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Wednesday, 12 October 1949

Mr HUGHES - I know that the Minister supports the White Australia policy, but I remind him that only yesterday a gentleman was appointed to the Australian National University who has acquired notoriety because of a book that he wrote advocating that the White Australia policy should be whittled down. I am not 'one of those persons who are opposed to the White Australia policy.

Mr Calwell - Some members of the right honorable gentleman's party are opposed to it.

Mr HUGHES - Never mind about my party. Let the Minister look at his own party. We all are affected by those with whom we sleep.

Mr Calwell - That is right.

Mr HUGHES - I know what the Minister said against the Communists. I thought that his criticisms were very good. Indeed, I could have said those things myself. But a day or so later, when he is tackled in this chamber, he says that he will not prevent Australian Communists from going to Moscow. He claims that they have the right to be given a passport, and that he will grant them passports. The Communists are emissaries of Satan, and the Minister sends them out to do Satan's work.

Mr Calwell - Why did the right honorable gentleman try to bribe them with government money?

Mr HUGHES - Oh, go on !

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Burke). - Order! The right honorable member for North Sydney is being led away from the subject of immigration.

Mr HUGHES - Immigration is inexplicably linked with the defence of Australia, and the maintenance of the kind of Australia that we have to-day. I remind the Minister that Australia embodied the principle of White Australia in the

Immigration Restriction Act, which was passed in 1901, and for nearly half a century that legislation worked so effectively and smoothly that when he came upon the scene, he found an Australia as " white " in 1945 as it was in 1901.

Mr Calwell - No.

Mr HUGHES - What is more, the Minister found that the legislation had worked so smoothly that, during the whole of that period, there had not been one incident with eastern countries and their rulers. Nearly every country in the world protests almost daily against the manner in which this policy is being administered.

Mr Calwell - It is the same policy, and the same law.

Mr HUGHES - All that the honorable gentleman does is to shut out Mrs. Annie O'Keefe, or Mrs. Somebody Else.

Mr Calwell - Perhaps Mr. Hughes.

Mr HUGHES - The Minister may not realize that for many years, I was in control of immigration, and I did not bother about what Mrs. So-and-So did or did not do.

Mr Calwell - Of course not !

Mr HUGHES - After nearly 50 years Australia was as white as it was on the day on which the act was passed. We were not involved in incidents with foreign countries. India, China and Japan made no complaint to us about the manner in which we were administering the law. We got on smoothly with them.

Mr Calwell - No country has ever complained to the Commonwealth about the administration of the immigration law.

Mr Francis - What about the Philippines ?

Mr Calwell - The Philippines have never complained.

Mr HUGHES - The proof of the pudding is in the eating. After 45 years, Australia was as " white " as it was on the day the act was passed.

Mr Calwell - And that is when the right honorable gentleman deserted the policy.

Mr HUGHES - Oh! For some inscrutable reason, the Minister has been permitted by providence to intrude into this sphere, and somehow, he is like the fly on the wheel. The wheel is turning, and the fly says, " I am turning it ". But that is not the position. I heard the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) speak about our defences. Taking him all in all, I hope that we shall never see his like again.

Mr Calwell - He will be here for a long time yet.

Mr HUGHES - I do not know whether he will or not, just as I do not know whether or not the Minister will be here for a long time.

Mr Calwell - We shall outlive the right honorable gentleman here.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN". - Order ! There are too many interjections.

Mr HUGHES - I should miss the honorable gentleman if he were not here. The point that I desire to make is that we are in no position to defend this country. Indeed, we have never been in a position to defend this country from aggression by a major power. Had it not been for the efforts of the United States of America in World War II., we should have been undone; and had Japan been permitted to settle its nationals in New Guinea, we should have been undone anyhow. War may be averted, but there is danger in the congested populations of the eastern countries in particular. For those surplus millions, there is no escape from death by starvation save by migration. They must find a way out, and I ask again where can they go but to Australia? What do we intend to do to prevent them? Without powerful friends we cannot hope to defend the country against them. We must populate and develop this country, and so order ourselves that the world will say, " The Australians are a people worthy of their freedom and of the right to the unfettered control of this great country, because they are carrying on as civilized people ". Every nation has the right to say who shall come in and who shall not come in, but a wellbred, civilized people do not slam the door in the face of migrants, and let it be seen that they think that they are superior to the nationals of other countries. We are now to play our part under the spotlight on the world stage before the nations of the world. Therefore, we must ensure that we shall be able, first to defend this country to the best of our ability, and, secondly, to develop its resources and absorb assimilable people. The Minister is trying to do that, and I commend him for it.

I now desire to make another point. If we are to hold this country we must populate and defend it. We must look to our defence forces. I' believe in the principle of a free people governing themselves. We in this country have attained the widest measure of freedom of any people in the world. We enjoy our democratic parliamentary, institutions, although mark you, they are threatened by the Labour party.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order ! The right honorable gentleman's time has expired.

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