This chapter deals with the strategies which Australia has employed to minimize the impact of its Refugee Convention obligations on its ability to implement its immigration and border control agenda. The chapter’s content is of wider relevance because, in the wake of the Syrian refugee crisis, commitment to human rights is receding and anxieties about uncontrolled population movement are coming to the fore in an increasing number of states. These states are looking to Australia for lessons on how to respond. Three inferences can be drawn from Australia’s conduct over the past 25 years: successive governments have not been politically committed to achieving the object and purpose of the Refugee Convention; they have viewed that Convention as an obstacle to achieving a policy objective to which they have been politically committed, the exercise of complete control over the entry and presence in Australia of non-citizens; and they nevertheless take the view that it is politically untenable, internationally if not domestically, to admit to flouting the Convention while remaining a party to it.
The principal domestic mechanism through which Australia gives effect to its protection obligations under the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, and under other human rights treaties, is the protection visa. This chapter describes the procedural treatment of asylum-seeking children in Australia and considers whether it is compliant with Australia’s obligations under key provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. This chapter adds to the existing literature by examining the treatment of all asylum-seeking children and by focusing on legislative and policy changes in 2014 and 2015 affecting procedural rights at the primary and merits review stage of the protection visa application process.