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Tuesday, 18 September 1973
Page: 1128

Mr KEOGH (BOWMAN, QUEENSLAND) - Has the attention of the Minister for Immigration been drawn to the statement made at the annual meeting of the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd on 1,1 September by the company's chairman, Sir Ian McLennan in which he said that the Federal Government had decided to allow BHP to resume its overseas recruiting campaign? I refer the Minister to a statement which he made on 22 May in which he said that the needs that had been put forward by such companies as BHP had been referred for consideration as part of the recommendations being formulated by the Immigration Planning Council on the level of intake for next year. I refer also to the following statement which the Minister made on 12 August: _ It is important to realise that the nation's migration program is not just a means of adding to the work force.

In that statement he also said:

Migrants are not available to be ordered around like shock troops to man the front lines of industry.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! I ask the honourable gentleman to ask his question.

Mr KEOGH - I am coming to the question, Sir. Will the Minister outline any specific arrangements entered into by BHP prior to the Government agreeing to the company's migrant recruiting program? Will he also indicate whether any other Australian companies have similar arrangements with the Australian Government?

Mr GRASSBY (RIVERINA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Immigration) - Mr Speaker, it is true that we suspended for some months what were known as employer nominations because we wanted to review the precise conditions under which people would be invited to come to Australia to work for specific firms. In recent months a number of firms have come forward with specific requests for numbers of workers in their industries. At the Immigration Planning Council I took the view that it would be desirable for these major corporations to put together their views, to indicate the sort of people that they wanted, where they thought these people would be available, where they thought these people should come from or should be available and the sorts of conditions that they were offering not only in terms of wages but also in terms of their accommodation. I am still awaiting from the Immigration Planning Council the details of the general picture from the spread of corporations.

In the meantime, in close consultation with my colleague the Minister for Labour, we had a specific look at the proposal put forward by the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd. It has done two or three things which qualify it for the exploration of this kind of facility. The first thing that it has agreed to ensure is that there is accommodation available and that people are not just brought in or invited in on speculation. More than that, the company has also indicated that it will continue to stress workshop classes in English and citizenship, which I regard as being of paramount importance if we do not intend to tie migrant workers to their benches in an inexcusable and unacceptable way. So it has met criteria of this sort. Because it did so and because it was willing to co-operate - in fact, it enthusiastically offered to co-operate in this way - the facility has been extended. Whether the company will be successful in this form of attraction remains to be seen. But certainly my department will give them all the help and assistance that it can, bearing in mind that the basic criteria that we want to see adopted by all corporations have been met in this instance by BHP.

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