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Monday, 9 September 1996
Page: 3102

(Question No. 126)

Senator Woodley asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, upon notice, on 9 July 1996:

(1) Are there any figures available on the number of East Timorese refugees who are attempting to arrive in Australia by boat.

(2) Are the applications from East Timorese refugees who arrive in Australia by boat treated differently to (a) those from other countries who also arrive by boat; and (b) refugees who do not arrive by boat.

(3) Does the Federal Government advise the Indonesian Government when East Timorese people apply for refugee status in Australia.

Senator Short —The Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) There is no information available on how many East Timorese attempt to arrive in Australia illegally by boat. However, over the period May 1995 to date, 18 East Timorese have arrived in Australia by boat, without authorisation.

(2) All applications for asylum are assessed on a case by case basis under the terms of the UN Convention and Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees. Australia's determination procedures ensure that decision making is consistent and undertaken in a fair and open manner. This applies to all asylum seekers irrespective of their country of origin or their mode of arrival in Australia.

(3) Like other Government departments, the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs is governed by the Privacy Act in its management of personal information. All information contained on an application for a Protection Visa is treated as private and confidential. No such information, including the fact that an application has been made, is passed to the applicant's country of origin.