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Wednesday, 24 August 1983
Page: 228

Mr CAMPBELL(10.10) —I support the Migration Amendment Bill. I do not do it with any great joy or enthusiasm. I think this Bill is little enough and long overdue. I have an electorate with a very large number of migrants and I am very aware of the anguish that a lot of these migrants suffer. I do not think the position has been made better in any way from the years of Liberal Government. I had the opportunity some time ago to look at some of our facilities. I had a look at the Villawood Detention Centre. I was appalled at the conditions at that institution. I think it is a disgrace to any civilised country. I found the way the inmates were treated appalling. I think it was largely through the efforts of my office that something was done about reviewing the situation.

I would like to pay tribute to Mr Peter McKerrow, who has worked unstintingly for the benefit of migrants. Mr McKerrow worked for many years in the Aboriginal Legal Service and later for the Macquarie Legal Service. He has been very involved in migration problems and he has my very highest regard. I believe his virtues will go largely unrecognised by a lot of the migrants for whom he has worked so well.

I would like to take up some of the range of issues under which people can be deported under this Bill. Frankly, I think the range is far too wide. What sort of country is Australia? Are we still some grovelling colonial power saying to the world: 'You nasty people, whatever you have done you are too nasty for us to handle; go away; go whence you have come'? What sort of citizens are we to adopt this sort of attitude? That is a matter to which some of the honourable members opposite ought to address themselves. It is the height of colonial mentality. It is the very antithesis of what I, as an Australian, feel we should be standing up for. This Bill seeks to protect the people who have traditionally suffered most, the people who speak little English and who are not aware of the system. These people get discriminated against continuously. It is only out of justice that we should be doing something about this matter.

I have had a lot of experience with some of these people. For the benefit of the House I will relate one of those cases tonight. It concerns a family who came from war-torn Chile. They came to Australia on visitors' visas and they went underground. Frankly, I do not blame them. Australia-even New South Wales- is a much more congenial place than Chile. On the first day of the amnesty this family applied for regularisation of their status. All bar one member of the family was accepted. The one member of the family, for some reason, would not be accepted. The Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs then got very heavy with his brothers and sisters. Officers of the Department said: 'Unless you tell us where your brother is so that we can deport him, we will deport the whole lot of you'.

The family went to the Macquarie Legal Service, which came to me. We made some inquiries. It turned out that there was an adverse Australian Security Intelligence Organisation report on this poor guy. So I interviewed him. I went through his history and I could see nothing that would warrant such a report. So I phoned ASIO. A representative of ASIO said: 'That is right. There is an adverse report'. I said: 'Can we get a copy of this report? Can we investigate it so that we can make a submission?' He said: 'No, this is secret. The report is not to be made available to him'. I said: 'How can we possibly counter what you are saying about him if we don't know what it is?' The ASIO man then lost his temper. He said to me: 'You can rest assured that we do not make mistakes'. History has shown otherwise. He then said to me: 'Do you know that this man is a criminal?' I said: 'No, I do not know. What has he done?' The ASIO man could not tell me, but he knew that he had spent two years in gaol in Chile. He said: 'The man is a criminal'. I said: 'I did not know this but I shall make inquiries'. I must make the point that spending two years in a Chilean gaol does not make a person a criminal in my book.

I went back and interviewed this guy further. I said to him: 'Look, if I am going to help you, young fellow, you have got to level with me. You did not tell my you were in gaol'. He said, in his limited English: 'I tell you, I tell you'. We got a transcript showing that he said he had spent two years in an institution. I said: 'What were you doing there?' He said: 'I was a teacher. I worked for the Government'. He was a teacher in the gaol and ASIO could not even get that right. That makes one laugh. It is funny unless you are the one it is happening to. This is just one case. I have documented cases of this happening time and again. It simply is not good enough. This Bill goes part of the way, and only a very small part of the way, towards rectifying this.

There has been some talk in the chamber tonight about the various classes of immigrants. I make no bones about the fact that I come from British stock. I am proud of it. I think that British migrants have served this country extraordinarily well. I am proud of my British culture. I was very proud a few years ago when the Daily News, a popular daily paper in Western Australia, ran a poll which showed that migrants of British stock were generally less prejudiced than others. That is not surprising when we recognise that Britain, from where a lot of our culture comes, whether we like it or not, is the first and probably one of the most polyglottal races on the face of the earth. I am very proud of my British culture. I feel greatly affronted by what the honourable member for Denison has presented to me. This poor man's Churchill, popinjay that he is, parading in this House, I feel is an insult to the British traditions of justice and fair play that we in Australia often take as as our own. There was a time in this House, not so long ago, when I referred to the honourable member for Denison as a metaphorical maggot in the intellect of Tasmania. They were colourful words. I have at times wished I had not been quite so colourful. But I do not resile from that description. I think that in the intervening time the honourable member for Denison has shown that he is, in fact, a fascist maggot.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.