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Thursday, 8 September 1960

Mr HASLUCK (Curtin) (Minister for Territories) . - There was one word in the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) that attracted my notice because it is heard in several places. It was also the word on which he relied a good deal in building up his case. That word was, " spokesman ". The latest person whom he dignified with the title " spokesman " was my colleague, the honorable member for Ballaarat (Mr. Erwin). I have the greatest personal regard for the honorable member for Ballaarat, and I am sure he will not contradict me, nor misunderstand me, when I say he is not, and has never pretended to be, the spokesman for the Government on this or other matters.

It is characteristic of the case that was built up by the Leader of the Opposition that he should have relied again and again on what some spokesman for somebody is supposed to have said. This reliance on spokesmen is rather flimsy. In this case, as honorable members know, the honorable member for Ballaarat rose in his place in this House the other night during the adjournment debate in order to make it quite clear that what he had said in relation to this particular matter had been misrepresented and distorted by the press. Yet the Leader of the Opposition continues to rely on a statement by a private member, which was not made on behalf of the Government, and which that private member himself points out was incorrectly reported! If the other spokesmen upon whom the Leader of the Opposition has relied have the same qualifications, then the evidence submitted by the Leader of the Opposition is open to question.

Before I proceed to discuss some of the other aspects, I should point out that it is necessary to see this whole question in the round, and to see it plainly and clearly from both the legal side and the administrative side. The point that has to be made quite clear because it has been overlooked is that the immigration laws of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea are separate from the immigration laws of the Commonwealth of Australia. The immigration laws of the Territory are contained in ordinances passed by the Legislative Council for the Territory, and those laws are administered by the Administrator of the Territory.

What those laws provide is that conditions of entry into Papua and New Guinea are not identical with conditions for entry into Australia. Tests are applied separately, having regard to the special circumstances existing in the Territory. I understand that, certainly among the academic critics outside this House - I should think ako by the Opposition because they tolerated this position when they were the government - it is admitted that there should be this distinction between immigration into Papua and New Guinea and immigration into Australia.

The second point I want to make clear is that in the administration of these laws the same procedure is being followed to-day as was followed under the previous Government and as has been- followed since the administrative union was created. 1 am sure those procedures would have been followed in exactly the same way as they were followed in this case if the Opposition had been the government and if the Leader of the Opposition had been the head of that government.

What happens is that any one wishing to enter the Territory of Papua and New Guinea applies for a permit. The granting of permits is the responsibility of the Administrator of the Territory. The main purpose behind this permit system is to ensure that non-indigenous persons going to the Territory have the means to support themselves there, do not become a charge upon the State, do not become a nuisance to the Administration and do not create conditions in the Territory which would make the great responsibilities of administration any more difficult than they are. That was the position under the previous Government, and it is the position under the present Government.

In the course of the last eleven years - that is, from 1 950, taking each calendar year up to this time - over 40,000 permits ofentry have been granted by the Administrator. According to the Statistician's figures, annual arrivals into the Territory range from 29,000 to 30,000. Some of those would be persons who have gone away on leave and are returning on re-entry permits. Some would be new arrivals. In the last eleven years, over 40,000 permits have been granted, whilst only fifteen have been refused.

These figures are illustrative of one unchallengeable point and it is this: The Administrator of the Territory has clearly not exercised his powers in respect of permits of entry in any capricious or light way, and it is clear that he has not used his power of exclusion to excess. As I have said, fifteen persons have been excluded and 40,000 have been permitted to ente the Territory. That record shows quite clearly that this power of exclusion has been exercised responsibly and carefully and not in a fashion onerous to the applicants. When we examine the reasons for refusing permits in fifteen cases, we find that in six of those cases married couples were involved. Both the husband and wife were refused a permit of entry. So we really have twelve separate cases of refusal of permit of entry whereas 40,000 permits were granted. Of those refused entry, some were refused because they had a criminal record. Some were refused because of health reasons, such as the existence of a contagious or loathsome disease. Some were refused on grounds which would have led to their exclusion from Australia, and a total of five persons, including two married couples, or three separate cases, involved questions of security. 1 want to say something now and say it carefully so that it will not be misunderstood. Let us stand apart from the Pro fessor Gluckman case for the moment, and consider those cases where a permit of entry was refused. Let us consider this question of whether or not the Administrator or the Government should make public the reason for refusing a permit. Let us take the case of those four persons who were refused a permit of entry because they had a criminal record. I want it to be quite clear that I am not suggesting for a moment, and I do not want any one to misunderstand me or believe that Professor Gluckman has a criminal record. 1 am talking of hypothetical cases quite apart from the case we are discussing. Would any honorable member opposite say that if we excluded some person on the ground that he had a criminal record - and that would mean a bad criminal record - the Administrator should at once publish to the world the whole of the man's criminal record? Take the case of a person excluded for health reasons such as a person infected with a contagious or even a loathsome disease. Do any honorable members suggest that the reasons for the refusal of the permit should be made public to the world so that every one might know the whole details of the story?

These are matters which surely are personal to the applicant for a permit. If the applicant who has been refused a permit chooses to publish the information to the world that is, of course, his concern; but surely it is not our function as a Government, or the function of the Administrator, having refused the permit, to tell every one the reasons? These are personal to the applicant and we should respect his right to privacy.

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