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- Start of Business
- ADDRESS OF CONDOLENCE TO HIS MAJESTY THE KING
- TRAVELLING ALLOWANCES TO COMMONWEALTH OFFICERS
- FRIDAY SITTINGS
- INTER-STATE COMMISSION BILL
- AUSTRALIAN AUXILIARY SQUADRON
- IMMIGRATION RESTRICTION BILL
- EXCISE ON BEER BILL
- AUDIT BILL
- DEFENCE BILL
Wednesday, 7 August 1901
Mr BARTON - I move-
That this Bill be now read a second time.
It gives me pleasure to make a departure from the track that we have been in, so far, of considering Bills mainly connected with machinery, and to place before this House a measure of definite and high policy such as this. Honorable members will know that the principles upon which this Bill stands have been approved in several places, notably in Natal, in New South Wales, in West Australia, and I think in Tasmania. A Bill of a very similar character to this has been introduced in South Australia, but hasnot yet become law, and similar legislation has been attempted in Victoria, but has not yet been consummated by -the passage of an Act. Now, I need make no apology for calling this one of the most important matters with regard to the future of Australia that can engage the attention of this House, nor can I emphasize too strongly the necessity that those who desire legislation in this direction should endeavour to put aside their minor differences, in order to secure the acceptance and passage of a law which will be in the main effective for its purposes. Honorable members are familiar with the questions and discussions which have alternately assisted and obstructed the passage of measures of this kind, and they know, of course, as well as I do, the action which conferences have, taken on this subject up to the present time. There have been intercolonial conferences of Premiers, and these matters have been also considered in conferences in the mother country, at which the States have been represented. Legislation on the Chinese question has taken place in most of the States, and legislation on this broader question has in some of them not yet arrived, but yet I believe that an immense majority of the people of Australia, not only taking the Commonwealth as one, but in each State separately, are in favour of dealing with this question in such a way that a uniform law may reap its natural and legitimate advantage of prevailing universally throughout the Commonwealth, so that leakages, which can now take, place in one quarter notwithstanding strong legislation in another, may no longer bepermitted to take place. To indicate what has taken place in the various States, I will give a few particulars ; but I will preface these by stating what has been done in Natal. At the present moment I am going to confine myself to the main features of the Bill which are contained in clause 4 which, in reference to prohibited immigrants really concentrates the main purposes of the Bill in the first sub-clause. The first part of the clause provides : -
The immigration into the Common wealth of the persons describedin any of the following paragraphs of this section (hereinafter called " prohibited immigrants " is prohibited, namely : -
(a) Any person who when asked to do so by an officer fails to write out and sign in the presence of the officer, a passage of 50 words in length in the English language dictated by the officer ;
There are further provisions dealing with persons likely to become a charge upon the public or charitable institutions, idiots and insane persons, persons suffering from diseases of a certain character, persons who have been convicted of crimes involving a certain punishment, and prostitutes or persons living on the prostitution of others. As Isaid before - not, however, to the extent of wishing to sacrifice any of the other provisions - I think the main provision of this Bill as concentrated in the first sub-clause of clause 4, is the one about which any battlewe may have amongst us - if there should be any - is likely to be waged. Now, legislation of this kind, as far as the British colonies are concerned, began, as honorable members are well aware, in Natal, and if honorable members will compare the provisions of the Natal Act, as I read them, with the provisions in the first sub-clause of clause 4, they will see the extent of the difference between that Act and the Bill now before them. The provision in the Natal Act, corresponding to that in subclause (a) of clause 4, reads as follows : -
Any person who, when asked to do so by an officer appointed under this Act, shall fail to himself write out and sign in the characters of any language of Europe an application to the Colonial Secretary in the form set outinthe schedule.
An Honorable Member. - Any language in Europe?
Mr BARTON -Yes. But I may mention that if the Act in Natal intended to say " some " language in Europe, it has not said so, and it therefore leaves an immigrant open to be tackled in any language in Europe.
Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Minister knows that was not intended.
Mr BARTON - It may, or it may not, have been intended. 1 cannot say what is intended, because neither I nor the honorable member was in Natal when the Act was passed.
Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - No man could go to Natal if he were liable to be called upon to submit to a test in any language that the immigration officer might choose.
Mr BARTON - What I say is that this Act goes further than what the honorable member for Parkes assumes to be its purpose, and if it does go further than that there can be no doubt that such a stringent provision has been very easily administered.
Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - But the Minister knows that if an officer could call upon any proposing immigrant to write 50 words in any language in Europe that officer might select, there is no man in this Parliament who could pass such a test, and, therefore, it cannot have that interpretation.
Mr BARTON - I quite agree with' the honorable member.
Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) -I say it cannot have that intention.
Mr BARTON - Whether that is the intention of the law or not, I say that it is quite within the competency of the colony of Natal. I have no desire to labour this point, and if honorable members will allow me to go on without interruption, they will see that I wish to deal with this matter in a perfectly reasonable spirit. I only desire to point out the legislative scope of the provision in the Natal Act, not for the purpose of making any comparison in favour of the present Bill, but with a view to enlighten honorable members as to what has been the course of legislation elsewhere.
Sir William McMillan - Is it necessary for the immigrant to spell properly 1
Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It is a pack of fiction from beginning to end.
An HonorableMember. - Itis hypocrisy.
Mr BARTON - I do not know whether it is necessary for him to spell properly. I can quite understand the mental attitude of certain honorable members towards a great question of this kind, when one of them interjects that it is a pack of hypocrisy and of fiction.
Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I said "fiction."
Mr BARTON - It may be a pack of fiction in the honorable and learned member's estimation, but, as this is justifiable legislation in the eyes of the Government and of the bulk of honorable members of the House, we propose to proceed with it. I have stated the provisions of the law in Natal, which define a prohibited immigrant as -
Any person who, when asked to do so by an officer under this Act, shall fail to himself write out and sign in the characters of any language of Europe an application to the Colonial Secretary in the form set out in the schedule.
I take that . to mean " any language of Europe" which may be selected by the officer. If the applicant fails to pass the test which is there prescribed he is a prohibited immigrant. In New South Wales the law is that -
Any person who, when asked, shall fail to write in his own handwriting in some European language and sign an application to the Colonial
Secretary in the form as given in the Natal Act, or in a formof similar purport, proclaimed from time to time by the Governor, in substitution therefor shall be prohibited.
In the Bill introduced into South Australia in 1898 - and I merely wish to refer to the form in which that Bill was proposed, because honorable members will recollect that it was not carried - the provision was that -
Any person who, on being asked by an officer, fails to write out, in the presence of such officer, in characters of the English language a, passage of fifty words taken by the officer from a South Australian Statute or an English author -
I do not know what reason prompted that discrimination -
And append his name in his own language, shall be a prohibited immigrant.
The Victorian Act of 1899 contained a provision similar to the New South Wales law, except that the Commissioner of Customs was substituted for the Governor.
Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Perhaps the right honorable gentleman will have a copy of the provisions taken from other Acts printed and circulated ?
Mr BARTON - I will, but I am not going to ask the House to proceed with the discussion on the second reading of the Bill immediately. I will see that honorable members get the fullest information before the debate proceeds.
Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Will the right honorable gentleman have them printed in the form of parallel clauses?
Mr BARTON - I shallhave them printed in theway that is best calculated to afford information to the House. I will not pledge myself to parallels. In Western Australia in 1897, an Act was passed which set out that a prohibited immigrant should include -
Any person who, when asked to do so, fails to write out, in the characters of any language of Europe, a passage 'in English of fifty words in length, taken by the officer from a British author, and append his name in his own language.
Honorable members will see, therefore, that in some statutes, the words " any language of Europe " are used, whilst in others, the words employed are " some language of Europe." I am quite willing to follow my honorable friends opposite in agreeing that, in both cases, " some language of Europe " was understood. In the Bill, which did not pass in South Australia, the English language was the term used, whilst in the Western Australian Act, the words, " a passage in English of 50 words in length," were used. The Tasmanian Act describes a prohibited immigrant as -
Any person who, on being asked, shall fail to write in the presence of the officer (a collector of Customs) in some European language and sign an application to the Colonial Secretary in the form as given in the Natal Act, or in a form of similar purport proclaimed from time to time by the Governor in substitution therefor.
The New South Wales Act of1899 describes a prohibited immigrant as " a person other than of British birth or parentage, who when asked,&c., shall fail to write out in any European language " - of which a form is given in the schedule, although it may be changed as is provided for a certain number of words. The Act also provides that "Any person dissatisfied with the decision of the officer may appeal to the nearest stipendiary magistrate, whose decision is final." Where this Bill differs from some of the. others - I think from all - is that the person who is to be examined by the officer must have the passage dictated to him by that officer. This provision is inserted inorder that there may be no mistake on the part of the officer as to the passage tendered to the person for his writing out.
The officer will have to read it to the applicant, and then we shall know conclusively - by the evidence of such officer if need be - that these are the identical words which he has, himself put by word of mouth to the person seeking admission.
Mr Hughes - Does the right honorable gentleman propose to prescribe by regulation the character of the words ?
Mr BARTON - I do not propose to do that, because I can see that tie placing of words in a regulation or in a schedule is apt to lead to their being learned by persons who have no other knowledge of the language.
Mr Hughes - The right honorable gentleman does not quite understand. I did not mean to suggest that he should putdown the words which are to be asked. I referred to the character of the literature - say 50 words from the leading article, of a daily newspaper.
Mr BARTON - No ; I do not propose to do that. The administration in this respect of the Bill will be within the discretion of the Minister. He will have it within his discretion to change the passage to be submitted in such a way as to prevent the possibility of any collusion or of any attempt to learn off a passage when the applicant knows no more of English than is contained in that passage. The chief difference between this Bill and the provisions of the Acts to which I have referred is that the English language is indispensable, and the words must be dictated by the officer. I have had no hesitation in regard to making the English language indispensable. I do not see what claim there is on the part of any one seeking admission, who may be undesirable, to choose the language in which his test shall be taken. Subject to any objection which may arise on the ground of international comity, it is firmly established by the well-known case of Musgrove and Chun Teong Toy - if it needed to be established - that there is a right on the part of governments and powers as between each other - and the whole of the British Empire is looked upon by foreign nations as one power - to exclude such persons from their territory as seemto them undesirable.
Mr G B EDWARDS (SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - What about the French Canadians ?
Mr BARTON - If the honorable member will give me a little time he will see that I shall deal conclusively with questions of that kind. That right exists , on the part of civilized powers inter se. We propose, however, not to rest on that mere right, because discrimination in the application of it is likely to lead to trouble. We propose, therefore, to add to the sanction of international law the sanction of what is called municipal law - that is our own internal law to an- extent which will enable us to meet any objection 'of this kind, and at the same time to satisfy conditions laid down by the Empire in its dealings with other powers. In other words, having seen that there are difficulties in the application of this doctrine from time to time - that its' application, as a matter of international right has led to objections on the ground of a -violation . of international comity or courtesy - we see no reason why we should, not convert this into an equal law, applying, so far as the power given to us is concerned, equally to all persons, without distinction of race, colour, or origin, in order that in our dealing with the law ourselves, subject to our own responsibilities to each other, we shall not be subject to interference by any power whatever.
Sir William McMillan - That is the whole point of a Bill of this kind.
Mr BARTON - It is the whole point of all Bills of this kind ; honorable members will see that such Bills on the subject as have been passed, crystallizing into law powers of this kind, have not been subject to any objection on the part of the Imperial authorities, nor have they been made the subject of any protest by powers outside. It is because the Bills have been based on the educational test that objections have been avoided. The moment we begin to. define - the moment we begin to say that every one of a certain nationality or colour shall be restricted, while other persons are not, then as between civilized powers, amongst whom must now be counted Japan, we are liable to trouble and objection, which go to postpone the making of outlaws and which lead to difficulty in the application of them. These things should therefore be avoided. I am fain to confess that I see no other way except to give a large discretionary power to the authorities in charge of the administration of such a measure. If we once begin to particularize we have to meet the objections already urged, some of which no doubt have been considered effectual. It places a Bill, produced under such circumstances, necessarily between two fires. It is between the fire of those who wish to make its provisions more drastic and more specific; and the fire of those who consider the provisions a piece of organized hypocrisy, and altogether too severe for a civilized power to adopt. I quite admit that we are placed between these two fires : but we can rely on the common sense of the House to find a way through these fires, so as to produce a measure that will be internationally- effective and practical amongst ourselves.
Mr WILKS (DALLEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Sir Henry Parkes had no difficulty in the matter.
Mr BARTON - It is not for me to consider what difficulty Sir Henry Parkes or any one else had. Sir Henry Parkes' Bill dealt with the Chinese alone.
Mr Wilks - Sir Henry Parkes acted in defiance of the Imperial authorities. '
Mr BARTON - It was not in defiance of the Imperial authorities, because I am credibly informed that the Royal assent to that Bill was asked for by telegraph and given. There was never any intention on the part of Sir Henry Parkes to practically defy the Imperial authorities, although on one occasion he delivered himself under circumstances of provocation of heated words, which I am sure were- no par t of his political character. We are in this position : As to the undesirableness of certain, classes of immigrants, I suppose we are all practically agreed. I suppose we are all agreed that this is an evil in itself even more carefully to be watched than that other serious question of the importation of South Sea Islanders into Queensland. Unless- this importation be watched with the utmost care, I am convinced that it will become even a greater evil. Without desiring to go to any unnecessary extreme in this matter, I think it is right we should crystallize into this law the powers which internationally we absolutely have - powers which any other nation can exercise against us if- they choose - in order that in the wise exereise of administration, without leading to any breach of international comity or to any. complications, we may lay down conditions which do not discriminate between country and country, between race and race, or between origin and origin, but which, at the same time, gives us power to exercise a wise discretion in admitting or refusing to admit immigrants whom all Australia has practically agreed shall not enter within her bounds. That is the . position of this main provision of the Bill.I might quote from a despatch from the Secretary of State which puts the position of the Imperial Government beyond all doubt. Honorable members will recollect that a Bill to amend the Sugar Works Guarantee Acts of Queensland was presented in the early part of this year for the Royal assent, having been reserved by the Governor of Queensland.
Mr Fisher - On the advice of the Attorney-General of Queensland.
Mr BARTON - No matter on whose advice, the Bill was reserved and went to England.
Mr McDonald - He did not do that in connexion with the syndicate railway Bill.
Mr BARTON - I do not want to excite any Inter-State friction by discussing the actions of thoseconcerned in the Government of the various States. I only want now to show what has been said and laid down on the subject by the Imperial authorities in order to show that we, in this Bill, purpose to achieve our end in a practical way.
An Honorable Member. - The case is of no value.
Mr BARTON - Whether it be of value or not we have put this Bill into a shape which makes similar objections impossible. Section 5 of the Queensland Act provides that -
No aboriginal native of Asia, Africa, or of the Pacific Islands shall be employed by any company to which any advance has been,, or may hereafter be made, under provisions of the Sugar Works Guarantee Acts1893to 1900, in or about any sugar mill or permanent tramway owned or worked by the company - and there is a proviso which does not touch the present question. Mr. Chamberlain wrote a despatch to the Governor of Queensland,.and a copy of that despatch was sent to the Governor-General of the Commonwealth. I want honorable members to understand that I am not entering into a controversy whether the position taken up here is rightly or wrongly taken up. I only draw attention to the fact that the questions raised by the Secretary of State need not, and I think cannot, be raised in regard to the Bill I am introducing. In this despatch Mr. Chamberlain says -
It (the Sugar Works Guarantee Bill) embodied a disqualification based on place of origin, i.e., practically a distinction of race and colour. Any attempt to impose disqualifications on the basis of such distinctions, besides being offensive to a friendly power, is contrary to the general conceptions of equality which have been the guiding principle of British rule throughout the Empire. Disqualification by educational tests Such as are embodied in the immigration laws of various colonies, is not a measure to which the Government of Japan or any other Government can take exception in behalf of its subjects ; and if the particular tests are not regarded as sufficiently stringent, there is no reason why more stringent and effective ones of a similar character should not be adopted. But disqualification for certain employments on the sole ground of place of origin is a measure to which any Government concerned may reasonably object, and in the present Bill the aboriginal natives of two continents and of the Pacific Islands are disqualified solely on that ground.
I quote that merely to show that there are difficulties which have arisen on other occasions, and which might arise in this Bill in another form, but which are avoided by the Bill as it stands.
Mr Fisher - Will the Prime Minister have the despatch printed ?
Mr BARTON - I have not the least objection.
Mr Fisher - It is quite contrary to the statement on the subject made by the Attorney-General of Queensland. .
Mr BARTON - I might mention that some time ago I gave the substance of this despatch to the press representatives in Melbourne.
Mr Crouch - It is different from the statement made by Mr. Chamberlain in the House of Commons.
Mr BARTON - It seems to me to bear a remarkable similarity to it ; our memories are different. The passage I have quoted will show honorable members that a certain stand-point may be taken with reference to legislation of this kind if precautions are not observed,- and yet it will show how easy, it is to avoid difficulties of the kind by adopting the care which Mr. Chamberlain himself appears to have indicated as proper in his despatch. That is the course we have adopted, although not claiming any originality in the provisions of this Bill. We have had plenty of other Bills to guide us. We do not pretend to say that we have evolved something extraordinary or something particularly novel. I wish to lay it before honorable members, however, that there is a direction which has. proved futile ; that there is another which has proved successful, and that it is the successful direction which we are pursuing, not claiming any merit for it, but simply adopting it because it is the only road to similar success for ourselves.
Mr Watson - Has the Prime Minister any information as to the success of the restriction Acts in Natal and New South Wales 1
Mr BARTON - I am obliged to the honorable member for the interjection, for it enables me to quote from an interesting conversation which I had with Mr. Moor, who represented Natal at the celebrations in connexion with the inauguration of the Commonwealth. Mr. Moor told me that the Natal Act had been successful, but he said it had been adopted too late. He remarked : " My strong advice to you is to . legislate on this subject early. We have, locked the stable door after the horse has gone out." I suppose that the wrong horse had really come in before the stable door was locked. Honorable members will know that before legislation in Natal was passed, imported alien and coloured alien labour, quite apart from Kaffir labour, had inflowed to such an extent that it was in an enormous majority in that country. It practically remains so to-day, notwithstanding that further influx is stopped to all intents and purposes. That is a lesson to us, and it is for that reason that I welcome the interjection which reminded me to put it before the House. It is a reason for us not to wait until dangers become almost insuperable, but to legislate against the thing, not because it is a pressing killing danger at the moment, but because, even if it is not, it may in a moment become so.
Mr Hughes - Does the Minister assume that this legislation will stop it ?
Mr BARTON - I believe that it will, u as it has stopped it elsewhere. If we find that it does not, then we shall come to the Legislature for further power. Honorable members need not have any doubt in this connexion. If a measure of this kind proves ineffective in preventing the influx of that class and race of persons who ought to be kept without the limits of a white- Australia or a civilized Commonwealth, then we are not going to rest upon failure, but march forward to success. Honorable members, in whatever part of the House they sit, may take it as being one certainty that, if we remain in office and find a measure of this kind effective, we shall bring down legislation which will make it thoroughly effective. We shall do so, not only for the reason* generally urged, because while there may be sympathy with the labour aspect of the question, I have yet to say there are grounds even more conclusive than those of labour for the prevention of this kind of immigration.
Mr Fisher - We all admit that.
Mr BARTON - I am sure that honorable members do.
Mr Fisher - There is the character of our own race.
Mr BARTON - Not only that ; there are many other reasons, which, if 1 had time, I could quote strong authority to indicate. I will make a quotation or two on the point. Professor Pearson, who was one of the most intellectual statesmen who ever lived in this country, says in his National Life and Character, page 36 -
The fear, of Chinese immigration which the Australian democracy cherishes, and which Englishmen at home find it hard to understand -
Naturally, because they have never had the troubles we have had - is, in fact, the instinct of self-preservation, quickened by experience. We know that coloured and white labour cannot exist side by side ; we are well aware that China can swamp us with ti single year's surplus of population; and we know that if national existence is sacrificed to the working of a few mines and sugar plantations, it is not the Englishman in Australia alone, but the whole civilized world that will be the losers. Transform the northern half of our continent into a Natal, with thirteen out of fourteen belonging to an inferior race, and the southern half will speedily approximate to the condition of the Cape Colony, where the whites are indeed a masterful minority) but still only as one in four. We are guarding the last part of the world in which the higher races can live and increase freely for the higher civilization.
Perhaps, while I have the book in my hand, I may pass on to something further on the same point. These are the fears which Professor Pearson expresses. They are not justified by the facts of to-day, but they may be justified by the tendency of the facts of to-day. If we see the facts of to-day exhibiting a tendency which, unless checked, are likely to result in what Professor Pearson foresees and foretells, then it is not in the distant future, but to-day, that action should be taken. Professor Pearson writes, on page 83 : -
The day will come,, and perhaps is not far distant, when the European observer will look round to see the globe girdled with a continuous zone of the block and yellow races, no longer too weak for aggression or under tutelage, but independent, or practically so in government, monopolizing the trade of their own regions, and circumscribing the industry of the Europeans; when Chinamen and the natives of Hindostan, the States of Central and South America, by that time predominantly Indian, and it may be African nations of the Congo and the Zambesi, under a dominant cast of foreign rulers, are represented by fleets in the European seas, invited to international conferences, and welcomed as allies in quarrels of the civilized world. The citizens of these countries will then be taken up into the social relations of the white races, will throng the English turf or the salons of Paris, and will be admitted to inter-marriage. It is idle to say that if all this should come to pass our pride of place will not be humiliated. We were struggling among ourselves for supremacy in a world which we thought of as destined to belong to the Aryan races and to the Christian faith ; to the letters and arts and charm of social manners which we have inherited from the best times of the past. We shall wake to find ourselves elbowed and hustled, and perhaps even thrust aside by peoples whom we looked down upon as servile, and thought of as bound always to minister to our needs. The solitary consolation will be that the changes have been inevitable.
Is that not something to guard against ? I do not pretend to say that there is any immediate danger of that kind, but unless we are careful dangers of that kind are inevitable as time goes on. I do not want to exaggerate them in any way. I do not want to pretend that unless we pass this Bill today we shall have these people coming in in such volume as to overflow and throng our marts, our fields, and all places of our industry. But it is enough that if we do not take action and take it speedily, both the commercial and industrial difficulties of this kind of labour will be growing tendencies which we shall one day repent our not having checked. These are not new opinions of mine ; I have expressed them over and over again, and hold them as strongly, and I think even more strongly, with reference to the prevention of certain Asiatic influxes, as I did when a youth. There is one more thing to be said on this part of the question. It is not a desirable thing in our legislation to make discriminations which will complicate the foreign relations of the Empire. It would be of untold evil and harm to us - and likely to lead to troubles even rivalling those which the future may bring forth to us from these causes - if we were to take such action as would not practically make our legislation much more effective, and yet at the same time would diminish the ease with which the Empire could assist us in these matters, and be with us in others. I take it that is' not the desire of this House or of this Parliament. Whatever views of the future may be entertained in any quarter, there is the practical realization of to-day that the Empire to which we belong is one that is worth belonging, to. It is one which has held within it most that we are proud of, and one which when compared with other Powers certainly does not lose in the comparison as to its humanity and justice. It is, therefore, better to belong to it, unless somebody can give me reasons which we have never heard yet for being, independent. While that relation is maintained - and long, may it last I say- while it remains, let us take the full advantage of the help and assistance which the Empire may give us in matters like this. On the lines it has laid down, it can be a sturdy and trusty Mend; Let us follow those lines, knowing that in our belief the following .of them will be effective, and knowing that the Empire i% ready toassist us even further if we find that any evils, whether ethnical or national, of war olof industry, threaten us in the future. It is for us to deal with the question to-day as wefind it, and we shall make a mistake by saying that we will deal only with facts, when tendencies as strong as facts have to be checked in the same way. There are tendencies here which, to my mind, are sufficiently dangerous for us to take action. We are not doing very much more than the States have done. Our legislation will, in a, large measure, only replace that in force in three or four of the States. It does not carry tilings very much further, but it tends to prevent what I described a little while ago as leakages - the difficulties which arise when we have legislation of this kind operating in three or four of the States, but the States after all exposed to transferences of population- of this kind arising from the fact that they do not protect themselves in each of the States in the same way.
Mr Thomson - Before the right honorable gentleman sits down, will he explain the reasons for his preference of sub-clause (a) of clause 4 to the provisions of the New South Wales Act?
Mr BARTON - J intended to say something upon that point,- and perhaps it will be convenient to do so now. The form in New South Wales makes a. " prohibited immigrant" of any person who, when asked, shall fail to- write in his own handwriting, in some Europeanlanguage, and sign an application to the Colonial Secretary, in the form given in the Act, or in a form of similar purport, proclaimed from time to time by the
Governor in Council in substitution. The three main differences in this clause are these. In the' clause we propose the dictation of the words is made essential, and I have already given a reason for that. The next difference is that the word " English " is substituted for the word " European " in 'the New South Wales Act. The reason for that is that if a man wants to come into an English-speaking country to pursue his avocation there, the language which the people of that country are concerned in his knowing, is the language which will enable them to- do business with- him. They do not want him to know Austrian,. Chinese, or Italian. Of what use would that be to them 1 They want him to know something of the language they can understand, and in which he may make himself understood by them. What reason is there why we should substitute any ' language of Europe for the language which we ourselves practice and speak ? We do not want to say that every man must know our language. That is a matter for him, and lie can learn any language he likes from his birth or from any other time ; but if he is going to do business with people who speak English, and wants to come into their country - the terms upon which he enters being left to them as the. sole judges - why should they not as the sole judges impose the condition that coming into their country he shall know a language which will enable them to understand him and him to under- stand them ?
Mr Thomson - Does the right honorable gentleman mean to exclude Scandinavians, Germans, and French 1
Mr BARTON - I quite saw the purpose of my honorable friend, when he put his first question. I quite saw what was passing in the honorable member's mind, and what he wanted information upon. I do propose to say that we do not want a man who can speak only Austrian, . Italian, or any other language that is not the English language. But I do say this also, that we shall not work an Act of this kind without national complications, unless we are able to lay something down which in the outset distinguishes nothing between race and colour ; but as to language there is not the same complication at all. We are entitled to impose a test of that kind. The English language is our language, and the man who wants us to impose a test of any other language should show some reason for his preference. Ours is the right language to use. I know that the re may be difficul ties, and that there have been difficulties in the past, when people who have been asked to write down sentences in some language or other have shown that they can easily surmount that obstacle, with all the quick-wittedness of some of the Eastern races. I believe that this provision with respect to the English language will help to overcome that difficult}1, and that is another reason for the clause in its present form. I do not propose - and no doubt the honorable member had this in recollection when putting his question - that the test should be subject to proclamation from time to time by the Governor-General in Council, because I do not propose to give any opportunity' for anybody to find out the words which are to be used, by having them notified by proclamation. I think it is far more effective and useful that the proper officer, to prevent any collusion or trickery, may be able to change from day to day and from time to time the passage in English so long as it is a fair passage in that language.
Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Has the honorable and learned gentleman considered what the effect would be likely to be if the Eu'ropean nations were to reciprocate with legislation of the same kind ? Not one Australian in a thousand could visit Europe.
Mr BARTON - Yes, I 'have considered that, and the difference is one which 1 am sure my honorable and learned friend perfectly well understands. It is not for us to say that we do not aim this Bill in every direction. On the face of it, as my honorable and learned friend knows, the Bill is not aimed at any specified nations. He also knows that Governments must be credited with common sense, or it is no use committing to them the administration of such measures at all. This amount of common sense and discretion must be credited to the present Government and its successors : that they will discriminate between those cases in which desirable civilized immigrants are seeking admission, and cases in which those seek admission whose presence is baneful to us in the present, and may be much more so in the future. That is the reason why I have asked for the power to be given to the Government in these broad terms. I ask the House to give the powers to the Government in the belief that they will be administered in that spirit of just broad international humanity which characterizes the people of the various civilized powers - powers which it cannot be doubted for a moment contain within them safeguards of administration which will enable the Governments to meet a common evil. That is what is intended, and that is what the Bill contains. That is why I ask for larger powers than perhaps my honorable and learned friend is willing to give. If my honorable and learned friend can convince this House that we are asking for powers which it is undesirable for Parliament to give, I wish him joy of his task. Now let us go a little further. I have told honorable members why we think it necessary to take large powers - namely, because large powers are necessary to deal with the cases we have to meet, and also because it is necessary to give a large discretion to the Government in the belief that they will not act harshly in those cases which are not within the evil we wish to meet. That is the common-sense view of the matter, and in that acceptation I throw myself on the common sense of the House. With reference to the other provisions of the Bill, some of them exist in other measures of the same kind, but others do not. In New South Wales the Legislative Council cut out some of these provisions from the existing Act, the application of which is confined to such matters as come within paragraph (a). But I take it that it is a fair thing that the remaining powers should be given, nor can I see what hardship is involved in the granting of them, always presupposing that common-sense is exercised, and always presupposing also that the difficulties which may beset men of business on rare occasions are not to be allowed to overcome the national policy of excluding not only those who are undesirable by wa3>- of race, but also those who are undesirable by way of condition and conduct, or by reason of the danger to the public health which they carry with them. Such are the remaining paragraphs ; and as to those I ask for similar powers to be given by the House and under similar conditions. That is, that of course the existence of the Ministry depends upon the administration of an Act of this kind. If the Government falsify the trust committed to them, of course they will be in the hands of the House. But if, on the other hand, it is animated by common interest, being a Ministry, although I do not claim any particular advantage from the fact, belonging to the soil, it is inconceivable that in a matter of this kind they are likely to frustrate or belie national interests in the exercise of the discretion vested in them. But unless the Bill is so safeguarded as to give that discretion, the particular complications which are likely to frustrate legislation of the kind are likely, to be effectuated in facts. I am not going to delay honorable members with any long description of the remaining clauses. It is provided that persons possessed of certificates of exemption, which wherever they are granted will be given for such reasons as I have laid down, will be excepted from the prohibitory provisions of clause 4. It is recognised that it would be unwise in some extreme cases to prevent the admission of certain persons. If, for instance, as we are told over and over again, a prince in his own country desired to visit our shores he would be exempted. We have seen such princes visiting Australia in the past.