Asian Studies Program

Chinese Australia

Digital Documents Record

1253 Shi Geen asks that all be treated equitably under the Factories and Shops Act, 1907

Full Document Caption:
Shi Geen argues that he should not be discriminated against because his father was Chinese and that as a naturalised and law-abiding citizen of Victoria he should have the right if he wanted to be a cabinetmaker, laundryman or keep a ‘small shop’ under the Factories and Shops Act like any other Victorian.

Source: ‘Chinese citizens’ rights: to the editor of the Argus’, Argus, 23/8/1907

Region: Date From: 1907 To: 1907

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Sir, - Many years ago, when Sir Alexander Peacock was probably playing marbles at school, and when people seemed to have a much broader view of fairness and justice, I availed myself of an open invitation to give up my status as a subject of the Emperor of China and become a citizen of Victoria. Thereupon, I was in due form of law granted "all the rights of a British subject in Victoria" (except that of becoming a member of the Executive Council!). That grant I fondly believed, and still believe, to be inviolable.

It comes as a rude shock to me, after many years of residence here as a law-abiding citizen, to find the Chief Secretary supporting measures which, to say the least constitute gross breaches of faith and good conscience, and seek to differentiate against me only because my father was a Chinaman - and a good-living man at that.

I am neither a cabinetmaker nor a laundryman; nor yet the keeper of a "small-shop" within the meaning of the Factories Acts, but why should I not be, if I so desire, just so much as Sir Alexander Peacock or any other decent citizen? - Yours, &c.,


Aug. 22