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Friday, 4 October 1912

Senator ST LEDGER (Queensland) . - I understand fairly well what Asia is, and the boundaries of Asia; but I do not understand, except in a general way, what " Asiatic " means. There is a clear distinction between the term " Asia " and the term "Asiatic" applied in connexion with Asia. Everybody born in Asia is not an Asiatic, and every Asiatic is not born in Asia.

Senator McGregor - Does the honorable senator want to block the Bill passing today ?

Senator ST LEDGER - After the criticism that was administered over and over again from the other side, why should I be in a hurry to allow this Bill to go through ?

Senator McGregor - Say so.

Senator ST LEDGER - No, I shall say what I choose, subject to the Standing Orders. Honorable senators on the other side have misused their power by misrepresentations of the grossest character, and that is a reason why we should analyze every line of the Bill. There is a difference between " Asia " used as a geographical term and "Asiatic used as a personal term, either directly or indirectly, in connexion with the word " Asia." Not everybody who is bom in Asia is an Asiatic, and vice versa. What, then, is the meaning of the word " Asiatic " ? From the explanation I have just given, everybody can understand the force of my remark, and I hope that the Committee will not allow the Bill to go through until we know exactly what this term means. If it means a person horn in Asia for the' purposes of this Bill, why will not the Minister say so, and, if it does not mean that, what on earth does it mean ?

Senator McGregor - I have said so.

Senator ST LEDGER - We do not want to know what it does not mean, because that does not help us. We want to know what it does mean. We ought not to allow the Bill to go through on the assumption that it does not mean this or that or anything else. We should only allow a Bill to pass from the Chamber when we thoroughly understand what the terms used in it do mean. " Asiatic " is a term which is capable of many interpretations. When we ask the Minister what does " Asiatic " mean, what do we get from him?

Senator McGregor - I shall tell the honorable senator if he will give me an opportunity.

Senator ST LEDGER - I will.

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