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Thursday, 15 October 1970

Mr LYNCH (FLINDERS, VICTORIA) (Minister Assisting the Treasurer) - The honourable gentleman has asked a quite detailed question. I cannot guarantee to remember all aspects of it. It is true that the present Migration and Settlement Agreement between Australia and Italy, which was signed, as I recall it, late in 1967, has not yet been ratified by the Italian Government. That this is the case is certainly not due to any procrastination on the part of the Commonwealth Government. The Italian authorities are well aware of our concern that the Agreement should be ratified at the earliest opportunity. According to the latest information I have it is expected that a Bill to ratify the Agreement will be tabled in the Italian Parliament during the course of ils current session. I can assure the honourable gentleman that the absence of the formality of ratification has certainly not prevented a large number of Italian people from enjoying the benefits of the assisted passage programme, particularly the greatly expanded travel arrangements provided by the Australian Government.

As 1 recall, approximately 4,600 Italian settlers travelled to Australia by way of assisted passage in 1969. This figure increased during the course of last year to about 5,200. Prospects for an increase in the intake of Italian settlers under the scheme appear to be good for the current year. I might add that the Italian community is now the second largest national group in Australia. It is exceeded only by the British community. The Italian community has made a great contribution to the development of Australia in an economic sense, quite apart from its contribution to the social and cultural diversification of the Australian community. I am confident that with our encouragement and support this contribution will continue.

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