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Wednesday, 18 September 1985
Page: 679

Senator McINTOSH —I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. Has the Minister's attention been drawn to an article in today's Australian newspaper headlined `Rush to hire disillusioned professionals' which mentions the influx of South African professionals into Australia? Can the Minister inform the Senate about the number of South African immigrants into Australia in recent months? Under which programs are these professionals receiving approval to come to Australia? Has the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations, relevant professional organisations or union bodies contacted the Minister or his Department to inform him of the availability of unemployed Australians who would have the qualifications and expertise to take up the advertised vacancies which the South African arrivals are supposed to fill?

Senator GRIMES —Yes, I did see the article in the Australian and other newspapers this morning. For some time we have been aware of an increase in the number of people from South Africa applying for permanent residency and immigration to Australia. We are also aware that the present difficulties in South Africa, which will obviously worsen if the attitude of the South African Government continues as it is, will result in more people applying to come to Australia. The Australian immigration offices, particularly in Pretoria and Capetown, have experienced a considerable increase in the number of inquiries in the last couple of months. In 1984-85 about 2,100 people were visaed in South Africa for permanent migration to Australia. This represented about 4 per cent of Australia's family reunion, skilled and business migrant intake for that year. The figures for that year, 1984-85, were only marginally higher than those for the previous year, 1983-84. No statistics on racial groupings of South African migrants are kept, but it is known that a significant number of migrants from South Africa are considered to be non-white under South Africa's stringent racial laws.

The Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs and the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations consult regularly professional organisations and the unions about the sorts of people who are able to come here. Under our skilled and business migration scheme, careful vetting is made of those people who wish to come to Australia in order to ensure that there are jobs for them and that they have something to contribute to this country. At this stage we have no plans to change procedures on migrant processing from South Africa but we keep our immigration policies with regard to South Africa, and the situation in South Africa, under close review. I will seek further information on the detailed sections of Senator McIntosh's question but I assure him that no changes are in the process of being made under the existing circumstances.