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Thursday, 2 December 1976

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock (LYNE, NEW SOUTH WALES) -Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.

Mr MacKELLAR - Prior to the suspension of the sitting, the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) introduced the interim report of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence, which he is chairing, in relation to the Lebanese situation. I would like to respond very briefly because there was some element of criticism of the Government's activities in relation to the situation.

From memory the interim report brought down by the honourable member mentioned the numbers of approvals given this year up until the end of September. Obviously the report does not give a completely up to date picture of what has happened. I inform the House that the figures for the period from 1 April 1975 to 26 November 1976- this is the period for which the latest figures are available- show that at least 5307 approvals were given in that time. The number of arrivals up until 3 1 October this year was 3662. The number of arrivals between July and October of this year was 1766. That number exceeds the total number of arrivals for 1975 and for the financial year 1975-76. I believe that these up-to-date figures show that the Government has responded to the situation in the Lebanon. I believe that they give a more up to date interpretation of events.

The other matter that I would like to mention very briefly relates to the refugee policy which I have stated a number of times. I believe that the formulation of a refugee policy is of great significance. I agree with the honourable member for Fremantle in relation to this and as such I have instructed the Australian Population and Immigration Council to include a chapter on refugees in its Green Paper. The Green Paper is in the final drafting stage and will be presented to the Parliament at the first opportunity in the new sittings next year.

Mr Jacobi - I seek leave to make a very brief comment on what the Minister has said.

Mr Sinclair - No.

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