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Friday, 9 September 1949

Mr CALWELL (MELBOURNE, VICTORIA) (Minister for Immigration) - Generally, Somers camp can be described as what we call a holding camp for women and children. It will take at least 700 persons and we hope to build up its capacity to 1,000.

Mr White - It could go to 1,500.

Mr CALWELL - Perhaps, as the honorable member for Balaclava suggests, it could go up to 1,500. The honorable member for Balaclava was commanding officer there in the Royal Australian Air Force in the days when the camp was a very large Air Force establishment. We want to employ some migrant male labour in that particular district, and we are examining the possibility of using the camp as a hostel for workers as well as for a holding camp for migrants' wives and dependants. The people who live in holding centres pay, on the average, 25s. a week whilst those occupying places in departmental hostels pay £2 12s. 6d. a week for board and lodgings. Generally, conditions at the hostels are much better than those at holding centres. Our original idea was to use Somers camp, which is within 40 miles of Melbourne, as a centre to which new Australians working in Melbourne could go at the week-end to see their wives and dependants.

Mr Ryan - Are all of those persons new Australians ?

Mr CALWELL - Yes, at present. I hope that when we get over the rush which we are now experiencing in handling these people, and which will possibly continue for a year or so, we shall be able to use the camp for the handling of British migrants who come to Australia.

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