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Tuesday, 22 November 1938

Mr HOLLOWAY (Melbourne Ports) . - I have been moved by a large number of electors to raise a question in the House to-night which is becoming more and more important to the people of

Australia. I refer to the ruthless manner in which some of the anti-democratic countries have been hounding native Jews out of their respective countries. Recently I have been worried by individual heartrending appeals of people asking for help to get their relatives in some of those central European countries admitted to Australia. I imagine that to deal with these individual appeals must be becoming a nightmare to the Minister for the Interior (Mr. McEwen). I suggest that the Government, in the interests of all of us, should consider what Australia's attitude shall be towards this international appeal to the humanitarian instincts of the people of democratic countries. Australians have always been regarded as democratic people, but if we do not play our part in some small way to meet the circumstances that have arisen in this connexion, we shall soon lose our reputation. Whilst I know from my own experiences - others have probably had similar experiences - that many Jewish citizens in this country have not always played the game, the same thing may be said of people of other races. If the Jewish people in manufacturing industries to whom I refer are inclined to be sweaters their sweating propensities can be kept in check if those responsible for the enforcing of our laws show more courage; but in some instances some of our administrators are equally as culpable as are the people blamed. However, the present circumstances are very unique and extraordinary. The unfortunate refugees have to live somewhere, and I think that the Australian Government should consider whether or not it is justified in taking some small quota of Jewish refugees of a type suitable for absorption in this country.

Mr McCall - We are taking a number at present.

Mr HOLLOWAY - The reason I raise this matter is that to deal with these individual cases is becoming a nightmare. Probably my own experience in this respect is shared by the honorable member who has interjected as well as by the Minister for the Interior. Men and women from the St. Kilda district come to me night and day and plead with me to urge the Minister to endeavour to get landing permits for their relatives in order to save them from the concentration camps. I think it would be better for everybody if the Minister would discuss this matter with the Cabinet, and eventually decide whether or not Australia will cake its quota of refugees. Knowing the attitude of the Government in regard to this matter, after hearing all the evidence placed before it, we should then be able to answer these appeals.

Mr Jennings - Would it be part of Labour's policy to permit these people to come here?

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