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Wednesday, 30 May 1973
Page: 2835

Mr ASHLEY-BROWN (MITCHELL, NEW SOUTH WALES) - My question is directed to the Minister for Immigration. Is Australian industry playing a proper role in migrant worker integration? If not, what steps are being taken to ensure that workers are not held prisoners in workshops because of lack of knowledge of the national language and the community outside? Further, will Commonwealth instrumentalities set the example?

Mr GRASSBY (RIVERINA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Immigration) - It is true that there is a problem about migrant education, particularly at the workshop level. In Victoria something like 30 firms and corporations are co-operating in language and citizenship classes at workshop level. This is very commendable. In New South Wales only one or two firms are doing this. I know of none in Queensland, and in the other States the position is much the same. This matter is giving me and the Government great cause for concern. There is a need for Australian industry, which benefits so much from migrants, to play its role in integrating those people. We have been so concerned that today in Canberra a meeting is being held of the adult migrant education officers of the States and the officers charged with educational responsibilities in the various State branches of the Department of Immigration. Those officers will be meeting in Canberra today to see whether we cannot, by joint State-Federal action, do a more effective job for migrants in the workshops. This is something that we are dedicated to doing.

The honourable member also asked whether the Commonwealth instrumentalities could give a lead in this matter. That is a very useful suggestion and I will undertake to have it examined with my colleagues. Just in passing I think of the Postmaster-General, the Minister for Defence - because there are factories under his control - and some of my other colleagues who have direct responsibility for instrumentalities which employ large numbers of migrants. I think it is a very good suggestion from the honourable member that the Commonwealth should give a lead in this matter. I will undertake to discuss it with the various Ministers concerned.

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