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Thursday, 17 September 1987
Page: 227

Mr CADMAN —My question is addressed to the Minister for Immigration, Local Government and Ethnic Affairs. If, as the Minister knows, his Department is up to 12 months behind in following up suspected illegal immigrants, how can the identification card expedite the apprehension of illegal immigrants? Also, are immigration officers prohibited from requesting the production of the identification card? Do officers face a fine of $5,000 or gaol if they make such a request of a suspect?

Mr YOUNG —Obviously officers of my Department have no right to demand the production of an identification card. The Department of Immigration, Local Government and Ethnic Affairs is not the department which will be in charge of the identification card, as the honourable member well knows. Employers will be requested to ask for the production of an identification card when a person is seeking employment. If the person does not produce the card, as the Minister for Community Services and Health said, he will be charged a higher rate of tax. That is the way it will operate.

By matching the number of people who enter Australia with the number who leave we have an estimate-basically the number under the previous Government was the same as it is today-of between 50,000 and 60,000 people who are in this country illegally, not taking into account people who are overstaying visas issued to them. It is found that 60 per cent of those apprehended have been working illegally in this country. This shows that 30,000 people are working illegally in this country. The system of the employer demanding the identification card will give us some idea of whether these people can continue in employment. If we take away the basis of their support, which is their opportunity to work here illegally, we may take away also their opportunity of staying here any longer.