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Tuesday, 19 August 1980
Page: 390

Mr JULL (Bowman) - The matter I wish to raise is one of concern to me and indeed to other members of the Parliament including some members of the Opposition- and I have spoken to a couple of them - who are experiencing some of the problems I have experienced in the area of the migration of people from the Philippines to Australia. I must stress that I certainly have no personal objection to Australians going to the Philippines and marrying Filipino women but I do express some concern at the spate of introduction services which are being advertised in a number of newspapers and magazines.

It would seem that in excess of 30 agencies are now operating in most States, all arranging introductions for a fee, which in some cases is quite substantial. The same problem has been raised in the Queensland Press by the Queensland Sales Manager of Qantas Airways Ltd, Mr Brian Kirkham, who has expressed concern that package tours of the Philippines are being sold by some introduction services with profits of about $1,000 a head to the agency. Mr Kirkham has said that an investigation is being carried out by Qantas as to whether the airline is wrongly being associated with what can only be described as a blatant ripoff inasmuch as the excursion airfare and accommodation package to the Philippines could normally be bought from that airline for about $800. If one adds the cost of female company, which he estimates to be $200, it means a profit of about $ 1 ,000 to the agencies concerned.

He also said that many of these relationships developed into a form of marriage with a desire for the girls concerned to return to Australia. The other introduction services may be quite legitimate, but people entering into this form of marriage should be made aware of the fact that normal immigration procedures must take place before entry to Australia can be made. Although a form of marriage is often conducted in the Philippines, an additional marriage ceremony must be undertaken and the marriage registered in Australia. Normal security and health checks have to be made and these procedures can take several months.

I am concerned about the number of people who have come into my office in recent weeks asking for assistance to bring in their wives a matter of days after they have returned from Manila. As an example of the magnitude of the problem, in my electorate alone there have been 1 7 such cases in the last three weeks, and I should imagine that a similar spate of inquiries would have been experienced by other honourable members. Nobody has taken the time to explain to these people the Australian immigration requirements and that in fact there can be absolutely no guarantee that their applications will be accepted.

I have also experienced one or two cases in which a great deal of heartbreak and hardship has arisen from some of these arranged marriages because of the raiding of joint cheque accounts and indeed pressure from the people concerned to bring in other members of their families from the Philippines once they arrive. One lady in my electorate left her husband never to be seen again but her family was established here. Once again I do stress that it is not my right or the right of any of us to interfere in the happiness of any citizen but we do, I am sure, have this responsibility to point out the pitfalls which can arise from these arranged marriages. Obviously, some of them result in meaningful relationships, but I am sure that a number of us have seen the other side of the coin when the marriage has ended in absolute disaster.

I would just like to stress again that my purpose in raising this matter tonight is, firstly, to warn people of the sharp practices of some of the tour operators charging up to $2,000 for these introduction tours to the Philippines and, secondly, to warn prospective travellers to the Philippines for arranged marriages that they must comply with the normal regulations and delays required by the Australian immigration authorities.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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