[Editor: This article was published in Truth (Brisbane, Qld.), 26 October 1924.]
White Australia’s bulwark.
People are prepared to pay.
What the sugar industry means.
Whether or not Prime Minister Bruce went into Queensland’s Northern sugar districts, with ideas of scoff, he confesses that he remained to pray. He declared that the Federal Government would enunciate a policy that will put the sugar industry on the sound footing to which it is entitled.
It is gratifying that Mr. Bruce now knows, first-hand, all about the position. He now realises to what extent the sugar industry is “one of the bulwarks of our great White Australia ideal.”
He might have gone further by saying that the industry was the origin of the White Australia policy, and that, but for it, Australians never might have realised, until too late (as in America, the color danger that was slowly assuming irresistible proportions.
Lest Mr. Bruce should not know the vast extent to which, through the sugar industry alone, the people of Australia (the great majority of whom are the working masses), have resolutely, and with unwavering self-sacrifice, stood behind the White Australia, he may be informed.
When the policy was put into full force, and Kanaka and Chink were bundled, neck and crop, out of our sugar fields, white labor automatically took the place of the colored aliens. The Kanaka was bundled back to his islands, and the Chink had to seek other fields for his yellow activities.
To enable sugar-growers to pay white labor rates of wages, a heavy protective duty was clapped on foreign sugar. But the sugar-grower had to pay excise duty to the tune of £3 per ton. Then, out of that, he received a bounty of £2 per ton, that being intended to cover the extra cost of white labor.
This scheme, however, bore heavily on the grower, until, finally, excise was abolished, and Customs duty increased by £l per ton. But, from the very first, the masses had to pay dearly for White Australia. At the inception of that policy, finest A1 sugar was only 2½d. per pound. Immediately the foreign, black-grown article from Java and Mauritius was excluded by the tariff, the price was doubled, and, indeed, it now stands, and for years has stood, at 5½d. per pound.
During all these years the people have borne the burden of maintaining White Australia without a murmur. If Mr. Bruce will consult the records of sugar consumption in Australia, throughout the period, and will compute, in the increased cost per pound, the amount that the people have paid to maintain their ideal, he may be astounded to find that the cost to them has exceeded £50,000,000! It is a colossal figure, and seems almost incredible. Knibbs verifies it.
These details are mentioned to impress on Mr. Bruce that his undertaking to stand behind the sugar industry (which is not only “one” of the bulwarks of the White Australia ideal, but, also, is the original and still the most impregnable), is simply what it was his bounden duty to give. It might be ungracious to say “Thank you for nothing,” but, as Mr. Bruce now appears keenly to realise the weight of obligation that rests on him, all is well.
Even the ranks of Tuscany will scarce forbear to cheer the Prime Minister’s definite undertaking that immediately on his return to Melbourne, the position of the sugar industry will be laid before the Cabinet as a matter of prime urgency.
The industry is of paramount importance to Australia as a whole, and it is more than contemptible that Southern States should squeal at paying their fair share towards its efficient maintenance.
The people of Australia are devotees at the shrine of White Australia: the peerless national creed is embedded in their hearts; and, with all due deference to Mr. Bruce, his sudden realisation at the importance of the sugar industry as White Australia’s impregnable bulwark, suggests that coming events cast big shadows before.
Truth (Brisbane, Qld.), 26 October 1924, p. 1
A1 = a description given to something which is of the best quality or highest standards; excellent, first class, first-rate, top quality; something which has the best or highest classification
bounden = beholden, being under an obligation (e.g. a bounden duty), bound morally or compulsory to a responsibility or duty; (archaic) bound, past tense of bind
Bruce = Stanley Bruce (1883-1967), federal parliamentarian 1918-1929 and 1931-1933, leader of the Nationalist Party 1923-1929, and Prime Minister of Australia 1923-1929
Chink = a Chinese person; something that is Chinese in origin or style, e.g. a “Chink restaurant”
Kanaka = a Pacific Islander employed as an indentured labourer in various countries, such as Australia (especially in Queensland), British Columbia (Canada), Fiji, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu; in Australia the kanakas were mostly used on the sugar plantations and cotton plantations in Queensland; some kanakas were taken by unscrupulous “recruiters” into virtual slavery (a practice known as “blackbirding”), by kidnapping, being lured with false promises, or being signed up under contracts which were of dubious value (the word “kanaka” derives from the Hawaiian word for “person” or “man”)
Knibbs = George Handley Knibbs (1858-1929), an Australian statistician; head of the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics
ranks of Tuscany = a reference to a line in the poem “Horatius at the Bridge” (“And even the ranks of Tuscany could scarce forbear to cheer”), by Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800-1859), an English historian, politician and poet; the poem featured Horatius Cocles, who played a major role in the defence of one Rome’s key bridges during an Etruscan invasion