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Friday, 29 October 1920

Mr POYNTON (Grey) (Minister for Home and Territories) . - At the present time there are restrictions on the naturalization of aliens belonging to the nations with which we have recently been at war. When I took office, such persons could not be naturalized without Cabinet approval in each individual case; but I suggested that, subject to good behaviour and character, persons of a certain age, and with a certain length of residence, might be allowed to be naturalized without the reference of their cases to the Cabinet ; and that being agreed to, I have authorized quite a large number of naturalizations. There is no doubt that, in the very near future, a further variation will be made in the term so as to permit of the naturalization of aliens within Australia. When once this Bill has been disposed of, I intend to put it to the Government whether we ought not to treat all aliens upon their merits.

Mr JAMES PAGE (MARANOA, QUEENSLAND) - The Minister is now referring to aliens within Australia?

Mr POYNTON - Yes. Of course, it is rather a remarkable circumstance that although many of these men had resided in Australia for years, and had had every opportunity to become naturalized, they did not attempt to take advantage of their opportunities until after the outbreak of war.

Mr.Gabb. -Many of them were not aware that they were not naturalized until they attempted to vote at the Federal elections.

Mr POYNTON - The honorable member for Angas has never brought any case of that kind under my notice. But if he will submit to me any case in which an. alien of good character has resided within the Commonwealth for years without becoming naturalized, I will look into it; and if I feel that the facts justify me in so doing, I will immediately ask Cabinet to approve of letters of naturalization being granted to him.

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