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Thursday, 13 October 1949

Dr GAHA (Denison) .- I should like to make a few observations about my trip abroad, because I consider that they will be of interest to the Minister for External Territories (Mr. "Ward) in relation to the development of New Guinea. The Government is pursuing a very vigorous policy of migration, to which I pay a tribute. "While I was overseas, I had excellent opportunities to observe the degree to which we were applying ourselves to attract migrants to Australia, and I do not think that the effective work which various groups abroad are performing in selecting migrants can be improved. However, there are special groups of stateless families to whom we have not yet paid attention, and some of them may be secured for settlement in New Guinea, if the Australian Government decides to extend its migration policy to that territory. Most of the stateless families are agrarian people, who are fleeing from tyranny of one kind or another in Europe, and no effective policy has been evolved anywhere in the world to deal with them. If they are not rescued, they may constitute a fruitful field of propaganda for the Communists. At present, they are without hope, and are being pushed around from place to place.

The International Refugee Organization is doing a wonderful job; but I understand that there is what may he described as a hard core of people, who will not be reached before the activities of the organization terminate in June, 1950. Nobody seems to know what will become of them. Perhaps the Minister for External Territories will raise this matter with the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) with a view to obtaining some of those stateless families for settlement in New Guinea. A large number of them have been trained in agricultural pursuits, but others are professional men, such as doctors, dentists and engineers. The International Refugee Organization has a competent organization for checking their bona fides, and the Minister for Immigration may consider it worth while to approach the appropriate authority in Europe to secure some of those people as migrants. I direct the attention of the Minister to this matter now, because the International Refugee Organization is exhausting the classes of people who, it is considered, will be acceptable to Australia. "We are trying to take selected groups, but the numbers from which they are drawn are dwindling and it is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain migrants from them. "When the International Refugee Organization ceases to function at the end of June, 1950, stateless families, perhaps numbering 17,000,000 people, will be wandering around Europe. They are the nationals of various States which formerly were insecurely placed in Europe, and, in times of political stress, the people became fugitives. Many of them are in Germany and Austria. If the Government will raise this matter with the International Refugee Organization, Australia may be able to obtain valuable migrants to assist in the development of New Guinea, and to protect that important defence bastion in the South-West Pacific. Some of those people, if they were to settle in New Guinea, would not come into conflict with the economy of the southern parts of Australia, and might play a useful part as Australian citizens in the development of the territory.

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