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Wednesday, 13 October 1971
Page: 2337


Mr Daly asked the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Immigration, upon notice:

(1)   What is the procedure for citizens of the United States of America to obtain visitors' visas to enter Australia.

(2)   ls any inquiry made or evidence required that the applicants have made arrangements or propose to depart in accordance with the terms of the visa.

(3)   If so, what assurances were received and what inquiries were made regarding the application lodged by Mr James Edward O'Leary and his family for a 2-day visitors' visa.

(4)   What action has been taken to prevent a repetition of this case.


Mr Lynch - The Acting Minister for Immigration has supplied the following answer to the honourable member's questions:

(1)   Applications for visitor visas must be submitted usually to an Australian visa issuing office, together with passports. Applicants must satisfy the office of their bona fides as visitors and that adequate funds are available for their maintenance in Australia and for return or onward fares. Applications are usually decided on the basis ot information supplied on the application forms or in conjunction with other supporting documents submitted. Personal interviews are not necessary as a rule but may be required if strong doubts about an applicant's intentions exist.

(2)   Such enquiries are not made as a nile prior to visa issue but visas would not be granted if serious doubts existed in this respect.

It is frequently necessary to issue visitor visas urgently without full opportunity to check the good faith of applicants.

Action is taken departmentally to follow up the departures of those visitors (the minority) who do not depart within the validity of their temporary entry permits.

(3)   The 0'Lear family had arrived in Fiji from Hawaii by air with tickets for onward movement to Australia. The airline would not carry them on to Australia unless visas were issued.

Mr 0'Lear,through the American Vice Consul in Suva, applied to the Australian High Commission there for urgent issue of visas for a two day visit to Australia on the basis that they would bc leaving on a boat owned by them in Sydney. Neither the American Vice Consul nor the Australian High Commission had prior knowledge of the family. They were at Nadi Airport and the Australian High Commission in Suva did not have an opportunity to see them. As pointed out in the reply to (2) it is frequently necessary to issue visitor visas urgently without full opportunity to check the good faith of the applicants and the Australian High Commission granted two day visas as requested.

(4)   More rigorous visa procedures would considerably inconvenience many genuine visitors. Most countries allow short-term visitors to enter without having to obtain visas at all. Australia allows entry for solely transit purposes without visas but otherwise maintains the visa requirement, mainly to avoid an influx of spurious visitors and numerous and expensive deportations. However, our visa procedures must continue also to avoid excessive formalities and delays if we are not to discourage tourism severely. Some risktaking is inevitable and cases such as that of the O'Lear family are too infrequent to warrant the difficulties for travellers generally which would result from drastic changes in procedures. Carriers and visa issuing officers have been warned that the O'Lear family will not be admitted to Australia again.

Deportation and Repatriation: Mr J. Q. O'Lear and Family (Question No. 4301)


Mr Daly asked the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Immigration, upon notice:

(1)   What was the full cost to the Commonwealth for the deportation of Mr James Edward O'Leary and his family.

(2)   Has it yet been ascertained whether the State of Hawaii paid the family's fares to Australia knowing they were not en route to Guam as stated.

(3)   Will the State of Hawaii or the Government of the United States of America be requested to reimburse the cost of the deportation of this family; if not, why not.


Mr Lynch - The Acting Minister for Immigration has supplied the following answer to the honourable member's questions:

(1)   The cost to the Commonwealth for returning Mr James Edward 0'Lear (alias 0'Leary) and his family to Hawaii amounted to $5,176.93. Mr O'Lear was deported; his wife and children were repatriated at Australian Government expense. The break-down of the expenditure was as follows:

 

(2)   The Slate of Hawaii did not pay the family's fares to Australia. Mr O'Lear himself met the cost of the fares of the family to Australia from Honolulu.

(3)   Mr O'Learhad to be deported after he refused to apply to the U.S. authorities for repatriation or to leave voluntarily otherwise. Deportation costs have to be borne either by the Commonwealth (or in certain circumstances, not applicable to Mr O'Lear's return to Hawaii, by the carrier who brought the person to Australia). Mrs O'Lear and the remainder of the family were returned to Hawaii at Commonwealth expense only after the U.S. authorities bad decided not to repatriate them.







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