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Thursday, 26 October 1905

Senator PULSFORD - By the last mail, I. had a letter from Lord Avebury, who is better known, perhaps, as Sir John Lubbock, in which he makes just that remark, and wonders what the people of Australia would think if Japan legislated against Australia in the same manner.

Senator Playford - We should not object to it.

Senator Gray - I suppose honorable senators opposite would say that we do not wish to do any business with the Japanese.

Senator Staniforth Smith - No European is allowed to hold land in Japan.

Senator PULSFORD - The character of the interjections which are being made, and the tone adopted by honorable senators, do not do much credit to the Federal Parliament of Australia, nor are they calculated to lessen the feeling of resentment felt by Japan. There is no nation worth its salt in any part of the world that does not feel and resent any attack upon, its dignity. I have here a copy of a cable message received from Europe about, a fortnight ago, in which it is stated that Prince von Bulow, the Foreign Minister of Germany, on being interviewed by a representative of a Paris paper, said that -

Germany was quite prepared to place no obstacles in the way of French development, provided the commercial interests and dignity of Germany were respected.

We find the same thing everywhere. Are' honorable senators going to refuse to behave with respect and courtesy to the Japanese, or to any other people, because they may happen to have a different tinge of colour from our own,? That is what appears to be indicated by the remarks and the tone adopted by some members of the Senate. I desire honorable senators t© bear in mind the fact that Australia has' not" had very much experience in negotiating with foreign countries, and that, if we are going to be a great nation, and to deal direct with any foreign countries', we must consider the feelings of the people of those countries a little ; we must view great subjects from their stand-point at least a little; and we must be willing to give as well as to take. If we do anything which they can resent, and which they can look upon, as they do upon this legislation, as thoroughly insulting to them-

Senator Playford - We have not insulted them at all.

Senator PULSFORD - Of what use is it for the Minister of Defence to say that, when I have read letter after letter written by representatives of Japan in Australia, by the Ambassador of Japan in London, and cables which have been sent to Australia and to London direct from the Japanese Government, stating that they view these matters as insulting, and pointing out that a distinction is made, which everybody knows to be a fact, between the nations of Europe and the great nation of Japan. When all this is proved, of what use is it for any honorable senator to pretend - for it can only be pretence - that there is no differentiation as against Japan? It is clear and absolute, and the sooner honorable senators recognise it the sooner we shall be on the way to get rid of this reproach to Australia.

Senator Playford - We adopted the language test in order not to give special offence to Japan.

Senator Gray - We have given offence to everybody.

Senator Playford - I suppose the honorable senator contends that we have no right to keep aliens out of Australia?

Senator PULSFORD - The Japanese admit that right. Have I not read letters from them admitting fully and absolutely that the Government of Australia have the right to exclude whom they will? What they complain of is that we should adopt an exclusive policy against them which is marked by an insult to their race. They ask that we shall not legislate for their exclusion from Australia in a way which we dare not adopt in dealing with a European nation.

Senator Best - Does the honorable senator advocate that the word "European" should be struck out of the section to which exception is taken?

Senator PULSFORD - I Believe that the Japanese Government would be quite content if the word" European " were struck out, or if the section read " European and Japanese." I direct attention to the fact that this Act of ours has had various results which were not anticipated. I do not think it was anticipated that it would create for Australia difficulty and illfeeling among the people of the various islands of the Pacific. From her geographical position, Australia might have been expected to be the friend of the great islands of the Pacific. Instead of that, a native missionary coming from any of the islands of the Pacific, through New Guinea, and passing into Australia, is liable to be put in gaol for a time.

Senator Pearce - That is absolutely incorrect. The honorable senator must be aware that missionaries are allowed to land, and have landed.

Senator PULSFORD - It is not incorrect. Another difficulty that arises in connexion with this Act is shown by what took place in connexion with the Maori shearers. I suppose honorable senators are aware that some Maori shearers who came over from New Zealand were prevented from landing, but, fortunately, the Government agreed afterwards that they were to be admitted, and gave instructions that Maori shearers must not be stopped in the future.

Senator Best - Then what was done in that case was the result of a mistake.

Senator PULSFORD - No ; it was in accordance with the Act. Under the Act, rigidly interpreted, it was proper to exclude those Maoris. What I desire to point out is that this Act has in various ways had to be- departed from, and it will need in the future to be departed from still more. A case occurred at Newcastle in connexion with the landing of a sailor who had a very slight touch of colour. He was a Naval Reserveman, and had fought for the Empire in South Africa. He wanted to leave his ship at Newcastle, and the captain, thinking that there could be no objection to his doing so, discharged him there. This man was, I believe, a native of one of the West Indies, and the captain was prosecuted for discharging him at Newcastle. That is but another instance amongst many which I am quite certain Parliament never intended should occur under this Act. The Act has in various ways inflicted hardship upon innocent people, and has produced effects which can only be considered a disgrace to Australia.

Senator Pearce - It has kept a horde of Asiatics out of! Australia ; that is something to its credit.

Senator PULSFORD - I ask leave to continue my remarks this day fortnight.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.

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