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Wednesday, 6 December 1905
Page: 6359


Mr GLYNN (Angas) - I regret that this is a mere pretence at granting a concession to the reasonable request of a friendly, not to say an allied power. I cannot conceive how the Japanese Consul could have agreed to the Bill as proposed to be amended. I think that the Prime Minister mentioned that the Bill had been submitted to the Japanese Consul.


Mr Deakin - No : not a word of it. I said that I had informed him what was my intention in the matter.


Mr GLYNN - That declaration of intention did not include the amendments now submitted?


Mr Deakin - Either would carry out what I stated.


Mr GLYNN - Are we to infer that the Bill, as proposed to be amendedby the Prime Minister, will receive the acquiescence - if I may use such a; word in this relation- of the Japanese nation? I cannot conceive that the Japanese, when 'they ask that the differentiation against colour, which is implied in the Bill, shall be removed* will regard the proposal as satisfactory. They do not ask for any alteration of policy. If we remove the word " European " from the original Act, they do not wish us to prescribe the Japanese language as a test for a Japanese immigrant. They simply wish us to refrain from differentiating on the face of our law between colour and colour. The reasonable remonstrance made bv a friendly power has not led tb such a change of policy as might have been naturally expected. We are going to do nothing, except vary a word which will not affect any change of substance in our legislation. The word " European " will remain in the regulation as submitted to the Parliament, and that regulation is not to have the force of law, if a motion is tabled in either House against it, until that motion has been disposed of. That is a shifting of responsibility on the part of this Parliament. We are asked to declare a policy. We refuse to do so, but say that we will place it in the power of some other Parliament to do that which apparently Ministers are afraid to initiate. When the honorable member for Parramatta said that the Ministry were not acting in accordance with that sense of responsibility that ought to characterize a Government, he doubtless had in mind the lack of initiative which they have displayed in this connexion. The alteration is either a good or a bad one, and why should we wait to ascertain what language ought to be prescribed? If there is to be an alteration of the language test, the Ministry should have decided before this what that alteration is to be. The test must be either one in a specific language for each immigrant, or one selected according to race or nation. I fail to see how the Ministry are likely to come to a decision on that point upon facts that are not now within their knowledge. We are in possession of all "the facts necessary to enable us to determine what words should be inserted in lieu of the word " European." Delay will not give us any guidance that is not now accessible to us. That being so, I fail to see why we should leave until next session the determination of what word is to be substituted for the word " European " in the original Act. As the honorable member for Parramatta has pointed out, the Ministry are merely shelving their responsibility by saying that they are unable to give the House any guidance at the present moment, but that they will do something during the recess, and next session bring forward a proposal, which, perhaps, will never attain the force of law. If that be so,, we are only making a pretence of conceding something to a reasonable remonstrance. The case of Ah Toy v. Musgrove decided that an alien cannot land here if we wish to prevent him. It decided that an alien, who is prevented from landing, cannot bring an action for assault, because he has no right to insist upon entrance to the British Empire. But in the House of Lords' decision it was declared that, although an alien had no strict legal right to como in, the refusal of that right to any reasonable number would justify a remonstrance on the part of a power friendly to the nation concerned. It was held that, as long as there was no prohibitive legislation on the statute-book, the preventing of an alien from landing, merely by the exercise of territorial rights, would be an unfriendly exercise of suzerainty on the part of any particular power. Recognising that there are some rules as to the comity of nations morally obligatory on the powers, Japan has appealed to us to remove the stigma against coloured races, and the Japanese in particular, which is cast bv the differentiation in the language test. But we are not proposing to give effect to that request.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Under the Government proposal, an alteration can be made only as the result of an angry party debate.


Mr GLYNN - Why should we postpone dealing with the matter? If this amendment were not inserted, the moment that the proposed regulation was framed it would become law. A substantial concession would thus be made. Under the Acts Interpretation Act 1904, a regulation becomes law as soon as it is notified in the Gazette. That Act contains a provision under which either House of the Parliament may pass a resolution, of which notice is given within fifteen days after a regulation has been placed on the table disallowing that regulation. But that is an altogether different state of affairs from that which will ensue from the adoption of this amendment, because under it the regulation- will not come into force until Parliament acts.. I use the word "Parliament," because one House cannot say that the regulation shall come into force, but one will be able to say that it shall not. We are, therefore, proposing to take it out of the power of the House of Representatives to say whether or not the proposed regulation shall become law, and are giving the Senate power to block the intention of this House, if it is its intention to make the new test law. A small body in another place could obstruct business, and so frustrate any policy adopted by this House in connexion with the request of Japan. In the circumstances, the way in which the honorable member for Parramatta characterized the inaction of the Ministry was perfectly justified. I fail to see what will be accomplished by the amendment. Under it the regulation is not to become law until a motion objecting to it, which is tabled in either House, is disposed of. If no motion is tabled within thirty days, of course it may become law. That does not fit in with the Acts Interpretation Act, which provides that a resolution shall be tabled within fifteen days. I fail to see why we should be always varying the general provision made in that' Act. If a motion be tabled in opposition to the regulation, as I have said, it is not to become law until that motion is disposed of. Does that mean that if the motion be adopted the regulation is nevertheless to be 'enforced? It reads as if that were the intention. A motion is " disposed of " whether it be negatived or affirmed. The draftsman appears to have been in such a hurry to vary the policy of this Bill that he was not particular as to the words he employed. The effect of the amendment will be that,, if a motion be tabled to disallow the regulation, that regulation will become law as soon as the motion has been disposed of. Another point1- worthy of consideration is that we ought to amend the law regarding the rejection or adoption of regulations. If the regulation prescribed a particular language, the House under the present law would have to accept or reject it. It could not vary it, although an alteration could be made in the Bill itself. If we adopt the Ministerial proposal we shall take it out of our power to amend what we substitute for the words used in the original Act. The regulation may prescribe the Japanese language, or it may even prescribe Esperanto, which would not affect1 the question of colour, or anything else. The upshot of the whole matter is that in proposing to place_ on the statute-book a pretended concession, we are not acting in accordance with' the high sense of honour which ought to characterize dealing with the relations of nations. In addition to that, the Ministry are not exercising that responsibility which should be incumbent upon those controlling a majority of the House. To put it shortly, the House is to some extent tying up its own powers. Although' it has as much information in its possession as it will have six months hence, it is not taking the responsibility of inserting in the Bill some practical words, but is proposing to deal with the matter in a way that is less satisfactory, because we cannot amend the proposed regulation. In the circumstances, I think it would be well for the Committee to act upon the suggestion, made by the honorable member for Parramatta, and to reject the amendment.







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