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Tuesday, 25 November 1986
Page: 3667

Mr WEST (Minister for Housing and Construction) —I thank you, Madam Speaker, and the House. I wish to add to the personal explanation with regard to the meeting I was referring to that was held in May 1983, a meeting of the Turkish community I attended with a number of other prominent Australians. I wish to refute the allegation made on the Willesee show last night by Mr Gurpenar. Having said that I had examined my files and that we did attend a meeting in May 1983, I wish to conclude my personal explanation by stating the purpose of that meeting. I was in no way connected with terrorism of any sort. I was invited to speak at the meeting, and I went as Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs to advise members of the Turkish community of Melbourne of their rights as Australian citizens and permanent residents in the face of a number of letters sent to them telling them to return to Turkey or risk their Turkish citizenship being taken away and their property in Turkey being confiscated. I told them at that meeting that this Government believed, as indeed I think did former governments, that there was no need for them to return to Turkey, that their rights in Australia would be protected, and that there was no need whatsoever for them to comply with any directions from the consul of Turkey. That was a proper thing for a Minister to do-to tell Australian citizens what their rights were. I did that, and absolutely refute that there was any connection with terrorism in any shape or form in the attendance of me and my colleagues at that meeting.