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Tuesday, 31 March 1998
Page: 2054

Mr Martin Ferguson asked the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, upon notice, on 2 March 1998:

(1) What surveys has his Department conducted into community attitudes to deporting foreign nationals who have been convicted for serious crime including those who have resided in Australia for more than ten years and what advice has his Department provided on the matter.

(2) How do the provisions of Australian law relating to the deportation of foreign nationals convicted for serious crime compare with those of other nations.

(3) Is he able to say how many nations (a) observe a statute of limitations on the deportation of foreign nationals convicted for serious crime and (b) deport foreign nationals for crimes committed (i) only in the country of residence or (ii) in other countries.

(4) What action will he take on the deportation from Australia of foreign nationals convicted for serious crime.

(5) Has he discussed with the Attorney-General making changes to the relevant legislation retrospective.

Mr Ruddock (Immigration and Multicultural Affairs) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) The Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs provides me with a monthly report on community attitudes to topical issues of relevance to my portfolio. Past issues have included reporting on community attitudes to the deportation of foreign nationals. For example, my Department sought community reaction to the government's decision to deport a permanent Australian resident and convicted criminal, Mr Archie McCafferty, to the United Kingdom. This was reported in April 1997. In September 1997 community feedback was sought on this Government's efforts to exclude foreign criminals from Australia. More recently, following passage on 18 November 1997 of the Migration Legislation Amendment Bill (Strengthening of Provisions relating to Character and Conduct) Bill 1997, I received community views on the Bill. The Joint Standing Committee on Migration is also canvassing community opinions which will be reflected in its report on its Inquiry into Criminal Deportation.

(2) Deportation laws of other countries are similar in many respects to the provisions of Australian law relating to the deportation of foreign nationals convicted for serious crime. Because of its bulk, information on a representative group of countries which has been received from Australian missions abroad has been provided separately to the honourable member.

(The information is too bulky to be published in Hansard . A copy of the papers is available at the House of Representatives Table Office.)

(3) In relation to countries listed at Part (2) above, those with definitive responses are as follows:


(a) observe statute of limitations

(b) deport for crimes committed

in law

in practice

in country of residence

in other countries


Nothing in legislation



Persons with "undesirable background" subject to exclusion








Length of residence taken into consideration


Status considered under provisions of security and public health interests




Depends on circumstances of the case

Depends on circumstances of the case

(4) I will consider for deportation any non-citizen present in Australia who commits an offence which brings that non-citizen within the powers conferred by the Migration Act 1958. This is a discretionary power which will only be exercised after consideration of all the relevant facts and the merits of the case.

(5) No. Any such discussions would not be appropriate prior to the Joint Standing Committee on Migration submitting its report.