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Monday, 30 March 1987
Page: 1509

Senator TATE (Special Minister of State)(10.50) —Very briefly in reply to the honourable senators who have contributed to tonight's adjournment debate, Senator Newman raised the question of the immigration to Australia of a doctor from South Africa together with his wife, a qualified nurse. Senator Newman made out a case for the benefits that will flow to a small community in northern Tasmania called Beaconsfield, if it were to be serviced by the doctor purchasing the practice there, and doing so in the near future as the resident country doctor is moving away from that practice. I shall bring her request for a speedy resolution of this matter to the attention of the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr Young). I am sure I would be echoing what she has heard already from the Minister's office if I were to apologise for the somewhat tardy response to some of her written requests for a response. Clearly the phone call that she eventually made should have been made a lot earlier. I do not say that by way of reprimand but simply say that that is the way to get action.

One point in Senator Newman's remarks requires some rebuttal on behalf of the Government. I suggest that to deal with this couple as illustrative of what she called a very deliberative policy to frustrate the migration of white South Africans to Australia is rather overstating and exaggerating the instance that she has come across.

Senator Newman —Why are they deliberately leaving it understaffed?

Senator TATE —I do not think they are deliberately leaving it understaffed. In relation to the Royal Hobart Hospital I made representations late last year in much the same situation. It has been the case that the swamping of South African consular and embassy officials by requests from South Africans to migrate to Australia has led to bottlenecks, which occasionally need to be unblocked by the sort of representations which Senator Newman has made and which I hope will bear fruit. But to say that this is evidence of a deliberate policy to frustrate migration of white South Africans is quite false.

Senator Michael Baume raised a matter of which I was not aware, apparently an allegation raised by Mr Hollis in another place. Senator Michael Baume asked in the course of his remarks what redress members had in such a situation. I think that tonight's debate is perhaps the most obvious way in which a senator can seek redress, and that is by making the sort of extended personal explanation that we have heard from Senator Michael Baume. I am unable to make any judgment on the matter. I only hope that the elements of falsity in the saga relate to the story rather than to Senator Baume's teeth in this whole unhappy matter. The honourable senator's vigorous defence will stand by itself in the Hansard and no doubt is as adequate a redress as senators normally avail themselves of in these situations. I do not accept that the Government, either in the Cabinet room or at Caucus level, has singled out Senator Michael Baume for destruction. I am certainly not aware of any such policy. I think that it overstates the importance of the Waste Watch Committee in the deliberations of government for that rather egotistical assumption to be made by Senator Michael Baume as the explanation for Mr Hollis's remarks.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Senate adjourned at 10.54 p.m.