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Friday, 26 May 1972
Page: 2173

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES)

My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. Are working visas issued from time to time by the Department of Immigration to overseas artists to come to Australia for the purpose of performing in social and/or sporting clubs which are specified in their contracts? Is the Minister aware that Actors Equity has complained to his Department that some of these foreign artists are working in a number of other clubs in addition to those specified in their contractual arrangements and that this is seriously affecting employment opportunities of Australian performers, who already are finding it difficult to obtain sufficient remunerative work because there are very few Australian professional variety programmes on television? Will the Minister request his Department to investigate this matter closely and to police strictly the overseas work permit arrangements so that the employment opportunities of Australians will be protected?

Senator GREENWOOD - I seem to recall that I was able to supply to the honourable senator on behalf of the Minister of Immigration an answer to a question in this general area not so long ago. My recollection of the answer which I supplied was that before work permits are made available to overseas entertainers who come to Australia not only is an appreciation made of the employment situation in Australia but also some consultation is held with the relevant union - in this case I think it is Actors Equity. Having said that, one could make other comments, one of which is that it must be appreciated that persons who are to be entertained may not necessarily desire an Australian entertainer. Nevertheless the whole slant and approach of the policy is towards ensuring that there are adequate opportunities. I am unable to say what can be done to police permits, which after all are only issued on a short term basis, but I can visualise difficulties. In the light of the manner in which the honourable senator has asked his question I think the Minister for Immigration will be interested to provide a reply. I shall refer the question to him.

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