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Thursday, 15 May 1924

Mr MCNEILL (Wannon) . - I support the motion moved by the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb). Australia is the only country in the world to prohibit the entry of Germans into its territory. In the first year after the cessation of hostilities between tho nations more than 12,000 Germans were permitted to enter England, and no objection was taken. It is one of the proud traditions of the British race that we are always prepared to shake hands and make friends with those with whom we have quarrelled, and as one who loves peace, and is prepared at all times to extend tho hand of friendship towards the man or the people with whom I have quarrelled, I support the motion. Not only does the present restriction on the admission of Germans to Australia impose a hardship on people now in this country who desire to bring out their relatives, but we also prohibit the publication of their church journal, which is printed in the German language. There are many old German people in this country who cannot read English, and they wish to have their little church paper printed in the German language so that they may read it and comfort themselves with it. We do not allow them to do so, and I regard that- as a hardship on them. We ought to agree, here and now, to abolish that restriction, even if the Government cannot see its way to remove the prohibition upon the entry of Germans into this country. Is there any sense in continuing the blockade against the Germans in this country and preventing them from bringing their relatives out from Germany"? The British Parliament offers no objection to Germans entering Great Britain. It cannot be denied that Lord Milner, who was of German birth, and was educated in Germany, was a member of the British Parliament and the British Ministry during the war. Although the British Parliament admits into the Ministry a German-born gentleman, who was educated in Germany, this Parliament refuses to allow Germans to come to Australia six years after hostilities have ceased. Sir John Monash, who has charge of the great electricity works at Morwell, Victoria, had no hesitation in sending to Germany when he required experts to supervise the erection of. the briquetting plant. Those men are now here.

Mr Atkinson - Their wives and families were allowed to come here, too.

Mr McNEILL - There is a German Consul here. He has been here for six or eight months. We are trading with Germany. We .ask them to buy our wool, our wheat, and our butter, and we buy their manufactures. The Prime Minister said we could only wipe out the feeling of hatred in a long period of years. If the principle of admitting Germans into this country is wrong to-day it will not bp less wrong in 1925. I am Australian born, and am as good a Britisher as the honorable member for Darwin (Mr. Whitsitt), who made such a bitter and hostile speech. I can imagine how he would perform in time of war. No one can deny that the German population of South Australia and Victoria comprises the best pioneers we have had in this land. They understand the scientific treatment of the soil, and are splendid men in handling stock. They also make excellent citizens. A smaller percentage of Germans than of any other race in this country are brought before the police and law Courts. We allow Hindoos, Maltese, and almost any nationality that can be mentioned, except Germans, to take up land. The Hindoos are strongly entrenched near Swan Hill, but when the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) asks for a small measure of justice for Germans who desire, at their own expense, to bring their friends here from Germany, the honorable member for Darwin says, " No, I would prohibit them for all time, or for 50 years at least." The honorable gentleman cannot have read much history. The Germans fought with us - and fought well, too' - at the battle of Waterloo. They helped us on that occasion, and the day may come when they will again fight side by side with us. I hope that neither Great Britain, Australia, nor any other country will ever be involved in war again. I belong to a party that stands for endeavouring, at any rate, to bring about universal peace. We ought at this stage, after the lapse of six years since the ending of the war, to do something to heal its wounds and forget the past. Australia oan afford to be generous. We can afford, if necessary, to take the lead in this matter. Unfortunately, on this occasion, we are following behind. I do not blame the present Government. The honorable member who was responsible for the malicious Act against which we are protesting was the ex-Prime Minister (Mr. W. M. Hughes).

Mr Gabb - The present Government is perpetuating the Act.

Mr McNEILL - That is so, but like the ex-Prime Minister, they may see the light eventually. I hope the Government will take a lenient and humane view of the matter, and realize that no good can come from harsh restrictions against people who belong to one of the great white nations of the world, which has made great strides in the world's history, and has been a leader in science, agriculture, and art. The Germans have been in the van nearly all the time, and we can now afford to say to them, " The war has been over nearly six years, and, whatever our quarrels may have been, we are willing, as other nations have done, to shake hands with you."

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