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Thursday, 5 March 1970


Mr SPEAKER - There being no objection, leave is granted.


Mr LYNCH - 1 wish to inform the House that a formal agreement has been completed between the Government of Australia and the Government of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on the residence and employment of Yugoslav citizens in this country. The Agreement was signed in Canberra on 12th February by Mr Anton Polajnar, President of the Federal Council of Labour of the Federal Executive Council of Yugoslavia, on behalf of the Yugoslav Government, and by me on behalf of the Australian Government.

The Agreement will enter into force when the Australian Government has been notified by the Yugoslav Government that the requirements of that Government's legislation for the implementation of the Agreement have been fulfilled and the Australian Government acknowledges receipt of such notification. I have been assured by the Yugoslav delegation that these formalities will be put in hand immediately and that migration under the Agreement should commence shortly thereafter. The Agreement will continue in force unless either Government shall have received notice from the other Government of its desire to terminate the Agreement, in which case 180 days after such notification by either Government the Agreement shall no longer have force.

Cabinet approved the opening of discussions with the Government of Yugoslavia in 1967. Preliminary discussions leading up to the Agreement were held in Canberra and Belgrade between representatives of the two Governments, including a thorough discussion on main principles by my colleague the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Snedden), when, as Minister for Immigration, he visited Belgrade in December 1968. In November 1969 a Yugoslav delegation visited Australia for detailed negotiations with an Australian delegation. The Australian delegation comprised representatives of the Department of Immigration, the Department of External Affairs, the Attorney-General's Department, the Department of Labour and National Service and the Department of Social Services. The advice of the Department of the Treasury, the Department of Health and the Department of Education and Science was also taken by the Australian delegation. In accordance with the usual practice on agreements affecting immigration the text of the Agreement was referred to all six State governments and each signified that it had no objection to the signature of the Agreement as proposed. Finally, of course, the Agreement was approved by the GovernorGeneral in Council.

Yugoslav migrants are no strangers to us. There has been a long history of successful Yugoslav settlement in Australia since the early part of the century. In the I920's there was a substantial inflow, mainly to Western Australia. Over recent years migration from Yugoslavia has steadily increased - last year nearly 13,000 Yugoslavs settled in Australia. They are now a major element in the migration programme, ranking third after Britain and Italy. Yugoslavia represents an area from which suitable migrants can be obtained in greater numbers. Many are skilled workers and they are a particularly important source of highly trained metal workers who have little difficulty in fitting into the local industrial situation.

There are now more than 100,000 Yugoslavs in Australia to which must be added their Australian bom children. They have proved themselves to be excellent settlers, industrious, well-qualified in their occupations and, except for a very small factional minority, have been very law abiding. Between 1945 and 1969 nearly 46,000 Yugoslavs have taken Australian citizenship. This represents approximately 74% of the Yugoslavs then eligible to apply for citizenship. Yugoslavs are now working in a wide variety of jobs throughout Australia, notably in the steel and motor industries, on development schemes, in the brown coal industry of the Latrobe Valley and in the Queensland canefields

The Agreement which I table today formalises migration from Yugoslavia and places it on a stable and continuing basis. No actual numbers have been specified in the Agreement but provision exists in the procedural arrangements associated with it for the Yugoslav Government to be informed annually of Australia's requirements. The aim will be to maintain a reasonable balance between skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled workers, nder the terms of Article 22 of the Agreement assisted passages to Australia will now be available to selected migrants from Yugoslavia. Persons 19 years of agc and over will contribute $A25 towards the cost of their transport to Australia; the balance of the fare will be met by the Australian Government. Persons under 19 years of age will not be required to make any personal contribution towards their travel. This places Yugoslav assisted migrants on the same basis as migrants from other countries. The extension of assisted passages to residents of Yugoslavia will place migration to Australia within the financial reach of a larger section of people. It will facilitate family reunion, as in the past for financial reasons some Yugoslavs preceded their families here, lt will avoid the social consequences of separated families in future migration and, by easing the financial strain of migration, strengthen and speed successful settlement in Australia.

The Agreement which honourable members have before them describes the facilities for settlement of Yugoslav citizens. It records the rights they enjoy and the obligations they undertake in common with Australian citizens and other migrants. It affirms their eligibility for social service benefits and to share in official accommodation and housing schemes. It also provides for advice to Yugoslav migrants on the acceptance of vocational qualifications in Australia and records that the Australian Government will endeavour to advance the acceptance of Yugoslav qualifications within the framework of Australian laws, regulations and practices. As in other migration agreements the rights of Yugoslav settlers as residents and as workers are set out. Australia undertakes to extend to Yugoslav workers and their families the facilities available in Australia for migrants to learn English.

The procedural arrangements agreed upon between the two Governments in pursuance of Article 22 of the Agreement provide that the Australian Government will select migrants for Australia in accordance with its requirements. It has always been basic to Australia's post-war immigration policy that the right to determine who may be admitted to Australia for permanent settlement rests with Australia. In this Agreement the procedural arrangements preserve this right. The selection procedures will provide for an assessment by Australian officers of the general suitability, health, character and the potential of the individual to conform to Australia's concepts of political and social behaviour. As with all other countries from which migrants are taken, Yugoslavia has a legitimate and reasonable interest in the number and occupational categories of those moving to immigration countries. To safeguard this interest the Government of Yugoslavia, again in common with other governments with which we have migration agreements, requires a co-operative part in the actual processes of emigration and in the decision whether a person may be accepted. The final decision on whether a migrant is to be accepted for Australia will however rest with the Australian Government. This bilateral approach to selection is not exclusive to Yugoslav migration. In one form or another it exists in all countries with which we deal. Even in Britain the Government can insist on joint approval of persons receiving assisted passages.

There has been some public comment about the implications of Article 20 of the Agreement, which deals with a Yugoslav settler's liability for military service in Australia. The position is that Yugoslavs, like all persons ordinarily resident in Australia whether British or of any other nationality, are required to register for national service in the same way as Australians. However, in accordance with section 35a of the

National Service Act 1951-68, men who have rendered continuous full-time service in the permanent forces of Australia or in the naval, military or air forces of a country other than Australia are granted recognition of such service in determining their national service liability.

The new Agreement merely gives expression to this provision of the National Service Act. It provides no preferential status for Yugoslavs. This is not unique to the Yugoslav Agreement and in any event the benefits of this provision of the National Service Act are applicable to migrants from all countries irrespective of a migration agreement.

This, of course, is the first migration agreement signed with a Communist government. As I have said, migration from Yugoslavia has been a fact for many years. Through it we have benefited greatly by an infusion of migrants of excellent personal quality and who are sought after by employers because of their industry and aptitudes.

This Agreement is intended to confirm Yugoslavia as a continuing source of such migrants in the future. Australia's increasing need for a young, virile, adaptable and skilled work force, requires that we look beyond the more traditional sources, some of which are providing, fewer settlers than formerly. There are differences in' the basic concepts of government between the two contracting parties. The migration Agreement just signed does not alter this fact though it is an illustration that these differences need not affect useful cooperation in various fields. It is both rational and civilised that an important association between countries which results in the movement of people from one to the other should be dignified by a formal agreement.

I present the following paper:

Immigration Agreement Between Australia and Yugoslavia - Ministerial Statement, 5th March 1970. and move:

That the House take note of the paper.







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