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Tuesday, 18 October 1983
Page: 1883

Mr BURR(10.50) —Over a number of speeches in the adjournment debate I have been explaining to the House the problems that have been faced by Mr John Griffin, a British migrant applying for permanent residence in this country. I have also been explaining to the House the difficulties that Mr Griffin has been experiencing particularly with officers of the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. On 22 September I explained that Mr Griffin has had problems particularly with a Mr Peter Thompson of the Hobart office of the Department.

Mr Griffin was accused by the Department of being an illegal immigrant and it placed this man under great duress to leave the country and not to exercise the legal rights of appeal that are available to him or to any prospective immigrant . Mr Griffin decided to take up his right of appeal to the Immigration Review Panel and appropriately made out an application form for transmission to the then Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs and to that panel. Following that Mr Thompson telephoned Mr Griffin at his home in Cressy, in Tasmania and asked him whether it was true that he had prepared this application form. When Mr Griffin confirmed that he had completed the application form Mr Thompson advised him that the form would never leave Tasmania and that it would never appear on the Minister's desk. Naturally, Mr Griffin was disturbed about that and contacted my office. I agreed that I personally would bring the application form to Canberra and place it on the Minister's desk. I believe that Mr Thompson totally trangressed his position as an immigration officer. He had a duty to handle that application form properly and he had no right to pass that information on to Mr Griffin.

However, the matter did not end there. Mr Griffin was advised by Mr Thompson that if he proceeded with the application he would be charged under section 6 of the Migration Act as an illegal immigrant. Despite that warning, Mr Griffin decided to continue with the application. Later that day he was again contacted by Mr Thompson who advised Mr Griffin that he had changed his mind and now intended to charge Mr Griffin under section 27 of the Migration Act. A conviction under that section would automatically lead to a fine of $1,000 or six months in gaol. Following that advice from Mr Thompson, I sent the following telegram to the then Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, Mr Hodges:

With reference to the matter of John Robert Griffin and application for change of status. Have been advised by director of your Tasmanian State Department, Mr P. Thompson, that prosecution is to take place under section 27 of the Act if Mr Griffin does not withdraw his application with Mr Max Burr. Would urgently request you halt this move which is placing Mr Griffin in a state of duress while waiting your decision on his application.

Mr Thompson was trying to exert duress on this man who was doing no more than exercising the legal rights that were available to him. The matter did not end there. It went before the Immigration Review Panel. One of the requirements of the Immigration Review Panel-I quote from its document-is:

The Panel, which is quite separate from the departmental officers who made the original decision, reports directly to the Minister.

We believed that that would be the case but it turned out not to be so. The panel was chaired by a Mr B. L. Murray who is also an officer of the Immigration Department. Mr Griffin was appealing from Caesar unto Caesar. He was appealing to the people who were tossing him out of the country. Quite apart from that, Mr Murray at a later date telephoned Mr Griffin and pointed out to him that some of the facts that he had stated in his application would not be accepted by the tribunal and that the tribunal apparently had already made its decision.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. Les Johnson) —Order! The honourable gentleman's time has expired.