2nd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, without notice, first, whether he can give me this morning a definite assurance that he will have laid upon the table, before the close of the session, full particulars of the tenders to be called for a contract in lieu of the Orient mail contract; and, secondly, whether, in the circumstances, he would prefer that to-morrow morning I should move the adjournment of the Senate to consider the fact that, although more than two months have elapsed, nothing has yet been done to carry out its resolution on that subject.
– I am not in a position to give the honorable senator a definite assurance of the kind which he desires, partly because, as I stated previously, the Postmaster-General is giving the greatest consideration to this matter, and partly because the pressure of parliamentary work lately has prevented him from giving much attention to departmental matters. No one knows when the session will end. I shall to-day again press upon my colleague the request of the honorable senator, and, if anything can be done to facilitate the granting of it, it shall not be left undone. With regard to the second question, I do not wish to express a preference. It is for the honorable senator to take whatever course he may think desirable under the circumstances. I do not wish to be understood to say that I approve of any particular course he may take at this period of the session.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, what is intended to be done with regard to carry ing on Government House, Sydney, after the 30th June, as the press has announced that nothing is to be done in that respect? We do not know that there will be time for a Bill on this subject to be brought in before that date, if the recess should last for six months, as, probably, it will.
– All the necessary provision has been made for the upkeep of Government House in Sydney until the end of the financial year. Any further provision will have to be made by an arrangement, which will have to be submitted to Parliament for its approval when it meets. At the earliest possible opportunity it will be asked either to approve or disapprove of any arrangement which the Ministry may have thought it advisable to make. The upkeep of the building will, in the meantime, go on, and Ministers will look to Parliament to approve of any little expenditure, which may be incurred.
– The Minister says the upkeep of Sydney Government House will go on in the meanwhile, and that Ministers will look to Parliament for its approval of the expenditure incurred, but does he mean to suggest to the Senate that the Government will spend more than has been appropriated for the services of the year ending on 30th June?
– In view of that appropriation, I do not understand my honorable friend’s allusion to the upkeep of the building.
– I was asked by Senator Walker to state what arrangement the Government intend to make for the upkeep of the building between the end of the financial year and the re-assembling of the Parliament, and I replied that if we did enter into any arrangement each House would be invited next session to approve of any little expenditure which might have been incurred after the 30th June.
– Has not the Minister already given us to understand that at the expiration of the financial year any supposed existing arrangement will determine until Parliament approves of a fresh arrangement?
– Undoubtedly an arrangement will have to be entered into by the Government before it can be laid before Parliament for its approval.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, whether bis attention has been drawn to a report in this morning’s Argus of a parliamentary gathering at the forts at which Colonel Ricardo is reported to have stated that -
He was pleased that the Premier had accepted the suggestion to visit the forts. Personally, he always felt that, as Commandant, he was a State officer first, and a Commonwealth officer next. It was very well to talk of the Commonwealth military forces, but the State paid foi its own defences.
Secondly, whether this gentleman has been Commandant in Queensland and also in Western Australia; and thirdly, what the Minister thinks of these observations?
– This morning I have not had an opportunity of going through the newspapers as closely as usual, and therefore my attention had not beendrawn to this report. If such a statement was made bv Colonel Ricardo, all I have to say is that it was a very injudicious one.
– It is absolutely untrue.
– It is untrue.
– If the report is correct, it was a most improper statement for an officer to make.
– Will the Minister call” for a report in reference to the speech of Colonel’ Ricardo ?
– Undoubtedly, I shall, because I look upon it as an improper statement for an officer to make.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Defence without notice, if he can to-day give me a final answer to the question which I asked on Tuesday with reference to laying upon the table all the papers relating to two statements made by Mr. Carruthers, Premier of New South’ Wales, on Friday last?
– The papers are being prepared. They are not sufficiently advanced to be laid upon the table, though I hope to submit them to-morrow.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, if he has received from the Inspector-General, or any other officer, a recent report with regard to the condition of the Military Forces in Tasmania, and, if so, whether he will lay it upon the table?
– To the best of my recollection, I have received no such report. Certainly, if it has come in, I have not seen it.
– Will the Minister lay upon the table the most recent report he has received on this subject?
– The only report I have relates to Major-General Finn’s inspection of the Tasmanian forces. I can lay that upon the table.
– Can the Minister lay. it upon the table to-morrow?
– I do not know that I can, but I shall expedite its’ production as much as possible.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, whether he receives from the InspectorGeneral regular reports on the Military Forces of the Commonwealth’, and, if so, whether he has any objection to laying them upon the table for the information of the Senate ?
– I receive regular reports on the inspections which the InspectorGeneral has made. I have no objection to lay them upon the table, but they are very voluminous, and I shall not move “that they be printed, because they only refer to what he has seen in various places.
-Col. GOULD. - Has the Minister received any periodical report on the condition of the Forces generally, such as Major-General Hutton used to make, and, if so, will he lay it upon the table?
– The InspectorGeneral does not make a general report to the Minister. The report on the subject of the Military Forces, which I hope to lay before Parliament; next session, will emanate from the Military Board. Our chief military officer makes no periodical report, but he sends in a report upon each inspection which he has made.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, whether he has taken any steps to carry out the pledge which he made over four months ago, to have prepared an annual report of the Military Board to take the place of the annual report which Major-General Hutton used to make, and, if so, when we may expect to receive the report for the current year?
– I have taken steps in that direction, but as I pointed out to the honorable senator at the time, MajorGenera] Hutton had made a report up to November, practically to the e-nd of the year, and only half of the current year had expired when the Parliament met. The yearly report will be made up to the end of this year, and will take the place of that which used to be furnished by MajorGeneral Hutton, but the time for its presentation has not yet expired. It is in course of preparation.
– As a matter of fact, has the Minister instructed his officials to prepare such a report?
– My memory does not enable me to answer the question with absolute certainty, but I believe that I did give a direction. I have a secretary here, who takes clown every promise I make, and sends it on to the proper authority to see that it is fulfilled.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, whether fie will lay on the table to-morrow a copy of the agreement having reference to the Pacific Islands Mail Service, or the draft of the agreement which the Government propose to make with Messrs. Burns,
Philp, and Co. ? I may say in explanation, that when I moved in the Senate that a copy of the contract be laid upon the table, I was told that the contract was not signed. I then asked that a copy of trie proposed contract be laid upon the table; and I am fearful that because I used the word “contract” somebody may say that a contract is not a contract until it is signed. I therefore ask for a copy of the draft of the proposed agreement.
– I will make inquiries of the Prime Minister. Yesterday I informed the honorable senator, in reply to a question, that the Prime Minister thought it advisable not to lay a draft of an agreement upon the table, as the time is so near when we shall be able to lay on the table the complete contract; but I will communicate with him again on the subject, and see what I can do.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, whether it is the practice for the States Commandants to apply to him for permission to act as members of the staffs of States Governors, or whether they act in such capacities at the order of the States Governments?
– They certainly do not act under the orders of the Stares Governments. The only orders under which they can act are military orders.
– How is it that thf- States Commandants come to act as members of the staffs of States Governors at the opening and closing of States Parliaments ?
– Application is made to the State Commandant for the usual military escorts on the occasion of the opening and closing of a State Parliament. Permission has always ‘been granted, and such matters are not referred, to me.
– I am not referring to military escorts, but to the fact that State Commandants act as members of the staffs of States Governors. It is not a thing that I object to, but I want to know by whose authority it is done ; whether these officers apply for authority to act in such capacities or not? My reason for asking the question is the statement made by Colonel Ricardo that he considered himself more the servant of the State than of the Commonwealth.
– I think these officers are following an old precedent, dating back to a time before the Military Forces were taken over from the States. I cannot see any harm in the practice. I think it may continue to be followed. If the members of the staff of the Commandant of Victoria like to act as members of the staff of the State Governor, as they have done in the past, on the occasion of the opening or closing of the State Parliament, they are simply, as I have said, following an old precedent, and, I presume, they do so as a matter of course. They do not apply to me for permission. There is no necessity to do so.
– Does not the Minister think they ought to apply to him ?
– I should not be too particular in a case like that.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, whether he intends, to bring in a comprehensive scheme of defence, and, if so, whether he intends to make provision for cadet training as part of his comprehensive scheme?
– I did provide for the cadets on the Estimates, and Parliament voted a sum of ,£7,000 for the purpose. By voting the money Parliament approved of the scheme.
– Is that part of the scheme mentioned in the morning newspapers ?
– Yes ; £7,000 was placed on the Estimates for the purpose of inaugurating the scheme, and Parliament approved of it. I told the Senate exactly what was going to be done.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Defence a question, without notice, arising out of his answer to Senator Dobson’s question. It is whether the Senate may congratulate him beforehand on having set aside a sufficiently large sum of money to provide for the establishment of naval cadets in his new scheme relating to the Defence Forces ? I draw a distinction between naval cadets and military cadets. I understand that the answer of the Minister referred exclusively to military cadets. Will he inform me whether a sum of money will be made available for naval cadets as separate from military cadets ?
– I expect that I shall be able to make provision next year in regard to naval cadets ; but, in the meantime, I am communicating with Captain Creswell, and we are trying to inaugurate a scheme which I hope to be able to communicate to the Senate next year.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, whether the implication contained in a notice of motion given by Senator Walker, and withdrawn yesterday, that railway and steamers’ fares had been granted free of charge to senators on behalf of their relatives and friends has any basis in fact ?
– I am very doubtful. I think the statement only applies to the wives of members of Parliament.
– Will the Minister be good enough to place himself in a position to give me a straight out answer, yes or no?
– Yes, I will.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, what is the number of officers and men attached to the condemned war-ship Cerberus, and their respective ranks?
– I cannot keep all these particulars in my mind, but if ths honorable senator will give notice of his question I will obtain the information tomorrow.
Bill received from House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Playford) read a first time.
– I have to make a communication to those members of the Senate who are members of the Joint House Committee. There will be no meeting of the Committee at 12 o’clock to-day, because both Houses are sitting, but a meeting will be called: as early next week aspossible, when I see the arrangements made with regard to the sittings of the Houses.
– I layon the table a report from the Standing Orders Committee, which I will ask the Clerk to read.
Report read by the Clerk as follows: -
The Standing Orders Committee, having considered the question of framing Standing Orders dealing with instructions to Committees of the Whole, have resolved to recommend to the Senate the following additional Standing Orders, viz. : - “ 319A. An instruction can be given to a Com mittee of the Whole on a Bill to amend an existing Act, to consider amendments which are not relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill, but are relevant to the subject-matter of the Act it is proposed to amend, provided that such motion shall be carried by at least fifteen affirmative votes.” “ 319B. An instruction to a Committee of the Whole requires notice, and can only be moved before going into Committee on any question.”
– As a matter of personal explanation, I wish to say that yesterday, in error, I voted against, instead of for, an amendment moved by Senator Gould in the Immigration Restriction Bill. The amendment related to the admission of the wives of aliens,
Distribution : Tasmania
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
Has he noticed the following statement in the Tasmanian papers of 8th December, reported as having been made by Mr. Evans, Premier and Treasurer of Tasmania, in reply to a question put to him by the honorable G. T. Collins, and used by Mr. Collins at a public meeting, viz. : -
That the advantage to Tasmania from Customs and Excise revenue, if payment were made on a fer capita, instead of the present basis, would be about£74,000 a year, including Western Australian Special Tariff, or£53,000, excluding that Tariff?
Are such amounts approximately correct?
If all Commonwealth expenditure were distributed on a per capita basis, instead of present system, how much greater or less would be the Tasmanian proportion ?
-The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
Treasurer has not seen the newspaper repoTt referred to.
and 2. If the Commonwealth Surplus Revenue for 1905-6 were distributed on population basis, Tasmania’s share, excluding
Special Western Australian Tariff, is estimated at£52,786 more than Tasmania will get under the present system.
If Commonwealth expenditure were debited on population basis, and Commonwealth Revenue credited under present system, Tasmania would get, in 1905-6, £4,546 less than under the present system of debiting expenditure and crediting Revenue.
– May I ask a question arising out of the answer given by, the Minister to Senator O’Keefe? The answer to part 3 of the question seems to be unsatisfactory. I should like to have some information as to the method adopted in arriving at the conclusion, andas to the data that has been used. Can Senator Playford give us any further information as to how the answer has been arrived at ?
– I cannot say how the answer has been framed, but I think I can, guess. The total expenditure of the Commonwealth is so much, Tasmaniahas a population of so many, and on a population basis she would lose a certain sum.
-Can the Minister give us any data concerning the items which, in his opinion, have been taken, into account for the purpose of his answer, as being part of the per capita basis of distribution ? He has not told us what items, in his opinion, ought to be debited per capita. There is an enormous range of expenditure.
– The honorable senator ought not to argue the question.
– I merely wish to obtain information, and to explain why the answer is unsatisfactory. Unless we know what items have been assumed as properly charged to per capita expenditure, we cannot ascertain the value of the answer.
– The whole ex penditure of the Commonwealth is lumped’. That is the first thing. The estimated population of the different States is then taken, and on a per capita basis, the position of Tasmania is that which I have shown. At present, there are certain transferred properties in respect of which Tasmania pays the whole, and there are certain per capita charges common to the States. The basis of this calculation is the whole of the expenditureof the Commonwealth per capita.
– Is Tasmania given credit for the services for which shepays at the present time?
– Undoubtedly ; this is the whole of the expenditure lumped, whatever it is.
– The answer to the question is certainly not so clear as I should like. Does the answer to paragraph 3 of the question mean that if the whole of Tasmanian expenditure, new and transferred, were distributed on a per capita basis, her share would be£4,546 less than under the present system?
– Tasmanian indebtedness is more in one sense to that extent : and she will receive less bv £4,000 odd.
– Still the answer is not clear.
– I think Senator O’Keefe is really arguing the question. To ask a series of questions arising out of the original answer is the initiation of a practice amounting to argument.
– I do not think the Minister would object to give the answer I desire; because I am sure it is quite unintentionally that his explanation is not clear. The last answer which the Minister gave leads me to the belief that Tasmania would receive £4.000 odd less, if the revenue and expenditure were both distributed on a per capita basis than she does at present. Is that the meaning of the Ministers last reply ?
– In my opinion, my answer to the question is perfectly clear. The post-office in Tasmania, for instance, receives a certain amount of revenue with which the State is credited, and. under those conditions. Tasmania, for the year 1905-6, would receive £4,000 odd less than under the present system.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-Genera1, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made, and the answers will be furnished as soon as the necessarv information is available. On account of the early sitting this morning, the notice of the question was rather short.
asked theMinister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
What was the total cost of linotype machines, machinery, and plant belonging to the Commonwealth Government installed in the Victorian State Printing Office?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follow : -
The total cost of linotype and monotype machines, machinery, and plant belonging to the Commonwealth Government installed in the Victorian State Printing Office was £31,669 os. 11d.
Debate resumed from 13th December (vide page 6818), on motion by Senator Playford -
That the Bill be now reada second time.
– I intend to support the second reading of the” Bill, because, to my mind, it represents an amelioration, though a very slight one, of legislation now on the statutebook, which, from my point of view, is extremely mischievous and unnecessary, and which has been probably the chief cause of a great deal of what I may call misunderstanding, and injurious reflection on Australia, in England and other countries.
– Due mainly to misrepresentation on the part ofcertain newspapers.
– I think not. When we pass legislation such as that we are now seeking to amend, we must expect consequences to flow from the natural inferences drawn by men who are not in the inner secrets of the minds of those who promote the legislation - natural inferences drawn bv men who merely read the printed language of our statute-book as persons of common sense. I do not wish to deal unnecessarily with that aspect of the case, because I welcome, as everybody else welcomes, any modification, the effect of which will be to remove the stigma cast on Australia. I should have welcomed a greater modification, because, to my mind, that which we are now asked to consider is almost infinitesimal, and is surrounded by conditions and fettered with difficulties to such an extent that, when the amending Bill appears as an Act of Parliament, I am afraid it will do very little to dissipate the adverse criticism in relation to the encouragement of immigration to Australia. It is as well to remind honorable senators what we are amending; and I do so, particularly because of the interjection, just made from the other side of the Chamber. I recall the fact that the contract labour provision of the Immigration Restriction Act provides absolutely and unqualifiedly that persons under contract or agreement to perform manual labour within the Commonwealth shall be prohibited immigrants.
– Provided ?
– I am speaking of the first enactment. I desire to deal with this Bill without heat or party feeling of any kind, but simply from the stand-point of one who, in common with other honorable senators, and neither more nor less, desires that, in the matter of immigration, Australia shall stand on a high plane, so far, at all events, as the mother country is concerned, and that the supply of the crying need of Australia which is admitted on all hands to be population, shall not be discouraged. The contract provision means that a manual labourer, under agreement, is not permitted to enter Australia, but, on the other hand, is discouraged and stamped as a prohibited immigrant. Such an enactment on becoming known in England, and read according to its, literal language, is justification for everything that has been said as to the absence of a desire on the part of Australia to welcome people from the mother country. We must look at this matter as men of ordinary common sense, and ask ourselves whether, if we were in England, and an enactment of that sort were presented to us,we should not say that the positive policy of Australia is to discourage the immigration of manual latourers. The proviso to this provision, in my opinion, makes the position infinitely worse. It is set forth that only those contract workers are to be admitted who have what is called special skill - that is, some abnormal qualification. The ordinary working man, or manual labourer, is not to be admitted, but only those amongst them of whom it can be said that they possess some special, or. as I have said, abnormal or exceptional skill. Any one, on reading that provision would come to the conclusion that the ordinary working man or labourer from England was to be excluded from Australia. The second blemish, which justifies me in saying that the proviso really makes the existing legislation infinitely worse, is that the tribunal chosen for the purpose of determining whether a person has special or abnormal skill is the Minister of the day. I shall never lose an opportunity to denounce the tendency in a great deal of our legislation to introduce the political element, and to constitute the Minister, who is here to-day and gone to-morrow, and is subject to all kinds of political influences and considerations, a tribunal to exercise so-called judicial functions. That, in my opinion, is improper legislation ; and we know what has happened in the past. I do not wish to raise the old questions about the six hatters, or the six potters.
– Or Lady Tozer’s maid.
-Or the incident referred to by Senator Croft. , It is not that men have been excluded; but that the administration depends on the party to whom the Minister gives his support, or on his peculiar feelings and sentiments on the subject. One Minister may admit a particular set of men under contract, while another Minister may determine to exclude exactly similar workers. It is a proposition absolutely unreasonable and impossible in its application, that a Minister is competent to determine whether a manual labourer - an artisan or any other worker - possesses specialskill which is not otherwise available in Australia and which makes him an exception to the positive rule of the enactment.
– Will not the amending Bill practically do the same?
– The honorable senator will hear my views very briefly ; and I am not sure that he and I will not agree on some points before I finish. Under the law as it stands, I am unable to see how it is possible for us to say that there has been no justification for the feelinggiven expression to in England, as to the discouragement of immigration of the very best type.
– Why, the honorable senator, in his official capacity as a member of the Government. was compelled to expose misrepresentation.
– It was not so much a misrepresentation as it was an economy of veracity which I felt it my duty to point out. If there is one thing in respect to which there ought not to be economy it is that particular quality. We know that criticisms of the kind to which
I refer are often expressed more forcibly than some will think the occasion justifies, and exaggerations may, therefore, have been indulged ‘in. But, allowing for all that, I say fearlessly that in substance the criticism to which this legislation was subjected to in England is amply justified, and it is greatly to be regretted, in the interests of Australia, that occasion should have been given for it. If that were merely my personal view, it might have little weight or influence, but it is the view entertained bv the leader of the party to which Senator Givens belongs, who, in reference to some remark made, I think, by Mr. McLean in another place, said that he would be prepared to agree to a modification to bring this law more into conformity with the intention of Parliament. We know that the present Prime Minister, in speeches of great vehemence and eloquence, time after time, though months ago, and before he came into office, declared that the one pressing demand of Australia was increased immigration.
– Not under contract.
– Honorable members opposite, so far as I can judge from the expressions of their leader, yielded to the universal feeling of Australia that this contract provision demanded modification. I think that it ought to be repealed altogether. That is the view I always entertained. I opposed it originally, and shall continue to oppose it. But, whether it be repealed or not, it should at all events, be greatly modified, and the sting taken out of it. Changes come over men according to the situation in which they are placed. Mr. Deakin gets into office, and all his zeal for immigration evaporates.
– Because the State will not provide the necessary land.
– What has this to do with land? The distribution of land is one means of bringing people here, but of what use is it for honorable senators to talk about the want of land, and to throw the onus on the States Governments, when they close other avenues that might be opened to immigration without land.
– What would the honorable senator do with immigrants if he had them here now?
– Why should we not let them come here if they desire to come under contract to earn their bread and butter?
– What would the honorable senator do with them?
– Give them employment.
– By turning men out of work who are already employed.
– This is not a Bill for the purpose of introducing an immigrationpolicy, under which people will be brought to Australia in thousands. It is one thing to bring people here, and another to shut them out. Senator Henderson would shut out people who desired to come here. I say let those who are willing to come here, come. But what has that got to do with land? There are two different policies of immigration. One is a policy under which people might be introduced in thousands, and the question of the distribution of land is a very important element in considering that policy. The question we are considering now is whether this barrier erected against immigrants coming to Australia from England-
– Under contract.
– I do not care whether the barrier is a contract, an objection because of colour, or anything else. I say that we have erected a barrier against people coming from England to this country, and people whose admission to Australia is desirable from every point of view who are willing to come here themselves, and whose admission need not be associated with any land policy. We have said by our legislation, so far, that these people are not welcome. I say that the leader of the present Government took the view to which I have referred, and we expected that the policy of the Government would be in furtherance of that view, and would throw these barriers down. The solid opinion of Australia was being aroused upon the subiect. with the result that Mr. Deakin proclaimed from many platforms that something should be done. What is it that is proposed to be done under this Bill ? The essential principle of the barrier that Englishmen shall not be permitted to come here under contract, is retained in this Bill. In mv opinion, it is a proper and a prudent thing for persons desiring to come to Australia from England to enter into some kind of bargain, or contract, which will insure them emplovment when thev arrive here. On the other hand, it is an equally proper thing that an em- ployer who desires to have them here shall have some assurance that when he pays their passages, and gives’ them assistance to come here, there shall be for some time a fixed engagement, in order that his outlay shall not ‘be unnecessarily risked. What possible objection can there be to persons entering into an arrangement of that kind? It is surely the best way to insure that immigrants, when they arrive here, shall not become a charge upon the Commonwealth.. It is a perfectly proper thing to enable good colonists to bring others here, who, in their turn, will become good colonists, and may in. future rise, as perhaps their employers have done, from smallness to greatness. We know that many of the men who came here in the past, and have risen in Australia, came in this way.
– Not under contract.
– Yes, thousands of them came to South Australia in that way. The very best of our colonists came out with just sufficient money to defray the expense of getting here. What detriment can it possibly be to a man to have it said that ‘his passage money has been paid, and that he has been given assistance to bring his wife and family with him? These are the sort of people we want here, so long as they are in sound physical health. There is, in my opinion, no justification in fair play to ourselves, and much less to our fellow-subjects in the mother country, for the bar erected against men desiring to come here under contract. However, that principle is still maintained in this Bill, and it is surrounded by most extraordinary entanglements. Such difficulties are thrown in the way, that whilst the existing law is bad because of its directness, this Bill is nearly as bad because of the intricate way in which it proposes to harass and annoy people who are desirous to come out here. For instance, no immigrants can come into this Commonwealth under an oral agreement. If there is to be an agreement at all. it must be a contract in writing. If a colonist returning to England forgetfully, or without a knowledge of this particular law. engages a person to come out here and work on his farm, in his factory, or as his coachman, or anything of that kind, and makes the arrangement verbally with him, the man on coming here will find that he is a prohibited immigrant under this legislation.
– If the contract is not in writing, it is no contract.
– Is not a verbal contract binding?
– It would not be in his case; the employer could not enforce it.
– He could enforce it.
– If would be more difficult to prove than a written contract.
– I admit that. Honorable senators must bear in mind that! this is supposed to be a Bill to remove difficulties in the way of the immigration of these people.
– And it is just for that reason that I intend to vote against the second reading.
– No. surely !
– So is the honorable senator, is he not?
– Is Senator Guthrie?
– I am.
– I am astonished to hear it. Honorable senators would appear to be going to throw over not only the Ministry who are their children, but their leader, ‘Mr. ‘ Watson, their guide, philosopher, and friend.
– Will the Ministry .resign?
– No, they will not resign; they will do whatever they are told. I was pointing out that men coming here under verbal agreement will be regarded as prohibited immigrants. But that is not all. He has not only to approve of the terms of p contracts when a copy is filed with him - ana a copy cannot be filed with him before an agreement is entered into - but in sub-clause 3 the amusing draftsman seems to contemplate approval by the Minister before the contract is made. It says -
If, where the approval is sought after the contract is made, the contract contains a copy of this and the immediately preceding section, and is expressed to be made subject’ thereto-
That implies that approval may be sought before the contract is made. I submit that the approval of the Minister cannot be given before the contract is made. There is no necessity to provide for a case where the approval is sought after the contract is made, because the Minister can only give his approval when a copy of the agreement is filed with him. Then the contract is only to be operative if, in. his opinion, it is not made - in contemplation of or with a view of affecting an industrial dispute.
How is the Minister to say whether it is made “ in contemplation of an industrial dispute”? I am quite at one with my honorable friends that no contract labourers ought to be brought in to supersede the men engaged in an industrial dispute.
– They might be brought in twelve months previously.
– If that could be established, I think it would be a legitimate thing to provide against, but the mischief is that the provision empowers the Minister - uncontrolled, without evidence of any kind, influenced by party feeling, or party considerations - to say, “ I believe that this man has been brought in in anticipation of an industrial dispute; I shall not admit him.” There will be no control over the Minister in that respect. It maybe either a simple means of arrogating a very tyrannical power or a means of subserving some political end. I pass by paragraph b of sub-clause 2 for a minute, in order to. refer to paragraph c, which makes the Minister a judge as to whether -
The remuneration and other terms and conditions of employment are as advantageous to the contract immigrant as those current for workers ofthe same class at the place where the contract is to be performed.
Why should we place the Minister in the position of a Court of Conciliation and Arbitration ?
– In fact, the Minister should be pole-axed ; he should not be intrusted with anything.
– He should not be intrusted witha duty of this kind. When we have Courts of Conciliation and Arbitration, when we have Wages Boards, when every immigrant who joins a trade is under our Conciliation and Arbitration Acts, under our Shops and Factories Acts, and affected by the decrees and decisions of those Courts and Boards,, why should we elevate the Minister into another Court to determine this question on his own mere will., without, if he chooses, hearing either side, without evidence of any sort, to say, simply on his ipse dixit, that the remuneration is not a proper thing ?
– The vast majority of the workers are not under Wages Boards or Arbitration Acts.
– Does not my honorable friend think, from his own point of view, that it is very wrong to give this power to the iMinister.
– It may work either one way or the other.
– Exactly. Is it right or safe to place the Minister in that position?
– Whom else could the honorable senator place in that position ?
– If we want to do it at all let us constitute an independent body - a Board, if you like, or anybody you please - with power to hear evidence on the matter. The Minister has no power to call witnesses.
– Another Board !
– I am no advocate of the multiplication of Boards.
– Would it not be much simpler to do away with the whole thing,?
– I think it would.
– Let it stand as it is.
– No. I believe that the more we can cut down this absolute enactment against bringing in persons from the mother country the better it will be. What is the use of all these hypocritical declarations on the platform as to the need of immigrants, and all that kind of thing? What do they all come to? It is simply humbug.
– We do not want them tocome in under contract.
– I have no objection tothe essence of this legislation. I supported! the principle in the South Australian Act, which I have quoted before. Our Masters and Servants Act contains this most excellent provision, that if persons are brought to the State under contract, and it can be proved that in respect of wages or anything else there has been misrepresentation, the contract is void and they are absolutely free. I am quite willing that a provision of that sort should be enacted by this Parliament. But that is not what the Government are trying to do. There are only two considerations,: Are we bent upon excluding workmen from coming here, or are we desirous simply of saying that they can come here under fair terms ?
– That is not a correct statement of the case. This is a question of their coming here under contract.
– What is the objection to a contract?
– It may mean fearfully low wages.
– If it means fearfully low wages, we have a remedy. As my honorable friend knows, in South Australia we can correct the wrong.
– No. The Act does not void a contract because of low wages, but because of fraud, and misrepresentation.
– That is exactly what it provides for.
– An employer may not make any misrepresentation. He may merely say to the men, “ I offer you soandso,” but he does not say that that is the real wage of the country.
– Why should not the employer offer the men soandso ?
– Then he comes under the provision as to low wages ?
– There are other considerations which affect the question of wages. There is the cost of the man’s introduction. If he gets twice the wages which he received in the mother country, surely that is sufficient ! Of course it may be much less than he would receive after he had gained three or four years’ experience here. Does my honorable friend mean to tell me that a man without experience in .Australia would be entitled to the same wages as a man who had had experience in Australia? I know plenty of pursuits in the open air - in primary productions, and so on - in which, for the first year or two, a man is gaining Australian experience. Surely an employer is not going to pay that man the same high wages as he would pay to a man who had passed all his life under Australian conditions ! I do not wish, however, to go into that aspect of the question. The only thing we have to provide against - and in that respect I am with my honorable friends - is the maiding of a misrepresentation to a man, such as telling him that the wage he is to get is higher than, or equal to, that which is paid to experienced Australians in the same occupation.
– The honorable senator knows how the South Australian Act failed in the case of Fulton’s pipe works.
– I know that it did not fail.
– It absolutely failed. The men had to go to gaol.
– It did not fail, but the men were unable to show that there had been any misrepresentation.
– They were to get half the wages.
– No. I remember the details perfectly well, because I happened1 to be in the case. Either my honorable friend ‘wishes to shut out these people,’ because they are afraid of their competition, or the provisions of the Act are needlessly preventing persons from coming here whom we ought to encourage to come. The contract has to be not merely in writing, but to contain a copy of sections 2 and 3 before it can be approved by the Minister. First of all, you have to establish an .army of labour agents in England familiar with all the details of the Act before “engagements of any sort can he made, and you shut out the possibility of anybody coming here who has entered into a contract without the assistance of that profession against which my honorable friend has so much prejudice - the lawyers,; because nobody would be able to tell a man that it ought to contain those provisions. A market gardener, or a farmer, or a pastoralist, who happened to be in England, or some person in England, who did not know the details of the provisions, might enter into a contract of which, when it came out here, the Minister could not approve because it did not contain sections 2 and 3. All I can say is that whatever may be the case under the existing law, if these provisions be enacted, the Minister will not be troubled with many contracts of which it will be possible for him to approve. Then, again, he can only approve of a contract before this unfortunate contract labourer lands in the Commonwealth. Of course, he mav land at some port of call temporarily - that is afterwards provided for - but if he happens to land on the shores of the Commonwealth, it may be by accident, what is to happen? The contract is absolutely void. There is no opportunity afterwards for approval. The Minister cannot approve of it. Without any chance of being saved from this accident, the immigrant is liable to a penalty not exceeding ^5, and the employer who had nothing to do with’ it, and perhaps did not come down to the ship in time to prevent- this awful offence, is subject to a penalty not exceeding £20. Without benefit of clergy, the employer has to pay any sum the Minister chooses to name, up to £50,to maintain this contract labourer, who has by accident stepped upon these sacred shores, and to send him back to the country whence he came.
– Yet the honorable senator is supporting the Bill !
– I am going to support it for one reason, but I feel that I owe Senator Turley an apology. The Bill is a little better in one respect than the existing law. It is a small step towards bringing down the whole edifice which I hope to see, before many years, crumbling to pieces, and this legislation swept off the statute-book. In Committee, I hope to remedy the defects which I have pointed out.
– The honorable senator has not a hope.
– My honorable friend is apt to jump a little ahead. He is rather impulsive. I have great faith in his judgment when he applies his reasoning powers to a question. When his feelings only are consulted, he is apt to go wrong, but when he applies the logic ‘that resides in. the back of his brain he goes right. Clause 6 of this Bill is certainly the most singular production that could have emanated from the brain of the most ingenious of draftsmen. There are other provisions, in regard to which I do not wish to occupy the attention of honorable senators, because we can’ deal with them in Committee. Those to which I have referred constitute the substance of the Bill. But the’re is one feature of clause itto which attention may be directed before I come to the point which induces me to support the Bill. The clause says -
This Act shall not be construed to apply to domestic servants or personal attendants accompanying their employer to Australia.
I understand . that” accompanying their employer to Australia” applies to domestic servants, and that the Bill is notto apply to domestic servants under any circumstances. The proyision is ambiguous. It can be remedied bv inserting the word “ to “ before “ personal attendants,” so as to make the clause read -
This Act shall not be construed to apply to domestic servants or to personal attendants.
I presume that the Bill is not meant to provide that domestic servants are not to be admitted unless they accompany their employer.
– Undoubtedly; if we were to open that door we might as well do away with the whole law.
– A man can go home and bring back with him a whole flock of domestic servants. What a nice temptation that is to put before batchelors, who maintain establishments of their own. I do not object to the reference to personal attendants, ‘ because they are supposed to accompany their employers. With respect to paragraph b of sub-clause 2 of clause s, I see that the Minister has given notice of an amendment which makes an improvement in the draftsmanship. When that amendment is moved I shall support it. I observe that the condition with respect to the difficulty of an employer obtaining within the Commonwealth a worker “of at least skill and ability “ is not to apply to British people or persons of British descent. That is not very much, but it is a distinct amelioration of the present law ; and because of the presence of that provision in this Bill, with very great reluctance on account of other provisions which, I think, largely detract from the benefits conferred, I shall support the second reading.
– It is a little sop to sentiment.
– I do not complain of that expression. It is a sop to sentiment. That is something of value. Yesterday we were dealing with sops to sentiment in relation to Japan. I think it is of far greater importance that we should, even putting it in that way, administer these sops to sentiment in relation to people in the mother country, who are our own flesh’ and blood’. Even putting it upon that ground, I think the amendment is an advantage. But it will be an advantage in other ways - that it will relieve the Minister of a duty which it seems to me it would be impossible for any Minister to discharge conscientiously. How can he possibly say when a man comes here under contract that a person of equal ability and skill could not be found in the Commonwealth to perform the duties for which he is brought ? Such a thing is a travesty of legislation. But with this provision regarding people of British descent in our law, that difficulty will be removed. That is a very great advantage, because it will enable unofficial Australians going to England to combat statements which have been made, and to say with truth that whatever obstacles have been thrown in the way of people from England coming to Australia to better themselves - and to better us, for the matter of that - we do not desire them to be subject to all the difficulties which we are determined to throw in the way of other and less desirable races. That, at any rate, is something better than the bald position of the existing law. Instead of providing that persons under contract to perform manual labour shall not be admitted, with a proviso that the Minister may admit them if satisfied that they possess special skill, we now state that the Minister shall not inquire whether there are in the Commonwealth workmen of equal ability to persons coming from Great Britain or persons of British descent. These are the views which I entertain in regard to this measure. I should hare liked to see the total repeal of the contract provisions,, with a clear law dealing with the two things that we are all agreed should be provided against - namely, the importation of men to influence a strike or an industrial dispute, and of persons under false pretences. It is not a question of low wages to which two persons agree honestly and fairly, but of misrepresentation. Those are the two things we require to guard against. Subject to these, I think the present law ought to be swept from the statute-book altogether. Apparently we can only deal with the matter by instalments. We can, however, make advances towards a better position of things. This is a very slight advance; and if it assists us to rehabilitate ourselves in England, even to a slight degree, I think we ought to .welcome it. I am sorry, from that point of view, to hear some of my honorable friends opposite say that they are not prepared to make even that measure of concession, and mean to vote against the second reading of the Bill.
– I may as well state, to begin with, that I intend to support the second reading of this Bill ; but I am awfully sorry, after the speech of Senator Symon, that I am in accord with him in making that announcement. I have listened with very great attention, to his speech, and have to say now that I support the second reading of the measure with much greater reluctance than I should have done had I not heard it. Honorable members on this side of the
Chamber have again been misrepresented by Senator Symon.
– We ought to be used to it by this time 1
– We ought; but the repetition of an idea that must appear to be absolutely monstrous to every intelligent man, is what I cannot understand. We, as labour members!,, have again practically been accused of desiring, by this class of legislation, to prevent what we recognise as being a needful element in Australia - namely, the element of immigration. Senator Symon has practically told us that that is our attitude at this moment. Personally, I absolutely repudiate any such intention. I am as anxious as any man in Australia to-day that there should be an inflow of immigration. I believe that we have vast sources of wealth, and a country capable of carrying teeming millions of people. Under those conditions, I should regard myself as an imbecile were I to attempt to prevent legitimate immigration to the Commonwealth. I know that Senator Gray desires immigration to Australia, and so do I ; but his views and my views in this respect are, I am afraid, as far apart as the two poles. The honorable senator desires that we should open our doors unrestrictedly to anybody and everybody, so long as they can be employed to the profit of the capitalists. That is unquestionably the ‘desire of the honorable senator from the bottom of his heart.
– No, no.
– My desire is to see Australia filled with industrious people, under conditions which will enable them to hold up their heads in the sunlight, which is about the only honest thing we have to-day. What is the position of Senator Symon? That honorable senator’s speech in support of the second reading is a greater condemnation of the Bill than any that will be uttered by its declared opponents.
– - Senator Symon is supporting the Bill only because of the amendment of which he has given notice.
– I do not knowwhy Senator Symon is. supporting the Bill. In one breath the honorable senator tells us that he believes in restrictions which prevent the importation of labour in order to affect industrial disputes ; and, in the next breath’, he tells us that he is prepared to wipe out every vestige of legislation that has been enacted in this connexion. There must be some inconsistency somewhere. My experience in regard to contract labour impels me to do my level best to prevent any such dangerous system being followed in Australia in the future. In 1889 some of the employers of New South Wales began to introduce contract labour. One instance was that of the South Kembla mine, in the Illawarra district, the proprietors of which managed to engage under contract about 160 miners in Yorkshire and Scotland. The conditions of the contract were simply a reversion to the old binding slavery that was known so well in the early days of English mining. One condition of the agreement was that when these men entered Australia they were to be practically bound to the mining company for a period of twelve months, although their wages might prove to be only half those paid to men following the same occupation within the Colony. The result was that these poor fellows were absolutelystranded in Illawarra, and had to appeal to public charity to enable them to repay the passage money advanced -by the employers. This had to be done before these miners could stand up as free men and demand the ruling wages. I feel satisfied that there are honorable senators who would like to enable employers to import labour, irrespective of whether there may be thousands of men in Australia out of employment. In order to find places for the 160 miners engaged iti Yorkshire and Scotland, the Illawarra Company had to discharge 160 of the men already at work, and the latter were thus thrown upon the labour market of New South Wales. These are the sort of conditions which certain honorable senators would like to see revived. Can it occur to any one that we, who represent the Labour Party, would do anything to prevent honest contracts with those possessed of special skill, provided such special skill cannot be obtained within the Commonwealth ? We should be worse than maniacs to raise any objection, and we have never attempted to do so. Senator Fraser may laugh ; but ‘I tell the honorable senator that what we have tried to prevent, and what, I hope, we shall continue to try to prevent, and successfully, is the deceiving of men whom it is sought to engage abroad.
– Had the man who came here with the horses special skill?
– There may be much special skill, unknown to Senator Fraser, in the management of horses.
– The six hatters had no special skill.
– I do not desire to go into the question of the six hatters ; I regard that as a foolish incident.
– The honorable senator does not like to hear about the six hatters.
– r am sure I have no objection to hear about the six hatters; and it would be well if the facts of that case were known.
– The whole history of the case is set out in a report which I have here, and which the honorable senator may read if he thinks fit.
– Let us hear the report.
– Hear, hear ; let it appear in Hansard.
– The facts of the case have already appeared in Hansard once or twice.
– I do not think this report has.
– It will not take long to read the whole of the report, and it will enable honorable senators to thoroughly appreciate the facts. The report is as follows: -
THE SIX HATTERS.
The Collector of Customs, Sydney, reported on 3rd December, 1Q02, that six British hat makers were arriving on the Orontes under agreement, and asked if they should be prevented from landing under section 3 of the Immigration RestrictionAct.
In reply, the Collector was instructed to make full inquiries, and if it was found that the. men were under contract, landing would have to he refused. The official then reported that he had obtained a copy of the agreement between Joseph Jowles, one of the men, and Mr. Anderson, of the Sydney Hat Works, and that it clearly brought Jowles within the paragraph referred to above. Landing of the men in possession of such an agreement would, therefore, Have to be refused.
In the meantime, letters were received by the Department from the Australasian Association of Felt Hatters objecting to men being allowed toland who were under contract.
– Is the honorable senator in order in inflicting on honorable senators the whole of this detailed report, which has been handed to him by Senator Playford?
– Senator Henderson is perfectly in order in reading the report. Tt will be remembered that many honorable senators asked that’ it should be read; why, I do not know. We have had the facts related to us half-a-dozen times; but still, the honorable senator is in order.
– The report proceeds: -
On the 5th December, the Secretary, Department of External Affairs, telegraphed instructions to the Collector of Customs, Sydney, that, as all the men had agreements similar to that of Jowles, they must be treated as prohibited immigrants.
A further letter was received from the Hatters Association, protesting against the landing of the men, and stating that they had on their books about twenty men who were unable to obtain employment, and that 60 per cent, of their members had not averaged five days per week for the past four months. Attention was directed to six more hatters who were arriving on the Oruba.
Mr. Anderson applied, on the nth December, that the men be exempted from the provision of the Act, on account of their possessing special skill in body making and finishing, a branch of the manufacture requiring special skill. This application was accompanied by statutory declarations by the applicant and his foreman. Representations were now made by the Premier of New South Wales for the release of the hat- . ters, as the prevention of their landing was arousing dissatisfaction. The Prime Minister replied that the men were prohibited immigrants within the meaning of the Act, and he had no option but to exclude them until exempted for special skill. Application for exemption had only been received on the nth December, and thematter had to be dealt with according to law, and impartially.
Application was then made by Mr. Anderson for exemption of six men on board the Oruba. The Prime Minister exempted the men who came by the Oruia on the 13th December, on the following grounds : -
Mr. Anderson had invested £30,000 in his hat factory, and estimated that when the same was in full work, that it would be necessary to employ seventy-two skilled artisans to keep the other employes (at least 200) fullyoccupied. Mr. Anderson had advertised in the Age on the29th August for skilled men, but had received no replies. The secretary of the union had set out Mr. Anderson’s requirements, but no one had shown any desire to accept the employment offered. According to the information supplied, it appeared to be impossible for Mr. Anderson to obtain the number of skilled men that he required in Australia. If Mr. Anderson employed all the skilled men out of engagement at that time, he would still be about fifty men short.
The Prime Minister regretted that the application for exemption had been delayed, as if the information had been furnished before, the delavs and troubles would have been avoided.
Instructions were then given to the officials that the men on the Orontes should be allowed to land.
-Col. Gould. - After they had been in prison for a week.
– It was their own fault.
– The report continues : -
On the 20th December the men arriving by the Oruba were also exempted, and on the day of their arrival in Sydney, 21st December, landed without obstacle. The men on the Orontes would have been treated the same way’ if the employer had seen fit to apply for exemption, and furnish necessary information in proper time.
I desire only to add to that that we have never attempted to prevent, and are not now desirous of preventing, such things being done, but we do desire to prevent men being deceived by employers and being brought here’ under conditions iess advantageous than those ruling in Australia. I object to any attempt to bring men here under contract merely for the purpose of supplying the places of others already in Australia, who may be objectionable because they happen to be members of some organization. That is a kind of thing I shall always be found opposed to. I shall support the second reading of the Bill, because I believe that its provisions will at least enable us to meet the position as I see it at the present time:
– I wish to offer a very strong protest against the introduction of this measure.. I do not think thatit isrequired. It cannot be said that in connexion with any occupation or profession followed in the. Commonwealth there is any need for the introduction of contract labour.
– Not for the sugarfields ?
– No.I ask honorable senators whether there are any openings for medical men to make a decent living in the Commonwealth at the present time? Is not the legal profession overcrowded? Are there not dozens of briefless barristers who, having passed their examinations, cannot make a living ?
– What has that to do with the question ?
– We know that solicitors are pining away in their offices because they have nothing to do.
– I am not pining away.
– No. it is ‘the Senate that is Dining under the influence of the honorable and learned senator’s oratory. There are too many solicitors in the Commonwealth without work to do. With the exception of those who are most skilled, architects can get very little to do, and the ranks of musical teachers are overcrowded. I am asked what this has to do with the question, and I remind honorable senators that in the Commonwealth education is practically free. ‘ If the conditions of the working classes employed in manual labour as wharf labourers, coal lumpers, navvies, and artisans of every kind, are not such as men care to labour under, we can be sure that fathers of families in Australia will do their best to have their children educated so that they may get out of the ranks of those labourers. If the conditions under which manual labourers have to work are irksome and unsatisfactory, we know that parents will half-starve themselves in the effort to enable their children to get into the professions. What is the object of this Bill? It is a Bill to introduce contract labour into the Commonwealth. We know that in every large city in the Commonwealth - Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane - there is an unemployed question. Only the other day the Queensland Legislative Assembly passed a vote of£7,000 to endeavour in some way to relieve the condition of the unemployed in that State. Honorable senators will find, if they peruse any labour newspaper published in the Commonwealth, that there are plenty of men available for labour in all the industries, including the sugar industry. I believe that this Bill has been introduced to provide for the introduction of contract labour for the sugar industry in Northern Queensland.
– I hope so.
– That appears to me to be the reason for the introduction of the Bill. There are 7,000 kanakas in Queensland - the majority of whom are to be sent away from the Commonwealth within the next few years, although those who are married and have families will no doubt be permitted to end their days here. I looked upon the legislation proposed to exclude coloured labour from Queensland as something which would prove a boon to the workers, and find employment for many men who are scattered about Queensland, and can find nothing to do.
– Does the honorable senator really believe that this Bill is intended to provide contract labour for the sugar industry ?
– I do. I believe that one of the first matters dealt with under it will be a contract entered into for the introduction of European labour into Queensland for the sugar industry. It cannot be doubted that the introduction of coloured labour into Queensland lowered the standard of living of all workers throughout that State. When an employer could get a kanaka for £20 per year, he thought he was doing a fair thing in giving a white man double that sum. If Senator Dobson and those who sympathize with his views can succeed inlowering wages in one industry, it is an economic fact that the result must be a lowering of the scale of wages in every other industry.
– I understand that, under the Queensland Act, the kanakas can be employed only in certain kinds of labour.
– They do all kinds of things, from weeding the cane, which some planters consider unnecessary, to blacksmithing; because the law is evaded, and it is impossible to have a policeman always on the spot. The low wages paid in the sugar industry had the result of lowering the wages of the workers throughout Queensland, and it possibly also had a similar effect, though not to the same extent, throughout the Commonwealth. I should consider 25s. per week and keep, a low and unfair remuneration for work on the plantations in Queensland, and if contract labour is brought into the Commonwealth to work on the Queensland plantations at such a rate of wages it will undoubtedly affect the rate of wages in every industry in the Commonwealth. When we passed legislation giving the sugar planters a protection of £6 per ton on sugar, and the farmers a bonus, we acted very generously towards the sugar industry. Whenever the rate of wages was questioned in this House when we were dealing with that legislation, honorable senators agreed that in that particular industry it would not be too much to pay 35s. a week and tucker, because the labourers would require to be away from their homes and families, and the accommodation and food provided for them would not be of the best.
-Col. Gould. - And the work is trying.
– The work is nodoubt trying. It does not appear in the Bill, but, from conversations round about we can gather that the proposal now made is to introduce contract European labour. The Bill is like its companion measure, with which we dealt yesterday, hasty legislation. Before being brought forward such a measure should be freely advertised throughout the Commonwealth so that the workers in the various States may have an opportunity to pronounce an opinion upon it. . No State Legislature would dare to pass a measure of this kind, providing for the introduction of contract labour. And why ? It is because its members are nearer to the people. They are shoulder to shoulder with them every day. And herein lies one of the dangers of the Federation. We are away from our States - representatives of Queensland are thousands of miles away from the sugar plantations of that State, and because honorable senators are so far removed from their constituents, they are disposed to do what they would not think of doing in their own State.
– Then what will become of us when we get to Dalgety or Lyndhurst? Would the honorable senator approve of the introduction of contract labour if the sugar planters combined for the purpose, and having advertised for men could not get a sufficient number. Remember there are 4,000 white men required for the industry.
– If Senator Dobson takes that view, it is open to him to move the insertion of a provision in this Bill that, before any firm, Government, or individual can introduce contract labour into the Commonwealth, due notice of the intention shall be given, and the Minister must be convinced th’at labourers have been advertised for, and the persons desiring to introduce them under contract have been unsuccessful in their efforts to obtain them in Australia.
– We do not want contract labour here at all; it is fettered labour.
– I am merely pointing out what Senator Dobson should do to give effect to the views he has expressed. I say that all the labour required can be obtained in the Commonwealth. Let it be understood that we who may claim to specially represent the working classes of Australia; we, who have worked at the bench and in the mine, are prepared to allow Italians* Frenchmen, Germans, and any other Europeans to come here, provided they come as free men. That is the stipulation we made - that the labourer should land in Australia a free man. That is the stipulation we made as affecting the Britisher, and I think we should continue to make it. There is a provision in this Bill to permit Britishers to come in here without any restriction whatever.
– No, no. They, cannot come in with a view to affecting an industrial dispute or at rates of wages less than those current in Australia.
– Let us examine this proposal for a moment. “Under the Bill the Minister must approve of the contract, if it is shown that the employers have difficulty in obtaining within the Commonwealth! workers of at least the same skill and ability, and he must permit Britishers to come in.
– No; the contract must not be in contemplation of an industrial dispute, or for less than the current rates of remuneration in Australia, even where people of our own kith and kin are concerned.
– At the last election we went to the country, and to-morrow I should be prepared to stake my return upon the question that, if a Britisher wishes to come in, he shall come in as a free man, and make his contract after he has landed. On every platform the question was raised, and we were charged with -objecting to the introduction of persons of our own kith and kin. We pointed out that there was no objection to any Britishers coming in, provided that they made their contract after they arrived. .We pointed to the fact, as Senator de Largie’ did yesterday, that in every year thousands of Britishers are arriving in the Commonwealth, and that no obstacle is put in the way of their introduction.
– In many cases thev cannot get employment.
– That is very true. -This Bill may form a part of the Prime Minister’s .immigration policy. I would point out how erroneous that view is, if he thinks that he is going to bring about prosperity by introducing contract labour into any industry. If we wish to attract population, we should endeavour to follow the programme which that eminent statesman, Mr. Richard Seddon, has been able to put in for.;e. New Zealand is attracting immigrants on- account of the prosperity which prevails therein. We, however,’ cannot keep the people we already possess. Every now and again those who can afford to go away depart, in many cases with a certain amount of capital. If the prosperity of the Commonwealth is to be advanced, the States Parliaments will have to modify their laws, in order to enable people to get upon the land and make a living, out of it. it the land laws of the States be amended in that direction, we shall attract immigrants ; but if we allow contract labour to be introduced into any industry, we shall undoubtedly enhance the difficulties of the working classes who are already here, and cannot get employment. We shall drive away more people than we are now driving away. What we want, in order to attract immigrants, if I may be permitted to refer to the matter, by way of illustration, is a high protective Tariff. If the working classes had fair conditions, reasonable hours, and good wages, we should have no difficulty in connexion with any industry. I hope that if the Bill gets into Committee, as I am afraid it will, an honorable senator will propose the insertion of a clause to the effect that the Government shall furnish to the Parliament an annual, return, showing the names of the firms, corporations, or individuals who have introduced contract labour, the number of contract labourers who have been brought in, the places to which they have been taken, and the work for which they have been engaged.
– With an official report as to the state of the trade ?
– And the wages paid.
– I think that the terms of the contract might reasonably be embodied in the return.
– During the last twenty years not 500 contract labourers have been brought in. I do not know that 200 have been introduced.
– The object of this Bill is to permit contract labourers to be brought in.
– If they were not brought in when there was no exclusion, what is the danger to be feared when there is exclusion?
– I believe that, sooner or later, we as a Parliament will regret our act, if we pass a measure of this kind. I do not believe that it has been asked for by any one except sugar planters in a large way, who want a number of men to be employed in groups. It is not asked for by the average employer, and certainly it is not asked for by the working classes. The men by whom it is asked for - the planters on a large scale - are not those whom we ought to encourage. The men whose presence we require, in order to create a great Commonwealth, are not those who employ themselves), “their sons’, .and one or two hands, but those who cultivate a small block of land.
– What we want are producers, whether small or great.
– In modern times, no country has succeeded by the employment of a small number of large planters, with a large quantity of gang labour. If we do succeed, it will be by the encouragement of small men. I submit that this Bill will injure the smaller planters, and do a very great deal of harm to the working classes throughout the Commonwealth.
– I am quite sure that every honorable senator desires to make the people of this community as prosperous as he possibly can. I believe that, if it were thought by honorable senators on this side, or by the Government, that the Bill would do to our people the serious injury which is feared by Senator Higgs, it would have very little chance of being passed. I desire that all our people shall be fully and satisfactorily employed, because no community can be truly great unless , its people are employed remuneratively, so far as that is possible. I do not think that the Bill is open to the very serious objection which has been taken to it by some honorable senators. Under our restrictive law as it stands, there is a possibility of introducing, contract labour under certain conditions, and although this Bill may apparently increase the possibility, still it is hedged round with such precautions as would prevent its provisions from being used for, an improper and unwise purpose. It leaves the door open ‘to the people of our own kith and kin - to British subjects born in the United Kingdom, or to the descendants of such persons. It is only fair and reasonable that if a discrimination is to be made it should be in favour of people of our own kith and kin. We are all proud of belonging to an Empire which we hope will always hold a leading place among the nations, and in which humanitarian considerations will al ways. lie uppermost in the framing of legislation. Tt is only fair for us to recognise all British subjects born in the United Kingdom, or the descendants of such persons as our brothers, and to admit them to our community. But even then every precaution is taken in this Bill to protect the workers in the Commonwealth, because the contract has to be submitted to and approved by the Minister. He has to be satisfied as to the terms and conditions of the contract, and before- he can give his approval he has to be satisfied that it is not made “ in contemplation of, or with the view of, affecting an industrial dispute.” It will be remembered that the primary object of our legislation, in regard to contract labour, was to prevent the introduction of a large number of men at a time when an industrial dispute was in existence, and so give employers an’ opportunity of defeating what might be the legitimate aspirations of their late workmen. Those provisions are still retained in our law. and apply to an Englishman as well as to a foreigner. But this Bill will give a further advantage. By paragraph c of sub-clause 2 of clause 5 it will prevent the introduction of men with a view to the cutting down of wages. If in Melbourne an employer wishes to bring out men under contract, he will have to satisfy the Minister that the contract immigrant will enjoy the same remuneration and other terms and conditions of employment as local workmen.
– After he has flooded the market, will he pay current wages?
D- The term of the contract will have to be specified, and the Minister will have to be satisfied that it will be such as will afford the contract immigrant a reasonable opportunity “ in which to establish himself in the community, and will not enable the employer to dismiss him unless he be willing to accept lower wages.
– Employers can bring out men, and after flooding the market cut down the wages.
– The Bill provides that an employer shall not import contract labour “ in contemplation of or with a view of affecting, an industrial dispute,” or subject to conditions less advantageous than those which are enjoyed by local workers. Senator Givens entertains the fear that “employers will flood the market and cut down wages, but he is willing to allow fifty or 100 men who are receiving 30s. a week in England to come out to Australia to be employed at £2 a week. But where a man is brought out under contract at a wage of, say, £2 a week, with an engagement lasting for a number of years, who should object? No contract labour can be brought out without a great deal of expense, inconvenience, and risk to the employer. It is not reasonable to assume that any employer, or body of employers, would bring out a number of men to flood the market and bring down wages. They would, by doing so, not only run the risk of losing their money, but I am not sure that they would not run a great risk of prosecution for conspiracy. This Bill is surrounded! by restrictions ‘to protect the interests of those who are already in the Commonwealth. But it is impossible for Australia to achieve the destiny which we all hope and believe is in store for her, unless she gets rid of some portion of the restrictive legislation she has in force at present.
– The honorable senator should not talk nonsense. There is no restrictive legislation.
.- Yet Senator Givens himself says that he would not allow any man to come out from England under contract to do work in Australia !
– That is not restriction on the Commonwealth.
.- We want people to come out with a prospect of being able to maintain themselves for a reasonable time. I should be better pleased if we had an opportunity to deal with this question of immigration on a far larger scale. I should like to see opportunities given to persons to settle on the soil of this country, and become producers ; because, without that, we cannot have a material increase of employment in the cities and towns, or an addition to the industries of the Commonwealth. Unfortunately, however, we have not control of the lands. All we can do is to say to the States Parliaments. “ Make provision to put people on the land, and we will see that they are brought out.”
– We han ‘do more than that ) we can impose a stiff graduated land tax.
– That is another error.
– Now who is opposed to immigration?
.- The States Parliaments can take any land they think fit from people who own it at present, so long as they take it honestly, and pay for it. But I do not desire to discuss that question. I simply say that we have not the opportunity of dealing with the subject in a way that I think is desirable. .In
Canada, the Government’s in a better position than we are in that respect, because it has large areas of unalienated land. But while we are in our present position, are we to say to a man who has capital : “ You can come to Australia if you like, but you will have to take your chance of finding employment on the spot, and subject to such restrictive legislation as you find in force “ ? The more people we have in the country, the more employment there must lae for our population. No man can come to Australia without requiring some work to be done for him. Take the case of a man who comes out under contract, and earns £2 or ^3 a week. He spends the money which he earns amongst the members of the community. He creates work for other people. . Senator Higgs has said that we have too many doctors, too manybriefless barristers, and too many solicitors who are pining for want of employment. Why is that? Simply because there are so many people in the community who wish to put their sons into what they look upon as genteel professions. They do not give them a chance of earning a living in occupations where their services are likely to be required by the community. Many people appear to think that there is some charm in making a man a lawyer or a doctor. It is considered that it gives him a sort of position in the community. People are not so anxious to make their sons mechanics, following occupations where they could do good for themselves and for the country. It is not sufficiently recognised that there is a dignity in labour. I do not care what occupation a man follows, so long as he is working honestly for his living.
– There are many people who talk about the “ dignity “ who do not care about the “ labour.”
– I am aware of that, and think it is an unfortunate circumstance. If we pass such immigration legislation as will encourage people to come to this country, no matter whether as workers or employers, we db good to the Commonwealth.
– We require to induce the States to provide land for immigrants to settle on.
.- That is the best solution of the difficulty we can have ; but we must go step by step, and this Bill is a step in the right direction. I would rather see the Bill very much wider than it is, now in its scope; but even as it stands it will be of great value. I should have no objection to a return being tabled every twelve months, giving the names of people who have taken advantage of this measure, the number of employes they have brought into the com. munity,and the position of these people at the end of twelve months. I believe the result would be a revelation to honorable senators who opposed the’ Bill. I acknowledge that they oppose it honestly, but they are mistaken. Such a return would show the beneficial effects of this measure upon the community in. general. The Bill affords no opportunity to flood the market with labour. It gives no opportunity to introduce immigrants under unreasonable conditions. There are Factories Acts and Wages Boards in several of the States.
– They do not affect half the labour in Australia.
.- Let the States be satisfied that such laws are good, and they will pass them. The working people of this country have the greatest amount of voting power, and if they only choose to work together they can influence legislation in any direction they see fit.
– Does not the honorable senator know that the working people have ‘scarcely any voting power in the Legislative Councils ?
– They have in many of the States. Under t;he Commonwealth, the working classes have the fullest opportunities of exercising their rights. There could not be a freer Constitution than ours. It is true that some of the States have nominee Legislative Councils, but the working classes are not without influence in them. Now, I should like to direct attention to one or two points connected with the language of this Bill. I think it would be wise to make it clear that immigrants who come out tinder the measure are not subjected to the dictation test. Under clause 6, i’t is provided that if a contract immigrant lands in Australia before the Minister has approved of the terms of the contract it becomes void, and the immigrant is liable to a penalty of £5. I do not think it is a reasonable thing that a man who is induced to come to Australia should be rendered liable to such a penalty simply because his contract is void owing to an oversight on the part of his employer. The hardship of imposing a penalty on the immigrant was pointed out by Senator Symon, and also by the Minister, but the latter remarked that there was some recompense, because it was within the power of the Executive to direct the payment of a certain sum of money, not exceeding£50, to the immigrant. That sum is not intended to recoup the immigrant for any penalty that may be inflicted upon him, but is really meant to maintain him until he can find suitable employment, or to enable him, if he so chooses, to return to the country whence he came. Even if the intention were to recoup the immigrant, the proper course would be to render the employer, and the employer only, liable to a penalty, and not by a round-about means to make him liable for a fine supposed to be inflicted on the immigrant. We are all agreed that we do not desire to give people in other parts of the world opportunity to misrepresent the intentions or desires of the Commonwealth Parliament. But there will be a very serious hindrance to the removal of these impressions which, rightly or wrongly, prevail, if our laws indicate that a man, by a simple omission on the part of his employer, may become liable to a penalty. Such a provision is utterly contrary to all the principles of British fair play and justice; and I hope that, if the Bill goes into Committee, this objectionable feature will be removed. I raise no word of objection to a penalty being imposed on an employer who fails to comply with the law, because, if he takes advantage of the legislation, it is his duty to make himself acquainted with its provisions. As to the importation of men under contract in case of an industrial dispute, I have already pointed out that the Bill requires the Minister to be satisfied that an agreement is not made in contemplation of any such event. If, however, a Minister be misled, and he assents to a contract which violates this provision, the Bill later on enables him to protect those who are interested or concerned in an industrial dispute. In clause 9 power is given to the Governor-General to publish an order in the Gazette to the effect that, after a date specified, the immigration of contract immigrants in connexion with, or in contemplation of, an industrial dispute, shall be prohibited, subject to exceptions and limitations expressed in the order. That clause furtherprovides that from the date so specified, contract immigrants shall be subject to the exceptions and limitations within the meaning of the Immigration Restriction Act of 1901. By this clause any section of the working community, who are engaged in what they regard as a legitimate industrial dispute, are absolutely protected against any mistake on the part of the Minister. That provision must be regarded as most reasonable; and I cannot conceive of any objection to it on the part of honorable senators, who, I assume, are desirous to promote the prosperity of the community-. The only weak point in the Bill, from a labour stand-point, is the fact that the Bill makes an exception in regard to our own kith and kin. In the case of men who are not our own countrymen, the Minister has to be satisfied that there is difficulty on the part of an employer in obtaining within the Commonwealth workers of at least equal skill and ability. This provision, and this provision only, does not operate in the case of men from England who are British subjects bom in the United Kingdom, or their decendants born in any part of the British Empire. I have already urged upon honorable senators the fairness and justice of working amicably with our own fellow countrymen, who, after all, are only separated from us by an imaginary border, seeing that we are all citizens of the British Empire. It would be as unreasonable to say that a working man in New South Wales shall not be employed in Victoria, as to say that the British subject born in Great Britain shall not be employed in Australia. The principle is exactly the same; and I wish honorable senators to realize that the people of the Empire are one. If we desire to keep the British Empire in its present position, and to protect all British coasts and territories, we must be imbued with the knowledge that we are one people with one destiny. When this Federation was formed that was the cry that was raised ; and the phrase, “ One’ people, one destiny,” should take a far broader scope than that which was then contemplated. Australia is not an independent country, with ideals, principles, and obiects hostile or foreign to those of Great Britain. Throughout the Empire there are advocates of every possible means of ameliorating the condition of the working classes ; and the legislation of
Great Britain is in advance of that of other portions of the world in its humanitarian aspects, and its efforts to upraise the people, as far as possible, to a position of independence. While I know that in Great Britain there is great poverty and distress, I also know that in the United States there is equal, or even greater, poverty. I urge on honorable senatorsnot to make any distinction against our own kith and kin, no matter what we may do in reference to the people of other nations. Australia has a territory of something like 3,000,000 square miles.
– How much of the land is fertile?
– The territory under our dominion represents 35 per cent, of the British Empire, and over that vast expanse is scattered a population of 4,000,000 souls. Do honorable . senators mean to say that we have no room for immigrants ?
– No one says that; but to speak of Australia as consisting of 3,000,000 square miles is misleading, because only a small portion of the territory is fit for the use of man.
– I decline to subscribe to that doctrine. I know there are men who say that nothing more than a narrow fringe of Australia is fit for settlement; but, as a matter of fact, we find that, as population increases, that fringe becomes wider and wider.
– Is there any short ness of labour in Australia how?
– I do not say there is at the present time ; I am not arguing that point. Do not honorable senators know that some of the most unfertile and unlikely looking country in America has been turned into smiling fields by the magic of irrigation ?
– How can we irrigate Central Australia?
– In South Australia arid countryhas been rendered fertile by the use of phosphates - country on which there is a rainfall of only nine inches per annum.
– When people say that Australia is over-populated, they make a great mistake.
– Nobody says that.
.- The State of Victoria, which is capable of maintaining the whole present population of Aus- tralia, consists of only 87,000 square miles out of a total of . 3,000,000 square miles.
– All the land is not like that of Victoria.
.- That may be so, but a great deal of the land in Australia is quite equal to any that can be found in Victoria. If honorable senators desire to see what can be done by. irrigation, let them visit the Mallee district in the State I have just mentioned!; and similar results might be obtained throughout the whole of Australia.
– Where could the water be obtained to irrigate Central Australia, where there are no mountains or rivers ?
.- Difficulties are very often placed in the way in order to teach us how to overcome them. A man who expects to have everything at his hand is of little service to the world at large.
– But some honorable senators object to railways to open up the country.
.- That is not the question with which we are now dealing.
– The honorable senator has described the centre of Australia as consisting of barren sand.
.- I say that Australia is capable of maintaining an immense population; and we are untrue to our position as Australians if we malign the country by conveying to others a contrary impression. In the United States there are millions of acres which, so far as nature is concerned, appeared absolutely useless ; and yet they are being used in the service of man at the present time. The United States cover an area no greater than that of the Commonwealth; and yet the former has a population of something like 80,000,000, with immigrants pouring in at the rate of over 1,000.000 a year.
– Despite all the restrictions !
– Does Senator Gould think that his remarks are relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill ?
.- I am endeavouring to show that there is plenty of room in Australia for anv number of immigrants.
– The Bill is intended to remove certain restrictions.
.- It is true that small restrictions have been removed. The question hasbeen raised whether this Bill is not introduced in the in- terests of the sugar-planters of Northern Queensland. I do not believe that to be the fact. The probability is that if the sugarplanters desired to take advantage of the provisions of the Bill they will do so; but unless the intending immigrants are British subjects, or descendants of people born in the United Kingdom, they cannot be admitted unless it is shown that there are not available in the Commonwealth persons of equal skill and ability. We have heard it suggested that numbers of people may be introduced from Southern Europe for that purpose, but before that can be done the Minister must be satisfied that there are no persons already in Australia available and capable of discharging the duties which those people would be called upon to. discharge after their arrival ‘ in the Commonwealth. If I ask honorable senators whether they desire to see the sugar industry carried on successfully, they will tell me that they do, and I say that they must afford opportunities to make it successful. When, under this Bill, labourers who are not British subjects cannot be introduced under contract to work on the cane-fields of Northern Queensland unless the Minister is satisfied that there are no labourers in Australia available and capable of doing the work, it must be admitted that they are amply protected. If we have not men in the Commonwealth available and capable of doing this work, will it not be the height of folly to refuse to permit the introduction of others who will be able to make the industry the success it ought to be ? Nature has done all that she could for us, and we should do all that we possibly can to make the most of our natural advantages. We should be prepared to give our own kith and kin the same opportunities that we claim for ourselves. I would ask honorable senators opposite what they would say if they desired to enter Great Britain to carry on their occupation, and were told that they would not be allowed to do so? Would they not talk loudly of the narrrowmindedness of the people of Great Britain who would shut out their own kith and kin ? Yet some honorable senators object to allow people from Great Britain to enter Australia under contract to earn an honest livelihood. They say that those who desire to come here must do so on their own responsibility, and take their chance; or, in other words, that thriftless and’ workless persons from the old country may enter Australia and join the thriftless and workless in the Commonwealth. Those are the men we are asked in some quarters to encourage, and I can only say that I should be very sorry to see in this country the thriftless class of people whom America receives with open arms. The report of the Agents-General has already been referred to, and I ask honorable senators to bear in mind that it was asked for by the Government of the Commonwealth, who recognised the fact that difficulties existed in connexion with the introduction of immigrants to this country. The Agents-General say in their report - and it cannot be too often repeated, or too strongly impressed upon the people of this country-
In endeavouring to indicate the forces which mould public opinion in Great Britain, we should be neglecting our duty if we failed to give adequate weight to the far-reaching effect exercised by the Language Test and Contract Clause of the “ Immigration Restriction Act.” These have proved veritable stumbling-blocks to the work of the Agents-General, and have had a ‘ most prejudicial influence upon public opinion in every part o”f the Kingdom.
Nothing has more irritated public opinion than these two matters, to which we propose to revert in a separate despatch dealing with the subject of Immigration.
In connexion with this Memorandum, we cannot refrain from expressing our conviction that, although a reasonable provision against. the importation of labour during a strike could be fully vindicated, the real aims of the Commonwealth will not be understood or sympathized with so long as constantly-recurring incidents under the Contract Clause serve to remind people of a provision which grates upon every British susceptibility, by treating the British worker under contract as’ an industrial “pariah” in a British community.
These words are well worthy of consideration bv honorable members who claim that there is no justification for the belief entertained by people at Home as to the effect of these two provisions of our law.
– There have been many misrepresentations in connexion with them.
– That may be so; but it is our duty to prevent misrepresentation, and to let people abroad know exactly what our laws are. If people choose to go about maligning a country, they can do immense injury, but that can be avoided if we are able in an authoritative way to show that we are being maligned. We should thus kill the lie which, given a start, does an incalculable amount of injury. Impressed as I am with this view, I believe that, even if under this Bill and under the Bill with which we dealt yesterday a single additional immigrant were not introduced into the Commonwealth, their provisions would still do good in removing the erroneous idea existing in the minds of the British public at the present time. Senator Henderson read what I presume was the official report in connexion with the six hatter case. An attempt is made in that report to .show that if the law had been observed earlier, those men would not have been prevented from entering the Commonwealth.
– If the spirit of the law had been given effect, they would not have been allowed to come in at all.
– If Mr. Anderson had gone to the Minister in the first instance a week or a fortnight before the men arrived, and secured his authority for their entry, they would have been allowed to come in immediately they arrived. But Mr. Anderson did not do that, and during the week in which he was making inquiries, the Minister kept those six hatters on board the Orontes as prisoners, and refused to permit them to land in Australia until the matter was determined.
– Because he could not do so under the law. They were prohibited immigrants..
.- So much the worse for the country that passed such a law.
– That is quite another matter. The honorable senator cannot blame the Minister for administering the law.
– I believe that the Government are making an honest attempt in this Bill to avoid the same trouble in the future, and that is why I wish to see the measure passed. We have a right to combat misrepresentation as to the character of our laws, and to show that we are not as restrictive in our immigration laws as some persons on the other side of the world allege. A man who has only recently arrived in this- country, or who took no interest in politics here, might say, “ What is the nature of your legislation? You have only 4,000,000 in Australia, and those who are here want to do all the work, and desire to keep others out.”
– That is what politicians of the honorable senator’s class are always telling the people-.
.- This is the old gag over again, and the honorable senator is trying once more to raise a class distinction. The remarks I have made to-day should have satisfied Senator McGregor that I desire the prosperity of the community as a whole.
– He would have to be easily satisfied.
.- I could not have said more than I did, and what I have said I said honestly. If we are going to make this a great country, we must correct the misrepresentations circulated in Great Britain. We should bear in mind the fact that we have no right to occupy this Commonwealth unless we are prepared to utilize it. When we consider the teeming millions of people in other countries-
– Humbug ! What about the land-grabbers of New _ South Wales ? They are a lot of hypocrites and humbugs.
.- If Senator Stewart applies his remarks to me, I return him the compliment.
– I thank the honorable senator. I do so apply them.
– Then I tell Senator Stewart that he is as great a hypocrite as can be found.
– What about land monopoly in New South Wales?
– There is no question of land monopoly before ihe Senate.
– Am I responsible? Is Senator Stewart responsible for the land monopoly in Queensland?
– No, thank heaven ! But I have not taken the same course as Senator Gould has.
– I must ask honor.able senators not to interrupt. The question of land monopoly is not dealt with in this Bill.
.- I hope that honorable senators will view the Bill from a reasonable stand-point, and will be prepared to accept it as a measure which will not interfere unduly or unfairly with any class in the community. It is, in my opinion, an honest attempt to impose restrictive legislation in such a way as to avoid any misrepresentation of our desire. I hope that honorable senators will realize that some special consideration is due to people of our own race and colour. If they do so, they will accept the principle of the Bill, and, though it may not be carried in the Senate by such an enormous majority as that by which it was carried in another place, there will still be a substantial majority in its favour inthis Chamber.
- Senator Gould has had a great deal to say about the desirability of passing this Bill, in order to remove certain restrictions now imposed on immigration. ‘ At the outset I should like to say that the honorable senator is a member of a political party whose policy has done more ‘than anything else in Australia to make it impossible for immigrants, especially of the artisan class, to obtain work when they come here. If the honorable senator would support a policy which would enable artisans already in Australia to secure work, and would give increased opportunities for desirable immigrants to obtain employment when they came here, we should not hear so much about the dearth of population in Australia.
– Does the honorable senator refer to the policy which kept population in Victoria?
– I say that the policy of which Senator Millen is also a supporter has done more to drive native Australian artisans out of Australia, and to prevent the introduction of desirable immigrants, than all the industrial legislation and restrictive immigration legislation which has been passed either by the States or by the Commonwealth.
– I point out that, in my opinion, this Bill does notraise the general question of an immigration policy. The question is one merely of the removal of a restriction which might apply to a few hundreds of people. I therefore deprecate the discussion of the whole question of immigration and emigration on this Bill. Land monopoly and such questions are not dealt with in this Bill.
– I am anxious to obey the rule of the Chair; but I find that this is a Bill relating to immigrants under contract to perform manual labour in the Commonwealth.
– Immigrants under contract, that is all.
– I thought that it opened up the question of the immigration, especially of people to perform manual labour under contract.
– Is that the question the honorable senator was dealing with fust now?
– I should have had no difficulty in connecting the remarks I made just now with this Bill. Therewould have been no necessity to pass immigration restriction laws if a policy differentto that to which I was referring had been pursued in the Commonwealth. But, ifyou, sir. do not desire that subject to be discussed, I shall pass on.
– The honorable senator will see that, to a certain extent, almost every question under the sun - the question of free-trade or protection, the question of land monopoly, and1 all manner of questions - might be considered to be somewhat relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill. But is it advisable to discuss all those questions?
– I do not know that it is advisable to discuss all those questions, but so far it has not been done. A fair amount of latitude has been allowed to the various speakers, and of course those who wish to reply from a different stand-point desire to go over the same ground to some extent. However, I shall pass on with the remark that if we had a protective, instead of a free-trade policy, there would not be so much need for enacting this legislation. I am in favour of the Bill being read a second time, and while I do not think that there is as great a necessity for its introduction as some speakers have stated, still I recognise that, perhaps, the Government have taken a wise step. The only clause which will provoke much difference of opinion is that which makes an exemption in favour of British subjects born in the United Kingdom, or the descendants of such persons. I think that a very large majority of honorable senators will not have any objection to offer to the rest of the Bill. The exemption in favour of certain British subjects is made in clause 5, and it has a relation to clause 4, which says : -
Every contract immigrant, unless otherwise prohibited by law, may land in the Commonwealth if the contract is in writing, and is made by or on behalf of some person named in the contract, and resident in Australia, and its terms are approved by the Minister.
Clause 5 goes on to provide that the Minister shall approve of the contract only under certain conditions. So far, the Bill makes exactly the same provision as does the Act. It provides that the Minister shall approve of the terms of the contract -
If in his opinion -
By one, and only one, of the paragraphs of clause5 is an exemption made in favour of contract immigrants who are British subjects, bom in the United Kingdom, or the descendants of such persons. That is the issue which will divide the Senate to a very large extent. This morning Senator Higgs expressed very great fear that we should weaken our legislation on this subject if we assented to that exemption.
– It is a very wellgrounded fear, too.
– I think that even Senator Higgs and Senator Givens will admit that fhere is room for much argument on that question.
– You can argue on any conceivable subject.
– Yes; but your arguments might be pretty empty.
– Then they would resemble the honorable senator’s very much.
– I was not referring to the honorable senator’s arguments, because they are generally very full - of fury, froth, and! sound, if nothing else. The chief fear in the mind of Senator Higgs was that the sugar plantations in Northern Queensland might be flooded with cheap contract labour from some other part of the world, if the Bill were enacted, and of course he intends to vote against the second reading. But there is very little probability of contract labour being brought from the United Kingdom to Queensland or any tropical portions of Australia, whether they be British subjects born therein or the descendants of such persons. Senator Givens will be able to tell us whether any number of contract labourers have been brought from Great Britain to work in the sugar plantations of Queensland, or in the tropical regions of Australia. On the contrary, if the Bill be passed, would not contract labour be likely to come from countries other than the United Kingdom ? If that is thefear which Senator Higgs entertains,
I would point out that it is not well founded, because in that regard, in principle, although in different terminology, the Bill is a repetition ‘of the Act, except that it exempts certain British subjects.
– It is a very important exemption, though.
– But with regard to the danger or the possibility of cheap contract labour being brought in to perform any kind of work where, for instance, Senator Gould thinks it is necessary, where so many who support that honorable senator and his party say it is necessary to have cheaper work, that is in the tropical regions
– I never said a word about cheaper work.
– If I misunderstood the honorable senator, I am sorry, because 1 wish to argue the question fairly. My reading leads me to think that any cheap labour which might be required to work the tropical portions of the Commonwealth would have to be obtained from countries outsidethe British Isles. If my view be correct, these persons would not be able to enter the Commonwealth under the Bill, if passed, any more than they can under the present Act.
– What about the south of Australia?
– The same restriction applies to people coming from countries outside the British Isles, no matter what part of the Commonwealth they might wish to come to.
– Yes ; but it opens the doors to Britishers to come to the south of Australia.
– I should have thought that the honorable senator would have gathered that I am not averse to the exemption in favour of British subjects born in the United Kingdom, or the descendants of such persons.
– The honorable senator is in favour of Britishers coming in under contract.
– With the safeguards placed round their introduction by clause 3, I cannot see that there is any reason to fear danger to any workmen in Australia. Now, what are the class of workmen whom we are likely to get from the United Kingdom if the Bill be passed in this form? In the first place. we might get miners. The spirit of unionism, which is pretty strong, and sometimes militant, on the mining fields of Australia, probably had its birth with the British miners, because, as a rule, the British miner whom I have met, whether he has come from Cornwall or any other county in England, has generally been a unionist, and has never been anxious to work at less than the current wages or under unfair conditions.
– There is no trade union in Cornwall.
– The honorable senator has been in England, and, as I have not, I must bow to his superior knowledge.
– The honorable senator’s statement! is quite correct.
– If Senator de Largie says that there is no trade union in Cornwall, I can only say that I have come in contact with hundreds of Cornish miners, and that, with very few exceptions, they have been trade unionists, and have believed in keeping up fair wages and conditions. If we are not to get a class of British workman brought in under contract to work in the mining fields, or in employments where it! has been contended bv some persons cheaper wages are essential in order to secure the continuance of tropical industries, then we are reduced either to tradesmen or to general labourers. I have been informed on, I think, very good authority that in Great Britain skilled workers, if good tradesmen, can get, even at the present time, wages and conditions about as good as those which prevail in Australia - that is, after allowing for the difference in the cost of living. I am also informed that the best class of tradesmen are not likely to leave the old country in order to come out under contract at less wages or with worse conditions. That limits us to the inferior class of tradesmen. I have sufficient confidence inthe skill, brain, ability, and application of my fellow Australian tradesmen and artisans to believe that they could compete with British workmen who might come to Australia, whether the Bill be passed or not. Believing that an influx of cheap labour could only come from countries outside the British Isles, and seeing that the only exemption in the Bill is in favour of British subjects born in the United Kingdom, or the descendants of such persons, I fail to see where any danger can possibly arise. What was the original purpose in framing the contract section of the present Act? I have always understood, and it! has never been contradicted, that the main purpose in the minds of those who proposed and secured the insertion of that section - and I would remind honorable senators opposite, when they say so much about the six hatters, that members of their own party voted for it-
– Who did?
– I refer to members of the honorable senator’s party in another place. In fact, members of all parties voted for the contract labour section of the Immigration Restriction Act; yet they made a party cry about the six hatters. What was the original intention of those who secured the insertion of that section? It was this: That labour should not’ be imported at the ‘time of an industrial difficulty to break down a strike, or should not be imported when a strike appeared to be in contemplation, cr should not be imported under contract to lower wages and labour ‘conditions in Australia. Those intentions are just as strongly maintained in the amending Bill as in the original Act. It says that even if workmen come from Great Britain - even if they are our own brothers, born of the same fathers and mothers -they are not allowed to come into Australia under contract unless the Minister approves of the contract, and unless it is clearly set out in writing that they are to receive the wages current in that part of Australia where their work is to be performed.
– Under the old Act, they could not come in at twice the wages.
– An exemption is only made in favour of Britishers.
– Under this Bill the six hatters could have come in easily.
– Why were they kept out for a time? Simplv because the gentleman who wanted to bring them in refused, out of pique or because of his objection to Federal legislation, to conform to a simple regulation.
– They would never have been let in at all except for the public outcry.
– That statement, nonsensical though it be, is on a par with assertions at the last election about the six hatters, the Petriana myth, and all that sort of thing.
– They were let in because the Government were afraid.
– They were let in because the gentleman who contracted to bring them in was able to satisfy the Minister that he could not get the necessary labour in Australia.
– There was plenty of it available at the time.
– He also was 1 able to satisfy the Minister that the men were going to receive not less than the current rates of wages. They would not have been let in, notwithstanding the outcry, unless it had been made clear that they were to receive wages equal to those paid for similar labour in Australia. This Bill absolutely safeguards the workmen of Australia- in that respect.
– The ‘ original Act was silent as to wages and conditions. When we tried to get such provisions inserted in the Act Senator O’Ke’efe’s party r would not have them.
– What we did was ‘ with a view to conserve the best interests of Australian workers. Senator Clemons cannot say that’ that was his object.
– Does the honorable senator admit that we made a mistake in passing the original Act?
– No, I do not.
– Then why is he going to vote to amend it?
– In spite of the cheap laughter of honorable senators opposite, I am not to be .deterred from doing what I believe to be the right thing. Had it not been for the absolute falsity of the statements made by the supporters of the Right Honorable G. H. Reid at the last election regarding our immigration legislation - had it not been for the damnable misrepresentations at that time - there would have been no necessity for the present Government to bring forward this Bill. I admit that even before we received a communication from the Agents-General, and quite irrespective of the value to be placed upon it, owing to the misrepresentations made bv the Reidites- at the last election, and since then, purely for party political purposes, Australia has suffered to some extent in the eyes of people in other parts of the world. But on their heads be the blame.
– The honorable senator is backing down very gracefully.
– I am riot backing down. If Australia has suffered - and I admit that she has - one party only is to blame for the lies and misrepresentation.
– We have suffered because of the Act which I hold in my hand.
– The honorable senator is going to justify that misrepresentation by truckling to it.
– I am not going to justify any lies. If we can show clearly by an Act of ours that the statements made were misrepresentations, without at the same time imperilling in any degree the efficiency of our legislation, we should be foolish not to do it.
– That means that the honorable senator, against his own judgment, is backing down under popular clamour.
– It. is all very well, for honorable senators who took a very prominent part in such popular clamour, and in the tirade of abuse against the land in which they get their living, to make such statements. . It sounds very patriotic for them, when they find that they have done some damage to their country, to sneer at those who are not guilty in that respect, but who, recognising that some damage has been done, want to try to remove it. There have been several reasons for the misrepresentations jo which I have alluded. The chief reason was that they were made for party purposes. Another one which influenced the minds of a considerable section was that they wished to bring as much cheap labour as they could into Australia. To use an old phrase employed a hundred years ago in connexion with the introduction of slave labour to America, they have called upon “ the perverse ingenuity of their unprincipled avarice “ to such an extent that they have been able to make innocent people believe that our legislation has been the means of keeping desirable immigrants out) of Australia. But, in spite of what honorable senators opposite say, I deny that our laws have had that effect.
– Why this Bill, then ?
– I say that the lies “ told by a certain political party have b?en the means of keeping them out.
– Does this Bill give the lie to them?
– It makes it clearer than, perhaps, the present’ Act does, that we welcome desirable immigrants of the right kind under proper conditions. Those proper conditions are laid down clearly in this Bill. The old Act also admitted desirable immigrants under certain conditions.
– Not manual labourers.
– They are allowed to be admitted under contract to-day, even though this Bill does not become law.
– Absolutely no.
– Absolutely yes.
– Surely the six hatters came out under contract.
– Manual labour was kept out under the original Act.
– I say absolutely that our existing legislation enables manual workers to be admitted under contract under certain conditions. Those conditions are that the workers admitted possess skill which cannot to be attained in Australia.
– Suppose that they have not that special skill ?
– Then they cannot be admitted. The only difference made by this Bill is that an employer who wishes lc bring in contract immigrants has not to say that they have special skill, or that that skill cannot be obtained in Australia, if they come from Great Britain.
– So that an ordinary labourer can come in under this Bill, though he could not come in before ?
– If the honorable senator thinks that is wrong, he can vote against the Bill.
– I think that contract labour is wrong under any circumstances
– If we are satisfied that sufficient safeguards are placed around this one exemption, and that the exemption will sweep away misapprehension and misrepresentation-
– Let us sweep away the Bill.
– I know that the honorable senator desires to, have no restrictions on contract or any other kind of imported labour. I was about to say that if, by adopting this exemption with proper safeguards, we can obviate misrepresentation in the future, we shall be wise to take that course. I shall support the second reading of the Bill, though I think it ought to be amended in the direction in which Senator Matheson desired1 to amend the Immigration Restriction Act Amendment Bill. A number of honorable senators are quite willing to accept the spirit of the clause which exempts British subjects, but are not willing to admit to Australia certain classes of coloured British subjects or their descendants. I understand, however, that Senator Matheson intends to submit an amendment to meet such cases.
– I can hardly understand any honorable senator arguing that people in England or elsewhere are not perfectly justified in the criticism which they have passed on the restrictive immigration laws of the Commonwealth. People abroad judge our laws by the provisions they contain, and we find that, under the Immigration Restriction Act of 1901, no human being is exempted - not even a’ British subject. Senator O’Keefe contended that the sole cause of the unseemly talk abroad about Australia, was the misrepresentations made by Australians when visiting the old country. I contend that much of what is said at Home-
– Which home?
– I thought Australia was our home.
– England is my home. I contend that the people at Home or elsewhere, could not possibly come to any other conclusions than those which have been described by Senator Gould and others. I know, of course, that, as a rule,_ British subjects are not called upon to undergo the test. According to section 3 of the Immigration Restriction Act, any person under contract to perform manual labour is a prohibited immigrant, though power is given to the Minister to make exceptions in cases where the immigrant is possessed of special skill. But for the clamour, and the righteous and proper indignation expressed in Australia at the idea of British subjects being excluded, the six hatters would not have been admitted. What is the use of honorable senators trying to throw, dust in the eyes of the public? Only yesterday we passed a -Bill which contains a clause providing that any person who has resided in Australia for a period, or periods, amounting in the aggregate to not less than five years, and who is about to depart from the Commonwealth “may, in the manner prescribed,” apply to an officer for a certificate. Good heavens ! “Under such a clause a colonist, like myself, who may have been fifty-three years in Australia, will have to go, cap in hand, to an officer, in order to get a certificate.
– The honorable senator knows that is not the case.
– Then what is the use of putting such a provision on the statute-book ?
– I do not think the honorable senator ought to discuss a Bill we have passed, though, of course, he is in order in referring to it.
– I think that that Bill is very apropos to the present discussion. Indeed, I was about to describe that Bill as disgraceful legislation. but I know that I should not be in order in doing so. People abroad could arrive at no other conclusions than those which they have drawn from our restrictive legislation.
– We do not wish them to draw any other conclusion.
– Our great need is population. I was delighted’ to read the Prime Minister’s speech on this subject; but what has been the result ? The Prime Minister’s intentions were good, and’ are good now, but the Labour Party would not allow him to proceed.
– That is misrepresentation.
– It is not misrepresentation, but the truth. I know of a case where a gentleman offered to find land in New South Wales for thirty families from Home, and the agreement to carry out the project was almost concluded.
– Who objected to the families coming to Australia?
– The Labour Party.
– That is absolutely incorrect.
– Absolutely incorrect.
– Will the honorable senator give us the names?
– Names, dates, and particulars.
– The Premier of New South Wales was prepared to import thirty families from England, and the land was ready for them.’
– Can that statement be authenticated? I have never heard of the case.
– Yes, I can prove the facts up to the hilt.
– Is the honorable senator referring to Mr. Carruthers?
– Was it -some of Willis’ land?
– No; it was land that would have proved very advantageous to the people whom it was desired to settle on it.
– We should like the honorable senator’s proof.
– The land, which was near Wagga, was ready for the settlers, and the Premier was ready to bring them here, but he was stopped.
– The honorable senator has made the assertion, let him now give us the proof. “Senator FRASER.- I have made the statement, and I can prove it up to the hilt. I challenge those on the other side to disprove it. I shall prove the statement if it is called in question.
– The statement is called in question now.
– It is said that there is no employment to be obtained in this ‘ country.
– Where is the proof of the statement the honorable senator made in regard to the land at Wagga?
– There are untold millions of acres of land available in the Commonwealth. .
– Most of it mortgaged.
– There are millions of acres untouched by mortgage, held both by the Crown and private owners, who would be only too glad to subdivide it and make it profitable. There are millions of acres available in Queensland and New South Wales. We have not yet commenced to improve this country.
– That” is a fact.
– I remind Senator Fraser that we are not discussing the whole question of immigration, but only a small phase of that question, relating to labour under contract.
– Would it not be honest on the part of Senator Fraser to furnish proof of the statement he has made?
– The honorable senator who interjects would not like it if I d.id. .
– It is only fair that the honorable senator should produce his proof.
– The honorable senator is at liberty to ask the Premier of New South Wales for the information.
– Where is the honorable senator’s proof?
– I shall give the proof if necessary.
– It is very necessary.
– Senator Fraser has evidently got hold of some newspaper report.
– I have not; and if Senator Playford will come to my office I shall prove my statement up to the hilt.
– Why is Senator Fraser so loth to give the proof?
– Did Mr. Carruthers tell the honorable senator?
– Yes, he did ; in writing.
– Then let us have Mr. Carruthers’ letter.
– Yes, so that it may appear in Hansard.
– What is the use of trying to make this country prosperous by restrictive legislation? Mr. Campbell, a member of the Trades Hall Council, made a sensible remark the other night, when he said that the way to make the country prosperous was not to force working men into the towns, where there were too many already, but to get them into the country, where they would become producers, and provide work for town dwellers.
– I again call the attention of Senator Fraser to the fact that we are not discussing the general question of immigration, but only a small phase of it. relating to manual labour under contract.
– I shall support the second reading, because I regard the Bill as an improvement on the original Act. If I am not allowed to discuss the matter in my own way I do not see much use in proceeding further.
-The honorable senator will see that if I allow him to discuss the general question of immigration, I must extend the same latitude to other honorable senators.
– I have on my notes remarks of previous speakers referring to the very same matters. However, I shall obey your ruling; and I do not wish to occupy the time of the Senate any further.
– Will the honorable senator let us have that proof to-morrow ?
– It must be very gratifying to visitors to the Senate galleries to find that we are becoming an exceedingly happy family. The Go vernment which formerly was denounced so bitterly by honorable senators in opposition inside and outside of this Chamber, are now receiving the most enthusiastic support from the Opposition benches.
– The honorable senator forgets that the Government have come round to our view.
– I shall deal with that directly. On the other hand, some honorable senators who belong to the party to which I belong are now to be found cheek-by-jowl with those who have been continually and bitterly denouncing them.
– The honorable senator was himself sitting cheek-by-jowl with some of them yesterday.
– I was exercising an independent vote, and in doing so I preferred to sit cheek-by- jowl with those with whom I voted yesterday rather than with those with whom Senator Pearce voted.
– Are not others exercising an independent vote?
– I am referring to the condition of affairs that has been brought about by the exercise of an independent vote. Senator O’Keefe indulged in a very laboured explanation for proposing to undo what he assisted to do some three or four years ago. I was not responsible as a member of the Commonwealth Parliament for enacting that legislation, but I cordially supported it then, and I cordially approve of it now ; and see no reason whatever for going back upon it.
– This is going forward on it.
– I think I shall be able to show that it is not. At all events, it is unnecessary for me to enter into a laboured explanation of the reasons for reversing my former attitude on this question, because I do not intend to reverse it. What is the reason for the introduction of this Bill? Is it not exactly the same as that offered for the introduction of the Bill with which we dealt yesterday ? It has been introduced in response to an outcry for which there was never any justification whatever in fact. We know that honorable senators opposite are consistent in denouncing the Immigration Restriction Act passed in 1 901 . They have contended all the time that it is bad legislation.
– We are going to make it better.
– Honorable senators opposite are not such fools as to try to make it better from Senator McGregor’s point of view. They have all along been consistent, they have denounced this legislation as bad, and liable to make Australia suffer in the eyes of the outside world. Now, honorable senators who assisted to pass1 that legislation, are going to assist honorable senators opposite to justify all that outcry by reversing it.
– They have come round to our way of thinking.
– They were always opposed to this legislation, whilst Senator Pearce was in favour of it, and it is ‘evident that they have converted the honorable senator to their way of thinking.
– It is the public OUtcry that converted the honorable senator.-
– Senator Pearce is assisting honorable senators opposite to justify that outcry, though only a very narrow section- of the public indulged in it. Honorable senators on this side, who are in this matter prepared to vote with honorable senators opposite, must admit that they made a mistake in the principle or the form of the Act which was passed in 1901, or they would not be prepared to support this amendment of it now. I do not think that thev made any such mistake. I believe that the principal Act was necessary and desirable in the interests of the great majority of the people of Australia, and that it has worked well. We have heard a great outcryto the effect that the Act is making Australia stink in the nostrils of the people of the old count rv, and, indeed, of the civilized world. But we know that an extravagant statement of that kind has absolutely no justification in fact, because there has not been a single individual kept out of Australia bv the operation of that Act. I am of opinion that it would be an exceedingly ba.d thing for Australia to permit the -free admission under contract of any persons, whether British subjects or not.
– Is there any objection to a contract, if it is a good contract?
– There is no objection to a contract, if both parties to it are equally seized of all the facts.
– It is provided in this Bill that they shall be.
– If the honorable senator would study the Bill, he would find that British subjects are specially exempted from the proviso to which he has referred. I maintain that, in the interests of our fellow British subjects in the old country, we should be very careful not to allow any unscrupulous people to get the best of them under contract, if we can avoid it.
– We all agree with that.
– Then why does not the honorable senator agree that the safeguard applied in this Bill to persons who are not British subjects, shall also apply to those who are? c~
– We do.
– No, we do not; > they are specially exempt.
– They are exempt from only one particular provision.
– Honorable senators opposite have emphasized the alleged fact that a large population is exceedingly desirable in Australia, and that _ the chief reason why we cannot obtain it is because of certain alleged action taken by the Labour Party. I agree with all that has been said with regard to the desirableness of having a large population in Australia, provided they are a prosperous, and not a starving people. It will be no advantage to have a large population here, if we have not something to put in their mouths, and if their little children are crying out for bread. Every one will agree that it is exceedingly desirable from every pointof view, and especially in order that we may be able to maintain our national independence that we should have a large population of prosperous people settled in Australia. But I deny that it has ever been the policy, or any portion of the policy of the party to which I belong, to prevent, or in the slightest degree to retard, the accomplishment of that great aspiration.
– Does the honorable senator think that he is not now discussing the whole immigration question ?
– I respectfully submit that as this point was emphasized, and referred to at length by Senators Symon and Gould, I should be allowed to refer to it incidentally. I maintain ‘ that I am perfectly in order in alluding to every aspect of the Question on the second reading of this Bill.
– I do not think that the honorable senator can go into the whole question of immigration.
– I have no desire to go into it very fully, but seeing that two honorable senators were permitted to make a specially strong point of this aspect of the question, another honorable senator holding opposite views should be entitled to put his side of the question.
– That is correct, but the honorable senator’s premises are not quite correct. I do not think that other honorable senators have done what he says they did.
– I took notice of what they said, and I think Hansard will bear me out that they made a strong point of the desirability of having a large population in Australia, and urged that the legislation we are now being asked to amend had the effect of keeping people ‘out, and that it was the policy of the Labour Party to keep them out. I maintain that no section of the community is more ardent in its desire to see a large population here than are the members of the -Labour Party. But I think that this is not the way in which to secure population. In my opinion, the way to attract a large population to Australia is to make the conditions in this country so desirable that people will flock here. Within my memory, New Zealand was losing population simply because the conditions of life in that Colony were bad, but when those conditions were improved in the nineties, without any provision for the introduction of contract labour, people flocked into New Zealand .wholesale, until, as a matter of fact, the statistics showed that New Zealand was gaining a larger proportion of population from the excess of arrivals over departures than the whole Commonwealth of Australia was gaining.
– Seeing that the honorable senator admits that no provision for contract immigration is made in New Zealand, how can he show that his references to that Colony have anything to do with this Bill?
– I am pointing out that without any provision for the introduction of immigrants under contract, New Zealand has gained a large population, and consequently I contend that it is possible for us to secure a large population without admitting immigrants under contract.
– That may be so, but I cannot see that it has anything to do with this Bill. I have no wish to unduly curtail the honorable senator’s remarks, but I must ask him to confine them to the Bill.
– That appears to me to be a ruling which, with all defers ence, I think ought not to be given. The argument in favour of this Bill is that it will remove an objection to people coming here. Senator Givens is showing that without any such provisions as are contained in this Bill, New Zealand has increased her population by immigration, and that, therefore, these provisions are not necessary.
-The honorable senator can submit any argument he pleases relevant to the Bill, but at this period of the session I am anxious to confine the discussion, as far as possible, to the subjectmatter of the Bill before the Senate.
– I am quite at one with you, sir, in that, but I cannot refrain from saying that it is a pity you did not arrive at that conclusion at an earlier stage of the debate.
– I think I have taken the same course all along.
– It is said that the contract provisions of the principal Act have prevented people from coming to Australia. I do not think so. We have had four years’ experience of the operation of the Act, and, so far as we know, it has not kept a single individual out of the Commonwealth.
– It is very hard to prove a negative.
– Where so much misrepresentation has been indulged in, it should not be difficult for those who have indulged in it to bring forward one genuine case of a person refused admission in support of the misrepresentations made. Senator Symon, when AttorneyGeneral, found it necessary to write a scathing letter of contradiction when the Agent-General for Queensland, Sir Horace Tozer, tried to bring the Act into contempt by absolutely false misrepresentations with regard to the introduction into Queensland of a girl attendant on ,his family. Senator Symon did that, and did it well, in defending Australian legislation from the false’ misrepresentations of a . prominent public official. We are not opposed to British subjects - to men of our own race and colour coming here. They can come as freely as thev please. What we wish is that they shall come with absolute freedom, and enter into engagements only after .they have become fully seized of all the conditions of employment in the country. That, I think, is a very fair statement of the case. I desire that as much for the protection of my fellow subjects in the old country as for the benefit of the people in Australia. It does not matter a straw to the great bulk of the people of Australia whether the persons who take the bread out of their mouths, and throw them upon the street in a starving condition, with their wives and children suffering from want of the necessaries of life, are their own countrymen, or Germans, or Frenchmen, or Italians. My experience is that if a wrong is inflicted on a nation it is greater if it is inflicted by people of their own race than if it is inflicted by any other people. It is provided in clause 5 that the Minister shall approve of the terms of the contract only if, in his opinion - except in the case of British subjects born in the United Kingdom, or their descendants born in any part of the British Empire, there is difficulty in the employer’s obtaining within the Commonwealth a worker of at least equal skill and ability.
That is the only condition which is made with regard to the bringing in of British subjects born in the United Kingdom. Frequently in Australia we have Had a great many persons born in Great Britain who could not find work, or whose children were suffering from the want of the necessaries of life, because they could not find work. Have not the British-born people who are residing within the Commonwealth, the same claim upon our good feeling, and to our protection;, as the British-born subjects residing in the United Kingdom? Undoubtedly they Have. It is neither a kindness to the people in the old country nor a kindness to the people in the Commonwealth to allow persons to be brought in under contract, when there is no sufficiency of work to keep them going. Either the immigrant or the Australian worker has to suffer. I do not desire to see either of them suffer. What I desire is that there shall be plenty of work for all hands, and that when work comes the people of our own race and colour shall be allowed to come in freely, but not under contract, because that is not necessary. Senator Higgs has pointed out the danger which exists in Queensland, particularly in North Queensland, of .large planters, who desire to continue their operations by means of gang labour importing a considerable number of European labourers, even British labourers, if you like, under contract, at the expiration of 190S, when a large proportion of the black labour which they now possess will be withdrawn. That danger is very real and very great. Now that they are con- vinced that they will not be able to keep their beloved kanakas, the planters are looking round to find some other form of cheap labour. There is a danger that they will flood that portion of the Commonwealth with cheap labour imported under contract from abroad for, perhaps, two or three years, and that by that means, they will be able to keep down the wages, to reduce the employment offering at remunerative rates, to the white people already there. Feeling so strongly on this question, and knowing that if this Bill, like the Bill which we passed last night, has any ill effects, the State I represent will be the first to suffer, I shall do what I can to defeat it at this and every other stage.
– And when the planters overtake the Australian demand for sugar, they will have to compete with outside countries, when they will want to lower the wages further.
– Yes. The Bill contains some farcical provisions, which are intended, I suppose, to be a salve to the conscience of the Ministry, or some of their supporters, but which do not amount to anything in the way of protection. One provision is that ‘the Minister shall approve the terms of the contract only if it is made - in contemplation of or with a view of affecting t an industrial dispute.
It is utterly absurd to think that any Minister could give effect to that farcical provision. All that the Federated Employers’” Association, or any association of employers, would need to do would be to determine in their own minds that six months hence they would attempt to reduce wages, and then cast about for a means by which to accomplish that object. They would say : “ The best thing we can do is to introduce a couple of hundred men under contract.” In that way they would overcome the labour market, and no Minister could say what was in their mind, because’ he would have no means of finding out their object.
– It is an old established plan which employers adopt in order to reduce wages ultimately.
– Yes; it is a plan to which they have frequently resorted.
– They can do that under paragraph g of section 3 of the Act just as easily as under this Bill.
– They cannot do it at all under the present Act.
– Then they could not do it under the Bill.
– Will Senator Pearce name a provision which would prevent an association of employers from doing that ?
– Under the Bill any number of persons could be brought in from Great Britain.
– Yes, employers could absolutely flood the market.
– And so they can under paragraph g of section 3 of the Act if they can prove that there are no persons in the Commonwealth possessing the required skill and ability.
– It can not be done under the Act with the ease or impunity with which it could be done under this Bill. After employers have flooded the market what will be the result? They will cither lower the wages or impose worse conditions. Men will be forced to accept the conditions imposed, or else endure the misery of having to look at their suffering wives and children enduring the torments of starvation and misery. That is a position which should be seriously regarded by every one who has at heart the interests of the working people of Australia. I desire to maintain a high standard of living, and to secure fair wages and good conditions of labour, because I believe that the true greatness of a country depends1 upon the extent to which the masses of the people enjoy a happy and prosperous existence. I do not wish a few persons to make large profits while the masses endure hardship and misery. I wish the masses of the people to be, in the highest sense, wealthy. This outcry against the contract sections of the Act! has been raised entirely with a view to discredit labour legislation, and to obtain freedom for any employer at his own sweet will to do what seems to him best, in order to reduce wage3 and so increase profits. In the Bill, as in the Act, there is nothing to prevent an employer from introducing under contract as much labour as he likes,no matter how many unemployed there may be in the town or place in which he is operating.
– Then the honorable senator cannot have read the Bill.
– He has to show that he cannot ‘get men of at least equal skill and ability here.
– If Senator Pearce will name one .provision which says that an employer can be prevented from taking that course, I shall read it to the Senate.
– The whole Bill aims at that.
– No; like the other Bill, it is a mere subterfuge.
– So far as British subjects are concerned, a man could get as many as he liked.
– Yes, no matter how many unemployed there might be in the Commonwealth.
– He could get British subjects, but only subject to the condition that he shall pay at least the same wages as prevail here.
– It would be necessary to show that there were no men of at least equal skill and ability in the Commonwealth.
– British subjects would be exempt from that provision. Just now the honorable senator twitted me with nor having read the Bill ; but undoubtedly if he has read it, he does not understand it.
– The honorable senator has not grasped the meaning of my interjection.
– It is not always possible to understand the meaning Qf an interjection.
– I think that is possible for the honorable senator at any time.
– The honorable senator is in a peculiar position, and is trying to invent excuses for swallowing a dose which he does not like.
– Let the honorable senator judge himself.
– Why should Senator Pearce swallow the dose if he does not like it. Is it not obvious that he likes the dose?
– The exigencies of the case, perhaps, demand that he should swallow the dose.
– Tell us what they are.
– I believe that Senator Pearce is as much convinced as I am that the legislation which he assisted to pass four years’ ago was good.
– That is a charge that I propose to vote against what I believe to be right. It is altogether unworthy of the honorable senator, and should be withdrawn.
– Does the honorable * senator think that the legislation which he assisted to pass four years ago in this connexion was bad? ‘
-I think it was good, and I consider that this proposed legislation is just as good. I am “quite as consistent now asI was then.
– I think it is not nearly so good. Only very recently I had the best of reasons for knowing that the honorable senator was convinced that this legislation was in no need of any amendment.
– What are those reasons ?
– Because it was fairly effective. I have frequently talked over this matter with the honorable senator, and other members of the Labour Party.
– Did I ever express an opinion to the honorable senator?
– I have heard the honorable senator say that the law acted well, and denounce the cry of the Opposition, who were trying to throw muck upon it.
– Did the honorable senator ever hear me say that there was no necessity to pass amending Bills?
– Not these Bills.
– If the honorable senator makes such a statement it is a lie.
– Order ! I must ask Senator Pearce to withdraw that remark.
– I said. “ If the honorable senator makes such a statement it is a lie.”
– He has a perfect right to say that.
– Senator Pearce did not say that Senator Givens had told a lie. If a person makes a certain statement in respect of me, I have a perfect right to say that it is an untruth, or a lie.
– Is the leader of the Senate in order, sir, in making that statement while he is seated in his chair?
– All interjections are out of order.
– I have not the slightest objection to Senator Pearce making an interjection of that kind, only I think that it would be much more becoming on the part of the honorable senator or any one else, if he wishes to give me the lie, to do so outside the Chamber, where I should have ah opportunity of resenting it.
– That is the usual attitude of a big man.
– I do not want to take up any attitude of that kind.
– It is very ungracious.
– Perhaps Senator Givens will return to the question before the Chair.
– If the honorable senator will make a similar insinuation outside the Chamber, I shall repeat that statement.
– I believe, and I have never had any reason to believe otherwise, that Senator Pearce approved of the legislation of which he was one of the principal supporters when it was being passed through the Senate. If he says that he did not approve of that legislation, and that this Bill is better, by all means he is justified in giving the measure his support. But he does not say that this is better. He merely says that it is quite as good. What is” the use of tinkering with our Acts of Parliament if we are going to get something which is not as good as the legislation at present standing on the statute-book ? What is the use of wasting time if we are not going to effect improvements ?
– We are, from my point of view.
– Of course, from SenatorClemons’ point of view this Bill is an improvement ; but it is not from mine. In the Bill which we passed yesterday, and in this measure, we are merely meddling and tinkering with the legislation of the Commonwealth. From the point of view of the Labour Party, both inside and outside the Senate, these measures, instead of doing the work which they are designed to do for the benefit of Australian workers, will weaken the Acts that Parliament has already passed. I have no desire to do anything which will have that result. If there is an honest difference of opinion, well and good. Honorable senators are entitled to their views, and they are justified in fighting for them. But if they tell me that no improvement is made, I ask why should we tinker with our Acts of Parliament for the mere sake of truckling to the feel- ings of those who have always been opposed to our legislation, and who, no matter what we do, will still be opposed to it ? If I could defeat this Bill on the motion for the second reading I would do so. But, at all events, I shall relieve myself of responsibility by voting against it.
– I intend to support the Bill. I agreed with the legislation that was previously passed on the same subject. I think that the Bill before us improves that legislation. A good deal of unnecessary anxiety and heat have been imported into the discussion. The question is important in a degree ; but, so far as I have been able to see, there is no great danger of Australia being flooded with cheap imported labour, even if we had not the contract sections of the Immigration Restriction Act at all. I have had a great deal of experience with labour and labour difficulties, and I think I am well within the mark when I say that during the last twenty or thirty years there has not been an average of 100 persons per annum imported into the whole Commonwealth under contract. The most serious thing has been that ‘ highly objectionable form of contract which grew to be a great evil in Queensland, and which I am happy to believe we have scotched.
– I am afraid of this Bill, because I think it will give rise to a similar state of things.
– If I thought so I should agree with’ my honorable friend. But I am of the contrary opinion. There have been some contracts which, in themselves, were baneful, and were intensely unfair to one of the contracting parties. Persons have been engaged in poorly-paid parts of the world at remuneration that seemed to them to be princely, and have been brought to Australia, where conditions very much superior existed among the people with whom they had to work. I take it that the original Act aimed largely at the removal of that abuse. Then there was another danger. It has sometimes occurred during the currency of an industrial dispute - and disputes will continually happen while men remain human - that persons instigated by pique, and by a desire to win at whatever cost, have imported, and have even injured themselves financially by importing a few labourers in order to win their case. That evil also we have sought to kill. I think that generally there is a consensus of opinion that it is desirable that we should kill it. But in the original Act we accomplished our purpose in a way that angered some people ; and it was, I think, wisely sought to provide a way of doing the same thing so as not to anger them, or not to anger them so much. I am always in favour of doing the thing which I want to do in a way that will not annoy the fellow who does not want me to do it. That, it seems to me, is what this Bill aims at. I point out to my honorable friends who- oppose the measure that the Bill makes a very great advance. While we provided in the original Act that persons could not come into Australia under contract, unless it was shown that there was not the necessary amount of skill of the character required in the Commonwealth, we are providing in this Bill that whoever comes under contract, and whereever he comes from, he can only come her* and remain on condition that he receives the same consideration with reference to wages, hours, and conditions of employment as others are receiving who are engaged in the same class of labour. I think that is a very great advance. Therefore, I agree with Senator Pearce that while the original Act was a good measure, and while a great deal has been said about it that ought never to have been said, this Bill really improves it from the point of view of the interest of persons who have to work to live. With reference to British subjects being exempt, I am inclined to think that the Bill, as framed, exempts more people, or makes greater exemptions than is intended ; and unless some amendments can be made in Committee, I shall vote against the third reading. I am inclined to think that in clause 5 the intention of the Government is merely to exempt British subjects from the provisions generally. It provides that in regard to other than British’ subjects employers importing contract labour must show that there is not sufficient skill of the class in Australia. I think that is all the Government intends to exempt them from. But the clause, as drafted, it seems to me, exempts them from the provision requiring that contract labour shall receive the same conditions and wages as are paid to Australian workmen for the same kind of work.
– Oh no !
– I understand that an amendment has been circulated to place the matter beyond doubt.
– The amendment does not touch that point.
– Seeing that it is quite easy for a layman to make a mistake in interpreting a clause of this character, I read it carefully many times, and as I could come to no other conclusion, I took the opportunity to ascertain the opinion of a lawyer of considerable experience, who agrees with me that the clause does require amendment.
– The exception can only govern paragraph b.
– There seems to be a disposition to amend the Bill to make the point clear, and in that case the difficulty can easily be removed. Notwithstanding that some lawyers differ from me, Ifeel that the clause is capable of improvement. With reference to the question of contractsper se, I am not aware of any objection to contracts to serve if the conditions are fair and reasonable. The general objection to contracts made abroad, to be completed here, is that conditions made in ignorance by one of the contracting parties, or perhaps by both, may be such as will be prejudicial to the wellbeing of the Commonwealth. This Bill, it seems to me, provides that when contracts to serve are made under conditions arising out of the ignorance of one of the parties and placing him at a disadvantage compared with the workers in the part of Australia in which he is to fulfil the contract it will be void. Therefore all the safety that we require appears to be provided. If people come here to work under contract, they must come under exactly the same conditions in respect of wages, hours of labour, and other circumstances relating to fair treatment as we already have provided for our workmen within the Commonwealth. If so much is insured, I think that every safeguard that we can ask for is provided. I agree with all that has been said concerning unreasoning complaints about the existing law, and with the observations that have been made as to the unfair misrepresentations on its administration. But while many unjustifiable statements have been made with reference to it, if anything can be done to remove the excuse for making those statements I think it is well to do that thing, if we do not weaken the legislation which we have passed. That this Bill does not weaken it I have pointed out. It rather strengthens it. Therefore I shall support the second reading, and if the amendment I have suggested be made, I shall support the measure heartily right through.
– In my view, as in that of many members of the Senate, this Bill can be divided into two parts, unequal, so far as size, but in importance in converse ratio. I am not concerned in the least with any clause of the Bill, with the exception of clause 5. The rest may go ; but I do welcome the opportunity to say that the Opposition in the Senate seems at last - I hope with the ‘assistance of many honorable senators who are not usually with us - to be securing some advance on the legislation of previous years. In case some of the too-harsh critics in the Senate should be inclined to blame the Government altogether for the existence of clause 5, I desire to point out that in the present instance the Government will follow the Opposition. We on this side of the Senate will have our numbers reinforced by two, and I welcome the conversion under compulsion of the Ministers to a more reasonable state of mind. Paragraph b of clause 5, which I suppose is the provision around which contention chieflycentres, was inserted in the Bill on the motion of a leading member of the Opposition in another place.
– Mr. Dugald Thomson.
– So that the clause by no means represents the voluntary effort of the Government either in this Chamber or in the other.
– It is very gratifying to know that there is so much good in the Opposition.
– It is very gratifying to know that the Opposition, which now consists of a fair number, is going to be sufficiently reinforced by two - under compulsion - to be able to carry what, in my view, is a distinct improvement in Australian legislation.
– It would be more correct to say that paragraph b was accepted by the Government than that it was carried in spite of them.
– I am extremely desirous to be fair.
– I never pretended that paragraph b was in the Bill as introduced, but gave full credit for it to Mr, Dugald Thomson.
– Senators Givens and Turley, who have been lashing the Government
– I have not spoken. Senator CLEMONS.- Well, by interjection. Those honorable senators seem to have forgotten that this clause was not inserted on the initiative of the Government. We have debated at some length the question of how far this amending Bill is in advance of the original Bill. To my amazement, I have heard some honorable senators attempt to argue that the difference between the Bill and the Act is very little. From my point of view I regard this as not, perhaps, the only victory the Opposition have achieved this session, but as a most important victory. The difference between the amending Bill and the original Act is really of the greatest moment.
– We are glad !
– Let us all rejoice, and indulge in the hope that this is only an instalment of better things to come. I am glad to see a tendency, even on the other side of the Chamber, to recognise that it is time we rectified some of the mistakes made by previous Parliaments. In the first place, paragraphb of clause 5 provides that, subject to the condition, to which every member of the Senate will readily give his adherence, that the rate of wages and conditions of employment are satisfactory, British subjects born in the United Kingdom, or their descendants born in any part of the British Empire, may enter here freely under contract. I use the words “ freely under contract “ advisedly, because such immigrants are subject only to one condition, that the rate of wages and conditions of employment are satisfactory. Under the original Act, no British subject from the United Kingdom could enter Australia under contract to perform manual labour, unless he obtained an exemption because of special skill required in Australia. With that exception, manual labourers from Great Britain were absolutely barred. The difference between that provision and clause 5 of the Bill is enormous. I draw attention to the phrase in the Act, “ special skill required in Australia.” Parliament seems to have assumed that there could be too much special skill in Australia, and when I read the phrase again, although I remember the provision being placed in the original Act, it seems to me most extraordinary. I do not suppose that any one will contend that we could have too much special skill in Australia. Indeed, the terms seem almost contradictory.
– If there were ten skilled solicitors, and there were jobs only for five, there would be five skilled solicitors too many.
– Not if they were specially skilled. In the illustration used by the honorable senator the skill is ordinary to the ten, and not special. However, I do not wish to emphasize that point. We have at last an admission that, even if immigrants are not British subjects, they may enter Australia. Apart from the provision in regard to British subjects, we have at last an admission that even immigrants who are not British subjects may come into Australia, provided the remuneration and other terms and conditions of employment are satisfactory.
– There, is a further proviso.
– I shall read anything the honorable senator likes.
– There then follow the same conditions as are laid down in the Act.
– Such immigrants can only enter if they fulfil the provision in regard to special skill.
– When the present Act, in the form of a Bill, was before the Senate, an amendment was moved to the effect that if the wages and other conditions were equal to those prevailing in similar employment in Australia, there should be no bar to workers entering under contract.
– But that amendment was not carried.
– It was not. But the Bill at last recognises, in paragraph c of clause 5. that the remuneration and other conditions are material to the issue. In the Act that point is ignored altogether, and it is provided, by implication that no matter what the conditions of employment or the rates of wages are, they do not touch the question. That is one of the cardinal vices of the original Act. An attempt was made in the Senate to make an exemption provided the conditions and wages were satisfactory but that attempt was defeated by the Labour Party. Now, however, the Labour Party seem to recognise that these are the material points which ought to be considered ; and I regard this provision as an enormous advance on the previous legislation. If clause 5 is not all that we would’ desire - and it is not, by a long way - it is a distinct stride in the direction of permitting the free immigration of the white races to this country. 1 ;
– If the immigrants are of European nationality other than British, they must comply with the test as to special skill.
– At any rate the Bill is. from my point of view, a distinct improvement on the old Act.
– The honorable senator appears to be arguing that Europeans other than British subjects may come in under paragraphs b and c of clause 5 on the same terms as British subjects ; but, as I have pointed out, they must! comply with the condition as to special skill.
– I shall oppose the slightest verbal alteration in the clause. The section of the original Act refers to “special skill required in Australia,” and it will be seen that the wording of paragraph b of clause 5 is quite different. I regard the Bill, so far as clause 5 is concerned, as holding out bright hopes of something better in the future. The time will come in Australia, perhaps a century hence, when the question of properly developing our tropical territory will have to be faced, once and for all. Honorable senators know- that I voted for the direct test in order to secure a White Australia.
– I would point out, Mr. President, that other honorable senators have been prevented from discussing the general question of immigration, and confined to the subject matter of the Bill.
– I do not think that Senator Clemons is quite confining himself to the question before us.
– I can assure you, Mr. President, that I shall connect my remarks not only with the Bill generally, but with clause 5 particularly.
– I rely on the honorable senator’s statement.
– We shall have to decide at some time or other as to the cultivation of the tropical, and probably o other parts of Australia: and the question of contract labour in this connexion is sure to arise. I have said that it is a distinct advance on previous legislation, that British subjects may be brought here under contract; but unless we bring in other Europeans who are not under the ban, from the point of view of a White Australia, to assist in the cultivation of those parts of Australia which at present are lying waste, the time will come, in the history of the nations, when we shall be told that we have no right to that territory. There is a national obligation imposed on the people of every country ; and if we neglect our opportunities, and the question is pressed home, we shall lose that enormous territory in the absence of an adequate and satisfactory answer.
– It. will be “rushed” in spite of us.
– We shall, so far as the nations of the world are concerned, have no adequate defence. .Who are we that we should say : “ We shall hold this enormous territory as waste?”
– It is a “dog-in-the-manger” policy.
– Does the honorable senator really think that this has anything to do with the question before us?
– lt has been urged to-day, by Senator O’Keefe especially, that inhabitants of the United Kingdom, although under contract, are not the sort of persons to come in to cultivate the Northern Territory. I am hoping the time will come when we shall extend the operation of paragraph b, not merely to British subjects of the United Kingdom^ but to all Europeans. Just one word in regard to contract labour. It is strange that a great many h honorable senators opposite can only read “contract” as meaning slavery; they frequently put “ contract “ in opposition to “freedom.” It is high time that those honorable senators disabused their minds of an idea so ludicrously erroneous. I venture to say that there is scarcely a member of the Senate, or a man whom we meet in- the street, who has not at some time or other been under contract. Are we to say that all such men have, therefore, been slaves? To finish the argument - Why should it be slavery t to make a contract in Great Britain, while it is perfect freedom to make a contract in Australia? I cannot dissever the two, and I repeat that it is high time this “slavery” was dropped as a foolish bogy.
– I was not a member of the Senate when the original Act was passed, or I should certainly have opposed the section which this Bill is amending. I always felt that the Commonwealth might make a few initial mistakes, for which it might be excused ; and this clause of the Immigration Restriction Act is the most grievous mistake of all. I read the Act with a great deal of astonishment and considerable regret, and I determined, when I was returned to this Chamber, that whenever an opportunity occurred to amend it in the direction now proposed, I should lend my assistance. The amendment proposed in clause 5 is most important. The original Act was designed to prevent people coming in under contract, and a contract labourer was defined as a prohibited immigrant, and, as such, classed with prostitutes, diseased people, and other undesirables, and he was absolutely forbidden to come in. One exception alone was made, and that permitted the admission of men assumed to possess some special skill not obtainable in the Commonwealth. But the Bill with which we are now dealing is not one forbidding the introduction of contract immigrants, but permitting their introduction under conditions I think fair to themselves and to the workers already in Australia. If this had been the character of the legislation first adopted, the six hatters episode would probably not have occurred. Certainly under this legislation such episodes are not likely to occur very frequently again. What happened in connexion with that case was, to my mind, an evasion of the law of the land by the Prime Minister of Australia, who, in the position he occupied, should have asserted and carried out the law.. I was going to say that he had to pretend to believe, but I will say that he had to express himself as being satisfied that these six hatters were specially skilled men.
– Although he was assured by the union that hatters equally skilled were walking about idle.
– Every one who knows anything of the trade in Australia is aware that these men, though no doubt excellent workmen, were ordinary hatters, and they were being introduced at the highest rate of wages ruling in Australia at the time.
– Because, this Bill would permit their introduction without question the honorable member approved of it. He would have Australians walking about in idleness while contract labour was imported from abroad.
- Senator Findley need not trouble to misconstrue my remarks.
I prefer to give expression to my views in my own way rather than have what I say distorted by the honorable senator. It seems to me that if there is one class of immigrant more desirable than another it is the man at Home who possesses sufficient foresight] to be certain that he will be able to secure employment for the support of himself and his family when he reaches Australia before he comes here. Yet it is this particular class of immigrant to whom up to the present time we have given the cold shoulder. There is a provision in this measure which I welcome, though it may seem somewhat sentimental. However we may be disposed to treat the people of other races, we should be prepared to make some exceptions in favour of our own kith and kin. Britishers will be able, under this clause, to come into Australia under certain conditions which are laid down, and which seem to me to protect the local workman. I am afraid that what is proposed is a very cumbersome method, for under this Bill the Minister is given the right to examine every contract under which persons are brought to Australia, and he is to be satisfied, first of all, that they are not brought here for the purpose of influencing in any unfair way any industrial dispute.
– There will be only about a dozen cases of the kind in a vear.
– I do not care how many there may be. I confess I should like .to see British people being brought to Australia under contract under the best conditions. I should certainly not like to see men brought here at lower rates of wages than are ruling in Australia, because I am as strongly in favour of the payment of fair wages to workmen as is any member of the Senate. In this Bill we are asked to recognise a fact which I think we ought to recognise, and that is that we are a part of a large Empire. We frequently hear America spoken of, and we know that that country has an anti-con.tract immigrant law.
– So has Canada.
– But America is in a different position to that in which we find ourselves in Australia. The United States is a sovereign country, a large and powerful nation, possessing national rights which it can. exercise. It may be that American legislation is not wise’. [ doubt very much whether some of it is ; but the people of the United States practically admit any person who is healthy.
– No, no; they do not admit Chinese and Japanese.
– Latterly .their legislation may have been more restrictive, but formerly they permitted any one who chose to enter the States, provided he were in good health, and not a criminal.
– TRey have seen the error of their -ways.
– The fact that the people of the United States have passed certain legislation does not satisfy me that it would be wise for us to pass the, same legislation.
– Hear, hear. America has eighty millions of people.
– Canada, which is always trotted out as a splendid example, does the same thing.
– Whatever the American law9 may be, we know that there is a steady stream of people always pouring into the United States.
– Honorable senators must bear in mind the great difference in the distance between Canada and any part of the United States and Great Britain, and the distance between Great Britain and Australia. It is a very serious thing for a man to contemplate a voyage to Australia from Great Britain. If he is to come out here, and bring his family with him, he will prefer to know that he will be certain to obtain employment when he arrives here. It is a comparatively small thing for a man to go from Great Britain to Canada or the United States, as, if he is not satisfied, it is possible for him within a few weeks to return to his native country, and possibly to the employment which he left. It is not so in the case of men coming to Australia, and instead of putting difficulties in their way it seems to me that we should, offer them every possible inducement. I have no wish to digress, but I agree with honorable senators who have expressed the opinion that we should offer inducements to immigrants to come here, by providing them with land. We surely have enough of it.
– Where is it? It is monopolized.
– We should have no great difficulty in taking the land from those who have monopolized it.
– I ask the honorable senator not to discuss the land question.
– It seems to me that in the existing Act, while offering inducements to immigrants in one sentence, we reject them in another. I hope that this Bill will not be materially altered in. Committee. If I thought that in Committee it would be amended in such a way as to remove provisions which I consider improvements upon the existing law, I should vote against the second reading. Whilst I recognise the consistency of honorable senators who are prepared to oppose the Bill, I am glad to see that the members of the Labour Party, as a body, are going to support the Government in passing this legislation.
– Perhaps I should have said that the majority of the members of the Labour Party will support the Government, and I shall be sorry if they do not.
– I did not intend to speak upon the second reading of this Bill, as I proposed to content myself with moving certain amendments in Committee if the second reading were passed. I intend to vote (against the second reading, because I believe that . to be the right course to adopt. I am prepared to give all credit for sincerity to other members of the party ‘to which I belong, and to the members of other parties who propose to vote for the second reading. I make this statement, because of the very scurrilous attack which was made by ‘Senator Givens on the members of his own party.
– The honorable senator’s remarks were very ungenerous.
– Undoubtedly they were. I have never before heard such remarks during the time I have been a member of the Senate. I give Senator Pearce and other honorable senators on this side who propose to vote for the Bill the same credit for sincerity that I ask them to give me iri voting against the Bill. Having said that, I shall content myself, if the second reading is carried, with moving the amendments of which I have given notice when the Bill gets into Committee.
– I think there is no doubt that the second reading of the Bill is going to be carried. When we see such a combination of forces gathering behind the Government there is some justification for a belief that the Senate is coming round to the opinions which have always been held by honorable sena-; tors opposite, and possibly the second reading of the Bill will be carried by a decent majority. I do not believe that the Government had any particular intention to £0 in the direction indicated by the provision to which so much reference has been made, and which was not in the Bill when it was introduced, but which apparently is the only excuse brought forward for it here. Senator Symon has said that the only reason he is voting for the Bill is because it contains paragraph b of clause 5. The honorable senator has said that he wishes it went further, and that all the restrictions of the original Act were wiped out altogether. At all events, he recognises that this Bill is a step in the right direction, that is, from his point of view. I believe that the Employers’ Federation, and such bodies, have been passing resolutions pointing out that the persistency of the Opposition has induced the Government to take one considerable step in the right direction.
– No, has frightened the Government.
– I do not know that it would be right to say that the Opposition have frightened the Government. I do not think that even the Employers’ Federation submit that contention.. They base their expression of gratification upon the fact that the Bill takes a considerable step in the direction in which they have always suggested this legislation should go. I do not know that we should be guided by the opinion of the members of the Employers’ Federation, or that the stir made about the legislation passed in 1901 should influence honorable senators who sat behind th, Government that passed that legislation. I have always held that it is a good thing to stop any person from coming into Australia under contract. I would have no contract immigration at all if I had mv way. I was not very strongly impressed by this measure until I heard the speech of Senator Symon, but when he pointed out the absurdity of various clauses, and the number. of provisions under which people might suffer inconvenience, I thought it would be better to prevent that kind of thing, and that is why I suggested that the honorable senator should vote against the second reading. The legislation on the statute-book at the present time is known, and we must be aware that when legislation is first introduced people who believe that :it will interfere with them in any way usually raise a ^considerable commotion. When this legislation was first passed, the people who have always endeavoured to do what they could to flood Australia with cheap labour, whether under contract or otherwise, made a great noise about it, through their press organs. The press references to the matter were taken up by newspapers published in the old country, as they afforded the only means of gleaning the opinions of the people of the Commonwealth on this subject. They have taken up the cry, with the result that it has probably induced a number of persons in the old country to believe that men would not be admitted, even if they came out under contract. But it has not yet been proved that one person who has come out under contract has been kept out. A contract immigrant may have been called upon to go through certain formalities, but as soon as he has done so, he has been allowed to go ashore, and follow his occupation. In Queensland we have had some experience of persons coming out in a fairly large number. That State is now paying, I think, ,£130,000 a year upon the sum which it spent in bringing out immigrants. But even those persons were not brought out under contract. They came Out because certain persons had misrepresented the state of affairs in Australia With what result? Soon after their arrival they went wherever it was. possible for them to get employment: Clause 3 provides that British subjects, born in the United Kingdom, or the decendants of such persons, shall be allowed to enter under contract. In Queensland we have had some opportunities of studying the tactics of large employers of labour in the North? Seven years ago the standard wage for a labouring man on one large railway job was 10s. per day. The contractors kept standing advertisements in all the newspapers throughout Australia, to the effect that in that district there was plenty of work for any persons who might choose to go there. The advertisements induced hundreds of persons to go. On their arrival they were offered employment at the usual rate of wages. When a very large number of persons had been attracted to the district, what happened? No longer was 10s. per day paid. The men had to accept any wage, because they were unable to leave the district unless they walked away with their swags on their backs.
– If they had gone there under contract that could not have happened.
– Most decidedly it could have happened, because the job lasted over three years. Suppose that the men who had gone to the district under a six months’ contract. At the end of that time the contractor could have lowered the wages, because the market would then have been flooded with men. It cost the men, I suppose, £6 on £7 to go from Sydney to the district, but for ^13 per head a contractor could bring in men by steamer from the old country. If a contractor had a large job in progress, and he considered that the wages were too high, he could import men under contract just as easily as he could indent goods. He could swamp a district for very little more than it would cost him to bring up men from the southern part of Australia. Some honorable senators point out that the contract labourer would come with a surety that he would have some employment when he landed. It should be remembered that a contract could be made just sufficiently long to . enable the employer to recover the money which he had advanced in importing the labour. When a number of contract immigrants had been brought into a district, it would be utterly impossible for the Government to prevent the wages from being brought below the minimum rate. This proceeding is . by no means novel in Australia. In the western part of Queensland, employers have objected fO’ employ men who for years had been earning their livelihood at shear.ing sheds in one place or other. The men made themselves objectionable to the employer through belonging to an organization, and when they returned to the district they were told that there was no employment for local men because Victorian money had been invested in the industry, and an order had been issued by the company to bring in men from Victoria. Any one who knows the cost of proceeding from Melbourne to the middle of Queensland will realize that such employers would be prepared to shut out local men when the roll was called. The only reason which some honorable senators have given for supporting “the Bill is that it would allow persons of our own nationality to come in under contract without any restriction. But, in my opinion, there are persons in the British Empire whom it would not touch.
It does not say that any British subject may come in, but it says that “ British subjects born in the United Kingdom, or their descendants born in any part of the British Empire,” may enter. There are quite a number of persons in the British Empire to whom it would not apply. For instance, the people of Lower Canada are, for the’ most part, descended, not from people born in the United Kingdom, but from French persons who settled in Canada. They have not, to any considerable extent, intermarried with either British subjects born iri the United Kingdom, or the descendants of such persons.
– Will the honorable senator assist us to insert the words “or descended from a FrenchCanadian “ ?
– If it is to apply at all, it seems to me that it ought to apply all round to British subjects. Does it include the Eurasian?
– -Decided lv not.
– If a British subject, who was born in the United Kingdom, went to India and married an Indian, then his children could claim to be descended on one side from a British subject born in the United Kingdom.
– We shall apply the language test to Eurasians.
– Take, again, the case of a man born in Guernsey or Jersey.
– Surely the honorable senator would not quibble about a Guernsey man or a Jersey man?
– All I am anxious to elicit is whether the clause includes the descendants of British subjects born in the British Isles.
– Born in the United Kingdom. .
– Does the clause include all British subjects who are living within the Empire, or where is the line going to be drawn. I have heard a great deal about the legislation that was passed in 1 901 not being satisfactory. I do not believe that if we took the opinion of Australia to-day we should find that 20 per cent, of the people are dissatisfied with that legislation.
– Is not the Employers’ Association dissatisfied?
– I quite admit that. It has been dissatisfied ever since the legislation was passed. Here is a resolution which the Employers’ Federation has passed, complimenting the Opposition in this. Parliament on its recent action : -
That the thanks and congratulations of this federation be forwarded to Mr. Dugald Thomson, M.H.R., for having successfully proposed and carried an amendment to the Contract Immigrants Bill, exempting white British subjects from the operation of the more drastic portion of the law, this federation regarding the concession obtained as a good step in the right direction.
If I voted on the side of the people who carried a resolution like that, I should think at once that I was on the wrong side.
– Does not the honorable senator think that they should also thank Mr. Deakin and Mr. Watson?
– When, from a source like the Employers’ Federation, commendation such as that is received, it ought to be enough to convince the members of the party to which I belong, who support this Bill, that they are on the wrong track. We know, from the opinions expressed by honorable senators opposite, who represent the employers’ party more than do any other members of the Senate, and who share in the ideas and aspirations of that party, that they accept this Bill as a small modicum of what they hope ultimately to effect. Honorable senators opposite have said, “ We want this immigration legislation wiped out altogether ; we want Australia to be a country to which’ men can come, contract or no contract ; and we believe that when any person wants to get labour into Australia he should be able to get it from Europe or America so long as the people he brings out are of the white race.” This Bill affords opportunities for any amount of misrepresentation on the part of those who have induced people in other countries to come to Australia under contract.I know it may be said that immigrants who are brought out under the measure will be protected so far as concerns their wages and their hours of labour. But when they are told that the place where they are to work is so and so, and that the wages which they are to receive are the wages of the district in which they will work, the whole truth is not told to them. There is plenty of scope for misrepresentation. Let me give an illustration. I travel through a good part of this country every year. I travelled hundreds of miles last year. I saw large numbers of unemployed everywhere I went. Travelling through the northern parts of Queensland I saw numbers of men just scratching a bare living in the mineral districts; I also saw large numbers on the roads looking for employment. They were travelling in parts of the country where they would not have been at that time of the year if they had been able to find employment in any other places. The wages paid in the parts of the State to which I allude are very low. .
– Does the honorable senator think that that has anything to do with this Bill?
– I think it has. When we find that there are large numbers of men who are working for a very low wage - though the amount might not be considered low by the people who are employing them, and who might desire to bring out contract immigrants, under misrepresentations as to wages - I say that decidedly it has a good deal to do with the Bill. It is because such things can be done that I intend to vote against the second reading. Take a place where 2,000 or 3,000 men are employed, and where we will say the wages are 8s. per day. Suppose the employers think it necessary to reduce wages. Suppose the place was Mount Morgan ; though I do not believe it would be, because the employers there pay very fair rates, and that they wanted to reduce wages all round. Suppose this Bill were passed containing a section enabling them to ship hundreds of men from Great Britain to Rockhampton ; that they did so, and that the employers were under contract to pay these men 8s. a day for six months, that sum being the ruling rate in the district. The employers could bring them in,, knowing very well that the passage money would be refunded to them. It would be part of the agreement that the labourers should pay their own passage money, and, as the wages were earned, instalments would be deducted for that purpose. Suppose the men were brought out a few hundreds at a time. The employers could say to the men already employed, “ We are bringing out a considerable number of men who we think are better able to do the work than you.,” and they could dismiss hundreds of the workmen already in their employment. But how long would it be before there would be such an over-supply of labour in that district that the employers would be able to say - “We do not think we can keep this going any longer; as dividends have fallen off lately, it is necessary for us to reduce wages.” They would have the power to do that, and they would not scruple to exercise it. It is because 1 realize that we are putting this power into the hands of men who have shown in. the past that they are prepared to take advantage of every possible opportunity to reduce wages, and to make the conditions of workmen worse financially, that I object to putting any additional weapon in their hands, and shall vote against the second reading of the Bill.
– When I was young, and had more time for reading poetry than I have now, I read two lines which have stuck in my memory ever since. They were written by the poet Rogers: -
We watch the wheels of Nature’s mazy plan, And learn the future by the past of man.
From what I can see of the Senate as at present constituted, there is not the slightest fear of it trying to learn the future effects of legislation from the experience of the past. The Senate has been in existence over four years. We have passed many Acts of Parliament; and unless we have the justice, the honour, and the common sense to try to learn and remember lessons from the results of what we have done, I for one shall absolutely despairof ever having any proper legislation passed. I shall alludeto two circumstances, one of which was referred to yesterday, in respect to the Bill with which we were then dealing. It was stated over and over again that the Japanese Government had made no representations concerning the amendment of our Jaw, whereas Senator Pulsford - -
– The honorable senator must not discuss a Bill that we dealt with yesterday. There is a standing order which says that a senator must not refer to previous debates.
– I am merely illustrating an argument. Although the statement which I have mentioned was denied, there is the absolute fact that out of the mouth of the Consul for Japan–
– That has nothing to do with this Bill.
– I think I have a
Tight to illustrate the argument which I am adducing.
– The honorable senator has no right to allude to yesterday’s debate..
– I will illustrate the point further by the Biff in front of us.
Honorable senators opposite have contended over and over again that they are in favour of immigration - that they wish to see Australia peopled by British subjects. Senator Henderson said, not long ago, that he would be delighted to see an influx of crowds of people from the old land. But he had not the candour to tell us what Senator Findley told us yesterday - and what I take to be the true policy of the Labour Party - that they do not want a single man to enter this Commonwealth either under contract or in any other way so long as they can point to a few unemployed in some corner of Australia. That, I believe, is an honest and candid expression of what the policy of the Labour Party is. And if that be so -and I assert that it is; I insist that it is, because I know that it is - all that I have to say is that the Labour Party never will be in favour of any immigration to Australia. And if we Can logically and truthfully derive that policy from the utterances of members of the Labour Party, we cannot wonder that the leading journals of Great Britain derive exactly the same policy. And therefore it is known throughout the length and breadth of Great Britain that the people of Australia, influenced by the Labour Party, do not desire any immigration whatever. Unfortunately, when we go into these heated subjects we can never agree about the facts, and will not. admit the most palpable things that are brought under our notice. What is the use of the members of the Labour Party saying, one after another, that it is not our laws which have got us into disrepute, but the slanders of the capitalist party and press, when we have before us the opinions of the six AgentsGeneral, who are old and experienced politicians ?
– Some of them are too old for their position.
– I understand that experience is not a bad qualification, and some of these. Agents-General have taken part in fighting for the very laws of which Senator Findley approves. ‘ I cannot allow the honorable senator to sneer at the age of the Agents-General.
– I meant the age of their views.
– These AgentsGeneral, with their responsibilities, experience, and knowledge of opinion in the old’ country, are far better judges on the ques- tion of fact than honorable senators opposite.
– The opinion expressed is that of only a small section of the Agents-General.
– Senator Gould has saved me the trouble of quoting the reports of these gentlemen; but they deemed it their duty to say-
– Who are “ they “?
– The six AgentsGeneral.
– The Agents-General of New Zealand, South Australia, and Western Australia did not take part.
– What have we to do with New Zealand? We are now discussing the alleged slanders in England, and I am trying to show, on the authority of the Agents-General, that it is the laws of the Commonwealth which have brought Australia into disrepute.
– Only some of the Agents- General took part, and I am sure you will not find the Agent-General of South Australia, Mr. Grainger, among them.
– I find that the report is signed by, amongst others, Mr. Jenkins, for South Australia. The Minister is so anxious to curry favour with his party and supporters, and to drive his Bill through, that he has not even read the report of the Agents-General. The Agents-General deem it their duty to point out that the legislation, which we are now considering, has been a veritable stumblingblock in their way, and that it has. created a bad influence against Australia in every part of the United Kingdom. Could evidence be better, or language stronger? If we appointed a Commission to inquire as to the cause of the socalled slanders - but truthful statements, in my opinion - could we call better witnesses than those Agents-General who, I suppose, read the press on both sides, tabulate notes of all matters affecting the Commonwealth, and discuss questions of the kind with bankers, commercial men, and people from different portions of the Empire?
– Would the honorable senator be willing to insert a clause to allow lawyers to be introduced into the Commonwealth* under contract?
– The honorable senator is talking nonsense, and the President has told us, over and over again, that such interjections are irrelevant. My point is, that if the Labour Party, honestly, as I believe, hold the views I have indicated, we cannot expect them to ever favour any kind of immigration? A great many moderate members of the Labour Party would, in their hearts, I believe, like to follow the example of Senator Turley, whose speech to-day rather astonished me, as showing the extreme to which he would go, and thus risk marring the prosperity of this or any other country.
– Senator Turley proved too much.
– -Not only did Sena tor Turley go beyond Senator Findley in saying that he had met, or knew, hundreds of men who were out of employment, and that, therefore, he could not possibly vote for a Bill sanctioning immigration while that condition of things continues, but he added that he knew hundreds of men who were employed in country places at low wages, and that immigration would be to the prejudice of those men, whose wages would be taken as the standard. Senator Turley’s argument, driven to a logical conclusion, means that, while throughout the Commonwealth there is one section of workers whose wages and conditions, in the opinion of a labour member, happen to be unsatisfactory, the door should be barred to our fellow-British subjects. It is hopeless to expect a Labour Party holding such views to receive with sympathy any Bill to assist immigration. The views of Senator Turley on this question are so narrow, so circumscribed, and so undoubtedly favorable to class legislation, that if they were carried into effect they would destroy the progress and prosperity of every man in the Commonwealth, including the class he represents.
– I am opposed to any man being brought in under contract.
– And, I suppose also to any man coming in free?
– No. Let as many men come in as choose, so long as they find their own way.
– We are making a great fuss about nothing, so far as the practical effect of the Bill is concerned, but we are doing a most important work in placing ourselves right in the opinion of our fellow subjects in Great Britain. We have the authority of the Prime Minister that very few men under contract have come in in the past, and that he expects very few in the future. We are informed by the Prime Minister that last year there were not one dozen applicants for contract labour certificates made to’ the Government. After all, we are passing a. Bill which permits the immigration of British subjects under restrictions which are very great and far-reaching, and I do not know that the measure will do the good that is expected. The provisions are most restrictive in so far as they enable the Minister to insist that every contract shall be placed before him before the immigrant lands. It is all very fine for the Prime Minister and other Ministers to. say that the contract must be submitted in advance ; but men in the hurryskurry of business, in this twentieth century, can scarcely be expected, three or four months in advance, to submit to a Minister, at the Seat of Government, a contract for the engagement of a man then 12,000 miles away. If we want our British fellow, subjects to come to Australia, why not be content with the other conditions, without imposing this further restriction, and thereby nullifying the very provision we all favour? At first I had intended to move that the High Commissioner and the Agents-General should be substituted for the Minister, but I do not propose to take that course now. I- do desire, however, to make the clause water-tight and workable, and therefore I intend to propose that, the Minister may depute his authority to the High Commissioner, or to the Agent-General of any State. The emigrants will be engaged in Great Britain, and therefore will have no trouble in applying at the offices of the Agents-General.
– The amendment is entirely unnecessary, because it is already provided in the Bill that the powers of the Minister may be deputed to any “officer authorized by him.”
– Does Senator Playford tell me that the Minister will appoint some one else to administer the Act ?
– I cannot say what the Minister will do, because I am not going to be the Minister. I should say, however, that the Minister will exercise common-sense and intelligence.
– The provision to which Senator Playford refers was inserted in order to provide for the absence or illness of the Minister. Does ‘Senator Playford mean to say that the Minister will appoint the High Commissioner, or any officer in London?
– When I moved the second reading I expressed the opinion that this provision meant that an officer would be appointed in London.
– I am very glad to hear that statement, and under the circumstances, I shall not move an amendment.: However, I notice that a contract under the Bill can be entered into only by a person “ resident in Australia.” In order to meet cases of large manufacturers, or squatters who live in England, and only visit Australia once every two or three years, I think we ought to make the clause read, “ resident or carrying on business in Australia.” The clause dealing with the “equal skill and ability” phase seems to be unduly strict and unworkable. In my opinion, the words of the original Act are preferable, namely, that the Minister or officer shall be of opinion that the skill of the worker who is seeking to enter is “required in the Commonwealth.” “I do not see how any Minister, officer, or AgentGeneral is to satisfy himself on the point. It is hopeless to expect a Minister or official to honestly and properly adjust such a calculation.
– Then the logical course for the honorable senator is to move to strike the clause out.
– I shall not do that, but merely suggest another way of arriving at the same result. The Bill is open to the further criticism that a distinction ought to be made between the ordinary labourer or navvy and a skilled mechanic. Of what use is it to apply the Words “ skill “ and “ability” to the work of the manual labourers ?’
– All labour is skilled, as the honorable senator would find if he went navvying.
– If the honorable senator went cracking stones he would find that another man could beat him hollow.
– I do not think that it was ever intended to apply these words as Senator Pearce applies them. There is some distinction to be drawn between halfadozen hatters, trained from their youth in the most important branches of hat manufacture, and workers who have not been so trained. But if we required 1,000 men to build a railway to the West, and1 could not get them here, we could not import men and refer to them as having greater skill and ability than men who are here, using the word “skill” in its ordinary acceptation.
However, if the Labour Party and the Government are of opinion that that expression does not require alteration, I shall let it pass. With regard to the question of the Anglo-Indian, I take leave to differ from Senator Playford. I take it that if a British subject went to India and married a native of that country, trie offspring of the marriage would be entitled to come into the Commonwealth under this Bill.
– He would have all the vices and none of tUe virtues of his parents.
– What sort of an answer is that to my argument? I believe that under the Bill he would be entitled to enter the Commonwealth.
– Whether he was vicious or otherwise.
– Quite so.
– I do not think so.
– Just as individuals are competing .with each other in the race of life, so every nation in the world is striving against other nations ; and I should like to know how we are to keep up with Canada, the United States, Argentina, and Mexico with all their lands, riches, and opportunities for employment if at the same time they open their doors wider to immigrants than we do?
– If the Honorable senator says that Canada opens her door wider than we do he cannot understand the Canadian Act.
– I have extracts from it here, and can tell the honorable senator what it provides. Under the contract section of the Canadian Act it is provided that no foreigner shall enter Canada under contract at all. But the section goes on to provide that it shall not apply to the people of foreign nations who admit Canadians into their country. That is a reciprocal treaty between Canada and foreign nations.
– We do not admit Canadians under contract.
– Has the honorable senator noticed that the Agents-General, in the report to which he has referred, made the statement that Canada has sent back to the old country thousands of disappointed emigrants ?
– But on what ground? They were rejected on the ground of illhealth.
– They were rejected, anyhow.
– The honorable senator should bear in mind that, although Canada may have rejected thousands on the ground of ill-health, and as being unfit to weather her frightful winter, tens of thousands of immigrants are entering the Dominion every month, and are encouraged to go there. How are we to succeed in the race with countries that have land at their disposal, and a reasonable immigration policy, when we have the most restricted policy that Mr. Attorney-General Isaacs, helped by the Labour Party, could devise?
– It all depends upon the States; the Commonwealth has not the land to offer.
– The honorable senator says that we have not the land.
– No; it is a matter for the States to deal with.
– I rise to a point of order. Many honorable senators have been prevented from addressing themselves to this aspect of the question.
– I ask honorable senators not to deal with the land question. The Bill before the Senate is not a measure to bring out immigrants and give them land. It deals with but a small part of the immigration question. I ask the leader of the Senate, at all events1, not to bring in the land question.
– I did not bring it in.
– I am glad, sir, that you have rebuked the leader of the Senate, though the honorable senator now denies his own words.
– I do not deny them, but I say that the honorable senator introduced the land question first.
– I said that the nations to which I have referred open their doors to immigrants, and the honorable senator stated that it was because they have land to offer. Another matter with which I . propose to deal is the question of the introduction of contract labour in relation to the. sugar plantations. The number of contract immigrants arriving here under the existing Act is very small, and it is not likely to be greatly increased under the restrictive provisions of this Bill. I remind honorable senators that it is very likely that an effort will be made to introduce contract labour under this Bill for work on the sugar plantations, because it is possible that we shall find that white labour is scarce in North Queensland.
– Does the honorable senator- suggest that coloured labour should be brought in under contract for the sugar plantations ?
– Senator Matheson’s remark is unworthy of him. We know that he is so ingrained with every doctrine of the Labour Party that labour politics bubble out of him like water out of a spout. My honorable friends opposite seem to me to be quite incapable of believing that any man who happens to have a shilling in his pocket, and is therefore a capitalist, can be anything but the most conservative, selfish, and unprogressive of individuals. I took special notice of the speech delivered by Senator Higgs, and I regard the carrying on of the sugar industry by white labour as one of the most important matters with which we have to deal. We shall have to consider it in a few hours’ time, when we have the Sugar Bounty Bill before us ; and I believe that when the 6,000 kanakas now in Queensland are deported, there may be some difficulty in getting the 4,000 white men who will be required to supply their place, and I think some provision might be made in this Bill to meet it. It is very important to consider in this connexion what are fair conditions for workers in the industry if we are to introduce white labourers under contract to carry it on. If we are to be asked to vote another ^1,000,000 in sugar bounties, immediate steps should he taken to obtain white labour for the plantations. The day is close at hand when the kanakas will have to be deported, and we should know whether white labourers will be available in sufficient numbers to take their places. If it is found that they are not available, we should set to work under this Bill to import foreigners, whether Italians, e or people of other European nations, to do the work required to be done, and to keep Australia white, even on the sugar plantations. We must do what is necessary to save this great industry from being annihilated, in spite of the bolstering up we have to give it, and must continue to give it. This question of contract labour for the sugar plantations is about the most important that can arise under the Bill, and every effort should be made under it to provide white labour for the sugar plantations of the tropical regions. If this Bill is to be mutilated in Committee, and the one or two steps in advance for which it provides are not to be taken, it will do more harm to the Commonwealth than anything that has happened so far, because the people at Home will get it into their heads that, in spite of all our protestations that we desire to welcome them with open arms, we really do nothing of the kind, and they will be able to point to the laws on our statute-book.
– I do not propose to speak at anygreat length on the second reading of this Bill, but when one intends to vote against a measure, he should be prepared to give a few reasons for doing so. I am opposed to this Bill, because I believe it will relax our existing legislation dealing with the introduction of contract immigrants. Instead of relaxing our contract labour Taw, we should endeavour to discover means to make it more effective, because there are many instances in which labourers have been brought into Australia under contract, to the detriment of Australian workers.
– We know that in many cases they have improved their conditions by coming out here in that way
– I have never known any men brought out here to take the place of workers already in Australia who have done any good for themselves or for those whom they have displaced. I know of men who were brought out here under contract, and upon whom the stigma of “ black-legs “ has lain for over a generation. I know of men brought into the Newcastle district nearly forty years ago in this way, and they are even to-day looked down upon, because of the conditions under which they came out to Australia. We can find instances of a much more recent date of men brought out to Australia under contract to do work in this country that white men were doing until they struck work against what they considered unjust terms. I recognise the rights of the Australian worker, and I see no reason for introducing contract labour to Australia.
– Australia for the Australians, and nobody else?
– I am prepared to give Australians the first choice for work offering in this country, and when the Australian workers are served, outsiders can come in. Until Australians’ are served, there is, in my opinion, no room for outsiders, and we should not relax our laws in order to permit labourers to be brought into Australia under contract to take the place of those already in work, or to swell the ranks of the unemployed. That, in my opinion, would be cruel to those who are brought into the country, as well as to those who are already here.
– Is the honorable senator aware of any country in which there are no unemployed?
– Unfortunately, under our present industrial system, it is only too true that there is no country in which there are not unemployed, but that is certainly no reason why we should seek to increase the number of unemployed in Australia. Two blacks will never make a white. That is no reason why we should increase the number of our unemployed. I am sure that if Senator Walker had had any experience of what it means to be unemployed, he would be the last man here to take any step to increase the number of that army.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that so long as there are twenty unemployed persons in Australia we are not to allow other persons to come in under contract?
– While there are unemployed persons in Australia we should not open the door to the introduction of contract labour. Let me give an instance of the way in which it has been used to the detriment of local workers.. In several States contract labour has been introduced. In Western Australia, Italians have been brought in, and employed in the gold mines. The circumstances surrounding their arrival were of so suspicious a nature that every one felt satisfied that they had come out under contract, especially when they displaced men who were much better miners than themselves. On their arrival in the State they went straight to the gold-fields, and dropped into a position as soon as they presented themselves, at a mine. It was proved that as miners they were inferior to the Australians, who had to go elsewhere and look for a living.
– In what way was that proved ?
– A Royal Commission was appointed to make an inquiry, but I am sorry to say that its conclusions were rather confusing. The Commission was unable to get evidence which would enable it to state beyond a shadow of doubt that the Italians had been imported under contract. Of course, it could not get evidence from the contract labourers ; but other Italians admitted that their countrymen had been brought out under contract. That system has been practised not only in
Western Australia, but also in Victoria. Take, for instance, the Scotchmen who were recently brought out from Lanarkshire - practically from the district in which I was born - to the coal mines of Gippsland. The Miners’ Union of Gippsland were unable to prove in a Court of law that these men had been brought out under contract; but I had a statement from them to that effect. Realizing that it is, a greater disgrace for a Britisher to be displaced by a fellow-countryman than by a foreigner, I went down to the boat to see my fellowcountrymen on their arrival. I pointed out to them that they were going to Gippsland to take the bread out of the mouths of other workers who were fighting a battle which, in my opinion, was quite justifiable. I asked them not to go near the mines. The brother of the manager, Mr. McKenzie, was at their elbow, and, of course, they told me that they were not under contract. In a few days they found themselves at the Gippsland mines. When the true state of affairs, was disclosed, some of them rejected the work which in Scotland they had contracted to do. On their return from Gippsland I interviewed some of them, and they candidly told me that they had come out under contract.
– On their own showing, they are liars.
– In the first instance they were warned that if they were to tell the truth they would be put in gaol, and, therefore, in order to save their skins, they told me that they had not come out under contract.
– How could they be put in gaol for telling the truth?
– -The men were told that they would be put in gaol if they let it become known here that they had come out under contract.
– That is very like a whale.
– In view of facts which have since transpired, I am satisfied that on the second occasion they told me the truth. They were good workmen, better than the majority of the men who were working in the collieries. It was a credit to them that they refused ‘to work under the local conditions,, and returned to the old country at their own expense. The man from whom I received this version was working his passage home on a White Star boat. These are instances concerning which there can be no doubt.
– There is very considerable doubt about them, because by the honorable senator’s admission the men had previously told him an untruth.
– I think it can be easily understood by most persons how this man came to tell an untruth in the first instance. When he was met in Gippsland by the local miners, their wives, and their children, his manhood rose to the occasion, and rather than accept the work under the circumstances, he decided to work his passage ba:k to Lanarkshire. Whenever a question of this kind is under discussion the Labour Party are taunted with being anxious to keep the country to themselves, and to exclude their fellow countryman. But I contend that we are doing a greater kindness to the people in the old country by letting them know the true position of the labour market in Australia than by doing, anything calculated to induce them to come here, unless they had work to go to, and would not displace other men.
– Does the honorable senator recognise that men, by leaving home, give the people at home a better chance of living?
– I remember the old adage that “ Charity begins at home.” The home which I have in my mind, when I use that word, is Australia. My duty is to consider the people of this country before I consider the people of the old country. There is no escaping from the fact that the sugar plantations are the most likely places into which contract labour would be introduced. We all know that by the <;nd of 1906 the South Sea Islanders will have to be deported, and that cheap labour will be desired by (he large planters. During our trip to Queensland this year it was put to us plainly that the planters required, and must have, cheap contract labour. At the same time, we were made acquainted with the working conditions of the white men in the district. In the sugar mills and cane-fields, particularly in the sugar mills, the ordinary rate of pay was 25s. a week and rations, and for that remuneration the men ha,d to work twelve hours a day. Suppose that it were desired to initiate the 8-hour system in the cane-fields. Contract labour could be imported to work twelve hours a day. and we could do nothing to prevent Its introduction. In view of the climatic conditions and the nature of the work, an attempt should be made, I contend, to improve the lot of the white workers. The Bill leaves a loop-hole for the introduction of a very large number of contract labourers. It would not be desirable to see white working men displaced by contract labour.
– It could not be brought in from any country other than Great Britain. . ‘
– I believe that the planters would experience some difficulty in getting men there; in fact, I do not think that they could.
– Then the honorable senator’s fear is groundless, because contract labour could not be imported from any country other than Great Britain.
– I am unwilling to enact any conditions in which I ,do not believe. The sugar industry is one in which better conditions ought to prevail. It is one of the most remunerative industries in Australia. In view of the dividends which it has yielded, it is just as able to adopt the 8-hour principle as is any other industry. Having regard to the amount of protection which it has received, better conditions ought to be introduced. It is simply nonsense to talk of white labour being, brought into the sugar districts while the working conditions comprise twelve hours a day. As the result of my visit, I feel satisfied that, even in Queensland, there is enough labour to supply the demand, but if there is not, certainly there is plenty of labour to be obtained in the other States, where, to my knowledge, men ate working at very low wages. From time to time it has been urged that the Labour Party do not wish to see’ Australia peopled by outsiders, that our unemployed are professional loafers, and do not want work. Even in this debate we have been told that the unemployed hang about the cities instead of going to the country and seeking work where it could be found. Let my honorable friends go to the utmost limit of civilization in Australia and they will find men working for miserable wages. In Western Australia I have seen men working on the alluvial for a miserably low wage. In the mining districts of Australia, such as Kalgoorlie, there are armies of men looking for work. In coastal mining districts like Newcastle, I am satisfied that there is not enough work to keep the men fully employed more than three days a week.
Where, then, is the necessity for bringing men to Australia under contract? References have been made to the six hatters in the course of this debate. That is a very old gag, and an absurd one. I shall not refer to it at any length, because, even those who have been making most use of that gag must be getting somewhat tired of it. But some of the six hatters themselves recognise the fallacy that underlies this Bill. I hold in my hand a letter signed by one of them, and I will read it to give honorable senators an opportunity to see what they think of contract labour. The man who wrote this letter came out under contract, and is therefore in a position to express an opinion. He knows the conditions that prevail in the old country, and is by this time fairly well acquainted with the conditions prevailing in Australia. Mr. Sam. Grimshaw, the secretary of the Felt Hatters’ Society of New South Wales, in a letter written to Mr. Tudor, a member of another place, says: -
I am instructed by the above Society to inform you that at the last meeting we unanimously carried a resolution against amending the Contract Clauses of the Immigration Restriction Act. We believe that it is only a move on the part of the Employers’ Federation to give them an opening to import as many workmen into the country as they think fit ; and get the labour market overstocked, so as to bring wages down. Nearly every member of our Society was present at the meeting at which this resolution was carried. I remain, &c,
Sam. Grimshaw, Secretary.
– That is a letter from the union, not from Mr. Grimshaw personally.
– Did he not speak as the mouth-piece of the union?
-He says that almost every member of this society was present at the meeting at which this resolution was carried unanimously. Surely that is sufficient proof as to whether it expresses his opinions. He certainly was present as secretary.
– Having got into Australia himself, he wants to keep others out.
– He knows the conditions that prevail here, and he wishes to prevent contract labour being brought to our shores. I certainly agree with him. I am sufficiently well acquainted with unionism and with labour troubles to know that his opinion is that of nine-tenths of the trade unionists of Australia. Wherever there has been an opportunity to reduce wages, whether by bringing men from the old country or by taking them from one part of Australia to another, employers of labour have not hesitated to do it. I have seen that sort of thing done so frequently that I quite expect that if we legislate to enable it to be done advantage will be taken of the law. I am satisfied that if this Bill becomes law it will be one of the most dangerous Acts that have been passed in Australia. The Employers’ Federation does not disguise the aim of its members, and if we give them legislative authority to bring out contract labour, they will hail the opportunity with great delight. I shall not give them a chance if I can prevent it.
– They had the opportunity for years, and never took advantage of it.
– I have given instances where it has been done since the commencement of this Parliament; once in Victoria, and on the second occasion in Western Australia. If the employers have a legal right to do it, they will not hesitate to make use of their power. Honorable senators do not need to be told that there are numbers of unemployed in this country who cannot find work to do. For my own part, I have just as strong an objection to Britishers coming here and displacing our own workmen as I have to kanakas or foreigners doing the same thing. I hope, at any rate, to see the particular clause of the Bill, which I look upon as one of the utmost dangerous proposals that has ever been brought before this Parliament, defeated by a large majority. Indeed, I do not think that any other Ministry that has yet been in office in Australia would have had the audacity to introduce a measure of the kind. I believe there is not another Parliament in Australia in which such an attempt would havebeen made to permit contract labour to be introduced. I cannot understand how it comes about that such a proposition has been made in a Parliament whose democratic principles are supposed to be so strong. I hope that the Federal Parliament will keep up its reputation for the kind of legislation we have hitherto passed, and will reject the proposal now made to us.
– I very much regret that in the course of this debate an honorable senator has thought fit to charge me with want of sincerity for having the presumption to take a course different from that which he proposes to take. He did not wait to enable me to say how I intended to vote in regard to this Bill. He assumed that I was going to take a certain course ; and in. that dogmatic manner which so often characterises him, accused me of having something up my sleeve, or that I had some underhand idea in supporting the second reading. Well, the honorable senator is welcome to his opinion. I only wish to say that I give him credit for being sincere in his opposition to the Bill. I could just as easily accuse him of having some motive in opposing it.
– I have a motive in opposing it.
– I could just as easily accuse him of having ‘a wrong or an ulterior motive.
– I do not think that the report of my speech in Hansard will bear out the honorable senator’s statement.
– I have no wish to placate the honorable senator in any way, and it will not influence my course whether he regards me as voting in the right or in the wrong. It would evidently be far more popular for me to vote against this Bill than in favour of it, because it is possible that a certain construction may be placed on the votes of those who support the second reading which will not be to our advantage.
– There is only one possible construction - that the honorable member recognises that he made a mistake in supporting the existing Act.
– I do not believe that I have made any mistake in this matter. It would be to my own advantage, if I were seeking my own advantage, to get up and trumpet about a White Australia, to make out that this Bill will break down the great fabric of policy which we have established, and that it is intended to facilitate, the introduction of millions of contract labourers into the Commonwealth to take work out of the hands of those who are here at the present time. It might be popular for me to describe the Bill as one to increase the number of (unemployed in Australia/, and to take away the wages of those who are now earning their living here. I could easily play that game, and no doubt it would be very popular for me to do so. But if I did’ I should have to express those sentiments with my tongue in my cheek, for I should not believe them. But I claim that, in taking what may be the more unpopular, course, I am acting consistently with the vote I gave in the first Parliament of the Commonwealth. Furthermore I wish to point out what every honorable senator ought to know., that in voting for the second reading I do not commit myself to all the details of the Bill, nor do I say that I regard it as a perfect measure. In fact, if the honorable senator had taken the trouble to inquire, he would have known that I have already circulated an amendment which I think is calculated to make the Bill more drastic and to tighten the restrictions against the introduction of contract labour. I do not give my assent to all the provisions of the Bill. “ There are some which I think require amendment. There are others for the rejection of which I shall vote.
– But, in the main, the honorable senator thinks it is an improvement on the original Act.
– I will give the honorable senator, before I sit down, my reasons for my opinions. No doubt there has been a big outcry against the Immigration Restriction Act of 1901 ; but only a bold man would contend that this, was wholly the result of inherent fault or weakness in the legislation. Much of the agitation was due to the desire of certain political parties, then in a minority, to make capital by decrying not only the Immigration Restriction Act, but all the legislation of the first Parliament, in an endeavour to justify their existence and gain the support of the electors. Therefore, I am not moved to support this Bill by any opposition that may have been shown to the original Act, most of that opposition being due to ignorance, prejudice, and party bias. There is, however, one objection which- has been raised to the Act, and which has sufficient weight to induce me to vote not only for the second reading of this Bill, but to support the Immigration Restriction Amendment Bill passed last night. I have for some time recognised the necessity to separate the legislation, the object of which is the attainment of a White Australia, for reasons which are purely racial, from legislation directed against the immigration of Europeans under contract on purely industrial’ grounds. I have always held that the strongest argument in favour of a White Australia is the racial argument, and I have never based my support of that policy on industrial grounds. Contract immigration is a matter of industrial consideration ; no one could say that if we were to abolish entirely all the laws which regulate contract European labour, we should be placed in any racial danger, though we all admit that the unrestricted importation of such labour, even European and British, would be a serious menace to us industrially. I, therefore, welcome the present Bill, because it enables us to separate the legislation dealing with two great principles. Whatever conflict of opinion may justly arise in regard to the industrial question, the Immigration ‘ Restriction Act is based entirely on considerations of a racial character. It will strengthen the position of the advocates of a White Australia to have one measure dealing with the prohibition of coloured aliens and another measure dealing with the importation of Europeans under contract. Sub-section g of section 3 of the original Act, which it is proposed to amend, is the only one that now calls for consideration ; and we have to deal with the essential differences between that provision and the proposals in the amending Bill. It is well known to honorable senators that sub-section g does not alone govern the importation of contract labour into Australia, but that in order to make that provision effective there are regulations which have been altered from time to time, and are still in force, and that these, to a great extent, are drafted on the lines of the amending Bill. With perhaps one exception, the amending Bill is simply an amplification of paragraph g of section 3 of the original Act. and I see no objection to tha principle of that subsection being carried out in a separate measureThe only objection that occurs to me is that in one section of the amending Bill there may be loopholes which afford greater facilities for the entrance of immigrants into the Commonwealth under obnoxious forms of contract’. There are. however, certain advantages in the Bill which are not presented by paragraph g of section 3 of the principal Act, beyond, of course, those afforded by the regulations to which I have referred. Under paragraph g, of section 3, until the officer puts the test to the immigrant just prior to his landing, there is no official knowledge of any intention to import contract labour, unless the employer has applied to the Minister for permission to introduce workmen, because of the inability to obtain men of the skill required within the Commonwealth. When it is ascertained by the officer from the immigrant that a contract is in existence, and permission to land is refused, it is the duty of the employer to prove that workmen of the necessary skill are not available in the particular district for which the immigrant is destined. There is no necessity for the employer to. make his declarations on oath, and whatever he says has to be accepted, because it is, of course, impossible for the Minister to make inquiries in the district where the industry is carried on. Under the Bill, however, a copy of the contract has to be given to the Minister, and the terms of that contract have to be sworn to by the employer. As to the case of the six hatters, if the statements of Senator Mulcahy are correct, the principal Act has not achieved its purpose in the way that Senator Givens has claimed. Senator Mulcahy has stated that there was no scarcity of labour of this particular kind, and that had the principal Act been enforced, in letter and in spirit, the six hatters would not have been allowed to land. I do not think that is quite a correct statement of the case, but, if it is, what becomes of the contention of those who argue that all that is required is the existing Act? According to Senator Mulcahy, in the very case around which the controversy raged, the Minister was able to put aside the provisions of the Act.
– By straining the law.
– Is it not a question of discretion ?
– As Senator Best indicates, it is a matter of opinion formed bv the Minister on evidence laid before him by the employer. The six hatters case shows the necessity to fully set forth the law in a separate Bill; it shows the necessity for amplifying paragraph g of section 3 of the Act, because otherwise a dozen different Ministers might give a dozen’ different interpretations.
– The Bill does not merely amplify, but liberalizes the Act.
– The Bill amplifies the Act in the light of experience gained during the administration of the latter.
– The Bill is really in the spirit of what was originally intended.
– I think it is.
Senator Mulcahy has stated that any immigrant is admitted to the United States. M)y reading teaches me that thousands of persons are turned away from the American immigration depots i in Europe, as unfit, and inefficient.
– That has been the case for only the last two years.
– That has been the case for years past, and this stream of the unfit and inefficient has been diverted, where? To England, to swell the number of unfit and inefficient foreign residents already there. The dangers of this emigration have stirred public opinion to such an extent that last year,- even a conservative Government introduced a Bill with the object of remedying the evil. Then, again, in last year alone, 1,800 contract immigrants who attempted to land in the United States were sent back to Europe at the expense of the shipping companies by whom they had been carried there. Senator Turley has told us that the Employers’ Federation are congratulating 1 themselves on the introduction of this Bill. It would have been more’ correct to have said, as some supposed supporters of the Bill on the other side have said, that they congratulated themselves upon one subclause being in the Bill. When the Bill was first introduced, Chambers of Commerce, and Chambers of Manufacturers, and the Employers’ Federation met it with bitter hostility, and their representative organs of the press, like the Argus, before this paragraph was introduced into the measure, pointed out that its effect would be to make even more stringent the provisions already existing with respect to the importation of contract labour. The measure was declaimed against from one end of Australia to the other, until the concession contained in the paragraph to which I refer was agreed to in another place. Senator Turley said that employers would go to the other side of the world to obtain labour, and would succeed in obtaining it only by misrepresentation. The honorable senator used that as an argument against the Bill, but I remind him that if employers make misrepresentations when they come to draw up the contract, unless the intending immigrant is a very simple person,, he will see that misrepresentations have been made, because the contract must set out the conditions of labour, wages, and hours. If they are stated truly in the contract, there can be no mis representation; and if the employer puts words that are false into the contract, he will” be brought within the penal provisions of this Bill. If the Bill gets into Committee, I propose to move an amendment that will make it even more certain that persons guilty of such misrepresentations will meet with the punishment they deserve. Honorable senators will agree that if a man brings another several thousand miles to Australia, as the result of a misrepresentation, it is right that he should be adequately punished.
– No persons are brought here in that way.
– I do not say that they are, but Senator Turley has said so, and has used that as an argument against this Bill. Senator de Largie instanced the mining industry as one that would be affected by this Bill. I agree with the honorable senator that in the mining centres of Western Australia there are hundreds of willing workers without employment. But I do not for a moment believe that if this Bill is passed there will be one man brought out under its provisions to compete in the overstocked labour market pf our gold-fields. It must be borne in mind that if men are brought out under contract to work on the Western Australian gold-fields it can only be under the canal-ditions existing there. The miners of Western Australia have proved by their record that they are the most efficient miners in the world, and it will be no advantage to an employer to introduce a less efficient miner from England or elsewhere to work in Western Australia under the same conditions as those now ruling there.
– I admit that there are some good Queensland miners in Western Australia.
– We have some good Queenslanders there. The mining industry of Western Australia is regulated under Arbitration Act awards, and no employer importing a miner under contract could do so at a less rate of wages than men already on the gold-fields are obtaining. Therefore there could be no possible advantage in an employer doing what Senator de Largie has suggested. I come now to the vexed question as to whether we should differentiate between British labour and other European labour. I confess that I dislike any differentiation between any of the European races. I believe that it is the destiny of this Continent to be peopled by the European races, andI dislike making any distinction between them, even thought it should be in favour of our own race. To me it seems that the provision dealing with this matter in the Bill is a concession to national prejudice. But I recognise that there is to be this said for it - that the economic conditions to which the Britisher is accustomed more nearly approach those under which we live in Australia than do those adopted by the other European races.
– Surely he had a better claim upon Australia than a man of any other of the other European races.
– The fact that Australia is a part of the Empire should be taken into consideration.
– I admit that it is a factor which should not be overlooked in dealing with the question.
– We might have 50,000 foreigners here, and the Empire might be fighting the country to which they belong.
– My experience of the foreigner is that in Australia he becomes a good Australian.
– To make a concession to British sentiment is not a bad thing altogether.
– I did not say that it was. What I said was that I consider that it is a concession to national prejudice. I recognise that, in favour of it it can be said that when the Britisher comes here he becomes an Australian more quickly than do the men of other European races. For instance, we have had some trouble with Italians, many of whom have been brought to Australia under contract. They have been a source of trouble on the Western Australian gold-fields, because they settled in one locality, formed a little Italian colony, and some time elapsed before the colony was broken up and the men distributed throughout the gold-fields. I confess that the clause gives me a considerable amount of trouble. There are many arguments which would impel me to vote for it. The difficulty to which I have referred in connexion with the immigration of Italians has arisen, as honorable senators are aware, in a more exaggerated form in the United States. In New York, for instance, there is an Italian colony, a Hungarian colony, and other colonies of foreign immigrants.
– The same thing applies to London.
– That is so; and these colonies of foreigners make it difficult to carry on the national, political, and industrial life of the country to which they emigrate, because they import with them ideas that are foreign to it.
– They celebrate the festivals of their native country, and keep them up regularly.
– That is so. Italians, for instance, really plant a little Italy in the midst of the country to which they emigrate. Wherever this kind of thing occurs, I admit that it is a danger; but if we deal effectively with the contract labour provisions which I have referred to, such a difficulty as that which arose in Western Australia in connexion with the introduction of Italians cannot occur. If the contract sections of the Act had been faithfully administered, many of those Italian immigrants would not have been permitted to land, because it might easily have been proved that there were a sufficient number of white Australians available to do the work for which they were introduced. Whilst I recognise the force of the argument to which I have referred, I also meet it by saying that it rests with the Government by a faithful administration of the Act to prevent such a state of affairs as I have condemned from arising. From my reading, I learn that in the United States of America, precisely the same kind of thing occurs. Numbers of Hungarians, Poles, and people of other European nations have formed little Hungarian, Polish, and Italian colonies in the cities and mining fields of America; and in nearly every case those people were brought in undercontract. But if this law is faithfully administered, we shall be able to prevent the importation of these people to special localities in such numbers as would enable them to engraft their ideas, economics, and industries upon ours. Viewing the question from both sides, I feel that it will be my duty to vote against this particular sub-clause. I feel constrained to treat all European nations in the same way, and I think I should not be acting justly if I were to agree to differentiate between them by allowing British immigrants to be brought here under contract when there might be other men unemployed, and the immigrants introduced might be brought into an already overstocked labour market.
– The honorable senator denies the great axiom of the world that “blood is thicker than water.”
– If a Britisher were brought into Australia under these conditions, and thus added one more to an already overstocked labour market, and lowered wages, the immigrant would himself be a sufferer, because, as soon as his contract expired, he would have to battle in the open, wage market.
– He might go on the land, and be the means of employing labour.
– He is more likely to go under the land under existing conditions.
– So long as Senator Fraser and other propertied Victorians allow the lands of the Western District of this State to be locked up he will have no opportunity to go on the land.
– The Western lands are being cut up every day.
– I shall not detain the Senate further. In- Committee I shall endeavour to have the provision to which I have referred struck out of the principal Act, and I propose to move one or two amendments which, I hope, will have the effect of making the law more stringent than is proposed by this Bill.
– It is four years this month since the principal Act was before the Senate. Honorable senators will remember something of the origin of the provision to which reference has been made. When the Bill was -originally introduced it contained no such provision, and that is some indication of the small attention which was given to a subject which now seems to be all-important to some people. When the Bill came to us, I tried to persuade the Senate to omit the provision altogether. Not succeeding in that, I suggested that we should make it come into effect only if the contract proposed the payment of wages below current rates. Unfortunately, I did not succeed in getting even that accepted. Had it been accepted, Australia would have been saved a great deal of disgrace. There is no doubt that in the four intervening years Australia has suffered a great deal in reputation by the action of that provision. I at once admit that a very great deal of the feeling in the old country is based on a mistaken impression, that the fault which undoubtedly exists in Australia has been immensely magnified, and that we have been painted very much blacker than we are. But need we wonder at this? The people of England cannot, all of them, study these Bills, or be made acquainted with the facts. It is quite evident that throughout the length and breadth of that country the fact that a certain number of Englishmen were checked - I use that limited word - when they wished to land here was widely known, and the fact attracted wide attention, and came as a great shock to the people from whom Australia derives all her right and title to this Continent. There is no doubt at all that this feeling has grown until it has become very acute. This afternoon Senator Henderson read a statement explaining officially the facts with regard to the six hatters’ case. I do not dispute a word when he read. I suppose that, from the official point of view, every word is accurate; but it does not undo the fact that British-born subjects were not allowed to land in Australia on the arrival of the ship. There is. no disputing that simple fact, nor can it be denied that a grave and painful feeling was aroused in the United Kingdom, and I think I might add, throughout more than the United Kingdom, in consequence of the existing state of affairs. Is it not true, then, that a great occasion had arisen? I think I have heard of a writer who spoke of a statesman as one who knew when “to take occasion by the hand.” It would have been well, I think, if the Government of Australia and all those who occupied leading positions in political circles had risen to the occasion and taken it “by the hand.” Instead of that, the Government and the Labour Party seem to be almost afraid to take the occasion by the little finger. It would have been very much to the advantage of Australia if the Government had taken a generous view of the situation, and recommended Parliament to eliminate paragraph g from section 3 of the Act. That would have been a great stroke. It would have done Australia great good. But, instead of that, we have the eleven lines in that paragraph expanded into a Bill of three pages, and it is so full of entanglements, to use the word of Senator Symon, that I am afraid we shall get but limited praise even for the concessions which undoubtedly it does contain. I am free at once to admit that by the mere elimination of paragraph g certain risks would be run, and that occasionally contract labour might have got in under objectionable circumstances. But all life is full of risks. We cannot walk the streets, or eat, or drink, without taking certain risks, If’ we were to refuse to eat or drink because in some cases trouble arose in consequence of doing” so, what would life come to? For the attainment of a great object we might have run this very trifling danger. The number of persons who are likely to come to Australia under contract is so minute that it is not worthy of the prolonged discussion which has been given to the subject here. It would have been very much to the advantage of Australia if we had been willing to take a broad view of the position, and contented ourselves with at once sweeping away the provision, knowing, as T say, that there would have been a little risk, and that at the same time there would have been a great gain. It has been stated by a gentleman who has only recently visited England, that he believes that the detention of the six hatters, if it were put into money, meant that Australia had suffered to the extent of at least £6,000,000. It is quite easy for Senator McGregor and Senator Findley to laugh at a statement like that. I dare say that it is exaggerated, but there is no doubt that Australia has suffered very greatly in credit and repute, and that is an influence which does affect us in various ways. It affects us in the money market. It affects us when we wish to renew our loans, and in other ways which are more or less obscured to the vision of a gentleman like Senator Stewart. The law as it stands does operate detrimentally to us. Therefore, I regret very much indeed that the Government has not risen to the occasion and simply swept it out of existence. It appears to me that under this very extended Bill the Minister of the day would always have a very great amount of power. He would have the power to interfere when he should not interfere. I am not quite clear as to the explanation given by Senator Playford. He took it for granted that an officer with authority would be appointed in England. I am not at all sure that, under the clause giving the Minister certain power, an officer would be appointed at Home. I ask honorable senators to think out how extended the period of time would be before an arrangement could be made by any person in Australia who desired to arrange a contract for one or two persons to’ come out from England. He would have to write to England; arrangements would have to be made in that country, correspondence would have to be sent to Australia, and before the men could come out the employer here might almost have ceased to want them. These are difficulties thrown in the way which might well have been avoided. The Bill is undoubtedly in the right direction. It does something to accomplish what we want, and I join with those who have expressed the wish that in time we may be able to remove the whole of this oppressive legislation, and to stand before the rest of the British race as free men in matters of this sort.
– I must confess that I approach the discussion of the measure with a feeling that is very closely related to sorrow. It is a distinct evidence of decadence. The robust spirit which pervaded this Parliament four years ago seems to have evaporated into thin air, and in its place we have a weak and vacillating temper which may lead us anywhere, and which certainly bodes no good to the Commonwealth. When a law affecting the interests of the people of Australia is desired to be amended, the first duty which lies upon those who seek to alter its provisions is to show that a demand for the change has come from the people. Have the people of Australia asked for a revision of this Act? I emphatically say that we have not the slightest evidence to that effect. During recent recesses, I have gone up and down Queensland detailing to the electors what had been done in the Federal Parliament. This, I pointed out, was a measure of which the people of Australia ought to be proud. I said that we had laid it down as an axiom indelibly expressed in the Australian statute-book that every immigrant should land as a free man, and I was applauded wherever I went. If I had even hinted to the people who sent me here that the Act required revision , the very idea would have been scouted. I admit frankly and freely that a small but noisy, mischievous minority has persistently clamoured for this Bill. I ask honorable senators whether, in a case of this kind, they are going to listen to the voice of the vast majority of the people, or whether they are going, to be led away by a small, disloyal, slanderous, untruthful, insignificant minority. I have always understood that the wishes of the majority ought to be the law of the country. But in this, particular case we are asked to follow, not the lead of the great body of the loyal, patriotic people of Australia, but the lead of a small, slanderous, untruthful, insignificant minority. If the Parliament of the Commonwealth chooses to take that course, it certainly shall not have my support. I repeat that there has been no demand from the people of this country .for the alteration proposed in the Bill, and I submit that, constitutionally speaking, the Government had no right to bring it in. The party who introduced the Immigration Restriction Bill, four years ago, is still in power. It is kept in power in the same fashion. It has the Labour Party behind it now as it had then ; it has its own supporters now, as it had then. What is the reason for it1? What is the impelling motive? Has the original law been found defective in administration? If so, in what way? The honorable senator who is in charge of the Bill has not told us. He has simply echoed the sentiments of those who have told us that Australia is in evil odour. Where? In Australia? Where is our legislation in evil odour? Some have said that our legislation is in evil odour in this country, but, and a number consider this to be of greater consequence, it is also said to be in bad odour in Britain. Now, what is Britain? When honorable senators refer to Britain, what do they mean? Thev mean that wretched corner of London known as the Stock Exchange, where the hawks of the money markets have their nests, and from which they fleece the entire world. That is what honorable senators opposite mean when they talk about Britain ! I admit frankly and freely that the Stock Exchange of London is against us, that Australia spinks in its nostrils. Why? Simply because they cannot make enough profit out of us ; because they cannot coerce us into employing cheap labour in our mines, in our factories, in our fields; because of our advanced legislation. I will not call it socialistic legislation, because I do not desire to offend the sensitive ears of some of my honorable friends on the right. But I say positively that’ that is why Australia stinks in the nostrils of the London Stock. Exchange and of the London capitalists. And my hope is that she will stink “still more, that her example will be followed bv every community under the sun, and that within a measurable distance of time the reign of the capitalists will be shattered, and the reign of the people will Have be- gun. Are we, in our internal government, going to be guided-
– Infernal government ?
– If we had the rule of the Stock Exchange I should be justified in calling it infernal. Have we not an Inferno over in South Africa”? I direct attention to that ; and I tell my honorable friends that if the London Stock Exchange had its way we should have exactly the same state of affairs here- as exists in South Africa.
– Does the honorable senator think that that has anything to do with this Bill ?
– I think” that anything that relates to immigration has something to do with this Bill. …
– I do not think that South Africa has anything to do with it.
– You will excuse me, sir; I have no wish to come in conflict with the Chair. But I desire to point this out: that throughout the whole pf this debate -the principal argument that has been advanced by honorable senators on my right is that this legislation of ours is damaging us, so far as immigration is concerned, in the eyes of the British people.
– Th~at is right enough; but what has South” Africa to do with it?
– I do not know whether my reference to South Africa appealed to you, but I am sure tEa-6 it appealed to a number of honorable senators. In any case, however, I have said all I desire to say with regard to South Africa, and will now proceed to another aspect of the question. I have given the reason why Australia is in bad odour in England. The question that I now desire to ask is this : whose opinion are we to consider in the internal management of Australian affairs? Are we to consider the people of Australia, are we to consider the electors of this continent, or are we to consider the views or.; the London Stock Exchange, or of the rich newspaper proprietors, or of the capitalists of Great Britain? So far as I am concerned, my honorable friends on the right can bow the knee to Baal if they please, but I bow the knee to the people of Australia. In these matters the will of the Australian citizens is my law. If my honorable friends on my right have false gods, that is their look-out. But my look-out, so far as I am able, is to prevent the people of Australia being injured on that account.
– The people of Australia have larger views than the honorable senator gives them credit for.
– I hope that their views are large. I know that they are; but if we were to follow the lead of the honorable senator our views, instead of being large, would be insignificant, and the great mass of the working people of this country would not be considered at all. They would be looked upon as mere goods and chattels. Horses arid cows and sheep and pigs and asses and goats would be placed on a level with them. But we are trying, however ineffectively - and, of course, we always have the drag of my honorable friends upon the right - to raise our fellows up to a dignified station. We are trying to make men of them, to make them feel that they are human beings, that they are men made in the image of God - that they are not mere profitgrinding machines for men such as my honorable friend Senator Fraser. That is what we are trying to do, however ineffectively, and however inefficiently. That is our ideal, and the principal Act, which we are now discussing, was placed upon the statute-book with that object. But now’ our friends of the Opposition have made a breach in the wall. Senator Pulsford has said that he sees the position quite clearly. Next year a claim will be made for the entire sweeping away of the safeguards we have here. The first breach has been made in the wall ; and if my honorable friends think that, having been so far successful, our pertinacious opponents on the right are going to give up the struggle they are mistaken. They will return to the fight with redoubled energy next session, and the probability is that they will be able to bring more and more pressure to bear on the Government, until ultimately we have every vestige of our defences swept away. And, that accomplished, our opponents will then turn their attention to the White Australia policy. Having defeated the right wing of our army, they will attaCk the left wing. And I do not blame them. If they find a feeble, vacillating, foe before them I do not blame them for taking every advantage. I give them credit for it. If they find that the army of democracy, as represented by the supporter’s of the present Government, are easy of defeat, that they fall asleep in their camp when they ought to be up and watchful with their swords girded at their sides, all credit to them !
– The caucus can kick the Government out in a moment if it likes.
– It appears to me that the Government has entered into a new alliance. It is, so far as I can discover, a Government of very easy virtue. It is now wedded to one mate, and within a week we find it wedded to another.
– What does Mr. Watson say?
– I do not care two straws about Mr. Watson. T am not bound to the chariot wheel of Mr. Watson, or any other gentleman. I stand here upon my own two feet, representing the people of Queensland, and prepared to speak my mind, no matter who thinks or speaks otherwise. I am prepared, to assert my own individuality.
– Trembling at a shadow.
– I am not trembling at all ; although I am afraid I have some reason to tremble when I find a Government in power ready to give way to a clamorous, untruthful Opposition. And I do not exclude my friends on the right from that category, because, instead of assisting to put the true state of affairs before the people of England they have helped the slanderer on every occasion.
– It is what our Acts of Parliament say that matters.
– I say that my honorable friends on the right, instead of standing up for the good name and fame of Australia, instead . of supporting the legislation which the Parliament of Australia has placed upon the statute-book, on every occasion have helped the slanderers of Australia.
– The honorable senator’s friends in another place have done the same thing.
– It is quite enough for me to deal with those who are here. T do not know whether all this was done for party purposes, or whether mv honorable friends are animated bv the most purely patriotic spirit. But. in any case. I think it is extremely unpatriotic that they are not doing their utmost to rehabilitate Australia in the eyes of the world, if it be true that she has lost her character, as we are told. They have been allying themselves with the enemies of Australia, with the people who are opposed to every law that we have placed upon the statute-book - every single one - who sneer at our legislation, who scout the very idea of our, adult suffrage, who laugh at our free institutions and jibe’ at the care we take of our workers. I suppose our enemies of the Stock Exchange see danger ahead. “ If this sort of policy is allowed to continue,” they say, “ if the people of Australia can successfully carry out their schemes of legislation, the spirit of reform will attack the countries of Europe, and our possibility of making huge profits will be lost.” I do. not blame them from their point of view. But we are here - at least I am here - to look after the interests of the working people of Australia.
– If the honorable, senator had to go away from Australia would he like to have to apply for an exemption certificate ?
– We are not dealing with that matter now. We are dealing with quite another measure. My honorable friend does not seem to know what we are dealing with.
– This Bill is on the same lines.
– Why was the Immigration Restriction Act placed upon the statute-book at all? What’ was the need for it?
– There was no need for it.
– The Parliament of the Commonwealth evidently thought that there was. We have laws for the punishment of theft, for the punishment of murder, for the punishment of forgery and a number of other crimes. Why? Because some people steal, while others commit murder, forgery, and so on. Why did we put this Act on the statute-book? Because we found that some people were only too ready to introduce labour from outside Australia. For what purpose? For an illegitimate purpose - for the purpose of lowering wages : for the purpose of making more profits ; for the purpose of reducing the working men of Australia to a condition of subjection.
– Nonsense !
– That was exactly the reason this Act was placed on the statutebook. It was a measure of selfpreservation, just as we preserve ourselves against the attacks of criminals, so we passed this legislation to defend our industrial system against people who desire to destroy it. The Opposition say they, have gained nothing, and the Government say that they have lost nothing; and if that be the case, why make any- change ? But I claim that the honours of war are distinctly with the Opposition. The spirit of the first enactment is gone. That Act declares that no labour shall be introduced here under contract, . with one special exception, the exception that proves the rule. But, according to the Bill, labour may be introduced under contract, though, it is true, the provisions are surrounded with a great number of precautions. The whole power, however, is placed in the hands pf the Minister, who, if he is so minded, . can permit the introduction of contract labourers by the thousand. That is a most unsatisfactory state of affairs which, I presume, the people of the Commonwealth will not approve.
– A Minister who pursued such a policy would soon be dealt with.
– It will not be denied that the Minister has the power under the Bill.
– He has the same power under the existing Act.
– He has the power under the existing Act only when it can be shown that the labour required is pf special quality, which cannot be obtained within the Commonwealth.
– An unsympathetic Minister could act in precisely the same way under the present Act.
– Who was the judge in the case of the six hatters?
– But according to the law, the Minister could admit the men only if it were proved that there were no labourers or tradesmen in the Commonwealth capable of doing the particular work. Now, however, that provision of the Act has been widened, and the Minister has absolute power, if he chooses to exercise it. Even under the Bill, the Minister ‘has power to appoint officers, amongst whom will prob ably be one in London ; and, if that be the case, we shall have no guarantee that the Act will be administered in the spirit in which it was passed.
– The officer in London will probably know nothing of Australian conditions.
– Or may have no sympathy with Australian sentiment. In my Opinion, the law as it stands, is an abso- lutely equitable and just law. Every man who lands on Australian shores is free to make his own bargain when he becomes aware of Australian conditions.
– In days gone by, people came here under contracts which were honestly carried out.
– Queensland spent between £3,000,000 and £4,000,000 on immigration ; and I make bold to say that no more than 1 per cent, of the immigrants came out under contract. Does any honorable senator imagine that the men who build up new countries like Australia, the United States, and Canada, all over the globe, are men who require to have a billet to go to before they leave the old country ?
– Then there can be no objection to repealing this section of the Act. *
– What I say is that the men who need to have a billet before they leave the old country are not the kind of men who have built up Australia, Canada, and the United States. I know hundreds of men who came out’ to Queensland as immigrants, and not a single one of them was under contract.
– But a number of them came out to relatives and friends.
– Every one of them, so far as I -know, came out willing to take his chance and participate in the rough and tumble of colonial life, without having a billet tied round his neck in the old country. These are the best men that any country can have.
– Many men came out as nominated emigrants.
– I am aware of that. I am sorry that we are not permitted by the rules of debate to deal with the real reason why we are short of immigration and why the population is not increasing. If it were allowed, I think we could show that the Immigration Restriction Act is not responsible, but that the fact lies in some
Other system which my friends who oppose this measure would not lift their little finger to remedy. We have been told that labour legislation prevents people coming to Australia.
– So it does.
– Is there not something else?
– Have not the people in the old country heard that young communities, children in arms, so to speak, like Victoria and South Australia, have been losing population during the last ten or twelve years, and that that loss is represented, not by the old or very young, but by the very flower of the people.
– Does the honorable senator attribute that loss to this clause?
– With all due deference, I think that the whole question of population comes up for discussion. We have been told that the population of Australia is not increasing, because of this class of legislation, and that an alteration of the law is required.
– Why does the honorable senator not marry and have some children ?
– Under the circumstances, I think we ought to be permitted to show that the loss is caused, not by this legislation, but by some other conditions. Senator Playford has asked me why I do not take a certain action; and my reply is that (I am doing something very much better in trying to make the conditions such that other people may marry. If I married myself, my attention might be confined to my own domestic affairs ; and I hold that I am a patriot in maintaining my present condition and position. We. are anxious to get this business done with, bad as it is. I shall vote for the second reading, but if the Bill be carried we ought to try, if possible, to take the sting out of its provision.
– The vigorous and energetic denunciation of this measure by Senator Stewart, we owe, I think, to a large extent, to his somewhat extravagant imagination. He would have us believe that the reason for the incorporation of certain contract labour provisions in the Immigration Restriction Act was due to the fact that we were threatened with an invasion of Australia by hordes of workmen.. As a matter of fact, those provisions were inserted in. the most casual way, not because of any imminent danger, but merely as a reasonable and wise precaution against possible events. The real and only object was to provide against the introduction,, during the course of an industrial dispute, of workmen or labourers under such circumstances and conditions as would unfairly interfere in the settlement of that dispute; and it is only by reason of subsequent experience that we have discovered that the legislation goes far beyond what was intended. Speaking subject to correction, I believe there was not a division on the clauses, honorable senators being impressed with their fairness. I think, moreover, that Senator Stewart is a little unfair when he contends that the Government, in introducing this Bill, are. weakening in their former robust ideas as to the introduction of contract labour. In my opinion, the Government are fairly interpreting what was originally intended ; and they would not be justified in ignoring the results of the introduction of these particular provisions. Largely, I agree with clause 5, so far as its object is concerned ; but the fact remains that it has resulted in a campaign of misrepresentation and calumny, which has caused Australia and Australia’s credit to suffer very seriously.
– The honorable senator has himself said that the section went further than was intended.
– That has been my contention. That fact cannot be reasonably disputed, and it has resulted in serious discredit tq Australia. I am free at the same time to admit that the misrepresentations to which I refer have largely emanated from Australia herself, and are the result of the somewhat wicked and unfair reflections of unpatriotic Australians. Nothing is more nauseating to an Australian visiting the old country than to be constantly listening to the vile slanders repeated about these provisions.
– We do not hear them about Canadian or New Zealand legislation. It is our own fault.
– What I am urging is that this provision, because of the misrepresentation made concerning it, has been unfortunate. I contend that we cannot afford to hold a discredited position in the mother country. The progress of this community largely depends upon the preservation of the most cordial relations, between Australia and the mother country. Therefore, when the impression prevails within the limited circle of those who give attention to Australian matters, that we do not desire immigration in Australia, a condition of affairs has been reached which we cannot afford to ignore. It is, in my opinion, to some extent the result of the present form of the section, and it is in order to remove that unfortunate stigma from the reputation of Australia in the old country, that the Government have introduced this Bill. In my judgment, the force and effect of the section is not in any way relaxed, and the present Bill, while it modifies the form in which the provision is expressed, more fully interprets what we originally intended. We must try to bring about the most cordial relations between ourselves and the people of the mother country, and holding that view, the concession in this measure in favour of the Britisher is, to my mind, one of the most satisfactory features of it. Some exception has been taken to it by certain honorable senators, but I am not prepared to ignore the fact that there is some obligation on the part of Australia to give a preference to Britishers to some extent in regard to labour conditions in the way here proposed, and in regard to trade as well, so far as we can do so, in justice to ourselves. I, therefore, welcome the innovation in this respect which finds a place in the Bill, especially when I recognise that it is not intended for a mo-‘ ment to introduce any British workmen into Australia under contract, except upon Australian conditions. If we are satisfied that under this Bill our own brethren in other parts of the British Empire can be brought- into Australia under contract but upon Australian conditions’ - and, in my opinion, the Bill effectively provides for that - what reasonable exception can we, as a part of the Empire, take to such a provision? In the circumstances, I feel that it would be very unwise for us to attempt to remove the proposed preference. I urge honorable senators to recognise that it is a very important factor in the consideration of thismatter that we are ourselves part of the British Empire, that blood is thicker than water, and that we are called upon where we can do so, without detriment to our own interests, to relax the stringency of our legislation in favour of the people of other portions of the Empire. I have shown that what is proposed in this Bill will not be detrimental to our own interests, and that is, to me, a sufficient justification for the concession proposed. As regards other elements tending to discredit Australia in England, it is true that we cannot hope to recover from the’ discredit we suffer, so far as the Stock Exchange is concerned. But the members of the London Stock Exchange have been animated by a consideration of our provision respecting immigration only to a certain extent. So far as I had opportunity to ascertain the reasons for their attitude, I- believe they were prompted by a feeling of resentment at what I regard as the very proper interference of Australia in an endeavour to prevent the introduction of Chinese into the Transvaal. I think that we are not justified in. taking the remotest notice of that, but if we are satisfied that the contract sections of our immigration law have given any justification for the slanders from which we have suffered, we shall be wise to take notice of that fact. For the reasons I have stated, I support the second reading of the Bill.
– If I had any doubt in my mind as to the course I should adopt, and the way in which my vote should be recorded on this measure, the speech delivered by Senator Symon was sufficient to remove it. We can all agree that Senator Symon possesses a keenly analytical mind. The honorable senator understands every word in every clause in the Bill now under discussion, and he made the candid admission that, from his point of view, it is a decided improvement on (he existing Act. To these sentiments a number of other honorable senators who followed Senator Svmon on the same side have heartily and readily subscribed. At the present time, the doors are absolutely closed against contract labour being introduced into any part of the Commonwealth.
– If that were said at Home, the honorable senator would call it a slander, but it is absolutely true.
– They are closed against contract labour with certain qualifications, excepting those who possess special skill and ability.
– And if there are no unemployed in the Commonwealth?
– The doors are closed against the introduction of all contract immigrants, with the exception of those possessing exceptional skill. Now, honorable senators who are so whole.heartedly supporting this Bill, and who cannot be called other than half-and-half White Australians, see some possibility, under this measure, of the doors being left ajar, and they are no doubt hopeful that in the course of time they will be swung wide open for the admission of immigrants from abroad to flood this country. When I hear the sentiment expressed that “blood is thicker than water,” I say that my first consideration is for Australian blood and Aus tralian people. Honorable senators who seem to be so seriously concerned about what certain irresponsible people say abroad in regard to our legislation, should remember that it is not those people who returned them to their places in this Chamber. Why should I be concerned about what is said by people abroad, who, as Senator Stewart has said, have amassed fortunes in this country, and afterwards, not con,sidering it good enough for them, have settled down in the city of the big smoke, and taken advantage of every available opportunity to cast reflections on the legislation passed in the interests of ‘the bulk of the -people of Australia. When I hear certain honorable senators gibing at honorable senators on this side because they belong to the Labour Party, and saying that they are class legislators, I am inclined to ask them what class they represent. Can any member of the Senate tell me honestly and conscientionsly that he represents every section of the community ? If any honorable senator declares that he does, I say that he does not understand what he is talking about-, or intentionally desires to deceive people.
– They should represent justice.
– They should represent justice to the majority of the people, and the members of the Labour Party claim to do that.
– They claim several things.
– And their increasing numbers election after election prove that the policy they advocate, and the legislation they assist to pass, is satisfactory to the people.
– Does the honorable senator refer to Western Australia when he speaks of the increasing numbers of the party ?
– No one knows better than .Senator Millen the circumstances which brought about the results of the recent elections in Western Australia. The honorable senator studies every political party in Australia; he is a keen observer, and he knows that certain men obtained an entrance into labour circles in Western Australia who should not have been there, and that their places have since been filled by better men.
– Any man who differs from the honorable senator is a traitor, a scab, and a black-leg?
– I never use those words, inside or outside of this Chamber.
– .The honorable senator imputes them.
– The honorable senator from Tasmania, or, as it is called, the “ Isle of the Dead,” is possessed of very strong imaginative powers. One would think that in the matter of restrictive laws, those which appear on the statute-book of the Commonwealth are unlike any which have been passed in any other part of the world. But I have no doubt honorable senators are well aware that a more rigid and restrictive law than ours is in operation in Canada to-day.
– We do not know it.
– If honorable senators are not aware of the fact, I shall read one or two sections of the Canadian Act to prove that what I say is correct. I find that an Act to restrict the importation and employment of aliens passed the House of Commons and the Senate of the Dominion of Canada, and became law in 1897.
– Aliens ?
– Aliens and foreigners.
– We are concerned about British and European workmen in this Bill.
– The honorable senator should be concerned about Australians, because he was returned to this Senate by Australians!, and not by people abroad.
– We are concerned about Australians, and about white contract immigrants.
– I have no doubt that if the honorable senator had his way, the Northern Territory and the tropical parts of Queensland, would be peopled not by white men, but by men of various shades of colour-
– Is there anything in the Bill passed by the House of Commons which prohibits Australians entering Great Britain ?
– In Great Britain at the present time there is a strong agitation against the influx of people from other countries, because of the large army of unemployed in that country.
– Australians or aliens?
– I am not concerned about the legislation of Great Britain.
– I thought the honorable senator was quoting it.
– No.; I was quoting the legislation of Canada, because certain honorable senators desired to know what provisions dealing with contract immigrants had been adopted in Canada. Section 3 of the first Act reads as, follows : -
For every violation of any of the provisions of section 1 of this Act, the person, partnership, company, or corporation violating it by knowingly assisting, encouraging, or soliciting the immigration or importation of any alien or foreigner into Canada -to perform labour or service of any kind under contract or agreement, express or implied, parole or special, with such alien or foreigner, previous to his becoming 3 resident in or a citizen of Canada, shall forfeit and pay a sum not exceeding 1,000 dollars nor less than 50 dollars.
– Does the honorable senator speak of Britishers as aliens ?
– The honorable senator cannot draw me as he desires.. I hold international ideas, and I do not consider that, in the truest sense of the word, any man is an alien. Contract labour is fettered labour. As a member of the Labour Party, I object to the introduction of bound labour into any part of the Commonwealth, no matter under what conditions it may be sought to be introduced. When I heard Senator Mulcahy say to-day that if this Bill were in force when the six hatters arrived in Sydney they would have been allowed to land in peace, and that nothing would have been heard about their landing, I remembered that at that time there were, according to those best able to judge, equally skilled and competent workmen in the hatting industry walking the streets, of Melbourne and Sydney in idleness.
– Then they ought never to have been let in?
– No ; but the honorable senator desires this amendment to become law because it would let them in under these circumstances.
– It would not.
– There is nothing to prevent the introduction of men of the description I have given by any employer, provided that he pays, the ruling rates of wages and observes the current conditions and hours of labour. Mr. Anderson ob served those conditions in connexion with the six hatters. He did not desire at that time to reduce the hours of labour or the rates, of remuneration. If that be the case, and if Senator Mulcahy grasps the situation rightly, as I think he does, is not that a very serious danger to workers as well as to organized labour throughout every part of the Commonwealth? I have no objection, to the introduction of free labour unbound and unfettered. I am seriouslyconcerned about the betterment and advancement of the working classes. My duty is first to the people of Australia. For them I desire to get the best form of legislation, and in their interests I am opposed to men being introduced under contract whilst there are men - Australians by birth or by adoption - seeking employment and unable to get it.
– Will there not always be some?
– I hope not. The Labour Party are doing all they possibly can to minimize the difficulties which almost every working man and working woman at some period or other has to encounter.
– We are all trying to do the same thing.
– If the honorable senator had his way, he would break up the existing organizations which make for bettering the lives of the working classes. Every speech which has been made in connexion with labour legislation has been directed against the tyranny, so-called, exercised by organized bodies in Australia.
– When we think that it has been wrong.
– Certain senators can never see them doing anything right. However, I do not wish to labour the question. I feel as strongly and keenly as Senator Stewart does, and because I see the most reactionary forces at work in different parts of Australia in trying to weaken the advanced legislation on our statute-book, because I believe that insidious attempts are being made by interested persons, both within and without the Commonwealth, to weaken the forces, of the rising democracy, I keep a sharp look-out, and watch carefully the utterances of gentlemen who have always been opposed to the advance of democracy in this country. And when I hear them speaking strongly in favour of this measure, and hip-hip-hurrahing at the close of the session that at last they have got something for their labours, I have no hesitation in voting solidly against the second reading of this Bill.”
– I do not think that honorable senators need be alarmed at any attempt on my part to “stone-wall” the measure, nor do I accuse any honorable senator of attempting to do that. I think that on account of the course of action I intend to- adopt it is necessary to justify myself in the eyes of not only my fellow-senators, “but those whom I claim to represent. It has been said that the Government have been weakening in connexion with the question of immigration restriction.
– Hear, hear.
– I submit that the Government have done nothing to justify the making of that accusation ; because when they introduced the Bill in another place it was opposed, if I may use Senator Stewart’s style of expression, by the battalions of capital in Australia and elsewhere. The friends of honorable senators on the other side opposed the Bill in another place when it was introduced.
– What about the resolution of the Employers’ Federation congratulating Mr. Dugald Thomson?
– The honorable senator must know that that resolution was sent to Mr.. Dugald Thomson on account of something which occurred subsequent to the introduction of the Bill, and for which the Government’ were not responsible.
– It is in the Bill all the same.
– I ask my honorable friend to restrain himself for a minute. When the Immigration Restriction Bill was before the Parliament in 1901, it was the policy of the Labour Party - as it always has been, and, as I believe, it still is - to oppose the introduction of contract labour of any description. When we attempted to carry that idea into effect here, were we successful ? Only to a limited extent. That attempt was made in a Bill which referred more particularly to coloured aliens than to any one else.. I believe that it was a desire to secure better administration, and to separate the two. matters which led the Government to introduce this Bill. What did we do in the first Parliament? We provided that contract immigrants should not be introduced, except under certain conditions - a proviso which’ has been a bar to the carrying of that policy ever since. Has it stopped any immigrant who has attempted to come to Australia?
– People would not attempt to come with that law in force.
– They have not only attempted to come, but have been admitted.
– How many ? Senator McGREGOR. - The six potters, the six hatters, and, though it was against the provisions of the Act, the twelve boilermakers, were admitted, so that the action which the Labour Party took in conjunction with the first Government to prevent the introduction of contract labour was, to a very great extent, a failure. It was a failure to the extent of the six hatters, the six potters, the twelve boilermakers, Lady Tozer’s maid, and very likely a few others whom I cannot recollect. So far as the action of the Government was concerned, where does the weakening come in, when paragraph b of clause 5 contains almost the same conditions as are in the Act ? There can be no weakening when the same conditions still remain, and other conditions have been added- If we add to the Act some provisions which are not of a qualifying description, but which really extend its meaning, we are not weakening, but strengthening the law.
– Do the Government put forward the Bill as one to increase the restriction ?
– Certainly, and that was the reason why honorable senators on the other side opposed the Bill until they got the amendment in paragraph b of clause 5. It was the difficulty of administering paragraph g of section 3 of the Act which’ made it necessary for the Ministry to introduce a Bill dealing with’ contract labour only. Senator Mulcahy has stated that if the Bill had been in force the six hatters would have been admitted. They would not have been admitted under the same conditions as those under which they were admitted.
– No ; thev would have been admitted in a peaceful way.
– No. Under the Act they were admitted, although the agreement was produced only after their arrival ; but under this Bill any person who wishes to bring out contract immigrants, no matter whether they are foreigners or Britishers, must adhere to the course laid down, and if the immigrants land, the contract will be void, and the immigrants and the employer liable to certain penalties.
– Under the Bill, could not the six hatters have been allowed to land and work?
– Certainly they could when they had fulfilled the conditions of the law.
– What are the conditions ?
– Under the Act,, were they not allowed to land?
– No; not until public opinion had forced open the door.
– Most decidedly, the six hatters were allowed to land.
– But under the Act they had to show exceptional skill. Under this Bill they have not ‘to show anything of the kind.
– Decidedly they have. They have to show, if they are foreigners-
– I am not talking about foreigners.
– If they are foreigners, the Minister has not only to take into consideration whether there are men of equal skill and ability available in the community, but also whether they are- to receive the same remuneration, and to work under the same conditions, as Australian workmen. He has also to make sure that they are not coming here to interfere in any labour dispute that may_ be pending or likely to occur. These are precautions additional to those in the original Act. Now, what does the amendment made in another place amount to? If the immigrants are British subjects, they have to comply with paragraphs a and c. They will not be admitted if they are likely to interfere in any strike which may be pending, or if their wages are not equal to those ruling here at the time of their introduction. As far as Britishers are concerned, as I interjected when Senator Symon was speaking, the Bill is a sop fo sentiment. And if we can, under circumstances such as prevail in Australia at the present time, throw a sop to sentiment, are we to be ridiculed for doing it ? Are we going to ruin the Commonwealth because we give some little preference to Britishers? Senator Stewart, when delivering his eloquent oration to-night, declared that, in all his. years of experience in Queensland, not one per cent, of the immigrants to that State came in under contract. Then what have we to be alarmed about, as far as Britishers are concerned, if not one per cent, came in under such conditions when employers had every facility for bringing them in?
– There were so many immigrants coming in at the expense of the country at that time that employers never bothered about bringing them in.
– In reply to Senator Fraser, I would say that immigrants have been brought into Australia under contract in a manner in which they could not be introduced under this Bill, if it becomes an Act.
– But they never did come in.
– The honorable senator is, as usual, making a very grievous mistake. I say that they did come in. His statement is similar to those he usually makes. Only the other night he said that we would have refused to allow even John Bull to come here and look at our land. A worse misrepresentation could not be made by any one. It is untrue, and the honorable senator knows it is untrue.
– Order ! The honorable senator must withdraw that.
– I will withdraw the remark that he knows it, but I will say that he ought to have known it.
– The honorable senator must not say that another honorable senator has been guilty of untruth ; and, what is more, he is out of order in referring to another debate.
– I say that the statement is untrue; and I have a perfect right to say that.
– The honorable senator has no right whatever, under our Standing Orders, to say that a statement made by another honorable senator is untrue.
-I do not say that a statement made here by another honorable senator is untrue, but that that ‘ statement is untrue.
– I understood Senator McGregor to say that a statement made by Senator Fraser was untrue. If that is what the honorable senator did say, I must insist upon its withdrawal.
– The statement I make is this-
– The honorable senator must withdraw.
– Withdraw what?
– The honorable senator must not argue. I certainly understood him - I may be wrong - to say that Senator Fraser had been guilty of an untruth.
– I withdraw any) statement that bears that construction ; but what I say is this : that a statement is reported in the Argus this morning that the honorable senator said that we should have prevented even John Bull from coming to look at our land. I say that that statement is untrue, no matter who makes it. 1 also said that Senator Fraser knew that it was untrue. If that is out of order, I withdraw it. Now we thoroughly understand each other.
– Senator McGregor has been sufficiently long in Parliament to be aware that he must .conform to the Standing Orders.
– The honorable senator knows perfectly well what the rules are. He. has made a statement for the mere purpose of throwing an aspersion upon my character. . He has not only made the charge, but repeats it.
– In my opinion, the honorable senator is not acting at all in the manner in which he ought to act. He has made a statement regarding Senator Fraser which he ought absolutely to withdraw.
– The statement made by Senator Fraser, to which Senator McGregor has referred, was not made in this Chamber.
– This is not a ques-. tion for another honorable senator to interfere in. It is a question between the Senate and Senator McGregor. I must ask for an unqualified withdrawal of the statement that he has made, .namely, that Senator Fraser has been guilty of an untruth, and that he knows that what he said was untrue.
– I would ask’ Senator Fraser : Is the statement in the Argus this morning true? the PRESIDENT. - I must ask the honorable senator to withdraw his statementconcerning Senator Fraser.
– I withdraw it iri deference to you, sir, but I would rather go on with the argument, and not have any more interruptions.
– The honorable senator ought not to make impertinent remarks. That is an impertinent remark, directed against the Chair.
– Oh. if you took that as a remark against the Chair, I withdraw it at once, because I never meant it in that sense. I was endeavouring to deal with the qualities of this Bill, in comparison with the Immigration Restriction Act as it stands. 1 consider that clause 5 of the Bill is more effective and stringent than the Act so far as foreigners are concerned. The little concession that was wrung from the Government in another place, I1 am perfectly willing to grant to Britishers anywhere; and I hope that honorable senators opposite who are supporting this concession will, on a future occasion, be prepared to deal with the preferential trade question in the same manner. Under the original Act it was impossible for the Minister to administer the law, effectively. But the power given to the Minister to carry this Bill into effect is much more effective.
– It gives an unsympathetic Minister very elastic powers.
– But look at the punishment. Senator Symon to-day declared that it was unfair to penalize an immigrant coming here under contract to the extent of £5. But there are two parties to a contract. If a man in Great Britain makes a contract of this description, he ought to know something about what he is doing, and should take reasonable precautions. Any honorable senator in entering into an agreement with another person would make careful inquiries before signing it. A man on the other side of the seas ought to do. the same. If he comes here without making ‘ inquiries I do not think that he has a right to plead ignorance if he is fined £5. But if those who bring him out under the contract are found to be guilty, they are penalized to the extent of £20, in addition to which thev have to provide under the Minister’s direction a sum up to £50, to recompense the immigrant or to keep him while he is looking for a job, or to send him back to his own. country. I think that the provisions of this Bill will be found to be much more effective, more easy to administer, and more beneficial to the workers of Australia than the haphazard sections of the Immigration Restriction Act. Besides all these penalties, the immigrant, if he is found guilty, becomes, also, a prohibited immigrant, and can be dealt with under the Immigration Restriction Act so far as the powers of deportation and the other penalties of the Act are concerned. Honorable senators must, I think, admit that those members of the Labour Party who are supporting the Government under these circumstances, are doing so con scientiously. We are acting to the very best of our judgment. I do not think that any one has a right to say that we have not the interests of the workers of Australia as much at heart as has any other member of the Senate. For the reasons I have given, I shall support the second reading of the Bill, and before it leaves us I hope it will be made a perfect measure for the prevention of the introduction of contract immigrants.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales).Although the debate has been drawn out perhaps longer than was anticipated, I think the Senate will agree that that has been an advantage. We have had an entirely new version as to what the measure is intended to acomplish. I assume, ir** reading the speeches which accompanied the appearance of the Bill elsewhere, and also the speeches made in this Chamber by the Minister and others, that the purpose of the Bill is to lessen in some measure the restrictions previously adopted against immigrants to this country. We are now told, however, that the purpose is to increase the restriction.
– So far as foreigners are concerned.
– The statement of Senator McGregor was made without any qualification, and in justification of his support of the Bill. The Government had been accused of weakening in their policy, and, in order to defend the Government, Senator McGregor affirmed that the purpose of the Bill as introduced was to increase, !and not to lessen, the restriction. If that statement had been made outside Australia, or by any one on this side of. the Chamber, I venture to say that Senator Best and others would have described it as a gross slander on Australia. Nothing that has been said in England has been one whit stronger than the statement made by Senator Findley. That honorable senator has said exactly’ what has been Heard on _ English platforms, and published in English journals, namely, that it is our purpose to shut out immigrants.
– To shut out contract labour.
– The words “contract labour “ were not used. Nothing has been said at home other than that the purpose of our legislation, as it appears on the face of our measures, is to shut out absolutely even our own countrymen if they come under contract. According to
Senator McGregor, it is the express purpose of the Government to increase the restrictive character of the legislation, and, because that is the purpose of the Government, Senator McGregor supports the Bill. I recognise the great danger of any attempt at prophecy, and it is very rarely I indulge in the venture. I intend to dc so now, however, and I feel quite safe, because I base my prophecy on what has’ taken place in the past. I venture to say that very few weeks will elapse before we shall find the members of the Government, and Senator McGregor and other supporters, on public platforms throughout Australia, proclaiming their great attachment to the Empire, and taking credit for removing the restrictions against British immigrants.
– Nothing of the kind !
– I shall tell the electors that I was opposed to the removal of any restrictions.
– I compliment Senator Turley on his consistency, “while I differ from him in the attitude he is taking.
– The honorable senator is trying to take the wind out of our sails.
– Here is the proof of my prophecy at once ! It is not often that a man who ventures on prophecy realizes so complete and early a vindication. I have no doubt that my friends opposite will do as I have stated, and for that reason I draw attention to what I know will be the tactics adopted. Exactly the same course will be taken as that followed by the Government when, having “fought to keep a certain provision out of the Postal Act, they subsequently took credit all over Australia for its inclusion.
– The Government may take that course, but I shall not.
– Does Senator McGregor say that he will not take credit for supporting the Government? If so, why is he supporting the Government?
– Because I think that to do so is right.
– Then the honorable senator is declaring that he will not take credit for doing right. I should strongly advise him to do so, because it is not often he has the opportunity.
– Why does Senator Millen support the Bill ? Does he not think it is right?
– Of course I think the Bill is right; but I am supporting it because I believe it will remove, and not increase, restrictions. Honorable senators who have hitherto opposed a provision of this kind,, and now support it, ought to have the candour to admit that they are trying to remedy the mistakes of the past. Not a single honorable senator who previously opposed, but is now supporting, this proposal, has had the honesty to make that admission, and to assert that, so far as he is individually concerned, he intends to remedy a defect.
– The honorable senator supported the original Act.
– The Honorable senator is mistaken - making a fluky guess.
– Did the honorable senator object to paragraph g of section 3 of the original Act?
– The honorable senator knows well that when the original measure was introduced Senator Pulsford submitted a proposal very similar to that now included in the Bill, and that it was simply laughed put of the Senate.
– The honorable sena, tor did not support that proposal.
– The honorable senator is absolutely wrong. In order to- mark the dividing-line between those who support the original Act and those who wished for its amendment, I ask what happened when there arose the great scandal over the six hatters? Who urged that the Act should be interpreted so as to exclude these men? My honorable friends opposite. Who urged’ that it should not be so interpreted? Honorable senators who sit on the same side of the Chamber as myself.
– And were silent when the law was passed.
– It was only when the Government were absolutely “booted” into taking action that these hatters were admitted, in spite of the strong opposi-tion of the trade unions.
– The hatters were admitted under misapprehension - false pretences.
– The six hatters were admitted because public opinion became too strong, even for my honorable friends opposite. Had the Act been literally interpreted. these men would never have set foot on Australian shores.
– Why did the honorable senator not try to repeal the provision when he sat behind the Reid Government?
– It will be time for me to talk of introducing measures when I have a seat on the other side of the Chamber.
– Mr. Reid said he never intended to repeal the provision.
– Mr. Reid never said anything of the kind. .
– I can give printed proof that Mr. Reid did say so.
– The honorable senator will accept anything as proof which supports his argument. I am dealing with facts beyond dispute when I say that it was the unions who put this law in force against the six hatters, and those bodies, with whom my friends opposite are associated, used every power at their disposal to bring the Government to “sticking-point.” But the people who objected to the administration of the Act in that way were my political friends ; and it was only because of the great outcry that the Government were forced to break the Act, which it had helped to pass, and admit these men. I welcome the Bill, although it does not go so far as I should like. It does, however, remove from our statute-book the greatest blot ever placed there, namely, the bar which was created against the reasonably free access of our own kith and kin from Great Britain. The Bill will go as an indication to the people 0 of the old country that whatever mistakes may have been made, we have recognised them and remedied defects, and that in the future, so far as our own countrymen are concerned, we are prepared to abandon the policy of exclusiveness, which, in what I regard as an ill-fated moment, we were induced to adopt. Nothing that could be said bv public men throughout Australia, in the public journals, or bv officials, could do more than will this brief Bill to put’ us right in the eyes of the people of Great Britain ; and for that reason I propose to give it my support.
– There is one matter to which I should like to draw attention. I have heard the arguments on both sides, but I have not been led to depart in the slightest degree from the opinion which I previously formed; and I intend to vote against the second reading of the Bill. Just two short years ago, when I went before the people of South Australia, part of mv platform was the absolute exclusion, of labour that is bound in any way, and on that ticket I was returned. In my opinion, the restrictions in this regard require strengthening, and not weakening; and it is certain that the Bill has the latter effect. I desire to call the attention of the Senate to the position of shipping on the Australian coast, as affected by the Bill. In the first place, clause 4 provides -
Every contract immigrant, unless otherwise prohibited by law, may land in the Commonwealth if the contract is in writing, and is made by or on behalf of some person named in the contract, and resident in Australia, and its terms are approved by the Minister.
That means that a German ship, which comes here to engage in the coastal trade of Australia, cannot possibly engage contract labour, seeing that the owners are German and not resident in Australia. Clause 8 provides -
The two last preceding sections do not apply to an immigrant under a contract or agreement to serve as part of the crew of a vessel engaged in the coasting trade in Australian waters, if the rates of wages specified therein are not lower than the rates ruling in the Commonwealth.
The preceding sections 6 and 7 are absolutely the whole Bill, and yet they are not to apply in cases of immigrants under contract to serve on vessels on the Australian coast. I hope the Minister, when replying, will give us some information as to why clause 8 has been inserted. In the original Act, paragraph k of section 3 absolutely exempted ships in any port of the Commonwealth, and that provision is retained in force. Amongst the exemptions under it are members of the King’s regular land or sea forces., the master and crew of any public vessel of any Government, and the master and crew of any other - vessel landing during the stay of any vessel in any port of the Commonwealth. This is not a new question, because it has been brought prominently under the attention of the Government. Cases were cited of ships having arrived in Australian waters, with crews shipped under agreement in some of the cheapest ports in the world, in order to compete with Australian seamen. The matter was brought before the Government, who took up the position that they could not administer the Act because of paragraph k of the section. A considerable amount of debate has taken place on the question of the extent to which the introduction of contract labour will interfere with shore labour, but it has been generally admitted that during the last few years very few of these contract labourers have presented themselves for admission to Australia. I point out that in the shipping trade they are brought to our doors every day, and if there be any reason for passing these provisions dealing with the admission of contract labour, it is because of the way in which they may affect those engaged in connexion with our shipping. I hope that when we get into Committee we shall be able to deal effectively with the points to which I have referred. I shall not further delay the Senate on the second reading, but I propose to return to these matters when the Bill is in Committee.
Question - That the Bill be now read a second time - put. The Senate divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 (Short title).
– I understood that an arrangement was made that if we agreed to meet in the morning we should adjourn at 10 o’clock at night. I do not know whether Senator Playford has any urgent reasons for prolonging the present sitting, connected with the possible closing of the session this week.
– I certainly made a promise that if honorable senators would meet in the morning I should be prepared to adjourn at 10 o’clock at night, and I will keep the promise if any honorable senator desires that I should do so. But I must confess that I hoped to make more progress with Government business than I have been able to make to-day. Honorable senators will agree that the discussion on the Bill has been a long one, if an interesting one. Nearly every point has been raised in connexion with it that is dealt with in the amendments which, I understand, are to be proposed, and I therefore think that we might go on with the Bill. I should be very glad if honorable senators would be prepared to put it through Committee.
– The Minister of Defence has met the Senate very fairly in the matter. He has admitted that a promise was made that if we met at half-past 10 o’clock in the morning we should adjourn somewhere about 10 o’clock. I feel that we should accede to the honorable senator’s wish, and endeavour to make further progress with the measure to-night.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 2 -
In this Act, unless the contrary intention appears - “ Contract Immigrant “ means an immigrant to Australia under a contract or agreement to perform manual labour in Australia (in this Act referred to as “the contract”).
– I move–
That after the word “Australia,” line 4, the words “of European race or descent” be inserted.
I move this amendment because I desire later on, when we come to deal with clause 3, to move the amendment which I moved in the Bill we were discussing yesterday, to provide that, amongst the definitions of “ prohibited immigrants,” there should be included - any persons of non-European race or descent under contract or agreement to perform manual labour within the Commonwealth.
It is necessary, for this purpose, that we should define “‘contract immigrant” to mean an immigrant of European race or descent only. I have explained very fully my objection to leaving any loop-hole for a suspicion that non-European races may come into this country under contract on any terms whatever. I do not intend to repeat the arguments I used yesterday.
I content myself with moving the amendment, and if the remarks of honorable senators appear to me to call for comment, I can deal with them later on.
– I ask the honorable senator not to press the amendment, because there is no necessity for it. No Minister of the Crown in the Commonwealth would ever think of permitting coloured labourers to come into Australia under contract in any circumstances. The intention of our legislation is to exclude them, and they will be excluded under the Bill which we have already passed. There is no necessity for the provision which the honorable senator proposes to insert in this Bill.
– I join with the Minister of Defence in asking Senator Matheson not to press his amendment. It is quite unnecessary. We have already passed through the Senate a Bill for the exclusion under the education test of all coloured immigrants. This Bill deals with a totally different matter, and as coloured immigrants will be as effectually excluded, as they have been in the past, under the Bill with which we dealt yesterday, there is no necessity for the amendment.
Senator MATHESON (Western Australia). The objection raised by Senators Playford and Symon to my amendment is not a sufficient objection in my opinion. I agree to a very large extent with what Senator Playford said, and believe that as a matter of fact, any well-dispositioned Minister will administer the Bill, with which we have already dealt, in such a way as to prevent the introduction of coloured labourers under contract. But what Senator Symon said this afternoon was that it was most important that we should not mislead people in Europe. In my opinion it is more important that they should not be misled as to the intention of this measure than that they should not be misled as to the intention of the Bill with which we have already dealt, because, as I pointed out before, an attempt will undoubtedly be made in England to lead the people there to suppose that we in Australia are as willing under this amendment of the existing Act to introduce Chinese into Australia, as they are that they should be introduced into the Transvaal. The Minister of Defence shakes his head.
– Because they know well that we objected to the introduction of the Chinese into the Transvaal.
- Senator Symon has pointed out the extent to which we have suffered from persistent misrepresentation.
– This will not affect the misrepresentation with respect to the exclusion of British people.
– I did not suggest that it would. But the further misrepresentation will undoubtedly be made in England that we are willing to admit contract labourers of the Asiatic races. I purpose pressing my amendment to a division.
Question- That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 2
Question so resolved in. the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 -
Paragraph g of section 3, and the whole of section 11 of the Immigration Restriction Act 1901 are repealed.
– I move -
That the following words be added : - “ Paragraph ft of section 3 is amended by the insertion of the word “oversea” after the word “other” in the first line.
Paragraph g, which the clause proposes to repeal, contains certain stipulations regarding contracts for men to serve as part of the crew of a vessel in Australia.
– We have made the necessary provision in clause 8 of the Bill.
– There are some vessels for which provision is not made in that clause.
– Cannot the honor- .able senator move his amendment when we reach clause 8 ?
– This is, I think, the . proper clause in which to make the amendment’. Paragraph k of section 3 of the Act exempts - the master and crew of any other vessel landing during the stay of the vessel in any port of the Commonwealth.
According to the interpretation which was put on the expression “ other vessel “ by Mr. Deakin when he was Attorney-General, it means every vessel other than the ships of the King’s Navy or any vessel belonging to a Government. Every other vessel comes under the drag-net paragraph g , which this clause seeks to repeal. I wish to insert a provision under which the crews of over-sea vessels will be allowed to land at any port of call, but must be mustered before they leave, in order to show that they are all being taken away. In the Parliamentary Papers for 1903, honorable senators may see the opinion of Mr. Deakin that paragraph k of section 3 overrides paragraph g, and that, therefore, the latter has no effect.
– I would point out to Senator Guthrie that he cannot properly move his amendment in this, clause. It seeks to repeal two provisions which deal with contract labour, whereas he proposes to amend a provision which deals with another subject. It will be observed that the subject-matter of paragraph k of section 3 of the Act has nothing to do with contract labour. The honorable senator wishes to amend a general provision in the Act, and that, I submit, cannot be done in this Bill.
Senator GUTHRIE (South Australia). - I think that the Minister of Defence is labouring under a very great error regarding this matter.
– At all events, the amendment cannot be moved in a “ repeal “ clause. It must be moved in connexion with another clause.
– I could move the amendment as a new clause to follow the one before the Committee. 0
– Even then it would not deal with contract labour.
– Under the circumstances, perhaps, Senator Guthrie will attain his object better by moving a new clause.
– I will do so.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause agreed to. , *
Senator GUTHRIE (South Australia).I now move -
That the following new clause be inserted :-r “ 3A. Paragraph” k of section 3 of the Principal Act is amended by inserting the word ‘ oversea ‘ after the word ‘ other ‘ ‘in the first line.”
If the amendment is carried paragraph k in section 3 will be made to read as follows: -
The master and crew of any other oversea vessel landing during the stay of the vessel in any port in the Commonwealth.
We ought to make it clear that this provision refers only to oversea ships, but at present, I learn, it applies to all ships other than the King’s, ships, and the vessels of other Governments. To show how this matter stands at present I will quote from a’ letter written by .the Secretary of External Affairs, Mr. Atlee Hunt, on the 4th March, 1903. It says -
I am directed by the Prime’ Minister to inform you that in pursuance of a promise made to the deputation introduced by you on the 4th February, ;at which reference was made to such cases as that described in regard to the ship A. J. Hot:ken, the matter was submitted to the Attorney-General, whose opinion is that so long as the crew of an oversea vessel engaged in the coasting trade remain members of the crew of that ship, and are only ashore during its stay in a port of the Commonwealth, they are excepted by paragraph k of section 3 of the Immigration Restriction Act, and that while that exception exists they cannot be regarded as prohibited immigrants under, paragraph g of the same section.
That expresses the Attorney-General’s opinion, given in writing. I think honorable senators can see that, as we are reenacting paragraph g there is an absolute necessity for the amendment.
– If there were any doubt under the original Act which we are now amending - and there was room for doubt because it was possible to construe “ any other vessel “ into “every vessel” - that doubt is altogether removed now. We are repealing paragraph g. We are putting in a new provision which specially provides for coasting vessels, and does not include the provision requiring the master to muster his crew. There was a possibility of doubt under the existing Act; but now we are making a new enactment that removes that doubt.
Senator GUTHRIE (South Australia). - It appears to me that the new provision will also apply to the crew of a vessel going from port to port.
– It appears to me that even the new provision is dangerous.
– It is all right.
– I doubt whether it is. At all events “once bit twice shy.” As far as I can see we leave paragraph k as it stood in the old Act, and we re-enact paragraph g, which must be read, with k.
– By clause 8 we exempt coasting vessels from the operation of the new provisions.
– Really Senator Guthrie’s amendment is not required.
– In deference to that assurance, I withdraw the proposal.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Every contract immigrant, unless otherwise prohibited by law, may land in the Commonwealth if the contract is in writing, and is made by or on behalf of some person named in the contract, and resident in Australia, and its terms are approved by the Minister.
– The word “ resident,” used in this clause, has not the same meaning as “ domicile,” and I ask whether it would not be wise to insert the words “ or carrying on business in Australia.” I think the amendment is required if the word “ resident “ is to be retained. I move -
That after the word “ resident,” line 5, the words “or carrying on business” be inserted.
– There is really no necessity for the amendment. If a person not resident in Australia is carrying on business in Australia, and wishes to bring tin a contract immigrant, he will work through his local agent or representative. A person would not be carrying on business here unless he had some one representing him, whom we could deal with under our law.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause agreed to.
Senator CROFT (Western Australia).I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “ 4A. No employer shall complete any contract or agreement with any intending contract immigrant until he has forwarded to the Minister a written notification that he is unable to obtain within the Commonwealth a worker of at least equal skill and ability and has given at least one month’s notice in writing to the Minister that he proposes to make a contract with a contract immigrant.
Penalty : Twenty pounds.”
I respectfully submit that much of the trouble that is said to have existed in reference to the landing of the six hatters would have been avoided had the public been made aware of the necessity for introducing fresh labour in the hat trade. If an employer really cannot find in Australia the skilled labour needed for carrying on his business, he is entitled, under this Bill, to bring in labour under contract. But before he does that, I submit he ought to give public notice of the shortage of labour. The best way would be for him to inform the Minister that he requires labour that does not appear to him to be available. In my opinion, the proposed new clause will improve the Bill. At all events, it will cause some official intimation to be made that there is a dearth of labour in any particular industry, and that an employer is desirous to introduce contract labour.
Senator KEATING (Tasmania- Honorary Minister). - I hope Senator Croft will not press this amendment, the effect of which would be that before any employer could take advantage of the Bill he would have to send to the Minister a written notification of his inability to obtain a worker of the requisite skill and ability, and, in addition, to give a month’s notice of his intention to make a contract. On what principle are we justified in making a provision which will have the effect of “holding up “ an employer in this way for at least one month?
– How long was the employer who introduced the hatters “ held up “ by his agents in England ? Six or eight weeks.
– That should not influence us in arriving at a decision.
– Suppose the employer happened to be in England?
– The Bill contains sufficient safeguards for the employment of skilled or unskilled labour in any part of Australia where it is available.
Question - That the proposed new clause be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “ 4B- No employer shall enter into a contract with a contract immigrant until he -
advertises in the Government Gazette that he is unable to obtain a worker in the portion of the Commonwealth in which hisbusiness is affected and of at least equal skill and ability ; and (b) submits a draft of the proposed contract or agreement with the contract immigrant to the Minister and obtains his approval in writing thereto.
Penalty : Twenty pounds.”
J still insist that the Government should make it clear to the public when there is a dearth of labour in some portion of the Commonwealth. I can quite imagine a manufacturer in Melbourne being short of men, and yet ignorant of the fact that labour is available in Sydney. If the Sydney men were made aware ofthe want of hands in Melbourne, they would go there,, and so render it unnecessary for the employer to import men. I am not particular as to how the notification is given, but some system of the kind would provide a means to attract surplus workers to the place where they can be employed. It is my desire that an employer, before bringing out! more men, who may glut the market, should let it be publicly known that he requires hands. When passing a measure of this kind we ought to take care to safeguard the interests of both employer and employes. If the Minister will not accept the proposed new clause. I ask him to suggest some means by which the object I have in view may be carried out.
Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia -Minister of Defence).- There are labour bureaux in the States from which information of the kind can be obtained; and advertising in the Government Gazette is not likely to prove very effective in cases of the kind contemplated. I may tell the honorable senator that, if this proposed new clause be inserted, it will mean the striking out of the proviso - but this paragraph does not apply when the contract immigrant is a British subject.
The proposal in paragraph b of the proposed new clause is already provided for in the Bill.
Question - That the proposed new clause be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause 5 -
The Minister shall approve the terms of the contract only -
when a copy is filed with him, and, if he so requires, is verified by oath ; and
if in his opinion -
the contract is not made in contemplation of or with a view of affecting an industrial dispute ; and (b) except in the case of British subjects born in the United Kingdom or their descendants born in any part ofthe British Empire, there is difficulty in the employer’s obtaining within the Commonwealth a worker of at least equal skill and ability; and (c) the remuneration and other terms and conditions of employment are as advantageous to the contract immigrant as those current for workers of the same class at the place where the contract is to be performed; and
if, where the approval is sought after the contract is made, the contract contains a copy of this and the immediately preceding sectfcm . and is expressed to be made subject thereto; and
before’ the contract immigrant has landed in the Commonwealth.
Amendment (by Senator Playford) agreed to. ‘
That the words “ except in the case of British subjects born in the United Kingdom or their descendants born in any part of the British Empire,” in paragraph (i), be left out.
Amendment (by Senator Playford) proposed -
That after the word “ abilityj” in pa-ragraph (J), the following words be inserted : - “but this paragraph does not apply where the contract immigrant is a British subject, either born in the United Kingdom, or is descended from a British subject there born.”
– I am afraid that this amendment may admit people under contract wholesale from any part of the British Empire, no matter how long ago it is. since their ancestors were citizens of the United Kingdom. There is no limitation to the word “ descended,” and it is possible that an intended immigrant’s forefathers may not have resided’ in England for 300 years. Our first duty is to the peopleof Australia. So long as the Minister is satisfied that there are men in Australia wanting work by which to provide food for themselves and their wives and children, no men should be allowed to come into the Commonwealth under contract, whether they come from Great Britain, or anywhere else. In my opinion, the effect of this provision is likely to be an influx of labour under contract, which will have the effect of cutting down the rates of wages and lowering the conditions of labour in Australia. I shall, therefore, press my opposition to it to a division.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 6 agreed to.
Clause 7 . consequentially and verbally amended and agreed to.
Clause 8 agreed to.
– I move -
That the following new cTause be inserted : - “8a.’ - (1) Any employer who in the contract makes any untrue representation, by which the contract immigrant is, or is likely to be misled to his detriment, as to the wages, hours, or conditions of labour at the place where the contract is to be performed, shall be guilty of an offence against this Act.
Penalty : Twenty pounds.
The Court may in its discretion order that the penalty or any part thereof be paid to the contract immigrant, and in that case the same shall be so paid.”
I move the insertion of this clause, in order to provide that, if by any chance, an employer is able to get his contract past the officer administering the Act when the immigrant has arrived at his destination, and iscalled upon to perform the work for whichhe has been introduced, if he finds he has been the victim of any misrepresentation which may have been overlooked’ by the Minister, he shall not be left without a remedy. With respect to the latter part of the clause it is very possible that where there has been misrepresentation of the kind the immigrant may be put to considerable expense, and I think that it should be at the discretion of the Court to award a certain sum out of the penalty where any is: imposed to the contract immigrant, to enable him to recoup the expense to which; he has been put.
SenatorCROFT (Western Australia). - I favour the proposed new clause, but I have some doubt about the latter portion of it. The contract immigrant may have an excellent case at law against his employer, and if under this clause the Court ordersthat he shall receive jQio out of thepenalty imposed, will that prejudice him iii any action he may have at law for therecovery of damages?
– It would not takeaway his absolute right unless that were expressly stated in the Bill.
– I wish to make a suggestion as to the form of this clause.’ If an employer in a contract makes an untrue or false representation, no one can doubt that it is proper to provide that he should be punished, but I believe that it should be proved that the offence complained of has been knowingly committed, and the clause should read -
Any employer who in the contract knowingly makes any untrue representation, then the words “ or is likely to be “ should not be included in the clause.
– Would it not be very difficult to prove that the employer did this knowingly ?
– Surely the honorable senator would not punish him if he did it innocently?
– Is there not already a legal remedy for this sort of thing?
– I do not know that there would be a legal remedy for inducing a man to enter into a contract unless there was some proof of conspiracy. Again, the words “ shall be guilty of an offence against this Act “ are unnecessary.
– The employer being on the spot, is aware of all the conditions, and if he makes a false representation concerning them in the contract he should be punished.
– If he knowingly makes any untrue representation he should certainly be punished.
– How could he be in any error concerning the matter?
– He might make the false representation inadvertently, or the agreement might be made by his agent.
– He would be responsible for the act of his agent.
– He would not be responsible criminally.
– There is only a penalty provided for here.
– That is only another way of punishing a criminal offence.
– Should not the employer make sure of the conditions before he enters into the contract?
– The honorable senator forgets that we are dealing with immigrants who are to be brought from England or from some other country. I wish to assist the honorable senator, because the clause is one ot which I approve; I believe in punishing, any man who is guilty of making false representations, but 1 think there is no such thing known to the law as punishing a man for doing something inadvertently, or by his agent unknowingly. “Unknowingly” will be proved by the circumstances ot the case, and if it is not proved the employer should be liable.
– The Prime Minister informs me that there is no necessity to insert the word “ knowingly.” The Court, in deciding each case, would take into consideration any defence that might be presented, and if it were proved that the man proceeded against was misled, and acted in an innocent manner, the Court would not inflict a penalty. I ask Senator Pearce to agree to leave out the words “or is likely to be.” 1 suggest also that after the word “Court,” in sub-clause 2, the words “imposing a penalty “ should be inserted. They are, of course, implied, but it is better that they should be stated.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - I am astonished at the statement by which the Minister of Defence seeks to influence the Committee to support the amendment. The honorable senator has said that the word “ knowingly “ should not be inserted in the clause, because no magistrate or Court would inflict a penalty if it were made to appear that the untrue representation had been innocently made. That is a statement which ought not to be made, because the magistrate would have no discretion whatever, and he would be false to his oath if, after it was proved that an untrue statement had been made, he did not inflict a penalty.
– It is a maximum penalty, and the magistrate can impose a fine of ios.. if he likes. If we were to put in the word “knowingly,” it would be necessary to prove that it was done knowingly ; and that could not be proved.
– Of course it could be proved. Why should my honorable friend wish to create an offence and make a man liable to a penalty, when the thing might have been done inadvertently or innocently by an agent? We have no right to create an offence which’ will bring the law into disrepute.
– When a man is bringing out an immigrant he ought to know what he is doing.
– What right have we to fill our gaols with persons when they have been guilty of no offence? My honorable friend does not seem to realize that he is creating a criminal offence, and he is doing it with the same light heart as apparently he will eat his breakfast to-morrow. He seems to think it is a proper thing to create offences right and left in his haste to pass this Bill. We shall have to object to proceeding at this hour if the effect upon him is so demoralizing. The second sub-clause of the proposed new clause is a very dangerous one. It seeks to put the penalty into the pocket of the informer. It proposes to offer a premium to the contract immigrant for turning dbg upon the man who had brought him out.
– That is not a fair statement.
– It reads -
The Court may in its discretion order that the penalty or any part thereof be paid to the contract immigrant, and in that case the same shall be so paid.
I contend that not one shilling ought to be paid to the contract immigrant.
– Although he may have been put to expense.
- Senator Keating, in reply to Senator Croft, said that the contract immigrant would not be debarred by the penalty being inflicted upon the employer from recovering damages if he had been misled, or if a contract had been ‘entered into which’ was improper. That is his remedy, but we are asked to give him a premium for informing.
– It is a very bad principle.
– We have already passed the same principle in paragraph d of clause 6.
– That paragraph simply provides that if the Minister disallowed the contract, or it became void, he might order the employer to contribute so much to the immigrant to enable him to return to his country. But that is quite different from offering a premium to a contract immigrant to give evidence in a prosecution for fraud.
– I find that I shall have to ask the Committee to report progress.
Message received from the House of
Representatives stating that it had agreed to the Senate’s amendments in the Bill.
Senator PLAYFORD laid upon the table the following papers : -
Provisional Regulation under the Defence Acts 1903-4 - Statutory Rules 1905, No. 76.
Return showing the number of linotype machines, printing presses, bookbinding machines, and general printing plant purchased by and now in the possession of the Commonwealth, together with the value of such machinery “and plant.
Motion (by Senator Playford) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence whether he has received any information about the draft agreement for the Pacific Island Mail Services which he was to endeavour to obtain?
– I have received no information on the subject.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Defence if he can state when the session is likely to end. Does he think that we can get away on Saturday ?
– No, it is utterly impossible.
– Is there any possibility of our getting away on Wednesday next, so that I can catch the steamer leaving on that day?
– I think that very likely to-morrow-
– Before the Minister replies I wish to make a few observations.
– The honorable senator has already spoken.
– I merely askeda question, and that is hardly a speech.
– Yes, but the hon- or able senator had no right to ask a question at this time. It is really equivalent to making a speech’. However, if he wishes to speak I suppose he may proceed.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I consider that the Senate and I have been humbugged in a most disgraceful manner by some person in connexion with the Department of External Affairs.
– I do not think that the honorable senator ought to say that.
– The Minister will be able to reply.
– I do not think that the honorable senator ought to speak at all.
– Perhaps I ought not to have used the word “ humbugged.”
– If one senator breaks the rule another senator may wish to do so.
– I am not breaking any rule.
– The honorable senator has already spoken on this motion.
– I have informed the honorable senator that he may expect to see the documenton Tuesday.
– It will save time if I am allowed to say what I wish to say. I shall move the adjournment of the Senate to-morrow if any objection is made to my speaking.
– If thehonorablesenator uses that as a threat I shall object.
– But the honorable senator cannot object now.
– I ask you, sir, to rule whether Senator Higgs is allowed to speak twice on this motion.
– The honorable senator only asked a question.
- Senator Higgs had no right to ask a question. The time for asking a question is before the business of the day is commenced.
– With the consent of the Senate the honorable senator can speak.
– When I am asked for a ruling on a point of order I am bound to rule. Senator Higgs is not entitled to speak twice.
– I cannot make a statement about’ the close ofthe session, because I do not know the time the Senate may want to discuss a number of measures of more or less importance, which must be got through before we prorogue. If we make as little progress as we have done to-day, we shall rise perhaps some time before Christmas. But if we make good progress, I think that, by sitting to-morrow and on Saturday and Monday, most likely we shall be able to prorogue on Tuesday or Wednesday.
– How can we sit on Saturday without a resolution to that effect?
– If honorable senators do not wish to sit on Saturday I shall have no objection to adjourning from Friday to Monday.
– Sit on Saturday, and let us get away early.
– I would remind Senator Dobson that there is nothing to prevent him from booking his passage.
-I have already booked a berth for Friday.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.25 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 14 December 1905, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1905/19051214_senate_2_30/>.