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Tuesday, 5 July 1949
Page: 1940

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Mr CALWELL (Melbourne) (Minister for Information and Minister for Immigration) .- The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) has offered me his sympathy. I think that he had better save it for himself and the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes). They will need a lot of sympathy when they are explaining away their attitude before the electorate. I promise them my best endeavours to elucidate their position when they are endeavouring to explain it to the electorate. The Leader of the Opposition said that the political parties which he represents have been in power for 32 years, but I remind him that a long time has elapsed since they were last in power. Indeed, that time has been so long that they have nearly forgotten the taste of power. The Leader of the Opposition said that when they were in office they had power to administer this law with discretion. So they did. We have had the same power for eight years, and we have administered it with precisely the same discretion as they exercised. What he wants me to do now is something that they would never do when they were in power during those 32 years. No nonLabour administration would ever admit the right of an Australia to bring in an Asiatic-born wife or husband. None of them would permit it. In the course of my second-reading speech I cited instances of their refusal to do so. Sir William Glasgow, Sir George Pearce, the Hon. J. A. J. Hunter and several other members of non-Labour administrations who administered our immigration laws at various periods said to Japanese pearlers and others, " You cannot stay in Australia merely because you have married an aboriginal woman; you have to go ". That is all I am doing now. In this debate the Opposition has dishonestly failed to face up to the issue that the people whom I have refused permission^ to stay in this country are not those who were admitted to Australia in accordance with the provisions of the act as it was ordinarily understood, from 1901 to 1939. Our critics deliberately ignore the fact that the cases under discussion are those of war-time refugees and not of individuals who are ordinarily admitted to this country under our laws. Members of the Opposition do not criticize my administration in connexion with those who have entered this country under the ordinary operation of our laws, because they cannot find anything to criticize.. They criticize me in regard to those people, who came in as war-time refugees and. now remain in Australia. Those people arc a recalcitrant» «minority who have refused to go home. Approximately 6,000 Asiatic war-time refugees entered Australia during the war. Four thousand left Australia without causing difficulty; others were persuaded to go under threat of deportation, whilst others were actually deported. There remain a comparatively small number who like this country and are endeavouring to remain here. The right honorable gentleman said that there were a score or so of such cases and that they should be allowed to remain here. I remind 'him that when anti-Labour administrations were in office none of them ever permitted any such persons to remain. The Leader of the Opposition complained of my having refused to exercise a discretion to permit them to remain. I say that I have exercised that discretion neither more nor less than did the Opposition parties when they were in power. He has asked me to make exceptions in the case of those who came to this country during the war because they were refugees, but I have refused to do so. Because he speaks on behalf of the Opposition parties, I say that they are breaking down the "White Australia policy to the extent that they seek to establish such precedents that it would be impossible to maintain the White Australia policy in future and be consistent. More and more of these cases will arise. Every day in the week - and I am not speaking figuratively, but literally - people are coming to us and saying, " Why cannot Australianborn people bring in wives or fiancees from Asiatic countries ? " We have a large Australian population who are of Chinese ethnic origin. They have some tradition that they should bring their husbands or their wives from China to Australia. I refuse to allow them to do so. As Australians, they are entitled to no more rights and no less rights than any other Australian has, and they cannot be Australians on the one hand, and Chinese on the other. If I agree that refugees who were washed up on these shores during the war may remain here, how can I deny to Australians of Asiatic origin, to whom we have given all the rights and privileges of Australian citizenship, the right to bring in their wives and husbands from Asiatic countries? I refuse to make that alteration in the practice of my Labour and non-Labour predecessors, who have administered our immigration laws. Because I take that attitude, I am attacked by the Opposition and the press.

The Leader of the Opposition has said that he has attacked me on the case of Mrs. O'Keefe. That is true, but there are other people who attack me because I will not allow Gamboa to live in Australia. After I have twice refused him the right to reside here permanently, he dishonestly suggests that he should be allowed to enter as a visitor. Once he entered Australia, I should have to go through all the processes of the law to put him out, and the fifth column press of the country would write up the case, and publish photographs of the woman as she was putting her children to bed at night, thereby playing on the sentiment and tearing at the heartstrings of other women in order to depict me as a heartless creature. There was a time when a wife went with, her Husband to her husband's domicile. We have now reached a new order, apparently, in this age of sex equality, when a wife determines or has an equal right in determining where the husband shall reside. I am not letting Gamboa, into Australia. The Leader of the Opposition has not attacked me for that', but some of his followers have done so.. The Tower of Babel is not to be compared with the differing voices that are raised among members of the Liberal party and the Australian Country party on our immigration policy.

They make attacks on me on the ground that I am not using my discretionary power. I throw their charges in their teeth. I have not acted contrary to the established policy that my predecessors followed. None of them had a war-time refugee problem to handle, tt is a new and special problem, and it must be handled in a special way. In 1943, Cabinet decided that all the refugees should leave Australia by 1945. However, in 1945, Cabinet said, in effect, "Well, conditions are still disturbed in the world. We shall allow the refugees to remain until June, 1947 ". If I had got rid of them in 1945-

Mr Spender - - The Minister used his discretionary power.

Mr CALWELL - No. In that instance, the discretionary power was not invoked. There were physical difficulties in the way of returning the refugees to their native lands.

Mr Spender - I still say that the Minister invoked his discretionary power.

Mr CALWELL - Second-rate lawyers can twist words any way they like. In 1945, Cabinet decided that the war-time refugees had to leave this country by June, 1947. There had to come a limit some time. I gave some exemptions-

Mr Spender - Of course the Minister did. He exercised hia discretionary power.

Mr CALWELL - I gave some exemptions for various purposes after 1947, but all the time, I indicated to the persons concerned that a final date for their departure had to be fixed. The final date was fixed, not immediately the war ended but from three to three and a half years after they should have gone to their homes. But they dug in their toes, and said, " We will fight ". A newspaper raised subscriptions to help them to fight. For what reason? To enable them to remain longer? Not at all! The purpose was to enable them to remain here permanently. The honorable member for Warringah has a distinguished colleague, Mr. J. Cassidy, K.C., of Sydney, and his name appeared with that of Ah Fat iii the subscription list. The name of another Liberal, Dr. F. A. Maguire, appeared with that of Lee Jan Sing, and the jockey,. Darby Munro, was bracketed with Asiatics in the subscription list which had been opened for the purpose of defeating the whole policy, and enabling certain, refugees to remain permanently in Australia. A sum of £1,000 was raised by this anti-Australian newspaper for thepurpose of defeating the White Australia policy, and allowing those people to remain here permanently. They are not staying here permanently. I repeat that. A time had to be fixed, and if I had not been so considerate, I would have none of the problems and none of the headache*, that I have since acquired.

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