Migration Act 1958

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Migration Act 1958
Coat of Arms of Australia.svg
Parliament of Australia
An Act relating to the entry into, and presence in, Australia of aliens, and the departure or deportation from Australia of aliens and certain other persons[1]
CitationMigration Act 1958 (No. 62 of 1958)[2]
Royal assent8 October 1958[2]
Status: Current legislation

The Migration Act 1958 is an act of the Parliament of Australia.[2] Its long title is "An Act relating to the entry into, and presence in, Australia of aliens, and the departure or deportation from Australia of aliens and certain other persons."[1] The act is the current legislation governing immigration to Australia, and has been amended a number of times. The 1958 act replaced the Immigration Restriction Act 1901 which had formed the basis of the White Australia policy,[3] abolishing the infamous "dictation test" and replacing it with a universal visa system (or entry permits), as well as removing many of the other discriminatory provisions in the 1901 act.

Legislative history[edit]

In 1966, the Holt Government amended the act through the Migration Act 1966. The amendments were relatively minor, dealing with decimalisation and identity documents for crew members of foreign vessels.[4] Several sources have incorrectly identified the Migration Act 1966 as the vehicle through which the Holt Government dismantled the White Australia policy.[5] In fact, the government's actions in that area required no modification of the existing legislation, and were accomplished solely through ministerial decree.[6]

After Peter Dutton assumed the position of Minister for Immigration and Border Protection in December 2014,[7] the Migration Act was amended to impose a character test on visa applicants seeking to enter Australia and foreign non-citizens in Australia.[8] These amendments included the introduction of a new mandatory cancellation provision under section 501(3A). Between the 2013–2014 and 2016–2017 financial years, the number of visa cancellations on character grounds increased by 1,500 percent. According to statistics released by the Department of Home Affairs, the top ten nationalities that featured in character cancellations in 2017 were New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Vietnam, Sudan, Fiji, Iraq, Tonga, Iran, China, and India.[9]


A 1985 report by the Australian Human Rights Commission found that "two groups whose human rights are most at risk in the administration of the Act are disabled persons and persons who have become Prohibited Non-Citizens"[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "MIGRATION ACT 1958 - LONG TITLE". AustLII. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
  2. ^ a b c "Migration Act 1958 - Act No. 62 of 1958". ComLaw. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
  3. ^ "The Establishment of the Immigration Restriction Act". Australian Broadcasting Corporation: Australia's Centenary of Federation. Archived from the original on 3 January 2006. Retrieved 13 July 2005.
  4. ^ "Migration Act 1966". AustLII. Retrieved 20 September 2014.
  5. ^ E.g. in "Australia's Prime Ministers - Harold Holt". National Archives of Australia. Retrieved 20 September 2014.
  6. ^ Tom Frame (2005), The Life and Death of Harold Holt, p. 160.
  7. ^ "New Abbott ministry sworn in by Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove". Sydney Morning Herald. 23 December 2014.
  8. ^ Migration Act 1958 (Cth) s 501 Refusal or cancellation of visa on character grounds.
  9. ^ "Key visa cancellation statistics". Department of Home Affairs, Australian Government. Retrieved 20 July 2018.
  10. ^ "Australian Human Rights Commission - Human Rights and the Migration Act 1958" (PDF). Australian Human Rights Commission. Government of Australia. April 1985. Retrieved 13 October 2018.