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Thursday, 29 October 1964

Senator FITZGERALD (New South Wales) . - This bill consists of five clauses and seeks to amend sections 8, 57 and 67 of the principal Act. The Bill has the approval of members of the Australian Labour Party and is not being opposed. The first object of the Bill is to enable the Minister to facilitate the entry into Australia of important visitors and their parties, and other persons and groups of persons whose admission, on a temporary basis, it is desired to facilitate for example, delegates attending international conferences in Australia.

The second object of the Bill is the simplification of procedures to be followed by passengers travelling by sea. This will provide the Government with proper records and control over such movements. For many years persons travelling to Australia by air have completed the passenger card prescribed by the Migration Act. This procedure has worked successfully. The Bill indicates the Government's intention to apply this procedure to travellers by sea.

In his analysis of the Bill the Minister has set out explicitly the Government's proposals. Section 8 of the Migration Act at present exempts four specified categories of persons from the need to be granted an entry permit on arrival. These are, first, members of the armed forces of the Crown entering on duty; secondly, diplomats, consuls and trade commissioners, and their staffs and dependants; thirdly, members of the complements of vessels of the regular armed forces of a government recognised by the Commonwealth entering Australia on leave; and fourthly, members of the crew of any vessel landing on leave during the stay of their vessel in port. Clause 3 of the Bill will permit the Government to give full effect to the Status of Forces Agreement, which has recently been concluded with the Government of the United States of America, in relation to the admission of United States personnel and civilians within clearly defined categories. Important visitors will also be exempted from the need to be granted an entry permit.

I believe that these matters have been considered very carefully by the departmental officers and have been made the subject of submissions to the Minister. We think that the Government's proposal will assist in every way people coming to our shores by providing the facilities that are so essential. As I have said, persons entering Australia by air complete the passenger card prescribed by the Migration Act, and persons leaving Australia by air complete the passenger card prescribed by the Air Navigation Regulations. The Government's intention is that this procedure which has operated so successfully for air travellers shall be followed by persons coming to Australia by sea.

As the Senate will realise, since 1945 almost 2 million people have entered Australia, the biggest majority by air but a tremendous number by sea. As one who has travelled on several of these overseas ships and has seen migrants coming to Australia, I realise the problems and difficulties that they encounter with the numerous forms that they have to complete. In the circumstances we agree with the Government that every opportunity should be taken to simplify the procedure. We understand that the proposed procedure has been followed, for a trial period, on a number of trips and that it has worked satisfactorily. No doubt this has prompted the Government to advance the proposals that are now before us.

Newcomers have all the worries of the world on their shoulders, so the difficulties that they are encountering must be resolved. The proposal we are now discussing will help to do this. I know that on arrival here they are given every assistance, but the fact remains that they are very concerned and no doubt would prefer to follow the simplified procedure. For these reasons we concur in the Government's action. While this is only a somewhat minor Bill, its proposals will assist the men and women arriving in Australia.

We must show every kindness, patience and consideration to the new arrivals.

If they are to be regarded as welcome additions to our country, every care must be taken to overcome any difficulties that they may encounter in making this country their own. I am sure that this Bill will help to do that. We are very happy to support it, because we recognise that the success of our immigration programme depends so much on our attitude to newcomers. We commend the administrative officers for their suggestions, which certainly will be welcomed by people arriving in this country.

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