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Friday, 9 August 1946

Mr CALWELL (Melbourne) (Minister for Immigration and Minister for Information) . - by leave - Since my statement to this House on the 5th April, 1946, when I presented details of agreements between the Australian and Unite'd Kingdom Governments providing for free and assisted passages for British subjects desiring to migrate to Australia, a good deal of organization has been carried on, both in Great Britain and Australia, in preparation for the commencement of schemes. For the information of honorable members, I am now able to furnish some further details of the Government's immigration arrangements at this more advanced, stage.

A survey that was recently completed at -Australia House, London, showed that at the 15th June, 1946, applicants for passages to Australia totalled 33,184 British residents of the United Kingdom - representing a- total of approximately 90,000 persons, including wives, families and their dependants - and 5,212 aliens, mostly resident in Europe and representing approximately 14,000 people. These totals are small in proportion to .the number of applications likely to be received when the date oi' the opening of the free and assisted passages schemes is announced by the two Governments.

In the British list 95 different avocations were shown, ranging from doctor; of medicine to unskilled labourers, with an overwhelming majority of applicant? in skilled trades and professional occupations. Only 1,500 are described as unskilled labourers and 810 have no stated occupation. The aliens, of course, are outside the scope of the British free and assisted passages agreements, but most will be admitted readily, after establishing that they are desirable immigrants, when they are able to' get a passage to Australia.

While the Government is negotiating for the means to transport new citizens to Australia on a large scale, steps are being taken to maintain the interest of these people in Australia, by providing them with information about this country and advice covering some of their individual problems.

One of the means used is the publication in London of a monthly news-sheet, edited by the Australian News and Information Bureau and distributed free by a mailing list compiled, on an occupational basis, from potential migrants registered at Australia House. 'The publication, which contains up-to-date material written in- Canberra, is called Australia and the Migrant. . To cope with the implementation of the full scale plans, the Immigration branch at Australia House has recently been reorganized and augmented by the appointment of expert officers sent from Australia. Included among the additional officers is an industrial 'expert to advise potential migrants on industrial conditions and employment prospects in Australia. The Australian authorities dealing with immigration in London are working in close co-operation with the British Ministry of Labour and National Service, which has offices throughout the United Kingdom The State AgentsGeneral in London are also associated with, immigration, in a co-operative and consultative capacity, as members of an Immigration Advisory Committee, under the chairmanship of the Australian Resident Minister.

Negotiations are proceeding with the United Kingdom Government and shipowners in England, on the subject of the basic fares to be paid to the shipping companies for each migrant coming to Australia under the official schemes, and on the provision of shipping accommodation for them. When these negotiations are sufficiently advanced, the Government will be able to announce the date upon which the British migration agreements will come into . force. The Prime

Minister announced on his return from the United Kingdom that it was expected that passages for 35,000 immigrants would be available in 1947. I am hoping that agreement on- all shipping questions at an early date will enable me to announce that the scheme will begin on the 1st January, 1947. . In any case, it is certain that 1947 will see the beginning of the flow of immigrants to . Australia.

The first of the newcomers will be selected on a priority basis, mainly founded on the prospects in each case of the immigrant securing remunerative employment and obtaining living accommodation without adding to Australia's housing problems. A tentative schedule of priorities has been drawn up and will be discussed in Canberra on the 19th August with the State Ministers dealing with immigration. The schedule provides the following categories of priority for the allocation of .migrants' passages over which the Commonwealth Government has direct influence: -

1.   Children for existing, child migration organizations which have accommodation vacant for them, e.g., Farm Schools.

2.   Nominated migrants who can be accommodated by their nominators and are classed a6 essential workers for Australian industry.

3.   Nominated migrants who can be accommodated by their nominators and can be readily employed.

4.   Nominated migrants, single persons, who cannot be accommodated by their nominators but who are classed as essential workers for Australian industry.

5.   Nominated migrants, married and with or without children, who cannot be accommodated by their nominators, but who are classed' as essential workers for Australian industry.

G.   Single migrants, without nominators or assured accommodation, who are classed as essential workers for Australian industry.

7.   Married migrants, with or without children, but without nominators or assured accommodation, who are classed as essential workers for Australian industry.

8.   Single migrants, and married migrants, with or without children, nominated, but accommodation not assured, who can be readily employed.

9.   Single migrants, without nominators, or assured accommodation, who can be readily employed.

10.   Married migrants, with or without children, but without nominators or assured accommodation, who can be readily employed. 1.1. Single, migrants, and married migrants, with or without children, nominated, with accommodation available, but with no special employment prospects.

12.   Single migrants, and married migrants, with or without children, nominated, but accommodation not assured, with no special employment prospects.

13.   Single migrants, without nominators, or assured accommodation, who have no special employment prospects.

14.   Married, migrants, with or without children but without nominators or assured accommodation, who have no special employment prospects.

The Government's immigration programme has been endorsed in Australia by practically all responsible sections of the community. There are a few, of course, who call for unlimited immigration immediately or for " a million migrants a year ", regardless of the welfare of the immigrants themselves, the Australian community, the' housing and shipping problems, and Australia's general economic stability.'

The Government has made its plans on the basis of our carefully measured capacity to absorb new citizens with all the advantages of the standards of living at present prevailing, which the Australian Government is pledged to maintain and improve.

Discussions have taken place between representatives of the Department of Immigration and the- Commonwealth Employment Service of the Department of Labour and National Service, in regard to surveys which are to be made by that service to establish the trades and industries in which openings exist for the absorption of migrants. Preliminary estimates in respect of certain trades are expected to be available at an early date. Arrangements are- being made for intending migrants to furnish full particulars of their skill, training and industrial background on a special form, which will be completed by the migrant and sent to the Commonwealth Employment Service in Australia prior to departure. This advance information will facilitate the placing of migrants in suitable employment immediately on arrival in this country.

Honorable members will be interested in some of the recent statements on immigration that have been made by spokes^ men of widely representative industrial and commercial bodies. The general secretary of the Australasian' Council of Trade Unions, Mr. Albert E. Monk, issued the following statement on the 5th June," 1946:-

Not only do I welcome the recent statement of the Prime Minister that 35,000 migrants will probably arrive from Britain next year, but I go further and express the hope that ultimately' our full target of 70,000 migrants a year will be reached. Through ite own organization and various publicity channels, the trade union movement of Australia plans to enlist the aid of every Australian worker in welcoming accepted migrants as co-workers and fellow citizens, assisting to build up the Australian democratic institution. They will realize that Australia's immigration programme is not a haphazard venture, and that those who come here are to be absorbed on a sound vocational and economic basis.

There must 110t be any repetition of the misunderstandings of earlier immigration, when too many of those who came to Australia found themselves square pegs in round holes.

As a member of the Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Committee which visited Great Britain and European countries, I was pleased to see the number of British workers, and their families, who were eager to come here, and I was particularly impressed by the Swiss, Dutch, Norwegians and Swedes, as types who would make good citizens. These included highly-skilled workers as well as accomplished professional men.

In particular, this applied to the Swiss, who have a very high standard, of education. In their own country there are not positions carrying salaries commensurate with their qualifications, and such people would bc an asset to this country, in addition to the British migrant, who will always find a warm welcome amongst us.

Mr. O.D. A. Oberg, president of the council of. the Australian Employers Federation, issued the following statement a few days later :-

Australian employers will welcome immigrants with the qualifications already stated by the Minister for Immigration. For the benefit of industry and commerce these should include, not only highly trained artisans arid technicians, but, wherever possible, family units of such migrants. The Immigration Advisory Committee found unparalleled interest in Australian possibilities, arising from which there are vast opportunities, not only for migrants in the' categories mentioned, but -also for the establishment of new industries in Australia.

Employing interests throughout Australia will co-operate to the full, not . only with the Government, but also with all sections of the community in facilitating the early satisfactory absorption in Australia of all immigrants. It must be apparent to everybody that Australia must have substantially increased population. Recent investigations disclosed that migrants of the highest character : and calibre were available. To lose the present opportunity ' would be most unfortunate for Australia.

Commenting on the Prime Minisster's statement, the president of the Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia, Mr. John Adamson, said that manufacturers had the fullest confidence in the capacity of Australia to absorb all new arrivals, and added that the Chambers of Manufactures had at all times supported a vigorous policy directed to increasing Australia's population, particularly with British citizens. He said that a big proportion, both men and women, "must find their opportunity in manufacturing industry, and the manufacturers' ability to maintain continuous employment, with larger staffs, must depend upon a positive policy of longterm industrial expansion.

The 1946 conference of the Associated Chambers of Commerce of Australia held in Brisbane adopted the following resolution:-

That this conference commends the Commonwealth Government upon its proposed immigration scheme and urges .that immigration from the United Kingdom bc inaugurated immediately, even though only on a nucleus basis in view of the existing shipping, housing and commodity shortages.

The Australasian Council of Trades Unions, in giving practical expression to its views on immigration, has through its general secretary, Mr. Monk, offered to establish liaison machinery in ' an advisory or consultative capacity to facilitate the transfer to Australian industry of workers from other lands. Mr. Monk has discussed liaison machinery of this sort on several occasions with representatives of the British trade unions movement, and has secured the full support of British unionists, to set up a liaison arrangement to work with Australian unions and the Australian Government on immigration. Mr. Monk has also offered to act as liaison between Australian unions concerned and myself as Minister for Immigration, covering the arrangements foi- 1,000 building tradesmen to be brought to Australia immediately. These men will be readily absorbed into industry and while presenting no major accommodation problem themselves because of the work upon which they will be engaged, will contribute materially to the solution of our housing problem.

I mentioned on the 5th April that all State governments were represented at a conference of departmental officers thai had just been held in Canberra, at which many aspects of -immigration were discussed. These officers have since reported to their Ministers, who have now. accepted' invitations to meet Commonwealth Ministers at a conference on immigration in Canberra on the 19th August, the day preceding the opening of the Premiers Conference. This conference will deal with the report on the matters arising from the Ministers' con:ference. Reception, accommodation and "after-care" of migrants brought to Australia under the programme of encouraged migration will be among the many important matters to be resolved at these meetings. Already a good deal of progress has been reported but there are several aspects yet to be dealt with. Other important matters awaiting the attention of State Ministers in Canberra on the 19th August relate to youth and child immigration schemes, " nomination " and selection of migrants, priority categories for early passages to Australia, financial arrangements, and the industrial needs and absorptive capacity of the States in relation to distribution- between the States of immigrants brought to Australia under official schemes.

To carry out the. Commonwealth's immigration functions in the States, and to maintain liaison with State government immigration, authorities, the Commonwealth Department of Immigration has been expanded by the establishment of State branches in every State capital.

I have appointed a committee to prepare literature to assist alien immigrants to become assimilated into our way of life, with a full appreciation of the significance 'of naturalization and of Australia's national background. Those appointed to the committee are the honorable member for Parkes, Mr. Haylen, who last year visited Great Britain and Europe as chairman of the Commonwealth Immigration. Advisory Committee, Professor R. C. Mills, Director of the Commonwealth Office of Education; and representatives of the Departments of Immigration and Information.

As honorable members are aware, a valuable report has been submitted to the

Parliament during the present sitting by the committee I appointed to consider the legal and practical difficulties involved in the possession of different nationalities by husband and wife.Senator Tangney was chairman of the committee and other members were the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons), and representatives of the Australian National Council of Women, the Country Women's Association, the Australian Labour party and departmental officers. An important item of legislation submitted to the Commonweatlh Parliament during the present session dealt with the legal guardianship of all children brought to Australia under the auspices of any governmental or non-governmental migration organization. The legislation does not apply to immigrant children who came to Australia with, or to live in the care of, their parents or relatives.

The number of British ex-servicemen and women who, while based on Australia, the Middle East, India and SouthEast Asia have applied for their discharge in Australia and whose applications were approved by the Australian Department of Immigration to the 30th June, 1946 exceeds 4,000. Of these, 3,545 are from the Royal Navy, 258 from the Royal Air Force, and 156 from the British Army.

The Government has, during the life of this Parliament, laid the foundation of a long term immigration plan calculated to build Australia in a comparatively short time to a powerful nation - one capable of standing on its own feet against any eventuality that might arise - a land inhabited by a happy and independent people with an assured future. The population problem in Australia is one above the interests of any section of the community, and it is from this point of view that the present Government has approached the subject.

We need a much bigger population if we are to hold this land for ourselves and our children, and we can get it by a greatly increasd birth rate and a greatly increased flow of immigrants. This is a land inhabited by a free, proud and democratic people.

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