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Tuesday, 18 September 2012
Page: 10992

Mustafa, Mr Taji

Ms JULIE BISHOP (CurtinDeputy Leader of the Opposition) (14:00): My question is to the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship. I remind the minister that, in 2005, British citizen and radical preacher Abdur Raheem Green was prevented from visiting Australia by the Howard government to speak at a conference at the Lakemba Mosque because he was on the Movement Alert List. Given that Hizb ut-Tahrir has advocated the military destruction of Israel and condoned the killing of Australian soldiers in Afghanistan, why is its UK leader, Taji Mustafa, not on the Movement Alert List?

Mr BOWEN (McMahonMinister for Immigration and Citizenship) (14:01): I sincerely thank the Deputy Leader of the Opposition for her question. It goes to the activities and steps taken by the Howard government in relation to Hizb ut-Tahrir. That was the question put to me—about the approach taken by the Howard government. These are issues that have received some public attention in the past. For example, on 29 January, 2007, on the John Laws program, these issues were given some public airing. Somebody very eloquently put the case about why Hizb ut-Tahrir had not been proscribed and why—

Ms Julie Bishop: Madam Deputy Speaker, I rise on a point of order on relevance. The minister was asked why Taji Mustafa has not been placed on the Movement Alert List. The question about the Howard government related to another issue.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms AE Burke ): The Deputy Leader of the Opposition will resume her seat. The minister has the call.

Mr BOWEN: The Deputy Leader of the Opposition went to the 'very strong approach' taken by the Howard government in relation to this. On 29 January 2007 somebody very eloquently put the case as to why people who are guest speakers of Hizb ut-Tahrir or members of Hizb ut-Tahrir would not automatically be denied a visa. The speaker said this:

… because there is often a thin line between stupid extravagant language and language which is deliberately designed to incite violence or to bring about violence or to threaten the security of a country … and people can say a lot of ridiculous things and they should be able to say ridiculous things in a democracy.

Well said, John Howard! He defended why Hizb ut-Tahrir was not proscribed and why guest speakers were allowed in. He was referring to a particular case. It is well known that I have been critical of my predecessor, the member for Menzies, in relation to his ham-fisted dealings with the character test of Mohamed Haneef which resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars of compensation being paid.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! The minister will return to the question before the chair.

Mr BOWEN: Madam Deputy Speaker, the question goes to precedents and how these matters should be handled. I am going to give credit to the member for Menzies because he too has had to consider some of these matters. When he was asked why he agreed to Mr Yusanto, a speaker from Hizb ut-Tahrir, being admitted to Australia he said, 'I am satisfied that all relevant checks were undertaken prior to the granting of Mr Yusanto's visa.' I table the letter from the member for Menzies when he was Minister for Immigration and Citizenship. The hypocrisy of the opposition is writ large for all to see.

Ms JULIE BISHOP (CurtinDeputy Leader of the Opposition) (14:04): Madam Deputy Speaker, I ask a supplementary question. Is the minister concerned that organisations such as Hizb ut-Tahrir are encouraging extremist views in Australia's Muslim community? If so, why hasn't he placed Taji Mustafa on the Movement Alert List?

Mr BOWEN (McMahonMinister for Immigration and Citizenship) (14:04): Yet again the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is either misunderstanding or deliberately misrepresenting the Migration Act of Australia. Just because an organisation holds views that we would all disagree with and, indeed, find abhorrent does not mean that every single individual who is a member of this group or a guest speaker of this group could be denied a visa on character grounds under the Migration Act. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition either deliberately misrepresents the act or misunderstands it. I am more than happy to outline the actions that I have taken in relation to this. I inquired into whether Mr Mustafa had any relevant criminal convictions. He did not. I inquired into whether he is a member of a proscribed organisation. He is not. Methodically and in accordance with the law, I took all the relevant steps required—just as I have done in relation to the 27 visas that I have personally cancelled on character grounds. As a result, not one dollar of compensation has had to be paid to an individual who has had a character test invoked improperly—more than can be said for some of your friends.