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Wednesday, 12 October 1927

Senator REID - I say, definitely and clearly, that according to information supplied to me, the Italian is more reliable as a cane-cutter than is the ordinary gang of cane-cutters. That is the opinion held by those who employ them. There has been no sweating; they are paid the award rates, and carry out their work under the inspection of officers.

Senator Needham - Does the honorable senator say that the Italian is better than the Australian as a workman?

Senator REID - I am not saying that ; but repeat that the persons who employ them say that they are more reliable as cane-cutters than the others.

Senator Needham - There are other industries in which they are engaged.

Senator Sir William Glasgow - This money is not to be spent on foreign immigration.

Senator REID - I am aware of that; but it has been said that the Government is giving preference to foreigners in the matter of immigration. Police magistrates and others in North Queensland say that the Italians are sober men, and are seldom seen hanging about the townships. . All the cane-cutters are members of the Australian Workers Union, otherwise the workers at the mills would not handle the cane. A. member of the Australian Workers Union, in giving evidence before a royal commission on Alien Immigration, said -

In ray opinion, the Italian is a man who will stick up for his rights. He does his work well, and I should say that an Italian is as good a unionist as any other class of workman. . . . The Italian members of the union are loyal to the union. They are anxious to carry out the awards and laws of the country. The Italian does not wish to work more than eight hours a day. Every member of the union demands the full rates laid down by the award. As far as I know, the Italians do not under-cut the rates of the sugar award.

An organizer of the A.W.U. who was organizing the Italians, told me that in their camps they lived very much better than the average British cane- cutters. I have seen few men of any other nationalities in the cane fields who were better specimens of humanity, physically, than the Italian cane-cutters. There are few weeds among the latter ; they are well fed and well clothed ; they are a fine speciman of manhood to bring to Australia. I have no racial prejudices, but I stand second to none in my pride in my own race and in my desire that people of my own race should come to Australia. How- " ever I do not shut my eyes to the fact that Italians can set us an example in the matter of co-operation. The way in which by mutual effort they acquire farms and start industries is a most valuable lesson to Australians.. In any case the British race is not as pure as some think it is.

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