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Thursday, 23 August 1984
Page: 256

Senator RICHARDSON —Is the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs aware of the complaints of many Japanese companies and of the Japan Chamber of Commerce that they are experiencing considerable difficulties in obtaining visas for their senior Japanese business people posted to Australia ? Is the Minister aware that delays of up to several months have been occurring in the issuing of what should be routine visas? Given that the Government wishes to foster greater economic co-operation and greater trade between the two countries what actions has the Australian Immigration Department taken to ensure that these unnecessary delays and problems do not occur in the future?

Senator GRIMES —I was aware that the Japan Chamber of Commerce in Sydney and in other places had made representations to the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs because of unnecessary delays as they saw them in providing visas that Senator Richardson mentioned. First of all I point out that although the Government realises-as I am sure all Australians realise-that many overseas companies want to have at least some home based overseas managers in those companies, we also have a responsibility to make sure that at the same time Australians are not unnecessarily being deprived of jobs in these circumstances. Therefore, part of the delays is due to the procedures which have already been laid down and which have been in existence for a long time.

The second cause of delay is the inadequate information sometimes obtained from companies applying for visas. At the moment the Minister and the Government are looking at the guidelines and are having discussions with organisations such as the Japan Chamber of Commerce. We are awaiting replies on this matter. Of overseas managers employed in Australia something like 78 per cent are Japanese. Therefore, there is obviously a considerable number of such people coming into the country.

The mere volume of applications adds to the problems created. However, the Minister and the Department are endeavouring, through negotiations with the Chamber of Commerce and by negotiation with our relevant authorities in Japan, to streamline the situation even more. However, I am sure that our friends from Japan realise that it is not just a matter of a simple visitor's visa in most cases. In fact, there are complications involved and we have our own interest to look after. But I am sure the situation will improve in the future.