The court found the Immigration Minister had no authority to declare Malaysia as a country that can accept asylum seekers for processing while the country was not bound, by law, to protect refugees.
National Council Chief Executive, Dr John Falzon said “Right across Australia, the grassroots members of the St Vincent de Paul Society will be warmly welcoming the High Court decision.
“We continue to say to the Australian Government: No to offshore processing; No to mandatory detention. This decision offers the nation a wonderful opportunity to re-think our stance on asylum seekers and re-visit our international obligations.
“This is a victory for human rights. We now need to turn this into a new direction for the Government; a direction based on dignity and respect for asylum seekers rather than demonisation and repression.”
The Minister for Immigration declared the High Court’s decision as ‘profoundly disappointing’.
“Let’s make no bones about it: today’s decision by the High Court is a profoundly disappointing one; disappointing to the Government, disappointing to me. It is a significant blow to our efforts to break the people smugglers’ business model,” said Chris Bowen.
“What the High Court has decided today is not what was previously considered as understood and accepted law. This decision has potential ramifications, not only for our arrangement with Malaysia, but for offshore processing more generally.
“While this is a blow, it does not undermine our resolve to break the people smugglers’ business model through a regional arrangement. We’ve made progress that people didn’t think would be possible.
“We negotiated a regional framework through the Bali Process, which many people said would not be possible. We negotiated an arrangement with Malaysia which many people said would not be possible.
“The Cabinet will need to take some time to consider its position carefully,” he said.
Dr John Falzon said the St Vincent de Paul Society had previously welcomed those refugees living in Malaysia, some 4,000 people who were guaranteed settlement under the Malaysian deal, but deplored the Government’s plan to conduct a people swap and its decision to reopen an off-shore processing centre on Manus Island.”