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Thursday, 18 October 1956

Mr HAROLD HOLT (HIGGINS, VICTORIA) - It is a fact that within Australia there are a number of people in the category mentioned by the honorable member for Capricornia. It is also a fact that, up to the present time, unless they have been born in Australia, they have not been regarded as eligible for naturalization. This has produced some anomalies. For example, a man who came here in the early years of our federation and lived here all his life might have brought up a family in Australia. All the children would take Australian citizenship upon birth but the father - the head of the household - would not have been considered eligible for naturalization. Similarly, in more recent times, we have had the problem of wives of ex-servicemen from nonEuropean sources or of non-European people, who have come here and who also, by virtue of past practice, have not been eligible for naturalization, even though they are married to Australian citizens. The whole question was examined recently by the Immigration Advisory Council, which has recommended to the Government that in circumstances such as these - each case being examined on its merits - eligibility for naturalization might be accepted when it was felt that conditions suitable for such acceptance had been complied with. The Government has decided that non-European wives or husbands of Australian citizens should become eligible for naturalization upon marriage. In respect of other persons who are in Australia without restriction by virtue of their special circumstances - merchants who have been here for a long period of years are a case in point - each case would be considered on its merits; and in suitable cases eligibility for naturalization would be approved. I feel that this decision will be welcomed, not only by the non-Europeans directly affected but by non-European countries, as evidence of our determination to maintain our traditional immigration policy, but to see to it that good sense and humanity are exercised in the administration of it.

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