COLONISATION OF JEWISH REFUGEES
I have to report an interview which Dr. I. N. Steinberg, Secretary-General of the Freeland League for Jewish Territorial Colonization, recently had with me.
Dr. Steinberg mentioned he had personally met you, and also Mr.
Holloway , and had discussed with you the development of a colony for Jewish refugees in Western Australia and Tasmania. He understood, however, that the Prime Minister was quite averse to such proposals.
I indicated to Dr. Steinberg that the Australian authorities felt that any segregation of any part of the Australian population would be undesirable, and emphasised that members of Jewish communities had been assimilated with other peoples in Australia and had been found to be cooperative and law-abiding. The Australian Government felt that anyone received into Australia as a citizen should have the opportunity of choosing his own place of residence and should be able to engage fully and freely in every aspect of our community life. The establishment of a separate colony would only give rise to racial differences and would assist in developing within Australia-which was today singularly free from them-some of those unfortunate results which segregation had brought about in Europe. The Australian Government was most anxious to avoid such results which had been fraught with disaster elsewhere.
Dr. Steinberg appreciated the viewpoint I expressed, but maintained his desire that the Australian Government should give favourable consideration to his proposals. He pointed out that colonisation on the scale contemplated would bring considerable capital into Australia. Furthermore, the Jewish people had a real desire to take their part in the pioneering and development of a great country. Considerable advantage in the way of increased productivity would accrue to Australia if it were possible to admit Jewish refugees in the way proposed.
When Dr. Steinberg regretted our insistence upon individual applications for admission as immigrants, I told him I did not feel that this principle in our immigration policy would be departed from, as we felt strongly that every case, in respect both of health and suitability, should be adjudged on its own merits.
I finally promised that I would bring Dr. Steinberg's views to the notice of the Government.