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Wednesday, 30 June 1937

The Rev. T. Theodor Webb, who recently returned from missionary -work in Arnhem Land, made an appeal at Wesley Church yesterday afternoon for better protection of aborigines. " The Darwin pearling industry, as it is conducted at present, is a disgrace to Australia he said. " The welfare of the Arnhem Land aborigines is threatened not by illegal Japanese pearling luggers so much as the crews of Australian-owned vessels. These vessels are manned by indentured Asiatics - Japanese and Malays - and it is these men who have been guilty of interference with aboriginal women. Their crimes mean not only the degradation of these women, but the breaking down of the whole social system under which the aborigines live. The luggers have left disease and death behind them ".

I do not know Mr. Webb, but I have, made inquiries concerning him, and I find that he has had a long experience in Arnhem Land, and that his reputation is such that any statement by him regarding the aborigines there can be regarded as authentic. He has the welfare of the natives at heart - indeed, that is the reason for his living among them. Mr. Webb makes it clear that Australian pearling luggers manned chiefly by Malays and Japanese - not Japanese pearling luggers - are the cause of the trouble.

Senator J V MACDONALD (QUEENSLAND) - What is the difference?

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