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Friday, 4 October 1912

Senator WALKER (New South Wales) . - In speaking on the second reading of the Bill, I said I was prepared to move an amendment on clause 6. I find it will be necessary to submit two amendments. I move -

That the words " Asiatics, or arc line

Perhaps it will save time if I mention now the second amendment. I propose to move -

That after the word " Australia " the words " and excepting those of European descent or those who are naturalized subjects of the British Empire, the natives of " be inserted.

Senator McGregor - We could take a test vote on the first amendment.

Senator WALKER - I shall not occupy much time in dealing with the matter, as the Government, I understand, wish to get the Bill out of Committee to-day. To begin with, I think there ought to be a definition of the word " Asiatics." We all profess, more or less, to belong to the Christian faith, and we cannot forget that our Lord was an Asiatic. Nowadays, the word "Asiatic" has a very wide signification, and I consider it very unwise to use the word in this clause. I may mention that. in many of the Pacific islands there have been Protestant missionaries for the last fifty or sixty years, and many of them have children. I know one missionary whose son is. a native of the New Hebrides, and would call himself a New Hebridian. I know another missionary who was in Samoa, and who has daughters as well as sons. I propose that we should not exempt from the benefits. of this Bill those who are of European descent. The word "Asiatic " is altogether too wide. For argument's sake, many Europeans have had children born to them in India, and those children are Asiatics, although their parents were born in Europe. The Vice-President of the Executive Council knows my views on this matter very well. If the Government are not prepared to accept even a verbal amendment, it will be useless to debate the question at any length. lt will make clear what I propose to do if I say that, as I wish to amend it, the clause would read -

Women who are aboriginal natives of Australia, and 'excepting those of European descent or those who are naturalized subjects of the British Empire, the natives of Papua or the islands of the Pacific, shall not be paid a maternity allowance.

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