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Thursday, 13 October 1983
Page: 1754

Mr HODGMAN(4.53) —As shadow Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, I welcome the opportunity to participate in the debate on the estimates for the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs for the year 1983-84. I welcome, as one would have expected, the presence in the chamber of the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr West). I note that this year the total amount to be appropriated for his Department is a record $153,455,000. It is fair, therefore, to say that, in the context of government expenditure, immigration and ethnic affairs is a quite significant item. I congratulate the Minister from the outset on some progressive aspects which I note in the estimates for the Department.

The only mention of immigration and ethnic affairs in the Budget Speech of the Treasurer (Mr Keating) occurred on page 11 of the distributed copy of that Speech when the Treasurer, in reference to assistance to migrants, stated:

In 1983-84 an additional 60 grants at a cost of $778,000 will be provided under the Grant-in-Aid Scheme to assist ethnic and other community organisations to employ social welfare workers to provide services to migrants.

The additional grants will bring the total number of grants under the scheme to 200 by June 1984.

On behalf of the Opposition, I congratulate the Government and the Minister on that initiative. I have pointed out on a previous occasion that, following the election of the Hawke socialist Government, we have seen a radical and dangerous change in immigration and ethnic affairs policies, and that these changes are causing widespread concern throughout the entire Australian community and not just the ethnic communities. As I said on an earlier occasion, to put it bluntly , Australia's immigration and ethnic affairs policies under the new Minister have taken a radical turn to the Left.

I give the Minister full marks for the fact that he has never concealed his ideological commitment to the Left and I acknowledge the fact that he is the senior member of the socialist Left in the Hawke socialist Cabinet. The Minister is taking advantage of the opportunity which has fallen into his lap, but I make the point that down the track Australia will suffer as the result of the new radical and dangerous turn to the Left which has come into our immigration and ethnic affairs policies. I suggest that an electoral backlash is already building up throughout ethnic communities right around Australia. We cannot appease the Soviet Union, as the Hawke socialist Government has done consistently since 5 March, without upsetting a significant--

Mr Punch —I raise a point of order, Mr Chairman. To the best of my knowledge, we do not have a large intake of migrants from the Soviet Union. I expect that that remark is out of order.

The CHAIRMAN —Order! There is no point of order.

Mr HODGMAN —Thank you, Mr Chairman. I do not know on whose instructions my friend interposed. I am not talking about the Soviet Union. As my colleague will concede, I am certainly not a friend of the Soviet Union. I am saying that the Government has upset a very significant group in the ethnic communities of this country by its attitude towards the Soviet Union and a consistent policy of appeasement. As a matter of interest, I am pleased that the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Holding) is in the chamber. He and I share a common and long standing position in relation to Israel. The Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs is about to upset the entire Jewish community by granting approval for the establishment in this country of an office representing forces which are, in every sense of the word, inimical to Israel. Mr Chairman, I did not wish to go into these matters in detail. The public is following carefully what the Government is doing.

I wish to deal with a few constructive aspects, hoping that the Minister may be prepared, before it is too late, to take up one or two points from the Opposition and to look at how his policies are working in practice. I have complained, and I will continue to complain, about the harsh and arbitrary line which the Minister takes in refusing to exercise his discretion in relation to persons who are in Australia on a visa and who wish to convert to permanent resident status. Mr Chairman, you, as a former senior and highly respected Minister in the Whitlam Government, will know that 98 per cent of a Minister's duty is routine. The Minister is called upon in about two per cent of cases to exercise his ministerial discretion, to represent fairly, balancing the interests of both sides, the will of the people.

There are cases in which a person in Australia on a visa should be able to convert to permanent resident status, not as the rule but as the exception. The only exception that the Minister has conceded is marriage to an Australian citizen. With the greatest of respect, I have to draw the Minister's attention to the fact that last year some 15,000 applications were made to his predecessor Ministers, about 1,000 of which were approved. Only yesterday I was again in the situation of an employer ringing me from Sydney and saying that one of his workers, a highly valued member of his staff, had been picked up, was in detention and was being sent back to England. As it turns out, that young man and his wife, through the co-operation of the Minister's office, which was most helpful, have indicated that they will go voluntarily. When they get back to the United Kingdom, they will have to apply to come back to Australia as permanent residents. They could be confronted with a waiting delay, even with the employer 's sponsorship. In the meantime, that business will be disrupted. I ask the Minister to exercise his discretion-to use it-instead of simply applying what I regard as an arbitrary and, quite frankly, too strict rule which is causing considerable hardship.

I ask the Minister to look again at the ceiling he has placed on family reunions for this year. The Minister will tell me if I am wrong, but the figures that I have indicate that he will be allowing into this country only about 57, 000-

Mr West —It is double what you did.

Mr HODGMAN —I ask the Minister to be good enough to hear me. Otherwise he will do as he has done in the past. He is very good in this respect; it is probably his long years of training in the socialist Left which gave him this skill. He interjects; he endeavours to sidetrack; and then he says: 'What happened? You finished your speech and you did not mention this, that or the other'. An intake of 57,000 people is an increase on the intake under the previous Government. But I must say to the Minister-he will hear this with his own ears next Saturday night when he and I will both be in Sydney-that there is concern in relation to family reunions. Is the Minister prepared to look at that matter and also at the provisions which apply?

I specifically mention three matters before the forces of the socialist republican elements of the Hawke Government really descend on the people of Australia and do some horrible things to us. There are persistent rumours-the Minister himself has indicated this-that the Government is going to do something in relation to the oath of allegiance prescribed under the Citizenship Act. I do not want to anticipate a debate in the Parliament and I am not so doing, but I urge the Minister to think very carefully before he answers the pleadings of the Hon. Franca Arena, MLC, and others and falls for the trap of taking out of the oath of allegiance a reference to the Queen of Australia which finds its way into the oath of allegiance not as the result of legislation introduced by a Liberal-National Party government but as a result of legislation brought into this Parliament in 1973 when Mr E. G. Whitlam was Prime Minister of Australia, a piece of legislation called the Royal Style and Titles Act.

One of the Minister's colleagues-I do not name him-has indicated that if he had his way, because he does not conceal his socialist republican ambitions, he would cut out not only the reference to the Queen but also the reference to God. I point out to him that he does not have to do that because the Citizenship Act provides for an oath and for an affirmation.

Mr Hand —What about-

Mr HODGMAN —I will not embarrass the honourable member. The people of Australia can hear with their own ears that there is at least one in the chamber who would like to see the citizenship oath amended by deleting reference to the Queen and any reference to God. Where is the Government's mandate to do this? Is it correct that it is the first of a trilogy of amendments which the Minister, along with his colleagues, intends to introduce to destroy the oath of allegiance, to cut out any reference at all to the Queen of Australia, to destroy the flag and to move eventually to a republican Australia? The Government has no mandate to do this and the reaction that it will bring out amongst the Australian community will be enormous. Those colleagues of the Minister who attend citizenship ceremonies will know that very few people have any problem at all with the oath of allegiance. I appeal to the Minister not to take any action and not to pander to the socialist republicans but to do what I have put to him on a number of occasions-to issue every brand new Australian citizen with an Australian flag and with an Australian flag lapel badge, one of which I am wearing, so that they may have something as a memento of the finest flag in the world and of the finest country in the world. Do not get trapped by these socialist republicans. Stand up for Australia. Stand up for our traditional values. I urge the Minister to reconsider.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Millar) —Order! The honourable member's time has expired .