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Tuesday, 12 December 1905

Senator O'KEEFE (Tasmania) - There is one aspect of the case which has not yet been touched upon. When this question was fully discussed on the former occasion, to which reference has been made, there was no alliance between Great Britain and Japan.

Senator DAWSON (QUEENSLAND) - There was a treaty.

Senator O'KEEFE - If there was a treaty at that time, the alliance was entered into after the discussion of the amendment. On that occasion it was suggested by the Imperial authorities that, in order to secure our object, it would be better to provide an education test, instead of drawing the direct colour line, and that was done. Subsequently Great Britain became more closely associated with Japan, and the alliance has recently been ratified in stronger terms. Under the circumstances, I ask, what chance would there be of the Imperial authorities now assenting to a Bill containing such a provision as that proposed by Senator Givens?

Senator Drake - We have a law on the subject.

Senator O'KEEFE - I am very much surprised to hear that interjection from Senator Drake, because it seems to indicate that he intends to vote for the amendment.

Senator Drake - The honorable senator should not draw that inference.

Senator O'KEEFE - The honorable senator was a member of the Government which urged the Senate, in the interest of a great policy, not to imperil the fate of the Immigration Restriction Bill by including a straight-out colour test.

Senator Drake - Because we had no legislation on the subject then.

Senator O'KEEFE - The position is very much stronger in that respect to-day than it was then. The Imperial Government has entered into a stronger alliance, or treaty, with Japan than was in existence at that time. ' What would be the result if we were to pass this amendment? The Royal Assent would be refused to the Bill. Therefore certain improvements upon our existing legislation which are contained in its provisions would be lost. I intend to vote against the amendment, because I r'.o not wish the Bill to be lost, and not because I should not like to see a straight-out colour test adopted. I hope, however, that the time is not far distant when we shall receive an intimation from the Imperial Government that they would not dissent from a measure in which that test was embodied.

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