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The Labor Party And White Australia

Part Two:

Labor Leaders And Premiers Of Queensland And New South Wales



Kevin McCauley

Sydney: February 2002



Preface

1. Thomas Glassey
2. Andrew Dawson
3. Matthew Reid
4. Thomas Ryan
5. Edward J. Theodore
6. J.S.T. McGowan
7. John Storey
8. Jack Lang




Preface


This pamphlet is the second part of a series on the attitude of the old Australian Labor Party to the issue of 'White Australia'.

This Part deals with Queensland and New South Wales Labor leaders and premiers in the years 1890 - 1940.

These men not only represented the best interests of the labour movement in their respective states, but for Australia as a whole.

I hope the reader of this booklet is moved, as I was, when I commenced my research. These patriots helped to make Australia what it was. And they should never be forgotten.

Kevin McCauley, Sydney, February 2002.





1. Thomas Glassey


First Labour member of the Queensland Parliament and first leader of the Queensland Labour Party in the 1890's. Elected Senator for Queensland in the first Commonwealth Parliament.


The True Aim Of The Labour Party 1893.
(Speech To North Brisbane Electors, 21 April 1893, The Worker 29 April 1893.)

“The Labour Party has been described as the lawless party, disturbers of the peace, and destroyers of the sugar industry. They had been credited with a desire to acquire other people's property and so forth. They had on various occasions and in various parts of the country been obliged to contradict these wild, outrageous, and nonsensical statements made by certain interested parties to destroy the influence of the party to which he belonged. That party did not want to destroy the sugar industry. They wishes, if possible, to place the sugar industry on a more satisfactory basis than it was at present, and he believed that that could be done in a reasonable and equitable manner, and that, too, by the employment of white labour and white labour alone.

The charge that the Labour Party wanted to get hold of other people's property was absolutely false. What the Labour Party had aimed, and would aim, to do, was to prevent as far as possible the people's property, from being unjustly confiscated by those who had been hitherto, and now were, in power. The Labour Party wished to protect the girl behind the counter and in the shop-room from being sweated. They wished to protect the child who was unable to protect itself from being robbed of its education in consequence of the impoverishment of its parents. The Labour Party aimed at elevating and not injuring, and at establishing the right to oppose - as far as in them lay - wrong.”

1893.


“Honourable Senators have correctly said that this in a most important measure. I think it is one of the most important measures the Federal Parliament has yet had to consider, or that the Federal Parliament is likely to have to consider, and it deserves all the care and attention which the Senate has given and no doubt will give it. The subject has been a thorny and debateable one in my own state for many years, and I have myself taken a most pronounced and unequivocal upon it. Not merely for political reasons, nut, I trust, higher and nobler reasons than those suggested by Senator Downer and others. I think one Honourable Senator characterised the demand for a White Australia as a mere parrot-cry, and if Senator Downer did not characterise it in the same language, he said that it was merely platform business for political reasons. I am sure that those Honourable Senators, if they give the matter more attention and thought, will find that there are higher and more important reasons behind it. The leader of the Senate in the excellent and lucid speech which he delivered in introducing the Bill, with the calmness, deliberation, and clearness which characterise his utterance, said, I think truly, that Australia has determined for all time that it shall be preserved for the white race. It is with no view of flattering the Honourable and learned Senator, because I am sure I shall not be accused of pandering to anyone, that I say his utterance was the utterance of a statesman and well-worthy of the high exalted position which he occupies. In saying that, I am sure I echo the sentiments of many Honourable Senators, as well as myself, if I do not echo the sentiments of an overwhelming number of the people of Australia. Australia, for all time, is determined that it shall be preserved for the white race, and I am sure that no Honourable Senator, who has emphasised those remarks wishes in the slightest degree to offer any insult to, or to wound the susceptibilities of the people of any nation, or any colour on the planet. I am sure that the sentiment finds an echo in the hearts of the people of Australia, and that it will remain not merely for today, but when it comes to be read in history, will be enthusiastically received by millions yet unborn, or who do as yet inhabit this continent. I think it is a splendid sentiment uttered in fine and emphatic language. Might I suggest, in passing, that if American statesmen in the past, prior to the founding of that great commonwealth could have foreseen the disasters likely to overtake their great country in the years then to come, and had taken the precautions which the people of Australia are taking, the dire calamity which overtook that great country some years ago would never have taken place. It is not a substantial argument to advance that because a mere handful of coloured people are here, it is not worth our while to take all this bother and trouble, and to take the stand we are taking. What is it for? For the establishment and vindication of a great principle. The people enunciated with such clearness and in such magnificent language as was given utterance to by the vice-president of the Executive Council - that this continent shall be the home preserved for a White Australian people for all time. I well remember, as I am sure other Honourable Senators do, that great calamity and catastrophe which overtook the great American Republic a way back in the Sixties. I remember it as well as yesterday. I followed the fortunes of that war, and the fortunes of those who advocated for many years persistently, and sometimes with great injury to themselves, the abolition of that iniquitous and villainous system called slavery, in the United States of America. I followed the fortunes of those people with great interest, and I followed every step of that great war with the utmost sympathy for the final victory of the North American arms, which was to abolish slavery once and forever in that country…..

There is no desire to give offence to the people of India and Ceylon, or to a friendly power like Japan. It has been alleged that the people of Japan would adopt a similar policy, and keep out British people. We could have no cause for complaint if they did. I should regret their action, but I should not complain of it. I speak with every possible respect for that young and rising nation. Members of parliament ought always to speak with a feeling of responsibility for their utterances. The Japanese are a proud and susceptible people who have made marvellous progress during the last thirty or forty years.”

Commonwealth Parliamentary Debates. November 14 1901.





2. Andrew Dawson


Andrew Dawson has the unique position of having been the Premier of the first Labour government in the world. It could have scarcely have been called a government since it lasted only from December 1 - 7 1899. It was defeated on the floor of the House on its first day in the Parliament. Born of poor parents in Rockhampton in July 1863, he soon afterwards shifted with them to Brisbane. After the death of his parents he stayed in an orphanage until he was 9 years. He was taken by an uncle to Gympie where he attended school until 12 years. He then left for Charters Towers and worked in the gold mines, becoming head amalgamator at one of the principal batteries at only 19 years. In 1885, he went to the Kimberleys but lack of success brought him back to Queensland in 1887. In this period of significant growth of unskilled and semi-skilled unions, he became president of the local Miners' Union and successively chairman of the 1891 strike-committee and vice-president of the Queensland Provisional Council of the Australian Labour Federation. At the time he was associated with the formation of the Charters Towers Republican Association. Like so many unionists who were keenly interested in politics and in the formation of a political Labour Party. He used the press as a forum, writing in the Charters Towers Northern Miner and in 1893 becoming the first editor of the Charters Towers Eagle. He entered politics in 1893 and was elected for the two-member electorate of Charters Towers. The area about that town and the Gulf proved in this election to be strongly pro-Labour, returning seven out of the party's sixteen members. In Parliament, Dawson spoke mainly on matters affecting mining and railways. He also took a keen interest in the Kanaka problem of Queensland. He was returned with increased majorities in 1896 and 1899 and when Glassey announced in 1899 that he would not stand for re-election as leader if he was to be opposed, Dawson was nominated and elected leader by nineteen votes to four.

Dawson had been a firm believer in Federation which he had supported in parliament Consequently, he resigned for the state House and stood for the Commonwealth Senate, heading the poll in Queensland. As the only ex-Premier of the new Federal Parliamentary Labour Party, he chaired the first meeting of that party in Melbourne which subsequently elected John C. Watson as its leader. In Watson's first Labour government in 1904, Dawson was given the Defence portfolio.

He retired from politics and died destitute in July 1910.


Commonwealth Parliamentary Debates December 9 1905

“I will say at the outset that, while I am generally in agreement with my Honourable friend, Senator Givens, who has just resumed his seat and with others who have addressed themselves to the question of the desirability of the strictly enforcing the White Australia Policy, and while I would assist in every possible way to that end, at the same time I confess that I am absolutely unable to follow them when they declare their intention to vote against the Second Reading of the Bill. I think that Senator Pearce's position is the right one and just here I should like to say that I believe that every member of the party to which I belong agrees…..

The only reason given for the amendment is that a particular nation, which has proved its power on the water and in the field, is particularly sensitive and in order not to offend its pride it is desirable not to refer to it as Asiatic. Senator Playford and those who support him - I refer particularly to Senator Best, have not furnished us with a tittle of evidence, or quoted any authority - to show that the test in a European language has worked any evil. No attempt has been made to prove that the proposed amendment will strengthen the White Australia Policy. There is only the one excuse, which I regard as, to a large extent, a pretence, that the Japanese people are extremely sensitive about being regarded as Asiatics, and that, therefore, it is necessary it is necessary to alter a satisfactory law in order in order to meet their views. We have not been told that this is done at the request of the Japanese nation, as expressed in any official communication. As a matter of fact, a challenge to show that any such communication has reached Australia has reached Australia has not been responded to. What is the reason for the break-neck rush with this measure at the tale end of the session? One is led to believe that there is some justification for the suspicion of Senator De Largie, that there is more in this matter than appears on the surface. Up to the present, the sensitivity of the Japanese Consul is about the only fact which has been laid before us in support of the amendment, but, apparently, that Consul did not speak on behalf of his government, or on behalf of the people of Japan, through his government. If we are to take the touchy nature of Japanese into consideration, what about the Chinese or the Indians, the latter of whom belong to the British Empire? Honourable Senators have said that the variation of the test means practically nothing, indeed, one Honourable Senator described it as a farce, and the Minister declared that it was a subterfuge, and perhaps both are correct. The intention may be, as indicated by the Minister, but at the same time there is a very great danger in the amendment. Is it intended by the amendment that some other language, than an European, is to be used as a test?…..

The leader of the government says that the intention is to only to add some other Asiatic language to the European language - then what is the use of the amendment? If the amendment is not to be acted upon, it might as well be put into the waste-paper basket, which is perhaps, the best place for it, although I have no particular grudge against the basket. The wording of the clause conveys the idea that it is an intention to prescribe languages other than those provided for in the principal Act, and before we proceed any further, it is the plain duty of the government, and if they have any particular language in their mind, to let us know what that language is….

The clause, as presented to us, lends a very strong colour to the idea that this amendment is a mere pretence. If the Japanese language is contemplated, I should have a very strong objection. Some people may elevate Japan to a high pedestal of civilisation, and place it on an equal footing with European powers, but I, for one, do not. Personally, I view the influx of Japanese with a great deal more alarm than I should the influx of three times the number of Chinese. It is very difficult to collect information of a satisfactory character as to the relative merits or demerits of Chinamen or Japanese. I have travelled from Thursday Island in a Chinese boat, the white officers of which all protested that Chinamen are the most trustworthy and reliable men possible, but that a Japanese cannot be trusted out of sight. On the other hand, the white officers on a Japanese boat gave a certificate of character to the Japanese with which nobody would quarrel, but declared that a Chinaman cannot be trusted as far as he can be thrown by his pig-tail……

Regulations are the most deceptive things imaginable, and are mostly a dead-letter. Frequently when they are brought into active operation, they are used for purposes for which they were not originally intended. Mention has been made of the introduction of Japanese into Queensland under certain regulations and it is true that Japanese labourers were admitted to work on the sugar plantations. There was a regulation providing that they had to be under engagement for three years, and also an agreement that the Japanese government should send out an inspector or overseer, who would be responsible for their return to their country. The Japanese came, but they remained in Queensland, and absolutely flooded one of best industries, namely pearl-shelling, which is still in their hands at Thursday Island and thereabouts. Numbers of white men were previously doing very well in the industry, but the last time I was at Thursday Island the only white man employed in any way in connection with the business was an artisan who supervised the repairing of the boats by Japanese. So much for regulations and agreements, the statement that Japanese workmen do not desire to come to Australia is all humbug. There would be no need for an Immigration Act at all, if it were not for the fear that Japanese would come here and work for less wages and under worse conditions than do Chinamen. We have no desire to see them here. They do not hold our ideas of civilisation or morality, of which is a living wage, or a fair standard of comfort. There is absolutely no possibility of any assimilation between either the Chinese or the Japanese and ourselves. We have declared our determination to have a White Australia. We have a policy imprinted in concrete - on our statute book, and I see no reason why it should be departed from at the invitation of this or any other government….

There is this difference in the method of destruction, in my opinion, the result of carrying the amendment moves by Senator Givens will be to destroy the whole Bill, and there is a lot of merit in this measure. If the other method is adopted, we shall destroy only a provision which is a danger to our White Australia Policy, and will still be able to take advantage of what is meritorious in the Bill. Senator Drake took a responsible part in the establishment of the White Australia Policy. He should be proud of it, and should be prepared to do all he can to see that it is not weakened in the slightest degree. There are certain limits beyond which they are not permitted to go by the imperial authorities. Memories have been revived and I can remember very well when an amendment in the very words now proposed by Senator Givens was submitted in this Chamber and we supported it. Every amendment of the kind was also cheerfully supported by some Honourable Senators then in Opposition. Not because they were in favour of a White Australia, but in order to kill the Bill….

I do not think that it is applicable to Senator Clemons, because from its inception, I believe the Honourable and learned Senator said that he was in favour a White Australia Policy. But I know that Honourable Senators on the Opposition side, and on this side, assisted members of the Labour Party to carry those amendments. We were in this ridiculous position that sometimes the government won by the aid of the votes of the Opposition Senators, and sometimes we won by the aid of the same votes until I believe that the word 'that' was about the only word left in the clause and ultimately we decided that the test should be in 'an European language'.”

1905.





3. Matthew Reid


Leader of the Queensland Parliamentary Labour Party.

“I do not think we shall ever go to war with Japan on the question of White Australia. When we do go to war with Japan, other things besides the White Australia Policy will be at issue.”

1905.





4. Thomas Ryan


Elected to the Legislative Assembly of Queensland for 'Barcoo', General Election 1909, holding this seat until October 1919. Premier, Attorney-General, Chief Secretary, Secretary for Mines and Vice-President of the Executive Council from June 1915 - October 1919. Was a leading opponent of Conscription during World War One. Threatened with gaol by William Morris Hughes for his stance on Conscription. Ryan has the distinction of avoiding wartime censorship of a speech by delivering the speech under privilege in parliament; Hughes ordered police to seize the Hansard record, creating a massive public outcry and thereby swinging more votes to the anti-Conscription camp in 1916. Elected to the House of Representatives for West Sydney in 1919. Member of Royal Commission On Cockatoo Island Dockyard 1921. He was born in Victoria in 1876; died at Barcaldine, Queensland, August 1 1921.


T.J. Ryan's Election Speech At Barcaldine, 1915: A Review

“In every state we have the relics of liberalism's monumental indifference to the national welfare and its profound contempt for the genius of administration is evidenced by the startling fact that until recently defence was unthought of and as I speak, our railway system in each state recklessly built on different and varying gauges stand as a pathetic testimony to the parochial spirit and the purblind statesmanship of its revered leaders. Such necessary works as trans-continental railways were left unconsidered and enterprises like the Commonwealth Bank and note-issue were not proceeded with for the very obvious reason that their success would interfere with the profits of the friends of liberalism. The ideal of a White Australia was not respected, and liberal science and liberal culture could only find expression in the raising and spending of huge loan monies which were very often expended wastefully and in the end left to posterity to redeem.”

1915.


T.J.Ryan was the Australian delegate to the International Socialist Conference in Amsterdam. When the vote was taken on the issue of the League Of Nations' imposing universal free trade and unrestricted immigration, Ryan dissented from the other delegates and insisted on his dissent being recorded. Whereas in Australia an audience would have appreciated his references to White Australia, in Europe, thirteen thousand miles from Australia's principal fear, Japan, people were “not aware that we confronted with the problem of coloured labour”. “If the resolution were adopted we would have in Australia to compete on unfair terms with the poorly paid Japanese labourer and with nations whose industrial requirements and conditions are essentially different to those of our nation.”

To explain more exactly what he meant to the members of this group, impelled by a belief in the 'brotherhood of man', to attend such a conference, he went beyond his normal enunciation of the sanctity of White Australia concluding “perhaps you have not been confronted with the problem of the coloured races, but if coloured labour is freely admitted to Australia, it will lead to the deterioration of the race and results will follow which would not be an advantage to labour anywhere.”





5. Edward J. Theodore


Sometimes nick-named 'Red Ted' Theodore, he served as Premier of Queensland, after Ryan. He served as Federal Treasurer in the Scullin government, losing office in 1931. He is remembered for many things, but his northern Australia development scheme was most remarkable. Theodore was particularly worried about maintaining the White Australia Policy. A proposal by the conservative Premier of South Australia, Mr. Barwell, to bring in “Asiatics” into the Northern Territory was attacked by Theodore as being both “dangerous” and “unpatriotic”.

Theodore's radical idea included the ceding of the Northern Territory to Queensland or its union with the northern portion of Queensland to form a separate state. On February 2 1922, Theodore spoke of the “betrayal” of the Burnett Land Scheme. He said that he had been told at the Premier's Conference that Queensland had been “humbugged”. It was essentially a Theodore-Hughes issue and Billy Hughes had sabotaged the Scheme. When H.S. Gullett, Commonwealth Superintendent of Immigration, resigned in February 1922, he revealed that Hughes had not even familiarised himself with the detailed plans that Theodore and others had drawn up. This Scheme of Land Settlement was to have been the basis of Theodore's long-term solution to the problem of Queensland's unemployment.

He had indicated his willingness to resign the premiership of Queensland and serve as commissioner of the proposed new state.

Thwarted in regard to his wider development plans, Theodore turned to the organisation of agriculture within Queensland.

The plan to develop the Northern Territory and northern-western Queensland suffered a further setback when in November 1922, it was announced that the Federal Government was not prepared towards railway access. It was clear that the recommendations of the Public Works' Committee had not been presented to the Federal Parliament until the closing days of the parliamentary-session. Theodore never relinquished his interest in northern development. When turning the first sod of the Kyogle-South Brisbane Railway on January 17 1925, he spoke of a scheme he had devised for railways and ports in the Northern Territory and the northern part of Western Australia. He envisaged a railway from Derby in Western Australia to Camooweal in Queensland, linking with the Northern Territory line at Newcastle Waters. Branch lines were to be built from Camooweal to Burketown and Anthony's Lagoon and from Victoria Downs to the mouth of the Victoria River with a branch to Wyndham. Ports were to be developed at Derby, Wyndham, and the mouths of the Victoria and Macarthur rivers. A new state was planned north of 20 degrees south with a provisional government to administer it for a period of five years. The undertaking was to be financed by a loan of twenty million pounds from the Federal Government and it would safeguard the White Australia Policy.

The campaign literature issued by Theodore for the 1928 Federal Elections contained numerous references to the failure to develop the Northern Territory, and it was unfortunate for northern Australia, that his brief period in Federal politics coincided with the economic depression. Theodore was particularly interested in bringing large numbers of southern European immigrants to populate this new state. During the anti-conscription campaign against Hughes, the speeches made by T.J. Ryan and his deputy, Theodore, were censored at the instigation of Prime Minister Hughes. The two ministers read the offending passages in the Queensland Parliament. Theodore had the banned pieces emphasised in bold type in Hansard. Hughes attempted to have Hansard copies seized by the new Commonwealth Police. After a vigorous campaign, Hughes backed down. Hughes tactics encouraged the high Queensland 'no vote' to conscription.


'White Settlement In The Tropics', Brisbane Courier, 1928.

“About four hundred thousand square miles of occupied territory would be embraced in this state, which would be suitable for the raising of cattle and sheep, dairying, cotton growing and general agriculture. This new state would be equal to northern Queensland in its potentialities and would ultimately support millions of people. In this way the area would become a well-developed, well-populated, progressive and prosperous state. That would be the surest means of safe-guarding the White Australia Policy. It would take a great load off the back of the Commonwealth Government regarding the development of the Northern Territory.”

1928.





6. J.S.T. McGowan


First Labor Premier of New South Wales.

“Australia will be what Australians want it, white, pure and industrially good.”

1908.





7. John Storey


Labor Premier of New South Wales, 1920. After the Labor Premier of New South Wales, William Holman, sided with William Morris Hughes over conscription, thus splitting the New South Wales Labor Party, John Storey, a firm anti-conscriptionist, was elected as the new leader of the state party. He led the party to a massive election victory in 1920 which resulted in Holman losing his seat, the only New South Wales Premier in history, to do so.


In March 1919, John Storey said:

“We stand for the cultivation of an Australian sentiment based upon the maintenance of racial purity and the development in Australia of an enlightened and self-reliant community, the securing of monopolies and the extension of the industrial and economic functions of the state and municipality.”

1919.





8. Jack Lang


Born 1876, died 1975. He was Premier of New South Wales 1925-7 and 1930-1932, when dismissed from office by Sir Philip Game, because of his stand taken against the payment of interest on loans to foreign bankers, the parasites who called for a reduction in the living standards of the ordinary people. Lang was Henry Lawson's brother-in-law, and his writings and speeches express a fervent popular nationalism. Some of the achievements of the Lang government were: widows' pensions, workers' compensation, child endowment, controls over the ability of gas companies to increase the price of gas, increase safety regulations for coal mines, the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the establishment of New South Wales state lotteries, the revenue which funded the Public Hospital system, rental assistance for low-income earners. It can also be argued that Lang was one of the first 'green' politicians. He brought in legislation which includes penalties for shops which discharged oil into harbours, as well as legislation for the protection of native flora. It can be said that Lang and his ally Eddie Ward were the first politicians to question globalisation. Both were opposed to the Bretton Woods Agreement and the Australian economy being tied into the emerging global economy after 1945.

He used his newspaper, The Century, in the early 1970's, to warn against the destruction of the White Australia Policy.


Extract From Jack Lang's autobiography, I Remember, 1956.

“White Australia must not be regarded as a mere political shibboleth. It was Australia's Magna Carta. Without that policy, this country would have been lost long ere this. It would have been engulfed in an Asian tidal wave. There would have been no need for the Japanese to have invade this country. We would have been swallowed up by the rolling advance of a horde of coloured people, anxious to escape the privations of their own countries and prepared to impose their own standards on this country….

It is necessary only to examine the racial composition of present-day Fiji, where the Hindus have elbowed the natives out of the picture, to visualise what could have happened in this country had the White Australia Policy not been fought for doggedly at the end of the nineteenth century. We were then fighting for our national survival. Had we weakened, the floodgates would have opened and the natural increase of population according to Asian standards would have done the rest. It would then have been too late, this country would have been a push-over for the Asiatics….

Those who advocate admission of coloured labour quotas invariably ignore the economic reasons responsible for the White Australia Policy. While they had their origin in the anxiety of Australian workers to maintain their standards of living, the White Australia Policy has more than justified itself on national security grounds. If this country had admitted Japanese even to the same degree that Honolulu admitted Japanese, what would our position have been in 1942? Would it be safe to admit unlimited numbers of Indonesians, Hindus, or Chinese today?…

Had we listened to the do-gooders and the crusaders for international brotherhood and racial equality, the barriers would have come down long-ago. Our living standards would have been destroyed. We have had intermarriages of races, half-castes and quarter-castes with all the social dilemmas that it invariably follow such racial mixtures. We would have had a black, brown and brindle streak right through every strata of our society. Instead we risked the charge that we were drawing the colour line. We decided to keep this country as a citadel of the white peoples. Australia is still White Australia thanks to those who battled against those who wanted to exploit coloured labour for their own ends. We must keep it that way.”


Commonwealth Parliament Hansard, March 25 1947.

“The pivot of our foreign policy is a White Australia Policy. Until the war we never regarded ourselves in Australia as having a foreign policy. White Australia seemed to be just an article of faith that stood alone. Now it seems for the first time in our history we have a real foreign policy and that for the first time in our history we have a government which is seriously thinking of tampering with the White Australia Policy. Some Ministers are prepared to say that the government will stand firmly to our article of faith, but our foreign policy has always been a murky, secretive sort of thing, and Ministers' speeches have not always been enlightening. Behind the Ministry is an army of administrators. Where once we had a handful of officials in a key office, we now have a large foreign office filled with diplomats, professors and similar people, and with them there I fear that our White Australia Policy is doomed. The dominant and learned men hold in common with this government the general atmosphere of defeatism that pervades it and say that our White Australia Policy cannot be maintained, anyway, and that we may as well make a gesture of it. It is not a gesture, White Australia is the most vital plank our national policy. It is because of a White Australia that our fertile semi-tropical lands are the most heavily-populated. Drop the White Australia Policy and what becomes of our sugar industry, our tropical fruits industry and similar industries in Australia? Are we to employ coolie labour to work the farms? If we do, we shall have in Australia our problem of displaced persons. We shall have our Australians displaced from their own farms. If not coolie labour, then perhaps we shall meet the situation be removing tariff barriers against the products of the coolie labour of neighbouring countries.

Official propagandists say that there is no need for anything like that. In their opinion, the trouble is that our White Australia Policy is too stark and that it is insulting. They say that we should allow a token immigration from neighbouring countries. Indeed that statement is made over and over again. The official propagandists contend that the White Australia Policy is offensive. This token immigration is called a 'quota system' and the official propagandists urge 'just a little quota'. If the government really thinks that it can establish this quota, it is pulling its own leg. It is certainly not pulling anyone else's leg. Our White Australia Policy is vital not only from an economic standpoint. That Policy was originally implemented in order to build up and maintain a high standard of living in Australia.

But that Policy is more important today from the standpoint of security. Until now, we have benefited very greatly from our geographical position. Our isolation has been our salvation. But with the centre of affairs moving to the Pacific, our geographical position will no longer assist our security. Instead of being our salvation, it exposes us more seriously to trouble and difficulty. In Pacific affairs, geography places Australia in a position not unlike that which Belgium occupies in European affairs. The use and support of Australia is vital to any nation or any group of nations expanding into the Pacific. Australia is of the most vital importance to any nation or group of nations that sets out to curb any expansion in the Pacific. Nature gives us a far better chance of looking after ourselves than Belgium has in Europe. But we should be frittering away that opportunity if we were to allow this country to be over-run with permanent fifth-columnists. Our position would be hopeless. If we had large groups of people who were interested only in the fortunes of contending countries and who cared nothing at all about Australia or its welfare. Complaints about the lack of interest in foreign affairs are futile when the people of Australia see the parliament avoiding the one question which is of paramount importance to them. The nation would be greatly heartened if it could get from the government a forthright guarantee that, in all circumstances, it will not tolerate any departure from the White Australia Policy as we know it today. Whenever the opportunity occurs, the government should let the world know that that is its vital point in foreign policy, and it should never run away from it. It should notify the world of it and on every possible occasion, assert that vital point of our Australian policy.”

1947.



The Association for the Advancement of Australian Culture