Australian officials are scrambling to identify children fathered with local women by refugees and asylum-seekers in Papua New Guinea and Nauru, following advice they will be eligible for transfer to Australia under the Labor-backed medevac bill.
Conservative Party leader Cory Bernardi warned of the reopening of the people smuggling trade when the bill came before the Senate last year and now this loophole has added to the dangers the legislation presents.
The Australian reports, Immigration Minister David Coleman has had legal advice that children born to “transitory persons” are considered to be “legacy minors”, and will be eligible for transfer under section 198D of the bill.
Unlike adult refugees, whose transfer must be ordered by two doctors, there is no medical requirement in relation to the transfer of legacy minors under the bill.
Government sources said Australian officials were trying to work out how many children could be affected in each country. “It could be quite a large number. We really don’t know,” one source said.
The medevac bill says the secretary of the Department of Home Affairs must, “as soon as practicable” after the bill receives royal assent — which is expected as soon as next week — identify all legacy minors in Manus and Nauru and notify the minister.
Once notified, the minister “must approve” the transfer of legacy minors to Australia within 72 hours unless the child is subject to an adverse security assessment under the ASIO Act, or has a “substantial criminal record”. It’s understood the parents of the children would have to consent to their transfer.
Senator Bernardi told the Senate that Labor, the Greens and the left wing independents will be responsible for opening up the people-smuggling floodgates.
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