Ruling imminent on Malaysia refugee deal
The future of Australia's refugee swap deal with Malaysia is set to be decided in the High Court today. The plan has been stalled by a High Court challenge from two asylum seekers at Christmas Island.
Lawyers for the pair argue Australia could be breaching its international obligations because it cannot guarantee the rights of refugees sent to Malaysia which has not signed the international convention on refugees.
But the Government says it has legally declared Malaysia a suitable place to send asylum seekers after a proper examination of the practical realities there.
The court has also been asked to rule on whether the Immigration Minister as guardian has a particular obligation not to relocate one of the asylum seekers who is only 16.
Five boats carrying a total of 335 men, women and children have arrived on Christmas Island since the Malaysia deal came into effect.
The Immigration Department has confirmed there are 57 unaccompanied minors among them.
If the court rules in favour of the Government, it could be several days before the first group of asylum seekers is deported.
The Government's charter plane has not yet arrived, nor have the Federal Police officers who would escort the asylum seekers to Malaysia.
Will the High Court be pro active and set the tone as far as the Australian refugee policy is concerned or will it be legalistic and endorse the supremacy of Parliament. Chances are that the current make up of the Court will endorse the status quo and rule on strict legal grounds; that the Minister has under the Migration Act the authority to accept or reject who ever he likes.