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Wednesday, 13 December 1905

Senator DE LARGIE (Western Australia) - There are a few words which have been used so often in this debate as to have become somewhat hackneyed ; for instance, the words "sham," "fraud," and " subterfuge " have been applied to the existing Act, and1 to this Bill. I am afraid that some more of this sham, fraud and subterfuge will be imported into the Bill by the proposed amendment, to which the same epithets might very well be applied. Time and again the statement has been made that we have passed a law to exclude white men from Australia. Those who have been decrying our immigration laws have industriously circulated that statement, and I am sorry to say that some colour is being given to it by this amendment. As a matter of fact, our immigrahon laws have not had the effect of keeping any white men out of Australia who desire to come here. That is proved by the statistics on the subject. If a very few white men have been prohibited from entering Australia, they have been kept out by the operation of State laws. I find from the statistics for 1903 that there were in that year 44,117 immigrants introduced into Australia. Of that number, 41,132 were white people, comprising all nationalities - English, Austrians, Belgians, French, Danes, Dutch, Germans, Greeks, Italians, Poles, Portuguese, Russians, Scandinavians, Swiss, and Turks. Out of 44,000 immigrants 41,000 were whites, and the balance consisted of Pacific Islanders and others, who came in to work on the sugar plantations and the pearling grounds. In that year only eight white men were excluded, and these were excluded under paragraph, b of section 3 of the Act; in other words,, because they were practically paupers, and were looked upon as likely to be a burden upon the Commonwealth. That action was taken under a law which has long been in force, I believe, in nearly all the States. Out of the total number of immigrants who were subjected to the education test in 1903 only thirteen were admitted. Six persons were admitted for various reasons. Two were horse-buyers, who were regular visitors; two were natives of the Northern Territory, who had returned without any papers, and had to be tested ; and the other two were commercial men, who were on a short visit to the Commonwealth, and who returned to their own country. That accounts for six of the thirteen. Everything considered, I hold that our immigration law has worked fairly well; certainly it has given satisfaction to those who wished undesirable persons to be kept out. It has not excluded any white men, except the eight persons to whom I have referred. What, then, becomes of this cry of the unfairness of our law to white men, and what is likely to result from its retention upon the statute-book? In my opinion, the mistake we have made is in proposing to alter the Act. It has worked admirably, and I should be glad to see this Bill thrown into the waste-paper basket. I am inclined to think that the Act, if allowed to stand as it is, would work more satisfactorily than would the proposed amendment.

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