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Wednesday, 9 October 1901


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I think there can be no question as to the importance of the subject now under consideration. The Prime Minister, in his second reading speech, gaveus some figures which indicate the overwhelming importance of thesubject. But, notwithstanding its importance from a pecuniary and material point of view, it seems to me that the attempts of honorable members to vie with each other in-endeavouring to secure the most effective way of dealing with the question must be set down to the patriotism of the House and of the country. There is only one desire on the part of honorable members, and that is to get rid of black labour in Queensland in the speediest and most effective manner. There can be no doubt as to what the mind of the people is upon this question. Both sides had to unmistakably declare their attitude at the recent elections. The Government made it clear that it was to be part of their policy to abolish black labour in Queensland, and the Opposition did the same.


Mr Higgins - At what stage ?


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - At every stage of the campaign the Opposition, as a body, were in favour of getting rid of the kanaka traffic. Although the leader of the Opposition, when in Queensland, said that he would not say his final word upon the subject then, his attitude was one of declared hostility to the traffic. One of the main reasons for federating was that we might deal with this matter. It was not so much that we might prevent the immigration of undesirable people, as that we should get rid of conditions in connexion with the growing of sugar-cane in Queensland which are a menace to the continent. So strongly did many parties in Queensland feel upon this subject, that considerations in respect of the sugar industry alone caused them to hesitate about giving adherence to the movement which was progressing in the other States ; but when the people of Queensland had an opportunity to make their opinions felt in the only effective way possible, they left no doubt as to what their mind on the subject is.


Mr McDonald - It was the first time they had an opportunity to speak on the question.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Although it was sought in the press, in Parliament, and in various other places to minimize the importance of the vote which was given, there can be no doubt that Queensland spoke decisively as to the conditions under which the growing of sugar-cane must be carried on there ; and there can be only one questionfor us to address ourselves to, apart from all party considerations, and that is - What is the best course to pursue in order to carry out the undoubted wishes of the people ? Whatever the considerations involved, the kanaka mustgofrom the continent. In pursuance of that clearly expressed mandate of the people, this Bill is being introduced, and is being cordially supported by all parties in the House. We have been told that if it passes,' its provisions will have a disastrous effect Upon Queensland, and will involve almost the bankruptcy of that huge State ; but I cannot help thinking that such talk is very largely twaddle. Those who expressed themselves in regard to the extremely disastrous effects which the measure will have must know that they are not voicing the clear, temperate opinions of reasonable men. How can the results be considered likely to be so disastrous to Queensland when we compare the sugar industry there with some of her other primary industries 1 The value of the sugar produced in Queensland is £ 1,000, 000 a year, whereas her gold is worth three and a half times as much, and the produce of her pastoral industry six or seven times as much. To say that Queensland will reel and stagger if legislation of this kind is passed, is to speak as the result of oblique vision regarding the actual condition of things. That there may be temporary disarrangements to a slight extent may very well be conceded, because we cannot interfere with an industry like this without temporary displacement and disadvantage, but it will be only temporary, and whatever the disarrangement, we must carry out the will of the people of the continent. It is but natural, in considering a matter involving such large material interests, that there should be a multitude of counsellors. It has been written that " In the multitude of counsellors there is safety," and we have no Jack of counsellors upon this question. They tell us in tones of warning, and almost of menace, that if we proceed to execute the legislation now proposed, serious consequences will result to Queensland, and serious action must be taken by the rulers of that State. On the other hand, we are told by men who are thoroughly conversant with the industry, that nothing very serious will result either to Queensland or to the industry affected. In this connexion I should like to refer *to some of the statements of Dr. Maxwell, who is supposed to be the expert upon the question for the whole Continent. I understand that he has been engaged by the Queensland Government at a huge salary to confine his attention to the sugar industry in that State. Everything bearing upon it is referable to him. Mr. Chataway, equally with the Premier of Queensland, had to consult him before taking any steps in connexion with the industry. I cannot. help feeling, however, that his report to the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth is to some extent inadequate. He omits to say many things which he might fairly be expected to say, and there is a great difference between the tone of that report and the tone of the report presented to his own chief in Queensland. I do not know that there is any need for this difference. We have been told that in Queensland he holds an absolutely independent position so far as the Government are concerned, and that while his tenure of office lasts he cannot be affected by the movement of party politicians. Consequently he is able to express his views, whether they happen to be satisfactory to the Government or otherwise. In his statement to the Premier of Queensland, however, he says -

I consider it certain that cane will not be grown solely by white labour north of Mackay to keep the mills in existence. In a more formal and reserved sense, this view is expressed in my statement made to the federal Premier.

I take it that when the Prime Minister asked Dr. Maxwell for a report, he did not ask him for a suppressed, reserved, and formal opinion. He asked for a frank expression of his views upon the whole question. Therefore, the statement of Dr. Maxwell is disappointing, and detracts largely from the value of his report. We might have expected that Dr. Maxwell, in furnishing data on which we could form an opinion, would have shown us how the sugar growers are distributed over the three main sugar producing districts of Queensland, but, instead of doing so, he lumps them all together. He tells us that the sugar industry north of Mackay will assuredly - if not instantly, yet certainly - cease ; but he does not tell us how many growers there are north of Mackay, which the destruction of the industry there would affect. He demonstrates in almost mathematical language that, so far as the southern portion of Queensland is conconcerned, white labour is more valuable than black labour. He says that at Bundaberg white labour is cheaper and superior to black labour, and that even at Mackay there is a slight advantage in favour of the white man. It is only when you get north to Cairns, he says, that the white man is inferior to the black man. Why, therefore, in speaking of the probably fatal effect of this legislation upon the sugarproducing interests of Queensland, does not

Dr. Maxwelltell us of the number of sugar planters north of Mackay who will be placed at a disadvantage, instead of speaking generally as to the possible effects upon the 2,601 sugar - cane growers in Queensland? All this is misleading, and we had a right to expect Dr. Maxwell to tell us how many of these men north of Mackay would be affected. Then he might have told us the difference between the economic value of the labour of the black man and that of the white man, but he leaves us to figure this out for ourselves. He supplies us with certain data, it is true, but we do not know whether, in working it out for ourselves, there may not be factors that we are overlooking, and we had a right to expect that an expert of high order, such as Dr. Maxwell, would have made up this sum for us. If he had done this he would have helped us greatly in the consideration of the matter. Whilst Dr. Maxwell undoubtedly supplies much valuable information, there are certain aspects of his report which I think are rather unsatisfactory. The question we have to consider in discussing this Bill is this - Can the white man do the work of producing sugar in Queensland ? This question is, however, important and supreme only when we are considering the matter in the abstract. After all, the people of Australia have settled that question as far as this Legislature is concerned, because they have said that, whether the white man can do the work or not, the black man is no longer to be allowed to do it. That is the will of the people, as expressed unmistakably at the recent elections. Now we are told, by gentlemen who have been up to Queensland to specially investigate this traffic, that the white man can do this work. I. think that is made very clear in the series of admirable articles which appeared in the Melbourne Herald, written by a special commissioner. He reports that on the whole, with theexception of trashing cane, the white man can do all the work, and that the trashing of cane is not absolutely necessary in the dry districts. I should like also on this occasion to refer to some statements made by a gentleman who has been sent down here post-haste to inform this Parliament as to the true facts of the case, and try to influence our decision in favour of the retention of black labour. This gentleman, who is a member of the Queensland Parliament, has given a description of the conditions under which the sugar industry is carried on. Now, what is the traffic which we are supposed to have under our especial care, and with reference to which we are asked to exercise the utmost prevision, so that we may do no damage to it? We get some valuable side-lights as to the nature of it and the kind of industry that we are asked to preserve, from some of those gentlemen who are advocating the continuance of it. Take, for instance, a statement like this. Speaking of the obstinate members of this House, Mr. Paget says -

They cannot, or will not, be made to tinderStand that no amount of money, no manipulation of a Tariff, will alter the climatic conditions of a country. White men cannot be got for any length of time to do work for which they are physically unsuited. And it is something to be thankful for. that we have not yet reached that stage in the industrial development of Australia when civilizedbeings are compelled from economic considerations to endure the life and soul destroying drudgery of the tropical cane-fields.

Mr. Pagetdescribes this life in the tropics as one of soul-destroying drudgery, and then he goes on to say that it is only the drudgery that the kanakas are permitted to do. The same gentleman gives us a glowing account of the happiness of the kanaka who is engaged in this drudgery. He says that the kanakas have so much money in the bank, and then he goes on -

Slavery that permits of aborigines being clothed and fed, of being Christianized and civilized by missionary effort, and, above all, of accumulating a bank balance, would appear to be limited indeed.

I think there is a slight inconsistency here which Mr. Paget ought to explain. How can a work be life and soul destroying drudgery and then open up realms and vistas of happiness as far as the kanaka is concerned 1 In the first place, can white men do this work ? Mr. Paget says they cannot. I say that no effort has ever been made to get white men to do this work at wages such as men ought to receive for working in a climate like that. That is the whole gist of the matter - it is a question of economics, and the test has never been made as to whether white men will work in Northern Queensland at decent wages such as are sufficient to compensate them for their labour under such trying conditions. When men go to such places as Western Australia, where in the early days the conditions of life were particularly unfavorable and such as wouldprobably correspond with thedrudgery that is spoken of by Mr. Paget - when these men wentawayand endured the hardshipsand discomforts attaching to life in Western Australia, they had wages given them which were out of all proportion to what they had been previously receiving. That is to say, that those who employed them had to pay such wages as would attract them from the more comfortable conditions of life in the eastern colonies, and the rule was to go from their wages here to better wages, under harder conditions, in Western Australia. In Queensland, however, the further north men go in search of work, and the more difficult and uncomfortable the conditions are, the less they receive for their labour ; and I shall show how very shockingly the wages in the north of Queensland compare with the rates paid in the southern colonies. In Queensland there seems to be a universal law which enacts that the greater the drudgery and the more uninviting the conditions under which it has to be done, the less shall be paid for it. Dr. Maxwell speaks of the kanakas being clothed and fed at a cost of about 25s. per year - I wonder how we should like to be clothed at that rate 1 - but Mr. Paget says that they are quite happy. As to the feeding of these kanakas I have not very much to say, but Dr. Maxwell makes it clear that the greatest possible economy is exercised in the feeding of the kanakas, and that they do not get much more than is absolutely necessary to keep them in health and in working form. Then as to the kanakas being Christianized and civilized by missionary effort, I should much prefer to take the statements of those men who have lived in the islands and have worked amongst the islanders for years trying to Christianize them than any statement made in an off-hand way to a newspaper interviewer. Against Mr. Paget's statement, we have the testimony of the Rev. J. D. Paton, the veteran missionary, who wrote to the Argus recently, pointing out what he considered to be the absolute duty of this Parliament, namely, to put an end - and an instant end if possible - to a traffic which he describes as worse than slavery. He says it is a crying shame upon our civilization and an injury to the kanaka himself. He writes as follows : -

In a letter just received from Tanna, from a missionary in the New Hebrides, he says, " Labour schooners have been doing their deadly work lately, and many of our lads and young men have gone away in them, in too many cases to their graves. The mortality in Queensland is simply appalling."

They say that the white man cannot do the work in North Queensland, but, according to the best testimony we have, the kanakas die off like rats there. Mr. Paton goes on to say -

But the evil does not end there. The fresh young life is sucked out of the islands by these labour vessels. Family supports are taken away and families rapidly decay. I know villages which have gone to pieces through this cause. Men talk glibly about the wearing of clothing by the natives depopulating the islands. It is no such thing, for the heathen are dying out faster than the Christians. In the best interests of humanity, in common with all who know of the cruel wrongs, oppression, fearful mortality among the kanakas in Queensland, and the blood-stained character of this kanaka labour traffic all along its history, though only now and again brought to light in law courts, as in the cases of the "Hopeful "and "Wm. Manson," and many others trading in the persons of boys and girls, and of men and women, we rejoice, and praise God that by the legislators of our Australian Commonwealth it is likely now gradually to be suppressed, and this dark stain on Australia's honour blotted out for ever. No doubt very many of them will be laid in their graves like dogs in Queensland before the expiration of the proposed five years, and no doubt the collectors, employers, and many blinded by the gam of this shocking traffic, will, as in the past, minimize and cloak its evils, and praise its blessings to the kanakas, and the ruin to Queensland's great sugar industry by its suppression, to get its continuance extended. To the kanakas it has been, and is now, an unmitigated evil - taking away wives from husbands and husbands from wives, children from parents and parents from children, all they can get hold of, and so breaking up all family relations on the islands, and causing much suffering and want to those dependents who remain.

According to the Reverend Mr. Paton we are depopulating the islands and bringing about the worst possible results in family and domestic relations. This is the statement of a missionary who was engaged in this work. He describes the attempts to Christianize and civilize them by missionary effort.


Sir Malcolm McEacharn - Is that the Rev. J. G. Paton 1


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Yes.


Sir Malcolm MCEACHARN - I have very, little confidence in him.


Mr Wilkinson - Every word of what he says is true.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I shan leave the honorable member for Melbourne to deal with him. I am bound to accept his statements in good faith. At any rate he has a reputation throughout Australia as a zealous, enterprising missionary, who has devoted his life to his work.


Sir MALCOLM McEACHARN (MELBOURNE, VICTORIA) - He is a bit of a crank on this particular subject.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It is a very singular thing that nearly every missionary who has been to the islands is a similar crank. Let the honorable member for Melbourne find missionaries who have been to the islands and who are in favour of a continuance of this traffic. That is the best way in which he can answer the statements of this gentleman. It is not quite fair for the honorable member to say that this gentleman is a crank unless he can prove his statements. Now, as to Mr. Philp himself. That he is disappointed goes without saying. I always knew that he would be. One of the peculiar features of the last election was that the right honorable and learned gentleman at the head of the Government received the support of two sections in Queensland over this very question of a " white Australia." He had the labour section heartily supporting him, and Mr. Philp, who represented the kanaka sugar growers, also supported him, because he believed that the Prime Minister was going to do justice to the planters. During my election campaign I pointed out that disappointment was sure to come to one or the other party in Queensland, and that the Prime Minister could not satisfy both parties in that State as he appeared desirous of doing. I am glad that the disappointment is on the side that it is. I am glad that the Prime Minister has determined to put an end to this traffic. Mr. Philp must make the best of his disappointment so far as we are concerned. He threw in his lot with the Prime Minister, and ought not now to complain of what the latter is doing. Mr. Philp sets up a very strange theory in his letter to the Prime Minister.


Mr Fisher - Has the Prime Minister received that letter yet?


Mr Barton - No.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I hope that when it turns up the Prime Minister will promptly pay the deficient postage upon it, if that is found to be the cause of delay. Mr. Philp sets up a very strange doctrine. I have yet to learn that the Federal Government is under any obligation to consult with the State Governments as to what shall be done regarding a purely federal function. When Mr. Philp voted for Mr. Barton at the recent election, he voted to give him absolute control over the kanaka traffic of Queensland, and to do what he chose to secure its obliteration. He, therefore, has no standing when he makes a claim for consultation regarding the abolition of this kanaka traffic.


Mr Barton - I venture to say that I said nothing in Queensland to warrant the remark that my action justifies surprise.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I cannot say what the Prime Minister said. He certainly managed to get the support of both sections during the campaign.


Mr Barton - I do not think that was quite so.


Mr Watson - The two leaders were upon a par in Brisbane.


Mr Barton - I think the " white Australia " men were duly opposed in Queensland,


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - In my judgment all the pother which has been worked up in Queensland regarding this legislation conclusively proves that, underneath all the talk as to the temporary character of the employment of the kanakas, there has been a sincere belief that the planters were going to keep this coloured labour for all time. That is what all the trouble at the present moment really means. The planters are disappointed now that they see a prospect of this labour going away from them. I cannot help thinking that the strenuousness with which they are fighting for its retention merely shows that they had no idea that it would be absolutely abolished.


Mr Macdonald-Paterson - Federation would not have been assented to in Queensland but for that belief.


Mr Barton - I told them very plainly that it would be swept away.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I wish now to come to the question of whether the white man can perform the work of producing surgar in Queensland. After all it is a very serious question, and it rests upon us to show that white labour can do the work. We can only prove this by the citation of authorities who are supposed to know all about the conditions, and who have specially investigated them. I turn again to the report of the special commissioner who was sent up to Queensland to investigate this question. He says that the trashing need not be done in the northern districts of Queensland. He quotes a Cairns grower as showing that white men can do trashing if need be. He j says that he has seen girls doing it ! without any very serious results, and points out that if trashing must be done in North Queenslandit has only tobedone in the cool months of the year - during April, May, and June - and that therefore the white men can do it without any very serious trouble. He sums up the position in this way-

No man can truthfully say that white men cannot do the work ; but it is hardly fair to bring the white man down to the level of Chinamen and Hindoos. Whites must be paid a reasonable rate, a rate that will bring them to the work, and they must receive a guarantee such as is given to the Chinamen and Hindoos that they will get the season's work.

That is the statement of a Cairns planter, Thomas Mackay, upon the question of whether a white man can do the work. The same gentleman proceeds to produce a balance sheet. He goes into particulars and brings out a net profit of £229 10s. for farming 50 acres of sugar cane in Queensland by white labour. If a person can make that amount from 50 acres of cane which is tended and matured by white labour, I do not think it can be argued that the introduction of white labour for the fields generally is likely to smash up the industry in the ruthless way we have been led to believe. As to the moral phase of this question, there is another testimony which I should like to commend to the honorable member for Melbourne. It is from the pen of the Rev. William Gray, an old missionary in the islands. He says : -

There are four mission societies carrying on work in the recruiting grounds of the Queensland kanaka labour traffic, and the missionaries throughout, almost to a man, are agreed that the supply of kanaka labour under the present regulations is not compatible with British honor and Christian sentiment. Iam personally acquainted with the captains of the traffic, the Government agents and the recruiters. I have seen the work before the days of the Hopeful ease, and since. It was thought that the traffic had been shorn of its flagrant abuses, until the William Manson trial shattered that belief. And in spite of this " eye-opener," I willingly admit that a better class of men are now in the traffic ; but the more I know of natives, the more I know of "good men" in the traffic, the more I know what the kanaka labour traffic was and is, the more I am convinced that this traffic must be at heart what it alwayswas, and still is - a cruel, unjust, un-Christlike, demoralising traffic, in human flesh.


Sir Malcolm McEacharn - What is the date of that?


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The date is not given.


Mr McDonald - It is taken from a pamphlet which was issued in 1895.


Sir Malcolm McEacharn - The letter may be of a back date.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The extract is from a letter of recent date. Its author speaks of the better conditions under which traffic is now conducted. But he describes the traffic even under those better conditions as being

A cruel, unjust, un-Christlike, demoralizing, traffic in human flesh.

I quote now from the Sugar Journal and Tropical Cultivator.Mr. Givens, who, I am informed, is a reliable witness, and whose statements may be taken as truthful, in discussing this matter in the Queenlsand Parliament, pointed out some of the causes which hampered the growing of sugar by white labour in the north of that State. He speaks of the exorbitant price which has to be paid for money with which to farm sugar lands. The interest paid in some cases is as high as from 8 to 12 per cent. When people have to pay such a high rate of interest, it is a drag upon the industry, and tends to crush it more than anything else could do. Speaking of the other causes which oppress this traffic, that gentleman says : -

It will hardly be credited that the sugar grower gets only 551/2 per cent. of the total market value of the sugar, and that, for the mere process of refining it and putting it on themarket, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company grab 441/2 per cent.

That may enlighten us further as to what is the real trouble in regard to the sugar industry. It would seem, from a statement of the witness, that one cause is that the sugar growers are largely in the hands of the banks, who command high prices for their money. In the next place, there are trade conditions of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, which exacts tribute to the extent of 441/2 per cent. of the total value of the product for the process of refining. I do not know whether these statements are correct, but I say again, that from all I can find out, the gentleman who makes them is a trustworthy witness. If what he says is correct, we get at once an insight into some of the trouble which oppresses the sugar growers. . But I come back to the question - is this an industry in itself which is worth paying exorbitantly for ? That is the question we ought to face, and we ought not to be mealy-mouthed about facing it in its nakedness. Is it an industry which on the face of it we ought to take special precautions to maintain, even though its maintenance should involve a great deal of sacrifice on the part of Australia ? I admit that an industry in which £7,000,000 is invested is an important industry ; but there are other points of view to be considered as well as the point of view of the capital invested. We ought to investigate the conditions obtaining in the industry as they relate to the social ideals of the people, and to the decency and comfort of the homes of the persons engaged in producing the sugar. That is a point of view as much entitled to consideration as the point of view of the man who has millions invested in the industry; and I invite the attention of the House to that view for a moment. What are the conditions as to wages and labour in this industry? Here, again, I quote Dr. Maxwell, who tells us that the whites earn £1 10s. l1d. per week, and the kanakas 14s.11/2d. ; that is to say the cost of the kanaka is 14s. l1/2d. per week. According to Dr. Maxwell, I find that the mill hands - if we exclude engineers, who are professional men, and the sugar boilers and mechanics - earn an average wage of £1 13s. 51/2d. per week.


Mr McDonald - That is, including rations.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Yes ; that is the total payment in each case. We are told that one strong reason why the labour traffic in kanakas must be maintained is that work may be given to the whites of Queensland. Does itcome to this : That we must impose a duty of £5 per ton in the first place, and give the growers the privilege of importing cheap black labour in the second place, in order to maintain an industry for white men, which gives them in the one case5s. 2d. per day, and, in other cases, 5s. 61/2d. per day? What would be said of a man in these southern latitudes who kicked up all this pother, and asked Parliament to specially interfere to protect him in order that he might pay wages as low as those I have mentioned ? The reason men will not go north is that there is nothing to attract them. The further north we go the more devastating - perhaps that is not the correct word, but it will do - the labour is, and the more severe and soul and-body destroying it is, according to Mr. Paget, the less is paid for it. It is a total reversal of the rule of trade in relation to every other industry. The real secret of the refusal of white men to go north is that there is not a living wage sufficient to attract them there to do the work required. The Minister for Trade and Customs last night, in unfolding his Tariff proposals, said that the sugar industry was one natural to the soil and climate of our country. If this natural industry is to be protected up to the hilt to the extent of £5 per ton, and if all we can get out of it for the working man, is a wage of 5s. 2d. per day, I say that that is a glorious example of the benefits of a protective policy. We are told that we must support the kanaka traffic in order that whites may have work at, roughly, 5s. per day. That is the traffic we are going to continue to surround with a protective duty equal to £5 per ton. I have been through these refining mills myself, and I must admit, as one honorable member pointed out the other night, that since that visit of investigation I have not had much sympathy with sugar either for eating or for any other purpose. I venture to say that it is about the only industry on this continent . where we can see men working under such conditions. When it comes to men having to work without a stitch of clothing on, because of the atmosphere in which they are engaged, for an average wage of 5s. 61/2d. per day, it would not appear to be an industry so vital to the well-being of Australia as is sometimes sought to be made out. Such an industry is a black man's industry.


Sir Malcolm McEacharn - That is what we say.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Exactly, but the difference between the honorable member for Melbourne and myself is that I prefer to let the black man do the work in his own country, rather than in a white man's country. Of course I know how all the difficulty has arisen. We have allowed this traffic to grow up, and these large vested interests to become established. But I repeat that if these are the total results of a protective duty on sugar, they present a fine glowing argument in favour of the Ministerial policy. In this connexion I should like to say a word regarding the proposals of the Government as to the Tweed farmers. It is well known, for instance, that in Queensland the canegrowing areas are more prolific in results than are similar areas in New South Wales. That is to say, the yield per acre in Queensland is over 16s. more than it is on the New South Wales rivers. And the Queensland growers have the advantage of £2 per ton in the way of Tariff, and have had that advantage for some years past. The Queensland growers have had tins very decided advantage over the white sugar-growers on the Tweed River. Yet, notwithstanding that the yield of the Tweed is 16s. per area less than the yield in Queensland, and that the Tweed growers have enjoyed £2 per ton less duty, the wages earned on the Tweed, according to Dr. Maxwell, have been 7s. per day. How can it be argued, therefore, that if we make it incumbent on the producers in Queensland to employ white labour their industry is necessarily going to fall to the ground? There is the fact that while these wages men are getting 5s. a day for working in a broiling sun, and under the very worst possible conditions, some of the companies are paying 10 per cent, and upwards on the capital invested. I suggest without the slightest qualm of conscience that there is a margin, if a margin be required, in dealing with this question of alien labour versus white labour. Until we see that some of these companies have failed in their efforts to produce sugar with white labour, we need not be so very squeamish in our treatment of the kanaka question. The Government are proposing a rebate on white-grown sugar, so as to . compensate for the difference in their judgment between the value of the labour of black and white men, and in order, as the Government put it, to assist in the banishment of black labour from the continent. I think these were the words used by the Minister for Trade and Customs last night. I understand that much of the black labour is indented to growers in Queensland and that they are bound to employ the kanakas until the period of the contract has expired ; this, in many cases, extends over at least the next three years. If that be so, it occurs to me that, instead of imposing a rebate, it would be better for the Government to state plainly in the Bill that the growers must get rid of black labour. That would be better than to give them a time limit -with the one hand, and to take it away on the other hand, in the shape of a rebate of the kind proposed. The rebate is about equivalent, I understand, to the difference between black and white labour as carried on in Queensland. The more straightforward course, instead of bothering about a rebate at all, would be for the Government to say that, in obedience to the wish and mandate of the people of the continent, black labour shall go. This is a species of legislation I cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, appreciate, and I do not think that the sugar planter in Queensland will appreciate the treatment. The planter would prefer the straight-out method of telling him what we mean, rather than covering up the intention in the way we are doing in this proposal. It would be far better to tell him that kanaka labour must cease at once than to tell him it may continue for three years, and then fine him as much during the three years as the advantage which he derives from the black labour.


Mr G B EDWARDS (SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The choice remains with the planter.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Of course; but this is supposed to be a concession, so that dire results may not come to the planter and his industry. That is the proposal made by the right honorable gentleman all through the last election, and all through the life of this Parliament; and yet we find him giving concessions in the Bill, and taking those concessions away in the form of rebate. We are told by Dr. Maxwell that the difference in labour value varies in accordance with the climate and district. For instance, the two classes of labour are about equal in Mackay, and the white man is more valuable than the black man in and around Bundaberg. But supposing there is this difference between black and white labour throughout the whole of the industry, the figures work out, so far as I have been able to gather, at about £420,000. That is to say, that by the substitution of white for black men in the sugar industry in the Northern districts of Queensland, there will be a difference of £420,000 in the cost of labour. On a capital value of £7,000,000, which the Prime Minister mentioned as the amount invested in the industry, that would be equal to about 6 per cent.


Mr Barton - I said the figures showed the capital invested in the industry to be about £6,000,000, although it was generally spoken of as £7,000,000.


Sir Malcolm Mceacharn - It is nearer £7,000,000.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Then it would be about 6 per cent, on the total capital invested in the industry. There will be no trouble about this matter, according to Dr. Maxwell, except north of Mackay, and it is a thousand pities that that expert has not given us the number of growers carrying on operations north of that district. If he had done so, we should have known what was really at issue so far as the £ s. d. aspect of the question is concerned.


Mr McDonald - The bulk of the sugar comes from below Mackay.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The point I want to make is that, even from the worst view of the case, the displacement of black labour by white in the sugar-growing industry will mean only a consideration represented by 6 per cent. on the total capital invested. Dr. Maxwell makes it clear in his report that the displacement can only affect sugargrowers north of Mackay, and, therefore, only a modicum of the growers of Queensland. I cannot bring myself to believe that with all the resources of science and our civilization an adjustment cannot be made without any serious consequences to the State of Queensland. I think tie position was well put by the honorable member for South Sydney when he said that it was simply a matter of manure, mechanism and a market. I cannot believe that the resources of science as applied to sugar production, are so meagre that we cannot adjust this difference without difficulty. In dealing with this matter we have to consider not only Queensland, but the kanaka himself. One would imagine from the statements made about Mm by his advocates that he is brought to Australia to lead a happy life in the elysium of North Queensland. We have the testimony of many men to the Contrary. They show that the result of bringing the kanaka into contact with the white man is detrimental to himself, and disastrous to his nationality and his home. On the moral aspect of this question we have gentlemen rising up to tell us that we have a duty to perform to the kanakas in North Queensland, and that the sooner we realize it the better it will be. They tell us that if for no other consideration than the moral welfare of the kanaka, we ought not to prevent him from coming here, and that his importation to Australia must result to his infinite advantage. As to that, I should like to point out one fact, which seems to speak eloquently upon the moral aspect of this question. Honorable members have heard what the Rev. Mr. Paton, and the Rev. Mr. Grey, have to say on the moral aspect of this traffic. Let us take one fact alone, which seems to me to speak volumes. In the first place, the conditions under which kanakas are brought here are such as do not lend themselves to the cultivation of the best morality, as applied to their home and domestic life. We have been told by some honorable members from Queensland that the kanakas are an absolute menace and peril to some of the villages in North Queensland where they live. With over 8,000 kanakas employed on the sugar plantations up north, there are less than 500 females of the same race, so that evidently they are not mated in the sense that white people are supposed to be. Knowing their condition as we do, we need not be surprised at the tales of rapine, assault, and plunder that we hear of now and again. The very conditions of their existence predispose them to these things, apart altogether from their natural characteristics. How can it be a means of teaching or aiding their moral developments, and cultivating their higher and better nature, to bring them to a foreign country - as this is to them - under such circumstances as I have just indicated. We see the result upon their family life : that it breaks up their families, destroys their homes, and depopulates their villages. Whether it is right for us to encourage the certain depopulation of these islands of the Pacific, for the purpose of carrying on this industry, is a matter for very grave and serious consideration. Not only do we not improve their moral conditions by bringing them here to live, but we constitute them a menace to our wages rates and our social life. If we want to do something in the way of improving the morals of the kanaka, in the way of uplifting his life and engrafting upon him some of our civilizing influences, we have a much better chance of doing it in his own home than we possess when we bring him here. It is far better to go and Christianize him in his own islands than to bring him here, expose him to new temptations, and attempt to do it under the conditions in which he lives in Queensland. If we want to improve his moral development we shall not do it in the best way by importing him to Queensland. We can do it far better - as the work has been done for years past - by the efforts of those self-denying men who are willing to live with the kanaka in his own home, than by importing him to Australia and subjecting him to the further temptations, which undoubtedly exist in the circumstances under which he lives in Northern Queensland. Environment has everything to do with the formation of character, and environment such as that which surrounds the kanaka in Northern Queensland tends, not to his moral development, but rather to his moral degradation. There are weird stories told in the reports of the missionaries relative to the moral effects of the kanaka's contact with white men. To our shame be it said that in some cases his contact with white people in Queensland has led to the complete decimation of villages when he has returned home, taking with him the diseases which are common to white people in this country. All the missionaries who have lived with him in his own home say that the conditions under which the kanaka lives here expose him to moral temptations, and cannot tend to his moral enlightenment and progress. Every consideration, both economic and moral, should induce us to take the action contemplated by the Government, to prohibit the introduction of kanakas. We should keep them in their own homes, where they can enjoy their natural environment, and develop their own character, surrounded by their own people. That is the ideal we should aim at. We should do away once and for all with the menace which exists in North Queensland, no matter what the consequences may be to the sugar industry. I sincerely hope they will not be serious. I want to see no rough and rude displacement of the industrial conditions of Queensland, and I do not believe that this measure will have any such effect. Temporary displacement there may be, but I do not think it will be serious. If the growers only betake themselves to the doing away of this labour, and the giving of employment to their own kith and kin, the result will be anything but deleterious in its effect upon the industry as a whole. I believe that they will in the long run make up the difference, whatever it may be at the present time, between the cost of black and white labour ; and they will have the consciousness, when they do so, that they are doing nothing to repeat the troubles that have occurred in other lands where coloured labour has been tried before. I sincerely hope that, in considering this matter, we shall always keep in mind the fact that we are trustees for the future of this continent for those who have to come after us. We have not only to think of the occupation of to-day, but to remember that we are fixing the conditions under which people will live for generations after we have passed out of existence. We are trustees for them. We are concerned in their environment, and in their social ideal. If we betake ourselves to a serious apprehension of the issues involved in this question, and rid the continent of this black spot, then those coming after us will applaud our action for its resoluteness and courage. But if we have regard only to the passing considerations of the moment ; if we lend an ear to the people who would keep this black labour on our continent as they have done, then - when the trouble is complete, when contamination of our race has taken place, and we have a colony in our midst fructifying and multiplying just as has been the case upon other continents - those who come after us will not commend us for our action, but rather condemn us for our tardy, timorous performance of duty in a great crisis. That crisis exists at the present time. The trouble is in its incipient stage ; we can nip it without disastrous consequences to the trade as a whole, and our duty therefore ought to be clear.







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