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Wednesday, 22 June 1994
Page: 1881


Senator BOLKUS —Earlier in question time today, Senator Short asked me a question in respect of a couple of Afghan people. Senator Short referred to correspondence to Senator Robert Ray in May 1989 and a reply from him on 17 May 1989, and tabled that correspondence. I have been informed that there was quite some time between that correspondence and Mr Miakhel's coming into Australia.

  Mr Miakhel was granted a special humanitarian visa in New Delhi. An application for it was lodged in August 1992—some three and a bit years after that correspondence to Senator Ray was sent and responded to. It was approved in March 1993 and the person involved came into Australia on 17 April 1993, some four years after that correspondence. So it is quite obvious that Senator Ray was not the minister at the time. I am informed by him that correspondence was forwarded to the department for its normal assessment processes. In respect of that particular person, his wife was the principal applicant. She was a former permanent resident in Australia and still has a number of family members who are well established in Australia. So that was the context of that application.

  I should also state that, in cases where applications are made overseas, there is a post-check that the successful applicants, even under humanitarian programs, are of good character. That is the point I made earlier. Even with this further information, the government is looking further into this matter. All these applicants are assessed on character grounds. It is very much this particular aspect of the checking that we are looking into.