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Tuesday, 30 May 1989
Page: 3033


Senator TEAGUE(8.20) —Compassion! I do not wish to speak on any of the other Australian Democrats amendments unless I am really provoked. I rise, firstly, because Senator Jenkins said that this was a most significant amendment amongst those listed by her. Secondly, in her speech in the second reading debate she placed a great deal of emphasis upon the word `compassion'. I happen to agree entirely with all that Senator Robert Ray and my colleague Senator Alston have said. I happen to hold the view that all of us in the chamber place great significance upon compassion and the relevance of compassion, as those preceding me have said, in most decisions relating to immigration. It would be entirely wrong for anyone to purport that, because this particular Democrat amendment is being opposed by the rest of us in this chamber, there is any want of compassion on our part.

The analogy that comes to mind and illustrates why I disagree with the way Senator Jenkins put this principle as a foundation point of her speech on the second reading debate is the analogy that amongst the churches in Australia we occasionally get a warmhearted person saying, `Theology doesn't matter, only love'. It is as if that kind of appeal to love-or in this case, appeal to compassion-were so pre-eminent and self-evident to everyone participating in any decision that we did not need any other kind of definition at all. That is not the experience of the churches in this country. It is found to be the case that in determining questions of decision in churches, or in any advice about ethical matters or moral advice, a whole series of matters ought to be defined and logically applied.

Without carrying that analogy too far let it be made very clear that the Opposition supports the view that there needs to be defined policies by the elected government of the day and for those policies to be set forth from time to time in regulations under this Act. Every word of those regulations is important. It is superficial to think that we can, without the need of any of those particular regulations, just rely upon compassion, wisdom or fairness. Without making any more of a meal of it, without conceding one jot to anyone who would decry those not supporting this Democrat amendment, and whilst accepting that we all place a great weight upon sensible compassion, we should accept that there must be regulations and that the decision-making under the immigration legislation of this country should be on the basis of the whole of the regulations and policies of the elected government.