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Friday, 28 October 1904

The Prime Minister,

Australian Commonwealth, Melbourne


Honored Sir, -

We, the undersigned, resident planters and settlers of the New Hebrides, hereby respectfully beg to call your attention to certain matters relating to the welfare of British and Australian interests in these islands.

At the present time a silent struggle is being carried on between two nations for local supremacy, and it must be obvious to all thinking men that a grave doubt exists as to which of the two will gain that supremacy. Present indications appear to point to ultimate French control.

We give the following reasons for so thinking : -

1.   The fact that the French settlers outnumber the British by 41, the numbers being - French, 255 ; British, 214.

2.   That by subsidies and superior transport facilities, the French subjects are given far more encouragement than their British rivals.

3.   The French Government gives inestimable assistance to her colonists by allowing their produce into Noumea practically free of duty.

We could give many more reasons, but trust that the three above-mentioned will be sufficient.

Then it goes on to say -

If, as we believe, the Commonwealth be desirous of helping her subjects in the New Hebrides, of giving valuable assistance to the Empire, in the present critical stage of this struggle for the control of one of the finest archipelagoes in the Pacific, and incidentally, of helping herself (for there are possibilities of an immense future trade with these islands), we feel sure that she, through her Prime Minister, will consider our one suggestion, which we put forward with the utmost diffidence.

I propose now to place before the Committee some figures showing the extent of the trade between the islands and Australia.

Mr McDonald - I wish to call attention to the state of the Committee. This is an important question, and there should be a good attendance of honorable members. [Quorum formed.]

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