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Wednesday, 22 August 1973
Page: 196

Mr RIORDAN (PHILLIP, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Has the Minister for Immigration read a report in the newsletter Inside Canberra' alleging an American leader of the Mafia had arrived in Australia? If this report is true, what action is being taken in this case? Will the Minister state what the current position is in respect of criminals seeking to enter Australia?

Mr GRASSBY (RIVERINA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Immigration) - The honourable member asked a specific question about a report which appeared in a newsletter to the effect that it had been reported that a leading American criminal had arrived in Australia and had been accepted here. In cases such as this if the criminal is important enough he is usually described as a member of the Mafia. This is a 5-letter word that indicates that the person in question has arrived in the sphere of crime.

I did take the report in question very seriously because obviously any entry of a criminal into Australia is a matter of deep concern to us all. I did check out this matter and I found that the description of the man in question as a leader in crime did not agree with the information in the possession of either the United States authorities or the Australian authorities. I would like to say that we enjoy the closest possible liaison with United States crime detection agencies in the prevention of the movement of criminals to Australia or, for that matter, from Australia. I am very pleased to acknowledge that continuing co-operation and I may say that we will use it to ensure that there is no entry of undesirable elements or criminal elements.

The term 'Mafia' is being used more and more frequently. It seems that this famous 5-letter word is used by any tin-pot criminal who wishes to increase his own status. It has been used to categorise people who happen to have been before the courts in Australia recently. Of course, if there are any indications that people who have criminal records seek to enter Australia we will take all possible precautions to see that they are not admitted. I would like to assure honourable members that generally speaking we receive very good co-operation from crime control agencies in all countries. There is, however, room for some improvement in our relations with at least one country in this regard and I am hoping that within the next few months we will succeed in improving the situation so that we will achieve greater cooperation with that country.

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