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Tuesday, 27 March 1973
Page: 678

Mr LYNCH (FLINDERS, VICTORIA) - I ask the Minister for Immigration: Did he state publicly that he is in possession of complete documentation of the activities of international criminal bodies and their local affiliates? Has he indicated that he has had this information since early January of this year? Did he say that these reports indicate the leadership and the people involved? Do they contain anything more than mere assertion? Did the Minister also say that a person has to commit an offence which attracts a sentence of more than one year's imprisonment before he has the power to consider his deportation? In view of the information which he alleges he has in his possession, why has he taken no action and preferred instead to cast aspersions on large sections of the Australian migrant community?

Mr GRASSBY (RIVERINA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Immigration) - I must say that I am surprised at the tenor of the question asked by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition because the records of my Department indicate that he when Minister for Immigration was deeply concerned at the activities of criminal elements in our community, a small group of people in the total migrant intake but nevertheless too many because one person in our community who is addicted to violence is too many in terms of the acceptance of these activities by the Australian people. When he was Minister for Immigration, the present Deputy Leader of the Opposition used strong terms and took strong action to deal with what he had evidently felt was a lack of government action and a lack of action by the appropriate government agencies to curb violence in our country.

What I said was that the information which had been gathered by the Special Reports Branch of the Department of Immigration had been made available to me immediately on taking office. It was information which I am sure was available to the honourable member at that time although probably with the lapse of time I had further information available to me. That information caused me as much concern as it caused him. Honourable members opposite do not appear to accept what I say but, if there is any doubt about it, this information is on record and 1 am sure that if the Deputy Leader of the Opposition wants to have correspondence tabled we can do it. However I want to show him the courtesy of answering his question and to tell the House the facts, which are that in relation to this matter the Deputy Leader of the Opposition displayed his concern during the time when he was a member of the Government. The then Government did not take the action that he felt should have been taken. This Government deprecates in every way activities associated with violence irrespective of where those involved may come from and I want to say that clearly.

The Deputy Leader of the Opposition spoke about the action that should be taken. The Department of Immigration has received specific continuing instructions that there shall not be considered for migration anyone who has an addiction to or a record of violence. Those instructions stand. I give the assurance to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and to the House generally that this Government will take action to see to it that migrants who come before our courts, are convicted and have records that put them within the provisions of deportation will not remain in our midst. Such action would be taken according to the due processes of law. As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has raised the question of the status of migrants in our community, I place on record in this House that since World War II more than 3 million people have come to this country and the overwhelming majority of them have been great citizens. Some of them have served in this Parliament. I want also to take the opportunity to tell the House that the last time there was an inquiry made into criminality in the migrant community the figures spoke for themselves. The cases appearing before superior courts-

Mr Donald Cameron (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) - Mr Speaker, I rise to a point of order. How long do we have to listen to this?

Mr SPEAKER -Order! There is no substance in the point of order.

Mr GRASSBY - If the honourable member is not interested in the good name of migrants, who comprise 3 million of the people in our community, he should be ashamed of himself. I was about to say before I was irreverently and irrelevantly interrupted, that according to the latest survey of cases before the superior courts, the rate per thousand of population appearing was 1.14 Australian born and 0.61 non-Australian born. We have kept a continuing check on the rate of criminality among people we have invited to join us. I say again that, overall, the people who have come to join us in the family of the nation have in fact been outstanding citizens. That should be placed on the record. They do not want their good name to be besmirched by a handful of people who are criminals and who incidentally may have received, improperly, shelter and comfort from people who should have known better than to give it to them.

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