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ESTIMATES COMMITTEE D
12/09/1991
DEPARTMENT OF IMMIGRATION, LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND ETHNIC AFFAIRS
Program 1-MIGRATION
Subprogram 1.1-Immigration and Population Research

SENATOR CALVERT -I note your property operating expenses have increased by 29.3 per cent. Is there any particular reason for that?

MR BROOKBANKS -It is simply a change in the timing of the payments.

SENATOR CALVERT -On page 17 you mention smaller specialised conferences. The first National Immigration Outlook Conference was held in 1990 in Melbourne. You are having a Social Impact of Immigration Conference later this month. Have you a rough idea of the cost of staging these conferences?

DR NIEUWENHUYSEN -The National Immigration Outlook Conference in Melbourne was subsidised by the Bureau to the extent of about $100,000. I do not yet know what the figures will be for subsidising the Social Impact of Immigration Conference. The other conferences are relatively small.

SENATOR CALVERT -You mention on page 18 that due to severe budgetary situations being experienced by a number of States-and I think that is quite understandable-a moratorium has been agreed to on financial contributions to the jointly funded Commonwealth-State-Territory research program. Have you any idea how long that moratorium is going to last? What sort of contribution did you get from the States, if any?

DR NIEUWENHUYSEN -I think the States were each putting a rather small amount of money-in the region of $50,000-towards that joint program which was operating in the past, prior to the establishment of the Bureau of Immigration Research. Since the establishment of the Bureau, one of its officers has chaired those meetings and it has been responsible for a number of major continuing research projects, including The Atlas of Australian People by Dr Graham Hugo. The moratorium was imposed for the first time this year and, depending on the financial conditions of the States, it is open to speculation as to how long it will continue. But the amount of money that has traditionally been available through that source has been relatively small.

SENATOR CALVERT -Given the small amount of money involved, are you happy that it has had useful results?

DR NIEUWENHUYSEN -Personally, I think the results have been outstanding. The Atlas of Australian People by Dr Graham Hugo used the 1986 census data which can be updated very readily once we have the 1991 Census data. It has provided a very rich basis of material on a State by State basis and we have all the States now except Victoria and New South Wales. The Governor of Victoria will be launching the Victorian one next month. We believe that is an outstanding result. We also believe that the other project-which is now complete and about to be published-that was funded through that arrangement on internal migration done by Dr Martin Bell of Queensland University is also a work of major importance to the States, because it documents in far greater detail than ever before the extent and nature of the movement of people between the States.

SENATOR CALVERT -Given that the results have been so good and the fact that the States have jacked up on you, are you going to press the Department or the Government to put more money into it?

DR NIEUWENHUYSEN -It is not for me--

SENATOR BOLKUS -I do not think that is the sort of question that should be answered by the officer.

SENATOR CALVERT -Would you like to comment, Minister?

SENATOR BOLKUS -I will pass the request to the Minister.

SENATOR CALVERT -I notice you have produced a second annual issue of `At A Glance', a publication designed to increase general awareness. Could you give me an idea of the cost of that; whether it was prepared by the Department; how many publications were printed; and how they were distributed?

MR WHEEN -The cost is estimated at $15,000. It was a publication of the Department and it is widely distributed in the Department and amongst people who have an interest in immigration. It has proved to be a very useful background document, amongst others, for our migration consultations that the Minister holds each year in relation to migration programs. I am happy to make a copy available if that would be useful to you.

SENATOR CALVERT -Thank you, I would appreciate that. I understand the Department will be continuing with its involvement in OECD matters. In particular, I think you are going to study the flow of refugees and asylum seekers in the eastern European countries. Do you have any preliminary views at this stage as to how the current changes in eastern Europe may affect our immigration program?

MR SIMINGTON -The short answer is that it is much too early to make those judgments. There is a great deal of volatility in a number of situations in eastern Europe. Outcomes and likely developments are very difficult to make judgments about. I think it is a matter of there being some little time for these problems to work their way out as they affect the Soviet Union and, even more relevantly today, Yugoslavia.