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Thursday, 13 October 1983
Page: 1777

Mr HODGMAN(8.30) —I rejoin the debate to comment on one or two matters that have arisen since I spoke earlier this afternoon. I say at the outset that nothing the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr West) said in his reply to the remarks I addressed to the chamber caused me any upset or concern whatsoever. The Minister and I in political terms are probably as far apart as any two members of this chamber, but one thing I have appreciated with respect to this Minister is that our debates in this chamber-to date we have successfully done this-have not been on a personal basis. As far as I am concerned, the Minister's remarks in response to what I said were perfectly proper and I have no complaint whatsoever.

Unfortunately, though, other remarks followed, and I shall make some reference to them. But before I do I associate myself with the remarks of the honourable member for Cook (Mr Dobie) and in particular with the remarks he addressed to the chamber with respect to the Big Brother Movement. I have heard the Minister' s response and I can follow the line of reasoning upon which he bases his response. But, along with the honourable member for Cook, I say to the Minister: In view of the fact that the Big Brother Movement has been part of a tradition extending for some 50 years, the honourable member for Cook arranged for members of the Big Brother Movement to meet with me recently. I spoke with present and past executives of that organisation. More importantly, I spoke with two Little Brothers who came to Australia over 25 years ago and have very much made their mark in our Australian community.

I ask the Minister to receive representations on this matter because a point of view was espoused by the honourable member for Cook, and supported by me, which I would like to put to the Minister. I must in fairness say that except in respect of matters upon which the Minister has laid down a firm guideline, as far as I am concerned I have not the slightest quarrel with the way in which he applies himself to the determination of matters which come within his ministerial portfolio. I think it should be stated in this chamber that I have had nothing but the utmost co-operation from the Minister's staff and from the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. I do not have a lot to do with the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs in Canberra but I have a lot to do, as Federal member for Denison, with the Department's regional office in Hobart and, to a lesser extent, in Launceston. Those offices have a very heavy work burden. As I think the honourable member for Lowe (Mr Maher) said, practically every decision they make will cause some reaction, if not political certainly personal. I have the greatest admiration for those offices and I place on record that as far as I am concerned I am fortunate as shadow Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs to have been able to have that sort of support and assistance from the Minister's office.

Having said that and having acknowledged the work of the Department and the Minister's firmly held idelogical beliefs, I am sure he will recognise that I have the right to express my views in this Parliament on behalf of my Party, on behalf of the coalition in opposition and on behalf of, I would hope millions but perhaps hundreds of thousands of Australians who may espouse some of the matters which I bring up on their behalf in the Parliament and in other places in the course of my duties. It is for that reason that I suggest to the Minister , despite the modesty with which he says that if he had his way he would like to see things go a little further, that out there in the real Australia there is, rightly or wrongly-let me be frank to say rightly or wrongly-concern as to where you are leading us. I do not believe that in a political sense it was unreasonable for me to say in the Parliament that under you and under the Hawke socialist Government, immigration and ethnic affairs have taken what I conceive to be a radical turn to the left.

Mr West —In what areas?

Mr HODGMAN —Would you like me to articulate them? I will. Firstly, the Government of which you are a member-

Mr Barry Jones —What about-

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Millar) —The honourable member may articulate his views through the Chair.

Mr HODGMAN —I will be delighted to do so. I again wish the Minister for Science and Technology a happy birthday for yesterday. It is a great shame that the House did not acknowledge the birthday of the Minister for Sciences and Technology. Having said that, the Government, of which the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs is a senior member, took a decision earlier this year which upset hundreds of thousands of migrants who have come to this country . It decided to drop all sanctions against the Soviet Union. It then took decisions which, as the honourable member for Cook and I have said in the Parliament, indicated to the public that it is anti-British. The Minister cannot take away the capacity to speak the English language and he cannot say that there is a pro-British bias without bringing about some reaction in the Australian community. Interestingly enough, I have heard the reaction expressed on both sides-that is, from British migrants and the descendants of British migrants and from the descendants of non-British migrants.

I gave the Minister full marks. I wish the honourable member for Barton (Mr Punch) were here to recognise that I started my address earlier today by congratulating the Minister and the Government on a major Budget initiative. I congratulated the Minister recently when he withdrew the dinstinction between British and non-British residents in Australia in relation to their ability to deportation. We parted company shortly thereafter because deportation has virtually been abolished in this country as a result of the legislation brought into the Parliament by the Minister. On the one hand the Minister acted to take away a distinction which is an anomoly-the Opposition supported him on that-but on the other hand, whether he intended it or not, some of the decisions he has taken have created a chasm between non-British migrants in this country and those of British descent.

Mr Lusher —An abyss.

Mr HODGMAN —As the honourable member for Hume said, an abyss. That is indeed unfortunate. My remarks in relation to the oath of allegiance as prescribed in the Australian Citizenship Act 1948-73 should not be lightly cast aside. The oath of allegiance is worth recounting in this chamber. When I read to the chamber the words of that oath, the Committee will concede that it is a beautiful oath or, in the case of an affirmation, a beautifual affirmation. It says it all. The oath states:

I, . . . renouncing all other allegiance, swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Australia, Her heirs and successors according to law, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Australia and fulfil my duties as an Australian citizen.

The affirmation states:

I, . . . renouncing all other allegiance, solemnly and sincerely promise and declare that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Australia, Her heirs and successors according to law, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Australia and fulfil my duties as an Australian citizen.

I appeal to the Minister and to the Hawke Government not to move against the oath or affirmation of allegiance, as they are clearly planning to do, by removing any reference at all to Elizabeth II, Her Majesty the Queen of Australia. I again remind the Committee that she became the Queen of Australia by virtue of legislation brought into the Parliament by the Whitlam Labor Government-legislation which I, not as a member of this Parliament at that stage but as a member of the Tasmanian Parliament, publicly supported. Believe it or not, in this country there are people who believe in God, queen and country. There are people who believe in that oath of allegiance, who believe in our flag and who believe in our Queen. I implore the Minister not to take the first step down the line to a republican Australia by taking away the reference to the Queen of Australia from the oath of allegiance. I ask the Minister to recall that there is no mandate for the Prime Minister or for the Government to convert this country into a socialist republic. I forewarn the Government that the people of Australia will stand up for the principles I have advocated.