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Thursday, 24 March 1994
Page: 2153

Senator BOLKUS (Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Multicultural Affairs) (11.00 a.m.) —We were conscious that the issues were alive and running. Senator Short was one of those who, at the time, were calling on us to address the issue of PRC nationals and to do so sooner rather than later. I think I am on record a number of times—at the particular time that we had to address deferring the legislation—as saying that I would like to address the decision on PRC nationals earlier rather than later. The boat people decision has been an ongoing one, as the parliament knows. It is one that I worked through exhaustively in the first 12 months in this portfolio. It has been with me from day one, I suppose, when matters relating to that decision became very prominent in my considerations. So, yes, those two issues were always around.

  The request I made to the secretary, and he developed this request with me, to assess the adequacy of implementation resources and capacity of the legislation was a decision we made very early in the piece. I think it was within the first few weeks of my being in the portfolio. I was very keen then to ensure that, when the legislation came into place, it could work effectively and adequately. So the three decisions were always with us. I do not know what Senator Short is trying to get at.