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Thursday, 7 December 1905


Mr POYNTON (Grey) - As one who took part in the discussion which took place upon the proposal not to admit contract immigrants to Australia when the Immigration Restriction Bill was under consideration, I have a distinct recollection that only two points were raised upon that occasion, We sought to guard against the introduction of men under contract during the progress of an industrial dispute, and also against their acceptance of a lower wage than that current in Australia in the industry in which they wished to engage. Reference to the Hansard, report will show that when the question was being debated instances were quoted in which Italians had been introduced to work in- the mines of Western Australia for less than half the ordinary rate of wage. The two points to which I have referred were all that we contended for then, and they are all that we ask for now. I shall never sanction the adoption of an exclusive policy in this connexion. The honorable member for Newcastle has contended that immigrants may be imported to Australia, and a strike may subsequently result ; but I would ask him if there is anything to prevent that occurring at the present time? Could not 500 contract immigrants be imported by the proprietors of the Broken Hill mines,, and could they riot discharge 500 of their present hands?


Mr Watkins - The honorable member wishes to accentuate that position.


Mr POYNTON - I do not. I have been associated with mining longer than has the honorable member. I worked in the mines before he was born. If the employers wished to introduce contract labourers, and subsequently to discharge their present employes, they could do so to-day.


Mr Watkins - I have known them to flood a colliery with men from England.


Mr POYNTON - I do not deny that that has been done. At the same time, I do not believe that employers will bring men here under contract, and pay them the Australian rates of wages, besides advancing their steamer fares.







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