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Wednesday, 24 August 1983
Page: 208

Mr HODGMAN(5.58) —I say at the outset that the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr West) is correct when he says that the Government does have a mandate for this legislation. Therefore, I indicate that it will not be opposed. That is not to say that there will not be stringent criticism of certain aspects of the legislation which, unfortunately, confirm a pattern which has been evident since the honourable member assumed the position of Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. In the robust exchange of parliamentary debate I do not mind conceding that I have always had a sneaking regard for the Minister, particularly in relation to his strongly held, although in my view somewhat radical, political views. I have never doubted for one moment his integrity. But I have to say that if ever there was a case for renaming a Minister and his ministry it is here and now because this Minister ought to be renamed the Minister who is determined not to exercise his discretion.

As I said on a previous occasion in this House, one of the first things the Minister did was to eliminate any ministerial discretion whatsoever in relation to persons who were in Australia on a visa and who wished to obtain permanent resident status unless they entered into holy matrimony. We are not debating that tonight. But that Minister effectively scrubbed from his desk this year 12, 000 to 15,000 anticipated cases. I think his predecessors in the last year had about 12,000 cases all of which they looked at. In about 1,000 of those cases approval was given for permanent resident status.

Tonight we are determining the new procedure which will apply in relation to the deportation of persons from Australia. The Minister has correctly made the point, and the Opposition does not cavil with it, that there was a dichotomy within the legislation which has troubled some people and which, on the face of it, was clearly discriminatory. All persons in Australia who are not Australian citizens, under the law as it stands at this moment, are categorised as either immigrants or aliens. Immigrants effectively are those people who come to Australia from the United Kingdom, Ireland and various other Commonwealth countries. Those who have come from other countries are classified as aliens. The law states that those who are in Australia as aliens will always be liable to deportation at any point of time regardless of whether they have been in Australia for five years, 15 years or 20 years. Under the legislation as it now stands immigrants are not liable to deportation after they have been in Australia for a period of five years.

The effect of the legislation introduced by the Minister on behalf of the Hawke socialist Government will be that the distinction in definition will be removed and that all people will be safe from deportation in general circumstances after they have been permanently resident in Australia for a total period of 10 years- that is, either in one period of 10 years or, in the case of those who pick up a few gaol sentences on the way, 10 years in the aggregate of their time as guests of Her Majesty not counting towards that 10-year period. It is conceded that the then Opposition, through its spokesman on immigration and ethnic affairs, the honourable member for Port Adelaide, (Mr Young) and others, prior to going to the people on 5 March made it quite clear that there would be moves in this direction. On that point the now Opposition in this Parliament accepts that there is a mandate.

But what will we now see? Let us spell it out in simple terms. After a person has been in Australia for 10 years, unless he indulges in treason, sedition or a like offence, he is as safe as a church. Al Capone could not be deported from Australia under the legislation which this socialist Government has brought in. If Al Capone were in Australia for 10 years, provided he did not commit an offence against the sections referred to in the Crimes Act dealing with sedition , treason and the like, he would be as safe as a church.

Mr West —At least we won't have any more Pochi cases.

Mr HODGMAN —I am not talking about Pochi. I am telling the honourable member that as a result of his legislation if Al Capone were alive today he would be as safe as a church in Australia 10 years and one day after he obtained permanent resident status. My learned friend, the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Holding) raises his furry eyebrows. But let me draw his attention to the provisions of the Crimes Act which are set out as qualifying a person for deportation under this very restrictive new legislation. If a person commits an offence against section 24 of the Crimes Act which deals with treason, section 24AA which deals with treachery, section 24AB which deals with sabotage, section 24C which deals with offences involving conspiracy, section 25 which deals with persons inciting mutiny, section 26 which deals with persons assisting prisoners of war to escape or section 27 which deals with unlawful drilling-that is not mining drilling; that is military drilling-he is liable to be deported because he has constituted a threat to national security. The situation is different under the provisions of this extraordinary piece of legislation if one commits an offence under section 28 of the Crimes Act which deals with interfering with political liberty. I will read that section to the House. It states:

Any person who, by violence or by threats or intimidation of any kind, hinders or interferes with the free exercise or performance, by any other person, of any political right or duty, shall be guilty of an offence.

Under the provisions of that section such a person can be gaoled for three years and he cannot be deported. If a person commits an offence against section 29, which deals with destroying or damaging Commonwealth property, he cannot be deported by the Hawke Government. That section states:

Any person who wilfully and unlawfully destroys or damages any property, whether real or personal, belonging to the Commonwealth or to any public authority under the Commonwealth, shall be guilty of an offence.

If a person commits an offence under the provisions of that section he can, again, be imprisoned. To add to that, if a person commits an offence under section 30, which concerns seizing goods in Commonwealth custody, and which states:

Any person who, without lawful authority, takes any goods or property out of the possession, custody, or control of the Commonwealth or a public authority under the Commonwealth or out of the possession, custody, or control of a Commonwealth officer who has the possession, custody, or control thereof by virtue of his office, shall be guilty of an offence-

Such a person can be sent to prison, but he cannot be deported. Let me take the matter a little further. If a person commits an offence under section 6 of the Crimes Act, as an accessory after the fact, under section 7 of the Act, when he is guilty of an attempt, or under section 7A of the Act, where he is guilty of inciting, or under section 86 (1) of the Act, where he is guilty of conspiracy, but only in relation to those offences against government can he be deported. But if he enters into organised crime, if he engages in drug trafficking, if he gets himself into a situation in which he is the most notorious and wicked criminal in the land, if he has been in this country for 10 years and one day as a permanent resident, he is as safe as a church. That is why the Opposition will move an amendment to clause 11.

I assure the Minister that whoever told him to say-he may have thought of it himself-that some of us might confuse the provisions of section 14 of the principal Act with the provisions of section 12 of that Act, we have not done so , because section 12, as he knows, has no effect when the person has been here for more than 10 years. Section 14 is the section-

Mr West —It deals with security.

Mr HODGMAN —It deals with security, and you are quite right.

Mr West —You are confusing it.

Mr HODGMAN —There is no question at all about this. We are saying that you have narrowed it down to such an extent that you would be lucky to get two deportations a year, if that, under the provisions of section 14. We shall be moving an amendment to your proposed amendments to section 14 of the principal Act, by which we shall give every member of this House an opportunity to say whether he or she believes that you have made this now far too narow and far too restrictive. My comments in this regard will be supported by my colleagues, in particular by my learned and honourable friend the member for North Sydney (Mr Spender). We shall be moving that where a person who is a non-citizen has, either before or after the commencement of this sub-section, been convicted of trafficking in dangerous drugs or has been convicted in Australia of an offence and sentenced to imprisonment for a period of not less than five years, the Minister may, subject to this section, order the deportation of that person. We believe that that is necessary not so much on the basis of national security but on the basis of the security and safety of every Australian citizen.

Although the Minister may find it painful-as I have no doubt he would, as would any Minister-to make a decision that someone has to be deported, if he is to let this legislation go through in its present form, I have to say to the honourable Minister, to my colleague on the other side of the table: You will not be deporting too many people out of this country. You will not be doing that, because once they have been here for 10 years and one day they are safe. I have to say to you, with the greatest respect, that if this was your idea, you are wrong, and if it was the idea of your advisers, you have been wrongly advised. Accordingly, we shall give every member of this Parliament the opportunity to show to the people of Australia what he or she feels about people who engage in trafficking in dangerous drugs. If a court of law says to a man who has been in this country for 12 years, 'your crime is such that you will be sentenced to imprisonment for 15 years', do you think that the ordinary average Australian might say to himself, 'I wonder whether, in all the circumstances, this man ought not to be deported from Australia'? But if you pass this legislation in its present form, you will not have the power. You may want to get rid of him. You may feel that it is in the national interest, in the interests of young Australians, that that man be deported. But there will be no more deportations for drug offenders in this country under this legislation if they have been here for more than 10 years.

I say to the Minister: Would you mind thinking again on this point, because we in the Opposition believe that we would be failing in our duty to the people of Australia, particularly the young people, if we did not give this Parliament the opportunity to say, 'Hang on a minute. Offences relating only to situations in which a person as a non-citizen can be described as a threat to the security of the Commonwealth, of a State, or of any internal or external territory are far too limited.' You do not want gangsters and criminals in this country, Minister, whom you will have no power to deport; but that will be the situation. It is a classic example of what, with respect-I say this to you in the friendliest but firmest terms-you have done ever since you took on this ministerial portfolio. Wherever and whenever you could, you have said: 'There will be no discretion; she will be black or she will be white'. That is a situation in which the work load on your desk will become less and less, but will justice be done? By ' justice', I mean justice to the individual and justice to the community. You yourself, Minister, in your speech in May-which was an impressive speech- commented that you would be striving for just and humane decisions. I do not doubt that. But what you will do is to put yourself in a legislative strait- jacket which will prevent you from getting out of this country people who you know and I know should not be permitted to remain here.

I agree that in the general run of cases, when people have been here for 10 years and are then involved in a fatal accident and a manslaughter conviction arises for which they are sent to prison for two years that person would not be deported. If, because of pressure of economic circumstances, people engage in the passing of valueless cheques, false pretences or forgery and the like, you would not deport them. But what happens when we reach a situation when a judge of a court of a State or Territory, or a judge dealing with matters of grave seriousness involving the trafficking of dangerous drugs, says to a defendant, ' you have behaved in such a way that you have endangered the lives of young people and their entire future because they are hooked on amphetamines or cocaine, with lives ruined and deaths occurring'? I appeal to you, Minister, to think again on this provision. I appeal to you because I submit that you will see that you could not make a just and humane decision on such a matter when you yourself had brought in the very legislation which prevents you from getting such people out of Australia.

Earlier when I was speaking, the Minister interjected the name of a case. For my own part as shadow Minister, I do not believe that there is merit in myself traversing cases that have been decided by previous Ministers. I might say that that has been to your benefit, Minister, in one matter, because in one case of an entry into Australia of a person called Professor Hidaka, after discussion with my colleague the previous Minister at that time, the member for Balaclava ( Mr Macphee), in relation to that case, and noting what was said at that time by the then Leader of the Opposition, who is now the Minister for Foreign Affairs ( Mr Hayden), I deduced that perhaps the security advice that you received on this matter, Minister, was different from that which had been given on an earlier occasion. I do not know whether I am right or wrong, but I thought that you would have such a high regard for the security of this country that you would not let that man in.

Mr West —Did I not use my discretion there?

Mr HODGMAN —You did, indeed.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. Les Johnson) —Order! I ask the honourable member to direct his remarks through the Chair rather than more directly to the Minister, as he has been inclined to do.

Mr HODGMAN —Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. The Minister did, indeed. As a matter of fact, he exercised his discretion on one other occasion, on which I publicly supported him. He issued visas to two people from East Timor to come into Australia, and rightly so-and he was rolled by that collective monster of Cabinet, which should never interfere with ministerial discretion in relation to the issuing of visas. But to return to the precise point, I give the Minister full marks for my genuine belief that he would act fairly and justly if he had any of his discretion left to exercise. But he has got rid of so much of it that I believe that if he goes much further he ought to put himself out of office as Minister. There will be nothing left for him to do. There will be no discretion. He certainly should not be paid full ministerial salary today.

Mr West —I raise a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I wonder how far we are digressing from the scope of the Bill. Allegations have been made that I have given away all discretion, and so on. That is just not true. What he is referring to is the very narrow concept of working holiday makers who seek to change status on occupational grounds only. That is the only area in which there is no discretion being exercised within my portfolio. The point is that the honourable member is digressing from the Bill. All of this is not part of the Bill.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! I think the honourable member is entitled to that conjecture. I ask all honourable members, of course, to relate their remarks to the Bill. There is no point of order. I call the honourable member for Denison.

Mr HODGMAN —Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. Look at it in the Bill. You prosecute, convict and hang yourself on the Bill when you, in your second reading speech of your first Bill, say that the area in respect to deportations is to be reduced. In the same speech you say each and every case is looked at on its merits. If reducing the total deportations you are looking at from 100 to 3 in one year does not amount to a massive abdication of ministerial discretion and the exercise thereof, I do not know what does.

I am quite prepared to debate this Bill with the Minister. I ask the Minister whether he has had any advice from the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs as to how many persons would have come within the categories under which they will be liable for deportation under section 14 of the new amendment over the last five years. In other words, I would like to know, and I think the people of Australia are entitled to know, how many people in Australia over the last five years have been convicted of treason. How many have been convicted of treachery? How many have been convicted of sabotage? How many have been convicted of these matters to which I referred-seditious words and the like? How many have been convicted of inciting mutiny or helping prisoners of war to escape? Come off the grass. Mr Deputy Speaker, what a lot of codswallop we have here!

You will probably not get a single deportation before you are out of office, and that will be in only about 15 months time anyway. Where are your deportations? Where will they come from? Effectively I have to say this to you: You will be the least worked Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs in the history of Australia in regard to deportations because nobody will come within the provisions of the legislation. Yet you have a mandate for it. Who are we in Opposition, in the Westminster system, to deny these people the opportunity to inflict upon the people of Australia what the Government promised to inflict on them as it bribed its way to power prior to 5 March? There is a limit to the extent to which any opposition, particularly not possessing the numbers, can prevent you from doing this. But I invite you, before this debate concludes and after you have heard the stirring and impressive addresses of the honourable member for North Sydney, the honourable member for Mitchell (Mr Cadman) and others, to tell me where you will get somebody you can deport on the grounds that he helped prisoners of war to escape. Just give a little thought to it because that is what you are writing into the statutes.

Mr West —That is relating it to convictions under the Crimes Act.

Mr HODGMAN —Indeed. Tell me how many in the last five years.

Mr West —Perhaps we should take it out of the Crimes Act.

Mr HODGMAN —I am not being unkind, and I must say you are very fortunate that the honourable member for North Sydney is a patient and understanding person, as am I. I have never seen such legislation. I am not being critical in a personal sense, but you brought in your second reading speech back in May. We then found, in addition to the amendments to the Migration Amendment Act, as you predicted we would, that the Migration (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill was introduced also and that is fair enough. We then got a printed set of amendments to that legislation and you have just given an excellent speech in the House, a copy of which I would very much like to have, but I have a horrible feeling that either the Government does not have much legislation to go on with or, with respect, you are still making decisions. I want to give you the final chance in your interests-not that I should be doing anything to protect you from the fate which will befall you or your Government in due course to look again at our amendment and tell the people of Australia that the Hawke Government is prepared to recognise that it has become a little airy-fairy in seeking to reduce the areas of deportation set out in the Crimes Act which are referred to in your amendment , and that you feel sorry--

Mr West —What you have missed--

Mr HODGMAN —For hundred and thousands of young Australians whose lives are blighted--

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! I am sorry to interrupt the honourable member but I notice that when he tends to direct his remarks to the Minister rather than through the Chair we have an exchange. I suggest that the honourable member comply with the Standing Orders.

Mr HODGMAN —If it pleases you, sir, I will direct my remarks to you and I will ignore him totally.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —I would be obliged if you would.

Mr HODGMAN —I will. This Minister will have the chance of a lifetime tonight because he and his Government will show the people of Australia what they feel about people who engage in the trafficking of dangerous drugs. It will not be limited to that because the honourable member for North Sydney will develop this point. This concerns people whose offence is so serious that a judge is moved to say: 'You are going into prison for five years'. Frankly-I conclude my speech on this note; I will deliver further remarks in the Committee stage-the Hawke Government will have to stand up and decide whether it is to be the Government which made it safe for criminals, murderers and destroyers of the Australian way of life to remain unscathed and untouched in this country if they have been here for 10 years and one day.

Before I became a member of parliament, I practised for some time at the Bar. I find it fascinating, if not slightly Irish, how one can accumulate one's 10 years and one day. One could, for example, spend intermittent periods as a guest of Her Majesty in one of Her Majesty's establishments around the country. But provided the clock ticks over and the person has been here for 10 years and one day, as I said, an Australian Al Capone in 1983, per courtesy of the Hawke Government, is as safe as a church. While there may be many who think from the point of view of dialectic socialism that that is a good idea, I venture to suggest that the overwhelming majority of Australians would not have a bar of it and, Mr Deputy Speaker, if you think again you will not have a bar of it. It is therefore with considerable criticism, but recognising that the Government has the mandate to wreck this country and that in this piece of legislation the Government has the potential to damage, and damage very seriously, the rights of many thousands of Australians, young and old, that I say that the legislation will not be opposed, it will be castigated, criticised and, hopefully, improved by an amendment which is put forward in good faith and which should be accepted in good faith.