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Wednesday, 6 December 1905
Page: 6362

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable member for Hindmarsh did the right honorable member for East Sydney an injustice when he said that he is altogether opposed to the Immigration Restriction Act.

Mr Hutchison - To the coloured labour section of that Act.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable member must confuse the objections of the right honorable member for East Sydney to the coloured labour provision in the Postal Act with his position in regard to the Immigration Restriction Act.

Mr Hutchison - The position is the same.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - No; it is very different. The right honorable member has shown by the legislation for which he is responsible that he approves of restricting the immigration of coloured per sons into Australia, and both his acts and his statements show him to be still of that opinion. His remarks about the need for amending the Immigration Restriction Act refer to some such amendment as the Bill just introduced - without the further amendment now proposed - because he thinks it desirable to remove, without weakening, the exclusion provisions which the Japanese and the people of other countries regard as casting a slur upon them.

Mr Hutchison - I did not say that the right honorable member would take the action I spoke of ; but he could not be blamed if he did take it.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable member might say the same thing of any Minister.

Mr Hutchison - Hear, hear !

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I listened to the explanation of the Prime Minister in regard to the introduction of the Bill, and I take it that the Japanese object, not to the restrictions upon the immigration of their people to Australia-

Mr Deakin - I do not say that they do not object to that; but they do not feel justified in mentioning the objection.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I do not see how they could consistently object to them, inasmuch as they put restrictions on foreigners who wish to enter Japan. Except in certain places on the coast, no foreigner can settle in Japan and engage in certain enterprises there. Europeans are prevented from engaging in manufacture within Japan, either as workmen or as employers of labour. If a person wishes to erect and conduct a mill in Japan, he must be a Japanese subject.

Mr King O'Malley - He must have a Japanese partner.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - In such a case, the business is conducted in the name of the partner.

Mr King O'Malley - One cannot travel into the interior of Japan without a permit.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That must be a recent restriction, because I once travelled into the interior of Japan without a passport. Japanese statesmen cannot logically object to any restriction which we may place upon the admission of Japanese into Australia. Their objection, to our law must be based - as I know it is - on the wording of the Act, which they regard as casting a reflection upon them, and other Eastern peoples. I agree with the Prime

Minister that we should endeavour to remove any expression which may pain the susceptibilities of a friendly power, without receding from the policy which Parliament has sanctioned. The Bill as introduced would do what is desired ; but no sooner had the second reading been carried than the honorable and learned gentleman moved' an amendment, which, if it allows any satisfaction at all to be given to Japanese statesmen, makes that satisfaction as small as possible. No doubt, if the Bill were passed as it was brought in, t'he honorable gentleman would not examine aliens in their own, language, but would exclude them by asking them to pass a test in some language with which they were not acquainted. The Japanese would be satisfied1 if the law were so altered as to place the Japanese on a par with European languages, but the Bill, if amended in the manner proposed, will not accomplish that.

Mr Frazer - Would the honorable member favour the adoption of the Japanese language as a test?

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I see no objection 10 it, if the precautions which are now taken are continued.

Mr King O'malley - Why not ask undesirable Europeans to write a passage in Japanese, and Japanese to write a passage in some European language with which they are not acquainted?

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That could be, and no doubt would be, done. As the law stands at present, any number of coloured' aliens could be admitted to Australia, because many coloured people speak French, Spanish,,- Portuguese, or one of the other European languages which mav be used as a test. Any number of coloured people can speak English, and the English language mav be used as a test.

Mr Frazer - Could they write English?

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Very many can. Some coloured peoples are much better linguists than are most Britishers. Some of the natives of the Seychelles Islands speak and write both French and English in addition to their own tongue, the trade of the place being conducted in French, whilst English is taught in the public schools. In many other parts of the world the natives are forced by the necessi ties of the situation to learn to speak and to write one or more European tongues with as much ease as many Britishers can speak and write the English language. The exclusion of undesirable immigrants rests solely with the -Administration. A large number of persons who would be strongly objected to might be admitted under the Act if it were not administered for the express purpose of shutting them out. Consequently the extension of power asked -for by the Prime Minister in the first instance involved no extension of responsibility. It was proposed merely for adding to the languages that might be used for the same purpose that European languages are now employed. I should have gladly consented to that extension. I agree with the honorable m'ember for Parramatta that once we have adopted a particular principle, questions involving delicate national considerations should be dealt with by the Administration. It is not desirable that an important question such as the adoption of an additional language for test purposes should be discussed by this Parliament. Very often the wounds that are inflicted by such debates are more difficult to heal than those which are caused by the operation of the measure itself. Therefore I prefer the Bill in its original shape, and I intend to vote against the amendment. Perhaps I may be permitted to say a few words which I think are necessary to define the position taken by myself and other honorable members. Our provisions for exclusion are not directed against certain races, because they are not considered good enough to associate with white people, or because we think that they would contaminate us. But experience has shown that the admission into a country inhabited by a white race of large numbers of persons so alien that they can never successfully unite with a white people, inflicts great injury upon that country. The Japanese themselves have excluded Europeans, because they have recognised a similar danger in their own case. Therefore no reflection can be cast upon us because we exclude from permanent settlement - and it is to permanent settlement only, to which I am now referring - or prevent from becoming an integral part of our population, races so alien that they cannot be successfully blended with a white race. The inevitable result of the introduction of large numbers of Orientals into Australia would be to raise up two separate communities, which in the end would come into conflict. That is the attitude adopted by most honorable members. It should be made perfectly clear that we do not exclude any particular race, because we consider our own superior - in some cases we may be superior, in others we are not - but merely because we desire to guard the community against the evils which have arisen in the United States and elsewhere through the growth within the same territory of two distinctly alien races. I agree with the Prime Minister that, whilst declaring this to be our policy - as it is the policy of Japan - we should take care not to wound the susceptibilities of any nation, and, above all, of a nation which is standing side by side with Great Britain for the benefit of the whole world. I regret that the Prime Minister, who took the right step in the first instance, should now propose to adopt an amendment which will rob his first proposal of much of its merit.

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