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Wednesday, 13 December 1905

Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) - I wish to draw the attention of Senator Playford to a matter in paragraph a, which, unless there is some explanation which he can offer, I think he will agree with me requires amendment. There is an almost universal feeling that the principle which underlies the paragraph is a make-believe and a sham.

Senator Playford - So is the Act itself.

Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - Of course it is, andthere is no one more absolutely candid when he is candid than is my honorable friend.

Senator Trenwith - The Parliament was candid.

Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - We are all ready to admit that we humiliated ourselves by putting upon the statutebook a Bill which was a sham and a makebelieve. It deceived nobody. It was a mere pretence so far as regards the Japanese.

Senator Trenwith - No, it was a concession to the Imperial Party.

Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - We bowed the knee to Mr. Chamberlain, but I was one of those who stood erect, as I always shall do. Australia ought to fix the mode by which it intends to carry out its policy., and ought not to allow Mr. Chamberlain, or any one else, to lead it into doing something which we, by universal consent, characterize as a makebelieve. But now we have gone beyond that point, and we have a difficulty raised in regard to our Act by Japan, which has, with great courtesy, shown its irritation and discontent by the singling out of a European language.

Senator Givens - We find that officially they have never done anything of the sort.

Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - That statement has been made by the Prime Minister, who has taken the initiative in this make-believe policy, and now we are asked to eliminate the word " European," intending all thesame to give effect to the original provision. Although this system of make-believe is to be applied to the Japanese or other people whom we wish to shut out, surely we do not intend to throw difficulties in the way of our own citizens ! I draw the attention of the Minister to the following words in paragraph a of this clause: -

Any person who fails to pass the dictation test.

The effect of the provision is that a Customs officer may apply the dictation test if he chooses to any person, whether he has been a citizen of Australia or not.

Senator Lt Col Gould - Unless he gets a certificate of exemption.

Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - In the Act, there is no provision for an exemption or a modification of that kind. A few weeks ago I paid a visit to Fremantle, and when I embarked upon the incoming mail steamer, the Mongolia, I found that the Australian passengers, for the safety of her master and owners, who are liable to penalties if they bring in prohibited immigrant's, had been obliged, before their arrival, to sign a long statement, declaring where they were born, what their ages were - this was peculiarly irritating to the ladies I am told - and a great number of other particulars. Whatever restrictions, and whatever sort of barbed-wire entanglements we are going to throw round immigration to Australia, we certainly ought not to throw difficulties in the way of our own people returning to our shores.

Senator Matheson - I had to sign a similar' paper between Fremantle and Adelaide.

Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - If my honorable friend is treated in that way, there is no citizen of Australia who would escape. What I am now pointing out is recognised,' and a modification is intended to be proposed in new clause 4B. It is now suggested that if a man has been resident here for five years he shall, before he leaves for a trip to an outside country, apply under that provision for permission to depart, and to return. Surely we are a free people here ! Why should we be obliged to go cap in hand to a Customs officer and to get his permission to go away; and to return ?

Senator Playford - We have not to do it.

Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - But we have to do it. The Bill says -

May in manner prescribed apply to an officer authorized in that behalf for a certificate in the prescribed form excepting him if he returns to the Commonwealth within the period limited in the certificate from the provisions of paragraph (a) of section 3 of this Act ; that is to say, from being subjected to the education test. The amendment which I propose to move to get over the difficulty is to insert the words " other than a citizen of the Commonwealth ' ' after the word " person," in paragraph a. Is this Commonwealth going to impose difficulties against the return of its own citizens to their own homes ?

Senator Playford - May not a Chinaman be a citizen of the Commonwealth ?

Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - If he is, why should he not come back to his home? But if my honorable friend will agree to insert the words, " any Chinaman " or " any Asiatic," or words to that effect, I will agree with him.

Senator Staniforth Smith - We do not -want to mention any nationalities in this Bill.

Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - Are the citizens of this Commonwealth to have a brand put upon them as being people who must not come here unless they have certificates of exemption? . It is a disgrace to put .such a thing on the statutebook. We shall be ashamed of belonging to the Commonwealth if this sort of thing is insisted on. If what is meant is that coloured aliens who leave the Commonwealth are not to return, let us say so; but do not let us put a "disability upon the citizens, of this Commonwealth of which we ought all to be proud:. Why should Senator Matheson or any one else be subjected to that kind of irritation on board ship when he is returning home?

Senator Givens - People are coming and going every day," and there is not a bit of bother.

Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - I have no objection to clause 4 being remodelled so as to apply to coloured aliens. But the Act ought not to apply to the citizens of the Commonwealth. Let it apply to coloured people whom we wish to keep out, or whom" we wish not to return, by means of a substitute, if I may use an Irishism.

Senator Givens - A citizen of the Commonwealth would not be an immigrant.

Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - He would if he went out of the Commonwealth. There is no definition of "immigrant" in the Bill. The amendment which I have suggested will meet the case, and therefore I move -

That after the word " person," line 5, the words "other than a citizen of the Commonwealth " be inserted.

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