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Tuesday, 11 May 1965

Senator FITZGERALD (New South Wales) . - The Opposition does not oppose this Bil], which we regard as a procedural and machinery measure. In introducing the Aliens Bill in 1947 the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), who was then Minister for Information and Minister for Immigration, said -

This measure is considered necessary, not only to ensure that we shall have some knowledge of the aliens in our midst, but also to provide for an analysis of Australia's alien population, so that the Government may implement its immigration policy on sound and scientific lines.

In answer to questions on notice we have been told that as at 31st December 1964 there were 402,495 aliens over the age of 16 years registered in Australia. That number includes Asian students studying under the Colombo Plan. Of that number 250,000 are eligible for naturalisation.

In my view this Bill is tied up with the subject of naturalisation. The necessity to register aliens is a matter for concern. Legislation relating to the registration of aliens was first introduced into the Commonwealth Parliament in 1916. It was a wartime measure. It fell into disuse after the war and very little was done in connection with the registration of aliens until 1920 when the then Minister for Defence, Senator Pearce, felt the necessity existed for something to be done in that regard. The Aliens Registration Act was introduced in 1920. The Minister for Defence pointed out that one of the great difficulties which Great Britain experienced, and which was experienced to a lesser degree in Australia, was that our two countries did not have sufficient knowledge of the aliens in our midst. The United States of America had a complete record and a thorough knowledge of what happened regarding aliens during the war. It was able to proceed in a much more capable way in dealing with this matter than Great Britain and Australia. The Aliens Registration Act was repealed in 1934.

A lot of activity has taken place in the collecting of passports from people coming here, but very little is known by the

Department of Immigration of the location of aliens. During the war the control of aliens was more or less regulated by the National Security Regulations. The Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) stated in his second reading speech -

The Government considers that the replacement of the present ad hoc notification of changes of address and occupation as they occur by a system of annual notification by all aliens of these particulars, together with detail of marital status, will result not only in a more accurate and up to date Register of Aliens, but also that it will be a less onerous requirement for the aliens themselves, especially those who in their early years of residence frequently change their address.

It is proposed that the period in which annual notification will be required will be from 1st to 30th September in each year, with respect to any alien who was in Australia on 3 1st August that year. These dates will be prescribed by regulation.

I do not know whether that procedure will be of any great value. It is obvious that the Department is not able to keep track of the huge number of people who notify it of changes of address and occupation. I feel that it is hopeful that the new procedure will operate successfully.

I know that the Department and the Minister are concerned about the number of people who are involved. I believe that if migrants realised the advantages of naturalisation alien registration would not pose so many difficulties for the Department and the Government. As I have travelled on migrant ships coming to Australia and as I am a member of the Australian Labour Party Immigration Committee, I have witnessed exactly what is taking place. I would like to make a few comments which may be of some assistance to the Government and to the Department in this matter. It has been said by a number of people that when aliens get into difficulty they do not know to whom they should turn. The Britisher, of course, knows his rights. He speaks our language. He can go to a parliamentarian, to the Press or to a private individual and seek what he regards as justice. As a matter of fact, many migrants who return to the United Kingdom speak in what I regard as an unbecoming way about Australia. The alien who does not speak the language has a problem when a difficulty arises. To whom does he turn? He cannot turn to people who object to foreigners..

These people come here under all sorts of circumstances. I sometimes wonder whether too bright a picture is painted by our immigration officers. A wealth of material is poured into almost every country in the world. Are they too good us salesmen? Do the migrants expect too much when they come here? That is one of the problems to which I feel the Department might turn its attention. The Bill is concerned with the registration of aliens, and if there were fewer aliens the problem would not be so great. I feel that perhaps some of the dodgers and placards we put out lead people to expect to find streets paved with gold when they arrive in this great country. I read in the Press last Friday that protests had been made about lurid photographs which were, published in an American magazine. The article stated -

A magazine widely read throughout the United States has published a three-page feature liberally sprinkled with baretop and semi-nude Australian girls inviting Americans to migrate here.

I suppose that similar publicity is to be found in other countries of the world. It may help to bring people here, but I think that our Australian women do not require that sort of publicity.

When migrants find themselves in difficulties in this country they do not want to become naturalised. That, in turn, creates the particular difficulty which the Bill is designed to overcome. There is no difficulty concerning the question of employment of migrants at the moment because almost everyone is working. But the question of providing homes is one which presents difficulties. I have here a letter, which was published in the "Daily Mirror" of 4th May 1965. It refers to a previous letter of a Mr. Roberts who complained about what he was told before he came here. This is what a new Australian wrote on the matter -

I would like to comment on your article of April 30, "Mr. Roberts doesn't like us!" I must agree with him on one of his major points - that publicity about Australia to lure immigrants is too highly colored. For instance, when you are interviewed there is no mention of the enormous prices one must pay for housing.

The Department should look very carefully at the question of the cost of homes and businesses. The large developmental undertakings, some of which have naturalised people at their head, and the smarties amongst the estate agents prey upon these unfortunate people. The migrants are meeting this situation in the early days of their association with Australia. It does not give them very much encouragement to become part and parcel of this land of ours by becoming naturalised.

We must overcome the problem which the Department is facing at the present time of keeping track of hundreds of thousands of people. While things are going smoothly there is no problem, but should difficulty, such as a conflict overseas, arise, it would be important to this country, as it was during World War I and World War II, to have some knowledge of the whereabouts of these people. There is no question that it is a major responsibility which the Government must accept.

I think that there should be a top-level Government investigation of land and property values and the rackets in this field. I suggest that a bureau, similar to the Legal Service Bureau which is available to discharged members of the armed forces, should be established so that migrants could discuss their problems and not have to go to people who might lead them up the garden path. There should be people in authority who are able to advise migrants on the complex problems associated with land and home purchase. Once these people have been taken down, they are not happy, contented citizens.

Another matter about which I am concerned, and, indeed, about which a number of people are concerned, relates to the question of migrants in Australia bringing members of their families to this country. Those aliens who have been given the opportunity to become naturalised and have not taken advantage of it are actuated by feelings of frustration for many reasons. This matter is one of them. Applications by aliens to bring some of their own kith and kin to Australia ought to be treated with enthusiasm by the Department of Immigration. It is desirable that. this should be done. I think that migrants who are not entitled to bring people of their own nationality to Australia are not entitled to be here. This is a very important matter. I personally feel that the Department should turn its resources inside out to assist the migrants to whom I refer. However, I find that a person who makes an application to bring out to Australia one of his own kind meets objections all along the line. As a public servant many years ago, I always tried to assist the people with whom I was dealing. I think that such should always be the policy of a public servant. When I was a public servant I would find all the reasons in the world to say " Yes " to a request.

I hope the Minister and the public servants who are listening to my speech will heed my plea, because frequently public servants find reasons why they should knock back applications they receive whether they are from politicians or from aliens in this country for permission to bring people from their own country to Australia. I make this plea because I have a number of cases at the present moment involving people who are good citizens and who want to bring out their own friends and relatives. I am certain that there are difficulties in this regard. One of them may be the matter of the age of the people who wish to come here, yet we are always talking about the importance of families being brought together. The problems which prevent aliens from bringing their parents, for instance, whether or not they are aged people, to Australia, must be overcome.

Senator Wright - What relevance has this matter to the Bill?

Senator FITZGERALD - It is relevant to the Bill because it is associated with the registration of aliens. We have to overcome the problems which are associated with the registration of aliens and in particular the problem of those who do not seek naturalisation. This is, I think, one of the most important matters associated with this Bill, because 250,000 persons are affected by this Bill who need not have been affected if action along the right lines had been taken.

The exemption of aliens from compulsory military service will hardly assist the Government in its drive to increase the number of naturalisations. I know that the Government goes to great pains to satisfy new Australians. The Government sponsors the Australian Citizenship Convention which is held each year in Canberra. The last convention, which was held in January of this year, dealt with the problem of naturalisation. I repeat that the question of naturalisation is very important. I would like the Government to remember some of the recommendations which were made by the discussion groups at the Australian Citizenship Convention. The group to which I particularly refer was made up of people who were dealing with migrants. It is important to know exactly what is happening in this field and just what the people are thinking. I shall quote a few paragraphs from the views of discussion group 3, and in doing so ask honorable senators to remember that the Convention adopted the slogan " Every settler a citizen ". Group 3 reported -

The meeting was strongly in favour of a recommendation that naturalisation should be granted as a normal step after '10 years' residence in Australia and without the requirement of a naturalisation ceremony. lt was stressed that a distinction is drawn between Australian citizenship and British nationality, since the word " nationality " is often used to indicate the previous country from which a person came.

Moreover, the word " nationality " bears implications of cultural traditions, while the word " citizenship " refers rather to present material and legal status.

The recommendation was that - New settlers should retain the right to naturalisation after five years residence in Australia, with ceremony; full Australian citizenship should be conferred automatically, without ceremony, on the new settler after 10 years continuous residence in Australia, at the discretion of the Department; acceptance of full Australian citizenship after 10 years would, of course, be optional.

The group felt that after 10 years in Australia a migrant would accept naturalisation if it is automatically bestowed on him.

The Opposition is not opposing this Bill. I hope the Government and the Department of Immigration will give some heed to the opinions that I have expressed because I feel sure that, if they were given effect, they would do much to help the naturalisation drive and ensure much happier citizens amongst old and new Australians.

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