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Thursday, 24 November 1927


Senator SAMPSON (Tasmania) . - I regret that time will not allow me to deal with this subject as I should like to do. For the last six or seven months I have been studying the problems of immigration and over-population in the various countries of the world. I have been amazed to hear honorable senators go so far as to say that Australia, a continent with a population of 2.03 persons to the square mile, is over-populated, and that over-population has resulted in unemployment.


Senator Grant - That statement has not been made by honorable senators on this side.


Senator SAMPSON - Honorable senators opposite apparently wish to revert to the time when Adam delved and Eve spun. In their opinion Australia with a population of only two persons, would be an ideal place. Unemployment in Australia is due, not to overpopulation, but to defective organization - to a lack of definite balance between different industries. Honorable senators opposite have inferred that Italian's are not good enough for a White Australia.


Senator Findley - No one said that.


Senator SAMPSON - A White Australia is a great ideal; but the sooner we set about maintaining that ideal by filling our empty spaces with white people the better. Only for a few years will the matter rest in our hands. History makes that plain. What has happened in the past to other nations and other countries will happen in our case if we do not take time by the forelock. The inference that Italians are not good enough for a While Australia, has caused resentment and hatred among the highly cultured people of Italy. They resent the suggestion that they are not white. I remember well reading translations from some of the leading Italian newspapers on the general feeling throughout that country when it became known that Australia objected to Italian migrants. Italy's services in the groat war were of the utmost importance to the Allies. I was living in Paris at the time of the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, and I remember when Baron Sonnino and his delegation left Paris in high dudgeon and returned to Rome. One of the reasons was that Italy, a country so over-populated that she cannot feed her people, to whose people birth control is repugnant on religious and other grounds, a country which stuck to her pact throughout the war, with the result that she lost ten men for every man Australia lost, a country without any overseas colonial possessions, was, notwithstanding her sacrifices, given no colonial mandate, whereas Australia, with more territory than she knew how to manage, was given mandates. Can honorable senators wonder that throughout Italy there was a feeling of resentment and disillusionment? The pressure in Italy caused by over-population is very great. Although one of her sous discovered the great continent of America, the United States of America, by its quota system, has practically closed that outlet for Italy's surplus population. Italians to the number of from 200,000 to 300,000 necessarily leave Italy every year. For my part I should like to see them in Australia, because my experience is that the Italian is a good man. Of course; there are some Italians who are" "rotters " and undesirable, but there are some of that class even among Australians. It must be galling to a country which has produced some of the greatest scientists, artists, orators and inventors that the world has ever known, to have Australia, a young and raw offshoot of Britain, assuming a racial superiority. That resentment of a few years ago has died down, and for that I am glad. Australia wants all the goodwill she can get from other white races. The day of trial may yet come when our White Australia policy will be seriously challenged. Without the goodwill of other white nations, we may then well say, " God help Australia." About two years ago a correspondent of one of the leading Italian newspapers was sent to Australia to inquire into the position, status and treatment of Italians who had settled in Australia. His views were given in the Corrieredelta Sera, of 10th July, 1925. in the following terms -

Hie Italian invasion, the favourite cry, is the most common of the catchwords that one hears repeatedly in its daily polemics directed against Italian immigration. A metaphor of journalists overburdened with imagination? Not at all. You are confounded. Why all this bitter feeling against the Italians? I will explain: In order to keep Australia white. Keep Australia white is the true catchword of this crusade. In fact we are not white, we are olive. Olive-skinned influx, the invasion of the olive skins is how a large Melbourne evening paper refers to the announcement of an inquiry by the Queensland Government into Italian immigration in the northern districts. And at another congress of Australian women, a well-known speaker, after exhorting Australian housewives not to purchase fruit of Italian vendors, laments that after so much done to preserve Australia white against the menace of the Asiatic, " olive " immigrants continue to establish themselves in the country. We are so degraded a race that the Australian women are exhorted not to marry our immigrants. " Brave comrades, our blood sullies, soils, adulterates their Australian blood. Pollute, polluted are the concise and brutal expressionsemployed." This theory of the superiority of the north to the south has gone too far. Afterall, some of these beggars from South Europe created Rome, the Papacy, the Renaissance, and some other trifles. They do not know it ! They do not know anything. They have ideas of Italy that make one despair of the future of humanity. Do you know what was the number of Italian immigrants disembarked during the entire year of 1924 to cause such a bother? It was 4,286. They are astonished when one tells them that. in 1923 we sent, for example, 93,000 emigrants to the Argentine, and 183,000 to France. And it is for these 4,280, for this infinitesimal percentage of Italians - healthy, model workmen who come to offer strong arms and willing hearts - that commissions are set up, congresses are agitated, newspapers are perturbed, and it for this . . . that the doors are shut in our faces with foul words, as upon another yellow peril - " the olive peril " - shut against the ally of yesterday, the friend of to-day, the third great European power - Italy. This defamation must come to an end, and to stop it there is but one means - to speak through clenched teeth. All the protests of our consuls, all the efforts which the Federal Government does not fail to put forth to restrain this ill-advised language amount to nothing. Only the reacting force of our public opinion can 'bestow a sense of responsibility on those sections of the press and of Australian politicians who have lost it. These things must not be said."

I do not wonder at the resentment that article caused throughout Italy - the arrogant assumption that the highly civilized people of Italy, a country to which we owe so much, is inferior to the people of Australia. It shows where blind ignorance and prejudice can lead one. If Australia does not carry a population of 20,000,000 people within the next fifteen or twenty years those of us here then will not be able to hold it. Italy's problem is that great numbers of her people must migrate. She has no colonies. The Italians are a great colonizing race, but colonies have been denied to them. Italy's problem is ' an economic one that can and must be solved. Otherwise there is bound to be trouble. We must, therefore, look upon Italy with goodwill, sympathy and friendship. In 1925, Senator Cippico, a Fascist senator, addressing an international conference in the United States of America, summed up the position of Italy in the following words: -

It is not enough that foreign countries should re-open their doors as a gracious favour to Italian labour. Pre-war Italians might be satisfied to be hewers of wood and drawers of water for foreign taskmasters, but post-war Italians will not be so satisfied. One of the worst errors of the Paris Peace Treaty was that no provision was made for giving Italy more colonial territories, Italy who has the largest and most laborious emigrant population of any country in the world, and the smallest colonial dominions. Either colonial territories should be given to Italy, where her sons can settle down under the Italian flag and increase the production of the world for the benefit of the whole world - and not of Italy alone - or Italian emigrants in foreign and thinly-populated countries must be grouped together and remain Italian citizens. The advantages of securing Italian labour are so great that the country which receives it should be prepared to make generous concessions. If neither of these measures is taken, and the doors of foreign countries remain closed to Italian labour and industrial products, a very serious and even critical situation may arise, affecting not Italy alone, but the whole world. A nation boasting so ancient a civilization, cannot renounce its right to live, cannot now turn back and accept a condition of economic and political dependence. It would mean national suicide; and nations which, like Italy, have developed prosperous industries, are ready to sacrifice anything, even life itself, before they will consent to Suicide.

It has been maintained that the flow of Italians into Australia has caused unemployment. I propose to show that this is not so.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Plain). - Order! The honorable Senator's time has expired.







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