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Wednesday, 13 December 1905

Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia) (Minister of Defence) . - What is a citizen of the Commonwealth? A Chinaman, or a Hindoo? It is a very indefinite phrase. We know what is meant by a citizen of a certain city, but " citizen of the Commonwealth " is not a phrase which we use in Acts of Parliament.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - It is used in the Constitution.

Senator PLAYFORD - Whether that be so or not, the present law on the subject has never been administered by this Government so as to interfere with any individual returning to Australia from abroad.

Senator Clemons - Senator Matheson has said that the requirement has applied to him.

Senator PLAYFORD - It was never done by any Commonwealth officer. If ships' officers choose to make things as troublesome as they can we are not responsible;.

Senator McGregor - They ought to be penalized for doing it.

Senator PLAYFORD - We shall be opening the door to a considerable extent if we accept the amendment. Of course, all the trouble arises from the fact that we have to resort, not to a straightforward course in regard to our immigration law. If we had been able to accomplish the object we had in view to keep out undesirable immigrants - that is, people of the Mongolian and negro races - in our own way, we should have had no trouble whatever. But we cannot help ourselves. We were informed that if we put in the words "coloured people," or any words- to that effect, the Home authorities would not recommend the Crown to assent to our Act. Therefore, we had to do what so many honorable senators have complained of. But the education test has never been applied to our own citizens returning from Europe or to European people coming to out shores. I think we ought to' leave the clause as it is, and I shall oppose the amendment.

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