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Wednesday, 24 August 1983
Page: 224

Mr CADMAN(9.43) —I think that I need to follow the comments of the honourable member for Denison (Mr Hodgman) in regard to the Opposition's attitude to this legislation and the amendments to the Migration Act. I believe that we endorse the Government's wish to treat all newcomers to this country equally. No one on this side of the House has said anything different from that. We support the proposals to extend from five years to 10 years the opportunity that a person may have to be considered for deportation. Those elements of what the Government is proposing are sound and are supported by the Opposition. However, where the Opposition is at variance with the Government is on the very narrow range of criminal acts for which people may be deported under this proposed measure. Instead of retaining a fairly wide and sensible basis for deportation, the Government has sought to narrow the base for deportation, narrowing it to conviction of acts of treason, sedition--

Mr Coleman —Treachery.

Mr CADMAN —And treachery; those three. In that way it is failing to give any significant indication that it is serious about deportation. There is absolutely no restriction or implied restriction placed on those who would commit other crimes which I regard as serious. The honourable member for Denison has proposed an amendment which he has put before the House and which says that people who are convicted of trafficking in dangerous drugs should also be considered in the categories of treason, treachery and sedition and that they should also be deported. I put it to the House and to members of the Government that a very narrow line is being drawn by this measure. The Minister has not yet been able to produce any information about how many people in these categories of treason and sedition have been deported in the last 10 years. We have had no figures. We do not know. I suspect that it is none whatsoever.

Mr Hodgman —Not even this century.

Mr CADMAN —Yes, I would believe that to be true. The Government has said 'We shall not deport anyone after 10 years'. That is the practical implication of what is said. So we have drug traffickers capable of staying indefinitely in Australia as non-citizens if they should be here and apprehended after 10 years. What about murderers? What about thugs? What about international criminals and urban guerillas? What about the prospects of training foreign mercenaries in Australia? In the last 10 or 15 years we have had instances of that, or it has been suspected of taking place. People have used Australia as a base for training people to act as guerillas in paramilitary forces within countries towards which Australia is friendly or with which Australia has diplomatic relations. Under these provisions, such people, if they stay here for a period longer than 10 years, will be allowed to stay on as non-citizens and will not be deported.

Mr Humphreys —What about gaoling them in Australia under the Crimes Act?

Mr CADMAN —Under the definitions offered by the Minister, they will stay in Australia. What about if it should be found that the murderers of Donald Mackay were apprehended after 10 years and were found to be non-citizens?

Mr Humphreys —They would go to gaol in Australia.

Mr CADMAN —They would not be deported. The honourable member knows that they would not be deported, even though they were using Australia as a place to hide and to seek cover for a multiplicity of crimes. I think that it is reasonable to expect that the Government should define wider areas of reasons for deportation. As the honourable member for Wentworth (Mr Coleman) indicated, a respect for law and order is essential in all people that settle in Australia. I wonder why the Government has kept this promise. It is one of the only promises that it has kept.

Mr Hodgman —It is the only one.

Mr CADMAN —It is the only one that it has kept of which I am aware. It has broken other promises about immigration made before the election. During the election campaign I attended a number of meetings at which shadow Ministers said : 'We shall not be influenced by the Australian Council of Trade Unions in our policies. There is no commitment in the accord'. There was a commitment in the accord, but they said: 'We shall not be taking notice of that. We need to give proper attention to our multicultural society'. To ethnic groups of all types, they said: 'We shall ignore the accord, even though we have an agreement with the ACTU that there will be fewer migrants'. Another promise was broken when the Minister made a statement to the House on Australia's immigration policy and programs. Shortly after the beginning of his speech, he said:

It can be argued--

and he did argue it-

that to take large numbers during severe economic recession, when there are few jobs available, simply adds to unemployment and creates extra strain on budgetary outlays.

He used that as an excuse to break a promise and to maintain the accord agreed to with the ACTU. The policy has changed. The Minister has said: 'I will limit people coming to Australia and I will ensure that no more than 28,000 people in category C will come to Australia'. That is the stated policy.

Mr West —Yes, but that was an increase over the previous Government.

Mr CADMAN —The Minister said that in that area he would limit brothers and sisters under the family reunion program. I think that the Minister is aware that one of the prime bases of family reunion under category C is the fact that there are jobs available and that those people have a prime claim on jobs where there is short supply in Australia. It is not really a family reunion-a reunion of people who are related. The policy existed under the previous Government also . People who wished to migrate to Australia were given some leniency in the point scoring system to gain entry if they had close relatives in Australia. I object to the process that has been adopted of selecting people who may not have job qualifications and of failing to recognise that a shortage in specific areas within the work force can be filled by a dynamic migration program. In fact I believe that at this stage there are only two areas of job qualification in which people are approved; they involve computer operators and international chefs. That is a very narrow limit. Recent surveys have indicated that Australia needs more skills than that. There is a shortage of a wider group of people than that.

Can we not return to a proper and dynamic program? At the same time the Government's policy indicates that we are to take a far greater number of refugees. I agree with humanitarian programs-I think Australia should encourage them-but it seems to me that we have denied the relatives of people living in Australia the opportunity of coming to this country and settling here. We have denied them the opportunity of taking advantage of what would be a humanitarian gesture. I think in all equity proper fairness and balance cannot be considered in such an approach. To cause the distress and concern expressed by citizens and residents who have relatives overseas with work skills which Australia needs and who are denied access to Australia is a very bad precedent to set. All members of this House over a number of years have had complaints of the type that I am talking about. People have asked us: 'Why are you allowing into this country refugees who cannot contribute to the needs of Australia when you are denying access to my skilled relative?'

The Minister has accentuated that process. He has limited greatly the number of migrants allowed to enter Australia under a normal migration program. He has in fact reduced the program by at least 20,000 people per annum. My prediction, based on the information that I see in my office and on my experience in the western suburbs of Sydney, is that that target will not be reached. I suspect the real target, if it were expressed-if the Minister has a target-will be 50, 000 or 60,000 migrants and a migration program of 20,000 refugees. There is not a proper balance in that approach. When we consider the Minister's own penchant for the type of refugees who are selected from El Salvador and Chile, we see that they are not counted as refugees by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Why are we not taking more people from Lebanon, that stress-torn country? We have many good settlers here from Lebanon. Their families face constant threat day by day. They would welcome an opportunity to come to Australia. But they are not regarded by the United Nations Commissioner as refugees. I think that a proper balance needs to be applied to this program. I would be happy to accept the United Nations Commissioner as the person who designates refugees.

I do not think we can make a selection because we have a political feeling towards a particular group in El Salvador, Chile or anywhere else. I think we should follow the recognised international body in this matter and accept its judgments as to who are proper refugees. That body has marvellous techniques and processes for making those judgments. If we were to adopt this program there would be less tension in our ethnic communities because they feel most strongly that the Government is not adopting a fairhanded approach to their relatives and friends who have skills which Australia needs by increasing quite dramatically the program for refugees who, to their minds, are not legitimate refugees. What is the difference between somebody in Beirut and somebody in El Salvador? Why do we make those sorts of judgments? We are not taking refugees from Lebanon-not a single refugee from Lebanon-but we are taking migrants from other countries where they are not designated as refugees. Why do we not have a proper balance?

Mr West —What did you do about it?

Mr CADMAN —We took refugees, as the Minister knows, who were designated by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and that was the criterion. That is the criterion the present Government should be using also. It is a completely unfair system and one that I think is illustrated by the fact that the Minister made commitments before the election to ethnic groups all around Australia that his immigration program would not be influenced by the views of the ACTU or by the accord. Immediately within a few weeks of making those statements to ethnic groups he broke that commitment by reducing the number of immigrants and by increasing the number of refugees.

Mr Hodgman —Who made those statements?

Mr CADMAN —I refer to the honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Young). He got into trouble with the Royal Commission and with the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) for not keeping commitments; but there were others as well.

Mr West —Name one commitment we have broken.

Mr CADMAN —I will name them. The commitment was that there would be no reduction in immigration. The commitment was--

Mr West —Name one commitment we have broken.

Mr CADMAN —The commitment was that there would be no reduction in immigration. The Minister knew it and the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Leo McLeay) knew it. All members of the Government knew that that was the commitment. The Minister broke that commitment. The one promise he has kept is the promise we are debating here tonight. It is fascinating that in this very narrow field the Minister is keeping his commitment. I am pointing out to the House that it is a great shame that the Government cannot see its way clear to widen the base for deportation. We agree with the change in the terms from five years to 10 years. We agree that all people should be dealt with equally as non-citizens no matter what their country of origin is, but we do not agree with the way in which the Minister is applying the criteria for deportation. I think that is a tragedy. It ranks with the tragedy of Australia's immigration program which I believe lies in tatters. There are too many good families around the world whom this country could well use but who are being denied access.

I think the terms of classification for job opportunities have been far too restrictive for Australia's needs. The capacity for entrepreneurs and holiday makers to make a contribution to this nation is too significant to ride over in the way in which they have been ridden over. I and members opposite have met many young people who would willingly make Australia their home. They have used their working holidays for 12 months to get to know this country and who wish, if they are not married, to marry and settle here and to raise their families here; and they bring superb skills of the type that Australia needs.

There are job opportunities for them. They have proved in half a dozen places around Australia that they can readily gain employment. They have no problems in looking after themselves while in this country yet they have been cut off. ' Return to your home country,' they are told, 'We do not want to see you for 12 months. If you apply through the normal channels we will think about whether you can come back to Australia.' These young people have got to know their employers who have made a proper assessment of their ability to settle here and to participate in the work force. That unique opportunity is denied to the average migrant, but young people are allowed that opportunity. Often employer and employee-the employee being on a working holiday-have developed an account of dependence and understanding and wish to build a future together; yet the Government has said: 'Young people of the world, Australia does not want you. Go back home. We do not need you'. That statement, coupled with the reduced sham of a migration program, is a tragedy for this nation. I trust that the Government will shortly recognise the error of its ways and will adopt a pattern of migration which benefits the Australian Labor Party and the proud tradition established by a former leader of the Australian Labor Party. He would turn in his grave if he knew what the Labor Party is doing to this nation today.