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- Start of Business
QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
(Mr REITH, Mr HOWE)
(Mr JENKINS, Mr WILLIS)
(Mr SINCLAIR, Mr BEAZLEY)
Catholic Social Welfare Commission
(Mr LINDSAY, Mr HOWE)
Foreign Investment Review Board
(Mr SINCLAIR, Mr WILLIS)
Domestic Aviation Industry
(Mr FITZGIBBON, Mr BEAZLEY)
(Mr ANDREWS, Mr BEAZLEY)
(Mrs JAKOBSEN, Mr STAPLES)
(Mr TAYLOR, Mr CREAN)
(Mr GAYLER, Mr SIMMONS)
(Mr ANDERSON, Mr CREAN)
Goods and Services Tax
(Mr SNOW, Mr ROBERT BROWN)
Parliament House Security
Members: Access to Parliament
- Wealth Tax
- PRESENTATION OF PAPERS
- TRADE PRACTICES COMMISSION
- LEAVE OF ABSENCE
- DISCUSSION OF MATTER OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE
- CARRIAGE OF GOODS BY SEA BILL 1991
- ELECTORAL AND REFERENDUM AMENDMENT BILL 1991
- MIGRATION AMENDMENT BILL (No. 2) 1991
- EVIDENCE BILL 1991
- CASH TRANSACTION REPORTS AMENDMENT BILL 1991
EXCISE TARIFF AMENDMENT BILL 1991
CUSTOMS TARIFF AMENDMENT BILL (No. 2) 1991]
- EXCISE TARIFF AMENDMENT BILL 1991
- CUSTOMS TARIFF AMENDMENT BILL (No. 2) 1991
- TARIFF PROPOSALS
- RICE LEVY BILL 1991
- FAMILY LAW AMENDMENT BILL (No. 2) 1991
- NATIONAL CRIME AUTHORITY AMENDMENT BILL 1991
- HEARING SERVICES BILL 1991
- ANSWER TO QUESTION
Tuesday, 15 October 1991
Mr HAND (-Minister for Immigration, Local Government and Ethnic Affairs)(4.28 p.m.) —-I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Australia must have effective immigration controls to ensure that only those persons who are entitled to enter and remain in Australia do so. This Bill contains amendments to the Migration Act 1958 which will strengthen the effectiveness of Australia's immigration controls. These amendments will place in the Migration Act a power to obtain information to identify and locate illegal entrants and create offences relating to the arrangement and use of contrived marriages or de facto relationships to obtain residence in Australia. The Bill also includes a power to limit the number of applications which may be considered within a specified class of visa or entry permit.
The Government will not tolerate the continued presence of illegal entrants in Australia. In August 1990, we introduced an enhanced compliance strategy which included measures to reduce the number of people illegally in Australia and to discourage further illegal entrants. These measures were further bolstered by the provision of additional resources in this year's Budget. They are producing results. However, additional powers are necessary to detect illegal entrants, including overstayers. The Government must be able to obtain information about their identity and location. The information gathering provisions included in the Bill will authorise the Minister to obtain information, including documents, about the identity or whereabouts of suspected illegal entrants.
Opposition members interjecting--
Mr HAND —-The Opposition might find this amusing, but it is not. However, the Government recognises that a person's privacy should not be intruded upon without clear justification. The provisions of proposed Division 1A allow information or documents to be sought only where the Minister has reason to believe that the person in relation to whom the information is sought is an illegal entrant. Furthermore, the provisions can only be used where the person from whom the information is sought is capable of providing it.
There are people who will go to extreme lengths to enter or remain in Australia. These lengths include entering into contrived marriages or de facto relationships with Australian citizens or permanent residents. While there are cases where the Australian party willingly lends himself or herself to the contrived relationship, I should also point out that there are cases where the Australian party is misled.
The use of contrived marriages or de facto relationships for obtaining residence in Australia is unacceptable. My Department, the Joint Standing Committee on Migration Regulations and the Migration Committee of the National Population Council have examined the use of contrived marriages and de facto relationships to gain residence in Australia. The result has been strong recommendations to the Government to adopt firm measures to discourage this practice.
The Government will not tolerate the activities of persons conducting business as arrangers of false marriages or de facto relationships for migration purposes. Severe penalties are necessary to punish those involved and to discourage any other persons from considering involvement in this disgraceful business. The arrangement of a non-genuine marriage or de facto relationship for migration purposes will be punishable by a penalty of 10 years imprisonment or a fine of $100,000 or both.
It is also essential that the Government discourage persons from entering into fraudulent relationships. For this reason a term of two years imprisonment may be imposed on the Australian citizen or permanent resident who is convicted of nominating another person as his or her spouse where that person has no intention of living in a genuine and continuing marital or de facto relationship. The person who applies for residence on the basis of the contrived relationship may not only be subject to two years imprisonment upon conviction, but may also be removed from Australia as an illegal entrant.
This complements the Government's earlier introduction of longer qualification periods to demonstrate the genuine and continuing nature of relationships and to discourage fraudulent relationships. I am advised that there are a number of people providing supporting statements which claim that others are in a genuine and continuing relationship when in fact they are not. It is necessary for the law to provide a check to ensure that persons making supporting statements are certain of their facts. Offences have been created for knowingly making a false or misleading statement, or making a false or misleading statement without having made sure that the statement was correct.
These offences will only be operative when the departmental form on which the supporting declaration is made contains a warning of the penalties for making such false or reckless statements. Persons wishing to provide supporting statements will be clearly warned by the notice on the form of the possible consequences if their statement is false or misleading.
Honourable members will recall my announcement on 30 April of this year of the Government's decision to introduce a special assistance category in the 1991-92 migration program. This new category has been established to target people in need who do not meet the refugee and other special humanitarian criteria but who nevertheless are considered by the Government to have special humanitarian claims on Australia. In the past these groups did not qualify under the existing program criteria.
The special assistance category will be introduced by regulation. As I announced in April, decisions will be made each year by the Government on groups which are identified as being eligible and the numbers which can be accommodated. The Government recognises that program capacities will be limited. For this reason the Bill will amend the Act to allow the Minister by gazettal to set a limit on the number of places available.
The changes proposed by clauses 4 and 5 of the Bill mean that once the announced program limit is reached, there would be no further consideration of applications. These application capping powers will only apply to those classes where use of the power is specifically permitted under the regulations. The powers are, in effect, an extension of the capping powers already found in sections 28 and 40 of the Act. As I have mentioned, their introduction is principally intended to give effect to the new special assistance category. I would not rule out the possibility of the Government using the powers in relation to other humanitarian responses which may need to be put in place in the future. We need to have available the legislative tools to respond flexibly to the growing mass movement of peoples throughout the world. Honourable members can be assured that this power will not be used in relation to preferential family cases. This would be consistent with the approach already reflected in sections 28 and 40 of the Act. Any person who lodges a fee with an application which is subject to the capping power will have the fee returned if the application falls outside the capped number.
A further amendment to be made to the Migration Act by this Bill will allow criteria in the regulations to include, by reference, matters published by notice in the Gazette from time to time. This will overcome the limitation imposed by section 49A of the Acts Interpretation Act requiring these notices to be in existence at the time the regulation is made.
In conclusion, these amendments demonstrate the Government's continued vigilance to ensure that the effectiveness of Australia's immigration controls is maintained and, where necessary, enhanced so that only those persons with a right to enter and remain in Australia may do so. The amending provisions will not impact on the costs of administering the migration program. I commend the Bill to the House and I present the explanatory memorandum to the Bill.
Mr Ruddock —-Mr Deputy Speaker, with your indulgence, may I say that the Opposition regards this legislation as very serious. The control is a matter that needs to be addressed and we will give these provisions dutiful and proper consideration in a timely fashion. I move:
That the debate be now adjourned.
Question resolved in the affirmative.