Terror suspect Dr Mohamed Haneef could be held in administrative detention “forever”, says Michael Clothier, former senior member of the Australian Government’s Immigration Review Tribunal and practising immigration lawyer.

“Unlike the court detention under the terrorism act, the High Court has said that a non-citizen can be detained forever,” Clothier says. Moreover, Andrews is “abusing his powers under section 501”, and the parliament “should never have given an immigration minister such powers.”

According to section 501 of the Migration Act:

(1)  The Minister may refuse to grant a visa to a person if the person does not satisfy the Minister that the person passes the character test.

(2)  The Minister may cancel a visa that has been granted to a person (on certain grounds)… 

Clothier tells Crikey that, “if the minister thinks you are a bad character he can, without granting you natural justice, cancel or refuse a visa. If your visa is cancelled, any other visa application is deemed to be refused and you must be detained in administrative detention. There is no discretion. This is obviously why they have used 501.

“That administrative power is absolute. 501 is a really nasty section. In fact, ironically, [Haneef] has more rights as a terrorist suspect than as an immigration 457 visa holder who has been detained under section 501. There are about 35,000 other 457 visa holders currently in Australia who would have to be worried about who they lend their SIM cards to in future!” 

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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