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Tuesday, 16 September 1958


Mr ANDERSON - I was about to say that this bill relates to immigration, deportation and emigration. It was introduced by the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) during the last sessional period. I was quite impressed by the speech of the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey), who dealt with the history of migration to Australia. He covered the ground so comprehensively that I have also read his speech. He paid a tribute to the secretary and other officials of the Department of Immigration. It is not often in this House that we hear compliments paid to permanent officials of departments, but I think that this department is one which deserves commendation. The Department of Immigration deals with human values. It is very significant that the Ministers who have been in charge of this portfolio since the Labour government went out of office - the honorable member for Higgins (Mr. Harold Holt) and the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Townley), and the present Minister - have all shown a keen interest in an organization which deals with human values and the human welfare.

The ordinary resident of Australia, in his humdrum life, does not realize what immigration entails. But to the migrant it is all-important. It is a romantic period in his life. He breaks with his old associations; he makes a fateful decision to come here to a new country, a new life, a new world and a new language. The whole history of migration to Australia since the war has shown a careful planning and smoothness of achievement, and this is very commendable. Some recent visitors to Australia, who are engaged in administering immigration laws in other countries, have been most impressed with the Australian system. Great credit is due to the department, but equally great credit must be given to the migrants themselves. It is not easy for a newcomer to fit himself into a foreign nation. Nothing is perfect in life, and naturally there are some failures. Some migrants fail to become' assimilated and make good in this country, but they- are a negligible proportion-of the grand total.

Great credit is due also, to the officers who ideal with the selection of migrants in overseas countries. These selections have been well made. It is not only necessary to choose skilled men and useful people but also to find migrants of a mind to come to a new. country and- help , build' a nation. The assimilation of migrants is Australia has been going on- very satisfactorily, and. Ithink that a great deal of the credit for this can be- attributed to the naturalization ceremonies which take place in the capital cities and in country towns. I believe that alii members of the Parliament, including members, of the Senate, should make every effort to> attend these ceremonies. I do so in my electorate, but I am sorry to note that many Labour senators do not attend. I. think that is,, wrong. Senators of the Opposition panties should.be detailed to go to the country, and be present at. these ceremonies.

I 'Was pleased that the second-reading speech of the ' Minister forecast an amendment to the Nationality and Citizenship Act. The : Minister ' brought down that bill on 2'6th August' last'. ft will glace naturalized Australians "on exactly the same footing as' the natural-born citizen. That is a very good measure, because there has been quite a lot' of heart-burning over the thought that otherwise a migrant may be considered to be a second-class- Australian. The amendment will change that. Probably, that measure will be passed this week.

I mentioned earlier that the success in screening migrants has been reflected in the success in assimilation and the results flowing from our migration programme generally. Members of the Opposition have made charges that migrants have been screened politically. That is complete rubbish,, as will be readily recognized whenone pays regard to the mechanics of such a procedure-. Before, officials, overseas could screen, politically, families or individuals for migration, the Government would have' to- instruct those officials- that -they must choose people who are not socialists' orsome thing similar. Can- any one: imagine* any: sensible* government' placing: its honour in the hands; of hundreds of officials* who: themselves- might be of any political' 'faith?;

It- is- absolute nonsense to suggest' that migrants' are' screened so that' only those' who think the same politically' as the Gb.vernment are. allowed to come to Australia.

I do not propose to traverse all the changes that this bill .will bring about, but I should like to comment, on itshuman^tarian aspects.. :. The Minister, said- that , in this measure Australia would be given one of the- finest pieces of immigration legislation in the world. That is. very true. This bill will remove many ugly provisions that were in the old migration laws, some of which have caused consternation. I refer to- such provisions as the dictation test and arrest or search without warrant. These matters are dealt with adequately in this bill, I should like to stress, particularly, the special entry system which covers humanitarian needs very well. In some: cases; the father-- or mother of a1 migrant is ineligible for entry to this country. In such instances, the Minister will be empowered, at his discretion, to- grant a special entry permit.

From time to time, extraordinary propaganda is levelled against our migration policy. T refer particularly to statements that' have 'been made by a Mr. Clapperton and which have appeared extensively in the press in my electorate. Senator Henty dealt very fully with this matter in reply to a question in the Senate. The British Australian Society issued a statement to the press which stated, in part -

This Society dissociates itself from the irresponsible, damaging, inflammatory and unjust statements issued by another association bearing a closely allied title, which claims that the "Bring Out a Briton" scheme is a sham. Such accusations do the greatest possible disservice to a scheme which this Society, is satisfied is genuine and which merits Australia-wide support;

A great deal of publicity has been given to Mr. Clapperton's statements in the Australian press, and it has done a great deal of harm to our migration programme. I do- not know what is the object behind it; but it is something sinister. At all timesthe department has been most open and willing in supplying information which any one, may require, and there is no- possible excuse- fon- any 'one being- under any misapprehension'as to "the policy! followed by' the Government.

This year provision is made in the Budget for an intake of' 1.15,000 .people. It .is extraordinary to me -that people do not realize that this Budget proposal is of an inflationary character. When migrants are brought -here, until they become producers they have an inflationary effect on the economy. To bring a migrant here involves, first, 'the -cost of his passage or an assisted passage. But that is not the final cost. These people have to be provided for until they can obtain employment. So long as the .Government maintains a high inflow of migrants it is deliberately taking a calculated;risk -which, .at first, has , an inflationary effect. Migrants , also reduce the amount of, capital available for various forms of investment. I do not know exactly what it costs to place a worker in industry, but I think about £2;00.0. is required for plant and . equipment in order to employ one worker.

When one appreciates fully the important step that this ^Government has taken in deciding "to continue to bring out to this country 115;000 migrants a year, one realizes that .the Government is prepared to take a risk because this is' the time for us to get our migrants. If we are to hold Australia and build a great nation, we cannot rely entirely on our natural increase. We must bring more and more people to Australia.


Mr Cope - Where do we find homes for them?


Mr ANDERSON - It always seems strange to me when people express such a lack of confidence in our country. The migrants who have come out here have made a tremendous contribution to industry and to home-building. The honorable member asks where we will find homes. A time will ' come when we will have caught 6* with the backlag of homes that are required. How will we then employ the tens of thousands of persons who are now engaged in the building industry? We must look to the future with confidence. We cannot build a great nation by sitting back arid worrying about this or that possibility. Having confidence in our ' country, and having seen how about 1,500,000 immigrants have been assimilated since the war, why should we fear the future?

On the subject of assimiliation, I believe that the balanced, quota policy is a wise one.

W:e- are .getting, a proportion of northern Europeans, who. may be assimilated very easily.-; In Europe there are three different types, the Nordics, the Mediterraneans and the .-Alpines. I think we should concentrate on the northern Europeans because I believe they can be assimilated more easily than southern Europeans. In America one finds great numbers of persons with German or -Scandinavian names who are true Americans, but in that country one frequently find a " Little Italy " or a selfcontained community consisting of nationals of some other European country, the members of which have not become assimilated. This does not mean, however, that we should not bring out a certain number of southern Europeans. The northern Italians, for instance, can be assimilated very easily. I have & great respect for the northern Italians; I believe they ate very attractive people, highly skilled and with a fine cultural: history.

Australia is- succeeding 'in building up a fine, balanced population. ' Courage is "required in continuing 'an extensive immigration programme. I believe that those who are -planning how to build Australia into a great nation within 'our 1 lifetime will 'be proud of'the fact that during our parliamentary careers we had much to do with making Australia a great nation. I commend the 'Minister on ^bringing down this bill and' on the splendid manner hi which he ha's' eliminated some df the less satisfactory features' df ' the old' immigration legislation.

Mr. (BRUCE(Leichhardt) [5.5]. - I wish to.: congratulate -the Minister for Immigration (Mr.. Downer) on his practical and common-sense administration of -.the department of which he has control. There appears to be a current misconception that the< immigration policy now being pursued is something -novel. - -I should like to refer, however, to some earlier immigrants to this country . who- exercised a tremendous influencein building :up a fine race of Australians, -who did much to develop this country, who played a notable part in World War I., and 'whose descendants played an /equally- notable part in World War II.

I was brought up in a community the members of which included immigrants of English, Irish, Scotch and . Welsh stock.

These people had great foresight, because each of their houses had its own orchard. We lived in a mining village which consisted mainly of one long street. For some time the members of the four sections of the community kept to themselves, but as time went on they intermarried. At that time the average family had about eight children. The younger members of the various sections grew up, intermarried, carried on normal family lives and left their children behind them. They helped to build the real foundations of Australia.

These were thrifty people. They were also very charitable. No family in trouble was refused assistance by the others. They helped each other in every possible way, and their children were brought up to be honest, thrifty and straightforward. They enjoyed very few of the amenities that people to-day take for granted. All the youngsters attended the church picnics. They also had their dances. The young people could be seen walking out together, as the custom was called in those days, and in due time they would marry and raise families. In this way some of the foundations of our nation were laid by a group of immigrants who are now practically forgotten. The young people did not hesitate to join up when World War I. came along, and, I am sorry to say, great numbers of them never came back. The descendants of those early immigrants played an important role in World War II.

We should never look at the subject of immigration from a narrow point of view. Building a population is like breeding thoroughbred horses. We must have an infusion of new blood from time to time. I believe the Minister has realized this fact, as I shall demonstrate later. The early immigrants to whom I have referred can, I think, best be described in the way in which Thomas Gray referred, in his " Elegy ", to the village people buried in the country churchyard. They lived their lives, reared their children and passed on in the normal way. They left their mark. They left people behind them whose character was high and whose quality was sterling.

After World War I. we had quite a number of Italian immigrants. They were a very fine class of people. They either brought their wives with them or arranged a proxy marriage and brought their wives out subsequently. They had their children. The children went to the various State schools and convents and were brought up with Australian children so that the two races came to understand one another. Later on, they inter-married and did a very fine thing in building up Australia. We have had a very large infusion of Latin blood, and I think it is necessary to have Nordic blood.

When I spoke on this question on a previous occasion, the present Minister for Immigration was good enough to put me in touch with the secretary to the Department of Immigration, Mr. Heyes. He is an excellent man. He went into the whole question and asked me for my opinion on it. I said that we should be able to get people from Finland, from Germany, and from the Nordic countries. At that time, it was generally said that we could not get people from Germany because there was plenty of employment in Germany. I also mentioned people from Britain. I was at an immigration conference at which a professor got up and proved, apparently to his own satisfaction, that not one British person was available for immigration. In our general conference, later on, four other gentlemen who had recently been in Great Britain said that thousands of British people wanted to come to Australia and would 'do so if they had an opportunity. I discussed that question with Mr. Heyes.

Quite recently, I was very pleased to see approximately 1,000 German people come to Australia. Whatever may have been our past differences with Germany, once Germans have immigrated to Australia they have become some of our finest settlers. I am very pleased to see that the whole question has been loosened up so far as British immigrants are concerned and that we are getting a very large influx of them, although the professor said that they were not available.

A group of Danish people and a group of Finns are also coming out. Finland is a small country. When I was Minister for Public Works in Queensland, I was in control of 'main roads for a long period during which many Finnish immigrants were working on the main roads; they were the finest workmen to be found anywhere. They were readily assimilated into the Australian population by inter-marriage with the Australian people. Later, some of them formed companies. I let many contracts to those Finnish companies, and they always carried out their work satisfactorily, lt is regrettable that the Finns are such a small race. It will be remembered that they put up quite a fight, in their own way, against Russia, despite the relative smallness of their country. The Finnish people are excellent immigrants.

Apparently, the Minister for Immigration took notice of the opinions that I expressed to Mr. Heyes, because he sent him overseas and, as a result, Mr. Heyes has introduced immigrants from the Nordic countries to Australia. I think that that will be very much to the benefit of Australia. In dealing with the question of immigration, I am a bit parochial in that I think that Australians should first be supplied with houses. But we also have an obligation to supply housing and reasonable comforts for immigrants who have decided to make Australia their homeland.

I have found the early Italians to be very fine people. From my early experience in the north, I found that the Italian people did not carry knives, but the Sicilians did, and they knew no Australian law. The Italians got a very bad name because of the attitude and outlook of the Sicilian people. I remember an occasion on which I was driving with others along a main road, not in a motor car, but on a buckboard with a couple of horses. We came across a five-wire barbed fence across the main road, with solid posts. There was a dwelling nearby, and we went in and found living there Sicilian people who said that they had erected the fence because the chap next door to them had pulled up their tramline to the cane-fields. I told them that if they did not shift the fence that afternoon the police would come out and attend to them.

Then I went on to see the gentlemen who had shifted the tramline. They were young men, and they were very nasty and threatening. Of course, I was a good deal younger then and their threats did not worry me very much. I told them that if they did not restore the tramline I would have to get the police out to them. They were people who knew no law except their own. Had any motor cars been driven along that road in the evening the occupants would probably have been killed because those Sicilians had decided the matter in their own way and erected a fence across the road. The Sicilians are a small group of people who have been brought up in a certain way. Anybody who has studied the history of Sicily knows that these people have had no law but that of the tooth and the knife. They have adopted the policy: " An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth ". But now that a stream of Nordic people has started coming to this country, I believe that the immigration position will rapidly become very satisfactory.

I think that the manner in which the present Minister for Immigration has handled his portfolio has very much improved the immigration position. Previously, it seemed to be the Government's policy to drop thousands of people on our coast, irrespective of their suitability, character, or anything else. Italian friends of mine who are engaged in the sugar industry have told me that they have sought migrants from rural areas in Italy, but they have not been able to get any. They naturally sought migrants from rural areas because they thought they would best fit into the sugar industry. A young Italian who came out to Australia on his own to settle here told me that workers in hotels and cafes in the bigger towns in Italy can readily get nomination. We are not getting a good, average cross-section of people among our Italian migrants. The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson), who preceded me, seemed to be worried about the political situation in Italy. Anybody who noted the voting returns at the last Italian election will have noticed that 33 per cent, of the electors voted Communist. We are bound to get a mixed crowd of Italian migrants. Probably we shall get some Communists, and probably we shall get some anti-Communists. That is by the way, but I thought it worthy of mention in view of the remarks made by the honorable member for Hume.

Immigration is a very serious matter indeed for Australia. We must increase our population. In this connexion, I should like to mention an aspect of the problem on which I touched in several questions that I have asked recently - the effect upon the population of the ' number ' of deaths in industrial and. motor . accidents. These accidents cause.. the deaths of many thousands of people each year,, and greatly hamper the work of building up our population.. .

We in.. Australia, should, always try to maintain the British way. of life and the British outlook. . People who come here from other countries to make Australia their home - as many thousands are anxious to do- should adopt our way of life. I should hate to- see the day when> the major part pf Australia's people was- not derived from British stock - the stock that originally- developed this' country. We have developed this country in accordance- with the English way of life. The English, the Welsh, the Scots and the Irish brought their own traditions here and, as I have said, remained somewhat isolated from one another for. a time, but. ultimately, mixed with the rest of'the population. They gave us a very rich heritage in the British outlook. I know that immigration, is necessary to us, but we should adopt wise methods of introducing new strains into the population, and should see that the great traditions of the British people remain paramount at all times.

I suppose that World War I. was one of the greatest tragedies that this country has eyer suffered. In that war, we lost thousands of our own young men. killed, and many- others were maimed. That war was responsible also for the killing and maiming of many thousands of young men of British stock who- would probably have come to this country. Had it not been for World War I.., Australia would perhaps have had by now a population of no fewer than 20,000,000. people, 98 per. cent, of them of British descent. Before the first world war, young . Englishmen were coming to Australia, where jobs- were waiting for them, and this country was developing rapidly. The war denied- us many thousands of young Englishmen of marriageable age. Many- of them would doubtless have brought their parents or other members of their families with, them,- and the. natural increase of. the population represented, by the children of such migrants would have helped greatly to increase our population to the! 20,000,000 mark.

As I- have said* World War I. was an enormous tragedy' for Australia; I Had always- looked forward - to the possibility of a great. Australia which one day. would be the. centre of- the British Empire - a country with an' abundance of land and plenty of freedom, offering opportunities for an outdoor life, and knowing no such thing as poverty. What finer country could there be as the centre of the British Commonwealth? England built- her greatness on her maritime power. If we are to believe the atomic weapons experts, the Mother Country is now a sitting shot for- an attacker armed with atomic weapons. Australia, as the centre of the British Commonwealth, would be free from such danger and would have her- own greatness increased. We have all the natural assets to make us a great nation. We; need only the population of British- stock that we would have had if World War. I. had. not occurred. The. influx of- British- people that we should' have had but for that war would have made-' us the equal of any nation in the world. L deeply regret that .the . first -world war prevented us from gaining those people.' It does not look now, Mr. Deputy Speaker, as if the- things that I looked forward to will ever come about.

Finally,-. I should like to- say that the present. Minister for Immigration, is doing the right thing- in his administration of the immigration programme.. . I. congratulate him on his work and. J hope that: he will hold, his present portfolio- for,.- many year,s to come.







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