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Thursday, 8 December 1938

Mr GREEN (Kalgoorlie) .- I desire to refer to the difficult position in which an industry in the north-west of Australia finds itself because of competition from abroad. The following telegram that I have received explains the position : -

Desire emphasize fact that all Broome government servants, shopkeepers, workers, &c, &c, in fact, whole white population of Broome solely dependent on pearling industry and for your and Minister's information the white population of Broome is four hundred and sixty-five. Fleets owned and operated are one company each twelve, seven and five boats, two pearlers- each four boats, one pearler three boats, five pearlers each two boats, eight pearlers each one boat. Of these only three pearlers have no family resident in Broome, companies have several families dependent. Owing extreme isolation impossible visualize plight, all homes and families here if forced leave> district which must happen in event no response from Government to our appeal. Anxiously awaiting decision Federal Cabinet regards produce advance and subsidy. Situation most serious, two-thirds Broome fleet already in port owing unfavorable working conditions, expect balance fleet arrive Broome next week, when lay-up will start and as most pearlers definitely unable pay off, serious complications with men will ensue unless Government grants our request and immediately makes available Sixteen thousand pounds produce advance and Sixteen thousands pounds subsidy.

The produce advance is made only against the pearl-shell as it is sold., For the last four or five years, the pearling industry of Australia, which is located at Broome, in the north-west of Western Australia, at. Darwin, in the Northern Territory, and off the coast of Queensland, has been menaced by Japanese pearling interests. Some of the Japanese pearlers originally worked as divers for the pearling masters in Broome. ' They subsequently returned to Japan, and later came back to Australia in the employ of a large Japanese company - the South Sea Shipping Company. They fish in what are practically Australian waters. They have the advantage of cheap-labour conditions, as well as larger boats and more of them. They have shipped the whole of their pearl-shell, for last season, which has been fished in Australian waters, to the one market available for the disposal of that commodity to-day, namely, the United States of America. This has completely shut out the Australian master pearlers in each of the pearling ports, and, as a consequence, the white settlement at Broome, 1,600 miles north of Perth, has no prospect of making a livelihood. We cannot prevent these foreigners from taking possession of our pearl beds, but some assistance will have to be given to our pearlers to enable them to carry on when they are unable to place their pearl-shell on the New York market or other markets for at least a year; otherwise Broome will be the first port taken in this country by foreigners. The prestige of Australia is at stake. We are spending on defence a thousand times more than would be needed to subsidize this industry. I find no fault with that. But I do contend that we ought to combat in the only way that is possible the efforts of these foreigners to take away the livelihood of our men. The salmon fishermen of the United States of America are being assisted to withstand a threat from the same quarter. At the present moment Japan is contemplating the exclusion of Great Britain from trading activities in China, yet at the same time its pearlers are seizing the livelihood of Australians. It is up to this Government to defeat their designs by peaceful means, namely, by subsidizing local companies and thus enabling them to advance the cause of a White Australia.

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