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Wednesday, 17 September 1958
Page: 1309

Mr DUTHIE (Wilmot) .- I wish to discuss subparagraph, (ii) of paragraph (c) of sub-clause (1.). This clause is designed to modify the requirements for the granting of a certificate of exemption to a prohibited immigrant in accordance with the .assurance that we were given by the Minister for Immigration in his secondreading speech, in which he pointed out that the principal act makes no provision for the admission to Australia for permanent residence of a person who is a prohibited immigrant by reason of bad character or poor health.

The Minister dealt with the position of young immigrants who wish to bring their fathers and mothers to this country, and pointed out the difficulty of their situation should the father have been convicted and sentenced to a term of imprisonment of a year or more in his own country. In such an event, the existing law regards him as a prohibited immigrant and bars him from permanent residence. The Minister, in accordance with the humane streak in his character, expressed the view that a certificate for permanent residence should be given to such people. He said that it would be very inhumane to prevent an aged father from coming to Australia merely because he had served a term in gaol in his native country. This problem is now to be overcome by the provision of special entry permits for such people.

The Minister mentioned only aged fathers. I ask him now whether there is to be an age limit applied in respect of this humanitarian provision. Is it to operate only in respect of aged parents, or will it provide also for fathers, even if not aged, sons, wives, or even daughters, who may be considered to be of bad character, who may have health weaknesses, or who may have served a term of imprisonment in their own country? The Minister's .general purpose is very laudable, but I think that this provision should be implemented on a restricted basis. Great care will be needed in implementing it. Each case will have to be dealt with very strictly on its merits, and careful attention will have to be paid, in the case of a person who has served a gaol sentence, to the crime of which, he was convicted and to the length of the term of imprisonment.

I should like the Minister to amplify the manner in which it is intended to give effect to his humanitarian policy. I realize that, at times, people on whose behalf members of the Parliament have made representations have been refused admission to this country on the grounds of bad character, of health deficiencies, or of a prison .sentence. At the same time, we must bear in mind that in some overseas countries terms of imprisonment may have been served for very trifling offences, and this should not prevent a person from becoming a permanent resident of Australia. A term in prison may have been served, on the other hand, for a really serious crime, and it may be dangerous to admit as a permanent resident a person who has served such a sentence.

I should like to say, in conclusion, that I welcome the Minister's humanitarian objective of easing the provisions of the law with respect to the granting of certificates of exemption, for the sake of family solidarity. The existing provisions of the principal act have often kept families divided in the absence of this humanitarian approach to their problems. However, I emphasize that the authorities will have to exercise great care in giving effect to the Minister's intentions by implementing the provisions of this clause.

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