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
Wednesday, 3 April 1957

Mr Ward d asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

1.   Does the great proportion of Australia's overseas financial reserves consist of sterling holdings?

2.   Are the United Kingdom financial reserves held almost exclusively in the form of gold and dollars?

3.   If so, and in the event of the devaluation of sterling would Australia's financial reserves decline in value whilst those of the United Kingdom would increase in value?

4.   Is it dangerous, from the Australian viewpoint, to hold such a high proportion of our overseas reserves in the form of sterling; and would it be far preferable to have a greater dispersal of our reserves?

Sir Arthur Fadden - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: -

1.   Yes.

2.   Yes.

3.   The sterling value of Australia's reserves held in London would remain unchanged, while the value of Australia's and the United Kingdom's reserves of gold and dollars, expressed in sterling, would increase in value.

4.   Our international reserves are held mainly in terling because the greater part of our trade and other transactions overseas are financed in sterling as an international currency. During the term of office of the present Government, however, ubstantial additions have been made to Australia's holdings of gold. When, moreover, gold from Australia's production has been sold for dollars on premium markets the proceeds of such sales have either been added to Australia's dollar holdings or else used for the repayment of dollar debt - as, for example, the repayment to the International Monetary Fund of the 20.000.000 dollars drawn from the fund by the previous Government and the 30,000.000 dollars drawn by the present Government.It may be recalled thatfrom July, 1947, until March, 1951, the full amount of Australian gold production, other thanwhich used domestically, was sold to the United Kingdom for sterling. This was done under anarrangement between the United Kingdom and Australian Go┬╗ernments of the day in August,1917

Mental Illness in Immigrants.

Mr Ward d asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -

1.   How many people borne outside Australia have been committed to mental hospitals or asylums in each of the last ten years, showing the figures for each State separately?

2.   How many are still inmates of these institutions receiving treatment, showing the figures for each State separately?

3.   In how many cases was there any evidence of mental illness prior to the patient's arrival in Australia?

Mr Townley - The answer to the honorable member's questions is as follows: -

The State authorities concerned are primarily responsible for maintaining records of the incidence of mental illness in the Australian community, whether native-born or of migrant origin. The Commonwealth authorities have an interest in the question however, not only from the viewpoint of national health but also, in the case of migrants, from the aspect of the requirements of the Immigration Act. There is, therefore, a working arrangement whereby the Commonwealth Department of Health receives certain statistics from the States relating to admission of migrants to mental hospitals. These returns, however, are not properly comparable since there are significant variations in the method of recording in the various States. For example, some States - (a) do not distinguish between persons "admitted" and persons " committed "; (b) provide figures only for persons admitted within five years of their arrival in Australia; (c) do not take transfers into account, and therefore the figures returned often include double counting. Because of the lack of uniformity between the States, in the method of recording these statistics, they would not provide a suitable basis for use in answer to the questions posed by the honorable member. My department, however, is at present cooperating with the Commonwealth Department of Health with a view to obtaining a more reliable basis for recording the incidence of mental illness in the migrant population. Late last year Sir Harry Wunderly, the distinguished Australian authority on tuberculosis, visited Europe to survey the procedures and methods used for the medical screening of British and foreign assisted migrants before their departure for Australia. He paid particular attention to the screening to detect tuberculosis and mental disabilities. In his report, which was recently presented to the Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Council, Sir Harry Wunderlv stated -

The conclusion to be drawn from this overseas survey is that the selection of prospective migrants by Australian medical officers is satisfactory and, as the result of increased experience, is of an appreciably higher standard than in 1950. The present methods and prnce lures provide an adequate degree of protection against the embarkation for Australia of medically undesirable migrants fromthose countries where they are examined bvAustralian medical officers. This medical screening compares very favorably with that of the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Sweden, which have the same problems as we have.

The more reliable figures available from State sources indicate that migrants compare favorably with the Australian-born population in regard to the incidence of mental illness. In particular, the NewSouth Wales State authorities on the 30th July, 1 954, stated, inter alia, in furnishing information to my department -

These figures (for admissions) would indicate that the existence of mental diseases amongst immigrants is appreciably lower than its existence amongst the natural-born population.

Suggest corrections