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Wednesday, 24 August 1983
Page: 214

Mr SPENDER(8.37) —I welcome in the Migration Amendment Bill the abolition of the discrimination against non-Commonwealth citizens, since I think it is right that when one comes to the questions of deportation Commonwealth and non-Commonwealth citizens should be judged on the same basis. Having spelt out that welcome, I wish to focus on the deportation provisions as they are now provided for in this the second amendment to the legislation, the Government having put forward one amendment in May and having now put forward a further amendment which greatly waters down the rather restrictive measures which had originally been proposed. In speaking about the deportation provisions, let me refer to what the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr West) had to say about the subject of these provisions when he introduced the Migration Amendment Bill 1983 into this House. He said:

The Government must be able to protect the Australian community from non- citizens whose serious crimes show that they are a threat to the community. The Government must retain the legislative power to remove criminals and undesirables who have chosen not to commit themselves fully to Australia or who, through their own criminal actions, do not qualify for membership of the Australian community.

With those sentiments I entirely agree. He also said:

The community will also be protected from those non-citizens who pose a national security risk, including those who are convicted of espionage, sedition , treason or similar crimes. Such persons will always be liable to deportation.

Of course now we know that persons who pose a national security risk and who would, under the proposals as originally introduced, be subject to deportation will not be subject to deportation if they have been lawfully in this country for a period of 10 years or for aggregate periods amounting to 10 years. So it does not matter what kind of a risk they pose; it does not matter what view the Government takes of their actions; and it does not matter what their views are as to their future actions and their lack of allegiance to or interest in this country. Under this proposed legislation it will be perfectly open to individuals to say: 'True it is that I regard myself as a national security risk . True it is that I propose to do as much as I can to undermine the fabric of this country without, mind you, perhaps committing any of those very limited offences which are left in the Act and which still attract an open assessment'. That is an assessment which is not limited to 10 years. 'But you cannot touch me , although I am a non-citizen, although I have no intention of giving allegiance to this country and although I propose to work against the interests of this country and the governments of this country regardless of their political persuasions'. That is a masterful piece of legislation to promote the interest of this country. When originally introducing the amendments in May the Minister said:

. . . the community must be prepared to accept some 'bad with the good'.

I do not accede to that proposition. I see no reason why this community should be prepared to accept the bad with the good when the bad are fairly judged and when the bad do not become citizens of this country. The Minister went on to say :

The overwhelming majority of non-citizens who settle in this country are law- abiding members of the community and have a right to expect, after 10 years of lawful residence, that they will not be expelled.

If they are law abiding they have nothing to fear. Under the provisions which we now have before us we have a vestigial recognition by the Government of the fact that certain crimes may so go to the fabric of the society that the perpetrator, being a non-citizen, should be subject to deportation regardless of whether he has been in Australia five years, 10 years or 15 years.

Then we have other broadly stated offences for which a person has been punished by imprisonment for one year. If such offences take place within that 10-year period, that individual may be subject to deportation. But now, of course, we have the situation in which, whilst the Minister may judge that a non-citizen's presence in this country constitutes a threat to the security, as long as that person has been in Australia for more than 10 years he has a free ticket to continue to constitute a threat to the security of the country.

Mr West —No, if they are convicted, they can be deported.

Mr SPENDER —The Minister interpolates across the table that they can be deported if they have been convicted. I fear that he must have misunderstood his own legislation. I remind the Minister what is stated in clause 11 (1) of the Bill:

If it appears to the Minister that the conduct (whether in Australia or elsewhere) of a person who is a non-citizen-

This is not being a person who has been present in Australia as a permanent resident for a period of at least 10 years or for periods in the aggregate amounting to a period of at least 10 years. We have in this legislation that magic 10-year period. If it appears to the Minister that the conduct of such a person constitutes or has constituted a threat to the security of the Commonwealth the Minister may, as long as it is within that 10-year period, make out a deportation order. If it is after that 10-year period he loses that power. The only circumstances which give rise to the exercise of the deportation power are now certain offences under the Crimes Act. There is the offence of treason, which we know is an every day offence. There is the offence of treachery. I do not know when we last had a conviction for treachery, as was pointed out earlier by the honourable member for Denison (Mr Hodgman). We also have the offence of sabotage. It has been some time since we have had a case of sabotage, as I recall. We still have left within the Act, as grounds for deportation after 10 years, seditious acts and inciting mutiny. I think the last time we had a case of inciting mutiny was when Captain Bligh came to Australia. Then, of course, we also have the case of assisting prisoners of war to escape and that is likely to be an almost everyday occurrence.

But offences which are not included and which do not permit the Minister to deport the offender include, for example, murder, extortion, and drug trafficking. To take the matter in some more detail I will go to a statement the Minister himself made and quote the sorts of offences which, if one is caught committing after 10 years in Australia, one is still all right. I quote the Minister's statement of 4 May where he said, and said well:

Examples of serious offences which may render non-Australian citizens liable to deportation include:

production, importation, distribution, trafficking or commercial dealing in heroin or other hard addictive drugs or involvement in any other illicit drugs on a significantly large scale . . .

organised criminal activity . . . terrorist activity and assassination; kidnapping; blackmail; and extortion.

We should understand that the amendments now proposed to the Act prevent the Minister, who exercises these powers, from deporting a person who is convicted of any of those kinds of offences so long as that person-a non-citizen-has been in Australia for 10 years or aggregate periods amounting to 10 years. Is that what we want? Is that what we need for the protection of our society? Is that the kind of open ticket that we wish to write for people who come to Australia and who fail to exercise the option of becoming citizens with the rights that that option confers and the obligations and responsiblities including, of course , the responsibility of allegiance to the Crown and to the Government of this country? Do we really intend to protect these people? Is that in the public interest? In whose right is it that they should be protected? The Government, in making the narrow concession that a limited number of offences can attract deportation, regardless of when the offences are committed, has so defined those offences that we can be perfectly certain that we will never be troubled with them. But is it not far more important to consider what is happening to this country now?

This Government, as was the case with the previous Government, is deeply concerned with the problems of organised crime. The Attorney-General (Senator Gareth Evans) of this Government recently convened a seminar in this city for the purposes of examining the problems of organised crime and the kind of legislation that we might bring down in this Parliament to deal with organised crime. We all know that organised criminal activity poses a major threat to this country. We all know that organised criminal activity concentrates on what is lucrative and what is damaging. The outstanding example is drug trafficking. I suspect that there is not a member of this House who does not know some family or some person who has been directly or by association damaged as a consequence of drugs. I know people who have found in the most astonishing of circumstances- or so it seemed to them-that persons they thought to be perfectly normal were, in fact, addicts. It is a growing problem in this country. We all know that organised crime is well-educated crime and that frequently it is not easily or quickly discovered.

Mr Hand —It flourished under your Government.

Mr SPENDER —A wise interjection is that it flourished under our Government. You will know that organised crime flourishes under all governments, regardless of their political persuasion. If you have the least sense you will know that it is impossible to eradicate and if you have any knowledge of what has taken place in other parts of the world--

Mr SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member will address his remarks through the Chair.

Mr SPENDER —I address my remarks to you, Mr Speaker, as always. If honourable members have any understanding of what has taken place here or elsewhere they will know that it is a problem we will have to live with and which we most certainly will not overcome. The best one can ever hope to achieve when dealing with organised crime is to limit or to contain it. It will never be eradicated so long as profit is to be made from it. This means that so long as organised criminals-those who engage in the vilest of criminal activity and who come here and refuse to take up citizenship because they do not want to, because they prefer to keep citizenship elsewhere, because they do not want to have allegiance to this country-can get by undetected for 10 years it is a free and open go for them unless, of course, they incite mutiny.

Mr West —Do you not think we have some responsibility for them after 10 years in this country? Do you want to send them back to Italy or Greece?

Mr SPENDER —Since the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr West) has interjected, I point out to him, through you Mr Speaker, that our first obligation is to our citizens in this country. As he pointed out in his guidelines on 4 May, when the Minister comes to making a decision to deport he takes into consideration a large number of factors. Depending upon his weighing of those factors he decides to deport or not to deport. A review mechanism is in place. Perhaps more important is the review mechanism provided by this House, since it is public knowledge that a deportation decision which comes before this House will be scrutinised very carefully and-dare I say it-sometimes in a partisan manner, although I hope more often fairly objectively by all honourable members.

I am not directing criticisms against this Minister. My criticisms are directed to this Government. Again I ask: Whose interests do we protect? Why is it that we should give someone who comes to this country, remains a non-citizen and engages in criminal activities of the vilest and most damaging kind, a free ticket to remain here for so long as he can go undetected within 10 years? As I say, once the 10-year period is over that person is home and dry.

Mr West —But your Act allowed immigrants out after five years, you see.

Mr SPENDER —Therefore, I ask the Minister to reconsider what he is now proposing . He said in his speech that the Government made an electoral promise. I ask him why this Government should adopt the novel procedure of fulfilling this promise when it has broken so many others. This Government might put that consideration to one side and ask itself one central question: Is it in the interests of the Australian public, the interests of Australian citizens, that anybody who is a non-citizen should buy permanency in this country because he has been here for a certain period, regardless of how much damage he can do, will do or intends to do to this country?