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Thursday, 29 October 1964

Senator BUTTFIELD (South Australia) . - I should like to say a few words in support of this Bill. I am delighted that a barrier which has confronted people entering Australia is now to be removed. I do not know whether honorable senators remember, but it could not be more than six yeaTs since I brought this matter to the attention of the Parliament. Now, hey presto, it is done. It is wonderful to think that the Government has taken this action.

Senator O'Byrne - The honorable senator must have been responsible for it.

Senator BUTTFIELD - I may have been. Six years have elapsed. In any event, it is certainly good to find that action has been taken. Anything which will facilitate the entry of either migrants or tourists to this country is of great advantage to them. I was interested to see a Press report in the last few days to the effect that somebody who had been investigating tourism had said that members of Parliament and perhaps also public servants were still not fully aware of the value of tourism. I think that is quite true, when we realize that it has taken so much time to have the Act amended in this way. If the amendments that have now been made have the effect of assisting to encourage migrants to come here they are laudable, although I doubt very much whether they will have that effect. I do not think that prospective migrants are aware of the difficulties involved in the paper work they will have to do when they are entering Australia. However, if their entry is made easier, perhaps they will advise their friends to follow suit.

People who come to Australia by air complete a passenger card before arrival, and the proposal is that people arriving by sea will have their entry facilitated in the same way. That will be of great advantage to them. The fact that there are certain people who have had the privilege of entering Australia without administrative difficulty being placed in their way does not worry me very much because the four categories of persons mentioned in the Bill do not add very much from the point of view of migration or of tourism. However, a matter which is of great importance to us in Australia is that under this Bill the section of the Act which prevented United States Service personnel from entering is to be brought into line with the Status of Forces Agreement with the Government of the United States of America. We certainly rely on our friends to help us to defend this country and to guarantee its security. We rely on them to assist us because we could not possibly do all that is required to defend it. If the American Service chiefs have asked that we facilitate the entry of American personnel to this country I think it is extremely important that we do so.

The fact that the visa system is not affected by the Bill is not of great importance because obviously people who are coming here to live or for a lengthy stay need to be more closely examined. But it has been obvious for many years that it was not important for people who were coming for a short stay to go through the formalities that were required i of them. It is interesting to me that the Department now admits that a more complete check is made and that it is able to keep better figures relating to persons entering and leaving Australia. That, of course, is greatly to our advantage because it means that we will have better statistics. As we know, on many occasions reference has been made in this place to the fact that the statistics have been incomplete. It is also interesting to see that the Department has operated the new procedures on a trial basis and has found them to be eminently satisfactory in all respects. I am very glad that these amendments are being made and I have pleasure in supporting the Bill.

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