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Wednesday, 25 November 1959

Mr DOWNER (ANGAS, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) (Minister for Immigration) - I well recognize the honorable member's interest in this matter because I think that the Greta migrant centre lies within the district which he has represented in this Parliament for years with assiduousness and distinction. The honorable gentleman has had discussions with me from time to time during the last fortnight following my announcement that the centre would be closed. I want the honorable gentleman to realize that the proposal is not to abolish the Greta migrant centre but to place it, from the middle of January next, on a caretaker basis so that should economic opportunities offer in the future, and should it be desirable to direct more migrants to that part of Australia, the centre can be re-opened very speedily and accommodate up to 2,000 people.

I well realize, and agree in principle with, the honorable gentleman's view of centralization, but I can assure him that that point of view is kept very much in mind so far as migrant centres are concerned. In the broad, it is not proposed to contract them and to direct this temporary form of accommodation merely to the big cities. Nonetheless, as I think my honorable friend will agree because of his own quite considerable administrative experience, these matters have to be considered in terms of what is desirable, what is reasonable, and what is economical. As I said at the time when I announced the closure of the centre, the Government will save £100,000 a year by the present proposal. I should hope that the Government's decision, therefore, would commend itself to all honorable members on both sides of the House.

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