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Wednesday, 27 February 1952

Mr TRELOAR (GWYDIR, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Has the Minister for Immigration seen a pamphlet entitled Operation British Commonwealth, issued by the Migration Council in London, in which it is proposed that great blocks of population from Britain, together with suitable industries, be shifted to various parts of the British Commonwealth? In view of the housing difficulties that will a rise if this plan is put into operation, will the Government permit the immigrants to live in tents, if they are willing to do so, while they build their own accommodation ? By way of explanation I remind the Minister that about two and a half years ago the immigration committee at Gunnedah had made arrangements with the Cobbers Club at Birmingham to bring to Australia a number of tradesmen who were willing to live in tents and erect their own accommodation. The arrangement was cancelled because th.i New South Wales authorities and the Department of Immigration objected to British immigrants being accommodated in tents. What is the attitude of the department to proposals of that kind now?

Mr HOLT - I have seen the publication Operation British Commonwealth, which has been produced by a representative group of citizens in England who have formed themselves into what is known as the Migration Council. I am very favorably impressed with the objectives of this body, which is seeking to encourage migration from the United Kingdom to the European-settled parts of the British Commonwealth. It also favours the inclusion of Europeans in its schemes where such migrants would be suitable. It is seeking to make the movement of migrants from the United Kingdom a policy issue of the highest priority in that country. The Department of Immigration does not favour the use of tent accommodation for immigrants at Gunnedah or elsewhere. Recent experience has shown that some British immigrants are by no means completely satisfied with the accommodation that is provided for them in standard hostels, which are immeasurably superior to tents. The department considers that tents would be unsuitable for the housing of young families from the United Kingdom. The question of providing immigrant labour in rural areas has been exercising the minds of members of the Government and officials of my department. The provision of a hostel at Gunnedah is already contemplated, and that plan will be carried out if future circumstances make it practicable.

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