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Thursday, 22 November 1973
Page: 2031

Senator MULVIHILL (NEW SOUTH WALES) -I ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs whether he can assure the Senate that the Australian Government's policy in regard to political refugees from Chile is matching that of Canada in its ambit and humanitarian concepts. Further, does the Minister have any knowledge of any applications from such political refugees being rejected by the Australian representatives in Santiago?

Senator WILLESEE - Following an appeal by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for permanent resettlement opportunities for refugees from Chile, the Australian Government has responded that it was ready to accept applications without quota restrictions from those refugees who are genuinely interested in settling in Australia. Such applications will be sympathetically considered in terms of normal migration criteria, and passage assistance will be granted to those eligible for it. This opportunity to apply for migration to Australia is open both to those refugees who fall within the United Nations High Commissioner's mandate in Chile and to others who are sometimes referred to as refugees but who do not meet the definition of that mandate- for example, non-Chileans who wish to or have been asked to leave Chile, and Chileans who do not wish to remain under the present regime. The Australian Embassy in Santiago has been instructed to co-operate fully with the United Nations High Commissioner's representative there in arrangements for implementing this policy. Neither I nor my Department has received any reports of applicants encountering difficulties. The Australian Government has placed no obstacles in their path, having stipulated only that they fulfil the normal migration requirements. If the honourable senator has any details of obstacles encountered by prospective migrants I would be happy to have these cases investigated. I might say additionally to Senator Mulvihill that I have also asked our Embassy in Santiago to be especially alert to see that no undue obstacles are encountered by people who may wish to migrate to Australia.

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