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Thursday, 7 November 1985
Page: 1768


Senator KILGARIFF(5.44) —I have read the statement on immigration serving immigrants and Australia by the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr Hurford). The document is interesting and obviously the Minister is very keen on his portfolio. In looking at the paper he has produced, one commends him for it. As secretary of the Opposition committee on immigration and ethnic affairs, I have noticed that on numerous occasions the Minister has assisted the Opposition backbench committee and there is a good liaison between him and the committee. It is also to be commended that at times the Minister and the shadow Minister have put joint press statements on immigration. This indicates that both the Government and the Opposition have a real interest in immigration and migrants.

I wish to speak briefly to the paper, which is a fairly general one. It points out that the Minister envisages and hopes that migration will be raised from some 80,000 a year now to a figure in perhaps a year or within a few years of 100,000. I support that statement for I believe that even though we have difficulties with the problem of employment-and I suppose these days most nations have difficulties-migrants have brought enormous value to Australia. They have developed the industries of Australia and have contributed in so many ways that have made Australia what it is today. This has been demonstrated by the fact that until now some four million migrants have come to Australia. They have come from a hundred countries or more. When one looks around Australia now, whether in the main streets of towns or in schools, one notices the various hues and colours of skin and the various nationalities that now make up this country. I believe that Australia has been greatly enriched by the migrants from these many countries.

It is obvious that the Minister is concerned about illegal immigration. I do not say that he overstresses the problem, but obviously he wants to bring about a situation where he gets everybody to support him in taking strong measures. It almost sounds in the paper as if there is a plea for support for the taking of strong action against those who have come to Australia in various ways, but in any event they are illegal migrants. Illegal migrants must be found as much as possible. He or she must leave the country and, wherever possible, must be prevented from coming into Australia. I imagine every senator in this chamber would have some experience of people from overseas who, whether for family reunion or some other reasons, for a long time have been waiting to come to Australia. Illegal migrants are preventing, to some degree, those people from coming here. Therefore, I believe that the Minister has full support from all sections of the Senate in ensuring that illegal migrants are kept to a minimum. Senators move around the world and visit many countries. Last year I was fortunate to go to Indo-China in a delegation. I found there many migrants who wished to come to Australia.


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Elstob) —Order! The honourable member's time has expired.