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Monday, 4 June 1984
Page: 2401

Senator CHIPP —I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs a question which concerns the disastrous result of the Austcare appeal in Queensland at the weekend when only $8,000 was raised out of an expected target of over $250,000. Does not Austcare help hungry and diseased people, mainly children, in overseas countries? Is it true that the reasons given to doorknock collectors for the low response indicated an anti-refugee feeling? Is the Minister aware that some person with a weird sense of morality returned an envelope containing three bullets with a note that said: 'This will fix three of them'? Because of this result, has the Minister any knowledge that Mr Michael Hodgman and others, who encouraged an anti-refugee feeling-

Honourable senators interjecting-

Senator CHIPP —If anyone wants to identify with Mr Hodgman, let him or her stand up.

Some Opposition senators having stood-

The PRESIDENT —Order! The House will come to order! Senator Chipp, I ask you to direct your question to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration without making any other comments.

Senator CHIPP —For those who cannot see, only about one-third of the Opposition stood up. I repeat that part which I had said before I was interrupted. Because of this shocking result, has the Minister any knowledge that Mr Hodgman and others, who encouraged an anti-refugee feeling a few weeks ago-

Senator Walters —Mr President, I raise a point of order. The honourable senator is using language denigrating a member in the other place, and I ask him to withdraw.

The PRESIDENT —He has committed no breach of standing order 418 at present.

Senator Missen —Mr President, I raise a point of order. As I understand it, questions are meant to deal with government administration. As much as we would like to see Mr Hodgman as part of government administration, that is something of the future. I ask that Senator Chipp confine himself to government administration and not ask that type of question.

The PRESIDENT —Order! The honourable senator has not completed his question yet, and until he has I am unable to rule on that point of order.

Senator CHIPP —I am asking the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs a question concerning the disastrous result of the doorknock appeal for Austcare in Queensland at the weekend. Because of this result has the Minister any knowledge that Mr Michael Hodgman and others, who encouraged an anti-refugee feeling a few weeks ago, are pleased with this response? Can the Minister give any other reason why such an appalling anti- Christian feeling should manifest itself in such a community?

Senator Chaney —I take a point of order. Mr President, that question is most unfortunate. It is clearly completely out of order. I have heard Ministers of this Government refuse to give indications of their own opinions on matters. We now have a Minister being asked about the views of members of the Opposition.

Senator Grimes —No, he has not.

Senator Chaney —He is being asked whether a member of the Opposition is pleased about something. Quite frankly, Mr President, that turns this Question Time into an absolute farce. There can be no question of whether or not the state of mind, particularly of a member of the Opposition, can be known to a Minister. It certainly cannot be said to be a matter of his administration. I would ask you, in the interests of this Senate and the interests of Question Time having some point, to rule the question out of order.

The PRESIDENT —The section of the question as to whether or not Mr Hodgman or anyone else is pleased with certain policies is completely out of order. I rule that section of the question out of order. So far as the rest of the question is concerned, I ask the Minister to relate it to his ministerial responsibility.

Senator MacGibbon —I take a point of order. Mr President, under standing order 418, Senator Chipp has imputed improper and incorrect motives to Mr Hodgman. I ask you to debar the question on those grounds.

The PRESIDENT —There is no point of order.

Senator GRIMES —Yes, I have noticed reports in the paper of the disastrous result of Austcare's refugee appeal which was conducted in Queensland on the weekend. While those results are disappointing, and I share Senator Chipp's disappointment in this respect, I would hope that we do not try to read too much into them, despite the comments of various collectors in that report. I hope that we would not interpret public response to one particular appeal for refugees as being a recognition of a waning of public support for refugees in this country, but it certainly must cause great worry to us all. I, like everyone else in this place, am disappointed at Mr Hodgman's attitude towards refugees, particularly in light of the fact-

Senator Chaney —I take a point of order. Mr President, it is a matter of absolute record that the refugee program has had the support of the coalition at all times, both in government and in opposition. There has been nothing in the matters raised about the immigration program which has raised any challenge to that. Therefore, the Minister is entering into political debate which is not factually based. I would ask you to rule him out of order, sit him down or insist that he answer the question within his own portfolio responsibilites.

The PRESIDENT —I ask the Minister not to get into those areas of the question that I had previously ruled out of order.

Senator GRIMES —I am glad that Senator Chaney, representing the Opposition-and this is relevant to this question-says that the Opposition supports the refugee program, which, after all, has brought over half a million refugees to this country. There must be many hundreds of thousands of ex-refugees and descendants of refugees in this country. I note also that in response to Senator Chipp's request Senator Chaney did not rise but six members did, including Senator Lajovic, which I think is an extraordinary set of circumstances.

Senator Chaney —I take a point of order. Mr President, the only reason I should rise in response to an invitation from Senator Chipp of the sort he issued would be to take a point of order. Perhaps I was at fault in not doing so at the time. This Question Time is again reduced to a farce if any individual senator can demand that honourable senators jump through hoops to indicate some particular view. Again, I suggest that the Minister is totally out of order in his response . I, for one, have no intention of having my attitudes indicated by whether or not I accept some invitation from Senator Chipp.

Senator GRIMES —That means you should do so now. I point out--

The PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Chaney has taken a point of order. I pointed out at the time that Senator Chipp invited certain people to stand that he was completely out of order and I ask the Minister to ignore that section of Senator Chipp's question.

Senator GRIMES —I have no direct knowledge that the campaign waged in this Parliament a couple of weeks ago had the direct effect on the result of the collection in Queensland. I remind Senator Chipp that a similar campaign has been conducted by the Premier of Queensland for a much longer time. It is most disappointing in a country such as this, which has been so generous to refugees since the Second World War, that we should be having the sort of debate we are having--

Senator Chaney —I raise a point of order, Mr President. I take it that the meaning of the Minister's words is that the Premier of Queensland has waged a campaign against refugees. That is offensive to the Premier of Queensland; I believe it should be withdrawn.

Senator Boswell —It is untrue.

Senator Chaney —Of course it is untrue.

The PRESIDENT —I suggest that the Minister confine his answer to that portion of the question asked by Senator Chipp that I ruled was in order. I request there be no general debate on the subject generally but that an answer be given to Senator Chipp's question.

Senator GRIMES —As I said, I have no knowledge of any such direct effect. I would hope that if there is any such connection there will be sufficient publicity from both sides of this Parliament to counter any such effect in the future, and I hope that any appeals like this in the future are successful. I will ask the Minister for Immigration whether he has any further information of any such direct effects. I will give the answer to the honourable senator.

Senator Chaney —I would like the Minister to table the paper from which he quoted.

The PRESIDENT —The Minister has indicated that he is prepared to table the paper .