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Tuesday, 12 December 1905

Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania) - I voted previously as I intend to vote tonight, s.imply because I hate sham and subterfuge. Feeling as I do, I often wonder if honorable senators have contemplated what the feelings of Australians would be if the Japanese Diet were to pass an Immigration Act similar to our own. I should at once say to the Japanese that it would be better to state in a straight-out clause that they wished to shut us out.

Senator de Largie - What does it matter whether they be kept out by a language test or by a colour test?

Senator CLEMONS - I suppose every one is agreed that the education test keeps out the Japanese just as rigidly as wow: this amendment ; but, in my opinion, as I said four or five years ago, the one way is honest, and the other is dishonest. Some honorable senators who profess a desire to be honest have said that they cannot afford to run a risk ; but I would point out to them tha: the risk is very much less now than it was before, because the present Act would remain in full force. It may be said that the Act has not been entirely successful in its operation, but I venture to think that it has been quite as successful as could be expected. I defy any one to name an Act of Parliament which has been passed in any country, and which, within a short space of time, has not been evaded to some extent. Honorable senators opposite may think that the Act has let in persons whom we would wish to keep out, but I think they will also admit that it has been fairly successful in its results. I do not profess to say whether the Royal Assent- would be given to the Bill if it provided for a colour test. When we were dealing with the original Bill, in 1 goi, I did not consider that question, and no one in that Parliament could have said with certainty that the Royal Assent would not be given.

Senator O'Keefe - A very strong hint was received that it would not be given.

Senator CLEMONS - I do not know of that hint having been given, even now. If the Royal Assent were refused the Bill would be lost, but if it were granted we should have an opportunity of showing that we are not afraid to say exactly what we mean. A large majority in each House has decided to keep out undesirable immigrants, so let us try to be honest and to keep them out, especially when the risk we run in an endeavour to be decently honest is almost nothing.

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