6["Coloured Labor", The West Australian, Tuesday 10 February 1914, page 4]

Coloured Labor.

To the Editor.


From 1886 to 1889 Sharks Bay pearling was in a flourishing condition. Shells and pearls were plentiful, and there was a good market for both. This fact attracted the attention of a number of Chinese traders, who, by that gradual process peculiar to the Asiatic, worked slowly into the business of small shop owners and boat owners. The position became intolerable, and forced European pearlers to combine, form a Sharks Bay Pearling Association, get legal advice about the framing of rules, and make an offer to lease the whole of the Sharks Bay pearling grounds for Europeans only. For this privilege we agreed to pay fo the Government 8O per annum, instead of paying a royalty per ton. Our offer was accepted, and the next problem was the colour question. After serious consideration and much legal advice, we petitioned the Government to make an offer to buy out the whole of the Chinese boats and plant for a fixed sum, and then give them notice to quit. To this the authorities agreed, but, as a precaution against rioting or bloodshed, a number of police and "specials" were sent up to join the local police, and to assist the white pearlers, as we were not sure in what spirit the China men would receive their notice to quit. As the Chinese camp was at Egg Island Bay, a notice was sent to that place warning them of our intentions, and shortly afterwards the Government President, police, and pearlers "rolled up" to assist in case a riot might occur. When all had assembled, the magistrate produced the official documents required in such cases, including the Riot Act, and the whole matter was explained to the Chinese through an interpreter. At first they would have none of it. They cursed the Queen, and they cursed the Governor, and all in authority under him. But in the end wiser counsels prevailed, induced probably by the military display made by law, police, and pearlers. So they accepted the terms offered, and within a fortnight had cleared out of the Bay. Thus the coloured problem was dealt with successfully by a handful of white pearlers, assisted by a few police headed by a Resident Magistrate. This event may give food for thought to those who are now studying the colour problem.

Yours, etc., J.S.D.

Claremont, Feb. 7.