Lawyers for Australian-born baby Ferouz will today appear before a Senate Inquiry in Canberra in a bid to stop proposed legislative amendments that will see Australian-born babies forcibly transferred to Nauru.
Maurice Blackburn Senior Associate Murray Watt, who is acting for Ferouz, said today’s hearing was an important opportunity to tell Senators what was at stake for 100 Australian-born babies, if the proposed amendments to the Migration Act are given the green light by Parliament.
“These amendments will result in Australian-born babies, all with Australian birth certificates, being taken to Nauru – many of the babies cannot possibly remain in Australia if these amendments pass,” Mr Watt said.
“The amendments ignore regular reports from the United Nations and others that conditions on Nauru are inhumane and not fit for children.
“In addition, by forcing these families to Nauru, Australian taxpayers will face an enormous bill to lock them in detention.
“If passed, these amendments will see all 100 babies retrospectively deemed to have come to Australia by boat, even though they were born in Australian hospitals, and have never left Australia.
“This is despite legal proceedings - on this very issue - being underway for Ferouz, including an appeal to the Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia to be held later this month.
“Of particular concern is the retrospective nature of these amendments, which will deem any child born before the amendments commence to be an unauthorised maritime arrival.
“This is an outrageous departure from the usual convention against retrospective legislation.
“All 100 of these babies will also lose their right to apply for a permanent protection visa, with a very high risk that all 100 will be taken to Nauru as soon as possible.
“Further to this, 31 babies, including Ferouz, are actually eligible to apply for Australian citizenship because they are not entitled to citizenship in any other country.
“Yet even if they are granted citizenship, their families will be taken to Nauru or Manus under these amendments.
“So if the Senate give these amendments the green light, they are also giving the green light to separating Aussie kids from their families: something most Australians would find reprehensible.
“It’s time for the Senate to give these Aussie kids a fair go, by blocking these amendments,” he said.
A copy of Maurice Blackburn’s submission to the Senate inquiry is available at: http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Legal_and_Constitutional_Affairs/Asylum_Legacy_Caseload_Bill_2014/Submissions.