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Friday, 9 July 1926

Senator DUNCAN (New South Wales) . - I listened with a great deal of attention to the able speech delivered by the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Pearce) when introducing this measure. If his speech was wanting in any respect, it was not due to any lack of capacity or oratory on the part of the right honorable gentleman, but almost entirely to certain inherent weaknesses in the case he presented to the Senate. I listened, also, with a great deal of interest to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham), and, although he indulged in what I might term some extravagances, still there was a good deal in his utterances with which I found myself in agreement. On thi* subject, as on many others that come before the Senate, the honorable senator was influenced by the attitude of the party to which he belongs, and for that reason was unable to express himself in the way he really desired. In spite of his unfortunate position, he presented .a fairly good case for his party, and, although he made many extravagant statements which could be most effectively replied to by honorable senators on this side of the chamber, I wish to congratulate him.

Senator Needham - Congratulations with reservations.

Senator DUNCAN - Exactly ! The question of migration and land settlement is one which should be sanely considered. We should endeavour to disregard those fears and prejudices we hold on the question of immigration and the right of people of other countries to come to Australia and share in the conditions which we enjoy. Unfortunately, however, such an attitude seems to be almost impossible of adoption by many honorable senators, and parliamentarians generally. That, too, perhaps, is a reason why the Leader of the Opposition was restricted when speaking on the bill. I am not going to say that that attitude is confined to the members of one party, as I realize that there are extremists in every .political party.

Senator Thompson - Does the honorable senator suggest that there are extremists in this chamber?

Senator DUNCAN - Yes, and not only here, but in the political organizations outside, which are responsible for the establishment of the parties represented in this chamber. There are extremists in the ranks of the Labour party who fear that any considerable increase in migration will result in vitally affecting the whole conditions of labour in the Commonwealth. They point to the fact that, after long years of political work and agitation, industrial conditions have been established which more than favorably compare with those in any other part of the world. They fear that a considerable influx of migrants from any country where the industrial and general conditions are not as good as they are here will destroy the high standard which has been secured after laborious effort. This fear is not entirely groundless, as at all times there is a possibility of our civil and industrial conditions being adversely affected by an undue flow of immigrants from countries where the conditions generally are not at all comparable with ours. There are extremists who, perhaps, sup- s port honorable senators on this side of the chamber to a greater extent than they support honorable senators opposite. There are, for instance, some who say that we should throw open the doors to an unlimited flow of European immigrants irrespective of any conditions. There are others who say that, as we have such great open spaces, we should allow the peoples of any country to come here to assist to build up our future civilization. There are also extremists who would not stop at, perhaps, hundreds, thousands, or tens of thousands coming to Australia, but who speak of immigration in millions. The excuse which they give - the necessity for preserving our national existence - is one which need only be briefly reflected upon to show that the remedy which they themselves suggest would result in Australians losing their national identity almost as completely as if we were successfully invaded. If the stream of immigration was of the dimensions they suggest, we would lose our national identity by becoming surrounded by a stream which would eventually overwhelm us. Those who would support such a policy are as extreme in their ideas as are those who support the policy of honorable senators opposite. The fears expressed by those who say that unless this country is populated more rapidly we may be overwhelmed by Asiatics, are groundless. They say that they will demand that the broad acres of Australia should be thrown open to them. Let us consider the possibilities. I know that many people fear an invasion by some Asiatic nation. The Minister who introduced this bill hinted at it. But an invasion by Asiatic people could only occur as a result of a carefully-conceived national policy of aggression, backed by force of arms. Such a policy calls for a . common nationality, or at least a noramon view-point regarding such a great undertaking. It would indeed be a great undertaking. Australia has established a record for the fighting qualities of her people, and any nation contemplating the invasion of this country would know that we would resist to the utmost. I a3k leave to continue my remarks at a later hour.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.

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