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Wednesday, 10 May 1972
Page: 2284

Mr PETTITT (HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES) - My question is addressed to the Minister for Immigration. I ask: Following the recent discussion on immigration, can the Minister assure the House that there will be no change in the Government's policy of facilitating the reunion of families through sponsored immigration, while at the same time continuing the policy of Commonwealth sponsorship of migrants from countries from which there is no tradition of family sponsorship?

Dr FORBES - Yes, I can. Of course sponsored immigration is no new thing. It has been a very important part of our programme, almost since the beginning of the post-war immigration programme. It has brought to Australia some very good settlers who have made a considerable contribution to our economic and social life. We propose to continue sponsored immigration as long as there is an immigration programme, particularly as it affects family reunion.

I have in mind particularly our friends from southern Europe. The only reason why it has been necessary to raise the point that sponsorship patterns differ widely from country to country is that the Australian Labor Party has announced that it will base its approach to immigration virtually on sponsorship by friends, relatives and employers in Australia alone, in other words, virtually confining it to sponsorship. In that situation it seems very relevant to point out that statistics from my Department show that sponsorship patterns are very strong in relation to most southern European countries, most Middle East countries and most non-European countries, and that it is very weak or practically non-existent in relation to most northern European countries, most North American countries and the United Kingdom. What that means, in so many words, is that if the Labor Party did what it says it will do we would get virtually no migrants from northern Europe or from North America, and that the number of migrants we would get from the United Kingdom would be cut by 60 per cent. The Government does not believe that this would be in our national interest. In a situation in which the apologists for the Labor Party tend to say that whatever the Labor Party says it will do things will remain the same, I think it important to say in relation to immigration that if the Labor Party does what it says it will do there will be a significant and radical change in the composition of our immigration programme.

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