For over a year, the then Minister for Immigration successfully avoided granting permanent protection to refugees who came by boat. His newly elected government had promised to re-introduce a temporary protection regime, but came to power without the numbers to pass necessary legislation. In order to achieve his policy objective, the Minister chose to engage in a variety of legally dubious tactics to forestall and delay granting permanent protection, as required by the law. In doing so, the Minister navigated skilfully through the holes in Australia’s institutional frameworks designed to protect the rule of law and Australia’s constitutional arrangements. The saga of Scott Morrison and temporary protection visas is therefore a telling story about the fragility of the rule of law in Australia and demonstrates how a determined executive can upend the constitutional order.
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