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Thursday, 26 August 1937

Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia) (Minister for External Affairs) [9.24].- The Leader of the Opnosition (Senator Collings) at the outset of his remarks referred to a statement made in the Senate. That was the one made by me this morning in reply to a question by Senator Guthrie. I invite the honorable gentleman to examine it and tell the Senate if he can find any fault with it, or if it is in any particular inaccurate.

Senator Collings - I did not say that the Minister's statement was inaccurate.

Senator Sir GEORGEPEARCE.Later the honorable senator said that he was referring to something that had been said somewhere outside this Parliament.

Senator Collings - I was referring to a statement made by the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson).

Senator Sir GEORGEPEARCE No Government is responsible for statements made by private individuals outside the Parliament. I am quite sure that the Minister for the Interior did not say that the Government of Queensland was responsible for the introduction of aliens into Australia. The honorable senator will not be able to find substantiation anywhere for that allegation. If any such statement was published it was cer- tainly not made by a member of the Government. -The Leader of the Opposition quoted from a speech made by Mr. Hynes, who was acting-Premier of Queensland during the absence of Mr. Forgan Smith, alleging that a large number of aliens which had been admitted by the Commonwealth Government into Queensland had become a charge on the public funds. That statement certainly attracted the attention of the Commonwealth Government, because prior to the issue of landing permits, it had taken the steps to satisfy itself that responsible people in Queensland would guarantee that any aliens admitted would not become a charge on the Government. Queensland Government officials had been asked in every instance to make inquiries in the different districts to ascertain whether the nominators would be able to honour their undertaking. The Queensland police, as has been admitted in the correspondence, made these inquiries. If they reported that the nominators of applicants for admission were not in a position to fulfil their guarantee, permission to enter the Commonwealth was- refused. The only exception was in respect of a man who applied for permission to bring into this country his wife and children. In that case, we caused inquiries to be made as to whether he was a reputable citizen ; if ho was the application would be granted. Following upon the stateMont recently that large numbers of foreign migrants were becoming a charge on the public funds in Queensland, the Minister for the Interior asked the Queensland Government to furnish the particulars of such cases. Five names were received and on inquiries being made it was found that all five men had been in Australia for more than five years, three being naturalized British subjects. It must be . remembered also, that we have been passing through a depression, and we may assume that naturalized' and alien citizens suffered in common with the rest of the community. It is well known, that during the depression large numbers of very deserving people were reduced to poverty, but only five aliens have come on the Queensland Government funds. Apparently these five are " the large numbers " who, it has been said, have sought government assistance. If the Queensland Government had known of large numbers why did it not supply the names ?

Senator Collings - I cannot say, but 1 shall ascertain the facts.

Senator Sir GEORGEPEARCE.The list is in the Department of the Interior. I invite the Leader of the Opposition to examine it. He will find that the Queensland Government was unable to furnish the facts upon which such a loose allegation was made about the " large numbers " of aliens who had become a charge on government funds. Therefore, there is nothing upon which he can base an attack on the Government with regard to alien migrants.

Senator Collings - Nevertheless it is a fact that large numbers of alien migrants are being allowed into Australia.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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