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Tuesday, 30 May 1989
Page: 3042


Senator ROBERT RAY (Minister for Immigration, Local Government and Ethnic Affairs)(9.05) —Section 17a is planned to be the end of the road. There must be finality to the processes of selection. To add a discretionary power to revoke a mandatory order is, in my view, simply a nonsense. It defeats the purpose of the whole provision. A deportation order under section 18 can be revoked and is an auxiliary to section 17a. Of course 17a can be quashed by the Federal Court in an error of law. If an officer has signed an order based on a defective decision, it is open to the Federal Court to remit the case back for a fresh decision.

In relation to amendment No. 20, the distinction must be made here between a right to go voluntarily and a practice. Quite clearly, if we have apprehended someone and that person says, `Look, I am leaving on tomorrow's plane, here is my ticket', we are not about to deport him. He can go voluntarily. If a person says, `I have $20,000 in my pocket. If you take me to the Qantas office I will buy a ticket and you can see me off tomorrow', there is no reason for us to deport him. Why should we pay for his air fare if he wants to leave? There is always that sort of flexibility. I suppose that these days if we deported all these people we would take part of that $20,000 to pay for their air tickets-and we would probably send them first class just to make sure they went home happily! In regard to amendment No. 20, I would not like to make it a right for a person to be able to volunteer to go because this would have all sorts of other consequences. But it is certainly a practical administrative matter. If a person volunteers to go, proves that he is going and we can arrange for him to leave, that person would always be allowed to go voluntarily rather than be deported. That is just common sense.

I have a note on amendment No. 19 which I wish to put on the record. It should be borne in mind that the protection of the convention and the authority to remain pursuant to the Migration Act are two distinct streams. While the two streams are joined at various places for the sake of administrative convenience, they are nonetheless separate and apart. There can be protection and asylum in Australia without the benefit of an entry permit. There are two provisions of the convention relating to the status of refugees which are relevant. The first is paragraph 1 of article 31, which reads:

The contracting States shall not impose penalties on account of their illegal entry or presence on refugees who, coming directly from a territory where their life or freedom was threatened in the sense of article 1, enter or are present in their territory without authorisation, provided that they present themselves without delay to the authorities and show good cause for their illegal entry or presence.

The second is article 33, which reads:

1. No contracting State shall expel or return a refugee in any manner whatsoever to frontiers or territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.

2. The benefit of the present provision may not, however, be claimed by a refugee whom there are reasonable grounds for regarding as a danger to the security of the country in which he is or who, having been convicted by final judgment of a particularly serious crime, constitutes a danger to the community of that country.

The Bill allows a period of grace for a refugee claimant if he or she presents himself or herself without delay as required by article 31.