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Monday, 18 December 1905

Senator DE LARGIE (Western Australia) - I feel confident that this amendment will meet with the approval of the Queensland senators. It goes without saying that the men employed in this industry have not hitherto 'received that fair play to which they are entitled. The rates of wages and other conditions in the suga'r industry are not equalled in any industry in any other part of Australia ; but on this point I need not repeat the observations I have previously made. However, in reply to some honorable senators opposite, I should like to refer to the question of the fitness of white men to engage in this industry. To any one who has been on the spot, there can be no doubt on the point. In other industries elsewhere, much more laborious work, under more adverse circumstances, is performed by white men.

Senator Dobson - I hardly think this question is before the Chair.

Senator DE LARGIE - In my opinion, the clause opens up the whole question of the fitness of white men for this work, and I desire to expose the fallacies which have been presented by honorable senators opposite. As testimony on this point, I refer honorable senators to a report of a White Labour Conference held in February of this year, and attended by representatives of the cane-cutters and other associations interested. One speaker after another bore testimony as to the suitability of the industry for white men, as compared with other classes of work. All kinds of crocodile sympathy is extended to the men engaged in the cane-fields, but there seems no disposition on the part of honorable senators opposite to render any assistance in this connexion.

Senator Mulcahy - Why cannot the honorable senator speak without being offensive ?

Senator DE LARGIE - I regard the remark of Senator Mulcahy as offensive, and request that it be withdrawn.

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