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Thursday, 22 October 1964

Senator MURPHY (New South Wales) . - I refer to Division No. 274 - Immigration Services - and the proposed allocation of £3,000 to the Australian branch of the International Social Service for purposes of a grant in aid. Apparently there was no appropriation or expenditure in respect of this item in the last financial year. Is this the first time such a grant has been made? Is this a governmental body or a body on which the Australian Government is represented? Is there any legislative authority or any delegated legislation to make this an annual payment?

I turn to the appropriation of £69,000 for Spanish migration. Why was there an expenditure of only £14,464 last financial year when the appropriation was £133,500? Does this indicate that Spanish migration virtually collapsed last year? Is the appropriation this year - about four times the amount expended last year - an indication of a revival in Spanish migration?

I refer now to assisted British migrants. Has the Government any concrete plans for dealing with the very serious matter of the failure of British migrants to become Australian citizens? The position is so bad that of the 500,000 British migrants who have come to Australia since 1949 and are now eligible for registration as Australian citizens, only about 11,000, according to the figures supplied to me, have become Australian citizens. In any event, the number who have become Australian citizens is only a very small fraction of the number eligible for registration. The position seems to be getting worse.

In my view, this indicates the Government's failure to bring home to the migrants the necessity to register if they wish to become Australian citizens. No doubt many British migrants assume from the fact that they are required and permitted to enrol as electors and to vote, and from the fact that they are entitled to various other privileges, that they are Australian citizens. It probably comes as a great surprise to them to find that they are not. The publicity that I have seen on this aspect is pretty weak. Could something be done, perhaps by way of increased publicity, by making special appeals and by providing more information on the necessity for registration, to bring this matter home to British migrants? Could there be perhaps some registration ceremony similar to the naturalisation ceremony?

Will the Minister tell me what disabilities are suffered by British subjects who are not registered as Australian citizens? I seem to recall that a certain piece of legislation which was passed this year - offhand I think it was the Homes Savings Grant Bill - applied some advantages only to Australian citizens and not to British subjects. Am' I correct in my recollection? If there are any disabilities suffered by British subjects who are not Australian citizens, could this be mentioned in the publicity directed towards British migrants so that they will see at least some of the advantages in becoming Australian citizens?

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