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Thursday, 3 October 1901

Senator O'CONNOR (New South Wales) (Vice-President of the Executive Council) .! am sure that every honorable senator who has listened to Senator Dobson will admit that he is actuated by the utmost sincerity, and that, if he will allow me to say so, the somewhat extravagant expressions he has used are dictated by his enthusiasm for the Empire. We may all be enthusiastic about the Empire, and I would yield to no man here in my admiration for it, and my feeling of pride that Australia is part of it. At the same time, I never forget, as I hope none of us do, that we are also citizens of the Australian Commonwealth, and that we have to recognise that, however proud we may be of our connexion with the Empire, we must take care that the policy of the Australian Commonwealth is developed on those lines which are neccessary for its safety. No confusion of thought on this matter, it seems to me, is more common than that into which Senator Dobson has fallen, namely, that we cannot carry out the policy of a white ustralia without doing injustice to other portions of the Empire.

Senator Dobson - Has the safety of the Commonwealth nothing to do with this matter ?

Senator O'CONNOR - There is no doubt that the latest opinions of the best British statesmen is that we must work out our own destiny with regard to the Empire wherever possible, but first of all we must work out our own destiny, and there is no intention, and never has been any intention, expressed on behalf of the Colonial-office, ruled as it is now by nien who have the experience of Colonial government of a hundred years behind them, of forcing the will of the Empire upon any colony - especially upon the Commonwealth of Australia - where the forcing of that will is inimical to the interests of the colonies themselves. In every matter concerning the colonies, their intention is, and wisely, to let the colonies govern themselves, according to their own views.

Senator PULSFORD - But the AttorneyGeneral says be does not know whether this Bill will be accepted.

Senator O'CONNOR - There is no question that one of the most important matters of policy for the safeguarding of the Commonwealth is the preservation of a white Australia.

Senator Lt Col NEILD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Col. Neild. - This has nothing whatever to do with it.

Senator O'CONNOR - I do not expect my honorable friends opposite to agree with me, but I am making a statement which, I think, cannot be gainsaid, except, perhaps, by those whose enthusiasm for the Empire has somewhat carried them off their feet.

Senator Dobson - The honorable and learned senator is taking up a position different to that which he took up on a previous occasion.

Senator O'CONNOR - I cannot say everything at once. I do not possess that faculty which the honorable :aud learned senator enjoys ; but I intend to explain fully my position in this matter. I was observing that one of the cardinal points of our policy in dealing with the Commonwealth is that Australia shall be maintained as a place for the white races. Although it is not a necessary part of that policy that we should see that the principle is observed in all contracts dealing with the carrying of mails from and to Australia, the same principle is involved. That principle is, that if we find it necessary for the maintenance of a white Australia to do an act which may seem inhospitable to other parts of the Empire, we are under that first and greatest law of nature, self-preservation, and we have to look after ourselves first of all. Therefore all these arguments we have heard as to the injustice to the other inhabitants of the Empire, in India and other places, seem to me to be answered in one word. If to do this is to do an injustice to them, then the answer is that it is necessary for our preservation that this injustice should be done. Has this question of a white Australia any bearing upon this matter at all ? I say it has - in this sense, that the Commonwealth wishes to carry out the policy of a white Australia and will spend, and does spend now, a very large amount in the carriage of mails.

Senator Dobson - I rise to a point of order. I ask whether the doctrine of a white Australia, and the saving of the Commonwealth and our own safety in this matter, has anything to do with the amendment before the committee?

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