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Wednesday, 6 December 1905
Page: 6350

Mr STORRER (Bass) - I wish, to say a few words in reference to this question, because it is one of the greatest interest. I do not know that there is much fault to be found with the Act. It has certainly been the subject of gross misrepresentation, and if by means of slight amendments we can provide for its more satisfactory administration, we should direct our energies to that end. At the same time we should take care to guard against the introduction of undesirable immigrants. Some honorable members have objected to this measure being brought for- ' ward for consideration so late in the session. In this respect they have completely changed their tone within twentyfour hours, because yesterday they were demanding that attention should be given to another measure which they desired to see passed before we went into recess. I have been represented by some sections of the press as a member of the Labour Party, but I occupy the same independent position that I did when. I was returned to this House without the assistance of any party. I have been surprised to hear honorable members of the Labour Party who have previously expressed themselves in favour of the amendment of the Act declare that they are opposed to the Bill. I am glad to notice, however, that those who. know most about the difficulties of administration are supporting the Government proposal. I was astonished at the attitude taken up by some honorable members with regard to the suggestions made by the Imperial authorities with regard to this class of legislation. I take it that we are not in a position to disregard the advice proffered to us from that quarter. Some honorable members tell us that we need not spend much money on defence, because we can rely upon the British Navy to protect us. If we are willing to -.accept the protection of the Imperial Navy, we should not hesitate to heed the suggestions made by the Imperial authorities. I take it that the Commonwealth could not stand for many weeks without the assistance of Great Britain, and, therefore, I am always ready to seriously consider any suggestions or recommendations made by the Home authorities. I think that honorable members who publicly point out the weak points of our defences are acting most unpatriotically. If our defences are defective, honorable members should not proclaim the fact to the world. In the same way, it is undesirable that we should speak in disparagement, as did the honorable and learned member for Corio, of the Japanese, or any other nation with which it may. be necessary for us to enter into negotiations. It is better for us to keep or* good terms with all the nations. The honorable member for Franklin accused the Government of dishonesty, and of putting forward a sham. I should be very .sorry to call any man an honorable member, and immediately afterwards accuse him of act-: ing dishonestly, or of foisting a sham upon the people. I do not think that such conduct was creditable to the honorable member or to his constituents. When the Reid Government were in power,. I always gave them - credit for honesty, although I could not agree with their policy. If we wish to raise this House in the esteem of Australia, we can only do so by speaking well of one- another. I shall vote for the second reading of the Bill.

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