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Friday, 29 October 1920

Mr CONSIDINE (Barrier) .- Whilst I support the amendment, it appears to me to be not so urgent or vital as some of its supporters think it is. This piece of legislation is designed to dovetail with earlier legislation in regard to immigration which gave the party in office power to hand-pick the immigrants. The consequence is that the immigrants who are likely to come here will not be such as will get any sympathy from me if they have to wait for five years in order to get the inestimable boon of becoming British citizens. We must remember that naturalization did not protect the Italians who were in this country during the war.

Mr Bamford - Yes, it did.

Mr CONSIDINE - It did not.

Mr Brennan - In Hansard may be found the names and addresses of naturalized Italians who were seized and deported.

Mr CONSIDINE - The honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Bamford) was in this House when the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) and others raised this question, and he must know that the great boon of British citizenship conferred upon those Italians was treated as a mere scrap of paper.

Mr Bamford - Their ownConsul would not acknowledge it.

Mr.CONSIDINE. - So the Australian Government was subject to the whims of the Italian Consul!

The CHAIRMAN (Hon J M Chanter - This discussion is out of order.

Mr CONSIDINE - Our naturalization legislation in the past has not protected Italians who, though they were in possession of certificates of naturalization, were conscripted either at the instigation of some foreign Power or by design of the Defence Department. Therefore, it seems to me immaterial whether the period of residence is to be five years or two years.

Mr Bamford - Then, why bother about it?

Mr CONSIDINE - I am glad the honorable member has grasped my viewpoint. It is immaterial whether the period be five years or two years, because if the party at present in power continue in possession of the Treasury benches naturalization will not protect those whom honorable members opposite do not wish to protect. Immigrants have first to get into the country; and there is another piece of dove-tailing legislation which will enable the Government to take care that the people who come here are those from whom they may expect very little trouble. Probably this legislation is designed to' populate Australia with people who have shown in their own countries no spirit of protest against the old regime, and who are not likely to cause any inconvenience to the ruling class in this country.

Mr Gabb - It would be difficult to find those people in Europe now. The people of all countries are waking up.

Mr CONSIDINE - The Government cannot exclude the objectionable individual who is born a Britisher. They must confer upon him the privileges to which he is entitled by reason of his birth; but so far as immigrants from foreign countries are concerned, even when they have managed to pass through the legislative sieve which the Government are preparing, the inestimable boon of citizenship, whether it be gained after two years or five years, will be no good to them. They may have all the duties, but none of the privileges, of a British citizen, when it suits the honorable gentlemen who to-day rule the country.

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