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Wednesday, 1 November 1967

Mr SNEDDEN (Bruce) (Minister for Immigration) - by leave - I have the honour to table a report on the departure of migrants from Australia submitted to me by the Immigration Advisory Council. In the early part of last year, my predecessor charged the Advisory Council:

(a)   to investigate and report upon the departure of settlers from Australia, taking into consideration such aspects as:

(i)   the rate of departure,

(ii)   the pattern of departure movement, (in) the causes of return migration, (iv) applications for second assisted passages; and

(b)   to suggest any measures which might be taken to remove or ameliorate the situations revealed by the inquiry as contributing materially to the departure of settlers.

The Committee on Social Patterns, which undertook this inquiry in detail on behalf of the Advisory Council, furnished a progress report in October 1966. lt has now presented its final report. In doing so, it has stated that its further inquiries have not required any change in its assessment, made in its progress report, that the incidence of departures was of the order of from 9% to 16% of arrivals. Nor has it found any reason to change the opinion stated earlier that, in quantitative terms, this incidence should not be seen as a serious dissipation of the resources expended on immigration by the Australian Government. An immigration programme of the magnitude of that adopted by the Australian Government can clearly be regarded as successful, at least L, numerical terms, if 84% of the migrants it produces stay permanently in the adopted country.

The report shows that only rarely do migrant departures derive from single identifiable causes; while a single cause might precipitate the decision to depart and be seen by the individual as the reason for his going, the Committee concluded from the evidence it had received that departures generally result from a complex of causes. These causes often derive from the individual's own personality as much as from the material circumstances that he has encountered in Australia.

The Committee has formulated and presented its conclusions and recommendations in a forthright and unequivocal way. I will study these carefully with a view to giving effect to them wherever this is possible and seems desirable. Not all the Committee's recommendations however, refer to action that can be taken by the Department of Immigration; some of them relate to the need for action from other areas of government, by non-governmental organisations and by the community generally. The report, for example, draws special attention to the particularly difficult period experienced by many migrants about 5 or 6 months after arrival, when the excitement of a new environment has subsided and discouragement is most' likely to be felt. I therefore commend this report to all those members of the community who have the welfare of migrants at heart, in the hope that they too will study it and give effect to its recommendations.

An interesting feature of the inquiry was a series of community consultations undertaken by the Committee in ali States. Those who took part in the consultations - many of them migrants themselves - were people who, because of first-hand experience, were in a position to offer informed opinions about the reasons why migrants depart from Australia. In the course of these consultations, discussion inevitably covered not only the difficulties of migrants who depart from Australia but also the difficulties of many migrants who do not do so. The views expressed by those who took part in those consultations will also be studied and weighed most carefully.

The Government is greatly indebted to the members of the Advisory Council, who themselves represent a cross-section of interests, from industrial, cultural and humanitarian viewpoints. The Committee in its report, acknowledges the help given to it by its consultants, and I should like to add also the thanks of the Government to these experts, whose knowledge and advice played such an important part in the Committee's deliberations, and to the many members of the community who contributed to the value of this report through the consultations conducted by the Committee.

The presentation of this report is timely because the numbers of settlers departing from Australia have been increasing in the last two or three years and I know that this matter has been a matter of concern to my colleagues in this Parliament and to the public generally. I believe that the report makes an important contribution to our knowledge of what might be called the chemistry of migration, that it will lead to worthwhile improvements in our methods and thus to improvements in the experience of migrants coming to this country and that we will find its objective and constructive criticism of great benefit to the immigration programme. I present the following paper:

Immigration Advisory Council - Ministerial Statement, 1 November 1967- and move:

That the House take note of the paper.

I remind honourable members opposite that 1 have tabled this report of the Immigration Advisory Council. I shall certainly make copies available to members of the Opposition, and particularly the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron).

Debate (on motion by Mr Clyde Cameron) adjourned.

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