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Wednesday, 6 December 1905


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is precisely my point. They may be able to enforce any conditions at the point of the sword, or by such other demonstration of force as they think fit, and may force their civilization upon an unwilling people, who regard it as certainly not in accord with their ideals and standards; and there lies the danger which we seek to avoid, I take it, in legislation of this kind. We do not wish to do anything which would irritate the nations which have the means at their command to carry out their will to a very great extent with regard to people who are less formidable than themselves, and who have not cultivated the arts of war to the same extent. Whether we like it or not, we are all compelled to subscribe to these standards of force and respect them as far as we may. And so I take it that we should frame our legislation so as to be as little irritable as possible to these people who do not subscribe to our domes- tic standards, and with whom it would not be desirable to have unrestricted free intercourse. But I venture to say., also, that the Eastern nation, of which so many of us are thinking to-day, is making mighty strides in civilization, too. It is true that its standards of life and comfort, and its domestic ideals are very different from our own - that is, viewed from our stand-point. It may be that they regard their ideals, their attainments, and their standards, as superior to our own. That all depends upon the point of view. But I contend that notwithstanding that their conditions of life, rates of wages, prescribed standards of social comfort, and social ideals, may not be equal to our own, yet they are fast coming to the same plane. And I venture to predict that if they keep on in their present course, they will more and more assimilate to our social ideals, as well as to those international standards which we all must respect. I therefore am glad to see an effort made by the Government of the day to shape our attitude towards them in a way that will be as little offensive as possible. That I take to be the main object of this Bill, although it contains other amendments in the law - mostly of an administrative character - which will need to be examined when we get into Committee. That, however, need not concern us at this stage. The great point is that the Bill is an effort, and I think a worthy effort, to meet the new condition of things which has arisen, and, at the same time, to preserve, as far as possible, and in the most strenuous way that we can, our ideal of a White Australia. I remember that when we were previously discussing this subject, reference was made to the advent of the Hindoo race to the neighbouring islands of Fiji. That shows, very conclusively, the great care which we ought to take with regard to the further admission of races which are called alien, and whose civilization is not our own. Nothing could more strongly indicate the necessity for looking sharply to the keeping of Australia to white methods and white standards, than what is now taking place in Fiji. The missionaries from that country tell us sorry tales of the continued influx of Hindoos. As a matter of fact, the Hindoo is elbowing out the Fijian. The Fijians are a declining quantity, and the Hindoos are a constantly increasing quantity.


Mr Hutchison - The Japanese are driving out the Fijians.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Not to any great extent, I think.


Mr Hutchison - To an enormous extent.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - From our standpoint, the Hindoos are causing most trouble. We are told that the work of civilizing the Fijians isbeing retarded in every way by the influx of these people, who subscribe to a different religion, and one which colours and dominates their conception of existence. That is a very serious thing indeed. The religious aspect, of this international and social question is one of the most troublesome with which we have to deal. In Fiji the missionaries are complaining of the undermining of their efforts, directed, as they have been for the last fifty years, to the pushing of the Fijians to a higher plane of civilization. They say that their efforts, have been steadily undermined by a continued and steady influx of Hindoos. What occurs in Fiji would unquestionably occur here if, without let or hinderance, these races, which we deem to be inferior to our own - I mean inferior in point of their conception of civilized standards - were allowed to come here. While we preserve, with the utmost rigidity, our ideals as a white race, it behoves us to seek by every conciliatory method which may be open to shape our attitude towards these rising Eastern nations, which otherwise may give us trouble, and may prevent the object which we have in view. It isin that spirit that I cordially welcome this Bill, which I shall in Committee help to make as perfect as possible.







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