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Wednesday, 13 December 1905

Senator Lt Col GOULD (New South Wales) - Senator Findley has given one very good reason why the amendment should be agreed to. The honorable senator has said that certain people inside and outside of the Commonwealth have put it abroad that we desire to keep white people out of this country. I take it that the very object of the amendment is to show that that is not true, and that citizens of the Commonwealth can leave and return to Australia without let or hindrance. It is very desirable that any statement to the effect that a citizen of the Commonwealth who leaves Australia can return only with considerable difficulty shall be shown to be absolutely untrue. The Minister has said that the law is not administered in the waystated, but the Act does not clearly indicate what is intended.

Senator Findley - These exemption certificates are intended to apply only to Chinese and Japanese.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- We wish people abroad to know that we are not putting any restrictions upon our, own people, and to know also that there is no truth in the statement often made that we think there is no room in Australia for any more people than we have here at the present time. I support the amendment, because it is in accordance with the intention of the original Act,0 and, as we are informed, in accordance also with the past administration of the Act. Senator Symon has referred to the statement made in. the report of the Agents-General, in which they point out that much injury is done to Australia in consequence of the contract immigration provision and the provisions generally of the Immigration Restriction Act. We should do what we can to disabuse the public mind of any misrepresentations made in connexion with these provisions' on the other side of the world.

Nothing is more easy than for a person to show people our Immigration Restriction Act, and say : " Here is the law ; you are bound to pass this dictation test, and, further, once you get into Australia you are a prisoner, and cannot leave it if you wish to return, without getting a ticketofleave, such as a prisoner gets when he comes out of gaol."

Senator DAWSON (QUEENSLAND) - Can the honorable senator name any Agent-General who has bent his energies to the contradiction of these misrepresentations.

Senator Lt Col GOULD - I presume they do all they can to disabuse the public mind of these misrepresentations.

Senator DAWSON (QUEENSLAND) - Can the honorable senator name any Agent-General who has done so?

Senator Keating - They are a little too fond of playing into the' hands of those who misrepresent Australia.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - That is a slander upon the Agents-General.

Senator Keating - Honorable senators have only to read the papers to see that what I say is correct.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- The difficulty is that the Act of Parliament can be appealed to, and people may say : " You can say what you like, but there is the statute law, and we have a right to assume that the authorities in Australia will carry out that law." Honorable senators must admit that the insertion of the amendment can do no harm. We are told that it merely provides for the way in which the Act is at present administered, and why should we not make that clear in the Bill, so that the people who are not intimately acquainted with our legislation may know exactly what we are doing, and may not be left under any misapprehension as to what will happen to them if they come to Australia.

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