This week, on Wednesday 29 May 2013, the High Court will deliver judgment in two cases.
In M79/2012 vMinister for Immigration and Citizenship The plaintiff is a Sri Lankan citizen who arrived at Christmas Island in February 2010. He was therefore an “offshore entry person” and was unable to make a valid application for a visa (including a Protection Visa) by virtue of section 46A(1), unless the Minister exercised his power under section 46A(2) to “lift the bar” on the making of such an application. The plaintiff had access to the administrative systems of Refugee Status Assessment and Independent Merits Review (the systems by which if a person is found to be a refugee, the Minister may then exercise the power to “lift the bar” under section 46A(2)). Those processes were completed on 17 May 2011 with a recommendation to the Minister that the plaintiff not be recognised as a refugee (ie not a person to whom Australia has protection obligations). An application for judicial review in the Federal Magistrates Court has been heard, with judgment reserved. The plaintiff had been held in immigration detention since his arrival on Christmas Island. However, he was released on 12 April 2012 pursuant to a policy announced on 25 November 2011 that “irregular maritime arrivals” such as the plaintiff would be released from immigration detention and placed in the community on bridging visas. He was released because he was granted a Temporary Safe Haven Visa (permitting a stay of 7 days) and a Bridging Visa (permitting a stay of 6 months). The submission signed by the Minister approving the exercise of his intervention power under section 195A noted that the purpose of granting the Temporary Safe Haven Visa was to bar the plaintiff from lodging further onshore visa applications. A subsequent application for a protection visa was rejected as not being a valid application (because of section 46A(1)). Upon the expiry of the Bridging E visa the plaintiff was detained before being again released into the community by the grant of a further Bridging E visa. The plaintiff challenges the grant of the Temporary Safe Haven Visa on two grounds. The first is that such a visa cannot be granted under the ministerial intervention power in section 195A. The second is that having been made for an improper purpose (ie to prevent the making of a valid application for a protection visa once lawfully released into the community under the Bridging E Visa) the grant of the Temporary Safe Haven Visa was invalid.
There is also a judgment in relation to the making of orders consequential on the High Court’s judgment earlier in the year in Hunt & Hunt Lawyers v Mitchell Morgan Nominees Pty Ltd & Ors.