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Thursday, 27 September 1973
Page: 1677

Mr GRASSBY (Riverina) (Minister for Immigration) - in reply - 'The honourable member for Boothby (Mr McLeay), on behalf of the Opposition, has supported the measure. He said it is a common-sense measure. I thank him for that comment. He also posed a number of questions in relations to the entry into Australia of certain persons. He was referring to criminals, and I must say to him very bluntly that it is my firm belief that people who have criminal records - in particular, people who have records of violence - should not and will not be welcome in Australia. Certainly anyone who comes to our shores from outside them and practices criminal activities, whether of the left or the right, will be most unwelcome and we will see them on their way. I want to be quite clear about that. I do not want to take up too much time on this point, but I want to give a firm and unequivocal undertaking that people with criminal records who seek to enter Australia will not be welcome. If they in fact engage in activities here which bring them to the notice of Australian courts I will invoke the full powers that are vested in me, as Minister for Immigration, to see them on their way. But I cannot act outside the law or the courts.

I wish to refer specifically to the inquiry that was made by the honourable member for Boothby about a report which appeared in a newspaper concerning a man who arrived from Africa and applied for political asylum. I wish to say that matters concerning political asylum are not under my control. Anyone who comes here for migration purposes, visiting purposes, short term stay purposes in connection with industry or an engagement, is my responsibility. But I refer matters of political asylum to the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Whitlam). The determination is made by the Minister for Foreign Affairs in all matters of political asylum. It is not part of my responsibility.

A fair question was also asked by the honourable member for Boothby in relation to the man who was deported by me recently - Mr Azzam. I want to make it quite clear that as Minister for Immigration I treated his case in no way different from anyone else's case. I make no distinctions in these matters. In fact, I was very anxious to ensure that the procedures which were followed by me and my departmental officers in his case were exactly the same as those followed in the case of anyone else. It would not matter whether he was going to Paris, London or New York and it would not matter whether he had entered from any one of those places. He was in fact an illegal immigrant. He was in breach of the law. He was properly found to be so by the Australian courts. When I was able to do so I took the quickest possible action to deport him. When he was released from custody it was my responsibility and my duty to do that. I want to say to the honourable member that I will not be deflected from my duty by threats, whether they be from any of the well recognised terrorist or criminal organisations or anyone else inside or outside of the country. I will administer the rules given to me to administer on behalf of the people of Australia. That will be done.

Mr McLeay - What about Chitepo and the other fellow?

Mr GRASSBY - The honourable member has made reference to 2 people. In the 30 seconds available to me I must say that one of them was, I think, a British citizen with a British passport and with a clear record as far as the British authorities are concerned. He also had a clear record as far as our authorities were concerned. I have no right to deport a man because of his views and I would not do so. If a man transgresses the law in this country he will be dealt with according to the law. I must repeat that, as far as I am concerned, I want to see the fullest flow of views, but not those of law breakers and not those of people who abuse our hospitality. Mr Azzam would have been treated by me in the same way as anyone else, without fear of threat or favour from any source at all.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

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