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Tuesday, 24 March 1987
Page: 1439

Mr CADMAN(10.41) —One of our colleagues in the Parliament this evening has raised the problems of South Africa and I want to draw to the attention of the House some of the problems that intending visitors to Australia have under the Government's policy. It goes back to the Hobart decisions of the Australian Labor Party, and in part the Hobart Conference decided:

. . . review of all immigration procedures applying to South Africa, with the exception of those under the Special Humanitarian Programme, in an effort to avoid any significant inflow of people with marked racist attitudes . . .

That was followed by ministerial statements, by a prime ministerial statement and a policy statement by the then Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. A summary of policy contained in the Press release is: Exceptions would by made only in `compassionate, humanitarian and national interest circumstances'; South African citizens and residents and those visiting South Africa who wish to visit Australia would need to apply for visas at posts outside South Africa; permanent settlement applications to continue to be processed in South Africa; and Government had decided to enhance the special humanitarian program in relation to South Africa.

This is causing a great deal of trauma for Australians with relatives in South Africa. I would like to bring to the attention of the House the circumstances of three or four cases. The first one relates to friends who had made contact through Rotary International on a yearly basis and decided to visit each other's country. It is not a formal Rotary process, but it is an informal friendship relationship established through Rotary. Advice from the Department of Ethnic Affairs indicated that there was a 29-week wait for visas, that is a seven months wait for the details of travel which have been planned perhaps two years ahead. Another case: A Jewish family seeking to visit Australia to spend their Passover with family and relatives here applied well in advance of the time they wished to travel, in their view, on 9 December 1986. They wanted to depart on 9 April 1987. They have been told that there will be no inquiries, and no cables sent unless it is a life and death matter. In my view those two cases are compassionate cases of people seeking to do things right outside any prospect of any racist or apartheid attitude.

Mr Cohen —Have you raised it with the Minister?

Mr CADMAN —Yes, on many occasions.

Mr Cohen —These two cases?

Mr CADMAN —These two cases-and I have a list of seven cases. The Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr Young) should know that my colleagues are constantly in touch with me saying that they have circumstances which are similar to that. The process is that applicants for visas to visit Australia are sent to Harare. They are interviewed and the documents are sent back to Pretoria for processing. It is a crazy system that the Government has adopted. It is not affecting the apartheid policies of the South African Government. All it is doing is inconveniencing people, most of whom would not support the apartheid Government of South Africa.

Another case that I wish to bring to honourable members' attention relates to the parents of an Australian resident who applied for a visa in Capetown. They heard nothing for four months, so they decided to continue their world trip and visit to the United Kingdom. They got a knockback in London, but happened to visit Edinburgh, where their application was processed in 10 minutes. So much for the Minister's comments today that no instruction had gone out. It would be my view that Edinburgh was one of the places that had not received an instruction on deliberately delaying the processing of visitor visa applications and that it was processed in normal time. I bring to the Government's attention this needless inconvenience to decent people who are just seeking to take advantage of visiting friends and relatives in Australia. By any measure of compassion, under the Government's own policy these matters should be expedited.