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Thursday, 24 June 2004
Page: 31707


Mr RUDDOCK (Attorney-General) (4:56 PM) —I am not sure what the honourable member is referring to. If I have in any way been complicit I apologise. I wanted him to be fully appraised of what we were seeking to do. I am surprised that the member for Barton would express himself in ways he thinks might be unparliamentary. I have never heard anything like that from him. I find it impossible to believe. I thought he was one of the exceptions in the Labor Party. I listened very carefully to the debate in relation to these matters, and I could not see where substantive arguments were advanced that require further committee review. The point of concern for me has been that we have a situation where people are restricted in leaving Australia on their own Australian passport but, particularly now that we have dual citizenship, may continue to hold or apply for a valid passport from another country, from which they could then seek to travel to Australia. Our view is that, in a situation where an Australian passport has been withheld to ensure that somebody cannot leave, we ought not to leave the opportunity open for another. I think it is a matter that ought to be dealt with quickly. When a matter was brought to my attention it was the reason I brought it forward in the legislation. It seems to me to be a matter of some moment and a significant defect in the regime that we have in place. So I would encourage the opposition to withdraw any opposition it has to this particular measure. I do not think people would see it as being unreasonable and I have not heard it pointed out where there are substantial unintended consequences that might have emerged through some fault in relation to the drafting.