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Thursday, 28 March 1957

Mr POLLARD (Lalor) .- I wish, first, to express a hope that the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Townley) will not leave the chamber while I am speaking. I say that only because I do not want to say anything in his absence that I would not say in his presence. I might express a wish, also, that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) were present.

Before I speak about the problem of immigration, may I say that I listened to the delivery of the Governor-General's Speech with rapt attention, and I think I can say that I never before heard a speech of that nature better delivered. The delivery was magnificent, but unfortunately the subjectmatter, with the exception of a few bright spots, was uninspiring, and will leave the people of Australia, except for a few ardent followers of this Government, stone cold. I congratulate the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury) and the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes), the mover and seconder of the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to His Excellency's Speech, on the excellence of the delivery of their speeches and the material contained in them. I do not necessarily agree with much of that material, but it was all interesting and informative. I hope that they can keep up that standard of debate in this chamber, whether or not I agree with their views in the future.

The Governor-General's Speech which, in effect, is the speech of the Prime

Minister and his Government to the nation, ranged over a considerable number of problems. 1 mention one of them, because it is closely associated with the matter of housing, which was the subject of the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt). I refer to immigration.

A few minutes ago, the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Townley) worked himself into a fever in an endeavour to misrepresent the attitude of the Australian Labour party on the subject of immigration. The Minister said that the Labour party was advocating a reduction of the intake of immigrants. That is perfectly true, but if the honorable gentleman looks at the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General, which is, in effect, the speech of the Prime Minister and his followers to the people of this country, he will find this statement -

My Government will continue an active and balanced immigration programme appropriate to our capacity. Emphasis will be placed on an increase in the proportion of British migrants-

The Government intends to increase the proportion of British immigrants to immigrants of other origins, although the Minister just now tried to lambaste the Labour party for adopting a similar policy. I suggest that he needs to wake up before he tries to misrepresent other people. The Speech of His Excellency went on - and proposals to widen opportunities for British settlers are being developed.

That is the very attitude which the Australian Labour party has adopted.

Mr Townley - Nonsense!

Mr POLLARD - Notwithstanding what the Minister said regarding the policy decisions of the Australian Labour party reached at the recent Brisbane conference, here are the facts. I have here the decisions in print. They included this one -

The Australian Labour party declared without equivocation that it strongly supports a programme of development and migration based upon the foundations laid by the Chifley Labour Government.

When the Minister for Immigration makes a low-down appeal to the feelings of the foreign immigrants who come to this country, and endeavours to convey to them that the Labour party is hostile towards them and the continuation of immigration, he is what the honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) called me about half an hour ago - a liar. Here are the facts. We say that we adhere without equivocation to continuation of the Chifley policy.

The Minister for Immigration has been up to his old tricks. He cannot play the game. He appealed to the foreign immigrants already in Australia to take note of the fact that the Labour Opposition, if it were in government, would prevent their wives and families from coming to this country.

Mr Townley - That is right.

Mr POLLARD - Let me show what a perverter of the truth the Minister is: I did not say a word to him while he was speaking, and I expect the same consideration from him. He is becoming rattled. He can give it, but he cannot take it. The federal Labour conference at Brisbane decided that there shall be " permitted migration of the wives, children, parents and fiancees of migrants already resident in Australia ". I throw that in the teeth of this Minister who appealed to the shopkeepers of this country, who might lose a few nickels that the foreign immigrants would spend with them. As a matter of fact, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, during my life-time I have had an opportunity, because of my association with foreigners in this country, to develop a particular liking for them.

Mr Cramer - Do not kid me!

Mr POLLARD - The Minister for the Army could not kid anybody. He is just a fat-headed humbug.

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