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Thursday, 23 September 1999
Page: 10490

Mr Pyne asked the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, upon notice, on 24 August 1999

(1) Was the Chifley Government involved in bringing suspected war criminals and Nazi party members to Australia as part of the Employment of Scientific and Technical Enemy Aliens scheme (ESTEA) between 1946 and 1951.

(2) Were the backgrounds of prospective scientists covered up and were the objections of the Commonwealth Investigation Service and normal security clearances ignored.

(3) Did the former deputy head of the Attorney-General's Department, Mr Andrew Menzies, give the ESTEA a clean bill of health in his 1986 government report; if so, is the Minister able to say whether Mr Menzies was misled and that his 1986 assertions that proper procedures were followed is incorrect.

(4) Will the Government reopen the Special Investigations Unit and launch a full investigation into these allegations.

Mr Ruddock (Immigration and Multicultural Affairs; Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Reconciliation) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) The Chifley Government facilitated the entry to Australia of many displaced persons to Australia, including from Germany, following World War II. Some of these people entered Australia as part of the Employment of Scientific and Technical Enemy Aliens scheme (ESTEA) between 1946 and 1951.

(2) As indicated in the Menzies Review, "these people were subjected to a preliminary screening in Germany and were engaged only where a favourable security report was given. Further, they were on probation for nine months after their arrival in Australia. After this time, provided that there was no security objection, approval could be given for the admission of their wives and families. All documents examined by the Review indicated that normal security clearances were obtained and that the scientists were rejected if they were considered unacceptable due to their association with the Nazi Party".

(3) Responsibility for the Menzies "Review of material relating to the entry of suspected war criminals into Australia" rests with the Attorney-General's Department.

(4) The Special Investigations Unit was set up by the Attorney-General's Department to investigate allegations of war crimes and questions related to the Special Investigations Unit are a matter for the Attorney General.