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Thursday, 22 October 1964

Senator ORMONDE (New South Wales) . - I have a couple of queries to raise with the Minister. Generally speaking, I cannot complain about my dealings with the Department of Immigration. The officials of the Department have been very fair in trying to carry out the policy of the Government. Of course, that is what they are there to do. I should like to refer to a couple of aspects of immigration policy.

The CHAIRMAN - Order! To what part of the estimates is the honorable senator addressing his remarks?

Senator ORMONDE - I refer to Division No. 270 - Administrative. The Department could well have a second look at the type of case I am about to mention. At the present time I am handling an application for a father, mother and four children to be allowed to settle in Australia.

Senator Anderson - In what country are they?

Senator ORMONDE - They are in Europe - I think in Yugoslavia. I have been told by the Minister that one of the children is ill and cannot be allowed into the country. No doubt that is so, but the father has offered to leave the sick child with relatives if he is allowed to bring the rest of the family out. Quite apart from the humanitarian aspect, it would be a very good investment for the Government and Australia as a whole if the Government were to allow this family to come. Surely five members of the family could carry the one who is invalid or partially invalid. Surely it is possible for the Government to find a way out of the difficulty in such cases. I know that we cannot afford to bring in people who are likely to be permanently in receipt of social services in Australia, but with this family there would be five assets as against one possible liability. As I said earlier, quite apart from the humanitarian aspect, it would be good business.

I know that the Government has a long range policy about the exclusion of people from Australia and that it has its reasons for not allowing people in to attend the forthcoming peace congress. But the Government's attitude in that respect seems strange to the public when other Russian delegations are allowed to come here. Only three weeks ago a Russian delegation was in Australia. It was led by the Vice Chairman of the Kiev University, and it included an interpreter and a lady professor. Those three people went throughout Australia. They were extended the courtesy of the Government. They were assisted to move around Canberra and were shown everything. They were educationists; they were here to study education. 1 do not know whether they were members of the Commnnist Party. 1 attended a dinner with them here in Parliament House. They were very interested in Australia and I thought seemed to be pro-Australian. They expressed certain views quite publicly and were impressed by the education set-up in Australia. It is quite inconsistent of the Government to be so adamant, on the one hand, in its attitude towards certain people and to say that they cannot come in because of their political leanings-

The CHAIRMAN - Order ! The honorable senator is discussing the policy of the Government. Such references have been ruled to be out of order.

Senator ORMONDE - On the other hand, the Government is quite lenient to other visitors from the Soviet Union. Now I shall deal with another special case, which indicates how careful the Department must be in deciding that a person cannot come into Australia because he is a political risk. Two years ago a person who was very prominent in what one might describe as the anti-Communist movement in' Australia - he belonged to one of the groups which fights Communism on Saturday, Sunday, Monday and every other day of the week - came to me to see whether I could help him to get his family out to Australia. They were in Egypt, having gone there from southern Europe. I set about trying to have them allowed into Australia as migrants. The then Minister for Immigration called me into his office and explained very nicely that the family could not be allowed in as one of the children had a hole in the ear and needed medical attention. The Minister was trying to do the right thing, but I was told on the side that really a security risk was involved.

If I had been successfully fobbed off with the statement that the child needed medical attention, nothing more would have happened; but I pressed the matter. With much embarrassment to myself, I had to seek out this man on whose behalf I was acting. When I told him that his family could not come here because they were a security risk, he nearly collapsed and he felt like clearing off to the bush. He did not think such a thing was possible. A little later the Government found out that the man was not the security risk that he had at first seemed to be. The Minister very kindly wrote to me and told me that if I got in touch with this person, who by this time had left Sydney for reasons of his own, I could inform him that if his family got busy and fixed up their papers they could all come to Australia. They are all in Australia today and are good citizens, but at one stage they were considered to be a security risk.

Senator Cant - They may have been Fascists.

Senator ORMONDE - I do not know about that. 1 do not think so. The Government must show understanding in such cases, because lots of people in Europe have political ideas which they might not have had if they had been living in other circumstances.

I was interested in the case of a man who was able to leave this country on a visa. He left when his wife was ill and without her permission. He was accompanied by a de facto traveller, shall I call her. This departure had all the appearance of being official; indeed, it was official. He left Australia with the official sanction of the Government. I did not think that any man could leave this country without the permission of his wife. I was surprised to know that this man was able to do so. He was well placed, and a bit of a confidence man. He approached the top section of the Department and was able to influence the Minister to issue a clearance. I believe that is the situation. I am not saying that the Minister was not fooled. I have no doubt that he was " conned " by somebody else into giving permission. I would like the Minister to explain to the Committee what is the law that applies where a man wishes to go overseas and leave his family, perhaps almost destitute. The man to whom I have referred left behind a sick wife and five children. He is still overseas although I think his girl friend with whom he was travelling has returned. Apparently she has taken a tumble. Is it possible for a man to obtain official approval to leave the country without the permission of his wife?

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