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Thursday, 7 November 1946

Mr SPEAKER -Order ! The honorable member for Reid has asked the question.

Mr CALWELL - I have made it clear that 151 berths were rendered vacant at Port Said. These were filled by a similar number of persons who desired to come to Australia. Some other berths had been reserved. There has been a good deal of inspired criticism in the press about aliens' coming to this country. We shall have to get aliens as well as British subjects to come here if we are to populate the country. The prevailing anti-alienism is a form of racial prejudice which is almost indistinguishable from Nazi-ism. I desire to read, in conclusion, a letter on this subject, which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald of the 1st November, over the signature of the Reverend " David Hand ". In it, he said-

I was a passenger in the Strathmore on her recent voyage. I am an Australian-born priest oi the Anglican Church. I write purely in the interests of truth and justice.

The passengers who embarked at Port Said - and other " aliens " on board - were accepted by the Australian Government as immigrants: otherwise they would never have been allowed tn embark. Many were apparently accepted because of their services - underground or otherwise - to the Allies in the war, during which they lost all.

To a great extent these persons replaced those who disembarked at Port Said. It is unfair to say unreservedly that British immigrants were left behind in England to make room for them. Many of them were packed into a portion of the ship variously known as "The Dormitory" or " Belsen," in which ma,nv English people would probably have refused to sleep.

As a priest on board, I had occasion to learn a good deal about the moral or immoral behaviour of passengers; and I know that the highest officers of the ship would support my contention that the morals of the British passengers were no better - perhaps worse - than those of " aliens."

The captain of the ship was entirely satisfied with the behaviour of the " aliens " aboard. Those who were privileged to get to know any of thom: usually found them friendly, keen to Beam Australian ways and language, and full of admiration and gratitude of the British people

I accept no responsibility for the contents of that letter; but I quote it in opposition to those who want to stir up racial prejudice in this country.

Air. SHEEHAN. - Can the Minister for Immigration say whether arrangements have been made to bring British workmen to Australia? Have any of these men yet left England, and has it been arranged that their families also shall be brought to Australia?

Mr CALWELL - Some months ago, the Prime Minister approved of the despatch of a cablegram to the Australian High Commissioner in London asking him to recruit 600 building tradesmen f or work in Canberra, but he has experienced difficulty in obtaining the required number in the various categories. It was intended that the workmen should arrive here in groups, starting with a number of brickmakers, with other groups following, until we had a full complement of building trades workers. Difficulty occurred in obtaining brickmakers. but the first batch of 178 building tradesmen will leave England within the next fortnight. Provision has already been made for their, accommodation in Canberra, and I hope that, from now on, there will be a regular flow of British workers of all categories.

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