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Friday, 9 September 1949

Mr BEALE (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I direct a question to the Minister for Immigration. I have been in formed by some displaced persons and others associated with them that there is a great deal of discontent amongst displaced persons who are working under the terms of the contracts under which they entered Australia about what they regard as the breach of a promise that was made to them before they came to this country. They say that they were promised that, if they came to Australia, they would be permitted to live with their wives here. Will the Minister have inquiries made in order to find out whether or not such a promise was made to them in Europe? If it was made, will he make

Mire that a similar promise is not made to other persons about to come here from Europe? Will he also take steps to ameliora te the position of those who are here, so that, as far as possible, they may be able to live with their womenfolk while they are working here under contract ?

Mr CALWELL - Promises were made to persons who were invited to volunteer to come to Australia under the condition," that we laid down that, at the earliest possible moment, we would enable families to be re-united so that the bread-winners would be able to maintain them in the localities in which they were working. Promises were made that we would give every other assistance within our power to make these people happy in their new surroundings. Because of the housing shortage which affects the Australian public - the honorable gentleman is probably not aware of it - it is not possible to enable every displaced person sent to a particular town to rent a house in that town.

Mr Beale - Were they the only promises that were made?

Mr CALWELL - No. I have told the honorable member that we promised that we would do our very best to re-unite families as soon as possible. There may be some discontent amongst some of those people because they cannot all live in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Hobart or wherever they may want to live and cannot do just precisely what they want to do. However, it must be borne in mind that many Australians who follow seasonal occupations have to go away from their homes at various periods of the year. The new Australians, of course, come from very crowded districts in Europe and they are not accustomed to conditions that obtain in Australia. There may be some discontent amongst some of them. One finds unreasonable people everywhere. There are even unreasonable people in the Liberal party.

Mr McDonald - A very small minority.

Mr CALWELL - I know that the honorable member has to put up with a lot as the party Whip. We do our very best to satisfy all the people who come here. We operate upon the good principle, for both old Australians and new Australians, of doing the greatest good for the greatest possible number and I think that generally we have achieved good results.

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