Editorial: "The Kanaka Labour Traffic" - The Argus

Editorial: "The Kanaka Labour Traffic" - The Argus

by: The Argus | publication date: December 22, 1892 | Publication: The Argus | pages: 4

"Many British subjects would envy the lot of the kanaka labourer in Queensland." Such are the words in which our representative who has made a cruise incognito in a labour vessel through the Solomon Islands, who has seen with his own eyes the recruiting of the plantation labourers, who has visited the beach in the boats of the schooner Helena and seen the relatives and friends of those who volunteered for the Queensland service, and who has talked with the recruits on their voyage to Bundaberg, and had every opportunity of discovering whether they had any complaint to make or whether any advantage was taken of their supposed ignorance by an unscrupulous captain – such are the words in which our representative sums up his experience of the labour traffic. Sentiment is cheap, and it is an easy thing for people who have never seen an islander from the Solomon group, and who know nothing of the intelligence of that race, which is mentally and physically one of the strongest among all the races that inhabit the lands of the Pacific, to assume that the labourers are cajoled or kidnapped by the guile or force of the white man. It is easy also, and it may give pleasure to such men as the Rev. Dr. Paton, to say that the labour traffic is injurious to the mission settlements. A complete answer to this sentimental quackery is given by our special correspondent.”

 

An editorial by The Argus drawing attention to Melvin's largely positive experience with labour recruitment during his four month voyage on The Helena.

Public domain.