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Thursday, 25 July 1946

Mr CALWELL (MELBOURNE, VICTORIA) (Minister for Immigration) - British ex-service personnel who wish to be discharged in Malaya are enabled to do so as the result of an arrangement entered into between the Department of Immigration and the British authorities. They may elect to be discharged in Malaya and be brought here, or they may be brought to Australia and discharged. I am not certain that any members of the British forces have yet been brought here for discharge. A similar arrangement has been made in respect of British service personnel in India. Provision has also been made in an agreement with the United Kingdom Government for free passages to this country for British service personnel and their dependants now in the United Kingdom. Difficulty has, however, been occasioned by the inability of the British and Australian Governments to conclude an. agreement with the shipping companies on the subject of a reasonable fare to be charged for persons who will take advantage of the agreement. Negotiations are still proceeding, and I am hopeful that a satisfactory agreement will be arrived at in the near future. If that matter can be satisfactorily settled the free passage and assisted passage agreements will be in operation about January next. Those who will be covered by the agreements will be given preference over other persons in the arrangement of priorities: It is obvious that special arrangements will have to be made for those who will be covered by these agree; ments, and that they will therefore not suffer competition with any otherpersons in the allotment of such shipping accommodation as becomes available. Everything is being done to facilitate their migration to Australia. If the honorable member is returned to the next Parliament I am hopeful that he will have occasion to compliment the Government during the next twelve months on the number of migrants it has been instrumental in bringing to Australia.

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