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Thursday, 24 March 1994
Page: 2157

Senator BOLKUS (Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Multicultural Affairs) (11.24 a.m.) —I can tell Senator Short what drove me in making my decision. He can compare that to what might be on the record in terms of 1989 and work out what circumstances changed. What drove me in making my decision was the feeling on my part, which was shared by the government, that people who obtain refugee status here need to have certainty in their lives. They need to be able to fit into the community as much as possible and to be able to establish new lives for themselves as soon as possible. That is what drove me. There were no external circumstances that affected my decision making, nor that of cabinet, on this particular matter. As to what drove the 1989 decision, I will have to go back to the records and look at that.

Senator Short —I think what the minister is really saying is that he had a different view on the matter to the then minister in 1989, who I think was Senator Robert Ray. I think that is what he is saying, is it not?

Senator BOLKUS —Let us say we came up with a different direction. As I said, we can go back and look at his motivating considerations but there might have been other factors involved in 1989 which are not at my fingertips and obviously are not at Senator Short's. But in 1993 I would say that all members of the government supported the direction that we took.