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Bolkus must reverse disgraceful Villawood refusal decision

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Senator Jim Short

Shadow Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs

Assisting the Leader on Multicultural Affairs

MAIC 20/94


The refusal by the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs Senator Bolkus to allow a bipartisan New South Wales Parliamentary delegation of more than 20 Members of Parliament to visit the Villawood Detention Centre in Sydney is extraordinary and disgraceful.

The Minister should immediately reverse this totally unacceptable decision. It is intolerable for Senator Bolkus to prevent elected Members of Parliament from carrying out the duties for which they were elected. Although the Detention Centre is a Commonwealth facility, members of State Parliaments have a basic right to access to it in the interests not only of the detainees but also of their constituents in the wider community.

What has Senator Bolkus got to hide at Villawood? Why is he running scared on this issue?

It is clear from the Minister's recent performance and actions that he has lost control of both the policy and administration of his portfolio. He and his Department have lost numerous court cases. He is now so fearful of losing another High Court case that he has introduced pre-emptive legislation to circumvent an expected unfavourable Court decision.

To compound his mounting problems, the Minister is also facing possible contempt charges as a result of his maladministration.

In the meantime, the integrity of Australia's immigration program, and Australia's. international reputation, suffers.

Canberra, 20 June 1994 For further information contact Senator Short on (02) 277 3119 IIIM11111 ~ COMMONWEALTH