1st Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Postmaster-General, without notice, if his attention has been called to the following paragraph in the Weekly Scotsman of 16th May last, and, if so, whether the statement is true : -
The Commonwealth, the most powerful battleship in the world, presented to the navy by Australia, was launched on the Clyde on Wednesday.
– I think that the presentation must have been made without the knowledge of the Government of the Commonwealth.
Bill presented by Senator Dobson, and read a first time.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
Was a petition signed by. bankers, leading shipping companies, merchants, shopkeepers, and others recently presented to the Deputy PostmasterGeneral of New South Wales, asking for improved postal and telegraphic facilities at the post and telegraph offices, George-street north, Sydney?
What action, if any, has beeu taken to comply with the requests of the petitioners ?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s questions is as follows: -
Inquiries are being made, and the desired information will bo furnished in due course.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : - 1, 2, and 3. Yes.
Resolved (on motion by Senator Drake)-
Senator Drake laid, the paper upon the table.
Resolved (on motion by Senator Drake) -
That the Postmaster-General have leave to lay upon the table of the Senate a precis of the papers relating to the erection of a new post and telegraph office at Waollahra, New South Wales.
That the paper be printed.
Senator Drake laid the paper upon the table.
In Committee (consideration resumed from 24tb June, vide page 1296):
Clause 2 -
There shall be paid out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, . which is hereby appropriated accordingly, to every grower of sugar-cane or beet within the Commonwealth, in the production of which sugar-cane or beet white labour only has been employed after’ the twenty-eighth day of
February one thousand nine hundred and three, a bonus, at the rates provided by this Act, on all such sugar-cane or beet delivered for manufacture, lifter the commencement of this Act and before the first day of January one thousand nine hundred and- seven.
– Honorable senators will observe that I have altered the wording of the request for an amendment which was circulated yesterday. In his second-reading speech Senator Pearce drew attention to what he considered the weakness of the proposed amendment. I propose to move a request that the clause be amended so that those who desire to grow cane with white labour shall have a longer time than the 1st March of this year in’ which to register in order to claim the bonus. My honorable friend pointed out that even if my proposal were adopted the planters who had employed white labour for. a considerable time, it might be for a whole year, in order to get the bonus, might revert to the use of black labour at the end of that period. The clause, in my judgment, is defective in that it does not allow a longer time in which to register to those planters who have entered into contracts with kanakas, whose contracts have not expired, and who can not dispense with the kanakas except at very considerable loss. I fear that if the Bill were passed in its present form the idea of a white Australia, so far as Queensland is concerned, would not be realized so soon as we all desire. Therefore, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the clause by omitting the words “after the twenty-eighth day of February, one thousand nine hundred .and three,” lines 6 and 7, and inserting in lieu thereof the words “for a period of twelve months immediately preceding the delivery thereof for manufacture.”
If that proposal is agreed to, I intend, as suggested- by Senator Pearce, to move a request to add this proviso : -
Provided that no bonus shall be paid in respect of the production of sugar on land which has been cultivated by other, than white labour after a bonus has been paid in respect of the production of sugar thereon.”
I take it for granted that we all agree as to the wisdom o£ the policy of establishing a white Australia at the earliest possible moment. Parliament has agreed that the class of labour with which sugar has principally been cultivated in the past in Queensland’ should not be encouraged. In the first place it is not needed, and secondly it is not desirable. Therefore, Parliament declared that there- should be a rebate of £2 per ton paid to the producers of sugar from white labour only. That policy has been fairly successful. There are in Queensland about 2,300 sugarplanters, out of which number 1,500 odd have already registered under the Act passed last year. A considerable number of the plantations are small, but many of them are large. The proprietors of the large estates have. not yet registered under the terms of last year’s Act. That is the case with the Mulgrave estate. Messrs: Young Brothers, a firm in the Bundaberg district, cultivate a large area and they have not registered ; nor have Gibson Bros., of Bundaberg. But I have no hesitation in saying from conversations I have had with some of -the large planters that, seeing that Australia has set its mind on doing away with black labour, they, being wise and practical men, and recognising the inevitableness of this policy, are extremely anxious that every reasonable facility shall be given far a more general experiment to be made in the production of sugar by means .of white labour. But if the Bill now before the Senate passes in its present form instead of that policy being encouraged it will be retarded. The Minister for Trade and Customs in the House of Representatives held the idea that to -earn the bonus the cane must be planted, weeded, trashed, cut, and carried to the mill entirely by white labour. That principle would undoubtedly put obstacles in the way of the success of the white Australia policy. I think that my honorable friend, Senator Dawson, fell into, an error as to the stand taken up by the Minister for Trade and Customs in’ the other Chamber. He stated that Mr. Kingston had alleged that the planting of the cane was the most costly part of sugar production.
– Not the most costly, but the most important.
– My honorable friend also referred-, I think, to the question of cost. I have re-read the- Minister’s speech, and if Senator Dawson refers to it he will see that the right honorable gentleman said that the clearing and’ preparing of the land, and the planting of the cane, formed the .most costly operation. Those who. know anything about clearing heavy scrub land in the part of the country in which sugar is principally grown are aware that that must be so.
– What is the difference between clearing for sugar and for other crops ?
– Not a bit ; except that where wheat and maize is grown the scrub is not as a rule quite so thick. It is particularly upon the heavy scrub lands in the tropical portions of Queensland that sugar is grown.
– They can roll down the scrub and burn it off.
– There is very heavy timber in those scrubs. Honorable senators will, by this time, be aware that a crop of cane when once planted will last for five or six, or, in some cases, ten years. But we will strike an average and say - as I am informed by many planters is the case - that six years is a fair term for cane to yield crops. Would it be fair and just to those planters who are anxious to assist in carrying out the white Australia policy to insist that they must plough out their roots before they are exhausted, at a very considerable cost, before they can participate in the bonus ? The expense would be very great, and to do so would be of no earthly use to the country. The Bill, in fact, is a halting measure. It stops half way in a timid manner. I am disappointed that the Government should have put forward’ such a proposal. It is a mistake on their part to cripple the success of the policy ‘which was so wisely inaugurated last year. I mentioned last night that I had obtained a return from the Customs Department, dated 4th May this year, showing that no less than 1,522 persons have already registered under the Act. They work an area of 36,131 acres out of the 90,000 acres now under cane cultivation in Queensland. That is most rapid progress.
– What is the additional number of white men employed t
– The number I have mentioned are planters. Of course they employ a. considerable number of hands - perhaps 4,000 or 5,000 persons. The proprietors of many of the large plantations such as the Mulgrave at Cairns, the Gibsons at Bingera, and Young Bros, at Fairymead, Bundaberg, have not yet registered. With a view of inducing these people to work their estates with white labour, it is imperative that the Bill should be amended in the direction I have advocated. The aim of most Governments in Queensland for many years - notwithstanding that some of them have hung on most tenaciously to black labour - has been to encourage the subdivision of large estates, and the putting of white families upon them. My amendment will have the effect of furthering that policy.
– Can the honorable senator give any information as to whether 4s. is a fair amount as representing the difference in the cost of black and ‘ white labour ?
– I think it is a fair and reasonable sum to pay to encourage the employment of white labour. The bonus paid is higher in the north than in the south in consequence of the climate there being more trying.
– Is the bonus paid now higher in the north than in the south ?
– A ‘little higherthere is a sliding scale. The various districts are numbered. The No. 1 district is the extreme north ; No. 2 is the Mackay district ; No. 3 the Bundaberg district, and No. 4 embraces the Logan and Albert and other places.
– The bonus varies from 4s., 4s. 4d., and 4s. 8d. to 5s. per ton of cane in different districts.
– That is so. But on the average it is £1 per ton of manufactured sugar all round. In view of the fact that the coloured labour contracts will be expiring from time to time, is it wise that Parliament should stop short and refuse to give -these persons an opportunity of registering- at the termination of their contracts and proceeding then to employ white labour? I hope that the Committee will consider that it is desirable to amend the Bill in the way I ‘have proposed. I think the proposition is a reasonable one, and that the arguments which have been given in support of it should commend themselves-to the Committee.
– I am satisfied that this amendment, coming as it does, from Senator Glassey, has been brought forward with a good object; but I venture to think that it will not carry out the purpose that he desires. . On the contrary, I am afraid that it will have a contrary effect. It is a very important amendment, and therefore it is desirable that the Committee should consider it carefully from every point of view, before coming to a decision upon it. We know that when the Tariff Act was passed, it was understood that a rebate equal to £2 per ton upon manufactured sugar was to be paid in respect of sugar produced by white labour. The intention was that white labour should be substituted for black labour. After the Act had come into operation, it was pointed out that the cane grows year after year from the same roots or stools, and that therefore cane which had been planted Originally by black labour, would be sending up a crop for a number of years. The request was then made that, having regard to this fact, a certain time should be allowed to elapse before the planters were called upon to register as growers of cane by white labour. In accordance with that request it was decided that growers should be allowed to register up to the 1st March, 1902. That was the position when I visited, last September, the sugar districts of Queensland. When I arrived at Cairns it was represented to me’ by deputations from the local Municipal Council and the Farmers’ Association of Cairns that many of the farmers had failed to correctly understand the conditions under which the rebate was to be given, that they did not know that the money would be paid to them in cash on the delivery of the cane at the mills, and that because of certain circumstances they had also been induced to engage kanaka labour for the current planting season. It was said that they had been induced to employ this labour, not under contract, but simply for one year, and it was urged that unless some alteration were made in the regulations they would be deprived of the opportunity to secure the bonus in respect of the 1902-3 crop. The deputations requested me to use what influence I might ha.ve with the Minister for Trade and Customs to induce him to extend the time of registration to the 1st March, 1903. Knowing as I did, that the result of making concessions is almost invariably to whet the appetite for something more, I demurredto do this until I received from them the most positive assurance that if this concession were granted they would not ask for any further extension. I was assured that they would require nothing more than that. Knowing what the conditions were, and having control of their own labour, they would be able to register and grow sugar exclusively by white labour. I represented these facts to the Minister for Trade and Customs, and in December last he framed a regulation extending the time of registration to 1st March, 1903. I should mention that, after visiting Cairns, I went to all the other sugar plantations, and that at many of them I was asked the same question. I told them what I had done, and no dissatisfaction whatever was expressed.
– Did the Postmaster General go up the Johnstone River?
– No, I did not go up to Geraldton. There is only one big plan tation there - the Doondi Estate.
– There are two or three.
– There -was only one when I last visited the district. This matter was first brought under my notice by the honorable member for Herbert, Mr. Bamford, who represents the Cairns district. He requested me to join with him in endeavouring to obtain the concession, and I notice that he opposed this further concession. He holds to the position then taken up, that all that the cane farmers required was an extension to the 1st March, 1 903. When the Bill was before another place an attenpt was made, not only to extend the time of registration, but to alter the measure in such a way that, as long as the bonus system continued, any person who gave notice twelve months before delivery of his cane to the mill might avail himself of it. I am afraid that such an arrangement would be a discouragement to those who have been induced in the past to give up their black labour and to employ white .labour exclusively, while it would be rather an encouragement to those who up to the present have shown no inclination to rid themselves of coloured labour.
– It will have quite an opposite effect.
– I think not. I believe this proposal would be an encouragement to such planters to hold on to coloured labour. They could plant their crops, and then, as Senator Dawson suggested last night, they might cut up their land and transfer it by sale or lease to other farmers, who would be able to crop from those stools and obtain the bonus upon their sugarcane. Looking at the matter from that point of view, the benefit would be, not to the man who cropped the cane and received his bonus, but to the vendor who had .planted by black labour before disposing of his property. Such a planter, when sell ing or leasing his land, would say - “ Here is the cane already planted. You will be able to crop from it, and to obtain the bonus as for white-grown sugar.” He would take that fact into consideration in determining the price to be paid for the land. Senator Glassey has given us some significant figures, -showing that out of 2,300 sugar-growers in Queensland, 1,500 have declared for white labour, leaving only SOO who are producing sugar by black labour. That, of course, shows a triumph for the legislation that has been passed by us. But when we look at the area, we find that out of some 90,000 acres under sugar cultivation in Queensland, only 36,000 acres are held by the 1,500 planters who are growing sugar by white labour, while the remaining SOO - the large planters - occupy 54,000 acres, and employ black labour.
– They could not avail themselves of the rebate under the original proposal of the Government.
– We have altered the regulation fixing the time of registration up. to the 1st March, 1903, so that a man who employs no black labour after that date will receive a bonus in respect of his cane although it may have been planted prior to that date by black labour. We say nothing at all about the way in which the stools have been put in up to the 1st March, -19.03 ; as long as a man does not employ black labour after that date he will receive the bonus. The 1,500 growers are the men who have come under our regulations by disclaiming the use of all black labour after 1st March, 1903, and the only people who would be benefited by this- amendment are the 800 men who are occupying large areas. Would this proposed amendment be fair to the men who have complied with our regulations ? There must always be competition going on. During a good season, when the supply was equal to the full capacity of the mills, competition would be very apparent. We are now insisting that those who. come under our. regulations shall use nothing but white labour. Those who have already come .under the Act by employing white labour cannot revert to the employment of black . labour in plant-ing-their crops, and then claim the. bonus ; but under this’ proposal the holder of a’ big plantation could continue to plant by black labour, and then, having registered, he would come into competition with the small farmer who had readily complied with our law.
– He would not receive the same bonus.
– Certainly he would. If a man desires to plant now he must employ white labour in doing so. The man who does not come under our regulationsnow may continue to plant with black labour, and, provided that he gives notice twelve months before delivery of his crop at the mills, he will be able under this amendment to compete next year with the farmer who has solely employed white labour.
– But for twelve monthshe will have cultivated by white labour.
– Certainly. He will have been trashing and cutting the cane, and carting it to the mill by means of white labour. But the other man will be doing the same thing. So far as the planting is concerned, however, if it is any advantage - and we propose to give this bonus because we hold that it is an advantage - to employ black labour, the man who plantshis crop this year with black labour, and then comes under the Act, will unfairly compete next year with the man who hasplanted with white labour. If these 1,500 men wish to plant this year for future crops, they must do so by white labour, whilst the SOO who have not come under our regulations may plant this year with black labour, and the crops from the two plantings will come into competition for the bonus.
– Is not the honorable and learned senator making too much of tlie planting 1
– I shall come to that directly. We cannot talk about all thephases of the subject at the same time. This at all events may be freely admitted : that if the amendment is carried, the big planters who have not come under the Actup to the present time, and who have been using black labour all along, may go on using that labour, and with the sole condition that if they give notice of their intention to work the crop with white labour for twelve months before delivery of the cane they will be placed in the sameposition as growers of sugar who have had to plant by white labour. We shall be, under this amendment, allowing the men who have not come under our regulations up to the present time the privilege of planting with black labour, whereas we insist upon the men who have come under our regulations, planting with white labour. On the subject of what is involved in the planting, I must say that it is almost impossible for any one to estimate exactly in money what the planting represents, or what the cutting and trashing represent. Everybody, however, will admit that the bonus which has been, and is, proposed to be given to the cane-growers, is a very liberal provision, and it was intended by the people of Australia, when they agreed to it, through the action of Parliament, that it should cover the whole production of the cane. The concession which was subsequently made was in consequence of the peculiar nature of the crop and the circumstances of the case. On those grounds it was agreed that up to a certain time we would not take count of whether the crop was planted by black labour or by white labour. We all admitted that the planters were being treated generously by the proposal made, covering the whole production of the crop by white labour ; and is it fair now to ask that a bonus of £2 per ton, running in the north up to 5s. per ton of cane, should be paid merely for the work of trashing and ‘ cutting 1 The figures were gone into before the original proposal was made, and it was represented that considerably less than that would be sufficient to meet the difference in cost between the employment of white and of black labour so far as harvesting operations were concerned. If this amendment is accepted, and we agree so long as the bonus lasts to give it in respect of cane that has only been harvested by white labour, we shall, I think, be carrying a good thing rather too far.
– The honorable and learned senator is leaving out of consideration the whole of the cultivation and irrigation of the cane for twelve months.
– I am not leaving that out, and I can inform the honorable and learned senator that in nearly every case in which irrigation is used the cultivation is carried on by black labour.
– How often does the crop require to be cultivated - kept clean ?
– Several times. So long as the cane is small the weeds must be kept down.
– I contend that the bonus as originally proposed was held to be sufficient for the whole cultivation of the cane, and I think we shall be asking too much of the people of Australia if we ask them to pay that price- simply for the production of cane, exclusive of the operation of. planting. Thereis another phaseof the question which I should like Senator Glassey to consider. When that honorable senator, myself, and others went up to Queensland, we took great pride in the work which was being done by white labour - the 30,000 tons produced, and the £60,000 bonus earned ; but we were met by the press, hostile to the idea of a white Australia, with the statement that, while we claimed that sugar was being produced by white labour, it was only being partly produced by white labour. That was at the time when the date fixed for growers of cane by . white labour to register under the Act was the 1st March, 1902. Simply because we had made a regulation providing that where growers came in under the Act up to the 1st March, 1902, we should not take count of the way in which their cane had been planted, the fact was taken advantage of by those opposed to our legislation to represent that the bonus was being paid upon sugar which was not
I entirely grown by white labour. If that was said then, what will be said if this amendment is agreed to, allowing the bonus to be paid for sugar only partly grown by white labour as long as the bonus provisions last? Will not that strengthen the hands of the enemies of the movement and weaken the hands of its friends? I think it undoubtedly will, and when the time comes for the matter to be reconsidered, those who advocate and support this amendment will find that they have been very much mistaken in their action. Senator Glassey, as well as myself, has been all through this. The Queensland Parliament in 1892 passed legislation to reintroduce the kanaka, and Senator Glassey will agree with me that a year or two before that time of reaction no one supposed there was going- to be such a reversion of policy. The idea would have been scouted. Those honorable senators who are thoroughly impressed with the advantage of the legislation we have passed, and the desirability of promoting a white Australia may now think that anything like a reaction is quite out of the question, but I can assure them that they cannot be more fixed in that idea than were the members of the liberal party in Queensland at any time between 1885 and 1890.
– The Government proposal would encourage a reaction.
– I think not. I know that Senator Dawson believes that the amendment will induce the plantation owners to give up their kanaka labour and substitute white labour for it. That may be done in some instances, but I am looking at the other operation which is likely to take place, and I believe that the amendment, if agreed to, will mean that for years to come, probably during the existence of the bonus, we shall have the bonus being paid in respect of cane that has been planted by black labour, and planted in that way years after there is any necessity for the employment of black labour at all.
– Is not that fair in the case of a large planter who has three or four hundred kanakas under an agreement which does not expire for twelve months ?
– I have very grave doubts about the difficulty sought to be raised in connexion with these agreements. I know that when the islanders are first brought from their homes they usually enter into a three years’ agreement. We must remember that during the last three years the number of kanakas will be steadily diminishing, and in this the last year in which they may be introduced, the limit of their introduction will be 600, and they will not count for very much. As a matter of practice, Senator Glassey will, I think, agree with me that the kanakas now being engaged are not engaged for three years’ terms.
– No; I think the bulk of them are engaged for three years.
– A very great number of them are engaged only for one year, or for even a shorter term, and I have never heard of any difficulty of the kind suggested having arisen, To go back to the action taken by the sugar-growers which led to the last extension of time, there was not a word said then about their having any difficulty in getting rid of their kanaka labour, exceptfor the one year. They said that notwithstanding the conditions, and not having a free hand - as Senator Glassey will understand - with regard to the labour they employed, they were committed to retaining their kanakas for that one season, but if -the time were extended to 1903, they would have no difficulty in coming under the Act.
– If there are any agreements under which planters cannot get rid of their kanakas we should consider them.
– I doubt if there are any such agreements for three years which would prevent the growers, if they so desired, substitutingwhite labour for black labour. As Senator Glassey knows, the planters can transfer their agreements, as they have done over and over again. If a kanakas are engaged under an agreement for three years to a planter, it does not necessarily follow that that planter will keep them for three years. They are transferred from one employer to another. I do not myself believe that the agreements with the kanakas stand in the way at all. I do not desire to say more upon the subject, except that 1 hope honorable senators will look upon it from my point of view - that what ‘ Senator Glassey is proposing now is that for all time we should allow the bonus to be paid in. respect of cane which has only partly been grown by white labour.
– Not for all time.
– For all time so long as the bonus exists. When the bonus does not exist it will, of course, not be paid. But so long as the bonus does exist there will, under this amendment, be no means of preventing people getting the bonus for sugar-cane planted by black labour. It will offer profitable occupation for coloured labour, and -in that respect it will be a departure from the policy adopted by the Commonwealth.
-It can only refer to cane which has been already planted, and very little that hasyet to be planted will be affected.
– I beg the honorable senator’s pardon. The amendment fixes no limit of time, but allows the bonus to be paid in respect of cane in the cultivation of which, for twelve months immediately preceding its delivery for manufacture, white labour has been employed. So that, in 1906, a man may plant cane with black labour ; and, if he gives notice after he has planted it that he intends to use white labour in its cultivation for twelve months before the delivery . of the crop, he will get the bonus. That is to say, in 1907 he will get a bonus equal, to 5s. per ton, in the northern district, upon cane planted by black labour in 1906.
– I thought that they get very little cane in. the first year.
– Then he would get the bonus in 1908 off the same cane.
– Then there will be no bonus.
– I do not know that.
– The honorable and learned senator knows it, so far as the existing law is concerned.
– Very well ; we have only to take the matter a year back and we find that a man may plant cane in 1905 by black labour, and in 1906 he may receive the enormous bonus of 5s. per ton, in the northern district, upon the crop. I think that that would be regarded as a partial failure of our legislation, because there was a desire on the part of the advocates of a white Australia that, as soon as possible, the growth of sugar in all its phases should be entirely in the hands of white people. The diminution of the number of kanakas will not help us very much, because we know that there is a vast number, of other coloured people in Queensland and New South Wales. This motion came from a representative of New South Wales, in which a large number of Hindoos are employed. There would be nothing to prevent the planters in that State from going on with the plantation of cane by black labour to the end of the term for which the bonus can be granted. They can plant the cane by Hindoos in 1905, give the twelve months’ notice, and in 1906 get the bonus for sugar cane grown by white labour.
– They have to use white labour ever afterwards?
– Yes ; they can go on growing cane with the coloured labour up to the point when they do come in, but they might, after having done their planting with black labour sell out, and, of course, in fixing the price, the fact that the Government is willing to pay a bonus of £2 . a ton on sugar which has been so planted will be taken into consideration. I think it is a mistake from every point of view to make this proposal. It seems to be generally admitted that this matter must come up for consideration at some future time. Surely the fact will then be taken into consideration that the bonus, which was intended by . Parliament to be given only for cane which was exclusively grown by white labour, has been given for cane which was planted by black labour, and only cultivated and cut by white labour. That, I think, will count for a great deal. I consider that the Parliament has treated the sugar industry liberally. Therefore, I do not think it is wise to go further and ask Parliament to consent to this proposal, which I must oppose.
– Will Senator Glassey be gopd enough to withdraw his motion for the present to allow me to move a prior one?
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
– I move -
That before the word “There,” line 1, the following words be inserted’: - “Except as to the
Sum of £163,101, portion thereof.”
If that is carried, I propose to move the addition of this proviso -
Provided that the sum of £163,161, the balance at present to the credit of a trust fund, now part of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, and representing the net collections after deduction of drawbacks, shall be paid to the several States on the basis of consumption in such States of sugar grown in Australia by white labour.
My object is to raise the question whether the Committee should authorize the appropriation of £163,161, which ought to have been paid over to the States seventeen or eighteen months ago in accordance with the law. In my second reading speech I dwelt upon this departure from any usage I was acquainted with. I do not know a single instance in which a legislature has appropriated money in hand which ought to have been paid to one person to the use and for the benefit of another person. If we say that this sum is to be distributed as it should have been distributed had the law been obeyed, we shall prevent the reproach of making retrospective legislation which has the effect of . appropriating money belonging to other States, and which the Commonwealth should have ceased to have any further control over. I ask the Committee in this early stage of our career’ not to make so dangerous” a precedent as to encourage a Government with a high hand, not only to illegally retain money that belongs to others, but after a period of seventeen or eighteen months to introduce a measure vindicating their action and appropriating the money to uses other than those which the Parliament designed. States like individuals make their financial arrangements with reference to the income they expect to receive. It must be assumed that the States made their financial arrangements in the expectation of receiving this money, and I hope that the Committee will hesitate before it creates so bad a precedent as it is asked to make now.
– I do not think that the proposed amendment would read very well, but I take no objection to it on that ground. I shall have to repeat some remarks which I made last evening, when I was speaking in reply to some statements by Senator Playford. There is a considerable amount of doubt as to how the excise revenue should be distributed to the various States. Section 93 of the Constitution, which was not referred to by Senator Playford, provides, amongst other things, that after the lapse of a certain time -
The duties of excise paid on goods produced or manu actu red in a State, and afterwards passing into another State for consumption shall be taken to have been collected not in the former but in the hitter State.
The Treasurer had to interpret the Excise Tariff Act and the Constitution, and he was required to distribute the excise- revenue according to the State in which the exciseable sugar had been consumed. As he points out in his memorandum, a quantity of sugar was grown by white labour and consequently would be subject to an excise duty of £3 a ton, with a rebate of £2 a ton, and in New South Wales and Queensland there was a large quantity grown by coloured labour which was liable to an excise duty of £3 a ton. White-grown and black-grown sugar found its way into New South Wales, and of course, in the process of refining, it was inextricably mixed up, sp that it was impossible for any human being to know how much white-grown and how much black-grown sugar had got into consumption in any State. Senator Playford says that it should be dealt with as a matter of averages. The Treasurer has worked that out ; but when Senators Playford and Downer are holding him to the impossible task of carrying out the letter of the Constitution they can see that he is not doing that if he distributes the excise according to a guess as to the proportions of white labour and coloured labour employed in the production of the refined sugar exported from New South Wales. What the Treasurer says is that when he commenced to receive the payments in the various States it was not for him to say absolutely what proportion of whitegrown or black-grown sugar was consumed in any State. He therefore paid the amounts into a trust account until that particular question had been decided. Then watching the operations of the sugar during twelve months, he came across the other discovery that the basis of the consumption would bealtogether inequitable. Although he did pass the moneys to a trust account, still hedid not refuse to advance the bulk of the money if it had been required by the States. One State, for instance, had an advance of £25,000 from the fund, and any other State could have obtained an advance if required. The Treasurer held that until he was absolutely satisfied as to the amount that he was bound under the Constitution to pay to each State, he was justified in keeping the balance in hand. So far the Parliament has said in this Bill that instead of the rebate for the sugar-growers being taken out of the excise revenue, we should substitute a bonus and pay the money out of the consolidated revenue fund. The effect of the amendment is to leave this sum of £163,161 to be divided amongst the States according to the basis of consumption as laid down in the Constitution Act. The question really raised by the Treasurer is that the rebate should have been, and should be a bonus, payable out of the consolidated revenue, and,, therefore, as new expenditure, a burden On the population bf Australia equally. Senator Downer desires that that principle should not apply to tlie money which has been held in the trust account. That is the very question that Sir George Turner wanted to have decided. How is this bonus or compensation, which has been paid to growers, to be provided for T Parliament having, up to this, point, decided that it should be a bonus, and should be applied on a population basis to the whole of the people of Australia, surely it is reasonable that that principle should apply to the money already collected. If this be the best way of distributing the burden,, surely it must be the best way of doing so in regard to the bonuses paid last year. The sum of £1,’267 having been spent in respect of last year’s crop, Sir George Turner, being in doubt as to how the expenditure should be apportioned, appeals to Parliament. Parliament decides the proper way in which the bonus shall be distributed ; and surely the same principle should apply to the bonuses paid during the last twelve months. The question would come up ordinarily in connexion with clause 7, which provides that the payments already made in respect, of the white-grown cane to the farmers shall be regarded as bonuses under this measure.
– I intend to support the amendment of Senator Downer.
– Repudiation !
– My honorable friend gets into a wild state of excitement sometimes ; but even when in an, active condition of effervescence he should use moderate language. The very reasons given by my honorable and learned friend, the Postmaster-General, justify the amendment. In the first place, the Postmaster-General is a little in error in speaking of Parliament having already adopted the principle of payment according to population, and not according to consumption.
– I say up to this point.
– It is an unhappy phrase. We shall do justice to the Postmaster-General if we assume that it was used without particular regard to legislative accuracy.
– I stated exactly how the Bill stands.
Senate is a “ still small voice “ in the legislation of this country, and the Senate has not yet given any final expression of its opinion on what appears to me to be a most pernicious, mischievious, andunjustprinciple, and one that would inflict a very serious Joss upon the States of Victoria, South Australia, and, in a small degree, I think, Western Australia. I am sure that Senator Downer is doing the right thing in raising the point at the earliest possible moment, with regard to the sum of money which is, so to speak, earmarked, and with which we are in a position to deal apart from other questions, such as that involving any acquiescence in my amendment, upon which we shall deliberate fully later on. My honorable and learned friend, the PostmasterGeneral, put two views before the Senate. One was that the Treasurer was in a difficulty in regard to the rebate, because after the sugar was sent from Queensland to the refineries in New South Wales, and probably elsewhere, the black-grown and whitegrown sugar got inextricably mixed up. Such difficulties have happened before, and they cannot be avoided. We can understand them, and have the greatest sympathy for the Treasurer in that particular. But as was interjected by, I think, Senator Playford, the Treasurer must do the best he can.
– He makes a statement showing how the money might be distributed.
– Exactly ; and he shows how the distribution is approximately arrived at. We cannot expect the right honorable gentleman to make the distribution with the most mathematical accuracy. We cannot expect such things in politics at all. We have to get there or thereabouts. But if there were any difficulty in that regard it should be met,, not by repealing the system adopted in the schedule to the Excise Tariff Act, but by introducing a short Bill, supposing the divergence were very great, and the Treasurer thought that it required parliamentary sanction. I mean to say that if there were a big margin of error, he could bring in a short Bill to enable him to adopt, say, the particular system of distribution that is put before the Senate in a paper which has been circulated, and to legalize it. So far as concerns that position, the remedy is short and clear. I am sure that no honorable senator would for a moment hesitate to accept Sir George Turner’s estimate of what was a fair thing on a consumption basis. But the real question is : are we now, twelve months after this legislation was passed - the States having relied upon their revenues receiving the money prescribed in the Excise Tariff Act - to say that the money to which they are entitled shall be distributed to them, not on a consumption basis, but. on a population basis ? Such ex post facto legislation is a perfect scandal.
– The honorable and learned senator should be moderate in his language !
– I beg pardon : I ought to follow my own precept, and will do so. I withdraw the word “scandal” and substitute “enormity.” There may be some circumstances of a very extraordinary character which would justify ex post facto legislation ; but this is not one of them. We are not justified in passing ex post facto legislation to substitute for the method of calculation upon which the State Treasurers have depended in their Estimates another one altogether. Eor instance, according to the figures, South Australia is to pay a large sum for the benefit of New South Wales. South Australia is to put her hands in her. pocket to the tune of nearly £6,000, and Victoria to the tune of £16,000, in order to make a present to New South Wales, where the sugar planters do not employ coloured men. I saw that my honorable friend, Senator Walker, at whose feet I sit in matters of political morality as a rule, said that he welcomed this as a measure of fair play. If there is any epithet which it is inappropriate to apply to this Bill it is that of fair play. The use of it convinces < me that there is an extraordinary difference between an ordinary conscience and a political conscience. In respect of his ordinary conscience, Senator Walker is my “guide, philosopher and friend”; but he falls from his high estate when his political conscience comes into play. I fail to understand how the measure could be advocated on that basis, certainly in respect to the old amount to which Senator . Downer’s amendment particularly applies. However the Legislature may regard it as to the future, as to ‘the past, upon what principle can it be justified ? I know quite well that some of my honorable friends sitting around me are not with me in this matter, but I must do the best I can now that I am . deprived of Senator Walker’s guidance and his following. It doesseem to me, quite apart from South Australia’s peculiar interest in this matter, to be a wrong thing to adopt legislation cutting away the principle laid down by the legislation of last year upon which the excise was to be distributed. As the PostmasterGeneral says, the question before us is not in respect of the growers, nor does it affect the question of a white Australia. It is a mere matter of business. Who shall pay ?Who agreed to pay? What is the fact ? The growers have been paid the money due to them, and the remaining question is how the States are to be debited with the money that has been paid to the growers. Is it to be the people who, under the legislation which we solemnly passed last year, were the consuming States, or the entire population ? The people of Victoria have a right to say, “ We prefer imported sugar upon which £6 per ton is paid to come into our country rather than consume sugar from Queensland upon which we shall get only £1 per ton in excise.” If they have a right to say that if they please -and they have said so to a certain extent- - why should we, by a sweeping piece of retrospective legislation, rob them of money to which they are entitled 1
Because that is what it comes to. Why should we be called upon to make a present of that money to the great State of New South Wales. There is no principle in it except that, New South Wales being a wealthy State, we say-
To him that hath shall be given, and from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.
The principle being Biblical, commends itself possibly to Senator Walker. But I know no other principle upon which such a proposal can be justified. I submit with the greatest earnestness and strength that the amendment of my honorable and learned friend is worthy of support. I do so without affecting the white Australia question in the slightest degree.
– Who is to pay for the white Australia policy ? All Australia, surely !
– So we are doing by the sugar we consume. If we want our sugar to come from Queensland, grown by white labour, we pay excise upon it ; but why should we be penalized perhead of population if our people prefer other sugar, upon which -.ve pay £6 per ton in Customs duties ? If we prefer to import* our sugar, and pay Customs duty upon it, we ought to have the proportion that is due to us paid into our State Treasury
– Does the honorable and learned senator say that the people of Australia exercise a conscious preference in purchasing imported sugar?
– I do not know ; but why should they not if they like 1 Why should we deprive them of the right to do so by a piece of retrospective legislation ? Why, after a man has earned his income, take it away from him by ex post Jacto legislation. I am sure that my honorable friend will agree with me that there is no more vicious principle in parliamentary affairs than that of enacting ex post facto laws. It is an evil in every respect, and that which is sought to be cur.ed by my honorable friend’s requested amendment is one of the worst I have ever seen.
– I think we shall all agree with the honorable and learned senator who has just resumed his seat, that we should not, as a rule, make laws retrospective. To do an injustice, however, would be to do something much more undesirable. We are placed in this position : that we must either do an in- ‘ justice to several of the States, or do that to which Senator Symon so strongly objects. I should like to bring the honorable and learned senator’s memory back to the time when we gave effect to this policy. Was it not the intention of the Legislature then that each State should pay the cost of “ whitewashing “ Australia according to population ?
– Upon a consumption basis.
– No ; according to population. That was the impression conveyed to the mind of every honorable senator. But because it has been discovered that, by reason of a fault in the method of carrying out that arrangement, honorable senators from certain States can, with an appearance of decency, evade this arrangement, they are anxious to do so. They are exactly in the same, position as the dude who has his starched collar, his well-washed shirt, and all his orders, but who objects to pay his wash-lady. The business of cleansing Australia of the kanaka was the business of the entire Commonwealth, and it was understood that the cost of carrying out the work would be borne by the whole of the Commonwealth, just as is the cost of defending our shores. Every item of new expenditure is borne on a population basis. This is new expenditure. The Parliament of the Commonwealth said - “ We desire that the kanaka shall be deported, but we do not ask Queensland or New South Wales to pa)’ the entire cost of substituting- white for black labour in the fields. All the States are willing to bear their share.”
– According to the consumption basis.
– No ; that was only an after-thought. That plea might be all very well in a police court, but it is wholly out of place in the Seriate of the Commonwealth. It is only such a plea as a pettifogging attorney would bring forward on behalf of a client who perhaps wished to evade payment of his just dues. It is unworthy of those who pretend that they represent the people of a great community. I do not believe that they do represent the feelings of their constituents. They may represent the Treasurer of South Australia or the Treasurer of Victoria, whose only concern is to show a satisfactory balance-sheet, and to avoid additional taxation. But should they not pay their just dues ? Are we to have a spirit of this kind introduced into the affairs of the Commonwealth at this early stage of its career1! Are we to have one, two, or three States endeavouring to wriggle out of their responsibility simply because an Act of Parliament has not been framed as it should have been 1 Honorable senators who oppose this Bill ought to be ashamed of their conduct. No one knows better than does the honorable and learned senator who spoke last that however much his contention might hold in a court of law it would not bear two minutes’ examination in a court of equity. I should be very sorry to think that even in a court of law the intention of the Legislature would be overlooked.
– The intention was clear that the payment should be on a consumption basis.
– I never understood such a thing ; if I had I should have opposed the proposal. Is the “ whitewashing “ of Australia to be borne by only two States 1 Is this one community, or halfadozen 1 Can we speak of Australia as being one house or half-a-dozen houses? , It is one house, and every occupant of the house should bear his share of the cost of cleansing it. My honorable friends from South Australia do not want that State to bear its share of the cost. They desire that it should escape the liability.
– We are willing to bear our share on a consumption basis, as the law provides.
– The law may say that, but so far as I have been able to discover it was never intended, either by the Government or by Parliament, that the cost should be borne otherwise than upon a population basis. Why should Queensland and New South Wales be mulcted in all the cost of this whitewashing process ? We are not cleansing Queensland, but all Australia. This is not a Queensland matter ; it is an Australian matter, and, therefore, I submit that the cost ought to be borne by the people of Australia. There is no method other than the population basis that I can think of as offering a fair way of distributing the cost. I trust that the requested amendment moved by Senator Downer will be rejected.
– The eminent representative of South Australia who lately addressed the Committee seems to be unaware of one or two facts, which I beg to convey to him. In the first place, we had last night a division which by nineteen votes to four practically decided the matter 710 w sought to be re-opened.
– That vote was given under a misapprehension.
– Then again, Senator Symon is very much agitated in regard to the finances of South Australia. He wishes us to believe that that State is going to be very badly treated, and that she is not to have the revenue which she -was led to expect. If the honorable and learned senator had been present last night, he would have heard me quote from the original Government estimate, a statement showing that the estimated South Australian revenue under the excise and ‘ customs duties on sugar was £47,000.
– The honorable senator thinks that is too much for us to have ; he wishes to take away some portion of it.
– No ; but instead of £47,000, South Australia will receive according to the revenue returns £97,000. The honorable and learned senator could not have been aware of that fact, or he would not have raised the plea as to the poverty of South Australia.
– I never said anything about her poverty.
– The revenue returns positively show that South Australia has been advantaged by -what has taken place, to the extent of £50,000. If the excess of £50,000 be reduced to £45,000 - that is to say, if South Australia receives £92,000 instead of £47,000- surely the Treasurer of that State should be in a very happy position. If expectations were always realized in that way, this would be a Very happy world in which to live. I do not think therefore that Senator Symon was very happy in the argument which he put before us. Whilst I agree that according to the letter of the law, the Government ought to have paid over certain moneys which they have not handed over, still I say that they have done what is right. They have done something better than mere compliance with the letter of the law - they have obeyed the spirit of the law. When they saw that obedience to the letter of the law would mean that there would not be a division of the cost of carrying out this policy according to the terms which they had put before Parliament they decided to withhold the distribution of the money pending the decision of Parliament. I am not always in favour of the actions of the Government, but it seems to me that on this occasion they have done right. A suggestion has been made that I am possibly influenced in supporting this Bill by the fact that it is in favour of the revenue of New South Wales. I admit that it is, but I deny that my vote or voice is given in favour of it for that reason. In proof of that statement I would remind the Committee that I was the first to raise the question of the adjustment of revenue between the States and that under that adjustment New South Wales has to pay a good many thousands of pounds which go to the two smaller States of Tasmania and Queensland. I might then have said to myself “ I shall not raise this question because New South Wales will have to pay some thousands of pounds.” I acted according to my conviction and my knowledge in that matter to the detriment of New South Wales, and I am doing what my conviction and knowledge lead me to do in this instance although New South Wales will have some pecuniary advantage from the change which this Bill will bring about.
– I am sure that we were all delighted to hear “the interesting address delivered a few minutes ago by Senator Symon. No one enjoyed it more than I did. I agree with Senator Stewart that the cost which the carrying out of the policy of a white Australia involves is new expenditure incurred on behalf of the Federation, and therefore is not chargeable as transferred expenditure. But for the comfort of honorable senators from South Australia, I think I ought to mention that I find that, exclusive of rebate, the income from sugar duties obtained by each State is as follows : - New South Wales receives only £3 9s. lOd. per ton ; Victoria, £5 Ils. 3d.; and Queensland, £3 2s. lOd. ; while South Australia receives no less than £5 18s. 2d. Western Australia also obtains £5 4s. 2d. per ton, while Tasmania receives £4 6s. 3d. It will therefore be seen that under this system, which does not give satisfaction to honorable senators from South Australia, that. State is receiving, from the sugar duties, £2 15s. 4d. per ton in excess of the amount received by Queensland.
– The people of South Australia are paying that money out of their own pockets.
– It is evident that if the people of Queensland thought fit, they could ship the locally grown sugar to South Australia, to their own advantage, and import sugar for their own requirements. The boot would then be on the other foot. The correct thing to do is, undoubtedly, to call upon Australia as a whole to bear the cost of carrying out this policy on a population basis. By whose votes was the policy of a white Australia earned into law? Largely by the votes of the representatives of South Australia and Victoria. Our South Australian friends do not wish to pay a brass farthing towards the cost of this great movement. I should except Senator McGregor, who has shown himself a thorough federalist. I confess to great disappointment that my leader on this side and I should take opposite views on this question. I may tell honorable senators that my sympathies are really more with Queensland than with New South Wales. I am looking to the future, and we should lay down correct laws now, because the bonus will have to be paid up to the end of 1906. I did not catch the full meaning of Senator Downer’s amendment, nor do I thoroughly understand the honorable and learned senator. I have been unable to discover where he gets the £163,161 to which he referred. I take it that the amount in dispute is £60,000or £61,000. However, I shall oppose Senator Downer’s amendment, and, when the opportunity is given, I hope to support the amendment submitted by Senator Glassey.
Senator GLASSEY (Queensland). - I have been very much disappointed with the speech of Senator Symon. I thought that if we had a federalist amongst federalists it was the honorable and learned senator. I listened to the honorable and learned senator in the Convention of 1898 with the greatest possible delight. I had the pleasure of travelling with him across to Adelaide, and up to the present moment I looked upon him as. one of the leading federalists of the day. But, after the little parochial speech I have just heard from the honorable and learned senator, I begin to doubt his federal spirit. The whole question is whether Australia as a whole is to pay for the benefit of a white Australia ? I remember that South Australia sent a majority of honorable senators into this Senate in favour of a white Australia, and a majority of those representing Victoria came into the Senate in favour of the same policy, but, when it comes to a question of paying for it, they apparently desire to shift the burden on to the other fellow. A great deal has been said about the basis of payment, and it has been suggested that the bonus should be paid upon the basis of consumption. I have gone carefully through the debates on the Bill in another place, and I do not find that a single objection was raised there to the proposed payment upon a population basis.
– In the future.
– No. The Bill as introduced, and as it left the House of Representatives, was retrospective, and honorable senators will find that the opponents of the measure in another place dealt merely with the question as to whether the time for registration should be fixed at the 28th Eebruaiy of this year, or whether it should be extended. Senator Styles introduced the subject of payment on the consumption basis, and he was followed on the same lines by Senator Best. But the whole question is whether Australia is to pay for this cleansing policy, or whether two only of the States should bear the cost. We all admire the bright, clear intellect, and the ingenious style of reasoning possessed by Senator Symon ; but I should like the honorable and learned senator on this occasion to be a little more broad and liberal. I should like him to show that he is an Australian patriot, and not merely a representative of South Australia. I hope that spirit will animate the honorable and learned senator, because I desire his assistance to carry my amendment later on. I hope he will rise to the occasion, as Australia expects he will, and agree that if this is a wise, prudent, and humane policy for Australia the whole of Australia should pay for it.
– It seems to me that we are rather flogging a dead horse. When a decision was arrived at by about four votes to one last night, surely it is hardly worth while going over practically the same ground with a certainty of the same result. Is it consonant with the dignity of the Senate to go over the ground a second time in this manner ? I know it is a very admirable thing not to know when one is defeated. Many a battle has been won by British arms through the refusal to acknowledge defeat. But, at the same time, there have been occasions in British history when failure to recognise defeat has simply meant courting disaster. There cannot be disaster perhaps in this case, but I do not think there can be anyspecial gain of credit for the Senate in merely repeating last night’s settlement of this question. One point in the discussion occurs to me’ as deserving some attention. Wehave representation on a population basis, and I think we should also have the representation of finance in the settlement of this question on the population basis. While J recognise very clearly that this is one of the occasions in the history of this Chamber on which honorable senators will be very apt - and will display their aptitude in some instances - to recognise the State they represent rather than the Commonwealth they assist in representing, it is very satisfactory to find that there are other honorable senators who take the broader and the larger view, and who are willing and ready to make the sacrifices financially that they have asked other States to make. In other words, honorable senators representing southern States, who are not interested in cane-growing, have asked, nay, have demanded, from Queensland particularly - and, to a very small extent indeed, from New South Wales - that the people of those States should make financial concessions, should sacrifice, if honorable senators like, the advantage of using coloured labour which is esteemed by many employers - in whose interests 1 Not in the interests of the northern States themselves, but in the interests of the whole Commonwealth.
– We in South Australia have been making a large sacrifice for a very long time.
– My honorable friend Senator Charleston has a duty upon South Australian salt, and therefore let him hold his soul in peace. The southern States have asked the northern States to make sacrifices in connexion with the class of labour they employ, and the sacrifice asked of them was to benefit the whole Commonwealth. Therefore it is surely but right that those who ask so much should be prepared to take their part in the sacrifice. If people will wear a white suit of clothes they must pay the laundress, and we cannot divide up the cost in the peculiar manner suggested by Senators. Symon and Downer. The amendment proposed by Senator Downer requires a great, deal of explanation, and I am quite sure it will be found very difficult to. pass. I am satisfied that on broad grounds of public equity the Senate will adhere to its decision of last night, and enact that representation and . expenditure - involving taxation - shall go hand in hand. I shall oppose Senator Downer’s amendment, but I shall have something more to say when Senator Glassey’s amendment is again before the Committee,, particularly as to some things which were said in the Senate last night, when I had no opportunity of reply. We are now in Committee, and I shall have the opportunity of reply, and, probably, some thingswhich were said when my mouth was shut will not be repeated when I have the opportunity of answering them.
– I desireto make one or- two remarks after the interesting lecturette to which we have just, listened. Senator Neild is quite satisfied with a payment upon the population basis, and does not believe in the adoption of the consumption basis. I wish to inform thehonorable senator that I also will be perfectly satisfied with the adoption of thepopulation basis if we distribute both exciseand rebate upon that basis. So far as Victoria is concerned, we could agree to settlethe matter on the population basis very soon. If that basis were adopted in respect, to both excise and rebate, New South Wales would receive nearly £99,000 in exciseinstead of £168,000, and would pay £21,642 as its share of the rebate. On the same basis Victoria would receive nearly £86,000 instead of £24,000 in excise, and would have to pay £18,786- as her share of rebate. We should be quitesatisfied to adopt that system. I think I may speak in this connexion also for honorable senators from South Australia. If theexcise were distributed on the population basis, South Australia would receive nearly £26,000 and would pay £5,658 in rebate.
– -The honorable senator desires that Victoria should receiveexcise upon the sugar consumed in New South Wales, and customs duty on thesugar consumed in Victoria?
– I say that what issauce for the excise- goose should be sauce- for the rebate gander. I want both items to be dealt with in the same way - either on the population basis or on the consumption basis. The supporters of the Bill desire the excise to be distributed on the consumption basis, but they require the rebate to be paid on the population basis.
– Is the honorable senator proposing to divide the whole of the sugar revenue on the population basis?
– I am proposing to divide the excise and the rebate. The honorable senator wishes New South Wales to share the import duty whichVictoria and South Australia have paid on sugar, because they could not get a supply from either New South Wales or Queensland. He would’ like other States to pay the planters in his State, who have been growing sugar-cane by white labour for 30 years, for continuing to do so. If this question were decided on the consumption basis, Queensland would not be affected, except to the extent of a few hundred pounds. The whole point is, whether New South Wales ought to pay £21,246 on the population basis, or £44,000 on the consumption ‘basis. It is the great State which is to derive all the benefit. It was understood that the Pacific Island Labourers Bill was passed for the purpose of excluding kanakas from Queensland, but so far as I can see that State does not benefit much from the proposed legislation. It is New South Wales that is to take the lion’s share as usual. I should like Senator Neild to agree to adopt the population basis.
– The honorable senator wants to work things half one way and half the other way.
– That is exactly what the Bill proposes to do. What I am fighting for is uniformity - the principle which was laid down in the Constitution and adopted by the States Parliaments and the Imperial Parliament. If the consumption basis is fair and proper in one case, surely it is fair and proper in the other.
– It gives me the greatest possible pain to resist the affectionate appeal made by Senator Glassey. I regret very much that I am unable to yield to him, and that I still adhere to the view that the principle of Senator Downer’s proposal ought to be inserted in the Bill. Senator
Glassey said that I had fallen from the high estate in which he very eagerly placed me as a federalist. He seems to think that when to federalism one unites a love of justice and fair play, he ceases to be a, federalist. I do not agree with that view. In seeking ‘to secure justice not to my own State, but to all the States, and to obtain an adherence to principles upon which we have already acted, I do not think I can be accused of departingfromtheFederal spirit with which he credits me. Senator Stewart spoke with very great vehemence. It is generally the man who is in imminent danger of the punishment he deserves, who thinks that not only the lawyers are pettyfoggy, but that the Court is pettyfogging. The honorable senator will find that it is the convict who takes an adverse view, and when he used that very unhappy illustration he must have been recalling the experience of a friend, who had been placed in imminent danger in a police court. Justice in this matter, is the very thing which the honorable senator does not wish to get. That is the one thing which we desire, and the one thing I fancy which Senator Downer means by his proposal. I was greatly interested by Senator Walker who, speaking on a matter with which he was acquainted, discussed for a considerable time a proposal which he did not understand, and could not explain. I think that my honorable friends from New South Wales must be in the position of the Dutch, of whom it was said -
In matters of commerce the fault of the Dutch
Is in giving too little and asking too much..
The basis of consumption which was laid down in the Constitution Act, was followed strictly in the framing of the Excise Tariff Act. The vice of the position struck Senator Neild at once, although he was-not quite pointed in its application to the view which Senator Styles was putting, that the Bill is to introduce two different principles. You have the clear declaration in the Constitution, that there shall be no population distribution in regard to the excise duties, and that principle is to operate for five years. But in this Bill you wish to violate that principle of the Constitution - to distribute the excise duties according to the consumption, but to make the States liable for the rebate according to the population.
– That is not done in this Bill.
– That is the effect of the Bill. We are not touching now the question of a bonus for the future. What -we are saying is this: “In accordance with the Constitution you declared, twelve months ago, that there should be a distribution of excise revenue according to the consumption.” You declared, twelve months ago, that there should be an obligation in respect of the rebate according to consumption because it is a deduction from the excise, and now you propose to have a double system where there was only one.” I always feel interested in any advice which is offered as to the position of South Australia. Nobody has said that it is in a povertystricken condition. It is in a position just as Victoria is, in which it requires the law to be adhered to. When Senator Pulsford says that, although South Australia expected to receive only £47,000 from the duties it has received £96,000, and Senator Walker gives the figures per head, what does it all mean ? It means that that money is being taken out of our own pockets. It is a case of “thank you for nothing.” Why should we be asked to pay £6,000 because we have been a largely importing people who have paid £40,000 odd more in this direction than we were expected to pay. The thing is ludicrous.
– We are asking you to pay for a piece of humane legislation.
– My honorable friend brings in this exuberant sentiment. It has nothing in the wide world to do with humane legislation. But if it had, what have we paid for a white Australia 1 Not £90, 000. This white Australia policy, so far as regards the question involved in employment of coloured labour in the tropics, is rather a hard-driven policy. It is a policy which, I think, under the name of a white Australia - in that respect, mind - is liable to abuse, and may have to undergo some revision if the Northern Territory is ever to be a prosperous part of the Commonwealth. That, however, is not the question we are dealing with. But if it were the question, and we were asked why we should grumble at having to pay £6,000, I should answer that South Australia has suffered a loss of £2,700,000 in respect of the Northern Territory, owing to her inability to use coloured labour, a.nd sustains an average annual loss of £79,000. The taunts in regard to South Australia and its paying for “whitewashing” the rest of the continent do not affect me in the least degree. I rest content with what it lias done, and the enormous cost which has fallen upon the State largely owing to its adherence to the policy of a white Australia and its unwillingness to introduce into the Northern Territory that labour without which we were assured it could never prosper, and without which it is not prospering. I say that to justify the position that we in South Australia take up. If honorable senators pui; the matter on the broad ground of assisting to pay the expense of a white Australia policy - and it is not so at all - our “ withers are unwrung “ in that respect. If it is put on the ground that it is better to pay the money on a population basis than on a consumption basis, I say, to begin with, that that is unconstitutional. We did the constitutional and the right thing by enacting as we did last year, and should adhere to it. We should not pass retrospective legislation which will inflict a burden upon three States for the benefit of New South Wales and Queensland, though, in saying that, I would add that I wish New South Wales and Queensland to have all the benefit to which they are entitled. For these reasons I say that we are not called upon to negative the principle upon which we framed our legislation last year.
Senator STYLES (Victoria). - It has been said that what it is proposed to grant is a bonus. If that be so, what are these papers which have been placed in our hands at the instance of the Treasurer1! The first of them reads -
Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia. - Rebate of excise duty allowed on Australian sugar grown by white labour.
In this document Sir George Turner says -
I have, as requested, considered the letter of the Premier of New South Wales to you, dated Srd February, 1903, on the subject of the proper method of charging the rebate, £2 per ton.
There the word used is “ rebate,” and the rebate is to be paid out of the excise duty.
– But this Bill provides for a bonus instead of the rebate.
– I am talking of the document placed in our hands for our information. Another letter, dated 10th inst., uses the words - “Approximate rebates paid 1902-3.” Then, again, we have the phrase, “Distribution of rebates on basis of populationand basis of consumption.” I was corrected yesterday when I said that these were not bonuses. I stated then that it did not matter what they were called ; it all came to the same thing. But here is an official document showing that they are rebates to be paid out of excise collected in each of the States. Therefore they should be paid in accordance with consumption, and not in accordance with population.
– I wish to say a word or two, more by way of explanation than anything else, in reply to what Senator Playford said last night. It seems that he understood me to say that “rebate” and “bonus” are synonymous terms. I can assure Senator Playford that I meant just the opposite. I tried to point out that a rebate and a bonus were as opposite as could be. I think I pointed out that this rebate would come out of the sugar industry, and that to call it a bonus was a misnomer. We have discussed this aspect of the question sufficiently, and I think we might have been spared the debace of this afternoon. No new ground has been broken, and no opinions have beenaltered by anything which has been said to-day. The voting which will take place will, I hope, show, notwithstanding all that has been said, that the opinions of honorable senators to-day are the same as they were yesterday.
Senator MACFARLANE (Tasmania).When I spoke yesterday, I said that this Bill was the result of mal-administration of the Excise Tariff Act. Now we have seen very clearly that that is so. I draw a distinction between the past and future. With regard to the past, we ought to carry out the law as it stands, but for the future I am quite willing that the distribution should take place upon a population basis. I shall vote for the amendment, which means justice and the application of the law as it stands with regard to last year’s transactions.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
Senator GLASSEY (Queensland). -I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the clause by omitting the words “ After the twenty-eighth day of February one thousand nine hundred and three,” nod inserting in lieu thereof the words “ for a period of twelve months immediately preceding the delivery thereof for manufacture.”
I wish to say a few words in reply to the Postmaster-General. He said that during his recent tour in Queensland he went to Cairns, and found that the people there were well satisfied with the progress made for the abolition of coloured labour. He told us that he had made the most of that fact on the public platform. So far he is perfectly correct. The honorable and learned senator says that two deputations waited upon him at Cairns, and asked him to use his influence with the Minister for Trade and Customs with regard to the time within which the planters, by means of white labour, were to register in order to obtain the bonus. He agreed to do so. The planters told him that if they got the time extended from the 1st March of last year to the 1st of March of this year, they would be perfectly satisfied. My experience justifies me in saying that the planters of sugar in the Port Douglas and Mossman districts, who have not seen their way to discontinue coloured labour to any great extent, were by no means satisfied with the time limit suggested by the. Postmaster-General. I hold in my hand communications which have been received from planters and others, particularly in the Bundaberg district. The
Chairman of the Chamber of Manufactures - Mr. Young - wires on behalf of the manufacturers of sugar in that large and important district to this effect -
General opinion here Bonus Bill will prevent further registration for white labour, time having passed. Thomson’s amendment if inserted would enable growers change to white labour as kanaka contracts expire, and encourage subdivision estates amongst small growers.
I have also telegrams from Mr. Angus Gibson, another large grower, who is anxious to subdivide his estate - not merely for the purpose of making an enormous profit, as has been alleged, but with the object of falling in with the law. He is anxious to subdivide his estate in such a way that white men will be able to settle, with their families, upon small holdings, and work them themselves, with the assistance of white labour from outside. Mr. Angus Gibson wired me as follows : -
See no more cane licences gran ted. ““Ti Does Parliament now legislate that we shall continue with Indians and Chinese? I approve Thomson’s amendment.
Then the small growers - men of limited means, and those who are anxious to register under the Act when their contracts with the kanakas expire - held a meeting at Bundaberg, on 20th June, and wrote to me to this effect -
Sir, - At a public meeting of the farmers and cane-growers of the Bundaberg district held this afternoon, the following resolution was unanimously carried : - “That Mr. Thomson’s amendment that registration for white labour twelve months before the cane crop was harvested, should entitle farmers to the bonus ; and it was hoped that the Senate would insert this amendment, otherwise no extension of white-grown cane could take place.”
That letter was signed by Mr. A. C. Wiles, secretary to the meeting. I do not understand the reference that has been made to the statement made on behalf of the people of Cairns, but this letter should be sufficient to show that the people of Bundaberg, Maryborough, Childers, and other places are not satisfied with the time limit proposed in this Bill and that they think that an extension as embodied in the amendment moved in another place by Mr. Thomson should find a place in this measure. They have requested me to move in the matter, and I have done so, not simply because of their request, but because when travelling recently throughout the length and breadth of the sugar-growing districts of Queensland, I saw sufficient to convince me that I without this amendment the Bill would do a great injustice to a number of persons. The white Australia policy will be retarded to a great extent unless this amendment is adopted, and the working of large estates by means of black gangs will go on as long as the law permits. I hope, therefore, that the Postmaster-General will offer no further opposition to my proposal.
– Order. I will ask the honorable senator not to proceed until he obtains perfect silence.
– One remark made by me that has apparently given great offence was the simple statement of a fact shown by the returns of Queensland, namely, that the cry as to the contamination of the white races by the intrusion of kanaka blood is a purely fictional fancy and folly. Although there have been tens of thousands of kanakas in Queensland for 30 or 40 years, there are not now more than 41 kanaka half-castes in the whole of that great State. That fact is kept in the background, while the allegation is made that it is necessary to deport the kanaka and establish this bonus in order to maintain the purity of the Anglo-Saxon race.
– Is that the only criterion of immorality ?
.- I shall have something to say about that. That is one of the propositions submitted in favour of the bonus, and in favour of getting rid of the kanaka. There is not only the purity of the race, but also the stamina of the raceto be considered, and that stamina cannot be maintained in a tropical climate by unsuitable employment. I know there aremany honorable senators who have travelled in North Queensland ; and let them go, I care not where, to the hotel table, in the public street, to the steamer table, or anywhere in North Queensland, and they will find the white races unfortunately suffering from the effects of the climate. They will find white women in North Queensland deteriorated in health and stamina to a deplorable degree.
– What warrant has the honorable senator for saying that ?
– The warrantof common sense and of one’s eyesight, and the warrant also of a knowledge of one’s fellow creatures. Surely Senator Dawson will not maintain such a proposition as that a tropical climate, whether of Queensland or of any other part of the world, is as suitable to the health and the productiveness of white races, as is a cooler climate ?
– I venture to assert, that you will find more sturdy women and children in North Queensland than thereare in Melbourne.
– It is a very well known fact, attested by experience in all parts of the world, that the first, second, or third generations of a whiterace in a new country show increased fertility and very often increased stature. Senator Dawson must not forget that North Queensland is a very new country, and has not been settled in any shape or way for more than twenty years. Can honorablesenators form, from ten or twenty years residence of the white race in North Queensland, any proper estimate of the maintenance of race conditions in that part of the world as against the known failure of race conditions so far as white people are concerned in tropical countries in other parts of the world? In India, for instance, it is known that the white man and thewhite woman - and the European animal becomes practically extinct in four generations - become sterile to the extent of extinction. We know that the same applies totropical America, and in ihe face of this experience can we be absolutely certain that because’ the first-born generation of whitepeople in North Queensland is sturdy and stalwart, that that country is going to- falsify the record of the rest of the world ? It would be pure nonsense to advance such a proposition. I have been endeavoring to show that the bonus proposed is intended to provide for white labour that cannot be obtained on equal terms with coloured labour, but I have no desire to continue that line of argument. 1 now wish to give the Senate some further information with reference to this question of the bonus and the manner in which it works. It will show that after all is said and done, the bonus to be offered is a gigantic profit as compared with the saving effected by the employment of coloured labour. I have here a report, ‘which I had not in hand when I spoke upon this subject last week. I shall give the Senate the benefit of the information it contains. It is a report of the operations of certain white canecutters at Mossman during the past season.
– If the honorable senator had been here last night he would not mention it.
– I propose to read some extracts from it. It is an official report, signed by the chairman and secretary of a public limited liability company. This is what it says -
Shortly after it became known that a rebate would be paid on all cane cultivated after February 1002, and harvested by white labour, nineteen farmers made application to be registered under its provision. Out of this number, no less than ten allowed their claims to be forfeited rather than take the risk of not getting their crops harvested satisfactorily.
So that over one-half of the entire number who first sought to obtain the advantage of the Commonwealth legislation, abandoned their claims in the course of the first few months.
The remaining farmers, however, interviewed the Mossman Central Mill Company Limited, with a view of arranging for white men to trash and harvest’ their crops, and as the company was equally anxious to give the white men a trial, they therefore made an agreement on behalf of those farmers claiming rebate, with contractor W. Smith to trash cane at 15s. per acre, and cut and load at 4s. 6d. per ton, with the stipulation that not less than 40 tons of cane were to be delivered daily at ‘the mill. After the white men had almost finished trashing the said contractor disappeared mysteriously, and thus forfeited the £50 deposited upon behalf of himself and gang.
That bears out the statement I made last week.
– The whole thing has been proved to be an absolute fabrication. 4 t
– I choose to believe the statements appearing in a public document from well-known men rather than the mere hearsay statements of interested persons.
– It has been proved to be a fabrication upon sworn affidavits, andby newspaper correspondence.
– I know something of these men, and I am satisfied that it is quite possible to obtain anything one desires in the way of reply. The report proceeds -
Being still desirous of giving this matter a fair trial, the company made a similar contract with George Taylor, whose gang contained the same men, and arranged that their :£50 deposit in addition to the £50 actually forfeited be returned to the contractor at the close of the season, provided the contract was carried out in accordance with the agreement and to the satis-‘ faction of the mill management. We may mention that the general manager a-nd cane inspector were instructed to see that the gang had every consideration as to trucks and rails. Cutting commenced at Mossman on the Kith .July with one gang, until September, when it was found impossible to cut the whole of the registered cane without adding to the number of men. The contractor arranged to increase the number and divide them into two companies, sending the second to Saltwater. The average number of tons of cane delivered per day up to the Srd September was 35 ‘7S, and’ with tlie combined gang 52’S, although in the latter case the contractor agreed to deliver not less than 70 tons per day.
So that they on!)7 worked up to two-sevenths of what they contracted to perform.
For about three days after each pay, the deliveries of cane hy the white gang decreased, owing to the intemperate habits of a number of the men. Of course, it is unnecessary to mention that “to keep the mill rollers going continuously is one of the chief factors in making the industry a success, and this necessitates a steady and reliable supply of cane. It was stated in the Port Douglas and Mossman Gazette some time ago that the mill company had chosen the worst cane in the district for the white gang to harvest, including cane that the Hindoos had refused to cut. This assertion was entirely without foundation, and was refuted by the company at the time. In fact the farmers registered without consulting the company, and this was the only cane harvested by the white gang. Before the contractor signed the agreement he was requested to inspect the registered cane, and expressed satisfaction its to the cane and general surroundings. There were other untrue reports and letters written by men who had been in the gang which were not considered worth replying to.
They appear, however, to have been worth reproducing in the Senate -
Knowing that the true report of the experiment would be published at the termination of the crushing, which would speak for itself. Ii appears strange that on almost every occasioi these letters were written by men who had been discarded from the gang. The following is an ex tract from a report of one of the company’s direc tors, who registered the whole of his crop foi rebate : - “ Commenced cutting in my field in October, and finished during November. The crop averaged 15 tons per acre, which is a fail average for the district. There were 26 men in the gang when cutting commenced on my farm, but only an average of sixteen men turned out tc work on the farm per day. After their first pay while cutting for me there were only a total oi twenty men in the gang, out of which about twelve on an average for a week worked in the field. The result of the second pay was simply a repetition of the first. During my cutting the weather was exceptionally cool for this period of the year, excepting about two days, when a considerable amount of complaining took place relati ve to the heat. “
I do not wonder that some senators whistle.
– On two occasions I have heard a whistle. It has certainly occurred within the chamber. I am unable to say that any honorable senator has been guilty of such disrespect to the Chair. But I certainly hope that nothing of the kind will occur again.
– The report proceeds -
AYl the cauo cut and loaded was from ordinary level land, excepting about 60 tons on hills where food roads were made previous to planting, lightly under an acre of cane was burnt, containing 12 tons of cane, which I wished to have harvested, and ottered to lay the portable lines into the cane, and give the gang an extra shilling to cut. Barrett was in charge of the gang during the ganger’s illness, and had agreed to do it. Next morning the men commenced work, and should have finished it early that morning easily had it not been for an agitator persuading the men to leave it. The result was this cane was a total loss to me. During the time, the gang cut 958 tons, an average of 274 tous per day.
Before finishing the last block of cane registered for rebate, the owners, Messrs. Smith Brothers, reported that they considered it was almost impossible for all their cane to be harvested before crushing terminated. Therefore the company advised the contractor tocease cutting and the Hindoo gang had tocOmmence afewdays later. All the cane registered was cut by white labour, excepting 591 tons of Smith Brothers already mentioned. It is noted that there were 50 men who either left or were discharged during the season, which goes to.show what trouble there would be to get a sufficient number of reliable men to harvest the cane growing in the north. Further south a great deal of cane is loaded into drays with several good men working together, in which case they receive the full benefit of their labour, but in our scattered district it has to be all worked w i fch porta ble 1 i i ics which necessi tates about twenty men working together. Each man receives the same rate of pay for the day’s work, although some men may do far more and better work than the others. This has been the cause of a certain amount of dissatisfaction amongst the men.
We are informed by the ganger that only ten of the men who commenced at the beginning of the season remained iu the gang until the finish. From the commencement, neither the first nor the combined gang averaged the quantity as per agreement, notwithstanding the number of men to be employed according to Taylor’s first agreement was not limited by the company, and, after the agreements had been terminated by the latter, the following letter was addressed to the chairman of directors by the contractor,. Geo. Taylor : -
Mossman, 8th January, 1903.
Chairman of Directors,
Mossman Central Mill.
Deal- Sir, - I hereby beg to apply for the ,£100 deposit, as an act of favour. I acknowledge it is actually forfeited through non-fulfilment of the conditions of contract entered into, but assure you we have done our utmost to fulfil it. I also acknowledge having received an ample supply of trucks and rails since we commenced work, excepting on one occasion, when we were without rails for two days about the end of November, while cutting Rutherford Bros.’ cane. Trusting this will meet with your favorable approval,
That bears out absolutely the statement I made here.
– If, as was stated yesterday, the letter was extorted from the man under a promise that it would not be divulged, that was wrong.
– That is a double-barrelled accusation. It is a very extraordinary thing that although this report has been circulated for months, it is only now that honorable senators hear of it for the first time.
– No. The remarkable thing is that the honorable senator has not seen the answer to it.
SenatorFraser. - It was only yesterday that I knew the facts as stated.
.- I made this statement -
It may be mentioned that half the number who registered under the provisions of the Act would not have done so had it not been that almost the whole of their cultivation and part of their thrashing had been finished before they were forced to cultivate with white labour.
That is a statement which I made here, and which I knew to be true long before this pamphlet reached my hands. I knew it to be a fact when I was in Queensland last year.
– Are the main facts stated there correct or not ?
– Of course they are correct.
– Do any members of the labour party know that they are incor- rect.
– Yes, and we have an affidavit to that effect.
– When I spoke on the question of the cost and the advantage to be gained over and above what is necessary in connexion with doing away with coloured labour, I referred to this passage -
In most instances the extra expenditure incurred was only 5s. per acre trashing.
The contract was to be for 15s. a ton, that is taking the worst with, the best. Trashing rattoon cane is heavier work than trashing original cane, because more rattoon canes grow from the stools than from the original plant.
In most instances the extra expenditure incurred was only 5s. per acre trashing and 2s. Cd. per ton for harvesting, which left an additional profit) of say 32s. 6d. per acre profit on a 15-ton crop.
If the total cost of white labour is only 7s. Gd. an acre more than the cost of coloured labour, and we are going to pay £2 to cover this additional outlay, it will be a handsome bonus.
For the ensuing season, when the cultivation as well as the harvesting has to lie done with white labour, not more than two growers out of nine are qualified for rebate, which clearly shows their opinion, after the practical experience of last year’s operations. There are 82 cane-growers in this district, and we understand that up to the present no new applications to claim rebate have been made for the ensuing season.
For the Mossinan Central Mill Ltd.
Mossman, 19th February,1 903.
I also referred to the fact that there has been an amount of rigour applied by the Federal Department in imposing these labour conditions. In New South Wales, I published in the columns of the principal morning paper a statement that was made to me by a very competent official authorityin Queensland with reference to the case of a man whose father was a Scotchman, and whose mother was a Maori. All his life this man had lived and worked with white people ; no exception was ever taken to him, And in colour of skin he was not darker than some honorable senators I see in the chamber. And yet he is not now allowed to earn his living at work which he has been doing for years, because if he appears on a plantation the white Australia business is applied with such stringency that no bonus is given. J’n the same newspaper article I made another statement, and I suppose, when I make it here, I shall be jeered at. When a man’s plantation took fire, and a neighbouring planter sent his kanakas to put it out, the former had to run to the road to implore them not to come on to his premises, because, if they did, he would lose his bonus. I am jeered at as I anticipated. But what about the deputation at Cairns that waited on theMinister for Trade and Customs, and represented these very matters to him, and obtained a Ministerial promise that in future more consideration would be shown 1 Honorable senators who, because they come from a corner of Queensland, think they know all about everything -that happens in that immense territory, see fit to question every item of official information whether it is State or Commonwealth, so long as it does not consort with, I shall notsay their preconceived ideas, but the ideas which they wish to inculcate. I do not quarrel with honorable senators being prejudiced up to a certain point, but when nothing that is said in opposition to their view is worthy of credence, no matter from what source the information comes, it becomes a question us to whether they do not allow their enthusiasm to outrun their sense of theobligation of recognising that there are in the world other persons who can speak the truth.
– Does the honorable senator think that7s. 6d. per ton is enough rebate?
.- No ; what I say is that we are paying very handsomely for our “ whistle.” I support the proposal of Senator Glassey, because it will encourage the gradual substitution of white labour for coloured labour. In the matter of the payment of the bonus, the Government wish to shut down on all crops which have not been handled from the initial stage by white labour. The proposal of Senator Glassey is much more equitable ; and if it is possible to cultivate cane in tropical country with white labour, it will bring about a proof of the success of the experiment in a much more early and satisfactory manner than either by compelling every one to use coloured labour to the very last minute, or by requiring the rooting up of the existing canes, in order to plant fresh ones. I admit that in the tropical portions of Queensland I do not hope for the results which some honorable senators look for. I am anxious to see the experiment honestly made, and if we can overcome, by our efforts, the conditions that appear to have been imposed by nature, then all the better for those who have maintained the view, that the entire cultivation of the cane by white labour will be the success that is desired.
– I feel very deeply the fact that Senator Neild is offended with me. In making his complaint, he has not confined himself strictly to the facts. He began by saying that I took a mean advantage of him in his absence.
– No ; I did not say that the honorable senator took a mean advantage of me.
– The honorable senator implied that if he had been present, I would not have criticised as I did the unjustifiable, unwarranted, and prejudiced remarks which he made in his second-reading speech. So far from that being the fact, before the Senate met I informed Senator Neild that I intended to speak upon the question, and that at that very moment I was looking up information in reply to the charges that he had made. I said that I was not quite sure at what hour I should have an opportunity of addressing myself to the subject. Senator Neild says that he listened to me for half-an-hour yesterday afternoon, and that during that time I had not come to the portion of my speech criticising him. I venture to contradict that statement. If he or any other honorable senator looks at the report of my speech in Hansard, he will find that T did not make use of words that would have occupied half - an - hour before I came directly to what Senator Neild had said. I prefer to criticise a man in his presence ; but, when I looked round the chamber, I could not find Senator Neild. He was not here. I am informed that Senator Neild has a weakness for making charges and for beating a masterly retreat when a reply is about to be made.
– That cannot be the case in this instance, because he has repeated the charges.
– Any one will fight when bailed up in a corner. It is to be regretted that Senator Neild did not remain to hear the whole discussion in reply to his charges.
– Perhaps he had to go home.
– He was not compelled to go home, because he came in immediately I sat down.
– I came in immediately I heard that the honorable senator was speaking.
– Here are two contradictory statements. The honorable senator commenced his criticisms by saying that he listened to me for half-an-hour, and now he says he came in immediately after “ho knew I was speaking. The honorable senator has no reasonable justification for saying that I attacked him, and replied to his accusations in his absence. He had ample opportunities for remaining in the chamber to hear what was said in reply tohis statements, which were unworthy, untrue, and absolutely unjustifiable on the facts of the case.
– I understand that the honorable senator does not mean to say that Senator Neild was capable of saying- ‘ what was an untruth, but that he refers to the statements made by Senator Neild as. being inaccurate f
– That is absolutely so. I say that the statements made by Senator Neild were untrue, and I shall set myself the task of proving it.
– I object to that.
– Well, the statements were inaccurate ; they were not correct.
– We do not want to have a fight in Committee between two honorable senators.
– Direct charges have been made by Senator Neild against me, and at the very least I have a right to expect that those who have listened patiently to those charges will be men enough to listen to my reply to them. If they do not care to do so, let them exercise the same amount of dignity and courage that Senator Neild showed, and retire fromthe chamber with coat tails flying.
– We heard the honorable senator’s statement yesterday.
– I have no intention of furnishing again the information which I gave yesterday, but I certainly intend to point out, for the information of those who are watching what takes, place in the Senate, that Senator Neild, being absent from the chamber, did not hear the refutation of his charges, but that he came back on the following day and repeated them. Senator Neild states, as reported in Hansard, that I, by interjecting “Hear, hear,” acquitted him of designedly making untrue statements. I certainly did so. But I challenged the accuracy of the statements he was making, and he was asked to indicate or particularize, so that we might reply to him, the districts where the things of which he spoke took place. He has not done so. He has made a statement about North Queensland. Now I was born and brought up in North Queensland, and know something about the conditions prevailing there. Senator Neild has virtually made charges against the whole of the sugarfarmers in North Queensland by refusing to particularize any portion of it. He says that there was gross sweating going on amongst the wives and children of the sugar-farmers. By absolutely refusing to particularize in any way whatever, he, in the most cruel manner - and as the matter has come to this point, I will add in the most cowardly manner - left it to be inferred that the whole of the sugar farmers of North Queensland were guilty of sweating.
– The honorable senator has no right to use the word “ cowardly “ against another honorable senator. I will ask him to withdraw it.
– I have no wish to come in conflict with the Chair, and if you, sir, can suggest a term that is just as expressive
– No ; the honorable senator must withdraw the word “cowardly.” It is most unparliamentary.
– In deference to you, I shall withdraw the word “cowardly,” but I will say that an accusation made in such general terms, without allowing us, who are so closely concerned for, and connected with, the people living in that portion of the Commonwealth to test the statement, was not manly.
– But suppose Senator Neild believes it to be true ?
– If he believes it to be true, he should put before us the evidence in his possession. His duty, as a manly man, and an honorable senator, was to furnish the evidence.
– I gave the authority.
– The honorable senator gave absolutely none.
– The authority I gave was that of Queensland sugar-cane district inspectors ; it is in Hansard.
– I failed to hear the honorable senator, and I fail to find the statement reported. We want to know in what particular district these things take place. From my knowledge of North Queensland I give the most emphatic denial to Senator -Neild’s statement. I do not intend to labour this question, but as he made a special point of beating a masterly retreat last night, and returned to repeat his statements this afternoon, the least I can do, for the information of the general public, is to indicate what attitude he has been occupying in regard to this question. He has insinuated in the grossest way that the information supplied b)7. me last night, in reply to the pamphlet from which he has so extensively quoted, was given to me by persons who had .been discharged by the Mossman Mill Company - by persons of no account, who only made charges against the company because they had been dismissed for drunkenness and other offences which the company could not possibly condone or excuse. I took particular pains about this matter. Senator Neild labours under the disadvantage of having heard only one side of the case. The information which I quoted was supplied by Mr. George Taylor, who has written to the public press of Australia, and who has sworn an affidavit the subject-matter of which was inquired into by the officers of the Minister for Trade and Customs. The Minister satisfied himself of the truth of the assertions made by Mr. Taylor, and used the information in reply to the critics of the Government during his recent tour in Queensland. So that when Senator Neild states that those who have furnished the information were discharged for drunkenness and incompetency, he levels that charge against a person whose statements were inquired into by the Minister himself, and which, on investigation, were proved to be satisfactory. In his statement this afternoon the honorable senator told us, in the first place, that he is a believer in and supporter of the sentiment of a white Australia. But immediately afterwards, forgetting that declaration, he tried, with all his force and ability - and I must admit that he has a considerable amount of both - to demonstrate that to carry on the sugar industry under the proposals of the Government is impossible owing to the unfitness of the white races for working in the tropics. Let me show the real opinions of Senator Neild upon this matter. I have here a quotation from a letter which the honorable senator wrote to the Sydney Morning Herald. It indicates the real opinion on the white Australia policy entei’tained by Senator Neild. He wrote -
It wiis the proud boast of Englishmen that on
British soil nil men had equal rights. It has been reserved for the Commonwealth to create legal distinctions between man and man, such as Australia never knew before, and to deny to a British subject his daily bread because of a shade in his face ! I have yet to learn that you can reverse the decisions of Providence by Act of Parliament. The going of the kanaka will be followed by the extinction of the great sugar industry. This happened before when Samuel Griffith prevented the employment of kanakas, and it will happen again.
This afternoon he tells us that he is a believer in and a supporter of the white. Australia policy, yet in this letter - which he deliberately wrote, and had time to revise, in order that his opinions might be accurately expressed - he proclaims his antagonism to that policy, and his belief that the salvation of the sugar industry lies in retaining the kanaka.
– And he also says that he will support the amendment.
– Yes ; Senator Neild further tells us that he intends to support the amendment. I intended to reply to the attack made by the honorable senator on the women folk of Northern Queensland, but, on second thoughts, I think that, considering the source from which it comes, it is just as well to leave it alone.
– I desire briefly to refer to the amendment before we proceed to a division. “ I intend to vote against it for the reason that all the planters were perfectly familiar with the conditions under which they could participate in the bonus to be given for sugar produced by white labour, and that therefore no excuse can be found for those who have failed to comply with those provisions. This proposal, if carried into effect, would be unjust to those who have complied with our regulations. It would enable those who are still employing black labour in planting cane to continue to do so until it suited them to get rid of it, and then, having given twelve months’ notice of their intention to employ white labour, to secure the bonus in respect of the first subsequent crop. Let me, however, state a case by way of illustration. Let us take the case of a wealthy planter who owns a very large estate, and employsa large number of kanakas under contract. He puts one-half of his holding under sugar cultivation by kanaka labour. Then, he engages a few white men to keep it going, and removes the kanakas to the remaining section of his property, which he prepares for sugar cultivation by black labour, and from which he perhaps takes acrop before the time expires within which he must get rid of his coloured workmen. Meantime the crop on that portion of theplantation first placed under cultivation hasbeen cut by white workers, and the planter ‘ obtains the bonus for it as being sugargrown by white labour. The same course is followed by him in regard to the remaining portion of his property, and in this way he secures the bonus in respect of the whole plantation. It would be unjust to those who have complied with theconditions laid down by the Government toallow such a thing to be done. We know very well that, after the first crop has been crushed, very few men are required to tend the growing cane until the next crop is ready to be harvested. When that stagearrived, a planter who had put in a crop by black labour would engage a sufficient number of white men to cut it and deliver it to-, the mill, and so would secure the bonus. No one could say, however, that sugar produced in that way had been grown only by white labour. As a matter of fact, it would be a piebald sugar, but under this proposal, the owner of- the plantation would receive the bonus in respect of it.
– From the discussion which has just taken place, I have learned the lesson that, when another incident such as that which occurred yesterday takes place, it will be necessary for me to exercise the greatest possible care not to occupy the attention of the Senate for one moment in respect of it. As Senator Dawson does not appear to clearly understand the position, I must explain that I heard the first portion of his speech yesterday, and then left the chamber to post some letters in the Library. While
I was there I took up a paper and was reading it when an honorable senator came in and informed me that Senator Dawson was attacking me in the Senate. On receiving that information I returned immediately to the chamber, but the honorable senator had concluded his references to my speech, and I had not the ad vantage or disadvantage of hearing what he said. It is absurd to suggest that I intentionally absented myself from the chamber, as .1 did nothing of the kind. As to ray authority for the statement which I made last week, I shall simply quote a few lines from the Hansard report of my speech. At page 107S it is set forth that, in answer to an interjection by Senator Drake, I said -
If the honorable senator will tell me that he knows more about this matter than do the official inspectors of the Queensland Government
– I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable senator in order in reading this quotation from Ilansard’1.
– The honorable senator is in order in regard to this matter.
– The report continues -
I shall of course implicitly accept his assurance. I am speaking, however, upon the authority of officials who nave no interest in politics nor in profits.
I shall not deal with any other matter to which reference has been made by Senator Dawson. It is not worth while taking up the time of the Committee in dealing with personalities, and I rather regret that I took any notice of his attack.
– I did not wish to take any part in the duel between Senator Neild and Senator Dawson, but now that it is over, I should like to express my surprise at the attitude adopted by Senator Neild in supporting this proposal. It seems to me that it is entirely contrary to the position which has been taken up by him in regard to the black labour question. I could hardly believe that he is deliberately attempting to destroy the Bill, because I think it is one, which, as a whole, he desires should be passed. If the honorable senator is not inconsistent, is it not well that we should remember certain remarks made by him on two occasions in this Chamber? Only a few days ago he asserted that the rebate had been paid in respect of cane which was not wholly grown by white labour*. It is distinctly within my recollection that the honorable senator charged the
Government with having being guilty of fraud or something of the kind.
– The honorable senator said that this talk about growing sugar by white labour was altogether a sham ; that, as a matter of fact, we had been giving the rebate to persons who were not growing sugar by white labour, but only harvesting it in that way.
– That is true.
– Yet the honorable senator now supports a proposal which, if carried, will enable him, whenever he desires to oppose the white Australia policy, to point out that the rebate or bonus has been continuously paid for harvesting, and that the attempt we have been making to bring about the growth of sugar by white labour has failed.
– I did not think that the honorable and learned senator had such a crapulous mind.
– I shall not object to the honorable senator’s words. I know that he has a particular vocabulary, and I suppose he could not express his ideas without resort to some of these expressions. If the honorable senator is supporting this proposal in order that he may be able in future to adopt that argument, he is acting very consistently. When the question comes up again, as it must do by-and-bye, the people who are opposed to the efforts we are making to secure the growth of sugar by white labour, will be able to use the argument which I have stated if this amendment is passed. They will say that under the Excise Tariff Act we made provision for encouraging the growth of sugar by white labour ; that having done that, and finding that our effort was unsuccessful, we had to make a further attempt in that direction by saying that up to the 1st March, 1902, we would take no account of whether the planting of the cane was done by white or by black labour. Then they will say that when we found that we were bound to give an appearance of success to that action, we passed another resolution in which we extended the time of registration to the 1st March, 1903. . Finally, they will say that we discovered that even that scheme was unsuccessful, and that we went further still by providing that any one who had been growing sugar by black labour might “ obtain the bonus by using white labour for twelve months prior to the delivery of the cane at the mill, notwithstanding that that cane had been planted by black labour.
– This imputation of motives is out of order.
– I am not imputing any motives to the honorable senator ; I am ‘ only pointing out what will be said at some future time by opponents of our policy if this proposal be accepted.
– Is there not a greater chance of black . labour being continued by some planters if we refuse to hold out this inducement to them ?
– No. I admit that this proposal may have the effect of inducing some planters who have not declared for white labour to do so. Indeed, I have admitted that from the first. But I am looking at the question from the other point of view that we are extending the operation of black labour in connexion with the growth of sugar. We have allowed the planters to divide their plantations for the purposes of the rebate, and, as SenatorFerguson has pointed out very correctly, a man may plant one part of his estate by black labour, and, having done that, he may declare for white labour and obtain a bonus in respect of that crop. He may then move his coloured labour to another part of his estate.
– He will not get a bonus in respect of the whole plantation.
– We have already allowed them to divide their estates. We extended the period of registration to the 30th March, 1903, that special concession being made on the grounds which I have already set before the Committee. Any further extension would be unfair to those who have been induced to bear the expense of substituting white for black labour, on the pledge which was given at the time that no extension would be made so as to allow others who did not come in under these conditions to quietly declare for white labour twelve months in advance, and reap the benefit of the bonus to the same extent as the others.
– Would it make those who came in before the 1st March, 1903, any poorer?
– It might. At a time when there is a good season, and the production of sugar is fully equal to the capacity of the mill the fact that there is more cane waiting to be crushed than can be crushed does make a difference. It is proposed to give facilities to the planter who has not taken advantage of our white labour proposals to come in now ; to cultivate his land with black labour, and to bring his next crop into competition with those of the small men who were induced by us to substitute white for black labour, and to earn the bonus on the conditions laid down in the first instance. That will extend the time during which we will have to pay for what I venture to call “ piebald “ cane. If we adhere to the terms of the Bill, and allow the 1st March, 1.903, to be the limit of time for registration, it will mean that from this time out there will be a constantly increasing proportion of cane grown wholly by white labour - not only harvested, but also planted by white labour. By accepting the amendment, we shall encourage the perpetuation of the payment of the bonus for sugar that is only “piebald.” I think that is a bad thing, because it will encourage those who now use coloured labour to continue to use that labour. But I deprecate the action proposed to be taken, as I said before, for the reason that it will play into the hands of those people who assert that the money we fire paying as bonus or by way of rebate does not go to men who grow sugar by white labour, but to men who reap crops by white labour from cane planted by black labour. There is one point to .which I desire to refer, because I was not ready with the actual text of the Acts when the matter dealt with was first brought forward. The statement has been freely made during this debate that we should agree to the amendment, because the introduction of coloured labour is still permitted, and planters who are employing this coloured labour are under three years’ agreements with their kanakas. The first thing that makes it perfectly clear to me that that has not been an obstacle in the past in the way of men coming under the rebate provisions, is this - While I was in Cairns the farmers came to me and pointed out the reasons why they had not been able to come under the regulations and register themselves before the 1st March, 1902. The reasons they gave me were, first of all, that they did not understand the conditions under which the bonus would be paid - that is to say, that they would get the money in cash at the mill - and secondly, that they had been induced to enter into agreements with coloured labour for that season, and if the time were extended to the 1st March, 1903, they would then be perfectly free to get rid of their coloured labour, and employ white labour in place of it. They promised if that concession were made that they would all come in, and, I presume, they have done so.
– Is that in the district to which Senator Glassey has just referred ?
– No ; Senator Glassey referred entirely to Bundaberg. What I have stated proves clearly that the farmers were under no disability arising from engagements made with kanaka labour. The reason is this - It is provided by section 14 of the Queensland Act of 1880, which is known as the principal Act, and which is, of course, in force, except in so far as it is superseded by the Act which we have passed, that -
All agreements for service made with Pacific Islanders shall be in the form in schedule G to this Act, or to the like effect, and shall be completed in duplicate on board the ship, and attested by the immigration agent or an inspector before the landing of the passengers.
That is to say that under that Act kanakas brought from their islands entered into an agreement on board the ship in the terms provided in the schedule, for 36 months. That is the three years’ agreement which we have heard spoken of. Then we have the Act of 1884, which is directed to be construed with, and as an amendment of, the Pacific Island Labourers Act - the principal Act - making the following provision with regard to the agreement : -
All agreements for service made with islanders, whether the stipulated time for their return to their native islands has arrived or not, shall be in the form of schedule G to the principal Act, or to the like effect, and shall be made in duplicate, and attested by the immigration agent or an inspector, who shall retain one copy of the agreement ; provided that the term of service specified in any such agreement may be for any period not exceeding three years.
Then there was a regulation made on the 25th February, 1S96, as follows :-
All agreements for service made with timeexpired islanders -
That is islanders who have been in Australia for three years - - shall be for a period of not less than six months, and at such rate of wages as may be approved by the immigration agent or an inspector, and no agreement shall be attested by the immigration agent or an inspector where the term of service therein prescribed is less than herein provided.
Honorable senators will therefore see that, though a kanaka is introduced under a three year’s agreement, there is nothing to prevent him being transferred from his first employer to another, so long as the term does not overrun the three years. There is, therefore, nothing to prevent a canegrower from getting rid of his kanaka labour, and replacing it with white labour, if he desires to do so, because the kanaka can get another engagement.
– He may not be able to find another engagement.
– As a matter of fact it is known to every one who understands the sugar industry, that these kanakas are transferred from one employer to another, and it is now quite the exception for any kanaka to be working upon long terms of service.
– The supply of kanakas at present is much greater than the demand for them.
– That is all the more reason why the cane-growers should be able to get rid of them,” as they can engage them upon very short terms.
– No ; the difficulty is that if they have them under agreement for three years they cannot now transfer them to other people.
– I do not think there is anything in that. Honorable senators must remember also that it was in August, 1901, eighteen months ago, that the Excise Tariff Bill was passed, and I have never before heard this difficulty about agreements advanced as a reason why those planters who have not come under our regulations could not have done so if they had so desired.
– They gave me that reason at Bundaberg.
– It is quite new to me. I think that if they had desired to do so they could have come under the regulations, especially in view of the extension of the time for registration up to 1st March, 1 903. Is it not extraordinary that when the application was being made to extend the time to 1st March, 1903, no objection was made on the ground that that would be too short a time ‘i
– Was the extension given by regulation 1
– It was. The first regulation published fixed the 1st March, 1902, as the date, and subsequently at the request of a number of the smaller sugargrowers the time was extended to the 1st March, 1903.
– When was that regulation made public?
– I was at Cairns at the beginning of December, and had interviews there with the sugar planters. It was in consequence of their request that I made representations to my right honorable colleague, the Minister for Trade and Customs, and he framed the regulation, which was approved by the Executive Council, and published towards the end of December, 1902.
– The planters were allowed to have black men at work on one part of their land and white men on another.
– The reason that was permitted was in order to enable a planter who had a certain amount of coloured labour, and who desired to come under the provisions of the Act, to keep his coloured labour on one part of the plantation, and declare for white labour so far as the other part of the plantation was concerned. The action taken was all in the direction of assisting those who were willing to do so to come under the provisions of the Act. It was considered at the time by a great many people, and amongst them those persons who cavil at us for paying money upon cane which is not wholly produced by white labour, that it was a very great concession for us to agree to pay the bonus in respect of cane planted by black labour. It must be freely admitted by every one that when the Excise Tariff Act was passed last session, it was not intended that the rebate of £2 should be paid to any one who did not produce sugar wholly by white labour. The reasonableness of the concession made was only shown afterwards when it was seen that it would be unfair, seeing that men had been planting with black labour right up to the last moment, that they, should be debarred from getting the bonus. The concession when first made was admitted to be a very great concession, and it was one for which we were blamed. The extension of the time to the 1st March, 1903, was conceded only on the distinct understanding that no further extension would be asked for.
– I wish toask the honorable and learned senator whether he construes the Bill to mean that a planter who has given up his black labour, say, this year, and plants his cane with whitelabour next year, cannot get the bonus ?
– No ; certainly not. If a planter is employing only white labour from the 1st March, and he plants cane, it is clear that the cane will be produced wholly by white labour, and it does not become the subject of this regulation at all. The reason why the 1st March, 1903, is put in as the limit of time for registration, is that if a man does not employ any coloured labour after that date, he may get the bonus for his cane even if it iscropped from stools put into, the ground by black labour previous to that date. I am afraid that honorable senators have been misled by reading the regulation, issued last December, which provided that persons, who were anxious to claim the bonus thereunder, should notify their intention before the 1st March, 1903, the object being toenable the Department to arrange for supervision. Some precaution of that sort is absolutely necessary. The proposal of Senator Glassey requires that twelve months’’ notice shall ‘ be given of an intention toclaim the bonus. Of course, it is only reasonable that a man who intends to claim the bonus should give some notice, in orderthat some steps may be taken to see that there is some kind of inspection. Otherwiseit might be impossible to prove that the conditions have been fulfilled. There isnot a shadow of doubt but that a man who plants his cane after the 1st March, 1903, and harvests his crop by white labour, is entitled to the bonus under the terms of the clause. The effect of the provision is to remove the black labour stigma from cane that has been planted before that date ; such cane will rank exactly as though it had been planted by white labour. That* in itself is a considerable concession to make. During the dinner adjournment I had the opportunity of consulting theMinister for Trade and Customs, and he has assured me that the regulation which may be made will only be designed for the purpose of providing that a notice - liberal and ample - shall be a;iven, so that means maybe taken to see that the conditions of the law have been complied with before the bonus is granted. The 1st March, 1903, is the limit fixed beyond which cane which , has been planted by black labour is not to be regarded as though it had been planted by white labour. After that date if a planter wishes to earn the bonus, he must use white labour exclusively, both in planting and in harvesting. But if he uses exclusively white labour in harvesting after that date, then the fact of the cane that was planted before that date having been planted by black labour, will not count against his claim. [ am glad that I have had an opportunity to make that point clear. I would ask the Committee to consider the measure as a whole, and not unnecessarily to do anything that may endanger its passage. We cannot pretend to shut our eyes to all knowledge of what goes on in another place. We know that this proposal, worded in the same way, was amply debated there and defeated. I concede our absolute right to send back the Bill, with a request that this amendment should be made; but still we should act with our eyes open when we ask the other House to make an amendment which it has refused to make at the request of its own honorable members. It might produce a strong difference of opinion between the Houses, and, to a certain extent, imperil the passage of the Bill. If a broad matter of principle were involved I could understand that it might be the right thing in all the circumstances to risk any conflict by putting our ideas into the Bill. But seeing that this is only a proposal to extend the permission given iri the Bill for the use of coloured labour, I think it would be really unwise for that reason to endanger its passage. I desire to address more particularly those who I know heartily approve of the principle of the Bill, and would like to see it made law. I hope that if the proposal is carried my fears may be groundless. But I think I am justified in putting honorable senators in possession of the facts, and asking them to take into consideration the circumstances attending the passage of the Bill in the other House, and to be careful not to imperil its fate. In my opinion the Parliament has acted generously in this matter, and we should hot by attempting to ask for more than what is reasonable run the risk of getting less than we have had. The Bill establishes a principle which most honorable senators think is a fair one - that the payment shall be regarded as a bonus to be allocated on a population basis. If the Bill should unfortunately miscarry in conse quence of any action taken here, that principle will be lost. I hope that the Committee will carefully consider that matter before a division is taken.
– The Postmaster-General has drawn a most moving picture of the light in which this amendment would appear to the public at large if passed. The suppositions which he placed before the Committee could only be deduced by what we may fairly call the very unintelligent public. He wishes us to believe that the public at large would consider that we saw that the Act was failing in its purpose, and were trying to let ourselves down gently by making it easy for planters to employ black labour. Nobody with the least intelligence would for an instant draw any such conclusion. What are the real facts of the case ? We set to work last session to pass a Bill, in order to render it as easy as possible for white labour to be employed in sugar cultivation. It appears now that, to a certain degree, we did not take all the circumstances of the case into consideration, and the Government have brought in a measure’ to amend tlie principal Act. It seems to me that the proposed amendment of Senator Glassey is an absolutely necessary one. It is true that it does not emanate from the Government, but Senator Glassey has discovered in their measure defects to which they deliberately desire to shut their eyes. Under the Bill as it stands, any person who plants cane after the 1st March of this year with black labour, is absolutely barred from employing white labour. If he endeavours to employ white labour he will be unable to obtain the bonus that is obtained by those who will be employing white labour at the same time. It is an absolute encouragement to employ black labour. A man will fail to get the bonus that other employers of white labour will get, and he will therefore Be compelled to employ kanakas under a contract which will oblige him to continue their employment for three years from the date they land. I wish honorable senators to understand that a man who employs kanaka labour now to plant his cane can keep such “labour for a certain number of months under the Act of last session, but if he engages that labour he is bound to engage it for three years under contract. We want to give the planter of sugar-cane every encouragement to employ white labour, and to make it as far as possible unremunerative to employ fresh kanaka. labour. That should be the object of our legislation. Senator Glassey very reasonably says that if a planter, who at the present moment is working his estate with black labour, sees the error of his ways and desires to employ white labour, we should give him the same facilities as are extended to those who are employing white labour now. That is the object-of the amendment, which has my heartiest sympathy. It is the object we had in view when we passed the provision in the Excise Tariff Act regarding the payment of rebates. In spite of everything Senator Drake has said, I am convinced that the public, when they come to consider the question, will see that this view is absolutely right. Certainly it appears at first sight as if we were encouraging black labour. We say that a planter may still go on cultivating his cane with black labour, but that if at a later date he undertakes to employ white labour he shall get the bonus. That, however, was the very object we had in view. We want, reasonably and without pressure, to bring the planters of sugar-cane into a frame of mind which will induce them to employ white labour. Honorable senators must not run away with the idea that under this proposal planters can employ white labour for a year and then’ revert to black labour. They must employ white labour altogether, or lose the bonus. For these reasons the amendment appears to me to be worthy of the support of the Committee, and I shall be prepared to vote for it.
– I want to have a clear understanding with the PostmasterGeneral upon this subject. Suppose that planter A put in his cane on the 1st March last, employing black labour. Suppose that he sold his plantation a month or so after planting. Say that the purchaser gave notice to the Government of his intention to substitute white labour for black- and wished to register under the Act. Under those circumstances I hold that, according to the explanation of the Minister, the planter could not get the bonus. Am I right in that view ?
– I think the honorable senator is wrong; I believe the planter could get the bonus.
– In reading the speech of the Minister’s colleague in the House of Representatives - which I did very carefully - it appeared to me that it was distinctly stated that if the cane was planted by black labour the bonus could not be granted. Is that right?
– Then that is a gross injustice and will work improperly. One man may be receiving the bonus, and alongside him may be another man who, although employing white labour, is not allowed the bonus, because in the latter case the cane was planted at an unfortunate time when black labour was employed. Both the planters will be doing what we desire to be done - namely, utilizing white labour. I should consider myself a contemptible human being - to say nothing of a senator - if I did not desire to see white labour earning good money instead of black labour. My contention always has been, and still is - for I am not convinced to the contrary ; when I am convinced I shall be ready to make it known - that in certain parts of North Queensland . it will be impossible to comply with the Act. But if the Minister will alter the clause so as to make it to read as I should like it to, I shall vote for it.
– What limit would the honorable senator fix ? We have fixed 28th February, 1903.
– The clause gives the Minister power to refuse to pay the bonus on sugar grown from cane planted by black labour.
– After the 28th February ; there is no discretion about it either.
– I grant that any cane planted before that date is entitled to the bonus. But is the provision fair ? I may purchase a plantation, and work it with white labour. The cane may have been planted for a year or two, and will be good for several years more. But because it was planted by a former owner who employed black labour, I shall be debarred from receiving the bonus. Let the Minister take a commercial view of the case. Planter A may have his hands full of business, though his pockets are very empty. Perhaps he has engaged kanakas under contract. Can he afford, as a commercial undertaking, to get rid of them or keep them idle, and employ white labour? It would be a ruinous transaction. The proposal of the Government flies in the face of sound business operations.
– And the crop will be penalized in case the planter desires to sell the estate.
– Exactly ; this provision renders an estate comparatively valueless by putting a brand of inferiority upon it. That is a wrong thing to do. I should be very sorry indeed to do anything to hurt the sugar industry. It now has to face the competition of cheap sugar from abroad. Two years ago it was in a much better position, but the cheap sugars of foreign countries are sq low in price _ that the planters of Queensland will requ re all the assistance we can give to them.
– There may be, at the present time, a number of sugar growers who are quite willing, when a reasonable opportunity offers itself, to employ white labour only, but they may have contracts or agreements with a number of kanakas. Those agreements may have commenced twelve months or two years ago, and the planters may have to carry on their cane-fields with those coloured men, though quite willing to revert to white labour. The amendment has for its object the relief of men of that description. Seeing that this measure will extend only until 1st January, 1907, and that consequently the planters have only a short period to come and go upon, we might make a concession to them. At the end of that period, I trust that any endeavour to secure a bonus for the. employment of other than white men will be resisted by this Parliament. In order to give those who are prepared, as soon as their contracts expire, an opportunity to employ white labour, I shall support the amendment. Senator Neild made some statements which wereonly equalled by the assertions of other honorable senators, who have been continually decrying the ability of white men and women of their own race. They declare that it is impossible for white people to carry on the sugar industry, in the tropical portions of Queensland. Now, over 300 years ago, in 1602, the Dutch settled in Java. Java is far more tropical than is any portion of Queensland. Tt is a country of considerable.area. I believe that there is to-day a Dutch population of 76,000 residing in Java. That population has been increasing for the last 300 years, and there are now over 35,000 men and 2S,000 women there - a proportion of males to females almost equal to that to be found in Australia. It is absurd for Senator Neild or any one else to tell us that the British people are not as capable of living under such conditions as are the Dutch.
– Eighty per cent. of the Dutch population were born in Java.
– I believe that the great majority of them, and their parents before them, were born there ; and they have been carrying on industries similar to those of Queensland. Java is only about six degrees south of the equator, and the chief sugar producing districts of Queensland are nearly on the tropic of Capricorn - some 22 or 23 degrees south of the line. Therefore the argument that British people cannot carry on an industry of this kind in Queensland must fall to the ground, having regard to the fact that the industry can be followed by the Dutch at a point fifteen or more degrees nearer the equator. I hope that those who have so long been endeavouring to traduce their own flesh and blood will for the future hold their peace.
– I do not know much about the thirty-five thousand Dutchmen residing in Java, but I am certain that very few of them do the labouring work in the canefields. My honorable friend might have gone to India for an illustration. Many English men and women live there, but they do not engage in manual labour on the rice-fields, the indigo plantations, and other tropical industries. They act as overseers, managers, and so forth, wherever these great plantations occur. There are also a number of English planters in Ceylon, and a good many thousand Europeans are to be found there ; but they do not perform the work which we expect to be done by the white population on the sugarfields of Queensland.
– The kanaka is imported into Queensland, but the coloured races in India are native-born.
– No doubt; but the deductions that we may draw from the existence of Europeans in these tropical countries do not help us to elucidate this question. The illustration of Java does not militate against what Senator Neild has said, with respect to the incapacity of Europeans to live in tropical countries. True, they can live there ; but the illustration does not militate against the contention that they are unable to work in the fields, and that the race deteriorates. Race deterioration occurs in India, although of course there are exceptions. Only the other day I saw a statement made by the Governor Designate of South Australia, who has been administering the affairs of New Guinea, where the climate does not differ much from that of the northern parts of Australia, that it is impossible for white people there to carry on manual operations in the open air. But whatever the position may be in Ja-va, I know that the driving of the doctrine of a white Australia, with which we all agree, to these lengths-
– Some honorable senators agree with it only in a modified sense.
– We agree with it altogether, but we do not agree to the abuse of that policy. It has been abused in such a way that we have converted the Northern Territory, not into a white Australia, but into a “ white elephant.” Therefore, I prefer the experience we have at our own doors rather than the experience of the Dutch in Java. It seems to me, however, that this has very little bearing upon Senator Glassey’s proposal. In my opinion, the date fixed in this clause, name!)’, 28th February, 1903, is not a fair and proper one. At first sight, I was disposed to think that it was sufficient, and that we were merely seeking to remedy something in the nature of a grievance which did not actually exist. It seemed to me at first that it would exclude all cane planted by black labour prior to 28th February, 1903, from participating in the bonus in respect of the sugar produced from it. That, however, would not be so.
– It would be the other way.
– Yes. All sugar planted before the 28th February, 1903, will carry the bonus, whether planted by coloured labour or by white labour, provided that after that date the in-gathering of the crop is carried out by white labour. But that is not sufficient. We have passed the Pacific Island Labourers Act, in which we actually sanction the introduction of the kanaka until March of next year. We also sanction the employment of the kanaka in this industry, under agreement, until 31st December, 1906. That being the case, what an iniquitous thing it would be if, having legalized the importation of these people until March of next year, for the purpose of cultivating sugar-cane and other tropical products, we should say that the unfortunate planter who had employed them under the sanction of our legislation should not receive the bonus. This is a very topsy - turvy Bill, but it would be the sublimity of topsy-turvydom to shut the door as from the 28th February, 1903, in respect of the cultivation of sugar by kanakas, and at the same time to permit to remain upon the statute-book a Bill encouraging the importation of the kanaka for that very purpose.
– The honorable and learned senator’s argument extends to the harvesting operations.
– Of course it does. I did not see the full inwardness of Senator Glassey’s amendment, but it would put the legislation upon a consistent and proper footing.
– My honorable and learned friend does not seem to quite appreciate the legislation initiated last year by the Government.
– I do.
– The fact is that we shall have the most delightful kind of mosaic possible in our legislation. We cannot at this stage attempt to remedy the retrospective effect of this legislation, under which we take away from the Treasurers of Victoria and ‘South Australia sums of money which were absolutely given over to them by an enactment df this Parliament. Instead of the money, we give them a grievance, and goodness knows there are grievances enough associated with the Federation without handing over to them a ready-mack one of this description. Having done that, we are now proposing practically to repeal some of the provisions of the Pacific Island Labourers Act by depriving the planters who were encouraged to import and employ kanakas on the cane-fields of the benefit of the bonus designed to compensate them for any loss sustained in substituting white for black labour.
– .The principle of the proposal is something like that of the suggestion that cane which had been planted by black labour should be dug up and the fields replanted.
-In effect it would be just as bad. We say to these people - “ We intend to let you bring in kanakas for another year, and we are going to allow you to engage them for the three years expiring in December, 1906, for the purpose of cultivating cane ; but if you employ them in that work you will not obtain any bonus if subsequently you use white labour in caring for and harvesting the crops obtained from fields planted by them.” I think that the proposal now before the Committee fairly hits the case. Senator Eraser has expressed the opinion that some other date might do as well. If we were to insert “ the 31st December, 1906,” in the clause, that would do as well; and if the honorable senator would modify his proposal in. that way, I think it would give more general satisfaction, and do more complete justice.
– Why confuse the issue?
– I do not. The planter is to employ white labour twelve months before the delivery of the cane. Of course this would practically mean the same thing, because the bonus expires, I think, on the 1st January, 1907.
– In any case there arc only two years in dispute.
– That is all. In one case it is proposed not merely to delude, but to mislead the planter ; while in the other, every grower who may employ kanakas brought in during the period sanctioned by law on cane-fields during the period in which their employment in that way is sanctioned, will not be deprived of the bonus which this legislation prescribes.
– Up to the present stage I have not had anything to say in regard to this measure, but it is sufficient for me to inform the Committee that I am in favour of the Bill as a whole. There is one point, however, which I desire to see fully cleared up. In the first place, it seems to me that honorable senators from Queensland are all earnest in their desire that white labour shall be substituted for black labour at the earliest date. At the same time we have the Postmaster -General, as the representative of the Government in this Chamber, favouring one method while we have four or five other honorable, senators who represent Queensland, and who are equally earnest in their desire to see white labour substituted for black, favouring another” method. Until this evening I was very much inclined to favour the clause as it stands. Believing the Bill to be the outcome of the visit recently paid by the Minister for Trade and Customs to the sugar-growing districts of Queensland, and knowing him to be an advanced white Australian, anxious to have white labour employed on the plantations there, I was naturally inclined to consider that he had taken the right course. But my views must undergo a change when I see honorable senators from Queensland fighting among themselves. There have been one or two questions put by Senator McGregor which should be clearly answered by the Postmaster-General to clear up misconceptions.If, for instance, a planter is under a contract with kanakas which will expire six or twelve months hence, and if immediately that contract expires he wishes to employ white labour, he will not be able to get the benefit of the bonus if his cane has been planted by black labour.
– That is so.
– If that is so, remembering that in the Pacific Island Labourers Act we did not order that all kanakas should leave Queensland immediately, but that they might leave gradually, it seems to me that under the Bill we shall be rather going back upon our legislation. Anxious as I am to see white labour employed, I am equally anxious to do the right thing and to take the right course. If I have grasped the position I feel that I must support the amendment suggested by Senator Glassey. If a planter two or three years ago entered into a contract with kanakas, and that contract expires in six months’ time, and if he then is very anxious to employ white labour, it will be a manifest injustice ifhe is not allowed to get the benefit of the bonus.
– Especially as he only gets it if he has ceased to employ black labour.
– Exactly. I think that under the circumstances I must support Senator Glassey’s amendment.
– The objection raised by Senator Eraser shows the absolute necessity of limiting the time for registration. The Federal Parliament in agreeing to the rebate of £2 to be given to the growers of cane by white labour intended that it should be given only to those who produced sugar exclusively by white labour.
– Including the planting of the cane?
– Yes, exclusively. That is what was at first intended. Then it was pointed out that a good deal of cane had been actually planted by black labour before our legislation was passed, and on that account an extension of time was given to the 1st March, 1902. It was agreed that in respect of all cane planted before that date - allowing a margin from the time of our white Australia legislation being passed - we should not take into account whether it was planted by black or by white labour. Subsequently it was pointed out that some of the planters did not understand the conditions under which the rebate was going to be given, and that they had made arrangements for black labour for that season. It was stated that if the date fixed was the 1st March, 1903, they would get rid of their black labour and would grow their sugar by white labour in order to secure the bonus. I have every reason to believe that that has been done. We must fix some date.
SenatorFraser. - We create a difficulty by doing that,
– The difficulty would have existed in exactly the same way if we had fixed the date at 1904, 1905, or 1906, because it could have been said in each case - “ Why should a man be at a disadvantage because one day after the time fixed he has planted cane with black labour? ” Some date must be fixed, and this is the result of having made these concessions.
– How does the honorable and learned senator get over the difficulty of contracts ?
– We have made two concessions, the second in the extension of time to March, 1903. That is how the matter stands now. As I have already stated, of those who came at the latter end of last year asking for the further extension to the 1st March, 1903, not one suggested that there would be any difficulty whatever in substituting white labour for kanaka labour if that concession were given. I have also explained the reason for that. The term of agreement required to be made by the kanaka when he is first imported is fixed at three years, and the agreement is made on board theship. Under the Act of 1884, there is nothing to prevent him making an agreement for a shorter term, and time-expired Islanders may make any agreement they like, not less than six months in duration. As. a matter of fact the greater part of thekanaka labour at present employed is engaged on short terms. There may be some newly-arrived kanakas who are under thethree years’ term for which they recruited when they came from their islands. I wish honorable senators to bear in mind a point which has been lost sight of throughout this discussion, and that is that the Federal Parliament by the legislation passed last session has given a protection of £3 per ton to sugar grown by black labour.
SenatorFraser. - Quite true.
– Well, what is thegrievance? Supposing some planters have kanakas under agreement, and are thereforeobliged to continue their employment, they will still be getting the benefit of the £3 per ton protection - the difference between the import duty and the excise. Surely they have no right to ask for more than that? The additional bonus was. intended only for people who would grow sugar exclusively by white labour.
– And that was intended to apply to the full term.
– Ample time was given for those in a position to grow sugar by white labour to come in and declare their intentions. The last extension of time for twelve months was accepted as being final, and as being sufficient for all those willing to grow sugar under white labour conditions in order to secure the bonus. I wish now particularly to deal with an argument which has been advanced by Senator Symon. The honorable and learned senator contends that having by our Pacific Island Labourers Act sanctioned the admission of kanakas up to a certain time in diminishing quantities, we are bound to give them opportunities to do this work, and that we should pay the bonus for the product of their work. If that contention is correct, and we are in that position, why should that work done by coloured labour be limited to the planting of cane?
– It is not limited to the planting.
– No, it would not be limited to the planting if the honorable and learned senator’s contention be correct, but the amendment suggested by Senator Glassey would limit the work of the kanakas to the planting.
– No ; it does not limit it to the planting.
– The amendment which Senator Glassey suggests is that where sugar has been planted by black labour, and the grower then gives notice, twelve months before the delivery of the cane, of his intention to cultivate with white labour, he is to have the bonus for that sugar, though it has been planted - by black labour. That is supported by Senator Symon, on the ground that by our legislation we are allowing the kanaka to come in, and it would, theref ore, be iniquitous - that was the honorable and learned senator’s word - to prevent him doing that work.
– No ; it is iniquitous to shut the door on him.
– If it is iniquitous to shut the door on him in regard to the planting, it is equally iniquitous to shut the door on him with regard to harvesting.
– But we do not do so.
– And the honorable and learned senator’s contention, would . lead us to this : that as the kanaka has still a right to come here, we should allow him to go on planting and harvesting the cane.
– But we do not give the bonus in that case.
– We do not give the bonus ; that is exactly the point. Our legislation provides, however, for a margin of £3 per ton protection for sugar grown by black labour, and it says that if the sugar is grown by white labour a £2 rebate of the excise duty will also be given. I say, let those who continue to import black labour up to the last moment, and who may have that labour at present under a three years’ agreement, go on growing sugar with black labour, and be satisfied with the £3 per ton protection. But I say further that they have no right to say that they may plant cane with black labour, and then come in and claim the bonus given for the production of sugar by white labour. To allow them to do that would be a breach oi faith with these people whom we have induced to come in on the understanding thai we were going to fix a limit of time, aftei which those who employed black laboui would not be entitled to the bonus.
– If a man grows sugar by white labour in 1906, why should he not get the bonus?
– The honorable and learned senator includes the planting, of course? He uses the word “ grows,” which is ambiguous. Does the honorable senator mean harvesting ?
– I mean everything - planting and harvesting.
– Quite right; he would get the bonus.
– If he grows it’in 1906, but if previously to that he has employed black labour ?
– Then he could not get the bonus, and for this reason : Our legislation is very liberal, and it was designed for the purpose of encouraging the growth of sugar by white labour. We say it is contrary to the policy of our legislation to encourage the grower to hang on with black labour to the very last moment. That is what Senator Glassey’s amendment proposes, and that is the effect it will have. It will encourage a planter to retain all the black labour he has, and use it for the purpose of planting. As has been pointed out very properly by Senator Eerguson, the big plantations have been divided up, and the planter may plant one portion of his plantation with black labour, and then come in and secure the bonus by harvesting the crop with white labour, and at the same time utilize hft black labour to plant another portion of the plantation. That would not be carrying out the spirit of the Act. Another matter is that this amendment, if carried, will have a very serious effect in regard to the administration of the Act, because it will make very much more difficult the work of inspection. We know that up to the present it has been found to be difficult; and it is in consequence of the difficulties of inspection that we have had these injurious reports to the effect that the bonus was being paid for sugar which was not “ grown by white labour. Everything we do in the direction of encouraging the retention of coloured labour up to the last will only make greater the difficulty of deciding who is fairly entitled to the bonus. The amendment suggested is a dangerous amendment, and if it is carried and ultimately becomes a part of the Act, the result will, I fear, be very injurious to the cause of a whiteAustralia.
– I have not spoken before, because this Committee debate is ‘practically a rehash of the discussion which we had yesterday and previously on the second reading. As I did not hear anything fresh, I did not think it worth my while to lift up my voice and cry aloud in the wilderness. But one point has been made by Senator Drake, which, I think, requires to be answered. He says that we are bound to fix a date. That is a bare assumption. What is the object in passing this legislation ? It is to induce cane-growers to substitute white for black labour. Why fix a special date ? Is it not a great deal better to say, as Senator Glassey proposes, .that any planter who will give twelve months’ notice of his intention to cultivate his cane-field with white labour, and wholly give up the use of black labour, shall be entitled to a bonus at the end of that term ? Unless we place all the planters ou the same footing we shall give an advantage to one man over another man. In spite of what Senator Drake has said, a number of the Queensland planters are under contract with their kanakas. Senator Glassey has sent to the president of the Manufacturers and Planters Union at Bundaberg a telegram in which he has asked the question, “ Are there any planters in your district who are under contract, and for what time?” and the answer he received was to the effect that all planters in the union have kanaka contracts running from one to over two years. On the 28th February last a planter who was not under contract could get rid of his kanakas, and having applied to be registered, and worked his . plantation with white labour for the twelve months, he could get the bonus of £2, which is considerably more than he ought to have received. A bonus of £1 is ample to give ; we have been liberal to an extent which is really alarming. His neighbour, who is under contract with a number of kanakas for another year, cannot get a bonus. pAt the end of 1903, when the contract runs out, he may dispense with his kanakas and work his plantation with white labour for a year, but he can get no bonus. Taking into consideration all the facts of the case, the proposal of Senator Glassey seems to be a fair one. If it is embodied in the Bill we say to the planters, “ Get rid of your black labour, work your plantations solely with white labour for a year, and you shall have a bonus.” In that way the planters will be treated all alike. A planter who is under a contract can get rid of his kanakas at the end of the term and do what we wish him to do - that is, to substitute white for black labour. Let us attain that object by assenting to the proposal of Senator Glassey.
– Senator Playford has said that we have been altogether too libera] in the past. The rebate of £2 a ton was fixed for the purpose of remunerating the planter for the loss he would sustain in substituting white for black labour. It was intended that it should be limited to those who produced sugar-cane with white labour. We made a concession in extending the time to 1902; a further concession in extending the time to 1903 ; and the result of the present proposal, if it becomes law, will be that the £2 a ton - a high price admittedly - instead of being paid to cover the loss sustained in substituting white for black labour will be paid to producers of a “ piebald “ crop.
Request agreed to.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I move -
That the word ‘ ‘ seven “ be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word .” ten.”
When we w.ere in Queensland lately we heard that there was considerable consternation amongst the white cane-growers as to the probability of the rebate or bonus being taken from them in the course of a very few years. I believe that some of them were prompted by that consternation not to work their plantations with white labour. We have in the Commonwealth some 80,000 coloured aliens, and the Premier of Queensland lately told a deputation of cane-growers that when the kanakas went Hindoos could be got to assist in growing the cane, and that there was any number of Chinamen coming from the Northern Territory ‘who could be employed. Presuming that we shall get rid of the 8,000 or 9,000 kanakas in Queensland at the end of 1906, do honorable senators expect the cane-grower who uses white labour to compete with his neighbour who employs Hindoos, Chinamen, and Japanese? .If we believe in a white Australia we must continue the excise on sugar grown with black labour, and give a bonus to the planter who grows his sugar-cane with white labour.
– For ever? ‘
– I propose that we shall extend the term till 1910, and that will make the way easy to those of us who have the good fortune to be in the Senate at the end of 1 906 to alter the Excise Tariff Act. I wish to show the white growers of Queensland that there are some senators who propose to give them fair play at the end of this time. Senator Playford will remember that when the Excise Tariff Bill was being considered I’ asked Senator O’Connor - “ What about the time when the kanakas will disappear, and certain planters will employ Hindoos 1” Senator O’Connor, and I think Senator Drake, too, said - “ Why, you don’t expect that the white Australia sentiment of honorable senators will fade away,” leading us to believe that when that time arrived they would be prepared to extend the term.
– Wait until after the election of 1906, and then extend it.
– There may be a great change here, and we wish to give the white cane-growers the assurance that we shall protect them so long as they employ white labour amongst those who continue to employ Hindoos, Chinese, and Japanese. There is no possible hope of our getting rid of the S0,000 coloured aliens in the Commonwealth by any other means than the process of natural decay.
– Having been let in, does not the honorable senator think that the poor wretches ought to be allowed to earn a living ? No more Hindoos, Japanese, or Javanese can come in.
– The honorable senator has shown us how much sympathy he has with the planter who wishes to grow his sugar-cane with white labour when he exclaims, “Let the poor wretches earn aliving.” Of course, we will allow them to earn a living. The honorable senator knows that the planters will not pay them a fair rate of wages, but all kinds of wages ranging from £10 up to £30 a year.
– Do not forget that they are free labourers !
– A Hindoo, a Chinese, or a Japanese can always be got to work for two-thirds less than a white man. Business men know that the white workers of Australia have to compete against the low rates of wages of these coloured aliens. If there is a white citizen of this Commonwealth who has such a poor opinion of his fellow white citizens that he employs Chinamen and Hindoos, we should compel him to pay excise upon his black-labour grown sugar. 4 u 2
– I am afraid that the action taken by the Committee this afternoon will rather tend to diminish the chance of getting the bonuses extended beyond the year 1907. The people of Australia are, I think, of opinion that they have acted very liberally. Many thought that the bonus ought to be restricted to planters who have grown sugar by white labour exclusively. But at any rate I am certain that this is not the time to raise the question of the extension of the term. Our sugar legislation contemplates a period up to 1907, and when we approach that time it will be appropriate to consult Parliament with a view to an extension. Seeing that we have only just passed this legislation, to propose an extension now, would be entirely useless. There is no practical advantage in discussing the question, which will be injurious rather than helpful to the interests of the sugar-growers. The better course would be for those who are in favour of the legislation which has been passed to strive all they possibly can to prove that it has been efficacious. If they can show, when we are approaching 1907, that our legislation has had the effect of substituting white labour for black, they will make out a much better case in approaching Parliament for an extension of the term.
Request (on motion by Senator Glassey) agreed to-
That the House of Representatives be requested to adel the following words : - “ Pro- vided that no bonus shall be paid in respect of the production of sugar on land which has been cultivated by other than white labour after a bonus has been paid in respect of the production of sugar thereon.”
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - I move -
That the following words be added : - “ Provided also that no such bonus shall be paid to any grower who on or before the 28th February, 1902, grew sugar-cane or sugar-beet with white labour only.”
It will not be necessary to say more than a sentence or two in recommending my amendment to the acceptance of the Committee. Of course, the object of this legislation is, as has been repeated several times this evening, first to secure the substitution of white for coloured labour and, secondly, as the Postmaster-General says, to compensate the planters for the additional cost which the substitution of white labour might entail upon them. But we know that in many parts of Australia sugar is, and has been for a long time, grown by white labour. Black labour was employed in portions of Queensland where, according to the planters, the climatic conditions were such that white labour could not be employed, except at a considerably increased cost. To induce them to fall in with the prevailing sentiment this bonus was proposed. We are not giving a bonus for the cultivation of sugar. We are not giving a bonus such as might be given for the discovery of minerals or metals, or for the growth of a particular product, but for the substitution of white for coloured labour, and for no other purpose. That being the case, why in the name of fortune should we pay this bonus of £2 per ton to planters who for years- past have been cultivating with white labour only, and have no possible claim to compensation for the substitution of white labour for black? Why in the name of fortune should we make them a present under any such pretence ? It is perfectly outrageous. I am glad to notice from his cheer that I have Senator Walker’s support in this instance, at any rate. I felt certain that my argument would commend itself to his conscience. Under cover of paying compensation in respect of the substitution of white labour for black, why should we put £2 per ton into the pockets of those growers who have been making a good thing out of this industry for a good many years past while employing white labour ? I am not prepared to do so, and I do not think that Parliament intended anything of the kind. I do not see why in this little Bill we should make such a gift as that to a class of people who were never intended to benefit at all from this policy.
– I am afraid the money has been paid already.
– I am sorry that the money has been paid for the past year. But it is not paid for the next two or three years, and that is an additional reason that should prompt us to be very careful of the public funds. We know what an outcry there is for economy at present. We also know, from the PostmasterGeneral’s comment upon Senator Playford’s speech, that £2 per ton is, to use his expression, an exceedingly liberal sum. Senator Playford said it was twice as much as ought to be paid, and I have reason to know, upon exceedingly good authority, that £1 per ton would be ample. Yet, although we are practically agreed that £2 per ton is an extravagant solatium to give to> those sugar - growers who have hithertoemployed black labour, we are asked to pay the same amount - to those who have not grown an ounce of sugar by black labour, who are put to no additional expense, and who suffer no loss of profitby continuing to grow sugar with the aid of ‘ the same labour as they employed before !
– And who have a greater protection than they had before.
– I will comment upon that in a moment. Thelavish generosity of Parliament in this respect is really an injustice to the taxpayers. We have given them an import duty of £6- per ton, or a higher protection than they ever had before.
– Prior to Federation there was a duty of £5 per ton in Queensland, and £4 per ton in New South Wales.
– They have the advantage of £3 per ton more than they ever had.
– Yes ; weare giving them this advantage, and we givethem in addition £2 for every ton of sugar,, with a condition as to growth and production. We gave them this rebate, however, in anticipation of a change in the conditions of production; we did not intend thatit should be given to those who had been continuously carrying on the cultivation of sugar by white labour. The Senate, subject to what may be said in regard to clause- 7, has come to the conclusion that there is. to.be a population basis in respect of the incidence of this bonus of £2 per ton. Thatbeing so, all I can say is that that incidence, serious and unjust as I believe it to be, ought not to be aggravated by the payment of a sum of money to people who were neverintended to come under this provision.
– The honorable and. learned senator will have to alter his date.
– Therewill have to be regulations, and the Government can fix the date. Of course it would not do to put it further forward, because itwould then be open to the objection taken by Senator Glassey.
– The honorable and learned senator should date it back to the time first fixed by Parliament.
– Thedate I have taken is the date of the rebate, and I think that is the proper one.
– The honorable and learned senator proposes that the date shall be February, 1902.
– Yes ; because that is the date given in the Excise Tariff Act. We cannot bring it further forward, because it would be unjust to do so ; and that is the proper date. Then it is suggested that this would be an infringement of the Constitution. In my opinion it would not. This bonus, being intended to be in respect of the substitution of white for coloured labour, is uniform, and equally applicable throughout the whole of the Commonwealth. If it had been a bonus for the growing of sugar - if that had been the essence of the provision - there might have been something in the suggestion that it would have to apply all over Australia. As a matter of fact. however, it does apply all over Australia, because it is to secure the substitution of white for coloured labour. It is open to the whole of Australia, and is uniform in its application. If there were anything in the constitutional bogy, it would have to be settled by the court of a State, or the High Court,, but ac present that point does not arise.
– It is correct, as the honorable and learned senator has said, that this offer of a rebate of £2 per ton was primarily intended to cover the expense that would be incurred by planters in substituting white for coloured labour. Indeed we hope that it will operate in the direction indicated by Senator Symon, and induce a great . number who have previously been employing coloured labour to employ white labour. We desire, however, not only to convert, if I may use the expression, those who have been employing coloured labour, but to retain them as producers by white labour. This amendment would encourage those who previous to this date have been growing sugar by white labour to produce it by coloured labour.
– Why ?
– I shall explain. There is a certain amount of coloured labour in the sugar-producing States which may be diminished slightly in the future, but even with the loss of the kanaka, there will still be a large proportion of coloured labour there. If by means of this bonus we are going to induce some of those who were previously employing black labour to employ white labour, we shall throw a certain amount of black labour out of employment. It seems to me that Senator Symon, having in view, no doubt, the welfare of these “ poor coloured people “-
– No; the welfare of the taxpayer.
– They have been brought here, and must be employed because they are here, and the honorable senator wishes to say to them - “ If you are going to lose your former employers by the action of the Government we will call into existence a class of sugar-growers who previously employed white labour, but who will be in a position in which they will not gain any advantage by continuing to do so, and therefore will employ you.” Surely that would be an entire mistake. In these matters we cannot differentiate between one man and another, or what they have been doing in the past. All that we desire is that if sugar is to be produced largely in Australia - and we hope to be able to produce more than will be sufficient for our own requirements - it shall be produced only by white labour. We cannot make a distinction in favour of those who, before our legislation was enacted, were growing sugar by black labour, and those who, were producing it by white labour. We have not taken up the position that a man who, before this legislation was passed, employed black labour should be placed under any disadvantage. We said that we would hold out the same inducement to the man who had been using black labour as to the man who had been growing by white labour ; and, to say the least, the man who from the first has been producing sugar by white labour should be in as favorable a position as the man who has been growing it by black labour.
– We certainly should not penalize him.
– Exactly. The man who was using white labour before any encouragement was given to him to do so certainly deserves as generous a recognition as does the man who, previous to this legislation, produced sugar by black labour.
– Surely he ought to be entitled to more consideration 1
– I will not say that, but he should at least have as much. There should be no difference between the two. I cannot in any way sympathize with the proposal of the honorable senator, which would really place a man at a disadvantage because he had been from the first employing white labour.
Senator FRASER (Victoria).- Up to a certain point I entirely agree with the remarks made by Senator Symon. Undoubtedly the man who grew sugar by white labour prior to this legislation should not be entitled to the benefit of a bonus as well as an import duty.
– He should receive twice as much.
– He is reaping a double advantage. The man who, prior to the white Australia legislation, grew sugar with white labour in New South Wales and the southern parts of Queensland because it paid him to do so, and because the climate suited him-
– Because he was patriotic.
– Not at all. People do not embark on these enterprises from motives of pure patriotism. The honorable senator might do so because he is really a very high-toned young man. I repeat that the planter who grew sugar in New South Wales and in the southern parts of Queensland wholly by white labour, prior to the passing of the white Australia legislation, is now obtaining an advantage of £3 per ton on sugar in excess of that which he secured before.
– He enjoyed the same advantage before.
– He did not. He has now the advantage of being able to supply the whole Commonwealth with sugar, and he is protected against the imported article to the extent of £6 per ton. He has, of course, to pay £3 a ton by way of excise, leaving him a clear advantage over his foreign competitor of £3 per ton, and on the top of this he is entitled to a rebate. Previously he had to pay the Inter-State duties, and to compete in the Commonwealth on even terms with the produce of the planters of Jamaica, Java, and other countries. Now he has the advantage of the import duty which applies to the whole of the Commonwealth, and, although he pays the excise of £-3 per ton, he has still a margin of £3 per ton. Notwithstanding that margin we are going to give him a bonus of £2 per ton. I heartily support Senator Symon’s contention up to that point, but there is one difficulty which we must not overlook. The planters who previously grew sugar by white labour in New South Wales and the southern parts of Queensland have been getting on very well. But any man who chooses to enter upon the cultivation of sugar in New South Wales or Queensland may do so, and obtain the bonus in spite of this amendment.
– If he employs white labour.
– Yes. Under this proposal the man who grew sugar by white labour prior to a certain date would not receive the bonus, while a man who might start to-morrow, side by side with him, would obtain it. Senator Symon knows very well that the Constitution does not interfere in the way suggested, but it would interfere if we applied the bounty to a particular locality. If we said that the planters in the north should receive the bonus, we should have to give it to those in the south. We cannot differentiate between one State and another.
– This is a round-about way of trying to do it.
– It would be a perfectly good way of doing it, if applied to future growers and those already carrying on operations. If it did, I should heartily support it.
– Senator Symon’s proposal is a very enticing one, and seems to be assented to with some alacrity by honorable senators. It is intended, practically, to secure that the growers of New South Wales shall not be entitled to the rebate. I am quite with the honorable and learned senator that the growers in New South Wales are not entitled to any rebate, but there is another phase of the question which should be considered. A number of persons in New South Wales and in Queensland had been growing sugar with white labour for years previous to the passing of our legislation. Under the honorable and learned senator’s proposal they will not get the bonus, whilst the men who have been using coloured labour, and who have made Queensland “piebald “ by introducing tens of thousands of kanakas and other coloured people into the Commonwealth, will, if they use white labour in the future, be entitled to the bonus of £2 per ton. The people who have been patriotic enough to use white labour, rather than coloured labour,- will be penalized to the extent of £2 per ton. The basis of all our laws should be justice, and no honorable senator can say that it would be just to provide that those who have used white labour all along should get no rebate, whilst those who have been using coloured labour, and practically because they have done so, should be entitled to a rebate of ‘£2 per ton. The amendment, if agreed to, may have another effect in New South Wales. In that State at the present time 85 per cent of all the sugar produced is grown by white labour, and only 15 per cent by coloured labour. If those growing sugar by white labour are to receive no advantage whatever, they may be induced to take up all the surplus coloured labour they can get and put them upon their cane-fields. The white labourers at present working on those fields may be thrown out of employment, and may be replaced by thousands of coloured people brought from Thursday Island and the Northern Territory. I can assure Senator Playford that there are a number of coloured people in the Northern Territory.
– There may be a couple of thousand Chinamen.
– There are two coloured people for every white man in the Northern Territory. I have risen merely to suggest to the Senate that the probability under this amendment of a number of coloured labourers being introduced into New South Wales, and the injustice of depriving those, who have been patriotic enough to use white labour from the first, of any right to the bonus, should be taken into consideration.
– There is a good deal of . force in what Senator Symon has said, but, perhaps, I shall be allowed to show how absolutely impracticable his proposal would be. A, B, and C are sugar planters in New South « Wales, employing white labour, and if Senator Symon’s amendment is carried they will no longer be entitled to the bonus of £2 per ton. But there is nothing to prevent them selling their properties to D, E, and F, who have employed black labour, and they will be entitled to the £2 per ton bonus.
– What does the Constitution say. upon that point 1
– I am aware that under the Constitution a bonus must operate similarly all over Australia. We are not permitted to draw a distinction between one and another. Personally, I could not help being amused by the very clever remarks and the ad captandum arguments of Senator Symon. Some persons are accustomed to plead in courts called nisi prius but the Senate is not exactly a place of that character. Much as I admire the honorable and learned senator’s ingenuity, I feel it my duty to oppose his amendment.
– May I ask a question as a matter of order? I notice that the Chairman is putting these amendments as requests. I would ask whether that is the way in which they should be pUt under the Constitution? This is not a Bill imposing taxation, and this is not an appropriation of revenue for the ordinary annual services of the Government. That is the test. We have, I submit, a right to amend this Bill according to the Constitution. Section 53 of the Constitution provides that we may not amend laws imposing taxation or appropriating revenue for the ordinary annual services of the Government. We are here appropriating revenue for a specific purpose by statute. It seems to me, therefore, that these proposals should not be put as requests, but as amendments.
The ACTING CHAIRMAN. - When I took the chair I intended to put them as amendments, but I found that an amendment or a request submitted by Senator Glassey was printed as a request, and I put it- as a request. I am inclined to think that Senator Symon is correct, but I call the attention of honorable senators to the fact that we have already carried Senator Glassey’s first amendment, which increases the burden upon the public, and have therefore made this a Bill which we cannot amend.
-I did not raise any question when the proposals were put in that way by Senator Best, because it appeared to me that Senator Glassey’s amendment - and I treated both his proposed additions to the clause’ as being one amendment - was an amendment increasing a proposed charge or burden upon the people, because it would distinctly have the effect, if carried, of increasing the amount to be paid by way of bonus. Under the third paragraph of section 53 of the Constitution, the proper proceeding would be to make a request for the proposed amendment. That has been done. The Constitution provides that -
The Senate may at any stage return to the House of Representatives any proposed law which the Senate may not amend, requesting by message the omission or amendment of any items therein.
We had this matter discussed several times during last session. The amendment now being proposed by Senator Symon appears to me to be of an entirely different character, because its effect would not be to increase a proposed burden on the people but rather to reduce it considerably.
– I agree with Senator .Drake that the amendment proposed by Senator Glassey, if it increased a proposed charge or burden on the people, was properly the subject of a request.
– It could only be increased by the bonus being claimed.
– That is so, but I said “ if.” But there have been other amendments put as requests. The particular amendment which .1 propose does not increase the burdens of the people, and so far as the Bill itself is concerned, I think it is one which the Senate has a right to amend.
The ACTING CHAIRMAN. - Does the honorable and learned senator contend that we can make a request in connexion with one clause, and make an amendment in another clause of the same Bill 1
– I think so. The general limitation upon our power to amend is contained in the second paragraph of section 53 of the Constitution, which says -
The Sena’te may not amend proposed laws imposing taxation, or proposed laws appropriating revenue or moneys for the ordinary annual services of the Government.
That is general, and it does not include this Bill. This is a Bill which we can amend as we please. But then there is in the Constitution a special disability, so far as the Senate is concerned, as to specific amendments. That is contained in paragragh (3) of section 53 -
The Senate may not amend any proposed law so as to increase any proposed charge or burden on the people.
A proposal to make an amendment of that character would have to be by request. My impression is that last session, in connexion with some Bills, we did that. Honorable senators may recollect an instance in which the whole question was discussed on a motion proposed by Senator Ewing early in the session. It was practically decided then, I think, in regard to the expenditure on the visit of the Duke of Cornwall and York that that was not expenditure within the ordinary annual services of the Government, and we were therefore justified in . moving an amendment.
The ACTING CHAIRMAN. - Can the honorable and learned senator refer me to any Bill in which we have made amendments in one part, and requests in another ?
– Did we not do that in the case of the Public Service Bill in connexion, I think, with the salary of the Public Service Commissioner 1
– That was a request.
– That is what I say. That was a request for an amendment, and subsequently in the same Bill the Senate made amendments.
– I do not think that went through.
– At any rate I ask that, so far as my amendment is concerned, it shall not be put as a request - I mean to say that to do so would, I think, be a withdrawal of our right to amend this Bill.
– I ask whether this Bill does not come under the heading of Bills which the Senate may. not amend. Is not the Bill as a whole a Bill imposing a burden on the taxpayers? If it is a Bill which the Senate may not amend, all amendments suggested should be put as requests.
– My honorable friend has forgotten the Constitution. Bills which the Senate may not amend are -
Proposed laws imposing taxation, or proposed laws appropriating revenue or moneys for the ordinary annual services of the Government.
Those are the only Bills which the Senate may not amend, and this is not a Bill of that character. A subsequent paragraph iri section 53 of the Constitution merely relates to specific amendments - that is to say, if we desire to have a specific amend ment increasing a burden on the people made we must proceed by request.
– Honorable senators are well aware of the great antipathy with which I view the whole scheme of taxation on the article of sugar. I feel that the citizens of the Commonwealth are being treated very grossly, and that they are, in fact, being robbed by legislation of the character we passed last year. Both under Excise and under Customs there is a heavy burden of taxation imposed upon the people, and everything that is transpiring is bringing the fact more prominently under the eyes of the public. When a protective duty is levied in a way in which it is entirely hidden, large sums of money may be paid year after year without great complaint; but when it is put before us in the form of a bonus, absolute cash down, which has to appear in the public accounts, people begin to understand the burden which is being put upon them, and numbers, are found willing to dispute it and quarrel with it who would otherwise support it. I see a great many difficulties in the way of carrying out this - request. At the same time if Senator Symon calls for a division I . shall vote with him.
– This Appears to me to be a most extravagant proposition. I do not know what the real motive of’ the amendment is, but it appears to me that Senator Symon is actuated very much by a desire to burst up this white Australia legislation if he can. He knows full well that there is no hope of him accomplishing his design by a frontal attack; and therefore he comes dodging round upon the flank. We have our eyes open to his design, and are not at all likely to fall into the trap which he is trying to set for us. I am astonished at a great constitutional authority like Senator Symon making an attempt to differentiate between the States when he knows quite well that it is not’ permissible under the Constitution.
– I am not seeking to differentiate between the States.
– The honorable and learned senator knows that sugar can be grown all over Australia, and that the excise duty on’ sugar applies to all the States. He knows that beet sugar can be grown in Victoria, and when it is grown here by white labour the bonus will be paid on that sugar, just as it would be paid on sugar grown in the most northern part of Queensland. What is he attempting to do ? The result of the amendment, if carried, will be to penalize those who have been faithful to the idea of a white Australia, and to reward those who have flooded the country with aliens, and given rise to all the difficulties with which we are now contending. The honorable and learned senator says - “You people who have demonstrated that cane can be grown in the sub-tropical parts of Australia shall be penalized, for your loyalty to the principle of a white Australia.”’ One of the strongest arguments we had at the inception of this anti-kanaka agitation was that cano had been grown and harvested on the Clarence River, where the climate is, I believe, almost as warm as it is at Bundaberg. We said if it can be done on the Clarence River it can be done at Bundaberg, and if at Bundaberg, then at Mackay, and if at Mackay, then at Cairns. Senator Symon wishes us to penalize mcn for showing us a good example, as they did. I do not believe that any Queenslander will be led astray by his sophistries. We have no’ intention of differentiating between the various portions of Australia. The bonus that we pay to the planters of Queensland we are willing to pay to the planters of New South Wales. If sugar can be grown in Victoria we are willing to pay a bonus here, and, of course, in South Australia, too.
– Is not the object of the bonus to get rid of coloured labour, not to encourage the growth of sugar !
– The idea of the bonus is to get rid of coloured labour ; but we cannot place the planters who have been using white labour in a different position from those who have been employing black labour. If we do so we shall drive them out of the industry. The effect of this amendment will be to place the growers of sugar cane by white labour at a serious disadvantage. The men who had employed kanakas and dispensed with them, would benefit to the tune of £2 a ton more than those who had employed white labour all the time. And in the event of a large stock of sugar being in the market, the result would be that the white growers would be under-sold by those who had previously employed kanakas, and in that way would be placed at a most serious disadvantage. Instead of punishing the men who have always been loyal to the white Austrafia movement we ought to reward them if possible.’ I believe that the intention of Senator Symon is to make any confusion which has arisen with regard to this measure more confounded. He imagines that if he’ can raise strife-
– Why should the honorable senator attribute that to me f
– During the whole of these discussions the honorable and learned senator has shown an unmistakable bias in opposition to the principle of a white Australia.
– Nonsense !
– The honorable and learned senator has not been courageous enough to come forward and say - “ I do not believe in your white Australia movement.” He knows that if he did so, ho would be swept away by a whirlwind of public disapprobation. He is taking advantage of the fact that the enthusiasm with /regard to federation has, in some measure evaporated, and the people are beginning to count the cost. He is attempting to take advantage of that position to injure, if he can, the prospect of our bringing about a white Australia. I believe that the people have made up their minds that the continent is to be .white, and are quite prepared to pay the cost of the “ whitewashing “ process. They intend to have their linen pure and white, and do not object to pay the wash-lady, although the honorable and learned senator who professes to represent the people of South Australia does object. I hope that he will not go on with his proposal, because I do not think it has the slightest chance of being carried) and it can only place him in an invidious light before the community.
Senate adjourned at 9.57 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 25 June 1903, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1903/19030625_senate_1_14/>.