Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Wednesday, 6 December 1905
Page: 6325

Mr JOHNSON (Lang) - The honorable member for Hindmarsh suggested that the trouble to which reference has been made has probably been due to the faulty administration of the Aliens Restriction Act, and he said that if the present leader of the Opposition were returned to power after the next general elections, there would be reason to fear that the Act would be administered in such a way as to permit of the wholesale immigration of un desirable persons. I do not think that the honorable member had any justification for that statement, and, in my opinion, it will be better to discuss the amending Bill without making such suggestions, giving all honorable members credit for the best of motives, whatever their position in regard to it may be. The honorable the leader of the Opposition has frequently expressed his belief in the principle of n. White Australia, and he has certainly shown himself to be a fair -and prudent administrator of the laws. I believe in maintaining the racial purity of the people of Australia, and I do not think that there is much difference of opinion amongst honorable members as to the desirability of doing so. But it is desirable to avoid unnecessarily irritating the nations whose subjects we exclude by our legislation^ and the Bill seems to me to be an attempt to do that. While it does not surrender our right to preserve Australia for a white race, it makes the provisions of the law less objectionable to those it seeks to exclude. The Government are to be commended for altering our legislation so that it will be less distasteful to the Japanese nation, with which, as part of the British Empire, we are in close alliance. The fear has been expressed that the Bill will open the door to the wholesale immigration of Asiatics into Australia. I do not think that the proposals before the House give any cause for alarm in that connexion other than existed previously. As a matter of fact, we have the assurance of her Government that it is not the desire of Japan to use Australia as a dumping ground for her surplus population.

Mr King O'Malley - Nor is it the desire of any country to use its population in that way.

Mr JOHNSON - Not necessarily. We know that m some countries, the population gets so overcrowded that it becomes very necessary for the Government to lookout for desirable fields of colonization, and this is no less the case with Japan than with other nations.

Mr Webster - Does the honorable member describe such people as " surplus population "?

Mr JOHNSON - If the honorable member had been paying attention he would not have asked such a. silly question. We in Australia have nothing to fear in that connexion, because, as the result of the recent war with Russia, Japan has acquired Korea, which will afford ample room for many years to come for the settlement of any surplus population which the former country may have. I only mention that fact because it gives point to the declaration, of the Japanese officials that they have no desire to use Australia as a colonizing ground for their surplus population.

Mr Frazer - What are the millions who are in Korea to-day going to do?

Mr JOHNSON - It has not anything like so large a population as Japan. The honorable member has only to refer to the statistics of population in the two countries to realize that in Korea there is ample room1 yet for the settlement of a very large additional population.

Mr Frazer - It is very thickly populated.

Mr JOHNSON - So long as Japan has a neighbouring territory which can be utilized, and which offers peculiar advantages for the settlement of her surplus population, I do not think-that we have anything to fear in that connexion for many years to come. I do not say that a few years ago there was not a possibility, if not a probability, of Japan looking to Australia, especially to the Northern Territory, as a possible colonizing field for her surplus population. But I submit that the result of the RussoJapanese war has changed the aspect of matters in that regard. The only reason underlying the objection of the Japanese people has been set forth very plainly. They object, not so much to Japanese being kept out of the Commonwealth, as to the attempt to class them with nations which they regard as inferior to themselves. They ask that the immigration to Australia shall be regulated in another way - by a friendly treaty between the two Governments - and this seems to me a reasonable proposition. So far as I can understand, they do not desire that the Commonwealth shall abate one jot of its right to exclude those whom it may consider undesirable immigrants. They only desire that they shall be treated with ordinary courtesy, and recognised as an ally with Great Britain, and that the immigration to- the Commonwealth shall be regulated by a method less offensive. lt seems to me that in trying to meet their objection, the Government is doing right, and to the extent to which it is endeavouring to meet the difficulty in a way which will not give rise to friction, or continue the friction which has been created, it cer tainly is deserving of support bv every well-wisher of Australia.

Suggest corrections