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Thursday, 24 November 1927


Senator GRAHAM (Western Australia) . - I support Senator Needham's motion, because, while we have a large percentage of unemployment in the cities of Australia, Southern Europeans are still coming here. I give the lie direct to the Statement of an honorable senator opposite that the Opposition does not wish to have any migration to Australia, whether ,-t be of people of the British race or Southern Europeans. It is not part of the policy of the Labour party to oppose migration. Personally, I welcome the migration of our own kith and kin. If those who are in charge of the administration of the affairs of Australia are anxious to maintain the White Australia policy they ought to see that 90 per cent, of our migrants are British.


Senator Elliott - Does the honorable senator think that the migration of Italians is against the White Australia policy?


Senator GRAHAM - Yes, because it forces a lot of our own people out of employment. I shall show later that many Southern European migrants are willing to accept employment for less thai* the ruling rates of pay. Senator Sampson has laid great stress on the services rendered by Italy as' an ally of Great Britain during the war. Does he forget that Japan, another ally, also rendered great service during the war by! convoying Australian troops to the front? Does he contend that, because an ally of Great Britain rendered a service to Australia during the war, her people should be permitted to come into Australia and accept employment at rates of pay much below the ruling rates? I stand for the maintenance of a White Australia and for the policy of Australia for the Australians; but, as most Australians have sprung from the British race, I maintain that it behoves us to encourage the migration of people of that race. When you meet some Italians, a few weeks after they have landed, making a meal off a potato and a saveloy, it does not say too much for the efficacy of the regulation requiring them to have £40 in cash on landing. I doubt very much whether many of them have that amount of cash with them on their arrival. In every city of Australia there are committees of influential Italians and Greeks who nominate their compatriots as migrants. It is their duty to find employment for the new arrivals ; but if the latter cannot secure employment at the ruling rates qf pay they are willing to accept 10s. a week, or they will even work for weeks for nothing and then take 10s. a week. No Australian would accept employment under those conditions. Without wishing to cast any reflection on the Italian race and their mode of living in their own country, I think I am safe in saying that they do not conform to Australian Standards of living even on arriving in Australia. Senator Pearce has told us that those responsible on the other side of the world for sending Southern Italians to Australia send only desirable migrants. It is difficult to select none but desirables from thousands of persons on the other side of the world anxious to migrate and that some

Italians who are not wholly desirable as citizens have come to Australia is proved by the following headlines I have extracted from leading Australian journals : -

Sent Home. - Two Italians going. Criminal lunatic. (Sim, 1st October, 1928.)

Italian Quarrel. - Man shot. {Advertiser, oth August, 1927.)

Italian to be Tried on Stabbing Charge. - Wife and son victims. (Herald, 30th May, 1927.)

Italian's Defence in Stabbing Charge. - "Me no understand." (Herald, 30th August, 1927.)

That was the case where an Italian stabbed a policeman.

Undesirables Among Foreign Migrants. - Many knife and gunmen. (Herald, 27th May, 1927.)

There has been a big influx of Italians on the Western Australian gold-fields, and the new arrivals seem to get employment despite the fact that hundreds of Australian ' miners are out of work. It has been proved that shipping companies on the other side of the world, in order to induce Italians to come to Australia, have issued glaring advertisements informing would-be migrants that they can secure work here at no less than £2 a day. While the Labour party is not opposed to migration, I think the time has come for a halt in the stream of migrants so as to allow the major portion of our unemployed to get work. We know that in most of our big cities the f factories close down for a few weeks over Christmas, just at a time when their employees need a few extra shillings to carry them over the festive season. Unemployment thus created is not the fault of Jack Lang. Phil Collier, or Ned Hogan. But the fact remains that while Australians are forced out of employment the flow of migrants continues. I readily recognize that if a contract has been entered into with the British Government to accept 2,000 British migrants a month it must be honored ; but the trouble is that we cannot provide employment for these migrants when they land. Many people who come here from Great Britain, presumably to go on the land, never i-each the farming centres, while many of those who do reach the agricultural areas soon find that farming is not the class of work to which they are accustomed, and they proceed to the cities, where they compete with those already there for the jobs offering. The Melbourne Herald, on the 20th June last, in an article based upon an interview with the man in charge of an Italian employment agency in Peel-street, West Melbourne, published the following: -

Nearly all the Italians in Victoria, he says, are at present in work. There are some of the men working for a lot less than the living wage. Their aim in the first place, isto get work where they are paid the maximum wages. If that is not available, they will! work for less. If the worst comes to the worst, they will work for their keep until something better turns up. They do not go into the ethics of the thing. They are frankly not concerned with the fact that they may be lowering the standard that Australian workmen have been at such pains to raise. They regard it as a bigger crime to be unemployed.

If migrants, Italians or otherwise, come here prepared to offer their services under the conditions mentioned in that article, it shows that there is something wrong. I suppose that some employers are willing to employ these people if by doing so they can show a bigger profit at the end of the week. If their command of the English language is not sufficient to enable them to appreciate what they are undertaking, they ought to be put on the right track by their English-speaking brethren. Instead of having £40 when they arrive in Australia, many have less than 40s. That is proved by the fact that unless they are absorbed immediately, they are quickly reduced to a condition of starvation. As soon as they commence work they pay in to a fund a certain sum every week to defray the cost df their fare to Australia. Those who are in control of that fund are thus enabled to assist the migration of other Southern Europeans. Thousands of diggers who fought in the great war have neither work to which they may go, nor a bed upon which they may lie. I should be ashamed to express the view that an Italian was equal to, if riot better than, an Australian. I am, first and last, an Australian. If we are unable to induce Britishers to migrate to Australia, we should- at least prevent the influx of Southern Europeans.


The PRESIDENT - The honorable senator has exhausted his time.







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