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Thursday, 3 October 1974
Page: 1643

Senator GEORGES - My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. There is now some confusion concerning the position of students from Singapore in Australia. Can the Senate be assured that no action will be taken to deport Singaporean students in Australia against their will? Will the Government resist any such demand from the Singapore Government?

Senator MURPHY - The information I have is that it is not the case that there are 70 Singaporean students in Australia whom the Singapore Government is asking to return now and who have refused to go. Of the 700 to 800 private Singaporean students currently in Australia approximately 75, according to the Singapore Government, are under bond to return to Singapore at the conclusion of their studies. It is expected that most, and perhaps all, would return to Singapore voluntarily. Following discussions between the Prime Minister and Mr Lee Quan Yew last February the question arose as to whether sponsorship arrangements proposed for all future students from Singapore- these have since been worked out but are not yet implementedcould be applied to private bonded students already in Australia. The Prime Minister said that he would have the matter examined. That examination has been completed and in a letter to Mr Lee on 30 September the Prime Minister explained that he could not agree to deport bonded private Singaporean students currently in Australia who might refuse to return home. That is the information which I have.

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