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Thursday, 27 April 1961

Mr DOWNER (ANGAS, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) (Minister for Immigration) - Some weeks ago, in reply to a question by my friend, the honorable member for Ryan, about the rate of growth of South African migration, I c:t".d certain figures which, I think, were illustrative of the increasing influx of South Africans into this country over the last three years. I tell the honorable member for Hind marsh, as I told the honorable member for Ryan, that for the calendar year 1960 Australia received 1,390 migrants from South Africa, as compared with 579 in the previous year and only 379 in 1958.

The honorable member's question as to the future raises a substantial matter of policy. I have made it plain from time to time that Australia will always give a very warm welcome to people from South Africa who desire to settle here. I refer particularly to those of British and European descent.

At the same time, I remind the honorable gentleman - as he probably is well aware - that already, and for quite a long period, Australia has been offering really quite generous migrant assistance to people from South Africa. The present rate amounts to something like half their fare. In saying that, Sir, I am using a very round figure.

If my honorable friend from Hindmarsh is suggesting that at this stage, with so many important matters affecting South Africa's relations with other Commonwealth countries still to be determined, we should go beyond that, I suggest to him that he should proceed very cautiously until the general future of South Africa, and her relations with other Commonwealth countries, and indeed the countries of the Western world, are more clearly determined. If, for example, Australia decided to denounce immediately the gentleman's agreement of non-poaching to which my honorable friend has referred, then we might well be faced with the situation that we would deliberately abstract into this country many of the people of the moderating forces which one hopes would care to remain in South Africa and, as a result of their own continued residence there, bring about - as all honorable members in this House, I hope, would want to see realized - a more moderate and more enlightened policy in that country.

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