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Black Man's Burden
Chief Protector Criticised
Nearly , clad and looking slightly self conscious in- the clothes of white men, a deputation, comprising seven full-blooded aborigines' and half-castes— the first of
its kind on record in this State— -waited upon the Premier (Mr.P. Collier) yesterday, and ventilated a series of grievances The Chief Protector of Aborigines (Mr. A. O. Neville) and Mrs.-Daisy Bates old- Ooldea were adversely criticised by the speakers. One of the deputationists, an educated half-caste, is a vigneron in the Swan district. Equality With Whites 'William Harris, a half-caste, the spokesman of the deputation stated the deputation's case in perfect English and showed no small signs of erudition. The Aborigines Act, he said, had always operated to the detriment of the aborigines and lately it had become unbearable. Educated natives were punished under the British law but otherwise they were treated like wild blackfellows. They should not' be debarred from entering the capital city of their own country. The Premier: Do,you think it would be well for the natives if they were allowed to enter the city without restriction? I suggest that the association of natives with the whites has not been altogether beneficial to your people. Mr Harris : That is due to the absurd regulations of the Act. The restrictions should not be enforced against educated aborigines, who are paying taxes like the white men. Continuing. Mr. Harris said that any man who read the Aborigines Act with an unbiassed mind knew it was dead against the natives.Why should the aborigines be dumped into any place the Chief Protector might choose ? There was much injustice in the provision that em- ployers must secure a licence before em- ploying aborigines. The Premier: If there were unrestricted employment of natives, it would encourage sweating by employers. Mr Harris: Natives south of Carnarvon are quite capable of looking after them- selves, although those in the Far North may not be. There were no reserves, he continued, where natives might live in their na- tural state. Although the reserves were set aside for natives, they were within the area of pastoral leases, and squatters drove the aborigines away. The native reserve at Mogumber was a prison because men were forced to stay there against their will. What was to prevent the natives from living like other free citizens of the Commonwealth? The Premier: There would be no objec- tion if they were all like you and other members of the deputation, but your whole race could not be allowed to live freely under the same conditions as the whites. The natives, Mr. Harris resumed, ob- jected to the Chief Protector's trans- ferring families and individuals from their natural districts to settlements like Mo- gumber, where they were forced to mingle with hostile natives from other tribes. They also objected to native police being placed in control at the settlement, as this led to undesirable practices. Northern Cut-Throats. - 'These cut-throats from the North,' he continued, 'have unlimited power White men should be appointed, if police must be kept there.' Another member of the deputation in- terjected that at Mogumber women and children were forced to associate with gaolbirds from the North. Most of the black police were gaol-birds. 'Policemen, white or black, are the terror of the natives,'' Mr. Harris said 'The natives run for their lives when they see a policeman .' The Premier: What do they do when they see a black policeman?— They run twice as fast. '' Aboriginals, said the speaker, had no time for the Chief Protector, and were afraid of him. The Premier: Mr. Neville merely ad- ministers the laws; he is hot responsible for them. I don't think a college edu- cation is any advantage to a Protector of Aborigines. A man with practical ex- perience and an early association with natives, who understands their customs and habits, is required. The whole point lies in the administration of the law Undoubtedly, your people have suffered through want of discretion. White people suffer similar disabilities through foolish administration of the law. Mr. Harris: We want to live up to the white man's standard. It is no trouble to follow the white man's ideals, although there is room for improvement. The Premier: Do you suggest that the Chief Protector should live among the natives so that he might be better able to understand their requirements? Mr. Harris: That would be'no good at all. The prohibition against carrying firearms, he continued, was another hard- ship, as it prevented natives in the North from providing for their needs. The Premier: I don't think any native will touch a white man without provo- cation. In any report of the murder of a white man by a native, the white man seems to have been blameworthy. 'If a native State is provided nearly as many soldiers and police as there are aborigines will be required to keep them there.' Mr Harris said. 'The depart- ment established to protect us, is clean- ing us up. We were far better off under administration from England. Under the present Act, Mr. Neville owns us body and soul. There should be discrimina- tion under the Act between full-blooded aborigines and half-castes.' A member of the deputation: 'Natives living in the North should be subject to control different from that exercised over those in the south. The Worst Enemies Mr. Harris said that Mrs. Daisy Bates and Mr. Neville were the worst enemies of the aborigines. The Premier: I understood Mrs. Bates was the' saviour of the natives. 'Mr. Harris: She is doing it for pub- licity, so that people may call her a courageous woman for living amongst 'the blacks. If she did not encourage the natives to cadge at Ooldea, they would fend for them&elves Concluding, he said that natives edu- cated up to the standard of white men should be exempted from the Aborigines Act. The Premier, in reply, said he was very glad to have met the deputation, whose members had presented their case in a concise and logical manner that would have done credit to any deputation he had received in his office. The problem was a great one. Whenever the white and the coloured races came into contact, so- cial problems were always created. In Australia, more than in any other part of the world, the white man was under a great obligation to do justice to the aboriginal, because he had deprived him of his country. Aborigines were extinct in some parts and were rapidly disappear- ing in other parts of Australia. It would be one of the calamities of civilisation if the aboriginal were to become extinct in Western Australia not only from a humanitarian, but from a scientific point of view. Legislation on the part of the white races likely to prevent the decay of the aborigines, should be enacted. Mr- Harris: Then the laws should be drafted by someone who knows some- thing about the blackfellow. 'I entirely sympathise with that,' concluded the Premier, 'and if I can help you in any way, I shall be only too glad to do what I can for you.'