2nd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10*30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister if he has noticed the state ment in this morning’s newspapers that a
Mr. Stead has been refused admission into the Transvaal, Will he endeavour to find out whether that statement is absolutely correct, or is merely a newspaper statement? If it is correct, will he also ascertain whether Mr. Stead happens to be a British subject ?
– I do not know that it may not be considered a breach of press privilege to draw a distinction between a statement which is correct and a newspaper statement. However, leaving the honorable member to settle that with the parties concerned, I assure him that the Government will watch the case of Mr. Stead with very great interest.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been called to a paragraph in this morning’s newspaper, in which it is stated that the passengers in one of the boats from the Aramac who called at a pilot station were refused permission to telephone from there without paying?” I am not aware that the facts are as stated, but if the statement be true, it reflects discredit upon the person in charge of the pilot station. I am certain that the Government would not tolerate such a thing.
– I have not seen the paragraph referred to. If I had seen it I should have regarded it as what the’ honorable member for Barrier calls merely, a newspaper statement.’ It is incredible. The pilots are not under the control of the Commonwealth, though the telephone system is.
– The narrative reported in the newspaper is very circumstantial.
Mr. DEAKIN__ So is Defoe. I shall make inquiries.
Motion (by Mr. Dugald Thomson) agreed to -
That a return be laid upon the table of the House, showing -
The total amount of duty collected in the Commonwealth on goods, the product of the United Kingdom, during the year 1903.
The total value of such goods.
The total value of free goods, the product of the United Kingdom, entered inwards during the year 1903.
Motion (by Mr. Robinson) agreed to -
That a copy of all papers in connexion with the appointment of the Federal Patents Commissioner be laid on the table of this House.
Motion (by Mr. Carpenter for Mr. Frazer) agreed to -
That a return be laid on the table of the House, showing -
Number of Chinese and Japanese admitted from places outside the Commonwealth into the various States during 1903; and the number who have departed during the same period. - (S) Number of Austrians and Italians who have been admitted from places outside the Commonwealth into the various States during 1903.
Debate resumed from 17th March (vide page 719)! on motion by Mr. Watson -
That this House records its grave objection to the introduction of Chinese labour into the Transvaal until a referendum of the white population of the Colony has been taken on the subject, or responsible government is granted.
– There was one remark made by the Prime Minister iri discussing this motion with which I heartily agree, and that Was that this should not be treated as a party question. It is an Imperial .question, and I think that the .member’s who sit on this side of the Chamber have always shown that they can, when occasion requires, rise to national interests, as distinguished from party issues. I do not intend to deal so lengthily with the subject as the two honorable gentlemen who have preceded me have done. They appear to have stated the case to its fullest argument; necessarily, perhaps, because they recognised that they were speaking to a larger audience than that contained within this Chamber. I, for my part, will confine my remarks to the one leading consideration which has induced me to approve of the step taken by the Prime Minister. It was a keen disappointment to me when the decision was come to that large numbers of Chinese should be introduced into the Transvaal to conduct: the mining industry there. The war in South Africa is over - that unfortunate war,, the one reason for which, I believe, was not so much the questions immediately at issue, but the fact that racial antipathy was so great, and was increasing so rapidly, that nothing but war could terminate the ill-will between the two dominant races there. But that struggle, though over on the battlefield, is not ended. The doggedness of the Dutch, their natural resentment of their defeat, will continue to animate their national spirit, and to keep alive that desire for the possession of South Africa which, rightly or wrongly, has been so strong with them. There is one means of resistance, and only one which can be effectively opposed to that desire - the settlement of British people in South Africa in larger numbers than the Dutch. The opportunity to secure that settlement is, I consider, being missed. We know the attraction to population provided by rich gold-fields. We know the settlement which has’ taken place in the western States of America, whither population was first attracted by the golden metal there; and we have seen the settlement in Australia due to the floods of persons of British and other races who were drawn to our shores by the same attraction. Many of those who came here as miners have remained to follow other walks of life. The miner, when his claim has petered out, often looks to the soil for a living, or, as he grows old, turns to the agricultural resources of the land to provide a home for himself and for the sons growing up around him.
– That has been the experience of Australia.’
– Yes, and of California and other sparsely populated countries to which immigrants have been drawn in the first place by the presence of mineral wealth, and where an agricultural soil capable of maintaining them has been found. Therefore, I was in hope that British settlement in South’ Africa would be encouraged by giving every opportunity for white people to enter the mines of that country. I agree with those who say that we should not attempt to exclude the black native population. I would not endeavour to force them to work, though’ I would not refuse, them an opportunity to work in the mines. But after the employment of all the native labour available, we know that there is still opportunity .for the employ? ment of many others, and when it comes to the question whether servile aliens or white British settlers shall be imported, I say that, leaving the immediate interests out’ of . consideration, and looking to the future greater interests of the Empire, we shoul’d ‘endeavour to encourage the settle^ ment of a white British population in South Africa, as that will prove the strongest rampart against the inroads of the Dutch. In time, especially if the hopelessness of rebellion is shown by the fact that the population is becoming more and more British, the racial antipathy which now exists in South Africa will die, and, as in other British possessions, the Dutch there, forgetting the past, and finding that they are treated with justice and equity, will become loyal members of the Empire. The reply to my argument is that it is not possible to profitably employ white labour upon the Rand. I am of opinion that no genuine effort has been made to test that question. So far as it has been tested, the results have been encouraging rather than discouraging. Before the British Government take such a serious step as to sanction the introduction of large numbers of ‘coloured aliens, before they lose the opportunity that now presents itself to increase the British population in South Africa, a strong, genuine, and earnest attempt should be made to see if the mining industry there cannot bs conducted by white labour, assisted by the native blacks. Only when it has been proved by absolute experiment that that is impossible should such a proposal as that now made be entertained. I am aware that Lord Milner- pledges his word that for every 10,000 aliens introduced into the Transvaal 10,000 whites will be employed in the course of a few years. But that does not meet the objection. If 10,000 whites were substituted for the 10,000 Chinese, whose introduction is contemplated, 25,000 white!> would find employment. This number would embrace the 10,000 men who would take the place of the aliens, the 10,000, who, according to Lord Milner, would be required in addition to them, and at least another 5,000, who would be engaged in ministering to the greater necessities of a white as compared with a coloured population. That 25,000 might be multiplied according to the figures, as to the need of workers, which are available to us. If 25,000 British settlers were added to the population of the Transvaal they would afford a very great safeguard to the British Empire in South Africa. Grave questions, however, suggest themselves as to the desirability of one State in the Empire endeavouring to interfere with another. Judging from the correspondence, even the Premier of New Zealand, as well as the Prime Minister, had some qualms upon this point. At the time that the correspondence on the subject was entered upon it might very well have been doubted, in the first place,’ whether interference was desirable ; and, in the second place,’ whether it would have any substantial effect. The question pf desirability is now set at rest by the communication from the Secretary of State for the Colonies to the Premier of New Zealand, in which he says -
I fully recognise the title of all the selfgoverning Colonies to explain their opinion on so important a question, and especially of those who, like New Zealand, rendered memorable services in the South African war.
Thus, from the highest authority, we have a justification of the representations made by the Prime Minister. I quite agree that the proper course was to communicate with the Transvaal Government rather than seek to obtain a veto from the Crown. Our re’ presentation has now been made, and without meeting with objection on the part of the British Government. Reference is made, in the despatch of the Secretary of State, to the services rendered by Australia and New Zealand in South Africa. Several honorable members have also dwelt more or less upon our action in that matter, as entitling us to express our opinion with regard to the future of the Transvaal. I do not wish the references to our services in South Africa to be overdone.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– There was no allusion to them in the telegram I sent.
– No, I observed that, and. I think that the Prime Minister exercised a wise discretion. No doubt honorable members have had experience of that most undesirable individual, the person who has done you a service at some period, who is utterly regardless of the fact that you may have done him twenty services, and who, because of that one service is always presuming upon your good nature.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– We all know him. At election times he is very much in evidence. For any service we may have rendered Great Britain, she has rendered us a score.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– If I did not believe that we were prepared to again do that service - prepared again, if need be, to come to the rescue of the British Government in South Africa - I should say that we had no right to raise our voice upon the question now under discussion. It is because I believe that we are prepared, whenever the Empire stands in danger, or whenever there is a disruption in a portion of it, to recognise our responsibilities and to give “our money and’ our men to support the great Empire of which we form a part, that I regard it as legitimate for us to express, not in an objectionable manner, but calmly and respectfully our opinion upon the situation in South Africa, as it is likely to affect the Empire in the future. There is one respect in which .1 do not agree with the action of the Prime Minister. He said that he was prepared to follow any man who took the right course. He was then referring to the Premier of New Zealand. In this House the Prime Minister has shown a similar willingness to follow, and notably in the present case. Either the Prime Minister regarded such a resolution as that now before us as unnecessary or undesirable, or he neglected his duty by not himself appealing to Parliament to indorse the action taken by him during the recess.
– That has been done. Special reference is made to it in the Governor-General’s Speech; that is the Government’s way of asking for the indorsement of Parliament.
– Then, as I say, the Prime Minister must have regarded a resolution as unnecessary or undesirable.
– One never regards as undesirable a resolution emanating from the other side, approving of one’s action ; it is quite a pleasant experience.
– If a resolution had been desirable, the Prime Minister should have been the one person in this House to propose it. I am not objecting in any way to the action of the honorable member for Bland in bringing it forward, but I contend that the Prime Minister, having taken this matter in hand - a delicate Imperial matter - should have been to the end, the leader of the House upon the question; and not a mere follower of another honorable member. As to the resolution itself, I must say that I do not like the wording of it. As the Secretary of State says, all we have a right to express is our opinion. We have no right to protest or to object.
– Because an objection or protest implies the exercise of some real power of interference. I quite agree that we could pass a resolution dealing with the inhabitants of Mars, if there are any; but, I believe that the proper course to adopt in a case of this kind is to express our opinion. That opinion would remain, whether a referendum took place in the Transvaal or not.
Here, however, it is proposed to go beyond a mere objection even. It is proposed to deal with the method of admission, if there is to be an admission, of Chinese into the Transvaal. In the first place, we say in effect that there ought to be a referendum. How would the British Government view a resolution of that kind? The Transvaal is still a Crown Colony. Why? Because it has been recognised that, owing to the feeling of resentment due to the war, and owing to racial differences, the people of that territory cannot at present be intrusted with responsible government. It is felt that the votes of the Dutch element might be influenced, not by national, but by racial considerations, and that there might be a desire, not so much to promote the general welfare and progress of the community, as to harass the Government. The British Government, which has ever shown its willingness to grant responsible government when a people are ready for it, felt that the residents of the Transvaal were not ready, and declined, for a time at any rate, to let them settle questions’ of public importance by their own votes. That being so, it seems to me rather extraordinary to suggest that a vote on such an important question should be given by those who, according to the present view of the British Government, should not be allowed to exercise- such a privilege.
– The despatch from the Secretary of State for the Colonies to the Prime Minister states that the desire of the Imperial Government is to consult the wishes of the people of the Transvaal.
– There are different ways of ascertaining their wishes. The honorable member for Bland spoke of a petition to which the signatures of the majority of the white population of the Transvaal had been attached.
– Alleged signatures.
– The honorable member doubted the genuineness of that document ; but it might be perfectly genuine so far as the Dutch residents in the Transvaal are concerned. It might very well occur to them that the .introduction of British white labour would have the effect of reducing them to the position of a minority.
– The promoters of the petition in the Chamber of Mines at Johannesburg were nearly all foreigners.
– There were only two English names in the whole lot.
– That supports my view. I think that it. is reasonable to assume that the Dutch element might see very good reason for the introduction of aliens rather than white Britishers, who might eventually outweigh their own influence. We know that the settlement of the matter cannot be deferred until the establishment of responsible government. Therefore, I think that another form of resolution, which expressed practically the same view, but which avoided debatable points, would have been infinitely preferable. I do not intend to submit an amendment, but I believe that the whole effect desired could have been secured without raising those objectionable issues, which, to some extent, are raised by this resolution.
– The honorable member would prefer that the resolution should stop at the word “Transvaal.”
– No, I think that a resolution expressing the opinion of this House, and intimating that that opinion was based upon the undesirability of the introduction of these aliens into South Africa, in the interests of that country, and of the Empire, would have been quite as effective, and would have removed those grounds for objection which might be raised in connexion with this motion.
– Is it worth while submitting two different resolutions in the two Houses, when we all mean to convey the same sentiments ?
– I am aware of that, but I think that the resolution submitted to the other Chamber might have been in a better form. Another remark was made by the Prime Minister in his eloquent peroration last night, to which I desire to allude. He said that the British nation was great because it was British.
– Because of its Britons. That is the sense in which I used the words. I said that the more Britons there were, the more British would the nation become.
– I should like to point out to the honorable gentleman that the British nation is not wholly British, is not, indeed, even largely British. There are far more dark-skinned than whiteskinned subjects in the Empire.
– What part have the darkskinned subjects played in the development of the Empire?
– If the honorable member will permit me to finish what I desire to say, he will understand precisely what I mean. I say that the British Empire is great because its rulers, in handling some of the most varied races of the earth, have always recognised that right and justice must govern their intercourse with, and their control of, these people- that the black-skinned, as well as the white-skinned must receive justice. When I have been compelled to object to some of the legislation proposed by the present Government, it has been sometimes because, in my opinion, they were neglecting those canons which have established Great Britain as the great protector of the coloured races of her realm, and their honest ruler. If we depart from those great principles, there is nothing more certain than that we shall lose our hold upon those races, and that, whilst the British nation then might be more British, it would certainly be less great.
– Each of the speakers who has approached this question has done so upon high grounds. Although incidental references have been made to- operations at Pine Creek, Coolgardie, and various other local matters, all have taken the stand that our only justification for interference in this matter is based upon a recognition of our Imperial responsibility. I desire that honorable members shall deal, with a question of this kind absolutely with their eyes open. No one can vote for this resolution unless he is prepared to become for all time an Imperialist Then, too, we must not forget that if we claim the right to interfere in the affairs of other parts of the British Empire, we must also grant them the right to interfere in our affairs. If we agree to this resolution we can never again be perfectly entitled to exercise absolute control over our own affairs, that is, without expecting to receive suggestions from other parts’ of the Empire. To me it appears that this resolution constitutes the first step that any Parliament in any portion of the British Dominions has taken in the direction of Imperialism and in the direction of handing over for deposit in what may be called the “ national crucible,” all the legislation which may be enacted in any part of the Empire. Honorable members will recollect the statements which were made a very short time ago, when the Naval Defence Bill was under the consideration of this House. Upon that occasion I endeavoured to deal with the question of our Imperial responsibility, urging that if we are a part of the Empire there is only one way in which we can adequately protect it, namely, by providing one navy. On that occasion some honorable members exclaimed that I was the first person who had admitted that the Australian contribution was intended for Imperial purposes. Of course it was intended for Imperial purposes. The same remark applies to this resolution. We have been accustomed to hear that the only work which is required of the Commonwealth Parliament is work incidental to the amelioration of the condition of the masses of the people. When I vote for any resolution, it is absolutely necessary that I should be in sympathy with the principle underlying it. A person cannot say that he is in favour of Imperialism when it means only talk, and against it when it involves expenditure, or vice versa. We have no right to interfere in this matter unless we are prepared to accept our full responsibility in connexion with every act of the Empire. I frankly admit that a great deal of the good work which is performed by Parliament is done by enacting such legislation as the establishment of an Eight Hours Day. or Conciliation and Arbitration Courts. We are accustomed to hear from a section of the House, of which I speak with respect, because of its numerical strength-
– Oh !
– I did not say there were no other reasons why I speak of it with respect, because I have personal reasons beyond that. We are accustomed to hear that the work to be performed by this Parliament is work of that description. Indeed, that view constitutes a sort of Monroe doctrine. I remember the time when the Monroe doctrine was universally accepted in America. The whole nation theoretically believed - and their literary men were continually urging that belief - that the States had no responsibility outside the domain of America. But in the course of a year or two, as the result of national complications which were controlled by the special environment, we found that nation not only seizing the islands adjacent to the United States, but stretching its hands right across the Pacific to the Philippines themselves. Some honorable members Who believe that we have work to perform in connexion with national reform are of opinion that that is all we have to do. But when they are brought face to face with injustice to other parts of the Empire they throw their Monroe doctrine to the winds and become Imperialists. What gives us the _ right to interfere in South African affairs at all. Let us suppose that the Transvaal were a German settlement, or under German control. Would not the action which is now contemplated expose us to the humiliation of a very caustic reply ? If the French or Germans were in control we should never dream of interfering. Therefore every honorable member must recognise that this resolution is based upon the recognition of our Imperial responsibility. It has been stated during this debate that we are a self-governing community. No doubt we are,, but if we agree to this resolution honorable members will understand that for ali time we must cease to feel indignant at any attempted interference with our legislation, or at any suggestions which may be made to us bv other parts of the British Empire. We know how “ touchy “ we are in regard to a matter of that sort. If Great Britain attempted to interfere with any law upon which we had clearly and definitely expressed our opinion, we should rise up in indignation. We should tell the mother country that we understood our necessities and local affairs, and if any protest could prevent that interference being made effective we should not allow her to obtrude into purely Australian affairs. The fact is, that Britain has given us the whole of our territory and has placed us in absolute control of our public lands, and that on the continent of Australia there are. not to-day more than one or two fly-specks which belong to the mother country. Of course, it is true that we have a Governor-General, but for all practical purposes he is represented in this House. That being our position, it might fairly be argued that we ought to grant equal rights to .other parts of the Empire. But we are abandoning that position by our action to-day. I wish conclusively to prove that every man who votes for this resolution does so because he is a citizen of the Empire. Upon what ground, I have been asked by the honorable member for Wilmot, do I take my stand? Upon the ground which has been taken by the last three speakers- because it is- conceived that what is contemplated involves a wrong to the Empire. Strictly speaking, we have no right to follow into self-governing countries any man who chooses to take his labour there for sale. But we claim that right, because our destiny is identified with that of the Empire, and because without the Empire we should have no destiny at all.
Therefore we accept once and for all the responsibility of our action, which we take in the interests of the Empire. I desire to say just one word more to my honorable friends who very frequently show antagonism to Imperial sentiments. I approach them in this way : If a democratic person like the Prime Minister or myself were asked why we are Imperialists, what would be the reply? My answer is that from the point of view of the democrat there can be no possibility of democratic’ reform unless the Empire is safe. I lay that down as a fundamental, principle. I admit, as every one must do, the importance of the various matters to which I have made reference - the amelioration of the condition of the masses, the legalization of the eight hours principle, conciliation and arbitration, and other reforms which are the hopes and aspirations of all honorable members.
– The war has hin:dered the realization of those hopes.
– Absolutely. National anxiety or national tumult invariably delays every democratic movement. When a man asks me why, as a democrat, I am an Imperialist, I reply readily that Australia, with her small birth-rate, with her leisurely increasing population, with her mere handful of people, could not stand alone in safety, and that there is no possibility of securing democratic reforms unless she continues to form part of the Empire.
– That is a terrible doctrine.
– I should presume that it was if the honorable member agreed with it.
– What about the Argentine Republic?
– It is in the Monroe doctrine that the Argentine finds its safety. The flag of the “United States of America virtually floats all over America. Some persons in Australia who shared the theories of the honorable member, tried the experiment of living in a South American Republic, but most of them have returned to Australia, or are likely to do so- Let me show why I consider that it is absolutely .essential that, if we are to secure democratic reform in Australia, we should remain part of the Empire. If honorable members take but a brief glance at the world of thought to-day, they will find that a change of feeling is coming over the people of all lands, and that what is described as a new spirit is taking possession of them. That new spirit means nationalization, as opposed to cosmopolitanism. Cobden, and I speak of him with respect, as an able man was singularly misguided, so far as some of his principles are concerned.
– Cobden, of course, is unreliable.
– I think that I ought to be permitted to express my opinion of Cobden, without any dissent on the part of honorable members opposite. The fact that they do not understand him is not a sufficient reason for their interjections.
– It is no reflection on Cobden.
– Quite so. Cobden was an exponent of cosmopolitan thought, not because he was a free-trader, but because, perhaps, he was Cobden. He was an exponent of that cosmopolitanism which it was presumed would bring the whole world into touch.
– What has this to do with the introduction of Chinese into the Transvaal ?
– It has much to do with it. The spirit to which I have referred is known as the national idea, but, although spoken of as the “ new-born spirit,” it is not new. It is nothing more than the rejuvenation or resuscitation of the old national spirit, and its guiding principle is- “Let the nation look after itself, and allow the rest of the world to take care of itself.” This is the national spirit which is now dominating the whole world, and stands in direct juxtaposition to the views of Cobden and the theorists of his school. Viewing existing conditions from the national aspect, what must honorable members who, like the honorable and learned member for Illawarra, desire a navy for Australia, think of the position? Must they not be impressed with the .fact that, as a nation of 4,000,000 of people, we should have no place in the history of the world - that there would be no room for us.
– We have room for 40,000,000.
– Quite so. I would ask honorable members to survey the position occupied to-day by other nations of the world. I would ask them to look, for example, at the United States, stretching - as the Prime Minister would probably say - from the great Atlantic to the Golden Gate. The very mention of the name of America conveys to the minds of honorable members suggestions of magnitude, virility, strength, and progress. But leaving the United States of America for the moment, let us turn to Russia, which is so prominently before us to-day. It is like a great octopus stretching out its tentacles in every direction. We see her with one tentacle on the Persian Gulf, another on what is regarded as the English buffer State - Afghanistan; and still others on Constantinople and Finland. She is squeezing the political and national life out of the whole of these communities, while at the same time she is stretching forth yet another tentacle to the Pacific.
– It is hardly fair for the honorable member to say that Russia, in placing one of her tentacles on Constantinople, is squeezing out the life of the people there.
– One great national objective is Constantinople. She is doing so, at all events, so far as her actions in other parts of the world are concerned. She endeavoured to place one of her tentacles on Stamboul, but that tentacle has been somewhat shattered. Should Japan succeed in driving Russia back from the Pacific she will damage only one of her tentacles. What is the future of Britain, a couple of small islands, compared, with that of a great country like Russia, which comprises millions of people and countless and abundant resources ? What is to be the future of Britain or of Australia among the nations of the world? We cannot get away from the conclusion.. A nation, like an individual, has an environment, and we have to bear with that national environment, and to consider it. What is the future of Britain, consisting as she does of a few little isles in the northern seas, compared with that of the yellow nations ? She has none. At no distance from our doors we have Japan and China, the one fairly awakened, and the other gradually rousing herself from her commercial, national, and intellectual hibernation. These being the facts, it would be impossible for Australia to exist as a separate nation for any great period. Every honorable member knows that Australia, would be swallowed at one gulph by these nations if she did not form part of the Empire. The honorable member for Kennedy inquired just now what this aspect of the matter had to do with the question before the Chair.
Let me tell him what we have to do with all these considerations. We know, first of all, that efforts to bring about reform are shattered in time of turmoil and war. Reform is all-important, but it means nothing when we are face to face with national death.
– That is a novel way of putting the. position.
– Perhaps I may be permitted to show that the allegory is not overdrawn. I said that there would be no possibility of reform if we were face to face with death.
– One can repent even at the eleventh hour.
– Does the honorable member think that this matter has anything to do with the question before the Chair? Perhaps he will be able to connect his argument with the question.
– I shall certainly be able to do so. What I wish to point out is that a nation may be desirous of reform, but that in a time of national anxiety people’s thoughts are diverted from such questions. It is impossible to secure anything in the way of reform while a community is threatened with national death. The national mind is then centred upon questions other than those relating to reforms of the character which now agitate the minds of honorable members. And so, if we were not a part of the Empire, we should in the near future have no thoughts or ideas beyond those of self-preservation. The vast yellow nations of the earth are gradually becoming enlightened, and our thoughts would turn naturally to the building up of armies and navies, rather than to the securing of domestic reforms. In such circumstances, what would our national expenditure be likely to be? We should spend money, not in securing the amelioration of the condition of .the people, not in paying higher wages to our workers, but in acquiring the armament necessary to prevent national humiliation and national death. While we form part of the Empire, however, we are saved much anxiety and responsibility in this regard. It is in this way that I connect my remarks on reform with the question before the Chair. I have no desire to speak at any great length, but I wish to make one passing reference to certain statements made by the honorable member for North Sydney. The reason why we are interested in this matter is, that Britain possesses but comparatively few breathing places for her people. Either from climatic reasons, or because other large populations are already there, there are very few parts of the world which Britain can use to this end. A century ago she seized practically every part of the world that was really suitable for occupation by the AngloSaxon race. But what is the position? Let us contemplate, for example, the position of Canada. We know that, as one travels north the climate there becomes exceedingly cold, and that beyond the Red River it’ may be seriously doubted whether the land is fit for profitable permanent occupation by us- One might as well be in Lapland as in the Hudson’s Bay territory. There is not much room for a vast nation there. In Australia we have available space, and there is some room for whites inSouth Africa. On the broad ground, therefore, that more breathing space is required for the British people, and that the white races are the dominant partners in the Empire, we appeal to Britain to keep these parts of the world open for the AngloSaxon races, rather than for the yellow man.
– I was always under the impression that there was no other nation that possessed so much breathing space as does Great Britain.
– But we should not allow it to be occupied by the Chinaman.
– The broad ground which I take up is that the British nation, controlled by white men, requires to keep all parts of its territory free for the growth of the white population. Why is Germany endeavouring to acquire possessions in all parts of the world? The answer is, that there is already too great a population in the fatherland, and that she must provide for the natural overflow. It is true that there is a large number of blacks in South Africa, and that, with the cessation of war, with no more of Lobengula, and no further stamping out of the Mashonas by the dominant race, there is likely to be an enormous increase in the number of black, or Bantu races, as the Prime Minister very properly described them. But still there is room for the white in South Africa, and we do not wish to see the yellow man placed there in his stead. No man who is not an Imperalist can or should vote for the motion. No man who is not prepared to allow each part of the Empire, not to dictate but to suggest with regard to the government of Australia, ought to vote for it, because we cannot claim for ourselves that which we do .not give to others. These things should never be forgotten. In a matter of this kind the home authorities are entitled to our fullest sympathy, governing, as they are endeavouring to do, an Empire composed of such unassimilable parts. And we should not in any circumstances act harshly, even with our small power. We’ know that it is necessary for the British nation., with her vast number of black and yellow citizens, to be perfectly fair to those races, because that is the only way in which she can maintain her control over them. We already asked her by our alien legislation to go a step further in this matter, and to sustain us in slamming the door in the face of her coloured population. There is no doubt that an English statesman - a man endeavouring, as far as he can, to assimilate the hostile elements in various parts of the Empire - has an enormous problem to deal with, and Ave colonists should endeavour to be reasonable in these matters. We ought to be reasonable in our requests and our attitude. We ought at all times to stand by the nation which accepts such responsibilities for us. We would resent this action if taken by South Africa in regard to Australia. We have only a faint glimmering of the difficulties of the British statesman, in controlling this great Empire. In reading history, how frequently do we come upon incidents which show us why certain things were done in connexion with a certain nation, placing quite a new aspect of the case before us? We do not know the troubles and anxieties of the men who are at the helm in the old country. We do not know but that iri passing this very motion we may be giving them serious trouble and playing into the hands of the enemy. But remembering the troubles and difficulties of the nation, I shall still vote for the motion. Although realizing that, as a self governing country we are running a great risk in interfering, with the government of another part of the Empire, I shall still vote for the motion on the broadest of - all grounds - and no other ground would justify any person in voting for it - that we are part of the British people. With them we are dependent upon the numerical strength of the nation. We must preserve intact for it at all times every breathing place that we have. If I did not believe that
Australia had no future except as - part of the Empire, I should not vote for the motion. Our only hope, not of progress, not of advancement, not of development, but of the permanent occupation of Australia by a white race, is under the flag of Great Britain, and in no other way. That consideration has been forced more and more upon my. mind by the more reflection I have given to the subject. In speaking to my fellow-countrymen in electorates or otherwise, whatever their views may be, I never miss an opportunity of impressing upon them this one fundamental principle - “ Go on with your reforms ; do all you can for the amelioration of the people; do all you can in all circumstances to bring equity, peace and reasonableness into the community ; but remember that far above all that rests one thing, and that is national existence, which can rest safe only in an Australia under the British flag.”
– Whilst agreeing in the main with the sentiment underlying the motion, I am one of those who do not altogether approve of its wording. It seems to me that it would be wise for us to avoid even the appearance of any desire to interfere with Imperial’ questions, that is, with a view to dictate Imperial policy. The wording of this motion is, perhaps, open to objection on the ground that it may be capable of some such construction. I propose, in all friendliness, to move an amendment which, perhaps, the leader of the Labour Party may see his way clear to accept, as it expresses practically the same thing, but in language which is less mandatory and dictatorial. I move -
That all the words after the word “ House/’ line i, be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words : - “views with extreme regret the proposal to import Chinese labour into the Transvaal, regarding such a step as prejudicial to the best interests of the Colony.”
I think that a motion worded somewhat in that form would be less open to objection, and perhaps would commend itself more to the favorable consideration of the Imperial authorities than would the motion in its present form. I am very greatly in accord with the opinions expressed by the honorable member for North Sydney regarding the use of the referendum in the condition of the Transvaal at the present time. Whilst, of course, I should like to see the Colonies in South Africa enjoying the same measure of self-government that we enjoy, I realize that at the present time, and for some considerable time to come, it will not be practicable, because time has to be allowed for all the bitterness of feeling arising out of the recent war to die away. I can clearly see that there are great difficulties in the way of giving the population of South Africa the right of ‘self-government for some time to come yet, and this matter is urgent. My amendment does not in any way object to a referendum being taken if it is desired that the will of the people should -be ascertained in that or any other manner. It leaves the question quite open, so that the Imperial Government could take the sense of the white population there, either by a referendum or any other effective constitutional means. But whatever the will of the people might be, it would not alter my opinion as to the undesirability of Chinese being imported into the Transvaal. The amendment leaves that aspect of the matter in no doubt, and simply gives the House an opportunity of recording its opinion as to the undesirability of the course proposed. I am fully in sympathy with the principle underlying the motion, because, from familiarizing myself with the history of South Africa, ‘ and all the incidents which culminated in the recent war, I know that there has been a great desire on the part of the land monopolists to stretch their clammy digits over the map of South Africa, and with the aid of Australian soldiers, they have succeeded in effectively accomplishing their object. Whilst they were perfectly willing and eager to accept all the aid which Australia could give them in securing to themselves the position which they now occupy, they desire to have all the spoils of victory, and all the opportunities which the spoil spoilation of a country gives, and to exclude those same Australians from any participation in the benefits of the victory which they did so much to achieve.
– An Australian cannot get a position in South Africa.
– No. They were glad enough to accept all the aid which Australians could give them at that time, and will be glad enough to get all the aid which Australians can give them at any future time when their interests are jeopardized. But they are now raising a wail against the introduction of Australian or white labour into the Transvaal. Whilst we may resent that kind of treatment, we have to be very careful not to place ourselves in a false position. No language could be too strong to express my own feelings. But we have to consider the question in its diplomatic character. We do not wish to gain a reputation for presumption and bumptious interference with Imperial affairs. In a dignified, respectful, and perfectly legitimate way - without giving any cause of offence - we can express our opinion as to the undesirability of the proposed measures as they affect the prestige of the white population in any part of the Empire. I take it that, if our opinion is couched in courteous language, it will receive that consideration to which it is entitled. I would ask the leader of the Labour Party to consider the expediency of accepting my amendment, or some other modification of the terms of his motion.
– The motion submitted by the honorable member for Bland, in a speech that has met with the approval of the Chamber, and the sentiments contained in which have been re-echoed by every speaker, is one of which I can cordially approve. There was some difference of opinion in Australia about the late war in South Africa. The vast majority of Australians, who were heartily in accord with it, were told at that time by those, both here and in England, who were opposed to the waT, that it was fostered for the purpose of assisting a ring of capitalists in certain of their designs. Speaking for myself, I can say that I was at the beginning opposed to that war. I was opposed to it while it was what might be termed a little war. I saw no reason why Australia should interfere. When, however, the limits of operations had extended to such an extent as to imperil the stability and even the very existence of the nation, I confess that my opinions changed, and I became a very whole-souled advocate of the cause of the British. I am very loth to believe that the evidence placed before us is irresistible, that what was declared by those who were opposed to the war from beginning to end was only too true. This is the position. Here was a racial war carried on with that determination and tenacity which might be expected to mark a struggle between two such races as the British and the Dutch. That war has left for solution a problem which may well defy the best efforts of the greatest statesmen. There is but one solution, and that is that there shall be attracted to South Africa a resident population of British white subjects. ‘ That being admitted to be the case, and every effort being made to secure that end - Mr. Chamberlain having gone through South Africa in the manner of the consuls of old, pointing out very hopefully, indeed, the signs of eventual settlement - the British Government now lends itself to an ordinance which practically sounds the death-knell of any effort to settle white people upon the lands of the Transvaal. That being so, the situation not only affects the Transvaal itself, but the whole of South Africa. Feeling, from what we can gather, and as has been pointed out by the honorable member for Bland and others, runs very high when the interests of multimillionaires are in question. These men are, apparently, without scruple, and they have at their command an unlimited amount of wealth. When such men determine to promote a certain phase of feeling, to manufacture public opinion through the press and elsewhere, and to stifle the honest expression of popular conviction at public meetings, those who have had any experience of such things in Australia know, faintly, at any rate, what they can do. It has been asserted that the white population of the Transvaal are not opposed to this measure for the introduction of Chinese labour. Now, my honorable friend, the member for Bland, in his motion says that no effort has been made - indeed no effort can have been made - to discover what the feelings of the white population really are. That can only be ascertained by means of a referendum or by the re-establishment of responsible government. My honorable friend, the member for North Sydney, pointed out that the time . for the introduction of responsible government in the Transvaal has not arrived, and that the people are not ready for it. Lord Milner, into whose hands the future destinies of the country seem to have been largely intrusted, has declared that the time is not ripe for it. The motion of my honorable friend suggests an alternative. There is a very wide difference between the reestablishment of responsible government and the taking of a referendum. Responsible government places in the hands of the people the entire control of their own destinies upon all matters. On the other hand, a referendum does not legally enforce anything whatever. It affords, however, an unique opportunity of discovering how the people of a country feel upon a particular subject, . unaffected by any other consideration. It has been said that we have no right to protest or express an opinion as to any method by which this feeling of the people can be discovered. We have every right as citizens of the Empire to protest against any injustice or any wrong. It was never said, at the time of the war, by those- who now discover that we have no right to interfere, that we had no right to protest against the action of Cape Colory when the Legislature of that country was in danger of falling into the hands of those who were termed disaffected citizens. It was never said that we had no right to protest in the loudest possible way or to interfere in regard to the affairs of that Legislature. It is not, and never has been, a bar to an Englishman protesting against an injustice or a wrong that he had no legal right to protest, and no means of enforcing his protest. We are committed - many of us think very unhappily - to the fortunes of an Empire, over whose destinies we have absolutely no control, except in so far as concerns this particular corner of it, and so far as protests, which may be made from time to time, may affect the situation. Since, then, we are committed to the destinies of this Empire, and since, undeniably, the introduction of Chinese labour will not only tend towards, but will certainly bring about depopulation and disaster, and will ultimately ruin any prospects of white settlement in the Transvaal, and of the British supremacy in South Africa; and since that, in its turn, will affect us, seeing that we have to take our share of the whole burden of the Empire, and that our share must necessarily be increased when some other part of the Empire is unable to do its part - therefore we have every right at this juncture, as a component part of the Empire, to say that this action of the Legislative Council of the Transvaal is fraught with danger and is a direct refusal to carry out that implied compact which was made when we went to war against the Dutch. There was then undeniably an understanding, expressed or implied, that one of the reasons why we ought to go to war was that the British population of the Transvaal had been denied the franchise. Another reason which was given was that we were going to break up an intolerable oligarchy of the Boers - a people narrow in their views, ignorant, unlettered, and fired with that intolerant racial pride that has always marked the Dutch. After an expenditure of thousands of lives and an amount of suffering that one can only contemplate with feelings of dismay, we now come face to face with the fact-that we have but broken down one oligarchy to set up another infinitely more intolerant, infinitely more unscrupulous, and infinitely more dangerous. There were limits set to the Boer oligarchy which their religion fixed for them. They considered themselves to be’ under the express tutelage of the Almighty. But these men - the multi-millionaires of the Rand - certainly do not take God for their guide in any of their actions. These men were throughout the South African war patriots who prated about the extension of the Empire, and their concern for their fellow British subjects. It is, however, doubtful whether the mine-owners are for the most part Britishers. Their very names are unfamiliar to us, and are not those by which British subjects are usually known. But, these men, if they be indeed Britishers, propose to do so grievous a wrong to their fellow British citizens that nothing which the Boers ever did to them can equal it. They propose to exile them - but not in the manly, honorable way which we have adopted towards undesirable immigrants. The press bade us turn to see the result of excluding white British subjects under contract from this country, and said - “ See the effect that this legislation will have upon the capitalists of Great Britain.” These are the capitalists of Great Britain ! These are the men before whom even the American multi-millionaires “ pale their ineffectual fires !” The Werner-Beit combination is the richest, except, perhaps, the Rockefeller combination, in the world. And these men, who know neither country nor religion - are the men to whom we were to look, and whom we were told would certainly be affected by finding that six hatters had a difficulty in entering this country ! These men now propose to say to British subjects, not in a fair and honorable way : “ You must not come here,” but, “ You may come out, but if you do you will be reduced to a depth of penury and distress such as is hardly ever known in England or elsewhere.” They say to the workmen of England : “ We have no work for you.” But they will offer the right hand of fellowship, not to British white subjects, nor even to British Chinese subjects - they do not even make the miserable pretence that the Chinamen whom they are to import to the Rand will be drawn from Hong Kong, and will consequently be British subjects - but to any
Chinese labourer whose services ‘ they can obtain. They do not care whether their Chinese labourers come from Hong Kong or from Hades, provided they will do their work at a “ reasonable rate.” And what a rate that is ! One has only to consider the wages which the mineowners are offering to the kaffirs to realize what chance there is for white labourers to secure employment there. All the more honour to the kaffir for refusing to work on these terms ! The mine-owners have exploited the black people in the past. They still -have an unlimited field from which to draw labour if fair conditions were offered to the kaffirs. Even the Roman Empire never had an opportunity of exploiting cheap labour to such an extent as is offered to the owners of the mines of the Transvaal. But the kaffir has reached his Nadir and has refused to work for the mere smell of an oil rag - the beggarly pittance which has been offered him. He has come to appreciate some of the joys of Christianity, and some of the benefits of civilization, and declines to permit himself to be further exploited by those unscrupulous men who now control the Rand. There can be no doubt that many of them are men whose actions will not bear inspection; and they are where they are, and they exercise the power that they do, because - and only because - they possess almost limitless wealth and almost limitless power. I have here a copy of the South African News, dated 21st December, 1903. .It shows that the greatest meeting ever held in Cape Town was held to protest against the introduction of coloured labour. That meeting was disturbed by men who were notoriously and visibly led by one of the best known stockbrokers in Cape Town. Can any one doubt, for a moment, that those men who cried down indifferently the speakers of the Africander Bond, and the Progressivists, were well paid by those whose interests were at stake? They did their work well. I have here a list which seems incredible, but which shows that the profits of the South African mines run from 1,902^ per cent, down to a paltry 165 per cent. For such profits as these the millionaires of South Africa will dare all things. They seek to delay the granting of responsible government, because it is known that, as soon as the franchise is extended to the people who have been attracted from Great Britain, and who have imbibed with their mother’s milk sentiments of freedom, all hope of introducing Chinese labour will be at an end. The reign of the mining magnates will be over if responsible government is granted to South Africa, unaffected by the leprous, curse it is proposed to introduce. But if Chinese labour be once introduced irreparable injury to the State and to the Empire will be done. For an ordinary Act of Parliament, which may be disapproved, there is a remedy in due course, but the effect of this Ordinance will be to sweep from the Transvaal all white men who are willing to work in the mines. Once they are gone, to whom will the franchise be extended ? Undoubtedly the franchise will be extended to a class of men who then would be, if they are not now, vitally interested in the success of the damnable conditions which it is sought to introduce. If once the- introduction of Chinese is allowed, the subsequent granting of responsible government will be ineffective. What guarantee is there that the franchise, then granted, will not be narrower in its scope than. that under the Boer regime? At any rate we have the assurance that those interested in the introduction of Chinese labour would not willingly enfranchise one white miner, and if the franchise is at first restricted by a property or other qualification, confining it to. that section of the community who hope to benefit from the Ordinance, it will never be extended without recourse to the arbitrament of arms. According to the honorable member for North Sydney, we have no right to interfere unless we are prepared to again go to war. For my part, speaking as far as I am able on behalf of my constituents, I will never cast a vote for the despatch of another Australian contingent to take part in a war if such an Ordinance as that now proposed be carried into effect. Are we to believe that the loyalty of those Britishers who were attracted to South Africa by false pretences, and, after having done Well for the Empire, have been left starving and hungry, to do their best - and the best is to die - will stand against such a strain? Who under the circumstances could blame the Boers if they rose again? By what argument could the Boer be refuted who pointed out that the Boers, in their time at least, took their stand on the high pedestal of the Bible - that they owned the country by right of prior occupation and possession ; but, rightly or wrongly, were driven out and supplanted by men who knew neither God, Christianity, nor country, but whose whole horizon was limited by the extent of their dividends, and whose sole anxiety .was, sink or swim who might, that they should grow still richer ? If it be said that we are again ready to fight in such a cause, I declare that, so far as I am concerned, it is not true. We are ready to fight in a good cause, no matter in what part of the Empire. But it must not be in the cause of chicanery and bribery - corruption and rottenness reeking out of every pore of those interested. The honorable member for Lang seeks to modify the language of the motion, but that language I regard as mildness itself. Is a democracy such as this to choose its words like a lady in a boarding-school, and talk with the accent of “ prunes and prisms “ ? Is the language insulting, or such as we cannot legitimately use? May we not say that the Transvaal white population ought to have an opportunity of declaring whether or -not they will have Chinese in their midst? Can it be said that we are going too far? Our regret is that, unhappily, we are unable to go further, and I regard the motion as embodying a fair and moderate protest. We ask that the people of South Africa, not in the face of intimidation or overawed by threats, nor cajoled by bribery and corruption, may have an opportunity of ‘fairly and honestly expressing their opinion as to the wisdom of this great and irrevocable change. I do not think we are asking too much. Whose tender susceptibilities shall we offend? I do not think we shall offend the susceptibilities of Great Britain, because, as has been pointed out, the proposal to introduce Chinese into the Transvaal narrowly escaped defeat in the British Parliament, in spite of the cracking of the party whip. It is almost impossible to put ourselves in the position of the provincialist of England, who sees and knows nothing beyond his immediate horizon - whose every thought is bound by the petty parochialism of his own petty town or village. It is difficult for such a provincialist to understand the meaning of the presence of all these Chinese in South Africa. But we who are largely cosmopolitan, by virtue of our birth and surroundings, understand only too well the meaning of the proposal. We have .decided to admit no aliens into this country; and, after our past experience, Who is better able to express an opinion on such a question ? But, if a vote were taken there to-day, it would be found that England is awakening from its fatal apathy. The East End of London is crowded with aliens who work for remuneration nearly as low as that of Chinamen ; and I believe that a vote would show a handsome majority against the introduction of more. Why did the people of Eng. land go to war with the Boers? Was it in order that the capitalists of the Rand might make huge profits out of their mines ? Or was it in order that the Empire might be strengthened by the unity of the three provinces of South Africa? Was the object not to plant the standard’ of the Empire still further into the hinterland of that great continent? That was the alleged object of the war, but the real object, apparently, was that .our own fellow subjects - our own kith and kin - should be denied an opportunity to work even at kaffir wages, and have their places taken by alien Chinamen. To my mind, not one sound reason can be urged in favour of the Ordinance, while hundreds of reasons may be, and have been, urged against its being carried into effect. In those parts of South Africa where thought is free, at any rate in Cape Colony, overwhelming majorities have declared against the proposal; and in England, wherever public meetings have been held, there have been similar decisions. It is true that the British Parliament, affected, of course, by party considerations, decided by a narrow majority in favour of the Ordinance. But the British Government have learned from the closeness of the division that it is best to put off the evil day ; and under cover of endeavouring to discover from the Chinese Government under what conditions the Chinese will be allowed to emigrate, the Ordinance has not been put into effect. While yet there is time during which our protest may be of advantage, let it go forth that both Houses of the Commonwealth Parliament unanimously believe that no Chinese should be allowed in South Africa until after full opportunity has been given to the people of the Transvaal to express an opinion. The honorable member for Lang contends that the language of the motion should be milder and more diplomatic - that we should not be bumptious in our interference. In my opinion, there is nothing of bumptiousness about the motion. No circumstances could demand a clearer and more emphatic protest, and no protest could be less emphatic consistently with democracy than that proposed. The motion is purposely worded to set forth in clear and unmistakable terms what course we think should be taken, and the protest is from a country which took part in the great struggle in South Africa, and which has, we believe, successfully dealt with its own alien ‘ problem. The protest appeals to the Government of the Empire, with whose destinies we are irrevocably bound up, to stay their hand while there is yet time, and to make South Africa a land, not for the Chinaman, but for the white man.
– I am in accord with all that has been said in favour of the motion. My own feeling is that the protest is not strong enough ; that instead of being refined’ down, the phraseology requires more emphasis. Remember that we are concerned, not with a local but with an Imperial question. If we interfere, we must, as the honorable member for Richmond pointed out, accept the .responsibility of doing so on Imperial lines. As a part of the Empire we have a right, when there are proposals which we think may be injurious to that Empire, to express our opinions to the British Government. I quite realize that it would be impertinent for us to interfere in local affairs in the Transvaal; but, as that is a Crown Colony without responsible government, the matter can fairly be considered by us from the stand-point of Imperial interest. * I am against the introduction of indentured Chinese labour into any part of the British dominions. The fight in South Africa was for Imperial extension and supremacy, the intention being to establish there a British population. Now, however, after a great expenditure of blood and treasure, a course is proposed which will have the effect of establishing a Chinese population to the exclusion of white labour. If the Ordinance be carried into effect, the Transvaal in the end will become not a British Colony but a Chinese Colony. Although in this connexion I am not altogether in favour of the kind of legislation which has been passed by the Commonwealth Parliament, I am opposed to the indenturing of any Asiatic races within our territory. I am not sure, however, that such races are not being brought here under contract to-day, because I had the admission of planters in the north,when I was there some two years ago, that Japanese labour was being utilized. They said they were indenturing Japanese for work in Northern Queensland, and were paying them at a lower rate, or at about the same rate as they paid the kanakas.
-1 - Those men were introduced under the treaty existing at the time with Japan.
– I am referring merely to the fact that they were being so introduced, and whether England or Japan were offended, I should do what I could to prevent the introduction of labour of that kind. This is entirely a question of gain. There can be no doubt that these capitalists desire to- exploit the mines at the very smallest cost and with the very highest advantage to themselves. They have no other idea or thought. It is purely a question of greed with them as to how much they can make, and they care not what becomes of the Empire, or of anything else, so long as they can enrich themselves.’ I realize that a British population is needed in the Transvaal, and that we should adopt every course that will tend to establish there men and women of our own race. We should also adopt every course that is fair and right to prevent an inferior race from being forced upon the people of that Colony. Dr. Jameson, the Premier of Cape Colony, has, on behalf of the people of that country, entered a strong protest against the introduction of these inferior races. He was the lieutenant of the late Cecil Rhodes, who has often been placed in the same category as the great capitalists who are now seeking to bring Chinese labour into the Transvaal. But,, having read his life, my own impression is that, if he were living to-day, there would be no stronger opponent of the introduction of Chinese to the Rand than the same Cecil Rhodes. If there was one thing which characterized that man more than another, it was his British spirit and his determination that South Africa should be peopled by men and women of the British race. In all he did he had that one idea before him. When he saw that the conditions under which people lived in the more thicklypopulated parts of Great Britain, rendered impossible the development of the stalwart Britisher who might be reared in South Africa, the one great thought in his mind was to make of the uplands of Africa a new Britain, a place where the race might expand and find room for development. Honorable members may view his actions as they please. I know there are those who have looked upon him as the man who was really behind all these things. I speak of him not because I knew him, but because I believe I have obtained some insight into his real character and aspirations. He was a man who sought wealth, but not for himself. Honorable members are aware from their knowledge of the terms of his will how he sought to bring the Anglo-Saxon races together. He did not despise wealth as some of us do, or pretend to do - because I do not think many of us really despise it, or would object to be millionaires. I know there is a tendency to look upon the maker of money as a person of inferior character, and what I desire to say is that, whilst Cecil Rhodes sought wealth, his idea was to use it for the purpose of securing the hinterland of South Africa, and peopling it with British subjects. He took a foremost hand in the consolidation of the De Beers mine, and) consulting with others in seeking to accomplish that consolidation, the one thing about which he fought longest was that there should be included in the constitution of the consolidation a provision that he should be permitted to use ^500,000 of their money for the purpose of extending British influence and power in South Africa. He acomplished his purpose in that, and in so doing largely extended the influence of the British race in that country. I say at once that I do not think the motion proposed by the honorable member for Bland is strong enough. I have drafted an amendment which, though it is not as strongly worded as I should like, is more emphatic than the one proposed by the honorable member for. Lang. I do not say that I shall move it, because to do so might be to elicit differences of opinion, and what I chiefly desire is that we should be unanimous in this matter. The motion submitted by the honorable member for Bland is silent on the point, but I presume that if carried it will be communicated to the British Government, and I desire that there shall go from this House the expression of an unanimous opinion representing the views of the Australian people.
– From both Houses.
– Yes, I desire that the opinion of Parliament shall be given expression to unanimously. I prefer to accept the motion as it stands, rather than that there should be any division or any difference of opinion expressed. If I were assured that it would be accepted without a division I should prefer that the motion take the following form : -
That this House records its opinion that the proposed introduction of indentured Chinese labour into the Transvaal is_ fraught with peril to the Empire, and sincerely hopes it will not be carried into effect.
Whilst there is nothing dictatorial in that - and I should make the motion stronger but for that consideration - I think it would be a better amendment of the orignial motion than that which has been moved by the honorable member for Lang. I should like to say that, so far as the suggested referendum is concerned, I do not believe that a true expression of public opinion can always be secured by that means. I doubt whether under existing conditions it would be possible to get the true opinion of the people of the Transvaal if a referendum upon this question were taken there. I am not sure that by means of their wealth certain persons in the Colony would not be able to carry a referendum in favour of the proposal. I take up the position that we are against the introduction of Chinese into the Transvaal, even though a referendum should be carried in favour of it. I am against it, because it is a danger to the Empire and to the British people, and will prevent us from using that land as we might use it, for the expansion of our own race. I am unable to move an amendment until that which is already before the Chair is disposed of ; but if the honorable member for Bland could see his way to accept the motion in the form I suggest, I should be very pleased. I have made these remarks because I am essentially a Britisher. I was in favour of the Transvaal war, not for the purpose of helping capitalists to exploit the country and crush down our own people, but because I believed we might use the country for the expansion of the British race. I have given mv reasons in support of the object of the motion, and I still think that the form I suggest, being stronger, would be better than the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Lang.
– I shall have much pleasure’ in recording my vote in favour of the motion. I do trust that when we are all desirous of speaking unanimously on this question we shall not split upon little matters in regard to the form of the motion.
– The Parliament can only speak unanimously by adopting the motion moved by the honorable member for Bland, because a motion in that form has been adopted by the Senate.
– That is so. I believe the other branch of the Legislature has already accepted unanimously a motion in the terms of that proposed by the honorable member for Bland. Although I do not mind confessing that I have some little sympathy with the suggestion to make it a little stronger, I am of opinion that unanimity should not be sacrificed for the minor consideration of mere form. Setting an example in sinking my own views as to the matter of form, I trust that every honorable member will do likewise, knowing that an unanimous expression of opinion on the subject, without any division as to form, is bound to carry much greater weight than if we were to dissipate our forces and minimise our influence by dividing upon a question of the strength of verbal expression. I venture to think that the subject now engaging our attention is one of the utmost importance It has been engaging considerable attention elsewhere, and by to-day’s cables we see that the action of the Imperial Government in this connexion is likely to form the subject of a no-confidence debate at the instance of the leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons. If we do feel strongly upon this subject as a people, we ought not to exhibit any chariness in expressing our views. There is hardly a motion to which I ever gave my adherence with greater pleasure than that upon which I hope to be able to record my vote to-day. I should like here to say that I congratulate the Government upon the action they have taken in the matter. It has been said that they should be blamed for not getting in before the Premier of New Zealand, Mr. Seddon. All I can say is that, as regards matters of Australasian concern, I hope there will be no paltry rivalry between the States. I venture to say tha’t Mr. Seddon commands the entire respect of the Australasian democracy, and to follow him is nothing to be ashamed of. He is a leader behind whom any Australian democrat might be proud, indeed, to march. We know that of late years in Australasian history he has time and again led the van, and in a way which we all have reason to be proud of. I say all honour to him for the work he has accomplished, and in which he has taken the lead.
– He has often gone backwards, and called it progress.
– I do not think anything of the sort. I say that the career of Mr. Seddon is a glorious one in the records of Australasian democracy, and I again say all honor to him. It is a happy day when we find both the Government of the Commonwealth and the Government of New Zealand co-operating in the way in which they are now doing upon a subject which demands the best attention of the Australasian democracy. We are all familiar with the history of the South African war, and the part which New Zealand and Australia were permitted to take in it. We did what we could, and we did what we should have done. We took part in that war for the honour and glory of the old country, and on the suggestion that it was necessary for the further liberty and enfranchisement of white men in South Africa. We never for a moment dreamt that the result of any hostilities to which we might become parties would be, not the enfranchisement of white men, but their further degradation.
– “ My country, right or wrong.” According to that doctrine, we ought to have fought in any case, England having declared war.
– I hold that view. May my country ever be in the right; but my country, right or wrong ! Under circumstances such as those at the commencement of that war, for us to have adopted any other course would have been a. meanness of which no Australian could be capable.
– Even if we had known that the authorities were going to import Chinamen ?
– If we had known that the result of the war was to be, not the enfranchisement of the white Uitlander - it might be, of the Australian-born residing in South Africa - but his further deprivation of power, and his practical expulsion from the country, through his being denied an opportunity to earn his daily bread there, I venture to think that there are many who would have rightly held the responsible authorities to a policy for the encouragement of the enterprise of white people, before Australian blood was shed, and Australian treasure spent in upholding the name of the Empire in South Africa. To give a preference to an alien over a British subject, to substitute Chinamen for white British workers, and to deny the latter opportunities for employment, is inimical to the best interests of the Empire. Something has been said about this being an Imperial question, and it being necessary, therefore, that we should be careful about expressing our views upon it. If it be an Imperial question, let us treat it as such. As an Imperial question, every part of the Empire is concerned in it, and Australia has a right to speak, and to continue to speak as she has commenced, in protest against this indignity to her people, for the benefit of capitalists who care nought except for the profit that they may make out of their enterprises, and of Chinese whose views are foreign to our hopes of British supremacy, and of British honour and glory. We are familiar with the history of the South African war. I recollect the first telegram that was- sent from Australia when, provoked by a message from a foreign potentate to Kruger on the failure of the Jameson raid, expression was given, through the usual channel, to the Australian hope that Great Britain would do whatever was necessary to maintain her honour and dignity, and to the promise that she could rely with confidence upon Australian sympathy and support. I think that that telegram was properly sent, and that our action afterwards followed consistently. Australia has no reason to be ashamed of her part and concern in the hostilities which took place, but she has deep and grievous cause to be disappointed at the Imperial reception of proposals which can have but one effect. To prefer, for the sake of private greed, Chinese aliens to white British subjects meansthe loss of the realization of the hopes rightly entertained by the members of the Empire, that those who assisted the mother country, the people of Australia among them, would not be given practically the option to starve in South Africa, or hopeless of work, to leave the place where they should receive preferential consideration. In this country in respect to which Britain has so benevolently expressed herself, even the wages paid to the aboriginal blacks, which are little enough - £4 per month - are to be reduced, and their labour displaced by that of Chinese aliens brought in to take the bread out of their mouths, while people of our own race, seeking for work, are starving in the various ports. Opportunity for employment is being taken from our own people and given to others, who have no claim upon the British Government as members of the Empire: it is being taken from British subjects and given to Chinamen, who own no allegiance to the Grown. What is undoubtedly the proper course in connexion with the South African question? As a guarantee for the- future peace of the land, settle it with loyal British subjects, with people to whom the Empire can look for support and defence in time of stress and trouble. Do you tell me that in such a state of things the Chinaman - introduced under circumstances which make him a slave or a serf in the land, since he is tied down to the confines of a certain block, to work there for a certain time, and restricted from going beyond a distance of, I think, a mile, afterwards to be sent home again - guarantees a loyal resident population ready to support the British flag should the occasion again arise? Nothing of the sort. It seems to me that the thing is intolerable. I feel that, if this attempt, to introduce Chinese is persisted in to a successful consummation, there will be a residue of bitterness in the minds of those who know and reflect upon the circumstances.. They will come to the conclusion that, however much Britain appreciates the assistance of her sons in time of need, she forgets in the piping times of peace the preference due to those who help her, as Australians have helped her in South Africa, and turns to Chinese aliens, who have no claim upon her, to . men who will never give her loyal allegiance, and are incapable of rendering that assistance which she has received in the past from her sons, and will obtain again in time of need. It is difficult to ascertain the precise particulars of the position, but I have had placed in my hands extracts from articles appearing in the Launceston Examiner of the 5th March, and the West Australian of the 19th February. I acknowledge the kindness of the Government in this matter. In those articles we have particulars from Australians who have been to South Africa, who tell us shortly what the trouble is. It is undoubtedly that, whereas the blacks were getting the magnificent wage of £4 a month, there has been an attempt to reduce it ; and as they are not prepared to submit to a reduction, the old dodge of bringing in Chinese is being resorted to. We have a right to speak plainly upon the subject of Chinese labour. Have we not tried it? Has not every State had more or less experience of it? What is the result? The very worst. The standard of civilization introduced has been altogether too low for Australian sentiment, and the Chinese have been legislated against by every State, while further legislation against, them has been passed without any real dissent by the Commonwealth Parliament. . I do not hesitate to say that the established policy of the . Australian Commonwealth is, . as was the .established policy of every
Australian State before Federation, the exclusion of the Chinese and other undesirable races. I will quote now from the West Australian qf the 19th February -
Referring to the great labour trouble, the proposed importation of Chinese, Mr. Petersen said it had aroused intense and determined opposition amongst the masses. The position, he said, is this : - “Very few of the mines have resumed operations since the war, and those which have started are working short-handed. In the past the owners have employed hordes of blacks, who were paid £n per month each, and were housed in compounds and supplied with rations, that is, mealies. The employers wished to cut down the monthly wage, but the independent blacks objected.”
We know that the desire to procure labour as cheaply as possible frequently results in attempted reductions of wages, and here we have the cause of the trouble in South Africa. Mr. Petersen continues -
As a matter of fact, there is little necessity for them to work, for in their villages they can grow sufficient maize to keep them supplied with food. Finding that their proposed economy was not well .received, the owners asserted that they could not secure sufficient black labour to keep the mines going, and so the importation of Chinese was mooted. The scheme drawn up provided for the importation of an initial batch of 10,000 Chinamen to be housed in compounds further than a mile from which they were -not to stray. The wage to be paid was 17s. 6d. per month, and at the end of the contract they were to be re-shipped home.
Now think of it, 17 s. 6d. a month - ^46 1 os. per annum.
– Are the men supplied with food as well?
– Then what is the difference between their case and that of the English sailor, who receives practically the same wage?
– Does the honorable member contend that there should be an uniform wage of 17s. 6d. per month?
– I am merely asking what is the difference between the wages proposed and those now paid to British seamen ?
– The rates paid to British seamen differ a great deal. In some cases the wages are very low, whilst in others, on Australian ships, for instance-
– I am not speaking of Australian ships, but of those which sail from the ports of the United Kingdom. The right honorable and learned gentleman is ridiculing ^4 a month as a wage, whilst, as a matter of fact, English sailors receive only about that rate of pay.
– Then they ought to get more.
– That is only the right honorable gentleman’s opinion.
– I can only express my opinion. I hope that I do not attempt to express other people’s opinions.
– The wages paid to the natives in the gold mines in the Transvaal are 42s., and not £4 per month. I have the authority of the Johannesburg Chamber of Mines for that.
- Mr. Petersen’s statement continues as follows : -
The publication of the scheme gave birth immediately to the bitterest, well-deserved opposition. The labour organizations fought it tooth and nail ; the huge masses of unemployed asked where they came in, and were told that the mines could only be run with cheaper labour than they could supply, and the affrighted public was up in arms. The three Johannesburg papers were unanimous in. condemning it, and joined in asserting that once the Chinamen came into the country they would never be repatriated, but would eventually overrun . the other industries. The press opposition ended suddenly, however, and after three editors had resigned rather than change their convictions on the subject, the erstwhile newspaper opponents of the scheme became its warmest supporters. At about the same time Mr. Creswell, the manager of the Village Main Reef Gold Mining Company, spoke out in opposition to the importation of Chinese. He informed the Native Labour Commission that the mine-owners were opposed to the employment of white labour for political reasons, and wrote home to the Board of Directors for permission to make a trial of white labour for surface work. He received a reply from the Chairman of Directors, and, on giving it to the labour organization for publication, he was dismissed. The letter was published in pamphlet form, and the following is taken from it : - “ I (the Chairman of Directors) have consulted the Consolidated Gold-fields people, and one of the members of the Board of the Village Main Reef has consulted Mesrs. Wernher, Beit, and Co., and the feeling seems to be one of fear that if a large number of white men are employed on the Rand, the same troubles will arise as are now prevalent in the Australian Colonies, i.e., that the combination of the labouring classes will become so strong as to be able to more or less dictate, not only on questions of wages, but also on political questions, by the power of their votes when a representative government is established.” This, continued Mr. Petersen, seems to explain the whole difficulty, with, of course, the fact that’ Chinese labour is so much cheaper than white labour. The capitalists are afraid of the men eventually forming unions and organizing to protect themselves. It certainly explains the enmity shown towards Australians. Since landing, I have gathered that the general opinion here is that Australians are condemned on account of their excesses in the South African war. That is not correct. Of course the Australians were guilty of excesses -
I think that remains to be proved- but so were the other troops. The Dutch people I came in contact with expressed admiration for the sterling qualities of the average Australian - his bushmanship, bravery^ and hardihood. I have often heard it said that Australians generally would not be condemned for the larrikinism of individuals, and if there was any resentment harbored, it would be shown as much towards Canadians and Englishmen as Australians. The cause of the difficulty is that Australians, after settling down, would seek to assert their civil rights, and, as they have a name for being agitators and considerable dabblers in politics, the employers fear them and the power they would wield. Unfortunately, there is every prospect of the intentions of the mineowners being carried out. With a population of Chinese workers, the outlook of South’ Africa seems very dark indeedSimilar impressions which were made upon a Tasmanian, Mr. Harry Goodluck, who recently returned from a visit to South Africa, are recorded in the Launceston Examiner of 5th March last. It seems to me that the position is this. Weare debating an Imperial question, in which we are interested as members of the Empire. Further, by the part we took in the South African war, we showed that we considered that the matter was one of Imperial concern. To-day we hear little or nothing of that which was talked of so much at the time’ of the commencement of the war, namely,’ the enfranchisement of the Uitlanders.I But this petition, is presented for our consideration. Numbers of Australians and numbers of other British subjects are in South Africa, desirous to obtain work and unable to find it. How is this? An attempt is being made to supply what is declared to be the want of the mine-owners in respect to labour. To whom is the opportunity to be given? Can it be credited that the proposals sought to be enforced are these? No work for the Australian or other Britisher. He has little chance now ; but his case is to be aggravated, and he is to be denied the opportunity to obtain work at a fair wage, in order to make way, not for British subjects, but for aliens- who have proved themselves to be undesirable residents in a country such as this, whose’ customs generally are not likely to lead to the permanent development of British resources or to the security of British ‘supremacy - men who own no allegiance to the British Crown, and who are neither by nature nor disposi-.tion able or willing to render it adequate support in time of need. I say that it will be a calamity if such a purpose is effected. Disappointment and bitterness are aroused in many ways, and most of all by ingratitude. Are we to permit Australian services - to be rendered again as freely, I ‘hope, in time of need- to be .forgotten? Shall we sit silent here and make no protest? I thank the Government for what they have done, and I am glad, indeed, to find that we are fortunate enough in this matter to have the co-operation of the great Colony of New Zealand. I am glad that the motion has been moved, because I think that we should tender the Government our hearty approval of their every word and action. I hope that to-day will not pass before the agreement of both Houses of the Commonwealth Parliament on this subject has been completed and flashed to the four corners of the earth, so that there can be no room for doubt about Australian sentiment. There may be a dispute about the matter of form, but not as to our sentiment. Our hearts are warm, and the only constitutional way that is open to us is to give expression by the passing of this resolution to the sentiments which .animate us, and which come from the bottom of our hearts. So may the world learn that Australia speaks with no two voices on this subject, but with one outburst of approval of the action of the Government.
– I think it is when we come- to deal with questions of this character that we are led to appreciate the consideration which English statesmen have always exhibited towards expressions of opinion bv politicians in the various Colonies. There is no doubt that if the Imperial authorities answered us according to our folly their replies would be very severe indeed. Nothing commands my admiration of those English statesmen, who for so many years have been connected with the affairs of these States, more than the uniform courtesy and considerateness which they have evinced in all their official communications, quite regardless of the tone in which our representations to them have been couched. Probably they are conscious that in the Colonies nien have not an opportunity to learn what diplomatic language really is, and consequently make some allowance for the fact that men here are unable to express their views with that temperateness which, in diplomatic circles, is considered absolutely necessary. I entirely disagree with the view which is entertained by a majority of honorable members, that we ought to raise an objection to what is taking place in another part of the’’ Empire. At the same time I must say that the tone of the Prime Minister’s despatch showed a better acquaintance with the language that is both necessary and usual in the diplomatic world, than is evidenced in the motion which is now proposed. The former was couched in language to which, provided we admit that interference is justifiable no offence could be taken ; the latter employs terms, which, though very definite, are, in my opinion, equally offensive. We ought to remember that, whilst expressing ourselves strongly upon any matter, we should not put forward our views in as aggressive a way as we probably should in ordinary conversation. When we place upon record, as we seek to do to-day, language such as this motion contains, we are trespassing far beyond our province. In the first place we have been told that this is an Imperial question, and arguments have been advanced to justify our action upon that ground. We have been assured that the introduction of Chinese into the Transvaal is an entirely new departure - in other words, that there are no Chinese in the British Empire. What a ludicrous supposition ! And what a want of knowledge such a statement betrays upon the part of those who advance it ! I was very much surprised to hear the right honorable member for Adelaide discussing this question as one of wages, as if we are called upon to interfere in a matter of that sort. If it be merely a question of wages that is involved, where is the warrant for our interference upon grounds of Imperialism ? To interfere in outside affairs because a certain wage is not paid in this or that portion of the Empire is to get away entirely from the Imperial idea.
– That ground has not been advanced.
– The right honorable member for Adelaide advanced it, and the honorable member for ;Bland himself treated us to a good many quotations and figures bearing upon the rate of wages paid in the Transvaal.
– Merely with a view lo proving that white labour can be profitably employed there.
– The grounds of his objection prove that the question is essentially a local one ; so much so that he urged we should wait until a referendum of the white population of that Colony had been taken upon it, or until responsible government had been granted to’ it. I presume, therefore, that the whole of his objections will disappear the moment either of these propositions is assented to. How can this possibly be an Imperial question if it can be treated in that way? The number of Chinese scattered throughout the British Empire is now very large indeed, and . apparently we are to protest merely because there is a transference of some of them from one part of that Empire to another. For aught that we know to the contrary, the labourers whom it is proposed to introduce into South Africa may be British subjects, who will be transported from Singapore or Hong Kong.
– Is the honorable and learned member in favour of ChineseBritish subjects entering Australia?
– That is a local question, upon which we have a perfect right to express our opinion, and we have done so very emphatically. I hold that we have no title to voice our views upon a matter which is altogether outside our jurisdiction, and I intend to submit an amendment to that effect. To my mind, every one of the grounds which have been urged in support of the motion show that the question involved is purely a local one. The honorable member for Bland declares that his opposition to the proposed influx of Chinese into South Africa will disappear when a referendum has been taken upon the subject, or responsible government has been granted.
– I stated that my opposition would not disappear then, but that I would not be. justified in urging my objection.
– I consider that there is only one stand-point from which we can regard this as an Imperial question, and that concerns the Chinese as much as it does ourselves.
– Oh, no.
– Yes. I say that the introduction of Chinese in any compound in this way is merely a form of modified slavery, and whilst it is allowed to continue it is a menace to the Empire itself. The people who are directly interested in this matter have not declared that it is modified slavery.
– They have not yet had an opportunity of saying anything.
– We are attempting to deal with the question without having a full knowledge, of the local circumstances. Of course, if a strong Chinese Government were in power, we might approach them by pointing out that it is undesirable that a large number of Chinese should enter into contracts which seem, to us, to be forms of modified slavery. But the honorable member for Bland did not urge any such objection. He dealt with the matter as if it were one affecting wages only.
– That is utterly foreign to anything that I said.
– If that be so, the honorable member must omit from his motion the words -
Until a referendum of the white population of the Colony has been taken on the subject, or responsible government is granted.
Again, I should like to ask what our feelings would have been if Great Britain, through its Parliament, had forwarded any protest to us with reference to the deportation of kanakas? I can readily picture the manner in which many of the supporters of this motion would have received it. Yet it is just as competent for other parts of the Empire to interfere in our affairs, as it is for us to interfere in theirs. I should like to ask what reception would have been given to any message from the Imperial Government, protesting against the legislation enacted by Queensland in reference to the recruiting of Pacific islanders for the sugar industry ?
– The Imperial Government stopped recruiting in the islands.
– Can the -supporters of this motion assure me that they, would have quietly accepted a communication from the Imperial Government couched in the same language? No. They would immediately have exclaimed - “ How offensive it is in tone. What has England to do with the matter? We are quite competent to judge of our local conditions, and we resent interference from outside.” I hold that we should not interfere in a matter of this sort. It is, as we know., customary for missionaries to. travel round the world preaching the gospel, of peace and goodwill, but now it seems that some of my honorable friends desire to preach the doctrine of aggressiveness and interference. If we are to go outside our own affairs, let us’ employ the language of men who are powerless to enforce our opinions. Otherwise, our communication will represent mere words from an empty stomach - bombast - and there is too much bombast displayed by us. Indeed, it is characteristic of all young nations that when they endeavour to express dissent, they use language which, if employed between two great powers, would probably result in war. If there is a diplomatic vocabulary - as there undoubtedly is - ought not this House to appoint one or two of its members to become acquainted with it ? If our protest were expressed in polite terms it would be none the less clear and distinct. It appears to me that considerations of courtesy are entirely set aside by the form in which the motion is presented to us. I feel that the arguments adduced in support of the motion are the best proofs that honorable members are endeavouring to deal with it, not from an Imperial, but from a purely local stand-point. We have throughout had references to the wages paid in the Transvaal, and to the displacement of white men by Chinese. There are 250,000 whites there, as against 750,000 blacks, and we are asked to enter into a racial question and to determine, from an ethnological point of view, whether Chinese or negroes are superior. To the .surprise of every one possessing any knowledge of ethnology, it is suggested that blacks are preferable to Chinese.
– So they are.
– I do not object to the honorable member holding that opinion ; but I would advise him not to express it, because he will find that every one who knows anything about the subject will disagree with him.
– The point is that the blacks own the country, while the Chinese do not.
– I was under the impression that the Rand, into which it is proposed to introduce Chinese labour, was entirely owned by Caucasian races.
– What about the Jews?
– The Semitic section of the community may own a portion of it, but it is unnecessary for me to deal with that phase of the question. What I wish to know is whether the Labour Party are setting themselves up as champions of the native population. Their arguments would seem to suggest that they are. If the blacks are such a desirable people - if they are so far ahead of Chinese that the mere introduction of the latter into the Transvaal would contaminate them, I presume that honorable members of the Labour Party would allow negro races to come into Australia?
– We do not exclude our own aboriginal races.
– We shall see how the Labour Party regard this matter when the Bill relating to the administration of New
Guinea comes before us. One of the arguments that I used against the taking over of New Guinea by the Commonwealth was that we might have to deal with a large coloured population there, and I believe that the honorable member for Grampians, who followed me on the occasion in question, expressed the same opinion. I presume, however, that honorable members of the Labour Party have decided that the natives of New Guinea should be allowed to enter Australia.
– We shall permit them .to exist in their own country.
– Just because it is not politic at present to poison them off?
– Does the honorable and learned member suggest that we should poison them?
– I am not in a position to make any suggestion regarding the matter. I am merely criticising the action of the Labour Party. The arguments used in support of this motion have all been to the effect that the Chinese are infinitely inferior to the black races. If I were in the British Parliament I would admit that I cannot imagine how English statesmen could have fallen into such a serious error as has been made. It seems to me that at all costs, even had it been necessary for them to give large subsidies, they should have endeavoured to introduce a large white population into the Transvaal - to . permanently settle, and thus to permanently conquer it. At present they have to keep an army of some 21,000 men there. No price would be too high to pay to secure the settlement of a large number of white men and their families in the Transvaal, provided that the country is worth having. But the authorities have entirely departed from that principle, and have fallen into a most grievous error. When I recall to my mind the fact that the man then at the head of affairs is a mere politician rather than a statesman, I am not surprised. In determining whether a man, despite his cleverness and his trickiness or flashness of style, is a mere politician rather than a statesman, one has always to look at the results of his policy. Judged by that test the very man whom the Government of the Commonwealth are anxious to invite to Australia, the one whom they regard as a distinguished statesman; has lamentably failed. He is -the real author of the present trouble. Without his consent and approbation, and in the absence of the class of men appointed by him to administer the government of the . Transvaal, the difficulty could not have happened. Knowing all these facts, however, the Government propose to invite him to Australia, possibly to convert the Labour Party on . this very subject. The Government may believe that he is likely .to be able to explain all these matters for us, but from the point of view of an English statesman, a fatal mistake has been made. Notwithstanding this opinion, I believe the matter is one in which we have no right to interfere. It is purely a local question. It is simply a question of whether blacks or Chinese shall be allowed to work in the mines. The way in which the question of wages has been discussed by various honorable members shows that they regard it in this light. I was astounded to hear the right honorable member for Adelaide deal with the matter in the same. way. In the southern part of Africa there are something like 800,000 whites and some 4,000,000 blacks, and we are asked to enter into the consideration of a racial question. If the Labour Partyhad objected to the introduction of Chinese on the ground that there should not be any form of slavery in the British dominions, their attitude would have seemed to be more in accordance with the idea of Empire ; but even if that were the position, it would be a matter for the people concerned and not for us to determine. The very men who should have the best, knowledge of the subject, and who, -at all events, give free expression to their opinions upon it, assert that these workers are quite content to go to the Transvaal, and are pleased, indeed, to have the opportunity.
– The honorable and learned member is now arguing the question which h& contends we should not deal with.
– I admit that I am ex- . pressing my opinion upon it, but my point is that, whilst we, -as individuals may hold and freely express these views,’ the matter is not one that should be dealt with by the’ House itself. It is outside 0111 jurisdiction. We are opening the door to all sorts of interference with the Commonwealth. We may have a somewhat similar resolution passed by the Canadian or the New Zealand Parliament in reference to some action of our own.
– If it is a good one we shall not object to it.
– If it dealt with a matter that we considered to be of purely local concern the Labour Party would be the very first to condemn it in unmeasured terms.
– But this, is not a matter of mere local concern.
– We should not interfere with other parts of the Empire unless we wish to be interfered with. 1 should be almost pleased if the Home Government, departing tor once from that courtesy with which it has always dealt with fussy interferences by different parts of the Empire, gave us a well administered snub. Those who support this motion would richly deserve such a snub; but if it were given we should probably have a motion submitted to the House drawing attention to the language used by the Colonial Office.
– And the honorable and learned member would support it.
– It is because I would resent any interference, however well meant, on the part of the British Government, or the Government of any other part of the Empire, in regard to a matter of local con- cern, that I object to any interference by us.
– Is not this a matter of national concern ?
– It has been treated simply as a matter of wages.
– That is a misstatement of fact.
– Then let us assume that it is a question of Empire. Will the honorable member say that we have a right to declare in what part of the world the 280,000,000 of black races, and the many Chinese now in the Empire shall reside?
– But we are now speaking of aliens.
– Then the honorable member would not object to the introduction of Chinese if they were British subjects ?
– I did not say that.
– Then we are indulging in a mere exchange of words. Surely honorable members consider that we. ought not to interfere in a matter of this kind, and that if we do we should at least couch our protest in diplomatic language.
– In the language of a vigorous nation.
– But the terms of this motion go beyond anything of the kind. Offensiveness- is not vigour, and when we have no power to give effect to our desires we must rest content with an expression of our opinion. If a man said to me, outside the House - “ I have a very grave objection to this or that opinion, expressed by you,” he would learn that there was a great deal in the way in which he put his objection.
– If the argument is a good one, it ought to be enforced.
-Quite so; but, if a man came to me and said in a courteous way - “ I cannot agree with what you have done ; do you think that you have acted in the best interests of all?” I should be prepared to listen to him. Even if we had the strength to enforce our desires, it would . be doubly necessary that we should be courteous. 1 have known men to express their opinions in the strongest terms in this House, and yet to speak very quietly on the same subject when outside. They know that the other side cannot retaliate, and, therefore, in common fairness, they must give the other side a chance to express their opinions.
– Is not that a mistake? Mr. CONROY.- To that interjection 1 would reply -
O, it is excellent
To have a giant’s strength, but it is tyrannous
To use it like a giant.
We are interfering with another part of the Empire, but we have not the strength to give effect to our desire. If we had, it would be doubly incumbent upon us to be courteous ; otherwise, it might be thought that - we were threatening instead of suggesting. We can do no more than offer a suggestion. I submit that the tone of the motion is bad. It is couched in too severe terms. It may express what honorable members individually feel, but it is not couched in proper language. To say. that the question of substituting Chinese labour for black is an Imperial question is a ludicrous misstatement of simple facts. We ignore the fact that there are so many Chinese throughout the British Empire, and that it may be British subjects of Chinese or Mongolian extraction who are wanted in the Transvaal. We are not in a proper position to discuss this question ; and even if we were in possession of the full facts I consider that it is outside the province of the House, and ought not to be interfered with. Therefore, I propose to ask honorable members to resolve -
That this House is of opinion that it would be impolitic to interfere with matters outside its jurisdiction.
– There is an amendment already .before the Chair, and until it has been, disposed of I cannot accept the amendment of the honorable and learned member.
– I am always very glad to hear the honorable member for Werriwa, especially on a question on which his reading has been very wide. I respect his opinion that we should not desire to interfere with Imperial matters, or to dictate or seem to dictate, to even the smallest community that is either selfgoverning or is governed by the Imperial authorities, through a Council or otherwise. But on this occasion he has not shown his usual acuteness, because I can find no trace of dictation in the motion. No direction is sought to be given to any one to transmit the resolution of the House to any person, nor would any person be authorized to transmit it to any Government, British or otherwise. Therefore, I have been at a loss to understand how it can involve an Imperial question.
– Is it to be merely a resolution “ full of sound and fury, and signifying nothing?”
– How can the honorable and learned member say that it will be a barren resolution? If the two Houses of this Parliament, elected on the broadest possible franchise in the British Dominions should, immediately after the elections, pass a resolution on this subject-
– It would be misleading to use the words “ immediately after the elections,” because this .question was not debated at the elections.
– If I were to say that it was debated during the elections, it would be misleading, but it is not misleading to say that the question is being dealt with immediately after a new House has assembled, and that the action of the Transvaal Council, indorsed by the Imperial Government, is one which no considerable body in Australia can indorse in any way. Our experience has been such that we are particularly competent to offer an opinion on the question of employing Chinese on gold-fields, and if such a resolution be passed by each House of this Parliament and recorded in its proceedings, it will undoubtedly help those who believe with us, and I hope, with many others, that the Ordinance will never become operative. Where does the Imperialistic idea come in ? The honorable member for Richmond used a very able argument, with which I would quite agree if we were attempting to dictate to the Imperial Government, or to the Government of any British possession. But I hold that we are not doing so. In passing the motion, we simply convey our opinion to civilized countries, and especially to that large body of people in Great Britain, who will very shortly have an opportunity of electing to a new House of Commons men who will be able to speak with an emphatic voice on this great question. I do not look for much help from the Imperial Government. I doubt whether the best way to appeal to the British public is through the medium of the Cabinet. Why should we appeal to the Imperial Government to undo a thing which they have done? I should strongly object to a resolution of this House being sent to the Imperial Government, as they have advised the King to assent to the Ordinance of the Transvaal Colony. Undoubtedly, His Majesty, following the usual course, would take the advice of his Ministers. The objection of the honorable member for Werriwa ought to disappear when he finds that the motion is not a peremptory direction from this House to the British Government to give further consideration to the Ordinance. .
– If it is not to be sent, or made use of, I do not know why we should be discussing it.
– I disagree with the honorable and learned member. I have publicly expressed my opinion that this is the very course which we should take. We have had long and. painful experience, and we are bound, at every possible opportunity, to give public expression to our view - which may be useful to British people in other parts of the world - that their action, however conscientious and well-meant, cannot have the good effect which they desire, but will be inimical to themselves and to the best interests of the British race. The expression of that opinion must carry weight.
– Through what channel does the honorable member expect the resolution to reach British people?
– Through that, great channel - the press. Undoubtedly the action of the Senate in passing a resolution has spurred on the leader of the Opposition in the Imperial Parliament, and caused him to move a motion of want of confidence in the Government.
– They are making use of the resolution for party purposes.
– That is inevitable. There is no doubt that every action of this Parliament, every action of each member of this Parliament, has more or less influence on any by-election. But the honorable member should not seek to restrain our action for fear that it might be useful for political purposes. That would be ‘ an erroneous position to take up. I desire to bear my testimony to the ability, refinement, and force which the Prime Minister displayed in his great oration. I am sure that we, each and all of us, desire that the Parliament of this Commonwealth should approach a question of this magnitude in such a way that its leader has no reason to fear a comparison with any other Parliament. I believe that we are all actuated by a desire to sound a note of warning to our fellow-countrymen. The honorable member for Wilmot will agree with me, I think, that the motion has not been brought forward for political reasons only. It cannot be urged that we are simply moving m the interests of a particular party. It was with the greatest regret that I read some time ago that a misrepresentation, wilful or otherwise, has been used by the Transvaal magnates in their endeavour to create a public opinion favorable to the introduction of Chinese. It has been represented that Australia has benefited largely from the development of its gold mines by Chinese labour. No person who knows anything of our mining industry can indorse that statement for a moment.
– Most of our Chinese are in the benevolent institutions.
– How was it possible for the mine-owners to get evidence placed before the Commission which would enable that body to declare that it was a fact that the Australian mines had been largely developed by Chinese labour, and that ;hey themselves desired some facilities for the development of the Transvaal mines?
– I do not believe that a single Chinaman has been employed in the mines of Western Australia.
– That remark only proves that not only the people of Great Britain, but the people in the Transvaal, have been misled by a misrepresentation of ‘affairs in Australia.
– It is only lately that English people have got a notion of where Australia is on the map.
– The honorable member has suggested a good reason why we should embrace this opportunity of placing before the English people a correction of a misrepresentation, which might otherwise be further used to our disadvantage, and to the disadvantage of the people in the Transvaal. I am sure that we should all be ashamed to learn that it had been stated in the House of Commons and on the public platforms of Great Britain, that the minesof Australia had Been developed by means of Chinese labour. I hope that that misstatement will not be repeated during the coming contest in the old country. I desire to express my extreme regret that in debating questions of this kind we are apt to forget the great principles which were mentioned by the honorable member for Werriwa and the Prime Minister. It seems that we are getting away from the idea of having a free people living in reasonable circumstances and enjoying a fair degreeof pleasure and comfort, and are going to consider the bare idea of whether a certain thing will pay or not. If an action can be justified on that ground the greatest injustice which has ever been. perpetrated on a people could be justified. It has been claimed by one class that it will not pay to develop the Transvaal mines by highly paid labour, and that, therefore, they should be allowed to bring in a servile class of labour with the mere idea of making money. But that, I submit, is not a justifiable course for any civilized people to take. The destruction of the native race is surely sufficient to induce conscientious British people to intervene, without attempting to firing from another country a class of labourers who are to be penned in and hemmed in, in a worse manner, by means of regulations and enactments, than was done by any Act that was ever passed for controlling the slaves in the United States of America. -Can we, as British people, justify a policy like that? Are we not just as much entitled to make a protest against anything of that kind as against real slavery in any part of the British Empire? There are questions that rise above party considerations, and in which. we who have entered into the Imperial bond, and* who are proud of our freedom-loving British institutions, must take an active interest. This is one of them. I would never be 3 party to permitting the bringing into a country of any class of human beings for the purpose of yarding them, and prescribing that they shall not be allowed to go beyond the radius of a certain compound. There is no nation in the world that has a greater claim to credit for the emancipation of the slaves than the British. Yet this treatment is to be permitted to be meted out to the Chinese for the purpose of making a few paltry pounds of profit, not for the benefit of the people who are on the verge of destitution in Great Britain - not for those ten millions in the British Isles who cannot tell whether they will have a decent meal to eat the day after to-morrow - but to increase the wealth and the power and the profit of those who are already’ living in luxury.
– And foreigners at that.
– Whether they are foreigners or not is nothing to me. The object of this policy is to increase the wealth of people who are wealthy enough already, and who have enough power in Great Britain already - people who have by their acts and their influence on British policy during the past ten years done more to damage the prestige of the British Empire than have those other people who have been charged with that conduct. I do trust that, whatever difficulties we may have in coming to a conclusion upon this matter, the House will not be rent asunder by small amendments. I sympathize more or less with the honorable member for Werriwa in some of his complaints, but I appeal to him and to others to allow this motion to pass without amendment. If that is permitted the motion will have all the greater weight, inasmuch as it will be passed in similar terms to the motion agreed to by the Senate. The honorable member for New England thinks that the language of the motion is not severe enough. Others think that it is too severe. The honorable member for Bland thinks that it is what it ought to be.
– It is not couched in diplomatic language.
– I am glad that the only complaint the honorable and learned member has to make is in reference to the language of the motion. But he will agree with me that it will be more effective if passed in the terms adopted by another Chamber. I have already pointed out that the motion contains no direction that it shall be sent to any one. But it will have weight whether it is sent to the British Government or not. Undoubtedly, any resolution passed by a Legislative Chamber of this character will be telegraphed to every part of the world.
– Hear, hear.
– The telegrams will go away this evening. It will not be less effective if it is not telegraphed by the Prime Minister. Besides, I have a distinct 2 b objection to this motion being sent to the Imperial Government. Why not also to the leader of the Opposition in the Imperial Parliament? It is not a1 partymatter. The acting-leader of the Opposition fell into an error in saying that the Government ought to have moved the motion. The Prime Minister was under no obligation to move it.
– We put our views on the subject into the Governor-General’s Speech -r that was our part.
– The Prime Ministerhas already communicated the views of the Government. The motion will simply be a declaration that this Parliament is unanimously in favour of the views expressed by the Government before the opinion of Parliament was sought. The .Prime Minister in his speech last evening clearly proved that he had done everything that the representative of a Government could do prior to having an opportunity to bring the subject before Parliament. I would rather see the motion passed as it stands, and not have it sent by the Prime Minister, because I have a certain amount of respect for communications passing between ohe self-governing State and another. There are occasions when such communications must take place. That necessity is founded on the good old maxim that there is no rule without the exception. There is another aspect of the question that will, I think, commend itself, not only to this Parliament, but to every elector throughout the country. It is this. The Boer Governments have been suppressed, and the Boer people have been conquered. It is a reflection on ourselves that the more enlightened British Government, which suppressed what I have heard described as a horde of ignorant Boers, should in one of their first acts have done something which the Boers have never even been charged with doing.
– How long is it since the Queensland Government did the same thing in regard to the kanakas ?
– That remark shows how much the honorable member knows about the position of the party to which I belong. We have never for one moment admitted the justice of the introduction of Polynesians to Queensland, and we have never missed an opportunity, whether it paid us or not,’ to stand up against what we called ari iniquitous traffic.
– But was it not done by the Queensland Government?
– We stopped it as soon as we could. The British Government in 1884 took a very strong, dignified, and proper stand in stopping the recruiting of kanakas where it was found that the abuses were of such a -character that no British Government ought to allow them to continue. But I must not go into that matter now. I am glad that we are practically unanimous. But I should not like it to be thought that there were not in Australia a certain number of people - mining magnates and others - who approve of the introduction of the Chinese into the Transvaal, and who would not if they could introduce them into Australia. Have honorable members forgotten that some time ago one of the leading mining men in Victoria had a word to say upon this question. We have only to turn to Hansard, for last session, page 5047, to learn that Mr. Harvey Patterson, the chairman of the Mungana (Chillagoe) Mining Company, North Queensland, at a meeting of shareholders in Melbourne, as reported in the Argus of 15th September, 1903, made the statement contained in the following paragraph : -
Mr. Harvey Patterson, chairman of the Mungana (Chillagoe) Mining Company, North Queensland, echoed the general feeling when he stated at the meeting of shareholders to-day that little progress had been made in developing the different lodes on the property. But Mr. Patterson’s hearers were not prepared to find him casting the blame for this on the workers on the field, or to bring up the white labour question. However, this is what he did in the following words : - “I do not say there are not good workers on the field, but, at the same time, there is a large percentage of bad; and until these are superseded no- alteration of existing circumstances can accrue. There is no doubt the climate is against the white worker - who is simply a piece of languid animation under tropical sun and heat - and probably he cannot be blamed for being unable to bear the intense heat also in the underground workings, owing to the decomposition of the sulphide matter in the lodes. This portion of Australia could never have been intended for the European, else the climate would have been more suitable and moderate, and while the nonsensical idea of keeping the whole continent of Australia for the white man alone is maintained, this portion, which contains vast wealth in mineral and agricultural lands, will continue to a great extent to waste “its sweetness on the desert air.” Had we the same conditions as apply to mining in South Africa with regard to labour, I venture to say a great success would soon be made of our undertaking.”
That is the opinion of a mining magnate in this city. I have the acquaintance of many admirable and capable men engaged in business and in the mining community who hold the same view. This should serve as a warning to the democracy of Australia that they should not rest too secure in the seeming unanimity of the people upon a matter of this kind, but should always be prepared to resist to the uttermost any attempt to inaugurate a policy that would be humiliating to the democracy of Australia, and injurious to any part of the British Empire.
– I am rather surprised that there should be any opposition offered to this motion. I had hoped that there would be a unanimous House. But there seems to be some alarm lest Great Britain should take umbrage because we express our honest opinion in regard to the introduction of Chinese to the Transvaal. We have heard a great deal about our right to say anything whatever. I am one of those who have hitherto been proud of belonging to the British race. I want to be in the position of continuing to be proud of it. I recognise, as we all must do, if we are thoughtful students of the social system, the many evils that exist, not only in the United Kingdom herself, but in the various’ States of the British Empire, which are constantly agitating for the reform of abuses. Yet, comparing the British people with the people of other countries and races, we find a reason for being proud of the British Empire. But, according to the honorable and learned member for Werriwa, I am to be denied the right, as a unit in that Empire, to express my opinion about proceedings in a part of the Empire for which we have fought. We claim the right, as a self-governing community, to speak to the mother country upon a question of this kind. There is no sense in our connexion with the Empire if we are to be denied that right. I cannot believe that the British Government will be so “ touchy “ as to quibble and quarrel about the wording of our resolution. They will have regard to the spirit in which it is passed, and will understand what it means. I venture to say that half-a-dozen different honorable “ members, sitting down in half-a-dozen different rooms to frame a resolution of this kind, would express the same idea in different terms. It is a waste of time to - discuss amendments when we desire unanimity. As the other Chamber has passed a resolution similarly worded to the one we are discussing, that is a strong reason for its passing here. We want, if we can, to prevent a mistake being made, arid a degradation taking place, which would result in a lowering of the credit of the race of which we are proud. The fact seems to have been overlooked that of all the nations in the world the British nation has been the most meddlesome - that our readiness to interfere in every part of the world has become, so to speak, our special characteristic. And I see no reason why the British nation should not interfere, when it is actuated by a creditable feeling of indignation at injustice, whether it occur in Armenia or elsewhere? There is no people who possess to a greater degree the capacity for self-government, and it is public spirit which stimulates the indignation of the British race against all injustice, even though we may be told that it is not our business to interfere. We should not have advanced in civilization if that had not been the characteristic policy of the British people, It is the impulse to denounce wrong which leads to the evolution of civilization. I know that honorable members have greatlyadmired the eloquent address of the Prime Minister ; but they seem to have overlooked the reasoning with which the honorable gentleman began when he showed that a change is coming over public opinion in regard to the interference by one portion of the Empire in the affairs of another portion. How otherwise can we hope to have a united Empire? Are we to show resentment if other States pass resolutions in regard to Commonwealth legislation which concerns them? It is denied that this question of Chinese labour in South Africa concerns us’; but it is a narrow conservative idea which leaves a threatened evil alone until it becomes overwhelming. I have a high admiration of the outspokenness of the honorable and learned member for Werriwa, and I can quite imagine that had he been at Lambing Flat or at Clunes - I was near the latter - when recourse was had to force in order to prevent the employment of Chinese in the gold-mines, he would have taken a different view from that which he has to-day placed before us. The town was barricaded, the Mayor led the way, and there was a riot in an attempt to carry out the demands of the white miners. According to the honorable and learned member he would have stood aloof, regarding the whole affair as no business of his; but I am afraid that had he been there, he would have been after those Chinese, and had as many pig-tails as did some of the miners. The evolution 2 b 2 spoken of by the Prime Minster is binding the various parts of the Empire closer together, and there should be no readiness to take offence because of an opinion expressed in the way proposed by the honorable member for Bland. In these days of rapid communication, every occurrence in the world concerns us, and that applies with greater force to events within the Empire. The family which co-operates succeeds best, and it is good to see brother at liberty to speak to brother or to parent, and suggest that a proposal made is not to the common good. That is the view I take of the Empire, which ought to be regarded as a united family. One justification for the motion has not yet been laid before honorable members, namely, the necessity to put ourselves right in the eyes of the people of the old country. In the London Times of the 16th January the following paragraph appeared : -
Mr. Seddon’s protest against the introduction of Chinese labour into the Transvaal is finding no support with the Australian press or public.
There is a foot-note to this paragraph, referring us to page 7 of the same issue, on which there appears a telegram from the Melbourne correspondent of the Times, who, if I am not mistaken, is to be found in the Argus office. The proprietors of the Times have found, however, that their present correspondent is unreliable, and have sent out a special reporter to obtain information. The cable message to which we are referred is dated 15th January, and is as follows : -
Mr. Seddon’s protest against the introduction of yellow labour into the Rand is meeting with no support from the Australian press or public. Although Mr. Deakin’s reply it not yet known, there is reason to believe that he in no way encourages interference with the outside world.
– There never was any authority or justification for such a statement as1 regards myself..
– The new correspondent of the Times is in Australia now, so that we may expect correct information to be sent Home. That cable of itself justifies this Parliament in expressing an opinion. Having passed an Address in Reply, containing a paragraph which is being used in Great Britain for party purposes, there should be no hesitation in expressing our views on a matter of such vital interest and importance. . I should like honorable members to hear an opinion expressed by the Church Times, a high Anglican weekly paper published in London, by people who are, so to speak, outsiders, and may be deemed to be impartial. This is not a labour organ expressing any radical or extreme views, but the following appeared in its columns : -
It would seem that the question of importing coloured labour into South Africa is reaching an acute stage. A correspondent of the Westminster Gazette, speaks of large numbers of white labourers as ready to resist the landing of Chinese, “ if necessary, by force,” and adds that civil tumult is in any case likely to arise. To avoid this it is said that, if and when the Chinese are imported, they will be landed at Delagon Bay, and quietly drafted into the Transvaal through Portuguese territory. If the movement is to be defeated, it must be through the formation of a healthy public opinion. The question for each man to ask himself is, whether the ideal for South Africa is a country in which the labouring class should be free citizens, or one in which slavery is established. Apart from the religious aspect of the matter, important as that is, it ought to be possible to appeal to the colonists of South Africa on the grounds of civilization. To re-establish slavery at this time of the day is hopelessly retrograde and benighted, and those who are now in favour of this abominable proposal would find that they had brought back other, evils with a caste-system of servile labour. We hope that it will be resisted, “by force, if necessary.” If Chinese labour can only be kept out vi et armis, a civil tumult would be a small price at which to purchase a future gain.
– Bishop Gore, of Worcester, whom I quoted, is connected with that branch of the Church.
– And also the Bishop of Bloemfontein. Had I expressed an opinion anything like so strong it would have been said to be characteristic of the Labour Party. Fancy this Church paper talking about resorting to force ! The casting of the Chinese out of Australia was commenced by civil tumult, so that there may be some justification for speaking of resorting to force, just as war, rightly or wrongly, is sometimes sought to be justified as neces- sary. The extract I have read shows that people in high and independent positions recognise the great seriousness of the position. The case has been very clearly put by Mr. John Morley, who is well known as an able man and a great thinker. Mr. Morley, in an address to his constituents, said -
Does it not occur to you what a bitter piece of irony it is that this situation has been brought about by action in which British colonists took a fighting part - British colonists who iri their own countries, in Australia and other colonies, will not allow the Chinaman to set his foot? Does not that strike you as rather ironical, that the result of all their efforts has been to set up a situation in South Africa, that those who helped to set it up would not tolerate for one single moment in their own countries?
That is exactly the position as it seems to us, and I am anxious for the credit of the Empire. Previous to the Boer war, it was stated by many public men, and would have been stated by more, no doubt, but for a desire to stand by the Empire in time of trouble, that the conflict was being brought about in the interest of the South African mine-owners. Subsequent events would seem to clearly prove the soundness of that position. England having secured possession of the Transvaal at a cost of £250,000,000, and about 100,000 lives, is practically handing over the control of the Colony to a band of foreigners. According to the honorable and learned member for Werriwa, we should allow that to be done without saying a word in protest-
– No; I never believed in the war.
– I am afraid the legal training of the honorable and learned member came to his aid when he endeavoured to justify his position. Great Britain, by her action, is practically admitting that she is less able than Oom Paul to govern the Transvaal. Kruger’s mining laws were admitted by mining men to be some of the best in the world ; and now it is proposed to hand over the whole of the underground work in connexion with the industry to aliens. I have been connected with mining, and I know that the plea raised for the introduction of Chinese is not new. In a mining country there will always be found ores which will not pay at present cost; and it is in connexion with these mines that there is a demand for cheap labour. The answer to that demand is that such mines ought to be allowed to stand until scientific discovery has found means of treating the ore at a cost which will pay the owners and enable them to give decent wages. Such has been the development of mining in Australia, and it is a healthy development. Having fought for the Transvaal, are we going to hand it over to foreign millionaires, in order to satisfy their greed by allowing them to extract all the gold in a few years? What benefit or sense is there in such a policy? I receive communications from friends in South Africa, who say that the conditions there now are most disgraceful ; and those conditions have been deliberately produced by the mining magnates. The honorable member for
Kooyong will agree with me that, while we have straightforward, honest investors and others in control of mines, we have also “ sharks,” who care for nothing except what they can grab out of other people’s pockets and put into their own. Those are not the men who do most for mining development. It is the bona -fide investor whom we should encourage. I remember that some years ago the late Chief Justice Higinbotham laid down a principle that should be borne in mind. He stated that the reason the Crown grants a lease to a mining company is because they agree to employ labour, and not merely because they agree to pay rent. The British Empire, in taking control of the Transvaal, should see that that country is developed in the best way, and that the best conditions are set up by the Government. It should be the concern of the authorities of the Empire to see that the wealth of that country is not taken out of it as fast as possible, and handed over to a few foreigners. If Chinese are introduced in the manner proposed, it is possible that the companies indenting them may be able to keep them within the compounds so long as their contracts last. But when the contracts expire, many of the Chinese will be lost, and will be allowed to spread all over the country in order that the cost of sending them back to China may be saved to the companies introducing them. That is what has happened elsewhere, and what will be the condition of South Africa should that kind of thing be allowed to take place there? I should have liked if I had had time to quote the remarks made by some very able American writers and speakers during a recent discussion of th: best means of developing the Philippine Islands. I may tell honorable members that those who took part in that discussion instanced Great Britain as the country that should be looked to for a model for the government of semi-civilized and savage countries. A great point was made of the establishment of justice under the British system of colonization, by which the confidence of native populations was secured. The confidence of the native is secured when he realizes that, instead of being under the will of a chief, or of anybody else, he has only to enter a British’ Court to secure justice. It was claimed that that is the real reason for the success of the British race in colonizing countries inhabited by such people. That brings me to discuss the position of the coloured labour already in South Africa. The Empire owes a duty to the coloured people in the Transvaal, if the high character of British policy in the government cf uncivilized people is to be maintained. There are nearly five millions of coloured people in South Africa, whose interests must be conserved. I would ask what it is that has been deliberately proposed by the people who are advocating the introduction of Chinese to the Transvaal. I am in a position to quote for honorable members the remarks made by Mr. Albu, the chairman of the General Mining and Finance Co., Limited, in moving the adoption of the annual report of the company on the 15th April last. A report and balance-sheet were submitted to the meeting, and also a lengthy statement from the very able manager of the company’s mines, as to the labour available and as to labour cost. I quote from the official report of Mr. Albu’s remarks.
Sweep away the men who, with fingers covered with blood and lucre, would clutch hold of the vitals of this fair country, and to satisfy greed and ambition, would seduce everything to their own selfish ends. Cast into the fire those who are craftily trying to weave round South Africa the monopolist’s net, who employ every force at hand, political agitation, great wealth, and the press, to forward their aims. Guard against the introduction here of the labour troubles of Australia and New Zealand, and the trust fiend of America.
That is very strong language, indeed, and it is the advice of a man who is, to some extent, outside the ring of mining magnates who are advocating this pernicious policy. A friend of mine was actually present at the meetings which were disturbed by men paid 15s. a day for the express purpose. These people have controlled the press as far as they could. They lowered the wages of coloured men, simply in order that they might have some justification for the cry that they could not get coloured labour; and then they raised the. cry that they must have Chinese labour. These are the means by which they have attempted to create a public opinion in favour of the proposal they make, and I object to the interests of the nation being sacrificed to the greed of the men who are receiving enormous dividends from the Transvaal mines. When the complaint they make is examined, it will be found that they do not say that the supply of coloured labour is insufficient at the present time, but that a greater supply will be required ten years hence. A statement was made to-day by the right honorable member for Adelaide with respect to the wages paid on these mines. The English company to. which I have referred controls nine mines, and employs 3,217 men. They pay a minimum wage of 30s., and a maximum wage of 35s. for thirty days. That is very much less than ‘the £4 per month quoted by the right honorable member for Adelaide. They tried piecework, ana made it a condition that it was not to cover more than 50s. per month, counting the whole of the expenditure for wages and keep, for each native labourer. They found that the piecework system was not satisfactory, and then reverted to the old method. There can be no doubt that if they were to pay higher wages they would get a better supply of labour, because before the Labour Commission evidence was given to show that the supply was improving, and was better then than it was immediately after the war. The1 report made as to the requirements of labour states that 140,000 men -are wanted at the present time, but that in ten years there will be work for 300,000. What have we to do with that? There may be many changes on the Rand before that time. The whole thing is a plot, and I say that England requires to clear herself of the suggestion that the Boer war was undertaken for this particular object, and it is our duty to stimulate the British authorities to do so. I desire to quote the letter written to Mr. Creswell, to which reference has already been made. Only a portion of the letter has been quoted, but I shall read the whole of it. It is dated 2nd July, 1902, and is signed by Mr. Percy Tarbut, the chairman of the’ London board of directors of the Village Main Reef Gold-mining Company. Mr. Tarbut writes:-
My dear Mr. Creswell, -
With reference to your trial of white labour for surface work at the mines, I was not present at the board meeting, when a letter was written stating that the board did not approve of the suggestion, and on receipt of the last mail, I called another meeting to reconsider the matter, in view of the fact that the local board had already commenced to adopt your suggestion.
I have consulted the Consolidated Gold-fields people, and one of the members of the board of the Village Main Reef has consulted Messrs. Wernher, Beit, and Co., and the feeling seems to be one of fear that if a large number of white men are employed on the Rand, the same troubles will arise as are now prevalent in the Australian colonies, i.e., that the combination of the labouring classes will become so strong as to be able to more or less dictate, not only on questions of wages, but also on political questions, by the power of their votes when a representative government is established.
I cannot of course set up my own personal view against that of the authorities I have men- tinned, but at the same time I think if the European population of the Transvaal is going to increase to anything like what Lord Milner, and the other best authorities anticipate, that the . extra number of working men which your scheme would provide, would be merely a “ drop in the ocean.”
The board finally agreed to the trial being made, and a cable was sent to that effect. I hope you will meet with success.
The point I desire to emphasize is that the great firm of Wernher, Beit, and Co., have used their influence to prevent a trial of white men. in the mines. It is of no use for them to say that white men cannot do the work, or will not do it, or that they cannotbe got, because they have all through deliberately carried out a plot to prevent the employment of white men. This is well known in the Transvaal. My friends in that Colony tell me that if a man is known to be an Australian he cannot get work, and that Australians have been discharged from the mines. What nonsense it is for them to say that they cannot work their mines, and cannot get sufficient labour when those who now appear to control the whole of the Transvaal, as well as the mines and mining properties, adopt such a plan as I have described? Mr. Chamberlain might, I think, with some credit to himself, take some hand in denouncing the proposal to introduce Chinese to the Transvaal. He had some hand in bringing about the Boer war, and I am sorry that his great influence is not thrown into the scale to prevent the threatened disaster to the Rand, and the destruction of the whole future of that field. I have no desire to repeat what has been said already as to the necessity of peopling the Transvaal with men and women of the British race. I agree with- the acting leader of the Opposition that unless that is done we cannot hold . the Transvaal, and the old trouble is likely to arise there again. I . desire that the British people shall’ maintain the high position they hold amongst the nations of the world; but I should like to know what is going to follow if Chinese are introduced to the Transvaal, and Great Britain should again need our help in any difficulty. Seeing that strong views are held in Australia in regard to this matter, the Imperial authorities would, I think, be wise to give them some . consideration, as under certain conditions it is possible there would be no contingents sent to aid Great Britain from Australia should trouble arise; in the future. The Australian people are: very democratic, and while we know there was a divided opinion in connexion with the Boer war, the feeling of loyalty to the Empire overcame every other feeling. But I say that Great Britain, much as I admire her, cannot afford to ignore the views which find expression here, in connexion with what is now proposed in South Africa. Great Britain has achieved great things, but she has also made many diplomatic mistakes, and a mistake, which it will be very difficult to condone, will be made if any action is taken which is calculated to drive white men out of the Transvaal. I am anxious to save the Empire from the consequences of any mistake of that kind. I have a right, as an individual, to say so, and this Parliament, as representing, an important part of the Empire, has a right to say so. We need not have any fear about laying down’ precedents for the future. Government,, by precedent, is a Chinese proposition. In China, the oldest “men in the family govern, as they have there the patriarchal system, and where is that nation amongst the nations of the world? The Chinese have been an educated people for thousands of years, and yet have been standing still. They have been governed by the old conservative view that it is not. wise to make. any change. I do not believe in the Chinese, or in Chinese politics. I say that it is only by making new departures, and, at times, daring departures, that we can make any progress at all. When reference is made to precedent, the honorable and learned member for Werriwa, as a barrister, must know that “circumstances alter cases.” I think that we are able to take care of ourselves. The one great mistake of. coercive interference which England has made in her history was that in connexion with America, and that has been enough for her. With wider experience and knowledge she will be prepared to assist in the development of her Colonies, and, I have no fear, that an occasion for interference upon these grounds’ will ever again arise. I hope that the House will carry the motion unanimously and that honorable members will not quibble about the wording of it.
– I feel that the consideration of this question naturally divides, it into two parts; the local justification, that is, whether those who control matters in South Africa are in any sense justified in the request that they have made, and the Imperial or national view, which I, contrary to the opinion of some of my friends, think that we have a perfect right to take into account. I agree with those who have said that we have seldom heard from the Prime Minister a more eloquent utterance than that which !~.e delivered last evening. I heartily concur, too, in the sentiments underlying it. It will be disastrous to the interests of the whole Empire, if, after all that has taken place there, South Africa eventually comes under the influence of an alien race; and that is possible. The deputy leader of the Opposition, however, in a most practical way, showed that we are rather doing ourselves harm by magnifying our part in connexion with the war. Great Britain has never underrated that, and never will. So long as the Empire exists it will be remembered that Australia came to the assistance of the mother land in time of need.
– For which the men who went got their pay.
– Certainly ; but I do not regard the prospect of pay as the motive which prompted their enlistment. The real motive was the strong determination of the community to show that this part of the Empire is prepared to bear its share of the trials of the Empire whenever its assistance is necessary. Upon Imperial grounds we are, I think, justified in passing a resolution to declare that the House is or is not favorable to the importation of Chinese into the Transvaal. Perhaps honorable members may be interested in some facts which show the magnitude of the mining industry there. I shall quote from a work, The Mineral Industry, published in New York, which is recognised throughout Englishspeaking communities as one of the best and most authentic upon the development of the mining industry throughout the world. It .contains information and statistics relating to all countries, and an effort is made to collect the information from completely reliable sources. I know that no pains are spared to obtain absolutely accurate information in regard to Australian mines. It is here stated that the value of the ore lying within the depth of 6,000 feet, and a. length of 46.9 miles has been estimated at 233,560,709, and the output should average ^£30,000,000 per year. At this rate, it would take 42.5 years to exhaust the fields. While no doubt every effort is being made to produce as large dividends as possible, or to work the field for market purposes, those facts show that there exists an enormous deposit of mineral wealt h, which it is in the interests of South Africa to develop without unnecessary delay. I have here a sample of the ore. It is quartzite conglomerate, known as the Banket Reef, and was obtained at a depth of about 2,000 feet. If anything like it were discovered in Australia, the mining, and indeed all other industries of the Commonwealth, would very soon reach a very profitable position. But even if we had here the wealth of the Transvaal, I hope that no Chinese labour would be used to extract a ton of ore from the ground. That has invariably been my position. This sample of ore gives, on an average, 8 to 10 dwts. of gold to the ton. That is the general average of the deposits which have been developed. The honorable member for Wide Bay quoted an utterance made by a friend of mine a year or two ago, Mr. Harvey Patterson, who is chairman of the Mungana mine. I have had no directorial interest in that mine for nearly three years, though I to-day hold every share that was originally allotted to me. So far as the north of Queensland is concerned, I believe that a great deal of the work there could be performed by coloured labour with advantage to the white race. The mine to which my valued friend has referred to is upon an elevated plateau, and I do not think that the conditions there are such as to necessarily demand the introduction of coloured labour. In fact, I know of no mining undertaking in Australia in connexion with which large numbers of Chinese are employed. On the contrary, the Chinaman is what is known in the mining world as a “hatter.” He prefers to fossick by himself, and work in his own direct interest. I wish to impress upon honorable members that there is no ground for the fear indicated by the Prime Minister in his speech, that the great gold deposits of the Transvaal are likely to be rooted out within a very few years for the benefit of a few capitalists. It will occupy at least forty years, working at very high pressure, to extract the enormous quantity of ore now known to exist there, and before that time has elapsed there will probably be further important developments.
– Unless a mistake has been made in the calculations.
– There is not much chance of that. I have a plan here, which , I shall be glad to exhibit to honorable members, showing the features of the deposit on the
Rand. The first line of mines is situated along what is known as the “Outcrop.” Then as the deposit dips downwards from the surface, there is an intermediate line of mines, and still further away there are what are called the “ Deep “ mines, the borings of which extend to a depth of as much as 5,000ft. This uniform deposit extends laterally for the distance I have mentioned, and has been bored to a depth of 6,000ft. in what are known as the Deep Rand mines. Therefore, there would not be much force in the objection of my honorable friend. The feature of the Rand formation is its uniformity ; the gold contents of the stone range from 8 to 12 dwts. per ton throughout.
– The honorable member will admit that we have had reports of a similar kind in Australia, and that they have not always been borne out by subsequent developments.
– So far as reports are concerned, I am prepared to admit that, if mining were reduced to an exact science, all of us would wish to possess mining interests. We know, however, that, to a greater or less extent, the best of mining undertakings must be speculative, because we cannot ascertain, as a rule, what is beyond the point of the drill. The Rand deposit, however, has been proved along three lines, at a considerable distance apart, by bores and shafts, and it has been shown to be uniform to the extent I have mentioned. In fact, there is no other deposit of the same nature in the world, so far as is known at present, I know of no other ; and I have visited the largest of the mining fields in other parts. There is nothing to compare with the Rand deposit in uniformity. Therefore, the point raised by the honorable member would not in any way affect my statement that there is no fear that a number of capitalists will be able to root out the whole of the gold-bearing deposits upon the Rand within a few years. I say this with some knowledge of the large firms who are interested in the Rand mines, and who, probably, are troubled by no higher consideration than that of reaching the ore and getting it out at the cheapest rate and the greatest speed possible. There are two classes of mining investors. First, there is the legitimate miner, who tries to deal with a mine as with an ordinary quarry, and get out the stone as cheaply as possible for the purpose of extracting the valuable material, and, secondly, there are those who care nothing about the mine in reality, but who are wholly influenced by market operations. The latter class of persons always do harm to the industry, and their operations are to be deprecated. I do not for one moment say that this last” element does not very largely influence operations in what are known as “kaffir” stocks on the London Stock Exchange. It is well known that Rand stocks are not held entirely by British investors and speculators. They form I he medium of large transactions upon the Paris Bourse, the Berlin Bourse, and other large centres of speculative activity. In fact, any one reading the list of firms who control those great undertakings in South Africa will find the names of many men who, although they are domiciled in London, which is the centre of control, and may have been naturalized, do not belong to our own race. The development of the Rand mines, and the increase in the gold production which has resulted, has been of importance to the whole world,- and if the output could be increased by any legitimate means we should not interfere. In order to show honorable members that the labour difficulty is real, I desire to refer to the last South African Year Book, which occupies a position corresponding with that of Mr. Coghlan’s publication. It is therein stated -
For some time past there has been no more pressing question in South Africa than the insufficiency of native labour. Although this shortage directly affects the mining districts, it is visibly reflected in the indirect influence it is exerting upon the progress of the whole country. Previous to the war, the maximum supply of African aboriginal labour available for the Transvaal was 96,704- In the closing months of 1903 it is less by some 30,000, or 30 per cent. The acuteness of the difficulty- and this is the point I wish to urge to show that there is a real demand for labour on the Rand - is best conveyed in the fact that the Transvaal Government has temporarily suspended railway construction in order that native labour might not be diverted from the mines. The position will be better understood by perusal of the official figures.
Taking the year 1903, I find that in January the number of white workers was 11,320, whilst in February it had increased to it,425. This increase continued till June, when they .numbered 12.460. The statistics available prove it is imperative that the mining companies shall obtain the assistance of black labour so far as they possibly can. For instance, I find that whereas the number of blacks employed in
January of last year was 50,499, in February it had increased to 54,000 ; in March to 60,000; in April to 63,000; in May to 66,000 ; and in June to 67 ,000. This book goes on to show that every agency possible is being utilized to obtain the services of native labour. In view of these facts, I scarcely think that the House is justified in indulging in a wholesale condemnation of the -proposal to introduce Chinese into the mines by declaring that more labour is not required. We know that Lord Milner himself supports the statement that additional labour is necessary. It has been said that the return received in London from these mines was all capitalized for market purposes. In this connexion I should like to quote from an authoritative paper, which was read before the American Institute of Mining Engineers, and sets out the financial conditions in the Transvaal. The author says -
At the outbreak of the war the total capitalization of the gold-mines of the Witwatersrand was over £70,000,000 at par, and at market prices about £147,000,000. A large part of these amounts represents worthless properties which have been floated during boom times ; yet, nothwithstanding this excessive capitalization, the mines yielded about 7 per cent, on the total capitalization at par, and about 3.5 per cent, on market prices. Eliminating properties notoriously without value, and also the capitalization of certain “deep level” properties which have not, as yet, reached a producing stage, we may pronounce the returns from bond fide investments and competent management to have been exceedingly satisfactory.
He goes on to say that forty-one of these companies divide between them ,£4,847,505, or about 15.6 per cent, on their nominal capital of £31,018,000. The market capitalization of the same companies is £82,555,000, and the dividends returned upon the capitalization represents 5.9 per cent. While we all realize that wild-cat schemes are inseparable from such gigantic mining undertakings, yet on the capitalization to which I have called attention it would be impossible to argue that these mines are not returning a fair interest. I would further point out that these goldmining companies - according to the statistics available, which are public property - have, not very much to complain of as regards the conditions under which they work. I hold in my hand a tabular statement of the profits which were made during 1899, when things were more favorable than they have been under recent conditions, which showed a considerable over-capi’talization in a certain direction - conditions which were disturbed by the war. I find that a leading mine made a profit of 20s. 8d. per ton of ore treated ; and it is estimated that, if it had been worked entirely by white labour that amount would have been reduced to 12s. 8d. per ton. In another mine the profit of 19s. 5d. per ton would have been reduced to 1 os. rod. per ton. In a third instance the profit of 22s. 1 id. per ton would have been decreased to 14s. 8.7od. per ton. In other mines the profits would have been reduced as follows : - From 12s. od. per ton to 3s. 2.3od. per ton; from 1 5s. od. per ton to 5. rod. per tcn; from 13s. 6d. to 2s. 6.5od. per ton ; from 9s. 3d. per ton to 2s. 5-74d. loss per ton; and from 13s. 2d. to 7-9od. per ton. I desire to show that, regarding these mines as purely business propositions, the owners have much to gain by employing other than white labour. The average wage paid for native, labour is 2s. 2d. per day, whereas the cost of white labour averages 12s. per day. That calculation is based upon the assumption that one white man is equal to two natives. Having regard to the profits per ton of ore treated, you will observe that the companies in question are making a larger profit than most of the great mines which are working in Australia. I have in my possession the quotations of the Transvaal Chamber of Mines for December, 1903. Taking the list as it comes, and without naming the companies concerned, I find that they made the following profits: - 20 per cent., 50 per cent., 30 per cent. 15 per cent., 1.12A per cent., 25 per cent., 50 per cent., 25 per cent., 10 per cent., 17
– The motion has been amended so as to read - “That this House records its grave objection,” and so forth.
– I was not aware that that amendment had been made; but it is an improvement, and is in better form. Upon Imperial, grounds, and because of our desire to preserve the unity of the Empire, I feel that we shall be justified in expressing our, opinion, but in a form more conciliatory and dignified than that in which the motion was first framed. With the kaffir labour which is available the mine-owners are, in my opinion, obtaining excellent profits, and considerable developmental work is taking place. It seems to me, therefore, that an opportunity ought to be given to the white races - to the men who left Australia for South Africa - to obtain work in the mines. I have some interesting figures in my possession, but I shall refrain from referring to them, inasmuch .as it would be unreasonable for me to detain the House beyond the hour at which it is usual to adjourn. Had time permitted I should like to have dealt with the subject more exhaustively than I have done, for it is one on which I believe I am in a position to afford the House some information, and to convey to honorable members generally some knowledge of the difficulties associated with it. If I have succeeded in impressing honorable members with the fact that no injustice should be done to South African investors - that there is no intention on their part to simply tear out the gold from the mines without any regard for the welfare of the whole country - and that there is a large demand for additional labour in South Africa, I shall feel that I have not spoken in vain. On Imperial grounds and for racial considerations I think we are at liberty to express an opinion as members of this House, on so serious a proposal as the introduction of a large number of Chinese to South Africa. If carried into effect it will, I fear, tend to weaken the bonds of that Empire which we have spared no effort to weld strongly together. I will support an amendment to the motion, expressing such an opinion, which, however, must not have the slightest appearance of dictation.
– I believe it is customary for the House to adjourn about 4 p.m. on Friday, and I, therefore, move -
That the debate be now adjourned.
– Let us finish it.
– I think that the honorable member for Wilmot is the only one who wishes, at this stage, to address the House, and as most honorable members appear to desire that the motion should be disposed of as early as possible, I would urge him to proceed. There is one special reason why those in favour of the general tenor of the motion desire to have it dealt with without delay. We read in to-day’s newspapers that the question will be considered by the Imperial Parliament within the next few days, and that fact renders it highly desirable that any action which we may contemplate should be taken early. I, therefore, appeal to those who desire to see the motion carried to expedite its early passage. I would ask the honorable member to withdraw his motion, for I presume that he would not. occupy much time in putting his arguments before the House.
– At this stage, we can best assist the object of the motion by refraining from speaking.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa). - I do not think that it is possible to conclude the debate this afternoon. I have an amendment to propose.
– The honorable and learned member cannot move an amendment, for he has already spoken.
– An amendment will be submitted, and it will emanate from me, even if it be moved by some other honorable member.
– Do I understand that an amendment is to be moved ?
– That being so, it would be impossible to conclude the debate this afternoon without causing the representatives of South Australia to miss their train. In these circumstances, I shall not oppose the motion for the adjournment. I would say, however, that the debate must be closed on the next day of meeting. The first business to be dealt with on Tuesday will be the second reading of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. The debate on this motion will then be resumed, and the sitting of the House will be continued as long as may be necessary to enable the motion to the dealt with.
Motion agreed to; debate adjourned.
Presentation of Address in Reply.
Mr. DEAKIN (Ballarat- Minister for
External Affairs). - I move -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until 3.30 p.m. on Tuesday next.
I would inform the House that Mr. Speaker, and as many honorable members as can make it convenient to attend, will present the Address inReply to His Excellency the GovernorGeneral at4.40 p.m. on Tuesday next.
– May I at this moment say to the House that as His Excellency the Governor-General has appointed twenty minutes to 3 o’clock on Tuesday next to receive the Address in Reply at Government House, I shall be very glad to be accompanied to that place by as many honorable members as may choose to come, and that for that purpose it will be necessary to leave the building at twenty-five minutes past 2 o’clock?
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Hirsch v. Phillips.
The Clerk announced the receipt from the Deputy Registrar of theHigh Court of Australia, under section 202 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act, of a copy of the following order of the Court of Disputed Returns : -
In the High Court of Australia, Principal Registry,
In the matter of the election of a member of the House of Representatives for the electoral division of Wimmera, in the State of Victoria.
Before His Honour the Chief Justice, Saturday, 12th day of March, 1904.
This petition coming on for trial this day, upon reading the petition of Maximilian Hirsch, filed the eighth day of February, 1904, and the appearance of Pharez Phillips, who was returned as a member of the House of Representatives at the above-mentioned election, and upon hearing what was alleged by Mr. Mitchell, ‘ of counsel for the said Maximilian Hirsch, and Mr. McCay, counsel for the said Pharez Phillips, no evidence being tendered by the said Maximilian Hirsch, this Court doth order that the petition of the said Maximilian Hirsch be and the same is hereby dismissed, and this Court does not think fit to make any order as to the costs of the said petition, except that the sum of Fifty pounds, deposited with the Principal Registrar by the said Maximilian Hirsch at the time of filing his said petition, to be returned to him or to his solicitor, Mr. Henry Rawdon Francis Chomley.
By the Court,
Deputy Registrar. PAPER.
The Clerk laid upon the table the following . paper : -
Return to an order dated 18th March’ as to Imports from the United Kingdom during 1903.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister if he can announce the intentions of the Government in regard to the Easter holidays, so that those honorable members who wish to visit the Federal Capital sites, and those honorable members who have seen the sites and do not wish to see them again, may be in a position to make their arrangements. A suggestion has been made in the interests of those honorable members whose homes are distant, that it might be better for the Easter adjournment to begin at the end’ of next week. I am quite sure that honorable members whose homes -are nearer would be only too glad that their fellow-members should be convenienced in that way. I also desire to ask the Prime Minister if, after his second-reading speech on the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, he intends to allow that interval before the resumption of the debate which is usually allowed in the case of an important measure?
– We do not need so long an interval in the case of a Bill which has been re-introduced.
– I would remind my honorable friend that we have a great many new members in the House. I think that a reasonable interval should be allowed, in order to enable honorable members to look properly into the measure, and to consider the arguments of the Prime Minister.
Mr.- MAHON (Coolgardie).- I wish to. draw the attention of the Government to the fact that the public servants in Western Australia are being deprived of their annual leave, in rather an unfair fashion. It appears, from the representations made to me, that when an officer is unable, in any one year, to secure his leave - a fortnight or three weeks, as the case may be-r-through the failure of the Department to have an adequate relieving staff, that leave which is supposed to accumulate is lost to the officer, in subsequent years. If the Department will not take precautions to see that an officer at a remote station is relieved during the year and given his ordinary holiday, he should not suffer for its neglect. That seems a reasonable proposition. But I am given to understand that officers engaged as telegraph operators - an employment which makes a considerable demand on the nervous system of some men - for as long a period as five or six years, without getting their ordinary, holiday, and that when they apply they are told - “ Oh, yes ; we will let you go as soon as we can make arrangements to relieve you.” The arrangements to relieve are not made, and the men go on from year to year without getting any opportunity for relaxation. There are other matters in connexion with the Public Service to which I should like to draw attention, showing that friendless officers in the interior of Australia appear to be fair game for the tyranny of departmental heads. By. every mail I get complaints from these men about the unfair way in which the Public Service Regulations are interpreted in their regard. I have brought this matter before the Postmaster-General, but very little satisfaction can ever be obtained.
– The. late, or the present Minister?
– I shall not go into any details, as the hour is getting rather late. _ I merely wish to draw the attention of Ministers to this matter, because I feel sure that they are not aware of the injustice which is being perpetrated.
– This is the first that I have heard of the matter.
– The Commissioner should riot be allowed to be a buffer between them and the meting out of justice to the men in remote stations. But’ I shall take advantage of another opportunity, when honorable members are not so desirous of getting away, to speak on the matter.
– With regard to the adjournment of the debate on the second reading of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill after the Prime Minister has made his speech, I desire to point out that there is not the same necessity* for a long adjournment in the case of that Bill as there would be in the case of a measure which was being introduced for the first time. Allowing that the House contains a considerable number of new members, the Bill has not been materially altered so far as I can’ perceive. Now that we have concluded the very long debate on the Address in Reply we should be prepared to do some work. With regard to the adjournment of the House over the Easter holidays, I think that the honorable member for North Sydney has made a very proper request.
– The original proposal which I submitted to the House when an Easter adjournment was suggested, was that we should adjourn at the end of next week, and have a fortnight’s holiday, which would permit of some honorable members visiting the Capital sites, and other members returning to their homes. I was afterwards induced to put aside that idea by a suggestion that the holidays should begin a week later, but since it appears that the Wishes of most honorable members would be consulted bv beginning the holidays from the end of next week, .1 shall fall in with their view. I am rather surprised at the request for an adjournment of the ‘debate, on the second reading of the Arbitration Bill. I must say that until the debate on the Chinese question Was adjourned to next week, I had supposed that if the second reading of the Conciliation and Arbitration
Bill were moved on Tuesday honorablemembers would be prepared to continue the debate on a Bill which is familiar to many of them, and which has been lying on the table for three weeks. Surely we ought tobe able to deal with it now without any. delay.
– The debate on the last Bill filled two volumes of Hansard. -Mr. DEAKIN.- If the debate is commenced, as I hope it will be, very early on Wednesday, and new members’ find that they have not had sufficient time in which to study the provisions of the Bill, we shall endeavour to proceed with other business when the older members of the House have delivered their speeches.
– Does the honorable and learned gentleman intend to begin the debate on Tuesday ?
– I should like to.
—The interval is rather short.
– If I find it necessary I shall be prepared to make a little adjournment. If we are going to separate at the end of the week we could not make any progress by that time. I hope that honorable members will not ask for any further adjournment, but will devote themselves to the Bill until it is disposed of one way or another. I have heard for the first, time of the neglect of the public officers in remote districts in the particular mentioned. I shall plead with my colleague that the State of Western Australia should receive some attention.
– Will, copies of the Navigation Bill be available ? Mr. DEAKIN. - Yes.
Question resolved in the affirmative. House adjourned at 4.2a p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 18 March 1904, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19040318_reps_2_18/>.