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Tuesday, 12 September 1972
Page: 681

Senator MULVIHILL (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Can the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate advise on the outcome of representations made by the Australian High Commissioner in London to the British Home Office on apparent inconsistencies in the British Government's policy towards Australians seeking United Kingdom work permits?

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - On 31st August last the honourable senator made certain representations to me during the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate. I have sought some information from the Prime Minister's Department which I have in front of me now. If that will suit the honourable senator I shall give it to him. The honourable senator said that State Agents-General in London had bypassed the High Commissioner's office in relation to this matter. I am informed that the Agents-General have advised the High Commissioner that they have not gone direct to the British Home Office at any time. At all times they have made representations through the High Commissioner. The High Commissioner and the previous Home Secretary, Mr Maudling, have had several talks during the last 2 years about Australians entering the United Kingdom, particularly when the British Government's immigration legislation was being drawn up. On 12th May 1972, on behalf of the 6 AgentsGeneral, the High Commissioner wrote to Mr Maudling about the treatment accorded-

Senator Mulvihill - He is no longer there; he has resigned.

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - I am telling the honourable senator what happened. The High Commissioner wrote to Mr Maudling about the treatment accorded to various Australians by immigration officers at the port of entry. A reply was received on 21st June. The High Commissioner has deliberately waited until the new Home Secretary, Mr Robert Carr, has had time to settle into his new department before taking these matters up with him. Some 155,000 Australians visit the United Kingdom annually, and it is understood that there are approximately 30 million visitors to the United Kingdom annually. In these circumstances some complaints might be expected. But it is our understanding that the people who complain constitute a very small proportion of the total number of visitors. The British authorities have indicated their readiness to investigate complaints when sufficient details are available to permit this to be done. I am informed that there is no question of British airports abolishing separate control gates for the use of Commonwealth citizens.

The PRESIDENT - For a reply to a question without notice, that is pretty good.

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