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Keating haunted by Hawke

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

Electorate Parliament House

Tel: (02) 858 1011 Fax: (02) 804 6739 Tel: (06) 277 4343 Fax: (06) 277 2062


The former Prime Minister's decision to give blanket protection to the Chinese nationals here before the Tienanmen Square massacre, is again coming back to haunt the Keating Government in Refugee Week.

Claims are being made again by some that this decision be used as a precedent for putting aside the proper decision making process for determining entitlement to asylum and protection.

That we may have been involved in a war in Vietnam over 15 years ago, is not a proper factor to be considered in the determination of claims for refugee status. Such an approach would only serve to undermine the entire process.

Feelings of remorse can be better expressed in other decisions such as the direction of aid and a commitment to the peace process and so on.

Those who have a real interest in ensuring that Australia has a continuing role to play in these matters, have a responsibility to ensure that the past mistakes are not compounded. It should be recalled that many PRC Nationals have not yet been asked to demonstrate that they have an individual claim for protection.

I have recently returned from Cambodia and made a first hand assessment of the situation facing most Khmer. There is at this time, no need for temporary arrangements to be put in place to postpone the return of screened out Cambodian asylum seekers.

With the unfortunate resumption of hostilities in some remote areas of Cambodia there is no immediate threat to the more than 80% of Cambodia clearly in the hands of the State of Cambodia (the SOC).

Obviously the situation needs to be kept under close review and if there is a material change in circumstances, then clearly this position should be re-assessed.

17 June 1992