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Tuesday, 23 February 1971

Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland) (Minister for Housing) (4.2 lj - For the information of honourable senators I lay on the' table the following paper:

Migration and Settlement Agreement Between the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia and the Government of Malta. 1 ask for leave to make a statement in relation to the Agreement.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- There being no objection, leave is granted.

Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN - 1 wish to inform the Senate of the main features of the Migration and Settlement Agreement recently concluded between the Government of Australia and the Government of Malta. The Agreement was signed in Canberra on 14th December 1970 by Dr V. Tabone, Minister of Labour. Employment and Welfare, on behalf of the Maltese Government and by the Minister for Immigration (Mr Lynch) on behalf of the Australian Government. Australia has had assisted migration agreements with Malta since January 1949. These agreements including that which expired on 30th June 1970 were essentially agreements for assisted migration. Rather than extend the old Agreement for which there was provision under its Article 23. the Government decided to negotiate a new and more broadly based agreement which would: (a) give expression to the entitlements and obligations' of all Maltese citizens who migrate to and settle in Australia; (b) make the agreement consistent with the basic provisions of recent agreements concluded with other migrant source countries, for example, Italy. Turkey and Yugoslavia; and (c) take account of substantive machinery modifications agreed upon between Australia and Malta late in 1969 in regard to financial arrangements and eligibility criteria for assisted Maltese migrants.

On 1st June 1970, in Malta Dr V. Tabone. Minister of Labour, Employment and Welfare, on behalf of the Maltese Government and the Minister for Immigration on behalf of the Australian Government initialled agreed draft texts of the proposed new Migration and Settlement Agreement and related Arrangement dealing with assisted passage provisions. In formulating these texts, the Department of Immigration had the advice of the Departments of Foreign Affairs, the Treasury, Labour and National Service, Social Services. Health. Education and Science. Civil Aviation and the Attorney-General's Department. The draft text of Agreement was referred to each State Government for its concurrence on matters falling within the State's competence. Each signified that it had no objection to the terms of the Agreement proposed. With its signing by both parlies (he Agreement retroactively enters into force from 1st July 1970 and remains in force until 'he one hundred and eightieth day after the day on which either Government receives from the other notice in writing of its desire to terminate the Agreement.

The new Migration and Settlement Agreement has the following principal elements. It describes the facilities for settlement of Maltese citizens, lt records the rights they enjoy and the obligations they undertake in common with Australian citizens .and other citizens; it affirms that Maltese citizens resident in Australia will receive social service and health benefits which Australia provides to Australian citizens, and that both Governments will make efforts towards reaching areement on reciprocity in payment of each other's corresponding social security benefits. The Minister for Social Services and the Minister for Immigration have already had initial discussions on social services reciprocity with Dr Tabone. The Agreement provides for advice to Maltese migrants on the acceptance of vocational qualifications in Australia and records that the Australian Government will endeavour to advance the acceptance of Maltese qualifications within the framework of Australian laws, regulations and practices; the rights of Maltese settlers as residents and as workers are set out. and that Australia undertakes to extend to Maltese workers and their families the facilities available in Australia for migrants to learn English.

Article 15 of the Migration and Settlement Agreement indicates that the migration of Maltese citizens may be considered on the basis of direct applications submit ted in Malta and nominations submitted to the Australian authorities in Australia. In addition it provides that the 2 Governments shall co-operate in such special assisted migration programmes as may be mutually agreed. Under the terms of Article 15, assisted migrants 19 years of age and over will contribute $A25.00 towards the cost of their travel to Australia, those under 19 years will travel free and the Australian Government will meet the balance of the fare. This accords with the conditions available to assisted migrants generally. Special provision has been made for single women with or without close relatives in Australia to be nominated by a relative in Australia or by a friend or by an organisation approved by the 2 Governments.

As in other recent agreements an article has been included in the Migration and Settlement Agreement with Malta which deals with a Maltese citizen's liability for military service in Australia. Article 18 records that in accordance with the National Service Act 1951-1968 Maltese citizens who have rendered continuous full time service in the naval, military or air forces of Malta or a country other than Australia are granted recognition of such service in determining their national service liability. It also records that a Maltese citizen who was liable to register for military service after 1st January 1967 and who is called up may exercise his option to leave Australia rather than render such service. The reference to 1st January 1967 takes account of the fact that prior to this date this concession did not apply to British subjects including persons from Malta. This concession applies, of course, to nationals from any country who may be called up. The Agreement records that the right to determine who may be admitted to Australia for permanent settlement rests with Australia. The selection procedures provide for an assessment by Australian officers of the general suitability, health, character and the potential of the individual to settle here satisfactorily.

People from Malta were among our earliest arrivals. In the late 1850s a group of Maltese fishermen, domestic servants and labourers settled in Queensland. The first organised group of Maltese migrants arrived in Queensland in 1883 for employment on the canefields. After World War I the inflow of Maltese increased rapidly until by 1921 Australia was taking more Maltese settlers than any other country. The greatest inflow, however, occurred after World War II. when the migration agreement was signed with Malta. Although migration from Malta has diminished in recent years, Australia now receives more than half of the number of Maltese migrants leaving Malta each year. As at the 1966 census there were approximately 55,000 Maltese-born people in Australia, and inthe 4 years ending 30th June 1970 more than 5,000 settlers from Malta had arrived in this country. The population of Malta is not large - 325,600 people at mid- 1 970 - and it would be unrealistic to expect very large numbers of migrants in relation to the total Australian migration programme, but in terms of the Maltese population it is a welcome movement.

The steady movement of Maltese migrants to this country has created strong links of family relationship and of friendship between the 2 countries. Migrants from Malta have played an important role in Australian development over the years. More than half of all Maltese workers in Australia are employed in manufacturing, especially heavy engineering.

It is my firm belief that as Maltese settlers continue to bring to us those qualities of loyalty, valour and determination which have earned the respect of the world, their contribution to Australia's future will be equally as distinguished. I commend the Agreement to honourable senators.

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