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Migrant settlement proposals offer freedom of choice

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M e d i a R e l e a s e

The Hon. Philip Ruddock MR Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs Telephone: (06) 277 7860 Facsimile: (06) 273 4144

MRS 33/96


Plans to encourage migrants to settle away from Australia's largest capital cities will still allow people the freedom of choice the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Philip Ruddock said today.

"Proposals we put forward to encourage people to keep their promise will not be a breach of the Constitution and they will not be coercive," Mr Ruddock said.

"What I am looking at are consequences that might affect people if they walk away from a commitment they have made to gain entry to Australia, but we will not do anything that contravenes the Constitution."

The Governm ent has announced plans to encourage migrants to settle outside the major capital cities such as Sydney and Melbourne.

The possibility of a performance bond has been raised as a means of encouraging migrants arriving under the schemes, to make a commitment to areas of Australia, other than the major capitals. However the bond has not been implemented.

"If a bond were to be implemented, migrants would still be free to move and to decide where they want to live in Australia, but there would be consequences of breaking their promise. I don't regard that as an unreasonable restriction in relation to movement," Mr Ruddock said.

'The Government is responding to community concerns about the population growth of the major capital cities and specific skill shortages in some of the smaller capitals and other provincial cities."

'This issue arose repeatedly in my consultations on the migration programme. Those who oppose or try to dismiss the ideas are ignoring the wishes of the community and will undermine public confidence in the migration programme."

"The misinformed debate on these measures is disappointing. The 1200 places identified specifically for migration away from major population centres, account for less than two percent of the overall Programme. Any further developments will be of the same order of magnitude."

"Legal opinion based on proposals for a free trade and immigration zone in the Northern Territory, does not provide valid comparision with any of the Government initiatives."

CANBERRA 12 July 1996

MEDIA CONTACT Steve Ingram (06) 277 7860