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Wednesday, 24 August 1983
Page: 232


Mr WEST (Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs)(10.31) —I move:

(4) Clause 11, page 4, lines 16 to 20, omit proposed sub-section (1), substitute the following sub-section:

''(1) If it appears to the Minister that the conduct (whether in Australia or elsewhere) of a person who is a non-citizen (not being a person who has been present in Australia as a permanent resident for a period of at least 10 years or for periods that, in the aggregate, amount to a period of at least 10 years) constitutes, or has constituted, a threat to the security of the Commonwealth, of a State or of an internal or external Territory, the Minister may, subject to this section, order the deportation of the person.'.'.

Amendment No. 4 inserts a new sub-section relating to the deportation of non- citizens on the basis of their conduct which constitutes or has constituted a threat to the security of Australia. The new sub-section provides a statutory immunity to permanent residents of not less than 10 years in Australia. Section 14 of the current Act allows the Minister to order the deportation of an alien- of course that obnoxious term will now be removed from the Act-or an immigrant with less than five years residency from Australia on the Minister's perception of conduct. It is a very wide power available to a Minister. There is no attempt to define aspects of such conduct. It is totally obnoxious as a section. It allows the Minister to deport on the basis of very generalised security definitions. There is a process of review by a commissioner appointed by the Governor-General with the Minister retaining the final power of decision. That is the scenario at the moment.

I, as the Minister, can say that a certain person because of conduct I do not have to explain shall not be a member of the Australian community, and I can deport him. He then has 30 days to appeal to a commissioner who must be appointed by me. I then make the final decision. When we talk about the new aspects of section 12 and section 14 with regard to criminal deportation and deportation on security grounds and make a great fuss about the 10 years, we say nothing about the fact that honourable members opposite introduced this Act in the first place and left it sitting there, stagnant and rotten, for 25 years. The Opposition now has the audacity to criticise me in the first few months of my office when I try to do something about these things yet still retain some sort of security provision.

The Migration Amendment Bill has narrowed this section to security grounds alone. That is what honourable members must get into their heads right from the start. There is no longer power on behalf of the Minister to deport anyone on grounds other than criminal activity or security. Nothing that I might dream up, no prejudice of mine, can be enacted on anyone. I repeat: The Migration Amendment Bill has narrowed section 14 to security grounds alone. We will further limit the sections of the Crimes Act under which conviction becomes a trigger for a ministerial decision to deport. I will refer to that in a moment. The Bill does not alter the right to request within 30 days a review by a commissioner or otherwise disturb that appeal system. The Government has decided to restrict further the basis for ordering deportations under section 14 (1) on security grounds by providing immunity after a permanent resident has resided in Australia for an aggregate period of 10 years, less time spent in prison. Exactly the same situation will apply to consideration of deportation on security grounds under section 14 (1) as applies to the criminal deportation procedure. If we cannot make up our minds whether anyone is a threat on security grounds after 10 years the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation must be a lot more incompetent than even I thought it was.

Shortly I will move amendments to limit the Crimes Act provisions which trigger deportations under section 14 (2) but will have the review process in place. The review process will cover persons being considered for deportation under the new sections 14 (1) and 14 (2); that is, both conduct and conviction. There will still be a right of appeal, but the 10 year period of immunity will apply only to section 14 (1); that is, the conduct provision, not the conviction provision. So the 10 year period does not pertain to those who have actually been convicted . We have moved from an extraordinarily wide and unfettered discretion under which the Minister has unbridled power to order deportation based upon a person' s alleged conduct-I am putting it this way now so before we start the arguments about section 14 we get the overall effect in advance-to a situation where the Minister may order deportation purely on security grounds with immunity after 10 years unless a conviction has occured and with an appeal provision still in place. That is the totality of what we have done. In conclusion I stress that section 14-I wish honourable members would understand this-relates to security grounds for deportation and not for criminal deportation, which is covered in section 12.