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Wednesday, 24 August 1983
Page: 232


Mr WEST (Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs)(10.29) —I did not expect any opposition from the honourable member for Denison (Mr Hodgman) who is the Opposition shadow Minister on this point as he said that he would only be looking to his amendment later. As he has put forward what I term to be facetious arguments I must say that it is my considered opinion, upon what I believe to be sound advice, that the first point he has raised is fallacious. To change the Act in the way that I have suggested means that the situation the honourable member for Denison (Mr Hodgman) described cannot come about because ' spouse' under Australian law means the wife or husband of another person. There will not be a situation where a man can have a husband, as suggested by the shadow Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. That is the position.

Let me refer to the other matter that the honourable member raised, the amendment to delete section 7 (4). At the moment something like 60,000 illegal immigrants are in Australia. It is true that in the current Act after five years these immigrants are in fact granted amnesty, they cannot be deported. But also they cannot work. They are in a sort of no-man's land where they cannot be deported. It is not legal for me to make them permanent residents either and to allow them to work. So what are we in fact to do? If we are to leave the situation as it stands at the moment they cannot work, yet they cannot be deported. We have considered this very closely. There is only one way out of it. That is, to repeal the section and allow ministerial discretion to apply.

Amendments agreed to.

Clauses, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 11 (Deportation of non-citizens upon security grounds after report by Commissioner).