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Tuesday, 4 May 1971


Senator MULVIHILL - No, not yet. I have a high regard for the New South Wales immigration officers. I think justice will be done. But as Senator Cavanagh has said in his usual forthright and analytical approach the implication lies there. I said that this was a bi-partisan matter. I have instanced the problem with Canada. I might quote from the Hansard report of another place on 23rd April when- the Liberal Party member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron) also raised the question of the competition of non-European migrants and the fact that Canada was drawing away from them. In assessing this situation, I think there are 3 problems. There is this semi-status which Miss Lau will have if she is sent back to Hong Kong. In this connection, I believe that a large number of people we have injected into the Australian work force have been very useful in both the teaching and the medical or nursing professions. I believe that Miss Lau should qualify on that basis. It would be very easy to take debating points on this matter. I believe that whatever Party we represent, we know that we are in a changing world. I am not one of those who would say that If 5000 Asians or 5000 British migrants from the Midlands were injected into the assembly line of GeneralMotors Holden's Pty Ltd there would be a conflict of job opportunities. I am approaching this matter with a broad attitude, irrespective of colour and country of origin. Bearing in mind the initial remarks of Mr Lynch, I think Miss Lau's services would be far better utilised to the full extent of her technical capacity in Australia than they would be in Hong Kong or Canada. That is my first submission.

My second point is that we should avoid repetition of misunderstandings. Our Government should not be the chopping block because of the evasiveness of some Asian governments. I do not indict solely the Executive Council of the Hong Kong Crown colony. Senator Greenwood and Mr Forbes, the Minister for Immigration, are aware that J have already raised the problem of another group of Asian men and women who have qualified in accountancy. They allege that in Malaysia, as a byproduct of the communal riots of several years ago, if they are predominantly of Chinese descent as distinct from Malayan descent they will never reach the top jobs held by Malayans. Dr Forbes listened intently a week or so ago when 1 raised this matter with him. He is assessing several cases and I would not like to prejudice his consideration of them. However, I believe that it is time that Australia had a confrontation with the governments of Malaysia and Singapore, and perhaps other Asian countries. 1 am not sure who would be the spokesman for a Crown colony like Hong Kong, but I think we should clear the decks a little so that we may see just where we are heading.

I have already briefed Senator Greewood on the broad situation, and I present it on a twofold plane. I think that girls who in all sincerity attend for training at Sydney and MeIboure hospitals with a capacity of less than 300 beds cannot do more than graduate. If their professional qualifications are not recognised in their own countries they should be granted permanent domicile here and allowed to help our medical profession. My second point is that Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson was good enough to give me a very lengthy statement on our attitude to the United Kingdom Immigration Act. I suggest to Senator Greenwood that in view of its complexities and the amount of discussion generated by various church groups careful consideration is necessary. In the case I have raised interest was shown in the Methodist quarter, but I have had similar experience with the Catholic quarter. There is some concern that we may be conning these people. I am not referring to our own Government when I say that there has been evasiveness by some of the governments concerned, notably Asian governments. I respectfully suggest that the sooner a White Paper or its equivalent is published on such matters and we lay our cards on the table in respect of the future of Asian students like Miss Lau, the better it will be for all concerned.







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