Cobber’s Morning Herald
March 1, 2021
OUR TRADITIONAL IMMIGRATION POLICY THREATENED.
In this pamphlet the Minister for Immigration, the Hon. Arthur A. Calwell, deals with recent attacks on Australia’s traditional policy of selective immigration, and exposes the motives of those who are most vocal in their efforts to weaken the administration of our immigration laws.
He describes the sickening brutalities perpetrated by the money-hungry exploiters of cheap labor in our early days before the passing of our restrictive immigration legislation. The chief opponents of our cherished immigration policy today are those same greedy interests which see selfish profit in the breaking down of this policy and the breaking down of hard-won industrial and living standards.
Where the Danger Lies
Generally, the greedy and reckless activities of unscrupulous, opportunist sections of the community can only endanger a country for a period. Public protest can right the wrong sooner or later, and the nation moves ahead once more, sadder and wiser for its experience.
Occasionally, however, the power-mad and money hungry groups can cause a disaster of such magnitude that its reverberations echo through history for generation after generation and alter the whole course of the country’s development. A bloody and ferocious civil war had to be fought to free the slaves in the United States of America. Even today, when that great nation has emerged as a world leader in humane international thought, and has offered aid on an unprecedented scale to the unfortunate peoples of the world, the problems set by the men who grew rich through slavery are the most difficult and dangerous in America’s otherwise happy and prosperous domestic setup.
I have no wish to criticise the United States here, and I do not believe that if we had been faced by their dreadful problem we would have handled it any better than they have done, but the facts are that slavery, though long abolished, has left behind it a frustrated and unhappy race of Negroes as a restless and resentful minority in a predominantly white community; that the southern States generally feel, rightly or wrongly, that they have been economically and politically dominated by the north ever since the civil war; and that the racial conflict, even in this day and age, still bursts to the surface occasionally in acts of such horrible brutality and intolerance that they shock people of good will in the United States and everywhere else.
Mere color of skin has assumed great importance in the United States because, for many generations those who defended slavery or near-slavery have preached a doctrine hinged to the alleged inherent inferiority of the Negro. But the conflict is, and always was, as much an economic as a racial one. In other parts of the world, hatred and bitterness have been engendered between races neither of which was of European origin. There is proof beyond a shadow of doubt that in no circumstances can races of widely differing cultures, living standards and degrees of civilisation live happily together. Domination and exploitation of the less powerful group is inevitable.
Dark rage and resentment smoulder in the souls of the more able and ambitious of the mistreated people, while the, meaner, greedier, and less intelligent of the exploiting class become arrogant, lazy and brutal.
The day of what is known in law as slavery is done. What may be known as economic slavery, the maintenance. In misery of pools of sweated, low-cost labor, which is technically free but is denied any opportunity of escape from poverty and toil, is slowly being driven out of the world. But those who profit from it, or would profit from it if they could get it, are fighting their losing battle with all the stilt-necked arrogance and ruthless rejection of humanity and decency that characterised their spiritual and often actual ancestors in the times when human beings were herded and flogged like cattle.
In Australia, of course, these vicious men face circumstances that are different to, and more difficult than those of, their counterparts in some unhappy countries where they have merely to defend the status quo. Thanks to the farsightedness and courage of Australian statesmen of an earlier age, they have been foiled once, and the people of this nation would reject them scornfully if they raised their voices aloud in opposition ‘to our selective immigration policy. They must approach the matter slyly, using innocent words like “modify” and “discretion” to hide their real desire to break down our policy until it becomes unworkable and collapses. They must, and do, make the maximum use of well-meaning but muddled sentimentalists, and of their own very willing mercenary, the reactionary and circulation-hungry, irresponsible monopoly Press of this land.
But sometimes, in careless moments or in the heat of debate, these people are indiscreet, and say things that indicate what they really want. Out of the pattern of such statements, together with the activities of the millionaire press and the rantings of the Communists, emerges an ugly and terrible picture. I am convinced that the threat to our immigration policy has been coldly and villainously planned, and is very real—real enough to demand awareness of it, and willingness to fight against it, on the part of every good Australian.
Should such schemers eventually succeed with their plans, the disaster would be one which would affect all the generations of unborn Australians Once the very character of this nation had been destroyed, no legislation could restore it. The ideals of equality of opportunity and fair treatment for the humblest worker on which our conception of democracy is built would be gone forever. Our forefathers, who pioneered this country and dreamed of its future greatness would have toiled in vain, and our children’s children, living in a land of oppression and hatred and fear, would remember us as the generation that gave away their birthright.
No good Australian of today has to be convinced that our immigration policy is sound, and designed to maintain a happy comradeship of free and equal people in Australia. The purpose of this pamphlet is not to convince my fellow countrymen of those indisputable facts. Its purpose is to warn them, to make them fully aware of a plot by crafty and powerful people to break down our immigration policy; to show them, as clearly as possible the danger ahead.
I cannot urge too strongly that this danger is not one that threatens a few troubled years, after which matters could be adjusted. It is the shadow of a cheap-labor system that would destroy our whole way of life, and bring to an end for ever all the bold and progressive social experiments we are proud to have made in Australia.
Who Are the Enemy?
As I have already stated, those who would like to break down our selective immigration policy are the people in our community who are concerned only with money and/or power for themselves. When that fact is remembered, it is not hard to understand why our enemies within are recruited from the extreme opposite poles of political thought.
The ultra-conservatives and land-barons would like vast pools of near-slave labor to make them richer; the Communists wish to bring about any condition of strife, poverty and mistrust in the community which would make good government more difficult, and therefore their struggle towards power easier.
The Communists base their appeals on the sympathy Australians feel for the poor and oppressed in backward countries. They preach equality, but ignore the fact that equality does not necessarily mean similarity, or the ability to live and work together. They talk cynically of relief and new opportunities for the suffering people of Asian lands, when they know very well that whatever small number of the needy millions could possibly be taken into Australia would have no significant effect on the Asian problem. They plead that these people should be offered a •better life, when there is evidence all over the world to prove that the introduction of large numbers of Asians into European communities inevitably offers them nothing but frustration and new sorts of misery.
In this particular matter, the super-capitalists are even less honest than the Communists. If they used the Communist arguments, or any direct arguments at all, their motives would be so obvious that the only public response would be an outburst of astonished laughter at their audacity. Except in unguarded moments when the truth sometimes bursts out of them, they have to pay lip service to the Australian policy, but they have developed a loathsome cunning in the arts of the saboteur and the wrecker. “We believe in the selective immigration policy, but…” is the way they approach the matter, though they know as well as I do that there can be no “huts” in connection with it at all. They strive to have “exceptions” made until the policy would become unworkable, and to have “discretion” exercised so indiscreetly that the basic principles of the policy would have to be abandoned.
The comparative few who consciously desire and actively work for the destruction of our immigration system have, unfortunately, many stooges who do their work for them, for reasons that range from the greedy villainy of some sections of the daily press to the muddleheaded sentimentality of certain well-intentioned bodies and individuals. In the parliamentary field there are men so little concerned with Australia’s future, and so eager for their own Immediate advancement, that they do not hesitate to trifle with this vital principle for the sake of some petty political advantage of the moment. The millionaire owners of most daily newspapers have mixed motives—greed for circulation that makes them ignore the public interest, hatred of the Labor Government that sees no embarrassing tactics as too dirty, a fawning respect for the moneybags that provide their big advertising revenue.
People of all these strange sorts, suspicious of each other and in disagreement on many subjects, have been welded into unity on this one matter. Some as political opportunists, some as paid mercenaries, some as bamboozled stooges, some as promoters of revolution, they are all out to sabotage and wreck the immigration policy which they cannot abolish by direct action.
These are the enemy, to be fought by all Australians who are proud of their country’s history and confident of its future.
The Bad Old Days
What is technically known as slavery was never practised in Australia, but before Federation and the establishment of the immigration policy which is now so much the object of crafty attacks, a system as inhumanly brutal as actual slavery existed here. It made vast fortunes for some people, notably in the sugar industry in Queensland, and it aroused such horror and indignation among the Australian people that it was torn out, root and branch.
Novels, mainly of the “penny dreadful” variety, have been written in abundance about the bloodthirsty and ferocious “Blackbirders” of the South Seas. These were the savage schooner captains who rounded up the innocent, carefree natives of the islands under the whip, rammed them like cargo into foul holds, and sailed them to the Queensland coast to be worked, starved, and beaten to death on the vast sugar-cane estates that are happily no longer an ugly art of the tropical Australian scene. If a gunboat intercepted these inhuman scoundrels, it was unlikely to find anything but innocent cargoes aboard their ships, for it was the blood—chilling habit of the times in such a crisis to throw the natives overboard in their chains, to sink without a trace.
It makes one sick to read of the callous cruelty of the Blackbirders, but they and their age must never be forgotten, or they and their age may come back.
This trade in Kanaka labor to Queensland began in 1863 and, cultivated by the big financial interests, developed rapidly. The Kanakas were brought in to do the heavy laboring work in tropical Queensland for which It was claimed that white men were not suitable, though they had done it previously and, of course, do it extensively and profitably today.
The system would have been sufficiently wicked under any conditions, but in their greed to cash in on the big profits to be made, the exploiters conducting the trade did not stop at any act, however foul. At the head of the Blackbirders, though not, of course, drawing the fat dividends that eventually came out of the whole vile scheme, was one Ross Lewin, described by Commodore Goodenough (the noted British mariner after whom Goodenough Island was named) as “the most cruel and unscrupulous man-stealer that ever came out of the Pacific.” When natives resisted Lewin, they were shot out of hand. In his pamphlet, “The Good Old Days,” the well-remembered Frank Anstey, brilliant and fearless propagandist and publicist, wrote:—
“In March, 1869, Captain Palmer seized the Daphne, the Challenger and the William and Julia, brought them to Australian ports, and charged their owners or captains or both with murder, slavery, kidnapping and cruelty, without getting a conviction on any one count. The Daphne (of Melbourne) was of 48 tons register, and was fitted up with leg-irons amid all the approved appliances of an African slave dhow. She had 120 men and women crammed in her hold. The space was so insufficient that it was only possible for a number to lie down if the others stood up, and all were very sick from standing or lying in their accumulated filth.
“Ross Lewin made overtures to the daughter of the chief of Tanna. She refused him. He therefore seized her. Her father rushed to save her and was killed. Lewin lashed her hands to a ringbolt, ravished her in the presence of 90 persons, black and white, and then threw the naked woman into his ship hold amongst a crowd of captive men from different isles.
“He was tried in Sydney and discharged.”
Such of the Kanakas as reached Australia had to work from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. for four pence a day. They were so ill-fed, ill-housed, ill-treated and over-worked that most of them died before the expiration of their “service.”
There were increasing protests by missionaries, and by workers who found themselves supplanted by the cheap labor, but for many years the financial interests behind the evil traffic were too powerful to be opposed successfully. The newspapers of the day apparently had much in common with those of our time, for Anstey wrote: “Newspapers were either silent, or apologists, or bold defenders of the trade.”
According to Frank Anstey, the supreme backer of the Queensland Kanaka traffic was the Colonial Sugar Company, and the tenacity of the too-rich in their determination to become even richer no matter what human misery results becomes evident when It Is revealed that when the Barton Government—our first Australian Federal Government—brought an end to the system in Australia, this concern merely shifted the scene of operations to Fiji. In this locale, as late as the second decade of this century, it used Indian coolies, and though the degree of brutality in recruitment could not quite reach the level of the Blackbirders, it is appalling to think of people being treated in modern times as these Indians were.
The Rev. Dr. J. W. Burton, who became general secretary of the Methodist Missionary Society of Australasia, did service as a missionary in Fiji during the period of indentured labor. In his book, “Fiji of Today,” he wrote:
“Because the native Fijians, living in prolific nature, did not require to work for wages, the sugar companies made experiments with races from other parts of the Pacific, but even these proved too costly for the economical spirit of capitalist enterprise, and so recruiters were sent to India.
“For five years these coolies were bond slaves, herded in compounds. It was the most degrading sight on earth. It was a human piggery; a cesspit of human obscenity.
“Men and women and children work under the task system. It is slavery in everything but name. The average wage is 1/- a day for men and 5 ½d. for women. Out of this they have to buy their clothing.”
This iniquitous system in British Fiji was not stamped out until 1921, and an investigation into the recruiting methods showed that atrocious frauds had been practised in luring Indians to Fiji. In 80 per cent, of cases some deceit had been practised by the recruiting agents. The agents were paid 45 rupees for a man, 55 rupees for a woman, In just the manner that had been one of the worst features of the old shave system.
During World War I the companies made an extra million of profit, mainly out of Indian labor, but not one penny was added to the wages of the near-slaves. “Speeding-up” was practised, overseers competing against each other, and a reduction of costs in one area being insisted on everywhere. This very last ounce of effort was got out of the coolies, often by brutal flogging.
The Government refused to recognise a marriage ceremony, and women were regarded as common property. Depravity was consequently rampant. The suicide rate was 20 times greater than in India, and the murder rate 80 times higher.
One of the most frightening factors connected with these ugly systems is that they happened in modern times —even up to 30 years ago. They cannot be dismissed as can examples of earlier slave trading, as merely evidence of the brutality of bygone ages, which man has long outgrown. It is true, of course, that “man’s inhumanity to man” has decreased through the generations, but there remains with us a class of person who would revert to any level of the cruelty of ancient days as long as to do so was profitable. Such people are restrained only by the law, not by instincts of generosity and decency, or belief in anything except their own ends. The proof in part is to be found above of the gloomy record of how they behaved in our very day, in places where there was no law to stop them.
Australia, of course, has firmer laws to prevent the exploitation of human beings than most other countries. The would-be sweat-shop millionaire and overlord of near-slaves lives a frustrated life in this country, but his way of thinking has not been altered. In industry he regards his human material as much the same as, say, the oil that lubricates his engines—it is valuable only when it is useful, and when it is worn out he will pour it into the gutter as readily as he does the oil. In the opening up and development of the land he is not concerned with the establishment and growth of prosperous, happy communities, but only with the acquisition anti exploitation of acres that will build his wealth.
The main laws that protect us from such exploiters are those under which our selective immigration policy is administered. There are many other safeguards, of course, to be found in the industrial laws of Australia, but industrial laws are only fully effective when the people in. industry are aware of them, determined to claim the rights available under them, and capable of effective action when they are evaded or abused. The men who want to smash our way of life know that the most effective first move would be to smash our immigration policy. Then they could flood the country with ignorant, uninformed laborers, with no knowledge of industrial laws or industrial history, no background except that of industrial near-slavery. Such peoples, with long histories of poverty and complete domination by their bosses, would be easy to handle, and suspicious and afraid of anyone who suggested to them industrial organisation and a bid for independence. They would be willing collaborators in the evasion and destruction of our industrial laws.
Just as the Kanakas were used to drive the independent, self-respecting workers out of Queensland, so would this flow of coolie labor drive the Australian unionists out of the industries they have built up. The only way to achieve that would be to break down the one big barrier erected by our farsighted forefathers and maintained unaltered since—the selective immigration policy. Efforts to do so have begun. They will not, succeed, but Australians must be aware of them, and oppose them wholeheartedly right from the start, so that they can do no damage at all.
Spirit of Blackbirders Lives On
The Blackbirders have gone, but their spirit lives on. The growth and development of Australia under Governments which have progressively become more and more democratic has been amazing; but, in terms of swiftly accumulated wealth for themselves and their class, it has not been fast enough for some people. Among the cattle kings and the sheep barons, the money lords and the princes of profits, there are many who resent the independence of the Australian working man. Industrial laws to protect the workers would not worry them for a moment if the workers were foolish enough to let themselves be bullied, but the Australian worker knows what he is entitled to, and insists upon getting it.
When the spiritual descendants of the Blackbirders turn their eyes to certain countries in which there is still coolie labor, they go green with envy. In those lands they see misery and hatred and violence. They see large communities still herded in compounds, living under State supervision, underpaid and overworked, and denied even the freedom to move more than a mile or two from the slum in which they live without somebody’s permission. In contrast to this unhappy multitude they see a swaggering and bruta1overseer class, lazy and arrogant, living better and with less exertion than their natural abilities would enable them to live elsewhere. They see the children of the overseer class brutalised and brought up in a tradition that widens the gap between human beings, builds up fears and hatreds, and ensures for the future nothing but degradation and horror.
Such a picture is revolting to you and to me, but it, is not to members of our over-privileged and would-be over-privileged classes. In such a society they see themselves as superior to even the whip-cracking, lazy, gin-drinking overseers. They see themselves, of course, as the owners of it all, reaping the rich rewards of exploitation, but not compelled too often to let their delicate noses go anywhere too near the filth. They see themselves as absentee-owners, keeping their wives in the best suburbs of the cities, and educating their children in select schools far from the brutalising influences that surround their labor-compounds and working gangs.
Nor does the picture cause anything but glee to the Communist. He would be right in the middle of the smells, sniffing them up eagerly because they are the smells of smouldering revolution. Just as the super-capitalists want terrified, unthinking fools to make up their labor forces, so the Communists want masses of people in the community who are the victims of oppression and are filled with hate. The capitalists, remote from the conditions they had created and were maintaining, would not be much worried about the future as long as their dividends continued to pour in. The overseers, like the Blackbirder skippers of the past, would give vent to their uneasiness in outbursts of brutality, and the Communists would be working for an awful day of reckoning—for violence to surge up against violence and bring an end to every sort of rational and progressive thinking, as well as to the progress made to date in remoulding our existing system.
Australian public thinking on such matters is as clear as daylight, but men who should be able to see this apparently do not. Even a philanthropist such as Sir William Angliss, Liberal Party member of the Victorian Legislative Council, who has made many generous benefactions, is hopelessly out of touch. He proved this when, in the Legislative Council of Victoria on June 2 of last year he said:—
“In the United States of America and in South Africa the availability of colored labor offers a solution at least in part,. of our industrial problem, and I am convinced that if northern Australia is to be developed properly, colored labor will have to be introduced.
“… I would therefore like to see introduced some form of indentured labor for the northern areas of Australia under conditions somewhat similar to those obtaining 60 or 70 years ago in Queensland for the opening up of the sugar cane growing areas.”
Sir William said that as recently as one year ago, and if you have read carefully on previous pages of this pamphlet a little about the “conditions that obtained (60 or 70 years ago in Queensland,” you are, no doubt, horrified that anyone should think that such a system could ever be introduced in Australia again, but Sir William Angliss is one who thinks so. All the brutalities described by the Rev. Dr. J. W. Burton, the late Frank Anstey and others have been lost on this wealthy and influential member of the Graziers’ Council of Australia, and of the antiquated and reactionary Upper House of the Parliament of his State.
Some people claim that racial equality means that one should not recognise any difference between the races. The Federal, Council of the Graziers’ Association, however, has no such naive belief. When it comes to their purpose, they differentiate strongly—in favor of Chinese!
Last year this association approached me because they wanted Chinese cooks for outback stations. I told them that they could not have Chinese cooks, as that would be against the policy of the country. Instead of accepting that as an administrative decision, they reported the matter to their Federal Convention, which met on July 1, 1948.
The “Sydney Morning Herald” reported that at the Convention members of the Council said that they would rather have Chinese cooks, but, as the Minister for Immigration would not agree to that, they were prepared to take Italians.
The reasons for that attitude are obvious. The graziers do not prefer Chinese cooks because they are better or cleaner cooks than Italians. They want them because there is a much better chance of getting a simple Chinese peasant to work long hours for low wages than there is in the case of a European, who soon learns what he is entitled to in this country. They want them because they would represent “the thin end of the wedge” In efforts to break down Australia’s selective immigration policy and Australian standards of living.
All this went without rebuke or repudiation by the Right Honorable Robert G. Menzies, Leader of the Federal Parliamentary Liberal Party (or should I say Liberal Country Party?) and Leader of the Federal Opposition. The incident is just one of many which prove that the Liberals pay mere lip service to Australia’s selective immigration policy, and that many of them desire the introduction of whatever near-slave labor is cheapest and can be used most effectively to break down Australia’s living standards.
After all, the fathers and grandfathers of some of these people were the ones who wanted to declare a separate republic In Queensland—what would have been virtually a slave republic—when time British Government sent a gunboat along the coast to put down the blackbirding traffic. Now, as then, all that such men are interested in are profits and bigger profits, fortunes for themselves and their families, without regard for the future of the nation or the miseries and tragedies of those they exploit.
Neither Mr. Menzies nor the Rt. Hon. A. W. Fadden, Country Party Leader, can be trusted on the White Australia policy because neither has had the courage to express disagreement with statements made by forces of reaction on the White Australia policy.
Among the spokesmen for these forces was Mr. E. S. Spooner, who was a Minister in the Menzies and Fadden Governments, and lost the Robertson seat in the Federal Parliament in time 1943 election. He advocates the quota system, and bias done the Liberal Party great harm by this and other views on the White Australia policy which no thinking Australian would support. Mr. Menzies has not even chided him, let alone repudiated him.
Less than two decades ago there was time Senator who had been Premier of South Australia—Sir Henry Barwell, whose views on the White Australia policy so outraged public opinion that he has become known as “Black Barwell.” His anti-White Australian views lost him no support in the ranks of the Philistines, but he finally disappeared from the Australian political scene because of a defeat occasioned by his opposition to Australia’s restricted immigration policy and his attempts to harm the sacred cause of White Australia.
Brides — Black, White or Brindle
Not everybody who would like to see our selective immigration policy go is quite as blunt about it as Sir William Angliss, but one reckless young man who sits in the Federal Parliament is noted for violent outbursts from the floor of time House and elsewhere. He is time Member for Henty (Mr. Gullett), and his comments from time to time leave no doubt as to where he stands in the matter of immigration. For instance, on the day before that chosen by Sir William Angliss for his astonishing outburst in the Victorian Legislative Council, Mr. Gullett was addressing the women’s section of time Darling-East Malvern branch of time Liberal Party. On the following day the “Sun News-Pictorial” reported his speech in part as follows:—
“Every Australian citizen should have the right of choice in marriage, be it black, white or brindle, Mr. Gullett said, criticising the Government’s foreign policy. They should have the right to bring the foreign bride or bridegroom to this country for assimilation into its domestic economy.”
In. the House, during the passage of the Bill to amend the Immigration Act, the Member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) interjected to endorse time strange sentiments of Mr. Gullett, and Mr. Menzies, as he did in the case of Sir William Angliss, maintained a discreet—or, maybe, an indiscreet—silence. Mr. Gullett and Mr. Spender are entitled to claim that their views are the views of the Liberal Party.
Opposition in Confusion
Recently, attacks on the Australian selective immigration policy made it necessary for me, as Minister for Immigration, to introduce in time House of Representatives two Bills dealing with our restrictive immigration policy.
The object of the first of these was to amend the existing immigration Act in such a way as to eliminate certain weaknesses in law, and to carry out the true intention of the men who, in our earliest Federal Parliament, framed the Act, and embodied in it time true wishes of the Australian people. These technical errors in drafting had been revealed in time course of a High Court action in what has come to be known as time O’Keefe case, and it was obvious that adjustment of matters for the future must be accompanied by provision to handle the current situation, or else the victory would go to the forces of defiance which had resisted the will of the Australian people. Because of this the second Bill, known as the War Time Refugees Removal Bill, was simply to give time Government power to repatriate to their own countries those few of our wartime guests who were unwilling to go.
The issues were clear-cut. Despite the earlier newspaper hullabaloo, and any sympathy which may be felt in individual cases, the rejection of the first piece of legislation would have rendered our selective immigration policy unworkable for evermore. The rejection of the second Bill alone would have admitted to permanent residence in this country the defiant and undesirable minority who had outstayed their welcome, while denying any consideration to the much better wartime refugees who had already thanked us for our hospitality in their time of danger, and gone back to their homes… The overwhelming majority of Australians would not think that any of their elected representatives could be found to vote against the measures, in the light of those facts.
However, during the parliamentary debates on the two Bills, we witnessed a situation which must surely be unique in Federal politics. The Leader of the Liberal Party—that Mr. Menzies who remains so silent when his followers recklessly express their true feeling on our policy —apparently decided that he, and he alone, could be trusted to make a speech. In fact, as he proceeded it was by no means certain that Mr. Menzies could even trust himself to so disguise the real intentions of the Liberal Party as to fool the people into believing that a Liberal Government could really be trusted to preserve our immigration policy. He went through all his manoeuvres of paying lip service to the policy while advocating recklessly ruinous exceptions, and the most indiscreet use of “discretion.”
The Deputy Leader of the Country Party, Mr. McEwen, was time sole official spokesman of his party on the two Bills, and he was so disingenuous as to remark:
“But I am not so sure that the legislation has not been framed and introduced in the hope and expectation that it will prove a trap for the Opposition.”
Time legislation was framed and introduced not as a trap for the Opposition, but to protect Australia from the forces they represent. It proved to be a trap for them, of a very effective character, but that was because of the tortuous state of their own minds, of their lack of true faith in the selective immigration policy and their fear of public reaction if they expressed what they thought and felt.
They were so scared of themselves that, for once, Mr. Menzies was able to assert his authority over his polyglot following in the Liberal and Country Parties. Only two others spoke in the second reading debate—the Member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), Whose contribution had no value, and the Member for Wimmera (Mr. Turnbull), who stumbled into the debate and emerged more bewildered than he had been when he entered it. The task of the Hansard reporters in making a coherent story out of Mr. Turnbull’s discursive and disconnected remarks was doubtless a difficult one.
All those who had attacked my administration during the recess, including Messrs, Gullet, Holt, White and Spender, obeyed the Party Whip, and preferred not to explain themselves before the Australian people on a measure which gave them ample opportunity of proving themselves sincere in support of Australia’s traditional immigration policy.
This unusual silence was not, of course, maintained in the matter of interjections, and from his seat instead of his feet Mr. Spender was as perky as usual. On one occasion he pleaded: “The Minister prevented me from speaking,” and Hansard reports the rest of the incident as follows:—
Mr. CALWELL: The honorable member refused to take his opportunity. It was a subterfuge to cover his failure to say inside the House what he had said outside it… The honorable member should not take refuge in silence. It has been said that silence is golden…
Mr. SPENDER: It is a pity that the Minister does not observe it.
Mr. CALWELL: But silence is sometimes yellow. That is the reply I make to the honorable Member for Warringah…
The answer I then make to Mr. Spender is the one I make to all my “silent” critics—so tactfully quiet when they may be heard by the Australian people in parliamentary broadcasts, but not so quiet in their own intimate circles, or when they can get the unscrupulous metropolitan daily Press to do their anti-Australian work for them.
The Liberal Party and the Country Party emerged from time debate on the Immigration Bills battered amid discredited. They would not support their de facto leader, the member for Reid (Mr. Lang) when he called for a division on time second reading of the Bill. When the Member for Bourke, Mrs. Blackburn, moved an amendment, neither Mr. Lang nor any member of the Opposition would help her call for a division on that issue either. To vote one way would have been to deny their true wishes and to displease their millionaire masters, and to vote the other way would have been to deny the lip-service they pay to the selective immigration policy.
After four and a half hours of debate on a question on which few members of time Australian public would think any debate at all would be necessary, I eventually compelled the Opposition to show their hand, and the Leader of time Opposition moved an amendment designed to break down our Australian selective immigration policy.
This was the “showdown,” and here is how members voted:—
FOR A WHITE AUSTRALIA: Barnard, H. C., Beazley, K. E., Brennan, F., Burke, T. P., Calwell, A. A., Chambers, C., Chifley, J. B., Clark, J. J., Conelan, W. P., Daly, F. M., Dedman, J. J., Drakeford, A. S., Duthie, G. W. A., Edmonds, F. W., Evatt, Dr. H. V., Falstein, S. M., Fraser, A. D., Haylen, L. C., Holloway, E. J., Johnson, H. V., Lemmon, N., McLeod, D., O’Connor, W. P., Pollard, R. T., Riordan, W. J. F., Russell, E. H. D., Scully, W. J., Thompson, A. V., Ward, E. J., Watkins, D. O., Williams, T. F.
Tellers: Fuller, A. N., Sheehan, T.
AGAINST A WHITE AUSTRALIA: Anthony, H. L., Beale, Howard, Blackburn, Mrs. D. A., Bowden, G. J., Cameron, Archie, Fadden, A. W., Falkinder, C. W. J., Francis, J., Gullett, H. B. S., Hamilton, L. W., Holt., H. E., Howse, J. B., Hutchinson, W. J., Lang, J. T., McBride, P. A., Menzies, R. G., Ryan, R. S., Spender, P. C., Turnbull, W. G. White, T. W.
Tellers: Corser, Bernard, McDonald, A. M.
Pairs were granted on the principle that members of time Labor Party voted for Australia’s future by supporting her traditional policy, and that members of time Liberal and Country Parties who were absent from the House voted against it.
The issue was clear, and remains clear. Not five per cent. of the 7,500,000 people in Australia would have voted against either of those Bills, or In support of any amendment to alter them. Of that five per cent, some are in the Federal Parliament as members of the Liberal and Country Parties. They and the masters to whom they give underground allegiance would be willing at any time to smash Australia’s national prosperity and security for time sake of their own wealth and comfort, just as their queer stable-mates in this matter, the Communists, would smash it ruthlessly to rise to power.
Until polling day time issue will rest, and then the people themselves will take a hand and vote for or against the continuance and development of the Australia they know—the land their forbears settled and pioneered and made into one of the finest places on the face of the earth. Theirs will be the choice of going forward, or backward into the age of the Blackbirders, and the racial and economic misery that still afflict some less fortunate countries. They will know what to do about it.
Only the Labor Party stands for our Australian immigration Policy. If you still have any doubts on this issue, look at the priorities which time various political parties accord time question in their platforms and policy statements. I referred to this during the second reading debates on time Bills, reminding the House that, while the Australian Labor Party made its stand on the matter clear on page 1 of its platform, the Country Party mentioned it only on page 8 of its 14-page pamphlet, and the Liberal Party on page 14 of its 15-page document.
When, almost as an after-thought, it does get around to mentioning the policy, the Liberal Party fails, as usual, to say that it stands unequivocally for the policy. Its platform includes merely some mumbo-jumbo about standing for “the preservation of the ideals of time White Australia Policy.” There is, thus an excellent “escape clause.” How the “ideals” of our selective immigration policy differ from the policy itself nobody could possibly say, but it is undoubtedly true that a Liberal Party Government could claim to be upholding these nebulous “ideals” while they were allowing thousands of Asians to enter Australia, not as students, traders and tourists, but as cheap laborers.
Mr. Menzies and his colleagues look very shocked when anyone suggests that they might ever do this. They announce in more or less ringing tones that they support Australia’s immigration policy as vigorously as anybody else, but…
Why all these “buts” if they really support the policy?
Why do they not place it on the record, in black and white, if they really support the policy?
Why do they carry political opportunism to such uneasy lengths as to oppose Bills essential to the maintenance of the system, if they support the policy?
Why are their prominent members continually embarrassing their leaders by expressing disbelief in the policy in their electorates and among their supporters, and why do their leaders never rebuke and repudiate these unruly members if the party truly supports the policy?
But, just as the Liberals now furtively criticise the policy and work underground to weaken it, they could, if returned to power, disregard it, while they paid lip-service to it. Only very close observers would ever be aware that the traditional policy was being jettisoned gradually; most of us would only understand the tragedy when the country already had pools of cheap labor and potential cheap labor so large that our hard-won industrial and social rights were beginning to disappear.
There is no doubt that many of the Liberals and their most powerful supporters would do this if they could. Enough evidence to prove that is in this pamphlet. Remember the Kanaka trade, and the Indian coolies in Fiji only a few years ago! Remember time comments on Australia today made by Sir William Angliss and Mr. Gullett! Remember the silence of Mr. Menzies on the matter! The danger to our White Australia Policy is real, and so close that it must be dealt with now by final and scornful rejection of the parties of the extreme right and the extreme left which threaten it – the foundation stone of the Australian way of life.
The bad old days must not return. The Labor Party defeated the Kanaka trade and the exploitation of Asians on the Australian mainland. Only the Labor Party will keep Australia as you and I have known it, as your parents and – my parents knew it, as our grandparents knew it, for some of us as our great grandparents knew it, and as we would wish our children and our children’s children to know it.