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Wednesday, 23 August 1972
Page: 307

Senator DURACK (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - Is the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration aware of the statement made by Mr Tonkin, the Labor Premier of Western Australia, that his Government would encourage the Commonwealth Government specially to admit a number of Asian refugees from Uganda and that his Government would co-operate in settling them in Western Australia? Can the Commonwealth Government or any State government require an immigrant to Australia to settle in any particular State or, once admitted, can the settler go to whatever State he likes? Has Mr Tonkin indicated in his letter to the Commonwealth Government whether it is the intention of his Government to divert funds already allocated to the State for the relief of unemployment to the settlement of any such refugees? Has Mr Tonkin suggested that the Commonwealth should make additional funds available for that purpose instead of the further funds sought by him for the relief of unemployment in Western Australia?

Senator GREENWOOD - I have seen the report of a statement attributed to Mr Tonkin revealing an apparent willingness on his part to admit to Western Australia, apparently on an open door basis, persons who are being- (Opposition senators interjecting) -


Senator GREENWOOD - I am a little surprised at the outcry that statement has caused. That is my understanding of what Mr Tonkin said. If he has revealed himself with greater clarity to honourable senators opposite then I think that they have an obligation to inform everyone in Australia of Mr Tonkin's view. But, as I said, he apparently would admit to Western Australia, on an open door basis, people who are not- (Opposition senators interjecting) -

The ACTING PRESIDENT- Order! I have appealed for order before when questions were being asked and answers given. I want it to be understood that we must have silence when questions are asked and answers given. If we do not, what is the use of asking questions?

Senator GREENWOOD - I must say that I am a little nonplussed as to what is stirring the Opposition at the present time because, as I understand it, the statement which I have related is the statement which I saw attributed to Mr Tonkin.

Senator Mulvihill - You did not see it.

Senator GREENWOOD - I assure the honourable senator of what I am saying. The point of what I am saying is that it is well known that the laws relating to who may come into this country are laws which are laid down by the Federal Government

It is not for a State government to determine that it shall admit as many or who it pleases into this country. That is a responsibility for the Federal Government and, until quite recently, it was a bipartisan policy. Only in recent times has the Australian Labor Party diverged from a policy which was satisfactory to both parties over a long period. 1 must say that I agree with what Senator Durack said - that it is curious that the leader of a government in a particular State, where I am led to believe the rate of unemployment is highest and where there is a greater outcry than in any other State that it is not getting a fair deal from the Commonwealth Government, which of course is nonsense, should nevertheless be prepared to accept a greater burden which would involve a greater use of money, which would involve a greater allocation of resources and, which presumably, would accentuate the unemployment problem. I can only suppose that there is a political element in the view which has been taken by Mr Tonkin.

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