2nd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, without notice, whether he willlay upon the table of the Senate copies of all correspondence that has taken place between the National League of Western Australia and the Minister of Home Affairs relative to the removal of the names of electors from the Federal Electoral Rolls for the Fremantle division’ of that State?
– The honorable senator gave me notice that he intended to ask this question, andI have to say, in reply, that the Minister of Home Affairs has no objection to lay the correspondence on the table.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, whether he has any information to give to the
Senate as to the progress of the investigation into Mr. Richmond’s case.
– I have a memorandum from the External Affairs Department to the following effect : -
On the 25th September last a communication, dated 27th August, was received from Mr. Richmond requesting an inquiry into the charges made against him.
The matter was referred by the Minister of External Affairs, on the 26th September, to a Board, consisting of the Public Service Commissioner, the Secretary to the Attorney-General’s Department, and the Secretary to the Treasury.
On the 6th October, the Board asked that certain information might be obtained to assist them in arriving at a decision. This necessitated reference to New Guinea.
On the 17th November the papers, with the additional information obtained from New Guinea, were again referred to the Board, consisting of the officers mentioned above, but owing chiefly to the absence from Melbourne of the Public Service Commissioner and the Secretary to the Treasury, the report of these gentlemen has not yet been received.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Defence whether he can give the Senate any explanation as to why we have not had laid upon the table the proposed agreement between Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company and the Commonwealth in connexion with the Pacific Island Mail Service?
– The Prime Minister informs me that he does not think it well to lay the proposed agreement on the table. It has been forwarded for signature, and it is expected that it will shortly be signed. It is not thought desirable to lay it upon the table of the Senate until it is signed.
– Arising out of the Minister’s reply, I would ask whether the Prime Minister is aware that the Senate has ordered that this proposed draft agreement shall be laid on the table?..
– I think it was the agreement, and not the draft agreement, that was ordered to be laid upon the table. The Prime Minister is aware of what the honorable senator refers to, but he would prefer not to lay the agreement on the table until the matter is finally settled. However, I will undertake to make further inquiries into the matter.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, whether he will have a sufficient number of copies of Dr. Maxwell’s report on the sugar industry circulated to honorable senators ?
– I wish to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, whether he will lay on the table copies of the report by Captain Collins on the Canadian militia system ?
– I have no objection to lay the report on the table.
– I know nothing about the report in question. I do not know to whom it is addressed. Dr. Ramsay Smith is an officer of the South Australian Government. If the Government of South Australia print the report, I have no doubt we shall be able to get copies of it. I shall endeavour to get a copy of the report and lay it on the table.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
If he will lay on the table of the Senate a return showing the number of. linotype machines, printing presses, bookbinding machines, and general printing plant purchased by and now in the possession of the Commonwealth, together with the value of such machinery and plant, and if such machinery is effective and sufficient for the printing requirements of the Commonwealth Government.
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is “Yes.”
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
– Arising out of the answer to my question, I would like to ask the Minister whether it is impossible to make up the ship’s complement from the South Australian Reserve?
– The answer to that question is - No, it was not impossible, but we took over these permanent men from Victoria.
– Because the honorable senator has condemned the Cerberus.
– I did not do anything in the matter.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Is it the intention of the Government to carry into effect the decision of the Senate embodied in the following resolutions : -
That female civil servants possessing equal qualifications and aptitude should be placed in the same class, and receive equal remuneration, as male civil servants doing similar work;
That at least one-half of the total number of telegraphists should be in the fourth class;
That the three grades in the General Division should be abolished, and increments substituted up to at least
That district allowances should constitute a more equitable compensation for increased cost of living, isolation, and climatic conditions ;
That the composition of the Appeal Board should be altered, so that one membershould represent the Government, one member the civil servants, to he presided over by a. judge or stipendiary magistrate.
– The answer to the honorable senator’s questions is -
These matters are being referred to the Commissioner for consideration.
– I move -
That during the remainder of the Session, except otherwise ordered, Government business take precedence of all other business except questions and formal business.
This is the usual motion moved at the end of the session. We have a considerable amount of work to do, but I trust that we shall be able to prorogue before Christmas. Unless the Government are given the additional day for Government business, we shall not be able to do so.
– I do not desire to oppose the motion, or to delay the transaction of Government business, but. I should like to know whether it will apply to to-morrow?
– I have a motion on the business-paper, which has been discussed very fully at various times during the session, and, at the request chiefly of honorable senators opposite, has been postponed from time to time. In the circumstances I think that it is only fair that I should receive some assurance from the Minister that I will be given an opportunity to take a division on the motion.
– I think that one honorable senator has not yet completed his speech on the ‘motion.
– I need scarcely assure the Minister of Defence that I have no desire whatever to interpose any difficulty in the way of what, when the close of the session is very imminent, is , a usual motion. But I think the Senate is entitled to some better information than Senator Playford has yet given as to the business that is to come before us. There have been of late a variety of occasions on which, in connexion with matters upon which it has, in the first instance, taken a fairly strong stand, and which concerned the business of the country greatly, the Senate has afterwards receded from the position first taken up. I am afraid that we shall get very much into the habit, I will not say of backing down, but of weakening our position, as a Senate, unless we take care that in connexion with motions of this kind we are placed in the same position at any rate, as are members in another place, and are given a clear statement of the programme of business to be carried through. Senator Playford has said that the Government require an extra day, and we must accept the honorable senator’s assurance in that respect. Private business must, to a large extent, be subordinated to public business ; but we should be told what public business the Government propose to carry through. . This is the 13th December; we are almost on the eve of Christmas; and if considerable business is still to be brought forward, it. would be better to carry it over to the beginning of next year rather than that the Christmas arrangements which honorable senators may desire, and are entitled, . to make, should be interfered with. The Minister of Defence knows quite well that we have on the noticepaper business which is of some consequence. ‘ We have the Immigration Restriction Amendment Bill, the Contract Immigrants Bill, the Queen Victoria Memorial Bill, and the Manufactures Encouragement Bill. We know that in another place very important measures have been introduced, which more or less directly raise very serious questions affecting the fiscal issue. If these Bills are intended to be proceeded with when they reach the Senate, it will not be Christmas Eve that will see the prorogation of Parliament, but some day in next year. We ought to have some statement as to whether it is seriously intended to go on with those measures at this period of the session. My honorable friend is sanguine to a degree when he expects that, with those measures to be considered, the Government will be able to prorogue Parliament on Christmas Eve. We ought not to be relegated to the position of a House of registration or rejection. We are entitled, as a right, to be made, acquainted with the intents of the Government, so that we may be in a position to say whether or not the time allotted to private business ought to be taken away, or when Parliament is likely to be prorogued. I am referring to this matter, not from a party point of view, but from the point of view of a senator, and of the Senate itself. I think my honorable friend will see that the Senate has a right to claim from him an assurance that the fiscal issue will not be brought into the Senate a day or two before Christmas Eve.
Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia - Minister of Defence). - I do not know that we raise the fiscal issue in any of the Bills to which Senator Symon has referred.
– What does mv honorable friend call the Anti-Trusts Bill ?
– The Bill dealing with trusts does not involve the question ‘ of the Tariff.
– It involves the questionof prohibition.
– So far as I know, it does not interfere with the Customs Tariff Act. We have four measures on the notice-paper. Apart from the Immigration Restriction Amendment Bill and the Contract Immigrants Bill, we have the Queen Victoria Memorial Bill, which will not take more than a few minutes, because we have already passed a resolution on its subject-matter, and the Manufactures Encouragement Bill, which only alludes to a very small part of the Tariff. The notice-paper of the other House contains the Australian Industries Preservation Bill, the Sugar Bounty Bill, the Excise (Sugar) Tariff Bill, and the Price and Bayly Compensation Bill, which I imagine will not take very long. The other business on its notice-paper has been dealt with here, namely, the Electoral Bill, the Copyright Bill, and the question of the Pacific Cable. In addition to that, we have the Capital Site Bill to deal with. So far as I know, that is all the business we have to consider. I think that by sitting fairly long hours we can give due consideration to all these measures. I should imagine that honorable senators can make up their minds about them without any difficulty, and give a vote thereon. It will depend upon Parliament whether these Bills are passed or not. It will be for honorable senators to exercise their’ own judgment ; but we intend, as far as we possibly can, to ask the Houses to deal finally with all these measures before we prorogue.
– What does my honorable friend mean by “ sitting fairly long hours”? Does he mean sitting all night?
– I mean that we should sit until 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning, and perhaps meet at 10 o’clock in the morning.
– It would be better to meet at 10 o’clock every morning and to sit on Saturday and Monday than to sit all night.
– If necessary, I can move later on that the Senate, at its rising, adjourn untilto-morrow at 10 o’clock in order to obviate the necessity of sitting late. If that will meet the convenience of honorable senators generally I shall be only too pleased to submit a motion.
– And to adjourn at 10 o’clock at night?
– Yes. I am prepared to assist Senator Givens to get a vote on his motion, but of course it will” be for the Senate to say whether that opportunity shall be given.
– Why should one item of private business get preference over another item?
– No senator who has private business on the notice-paper is so anxious to proceed with it as is Senator Givens.
– And there is no other private business which has been fully discussed.
– I shall do all I can to help Senator Givens to get a division taken on his motion.
– When does the Minister expect the session to end - next week?
– I cannot tell; in fact, no one can.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Playford) agreed to-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until to-morrow, at 10.30 o’clock.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 1 2th December, vide page 6705):
Clause 3 -
Section 3 of the Principal Act is amended -
by omitting the whole of paragraph (a), and inserting in lieu thereof the following paragraph : - “ (a) Any person who fails to pass the dictation test : that is to say, who, when an officer dictates to him not more than fifty words in any prescribed language, fails to write them out in that language in the presence of the officer.
No regulation prescribing any language shall have any force until it has been laid before both Houses of the Parliament for thirty days or if within that time a resolution has been proposed in either House of the Parliament to disapprove of the regulation until the motion has been disposed of. If before the regulation comes into force a resolution disapproving of it is passed by either House of the parliament, the regulation shall be of no effect.
Until some language has been prescribed the languages authorized by the Principal Act shall be deemed to be prescribed within the meaning of this Act.”
by omitting from paragraph (e) the words “ within three years,” and by inserting in that paragraph, before the words “ received a pardon,” the words “ served his sentence or “ ;
by omitting the whole of paragraphs (m) and (n).
– I wish to draw the attention of Senator Playford to a matter in paragraph a, which, unless there is some explanation which he can offer, I think he will agree with me requires amendment. There is an almost universal feeling that the principle which underlies the paragraph is a make-believe and a sham.
– So is the Act itself.
– Of course it is, andthere is no one more absolutely candid when he is candid than is my honorable friend.
– The Parliament was candid.
– We are all ready to admit that we humiliated ourselves by putting upon the statutebook a Bill which was a sham and a makebelieve. It deceived nobody. It was a mere pretence so far as regards the Japanese.
– No, it was a concession to the Imperial Party.
– We bowed the knee to Mr. Chamberlain, but I was one of those who stood erect, as I always shall do. Australia ought to fix the mode by which it intends to carry out its policy., and ought not to allow Mr. Chamberlain, or any one else, to lead it into doing something which we, by universal consent, characterize as a makebelieve. But now we have gone beyond that point, and we have a difficulty raised in regard to our Act by Japan, which has, with great courtesy, shown its irritation and discontent by the singling out of a European language.
– We find that officially they have never done anything of the sort.
– That statement has been made by the Prime Minister, who has taken the initiative in this make-believe policy, and now we are asked to eliminate the word “ European,” intending all thesame to give effect to the original provision. Although this system of make-believe is to be applied to the Japanese or other people whom we wish to shut out, surely we do not intend to throw difficulties in the way of our own citizens ! I draw the attention of the Minister to the following words in paragraph a of this clause: -
Any person who fails to pass the dictation test.
The effect of the provision is that a Customs officer may apply the dictation test if he chooses to any person, whether he has been a citizen of Australia or not.
– Unless he gets a certificate of exemption.
– In the Act, there is no provision for an exemption or a modification of that kind. A few weeks ago I paid a visit to Fremantle, and when I embarked upon the incoming mail steamer, the Mongolia, I found that the Australian passengers, for the safety of her master and owners, who are liable to penalties if they bring in prohibited immigrant’s, had been obliged, before their arrival, to sign a long statement, declaring where they were born, what their ages were - this was peculiarly irritating to the ladies I am told - and a great number of other particulars. Whatever restrictions, and whatever sort of barbed-wire entanglements we are going to throw round immigration to Australia, we certainly ought not to throw difficulties in the way of our own people returning to our shores.
– I had to sign a similar’ paper between Fremantle and Adelaide.
– If my honorable friend is treated in that way, there is no citizen of Australia who would escape. What I am now pointing out is recognised,’ and a modification is intended to be proposed in new clause 4B. It is now suggested that if a man has been resident here for five years he shall, before he leaves for a trip to an outside country, apply under that provision for permission to depart, and to return. Surely we are a free people here ! Why should we be obliged to go cap in hand to a Customs officer and to get his permission to go away; and to return ?
– We have not to do it.
– But we have to do it. The Bill says -
May in manner prescribed apply to an officer authorized in that behalf for a certificate in the prescribed form excepting him if he returns to the Commonwealth within the period limited in the certificate from the provisions of paragraph (a) of section 3 of this Act ; that is to say, from being subjected to the education test. The amendment which I propose to move to get over the difficulty is to insert the words “ other than a citizen of the Commonwealth ‘ ‘ after the word “ person,” in paragraph a. Is this Commonwealth going to impose difficulties against the return of its own citizens to their own homes ?
– May not a Chinaman be a citizen of the Commonwealth ?
– If he is, why should he not come back to his home? But if my honorable friend will agree to insert the words, “ any Chinaman “ or “ any Asiatic,” or words to that effect, I will agree with him.
– We do not -want to mention any nationalities in this Bill.
– Are the citizens of this Commonwealth to have a brand put upon them as being people who must not come here unless they have certificates of exemption? . It is a disgrace to put .such a thing on the statutebook. We shall be ashamed of belonging to the Commonwealth if this sort of thing is insisted on. If what is meant is that coloured aliens who leave the Commonwealth are not to return, let us say so; but do not let us put a “disability upon the citizens, of this Commonwealth of which we ought all to be proud:. Why should Senator Matheson or any one else be subjected to that kind of irritation on board ship when he is returning home?
– People are coming and going every day,” and there is not a bit of bother.
– I have no objection to clause 4 being remodelled so as to apply to coloured aliens. But the Act ought not to apply to the citizens of the Commonwealth. Let it apply to coloured people whom we wish to keep out, or whom” we wish not to return, by means of a substitute, if I may use an Irishism.
– A citizen of the Commonwealth would not be an immigrant.
– He would if he went out of the Commonwealth. There is no definition of “immigrant” in the Bill. The amendment which I have suggested will meet the case, and therefore I move -
That after the word “ person,” line 5, the words “other than a citizen of the Commonwealth “ be inserted.
– What is a citizen of the Commonwealth? A Chinaman, or a Hindoo? It is a very indefinite phrase. We know what is meant by a citizen of a certain city, but “ citizen of the Commonwealth “ is not a phrase which we use in Acts of Parliament.
– It is used in the Constitution.
– Whether that be so or not, the present law on the subject has never been administered by this Government so as to interfere with any individual returning to Australia from abroad.
– Senator Matheson has said that the requirement has applied to him.
– It was never done by any Commonwealth officer. If ships’ officers choose to make things as troublesome as they can we are not responsible;.
– They ought to be penalized for doing it.
– We shall be opening the door to a considerable extent if we accept the amendment. Of course, all the trouble arises from the fact that we have to resort, not to a straightforward course in regard to our immigration law. If we had been able to accomplish the object we had in view to keep out undesirable immigrants - that is, people of the Mongolian and negro races - in our own way, we should have had no trouble whatever. But we cannot help ourselves. We were informed that if we put in the words “coloured people,” or any words- to that effect, the Home authorities would not recommend the Crown to assent to our Act. Therefore, we had to do what so many honorable senators have complained of. But the education test has never been applied to our own citizens returning from Europe or to European people coming to out shores. I think we ought to’ leave the clause as it is, and I shall oppose the amendment.
– I should like to make an explanation in regard to the paper -which I had to sign on coming from Fremantle to Adelaide. Apparently it was a paper which was required to be filled up by the Cus<toms authorities. It was a most ridiculous thing : because, first of all, on arriving from Europe at Fremantle, I had to sign a paper; then on going between Fremantle and Adelaide, I had to sign another one; and I understood that if I had come from Adelaide to Melbourne bv vessel I should have had to sign, a third.
– They are simply statistical papers.
– But look at the ridiculousness of the thing. . A person can travel from Adelaide to Melbourne by train, and he signs no document, but if he travels from Adelaide to Melbourne by sea he is an immigrant.
– The officials on the trains supply the information that is required.
– How do they know anything about the passengers on the trains?
– They merely collect the numbers.
-But if you travel by ship you become an ‘immigrant, and have to sign a paper stating your name, your age, and sundry other particulars.
– A person coming from Tasmania to Melbourne also has to supply the particulars which are collected by the officials on the trains.
– And these are the precious statistical returns which I suppose are collected for electoral purposes !
– Those statistics are not collected under our immigration law.
– But it is all done under Customs regulation. As the Minister of Defence has pointed out, the difficulty arises entirely from the fact that our Act is a farce and a subterfuge. The unfortunate part of it is that although, as the Minister points out, we in Australia understand the situation, persons outside Australia do not. That is the justification for the amendment that Senator Symon has moved.
– The amendment simply refers to persons in the country who do understand the situation.
– The honorable senator is quite mistaken. This Bill will go to Great Britain, and will be read there. There will be statements in the press that we have passed an Act by meansof which no one who leaves these shores is able to return unless he can pass ‘a dictation test. That is the statement that will be made, and it will be logically based upon this Bill. One may spend weeks and months in trying to convince the British public that such is not the fact, but in England they pass Acts of Parliament which are not frauds and subterfuges. They pass Acts which are meant to be read and acted upon.
– But the British Government is responsible for Australia passing such’ a Bill as this.
– How is the High Commissioner, when he is appointed, going to explain to the British people that the Act which we have passed means nothing at all, and that its language is not to be read as English? To illustrate the extent to which this position can be pushed, I may mention that to-day I had occasion to inquire how it was that coloured labour was still introduced into the pearling fleets, both at Broome and Thursday Island: I inquired under what regulation these coloured aliens were introduced. The reply was that there was no regulation authorizing their introduction, but that they were introduced simply on the Customs officer being instructed not to put the language test to them.
– Was that information authoritatively obtained?
– I obtained it in the office. The aliens were introduced simply through the Act not being put into operation, in the same way as the Minister suggests that white immigrants are treated.
– It shows the rottenness ofthe whole thing.
– It shows that this Bill is an absolute fraud. The point that I wish to make is: How easy it will Be for the present or any other Government, under this Bill, to introduce any number of Asiatics, whether under contract or not.
– It is all a matter of administration.
– It is entirely a matter of administration, and if the Government do not choose to instruct the officers the law is not put in force.
– It is shown, further, thatthe present Government are permitting these people to come in.
– All Governments have administered the Act in the same way, and I am not raising that point’.
– Surely the Watson Government did not so administer the Act?
– That Government also administered the Act in this way. If the Government have the power to refrain from putting the Act into operation, they also have the power to so administer it as to shut out any person - any white person - offensive to them. A white citizen of Australia who was, for instance, a political agitator, might, on returning to Australia, be subjected to the test by an autocratic Government. If Sir John Forrest, for instance, were at the head of such a Government, I might be shut out, if I failed to respond to the education test.
– There would be a fine row if the honorable senator were shut out) !
– That is all very well ; but in the meantime I, an Australian citizen, would have been put to the indignity of writing out fifty words at dictation.
– Sir John Forrest is not his own master at present.
– Fortunately . For the reasons I have given I am inclined to support the amendment proposed by Senator Symon.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - I feel very greatly touched by the pathos of Senator Matheson’s description of what his position might be under a set of circumstances which he would not be the only one to deplore. The expression “ a subject of the King resident in a State” is rather large, and therefore I have adopted “citizens,” which is a term thoroughly well known to the law. The dual citizenship we enjoy is that of a citizen of the Commonwealth and a citizen of a State; and it is only the citizens of the Commonwealth who ought not to be bound in the fashion which, for reasons I can quite understand, -and what the Minister has not been slow to stigmatize as a makebelieve, the Bill proposes. The point to which I invite attention is that this clause applies to every traveller and every visitor, whether on business or pleasure, who comes to this country from England. It is suggested that an Australian may be Known or easily identified; but that might not be so with Customs officers at outside ports. The result might be that people who were never intended to be affected would be subject to the test.
– They will not be subjected to the test if they show as white face.
– But they are liable to be subjected to the test. There are many Asiatics with comparatively white faces, such as those who come from Northern India. The people of Cashmere, asSenator Playford knows, are nearly as white as himself.
– Not quite.
– Very nearly. The honorable senator has the glow of the sun in his face, and so have they. The Asiatics are the people whom we desire to exclude.
– And negroes.
– As the Bill stands at present-, British subjects who visit Australia for any purpose are liable to be exposed to this education test.
– Does the honorable senator know of a case in which the test has been applied to a British subject?
– That is not the point. Surely we ought to keep our statute-book free from any imputation of the kind. The Agents-General say -
In endeavouring to indicate the forces which mould public opinion in Great Britain, we should be neglecting our duty if we failed to give adequate weight to the far-reaching effect exercised by the language test and contract clause of the Immigration Restriction Act.
– The Agents-General do not speak for Australia.
– They speak for the people whom we do not want to exclude. As Senator Matheson has pointed out, the people in England do, not understand the refinements by which we reconcile this Bill to our legislative conscience. All they know is that if they come to Australia they are liable to a test, and to’ exclusion if they do not satisfy the test.
– Who told them that ?
- Senator McGregor ought to tell them that.
– They are liable to other tests, in reference to health, and so forth.
– But we do not mean them to be liable to the education test.
– Is it not the main point that the test is not meant to be and is not applied to them?
– We do mean the test to be applied, because it is: so said in. the Act.
– We do not.
– I am not speaking of what Senator Trenwith or others may mean.
– I am speaking of what Parliament meant when the Act was passed.
– I am speaking of what the people in England understand. There is no placard1 in England to say that, so far as white British subjects are concerned, the Act is a dead letter ; and we find the Agents-General making representations, not from the point of view of Asiatics, but from the point of view of British subjects.
– Probably the English people do not know that there is such a test.
– They do know that there is a test.,, but they do not know that it is not applied to white British subjects. It is said, rightly enough, that we are not responsible, in one way, for what the Peninsular and Oriental, or any other shipping company, may do. At the same time, we place in the hands of the shipping companies an instrument for the irritation of their passengers.
– There are other ships by which people may come to Australia.
– That is not the frame of mind in which to approach the consideration of this question. It is either right, or it is not right, that this provision should remain as it is, rendering white British subjects liable to exclusion. If the provision is not right, let us adopt some other means to attain our end. Let us say that we do not wish to exclude them ; and then I shall support a provision later on, that coloured > residents of Australia, shall, on returning to the Commonwealth, be subject to the test, just as if they were arriving for the first time. Surely the English language is not so feeble an instrument that we cannot adequately express our intention. My desire is not to interfere in any way with the object of the Bill, but to facilitate ‘its operation, though not by placing a ban on people whom we do not wish to exclude.
– I am surprised ‘ that there should be this discussion. When I interjected some time ago that all these arguments had been advanced when the original Bill was before the Senate, Senator Symon painted out that I was not here on that occasion.
– No; I meant when the Bill was discussed yesterday. “Senator TRENWITH. - This matter -was discussed not only on the original Bill, but on Bills in the States Parliaments before Federation. Had we been completely untrammelled, there would have been an Act on the statute-book specif ying the persons whom we desire to prohibit; but out of deference to the opinions of the Imperial authorities, a measure was adopted with the sanction of the country, which was admitted during its passage through Parliament to be largely a subterfuge. It was agreed by Parliament and the country that the Administration should govern and carry out the policy embodied in the Bill. While, of course, it is technically possible that Senator Symon or any of us may be subjected to the education test, it is certain that such a test would never be applied.
– Such curious things happen that we do not know what may be done in the future !
– That is quite true, but there are events sufficiently probable to enable us to act on the probability. We are not sure that the seasons will occur ‘.in the future as they have in the past, but it would be foolish for a. farmer to, therefore, say that it was no use sowing because summer might not come next year. It is absolutely certain that no European or European citizen of the Commonwealth will ever have the test applied to him. Senator Symon has introduced an apparently harmless amendment, that might. I think, entirely circumvent the ‘intention of the Act with regard to aliens not located in Australia. I understand that it is correct to speak of our “Chinese citizens,” and so with regard to the Japanese and Hindoo, residents within the Commonwealth. If that be so, and this clause were amended in the direction suggested, those citizens, when departing from the Commonwealth for a time might be able to evade the undoubted intention of the people w place them under some restriction. I hope the amendment will not be carried,- and, if I may without being offensive, I suggest that the arguments in opposition to the clause are very much of the same character as the Bill itself- make-believe. Honorable senators opposite do not really think that there are any such dangers as those they point out ; and merely set up a hypothetical case, which is so extremely improbable as to be practically impossible.
– It might be inferred from Senator Symon’s remarks that this Bill had for its object the placing of additional obstacles and impediments in the way of desirable white immigrants to Australia.
– Hear, hear. So it has.
– I disagree entirely with that view. In what way does the Bill differ from the existing Act in regard to the education test ? Incidentally, the honorable senator mentioned that desirable white immigrants coming to Australia from other parts of the world, and especially ladies, were subjected to much irritation and annoyance, because they were asked their age and other similar personal questions. One would think that such questions are not submitted to immigrants in any other country in the world. If Senator Symon ever visits America, he will find that he will be asked quite a number of questions.
– I have visited America, and I was asked no questions.
– Then the honorable senator must have got into that country surreptitiously.
– No; I walked ashore erect.
– I have here a facsimile of the form which captains of vessels carrying passengers to the United States areweobliged to fill up. For the information of Senator Symon, who got into the United States without supplying these particulars, I may tell him the questions submitted to passengers going to the United States.
– The form must be a new one.
– No. It has been in operation in the United States for many years. First of all, a passenger is asked his age; then his sex; whether he is married or single .; his calling or occupation ; whether he is able to read or write; his nationality; his last residence; his seaport for landing in the United States ; final destination in the United States; whether he has a ticket through to such final destination; whether he has paid his own passage, or it has been paid by other persons, or by any corporation, society, municipality, or Government ; whether he is in possession of money, and, if so, whether he possess upwards of 30 dollars, and how much, if 30 dollars or less ; whether he is acting as agent or representative, and, if so, his first name and address; whether he was ever before in the United States ; whether he was ever in prison or an almshouse, or was supported by charity ; whether he is a polygamist; whether he is under contract to perform labour in the
United States; his condition of health, mental and physical ; whether he is deformed or crippled, and, if so, from what cause. The captains of vessels carrying passengers to the United States must see that these forms are filled up by their passengers. They must then take them before a United States Consul, and swear to them on oath. They are also required to make a declaration as to the health and condition of the passengers they carry to the United States. Notwithstanding all these so-called restrictions, we find that thousands of desirable people enter the United States of America every year.
– Must that form be filled up by an American citizen? I should say not.
– It must.
– One of the questions to be answered is whether the immigrant has been in the United States before.
– After that question is answered is anything further done?
– If you say you are under contract you will not be permitted to enter the United States.
– If you say that you are a citizen of the United States what is done?
– I have not been to the United’ States, and do not know. In any case, the amendments upon the principal Act proposed in this Bill do not place any obstacles in the way of desirable white immigrants entering Australia. Certain persons within and without the Commonwealth have raised the cry, with a view to damaging the reputation of the Commonwealth, that the Labour Party in Australia do not desire that desirable white immigrants should be allowed to enter the Commonwealth. They have no wish whatever to stop such people from coming to Australia, but what they do desire is that those who are Australians by birth or adoption shall not be walking the streets of the cities of the Commonwealth in idleness. When employment is found for those in the Commonwealth who desire employment, and the affairs of the country are placed on a sound basis, the members of the Labour Party are, perhaps, more anxious than those who profess to be the friends of people abroad for the introduction into Australia of people of their own race. I see no reason why the amendment should be agreed to, because its effect will be to defeat the intention of the Bill.
– Does the honorable senator desire that there shall be no amendment of trie Bill?
– I desire that amendments shall be introduced, but that they shall be a decided improvement on the existing law.
– That is what we think of this amendment.
– In my opinion, it will be no improvement, because it is merely a make-believe that it is intended to subject desirable white immigrants to the dictation test, and that is certainly not intended by the Bill.
– Senator Findley has given one very good reason why the amendment should be agreed to. The honorable senator has said that certain people inside and outside of the Commonwealth have put it abroad that we desire to keep white people out of this country. I take it that the very object of the amendment is to show that that is not true, and that citizens of the Commonwealth can leave and return to Australia without let or hindrance. It is very desirable that any statement to the effect that a citizen of the Commonwealth who leaves Australia can return only with considerable difficulty shall be shown to be absolutely untrue. The Minister has said that the law is not administered in the waystated, but the Act does not clearly indicate what is intended.
– These exemption certificates are intended to apply only to Chinese and Japanese.
.- We wish people abroad to know that we are not putting any restrictions upon our, own people, and to know also that there is no truth in the statement often made that we think there is no room in Australia for any more people than we have here at the present time. I support the amendment, because it is in accordance with the intention of the original Act,0 and, as we are informed, in accordance also with the past administration of the Act. Senator Symon has referred to the statement made in. the report of the Agents-General, in which they point out that much injury is done to Australia in consequence of the contract immigration provision and the provisions generally of the Immigration Restriction Act. We should do what we can to disabuse the public mind of any misrepresentations made in connexion with these provisions’ on the other side of the world.
Nothing is more easy than for a person to show people our Immigration Restriction Act, and say : “ Here is the law ; you are bound to pass this dictation test, and, further, once you get into Australia you are a prisoner, and cannot leave it if you wish to return, without getting a ticketofleave, such as a prisoner gets when he comes out of gaol.”
– Can the honorable senator name any Agent-General who has bent his energies to the contradiction of these misrepresentations.
– I presume they do all they can to disabuse the public mind of these misrepresentations.
– Can the honorable senator name any Agent-General who has done so?
– They are a little too fond of playing into the’ hands of those who misrepresent Australia.
– That is a slander upon the Agents-General.
– Honorable senators have only to read the papers to see that what I say is correct.
.- The difficulty is that the Act of Parliament can be appealed to, and people may say : “ You can say what you like, but there is the statute law, and we have a right to assume that the authorities in Australia will carry out that law.” Honorable senators must admit that the insertion of the amendment can do no harm. We are told that it merely provides for the way in which the Act is at present administered, and why should we not make that clear in the Bill, so that the people who are not intimately acquainted with our legislation may know exactly what we are doing, and may not be left under any misapprehension as to what will happen to them if they come to Australia.
– There are a few words which have been used so often in this debate as to have become somewhat hackneyed ; for instance, the words “sham,” “fraud,” and “ subterfuge “ have been applied to the existing Act, and1 to this Bill. I am afraid that some more of this sham, fraud and subterfuge will be imported into the Bill by the proposed amendment, to which the same epithets might very well be applied. Time and again the statement has been made that we have passed a law to exclude white men from Australia. Those who have been decrying our immigration laws have industriously circulated that statement, and I am sorry to say that some colour is being given to it by this amendment. As a matter of fact, our immigrahon laws have not had the effect of keeping any white men out of Australia who desire to come here. That is proved by the statistics on the subject. If a very few white men have been prohibited from entering Australia, they have been kept out by the operation of State laws. I find from the statistics for 1903 that there were in that year 44,117 immigrants introduced into Australia. Of that number, 41,132 were white people, comprising all nationalities - English, Austrians, Belgians, French, Danes, Dutch, Germans, Greeks, Italians, Poles, Portuguese, Russians, Scandinavians, Swiss, and Turks. Out of 44,000 immigrants 41,000 were whites, and the balance consisted of Pacific Islanders and others, who came in to work on the sugar plantations and the pearling grounds. In that year only eight white men were excluded, and these were excluded under paragraph, b of section 3 of the Act; in other words,, because they were practically paupers, and were looked upon as likely to be a burden upon the Commonwealth. That action was taken under a law which has long been in force, I believe, in nearly all the States. Out of the total number of immigrants who were subjected to the education test in 1903 only thirteen were admitted. Six persons were admitted for various reasons. Two were horse-buyers, who were regular visitors; two were natives of the Northern Territory, who had returned without any papers, and had to be tested ; and the other two were commercial men, who were on a short visit to the Commonwealth, and who returned to their own country. That accounts for six of the thirteen. Everything considered, I hold that our immigration law has worked fairly well; certainly it has given satisfaction to those who wished undesirable persons to be kept out. It has not excluded any white men, except the eight persons to whom I have referred. What, then, becomes of this cry of the unfairness of our law to white men, and what is likely to result from its retention upon the statute-book? In my opinion, the mistake we have made is in proposing to alter the Act. It has worked admirably, and I should be glad to see this Bill thrown into the waste-paper basket. I am inclined to think that the Act, if allowed to stand as it is, would work more satisfactorily than would the proposed amendment.
– I regret that I cannot support the amendment of Senator Symon as it stands. He proposes an amendment which would specifically exclude Australians. When we proceed to make a specific exclusion of Australians we make inferentially a specific inclusion of British subjects. That, I think, logically follows.
– No, because the argument is that it is discretionary, and is not applied.
– That, of course, may be said. The honorable senator has quoted from the report of an AgentGeneral, in which he indicates how serious has been the general impression created throughout Great Britain by the character of our Immigration Restriction Act. We are now engaged in trying to improve the law. If we were to adopt an amendment to specifically exclude Australians from the application of the education test, we should point the moral all the more strongly in regard to those inhabitants of the British Isles who wish to come out. I trust that Senator Symon will see his way either to withdraw the amendment, or to enlarge it so as to include all British-born subjects as well as citizens of the Commonwealth. As it is, I see no course open to me but to oppose the amendment. I recognise that the Bill deals with an exceedingly difficult matter. There is no doubt that we are in the mire over this matter of immigration, and tha,t that fact is recognised By all parties. I believe that even members of the Labour Party are prepared to concede a ‘little in order to relieve Australia of some of the odium which has been- cast upon her. It is desirable that we should be very careful in all that we do in connexion with the Bill ; that, in so far as it does aim to remove the odium, in so far as it does tend to remove objectionable restrictions or to lighten them in the face of the world, so far we ought to support the Bill ; but in doing so we ought to beware of adding amendments which might defeat the object which we have in view.
– I listened practical lv all yesterday to a long debate similar to the present one. I said nothing, because I had been absent so long that I did not think I was in a position to thoroughly understand what was going on, nor should I Have said anything to-day if this discussion had not been initiated and carried on by others who are almost as guilty as myself. That removed the feeling of diffidence I had.
– Guilty of what?
– I mean that that they are guilty of coming here today and renewing a discussion which took place yesterday. We hear a great deal about the sham, the subterfuge, the fraud which has been perpetrated by. the Government, the Parliament, and everybody else in Australia.
– We heard that from the Minister when he introduced the Bill.
– We hear it from everybody ; we hear it from the Opposition at the present time. But who is responsible for that fraud, that misrepresentation, that subterfuge? It is not the people, or the Government, or the Parliament of Australia, but the Imperial Government, which practically declined to approve of a measure making a distinction between white and coloured races on the ground of colour. Honorable senators on the other side are not only acquainted with that fact, but they also know that there was no party here more earnest in their desire to make the Act definite and exclusive in a certain direction than we were.
– Why ! the honorable senator went over to the other side, and voted in the opposite way.
– I crossed the floor, because I knew that honorable senators on the opposite side were supporting me with the intention of defeating the proposed legislation, as I believe they are now trying to do. Suppose that we were to introduce amendments of the description which has been indicated by Senator Symon, in what position should we put ourselves? We should have to make other amendments which would distinctly stipulate a colour test, and then the Governor-General might refuse to assent to the Bill which would have to be reserved, and would, perhaps, be hung up for an indefinite period. We do not wish anything of that kind to happen. We desire to pass legislation which, whether it be a subterfuge, or a fraud, will carry out our intentions. I hope that honorable senators will endeavour to confine themselves to that view of the question. We have been told by Senator Symon and Senator Gould that British people are under the apprehension that if they came out they would be subjected to the education test. Will any one point out to me a provision which says that a Britisher or a European will be subjected to that test?
– This very clause will do it if the law is properly carried out.
– Nothing of the kind.
– What does the phrase “any person” mean?
– Paragraph a of section 3 of the Act does not say any person is to be put to the education test; but that any person who, when put to the test, fails to pass it, shall be a prohibited immigrant. It does not say that the test shall be applied to a Britisher, or to a European, or even to an African, or an Asiatic. If the Act, together with a copy of the figures quoted by Senator de Largie, were handed to a Britisher, and he were told that he would be a prohibited immigrant if he came out, unless he could pass the education test, he would ask, “ Where does the Act say that the education test shall be applied to me?” Neither Senator Symon nor Senator Gould can point to a provision of that kind. The Britisher would say : “ The test has not yet been put to a European, and, acting on the assumption that it will not, I am going to Australia.” I hope that honorable senators will remember that if they were to accept this amendment they would have to amend the Bill in a direction which would specifically stipulate a colour test, and thus put our legislation in jeo pardy. It was only for that reason thatI rose to address the Committee.
– I am in, favour of the amendment. I cannot conceive why the Ministry do not accept it, or how any man can oppose it. It appears to me that when an Australian citizen desires to enter the Commonwealth he ought not to be put to any test. I have risen to refer to Senator Keating’s interjection that the Agents-General sometimes, or too often, have played into the hands of those who desire to injure Australia. He is acquainted with the Agent-General for Tasmania, and he knows that no man could have been more loyal to his Government, his Parliament, his people, or his clients than has that gentleman. I ask him, therefore, to withdraw his remark.
– I agree with what the honorable senator says ; but I think that the Agent-General for Tasmania could have represented the Australian position to the people in Great Britain who were misleading the country by misrepresentation.
– Then the Minister agrees with what I said as to the loyalty of the Agent-General for Tasmania? Senator Keating. - Undoubtedly.
– My honorable friend practically withdraws his remark that the Agents-General have too frequently played into the hands of certain persons in the old country.
– I say that they did not denounce the misrepresentations as they should have done.
– That is not playing into the hands of certain persons.
– That is what I meant to convey. They should have denounced the misrepresentations which they knew were going on, but they did not do so until Mr. James-, Mr. Coghlan, and Mr. Wise were in England.
– I am not going to allow the honorable senator to put on to the Agents-General the sins of the , Commonwealth. It is a fact that our legislation, pas.sed in a slip-shod manner - in a manner which our own people do not understand, and that our officers misunderstand - has practically condemned Australia. Does my honorable friend think that an Agent-General, representing 200,000 out of 4,000,000 people, ought to write to the press of Great Britain, and repudiate everything said about the laws of the Commonwealth ? Does he not know perfectly well that it is an unwritten law that we shall not interfere with the States, and that the States shall not interfere with us ? Although some have the bad taste to violate that law, is that a reason why the Agents-General should be condemned, because they have not violated it ?
– Look at what Mr. James has done.
– Mr. James may have done something in a particular case, but my honorable friend had no right to pass such an aspersion upon the Agents-General as he did.
– I am constrained to speak, because of the most extraordinary attitude that Senator Symon has adopted, and because of the position in which, apparently, he is anxious to place the Senate. He must know perfectly well that in proposing this amendment, he is simply beating the air. A little while ago we heard him expressing himself as being extremely anxious for the end of the session. But here he is now wasting the time of the Senate. I can hardly believe that he is serious.
– The honorable senator may take my word for it, that I am very serious about this proposal.
-The honorable senator is proposing the amendment with his tongue in his cheek. He is simply having a little game with the Government. He knows, or ought to know, that the education test has not been applied to any Australian.
– Then, do away with it, so far as concerns Australians”
– If we did, what would the result be? We should require to have a definition of the word citizen.
– It is thoroughly well understood.
– In the United States a man is not a citizen until he has resided in the country for a period of five years, and his papers as an elector have been issued to him.
– In the Commonwealth a man is a’ citizen either by birth or naturalization.
– It might be difficult to define the word. If we insert the amendment, we shall be compelled to do the very thing we have been trying to avoid - to differentiate between coloured and other people. So far as I have been able to learn, no Australian desiring to go out of this country for the purpose of visiting any other country has been subjected to the education test on his return. There is no inconvenience whatever. Are we prepared to draw the colour line ? If we are not, we should stick to the Bill. Every one knows that a majority of the Senate was in favour of the education test when the original Act was passed. The consideration that swayed us was that we had the Imperial Government to consider. The original Act which this Bill amends was a compromise. Are we in a better position to-day than we were than when that measure was passed? Are we able to stand straight up on our own feet and say that we will not have any compromise?
– The honorable senator had not courage enough to try.
– The ‘honorable senator taunts me with lack of courage. I would rather be a coward than a deceitful person. We know perfectly . well why honorable senators opposite were so very anxious to amend the original Bill. They thought the result would be that the Bill would be hung up indefinitely, and that Asiatics would be permitted to come in freely during the negotiations.
– I was referring to the vote which the honorable senator gave last might. He was afraid to put this matter to the test - afraid to risk this little Bill.
– I knew that there was no business in the amendment submitted. That is the plain way to put it. The whole question had been fought out before. The party with which Senator Givens is associated had given the matter a great deal of deliberation, and had abandoned in despair the very thing which he attempted to do.
– The position is different now.
– If the position had been better to-day than it was then, I should have voted with Senator Givens.
– What did the honorable senator risk last night?
– I risked nothing, but I knew that we should be defeated ultimately. If I had voted with Senator Givens, I should have had all the glory of waving a coloured flag in the face of Eastern nations, knowing full well that it would merely be a piece of braggadocio, and would have no effect.
Senato’r Sir Josiah Symon. - Mr. Chamberlain is not in power in England now.
– That does not matter. Colonial and foreign policy are continuous in England. I really do not see that we shall gain anything by adopting Senator Symon’s amendment. No doubt we have gained something from his point of view - we have wasted a lot of time.
– I do not think the honorable senator seriously meant that.
– I do. I impute nothing to the honorable senator _ that is not legitimate; but any one could see what the policy of the Opposition has been throughout this session. Its policy has been to delay, to obstruct, to defeat every proposal brought forward by the Government.
– That is absolutely incorrect.
– The Opposition supported the amendment last night.
– It has very seldom happened that the Government has had any support from the members of the Opposition. The policy of the Opposition from the beginning of this session has been to prevent the Government from passing any legislation.
– To prevent the Government from passing bad legislation.
– The session has been, so far as the Opposition is concerned, one long, feeble attempt at “stonewalling.”
– No man has occupied more time than the honorable senator himself.
– I intend to occupy a great deal more. As I am helping honorable senators opposite, I do not see why they should complain.
– May I ask the honorable senator to address himself to the amendment ?
– Senator Symon has laid great stress upon the fact’ that every Australian who comes back to this country after a visit to foreign parts is liable to be subjected to the education test. That is quite true; just as every man who walks down the street this afternoon is liable to arrest by the police on suspicion of having committed some offence. The liability is just as great in the one case as in the other. But how often have respectable people’ been arrested? Senator Symon quoted the Agents-General, but I say frankly that, so far as the AgentGeneral of my own State is concerned, I would not give two straws for any report he made.
– Or any report in which he had a hand.
– Or any report in which he had a hand. I am prepared to justify every word I am now saying.
– Can you, Mr. Chairman, connect these remarks about the Agents-General with the clause under discussion ?
– Senator Symon, when introducing his amendment, referred to the _ reports of the Agents-General as containing reasons why the amendment should be passed, and I take it that Senator Stewart is replying.
– The ‘AgentGeneral for Queensland1, Sir Horace Tozer, stated in the press that ^40,000,000 of capital was being kept from investment in
Australia, because of our restrictive legislation; but when he was brought to book for the assertion, the amount dwindled, I suppose, to about £40: An AgentGeneral capable of making an assertion of the kind, which he cannot substantiate, is not worthy of much confidence, and his opinion ought not to have much influence within this Chamber.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted beinserted - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Senator STEWART (Queensland). - I desire to remodel this clause by making two amendments in paragraph a. I move -
That the word “ more,” line 7, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ less.”
The second amendment which I intend to move is, the omission of the word “ prescribed,” in order to substitute “ European.” The object of the amendment I have moved is to secure that the passage dictated shall consist of at least fifty words. Under the Bill as it stands, a test of one, half-a-dozen, or twenty word’s might be applied, and the intention of the legislation defeated.
– I hope the Senate will accept the amendment.
– I am willing to accept it in a modified form.
– I do not see why the Government have interfered with this portion of the original Act. Senator Playford, in introducing the Bill, explained that an intending immigrant, after the first two or three words had been dictated, might show that he could not write at all, and that, therefore, it was useless to proceed with the dictation. But where is the trouble in dictating fifty word’s, whether the immigrant be writing or not? As Senator Stewart pointed out, there is great clanger, if the clause remains as at present, of a Customs officer performing his duty in such a perfunctory manner that a person, ineligible according to the intention of the Act, may be admitted to the Commonwealth. Then it is also possible for a Customs House officer, as the Bill stands at present, to dictate some simple little sentence of as few words as he chooses to fix.
– A great temptation is placed in the way of officers.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.When, as on occasions, a coloured mart is willing to pay , £100 to be admitted to the Commonwealth, there is great temptation for an official to give an easy test; and we ought to remove that temptation as much as possible.
Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia - Minister of Defence). - Senator Smith has not stated the facts quite correctly. In the original Act a passage of fifty words was provided for; and I alluded to the fact that, in many cases, the officers had found that the intended immigrant was utterly incapable of writing one word, and that, therefore, it was of no use proceeding to the full number. In a. case of this kind, which was taken into Court, the officer could not swear he had dictated fifty words; and the case was dismissed at once. I notice that magistrates are always exceedingly willing to put every obstacle in the way of carrying out this Act. In the original Act the provision for dictating fifty words was held - indeed. the Government lost one case on this point - to mean that the officer must not dictate one word beyond that number. In the case I refer to the officer admitted that he had exceeded the number, and the magistrates dismissed the charge.I am quite willing that there should be a maximum and a minimum number, and I suggest that Senator Stewart withdraw his amendment, so as to permit the introduction, after the word “ not.” of the words “ less than twenty-five nor.” ‘
Senator STEWART (Queensland). - I regret very much I cannot accept the suggested amendment, for a reason which honorable senators will appreciate when they consider how short is a passage of twenty-five words. Fifty words is quite few enough to apply as a test.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - In order to show Senator Stewart that he is not quite just to me when he asserts that I never adopt a course which will assist the Government - although I have done so frequently during the session, and hope to do so again if they conduct themselves properly - I now announce that I intend to support the amendment which Senator Playford has suggested. There is nothing in the paragraph about spelling, and I take it that spelling is an element of a dictation test. Surely, if an unhappy Greek or Italian is subjected to a test of twenty words in Engglish, it will be sufficient to show whether he knows anything about it ? It should be borne in mind that this test is not an education test, but is being us.ed as a colourable and indirect means - and I am not ashamed to use the word which Senator Trenwith has used - a subterfuge, to keep out people of the coloured races. It is not a test as to whether an intending immigrant is an accomplished writer of English essays, an accomplished French or German scholar, or any nonsense of tha-t kind. It is a test intended for the purpose of keeping people of coloured races out of Australia. I may, or may not, agree with it, but that is the policy, and I do not propose to question it on this Bill. Bearing that in mind, it must be evident that it is of little consequence whether the test comprises ten, fifteen, twenty, or five thousand words. If it were intended merely as an education test, there are numbers of Japanese who could pass it. Scores of them write better English than do any of the members of the Senate. Some Japanese have recently published books in English which are models of style, and would not shame Ruskin, Macaulay, or any of the great writers of England.
– They are not coming here.
– I do not say that they are ; but English is taught in the schools of Japan,, and if this were merely to be an education test, we should have Japanese coming in here, whether we liked it or not. That, I repeat, is not the object in view, and if the Minister proposes to make any. modification at all, he might reduce the number of words to twenty.
– We should not lose sight of the intention of Parliament in passing the original Bill, and there can be no doubt that our intention in providing for a test comprising fifty words was that undesirable immigrants should be asked to write a fairly long passage. It will be admitted that an undesirable immigrant would have more difficulty in writing a passage of fifty words than in writing one of twenty-five words. I think that the Minister should accept Senator Stewart’s amendment. I take it that he has no desire to weaken the education test, and it would be far better to provide that the passage dictated should comprise “not less than fifty words.”
– He desires to make it elastic to avoid the extraordinary decisions which have been given.
– Senator Stewart’s amendment will make the clause sufficiently elastic for that purpose.
Senator PLAYFORD (South AustraliaMinister of Defence). - The matter is not worth the time we are giving to its discussion. I believe that my proposal to fix a minimum and maximum is preferable to the amendment submitted by Senator Stewart, but if the honorable senator is disposed to press his amendment I have no objection to allow it to pass.
– I am surprised at the action of the leader of the Senate. “Not less than fifty words “ might mean five thousand words.
– I think that Senator Stewart might withdraw hi’s . amendment.
– If Senator Playford will adhere to his amendment we will support him.
Senator PULSFORD (New South Wales). - I have a suggestion to make which I think will please all parties. I suggest that we fix a minimum of forty words., and a maximum of sixty words. That would give an average of fifty words, the number provided for in the principal Act.
Question- That the word proposed to be left out be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Senator STEWART (Queensland).- I move -
That the word “ prescribed,” line 7, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ European.”
Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia -Minister of Defence).- I ask the Committee not to accept this amendment, because the Bill has been drafted on the principle of extending our power to prevent the introduction of undesirable immigrants. The greater the number of languages in which we can frame the test, the better. If we had used the word “English” in the clause, we should have been able to impose the test only in one language, and numbers of Asiatics would have been able to come in without any trouble. By using the word “European” in the first instance, we extended the list of languages to a very great number, the object being to give us better opportunities to prohibit the landing of undesirable people. Persons who could speak English well enough might find it difficult to pass the test in Hungarian, Swedish, Norwegian, Russian, and so on. What we are proposing now is to further extend the list of languages in which the test may be imposed, with the approval ofParliament. We propose to take power, with the approval of Parliament, to extend the number of languages indefinitely, and we might, under the Bill, include the whole of the Asiatic languages.
Honorable senators who support Senator Stewart’s amendment must see that they will accomplish nothing by it.
– I hope the Committee will accept the amendment. I consider it the most important that can be moved in this Bill. It is ridiculous for the Minister to tell us that the more languages we have the better. I ask the honorable senator whether, with all the European languages included in the existing Act, the authorities could not exclude anybody they pleased if the test were applied with that object ? No person living is an adept in all the languages of Europe. It is merely throwing dust in the eyes of the Committee “to say that the object of this clause is to enable the test to be applied to undesirable immigrants in a greater number of languages. The real reason for the clause “is that there has been an outcry that our Immigration Restriction Act should be made less offensive to Japan.
– And if we can do so without losing anything, why should we not do so?
– The fact that we provided that the test should be imposed in a European language, and not in a prescribed language, showed clearly and unmistakably the intention of Parliament in the matter, and it has been so held by the Courts. It was thought that only persons who spoke a European language should be admitted. If the phrase “an European language” be replaced with the phrase “any prescribed language,” what indication shall we have of the language which may be used in the test ? It is the most dangerous proposal in the Bill. It is admitted that the value and effect of this legislation depends entirely upon administration. Suppose that we had in office a Minister who was in favour of coloured races being allowed to enter.
– How long would he continue to be Minister?
– In Australian politics very strange things have occurred. At one time a distinguished gentleman induced the Parliament of Queensland to pass an Act excluding ,kanakas, but in a very short time he swallowed every principle which he had professed, and to-day he is occupying perhaps one of the highest positions in the Commonwealth.
– In Victoria it was done very recently by Mr. Irvine.
– Such cases are quite common. Therefore, it behoves Parliament to place on the face of every measure a clear indication of what it means. This clause would only make our legislation more a subterfuge than ever, because the Minister, after getting perhaps a catch vote in favour of a regulation, might prescribe the Japanese, or the Chinese, or any language, and he would have the authority of Parliament for taking that course. If, however, we were to retain in the Act the expression “ an European language,” no Minister could go behind the back of Parliament and prescribe any other language. I take it that we are all perfectly willing and anxious to allow every one of our own race and colour, no matter whether he may come from Europe or from America, to enter the Commonwealth.
– Indeed, the honorable senator is not.
– To say that any member of the Labour Party is anxious to keep out any persons who are of our own race and colour, and who wish to come here under perfectly free and honest conditions, is a gross misstatement of facts.
– The secretary of the Labour Party wrote a letter to that effect.
– He on.lv pointed out that there were large armies of unemployed in Australia., and that is perfectly true.
– Any citizen of Australia, whether he be a secretary, or otherwise, has a perfect right to try to prevent persons from being brought here under false pretences.
– The honorable senator is supporting a fraud now which he has acknowledged.
– It is not my fault that the Bill is a fraud. When’ I proposed the adoption of a straight-out colour test yesterday, I did not receive very much support. I believe that the amendment will assist to introduce the element of honesty into the Bill, and to declare truly what Parliament means, and for that reason it shall have my support.
Senator PULSFORD (New South Wales).- Several honorable senators stated yesterday, time after time, that Japan had not made it officially and authoritatively known that she. felt insulted at the word “ European “ being used in our Act. After the repeated explanations which have been made here, I cannot understand any honorable senator rising to make that assertion, because if anything has been made clear in the history of politics during the last few years it is that one fact that Japan has explained fully, courteously, and earnestly that the adoption of that term by Australia, differentiating as it does against Japanese, was taken by that nation as an insult. I do not think we need argue whether certain things are so or not. The question is, has Japan made it quite clear that she does feel slighted and offended at the adoption of that phrase? If we are inclined to-day to take a big ‘view of things, then we must pay attention to the utterances of our ally. If, on the other hand, we care nothing about the Empire, if any of us is eager to take steps which might even tend to discredit Australia, which might tend ultimately to disintegrate the Empire, then I can understand honorable senators with such ulterior purposes in their minds being ready to bring about a position which might produce that result. We had repeated statements made here yesterday as to the position of a British emigrant to Japan. It was stated positively that, whatever might be our terms of exclusion, Japan’s terms of exclusion against the British were more exacting, more arbitrary, and more offensive. Honorable senators’ cannot have paid much attention to the paper which was tabled not long ago. on the motion of Senator Higgs, and which is entitled “ Treaty of Commerce and Navigation between Great Britain and Japan.” I shall quote briefly two or three articles of the Treaty, in order to make clear the terms upon which British people mav enter Janan. Article 1 of the Treaty begins as follows:^ -
The subjects of each of the two High Contracting Parties shall have full liberty to enter, travel, or reside in any part of the dominions and possessions of the other Contracting Party, and shall enjoy full and perfect protection for their persons and property.
– In what year was that Treaty signed?
– In July, 1894.
– And Australia is especially exempted from all its provisions.
– The Treaty is in force to-day.
– Not in Australia.
– I know that.
– Queensland was the only Colony in the group which took advantage of the Treaty.
– I am talking of the position between Great Britain and Japan. Article 1 goes on to say -
In whatever relates to rights of residence and travel ; to the possession of goods and effects of any kind ; to the succession to personal estate, by will or otherwise, and the disposal of property of any sort in any manner whatsoever which they may lawfully acquire, the subjects of each Contracting Party shall enjoy in the dominions and possessions of the other the same privileges, liberties, and rights, and shall be subject to no higher imposts or charges in these respects than native subjects.
There shall be reciprocal freedom of commerce and navigation between the dominions and possessions of the two High Contracting Parties.
By article 19 the self-governing Colonies of the Empire are excluded, unless they wish to take advantage of the Treaty.It is in the power of the Commonwealth to signify that it desires to do so. If it intimates that desire Japan is willing to enter into a similar arrangement, subject, as she has notified, to an arrangement whereby the questions of immigration and emigration would be controlled. Senator after senator has asserted that it has not been authoritatively stated that Japan has objected to the education test being made in a European language. I find that in a’ letter written on the 5th October, 1901, by Consul Eitaki to the Governor-General, he used these words-
I have received a cable from His Imperial Japanese Majesty’s Government stating that they consider the two Bills named clearly make a racial discrimination, and requesting me, on that account, to convey to Your Excellency their high dissatisfaction with those measures.
Does not that stamp the communication of the Consul as being authoritative, and as being sent with the consent of his Government? I think that honorable senators will admit with me that it does not lie in our mouth to refuse to recognise the official character of these communications when they have been officially recognised by no less an authority than the GovernorGeneral of Australia. On the 21st October the Secretary to His Excellency wrote to the Consul in these terms -
In continuation of my letter to you of the 10th inst., I have now the honour, by desire of His Excellency, the Governor-General, to inform you that he has transmitted a copy of the correspondence regarding the Immigration Restriction Bill, which has taken place between the Commonwealth Government- and the Japanese Consulate, for the consideration of His Britannic Majesty’s Government.
You will, of course, understand that His Excellency has taken this course in addition to submitting your letter of the 5th idem. for the consideration of his responsible advisers.
Itis clear, therefore, that this communication was sent by the authority of the Japanese Government; that it was received in “Australia as authoritative; that it was recognised by the Governor-General as authoritative; that is was sent on by the Governor-General to the Secretary of State for the Colonies as authoritative. The present Government itself is, or has been, in communication with the Japanese Consul. In a paper which was circulated a few days ago, headed “ Immigration Restriction Act, 190 1,” containing a number of documents, there is given a lengthy correspondence which” has taken place between, not one, but threeseparate Governments of the Commonwealth, and Mr. Iwasaki, the Consul for Japan. I notice that in one of the letters Mr. Iwasaki says -
Immediately on receipt of your letter I cabled to my Government, and to-day received a cable authorizing me on behalf of my Government to accept the terms and conditions referred to ; showing again that the Consul for Japan has spoken and acted in an authoritative manner. It has been stated by several speakers that the ordinary course of procedure is for the representatives of foreign Powers to address themselves to London, and for their communications to come through the British officials to Australia. But surely those who are anxious to see Australia develop into a great nation - those who have high ideals of what Australia ought to be. and will be in the future - ought, above all others, to be gratified that direct communications have passed between the representatives of Japan and the Government of Australia, without the circumlocution office having first to be dealt with. It was not to-day, it was not yesterday that Japan first of all began to complain of Australian legislation. I hold in my hand a copy of a despatch, dated the 20th November, 1897, from Mr. Joseph Chamberlain to the Governor of Victoria. It is only one of several despatches that were sent to Australian Governments, in which the Colonial Secretary intimated that he had received communications from the Japanese Government with regard to Aus-“ tralian legislation; and he used the words that “ a painful feeling exists in Japan.” Is it for us, when we can achieve our object easily and readily, to take steps which will admittedly give offence to the Japanese? There is no question of doubt that in introducing this measure to omit the word “European,” and to effect the object previously attained by the principal Act in another way, the Government have been influenced - and I think happily and rightly influenced, in the interests of Australia and in the interests of the Empire - by a desire to be at peace with Japan, and to arrange our business on lines that will at least give satisfaction to that nation, and will not be offensive to our own feelings. Only a few minutes ago I said that the whole subject of immigration was in the mire. I have recognised the trouble we are in, and I am grateful for any effort to relieve Australia of any portion of the mire that clings to her. I recognise that this amendment of the law makes some effort to .meet a great difficulty,, and one which reflects much discredit on Australia. It is for this reason that T ask honorable senators to pause before proposing to hark back again to the conditions, of the existing Act. I hope that the time will come when we shall be able to effect our object in a much more satisfactory way than we do by means of this Bill. I have had a motion on the business-paper of the Senate for some time, and it has been discussed on several occasions, on the lines of making an arrangement with Japan, and, of course, with other countries, with regard to immigration.
– The honorable senator is making a second-reading speech on a little clause.
– It is not a little clause. It is a very big matter. It is of no use for the Minister to try to gain acceptance for this clause bv a reference to some matter which is of little consequence, when subjects of grave importance are under consideration that ought to anneal to- all who love their country, arid who love thei’r Empire, and that should induce us to deal with them in a statesmanlike way.
Senator WALKER (New South Wales).’ - My honorable friend Senator Pulsford has said a great deal that I wished to say. All that I desire to add is that this measure gives us an opportunity to avoid hurting the susceptibilities of the people of Japan. Consequently, I shall support the Government in .reference to it.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - I wish to say in a sentence or two how grieved I am that I cannot take the view so eloquently, and so justly in many respects, put by Senator Pulsford. He thinks that this provision is a concession to the feelings of the Japanese. I am unable to recognise in it any appreciable concession to them. If I vote upon this matter, I shall be found supporting Senator Stewart’s amendment, but I shall be exceedingly sorry if, ito doing so, I differ from Senator Walker and Senator Pulsford. I do not see that there is anything to be gained by perpetuating what we are all calling a subterfuge. “The beginning of sin is like the letting out of water,” and once we begin this kind of legislation there is no end of it. The provision under discussion affords an illustration. We propose to use the words “ In any prescribed language.” That is clear. But there is to be no other prescribed language than an European language until next session, when some other language, we do not know what, may be adopted by the Legislature. Until some other language is prescribed, the test is to be applied in an European language, as defined in the existing Act. It is merely a pretence to say that we are wiping away a reflection on the Japanese. Let us be a little honest in our legislation, and not perpetuate a dishonest method. We all admit that our- policv is to exclude Asiatic labour. That policv has been enunciated by this Parliament. None of us is prepared to question it now, whether we are in accord with it or not. We then have to consider what shall be our instrument - what means shall be adopted. Our Act imposes an education test in an European language. That is an instrument which has been effective in the past. Tt will be effective in the future. But when we pass this Bill, and put it upon the statute-book, removing the expression. “European language,” we are still going to leave the existing Act absolutely intact,’ still wounding, the susceptibilities of the Japanese. No one believes for a moment that when we meet again next session we shall change the European languages in which the education test is applied into Asiatic languages. The Bill merely says that power is given. We do nothing. This Bill does not really alter the thing one iota. If the Japanese are wounded toy European languages being prescribed in the existing Act, they will remain prescribed after this Bill becomes a Statute. If the existing law is a blot in the opinion of the Japanese, it remains a blot.
– Could any language be prescribed?
– Not without the authority of Parliament.
– What harm is done ?
– What good is done? Why introduce another pretence and another subterfuge?
– It pleases the Japanese to think that no particular nationality is excluded.
– When the Bill is passed it will have to be read in conjunction with the existing Act. An European language is prescribed in that Act, and this Bill makes no alteration. The position is that the measure does not alter the European language provision which stares the Japanese in the face in our existing legislation. We are reducing our legislation to a perfect farce, and I am with Senator Stewart when he wishes to say plainly what we are trying, by means of this Bill, to escape from saying. We are a pack of cowards if we do not say it plainly. Let us have some courage, and some political honesty, in telling the Japanese that, whatever modification may be. made by Parliament hereafter, it is by a test in an European language that their admission is to be governed. Will any one tell me that we are going to prescribe Japanese as one of the languages in which the test may be administered? I think not. It is a mere hollow farce to suggest that we are going to do anything to relieve the feelings of the Japanese by putting the Japanese language on the same level with an European language, when we do not intend to do anything of the sort. Why should we treat the Japanese in this fashion? They are not children. Such legislation is not worthy of us, and for that reason I shall support the amendment proposed by Senator Stewart.
Senator TRENWITH (Victoria).- It is rather amusing to hear Senator Symon crying out for war - asking us to display a little courage, and fly in the face of anybody and everybody.
– Are we not afraid of the Japanese?
– Practically, the concluding sentence of Senator Symon’ s, speech was a call to us to display a little courage, if we have nopolitical honesty. If the admission implied in the last few words applies to the honorable senator himself, it certainly does not apply to the Commonwealth Parliament.
– I was referring to this legislation.
– This legislation was enacted in the light of day, with the full knowledge of the British public.
– But the honorable senator has called it a subterfuge.
– It is,, at all events, a subterfuge honestly entered into.
– An honest subterfuge !
– There may appear to be a contradiction in terms there, but if in open day, in order to please somebody, we resolve to achieve our end in one way, instead of another, there is no dishonesty in the subterfuge.
– I never heard of larceny being less larceny because it was, committed in daylight.
– This does not happen to be larceny, but a method of achieving an end which we published to the world by means of–
– Of a false pretence.
– No; by means which, it is said, will fail to give offence. Senator Symon says that the proposal will not make any difference whatever ; and I believe that, in actual practice, it will not. But it appears that those who feel hurt now, will not feel so hurt if we adopt a different course. Is it a polite, courteous, or humane method to attempt to achieve our object in a way that may hurt people’s feelings generally ?
– That has already been done, and the present proposal will make the position worse.
– If Senator Gray intends to vote against the proposal of the Government, in the belief that some one’s feelings may be more hurt than they are at present, he has, no doubt, some reason in his mind for the belief ; but what a very extraordinary “mind to be capable of arriving at such a conclusion ! I had the honour to be a member of the Parliament in which, I believe, was first introduced this, education test, and I would have much preferred to state in positive language exactly what it was proposed to do. However, an intimation was received from those to whom we have a right to defer that they would be pleased if we adopted another course, which would not embarrass them, or be offensive to a nation with whom they were on friendly relations. The position is the same to-day. Most of us have a little .courage, but I am not hankering after strained relations with other parts of the world. I am not “ looking for trouble,” if the desirable ends I have in view can be otherwise achieved. It seems to me that the Government have adopted a course which is commendable. [ feel as s.trongly as any man in. the Commonwealth in regard to the underlying principle of the Bill. It is in the interests of the Commonwealth to keep this continent to be owned, managed, and enjoyed by people of our own race ; at any rate, we ought not to admit within our borders persons who obviously never can blend with us. Having achieved that initial principle, we ought to be anxious at all times to give the “other fellow” - if I may use the expression - everything that is non-essential, if he is satisfied with that. In this instance, it appears that those with whom we might be embroiled are satisfied with what the Government propose to do, and we ought also to be satisfied because the law will be strong enough to achieve our object.
– Is there any evidence that the Japanese are satisfied with the Bill?
– I confess that I do not know, but I have been given to understand that they are. Let us assume, for argument’s sake, that they are not quite satisfied ; how much more satisfied would they be if we retained what, to them, is objectionable ?
– If we provided for the Japanese language, that would be all right for them.
– I am not prepared to go that far.
– What harm would it do?
– It would do harm.
– But what harm?
– I do not propose to discuss that greater question, but I submit that to admit the Japanese language would furnish an excuse for a Ministry, antagonistic to what I regard as the policy of the Commonwealth, to do an act with which we would have just reason to be annoyed.
– Do you think that any Ministry would admit a lot of Japanese working men?
– The honorable senator wishes to draw me into a discussion which is not quite relevant, and which would be too lengthy at this stage of the session. I believe that Senator Dobson does not believe in the principle of excluding Asiatics.
– The honorable senator has heard so many misrepresentations as to my views that he supposes I desire to see Japanese working men come into Australia.
- Senator Pulsford frankly admits that he is opposed to the whole Bill, though, I think he is taking a proper attitude on this amendment. There are other- honorable senators who are opposed to the principle of the Bill, and would be glad to incorporate in the measure anything likely to intensify objections to it. I am glad to know that Senator Dobson is not amongst those honorable senators, but that does not alter the fact that others take that view.
– I do not believe it, though I may be wrong.
– However, all this does not affect my argument. We can get along very much better with individuals, or with aggregations of people, if we achieve our ends by the most pleasant and unobjectionable method; and that is what I think the Government are now doing. We know, as Senator Symon pointed out, that the Government will not prescribe an Asiatic language, and there is no need, therefore, to have any specific clause in this connexion. So long as Parliament has the power to prescribe the language, that power should be left as wide as possible, if in leaving it so we avoid giving offence. I know that some honorable senators, who agree with the principle of the Bill, resent any outside interference with our legislation. ( Such interference arouses pugnacious people, and I regret to say that in many, respects I am pugnacious myself. We should always endeavour, however, to overcome that disposition, because, after all, there is a vast amount of wisdom and philosophy in a saying with which I was familiar in my boyhood : “ You can catch more flies with treacle than you can with vinegar.” We ought to put as little “ vinegar “ as possible into our negotiations and communications with other people.
– For more than one reason, I intend to vote with Senator Stewart. According to that honorable senator’s idea, and according to the admission by Senator Playford, this clause is really an exchange of subterfuge. In other words, we propose to adopt one subterfuge in place of another.
– If the honorable senator does not like the subterfuge he should oppose the Bill.
– I did vote in favour of a straightforward declaration of what we intended. It would) have been a far more statesmanlike, as well as more honest course, to say exactly what we meant, and to run the risk of a refusal of the Royal Assent. The policy of Australia is to exclude Asiatics, and we ought to be honest enough to say so. There is another aspect which has not been touched on. Section 3 of the principal Act provides that -
The immigration into the Commonwealth of the persons described in any of the following paragraphs of this section (hereinafter called “ prohibited immigrants “) is prohibited, namely : -
Any person who when asked to do so by an officer fails to write out at dictation and sign in the presence of the officer a passage of fifty words in length in an European language directed by the officer.
It is clear from that that any intending immigrant, on landing, in the Commonwealth, may be met by an officer, who dictates to him fifty words in an European language. We know, as a matter of fact, that the officer can dictate fifty words in any European language, and he is therefore given a very wide choice. What is now proposed ? It seems to me that we are being asked, with the approval of Parliament, to reduce the number of languages in which the test may be applied to one prescribed language.
– Surely the honorable senator does not mean that only one language will be prescribed in which the test can be applied?
– I direct attention to the fact that clause 3 of this Bill provides that prohibited immigrants shall include -
Any person who fails to pass the dictation test : that is to say, who, when ah officer dictates to him not less than fifty words in any prescribed language -
Then it goes on to say that -
No regulation prescribing any language shall have any force. unless under the conditions set out in the clause ; and later on the clause provides that -
Until some language has been prescribed, the languages authorized by the Principal Act shall be deemed to be prescribed within the meaning of this Act.
Now, what is the intention of this Bill ? It appears to me that by this clause, though we shall widen the range of choice, we shall narrow the selection to one language.
– The honorable senator contends that the regulation may prescribe only one language ?
– So it seems to me from the wording of this clause.
– The clause must be read in conjunction with the Acts Interpretation Act.
– The regulation may prescribe one or one hundred languages.
– The clause will leave the matter just as it is to-day.
– As I am confronted by three lawyers, I suppose I must back down upon my contention ; but it certainly appears to me that the clause, as drafted, indicates an intention to narrow down the languages to be prescribed to one language. I should like to hear the opinion of Senator Keating on the matter.
– I raised the same question on the second reading, and it was then positively stated that a number of languages might be prescribed.
– In anycase I intend to support Senator Stewart’s amendment, because, if we do not desire these Asiatics to come into Australia, we should be honest enough to say so.
Senator GRAY (New South Wales).We are being asked to agree to what I was going to call cowardly legislation. We have already passed a measure which is admitted to be a fraud, and we are now considering whether we shall not perpetuate that fraud. If I could believe that the people of Japan, or of any of the other Eastern nations, will be satisfied that the proposals of the Government in this Bill are. in accordance with their desires, I should gladly support it.
– Is the honorable senator in favour of the principal A;t?
– I am in favour of nofraud whatever, and I cannot believe that the Japanese will be in .favour of a fraud. The evolution of the Japanese from an Eastern to a Western education and form of civilization within the last two or three years must have been a revelation to us. It should certainly teach us that they are a. far-seeing and diplomatic race.
– It is because they are diplomatic that they wish us to take out the word “ European.”
– I believe they are the equals of Western nations in everything that comprises civilization. I believe that in intelligence, energy, and business acumen . they are the equals of the* Western races, and, so far as military prowess is concerned, I personally have very much doubt whether they are not superior to most of the Western nations. In the circumstances, that they will be satisfied with legislation which those who introduce it acknowledge to be a subterfuge and a fraud, is most improbable.
– They asked for a language test, knew how it would be used, and were quite satisfied with it.
– They were not satisfied, though for reasons of their own they remained passive. Senator Pulsford has given plenty of evidence that they were not satisfied. I recognise fully the intense earnestness which Senator Pulsford has exhibited on behalf of the Japanese people, and I therefore regret that I am unable to agree with the honorable senator that by voting ‘with the Government in this matter I shall be doing what will satisfy the Japanese people. I believe that what they would desire us to do is what we should ourselves desire if we were in their place, and that is that we should pass straightforward legislation, which would in no sense indicate that we considered the Japanese to be in any way inferior to Western nations or to Australians. In a sense they recognise the wisdom of the course which we are taking, because they give no encouragement to Japanese to emigrate from their own country, and we may therefore take it that they do not favour their coming to Australia. But we know that what they do desire is that they shall be considered as on a par with Western ‘ nations. It is natural enough that, consulting the dignity of the position they have achieved, they should think it right that they should be placed on a parity with Western- nations in all legislation of this character. I believe that this Bill is no improvement on the existing Act.
– Would the honorable senator have voted for the existing Act if it had been put in a form that was not a fraud?
– I shall not commit myself to that, because I am so opposed to what I call the insulting legislation which has been passed by the Commonwealth Parliament, as affecting Easternnations, that I very much doubt whether I should have voted for the existing Act in any form. The fact remains that whatever is obnoxious to Eastern nations in the existing Act is perpetuated in this Bill, and I cannot believe that the Japanese will be satisfied that what1 they complain of in the existing Act ils remedied by this Bill. For the reasons I have given, I intend to support Senator Stewart’s amendment’.
– The consideration of this clause compels me to the admission that this Government have put me into a position that I never imagined any Government could possibly place me I can see no reason sufficiently strong to induce me to give a vote one way or the other in this matter. The admission by Senator Playford, and the public announcements which we have seen in print of the views entertained by most of the members of the Government, have justified honorable senators in believing that the Government deliberately propose to strike the word “ European “ out of the original Act, in order to appease somebody, and the Japanese, I assume.
– Hindoos, also.
– If I assume that it is to appease the Japanese, that will be sufficient for my purpose. Whilst the Government propose to leave the word “ European “ out, they put the language test in the most open possible way. and we have heard Senator Playford telling us in his second-reading speech that the Government intend to apply the European language test, just as if no amendment of the principal Act had been passed.
– No: I say that Ihe Bill provides that it shall be applied for the present. I do not say that we will not ask Parliament to approve of the application of the test in an Astatic language.
– The honorable senator will find when he peruses Hansard that what he stated was that the Government intended to apply an European language test.
– For the present.
– We may accept that modification, and I do not blame the honorable senator for saying so, because we find from the clause itself that, until some language has been prescribed, the languages authorized by the principal Act shall be deemed to be prescribed. I am asked to delete the word “ European,” and, at the same time, to recognise that an European language is going to be used.
– For the present.
– There is much virtue in that phrase. In other words, I am asked to enact a provision, and at the same time to assent to the proposition that it shall remain in abeyance.
– Vote for the amendment.
– The amendment is, I admit, more honest than the clause. After all, it is an attempt to state in the Bill what the Government propose to do. I am so weary of this language test, that I shall be very glad when the Bill leaves the Chamber.
– How does the honorable senator propose to vote?
– I am not going to add to the list of my iniquities by voting for one more subterfuge, one more dishonest pretence, one more piece of specious humbug.
– In Queensland we had a considerable experience of Japanese immigrants. . A fewyears ago. when there were only a small number of these people in Northern Queensland, we were always told that we need not be afraid of very many of them coming in. It was stated in the Queensland Parliament that the Japanese were not only coming in, but were bringing in their women, dressed as men, in order to be able to do with them practically what they chose. Within about eighteen months from the signing of the treaty between Japan and Great Britain we had a Japanese unemployed question at Thursday Island. There were 200 odd
Japanese, who had no means of getting employment, and who practically had to appeal to the Government to bring them down the coast to places where they would be able to find work. The Government did not respond to the appeal, but the sugar planters did. It was because of the Japanese unemployed question at Thursday Island that these men were spread over the greater portion of the coast-line of Queensland. During all this time the Japanese Government were protesting that they did not want their people to go to Australia, but, as a matter of fact, the Japanese were resorting to every possible device with the object of getting into Australia while this protest was being made.
– A few Japanese might have done so; but the Government policy was not altered.
– Why, men went from Australia practically as agents to induce Japanese to emigrate to Queensland, and, of course, to engage afterwards in the industries.
– Is it not a fact that in 1896, and subsequently, Japan enacted certain legislation restricting emigration?
– I think it was enacted at about the time when the legislation was passed in Queensland in connexion: with the sugar works. Senator Pulsford has called our attention to the terms of the treaty between Japan and the mother country. A copy of the treaty was sent to the Government of each Colony in the group, and it is very strange, indeed, that New South Wales never took advantage of its terms. Every Colony but Queensland declined to consider the treaty, and it was accepted by that Colony with the omission of two or three paragraphs, including article , 24, I think, to which its Parliament would not agree. There was a big feeling against accepting the treaty, because it was well known that wherever there was a possibility of Japanese evading its terms it would be taken advantage of to the fullest extent.
– It was accepted, not by the Parliament, but by the Executive Government.
– At all events, the question was discussed in. the Parliament before the treaty was accepted in a modified form.
– Have Japanese been coming into Queensland since this legislation was . passed by the Commonwealth ?
– I do not know that the Japanese have been evading the law. I am only pointing out that, years, ago, the Japanese Government were continually protesting that they did not wish their people to go to Australia, but that as many of them as possible did enter our country simply because it was better than Japan. “I believe that the Japanese are a people who would resort to any device or subterfuge to gain their ends. I prefer our legislation to be worded as clearly as possible. I am quite prepared, if that be the wish of a majority, to draw the colour line very clearly, and to run the risk of the Royal Assent being refused to the Bill. Prior to Federation, it was only New South Wales which passed a measure of this kind, 1 believe. The Bill was reserved, and the Government of the Colony was invited by Mr. Chamberlain not to adopt the direct method, but to adopt the language test, which was contained in the Natal Act.
– That is a true education test; it lets people in.
– As the result of its legislation, Natal is overrun by coloured aliens - the very people whom its Parliament wished to exclude. In legislating on this subject from time to time each State has, found it necessary to go one step further than it did previously. I believe that in Queensland a large- majority of the people favour the adoption of a colour test. The education test.., even, in this modified form, is described as a further subterfuge; but. as* the Minister has pointed Out, the value of this, kind of legislation depends solely upon its administration. So far, it has not been found necessary to placate any one by applying the test in an European language. Why should we go out of our way to legislate, not for the people of Australia, but practically for the people of Japan? In ‘ framing our legislation, we are not called upon to placate a people whom, I believe, 90 per cent, of the electors of Australia desire to exclude from our shores. We are told that we shall not be allowed to exclude Asiatics by a direct method. I submit that the indirect method which we adopted in 1901 has given satisfaction to a large majority of the people of the Commonwealth. I know that a number of persons, have said that it was disapproved of by the people of Japan, the people of China, and, I believe, the people of India. There is no reason why we should take particular notice of the people in London who have been crying out about our legislation, because, undoubtedly, it would be to their interest to see cheap, coloured labour brought into Australia. If it is satisfactory to a large majority of the people of the Commonwealth, let it stand upon the statute-book exactly as it is. I think there is no reason to resort to further subterfuge, and that we ought to let the world know exactly what we mean. If our legislation has been to some extent effective - and I believe that it has not been altogether effective in keeping out Asiatics, and that something else will have to be done in this, direction before very long - why should it be altered in this direction?
– If it has failed, it has only been because the tes.t has not been applied.
– Exactly. I believe that in the northern parts of the Commonwealth, coloured aliens have been surreptitiously landing; but that has not been the fault of the Act. If it has been fairly effective in accomplishing its object, there is no reason why it should not be adhered to.
Senator O’KEEFE (Tasmania).- Towards the close of his speech, Senator Turley made a remark which makes me very much inclined to vote on the opposite side to himself. He has admitted that the Act has. not been as effective as it should be.
– Oh, no.
– The honorable senator said that there may be some defect in the Act, or used some words to that effect.
– What I said was that it may have been to some extent effective.
– If the honorable senator says that the Act may have been to some extent effective, does not .that mean that it has not been effective to the full extent which he desired?
– Hear, hear. I said that I wanted to see a colour line drawn clearly.
– It is because I believe with Senator Turley that the Act has not been as effective as he desires that I do not like to jeopardize the enactment of this Bill.
– With a bigger ‘defect in it?
– I think not. Last night I said that I should like to see the Bill come into force, because, in my opinion, it would remedy certain defects in the Act which require to be remedied as soon as possible. If we are agreed that there are certain defects in theAct which require to be remedied, and that this Bill will remedy them, it remains to be determined whether Senator Stewart’s amendment remedies any other defect. To my mind, it is quite clear that it does not. Why? The Bill gives the Minister power to prescribe a language under the regulations. Only European languages art. now prescribed. The language prescribed will not take the place of an European language. The Bill itself provides that no. regulation prescribing a language shall be enforced until it has been laid before both Houses of Parliament for thirty days, or if within that time a motion has been proposed in either House to disapprove of the regulation, until that motion has been disposed of. A slight alteration may be required in the wording of that clause to make it impossible for such a regulation to come into force until both Houses have approved of the motion. I am quite willing to support an amendment to make the clause read that, if any alteration in the language test is proposed by Ministers, we shall have the fullest opportunity of discussing it, and that it shall not be sufficient to lay a regulation on the table, and say nothing about it. Probably the Government would accept such an amendment. I do not see very much reason for the language test proposal of the Bill. But this is the position : We are probably within a fortnight of the close of the session. There are many good provisions in this Bill. If many alterations are made it is possible that there will not be sufficient time to dispose of them. It will be a pity to jeopardize the Bill by making amendments which are not of great importance.
– This clause is pandering to an Asiatic race.
– There is no proposal to pander to any race. Before any language can be prescribed, Parliament must have an opportunity of discussing it.
– Has there been any demand in Australia for this amendment of the law?
– Whatever our party views may be, we must all concede that the present Prime Minister is a strong supporter of the White Australia policy.
I do not think he would do anything to jeopardize it. The Prime Minister has deemed it necessary to submit this Bill. Why ? Because he says that, by means of it, a cause of offence between Australia and a certain Asiatic race will be removed.
– There is no evidence of that ; it is a mere assertion.
– I think that Senator Matheson is drawing a long bow when he says that it is mere assertion.
– Did I not ask Senator Playford last night, and did he not say that he knew nothing about it?
– Officially the Government may know nothing about the feeling of Japan concerning our Act, but in are unofficial way we must know that there is. a cause of friction.
– The correspondence speaks for itself.
-The Government tell us that we can remove that friction, and at the same time absolutely safeguard our policy. What more do we want? If there were the slightest intention to weaken the White Australia policy, I should not for a moment support the proposal of the Government. But if we can remove a cause of offence that Australia is said to have given to another nation without endangering our policy, why should we not do it ? The Government tells us that we can do it. I cannot see that we are doing a very wrong thing in giving the Government a chance, and letting it take the responsibility. Senator Clemons is one of those who have strongly advocated the drawing of a colour line. I believe that he is genuine in the expression of that opinion. But we know that any restriction based on colour would not be accepted by the Imperial authorities.
– I would vote for it every time.
– But there are some honorable senators associated politically with Senator Clemons who, to-day, have said that they would like to draw a colour line, and who have used beautiful, highsounding phrases on the subject, whose sincerity I very much doubt. One of them has said, “Let us be honest; do not let us be cowards. Let us do what we want to do openly. Let us be courageous, instead of branding ourselves as afraid to proclaim our intentions.” But I would ask the honorable senator, who has tried to brand us as political cowards, what he and his Government, while they were in office, did to demonstrate their great courage in regard to drawing a colour line? Senator Symon was a member of a Government in whose counsels his voice must have had great weight. When that Government came into power, not only did it not bring before Parliament a proposal to substitute a colour line for the education test, but. the head of that Government went so far as to say publicly, at Hobart, in reply to a deputation, that he had no intention, during the existence of the present Parliament, to try to alter our immigration legislation. Yet we have Senator Symon to-day using beautiful phrases about courage’, and inferentially branding those who do not agree with him as political cowards.
– The honorable senator must remember that the Government which he and 1 supported did not propose an alteration of the law while it was in power.
– What chance did our Government have to do anything of the kind ? But it seems to me to be hypocritical of Senator Symon to get up and talk of the great courage which he possesses, and of the political cowardice of other people, when he made no attempt to institute a colour line instead of the education test when he had an opportunity. Believing, as I do, that it is. absolutely necessary, in pursuance of the White Australia policy, that certain defects in the existing legislation should be remedied, and that the remedy for those defects is contained in this amending measure, and knowing, as cannot be denied, that any alteration in the language test must be dis- cussed by Parliament before it has the force of law, I feel quite safe in yoting for the Bill as it stands, and against Senator Stewart’s amendment; at the same time indicating that I will support any proposal to make it absolutely clear that any suggested alteration of the language test must be distinctly brought under the notice of Parliament.
Senator MATHESON (Western Australia). - I said just now, while Senator O’Keefe was speaking, that it was a mere bare assertion that the amendment of the law contained in this Bill would satisfy the Japanese. I repeat -that. No evidence has been brought forward either by Senator Pulsford or the Minister to show that the Japanese will be in the slightest degree satisfied with the amendment of the law proposed by the Government.
– It is a mere assertion that they will not be satisfied.
– On the contrary, I am going to prove my statement that it is not a mere assertion. I shall do that by quotations which have come into my hand during the last half-hour, upon opening files of the English newspapers. The correspondence with the Japanese Consul, and with Japanese people, part of which was quoted by Senator Playford, shows clearly what the Japanese Government think of our law. It was said that in Japan there was a law which prevented emigration without the consent of the Government, and that, under the circumstances, Australia .need have no fear - that all that was wanted was that we should place Japan on a parity with European nations. I think Senator Pulsford will bear me out that that was the contention in 1901, when this legislation was before the Commonwealth Parliament.
– But there is emigration from Japan in spite of the law.
– The honorable senator is quite right, but that was the contention put forward. Iri the London Standard, of the 25th October last, there is an account, by the special correspondent of that newspaper, of a long interview with Viscount Hayashi, the Japanese representative in London. From that account, I take the following: -
He (Viscount Hayashi) suggested that Australia never had been in danger of an influx of Japanese immigrants. An Act was passed in Japan in 1896 and amended in 1901 for the regulation and control of Japanese emigration, and for the protection of Japanese emigrants. Under this Act it was provided that no Japanese might go abroad without first applying to the Government, in writing, for permission to do «o. His application had to be accompanied by a guarantee for the good conduct of the emigrant while abroad. So Australia really had nothing to fear, and Viscount Hayashi plainly indicated that she had nothing to fear now.
– California is being flooded with Japanese.
– Viscount Hayashi said most clearly that in return for legislation putting the Japanese on the same basis as European nations, the Japanese Government would legislate in such a way that no Japanese could come to Australia. That is what the Japanese wanted in 1901, and what thev want now; and so far as we have evidence, the Japanese will be satisfied with nothing less. In the course of the interview, Viscount Hayashi went on to discuss the Australian Act, and the eduction test, and the report proceeded as follows: -
I asked Viscount Hayashi if he had had any reports concerning individual cases of attempts by Japanese emigrants to enter Australia o’n the basis of the present education test. The Viscount was not willing to discuss the point, but I gathered from a casual remark that Consular reports were to the effect that whether individual natives of Japan were able to pass the education test or not, the restrictions were enforced in such a way as effectively to prohibit the entrance of Japanese into Australia.
That was the Viscount’s grievance.
– He does not say that it was his grievance.
– He did say it was his grievance - but I cannot read the whole of the interview. His grievance was that the education test was so applied as to absolutely prohibit the entrance of the most educated Japanese into Australia.
– That was bare assertion.
– The question we have to ask ourselves is whether the amending Bill is intended to facilitate the entrance of Japanese into Australia- is intended to remove that grievance in a bona fide way, We know perfectly well that it is not ; and, therefore, I maintain that it is not bare assertion to say that the Japanese will not be satisfied.
– The honorable senator has just said that the Japanese do not leave their country, and, if that be so, why the desire to be free to enter Australia ?
– That is not argument.
– The honorable senator’s argument is that the Japanese do not want to leave Japan.
-What I say is that it is a question of satisfying the Japanese Government, and the extracts I have read clearly show that the amendments proposed by the Government will not in any, sense give satisfaction. The London Times’ comment on the situation, as published on the 24th October last, is as follows : -
As Mr. Deakin suggested in his reply to the Japanese Government three days ago, there is room for a general resentment of the form in which these restrictions are cast. The growth of Imperial unity must be based on compromise, not on verbal subterfuge.
What the people in England were evidently led to suppose was that a bond fide amendment of the Act was to be proposed by Mr. Deakin, and not that there would be introduced what Senator Playford has admitted to be a mere verbal subterfuge. I again submit that the clause does not achieve the only object by which the Minister of Defence attempts to justify it.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH (Western Australia). - I hope the amendment proposed by Senator Stewart will not be carried.- If I thought for a moment that the clause, as it stands, would not be quite as effective as the section in the original Act, I should not support it on any account. But, as has been pointed out, the sub-clause immediately following that under consideration clearly places it in the power of Parliament to prohibit any language test that both Houses do not approve ; and that leaves us in exactly our present position. Without the consent of both Houses, it is impossible for any Ministry to alter the present education test ; and I do not think that either House would agree to any change. In legislation of this kind, and in all legislation, I always place the interests of the Commonwealth first. But when an amendment is proposed, which I db not think in any way jeopardizes the interest of Australia, I deem it well to consider how far it meets with the wishes and desires of Great Britain. I am sure that ‘it is not the wish of any honorable senator to unnecessarily embarrass the mother country in her world-wide responsibilities. We have been told by an honorable senator that unless we say directly what we want, we are cowards. I venture to think, however, that if we are unable to protect ourselves from the very Powers affected by our laws, but are content to leave our suzerain Power to bear the brunt of any dissatisfaction, there is no element of bravery or courage in our conduct; on the contrary-,, we show, in my opinion, a mean spirit if we create difficulties for the mother country, while obtaining no benefit whatever for ourselves. Great Britain has entered ‘ into an alliance with Japan; and although, as I elicited from the Government, there has been no direct communication expressing any desire on the part of Japan for an alteration in the present law, we know from official documents that Japan desires to be ranked amongst the’ great Powers of the world. The proposal of the Government is to strike out the word “European,” in order to meet the views of the Japanese people, and, though these regulations do not go forth to the world, our Statutes are published, and the Japanese people do not wish to see any distinction laid down in connexion with eligibility to enter the Commonwealth.
– In a few years’ time we may have the Chinese making similar representations.
– The same remarks apply equally to Chinese and Hindoos. As I said before, no alteration in the present system can be made without the consent of both Houses, and I am sure . that neither House will allow undesirable immigrants to be examined in their own languages. Some honorable senators are voting against the clause, not because they are solicitous for an absolutely White Australia., but because they wish to see the whole Bill dropped.
– Only a few.
– But there are some honorable senators who voted against the second reading because they did not desire the Bill to become an Act. Those honorable senators are not extremely favorable to a White Australia; and we ought to remember that they oppose the Bill because it will be more stringent than the present Act. Senator Pearce pointed out the great advantages of the Bill if we desire to effectively keep out coloured people.
– Senator Pearce contended that the Bill would stop some small gaps; but what is the use of stopping small gaps if we at the same time create a wide gap?
– No alteration can be made until it has been approved by both Houses of Parliament. The Japanese Government has stated that they do not desire the people of that country to leave it, but we know that many of the Japanese do desire to leave Japan, and that they are to be found scattered throughout the Pacific and the Malay Peninsula. While the Japanese Government recognise our desire to keep out Japanese and other coloured races, and raise no objection to our determination, they ask us to give effect to it in an inoffensive manner, and not to class them generally with Asiatics and Africans. I do not agree with all the eulogies of the
Japanese which we have heard this afternoon, but they are undoubtedly a powerful race, and we know that, so far as official acts are concerned, their desire is that they should not be- placed on a distinct plane from that on which we place the European Powers. We know that they are opposed to the existing Act, because it provides that the test shall be applied in a European language. If we delete the word “European,” and’ substitute for it the word “prescribed,” no alteration in the existing system can bs made by regulation under the Bill, except by the consent of ‘ both Houses of the Parliament, and we shall attain exactly the same result as under the existing law, but in a manner which will not be offensive to the Japanese nation. If we could imagine the possibility of Great Britain ceasing to be a world Power, we should readily enough in such a case accept the amendment proposed in this Bill if we knew that Japan desired it. I do not agree with honorable senators who have said that we should be brave and fearless, and say exactly what we mean in this Bil), because we know that we should not be responsible for any ill-feeling or difficulty that might, as a consequence, be created between Japan and Great Britain, and should not have to suffer the consequences. That is not bravery, but a mere taking advantage of our position to carry legislation which we should not pass if we knew that we would be responsible for the consequences. Although I have had no conversation with Ministers on the subject, I believe that if this clause is altered in the way proposed - and though it is merely a sentimental clause, it is the vital clause of the measure - the Government will practically abandon the Bill. If that be the case, we shall lose the advantage of other provisions of the Bill, which it is desirable we should pass. Senator Pearce pointed out last night what those advantages are. He showed that the responsibilities of owners of ships under this Bill will be so great that it will not pay them to bring coloured people to Australia. Under the existing law, the penalty imposed in such cases may be as low as £$, and if that were all they had to pay for each prohibited immigrant, it would actually pay shipping people to bring coloured immigrants to Australia. That is shown by the fact that under the capitation fees previously charged under the States Acts, these people were sometimes willing to pay as much as £100 to be allowed to come in. A decided advantage proposed by the Bill is to make the police capable of arresting individuals without a warrant. Another valuable provision is that under which the masters and owners of ships may be compelled to take coloured aliens back to the place from which they were brought. Senator Turley said this afternoon that a considerable number of coloured people are being introduced surreptitiously along our northern coast. From my own observations in the northern parts of Australia, I believe that many of these coloured people are being smuggled into the country by the owners of boats trading and fishing along our northern coast.
– The Bill will «do no more to prevent that than does the existing Act.
– I think it will under the powers which are proposed here to be given to the police.
– That is not the subject under discussion at present.
– I was led to refer to these matters, because I believe that if the Government cannot carry this clause in the form they desire, it will possibly mean that we shall lose the whole measure, and so fail to secure the benefit of many of the advantageous provisions it contains. This is the crucial clause of the Bill.
– No, a much more important clause is that enabling arrangements to be made.
– In public criticisms of the Bill, it has been admitted that the important clause is that proposing the omission of the word “ European “ from the principal Act, so as not to offend the susceptibilities of certain coloured .races.
– The Bill proposes to strike it out in one place, and to reaffirm it in another.
– I think it is better that we should use the word “prescribed.” Under this Bill, the regulation prescribing the language in which the test is to be imposed must receive the assent of both Houses of Parliament, and we shall, therefore, retain control of the form of the test, and the language in which it is to be applied. There is, therefore, no danger to our settled policy in passing this clause. If it is not carried, my personal opinion is that we shall lose the other valuable provisions of the Bill.
The effect of this clause is merely to enable Parliament to decide, by approving a regulation, what language shall be used for the test, instead of specially mentioning it in the Act. That being so, I hope that honorable senators will not accept the amendment.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - I have no wish to delay the division upon the amendment, but I should not like the discussion to end without saying that it is very unusual for an honorable senator, who admits that he has no authority for the statement, to say that if a particular amendment is carried, it will mean the loss of the Bill.
– I have a perfect right to express my personal opinion to that effect.
– Certainly ; but it is a little unusual, and the honorable senator must admit that, as the statement is made without authority, it ought not to influence the Committee in any way. Senator Smith has not quite grasped what is proposed by the clause under consideration. The honorable senator has explained that it proposes to delete the word “ European” from the principal Act, and substitute for it the ward “ prescribed,.” in order that we may have some regard to the susceptibilities of the Japanese. If that were so, I should be prepared to agree with the honorable senator, but I point out that the clause does nothing of the kind. In one part of the clause, it is proposed that the word “European” shall be deleted, and the word “prescribed” substituted for ‘it in the principal Act, but in another part of the same clause the use of the word “ European “ is reaffirmed in these words -
Until some language has been prescribed, the languages authorized by the Principal Act -
What are they ? . European languages ? shall be deemed to be prescribed within the meaning of this Act.
That is to say, it is a mere piece of deceit.
– There is no deceit in it. It only says that, until a certain thing is done, the present method shall continue
– My honorable friend knows perfectly well that if he whispers to the Japanese, “We are going to strike out the word “ European “ ; and then whispers to the people of Australia. “ We are going -to keep in the word “European.” it is deceit.
– For a time.
– This is really an attempt on the part of this Parliament to emulate the ostrich. I believe that Senator Stewart is proposing a direct and straightforward method. I am going to support his amendment, because I prefer the di’rect and straightforward way to the indirect and misleading way. If the proposal were to delete “ an European language,” and substitute the Japanese, or any Asiatic language, I could understand it. But the object is, not to delete “ an Euro- ( pean language,” but, by a tortuous form of words, to do exactly what is now being clone. Believing, as I do, that the proper course is to say exactly what we mean, and to let Parliament next year prescribe anything it pleases, by regulation or resolu-» tion, it seems to me that the amendment should be adopted.
Senator DOBSON (Tasmania). - I do not propose to vote for the amendment, because, although the Bill is absolutely insincere, and the Government appear to have changed their mind about it, it is one small step towards the position which some of us hope that the Government will eventually take up, and that ite not to wound further than we can the susceptibilities of the Japanese nation. Suppose that we fell back upon European languages, we should leave in our law the very words of which the Japanese have complained. It is quite true, ais Senator Symon says, that this clause, in one paragraph, takes the word “ European “ out of our law, and in another paragraph puts it back, but still it goes on to say that a language may be prescribed by a regulation which shall be laid upon the table of either House for a period of thirty days. I believe that if the Bill were passed in its present form the Japanese would be more irritated than ever. They would perceive that we had practically acceded to their arguments, and acknowledged that we had not been guided by the comity of nations.. And in view of recent events in the Far East, and the renewal of the Anglo-Japanese treaty, I believe that they would make representations to the British Government with regard to the Bill. It would then be for the Government of the Commonwealth to make up their minds as to what they would do.
– What language does the honorable senator think the Government could prescribe which would satisfy the Japanese?
– Whether the Government would have the courage to prescribe the Japanese language, or to do anything, remains to be seen. But suppose that they had the courage to issue a regulation,; that would be one step towards the assumption of Ministerial responsibility. It would enable what some of us desire to be achieved with greater facility than would be the case if they had to frame a Bill for the Parliament to deal with practically as it pleased. On that ground alone I intend to oppose the amendment. I am not informed as to what might be done in another place if it were inserted ; but in view of the lateness of the session, it is very probable that the Bill would not be returned. I was rather struck by the remark of Senator Playford that, in his belief, the Japanese will be pleased with the measure. How he has come to that belief I do not know. If he had drafted the Bill, and had been conning over its provisions for months, I could have understood the remark, but, as a matter of fact, he has had little or nothing to do with its drafting. Practically it says to the Japanese in one provision, “ We’ admit all that you say, and we are going to alter the law,” but in the next provision it says, “Although we admit all you say, and are pretending to alter the law, we intend to do nothing of the kind, but to keep the test exactly as it was for the present.” Judging from Senator Playford’s attitude when he spoke first, the term “for the present” means for all time, or as long as the Deakin Government are kept in office by the Labour Party. That is the kind of legislation which we are asked to pass to please the Japanese nation !
– I am very sorry for the honorable senator’s support. I am afraid that he will lose me more votes than I thought.
– Evidently the honorable senator wishes the amendment to be carried, and the Bill to be mutilated in favour of the views of the Labour Party ?
– Did not the’ Prime Minister start with the idea of meeting the Japanese nation? Is not the whole object of the Bill to placate that nation?
– Decidedly not. The object of the Bill is to give the Administration greater power to strictly enforce the law.
– Here is more insincerity than ever ! The Bill was introduced with the idea of appeasing the Japanese nation ; but now the Minister has let the cat out of the bag, and admitted that its great object is to make the law more watertight than ever with regard to all those principles of which we approve. I believe that every senator approves of not allowing Japanese workers to come in and compete with our men, simply because they cannot assimilate with our race. I desire to carry out that object in a polite and proper way. I wish Senator Playford to tell ‘me if the Cabinet have considered whether they will include in the prescribed languages the Japanese language,because when the next paragraph is reached, I propose to test their sincerity on this point by moving the insertion of the words, “ and the Japanese language.” If that amendment be not carried, the Japanese will understand as plainly as possible whether the Government are sincere or insincere. In the Senate we have had a great many instances which stamp with insincerity every member of the Ministry in connexion with this matter.
Question - That the word proposed to be left out be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That after the word “ language,” line 10, the words “ or languages,” be inserted.
The Acts Interpretation Act provides that, unless the contrary intention is shown, the singular shall be held to carry the meaning of the plural. In the preceding clause the words “ fifty words in any prescribed language” are used. In this clause we speak of a regulation prescribing any language. It might be held that the intention was that one language only should be prescribed. In case there should be any doubt, it is as well to make it clear that the regulations may provide for more than one language.
Senator Lt.-Col. GOULD (New South Wales). - I wish to direct the attention of the Committee to the whole proviso relating to regulations prescribing the language. The regulations are required to be laid before both Houses ofParliament, in order that Parliament may say whether it approves of them or not. I put it to honorable senators that the whole question as to prescribing the language should be left to the Government, which is responsible to Parliament for its actions. Assume, for the sake of argument, that Ministers were to propose a regulation in which a certain language was prescribed, and that the object was to give certain people an opportunity to come into the country. It would be very inconvenient then to have a debate dealing with the particular question. In the case of treaties between two nations, the treaty is first entered into, and then the subject is reported to Parliament. If the Commonwealth Government were to prescribe the Japanese language, it would probably be after representations had’ been made by the Japanese Government that it was desirable that such a thing shouldtake place. Then there would be a debate in Parliament as to whether persons belonging to that nation should be allowed into the country or not. We should thus probably be getting ourselves into a worse ‘position than would be the case if the whole matter were left to Ministers. Suppose Ministers prescribed a language that was not acceptable to Parliament. Parliament would then have an opportunity of ejecting the Government from office, and of thus bringing about an alteration. This is a matter in which the responsibility ought to be assumed by the Government, who ought not to try to shunt that responsibility on to Parliament.
Amendment agreed to.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia). - I move -
That after the word “ days,” line 12, the following words be inserted : - “ and before or after the expiration of such thirty days both Houses of Parliament, by a resolution of which notice has been given, have agreed to such regulation.”
The effect of this amendment would be that Parliament must approve of any regulation affecting the language. As the Bill stands, either House of Parliament has the power to disapprove. But no action might be taken in either House, through members not being aware that a regulation had been tabled. Very often regulations are not printed unless a specific motion is proposed to that effect. Naturally Ministers are not anxious that their regulations should be opposed. The result might be that honorable senators would not know that a regulation affecting the language test had been tabled. My amendment would make it absolutely certain that both Houses of the Parliament would give their imprimatur to a regulation, and that nothing would be done in a surreptitious manner.
Senator DOBSON (Tasmania).- I do not think any one can say that we are improving in our! methods of legislation. There is no earthly precedent for what Senator Pearce asks us to do. If we are going to give the Government power to frame a regulation which will have the effect of law, what is the use of saying that that regulation shall not take effect until both Houses of Parliament ha.ve passed resolutions to say that it shall do so? I point out the inconsistency of such a course. We ought to make up our minds whether we are going to deal with this matter by regulation or not. If we are going to deal with it by regulation, what is the use of saying that Parliament alone can give a regulation the force of law? It is narrowing down the whole advantage which we are supposed to be giving to the Japanese nation by amending this Bill.
– We are not giving any advantage to (he Japanese.
– What is the use of the Government saying that an advantage is being given to the Japanese, and then accepting such an amendment as this? How insincere the whole procedure is !
Senator Lt.-Col. GOULD (New South Wales). - I understand that Senator Pearce’s object is that the regulations affecting the language test shall not take effect until Parliament has approved. I would sooner leave it to Parliament to disapprove of the regulations if thought desirable. I take the view that the Government is responsible for making regulations ; but I suggest that the amendment should be simplified, so as to say merely that the regulations shall not take effect until approved by Parliament.
– We accept the amendment. We do not object to Parliament taking the responsibility.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland).- When I was speaking on the second reading of the Bill yesterday, the Minister contradicted me when I differed from him as to the meaning of the Bill. He said that the Bill did exactly what Senator Pearce’s amendment now proposes to do.
– I was at the time under the impression that it did so; and therefore I accept the amendment all the more cheerfully.
– It appears that the Government, in addition to deceiving Japan by means of this Bill, does not trouble about deceiving members of the Senate also. The amendment does not amount to much, because we have the same safeguard in the Bill as it stands, except that under the Bill a private member of Parliament, and not the Government, takes the initiative. From my point of view, it really does not matter whether the amendment is passed or not, because a remedy is provided, so long as any member of Parliament can take action against a regulation.
Senator GRAY (New South Wales).- I hope that the Government will stick io the Bill. There may be circumstances in which it would not be wise to raise a debate on such a matter as the alteration of the language test. There might be strained relations between Great Britain and Japan. Under such circumstances, it might be veryunwise for a discussion to take place in Parliament, and we ought, as far as possible, to leave the matter to the Ministry.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Senator Playford) agreed to -
That all the words from “or,” line 12, to “ effect,” line ig, inclusive, be left out.
Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia - Minister of Defence). - I beg to move -
That the following words be left out : - “ Until some language has been prescribed the languages authorized by the Principal Act shall be deemed to be prescribed within the meaning of this Act.”
These words will be unnecessary if honorable senators assist me to insert the following new clause later on : - “ 3A. Until some language has been prescribed under section three of the Principal Act as amended by this Act, any language authorized by section three of the Principal Act before the commencement of this Act shall be deemed to be a prescribed language within the meaning of that section as so amended.”
-Col. GOULD (New South Wales). - We have repealed the only provision of the original Act which prescribed a language test, and we have inserted another in its place ; and yet the clause which the Minister intends to move provides that the language used shall be that authorized by the repealed section.
– Until some other language is prescribed.
-Col. GOULD.- But the Minister must take care that we are not placed in the absurd position of passing a law in which there will be no language test whatever prescribed ; and that will be the result if we say that the language employed shall be that prescribed in a section of the Act which we have repealed. A short time ago we passed an Act providing that amending Acts and original Acts shall be embodied ‘in one ; and, therefore, the section which we have repealed will not appear in the consolidated Act. I might have allowed this to pass, but I take it to be the duty of every honorable senator - even at the risk of being mistaken, to point out any dangers of the kind which he thinks exists.
Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia - Minister of Defence). - The honorable senator is altogether mistaken. The new clause provides that until some language has been prescribed under section 3 of the principal Act, as amended,,, any language authorized by section 3, before the commencement of this Act, shall be deemed to be a prescribed language. The danger to Which the honorable senator refers was foreseen by the draftsman, and is provided against.
Senator MATHESON (Western Australia). - I do not think the position is quite k, obvious as the Minister seems to think. Under the Act we passed a short time ago, paragraph a of section 3 of the principal Act will disappear from the amending Bill as finally printed.
– The new clause refers to paragraph a, as it existed in the Act before the passing of this Bill.
– Will the Court, then, have to dig up the old Act to see what its provisions were?
– According to the new clause, they are directed to do so.
– It is a very simple matter.
– Then I fail to see the object of the Act we passed a little while ago.
– This clause will operate only until a regulation is passed.
– But we have been informed by the Minister that there will be no regulation passed. The only ground on which we are asked to pass the Bill is that it will be inoperative - that is, it is introduced to please Japan. Now that the Minister has got the clause through, he proposes to prescribe ai language under a regulation. We shall be very doubtful as to how far we accept the honorable gentleman’s assurances later on.
Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania). - Senator Playford will agree with me that the new clause which he proposes to insert is an elaborate way of saying, with an apparent attempt to disguise the fact, that until some language has been prescribed in the manner indicated by the amending Bill the language used shall be the language indicated in the old section of the original Act, which, on inquiry and search, is found to be a European language.
– I think that is the position.
– That is the exact result obtained by the draftsmanship. It would be much simpler to say in a straightforward way that, until regulations have been approved by both Houses, the test shall be applied in an European language.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - Senator Playford would seem to be losing his sense of humour, in seeking to introduce a new clause of this kind. It amounts to much the same thing as if it were to provide that, until some language has been prescribed, “ the language to be used is that which is spelled European.” I have no objection to the omission of the remaining words of paragraph a as proposed, but between the passing of that amendment and the amendment to insert the new clause, I ask the Minister to consider whether it would not be much better, instead of using round-about phraseology, to simply provide that the language test shall be applied in an European language. The amendment proposed by Senator Stewart to make a direct provision of the kind was thrown out by a majority of six, and now we have submitted to us this long stream of words.
Senator Lt.-Col. GOULD (New South Wales). - We are asked to place ourselves in the extraordinary position of, after repealing a section of an Act, providing that that section shall remain in force until something else happens. Is that not reducing parliamentary work to a farce ? A man must take up a repealed Act, which is no longer being printed, to find out what is meant, by a measure which we were told was introduced to make the law simple and capable of being clearly understood.
– We can have a marginal note to the new section explaining what the provision of the old Act was.
.- If the Minister is satisfied with this class of legislation, I make him a present of his satisfaction ; but the consequence of it will be that our Statutes will be amongst the most disgraceful ever sent out from any Parliament, and that is saying a great deal. Instead of saying, “ The languages authorized by the principal Act,” we should in this clause honestly say that, until the regulations prescribing the language come into force, the language shall be an European language, as already provided for in the principal Act.
– We do not wish the word “European” to appear in the Bill at all.
.- But it is still intended that we shall use an European language in applying the test.
Amendment agreed to.
Senator MATHESON (Western Australia), - I have an amendment to propose on section 3 of the principal Act, which can be conveniently introduced here after paragraph b of the clause. If honorable senators will refer to paragraph g of section 3 of the principal Act they will find that it is provided that -
Any persons under a contract or agreement to perform manual labour in the Commonwealth - are defined as prohibited immigrants unless they are exempted by the Minister for special skill, or to serve as part of the crew of a vessel engaged in the coasting trade in Australian waters under certain conditions. In a Bill which has been read a first time in the Senate, and which we will shortly discuss, provision is made for striking out paragraph g of section 3 of the principal Act altogether. If that is done there will be nothing in this Bill to make persons coming here under contract “prohibited immigrants.” That, to my mind, is a very grave blot on the Bill. I explained on the second reading thatI hold very strongly the opinion that no person of non-European races should be admitted into the Commonwealth under contract on any terms whatever.
– The proper place for the honorable senator’s amendment is in the Contract Immigrants Bill.
– I propose to insert the amendment in this clause, with a view to deal with the question of the admission of non-European races. Later on, when we come to deal with the Contract Immigrants Hill, I shall propose an amendment in clause 2, adding after the words “ Contract immigrant means an immigrant to Australia “ the words “ of European race or descent.” If these amendments are carried, the effect will be that the Contract Immigrants Bill will be quoted in Europe, where I have no doubt it will be frequently alluded to as aBill applying to European races only. That is my main point. I wish to avoid any allusion whatever in this Bill to non-European races. If non-European races are included in the Contract Immigrants Bill it will be just as much a fraud and a subterfuge as is the Bill with which we are now dealing, and the statement will be made in England that we have deliberately opened up Australia to contract labour of non-European races. We know that that is not our intention, and that the language test provided in this Bill will be used to prevent the entry of any persons of European race under contract. It will be impossible to explain that in Europe, and if the amendments I propose are not agreed to the Contract Immigrants Bill will be held up as a justification for the Transvaal Chinese Labour Bill. The statement will be made, and very properly made, that we in Australia have passed a Bill which authorizes the entry of Chinese, Japanese, and persons of other coloured races on more easy terms than those on which the Chinese are admitted into the Transvaal. I move -
That the following words be inserted after paragraphb : - “ (b a) By omitting paragraph (g) of section 3 of the Principal Act, and inserting in lieu thereof - ‘ (g) Any persons of nonEuropean race or descent under a contract or agreement to perform manual labour within the Commonwealth.’ “
That will provide an absolute prohibition. There will be no question, of a language test, and no question as to skill as provided for in paragraph g of section 3 of the existing Act; and it will be evident to the whole world that “ whatever our views may be as to the admission of free immigrants, we are determined that no gangs of Asiatics or Africans shall be introduced into Australia under contract, under any terms whatever. There will be no dissimilation or subterfuge about that ; it will “be an absolute statement of our real intention. It will probably be said that my amendment will revive the racial distinction which Senator Playford is so anxious to avoid.
– Are any of these people of non-European races allowed to come into the Commonwealth under contract now ?
– No, and never will be.
– They are prohibited now under the language test; but the Minister has it in his power by neglecting to apply the language test, to exempt any contract labourers desiring to enter Australia. I admit that it is obvious that he would apply the language test under the subterfuge Act. If it is urged that my amendment will perpetuate the objection to racial distinction I claim that we have an extremely good precedent for making the distinction! in £His way. I have in my hand an Ordinancemade law in the Transvaal on the nth February, 1904. It is the Act which the Conservative Government in England have taken very great credit for, and to which they gave their entire approbation and approval. I direct the attention of honorable senators to the definition of the term “labourer “ in this Ordinance. It is - a male person belonging to a non-European race. These persons are admitted into the Transvaal only if they sign a certain agreement, which practically makes them slaves. I do not quote this as a justification for what they have done, but as a justification for our use of the term non-European races in a prohibitive sense in dealing with the question of contract labour.
– But the honorable senator has referred to an Act intended to admit, and not to exclude.
– The Act to which I refer only admits the people of these races if they sign the slavery agreement.
– Our legislation is to exclude.
– Ours is legislation not to admit them at all, even -under a slavery agreement. The distinction is that whilst a white labourer can be admitted into the Transvaal under any contract, a non-European labourer is denied admission to the Transvaal, unless he signs the slavery agreement. We propose to go further, and say that we shall not countenance the slavery, flogging, and other enormities perpetrated in the Transvaal, and sooner than do so, we shall not admit these people under contract at all. We are prepared to shut them out altogether rather than that they should be treated as they are in the Transvaal, where 36,000 or 40,000 of them are herded together in stockades.
– That is the honorable senator’s stock interjection.
– I can quote the Times, in contradiction of the honorable senator’s statement.
– Some 40,000 slaves are at the present moment in the Transvaal shut up in stockades, and liable to be flogged and tortured. I, and those who think with me, say that sooner than have these enormities perpetrated in Australia, we shall shut these people out altogether.
Senator PLAYFORD (South AustraliaMinister of Defence). - Is there any chance that any such enormities as those to which Senator Matheson has referred will ever be perpetrated in Australia? Honorable senators know that there is not. The first objection I take to the amendment is that paragraph g of section 3 of the principal Act read in conjunction with section 11 of that Act deals with contract labour. We have introduced a Bill dealing exclusively with contract labour, which repeals paragraph g of section 3 and section 11 of the principal Act, and substitutes contract labour provisions in their stead. If we are to make any provision in connexion with contract labour of the nature proposed by the honorable senator, the proper place in which to do it is not in this Bill, but in the Bill we have yet to consider dealing with the immigration of contract labour. I need’ not argue the subject further.
– Is there any necessity for the amendment?
– No, there is not.
Senator MATHESON (Western Australia). - The Minister begs the question. The principal Act deals with prohibited immigrants, and I propose that we should continue to have as a prohibited immigrant any person of a non-European race who comes in under contract. The Minister can then go on with his Bill dealing with contract labour, and it will provide for the terms upon which the Government propose that such people should be allowed to enter. That is well and good. But it does not deal, and never can deal, with the position of the man who is not going to lie allowed to come in on any terms. This provision is in the principal Act, and if it is amended as I suggest, it will be absolutely unnecessary in the other Bill to cut it out.
– It is proposed in the other Bill to cut out paragraph g.
– The Minister proposes to cut out .the paragraph which will do away with any prohibited immigrants. It is only by keeping it in so far as any persons of non-European race are concerned that we get prohibition.
– It is really reembodied in the Contract Immigrants Bill sufficiently to keep out these people.
– No. It may be embodied sufficiently for us in Australia, but in England that Bill will be taken and read as. an absolute provision for contract labour, or Asiatic immigrants entering the Commonwealth.
– Oh, no i
– Sooner than see anything of that sort go out, I would vote against the second reading of the Bill as it stands, unless the paragraph in the principal Act is retained, which, as I suggest, will prevent any person of nonEuropean race from coming in under contract. I have been to England recently, and know what the feeling there is. Some honorable senators may not know what it is. They are anxious that that very point should be taken advantage of. Like Senator Pulsford, they are anxious that it should go out and be noised abroad that we are anxious to allow Japanese to come into this country free of restriction.
– That is unfair.
– Senator Pulsford will not say that I am misquoting him when I state that he is anxious - he has told us so repeatedly - that Japanese should be admitted into the country with the same freedom as Europeans.
– But the honorable senator is misquoting me. I have repudiated that suggestion time after time.
– Ali the honorable senator’s efforts have , been in the direction of allowing to the Japanese free admission. He has moved in that direction time after time.
– I have before heard Senator Pulsford make the same denial as he has, just made.
– I certainly understood that that was the attitude of Senator Pulsford.
– No, he has denied that.
– One would certainly gather that impression from the publications which he has distributed broadcast amongst honorable senators. At any rate, if that is not his intention, his action will take some explaining away.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - Undoubtedly, Senator Matheson ‘s amendment is worthy of discussion in the proper place, and at the proper time. But I am exceedingly sorry that in his second speech - no doubt nettled by the unfavorable attitude of the Minister - he should have spoiled his case by making what I think he will be sorry for, a rather unjustifiable attack on unnamed persons - I do not know who they are - who are desirous of getting a handle, or making use of something which is either in, or omitted from this Bill, to disfavour Australia in England. I do not say anything as to his remarks about Senator Pulsford, but I think it would have been very much wiser, if he wished to commend his amendment, not to make that kind of insinuation. I think it was unjust, as I believe he will admit. I quite agree with Senator Playford. The amendment is, as I have said, fairly worthy of consideration, but this is not the place or the time to consider it. I am not at all sure that it would not? come within the rule against making an amendment which is not relevant to the subject-matter of an amending Bill. We have on the file a Bill dealing with contract immigrants, and it is in relation to that Bill that this proposal should be discussed. I rather agree with what Senator Playford said as he was resuming his seat, that from Senator
Matheson’ s point of view there is no necessity for the amendment.
Senator Lt.-Col. GOULD (New South Wales). - I move -
That “ m and “ be left out of paragraph c.
Paragraph m of section 3 of the Act provides for the exemption of - a wife accompanying her’ husband, if he is not a prohibited immigrant, and all children apparently under the age of eighteen years, accompanying their father or mother, if the father or mother is not a- prohibited immigrant.
It has been pointed out that in certain cases Chinamen who have been permitted to leave the Commonwealth have, upon their return, brought back their wives and families. The Minister has said th,t this permission has been abused, but at the same time he says that, in this paragraph, there is a provision which would enable the Government to suspend its operation. Paragraph n exempts - any person who satisfies an officer that he has formerly been domiciled in the Commonwealth, or in any colony which has become a State.
I am quite willing to see that paragraph repealed, because the law has been in force sufficiently long to afford to any persons who have been previously domiciled here an opportunity to return, if they wished. It is most undesirable, however, to have Chinese in the country if we are going to prevent them from having their wives and families with them. We all express a desire to keep our ra:e pure. The best plan to accomplish that object is to allow the Chinese to remain by themselves, and to bring in their wives and families, when they themselves have the right to enter.
– How long would that go on?
.- It could not go on for a great length of time. In the other House the case was cited of a Chinese interpreter who took his wife out of the country, and was not allowed to bring her back on the ground that she herself would have been a prohibited immigrant, and ought not to have permission granted under this provision.
– It would be unfair to do that. I do not know whether the case ever occurred ; but if it did it was a scandal .
– Well, that statement was made in the other House.
– She. could have got her own certificate.
– In a case of that kind it would be very much better that the wife should be permitted to come back with the husband than that she should be kept out and he should be permitted to enter. A man who goes out with a permit is entitled to return.
– The wife would get a certificate too if she went out with her husband. I do not suppose that she did go out with him.
.- I ask the Committee to agree to my amendment on the ground that it would be very much better that these men should have a fair and reasonable opportunity to bring in their own wives, instead of marrying women in this country.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland).-! am opposed to the amendment, because, if it were carried, it might result in our allow ing Chinese to come in wholesale. I know a case where a Chinaman who had lived in Australia for a number of years, and acquired a considerable amount of wealth C property, went back to China in order to bring out the wife and children whom he had left behind him there when he emigrated. On his return he brought back two wives and fifty-seven children, and the black-labour press of Northern Queensland gloried in the return of a Chinaman with his family capabilities, and said that all they wanted were a few men of that type to work their broad areas. I am sorry to have to express my belief that the women he brought out were his wives, and the fifty-seven children were his children.
– Is it not better that they should have wives of their own ra;e than that thev should marry here?
– But whom will their children marry?
– If an European married a Japanese woman, the honorable senator would allow him to enter, but would not allow his wife to come with him ?
– Sir Edwin Arnold married a Japanese lady.
– I have no sympathy to throw away upon an Englishman who has married a Japanese woman. I agree with Herbert Spencer that it is a crime against our race for an Englishman to go in for an admixture of that kind. Senator Gould would be the last man in the world to consent to a member of his family marrying a person of an inferior race. If the amendment were carried, it would enable these coloured aliens to go home and bring out women who were not their wives, and children who were not theirchildren, and we should have no means of disproving their statement. I hope that the amendment will be rejected.
Senator WALKER (New South Wales). - It is well known that many Europeans in India have married half-castes, and come down here with their families. I have known a coffee-planter in Ceylon to come down with his half-caste wife.
– For years we have refused to administer paragraph m of section 3 of the Act; therefore we want to repeal it.
– Does Senator Givens mean to say that, if a man like the late Sir Edwin Arnold, the author of that wonderful work called The Light of Asia, who married an educated Japanese lady, were to come here with a Japanese wife he would be allowed to enter, but she would not?
– Under the administration of the Act, we should allow his wife to come in.
– I am very glad to hear that.
Question - That “ (m) and “ proposed to be left out be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Amendment (by Senator Playford) proposed -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “ 3A. Until some language has been prescribed under section 3 of the Principal Act as amended by this Act, any language authorized by section 3 of the Principal. Act before the commencement of this Act shall be deemed to be a prescribed language within the meaning of that section as so amended.”
– We have already adopted an amendment in which we use the words “language or languages” alternately, and, to bring the proposed new clause into conformity with the Bill as it stands, I intend to propose an amendment. What I suggest is that the words “ some language has been prescribed “ be left out, for the purpose of inserting “ a regulation prescribing any language or languages.” Then, after the words “ by this Act,” I intend to propose that the words “ shall come info force” be inserted. The object is to make the proposed new clause read as follows : -
Until a regulation prescribing any language or languages under section. 3 of the Principal Act as amended by this Act shall come into force any language authorized by section 3 of the Principal Act before the commencement of this Act shall be deemed to be a prescribed language within the meaning of that section as so amended.
I move -
That the words “ some language has been prescribed,” line1, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ a regulation prescribing any language or languages “ ; and that after the words “ this Act,”line 3, the words “ shall come into force,” be inserted.
Amendments of the amendment agreed to. Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - I move -
That the words “ language authorized by section 3 of the Principal Actbefore the commencement of this Act” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ European language.”
This matter has been discussed probably long enough in connexion with the paragraph of clause 3 that has been eliminated. If my amendment is carried, the new clause will read -
Until a regulation prescribing any language or languages under section 3 of the Principal Act as amended by this Act shall come into force, any European language shall be deemed to be a prescribed language within the meaning of that section as so amended.
– There is no doubt that this amendment appears, to be simply a matter of putting what we desire in a better way. But the very object of this
Bill is to get rid of the word “European.” For a temporary purpose it is now proposed to retain that word. It will be regrettable if we do retain it when the object is to substitute a prescribed language for an European language. I accept the position that the Government is bona fide in its intention ultimately to prescribe some language which may or may notbe European.
– Is the Government likely to prescribe Japanese?
– I shall be prepared to criticise the regulation when it is brought before the Senate. In the meantime, the original Act is to remain in force, so far as the use of an European language is concerned. The ultimate object and design of the Bill is to omit the provision with regard to the European language, and to permit a language to be prescribed by regulation. The European language has to remain only temporarily, for not longer, I should imagine, than six, seven, or nine months ; and under the circumstances, I submit that the clause is effective enough in its present form, and consistent with the general tenor of the Bill.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland). - I support the amendment of Senator Symon, because it is a plain, straightforward way of doing what we desire to do. In clause 3 as it stands we adopt a roundabout method and endeavour to hide with a mass of verbiage something which cannot be hidden. Every one knows that the language prescribed in the principal Act is an European language, and why not say so? There is more verbiage and useless redundancy about that clause than about any clause I ever saw, and it is absurd to place such a ridiculous proposal before sensible men. It will only serve to call attention to the fact that we are trying to humbug somebody, and probably humbug ourselves.
SenatorLt.-Col. GOULD (New South Wales). - How many honorable senators believe that the Government will, within six or nine months, bring down regulations prescribing some other language? Those who do believe that, are much more simple than I deemed1 members of Parliament to be. I cannot understand why we are asked to take this roundabout way of expressing our intentions, and the simplest course would be to accept the words suggested by Senator Symon.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out of the amendment be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment of the amendment negatived.
Senator DOBSON (Tasmania). - The object is to get rid of the word “ European “ as far as we can, in order to meet the objections of the Japanese nation ; and I move -
That after the word “ Act,” where last occuring, the words “ and the Japanese language “ be inserted.
The Japanese language will then be side by side with European languages, although the latter are not mentioned. Without the amendment we shall be re-enacting, after hours of squabbling, the very words to which the Japanese nation object. Everybody knows perfectly well that the education test is so administered that even the greatest scholar on earth could not gain admission to Australia if we desired to keep him out. The only objection I have heard to the proposal I now make is that some day there may be in Australia, not only a Minister, but a whole Government, who will fly in the face of the people of the Commonwealth and undo the White Australia policy. I cannot conceive public opinion so changing as to make such an event possible. If my amendment be carried the test will be so administered that an undesirable Japanese will be examined in an European language,and thus excluded. There is no reason why we should not do what the Japanese expect we shall do. and what the Prime Minister, I understand, commenced to do.
Senator PULSFORD (New South Wales). - I earnestly ask Senator Dobson not to press the amendment. Had the honorable senator proposed to add Asiatic languages there would have been some sense in the amendment.
Amendment of the amendment negatived.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Clause 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 (Liability of agents).
Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia - Minister of Defence). - I move -
That the words “ and section 9 of the Principal Act is further amended by inserting after the word ‘ owner ‘ in the proviso the word ‘agent,’ “ be left out.
Owing to clause 10, this portion of clause 5 is not required.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 6 to 11 agreed to.
Clause 12 -
After section 13 of the Principal Act the following sections are inserted : - 13A. The masters owners agents or charterers of a vessel in which a prohibited immigrant or a person other than a person deemed to be prohibited under section 8 of the Principal Act, who becomes a prohibited immigrant comes to the Commonwealth, shall, on being required in writing by any Collector of Customs so to do, without charge to the Commonwealth, provide a passage for the prohibited immigrant to the place whence he came, and shall also be liable to pay to the Commonwealth for the State a fan sum to recoup the State for the cost of keeping and maintaining the prohibited immigrant while awaiting his deportation from Australia.
Amendment (by Senator Playford) agreed to -
That the words “other than a person deemed to be prohibited under section 8 of the Principal Act who” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ who under section 3 or section 5 of this Act.”
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 13 and title agreed to.
– I move -
That the Bill be reconsidered with a view to the insertion of a new clause to follow clause 1.
The object is to provide that the Bill shall come into operation on a day to be fixed by proclamation. It is necessary that time should be given to enable officers throughout the Commonwealth, ship-owners, agents, and others concerned, to become acquainted with the provisions of the Bill before it is brought into operation.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Playford) proposed -
That the following new clause be inserted to follow clause 1 : - “ ia. This Act shall commence on a day to be fixed by proclamation.”
– The new clause which the Minister has moved has in it rather wide possibilities, in view of the fact that legislation that is desirable under this Bill is already, by the wording of the clauses, postponed and its operation delayed. It seems to me that under the proposed new clause there may be further and considerable delay in bringing the measure into operation. We have been told that it is desirable that the officers should have time to prepare for the administration of the Bill, but honorable senators must see that under this clause the Bill may be hung up for many months, and when it is at length proclaimed as in force the operation of clauses 3 and 6, the important clauses of the Bill, may from the nature of their wording be still further hung up for a considerable time, so that the promised legislation for which we have been looking may be delayed indefinitely.
– As was pointed out by the Minister of Defence, in introducing the Bill, and by many other honorable senato rs on both sides, in speaking to the second reading, there are some very important provisions in this Bill, besides those contained in clauses 3 and 6. Provision is made for extending the liability of ship-owners for the maintenance of undesirable immigrants, and it is desirable that owners, agents, and charterers of ships should be informed of this alteration of the law. There are other provisions compelling ship-owners to take back to the ports from which they have brought them undesirable immigrants, in addition to those whom they are already liable to take back. In several ways the liability of ship-owners and charterers is extended, and agents of ship-owners resident outside the Commonwealth are brought under the operation of the law. Again, the police, as well as Customs officers, will be officers under this Bill, and it is desirable that they should be acquainted in the ordinary course with the nature of the duties which will devolve upon them. This cannot be done in a day, and the authorities of the Commonwealth cannot at present estimate what period of time must elapse before all concerned can become acquainted with their duties under this Bill. I can assure honorable senators that there is no intention on the part of the Government to delay the operation of this Bill.
– That is all I desire to know.
– I can give the honorable senator that assurance, but we require the power to bring the measure into operation by proclamation for the reasons I have stated.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Motion (by Senator Playford) agreed to-
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through its remaining stages without delay.
Bill read a third time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
I purpose now only to move the second reading of the Bill. . I shall not take long, and I shall then release honorable senators from their labours until half-past 10 o’clock to-morrow morning. I may say, in the first place, that this measure is not an
Immigration Restriction Act in any shape, but a measure dealing with immigrants who are under restriction; that is to say, men who come to Australia under contracts and restrictions of that sort. We do not by our laws exclude any desirable immigrant who comes to the Commonwealth free from any contract, unless he is a pauper, or diseased, or for some reason of that kind. We do, however, exclude certain people coming here under contract, and for certain reasons. So far as I know, no one has ever been excluded, or will be, in my opinion, for other than a justifiable cause. We may exclude a European who may be considered an undesirable immigrant, because he is a pauper, who would, if admitted, be an expense to the Commonwealth, or because he is diseased or suffers from some other disability of that kind. It may be said that very few people go to new countries under contract ; but in certain circumstances it is found that they do. Any honorable senator, who has read the history of the United States of America must know that at certain times, when there have been labour troubles in, that country, employers have introduced large numbers of persons in order to carry on their business, and to interfere with the labour in the country. To such an extent has that been carried on that the United States have had to pass laws To deal with the matter, and I believe I am correct in saying that at present no man can enter the United States under contract. I understand that they are now proposing to vary that legislation, in order to permit the entry of persons under conditions somewhat similar to those which we propose here. There are two provisions in the existing Immigration Restriction Act dealing with the entry of persons into the Commonwealth under contract. The first is to be found in paragraph g of section 3 of the Act under which it is provided that the term “prohibited immigrants “ shall include -
Persons who come here under contract are excluded, unless they are approved by the Minister to have special skill required in Australia, or to be part of a crew of a vessel. SectionII of the Act says -
No contract or agreement made with persons without the Commonwealth for such persons to perform manual labour within the Commonwealth whereby such persons become prohibited immigrants within the meaning of paragraph g of section 3 shall be enforceable or have any effect.
If men come out under contract, and are not approved by the Minister under paragraph g of clause 3, the contract is not enforceable. These are the only two provisions on the subject that we have in the principal Act. It will be recollected that soon after it came into operation we had some trouble. I was not in the Government when the case known as the “Six Hatters” occurred, but I know that a great deal more was made of it than was necessary or justifiable. The Government of the day were in no way responsible for what was then done. The six hatters could not have been allowed to enter under contract, unless the approval of the Minister had been obtained, and it could only be obtained in the case of workmen exempted by him for special skill required in Australia. All that he could do when the men admitted that they had come out under contract was to say, “ You cannot land, because you are prohibited immigrants, and the man with whom you have contracted will have to supply information which will justify me in exempting you under the provisions of section 3.” When the employer was able to give the information to the Minister - I have all the facts of the case here - of course, they were allowed to land, and there was no further trouble. It is now proposed to alter the Act in that regard. If honorable senators will refer to the Bill which has come from the other House, they will see in what directions it is proposed to vary its provisions. In the first place there is a definition of “contract immigrants,” “employer.” and “ the Minister.” It defines the Minister to mean -
The Minister for External Affairs and any officer authorized by him.
Clause 4 says -
Every contract immigrant, unless otherwise prohibited by law, may land in the Commonwealth i f the contract is in writing, and is made by or on behalf of some person named in the contract and resident in Australia, and its terms are approved by the Minister.
The Minister or some person authorized by him has to approve of the terms of the contract which is entered into by persons residing in Europe or the mother country.
– But does the Minister think that we want a Bill to provide for contract labour to enter the Commonwealth ?
– I do; otherwise I should not be moving the second reading of this Bill. It is an improvement upon the present Act, because it makes it perfectly clear to persons who may want to bring out men under contract exactly what steps they will have to take to accomplish their object, and what provisions will prevent them from accomplishing their object, unless they comply with other provisions.
– Will the Minister bring in a Bill to deal with the unemployed after this one is disposed of?
– No ; the question of the unemployed doss not arise in this connexion, because although we may have a few unemployed in the country - sometimes a great many more than we like to see - still, I do not think that any one can say that fresh blood is not required I think that we ought to introduce immigrants, but at the same time I do not think it would be wise to bring them in at a time of depression - when we perhaps had undergone a severe drought,and every kind of employment was scarce. The Bill contains a provision to prevent their introduction at any time when the Minister may think fit. He has only to give notice, and he can stop the introduction of any persons under contract during a period of that sort. The Minister can only approve of a contract under certain conditions. The first condition is -
When a copy is filed with him, and if he so requires is verified by oath.
- Col. Gould. - Is it intended that a contract shall be sent to England to be executed there, and be returned for the Minister’s approval, or will it be sufficient if the terms are submitted to him in the first instance, and he approves of them?
– That is a. question of administration into which I have not gone. But I believe that the in telligent course which will be adopted will be to have in London an authorized officer - perhaps the High Commissioner, when he is appointed - who will receive from the
Minister unmistakable instructions as to what he should approve of. Of course he would have to obey the conditions imposed by the law, and the Minister could always put himself in instant communication with him by cablegram, so that no difficulty could arise. It would be absurd to suppose that a contract entered into in London with certain artisans would have to be sent out to Australia, to be approved, and returned to England. That is a kind of circumlocution which I do not think would work, or is intended. Of course I am speaking for myself, for I really do not know what the Minister intends to do in the circumstances. I should certainly think that some such course as I have suggested would be adopted. The second condition under which the Minister can approve of the terms of the contract is, if in his opinion -
That is clear enough. In the next paragraph of sub-clause 2 there are words which were inserted at the instance of Mr. Dugald Thomson, but which I intend to ask the Committee to place, with a slight variation, at the end. It reads -
What I propose to do is to make the paragraph read in this way -
What paragraph b means is that if, in the opinion of the Minister, there is a difficulty in an employer obtaining in the Commonwealth a worker of at least equal skill and ability, then it shall not apply if the contract immigrant is a British subject. So far as British subjects are concerned, there will be no special difficulty in obtaining men under contract. This provision will not apply to continental people, but solely to our fellow-countrymen. It is one to which I think we might very well agree. Under ordinary circumstances, it will not interfere with any one. At a particular time there may be a dearth of employment, not very great, perhaps, and it will be possible for an employer who wants a few men to bring them out under contract. It may be taken for granted that he will not bring out men under contract if there is a plentiful supply of the labour which he requires available. It would be foolish for a man to go to the expense and trouble of entering into a contract with persons at the other end of the world, and bring them out, when he could obtain plenty of labour in his own immediate neighbourhood. It would only be done under special circumstances. Therefore, we say to people of our kith and kin, “You can come out to Australia under contract, even though in your own trade or calling there may be a number of men here who cannot find employment. We are not going to prevent you from coming out on that simple ground alone. But you cannot come out if a contract is made in contemplation of or with a view to affecting an industrial dispute. You must not come out when there is a strike or lock-out - when there is strife between employer and employed - for the purpose of possibly lowering wages.” Again, they must not come out if, in the Minister’s opinion -
Our own countrymen cannot come out unless they come under conditions similar to those enjoyed by people of the same class in the Commonwealth. Then, subclause 3 says that the Minister shall approve the terms of the contract only - if, where the approval is sought after the contract is made, the contract contains a copy of this and the immediately preceding section and is expressed to be made subject thereto ;
Before the man lands in the Commonwealth, a copy of the contract must be furnished to the Minister. This is done in order to make quite sure that contract immigrants shall not be allowed to come in, not merely when there is an industrial dispute, but even when there is the probability of an industrial dispute. We stop them from coming in, except in the case of British subjects, if there is a difficulty in the employers obtaining in the Commonwealth persons of at least equal skill and ability. We stop all from coming in if the remuneration and other terms and conditions of employment are not as advantageous to the contract immigrant as those current for similar workers here. Then it is provided that a copy of the contract must be submitted to the Minister for his approval. There are penalties attached to an infraction of the law. Clause 6 provides that if before the Minister - and that term includes any one authorized by him - approves the terms of the contract, the contract immigrant lands in Australia, it shall be absolutely void, and the contract immigrant shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding £5, and the employer to a penalty not exceeding £50. It is provided that -
The employer shall pay to the immigrant such specified sum of money (not exceeding £50) as the Minister thinks sufficient, either to maintain the immigrant until he can be reasonably expected to find suitable employment, or at the option of the immigrant, to enable him to return to the country whence hecame. The sum, when specified in writing by the Minister, shall be recoverable by the immigrant, or by the Minister for him.
I think that is absolutely fair. A man who is brought out here under contract is not supposed to know the law to the extent that the employer knows it.
– Yet he will be fined . £5.
– He is supposed to know something about the law.
– Suppose an immigrant comes out under contract, and his employer dies before he arrives, will he be allowed to remain here?
– Of course, the contract would be voided by the death of the employer ; but I should imagine that the immigrant would be allowed to remain.
– Suppose he could not pay the £5?
– The employer has to pay him a sum not exceeding £50. If the contract? labourer is fined £5 he will be able to pay the fine out of what he receives from the employer, and still have £45 for himself. But the provision which I have quoted is notto apply where the contract immigrant - only lands temporarily at an intermediate port during his vessel’s voyage to his port of destination,and remains only during the vessel’s stay in port, and rejoins the vessel after she continues her voyage.
Clause 7 provides that any officer under the Immigration Restriction Act. or any Customs officer, may ask an immigrant whether he has come to Australia under a contract or agreement to perform manual labour. In Committee, I desire to amend that clause so as to make it read -
Any officer appointed under the Immigration Restriction Act 1901 or any officer of Customs may ask any immigrant before he lands in the Commonwealth, or within one year after he has entered the Commonwealth, whether he has come to Australia under a contract or agreement to perform manual labour in Australia, and the immigrant shall truly answer the question.
The next clause provides that the two preceding clauses shall not apply to an immigrant under contract to serve as part of the crew of a vessel. It is also provided that the Governor-General may order it to be published in the Gazette that - from and after a date therein specified the immigration of contract immigrants intended to be brought to Australia for and in connexion with or in contemplation of a dispute relating to industrial matters, shall be prohibited.
So that when there is any special strike in progress we have power by Gazette notice to stop any contract immigrant from coming in. In clause 10 we make it clear that this measure is not to abridge the jurisdiction of any industrial tribunal or board, such as the Wages Boards in Victoria or the Arbitration Courts in New South Wales, or to restrict the application of any industrial law of the Commonwealth, or any determination made under any such law. ClauseII provides that the measure is not to apply to domestic servants or personal attendants accompanying their employers to Australia. That is a necessary provision, because there has been trouble on one or two occasions simply through ordinary domestic servants coming into the Commonwealth with their employers, who have consequently been put to unnecessary expense; In one case trouble arose over a servant girl, and in one or two other cases men employed as personal servant’s were affected.This, I think, is a very proper provision. I have” now explained the purpose of this Bill. It is, I think, an improvement upon our present Immigration Restriction Act. It’ makes matters quite clear with regard to workmen whom it is desired to bring out under contract. It enables a person to bring out servants without any trouble, and it makes special provision in favour of our own countrymen, as against foreigners. I commend the Bill to the consideration of honorable senators, and, with these comments, beg to move the second reading.
Debate (on motion by Senator Higgs) adjourned.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
There is no need for any extended remarks in connexion with this Bill, as the subject was before the Senate only a little while ago in another form. A resolution was adopted unanimously under which we undertook to make provision for contributing towards the proposed memorial to the late Queen Victoria. We now make provision by means of this Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages.
Senate adjourned at 10.25 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 13 December 1905, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1905/19051213_senate_2_30/>.