Weekly media wrap - 29 September 2019

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton lodged an application to the High Court to appeal a decision by the Federal Court which found that the latter does have jurisdiction to hear cases for medical transfer of people in offshore detention. If the government wins the appeal it will mean that only the High Court has jurisdiction to hear such cases. Initiating a case in the High Court is significantly more expensive and more complicated than in other courts.      

The Tamil family who are in immigration detention on Christmas Island pending a court hearing on the protection status of their youngest child has been told they will not be returned to the Australian mainland. The court date has not yet been confirmed and they have been told they could wait months. Should they win their court case, their visa status will still be subject to ministerial discretion.

Federal circuit judge Alexander (Sandy) Street’s handling of asylum cases has been called into question. The average success rate for applicants on refugee review cases at the federal circuit court is 7.28%, but of the 842 cases that have come before Judge Street, he found in favour of the applicant only 1.66% of the time. He has been criticised for regularly failing to provide written reasons for his judgements and for the frequency with which he provides same day judgements. The Law Council of Australia has called for a federal independent review body where complaints against judges can be heard.

A major review into refugee resettlement in Australia was completed in February this year, but its report will not be made public until the end of 2019. The review examined improvements to the settlement and integration of people who have come to Australia on humanitarian grounds. Freedom of information requests for the report have been refused on the basis that the report is ‘cabinet in confidence’.