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Thursday, 22 September 1983
Page: 1172

Dr EVERINGHAM: I ask the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs: In view of the special immigration consideration which the Minister announced recently for residents of Sri Lanka, Lebanon and El Salvador, is it intended to extend similar humanitarian measures to help the many innocent people who have been affected by the recent disturbances in Chile?


Mr WEST —This Government is concerned at abuses of human rights, wherever they occur throughout the world. We have two programs in place: Firstly, the United Nations classifaction program, that is an assisted refugee program; and, secondly, a special humanitarian program to assist people with human rights difficulties from within their own country. I recently announced on behalf of the Government special measures for people from trouble spots such as El Salvador, on the one hand, and Sri Lanka on the other.

In conjunction with the Department of Foreign Affairs, my Department has been closely monitoring the latest situation in Chile. We are aware of the current trauma in that troubled country. We understand the increasing nature of transgressions against civil rights by repressive regimes, in that country, and the increasing nature of civil dissent. My colleague the Minister for Foreign Affairs has already called for internationally accepted standards of human rights to apply in Chile. Within these parameters I have decided, on behalf of the Government, to apply Australia's special humanitarian program to the Chilean situation under two categories: Firstly, to those people who have been unsuccessfully sponsored under family reunion criteria and who are in addition experiencing human rights difficulties; and secondly, to those persons in Chile with no relations in Australia but who are clearly and demonstrably suffering human rights difficulties. In conclusion, I want to say that we shall be keeping this situation under continuing review. I want the House to understand the difficulties involved in assessing people from Chile and to understand that we cannot take it as far as accepting extremely large numbers.