Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 11 May 1965


Senator CAVANAGH (South Australia) . - Mr. President, I want to take advantage of this opportunity to discuss some questions in relation to immigration. Some of them might have been relevant to the discussion on the Aliens Bill which was before the Senate this afternoon, but they would only have bordered on relevancy. However, there are other matters concerning immigration which I think the Senate should discuss. These matters relate to the administration by the Department of Immigration of this particular Act. I have brought some of these matters up before. The Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson), representing the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman), said on 28th April 1965 in answer to a question asked by Senator Buttfield -

I agree that far too often statements are made about Australia's migration policy that are not accurate and that tend to give a false impression.

The Minister concluded his answer by saying -

We have nothing to be ashamed of in relation to our immigration policy. It is desirable that everybody throughout the world should know precisely what is being done in this country in this connection.

If it is any assistance in letting people throughout the world know what is being done in Australia, I want to mention a few things that are being done in this connection because I think it is. fitting that the country should know how the Government is handling the Department of Immigration.

Mr. President,you will remember that some time ago I brought up the case of Von Elm, a retired German, who applied for permission to migrate to Australia. There \V-S some misunderstanding as to whether he intended to migrate permanently or wished only to visit his children. Von Elm was a man who had reached retirement age. He has a son in South Australia with a grandchild whom he has not seen. He also has a daughter, who is a naturalised Australian, living in Tasmania with three grandchildren whom he has not seen. I assure the Minister that he wanted only a visitor's visa so that, as one of his last acts before he passes on, he may see his children from whom he has been separated for a long time and also see his grandchildren whom he has never seen. His application was refused. Apparently, the only reason for the refusal was that immediately after the war, while the Communist Party of West Germany was a legal organisation, Mr. Von Elm Senior was a member of it for two years until it became an illegal organisation. He has taken no part in politics since. Because he once belonged to an organisation whose members, the Government has decided, are not permitted to enter Australia, Mr. Von Elm has not been admitted. The human question of the purpose of his application - to visit relatives - goes by the board.

I bring up again the question of Mr. Sieve Pappas. I have mentioned this case before. I raise the matter again to show the extension of the matter that has taken place since I last raised it. Briefly, to remind the Senate of the facts of the case, I mention that Mr. Steve Pappas is a Greek migrant who was born on 14th September ] 899. This means that in September of this year he will be 66 years of age and will have reached the stage in life which we consider, under our social services policy, is a reasonable age for retirement. The Commonwealth pays some benefits to a per son who has served this country and who has worked up until he reaches the age of 65. Mr. Pappas is now over 65 years of age and is continuing to work, as he has no other source of income. He arrived in Australia on 11th May, 1927, so he has resided in Australia for 38 years. During the whole of that period, he has worked continuously and paid taxation to the Commonwealth and State Governments on a basis of a single man's earnings. He paid normal taxation for administration purposes and also contributed to the National Welfare Fund, which entitled him to some reimbursement by way of a pension when he reached the age of retirement.

He is not a man who has obtained the best jobs in the country. He is not a qualified man. When he arrived in Australia, he worked on a railway construction job at Darwin for 12 months. He then went to Queensland and picked cotton for 12 months. He returned to Darwin, and worked on a cattle station 64 miles from Katherine for three years. He came to Adelaide in 1931, worked for a brief period in Victoria, and was employed for four years at Berri on the River Murray. He has been in Adelaide since 1941. So, all in all,, he has played his part in the development of this country. During the last war, he volunteered for service in the Royal Australian Air Force in a Greek unit which I believe was being established. On physical grounds he was rejected for service in R.A.A.F. but, at all times, he was prepared to play his part in the development of Australia and in serving this country in its hours of danger and of need. In 1929, when he was in the Northern Territory he applied for naturalisation. He paid £3 17s. 6d. fees for naturalisation, which the Department claimed it never received. There was some mixup involving the constable to whom the fee was alleged to have been given, or the solicitor to whom the constable said he gave it. At all events, he never got his money back.

He filled in a form applying for naturalisation in 1932, although he paid no fee at that time. He applied for naturalisation as an Australian citizen again in' 1948; again in 1959 and again last year. His application was refused, but no reason was given for the refusal. Even on my representations the present Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) - different from his predecessor, who would at least give a member of Parliament inquiring on behalf of a constituent the reasons in confidence - would give no reasons at all. Of course, we recognise the right of the Department of Immigration to refuse either naturalisation or migration, whether it is on the score of health or character or for security reasons. But immediately a refusal of naturalisation is noted without reasons being given, anyone who acknowledges the rights of the Government in this direction immediately thinks there must be something very bad about the individual whose application has been refused. The average person does not know whether the refused applicant is diseased or is of bad character, or whether he is a threat to security.

I told the Minister that to my knowledge over a long period of years this man took an active part in the industrial movement in South Australia and while he was, at all times, peddling Communist literature he was an inoffensive type of individual who carried on peacefully without indulging in any agitation on the job. I told the Minister I thought this man had given good service to Australia and was definitely no threat to our security. You will remember, Mr. President, that I previously brought out the fact that the Minister, in answer to a question, informed me that membership of the Communist Party was not, of necessity, a bar to naturalisation although it was one of the things which would be taken into consideration. He said that the main question considered was whether the applicant would become a good Australian citizen. When a man like Steve Pappas has been in Australia for 38 years and we have taken taxes from him over that period why, if he does not qualify to become an Australian citizen, has he been permitted to remain in the country for that time? Why have we taken his taxation contributions from him with no intention of giving him the refund, in the form of a pension, to which naturalised Australians are entitled? When I approached the Minister I admitted that on all appearances this man had been a member of the Communist Party but not an active member, and I said that he had played an important role in the industrial movement in South Australia. I asked the Minister whether in reconsidering this application, he would look into this man's activities in the industrial movement in South Australia, and he assured me he would do so. When I finally got a rejection in writing from the Minister it simply stated -

I was in possession of all the facts of his case when I decided not to approve of the grant of naturalisation of Mr. Pappas in December last. The circumstances have not changed since then and I must reaffirm my earlier decision.

I submit to the Senate, as I submitted to the Minister, that although this man was selling Communist literature, before his application was refused there should have been a complete inquiry into the role he has played throughout his industrial life in South Australia. As the result of some of the publicity in my campaign to have this man granted naturalisation I have received correspondence from most places where Steve Pappas has worked, saying that he was a good worker and an inoffensive individual. Included in the correspondence that I sent to the Minister was a letter from Mr. S. J. Lawn, member for Adelaide in the South Australian House of Assembly. That letter reads -

I noticed your press statement a week or two ago wherein you complained that the Commonwealth Government would not permit Mr. Steve Pappas to become a naturalized Australian citizen. I meant to write to you shortly afterwards but have been away on the sick list.

However, I now des:re to advise you - for what it may be worth with the authorities concerned - that I have known Steve Pappas for a long time. I was Secretary of the Vehicle Builders Employees' Union from 1944 to 1950 before becoming the Member for Adelaide, and I was also Assistant Secretary of the Union from 1938 to 1944. Prior to this I was President of the Union. I don't know when I first knew Steve Pappas but he was working in our industry and attended our Union meetings. During this period I can honestly say that he never caused any trouble either at the Union meetings or in the factory. He was, as you stated, one of the quietest, most inoffensive persons I ever met.

Since relinquishing the position of Secretary of the Union I have met Steve on a number of occasions, either in the streets of Adelaide or at the Trades Hall, and I have no reason to change my previous opinion of him. From my knowledge of Steve Pappas I can say that I know of no reason whatsoever why he would not make a good Australian citizen.

If you can make any use of the above you are welcome to do so.

Despite all that, and despite the Minister's promise to inquire into the industrial record of Steve Pappas, the Minister has still refused to grant naturalisation and has given no reasons for this. I say that the

Minister was not honest when .he 'said he would make full inquiries, as he never inquired from those associated with the Adelaide industrial movement who would have known Pappas's record. He did not inquire from people like Senator Bishop, who was secretary of the Trades and Labour Council of South Australia for a number of years while Pappas was a member and a delegate to that Council. Since the publication of this matter I have received correspondence from the Greek Workers Club, the Australian Railways Union and the tramways union, as well as a petition signed by 128 employees of Adelaide Ship Construction Ltd., who worked with Pappas, supporting his claim for naturalisation and claiming that he is a good citizen. Pappas's only offence is that he has followed his own political inclinations, which he thought were right - whether they were right or not. We have taxed him for 38 years and now we will not give him the benefit of a pension, so that at the age of 66 years he will still have to struggle along in some employment as he has no other means of livelihood.

I now come to some correspondence from Mr. Christos Mourikis, who lives at 50 Bexley Road, Campsie, New South Wales. This correspondence again shows the Government's attitude towards migrants who come to this country. Mr. Mourikis's letter to the Minister for Immigration reads as follows -

I am a Greek migrant, residing in Australia since 1954 being employed as a waterside worker for the last 8 years. On three occasions I have applied for naturalisation and each time I was told that my application is " not one for approval ". Needless to say I was astonished by the fact that no further comments were offered as to the rejection of my application. Tt must be that the Immigration Department was and is in possession of some very important information which prompted it to withhold my naturalisation. And this is what I would like to know. The specific and detailed reasons. As far as I can see, during the time I have been residing in this country I have done nothing contrary to the laws of the land. I have been employed ever since the first day of my arrival, I have been paying my taxes, and have been engaged in promoting functions leading to the improvement of relations between migrants and Australians. Are these the reasons for which the Department has become reluctant in granting me naturalisation, or maybe the fact that I am a job delegate? It is impossible for me to imagine such a thins. Therefore I repeat my question: - Which are the true reasons?

Later in his letter he pertinently asked the Minister -

Are migrants allowed to take .part in the social, economic, political and other activities of the country?

Can they have and freely express their opinions without the fear of being labelled " security risks "?

Can they become members of the trade unions and participate in their activities?

Can they follow, support and become members cf any of the legal political parties of the country?

What is legal and permissible for old Australians, is it illegal and prohibited for new Australians? If so, why the declarations of assimilation by the Government?

Does the Government know that assimilation begins in the factories and work places where old and new Australians work side by side?

When the migrants do not feel free to participate in trade union and political activities, how can they regard Australia as a free country, how are they going to love her and consider her as their own?

I suggest, with respect, that those are pertinent questions which the Department should answer.

I bring up one further case which will show that, while this Government talks of freedom and liberty, there is freedom and liberty in this country provided that the freedom is the freedom to praise the Government. Any criticism of the Government demands the imposition of a penalty by the Department of Immigration, if it is possible for the Department to do so. I now refer to the case of Mr. J. D. K. Thomson who is a British migrant living in Lochinvar Street, Paradise, South Australia. He nominated his sister and her husband, Mr. and Mrs. McCormick, and their children, and a Mrs. Hazel Smith, for travel to Australia under the assisted passage scheme. The nominations were approved on 24th April 1964 - approval No. 16898. It then became known that Mr. Thomson had been elected as an official of the South Australian branch of the Australian Government Workers Association. I do not know of any Communist associated with that organisation and no allegation can be made that it is Communist controlled. Mr. Thomson became a shop steward at his place of employment, the Engineering and Water Supply Department in South Australia. When this became known the approval which had been granted for Mr. and Mrs. McCormick and Mrs.

Hazel Smith to come to Australia was withdrawn by the Department of Immigration.

This case has been taken up with the Department by the former Premier of South Australia, Sir Thomas Playford, by Mr. Dunston who is now the South Australian Attorney-General and by Senator Toohey, a senator from South Australia with whomI discussed this matter during the week. He agrees with me that he can go no further. The Department will give no reason for its action other than to say that these people do not now meet the requirements laid down by the Department of Immigration for approval to come to Australia. But on 24th April 1964 these people did meet those requirements. We are now trying to find out how, today, they fail to meet the Department's requirements in the hope that perhaps they will be able to overcome their deficiencies and shortcomings. But there has been complete silence on these questions on the part of the Department of Immigration. The only thing which has happened in the intervening 12 months is that Mr. Thomson, the person who nominated the potential immigrants, has obtained an executive position in a trade union and is acting as a shop delegate for it. Nothing else has happened to this family.

We ask the reason for the withdrawal of the approval. Can we interpret the Department's actions as indicating that anyone who has ever been a member of the Communist Party - I have in mind the Von Elm case - will never get into Australia? And if they do get into Australia and later join the Communist Party, is it a fact that they will never be granted naturalisation but will be kept here to work in and develop this country because we need migrants and will be required to pay their taxes and will receive nothing in return? Anyone who wants to bring a person into Australia must have a family record which is clean in the eyes of the Department, and those who seek to nominate a migrant must not participate in any trade union activities in Australia.

We ask again: Are the rights of old Australians not to be enjoyed by new Australians? Must new Australians be subjected to the penalties imposed by this Department?







Suggest corrections