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Thursday, 28 February 1985
Page: 334

Senator COATES —I refer the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs to a report that the Tasmanian Premier intended to raise the issue of Australia's business migration policy at a meeting of the Australian Industry and Technology Council, I think, tomorrow. Mr Gray apparently expressed concern that the Federal Government's policy was causing a loss of potential business investment in Australia, such investment being redirected to the United States of America and Canada. Can the Minister explain exactly what the Government's policy is in respect of business migration to Australia and was Mr Gray correct in saying that Australia's policy is more stringent than that of countries such as the United States of America and Canada?

Senator GRIMES —I did see the reports in the Press about Mr Gray, which I believe followed a trip to Hong Kong. When Mr Gray came back he apparently said that Hong Kong was awash with people who were willing to come here and spend money, particularly in Tasmania. However, he gave us no evidence and we have no evidence of these huge numbers of people available to come to Australia from Hong Kong. He also made the comment that the US and Canada, in his view, had much easier policies and that it was much easier for people such as those in Hong Kong to get admission under their business migration schemes.

Our business migration scheme has been modified over the years so that people with finances, skills and the capacity to introduce businesses, particularly businesses and industries which are not strongly represented or represented at all in Australia, who want to come to this country can have the opportunity to do so. That has been a policy of both this Government and the previous Government. By the same token, we must ensure that any such policy is not used as it was attempted to be used in a rather spectacular way when I was Acting Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs towards the end of last year, to enable people who would otherwise not qualify to jump the queue. Honourable senators may remember hearing of cases of people who arrived here with $250,000, $500,000 or even more in the bank, which money went into their accounts just before they came to Australia, and suddenly disappeared out of their accounts just after their arrival.

From my inquiries of the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs and his Department I have been told that the Australian provisions are not much different from those of the United States and Canada. Of course, being a country with a smaller population and a smaller market, we will always get fewer of these types of migrants than they will. Mr Gray made his comments after he returned from a trip to Hong Kong. He has had great difficulty justifying them. Since he returned, he has produced no results other than this outrageous statement. What Mr Gray has been trying to do, as he has always done, since he became Premier, is to blame all his troubles, all the difficulties he has made for himself in Tasmania, all the economic problems of that State and now the difficulties he has in attracting overseas business to that State on the Commonwealth Government. We at the Commonwealth level have always known what he is about. The problem for Mr Gray is that the people of Tasmania now realise what he is about. But I dare say he does not learn very quickly and he will persist, week in and week out, in trying to fix the blame for all his difficulties on the Commonwealth Government. But that excuse is wearing a bit thin, as he will find out at the next State election.