5 MAY 1961, Page 13


on the country as Mr. Muggeridge but also by Australians themselves, has once again been manifested in your correspondence columns.

The White Australia policy is an economic measure informally implemented (and stoutly defended by the political Left in Australia) to keep out a labour force that would be prepared to (and in one depressing period of Australia's history actually did) work for wages far lower than Australians are prepared to accept. To impute other motives into its maintenance is sinister nonsense. Those wishing to inform themselves on this matter might read the history of Kanaka labour in the Queensland canefields. Whether the White Australia policy can be defended on these grounds is not now canvassed; but it would be better if future correspon- dents on the subject were to hang their emotional coats on the right hook.

On the subsidiary issue of Asian graduates of Australian universities not being allowed to remain in Australia it may be worth reminding the rhetorical Mr. Carlton that the Australian Govern- ment spends millions of pounds a year bringing Asian students to Australia to train them so that their skills may assist their countries in the struggle they face in the world. For Australia to skim off the cream of Asian intellect by allowing these graduates to remain would be a great disservice to Asia as well as an indefensible way of spending Australian taxpayers' money; there are plenty of Australian students with ample claims to governmental assistance in their training to fill jobs in Australia.

For the benefit of Messrs. Muggeridge and Carl- ton the correct term for the indigenous inhabitants of Australia is 'Aborigines.' The point has been made that Australians avoided a colour problem with the 'Abos' by killing most of them off as soon as possible after settlement and the statistical evidence suggests that on this score our great-great-grandfathers be- haved disgracefully. But is Australia's behaviour so disgraceful now? The answers to Mr. Muggeridge's debating school questions are that aborigines are treated as equal citizens—but only when they have established their ability to accept the responsibility of citizenship. This may not be fair (after all, there are plenty of white Australian citizens who obviously find these responsibilities too much for them) but it is at least an attempt to bring the aborigines closer to our view of civilisation. There are, of course, plenty of anthropologists who deplore these attempts, claiming that they tend to break down the old tribal ways without satisfactorily replacing them. So Australia may well be on the wrong track, but at

least it is making some attempt to bring the question- able benefits of civilisation to its black minority, with an ultimate view to full citizenship. This, as even Mr. Muggeridge must concede, is not a policy of apartheid.—Yours faithfully,