CANBERRA, Feb. 9 (Xinhua) -- Proposed government changes to Australia's Migration Act would give Immigration Minister Peter Dutton "Trump-like" powers, the opposition has claimed, as they would allow the government to check the visas of any "specified class of persons".
The government has claimed the changes have been designed to make it easier for the government to "revalidate" the details of long-term visa holders, such as those on an upcoming trial of a 10-year visa for Chinese nationals working in Australia
But on Thursday, the opposition's immigration spokesperson Shayne Neumann said the amendments leave the door open for Dutton and the Immigration Department to investigate any "specified class of persons" he thinks is in the public interest.
"The public interest test is undefined, open to broad interpretation and could be abused to pursue a political agenda in the guise of public interest," the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported Neumann as saying on Thursday.
"Labor cannot give Trump-like powers to a minister who has such a high desire to see a divided Australia.
"These measures and the targeting of people should be of concern to everyone in Australia. This particular minister cannot be trusted with wide ranging, unfettered powers over visas of whole groups of people."
In response on Thursday, Dutton told the ABC the claims were an "outrageous" attempt to undermine solid government policy.
"This is outrageous. I've seen some mendacious acts in my 15 years in Parliament but this would be one of the most mendacious acts by a shadow minister," the Immigration Minister said.
"What we've said is during that period of 10 years, if somebody, for example, commits a criminal offence or they are put on a terrorist watchlist then we reserve the right to go back and have look at their details and stop them from coming to our country."
Meanwhile Labor MP and counter-terror expert Anne Aly said while Dutton's claims are correct for those Chinese workers set to take up the long-term work visa, it could also be similarly applied to other groups of visa holders.
"(The changes) could potentially exclude entire groups of people and visa holders on the basis of ethnicity or on the basis of country of origin or on the basis of some other tenuous characteristic without scrutiny and without accountability," she told Parliament on Wednesday evening.
"In the face of growing discontent around the world (and) in the face of immigration bans and the exclusion of groups based on race or on ethnicity, sadly we have to be ever more vigilant of our long standing bipartisan commitment to our immigration program that does not discriminate."