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Thursday, 14 June 1906

Mr MAHON (COOLGARDIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

1.   Has his attention been drawn to a statement attributed to Mr. Kidston, a Queensland Minister of State, published about 1st April, 1906, to the following effect : -

That the Queensland Government would not provide food and clothing for the kanakas about to be repatriated ; that the Federal Government must do it ; and that the same Government must bear the cost of deporting the kanakas to their native islands?

a.   If it be a fact that the kanakas referred to were brought into Queensland by Queensland for the sole benefit of a Queensland industry, does he consider it equitable that other States of the Commonwealth should bear any share in the cost of returning such kanakas to their islands or of maintaining them in the meantime ?

3.   Is it correct that a fund existed (to which sugar planters contributed) to meet the necessary expenses of returning Pacific Island labourers to (heir homes or. completion of their periods of engagement, and that this fund has been merged into the Stale revenue of Queensland and disbursed for purposes foreign to the object for which the money was collected?

4.   Does the Government intend to relieve the State of Queensland of any of its obligations to repatriate at its own expense the Pacific Islanders whom that State, for its own special advantage, introduced into Australia; and, if so, to what extent ?

5.   If, in addition to the sugar subsidy, and other special concessions granted to Queensland, the Government proposes to bear any portion of the expense of maintaining or of repatriating kanakas, can the Prime Minister say whether the Constitution admits of the consequent expenditure being adjusted so as to exempt from contribution those States which preferred to leave large areas suitable for sugar production unused rather than follow Queensland's example in importing coloured labour to carry on the industry ?

Mr DEAKIN - The answers to the honorable member's questions' are as follow: - 1. No. 2-5. The Government are awaiting final replies from the High Commissioner of the Western Pacific and the British Resident in the New Hebrides.

As soon as possible after the receipt of these and of the report of the Queensland Royal Commission which is now inquiring into the situation respecting kanakas, the intentions of the Government will be communicated to Parliament. In considering the statement to be then made, regard will be had to the various matters referred to by the honorable member.

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