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Tuesday, 12 December 1905

Senator DAWSON (QUEENSLAND) - I think it is hardly fair for an ex-Minister, who was, to a large extent, responsible for the placing of the Immigration Restriction Act upon the statute-book, to make a statement which he cannot prove, which he makes no attempt to prove, but which he disposes of in a light and airy way by saying : " I think that the honorable senator knows as well as I do that the education test has given offence."

Senator Drake - I know that the use of the word " European " has. been objected to.

Senator DAWSON (QUEENSLAND) - Can the honorable senator state, from any knowledge which he has gained as a Minister, or from Senator Playford, that any protest has been made against the use of this phrase by the Japanese authorities or by any other Asiatic authority ?

Senator Pulsford - Yes; I have given the proof many times.

Senator DAWSON (QUEENSLAND) - The honorable senator has given the authority for his statement, but it merely consisted of a letter which was sent by the Japanese Consul to the then Prime Minister. There is absolutely nothing official. Responsible Ministers have been asked whether any official protest has been made on behalf of Japan, and the reply has always been " No." I ask the Minister in charge of this Bill now whether there is anything of the kind ?

Senator Playford - I know of nothing.

Senator DAWSON (QUEENSLAND) - The Minister says distinctly that he knows of nothing

Senator Clemons - Surely there is something official about the Consul's statement.

Senator Playford - We can get no official information from Japan except through the British Government.

Senator DAWSON (QUEENSLAND) - The Japanese Consul might give his personal views, but he might do so in order to please Senator Pulsford.

Senator Pulsford - He said that he had been instructed by cable from his Government.

Senator DAWSON (QUEENSLAND) - I prefer to accept the statement of a responsible Minister of the Commonwealth. He is bound to give the Senate an\n information of the kind if the Government are in possession of it, but honorable senators heard Senator Playford just now" state that they are not in possession of any information of the kind. When Senator Drake was a responsible Minister of the Commonwealth, he did not furnish us with any such information. 1 question whether the honorable senator has any now. I believe that he is merely repeating statements made by others, and submits no proof of the accuracy of those statements.

Senator Drake - Is the honorable senator in favour of the retention of the word " European " ?


Senator Drake - Then I am prepared to vote for the amendment.

Senator DAWSON (QUEENSLAND) - I am not concerned in the way in which Senator Drake will vote. If the honorable senator chooses to go astray that is his own look out.

Senator Drake - If the clause is to be destroyed, I would prefer to do it in that way to doing it in the other way.

Senator DAWSON (QUEENSLAND) - There is this difference in the method of destruction : iri my opinion, 'the result of carrying the amendment moved by Senator Givens will be to destroy the whole Bill, and there is a lot of merit in this measure. If the other method is adopted, we shall destroy only a provision which is a danger to our White Australia policy, and will still be able to take advantage of what is meritorious in the Bill. Senator Drake took a responsible part in the establishment of the White Australia policy. He should be proud of it, and should be prepared to do all he can to see that it is not weakened in the slightest degree. There are certain limits beyond which they are not permitted to go by the Imperial authorities. Memories have been revived, and I can remember very well when an amendment in the very words now proposed by Senator Givens was submitted in this Chamber, and we supported it. Every amendment- of the kind was also cheerfully supported by some honorable senators then in Opposition. Not because they were in favour of a White Australia, but in order to kill the Bill.

Senator Clemons - Does the honorable senator apply that remark to me?

Senator DAWSON (QUEENSLAND) - I do not think that it is applicable to Senator Clemons, because from its inception, I believe, the honorable and learned senator said that he was in favour of a White Australia policy.

But I know that honorable senators on the Oppositon side, and on this side, assisted members of the Labour Party to carry those amendments. We were in this ridiculous position, that sometimes the Government won by the aid of the votes of the Opposition senators, and sometimes we won by the aid of the same votes, until I believe that the word " that " was about the only word left in the clause, and ultimately we decided that the test should be in "an European language."

That is the history of the provision. Senator Symon, who was leader of the Opposition at the time, made no secret of the fact that he would vote for a similar amendment to that now proposed, because he was entirely against the Bill.

Senator Clemons - I think the honorable senator is mistaken.

Senator DAWSON (QUEENSLAND) - I do not think that I am. The amendment which he has moved will not attain the object which Senator Givens desires, but it is very likely that it will have the effect of killing a Bill of which advantage might be taken to remedyblemishes in the existing Act. The best thing we can do is to pass such provisions of this measure as we consider urgently necessary for the amendment of the principal Act, and we can strike out the reference to a prescribed language and adhere to the wording of the principal Act in this respect. The use of the phrase, ' ' a prescribed language," is, in my opinion, open to very grave danger, though it is apparently safeguarded in this Bill by the provision requiring the approval of Parliament for any regulation prescribing the language, and permittingany such regulation to be vetoed by either House. We might have an unsympathetic Administration prescribing a language in a regulation which, if it had to be approved by Parliament, might not be agreed to.

Senator Clemons - The Administration could allow of the admission of alien immigrants under the present Act.

Senator DAWSON (QUEENSLAND) - As a matter' of fact, the Administration does not do so. There is no arrangement made by which we admit aliens to settle in our midst, and become citizens of the Commonwealth.

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