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Thursday, 22 October 1964

Senator O'BYRNE (Tasmania) .- I refer to Division No. 286 - Migration Office - Kingdom of Greece, the total appropriation for which, in 1964-65, is £127,200. I ask the Minister whether the Australian migration office staff in Greece has looked into a matter which occurred during the past year when a Greek migrant who had come out to Australia under the migration scheme returned to Greece with Australian citizenship and was called up by the Greek Army while he was in that country. It seems to be a contradiction that this could happen to a man who has full Australian citizenship and that some compromise has not been made between the Greek Government and the Australian Government in this regard. Can the Minister inform me whether the Department is working on this problem to try to sort it out?

The other matter to which I wish to refer comes under Division No. 303 - Migration Offices - Other overseas posts. I am not certain what posts are involved. I would like to ask the Minister whether it would be possible for an overseas officer of the Department of Immigration to pay occasional visits behind the Iron Curtain, as a sort of ombudsman or public relations man, in an effort to solve some of the practically insoluble problems involved in the poignant cases which senators and members of the House of Representatives have to deal with from time to time. I have even gone to the extent of writing to Khrushchev in relation to a woman in Russia who was left a widow. I tried to do something through the Australian Ambassador in Moscow, who was a friend of mine. I tried in every possible way.

Perhaps the link that appears to be missing could be supplied by the Department of Immigration. Perhaps an officer of the Department, acting as a sort of public relations officer, could make direct contact with authorities behind the Iron Curtain and do something to help the relatives of people who have come to Australia and have become very good citizens. The case to which I have referred is that of the mother of some migrants in Australia. She has become a widow and is old, yet some barrier is preventing her from coming to Australia. I believe that the Department of Immigration has men who could open up some channels through which cases such as this could be brought to a successful con- elusion. Perhaps a roving officer could be appointed who could go anywhere in Europe. The item in the estimates to which I am relating my remarks refers to " overseas posts ". Whether it could cover the type of person I have in mind, I do not know; but such a person could help families similar to the one I have mentioned. One of the objectives of the Department is to keep families together. We should try to help people who are already in Australia to be united with other members of the family living overseas, if this can possibly be done.

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