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Tuesday, 9 September 1958
Page: 1010

Mr ALLAN FRASER (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Monaro) . - I wish to comment briefly on a statement made by the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer). Even at this late hour, such a statement should not go unchallenged. The Minister was replying to the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) on the Tropeano case. I have no direct knowledge of that case and. of course, I express no judgment as to whether Tropeano should be allowed to remain in Australia or not. But the Minister was dealing with contentions by the honorable member for Lalor as to the proper extent of ministerial power in deportation matters.

It seems to be undisputed that there is a possibility that this man will be allowed to remain in this country. The Minister has undertaken to examine fresh evidence and information and to review the whole case. But it also appears that if this man had not had friends and relatives to champion his cause, he would, under the exercise of the Minister's powers, now be on the high seas, deported from Australia, and beyond any possibility of having his case dealt with in any other way. It is in those circumstances that I question the statement which I understood the Minister to make - that if a Minister is given power, and very wide power, to import people into Australia, it follows as a necessary corollary that he should have some similar power to deport people from Australia. I do not think there is any corollary there at all, and that statement should not be allowed to stand.

Obviously, the Minister must be given very wide power indeed to import people into Australia. Those people are not within the scope of our law and cannot be dealt with by our courts. They are completely outside this country. We have no way whatever of judging their case, because we do not know them, and they are not in our country. However, it does not follow that the Minister cannot exercise with justice the power to import people into Australia, and it does not follow for one moment that there is not considerable, unfair discrimination in the choice of those who are allowed to come into Australia and in the shutting out of people because of their advanced or radical political opinions. I do not want to enter further into that aspect other than to say that whilst it may not be desirable, it is inevitable that the Minister must be given wide power over the importation of people into this country because the Parliament has no way of directly reviewing the decisions he has to make.

A totally different position surely should exist once a person has been admitted into this community. Once he has been brought here and is within this community it would be the sheerest despotism to say that everything else should be set aside and that the Minister should possess power to deport equal to the power he possesses to import a man into this country. Instead, surely the proper position is that the man, once having been admitted into this community, should from then onwards be given the maximum protection of our laws.

It is on that point that I rise to speak to-night, because the Minister said that honorable members should have inherent faith in the Ministers who are appointed to deal with these matters. I think that is the exact opposite of the truth. I think honorable members should have inherent suspicion of all Ministers in the execution of their administrative duties. I think that if any other position arises the value of the parliamentary system is considerably reduced. It is important that a Minister should have behind him the loyal support of the majority, which consists of those who are on the Government side, in matters of policy, but in matters of administration, particularly affecting individual rights, the proper function of all members of Parliament is to be eternally vigilant on behalf of the individual whose rights are being challenged, and suspicious of the way in which the Minister is exercising those administrative powers under the guidance of outside officials. If the Parliament adopted the view of the Minister that the Parliament itself should have inherent faith in the wisdom and Tightness of ministerial administrative actions, it would set aside its proper function in those matters in giving protection to the rights of indivdual citizens and would also set aside its recognition of the corrupting influence of power even on the most upright of the servants of the Queen in this Parliament.

Proposed votes agreed to.

Progress reported.

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