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Wednesday, 10 April 1957

Mr WARD (East Sydney) .- The Government consistently denies charges by Opposition members that, in the screening of immigrants, its officers exercise care to ensure that, if they can help it, no one who is likely to support the Australian Labour party politically on arrival in this country receives a permit to come to Australia.

Mr Hulme - Who told the honorable member that?

Mr WARD - If the honorable member -will just remain quiet for a moment, I shall relate to him an instance in which this has occurred, and provide proof that this is the case.

A citizen of Malta wrote to me about the rejection of an application by himself and his sister to come to Australia. He was unable to ascertain why it had been rejected. Both had passed the medical tests; so that was not the reason. From their description, it would appear that these two people would be very good settlers in this country. The man is single, and is aged 36, and his sister is 38. Both have passed the required physical fitness test, and both have a good knowledge of the English language. They are unaware of any reason for the rejection of their application. I referred the matter to the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt), who was formerly Minister for Immigration, and asked him why these two people had been rejected. On 23rd October last, the right honorable gentleman wrote to me as follows: - as a report received from the Chief Migration Officer in Rome reveals that Mr. and Miss-

I do not want to mention the names at this stage - are unable to comply with the normal requirements for immigration to Australia, I regret that I am unable to see my way to vary the decision of non-approval previously given.

In what way were these people unable to satisfy the requirements? As I have already mentioned, they had passed the medical tests, and it is quite obvious that they were also up to the required educational standard. I subsequently wrote to the present Minister for Immigration (Mr. Townley) and asked whether he would tell me the reason why the application by these two people had been rejected. On 19th November of last year, the Minister replied as follows: -

I have given this matter .careful consideration in the light of your representations but regret that I am unable to see my way to vary the previous decision.

As the information held by my Department of Immigration is of a confidential nature I regret that I am unable to inform you of the basis for the rejection of the application.

If it had been rejected for health reasons, there could have been no objection to stating that these people could not comply with the health requirements; and if they were not up to the specified educational standard, there would be no objection to saying so. Therefore, it is quite evident that the application was rejected on the ground that they would not meet the security requirements of the Australian authorities. But here is the strange thing about lt* Probably the Minister's explanations would have satisfied a member of the Government, but I wrote to this gentleman in Malta, sending him the Minister's replies, and asked him whether he or his sister had belonged to any organization, political or otherwise, and, if so, whether he would advise me of the objectives of these organizations so that I could judge whether the decision was a proper one for the Government to make. I have just received a reply and will quote a paragraph from it for the information of honorable members -

Most respectfully I submit the following. I am an electrician by trade, employed at H.M. dockyard and have to my credit years of honest service.

If he were a security risk he would not be working in the naval dockyard at Malta. What, then, is the reason for rejecting him? Obviously, it is that he was so foolish as to let the Government know that he was supporting the Labour party in Malta. He further states -

I never took part in local or foreign politics. My only ambition was always, and still is, to unite my family and live in Australia. My sister is a member of a religious organization "The Legion of Mary ". The aim of this society is only to promote spiritual love and moral care of Catholics. It is absolutely a non-political association. This is exactly all I can say about us.

He can say no more than that he is an electrician in a naval dockyard, and that his sister is interested in a religious organization. There is not one atom of evidence to support the rejection of his application. Indeed, if there were any reason such as health or education, the Government could have openly stated it. These people have been rejected because they are known to be supporters of the Maltese Labour party. It is quite interesting to know that we are able, to produce evidence to confirm what our delegates said at the Brisbane Labour conference, and what members of the Labour party have said elsewhere.

In the few moments that remain, I wish to refer to another matter. Frequently, I have had to endure in this House personal abuse by educated gentlemen opposite. I well recall that on one occasion when I was asking some very pertinent questions about some witnesses who were appearing before a royal commission, I was accused by honorable members who support the Government of trying to smear witnesses, and so destroy their value as witnesses. One of those witnesses was Mr. Vladimir Petrov. Honorable members will recollect that I said on one occasion when I was attacked and abused by members of the Government that he was a worthless individual, and a drunkard. They said that I was only putting that up for the purposes of party propaganda; but I have the satisfaction now of knowing that, on the admission of the Prime Minister himself, at Surfer's Paradise on 27th November, 1956, Vladimir Petrov was arrested on a charge of drunkenness. He gave his name as John Olsen, failed to appear in court, and forfeited his bail.

Let me tell honorable members a little more about the circumstances of this incident. Not only was Vladimir Petrov arrested and charged with being drunk; not only did he forfeit his bail, but at the time of his arrest he was found wandering around the streets of Surfer's Paradise without his trousers and with his lip bleeding where somebody had struck him. That is the type of individual whom, it was said, I was smearing. I would like to ask the Ministers now at the table one or two questions about this matter. First, I understand that Vladimir Petrov, since his defection from the Russian legation, and since he was given political asylum in this country, has been provided with a security guard. Where was the security guard when Petrov was wandering around Surfer's Paradise? I might also ask whether it is not rather interesting that this happens to be one of the gentlemen whom the Australian people are charged with maintaining and keeping indefinitely. He is still on their pay-roll. They still provide him with a residence, and with security guards. Mrs. Petrov is provided with a clothing allowance, so- it is not a laughing matter for the Australian community.

I want to know whether the Government' actually paid the bail on behalf of Petrov because, if a security guard is looking after Petrov, why did he not see that Petrov appeared in court and answered the charge so that evidence could be preferred against him? The only thing that I regret is that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) is now on the way to pay a courtesy call upon his friend the Emperor of Japan, because if he were in his place I would ask hint for an apology for the -insults that he hurled at me when I mentioned matters of this kind previously. Let me tell the Government that before this incident is closed, and before we are finally silenced in this Parliament, we will tell it a great deal more. If ever there was a conspiracy in this country it was this particular incident, involving Vladimir Petrov. He was always a worthless individual. We have only to read the stories submitted to the press by his friend Bialoguski. He told us how they had had an Easter party, and how Mr. Petrov had come with an Egyptian fez on his head, and had been presented to some females who were present as a sheik travelling in Australia incognito.

Mr Pollard - Who has his trousers now?

Mr WARD - I am not able to answer the question of the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), but I will endeavour to ascertain the details at a later date. This is a most serious and important matter.

The Australian community, 1 repeat, is keeping this worthless individual and it is about time that the Government unloaded him.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! The honorable member-

Mr WARD - He cannot be unloaded because he has too much on the Government.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! The honorable member is entirely out of order in defying the Chair.

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