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Tuesday, 3 May 1994
Page: 2


Senator CARR —I direct a question to the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. Last September, the minister was directed by the Full Bench of the Federal Court to reconsider an application by Mr David Irving for a visitor's visa to Australia. I ask: has the minister made a decision on this matter? If so, can the minister inform the Senate of that decision?


Senator BOLKUS —I am pleased to be able to inform the Senate that I have made a decision on the application by Mr David Irving for a visa to visit Australia. As honourable senators would be aware, this matter dates back to December 1992 when Mr Irving applied for a visitor's visa to Australia to promote his latest books.

  On 8 February 1993 my predecessor, Mr Gerry Hand, rejected Mr Irving's application on the grounds that Mr Irving was likely to become involved in activities disruptive to the Australian community or a group within the Australian community. An appeal by Mr Irving against Mr Hand's decision was dismissed in the Federal Court on 13 May 1993. However, the Full Bench of the Federal Court upheld Mr Irving's appeal and ordered that that decision be set aside and the matter be returned to me for a fresh determination. That is the order to which Senator Carr refers.

  I have decided to reject Mr Irving's application on the basis that he does not meet the public interest criteria of good character in the migration regulations as they were at the time of Mr Hand's decision. As honourable senators will also be aware, new migration regulations came into effect on 1 February 1993. I was required to review this application under the regulations in effect at that time.

  These regulations enable a range of conduct to be taken into account when assessing a person's character, such as a person's past conduct. They also prescribe a number of matters which deem a person not to be of good character; for example, a deportation order or an exclusion from another country for national security reasons.

  Mr Irving was deported from Canada in November 1992 and remains inadmissible to that country. In 1993 he was excluded from Germany. Moreover, both the adjudicator of the Canadian immigration inquiry before which he appeared and the judge of the British High Court of Justice in another case earlier this year expressed doubts about the veracity of evidence he had presented.

  Back to the decision: having rejected Mr Irving on character grounds, I am not required to consider the question of whether or not a visit by Mr Irving would be disruptive to the Australian community or a group within the Australian community. I was required under the former migration regulations to consider a waiver of the good character requirement if a person failed to meet the public interest criteria only on the basis that that person was deemed not to be of good character. While I was not required to consider the waiver in this case, I have decided in any event that Mr Irving has not reformed for the purposes of the waiver.

  There was a second application about which honourable senators may have read in the media last year. Mr Irving made an application on 3 June 1993 to visit Australia. An assessment of good character was also required for this second application under the current migration legislation. This application has also been rejected. The same facts were relevant to both applications.