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Labour leadership vacuum leaves immigration program in disarray

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Philip Ruddock MP S3

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



The constant vying for the leadership of the Labour Party has left a vacuum in which no competent policy decisions can be made.

Minister for Immigration Hand has occupied himself with propping up his failing Prime Minister rather than addressing the very urgent problems o f the immigration program.

There is the "non-decision" to scrap the business migration program on August 2 with no new arrangements in place. It is hard to understand why it was not possible to disband the scheme on the day it was announced (namely July 25), and to have in place regulations and infrastructure to allow the new Business Skills category to operate.

The Minister was aware for some time of the general direction o f the Public Accounts Committee recommendations. There was plenty of time to ensure a smooth transition from the old to the new regime.

Further, there is the imminent collapse of border control and compliance measures witnessed by the huge number of illegal entrants in Australia. The Minister has failed to respond to substantial allegations that large numbers of people are entering Australia

illegally across the Torres Straits.

H e has been unable to take any decisions to counteract the consequences o f his Prime Minister's appalling decision regarding the Chinese students.

This has led to the collapse of the refugee determination process. People claiming asylum in Australia are kept waiting for an interminable period for their applications to be processed. The enormous backlog of claims, amounting to over 16,000, is clearly prejudicing those who have genuine and substantive claims for protection.

All of this is occurring because of Labour's internal leadership dispute. Minister Hand, despite the fact that he will not contest the next election, has a clear obligation to keep his mind on the job.

July 28 1991 'COMMONWEALTH