"There is no question of White Australia," declared Mark Sheldon, Australian Commissioner to the United States, speaking at the Union last night, "it was settled years ago."
Mr. Sheldon declared that "Australia's first problem is to settle her vast fertile areas with a white people, which must have as high a standard of living as the present population of over five million. A vigorous policy of inducing British immigration has been adopted. Australia is accepting only immigrants of certified health and character.
"For moral and economic reasons Australia is determined to hold its territory as a white man's country. Your Senator Lodge advocates an agreement with Canada, Australia and the other parts of the British Empire for protection against colored races. Premier Hughes of Australia has expressed himself as favoring cooperation, and believes, with Senator Lodge, that no nation can take as a cause for war the exclusion of her subjects from another country."
In speaking of the tariff question, Mr. Sheldon explained why it was necessary for Australia to have a strict protective tariff. Australia, as shown in the past war, must be self-supporting; her industries must be protected. America is her nearest neighbor, and she is 8000 miles away. The results of this tariff policy are shown in the recently founded steel industry, which already supplies the country's needs for rails and all kinds of structural steel.
"The labor problem in Australia has always been one of great importance. There are 767 labor unions in the country, with a membership of 580,000, which includes, practically all the workers. Legislation has long been developing to control this highly organized labor, to regulate wages, hours, and conditions of work. Labor has several times even held the upper hand in the government for periods of three or four years, and no laws passed at those times have ever been repealed, showing that the workers take their responsibility seriously.
"After the period of depression in 1893, wages were so reduced that public opinion demanded a change; the result was the formation of wage administration boards, presided over by state officials, and consisting of three or four representatives each from the employers and the employees. The awards granted were in variably increases for the workers. In 1901 in New South Wales, a compulsory arbitration commission was formed; which soon was so congested with complaints and cases, that subsidiary boards were formed, and later a federal arbitration board, presided over by a federal High Court judge.
Unfortunately dissatisfaction at awards and the slowness of decisions, combined with the impossibility of enforcing the laws against strikers, has resulted in an increased number of strikes, rather than the expected decrease. The workers are so well off that they realize that their demands are extreme and would be rejected by a court; therefore they take the surer method of striking. Means must be provided so that the employer will not be compelled to accept conditions repugnant to him, forced on, him by unions.