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Wednesday, 20 August 1980
Page: 528

Mr GRAHAM (North Sydney) - I rise to support the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr Macphee) and the Immigration (Unauthorized Arrivals) Bill 1980. Although I have promised to cut my contribution to 10 minutes I wish to say one or two things about some of the remarks made by the previous speaker, my friend the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Les Johnson). He made references to entrepreneurs in evil. I presume that is a fair and proper socialist reference and employs a term which would be abhorrent to every good socialist wherever he may be. I also understood his references to philosophical conjecture but I am at a loss to understand how he can confuse this legislation with Australia's being a contracting state under the United Nations treaty of 1954 to which he referred.

We are dealing with people who engage in criminal operations. These people prey upon their victims by offering entry into Australia provided so much money is given to them. Then, by criminal methods, they get their victims into Australia and seek to impress the Government and the representatives of the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs that they should be allowed to stay. The references that were made to Vietnam by the honourable gentleman are understandable but if one wants a classic illustration of this type of situation one should look at Mexico and the United States of America. There is no doubt at all in my mind' that if people are engaged in criminal operations and taking millions of people out of one country and into another they will be found in that area of the world. They are highly organised. The Government of the United States needs to take a great deal of action, as quickly as possible, to stop this terrible trade.

The honourable member referred to 'unfettered powers' in terms such as 'draconian'. I think that is an exaggeration. I agree entirely with the Minister that there are governments which regard persecution, prejudice and discrimination as acceptable forms of conduct because they are dealing in their own countries with their political enemies. Whilst in the historical sense this legislation is not so remarkable, it is necessary in the interest of Australia because of a by-product of the fact to which I have referred. Authoritarian governments throughout history have been threatened by revolution from within their own national boundaries. In recent years new techniques have been evolved which are designed to reduce this internal threat.

The Minister, when introducing this Bill on 1 May 1980, made particular reference to the situation in Cuba which was at that time a remarkable development in a communist country. The Government of the United States responded with compassion. Although there were difficulties the generosity of the United States is not open to challenge. Many people have fled from Indo-China, without the approval of governments, to escape from the environment of communism. We are all familiar with the reasons for the historically famous Iron Curtain which stretches from the' Baltic to the Black Sea. However, in recent years criminal activities have emerged in the processes of movement and it is now clear that the laws of Australia can be flouted and thus the clandestine importation of illegal immigrants can take place. The criminals responsible for these activities manipulate their victims and extort their assets. It is admitted by all that this criminal trade is extremely profitable.

The Bill seeks to provide the means of dealing with the criminal manipulators if we can catch them. After all, there are Australian citizens who are involved in what is known as the drug trade, and some of them have been identified and caught by governments overseas. With respect, I venture to suggest that there might be Australians so depraved as to see advantages in this type of operation. I hope that the Government and the courts deal with them with no compunction.

The Minister has made it clear that the legislation is not directed at the passengers and victims duped by the criminals because it is quite possible that these unfortunates will qualify in due course for resettlement within Australia as refugees. Circumstances in recent years have led to the Government's introduction of this legislation. The Minister said in his second reading speech:

Towards the end of 1978 five large freighters filled with Vietnamese arrived in parts of South East Asia. The Southern Cross sailed into Indonesian waters, the Hai Hong arrived off Malaysia, the Huey Fong and the Sky Luck showed up in Hong Kong and the Tung An went to the Philippines. Each carried between 1,300 and 3,000 passengers who had paid to leave their homeland with the sanction of their government.

Over th; past five years, small boatloads of refugees have made their way direct to our shores.

Of course, they have been the survivors. We now know that those who set out on the perilous voyages have to go through the misery of the attention of pirates in the Gulf of Siam and in the waters to the north-east of Singapore. They undergo incredible experiences from which probably half of them lose their lives and assets. The Minister continued:

A total of S3 such small boats has arrived in Australia carrying a total of 2,067 people. This total number is smaller than the numbers carried by some of the large vessels ... We have continued to be concerned about the risks taken by people in small boats who undertake this hazardous journey. The Government has established machinery to ensure that only those among these arrivals who qualify to remain in Australia are permitted to do so.

That is the background of the legislation. We are dealing with people who are criminals and who seek to break the laws of Australia and in so doing manipulate the unfortunate, wretched victims and extort from them their assets. No reasonable country, no reasonable government, can possibly tolerate that.

If the amendments of the honourable member for Maribyrnong (Dr Cass) become part of the legislation they will help and not hinder those who are deemed to be guilty of crimes to which we have referred. I turn now to the onus of proof. I think that in a court of law a decision will be made about an individual without an onus being fully and totally discharged. If it is apparent on compassionate grounds to a judge that a defendant is not one of the major associates in what has been referred to in this House as a 'racket', such a defendant would get the benefit of the judgment. I repeat that I support the Bill. Unless the Government has made up its mind that it will accept some of the amendments my preference is to oppose them.

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