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Non-familial emotional interdependency

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Philip Ruddock MP Federal Member for Dundas Shadow Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs

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

Electorate Parliament House

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

May 7 1991


The Opposition, at the earliest opportunity will move to disallow regulations 17, 19, 28 and 31 of the Migration Regulations Amendments No.60 of 1991.

These regulations, in the words of the Government, provide for the grant of permanent residence to a person who has established a genuine continuing non-familial interdependent relationship with an Australian citizen or permanent resident.

The issue of entry to Australia of homosexual partners of Australian citizens and residents is not new.

The Opposition is aware that for some time Ministerial discretion has been exercised to admit a limited number of homosexual partners for entry onĀ­ shore on compassionate grounds.

Our approach to this issue is non-discriminatory in that no applicant under any of the available categories for entry now in place should be

discriminated against because of his/her sexual preference.

The Opposition affirmed its view that the existing arrangements whereby ministerial discretion and judgement is used to allow entry where strong and compelling compassionate reasons for admission have been advanced, be reaffirmed.

The issue of a visa for entry however on the basis of homosexual relationship alone is of a different character.

This was recognised by the all-party joint committee on Migration Regulations when it said, in November 1989,

"It's the Committee's view that the provision of specific category of visa for homosexuals does not reflect current policy or practice. The Committee argues that, although homosexuals should not be discriminated against for migrant entry, neither should they be

specifically advantaged. In the past in exceptional cases where an application is based on a relationship with a strong and compelling compassionate ground, or like grounds which apply to all relationships,

entry has been disallowed."

The Opposition remains of the view that the most appropriate way to deal with a small number of cases where there does exist strong and compelling compassionate reasons should be by a proper exercise of ministerial discretion. We are opposed to a broad visa class where 6 months

relationship, prima facie will enable an application to be pursued.

To treat homosexual partners on exactly the same basis as the relationship between husband and wife would be to create a precedent of considerable significance.

Homosexual partners are not regarded as spouses for tax purposes, social security benefits or other family based entitlements.

The homosexual visa class will also create serious questions of fairness and equity. Numerous closely bonded family members, such as brothers and sisters are denied preferential family reunion available to spouses and de- factos.

Concessional family re-union involves entry only after quite rigorous points testing requirements based upon education, skills, age and employability are satisfied.

The number of brothers and sisters who aspire to entry are so significant that relaxed criteria would lead to an avalanche of applications.

While so many immediate family members are excluded from entry, relaxed criteria involving only six months co-habitation for homosexual partners is impossible to justify on grounds of fairness, reasonableness and equity.

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