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Thursday, 18 November 1976
Page: 2928


Mr Innes asked the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, upon notice:

(1)   What criteria does the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees use in determining whether a people are to be designated as refugees.

(2)   Have the displaced peoples of (a) Lebanon and (b) Chile been so designated by the United Nations; if not, can he supply details of why these peoples have failed to meet the United Nations ' criteria.

(3)   Does he designate the displaced peoples of (a) Lebanon and (b) Chile as refugees; if not, what criteria does he use in determining whether a people are to be classified as refugees.

(4)   In what respects does he see the circumstances of displaced Vietnamese as different from the circumstances of displaced Lebanese and Chileans.

(5)   In what respects do the guidelines adopted by the Government towards admittance of displaced Vietnamese differ from the guidelines adopted towards admittance of displaced Lebanese and Chileans.

(6)   How does the classification of a displaced people as refugees or non-refugees by the United Nations affect the attitude of the Government to applications to migrate to Australia.

(7)   To the best of his knowledge, how many Chileans are currently illegally resident in Australia.

(8)   Of those referred to in part (7), how many fled their country following the violent overthrow of the democratically elected Allende Government in 1 974.

(9)   Can he provide information about the likely fates of these people if they are forced to return to Chile; if not, will he seek the information from Amnesty International and make it available to the House.

(10)   Can he say whether many South American countries are deporting Chileans who fled from the violence of 1 974.

(11)   What is the Government's attitude to applications for permanent residency by Chilean emigrants who entered Australia on temporary permits from countries other than Chile.

(   12) Is the Government preparing to deport Chileans who are currently illegally resident in Australia; if so, how many people are liable for deportation.


Mr MacKellar - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   In accordance with Article 1 (2) of the general provisions of the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees adopted on 28 July 1951, the term refugee' applies to any person who 'owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it '

Under the Convention, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is charged with the task of supervising international conventions providing for the protection of refugees. (2 (a) I understand that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees does not recognise displaced Lebanese as coming within Article 1 (2) of the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees,

(b)   The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has accorded refugee status to some Chileans outside Chile, presumably because their situation conforms with the terms of Article 1 (2).

(3)   The Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs has no mandate to so describe a person or a class of persons. Such a designation would not necessarily confer advantage in the matter of entry to Australia. Normally, persons accorded UNHCR refugee status are eligible to be considered for entry but equally so are people from refugee-type situations who have not been recognised by the UNHCR. Each situation is considered on its merits.

(4)   Each group is entitled to humanitarian consideration. Australia has accepted people from all three situations.

(5)   The acceptance of people from refugee or quasirefugee situations is governed by principles of humanity, equity and compassion and by the Australian people's economic, social and cultural capacity to successfully accept and integrate such migrants.

(6)   See (3).

(7)   An accurate figure is not available but it is estimated that approximately 130 Chilean nationals are in Australia illegally.

(8)   It will not be possible to ascertain the reasons these people left Chile until such time as they are located and interviewed.

(9)   There is no evidence to suggest that those persons mentioned in (7) above would be subjected to persecution if returned to Chile.

(10)   No.

(11)   The Government's attitude to applications from Chileans is the same as towards all other applications. Normal change of status policy would apply.

(12)   Yes. Deportation orders have been signed against 30 Chilean nationals illegally resident in Australia. Other cases are under consideration.







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