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Wednesday, 16 November 1983
Page: 2799

Mr STAPLES(4.25) —It seems to be my lot in life in this House to follow in debate the honourable member for Denison (Mr Hodgman). I consider that somewhat of an honour because he is such an older member and I appreciate his experience. It is a pity, as he suggests, that we are not on the air, because it is important that the people of Australia hear some of the more rabid rhetoric that takes place in this House, especially from the mouth of this older member. I can understand the disgust felt by members of the Opposition in general towards traffickers in dangerous drugs, but what it gets down to is that we have been talking all the time about some of the most extreme cases; but for that sort of thing to come from extremists is understandable. All we have heard through this debate from the Opposition is 007 stuff.

Those who commit crimes which physically and psychologically injure people are pretty low. Drug traffickers fall into two categories. Firstly, there is the entrepreneurial type, who does not become personally involved or use the hard stuff himself. He goes around selling the drugs solely for profit and greed. This type is the most anti-social and repulsive of all. Another type of drug trafficker, one that is not really addressed by the amendment, is the one who gets hooked on drugs, often as a result of the efforts of these entrepreneurs and who must then go around supporting himself by selling drugs to others. These people have a limited control over their lives. The amendment does not make any distinction in this regard. Apart from that, I fail to see why drug traffickers should be singled out as a class liable to deportation when there are anti- social criminals who would not be affected by the amendment. There are plenty of other anti-social criminal types and crimes that do not attract, in reality, a sentence of five years or more; yet those crimes affect directly the lives of their victims, just as drug traffickers affect the lives of their victims. There are plenty of white collar criminals, those who rip off the trust funds, the con men, the corporate criminals and the tax evaders.

I share the Opposition's reaction to drug trafficking, but liability to deportation of drug traffickers does not really address the problem of drugs in this country. When a person is convicted of such a crime two things can happen. Firstly, he may be deported after his sentence has been served. That is a second punishment, and I do not think it is the role of the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs to give that punishment. That is clearly a job for the court. The court sentences a person and its sentence is carried out. The other example I suggest is that of a parole board which is aware of the possibility that a deportation of a convicted person is pending. It would be likely to take the view that the easy way out would be to grant parole and hope that the person would be deported and would not be a worry to the system any more; and the convicted person is released earlier. That really does not serve justice at all.

I wish to refer now to the second part of the amendment, which refers to a person:

. . . 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 the person.

Clearly, that does not recognise the fact that there are great differences between proscription and, more particularly, sentencing in various States and Territory laws. That is not taken into account in the amendment, but the variation does exist. It exists most markedly in relation to the two to 10-year sentencing period. That is an inherent inequality in sentencing and the amendment would serve only to compound the unfairness. I am sure that we would not want this provision to interfere in any way with the sentencing of a convicted person. We have to be aware of these risks when we make these laws. Further, the amendment would take from the Minister a degree of freedom to make proper decisions affecting his responsibilities. All citizens and all non- citizens should be treated equally under the law. I do not believe the Opposition really had discrimination in mind in this amendment, but discrimination will result if this amendment is passed. For this reason I really fail to understand why the amendment was put forward, apart from those extreme 007-type operations. The Migration Amendment Bill introduced by this Government has gone a long way in removing discrimination. This amendment does nothing to advance this progress at all. It does not address the real problem of serious crime, drug trafficking, or, indeed, drug use. I believe that the Committee should reject this amendment.