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Thursday, 17 March 1904


Mr DEAKIN (Ballarat) (Minister foi External Affairs) . - This question not only turns our attention to foreign fields, but opens up a series of issues in regard to Imperial and inter-Imperial relations, the echoes of which will travel far before they finally die away. The honorable member for Bland, who moved the motion in a speech replete with information on many phases of the subject, and in regard to the circumstances of the country with which it deals, has stated that, although his motion is to be taken as confirming the action of the Government, he regrets that our action was not more positive in form. The consideration of the constitutional issues which that statement raises is one to which I propose to invite the attention of the House for a few minutes. In the first place we shall do well to remember that this is not the first occasion upon which we have been confronted by the condition of affairs in the Transvaal arising out of the employment of coloured labour. In the first session of last Parliament the honorable and learned member for Corio and the honorable member for Kennedy were associated with proposed discussions of the' subject, and the matter on one occasion came before the House, when, during the absence of Sir Edmund Barton, I was acting in his stead. The honorable and learned member for "Corio, during a discussion in Supply, asked the Government to intervene, and I shall quote from the Hansard report a sentence or two which summarizes the attitude then adopted by my honorable colleagues and myself. I said, and honorable members will find my remarks recorded on pages 16172 and 16173 0;f volume XII. of our Parliamentary Debates -

We may hope that the Imperial Government, with their knowledge of the consequences of such a step, will not give their consent.

The step referred to was the project of the introduction of Chinese labour into the Transvaal.

If our opinion were invited, there can be no doubt as to what our verdict would be. But I repeat that no proper opportunity has yet presented itself to us of speaking on this question. If such an opportunity is presented, I have no doubt it will be taken advantage of. But to act as the honorable and learned member for -.Corio proposes, in regard to what, so far as I know, is at present merely a project, which may never be indorsed even in the country in which it is made, which may not be approved by the Imperial Government, and which may, therefore, merely remain a project, would not be wise. If - we were to express an opinion in these circumstances, where should we draw the line in the representations we ought to make to other Crown Colonies upon projects launched by them, which in our opinion may be as hazardous as that to which the honorable and learned member has referred?


Mr Crouch - Was not the honorable member for Bland then against the proposal ?


Mr DEAKIN - He supported the objections of the honorable and learned member to the introduction of the Chinese, but he agreed with the Government that, as at that stage it was merely a project, our interference was not justified, and we should await further developments. Now we have those developments. They are the occasion of the action which has been taken. The proposal for this action, which followed within three weeks of the elections, came, so far as this Government is concerned, from that energetic and active Liberal Imperialist, the Premier of New Zealand. At the commencement of the debate on the Address in Reply I was subjected to a not ill-humoured taunt upon the fact that Australia had once more followed the lead of New Zealand. My reply is that I object to follow no man when I believe that he is taking the right path. The fact that he is before me is no discouragement for me to follow.


Mr Kingston - New Zealand gave a good. lead.


Mr DEAKIN - The Government had scarcely time to recover from -the 'elections, and as my colleagues were scattered throughout the States, I hesitated as to the form in which action should be taken. It appeared to me that whatever step we took was likely to form a very important precedent, with consequences ranging far beyond the borders of the Commonwealth. In our constitutional text-books the relations between the mother country and her Colonies and dependencies are fairly well established. We- have what may be termed a complete outline of the constitutional relations between the selfgoverning Colonies and the mother country; but the relations which subsist within the Empire between one selfgoverning community and another, or between one. community completely endowed with self-government and another only partly so endowed, is a question yet to be solved. Practically no guidance is to be found in the text-books. The present condition in which the expressed constitutional law upon this question stands is put in a sentence by Todd,, who, at page 254 of the second edition of his Parliamentary Government in the British Colonies, says -

Separate colonial governments have no right to communicate officially with one another, except through Her Majesty's Secretary of State for the Colonies, or by direct permission first obtained from the Imperial Government.

That is the dictum of 1894. In the only more recent book to which I propose to refer - British Rule and Jurisdiction beyond the Seas, by the late Sir Henry Jenkyns, with a preface by Sir Courtenay Ilbert, published in 1902 - the same doctrine is repeated without development -

In the relations of one British possession to another, the Crown is the connexion between them. All formal communications pass through the Home Government, and that Government is the arbiter in all serious disputes.


Mr McCay - A Conference of Premiers is a contradiction of that dictum.


Mr Kingston - The Commonwealth communicates directly with the States, and they communicate directly with one another.


Mr DEAKIN - Exactly, but that constitutional relationship has not been crystallized into authority in the text-books. The actual facts have progressed beyond the doctrine by many leagues. In Australia we have, without noticing it, been developing the relations between allied communities under the Crown to perhaps a greater extent than they have been developed in any other part of the British Empire, by the natural and necessary communication which has- proceeded, and must go on, between communities separated only by imaginary lines, though under independent Governments. Compelled to unite to secure common action, we have for many years been accustomed to Conferences of Premiers.


Mr Kingston - Direct communications pass every day.


Mr DEAKIN - Communications on formal matters are exchanged by every post. The text writers have lagged far behind the actual facts, and have not yet formulated the practice as it exists. We had established prior to Federation, and have continued since, a practice of exchanging communications directly, not only between State and State, but with New

Zealand, and even Canada and South Africa. So that a natural and necessary system, embracing a network of communications passing from one part of the Empire to another, from one self-governing community to another, has gradually grown up, and has authorized a reciprocal interest on the part of these communities in the transactions of each other. A' step further than that has been taken, which does not appear to have yet passed into recognition. On three occasions the Imperial Government have invited the representatives of selfgoverning and Crown Colonies to meet in London, and on one occasion the Government of Canada invited representatives of the Colonies to meet in Canada. At these conferences, particularly those held at the heart pf the Empire, matters of the greatest moment have been debated, and resolutions arrived at; but, at each and all of those summoned in London, under the auspices of the Secretary of State for the Colonies, or held among ourselves, one invariable- rule has hitherto obtained, and necessarily obtained, namely, that the gatherings should be regarded as simply consultative. Their resolutions, though passed by specially authorized delegates, were recommendations. No self-governing community was sought to be bound by them, unless or until its Parliament saw fit te approve. The conclusions arrived at have occasionally found their way into our statute-books - in such . a matter, for instance, as Imperial naval defence, and in a very few instances in the Colonies themselves, before we were united - hut they have as a rule, resulted in no more than expressions of opinion tending to common action. Consequently when the new situation in South Africa presented itself, it seemed necessary that the universally accepted principle of mutual respect for the self-governing powers of each dependency should be strictly adhered to; and that whatever course was adopted by us should be marked from the very outset by consideration for the self-governing rights of the other parts of the Empire, and a full recognition of their freedom from obedience to any commands from persons beyond their limits.


Mr Crouch - Does the Prime Minister apply that to the United Kingdom?


Mr DEAKIN - I have been applying it as well as I can. The situation that presented itself in South Africa appeared to justify what might, under other conditions, have constituted an un- justifiable interference on our part. The introduction of Chinese labour into the Transvaal means, not only the multiplication of the local problems of that unhappy country, but the presence in South' Africa of a new alien and dangerous influence. We regard it as a question affecting the future of South Africa, and the future of the Empire in those seas, and as being fraught with the utmost importance to a series of States with which we bid fair to be more and more closely related, not only by the ties of trade and commerce, but owing to the fact that they command one of the great highway.* of the world - perhaps the only one that would be open to us in time of war. These, and many other reasons, cause us to stand in a peculiar relationship to South Africa. But, above all, the question was Imperial, and involving Imperial results. We have seen the consequences of the attempted invasion of this country in the early days of the diggings, when the Colonies of Australia, one and all, were compelled to resort to restrictive legislation to protect their gold-mines from being captured by Asiatics. We have seen the difficulty of confining such an influx, or dealing with it. We have become familiar with the astuteness and capacity of the Chinaman, who, though excelled, no doubt, by the brilliant qualities of the Japanese, is in patient, steady persistence, and in his own particular but narrow intellectual sphere, not to be surpassed in the world. We perceived that if these people were introduced into South Africa, they would not only displace black labour, but would be quite capable of displacing white, upon far wider and more comprehensive lines. The negro had special claims to consideration as being indigenous to the soil upon which the white man had made his home, and, further, from the point of view of the white man, he was, as a competitor, far less objectionable than the. Chinaman. 'His nature appears to be relatively childlike and simple, so that, even though every desire has been shown to extend the employment of black men in the mines, they are controllable, and have never yet been intrusted with any operations demanding even the smallest modicum of skill, or the exercise of the individual qualities of independent thought or discretion. We know that the Chinaman labours under no such disabilities, that he has a ready imitative faculty which fits him for many skilled occupations, and that his low standard of living coupled with this capacity to under- take work of a varied character, must always render him a dangerous competitor with the white man. Realizing that Aus tralia has not yet surmounted her troubles with neighbouring coloured peoples, and that she still needs to maintain a vigilant watch in order to protect herself against threatened invasions, -we thought that we had some claim to express our views regarding the policy proposed to be carried out in South Africa, even though the promised safeguards implied the virtual imprisonment of Chinamen within compounds, as has been the custom with negroes upon the diamond fields, and, for aught I know, also upon the gold-fields. Under these circumstances we felt that a false sense of security was sought to be established in the Transvaal, where the introduction of tens of thousands, or perhaps a hundred thousand Chinamen, who could not be kept in compounds, must imply a revolution, in the whole scale of their social and industrial life, followed by, and carrying with it, insidious consequences, undermining the foundations of society, and poisoning the principles of selfgovernment and progress. The step would be the most fatal that any people could take. It was not the time to stand upon nice distinctions, so there was no hesitation on the part of the Government in agreeing to take action ; but it was not the action proposed. I speak with all respect of the opinions of Mr. Seddon, the Premier, of New Zealand, but submit that when he asked the Commonwealth to join him in urging strongly the Imperial Government to use its prerogative, .he asked us to unite in taking a step which was foredoomed to failure, and therefore undesirable, and which also implied a right on our part to dictate to a community, not by any means completely self-governing, but within reach of self-government, and having the power, by means of a referendum, to ascertain, in the most decisive fashion, the will of its own white people. A request that the proposed law should be submitted to a referendum would have been perfectly legitimate, but to ask that the Imperial veto should be exercised on the legislation of even a Crown Colony, and that, as. the Secretary of State for the Colonies has phrased it, " the wishes of one part of the Empire on any matter which it regarded as of paramount importance to its well-being, should, in deference to the representations of another part of the Empire, not directly interested, be set aside," would involve the establishment of a precedent in our inter-Imperial relations which might will be described as reactionary. If we, in this part of the world, were to appeal to the Imperial veto, we should be reviving a power that has dwindled immensely during the centuries, and which, although it has been exercised in recent years in regard to minor questions, has never been applied even in colonial matters to any question of first importance, or to destroy a measure upon which the will of the people was absolutely clear. With the recollection that in our own States, without going any further, we have often found, and are likely to find, a party ready to appeal for the exercise of the Imperial veto against a majority, "whenever the desire of its own minority is crossed - a device which was tried in connexion with the Pacific Island Labourers Act in Queensland, and attempted in this State whenever Victorian politics reached the white heat at which some new reform was being moulded - I did not care to revive that practice save under the pressure of the most absolute necessity. In the first place, I shrank from appealing for the Imperial veto at all, and in the next was disinclined to ask for its application to a distant community, with whose circumstances one cannot pretend to be' so well acquainted as its own people. They ought to be approached upon a footing of equality by reason and argument, and by the suggestion of our advice, but not by a demand that the strong hand of those who are in authority over them should be exercised without their consent or will. That was why - not through any lack of sympathy with the proposals of the Premier of New Zealand, but in order to attain what seemed to us a most excellent end, and to express an almost universal feeling - we refused to adopt a course which might have rendered it easy hereafter for appeals to be made to the central power against legislation which had been deliberately adopted by Colonies enjoying more or less representative government. That is a resort to be employed only in the last extremity. We still had open to us an appeal to the people of the country which will be chiefly affected by the introduction of these Chinese, and, through them, an appeal to the Parliament of the mother country and to the British Government. We reached them just as well through this proper channel of communication, although our views were reflected from the Transvaal itself.


Mr Fisher - It is quite as important to appeal to the British elector.


Mr DEAKIN - It seemed to me, therefore, that, without establishing an extremely dangerous precedent, we could attain all the results that could be expected by following the course we took, which exposed us to no risk in the future of any claim by some other part of the Empire for the exercise of the Imperial veto against any of our legislation. I think that the result abundantly justified the course we took. The Secretary of State for the Colonies, replying to the Premier of New Zealand, who made direct representations to him, which we refrained from making, very politely and properly commenced by saying that he fully recognised the title of all the self-governing Colonies to express their opinions upon so important a question, especially those which, like New Zealand, had rendered memorable service in the South African war. He then went on to say that -

Each of the States of the Empire, by reason of its direct interest and special knowledge of the conditions affecting it, is best able to deal with its own problems. ... It must not be forgotten that there is much that is abnormal in the economic conditions of the Transvaal, which might call for abnormal measures, and His Majesty's Government, consistently with the policy which it has laid down, could not refuse to accede to the wishes of one part of the Empire on any matter which it regarded as of paramount importance to its well-being, in deference to representations from another part of the Empire, not directly interested. His Majesty's Government feels assured that the Transvaal Government will give such weight to the opinion of any selfgoverning Colony, as the exceptional circumstances of its country permits.

That is to say, while waving aside the request for the exercise of the Imperial veto, and pointing out that, under such circumstances, it could not be properly applied, he indicates that the Transvaal Government is the authority which could and' would give weight to our representations. We had appealed to the Transvaal authorities, just as was here advised. Having regard to the path which we had to tread, the novelty of the step to be taken, and its possible consequences, I submit that the policy we adopted was as effective as any that could be taken. It produced practically the same effect as an appeal to the Imperial prerogative, and left us unembarrassed for the future by any reflection that a perilous precedent had been established. Self-governing peoples, to whom, to quote a fragment of the speech cited by the honorable member for the Barrier last evening, "liberty and self-government are as the very breath of their nostrils," ought not to apply for the exercise of an Imperial veto upon legislation even when enacted by a State armed with incomplete selfgoverning powers. The referendum remains. I trust that I have not detained the House too long in emphasizing the significance of our representations. I need not remind honorable members of the warning which Australia communicated to the Transvaal Government. I should, however, like to read a few sentences from it, in order that honorable members may check by their own knowledge of the sentiments of the people of this country, the expression of our opinion which we placed before South Africa, and through that country before the whole Empire. We said that -

Australia., after years of experience, is convinced that practical prohibition of Chinese immigration is imperatively required in the best interests of the people of British communities, especially of those which enjoy or expect to enjoy the powers of responsible selfgovernment.

We added -

Though most reluctant to travel beyond their own boundaries, in order to introduce themselves into matters having local import, they foresee grave perils, racial, social, political, and sanitary, inevitably induced by alien influx, injurious to yourselves and neighbouring territories, with which your future is linked indissolubly and finally to the Empire of which South Africa is a great and vital part. We are aware of the safeguards which you propose, but our experience with alien races shows that, however the conditions of their introduction and. employment may be made, yet it is practically impossible to prevent the existence of many and serious evils. Moreover, such introduction creates vested interests on the part 6f employers, which render, it extremely difficult to terminate the practice when once it has been sanctioned. We earnestly commend these considerations to you as far outweighing any immediate pecuniary gain. Momentary material advantage will be dearly purchased by the introduction of a foreign element, which is dangerous while unassimilated, and which is not to be assimilated without detriment to our progress, institutions, and patriotic ideals.

I venture to say that these sentences express the deliberate conviction of the Australian people ; and I have been extremely gratified to learn, from such intimations as have reached us from South Africa', the manner in which that- communication was received.

It is perfectly true that some score or two of those calling themselves Australians favoured me with a telegram in which they objected to interference by this Com' monwealth. That telegram was unsigned, but it was followed by a letter, courteous and argumentative. But I also received a cablegram from another Australian, Mr. Outhwaite, whom I did know, and who was well-known to Melbourne before he left for South Africa, where he is, I believe, associated with the Guardian newspaper. This cablegram informed me that the gathering of Australians 'was private, secret, and unrepresentative. Of course, there will always be differences of opinion amongst those faced in a new country with the fierce stress of circumstances now existing in South Africa. I have no wish to pass judgment, even by implication, upon the men who are charged with the delicate task of endeavouring to pilot the Transvaal through the initial stages of its education, up to the stage at which it will receive self-government. For the present High Commissioner, Lord Milner, we must all cherish the highest admiration, as a man whose intellectual gifts have marked him out for his present position, and whose immense courage and endurance carried him through the enormous strain of the late war. No one can read his despatches without feeling that he, and those who advise him, are thoroughly penetrated with the necessity of the step they are taking, and confidently believe that it is the best available. After such an admission it may seem reckless to venture, as we have done, and do, to challenge their judgment.' But we do so solely on the ground of experience, such as Lord Milner has not yet enjoyed. We in Australia have had experience, in a new and sparsely-settled country in the neighbourhood of great coloured populations, of the endeavours necessary to preserve a. heritage for the white race. We have also had experience of the strain to which self-governing institutions are subjected by the introduction of a large class of wage-earning citizens, incompetent in the higher sense to join in the tasks of self-government - dangerous to exclude and still more dangerous to include in the franchise. It is the knowledge of such conditions that enables us, with all deference to their local knowledge, to venture to pass an opinion on the action of the authorities in the Transvaal. We pass that opinion, I must say, with the .greatest sympathy for those in South Africa who take an opposite view. I have been favoured with letters from residents in Johannesburg and neighbourhood telling me that the condition of affairs there during the last few months resembled nothing so much as the sickening experience in Victoria, and some of the other States, when we staggered under the heaviest blows of our financial collapse ten years ago. Their resources seem dried up, all doorways to employment closed; the immediate urgency is for work and for what work would bring - food.' Under these circumstances - faced by the absolute necessity to find work where work is not offered, or of leaving the country when their means are too exhausted to enable them to do so - I have nothing but the sincerest pity for many of the hundreds, and perhaps ' thousands, who acquiesce in the demand for Chinese labour. This demand is made either because the people have been led to believe - and attempts have been made to lead them to believe - that in this direction lies the promised land with work- and wages, or because, even if they know it- is not the best course, they feel that it will give employment and enable them to live for the time, and is, so far, good. I see that Lord Milner, within the last day or two, has pledged his reputation that the employment of Chinese will lead to the further employment of white labour; and there is no doubt that Lord Milner believes what he says. Probably he is correct, if he ignores the price to be afterwards paid by white labour. From the letters which have reached me, I gather that the local circumstances are of the keenest and severest, and that a great deal is to be said in excuse for those who, from one motive or another, have joined in or consented to this agitation for Chinese labour. It is a question between the present population and the future of the country. At the same time we have to recollect some of the circumstances and conditions which impose this intolerable pressure upon a people, reduced, many to want, many to penury, and many to emigration. These conditions are not all natural or unintentional in origin. I do not propose to quote from the utterances of partisans of either side. So far as I have anything to add, I shall quote only from official documents, upon which we can rely to a large extent. I have before me the majority and minority reports furnished by the Native Labour Commission, upon which the action now proposed to be taken is sought to be supported on the one hand and impugned on the other. Both reports are extremely able documents, exhaustive in information, terse in presentation, and telling in argument. They place before us very fairly the South African situation, as it actually appears to-day, in those aspects which concern us in the consideration of the motion; and I do not propose to dive any deeper. There are spots on the sun, and there are slips, or, at all events, one slip, even in this document. For instance, I take it that it will be news to most Australians to find that a report presented in 1898, under the auspices, I believe, of the Chamber of Mines, said -

Proposals were made to your Committee to supply Chinese labour, on the ground that it is efficient and cheap, as shown in the Australian mines, where Chinese are largely employed.


Mr Fisher - That means the Northern Territory.


Mr McCay - In Victoria every mining lease prohibits the employment of Chinese.


Mr DEAKIN - There are no Chinese employed in the mines in Victoria, and, so far as I know, there are none employed in Queensland.


Mr Fisher - Hear, hear.


Mr DEAKIN - Speaking as an Australian to the representatives of all Australia, I am surprised to learn that Chinese labour in the Australian mines is " efficient and cheap."


Mr Isaacs - In what report does that appear ?


Mr DEAKIN - It is quoted in the majority report from the previous report of 1898. But it seems to me that the crucial issue as disclosed by these majority or minority reports may be placed before honorable members in a comparatively simple form. There is on the Rand what is said to be the greatest extent of gold-bearing country known. There is in sight an enormous quantity of low-grade ore waiting to have its gold extracted. The real difference of stand-point discovered by these reports lies between two parties. The, first are those who say that this gold should be extracted from the soil in the shortest possible period of time, by the employment of the greatest number of labourers of any colour, in order that the largest dividends may be paid upon mining investments, and that those who have speculated may reap the richest and quickest harvest. That is one proposal - tenable and reasonable from the stand-point of those who make it. Then there are those who say that the mere extraction of this gold within, say, twenty years, is not the best use to make of this great national treasure. It can be employed for something else besides booming mining stock or paying huge dividends. It can be worked with consideration for the territory surrounding it and its white settlers; so that instead of the area being exploited at one stroke, left at the end of twenty years an exhausted and depleted field, so far as mining is concerned,, the riches possessed there could be so employed that they could be made to assist in the development of the rest of the country. It is admitted by both sides that on the mines the Transvaal depends. The country is too far from the sea-board to permit of its agricultural produce being profitably exported. Its farming interest is said to depend on its mining interest ; and the development of its mining resources means, therefore, the development of its agriculture. Upon those two all the trading, commercial, and professional interests of the country depend. Now, if that be admitted - and it appears to be admitted in both reports - we have a fairly clear issue put before us. The majority report advocates the introduction of the Chinese, and not always quite intentionally, but still very plainly - carries on its very face evidence of bias. In a very few passages which I propose to read, will be found the position of the men whose object it is to realize upon the gold in the Transvaal in the shortest- possible space of time. I will take, first, an extract from the majority report. In that document I find set out a statement of the ambitions which are cherished by the party of exploitation. They point but that there are at present engaged in the Transvaal 181,000 natives; that to accomplish all they desire they would require 403,000 natives; and that consequently the shortage which they seek to supply is equivalent to the labour of 221,000 negroes. I take it, that, on the very face of it, the proposal to introduce either that number or a lesser number of Chinese who would furnish an equivalent labour power, must imply a revolution in the circumstances of the Transvaal. If they import 100,000 Chinese, is there any power in the Transvaal that can restrain them within compounds, that can control them or deport them from the country again? Is there any power that can deal adequately with 100,000 men of a people so intelligent, persevering, and courageous? I find that what is dwelt upon in this majority report," page 7, is the immense importance of an early expansion of mining operations in the Transvaal. The report says -

The immense importance of an early expansion was emphasized by several witnesses. Sir Percy Fitzpatrick said that the general position of the country to-day was not to be justified on the basis of the mining industry's position in August, 1899 ; it was only warranted on the assumption that the reasonable expectations of further development would be realized. There were properties awaiting development for which the skilled labour, machinery, and money could easily be found, and in connexion with which some £50,000,000 would be spent by way of working capital, as labour became available. The commitments of the country ' were heavier and more numerous than in 1899, and the superstructure reared on the industry vastly greater. The base would have to be broadened, or the building would topple.

I take that to mean, put in other language, that the statement of the honorable member for Bland is justified as to the overcapitalization of these South African mines. This passage amounts to a confession that the mines stand in the market, not at what may be termed their practical worth as they stand, but, at a speculative value. There is an attempt to claim, as their present value and for the present shareholders in those mines, something which can only be obtained, if at all, by an enormous increase of output, and by a much hurried utilization of their resources. One of the witnesses, Mr. J. A. Hamilton, who is a manager of one of the great mines in the Transvaal, said that -

The loss to shareholders through the standing idle of the 3,240 stamps, was about £3,000,000 sterling a year in dividends.

Then I find that Mr. F. Hellmann, general manager of the East Rand Proprietary mines, said that -

If a mine were laid out so that its ore might be exhausted, say in twenty years, " if you double that time you increase the value of your claims and the shares of the company approximately 50 per cent."

The report adds -

It is, therefore, imperative to find means to enable the mines to work to their full capacity, so that the European investor can earn a reasonable rate of interest on investment.

What is regarded as a "reasonable rate of interest" is not specified. There we have one side presented - the view of those who desire to introduce 220,000 labourers foi the exploitation of the mines of the Rand. What do thev say in regard to white labour ? The majority report says (page 15) -

No employers have continuously used white men for the rougher classes of manual labour.

I find, throughout their report, that the advocates of the introduction of Chinese always argue on the assumption that what is desired is that the white man shall work side by side with the kaffirs in the mines at the lowest kind of unskilled labour, shifting ore and other mechanical tasks of that description. They continually base their contentions on that assumption, which I shall presently show is unfounded. They say -

There are facts indeed which tend to show that an exactly contrary displacement of white by black labour has been in progress.

And they point to that as their answer to the demand that more white labour shall be employed in these mines. In regard to Mr. Creswell, whose statements have been referred to by the honorable member for Bland, they say -

With the single exception of those handed in by Mr. Creswell, all the figures adduced before the Commission supported the view that so far as the Transvaal mining is concerned, white labour cannot profitably compete with black. Mr. Creswell's figures were disputed by competent witnesses, but it is not necessary to determine their exact value. His experiments were not carried out under test conditions; but even if they had been the results obtained in experiments of this character have little practical bearing upon the proposal to introduce white labourers in numbers for the reason that the profitable employment of white men depends upon the rate of wages paid, and the rate of wages is determined by such items as rents, cost, and conditions of living, variations in which completely alter all the factors of the experiment.

Considering that the Creswell experiment was tried on the Rand, in Rand mines, by men paying Rand rents, and buying food at Rand prices, this is rather a peculiar statement. It seems to show that the Commissioners were biased against white labour. They go on to say finally -

That the demand for native labour for the Transvaal mining industry is in excess of the present supply by about 129,000 labourers, and whilst no complete data of the future requirements of the whole industry are obtainable, it is estimated that the mines of the Witwatersrand alone will require within the next five years an additional supply of 196,000 labourers.

That is for the mines alone ; the total I gave before was for the mines and the farms.


Mr Cameron - How many white labourers are now employed ?


Mr DEAKIN - Comparatively speaking, there are no white labourers employed in shovelling ore, that is to say, in doing what is called black men's work. But there are white labourers doing other work, I think they number some 11,000. I have detained the House longer than I intended, but desire to place before honorable members the other side of the picture. This will be found in the minority report. The majority report is signed by ten members of the Commission, and the minority report is signed by only, two, Mr. Quin and Mr. Whiteside. The Commissioners signing the minority report say -

We are of opinion that a figure representing the net requirements of native labour is not to be arrived at by accepting without scrutiny the statements of interested parties, and especially of persons who have no permanent interest in the country, but desire an immediate expansion, regardless of future consequences or the permanent prosperity of this Colony.

They go on afterwards to reduce the number required to the number, either now or immediately, to be available in the country. They then proceed to say -

The principal evidence laid before your Excellency's Commission, under the head of requirements, was that of the Chamber of Mines, an institution whose function is to watch over the interests of the shareholders in mining companies. It is composed of gentlemen who represent, and, for the most part, act under the instructions of the large financial houses, whose headquarters are in London or other European centres.. These financial houses control the mines, the majority of whose shares are held by persons whose direct interest in the welfare of this colony and its inhabitants is confined tothevalueof their share-holding. It is therefore obvious that, in carrying out their duties as guardians of the financial interests of people living outside this colony, the functions of the chamber is to see that the mines under their control pay the largest dividends possible to their absentee principals, and this without any regard to local feeling and opinion. We are far from suggesting, on these grounds, that the evidence of the chamber should have no weight; on the contrary, it would have been most unfortunate if their views had not come before your Excellency's Commission, seeing tha t these views are the outcome of a' policy concisely stated by Mr. Hennen Jennings, Commissioner of Mines - "White labour must come, it is absolutely inevitable; but I do not want to have it come."

Then, referring to Mr. Creswell's letter and other documents, they say -

In our opinion these documents demonstrate that the policy o.f the Chamber of Mines is directed to the perpetuation of the inferior race-labour system by the importation of Asiatics, and in one of oppositionto the growth of a large British working population.

The next important point the Commissioners making the minority report submit is to be found at page 3 of their report. They point out why at present white labour is so dear, and why, in some respects, it may be considered unsatisfactory. They quote the following evidence given before the Industrial Commission of 1897 by Mr. T. H. Leggett, a consulting engineer : -

Why is it then that these men are willing in one country to accept half the wages they require in another? I think the answer will be found in the simple fact that in America these men go with the idea of settling permanently. They become an integral part of the country. They say to themselves - "This country is good enough for us and our children." Their margin of profit at the above stated wages is almost equivalent to their margin of profit in this country, due chiefly to the difference in the cost of living. - But, above all, they realize the fact that they have gone into a country in which they intend to stay and make their home. Here, on the contrary, the aim of nine miners out of every ten is to accumulate sufficient money to leave the country, which is not the country of their adoption, as in other Republics.

This evidence was taken under the late Republic -

And gentlemen until it is made so, until the labouring man - who is the backbone and sinew of any industry - becomes an integral part of the country ; until he feels that he can settle here and obtain for his family the necessaries and comforts of life, without this feeling of being obliged to save money in order to get away - until this condition of affairs prevails, we cannot hope to reduce this item of cost to a figure comparable to that which obtains in the United States.

That is an aspect of the question which, I confess, I was not in the least degree acquainted with until I read this minority report. Here is a statement as to what is hoped from white labour. It is too long to read the whole, . but I summarize it as well as I can. Dealing with tests hitherto made, the Commissioners quote the following evidence: -

The work expected from each white man was the same as that obtained from the native hammer boy.

And they add -

And throughout the whole of the evidence given on behalf of these companies appears practically the same prevailing idea, namely, that no change of organization or thought should be necessary in order to make it possible to extend the use of white labour, and diminish the number of natives required. The white men were not equipped mechanically at all ; no change was made apparently in an organization adapted to kaffir labour, which disregards the superior intelligence of the European ; and the management appear to have thought that thev had put out all the effort which could be required of them when they had substituted for each kaffir a white man at a higher rate of pay, from whom they only expected the kaffir amount of work.

Then they refer to one very important circumstance in connexion with the present condition of affairs in Johannesburg. They quote the evidence of a witness, Mr. White, of the New Goch Gold Mining Company, and the Lancaster Gold Mining Company, as follows : -

What I mean is that the question as to whether the white labourer would be employed, or whether local coloured labour would be em- ' ployed,, or whether it would be obtained from elsewhere, depends entirely on the wishes of the mine-owners. Primarily, they had their say, and if they say to their engineers - "We wish you to have white labour, we wish you to make a very great effort to have white labour on the mines, and the man who can show us how to use white labour will be well rewarded ;" then, I think, very good efforts would be made to use white labour, and that it might be successful. But, supposing the mineowners say - " We would rather not have white labour ; we are not keen about it in any case," then I do not think the engineers - I should not as an engineer myself - would have 'any adequate incentive to put themselves out to try and draw in this white labour by making white labour a success. An engineer is a paid servant, whose business it is, politics apart, to carry out orders, or what he considers to be the wishes of his employers. I think it very natural - I do not wish to say anything against engineers, because I am an engineer myself, and have a very great feeling for them - but I do think this : that the direction in which an engineer puts forth his efforts depends upon the direction which his employer wants him to put forward his efforts. And if his employer did not hold forth an adequate inducement for him to put forth his efforts in a particular direction, it is very natural that he should not turn his attention that way, or if he does, it is in a half-hearted fashion.

Have you any reason to suppose that political affairs may influence the position as to the use of white labour? Certainly, I think it is very largely a political question. In fact, I think it is a political question of the very highest importance.

I have all but finished. I do not wish to speak for myself, because all that I know has been gained from official documents. Then they quote from the evidence of three engineers who formed a Board of Inquiry into the employment of white labour.

Taking 75 men per mine, over, say 5,000 * stamps, this would mean employment for an additional 3,750 white men, and it is unnecessary for us to point out to your Excellency what an immense benefit such employment would be at the present time, when so much is heard of the number of white men who are in want of work, and who can find no means of earning a livelihood.

They show that if the object of the mine-owners was to encourage the employment of white labour it would be done to their profit and to the permanent advantage of the whole country. They say -

We desire emphatically to state that the mineral wealth of the Transvaal is the property of the people of the Transvaal, both white and coloured, and not of the foreign investor, who is entitled to nothing more than good interest upon the capital he invests. It should, therefore, be worked in the interests of the people of the Transvaal, and in our opinion this is best secured by regulating the development of the country by the combined supply of white and African labour.

Their final recommendations are extremely moderate in tone -

1.   That there is sufficient labour in Central and Southern Africa for present requirements, although efforts will be required to obtain it.

The reason why efforts are required was given very largely by the honorable member for Bland, and it is admitted here. The sudden and drastic lowering of wages and inconsiderate treatment at' certain mines have driven away the natives, and discouraged them from seeking employment in the mines. The native is by nature and habit an agricultural labourer. He requires to be tempted into mine labour, and taught what there is to be taught. It does not come to him as naturally as agricultural labour. Of course wages are the chief temptation to the native, who does not care about work. The other conclusions of the minority are -

2.   That the present so-called shortage in the

Transvaal is largely due to temporary and preventable causes.

3.   That understanding future requirements to mean such as, if satisfied, will benefit the country as a whole, we consider there is also sufficient labour in the territories named above for future requirements.

4.   That in many ways the supply of native labour can be supplemented and superseded by white labour.

In regard to African labour I have only one thing to say, that the majority report advocates the introduction of the Chinese, but it still aims at employing as much negro labour as at present, in fact, if possible, at extending it. In this regard it is faced by certain difficulties, which the majority report discusses. The difficulties and proposals to meet them, I think, cast a good deal more light on what I might term the policy of exploitation. The native has few wants, and they are easily satisfied. He is not, therefore, to be induced to. work for long periods, and gene- rally requires a special temptation to labour at all. The difficulty in Africa everywhere appears to be to get the native to work, and in this regard there is a slightly humorous passage from a report furnished to the German Government, and published by them in regard to their West African possessions -

The difficulty of procuring native labour still makes itself felt in many districts of the German protecorate in Africa and the South Sea, and the question of the best means to adopt in order to induce the natives to work, has not yet been satisfactorily solved. Except in the case of a few tribes, who seem more actively inclined by nature, all the efforts of the authorities, as well as the preaching of the gospel of work by the missionaries, have borne little fruit. The wants of the natives are so few that it is difficult to offer any inducement sufficiently tempting to make him overcome his natural disinclination to work, and the question whether it is justifiable under these circumstances to make him work under compulsion has been much discussed of late in the colonial press.

At the close of their report the majority make their suggestions to improve the labour supply. They reject, to their honour, the proposal to employ force. They think that something is to be done by the imposition of higher taxes, because the native would have to earn something to pay his taxes. They think that the labour tax has a great deal to be said in its favour, and that by altering the native land tenure system they might make things not quite so easy for him as at present. They consider the effect of his tribal system. They inquire whether the native social system should be attacked with the object of modifying or destroying it. Then they proceed to make recommendations, such as the abolition of polygamy, the compulsory use of European clothing, the prevention of squatting, and so on. But all means are more or less Unsatisfactory. It is on those grounds that they appeal to the public of that State to introduce yellow labour as well as black. The contention of the minority report is that the black labour is sufficient ; that it belongs to the country ; that it is labour of the simplest and lowest grade, and that there is plenty of employment for as much as can be supplied. It leaves the best openings for the increase of white labour. The introduction ofyellow labourcauses a very much greater and deeper difficulty, as has been well expressed by the. Bishop of Mashonaland, who points out that-

The agricultural industry is more important to the permanent inhabitants of these territories than the mining industry, and sufficient allowance has not been made for the fact that the native tribes are agricultural labourers first and naturally, and mine labourers secondly, and after training.

His lordship goes on to say -

There has been presented to the Government of the Transvaal two reports of the Native Labour Commission. With regard to the majority report, it must be observed that that report assumes the necessity of getting as much gold as possible out of the earth in the shortest space of time. It is not necessary for the permanent good of a community that the mineral wealth of a country should be emptied out of the earth in a limited number of years. For all reasonable permanent returns for investment, with patience, good management, and sympathy (which need not mean maudlin sentiment) sufficient native labour could be secured from those races indigenous to the country, who have been placed in our keeping, and for whom we are primarily responsible. I am further opposed to the introduction of Asiatics into South Africa, as a citizen, on economic, social, and moral grounds. Economically, it will introduce unfair competition between them and the white man and the natives of the' country. It is easy to make laws restricting aliens to certain localities and certain work, but this is to put the political clock back at least 500 years. And, further, these new laws will have to be administered if necessary by force. With a hundred thousand Chinamen in the country, how is the Transvaal or Rhodesia to police such a horde, in addition to the increasing difficulty of looking after the present 2,000,000 natives. Secondly, the Eastern does not take long before he is easilyable to compete with the white man in all but technical work, even within the mining areas, and I hold that in spite of the most stringent regulations he will find his way out of compounds, or back from China, as a quasi settler, just as the coolie has in Natal. Socially and morally, I am opposed on physiological grounds to the mixture of such distinct types as the Mongol and the Bantu. Lastly, in view of Federation, no individual State has the right, however carefully it may be done for its own local self-interest, to involve the rest of South Africa in such a tremendous responsibility as that of the legalized introduction of Asiatics into this Commonwealth without at least securing beforehand the consent and cooperation of all the future States.

We know what Cape Colony has said. We know that the Bishop of Worcester in England has echoed this protest on behalf of the English public. I fear that I have exhausted the patience of honorable members, but thought it necessary to satisfy not only this House, but those persons who may choose to criticise us from abroad, and particularly from the Transvaal - that at all events it is not without reflection, without some inquiries, and without some knowledge of the authorities who are entitled to speak, that we now pronounce a decided opinion on this Ordinance of a country so far removed from us. It is but another version of the social problem which in One shape or other is perpetually confronting us. This is no party question, and I wish to make no party capital out of it. But the issue rises before us, and will continue to rise more and more in every development of every self-governing nation as to the extent to which all other considerations of nationality and humanity are to be ' sacrificed in the race for cheapness without thought of what that cheapness means. The very taproot of modern thought on this subject touches the distinction between a cheapness which may, on the one hand, be beneficial, because it springs from the development of machinery, and improved production, which make the fruits of the earth, or of men's toil available at lower rates. These are universal benefits. But the cheapness that is bought at the expense of human flesh and blood, or, worse still, the cheapness that is purchased by the sacrifice of character, intelligence, and independence, which involves the creation of a servile caste, white or black, is the costliest 'and deadliest drug in which any nation can indulge. I take it that the fundamental problem in South Africa is the problem that confronts civilization everywhere. It is the problem of problems that will face us next week in connexion with our Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, and which, indeed, confronts ns at every turn in our social legislation. It cannot be neglected. Shall our object be merely that of tearing from the vitals of the earth all the gold that if can yield, in the smallest space of time, for distant investors united by no tie to the country, careless of its future and the waste they leave ' behind, and unmindful of the social system which is the result? Or shall we say that national interests and humane considerations stand higher, that they ought to be placed more and more by the statesmen and by the people, who shall breed or become statesmen, in the forefront of their policy?Shall we not say that if we are anything we are a nation, and founders of nations yet to be within an Empire which is British. It is not British in the colour of all its subjects, but in the number of its white citizens,' who control it, who give it authority, force, and weight; whose character and courage sustain it in the day of battle as well as in its industrial tasks from hour to hour. The- Empire is great because it is British, and the stronger and more numerous our Britons, the stronger the Empire must become. We were told at the outbreak of hostilities in South Africa, that it was a war for the miners of the Transvaal. If the authorities had goneon to say that it was a war for Chinese miners, what a different aspect it would have worn. We were told also that it was a war for the enlargement of the franchise, and to secure increasing selfgoverning powers. But whose franchise? The Chinese franchise? Whose self-governing powers? The self-governing powers of Asiatics? Why were we not told of this outcome at the commencement of the struggle? We should then have said - ''Keep your mines ; your cheapness is too dearly purchased. It is not to be bought with blood." No Empire can be made strong by such means, but only by its men - its white people, and in proportion to their quality. You may multiply the total of your imports and your exports, and magnify your banking account ; you may expand your area by force, or guile; but you will impoverish your nation. . You will plant in it the. seeds of decay. Although you may be momentarily advantaged, and add to the wealth of many who have already too much, if you destroy the British manhood, the basis upon which the nation Tests, it will fall. In the . words of Sir Percy Fitzgerald, the base will not sustain the superstructure; it will topple to destruction.







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