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Friday, 26 September 1902

Some native chiefs have been arrested for inciting natives to quit theRand. An unsuccessful attempt was made at a rescue.

Then appears a telegram showing the real opinion of the Johannesburg people on the subject. It is dated 5th July, and says -

The importation of Asiatics is politically most undesirable, and South African opinion will only tolerate it as a last resource when all other expedients have failed.

Yet, in spite of this, I find in the Age of 21st August of this year a cablegram from England, in which it is stated -

Reuter's Johannesburg correspondent estimates that there are only 620, 000 kaffir " boys " available for working purposes in South Africa. This number is quite insufficient to meet the labour demands, and the importation of Chinese coolies engaged for a term ofyears, and under contract to return totheir native landon its expiration, is being seriously considered.

If there is one thing more than another which results from a war, especially when that war is successful, it is responsibility for the after administration of the conquered territory. We ourselves; under circumstances which made our action necessary and just, have dipped our hands in blood in South Africa. We, as a nation, have ceased from following our ordinary peaceful course of noninterference with the affairs of the rest of the world, and have taken to arms to assist in suppressing two republics. Whether they were free and liberty-loving republics does not matter. Very largely through the exertions of Australian arms, as appears from reports of British generals since the war, the Imperial Government was able to succeed in the war, and the local representative institutions,which expressed to some extent the views of the South African peoples, have been extinguished. We cannot now escape from the responsibility of our own action. It is one of the consequences of taking part in a quarrel that in the peace that follows the state of affairs brought about should not be altogether contrary to the wishes of the conqueror; and I venture to say that it is not the desire of this House that our money and blood should have been spent upon those South African fields, merely to enable the mine-owners of the Rand to be more prosperous and opulent through the importation of Chinese coolies, to compete with the white labour which is. now. resident there. I venture to remind the committee that the promise was made time af ter time by Mr. Chamberlain that in the terms of settlement the Australian. States and other parts of the Empire which had participated in the war should be consulted. I can point to speech after speech madeon platforms in England, where Mr. Chamberlain said that that promise would be carried out. Of course it has not been carried out. But our Government might properly ask that its voice should be heard in this matter, and, as far as. Asiatics are concerned, we should support the non - representative voice, the Crown-colony voice, the crushedbyColonialoffice voice of the Transvaal miners, and see that, as far as our representations can receive attentionin the counsels of the Empire, imported Chinese and other Asiatics shall not be allowed to compete with the white labour in South Africa. I think that this committee will be in sympathy with any action that the Ministry chooses to take in that direction. I sincerely trust that some action will be taken, and. that, as a consequence of it, we shall let it be known that, so far as Australia is concerned, we desire white labour to be employed in these conquered territories, and that that is one of the requests we make in virtue of the part we took in the war.

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