4 March 1904

2nd Parliament · 1st Session

The President took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.

page 134


The President laid upon the table his warrant, nominating Senators de Largie, Dobson, Maefarlane, Sir Josiah Symon, Walker, Lt.-Col. Neild, and Styles, members of the Committee of Disputed Returns and Qualifications.

Warrant read by the Clerk.

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Senator PEARCE:

asked the Vice-Pre sident of the Executive Council, upon notice -

In the contract for Contract Post-offices, where the whale time of the person tendering, or. his employes is required, is there any stipulation for the payment of a minimum wage?

Vice-President of the Executive Council · SOUTH AUSTRALIA · Protectionist

– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows: -

The articles of agreement for Contract Postoffices provide as follows : - “That the contractor will pay, or cause to be paid, to every person not being a member of his or her own family employed in connection with the. services contracted to be performed hereunder, or any of them, such-salary, wages, or remuneration as shall be a reasonable recompense for the services performed by such person, based on the average rate of salary, wages, or remuneration prevailing in the locality adjacent to the place approved as that at which the services hereunder are to be performed, for services of an alalogous kind to persons answering the description of the person or persons employed by the contractor.” It has been decided by the Postmaster-General that the person tendering shall not receive less than per annum, together with quarters, for his services.

Motion (by Senatorpearce) agreed to -

That a return be prepared and laid upon the Table of the Senate, showing - (1) The number of Contract Post-offices in the Commonwealth, showing the number in each State separately. (2) The number of such offices established since January, 1903.

page 135


Senator PLAYFORD laid upon the table the following papers : -

Petriana case.

Asiatics in the Transvaal.

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Debate resumed from 3rd March (vide page 79), on motion by Senator Trenwith -

That the following address be presented to His Excellency the Governor-General : -

ToHisExcellency the Governor-General -

May it please your Excellency,

We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia in Parliament assembled, beg to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.

Western Australia

– I think that the Government are to be commended for very many of the proposals which they have placed in the opening speech. At the same’ time we cannot but regret the indefiniteness of some of their proposals. I hope that the Slates debts will, as has been suggested by honorable senators, pass at an . early date under Federal control, inasmuch as the whole responsibility would still rest on precisely the same people. My hope is that by the concentration of those debts under Federal control we shall give to our nationhood a zest which we do not appear to possess at the present moment. I regret the indefiniteness which surrounds paragraph 4 of the opening speech. The Government have made the settlement of a matter which must appeal to all as being worthy of the deepest human consideration, contingent upon an indefinite state of affairs, namely, the re-adjustment of Federal and States finances. I refer to the adoption of some uniform system of old-age pensions. I hold that there ought to be no indefinite ness about this great matter of human concern. No higher aim could be pursued by any of us than to attempt to provide for our aged, infirm, and worn-out people. Surely history has already given us facts in abundance to satisfy us that in Australia the day has arrived when the determination of this matter should be made contingent, not upon a re-adjustment of Federal and States finances, but upon a definite proposal to impose a system of direct taxation to provide the necessaryfunds. The Nineteenth Century for the month of December contains a very interesting article by Miss Sellars, in which she gives practical details of the operation of the poor institutions in England. We glory in our English traditions, but when we come to deal with the question of the agsd poor we are confronted with an indictment the contemplation of which ought to make Britishers blush with shame. We find that ihose institutions - unquestionably founded on what may be termed our highest Christian notions - are simply degrading our worn-out people, instead of enabling them to live out their few remaining days in solace and comfort. In her article, Miss Sellars, in very clear language, draws a picture which must make all Englishmen feel that we have something very serious to answer for. In these institutions, which I contend ought to have been carried on for the comfort of the aged people, the infirm and the lunatic are huddled up together. As many as thirteen and fourteen persons, we are told by this writer, are placed in one room, and nurses are not to be found from morning till night. To prevent the possibility of an indictment of this character finding a place in Australian, history, we ought at once to adopt some scheme by which we can “adequately provide for the maintenance in reasonable comfort of our old people in their declining days. If we are to do that, and to immediately, we must impose direct taxation. In advocating direct taxation, I recognise that the class who would contribute most largely are those who have reaped the greatest amount of fruits from the labours of our worn out workers. The statement must appeal to the humanity of every one of us that this proposal for old-age pensions is one that should not be surrounded with any halo of indefiniteness, but one that should be marked as embodying a great principle, our object being to prevent eventualities arising in our midst, which we know prevail in every largely-populated country, and which will inevitably prevail here, unless wise provision is made to prevent it. The matter of preferential trade, which is mentioned in the speech, is one as to which, I think, the absence of definiteness may be commendable. It is commendable, inasmuch as we are assured by English people that the whole question remains in a state of indefiniteness at present. We learn from statements made in the British Parliament quite recently that preferential trade is only being got ready for discussion by the people. I agree with the honorable senator who made the remark yesterday that it is not yet a question of practical politics in Australia. When it has become such a question, we may be able to afford to take up the time of the country iri discussing it. At the present moment we have no. such thought. I listened very carefully to the speech of the mover of the Address in Reply, and waited anxiously to hear any definite propositions which he might probably make on behalf of the Government. But having surrounded it by a considerable amount of confused argument - as I think it fair to say that he did - he allowed the matter suddenly to drop into the background without any attempt logically to clear up his position. Neither in the Governor-General’s Speech nor in the speech of the mover of the Address in Reply was there any indication of an evident intent to bring about a discussion on the subject. I have no doubt that, during the course of the debate, further views will be expressed. But the Government have omitted - and I think intentionally, omitted - to leave room for a discussion on fiscalism, and for this we may highly commend their good sense. It is safe to say that we can utilize our time to much better advantage by executing the practical commissions that have been intrusted to us, rather than by opening up a discussion which, after all, would only lead to this end : namely, that a senator on the Government side of the “Senate would give us figures and facts to prove conclusively that three and two make five, whilst, on the other side, Senator Pulsford would be equally certain that four and three make seven. But, inasmuch as those facts are clearly demonstrated in our educational curriculum, we may very well, for the time being, leave them in the hands of the statistical authorities, and proceed to matters that would appear to be of anxious interest to the welfare of Australia. In paragraph seven- the hope is expressed that some effective means will be devised to secure desirable European immigration. That subject has been dealt with by several speakers, and it has been made a . pretext for raising opposition to the principle of a white Australia. While listening to some of the remarks made upon the question I was more firmly convinced than ever that the man who seeks ardently to open up the country and to keep it open to all- classes of people is most illogical in the conclusions at which he arrives. I hold that the moment a man begins to advocate the importation into this country of the alien races of the earth he must, logically take up the other stand, that, he will throw open all the social immunities of life in Australia to aliens. Why should we attempt to bring them here for industrial1 exploitation, and then deny to them those civil rights of manhood and womanhood which we recognise to be essential to the welfare of our social system ? The question of immigration must necessarily appear important to every man in Australia. But there are other questions that are equally important - questions in fact which seem to me to lie at the fundamental basis of this subject. There is the matter of the employment of our own people. Whilst people in Australia are clamouring for immigration we have thousands of men who have not a job of work to do and many who have not a crust to satisfy their hunger; whilst, at the same time, work is being done by aliens. That is a consideration which, to me, does lie at the fundamental, basis of the immigration problem. Having cleared the way, having seen to our own satisfaction that every man is comfortably employed, Ave may be more anxious than we are to-day for immigration to Australia. This cry is, I am sorry to say, raised by many people, who, at the same time, contend that the Immigration Restriction’ Act has been the means of preventing white immigration. It ha,s been the means of preventing immigration of a kind, and that should commend it to every sensible man who looks clearly at the position. Presumably the coal owners at Outtrim would join in this cry. They would, no doubt, be very glad if there were 600 or 700 or a 1,000 more working men in Victoria than there are. Thev would have been glad, by a system of contract, to have had deluded people in distant countries brought out here to serve their purpose, whilst working men who are here already remained in enforced idleness, or, as an alternative, were compelled to work under conditions that are unfit either for black or white men. This cry is raised largely by people of that class, simply because they are aware that the men who know the conditions under which they are asked to labour have just reason for resenting them, and for talcing up the attitude which they now assume. If we wish to encourage immigration it should be our aim to make Australian conditions such as will induce suitable persons to come to our shores. We desire such conditions in our industrial life as will insure peace, and there are indications which show that we are aspiring to that end. Why should we be content to sit down, and say that people will not immigrate ,to Australia, when we know that we have locked up the best and almost the whole of our country in such a way that it is absolutely useless for men to come here ? If we desire to induce the immigration of agriculturists, and, taking my cue from one of the honorable senators who has spoken, that is a class of immigration which is to be regarded as very desirable, the first thing we must’ do is to make the lands of our country possible of access to those people when they arrive. This at the present time appears to me to be a question the termination ‘of which’ rests with the States and not with the Federal Parliament. We must recognise that in all of the States there are landed properties which are absolutely locked up, so that they are useless to the States in which they are situated, and . to the people of those States. If adequate inducements to close settlement were given, the result which has followed such a policy in New Zealand would ensue just as surely in every State of the Commonwealth, and this cry for immigration would soon pass away. “ If the cry is to be kept up with the object of stocking the country with unemployed people, who will have to sleep in our domains and under our balconies, it shall never have any support of mine. So long as we endeavour to bring people to our country to live under conditions tolerable to the race of which we are scions’, I shall be prepared to assist in every possible way in giving encouragement to such a policy. I desire now to refer to a matter which will disclose some of the reasons why immigrants are not attracted here as fully and freely as we could desire. I refer to the question of compulsory arbitration. When the compulsory side of this question was raised yesterday we found some advocates of the voluntary system asking the reason why English trades unionists were not unanimous, or even in a majority in support of the compulsory system. I do not propose to give all the reasons which might be logically placed before the Senate for the attitude of English trades unionists upon the question up to ‘ the present moment ; but the day is very fast approaching when the large majority even in England will favour the establishment of compulsory arbitration. The history of the Trades Union Congresses, which have been held from time to time during the last ten years, proves very clearly the gradual but certain growth of this principle. It proves that the scarcely discernible minority in support of it ten years ago has now reached such proportions that it can scarcely be properly described as a minority. When we come to compare the conditions which have prevailed in our own land, we shall discover some of the reasons why the workers here and at home have not all risen to the same platform at the same time. We find that for the last thirty years a system of voluntary arbitration has been practised in England, and in the very large centres of her industrial life this voluntary system has worked almost as well as a compulsory system. In the north of England, there are 156,000 working men engaged in one industry, and for over thirty years those men have been working under a system of voluntary arbitration carried out upon a basis which has proved very satisfactory to employer and employed What has been the basis? It has been the establishment of joint committees who have met from time to time, annually at least, and have adjusted prices in . the industry in accordance with the existing condition of things. These adjustments, mark you, have been arrived at by workmen talking across a table to their employers. That is a point that I want to emphasize. I do not say that they have been talking over a table to the representatives of syndicates and combines, such as we in Australia have had to deal with chiefly. They’ have been face to face with their individual employers in adjusting prices^ This has been going on for years, until in the evolution of industry, the forces which have been at work in Australia are beginning to have effect in England, and her industries are now becoming the property of combines and trusts. Just as the combines and trusts have superseded the individual employer of whom I have been speaking, so have the desire and the necessity for a compulsory system of arbitration for the settlement of industrial disputes shown themselves, to the working people of England. Just as a change is taking place in England in the system of conducting industry, so ‘the other change in the evolutionary process is moving upward and onward to be ultimately inscribed upon the statute-books of that country. We in Australia have asked, and do ask, that Parliament shall endeavour to make our industrial conditions absolutely peaceful and free from the rancour which arises from strikes and lock-outs with large sections of the population left in semistarvation for months and months. For an example, I need only point to the condition of things which now obtain in a part of Victoria. We desire the establishment of a system which will prevent the employer from enforcing idleness upon his employes for thirteen or fourteen months in an attempt to starve them into submitting to conditions which are repulsive and repugnant to the very nature of men. We desire to establish an industrial system which will enable the whole of the people of this great country to live and prosper. We desire such a system as will be stable, and will show to the world that whatever else there may be in Australia, there is peace prevailing in her industrial life which keeps her trade and her commerce in one continuous strain from year to year. These are the conditions which usually entice the working man to a country. When I say the “ working man,” I recognise that the prosperity of Australia, and the making of Australia has depended upon her workmen, just as has the prosperity of every other country.

Senator Walker:

– The honorable senator does not object to some capital coming in?


– I have no objection to any amount of. capital coming in. I only wish I could get a little of it. I know the men who have made Australia what it is. We can find them if we choose. I met some of them during my election campaign. I had the experience of addressing a meeting of the old, wornout and aged people of Western Australia, the derelicts of our civilization, and amongst them were many who take rank with the pioneers of Australia, the men who have made this country what it is to-day. These people live there under conditions not so bad probably as those which prevail in English institutions for the relief of. the poor, but under conditions from which we wish to free them. Such legis lation as I have indicated would encourage immigration to Australia, and give rise to a progress and prosperity which we should be able to maintain. I am reminded of a remark made by Senator Mulcahy yesterday. That honorable senator is certainly favorable to some system of industrial arbitration, but I do not think he made it quite clear what system it is that he does favour. He made it plain, however, that in his opinion compulsory arbitration which embraced the public servants of the States would result in grave trouble.

Senator Mulcahy:

– What I said was that such legislation would embarrass the States Governments.


– My reply is that unless the arbitration legislation does comprehend the States servants, the whole country, and not any particular State, will be in danger of being embarrassed. Where is there in Australia any body of employes who could bring the business of the country to a standstill and cause general devastation in so short a time as could the railway servants by concerted action? I am not for one moment suggesting that there is any 1 probability of such a stats of things being brought about, but, for the sake of removing any elements of danger, it is our bounden duty to pass a comprehensive law which will tend to peace and harmony in all industries, including those which are carried on by the States. This question has been discussed very fully, and I do not thing it is necessary for me to deal further with it except to indicate my feelings that this legislation must be of so comprehensive a character as to make for peace and harmony from one end of the Commonwealth to the other. I should like to say a word or two on the question of the Federal Capital site. Honorable senators told us yesterday that the Federal Government would only be performing a duty to New South Wales in making provision for thecreation of a Federal Capital at once; and I quite recognise the validity of that contention. There is a constitutional provision that the Federal Capital shall be in New South Wales, and we should be constitutional renegades of the worst order if we attempted to prevent the fulfilment of an agreement made in broad daylight before the open eyes of Australia. For that reason I shall assist in every way the passing of the necessary legislation; and, I may say here, that I have already fixed upon the site I shall support. I have no desire to make any secret of my opinion, or to hesitate in giving honorable senators my views, but 1 do not want the contention raised by Senator Neild applied to myself. I shall support the Bombala site when the question is brought up, but, as I say, I shall object to the insinuation that in voting for Bombala I am voting for something which will render the Federal Capital an impossibility. I. shall vote for Bombala as an honest man, who knows the country, and, in doing so, I shall be only carrying out a duty to my conscience. When the proposal for a railway to connect Western Australia with the eastern States is submitted, I- trust that the same honesty of purpose will be exhibited by every honorable senator. Although the representatives of Western Australia in the Federal Convention were not so cute as were the representatives of New South Wales. I hope honorable senators will remember the evident and indelible impression fixed in the minds of the former that once they entered into the great Federation of Australia and assisted in the building up of a nation here, all the rights of nationhood would be conceded to them - that Western Australia would not be continually regarded as the goat of sacrifice, but would be brought into the fold of Federalism. Until this transcontinental railway is provided, Federation, for Western Australia, will remain federation in name only ; and the people of that State are only asking for what they are satisfied is a right. No reasonable man today can say that Federation has done anything for Western Australia except call upon that State to make sacrifices. No man can fail to recognise that no benefits whatever have yet been derived, or are likely to be derived, by that State from Federation until she is linked to the eastern States and becomes, what nature designed her to be, part of the great Australian nation. Senator Neild, in his very lengthy address on the Defence Forces of Australia might have assisted Western Australia very materially by urging the necessity for the construction of a transcontinental railway.

Senator McGregor:

Senator Neild was on the “button racket.”


- Senator Neild might have gone further than buttons .and dealt with rails, sleepers, and locomotives, because he must recognise that not even he could successfully operate with the Defence Forces in Australia without such means of communication as I am advocating. There must be discussion on this question in the future, and until that time I shall defer its further consideration. The Government express their intention or desire to amend the Federal Electoral Act, and we may hail that statement with some degree of satisfaction. I trust, however, that we shall seek to amend the Act in such a way as to recognise that all the people of Australia do not live in the large cities. There are -men .who are still opening up the country and still doing pioneer work ; and at the last general election in Western Australia hundreds and thousands of persons, in order to exercise that right which belongs to every man and woman in the country, had to make journeys of 100 or 150 miles on bicycle, horseback, or on foot.

Senator Fraser:

– There is voting by post.


– If such a journey were undertaken by coach it would mean a great cost to an elector.

Senator McGregor:

Senator Fraser said that the franchise may be exercised by post.


– Voting by post presents similar difficulties. Such a journey by coach as I have indicated would occupy an elector at least five days, and as to the arrangements for voting by post, they seem to me to be a parody on electoral law. In order that some men may vote by post, they must travel 100 miles to personally obtain their (rights.

Senator Staniforth Smith:

– That’s the fault of the administration rather than the fault of the Act.


– If it is in the power of the Government to make the administration of the Act more complete, we want to secure that complete administration ‘ as early as possible. The point I wish to emphasize is that a man who wished to vote by post in Western Australia had exactly the same difficulties to contend against as had a man who went to the polling booth to record his vote. In either case he was required to make a journey, perhaps for hundreds of miles, from his place of abode to the postmaster or to the polling booth. Let us have such an amendment of the law as will afford every convenience to the electors to obtain postal voting papers, and to exercise the- suffrage, and then, if people should refuse to vote, it will be because of their apathy in regard to the questions of the day. I am obliged to honorable senators for the patient hearing which I have received. I thank the old members of the Senate who extended to the new members yesterday such a cordial welcome. I recipro-cate the sentiments which they expressed, and I trust that our associations in the chamber will be harmonious; and tend to promote the welfare of this young nation.

Senator FINDLEY:

– Although’ many matters of vital importance to the citizens of the Commonwealth are referred to in the opening speech, there is a reference to one matter which seems to me of immediate importance, and to which I intend to address a few remarks. I refer to the proposal to introduce cheap contract Chinese labour, or, in other words, semislavery, into South Africa. The late war, we are informed, cost ^250,000^000. In that contract 25,000 human beings, including many Australians, were sacrificed. For whom and for what purpose was it undertaken? Was it undertaken for the purpose of extending greater freedom and wider liberties to the white population of South Africa, or’ for the purpose of further enriching a few immensely wealthy mining magnates? Evidently it was undertaken for the latter purpose, judging by the latest developments and the recent utterances of interested mining men in London. I am not altogether surprised at the attempt now being made to introduce the curse of cheap yellow labour into South Africa, for, on the 14th of December, 1899, at a meeting of interested mining men, held at the Cannon Hotel, London, and attended by a number Of prominent citizens of Great Britain, Earl Grey said that after the war had ended Asiatics would be introduced to work the mines, that then negotiations were pending for the purpose of carrying out that project, and that no obstacle would be placed, in their way by the Imperial authorities. In April of last year, a meeting was held in London under the presidency of Lord Harris, who, I understand, is chairman of the Gold Trust, and he gave three reasons why white men should not be employed to work in the mines of the Transvaal. His reasons were,

I first, because white labour was too costly ; secondly, because the introduction of white labour would introduce the trail of the trades union serpent, and, thirdly, because 100,000 Englishmen introduced into the Transvaal to work the mines of the Rand would have political power absolutely in their own hands. And said this gentleman to the meeting -

With all due deference to the 100,000 Englishmen, political power should be vested where the brains were.

Meaning, if he meant anything, that these interested mining magnates have not only a monopoly of the earth of the Rand and its minerals, but also a monopoly of the brains. When hostilities began the services of 100,000 Englishmen were indispensable to the Empire. Their services were sought after, and they fought, not as I understood, but as many persons understood, for the extension of political power. They were good enough to take part in that battle, in which 25,000 men lost their lives, but they are not good enough to be intrusted with political power, because, according to the resolution of Lord Harris, they are too ignorant. I agree with the concluding remarks of the Premier of New Zealand in his recent communication to Mr. Gibson, secretary of the Political Labour League at Cape Town -

I boldly say, however, that whether the Australasian colonies gave little or much to South Africa during the Boer war, that help would not have been given if it had been dreamed that its effect would be to enable white labour to be excluded or penalized while Chinese or other Asiatics are to be introduced or encouraged.

It is probably well known to honorable senators that an agitation against the introduction of Chinese has been carried on in South Africa for a long period by different labour organizations. They deputationized the Government, and received an assurance that if public opinion, as ascertained at public meetings, were found to be against the introduction of Chinese serious consideration would be given to any protest carried at such meetings. After the labour organizations had made definite arrangements in regard to a public meeting held on the Rand quite recently, the mine-owners set to work, some openly and others insidiously, ‘to defeat the objects which the labour organizations had in view. I am in possession of a copy of the South African Guardian of 18th December, and for the information of honorable senators, I shall read an extract describing the tactics which were adopted by the mining magnates in order to down the labour organization, and endeavour to break up their meeting : -

It w’ill be incredible, perhaps, to those who know not the men and the methods of the proAsiatic party, but Johannesburg has been scoured by an agent, and almost every notorious scoundrel available engaged to be at the Wanderers at 6 o’clock, the price paid being 15s. Sandbaggers, men who have been tried for serious crime, down to such lesser lights as pea and thimble mcn, and mere pickpockets, were enrolled as worthy supporters of the pro-Chinese cause. But Johannesburg was evidently regarded as not being able to supply enough of the right sort, and so special trains were engaged by the mine-owners to run from along the East Rand, the mine-owners sending out word that all pro-Chinese employes should be sent in free and with a shift’s pay. Thus did the mine-owners arrange to take a vote of the people at the Wanderers. At 6 o’clock men were streaming down to the Wanderers, the hired gang having been given instructions to force their way to the front, under the platform. At about 7 o’clock the doors were burst in, and the gang took possession of the front of the hall. From then the men streamed in. They packed the side galleries, they climbed the wooden pillars, and peered’ in through ventilation openings in the roof. Thousands could not gain admittance . . In the front were some 400 men, or perhaps less, well drilled as to the purpose for which they had been brought- to break up. the meeting. A mine official led the chorus, designed to prevent the speeches being heard. Standing on a chair, and energetically beating time, he directed the vocal efforts of his coworkers in. the following notable refrain : -

Who are we, who are we?

We are the men who want Chinee.

For about four hours a .perfect pandemonium prevailed, and then a number of the men engaged at 15s. per head left the hall, in order to catch their trains. At that, late hour a meeting, not so largely attended as it’ would have been in different circumstances, was held in denunciation of the proposal to introduce Chinese to work the mines. On the next day there was a sequel to that meeting. According to the South African Guardian, of the same date -

Hundreds of people congregated in front of the building, the crowd stretching right across the road. At the entrance to the room, and standing in the street; were two constables to preserve order in the admission of applicants, one by one, for the 15s., the pay of the night. The doorkeeper stood inside; and, with the door slightly ajar, took the name of each man, and admission was nol granted until an inspection had been made of the register inside, which had been signed the day previously. No secrecy of any kind whatever was observed. Fierce struggles to gain admittance took place. Rushes were made to try and sweep the constables on one side, and men who strove to force their way in were constantly being thrown out into the roadway. The news of the proceedings soon spread through the town, and a crowd gathered to see the fun. Photographers were there taking snapshots, and reporters put in an appearance. Amongst the onlookers, exclamations of surprise at the utter shamelessness of the proceedings were heard on every side, together with hearty condemnation of the tactics of the pro-Chinese party. For over two hours the paying-off process went on, and during most of that time the struggle proceeded round the doorway. So in one of the principal thoroughfares in the centre of the town qf Johannesburg the men were paid, who, the night previously, had done the work of their employers. It is estimated that some 200 were paid, and as the person who undertook the task is not regarded as a principal in the matter, we can only infer from whence came the funds. The whole matter almost baffles comment. The organized obstruction at the meeting, the attempts to rush the platform, the shamelessness of the proceedings of the night eclipsed by those of the succeeding day. And it was for these men that war was made, all its horrors enacted, all its losses sustained. The irony, the tragedy of it, no words can adequately express.

There is no doubt that the position of the white workers is seriously threatened at the present’ time by the action of the. raining magnates. If that action is allowed to go ‘ without serious protest by the people of Australia, and by the Australian national Parliament, which has a perfect right to enter its emphatic protest, further attempts will be made to degrade labour and .to break up the existing trade organizations. I have in my hand a copy of a newspaper .dealing with another aspect of the labour question iri South Africa. It shows the opinions of the same people as are interested in the introduction of Chinese labour. Mr. C. E. Hogg, chairman of the Klerksdorp Gold and Diamond Co., said at a meeting of the shareholders in January of this year -

Skilled labour is grossly and abominably overpaid on the Rand. The great expenditure on white labour in South Africa was a more serious question to the mining world than the unskilled labour problem. Bricklayers could not be obtained at less than £1 per day, and yet on the company’s property skilled white labourers were fed and housed at 30s. per week. Now that the unskilled labour question was practically settled, he hoped the chairmen of mining companies would take into consideration the question of a proper equalization of wage amongst whites.

Before the war bricklayers, I understand, ‘ were getting 18s. per day. . The. cost of living then was 25 per cent, less than it is to-day. Yet there will be an attempt later on to reduce the. wages of all skilled artisans in addition to degrading the white population of the Transvaal. It has been said that the reason why it is proposed to introduce Chinese to work the mines is that those mines will prove unprofitable unless cheap labour is obtained. I have in my possession a list of many of the mines in South Africa, and for the information of honorable senators I will read the names of the companies, with the dividends they pay, from which they will see how very unprofitable they are ! The Angelo Co. last year paid a dividend of 50 per cent. ; the Bonanza Company, 100 per cent ; Crown Deep> 30 per cent.; Crown Reef, 155 per cent.; City and Suburban, 15 per cent. ; Dreitfontein Consolidated, 40 per cent. ; Durban Roodepoort, 75 per cent. ; Ferreria, 187J per cent. ; Ferreria Deep, 10 per cent. ;

Geldenhuis Estate, 60 per cent. ; Geldenhuis Deep, 45 pec cent. ; Ginsberg, 25 per cent. ; Henry Nourse, 100 per cent. ; Jubilee, 50 per cent. ; Langlaagte Estate, 40 per cent. ; Lancaster West, 10 per cent. ; May Consolidated, 32 J per cent. ; Mayer and Charlton, 40 per cent. ; New Primrose, 25 per cent. ; Nigel, 5 per cent. ; Reitfontein, 20 per cent, ; Robinson, 11 per cent. ; Robinson Deep, 25 per cent. ; Roodepoort United, 15 per cent. ; Rose Deep, 22j per cent. ; Simmer and Jack, 5 per cent. ; Treasury, 13’f per cent. ; Village Main Reef, 20 per cent. ; Wemmer, 100 per cent. In addition to these mines, there were 28 other mines which paid by way of dividends all the amount of capital which had been subscribed in connexion with their formation. The -whole of the labour organizations throughout. Australasia are deeply concerned in respect to this question, and I feel sure that other labour representatives in the Senate will echo the sentiments which I have expressed to-day. I trust that every legitimate effort will be made- to prevent the importation of the yellow curse to South Africa. The country will be reduced to a position of perpetual chaos if the efforts of the mining magnates are successful. It will also mean the making of further inroads upon the rights of labour. Not only are the trades organizations united in Australia, but all the trades unions of Great Britain are at one with us. I hope that, the motion which will be submitted to the Senate at a later period of the session will be carried unanimously, and that when it is sent to the proper authorities, it will receive that consideration which the importance of the question demands.

Debate (on motion by Senator Drake) adjourned.

Senate adjourned at 11.50 a.m.

Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 4 March 1904, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.