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Wednesday, 16 November 1983
Page: 2800


Mr WEST (Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs)(4.32) —The matter the honourable member for North Sydney (Mr Spender) has raised can be clarified and perhaps, if there is any substance in what he alleges, it can be addressed during the further review I have promised after the Human Rights Commission report is brought down. I do not wish to take up further time in summing up except to say that I hope the members of the Opposition in this place and in the Senate will look very closely at what we have done with regard to amended sections 12, 13 and 14 of the Migration Act, which relate, of course, to criminal deportation procedures and deportation on security grounds.

We have removed the discrimination between immigrants and aliens and removed the positive discrimination in favour of immigrants whereby they were not deportable after five years. That is the weakness in the Opposition's argument. Although the Opposition deplores the fact that people will not be deportable after 10 years, unless convicted of certain security related crimes, it has failed totally to address the fact that the previous Government let endure for many years a situation in which immigrants could not be deported after five years. We have altered that situation. We have taken out the tremendous anomaly in section 14 which allowed the Minister to deport virtually anyone whose conduct he considered rendered him unfit to remain in Australia. We have given form and clarity to security provisions, with one exception. As I have said, if the Senate were very concerned, it should have sent back an amendment dealing with espionage grounds and we would have considered it. We can consider such an amendment in the future; I cannot consider it now.

Finally, we have created under proposed new sections 12, 13 and 14 of the Act quite clear guidelines for deportation without discrimination. Firstly, we deal with deportation of those who have been convicted for one year or more on criminal charges. After 10 years, of course, they are not liable to deportation. We have proposed another clear section-there are no grey areas as there were before-dealing with the Minister's discretion to deport someone on general security grounds under 10 years. After 10 years a person is free from deportaton unless convicted under the Crimes Act. If there are further discrepancies in that convictions for certain offences always render a person deportable, a lot of the fault, as I have explained, lies in the Crimes Act. In my opinion that Act is clearly in need of review. As I have said, it is an ongoing thing. We will be addressing the civil libertarian aspects of the Bill once they are identified by the Human Rights Commission and I have had a chance to examine them.

Question put:

That the amendment be disagreed to.