Commonwealth Migration: Flows and Policies by T E Smith

By T E Smith

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In terms of total population this represented a substantial 30 COMMONWEALTH MIGRATION annual increase in Australia's non-European population and was a long step away from the ultra-restrictive policy of earlier years. There were, however, some things the Liberal-Country Party Government would not do for persons of non-European race: grant them assisted passages, even if qualified on all grounds other than race; grant them equality in naturalisation, the residential period for them remaining five years after that for Europeans had been reduced to three; extend to them, unless they were New Zealand citizens of Maori origin, the non-visa system operating between Australia and New Zealand; grant to non-European students an automatic right to stay in Australia after completing their course, even if they were acceptable in terms oflanguage, social intermixture and a secure job.

During this recovery the government decided to raise the settler targets (shifting in the process from targets based on 'permanent arrivals' to targets based on the new and more reliable figures of 'settler arrivals'); hence the rise from the long-standing target of 125,000 permanent arrivals, 1959-63, through 145,000 settler arrivals in 1965/6 to 175,000 in 1969/70. In most years the country either achieved or only slightly missed these targets. e. 0 per cent target for net migration. e. 34,000 and 15,000 a year on average.

In February 1976 MacKellar told the 1300 or so Timorese evacuees still in Australia that they need not worry about being expelled and in May announced that those who wished could apply for permanent status. ) He also agreed for members of relevant government departments to meet together over refugee matters, and also to meet twice yearly with the voluntary societies dealing with refugee resettlement. Then, in May 1977, he announced a comprehensive refugee policy that recognised Australia's commitment to the Convention on the Status of Refugees and helping UNHCR, either by contributing funds for work overseas or else by giving special assistance to resettle certain persons and families in Australia.

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