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Minister announces Vietnamese water puppeteers' visas approved



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The Hon. Philip Ruddock MR Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs Telephone: (02) 6277 7860 Facsimile: (02) 6273 4144

MRS 01/99 MINISTER ANNOUNCES VIETNAMESE WATER PUPPETEERS’ VISAS APPROVED

The Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Philip Ruddock, said today that visa applications by members of the Vietnamese Water Puppet group to visit Australia had been approved.

"I have been advised by my Departments office in Ho Chi Minh City that visas for members of the Vietnamese Water Puppet group to visit Australia have been approved this morning," Mr Ruddock said.

The Minister said additional information had been provided by the promoters of the group’s Australian tour as well as organisers of the Festival of Sydney.

“Among other things, this included information about the extensive previous overseas travel of members of the group.

“Certain undertakings were also given, with the result that Immigration officers were able to satisfy themselves of the bona fides of the members of the group.”

The Minister said that there were some important points that needed to be made about the issue.

"First, contrary to comments in the public arena, visa applications for members of the group were received in the Ho Chi Minh City office of the Department on 4 December, NOT ‘several months ago' or ‘three months ago’, as has been reported," Mr Ruddock said.

"The Visa application process is separate to sponsorship which is pursued in Australia and for which there are separate issues that must be addressed.

"Second, there is a proper process in place for determining whether or not an applicant should be granted a visa.

"All applications are considered on a case by case basis, on their merits and against Australia’s migration laws

"Applicants must meet standard health and character requirements. They are also required to satisfy the Department that the reason for their visit is genuine and that they will abide by the terms and conditions of their visa including, among other things, that they will depart Australia before their visa expires.

“The public needs to be satisfied that there are proper processes in place to determine whether or not a person should be granted a visa,” Mr Ruddock said.

"This includes ensuring that applicant's bona fides check out and that they will abide by the terms and conditions of their visa.”

ENDS Monday, 4 January, 1999

Media Inquiries: Brad Robinson (02) 6277 7860 or 0419 278 715 Immigration information is also available on the Internet at www.iimni.gov.au