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Wednesday, 24 October 1973
Page: 2578

Dr JENKINS (SCULLIN, VICTORIA) - My question is addressed to the Minister for Immigration. Is there a substantial surplus of hostel accommodation following the drop in the numbers of migrants coming to Australia? If so, what does the surplus amount to and what use will be made of this surplus hostel accommodation?

Mr GRASSBY - The utilisation of hostel accommodation has been under constant review with my colleague the Minister for Housing who has direct responsibility for the care and control of hostels.

Dr Forbes - I rise on a point of order. Does Commonwealth Hostels Limited come within the responsibility of the Minister for Immigration?

Mr SPEAKER - No, it comes under the responsibility of the Minister for Housing.

Mr GRASSBY - Can I help the honourable member in relation to the point of order. I have the responsibility of notifying the Minister for Housing of my requirements as Minister for Immigration. What the honourable member for Scullin is asking is, in fact, whether my requirements exceed or are less than the accommodation available, and I am attempting to answer that.

Mr SPEAKER - The Minister may proceed.

Mr GRASSBY - As I was saying in relation to hostel accommodation, in the last few months a number of hostels have been declared surplus to requirements; they comprise four in New South Wales, one in South Australia and one in Victoria. I might say that this is about the same number as was declared surplus to requirements by the previous administration. So there has been in fact a contracting of hostel accommodation that was held, in some cases, for over 20 years - and the standards of course were just not acceptable in 1973. But at present there would be hostel accommodation for some 10,000 migrants coming to Australia. We would normally hold more than 10 per cent above planned intake in case of variations caused by national need or by other changes for which we must provide. Incidentally, I would like to see one of these hostels set aside as an orientation centre so that a better and more sound introduction to Australian life and responsibilities can be given to people coming in and who are in need of some training in that direction. The honourable member can be assured that hostels that become surplus to requirements are released for other purposes. That has been done and I will continue to work closely with the Minister for Housing to ensure the cip ti mum utilisation of the accommodation available.

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