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Wednesday, 12 September 1973
Page: 832

Mr KERIN (MACARTHUR, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I ask the Minister for Immigration whether it is a fact that Sir Robert Askin, the Premier of New South Wales, stated on 30 August 1973 that his Government had no power to stop Mr Alexander Barton from leaving Australia. Is it a fact that the New South Wales Government made no approaches to the Australian Government to have this man stopped from leaving the country? If both these propositions are true, can the Minister assure the House that the Australian Government will act at the request of the New South Wales Government to prevent other directors of the Barton group of companies from leaving Australia?

Mr GRASSBY (RIVERINA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Immigration) - I believe that Sir Robert Askin, the Premier of New South Wales, did make a statement to the effect that neither- he nor the New South Wales Government had the power to stop citizens from leaving Australia. That is true. I believe that some reference was made - I am not sure whether the Premier made the statement himself - to the fact that no attempt was made to stop Alexander Barton leaving Australia. I might say that no request was received by the Australian Department of Immigration to prevent the departure of this man, and certainly no request was received from the Government of New South Wales.

The honourable member asks whether if any request is made it will be considered. The entitlement of Australian citizens to passports is a basic right. If they are ever to be withheld it must be on the basis of information from very responsible authorities relating to crime and/ or the security of the nation. If we received a considered request from the head of a State government, for example, for action on these lines we would give it every consideration. If criminality was involved, of course we would give the fullest possible cooperation whenever we were asked.

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