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Tuesday, 25 October 1904

Mr RONALD (SOUTHERN MELBOURNE, VICTORIA) - Has the attention of the Prime Minister been directed to the following statement in the Australasian of the 22nd October : -

Mr. Reid and Mr. McLean both denounced the action taken respecting the "six hatters" as a straining of the statute, and an application of it to purposes never intended. The obligation now rests on them to administer the clause in the spirit in which Parliament enacted it. The precedent of questioning all immigrants under contract has been set, and even if Ministers think it their duty to follow that course still, they need not forget that ample discretion is vested in the Minister. The law was passed by Parliament on the distinct understanding that it should only apply to immigration during a labour disturbance calculated to influence the result. The Prime Minister should let it be known that in all cases where exemption is applied for for artisans under contract it will be granted as a matter of course. We are certain Mr. Reid will not attempt to shelter himself under the plea, " I must administer the Act as I find it."

Does the Prime Minister intend to take his instructions from the press, or to administer the Act as it has been given to him to administer?

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