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Friday, 20 March 1987
Page: 1247

Mr PETER FISHER —My question is also addressed to the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. I refer the Minister to the highly publicised case of an Irish citizen, Margaret Connelly, who was recently asked to leave Australia because she had breached her working visa guidelines. How does the Minister reconcile this decision with that of Mr Adjei, a citizen of Ghana, who was deported from Australia on 19 October 1977 and has ended up back in Australia and who has been convicted of a number of criminal charges including two crimes of assault of police, dismissed from the Ford Motor Co. of Australia Ltd for assaulting fellow workers, and fined for resisting arrest and indecent language? Will the Minister ensure that the immigration guidelines he administers are administered without discrimination?

Mr YOUNG —I am not totally conversant with the cases that the honourable member has raised. I did read about the Irish lady from Tasmania. But I will certainly make inquiries about the other case which the honourable member has raised. The issue of people being deported from Australia is a very sensitive and highly controversial one. Members of parliament, together with other members of the community and community groups, become involved with specific cases. It is an area that has to be administered not only along total bureaucratic lines but also with a fair amount of compassion because that is what the Australian people would expect of this or any other government.

A lot of people in this country are here illegally. The vast majority of people who get temporary entry visas to this country abide by the law and leave before their visas terminate. But there are some who use the privilege of getting hold of a visitor visa to overstay and try to gain permanent residence illegally. The Government must remain in charge of the integrity of our migration intake. We cannot allow people from other countries to circumvent the laws we have laid down. There are problems. As honourable members will know, quite recently the Australian Citizenship Act was changed because people were gaining entry into this country, staying illegally and having families and the children who were being born here then became Australian citizens. There are many cases in which I and Ministers before me have had to face some very difficult decisions in relation to these people. In the areas where people are affected we become deeply involved. About 400 cases of people claiming refugee status go before the Determination of Refugee Status Committee every year in Australia. It is not a simple matter--

Mr Spender —Where is that?

Mr YOUNG —That is within Australia and it concerns people who are here. It is not an easy matter for the Committee simply to recognise people as being refugees because we act very much in accordance with the recommendations and the advice given to us by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and we cannot just go round declaring that, from Australia's point of view, there are other groups besides those designated by the United Nations as refugees. If there is an element of risk about any person being returned to a country, that is something on which the Australian Government, or I as Minister, will have to make a decision. I can assure honourable members that the administration of this area of our migration policy, like every other area under my administration, will be dealt with as methodically as possible, but if compassion is required that will be applied. I will look at the cases that the honourable member has raised. He has pointed to an area that is particularly sensitive and important. If government handled all cases with the willy-nilly attitude that everybody could stay here, I do not believe that the Australian people would endorse the migration decisions which have been taken by governments from both sides. I think we have to be particularly careful about those things.