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Thursday, 12 September 1901


Mr DEAKIN (BallaratAttorneyGene.ral) - The honorable member who has just concluded has, in his last few sentences, summed up the situation as regards the measure before the House. He has also indicated, and very properly so, that in this Bill we find ourselves in the presence of a problem infinitely vaster than the particular issue which we shall require to debate when we come to consider the clauses in committee. The fact is that compared with this measure - great and important as are the Bills which have been previously submitted - none of them is so fraught with possibilities - none of them gives rise in the minds of thoughtful men to so much anxiety. None will have touched a chord of deeper determination to den! with the issue involved in. the most determined manner. We here find ourselves touching the profoundest instinct of individual or nation - the instinct of self-preservation - for it is nothing less than the national manhood, the national character, and the national future that are at stake. I also re-echo the statement which has been made during this discussion, that in dealing with the question in its largest aspect we are not wasting words. We are not unnecessarily occupying time or travelling from the matter in hand in declaring the purpose of this measure, and the ultimate policy of the people of Australia in regard to the coloured races which surround us, and are inclined to invade our shores. Statements of that kind, when made deliberately and without heat, are none the worse for being emphatic. There is no seal upon our lips, and no closure that can be applied to us when we speak with unqualified and inflexible firmness what we believe to be the demands of the people of Australia. This debate ought to be, and probably will be, read elsewhere, and it becomes honorable members on either side of the House, through some of their representative speakers, to signify their acceptance of their responsibility, their recognition of what is meant by this measure, and their intimation of what is implied by it. At this early period of our history we find ourselves confronted with difficulties which have not been occasioned by union, but to deal with which this union was established. No motive power operated more universally on this continent or in the beautiful island of Tasmania, and certainly no motive operated more powerfully in dissolving the technical and arbitrary political divisions which previously separated us than the desire that we should be one people; and remain one people without the admixture of other races. It is not necessary to reflect upon them even by implication. It is only necessary to say that they do not and cannot blend with us ; that we do not, cannot, and ought not to blend with them. This was the motive power which swayed tens of thousands who take little interest in contemporary politics - this was the note that touched particularly the Australian born, who felt themselves endowed with a heritage not only of political freedom, but of an ample area within which the race might expand, and an obligation consequent upon such an endowment - the obligation to pass on to their children and the generations after them that territory undiminished and uninvaded. A coloured occupation would make a practical diminution of its extent of the most serious kind. It was this aspiration which nerved them to undertake the great labour of conquering the sectional differences that divided us. We, therefore, find ourselves to-day confronted with the possibility of dealing in a practical way, and for the first time in the history of our union, with the question which assisted so largely to unite us. We are fortunate, since at the very outset of our career, and indeed when the foundations of the Commonwealth of Australia were being laid, that the Convention which drafted the Constitution was alive to the vital character of this problem. Fortunately we are better equipped than our cousins across the Atlantic. Our Constitution marks a distinct advance upon and difference from that of the United States, in that it contains within itself the amplest powers to deal with this difficulty in all its aspects. It is not merely a question of invasion from the exterior. It may be a question of difficulties within our borders, already created, or a question of possible contamination of another kind. I doubt if there can be found in the list of powers with which this Parliament, on behalf of the people, is endowed - powers of legislation - a cluster more important and more far reaching in their prospect than the provisions contained in sub-sections (26) to (30) of section 51, in which the bold outline of the authority of the people of Australia for their self-protection is laid down. We have power to deal with people of any and every race within our borders, except the aboriginal inhabitants of the continent, who remain under the custody of the States. There is that single exception of a dying race; and if they be a dying race, let us hope that in their last hours they will be able to recognise not simply the justice, but the generosity of the treatment which the white race, who are dispossessing them and entering into their heritage, are according them. In regard to the people of every other race within our midst, we have special power to legislate. We have power over emigration and immigration, of which this measure proposes to take advantage. We have the power of dealing with the influx of criminals, without restriction of race or colour. We have the undefined powers relating to external affairs, and the connexion of the Commonwealth with the islands in the Pacific, the exact meaning of which no one to-day can exactly define, and very happily so. I undertake to say that those provisions, like certain sections of the American Constitution, may slumber for a certain time - in our own case, perhaps, not a long time - but they can be interpreted, and will be interpreted, to meet whatever may be the necessities of any situation that arises outside the boundaries of the Common wealth affecting the future of this country, or of the multitudinous islands of the Pacific. So we enter on the consideration of this great matter fully equipped in our Constitution. The responsibility of dealing with it rests directly on our shoulders. It is that burden which we are now endeavouring to lift. We inherit a legacy in the shape of the aliens which have been already admitted within our borders. The programme of a "white Australia" means not merely its preservation for the future - it means the consideration of those who cannot be classed within the category of whites, but who have found their way into our midst. Unfortunately the statistics of the last census are not sufficiently ad vanced in this regard to enable one to say definitely the number of those within our territory who are capable of being dealt with under sub-section (26) of section 51 of the Constitution. But I should say that at a very moderate estimate, based on reference to the last census, there are from 70,000 to 80,000 aliens already in Australia. A certain number of these may be naturalized, and a certain number may have been British subjects before they came here.

An Honorable Member. - These are not European aliens?


Mr DEAKIN - No ; I should say there are about 80,000 coloured aliens in Australia. Of these, probably somewhat less than one-half are Chinese, and apparently about 9,000 are Polynesians. The remainder are recruited from a variety of people, mainly those of the neighbouring countries of Asia. We find on our hands this not inconsiderable number of aliens who have found admission to these States, either before there was the protection, such as several of the States now enjoy, or who are still able to find their way into States which, like Victoria, are, unhappily, not protected to the same degree. It has to be remembered in connexion with this question that so long as any of the States of the union remain without having their doors closed, as much as other States, the protection which those other States enjoy is absolutely defeated and rendered of no effect. From the States which have no restrictions, immigration is sure to flow, and is flowing overland into those which have certain restrictions. What we have to face, therefore, is not an Australia protected to the full extent of State powers, but an Australia which, being only in part protected, is scarcely protected at all - excepting in regard to the Chinese. Even in regard to these, there are considerable differences between the restrictions imposed in the various States. We find ourselves to-day, it may be said, with, at all events, a half-open door for all Asiatics and African peoples, through which entry is not difficult, and through which, as the experience of the honorable member for Southern Melbourne proves, there is still entry from time to time.It was with a full recognition of those facts that the first plank in the Government platform, as submitted at Maitland, and emphasized at every opportunity since, was the plank which for ease of reference was called the declaration for a "White Australia." It was for this reason that so much stress was laid on this issue, and it is for this reason that since the Government took office, no question has more frequently or more seriously occupied their attention, not only because of this one proposal now before the House, but with regard to executive acts that have been and will be necessary. There have been determinations whichhereaf ter may have important consequences arising out of our administration, as well as other measures which will be submitted to Parliament, all having in view the accomplishment of the same end. That end, put in plain and equivocal terms, as the House and the country are entitled to have it put, means the prohibition of all alien coloured immigration, and more, it means at the earliest time, by reasonable and just means, the deportation or reduction of the number of aliens now in our midst. The two things go hand in hand, and are the necessary complement of a single policy - the policy of securing a " white Australia." The Bill now before us is to be supplemented in a few days by a special measure called for by the clrcumstances of the Pacific Islanders who have found their way into this country under State guarantee and with State encouragement. In addition a measure will be necessary to bring the Chinese restriction laws in the various States absolutely into line, so that the strictest conditions imposed in any State shall be imposed in all the States. No State which has to the best of its power protected itself against this influx ought to be inflicted with an overland overflow from States less efficiently guarded. There are other proposals which will in due course be submitted, because it is scarcely possible, even if it was desirable, to attempt, by one single provision, to deal with an inflow that will seek every crevice in our statutory armour, and will require that we should stop all possible leakages effectively one after the other, as many of them and as rapidly as possible. This chain of legislation, supplemented by executive action, should prove, within a very short time, a means of considerably reducing the number of those aliens we now have within our borders. The origin - the source of our action - requires some little exposition to those who look at us with old world eyes. One can well understand the attitude of the statesmen of Europe, absorbed in their own affairs, and in the control of large populations within comparatively narrow areas, approaching amazement when they regard what appears to be the arrogance of a handful of white men, most of them clustered on the eastern littoral of this immense continent, adopted before they have effectively occupied a quarter of the continent, and with the great bulk of its immense extent little more than explored, or with a sparse settlement. Those European statesmen may well view with surprise the anxiety exhibited here in this respect. There are those who mock at the demand of a white Australia, and who point to what they consider our boundless opportunities for absorbing a far greater population than we at present .possess, who dwell, if commercially-minded, on the opportunities for business we are neglecting by failing to import the cheapest labour to develop portions of our continent which have not as yet been put to use. But the apprehensions of those abroad, even when cursorily examined, are soon seen to proceed from a far narrower outlook than that which belongs to those who feel themselves charged with the future of this country. We should be false to the lessons taught us in the great republic of the west ; we should be false to the nevertobeforgotten teachings from the experience pf the United States, of difficulties only partially conquered by the blood of their best and bravest; we should be absolutely blind to and unpardonably neglectful of our obligations, if we fail to lay those lessons to heart. Cost what it may, we are compelled at the very earliest hour of our national existence - at the very first opportunity when united action becomes possible - to make it positively clear that so far as in us lies, however limited we may be for a time by selfimposed restrictions upon settlementhowever much we may sacrifice in the way of immediate monetary gain - however much we may retard the development of the remote and tropical portions' of our territory - those sacrifices for the future of Australia are little, and are, indeed, nothing when compared with a compensating freedom from the trials, sufferings, and losses that nearly wrecked the great republic of the west, still left with the heritage in their midst of a population which, no matter how splendid it may be in many qualities, is not being assimilated, and apparently is never to be assimilated in the nation of which they are politically and nominally a part. It is we, and not our critics, who in this matter are adopting the broader and more serious view - the view which the future will approve. It is a view which, when explained, will, even by critical statesmen, be necessarily admitted to be sound - one in which a democracy, in some respects impatient, is imposing on itself as a restraint in the interests of the future generations who are to enter into and possess the country of which we at present only hold the border. This note of nationality is that which gives dignity and importance to this debate. The unity of Australia is nothing, if that does not imply a united race. A united race means not only that its members can intermix, intermarry and associate without degradation on either side, but implies one inspired by the same ideas, and an aspiration towards the same ideals, of a people possessing the same general cast of character, tone of thought - the same constitutional training and traditions - a people qualified to live under this Constitution - the broadest and the most liberal perhaps the world has yet seen reduced to writing - a people qualified to use without abusing it, and to develop themselves under it to the full height and extent of their capacity. Unity of race is an absolute essential to the unity of Australia. It is more, actually more in the last resort, than any other unity. After all, when the period of confused local policies and temporary political divisions was swept aside it was this real unity that made the Commonwealth possible. It prevented us from repeating the ridiculous spectacles unhappily witnessed in South America between communities called republics, the same in blood and origin, but unable to develop together or live side by side in peace.


Mr Wilks - Why not carry that idea out in the Bill 1


Mr DEAKIN - If the honorable member will wait a moment he will see that is the very point I am endeavouring to arrive at. I do so without apology for touching on the aspects with which I am at present dealing, because, as I have said, these utterances of ours are not for home consumption only. I am speaking not merely for myself, but for the Government, when I say how entirely and absolutely they realize the fundamental character of the principle which lies below their declaration for a white Australia, and that it may be seen that there is no uncertain note, there is no divided feeling, there is no conflict of opinion within this House, or without it ; that the unity of Australia must be secured on this question if not on any other ; that we stand shoulder to shoulder with practically an inconsiderable minority against us, so small as to be scarcely discoverable. At the very first instant of our national career we are as one for a white Australia.

I say that because, if I may be pardoned for prophecy, it seems to me that this declaration for Australia is likely to stand with the declaration in the United States made some 70 or 80 years ago, received with derision where it was not ignored when made, but which, with every succeeding decade, has advanced towards greater influence, and a wider acknowledgment, until at last, practically the whole civilized world, however unwillingly, has been compelled to accept the Monroe doctrine as applied by the United States of America. We may have in the future some development which may call for the application of the Monroe doctrine in the Pacific. But far more important than that, and a far more significant declaration at the present time, is this for a white Australia. It is the Monroe doctrine of the Commonwealth of Australia. It is no mere electioneering manifesto,but part of the first principles upon which the Commonwealth is to be administered and guided. Various attempts have been made- in this direction even before union. I need not recapitulate them, but it is with some pride I recollect that my native State has been to the front in this movement from the very earliest days. It was in 1849 that Port Phillip emphatically and in the most decisive manner possible refused. to permit a single convict, even from the mother country, to be landed upon these shores. It was "in 1855 that the first Legislative Council of Victoria passed the first legislation in this hemisphere for the exclusion of the Chinese, and I had the honour of being a member of the Government which, in 1883, conveyed, without any qualification or reservation, its intimation to the British Government of the day that, much as we appreciated the difficulties under which they had been placed by all that followed from the unhappy tragedy of Phoenix Park, no one of the men connected with that tragedy, even if under the shelter of the law as informers, should be permitted to land in this country.


Mr Barton - And that attitude was taken up all over Australia.


Mr DEAKIN - We were first challenged in the port of Melbourne, and that was our reply. The first occasion on which my honorable colleague, the Minister for Trade and Customs, and I were officially associated was when we sat on the conference which met in Sydney in 1888 to consider the then threatened invasion of the continent by Chinese immigrants. It was then that we drafted a programme, which was followed thereafter, not only in regard to the Chinese, but which was, in 1896, adopted by a conference of Premiers in regard to coloured aliens generally. My right honorable and learned friend drew the Bill, and I drafted the declaration for submission to our colleagues, which was wired to the British Government. This informed them of the vital importance that Australia as a whole attached to this question of purity of race, and that we relied upon two means to protect us. The first was the diplomatic action of the mother country, which we invoked, and did not invoke in vain, and the other was uniform legislation throughout Australia ; then a difficult thing to secure when six States had to be dealt with, but now, happily, within the province of this single Legislature. From that conference flowed a series of Acts which were accepted in the mother country and put a stop to the serious inflow of Chinese, reducing it thereafter to a very small proportion. In 1896 a conference of Premiers decided to apply exactly the same provisions to all other Asiatics besides Chinese. Four or five of the colonies, if I recollect aright, passed measures upon the lines of the Chinese Acts, naming the people proposed to be excluded and applying to all coloured Asiatics, without qualification, the provisions which had been previously accepted in regard to the Chinese. In 1897 the Premiers visited the mother country.


Mr V L SOLOMON (SOUTH AUSTRALIA, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Did South Australia pass such an Act 1


Mr DEAKIN - Yes. New South Wales, New Zealand, South Australia, and Tasmania passed these measures, not one of which, by the way, was accepted by the Home Government. In 1897, at a conference of Premiers the explanation of this apparent departure from the previous endorsement of legislation of this character was made by the then and now Colonial Secretary, Mr. Chamberlain. Itis published, so far as Victoria is concerned, in the correspondence subsequently presented to Parliament. Here we begin to pass from a general consideration of the question to the particular consideration of the form of this Bill. Honorable members who are aware of what the policy of the Government is, and who know how they have realized from the very first moment the importance of this issue, have asked from time to time during this debate why the Government adopted the particular form of this measure, and why they have not put upon the face of it a prohibition of the particular Asiatic people whom it is desired to exclude 1 They put that question as if it was not within common knowledge, as if the Government was in possession of some private and secret information of somebody's wishes, and as if the very conditions upon which any measure of this kind requires to proceed, if immediate acceptance is to be looked upon as a certainty, had not been laid down in the most public fashion and communicated to the people of all the States. What Mr. Chamberlain said to the Premiers who met him in London in 1897 related to Bills couched in just such terms as those which it is now suggested should be adopted by this Chamber in preference to the Government proposal in this Bill. Mr. Chamberlain said -

I wish to direct your attention to certain legislation which is in process of consideration, or which has been passed by some of the colonies -

I am quoting now from page 15 of the Victorian copy of the correspondence - in regard to the immigration of aliens, and particularly of Asiatics.

I have seen these Bills, and they differ in some respects one from the other, but there is no one of them, except perhaps the Bill which comes to us. from Natal, to which we can look with satisfaction. I wish to say that Her Majesty's Government thoroughly appreciate the object and theneeds of the colonies in dealing with this matter. We quite sympathize with the determination of the white inhabitants of these colonies, which are in comparatively close proximo to millions and hundreds of millions of Asiatics, that there shall, not be an influx of people alien in civilization, alien in religion, alien in customs, whose influx, moreover, would most seriously interfere with the* legitimate rights qf the existing labour population. An immigration of that kind must, I quiteunderstand, in the interests of the colonies, b& prevented at all hazards, and we shall npt offerany opposition to the proposals intended with thatobject -

Honorable members will observe that noopposition is to be offered - but Ave ask you also to bear in mind the traditions of the Empire, which make no distinction in favour of or against race or colour and to exclude, by reason of their colour, or by reason of their race, all Hee Majesty's Indian subjects, or even all Asiatics, would be an act so offensive tothose peoples that it would be most painful, I am quite certain, to Her Majesty to have to sanction it.

It will be observed that there is no question of refusal. There is an intimation that if pressed the demand must be granted, but that it would pain Her Majesty to grant it; an intimation that it will be granted, but a request that " I must ask you to consider that it will be painful to Her Majesty." I now omit some parts of the report relating to what Mr. Chamberlain said as to the relative antiquity of Hindu families. Then, proceeding to touch the matter in hand again, he said -

I say, you, who have seen all this, cannot be willing to put upon those men - (meaning the Hindus) - :a slight which I think is absolutely unnecessary for your purpose, and which would be calculated to provoke ill-feeling, discontent, irritation, and would be most unpalatable to the feelings not only of Her Majesty the Queen, but of all her people.


Mr V L SOLOMON (SOUTH AUSTRALIA, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Has not the honorable and learned member omitted a considerable portion of that report ?


Mr DEAKIN - Yes, I pointed out that Mr. Chamberlain had made a reference to the relative antiquity of the Hindu families. I have missed nothing except that. Of course, this is a public document. Every one will be able to see what I "have read ; nothing is concealed by my omitting the part referred to. Mr. Cham"berlain proceeded -

What I venture to think you have to deal with is the character of tho immigration. -

I must be understood as reading, but disagreeing with this part of the statement - lt is not because a man is of a different colour from ourselves that he is necessarily an undesirable immigrant, but it is because he is dirty, or he is immoral, or he is a pauper, or he has some other objection which can be defined in an Act of Parliament - the last I have no objection to - and by which the exclusion can be managed with regard to all those whom you really desire to exclude. Well, gentlemen, this is a matter I am sure for friendly consultation between us. As I have said, the colony of Natal has arrived at an arrangement which is absolutely satisfactory to them, I believe : and remember they have, if possible, an even greater interest than you, because they are closer to the immigration which has already begun there on a very large scale, and they have adopted legislation which they believe will give them all that they want, and to which the objection I have taken does not apply, which does not come in conflict with this sentiment, which X am sure you share with us; and I hope, therefore, that during your visit it may be possible for us to arrange a form of words which will avoid hurting the feelings of any of Her Majesty's subjects, while at the same time would amply protect the Australian colonies against any invasion of the class to which they would justly object.

That was a plain, frank, and quite friendly request on behalf of the British Government to the Australian colonies, that in excluding those whom they wished to exclude they should adopt a certain course. It was put as plainly as possible that our object was entirely sympathized with, and that what we asked would be done, but, in return, the counter request is made that we shall do what we desire in the way of exclusion without casting any slur upon subjects of the Empire, and without offence to other peoples whom we wish to keep at a distance from our shores. That was a perfectly reasonable request, providing that it csm be proved that the means suggested will be effective, or that they can be supplemented by other means which, operating with them, will make them effective to secure the desired end.


Mr Poynton - How will this produce a white Australia ?


Mr DEAKIN - If we exclude all coloured peoples we go a long way towards obtaining a white Australia. I understand the honorable member to imply that, while the educational standard may exclude a great many, it will not exclude all of these, as there are races whom it is desired to exclude who are quite capable of fulfilling all the conditions imposed in the Bill?


Mr Poynton - Yes, and races which are not British subjects.


Mr DEAKIN - I shall not take advantage of the objection that the persons who annoy us most- the Syrians and Afghans, who seek to make a living by peddling ; the Polynesians, from whom there is little danger once the State legislation has been dealt with, and 99 per cent, of the Chinese who come here - would fail to piss the test imposed by the Bill. The Chinese and Japanese who arrive belong to poorly-paid classes, and are the least educated and least informed of their countrymen. It is not the highly-cultured who come here. The number of such people who come here in any one year could be counted upon the fingers of both hands. So that, for the present immigration the provisions of the measure would be operative. Similar provisions have already been operative in State Acts. The best proof that Mr. Chamberlain's suggestion was not received in an unfriendly spirit by the colonies is that, since he made it, the States of NewSouth Wales, Tasmania, Western Australia, and the colony of New Zealand have all passed Acts framed upon the model of the Natal Act, and embodying an educational test. The conference at which Mr. Chamberlain's suggestions were made was held in 1897.


Mr Watson - But the New South Wales Act was passed only in December, 1898.


Mr DEAKIN - A return has been laid on the table showing the immigration and emigration of certain peoples year by year. It refers to seven specified classes of persons and a general class. It is as full as the State figures allow, but, unfortunately, some of their records are very incomplete. The total arrivals in New South Wales from 1896 to 1901, counting in part of this year, which would have been affected by the provisions of this measure if passed, and including Chinese, amounted to 739, and the departures to 2,296. It must be remembered that for half of that period New South Wales did not enjoy the protection of the Natal Act, which was passed at the end of 189S ; but since then there has been a great improvement.


Mr Glynn - How can departures be affected by this measure ?


Mr DEAKIN - They are not said to be affected by it, but in seeking to determine the future of Australia, we must take into consideration the circumstance that not only is there a certain influx, but there is also a certain efflux of these peoples, and we have reached a very happy condition of things when we can reduce the influx, below the efflux, because then we are on the right road to the reduction of our alien population. In the six years which I have mentioned, three times as many of these people left New South Wales as arrived. In Queensland, during the same period, 6,700 Polynesians arrived and 4,700 departed, showing an increase in their number of 2,000. Of other peoples who would have been affected by this measure, if it had been passed, no fewer than 8,000 entered the State and only 6,000 left, so that as -against an influx of 739 in New South Wales, there was an influx of 8,000 into Queensland, and as against an outflow from New South Wales of 2,296 there was an outflow of 6,000 from Queensland.


Mr Sawers - Did not they flow out of New South Wales into Queensland ?


Mr DEAKIN - There were very few to flow out of New South Wales.


Mr Barton - The returns show that out of 411 arrivals in New South Wales, all. but 66 came from the other States.


Mr DEAKIN - Three hundred and1, forty-five of the New South Wales arrivals, came from the other States.


Mr Watson - Naturally the influx intoNew South Wales would not be so great as into the northern State.


Mr DEAKIN - I agree. As the effectiveness of this measure may be challenged, and honorable members may desire te satisfy themselves on the question, they will find in this return information dealing with all the States. I take as the most striking contrast it affords, that between Queensland and New South Wales. It can be put in two or three words. Queensland without the Act attracted 3,000 aliens, while New South Wales with it attracted 300.


Mr McDonald - Most of them Chinese, upon whom a poll tax of £100 is imposed.


Mr DEAKIN - The number of Chinese coming into Queensland was 4,400, of which only 2,400 left. Leaving the Chinese out of account, the number of aliens coming; into New South Wales was only about 400, and into Queensland between 3,000 and 4,000.


Mr McDonald - Does the Minister mean it to be inferred that that has been the efiect of the operation of the New South Wales Act?


Mr Salmon - I can understand the impatience of honorable members to obtain information, but I ask as a point of order if these interjections should be allowed. I am very desirous to hear a continuous statement from the Attorney-General, and. it has already been indicated to us that all these speeches will probably be read in another part of the Empire, and certain results may flow from them.







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