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Tuesday, 16 September 1958
Page: 1286

Mr CLAREY (Bendigo) .- During the second-reading debate I mentioned that I intended to raise certain matters when clause 13 was before the committee. I should like to point out some differences between clauses 12 and 13. The latter clause reads -

Subject to section fifteen of this Act, where (whether before or after the commencement of this Part) an immigrant -

(a)   has been convicted in Australia of an offence punishable by death or by imprisonment for one year or longer, being an offence committed within five years after any entry by him into Australia; the Minister may order the deportation of the immigrant from Australia.

Clause 12 provides that where an alien has been convicted in Australia of certain crimes or of any offence for which he has been sentenced to imprisonment for one year or longer, the Minister may order his deportation. Honorable members will notice that paragraph (a) of clause 13 gives the Minister power to deport an alien for certain offences that are somewhat minor when compared with those mentioned in clause 12.

I do not desire at this stage to canvass in any way the case now being dealt with by the Minister. Until I examined these two clauses closely I did not realize that, as clause 13 now stands, an alien may commit a crime and be convicted and, although the offence may carry a term of imprisonment of twelve months or longer, the circumstances surrounding the particular offence may be regarded by the court as being of a trivial nature and a fine may be imposed, or a term of imprisonment may be imposed that is considerably less than the twelve months mentioned. In cases of that description the power of deportation should be exercised with a good deal of mercy and consideration. I know that it is not compulsory for the Minister to deport an immigrant who so offends but, in my opinion, unless an immigrant has been sentenced to imprisonment for a term of twelve months or longer this particular clause should not be used to bring about his deportation, otherwise an alien guilty of a minor offence would be subject to deportation. This action should not be taken unless the court, by the punishment it inflicts, indicates that the offence is of a serious nature.

Paragraph (c) of the clause provides that, subject to section 15 of this act, where an immigrant, within five years after any entry by him into Australia is an inmate of a mental hospital or public charitable institution, the Minister may order his deportation. I am sure all honorable members will agree that the wording of paragraph (c) is exceedingly wide. It would be possible that a person who had been admitted to a charitable institution or a hospital as a result of a road accident, or to undergo a minor operation, would be liable to deportation. It is not uncommon for a person who has a tendency towards mental neurosis voluntarily to enter a mental institution to receive the up-to-date treatment now available and, after being an inmate of that institution for a few weeks, to come out cured. As I indicated in my speech on the second-reading of the bill, I am seeking from the Minister an assurance that clause 13 (c) will be administered on a humane basis and that it will not be used in a frivolous way. I should like to hear what the Minister has to say on paragraphs (a) and (c) of clause 13.

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