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PM seeks expanded powers to boot criminals

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called for the need for objective tests to be able to deport foreign-born criminals convicted of serious offences.

The Coalition government is planning to reintroduce laws to parliament on Wednesday that would close a loophole to migration character test laws.

Under the proposal, visas for non-citizens will be refused or cancelled if they’ve been convicted of a serious crime that’s punishable for more than two years in prison, served less than 12 months in prison or are deemed a risk to the community.

Mr Morrison said judges in deportation cases had often handed down lesser sentences to get around existing character test laws to avoid people getting deported.

“Judges are handing down sentences which enables people to get around this, and we need an objective test,” he told Sydney radio station 2GB.

“We want to make sure we can punt them.”

The proposal will be reintroduced on Wednesday, after the previous attempt at the bill was defeated in the Senate late last year.

Labor and Greens senators had expressed concern the laws could mean visa holders could be kicked out of the country for minor offences.

Serious crimes listed in the bill include violent and sexual crimes, breaching apprehended violence orders, using or possessing a weapon or assisting in any of the crimes.

Mr Morrison said 4000 visa holders had been expelled from Australia since the last election.

“We are being frustrated by soft decisions in the courts,” he said.

“We have a law in this country which is if you commit a serious offence, then you go, do no pass go, you’re gone you’re out.”

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said more power was needed to expel people from the country should they commit a crime.

“There are several laws that are inadequate to capture serious sexual and violent offending,” he told the Seven Network.

“We just want to get this passed, there are no politics … this will protect women and children and the safety of people in Australia.”

Shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers said it wasn’t clear what additional powers the immigration minister needed.

“I’m in favour of the immigration minister being able to kick people out of the country if they do the wrong thing,” he said in Canberra.

“As I understand it, he has that power already, we saw that with the Novak Djokovic debacle.”

Labor has accused the government of trying to reintroduce the legislation for a political wedge ahead of the election, due to be held by May 21.

-AAP

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