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Friday, 26 September 1902

Mr WATSON (Bland) - I think that the suggestion of the honorable member for Coolgardie is a good one, because it must be apparent to any one who has looked into the report of Judge Dash wood, that it is not worth the paper on which it is written. I trust that theGovernment will hesitate before departing from the policy already declared by the Commonwealth, in consequence of anything that appears in a report of that character. I do not wish at this stage to go into the matter in detail, but I will point to one thing in that report which condemns it out of hand. Judge Dashwood says in one paragraph that he has not been able to get any idea of the profits of the pearl-shelling industry - that if he had the account sales in respect of the shell that was sold he might be able to arrive at the profits, but that from the people whom he examined - those interested in the industry - he could get no particulars as to the profits they made. Yet a few paragraphs lower down he states that it is impossible to carry on the industry profitably and employ white crews. How was he able to form an idea as to whether the industry could be carried on by white men unless he knew what the profits were? Previously he had said that he had no idea as to the profits, and could get no particulars in regard to them. Yet he presumes to express an opinion as to the possibility of employing white labour profitably. The whole report is vitiated, it seems to me, by an admission of that sort. I trust, therefore, that the Government will take some other steps before they abrogate the provisions of the Immigration Restriction Act as applied either to Broome or Thursday Island.

Mr DEAKIN - There is no intention on the part of the Government to abrogate the provisions of the Immigration Restriction Act in any way. All that it is intended to do, as I have explained to honorable members before, is to endeavour to preserve the existing situation until the Government can lay before the House some proposals in regard to it. In the meantime we allow ships to replace those of their crews that are going away and new luggers to be manned, but we do not permit the settlement of any class of coloured labour in Australia.

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