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Wednesday, 9 September 1903

Sir EDMUND BARTON - I think we may as well consider whether we should adopt the step ' taken elsewhere, to insert a specific colour line in the Bill. I know that some honorable members entertain very strong views upon this subject, but I suggest that perhaps it would be better to carry out our object in such a way as not to cause any embarrassment to the Imperial Government. My opinion is that, in view of the control exercised by Parliament, the Minister administering the Act would not be likely to admit objectionable persons to the citizenship of the Commonwealth, and that we might safely leave the discretion in his hands. We should thereby avoid the necessity for inserting a provision which might cause friction.

Mr Isaacs - Would this Bill be reserved for His Majesty's assent if the clause were passed in its present form?

Sir EDMUND BARTON - I take it that the Governor- General would not reserve any Acts which would not, in some sense or other, involve embarrassment in the internal or external relations of the Empire. The direct exclusion from the right of naturalization of persons belonging to India, or of the subjects of an Empire with which Great Britain has entered into an alliance, might result in the Bill being reserved for His Majesty's assent.

Mr Isaacs - But the clause expressly omits British subjects from the exclusion.

Sir EDMUND BARTON - Yes ; British subjects would not come directly under this clause, but a subject of Japan - an Empire with which Great Britain has entered into an alliance - would be affected by it, and the natives of the independent States of India which are not under the Empire would also be involved. It is for honorable members to consider whether we should adopt a course which may result in hanging up this legislation for a time, or effect our object in some other way. The 16th section of the Imperial Naturalization Act of 1870 reads as follows : -

All laws, statutes, and ordinances which may be duly made by the Legislature of any British possession for imparting to any person the privileges, or any of the privileges, of naturalization, to be enjoyed by such person within the limits of such possession, shall within such limits have the authority of law, but shall be subject to be confirmed or disallowed by Her Majesty in the same manner and subject to thesame rales in and subject to which Her Majesty has power to confirm or disallow any other laws, statutes, or ordinances in that possession.

That is only the ordinary power of reservation, but I think that, under all the circumstances, it would be better to leave matters to the discretion of the Minister under the control of both Houses. I therefore move -

That the words " and not being: an aboriginal native of Asia, Africa, or the Islands of the Pacific excepting New Zealand " be omitted.

Mr. KINGSTON(South Australia).Does not the Prime Minister think it preferable in a matter of this kind to lay down a general rule, rather than to depend upon a. practice which may vary with the whim of each succeeding Minister. I believe that if we laid down the general principle embodied in the Bill as it stands, it would prove more acceptable. I desire to limit as far as possible the opportunities for admission to Australian citizenship, and I think that that object can be best achieved by laying down a distinct rule.

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