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Thursday, 18 June 2009
Page: 6609

Mr FARMER (9:51 AM) —As all in this House would be aware, I represent the seat of Macarthur out in Western Sydney. We have a population that is quite multicultural out there in Western Sydney, and because of that I am quite often asked by constituents to represent them on their immigration concerns. In the past, during the Howard government years, I have gone to the appropriate minister. I have spoken to the minister about cases which I felt needed intervention. Of course, the minister under the powers that he had was able to do just that.

However, in recent times, since we have had a change of government, those sorts of pleas have fallen on deaf ears when I have taken them to people on both sides of parliament. I am concerned that the minister is not acting in the best interests of the people of Australia. In particular, I would like to raise a case in my electorate concerning a lady by the name of Mrs Heidi Brandt, whom I recently spoke to the minister about. I sent correspondence to the minister in relation to her case. Mrs Heidi Brandt is a great contributor to the area of Macarthur. She has paid taxes for the last 30 years, since she has been in Australia, and was wishing to bring her mother out to Australia. As she is her mother’s only family left in existence, Heidi is keen to have the two of them united and to have her mother here with her family. But unfortunately this was deemed not to be the case by the immigration department.

I asked the minister to intervene, and I am of the understanding that the minister has on his desk something like 1,000 cases of representations from various members in this House that we would like the minister to look into. Unfortunately, the minister has not got around to any of them. I am of the understanding that he has not made any interventions in the course of a whole year. In fact, there is a year’s backlog of cases on his desk. So I speak in this House today to try and encourage the minister to realise his responsibilities as the minister and as the head of the department.

I call on the Hon. Chris Evans, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, to use the ministerial power that he has to intervene when it is necessary, to help various people to migrate to Australia. Obviously, he needs to analyse these cases. The immigration department does a wonderful job but not everybody fits into a box, and for that reason there is ministerial power to intervene. The ability to do this comes under section 417 of the Immigration Act. I am calling on the minister to do that in Heidi Brandt’s case, and to analyse a lot of the cases before him on his desk.