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Wednesday, 13 December 1905

Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania) - The consideration of this clause compels me to the admission that this Government have put me into a position that I never imagined any Government could possibly place me I can see no reason sufficiently strong to induce me to give a vote one way or the other in this matter. The admission by Senator Playford, and the public announcements which we have seen in print of the views entertained by most of the members of the Government, have justified honorable senators in believing that the Government deliberately propose to strike the word " European " out of the original Act, in order to appease somebody, and the Japanese, I assume.

Senator Playford - Hindoos, also.

Senator CLEMONS - If I assume that it is to appease the Japanese, that will be sufficient for my purpose. Whilst the Government propose to leave the word " European " out, they put the language test in the most open possible way. and we have heard Senator Playford telling us in his second-reading speech that the Government intend to apply the European language test, just as if no amendment of the principal Act had been passed.

Senator Playford - No: I say that Ihe Bill provides that it shall be applied for the present. I do not say that we will not ask Parliament to approve of the application of the test in an Astatic language.

Senator CLEMONS - The honorable senator will find when he peruses Hansard that what he stated was that the Government intended to apply an European language test.

Senator Playford - For the present.

Senator CLEMONS - We may accept that modification, and I do not blame the honorable senator for saying so, because we find from the clause itself that, until some language has been prescribed, the languages authorized by the principal Act shall be deemed to be prescribed. I am asked to delete the word " European," and, at the same time, to recognise that an European language is going to be used.

Senator Playford - For the present.

Senator CLEMONS - There is much virtue in that phrase. In other words, I am asked to enact a provision, and at the same time to assent to the proposition that it shall remain in abeyance.

Senator Givens - Vote for the amendment.

Senator CLEMONS - The amendment is, I admit, more honest than the clause. After all, it is an attempt to state in the Bill what the Government propose to do. I am so weary of this language test, that I shall be very glad when the Bill leaves the Chamber.

Senator Givens - How does the honorable senator propose to vote?

Senator CLEMONS - I am not going to add to the list of my iniquities by voting for one more subterfuge, one more dishonest pretence, one more piece of specious humbug.

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