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Friday, 29 May 1987
Page: 3657

Mrs SULLIVAN(4.24) —I congratulate the honourable member for Banks (Mr Mountford) on revealing those incidents. I think that all of us who have been involved with immigration cases have suspected at times that there are people in a industry misleading people who want to become immigrants to this country into believing that there are ways of doing it when in fact all they are doing is taking down vulnerable people. I hope that the honourable member's efforts are rewarded.

I also rise to speak on the subject of immigration and to correct the grotesque misrepresentation of the Liberal Party's policy on immigration and ethnic affairs given today in Question Time by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Holding). The Minister, of course, assists the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr Young) in case histories and is quite familiar with immigration principles and procedures. In a quite spurious answer to a question, the Minister attempted to portray the Liberal Party's policy on immigration and ethnic affairs as anti-family and anti-refugee. He quoted selectively from it and attempted to make much play on a few words. For the information of the House, I shall read the sections of the policy which refer to families and refugees. It states:

The next Liberal government will continue family reunion and humanitarian immigration programs. However, increases in the level of immigration should aim at attracting migrants who are younger and who are either skilled, knowledgeable or educated, and employable. People who possess financial resources or entrepreneurial skills will be particularly encouraged.

Of course, that refers to increases in the program. It continues:

The basis of our immigration and ethnic affairs policy must always be the national interest of Australia and its people, accompanied by a compassionate and sensible recognition of our international responsibilities and an acceptance of our humanitarian obligations to the world community.

In a section of the policy headed `The Nine Principles' reference is made to principles which have remained unchanged for the last 10 years and this therefore contains nothing new. These words have been in the Liberal Party's policies for a very long time. In this section, the following words appear:

Migrant entry criteria should be developed on the basis of the economic and social benefit to the Australian community for people other than those admitted for family reunion or as refugees.

In other words, matters pertaining to family reunion or refugees are considered to be special cases. It goes on to say:

Applicants should be considered for immigration as individuals or individual family units, not as community groups. An exception will be refugees in designated refugee situations, although even in such circumstances the criteria for selection will be related to the characteristics of individual applicants.

That has been the principle of refugee programs of this country under Liberal and Labor governments for many years. The sixth principle is enunciated as follows:

The standard for eligibility and suitability of migrants should reflect Australian social mores and Australian law. Polygamous unions will not be accepted, nor the entry of child fiances or fiancees. The concept of `immediate family' for eligibility purposes will be derived from the Australian norm, that is, the unit consisting of husband, wife, unmarried children and aged parents.

I reiterate that those principles have applied to our immigration programs for years.

Mr Holding —What about brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews?

Mrs SULLIVAN —As the Minister knows very well, it does not exclude brothers and sisters or nieces and nephews. Under our program they would have no less priority than would be the case under the Labor Party's policy-which has involved a continual downgrading of migrants, I might say. The only special treatment provided to families involves, of course, the immediate family-which matter I have referred to. The policy statement goes on to say:

Family reunion will continue and we will provide opportunities for independent retirees . . .

If there is one group that this Government has cut out, and it cut it out very quickly after it came to power in March 1983, it is the sibling of an independent retiree, someone who has been in Australia for 20 or 30 years. This involves a person who emigrated here in their twenties or thirties, who had brothers and sisters who stayed behind because they had parents there, but because their parents are now dead they want to join the family in Australia. They have superannuation entitlements or pensions and the ability to buy a home and to be independent, but, in the May 1983 statement they were cut off. The situation might have been relieved a little recently, but only slightly. I point out to the Minister that I know very well how many of those cases were sitting on my desk, involving people who were previously eligible but who became ineligible after the present Government came to power. So much for the Government's sensitivity in relation to the reunification of families under an immigration program.

Finally, I draw attention to the section of the policy that is headed `Special Humanitarian and Refugee Programs'. The Minister referred to this section at length. He referred to the words `refugee settlement will not form a permanent segment of our migrant intake'. The Minister knows very well that that refers to an earlier statement made in that same section. He should read the section again, the contents of which are self-evident to everyone-the Minister, me, and anyone who is interested.

Madam SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member's time has expired.