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Tuesday, 26 February 1985
Page: 181

Mr BEDDALL —My question is directed to the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. Have there been requests from the Queensland and New South Wales governments for the immigration entry of power workers and doctors respectively? If so, has there been any difference in the response to each of these governments by the Commonwealth Government?

Mr HURFORD —I can tell the honourable member for Rankin that there has been an approach from Queensland; but, so far as I am aware, there has been no approach from New South Wales. I am aware that the Premier of New South Wales suggested, after certain processes had been followed, that he may make such an inquiry; but I repeat that, so far as I am aware, no such approach has been made. I can assure the House that if and when that approach is made, it will be treated in exactly the same way as the approach from the Premier and the Government of Queensland.

The guidelines are long-standing and the House is entitled to know what they are. Any government can make a group nomination for a class of workers that it wants under what is known as the employer nomination scheme. Once that group nomination is made, there are certain labour market tests that need to be carried out. Those tests are carried out for me-the buck eventually stops with me-by the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations and cover such matters as, firstly, whether people are available in the particular skills that are required; secondly, whether those skills that are alleged to be needed are proper for the particular jobs; and thirdly, whether there are industrial relations implications in the particular nominations. Some spokesman for the Opposition has suggested that we were promising some fast track for one particular inquiry and a slow track for another. There is no substance whatsoever to such a charge. These tests take time but we can get them covered in three to six months, not the two to three years suggested by that Opposition spokesman.

I return to the approach from Queensland. It was in two forms. There was a telex from the Premier to the Prime Minister and there was also an unofficial approach on the part of officials of the Queensland Government to officials of my Department in my regional office in Brisbane. In both cases insufficient information was given initially for us to be able to go through those labour market tests. That information was sought and we then learnt the nature of the particular inquiry in terms which were necessary for us to carry out the tests. Once that information had been received from Queensland, we learnt that Queensland workers were and are available for the particular jobs for which workers were being sought. There were and are plenty of workers in Queensland who are willing to work under the terms laid down by the Industrial Commission in Queensland. I cannot say anything about New South Wales because we have not yet had such an inquiry from that State. In conclusion, I can tell the House that for the next 10, 15 or more years the Australian Labor Party will govern this country, and it shall administer the guidelines for this test, as for other immigration tests, without fear and without favour.