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Thursday, 8 September 1983
Page: 570

Mr HODGMAN —My question is directed to the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. Is it correct that the Minister has persistently refused to state publicly his reasons for revoking the deportation order in the Brett Collins case? As the judges consistently upheld the deportation order in the Collins case, why has the Minister reversed their decision?

Mr WEST —The honourable member has finally discovered the Collins case, I see. The first question to me on immigration and ethnic affairs is not with regard to policy but with regard to a deportation case. I have not refused to state my reasons. It is simply that it has been the practice of past Ministers not to state reasons in deportation decisions, unless they have actually gone against a decision of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to revoke a deportation order. However, I do not mind informing the honourable member of some of my reasoning on this very complex case.

First, Collins was a well-known prison activist who is married to an Australian citizen. My predecessor decided to deport Collins, but Collins left voluntarily some time in December last year. My Department informs me that the fact that he left voluntarily cast some doubt on whether a legal deportation order was still in existence and that the real question for me to decide was whether Collins should not be readmitted to Australia on the basis of his previous record. Collins applied to me, not long after I became Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, to re-enter Australia. I deferred that decision for consideration by me and my Department. He applied again recently to re-enter Australia to attend the hearings of a Federal Court case that he himself had instigated. The Federal Court was asked to overturn a decision by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal not to review further his deportation order.

I thought that the rules of natural justice were in favour of readmitting Collins so that he could be present during the hearing of the Federal Court case that he had instigated. When he reached Australia, his parole was revoked and he was incarcerated by the New South Wales authorities. After consultation with my Department, I decided that the only way out of this sorry mess was to revoke the deportation order, to settle the matter whether an order was in existence, and then to grant permanent entry to Collins. That was done several weeks ago.

I say to the honourable member for Denison, in conclusion on this matter, that the decision to readmit Collins is entirely in accordance with the deportation policy that I announced in this House in May. I said then that future deportation cases would be decided on four criteria: Firstly, the nature of the crime; secondly, the risk of recidivism; thirdly, the contribution that the person concerned might make to Australian society in the future; and, fourthly, the rights of other Australian citizens and permanent residents. On the last three of those criteria, Collins should be readmitted and should not have been deported by my predecessor in the first place. He was a prison activist. There was no real suggestion that there might be a risk of recidivism, and he had a son in Australia and had an Australian citizen as a wife. And in my view, he had some rights. I believe that he should never have been deported in the first place.

I might add that on no other case have I received more representations from Federal members of parliament and from respected members of the legal profession . The Human Rights Commission wrote to me about it. Many honourable members opposite have written to me asking for Collins to be readmitted to Australia.

Opposition members interjecting-

Mr WEST —I can name them.

Mr Sinclair —Senator Gareth Evans?

Mr WEST —Senator Gareth Evans has written to me. But a number of Opposition members who now see fit to heckle us on this decision have written to me making strong representations on this matter. I conclude by saying that it is not the policy of this Government to use deportation as a weapon to inflict double punishment. It is for the courts of the States and the Federal Court and the Federal Administrative Appeals Tribunal to decide that. It is not a double punishment; it is a measure to protect Australian society. On the three criteria that I have enunciated, Collins should never have been deported. The decision to revoke the order was entirely correct, and at least half of the Opposition members believe that that was the right decision.