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Thursday, 23 June 1904

Mr DEAKIN (BALLAARAT, VICTORIA) - The following cablegram appears in this morning's Argus : -

The annual Queensland dinner took place last evening at the Holborn Restaurant. ... Sir HoraceTozer, the Queensland Agent-General, presided. ... In the course of his remarks the chairman said that a representative of Italy had offered to supply unlimited immigrants for work on the Queensland sugar plantations, provided they were permitted to enter into contracts for a year. When the scheme was established contracts would probably not be necessary. In the face of the policy adopted by the Commonwealth Government, however,, it was impossible to proceed further with the proposal.

I wish to ask the Minister of External Affairs whether he is aware of this offer to supply Italian labour to the sugar plantations of Queensland ? If so, has permission . to introduce the labourers under contract for a year or more been asked?. Is there now sufficient labour available to replace the kanakas who may be leaving the plantations?' Does he know of any warrant for the statement that it is impossible to proceed with the scheme because of the present policy of the Commonwealth? Why is it impossible?

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