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Thursday, 4 August 1921

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) . - I move -

That the -House of Representatives be requested to insert after sub-item (a) the words -

Desiccated banana, banana Hour, and peel, candied, drained, or dried, - when the produce of Papua or the Mandated Territories - Free.

I think that this is quite necessary, because huge islands in the Pacific have been intrusted to us for government. I do not know whether the articles referred to in my request are produced in these islands, but I know that they do produce bananas, and having been intrusted with the government of these Territories, it is our duty to govern them intelligently. - If we have a Tariff operating against them, it will be an argument why we should not retain the government of those Territories. It has not yet been officially settled, and may not be for years, that we shall continue to govern and practically keep . these islands. The decision may hang in the balance with the League of Nations for years to come. I am particularly anxious not to give the people of other nations an opportunity of saying that we have governed the Mandated Territories in such a way as to treat them as though they were foreign countries. There can be no danger to Australia in admitting the products of these territories which for some time will cost us so much to govern. Of course, there will be the objection of the man who objects to using the products of black labour. I have no objection to using the products of black labour countries. Silks producedby Eastern nations adorn the people who wear them just as well as if they were produced by white labour. I venture to hold the opinion that the White Australia policy does not prohibit trading with coloured people. The object of the policy is to maintain the population of this country white by keeping outside the borders of the Commonwealth the people of coloured races, not because we consider them inferior, but because experience teaches that they cannot be assimilated with our population, and cannot become a people similar to the British people. The League of Nations has laid it down that those who are given mandates over these islands must treat' their people as they desire. For instance, in the matter of religion, the missionaries of every nation are to be permitted to enter the islands to put their religious views before the people without interference. The management of these Mandated Territories might come up for consideration at a Congress representative of the nations of the world, in which, by the way, it is quite possible that representatives of coloured races might predominate. At that Congress it might be said that Australia stretched out her hands to secure control over these islands to hold them against the rest of the , world, had then prevented other people trading with them, and at the same time imposed a Tariff upon their products entering Australia. This Tariff, so far as these islands are concerned, will operate against . Japan and other countries and, at the same time, will levy duties on the products of our own Mandated Territories. The sooner we settle down to treat these islands as though they were part and parcel of the great Australian Commonwealth, the better it will be for Australia.

Senator Crawford - Can we do that "Under the terms of the mandate?

Senator GARDINER - We can go so far in that direction as our legislation will permit. We can put "ourselves in a position to say, " We regard these Territories as part and parcel of Australia." We should begin with that . policy now. If we take the stand that we regard these Territories as foreign countries, inhabited by foreign people, with whom we are unwilling to trade, that may prove an excellent argument against our continuing to hold, a mandate over them.

Senator Crawford - We have not taken that stand with regard-to any country.

Senator GARDINER - We have taken that stand with regard to Great Britain, so far as the importation of motors is concerned.

Senator Russell - Our proposal is to help the Territories; they can obtain revenue by taxing imports from Australia.

Senator GARDINER - That is rather too rich. I can stand a good deal from the good-natured senator who is in charge of the Bill, but it is too . much to have him suggest that by taxing the . products of the Territories we shall be helping their development.

Senator Russell - These Territories can operate under this Tariff, and they can tax us in addition.

Senator GARDINER - It is true 'that they may have some means pf imposing taxation upon imports from Australia; but my point is that these huge, rich Territories have been committed to the care of the Australian Commonwealth. We realize that we cannot claim them as part of Australia, as we can claim Australia and Papua, but we should put ourselves in a position to be able to do so by trading with them as though they were part of the Commonwealth. If we adopt that course, it will be very difficult in a few years' time for any outside country to set up a dividing line between us. I desire by trade to link up these islands with Australia, so that they may ultimately become part and parcel of the Commonwealth.

Senator Reid - The Tariff does not put them beyond our control.

Senator GARDINER - No ; but under the Tariff we say that any one in Australia who wants to buy any of the articles referred to in the request I have moved, which may be produced in these islands, must first pay 3d. per lb. duty upon them. Under this Tariff we treat the Mandated Territories in exactly the same way as we treat China, Japan, Greece, Italy, France, or any other country producing these goods. If we put the people living in the Islands which have been given to us to govern in the same position as the foreigner, we shall do an unwise thing. While these Mandates are still in a state of flux, letus treat these territories as if they were part of Australia, and it will then be much more difficult for the League of Nations to remove them from our control than it will be if we are treating them in the same way as we treat foreign countries.

Senator Duncan - We cannot treat them wholly as part of Australia, because we cannot place their people upon the same footing as our own.

Senator GARDINER - Certainly not. We cannot admit their citizens to residence in Australia, but we should be prepared to trade with them on terms of equality. Australia has made great sacrifices, and will yet make more to hold the Islands, and yet we are deliberately, by the Tariff, refusing to treat them as part of the Commonwealth.

Senator Crawford - If the honorable senator's proposal is carried out, the Commonwealth will not retain all of the States which it comprises at present.

Senator GARDINER - The Constitution, which prevents differential treatment of citizens in any part of the Commonwealth, would make it most difficult for anybody to logically attempt to interfere with any of the States that at present constitute the Commonwealth.

Senator Crawford - But the honorable senator desires to interfere on illogical grounds.

Senator GARDINER - If the representatives of other countries in the League of Nations, who . are not Australian in sympathy and who think that we already hold more territory than we can use, find that we treat these Mandated Territories as if they do not belong to us, they will be quick to point out that this Federal Parliament is putting the Islands upon the same basis as that upon which it places foreign nations. I ask the Minister in charge of the Bill to accept the proposed request. It will not interfere with bur own industries, which he is so anxious to build up at the expense of the people. When we take millions of pounds out of the pockets of the people for the purpose of building up local industries, all we get from the persons whom we have thus helped is abuse and denunciation of the Australian working man. Therefore, I see no reason for increased Protection, but I see every reason why products from the Mandated Territories should be admitted free.

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