05 September 2011

Stopping the boats: a piece of legislative cake

In consideration of the public interest, I have decided the offer my professional legal advice to both the government and the opposition without imposing my usual exorbitant (though entirely justified) professional fee for the following advice.

As we all know, or at least as we all are told, the only real political /social / humanitarian issue facing our great country today is, "stopping the boats". On that basis the following drafting notes are put forward for the submission to Parliament of the Border Protection (Stopping the Boats) Bill 2011.

Firstly, to head off any potential High Court challenges, we need an unsinkable (sorry) interpretation provision. Try this:

"This Act is to be interpreted as if Australia had no international obligations whatsoever in respect of Human, Civil or Political Rights, the status or protection of Refugees, the rights of Children, or anything of the sort (ejusdem generis). To the extent that any provision of this Act may conflict with any obligations of Australia, whether explicit or implied, in respect of the above, those obligations are taken to have been rescinded, revoked, repudiated and expressly set aside. To avoid doubt, it is not the intention of Parliament that any international obligation to which Australia might otherwise be subject should be used to interpret this Act in such a way as to limit or reduce the clear and unequivocal intention of the legislation to stop the boats no matter what the cost (other than electoral cost to the government of the day)."

Having made that clear, the substantial provisions of the Bill are a piece of cake: "The military forces of the Commonwealth are hereby authorised and directed to take whatever action is necessary to prevent unauthorised entry into Australian territory of any boat or ship, including any floating, or partially floating, or potentially or imminently sinking, whether leaking or otherwise, maritime vehicle conveying, or intending or potentially or reasonably or unreasonably suspected of intending to convey to Australia (including an excised offshore place) any person, not being an Australian citizen or eligible New Zealand citizen, who may, in the opinion of an officer, wish or intend, or conceivably or reasonably or unreasonably possibly wish or intend, for whasoever reason whatsoever, including a reason that reasonable or even reasonably unreasonable people might think was arguable, to remain whether permanently or temporarily or for the minimum time necessary to protect human life or dignity, in Australia, including action that may involve sinking, or hastening the sinking, or sitting back to wait for the sinking, of such boat or ship etc., regardless of any loss of life or limb or suffering of any person whatsoever (other than an Australian citizen or eligble New Zealand citizen)."

Julia, Tony, waiting for your call.

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