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Wednesday, 13 December 1905


Senator McGREGOR (South Australia) - I listened practical lv all yesterday to a long debate similar to the present one. I said nothing, because I had been absent so long that I did not think I was in a position to thoroughly understand what was going on, nor should I Have said anything to-day if this discussion had not been initiated and carried on by others who are almost as guilty as myself. That removed the feeling of diffidence I had.


Senator de Largie - Guilty of what?


Senator McGREGOR - I mean that that they are guilty of coming here today and renewing a discussion which took place yesterday. We hear a great deal about the sham, the subterfuge, the fraud which has been perpetrated by. the Government, the Parliament, and everybody else in Australia.


Senator Mulcahy - We heard that from the Minister when he introduced the Bill.


Senator McGREGOR - We hear it from everybody ; we hear it from the Opposition at the present time. But who is responsible for that fraud, that misrepresentation, that subterfuge? It is not the people, or the Government, or the Parliament of Australia, but the Imperial Government, which practically declined to approve of a measure making a distinction between white and coloured races on the ground of colour. Honorable senators on the other side are not only acquainted with that fact, but they also know that there was no party here more earnest in their desire to make the Act definite and exclusive in a certain direction than we were.


Senator Sir Josiah Symon - Why ! the honorable senator went over to the other side, and voted in the opposite way.


Senator McGREGOR - I crossed the floor, because I knew that honorable senators on the opposite side were supporting me with the intention of defeating the proposed legislation, as I believe they are now trying to do. Suppose that we were to introduce amendments of the description which has been indicated by Senator Symon, in what position should we put ourselves? We should have to make other amendments which would distinctly stipulate a colour test, and then the Governor-General might refuse to assent to the Bill which would have to be reserved, and would, perhaps, be hung up for an indefinite period. We do not wish anything of that kind to happen. We desire to pass legislation which, whether it be a subterfuge, or a fraud, will carry out our intentions. I hope that honorable senators will endeavour to confine themselves to that view of the question. We have been told by Senator Symon and Senator Gould that British people are under the apprehension that if they came out they would be subjected to the education test. Will any one point out to me a provision which says that a Britisher or a European will be subjected to that test?


Senator Sir Josiah Symon - This very clause will do it if the law is properly carried out.


Senator McGREGOR - Nothing of the kind.


Senator Sir Josiah Symon - What does the phrase "any person" mean?


Senator McGREGOR - Paragraph a of section 3 of the Act does not say any person is to be put to the education test; but that any person who, when put to the test, fails to pass it, shall be a prohibited immigrant. It does not say that the test shall be applied to a Britisher, or to a European, or even to an African, or an Asiatic. If the Act, together with a copy of the figures quoted by Senator de Largie, were handed to a Britisher, and he were told that he would be a prohibited immigrant if he came out, unless he could pass the education test, he would ask, " Where does the Act say that the education test shall be applied to me?" Neither Senator Symon nor Senator Gould can point to a provision of that kind. The Britisher would say : " The test has not yet been put to a European, and, acting on the assumption that it will not, I am going to Australia." I hope that honorable senators will remember that if they were to accept this amendment they would have to amend the Bill in a direction which would specifically stipulate a colour test, and thus put our legislation in jeo pardy. It was only for that reason thatI rose to address the Committee.







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