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Tuesday, 12 December 1905


Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia) (Minister of Defence) . - It is absurd of Senator Dobson to speak as he has done. The honorable senator has said that he knows that I am bound to oppose the amendment, and that I cannot possibly do anything else, and, if that is so, why on earth should I get up and say so? The honorable and learned senator knows that the Government cannot accept the amendment.


Senator Dobson - I should think not.

SenatorPLAYFORD. - Then why is it necessary that I should get up and say so?


Senator Dobson - Because the honorable senator half invited it.


Senator PLAYFORD - I did not. I sat here as quiet as a mouse. Every member of the Committee possessed of common sense must know that the Government are necessarily opposed to the amendment.


Senator Clemons - The honorable senator might say why they are opposed to it.


Senator PLAYFORD - Because, if it is agreed to, it is almost certain that the Bill will be rejected elsewhere. Honorable senators are well aware that when the original Bill was being considered, I stated that I voted for the language test, not becauseI believed it was the best means to deal with the matter, but because 1 believed it was necessary that I should vote for it if we were to have any Immigration Restriction measure at all. I told honorable senators, in moving the second reading of this Bill, that I objected to the language test, and would prefer that the matter should be dealt with in a more straightforward manner. I do not propose to take up the time of the Committee unnecessarily, if Senator Dobson does.

Senator MACFARLANE(Tasmania).I objected to the original Bill, and voted against it, as I should do to-morrow. I have voted for the second reading of this Bill because I believe that it proposes an improvement upon the principal Act. I desire to point out why I believe that if the amendment now proposed is, agreed to we cannot expect that the measure will receive the Imperial sanction. On the 14th May, 1901, Mr. Chamberlain wrote to the Governor of Queensland that he would not assent to the Sugar Works Guarantee Bill, because -

In the first place, it embodies a disqualification based on place of origin - practically a distinction of race and colour. Any attempt to impose disqualifications on the base of such distinctions, besides being offensive to a friendlypower, is contrary to the general conceptions of equality which have been the guiding principle of British rule throughout the Empire.

The reference to "a friendly power" was at that time a reference to Japan, just as it is to-day. Nothing whatever has transpired to show that the policy of Great Britain in this respect has been altered, and there can be no doubt that if we accept this amendment the Bill will notreceive the Imperial sanction.

Senator DOBSON(Tasmania).- I desire to say that it is very much to be regretted that the settled policy of the Empire, the policy adopted by Natal, and also by the Commonwealth, should be characterised by the Minister in charge of this Bill as a subterfuge. I hope that the honorable senator will not, in future, speak in such terms of Acts which this Parliament has passed.







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