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Thursday, 8 August 1946

Mr CALWELL (Melbourne) (Minister for Immigration and Minister for Information) (1:35 AM) . - The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) directed his remarks to this clause, which relates to the custody of immigrant children. The arrangement which we have made with the State governments is that the Commonwealth Minister shall bethe legal guardian of the children, and shall delegate his authority to the State departments. There is nothing to prevent any secular organization or religious body being given the custody of children. I do not see any reason why the State departments in certain instances could not agree to the children being adopted by an approved person ; but we do desire to protect children brought from overseas, and we certainly require more safeguards in respect of them than we do for our own children. This is the first step towards the establishment of a child migration scheme. I hope that if this legislation contains any defects, the new Parliament will have an opportunity to consider the representations of the honorable member.

Mr White - The Minister is not sure whether a child migrant may be taken into a private home?

Mr CALWELL - The arrangement which we made with the officers of the Statedepartments was simply that the Commonwealth Minister was to be the legal guardian and could delegate his powers to the States, as was done with the .British evacuee children. That system worked admirably. The State departments, in each instance, found homes for those children, and I take this opportunity to pay a tribute to those splendid citizens who took those children into their homes, cared for them for five years and then sent them back to their parents as fine young citizens.

Clause agreed to.

Remainder of hill agreed to.

Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.

Bill - by leave - read a third time.

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