Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Friday, 6 June 1986
Page: 3580


Senator COATES(3.09) —When the debate was interrupted earlier today I had nearly concluded the remarks that I wanted to make about the Australian Citizenship Amendment Bill and the Migration Amendment Bill. I was commenting on the Opposition's attitude to the Government's amendments to the legislation, in particular, the amendment to the Australian Citizenship Act which would prevent people who had a child in Australia, while here as visitors or illegal immigrants, from having that child gain Australian citizenship automatically. The Opposition was proposing that, as some sort of compensation to those people, such a person who was born in Australia who was not an Australian citizen should automatically be entitled to an entry permit if he or she wanted to come back at any stage between the ages of 18 and 40. I suggested that the Oppositions's amendment is nonsensical. It is obviously confused about the whole situation. Opposition senators speak about the infringement of traditional rights, but that is not the attitude they have taken to the Australian Citizenship Amendment Bill. They have certainly not stated where this supposedly traditional right is enshrined. One would have thought that if they felt so strongly about this right they would not be agreeing to the principle of the main amendment at all.

I should point out that there is sufficient compensation built into the Australian Citizenship Amendment Bill, which provides that a child born to even one parent who is an Australian citizen or permanent resident will automatically acquire Australian citizenship by birth; or if the child would otherwise be stateless, it would acquire Australian citizenship; or if the child's parents are visitors or illegally in Australia but that child has been here for 10 years, it would acquire Australian citizenship automatically. So if it has grown up for that period in Australia it will be treated as an Australian.

The amendment the Opposition proposes to the Migration Amendment Bill cannot be accepted by the Government because it negates the whole purpose of the amendment to the Citizenship Act, which is to ensure that attempted queue jumping in the immigration system is deterred. Australia is an immigrant country and has to deal with over one million applicants every year. Our program entails entry of about 100,000 applicants each year-that is, only one in 10 people who seek to come to Australia are allowed entry-so we have to ensure that attempted queue jumping, whether contrived from the start or accidental, is deterred.

There is nothing in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights or in the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child which requires that children born in Australia of non-citizens should become citizens merely because they were born here. The Government is trying to ensure that the immigration program is not distorted in this way. I re-emphasise that the amendment to the Act has the support of the Human Rights Commission, which had to deal with some of these difficult cases in the past. It will make the system simpler and easier all round. I support the Bill.