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Wednesday, 14 September 1983
Page: 764

Mr CADMAN(3.27) —The House has listened with interest to the speech of the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr West). He has presented a number of interesting ideas. Unfortunately, I feel that his ideology affects his judgment to a fair extent in the way in which he speaks about the important area of migration and ethnic affiars. There have been radical changes in Australia's migration policy. They are changes that are viewed with alarm and anxiety by the Australian community, particularly those sections of the community which have come here from overseas.

I wish to list for the House some of the changes that have taken place under the present Government. First of all, the intake of migrants to Australia has been reduced. The Minister cannot explain away the fact that the same plus and minus issues will apply to his programs as applied to the previous Government's. At the end of the year we will find that the intake of migrants for 1983-84 will be down. It will be down because of the Government's agreement with the Australian Council of Trade Unions in the accord-and it is clearly spelt out- that migration will be reduced. The ACTU was careful to have the Government agree to that provision to ensure that job shortages could be created in certain areas so that the demands of those employed in select areas would not be threatened and in fact their bargaining powers would be increased. The sanctions against the Soviet Union have been mentioned by the honourable member for Denison (Mr Hodgman). That is a radical change. Employment demand-that is the category that allowed people to gain entry because there was a shortage of certain skills in Australia-has now been almost removed. The Minister says that some slight modifications are in the pipeline. It will be very interesting when the pipeline produces the results of those considerations.

Mr Hunt —It will be a mess.

Mr CADMAN —It will be a mess because the Minister has failed to recognise the important and significant interlocking process between family reunion and employment. Many people seeking entry to Australia have moderately high skills and they have relatives in Australia, but on the single criterion of relationship or employment prospects they are not eligible to come to Australia. It is a perfectly reasonable proposition to understand that a person with moderately high skills, who can be supported by a family familiar with Australian conditions who will provide accommodation and maintenance for a short period, is the sort of person who will settle readily in Australia. That sort of person has been removed from the migration program.

There is no consideration in the Minister's presentation of the wider family concepts that apply in so many countries from which Australia receives migrants. The whole of Europe and Asia in fact has a different concept of families compared with Australia's concept. Families in those continents extend far beyond the immediate family-husband, wife, parents and children-to cousins, uncles, nephews, and nieces. A very wide network of support and responsibility is felt by families who have come to Australia, especially those from trouble spots of the world where, by economic circumstances or international turmoil, their extended families are being threatened or interfered with. It is perfectly responsible and reasonable that Australia should take some cognisance of that very fine feature of migrants to Australia; that is, their concern and support for families. It is the great strength of migration and it is the great lesson that the Australian community is learning from our migrants. It is a process that needs to be encouraged, but it is a process which, by the Minister's decisions, has been completely denied.

The combination of employment and family reunion has now been removed from the whole gamut of our immigration program. The family reunion program has been calculated to involve 57,000 people in 1983-84. I predict that that figure will be considerably less. Substantial changes have also been made to the deportation provisions. Spies or drug runners, provided they stay in Australia 10 years, can stay for ever more and nobody will worry about them. I think that is a very faulty policy. Refugees are allowed into Australia at the Minister's whim. Those who were not refugees are now refugees. They are the refugees you have when you are not having a refugee, to rephrase slightly the Minister's phrase.

I think the Minister needs to move around Australia, look at the migrant communities and talk to Australian citizens and Australian residents in much the same way as the shadow Minister does in order to communicate effectively with migrants, to understand their problems, to get to know what their needs are and for them to understand what Australian requirements are. It is all very well to be known as a busy and hardworking Minister, but the people are important.

Mr Groom —Face to face.

Mr CADMAN —Face to face, as my colleague said. That is what makes an effective policy for government. I suggest that the Minister take a leaf out of the shadow spokeman's book and go out and meet the people. There are some radicalising elements within the change of policy, and these elements are of even greater concern than the policy changes that have been made. I have mentioned refugees who are not refugees and I referred to people being allowed entry from El Salvador and Chile. The Minister said that he makes no apologies for changing our refugee policy so that he can roam the world, identify the groups which suit his ideological outlook and say: 'I will classify you as refugees and you will be welcome in Australia'. That is a phoney approach to the refugee problem. I believe that it completely denies any consideration of the fine program for refugees set up by the United Nations. The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is involved in the process of identifying areas of real need. It is a false and dangerous process for any Minister or any representative of the Australian Government to put the High Commissioner aside and say: 'I will set my own criteria for refugees and if I am politically responsive to the group whom I consider to be refugees they will be allowed entry into Australia'. I believe that the Minister could roam the world, identify groups of refugees outside the United Nations charter and allow them entry. I do not know how residents and citizens of Australia who have come from overseas and settled here will feel when the Minister goes off on a world trip and identifies a group in a neighbouring country which is hostile to the country of their relatives who have sought entry for many years.

Mr West —Mr Deputy Speaker, I raise a point of order. I suggest that you ask the honourable member to address the problem in truthful terms. The fact is that I do not roam the world looking for refugees.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! I ask the Minister to resume his seat. There is no point of order.

Mr CADMAN —The Minister said that he makes no apologies for this program, and he is now trying to apologise for it. What criteria will the Minister use for selecting refugees? Who selects the refugees? What are the security checks? We have had changes made to the criteria concerning refugees from Lebanon and I would like the Minister to provide information to the House as to how those refugees will be selected. Will all of those who apply or who have current applications be accepted? Will there be security checks?

The process of security checks and the proper identification of suitable refugees and migrants are very significant as can be seen when one reads today's Bulletin which states that Mr Ahmed Shuhati, the former Director of the Libyan Foreign Liaison Office, is currently leading a Libyan delegation. Mr Shuhati is also in charge of Libyan propaganda and cultural centres throughout the world. That delegation leader will make contact with groups who are causing great trouble in ethnic communities in Australia. I mention in particular the problems that have been caused at the Lakemba mosque in Sydney where newspapers, underground groups and other activities have been encouraged by funds flowing from Libya. I am sure that if the Minister had sought and received wide advice from all aspects and all avenues within government he would have been advised that this is a most dangerous process and one that should not be encouraged. We need proper security information and proper decisions on visitors of this type.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member's time has expired.