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Thursday, 25 September 1958

Mr DOWNER (ANGAS, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) (Minister for Immigration) - The Dutch Government, 1 am glad to say, as the honorable member probably realizes, has concluded negotiations with the Economic Development Fund for a loan from the United States for the provision of, I think, 3,000,000 dollars for the housing of Dutch immigrants in this country. Negotiations are still in progress with the Australian banks as to supplementary action on their part for financial accommodation here. It is premature to say what the result of those negotiations will be, but I am hopeful that the banks will do their part in assisting in this very worthwhile movement. The moneys, according to my information, will be disbursed chiefly in Melbourne by a Dutch co-operative housing society, and I am very hopeful that, before long, the whole scheme will be in operation. As to the second part of the honorable member's question, it would take rather a detailed answer to give him the full particulars, and I shall communicate with him about that later.

I should like to take this opportunity to say that the Government applauds the initiative of the Dutch and Americans in bringing about this loan of 3,000,000 dollars for the purpose of housing Dutch immigrants in this country. I only hope that the people of other nations with whom we have considerable immigration programmes, such as our British kinsfolk, the Germans and the Italians, will be similarly moved to make approaches to the United States in the hope that accommodation of the same nature will be forthcoming. If it is, I need hardly say that it will be of tremendous consequence, in a supplemental way, in the solution of our own short-term housing difficulties. At the same time, it will increase remarkably, in future, Australia's capacity to absorb immigrants.

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