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Thursday, 25 February 2010
Page: 1925


Mr ANDREWS (3:30 PM) —by leave—The coalition joins with the government in recognising and acknowledging the statement made by Prime Minister Gordon Brown in the House of Commons yesterday on behalf of the British people. Mr Brown said in part:

It was hoped that these children, who were aged between three and 14, would have the chance to forge a better life overseas. But the schemes were misguided. In too many cases vulnerable children suffered unrelenting hardship and their families left behind were devastated. They were mostly sent without the consent of their mother or father. They were cruelly lied to and told they were orphans—that their parents were dead when in fact they were still alive.

Some were separated from their brothers and sisters, never to see one another again. Names and birthdays were deliberately changed so that it would be impossible for families to reunite. Many parents did not know their children had been sent.

We welcome the statement made by Prime Minister Brown and we also welcome the family restoration fund that the British government has established. Sadly, it will come too late for many people but it is, if belated, a recognition of the pain and the turmoil suffered by so many—many of whom are now citizens of this country. I recall meeting many former child migrants a few years ago at a gathering of them in Fremantle in Western Australia with the now member for Swan, who cannot be here to make a statement this afternoon because he is attending a function on these matters back in Perth this afternoon. Their pain was palpable all those years later. Nothing can reverse this regrettable chapter in our history but this statement, like the ones that were delivered in the Australian parliament recently, is a measure of the compassion required from all of us.