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Thursday, 17 November 1910

Senator O'KEEFE (Tasmania) . - This motion is not without a precedent. The only objection which has been urged to it by honorable senators opposite is that the Commonwealth Parliament has no right to interfere in the affairs of other countries. Senator Gould characterized the motion as a piece of impertinence. But I would ask him, and also Senator Walker, to recollect what occurred a few years ago when a somewhat similar proposal was before this Parliament. The cry was then raised that its opinion would be flouted. We were told that it would be an impertinence for the Commonwealth Parliament to gratuit ously offer its advice to the House of Commons. But we all recollect what followed. The advice which was given on that occasion was only a little ahead of its time. It related to a question which was of importance to the whole British race. It will be recollected that a certain course of action which had been taken in the interests of the South African mine-owners had been condoned by the British authorities. I refer to the permission which had been granted to hordes of Chinese to work in the Rand mines. This Federal Parliament, in its wisdom, sent a protest to the House of Commons against that action. We were then told that it was impertinence to do so. Senator Gould was a member of this august assemblage at that time. I also had the honour to be a member. Then, as to-night, those honorable senators who objected to the motion did not say that they were opposed to the principle; they said that they did not think that Chinese ought to be imported to take the place of white men in the South African mines ; but they disagreed with the principle of the Parliament of this young nation tendering advice to the mother of Parliaments. Was that action on our part considered impertinent by the British people? I do not think so. Only a little time after the advice was tendered, the resolution having been sent to England by the then Prime Minister, Mr. Deakin, those statesmen who were responsible for the importation of Chinese to South Africa were sent to the right about, and the policy with regard to the Chinese was entirely reversed. On that occasion, as I have shown, we took the step of tendering advice to the people of Great Britain. We may have been a little in advance of our time then. In this matter, also, we may be in advance of our time; but, nevertheless, we are justified in passing the motion ; and I have much pleasure in supporting it.

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