Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 29 March 1979
Page: 1359

Mr CALDER (Northern Territory) - Since 1975 the administration of the Passports

Act has been in the hands of the Department of Foreign Affairs. It must be realised that this Bill, the Passports Amendment Bill, seeks to amend the Passports Act 1938. Australia's passport policy is now to be provided with a proper legislative basis. The Passports Act gives a general discretionary power to issue and to refuse passports, but it provides no guidelines for doing so. This Bill provides a very necessary clarification and strengthening of the Government's policy in relation to the issue of passports. The Bill also aims to control or to counter the movement of undesirable visitors to this country. I think that that is very necessary and that it is becoming more necessary all the time with the increasing number of people visiting this country and thus the possibility of would-be terrorists, drug pedlars, extremists, and so on coming into the country.

With regard to the conditions and the requirements to enter Australia I hope that the Government will look, if need be, at the situation of people from places such as Rhodesia and other areas who require passports. Those people would make ideal immigrants to Australia, despite the fact that we have seen in the newspapers comments to the effect that, because of the racist policies of such countries, such people would be undesirable. In actual fact they would be a tremendous asset to this country in that they forged their own area out of the bush, as it were, in the same way that many of us did in Australia. They have a very sound and sane approach to life. It so happens that policies which are guided by left wing extremists and supported by other people who do not really know the true situation are tending to operate against such prospective migrants. I only hope that when the time comes, if it does, Australia will review with common sense and sympathy any applications that come from that area.

I notice that the Labor Party amendments which are to be introduced by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lionel Bowen) in most cases appear to seek to break down the penalties for infringement of the Passports Act. I notice that it is proposed to move an amendment to clause 9. Consequential amendments follow all the way through the Bill. The proposed amendment reads:

Clause 9, page S, lines 3 and 4, omit' "Imprisonment for 1 year" '.substitute' "SS00 or imprisonment for 3 months" '.

This amendment is reflected in almost all the Labor Party amendments. I might say that it appears to me that it is just another example of the Australian Labor Party policy which is aimed at breaking down the authority, the traditions, the precedents and so on, on which British law and, therefore, our law has been based. I will be rejecting those amendments when the time comes to vote on them. This Bill, as I say, is aimed to some extent at strengthening the situation in relation to members of undesirable sects who may wish to get to Australia. These are apart from undesirable individual migrants to Australia who wish to carry their individual, overseas based hostilities into this country and carry on. So I would commend the Bill in that regard. I will not deal with the clause relating to child abduction as that was dealt with so adequately by my colleague the honourable member for Kingston (Mr Chapman). It was also dealt with very well by the honourable member for Hawker (Mr Jacobi).

The new provisions of the Bill seek to deter the activities of people who may prejudice the security and welfare of other countries. We have seen that sort of thing during the past 12 months. I will not mention the names of people who were concerned in that matter because it would just rake over the sorrow again. But I think clause 8 of the Bill which amends the Act to provide that these passports shall not be given to such people whom the Minister deems would do such and such a thing under certain circumstances is a very worthy introduction to the Bill. We do have young people and others who go overseas and get themselves entangled in situations which they do not understand. They get involved in certain sects which they do not understand. They either stay overseas and bring discredit on themselves and their families or they live in situations which are really deplorable and which very often end with their deaths. I commend that clause of the Bill.

With regard to the requirement for place of binh to be stated on passports, this matter has been mentioned by previous speakers so I will not spend much time on that either. I see that application has been made and pressure exerted to remove the term place of birth. I think that if this is not on the passport, an Australian overseas will have to fill it in on various entry and exit forms anyhow. So he does have to say where he was born and everyone would know about it in any case. Therefore the pressure to have that information excluded is really quite unnecessary. While I am on my feet I would like to mention a specific instance with regard to the Department of Foreign Affairs concerning passports. I commend the officials in both Canberra and the Philippines for actions they have taken recently concerning a family of children who were striving desperately to join their parents in Australia. Through circumstances which we could not quite fathom in this country, again and again representations and finance seemed to go astray. I think it was while the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) was Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs that the representations were successfully concluded. It is nice to be able to chalk up a plus when we are beating our heads against all the reams of red tape whether it involve immigration, passports or whatever. I will not mention the names of the people in the Philippines matter but I think the officers of the Department of Foreign Affairs know of whom I speak.

Suggest corrections