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Wednesday, 21 November 1973
Page: 3576

Mr BURY (WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - My question is addressed to the Minister for Immigration. Why is it that people who have Australian passports, and who therefore have been appropriately investigated, every time they leave Australia or return have to fill in a detailed questionnaire, stating their matrimonial status, their past marriages, whether they are widows or otherwise? Why does the Minister require this information? Or is it just a hangover from over zealous statisticians collecting useless information and requiring computers to put it through?

Mr GRASSBY (RIVERINA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Immigration) - If a person holds a valid passport, he can come and go as an Australian citizen without any let or hindrance. If he applies for a further passport certain requirements have to be met which are designed mainly to ensure that no matrimonial difficulties have arisen in the meantime and to ensure also that protection is given to children. The honourable member might know that one of the difficulties that we have been encountering in recent times as a result of the increased mobility of the population is that when there is a breakdown of a marriage there is a tendency for one of the partners to decamp with the children. There have been great difficulties in this respect; there are scattered across the world in a number of countries separated parents and children who are presently the subject of international litigation in which my Department is involved because the parents, being Australian citizens, turn to the Department and request help from it. I would say that I know of no unnecessary formalities, but if the honourable member feels that we could undertake some further streamlining of procedures, I would be delighted to do it. However, during the debate on the Estimates yesterday I did say that passports are, now being issued, on average, in 72 hours as compared with 14 days some years ago.

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