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Thursday, 24 March 1966

Sir KEITH WILSON (Sturt) .- I think that every honorable member will agree that the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), when he is discussing a matter free from party politics, is a great orator. He has shown today in his speech on this important subject that he can make a valuable contribution to the thinking of

Australia. When I spoke on this subject, when debating the statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) on the nation's affairs, I pointed out that following upon the proposed reform Australia now has the most liberal immigration policy of any country. From now on there will not be in any of our laws or in any of our regulations anything that discriminates against migrants on the grounds of colour or race. Australia exercises, as does every other country, the right to say who can come in and who can not. That great responsibility is entrusted in the Minister of Immigration (Mr. Opperman). I know that all honorable members will agree that the Minister is a man with a heart. He has understanding and he will exercise that discretion in the best interests of Australia.

In exercising his discretion the Minister has certain guide lines to follow. He has to satisfy himself that the applicant for migration can be successfully integrated into this community. In applying that test all manner of factors must be considered. It is obvious that a person who speaks the same language as we do can be more easily integrated into this community than a person who speaks only a foreign language. It is obvious that a person who has a standard of education equivalent to or better than the Australian standard is more likely to be successfully integrated than a person who is totally illiterate or a person who has little education. Similarly, a person whose religion is somewhat similar to the kinds of religions we have in Australia is more likely to be assimilated than is a person whose religion is entirely different. That does not mean that either education or religion is in itself a barrier or bar to an entry permit. All that it means is that all these things have to be taken into account before the Minister can carry out his responsibility of satisfying himself that the applicant is likely to be successfully integrated into this community.

In many African countries 90 per cent, of the people are totally illiterate. Could anybody say that those totally illiterate African people could be successfully integrated into this high standard country? Of course they could not. But that does not mean that every African is barred from entering this country. So, under the immigration policy established by the present

Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) when he was Minister for Immigration, and carried out since over a period of more than 15 years now by a Liberal Government, we have evolved this policy of placing entry into this country at the discretion of the Minister. He decides whether a person can be successfully integrated into this community. The only bar that has existed in relation to nationality or colour is that a European could become a citizen after five years' residence in this country but for a non-European the period was 15 years. That discrimination is now being removed. From now on, there will be absolutely no discrimination on the ground of race or colour.

I do not think that will mean any substantial change in the numbers that are coming in from any country because 1 think the test that has been applied in the past - the test of ability to be successfully integrated into the community - will still, of itself, determine the priorities. Obviously, the overwhelming number will come from the United Kingdom because the people of the United Kingdom have a similar background to our own and similar ways of life. Above all, we speak a common language.

After them, the greatest majority, of course, will come from the countries from which they have been coming in the past. Northern Europeans, with their high standards of living and with their ability to learn English within the space of five years, will form the second largest group of our migrants. Southern Europeans, whose standard of education is not as high as that of the Northern Europeans, but who have proved themselves to be very successful migrants in this country will form the third largest group of those who are likely to be admitted. The numbers from other countries will vary according to the Minister's decision after applying the test to which I have referred. We desire and intend to preserve the essential homogeneity of our population. As the honorable member for Grayndler so forcefully put it, we have not the slightest intention of buying for ourselves the problems and troubles that the United States or the United Kingdom have by adopting what I may describe as a very loose immigration policy.

To prove my earlier statement that we have the most liberal immigration policy in the world, and to prove how wrong it is to charge us with having an immigration policy based on race or colour, I want to put on record the policies of our near neighbours. Indonesia will not admit anyone as a permanent resident unless it is satisfied that an applicant has special qualities and techniques and can usefully contribute to national development. We admit to this country every year thousands of unskilled persons in addition to thousands of skilled persons. But Indonesia does not allow anyone to become a permanent resident unless, in the opinion of the authorities that person possesses special qualities and techniques which can usefully contribute to Indonesia's national development.

Our great friend, Malaya, prohibits immigration altogether unless the intending migrant can contribute to the professions, commerce or industry, or unless he can provide specialised services not available locally in sufficient quantity. Nationals from Sino-Soviet countries and from Mainland China are absolutely prohibited. Therefore it is hardly fair that any Malayan should accuse us of having a policy based on colour or race. I do not quarrel with the policy of Malaya. I think Malaya is perfectly justified and right in applying the test that it does; but I suggest that it is completely wrong for any Malayan to criticize Australia's immigration policy. Singapore has a policy identical with that of Malaya.

I come now to our great friend Thailand. The Thais have an annual quota of 200 from any country. We admit something like 15,000 from Italy and something like 15,000 from Greece in a year. What would the Greeks or the Italians say if we said that Australia's immigration policy was to admit only 200 Greeks or 200 Italians in any one year? Again I am not quarrelling with the policy of Thailand, nor am I saying that the Thais are wrong in their immigration policy. That is what they deem to be necessary to retain the homogeneity of their own population. But I say that it would be very wrong for any Thai to criticise Australia on the ground that it has an immigration policy based upon race or colour.

In Burma immigration for permanent residence is discouraged altogether. In other words, Burma does not have migrants.

How wrong it would be for the Burmese to criticise Australia for its immigration policy when that country prohibits immigrants altogether. India has a restrictive practice as far as all non-Commonwealth citizens are concerned. It bans altogether white South Africans. It bans people from Pakistan except for a period of three years and it severely restricts or bans those from Ceylon. India is a country which is very friendly with Australia. We are anxious to do all we can for India. We admit a certain number of Indians to this country. How wrong it would be for India to criticise Australia for its immigration policy when India puts such restrictions upon entry to that country for permanent residence.

Pakistan has a policy which is similar to that of India. It bans all South Africans and allows Indians to reside there only for a period of three years. Ceylon - another country which is friendly to Australia - virtually bans all foreigners. I do not complain about Ceylon's policy. Ceylon is a small island, heavily populated, if not over populated, and if the powers that be in that country say: " We do not want any more citizens for permanent residence ", who are we to criticise it? But it would be wrong for any Singhalese to criticise Australia, which accepts 150,000 migrants a year from other countries, because of Australia's policy of determining whom it shall admit and whom it shall not admit. The Philippines has an entry quota of 50 people from any one country. What would Italy, Greece, Germany or Holland say to us if we decided that we would take a maximum of 50 Germans or 50 Dutch? How silly this quota system can be. If we established our ceiling at about 150,000 a year, as it is now, and then divided that number up amongst the various countries of the world it would mean that many countries would have to be told: " You can send ten migrants to Australia ". What would those countries say? It would be an absolute insult. Therefore these theoretical people who talk about a quota simply do not realise the monstrosity of what they are saying.

I was extremely pleased to hear the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) say that the Labour Party opposed both the coen door and the quota system. I think that we can say that Australia speaks with one voice on this matter of immigration. Both parties oppose the open door system and the quota system and both support a policy of immigration on the largest possible scale that our economy will stand, based upon the ability to integrate the migrants into our community. We do not want Australia to become a little Italy, a little Germany, a little Greece or a little any other country. We want our migrants to become Australians and our migration system is based on admitting people who, having come here, want to become Australians. We do not want people to come here just to make what money they can and then return to their own countries. We want them to be part of the Australian community.

The last country I mentioned was the Philippines. I now refer to Cambodia. Conditions of admittance to Cambodia do not provide for permanent residence. Therefore you can virtually say that Cambodia does not have migrants at all. In Vietnam, absolute power to admit or reject migrants is in the discretion of the Government. The Government sets out certain conditions upon which that discretion shall be exercised. Japan is not a migrant country and makes this perfectly clear. Requests for entry for permanent residence are few. ft exercises a discretion as we do and this discretion is given to the Minister of Justice. He is empowered to exercise it if he considers that the person is medically, socially and politically desirable for permanent residence and if admittance is in accord with the interests of Japan. If you summarise those things you can say that, apart from the fact that Australia is a migrant country and Japan is not, the discretion is very similar. As I have said, Japan says that discretion can be exercised only on the ground that the person is medically, socially and politically desirable.

Let us turn to Africa. No migrant is allowed to enter Ghana for the purpose of taking up employment unless there is a place for him on a firm's immigration quota. In other words, migrants need to have an approved job in Ghana before they are allowed to enter that country for permanent residence. In Egypt labour permits are issued for new industries established with foreign capital. In other words, one can go to Egypt only if one takes an industry also or is in some way associated with a new industry which is considered desirable by the Egyptian Government. No foreigner may reside in Nigeria unless his presence is in the economic interests of the country.

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