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Thursday, 9 July 1903

Senator STANIFORTH SMITH (Western Australia) - I think the Committee will be well advised in adopting the same line of distinction in this matter as we have done in the Franchise Act. We have said there that any coloured person who has obtained the right to vote in any State shall have that right in the Commonwealth. We should say the same with regard to naturalization. We have provided in clause 3 that persons who have been naturalized in a State shall be naturalized in the Commonwealth. If we do not insert this amendment it may be possible for the 80,000 coloured aliens in Australia to obtain naturalization. Another point which I submit is this - that in the definition clause " British subject " is defined as any one born on British soil. So that it might come about that any persons coming into Australia in the future from India, Ceylon, or Hong Kong, from the British Malay States, or an Arab or a negro from British possessions in Africa, would, ipso facto, have the right to naturalization in Australia. We must remember that our education test is not a perfect one, and that numbers of coloured people may be able to come into the Commonwealth in spite of it. If they have been born on British soil, which includes a third of the globe, they will on coming here be entitled to the full rights of citizenship. Those rights carry with them great responsibilities to the Australian people, and we should be careful that they are not conferred upon aliens without proper restrictions. I say we should adopt the amendment suggested by Senator Higgs, not only because we ought in this case to make the same distinction as we have already made in the Commonwealth Franchise Act, but in order to provide that people of coloured races born on British soil shall not, for that reason alone, be entitled to the rights of citizenship within the Commonwealth.

Senator DRAKE - I should like to say, in reply to Senator Higgs, that I was not speaking of reciprocity with China or Japan, but of reciprocity with British countries who may have laws of naturalization which will not contain the restrictions which it is proposed shall be insisted upon here. If we introduce restrictions which do not exist in the Acts in force in other British countries, we shall find them a bar to reciprocity. That is the reason why we should prevent these restrictions being expressed in. the way proposed, and why we should leave the settlement of these matters to the GovernorGeneral in Council. That is. a much safer and wiser plan, because it will prevent any obstacle to our securing reciprocity upon this question with other countries. We should not purposely slavishly follow the legislation of the United Kingdom, but we should look to it as indicating the lines we should follow in any legislation of this character. If we desire reciprocity with Great. Britain and other British countries on this subject, we shall avoid these restrictions.

Senator Millen -We can have reciprocity by legislation as well as by administrative action.

Senator DRAKE - We might; but if our statutes contain restrictions which do not exist in the laws in force in other countries, we shall have very great difficulty in bringing about reciprocity.

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