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Monday, 18 December 1905


Senator TURLEY (Queensland) - Senator Fraserhas dug up a quantity of ancient history; but he has not put fairly before the Committee the difference between the Queensland legislation and that of the Federal Parliament. He left out the one important consideration, that the people of Queensland at the time of the election of the Parliament which enacted the legislation to which he referred had a very restrictive franchise. It was only after the franchise was extended1 that a large number of men who were totally opposed to coloured labour being imported into the country were elected to the State Parliament. It was only under the restrictive franchise that those in favour of coloured labour could secure election to the State Parliament, with 'the object of carrying through legislation in the interests of the class which was at that time running the sugar industry in large plantations.


Senator Fraser - The honorable senator will acknowledge that the Queensland people changed their minds. At onetime they' were very much against coloured labour, and then reversed their decision.


Senator TURLEY - There was only one party against it at that time. The circumstances which impelled the change, I will' not go into now; but they were circumstances outside those which appeared before the public notice. After an opportunity was given to the people of Queensland under a broader franchise to express their views as to whether coloured labour, should be brought in to work in the sugar industry, a totally different opinion was expressed. The district represented in the House of Representatives by Mr. Bamford for the first time was able to return a man to the State Parliament who, all his life, had been opposed1 to the introduction of coloured labour.


Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Col. Gould. - When did* this change take place?


Senator TURLEY - In 1901. for the first time, the people of Queensland had an opportunity of expressing an opinion through the ballot-box on a fair and equitable franchise. That was the time of the first Federal election. Prior to that, they had a most restrictive franchise under which dozens of men who had lived for years in Queensland had no opportunity of expressing an opinion through the ballot- box.


Senator Millen - Is it not absolutelycorrect to state that Queensland, prior


Senator TURLEY - Yes.


Senator Fraser - And' afterwards reversed her decision?


Senator TURLEY - She declared against colouredl labour by electing a majority of one particular party. That was in 1888. Afterwards an agitation arose which, coupled with other matters, induced the head of the then Government to form a coalition with another party,, (and to go back upon- the legislation enacted in 1888. But as soon as the people bad an opportunity at the following election, even under a restrictive franchise, they returned a party of fifteen men to the Queensland Parliament totally opposed to the reintroduction of coloured labour.


Senator Fraser - The honorable senator admits that the sugar industry was ruined by the first policy?


Senator TURLEY - I do not acknowledge any such thing. All the statements made regarding the industry at that time were made by men directly interested in making Queensland a black man's country, so far as agriculture was concerned.


Senator Fraser - Companies and individuals were ruined wholesale.


Senator TURLEY - And considering the way the industry was carried on, they deserved to be ruined. Hundreds of thousands of pounds were wasted, because, I suppose, the people were gaining experience - the black fellow got the money and the other people got the experience.


Senator Millen - If the abolition of kanaka labour did not seriously affect the industry, on. what grounds does the honorable member base his claim for a bonus?


Senator TURLEY - I contend that the policy declared by the people was that there should be a White Australia.


Senator Millen - But the honorable senator says that the abolition of the kanaka did not affect the industry.


Senator TURLEY - As a matter of fact, the kanaka was never abolished. Legislation was passed with that object, but there was no opportunity to put it into force before it was reversed, owing to the howl of interested parties in 1890.


Senator de Largie - Was there any proposal by the State authorities at that time to give the bounty for white-grown sugar ?


Senator TURLEY - There was never a proposal of that kind, for the simple reason that more sugar was being produced in Queensland than Queensland could consume.


Senator Fraser - Queensland was exporting sugar largely.


Senator TURLEY - Queensland was sending sugar into the other States, and competing against sugar grown by coloured labour in other parts of the world.


Senator de Largie - Queensland is producing more sugar now than it was then.


Senator TURLEY - No; Queensland was ' producing more sugar then than she is now. But that, of course, all depends upon the season, the same as in connexion with grain. Last year Queensland produced more grain than she could possibly use, but this year that is not the case.


Senator de Largie - In any case, this is going to be a good year for sugar.


Senator TURLEY - This is going to be a good year, but years ago more sugar was produced than at present. In 1897 there was the heaviest production, but the quantity decreased by thousands of tons, owing to bad seasons.


Senator de Largie - There was no proposal to give a bounty.


Senator TURLEY - No.

SenatorMillen. - Was that not because the honorable senator and his friends con tended that this was a white man's industry, and that no bonus was necessary?


Senator TURLEY - We contended that white men could do the work, but that, so long as coloured aliens were employed, the white man should be given an advantage. As to the agitation about coolies, it was stated by the sugar-growers that they could not get sufficient labour from the islands, and a correspondence was carried on between the Queensland Government and the Indian Government some years ago. The Queensland Government desired to place some restrictions on the coolies it was proposed to import', but the Indian authorities would not allow their people to come to Australia on the conditions laid down. The fact that coolies did not come to Australia was not due to any opposition to coloured labour, but merely fo the circumstances 'I have related ; indeed, the planters did all they could to get coolie labour. However, in the opinion of the people, certain restrictions were necessary, and to these restrictions the Indian authorities refused to assent.


Senator Fraser - But the Indian authorities were quite prepared to deal with the Government of South Australia in regard to the Northern Territory.


Senator TURLEY - I do not know anything about that ; but the Indian authorities would not deal with the Queensland authorities. I shall not deal with the other amendments which have been alluded to, but desire to refer to one or two matters mentioned by Senator de Largie. That honorable senator said that when this legislation was first passed it was believed that the number of coloured labourers would decrease. In the first place, I point out that recruiting was only prohibited after the end of last year, and after the passing of the legislation in 1901 those who were in the habit of sending to the islands for labour increased their efforts to a great extent. They said to themselves, " Seeing that we are protected now to the extent of per tort on coloured-grown sugar, we have full opportunity to take advantage of coloured labour until the end of 1904."


Senator de Largie - Did they get the Chinamen in that way?


Senator TURLEY - That is another matter. These growers got more kanakas in the two years after 1901 than had been introduced at any other period. Those who were carrying out sugar-growing on large areas wished to get as many men as possible under contract to the end of 1906. and1 not only did their best in the way of sending recruiting vessels to the Islands, but held out every inducement, to the kanakas to re-engage./ That i's a simple explanation regarding the increase ot kanakas in Queensland. At the end ot 1906, however, there will be no engagements; all the kanakas will have to be deported to the Islands, and there will then be practically a wiping out of black labour in the sugar industry. There is a large alien population in Australia, which must remain here in any case. I believe there are really more Chinamen in Victoria than in Queensland, and also a large number in South Australia.


Senator Guthrie - No.


Senator Pearce - In the Northern Territory, there is.


Senator TURLEY - A large number of Chinamen were introduced into South Australia, in order to build a railway, and the result has been that during the past three or four years, these aliens have been coming along the two or three available tracks into Queensland as fast as they could. In some cases the Queensland Government have not only stopped them, but shipped them off to

Port Darwin. That, of course, cannot be done' now ; but the fact was that when these Chinamen got into the small towns, the police arrested them and" shipped them off in the way I have described, at the ex- pense ot the Queensland Government, So long as we are prepared to give a large amount of protection to sugar grown by these people, they will flock- into the industry ; and that is the reason I cannot support tho amendment of Senator O'Keefe. That senator proposes that there shall be a sliding scale; but, even if it were proposed to deal .with the Excise in the same way, those who vote for the amendment will simply reduce the amount of protection to the white worker, and bring him down to the level of the coloured alien. If we took £1 per annum off the bounty, and j£i off the Excise, it would simply mean bringing down the white worker all the time, while the coloured alien would practically remain where he is now.


Senator Givens - The coloured1 alien would get more and more each year.


Senator TURLEY - Yes, proportionately, and the white worker would be brought down to his level. The greater the difference between, the protection given to the coloured alien, and that given to the white worker, the fewer of the former will go into the industry.


Senator Dobson - Some of these aliens are naturalized subjects, and part of the population.


Senator TURLEY - But how many? Are there 500 in the whole of Australia?


Senator Dobson - There will only be 2,000 Or 3,000 coloured aliens in Australia in six years' time.


Senator TURLEY - If that is the effect of this legislation, the honorable senator ought to be a strong supporter of it.


Senator Dobson - That is not the effect of the legislation.


Senator TURLEY - If Tasmania were polled to-morrow, T think the honorable senator would find the majority of his constituents in favour of abolishing the coloured labourer at any cost.


Senator Dobson - But the remnant of the coloured population cannot be got rid of.


Senator TURLEY - The sugar industry cannot be carried on by 2,000 people; but requires, I suppose, 15,000 or 20,000. The whole of the land around Bundaberg in the rich Woongarra Scrub was taken up in two or three farms. The whole of the land in this Isis district, and also in the sugar districts around Mackay, was taken up in the same way. What is the position to-day? The tendency for several years past has been for the individual farmer to take up a small area, and produce cane to keep the central mills going. That is now the position of affairs in the Woongarra Scrub. The owners of the big estates there went insolvent. The estates have been cut up, and small, men introduced into the industry are carrying on the work with the assistance of their families and the white labour to be had in the district.


Senator Fraser - Small men are bound to be more successful.


Senator TURLEY - Is not that the policy which the honorable senator desires in connexion with this industry?


Senator Fraser - If it is to be carried on by white labour, certainly.


Senator TURLEY - Most decidedly it is to be carried on by white labour. Senator Fraser must admit that the majority of the people of Victoria would sanction a policy which would result in the cutting up of big estates. That is the very thing they are wanting in this State itself. That is the tendency which has been operating in Queensland for a number of years. When the Woongarra Scrub was held by a small number of men they were unable to keep the industry going.


Senator Fraser - Because they could not get labour.


Senator TURLEY - The honorable senator does not know what he is talking about. There were thousands of kanakas to be had at that time. That was in the " black-birding " days, of which the honorable senator has no doubt heard - when it did not matter under what conditions the kanaka was caught, he was worth so much per head when brought to Queensland. In . one year thousands of coloured aliens were landed in Queensland, independently of the supply from the South Sea Islands.


Senator Fraser - I was talking of a few years ago.


Senator TURLEY - The honorable senator was talking of a time when the Woongarra Scrub was in the hands of four or five planters, and at that time any quantity of coloured labour could be got, there and in the Mackay district as well. Let me ask Senator Fraser when the sugar industry was more successful than it is now?


Senator Fraser - It was most successful under the State.


Senator TURLEY - The honorable senator ought to have been aware that that is not a fact. There were thousands of pounds invested in the industry, and lost.


Senator Fraser - That was during the crisis.


Senator TURLEY - There was no crisis at all in the industry.


Senator Fraser - Does the honorable senator say that there was no crisis in the sugar industry?


Senator TURLEY - There was no crisis in the industry in the way the honorable senator suggests. The large amount of money was put into the industry when coloured labour could be got in any quantity. Vessels were going regularly to the South Sea Islands, and the recruiters were paid so much per head for all the darkies they could bring back. Coloured labour was poured into the industry, and the revelations which followed the failure of the banks in. 1893 showed the enormous sums of money that had been advanced to try to keep the people then concerned in the industry going. There was absolutely no crisis in the industry, but it was carried on in such a way that it was impossible for it to pay. If Senator Fraser took up 500 square miles of the country outside Melbourne at the present time, and paid the price he would have to pay for it, he could never make it pay by running sheep on it. He would have to pour money into it every year to keep going, even though he could get the cheapest labour on the face of the globe to work it. Exactly in the same way, when this industry was being carried on by a few people cultivating large areas, it could not be made to pay. Now that men have gone into the industry who are cultivating small holdings, and working it more intelligently, and now that a greater number have interests at stake in its success, the industry has paid. When I hear the references to the fact that Chinese and other aliens are going into the industry, I remind honorable senators that Victoria would be prepared to pay almost any price to get all the Chinese in this State out of it, because thev know that their removal would give employment to the white men who would fill their places. If there is one argument which, more than another, should induce honorable senators to oppose the amendment proposed by Senator. O'Keefe, it is that Chinese and1 other coloured aliens are finding their way from the Northern Territory, from New South Wales, and from Victoria, into the sugar industry in North Queensland. That should be a reason for declining to reduce the protection to white growers, because it is necessary to enable them to compete with the coloured aliens who are going into the industry.


Senator Millen - Can the honorable senator say how long it would be necessary for the Commonwealth to subsidize the industry on a white basis, before it would be able to maintain itself?


Senator TURLEY - I do not believe that it would be very long.


Senator Mulcahy - There are no signs in this Bill of any termination to the period during which the bonus will be necessary.


Senator TURLEY - I admit that, but I point out that when we began to legislate against alien labour in Queensland, and restrictions were imposed upon the recruiting system, so that the planters could not get kanakas as easily as they were able to obtain them before, the game they played was to bring out large numbers of Hindoos. I believe we have been successful in stopping that practice. With respect to those aliens, a number are leaving the C6mmonwealth annually, we lose many from death and other causes, and the total number is being gradually reduced every year.


Senator Playford - And the kanaka is soon to be deported.


Senator TURLEY - I am referring particularly to Chinese, Hindoos, and Malays. Very few of those people are married. They leave no families after them, those who are here are getting old, many leave every year for their own country, death and other causes account for more, and the total number is being gradually reduced.


Senator Gray - Can the honorable senator say when he thinks it will be possible to discontinue the bonus?


Senator TURLEY - I could not tell the honorable senator. I could make only a guess, as the Minister has done this morning in the statistics that he has submitted. The honorable senator has submitted figures showing that in three years' time, it is estimated that we shall be producing so many hundreds of thousands of tons of sugar, when we know that if a drought occurs we shall not produce one-twentieth of the estimate. We have seen slumps in the sugar industry before to-day, and everything depends upon the seasons.


Senator Mulcahy - Are we going to give the bonus because of the drought?


Senator TURLEY - I do not contend that we are; but it has been pointed out that the revenue will be decreased because there will be so many more tons of sugar produced by whilte labour.


Senator Millen - Why does not the honorable senator give a simple answer to a simple question. We have nothing to do with the revenue. The question is, " When the honorable senator thinks that the industry will be able to stand in Queensland without the bonus?"


Senator Givens - I hope that we shall always have protection for every industry in the Commonwealth.


Senator TURLEY - I can only say that every year a larger number of white men are going into the sugar industry, especially in the southern part of the State.


Senator Millen - With: the bonus.


Senator TURLEY - They were doing so without the bonus. A few years ago it was declared that it was impossible to grow sugar, even in Southern Queensland, without coloured labour. I remember the time when the coloured alien was going over the border into New South. Wales. New South Wales planters were holding out every inducement to time-expired boys - "ticket bovs," as they were called - to go to work in the Richmond and Clarence River districts. They subsequently found that they could do without them. The line above which coloured labourers are employed in this industry has been continually shifting north. It was thought at one time that sugar could not be grown on the Logan bywhite labour, and I suppose that to-day it would be impossible to find a single kanaka or other coloured alien engaged in the production of sugar in the Logan district. White farmers are now carrying on the industry with the aid of their own families.

SenatorFraser. - But that is in the cooler districts.


Senator TURLEY - I am pointing out that the line above which coloured aliens are employed in the industry has been continually receding further north. Coloured labour was almost exclusively employed in the Bundaberg and Isis districts, and today we find large numbers of white men unable to find employment in those districts, even when the sugar season is at its height. I can assure honorable senators that white men, accustomed to the work of the industry in the Bundaberg, have formed gangs of their own to work in the industry in the north, and they have the record for canecutting. Those by whom they were employed in the north were so satisfied that men accustomed to the industry gave them greater satisfaction than they could have got from the employment of any coloured labour, that if they could secure that class of labour in the future, they would welcome the time when the coloured man would be pushed out of the industry altogether. Senator de Largie has said that the Government are to blame for not bringing this measure in earlier. I wish they had introduced it earlier. But the honorable senator reasoned from that that it would be better to allow this legislation to stand over until the next session. Any one who argues in that way can know nothing about the conditions of the industry. One would think that it is possible to throw down a few shoots of cane and have a crop in . six months. This legislation must be passed this session, for the reason that the men who desire to register their land for the bounty must know whether they will ge't the bonus in 1907. If .this legislation is not passed now, no more land will be put under sugar than can be avoided, whereas, if growers are assured that they will obtain the bonus in 1907, they will register their land, plough it, and put it under crop. Honorable senators must remember that after the land is sown, the grower cannot hope for any return from it for at least eighteen months, and if he is not favoured with a fairly good season, he may have lost a lot of "standover " cane, which cannot be cut for two years. That is the answer to Senator de Largie's statement that it is not necessary to pass this legislation this year. In some cases, men have cultivated land and sown the seed, but have not been able to cut a stick of cane for two years and a half. Will men be induced to extend the cultivation of sugar by white labour unless, this Bill be passed? As soon as it was passed, the growers would" be able to register the land which they intended to crop in 1 907, and they would employ nothing but white labour. Sugar-growing is, different from wheat-growing, because in the latter case one can get a crop within five or six months from the sowing of the seed. Those who intend to support the amendment- of Senator O'Keefe will take away from the white grower the protection which the legislation has afforded him, in comparison with the grower who uses coloured labour. To pass the amendment as it is, even though the Excise Bill bc amended, in the same direction., means to take away so much protection as in three or four years to bring the white grower down to the same level as. the user of coloured labour.







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