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Wednesday, 30 June 1999
Page: 8037


Mr Danby asked the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, upon notice, on 8 June 1999:

(1) Has his attention been drawn to recent allegations in Senate Estimates hearings concerning the deportation of an eight and a half month pregnant woman to China; if so, is he able to say what (a) are her whereabouts and (b) is her condition.

(2) Has the woman had contact with officers of his Department since her deportation; and if so, (a) what was the nature of the contact, (b) when did the contact occur and (c) are there letters, notes, memoranda or other correspondence concerning the contact; if so, will he provide copies of the correspondence; and if he will not, why not.

(3) Has he or his Department had contact with the relevant officials of the People's Republic of China concerning the matter before and since the deportation; if so, (a) what was the nature of the contact, (b) when did the contact occur and (c) are there letters, notes, memoranda or other correspondence concerning the contact; if so, will he provide copies of the correspondence; if he will not, why not.

(4) Did the Government undertake to protect and preserve the woman's physical safety before she was deported; if so, what measures has his department taken to fulfil the undertaking.

(5) Was the woman sedated at or about the time she was deported; if so (a) by whom, (b) with what medication, (c) what dose was administered, (d) did officers of his department forcibly restrain her to enable sedation to be administered; if so, who were they and (e) will he take steps to prevent a recurrence; if so, what steps.


Mr Ruddock (Immigration and Multicultural Affairs; Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Reconciliation) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)—(5) I am aware of the allegations concerning the woman, which are the subject of an independent Inquiry which I announced on 10 May 1999. This Inquiry is being undertaken by Mr Tony Ayers AC, a distinguished former public servant. Under the Inquiry's terms of reference, Mr Ayers will "examine, assess, and make findings and recommendations as appropriate, on all processes and procedures of the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (DIMA) relating to (the woman's) case;". The allegations will also be examined by the Senate Legal and Constitutional References Committee inquiry into Australia's refugee and humanitarian program. I understand that the woman in question has returned to Beihai where she has relatives, and that she and her small daughter are in good health. However, it would not be appropriate for me to pre-empt the findings of either inquiry by responding on other matters raised.