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Historical documents

167 Burton to Heyes

Memorandum CANBERRA, 16 February 1949


I wish to refer to your memorandum dated 20th January [1],
regarding new and secret immigration procedures. The delay in
writing is occasioned only by the fact that a procedure such as
that suggested by you appeared to us to present great
administrative difficulties in practice, and seemed likely to
involve great political repercussions which deserve careful study.

Take, for example, the position of India, let alone similar
problems arising out of the desire of some American nationals to
come to Australia. Ever since the transfer of power in India and
Ceylon, the Eurasian communities concerned (Anglo-Indians in India
and Burghers in Ceylon) have shown a special interest in the
possibility of migration to Australia, since they have felt, not
without reason, that their future, as a very small minority in an
overwhelming native majority, is insecure. Under these
circumstances, they have carefully studied our immigration
regulations and have made themselves fully conversant with them.

To extend the present restrictions to cover applicants eligible
under the existing regulations, without changing the regulations
themselves, is to put the officer considering passport
applications in the impossible position of having to interpret to
the applicant, and administer, regulations quite different from
those which the applicant already knows to be the existing
official regulations.

For instance, an Anglo-Indian of proven predominance of European
blood (75% or more) and of perfectly fair complexion (i.e.,
entirely 'assimilable') might apply in New Delhi for permission to
migrate to Australia. He might also be able to meet all the usual
diversionary 'objections' (accommodation, guaranteed employment,
landing money, etc). Under the existing regulations, the refusal
of his application would be clearly unjustifiable. And yet, under
the proposed instruction, such an application would have to be
refused, with the possibility of continuous public controversy as
each case met with refusal.

I feel that the instructions you suggest should [they] be issued
would create administrative and political problems and
repercussions which should be fully appreciated before the
instructions are issued. I have not discussed the matter with my
Minister, but I would suggest that before further action is taken,
our two Ministers should be given the opportunity to reconsider
the matter in relation to the practical difficulties mentioned

1 Document 166.

[AA:A1838, 1531/1, i]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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