The Federal Court has given Peter Dutton an ultimatum, either rule on a legitimate immigration case or face the consequences.
Federal Court Judge has given Peter Dutton a midday deadline to rule on an immigration case which involves a protection visa for an Iranian man. If Dutton exceeds the deadline, he will be charged with contempt of court, which in the lettering of law, involves gaol time.
On June 20, Justice Geoffrey Flick blasted Mr Dutton for making decisions ‘contrary’ to the law. “An order is thus necessary to ensure that ‘the Minister’ responsible for administering the Migration Act does so in accordance with the law,” he remarked.
Justice Flick also said, “parties to a proceeding who fail to comply with orders made are possibly guilty of contempt of court and thereby exposed to sanctions ranging from the imposition of a fine through to (in an appropriate case) imprisonment”.
“In the absence of argument, there is no self-evident reason why even a Minister of the Crown should not comply with orders made by this Court and, if found guilty of contempt, liable to the same penalties as any other litigant.”
It’s understood that lawyers for the government ministers have told the Iranian man whose visa status is in question, that there would not be a ruling on his visa application because Mr Dutton was appealing the judgment.
The lawyers have claimed that Justice Flick “was in error in finding that the delay in making such a decision was unreasonable.”
As stated in the court documents, three previous attempts have been made. The first decision, handed down on June 10, simply required Dutton to make a decision “within a reasonable time”, with two follow-up attempts giving specific dates and times that a decision needed to be reached by.
It is believed that Peter Dutton is currently on leave.
On the same day charges are recommended against a journalist for doing his job, the Federal Court has had to threaten Peter Dutton with contempt of court for the second time in two weeks for not doing his job. The PM should explain why Dutton is still a Minister. pic.twitter.com/j1krNQPuzB
— Mark Dreyfus (@markdreyfusQCMP) July 2, 2020
Seven years in limbo
The Iranian man arrived in Australia by boat in July 2013. After spending about one month in immigration detention, he was given a bridging visa.
But the Immigration Department cancelled his visa in December 2016 and placed the man in detention. Since then, his application has been exceptionally slow to process, having already taken more than three years, despite the Administrative Appeals Tribunal finding that he passed the ‘character test’ within the Migration Act, and was eligible for a protection visa. The ruling was made in November of 2018.
The man hoped to speed up the decision on his application by taking the matter to court, but in response, Mr Dutton set aside the Appeals Tribunal Finding and denied the man a visa. That decision has since been overturned in court.