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Tuesday, 1 October 1901

Sir MALCOLM McEACHARN (Melbourne) - I move -

That the words "the English," line 8, be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words " an European."

I had intended at one time to alter this amendment so as to make the clause read " in the English or any prescribed " language, in order to meet objections that had been raised by the Japanese Consul and other Japanese who have been visiting us. I find, however, that five of the States already have in operation Acts containing a provision similar to the clause as I propose to amend it. The intention is that if any intending immigrant can write the words selected by the Customs officer in any European language, he will be permitted to enter the Commonwealth. I have said that I desire in no way to offend the Japanese. I quite recognise the class ofpeople they are, and I also realize the advantage which is likely to result to the Commonwealth from trade and commerce with them. They have developed a very considerable trade with us lately; they have their steamers coming here regularly, and they have lately sent experts here with a view to purchasing our wool and to generally developing trade with the Commonwealth. That is what every one in this House must wish to see ; but, whilst I am desirous to meet the Japanese in every way, I feel that we could not possibly accede to their suggestion that the Japanese language should be one of those in which the test may be made. If that were yielded, there would be nothing whatever to prevent large numbers of Japanese from coming into the States. I am at one with the whole of the members of this House in desiring that the Japanese should not come here in large numbers, and I agree thoroughly with the desire that we should have a white Australia, although I think, with the honorable and learned member for Parkes, that a very great deal more has been made out of the danger to the Commonwealth through alien immigration than is warranted by the circumstances. I feel that our present laws are quite sufficient to prevent our being seriously contaminated by an influx of aliens, and yet if the proposal to pass fresh legislation had been brought forward as a protection to labour, I would have been one of the first to support it. I recognise that if Japanese can come here in any large number, they will compete at low rates with white labour, and I will be no party to that. On the other hand, so far as the tropical parts of our Commonwealth are concerned, I will not join in shutting out those who have come here to carry out industries which would never have been developed or have reached their present state of prosperity, except by means of alien labour. I, therefore, differentiate between the conditions that have to be considered in the tropical parts of the Commonwealth and those in the Southern States.

Mr McDonald - What does the trade of Japan with the Common wealth amount to 1

Sir malcolm Mceacharn - The trade of Japan with us is a very considerable one, and it is proposed to double the number of steamers now trading to Australia. They already have a regular line of steamers, but whatever the trade may be now, it is the future that we have to look to, because we know that when trade is once opened up between two great countries, it will develop very rapidly. Apart from that, the mere fact of these Japanese steamers coming here results in a large amount of employment being given to white people, and our commercial intercourse with Japan should certainly be fostered in every way possible. I do not wish to make a second reading speech, but simply to submit my amendment to the committee.

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