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Thursday, 22 August 2002
Page: 5496

Ms GILLARD (3:05 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs and refers to his earlier answer. Minister, can you confirm that Dennis Richardson, Director-General of ASIO, gave evidence today to the human rights subcommittee of parliament's Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade. In that evidence he verified that, over the last three years, ASIO had checked 5,986 unauthorised arrivals to assess whether or not they constituted a direct or indirect threat to Australia and found that not one of those persons constituted such a threat. Minister, will you confirm that that is correct?

Mr Crean —Not one!

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER —Unless my hearing is failing, the question was addressed to the minister, not to any of the people sitting in front of me.

Mr RUDDOCK (Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Reconciliation) —I will not attempt to try and verify the accuracy of all of the statements that have been recounted by the honourable member for Lalor. I was not at the hearing. I have not seen the evidence. I have had an oral report that the director-general of security advised that there had been no adverse assessments over a specific period of time. I am aware of that. The point I was making was that ASIO has a very specific remit, and that the provisions in relation to 1F of the refugee convention are much wider and the issues in relation to character go to a range of questions that might be beyond the direct issues relating to security that ASIO looks at. That is the only point I was making.

I reiterate what I have said: there have been, amongst protection visa applicants, 10 refusals under section 501, under which the provisions of 1F of the refugee convention are applied, and those issues go to a range of matters upon which people are entitled to be excluded under the refugee convention. There are 10 such matters. Some of them are the subject of appeal. They go to very serious issues relating to both the safety and the general security of the Australian community. We have properly and vigorously sought to ensure that people who are likely to receive a positive outcome in relation to a protection visa application are subjected to that scrutiny.

Ms Gillard —Mr Speaker, given the minister's inability to answer the question, can I ask that he comes back and reports on the matter later today?

The SPEAKER —There is no provision under the standing orders to oblige the minister to report to the parliament at any time.