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Monday, 18 December 1905

Senator STEWART (Queensland) - It is a pity that honorable senators have not considered, as I think they ought, the exceptional circumstances of this industry. One of the first acts of the Federal Parliament - an act which I think almost every man in Australia agreed1 with - was to declare that this continent was not only to be reserved for the white man, but was to be purged of the black man. That was the policy distinctly laid down by the people and Parliament of Australia ; and the measure we are now considering is brought forward with that end in view. This industry was founded with black labour, and has existed for a period of thirty years. At the inauguration of Federation we proposed to remedy the evil of black labour, and, simply because our efforts have not been crowned with success in the short period of four years, there seems a disposition to abandon the attempt in despair. If a man, by a course of dissipation, reduced himself to a condition of ill -health, would he expect, when he called in a physician, to be immediately told to take up his bed andwalk?'

Senator de Largie - If he were ill for four years, he would think that he might as well be dead.

Senator STEWART - I do not think thafhe would. I remind Senator de Largie that the age of miracles is passed. We cannot cure a nation of a serious industrial and social disorder in a few years any more than we can cure an individual of a serious disease in a few weeks or months. The thing must be done patiently, gradually, and in a spirit of self-sacrifice.

SenatorMillen. - How did they propose to cure it in Queensland?

Senator STEWART - I am very glad that Senator Millen has asked the question. We proposed to do it in exactly the way in which it is being done now. There was no otherway open to us. that I can see. The moment the people of Queensland had found themselves in a position to purge themselves of this evil, they would have done so.

Senator Millen - By means of a bounty ?

Senator STEWART - Yes ; I know of no other method that could be adopted. In any case, the control of the matter has passed away from Queensland entirely, and is now in the hands of the Commonwealth. I wish to point out to Senator O' Keefe that he is In this position : Either he is not conscious of the way his amendment is leading him; or, being conscious of it, he is deliberately taking a step which is out of line with the taxation policy of the party to which he belongs. I do not think that the Labour Party ever contemplated that sugar should be regarded as a subject for revenue taxation. I do not believe in taxing a man's tea, sugar, or tobacco. I do not think that taxation should be imposed upon individuals because of what they eat, drink, smoke, or wear, but for other reasons altogether. Senator O'Keefe proposes to increase . the revenue from, sugar - and why? The honorable senator says that his constituents feel this burden tremendously, but he does not propose to reduce the burden so far as they are concerned. All that he proposes to do is to divert a certain amount of money from the people of Queensland engaged in the production of sugar into the Tasmanian Treasury. In other words, the honorable senator objects to pay for carrying out the policy of a White Australia. The honorable senator believes that by diverting the money into the Tasmanian Treasury he will save the taxpayers of Tasmania. Whom will he save? Not the poor working man, who will pay as much for his sugar as before, but the land monopolist, the property owner, and the rich man of Tasmania. I am sure that if Senator O'Keefe considered the effect of his amendment for a moment, he would abandon it at once. To carry out our ideal of a White Australia, 'and in doing so to create an important industry in the tropical parts of this country, and people that portion of Australia with white men, is surely of more consequence and more patriotic than to save the skin of the Tasmanian, Victorian, New South Wales, or Western Australian land monopolist?

Senator Millen - Is the honorable senator advocating this Bill as a means of imposing taxation on landlords?

Senator STEWART - I advocate it as a dart of a complete policy. Looking at the question from that point of view, I am astonished that any Honorable senator belonging to the party with which I am associated, and subscribing to the platform promulgated by that party, should think of supporting the amendment suggested by Senator' O'Keefe.

Senator Gray - Does the honorable senator suggest that this should be a permanent tax?

Senator STEWART - I do not. I have asked labour members of "the Committee how they, can support the amendment suggested by Senator O'Keefe having the consequences I have enumerated in view. These are not called up out of the depths of my own imagination. I have stated a living actual fact. If the amendment is carried, and the policy it involves becomes the settled law of the country, we shall immediately have an increase of revenue from sugar, and less need' for the imposition of direct taxation. So that on the one hand we shall be attacking the policy of a White Australia, and on the other bolstering up land and other monopolists.

Senator Pearce - There will be an increase of revenue under the Government proposal.

Senator STEWART - I am aware of that, and I am very sorry for it. That is the blemish I find in the Bill ; but, as all legislation is a matter of compromise, I am compelled, against my will, to accept the Government proposal as the best that can be brought forward in the circumstances. I ask protectionists in this Chamber, and there are a number of them, how they can support this proposal. Do they mean to impose a duty of j£6 per ton on sugar, and then levy an Excise duty of £4, for the purpose of getting revenue? Is it the policy of a true protectionist to impose taxation for revenue purposes ? I ' always understood that protective duties were imposed for the purpose of creating industries. We have heard a great deal about the burden that the sugar industry imposes upon Australia, but I may say that the protectionist has a clear method of reform before Gim. If he thinks the duty is too high,, he can move for its reduction, and abolish the Excise altogether. Then I turn to the free-trader. How can he support a policy of this kind, which, on the one hand, goes " the whole hog " in the direction of protection, and, on the other, "the whole hog " in the direction of revenue? By doing so, he simply declares himself as a rank revenue tariffist. In the circumstances.. I do not see how any section of the Committee can consistently support the amendment suggested by Senator O'Keefe. We are told1 that we have a large number of coloured aliens in Australia, Chinese, Japanese, and all the other " ese." I am prepared to persue to the bitter end the policy of excluding these coloured people from every industry in the Commonwealth. I not only desire that they should be excluded from the sugar industry in Northern Queensland, but also from the furniture industry in Melbourne. Instead of abandoning our policy, so far as one industry is concerned, because we cannot reap the harvest in five minutes, let us add to it other industries until we have wrested every industry in "the Commonwealth from the grasp of these people.

The CHAIRMAN - Is this by way of illustration?

Senator STEWART - Other honorable senators have referred to this aspect of the question at length, and I thought that probably I might be pardoned if I did the same. I believe that Senator Pearce has referred to the fact that Chinese are not permitted to engage in the gold mining industry in Western Australia, but I think the people of the West had the miners of the East of Australia to thank for that state of affairs. I know that in Queensland a very stiff battle was fought for two or three decades against the Chinese being permitted to engage, in mining. Our friends in the West have benefited to some extent by the feeling created in the minds of miners all over the Commonwealth by the action of those in Queensland.

Senator de Largie - How has the action of the East benefited the West in any way? Where is the legislation of the East that has kept the Chinese out of the gold-fields of the West?

Senator STEWART - I say that the sen;timent created by the action taken by miners in the East may have largely influenced the legislation of the West.

Senator de Largie - Is there a law in Queensland excluding the Chinese from the mining industry ?

Senator STEWART - Yes, there is. They cannot go on to a gold-field until it has been opened for a certain number of years. If I had my way, I should exclude them from the gold-fields altogether, but Senator de Largie must remember that in Queensland we were for a very long time in the position in which he and his friends found themselves in the West. We had a conservative Government in power, and could not go any further in this direction than that Government was prepared to allow. I have no wish to labour the question, but I hope that honorable senators will take a broad and enlightened view of it, and will not view it merely as something that Queensland is going to get. If it affected any other State in the way in which' it will affect Queensland, I should take exactly the same view of the question. I ask my honorable friends of the Labour Party to consider seriously the step they propose to take in view of the remarks I have made on the taxation question.

Senator O'KEEFE(Tasmania).- There has been a very long debate on the amendment I have suggested, and I should like to make a few remarks in reply. I have every sympathy with the sugar industry, and if I thought that I were taking any step to retard its development or injure it in any way I should not proceed with my amendment. Our legislation provides that 1 the kanakas must go at the end of a certain term, but those who oppose my amendment say that their places will be taken by aliens of other races who are already in the Commonwealth. If that be so it will be a bad thing for the portions of Queensland where aliens will be competing with white men. All through Australia there are places where aliens of other races against whom we are not legislating are competing with white men in certain industries. The Chinese, for instance, are competing against white cabinet makers and white gardeners. Ih this State I am sorry to say, as well as in the others, Chinese and aliens, mostly Chinese, are taking the bread out of the mouths of laundresses. I understand, on fair authority,, that in. I believe, the north-western district of Victoria, there are, or recently were,. a number of Hindoos engaged in the oniongrowing industry in competition with European farm, labourers. In the north-eastern portion of Tasmania: there are 200 or 30c* Chinese who are competing against white miners, and incidentally reducing their earning power. I wish that the Parliament of every State would so legislate that Chinese and other cheap aliens who lower the standard of living for white men would not be allowed to compete against Europeans and their descendants. I was one of those who assisted to get the White Australia policy enacted. On the night before tHe referendum was taken, I heard Senator Givens beseech the people of Cairns to vote, and the chief reason for asking his audience to accept the Constitution Bill was because he said it would take out oT the hands of the State Parliament the power to deal with alien immigration, or, as it particularly affected them, with the kanaka question, but I did not hear him refer to a bonus, or say that probably the Federal Parliament would pay a bonus for almost an indefinite period.

Senator DAWSON (QUEENSLAND) - Can the honorable senator suggest a better system?

Senator O'KEEFE - It is a very good " system ; but those in whose interests it was enacted have not reciprocated as they should have done. What is the present position? The planters are clearly saying to the Parliament : " You have declared for a White

Australia; you have decreed that the kanakas shall go, and either you must continue to pay us a bonus for another term of years, or we shall frustrate your White Australia legislation by employing, instead Of kanakas, all aliens df other races who are already within the Commonwealth." That is the position, and it is not 'a fair one in which to place the representatives of other States. What, arguments were addressed to -the Senate in the first Parliament by those who were opposed to the abolition of kanakas? It was argued here, as well as in the press, that the sugar industry was a coloured labour industry, and could not be worked with white men.

Senator DAWSON (QUEENSLAND) - The honorable senator did not believe that?

Senator O'KEEFE - I did not.

Senator DAWSON (QUEENSLAND) - Does the honorable senator believe it now?

Senator O'KEEFE - No; and the action I am taking shows that I do not. The effort to continue the bonus for a period of five years simply strengthens the position taken up by those who opposed1 the abolition of the kanakas. The effect of this measure, ff passed, will be to make it appear that this is not a white man's industry, and cannot stand without the aid of a continuous bonus. I sincerely hope that if the representatives of Queensland will look at the question in that light. It is ali very well for Senator Stewart to talk about members of the Labour Party taking a peculiar stand; but this will be a burning question in several States, so long as we do not commence to discontinue the bonus or name a period at which it shall begin to disappear. The argument is used by the supporters of alien labour that this, is not a white man's industry, that it will continue to cost the Commonwealth an enormous sum in order to make it a white man's industry, and, consequently, that we were wrong when we said that the plantations could be cultivated by means of white, labour. We framed our legislation in a generous spirit, and if my amendment to continue the bonus for two years from the present date, and thereafter for four years, but to diminish by 20 per cent, each year, be carried, I believe we shall have treated the sugar industry very generously.

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