1st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3p.m., and read prayers.
Royal assent to the following Bills reported -
Punishment of Offences Bill.
Supply Bill No.5.
Immigration Restriction Bill.
Pacific Island Labourers Bill.
– I ask the opportunity to make a statement on behalf of the Ministry upon a subject which at the present time is largely engaging public attention.
– I should like to know whether we are to be allowed to ask questions prior to any statement being made by the Minister.
– I have a right to make this statement.
– If the Prime Minister is about to make a statement in regard to the proposed despatch of a contingent to South Africa, I, for one, object to his doing so.
– I intend to conclude with a motion which will give the honorable member and every other honorable member an opportunity of discussing what I have tosay.
– I abject to any such motion.
– The Prime Minister asks for leave to make a statement, upon the conclusion of which he intends to move a motion. Of course, leave must be given by the House, and I therefore put the question that leave be given.
– I object.
– The Prime Minister can only proceed on motion.
– Then I shall conclude my statement with a motion for the suspension of the standing orders, to enable me to move a motion which, I think, ought to be moved at once, and in regard to which I think the Government should exercise-
– Is the Prime Minister in order in moving the suspension of the standing orders without notice?
– The Prime Minister is certainly in order in moving a motion for the suspension of the standing orders ; but the standing orders will not be suspended except with the assent of an absolute majority of the whole House.
– I wish, in the first instance, to make on behalf of the Ministry a statement in regard to our intention to send a contingent of 1,000 mounted men to South Africa, a matter which is exciting a great deal of publicinterest.
– Perhaps I had better put the motion for the suspension of the standing orders before the right honorable gentleman proceeds further.
– I would rather be allowed to make my statement before moving the suspension of the standing orders, so that upon that motion honorable members may have the opportunity of criticising to the fullest extent anything I may say. I hope that the House will be in favour of that course being adopted, because I think it is the right course for the Ministry to propose. There is an inherent right in a leader of a Government to make a statement on any public subject without leave of the House.I propose to exercise that right, and afterwards to move the suspension of the standing orders, in order that the right which I have exercised may be participated in by every honorable member, whether he agrees with me or not.
– Neither the Prime Minister nor any other Minister has any right under the standing orders to make a statement without leave of the House. If the right honorable gentleman intends to conclude in a motion for the suspension of the standing orders, it is entirely for him to say whether he will move it at the beginning or at the end of his speech.
– I prefer to move the motion at the end of my speech, so that honorable members may have an opportunity to criticise anything I may say.
– You have stated, sir, that the standing orders give no right to a Minister to make a Ministerial statement without leave of the House, but I think you will take notice of the unbroken practice of British Parliaments from, I believe, time immemorial. It is a matter of great public importance that Ministers should have the right to make Ministerial statements to the House, and I hope that you will take an opportunity to consider the question quite apart from the standing orders, and as resting upon the unbroken practice of Parliaments.
– We must not assume that because a matter is not provided for in a set of standing orders, it is therefore not provided for in the law and practice of Parliament. Until almost recently the House of Commons had only 28 standing orders, though its standing orders have since increased very largely. But altogether apart from the standingorders, a law of Parliament has grown up by the creation and extension of precedents which control the practice and procedure of the House, except where it is overruled by standing orders, and the Legislatures of all English communities have based their procedure upon the procedure and practice of the British Parliament. The right to make a statementto the House, in order that its members may take such action as they please in regard to the matter under discussion, is inherent in Ministers, and belongs to the House itself. I ask you, sir, therefore, not to decide definitely upon this question before obtaining the opportunity to determine whether there is anything in the standing orders which takes away a right which belongs to the House itself.
– I claim the same privilege as the Prime Minister and the leader of the Opposition to make an explanation in regard to this matter. The Prime Minister tells us that he intends to take a certain course in order to allow honorable members to traverse any statements which he may make. He gives that as one of the reasons why he should be allowed to make a certain statement. I want to know, however, if, in moving the suspension of the standing orders, he is about to make the statement which he intended to make prior to his resolve to move the suspension of the standing orders. If so, he is certainly attempting to evade the restrictions put upon honorable members by the standing orders. I know that I am on tender ground in referring to this matter, but I should like to point out to the right honorable gentleman that there is no hurry for the motion which he wishes to move. He could give notice of it in the ordinary way, and it could then be dealt with to-morrow.
– On the point of order,
Ministers and other members of the House have clearly the right to make any statement at any time by leave of the House, but only by leave of the House, and the standing orders expressly declare that leave must be granted without dissent. Therefore, the objection of the honorable member for Kennedy is fatal to the Prime Minister on this occasion making any statement to the House except in the way which he proposes - a speech which will conclude with a motion such as for the suspension of the standing orders.
– At the close of my statement, which, I suppose, assumes the form of a speech under your ruling, sir, I intend to move the suspension of the standing orders, to enable me to move without notice -
I shall proceed to show what has happened since the adjournment of the House. The intention to send troops has arisen in consequence of a cable message which was received through the Governor-General from the Secretary ofState for the Colonies eight days after the House rose, and which reads in these words -
In view of prolongation of hostilities in South Africa, His Majesty’s Government will be glad to accept services of further contingent from Australian Commonwealth, number one thousand. Conditions of service as follows: - Firstly, men to be able to ride and shoot. Secondly, cavalry rate of pay to date of embarkation, subsequently ImperialY eomanry rates. 5s. a day, &c. Thirdly, Commonwealth Government to provide horse, saddlery, uniforms, boots, &c.; repayment by Imperial Government. Fourthly, officers to be nominated byCommonwealth Government. Fifthly, medical arrangements to be as for Imperial Yeomanry. Sixthly, preference to be giventomenwhohavehadpreviousservicein SouthAfrica;singlemenonlytobeenlisted. Seventhly, transport will be arranged by War Office. Eighthly, period of service to be one year or duration of war.
That message was received on the 21st of December, and this reply was sent with the least possible delay -
Necessary number will be gladly provided by the Commonwealth on the terms stated.
– Is that all the correspondence with the Home Government?
– I do not understand what the honorable member means.
– Is that all the correspondence between Mr. Chamberlain and this Government?
– There is no other correspondence between Mr. Chamberlain and this Government on this subject, except one confidential despatch.
– There was some more?
– The despatch is from the Home Government, and not from this Government, but it does not alter the situation, and is confidential. Since then there have been several despatches received.
– The Government got that before I asked the question.
– If the honorable member will be kind enough to listen to me he will get out the whole material for the speech which he proposes to make.
– We did not the last time we asked a question.
– Perhaps the honorable member will learn by having a little patience.
– We only got it out of the right honorable and learned gentleman by accident.
– There have been since then several despatches, which have been on matters of detail connected with the equipment of the contingent. If the honorable member wishes to know, there has been no offer of troops on the part of the Commonwealth Government ; this is perhaps satisfactory to the honorable member, and unsatisfactory to many others. The bald fact is that there has been no correspondence involving an offer of any troops on the part of this Government, and I think the honorable member may take that statement from me as being quite without reservation. The answer, as I said, was that the necessary number would be gladly provided by the Commonwealth, on the terms stated. As part of this history, I now revert to a statement made by me in this House, in response to a question, on the 11th of December -
– Is it the intention of the Government to send a further contingent to South Africa ? If so, will they take the House into their confidence before coining to any determination in the matter?
– No determinationhas yet been come to upon this matter, and the Government will immediately inform the House when they do come to a determination upon it.
– Before acting upon that determination ?
– Yes. When they come to a determination they will inform the House, so that any honorable member may take such steps in regard to the matter as may seem desirable to him.
I now proceed to advert to the situation at the time when that question was asked and that answer given. On the 9th December, as honorable members will well remember, there appeared in the press a cable message quoting the sneers of the German newspapers at Australian loyalty, and referring to Australia’s disinclination to send more troops, stating that Australia’s military ardour had vanished since it became evident that the war was not a nursery game. I took immediate steps to see whether that could be verified or not. but, unfortunately, I did not receive the information which I applied for by cable until the 17th, when I received a cable stating what had appeared in the Times. The statements which had appeared, and the taunts at the honour and the valor and the loyalty of the British people and the British soldiers, including the Australians, were understated in that telegram, for in the message I received I found these words : -
Times of 7th December contained telegram from Berlin giving translation of passage in Vossiche Zeitung of which the following is verbal extract : - “ So long as it was thought in the colonies that military laurels could be cheaply won by a promenade to Johannesburg and Pretoria, there were young people forthcoming in Canada and Australia, bent upon adventures and military glory, who were glad to fight for the idea of the Empire. But military ardour soon vanished when it became evident that the war against the Boers was no nursery game. Since then the Imperial idea has given but few proofs of its vitality.”
Honorable members will see that that is a much more serious statement than the one which had appeared in the press before the adjournment of Parliament, and a statement which I, for one - I suppose there are others in the House-
– Who wrote that, some penny-a-liner?
– That appears in the Times from the Vossiche Zeitung, one of the leading newspapers in Germany.
– By some penny-a-liner, I suppose.
– It is one of the leading newspapers in Germany. But if the honorable member is inclined to group all these press attacks from German sources as pennyaline ones, then perhaps he will be not at all inclined to think there is any truth in them. I am one of those who say that there is no truth in them, and I think the time has come when, taking this fact in conjunction with other facts which I shall presently relate, I should propose to suspend the standing orders, in order to afford the House the first opportunity of passing some resolution which will leave no uncertainty about the feeling and the loyalty of this Parliament and this country. Had this request for troops come to the Government while Parliament was sitting no action would have been taken without a full opportunity for discussion ; though the Government certainly would not have refused - it would have agreed to send any troops, and would have submitted, if the House was not sitting, its determination to Parliament afterwards, for honorable members to take such action as they might be advised. But what was the position at that time? No one can doubt the importance of the German newspaper which was responsible for the statement published in the press of the 9th December. This statement was much amplified, and appeared to be much stronger when, on the 17th December, after the House rose, I received a message telling me what had actually been quoted in the Times from the German journal I have referred to. On the 10th December last, as honorable members will recollect, there appeared in the Age and the Argus a letter from the ex-Minister of Defence for Victoria suggesting an offer of 5,000 troops, and on the 11th December the question of offering these troops was discussed in the press, and was common talk among citizens. When the question was asked me by the honorable member forKennedy on the 11th December, the matter of that offer was in the minds of every one, and the question which I assumed the honorable member to ask me was whether we had determined to offer any troops. It had been fully determined by the Government at that time not to offer any troops, or at any rate not to make any offer without consulting Parliament. I may say, if I may be allowed to do so, that before I stated to the honorable member that it was not the intention of the Government to offer troops, I had made a similar declaration which had appeared in the press, and I made that statement on two grounds. The first was that when the spontaneous offers of troops were made by the various Australasian colonies in October, 1899, the situation was wholly different from that which existed in December last. The British arms had sustained certain reverses, and the Boers had threatened to drive all the English in South Africa into the sea - we see now from recent disclosures how they were preparing to do this.
– Where is the evidence of that threat ?
– I shall not argue the matter, because I think it is common knowledge; but if the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne will look back to the papers of the time, he will see that the leading Boers had uttered this threat, and that it was published in the newspapers of the old country.
– According to the newspapers they have already killed 3,000,000 Boers in South Africa.
– Honorable members can give their own version of these matters, and I accept the responsibility for my own. The whole question which was agitating the minds of the public on the 1 1th December, and which I assumed to be agitating the mind of the honorable member for Kennedy was, whether the Government intended to offer troops to the British Government. They did not intend to make any such offer, and I may state the reasons why. After the reverses, to which I have referred, had been sustained by the British arms, the situation was totally different from that which existed in December last, because, as we all know, although sufficient troops were eventually sent to South Africa to retrieve the major part, if not the whole of the losses incurred1, there was a lapse of time during which reinforcements from us would be peculiarly acceptable, in order to fill up the gap before a fresh array corps could be sent from England. Therefore the offer made by the colonies was peculiarly opportune. The situation was not the same in December last, and [ freely grant that to the honorable member for Kennedy.
– An offer of troops was made before there was any fighting in South Africa.
– I was in the New South Wales Parliament, and supported the offer to which I refer, and my memory does not take me back the same distance as that of the honorable member. He may be right, or he may be wrong. However, there was a time when there was an insufficiency of troops in South Africa, and it was at that time that the offer was made by the different States now forming the Commonwealth.
– Mr. Dickson, the Premier of Queensland, offered troops long before war was declared.
– At any rate there was a proved insufficiency of troops in South Africa at the tame to which I refer - that was a matter that, to use the popular parlance, was “ sticking out.” Time went on and the reverses to British arms were retrieved. Johannesburg was taken, and Bloemfontein and Pretoria were also captured, and when I was asked whether the Government would make an offer of troops we had arrived at this position : The Marquis of Salisbury had previously stated in his Guildhall speech that every week showed that the British aims were making substantial progress in South Africa. The situation in December last was different also, because of the practice established by the British Government itself, and for this reason I now propose to mention some facts which may have been to some extent forgotten. About the 1st March, 1900, 2,000 Imperial bushmen were asked for. The message received was as follows : -
Her Majesty’s Government require additional force of 2,000 men of a similar kind to the bushmen for general service anywhere in South Africa, and they are confident that Australia will respond to this further call.
Then follows a statement of the terms on which the Imperial Government would provide for that contingent. On 2.9th December, 1900, the Secretary of State for the Colonies wired us to the effect that Lord Kitchener had paid a high compliment to the services rendered by the Australian troops, and that Her Majesty’s Government would highly appreciate such additional assistance as the colonies might be able to give. The telegram suggested that the strength of the contingent should be kept up by drafts of men from the colonies, as Lord Kitchener would be sorry to have any diminution of the mounted troops. That telegram was sent to each- of the States, so that the position of affairs which existed when this Government had come to the conclusion not to make a specific offer of troops, had existed from Mardi, 1900, or for a year and eight months or more, up to the 11th December, last year. We had evidence of the sure and substantial progress of the British arms, offered by the speech of the Marquis of Salisbury, and also the fact that instead of its being thought a humiliation on the part of the British Government to ask for troops, there were at least these two specific occasions - in March and December, 1900 - on which they had asked that contingents might be sent out by us. That being the case, and the Government knowing that on at least two occasions before a general request had been- made to the States for troops, I take it that the Government were exercising a wise discretion when they determined for themselves, and stated to the House that before they sent any troops they should have some official and authentic notification of the necessity for them, and of the probable number required. In what they had done before the Imperial Government had established a precedent in their dealings with the colonies, and upon a reapplication of what they had laid down as the right course, this Federal Government were perfectly ready to do their duty to the Empire. As to our having waited for this official request, may I correct a statement which recently appeared in the press : It was reported in the Argus that I had stated at Maitland that it was a humiliation for the British Government to ask for troops. My statement was exactly the opposite, and
I explained why - namely, that the Imperial
Government had asked us for troops before, and had given us the benefit of knowing what their requirements were. Therefore we have taken in this instance the course which was sanctioned by these precedents. The newspaper in question has very properly corrected the misreport, as can be seen on reference to the Argus of Saturday last ; and I mention the matter now in order that it may be known from end to end of Australia that I did not make use of an expression so utterly unworthy of me as that it was a humiliation on the part of the British Government to ask for assistance from parts of the Empire whose duty it is to furnish that assistance. In order to give an opportunity of discussing the question, it is my intention, as I said before, to move the suspension of the standing orders.
– Go on with that motion ; I withdraw my objection.
– Very well ; but I must say, first, that there have been some imputations made against the Government of a breach of faith in accepting this invitation to send troops, and in going on with the preparations for sending them. I want to make it clear to honorable members that all that was present to my mind, and all that was present probably to the mind of the honorable member forKennedy was that there was the question seething in the public mind as to whether we should offer troops or not ; and as we had not made up our minds to offer, as distinct from accepting an invitation to supply troops, I said we would not do anything without consulting Parliament. But the situation altered, because eight days after Parliament arose, and ten or eleven days after the honorable member for Kennedy had asked his question - which to my mind pointed only to an offer - we got a further telegram specifically asking us to furnish troops. I put it to honorable members : how was it possible for any one to suppose that, on receipt of that telegram, any part of the Empire which knew its duty could refuse to accede to the request? Whatever a man’s sympathies are, unless he is of opinion that we should break the bond of union between us and the mother country, he must see that, if she shows evidence of any extraordinary requirement of assistance, a denial of such assistance would appear to be almost a denial of our responsibilities to the Empire, and that it would be right for us to at once accede to the request. I need not, in referring to this portion of the subject, point out to honorable members that the bond of Empire is not one only of mere patriotism - on which terms I think the bond of itself ought to be maintained if there were no ulterior considerations - but also one of self-interest. One thing is quite clear, and that is what I spoke of when referring to the first troops from New South Wales - namely, that in the event of Britain at any time losing the control of the passage of the Suez Canal, the route by South Africa would become most important as the trade route from Great Britain to India and Australia. I will not, at the present stage, go into what I have to say on the resolutions. I am now only showing reasons why the standing orders should be suspended in order to enable me to submit those resolutions.
– I am willing to withdraw my proposal.
– I think the two things should be kept separate.
– All right.
– And I will tell the honorable member why I think the two matters ought not to be confused. Honorable members may desire to criticise the actions of the Government in connexion with the sending of the contingent, and I am perfectly willing that that criticism should be expressed. But, at the same time, I think that when we come to the resolutions I shall have to move, they should be as little as possible leavened or defaced by any quarrel amongst ourselves. We ought to do our very utmost to sec that they are carried free from any such considerations. I was going on to say that honorable members will see plainly, from the statement I have made, that my answer was confined to what was then inmy mind, and what I thought was in the mind of the honorable member. Two positions occurred - first, I was not dealing with anything but the subject of an offer which we did not intend to make, and, next, I was under the impression that as Canada and New Zealand had offered troops - which we did not intend to do - if there was any requirement for troops, we should probably hear of it before Parliament rose, an event which I thought would happen on the 18th, but which as a matter of fact happened on the 14th. It may be unfortunate - though I do not think I can blame myself - that I was careless in not guarding myself by confining the statement to the sitting of the House - by not saying that if any such thing arose in the recess I would deal with it and meet the House afterwards. But I want to say that to any such request we were bound to say “Yes” or “No.” If we had been asked to say “ No,” we should rather have resigned - that is quite clear. But if we were to say “ Yes “ on the 21st, were we to wait 24 days without making any provision for uniforms, without buying a horse, or contracting for a saddle ? How would it have been possible to go on in that way? This is a matter which must be dealt with on broad grounds. The question of an offer was the question in the minds of honorable members, and was certainly the question in my mind. But the situation changed when we were asked to send troops. The request came during the recess, and there was only one answer possible. It would have been absurd to leave the public mind of Australia simmering in exasperation and excitement, simply because the Government were afraid to buy a horse or contract for the supply of a saddle. It was not the duty of the Government to take that view. It was the duty of the Government to recognise their responsibilities to the Empire, and with the full sense of their responsibilities to tell the House what they had done, and how far they had gone, staking their fate upon the opinion of the House.
– What about Henniker Heaton’s statement ?
– I do not want to bandy words about Mr. Henniker Heaton. I only want to say, as an illustration of the various ways in which Australian affairs are understood in England, that I recently received a letter from an educated person there, who ought to have known better, addressed - “ Premier of South Australia, Sydney, New South Wales.” Such ignorance is being constantly illustrated. I was spoken of in England last year as a delegate from Tasmania. It is very difficult to get people in England to recognise the difference between the various States of Australia, and they are very apt to take the mention of one State as the mention of the whole of the Commonwealth. Some comment has been made on the fact that the number of troops we are asked to furnish is only 1,000 ; but I will go so far as to say that had we been asked for 2,000 or 3,000 troops we should have sent them. I move -
That the standing orders be suspended to enable a motion to be made, without notice, in reference to the South African War, and Australian aid to the Empire.
– I heartily echo the desire expressed by the Prime Minister that we should draw a distinct line between any criticism we may have to offer as to the conduct of the Government with reference to matters which the Prime Minister has gone into at considerable length, and the subject of the resolutions which the right honorable gentleman proposes to submit. Those resolutions rise above our local party differences to a level at which I hope the debate will be kept - a level entirely free from narrow distinctions, and embodying, as I believe, the national feeling of Australia. I shall at the proper time have perhaps strong criticisms to offer on the action of the Government in the matters referred to, but I felt so strongly on the more important question that I took the liberty of addressing the letter to the Prime Minister yesterday.
– I shall speak of that presently.
– I want to put my position clearly. So strongly did I feel the propriety of the course which the Government are taking, that I yesterday took the liberty of addressing a letter to the Prime Minister, suggesting, so far as I was concerned, the wisdom of the step, and assuring the Government of my hearty support if they decided to submit a resolution of the kind. I merely make this explanation to show that whilst I do not surrender my right of criticising any action of the Government at any time, I consider that the proposal which the Prime Minister is about to make is one which should unite us all in a unanimous expression of opinion.
Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne)Upon this motion may I say that, whilst I shall not interfere with the Prime Minister’s proposal, I should like to ask, seeing that we have not had a chance of ascertaining their terms, that copies of them should be distributed amongst honorable members at once. I wish also to know if it is the intentionof the Prime Minister to have the different parts of the motion put separately, so that we may be free to deal with it as we. think fit ?
– I am getting copies distributed. The other is a matter for the House to determine.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Mr. BARTON (Hunter- Minister for External Affairs). - I now move -
Before dealing with the body of this motion, may I say that whilst the Cabinet were considering its terms yesterday I received a generous letter from the leader of the Opposition, and I think that perhaps I should be doing my right honorable friend more justice if I read the whole of that letter, which is as follows : -
Bear Barton, - I am strongly of opinion that the false and. scurrilous attacks made so widely and persistently in Europe, and by a few misguided persons in the United Kingdom itself, upon the good faith of the British people and the conduct of His Majesty’s troops now serving in South Africa, call for some public expression of our unabated and whole-hearted sympathy with the mother country and our unbroken confidence in the conspicuous and chivalrous humanity of the Imperial forces.
I desire also to state that if you decide to Submit to the House of Representatives a resolution upon the subject, I will heartily support you.
I replied to my right honorable friend, telling him that we very gladly accepted his offer, and subsequently I sent him the draft of a motion which, although not couched in the exact words of these resolutions, represented very fully what I am now moving. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne has requested that these resolutions should be put separately, and to that course I take no exception. That, however, is a matter for the House to settle for itself, and will, if necessary, be made the subject of a motion to the House. The first part of these resolutions deals with the baseless charges made abroad against the honour of the people and the humanity and the valour of the soldiers of the Empire. In this connexion I have already read not only what has been partly quoted in cables received here on the 9th December last, but what appeared from a verified extract from the Times - which I secured by cable - to be the words of a leading German organ, and I am sure that honorable members will recognise that what I received on the 17th December very much aggravated the enormity of the taunts upon the honour, the capacity, the bravery, and the humanity of our people. Since that time other things have occurred. On the 6th of January, if I may quote from the Argus, I find that the British soldiers and officers were charged with having ravished a third of the Boer women and children, and with having then handed them over to the Kaffirs. These statements were made by persons who were alleged to be eye-witnesses of the occurrences, and, of course, their falsity was enormously aggravated by the fact of men putting their names to them as eye-witnesses. On the 10th of January, a . -speech was made by Count von Bulow, to whom I wish to refer in a tone of respectful moderation. The Secretary of State for the Colonies, exercising his undoubted right of addressing ‘ an audience of his fellow citizens in England, had previously said that if the British army needed precedents for pursuing a certain line of conduct they could find them in the history of the conduct of the armies of other powers. He did not accuse those powers of doing anything beyond what was sanctioned by the rights and the laws of war, but merely pointed out that precedent would afford the British army justification for taking a much stronger course than has been taken. Count von Bulow, in commenting upon that speech in the Reichstag, said -
If Mr. Chamberlain desired to justify his policy in South Africa he hod better not refer to foreign countries, unless he exercised the greatest prudence, lest he should offend their susceptibilities.
Surely this comes well after what has been said against us as a nation. Count von Bulow continued -
The German army stood far too high to suffer from perverted or unjust judgments. .
There I quite agree with him. Notwithstanding all that has been said, acts mav have been committed in the terrible excitement of war which, in individual cases, soldiers have to regret. That may have been the case with the German and other armies, but neither Mr. Chamberlain nor anybody else has accused the German army of exceeding or violating the rights of war. It has merely been pointed out that if precedent were needed for the adoption of more drastic measures, it could be found in the action taken by other countries. On the 1 1th January, the following cable appeared in the Argus -
The Kreuz Zeitung states that Lord Kitchener’s so-called prisoners include aged persons, women, and Kaffir servants. It also asserts that Lord Kitchener has organized commandos of Kaffirs.
Now, we all know that throughout this war the Empire has religiously abstained from calling to its aid the assistance of the armed native inhabitants of South Africa, which was quite within its reach, and might have terminated the campaign much more speedily. But it has had so much regard for the amenities of warfare between white peoples that it has chivalrously refrained from exercising this power. Yet, in repayment for this noble abstention on the part of the Empire, we find an accusation that our prisoners include old persons, women, and Kaffir servants, and that we had organized commandos of Kaffirs. This is a charge against us as well as against England. Our troops are serving in this war under British generals, and are bound to subscribe to the articles of wai1. All these acts which are laid to the charge of British soldiers are, when Australian troops are often indiscriminately drafted with them - charges against our troops as well as against those of the United Kingdom. On the 13th January, quoting from the same paper, I find that Mr. Chamberlain was called by a member of the Reichstag “ the most accursed scoundrel on God’s earth,” whilst the British army was described as “ a pack of thieves.”
– Englishmen have said the same of the late Mr. W. E. Gladstone.
– Have they ? .
– Yes. I have heard them say it.
– Did the honorable member like it ?
– Was it not wrong? Now, on top of all that, and after all we have heard, the Chancellor of the German Empire, Count von Bulow, expressed deep regret at this attack upon the army, and’ deprecated the tendency to vilify foreign Ministers. There was a sort of withdrawal on the part of that distinguished Minister of the German Empire, and for that withdrawal I think we can thank him. I, at any rate, believe that although there was an utterance of Count von Bulow’s that may seem very irritating and annoying to us, on the whole the attitude of the German Empire, as a power, has been correct on the principles of neutrality, and that it has not been in its Government an unfriendly power to us - and when I say us, I mean the Empire. I am not about to make any complaint against the Chancellor of the German Empire, or the German Empire in its government as a power, but I do feel that in continental countries, and especially in that country, there has been, for weeks, a campaign of vilification. We had yesterday or to-day a confession of a Dutch paper, for instance, that it has been absolutely bribed to publish such statements.
– That is what the Daily Express says. What did it say about the massacres in China?
– I do not know what it says about China. Perhaps the honorable and learned member will take the course I took and try and verify such statements. .
– The right honorable gentleman spoke of the Dutch press.
– I took the only course which I think a public man should take in such matters and got these statements, verified, and I found the reality even worse than the reports. That affords no reason to my honorable and learned friend to surmise that because my last reference . was to a Dutch paper the reality will be better than the report in that case.
– Does the right honorable gentleman believe all that the Daily Telegraph says about him ?
– Does the honorable member believe it 1
– I have very good warrant for not believing it. But supposing I do not believe what a certain newspaper says about me, does that give the newspaper any licence to pursue a course of unwarrantable vilification and insult? If newspapers publish fiendish and malevolent statements about a foreign power, do honorable members think that it will not be apt to disturb international relations, or that it is not cruel to the soldiers of another power if they use like terms with regard to them ¥ That is an answer to my honorable friend opposite. We do not need these quotations from papers published in Australia to assure us that there has been a perfect riot of slander on the continent against the Empire to which we are proud to belong. The situation that exists now is in a degree infinitely worse than the situation on the 11th December, when I was asked a question on the subject. Now it becomes abundantly plain that it is the right thing for us to repel these accusations, and to assure the land from which we spring that the jeers and taunts, and statements absolutely unmeasured and wicked, with regard to that country to. which I hope we shall be proud to be always attached, are not believed in Australia. I shall say more than that. I say that as, of necessity, we are implicated in these statements, it is necessary for us to repel them. That leads me to this declaration. And if we are right in repelling the statements by the declaration in the first portion of these resolutions, should we not do right to repel them by the action suggested in the second portion in which we affirm the readiness of Australia to give all that may be required by the mother country, in order to bring the present war to an end ? I Say that I shall always be prepared to do whatever we may learn to be necessary as to the requirements of the mother country for the purpose of bringing this war to an end. I wish to be judged upon these resolutions in this way. I have described the situation whichexisted when I assented to the request to send 1,000 troops. If a position arose in which we thought a spontaneous offer would be on absolute necessity, we might take that course, but the course we have taken we deemed to be a sufficient one, because we are dealing with our own kith and kin and our own flesh and blood, and with a power, therefore, which sustains no humiliation in telling us what it requires. And to the very extent of its requirements, I beg to inform this. House that the intention of the Government is to accede to any request for troops that may be made to us within our capacity.
– Does that carry the payment of the troops as well ?
– If we are asked, decidedly. If it seems necessary and if we are asked, yes. I take that responsibility, and I am sure the House will be with me.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– But sufficient for the day is the evil thereof. War is not a benefit, a privilege, or a delight. When in the endeavour to enrol troops under a medical examination, we read that in one State in one day, out of 50 who presented themselves, and who had previously served in South Africa, 25 were declared to be medically unfit, mainly through heart disease, though they had been fit when earolled for the former campaign, it will be seen that there should be no harum-scarum action taken in such a matter. There is a distinction between hysterica] action in matters of this sort and a recognition of our responsibilities to the Empire so long as we remain a part of it, and I hope that will be through all the days of my sons and my sons’ sons, and through all our time on this earth. But there is that distinction to be drawn, and we do not believe and do not desire to pretend that war is such a boon and benefit to us in Australia that we should run off at a tangent and make offers which our capacity will not enable us to execute, and which a right care of our people ought to lead us not to take. But we ought to be ready within our capacity to supply anything that may be requisite for the purpose of bringing to an end a war which, I say, is shown by mountains of proof to have been conceived in treachery and conspiracy, which has been carried on in many instances by equal acts of treachery and cruelty, and which is supported on the Continent of Europe against us, and against the Empire and the land from which we are sprung by those who wish the injury and downfall of our Empire, which injury and downfall we are by every sacred tie bound to help her to avert.
Mr. REID (East Sydney). - I for one cannot consider the step taken by the Government to be open to any unfriendly criticism. I think the Prime Minister has performed a great public duty in moving the resolutions which I now have the honour to second. I was in a position of some official responsibility before this unhappy war broke out, and in that position I absolutely refused to be a party to any step which might tend to irritate the people in the Boer territories. I hod no sort of sympathy with any kind of interference at that time. But since then events have marched very rapidly, and it seems to me that the act of the President of the Transvaal Republic in declaring war against
Great Britain suggests one or two considerations which we are apt at times to forget. Let us suppose that that declaration of war had been a declaration of war against a suzerain power such as Germany, France or Russia, or any other independent nation. What possible course would have been open to any country but that of taking up this war challenge? And once the challenge was token up, there were only two courses open. In view of that declaration of war, there were only two things which a merciful and humane British Government could do. One was to put an end to the war; the other was to take such steps that no such war could ever possibly occur again. I take those to be the broad lines of Imperial policy in dealing with this unhappy matter, and they have my absolute approval. There is no conceivable policy other than that which could be adopted in dealing with a difficulty of the kind. If the libellous statements to which the Prime Minister has alluded were mere chance remarks in an isolated organ of public opinion, however high its influence, or wide its circulation, I should heartily agree with the spirit of one or two of the interjections which I have heard during this debate ; but I put my support of this motion upon a much broader ground. The fact is, that Great Britain has been fighting at the same time not one war, but two great wars - a war against the Boers, and a war against an organized false and hypocritical campaign of lies, upon the European continent, partly the result of a wholesale and unscrupulous system of bribery. One’s heart becomes full of sympathy for those gallant men who are out on the veldt to-day fighting, as they believe, and honestly believe, for the cause of their country and the rights ‘of human liberty, and it is sympathy with them, deluded by these false and lying statements into continuing this bloody and hopeless struggle, that animates my mind on this occasion. These men, with their money and their bribes in Europe, can carry on their villainous proceedings in comfort ; but my mind turns to those heroic scattered remnants in Africa who are enduring untold hardships in maintaining their flag aloft on the faith of the systematic lie that help is coming - that an European intervention is about to take place. This is but part of a campaign of malevolence against the mother country. I think it is high time that we showed the people who are trying to persuade the Boer soldiers in South Africa that Australia has changed its mind - that Australia is sick of the war ; that Australia its prepared by its changed attitude to encourage them to fight, and keep on fighting - what we feel ; it is time we made our position and attitude absolutely clear before the whole world, as a matter of mercy to these men as much as of mercy and justice to the country to which we belong. Never in the history of the world, I believe, has libel been carried to such sinister lengths. We expect from traditional enemies all sorts of evil interpretations of our actions. When our gallant French neighbours give way to periodical fits of spleen against the British we feel no sort of discomfort, and probably no irritation ; but when a country like Germany talks of being the. traditional friend and ally of Great Britain, yet gives way at the same time - because after all it is the nation that makes an alliance, and not the Emperor - when we find practically the whole people giving way to this gust of hatred–
-What about America ?
– I am talking at present of Germany, and I should like to deal with that country at the present moment.
– America is not represented by Mr. Bryan.
– These wholesale fabrications, imputing the most inhuman, monstrous barbarity to British soldiers and British statesmen, cannot be disregarded. The prestige of the Empire must be supported ; the character of our race must be vindicated. We all know - and there, I think, there is no respectable authority that differs - that in the great wars in which the British armies and navies of the past have taken part, the British soldier and the British sailor was always conspicuous not only for his valour in the hour of strife, but for his tenderness and humanity when the battles were over. That is the high character which has come down to our soldiers and our sailors, and makes our flag one of which we are -all proud. That character is worth preserving. It is a reputation which we ought to strive to value and maintain. We, in these distant parts can do, after all, but little in the great struggles of , the mighty empire to which we belong, but we can do something ; and there is nothing that nerves the arm of the Imperial forces more, as we know now, than those kindly expressions of affection and kinship which flash across the seas from every part of this mighty Empire. I believe this is one of those occasions when our mother country and our soldiers should be again assured of the continuance of those sentiments. I feel that in taking a stand of this sort we in no sense forfeit our desire to maintain the freest and fullest principles of political liberty. What is it that enables us so heartily and so thoroughly to stand by the old flag? It is because conspicuous amongst those of the older nations of the earth that flag is more often found shielding freedom and justice, and protecting the oppressed, than any other that has ever waved in the breeze of heaven. And thus it is that I never feel prouder or stronger in my aspirations after liberty and freedom than when I help, as we all ought to help, in maintaining the Empire which means so much for the benefit of all mankind.
– I regret that the Government have deemed it necessary to bring forward a motion of this kind, because it seems to me that, from whatever stand-point it is viewed, there is no need to pass a motion such as this. As one who has attempted to follow as closely as possible the record of what has been done in South Africa, I believe that never in the history of nations has a war been conducted with a greater regard for humanity than the Boer war, and I am glad to say that authentic reports make it appeal that that remark applies to the conduct of both parties. I have had the pleasure of talking to a considerable number of the men who have returned from South Africa, and, with very few exceptions, they have given every credit to their opponents, the Boers, for the manner in which the wounded have been treated and the prisoners cared for. But while I believe that the war has been conducted with humanity, and that there is practically no basis in fact for the slanders which have been published in the German press and in the newspapers of other civilized countries, I do not think that we should make this an occasion to gratify the vanity of a few people in Germany who think that they can pull the strings to advantage, or allow them to run away with the idea that whenever they twist the lion’s tail he will jump in the direction they want him. It seems to me that in taking notice of the pinpricks of critics whose information entitles them to no consideration, and who have no great influence upon the welfare of the British nation, we are abandoning the traditional attitude of British people from time immemorial, and that it is a sign of deterioration when charges are hurled against us by the press of foreign countries, or when enthusiastic, though misled, persons in our midst raise stories which will not bear investigation, to fall into an hysterical condition in repudiating them. I am. sorry to say, however, that that has been the condition of the English press, and also of our own press. The Times, according to the cabled reports, worked itself up into a terrible ferment over the attacks of the German newspapers, and certain Australian newspapers have out-Heroded Herod in their demands for vengeance upon all and sundry who have dared to whisper a word against the integrity and honour of the Empire. It is only natural that we should feel a certain amount of indignation at what we believe to be absolutely unfounded charges in regard to the conduct of the war, but to carry a series of resolutions in the Commonwealth Parliament specifically denying our belief in them is, I think, like using the proverbial steamhammer to crack a nut.
– Does the honorable member think that more troops should besent ?
– We are now discussing another matter altogether, but, in reply to the honorable member’s question, I say that, if the Empire asks for troops, I am prepared to assist her. I shall probably have a word or two to say with regard to the war itself when we come to the discussion of another motion; at the present time we are discussing whether it is wise to pass the motion moved by the Government. I protest against any such motion being passed, because I think the occasion does not warrant it, and that Parliament in passing such a motion will give undue importance and weight to charges which, after all, have been made by persons who, from a national point of view, are irresponsible. The statement of the German Chancellor, as I read it in the cabled reports, does not seem to me to warrant any indignation so far as the people of Australia or even so far as the people of England are concerned.
– He is trying to take the minds of his own people off their own internal troubles.
– I clave say he has to be exceedingly careful not to offend the German jingoistic feeling, which no doubt is of value to him in the internal government of the German Empire. In the same way we often find men in our own community who are willing to turn manifestations of public feeling into account in their own interests. I certainly take exception to the charges which have been published in the German press, but, «in my opinion, this Parliament will only magnify their importance if it passes the motion submitted by the Government. With regard to the second part of the motion, I am glad that the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne has indicated his desire to have it put separately. I, for one, wish to know, to what it commits us. If it is to commit us to any large demands either for troops or for money, we should have an understanding as to what position is to be taken in regard to the final settlement. It is noticeable that the Secretary of State for the Colonies has persistently stated that Australia will be satisfied with nothing less in the way of a settlement than the complete subjugation of the Boer States. Australia has given no indications of such an intention or desire. We certainly responded to the call of the Empire for assistance whenit was thought that our men would be of service. In loyalty to the Empire we could do no less, so long as there was need for men. But I do not believe, and I should be sorry to think, that our people desire that the war should be carried to the bitterest conclusion, and that the terms made by the British Government with the Boers should be pushed to the last extremity, I will not say of justice, but of possibility.
– How, otherwise, can we terminate the war 1
– That is a matter which concerns Imperial statesmen. It is not for me, nor for the members of this House, to indicate the terms upon which the war should be concluded.
– Arbitration is always open.
– I am afraid that we have gone too far for arbitration. But it is absolutely a wrong thing for Mr. Chamberlain or Lord George Hamilton, who has expressed a similar opinion, to attempt to make the Boers and the world at large believe that Australia and the other colonial possessions, are standing out ; for the last ounce of flesh that is in the bond, or that can be brought within it.
– That is not the published attitude of the British Government.
– The attitude of the British Government can be learned only from the expressions of Mr. Chamberlain. He says -
Great Britain is not entitled to make peace unless on terms satisfactory to the colonies.
And in his recent speeches he has persistently led the public to believe that Australia and the other colonies are insisting, through their representatives, upon extreme conditions being forced upon the Boers.
– How does the honorable member know that is not true ?
– I take it for granted that no set of Ministers would put forward recommendations of that sort without giving some indication of the steps they had taken to their respective Houses.
– They look forward to a form of government there resembling our colonial form of government, and that is free enough.
– Quite so ; and I think that meets the case fairly well. What I am objecting to is the statement that there exists in these States a desire to have the fullest extremity of satisfaction from the Boers in any settlement of the war. I believe that the position occupied by the majority of Australian people is rather that, while they are willing to make all reasonable sacrifices in order that the Empire may be triumphant, at the same time they are ready to consent to any terms which the British Government offer to the Boers. I do not think that there would be any objection if the British Government were to make the most lenient, terms to-morrow ; but the assumption that has been studiously put forward by some of the British press, and by one or two of the British Ministers, has been that Australia and the other colonies would not acquiesce in any such lenient treatment.
– That is merely in reference to the demand for independence.
– I did not take it so. Whether it is advisable is for Imperial statesmen to determine. We have no responsibility as to the terms of settlement. It is for the British Government to determine the distance to which concessions should go, and I believe that the people in these States would back them up if they were to bring the war to a close to-morrow in that manner. I object most strenuously to the idea being put abroad sedulously that we are asking for more than even the British Government ask for - an impossible settlement. The only possible inference to be drawn from the statement which Mr. Chamberlain put forward recently, was that he was prepared to make reasonable concessions, but that he was restrained because of his regard for the feeling of the colonists.
– Did not that refer to the South African colonists ?
Mr.WATSON.- I took it to refer to the dependencies of the Empire as a whole. I should be quite prepared to support the second part of the motion if it indicated the extent to which it commits us in regard to furnishing men and money; and in order to counteract any misapprehension which may have got abroad in that regard I should prefer to see added to it a statement that we are quite prepared to accept any terms of settlement which would be agreeable to the British Government. Of course, it may be held to be presumptuous on our part to interfere at all, but at the same time we have a degree of responsibility which comes from our participation in the war, and, so far as our power allows of our doing it, we should always have in mind, as the Prime Minister indicated, that war is not a thing to be encouraged or a thing to be long drawn out if it is possible to be avoided. I have noted with more than regret the large proportion of our returned soldiers who, when presenting themselves for enrolment in the new contingent, are found to be ineligible for medical reasons. Of those who, in New South Wales, not more than a couple of years ago, were sufficiently well physically to pass the medical inspection - of those who now consider themselves well enough to be enrolled, about one -third have been rejected, and that in a young country where we require every man in order that the interior may become reasonably populated and brought into a state of prosperity. That is indeed a serious condition for us, so I think we have a distinct interest in having this war brought to a conclusion at as early a date as possible, consistent always with the safeguarding of the interests of the Empire. I should prefer to see in this series of resolutions some indication that we are prepared to accept any settlement of the trouble which is satisfactory to the British Government.
– I had no idea that this question would come on for discussion to-day. I am in hearty sympathy with both portions of the motion, and I should have supported the second portion even more heartily if the offer had been a spontaneous one on the part of the Government, and if they had not waited to be reminded of their duty to the Empire by the Imperial Government. I think they have at last done the right thing. There is no part of my public career to which I look back with so much pleasure as the time when my Government were enabled to render assistance to the British Government. During the time we held office - barely one year - we equipped, trained, and despatched four separate contingents, three to South Africa and one to China, and we did not wait to be asked to do so by the Imperial Government - except in one case, I think, speaking from memory. Every country before going to war should exercise the greatest possible care and discrimination to ascertain that its cause is right and just. And having satisfied itself on that point, then the more vigorously the war is pushed forward the more effective, economical, and humane it will be. If the same vigorous policy which was pursued by the whole of the States during the first year of the struggle had been continued, I believe it would have been over before now, because the Boers would then have been convinced of the hopeless nature of the struggle they were trying to prolong. We know that in prolonging it they are only inflicting greater injuries on their own ill-fated country. They are only adding to the bloodshed’ which has been going on there. The more vigorously the war is prosecuted the sooner it will be ended, and the less bloodshed will be involved. Therefore, I sincerely trust that every member of this House will support the motion, as far as it goes. I should certainly have liked the motion to go a little further. It is not only our patriotism and our feeling for our kinsmen at home that should impel us to take this course. Every possible consideration, even of the most selfish character, requires that we should do so. Our connexion with the mother country is of the greatest possible advantage to us. I think it must be admitted, in the first place, that the mother country has given us one of the freest Constitutions that was ever granted to a free people. She has given us all that we have ever asked for in the way of self-government, and our trade relations, and, indeed, all our relations with the mother country, are eminently to our advantage. Above all, we should not forget that our safety depends on the prestige of the British flag. We know that during the first’ century of our existence we should have fallen a very easy prey to any foreign military power that might have careel to undertake our invasion, if we had not been protected by the mother country, and surely the least that we can do, when we remember that we have enjoyed absolute immunity from foreign aggression during the whole of our history, at little or no expense to ourselves, is to give our support, in the most ungrudging spirit, to the mother country in her hour of trouble. I do not care how far this motion commits us. I am prepared to go quite as far as its language can carry us, and I am prepared to affirm the principle that we should aid the mother country as far as we can until the war is brought to a conclusion. It will be time enough to speak about terms when the Boer flag is hauled down. When that time conies, I believe that the mother country will not be unduly hard or harsh, and I am perfectly sure that the people of Australia will show a humane spirit. However, the duty that lies before the Empire now is to bring the war to a termination as speedily as possible, and I believe that not only this portion of the Empire, but every other portion, will cooperate in bringing about that desirable result. We know perfectly well that it was the policy of the man whom I esteemed and respected perhaps as much as any man whose name appears in English history - William Ewart Gladstone - which brought about this war. It was his weak and vacillating policy, dictated by probably the highest and most humane motives that could have inspired any man - it was his mistaken policy that brought about this cruel war. It was his policy, after the slaughter of Gordon at Khartoum’ that brought about the war in the culminating battle of which, at Omdurman, 14,000 or 15,000 Dervishes were slain. That bloodshed would have been averted if a firmer policy had been pursued at the beginning, and it was the same want of firmness after Majuba Hill which resulted in the conclusion of peace, immediately following the signal defeat of a portion of the British army, that encouraged the Boers to take a course that has proved their own destruction. It is that policy that has caused rivers of blood to be shed during the recent war, and which has lost the Boers their liberty. Would it not have been more humane and better for them if a firmer policy had been pursued in the first instance 1 I sincerely hope that we shall make no second similar mistake. I trust that the war will be prosecuted vigorously until it is finished. I believe that the terms then offered will not be unworthy of the great empire to which we are at present offering a small modicum of assistance. It is possible that at no other period in the history of the nation will Australia be in a position to afford more practical assistance to the Empire than at present. We must remember that the seat of war is within three weeks’ sail of our own shores, and that the nature of the conflict is such as to render Australian bushmen especially suitable to take part in it. The Australian bush man is the equal of the Boer in horsemanship, in marksmanship, and in bush craft, and therefore his aid is invaluable to the mother country ; and I am perfectly sure that no considerable section of the people of Australia would tolerate anything in the way of refusing the aid that the mother country is now asking for. My only regret is that she has had to ask for it. I should have been better pleased if the Government had seen their way to make a spontaneous offer of a much larger contingent than that for which the mother country has asked. In asking for this contingent, the British Government may have been actuated by a desire to save the reputation of Australia itself in the eyes of the civilized world, because it would have been a reflection on Australia if we were to have held back when Great Britain was engaged, so near our own shores, in a war in which we could render such material aid. I heartily support the motion.
Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne).When I was before the electors of Northern Melbourne during last February and March, I was asked a question deliberately as to whether if another contingent were proposed to be sent to South Africa, I would support the suggestion, and I said emphatically “No.” In the result, I was returned by a majority over the second candidate larger than was secured by any other Victorian representative in this House.
– Not because of that.
– Other representatives were returned unanimously.
– At all events, it so happened that this was the only matter in which the platforms of my rivals differed from mine. I do not pretend to say that I did not secure votes from men who differed from me in their views upon the war, or from those who did not agree with me to the full extent, but I think it is plain that the people of the Commonwealth are coming to the conclusion that there is no ground for the reckless accusations of disloyalty, or unpatriotic sentiment, made against those who oppose this war.
– Hear, hear. - Common sense.
– Very much ground, I think.
– Although the honorable member for Echuca may be of that opinion, he will admit that I am entitled to mine. It is also plain that I am now perfectly free to follow my own strong personal feelings in this matter ; and I intend to do so. I intend to do so, now that there is a proposal for a contingent, not for the purpose of giving Uitlanders their rights - not for the purpose of driving back Boers who have invaded Natal - but for the purpose of absolutely and unconditionally subjugating the two Boer republics.
– Are there any Boer republics ? Are they not British colonies 1
– I am not in the Law Courts, and I shall not discuss mere words. The Boers must either submit or be killed ; that is the position which has been placed before those people.
An Honorable Member. - That is what any war means.
– No conditions whatever are offered. I oppose the sending of contingents to this war, not on the mere ground of expediency, having regard to the ideal and interests and future policy of Australia, but on the simple, old-fashioned ground of justice. I know that a number of honorable members will at least give me a fair hearing - that if they think me wrong they will bear with me knowing that I am speaking my honest convictions. Honorable members who were in the Victorian
Parliament will recollect that I opposed the sending of a contingent, on the distinct ground that the war was unnecessary and unjust.
– And that a contingent had not been asked for.
– And that a contingent had not been asked for at that time.
– But the honorable member said that if a contingent were asked for it would receive his support.
– No. I opposed the sending of a contingent, pointing out all the grounds on which it appeared to be inexpedient, and I said then, as I have said always, that if England were in extreme need - if her existence were in danger and it were a matter of life and death - we should spend every man and every shilling in defending the Empire.
– It might be too late then.
– Now, after the disclosures which have been made since the beginning of the war, and after the developments that have taken place in the course of the war, I am not likely to have changed my opinion in the slightest degree. But I do not intend to attempt to try to convert any honorable member to my view. I know it would be fruitless to try to do so in the present state of public feeling, and in the present state of information supplied to the public. Such an attempt would be fruitless, in view of the fact that there are so many who unfortunately take up what appears to me the most immoral position of saying that even if the Boers were right in their original stand, Great Britain cannot do anything now but press the war to its ultimate conclusion. That, Mr. Speaker, appears to me to be about as immoral a position as ever a nation conceived. It means that if it were proved up to the hilt that the Boers are heroes, fighting for their hearths and homes against oppressors and tyrants, still, Great Britain, because she has once entered on the war, must fight it through - she must kill every Boer who does not choose to submit to her tyranny. That, of course, is to me a position which is inconceivable when once it is properly faced.
– It is not the case.
– I have not said that it is the case ; I am using such a position as an argument. I admit that the decision as to who is right and to who is wrong must be left to time - must be left to the day of reflection, to investigation and the sifting of evidence. It must be wrought out in the cooling chamber of history. I feel that it would be utterly impossible and absurd for a man to try to convert another on this question one way or the other. The position was the same in regard to the war against the colonies which afterwards became the United States of America. It was the same way with the opium war against China, and with the Crimean war. I may refer to the History of Our Own Times, by Justin McCarthy, in regard to the opium traffic.
– One factor is that the British were not prepared for war, and the Boers were.
– The honorable member for Gippsland has already sufficiently advertised his views to his constituents and the outside world. “With regard to the opium war, we read in the History of Our Own Times -
It may he safely asserted that if the same events were to occur in our day, it would be hardly possible to find a Ministry to originate a wor, for which at the same time it must be owned that the vast majority of the people of all politics and classes were only too ready then to find excuse and even justification.
I may say that I am anxious at the earliest possible stage, for my own self respect, to disclaim any responsibility in regard to this motion, and in regard to this war. What has been done 1 The Prime Minister has submitted a certain motion. But it is not enough to make a rhetorical address about our attachment to the old country ; because, I take it, we are all attached to the old country. It is not enough to show what has been done at other people’s expense, out of the taxpayers’ money, for the purpose of demonstrating how loyal the Ministry is. What we have to deal with is the specific motion before us. The Prime Minister has not disclosed to the House any grounds upon which the soldiers of Australia ought to be sent to kill the Boer farmers ; and it must be admitted that the proposal is a very extreme step when one comes to think of it.
– The honorable member is making a very extreme statement.
– It is a very extreme step, when one thinks of it, that the Prime Minister should . invite men, who are Australians, to try to kill men with whom they have no personal quarrel, with whom they have had no relations, direct or indirect. The only ground on which the Prime Minister has urged the sending of a contingent is that Great Britain is at war, and that, therefore, we should help her. If that is to be sufficient ground, we should like to know it ; but let us see how far it will lead us. I apprehend that the Prime Minister is making a very difficult position for himself and his successors in connexion with future wars - that he is making a very difficult position for Australia. Are we, without going into the causes of the wars of Great Britain, to adopt the principle that we should actively side with Great Britain, no matter what is done 1 The adoption of such a course will commit Australia to the principle that she must aid the Imperial Government in all wars with her young lives - and there are few young lives to spare in Australia - although she has no voice in the negotiations which precede war, and is not to be consulted in regard to its expediency or necessity. I repeat that the Prime Minister has put himself and others in a most difficult position. In other countries enjoying constitutional government it is customary for the Ministry to ask Parliament for a war vote, and to explain, in supporting that vote, how it is that the country has been drawn into war. That course, however, has not been followed here.
– That is so when they are directing a permanent force, but here the men are volunteers.
– It is quite true that they are volunteers, at 5s. per day, and the position is that they are going to fight a number of men who get nothing, who have no distinctions to which to look forward, no prospect of notices in despatches or even of notices in newspapers, no Victoria Crosses, no Distinguished Service Orders, no epaulettes, and no promotions - in short, who have nothing to hope for save the approval of their own consciences. May I also say - and I hopeI shall be clearly understood - that I take up the position that the Empire is in no danger, and has been in no clanger. If the Empire had been in danger the position would have been a very different one from what it is to-day. It is absolutely absurd to suppose that an Empire numbering 250,000,000 or 300,000,000 people is in danger when it is engaged in a war against only 250,000 or 300,000 Boers, and when the wealthiest country in the world is fighting against these few farmers of the veldt. I do not wish to be misunderstood. I am one who regard it as clear that no empire in the history of the world has done so much for civilization and for liberty as has the British Empire. I may also add, if honorable members will allow me to do so, that personally I belong to a stock which is the most loyal and the most attached to England of all stocks within the wide ring -of the world. Honorable members will understand my meaning when I say that no one who has not been in Ireland can realize the peculiar attachment which Protestant Irishmen have for England. They are more English than are the English themselves. They look to England for their principles, for their ideals, and for their religion ; they lean upon England, and England leans upon them. There is no doubt that they’ are a minority planted amongst a population which is supposed to be disaffected. They regard themselves as having in their trust the maintenance of the British flag. Under these circumstances, when I was a boy I regarded with great delight the accounts which I read of the meetings which were held in England when Kossuth went through that country with triumphant demonstrations, and when the English audiences so heartily applauded him. I was delighted to find how English newspapers encouraged Garibaldi, how English statesmen upheld the independence of little Belgium, how England favoured Poland against the autocratic and imperious power of Russia. I was proud to know that, England was the friend of the oppressed, and the foe of the oppressor. To me, therefore, it is a matter of the deepest pain to find that the country to which my father and forefathers were always attached has entered into a war with a nation far beneath its size, and without any sufficient justification. Mr. Gladstone, I think, died at the end of 1898, and ere another year had passed Lord Salisbury and his Ministry were at war with the Boers in South Africa. I do regret that at the present time there is not one person in England who can touch the conscience of the English people as the late Mr. Gladstone could touch it. John Bright, who opposed the Crimean war, has passed away ; and he was right ; Sir James Graham, who opposed the opium war, has passed away; and he was right ; Fox and Burke have passed away ; the great Earl of Chatham, who opposed the war against the colonies of America, has passed away ; and all of these were right. We have not now in England a Gladstone, who opposed the war with Russia, and who was successful in the elections of 1SS0 ; and who was right. We have not to-day anything like the condition of affairs which existed even in 1SS0. What happened in 1880? At that time the hysterical shrieks of the London press and the ribald yells of the music halls were all in favour of the war with Russia. The gabble of the clubs was in the same direction. But all these noises were silenced by the great voice of England speaking through all its provinces. Unfortunately we have not in England to-day men like those who opposed such iniquities - men of light and learning - though I am- glad to know that some of the very best minds there have declared themselves unmistakably against this war. In this respect I am proud to be a follower of such men as John Morley, Herbert Spencer, Frederick Harrison, Sir Edward Clarke, Leonard Courtney, and John Burns ; of men in the ecclesiastical world like Dr. Clifford, the Bishop of Hereford, the Bishop of Stepney, and the Bishop of Durham. Where they lead, surely it is not disloyal of meto follow. The announcement which has been made by the Prime Minister is that the Government has acceded to the request of Mr. Chamberlain to send 1,000 men upon such terms that Australia will not be called upon to bear the expenditure of one penny, but that even the equipment of the troops is to be paid for by the English taxpayers. I feel that there are really very few who are strongly in favour of the course which has been proposed. The position is a very curious one. I have been the recipient of confidences such as probably have been reposed in few other honorable members, because, as I was known to be an opponent of the war, a large number of people have privately confessed to me that they did not believe in it at all. But the truth is that it is a very unpleasant thing to oppose it. A number of men think it ungracious to appear to oppose any movement to help the mother country. There is a very laudable anxiety to find justice on the British side, and to show Great Britain that we are still her sons, and are still willing to help her. At all events, it is true that there is no active opposition here to thewar which is now in progress. At the same time, what is proposed? We are not to risk our own lives, or to sacrifice our own pockets. There is a damnable meanness about the whole thing. We talk about sacrifice. What do we sacrifice? We offer to sacrifice the lives of promising young fellows who want adventure - an action of a kind which brings us the praise of sacrifice, without the feeling that we have sacrificed anything. There is no doubt that this proposal would not have been made but for an article which appeared in a German newspaper. All this excitement and all this high feeling is worked up because of an article in a German newspaper.
– I never said a word of that sort.
– Well, I must have inferred it. If the Prime Minister says that he did not say a word of that sort, I misunderstood him, and withdraw the statement at once. At all events I do not think, having regard to what has been said, that this request would have been made by Mr. Chamberlain but for a certain few words in a German newspaper, the Vossiche Zeitung. If one looks at the dates, it is perfectly clear that Mr. Chamberlain felt that he must have a trump to over-trump that article. As soon as ever he saw his way to it, he no doubt said - “ Let us see what the colonies have to say. America, Europe, and the whole civilized world are against us; we must have a trump card, and we will send word to Mr. Barton.” We know that certain communications have passed which the Prime Minister has said were sent in confidence, and are withheld from the House.
– I have given the House every syllable I was in a position to give, except the minor details.
– We know that there was a confidential communication from Mr. Chamberlain ; but the Prime Minister is quite right in withholding it.
– I told the honorable and learned member and the House that that communication does not alter the situation one iota.
– That is a matter for the House to judge.
– It cannot be a matter for honorable members to judge if it is a confidential communication.
– I do not wish to be understood as condemning the conduct of the Prime Minister in withholding a communication which is confidential. But there is one thing which we know, and which the German newspapers will know. Everybody in the world will know that there has been something else which has not been disclosed. In what a ridiculous position we are being put ! The German people are not fools, and when they learn that these resolutions have been passed by the House the first question they will ask is - “ What were the circumstances ? “ If Hansard ever finds its way into Germany, and no doubt it will, they will find that the Prime Minister has had communications with Mr. Chamberlain, and that there has been a communication which has been withheld. They will also point out that Australia is not going to spend a penny, that the whole thing is to be done by the Imperial taxpayer, and that they will have to pay the Australian four times as much as Tommy Atkins in order to get him to work.
An Honorable Member. - Five times as much.
– The honorable and learned member is putting the words into the Germans’ mouths.
– My honorable friend, the member for Melbourne, must know that the Germans are as intelligent as we are at the very least.
– They will take the tip.
-They will know thoroughly well, or will find out the position of tilings. I say this is a position we would never have had to face but for a rash statement made by the Prime Minister - a statement made in the papers, if the right honorable gentleman is reported correctly - that if England asked for it, he would send a contingent. Ofcourse the very next thing was to force his hand. Mr. Chamberlain did ask for it, and forthwith a contingent is sent. I admit it is a safer course for a man who wants to be a politician to keep silent in such matters-
– And go with the crowd.
– Go, not with the crowd, but with the newspapers, which is a different thing. But it has come to this in these States, that if two or three newspapers in any State happen to agree upon a policy every one who opposes that policy is either a fool or a knave or both, and, perhaps, also a traitor. I say that one of the most serious aspects of the situation to Australia is that there is really no criticism of any step of public policy, unless there is a newspaper to take it up ; and if the two or three newspapers agree, where are we? I think that in many respects the Australian press is as good a press as there is in any part of the world. Their output is excellent in the leading matter and in news, and they are most enterprising. I am not saying this for the purpose of mitigating their wrath. I knowthat I shall be attacked, kicked about, and mauled ; and I do not care. At the same time, I shall do them that justice to say that they are good papers. But there is a danger to this Commonwealth, a danger from the fact that if a man happens to be against all the city papers, he is helpless. The result is that we find that where men feel very strongly privately with regard to a particular proposal, as politicians they feel that it is better to follow the newspapers, and to appear to influence public opinion, rather than as statesmen to influence public opinion and appear to follow it. The Prime Minister referred to a statement that in a Dutch paper there was an admission that it had received money ; but if the right honorable gentleman had looked into the matter more closely, he would have found that it was the Daily Express of London that said it had been admitted by somebody. What is the Daily Express ? The Daily Express was, a year and a half ago, the author of that vile lie with regard to the massacre in China. I happened to have staying with me at the time the mother of a man who was supposed to have been massacred ; and I know the agony which that lie of the Daily Express produced in her mind with regard to her son. I say that the whole of the origin of this statement upon which the Prime Minister relies for his motion-
– I never relied upon that for my motion ; that is an entire misstatement. There ought to be some such thing as fairness in a debate of this kind.
– I do not think I have been at all unfair. I am saying that the Prime Minister referred to a statement that some Dutch editor admitted that he had received money from Dr. Leyds.for the purpose of making certain statements. It all comes back to the same thing; there is no chain stronger than its weakest link, and I take it that the Daily Express is one of the weakest links one could get hold of amongst the journals of the world. If there is anything which would impel me to express my sentiments upon this occasion, it is the attempt made within the last few days, by certain journals, to terrorise members from expressing their opinions. It is one of the most valuable inheritances we have from Great Britain. We intend to keep it and preserve it for our children ; and when they challenge us to come out and express our real sentiments, I say, we will.
It was our ancient privilege, my lords,
To fling our thoughts, not fearing, into words.
Honorable members may be quite sure that we shall make use of this privilege. It will be a sad day, and I hope it will never come, when, in order to be considered loyal to the King of England, we must forswear our loyalty to our ideals of truth and justice.
– Who wishes any one to do anything of the sort ?
– Apart altogether from the question of justice or injustice to the Empire, I think the honorable member for Bland was right insaying that we want our men. Australia, for some reason, is not having its normal increase of population within its own bounds ; and there is no doubt whatever that these fine young fellows who go out, as they think, to serve the Empire - and, as I think, to injure the Empire - are wanted in Australia. We want men to develop Australia ; we do not want men to desolate South Africa. We want men who will build homes in Australia, not men who will burn homes in South Africa. Nothing in the world galled me more than to see in a French illustrated paper, published in November last, a picture taken from a photograph, of a number of Australians - fellows with broad hats and feathers - burning Boer houses.
– How many Australians have been shot from those houses? That is war, and we are talking about war.
– The honorable member is hardly aware of the fact that at the Hague convention, which preceded this war by a few months, the principle was re-affirmed that no private property should be attacked or destroyed in war. I do not join in the chorus of cries against our gallant army ; I consider that injustice has been done to our forces, both British and Colonial. They are as kind heartedas any men could be.
We have no kinder hearted men in the -world than British soldiers and Australian troops. Injustice has even been done to the tactics of British soldiers in this war ; but I am not dealing with that matter now. I am simply considering the question whether the war was justified or not. Honorable members will bear me out that in addition to the havoc which has been played with our Australian young men by death upon the battle field, and still more by disease in the camp, there has been a general unsettling of some fine healthy young men who have tasted the adventures of South Africa, and who have since forsworn all interest in peaceful civil pursuits. I ask those who have had, some experience to bear me out that there are many promising men who owe their ruin to - and who have brought most extreme grief to their parents - by the unsettlement of mind which this war has produced in them. The interference in this war which has already taken place on the part of Australia has distinctly tended to prolong it. There were moments when Britain had very clearly the upper hand in the war - moments, which will recur to the minds of honorable members - when Pretoria was taken, when Cronje was taken, when Ladysmith was relieved, and other critical moments when England could have made peace with honour and dignity. But these opportunities were lost. And why 1 Simply because they raised the cry in England - “What will the colonies say unless we press to the extreme end of our rights?” This interference in the war on the part of the colonies will be an excuse to any great power, if at war with England, to strike England through Australia. Up to this time we were a peaceful people minding our own affairs, and there would have been a howl throughout the civilized world if a great power, fighting England, had hit her through her colonies. Now we have given them an excuse to some extent to attack us. The new departure is spoken of as having for its motive the cementing of the Empire. I do not believe a word of it. I wish it had. I fear the re-action, as soon as the men of Australia find that they have been grossly deceived in the cablegrams about the war. I do not think that this Empire - the greatest Empire the world has ever seen in certain respects - can ever be cemented by injustice. What blood flowed in the war with Denmark ? Austrians and Prussians joined in the war against .and robbery of Denmark in 1864. Their blood flowed together, but in two years the Austrians and Prussians were at loggerheads with themselves, and fighting tooth and nail. There is nothing in it.
– Is there no greater tie between the mother country and the Commonwealth than there was between Austria and Prussia ?
– In Austria there were a great many Germans, and they felt more attached to Germans than to the Hungarians and Slavs on the other side. The mere joint spilling of blood in a cause which is not just has not, and can never be the means of cementing an Empire like this. So far as I am concerned, I think that a flagrant error has been committed by the different States, and is now being committed by the Commonweal th. I had hoped better things of Australia as a whole. It would have been very hard for any particular State to hold out when all the other States were sending troops. There was a kind of rivalry between the States as to which should be first to despatch troops to South Africa, but I should have thought that an Australian .Parliament, speaking for Australia as a whole, would have acted upon broader grounds and in a better spirit. I think that it has been a flagrant error in regard to Great Britain, and that it is a pity that the very first military step taken by this new Commonwealth should be in aiding this war - a war which to my great regret has reduced the moral prestige of the Empire more than anything else which has occurred for centuries. I do not say it has reduced the military prestige of the Empire. I think that has been overstated ; but it has reduced the moral prestige of the Empire which has always been supposed to be the friend of all - and especially the friend of the small nation - the Empire that abolished the slave trade, and which has been generous in so many respects under greater leaders than it has now. Look at the shabbiness of it all. I think that here the only people who sacrifice or risk anything are the poor men who go to the war, and their families. Who are principally egging on this war 1 The greatest barrackers for it are the wealthier classes. They ask for the war, and give nothing. There is not one penny more taxation to come from their pockets for it; but the young fellows who go to the front and risk their lives do something.
– The wealthy classes have given a good many lives to it.
– Yes ; the honorable member is right. There are some who have sons or brothers in it, and there are some in this House. I recognise that very clearly, and I should be the last to cause a single pang to any one who has had a relation in this war, and has suffered from it. At the same time, I consider that the man who is a Commissioned officer has hopes of distinction and other prospects, which the man in the ranks has not. There is no doubt whatever that the majority of the men who are egging on this war will not sacrifice one penny, and still they are loudest in the cry of patriotism. What is patriotism ? Is it not the willingness to sacrifice one’s self for one’s country ? Where is the sacrifice on the part of those who send others to the wai’, who put others in the front and stay behind, and who say they will not pay one penny towards the sending of a contingent? If we are going to do a good thing for the mother country we should do it handsomely. We should put our hands into our own pockets and help her. I should be the first to vote for any taxation or device which would preserve this great Empire from destruction if there were any danger threatening it. In spite of misrepresentation, truth is gradually coming through the chinks of the great wall which it has been sought to erect around this war, and there are many people who are beginning to doubt the justice as well as the wisdom of it. Can we not be candid with ourselves and answer candidly in our own minds 1 If Lord Salisbury, Sir Michael Hicks-Beach, or Mr. Balfour had known what this war would cost England in men, in money, and otherwise, would they have pressed Kruger into a corner to try and force upon .him reforms in the Boer franchise? What a ridiculous position it appears to be ! What ? Spend £250,000, 000- spend £1,250,000 a week - spend 25,000 valuable lives, and earn the contempt and hatred of the civilized world for the sake of compelling Kruger to give a different franchise to the Uitlanders? Would they have driven Kruger to bay, as they did, if they had known that other powers would be en- riching themselves in the meantime in Asia, where Great Britain has far larger interests than in South Africa ? Do we not know what has been going on in the Persian Gulf, in China, and indeed, all round the world? The great rivals of England have been laughing in their sleeves, and have been making hay while the sun has shone.
– Is that a reason why the embers of this war should not be extinguished ?
– While the lion has had its tail in the trap in South Africa, the eagle and the bear have been gorging themselves in the East ; and the interests of England lie more in Asia than in the bleak and desolate ground of South Africa. It is the enemies of England who have had most cause to rejoice in the war ; and they have rejoiced in it. It is because I love England with an hereditary affection, and from training, that I have opposed this war ; and in a few years it will be seen who has been the true patriot, who has been anxious to preserve the Empire, and to prevent her from leaving the path of progress which she has hitherto followed. It will before long be discovered that the war has been forced on by traitors to England, who, for purposes of mere greed have, with their money, and by shrewd devices, got control of the greatest Imperial machinery the world has ever seen, and have worked it for all it is worth, without regard to the consequences.
– The war is being prolonged by traitors.
– Tes, by those traitors who will not offer the Boers fair terms.
– What does the honorable and learned member call fair terms ?
– The first excuse for the war was that a wider franchise was wanted. That was what was asked for by a Tory Government, which has always been against any extension of the franchise. As soon as they found out that the Boers were more prepared than they expected - because England had been pouring in troops before the war began, to the number of 70,000 or S0,000-
– That is not so.
– The honorable member’s information evidently comes from incorrect sources.
– From sources available to all of us.
– The leader of the Opposition made a great point of the statement that Kruger declared war. But did Kruger declare war ? The great evil of the whole matter is’ that too many people have not taken the trouble to <‘o to the original records, and have depended upon the statements of the newspapers. All I claim for myself is that I have taken more trouble than a good many others have taken to go to the original official documents, and to read the statements of both sides. On page 825 of volume 64 of the Parliamentary papers presented to the House of Commons during the year 1899 - and the volume is in the library for any one to see - there is a copy of a letter sent by Mr. Reitz, the State Secretary, to Sir Alfred Milner, dated 10th October, 1899, just before the war began. In this letter, after a good deal of discussion, the final proposal was made -
It is not stated in the papers, but it is perfectly clear, that during the negotiations, and when Mr. Chamberlain had announced to the .Boer Republic that he would formulate his own proposals, troops were pouring in from India and from England, and occupying offensive strategic positions round about the Boer Republics. The third proproposal in the letter is -
Therefore it is perfectly clear that up to the last the Boers were willing to have arbitration in such a way as might be agreed upon. All they insisted upon was that they could not carry on negotiations while England was planting more and more troops upon their borders. When it is said that Kruger took the initiative by declaring’ war, my answer is that war was virtually declared by Mr. Chamberlain when he said that he would formulate his own proposals. Every writer upon this subject who has any fairness has admitted that it is not just to accuse Kruger of having declared war. It was simply a strategic move on his part - and it is not for me to say whether it was right or wrong - to prevent the English from making further preparations for war. As soon as it was found that the Boers were more prepared than was at first supposed, and that the war was not to be merely a parade to Pretoria, beginning with the waving of the “ red, white, and blue “ and ending with champagne, there was great disgust, and the cry was raised that there was an arrangement to drive the British into the sea. When the Prime Minister was speaking, I asked him for any tittle of evidence in support of that statement. He said that it was common knowledge. It is common newspaper statement, but I deny that it is common knowledge ; and I challenge him to find any proof of a conspiracy to drive the British into the sea. Prom 1884, when the last convention was signed, until 1895, when the Jameson raid was made, there is no evidence of any attempt on the part of the Boers to make preparations for war.
– Their preparations for war must have cost millions of pounds.
– And they were continued for years.
– There were preparations, and I think that the Boers had reasonable suspicions, after the Jameson raid, but until 1895 no preparations for war were made. After 1895 there were extreme preparations for war. With an ignorant nation like the Boers, it is little wonder that they became suspicious. I do not suppose that honorable members will impugn the testimony of Dr. Jameson, who was the author of the raid, as to the state of these preparations. What did he write in the Diamond Fields Advertiser, of 23rd June, 1899, in justifying his raid? Referring to the end of 1895, he says -
You must remember that at that time the Transvaal was not the armed Transvaal of to-day. Apart from the rifles in the hands of the individual burghers, the whole armoury of the Transvaal was contained in the so-called Pretoria fort, guarded by, I think, three States Artillerymen, and its sole protection a broken-down corrugated iron fence. Only a few days before our crossing the border, Judge Koetze, travelling north with Mr. Newton, told the latter that, seeing and recognising the serious discontent on the Rand, he was then on his way to warn Mi-. Kruger that, in his opinion, any night 150 Randites armed with sticks could march across to Pretoria, seize that fort, and have the Transvaal in their possession.
I put it expressly, so that honorable members may see how far I go, that there can be found no evidence from 1884 to 1895 of any preparation for war on the part of the Boers; and it is but natural, having regard to what was done by British subjects with British officers amongst them, that the Boers became suspicious, and they were made still more suspicious by the fiasco - I do not wish to use a stronger word - of the House of Commons inquiry of 1897, when certain letters were not produced. Bight through - before the war, and since the war - Kruger and his Ministers have been for arbitration. It is utterly false, so far as I can find out, that they desired to have war. First of all the idea was that there should be arbitration by foreign powers. Britain objected, and said - “No, we shall not have foreigners interfering ; we are suzerain.” “ Well,” said Kruger, “ if you will not have foreigners let us confine it to ourselves.” Britain would not have it.
– Did not Kruger ask the British to give up their suzerainty?
– No ; the honorable and learned member will find here that Kruger was willing to the very end to allow the question of suzerainty to be in abeyance. I ask the honorable and learned member to read the state papers which were published by order of the House of Commons. The offer of mediation has always been open, and I am sorry to say it has not been accepted. The honorable member for Gippsland has spoken in attack on Mr. Gladstone. With all his faults, there is not a man of us who could hold the candle to Mr. Gladstone for moral force, for purpose, for unselfish obedience to what he thought to be right. There was nothing grander than the way in which England submitted to the Alabama award and quietly paid it, and there was nothing grander also - and history will show it - than Mr. Gladstone’s abandoning the war against the Boers as soon as he found that the facts had been misstated to him. He had been told that the Boers wished to be incorporated with England. He found that Sir Theophilus Shepstone was wrong in the matter, and magnanimously, and to the honour and glory of England, he said - “ No, I find that I have been mistaken ; I find that my agents have not told me exactly what was right ;
I find that you do not wish to be incorporated ; I give back your independence.” When we come to look with a larger focus, and with a more generous eye, when history comes to deal with it, we shall find that Mr. Gladstone’s action was the wisest one ; but unfortunately it has been spoiled by miserable successors. Ever since the disaster at Majuba Hill, and ever since the engagements out of which the English army unfortunately did not come with glory, the military heads of England have had an edge against the Boers, and they never will be content until they have the Boers down and licked. The military forces of England have been at the back of all this.
– That is severe on the military forces of England.
– I have no objection to being severe on the military authorities of England. They were animated by the spirit of revenge, and any one who knows what goes on in military circles will agree with me that the military heads of England have never forgiven the Boers for the defeats at Majuba Hill and elsewhere. I have known them to say, “ We shall have them down yet.” They cannot forget it. Wherever you have a standing army, you will find that it is in favour of war. What happened ? If honorable members will read the report of the debate in the House of Lords on the 15th March, 1901, they will see that while the negotiations were pending between Kruger and Milner in 1899, Lord Wolseley proposed to Lord Lansdowne, the Secretary of State for War, not only that he should seize Delagoa Bay, which belonged to a friendly power, Portugal, but that he should seize it in June, 1899, and subjugate the two Boer republics before November, 1899. The Orange Free State at that time had not said what position it would take. Lord Lansdowne said he did not take that course, because he did not think that public opinion was ripened enough to subjugate the two Boer republics between June and November, 1889. I have spoken with a good deal of trouble, because this is a matter on which I feel very much, and if I have aggrieved or offended any honorable member I am sorry for it. I have a right to my views, and I have not concealed them.
Mr.Kingston. - And the honorable member is not likely to give them up.
– I am not likely to give them up, so long as they are held by the best minds in England. I confess that I rather follow men like John Morley and John Burns than the outcries of the music halls and the rabble of jingoism. If the question were left to the decision of the great population of England by plebiscite or referendum, I do not believe that they would declare in favour of the war ; but, unfortunately, at present the machinery of public opinion is manipulated in a way of which we have not yet got control, though I hope, in the course of time, we shall be able to do so. I do not suppose that there is any one in England whose honour, devotion to the Empire, integrity, is more apparent than is that of Earl Spencer, a nobleman whom I remember seeing when I was a boy - at a distance, of course. What does he say ? -
He did not see that the dignity and honour of the Crown would be lowered if they came to favorable terms with the gallant, foe which had been opposing them.
That is just my view, and if Earl Spencer, an ex-Minister of the Crown, and a friend of Mr. Gladstone, is of that opinion, I should be at liberty to follow him. The two divisions of this motion stand on a different footing, and I thank the Prime Minister for having indicated that he has no objection to their being submitted to the House separately. With regard to the first portion of the motion, which expresses our indignation at the baseless charges made abroad against the honour of the people and the humanity and valour of the soldiers of the Empire, I do not know that there is any call for it. There is, perhaps, no objection to it ; but, really, it seems to me that it would be degrading on our part to take notice of statements made in the newspapers. There have been unjust statements made in some of the German newspapers, but is it worthy of this new Commonwealth to take notice of that sort of thing? I do not agree with the charges that have been made against the people or the soldiers of the Empire. I think it is too extreme to say that the concentration camps were established for the purpose of destroying the Boer women and children. I know enough of soldiers to say that they are very stupid in managing the affairs of women and children, and that they have very likely bungled the arrangements in connexion with these camps; but they are as humane as any one in their dealings with women and children, and are kind at bottom. I do not agree with those w,ho say that there was any such object in establishing these camps as the destruction of women and children. Two hundred and sixty per 1,000 per annum is an awful death rate, and it is exceedingly unfortunate that the arrangements should have been so faulty. I am quite sure, however, that the British Government will do its best to remedy the existing defects. Soldiers are bunglers, but sailors are not - that is, speaking in a wide sense - and it is not to be expected that a number of men working under martial law should make proper arrangements for women and children gathered together in camps such as those in South Africa. I regret that so many deaths should have occurred, ‘and I sincerely hope that the existing conditions will soon be ended. I think that the proper course to adopt would be to ignore with dignified silence the slanders upon the valour and honour of our soldiers. With regard to the second part of the motion, I have no hesitation in voting against it. I do not think we ought to try to bring the war to an end in the way indicated by that portion of the motion. I say that the war is an unjust war. Many of us know that it is unjust,, although perhaps we do not feel free to so express ourselves. If the motion indicated that the war should be brought to an end by extending, as Earl Spencer says, humane and considerate treatment to a gallant foe, I should vote for it ; but as the motion evidently means that we should pursue the Boers to their ultimate extinction or to the surrender of their independence, I say - “ No.”
– The first part of the motion before the House is somewhat unfortunate in its wording. I should have preferred a motion indicating that, this House still had the utmost faith in the humanity and valour of our soldiers. That, I think, would have been an effective way of dealing with the insinuations that have been so frequently made by the Continental press. As regards the general policy of the war, we might also express our approval of it in a somewhat general way. Apart from this consideration, I cannot agree for a moment with a good deal that has been said in this House this afternoon as to whether such a motion is necessary or not. It has been stated, by way of interjection, that a good* many of the charges against our troops have been made by irresponsible penny-a-liners, but in my opinion the charges which have appeared in the Continental newspapers have been paid for at a .much higher rate than a penny per line. But whether that be so or not, I hold that the continuance of the charges and their frequency, and the venom which characterizes them, demand that they shall be taken notice of. If I heard that some insignificant individual was vilifying me at large I should take no particular notice of it, but if I discovered that by means of lies and insinuations he was turning my natural friends against me, I should certainly take action in a most distinct and spirited way. The charges which have appeared in the Continental press have not been made against the old country, but against the soldiers of the Empire and against our Australian soldiers, and I, for one, consider it to be the duty of this House to say most emphatically what it thinks of these charges and insinuations. Therefore, although I regret that the wording of the first part of the motion is nob such as I can fully approve of, I shall certainly support it. With regard to the second part of the motion, I should have had very little to say but for the spirited speech to which we have just listened. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne is always interesting. He commands our respect for his courage and for the ability with which he expresses his opinions. I cannot, however, help reflecting that, with regard to the rights and wrongs of this war, we may roughly divide those who object to it into three sections. In the first class we have certain persons who profess to look upon this matter, as they do upon many others, from a superior intellectual and ethical stand-point. These people declaim against the injustice of this war, and denounce a big nation for attacking a little one. Tins reminds me of a little incident, of which I have a vivid recollection, that occurred in my boyhood. When I wag about eleven or twelve years of age I had occasion to leave one school and go to another. I was then a somewhat gawky, over-grown lad, and rather bashful and unassuming - as I believe people sometimes consider me even at the present time. As usually happens to schoolboys when they go from one school to another, I had to run the gantlet of a good deal of persecution, and there was one particular lad- a little nuggetty chap, quite as old as I was, but not so tall by about a head, and yet possibly stronger and more fitted for the roughandtumble struggles such as schoolboys engage in - who for weeks made my life a perfect misery. He evidently jumped at the conclusion that he could tackle a quiet, unassuming youth, such as I was, although I was so much taller, and show off his prowess by bullying and challenging to fight, and by visiting upon me all those little petty annoyances of which schoolboys ai-e usually the masters. I put up with all this for a good long time, until one day, after school came out and we were going along the street of a quiet little Scotch village, where hand-loom weaving was the principal occupation, this boy provoked me beyond endurance. Just in front of one of the hand-loom shops I dropped my books and tackled him, and was proceeding to give him a jolly good thrashing when a man rushed out of the doorway and, catching me roughly by the arm and dragging me away from the youngster, gave me a box on the ear, at the same time saying indignantly - “ Why, you great big coward you ought to be ashamed of yourself striking a little fellow like that !” When I hear people talking about a big nation attacking a little one, I always remember that incident, and I want to know first whether there is any justification. I propose, if the House will allow me, to review the matter from an opposite standpoint, in somewhat the way the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne has done, not perhaps with his ability, though with quite as much sincerity. Before we consider rights and wrongs, we must first try to realize the actual position. We must consider the position of those with whom we have this quarrel, and what they are. Until we realize fully these considerations, we can bring only a more or less biased view to bear on the question. This difficulty between Great Britain and the Boers is one which can hardly be paralleled in the history of the modern world. The circumstances are so singular that any attempt to argue from somewhat similar conditions is, I contend, altogether misleading.
– Do not go too far back into ancient history.
– I do not intend to go very far back into ancient history; but if the honorable member has patience, he will probably find that, so far as I do go, the facts have very important relation to this question. I wish to point out that from the very beginning we find these Boers a very peculiar people. “We find them occupying a part of the world in which they established a condition of things altogether unlike anything attempted by any civilized community. The Boers, originally dwelling in Cape Colony, left that part of South Africa, and went further north, avowedly because they felt themselves hampered and fettered by the conditions of civilization. They made a big outcry about the fact that when slavery was being abolished by the British Empire they got only some £40 or £50 a head for their slaves, while they wanted a great deal more. When they saw that slavery was to be a thing of the past in the British dominions, they decided, holding their own peculiar views in regard to the natives, that they would go further north where they could work their own sweet will with the black people. We know that the Boers view this question of enslaving the natives from a stand-point essentially their own.
– Does the honorable member say that that was the reason the Boers left Cape Colony ?
– I say that that is one of the principal reasons given by their own historians and apologists. The Boers take the Old Testament stand-point that they are a “chosen people, and that the natives are intended by the Providence of God to be subject to them. That view the Boers held 100 years ago, and they hold it just as strongly to-day. They went up into a part of the country which at that time was occupied by native races, and which was also to a certain extent under the control and regulation of the British Government. That part was occupied by numerous missionaries and traversed by traders who dealt with the natives. The British Government had continually taken an interest in the various native tribes, and, as far as possible, helped them along the paths of civilization. In that respect it is impossible for any one, whatever may be the shortcomings of the British Government, to charge them with indifference to the welfare of native races. The whole history of the colonial policy of Great Britain has been one in which, according to many white colonists, an undue amount of consideration has been accorded to the natives. We have heard that complaint frequently in Australia, and it was certainly voiced in no quiet way by the Boers time and again, when the British Government interfered to prevent their maltreating, robbing, and enslaving the natives by whom they were surrounded. Regarding the treatment of the natives by , the Boers, I find evidence from sources which I think even the honorable member for Northern Melbourne will not question. I find a man like David Livingstone, the great missionary, who did so much for the redemption of the natives of Africa, saying that he was unwillingly forced to the conclusion that the Boers were treating the natives with an undue amount of harshness and lack of consideration. The payment which David Livingstone received for the efforts he made on behalf of the natives was , that on one occasion his station was, in his absence, raided by the Boers, who tore up and destroyed his books and even wrecked his medicine chest. We find even the South African historian, Theal, confirming the allegations of gross injustice inflicted on the natives by the Boers. That ‘ confirmation comes in rather a naive way, because Theal is, as regards the Boer treatment of the natives, an apologist for the Boers, always taking up the position that the natives deserve everything they get. While stating frequently that the natives came into the domains of the Boers and took away cattle, he on one occasion only mentions that the Boers are liable to retaliate. One particular instance to which Theal refers was of so unblushing and criminal a character that even the Boer authorities were compelled to take notice of it. The men who made this foray on the cattle of the natives were brought to justice and convicted, and in addition to returning the cattle were ordered to pay a fine. But what happened t We find in this particular case an illustration of the attitude of the Boers towards the natives. There was a riot in favour of the Boer cattle stealers, and public opinion was evidenced by the fact that in spite of the decision of the court of justice, the restoration of cattle was not made, and the fine was not paid. The result of all this kind of thing was that the Boers were continually at war with the natives, or the natives continually at war with the Boers - I do not care which way it was. There may have been faults on both sides, as I am willing to admit. But whoever was at fault, the British Government could not continue to see this state of things going on without attempting to put matters right. We find the British Government continually using their influence, but quite without avail until a time came when the Boers were actually threatened with extinction by the great Zulu nation, which had rapidly risen to a foremost place amongst the natives of Africa. When the real position was understood the Boer leaders immediately cast about for relief, and, as on previous occasions, they approached the British Government. Their usual course of action was to argue that in times of peace they should be left severely alone, and allowed to do what they chose to the natives, but when their conduct provoked retaliation, they should be at liberty to seek refuge behind the British authorities. Matters eventually became so serious that the Boer leaders themselves admitted that annexation was the only remedy. Accordingly annexation was proposed, and whilst it was nominally objected to by some of the leaders, it was, in reality, welcomed. The Boer people, however, being as ignorant and pig-headed as ever, objected to annexation. They did not see the danger with which they were confronted - as did their leaders - and were unwilling to have their freedom of action curtailed. Their President at that time was a man named Burgers, who at this particular juncture made a remarkable speech in theRaad, from which I shall read a short extract. On the 3rd March, 1878, Burgers addressed the representatives of the Boers, sitting in their Parliament, in these words -
I would rather be a policeman under a strong Government than the President of such a State. It is you - you members of the Raad - and the Boers, who have lost the country, who have sold your independence for a sop. You have ill-treated the natives,you have shot them down, you have sold them into slavery, and now you have to pay the penalty.
That was the character given by their own President to these peaceful, idyllic farmers to whom the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne has just alluded. I do not wish to worry honorable members with any recapitulation of the history of the Boers, but there are one or two points upon which I desire briefly to dwell. I come therefore to the time of the Majuba disaster, and to the arrangement which was entered into immediately after that occurrence. We have heard the late Mr. Gladstone praised for his magnanimity in granting the concessions which he did to the Boers at that particular time, but it has been admitted by Mr. Gladstone’s best friends that, however great a success he may have been as a Home statesman, he was an utter failure in regard to his foreign policy, and the Majuba disaster affords one of the most remarkable instances upon record of his failure in this respect. I yield to no one in my opposition to war. I regard it with horror, and as a means of settling disputes to which resort should be had only in the last extremity. At the same time, I say that there are some things which are worse than war, and one of these is that moral cowardice which avoids a small war, but precipitates a greater and more serious one immediately afterwards. That was the result of Mr. Gladstone’s policy, which has been characterized as one of magnanimity. It may have been a policy of magnanimity in Mr. Gladstone’s mind, but we have the evidence of one of his own colleagues in the Ministry at the time that their reason for backing down after Majuba was that they feared they had not a majority of the people of the country behind them. Surely there is not much magnanimity or bravery in that ! On the contrary, I call it arrant cowardice, and it is a cowardice which has brought stern retribution upon the Empire.
– The same thing might be said about those who to-day are following the popular cry.
– The popular cry may well be left to care of itself.
– What we call the “popular cry “ one day is the sacred voice of the majority at another time.
– I wish to relate a little personal reminiscence to honorable members, which, possibly, may not carry much weight with them, but which carries a very great deal of weight with myself. In the early days of the gold discoveries in Western Australia, I was prospecting in the back country, being one of a party of four. Two of the members of the party were typical Californian miners - “ forty-niner’s “ - who had been engaged in mining for the greater part of their lives. They were then over 60 years of age. They had been upon every gold- field of any importance in the world. They had had experience of every gold-mining district in America, and had also been in
New Zealand and South Africa. They were engaged in mining in South Africa shortly after the Majuba calamity, just subsequent to the settlement of that trouble which was agreed to by Mr. Gladstone. Sitting around our camp fire at night they used to relate their experiences, to which I listened with a very great deal of interest. They were highly intelligent men, who had knocked about the world with their eyes open - men of the highest probity, whom I still regard as almost my ideals of manhood, who scorned to do a wrong or dirty action, who invariably took the side of right against wrong, and championed the cause of the weak as against that of the strong. They told us of their experiences in the Transvaal, and declared then - and I am speaking of a long time anterior to the Jamieson raid - that Great Britain would yet have to fight for her bare footing in South Africa. That was the conclusion at which they had arrived as the result of their own observations, and from the talk of the Boers themselves. They also added, what is a matter of common knowledge in South Africa, namely that, life amongst the Boers was almost intolerable for any O0f who spoke the English language, for years after the Majuba disaster. The Boers were perfectly sure that they had annihilated the greater part of the British army, and were merely waiting their own time to drive the British entirely out of the country. I come now to the period when the Uitlanders were found fighting for their rights as against the corruption and tyranny of the dominant power in the Transvaal. Here I wish to express my sincere sympathy with those Uitlanders because as an Uitlander in Western Australia I have shared in a somewhat similar battle. Indeed I cannot for the world understand how some honorable members, representing that State, fail to realize that what the Uitlanders were fighting for in South Africa, is identical with what we were so long struggling for in the State from which we come.
– And they are doing it in Queensland to-day.
– I believe that. I have been very much disgusted at the attitude adopted with relation to the Uitlander agitation by many of those who stand in the forefront of the democratic movement in Australia. We have been told that many of the Uitlanders did not worry their heads about the franchise. They were getting good wages under the old Boer oligarchy, and they did not want any change. We are told that we should consider their views, and that we should give some weight to the opinion they expressed that they did not want any change.
– Who were the Uitlanders ?
– If the honorable member really asks that’ question with a desire for information, I can only express my regret that he has not given more attention to the subject. Those people who were, getting good wages in South Africa and who were quite satisfied with their condition, were exactly the same class of people who tend to hinder the progress of the democratic movement throughout Australia. It is these men who are satisfied with their beer and their tobacco everywhere in the world, who have allowed such a state of things to continue as existed in South Africa, and even exists to-day in Australia. Those are not the men we have to consider. The men we have to, consider are the men who had some ideals before them with regard to their duties to themselves and the country in which they found themselves ; the men who were prepared to lay down their lives if need be for those rights which they held dear by tradition, and dear bv their actual enjoyment of them in other parts of the world. If I remember correctly, the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne referred to the fact that in other countries than Germany the people were opposed to our policy in the Transvaal, and America was cited. Well, I have something to say in that connexion. Some of the people who took a most prominent part in the Uitlander agitation in the Transvaal were, I am proud to say, Americans. I find it stated by one of the historians of this movement that immediately before the Jamieson raid took place, and when there were some whisperings’ in the air that a movement of this kind was impending, some of those American citizens who wished for themselves in the Transvaal the rights they had enjoyed in other civilized communities went to President Kruger, and attempted to remonstrate with him on the obstinate course he was pursuing, and to warn him of the result it’ would inevitably lead to. After all their representations the President, in reply, asked them a question. He said - “ If a crisis should occur, on which side shall I find the Americans “ ?
The answer was - “ On the side of liberty and good government.”
The only answer that an American could give. His reply to that was - “ You are all alike, tarred with the same brush ; you are all British in your hearts.”
It did not matter from what part of the world the people speaking the English language came; in the eyes of President Kruger they were all highly objectionable, because they had the same democratic ideas as regards their rights as free men, ideas which were in the highest degree objectionable to him, and ideas he was prepared to fight against as long as ever he could.
– Has the honorable member remarked that every American newspaper is against the attitude of Great Britain?
– I have remarked that a good many newspapers in America are against Great Britain’s attitude, but I think it is an exaggeration to say that all are against it.
– A gentleman has written to me from the States to say that he could not find a single person or paper there in favour of Great Britain’s policy.
-There may be reasons for that which have no relation to the actual policy pursued.
– Who said that ?
– A Victorian citizen who is heartily in favour of the war writes me that he is grieved to say that he has not found in America a single newspaper or person in favour of Great Britain’s attitude.
– He must have been looking only one way.
– This interference of the Imperial authorities, to which I was about to refer when I was interrupted, is again bound up with the question of the suzerainty. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, in reply to an interjection, wanted to make out that this was a mere matter of words, but I think I can bring evidence to prove that it was not a mere matter of words, but a very important consideration which has been too often lost sight of by those who have been pleading for the Boers. The whole question rests upon whether the convention of 1884 abrogates entirely the terms of the convention of 1881, and especially the preamble of the 1881 convention, which is re gained as being entirely put aside by the subsequent treaty of 1884. Now the preamble of the 1881 convention runs shortly as follows : -
Her Majesty’s commissioners for the settlement of the Transvaal territory duly appointed as Such by a commission passed under theRoyal sign manual and signet bearing date the 5th of April, 1881, do hereby undertake and guarantee on behalf of Her Majesty that from and after the eighth day of August, 1881, complete self-government, subject to the suzerainty of Her Majesty, her heirs and successors, will be accorded to the inhabitants of the Transvaal territory upon the following terms and conditions and Subject to the following reservations and limitations :
There need be no hesitation about coming to a conclusion with regard to that. Suzerainty is there expressed definitely, and, I believe, it is not usually argued that it does not exist in the 1881 convention, but it is insisted upon that the 1884 convention abrogates it. I have read the preamble of the 1881 convention particularly, because it contains two important previsions. It speaks of the suzerainty, and it also grants self-government. If the 1884 convention does away with the convention of 1881, if it does away with the suzerainty, it follows inevitably that it must do away with selfgovernment also. It cannot do away with merely a part of the preamble. Either it does awaywith the whole of it or with none at all. In addition to that, I find evidence from an authority who, I believe, will be given some weight even by my Mend, the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne. I observe that the honorable and learned member wishes us to believe always that people who express an opinion favorable to the Boers are highly estimable people. I believe they are, but I should like the honorable and learned member, and other members of the House favorable to the Boers, to consider whether it is not possible that authorities who differ from them are worthy and estimable people also. Here is the statement of a gentleman who, I believe, ought to carry some weight as an authority upon such matters - Professor de Loieter, of Utrecht University, in Holland. He is not a Briton, and not even an Australian, but a Hollander, and he says -
Sovereignty does not admit of other restrictions than those which are clearly defined and freely accepted by parties contracting on equal terms.
That, spoken in relation to the position of the Boers under the British Government, indicates clearly the opinion of that authority that sovereignty did exist in actual and tangible fashion. If what I have contended be admitted, I think it will be realized that Great Britain, in carrying her demands to the ultimatum of war, was absolutely justified. As I have said, already, I regard war with every possible aversion. It should only be entered into in the very last extremity, but having entered in to it I see no reason for making half a job of what has been undertaken, sind creating perhaps a .condition of things which would inevitably precipitate something even more serious in the form of war than the previous disastrous condition of affairs. The great cry - a cry I am sorry to say that has a deal of influence on those who agree with myself on most political matters - is that this is a capitalists’ war.
– Does not the honorable member think it is ?
– I am just going to express a definite opinion on the point. There is no doubt that this cry is very effective with a .number of people. It is like the cry of “ wolf “ amongst a community of shepherds ; it has only to be raised in order to make a great commotion. I say without hesitation that the assertion that the war is a, capitalists’ war is absolutely groundless in the sense in which it is urged. I am perfectly willing to admit that capitalists have taken the side of the British in this war ; but I hope it will be admitted that capitalists have also been taking the side of the Boers.
– Many of the French and German capitalists have been taking the side of the Boers.
– All wars are capitalists’ wars.
– I should be sorry to say that all wars are capitalists’ wars. The honorable member bears a name which connects him, like myself, with a country of which we ought to be proud, a country that has entered into many wars, and I should be sorry to listen to any one who would insinuate that wars such as those in which my native country has engaged in times gone by were without justification. The wars they have entered upon are wars which have enabled the honorable member and myself to live the lives we are now leading. They have enabled the people of that country to hold up their heads among the foremost nations of the earth, and I should be sorry indeed to see the spirit which animated the people of that nation in resisting wrong and oppression lost in this new community of ours. What is it on which the assertions that this is a capitalists’ war are founded ? Where do we find their origin 1 We find their origin in that press in the Transvaal which was engineered and financed bv the infamous crew that had Dr. Leyds at the head of it. It was there that the cry was first originated. It is from that source that it has been taken up, and taken up, I am sorry to say, by a press that ought to be particularly careful of the source from which it receives its information.
– The cry comes from every miner who has been there.
– The honorable member has not been listening to my speech or he would have heard me give evidence that man)7 miners who have been there do not hold that view.
– I have never struck one. «
– I am stating simply what I believe is the correct position. - We, as democrats, and I, as a labour man, are confronted frequently with the trouble of capitalism. I regard it as a very great evil in our modern civilization, I regard it as a great force which we have cause to fight with the best weapons that we can lay our hands upon. What is the weapon with which we have to fight capitalism ? Is it not the franchise on a democratic basis ? Is it not the doing away with a condition of things that makes representative Government merely a farce, and is it not such a struggle as that which was entered upon in the Transvaal by the Uitlanders 1 Was it not for that purpose that British arms entered that country 1 I think it would be very hard to prove the opposite. It would be very difficult for any one to say that, after this war is over, it will not be possible for the people of the Transvaal to obtain for the first time in their history something like true representative government. If such an assumption be justified - and we have the words of the statesmen of the mother country that that is what they are aiming at - I, for one, cannot see any sense in this outcry that capitalism is at the bottom of this alleged attack on the rights and liberties of the Boers. It has been a struggle with corruption and injustice, a struggle waged in the interests of progress and for the rights of humanity, a struggle that will now give the people of the Transvaal the rights they have been denied so long, and which I believe will lead ultimately to the fusion of South Africa in a federation somewhat similar to what we enjoy in Australia.
– The Imperial authorities propose to make, the Transvaal a Crown colony.
– They do not. They propose to give self-government to it, and to give votes to those who are likely to use them in the interests of that movement which the honorable member, with myself, has at heart. Does the honorable member think the British Government would be justified in giving votes to people who have been following a policy of retrogression and corruption which they have stuck to through thick and thin, through right and wrong, up to the present time 1
– They should have votes as well as the others.
– Does the honorable member believe that people who lend themselves to corruption, as the Boers have done, should have a right to the franchise ; that people who have proved themselves incapable of self-government have any right to iti I say, “No!” Democrat as I am, I consider that one of the first conditions of democracy is, that the people to whom the power to vote is given shall be fully alive to their duties and responsibilities, and the people who recognise those duties and responsibilities in the Transvaal will be given the right to vote.
– Would the honorable member apply that principle to Western Australia 1
– I apply it without exception to the whole world. ‘ People who have not a full sense of their responsibilities as electors and citizens of a country have no right to exercise the franchise.
– Then the honorable member does not believe in one man one vote ?
– Yes, I do, if the man is a man, and- not merely a voting cipher who votes for a drink of beer because he sees nothing more in it. I do not wish to be led away any further by interjections. I have detained the House long enough. I intend to vote for this motion, believing, as I do, that it tends towards justice and progress and humanity, matters which concern us not only as Australians, but as citizens of the world.
– Although I feel that there is no special need for prolonging the debate, I am impelled to make one or two observations regarding the motion and the speeches which havebeen made upon it. I think that there will not be two opinions expressed in this chamber in regard to the first part of themotion. It deals with a condition of affairs, which is happily uncommon, but which at the present time calls for some action on the part of those who hold dear the Empire to which we are all proud to belong. I have not been so much annoyed by the statements which have been published in the Continental newspapers regarding: the conduct of our troops in South Africa, as I have been distressed by the statements which from time to> time have emanated from persons to whom the honour of the British troops should be as dear- as that of the members of their ownhouseholds. There are gentlemen occupying high and responsible positions in the old country who have not considered it lowering to their dignity, and an evidence of their want of recognition of their duty to their country, to vilify and to hold up to obloquy and detestation the acts of our soldiers now serving in South Africa. Perhaps the pin pricks of Continental critics may be ignored by us, but when inflammatory and degrading speeches are made by men who, although they do not at present occupy the highest positions in the government of the Empire, feel that they have a right to do so at the first opportunity, wemust feel that we are called upon to reply to the inaccurate and undeserved statements which had been made in regard to those whom we have sent to South Africa.’ It is not at any time a pleasant task to have to defend the honour of one of the great institutions of the Empire against misrepresentation and vilification, and it is rendered doubly unpleasant by the knowledge that it would not be necessary if it were not for the disloyalty of some from whom we might have expected better things. I hold that it would not be well for the Prime Minister to put the two paragraphs of the motion separately, because I regard the second as consequent upon the first. If we hold that the conduct of our troops in South Africa has been in accordance with those dictates of humanity and civilization, which we have for so many years proudly obeyed, we must feel that those troops, when they need our assistance, should be supported by us. Therefore I do not know how any honorable member who recognises that the first part of the motion is needed, can fail to see that it should cany with it the passage of the second part. We have been told that there will be an opportunity later on to discuss the proposed despatch of the Federal contingent, and I hope then to say a word or two in regard to it. At the present moment I desire only to join with the honorable member for Gippsland in expressing my regret that the Government did not see fit to make a spontaneous offer, without waiting for an invitation from the Home Government. I do not know if the report is true, but it is currently stated that the desire expressed by Mr. Chamberlain was the result of a suggestion made by a visitor to Australia, and a member of one of the State Ministries.
– He stated that they would give them a poke up at the other end.
– I did not read that statement, but it is currently reported and largely believed that the request of the Secretary of State for the Colonies was prompted by the action of two gentlemen in Australia. If that be true, I consider that it shows that there was all the more reason why the Government should have acted on their own initiative, without waiting either for newspaper paragraphs or for the promptings of irresponsible persons. I recognise the literary and historical value of the speech made this afternoon by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne. I have been associated with himever since he entered parliamentary life in Victoria, and though I say without fear of contradiction that, from one point of view, his speech to-day was the best he has ever delivered in Parliament, from another point of view I consider it the most disastrous. I was deeply pained tofind that one who deservedly occupies the high position which he has attained in this community, holds the opinions he holds in regard to the conduct of affairs in South Africa. I do not intend to enter into the merits of the dispute, nor am I going into the causes which led up to the war ; but in my opinion every loyal subject of the Empire, now that we have entered into the war, should, so long as it is conducted upon the principles upon which the honorable and learned member admits that it has been conducted, assist by every means in his power to give a victory to British arms, not solely for the subjugation of a free people, but to make life and liberty in South Africa secure, to maintain the integrity of the Empire and to prevent not only a very grave danger to Cape Colony and Natal, British possessions pure and simple, but a great danger to Australia itself. We cannot overestimate the danger to Australia that would have resulted from a complete success of the Boer arms, in South Africa. With regard to the merits of the war, I repeat I donot desire to say anything.With regard to the jibes which have been uttered against those who do not go to fight in South Africa, but who are prepared to send others to take their place in the fore-front ofthe battle, I desire to point out that forevery man who is required by the Home Government to go there from Australia there are 10, 20 or 30 men here not only willing to go, but able and competent to a degree.
– If they are paid for it.
– I am sorry to hear the honorable member make an interjection which, though not so intended, will be regardedby a very large number of persons as a very unfair aspersion on a body of men, the majority of whom, at any rate, are animated by the highest feelings of patriotism.
– I am not sure of that.
– I do not know whether the honorable member’s knowledge surpasses mine in this regard, but I am personally acquainted with many who from time to time have gone to fight our battles in South Africa, and I can assure him on my honour that a very large number of men have gone there absolutely unmindful of any monetary reward whichmight be givento them or to those who accompanied them.
– What are they doing in New South Wales to-day? Suing the Government for the extra 14d. a day.
– Surely the honorable member is not going to bring a debate of this kind down to the level of a discussion as to the right of the men to an extra 14d. a day or as to the action of a particular State.
– It is very significant.
– The honorable member may consider it very significant, but I am not prepared to attach so much importance to the action of what may after all be a small minority of those who went. I speak now with the authority of those with whom I am acquainted, and I declare that it is an undeserved slur on the patriotism of the men to say that they have gone for the sake of the pay they have received. I sincerely trust that, unless the honorable member can give us some evidence of the accuracy of that statement, he will unreservedly withdraw it in justice to the men.
– I shall make a challenge to the House presently.
– Very well. It is not my intention, as I indicated, to detain the House. We havea bounden duty to perform. I feel that it is not necessary for any one to attempt to give any reason why that duty should be performed : it is so self-evident. The people of Australia are as one man in this matter. There are, perhaps, individual members who are opposed to the movement, but those individual members represent a very small minority of the people of Australia. The honorable member for Northern Melbourne told us how public opinion is veering round. He cannot readthe signs of the times if he imagines that public opinion is changing, except in one direction, with regard to affairs in South Africa. The people of Australia have now a fuller knowledge, not only of the facts which led up to the war, but also of the condition of things obtaining in the Transvaal, than they had previously. If a plebiscite were taken in the Commonwealth; it would be found that an enormous majority of the people are in favour of every word in this motion, that they are prepared to do their utmost to uphold the prestige, the honour, and the dignity of British arms, and that they approve of the Commonwealth accepting the responsibility which belongs to its position within the Empire, and devoting, if need be, its last man and its last farthing - all we possess - in order to defend the integrity of the Empire to which we belong.
Mr. McDONALD (Kennedy).- I understand that the motion is to be divided.
– I shall offer no objection to its being divided.
– The right honorable and learned gentleman says that he will offer no objection, but that does not mean that he will be agreeable to the motion being divided.
– The rule of Parliament is that it rests with the House to say whether a motion shall be put seriatim, but that is generallydone by leave ofthe House ; and if there is no objection taken the question is divided as a matter of course. When I say that I shall take no objection I mean that I shall not put any obstacle in the way of the question being divided, and if no honorable member objects it will be divided.
– I quite understand that, but as one honorable member has said that he does not think that the question ought to be divided, probably he will offer an objection.
– I hope that it will not be offered.
– So far as the first portion of the motion is concerned, while I think it shows a sign of weakness on the part of the Government to take notice of these comments, I certainly have no strong feelings about it. I do not mind anything which these people like to say in this matter. Anything that the continental press may say concerning our soldiers in South Africa, or the British nation generally, will not affect the honour of Great Britain. The motion has been prompted from other sources, and, to my mind, it is not a very statesmanlike action on the part of the Government to come down and ask the House to carry a motion dissenting from anything which may have been said by the continental press. A short time ago a number of Australians were sent to fight in South Africa - men whom we hold dear to us - and when they were called “ whitelivered curs “ there was not a man in the House who got up and attempted to defend them. When a British officer had done that which, I maintain, wasfar worse against the men whom we sent to fight in South Africa than anything which has been said by the continental press, this House never attempted in any shape or form to take exception to it. The Prime Minister did not come down then to dissent from such a cowardly assertion as the one made by a superior officer. When these men attempted to resent the cowardly insult which had been heaped upon them what was the result ? They were immediately thrown into prison, and it was not until some strong comments were made in the newspapers throughout Australia and by Australians generally that the British Governmentthoughtfit to interfere and bring pressure to bear upon the military authorities, and the men were taken out of prison. If the House approves of the introduction of motions such as this, there will be no end to them. There are a thousand -and -one incidents of every-day occurrence which are equally as important to the people of Australia as is that to which the motion refers, and yet no action is taken with regard to them. Public men are frequently slandered when they take up a very strong position regarding public questions, and there would be as much justification for introducing a motion in this House dissenting from press comments regarding the conduct of public men as upon the subject to which the motion refers. The motion has without doubt been introduced with a view to proving to the world the loyalty of Australia. But there is no real necessity for any affirmation upon that point. We are still loyal to. Great Britain, and as far as I can understand, that has never been doubted. I have no particular feeling with regard to the first part of the motion, and I do not care whether it is carried or not, but I intend to divide the House with reference to the second part. I deprecate the sending of troops to South Africa without consulting Parliament, and I maintain that the Government have no power whatever under the Constitution to arrange for sending away men in the way they have done. The only part of the Constitution that deals with this question is section 119, which reads -
The Commonwealth shall protect every State against invasion, and, on the application of the Executive Government of the State, against domestic violence.
– What about the section giving the Governor-General supreme control over the naval and military forces ?
– That does not give the Governor-General power to send troops away from Australia.
– That power is conferred for the purposes of the Act only.
– Just so. I would also remind honorable members that in the Defence Acts of the various States it is expressly provided that no troops shall be sent away from Australia to fight in foreign countries. The whole of the Defence forces of Australia have been organized for the purposes of local defence, and not with a view to their being sent abroad. Under these circumstances I maintain that the Government have violated the trust reposed in them, and have assumed a power which does not belong to the Executive, but which is really reposed in this House. I am surprised to hear some honorablemembers state that they are prepared to condone the action of the Government. Where is this sort of thing going to end ? When Mr. Chamberlain asked the Governmentfor permission to recruit men in Australia, the Prime Minister replied - “No, Mr. Chamberlain.” When, however, Mr. Chamberlain asked the Prime Minister if he would recruit troops for him, the right honorable gentleman said - “Yes, Mr. Chamberlain.” If the Government have acted within the powers conferred upon them by the Constitution, they would be equally justified in undertaking to send 20,000 or even 50,000 men away without consulting Parliament. It seems to me, however, that it would be exceedingly dangerous to permit the Executive to exercise any such power. If we permit the Government to send troops to South Africa on their own responsibility, we shall leave them at liberty to comply with a request from, say, the President of the United States, or of France, or of the Emperor of Germany, for troops to be sent to some country near at hand to fight for them. The Prime Minister has assumed a power which does not belong to the Executive, and which cannot be exercised even by the King of England. The action of the Government is such as to merit the condemnation of this House, and I strongly object, as I think most men do, to the functions of Parliament being usurped by the Executive Government. I know of one case in which the Premier of one of the States,in order to satisfy the greed of a certain financial institution, handed over to it £60,000 or £70,000 without asking for the authority of Parliament. I understand that in the present case the Prime Minister is asking Parliament to ratify the action of the Government, but I would point out that we are placed in a very difficult position. The Government have already promised to send a contingent to South Africa, and this House would make itself a laughing-stock in the eyes of the world if it now refused to allow the men to go. Even if the Prime Minister and his colleagues were turned out of office it would be incumbent on those who succeeded them to carry out the promise already given. Instead of endeavouring to run with the crowd, which is often influenced by most objectionable methods and becomes hysterical, the Government should view these matters from a serious stand-point, and hesitate before committing the country. This is not the first occasion on which the Prime Minister has, in a moment of weakness, placed the Commonwealth in a very awkward position. Not so long ago he so compromised the Commonwealth that the House was not able to legislate as it desired upon the coloured aliens question. The right honorable gentleman sent an Executive minute to Mr. Chamberlain which practically bound this Parliament to a certain course in regard to the Immigration Restriction Act, and thus gave away some of our rights and privileges which ought never to have been surrendered.
– The honorable member must know that in my speech at Newtown during the general elections I indicated the nature of the Bill theGovernment intended to introduce, and that the Bill laid before the House was exactly in accordance with the statement I then made. That was long before the despatch was received from Mr. Chamberlain.
– I cannot discuss that matter. As the Prime Minister knows, I am not allowed to refer to previous debates ; but the dates quoted by the right honorable gentleman did not bear out his contention. Our rights and privileges in the matter of legislation were in that instance “given away” by the Government. We heard that satirical speech delivered by the leader of the Opposition about the Prime Minister and the Government saying “ Yes, Mr. Chamberlain.” Now, when Mr. Chamberlain cables for troops it is again “Yes, Mr. Chamberlain,” though the leader of the Opposition has now been drawn in, and re-echoes that acquiesence. I suppose we shall hear a number of the supporters of the Opposition also saying “ Yes, Mr. Chamberlain.”
– A month ago, the Prime Minister said “ No, Mr. McDonald.”
– It is quite true that a month ago the Prime Minister distinctly stated to me that he had no intention of sending troops ; and one of the faults of the right honorable gentleman’s explanation is that he does not clear himself on that particular point. What is the whole excuse which is offered by the Prime Minister in the face of the statement he made a month ago ? The whole excuse of the Prime Minister for taking action without consulting Parliament is that certain statements have appeared in the German press. Because of these he says it was necessary for him to take action at once.
– That happens not to be what I said.
– The right honorable gentleman said that had it not been for the expressions of opinions in the German press he should not have taken this course.
– I did not say so at all.
– That is the only inference that can be drawn from the Prime Minister’s statement.
– That inference cannot be drawn.
– It can be drawn. Is that not a very humilating position for the Prime Minister of Australia to be led into, simply because some irresponsible newspaper has written an article to the effect that Australia is not so enamoured of the military spirit as she was a little time ago? Under the circumstances, I think it is a most humilating position. As to the rights and wrongsof the war, it is not for me to go into that question just now.Ican only say that I wish I had the same powers of eloquence as some honorable members in the Chamber, and the same information at my hands, in order that I might deliver as able a speech as that we have heard from the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne this afternoon. Personally, I am in sympathy with every word that the honorable member uttered ; and I think the time will come in Victoria when his speech will be held up as an example. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne has from the very first held strong opinions against the war, and that at a time when no one could ex- press such honest convictions without being called “pro-Boer.” I do not know the exact meaning which is attached to that term, but I hold that this is the most unjust war England has ever taken part in, and that it will form one of the blackest pages in English history. Many of the statesmen who are implicated in this agitatation for war will live to regret their action. My opinions, like those of the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne in Victoria, have been well known in Queensland. I have never hidden my opinions in any shape or form concerning the Boer war. I was opposed to the war from the very outset, and I am still opposed to it, and the time will come when Australia will regret that she allowed a solitary man to leave her shores to fight in South Africa. If we are to develop the resources of this country, we want every manwe can get ; we do not want to send men away for the purpose of killing people.I am also opposed to sending men away for this purpose, because war does not tend to cultivate the higher and nobler feelings of mankind. It has only one effect, namely, to bring out all the brutality that is in them. Is it not reasonable to suppose that the moment a man gets into battle his first instinct is not only to preserve himself, but, in doing that, to kill somebody else? If we are to make a nation of this great land, we can only do so by peaceable methods, and not by trailing our coat in the eyes of the world, asking for somebody to tread on it. I do not know exactly in what sense people refer so often to the word “ loyalty.” It is said by many, that any one opposed to the war in South Africa must be disloyal. But I take it that 90 per cent. of those who are opposed to the war would be sooner to the front, in the event of England being in danger, than any of those who are howling so much about “ patriotism.” This perpetual cry suggests the man who is always talking about his honesty, and who is therefore regarded with a good deal of suspicion. In the same way I regard with suspicion those people who are always talking about their “ loyalty to the Empire,” which I begin to altogether doubt. ‘ The people who are opposed to the war are just as loyal to the Empire as those who are in favour of it. Personally I may hold different views from most people. I hold that Australia is destined to be a great and independent nation. While I pay to Great Britain all the respect which is due from us as descendants of the British race, I hold that thetime will come when Australia will not be dependent upon Great Britain, but will be a free and independent nation. I do not see why I should be called a traitor or a disloyal subject because I express that view. I believe that that is the ultimate destiny of the Australian people I do not think that the great British Empire to which we belong at present can possibly exist for all time. What would have been the position if, instead of America separating from Great Britain, there had been formed a huge Empire with a certain amount of central Government? The result to-day would have been that America would have had two representatives to England’s one. Would England have stood that ? We should probably have seen the American people sending troops to England to try and keep England in the Union. When people talk so much about “the Empire” they show that they have not given to the subject the serious thought that is necessary.
– They want titles.
– I am not going to accuse anybody of being after titles. If people like to take titles that is purely their own business, and I do not accuse anybody of ulterior motives in the matter. I believe that the Prime Minister, in sending troops away, is influenced not by any strong opinions of his own, but altogether by outside opinions. I mean that the Prime Minister is influenced by public opinion generally. Governments have to pander to public opinion to a very large extent.
– And to parties now and then.
– Well, I find, not the honorable and learned member for Parkes, but those who think with him, pandering to party as much as any body in the Chamber. I do not think there is a party in this House which is prepared to pander more than is the party to which the honorable and learned member belongs. I do not blame his party or the Government party for so doing. The Government party naturally desire to retain power, and the Opposition are desirous of securing power.
– What pandering has the Opposition done up to date ?
– I donot care to go into private history in connexion with this matter, because it is not a wise course to pursue.
– The honorable member makes a statement but does not support it.
– I could support it if I so desired.From a constitutional point of view I do not think that the Government had any right to offer troops for service in South Africa without first consulting Parliament. If they have the power to send 1,000 men from these shores without consulting the Legislature they have the power to send 50,000 if Mr. Chamberlain asked for them. I do not think that the House should establish the precedent which it is sought to establish. The proper and honorable course for the Government to have followed - especially in view of the answer given to my question barely a month ago - was to have come down to this House and have said - “ We have sent these troops, and
Ave ask you to indemnify our action.” The Ministry, however, have not adopted that course, but have dragged in a lot of other matters for the purpose of catching votes and of making their action more popular outside. I have no objection to the first part of the motion being carried, although it is very silly, and stupid for the Government to bring it forward. I shall, vote against the second part, because I believe that Australia should not have sent a solitary man to South Africa. Without entering into a discussion of the merits or demerits of the question, I cannot refrain from saying that this is the most unholy and unjust war in which Great Britain has ever been engaged, and constitutes the blackest page in English history.
– Several speeches have been delivered this afternoon which would have proved a treat to me had they been delivered a few weeks before, or after, the declaration of war. We have had a resume of the historical matters connected with the war both anterior and subsequent to its declaration. A good many of the statements which have been .made, whilst of interest to the student, would have been better omitted, because the clear issue before us to-night is not as to how the war arose, but as to whether the Commonwealth Government are right or wrong in what they have done during the past few weeks. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne has said that we want to keep our young men in Australia. We do, but what confronts us from end to end of the continent at the present time 1 We shall presently have many men thrown out of employment - both married and single - in consequence of the passage of the Pacific Island. Labourers Bill.
– It is not rubbish, because I can cite facts in support of my statement. I do not wish to dwell upon that matter, however, because to some honorable members it acts like a red rag upon a bull. We have just experienced a drought from end to end of what is regarded as the richest part of Australia, so that there is no employment available there for our young men. Even when we had good seasons the constant cry was, “ What are we to do with our young men 1 “ No doubt the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne would reply, “Settle them upon the land.” But I would point out that there is very little scope for our young men to make homes in Australia in consequence of the bad seasons experienced. I can assure honorable members that a majority of the young mem of this country would rather go soldiering at 5s. per day than take the place of kanakas in any part of Northern Queensland. Then, again, we are told that Australia is making a great sacrifice. Where is the sacrifice1! The idea of the British Government informing the Commonwealth that no contribution to the expense of sending the contingent will be asked from Australia seems to be poohpoohed, but I think it was very right that that fact should be stated. If we find the men, Britain is prepared to find the money. The Commonwealth Government is not even providing the men in the sense of enforcing them to enlist.
– They are treating our men like Swiss mercenaries.
– Nothing of the kind. Let the honorable and learned member go into the various States, and he will find out the pregnant truth - and a glorious fact it is in Australian history - that the young men of this continent, both married and single, are volunteering for military service in South Africa out of pure patriotism. Only seven or eight days ago I gave my card to a young fellow who had come from 700 or 800 miles up country for the purpose of volunteering. He was only .2.1 years of age, but he was a good rider and a good shot. I measured his chest myself, and told him to stand upon his merits. He was one of the first of 40 men selected in Brisbane.
– That was the result of the card.
– PATERSON.- I wrote - “ The bearer is a son of respectable parents, of good experience in riding and shooting,” and those were really the qualifications required. This question of sacrifice is being cried up too much. These young men of Australia think they are performing a “duty. They are entering into a phase of life which will make men of them, and give them experience, and when they are willing to risk their lives and spend their blood in wounds, or come back again maimed for life, this question is one which should not be raised here at all. They are doing good service to the Empire in going to the war. Here they could only go to the back country and search for opals, for that is about all that is left for them to do at the present time. The honorable member for Bland, earlier in the afternoon, stated that he thoroughly objects to the assumption that Australia wishes to go to the bitter end with this war. That is a peculiar way of putting it. The honorable member also stated that if a vote were taken he believed it would be adverse to the sending of one more man to South Africa, and adverse to the further prosecution of the war. My belief and conviction are as much entitled to the respect of this House and of Australia as the honorable member’s and I have the fullest faith in the view that if a vote were taken to-morrow throughout Australia, the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia would be upheld in the course they have taken with regard to this contingent. The voice of Australia by a vast majority, uncountable I should imagine, would support the motion before the House to-night. I am also certain that the majority would be overwhelming in upholding the determination of the British Government for the permanent retention of the Orange Free State and the Transvaal as part of British territory for all future time. Some Australians who have spoken here to-night forget the vast interests which Australia has in the maintenance, of what I call the over-sea half-way house to the mother country. If anything were to happen to the Suez Canal, our half-way house must be the Cape. We know that vessels are now abandoning the Sue/. Canal route, because engineering science has discovered that the hot waters coming through the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, and Indian Ocean have to be resisted by extra coal consumption, and the extra consumption by the other route is far more than compensated for by the colder waters. At the same time the passage is pleasanter for passengers and crew. The Cape route is becoming the great oversea highway to the motherland, and one of the finest lines of steamers afloat, the White Star line, has adopted that route, because it is more economical.
– A very good point, but some think that this war will lose South Africa to England.
– I have to say, in reply to the honorable and learned member’s interpolation, that if Britain had not gone to war South Africa would probably have been in possession of the Boers at the present time. That certainly was their intention, as every student of the history of the war must know. Much as the newspapers have been discredited, blamed and maligned, there is always a grain of truth in the statements appearing in them, and there is very much that is fully proved and wisely stated. Let us pass the Jamieson raid, and we know that ths Boers were preparing and laying up ammunition and arms long before that time. I have been surprised to find speakers saying to-night that they only began to do so after the Jamieson raid.
– Where is the evidence of that 1
– Schreiner’s letters to the Times.
– I need not take up the time of the House in quoting from official books and documents what is common knowledge to all the newsboys in the country. Let me say that Australia has the vastest interests in the maintenance of the Cape route. The preparations made by the Boers, and subsequently discovered, were of such a character as to practically stagger the British nation and the British War Department. That is accepted all round. What were all those preparations for 1 Some honorable members have stated that it is- all “ bunkum “ that the Boers said they would drive the British into the sea. But they did say so, and it was the common talk of their soldiers. It may be that it was not their intention to drive the British physically into the sea, but their meaning was that they would annihilate the British in South Africa, and it was their intention to take possesion of the Cape and have a South African federation. With respect to the contingent of 1,000 men which litis been adverted to, from my intercourse with the people in Queensland, and New South Wales and Victoria in going backwards and forwards, and from the press, I believe that the great disappointment throughout Australia is that we are not sending 5,000 at 1,000 a month instead of only 1,000 in the aggregate. My corepresentative from Queensland, the honorable member for Kennedy, chafes at the phrase - “ Yes, Mr. Chamberlain.” He has spoken as if it rested heavily on his chest, but in this case it is not - “ Yes, Mr. Chamberlain “ with the leader of the Government or members representing the Government and the people of Australia. The reply is from the people of Australia to Mr. Chamberlain, and it is - “Yes, Mr. Chamberlain, “from Australia. The Government have taken the responsibility of it, and have they not done well ? They could have taken no other course, and had they delayed they would have been unworthy of the ‘ confidence of this House. Then what an advantage it is to Australia to have sons in the field in the South African war. It has engendered a splendid spirit of militarism, if honorable members will call it so, and our best riders and shots have gone there.
– What about those who were sentenced to be shot t
– They were not shot, and I am very glad that the history of that matter has come out, because it is entirely creditable to Australians. When the story and circumstances reached His Majesty the King, his promptaction in cancelling that sentence and liberating those men, was worthy of a monarch of the British Throne. It is said that we are to pursue a policy of peace ; that Australia is to be a land of peaceful development. The honorable member for Kennedy is opposed to any man leaving Australia to take part in the war, and he says that every man should have been prevented from leaving here to assist in it. We are told also by him that he hopes the time will come when Australia will be disassociated from the British Empire, and, I suppose, become a republic. The honorable member said the time would come when we should be a distinct nation, and not associated with England.
– I said the time would come when Australia would be an independent nation.
– PATERSON. - That means disassociation from Great Britain, does it not? Surely no honorable member expects his speech to be repeated verbatim et literatim. The words uttered by the Prime Minister this afternoon, when he expressed the hope that his sons and his son’s sons for all time would be members of the Australian Commonwealth, still associated by wholesome and natural ties to the British Empire, constitute a sufficient reply to that assertion. Even in our present position some honorable members say - “Let us pursue the peaceful development of this country.” They say we are asked to make a sacrifice of our young men, our best blood, and yet we escape, the monetary consequences of the war. That, they think, is not sufficient. I hold that in this time - a blessed one, I think - we are in duty bound to respect the responsibilities which Australia has naturally upon her shoulders in association with the British Empire. If we are to go on peacefully, and to have no soldiering in this country or elsewhere, why do we not ask the British authorities to remove their ships of war from Austral-Pacific waters 1 They have been here for years and years. Almost since the inception of settlement in Australia, the British navy has been represented here by one or more war vessels protecting our interests, giving confidence to the settlers, and assisting in maintaining government. The Imperial authorities have always been represented here. I remember well the first man-of-war which I saw in Sydney harbor, between 35 and 40 years ago. We must not stand alone, if we are to partake of the benefits and the protection of the British men-of-war around the coast of Australia. We cannot enjoy that protection without understanding that something is due from us in return, if not in money at least in blood - in men. If we had stood aloof from Great Britain within the last few years, and had permitted Canada and New Zealand to do what they have done, without joining with them, the escutcheon of Australia would bave been tar-brushed all over the civilized world. While we deplore from the bottom of our hearts the spending of so much blood and treasure in the prosecution of this war, let us remember that it is controlled by the Executive of the first nation in the world, while at the same time they are governing and controlling vast interests in Great Britain, India, and other parts of the
Empire. The war is a great adjunct to their responsibilities, and they have done well. But, coming to the blatant vulgarity and nonsense of the statements uttered in Germany, we know very well the attitude that the Times and other leading newspapers have taken up in regard to them. The Right HonorableMr. Chamberlain has found it his duty to reply tothese aspersions on the character of our army, and our nation, and on our executive in the conduct of the war. After all this has happened it would be scurrilous and puerile conduct on the part of Australia towithhold its protestations against the use of such unwarrantable language in regard to our army and its conduct in South Africa. Suppose Australia were attacked some time hence, and perhaps in the near future - although I hope the time will never come - what would happen? We must remember that even in Ireland and Scotland and England they are trying to settle the people on the land ; giving them a few acres and a cow. The aggregation of population in the towns is deplored there, and in that respect they have the same object as we have in view. If Australia were menaced, would the employment of the people of Great Britain and Ireland in agricultural and manufacturing pursuits, and the efforts of the Government to settle people on small areas, deter them from an enthusiastic outburst of support ! No. Not only the Government, but the people themselves would rush to the assistance of Australia. They would not be able to come out fast enough. Yet we are told that we must preach the gospel of “stay-at-home,” and have nothing to do with Britain’s quarrels or responsibilities. We must stay at home, we are told, use the axe and the plough, but never put a rifle to our shoulders, learn drill, or have any ambition to assist the great country from which we have sprung -a country whose existence must be maintained if our existence in the southern hemisphere is to be preserved. I shall cordially support the motion. Its phraseology may not suit every one ; but it is quite good enough for me. It puts in plain, simple terms, all that I desire to have communicated to the other side of the world. I am not so anxious that it should go to the British speaking people as that it should reach that part of the world in which the utterances have been made. I wish it to reach the very heart of Germany and every newspaper writer, whether a-penny-a-liner, or £laworder, that reviles my country. The terms of the motion, simple as they are, will convey a very wholesome message and warning to those who think that we will lie here in complete ineptitude ; that we will quietly receive the insults which have been uttered, whether by the press or by writers interpreting the feelings of the people I do not care. I am very glad that this House has had an opportunity of discovering those who are loyal to the Crown, loyal to ourselves, loyal to the Empire, and of showing, I trust - as I am certain it is - that it is lustily loyal to Australia.
– I shall not proceed on the lines of the closing sentence in the speech made by the honorable member for Brisbane, but I should like to draw the attention of the House to the fact that we find, for the first time, an important question brought before us upon which the leader of the Government and the leader of the Opposition are in entire accord. I think a great deal of weight and importance will be attached to that fact throughout Australia. We must consider the necessity for their acting in unison in a matter of this kind. The motion, as presented by the leader of the Government, is for a specific purpose. The Prime Minister stated that it was necessary that a motion of this character should be carried, not to tell our own people that we were loyal, nor as a test of the loyalty of the people of Australia, but as a rebuttal of the charges that the European newspapers have for months and months heaped upon the British people and the British forces in South Africa. No doubt an odious misrepresentation has taken place in imputing methods of barbarism to the soldiers of the Empire, many of whom have been sent from our midst. I think, therefore, that the leader of the Government and the leader of the Opposition were justified in repudiating those charges. It is remarkable how willingly the statements of penny-a-liner Stead and the Continental press are accepted without evidence, while on the other hand what is published in the Times, the leading newspaper in Great Britain, is discredited, and motives of interest attached to its articles. One can understand the dislike of the honorable and
Learned member for Northern Melbourne to warfare of all kinds. He is a disbeliever in the cruel arbitrament of the sword, and we admire his courage in defending his opinions ; but can we believe that he is prepared to side with those whose hatred of Great Britain will not be appeased by any action that any portion of the Empire can take? The hatred of the nations of Europe is not the growth of a year but of centuries. The honorable and learned member suggests that if we handle this affair in a kid-gloved manner wemay obtain therespectof Germany, France, and other Continental powers.
– They would be more likely to look upon it as an evidence of our weakness.
– Precisely. We have many evidences of the fact that the nations of. the Continent are fond of goading the British people in order to test the loyalty of the people of the colonies. But although the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne and the honorable member for Kennedy were allowed to take a stand absolutely opposed to the principles of the people of the Commonwealth, would they have been treated in the same way if they had been German citizens and had ventured upon such conduct in Germany ? If Germany were engaged in a struggle, whether just or unjust, in defence of her dominions, or for purposes of annexation, any German who dared to oppose the war would quickly be silenced.
– Would the honorable member argue that if we discover that we are doing an injustice, we must not admit the fact for fear of losing prestige.
– I will refer to that matter later on. The honorable and learned member is a member of the Peace Society, and only a few months ago, when he was moving a resolution at a meeting of the society, the strong arm of the police had to be called in for the preservation of order. Otherwise, a diabolical riot would no doubt have ensued.
– If the honorable member’s information in regard to the Boer war is on a par with his information with regard to the Peace Society, it is very poor indeed.
– With all respect to the members of the Peace Society for their good intentions, I think that we may carry the doctrine of non-resistance a little too far. The first part of the motion expresses indignation at the baseless charges which have been made against our army for the conduct of the war. Do honorable members believe that those charges are baseless ? I believe that they are. I may be be asked for the evidence in favour of my position. My reply is that the history of Great Britain has always given the lie direct to statements of that character, and I am not prepared to believe that the nature of the British people has so entirely changed that they have descended to barbarism in the conduct of the war in South Africa. We are asked to rely upon the statement of the Boer emissaries, of persons who have studiously kept away from the arena of danger, who have been removed from the scene of carnage, and the seat of warfare. I am not prepared to accept the statements which they have supplied to the journals of Europe. If the British have erred at all, it has been in following too far the dictates of humanity. It is for this reason that they have been misunderstood by foreigners. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne has quoted historical facts in defence ofhis position, but if he had gone further he could have shown that upon every occasion the success of the British arms has been followed, not by tyranny and oppression, but by freedom of the fullest character, such as we enjoy in Australia to-day. The honorable member for Kennedy spoke of those on this side as pandering. Does he use the word only as a figure of speech, or does he really mean to apply it in its full significance?
– I do not think the honorable member should discuss that matter.
– I am merely dealing with a remark made by the honorable member, which, I think, you, sir, failed to hear. The leader of the Opposition might have taken this opportunity to oppose the proposal of the Prime Minister, and to criticise his conduct of business during the last two or three weeks. But honorable members on this side of the Chamber have risen above party interests, and are supporting the views which they honestly believe in. The honorable member for Kennedy holds that the motion is not required, while I, on the other hand, hold that it is. He said that the first portion of it is a sign of weakness. If it is a sign of weakness, and he is such a stickler for the interests of Australia, and such a great believer in an independent nation, I trust that he will not permit this sign of weakness to be handed down in the history of the new nation. If he does not oppose the first portion of the motion he will be a party to the sign of weakness. If, on the other hand, he considers it so seriously as to point to it as a sign of weakness, he will vote against both portions of the motion. The second portion, I take it, is a corollary of the first. The object of the first portion is merely to state to the world that Australia, and those who are responsible for its government, realize that warfare is not a nursery game, and are prepared, as they took the first step, to take the second, the third, and the last step. The honorable ‘ and learned member for Northern Melbourne said he could understand that in the early days of the Boer war one State would send soldiers and another would copy its example. What is the difference between the people of to-day and the people of two years ago1! The people are the same, and a large majority of their representatives in this House had the privilege two years ago of occupying seats in the State Legislatures, where they could express their opinions.
– What I said was that it was very hard for any State to refuse to send troops when one had set the example.
– I see no reason to go back upon my opinion of that day, or to alter my vote. On that occasion the honorable and learned member opposed the sending of troops, and to-night he opposes this motion. If the colonies decided separately to send contingents to South Africa to assist the British forces, we are justified, while the necessity continues, in keeping up the contingents to their full strength. The Commonwealth took over the contract of the States that sent troops to the Transvaal, and it is our bounden duty to maintain the contingents at their full strength. I do not wish to go into the history of the Boer of the pro-Boer. I do not wish to make capital out of the fact that a large majority of the Australians- have decided that the British power shall be paramount in South Africa. I do not wish to take that popular stand and to sing out with the largest crowds. Let me give an illustration which even the honorable member for Kennedy may appreciate. The great republic of the United States of America entered on a war recently for the annexation of the Philippines. We never heard of a howl of derision, of meetings, of Congress being divided in opinion as to whether the nation should continue that war.
– The honorable member has not been reading carefully ‘lately.
– Did the large majority of the people of the United States of America say that that war must be brought to a conclusion ?
– The honorable member cannot read democratic papers.
– I do not take my gospel from Reynolds’ Weekly any more than I should take it from the London Times. If any honorable member takes his gospel in regard to the pro-Boer business from Reynolds’ Weekly, I believe that the London Times is equally reliable.
– As Reynolds’ Weekly is not admitted into Victoria, how could he read it? <
– Honorable members will admit that even the United States has not been able to conquer the Philippinos. Let me now refer to the arguments which have been used about the great Empire to which we are all glad to belong. For the sake of a theory he has adopted, or for the purpose of debate, an honorable member may oppose certain actions of. the Empire, but if he were put to the test in his sober senses, would he take his stand on the side of the Boer or on the side of the Britisher ? I do not believe that a single member would hesitate to take his stand on the side of’ the Britisher. I believe that a lot of this talk is fireworks - the cry of men longing for some Elysium which may come hundreds of years hence when nations shall have changed their habits, and the acquisitive power of individuals and nations shall have been destroyed. We are not dealing, however, with that very happy time which is spoken of in the best of all books, and which we hope will some day come about. We are dealing with nations that hate Great Britain, not because she is barbarous, not because her methods of warfare are those of savagery, but because of the success of her people throughout the world, and because wherever they take they hold, not by power, but by extending freedom.
The faulty portion of this motion is that which reads -
That this House affirms the readiness of Australia to give all requisite aid to the Mother Country in order to bring the present war to an end.
The Prime Minister, who probably was hurried in his drafting, does not say to what end. Campbell-Bannerman would be glad for the war to end on the basis of a compromise. W. H. Stead would be glad for it to end on the basis of a republic. The Boers would be glad for it to end on the basis of retention of sovereign independence. But am I to understand that the Prime Minister merely wishes the war to end on what is called the basis of a compromise, or, in accordance with the desires of the British Empire, by the annexation of the territories of the two States?
– I think we all understand what it means.
– I am very glad if it is so, but considering the extraordinary acuteness and astuteness of the various journals of pro-Boer tendencies, we have to consider the possibility of the motion being twisted into an expression of opinion in favour of restoring to the much-misguided Boers, whose pluck we cannot help admiring, their sovereign independence. I do not think that the war was entered upon by Great Britain for the sake of territorial aggrandizement ; but, whether that be so or not, the struggle has now become one between Great Britain and the rest of the world. No man in his sober senses would contend that the Continental powers have the slightest love for Great Britain. So far as Italy is concerned, we know of the friendly relations which subsist between that country and Great Britain - we know that the Italian navy is practically the British navy - but the other great powers of Europe hate Great Britain with an undying hatred. We know, moreover, that at the time of the declaration of war by the then President of the Boer Republic, the whole of the powers of Europe were working in concert against us. They very strongly desire to see the war continued, disregardful of the fact that the Boers have no chance whatever of securing their independence, in the hope that whilst Great Britain has thousands or hundreds of thousands of her troops engaged in South Africa, they may be afforded an opportunity of striking a deadly blow at a vulnerable part of the
Empire. I do not hesitate to vote for this motion on the ground that it may possibly lead to our embroilment in the quarrels of the British Empire, nor am I influenced against it by any considerations connected with the possibility of establishing a republican system of government in the Commonwealth. If I thought that any proposal would make the way more clear for the establishment of a republican form of Government in the Commonwealth, I should strongly oppose it. I question very much whether any people living under a system of republican Government are freer than those who enjoy the benefits of the British Constitution. It must not be forgotten that the greatest enemies of Great Britain are not those from without, but those from within, her own borders. Some of the enemies from within may be intentional enemies, but the great majority of them are governed in their actions by high principles, which they believe to be just, and by a desire for universal peace and the destruction ofall armies and navies. If this could be achieved there is. nota single man in Australia who would not welcome it. If we are ready to enjoy all the advantages arising from our trade relations with Great Britain, and generally from our connexion with the mother country, we should also be prepared to accept the full responsibility of that connexion. When we are dealing with the statements, which have been circulated throughout the world, and which have been very aptly described by Sir Edward Grey as “foul and filthy lies,” we should not be too mealy-mouthed in expressing our opinions. Our opponents will not thank us for being too studied in our politeness or our phraseology. I believe in giving to others the same as I receive from them, and I cannot do better than adopt the language of Sir Edward Grey, in describing as foul and filthy lies the statements which have been disseminated, not only against our soldiers, but against the citizens of the British Empire. The honorable member for Kennedy referred to the promise which had been made by the Prime Minister in regard to the despatch of troops to South Africa, but I submit that that has nothing to do with the motion before us. The right honorable gentlemen is responsible for his actions, and whether the number of troops to be sent away is 1,000 or 50,000, the element of responsibility is the same. If the honorable member for Kennedy believes that the Prime Minister has flouted Parliament, and that his action is inimical to the Commonwealth, his duty is to vote against the Government. The responsibility of the Government has not been in any way affected, and Parliament has not been deprived of its authority. Parliament can still refuse to send these troops, and the honorable member for Kennedy is wrong in saying that it would be an insult for us to take that course. Which would be the greater insult - to refuse to send the men, . or to send them grudgingly, or whilst believing that it would be dangerous to the community to send them ? If it is dangerous to the community, the honorable member for Kennedy and those who think with him, ought to take a strong stand against the Prime Minister. The power and control of Parliament cannot be interfered with, and the Prime Minister cannot shirk his reponsibility. Whilst responsible Government lasts, this House has full control over the actions of the Ministry.
– How could we have prevented the Government from sending the troops if Parliament had not been called together prior to their despatch to South Africa 1
– Assuming that the House had not met before the troops were sent away, the honorable member would have had it in his power to punish the Prime Minister for taking the matter out of the control of Parliament.
– Parliament cannot be deprived of its control.
– Exactly. This is not a time for appeals, or for professions of loyalty ; but as a native of Australia I can say I have never yet found any necessary freedom taken from me. I have been under British rule all my life, and I ask advocates on the other side, from Germany or France, whether they can make the same statement in regard to those countries or the Transvaal. Can it .be said that Great Britain is going against the whole of her traditions and against the desires of her people, simply for the purpose of carryingon a war ‘ of oppression 1 England is in this war, which in my opinion must be seen through to. a finish. The Australian colonies separately took their part in the war, and the Commonwealth is performing a right and noble duty in continuing the work. All this is not done with the idea’ of destroying people whom we must admire for their pluck and courage, but it is done in order to complete a policy to which Great Britain has put her hand, and which a large majority of the people are prepared to see carried out. Great Britain does not ‘ ask for troops so much for the reason that she requires the soldiery of Natal, Cape Colony, or Australia, but more because colonial troops have shown their particular fitness for the peculiar system of warfare in the Transvaal. The .Secretary of State for the Colonies is much decried, but although we may differ in our domestic policy, we ought to feel gratified that so strong a personality has charge of the interests of the British Empire. We ought to be proud that the intellect and personality of Mr. Chamberlain are being utilized to the interest and advantage of Great Britain, and not to the advantage of Germany, Prance, or - any other foreign nation. I support the motion in the hope that the war will be brought to a speedy conclusion, and with it the difficulties attached to the annexation of the Boer territory - an annexation which I regard as inevitable. The Boers demand their sovereign independence, but at the present juncture no man can think of complying with that demand. The Boers declared war and involved Great Britain in war, and it is our bounden duty to the Empire to take our responsibility, and, having put our hand to the plough, not te leave it until the furrow is finished.
– The motion presented to the House is one of such great importance and significance that I do not care about giving a silent vote on so memorable an occasion. I regard this as one of the proudest incidents in the history of the Federal Parliament. It is an occasion when we see the leader of the Government submitting, and the leader of the Opposition seconding a great and historic motion. I congratulate .the leader of the Opposition on . taking part in the launching of this motion. It is a most ‘gratifying and satisfactory ‘sign that this national House of Australia is prepared, when national and Imperial questions arise, to sink party differences and join in presenting one common and united front to the whole world. I have great pleasure indeed in supporting the motion, and I have no doubt that the great majority of the adult people of Australia will approve with enthusiasm and acclamation when they hear that it has been passed. I was very proud to-day when I heard that the Prime Minister had decided to submit a motion of the kind to the House. I feel that if he had not done so he would have made a very serious mistake. I can only join in the regret, which has already been expressed by the honorable member for Gippsland, that the offer of troops was not made spontaneously as a free and voluntary gift from Australia. In this there is undoubtedly a slight blot on the transaction, but I hope that that blot may be wiped out by the motion which has been so heartily submitted under the most gratifying circumstances. I am sure that the whole, or the great bulk of the people of Australia, including hundreds of thousands of loyal sons and daughters of the Empire, will be proud that this motion has been submitted, not as a mere matter of form, or in order to dispose, for the time being, of a formal duty, but as expressive of our deep and unwavering sympathy with the Imperial Government and the British people in the great problem and campaign on which they have so long been engaged. We desire to show that the Australian people do not shirk the responsibility of nationhood, or allow others to fight the battles of the Empire. We should not, in a great crisis of our history, fold our arms and, sitting under our own vine and fig tree, smoke the pipe of peace and tranquility, while our brothers are shedding their blood and spending their treasure in fighting for their hearths and homes. I, for one, and I am sure every loyal son of the colonial Empire of Britain would be sorry indeed, if any effect were given to the Schreiner policy of colonial neutrality, when great Imperial questions such as this arise. There can be no colonial neutrality where great issues of the Empire are involved, as they are in this great South African problem. This war cannot truthfully be denounced as a selfish war of aggrandizement. I disagree with those honorable members who have endeavoured to submit that it is an unjust war. I am quite sure that if it were an unjust warit would have been impossible for it to have received the universal support of British people all over the face of the globe. It is said that this is a capitalistic war. I do not believe that all the gold in the Transvaal or in the world itself, would be able to purchase the moral and political support of the people of the United Kingdom and the sympathy of the British colonies, which has been manifested during the progress of this campaign. This war was not inaugurated by Great Britain for the purpose of selfaggrandizement, or for the purpose of acquiring fresh territories and dominions. It was forced on the Imperial Government in selfdefence and self-preservation against the aggression of the corrupt Boer oligarchy of Pretoria. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne read an extract from the ultimatum which preceded the Boer invasion, but he did not go a little further and read what followed.
– I could not read the whole mass of papers, amounting to about 1,000 pages.
– A day or two after the ultimatum was issued Mr.Reitz, the Secretary of State for the Transvaal, issued a proclamation in which this passage occurs -
Brother Africanders ! The day is at hand on which great deeds are expected of us. War has broken out. What is it to be ? A wasted and enslaved South Africa, or a free and united South Africa ?
The author of The Times History of the War in South Africa, one of the most impartial records of this war to be found in the whole world, says upon page 376 -
These manifestos, and many others of the same type, such, for instance, as the notorious appeal to Afrikanders to rise against the British yoke, which had been written by Mr. Ben. Viljoen, a member of the second Volksraad, and circulated in Cape Colony for months past, all struck the same note. The war was to be one for the supremacy of Af rickanderdom, and the expulsion of the British power from South Africa.
In another sentence a little lower down the historian says -
What is true is that the Transvaal went to war sooner than concede a small instalment of reform, and had no sooner declared war than it openly avowed that the object of that war was, not the maintenance of the Transvaal franchise in its existing form, but the destruction of the British power in South Africa.
Was that not the case ? Did not the Boers invade the dominions of Her late Majesty the Queen? Did they not invade two colonies and endeavour to subjugate and capture them? The evidence that they wished to establish a Boer oligarchy is too strong to be doubted. They wanted to establish a South African Republic to the exclusion of British power and supremacy there.
– What evidence is there of that ?
– I have already given one piece of evidence. But another piece is to be found in the following cable which was published in the Australian papers so recently as the 9th January -
An interesting disclosure with respect to the aspirations on the part of the Boers before the outbreak of the war has been made by Dr. Hans Sauer, a brother of Mr. J. W. Sauer, Commissioner of Public Works in the late Schreiner Ministry in Cape Colony. Dr. Sauer declares that he saw a copy of an application form for admission to citizenship in the proposed “United South African Republic.”
– What was the date of that application form?
– It was before the outbreak of the war. I am not speaking of secondary evidence, but of something which Dr. Sauer saw for himself. The cable continues -
He adds, that 180,000 of these forms were printed in green ink in Holland, and were forwarded to South Africa prior to the commencement of the war.
Upon these grounds, I submit that this is not an unjust war, but one which has been- been forced upon the Empire, and which the Empire was bound in the words of Mr. Chamberlain upon a memorable occasion “ to see through.” Does the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne wish the Empire to back down and withdraw its army from South African territory whilst these brigands and desperadoes are overrunning Natal and Cape Colony? It seems to me that the contention of gentlemen who support the proBoer cause is that their own countrymen are wrong and that the enemies of their country are right. They ask us to concede that independence upon which the Boers staked the hazard of battle. It seems to me that that is asking us as loyal subjects and faithful citizens of the Empire to do something which we cannot possibly do with honour. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne said that Great Britain had lost morally by this war. As against that statement we have the testimony not merely of patriotic Britons but of intelligent foreigners - testimony which has recently been made available.
The magnificent demonstration of imperial solidarity in the battlefields of South Africa in .1900 was, therefore, not an isolated incident caused by a sudden outburst of loyalty, but the inevitable result of a hundred years of colonial development.
Another cable published in the daily newspapers on the “2nd January is as follows : -
Mr. Max Nordau, a leading continental litterateur, has written a letter to the Neue M-ee Presse, a Vienna journal, on the subject of the war in South Africa. He expresses the opinion that the tremendous exertions of the British in the Transvaal had strengthened Great Britain, and that the historical and racial ties uniting Canada, Australia and Great Britain form a stronger bond of union than any constitution,
He goes on to say that -
The devotion of the British colonies has not in the opinion of the writer been influenced by material interest.
Captain Mahan, in a brilliant article published, in the North America/a Review, says- .
– Captain Mahan is an American and speaks of military and not of moral prestige.
– Captain Mahan, speaking of the influence of the war upon, the prestige of the Empire, says -
First among symptoms is one, which to my mind, gives immeasurable assurance of national power - the sure guarantee of prestige - and that is the progress towards unanimity in the nation, centring round the idea of imperialism, and finding an immediate impetus in the South African problem.
– He speaks only as a military man.
– He speaks not only as a man of the world, but as one of the keenest critics of military and naval affairs of modem times. He shows that this war has developed the Imperial spirit more than has any other event in the history of our nation, and that it has given the colonies- - the off-shoots of the Empire - an opportunity of expressing their strong and determined adherence to the ties and instincts of kinship which bind us together. I am quite sure, therefore, that the Federal Government has assumed the right position in recommending this House to pass this motion. It will be a notice and intimation not only to foreign nations, but also to those renegade Englishman who are playing into the hands of our foreign enemies, that the great bulk of the manhood of this Australian Commonwealth are determined to do their duty as residents of a component part of the Empire on this great, important, and historical occasion, and no doubt on any other occasion which may arise, when we shall be called upon by the necessities and the demands of patriotism to do our duty.
– The opinion has been expressed that it might be desirable to treat this as two motions in order that the House might be divided upon the question. So far as I am concerned, it is immaterial to me how the motion is put, as I intend to support it in its entirety. I do, however, desire to say that personally I regret, what to my mind has been the inaction of the Government, which has caused the necessity for the first part of the motion. If the Government had performed the duty devolving upon them, and had risen to the occasion at the proper time, the necessity for this resolution would not have arisen. Their proposal to send a Federal contingent was altogether too long delayed. They appear to have been completely out of touch with the feelings, opinions, and sentiments of the. citizens of the Commonwealth in delaying until they were asked by the Imperial Parliament for this contingent, and in not proposing to send it. If we look back to the history of the State Governments in the despatch of contingents to South Africa, it will be seen that in some of the States at least, it was proposed to maintain the strength of the contingents. It was, therefore, a duty devolving upon the Federal Government when they took over the control of the Defence department and the regulation of Defence affairs generally, to maintain the contingents sent to South Africa up to their full fighting strength, and to fill up whatever vacancies might be caused by the misfortunes of war or through men being returned here invalided. Having failed in that duty, I say, without any hesitation, that they had no other course to pursue than that which they have taken in connexion with this motion. I have been very pleased indeed to note the attitude of the right honorable the leader of the Opposition in regard to the motion. I desire to say that some of the opinions given expression to came with a little surprise to me. The honorable member for Northern Melbourne has said that he is opposed to sending any contingent at the present time, but should the necessity arise - and some dire necessity, I assume, it would be when the Empire would be rent asunder - then he would support the sending of a contingent to render assistance to the Empire. But what would be our position 1 Are we to wait practically until the day of reckoning has come 1 Is it not much more desirable to send men now in order to keep that Empire intact?
– There is no fighting now with a great power.
– We must consider the peculiar’ conditions under which we are fighting. Notwithstanding the many wars in which Britain has been involved, it is no common occurrence for her to have had to put a quarter of a million of fighting men fully equipped into the field at such a distance from the seat of government and to maintain and provide for them there for such a length of time, because we must remember that this war has now been two years in operation. As to the merits or demerits of the war, the view I took from the outset was that it was the duty of those who control the destinies of the Empire to decide. They decided that it was absolutely necessary in the interests of the Empire to enter upon this war for defensive purposes. We know that as soon as hostilities were declared the .Boers invaded the British territory, and it appeared to me to become at that time a question of the maintenance of British supremacy in South Africa, and whether the British or the Boers should rule in South Africa. That being so, and the statesmen of the Empire having decided as to the necessity of taking upon themselves the responsibility of this war, I say we had no option but to take our part in it. We have, as citizens of Australia, for a century obtained all the advantages pertaining to citizenship of the Empire, practically without any cost to us as citizens of Australia, and when some little of the responsibilities of the Empire are about to be cast upon us, are we going to shirk them ? As to the feelings of Australians, and their patriotism and loyalty, I say that their loyalty is more than skin deep, and more than lip loyalty. If there is one conviction thoroughly imprinted upon Australians, whether they reside where they are surrounded by the luxuries obtainable in centres of population, or are fighting the forces of nature in the desert, that conviction is that under no flag on earth could they get the same liberty or freedom as they get under the British flag. They are pre- pared to fight to uphold that flag. Some 1 honorable members say that it is for purely mercenary purposes that they go to South Africa - for the 5s. a day? But what is thu position ?
– Ask them if they -will go for ls 2d. per day?
– Hundreds have left to join the forces in South Africa without any assurance that they would get Id. The one regretable incident in connexion with the whole affair is that some of the Governments who sent the earlier contingents to South Africa have not per. formed their proper duty to those who returned here invalided, and have not yet performed their proper duty to the dependents of those who have lost their lives fighting for the Empire.
– Victoria sent the smallest proportion of all the States.
– It is not a question of the proportion sent. The question now is as to the duty of Australia as a Commonwealth, and I hope that this national Government will not let any of those who go out under its auspices die in the poor-house, or allow those who may he dependent upon men who may lose their lives in South Africa to he dependent upon charity, but that we shall make ample provision for them. That sentiment was thoroughly impressed upon Australians, and they are prepared to fight for the Empire without fee or reward, knowing that the nation will do its duty by those dependent upon them. As to those who object to commit the Australian Commonwealth to any responsibility in the continuance of this war to a successful issue, I desire to refer to a statement made by the honorable member for Bland, in connexion with a statement attributed to the right honorable the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Mr. Chamberlain, to the effect that a settlement of the war would only be made in accordance with the wishes of the colonies. I read that statement when it appeared in the press in Australia, and the interpretation I put upon it was, that the wishes of the British colonies in South Africa would be given full consideration to in the final settlement of the war. And rightly so, to my mind, because they have been placed in a very peculiar position. Since the outbreak of the war they have been in a perpetual ferment ; their territory has been invaded, the homes of their peace ful and loyal citizens have been destroyed, and their lives have become a misery to them, and I think they rightly take up the position that now this war has been entered upon, they must have some guarantee of stability in the future. Whatever settlement is arrived at ; their opinions and their feelings should receive some consideration at the hands of the statesmen of the Empire; and that they should not be left, as they have been left practically for the last twenty years, in’ a state of fear and uncertainty as to what may occur at any time. Then the Australian, as we know him, has a special value as a trooper or soldier in this war. As has been shown, he has special qualifications. The average Australian, if he mounts a horse, can sit on it, and he adapts himself very rapidly to the field. The greater portion who go from here to the war are used to bush life. They have a special knowledge of bush-craft, and they have to deal with a people raised under conditions somewhat similar to their own. The average Australian, taken from bush life in Australia, will be equally as wily as the Boer.
– Why are our men always put under British officers ?
– The trouble is, perhaps, that we have not the officers here who are specially trained for the work. I cannot say that that is the case.
– They are not all British officers who are’ placed over our men.
– One peculiar feature noticeable in the Australian, is that he does not subject himself to military discipline as readily as do citizens of other nations. It may be a useful object lesson to him to ‘understand the necessity for discipline where there is a large body of men to be controlled.
– Make our men second class.
– No, not second class, Our men will receive all the merit to which they are entitled. With these feelings I most heartily support the motion. As a citizen of Australia I am not alarmed about any commitment that we may make in the latter portion of the motion as to the assistance necessary, and which will be forthcoming in order to bring this war to a successful issue. There is one feature to which I should like to direct special attention. Paragraphs have appeared recently in the newspapers setting forth that those of the contingent who may be invalided in any way, will have no provision made for them by the Imperial authorities other than that payable out of the patriotic fund. I would draw the special attention of the Prime Minister to the necessity for making such provision for them as will be creditable to the Australians as a community.
Mr. BRUCE SMITH (Parkes)__ I was hopeful that after the speech delivered by the right honorable gentlemen at the head of the Government) and the speeches by the right honorable gentleman at the head of the Opposition, and the leader of the Labour Party, this motion would have been passed without any debate. I am bound to say that, in my opinion, the force and value of the motion are very much impaired by the fact that it has led to a prolonged debate in which so great a difference of opinion between certain honorable members has been shown. The speech which the honorable member for Northern Melbourne has made is, no doubt, a very interesting one. To me it is exceedingly interesting. As a pyschological study it has an interest quite apart from the purpose of this debate. I think it was Carlyle who said once that history was “ condensed newspapers”; and the honorable and learned gentleman’s speech only shows me, as it will show to every observant man, how possible it is that the verysame facts recorded in our newspapers during the last two or three years may lead to diametrically opposite generalizations in one mind as compared with those of another mind educated very much in the same way. The studies of the honorable and learned member and those through which I have gone are very much alike. His speech shows that it is possible for two men to have absorbed simliar facts of so modern a date as those of the last two or three years, and yet- to arrive at conclusions ona question like this which are diametrically opposed to each other. I should have been prepared to pass the other speeches made during the debate, but I should feel that I was wanting in public spirit if I assented to any one of the several strange propositions that the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne has put before the House. He told us something about his lineage ; but I should hope that he was what I might call the intellectual sport of that particular line of citizens, because-
– There is no occasion to be rude.
– I have no desire to be-. I should be very sorry to think that it was an increasing quantity in this or any other country that politicians or citizens could arrive at such conclusions from such facts as those which have been experienced by all of us. What is this motion? It consists of two parts, the first vindicating the character of our soldiers against the libellous aspersions of the foreign press. How the honorable member can object to a motion of that kind I cannot understand.
– I only say that it is unnecessary ; our soldiers stand on their Own merits.
– Throughout his speech the honorable and learned member made many complimentary remarks about the soldiers of the Empire. We know that this motion is not intended for the purpose of assuring the people of England that we believe in the virtue of our soldiers. We know it is quite unnecessary that we should assure the people of Australia that we believe in the merits, the valour, the honesty, and the humanity of our soldiers. But it is to tell the outside world that we repudiate the charges which have been made against the soldiers of the Empire, including the soldiers of Australia; that we, who are on the spot, knowing exactly what they have done and have not done, repudiate these assertions with the scorn whichthey deserve.. The second motion is simply an expression of. opinion on the part of the House - and not on the part of an honorable member individually - that Australia is willing to help the mother country whenever she may require help. I find fault with the motion because of the use of the word “ requisite,” for I consider the whole virtue of any offers of troops lies in their spontaneity. In all these cases these offers should have been made without calling upon Great Britain to anounce to the world that she required assistance from us or any one else: The honorable member in the course of his very capable speech - although I am bound to say that it is one of the oddest deliverances that I have ever heard from a man who has studied logic, who has a knowledge of the methods of reasoning from the particular to the general - caused me much surprise by the conclusions expressed by him. He had evidently very prominently in his mind the fact that he was under an obligation to his constituents ; because he stated at the very outset of his remarks that he had informed them that so far as he was concerned he would not consent to any further contingents being sent to South Africa. Looking at this question from a somewhat analytical point of view, especially with regard to the honorable and learned member, it seems to me to throw a little light upon ‘the quality of the honorable and learned member’s mind, that, having gone before his constitutents he should have told them, in this bald, unconditional way - without knowing what conditions might arise, what considerations might come up requiring Australia to intervene - that he would be no party to -the sending of any further contingents. How can that be accounted for 1
– We are not speaking of a war with Germany or France.
– We are speaking of this war; and the honorable and learned member exhibited considerable intellectual weakness in that he told his constituents, without condition or reservation of any kind, twelve months or more before he -knew how this war was going to ultimate- - before he knew what turns of fortune there might be against England - that he would not be a party to the sending of any more troops.
– The honorable and learned member must have very small faith in England’s power.
– I do not find fault with the honorable member for saying this, because, as an individual, he has a perfect right to entertain what opinions he chooses. We have learned during the debate that he is a member of a Peace Society. Now I can well understand why he should have an insuperable objection in his mind to war of any kind When we couple that knowledge with the fact that he has actually suggested arbitration between the Boers and Great Britain as -an alternative, it shows that upon this subject he must have a distinct kink in his mind. The honorable and. learned member has informed us that he told his constituents what he has repeated to this House, and of course that promise binds him. The Prime Minister told the honorable member for Kennedy a few weeks ago that he would not despatch a contingent without consulting Parliament, and, in doing so, bound his hands to a great extent. If the Prime Minister had not done that, I should have expected the Government to have sent troops to South Africa long ago, instead o£ fumbling over the matter as they have done, in order that they might meet Parliament, and ascertain how honorable members feel upon the question. The honorable and learned member has made an unconditional and unreserved promise to his constituents that he will not be a party to the sending away of a contingent, and now, although the mother country has asked Australia to send 1,000 soldiers to South Africa, the honorable and learned member has to tell us that he cannot be a party to the motion now before the House. But that does not bind us ; for we have made no such rash promise.
– It required some courage to make that promise.
– The . honorable and learned member has not a monopoly of courage in this House, though he may have a large amount of it.
– The honorable member treats my action as though I intended to vote against my convictions.
– It is not always the man who rushes to a conclusion who is the bravest or the most courageous. J Judgment is the better part of valour; and he would have been wiser if he had told his constitutents that he reserved to himself the right to approve or disapprove of the sending of a contingent to South Africa, according to the circumstances which might arise. We are asked to guide ourselves to some extent by the action of the honorable and learned member, although he has admitted that he is not a free agent in dealing with the question, no matter what might happen in the meantime. His speech, it seems to me, was a tirade against war of every kind, and he made the extraordinary proposition that, instead of going to war, we should have gone to arbitration with the Boers, and that arbitration should have been resorted to even after the war had been commenced. The honorable and learned member knows as well as I do that all modes of settling disputes are utterly useless, unless there is a force behind them by which you can guarantee the decisions of the arbitrators being observed. What sort of force would the honorable and learned gentleman have used if the arbitration had gone in favour of Great Britain 1
He knows very well that at the Hague, in all the discussions with regard to arbitration between nations, one of the first conditions was that a number of the biggest powers of Europe should bind themselves to enforce the results of arbitration.
– Does the honorable and learned member doubt that the Boers would carry out what they promised to do?
– Then the honorable and learned member begs the question.
– The honorable and learned member would have arbitrated when England had 250,000 soldiers in South Africa ; but if the arbitration had been in favour of Great Britain, she would have been in the same position as she is in now.
– The public opinion of America and of Europe would have been against the Boers in that case ; now it is with them.
– The public opinion of America’ is very difficult to gauge. If the honorable and learned member would rely upon America coming to the assistance of England to enforce this award, he is reasoning in a circle. The proposal is one which I venture to say nineteen of the first twenty men one might meet in any deliberative assembly would regard as impracticable.
– What about the Monroe Doctrine?
– Surely the honorable member does not wish me to deliver a lecture upon what is at the present time a subject foreign to the discussion. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne wished the House to believe that no one is more loyal than he, and that, if put to the test, he would be willing that Australia should help England when she was in extremities.
– And when help would be of no use.
– That is not a fair version of my statement.
– Those are the words the honorable and learned member used. If I am allowed to follow out the analogy of a mother and her children, I would ask what sort of a child would say - “ I am very loyal to mother, but I will not help her until she is in extremities “?
– Would the honorable and learned member help his mother to rob a hen-roost?
– I should help her under any circumstances. I should not wait until she was in extremities, and then ask her to discuss the justice of the position in which she found herself. But in this case we havenot to do that; because, if we have had our minds open, we have been able to judge from the first where the justice of this quarrel lies. There is no need to leave things to the last, and then boast in mere words of our loyalty to the Empire. Our loyalty is best shown by our coming forward, without any request from the Empire, and saying, “Name what number of men you want, and we shall send them.”
– To any war the Empire likes to enter upon ?
– I am speaking of the present Boer war. The honorable and learned member said that the war began in injustice. I do not think honorable members want the debate to drift into a discussion ofthe technicalities of the documentary communications which passed between the two Governments prior to the war ; but every level-headed person recognises in a general way that. Great Britain has been drawn into this war because in the first place she insisted upon British subjects being treated fairly, honestly, and equitably whilst resident in the Transvaal. The honorable and learned member knows very well that the Boers invited people to come from all parts of the world to open up their mines. It was quite competent for them to have refused to give such an invitation, and to open up their mines for themselves. But they chose to avail themselves of the intelligence and enterprise of British and Australian people, and having got them there they denied them ordinary rights, so that England had to come to the rescue, not of its own citizens, because these persons were not English taxpayers, but of citizens of the Empire, and to insist that they should receive fair treatment. I do not think that they were entitled to the franchise. I have been fair enough always to hold that unless they were prepared to become subjects of the Transvaal they had no right to claim all the privileges of citizens. But there were many questions which arose in the history of the Transvaal in which British Australians and American citizens demanded fair and rational treatment while in the country, but they could not get it. It was the discontent of such citizens that caused the Jamieson raid to be made, and the war has sprung from it.
– Does the honorable and learned member believe that ?
– Yes, and I have read the history of the war as carefully as the honorable and learned member has done. He speaks of the Boers as though they were an innocent people, who confined themselves to farm work, and were utterly surprised at the attack made upon them by the British.
– I did not say so.
– I did not say that the honorable member did say so, but he said something which would imply such a conclusion. Does he not know from the evidence he read that for years the Boers were preparing for this war ?
– Which years?
– For two, three, or four years prior to the war.
– That is quite true - after 1895.
– Does not the honorable and learned member know that articles of war of all kinds were carried through Portuguese territory surreptitiously ?
– I do not know.
– Cannons carried as pianos, and rifles as ironmongery. I only wish to establish the general proposition that this was not a nation of simple farmers, who were suddenly attacked by a great nation unfairly and unawares. For three or four years they were preparing for this war ; and every opportunity that a civilized nation could offer was given to the President of that State to induce him to adopt some amicable means of settling the difficulty with regard to the Uitlanders. Does not the honorable and learned member know also that at the last moment it was the citizens of the Transvaal, the Boers, who went into Natal, who first trespassed on British territory, before England declared war?
– They got the first blow in.
– They delivered the ultimatum. When I hear the honorable and learned member disseminating for the information of people throughout
Australia, who perhaps have not read the newspapers with the same care as he, and I, and others have done - the idea that this was a community of simple homespun farmers, who were innocently pursuing their ordinary avocations, and that a great and avaricious nation had suddenly come down upon them without any notice, it is time that any one who is informed on these questions should show that for three or four years the Boers had been spending millions which they were making out of the enterprise of the foreigners who were working their mines ; and that when the time came, they were more prepared for war than was the other nation. Let the honorable and learned member not pose here in the position of a member of the Peace Society, who expects the millenium to come before its time. He must not imagine that men and women are angels, and that there are now all the elements of the millenium in our midst. I wonder if he recollects two very celebrated letters, signed “S,” which appeared in the Times, one at an early date, and one after the war had practically determined which was the better of the two forces, and which were afterwards discovered to have been written by one of the Schreiner family.
– Who has discovered that? I saw it alleged.
– At first it was stated in the Times, and it is now admitted by Mr. Schreiner himself that he was the writer of the letters.
– Where has the admission appeared ?
– In the Times.
– “ P.S.” was the signature, but it was never provedto have been Mr. Philip Schreiner’s.
– What did those letters show? The first one gave a complete category of all the preparations which had been made during three or four previous years for driving Englishmen into the sea. He told them in that letter that the Boers, through their press, had been led to believe that the English were a decadent nation; that they were on the eve of dismemberment; that they were quite unfitted to carry on a great war, and that all the Boers had to do was to make all these preparations, and they might secure to themselves the whole of South Africa for the Dutch people. Those were the preparations, and those were the beliefs of- these people ; but the subsequent letter said in the most candid way that they had discovered that they had been misinformed, that they had been completely disillusioned ; that they had no idea of the power and the might of England, and that if they had had, the war would never have been commenced. Only lately, there was published in the Times correspondence which had passed, between two of the commandants, in which one of them asked “ Why did we go to war with this mighty England, except that we were deceived by our press ? “ The honorable and learned member speaks of the continuance of this war as if England were an aggressor, and the Boers were on the defence. But what is the war ? Is it not merely a matter of brigandage on a large scale ? Is it not a fact that Great Britain is compelled even now to keep from 200,000 to 250,000 soldiers in South - Africa, simply for the purpose of preventing 10,000 or 13,000 guerilla soldiers from retaking possession of one or other of the republics ? Is it not a fact that these republics have been taken possession of, that industry and commerce are maintained, and everything else is pursuing almost its normal course, but that these 10,000 or 13,000 people are standing in this aggressive attitude, waiting for every opportunity to destroy the railways, and the farms, and in everyway to break in upon the peace and harmony of the community 1 Yet the honorable and learned member would lead the public of Australia to suppose that the British are there endeavouring to crush these’ poor devils into the earth, to kill them, to mutilate them, or behave in any other inhuman manner towards them. Why, the boot is entirely on the other leg. The Boers are the aggressors, and if they are content to take their farms and work honestly and quietly under the freest Constitution in the world, they may do so. What are the British people fighting for ? Are they fighting for mere conquest ? Are they fighting merely to grab territory? Are they asking for this territory? Are they asking for powers of taxation as other European countries, like Turkey, might do? No. They say - “We propose to establish in these two republics great British colonies, in which there shall be the freest citizenship in the world, equal to that’ in- Australia. Come back and occupy your own farms.”
The Boers are actually asked, many of them, to come back and occupy their own farms, and continue their ordinary avocations.
– But after their houses have been burnt.
– The honorable and learned member knows why the houses were burnt. He knows that they were made mere hiding places for the rebels, who stayed with the women and children that were humanely left, and hoisted a white flag and then shot people down. He knows very well that it was like adding so many more kopjes to the veldt to enable these people to take up an aggressive position.
– They burnt houses without any evidence of that kind.
– What I object to is that statements such as the honorable member has made, in a most capable speech, should go forth to the public of Australia without any apparent contradiction from people who are just as well informed as he is. I am sure he does not believe that he monopolises all the knowledge of the details of these matters, and, if nineteen out of every twenty members of the House have come to a conclusion diametrically opposed to his own on the same facts, it is very well that the people of Australia should know that he is only one of halfadozen here, out of a very large number, who happen to have drawn that conclusion from the facts.
– I think the difficulty is that we differ as to the facts.
– I do not think we .do. The honorable and learned member is very likely to have read the same newspapers as we have read, but we have different reasoning methods. I adopt the ordinary method; I do not know the method which he adopts.’ The honorable and learned member then went on to take quite an economic view of this question. That is a strange combination. When we are talking of sending troops to help Great Britain, the honorable member suddenly drops down to the mundane doctrine of political economy and says “ We want the men here.” Just imagine the case of a man who sees his parent in trouble - that is as nearly as we can describe our position to the mother country. Just imagine a man upon, seeing one of his parents embroiled in a trouble saying “ I cannot help you because I am too busy - I have work to do on my farm.”
– If England were to enter upon an opium war would the honorable and learned member be disposed to help her ?
– I am not answering conundrums, but dealing with the Boer war and the honorable and learned member’s speech. The honorable and learned member seems - if he will pardon my saying so - to have an anæmic mind.
– Mine is not an apoplectic mind at all events.
– The honorable and learned member’s mind is antæmic in so far as it is lacking in those qualities which follow from a wholesome flow of blood through the system. There is no valour and no patriotism on his own part, and he does not credit other people with any such feelings. He seems to think that the world can be brought to a peaceful condition apart from the operation of impulses or passions of any kind. The honorable and learned member has expressed some surprise that the Australian people should bo called upon to assist in this war, but it seems to me to be the most natural thing in the world. Every man recognises that Australia should be prompted not only bv patriotic feelings, but, as the honorable member for Gippsland has said- -if you put it upon the most mundane and selfish grounds - it is to the interest of Australia to help Great Britain, under whose wing we have been , sheltered throughout the whole of our history. When we talk so confidently about dealing with the Chinese and Japanese, where should we be unless we had the unconscious knowledge that all we have to do is to trust to Great Britain and to the taxpayers of Great Britain - that is the humiliating part of it - if we should get into any difficulties. That being the position, do we not act in our own interest when we come forward and say - “ We are here to give you what assistance you want “ ? Has this not another great advantage? Is it not of great advantage to the world and to Australia that we should demonstrate to the nations of Europe that if they want to fight that tight little island in the northern seas they will have to fight not only the people living in a land only 700 miles long, but the people of Canada, of South Africa, and of Australia, and New Zealand - that they will have to go all round the globe and count upon their enemies before they embark upon a great struggle of that kind. Our action in assisting the Empire has the twofold effect of satisfying the patriotism of every wholesomely-constructed citizen and of recognising our obligation to the British Empire. Furthermore by demonstrating to the nations of Europe that we are ready at any moment to come forward spontaneously to help Great Britain we give one of the greatest guarantees for the peace of the world. Has not this war in South Africa brought out strong sympathies on the part of the other branches of the Anglo-Saxon race ? Has it not changed the position which it was thought was going to be controlled by a triple alliance of Europe? Has it not been demonstrated to Germany and Russia and France that if either of them, or all three of them, come to loggerheads with Great Britain she may count not only upon the British colonies, but possibly upon the whole of the Anglo-Saxon races of the world ? Could there be a greater guarantee, for the peace nf the world than the fact that the whole of the Anglo-Saxon races would probably become one in the face of a great racial difficulty. This South African war has enabled us to give our assistance to the mother country as some slight return for the many obligations under which she has placed us. It has consolidated the British Empire, and it has brought us together. It has demonstrated that we are one people and that our safety lies in unity, and it has guaranteed the peace of the world by showing that the Anglo-Saxon people are one, and will act as one in a common trouble.
– I am sorry I have not had a better opportunity of making some preparation to adequately deal with a motion of such importance as this. I may say at the outset that I intend to support both sections of the motion. At the same time I feel that the Government are open to some censure for the manner in which they dealt with the apparent desire of the Imperial Government that a further manifestation of support should come from Australia. I listened with considerable attention to what the Prime Minister said in attempted exculpation of the hesitancy of the Government in sending this contingent to South Africa, and, notwithstanding the statements put forward by the Prime Minister, it strikes me that the Government have displayed a timidity and vacillation which is unworthy of the Executive of a young Commonwealth whose reputation has yet to be won by the grit and character displayed by her public men. I think the Prime Minister and the Cabinet ought to have instinctively judged of what was passing in the minds of the English people at the beginning of the continental cavillings, and that they would have met with the approval of the whole of the people of Australia if they had spontaneously offered to send further troops to the assistance of the Empire in South Africa. After the first contingent had left Australia, the time for hesitation in answering the implied or expressed desire of Great .Britain for assistance was past. By refusing to give further assistance when it is expected we practically cancel the good effect of that which was given in the first instance. Whilst I differ from the views which have been expressed by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, I cannot but admire the consistency which he has displayed. We cannot accuse the honorable member of any hesitation or vacillation. He took his stand at the beginning, and in face of possible defeat at the federal elections, he stuck to his guns. But I should like to reply to an interjection which he made some little time ago when he asked where was the evidence of the Boer precipitation of the war.
– I asked where was the evidence that the Boers had prepared for war before 1S95 and 1896.
– Perhaps the honorable and learned member will allow me to read him a quotation. It happens to be from an Irish writer, but not from one of the class to which he has referred. I do not think the honorable and learned member, in speaking of one section of the Irish people, was intentionally unjust to the others, but in justice to the honorable and learned member himself, I should like to put some qualification upon his remarks when he pointed to the exceptional loyalty of those who constituted the stock from which he is descended. By implication, of course, every one who makes such a comparison impugns’ the loyalty - I hate the word “ loyalty,” because I think it is too often abused - impugns the sense of public duty of the rest of the Irish. I do not think the honorable and learned member intentionally cast any imputation upon the loyalty of the Catholics of Ireland, but his words were susceptible of that interpretation. I remember, in connexion with one of the great turning movements on the Tugela, when Buller had to return for the third time, he selected General Hart and the Irish brigade to take the place of honour, to act as the pivot on which the whole movement of the army should turn. When I remember also on how many wellfought fields, from Tugela to Pieter’s Kop, loyalty to the Empire was displayed - when I remember that the Catholic Inniskillens at Pieter’s Kop went 650 strong into action, and that the 40 left at the end towards sundown were guilty of an act of disobedience in refusing to obey the bugle which called on the remnant to retire - I am sorry that the honorable and learned member was, at least, not a little more careful when he- unintentionally, no doubt - cast a slight on, to use his own terms, “ the loyalty of the Catholic Irish.”
– The honorable and learned member did not cast a slight.
– The honorable and learned member did not intend to do so, but in justice to himself, and in justice to those who might be affected by his words, it is due to me to offer this explanation. Had the honorable and learned member’s words gone to the public without any qualification he would have appeared to do an injustice which he never meant. Let me quote another Irishman - Fitzpatrick.
– Was he not the man who was arrested and put in prison by the Kruger Government?
– I do not know everything, and I cannot answer that question. Fitzpatrick, in his book The Transvaal from Within, says -
It is sufficient to show that the aim of the Transvaal has been to subvert the Imperial authority and expel the Imperial power, and that the sympathetic attitude of the Afrikander Bond, however human it may be, has been used to draw British subjects into a dangerous course, and has led them to coquet with an ambition which the British half of the population and the British Empire will resist at all costs.
Fitzpatrick quotes two authorities to prove that for half a century past there has been an almost acknowledged design on the part of the official burghers in the Transvaal to upset British supremacy in South Africa.
– I am afraid Fitzpatrick is a strong partisan.
– Every man is more or less a partisan. There is not a politician in this House to-night who is not unconsciously biased in one direction or another. We do not always take the cold-blooded view taken by the honorable member, who tests the interior of every question with the axe of logic. Most of us are affected, to some extent, by prejudice, which means enthusiasm or passion. Mr. Fitzpatrick quotes President Burgers, President Kruger’s predecessor, in a speech delivered to an audience in Holland.
– In what year?
Mr.GLYNN. - I cannot give the year because . I have not the original book. I am reading from the Quarterly Review, which quotes from Mr. Fitzpatrick’s book, TheTransvaal from Within. President Burgers is reported as saying -
In that far-off country the inhabitants still dream of a future in which the people of Holland will recover their former greatness. He was convinced that within half a century there would be in South Africa a population of 8,000,000, all speaking the Dutch language, and all extending the glory of Holland - a second Holland, as energetic and liberty-loving as the first, but greater in extent and greater in power.
– That was before the London Convention in 1880.
– I do not care when it was. That is a clear and unequivocal declaration of the then desires and the future policy of the Transvaal Government in regard to South Africa.
– President Burgers wanted help from Holland before fighting Great Britain.
– Will the honorable and learned member allow me to come a little closer, and show that there is a continuity between the policy of Burgers and the policy of Kruger, the only difference being that Kruger, as particularly astute, acted with a little more caution? What does President Kruger say? The Bloemfontein Express reports a speech delivered by President Kruger in 1887, as follows: -
I think it too soon to speak of a united South Africa under one flag. Which flag is it to be ? The Queen of England would object to having her flag hauled down, and we, the burghers of the Transvaal, object to hauling down ours. We must be patient then. We are now small and of little importance, but we are growing, and are preparing the way to take our place among the great nations of the world.
Any one who wishes to understand the Boer policy can easily enough read within those lines. There is another reason which impels me now to support this motion, apart altogether from what might have operated with a member of the Imperial Parliament four or five years ago when deciding the action which might have stopped subsequent developments. The war now going on impels me to render the assistance asked for by the Imperial power. I do not do so from motives of Australian self-interest, and I am sorry that the Prime Minister, even for a moment, referred to the operation of such a motive in this Parliament on a question of the sort. I would rather put it that, from motives of . gratitude, I support the motion. What is the position ? In 1891there was an expenditure of £14,000,000 on the British navy, while the expenditure last year was £32,000,000. How much did the British possessions - India, all the colonies, the Dominion of Canada, and the Commonwealth of Australia - contribute towards that £32,000,000 ? According to the Board of Trade returns the contribution of the British possessions was not £550,000 ; and as a matter of fact our direct contribution is not £150,000 a year. In other words the contribution of the whole of the British possessions, including Australia, is not a sixtieth of the total naval expenditure. If our contribution were levied in proportion to our powers as manifested in population and wealth, it would be at least £2,000,000 a year instead of £150,000. Do honorable members not see that we are under obligations of gratitude to the Imperial authorities, when assistance is asked for ? In the export and import trade of Great Britain, the share of the colonies and possessions is about one-fourth ; but, besides, there is a trade of about £300,000,000 between British possessions that never touches the United Kingdom, but which enjoys the protection of the British flag. The expenditure of £32,000,000 a year means taxation, levied on whom ? On the working classes of England, who are less able than we are to bear taxation per head. Surely, under these circumstances, when the Imperial Government is engaged in war, and when Continental cavilling challenges our affection for the mother country, we ought, even from motives of gratitude, not to hesitate in rendering all the reasonable assistance that is required. At all events these considerations operate with me, and compel me enthusiastically to support the motion. I represent a State in which there is a very large proportion of Germans, and in justice to them I think it should be stated that, since the outbreak of the war, they have never manifested the slightest disloyalty. Only yesterday, in Adelaide, I met one of the leading German residents. He told me that the speech of Count von Bulow was utterly misunderstood ; that it did largely express the feelings of the leading Germans towards Great Britain, which were feelings of amity, and did not bear the gloss sought to be put upon it by The Times. I agree with the honorable member for Bland that we ought not to be too particular or too squeamish in regard to the criticisms of the Continental press. The press of England is to some extent responsible for the alienation of German feeling. I find, for example, that such statements as the following were allowed to be published in the Spectator in 1900. They are words which are quoted by a leading German journalist as one of the chief causes of the irritation of Germany towards England -
Politically, they can hardly be called a free nation, and a nation that within the short space of fiveyears grabbed the half of Denmark, and, after a war cynically precipitated by means of a forged telegram, grabbed Alsace-Lorraine, a nation which holds down these stolen provinces, and Posen as well, by brute force, and whose sovereign advertises himself as the bosom friend of the Turkish assassin - what right has such a nation to lecture us in the name of liberty ?
When we find such statements appearing in a paper that is otherwise judicious and urbane, as the Spectator undoubtedly is, we must acknowledge that there is some reason in the complaints . of leading German journalists that the present irritation of that country is to some extent caused by the intemperate language used towards Germany by some writers in the English press. I have taken this statement from an article by a leading German journalist, which was published in the Quarterly Review of last year. It is an article written by a friend of England, because he concludes in these words -
God forbid that this possibility (the possibility of war between England and Germany) should ever become a fact, or that two nations bound together by so many common traditions and interests should ever meet each other in the field. We refuse to believe that it is more than a possibility.
I think thatin justice to the German population of Australia we should not take the vapourings of a part of an irresponsible press as a true index of the feeling which has existed throughout the last century between Germany and Great Britain. I hope, therefore, that no words which we use in this House in reference to Continental cavillings, to which we may bake objection, will be misunderstood by reasonable Germans, or tend to minimise those feelings of friendship which ought to exist between two great nations.
Mr. BARTON (Hunter- Minister for External Affairs). - I do not propose to detain the House very long in replying upon this motion. At the same time one or two things have been said upon which I am compelled to make some brief comment. When such an expression as “ damnable meanness “ is used - whether it is intended to refer to the conduct of the Imperial Government in regard to the war, or to the course to which we invite the assent of the House - I think that the honorable and learned member who used it will be sorry for having done so before long.
– I withdrewit at once.
– If the honorable and learned member withdrew it, I have not another word to say in reference to it. The honorable and learned member dwelt upon this question at some length, and used arguments to which, so far as they refer to the course taken by the Government, it is necessary for me to address myself for a few moments. He said that I had admitted that if it had not been for an article which appeared in a German newspaper this proposal would not have been made. There he misunderstood me. I never said a word of that kind. I pointed out that certain comments had been made in German newspapers before the House adjourned, as we were advised by cable, and that I had since taken steps to verify those comments and had found that they were even worse than they had been described. I said that that was one element which aggravated the situation, and rendered it advisable for this Parliament to show that it repudiated the charges made against our nationality, our good faith, and our honour. My honorable and learned friend has referred to something which has not been disclosed. I do not wish to dwell upon that subject more than to repeat what I said earlier in the evening, namely, that because a despatch is marked “ confidential “ it does not follow that there is anything of very great importance in it, and I tell the House that what is contained in that despatch does not alter the complexion of this matter in any way at all. I ask honorable members to accept my statement, because I have no motive for deceiving them, and I think my word can be taken. Further, I was taken to task for the rashness of the statement which I made in public, that if England asked for a contingent it would be sent. Surely there is enough in that statement to show that the hanging back attributed to me was non-existent. If the honorable and learned member thinks that the mere mention of our readiness to send the contingent if asked for would be sure to evoke a request for one, then I cannot be charged with the very thing which other honorable members are laying at my door. In this connexion I have only to say that it was right, advisable, and necessary for any one at the head of affairs in this country, to lay down distinctly that the Government were perfectly ready to show their loyalty whenever the occasion for it arose. The only difference between the Government and certain honorable members is that, looking at the fact that previous contingents had been asked for, we took the view that the Imperial Government which saw no humiliation in making such a request - as there was no humiliation in it - and which had evinced its readiness to disclose any of its requirements in that direction, would take the same course in regard to the Commonwealth that it had taken in regard to the individual States. We are told that the cry has been raised in England - “What will the colonies say if we do not annex the Transvaal “? But, assuming that that cry has been raised, is it not a true interpretation of the feeling of the whole Commonwealth?
– I say that it is the true interpretation of the feeling of an enormous majority of the people of the Commonwealth. The entire Commonwealth, with very few exceptions indeed, speedily became convinced that this war was undertaken as a means of ousting England from her possessions in South Africa - in which we are interested as members of the Empire - and with a view of setting up a South African Republic which would include Cape Colony and Natal.
Is there not some warrant for saying this. I think I can find some in a passage which I quoted in a speech made on the first despatch of a contingent from New South Wales. It is from Sir Alfred Milner, now Lord Milner, a gentleman who has been made the subject of many attacks, but who, so far as I can see, as a fairly steady reader and observer of these matters, has distinguished himself as a great servant of the Crown and people.
– We can read the same facts out of the ultimatum.
– Sir Alfred Milner said in a despatch before the outbreak of the war-
– To whom sent?
– A despatch to the Imperial Government published in the Blue Book which has been referred to. He said -
A certain section of the press not in the Transvaal only -
And also in Cape Colony - preaches openly and constantly the doctrine of a Republic embracing all South Africa, and Supports it by menacing references to the armaments of the Transvaal, its alliance with the Orange Free State, and the active sympathy which, in case of war, it would receive from a section of HerMajesty’s subjects.
– Was this in 1899, before the war?
– This was in 1899. The despatch proceeds -
I regret to say that this doctrine, supported as it is by a ceaseless stream of malignant lies about the intentions of the British Government - which were supported from the same quarters as the stop-the-war policy is supported from now - is producing a great effect.
Upon whom? “Our Dutch fellowcolonists,” the subjects of Great Britain in Cape Colony and Natal. It was producing a feeling there antagonistic to the maintenance of British rule within British possessions, and not merely within the Transvaal or the Orange River Colony. is producing a great effect upon a large [number of our Dutch fellow colonists. Language is frequently used which seems to imply that the Dutch have some superior right, even in this colony, to their fellow-citizens of British birth. Thousands of men peaceably disposed, and, if left alone, perfectly satisfied with their position as British subjects, are being drawn into disaffection, and there is a corresponding exasperation on the side of the British. I can see nothing which will put a stop to this mischievous propaganda, but some striking proof of the intention of Her Majesty’s Government not to be ousted from its position in South Africa.
That was the condition before the war, diagnosed by as capable an observer and as honest a man as ever stood in that territory.
– A baffled debater.
– “A baffled debater” may be a very sage remark, but I do not see how it touches the truth of Lord Milner’s utterances.
– He went to meet Kruger, and was baffled in debate with him.
– He went to meet Kruger, and he found what it is clear he must have found by what has subsequently transpired, that there was a determination not to come to any agreement at all. He went to meet Kruger, and he found that there was one power ready to come to a reasonable arrangement and the other not ready to come to any except a mockery. I do not wish to go into these matters further, except to come to this point, that a cry has been raised in England - “ What will the colonies say if you do not annex?” Has it not been shown from facts of that kind, and those facts were deduced from the utterances of the proBoer press, that owing to statements of this kind a spirit of disaffection was being created, not in the two territories now conquered or partly conquered, but in the territories in the possession of Great Britain herself in South Africa ? If that was so, is there not truth and justice in the remark of the leader of the Opposition that it is necessary to take steps that will prevent the recurrence of such a war as this ? And what steps can prevent the recurrence of such a wai’ as this after the treatment Britain received in South Africa even long before the war ? What step except annexation can be taken to prevent the recurrence of such a war ? “ What will the colonies say if you do not annex ?” But it must be remembered that the colonies do not run ahead of the the British Empire in this matter. They say “ annex” only because they know that annexation is the only cure, and that good and able management under a just and wise British Government will be better for the Boers just as it has been good for us.
– We know the best physic for them.
– We know that what is good enough for us is good enough for them. One thing we can say is that what is sufficiently liberal and generous to us is sufficiently liberal and generous to them. And, therefore, the approach by such degrees as are safe and just until its perfect attainment to a wise and properautonomous Government in those two territories, is the real remedy, and the only remedy for this state of things, and for the prevention of further disaffection in the dominions of the Crown itself in South Africa. This is to be attained only by beginning with annexation, by proceedingonly to such a form of military Government as is shown to be absolutely necessary for the maintenance of peace, and then afterwards by an approach to those conditions of autonomous Government which we enjoy ourselves. But that this must take place under the British Crown, I venture tosubmit to this House that events haveamply, reiteratedly, and loudly proved. Then we are told that the greatest barrackers of the war are the wealthiest classes, whose pockets do not suffer. I think that members of this House might pay some attention’ to the history of the matter, which shows that the readiness to take part in the defence of the Empire existed not merely in all parts of the Empire here, in the United Kingdom, and elsewhere, but that it existed with a total disregard to wealth or position on the part of the citizens of the Empire. That disregard was shown in every way, and men of enormous fortunes, and men of noble birth, vied with the humblest and the poorest patriot, and flocked to South Africa to defend the British Empire, for it was nothing else but such a defence.
– In Victoria they appropriated shire councils’ funds for the purpose.
– In Victoria they may have appropriated what they pleased, but what I submit is that the honorableand learned member casts a slur, if he will permit me to say so - and I know our relations of friendship will not be weakened’ by anything I say to-night - he casts a slurupon that great, noble, and generous inclination displayed by all classes foi- the defence of the Empire, and which was shown in the most crowded as well as ii>i the most sparsely settled portions of it.
– Was the Empire im trouble before the war ?
– It was after the beginning of the war that most of that wonderful outpouring took place. But what was it for? Because in the earlier stages of thewar the Empire was caught unprepared.
It had to suffer an ultimatum, followed by an invasion for which it was not prepared. It had an insufficiency of troops engaged, and that is why the levies fromGanada and Australia were so much appreciated at the time. At that time the arms of the Empire were suffering reverses, which arose from the fact of its unpreparedness, which again arosefrom the fact of its hating to entertain the idea of war with the republics, unless it was forced into it. That was the position, and it was in that position that this great outpouring of blood of high and low, noble and humble took place. I say that it was the most creditable fact that has ever come out in the history of this Empire, that there was no stint in this matter, neither was there any observance of rank, or degree, or money. Weare asked to steady ourselves for a time,and ask what are we losing in Asia. I am not quite sure about it, but it may perhaps be true that the Empire will not be able to negotiate in Asia with so much success while the Boer war drags on, but it would never have dragged on for so long if it had not been for pro-Boer speeches and pro-Boer papers bribed with gold. It is true that this war has been unduly prolonged, but it has been by means of this kind, infernal in some quarters, and misguided in others.
– Does the right honorable gentleman think that the Boers in the hills will get theFederal Hansard.
– I do not think the Boers will get theFederal Hansard, and I am not at all apprehensive that my honorable and learned friend’s speech is going to prolong the war.If that is what the honorable and learned member means, I think we shall be quite safe in that regard, but it is speeches of that character made in other places, which have prolonged the war.It is the assertion of doctrines of this kind, whichare not fair doctrines when our country is engaged in war, which have led to the prolongation of the war. I would say thisif thespeakerhad been my own brother. We ought torecollect one thing. We may beagainst the institution of a war, and have ourarguments against the policy of it, but once it hastaken place and our nation as a nation is involved in it, it is then our duty to stand by our nation. That, I think, is the only sensibledoctrine for patriots to espouse. I do not wish to say anything more about the remarks of my honorable and learned friend, who I hope will recognise that my criticism is offered inthe friendly spiritthat I feel towards him. We are askedby another honorable member why we propose this motion ; why we do not repel by resolutions aspersions cast by newspapers on our own members, and such matters as theaspersions cast on our troops by Colonel Beatson. There is a difference that every honorable member will see, and it is this:These are matters of our owninternal quarrels, which wehave tofight among ourselves. They bear no relation whatever to the menacing, baseless, and wickedfabrication of charges against us as a nation - for the Empire is. one nation, and ifso much as one quarter of the Empire is attacked so is another, unless we are ready at once to lay down the craven doctrine that we will only support each other when we please.The moment we come to that conclusion we had better burst up thisEmpire, to use the vernacular. Until we come to it we must act as one Empire, and that is what we propose to do. I have been charged with having usurped power on behalf of the Government. That charge, I think, will not hold water. I have taken certain action whilst the House has been in recess.That action had to be taken, and once taken had to be carried intoeffect by corresponding deeds. The only course open to any Ministry was either to have held its handuntil it could meet Parliament, and with the obvious necessity of acceding to this demand, to haveallowed delays to occur - which insuch a caseas this are, if not fatal, atany rate very dangerous - or take action themselves, and,likemen, meet Parliament and say- “ Now, here we are ; we ask you to pronounce judgment upon us, and here are our resolutions.” That is the course we have taken. I am told that I have said that I would not allow recruiting in Australia. What I said was that I wouldnotaccedeto it unless under the authority of the Commonwealth, because the defences of Australia -having passed to us, it was forthe Commonwealth to decide whether recruiting should take place here ornot. All that we have done since we have been a Commonwealth has been, when certainrelays of men have desired to go to South Africa, not to interfere with their libertyas subjects. It is a mistake to say that I refused altogether to allow recruiting. I have maintained the position that recruiting in Australia now demandstheauthority ofthe Commonwealth, and must have that authority if it is totake place. Thatposition I maintain again to-day. ThenIamtold that I am willing toundertake recruiting at Mr. Chamberlain’s request. In matters of this kind we do not knowMr. Chamberlain, if in office, orMr. Morley, if in office, or any one else, asa mere personality, becausewhat we are askedto do is to take action on behalf of the Empire to which we owe our responsibilities and obligations. It matters not to us who the Minister is who makes this request. We ought to have acceded to it, and we have. Of course, there is only one courageous course,and that courageous course is the onlylegitimate one. It is for ourselves, when an emergency of this kind occurs, to take the bull by the horns, decideas one, and come down to the House for an indorsement of our action. Who says we are not asking for an indorsement of our action ? Does the honorable member for Kennedy forget the second paragraph of this motion -
That this House affirms thereadiness of Australia togiveall requisite aid to the mother country in order to bring the present war to an end.
Is thatnot amotion forthe indorsement of what we have done,and, if carried, will it not be an indorsement of our keepingalive to the necessity for furtheraction,subject to thecensure of this. House? It is for the House tocensure us if we do wrong. Weare bound, if we are to be a Government of any courage, toact in anemergency of this kind,and if it is not reasonable or possible to consultParliament at the time,to takeactionand askParliament to indorse it subsequently. Thatis what weare doing.
-Thereis notaword in the motion as to therighteousness of the war.
-That is not necessary. Resolutions were carried two yearsago in every one of theState Parliaments affirming the righteousness and justice ofthiswar. On those resolutions contingentswere sent out. It is unnecessary for us to again indorse thepolicy or the justice of this war, for the reason that there is a majority in favour of the justice of it. That there is a majority in favour of the justice of this war has been proved by the indorse ment of the action of those State Governments whichhave offered troops. That being so,it is not necessary for us to lay down that principle again. If I had thought it was necessary I should have been glad to do so, but it appeared to me that it would be heaping Pelion upon Ossa to referagain to the righteousness of the war. It as a war that has been forced upon theEmpire. It is a just one, and ought only to come to onetermination. The only remaining answer which I have to make to criticism is this : We are told that we ought to have said more specifically that the conclusion we wish the present war to be brought tois a successful conclusion. I do not think we shall have much difference of opinion as to that. When we saywe are ready to send troops to bring the war to a conclusion, that means that we are ready to tender them to bring it to the conclusion for which the troops are offered. Surely we are all confident’ that peace will be given by His Majesty’s Government to those afflicted territoriesas soon as the gift can be made with safety to South Africa and therest of theEmpire ; that they will be governed with a merciful regard for the people who have been so grossly deceived by the rulers who are now happily deposed, and that assoon asthey show their fitness for an autonomous form of government, such as our own, we hope they may obtain and enjoy it in the safe haven of the empire of freedom?
– Is it the wish of the House that I should put this motion in two parts?
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear !
That this House takes its first opportunity, in viewof thedespatch of a FederalContingent to South Africa, to express its indignation at the baseless chargesmadeabroadagainst the honour of thepeopleand the humanity and the valourof the soldiers of the Empire - resolved in the affirmative.
That this House affirms the readiness of Australiato giveall requisite aid to the Mother Country, in order tobring the present war to an end. - put. The House divided.
Majority. … … 40
Question so resolved in the affimative.
– I think that both sides of the House will now heartily join in giving three cheers for King and Empire.
Honorable members then rose in their places and cheered.
Motion (by Mr. Barton) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I think the Prime Minister will oblige a large number of honorablemembers on both sides of the Chamber if he will consent to consider the propriety of giving us some information, to-morrow, if possible, as to the course of business for the remainder of the session.
– I will take the matter into consideration. To-morrow may, perhaps, be too soon to give an intimationas to the course of business for the whole session ; but I shall not delay the announcement beyond a reasonable period.
– Do the Government propose to meet on Mondays?
– It is a question of expediency. I do not want to sit on Mondays unnecessarily ; but if it becomes necessary, in the interests of public business, to do so, I shall ask honorable members to sit on that day. If it does not appear to be necessary, I shall on Fridays move that the House it its rising adjourn until Tuesday.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 1 1.9 p. m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 14 January 1902, viewed 7 November 2016, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1902/19020114_reps_1_7/>.