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Friday, 29 October 1920

Mr BRENNAN (Batman) .- Without labouring the arguments I have already addressed to the House, I move -

That the word " five ", line 7, be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word " two ".

That will bring the period of probation back to what it was under the existing law. We are providing in this Bill for very drastic and absolute powers of revocation in granting letters of naturalization. If we take that unlimited power of revocation, and read it with the fact that a person is to be domiciled in this country for not less than five years before he obtains his letters of naturalization, it seems that we shall be creating conditions so uncertain and precarious that no selfrespecting man will settle here. I would not go to a country and attempt to make myself a useful citizen if I were told that I had for five years to remain unprotected by any citizen rights at all, with all the dangers that are involved in alienage in case of war or international disturbances of that character. If it is right, which I do not admit, that this unlimited power of granting or withholding should rest with the Minister representing the Crown, I contend more strongly still that it is not right that a person should have to live in a country unprotected by nationality in that country for not less than five years. If we agree to this we shall be discouraging desirable men from coming to this country, and will be assuring them that they will have no protection as citizens in the country which they adopt. It is a churlish and niggardly, way of treating people who may desire to come to the Commonwealth, and it is not likely to encourage immigration. Well informed thinkers are abundantly satisfied that if we aTe to populate Australia we must make up our minds that we cannot hope to rely solely upon members of the British race. Our past history shows that the increase from overseas, and our natural increase, is inadequate, and that it is preposterous to throw difficulties in the way of populating a country equal in size to that of Europe. I am not aware, even in the light of prejudices arising from the war, that -we have given citizenship to any appreciable extent to undesirable persons. On the contrary, persons we have enlisted, by virtue of our laws of naturalization, in the majority of cases have turned out to be useful and law-abiding citizens. In these circumstances, I think that we are taking a retrograde step by increasing the period that a person must serve by way of probation before he can become naturalized, and I trust my amendment will have the support of the Committee.

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