas to non-citizens who commit crimes in Australia.
The changes will effectively lower the threshold for the cancellation of temporary visas for non-citizens.A person can now fail the character test if there’s a ‘reasonable suspicion’ – not a conviction – for involvement in crime gangs, people smuggling, genocide, war crimes, torture or slavery.Anyone who has one or multiple jail sentences adding up to 12 months – down from two years – or has an adverse ASIO assessment of child sex charges can also fail automatically.The minister can cancel or refuse a visa to anyone who fails the character test.
Commenting on the new powers, assistant immigration minister Michaelia Cash said the federal government had low tolerance of criminal behaviour by non-citizens.
‘Entry and stay in Australia by non-citizens is a privilege, not a right,’ she told the chamber on Wednesday, according to a report in The Australian.’The Australian community expects that the Australian government can and should refuse entry to non-citizens or cancel their visas if they do not abide by Australian laws.’
It is to be noted that the immigration minister already has the power to revoke citizenship if it were obtained through fraud or misrepresentation.