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Wednesday, 28 February 1973
Page: 53


Mr GRASSBY (Riverina) (Minister for Immigration) - I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

The Bill which I now introduce to the House is designed to make changes to the Migration Act which are necessary as part of the Government's policy to remove all forms of racial discrimination. The effect of the current legislation may be summarised as follows:

(i)   An Aboriginal who is subject to any control, disability or restriction under the laws of the State or Territory in which he resides requires a permit to leave Australia;

(ii)   the Minister for Immigration nevertheless has power to make an order declaring that a particular Aboriginal does not require a permit to leave Australia even though he is subject to control; and

(iii)   it is an offence to help an Aboriginal to whom the section applies to leave Australia without a permit (penalty $1,000 or 6 months' imprisonment); and carrier companies must not 'without reasonable excuse' permit such an Aboriginal to leave Australia in their ships or aircraft (penalty $1,000).

Controls on Aborigines as such have now been lifted in all States and in the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory. With a view to ratification of the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination it is necessary that this legislative provision, which is discriminatory on racial grounds, be removed.

In order to implement the changes referred to, repeal of section 64 of the Migration Act is necessary. The other amendments are purely drafting amendments consequential upon the repeal of section 64 of the Act. The action of the Government in making the repeal of these discriminatory provisions one of its first legislative acts is a token of our determination to banish racial discrimination within our community and is also a step towards building on equal terms the family of the nation in citizenship. It is our unequivocal view that there should be no distinctions between citizens before the law. This is one of the key steps to achieve that position. This repeal is also a recognition that such restrictive provisions on the national statute book constitute an affront to the Aboriginal people of the nation now emerging to new dignity and progress. It will also at long last enable us to ratify the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination. I commend the Bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr Lynch) adjourned.







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