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Thursday, 2 December 1976
Page: 3118

Mr INNES -My question is directed to the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. I ask: How many officers of his Department were involved in the raid on Children of God communes on the night of 29 November? How many prohibited immigrants were arrested in the raids? What was the cost of the exercise? How many communes were raided and in what States and Territories did the raids take place? Did the raids on the communes on 29 November take place with the Minister's full knowledge and approval? Were members of the Press present at any of the raids? Was the prime purpose of the raids to harass and gather information about the Children of God? Will the Minister agree that the raids constitute a blatant violation of civil rights?

Mr MacKELLAR (WARRINGAH, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs) - Acting upon information which came to my Department, visits were made to communes which were occupied by people who described themselves as 'The Children of God '. The communes are present in each of the States and the Territories. I am not sure of the actual number of communes which exist at present. I understand that no prohibited migrants were apprehended during the visits. Investigations were made into the present status of some people in the communes. They were found to hold valid visitor visas. The Department receives information from a number of sources in relation to people who are alleged to be prohibited migrants and it has a duty to investigate those claims. This was one such investigation. I do not believe that any civil liberties were infringed in any sense. I am not aware of any newspaper men being present except for a report I received that in one particular instance- I think it was at a commune in Western Australia- one newspaper man was present. I do not think I have anything to add to that.

Mr Innes - How many officers were involved?

Mr MacKELLAR - I am not sure of the number of officers involved and I have not received any estimate of the cost.

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