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Thursday, 12 September 1901
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Mr RONALD (SOUTHERN MELBOURNE, VICTORIA) - The honorable member is quite right. I wish tosay, in conclusion, that this debate is one which brings us for the first time into the real realm of our functions. We have been dealing hitherto with matters which are mostly national, but here the Federal Parliament has to deal with the great purpose for which we were called into existence, namely, with those matters which are relative and co-relative to international affairs. It is a large question, and a very interesting one. It is a question which goes into the very rudiments of sociality, which touches the relationship of black and white races, and embraces the problem of whether the former are or are not desirable immigrants. We have resolved that we cannot blend with coloured aliens without deterioration to our own people.

Mr Wilkinson - The British are not the only white race.

Mr RONALD - I am perfectly aware of that. I have just said that I want to guard against that national Pharisaism which assumes that we are. But we desire, at the same time, to preserve a British Australia. Certainly our aim ought to be in that direction. Let it be known to the world that we are seeking to enact this legislation in the interests of the. integrity of the Empire, and I venture to say that there will be no opposition, either in this country or the old country, to our ideals and our aims. The Government deserve well of this House for having so speedily brought forward a measure to deal with what is becoming a very urgent matter indeed. Only two hours ago I saw a lorry-load of 30 Afghans coming up from Port Melbourne, in spite of the fact that we were assured by the Prime Minister that these men would not be permitted to land. Presumably they are all British subjects.

Mr Barton - With the consent of honorable members, may I be permitted to say a few words? I explained to the House on more than one occasion that no act of State can be exercised to the exclusion of British subjects. That is a reserve executive power winch exists only in regard to the subjects of foreign countries. I directed that rigid inquiry should be made whether these persons were British subjects or not. If they were not British subjects they were to be excluded. My instructions were acted upon, and in all cases it was found that they were British subjects, who cannot be excluded until a Bill of this character is passed.

Mr RONALD - What I wish to say is that they are a most undesirable lot of people to have coming into the country. The sooner we pass such a measure as this, so that there may be some restriction upon the wholesale flooding of Australia with this obnoxious element the better. That is why I venture to think that an amendment must be made in the clause which proposes to restrict their admission under the linguistic test. As that is the only controversial matter in the whole Bill, I simply wished to quote Mr. Chamberlain's speeches in order to show that he is the last man in the world who will be likely to interfere with our ideals in this direction, because, over and over again, in that volume which he has edited and given to the world, he has expressed his opinion that the tie which binds us to the old country must be one of affection, of blood relationship, of common law, and of common religion -

Where love unites, then space divides in vain, And hands may clasp across the raging main.

Those are his sentiments, and I am perfectly sure that the Government have raised a bogy in asserting that this indirect way was the only way in which we could accomplish our end. I sincerely hope that the heroic method will be adopted on this occasion, and that we shall let it be understood in a graceful manner that we intend to have a white Australia, and to exclude all coloured aliens from our shores, irrespective of whether or not they happen to be British subjects. I am perfectly sure that this can be done, and that is all that I desire.

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