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Friday, 18 March 1904

Mr LONSDALE (New England) - I am in accord with all that has been said in favour of the motion. My own feeling is that the protest is not strong enough ; that instead of being refined' down, the phraseology requires more emphasis. Remember that we are concerned, not with a local but with an Imperial question. If we interfere, we must, as the honorable member for Richmond pointed out, accept the .responsibility of doing so on Imperial lines. As a part of the Empire we have a right, when there are proposals which we think may be injurious to that Empire, to express our opinions to the British Government. I quite realize that it would be impertinent for us to interfere in local affairs in the Transvaal; but, as that is a Crown Colony without responsible government, the matter can fairly be considered by us from the stand-point of Imperial interest. * I am against the introduction of indentured Chinese labour into any part of the British dominions. The fight in South Africa was for Imperial extension and supremacy, the intention being to establish there a British population. Now, however, after a great expenditure of blood and treasure, a course is proposed which will have the effect of establishing a Chinese population to the exclusion of white labour. If the Ordinance be carried into effect, the Transvaal in the end will become not a British Colony but a Chinese Colony. Although in this connexion I am not altogether in favour of the kind of legislation which has been passed by the Commonwealth Parliament, I am opposed to the indenturing of any Asiatic races within our territory. I am not sure, however, that such races are not being brought here under contract to-day, because I had the admission of planters in the north,when I was there some two years ago, that Japanese labour was being utilized. They said they were indenturing Japanese for work in Northern Queensland, and were paying them at a lower rate, or at about the same rate as they paid the kanakas.

Mr Groom -1 - Those men were introduced under the treaty existing at the time with Japan.

Mr LONSDALE - I am referring merely to the fact that they were being so introduced, and whether England or Japan were offended, I should do what I could to prevent the introduction of labour of that kind. This is entirely a question of gain. There can be no doubt that these capitalists desire to- exploit the mines at the very smallest cost and with the very highest advantage to themselves. They have no other idea or thought. It is purely a question of greed with them as to how much they can make, and they care not what becomes of the Empire, or of anything else, so long as they can enrich themselves.' I realize that a British population is needed in the Transvaal, and that we should adopt every course that will tend to establish there men and women of our own race. We should also adopt every course that is fair and right to prevent an inferior race from being forced upon the people of that Colony. Dr. Jameson, the Premier of Cape Colony, has, on behalf of the people of that country, entered a strong protest against the introduction of these inferior races. He was the lieutenant of the late Cecil Rhodes, who has often been placed in the same category as the great capitalists who are now seeking to bring Chinese labour into the Transvaal. But,, having read his life, my own impression is that, if he were living to-day, there would be no stronger opponent of the introduction of Chinese to the Rand than the same Cecil Rhodes. If there was one thing which characterized that man more than another, it was his British spirit and his determination that South Africa should be peopled by men and women of the British race. In all he did he had that one idea before him. When he saw that the conditions under which people lived in the more thicklypopulated parts of Great Britain, rendered impossible the development of the stalwart Britisher who might be reared in South Africa, the one great thought in his mind was to make of the uplands of Africa a new Britain, a place where the race might expand and find room for development. Honorable members may view his actions as they please. I know there are those who have looked upon him as the man who was really behind all these things. I speak of him not because I knew him, but because I believe I have obtained some insight into his real character and aspirations. He was a man who sought wealth, but not for himself. Honorable members are aware from their knowledge of the terms of his will how he sought to bring the Anglo-Saxon races together. He did not despise wealth as some of us do, or pretend to do - because I do not think many of us really despise it, or would object to be millionaires. I know there is a tendency to look upon the maker of money as a person of inferior character, and what I desire to say is that, whilst Cecil Rhodes sought wealth, his idea was to use it for the purpose of securing the hinterland of South Africa, and peopling it with British subjects. He took a foremost hand in the consolidation of the De Beers mine, and) consulting with others in seeking to accomplish that consolidation, the one thing about which he fought longest was that there should be included in the constitution of the consolidation a provision that he should be permitted to use ^500,000 of their money for the purpose of extending British influence and power in South Africa. He acomplished his purpose in that, and in so doing largely extended the influence of the British race in that country. I say at once that I do not think the motion proposed by the honorable member for Bland is strong enough. I have drafted an amendment which, though it is not as strongly worded as I should like, is more emphatic than the one proposed by the honorable member for. Lang. I do not say that I shall move it, because to do so might be to elicit differences of opinion, and what I chiefly desire is that we should be unanimous in this matter. The motion submitted by the honorable member for Bland is silent on the point, but I presume that if carried it will be communicated to the British Government, and I desire that there shall go from this House the expression of an unanimous opinion representing the views of the Australian people.

Mr Watson - From both Houses.

Mr LONSDALE - Yes, I desire that the opinion of Parliament shall be given expression to unanimously. I prefer to accept the motion as it stands, rather than that there should be any division or any difference of opinion expressed. If I were assured that it would be accepted without a division I should prefer that the motion take the following form : -

That this House records its opinion that the proposed introduction of indentured Chinese labour into the Transvaal is_ fraught with peril to the Empire, and sincerely hopes it will not be carried into effect.

Whilst there is nothing dictatorial in that - and I should make the motion stronger but for that consideration - I think it would be a better amendment of the orignial motion than that which has been moved by the honorable member for Lang. I should like to say that, so far as the suggested referendum is concerned, I do not believe that a true expression of public opinion can always be secured by that means. I doubt whether under existing conditions it would be possible to get the true opinion of the people of the Transvaal if a referendum upon this question were taken there. I am not sure that by means of their wealth certain persons in the Colony would not be able to carry a referendum in favour of the proposal. I take up the position that we are against the introduction of Chinese into the Transvaal, even though a referendum should be carried in favour of it. I am against it, because it is a danger to the Empire and to the British people, and will prevent us from using that land as we might use it, for the expansion of our own race. I am unable to move an amendment until that which is already before the Chair is disposed of ; but if the honorable member for Bland could see his way to accept the motion in the form I suggest, I should be very pleased. I have made these remarks because I am essentially a Britisher. I was in favour of the Transvaal war, not for the purpose of helping capitalists to exploit the country and crush down our own people, but because I believed we might use the country for the expansion of the British race. I have given mv reasons in support of the object of the motion, and I still think that the form I suggest, being stronger, would be better than the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Lang.

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