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Tuesday, 9 April 1957

Mr Ward d asked the Minister for Immi gration, upon notice -

1.   Will he set out in some detail the system of screening overseas applicants for permanent residence in Australia to determine their suitability, particularly the checking of papers presented by the intending settler to establish the genuineness or otherwise of these documents?

2.   What is the average normal time taken to complete the checking of the applicant?

3.   How many Australian immigration officers are engaged in duties overseas, and, of these, how many are employed upon the work of screening applicants?

Mr Townley - The answer to the honorable member's questions is as follows: -

It has been a basic principle of Australia's post-war immigration policy that Australia reserves the right to determine who may be admittedto Australia for permanent settlement. This reservation relates not only to tile general suitability of the prospective migrant,but also to their numbers, occupational categories, and so forth. The actual selection process has been devised to ensure the maximum assessment of a prospective migrant's qualifications. All forms, including application forms, and related documents are those prepared by theCommonwealth Department of Immigration or, if originating from the overseas country concerned, those which have been approved by the Australian Government. The organization in each of the Australian immi gration posts overseas provides for an establishment including -

(a)   Selection officers (who are Australian based personnel with knowledge and experience of Australian conditions and requirements);

(b)   Medical officers (including radiologists) of the Commonwealth Department of Health;

(c)   Security officers of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization; and

(d)   Technical advisers appointed by the Department of Immigration on the nomination of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, whose function is to advise on the technical suitability of migrant tradesmen.

The selection and medical officers generally comprise a selection team which interviews applicants in permanent processing centres and/or ona mobile basis in various national labour offices,on a regular schedule of visits. The security officers and technical advisers are not as a general rule permanently attached to a selection team but, in performing their specialized functions, join the selection process at required intervals. The actual selection procedure varies according to the country in which the selection is taking place, and to the arrangements made by the host country, but a general pattern does emerge of the processa prospective migrant undergoes from the moment of application to time of approval for admissiointo Australia. This may he summarized as follows: -

(a)   When an application on the prescribed form is received by the Australian immigration authorities overseas it is first checked to ensure that the prospective migrant fulfils the Australian criteria as to eligibility for consideration under the relevant scheme. When it has been established that the migrant is eligible for consideration, action is immediately commenced for security checking.

(b)   The field office or selection team on circuit nearest the applicant's place of residence calls the migrant forward for interview, when a processing sheet with the applicant's personal particularsis completed. This document is in accordance with Australian requirements.

(c)   The applicant is examined by a medical officer of the country of emigration. who completes all relevant particulars on the prescribed form, and is X-rayed by an approved X-ray authority.

(d)   If the applicant is a tradesman he is interviewed by the Australian technical adviser, who completes a technical officer's report, which is submitted to the selection officer. In some countries, provision is made for the tradetesting of applicants where this is considered necessary by the technical adviser.

(e)   The applicant is physically examined by the Australian medical officer, who also reviews the pre-selection medical examination carried out by the national authorities. The Australian medical officer may require further tests or an additional X-ray examination before making his recommendation, which is later subject to confirmation by the senior Australian medical officer who examines each applicant's medical dossier.

(f)   The applicant appears for examination before the Australian selection officer, who at this interview also checks all personal and official documents submitted by the prospective migrant.

(g)   The completed documents (interview and medical reports. X-ray and radiologist's report, technical report form) are brought together by the selection officer to form a dossier, on which he makes his recommendation before forwarding it to the Australian Chief Migration Officer in the country concerned.

(h)   When the dossier reaches the mission head-quarters, the medical form and X-ray photographs are further examined by the Australian Senior Medical Officer and Radiologist, who make a recommendation for approval, deferral or rejection of the application on medical grounds.

(i)   Normally the security check has been completed by the time the applicant's other papers have been finalized, and in the event of the rejection of the applicant on security grounds, the case is closed.

(j)   Final action in the other cases is taken by the senior processing officer who checks all documents, including security and medical papers. If satisfied that all the documents are in order, applicant's dossier is endorsed " Approved for Migration ".

The average time taken to complete the checking of an eligible applicant is approximately two months after the initial receipt of the application by the Australian immigration authorities. There are currently 125 Australian-based officers engaged upon immigration duties overseas. Of this number 96 (who would include officers on duty from Other departments for specialized functions, but excluding executive and administrative officers) are employed upon the actual work of screening applicants for permanent residence.

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