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Tuesday, 5 July 1949

Mrs BLACKBURN (Bourke) .- I am opposed to the clause in its entirety and shall move for its deletion and the substitution of the new clause that I have drafted, of which the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) has a copy. My proposed clause is virtually the same as section 5 of the Aliens Deportation Act that was passed by this chamber last year. I consider that what was good at that time should be equally good now. Last December the Minister said -

There is a body of opinion which is to the effect that an alien, who fails to become a naturalized British subject after residing in Australia for six, seven or eight years, ought to be removed from Australia for refusing to become naturalized.

Despite this body of opinion government* have refused to submit legislation to compel aliens to leave, because it was thought to be unfair.

But the Minister who introduced this bill was not afraid of being thought unfair.

Mr Thompson - I rise to order. The now clause foreshadowed by the honorable member has not been read or distributed in the chamber. I consider that honorable members should know the text of it.

Mrs BLACKBURN - I submitted a draft of my proposed new clause to the Minister over a week ago. Although I arn sorry if it has not been circulated, the matter is out of my hands. I shall read it in a few minutes. It is possible that the Minister may have over-estimated the strength of the body of opinion already mentioned. This bill provides that wartime refugees who are aliens can be deported. There are other aliens who can be deported if considered to be undesirable. The law already takes care of that aspect. The measure excludes nonaliens, whether or not they are undesirable, at the discretion of the Minister. If they are undesirable the Minister can deport them under the provisions of the Aliens Deportation Act 1948. However, if the Minister must deport war-time refugees, let him usesection 5 of that legislation instead of the clause we are now considering, which gives the Minister absolute power. Accordingly, I move -

That the clause be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following clause:- "5. - (1.) If it appears to the Minister that the conduct and character of a person to whom this act applies is such that that person should not be allowed to remain in Australia, the Minister may, by notice in writing, summon the person to appear before a Commission, at the time and place specified in the summons. (2.) A Commissioner for the purposes of this section shall be appointed by the GovernorGeneral and shall be or shall have been a Judge of the Supreme Court of a State or of a Territory which forms part of the Commonwealth. (3.) The Commissioner shall make a thorough investigation of the conduct and character of the person without regard to legal forms and shall not be bound by any rules of evidence, but may inform himself on any relevant matter in such manner as he thinks fit. (4.) After the investigation the Commissioner shall report to the Minister as to whether the Commissioner considers that the person is a fit and proper person to be allowed to remain in Australia. (5.) If-

(a)   the Commissioner reports that he considers that the person is not a fit and proper person to be allowed to remain in Australia; or

(b)   the person fails toappear before the

Commissioner at the time and place specified in the summons, the Minister may make an order for deportation of the person from Australia and the person shall be deported accordingly.".

The suggested substitute clause contains a discretionary power and something more : it gives protection also. Under the Aliens Deportation Act 1948 a certain protection is provided for the alien or person to be deported. In this bill there is no such provision. Because they are war-time refugees there is to be no protection. Why not? By this clause I think that the Minister is breaking a promise that he gave to the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) when the former bill was before this chamber. No provision is here made for the alien or undesirable person to obtain assistance of counsel, or any other form of guidance. Under the clause the Minister has the power in his own hands. That is contrary to all ideas of justice, and is extremely dangerous. I oppose such a provision. In its present form this measure is not worthy in law, for it is not based on justice. Furthermore, it is not even common sense, because it is not sensible to offend inoffensive people.

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