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Thursday, 31 August 1972
Page: 998

Mr WEBB (STIRLING, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - 1 preface my question to the Minister for Immigration by drawing attention to his statement yesterday - I do not want to misquote him - to the effect that he was issuing instructions that migrants would be accepted only if they had special skills so that their acceptance would not aggravate the unemployment situation. I have not been able yet to check the Hansard report but I think that is what he said. I draw his attention to an advertisement appearing in the United Kingdom Daily Mirror' newspaper of 28th April 1972 which says:

The average earnings of Australians are high: nearly £40 a week. Skilled men are paid the rate for their skill; and as Australia's expanding economy needs many skills, they get a good rate.

What's more, our tax system is designed to encourage hard work.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member is giving a great deal of information. 1 suggest that he ask his question.

Mr WEBB - Yes, 1 will. 1 ask: ls it not misleading to use average weekly earnings of $80 a week as an inducement to migrants to come to Australia? Is it not a fact that average weekly earnings include the salaries of managers, members of Parliament, overtime earnings, bonus payments and so on? Would it not be more reasonable to quote in the advertisements the minimum wage or the tradesman's rate? Would not the Minister agree that misleading advertisements, such as this, would be responsible for over 29,000 former settlers returning to their birthplace during 1971 and many others seeking to be repatriated due to unemployment? Are these advertisements still appearing? If so, will he have them amended?

Dr FORBES (BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) (Minister for Immigration) - I have not seen nor do 1 know anything of the advertisement referred to, except the part the honourable gentleman has read, but from what he has read it appears to be a very good advertisement giving a very good description of the wonderful conditions that have been created in this country by a Liberal-Country Party Government over the last 23 years. Taken as a whole, in my view, it presents an accurate picture of what Australia holds for somebody who has what it takes. Let us not forget that, as part of the advertisement states, it is being addressed to somebody who is prepared to come to Australia to work hard, expend a bit of energy and display a bit of initiative. As the honourable gentleman well knows, every detail cannot be placed in an advertisement. A continuous advertising campaign is being conducted in the United Kingdom and it in general, and I believe in fair terms, represents what Australia has to offer. But relative to the detailed knowledge which a potential migrant has in front of him before he ultimately makes a decision to migrate to Australia, the advertisements are only the start of the process.

I would imagine that no person makes a decision to migrate to Australia on the basis of one of those advertisements. After a person reads an advertisement, the next step is for him to see the Australian immigration officers in the United Kingdom to be counselled, to make specific inquiries and to be given literature^ - for example, a pamphlet on wage rates and employment opportunities, which is amended at least 3 or 4 times a year and contains all the information to which the honourable gentleman alluded and which is available to the potential migrant - before even making a decision to apply to come to the country and before coming into contact with a selection officer and a counselling officer who are there to see that the potential migrant has available to him accurate information about current conditions in Australia. If those officers believe that a potential migrant has an unrealistic view of what he is likely to find when he comes to Australia, they tell him so. I make absolutely no apology for what my Department does in this respect in the United Kingdom in the terms of the honourable gentleman's question.

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