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Thursday, 15 May 1924

Mr DUNCAN-HUGHES (Boothby) . - As for my experience of the operation of this provision for restricting the admission of Germans into Australia, I have, on one occasion only, forwarded an application by one of my constituents for the admission of a German. He applied for one> of his parents and his brother to be admitted to Australia. The Minister for Home and

Territories (Senator Pearce) dealt with the matter with great expedition. He gave unconditional permission for the parent to be brought out to Australia, but in the case of the brother he stipulated - as appeared to me to be proper and prudent - that he should be admitted only if he could give satisfactory evidence that he was not engaged against us in the Great War. Any one who served in that war probably looks at this matter differently from those who did not engage in the fighting. One who wa3 actually in the field for three or four years cannot look at the subject from the unbiased view-point of the man who has not seen his companions shot down and wounded beside him. My mind goes back to the case of a boy I knew. He was, I think, nineteen years of age. He was actually at the Front for about six months. In that, time he was wounded twice, gassed once, and then killed. It is difficult to get rid of the feelings engendered by such experiences. Yet 1 am sure that the general attitude of Australians is that we do not want to perpetuate bitterness. For my part, I draw a very definite distinction between Australians of German descent and Germans proper. For the Australian of German descent, when he is a loyal man, I have the greatest admiration. We know that in some instances these men have expressed sentiments which have not been loyal: with them I personally do not wish to have anything to do, although I still regard them as Australians; but for those who must have been torn by conflicting sentiments, and came forward and fought as Australians in the war, I have the greatest admiration. I am glad of this opportunity, which is the first I have had, of paying my small tribute to the magnificent services they rendered to this country. But to say that, because certain men of German descent fought magnificently for us during the war, we should throw our country open to' every German who desires to come here, whether he was our enemy in the field for three or four years or not, seems to me to be pushing the matter too- far. I see no reason why, because we are trading with this nation, we should invite Germans to. come within ou r portals. The two things are entirely distinct. Ordinarily you do not invite a man with whom you do business to come into your private house, and personally I stand by the Act of the ex-Prime Minister in that regard. I do not agree with everything, he did., butin that respect I am solidly behind him. The Act was a good Act. The Germans have shown no readiness to apologize, have shown no sense of responsibility or culpability for the war, and, as far as I can see, have made no attempt to pay off the indemnity imposed upon them by the Peace Treaty. The honorable member for Grey (Mr. Lacey) says, " Let us honour the peace:." Have the Germans honoured the peace? Have they done anything to make it right for us to say to them, " Come within our house and we will make you free of. it " ?

Mr Fenton - Has France done anything to " honour the peace " ?

Mr DUNCAN-HUGHES - I say nothing as to that. But we are discussing the conduct, nob of Franco, but of Germany, and I shall not be drawn away from the subject by interjections of that kind.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY (HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Why should we go further than Great. Britain ?

Mr DUNCAN-HUGHES - We are dealing with this matter as the Parliament of Australia. I know that on a recent occasion the Opposition became practically the re-echo of the British Parliament, but we are now dealing with the circumstances of a case, as it appeal's to us, on their merits. I am dealing with them as an individual, and giving my personal opinion. For that opinion, and that opinion only, I am responsible. The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) wishes to compare everything we do here with what is done in the British Parliament. I am afraid he will not always find me in agreement with him.

Mr Manning - We do not prohibit trading with persons debarred from entering this country under the White Australia policy.

Debate interrupted wider standing order119.

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