06 April 2014

DIBP Data Breach

The Guardian reports that in a Federal Circuit Court directions hearing Driver J has told counsel for the Immigration Minister and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection that proceedings in litigation by people in detention over the data breach noted elsewhere in this blog would be "simpler if we have some indication of what the process is".

The hearing concerns  whether it is within the Court’s jurisdiction to deal with claims  by the detainees. Their counsel reportedly argued that under section 198 of the Migration Act the government is obliged to remove failed asylum seekers “as soon as reasonably practicable”. Accordingly,  many detainees  fear  Australia will breach non-refoulement obligations under international law by removing them following  public disclosure of their personal information.

The Department  argues that the claim does not invoke the Court’s jurisdiction because until the process of dealing with the effects of the breach is complete "nobody will be under any threat of removal". Perceptions of threat are possibly not alleviated by actions such as that noted here.

The Department and its lawyers have been silent on process for handling the data breach. The Guardian, perhaps unkindly, sniffs that they
were unable to detail in court the processes by which the department was dealing with people in detention who had their personal details disclosed in a massive data breach.
A letter the department secretary, Martin Bowles, sent to detainees affected by the breach, who number almost 10,000, informs them the impact will be assessed individually in line with "normal processes".
Greater transparency about those processes is desirable.

The Government recently announced that the "End of taxpayer funded immigration advice to illegal boat arrivals saves $100 million".
 The government has fulfilled another election pledge with the removal of taxpayer funded immigration advice and assistance to people who arrived in Australia illegally by boat, Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, the Hon Scott Morrison said today. 
'From today people who arrived illegally by boat, as well as illegally by air, will no longer receive taxpayer funded immigration advice and assistance under the Immigration Advice and Application Assistance Scheme (IAAAS). This election commitment will save the budget $100 million,' Minister Morrison said today. 
'Australia's protection obligations do not extend to providing free immigration advice and assistance to those who arrived in Australia illegally. 
'The withdrawal of taxpayer funded immigration advice and assistance does not prevent those who arrived illegally having access to legal assistance. In addition, those who wish to provide immigration advice and application assistance pro bono are free to do so. 
'Access to any private and/or pro bono immigration advice by illegal boat or air arrivals will be facilitated by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, with all costs to be met by the providers of these services. 
'If people choose to violate how Australia chooses to run our refugee and humanitarian programme, they should not presume upon the support and assistance that is provided to those who seek to come the right way, and they should certainly not receive additional assistance, as they did under the previous government. 
'Under these changes the government will provide illegal arrivals clear instructions in multiple languages setting out the asylum application and assessment process and will provide interpreters. This is similar to the process employed by the UNHCR around the world.