- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 9 Nov 1905, p. 44-53
- Beale, Octavius C., Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- The whole aim and scheme of the working of civilization to go from chaos to cohesion. Our British Empire established and grew in a kind of irregular unforeseen chaotic manner, with illustrative instances. The word "Empire" and what it does and does not convey clearly. The loyalty to the British Empire to be found in Australia. Ways in which Australia can be of use to the Empire. Adverse ideas put forward about Australia's restriction of immigration. Australia's completely democratic ideas. Woman's suffrage in Australia. The granting of land to railways here and in Australia. The lack of increase of population commensurate with the area. A comparison between Canada and Australia in this respect. Emphasizing the speaker's idea of strengthening the bond of union throughout the British Empire. Issues of trade and industry. Only by recognizing the value of industry that the British Empire will be strengthened and will be able to resist all possible attacks, no matter whence they come.
- Date of Original
- 9 Nov 1905
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- Full Text
- SOME CONDITIONS IN AUSTRALIA.
Address by Mr. Octavius C. Beale, President of the Federal Council of the Chambers of Manufacturers of Australia, before the Empire Club of Canada, on Thursday, November 9th, 1905.
M& President and Gentlemen,---
It is particularly fortunate for me that I have the pleasure of attending upon His Majesty's birthday to address a few words to a company of my fellow-citizen of the Empire in a totally different country to my own. In Australia we make this a public holiday and an Assembly of this kind would certainly be of very diminutive numbers on this day. You may say, it is a matter common report amongst the other things that are telegraphed throughout the planet to our disadvantage, and it is constantly said that we have too many holidays and not enough of, work. But we are like our German cousins, when you ask them to have a little more beer, they can always do with it. We can always do with another holiday. It is also said that we should add to the list of holidays the birthday of Her revered Majesty, Queen Victoria, and call it Empire Day. I understand that here you give it special prominence and that therefore this day is not observed as a general public holiday. It is true so far as Australia is concerned that Empire Day has not yet become thoroughly established, notwithstanding the intensely Imperial feeling which exists throughout the Island of Australia.
You are invaded with tourists of all sorts. And recently, I think last year, you had a gentleman who when visiting Toronto, in four days was able to report to the rest of us in the British Empire, and to those outside who chose to read his publication, that he had found all your most secret aspirations and your most secret guiding principles and announced them to the whole world. He was one day in Winnipeg and gathered from the hackman that drove him around a mass of statistical information which a horse's head wouldn't hold-and he has got a longer head than any one here, I think. That gentleman puts upon the back of his books the letters very much bolder than brass, in gilt, " Canada as It Is."* I had always understood that it was impossible for any of us in this world ever to know anything as it is. We might pronounce upon a thing as we saw it or thought we saw it, or give our opinion, but to state as facts that certain principles are the actuating principles of the British race is, I think, a piece of the most extraordinary audacity. That is my own opinion and I am perfectly free here to announce it because I have asked a great number of gentlemen and I have not found one who has read that book. Yet you will find it in every railway car in Australia, in every book-store and practically in every book-seller's stock.
The remedy for that kind of tourist is that we should have a closer connection between those who are authorized to speak for their particular representative bodies. If we could only have people like yourselves, gentlemen, who could come over to Australia and enlighten us upon some of the conditions that guide your lives, no doubt that would be of inestimable benefit to the whole British Empire. You have-besides the affliction from which you will never be rid of, the dignified tourist who travels around and who simply condemns everything he sees-the gentleman who is entirely self-appointed, who is not even a recognized publicist in the way of books or newspapers. We have got that kind in every part of Australia and New Zealand and have managed to endure him. But you have also visitors to Canada, as we have to Australia, who deem it their bounden duty to go away always as adverse critics and who have, very unfortunately, admission to the columns of influential newspapers and their general observation, instead of at all tending to the elevation of our own people and Empire, is solely that of pessimism. Now, I always doubt
* Editor's note.--Mr. John Foster Fraser.
the pessimist. I don't remember the name of the great Frenchman, but he was a man of perception who said that the optimist lives in the world, and the pessimist is only a spectator. You have here a man resident, a University Professor*--he is not in this room--who is very adverse to the idea which we regard in Australia as the most sacred of all and that is the idea of binding together the peoples of our race for the purpose of preserving that race: You will all agree, I think, that the whole aim and scheme of the workings of civilization is to go from chaos to cohesion.
Now our British Empire was established, if I may rise that word, or grew, in 'a kind of irregular unforeseen chaotic manner. The vast possessions in the South Pacific were obtained; some of them, by the very merest chance and our people have spread individually, unguided and unregulated, over various parts of the world. But we are, at least, in possession of these people's proposal, the University Professor amongst others, whose dicta are spread, as I have said, by cable and newspaper throughout the Empire. These people want to break up that idea of an established Empire. We will allow that the word." Empire " does not convey clearly our idea. We mean a confederation of inter-related but independent and entirely free peoples, and we are thoroughly satisfied to have at the head of it the Emperor of India, the King of England. We have the enormous advantage of not having to choose a President. And, as I speak, it recalls to my mind a phrase I read in a very beautiful article published in a French journal, where one celebrated French Admiral said that there was one thing in which he truly envied his old friend, Admiral Drummond, and that was that during half a century he had served only one government. Now, that is our idea. We want our government to be perpetual.
I had occasion to say to my kind friend, Mr. George, here today that in Australia we claim to be more loyal than Lancashire. We would not tolerate the kind of
*Editor's note.-Dr. Goldwin Smith.
language in our Press or on our public platforms, without interruption, that is used frequently in England itself. I have myself attended at meetings in Great Britain and I was astonished to hear how vague was the idea of the British Empire itself-this gathering together of enormous forces, of a people spread over every ocean of the globe, with the idea simply of preserving their union and their own independent and free existence. We do not want aggression. We have quite as much of the planet as we can handle. In Australia we have three million five hundred thousand square miles, a gigantic continent that is held, half empty, in security by the British Fleet. We are there between the East and the West and you know, gentlemen, at the Battle of Tushima the centre was actually shifted very seriously. We were not far remote from the great disturbance; though one of the greatest men of the last century said it was not by debates in Parliament and Parliamentary measures that the great events of the world were decided, but by iron and blood. And you have seen how a very great change has taken place in what you call the far East simply by iron and blood--I allude to the Russo-Japanese war. We are no longer remote; we are close to what was recently a great centre of disturbance; and there may be a similar centre of disturbance in the Himalayas to the north-west of us.
What actual use we can be to the British Empire is not so easily told in the few minutes that I am to have the pleasure of speaking to you. We have at all events enormous coal possessions. If our British Navy wants a home they have what, I think, I may be allowed to say the very loveliest home on the planet, Sydney Harbour; and there they have a great central establishment and from Sydney, from New Zealand and from the other coal ports of Eastern and South Australia, as also from the West and North-west, they can obtain in case of an outbreak of war millions of tons of coal. No other Power has that and no other Power can have that so long as the Continent of Australia is a part of the British Empire and one of the great chain of communications which follow around the planet.
You have heard a great many adverse ideas about our restriction of immigration. I put in my pocket a leader from one of the papers. I don't think I will trouble to read it to you, but it contains one little phrase I have had myself occasion to use at different times and it comes from the opposite side of politics from my own. It is with reference to the introduction of the products of coloured labour and I would like to read some part of what it says. " We have still room for double or treble our present population . . . . but however that may be, we are holding Australia in trust for the white race to which we belong and any proposal for handing it over to the black or yellow man comes too late now for serious consideration."
There is no question but that our ideas in Australia are' completely democratic. I believe that in granting a vote to females we attain at once, so as to end all difficulties and discussions, the high-water mark of democracy; because it is inconceivable that anything further than that can be obtained. Now I have heard a great many arguments. I was not enthusiastic myself about it. I felt myself not at all able, mentally or otherwise, to seriously get at the arguments in its favour, but I did almost venture to think, and, although I am not a prophet, I did prophesy that there would be no very great differences found when it came to the point; there would not be those very great moral changes with only good men getting into Parliament. As a matter of fact you find that the gentleman with half a dozen wives is there just as he was before. Of course, it ought not to be and I am very truly sorry to hear anybody even smile at it, but it really is so; and it is by no means irrational, because a man, whatever his private faults may be, is there for a great purpose; and good work no doubt has been done by men whose private character was not absolutely white. For one moment digressing, I would like to give you one or two little points which may help. I don't know whether you have female suffrage here. There was an old lady of seventy years of age in the City of Melbourne addressing an audience in favour of female suffrage; she was just about opening her spectacle case to get out her spectacles when a fellow in the audience shouted out: "Put on your blinkers, old lady," and she said: "Certainly, Sir, when you learn to put a bridle on, your tongue." I venture to suggest that that lady was entitled to a vote. Another case where a fellow in the middle of the audience shouted out: "We don't want any screaming cockatoos here," and another lady instantly replied that "the gentleman's natural history was as far astray as his manners, because it was not the female but the male bird that screams." That was enough for him.
Now the Australian democracy may land the female vote, but no one can say. It represents over half the population, and is strongly, strenuously and determinedly in favour of a white Australia. They regard that great continent as held in trust; and I am personally exceedingly thankful to say that the same view is held in the Canadian Dominion; that you have no intention of admitting the countless millions of China who would certainly come here and snow you under if you gave them an opportunity. We have that experience in Australia, and although we have restrictive legislation we are unable to arrive at a diminution of their numbers. By all statistical reckoning, by all records, the numbers should diminish at each Census, because we know the number of arrivals pretty exactly; we know the number that go away by sea pretty exactly; but deducting one from the other gives us a wrong result, because we find there are absolutely more at each decennial census than there were at the preceding one. How that comes about I don't know. I am told in Southern California that something of the same sort has occurred there, that they find that the numbers do not diminish notwithstanding their restriction. In answer to those persons who are continually urging for the benefit, at least of Australia, that we ought to have an influx of such races, I say that you can no longer keep track or control if you open those gates as they have been opened in South Africa, and it is very hard indeed to see how the thing is going to be corrected.
In Australia the democracy will allow no enormous land grants to railways, not but that it might be right and have a very great deal in its favour, and many 'of us would have been most willing to- have something done there of the kind you have been doing here; but they will not agree, whether rightly or wrongly, that these large blocks of territory should be granted to these railways because they say such things are held in trust for those of our race who are resident in the other parts of the Empire. I think that gives you a general view of the intensity and genuineness of the Imperial idea that is current over in Australia and in the Australian democracy, male and female. You have heard a good deal perhaps, and certainly in the English papers there has been a great deal printed, about the restriction of white immigration: You have heard perhaps of the celebrated six hatters-some men imported under contract to act in the capacity of foremen in the production of hats in the City of Sydney. They were delayed for a few hours. There would have been no difficulty whatever if the man who imported them had arranged with the Administration in the first place for their admission. I have known a man to come over to the United States who employs six hundred men in the manufacture of glass products in the two Cities of Sydney and Melbourne. He wanted to have modern methods and arranged with a large number of men, and, also I suppose with their employers, for, these men to come over to Australia and introduce those methods. The men asked him, "Are you sure that we will be allowed to land there at all? We have heard very much to the contrary." He said: " I know my business; I have arranged in advance; I have complied with the laws and the employers."
I am very careful to get these things in writing when it comes to a red-hot controversy such as this will be when I get to London. I have the statement of the importer of the six hatters. The employers asked him "Are you sure you will be able to get these men to land in Australia? Will they be permitted? Because in the United States you could not land them under any conceivable circumstances." He said to them: " It is all right, I will take them there." They were taken there and they are at work there and there was not one moment's trouble in landing them. But this is the intention of that legislation, that you shall not import for any reason men who will reduce the status of living of the people of the Commonwealth. I want to say to you, gentlemen, as President of the Associated Chamber of Manufacturers and President of their Council, which surely must be representative, that none of us want that interfered with; none of us want to see such a condition of things as there might be through any influx from Austria, from Poland or Russia, or anywhere else, which would mean a heavy reduction of the means of living, of the status of living in the Commonwealth of Australia.
We would like to see some modification of the contract clause; we would like to see a just provision whereby people might be introduced into the Commonwealth without so great a restriction as referring to the Minister and to allow such men to be brought in as are not obtainable in Australia. We would like to be able to import such men provided there be no interference with the manner of living, and provided they are able to speak one or two European languages. I think under those circumstances there should be no restriction to our introducing them under contract labour. But that circumstance and that clause has been used far and wide to vilify the people and the population of Australia and to do us an injury which is altogether unwarranted and unjustifiable throughout the British Empire. You are aware, no doubt, that in Australia we do lack an increase of population, commensurate with our area. It may interest you just to see how Canada and Australia compare in that respect. In 1861 the population of Australia was but 1,500,000 and of Canada, 3,000,000; in 1891 the figures were 3,200,000 and 4,800,000; in 1901 the figures were 3,770,000 and 5,370,000 respectively; in 1904, 3,988,000 and in Canada, 5,500,000. So that the difference had diminished a good deal. You had a big start of us, but you didn't actually keep it up.
Now we are turning our attention most seriously .to that condition; and also the Governments are turning their attention to a serious matter which has always been very near to our heart and that is the preservation of the lives we have already got in Australia. I believe that very few of you could have an idea, unless you were empowered to sit on a Royal Commission of Inquiry-which amounts to an inquisitorial inquiry where you can bring a man whom you suspect of wrong-doing and demand answers from that man-you can have very little idea of the destruction of life that goes on by the sale of poisonous and deleterious drugs under secret formulae. That is what is now seriously engaging the attention of the Government of Australia; we hope to arrive at a condition of things in that respect somewhat similar to that which has been done in Germany and Switzerland where there is an absolute prevention and it is treated not simply as a misdemeanor but as a felony for a man to pack poisons and sell them as a cure for all the ills of mankind.
I would like once more to be permitted to emphasize my idea of strengthening the bond of union throughout the British Empire. I admit over and over again that the word " Imperialism " does not adequately fit our ideas, but w6 have got in the course of years to love and admire and to be proud of it; and when people want to misrepresent us and talk about the Imperial idea and to make that an excuse for separation, we won't own it, we say we have got a word and we have a certain meaning attached to it and we are going to take it for what it is worth, and we will let it go at that and we are right well proud of it. Richard Cobden declared nearly half a century ago that the only way Great Britain would succeed in separating the Colonies from her was by the method of Free Trade. Now that is absolutely so. I am here to say that the idea of trade and the practice of trade in and of itself it not at all an elevating thing. If my honoured friend here on the left (Prof. Clark) will recall his younger days when I suppose he was a pedagogue in the best sense of the word, if he found two little boys trading with one another and one had bought a package of Chinese crackers and traded it with the other boy for something worth ten times its value, he didn't talk to that boy and say, "noble youth." He said, " You little rascal, go and reverse that transaction." But I don't care how poor and insignificant the failure if the effort of that boy was to make a model of a steam engine or anything else there was a distinguishing difference and the pedagogue at once said: " Never mind, old fellow, go ahead, that is the true idea, that is the productive idea."
Now I am not at all here to sneer at the trading instinct. Like all the others it is of enormous value, but it is not--in and of itself an elevating instinct. It has been misrepresented and mis-stated so that you have come constantly in your assemblies to hear always the trading interests stated first and the principle of trade stated as that upon which our Empire was founded. It was not. It was founded upon Industry and the man who laid the great foundation of the British Empire was a quaint old Quaker who built the first iron bridge which for two centuries has withstood the stress and strain of time. It was the man who first smelted iron with coal who laid the foundation of the British Empire.
It is not the idea merely of trade but Industry, and not looking on industry as something of value and trade as of no value; not of contemning protection and saying I want a thing at the cheapest price, no matter from whence it comes. The introduction of tram-cars from France, when they were building them in England, because they could get them cheaper in a foreign country, would not have been possible if those trams were owned by the State; the Government would have seen that they were made in the place, locally, and that the people in Great Britain themselves would get the benefit. I venture to say that it is only by recognizing the value of industry that the British Empire will be strengthened and will be able to resist all possible attacks, no matter whence they come.