HC Deb 28 June 1869 vol 197 cc633-48

I rise for the purpose of calling attention to the manner in which the supply of labour to our great colony of Queensland is at present furnished through immigration from the South Sea Islands. My object is to prevent the idea of Queensland being associated with a revival of the slave trade. To show that the territory of Queensland is not an unimportant, but, on the contrary, one of the most extensive of the British colonies, I may mention that its area is nearly double that of Canada; that it is one-half larger than England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, and France added together; and that gold, copper, and coal mines have been already discovered in several districts of Queensland. The climate is well fitted for the European constitution. In this magnificent country there has sprung up within the last seven or eight years a system of immigration from the neighbouring South Sea Islands, to supply the wants of labour in Queensland. The evils of that system were admitted on all sides, and upon the recommendation of the Colonial Office an Act was passed to regulate that immigration of barbarians. No Act could render that immigration a desirable or a moral one. Under that system of immigration the evils of the middle passage are repeated. I brought this question before the late Government and the present one, and the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight lately put a question to the Under Secretary to the Colonies. On this last occasion we were assured that the serious attention of the Government would be paid to the matter; but up to the present, as far as I can understand, no active steps have been taken to do away with this dis- graceful traffic. I have nothing to say against the Act passed by the Colonial Legislature. I believe it contains some provisions against which nothing could be said. Probably it is as good an Act as could have been passed under the circumstances; but it wants that specific element by which alone a successful system of emigration can be realized—namely, the establishment of a Government depot in these islands, so as to secure to the emigrants every information necessary as regards the country to which they are to be brought, and as to the nature of the agreement into which they enter. The Duke of Newcastle, writing, in 1861, to Governor Sir George Bowen, having stated that the emigrants to the West Indies and Mauritius were collected in India, under the direction of agents appointed and paid by the respective colonies, were received into depots at the port of departure, were subjected before embarkation to a medical examination, were informed where they were going, and made to understand the nature of the agreement, and, above all, that it was required that every body of males should be accompanied by a certain proportion of females, fixed at that time at 25 per cent, went on to say— Wherever the emigration shall be set on foot, it will be your first duty to appoint an emigration agent for the colony at each port from which emigrants are to be obtained. Now, in the despatch of the Duke of Buckingham to Governor Sir George Bowen, dated 9th November, 1867, suggesting the principal points for an Act, no mention is made of such a condition. The only protection in this respect consists in the clause that the master of the vessel must produce a certificate signed by a "consul, missionary, or other known person," or the agreement shall be overlooked, and that by the Government agent, to see that they understand the terms which they give, the wages they are to be paid, and all this was now supposed to be given. The Bishop of Sydney at the meeting, February 8th, 1869, read a letter from Dr. Pattison, the missionary Bishop of Milensia, in which he stated his unqualified opinion that the natives of the island were incapable of understanding the nature of a legal contract. Now, Sir, this trade as I have shown, wants that first element which would make it tolerable. I am far from saying that even if this element was present that the trade would have been a tolerable one. Notwithstanding the admirable regulations under which it was managed, there were many who doubted whether it was not a great evil. I will read a memorial signed by John Small, Chief Justice of Hong Kong, and the Hon. James Whittall to Sir Richard Graves MacDonnell, Governor of Hong Kong. In regard to Coolie emigration, he says— We will give the Chinese Government credit for thoroughly good intentions, and we are anxious to admit that the letter of their legislation in connection with Coolie emigration is very near perfection. But we do not require to tell your Excellency that these very regulations, said to be designed to protect the Coolie against fraud and restraint, are with detestable ingenuity converted into meshes whereby to entrap him more securely. These regulations are of no utility whatever; they serve but to cast dust in the eyes of the world; they afford no protection to the Coolie. For the reputation of the Colony, therefore, for the sake of example, and for the honour, in so far as it is given by your Excellency and to ourselves to uphold the same, of the British Flag, we call upon you to solemnly condemn, by colonial legislation, this trade in human bodies, which, bearing the impress of misery wherever it is carried on, culminates at our very gates into the hideous form of slavery. With respect to these Coolies, there is a Government depot at the place from which and to which they are sent, and this is how the Chief Justice of Hong Kong states that that trade has degenerated even under these circumstances. There is another charge I wish to make against this Bill. By the 6th clause the Government of Queensland seeks to legalize the traffic in coloured labourers by private persons, in a manner disallowed by the Home Government in the tropical dependencies of the Empire. That is enacted which is contrary to what is elsewhere allowed under British dominion; the only parallel instance is that in which the Mauritius planter is allowed to send his agent to recruit Coolies in India, but this is done under the complete control of the Government authorities both in India and the Mauritius. Now this is not a new question to us. We have felt it our duty, as a country, to interfere in more than one case where our country was obtaining labour for this purpose. When the French resorted to the system of conveying free black labourers from Africa to the French colonies, a Government officer was appointed to superintend the whole transaction, and see that the people were fairly treated. This was the counterpart of the Queensland system. Notwithstanding all the precautions of the French Government, the traffic speedily developed into slavery, and the Emperor abolished it. There was another system to which the Queensland system might be compared. Natives of the South Sea Islands were transported to the cotton fields of Peru. The English and French Governments raised their hands against the traffic as being a slave trade. Now, Sir, to what has this traffic led? It has led to results which might have been anticipated. [The hon. Member then read a long series of extracts from Eastern journals and correspondence illustrative of the treachery used in kidnapping the natives of various islands, and the cruelties practised upon the victims as well on board ship as in the colony.] The Sydney Herald of October 9, 1868, stated that the condition of the natives of the South Sea Islands now in Queensland was most disheartening, and that it was one simply of slavery; that the evidence was too strong to leave doubt that many of them had been inveigled by the most false representations, and others actually stolen from their native land; that many had been induced to sign agreements as they supposed for one year, which when produced showed three, and that, their clothes having been worn out, many of them were to be seen working in the plantations in a state of nudity. If complaints arise, it is supposed that they are taken to a magistrate. In reality, on some even of the best estates, coercion is exercised by the overseer. Flogging, irons, threats of shooting—such is the fare. Our correspondent," says the Colonial Intelligencer, "humanely interested himself in a girl named Mary, who, it was alleged, was carried off from the island of Tanna by an armed crew, as a ransom for her father. The latter was a chief, and having been made a prisoner by the crew, they refused to release him except in exchange for another native. 'His daughter was then dragged through the water by men of her father's tribe, and thrown naked into the boat. On board she was given as a wife to one of the boat's crew, who is, I think, a bad fellow. This man is from a Christian island, but has been a sailor, and has another wife, to whom he has been married by the missionary in his own island, where bigamy is a legal crime.' The captain was afterwards charged with a criminal assault, of which he was acquitted, but her evidence was rejected as being a heathen. The Scotsman of December, 1868, said— The last Australian mail brings news that there seems no good reason for doubting. At Mallicolo twenty-one natives were induced to lay down their war clubs, and go below to have a look at the hold. They were not allowed to come up again. Their canoes were sent adrift, and the Siren stood out to see; the wives of the kidnapped men swimming after her whilst their strength lasted, and when they could no longer chase her, still sending wild wails along her felonious wake. At Matlow a large haul was made, but all except two managed to slip ashore in the night. So the Siren cruized about until she had bagged more than 100 islanders. Six, whom she took out of a canoe, she was compelled to restore, because had she not done so their chief would have rescued them by force. In last February a meeting was held at Sydney to protest against this traffic. The Mayor of Sydney presided, and the Bishop moved the first resolution. The right rev. speaker strongly denounced the traffic, and quoted the testimony of Bishop Pattison, who is now cruising among the islands, as to the misery it had occasioned. The Sydney correspondent of The Times says, writing on the 27th February— I believe I stated in my last something respecting the act of the supercargo of a vessel bound to Samoa, where that person had just established a plantation. By arrangement with the captain, sixty men and twenty or thirty young women were inveigled on board and forcibly detained at Samoa. A case has just come to the knowledge of the authorities here, and compelled them to put the law in force against the offenders. The captain of the Young Australia, and one of the crew, stand committed to take their trial for the murder of three natives of one of the New Hebrides group of islands. The supercargo, who is also implicated in the affair, has been caught at Melbourne, and is coming up. Briefly the particulars are as follows:—The vessel mentioned, chartered by a Sydney firm, sailed in September last, or thereabouts, with a cargo for Fijii. The cargo being discharged—so at present I understand the case—a raid was proposed among the New Hebrides Islands for 'Niggers,' as the Polynesians are called, to work on the newly established plantations at Fijii. The vessel was five weeks gone, and when it returned landed 235 natives, including six women, something like £1,200 having been cleared by the transaction. The vessel returned to Sydney. While here intelligence was received from Fijii, which was made known to the Government. It appears that during that voyage, off the island of Palma, three natives were forced on board, who, breaking open the hold in which they were confined, fought for their liberty, and were shot down and turned overboard, by command of the supercargo, and under the silent sanction of the captain. The vessel was just on the point of starting again for Sydney, on another expedition, when the captain was arrested. Naturally such a wretched system provoked retaliation, and it was stated in a New York paper that eleven Europeans settled in the island of Tanna had been massacred by the natives. [The hon. Member then read a report, from the Rev. J. P. Sunderland, who visited Queensland, and gave an account of what he saw. He visited sugar plantations, where some 3,000 or 4,000 Polynesian labourers were employed, who had been taken from their homes by fraud. Ships went to the New Hebrides to "catch blackbirds," and they caught them by utter deceit for three years' engagements. He went to some of the best sugar plantations in Queensland, and if ever there was anything like slavery that was. He asked the planters what they did when the labourers fell ill? The reply was—"They often gammon to be ill, but we take a whip and tickle them up a bit, and then they soon get well." One planter wrote to another and said—"What can you supply me 100 niggers for?" And no doubt, as long as it was found that £6 or £7 a head could be got for the natives, men would do anything to get them. He next read a letter addressed by the Rev. James McNair—a well-known missionary of the Scottish Reformed Presbyterian Church, of high character—and it was addressed to Commander Lambert, of the Australian Squadron, which detailed terrible acts of treachery, by which numerous natives had been entrapped. A small schooner, under pretext that a man known to be kind to the natives was on board, succeeded in decoying fifteen men at Mari and nine at Erromanga; no sooner had they come on board than they were clapped below hatches. A missionary succeeded in obtaining a promise from the captain that the men should be given up; but the next thing he saw was the vessel with all sails set and at full speed. The missionary concluded by warning Commander Lambert that he should look to him to find out these captives in Queensland, and see that they were returned to their native land, from which they had been so vilely snatched. But nothing more had been heard of them.] The hon. Member then proceeded—At the time when I first put a Question to the late Under Secretary I was called upon by a gentleman from the colony, one of the first who began the system of immigration, and he informed me that in his opinion the proposed Act was so stringent that it would put a stop to this traffic. Now, I believe that, if the Government insisted upon the establishment of a depôt under Government superintendence, at every place from which the islanders were shipped, and a proper proportion of women likewise sent, that the expenses attendant upon these essential preliminaries would be sufficient to put a stop entirely to this unholy traffic. At the very time when the late Government was sanctioning this traffic there was issued from the Board of Admiralty of that Government the most masterly denunciation of the whole affair; and I trust our Colonial Office will follow the Board of Admiralty of the late Government. I will read a few extracts from the correspondence between Mr. Romaine and the Colonial Office. That gentleman, writing from the Admiralty, says— My Lords desire me to refer you to the correspondence which took place between the Colonial Office and this Department in 1863, relative to the kidnapping of Polynesians, to be employed on cotton plantations and other agricultural operations in Peru"— And went on to say that "the trade of procuring labourers rapidly degenerated into slave hunting and slave trading," and that it was the belief of their Lordships that these South Sea Islanders were ''incapable of understanding the nature of a written contract with an employer," and that none of them would— Knowingly and willingly engage themselves to work far from their own country at all, or at any place even near their own home, for more than a few months. My Lords are also thoroughly impressed with the belief that whatever regulations may be made for the well-being and liberty of these people, on their being brought nominally within reach of the laws and tribunals of Queensland, yet that no proper and efficient control can ever be exercised over the manner in which these people are obtained and placed on board ship. The task of their collection and shipment is from the nature of the work likely to fall into the hands of an unscrupulous and mercenary set, who, under pretence of persuading the natives into making engagements as labourers for a term of years, would not hesitate to commit acts of kidnapping, piracy, and murder. Entertaining these views, my Lords are unable to concur in any recommendation with regard to framing an Act of the Colonial Legislature for the regulation of the introduction of these people into the colony. Mr. Romaine wrote again to the Under Secretary of State, referring to the letter from which I have just quoted— With reference to the letter from this Department, dated the 7th Dec. last on the subject of the kidnapping of natives from the South Sea Islands by vessels under the Chilian and Peruvian Flags, I am commanded by my Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to acquaint you, for the information of the Secretary of State for the Colonies, that, looking to the representations formerly made by this country and France as to the importation of South Sea Islanders into Chili and Peru, and to the representations made by this country as to the importation of negroes from the West Coast of Africa to the West Indies, and looking also to the probability that representation will be made by France on the deportation of South Sea Islanders to serve as labourers in Queensland, their Lordships would suggest that, before the Colonial Office decide upon the question of Colonial legislation for the regulation of the traffic, the opinion of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs should be taken on the subject. I wish the opinion of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs had not only been taken, but had been followed. The next thing that comes in these Papers is a remonstrance from the French Government, which is put off with a letter from the Colonial Office to the effect that Her Majesty's Government had had occasion to consider the mode of repressing such outrages as occurred—that they would be glad to be furnished with the details of any cases that had come to the knowledge of the French Government; concluding with the words— At the same time, his Grace desires to point out that proceedings of this kind must be distinguished from an emigration of labourers which appears to be going on to some extent from some of the islands in the South Seas to Queensland, and in regard to which regulations for the benefit of immigrants have been suggested to the Governor of Queensland, in which colony some of these immigrants have arrived. I will trouble the House with but one extract more—from a letter of Mr. Murdoch, of the Emigration Board. He says— Whether it is right as a general principle to permit the introduction of an inferior and uncivilized race into a British colony, so strongly deprecated in the Queensland Memorial, is a question which I do not presume to discuss. As far as the emigrant is concerned it would be useless to deny that it may be attended with some disadvantages; but that, on the whole, a race of so low a type as natives of the New Hebrides must derive great benefit from being brought in contact with a purer morality, and a higher civilization cannot be questioned. I am extremely loth to place myself in conflict with so great and distinguished an authority as this gentleman is. But I should think that the experience of history, as well as the theory is against him. If there was one thing better founded than another with regard to colonization of this kind, it is that nothing but demoralization can ensue under such circumstances. There is one other point in regard to the morality in the islands from which those savages are taken. A writer in the Colonial Intelli gencer says—speaking of contracts for three years— This may be very well if all we have to consider is the development of Queensland. But are we to overlook the effect on the islands where civilization is making such satisfactory progress? As a rule they do not contain a surplus of population. If fifty or sixty natives are abstracted from these little communities they are the best—the workers; and what are left? Women, children, old men, and good-for-nothings. During the absence of these braves, their wives, where there are any, despairing of their return, become the wives of other men, and so the family tie is completely broken up. At home, Europe has taken thought for their religious and secular instruction. But this must all be relinquished in Queensland. I would venture to impress one other consideration upon the House, and that is this—We consider ourselves a moral and practical people, and especially a colonizing people. Now, I say we do to our practical tendencies no justice to encourage such a system as this, and we have the means to make the dependency rich as well as morally healthy. We have a surplus population and pauperism rising and bubbling up to our very lips, and we have philanthropists declaring that our utmost power is unable to grapple with it. Can we not bring these two things together? Can we not send our surplus population to Queensland? Can we not do better than demoralize both? I call upon the country to put a stop to this most infamous traffic, which is dangerous to our international relations with foreign countries, which is sure in the long run to destroy the prosperity of the colony, which is ruining the prospects, and turning into slaves the wretched men who are sent there, and which is frustrating all the efforts made by our missionaries for the civilization of these islands. The hon. Gentleman in conclusion asked the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, Whether his attention had been called to the great dissatisfaction prevailing in Queensland in regard to the system of importation of South Sea Islanders into that colony; whether he was aware that this importation was described as practically no better than a legalized Slave Trade, that the natives were in many cases inveigled on board under false pretences; and, whether he would lay on the Table any Correspondence on the subject?


said, his hon. Friend (Mr. Taylor) had rendered a great public service by bringing forward this subject, for it was undoubtedly a matter of the utmost importance that a country which had done so much to put an end to slavery in this hemisphere should carefully provide against any approach to it in the Polynesian Islands. His hon. Friend had very properly drawn a distinction between the conveyance of emigrants to Queensland and the traffic which was carried on between different Polynesian Islands and Samoa and Fijii. Indeed, with regard to the latter, he would admit the correctness of his hon. Friend's statements. In the case of the Young Australia, for example, the most horrible atrocities had been perpetrated; and other instances might be adduced in which, to say the least, there had been a tendency towards the revival of the slave trade in the islands of Samoa and Fijii. He would venture, however, to controvert his hon. Friend's assertions with regard to the emigration from Polynesia to Queensland. According to the law passed by the Legislature of that colony no one was allowed to go about the Polynesian Islands for the purpose of procuring emigrants without a license from the Government of Queensland. In the next place, masters of vessels were required to give security for the return within three years of such emigrants as desired to be sent back; and they were further compelled to give a bond against kidnapping, and to bring a certificate from the consul, missionary, or other known person, that the emigrants had engaged themselves voluntarily and understood the nature of their engagement. The emigration agent was required to ascertain that such a certificate had been procured before he allowed the emigrants to land. At the same time he (Mr. Monsell) admitted that in two particulars these regulations were insufficient, and to those two particulars his hon. Friend had referred. There were no regulations as to the introduction into Queensland of a proper proportion of the two sexes, and as to the attendance of an emigration agent on board the vessels before they were allowed to sail. Within the last four or five days, however, a despatch had been received from Queensland, stating that certain suggestions of the emigration agent there were about to be embodied in a Bill, and submitted to the Legislature; and, amongst these, were the two which he had just mentioned. If they secured these alterations in the emigration law they would prevent the possibility of any deception being carried on, and there would then be nothing to complain of. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Taylor) had mainly taken his facts from statements made at a public meeting in Sydney, where four cases were relied on. One of these occurred before the passing of the Queensland Act. Two other cases referred not to Queensland, but to emigration to the Fijii Islands. In the fourth case, that of the Sprightly, the master was tried and acquitted. The fact that the case was sent to trial showed that the local government had its eye on this traffic. With regard to the case of the Latona, the captain of which was alleged to have carried off nine islanders, and to have committed great atrocities, a minute investigation had been set on foot, and the depositions of the captain and emigrants taken. The despatches just received stated that there was the sworn statement of the master, as well as of six of the natives themselves, who had returned from Queensland to their native island, and were returning again to Queensland, that the emigration was voluntary. It appeared that the captain had distinctly asked the clergyman, who preferred the charge, to come on board in order that he might satisfy himself that the emigrants were there of their own free will, and that the rev. gentleman had declined to do anything of the sort. The case of the Latona consequently broke down. As to the treatment of the inhabitants of the Polynesian Islands after their arrival in Queensland, he would simply refer to the words of the Governor, who, in the despatch, said they were even better protected than Coolies in the West Indies, and that he had seen them employed on several plantations, working amicably with Europeans and treated on an equality with them. The Attorney General of the colony likewise stated that no instances of cruelty or anything like slavery enforced on these labourers had ever been brought under his notice. Again, the accounts received at the Colonial Office respecting the condition of the Coolies in the West Indies were totally at variance with the statements of his hon. Friend, as they showed that the Coolies who returned took with them on the average £24 or £25 each, exclusive of jewellery and money which they carried about them. He could assure his hon. Friend that the whole question was occupying the most serious attention of the Colonial Department, and that the strongest despatches had been forwarded to the Governors of colonies, warning them of their responsibility on the subject. Every step which the Government could take in that direction they had taken; but he believed, that, at the present moment, the emigration to Queensland was not unsatisfactory, and the House would, he thought, be of opinion that it would not be proper to adopt the course which his hon. Friend proposed, and entirely to prohibit the importation.


said, that the information which had been given him by the Secretary of the Missions of the United Presbyterian Church in Scotland respecting Queensland, corroborated what had fallen from his hon. Friend (Mr. Taylor), and therefore he could not accept the answer of the Under Secretary for the Colonies as satisfactory. Having had the honour of a seat in that House for many years, he was familiar with that kind of reply—it was the stereotyped answer to inquiries made of the Government in that House; but he was not in the least convinced by it that the traffic was not as bad as his hon. Friend had described it to be. He had read the evidence of one gentleman, who stated that there were 3,000 Polynesian labourers employed on sugar plantations who had been taken from their homes by fraud; and their condition differed widely from that described by his right hon. Friend the Under Secretary for the Colonies. Those who knew the shameful traffic by which the labourers were brought to the colony, and the quasi slavery in which they were detained there, would not be satisfied with the answer just given. Neither had his right hon. Friend made any reply to the statement made as to the demoralizing effect which was produced on the islands themselves, which were not overpeopled, and yet had the most active of their population carried off by such vessels as the Young Australia.


said, he had admitted that the Young Australia had committed some irregularities.


said, there could be no doubt of the fact that the poor people, when fishing, were torn off from the coral reefs, and taken to Australia. If the case was one of voluntary emigration, then his right hon. Friend might be right in describing the system as satisfactory; but if it were one of kidnapping, the most stringent measures ought to be used to put a stop to the traffic, and he trusted his right hon. Friend, would not lose sight of the subject.


said, he thought the House was much indebted to the hon. Member for Leicester and to his hon. Friend the Member for Perth for having sought for this question the earnest attention of the Colonial Office and of the House. It was stated at meetings held at Sydney and at Brisbane that dreadful atrocities were committed in the trade. He had a letter from Brisbane, dated the 18th of March, 1869, which he was ready to show to the Government if they desired information on the subject. The writer, Mr. Alfred Davidson, of Brisbane, a Member of the Queensland Legislature, referring to a trial which had been held in Sydney for the murder of three Polynesians, said— The legal difficulties in these inquiries are great. The Government officers, including the magistrates, are partially under the control of influential men, some of whom are employers of coloured labour, and can be seriously affected in their appointment. The ships carry very few white men, but employ Polynesian sailors. The magistrates have practically rejected native evidence. A proof by native evidence only would therefore not be a legal proof, and any one could be, I take it, prosecuted for libel for exposing a crime. The conduct and expense and responsibility will have to he borne by private persons; the police and Crown lawyers cannot be obtained with facility. A strong feeling of hostility exists against those who advocate the claims of the Polynesians. My own opinion still is that very many come here not of their own free will; if any come truly willingly, I say that is all right. I have formed the opinion that, very often, if not always, it will be found that natives with many of the qualities of the savage are associated with the recruiting agent as coxswains in command of his boats, and, if speaking a little English, acting as interpreters, ready to tell any untruth that he requires. He might also refer to a despatch of the late Board of Admiralty strongly condemning the traffic. He (Mr. E. Fowler) thought there were two points which specially deserved the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies. The first was, as to the evidence that ought to be received; for, if the evidence of natives was to be excluded, it would be difficult to bring complaint home to the guilty parties. The other point was the bringing of natives from islands of different degrees of civilization. Some of the emigrants were brought from islands where Christian missions had exercised a beneficial influence; but others were from islands that were still in a savage or barbarous state, and he believed the natives from these savage islands exercised a demoralizing influence on the colony into which they were introduced. He was quite aware that some persons contended that natives must be imported into the colony, because Europeans could not work, owing to the nature of the climate; but there was, he believed, abundant evidence to show that as soon as a European became acclimatized he was perfectly competent for any work required in the colony. Now, if that were so, then these islanders must stand in the way of European emigration. He hoped the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Taylor) would keep his eye on this question, and that, if necessary, he would bring it again before the House. The reports might be exaggerated, but it appeared to him that, if he had been correctly informed, he should be justified in applying to this traffic the words of one of the most illustrious men who ever adorned the House (Mr. Canning), in regard to the African slave trade—"Its infant lips were stained with blood; that its whole existence has been a series of rapacity, cruelty, and murder."


said, he was glad that the attention of the Government had been directed to this traffic. As early as 1842 natives had been employed by Europeans to cut down sandal wood, and more lately to grow cotton. It was not, perhaps, generally known that there was in the Fijii Islands a colony of about 1,000 persons, mostly Englishmen, but some Americans, who had brought into the colony in the Young Australia above 250 natives from Tanna, not only to work for them, but also to fight for them. A month or two ago he had received a letter from a gentleman of the highest character, who had resided twenty years in those islands, and who stated that two Europeans named Burke and Underwood, had employed the Tanna men to make war upon the mountain races, but they were beaten back and severely wounded. A number of the natives of the island attacked the plantations, and killed and ate six or eight of these men from Tanna, and committed great devastations. Few people probably would have much sympathy for these Europeans, but it was quite clear that these 1,000 white men were not going to be driven from the islands without resistance; and it appeared that Burke had gone over to Sydney to raise 500 men there for the same purpose, tempting them with offers of 500 acres of mountain land a-piece. They would be armed and equipped as regular soldiers, and a war would at once exist between one of our colonies and an island over which we had no control whatever. If this went on it appeared to him that there was rising up in the Pacific another difficulty of the New Zealand type. It was true that the Governor of Sydney had issued a proclamation prohibiting this enlistment; but there was no law to prevent the colonists from quitting the colony and going to these islands. He hoped that this subject would receive the attention of the Government. With respect to the importation of islanders into Queensland, he thought the traffic did admit of such regulations as to make it useful both to the islanders and to the colonists, though the very strongest regulations were necessary.


said, the hon. Member for Perth (Mr. Kinnaird) complained that they had got the usual official answer, implying that it was a fallacious answer. The fallacy was entirely with the hon. Member himself, for he had confused the kidnapping in the Fijii Islands, with the regular immigration of South Sea Islanders into Queensland, for the purpose of cotton cultivation. The outrages reported to have been committed were in the former quarter, and he knew of no means in our power of checking the system, for it was not carried on under our flag, nor had we any control. As to the immigration into Queensland, all he had heard led him to believe that it was properly conducted. It was perfectly well regulated, for the Queensland Legislature had passed regulations and made provisions stricter even than those made by the Indian Government for the protection of the Coolies sent to the West Indies. It was unfair therefore to the colonists to make such unfounded statements; and nothing could be more injurious both to the colonists and the South Sea Islanders themselves than to raise a general cry against the service as if it were a revival of the slave trade, and enlist the influence of this country to stop legitimate immigration. This immigration was essential to the new industry of the colony, and the natives made use of for labour might become civilized and prosperous by their contact with a civilized race. Half the distress in the West Indies arose from the check given to legitimate immigration by a blind outcry against the revival of the slave trade. It was clear that if the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Taylor) had his will he would stop the immigration, for he asked that such restrictions should be placed upon it as would make it impossible. But he (Mr. Adderley) would ask the House to remember that the Queensland Legislature was as free as ours, and that we had no power or right whatever to interfere with their concerns. If, indeed, it could be proved that, under cover of this traffic, the slave trade were revived, that would be so contrary to the Imperial policy that it would give the House a right to interfere, but of this there was no shadow of proof.


said, that when the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Adderley) described this system of immigration as perfect, and denied that there was any evidence of wrong doing, he must surely have forgotten the letter quoted by the hon. Member for Falmouth (Mr. E. Fowler), which, if the statements in it were true, showed a state of things disgraceful to Queensland and to this country, so far as it was connected with Queensland. The subject was well worth the attention of that House.


explained that he had spoken on the authority of the Rev. J. P. Sutherland, who was an eye-witness of all that he described.