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Thursday, 1 July 1920

Mr POYNTON (GREY, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) (Minister for Home and Territories) - Can any honorable member tell me of any part of the world to which he can go without a passport? The Bill is the outcome of the "War Precautions Regulations. Since the conclusion of the war nearly every country has introduced passports regulations, and today no person can travel to any part of the world without possessing a passport from the country he is leaving. This Bill makes provision for those who wish to travel in other parts of the world. At present they cannot go to any other country without a passport.

Mr Bowden - New Zealand?

Mr POYNTON - Not even in New Zealand could the honorable member land without a permit, although for some time I have been trying to arrive at a reciprocal agreement with the New Zealand Government to render permits between the Commonwealth and the Dominion unnecessary. Provision has been made in this Bill that if any other country does not continue to insist upon passports from Australia they shall not be insisted upon here from persons arriving from that country. Not only do all countries refuse to allow persons to land without passports, but some of them attach certain conditions to travel even with a passport.For instance, a person cannot land in America to-day on a pleasure trip without a passport; and his passport must indicate the nature of his business. Honorable members will see that this Bill is in the interest of those who wish to travel. The Government would be ready to abolish the passport system to-morrow if other countries would fall into line; and we have made provision in clause 4 to dispense with passports to countries with which reciprocal arrangements can be made, just as we have done in the Immigration Act with regard to persons entering the Commonwealth. I invite honorable members opposite to indicate to the House how we can do without this Bill.

Mr Riley - Cannot I take a passage to England, and land there without a passport ?

Mr POYNTON - The honorable member could not even go to England without a passport. This class of legislation is in operation in practically every part of the world. During the past six months the Department has issued passports to thousands of persons desiring to go to England and other parts of the world, because, if they had not been provided with these permits, they would have been unable to land.

Mr Considine - Did the ex-Treasurer (Mr. Watt) require a passport?

Mr POYNTON - Yes; Mr. Watt was obliged to obtain a passport for himself and his private secretary, and Mr. Collins, who accompanied the ex-Treasurer, had to get one also. No one can go from Australia to England, America, or any other part of the world without a passport, and so, for travellers' own protection, we are obliged to introduce this legislation.

Mr Makin - Is it the intention of other countries to perpetuate this system?

Mr POYNTON - I do not know.

Mr Fenton - Is this one of the fruits of the war?

Mr POYNTON - It is one of the results of the war. In order to prevent citizens of the Commonwealth from being inconvenienced and embarrassed it is clearly the duty of the Government to provide some such legislation as is now introduced.

Mr Stewart - Is it possible for any person to land in Australia without a passport ?

Mr POYNTON - They cannot get out of any other country without a passport.

Mr Stewart - But if they could, would the Government allow them to land in Australia?

Mr POYNTON - No; because it is necessary that we should know something about people who come to this country. In sub-clause 3 of clause 3 there is provision for exemptions which experience of the War Precautions Act has proved to be desirable, and in clause 4 there is provision for reciprocal arrangements . with any other country in the world, the Government of which does not require passports. I can assure honorable members that, under present conditions, this measure is absolutely necessary.

Mr Considine - Then really our legislation is determined by that of a foreign country.

Mr POYNTON - What does the honorable member mean by a "foreign" country? Would he call England a foreign country?

Mr Considine - Certainly. And so is America. Our Immigration Act and the Passports Bill are based on American legislation.

Mr Mahony -. - We should have the right of self-government.

Mr POYNTON - Of course we have the right of self-government, but I remind the honorable member that it would be poor recompense for a traveller who had been inconvenienced through not having a passport to know that we have the right of self-government.

Mr Richard Foster - That would not pay his passage.

Mr POYNTON - No. The opposition to this measure is based upon the flimsiest of objections.

Mr Mahony - Explain why you propose to fine a person £100 for leaving Australia without a passport if that person cannot land anywhere else.

Mr POYNTON - That provision in the Bill is for a traveller's own protection, because he might be called upon to pay £200 for passage money, only to find that he could not land at his point of destination without a passport.

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