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Tuesday, 12 December 1905

Senator STEWART - The explanation is not satisfactory to me. Does the Minister mean one word, or two, or ten, or twenty ? To this new provision is linked a further one, that no regulation shall have force until it has been passed by both Houses of Parliament ; and until it has been laid before Parliament and passed, the present law with regard to European languages remains in force. Thus Ave have this position - that instead of a test of fifty words being imposed, three words will be quite sufficient. A Japanese may come along, and the only words which he may be required to write are " Yes-No." That is an extremely dangerous provision. I cannot think that the present Government would sanction anything like that, but we do not know how long the present Government will live. We may have again a coalition of protectionists and free-traders. We might have a Government under whose regime Japanese and other Asiatics would be admitted. I do not think that any Government would dare to do that, or that Parliament as at present constituted would allow it. But we know that there has been, and there will be. pressure brought to bear upon the people of Australia, to alter their legislation with regard to aliens. Here would be a splendid opportunity. Why eliminate the word " European " at all? I am sure that every member of this Senate has read the old tale about the camel and the tent. At first the camel got his. head into the tent, and pushed until he had gained an entrance for his neck and forelegs, ultimately forcing in his whole body and, turning the legitimate occupant outside. The proposed amendment is the beginning of the introduction of the camel into the tent. The camel, as represented by Japan, says,: "I am not pleased with the word European ' : take it out. for it offends my delicate sensibilities. - put it into n resolution, where it will be so hidden, that I cannot see it. but. for heaven's sake, take it out of the Bill !" We agree; and next the camel says : " You must take .the word out of the resolution, where it is just as offensive as in a Bill." When the word is taken out of the resolution, the camel says : " I want to get right into your country." Thus all opposition, is broken down step by step ; the camel knows that if he seeks to achieve his purpose all at once, he will fail, but comes, to the conclusion that if he proceeds by degrees he may succeed. There are, as I intimated, several provisions in the Bill which are an improvement on the original Act, and those provisions I intend to support. The Senate ought Jo pause before consenting to any alteration in the clause which imposes the language test, because it is a most serious matter to whittle away the safeguards provided in the original Act. The people of Japan know perfectly well that we do not desire to have them here, and Senator Dobson, who, I suppose, knows the mind of the Japanese, being in close sympathy, and probably contact, with them, tells us that they are not anxious to come to Australia. If we do not want the Japanese, and they are not anxious to come here, why this trouble about the paltry matter of the word "European"? It is not the Japanese I am afraid of, but the probability, or even the possibility, of having a Government in power some day who may be only too- glad of an opportunity to introduce large numbers, not only of Japanese, but also of Chinese and Indians.

Senator Findley - Chinese are much better citizens than, Japanese.

Senator STEWART - I do not want either ; I do not want any coloured people here.

Senator Findley - Neither do I.

Senator STEWART - We must be very careful how we tinker with the Act. I cannot understand why the Government have introduced a measure of this kind. What is. the pressure which has been brought to bear on the Government? I have read a number of articles dealing with the subject, but these have been written by people who are opposed to the idea of a White Australia - who are the enemies of the principal plank in our national platform. Why should our democratic Government truckle to such people? Will the amending Bill make any difference so far as concerns the keeping out of the Japanese ? The Minister of Defence has told us that if we pass the Bill we shall stand in exactly the same position as before. If that be so, why amend the Act? To talk about Japan being offended seems to me to be pure bunkum. Japan does not trouble about our education test ; she has very much more important matters in hand. By tinkering and whittling away the safeguard in the Act, we may place ourselves in the hand of a future Government who may be absolutely opposed to the White Australia policy, and who may, during a period of laxity in supervision, introduce large numbers of coloured aliensI specially direct the attention of honorable senators to clause 3, and ask them to be extremely careful in. passing it as it standsIf no one moves an amendment in that clause, I shall do so.

Senator Matheson - Strike it out altogether.

Senator STEWART - I should be very glad to have this clause struck out, and to allow the section of - the principal Act to remain in force.

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