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Historical documents

52 Chifley to Williams

Letter CANBERRA, [1 August 1946 [1]]

I refer to your letter of 27th July, 946 [2], relative to the
problem of dealing with displaced persons and refugees in Europe.

The Commonwealth Government has already indicated publicly through
its representatives at overseas conferences that the Government
will co-operate with any international agency which is set up to
handle the question of refugees and displaced persons.

At the Evian Conference in 1938 [3], Australia agreed to accept a
quota of refugees from Europe and until the inflow was stopped by
the outbreak of war, approximately 7,000 refugees had been granted
asylum in this country.

Substantial limitations are imposed upon the desire of the
Australian Government to facilitate the further immigration to
Australia of displaced persons. These limitations include the need
for rehabilitating Australian ex-servicemen and women, national
housing difficulties and shortage of shipping, and also our
special commitments in regard to British migration to Australia.

Nevertheless, since the cessation of hostilities in Europe, the
Commonwealth has granted landing permits in favour of over 6,000
relatives in Europe of refugees already in Australia who have
undertaken to look after their nominees on arrival here. The
majority of these nominees are of Jewish origin, and come within
the category of displaced persons.

Many applications are still being received and will be given
sympathetic consideration according to their individual merits.

You will no doubt appreciate that, proportionately to Australia's
population, the number of permits granted, which is likely to be
increased by several thousands before transport facilities become
available, represents a substantial contribution to the settlement
of the problem under consideration, particularly in so far as
Jewish refugees or displaced persons are concerned.


Prime Minister

1 The file copy of the letter was undated. It Was written on or
about 2 August following receipt of an External Affairs Dept
memorandum of 1 August.

2 Document 38.

3 Representatives of 32 countries met at Evian in July 1938 and
established an inter-governmental committee to facilitate
migration of political refugees from Austria and Germany. See
Volume I, Document 318.

[AA:A1067, M46/17/2]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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