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Friday, 26 July 1946

Mr CALWELL (Melbourne) (Minister for Immigration and Minister for Information) . - I move -

That the bill be now read a second time.

As at the 30th September, 1945, there remained in Australian internment camps 557 aliens, excluding Japanese, who prior to their detention were residents of the Commonwealth. These consisted of 509 Germans and 48 Italians. On the 25th October, 1945, Mr. Justice Simpson, of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory, was appointed a commissioner under the National Security (Inquiries) Regulations, to inquire into and report upon the cases of all local civilian internees, in accordance with the following terms of reference: -

1.   Whetherin the interests of the. public safety and defence of. the Commonwealth, it is necessary or advisable to deport from Australia any persons and, if so, what persons -

(a)   who are or who, between the third day of September, One thousand nine hundred and thirty-nine and the fifteenth day of August, One thousand nine hundred and fortyfive (both inclusive), were detained in accordance with the provisions of regulation 20 of the National Security (Aliens Control) Regulations or regulation 26 of the National Security (General) Regulations; and

(b   ) who -

(i)   are aliens;

(ii)   are regarded as aliens; or

(iii)   were, but have ceased to be, naturalized British subjects.

2.   Whether in the interests of the public safety and defence of the Commonwealth it is necessary or advisable -

(a)   to revoke the certificates of naturalization of any persons and, if so, what persons, who are or were so detained, who are naturalized British subjects;

(b   ) in the event of the Commissioner reporting that the revocation of any such certificate of naturalization is necessary or desirable to make, upon the revocation of that certificate, an order declaring or directing that any persons and, if so, what persons, who are British subjects by virtue of the grant of that certificate shall cease to be British subjects ; and

(c   ) to deport from Australia any such person whose certificate of naturalization has been revoked or in respect of whom an order hag been made declaring or directing that he shall cease to be a British subject.

3.   Whether, in the interests of the public safety and defence of the Commonwealth, it is necessary or advisable, pending deportation, to continue to detain, in accordance with either of the said regulations, any person whose deportation is reported by the Commissioner to be necessary or desirable.

4.   Whether, in the interests of the public safety and defence of the Commonwealth, it is necessary or advisable to impose any restrictions upon any persons whose deportation is reported by the Commissioner to be necessary or advisable but whose continued detention is not so found to be necessary or desirable.

The recommendations of Mr. Justice Simpson have been accepted by the Government and, as a result, 289 Germans and twelve Italians have been listed for deportation. These fall into two categories - (a) those to remain interned pending deportation; and (b) those released pending deportation.

In group (a) there are 245 Germans, composed of 114 males, 46 females and 85 children, and one male Italian. It will be appreciated that all the children referred to, and a number of the wives, are included on compassionate grounds, and in accordance with their natural desire not to be separated from husbands and fathers. In group (£) there are 44 Germans - 38 males, four females and two children - and eleven male Italians. All of the aliens released pending deportation are under restrictions, with the exception of twelve aged men who have no Australian affiliations and are being included, not for security reasons, but on compassionate grounds, in view of their strong desire to return to their homelands. His Honour's report reveals that the majority of the persons recommended for deportation do not. wish to remain in Australia and have expressed a definite desire to return to their countries of origin.

The balance of the local alien internees were recommended foi5 release' to reside in Australia, with or without restrictions, and these recommendations have been carried out. The numbers so released are 217 German men, women and children, , and 36 Italian men. Three cases of local internees were not dealt with by Mr. Justice Simpson. One man was an escapee at the time of the inquiry, one was serving a gaol sentence, and the other was in hospital.

On the 31st May, 1946, Mr. Justice Hutchins, of the Supreme Court of Tasmania, was appointed a Commissioner under the National Security (Inquiries) Regulations, with terms of reference similar to those given to Mr. Justice Simpson, to investigate the cases of certain overseas internees. These are persons who were detained by another Government outside the Commonwealth and sent to this country for safe custody. As well as examining certain overseas internees, Mr. Justice Hutchins will inquire into the cases of merchant seamen who were formerly interned as civilians and later classified as prisoners of war. The number of cases referred to Mr. Justice Hutchins is approximately 1,500. As this inquiry is still proceeding, it is not possible at the moment to indicate how many additional deportations will result. It can be. stated, however, that the Government proposes to give effect to the Commissioner's recommendations when received, whatever they may be. In other words we" shall act in respect of these overseas internees in exactly the same way as in the case of local internees.

The purpose of this bill is to empower the Minister for Immigration to give effect to recommendations made by Mr. Justice Simpson and Mr. Justice Hutchins, and the provisions of the bill will be confined to cases of aliens examined and reported upon by the two Commissioners . named. As well as empowering the Minister to make an order for the deportation of any aliens specified in the bill, provision is made for the Minister to impose safeguards in the form "of restrictions upon any alien who has been released from internment until deportation can be arranged. If reliance is placed entirely upon the regulations made under the National Security Act, it will not be possible to give effect to the recommendations of the two Commissioners unless shipping facilities are available before the expiry of the National Security Act on the 31st December, 1946. Owing to the acute shortage of shipping, and in order to meet the desire of the allied occupation authorities to restrict the entry of persons to former enemy territory for the present, it may not be possible to deport all or any of the aliens in question before that date. The bill at present before the House leaves no doubt as to the Government's intentions and powers to deport those aliens who have been found by. judicial inquiry to be a menace to the security of the Commonwealth. The. deportations or repatriations will take place as soon as the necessary shipping accommodation is available and satisfactory arrangements have been made for the reception of these people by the allied authorities.

So far as local Japanese internees are concerned, the Government decided some time ago that all Japanese aliens should br- returned to Japan with the least possible delay. On the 21st February, 1946, 304 Japanese aliens were repatriated on the KoeiMaru in accordance with an . order signed by me as Minister for Immigration. The small group of

Japanese aliens remaining in internment consists of Japanese with either Australianborn wives or Australian-born children or both, and some sick and aged Japanese unable to travel.

It is the intention of the Government to close internment camps with the least possible delay. Any outstanding cases will be referred to Mr. Justice Simpson or Mr. Justice Hutchins for investigation and report in accordance with their original terms of reference.

Debate (on motion of Mr. Holt) adjourned.

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