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Thursday, 10 November 1983
Page: 2645

Mr CADMAN(10.11) —Tonight I wish to draw the attention of the House to the fact that the citizens of Malta who have come to Australia as migrants are celebrating the fact that this year Maltese migrants have been coming here for 100 years. It is something of a celebration to realise that Maltese people have been immigrants for 100 years. I am a little disappointed that the Parliament-I do not blame the Government or the Opposition-has not more fully recognised this fact. As the House will probably be aware, Maltese people are very proud people with a very long and historic background, living as they do on an island in the middle of the Mediterranean and being relatives of the ancient Phoenicians. They are people who speak an Arabic-type language but which is written in a Romanistic style. Over the thousands of years that they have been there they have been visited by some significant people. Of course, they have been visited by St Paul. During his great travels he was shipwrecked on the island of Malta.

Later the Turks attacked Malta and it was a difficult period when Maltese people were taken as slaves and sold into the Turkish area and to the countries of their influence. Still later on, when the Knights of Jerusalem were forced to leave Cyprus they settled in Malta. Having left Jerusalem, gone to Cyprus and failing to be able to retain Cyprus, they moved to Malta and made that their headquarters and place of accommodation. There were great wars during the period that the Knights were in Malta, and the Maltese people supported the Knights during that period. Of course, following the visit of St Paul they became a very committed Christian nation.

The people of Malta during the Second World War distinguished themselves greatly. The honourable member for Corangamite (Mr Street), the former Foreign Minister, knows very well indeed the contribution the Maltese people made to world peace during the Second World War when they took a battering such as no nation had had before, had at that time or has had since when on each square mile of Malta seven times the weight of bombs were dropped than were dropped in the densest bomb drop in the centre of London. In fact, following the Second World War, the whole island was awarded the George Cross and proudly on the flag of Malta, in the left-hand corner, it can be seen. The red and white flag of Malta bears the George Cross, which was presented by the sovereign of Britain at that time to the total island, to the whole of the Maltese people in recognition of their bravery and support during the Second World War.

Migration to Australia started from Malta in an organised fashion in 1883. The first group of Maltese citizens to come to Australia were 70 labourers who came to work on the canefields in Queensland.

Mr Braithwaite —In Mackay.

Mr CADMAN —In Mackay, indeed. The honourable member for Dawson recognises that. I inform the honourable member that, in addition to the 70, there were nine stowaways. Those stowaways were in fact having a cheap ride to Australia. No doubt they left their families and came to Australia to make good, to make their fortunes and to make a contribution to Australia. The Nuddea, the ship that they came on, was an old steamer with sails. At that time there was with them a Fransciscan priest, Father James Ambrose Cassar. Father Cassar was born in 1849 and, of course, that made him 34 when he came to Australia. He travelled with this group of migrants who settled in northern Queensland, at Townsville and Mackay. They made a very great contribution, as my honourable friend has said, to the whole economy of northern Queensland and in fact to the whole of Australia.

Father Cassar is legend in Queensland. He was the first Maltese born priest to set foot on Australian soil and he never again returned to his native Malta. He travelled the outback and northern Queensland horseback and in buggy. For him there were no airconditioned cars or helicopters. For Father Cassar there were only primitive means of transport and foot slogging in dust a foot deep in scorching sun and tropical forests.

Mr Braithwaite —A great priest.

Mr CADMAN —He was a great priest indeed. He was recognised and revered by all Maltese people. Since that period there has been massive migration of Maltese people to Australia. In total, more Maltese migrants have come to Australia than there are Maltese people left on Malta. The 380,000-odd people from Malta who are now here have been hard working, dedicated citizens who have contributed a great deal to the Australian way of life. They are law abiding, peace loving people and, as I said, hard working and very fond, committed family people. Their children have grown up to be fine Australians and there are many distinguished Australians with a Maltese background or Maltese forebears.

I was privileged to be able to attend a celebration concert which was organised at the Opera House by one of the Maltese groups in Sydney. It was a centennial gala concert on 3 October and, in particular, some of the representations in tableau form were presented on the stage of the Opera House. These presentations were prepared by Victor Vella, which is a typical Maltese name, and Mark Caruana . I would like to think that this House and this nation will take the opportunity to say thank you to the Maltese people for their fine contribution. They have been extremely distinguished in their contribution and in their hard work. Their families have been citizens that we are all proud of. Migration from Malta will continue, and the bond between the peoples of the two countries is an extremely strong one. Politics and the difficulties of political relationships may wax and wane between the two nations, but no-one will ever take away the fond bond that exists betwen Australia and the Maltese people.

I wish to conclude my remarks in the grievance debate by raising matters relating to immigration because I have had great difficulty over the last few weeks in getting the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr West) to recognise the importance of working holidays and the capacity to change the status of the entry to Australia of working holiday makers. I wish to draw this matter to the attention of the House. I have taken it up with the Minister and will be doing so further because he does not seem to comprehend the difficulties of young families and young people from those countries with which we have working holiday arrangements who came to Australia, who travel around for a period and then settle in a job with an employer who really does find their skills of great significance. In particular, I wish to refer to Mr and Mrs Lord who have drawn to my attention the fact that their employer writes of them in these terms:

We are an engineering company engaged in the production of air-conditioning and mechanical engineering services. When employing personnel we require them to have experience in this particular branch of engineering, which Stephen Lord has . As the success of his application does obviously concern us as a company very much, please do not hesitate to advise if there is anything further we can do to support Stephen Lord's application.

Eddie Zweris is in a similar situation. These young people would make fine citizens. The Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs does not understand the situation in regard to working holidays in Australia. I am extremely disappointed to find that we cannot get the very cream-the very best-of these young people to stay in Australia. They are committed to this country and its future. They have had the opportunity to live here for a period of up to two years, during which time they learnt the habits and character of Australia. They now wish to make their homes here. The Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs has not seen fit to consider favourably the circumstances of families such as the Lord and Zweris families.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. Les Johnson) —Order! The honourable member's time has expired.