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Friday, 25 May 1973
Page: 2684

Mr GILES (ANGAS, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I address my question to the Minister for Immigration. Has the Minister observed the difficulties of fruit growers in electorates such as his and mine due to a shortage of suitable labour to aid in a particularly difficult harvest period earlier in the year? Is the Minister aware that because many migrants have like interests in Europe they represent a high proportion of such labour? Does his reported change of policy allow for a greater number of migrants from the areas I have mentioned? If not, can he offer any hope in a tighter labour situation for additional help to the fruit growers in his electorate and mine whose financial security is under some degree of threat?

Mr GRASSBY (RIVERINA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Immigration) - In the last few months a wide range of suggestions has been put forward from various quarters in regard to guest workers. There have been suggestions that we might have guest workers from the South Seas for harvest purposes; guest workers from Norway to become fishermen temporarily; guest workers from China to build roads in Victoria; and guest workers from Europe to fill some of the gaps in the building trade. About the only institution that has not asked for guest workers so far is the Parliament, but never mind, it might happen. The concept of guest workers is not one that I would accept nor would the Government. If we were to engage in the practice of employing guest workers as it operates in, for example, some European countries we would be abandoning our traditional attitude to migration; that is thai we bring people to this country, welcome them and want them eventually to join the nation, to join the national family and be a part of us. Certainly it would be a very unfortunate development if we were to have an alien bod) that would be continually alien in the national framework and within the national family. ] think it would be generally rejected as a concept by the majority of Australians, because after all, we are a developing and a growing community.

We are virtually a new nation now because shortly half of the population will be under 25 years and one Australian in every three ii the product of post-war migration, either by coming to this country or by being a child oi grandchild of migrant parents. So we have : new nation now. The great thrust is to try t( build it in unity and I do not think a guest worker concept would help that at all. The honourable member has raised a very pertinent question in relation to the harvest which will come in the months ahead and next year. Of course there are difficulties there. I appreciate the difficulty which the honourable member has pinpointed in his question. Already I have had discussions with my friend and colleague, the Minister for Labour, who is well aware that $2m or $3m worth of crops could be at risk next year if we do not have adequate harvesting arrangements. I hope that, as a result of our continuing discussions and deliberations, some arrangements will be made to overcome the difficulties. However, we reject the concept of guest workers. I assure the honourable member that we will be examining, with all sympathy and with the idea and objective of doing something worthwhile, the problem he has raised.

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