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Extension of Yugoslavian visitors visas



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Philip Ruddock MP

2>1

Federal Member for Dundas Shadow Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs

Electorate Tel: (02) 858 1011 Fax: (02) 804 6739

Parliament House Tel: (06) 277 4343 Fax: (06) 277 2062

EXTENSION OF YUGOSLAVIAN VISITORS VISAS

Minister Hand's decision yesterday to allow visitors from Yugoslavia currently in Australia to extend their stay until December 31, 1991 is, in the present circumstances in the Balkans, justified and appropriate. It is similar to the decisions taken in the past effecting Lebanese and Sri Lankan nationals.

Obviously it is hoped that the situation in Yugoslavia will be resolved peacefully and that further extensions will not be required.

As questions have been asked about eligibility for refugee status, it is timely to , restate that the formal requirements to establish such status would normally preclude individual dislocation in a conflict of this type. This should not however suggest that any individual who can substantiate a well-founded fear of persecution

under the terms of the international convention should not have his or her claim considered on a case-by-case basis.

Any decision involving extended temporary entry should have regard to the difficulties that have arisen when the long standing principles for determination of such matters individually have been cast aside by political considerations.

One other option would be to access the new special assistance category announced in this year's immigration program. To date, however, the Minister has not provided any information as to whom and under what criteria eligibility for this category will be determined.

It is timely at a point when there is an understandable fear of escalation of hostilities, and the already tragic loss of life, that Australians from the Balkans continue to act with the utmost restraint. It is a measure of the commitment of Croatian, Slovenian and Serbian Australians to this country that there has not been an emotionally hostile reaction within Australia to these tragic events.

A commitment to Australia first and foremost requires acceptance of the rule of law and while people from the Balkans properly take a real and continued interest in the disturbing events within Yugoslavia, restraint must still be the guiding .principle.

August 6 1991 COMMONWEALTH

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