Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 16 September 1958


Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) .- Mr. Deputy;Speaker,' I ca'n begin by'' endorsing the concluding remarks' made by the honorable' member for Leichhardt (MK Bruce). It is quite, refreshing, to Opposition member's 'to find1 that we have, at long last', a Minister for Immigration who believes iri Labour's policy of giving' preference to people of British stock- in keeping Australia British. ' Th'e' Australian Labour party ' believes that Australia needs, more British migrants. The Minister' for Immigration. (Mr: Downer) is bringing out more British migrants than we have had for many years. I' am sure that his efforts will be maintained by the new" government that will take office' after the election, because this policy is strictly iri: accordance with the declarations that have. been made by the Labour party 'from* time to time1.: The Australian Labour* party' does- nor feel: that k has to- apologize to anybody 'for wanting to keep Australia British, , any more than, we would: expect the: Poles- tor apologize for wanting; to- keep Poland Polish, or Italians for. wanting; fo keep: Italy Italian. We- do not say- that, the; British are; a superior, race of people. We never do- say that. As: a Labour party, we pay great, tribute to- Australians'! of. non-British.- stock for. the great achievements! that, they have, been- able, to make in: this country. We are greatly indebted to- them: I mention that, to: emphasize once again that in. saying we want to keep our country British we are. not saying at- all that the British- are a' superior: race.

In fact,: the Australian Labour party will not tolerate any discrimination between new and old -Australians. Once a person is admitted to this country, we say that he is and must be regarded as an equal to everybody else who is already here. One. may ask: What does the Labour, party mean when it emphasizes" that it wants to keep Australia British? We mean- that we want to maintain the British tradition of freedom and equality under the law, which our forebears acquired' after a- long and very* very bitter struggle, an achievement which we are determined to maintain and not to allow to slip through our fingers.

It is- our duty to hand down to our children that great tradition which we have inherited from, our parents, and we can only do it by bringing into the country sufficient people who respect and cherish the British tradition of justice and equality within the law, or what is known as the British way of life. I- am sure that; upon reflection, immigrants of non-British stock themselves will agree that it is the maintenance of this very tradition that is their guarantee, and the guarantee of their children; that there will be no violent upheavals in this country, and that they and their children will be able to live and work in peace and freedom, so long as this country retains that British respect for the rule Of law.

The reason why not sufficient people of British stock are coming into this country is that the British people do not consider that the conditions here are adequate. The Labour party, therefore, will improve- the conditions of all immigrants* so as to make migration to Australia attractive, not only to- people, of non-British stock but- also to people df British stock-.- The Minister has- to make certain that he supplements the good-, start he has already made in regaining, the interest df British people in coming to Australia', by ensuring, adequate housing for: those, who- are already here and for those new settlers' whom he is attracting, to this country. Unfortunately, that is not his prerogative. 1 think that a government that: wants to deal with immigration as it ought to', be dealt with;, should clothe: the Minister for Immigration i with some control, or with- the: full: control, so far as.it is: possible to exercise, if. on a Common* wealth level, over housing as well, because housing and immigration, are, of necessity, and must, be, tied together if immigration is- to be a success. It is quite unfair for any government to say to the Minister, " We want you to be responsible for attracting the- best- immigrants- that we- can get," and then to deny to that Minister the opportunity of ensuring that the immigrants, upon their arrival, have the things that, are needed to. ensure- minimum standards, of comfort and convenience.

Of course, intending, immigrants have naturally to be screened- before they come to Australia to ensure that no criminals come here, but the Labour party maintains that once an immigrant has been admitted he should be judged solely on his behaviour, in. this country. Secret dossiers , on activities, true or imaginary,. in the country, from which he came, should not be levelled against him. The Labour party will accelerate the procedure of naturalization. On this point, let me say something about the present system, with which I find myself in disagreement. Before a person is naturalized, it is the practice to have him screened, politically by the security service. I say that, that is entirely wrong. The. screening. that is done, after he comes here should, properly have been carried out before he was ever allowed to come, and once a person is screened in another country and permitted to enter. Australia, what he thinks politically should never be allowed to come into question at all:

I know of- cases in South Australia which, I have, had to bring to. the notice, possibly, not of the- Minister personally, but of. the department. One related to a> person who! was, and had; been foi- years, a member of. the Australian Labour party. I- had been* responsible for his- joining- the party; only-, because 1 was- completely satisfied that he- was a good Labour man and worthy of membership of the party. When he sought naturalization, it was refused because a security report stated that he was a Communist. That was a complete and utter fabrication by the security people, who rely on information supplied by people of the same nationality as the applicant. Everybody knows that among certain groups of immigrants there are great bitternesses and strong feuds which go so deeply that in order to injure a person to whom they are opposed, they do not hesitate to say that he is a security risk.

If this Government knows of any person who should not be naturalized, because of his activities as disclosed by the security organization, it should deport him on the ground that it is not safe to leave him here. If the Government cannot level against any person, and prove, the charge that he is a danger to the security of the country, the Government has no right to refuse naturalization for security reasons.

Here is the example of a member of the Labour party, who would have voted for Labour party candidates at the forthcoming general election but for the action of this Government in refusing to give him naturalization and, consequently, the right to vote. It is appropriate that I should deal with this matter immediately after dealing with the British way of life. If we believe in the British way of life, we should surely give to everybody the right to disagree on political grounds, if he wants to do so, with the government of the day. Mr. Justice Douglas and Mr. Justice Black, of the Supreme Court of the United States of America, only recently handed down a magnificent judgment in which they upheld the right of American citizens to hold even Communist points of view, stating that it was the right of every free man to hold any views he wished to hold.


Mr Snedden - Do you claim the same freedom?


Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Of course I do! Everybody has a perfect right to hold whatever political views he wishes to hold. Nobody who adheres to the concept of the British way of life should deny a person the right to disagree with the Government or to hold any political view, no matter how obnoxious, so long as it was not a view that represented a danger to the security of the

State. I think it is a monstrous thing that we should deny Australian citizenship to people who have lived here for ten or eleven years, without a single conviction against them, without damage to their character by way of the commission of a criminal offence, just because some security sleuth, whose record is never properly checked, puts in a secret report that they are Communists. If the Government must insist on checking people's political views, and if that is its idea of British justice, all I ask is that it should implement the British way of life in its entirety. For goodness sake, let the person who is accused of holding dangerous political views face his accuser in open court. Let the accuser face him and produce evidence against him.

These star chamber methods of the security service of submitting a secret report against a person who never has the right even to know the identity of the person who has levelled the charge against him are far wide of my idea of the British way of life. It is a fact that a person whose application for naturalization is rejected is never even told the reason. That is not the kind of thing that the Minister's father or the Minister himself has believed in or fought for throughout their lives. It might be objectionable - and it would not be nice for me - to allow persons with Communist, fascist or nazi tendencies to have a vote in Australia, but much as I dislike the idea, I would always give them the right to exercise their vote politically in whatever way they chose. The Minister for Immigration is not like some honorable members on the Government side, who have been interjecting, who are ignorant of what comprises the British way of life, and I ask him to examine once again his conception of what is the British way of dealing with these matters and to make his judgment accordingly.

The Australian Labour party does something more than that, Mr. Deputy Speaker; it upholds the rights of immigrants to retain their own language and customs. I do not think we have any right to expect a person from another country to forget completely his own land and to cut himself off from the place of his birth. We should have enough confidence in the British way of life to be certain that ultimately, even if those who come from other countries do not voluntarily accept the Australian way of life, their children will do so. We should be satisfied so long as the immigrants respect and carry out our laws. They have a perfect right to retain their own language if they want to do so and to use their own customs provided they obey our laws. They have to learn to speak English for their own benefit, and most of them do so. They know that unless they learn our language they cannot get work, and have to pay the penalty in many other ways.

I shall not repeat what I said concerning the Minister for Immigration at the opening of my speech. I have found a refreshing change in the administration of the Department of Immigration on a ministerial level. The previous occupant of the post was, unfortunately, one who seemed to take about as much interest in the Department of Immigration as I take in Russian ballet.


Mr Timson - Does not the honorable member take any interest in it?


Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - None at all; and that is how much the former Minister for Immigration took in the department. The Minister previous to him took a little more interest in it, but usually it was an interest which would have been better left aside because the more interest he took in the department, the worse the decisions that were made. Provided a member of this Parliament puts forward a reasonably good case, and is prepared to back his recommendations to the Minister for Immigration with his own personal guarantee, his representations should be successful unless there are very good reasons for rejecting them. That is how it ought to be. If a member of this House is prepared to stake his reputation on a request or a recommendation concerning an immigrant who has approached him, the Minister should have enough confidence in the member to support him, just as the member should have confidence in the Minister if the final decision is against him. If a member is prepared to support his request, the Minister should have enough confidence in the member to say, " Although there is a doubt, I will resolve it in favour of the member's representations because I do not think there is any member of this Parliament who would abuse such a trust ". I know that I would never do so.

It is true that many times an honorable member has to write to the Minister for Immigration when he is not absolutely certain of the details of the case, but in such a letter the member indicates that he is not absolutely certain. He makes the request and asks the Minister to examine it and, at the same time, indicates that he is prepared to accept the Minister's decision. But where a member has personally examined a case and is absolutely certain of it and gives the Minister his assurance accordingly, the Minister for Immigration is correct - as is the case with the present Minister - in supporting the representations that are made to him.

I know that recently the Minister made a very courageous decision in the case of two runaway seamen. Very few Ministers in his position like to allow seamen to come into the country illegally and remain here upon anybody's representations. In this case, the Minister knew that the men were of excellent type. It would not be possible to find two better immigrants than those to whom I am referring. Because the Minister for Immigration was satisfied on that point, he was big enough and courageous enough to allow them to remain in Australia. He said, in effect, " Although they have broken the law to get here, I am satisfied that they are immigrants of ideal type of whom Australia can be proud in the future ".

However, 1 do not want to give all the credit to the Minister for the administration of the Department of Immigration. I agree entirely with the honorable member for Leichhardt (Mr. Bruce) in all that he has said about the Secretary of the Department of Immigration, Mr. T. Heyes. I say without fear of contradiction that there is no better run department in the Commonwealth to-day than the Department of Immigration. I am glad that honorable members on both sides of the House have indicated their approval of that statement almost unanimously. Any honorable member who has known Mr. Heyes personally or has had the good fortune to have personal dealings with him will support thai statement wholeheartedly.

What I like about the Department of Immigration is this: In cases where the department is unable to accept or agree to representations -that are put. -forward by a member of 'Parliament, the officers .always produce reasons that are sufficiently strong to ..convince .any reasonable member of Parliament .that the rejection is correct. When a member of Parliament can say .that, he is saying all that anybody could say in favour of. a departmental head. I can sa,y this of the Secretary of the Department of Immigration: When a member makes representations and there is a shadow of doubt, Mr. Heyes will 'always be wholeheartedly in favour of the representat ions made 'by the member -when 'he is 'satisfied ("hat the member -lias personally examined the >case and is -sure ;in :his own mind that the case justifies special 'attention, -.lilt -would- ,-not :be right, however, 'to place all the -credit ion the shoulders of the head of 4he department. - He -is -doing -such .a -good job -probably /because -he is - .aided by an excellent.. staff. lot. officers, who wonk under his control. "J -do not wish to take .kudos for anybody, hut .whichever :government was able./0 gather, together .such a fine body, of senior. officers as those , in .the Department pf, Immigration .is, entitled, to the very highest, commendation. .It is most unusual to see in one single department such a .large number of senior officers, who are able to do such .magnificent, work for Australia. I was pleased to note that, as a result of this legislation, there will 'be no more Imler cases in the future. I do not know whether the -measure will succeed as the Minister hopes. I was sorry to note in his Secondreading speech that he ;is .not certain .even now that the course that lias .been taken will .be entirely successful.


Mr Downer - It will be a very big advance.


Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I agree, and I commend the Minister for the action he has taken in this regard. It is a terrible thing that when one parent can take the children of the marriage out of the country and then say to the other parent, " If you want to see the children again, you must follow me .to the country in which I have chosen to live; otherwise you will never see the children again ". That sort of thing has happened twice already, and I hope that it will not be allowed to happen again.

I want to refer now to Cypriots. This Government, for some reason - and I am sorry to say, after the nice things that I have said ,about him,- that the Minister seems to endorse the attitude - has taken the attitude that Cypriots are -some low form of life not .fit to be immigrants. The Minister .seems to overlook the fact that -of all the ,people seeking entry 'to 'this country, the Cypriots are, after -all, /British subjects, and as British .subjects 4hey .are excellent types and should be given special consideration. A case .recently brought to my notice was that of a Cypriot girl living in Adelaide. She had no relatives in this country and she sought permission for her mother to come to Australia, not only to provide company for 'her while she awaited the birth of . her second child, but also to help her with her .family. This girl was an excellent type, married to a naturalized Greek, and she asked for no more. than to have her mother come to this country. Her mother was a widow and could have been cared for by her daughter, whom she would have assisted in the management of the family. But the Government, it seems, is so hostile to, and so prejudiced against -Cypriots, for some reason : best -known to itself-


Mr Timson - That is not so.







Suggest corrections