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Thursday, 14 December 1905


The PRESIDENT - The facts of the case have already appeared in Hansard once or twice.


Senator Playford - I do not think this report has.


Senator HENDERSON - It will not take long to read the whole of the report, and it will enable honorable senators to thoroughly appreciate the facts. The report is as follows: -

THE SIX HATTERS.

The Collector of Customs, Sydney, reported on 3rd December, 1Q02, that six British hat makers were arriving on the Orontes under agreement, and asked if they should be prevented from landing under section 3 of the Immigration RestrictionAct.

In reply, the Collector was instructed to make full inquiries, and if it was found that the. men were under contract, landing would have to he refused. The official then reported that he had obtained a copy of the agreement between Joseph Jowles, one of the men, and Mr. Anderson, of the Sydney Hat Works, and that it clearly brought Jowles within the paragraph referred to above. Landing of the men in possession of such an agreement would, therefore, Have to be refused.

In the meantime, letters were received by the Department from the Australasian Association of Felt Hatters objecting to men being allowed toland who were under contract.


Senator Lt Col Gould - Is the honorable senator in order in inflicting on honorable senators the whole of this detailed report, which has been handed to him by Senator Playford?


The PRESIDENT - Senator Henderson is perfectly in order in reading the report. Tt will be remembered that many honorable senators asked that' it should be read; why, I do not know. We have had the facts related to us half-a-dozen times; but still, the honorable senator is in order.


Senator HENDERSON - The report proceeds: -

On the 5th December, the Secretary, Department of External Affairs, telegraphed instructions to the Collector of Customs, Sydney, that, as all the men had agreements similar to that of Jowles, they must be treated as prohibited immigrants.

A further letter was received from the Hatters Association, protesting against the landing of the men, and stating that they had on their books about twenty men who were unable to obtain employment, and that 60 per cent, of their members had not averaged five days per week for the past four months. Attention was directed to six more hatters who were arriving on the Oruba.

Mr. Andersonapplied, on the nth December, that the men be exempted from the provision of the Act, on account of their possessing special skill in body making and finishing, a branch of the manufacture requiring special skill. This application was accompanied by statutory declarations by the applicant and his foreman. Representations were now made by the Premier of New South Wales for the release of the hat- . ters, as the prevention of their landing was arousing dissatisfaction. The Prime Minister replied that the men were prohibited immigrants within the meaning of the Act, and he had no option but to exclude them until exempted for special skill. Application for exemption had only been received on the nth December, and thematter had to be dealt with according to law, and impartially.

Application was then made by Mr. Anderson for exemption of six men on board the Oruba. The Prime Minister exempted the men who came by the Oruia on the 13th December, on the following grounds : -

Mr. Andersonhad invested £30,000 in his hat factory, and estimated that when the same was in full work, that it would be necessary to employ seventy-two skilled artisans to keep the other employes (at least 200) fullyoccupied. Mr. Anderson had advertised in the Age on the29th August for skilled men, but had received no replies. The secretary of the union had set out Mr. Anderson's requirements, but no one had shown any desire to accept the employment offered. According to the information supplied, it appeared to be impossible for Mr. Anderson to obtain the number of skilled men that he required in Australia. If Mr. Anderson employed all the skilled men out of engagement at that time, he would still be about fifty men short.

The Prime Minister regretted that the application for exemption had been delayed, as if the information had been furnished before, the delavs and troubles would have been avoided.

Instructions were then given to the officials that the men on the Orontes should be allowed to land.


Senator Lt Col NEILD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Col. Gould. - After they had been in prison for a week.


Senator Playford - It was their own fault.


Senator HENDERSON - The report continues : -

On the 20th December the men arriving by the Oruba were also exempted, and on the day of their arrival in Sydney, 21st December, landed without obstacle. The men on the Orontes would have been treated the same way' if the employer had seen fit to apply for exemption, and furnish necessary information in proper time.

I desire only to add to that that we have never attempted to prevent, and are not now desirous of preventing, such things being done, but we do desire to prevent men being deceived by employers and being brought here' under conditions iess advantageous than those ruling in Australia. I object to any attempt to bring men here under contract merely for the purpose of supplying the places of others already in Australia, who may be objectionable because they happen to be members of some organization. That is a kind of thing I shall always be found opposed to. I shall support the second reading of the Bill, because I believe that its provisions will at least enable us to meet the position as I see it at the present time:







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