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Wednesday, 3 December 1986
Page: 3283

Senator McINTOSH(5.06) —The report of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence justifies its use of the term `border crossers' by saying that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has not officially determined their status. It seems to me a rather highly legalistic way to avoid identifying the reality of why 12,000 people from the Indonesian province of Irian Jaya have left their land and fear to return. The term `border crossers' is quite misleading and throws no light on the reasons for their presence in Papua New Guinea.

Page 3 of the report states that the visit to the camps provided insights into the various motives and concerns of the border crossers. I wish the report had shared this insight with us. However, there is a minority report. I note the minority report of the honourable member for Hotham, Lewis Kent, and Senator Bolkus. The key omissions from the body of the report are included in their minority report. But I cannot agree with their claim that racism is the key reason why Australia will not take refugees from Irian Jaya. If they had said that the reason was that we do not want to upset Jakarta by acknowledging that people from Irian Jaya have reason to flee their land, I think they may have been closer to the point. I seek leave to continue my remarks later, for the sole purpose of allowing my colleague Senator Bolkus, who is attending the United Nations now, to contribute to the debate on this report. I would like to hear his views on this matter.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.