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Wednesday, 6 December 1905
Page: 6365

The CHAIRMAN - Order ! The honorable and learned member is now proceeding to discuss the clause. The question before the Chair is an amendment in favour of adding certain words to it.

Mr HUGHES - I apprehend that the whole thing turns upon whether the clause as it has been amended should be agreed to.

Mr Deakin - Not yet. It isonly proposed to add certain words now.

The CHAIRMAN - The words to be added practically mean that certain regulations shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament.

Mr HUGHES - Thequestion immediately under consideration is whether Parliament shall be afforded an opportunity of approving of the language in which the test shall be made. It appears to me that Parliament should not be asked to do that. It is not the proper body to do it. Either the Government proposal is intended to benefit one particular nation - the Japanese - or it is not. If it is so intended, the test ought to be made in Japanese. But if that be not its object, the immigrant should be examined either in any Asiatic or European language which may be prescribed The regulations dealing with this matter will require to lie upon the table of the House for thirty days. During that interval Parliament may do what it pleases. What can it do? It may be said that some immigrants are likely to arrive from Japan, or Java, or the MalayArchipelago, or Syria, or China, and Parliament may be at once asked to prescribe such a test as will exclude them. If it prescribed a test in any Asiatic language it would stultify itself, and the whole of this legislation would become null and void, because the education test will either be used to exclude every person to whom it is applied, or it will not. If it will admit them it is of no use. The test has heretofore been used only to exclude every person to whom it is applied. To put a test in Greek to a Portuguese would be to exclude him. This weapon was provided to please the Home Government. Rather than place in the original Bill a direct prohibition of certain Eastern peoples it was desired to have regard for their feelings by introducing the educational test. It is now proposed to admit certain persons - say the Japanese. We are going to put them On a footing with Europeans and other persons to whom the test has never been applied, except with the direct intention of excluding them. If we are not going to depart entirely from the principle, an Asiatic language is to be provided for in order to exclude these Eastern people. If they are to come in, let them' come ; but do not let us pretend to allow them to come in. If, under the amending Bill, the same instructions are given to the officers as are now conveyed to them, no Japanese, Chinese, or other Asiatics, will ever succeed in landing in Australia by reason of this amendment, because the test can be put in such a way as to exclude every one cf them. It is proposed to amend the law, so we understand, to enable the Japanese or others to some in. What is the reason for this?

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Minister says that the amendment is designed to keep them out.

Mr HUGHES - They are already kept out under the existing system, and their position will not be improved by the putting of the test in any Asiatic language. The test might be put in a dialect of Northern China to a Chinese from the south, i;i Hindustani to a Japanese, in Japanese to a Hindoo, and in Malay to a Javanese. I, therefore, wish to know whether the Prime Minister proposes to apply this test in future upon a principle different from that which has hitherto been observed. It would be much better to provide that the test may be put in any language. All persons would then be treated alike, and those whom we wished to admit would be allowed to come in. If that course were adopted, the responsibility would be placed upon the shoulders of the Ministry. No Minister can remain in power without a majority at his back, and therefore to ask the majority in Parliament to decide what shall be the test prescribed, when the Minister prescribing it would be governed by exactly the same majority in Parliament, is only to do by a roundabout way that which ought to be accomplished by Executive authority. Unless there is some good reason for this proposal, I should prefer to strike, out all reference to a particular language, and so ^prevent Parliament being asked to interfere in a matter which is purely the function of the Executive.

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