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Tuesday, 31 March 1998
Page: 2055

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

(1) What processes are used to make criminal and character checks of visa applicants from Lebanon.

(2) Has an amnesty been announced in Lebanon for convicted and suspected drug criminals; if so, what steps will be taken to ensure that convicted or suspected drug criminals whose records have been erased to not gain visas for entry into Australia.

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

(1) Applicants for visas for a stay in Australia of more than twelve months are required to obtain a police certificate from the Lebanese Internal Security Forces. The Australian Embassy in Beirut then verifies the accuracy of information provided through established liaison channels.

(2) The Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs is aware of the proclamation by the Lebanese Government of its drug amnesty law and has noted that the law also increases penalties for new offences. It would be inappropriate to release details about what is being done as a result of this announcement as it might compromise or jeopardise departmental operations. Regardless of the amnesty, there will continue to be appropriate mechanisms to protect Australia from the entry of criminals.