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Response from Minister Andrew's office to our RAR letter to P.M. Morrison

Our RAR Planning Committee

"A few days ago I received a reply from the Dept of Home Affairs to my letter to Morrison which included the signatures on our open letter.

It’s the usual cut and paste job, but has some priceless assertions, such as “Immigration detention is used as a last resort and where possible, unlawful non-citizens are managed in the community.” It goes on to state: “The decision to place a person in held immigration detention is based on an assessment of risk.”

None of this is true, of course, but it seems not to matter.

A change of government can’t come soon enough!"


Dear Mr Mike Griffin

Thank you for your correspondence to the Prime Minister, the Hon Scott Morrison MP,

concerning the release of refugees from detention. Your correspondence has been referred to

the Minister for Home Affairs, the Hon Karen Andrews MP, as the matter raised falls within her

portfolio responsibilities. The Minister appreciates the time you have taken to bring this matter

to her attention and has asked that I reply on her behalf.

I appreciate the concerns you have raised in your correspondence. Please note that due to

privacy considerations, it would be inappropriate to provide you with specific details pertaining

to a person in immigration detention, or comment on their immigration status, without their

expressed permission. However, I can provide you with the following general information.

The Migration Act 1958 (the Act) creates a statutory framework regulating the entry and stay of

non-citizens in Australia. Under the Act, non-citizens who do not hold a visa are liable for


Immigration detention is used as a last resort and where possible, unlawful

non-citizens are managed in the community. Where appropriate, detainees may be detained

in an alternative place of detention, such as a hotel or apartment-style accommodation, rather

than inside an immigration detention facility. Decisions about the most appropriate

immigration detention accommodation are determined on a case-by-case basis and involve

consideration of the safety and security of detainees, service providers, visitors and staff. In

making placement decisions, medical needs are given priority, and family and community links

are carefully considered.

The decision to place a person in held immigration detention is based on an assessment of

risk. The lengths and conditions of immigration detention, including the appropriateness of the

accommodation and services provided, are subject to regular review by senior officers of the

Department of Home Affairs, the Commonwealth Ombudsman and the Australian Human

Rights Commission. These reviews consider the lawfulness and appropriateness of

a person’s detention, their detention arrangements and placement, health and welfare,

and other matters relevant to their ongoing detention and case resolution.

Under the Act, detention is not limited by a set timeframe; rather, it ends when the person

either is granted a visa or is removed from Australia. This is dependent upon a number of

factors, including identity determination, developments in country information and the

complexity of processing due to individual circumstances relating to health, character or

security matters.

All persons who are in immigration detention are assigned a departmental Status Resolution

Officer to assist in progressing their case to resolution. If they have any questions regarding

their immigration pathway or options, he/she should contact their status resolution officer.

As you may be aware, Portfolio Ministers have personal intervention powers under the Act

which allow them to grant a visa to a person if they think it is in the public interest to do so.

The intervention powers are non-compellable, that is, the Ministers are not required to

exercise their power. Further, what is in the public interest is a matter for the Ministers to


The Minister’s guidelines describe the types of cases that might be referred for consideration.

All requests are assessed against these guidelines. Only cases that meet the guidelines are

referred for the Minister’s consideration. Ministerial Intervention is not an extension of the visa


Thank you for raising this matter with the Minister.

Yours sincerely

Toni Najdov

Immigration and Settlement Services Group

Department of Home Affairs

10 March 2022

 Our original letter to P.M. Morrison

Dear Mr. Morrison,

Please find enclosed an open letter, addressed to you, and signed by 616 Australians who have visited our

Rural Australians for Refugees stall at local markets in recent times. The letter reads:

“We, the undersigned, are deeply concerned about the plight of the 30,000 so-called legacy caseload of refugees who for almost a decade have been trapped in the legal limbo of temporary protection visas.

Australia is the sole signatory to the UN Refugee Council with a formal system for providing refugees with indefinite temporary, rather than permanent, protection. The UNHCR has described the policy as both “punitive” and “cruel”.

Temporary protection leaves this vulnerable group in perpetual uncertainty and fear. Requiring them to relive their trauma every three or five years is both cruel and unnecessary. Prohibiting family reunion, access to student loans and other benefits makes it well-nigh impossible for these people to rebuild their lives and to finally call Australia home.

We call on the government to end this cruel policy and to finally grant these people permanent protection. It is time to show some compassion and humanity.”

This group of people, all of them refugees who have demonstrated their right to our protection, present no threat to the Australian people. To continue to assert, as your government frequently does, that the current policy setting is designed to “keep Australia safe, and save lives at sea” is both absurd and indefensible. The Australian navy and air force have ensured that no asylum seeker boats have arrived on our shores since 2014. Let us not forget that you have a trophy in the form of a boat in your office which proudly proclaims: “I stopped these.”

It is time to end the cruel policy of temporary protection, which serves no useful purpose, and which condemns so many people to a life of uncertainty and fear.

Please show some compassion for these people, and give them the permanent protection that they so desperately need, and to which they are entitled under international law.

Yours sincerely,

Mike Griffin

Bellingen and Nambucca District Rural Australians for Refugees

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