2nd Parliament · 1st Session
The President- took the chair at . 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive .Council, without notice, if the Government wish to make an explanation of the circumstances under which a statement has appeared in a certain morning newspaper purporting to be an explanation of the principal provisions of the Navigation Bill, which has not yet .been presented to the Senate ?
– No ; I cannot make any explanation. I do hot know how the newspaper got its information on the subject. i Senator Lt. -Col. Gould. - Was the information given by the Government ? ; Senator PLAYFORD.- I did not give it.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
When the State Government of Western Australia dissociated the branches of the Savings Bank at Perth, Fremantle, Kalgoorlie, and Boulder from the post-offices there, did they take over the officers connected therewith; if not, why not?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
The officers connected with the Savings Bank at Perth were taken over by the State Government, but that Government did not take over the officers employed in connexion with the Savings Bank at Fremantle, Kalgoorlie, and Boulder post-offices. No explanation can be given as to the action of the State Government in this respect.
asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council, upon notice -
What steps are the Government taking to facilitate a settlement of the claim of Tasmania to Customs duties collected in Victoria in 1901 on goods consumed in Tasmania?
– The answer to the hororable senator’s question is as follows : -
Writs have been issued in the High Court by the State of Victoria and by the State of Tasmania, and every facility is being given to secure a speedy settlement.
asked the Vice-President’ of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Is it intended to include the question of preferential wharfage rates in a legislative measure this session?
– This matter will be dealt with by the Inter- State Commission Bill.
asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
Section 52. - Importation of Substitutes for Butter.
No oleomargarine, butterine, or any similar substitute for butter shall be imported unless coloured a distinct pink colour by the admixture of a sufficient proportion of alkanet root, nor unless distinctly branded or stamped with its trade name.
asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Is it the intention of the Government to obtain from the surveyors who have been appointed to recommend areas, for a Federal Capital site at
Tumut and Bombala the following information to lay before Parliament : -
The delimitation of an area of 1,000 square miles at each place that they consider most suitable for a Federal Capital site, giving the following information regarding each area : -
Accessibility. (b) Means of Communication. (c) Climate (d) Topography. (e) Water Supply - gravitation or pumping. (f) Drainage.(g) Soil. (h) Building material. (i) Fuel. (j) The estimated cost of resumption of each site by ascertaining from the landholders within those areas the price they ask for their land. (k) An estimate of the Federal expenditure that would be, in their opinion, absolutely necessary during the next ten years for each site if selected?
Will the Government also state whether (in the event of an area of 1,000 square miles being decided upon by Parliament) the Constitution gives them the right to acquire all Crown lands within that area free of cost, and, if not, will they ascertain what the Government of the State of New South Wales is prepared to do regarding those Crown lands outside the100 square mile minimum ?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow: -
Commonwealth of Australia.
Department of Home Affairs. office memorandum.
Subject : - Examination of Federal Capital Sites.
I wish to give the following instructions in regard to the action to be taken for obtaining further information relative to the future Federal Capital site.
The Parliament was unable to decide as to the relative merits of the Tumut site and the Bombala site; but it was clearly stated that in advocating the claims of both these sites, the exact locality upon which the Federal Capital was to be built was hot intended to be decided, and that a further examination would be necessary in order to ascertain the exact position for the Federal City.
In regard to Tumut, the House of Representatives inserted a proviso that the capital city should be within an area not more than 25 miles from Tumut, and should be situated at an elevation of not less than 1,500 feet above the sea.
In order to obtain the information necessary to enable Parliament to further consider the matter, I have suggested to the Prime Minister that a sum of£2,000 should be provided to enable the work to be carried out. So soon as you are notified that this money is available, I wish a communication to be made to the Government of New South Wales, asking them to recommend two experienced surveyors - one with an intimate knowledge of Tumut and its surrounding country, and the other with an intimate knowledge of Bombala, Dalgety, and the country along the Snowy River. Each of these surveyors would require, I should say, two assistants, with a small camp equipment.
In regard to Tumut, only those localities within the 25 mile area which are 1,500 feet and upwards above the sea need be examined.
In regard to Bombala, I would like sites to be examined on the Snowy River; and I am informed that below Dalgety there are several localities deserving of inspection - all of which are considerably more than 1,500 feet above the sea.
In selecting any site upon the Snowy River, care should be taken to examine localities where the river bed is fairly level, so that it might lend itself to long stretches of water, by damming, which would add very greatly to the attractiveness and beauty of a great city.
The plan I suggest for the survey would be - assuming, as I do, that the country has already been triangulated, and that trigonometrical stations are numerous, with ascertained elevations - to make such trigonometrical stations the data for carrying out the work and to fill in numerous heights, either by angles of elevation to the various trigonometrical points, or by observation of the barometer. I think that, by this means, in a very short time, if the work is systematically arranged, the surveyor would be in possession of a sufficient number of fixed points with elevations, to draw in, with reasonable accuracy, the contour lines of the suitable localities examined. As I do not anticipate that there will be many places with qualifications almost equal, I am in hopes that one or two places will be found to stand out prominently as superior to the others; if this be the case, then more attention can be given to those places having, obviously, thebest qualifications.
It will require to be always prominently kept in mind that good drainage will be wanted from the selected site, and when suitable sites have been selected and examined, then attention will have to be given to the nearest point where a great water supply will be available. It may, of course, happen that to obtain a great water supply will mean a large expenditure; but that need not necessarily govern the question, as no doubt, for many years to come, the water supply will be obtainable near at hand, and at a very small cost. Nevertheless, there will have to be no uncertainty as to the position and distance of the great permanent water supply for the future.
The accessibility of the locality will also require to be kept prominently in view, and the practicability of connecting it easily with the existing railway systems. In the case of both Tumut and Bombala, there can be no doubt that easy access by railway to the great cities of Sydney and Melbourne will have to be given full consideration.
There are many other matters connected with the details of the selection of a Federal city, but the more prominent ones I have referred to, and I have no doubt that the experienced officers, who will be recommended to the Department by the Government of New South Wales, will find no difficulty from the foregoing observations in realizing fully the object which I have in view, and will be able to fully understand what is required.
Minister of State for Home Affairs, roth November, 1903.
_ Senator O’KEEFE asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
If there are any objections to laying on the table of the Senate the report of the Committee of Inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the refusal of the Southern Tasmanian troops to attend the inspection by General Hutton on 6th February last; also the recommendations of General Hutton on such report?
Will the Minister for Defence defer his final decision on the matter until such report is tabled ?
This matter, which concerns the discipline of the Forces, is now pending; but there would be no objection to communicating the report and recommendations of the General Officer Commanding to the House in due course.
– I- have to announce that His Excellency the Governor-General will be pleased to receive the President and as many honorable senators as may choose to accompany him, at Government House, at half -past 3 o’clock this afternoon, for the purpose of presenting the Address in Reply; and in accordance with the Standing Orders I beg to move -
That the Address in Reply be presented to His Excellency the Governor-General by the President, and such senators as may desire to accompany him.
I propose that the sitting of the Senate shall be suspended from 10 minutes past 3 o’clock until, say, a quarter to 4 o’clock.
– I wish to ask Senator Playford if he does not consider it advisable that we should adjourn now. Why should we sit here until 10 minutes past 3 ?
– Because we can do some work in the meantime.
– I should think that it is desirable to adjourn now ; but if the honorable senator does not feel inclined to take that course, I have nothing further to say.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Playford) agreed! to -
That at ro minutes past 3 o’clock the sitting of the Senate be suspended until a quarter to 4 o’clock.
Motion (by Senator Playford) proposed -
That Government business, order of the day No. r, be postponed until after the consideration of private business, notice of motion No. 1.
– My objection to our proceeding with business at once is that several honorable senators have not yet arrived. J If important business is to be undertaken within a few minutes it is desirable that all honorable senators who are in Melbourne should be present. I would, therefore, appeal to Senator Playford not to hurry on with ordinary business by postponing Government business, which could occupy, our attention for some time. I would suggest to him the propriety of the Attorney-General’s proceeding with the second reading of the Acts Interpretation Bill. We have all been waiting for some specific business to do. He could move the second reading of that Bill, and then we could present the Address in Reply to the Governor-General. I desire to inform Ministers that several honorable senators who are not present may arrive in the course of a few minutes.
-Col. GOULD (New South Wales). - This discussion shows the inconvenience which arises sometimes from such an intercepting motion as !we have just had. When Senator Playford suggested that the Senate should adjourn from 10 minutes past 3 until a quarter to 4 o’clock it would have been better if we had had a clear understanding from the Government whether they proposed to go on with the second reading of the Acts Interpretation Bill. I join with Senator Dobson in deprecating a change in the order of business. No good reason has been shown for making’ this unnecessary change. I can indorse his statement that there are certain honorable senators who intend to be here at a later hour, and who anticipated that the motion of Senator McGregor relating to the election of a Chairman of Committees would not be reached until about 3 o’clock, or shortly afterwards. Although it makes no difference to me personally, still, I think that we ought to consider the convenience of honorable senators who would naturally conclude that the business would be taken in the order in which it appears on the paper.
– Unless there is extreme urgency.
– In this case no extreme urgency has been shown. I do not know that any member or any large section of the Senate desires to leave the chamber within the next few minutes for the rest of the day. Unless a desire of that kind is expressed I fail to see any reason for making a change in the order of business. It is a pity that so early in the session honorable senators should be given any cause to think that they can place no reliance on the Government. I believe that the phrase of the Government is that they will go “ straight on “ with their business. Therefore, I would appeal to Senator Playford, who I know has no intention to inconvenience any honorable senators, to ask leave to withdraw his motion. I feel quite sure that honorable senators will place no obstacle in his way, or object to the AttorneyGeneral going on with the second reading of the Acts Interpretation Bill, which I understand is not likely to occupy our attention very long. If that course were taken it would satisfy honorable senators that there is no desire to prevent absent senators from recording their vote on a very important question which will arise directly.
– My reason in asking for the postponement of this order of the day is to enable the Senate to deal with the motion of Senator McGregor at a time when a majority of honorable senators are present, rather than to leave its consideration to an uncertain time. If we were to go on with Government business no honorable senator would know when that motion would be likely to be brought on. At the present moment we have a full attendance, but the chances are that it will be much smaller at a later hour. I have taken this course for the purpose of enabling an important question to be decided in as full a Senate as possible, believing that we should get a fuller attendance immediately after the beginning of the sitting than at a later hour. In the circumstances, therefore, I cannot consent to the withdrawal of the motion. It remains with the Senate to decide whether it will support me in taking what I believe to be the right and proper course,
Question put. Ayes Noes
The Senate divided.
– The numbers being equal, the question, passes in the negative.
Question so resolved in the negative;
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second, lime.
– I would suggest to the Attorney-General that it would be convenient to suspend the sitting of the Senate at once, instead of in about twenty minutes.
– It will not take me long to explain the provisions of this very short and simple Bill, but of course it will be open to any honorable senator to move the adjournment of the debate. The object of the Bill is to extend the operation of the Acts Interpretation Act by including certain definitions which are designed for the purpose of shortening future Acts of Parliament. Its provisions can, of course, only apply to future: legislation. Nearly all its clauses have already appeared in other measures ‘ which have been passed by the Senate. Where these clauses have, appeared previously in Bills already passed by the Senate, they have applied only to those Bills. As a consequence, nearly all these provisions have already received the assent of the Senate as applying to certain other matters of legislation. We now propose in order to obviate the necessity of repeating these provisions in all our Bills, to deal with them once for all in this Bill, so that it may be understood when certain expressions occur that they have the meanings it assigns to them. The second clause provides, as I have said, that the Bill is to apply only to legislation passed after the commencement of the Act. Honorable senators will be familiar with the third clause, which was first introduced in the Customs Act. In the Act, instead of stating in a formal manner, after each section, providing for an offence, that the commission of the offence would be followed by certain penalties, we added the word “ Penalty,” and the amount of the penalty, and provided in a section similar to this clause that those words should have that meaning. A similar provision is introduced in this Bill, so that in future in all our legislation, where a penalty is stated at the foot of a section, it will mean that if a person is convicted of an offence stated in the section, he shall be liable to that penalty. The next clause similarly defines what are indictable offences. We have already provided for this in other Acts we have passed, and it is intended here to provide once and for all what shall be regarded as indictable offences. In the following clause we deal in the same way with offences punishable by summary conviction. Clause 6 has reference to pecuniary penalties, and clause 7 provides that where under any Act imprisonment may be awarded for an offence, it may be awarded wilh ‘or without hard labour. Clause 8 may appear somewhat formidable, but it is of exactly the same character.
– It is more than an interpretation. It practically creates an offence.
– No, it does not creats any offence, for the reason that this Bill will not apply to any existing legislation. If we were passing a Bill in the future providing punishment for a certain offence, we should in all probability put in a clause exactly similar to this, providing that aiding and abetting in the commission of the offence should also be considered an offence under the Act: By inserting this clause we avoid the necessity of having to repeatedly enact such a provision in other Bills.
– It says “ the offence” ; not “ any offence.”
– The offence provided for in the particular Act with which we may be dealing.
– That would surely depend upon the original offence, s 2
– Exactly in the same way that all other sections will depend 011 what the original offence is. This is simply to provide that the act of aiding and abetting shall be an offence.
– It is rather a drastic provision to put into an Interpretation Act.
– The honorable and learned senator will find such a section in nearly every Criminal Code. I know that the Criminal Code of Queensland contains such a section.
– I am aware that it is not unusual.
– It is not unusual in a criminal code to provide comprehensively that aiding and abetting in the commission of an offence shall be considered an offence. The next clause is similar, and provides that an attempt to commit an offence shall also be considered an offence punishable, as if the offence had been committed. Clause 10 deals with the meaning to be ascribed to the words “ Justice of the Peace,” “ prescribed,” and “ regulations.” We are quite familiar with these definitions, which have already appeared in Acts passed by this Parliament. We propose to provide in this Bill once and for all that wherever the word “ prescribed “ occurs in a Bill in future it shall mean “ prescribed by the Act or by regulations under the Act,” and that “ regulations “ shall mean “regulations under the Act.” The last clause dealing with regulations is intended to carry out a desire expressed by some honorable senators when we were passing the Rules Publication Act last session, that there should be some general provision as to the conditions under which regulations should be made. I think this clause will meet the wishes of those honorable senators. At the same time it leaves it open to Parliament to at any time make provision for a longer or shorter period within which regulations may be laid before both Houses. This is done by means of the addition of the words “ unless the contrary intention appears.” Under this clause, unless the contrary intention appears, all regulations made under an Act of Parliament must be notified in the Gazette. They will take effect from the date of the notification, or from a later date specified in the regulations,, and they must be laid before both Houses of Parliament within thirty days of the making thereof, or if the Parliament is not then sitting within thirty days after the next meeting of the Parliament. This is a provision we have generally adopted before,, and it has therefore already commended itself to the Senate. What is here proposed was asked for by several honorable senators, including, I remember, Senator Neild, who urged very strongly that we should make a uniform . provision with regard to the method of making regulations under an Act, whatever the subject of the regulations might be. If this clause be agreed to, it will make the method uniform unless the contrary intention appears in the Act under which the regulations are proposed to be made. I have given an explanation of the clauses of this Bill, and if any further information is required it can be given in Committee. At this stage I desire honorable senators to understand the principle pf the Bill. Instead of having to repeat over and over again in every Bill brought forward the same provisions, we include them in a general Interpretation Act, which shall be read in conjunction with all future legislation.
– I agree with the honorable and learned Attorney-General that it is desirable we should frame our legislation in. such a manner that our mode of procedure under our several Acts of Parliament may be uniform wherever practicable. At the same time, it is well, in passing a Bill of this kind, to be perfectly certain that its provisions will be generally acceptable. A very important clause in this Bill is that dealing with the making of regulations. We are all aware that the framing of regulations under an Act of Parliament is one of the most important duties which the Executive have to perform. When we provide that certain regulations may be made by His Excellency the Governor-General, with the advice of the Executive, those regulations have the force of law, and persons are liable to punishment under them. The question has been raised in this Chamber whether regulations ought not to be dealt with in such a way that Parliament will be given an opportunity of saying whether or not they shall be disallowed. Clause n of this Bill provides -
Where an Act confers power to make Regulations, all Regulations made accordingly shall, unless the contrary intention appears - [a) be notified in the Gazette;
take effect ‘ from the date of notification, or from a later date specified in the Regulations ;
be laid before both Houses of the Parliament within thirty days of the making thereof, or, if the Parliament is not then sitting, within thirty days after the next meeting of the Parliament.
When this is done the regulations are to have the same- force and effect as if they had been embodied in an Act of Parliament. In the early days of the life of this Senate we passed provisions dealing with regulations in which we recognised the right of Parliament to say whether the regulations should remain in force or not. This precaution is entirely omitted from this clause. Referring haphazard to Acts already passed, I find that under the Customs Act, which I take to be one of the most important Acts we have passed, after making provision for the publication of regulations made under that Act in the Gazette, and for laying them upon the table of both Houses, we made this further provision -
But if either House of the Parliament passes a resolution at any time within fifteen sitting days after such regulations have been laid before such House disallowing any regulation, such regulation shall thereupon cease to have any effect.
We followed the same course in dealing with the Distillation Act and with the Excise Act, whilst in other cases we did not follow that course. We have now an opportunity of dealing with this matter in a definite way, and of laying down rules which shall always be observed until Parliament sees fit to alter them, and I say that the rule with respect to the making of regulations should be that which we followed in the Customs Act. We should leave the power with either House of the Parliament to disallow any regulation made under an Act on a specific motion expressing disapprobation of it. We should leave it to the Executive to .take further action if they think necessary. We do not desire to have regulations made having the force of law which do not commend themselves to honorable members in both Houses of Parliament. I point out to honorable senators that if the provisions which will be made by regulation were submitted to Parliament in the Act under which they are made, both Houses would have the right to place a veto upon them or to make amendments in them. Under clause n of this Bill it is proposed to place the power of making regulations entirely in the hands of the Executive, without any expressed power on the part of Parliament to interfere with them. I desire to surmount that difficulty. I think that all regulations should be laid upon the table of both Houses, and if within fifteen sitting days thereafter any member of either House thinks any regulation proposed to be undesirable, he should have the power to submit a motion expressing disapprobation and disallowance of that regulation. That would recognise the power of Parliament. (Honorable senators must realize that I take up in this matter the only logical position. No one has a greater desire than I have to preserve the rights and powers of the Executive; but I do not believe in giving the Executive powers which belong rightly to Parliament. I shall, therefore, ask honorable senators to make the alteration I suggest in clause n when we are considering the Bill in Committee. I see no objection to the other clauses of the Bill. I would point out, however, that it is remarkable that the first Bill which we are called upon to deal with in this Parliament should be one affecting the liberty of the subject, and dealing with pains, penalties, and imprisonment.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– Under the Standing Orders I propose now to put the question -
That the President do now leave the chair, and the Senate resolve itself into a Committee of the whole for the consideration of the Bill.
But I shall be prepared to receive an amendment to that question.
Senator Lt.-Col. GOULD (New South Wales). - I move as an amendment -
That the following words be added : - “ And that Senator Dobson do take the chair in the Committee on this Bill for this day.”
I take this action because it cannot prejudice the election of a Chairman of Committees, which is to come on later, and I think it is better that some honorable senator who has’ previously occupied the chair should take the position for the purpose of dealing with this Bill.
– I beg to second the amendment.
Amendment agreed to. Question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee :
Clauses i to 7 agreed to.
Clause 8 -
Whoever aids, abets, counsels, or procures, or by act or omission is in any way directly or indirectly concerned in, the commission of an offence against any Act, shall, unless the contrary intention appears in the Act, be deemed to have committed the offence and be punishable accordingly.
– I would ask the Attorney-General whether this clause is not altogether too drastic? It provides that -
Whoever aids, abets, counsels, or procures.
That is all right, and I do not think any one can object to it. But it goes on to say -
Or by act or omission is in any way directly or indirectly concerned in the commission of an offence against any Act. “ Omission “ is a very negative quantity. I may be passing a man on the road who is levelling a gun at some one with intent to murder him, and, if I omit to take the gun from the fellow, I may, under this clause, be held to be aiding and abetting in the attempted murder.
-Col. Gould. - It does not go quite so far.
– No one knows how far or how near lawyers will go. The clause will be quite wide enough without this word “omission.” I move -
That the words “ or omission “ be left out.
At 3.10 p.m. the sitting was suspended. The President resumed the chair at 3.45 p.m.
– I have to report to the Senate that, accompanied by a number of honorable senators, I this afternoon presented the Address in Reply to the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, when His Excellency was pleased to make the following answer : -
It is with extreme pleasure that I receive from you the Address adopted by the Senate in reply to the speech delivered by me on the occasion of the opening of the first session of the second Commonwealth Parliament.
I trust that the .deliberations of the Senate during the ensuing session will’ be productive of much benefit to the people of the Commonwealth. NORTHCOTE.
In Committee (Consideration resumed) :
– I would point out to Senator Stewart, and to those who agree with him, that the clause is identical with clauses inserted in other Bills providing for the punishment of criminal offences, and that probably similar words will be inserted in Bills in the future. The instance cited by Senator Stewart was rather far-fetched, seeing that this provision would not apply to persons who were standing by, and not concerned in an offence. If, on the other hand, there were a crowd of men, all hostile to another man, and one of the crowd struck a blow, it is certainly not desirable that those standing by, and consenting to the offence, should be held to be blameless. If the amendment were carried, it would be possible for men in , such a position to say that they had nothing whatever to do with the offence, whereas it is desirable that, even if they are only indirectly concerned in it, they should be held guilty. In some cases persons standing by might be more guilty than the offender who struck .the blow. The clause is identical with section 236 of the Customs Act.
– The Customs Act is no criterion to us in dealing with ordinary Bills.-
– That may be admitted. I am merely pointing out that there is a precisely similar provision in certain Acts, .and that it may find a place in future Bills. The section of the Customs Act is as follows : -
Whoever aids, abets, counsels, or procures, or by act or omission is in anyway directly or indirectly concerned in the commission of any offence against this Act shall be deemed to have committed such offence, and shall be punishable accordingly.
A person must be concerned in an offence before he can be deemed guilty.
– No doubt there is some safety in the words “ concerned in.”
– A person must be actually aiding and abetting to come within this provision. There is a precisely similar provision in section 113 of the Patents Act.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 9 and 10 agreed to.
Clause 11 (Regulations).
– It is right that I should refer to the objection raised by Senator Gould, and point out that there is nothing in this Bill to prevent Parliament; in any future legislation, from making whatever provisions are deemed necessary in regard to the power of disallowance, according to the subject-matter of any Bill. A longer or snorter period might be desired. The present Bill provides only that unless the contrary appears, the power to make regulations shall be implied. I notice .that in the Customs Act, and also in other Acts, the power of disapproval by Parliament is provided for; but there are varying conditions. In some cases no such power is allowed, and what we . are trying to obtain is a uniform and constant rule, leaving exceptional cases to be dealt with separately, according to the subject matters of the Bills.
– I quite agree with a great deal that Senator Drake has said, but, after, all, we are seeking after uniformity in legislation. The AttorneyGeneral, having introduced a Bill to that end, now tells us that each future Bill will stand by itself, and that the Senate can make what provision they please in regard to regulations. I take it that there are certain clearly-defined matters on which we can have uniform legislation of this kind, in order that we may not have to repeat a similar provision over and over again. I desire honorable senators to realize that there should be one uniform rule in regard to regulations, so as to do away with the need of questions or discussion on each Bill. Unless an amendment of the kind I have indicated be agreed to, we may be surprised some day by finding that we have no power to deal with regulations, however unjust they may appear, unless, of course, we take the extreme course of passing a vote of censure on the Government.
– A provision can be put into each Bill.
.- But the Government would make the provision in the simplest way, and if honorable senators were not wide awake enough, they might be misled by the assurance that the matter had been provided for in an Act passed years ago, with a view to uniformity of legislation. I, too, want uniformity of legislation, but it must be on lines which recognise the power of each House of Parliament. Regulations are necessary to provide for minor matters which are not important enough to find a place in the clauses of a Bill ; and if Ministers are to be allowed discretion, Parliament should also have discretion in approving or disapproving. The amendment I intend to propose is in the words of the section in the Customs Act. That is an Act under which far-reaching powers are exercised, and by which we give the Executive wide discretion in order to prevent fraud, as far as human ingenuity can - but it affords to Parliament an opportunity of passing a resolution disallowing any regulation. Such a provision would be a safeguard to the public, and inflict no injury whatever.
– It would not be desirable in every case.
.- I cannot conceive of a case in which it would not be desirable. I move-
That the following words be added : - “ But if either House of the Parliament passes a resolution at any time within fifteen sitting days after such regulations have been laid before each House disallowing a regulation, such regulation shall thereupon cease to have effect.”
If neither House desires to interfere a regulation will remain in existence.
– Why limit the period to fifteen days ?
.- There must be some limit, and this was the time fixed under the Customs Act.
– I think that under another Act there is power to review the regulations at any time.
– If action is not taken within the fifteen days the public assume that the regulations meet with the approval of Parliament, and know that they have full force and effect.
– The effect of the amendment would be to make a hard and fast rule, instead of leaving the matter open. Under this clause, if the contrary intention appears, a regulation can be overridden ; and to that extent the amendment is not necessary.
– Unless the amendment be carried there will be discussion about regulations on each Bill.
– That would be only to the extent of determining whether it was desirable that there should be a power of disallowing a regulation to be exercised within a limited time.
– The Bill should provide for the exercise of the power in every case.
– That point might very well be considered in connexion with every Bill. The object of this Bill is not to provide a uniform rule with regard to all matters of legislation, but simply to provide a means of shortening Acts in regard to matters which recur with uniformity in nearly all our legislation. In nearly all our Acts there is a provision in regard to regulations which’ embodies notification in the Gazette , date of notification, and the presentation of the regulations to Parliament.
– What is the object of laying any regulations before Parliament?
– In order that Parliament may be apprised of the fact that the regulations have been made. In nearly all our Acts we have given each House of the Parliament, by resolution, power to disallow a regulation, and probably that will be done in the case of future Bills. The Governmentconsiders that it was not necessary or desirable to include a provision of that kind in this Bill. I do not feel very keenly on the subject, and if the Committee should be strongly of opinion that this amendment should be made, I shall not call for a division.
– The object of this Bill is, as far as practicable, to enact certain general principles which are usually embodied in, each Bill which is presented. It has become a general practice, in order to make a Bill as little cumbrous as possible, to provide for the making of regulations, which, when adopted, have the force of law. The true principle, however, is that the Parliament should make all our laws, and I agree with Senator Gould that each House of this Parliament should have the right of reviewing Executive-made law called regulations. Unless this amendment be made, the object of this Bill will be frustrated, because we shall not be able to secure a uniform treatment of regulations. It would be a wise thing to embody in a general rule the rights of each House of the Parliament with respect to any regulations made under a statute. It might very properly be made a general rule that within a period of sixteen sitting days the members of either House should have the right to take exception to any regulation under an Act. The Attorney-General has pointed out that a provision of that kind might prove irksome, in that some circumstances might occur which might render it desirable to adopt a longer or a shorter period for the exercise of the power. That objection might easily be overcome by the insertion of a special provision in any Bill of an extraordinary character. This amendment would permit of the treatment of any particular Bill in a special way if the Parliament should see fit. As the necessity for that could only arise in exceptional circumstances, it would not be an irksome matter for the Parliament to insert in any such Bill a special provision with regard to the regulations to be made thereunder.
– I have before to-day remarked that government by regulation “ has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished.” On many occasions we have had evidence of powers assumed under regulations which would have been at least disputed . by a considerable number of members in Parliament if the opportunity had been’ afforded. I think it is desirable that the Senate should retain some power over its legislation and the administrative action of the Government. The Post and Telegraph Act, for instance, gives the Government power by regulation to fix the postal rates where there are no contracts. I believe that that simple provision is in the hands of the Government likely to play a very important part in regard to mail business. I think it is desirable to, as far as possible, tie the Government down and to give the Senate an opportunity of dealing with all regulations. I therefore support the amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) proposed -
That Senator Higgs be appointed Chairman of Committees.
– I second the motion.
Motion (by Senator Dobson) proposed -
That Senator Best be appointed Chairman of Committees.
– Is there any other nomination ?
– Before you ask is there any other nomination, I think, sir, that you ought to see that the nomination of Senator Best is seconded.
– The honorable and learned senator is quite right.
– I second the nomination of Senator Best.
– Only two names having been proposed, the Seriate will now proceed to a ballot.
– If I understand the position rightly, sir, and I think I do, these proceedings were originated by a motion. Although the Standing Order provides, and very properly provides, that a ballot shall be taken for the election of a Chairman of Committees, I fail to see how you can decide that a ballot shall be taken in the case of an ordinary motion.
– I can. only interpret the Standing Order in one way. It says -
The Chairman of Committees shall be appointed in a similar manner to the President.
– This is a motion nevertheless.
– There was also a motion to appoint a President. I cannot conceive that the Standing Order has any other meaning.
– I submit that in the case of the election of the President no notice of motion was given. Why was notice of motion given in this case?
– A motion is a motion whether notice is given or not.
– To start with, this motion is clothed with the formality of an ordinary motion. Notice of the motion was properly given, and you, sir, accepted it. I contend that it is quite arguable that having accepted the notice of motion for a certain question to come before the Senate on a certain day the ordinary formalities must be observed.
– I must observe the Standing Order. It is impossible to give any other meaning to the standing order than that which I have given. It says -
The Chairman of Committees shall be appointed in a similar manner to the President.
That means by a ballot. Any one who recollects all the debates on the Standing Orders must know that that was what was meant by the phrase “ a ballot.” My ruling is that a ballot shall now take place.
A ballot having been taken,
– There have been seventeen votes recorded for Senator Higgs, and twelve votes for Senator Best. Twentynine honorable senators have voted, and as seventeen is a majority, Senator Higgs has been appointed Chairman of Committees.
– I beg to thank honorable senators for the honour they have conferred upon me. It is an honour which I venture to hope and believe will be popular in Queensland. I can assure the Senate that no effort will be Spared on my part to fill the position to which I have been elected with credit and strict impartiality. /
– I desire to say that I congratulate Senator Higgs upon his appointment as Chairman of Committees, and at the same time I wish to assure him that it will be a pleasure to me to afford him any little help I can by reason of the experience I acquired in’ the chair. I have, at the same time, to say to honorable senators, and particularly to those who voted for me, that I am grateful for their acknowledgment of my past services. I need only add that I bow with pleasure to the decision of the Senate.
– I move - - That this House emphatically protests against the introduction of Chinese labour into the Transvaal, until a referendum of the white population of that Colony has been ‘taken on the subject or responsible government is granted.
In submitting the motion standing in my name in connexion with the introduction of alien labour into the Transvaal, I may have to reply to the objections of a number of people who declare that it is not a part of the business of the Commonwealth of Australia to interfere with the actions of those residing in another portion of the world over which we have no control.
– Hear, hear; quite right, too.
- Senator Gould’s interjection proves that he is one of those people. Yet it is not such a very long time since the honorable and learned senator, and others of his way of thinking, were howling, not only in Australia, but all over the world, that all portions of the British Empire should rush to the assistance of the mother land. That >vas the idea in their minds then, but today, because many of us think that we have the right not only to interfere with’ the conduct and actions of our brothers and sisters in the British Empire but with those ‘of even our father or mother, whichever term honorable senators may choose to apply to the old country, the persons to whom I have referred form a totally different opinion. When all Australia was in a state of agitation in ‘ connexion with the course of action she should pursue some very few years ago, it was generally held that it was our duty to take sides with the mother country. I am sure that the whole world has acknowledged that the Commonwealth of Australia did so in a very hearty manner, whether her action on that occasion was wise or otherwise. I know that, at the time, I differed from the opinion of Senator Gould and those who believed with him, and it is only now that I am thoroughly convinced that my opinions, and the opinions of those who agreed with me at that time, have been verified. Our predictions have come true. We were led to believe that we were joining in a campaign with the British Army for the purpose of gaining liberty for our fellow countrymen and women in a strange land. That was the opinion expressed by those who were eagerly urging the’ people of Australia to take part in a dispute that was not their own.
– And any one who . expressed a contrary opinion was howled down.
– Those who expressed a contrary opinion were called disloyal, and ungrateful and disobedient children.
– Many of them were.
– Senator Fraser was only one of a band of fanatics, who had no idea of what the results of their actions were going to be.
– The honorable senator would give back the Transvaal to the Boers.
– The honorable senator knows that I am too Scotch to give back anything, once I get hold of it.
– The honorable senator is more Irish than Scotch.
– There was nothing of that kind in my mind, and I am sure there was nothing of that kind in the honorable senator’s mind. But honorable senators must recollect that a certain position has arisen in the world, not only inconnexion with the relationship of nations towards each other, but of all colonies towards their mother land. They must recollect that even in the private family it has at times been found necessary for children - though with regret and with sorrow - to put their parents into a lunatic asylum. That is what Australia ought to have done with her parent, so far as the interference of Australia was concerned in connexion with the affairs of South Africa. But we did take action then. Thousands of men, and hundreds of thousands of pounds in money, were spent for the purpose of carrying out the intentions of the British Government as they were represented to us.
– The honorable senator means misspent.
– Honorable senators can put their own construction upon it. I am not going to say whether they were well spent or misspent ; but the blood of Australia was shed, and the money of Australia was spent.
– For whom?
– For British supremacy.
– For the purpose of enabling the financiers of South Africa, the mine-owners on the Rand, to endeavour to-day to get what some honorable senators here would like to get in Australia, Chinese orother inferior labour to supplant their own white brothers, and to take the bread out of the mouths of their wives and families.
– Honorable senators have expressed themselves in that way. But, seeing that Australia has done this; seeing that there are fathers and mothers in the Commonwealth who mourn the loss of children lying dead in South Africa today ; and seeing that the taxpayers of this country have contributed to the expenses of that war, I say that, to-day, we have a right to protest against the action of the authorities of the Transvaal in their government, or mis-government, of that country:, and of the action of the British Government in backing them up in what they have done in such an unfair way. All that we propose to do is to protest emphatically against the introduction of alien labour into the Transvaal, until such time as a referendum of the white population there is taken, or that country be granted responsible government, so that the people may act upon their own account. Any one who looks into the history of coloured labour as slaves, as bondsmen, or in a state of semislavery, suchas it is proposed to introduce in the Transvaal, must know that it never brought anything but disaster to any country that adopted it.
– The honorable senator should be very careful. Senator Dobson is watching him.
– I know that that honorable and learned senator professes patriotism, but his patriotism is that of the golden calf, his worship is of the scrip, and his assistance is always given to the man who is going to make a lot of money. It does not matter to the honorable and learned senator in what way the money is made - whether it is made with the assistance of his own fellow-countrymen or with the assistance of the natives of Asia, Africa, the South Sea Islands or anywhere else. I do not know whether that arises from a defective judgment or from a perverse inclination, or from the honorable senator’s very bad training. Whatever may be the cause, the fact remains that he is always ready to assist those who are trying to exploit other people. We have only to look back upon the history of the Commonwealth of Australia - leaving aside the experiences of the United States, Great Britain, and the southern portion of the continent of America - to recall the fact that there have been the Frasers, the Dobsons, the Goulds, and other gentlemen of that kind, who for the last fifty years have been continually declaring that the development of our mining industry can never be efficiently carried* out except with the assistance of the Chinese.
– That is untrue as far as I am concerned.
– I was not speaking of the honorable and’ learned senator individually. I might have put Senator Pulsford in the same category, and should still have been speaking the truth.
– Or the McGregors.
– No; those associated with me have always acted in the opposite direction. We were wise enough to bear in mind the precept of the Scripture, that it was not good to take any man into bondage or to associate with heathen race. We have carried out that principle. Statements similar to those now made about (he Transvaal, have been made with regard to the resources of Australia. I am sure that Senator Fraser has in his time declared that the pastoral industry could be carried on more efficiently if pastoralists were only allowed to employ Chinese, Japanese, and coolies as boundary-riders and cooks. Upon my word, I should not be surprised if I were told that on some of his properties Senator Fraser even now employed Chinese cooks making hash for his boundaryriders, and even for his aboriginal native employes. But as I have said before, it has been proved that in Australia, no matter whether the mining is shallow, or in deep sinking, it can be carried out by white labour much more profitably and effectively than by such labour as is to be introduced into the Transvaal. The character of the country and its climate are very similar to the climate and character of Australia. Here we have proved that white labour can do the work. The only part of Australia where mining has been left almost entirely to the Chinese is the Northern Territory. There one meets with the smell of rice and opium and other abominations of that alien race on every hand. But, although some people believe it to be very rich, nothing has been done there in the way of mining except to scratch the surface. My own belief is that mining will never be effectively carried out in the Northern Territory until it is done by white miners. Even upon the Rand mine managers have declared that the white miner - and particularly the Australian miner - is the best man who could be employed in the development of the industry. Some mining managers who have made that declaration have been compelled to resign their positions, on account of it. I have not the least doubt that if Senator Fraser had the power, and if one of his station managers declared that a white man or a white woman could cook better than a Chinese, the honorable senator would give him the sack, or make it so hot for him that he would have to resign. That is what has been done in South Africa, and it would be done in a great many instances in Australia if those holding opposite opinions to myself and my honorable friends had their own way.
– I am surprised that the President does not pull the honorable senator up. His speech is merely a tissue of personal reflections.
– I cannot say that Senator McGregor’s remarks are not relevant to the matter that he is dealing with. Whether they are in good taste or not is a question that has nothing to do with me. The honorable senator is quite in order.
– If Senator Fraser had sat quiet and said nothing, as good little children ought to do, he would not have called attention to himself. But I can assure him that if he, or any of his friends, attempt to interrupt me in a disorderly manner, I shall never ask the President to deal with him. I prefer to deal with them in my own way. But I have no desire to labour this question. I have proved that we have a right to interfere. It can be plainly proved,, and is acknowledged by the greater portion of the people of Australia, that there is no necessity for the introduction of alien or coloured labour, either into Australia or into the. Transvaal, or, in fact, into any other part of the world ; and that the work can be done more efficiently, and with the greater profit to the country as anation, without it. Only recently reports have come from South Africa in connexion with the employment of native labour. The chiefs have told the world that there are any number of natives in. South Africa who can do the work. But agreements were entered into by the mining companies, or labour agents, to pay the kaffirs £3 a month and their feed, and when they went down to the mines these agreements were violated. Very often the kaffirs were paid only about £2 or £2 10s. a month. The mining companies endeavoured, as far as they could, to keep the kaffirs in a state of poverty, so that it would be absolutely necessary for them to re-engage. It is a disgrace to the governing classes, and to the white population of South Africa, that such things should beallowed to continue. Knowing these things, we consider that we have a right to protest, and we intend to make our protest in as emphatic a manner as possible. With the view of giving other honorable senators a chance of expressing their opinion, and of concluding the business to-day, I shall say no more; but I express the hope that the motion will be carried by a very large majority.
– I think that no Parliament is in a better position to offer an opinion upon the introduction of Chinese labour into a country than is the Parliament of Australia.
– Is it in a better position than the Parliament of the Transvaal itself ?
– The Transvaal unfortunately has no Parliament to express an opinion. That is one of our complaints in the present instance, as Senator Dobson ought to know. Australia has had a very long experience of what Chinese labour is. We have had a sufficiently long experience of the “ yellow agony “ to warrant us in expressing an opinion as to whether it iswise that that curse should be extended to other countries.
– In Queensland we will not allow the Chinese to enter a goldfield until it has been opened for three years.
– In Western Australia we have a similar law to prevent the Chinese going to the gold-fields, either to do mining or to reside there. We have developed our mines without their assistance, and some of them are lower-grade mines than are the mines of the Transvaal. I have in my mind’s eye a mine in Coolgardie, that is paying good dividends on only a quarter pf the average yield that is obtained on the Rand gold-fields. That being so, we have had sufficient experience in Australia to warrant us in saying that it is not necessary to employ Chinese labour in order to make mining of this description pay. We are aware that the Transvaal has «ot got responsible government. It is a Crown Colony. Therefore we are merely doing .our duty in giving expression to our opinion as an integral part of the British Empire, and in declaring that we will not give our countenance to this kind of traffic. If the Transvaal were a self-governing Colony I quite agree that we should be going “outside our rights in interfering in its internal affairs. But the Transvaal has no Parliament of its own to protest. If it had, I have no doubt whatever as to what its opinion would be. As far as cheap labour is concerned, we are aware that, if it is required at all, there is no necessity for the Transvaal mine-owners to go beyond the labour that they were able to employ in the past. There are as many kaffirs in South Africa to-day as there were before the war. Very few kaffirs were killed during the war. ‘ The bulk of them had the “ gumption “ to keep out of the way of the bullets. In the Transvaal itself there are 700,000 kaffirs; in Cape Colony there are 800,000; in Natal there are 1,000,000; and in MashOnaland there are also 1,000,000. So that there are 3,500,000 kaffirs in South Africa .who could be drawn upon if their services were required upon the gold-fields of the Rand. But why are they not being employed? It is simply a question of wages. The fact is that the kaffirs who formerly received 2s. 6d. a day, have had their wages reduced to is. 2d. a day. We are told that the so-called law of nature - the law of supply and demand - operates in such a way that whenever labour is scarce wages improve; but while, according to some authorities, there is a scarcity of kaffir labour in South Africa, wages show a downward tendency from 2s. 6d. to is 2d. per day, instead of a tendency to rise to 5s. per day. I have been reading some of the press reports from South Africa, more particularly since the
Avar, and the newspapers make it clear that a very large number of white, men are unemployed there. In Cape Colony, we are told, the Government have been obliged, in a sort of charitable way, to start relief works on which to employ men at 5 s. per day. Many of the men so employed are Australians, and some who have returned tell me that such was the state of affairs that they were glad to get a few days’ work even under such circumstances. Are we to increase, the sufferings of white people by” countenancing the importation of alien labour? Many of the men’ to whom I refer are miners, and they ought not to be denied an opportunity of getting more creditable employment than that afforded by relief works. If we countenance an influx of Chinese we shall certainly be displacing white men.
– Have the mineowners refused to employ white men who offered to work in the mines?
– I have no doubt that if white men would accept a wage of is. 2d. per day they would get employment. Mr. Creswell, late manager of the Village Main Gold-mine in South Africa, was discharged from .his position for making public an experiment he tried in order to ascertain the relative value of coloured and white labour. The. facts and figures, embodying the result of that experiment were given in evidence before the Royal Commission which inquired into the subject.
– And the Royal Commission emphatically refused to accept Mr. Creswell’s conclusions.
– The Royal Commission had to accept Mr. Creswell’s evidence, though they might report against his conclusions.
– The Royal Commission reported absolutely against Mr. Creswell’s evidence.
– At all events, Mr. Creswell proved that, in three different branches of labour employed at that particular mine, white labour was cheaper than coloured.
– Did the honorable senator ever hear about the eleven obstinate jurymen ? Mr. Creswell proved his case in the same way as did the odd juryman.
- Mr. Creswell enjoyed the confidence of his fellow-men and his employers, and, seeing that he tried the experiment to which I refer, his evidence ought to be worth something.
– The mine-owners do not want white labour, because white men want votes.
– Mr. Creswell in his evidence, showed that in the cyanide branch, the value of the two classes of labour was about equal, and that in the mill work white labour was a little cheaper, while in the underground work, such as stoping, developing, sinking, and .driving, the cost was actually 3d. per ton less when performed by the white man. These are the figures of a practical man, who is patriotic enough to desire to see white men employed in preference to Chinamen.
– The honorable senator has apparently not seen the contradiction of that evidence.
– I read the report of the Royal Commission, and I saw no evidence which in my opinion was equal in weight to that of Mr. Creswell. I would rather take the word of a practical man of his character than the word of men who are really without experience. Under the Kruger regime these gold-mines were proved to be the richest in the world, with an output of 400,000 ozs. per month; and it is absolute nonsense to say that such mines cannot be worked by white labour in the same way as the Australian mines are worked. There is another aspect of the question to which I should like particularly to draw the attention of those who invest in mining, and wish to see that industry advanced in Australia. There is no doubt that an influx of cheap labour into South Africa would be prejudicial to the mining industry of Australia, seeing that foreign investors would prefer to. send their capital to a country where cheap alien labour was procurable. That . may be a selfish view, but it is a view which will doubtless appeal with much more force to some honorable senators than would any call upon their patriotism as Britishers or Australians. Australian mining is a speculative business, and to countenance cheap labour in South Africa would be placing a handicap on the local industry. The opinions which I am expressing are held not only by the labour members of this Chamber. In South Africa itself there is a strong feeling against the employment of alien labour, as is shown in a despatch sent bv the Governor of Cape Colony, Sir W. T. Hely-Hutchinson, to the Colonial Office, as follows : -
With reference to resolutions passed unanimously in the House of Assembly and Legislative Council last July, expressing strong opposition to importation of Asiatic labour into South Africa, which were transmitted by cable to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Ministers have the honour to inform His Excellency that the question was again discussed on Friday in Committee of Supply, when it became apparent that the feeling on subject was, if possible, stronger than before, and Ministers desire to avail themselves of this opportunity to submit their own views on this most important matter for information of Imperial Government. In the first place, it must be remembered that the coloured population to the south of Zambesi River is in an enormous majority compared with the white, and it is most undesirable to increase that preponderance by the introduction of another coloured race, especially at a time when every effort is being made to reduce it by encouraging white immigration. Secondly, Government of this colony is doing ‘all in its power to civilize native population, by inducing them, without any kind of compulsion, to work, and so supply the great demand for labour in South Africa; and, if Asiatics be introduced, that means of civilization will be checked, and the natives will remain in a state of barbarism, from which they are slowly but surely emerging. Thirdly, in relation to the policy of British South African federation, which Ministers are most earnestly pursuing, they cannot but feel that the importation of Asiatics will greatly ham- . per its consummation, as it will introduce a highly discordant element between the European communities, which will certainly complicate, if not altogether prevent, the union of all the colonies under a central administration. Fourthly, to effect a satisfactory solution of labour question in South Africa, what is required above all is the exercise of patience, for Ministers are firmly convinced that if the continent to the south of the equator be explored, sufficient labour is available, and can be secured, not only for working mines in Transvaal, but for all other requirements, if a fair wage be offered, and considerate treatment in the way of housing and food be accorded. A long experience of South African affairs emboldens Ministers to place the foregoing consideration on record, in belief that it will be received in the ( ?) spirit which the gravity of question demands, and with hope that His Majesty’s Government take a firm stand in this matter, and intimate in the proper quarter their disapproval of a proposal which will, if carried out, prejudicially affect the future of this portion of Empire. Ministers request that this minute may be transmitted to Secretary of State for Colonies by cable.
That despatch appeared in the London Times of Tuesday, 2nd February, of thi:; year, and it clearly shows that the feeling amongst politicians in South Africa is undoubtedly against the importation of alien labour. We have been led to believe thai the governing classes in South Africa arc in favour of the importation of Chinese, but that view is dispelled by the despatch which I have read. At a meeting, presided over by Lord Carrington, held in London, for the purpose of protesting against the cheap-labour movement, a letter from
Sir William Harcourt was read. Lord Carrington was at one time an Australian Governor, and apparently his colonial experience has not been thrown away on him. Amongst those at that meeting were Mr. Sydney Buxton, the well-known Liberal M.P., Mr. Herbert Samuels, M.P., Dr. Macnamara, M.P., Mr. R. Bell, M.P., Mr. Creswell, of the Village Main Mine, Mr. Keir Hardy, M.P., Mr. Trevelyan, M.P., and a host of others, including a member of this Chamber, Senator Matheson, who, I am glad to say; expressed true Australian sentiments. The letter from Sir William Harcourt is in terms much stronger than any used in the course of this debate; and when we find an English statesman of such standing speaking in such a strain, we may be sure there is good reason for protesting against the Chinese influx . into South Africa. The letter which was published in the Times is as follows: -
I am glad to know that a meeting is to be held to denounce the introduction of Chinese labour into the Transvaal. I deeply regret that I am suffering from a cold which prevents me from being with you to speak on a subject in which I have long taken a profound interest, and to raise my voice against this abominable project. I confess I cannot conceive how it was possible that any man with the instincts of British freedom could be found to put his hands to such a document as the ordinance for establishing such a code of serfdom as the basis of the principal industry in the newest colony of the Empire bought at the price of tens of thousands of lives and hundreds of millions of money. The great self-governing colonies of Australia and New Zealand, who have had bitter experience of this “ yellow peril,” with one voice cry, “Shame upon us.” They justly regard this as a foul blot upon this noble title of a British Colony of which they are proud. It seems to lower that name in the estimation of the world. It is idle to contend that this is not an Imperial question. . The policy of a Crown Colony is determined by the Executive Government at the headquarters of the Empire. By what right do theattempt to shirk their own responsibility by professing to interpret this wish as of a selfgoverning state? Why do they not allow the colony that self-government in a matter upon which its whole future depends? Even the promoters of the scheme admit that the thing is in itself detestable, but the future of this vast and devastated territory is to be sacrificed to the impatient greed of the speculators in gold, who cannot wait to redeem their industry from the consequences of their own cupidity. They scared away the natural supply of native labour by taking advantage of the advent of British rule to cut down by one half the wages of the kaffir miners, a thing which they were never able to accomplish under the former government of the Transvaal.
That looks as if the position under Kruger was not so bad as the daily press told us.
They have suffered and are still suffering from this egregious act of folly and injustice. They have been compelled to retrace their steps, and by degrees the output of gold is nearly though slowly attaining to the level at which it stood under the government of the Dutch Republic. The dire distress in South Africa arises not mainly from deficiency in the output of gold, but is the consequence of a destructive war. We are told the Stock Exchange is starving for a boom to give a fictitious value once more to worthless enterprises.
No doubt they have some “ wild cats “ which they wish to get off their hands, and that is one way in which they hope to foist them on to the market.
In the interests of low grade ore we must found a low grade colony. Every other industry is to be treated as nought, and the gold mines are to be manned, not by men, but by animals in human form, who are to be treated as if they were pariahs, not fit to be at large, as lepers infected with some foul disease, compelled to cry “ Unclean, unclean.” What right has a British Government to create, of its own authority, such a staple industry for a British colony, for whose future it is directly responsible? The neighbouring colony of the Cape, divided on all other questions, is unanimous on this. It is preparing to fortify its frontier as it were against an invading enemy. And this is a South Africa which, it is said, you desire to federate. Rest assured that the Cape Colony will never federate with a Chinese-stricken province. For the kaffir native population we have some hopes that the contact with British freedom will do something to raise them in the’ scale of civilization, but to these Chinese bondsmen what prospect do we offer but a deeper degradation in a condition from which they are prohibited to emerge? It is impossible to contemplate such a prospect without indignation and disgust. It is reaction in its vilest shape, and throwing back the moral sense of the nation a whole century since the final emancipation of the slaves. I know not whether the Government can command a majority to force, upon us this shame, but it cannot be long before the nation must be consulted, and there will be no issue on which its conscience will be more deeply moved, and more strongly resolved, than to purge the Empire from this outrage on the freedom of labour.
I think that letter from the pen of Sir William Vernon Harcourt expresses the true sentiment of every Britisher who wishes to see the Britisher get an opportunity of living in South Africa. We have enough to answer for in that country. Our crimes as a nation are sufficiently great already, and I think that we should pause before we force upon that country another curse. I hope that a very strong protest will go forth from this Parliament. I should like to see no opposition offered to the motion, so that the Imperial authorities may know that we feel strongly on a matter of which we have had some experience, and may take time by the forelock, and prevent an influx of Chinese into South Africa.
-I listened with great attention to the speeches of Senators McGregor and de Largie. It might be just as well, perhaps, to take exception to a good deal of the hectoring and lecturing by Senator McGregor of a few honorable senators who interjected once or twice, and one honorable senator who did not interject at all, and the mere mention of whose name to” him seems to be quite sufficient to agitate him, as well as others. I believe that there is not one of us but has a desire to as far as possible see white labour employed in all the industries of this or any other country which is inhabited by a white population. It is quite futile to attempt to mislead the public by saying that any honorable senators would prefer to see the mines or the industries of this country worked by alien or coloured labour in preference to their own white brethren.
– They have said so.
– They have said that it is blackfellow’s work.
– I do not believe that to be the case.
– Oh, but they voted in that way.
.- I have seen a statement of that kind made, but I have never seen any proof of its correctness given.
– Take their votes.
.- I know that in Australia there is a very strong feeling on this question. I also know that, in this Parliament, there is a very strong feeling against any interference with its rights or its legislation.
– Does the honorable and learned senator know that, in South Africa, those who are in favour of Chinese labour say that it has been proved to be good, because Australian mining was developed by Chinese labour?
– So far as my knowledge goes, the statement is wrong. I have never recognised that we owed to the Chinese the development of our gold-fields. I have always understood that they were developed by the bone and sinew of the British race. I know that many Chinese have mined here, but we do not owe the greatness of the industry to their labours. I do not believe that this Parliament would tolerate any direct attempt to interfere with any legislation which it might have passed, which it considered in the best interests of this country. If the House of Commons were to pass a resolution to-morrow, telling the Commonwealth Government that it disapproved of some legislation which had been passed here during the last three years, how would it be treated? The Commonwealth Government would say-“ We are supreme here. Within the powers given to us for governing our community, it is our right to determine what is best in our own interest.” Legislation might be passed which I did not believe to be right and just in the interests of the community, but I should never be one to sanction any interference with the express will of this Parliament. We are asked by resolution to object to certain action which has been taken in a Crown Colony ? There is no question that the Imperial Government cannot disclaim responsibility, inasmuch as the legislation was reserved for the Royal assent. They had the right to say “ yes “ or “ no “ to the Bill when it was reserved. I know that in ordinary cases they do not like to unduly interfere with any legislation which may be determined upon by any Colony, be it a self-governing Colony or a Crown Colony. But there is a right-on the part of the citizens in South Africa to bring this matter most strongly under the attention of the Imperial authorities with a view to induce them to act in such a way as they may think most consonant with the interests of the community at large. We are asked by Senator McGregor to take an unsafe step. I wish any determination of either House of this Parliament to be one that will be respected outside. I do not wish to see the Commonwealth placed in the position into which the Government unwittingly found themselves drawn when, in conjunction with the Premier of New Zealand, they submitted a protest against the employment of Chinese labour, and received a snub in return. Certainly it was a very courteously-worded snub, but nevertheless it was equivalent to telling the Government that it was not a matter in which they had a right to interfere as a Government.
– No. I will just read what they said in the despatch -
Fully recognise the title of all the selfgoverning Colonies to explain their opinion on so important a question, and especially of those who, like New Zealand, have rendered memorable services in the South African war.
That extract shows that the Imperial Government did not snub the Commonwealth or New Zealand.
– But what does. the despatch go on to say? Virtually this - “While we recognise that, we are not going to pay any attention to or to be guided by your request.” I will not offer an opinion as to whether it is wise or unwise for the Transvaal Government to take the course which they are adopting, because I do not know the circumstances sufficiently well to enable me to give a correct opinion. Personally, I do not like their action.
– The honorable and learned senator’s sympathies ought to be in favour of white men as against black men.
.- My sympathies are well known to be in favour of employing white labour. At the same time I have not sufficient information to enable me to judge whether it would be wise for us to enter this protest ; while we will be laying down a rule which may at some future time “be taken advantage of by some other Colony for the purpose of attempting to teach us how we should conduct our legislation. I am sure that no one here wishes to give an opportunity of this kind. The motion begs the main question, because it says -
That this House emphatically protests against the introduction of Chinese labour into the Transvaal until a referendum of the white population of that Colony has been taken on the subject or responsible government is granted..
It simply says that we only protest against the employment of Chinese labour until a certain thing has happened, and that then the Transvaal Government may do as they like. Practically, we say to that Government - “ If you should then think that trie employment of black or coloured labour is advisable in your mines, we shall have no more to say on the subject.” But I understand that the protest is really directed by the Labour Party against the employment of coloured labour under any circumstances, on the ground that it is undesirable. I believe that the members of the Labour Party would say that they would sooner see the mines closed down than have them worked by other than white labour, fairly and reasonably paid.
– They would not say so if a free- Government responsible to the people in the Transvaal decided to have Chinese.
.- With all respect to the honorable senator, I think he is begging the question when he takes up that attitude. Senator de Largie, in bis speech, proved rather too much. According to his own conclusions, he has proved that it is cheaper to man the whole of the mines with white than with coloured labour. If that is the case, must not the mineowners be absolutely without sense or brains in desiring to employ coloured labour if it will be more expensive than white?
– The white men want votes?
– It will be more servile. Coloured men do not want votes, and they never form Labour Parties.
.- I do not think they bother much about that.
– Lord Harris did.
– According to honorable senators, the men of whom I am speaking .desire to get as much out of their mines as they can, and if they can work them more cheaply with white than with coloured labour, they’ will employ the former.
– The black labour that the test was made with was paid at 2s. 6d. a day, whilst the wages now proposed to be paid to the coloured labour is only 2s. id. per day. Chinese labour, I suppose, will be quite as cheap.
– I do not know at what rates they will be able to secure the Chinese. I feel confident, from what we hear of the position of affairs in the old country at the present time, that further inquiries will be made in connexion with this matter. We know that the Bill has been assented to, but only upon the understanding that no action is to be taken at present. There must be some reason for this. While I feel a considerable amount of sympathy with the object of the mover of the motion, I think’ that he is urging us to enter a region we have no business to enter, and he is asking us to do something which will have no effect.
– Yes, it will.
– What we did during the war, when we sent contingents to support Great Britain, had a good deal of effect.
.- That was a very different matter. .A war was going on, and we sent our men to take part in it.
– This is a war of races.
– In the war our men were fighting alongside British troops for the maintenance of British supremacy and British rule, and that is very different to what is now proposed by Senator McGregor. I do not believe that the mere fact of our having sent troops at that particular time is a reason why we should interfere with proposed legislation in the Transvaal.
– The war was ostensibly for the purpose of extending wider liberties to people of the white race, and now it is proposed that white people shall not be employed in the Transvaal because they desire to have the franchise.
-Col. GOULD. - Other reasons than the employment of white labour were at the back of the war in the Transvaal. lt is not worth while going into the history of the war. It would take too long to discuss it; there would probably be a great deal of difference of opinion on . the subject, and we do not at this stage require to discuss whether the Transvaal war was right or wrong. The war took place, and we in the Commonwealth, rightly took part with our own race in that war.
– We have a right to take part in this matter, too.
– I think not. I know that some honorable senators hold a strong opinion to the contrary, and I concede to them as much right to their opinion as I have to mine. I have stated the reason for which it appears to me to be unwise to submit a motion of this character. I do not see how we are going to get any satisfaction out of it. At the same time I do not wish honorable senators to think that I am not in sympathy with the employment, as far as possible, of our white brethren under reasonable conditions and at proper wages.
– It is my intention to support the motion. In doing so I do not intend to go into ancient history, and deal with the vexed questions arising out of the pros and cons of the Boer war. I think we should be well advised if we left them out of this discussion. I desire to see the motion carried unanimously, and it will be of no use to inflame adverse feeling by the introduction of extraneous matter. Senator Gould, in his able speech, has stated that he believes that we have no right to interfere in the Transvaal at this stage. Surely, if we were justified in interfering in the Transvaal when it was an independent1 republic, in order to alter the condition of affairs there, we have a greater right now to suggest that the existing state of affairs shall continue until the people of that country are given responsible government, seeing that the Transvaal is now a portion of the British Empire. No one can refute a statement like that. The British Empire spent ,£250,000,000, and 23,000 lives were lost, in obtaining for the people of the Transvaal the right to conduct their own affairs.
– That is what was alleged.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.That was the reason given.. It was in order to clothe the Uitlanders of the Transvaal with the rights of citizenship; and have we not now the right to ask that such an important and revolutionary proposal, which will have such tremendous effects upon the destinies of South Africa, as the proposed introduction of alien labour into the Transvaal, shall not be given effect to until the people of the Transvaal have acquired that citizenship for which we fought?
– It has an important bearing upon the whole of the Empire.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.We fought in order to give those people citizenship. Now it is proposed by a nominee Legislative Council that this great -racial question shall be thrust upon them at a time when not only the Uitlanders are refused the rights of citizenship, but when the Boers who previously had those rights, are also refused them. The condition of the Transvaal is at present that of a Crown Colony. That was inevitable for a time after the conclusion of a great racial war. But when we find the people of that country protesting against the introduction of alien labour in the way proposed, and when we find that the Parliament of Cape Colony has strongly protested ‘against a class of immigration which they feel will be injurious to the best interests of South Africa as a whole, surely, as the Commonwealth Parliament of Australia, we have a right to warn the authorities, and to protest against action being taken in so important a matter when the citizens of South Africa have not been consulted? I have seen the question asked in the newspapers whether we would like the Legislative Council of the Transvaal to dictate to us with respect to our policy in connexion with coloured races.
– We do not dictate. All that is proposed is that we shall protest.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Exactly. There is no parallel whatever.
The Legislative Council of the Transvaal, which is a purely nominee body of Lord Milner’s, is composed mostly of civil servants. The members of the Council are merely his automata. Lord Milner was appointed by the Imperial authorities, and he appointed certain civil servants to assist him. They would not and dare not propose resolutions contrary to the views of the authority that created “them.
– I do not think that one-half of the members are civil servants. The Council is composed of representative men of all descriptions.
– There are Boers amongst them.
– They are representatives of the mining magnates.
– I think the majority of them are civil servants, and they will not oppose any project which Lord Milner strenuously urges. I have always contended that, if it is desired that South Africa should be a strength and not a weakness to Great Britain, it can only be brought about in one way, and that is by providing that the British shall be the preponderating white race in the country. The Dutch at the present time are numerically the preponderating white race, and if the South African Colonies are to become a strength to the British Empire, it can only be by having a majority pf the white population of the country bound to the interests of the Empire by blood, language, and community of interest. No Colony or Dependency in which these conditions do not prevail is a strength to the country to which it belongs. I am certain that to flood South Africa with a muddy stream of alien immigration is the one effective way in which to stop white immigration, and to make South Africa a menace instead of a strength to the Empire.
– White men are now getting away from the place as fast as they can.
– It will create a revolution eventually. .
– It will not only stop British people going to South Africa, but it w;ll throw those who are there into the arms of the Boers, in violent protest against the wrong that is being done them. I am surprised at the action of the Imperial authorities, when I consider the statements made by persons in high places prior to the introduction of this question. The present Secretary of State for the Colonies said some time ago -
The policy of the Government is to treat the Transvaal as though it were a self-governing colony, unless a distinctly Imperial interest is concerned.
In other words, the intention was to consult the wishes of the people of South Africa, unless in- connexion with a matter vitally affecting the Empire as a whole. Can it be said that it is to the interest of the Empire at -large that coloured aliens should be introduced into the Transvaal ? It is unthinkable. What did Mr. Chamberlain himself say to Lord Milner? These are his words -
Before I assented to any introduction of Asiatic labour, -whether Chinese or Indian, I must have reasonable proof that it is a policy which the Transvaal, if a self-governing colony, would approve.
– That is the contention now. It is said that if the people of the Transvaal were polled to-morrow a large majority of the white population would favour the proposal made.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Then why refuse the referendum?
– I do not know that it has ever been asked for.
– I have referred to statements made by people who have spoken on behalf of the Imperial Government, and the opinion of the people of the Transvaal could be discovered by a referendum.
– There are no rolls prepared by which a referendum could be taken.
– Has a referendum ever been asked for ?
– At a public meeting held in Cape Colony a referendum -was asked for.
– Was it ever asked for in the Transvaal?
– A meeting held at the Wanderers’ Club in Johannesburg was called for the purpose of protesting against the proposed introduction of Chinese, and it was broken- up by the Rand magnates.
– Hear, hear; by the 15s. a night roughs.
– Have the people of the Transvaal asked for a referendum ?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.They have; they held meetings to protest against the action of the authorities.
– They did so at Johannesburg. Senator Findley quoted the re,ference.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.What reception has the proposal met with in Great Britain ? I venture to say, without fear of contradiction, that a majority of the people of Great Britain are opposed to this iniquitous proposal.
– I believe they are The House of Commons very nearly rejected it.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.A Mr. Samuel, a private member, introduced an amendment to the Address in Reply in the House of Commons protesting against the introduction of coloured labour into the Transvaal. After a debate, the Government only won by a majority of twenty-nine votes - the nearest approach to defeat that the present British Government has ever sustained. A positive defeat was only averted by the fact that a large number of unionists refrained from voting. It must be remembered that the Government in the House of Commons has a majority of about too. Thus we can see what the real feeling in the Imperial Parliament is. Sir Henry CampbellBannerman, the leader of the Opposition, in the course of his speech on 2nd February, said -
The inhabitants of the colony ought not to be committed to a line of action which must irrevocably affect their future without their undoubted and expressed consent.
That seems to sum up the position exactly. If the Transvaal had a full system of responsible government, as we have in Australia, and its Parliament said - “We want to introduce Chinese,” we should have no right to interfere. But the Transvaal is a Crown Colony. We have precedents within the British Empire where the Imperial authorities have requested the self-governing Colonies to give their views with regard to questions affecting Crown Colonies.
– Has the Imperial Government done so in this instance?
– In his reply to the New Zealand Government the Colonial Secretary has said that the Imperial Government welcomes the opinions and views of the self-governing Colonies. The Johannesburg correspondent of the Times,, writing on the 15th January last year, said -
By admitting the Chinese into this country we may be laying up for our descendants a heritage of misfortune before which the immediate prosperity of the colony subsequent on the step will sink into insignificance.
I have no hesitation in saying that if this iniquity is perpetrated, and if 200,000 Chinese are allowed to flood South Africa, the Uitlanders. will be suffering under a far more grievous wrong than it is alleged they had to endure whilst under Boer rule. Mr. Wy.bergh, the late Commissioner for Mines in the Transvaal, who, I should think, would know all the conditions and requirements there as well as any one, resigned his office rather than agree to what ‘he described as “ this iniquity.” The London Spectator, which, I suppose, is one of the most conservative and Imperialistic newspapers in Great Britain, characterizes the proposal to introduce the Chinese as a “ plunge back into barbarism.” What is the necessity for this “ plunge back into barbarism “ ? The natives employed before the war numbered 98,000. The natives actually employed to-day number between 70,000 and 80,000 - not a very large difference. They are employed,, as Senator de Largie pointed out, at one-half the wages that they formerly received. These grasping capitalists, when the war was on, took advantage of the opportunity to reduce the wages of the kaffirs by one-half. In the Transvaal the coloured population, as compared with the white, is as three to one ; in Natal the proportion is as thirteen to one; in the Orange River Colony two-thirds of the population are coloured people; and in Rhodesia there are 500,000 coloured people to 11,000 whites. Surely there is enough there for the greatest gourmand for coloured labour. There should be enough to suit even the great magnates of the Rand. But on the top of that they propose to introduce 200,000 Chinese to swamp the little population of whites; for the 50,000 Chinese with which they propose to commence, is only a start. Not only is there already an immense coloured population in South Africa, but we have it on the best testimony that if it were not for political reasons the mine-owners could use white labour just as well as coloured labour..- That such is the case is proved by the experience of Western Australia. The largest English firm there, Messrs. Bewick, Moring, and Co., have proved that they can extract gold more cheaply in Western Australian than it can be extracted in the Transvaal with coloured labour. We have to bear in mind- also that the lodes, in Western Australia are not so broad and continuous, and that the ore is more refractory than is the case in the Transvaal. I do not intend to repeat the figures which have been quoted by Senator de Largie with regard to the cost of extraction, though I have particulars in regard to cyaniding, labour, and machine-drilling work. But there is one matter which Senator de Largie did not mention, and that is that the cost of extraction in the Transvaal has been considerably reduced as the result of the abolition of the dynamite monopoly. Mr. Creswell points out that the price that he was actually paying foi unskilled white labour was less than the cost of employing kaffirs in 1898. He works it out in this way - for kaffirs, 6s. 4.3d. per ton in 1899; for white labour, 6s. 9-4d. per ton in 1893. So that there is an increased cost of 5d. per ton between kaffir and white labour. When we consider that the dynamite monopoly has been broken up, that the cost of extraction is cheaper now than it was before the war with coloured labour, and also that the Delagoa Bay railway charges have been enormously reduced, it is quite evident that the statement that it would not pay to use white labour is unfounded. We have also, to remember, as was pointed out the other day by an honorable senator, that the Transvaal mines are the best paying mines in the world. Several of them are paying 50 and 60 per cent. Some pay 100 per cent., and another 178J per cent, profit. If these were struggling mines like some of those in “Victoria, the owners of which have not received dividends for twenty years, we could understand their anxiety to reduce the cost of extraction, in some way. They have infinitely greater reasons for asking for the introduction of coloured labour than have the millionaires of the Rand. Yet they would not think of asking for it. We know what the real object of the introduction of Chinese labour is. It was disclosed in a letter to Mr. Creswell, which’ it was never intended should see the light of day. That letter clearly set out that it was not the expense that was objected to, but the mine-owners did not want a large white population there. They did not want labour organizations, and they .said plainly that they did not want the same labour troubles as have occurred in Australia. The object, as is apparent to any one, is political and not economic. Let it be remembered also that one of the conditions in the settlement arrived at after the war was that there should not be anything like a tax on landed property in the Transvaal. I contend that it would be a most scandalous thing if those mine-owners, whose position has been so enormously benefited by the conditions that have been brought about, were allowed to have their way. They are given all these advantages, and yet they want to damn South Africa, as far a concerns white settlement, and to swamp it with an alien horde of people, in order to swell their own money-bags, and to secure for themselves the political control of the country.
– The millionaires are mostly aliens themselves.
– They are mostly continental Jews. It is worth knowing that the mine of which Mr. Creswell was the manager was not the only one that was worked with white labour, but all reference to other mines worked in the same way was suppressed by the South African Labour Commission.. Senator Dobson questioned the figures quoted by Senator de Largie, and doubted whether they were reliable. Now Mr. Robeson, the consulting engineer for Messrs. Eckstein and Co., one of the largest mine proprietaries in South Africa, was engaged with two clerks for nine days in going through Mr. Creswell’s figures in order to see if they could be refuted. Yet Mr. Robeson and his two clerks were unable to point to a single error made by him. . It must, therefore, be admitted that his figures were absolutely correct.
– I have seen the states ment in the Times that Mr. Creswell’s figures were denied, and Mr. Robeson is quoted as denying them.
– I will quote from a letter by Mr. Creswell in the Times,, in which he points out, as I have said, that though Mr. Robeson and two clerks spent nine days in investigating his figures, they have never been disproved. We must remember the enormous difficulties that Mr. Creswell had to contend with. He points out that -
These results obtained by white labour were obtained in the teeth of difficulties altogether beyond the natural difficulties of the work. My position in the matter was that of a man, who, if -he fails, fails badly, and if he succeeds, only succeeds in proving a fact most unpalatable to the ruling powers.
I think that the proposal to introduce Chinese upon the Rand has shocked the moral, sensibilities of the whole of the people of the British Empire. The idea of precluding our own flesh and blood from those great colonies is thoroughly discreditable. What has been Great Britain’s object in acquiring colonies? The true colonizing theory is that a country sends out her own flesh and blood, and affords them elbow-room and opportunities for expansion. But with the aid of a few millionaires the British Government at present is absolutely prohibiting British colonists from going to South Africa, and is permitting the substitution of tens of thousands of Chinese instead. This is being done for the benefit of the financial magnates, who have a monopoly of the Rand, a monopoly of the gold, a monopoly of the press, and now desire to’ have a monopoly of humanity.
– I shall support the motion, because, to use the words of the Times, the interests of the Transvaal are identical with the best interests of the Empire; and, seeing that Australia is part of the British Empire, I hold that consequently the interests of the Transvaal are identical with the interests of Australia. In my opinion we, as the representatives of the Australian people, have an undoubted right to enter this protest - a right which will be challenged only by those who, from an economic stand-point, believe that these mines ought to be developed with cheap labour. Within the last three years we had leaders of public opinion in Australia claiming that we were only doing our duty in sending contingents and money to assist the Empire during the struggle in South Africa. Yet, as I said, the other day, it is strange that at the present moment we do not hear the voices of these political leaders of Australia raised in denunciation of a proposal to introduce hordes of Chinese into the Transvaal. Amongst the senators who have spoken on this question this afternoon, Senator Gould is the only one who has dissented from the view put forward by Senator McGregor.
– I think Senator Gould’s view is that the motion is inopportune, and will do no good.
- Senator Gould dissents from the motion because he doubts the wisdom of Australia interfering. I am sorry Senator Gould is not present, because I should like him to hear the opinion of a large number of people who live, as it were, at the front door of the Transvaal, and are thus in a position to be better ac-“ quainted with the facts than we are in
Austral! a. According to the Johannesburg Star of the 2 1 st December, a meeting, attended by 4, 4,000 people, was held at the Good Hope Hall at Cape Town, to protest against the introduction of Asiatics into Africa. I shall not weary the Senate by reading the resolutions which were passed, but merely say that a motion protesting against the proposal to import Chinese was carried almost unanimously. In order to accentuate the feeling shown at the meeting, I may tell the Senate that an amendment deprecating, as Senator Gould deprecates, any interference with the affairs of the Chinese of the Transvaal, but pledging the meeting to oppose the introduction of Chinese into Cape Colony, was negatived, only about 100 hands being held up in its favour, while the original motion was carried against not more than 50 dissentients. Now, as showing the feeling in the very heart of the Transvaal, I think it advisable to read one or two brief extracts from a letter received by me the other day from an old Tasmanian, who has been engaged in mining of different kinds, mostly gold mining, all his life, and who went to South Africa some months ago. The letter contains the following: -
The Transvaal is run by not more than 150 English and German Jews, who, to a great extent, own the only three papers published here, and have hundreds of paid hirelings to attend any public meetings where their deeds are likely to be shown up, to howl the speakers down.
These statements are entirely in accord with those made by Senator Findley when speaking last week on the Address in Reply, and yet his information came from an entirely different source. The letter proceeds -
At one meeting held in Johannesburg, which was for the purpose of petitioning the so-called Government–
That refers to the nominee Government. - to have a referendum as to whether we should have Chinese or not, they had special trains running, and paid the men’s fares, and 15s. and 20s. each, to howl down the speakers at the meeting, and did their best to take forcible possession of the platform. I never witnessed any. thing more disgraceful. They were successful in stopping any resolution being put, and the meeting broke up in disorder. There must have been 6,000 people there.
Here is another extract -
To be brief and to the point, they can do as they please with the country.
The writer means the few people who own nearly all the newspapers, and who, as mining magnates, with a pecuniary interest in the question, do not care one jot for the future of South Africa from a national stand-point.
They have a nominee Parliament, which is constituted of a vast majority of their own men, with Joe Chamberlain at their back. They know well if they give a representative Parliament here they are done. Now, the latest about these Chinamen : they have had their hole-and-corner meetings at the mines, with the mine manager chairman, and taken votes, say, of 40 to 200 who attended, whereby, if it had been a free and open meeting for and against, there would have been at the said meetings 200 to 1,000; but these meetings were convened for Chinamen. Their papers (that’s the whole) had great headlines of the successful meetings in the mining districts. The miners were going to get up opposition meetings, but the general opinion is that the Home- Government will take no action until we have a people’s Parliament. The latest game they have tried is to have petitions: in the Mines Secretary’s Office, also one in the Mines Store, and notices posted up requesting workmen to call and sign, with instructions to their shift bosses to see they do. Did you ever hear- of such intimidation? The natural result is, those who refuse to sign will be dismissed the first opportunity. I am pleased to inform, you that I am one of them.
That letter is written by a man who is. not in the habit of making wild statements; but whose word may be safely relied on, andhe_ clearly shows the little tricks which are being resorted to by the mining magnates in order to stifle any expression of opinion by the white people of South Africa. Those’ pf us who are in favour of the motion could, if such a step were necessary, and we had time, cite dozens of instances showing that it is absolutely true the authorities are afraid to take a referendum. The meeting held in London, at which some thousands of people attended, and which represented the opinion, I believe, of a large number of the people of England, has already been referred to. The meeting was presided over by Lord Carrington, an ex- Governor in Australia, and was addressed by Mr. Sydney Buxton, M.P., Major Seely, M.P., Mr. R. Bell, M.P., Senator Matheson, and others. There is no representative government in the Transvaal, and as a large number of Australians are amongst the white population, and as, further, the bones of many Australians are now whitening on the veldt, or lying beneath the soil in South Africa - seeing that Australia spent blood and treasure in that country - it seems monstrous that any benefit which might accrue, should be taken away from the white men merely in order to put a few extra thousands into the pockets of the_ rich mine owners. I am strongly of opinion that a vast majority of the white people in South
Africa would, if they were given an opportunity, cast their votes- against the cheaplabour proposal. If the nominee Government, with Mr. Chamberlain, or anybody else behind them, are not afraid of the voice of the white people, why is the. referendum refused?
– Mr. Chamberlain is not there now.
– But Mr. Chamberlain wields very great influence, and I believe he was in power when the movement started.
– And Mr. ChamberIain said he would not approve of the importation of Chinese, unless he believed such a step to be agreeable to the will of the majority of the South African people.
– If Mr. Chamberlain was genuine in that utterance-
– What can Mr. Chamberlain do now?
– Such is Mr. Chamberlain’s influence with the Imperial authorities, that if he were to declare himself in favour of a referendum, I believe that that mode of ascertaining the opinion of the people would be adopted. I ‘ know that Mr. Chamberlain was Secretary of State for the Colonies when the cheap-labour movement was started, though he may not have been in that position when the scheme was first published in Australia. We know that Mr. Chamberlain agrees with the idea of introducing cheap labour, he having been led away by the cry of the mining magnates that the mines would otherwise be ruined. Irrefutable evidence has been brought to Australia, and is being placed before the Imperial authorities every day, that if the old- rate of wages paid to the kaffir boys had been maintained there would have been no need to talk about introducing Chinese labour. But as Senator de Largie pointed out,, the kaffir boys refused to work for the lower rate of wages which was offered ; and hence we have this cheap Chinese scheme. I trust that a similar motion to that now before us will be carried by every State Parliament under the Southern Cross. I feel sure the motion would be carried by the Senate, and I hope a similar motion will be adopted bv another place. It is idle to say that this is an unwarrantable interference on the part of Australia.. Thousands of people in Australia have relatives living in South Africa, and, as I have already said, Australian blood and money helped the Empire in the recent struggle. Under these circumstances, surely the Australian people have the right to express an opinion on a -question so momentous. We are entering our protest against what we believe would prove a vile wrong to the white people of South Africa. And there is another consideration. If the Commonwealth Parliament, as the mouthpiece of Australia, do not protest, and if the States Parliaments and the public men of the Commonwealth do not join in the protest, the time may ‘come when some of those mining magnates will obtain an interest in the mining industry of Australia, and make proposals for the introduction of cheap alien labour to these shores. It is not very long ago ‘ since the director of a big mining company in North Queensland openly expressed the opinion at a directors’ meeting that the mines in that part of the Commonwealth could be worked at a profit if the proprietors -were allowed to employ cheap labour. So that this thing has been thought of by some of the mining people of Australia. We know that the movement is always growing for the introduction of British capital for investment in Australian mines. With British capital we introduce British ideas, and if British ideas are to be carried out in South Africa in the form which as proposed, then a time will come, probably sooner than we imagine, when similar ideas will be sought to be given effect to in Australia. On behalf of the white miners of South Africa, many of whom I know, I have much pleasure in voicing my protest against this iniquitous proposal, and in supporting the motion.
– I do not know that I have any objection to the wording and the policy -of this motion; but I have the strongest possible objection to the use” which Senator McGregor made of the motion, and I resent very strongly the slurs - and that is a very weak word to use - which he thought fit to throw at myself and others.”
– The honorable senator and his black brothers.
– The motion affords me an opportunity of making a little clearer, if it be necessary, to some honorable senators my position in the matter of Asiatics generally. It is only a week ago since I was speaking here, as earnestly as I could, on behalf of a recognition of what was due to Asiatics as men, and it is largely because I recognise in Asiatics what Senator McGregor calls my brothers that I am willing for that phrase to be fitted on to me. Because I recognise them as such, I object to what is proposed to be done in South Africa. I approach this subject from a point of view widely different from that taken by Senator McGregor. I hurl no slurs at the Chinese. I do not say that they are a disgrace to humanity.
– I never said that. What I said was that the white men who encourage Chinese instead of their own flesh and blood are a disgrace to humanity.
– The honorable senator has missed very few opportunities of inciting the feeling of honorable senators against the Asiatic race.
– No; the honorable senator is making a mistake.
– It has been against the tone of the honorable senator’s remarks that I have continually had to protest. On every possible occasion I shall do all I can to bring about in Australia some recognition of what we owe to the coloured races. When Senator Smith said he believed that public feeling in England was almost wholly against this proposal, I interjected that I thought he was right. I believe it is the- case. I received this week a newspaper with a quotation from a speech” by Mr. John Morley, who bulks rather largely in English political life. Speaking on the 18th January, at Arbroath, in Scotland, on the Chinese labour” proposals, he said -
I wonder if it will occur to you what a piece of irony it is that this situation has been brought about by action in which British colonists took a fighting part, British colonists who, in their own countries, in Australia and other Colonies, will not allow a Chinaman to set his foot. Does not that strike you as rather ironical, that the” result of .all their efforts has been to set up a situation in South Africa that they would not tolerate for one single moment in their own countries? We were told that the war was justified by the necessity of opposing - what? The retrograde civilization of the Boers, that we were going to introduce a civilized policy against their retrograde civilization. Is Chinese labour, I want to ‘know, civilized, or is it retrograde, as I am sure you all think? Well, then, do not let us say that that war was justified because we were going to .erect a great civilization against a retrograde civilization. One word more upon that, and it is the only one I want to make. A great argument during the time of the war was that you would have a united South Africa, and nobody feels more keenly than I do what a united South Africa would be. I cannot but think that where you find in South Africa two civilizations standing side by side, one * with Chinese labour, which our own colonists will not have in their own land, and on the other, Cape Colony particularly, resisting the idea of Chinese labour, you will then have two types of society, and instead of unification, you will have opposition. Why is it? It is because they are in such a hurry to get the gold out of the earth. Why does anybody suppose that in order to get gold out of the earth you must have the Chinese ? Does any one suppose the gold is going to be melted by volcanic action in the bowels of the earth? Not a bit. The gold will remain, and come out when the time comes.
We are asked in this motion to protest against the invasion which is made on the rights of our fellow citizens in South Africa. I hold as. strongly as any man can that a question such as this is of the first importance to the white people of South Africa, and that if they are antagonistic to this proposal, it would be something worse than a mistake to force Chinese upon them. I protest against the proposal on behalf of the Chinese themselves. I protest against the bringing of a very different civilization into contact with people of varied civilizations in South Africa. The result would not be good, I think, for the white people of South Africa, and I am quite sure that it could not be good for the Chinese who might be imported. On behalf of the Chinese, on behalf of the natives of South Africa, and on behalf of the white people of South Africa, I object to what is proposed, and, therefore, I support the motion.
– I think that we ought to congratulate Senator Pulsford on his conversion.
– I have never said one word in the Senate to warrant that remark. My position has always been clear. I have always said that I Was not a supporter of the free importation of coloured labour. I ask the honorable senator to withdraw his suggestion that I have turned round in my views. I have not turned round in my views by one iota.
– I had’ no desire to hurt the feelings of Senator Pulsford. But the reasons which he gave for supporting the motion appeared to me to absolutely coincide with our own views. We object to the introduction of Chinese into the Transvaal because we think that their civilization is not so advanced as our own. and that their contact with white people would lower the standard of white civilization. That is the whole basis of our objection to the introduction of coloured races into Australia. The honorable senator must not imagine for a moment that we wish to insult the Chinese or any other coloured race. Every one who has “read any books on the subject must know that there must be a great deal of good about the Chinese nation, otherwise that great empire could not have hung together so long as it has done. I have no doubt that it is objectionable for any’ British country to interfere in the doings of another British country, and if we were an independent republic, as some day I hope we shall be, in friendly alliance for defence purposes with all the other British republics, I would not support this motion. But knowing that Australia is part of the British Empire, and that our services may be called into requisition at any time, I consider that we have a perfect right to express an opinion about the movement which is on foot to introduce manythousand Chinese into the Transvaal. Even if only 17,000 whites in the Transvaal were concerned in this question, it would not follow that we have nc right to express an opinion. I know that the whole of South Africa is concerned in the matter. If we may take the speeches of some prominent politicians in Cape Colony - for example, Dr. Jameson, the Premier - that colony is quite opposed to the introduction of Chinese. It would not only adversely affect the white population in the Transvaal, but it would be bound ultimately to adversely affect the condition of the white population in other Colonies in South Africa. The same evils which have followed from the introduction of kanakas into Queensland would undoubtedly follow from the introduction of Chinese into South Africa, but on a very much larger, sca ie._ What is proposed by mining magnates is nothing short of a system of semi-slavery. The 100,000 or more Chinese who are to be brought into the Transvaal must live in what are called compounds, and they must not go beyond the radius of one mile in any direction from the place in which they work, unless they have a permit. I find that under the ordinance which has been agreed to, the Superintendent has to make regulations, not only for the introduction of Chinese into the Transvaal, but for the introduction of their wives and families. I would ask honorable senators opposed to the motion to consider whether the white population of South Africa have not a sufficiently difficult problem to deal with, in the presence in that country of some millions of black people, without having cast upon them the additional burden of dealing with some hundreds of thousand* of
Chinese? Australians make a very great mistake in going to South Africa, for there is no continent on the face of this earth that offers greater advantages than does Australia. I think that the black problem in South Africa will prove even more difficult of solution than the same problem is proving in America. We read that the blacks there live longer than white men, multiply faster, and are very rapidly picking up all the arts and handicrafts of the white man. If hundreds of thousands of Chinese are introduced into South Africa we must expect that the Superintendent will not be able to keep them out of occupations which are outside of skilled labour. If they read the Ordinance, honorable senators will see that it is proposed to keep the Chinese in unskilled labour occupations, and the wording is almost similar to that of some of the regulations governing the introduction of kanaka labour into Queensland. In that . State it was found to be a most difficult matter to secure a conviction against any -planter who used kanaka labour in carpentering, blacksmithing, and so forth. It will prove just as difficult to prevent the engagement of Chinese in the Transvaal in occupations other than those for which they were introduced. I have very little hope that the British Government will pay much attention to our protest, or to any protest in the shape of a petition or a resolution coming from any State in the British Empire. The way in which the British Government deals with matters of this kind was shown in their treatment of the Australian Colonies when they objected to the continued transportation of convicts to Australia. Their attitude was shown also in connexion .with the Chinese question in Australia. The only protest which the British Government seem likely to pay any attention to is a demonstration of force. This is a matter which the Imperial authorities should consider at the present time, because they are talking “ force “ in the Transvaal. The newspapers there say that if the British Government introduce Chinese into the Transvaal they will have to introduce British soldiers at the same time. There is no doubt that when the Transvaaler reads the history of the measures taken to prohibit the introduction of convicts and Chinese to Australia he may be disposed to go to the uttermost limits of his constitutional rights in protesting against this invasion. I think he will be perfectly justified in using every constitutional means to keep the Chinese out of the Transvaal. When Senator de
Largie was speaking, Senator Dobson suggested that no white man had been refused work in the Transvaal.
– No; I asked for information ; I should really like to know.
– The Transvaal is in the hands of the mining companies. Outside of the service of those companies no man can get any ‘employment.
– Has any large number of white miners applied for employment and been refused?
– At the very time when the mining magnates are crying out that there is a want of labour in the Transvaal there are agitations on the part of the unemployed in order to secure some relief.
– It is for that very reason I asked the question.
– I have here a letter written by a gentleman named Mr. B. Sniders, which was published in the Age of 2nd March. He says: -
When I was in the Transvaal, I saw on the one side an agitation for the admission of Chinese as labourers, whilst on the other hand relief works were being started to find employment for hundreds of white men who were walking about, having nothing to do ; and a concession of six’ days was granted in Durban to 6,000 unemployed kaffirs to find employment. It is a libel on the Dutch population to say they are scheming for the ultimate recovery of the independence of their country. And so on. These petitions, about which a good deal has been said, have been obtained in a manner similar to that in which petitions were obtained in Queensland for the continuance of the employment of kanakas. Those interested in their employment took petitions around to workmen engaged in industries dependent, to some extent, on sugar production. For example, they would take a petition to a foundry in which hundreds of men were employed, and would point out to the men that the foundry received a considerable amount of work from the sugar industry, and it was therefore necessary, in order to keep their industry going, that the planters should have kanakas, and also that the men engaged in the foundry should sign the petition. Many men in Queensland signed these petitions for the same reason that men have signed petitions in the Transvaal - because they have had to choose between the signing of the petition and the giving up of their bread and butter. No importance whatever can be attached to the signing of a petition for the introduction of Chinese into the Transvaal. Any man who is a wage-earner, and who has any real acquaintance with the question, will, if he is given a fair chance, vote against the introduction of Chinese. We are perfectly entitled to ask that the Chinese shall keep to their own country, and work out their own labour problem in that country. Some one has said this afternoon that the idea is that there will be labour troubles in the Transvaal if white men are employed. It is a very good thing for the world that there are labour troubles. I am sure that honorable senators will recognise if they consider the matter, that we have advanced in civilization, and our prosperity has been enhanced only because there have been labour troubles. If the labouring classes were prepared to put up with the conditions which existed in England at the time of Edward III., without making any demand for better conditions, no honorable senator will contend for a moment that we would have the state of prosperity that we have in Australia to-day. When I. say that it is a very good thing for any country that there are labour troubles, I do not mean that the. members of the Labour Party are anxious to foment strikes and so forth. We have given our opinions upon that subject in strong terms, and in terms which cannot be misunderstood. We believe in labour troubles for the remedy of grievances under which the workers labour, but we propose arbitration courts for their settlement. I do not think it will be a bad thing for South Africa if labour troubles occur there, and if the white workers are given votes ; nor do I think it will be a bad thing if labour members in just as strong numbers as we have them in Australian Parliaments are returned to the various Parliaments of that country. I have no desire to occupy the time of the Senate at any great length on this question, but I feel that it is the duty of those honorable senators who object to the introduction of Chinese to the Transvaal to say something upon the question, however briefly, in order that Senator McGregor’s protest may go forth with the support to which it is entitled.
– I have no intention of detaining the Senate, and I should not have spoken had it not been that I am disinclined to believe that honorable senators have taken a sufficiently strong view of what appears to me to be the most important phase of the great question under discussion. As a Britisher I have always thought that British aspirations were towards freedom, and that every Britisher who left his country honoured the thought that there was an old British saying, which had to be realized wherever British people extended their power - that Britains never should be slaves. If that be true, then the phase of this question that we ought very, seriously to regard is that which impels us to believe that an attempt is being made to impose conditions of slavery upon another people. Certainly there has been no reason, either implied, or directly put forward, to the effect that the Transvaal mines cannot be worked as legitimate enterprises, and earn a legitimate profit, with ordinary white miners. In fact, that has not been contended. On the other hand, the dividends reaped by the mine-owners are so huge that they impress us at once with, the belief that there can be no earthly intention in their present policy, other than that of exploiting human flesh and blood. Senator Findley, last week, read a report showing the dividends paid by the Transvaal mines. The amounts ranged from 20. per cent, up to 150 per cent. That being the case, I maintain that, provided there is no other reason, there is ample justification for believing that white labour could be very profitably employed, and that the wages paid to the miners could, be on a considerably higher scale than they are at present. An honorable senator, has asked the question, whether white men have ever been refused employment by the mine-owners or the mine managers of South Africa. It would have, been within the recollection, of that honorable senator if he had watched some of the proceedings in the Transvaal, that white miners were asked to give their labour for a pittance that was not sufficient even to keep the kaffir. The kaffir himself was turning away in disgust, and preferred to go back to the wildness of his own country rather than accept the terms imposed by the people who were running the mines. Having signally failed to get even the kaffir to work at the wages offered, the mine-owners got up a huge petition in favour of passing an Ordinance for the introduction of Chinese. Better would it have been, I think, had they come fairly and squarely into the arena, in daylight, and headed the proposed Ordinance “An Act to legalize slavery in the Transvaal.” Surely at this time of day, when we have set our minds against slavery of every shape - surely when we have made up our minds to put down slavery wherever we can - we are not going to attempt to allow people of a different nationhood to be enslaved simply because they are servile and quiet creatures, as one of the mineowners of Australia characterized them when he was taking a prominent part in the advocacy of the introduction of Chinese to work the coal mines of New South Wales. They are servile; and because of their servility they lack the capacity for unity that would make good their “yea” and their “nay.” They are ready to obey in every particular every dictum that may be imposed upon them. The mine-owners are asking to be allowed to enslave the people of another nation in order that they may also bring into existence such other conditions as probably will ultimately starve the white population into submission, reducing their manhood down to the level of races like the Chinese, whom the mine-owners now desire to import for their own profit. It would certainly be a disgrace to us, as Australians, if we did not raise our voices emphatically against such’ an act’ after the part that we have played as loyal subjects of the fatherland, loyal subjects of the country of which we are sons. Surely we should be unworthy of the name of Britishers were we now to allow a condition of things to be brought into existence, that we have believed from our cradle to be out of harmony with the traditions and the sentiments of the British Empire. Men talk about Empire; they talk about Imperialism. My idea of Empire is one which recognises that we must be free, with equal rights and equal opportunities ; and not one which permit’s a few men to say to others, “ If you are not prepared to work on whatever terms we choose to impose, you may starve.” There is no freedom in conditions which impose upon men a condition of things that has ever been intolerable to the very sight, and certainly must be intolerable to the feelings, of any man who has British spirit and British pluck within him. I opine that the truth or the kernel of the whole matter has been touched by Senator Smith, who made the remark that in the Transvaal an attempt is being made by the mine-owners to enforce a system of slavery, because freedom in political power and in political rights and citizenship would make the Transvaal, not only an English-speaking country in time, but also a prosperous country where manhood would be reckoned as well as money. Evidently the mineowners, not desiring to have to reckon with a manhood that demands freedom, have hit upon the plan of confiscating the whole of that country ; and in order to do it successfully, they ask that they may be permitted not to make slaves of Britishers, but to make slaves of Chinamen. The kaffir has refused to be their slave. Now they wish to be allowed to make slaves of the Chinaman. Having secured that permission, they say - “ If the white man will come he must adopt the conditions existing, and become practically a slave to us.” We have reached that time of day, however, when freedom is a sentiment that is nourished within the breast of every man. Every man loves his freedom, and wishes to be free. To be free in politics, and to be free in the industrial life of a country, is the only means by which we can hope to build up a wise and wealthy nation. To that end I have decided to support the motion. I trust that the Australian people, as a whole, will make their voices heard through their Legislative Houses, and that the result will be to check this unholy attempt to bring disgrace on us as a nation.
– Before the question is put to the vote I should like to say a word or two. In my opinion we should not have any right to interfere now in the affairs of South Africa if we had not previously interfered in the settlement of very grave questions in that country. It is within the memory of all that when serious difficulties arose as to the government of South Africa, and resulted in a racial war, Australia interfered, and, as many people believed, interfered to very good purpose. If it was permissible to interfere then, it is quite permissible to interfere now; and in this I think we find justification for the motion. Seeing that we are, to a certain extent, in common with the mother country, responsible for the existing state of affairs, it is only right that we should take our share in the work of trying to find a remedy. The position of the British in South Africa has been brought about by the sacrifice of an enormous amount of blood and money. The war in South Africa was undertaken ostensibly for the purpose of securing the rights of the Uitlanders - for securing the franchise for the British subjects there resident. Whether that object is likely to be accomplished remains to be seen, but up to the present that has not been the result; because in the Transvaal no individual has the right to the franchise, nor does there seem to be any probability of the right being extended in the near future. Present events appear to confirm my belief that the war was undertaken merely in the interests of mining magnates, and not in the interests of the British people - that it was undertaken in order to satisfy the cupidity and greed of mining speculators, who are not even our own fellowcitizens, but in many instances are continental Jews - men who do not care a straw for the prosperity, well-being, or advancement, and progress of the British race, and are only concerned about their own miserable, dirty profits. The unhappy results which we see now have been brought about largely with our assistance, and we ought to do everything in our power to effect a change. The South African .war cost the British people ^250,000,000, while those who were killed, wounded, or died from disease, numbered 97,477. Then the Boers’ loss in the. field was 4,500 men, to whom must be added 15,000 or 20,000 Boer women and children, who died owing to the conditions imposed by the war. These figures show a most serious sacrifice and loss, and if the only tangible result is that Britishers are to be forced out of the country - that instead of getting the franchise, they are not even to be allowed to earn their daily bread - we ought to be ashamed for having assisted in creating such conditions. The mining magnates are apparently not so much concerned about the profits arisingfrom white labour as compared with coloured labour, as they are about their future standing in the country. These people may be very interested in the question of the amount of dividends they will be able to draw out of the mines, but they are far more deeply interested in the question whether they will be allowed to retain, without any diminution in the future, the Tights which they have usurped in that country. It has been proved over and over again that in the mining industry white labour as compared with black is more economical, effective, and safer. I shall not make any reference to the experiment tried by Mr. Creswell, of the Village Main mine, seeing that the facts and figures have already been laid before the Senate. We know that the mines in Queensland, if not exactly similar, are very nearly similar to those in South Africa ; but so far as cheapness of production and economical working are concerned, the balance is in favour of the former. The great Roodeport mine, in Johannesburg, and the Scottish mine, at Gympie, in Queensland, are very nearly equal in point of richness and the quality of the ore. The South African mine is worked with black labour2 almost exclusively, at very low rates of wages, whereas at the Scottish mine, only white labour is employed at a decently remunerative rate. The miners at the Scottish mine receive on the average 8s. 4d. a day, or 50s.. a week, though’ for work of a special character they are paid at a somewhat higher rate. In spite of the superior remuneration, the cost of working the Scottish mine is between 3s. or 4s. per ton less than the cost of working the South African mine. It has been frequently pointed out that the lodes in the South African mines are of such a nature as to admit of more economical working than is the case at the Gympie mines, and that the ore, being more friable, can be crushed with lighter stampers. Yet, taking the cost of mining and milling separately, or both together, the balance is in favour of the Scottish mine. The question involved in the introduction of Chinese cannot be solely one of profit. There must be something else behind ; and the South African mining magnates have admitted as much, seeing that they have openly stated that if the white Britishers’ are given the work they will by and by want votes and parliamentary representation, and will follow the execrable example shown by the white workers, and particularly the miners, of Australia.
– That is the whole secret.
– That, as Senator Findley says, is the whole secret of the movement. The Britisher was good enough to fight for the Transvaal in “order that it might be added to the British dominions, but apparently he is not good enough to be afforded a day’s work in order that he may maintain himself and those dependent on him. Anybody who takes up the South African newspapers, or reads the correspondence continually teeming over to this country from disappointed Australians and other Britishers, will find that the highest rate of wages offered to white miners and others is about 5s. a day - a rate that would not be looked at by any white miner that I know in any portion of Australia. There can be no difficulty in obtaining white labour in the Transvaal, seeing that men, who are almost starving because they cannot obtain work, offer themselves at that rate. This is a crying, cruel, scandalous shame, which only proves the utterly heartless callousness of the mine-owners. After all the sacrifices which have been made by the British people so recently, the mine-owners refuse to give
Britishers work, although plenty is available, and propose to introduce something like 200,000 Chinese. The mines are situated in a country won by the blood and bravery of the British people, because it must not be forgotten that the aristocracy and the officers could have done absolutely nothing without the rank and file, recruited from the masses. The only result is that the Britisher is looked at askance, and because he has not a yellow hide and a pig-tail he is not allowed to work.
– Australians are treated in the same way.
– I think the term “ Britisher “ is wide enough to include all Australians. We were told that the late war was on behalf of freedom, but I should like to know where the freedom is. If the mining magnates have their way it appears far more likely that the late war will prove to have been in the interests of slavery, because if they are allowed to import Chinese under the proposed conditions, those unfortunate coloured men will be in a state of absolute slavery so long as the term of their engagement lasts. I have in my hand a copy of the draft Ordinance, adopted’ for the introduction of Chinese labour into South Africa. I do not propose to read the document, although I shall be very glad to hand it to any honorable senator who is interested in the matter. Briefly, I may say that the Chinese are to be imported, in the first place, under’ licence, and that no licence will be granted unless suitable accommodation be provided before the arrival of the labourers, and proper security be given for their repatriation. None of the labourers have to be employed elsewhere than in the Wittwatersrand, or mining district; being imported to work in the mines, they are absolutely prohibited from engaging in any other capacity in any other district. Another condition is, that so long as the labourer remains in the Colony, he shall be employed only on unskilled labour for the exploitation of minerals, and he shall serve only the person introducing him, or another person to whom, when he has obtained the licence, the first person may lawfully assign his rights. It will be seen that the mining magnates who import labourers will have an absolute monopoly of their services, and that they may be bought and sold for the time being, just as if they were bales of hay or sacks of chaff. No contract must be for a longer period than three years, nor shall it be renewed for a period which, together with the first period, shall exceed five years. One portion of the Ordinance is a “ perfect beauty.”
– It is “quite English, you know.”
– This portion of the agreement is so contrary to the accepted idea, that Great Britain and every person in it shall enjoy liberty, that I propose to read it in full. It is as follows: -
In order to secure the proper control of the labourers, it is enacted that every importer must deposit a return showing the number of labourers introduced, and the place or places in which such labourers are employed.
No labourer shall be allowed to trade or acquire, lease or hold land: every labourer must carry an identification passport, renewable every year ; the importer-
The employer is spoken of as if he were merely the importer of so many bales of merchandise - must keep a register of all labourers introduced, and the labourers must reside on the premises on which they are employed.
They are going to have the compound system, just the same as prevails in the Kimberley diamond mines. The labourers are not to be allowed to go outside the compound except with the express permission of their employers; they will be absolute slaves in a prison.
No labourer shall leave the premises on which he is employed without a permit, signed by an authorized person, and no permit shall be available for more than 4S hours.
Any inspector or member of the town police or South African constabulary may demand the permit and passport of any ‘ person whom he has reason to suspect is a person imported under the ordinance, if he be found absent from the premises on which he is employed ; and on the failure of such a person to produce the permit and passport, he may arrest him without a warrant.
These are some of the conditions under which it is proposed that the Chinese shall be brought into the Transvaal and worked there. It is absolutely abhorrent to all the ideas which free-born Britishers have of the rights of humanity, because it is going back to the conditions which prevailed in the old days of slavery, which we all thought we were so happily well rid of.
– Will they be allowed to sing “Rule Britannia”?
– They may, but I do not think they will sing the song with a very good grace, especially if the officer’s whip is curling about their shoulders. What proper supervision can there be over the labourers in the compounds to see that they are not harshly and brutally treated by the mining companies? What guarantee will any portion of the British people have that their race and their Government will not be brought into disrepute and disgrace by the conditions which will be set up in the compounds for the benefit of these blood-sucking mining monopolists, who, according to their own admission, have no regard for the welfare and prosperity of the Empire, and whose only desire is to get cheap labour to work their mines?
– Will they be provided with knives and forks?
– I do not know. So long as their liberty is taken away, so long as they are compelled to engage on terms which are tantamount to slavery, it will not matter very much to the unfortunate creatures what particular feeding instruments they are provided with. If this is to be the result of all the sacrifices which have been made by the British people in South Africa it is a very poor one indeed, and. one of which the people of Australia, as a portion of the Empire which has taken a part in that South African tragedy, cannot afford to feel proud. It has been said by one honorable senator that we have no right to interfere in this matter, because we in Australia would resent any similar interference by any other portion of the Empire with any legislation which we proposed to enact. I admit at once that I, as an Australian citizen, would regard it as an impertinence if any other portion of the Empire attempted to dictate to this Parliament as to the laws it should pass. But the conditions in South Africa are entirely different from those in Australia. The Transvaal had no responsible government. The bulk of the people of that Colony had no voice in the making of that infamous Ordinance with regard to the introduction of Chinese. If they had such a voice, undoubtedly they would condemn the Ordinance unhesitatingly.
– They are condemning it.
– My honorable friend reminds me that they are condemning the Ordinance almost every day, but their voice is drowned by the cries which are raised by the mining magnates in their desire to be allowed to work their will on that country. Anything which happens in a part of the Empire must necessarily affect Australia as a portion of the Empire. And having once interfered with the affairs of South Africa, I contend that in order to keep up our reputation as a people who desire to do right, we should interfere now with a view to prevent an injustice being done, which, if committed, would not redound to our credit, or to the credit of any portion of the Empire. I never could see why the British people allowed themselves to be carried away by a few persons whose concern was for the profits which they could get, or the control which they could obtain over a particular industry. It is admitted that white labour can do the work in the mines, and do it, economically and effectively. It is also admitted that the mines are sufficiently rich to enable the mineowners to pay a decent rate of wages to white people. Yet, in face of these facts, the mine-owners will not allow an experiment to be made to see if they can obtain sufficient white men to carry on the work successfully or not. We know that the one man who did try the experiment, and proved it to be a success, was incontinently kicked out of his office by the interested mineowners, who did not wish any such thing to be proved. The total amount received in dividends by the mineowners from the mines in Johannesburg has been enormous. Yet, in the face of that fact, they say that in order to work the mines successfully they must be allowed to employ cheap Chinese. That is a state of affairs against which I think we should protest. There are several Australians in South Africa who are seeking to find any employment which would give them a decent remuneration, and allow them to maintain themselves and their families. During the late years of stress in the Commonwealth many of these persons were compelled to look elsewhere for work, and they went with that view to South Africa. We know that although Australia made perhaps as much sacrifice in South Africa as any portion of the Empire, these men cannot find work there, and that Australians are treated with scorn and contempt by the very mine-owners in whose interests they went to fight during the late war. -That is a statement which, I believe, no one will attempt to deny. In letters to the principal daily newspapers in the Commonwealth, and in private letters which have been published in the press, it has been stated that an Australian in South Africa has less chance of getting work than a man of any other nationality. Why ? Simply because Australia has the reputation of being a democratic country, in which working men insist on having fair representation in the Parliament, and claim their rights as workmen. The great fear which the mine-owners have before them is that if a large number of white British and Australian workers went there, then when constitutional government was granted, to the country all those men would get votes, and demand a full share of representation in the Legislature. The mine-owners know that if the workers were to obtain a full share of representation in the Legislature, they would not be able to work their sweet will, as they could do if they had a monopoly of the representation. Therefore, in order to obtain a monopoly of the representation, they have tried to make sure that there shall not be many workers there who would be eligible to obtain votes. That is the reason of their great objection to white labour. They are exhausting every means, in their power to introduce Chinese. But I hope that the British Government, who have a controlling voice in the management of- the Colony’s affairs, will not be so ill-advised as to allow- the weal of the whole Empire to be sacrificed for the sake of these mine-owners. I believe that it will be disastrous to South Africa if it is peopled by Chinese and cheap coloured labourers instead of by men of our own race and colour. The climate is suitable for the breeding of a hardy race for people such as can be obtained from the old ‘ country and the continent of Europe. Therefore, I ask why all profitable work, of which there is plenty, should not be reserved for the people of Great Britain and the white people of Europe who might like to go there and settle down. If England, as has been said, is the advance guard of civilization, if it has been her work to conquer these countries for civilization,- then she will not be fulfilling her dutv if she allows them to fall into the hands of a few interested mine-owners, who will only look to their own aggrandizement, and Australia will live to regret the day when she lent her help in the attainment of such infamy.
– All my sympathies are with the principle which is embodied in the motion. I think that every honorable senator must feel that the principle of a White Australia is a good one. The chief difference between- some of us and our friends in the labour corner is that we believe that the point of a thing lies in the application thereof. We have occasionally to object to proposals made by our friends in the labour corner because they carry good principles to extremes; When we apply the doctrine of a White Australia to the Commonwealth we have a very wide, area, and if I may say so, a large limit; but when we try to apply the principle to a White Empire, we have to recollect that about threefourths of the people of that Empire are coloured. We cannot, therefore, carry out this admirable principle to the same extent in dealing, with the Empire as in dealing with Australia. But for all that I believe that the sympathies of every honorable senator, no matter what my friends in the labour corner may say, are practically with the motion. I may wind up with an amendment, because I do not quite approve of the language of the motion. We are a nation, and we are asked to address the heart of the Empire. I hardly think we use diplomatic language in saying that we emphatically protest against this Ordinance. There are certain diplomatic terms which could be used to convey the same meaning, and I think that we ought to use proper language on an occasion of this kind. Although our sympathies are with the motion, I wish to point out to my honorable friends in the labour corner the difficulties that lie in our way, and also to suggest that little effect can follow our resolution, because, so far as I can make out, the white population of the Transvaal seem to be. almost unanimously in favour of the introduction of Chinese.
– I was going on to say, when I was interrupted, that I cannot conceive why it should be so; but I believe that it is, and before I conclude I shall give the reasons for my belief. I have in my hand a copy- of the cable messages from England, which we all read in the local newspapers of the 12th March; and I shall read the whole of them. Honorable senators will be able to judge, when they hear who formed the deputation referred to, whether this is not almost sufficient evidence that the great bulk of the population, and all classes of the people in the Transvaal, are in favour of the proposal made. They will .’find that the deputation included not only mine-owners, but miners, members of the Salvation Army, and representatives of the Anglican Church.
– What about the Parliament of Cape Colony?
– I should like to impress on my honorable friends the fact that I am not arguing against the motion. I am pointing out merely some of the difficulties which have to be faced in dealing with it.
– The honorable and learned senator is a “candid friend.”
– I propose to stick to facts whatever I am. I ask honorable senators to listen to this -
A very large deputation, numbering about 300 persons, and representing all classes, including the Salvation Army, and miners from forty different mines, waited on Lord Milner yesterday in connexion with the Chinese labour question.
– What colour were they ?.
– There were representatives of the Salvation Army and miners from forty different mines. I see no reference to mine-owners here, but though they were not present they might have been pulling the strings in the background -
They were joined by the Chamber of Commerce, which had just resolved by sixty-one votes to eleven to urge on the Imperial Government the necessity for the immediate ratification of the Ordinance on Chinese labour.
I find that this deputation composed of these various classes of the community, and all white - asked Lord Milner to impress on the Imperial Government the urgency of assenting to the Ordinance passed by the Legislative Council.
The Anglican Bishop of Pretoria, the Right Reverend W. M. Carter, who could not attend, wrote to say that in his opinion the importation of Asiatics was the only solution of the labour trouble.
– He did not say Asiatic bishops, did he?
– The cable message continues -
Lord Milner, in reply, said that he would stake his reputation that for every 10,000 coloured labourers introduced 10,000 whites would be added to the population in three years.
Lord Milner, in forwarding to the Imperial Government the resolution laid before him by Thursday’s deputation, has indorsed it with the notification that he entirely concurs in it.
– What does he know about it?
– I do not suppose that any collection of politicians, other than the members of a Labour Party, would have the temerity to make the sneers and irrelevant interjections which my honorable friends in the labour corner have made during the reading of . these messages. Here we have representatives of almost every class in the community, going in a body 300 strong to the Governor and requesting him, as a matter of urgency, to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies to sign this Ordinance. Why did they do this? All classes appear to have been represented on the deputation. The mining people were represented, miners from forty different mines, commercial men, the Salvation Army, and the Anglican Church.
– If there was one Judas Iscariot in twelve, how many would there be in 12,000?
– All these people asked that the Ordinance should be passed, and what is the meaning of that unless it is that a large majority of the white people are in favour of what, I confess, I believe to be a most shameful policy for the introduction of Chinese. The cable message goes on to say -
The Natal Government has also cabled, to the Hon. A. Lyttelton that unless the tension due to the shortness of labour in the Transvaal is immediately relieved, the financial position in South Africa’ will be seriously affected.
Almost concurrently with the receipt of these messages Mr. Lyttelton cabled to Lord Milner that it was His Majesty’s pleasure not to disallow the Chinese Labour Importation Ordinance, but it was his pleasure that the ordinance should remain inoperative for the present.
The despatch is generally interpreted to mean that every precaution will be taken to conform to China’s requirements. Mr. Lyttelton has signed the Ordinance, and directly the” negotiations with China are concluded Lord Milner will proclaim the date on which recruiting may commence.
There seems to be no difficulty here in dealing with tHe wishes of the people of the Transvaal, of Natal, or of Cape Colony ; but the Imperial Government would appear to be negotiating with the authorities of the Chinese Empire to see whether they thoroughly approve of the terms under which these men are to be imported. Then I will read this cable to honorable senators. Thisis’ the Quakers’ protest -
The Society of Friends has sent to the Hon. A. Lyttelton, Secretary of State for the Colonies, a memorial protesting against the introduction) of Chinese labour to the Rand.
In reply, Mr. Lyttelton points out that Indian coolies were employed for many years in several of the colonies, under substantially the same conditions as those proposed for the Chinese ir» the Transvaal, and that Liberal Governments had never made any attempt to alter the terms. of coolie immigration.
Senator de Largie gave us a number of what we consider to be facts, but, so far as I know, those facts can be contradicted, and I propose to read something which I think does contradict them.
– I read the despatch from the Governor of Cape Colony.
– I propose to read something which will speak for itself. First of all, I should say that I do not for one moment think that we can be rightly snubbed for passing a motion of this character, or that we have not the right to make known our objection to the Transvaal Government and to the Imperial Government. I believe that we have, and, as a matter of fact, the Secretary of State for the Colonies has admitted our right, and it is, therefore, hardly worth while to waste time over that. I should like honorable senators to hear what Mr. Lyttleton said in his speech at Leamington. I quote from the Times, which I try to read as regularly as I can. In the issue for the 27th January, I find that, in referring to the- principles adopted by the Imperial Cabinet in dealing with Colonies that have representative government, and with Crown Colonies, Mr. Lyttleton is reported to have said -
He had hoped to say something of the immense interest of the problems coming for solution before the Colonial Office. There was only one safe way now - the traditional way - for the Colonial Office to adopt in dealing with such questions, a way which was most faithfully trodden by his distinguished predecessor, a way which commended itself peculiarly to Englishmen. He meant that, bearing in mind that unless Imperial interests were vitally concerned, our principle must be never to interfere with the desires and the wishes of the self-governing States of the Empire. He would go further, and say this, even with regard to Crown colonies, our aim should be coherence and mutual fidelity; and in keeping to unity and coherence of purpose we ought never to forget that each one of these great States must have its own life, its our particular thought, its own particular policy, and method of expression. Provided we kept this always in view, the Empire would possess the sanest of foundations, and the most ideal of aspirations.
Honorable senators will see that the Secretary of State for the Colonies says that we ought to recollect that even Crown Colonies have their own life, their own responsibilities, and their own ideas as to what is best for their progress and prosperity.
– But they have no power to carry them out.
– That is only carrying out the grand principle of British liberty and freedom. It is the policy of the Imperial Government to interfere as little as possible with the wishes even of the self-governing colonies of the Empire unless Imperial ideas are vitally affected. I am not going to admit that in this case Imperial ideas or the interests of the Empire are not affected. I believe they are. I believe that just because they are affected we have a double right to interfere in a respectful manner in this matter. I next propose to contradict some of the statements made by Senator de Largie. The honorable senator read a letter from Mr. Creswell, whose brother is so well known to us all. That letter seemed to carry’ conviction on the face of it. It seemed to prove that there was no occasion whatever to employ coloured labour ; but it is true in this as in every other case, that one story is good until another is told. As Senator de Largie has given one side of this question, he will permit me to read the answer to it. The answer is signed by Mr. H. G. Sidgreaves, secretary to the Village Main Reef Gold-mining Company.
– From what paper is the honorable and learned senator quoting? Senator DOBSON.- From the Times.
– Where does this secretary live - in London ?
– Yes; the letter is dated from the Old Jewry, E.C., but my honorable friend is a little too previous, because this gentleman writes from the experience of two resident engineers, whose names are mentioned, who were on the spot, and happened to have the management of these very trials, as to the difference between the cost of black and white labour. If the honorable senator will have a- little patience he will find out what their opinion is. Mr. Sidgreaves may be the mouthpiece in this instance, but he gets his evidence from experts on the spot. He writes to the editor of the Times -
The attention of my board has been directed to a letter in your issue of the 26th inst., signed by Mr. F. H. P. Creswell, late general manager of this company, on the subject of the comparative cost of white unskilled labour and native labour on the mines. In the latter part of his letter Mr. Creswell asks what must be thought of the directors, if Mr. Robeson is right in stating that a considerable loss was allowed to take place month after month without protest, dismissal, or even censure of their manager. As this portion of his letter can only have been written with the object of prejudicing the conduct of the affairs of the company by the directors in the eyes of the shareholders, I am directed to give you the following information as to what actually took place with regard to the trial of unskilled labour on the property.
In June, 1902, shortly after the end of the war, a large number of unskilled white men, including some disbanded yeomanry, were left on the Rand without employment, and Mr. Creswell wrote, urging his board to try the experiment of utilizing these men for surface operations, as he considered that they could be economically employed in this class of work in view of the scarcity of native labour. After the matter had been thoroughly discussed, and the best advice procurable on this side had been taken, the board, in June, 1902, authorized Mr. Creswell to temporarily employ white labour in the manner he recommended.
– But did he employ them below ground as well as on the surface?
– I cannot tell the honorable senator anything about that.
– I quoted sworn evidence given before a commission.
– Mr. Sidgreaves in his letter goes on to say -
The economical results of such experiment could only be ascertained after it had been carried on for a considerable time, as many conditions which had obtained before the war were non-existent at its close, and during the period up to November, 1902, the directors repeatedly reiterated to Mr. Creswell, that the employment of these men must only be considered temporary and experimental. Towards the end of the year Mr. Jennings reported to the Board most adversely with regard to the results so far obtained ; but the directors, feeling sure that Mr. Creswell “was thoroughly earnest in his belief that he could ultimately make the experiment a success, it was allowed to be continued until March, 1903, and he was given every latitude, and in no way hampered by the Board, who were desirous that he should, if possible, succeed. The Board, then finding no improvement in the results obtained, ‘directed that the employment of these white men should be gradually discontinued.
– What results had been attained then?
– The letter continues -
Mr. Jennings’ views have subsequently been confirmed by Mr. Robeson, who states that the actual figures representing the additional cost occasioned by the partial employment of white unskilled labour, as recommended by Mr. Creswell, is 4s. 3d. per ton. At first he put it at 5s 8d., but modified this, owing to the fact that the figure for development redemption, which he had adopted, was not in all cases the same as the actual cash amount spent on development. This modification was, in fairness to Mr. Creswell, published in the South African papers by our local secretary about three weeks ago. Whatever the exact difference of cost may be, my Board has, no doubt, from the reports of these two eminent engineers, that the employment of this class of labour to do the work of kaffirs has proved a failure.
Mr. Creswell refers to his evidence before the Labour Commission as supporting his views, The Commissioners, after giving him a very patient hearing, declined to accept them, and in their report, which is a most exhaustive one. they arrive at diametrically opposite conclusions.
My honorable friends read, .as I did, that Mr. Creswell was cross-examined for hours and hours before the Labour Commission. But he stuck to his guns. He was the engineer in charge, and consequently he spoke with authority. But his board of directors arrived at diametrically opposite conclusions. Now, I have read the evidence of two expert engineers on the spot, who had months and months in which to carry out this experiment, and who had some members of the Imperial Yeomanry, and probably some of our own disbanded corps, to draw upon to do the work. They tried the experiment, but the job was to some extent a failure. At all events, it ended in the desire for the employment of coloured labour being increased. It is of no use acting like the ostrich, and putting our heads in the sand. It is useless to refuse to listen to what can be said against our own point of view. That is what my honorable friends in the labour corner are constantly doing. They should be grateful to me for pointing out, as I occasionally do, the other side of these questions. I have not done with extracts. I will now read what the Times correspondent says, writing with a full knowledge of the case. ‘ I will read all that he says, because I am thoroughly in earnest, and desire to get to the bottom of the question. I am inclined to think that the point which the Secretary of State for the Colonies insists on is the only one which would justify our interference, viz., that Imperial interests are affected. That is the best point of view which we can adopt, and in the amendment which I have prepared I have to some extent emphasized it. I do not think that to introduce Chinese wholesale into the Rand under the conditions referred to is a matter which affects this country, and I contend, with all humility and earnestness, that that is the point of view which we ought to insist on. Because that is so, I am more than ever in sympathy with the principle of the motion. The Times correspondent writes on 25th January, under the following headings: -
Motives of the Opposition.
This is worth listening to. I always desire to . get into the mind of my enemy if I can.
The fact that the Legislative Council has pronounced in favour of Chinese labour would, in ordinary circumstances, suffice to indicate the trend of popular feeling in the Colony.
I would point out to my honorable friends that they are -.quite right in supposing that the Transvaal has only a nominee Council. It consists of thirty-one members, including the High Commissioner and the LieutenantGovernor. I have just read over their names. They are not civil servants, as has been stated, but the bulk of them are amongst the foremost men in the Transvaal, representing every class of the community. We all recollect that three of the noted Boer generals were offered seats in the Legislative Council of the Transvaal, so that there might be representatives of the Afrikander Bond and of the Boer population. Two of those generals would not take seats, but I see amongst the members four who, from their names, must be Dutchmen. I desire to emphasize the point that the Council contains representatives of all classes of the community, though I am not quite sure whether there is a labour man amongst them.
Much, however, is made of the large number of official members of the Council, whose opinion on the subject is discounted. It may, therefore, still be necessary to try to convince public opinion at Home, which, in some instances, has manifested a squeamish sentimentalism regarding Chinese labour in the Transvaal mines, that in reality the country as a whole indorses the verdict of the Legislative Council. In the first place it may be noticed that no counter petition has been got up against the monster petition signed bv 45,0/S adult males in favour of the importation of the Chinese, which was presented to the Council yesterday.
I do not recollect at this moment how many white males there are in the Transvaal, but here was a petition containing 45,000 signatures in favour of the introduction of the Chinese. There was no petition on the other side. Surely, that is a point which bears out what I am saying.
Again, the attempt made at one time to represent the Dutch section of the population as unanimously opposed to Chinese labour has signally failed. In some places where the subject has been mooted, as at a local congress at Pietersburg last Friday, the Boers have been advised by their leaders to avoid expressing an opinion. This is an important factor in the situation, clearly proving that the Dutch themselves feel unable to engineer any serious opposition to the scheme. On the other hand, several meetings of Dutchmen, held in various parts of the Colony, have supported Chinese labourThere remains only the outcry raised in Cape Colony against Chinese. I do not wish to dub this a mere electioneering cry, but it is as well to remember that the Cape Parliament has twice passed legislation for the introduction of Chinese labour, and that the reason why it has never been put into force is the expense.
This a fact worth noting, because I understood that the people of Cape Colony were against the introduction of the Chinese. Yet their Parliament has twice passed a law enabling Chinese to be introduced. That t 2 fact shows that they are a little bit “wobbly” on the point.
– I do not know when it was ; it may have been some years ago -
Recently an experiment was made with the introduction of Italians and Swedes, and it was noticeable that when the relief fund was lately being administered, with the object of giving employment to distressed whites, it was found that nearly all the applicants were foreigners. The other day I came across a prosperous landowner who was loud in his protestations against Chinese labour for the Transvaal mines. I found that he was working his own extensive farms exclusively with coolie labour. From whatever point of view Cape opposition to Chinese labour in the Transvaal is considered, it is illogical. As an electioneering cry, however, it has proved most useful for a strong bid for the native vote. Moreover, anything likely to put a spoke in the Transvaal wheel will always be eagerly seized upon by the members of the bond and others too in Cape Colony. The former, however, have farreaching views, unknown to the latter. The members of the bond are sharp enough to realize that if the mines receive a set back, which would immediately follow rejection by the Home Government of the demand for Chinese labour, the agitation for responsible government would soon assume formidable proportions, and that too on the part of the British. In this way the aims of the Dutch throughout South Africa would be furthered, and there would be no need for them to show their hand by agitating themselves. I would remind those enthusiasts who in and out of season have advocated white labour, that the advent of Chinese is the only possible stepping stone to this desideratum. White labour, without improved machinery and improved accommodation, is a practical impossibility. ‘ To obtain these means a considerable lapse of time, and in the meantime the mining industry cannot continue to stagnate. It has been urged that both the output and the supply of labour have been increasing every month. Till recently this was the case, but the limit would now seem to have be<;n reached, and both output and labour supply are now falling back. Moreover, the mines maintaining hitherto the monthly average of tons milled have been drawing upon the reserve accumulated before the war. This cannot continue indefinetely, nor do the advocates of white labour mention the many mines altogether idle, and the deep-level propositions still untouched. There are fanatics who obtain a hearing at home; but, at best, the truths they champion are only half truths.
Personally, 1 regret the tone of the extracts which I have been reading, because they show to me that the white population of the Transvaal, the population of Natal, and to some extent that of Cape Colony, hold different views from those which I, and Australians generally, hold, and I hope -trill continue to hold. Under -these circumstances, what good can be done by such a motion as Senator McGregor asks us to pass? I should have ‘ thought that my honorable friend would have rested content with the action of the Government. I am thoroughly in accord with what the Prime Minister did. He sent home a protest - if we like to call it such, although that word was never used. The message he sent was couched in the most respectful language, and jio possible exception could be taken to it. Mr. Lyttleton has already admitted our right to send home such a remonstrance. But I am not in accord with Senator McGregor in using the term “ emphatically protest.” I think that a better phrase can be adopted. I was in the House of Representatibes a few moments ago, and found that honorable members there were still debating the Address in Reply. They have not yet had an opportunity of reaching the motion dealing with the introduction of the Chinese to the Transvaal. The Vice-President of the Executive’ Council has told me that if this motion were couched in more moderate language,- it might be adopted by the House of Representatives also. With a view of securing the adoption of a more moderate proposal, I move as an amendment : -
That all the words after the word “That” be omitted with a view to add the following words - “the Senate confirms the action of the Prime Minister in representing to the Imperial authorities the injury which will result from introducing Chinese labour into the Transvaal, and respectively submits to the Secretary of State for the .Colonies that it will be a bitter disappointment to those portions of the Empire whose citizens helped the British Government to secure the Transvaal, and to the Australian white people of the Transvaal, if the introduction of Chinese into our sister Colony is continued, until the question as to the desirability of such introduction is decided, either by a referendum of the white population of the Transvaal, or responsible government is granted to that Colony.
My honorable friends must recollect that the Ordinance has been assented to, and that it will be brought into operation immediately the matter has been arranged “with the Chinese Government. The motion of Senator McGregor seems to contemplate that the subject is still open. What is the use of our making a protest when the thing is done, and the law is passed? My amendment will give to the Secretary of State for the Colonies reasons - not why we protest but why we shall feel bitterly disappointed if he continues to allow the introduction of Chinese. Therefore, my amendment deals with the situation as it is, whereas my honorable friend protests against a thing that is already done. It seems tq me that Senator McGregor’s motion must be altered in two particulars. First of all, we do not want to use the term “emphatically protest”; and, secondly, we do not want to shut our eyes to the -fact that the Ordinance has been granted. We ought to represent to the home authorities that they should no longer allow the introduction of Chinese.
– The Ordinance does not come into effect until a proclamation has been issued.
– I am not sure about that. But we frequently have laws* passed which do not come into effect until a proclamation is issued. Mr. Lyttleton has himself said, however, that at the moment the negotiations between the Chinese Government and the Transvaal Government are at an end, the introduction of Chinese will commence. Therefore, my honorable friend, in common with the other bodies that have protested, from the miners and the Salvation Army to the Anglican bishop, must admit the urgency of the matter. It strikes me that political questions, and above al!, the “ almighty dollar “ are at the bottom of it. Inasmuch as my honorable friends in the labour corner bring every question that I have ever heard them discuss down to a matter of wages, is it surprising that the mine-owners and the capitalists of the Rand bring down everything, in the last resort, to a question of their profits?
– The Labour Party honestly admit it ; they do not.
– I believe this to be a question of the “ almighty dollar,” and that the great mass of the people, from members of the church downwards, including shopkeepers and all interested, honestly believe that the progress of the Transvaal will be absolutely retarded, and the mining industry to some extent placed in a state of stagnation unless labour be imported. That being so, -we have great opposition to face. There is no reason why we should sit still and do nothing, and I approve of sending a respectful - I do not like to call it a protest - but a respectful remonstrance to the Home Office, asking the Imperial authorities to discontinue at the earliest possible moment a policy which we believe to be fraught with the gravest consequences to the Empire.
– The amendment has not been seconded, and cannot there’fore be put.
– The amendment really amounts to much the same as the motion, though it is expressed in very roundabout language, which only the genius of a lawyer could employ. I am perfectly astonished at the attitude of Senator Dobson, who started by saying that he was in perfect agreement with the action of the Government, and then launched forth with a lot of arguments all directed to showing that there was so much to be said on the other side that he really must have made a mistake. When the honorable senator “trots out” that Anglican bishop, and tells us what the Chambers of Commerce have said on the subject, he strikes such terror into us that we find it impossible to argue with him. But do we not know something about Chambers of Commerce in Australia? When a Chamber of Commerce in this country expresses an opinion as to what ought to be done by the “Government, do we take it for granted that the majority of the people agree with it? Do we not often find our Chambers of Commerce very much at fault ? They certainly are not representative of public opinion on a great many questions which they discuss. Do not Anglican bishops make mistakes? Is not even the “ non-conformist conscience “ sometimes at fault? I think it was really too bad of the honorable senator to “ trot out” the Anglican bishop and Chambers of Commerce, and leave out any reference to the non-conformists ; and as matters stand, we do not know what the opinions of the latter are on the subject. It is certainly very singular that an honorable senator who agrees with all that the Government have done in this matter, and thinks that there is no need for this motion, should himself propose an amendment which practically gives effect to the motion, and, in doing so, adduce every conceivable argument for the purpose of1 showing that the Government and all of us are wrong. I sometimes cannot understand the ways of this honorable and learned senator from the “ tight little island,” but under the circumstances we can only conclude he has great difficulty in making up his mind. Perhaps the honorable and learned senator has an exceedingly sensitive conscience, and looks on both sides and all round a question, until he gets into such utter confusion that the question is whether he himself knows what his opinions are. In discussing this question, we may start with the proposition that, unless a community is prepared to give people who come to their shores the full rights of citizenship, they should exclude them, because they confess their belief that they are of an inferior race. The admission of members of an alien race of a lower state of civilization means a risk, by intermarriage and otherwise, of a debasement of the higher race. The general principle, that no race should be admitted to which it is impossible to give the full rights of citizenship, ought to apply right throughout the British dominions. South Africa, in the first place, is either blessed or cursed with an aboriginal population, who must, in common justice, be accorded fair treatment. I do not say that the black aborigines ought to have the franchise, or equal rights of citizenship with the whites, but they ought to be treated fairly, as are the aborigines of Australia. I heard, some time ago, that a man, who had employed an aboriginal carrier in the mail service, was told by the postal authorities that he had no right to do so; and, in my opinion, it is a shame to debar aborigines from this or any similar employment. To introduce the yellow man to South Africa would, with the black aborigines already there, result in a most piebald population. The proposal is to introduce Chinese, on terms and conditions which show that they will be regarded practically as slaves, to be fenced within compounds, so as to keep them from mixing with the rest of the community. Then they have to be deported after a certain period ; and, looking at all the conditions, in my opinion, the proposal is one which is a disgrace to the British authorities.
– The honorable senator is beating the air. If the Chinese Government agree, what have we to do with the matter ?
– It may be- I am not sure - that they have a little slavery in their own country. But it does not matter whether the Chinese Government agree or disagree - their action will not make wrong right, or right wrong. It is wrong to import men under conditions implying a state approaching that of slavery ; it is certainly wrong that a person who indents a Chinaman should be able to sell him as if he were part of his goods and chattels.
– Deal with the matter from the Transvaal point of view, and not from that of the Chinese Empire.
– The magnates who own the mines have immense influence and wealth, which they can use for the furtherance of their own ends. They are able to influence the newspaper press, and by that means scatter broadcast throughout the Empire and the world very false statements of the position. We have heard from Senator Findley how these magnates have been able to pack public meetings with men paid to break up the proceedings. It is only a short time ago since we, believing that we were assisting to liberate .the Uitlanders, who were our own flesh and blood, sent our sons to fight on their behalf ; but we had no idea then that a horde of Chinese was to be imported in order to compete against our own fellow-citizens. I am perfectly astonished at the position which the British Government have taken up. This is a matter which ought to have been looked at from the Imperial point of view which Senator Dobson so frequently urges. In time we hope to see a Commonwealth like our own in South Africa, and the British Government ought to realize that it is to the interests of the present generation, and those who will follow, that the yellow races should be excluded. There is a black race there already ; why then, should there also be a yellow race? The position taken up by the Commonwealth Government is very clear. Honorable senators will recollect that a short time ago I laid on the table a paper showing the correspondence which had taken place between the Premier of New Zealand and the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth in reference to approaching the Imperial and Transvaal authorities. It was then agreed, between the Prime Minister and Mr. Seddon, that a mutual statement of the Australasian case against the introduction of the Chinese should be sent to the Transvaal authorities, and also to the British Government; and I should like to refer to one or two points then dealt with. In a cable from the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth “to the Premier of New Zealand, on 16th January last, the former suggested that the following should be included in a message to the Transvaal Government : -
They (Ministers of the Commonwealth) foresee grave perils - racial, social, political, and sanitary - inevitably induced by alien influx, injurious’ to yourselves and neighbouring territories with which your future is linked indissolubly, and finally to Empire of which South Africa is great and vital part.
We, in Australia, have had experience of Chinese immigration, and with Canada and the “United States - as shown particularly in the case of San Francisco - know what trouble and injury results. An alien race of lower civilization, who are content with fewer comforts than are white men, always rend to depress wages, and there is always the danger arising from the inter-marriage of the Mongolian and the Circassian. I regard the Chinese as about as good an Eastern race as can be found ; indeed, from my experience gained when travelling, I regard them as the pick of the Eastern races, but, at the -same time, they ought to keep to their own country. There is a piece of Scripture which is very often not fully quoted. We are told that God “ hath made of one blood all nations … of the earth . . . ,” but there is a second part which is often omitted, namely, “ and hath determined . . . the bounds of their habitation.” I contend that the Chinese ought to be kept to their own country.
– On that assumption, what right have we in the Transvaal ?
– We got the Transvaal by right of conquest, and the honorable senator knows that in this world might, to a certain extent, is right.. To a very great ‘extent it is. As a rule, the conquerors of a country are the most deserving people to survive, because they are the most advanced. When they come in contact with’ ail inferior race very frequently they supplant that race, and with results which are beneficial to the community as a whole. It is far better that 4,000,000 civilized white persons, should be inhabiting Australia than that it should have been left to a few hundred thousand miserable specimens of humanity in the shape of aboriginals.
– The argument is. very elastic.
– It is very true, though.
– What becomes of the Scriptural quotation?
– I think that the. Circassian race can prosper in practically any part of the temperate zone, and also in portion of the tropics.
– The honorable, senator might have pointed out that the Scriptures also say that -
God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell’ in the tents of Shem.
– I believe that there is some statement to that effect in the Bible -but it contains many statements about the ‘accuracy of which we are not absolutely sure. I wish to point out that we made a protest against the introduction of Asiatics into the Transvaal, and received a reply. The sum and substance of the reply which we received from Lord Milner is contained in this extract” from his cablegram -
Supply of labour available from these native races is quite inadequate to meet requirements of country, and no effective means of increasing the supply which has been suggested have been left untried.
I doubt the accuracy of that statement. I believe that they have left untried a great many means -
White labour is not available in sufficient numbers, or willing to work at wages which mines in this country can afford to pay.
Is that a true statement?
– The evidence which we have - that the mines are paying from 20 to 150 per cent., and yielding a greater percentage of gold per ton of ore than is the case in Australia, where we employ white labour at a profit - shows that a mistake must have! been made somewhere. I am inclined to believe that the question of wages weighs very heavily with the directors and shareholders of the mining companies. It is not the whole question with them. Behind that question is the fear that if they did employ white labour it would not be so subservient to them as black or yellow labour.
– There is a third question - that by employing Chinese in the mines more work would be made for the white men.
– That is what they think and say.
– That is what they try to stuff the poor unfortunate whites in the Transvaal with. It is the same cry that they had in Queensland years ago. It was said that the more kanakas they could get into the country the more employment would be found for white men. A little reflection should satisfy any one that it is an untrue cry. Whichever labour the mineowners employ in the workings underground, quite as many white- men will be wanted as engineers, and to fill the highest positions. If the statement is examined closely it will be seen that it was only a subterfuge to induce the white people in the Transvaal to sign the petitions which have been quoted from. It is the usual dodge which is resorted to, as we all know from our experience in our own country.
– Does the honorable senator think that .Lord Milner would resort to dodges and subterfuges?
– I do not believe that Lord Milner had anything to do with the getting up of these petitions.
– He said that if 10,000 Chinese were imported there would be employment for 10,000 more white people.
– He only stated what he was informed. In his cablegram he told us that he sent his reply after having consulted with his Executive Council ; he did not send it as his own reply. My honorable and learned friend must know that Lord Milner only speaks from information which he has received, and mostly from one source. We know what these people are. It is a crying disgrace that we fought to gain freedom for our own people in South Africa, only to find that our people are not to be employed in the mines and the works of the country. Senator Gould has stated that the British Government snubbed us because we dared, to approach them on the subject. They did nothing of the sort. In their answer to the telegram sent by the Prime Minister of New Zealand - which ought to show what their mind on the subject was - they said -
His Majesty’s Government declares that its policy is to treat the Transvaal as though it was a self-governing colony, unless a distinct Imperial interest is concerned, and to interfere as little as possible with local opinion and local wishes. This policy has many reasons to support it, but among others they are based on the conviction that each of the States of the Empire, by reason of its direct interest and special knowledge of the conditions affecting it, is best able to deal with its own problems. It is this conviction which guided His Majesty’s Government in its action in regard to the question of alien races in New Zealand and Australia.
In a previous part of the reply, the Secretary of State for the Colonies says -
I fully recognise the title of all the selfgoverning colonies to explain their opinion on so important a question.
In this motion we only express our opinion. We utter a note of warning, and say in effect “ In our case we found the disadvantage of a large influx of Chinese at one period of our history. You will only find out this disadvantage yourself if you persist in introducing Chinese. Be warned by our example, and keep them out of the country.” We gave the reasons for our warning. We were not snubbed because we took that step, but the Secretary of State for the Colonies said -
I fully recognise the title of all the selfgoverning colonies to explain their opinion on so important a question, and especially of those who like New Zealand rendered memorable services in the South African war.
Where is the snub which Senator Gould said that Mr. Seddon had received, and which we had received by implication? We did not telegraph directly to the British Government, but to the Transvaal Government, and we received a reply. Certainly it did not satisfy us, but it was courteous in its tone, and did not object to our warning them in the circumstances. The reply which Mr. Seddon received from the Secretary of State for the Colonies directly recognised that he had a perfect right to approach the British Government on the subject. We have a perfect right in the circumstances to express our view. I hope that better counsels will prevail, and that there will be no necessity to enforce the Ordinance which has been passed. If it is put in force I trust that it will only be allowed to operate for a very short period. A great mistake will be committed if from 10,000 up to 200,000 Chinamen are allowed to enter the Transvaal.
– Ought we not in the motion to point out that this is an Imperial question ?
– In the motion we state our opinion as plainly and concisely as we can, and we can do no more. It is of no use making a great song about the matter. If this motion is carried here practically unanimously, and a similar one is carried in another place practically unanimously, it will show the British Government that when the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth on the one hand, and the Premier of New Zealand on the other, uttered their note of warning they expressed the opinion, not only of themselves and of their Governments, but of united Australasia. It has been frequently said of a communication from the Prime Minister as was said of the communication about preferential trade, “ Oh, that is only an expression of his opinion. What is the opinion of the people behind him?” The passing of this motion will show that the representatives of the people speak on this matter with no uncertain sound, and I feel quite sure that it will have great weight in the councils of the Empire. I believe that after each House of this Parliament has indorsed the opinion which has been expressed by the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth and the Prime Minister of New Zealand, the small majority which they have in the House of Commons will not induce the British Government in the long run, at all events, to refuse to give heed to the wishes of a people who have had practical experience of the Chinese, and whose only desire is that South Africa shall be a desirable place for our own race to settle in, and that if there is to be employment in mines, in farms, and in other directions, our own race shall be given a chance. I believe that the united voice of Australasia on the subject will unmistakably have very considerable effect, not only in Great Britain, but in the Transvaal.
– Is not the honorable senator going to move to modify v the motion ?
– The modification which I desire to make does not touch the substance of the motion. It has been suggested to me that the words “ emphatically protests against “ are a little too strong, and that it might be as well to use in their place the words “ records its grave objection to.” I think that the latter phrase would be equally as effective as the former. I move -
That the words “ this House emphatically protests against,” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ the Senate records its grave objection to.”
– I accept the amendment, and I desire to say a word or two in reply, in order that I may thank honorable senators for the unanimous way in which they have supported the motion. I desire also to congratulate our honorable friend Senator Dobson upon having stripped off the garments of conservatism. I do not know what the honorable and learned senator looks like now in the eyes of his best friends. He reminds me of a hawker we had in South Australia who used always to go about in a dilapidated condition, and was a subject for the ridicule of his wife because his clothes were not good enough. He bought a new suit of clothes in order to surprise his wife, and he put them in the back of his van. When he got to a lonely place on the road he took off all his clothes and threw them in the river, and they were swept away. Then,’ when he groped for the parcel in which his new clothes were, lo and behold, it had either been stolen or had dropped out of the waggon, and when he got home his wife got a greater surprise than he had intended she should get. That is the position in which Senator Dobson is, because, although he rose professedly with the intention of supporting my motion, he said everything he could against it. His action also reminded me of the prophet who went to curse and found that he could hot give anything but a blessing. The honorable and learned senator has reversed that action. He pretended to support my motion, but every word he said was in opposition to it.
– I gave honorable senators the facts.
- Senator Pulsford declared that I was always depreciating and doing everything I could to bring contempt upon the coloured races. Those who have previously heard my statements with respect to the way in which I was treated by members of the coloured races will surely recollect that I have never had any ill-feeling towards them. It is not because I wish to cast reflections upon the coloured races that I have moved a motion of this description, but because I am far more interested in the welfare of the British Empire than are those who are prepared to throw the apple of discord into a country like South Africa. Everyone must recognise that when brought to its legitimate conclusion, instead of bringing that peace which we should all like to see, the raising of the question, the introduction of Chinese into a country like South Africa is bound to bring about dissension, and the British Empire is more likely to suffer from the introduction of these alien races into that country than it is to benefit by it. It is for these reasons that those who have an interest in the British race, or in the welfare of the Empire, object to the introduction of anything, whatever shape or form it may take, that will have a tendency to lower its prestige in the world. I hope that Senator Dobson will realize these facts, and will understand that we have no intention of doing anything that will injure the British Empire, but on the contrary, desire always to do everything we possibly, can to maintain its dignity. I am -very pleased that a motion such as that which I have moved will be carried unanimously. I - do not believe - a single honorable senator will raise his voice against it. I agree to the amendment moved by the “Vice-President of the Executive Council, and I thank him for the manly way in which he has spoken out to-night upon this question. I am very glad to be able to agree to the amendment which he proposes, because it suggests the form in which the motion is likely to be introduced and carried in another place. ‘ I hope the motion will be carried, ‘and I trust that the Government will in the very near future be able to communicate the motion agreed to by both Houses of the Federal Parliament to the Imperial Government. I have no doubt that the result will be beneficial, not only to the Empire, but to all its colonies.
Amendment agreed to. Question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative. .
Senator PLAYFORD laid upon the table the following papers : -
Transfers of amounts approved by the GovernorGeneral in Council, financial year 1903-4, under tha Audit Act.
Regulations under the Electoral Act.
The Clerk or the Parliaments laid upon the table the following paper: - -
Return to an Order of 4th March relating to contract post-offices.’
Senate adjourned at 9.38 p.m. -
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 16 March 1904, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1904/19040316_senate_2_18/>.