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Thursday, 8 November 1956


Mr TOWNLEY (Denison) (Minister for Immigration) . - I do not wish to detain the House, but I am sure that honorable members will . be pleased to know that the Government has decided to provide sanctuary for up to 3,000 refugees from Hungary who fled across the border into Austria following Russia's military action. This is part of a swift response by this country to a cabled appeal by the federal Government of Austria to the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. These authorities asked European States and Australia to give asylum to the greatest possible number of refugees from Hungary. As a special gesture in recognition of the urgent human problem involved in the plight of the refugees, Australia will gladly accept 3,000 refugees during the remainder of the present financial year. Details to give effect to the Government's decision are being worked out at this time.

Arrangements will be made to place workers amongst the refugees in employ ment, but it is anticipated that the group will include a number of compassionate cases, such as children and people of ages exceeding the normal age limits imposed for other assisted migrants. If necessary, normal selection standards may be modified for the group. The important issue is that Australia should make an immediate and positive contribution towards helping these unfortunate victims of aggression. Such a gesture is in keeping with Australia's proud record in having provided a haven for more than 200,000 displaced persons who were made homeless by the last war, among them being large numbers of Hungarians who have made a fine contribution to Australia's economy and culture. Australia is proud to welcome their compatriots who again have demonstrated the Hungarian courage and love of freedom.







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