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Thursday, 30 November 1905

Senator DOBSON (Tasmania) - I cannot quite understand the position taken up by the leader of the Senate. In Senator Smith's pamphlet the average cost of labour is put down at 30 per cent. The Minister very wisely, and I think properly, said that the cost of white labour will be practically double the cost of black labour, and although he is not in favour of granting a bonus - he could not, of course, pledge his colleagues - yet he says that the Government will offer no opposition to the motion.

Senator Playford - I could not pledge the Ministry] to a bonus, because I do not know what amount of money would be required.

Senator DOBSON - Are we to fill up the notice-paper with a number of motions which really embody a most dangerous policy ?

Senator Playford - It is all governed by the word "otherwise."

Senator DOBSON - However anxious we may be to have a white Australia, and to prevent the increase of coloured labour in this industry by backing it up with a bonus, it is a most risky policy to enter upon. If the industry, when worked with black labour, is not worth having - and it is thought to be inimical to the White Australia policy - let my honorable friends give up the industry, but do not let them hoodwink themselves and the public. If we make a precedent of this kind, we shall be called upon to vote innumerable bonuses in order to keep up various industries. I am astonished that the leader of the Senate should object to a bonus for this industry, and admit the mischief of it, and then say, "I would rather that the motion were postponed; but if Senator Pearce would like to carry it, I shall not object."

Senator Playford - I did not object to a bonus. I said that we did not know what amount of money would be required, and that there ought "to be an inquiry on that point.

Senator DOBSON - If the Minister says that he never objected to a bonus, which is only another way of saying that he is in favour of it if it is not too large, he has entered upon a mischievous policy.

Senator Staniforth Smith - As a start, they could give a bounty to half-a-dozen luggers with white crews.

Senator DOBSON - It would be a gross wrong to the taxpayer to give a bonus. We can have our pineapples at the North Pole if we like, but we cannot continue this policy of turning coloured men out of industries, and bolstering those industries, up by bonuses. That is not the work which we were sent here to do. We ought to conserve the public money, and to make the most use of it. Every State, I venture to say, is" now bearing a great burden in order to carry out the White Australia policy in regard to the sugar industry. And at the very time when we are asked to extend the sugar bounty for five years, and to grant a heavier one too, the Minister is suggesting that we should pass a motion in favour of granting a bonus to another industry. He has entered upon a very risky policy, and if any honorable senators on this side say that" the Government are under the thumb of a party, the statement can be justified by a reference to his actions.

Amendment of the amendment agreed to.

Amendment, as amended, agreed to.

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