6th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Landing at the Dardanelles - Rabaul Court Martial - Health of Troops - Recruiting.
– I ask the Assistant Minister of Defence whether he is aware that a statement has appeared to the effect that the Allied Forces, under Sir Ian Hamilton, have landed in the Dardanelles, and whether he has authority for saying that the Australian troops form part of the general’s command?
– Information has been received that a portion of the soldiers who were recently in Egypt has been sent across to the Dardanelles.
– A portion of the Australian force?
-Is the Assistant Minister of Defence aware whether there is any objection to laying on the table of the House the reports of responsible officers made in connexion with the proceedings at Rabaul ? As there is a great deal of mystery surrounding this matter, I do not see why the House should not be placed in full possession of the documents.
– Nearly all the papers in connexion with the case are now in Sydney, having been sent there in order that the inquiry there may be completed.
– Has the Minister seen the report published by the Argus, and written by its special correspondent, stating that many of the men in Egypt have been in bad health, but that not one officer has had to go to the hospital? Does he know whether the statements are true or not?
– The Department has no knowledge of this matter. The reports coming to hand from General Bridges are most satisfactory. The General states that the officers are all in good health, or that most of them are, and they seem to be well satisfied with their conditions.
– I should like the Assistant Minister of Defence to tell us whether recruiting is up to the numbers that can be dealt with by the Department. Is any large number of additional recruits required, and, if so, would it not be possible for public men to arrange week-end recruiting meetings with the view to obtaining, the necessary men ? It is not known to the public what are the requirements of the Commonwealth in this regard; nor is it known to what extent the authorities are prepared to equip and send troops to the seat of war?
– The recruits who are offering themselves to go to the front are very satisfactory in regard to number, and are up to the Government’s requirements.
– Are we to take it that (&he Government are sending recruits to the seat of war as quickly as they can be equipped and got ready? .
– The Government are sending to the seat of war what recruits the’ Imperial authorities require.
– A few weeks ago I sent to the Minister the report of a deputation of fruit growers who pointed out that the quarantine regulations in the United States amount to a practical prohibition of the export of fruit from Australia to that country. Has the Minister taken steps to make any representation in connexion with the matter)
– Representations were made immediately the Government got to hear of this prohibition, but I arn not yet informed of the result. If the honorable member will give notice of his question, I shall be glad to ascertain the exact position.
– I am reported in the proof issue of Hansard, No. 20, page 2422, to have said on the 16th April-
I cao again tell the Committee that the Government are not in favour of a convertible note issue
Three or four sentences further down I am made to say -
There is no danger, . nor is there likely to be any, so long as we have an inconvertible note issue.
I have always stated that we are in favour of a convertible note issue. As a’ matter of fact, the galley proof in which the mistake first occurred was corrected, but, to the regret of the officials .and myself, it was mislaid in the Government Printing Office. I wish honorable members and the country to know that, so far as this Government are concerned, we are not in favour of an inconvertible note issue. We stand by the present issue, which is convertible at all times.
– Will the Prime Minister take steps to have the report of Mr. Elwood Mead, on the Murray Waters Agreement, which is being laid before the Victorian Legislative Assembly by the State Minister of. Agriculture, made a parliamentary paper of this House?
– I shall be glad to do so.
– Can the Assistant Minister of Defence say whether the dredger and steam hopper barge, which were to be sent from Melbourne to Western Australia, have yet left Williamstown, and, if so, what progress they have made towards their destination?
– Dredger No. 19 and steam hopper barge L conder have arrived safely in Adelaide, and, according to the latest report, are to leave Adelaide this afternoon for Fremantle, accompanied by the South Australian lighthouse steamer Musgrave, which is fully equipped .with wireless.
– In view of the very gallant stand taken by the Canadians at the front, where they held on to a position against all the rules of military tactics, will the Prime Minister be good, enough to consider the advisability of sending to the Dominion troops the hearty congratulations of this Parliament and of the people of the Commonwealth?
– The Government has taken advantage of the occasion to communicate to the Canadians, through the Governor-General, felicitations on their courage, endurance, and perseverance, and to express t>he hope that the troops of the other dominions of the Empire will do likewise.
The following papers were presented : -
Inter-State Commission Act -
Inter-State Commission- Tariff Investigation Report.
Ordered to be printed.
Defence Act -
Regulations Amended (Provisional) -
Military Forces - Statutory Rules 1915, No. 44.
Universal Training - Statutory Rules 1915, No. 43.
Dominions Royal Commission (Imperial) - Natural Resources, Trade, and Legislation of certain portions of His Majesty’s Dominions - Minutes of Evidence taken in London in June and July, 1914, and papers laid before the Commission.
Public Service Act-
Regulation Amended - Statutory Rules 1915, No. 51.
– I should like to ask the Minister of Home Affairs whether the stone work in connexion with the extension of the Victoria Barracks is to be carried out by day labour; if so, when will the work be ready? A number of stonemasons are unemployed.
– The stone work, so far as is known at present, will be done by day labour on the job almost immediately.
– Has the AttorneyGeneral had brought under his notice the published statement that some States have declined to allow their railway systems to be used for the purpose of Inter-State trade? Do not the States stand in the position of common carriers in respect of their railways, and if the Government have no constitutional power to deal with any such attitude as that indicated, will they consider the advisability of introducing legislation to confer that power upon them?
– I have not seen the statement to which the honorable member has referred. By the terms in which the Railways Commissioner refers to the matter, it would appear that, so far as Victoria is concerned, the refusal by the Department to carry certain goods was due to a misunderstanding. The Commissioner is reported to have said -
It was never intended that the prohibition order should apply to the Riverina. There has been a misunderstanding somewhere, and steps will be taken at once to revoke the order so far as it has been applied to the Riverina.
I understand, however, that the honorable member’s question has a much wider significance - that he desires to know whether the Railways Commissioners of any State have the right, as common carriers, to refuse to carry goods tendered. I will give the honorable gentleman a matured opinion on that question tomorrow.
– A statement having appeared in the press that the Victorian Government have floated a loan of £2,500,000 in London with great success, I should like the Prime Minister to inform the House whether that loan in any way contravenes the agreement made at the Conference between the Premiers and the Federal Ministers as to borrowing by the States in their relation to the Commonwealth Government? Does this loan invalidate the arrangement by which the States were to do no borrowing on their own account, but to rely on the Commonwealth Government for the raising of any loan in London ? Is the agreement still intact?
– I learn from the press that the Victorian Government have borrowed money in London ; that loan is not in conformity with the agreement entered into by the States with the Commonwealth. I do not think that the loan nullifies that agreement, but I should not expect that we would raise any objection to the States availing themselves of an opportunity to raise money. Nevertheless, they certainly did enter into an agreement not to borrow money in London or in Australia.
– Does that apply to the Norton-Griffiths agreement?
– Yes ; if it comes into operation during the term of agreement. On two occasions I have told the States that we did not consider it our duty to stand in the way of their making a good financial arrangement.
– Was it not part of the arrangement arrived at by the Conference that the States were not to borrow money except for the conversion of existing loans, and were not to compete with the Commonwealth by entering upon the general money market for borrowing? Obviously the object of that was not to embarrass the Federal Government, which was lending the States a large sum of money. Does not the Prime Minister consider it necessary, in the interests of the Commonwealth, to see that that condition, which attached to the lending of that large sum of money, should be enforced?
– I have again and again called the attention of the States to the terms of the agreement which the Premiers signed, but, as the honorable member for Flinders knows, in this matter we are not like private contracting parties. Circumstances may arise in which it would be in the interests of a State and the Commonwealth to relax the terms of that arrangement.
– But should not the States approach you first?
– They have mentioned the matter to me more than once. One of the Premiers broached the subject before he left Melbourne, just after signing the agreement. In the case of another State, immediately the unemployed trouble arose, I was approached on the subject, and on the advice which was available I felt that it was my duty not to hold the States tightly to their agreement. However, the agreement is not set aside, and I never pretended to have any power to set it aside.
– Is it understood that the States may borrow without restriction ?
– What is to prevent them from doing so?
– In my opinion, only their honour.
– Has the attention of the Attorney-General been drawn to the statement in the press, that the Government of New South Wales are prohibiting the free transmission of butter from that State to other States? If so, what action does he propose to take in order to re-establish Inter-State Free Trade ?
– I did see a newspaper statement to the effect that the Attorney-General of Mew South Wales had decided to prohibit the export of butter, but I thought the item had strayed from the humorous column of the paper. The Attorney-General of New South Wales has no powers in regard to export, and I can hardly suppose that his Government would attempt to exercise any. The control of exports is confined exclusively to the Commonwealth.
– Will the Prime Minister inform the House whether Mr. Balsillie’s experiment in rain making was for the purpose of obviating the “little drought”; also, in view of the wide extension of the “little drought,” whether those experiments are likely to bear any fruit?
– I am not a hydrostatic expert. As regards the scientific researches of Mr. Balsillie, there is no gentleman of my acquaintance or reading in whom I place more faith in a matter of this kind. However, the Government decided not to employ him in those experiments” but I shall be glad to hear of his success.
– Has the Minister of Trade and Customs seen the newspaper report of a deputation which waited on him with reference to certain importations of leather, or alleged leather? That report states that the leather-covered furniture - covered with imported leather - in the office of the Minister had been ordered by his predecessor. As a matter of fact, the furniture in the room when I was at the Department was the same as that which was there when I became Minister.
– After the deputation had been heard, it was mentioned that the very chairs on which they had been seated - which, by the way, were not worn as stated - were covered with the imported leather which had been referred to, but I told the deputation that so far as I knew those chairs had been in the Department since the commencement of Federation.
– Before the AttorneyGeneral takes any action having as its object interference with the New South Wales Labour Government in its regulation of prices, will he take into consideration the fact that, in consequence of that regulation, first-class butter is selling at 6d. per lb. less in Sydney than in Melbourne? Will the honorable gentleman, in any action he may take, consider how far it may prejudicially affect the public?
– I am rather at a disadvantage in answering a question in which questions of constitutional law and facts relating to prices of commodities and certain suggested action in regard thereto, involving frightful consequences, are closely associated. I can only say that the Commonwealth is unable to take any official cognisance of the prices of commodities, wholesale or retail. The question of the honorable member, as interpreted to me by the Minister of Trade and Customs, appears to be whether I will most carefully consider the effects of any action proposed to be taken. I certainly shall. As to the powers of the Commonwealth I have no doubt at all as to what these are; and I have already expressed my opinion in regard to their use in reply to a previous question.
– Does the Prime Minister feel at liberty to make available, for the confidential use of members, the later communications that have reached him from the Imperial Government respecting the War Precautions Bill now before Parliament ?
– I must ask the honorable member to put that question on the notice-paper. I should like to look into the whole matter.
– Will the right honorable member hold the Bill back ?
– I do not think that will be necessary. At a later hour of the day I may, perhaps, be able to give the honorable member the information he desires.
– Is the Prime Minister prepared to place a sum of money on the Estimates in order to enable the Postmaster-General to afford some modicum of relief to those mail contractors who are so hardly hit in consequence of the high price of fodder?
– That is a question of policy with which I, as Treasurer, can deal only on a report from the Post master-General. It would not only be a loose, but a dangerous thing to make a promise of the kind suggested until the matter has been reported on by the Minister concerned. I do not wish the matter itself to be compromised by anything I may say.
– Will the right honorable gentleman consult the PostmasterGeneral ?
– A report made by the Postmaster-General to the Cabinet will be considered in the light of the experience of the last year.
– Is the Treasurer aware that in New South Wales, and, I believe, in other States, a great number of graziers are paying more in the way of graduated land tax than they are paying to the State in rent on their leases? A gentleman in the Forbes district is paying £25 a year to the State as rent, and £45 a year to the Commonwealth as land tax.
– I am not aware of all the facts in those cases.
– In the absence of the Minister of External Affairs, I desire to ask the Assistant Minister of Defence whether he noticed a paragraph in today’s newspaper, to the effect that the people of Darwin are complaining of the censorship over news published in their local newspaper. Is there any difference between the censorship imposed at Darwin and the censorship imposed in other parts of the Commonwealth ?
– I know of no distinction, but I shall make inquiries for the honorable member.
Expeditionary Forces : Australian Troops from Egypt.
-I have received an intimation from the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, that he desires to move the adjournment of the House to discuss a definite matter of urgent public importance, viz., “ The condition of, and the treatment meted out to, the soldiers from Egypt, invalided to Australia.”
Five honorable members having risen in their places,
– I know that to many honorable members the matter to which I desire to call attention sinks into insignificance when compared with the mighty events at the seat of war. But armies are made up of units; and it is essential, in the interests of all armies, that the conditions of the units should be considered, so that they may be guaranteed to be in that state of physical fitness so essential to good soldiers. If the men are not treated in a manner that reflects credit, not only on their officers, but on the Government responsible, we cannot expect .to get from them the results we desire. In Victoria - I do not know as to the other States - we are informed that there is a falling off in the number of those who desire to enlist; and the figures have been published in the newspapers. This falling off, I am afraid, will continue when the men who have been returned from Egypt are able to explain to the people in Australia how they were treated when abroad, and how they have been treated since their arrival here. Surely, if men are willing to leave Australia, and possibly sacrifice their lives, it is the duty of the Government, and of the community generally, to see that the treatment meted out to them is such as to create a feeling of satisfaction, and is worthy of a civilized community. If it is not so, we cannot expect our men to be imbued with the ardour we all desire they should display. A terrible indictment is laid against the management of not only the commissariat, but the hospital accommodation in Egypt. It is difficult to understand how this trouble should arise seeing that there is really no fighting in Egypt. What- took place on the Suez Canal was merely an affair of outposts. The Australian camp is close to Cairo and Alexandria, and if the requisite supplies could not be obtained from either of those- cities, they should be procurable without difficulty from Europe, since Britain has command of the seas. Is it not peculiar, then, thatthere should be any cause for these complaints ? Then again, our men have been overworked. This, perhaps, has been due to a desire on the part of the authorities to make them specially fit for the duties that await them. All that is necessary to make them hardy should be done, but surely some discretion ought to be exercised. Why should men who, even in what might be described as extranormal circumstances, would remain physically fit, be subjected to such heavy work as to make them actually . unfit for the very duties for which they enlisted ? I make this charge against those responsible in Egypt for what has occurred. It may also reflect on the Government which I support, but, so far as that is concerned, I care little, believing that action must be taken to remedy these grievances. The fact that we have an abnormal sick list in Egypt reflects great discredit on those in charge there, and we are justified in taking steps to ascertain what has brought it about. When we hear that it is traceable to overwork, under-feeding, and bad feeding, it is surely time that we investigated the whole matter. The men who enlisted for active service should have considerate treatment while in Egypt, and those who have become physically unfit and have consequently had to be returned are also* entitled to consideration at our hands.
– From whom do these complaints come ?
– From men who have returned.
– Not from men still in Egypt ?
– Yes; I, in common with other honorable members, have submitted to the Minister of Defence letters from men in Egypt complaining of the manner in which they have been dealt with there. I admit that many of the members of the Expeditionary Forces in Egypt are satisfied with their lot. They are, for the most part, hardy men, and have made certain provision for themselves. Many of them have been fed fairly well, but they secured better food only by contributions of their own to the camp funds. There must be some reason for the abnormal sick list, representing as it does 10 per cent, or 12 per cent, of the men in Egypt. Will any one say that our troops are more sickly or less sturdy than are those from Europe or Canada ? I, for one, refuse to believe anything of the kind. We are told that those on the sick list at the front comprise only about 3 per cent, of the British Forces, notwithstanding that the men have been engaged in fierce fighting, have been compelled to remain for long stretches in the trenches, and to endure bitterly cold weather. On the other hand, our men in Egypt, who physically are quite the equal of troops from any other part of the British Empire, or of those of the allied nations, have this serious rate of sickness. We who saw them leave, and who know many of them personally, are satisfied that they are quite as fit to fight in Europe as are any of the allied forces. The Government have promised to inquire into the reasons for this abnormal sick list, but we have received no reports on the subject.
– Have the Government promised to remedy the trouble?
– They promised some time ago to look into the matter.
– If that is so, why raise the question here?
– Because the Government have been rather long in making their inquiries, and I feel that it is in the interests of Australia that this grievance should be remedied. If it gets abroad that the men are not properly treated, we cannot hope to maintain at the front the army that we desire to keep there.
– In other words, the honorable member wishes to “flog his joss.”
– The right honorable member is entitled to have his joke, but this is not a joking matter. We have lately had returned to us a number of men, who are full of complaints. I realize that it is human nature to complain, that the right to growl is the Britisher’s prerogative, and that those who volunteer for active service should not expect to be treated as feather-bed soldiers or to be pampered in any way. It will be said, of course, that these men knew when they enlisted that they were entering upon a difficult task, and that they should be prepared to accept hard knocks. But while that is so, we ought not to condone any failure to take reasonable precautions to prevent disabilities such as those under which our men have laboured in Egypt. During the progress of a battle, it may be quite impossible to provide all the hospital accommodation that is desirable, and the commissariat department is sometimes hindered from bringing up supplies exactly when required. In Egypt, however, there has been practically no fighting, and, therefore, I feel justified in bringing these complaints before the
House, and asking for an investigation. There recently returned by the Ulysses several hundred men, most of whom had been invalided home, while others were disciplinary cases.
– Have the Government promised to look into this matter?
– Not into the particular case to which I am about to refer.
– Why not place it before the Minister?
– I am going to place it before the House, because the answers I have received from the Department have not satisfied me. I have before me a typewritten statement, written in the first person, but signed by a number of men who have returned. It would have been signed by dozens of others if the opportunity had offered. I have also letters from many men bearing out the complaints made in this statement as to the treatment to which men have been subjected, both in Egypt and upon their return here. The writersays - 23rd April, 1915.
Sir, - I wish to complain of the treatment meted out to returned convalescent soldiers who returned from Egypt by the s.s. Ulysses on Thursday last. The following is a list of our grievances : Convalescent patients on night previous to disembarkation were sleeping without bedding or covering. A number only had their overcoats.
That was due to the fact that it was thought possible to land the men the night before, with the result that all their bedding was removed. These men, who had been invalided home, were thus left all night on board ship without even such bedding as men physically fit would desire. Surely an incident of that character ought to be looked into, and its recurrence prevented. What is more, those responsible for it, to use a colloquialism, should be made to “ sit up.” The writer continues -
On Friday morning we disembarked about 10 a.m. at Williamstown. Every man was compelled to carry his own kit to the station, and many of the men were not in a fit state to do so. A private, by name of Winepress, was so exhausted at the arrival at the station that two of his comrades had to assist him on to the platform.
And yet this man was expected to carry his swag.
On arrival at Flinders-street station we were relieved of our kit-bags and marched to Army Service Orderly-rooms at rear of St. Kilda
Barracks. Not more than 100 yards in front of us was an escort with fixed bayonets in charge of the disciplinary cases. In rear of us there was also two or more of the armed escort. This treatment we objected to, as we consider it made us appear in the eyes of the public as undesirables. We protested, but no notice was taken of our complaints.
We all know the contumely that has been heaped on men who, for disciplinary reasons, have been returned to Australia. Though we realize that, perhaps, to an extent, they should be excused, we feel a sense of disgust that they could not restrain themselves or do credit to Australia, and that by their action a taint has been cast upon this country. If we feel this disgust, how much more disgust would be felt by those who were compelled to consort with these men on landing. Surely the Defence Department should have recognised the difference in character between the men who were ill and men who had -been disciplined - at any rate, so that the distinction should be apparent to those who witnessed their arrival. I heard the statement that ‘certain people were surprised to see that two men whom they had been informed had been invalided were among the disciplinary cases. These may be matters of detail, but the men who were invalided considered that their characters had been besmirched by their having been subjected to the condemnation that was meted out to the disciplinary cases, and all owing to the lack of forethought on the part of those who supervised the landing. The letter continues -
On our arrival at the Orderly-rooms we were informed that no leave would be granted, and the guard with fixed bayonets was placed around the Orderly-rooms. This we considered as unnecessary, as it was unjust, seeing that many .of us were not more than twenty minutes away from our homes. I myself applied for leave to see my wife and family, stating that I would return at any time they fixed upon. My request was refused.
These nien were invalided, yet they were guarded as if they were something of which Australia had to be ashamed.
Mid-day meal was given to the men. It consisted of one 4-lb. loaf and a tin of “ bully “ beef to eighteen men.
Here, in Australia, eighteen invalids were given a 4-lb. loaf of bread and a tin of “ bully “ beef for their dinner !
The men complained of the short rations, and they .were informed that that was all they had for them, as they did not know of their arrival.
They were in Hobson’s Bay on the day before.
Prior to this the previous two meals, Thursday’s tea and Friday’s breakfast, were short. These two meals we had on the Ulysses. Many of the men complained that they had no breakfast.
On Saturday at 2 p.m. the men were granted leave till the following Monday.
I had ascertained that they were there, and had interested myself in getting them away. There was a sort of examination, and the men were let off on the Saturday. 0
We complained of the manner in which our clothing was taken from us. Many men whose homes were in the country were made to return their uniform, and were given a suit of civilian clothes. This meant that the men had to return to their homes as ordinary citizens. One man who objected to this treatment was placed under arrest and stripped of his uniform.
This may seem a small matter to many, but the impression created by stripping these men of their uniforms would be that they were disciplinary cases sent back to Australia. Australia had been proud to see them leave for the front in their uniforms, each man’s town had been proud of his departure, yet when they wished to return to their towns in those uniforms they were robbed of them; and because they objected one man was subjected to ill-treatment and his uniform was forcibly removed.
The men on being discharged, myself included, were handed discharges showing “ Record of character while on service unavailable.”
Every action of the Department branded these invalided men as disciplinary cases. I have the discharge of a young man whom I have known from his birth, and with whom I have been associated all my life. He is a nephew of the late General Hoad, and was at the South African war. On leaving Egypt he was given complimentary letters from his lieutenant, from his captain, and from his colonel, Colonel Elliot, commanding the 7th Battalion, who wrote a most complimentary letter. His discharge bears on it the words “ medically unfit for service,’.’ and on the back are the words * No record available.” The Defence Department, when it has no desire to be hard on a man who is discharged from service has a system of placing on his discharge the words “ Services are no longer required.” These words are not to a degree condemna-tory, but at the same time their meaning is well known. Here we have the case of a sergeant whose record must have been, according to his officers, good to an unlimited degree, and from whom his colonel, as he writes,’ was sorry to part, and yet when he returns to Australia and seeks for work, he is faced with the words on his discharge, ‘ ‘ No record available.” He was in hospital at Mena, and the authorities knew that he was to be sent to Australia, yet they did not follow the ordinary military usage of sending on his record, so that the authorities here could distinguish between his case and that of a disciplinary case. It is no wonder that these men feel that their position was an undesirable one, not only from their stand-point, but also from the standpoint of an Australian citizen.
We know that in many cages records of our service were retained, as many of us had read our conduct sheets. I, myself, have three testimonials, one from the colonel of my regiment and two from my officers. With such , characters of discharge we believe that many of us will find it difficult in securing employment. Men were discharged who, in our opinion, were medically unfit.
Here is the charge against the Department. When they had no further use for these men, because they were physically unfit to carry on their duties as soldiers they discharged them, and paid them up to the date of discharge only, though they were unfit to earn their living. Such conduct is not conducive towards increasing the enlisting roll. I may be told that I am “ fouling my own nest “ ; but the only method of removing the present grievance is to show the men that while we clamour to send them away, while we urgently desire to see them fighting at the front, we are also determined that when they’ are returned, maimed or ill, they shall be treated as men, and not things. We are brought here to, if possible, make the condition of the men better; but, as a matter of fact, we seem to have been perpetuating the old ideas carried out amongst British people from time immemorial. To continue -
And in the case of Private Nelson it will only mean a short time when this man will get ill again unless operated upon. His complaint was brought on while on service. If necessary, further details regarding our treatment will be readily furnished. I held the rank of sergeant at the inception of the First Expeditionary Force at Broadmeadows. I gained promotion to platoon sergeant whilein Egypt. I have hod many years’ service in connexion with the Commonwealth Military Forces, and served also in the Boer War. There is not a blemish on my character since I have been connected with the Military Forces.
It is not likely that this man is going to destroy his record by making statements of this character, and action was forced on me because I have known him during the wholeof his life. He is a man who would do credit to Australia, and who has the interests of Australia at heart. He would go back to-morrow were he physically fit. When I heard these complaints, I proceeded to the Department. I went over to the barracks, and there I made verbal complaints.
These are the replies I have received -
With reference to your verbal representations yesterday, I am directed to inform you as follows : - Discharge issued to No. 641, Sergeant F. J. S. Hoad, 7th Battalion. This noncommissioned officer was returned as an ordinary invalid, and no papers have been received at head-quarters regarding him. He was shown in divisional orders of 4th March, 1915, as “No longer physically fit for war service.” His papers no doubt will shortly come to hand.
If that man cannot get work because he has not a discharge, it is the duty of this Government to see that he is paid until he can get work. That is a duty we owe to the men who volunteer.
– Was his pay stopped before he was discharged ?
– The men were only paid up to a certain point. But I would like to point out, with regard to Sergeant Williams, that he had only collected 30s. in pay while he was away. When he arrived back he expected to get the money that was due, but the Department had no record showing what he had drawn, and did not know how much he was to get. They gave him £4 on account, but if a man who leaves the whole of his money as deferred pay cannot collect what is due to him until the record is sent for and comes back from Egypt, what position is he in? Another peculiar feature is that, in common with others, he was sent on board immediately before the ship sailed. The commanding officer knew nothing about the men at all, and had no record of what they were returned for. To proceed -
No. 1309, Lance-Sergeant J. Williams, 5th Battalion. The only information . regarding this man at present to hand is contained in a cable from the base depot, Egypt, dated 29th March, 1915, which shows his to be a medical case, and that medical certificates and recommendations for discharging will follow. From his pay-book it appears that this man has been subjected to certain stoppages of pay whilst in Egypt, and it is not apparent what amount is now due to him. In the meantime the sum of £4 has been advanced to him on account.
What sort of a system is that to mete out to these men? With regard to other charges, the departmental reply states -
With reference to your representations to me yesterday regarding treatment of recently returned soldiers, I am directed to inform you as follows in connexion with the several statements which you referred to : -
That on the return of the troops from Egypt they are all marched through the streets together with an armed guard, and the public is unable to distinguish between disciplinary and medical cases-
Here is the sort of sting given by the Defence Department in reply to all these matters. I am not charging Civil Service authorities. This is the reply that comes from the military man when an attempt is made to maintain the principle that men are innocent until they are proved guilty -
It is reported that the troops were brought from the transport in a body, the disciplinary cases being separated from the medical. This was done as a result of the report of the officer commanding the troopship, who stated that the medical cases had given ‘ considerable trouble on the voyage, and proved equally troublesome ashore.
The only trouble these men gave ashore was that they objected to being stripped of their uniform and complained of being locked up. Before the ship arrived, Captain Abbot, the officer in charge of the whole of these men - the ordinary cases, the medical cases, and the disciplinary cases - passed very complimentary remarks upon their behaviour on board, stating that they had given no trouble at all. This reply ought to have been referred “to Captain Abbot, who could not have made one statement on the ship complimenting the men upon their behaviour while aboard, and then have reported to the Defence Department that they had proved troublesome on the voyage. As a matter of fact, all those on board the ship tell me that they were surprised at the general bearing of the disciplinary cases.
An Honorable Member. - Is it true that the men complimented Captain Abbot?
– Yes, the men complimented the captain, and he complimented them. As a matter of fact, I think that they must have been a very happy family on board. No trouble was experienced in getting disciplinary cases to carry on the ordinary fatigue duties of the ship, and I object strongly to this style of comment on the part of either naval or military people when any question of discipline is ‘put before them. As to the food -
It appears that there was great uncertainty as to the time that the troops would arrive, and on this account it was considered inadvisable to prepare cooked rations. The menarrived there at 1.30 p.m., and for their lunch were served with tinned beef. For their subsequent meals they were provided with ordinary rations, including fresh meat.
I want to ask if there can be any excuse in this matter. The Department knew that these men were to be landed the day before. They must have been communicated with, and they must have known the men were on the way, and yet they made no preparation to give them an ordinary civilized meal when they came ashore.
– The honorable member’s time has now expired.
– Can I move that the honorable member bc granted a further hearing ?
– I would like to point out to the House that only a limited time is available for this discussion. A certain time was occupied in questions, and the debate must close at 5 o’clock. If the honorable member continues for another quarter of an hour there will only be three-quarters of an. hour for other honorable members who may wish to speak. Is it the pleasure, of the House that the honorable gentleman, be further heard ?
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear!
– Do I understand the complaint ia that these men had tinned meat for one meal instead of fresh meat?
– Yes, “bully” beef is scarcely fit food for invalids.
– I have had it many a time, and I think I look well on it.
– The Departmentthought fit to invalid these men home, and that being so, I doubt whether any one can justify the “ bully “ beef, but I would point out that what was supplied was one tin of “ bully “ beef and one 4-lb. loaf for eighteen men who had not had any breakfast. The statement is further made -
Although the men were returned as medical’ cases, they were on arrival fit for duty and’ return to camp.
Here then is the basis of another charge which may be made against the Department, or those responsible in this matter. I suppose it may be estimated that from the time these men were enlisted, trained here, sent over to Egypt, trained there, and brought back, they must have cost the Commonwealth between £500 and £600 each. Yet there is evidence that amongst those who were returned there were many whose services could have been utilized in Egypt. For instance, there are many men in Egypt physically fit, who are acting as cooks and performing various depot duties. They could have been taken into the ranks, and many of the men who have been returned could have taken their places in the performance of various depot duties. They might have been given work to do in Egypt, which they could have done while they were recuperating, and they would have become physically fit there, and able to go to the front. That must be clear from the admission that when they arrived here they were physically fit for duty. I have still another complaint to make concerning some men who were returned here as suffering from venereal complaints. One of these men has been discharged, and it has been admitted that he had not the complaint. There are three others who swear that they never had it, and are prepared to submit themselves to examination by a doctor who is not in the service. If it was possible for the medical officers responsible to make a mistake in the case of one man who was said to be suffering from a venereal complaint, it is possible that a similar mistake has been made in other cases. Surely medical science has sufficiently advanced in these days to enable doctors to be able to say whether a man is really suffering from a venereal complaint or not ! I have seen the certificateof one of these men by a doctor here to the effect that he is not suffering from the complaint. I was afraid to take charge of the certificate for fear that I might lose it, and it might subsequently be required as evidence, but I have seen it. There are three other men who claim to be equally free from the disease. The first of these men was a man called Hughes. When returned here he was sent to the camp at Langwarrin. I am not prepared to be too hard on the men said to be suffering from venereal disease, because the disease is often escaped more by good luck than by good management. Still it is a fact that men who are not suffering from the disease object to be placed in an establishment where it is understood that only men suffering from the disease are confined. Very often men will deny that they are suffering from this disease, but they will scarcely do so unless they feel that they are able to prove their statements.
– How many of these men were returned ?
– I am referring to four, one of whomhas since been discharged, because it has been shown that hehas not the disease, whilst the three others make the claim that they have not had it. It should be remembered that it is impossible to induce military or naval officers to admit that they have done anything wrong. Once they make a statement they will stick to it by hook or by crook. The matters to which I have directed attention demand an investigation, and one not conducted by military officers. No military investigation into the cases of these men who have been returned will satisfy me. I should still say that the report would be coloured, because it is impossible to induce military or naval officers to admit that they have made a mistake.
– That is a very serious allegation against the officers.
– I am aware that it is, but it is based upon experience.
– The honorable member implies that there are no honorable men amongst the officers.
– I make the statement with a full sense of its seriousness. It has passed as a saying in the Army and Navy for generations that in both the Army and Navy the man is never right, the non-commissioned officer is seldom right, and the officer is never wrong. In the case of the men to whom I have referred to-day, we have the fact that the day before they were landed, the officer commanding them complimented them upon their behaviour during the voyage. I say that these cases should be investigated, not by military officers, but by some one who will be actuated only by a desire to see justice done. The charges made are specific find definite, and it is evident that many of the men should never have been brought back, because they could have been given duties to perform in Egypt until they became physically fit, whilst others who are not physically fit have been cast upon the world to earn a living as they best can after volunteering to fight in the interests of the country.
– The Defence Department and the Assistant Minister are entitled to the sympathy and encouragement of the House, in view of - the gigantic task they were called upon to perform in the appalling emergency which has arisen. I feel sure that every effort in that direction will willingly be made by the House generally. We have a common national duty in that regard, and a common anxiety to help. I feel, therefore, that, so far as personal grievances are concerned, we should be very chary about encouraging their ventilation in this House. Such a practice might result in interference with discipline, which is so essential to the efficiency of our Forces. I feel that the Minister is sufficiently cognisant of the responsibility imposed upon him in regard to personal grievances, where they are circumstantially supported, as these cases have been by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, to give them promptly the most searching and exhaustive investigation. The Minister should be given the opportunity to make such an investigation of these grievances upon statements privately laid before him by honorable members. We cannot too strongly urge the undesirability of making Parliament the arena for the discussion of these grievances. After all, these charges are of an ex parte character. There may be substance in them, or there may not. If there is substance in them, the fact will be ascertained by the Ministerial investigation to which I have referred. But when such complaints are brought up in public in this way, they involve serious charges against responsible officers, who may thus be subjected to a great injustice. The task which was undertaken by the Department on the outbreak of war was not only of magnitude, but it had to be attended to with the utmost expedition. The Department was unprepared for the emergency, but, nevertheless, they made a fine effort to cope with it. Fault-finding was easily resorted to, and necessarily there was room at first for much faultfinding and complaint. But, speaking broadly and generally, I do think that the Department’ has proved itself equal to the emergency, and is entitled to the utmost credit for what has been done. It was an extraordinary emergency, and, as regards the equipment of the Forces that have already been sent away, I think the response of the manufacturers and others concerned, and the devotion generally of the responsible officers to their duty, are deserving of the highest praise. The fact remains, however, that after the departmental officers have had at least six or seven months’ experience in administration, we have a’ right to expect greater efficiency and less room for complaint. That much room for complaint exists at the present time cannot be denied. Every man about town hears of many cases which appear to be cases of unnecessary hardship. If there be a tithe of justification for the complaints which are constantly heard regarding the administration at Broadmeadows camp, particularly as to the arrangements for treatment of the sick, the position there does not reflect very much credit upon those who are responsible for its management. I hope that these complaints are not warranted, but the Assistant Minister of Defence cannot ignore their gravity. I have never brought before this House complaints of any description, although I have been the recipient of them daily. But some of these complaints are of such a character that my honorable friend should direct a very close attention to the management of our Forces at Broadmeadows. I do not say for a moment that the complaints are well known to the responsible officers in charge of that camp. But it is urged that neglect lies at the door of the management of the Broadmeadows camp by reason of the existing hospital arrangements and of the inadequate attention which is devoted to the sick. These general statements are of such a character as to warrant investigation, particularly in regard to the manner in which sick patients are being treated. I am told that there is an abnormal amount of illness at the camp - why, I am at a loss to know.- That circumstance, in itself, is a reflection upon its administration, and the allegations which should either be refuted or their causes amended. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports has referred to the troops in Egypt, and I must say that some grave statements are being made regarding the management of affairs there. It is only fair to
Bay that my own son and son-in-law were there - if they are not there now - and I have never, directly or indirectly, received a word of complaint from them.
– I have a son there, and I have never heard a whisper of complaint.
– Yet we cannot ignore the allegations which are constantly being made in such a circumstantial form.
– Is the honorable member’s son-in-law among the rank and file, or amongst the officers,?
– My son is a full private, and my son-in-law is an officer, so that I should be in a position to hear something on both sides of this question. Only on Monday last a responsible newspaper like the Argus, in an article by its special reporter, made some very serious allegations respecting our Expeditionary Forces in Egypt - allegations which can be readily confirmed or refuted. I do not propose to enter into details of these charges. One statement was that 2,500 Australians were simultaneously on sick leave. Another was that 1,200 Australians were lying ill at Heliopolis. Seeing that these statements are direct charges, circumstantially stated and not cloaked in any way, and that their accuracy* can be either confirmed or refuted without much trouble, I say that it is not likely they would be made if they could not be substantiated. We have been told, too, that the cases of pneumonia amongst the men represent 70 per cent, of the cases of sickness.
– And they are amongst the mon - not amongst the officers. The former get inferior food.
– The newspaper to which I have already referred has contrasted the conditions which obtain amongst the men with those which obtain amongst the officers. These statements are of such a serious character, and reflect so gravely upon the administration of our Forces in Egypt, that they cannot be overlooked. Other direct allegations have been made, not only as to the insufficiency of the food, but as to its inferior quality. I regret that I have to repeat them on the floor of this chamber. 0I do hope that a most exhaustive investigation will.be made with a view to determining the truth or otherwise of these statements. Personally, I know nothing of them, but I cannot ignore re ports which are so circumstantially stated when the material for their confirmation, or refutation is so readily obtainable. I am sure that the Assistant Minister of Defence will, credit me with having refrained from uttering an ungenerous word, either against him or the Defence Department. But this is a question in which the whole community is interested. With other public men I have recently been engaged, night after night, in endeavouring to encourage the youth of this country to realize their responsibilities by joining the colours in the defence of the Empire. But if charges of this character are brought under the notice of the youth of the community, I recognise that enlisting will be discouraged, and that the success of our recruiting efforts will be seriously menaced. If Australia does not provide her fair proportion of troops to take part in the titanic struggle which is now being waged in Europe, it will be a serious reflection upon her national escutcheon. Speaking, therefore, in the broadest possible spirit, I commend my remarks to the attention of the Assistant Minister, and hope that, to the credit of the military administration, they will receive immediate attention, so that there may be no room for complaint in the future.
– I am sorry that the honorable member has brought up this subject in the House, because I do not know that it will have a tendency to improve matters.
– Now, do not say that because I did that, the Department will get stubborn, and will not give the matter consideration.
– I am not suggesting that. We all have sufficient confidence in the Minister of Defence, Senator Pearce, to know that he will do everything possible to maintain the good name of the Australian troops.
– Now, do not ask me to say anything nasty about the Department.
– If the honorable member suggests that the Government will do nothing because he has brought the matter up, it is useless for me to attempt to give him any assurance.
– My experience is that it is very hard indeed to get satisfaction from the Department, and I know others have had the same experience. It has been very hard for me to get pay for the wives of men who have been sent away.
– The honorable member must not overlook the fact that there are thousands and thousands of cases to be dealt with.
– But why add insult to injury, as has been done in some cases?
– I can assure the honorable member that the Defence Departmenthas done everything possible in order to comply with the request of the women of Australia who are in such a position because their husbands have gone to the front. In many cases, the difficulties have been due to the fact that the men signed on as single men, and thus left their wives and children unprotected. Those cases, however, are being inquired into.
– Will you inquire into these cases’!
– Does the honorable member suggest that the Department has no feeling for these men ? There is no foundation whatever for such a statement as that.
– There seems to be very little feeling. We want a Cromwell amongst the departmental officials to clear them out, root and branch.
– In his statement, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports said that several venereal cases were among those who were invalided from Egypt.
– I think he said four cases.
– No; he said that four had complained that they were classed as venereal cases, but did not have the disease at all, while others were medical cases unfit to go to the front.
– But why are they discharged here when they cannot earn their living ?
– If the honorable member will only have a little patience he will understand the position better. My reply to his interjection is that the Department is inquiring into their cases, and that those who have been returned through no fault of their own, but merely because they were medically unfit, will come under the War Pensions Act. The honorable member will see, therefore, that we are making provision for them.
– Let us hope so; but they have had no information of that kind, at any rate.
– If the honorable member had asked the Minister of Defence, that information would have been given to him.
– Now do not makeme say anything nasty about the Department. Do not tell me that, because it is not true.
– Order ! Order!
– The Minister of Defence had never yet redressed any wrong.
– I want to say further that those men returned as venereal cases will not get a pension even when they are discharged.
– I am not asking for that.
– The honorable member says that men returned as unfit have been discharged, and thrown on the world as if the Department did not care for them, but I have shown we have made provision for such cases.
– The men have not been told that, then. They are puzzled, and get no information.
– All the venereal cases returned from Egypt are sent out to Langwarrin. The pay of those men has been stopped already; but they are being treated, and will not be allowed to go until they are fit to associate with the general community again.
– What I am complaining about is that some men were sent there, and theydid not have the disease at all.
– If there are such cases they will be fully inquired into, and I will see that justice is done to the men. The medically unfit cases are sent to the Police Hospital on the St. Kilda-road, and their pay will continue until they are discharged. It has not been stopped on their arrival in Australia at all.
– You have already discharged some men who are medically unfit.
– Their case will be inquired into with regard to the pension.
– But what method have they of bringing that matter before the Department?
– All that is required of them is that they make application to the War Pensions Board, and their case will be considered at once.
– They will do that.
– The convalescent cases returned to Australia are sent to Osborne House, Geelong, and those men will be paid until they are discharged. If upon their discharge they are able to go into the world and earn their own living, of course they will not get the pension. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports has complained of the lack of information obtainable from the Defence Department about these men, and I want to say straight away that it is almost impossible to get communications through to the Defence Department by the same boat en which the soldiers return from Egypt to Australia. It takes a few days before the correspondence comes along, and yet the honorable member condemns the Defence Department because the information about the men is not at hand. The honorable member has been informed by the Department that as soon as the correspondence comes along, these soldiers will be notified, and if there is anything owing to them they will be duly paid.
– Have they the records? How do they know what is to come to the men?
– The records will be forthcoming in every instance. If the honorable member for Melbourne Ports will think a little-
– You have to think blooming hard for the Department.
– I am putting our side of the case to the honorable member, and I think it is a reasonable attitude for the Department to take up. We cannot decide any case which is invalided back here until we have the correspondence dealing with it. I have heard of warehousemen who have had goods landed in Australia for two or three weeks, though they had not received the invoices to enable them to get the goods out of bond. Is the honorable member condemning that system ?
– Yes; it is bad business.
– It is the same thing with the Department. The honorable member complained about four men who are supposed to have had venereal disease, but who say that they never had it. If he will give me their names, I will have the men submitted to examination by the best medical authorities in Melbourne.
– They have already given one of the men a clean certificate.
– If it can be proved that the men were not subjects of venereal disease, I am sure that the Defence Department will be the first to recognise the fact, and treat the men fairly. But as against that, it should be remembered that we are sending very many medical men to the front. They have all passed examination and received diplomas; and are honorable members to get up here and admit that the men we have sent to the front as medical men are not qualified to diagnose a case? If I adopted the view of my honorable friend, I should have to admit that we have sent away medical men who are unfit for the positions they hold. Am I going to admit that?
– When other medical men differ from their diagnosis, what then ?
– Until I am assured that our medical men are wrong, I am not going to admit that these four cases have been diagnosed improperly.
– That is fair: I will give the names to you. I have given one already.
– The honorable member quoted a letter he had received from the Defence Department. The very fact that the Secretary to the Department has supplied the honorable member with certain information goes to show that we are not attempting to hide anything.
– You charged the men with being disorderly, and the officers say that they are not.
– That letter says that the captain reported the men, and if ho reported them, it was our duty to inform the honorable member if he had asked for information.
– The captain previously complimented the whole of them.
– There is another aspect of the case. We have sent Australian soldiers to the front. Thousands of them have been in Egypt for some months, and under severe training. The honorable member has complained that, in some instances, men have been worked too hard.
– Overworked and underfed.
– We have a high officer in command there, General Bridges, who is doing everything possible for the men. The news we get fromthat gentleman as regards the way in which everything is being carried out is encouraging to the Department.
– The officers are all right.
– I would remind the honorable member that there is also in Egypt an Imperial officer to look into everything with a view to Imperial action.
– All right. I. have been in a military camp, but the honorable member has not.
– The Imperial officer is General Birdwood.
– No officers die of pneumonia; not one.
– The honorable member has brought up the question of pneumonia. The treatment which the cases of pneumonia at Broadmeadows - and there have been many cases - have received from the medical gentlemen shows a less percentage of deaths than has occurred outside of the camp from that disease.
– As they are the most physically fit men in Australia the percentage of deaths ought to be less.
– Which goes to show that the treatment of the cases by the medical gentlemen has been satisfactory.
– We have the cream of Australia in the camp.
– What has the honorable member to growl about? If I tell him, as I do, that the percentage of deaths under military treatment is less than the percentage of deaths outside of the camp, what can he charge the Defence Department with?
– The percentage of deaths outside ought to be more, seeing that we have the cream of physical fitness at the camp.
– If that is what the honorable member admits, I almost feel that I might resume my seat, as there is nothing further for me to answer.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Let the Minister continue.
– I do not desire an extension of my time.
.- The Minister who has just resumed his seat has given an indorsement to the services of the medical officers with the .Expeditionary Forces. He is quite right. I am not inclined to blame Ministers. I suppose that they are doing all they possibly can. At the same time, there is no need to defend the medical men if they are not doing the correct thing. To show the sort of medical men at the front, let me cite a case. A doctor started to experiment with a man. He commenced on one side, and cut the man up for gall-stones, and when he found that the man had not that complaint, he wanted to start on the other side. The man said, “ You are not going to have a post-mortem on me until I am dead.” That is the type of medical man we have sent to the front. What answer has been given to the statement made in the Argus the other day in connexion with numerous cases of pneumonia in Egypt? It is not necessary to weigh pros and cons in the matter. When our men were taken over by the Imperial officer, General Birdwood, he said that they Vere completely overworked, being sent out at 5 in the morning, coming back at night, lushing for their food, many being unable to get it, and then lying down physically exhausted. Some of the men died in a couple of hours after they came back to the camp. The Imperial officer said the Australian soldiers were completely overworked. Nothing has been said either about the charges made in connexion with the men who returned from Egypt. On their arrival at Fremantle a wireless message was sent to Melbourne, but the authorities did not know who the men were or where they had come from. When the men went to get their discharges, they were told that the necessary information had not come through. The authorities can find money to pay the men off; they know how much money is coming to them; they know how much the men drew in Egypt and on the return trip, but they do not know anything about their characters. That is sheer bunkum and indolence on the part of officials. The duty of the Minister is not to applaud the conduct of such men, but to condemn it at all hazards. The duty of the Minister, I take it, is not to support wrong-doing, but, when he finds it out, to hit the wrong-doer pretty hard. Is it not a fact that on the arrival of these men their blankets were taken from them, and they were left to sleep in their clothes all night ? Here are a few accusations which want to be answered. These men were returned, but were left to sleep without their blankets, which were taken from them. They were left to sleep in their clothes. That is either true or false.
– Where did this happen ?
– In Australia. It has never been denied. It is an admitted fact that men were left to sleep all night in their own clothes. Who was responsible for that situation? The man who did that thing ought no longer to be left in the position he occupies. Is not that sound logic ? Is it not justice ? Is it not common sense? If I were the Minister of Defence, I would take that man and say to him, “ Are you the individual who was responsible for that thing? The custody of no man’s life shall be left in your hands in the future. Out of your position you shall go.” Again, men were taken down to the barracks in Coventrystreet, and although there was nothing against them, they were not permitted to go out, while undesirables were allowed to go up and down Bourke-street, parading their uniforms. I refer to men of good character, with not a word or a mark against their names, who were detained at the barracks all night, deprived of their blankets, and compelled to sleep in their clothes. The men were kept there without proper provision being made; and there would have been no escape had not some of them violated the regulations, scaled the fence, and informed the honorable member for Melbourne Ports of their treatment. That is how the matter became public, and the men got their liberty. The next step was to take the men out of the barracks in shoddy clothes. Men who had been returned on the ground of sickness were not permitted to wear their uniforms. How natural for a man to say, “ I would like to go home in my uniform.” At least, these men should have been allowed to put on their own clothes. But the authorities said, “ No. Here are some clothes that we want you to put on. Off your uniform must go.” Those who refused to submit to this ignominy were stripped, even the very underclothing that their wives had brought them being taken from them. If that is not an outrage, I should like to know what is. Who are the men responsible for these happenings? Those who are responsible should be retained in their positions no longer. It is the duty of the Crown to ask them, “ Did you authorize these things to be done?” I wish now to refer to complaints coming not directly from men at the front, but embodied in re ports by the correspondents of the Tory journals of this city, who tell us that the Australian army is being decimated, not by the bullets of the enemy, but by disease, and notably by pneumonia. We are told that the officers do not suffer from this disease, and while shiploads of the rank and file are being returned, no officers have been sent back. Are officers immune to sickness? Is there something in ‘their constitution which makes them unassailable by disease? In describing the pleasures of the troops, the correspondents tell us that one place is reserved for officers and another for privates. When the officers have anything the matter with them, they are kept at the front, drawing their allowances, . and hobbling about on crutches. They can suffer from venereal disease, or have anything at all the matter with them, and the whole force of officialdom is used to maintain them in their positions, and to cover up the true state of affairs. We are told that all the immorality, all the disease, is to be found among the rankers. No officer is immoral, or yields to the temptations of the flesh. No officer hankers after women, or touches what is not his. Why are the men coming back by the hundred, stricken down with pneumonia? Because they are overworked to the point of exhaustion, and are underfed. It is the duty of the Government to call upon the officers to disprove the allegations that have been made, and, if they cannot do so, to make them resign their positions. So far, there has been no answer to the questions asked by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. When the War Precautions Bill is brought forward, I shall have something to say on another interesting phase of this subject.
Question resolved in the negative.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Other persons are not encouraged to deposit with the Savings Bank Department in London, and several suggestions that the Bank should receive deposits from the public throughout Great Britain have been declined “ ?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Assistant
Minister, representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
WHAT “DISCIPLINARY” MEANS.
Melbourne, Saturday. - The Minister for Defence explained to-day that the fact that a returned soldier’s name appeared in a list of “ disciplinary “ cases did not reflect upon his moral character. If an officer reported a man physically unfit for service, that was a “ disciplinary “ case. Private F. Logan, of 2nd Reinforcements, 7th Battalion (Victoria), had been returned according to list as “ not likely to become efficient.” That did not imply that he was of bad character. It has been stated that Private Logan was kicked on the head by a horse, causing concussion of the brain. The effect was to render him unfit for active service?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
As the Prime Minister has informed the House that he has not been asked by the Government of Western Australia to negotiate a loan so as to provide funds for the construction of the railway fromFremantle to Kalgoorlie on the 4-feet 8½-inch gauge, and that no correspondence had taken place on the subject, will he inform the House what was the foundation for the statement made by him on 14th inst., that “ there are reasons to believe that the same gauge from Kalgoorlie to Perth will be in existence before the railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie is completed?
– I relied on my experience of the Premier of Western Australia and his colleagues for the opinion that they would carry out the work referred to in accordance with the promise made when the east-west railway was undertaken by the Commonwealth.
asked the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
The Director of Naval Works replied, calling attention to previous instructions as to employment of the general foreman, which set out work of a general character upon which he could be employed.
asked the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Fines: Shortage of Provisions: Sale of Gifts
asked the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Whether he can tell the House what is done with the amounts represented by the fines which are from time to time imposed by officers on members of the Expeditionary Forces at Broadmeadows ?
– They are paid into Commonwealth revenue.
asked the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Mr. R. M. McC. ANDERSON.
Mr. GREENE (for Mr Gregory) asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
If he will lay upon the Library table all the papers relating to the appointment of Mr. McAnderson at £7 7s. per day plus travelling expenses, and also the reports (if any) of Treasury and Audit officials recommending any such appointment?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is -
Yes. The gentleman’s name is Mr. R. M. McC. Anderson. There are no reports by Treasury or Audit officers. The appointment was decided upon by Cabinet.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Will he place on the table of the House a statement showing -
The total estimated revenue and expenditure for 1914-15 for the Northern Territory?
The debt on the Northern Territory including that on the Port Augusta to Oodnadatta railway and the interest payable for 1914-15?
The revenue and expenditure on the Port Augusta to Oodnadatta railway and the estimated loss on the maintenance and working of the railway for 1914-15?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act to amend the Judiciary Act 1903-1914.
Bill presented, and (on motion by Mr. Hughes) read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act to amend the High Court Procedure Act1903.
Bill presented, and (on motion by Mr. Hughes) read a first time.
Debate resumed from 23rd April (vide page 2636), of motion by Mr. Jensen -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
.- During the week-end I have had an opportunity to read the Bill, and have also had conversations with Ministers, which enable me to know what is in the mind of the Government so far as this measure is concerned. The Ministry must be very careful how it hands over the civil rights of the people to military control and the judgments of courts martial. This Bill is giving over to the military authorities of the country the rights of the people. Those who have read the early history of Australia know that when the military power ruled this country there was nothing but stagnation and tyranny, and it was only when civil Courts were established, and people were no longer at the mercy of the courts martial that there was any progress. I cannot for the life of me understand why a person charged under this measure cannot be tried in a civil Court. We are a civilized community, with the whole machinery of the law ready to be put into operation at any moment, yet this Bill proposes to take certain civil offenders away from the civil Courts and hand them over to a military Court which is given power to impose the sentence of death. To my mind, that is giving altogether too much power to the military authorities. I can understand them having that power on the field of battle, where they have to deal with large bodies of men, but not in Australia, where we are surrounded by all the machinery of the civil law. I desire to know what is in the minds of the Government that they should desire to take away the civil rights of any individual and hand them over to a military Court. I object to this Bill because of that proposal, but I have also another ground of objection. The measure gives to the GovernorGeneral power to issue regulations, which means that the Bill itself may be carried out by regulation. The Executive may make any regulation they choose, and if this House is not in session, the government of the country under this law may be carried out under the military authorities by regulation. That is a very great power to confer. Already we are too much governed by regulation. When we, as members of Parliament, open our correspondence, we receive piles of regulations from this Department and that Department, and it is impossible for any one of us to know the whole of the regulations, and the extent to which the country is being governed by that means. To now propose to give to the Governor-General further powers of issuing regulations in connexion with the administration of this Bill is simply to further increase the objectionable policy of government by regulation. I have the utmost confidence in the present Ministry; I believe they will work thoroughly and well, and do their best for the country, but we, as members of Parliament, are the elect of the people, and are responsible for seeing that their liberties are not filched away and handed over to the military power. I desire the Minister to tell the House whether this Bill is to be made retrospective. If it is, that very fact is an indication that the courts martial have failed, and that further power is sought to do thoroughly that work which was not properly done in the first place. I am opposed to any retrospective legislation. I believe there are some good clauses in the Bill, and I understand that it is designed to tighten up our laws in order to protect the Commonwealth from the common enemy, but there is a great danger of giving too great a power to the military Courts. A man may visit a camp, and having seen something of which he did not approve write to the press, or make a speech on the subject. In that way he might do something which would have the effect of belittling the military administration, and he could be seized under this Bill and sentenced by court martial.
– That could be done only by the Executive,
– I have already said that I have the utmost confidence in the Government, but no man can do thoroughly the work which falls upon a Minister of Defence if he has all the details to attend to. I notice that it is proposed that the Naval Board and the Military Board shall act in conjunction with the Minister of Defence, but in nineteen cases out of twenty the Minister will take the word of the men who advise him.
– It is not a question for the Minister of Defence, but for the Executive.
– It is extremely likely that Cabinet, not knowing anything of the circumstances, will approve of any recommendation by the Minister of Defence. That is the danger, and we have no right to put that responsibility upon the Ministry or the Executive. The civil Courts should be clothed with power to deal with all actions against civilians that may arise out of the passing of this Bill. Another reason why I am loth to agree to this Bill is that we are handing away the right of trial by jury, which is the keystone of the liberties contained in Magna Charta. Further than that, I see no necessity for these extreme powers. We have control of the Pacific and the whole of the wireless stations, and the postal, telephone, and telegraphic services are under the ad ministration of the Commonwealth Government, so that Australia is perfectly safe.
– Suppose a man cut the cable and prevented us from obtaining news in regard to a threatened invasion; do you not think that he would deserve to die without further delay?
– I have no wish to prejudge any man. I believe the civil Courts of the country are sufficiently powerful to impose sentence of death on any such offender, and that we do not require to erect a new Court to deal with a case of that kind. Does the AttorneyGeneral wish us to believe that the civil Courts axe not qualified to deal with a case such as he has supposed ?
– I certainly think that they are not qualified. The time that should elapse between the commission of that offence and the death of the offender should be not more than a quarter of an hour.
– Not knowing what is in the Attorney-General’s mind, I am not prepared to hand over to the military authorities the right of civilians to be tried by a civil Court.
– The military authorities cannot prevent him from having a civil trial.
– The civilian can ask for a civil trial.
– And he can get it.
– Another feature of these prosecutions is that the onus of proof is thrown on the accused person. I know a man who was employed by the telephone branch in the undergrounding of wires, and who was arrested on suspicion of being a German. No evidence against him was discovered, yet that man suffered the indignity of detention, and lost his job.
– Was that a court martial?
– No. I do not know what would have happened had he been dealt with by court martial. I will be pleased to hear the Minister’s explanation of these provisions. There are many tilings in the Bill of which I approve, but I object to handing over to the military power the right to try civilians by court martial and pass sentence of death upon them ; and I also object to the GovernorGeneral having power to frame regulations of which honorable members may not be aware if Parliament should not be in session.
.- Whilst honorable members on this side who spoke on the original measure last year said they were prepared to -give every reasonable power to the Executive, I think we would be guilty of a dereliction of duty if we did not try to examine the scope and meaning of the various measures as they are submitted to us. When the original measure was introduced, I asked the Attorney-General particularly to give us some assurance that the administration would be very careful and vigilant, so that our dearest rights as British subjects would not through any inadvertence be put in jeopardy. I am not sure that there has been such a strict attention to the administration of the Act as to make us feel that we have that security in the administration of the law which would induce us to trust the authorities with greater power. It seems to me as if the draftsman, when he prepared this Bill, was unaware of what legislation had been passed in England, and the objections which have been taken to it, both by men competent to speak as lawyers, and by, I think I may say, the dispassionate press in the United Kingdom. If necessary, I could quote a good many expressions of opinion from the leading weekly journals in England on the extraordinary scope of the measure, and the administration in some cases, not very many, by the military officers. It is very difficult to explain a measure of this character, because almost each clause involves a very careful interpretation. There are a great many possible developments under the generalization, and each particular phrase covers more than one could, on the spur of the moment, suggest; but as the clauses come forward for administration it may be discovered that the scope is much wider than was intended by the Attorney-General, who is responsible for the drafting, or by Parliament, which sanctioned the measure. When looking through the Bill and the existing legislation yesterday,- I endeavoured to reduce to some heads what is possible under this law, but I had to abandon the task almost in despair. Of course, under the original measure any citizen may be tried by court martial for any offence. I will deal with the regulations later, because they are the main matters to be considered. I may say that it was only after the introduction of the original of this
Bill in another place that the Minister of Defence discovered that he was introducing a measure that had been passed through the Imperial Parliament in November last, and at the time strongly condemned.
– Are you alluding to this Bill ?
– To this Bill. I think I am right in saying that the second war Bill introduced was for consolidating the Defence of the Realm Bill, a copy of which I have not been able to obtain, but the main provisions, at least, of which I have read in the English press. I think that the measure, when introduced into this Parliament, was practically a copy of the consolidating Defence of the Realm Act, which was criticised in the House of Lords on the 27th or 28th November last year.
– It was greatly altered in the House of Lords, I think.
– No; but I shall tell honorable members in a moment what was done. It was amended on the 27th February by a Bill to which I shall refer. That amending “measure does not seem to have come under the notice of the Attorney-General, because, if it ‘had, I am perfectly sure that that honorable gentleman, who is pretty quick at seeing what ought to be done, would not have allowed’ the Bill introduced in this Parliament to be placed before members in an unamended state. Under the War Precautions Act that we did pass, any citizen may be tried by court martial, and that provision is very vague. I use the word “vague” owing to the phrasing of the sub-clause itself, and also in the light of the criticism directed against the measure at Home. For such an offence as spreading reports likely to cause disaffection or alarm-
– That is very wide.
– It is so wide that the Cabinet at Home had to disavow the statement as to the scope of its application made by the Solicitor-General in the course of the debate. Reading the Act into the regulations, a person may be arrested by a police or Customs officer, or any other authorized official, without warrant, and he may be tried either by court martial or by a civil tribunal at the option of the Government. As a matter of law, I believe that such a person - I am speaking now in the light of a judgment by Mr. Justice Lush - may be de- tained indefinitely, as in one instance I know a man has been, without -any specific charge, or charge of which legal cognisance can be taken, being laid against him, or without any declaration by the Executive as to whether he has to be tried by court martial or a civil tribunal. Under regulation 9, for instance, an officer of the police, or Customs officer, or any person authorized for the purpose by a competent naval or military authority, may arrest without warrant any person whose behaviour is of such a nature as to show reasonable ground for suspecting that he has acted, is acting, or is about to act, in a manner prejudicial to the public safety or the defence of the Commonwealth. A person so arrested is to be handed over, and kept in military custody, until he can be dealt with in ordinary course of law ; and, while so detained, he shall be deemed to be in legal custody. I do not say that habeas corpus may not lie even under these circumstances. Happily, it is the glory of the English law that a person can always appeal to the Court, unless that right is expressly taken away by Act of Parliament, to have a declaration as to why he is under arrest. But if it is found that we have given power by Act to effect an arrest and detain a person indefinitely, the Court can go no further by way of habeas corpus. There have been bases, however, in other times, as well as one or two since the Defence of the Realm Act came into force, in which, if I may trust to the judgment of Mr. Justice Lush, reported in one of the English newspapers, habeas corpus did not lie, because the Executive seem to have the power to keep a man without absolutely declaring under what particular jurisdiction, civil or military, he is to be tried. However, I would not take that decision as final, because there have been cases before this legislation in which the Executive has been forced to a decision as to whether they intended a person to be tried by court martial or by a civilian tribunal.
– The honorable member is directing his remarks to that part of the measure which deals with the trial of civilians by court martial?
– That applies to every one; but I am now dealing with the Act we passed, and not with the amending measure. Since this Bill came before the Senate, the Attorney-General has, very properly, supplied his colleague there with an amendment, which, in effect, is a similar provision to that placed in the Imperial Act last February. There are other regulations to which I might refer, but I do not desire to be too particular. Let me now refer to the Imperial Act. In this connexion we have been shown the necessity for vigilance; and I think our Administration ought to have been a little more careful, in the light of the criticism directed against the particular clause which was inserted last November in the Imperial Act, and which we here knew of six weeks or two months ago. Lord Halsbury, dealing with the text of the Act, apart from the regulations, said -
I do not think the liberty of the subject is such a trifling matter that it should be supplanted in a moment because some of us are in a panic. . . . Undoubtedly it is the most unconstitutional thing that has happened in this country.
Lord Parmoor, the real author, by suggestion, of the amendment to restore the right, under Magna Charta, of being tried by a civil tribunal, moved a clause which I need not read, because it has been adopted both here and at Home; and he elicited a promise from Lord Haldane that the Executive would not allow any sentence of death on a civilian by court martial to be carried out until Parliament met again and members had an opportunity to consider the import of a measure which, with too great a reliance on the knowledge of Ministers, was passed practically without debate in the Commons, and was subject to very keen criticism in the House of Lords.
– Was that promise embodied in the Bill ?
– No ; but, at all events, the Bill was amended when the House met again.
– That amendment is in our measure now.
– I know; I am merely giving a synopsis, showing that, while we are willing to help the Government in the discharge of responsible duties in times of great strain, we should be ignoring our duty if we withheld criticism of the measures that are introduced. Lord Parmoor asked Lord Haldane -
Why the method of ascertaining whether or not a particular British subject is guilty should be altered to what is really his disadvantage in times like this
Hewent on to say -
Courts martial have neither the procedure nor the experience that our ordinary Courts have.
Lord Haldane would not agree to the amendment, but be made the significant remark that the Bill was directed, not so much against aliens, as against British subjects ; and that is the point we are concerned about. Lord Haldane said that, in his opinion, aliens came within the purview of the common law already, as he believed they did to a large extent come under the defence legislation. He said -
The Act is not directed against aliens, as they, at any rate, are not protected against military jurisdiction by the laws of Great Britain.
This was a Bill, then, to suspend the Petition of Rights, or Magna Charta, at a time of alleged crisis, in regard to British subjects; and I say, with due respect, that it is the duty of Ministers to show the necessity for such a modification of civil rights. Beyond that the Government have copies of the measures passed in the Old Country, I have not yet heard a word urged in favour of the measure, in view of peculiar circumstances in Australia. Under court martial the trial need not be open ; and one has only to look at the Defence Act to see that the incorporation of the court martial provisions of that Act give extraordinary powers to a court martial. It is true, as the AttorneyGeneral mentioned when the honorable member for South Sydney was speaking, that the matter of the trial rests with the Executive, or something to that effect. But it rests with the Executive only in the sense that the court martial has to be convened by the Governor-General, who acts under advice; but, if an offence is committed, a man must be tried; and, if he is to be tried by court martial, it is the duty of the Executive to summon that tribunal.
– It is not the duty; it is in the absolute discretion of the Executive.
– I beg the honorable gentleman’s pardon ; I think that if an offence appears to be established in the opinion of the Attorney-General, on the facts put before him, it is his duty to either discharge the man at once or have him tried. It is the Attorney-General’s duty to have the person tried if there is a fair case established by the facts.
– Is the honorable gentleman speaking of the operation of sub- clause8?
– Not at all. My object at present is to show that we must watch carefully what we are doing, because the Government did not know, when this Bill was introduced in the Senate-
– Under sub-clause 6 all civilians are entitled to a civil trial.
– All that I know. My purpose is to explain, in view of the Ministerial easy-going observation of Imperial legislation, the purport of the Act before it is amended; and then I shall come to the consideration of the Bill. I am not going to give the specific provisions; but Part VIII. of the Defence Act will apply to all courts martial ; we have also to read into the Bill the very drastic provisions of the Army Act. There is, by the way, an amendment of the Defence Act proposed which will apply the Army Act wherever the troops are; and when that amendment comes before us we shall see what it means. Let me see what the position was on the 24th February. Speaking on the measure to which I have referred, Sir John Simon, Attorney- General, halfheartedly acknowledged that a serious blunder had been made in passing the original measure in November. He said, referring to the jurisdiction of courts martial over civilians -
There was no good disguising the fact that this was an extremely novel proposal, and created a unique situation.
That was an acknowledgment by the AttorneyGeneral that a blunder had been made. Honorable members are as familiar as I am through The Times - for I think the matter was also mentioned in this morning’s issue of the Argus - with what was said by the Whip of the British Labour party regarding this legislation. Mr. Goldstone, the Labour Whip, said that it was to the House of Lords that the country had to look for the vindication of the ancient privilege of trial by jury. We are not such iconoclasts that, when we see a body of men like the House of Lords discharging a very high obligation to the public, we cannot give them the credit due to their patriotism and their vigilance in the public interest. I think we shall be less loth to do so now whilst the men of whom it is chiefly representative in England are displaying such a magnificent spirit on the field of battle. Nothing is more touching than to take up the illustrated papers at the end of each week and read there the lists of officers who have been killed in battle. Some of the most historic blood - I shall not talk of it as the “best” blood; but what, by way of lineage, may be called some of the best blood in the United Kingdom - is represented amongst those who have paid their last tribute of loyalty and devotion to their country. In order to show honorable members how dangerous it is to give too wide powers to the Executive, I would remind them that in the debate on the first Bill before the British Parliament, the Solicitor-General said that the censorship should be applied to prevent criticism of the Government of such a character that it. might destroy confidence in the Government, who had charge of the conduct of the war. In other words, if the Solicitor-General thought that a particular article was too strong in its condemnation of the Administration, or its ability to administer, he might avail himself of the censorship provisions to prevent any future outpourings on the part of the newspaper concerned. Such a statement went a little too far for the Ministry, andthey disavowed the declaration of their SolicitorGeneral as having any Cabinet authority. When we are asked to simply trust Ministers, I can only say that in the light of the fact that we had. a measure without any of these amending provisions introduced in another place, and that a declaration of the manner of its administration by the Solicitor-General was disavowed at Home, we may well be excused for being perhaps a little cautious, however desirous we are of assisting the Ministry in this crisis. “Coming to the present Bill, it is quite true that the provision in regard to the subjection of civilians to the jurisdiction of courts martial in respect of the death penalty is modified, but I think that the AttorneyGeneral ought to go further. The Government give with one hand what they take away with the other. In the first place, the right of a person under arrest to demand to be tried by a civil tribunal under this Bill must be exercisedwithin six days, whereas under the Imperial Bill four days was the time limit. Notice has to be given to the person arrested that he may have the option of being tried by a civil tribunal, and that notice must be exercised within six days. That is provided for in sub-clause 6 of clause 4; but under sub-clause 8 of the same clause it is declared that -
In the event of any special military emergency arising out of the present war, the Governor-General may, by proclamation, forthwith suspend the operation of sub-section 6 of this section….
If we are not prepared to trust the Executive with the provision itself, surely we ought to hesitate before trusting the Executive with the power to suspend it. Ministers, to some extent, trust to the advice of subordinate officers. The Minister of Defence more particularly seems to do so. I do not think I am doing Ministers any injustice in saying that very often they cannot know exactly what are the facts on which they are asked to suspend a provision.
– To a large extent that is inevitable.
– Not to a large extent. The Attorney-General, in his own Department, sees a good deal of the facts of the cases.
– But the position of the Attorney-General’s Department is very different from that of the Defence Department.
– Whilst Minister of External Affairs I had, on one occasion, the luxury of spending the whole of my Christmas holidays in reading, among other matters, the voluminous evidence sent down from Papua regarding men who had been arrested and found guilty of certain charges. While in my own home I read some hundreds of pages of evidence, to see that no injustice was done to those men.
– The honorable member could not have done that had he been Minister of Defence.
– I do not say that I could have done so. Whether a Minister of Defence may be over inclined in times of peace to trust to the Major-General, or whoever the Commanding Officer may be, as to the facts of a particular case, I cannot say, since I have not had charge of that Department; but I believe I am correct in saying that at present, at all events, Ministers do not trust in all cases to their own knowledge of the facts before coming to a decision. I have referred to the Defence Act; let me come now to the regulations, through which we are giving a very wide power of Executive legislation. By the way, it was surmised by one of the English law journals - and the surmise was adopted by one of the English newspapers - that the provision in the British Act, giving to courts martial power to inflict the death penalty on British subjects generally, was inserted because a doubt existed as to the validity of the death sentence passed by a court martial on the German spy, Carl Lodz. It was surmised that that provision was inserted to cover the possibility of the power to impose the death penalty being non-existent. If the offender had been found within certain areas, then, quite irrespective of this particular Act, he could have been ordered to suffer the death penalty. It was a purely technical matter that this provision was designed to cover. This serves to show that, because the Imperial authorities deem it necessary to pass a certain provision, it does not necessarily follow that we should do the same here. If that provision was inserted to meet a special case - and we never insert a clause ostensibly to do that - surely it does not do for us to imitate, parrot like, exactly what has been done at Home. Happily, we have got over that particular matter by an amendment. Under the regulations the naval and military authorities may order the whole of the inhabitants of a particular area to remain within doors. That provision appears in the printed regulations. They may also remove from any locality any person suspected of being about to act in a manner prejudicial to the public safety and the defence of the realm. Under the provisions relating to censorship it is probable that an attack on the justness of the war might be made the basis of a trial before court martial. I propose to refer briefly to the most recent criticism I have seen of these Acts. It appears in a book entitled War: Its Conduct and Legal Results, by Baty and Morgan. Professor Morgan, as the AttorneyGeneral knows, is lecturer in Constitutional Law at the London University, and is perhaps the most eminent constitutional authority in the United Kingdom. He certainly seems to have the best grip of the law of the United States and the Commonwealth of Australia. He has written a great deal on the subject, and is held in the highest esteem as an authority in the United Kingdom. He and his co-author refer to the extraordinary scope of some of these regula tions. Reference is made, for instance, to regulation 9, which I quoted, as to the power to arrest, without warrant, any person whose behaviour is of such a nature as to give reasonable ground for suspecting that he is acting, or about to act, in a manner prejudicial to the safety of the realm. Professor Morgan expresses the opinion that that regulation, as well as some others, is ultra vires, because it cannot reasonably be read into the specific provisions of the Act.
– Was he referring to our regulations?
– He was referring to regulations that are the same as our own. I am dealing now with regulation 9 under our Act, and regulation 13 under the Imperial Act. Dealing with this, Baty and Morgan write -
This seems to us to be quite meaningless. Conduct “ prejudicial to the safety of the realm “ can only be an offence if it comes within the military offences as defined in (a), (b), (c). Such conduct isnot of itself an offence at common law unless it comes within the recognised categories of treason, conspiracy, sedition, or is within the Official Secrets Act.
They go on to say-
To disobey a statutory rule or order, if (and only if) lawfully made, is of course always a misdemeanour. But no one can be arrested for a mere misdemeanour without a warrant, and therefore the regulation directing arrest without warrant for breach of the regulations is wholly bad. Or are we to assume that the power to make regulations includes a power to abolish the common law as to arrest whenever convenient? If this can be read into the Act when nothing is said therein to that effect, then anything can. In that case, “ Any person authorized by the competent naval or military authority “ may be authorized to do anything - to hang peaceful citizens on lamp-posts.
That particular provision is now being amended, but not so as to touch the effect of this criticism. Dealing generally with the regulations, this authority says -
The truth of the matter is that the Statute is brief without being terse, and the regulations are voluble without being explicit. Had the Act said, “It shall be lawful for His Majesty in Council to make any regulations he may deem expedient for the public safety, and the defence of the realm, and such regulations shall not be questioned in any legal proceedings whatsoever,” then the articles we have been criticising would have been unimpeachable.
As a matter of fact, we have, both in the unamended Act and in clause 2 of this Bill, practically part of the same text as that which, if adopted in the Imperial legislation, would have been, according to these writers, unimpeachable. In other words, they say that it would have given the naval and military authorities any power which they chose to exercise for the defence of the realm. That statement, however, is based on the assumption that there would be in the Bill a provision taking away the right to challenge their decisions by certiorari, or by any other form of bringing a case before the Court.
– Does the honorable member contend, for one moment, that, according to this authority, a Court of law would decide that it was ultra vires, or were the writers merely making an academic point?
– Every legal opinion is based on the assumption that the lawyer giving it is asked to advise whether, in the event of the point being taken before a Court of law, it will be upheld or not. Lawyers do not offer academic opinions having no relation to facts.
– Does the honorable member believe that if such a regulation were taken before an English Court it would be declared to be ultra vires?
– The powers given are very wide; but, in the light of the considered opinion of Professor Morgan, which I have only read within the last half-hour, it would not be right for me to say whether it is right or wrong. However, the Courts refrain from restraining, or would hesitate to declare ultra vires, any legislation which Parliament has thought necessary for the purpose of the protection of the realm, or as being essential as a war precaution. This authority proceeds to say -
But the Act being what it is we have never seen any statutory regulations which appeared to outrun so breathlessly the statutory powers actually conferred. For a parallel we should have to go back to the proclamations of Henry VIII., who could at least point to the lex regia on the statute-book (repealed in the reign of his successors) giving all his proclamations the force of law. We cannot admit that the Defence of the Realm Act is such as lex regia, and we are quite sure that our present Parliament has not contemplated anything of the kind. It may be said that the gravity of the occasion dispenses us from invoking the usual rules of construction, but if so we may as well dispense with the Rule of Law altogether and intrust the Cabinet with autocracy. And since we know on high authority that the conflict against destitution and disease is perpetual - contra miseriam aeterna auctoritas - we may soon be called upon to do so in time of “ peace.”
Now, passing away from this authority - an authority which is doubted by the Attorney-General - there is no other mat ter in the provisions of the Bill to which I need refer until we reach the Committee stage, except sub-clause 3 of clause 2, which provides -
The Minister may -
require that there shall be placed at his disposal the whole or any part of the output of any factory or workshop in which arms, ammunition, or warlike stores or equipment, or any articles required for the production thereof are manufactured; and
take possession of and use for the purpose of His Majesty’s Naval or Military service any such factory or workshop or any plant thereof.
Nothing is said as to whether compensation is to be paid or to what extent it is to be paid. When the Imperial Bill from which these provisions are taken was before the British Parliament, Ministers said that they intended to appoint a special Board to provide compensation for those affected by the exercise of these provisions, though, very properly, not to the full extent of the damage suffered; because all men must suffer to some extent, vicariously, if not directly, from the war, and the payment of full compensation to men in the United Kingdom who are making exceedingly high profits, would not be right. The ground on which the Imperial legislation was introduced was principally that there had been such a colossal increase from week to week in the demand for munitions of war that it was impossible to get the requirements of the Admiralty or Military Departments supplied. Lord Kitchener has stated that since the outbreak of the war the output of munitions of war has increased three hundredfold, and that the manufacturers have not the knowledge nor the time, nor the machinery, in some cases, with which to keep pace with requirements.
– Lloyd George has said that.
– And so, I think, has Lord Kitchener, to some extent. Lloyd George has said that it is necessary to mobilize the industries connected with the output of munitions of war. Has the Minister shown that the same necessity exists in Australia? Because, if that is the case, we may give the necessary power.
– We have had to do it already, under mutual agreement; but it is necessary for us to have the power, should it be required.
– If the Minister finds that this extraordinary power which he seeks is to any degree desirable, and that, without it, he cannot cope with the obligations of defence, I am sure that the Leader of the Opposition, on behalf of the Opposition, will accord it to him.
– It is necessary to have the power.
– As one of the reasons for taking this power in Great Britain it was alleged that some men, not many, were not giving the full results of their earnings. Another reason was that nearly all employers were making exorbitant profits. I have read an account of the Clyde engineers’ strike, and my impression is that the men were right. For twelve months there had been a dispute, but immediately the war broke out the employers offered three-fourths of the men’s demands, and the point recently was, whether the men’s demand should be conceded in full. I do not wish to go into the merits of the case, but the judgment of The Times correspondent, on the facts of the case, seems to me to be correct. In a well-considered leader The Times paid a very high tribute to labour for its loyalty and efficiency since the war had broken out, but Lord Kitchener, in the House of Lords, had to say that there were cases that interfered with what otherwise would have been his general approbation of the employes who were engaged in the output of munitions of war, and necessitated the proposal of the Government to take over general control. Lloyd George and Lord Kitchener have pointed out that one of the main objects of this proposal is the cutting down of the exorbitant profits that would be made by some manufacturers owing to the great demand for munitions of war, and if the Minister of Defence can show us that the same necessity exists here, I shall be satisfied. I offer these criticisms in order to show that the Opposition are justified in devoting a little attention to this measure. “We have no assurance from the Minister of Defence that the giving of very wide powers, especially as regards the taking over of manufactories, has become necessary. The honorable member for Balaclava suggested this afternoon, by question, that some communications with reference to the Bill had been received from the Imperial Government. No doubt, if that is the case, the
Minister will be glad to give them to us to consider privately or otherwise. I hope the Minister will understand that what I have had to say in regard to the Bill is not dictated by factious opposition, though at times my remarks may have been directed to a little remissness in observation of what has been done in the Old Country.
.- After what has been said, further criticism of the Bill is hardly necessary. The provisions of the measure cut right across the grain of a democratic people such as we are. At the same time, I realize the necessity for conceding a good deal of power in order that efficiency may be secured for the Army. As to whether we are conceding too much is a matter for argument. In my opinion, this Bill will concede too much. It doubles on its track, as it were. For instance, while in sub-clause 6 of clause 4 it pretends to give civilians a choice of trial, that option is taken away from them by sub-clause 8. I object to this. In my opinion, that which the Minister desires can be equally well achieved by retaining to the Executive the right to review serious penalties, especially the death penalty. The right of review should not be taken out of the hands of those directly responsible to the nation. According to the Bill, the GovernorGeneral may invest tribunals with all the powers of life and death. By regulation, he may give them the absolute power of investigation and imposing their verdicts. This should certainly be avoided. I have not come to the stage in which I can vote for a Bill containing such a provision. I maintain that Parliament should always retain this power through the Executive. I do not intend to say much on the Bill at present, as I understand other honorable members wish to speak. I merely make these few remarks at this juncture in order to show to the Government that there is a fairly solid opinion against permitting these great powers of the people to be whittled away in the manner in which they would be by treatment of this description.
.- I do not propose to detain the Minister or the House very long, but there are certain features of the Bill to which many honorable members on both sides object, though I do not suppose any honorable member would be inclined to refuse the second reading on that account. I hope that when we get into Committee the Minister will offer some better explanation as to the necessity for some of the provisions. Better still, I trust that he will suggest amendments for their modification. The Bill, as has been said by the honorable member preceding me, strikes a blow at many important principles which have been built up as the result of centuries of endeavour, and they are principles of which we all approve. The plea for submitting this legislation is that we are at war, that we are in a period of trial *nd crisis, and that the British Parliament has adopted proposals of substantially the same character. The fact that the greatest and most responsible statesmen of the Empire think that it is advisable for the safety of the Home Land to recommend legislation of this kind is an argument which weighs with every loyal member of the House, and of the community; otherwise the Minister would not get ten votes in this House for the second reading of the Bill.
– It would not be submitted .
– I thoroughly agree with the remarks of the honorable member for Angas that factious opposition is not proposed. What comes from honorable members on this side will be nothing but gentle and suggestive criticism. But I hope the Minister will realize that, although the Home Land, and many of the men engaged in its government may feel the need for very drastic treatment of many of its problems, we in Australia are free from the conditions existing in the Old Country. It does not necessarily follow that the conditions existing in the Isles of lh» North, ringed by waters, and the resort of myriads of alien enemies, are the same as those existing in a Dominion like ours, out on the circumference of the world, so that provisions necessary to Great Britain may not be needed here. Therefore, I trust that the Minister, in Committee, will receive suggestions for the modification of the Bill. We must preserve the principle that even in time of war individuals in a Democracy have rights as well as the community, and that while the safety of the community is the supreme law, the rights of individuals must be respected, as far as possible, consistent with the preservation of that safety.
– Civilians are absolutely protected under the powers given in the Bill.
– There are attempts to protect civilians, but there are certain features which show how far this protection may be withdrawn in case of emergency. In order to illustrate my attitude, I may refer to one of the provisions of the Bill which should claim attention in Committee. I refer to what is now labelled as clause 8, under which, in the event of any special military emergency, certain rights of civil trial are withdrawn and military trials substituted. One cannot anticipate what may happen, and I presume satisfactory reasons exist for the insertion of this clause. The only question is as to whether the phraseology adopted by the draftsman and the Minister does not open too wide a door to misadventure and, possibly, grave injustice. What may be a special military emergency in the mind of one Minister may be altogether a different thing in the mind of another. If this country, being at war, were threatened with invasion by some of the Powers that seem to be favorably disposed towards the Triple Entente at the present time, that would be an occasion upon which large powers should belong to the Executive. Is such a circumstance as that what is meant by “special military emergency”?
– I can assure the honorable member that the power will not be put into operation unless it is absolutely necessary in the interests of the Commonwealth.
– I am always prepared to accept the assurance of a Minister as to his intention.
– Circumstances will have to change a good deal from their present appearances before the power is applied.
– I should judge that, otherwise, the Minister would not suggest this clause at all.; but a “ special military emergency “ may be a matter of very insignificant character. A “ special military emergency” might occur if it were deemed advisable to put 5,000 troops into Western Australia for the protection of certain dock or harbor works. It might be a “ special military emergency “ if we sent troops into Thursday Island, or into other portions of this country.
An Honorable Member. - But the application of the Bill will have to be sanctioned.
– No. We give full power under this Bill.
– Suppose some of the nations, our friends to-day, are our enemies in three months. I think the honorable member will see-
– I think I can see what the Government have in mind, but before this clause disappears from Committee I am anxious that its terms should be made particularly explicit, so that Parliament will know exactly to what it is consenting. Then, following the general view of the Leader of the Opposition, I am prepared to forego many of the prejudices I have against Executive legislation, and to give the largest and amplest powers to the Government for the protection of our rights and privileges in this time of crisis. But let us do it as cautiously and sagaciously as possible, so that every honorable member may know exactly to what principle he has consented, even in a time of ci* is is*
– I think we are0 indebted to the honorable member for South Sydney, and to other honorable members on both sides of the House, for the information they have given in reference to this matter; but I am inclined to be doubly careful after reading the information contained in a paragraph in the Christian Commonwealth on the working of the Act that was so hurriedly passed by the House of Commons. There we had a body of highlyqualified legislators, who passed a measure hurriedly, and with what result? According to the newspaper to which I have referred -
The Government have discovered their mistake in suspending the Magna Charta, the Bill of Rights, and all the other Statutes which safeguard the civil liberties of the individual. It was left to the House of Lords, when the Defence of the Realm Bill was before them, to act as protectors of civil rights. The House of Commons, acting either ‘in ignorance or in panic, but certainly in haste, had permitted the Bill to pass in the most objectionable form. A few days ago Lord Parmoor, who was once known as Sir Alfred Cripps, introduced a Bill into the House of Lords to amend the Defence of the Realm Act in the direction of restoring to the civil population the right to be tried in a civil Court. The Government were unable to resist the measure, and agreed -to the second reading. It is the intention of the Government, however, to take up the matter themselves, and to introduce a Bill of their own. The Attorney-General is understood to have succeeded in getting his own way against the military authorities. It is a monstrous thing that, when the civil Courts are still sitting, British subjects should have to be brought before courts martial for what are really civil offences, and tried by an incompetent and biased body. The Bill to be introduced for the amend ment of the Defence of the Realm Act will reserve power to the Government to re- impose military law in the case of invasion. When this Bill comes before the House of Commons, we hope members will he a little more alert, and that the measure will not bc allowed to pass, except in such form as will secure the trial of persons by the civil Courts for all offences while it is possible for civil Courts to sit. The last tribunal to which tlie British people ought to hand over their civil liberties is a military court.
I agree with much .that appears in this quotation, and I am of the opinion that we should guard the rights of the citizen very dearly. The honorable member for Balaclava deserves credit for pointing this out. We are not here for the purpose of dealing with a matter of this character in any party spirit, and I hope we shall only look at it from the point of view of the general interest of the community.
– There is no fear of an invasion of Australia.
– No immediate fear, I think.
– Then, why give this power at all?
– The honorable member agrees that we are proposing to grant extensive powers to the military; but wc do not know how they will act. We do know the duties the Minister has to perform will prevent him from investigating as many cases as he would probably like to. The Minister of Defence and the Assistant Minister of Defence have done much to remedy many evils. The excellent work they have done has been brought under my personal knowledge; but we are bound to have trouble at a time like this. We must expect it, and it is our duty to assist the Ministers to perform the heavy duties which may come before them. It has been suggested that prices might not be put up to ah excessive point in Australia - that we are at war, and that the loyalty of the people would induce everybody to do what the Minister has stated a number of commercial men have been good enough to do already. But what do we find in the Old Country ? A gentleman of very high repute, one of the biggest merchants in Victoria, speaking at a dinner the other night - I refer to Mr. Charles Duckett, and quote from the Age of 26th April, 1915 - replying to the toast of his health, said -
He was in England when the war broke out.
They had read of strikes amongst the workers there, and, no doubt, blamed thu mcn considerably for their actions. He did not blame them at all. He considered they had done right. The manufacturers there cared nothing about the country as long as they could make money, and they hoa jumped prices to an enormous extent-much more so than was necessary - with the result that they were making more money now than they had made before the war, while the cost of living had gone up tremendously.
In the face of these facts; coming from a source not influenced by politics in any way, it behoves us to pass such a measure as this, so that the military authorities can take over any trade that they consider necessary in the interests of the community. That is the reason why I am so desirous that the House should allow this Bill to go into Committee. There, I hope that each honorable member of the House will .give us of his talents to enable us to amend the Bill so that it will operate in such a manner that all civil rights will be retained. We must do that, notwithstanding that we are at war ; but I hope we shall not get excited or allow ourselves to be carried away by the influences of the moment. We must not pass measures that will place in the hands of a very few people powers that may not be exercised judiciously and fairly. I shall vote for the second reading of the Bill, but I hope it will be amended in Committee.
.- The one question which I will always insist upon whenever a Bill of this sort is introduced to the House is, “ Have the Government left the civil power higher than the military power?” I do not wish to see military authorities dominating over the civil power. One officer of very high rank - that is if my information be true - when he arrived at sixty years of age, and should have been retired, was put into a higher position by the small coterie that rules the Defence Department. Ask any ranker outside if he would care to be tried by that man. His record in one portion of this State was such that he was fined, and yet continued in the service. How could any ranker obtain justice from a man like that? It would be the same if a Judge of the County or Supreme Court who had committed a theft, for which he was fined, was spoken of as a good Judge, and one who ought to continue in office.
– That is a case this Bill would not touch.
– The honorable member is the one who helped this individual to escape, when he ought to have been punished.
– Who is that?
– The honorable member knows very well.
– The honorable gentleman is looser-tongued on this occasion than usual. Is he accusing me of having allowed or ‘aided some officer to escape, punishment?
– Hear, hear ! So you did.
– Here is another honorable gentleman less cautious than the honorable member, making what I think is an entirely unprovoked allegation. I will be glad of information to be able to judge whether it is true or not; otherwise I think the honorable member should withdraw his allegation.
– It is quite true.
– Order ! If the honorable member said anything offensive, I must ask him to withdraw it.
– I said something nasty. I will withdraw it.
– The honorable gentleman’s record is such that he has never done anything for any human being.
– Do you withdraw that allegation, or will you supply me with the name ?
– If you will come outside I will supply the name. Don’t be so thin-skinned.
– Do not make charges you cannot prove.
– I can prove the charge.. The records in the House will prove it, and you know it.
– We will deal with this matter afterwards, in this House.
– Order !
– The case of Captain Brown alone will prove the difficulty of the position, for I doubt if the present Minister had not been in power whether the captain would have secured even the support he has received. A man who had command of one of the biggest steamers coming out here, who in a slack time was guardian of the ship, was shot down like a dog. I hope the Courts in this country will give him greater compensation than the £100 he has received. Unless the members of a court martial are men who have had legal training, what will they know of the law of evidence? Legal men of wide experience laugh at courts martial. As a matter of fact, they represent little more than a slightly idealized form of lynch law. Both are equally sudden, and liable to be unjust. Whether a man be a soldier or a civilian, I desire that he shall have the right of appeal to the higher civil Courts in cases where the penalty may be death, a long imprisonment, or punishment, it may be, by the lash. I know of no great jurist or lawyer of international repute who has supported courts martial as just and equitable tribunals. Having obtained the assurance of the Attorney-General that there is nothing in this Bill to make the civil power subservient to the military, I am content to vote for the second reading.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee -
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Regulations).
.- I desire to have an answer to a question which was raised on the second reading of the Bill. It was suggested that it might apply to some trials which have already taken place, and I should like to know definitely whether the Bill will be retrospective in its operation.
– There is nothing in the Bill to make it retrospective.
.- This is really the governing clause of the Bill under which power is given to the GovernorGeneral to legislate by Executive process. I wish to know how far it is proposed to confer powers of delegation on the Naval or Military Board, the members of the Naval and Military Forces of the Commonwealth, and other persons referred to in sub-clause 1 of the proposed new section. How far is it necessary to delegate these powers, and by what process is it proposed to try persons accused of offences involved in paragraphs a tof?
– The Minister would be on the Board.
– I understand that the Minister may sit on the Naval Board. I am not sure that he has not a seat on both Boards, but it is a question whether it would be advisable for him to sit on those Boards in a judicial capacity when, as a member of the Executive, he may have dealt, though in a more general way, with the issues to be tried by the. Boards. I take it that the Naval and Military Boards will be represented by the official members in trials of this kind, but I think the Committee should know what delegation of powers is contemplated under the Bill.
.- I should like to know from the Minister whether under this measure regulations may be framed making its operation retrospective. Power is given under the Bill to make regulations, and I want to be sure whether the operation of the measure will be made retrospective, and affect cases which have already been tried in New Guinea or anywhere else.
– I do not think any amendment of the existing Act proposed in this Bill will make the operation of the measure retrospective.
.- It is not easy to understand at once the effect of the measure, but my impressionis that it will not be retrospective in the ordinary sense. The provision in this Bill is more specific than that in the existing Act, for which it is substituted. I think it is possible that these specifications are required to cover regulations already passed. I do not know that some of them would be perfectly valid otherwise.
– Section 3 of the original Act made certain thingsretrospective.
– It was retrospective to cover proclamations and regulations made since the 4th August.
– And orders.
– Yes, and orders. That was necessary at the time of the passing of the original Act. This Bill is not retrospective in that sense. I think that some regulations made under the existing Act were not covered by the Act itself, and, unless this measure be passed, might be found to be invalid. If that be so, it is necessary that this clause should pass as it stands.
– Honorable members will notice that in this amending Bill we are proposing to repeal many words in the War Precautions Act of 1914, which are repeated in this measure, but, as the honorable member for Angas has said, some regulations have been made which require to be covered by this amending Bill to make them valid. We have discovered that the War Precautions Act, of 1914 was not worded exactly as we should like. This measure is necessary to give the Executive the power they require to frame the necessary regulations to give effect to what they desire to do.
– Before the War Precautions Act of 1914 was passed certain regulations and Orders in Council had to be made by the Government to meet certain emergencies. There was nostatutory authority in existence upon which those regulations and orders could be issued, so section 3 of the original Act was passed, making its operation retrospective as affecting those orders and regulations, and making breaches of those regulations punishable offences. Then came the Act of 1914 to give a statutory basis for the Executive’s power, and to specify a certain number of things for which regulations might be made. It now appears that those powers were not wide enough. Certain regulations have been made under that Act, and it may be open to question whether some of them have not gone further than the Act contemplated. There is nothing in the Bill we arc considering now which says that if the powers have been exceeded, and the regulations have been ultra vires, this measure shall validate them. All that this Bill does is to widen the powers so as to enable regulations to be made having a wider scope than those which could be made underthe existing Act.
– I do not think so.
– Let me give an illustration. Under paragraph 6 of the next clause power is given to make regulations - to prevent the transmission abroad, except through the post, of any letter, post-card, lettercard, written communication, or newspaper.
That is entirely new.
– That does not matter ; it would probably be covered by section 3 of the Act of 1914.
– It might or it might not be covered by that section; but in this Bill it is included as a specific power. This measure does not purport to be retrospective legislation, but to take wider powers than are provided for under the original Act. If anything was done under regulations issued before the passing of” the Act of 1914, this Bill does not provide that those acts shall be valid.
– There was not much done under the Act of 1914.
– That is so; but honorable members opposite have raised the question as to whether the operation of this Bill will be retrospective so as to validate anything done under regulations already issued.
– Will it affect the case of the men who were recently tried and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment?
– I am not expressing any opinion on that at all.
– Under what Act were they tried ?
– I do not know the charges that were preferred against them. I do not think that this Bill is intended to meet those cases at all. Those men were charged with specific offences, were brought before a court martial, and possibly dealt with under the” Defence Act. This Bill deals with precautionary measures, which is an entirely different matter.
– Could the men referred to be placed on their trial under this Bill?
– No. The Assistant Minister will correct me if I am wrong when I say that if this Bill gives any. additional power, or creates any new offences, it can only apply to breaches of the law made after the passing of this measure. It would be a serious thing to hold a man accountable for some act which, at the time he committed it, did not constitute a breach of the law. It is, of course, presumed that every man in Australia knows the law, and ignorance of the law is not a defence to any charge.
– A man might be liable for the infringement of a regulation under this Bill.
– Yes; but only for the infringement of regulations framed under this Bill. It is not the intention that the provisions of this measure shall operate retrospectively.
– As far as I know, that is so.
.- The Assistant Minister of Defence has stated that, under the Act of 1914, regulations have been framed which have been found to be invalid. Will those regulations be made operative by “the passing of this Bill? .
– New regulations will be framed in conformity with the Act of 1914, and of this Bill.
– Will the regulations under the Act of 1914, which are not now operative, require to be repealed and reenacted ?
– Yes, if they are made under any legislation which we are now considering.
– I am speaking of regulations which do not conform to legislation that is already in existence.
– I do not admit that any regulations have been made which require to be repealed.
– I understood the Assistant Minister to say that this Bill was necessary to widen the scope of existing legislation, and to make certain regulations effective.
– He did not say that any of those regulations was invalid.
– But he said that they were not operative. This Bill, I would remind honorable members, covers a great deal of ground. It is a measure which is new to Australian legislation, and seeing that we are vesting judicial functions in an authority which has not hitherto been set up in the Commonwealth, it demands very serious consideration at our hands.
– Similar conditions to the present have never previously obtained in the Commonwealth.
– I admit that. But legislation of this character should be limited in its operation.
– So it is. It will expire when the war ceases.
– That is quite satisfactory. I have been looking for some such provision, but have failed to find it. I take it, then, that any future regulations will have to be so drafted as to conform to this Act.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 -
Section six of the Principal Act is repealed, and the following section inserted in its stead : - “6. (1.) Any person who contravenes, or fails to comply with, any provision of any regulation or order made in pursuance of this Act shall be guilty of an offence against this Act. “ (2.) An offence against this Act may be prosecuted either summarily or upon indictment, or if the regulations so provide by court martial, but an offender shall not be liable to be punished more than once in respect of the same offence. “ (3.) The punishment for an offence against this Act shall be as follows : -
If the offence is prosecuted summarily - a fine not exceeding One hundred pounds or imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or both.
If the offence is prosecuted upon in dictment - a fine of any amount or imprisonment for any term, or both :
Provided that where it is proved that the offence is committed with the intention of assisting the enemy the person convicted of such an offence shall be liable to suffer death.
If the offence is prosecuted by court martial - the same punishment as if the offender had been a person subject to military law and had on active service committed an offence under section five of the Army Act :
Provided that where it is proved that the offence is committed with the intention of assisting the enemy the person convicted of such an offence by a court martial shall be liable to suffer death. “ (6.) Where a person being a British subject, but not being a person subject to the Naval Discipline Act or to military law, is alleged to be guilty of any offence against this Act which is triable by court martial, he shall be entitled, within six clear days from the time when the general nature of the charge is communicated to him, to claim that he be tried by a civil court instead of being tried by court martial, and where such a claim is made, the offence shall not be tried by court martial : “ (8.) In the event of any special military emergency arising out of the present war the Governor-General may by proclamation forthwith suspend the operation of sub-section (6.) of this section; either generally or as respects any area specified in the proclamation, without prejudice, however, to any proceedings under this section which may be then pending in any civil court.”
Section proposed to be repealed : -
Any person who contravenes, or fails to comply with, any provision of any regulation or order made in pursuance of this Act shall be guilty of an offence against this Act.
Penalty: One hundred pounds, or six months’ imprisonment, or both.
.- This is the clause which has given rise to the objections that have been voiced in this Chamber. Earlier in the debate I stated my objection to sub-clause 8 of proposed new section 6, which provides, in the event of any special military emergency arising out of the present war, the Governor-General may, by proclamation, suspend the operation of sub-clause 6, which gives to any British subject not subject to the Naval Discipline Act or to military law the right of appealing to the civil Court. Sub-clause 8 would establish a dangerous precedent, for by it we should be creating a tribunal outside the jurisdiction of the ordinary Courts. No person’s liberty, and certainly no person’s life, should be taken from him without at least giving the Executive the opportunity of reviewing the decision. If sub-clause 8 is passed in its present form the matter will be taken entirely out of the hands of the Executive. What is desired can be just as effectively obtained without investing the military authorities with the great powers which will be conferred upon them by this tribunal. The Executive of the day should have the right to review a death sentence, and unless the Government can see their way to provide for this and have it inserted in the Bill, I will not vote for it.
.- This is a very important clause. I do not know whether the Minister will make any modification of the sub-clause that gives the power to suspend the right to claim a trial before a civil Court; but, if not, we ought to get an assurance that the power contained in this sub-clause will be exercised very rarely, and only in circumstances of the most compelling necessity.
– I have already given an assurance on behalf of the Government that no sentence under this proposed new section will be carried out unless, and until, it has been presented to the Attorney-General for review.
– As a matter of fact, under the Act the death sentence is now presented to the Attorney-General, and, therefore, to Cabinet.
– That is a different matter. What I said was that the matter could be sent to the Attorney-General, and should be sent, not necessarily for review, but that each sentence could be reviewed, and would be, if necessary.
– I understand that Cabinet has the power of review, and I hope that the Attorney-General will look very closely into it. That is what has been promised. But, as the honorable member for Batman has pointed out, the powers of the military authorities depend on the kind of court martial appointed, and upon that there is no light given by this Act. In the event of a court martial being appointed, it is probable that the officers of that court would have an exalted opinion of their powers. I ask the Attorney-General if he will see that these powers are not pushed beyond the limits outside of which, by practice, we know the civil Courts would not apply them. Then if ever there is occasion to suspend the operation of this right of trial by jury or the civil Courts, we may hope that the power will be exercised with as much judicial tact and reserve as the civil Courts display, because in the hands of men who are somewhat authoritative in their ideas of discipline, they may become a menace to the community.
.- I am not inclined to vote for this clause, including as it does the sub-clause to which objection has been taken, because by passing it we shall be placing too great a power in the hands of the military authorities. I would like to ask the Attorney-General who is to be the judge of any case being a matter of special urgency. I take it that the Governor-General will act on the recommendation of the Minister of Defence, and that the Minister will be guided by the advice of his officers. Why should there be any hurry to shoot a man ? Even if he has committed a serious offence against the Empire, I see nothing wrong in the proposal that he should have a fair trial, and be judged by the civil Courts. As the honorable member for Angas has pointed out, many military officers have a very exalted opinion of themselves. They may be splendid officers, but still they have no legal training to qualify them to act as judges. I hope the AttorneyGeneral will amend the clause, because I do not want to vote against any clause in the measure now before the Committee, as I recognise that in these times we must be guided to a large extent by the responsible Minister.
– But we want some justification for the great power contained in sub-clause 8.
– Yes ; that is what I am asking for. Australia is not honeycombed with spies, and what may be necessary in Great Britain may not be necessary in the Commonwealth. At present we are not threatened with any invasion, and have very little to fear, yet, in spite of this, the Minister brings down a Bill practically similar to that introduced in Great Britain, and seeks to give the military authoritiesthis great power over the lives of our people.
– They have not got it in Great Britain.
– Yes, they have.
– As far as I am able to judge, the bulk of this clause seems to be wise and necessary, and if sub-clause 8 were eliminated I think the Committee would be unanimously satisfied. Sub-clause 6 gives civil rights to civilians accused of offences, upon six days’ notice being given. Sub-clause 8 is the cause of all our apprehension and anxiety, because in cases of special military emergency the right of the civilian as contained in sub-clause 6 may be cancelled. As far as the immediate future of Australia is concerned, the prospect does not justify the stringency of sub-clause 3, but if there should be developments, then Parliament surely will be prepared to grant all the necessary power to the Government to meet the situation. I would suggest to the Minister, and to the AttorneyGeneral, that sub-clause 8 should be quietly dropped out of the Bill for the present, because the interests of the community are sufficiently safeguarded without it. There is no party spirit in this discussion, and I think the Minister will take counsel with wisdom if he consents to the elimination of the sub-clause, and thus secure for the Bill a more speedy passage than it is otherwise likely to get.
– The scope of the general criticism is not directed against the clause itself, but against sub-clause 8. Sub-clause 6, providing for trial by civil Courts, is an ample safeguard of the rights of persons dealt with under the section, and its provisions are an answer to all that has been said in regard to the clause as a whole, excepting sub-clause 8. This sub-clause gives the Governor-
General power, in “a special military emergency,” to proclaim what is, in effect, martial law. Assuming for the sake of argument that sub-clause 8 was not there, I want honorable members to look at the clause as it would read, and apply it to the case of a civilian tried for any offence under the Bill, and, in particular, to apply it to an offence for which the death penalty might properly be imposed. Now, the death penalty cannot be imposed by a civil tribunal for any other offence than one for which any person would be liable to that penalty under the civil laws as they now exist. This Bill does not create any special offences for which the death penalty may be inflicted, and, although it may be argued that the death penalty may be inflicted by court martial for offences other than those for which the civil law provides that penalty, this does not apply to civilians. It therefore follows that if the case be heard before a civil tribunal, the only offences for which a person can be subjected to the death penalty must be offences which are provided for under Statute or common law. So much is clear. This brings us to the point - what is the civil law in this matter ? In regard to offences against the Commonwealth for which the death penalty may be inflicted - I leave all those offences which are provided for under State laws, such as murder and the kindred offences - the law is declared in the Crimes Act, to which I direct the attention of honorable members. Section 24 of our Crimes Act reads -
Any person who within the Commonwealth or any Territory -
I venture to say that paragraph b is as wide for all practical purposes-
– What happens under the provision?
– It is provided that such an offender - shall be guilty of an indictable offence, and shall be liable to the punishment of death.
– It means that be is indicted before a jury.
– I asked honorable members to assume that sub-clause 8 of proposed new section 6 of the War Precautions Act was not in the Bill - that is, to read clause 4 without sub-clause 8. I hold that a civilian committing an offence under clause 4 would be, so far as the death penalty is concerned, in exactly the same position as he would have been in but forthe clause. He could not be tried for any other offence, and if guilty the penalty would be the same. That is my reading of the provision. The terms of section 24 of the Crimes Act- “ Any person who assists by any means whatever any public enemy ‘ ‘ - are so wide and sweeping that in times like these no civil Court would hesitate to use them to the full extent when it was clearly demonstrated that an act of treachery had been committed and the safety of the Commonwealth had been deliberately imperilled. If that be so - and there can be no doubt about it - the effect of clause 4, assuming thatsub- clause 8 is struck out, is to re-enact, so far as the death penalty is concerned, those offences for which the person would be liable under the Crimes Act.
I now come to sub-clause 8. It deals with events of “ special military emergency “ arising out of the present war; it provides that the Governor-General may by proclamation - forthwith suspend the operation of sub-section 6 of this section, either generally or as respects any area specified in the proclamation, without prejudice, however, to any proceedings under this section which may be then pending in any civil Court.
I do not deny that “ special military emergency “ is an elastic term. It has to be interpreted by somebody. It has to be interpreted finally by the Executive Government. The responsibility for recommending action presumably will rest upon the Minister of Defence, but it is the Executive Government who must give effect to the recommendation. It is hardly credible that the Executive Government of this country, composed as it is of members of Parliament, and subject, as every one of them is, to censure by Parliament, would agree to the suspension of the civil law in anything but an emergency which amounted to a position of grave national peril. In my speech on the second reading of the Bill I said that, in my opinion, sub-clause 8, after all, did not confer any more powers on this Government than we had, but that it put those powers in a statutory form. I shall not labour that point. Personally, I must confess that I entirely sympathize with the views expressed as to this clause. I do not like it. I never pretended to like it. Whether the Bill without the clause would give us sufficient power to meet every emergency I do not pretend to say. I presume that it is easy for us to imagine a set of circumstances which could be met by nothing less than what is popularly known as a proclamation declaring martial law, but we must have this power, although we believe, and have every right to believe, that such an emergency will not arise. Beyond that I do not think that there is any need for me to speak. If the objection to clause 4 is directed wholly to subclause 8, the Government will consider any suggestion for its deletion.
– I do not quite understand from the remarks of the Attorney-General whether the Government propose to proceed with sub-clause8 or not, but perhaps they desire to hear further debate on the subject.
– I do not take any exception to that in dealing with a matter of this grave importance.
– This is not a party measure.
– No. If the Government, after considering this matter, think that this enormous power of practically proclaiming martial law in one of its most important aspects is essential, I, for one, will support them. If they decide, in their discretion, that it is necessary, I think that the Committee should support them. But I desire to point out that this is not a power to declare martial law in all its aspects, or not in those, so far as I read the measure, in respect to which it might be most important that the Government, in an extreme peril or emergency, should possess that authority. In most countries a proclamation declaring a state of martial law is merely a proclamation having no legal force or effect, but indicating that the Government, in the extreme peril of the circumstances, propose to break the law. What has been known in some countries - and this has very frequently happened in Ireland - as the suspension of the habeas corpus is merely one branch of what is ordinarily known as martial law. A proclamation of that kind has no legal effect; it is done in breach of the law, and in the anticipation that subsequently Parliament will authorize or sanction that breach of the law in view of the national peril which is supposed to make that step necessary. In this case, the Government propose to adopt, so far as it goes, a course which seems to me, if they contemplate any such national peril as is implied in this provision, preferable to breaking the law. I think that in a national peril, which may require the suspension of the ordinary civil rights protecting the liberty of the subject, it is preferable that the Government should take the power of doing it legally rather than do it illegally, trusting to subsequent ratification by Parliament. Therefore, if the Government contemplate the possibility, during any recess, of circumstances requiring practically the taking away of the safeguards surrounding the liberty of the citizens - it may be necessary ; in the case of an invasion of Australia, probably it would be necessary - I think that they are perfectly right in asking Parliament beforehand to invest them with the power of doing what otherwise they would be obliged to do illegally. But what I rose specially to point out is that this provision only proclaims martial law with regard to what is, perhaps, the least important part of the declaration of martial l aw, namely, taking away from persons the right to be tried by the civil tribunals. It is an important part; but, for practical purposes, supposing that at any time we were faced with a war in Australia, or a rebellion, or anything of that kind, in which the Government must take steps at once, and must disregard the ordinary rights of the citizen for the protection of the whole, what is really the most important power for the Government to possess is that known as abrogating the habeas corpus; that is to say, of imprisoning persons suspected, with reason it may be, of acting treacherously and holding them there to prevent them going further. That is most important, and that power is not given by this clause.
– By clause 2 that is given. This is a measure to prevent the committal of offences; the Crimes Act is a measure to provide for the punishment of offences that have been committed.
– Quite so. Of more importance than the question how a man is to be tried is the considera tion of what powers are really necessary. Among these is the power to hold in detention without trial, or prior to trial, a man supposed, with some reason, to be guilty of traitorous practices. The power taken by sub-clause 8 is not a complete power of proclaiming martial law, and is not sufficient for the proclaiming of martial law in a way in which its proclamation would be effective. I do not contemplate any practical possibility of the proclamation of martial law in Australia being necessary, but one never knows what turn a great struggle of the kind in which the nation is now engaged may take. I do not blame Ministers for asking Parliament to invest them with even such extreme powers as those for which they ask, and which they think may, under some circumstances, be needed. They having asked for these powers, I think that it is our duty to grant them. No Government which possessed the confidence of a majority of this House would attempt to exercise these powers unless there were the direst national peril to be met.
.- I agree with the honorable member for Flinders that the maintenance of the national existence is the supreme necessity, and that every step necessary to that end is justified, even though it should mean the abrogation of every civil right. But where is the justification for what is proposed ? Where is the indication that the conditions at present necessitate the abrogation of every civil right? What will be my position when this Bill becomes law ? Farewell to friend and foe. No more will be heard of Anstey ! Under the Bill the military chiefs will be able to arrest any man in the community, and do as they please with him. We have had Defence of the Realm Acts, War Precaution Acts, and other measures of the kind ad libitum, and it has been stated in the press that these Acts are the most stringent in existence. Now the Government come forward with a request for additional powers for the military. For what purpose? We ought to be told why these new powers are needed. Have fresh dangers arisen for Australia? Is her position more precarious than it was six months ago ? Have new enemies arisen in our midst? Is there some danger abroad with which the existing laws cannot cope ? Are our present laws inadequate for the necessities of the country ? If they are not adequate, tell us why they are not.
– Parliament has been told that they are inadequate.
– Broad assertions do not make facts. The Minister of Defence, who introduced the Bill in another place, said that the measure was intended to fill up gaps. He said, “ I shall explain its provisions, and shall tell you in detail what is lacking”; but he only talked round about the subject, and gave no explanation, and no explanation has been given in this Chamber. All sorts of crimes and possibilities have been imagined, but we have not been told that contingencies justifying legislation of the kind proposed have arisen. There has been no justification for the suspension of civil law and trial by jury. We have not been told why individuals should be dragged before military tribunals to be sentenced for anything they may do, or say, or write. The honorable member has told us that the Crimes Act is in similar terms. If I do anything to serve the purposes of the enemy I am liable at common law, and if the law makes my deeds punishable with death I am liable to that penalty. But before the penalty can be exacted I must be tried in a civil Court, and must be given an opportunity to defend myself. If my friends will supply me with money, I can hire a lawyer to speak for me, and I can have my case put before a jury of my fellowcountrymen by a civil Judge. What chance should I have were I hauled before a tribunal of military gentlemen, armed with the power of the rack, the gallows and the torture-chamber, whose sentence would not be subject to appeal? The Attorney-General has told us that he will review these sentences. What chance should I have under such circumstances? A court martial atRabaul passed long sentences of imprisonment on five men. Those sentences were subject to review by the Attorney-General; but he has been too busy to review them, and has had to act on the advice tendered by his officials. We hear it whispered everywhere, even in this chamber, that the military can do no harm. I ask to what law is the military authority to be subject when the civil population is subject to the military. To what Court shall armed criminals amongst the chiefs of the Military Forces be brought? Who shall save the common people from their tyranny?
We were told, in regard to the Rabaul cases, that consideration would be given to the sentences later. No doubt, if 1 were brought before a military tribunal at this juncture, and appealed against its sentence to the Attorney-General, he would say, “ At the present time the sentence cannot be reviewed,” and next morning my neck would be pulled out ten yards. After my death, the case might be reconsidered, but what comfort would there be to me in that? What is the supreme Court of this country? Is Parliament the supreme power in Australia? Is it intended to be the supreme power? I asked a question this afternoon of the Assistant Minister of Defence. I presume that I was within my rights as a member of Parliament in asking that question. I presume, too, this being a free community, that members of this Parliament have the right to be reported in the newspapers of the country. The Minister answered my question, but the Minister of Defence gave instructions to the military authorities to exercise the power which they possess of refusing permission to the press to allow the question to appear in any newspaper in Australia.
– Hear, hear!
– Last night the GovernorGeneral informed the public of this country that the Australian troops are at Gallipoli. Have I not the right to the same information as is given to the Governor-General ?
– The honorable member got that information.
– It was suppressed, so far as the newspapers were concerned. I demand rights co-equal with those of the Governor- General.
– I said the Minister would give the information to this Parliament, and that that was as far as it would go. The honorable member got the information.
– Is this standing behind your country at a time of crisis?
– I am here to express an opinion.
– To explode !
– Well, explode; and it would not be a bad thing if the honorable member did the same.
– The Prime Minister is entitled to a little more respect.
– The Prime Minister is entitled to that amount of respect which he earns from the men assembled about him. I take it that the Prime Minister asks for no hero worship. I presume he isma n enough to take any criticism that may be offered, and respects an honest conviction openly expressed rather than the remarks of those who smile behind his back, and are not as candid as I am. I may be wrong in what I am saying, but I make no apology for my remarks. Here we have an exhibition of the power of the. military in its untrammelled form. They put no closure upon the utterances of the Governor-General, who was primed by a Minister of the present Government, and at a public function gave information which was published in the press, whilst I, who asked for information to use in my position in Parliament, am refused the right to have it made public. I again demand co-equal rights with the GovernorGeneral. There can be no justification for giving publicity to his remarks on the question, and placing a military embargo on mine. “What are we asked to give adherence to? For what are we to be punished? For a violation of this measure. I could understand it if we were asked to give adherence to an Act of Parliament which laid down specific charges, and which set out, in the same manner as the Crimes Act does, the several offences, and the allotted penalty for each. We are not asked to vote for anything specified in this Bill, however, but for regulations that may be made hereafter by the military, and under those regulations we are to be punished for some offence of which, at present, we have no knowledge.
– The regulations must be laid on the table.
– Yes ; and very often they are made and put into execution when Parliament is not sitting.
– You know that would not happen in this case.
– I do not. The Bill provides that the Governor-General may make regulations to secure “the public safety.” What is the public safety?
– This Parliament safeguards the public safety. If it does not, it is not doing its duty.
– I do not think Parliament is doing its duty. The GovernorGeneral is to make regulations to secure the public safety, and the military autho rities are to be the judges of what is public safety. They will be able to suppress freedom of speech and the liberty of the press; and if, under these powers, the military authorities can suppress individual liberty in that way, may not the Government also exorcise these powers during the currency of the war to protect the general public against the robbers who exploit them within our borders? If they can suppress the right of a man to express his opinion, may they not utilize the same power against those people referred to by the honorable member for Wannon, who unjustly raised the price of fodder? But we do not do that, and Parliament has no intention of doing it. The honorable member for Wannon was very ardent in speaking on that question. Here is his chance of demonstrating that he can put his vote and effort behind his affirmation by demanding that the power in this measure shall be not only exercised in suppressing the freedom of subjects, but shall deal also with the Meat Combine and those other trusts which are operating as much as any other body to the detriment of the public safety. It is provided that the authorities may prevent the transmission of newspapers or letters except through the medium of the post. Soldiers in Rabaul write letters tome to protest against the iniquities there; but their letters arc censored, and I must receive them by hand. So a soldier gives a letter to some stoker on a ship, and asks him to forward it to me; but if those men do such a thing after this Bill is passed, they will be liable to be shot.
– That is not only Untrue, but absurd.
– That provision is to prevent the transmission abroad of letters.
– The letters sent by the soldiers from New Guinea are censored in the same maimer. Either the censor scores out or cuts out certain passages, or the letters are handed back to be rewritten. They have no means of transmitting their grievances except by hand. Then the Bill goes on to refer to the prevention of the spread of false reports - there will be plenty of need for that - “ or reports likely to cause disaffection to His Majesty.” Poor George! After this Bill is passed, I must keep my mouth shut, and be all “ mum.”
If the military are once “put on” to me it will be all over with me! By subclause 8 of clause 4 the military are to be given absolute and untrammelled power to take into custody any citizen they like, bring him before their judgment seat, and mete out to him the most awful and atrocious punishment. We are told that this is all intended to safeguard the country. Do we not remember, under the old Factories Acts, how it was set out that the hours of labour should be soandso, while it was also provided that, if somebody chose, the operation of the provision could be suspended. The same feature could be ‘observed in connexion with the old anti-sweating legislation, in which one section declared that sweating should not exist, while another said that it might go on if some one gave permission. And so in this Bill the provision to which I take exception will come into operation only, it is said, in a “ special military great emergency”; but we all know that any meaning may be read into those words. Where did the Government get this provision from ? Here we have a Government composed of men called from the ranks of Labour, who are supposed to he members of the most radical organization on earth, to be imbued with exalted ideas of human liberty, to be keen for the preservation of human rights, and to be animated by a desire to cripple all the powers that in any way impinge on our freedom. In another place, Senator Millen asked whether the Government were “ following the language of the Imperial Act in regard to this provision,” and to that Senator Pearce replied, “Yes.” The Government did not develop this as an original idea; but there arrived a steam-boat from England with a new Bill. In the House of Lords, which is supposed to be the most Tory of all Houses of Parliament, composed of what Disraeli called the “ new-rich,” of the miserable, moneyed classes, the members showed themselves to be instinct with liberty. Here, however, this Radical Government, while in sub-clause 6 they provide for a civil Court, in sub-clause 8 provide that civilians may be deprived of the right. I decline to vote for a single line of such a provision. If any one can show me that dangers menace us, I am prepared to give up the right of free speech, and of a free press - to give up every individual right - in order to maintain the existence of the country ; but I must be shown that it is necessary to take steps far beyond those taken by any country actively engaged in the war. We are being simply swept away by one vast tide that isoverwhelming our ideas of human rights and liberties; and I refuse to let it be thought for one moment that I can give my adherence to such a proposal.
– I have listened with a good deal of surprise to what has been said. An endeavour has been made to show that the Government are attempting to do something terrible. I remind honorable members, however, that at the present moment every person in Australia is under military law, and that this Bill is intended to alter the present position of affairs.
– No, it is not.
– It is; the object of the Bill is to give civilians the right to be tried in a civil Court - a right that they have not now.
– Oh, yes, they have.
– The Assistant Minister means that this Bill is intended to give the right of trial by jury, a right that is not given under the original Act.
– Of course.
– Sub-clause 8 of clause 4 takes away that right again.
– No. The sub-clause states that the Governor-General, or the Executive, may by proclamation take away the right; but even if that were done, we should then only be in the same position that we are in to-day. The Government have had this power for many months now; and I ask honorable members to say whether under it anything drastic has been done. If honorable members read the Act and the proposed amendment they will see that we have that power now.
– I think you are wrong.
– Any person who now offends under the Act or regulations may be dealt with by the military authorities and court martialled.
– That is not quite correct.
– That is what I am given to understand by the Minister of Defence. I telephoned the honorable gentleman before the House met. and he assures me that that is so.
– Is he the last authority on the subject?
– He is, and has been, administering the Act for some time in conjunction with the Attorney-General?
– To some extent the Minister is correct.
– The Government have the power now and have not abused it; and the proposal is to give civilians a certain right they do not possess at the present moment. The Bill merely proposes thai if it be deemed necessary the Government may, in this connexion, be placed i n the same position as they are in to-day ; and, surely, in view of the administration of the Act during the last six months the Government may be trusted.
– The Assistant Minister of Defence is distinctly right in saying that in some respects we are at present under military law, and that the Bill now before us will afford certain civilian rights in respect of it which do not now exist. The present law provides that the regulations which may be made under it may authorize -
The trial by courts martial and punishment of persons contravening any of the provisions of such regulations designed -
to prevent persons communicating with the enemy, or obtaining information for that purpose or for any purpose calculated to jeopardize the success of the operations of any of His Majesty’s forces in Australia or elsewhere, or to assist the enemy …. in like manner as if such persons were members of the Military Forces of the Commonwealth and had on active service committed an offence under section 5 of the Army Act.
I have not attempted to quote the whole of the present law, but only portion, by way of example. It will thus be seen that under the existing law, and the regulations made by virtue of it, civilians are liable to the same penalties and to be tried by the same tribunal as are those who are subject in ordinary circumstances to military law. To that extent, therefore, my honorable friend is quite correct. Much relief is being granted, however, by subclause 6 of clause 4 of this Bill. The Hill goes still further than the existing law, but so far as it does exceed the existing law a military tribunal would not apply to civilians. Sub-clause 6 of clause 4 gives to civilians the option of demanding to be tried by a civil Court. It provides that -
Where a person being a British subject but not being a person subject to the Naval Discipline Act or to military law is alleged to be guilty of any offence against this
Act which is triable by court martial, he shall be entitled, within six clear days from the time when the general nature of the charge is communicated to him, to claim that he be tried by a civil court instead of being tried by court martial, and where such a claim is made, the offence shall not be tried by court martial.
That undoubtedly gives distinct relief from the stringency of the present law in regard to civilians.
– So far as offences under the War Precautions Act are concerned, we are absolutely under military law at the present time.
– That is so to the limited extent to which I have referred, and the Government are to be congratulated on the terms of sub-clause 6 of clause 4, which I have just read. I am prepared to follow the Government in supporting the Bill as it stands, believing that its terms are wide, but not in the circumstances excessive. It is difficult, for two reasons, to understand the hubbub that has arisen over this clause. In the first place, the most extreme powers in other directions have readily been granted to the Government merely because they have asked for them and urged that they are necessary. I hold it to be the duty of the whole Parliament to be guided by the Government in a time of emergency such as the present undoubtedly is. If the Government say that these extreme powers are necessary, we must support them. Similar powers, with the exception of the small provision to which exception is now being taken in certain quarters, have already been granted, without any hesitation, to the Government. Some of the powers with which they have been armed are more extreme than is that against which some honorable members are now protesting. In the next place, it is bitterly complained that this provision means the suspension of trial by jury. That is by no means a new situation. The suspension of trial °y Jury is incidental to all great emergencies such as the present, and, whilst it has been urged by some of my honorable friends opposite that it is not shown that emergencies have arisen to justify the insertion of sub-clause 8, I would emphasize the point that we have to consider, not what has already arisen, but what is likely to arise. If the Government are to be trusted in regard to the extreme powers which have been readily granted to them, I ask why should they not be trusted with this power, more especially since we have their assurance that it will be exercised only in the most extreme circumstances? Another point is that, whether it be embodied in the Bill or not, the Government have the inherent or emergency power to proclaim martial law subject to subsequent indemnity.
– But they would have to take the responsibility of such a proclamation.
– And they would be unworthy of their positions if they were not prepared to accept it, as other Governments have done. In asking for this power, therefore, it will be seen that they are not seeking for anything that is new or extreme. They are asking merely for something that may become necessary in circumstances which at the present moment cannot be exactly foreseen.
– If they have this inherent power, quite apart from the Bill, why go to the trouble of providing for it in the Bill itself ?
– I think that the Government are acting fairly to Parliament in coming forward as they do with this proposal. They are following the House of Lords in the introduction of this measure of relief, but they have also to follow the British Parliament in providing that the granting of that relief shall not act detrimentally where they find that such an emergency has arisen as to render it unwise to permit the exercise of the option for which subclause 6 provides. I urge that there is nothing novel in what the Government are asking, and that there is, therefore, really no cause for any heat. The honorable member for Bourke spoke with the most intense and unreasonable heat. He displayed a degree of warmth which I should be sorry to see coming from this side in the discussion of a non-party measure, such as this undoubtedly is, having for its object the safety of the Commonwealth. So far as it is concerned, we are all united in the common interest, in securing the common safety. These are times when we have to trust the Government. They have come down to the House, and have said frankly that, in their opinion, it is wise that this power should be given them. There is no justification, therefore, for refusing their request. We should yield to the suggestion of the Government, and grant them a power which they declare to be essential to the safety of the Commonwealth.
– While this is not a measure the discussion of which should give rise to any warmth, I cannot help thinking that it has for its object the enabling of a military domination to cast working men into gaol without trial. I am satisfied that it is not the product of a Labour man’s brain. It is rather the adopted child of a Labour man, who stands in the position of -godfather to it. The assurance that the Governor-General in Council can issue a proclamation sounds well to the outside chap who has never been inside. The world consists of two classes - one little class inside, and one immense class outside, trying to look into where the others are. We are asked to pass a Bill, and put its administration into the hands of a military class that has no thought for investigation or for intellectual examination, but whose sole thought is simply, “ Put his pot on.”
– The “ gilt-spurred roosters “ will have you now.
– I am not afraid of them. There never was a law yet that had any effect on men that were not poor. Laws are always made to destroy the rights and privileges of the poor. The clause under discussion is dangerous, because it takes away the rights of the masses. Under the Freeman’s Bureau Act, passed in America in 1860, and only abolished by Cleveland in 1895, the military men could put in gaol on a charge of treason any person they thought was not acting quite rightly. We had an experience last week in our Courts when the military department attempted to override the declaration of the Chief Justice of Victoria who had demanded the production of certain papers.
– Your Minister it was who did that.
– Never mind the Minister. My experience during twenty-five years in Australia is that, except here and there, Ministers are simply automatic rubber stamps.
– You claimed that you were not.
– I say nothing about myself. I say that here and there are exceptions. Is it possible, as the honorable member , for Bourke says, that Labour Ministers, who have sprung from the people, the struggling masses, are today prepared to destroy the liberty of their creators? I trust that the Committee will not lay the dead hand of militarism upon the spirit of liberty in the human race. I have seen all this business in the southern States of America. I know what the military gentlemen mean. What are military departments all the world over but a preposterous collection of effeminate frills and inefficient economic spendthrifts? We are told that “ Truth is stranger than fiction.” When I read this Bill and examine it, I realize that its god-father is Labour, but that its real father is a military, gilt-spurred rooster. The Labour party was founded upon justice; there was to be no compromise with “boodle” or the devil; yet here we have a Bill for the death of Labour and the exaltation of “ boodle “; because “ boodle “ requires no laws - “ she “ is a law unto herself.
– It is nearly as bad as the Norton-Griffiths business.
– Even that business has some hopes of salvation ; but this means perpetual damnation to the workers.
– The Bill will operate only so long as the war lasts.
– Where is the invasion? There is not even an invasion of rabbits. The German ships have gone from the ocean; the German flag has gone.
– The German ships would not have gone if we had taken the machinery out of our cruisers, as you desired.
– Yes, I admit that I wished to have the guns taken out in times of peace, and to load the” vessels with provisions and travellers, and bands, and send them round the world, and then when a war was on to put them back to fight again. I am sorry such a Bill has been introduced by Labour. When I read it carefully, I said, “ This is not Labour; this must be my friend the honorable member for Flinders “ ; and we are told that we are to thank the House of Lords for the only safeguard it contains. The House of Lords has done wonders. I would even vote to give it a new lease of life. One thing can be said about an English lord: he has in him a spirit of fair play and justice ; and if we are to have an aristocracy, give me am aristocracy of blood, instead of ah aristocracy of “ boodle.”
– Ou r own House of Lords has passed this Bill. It comes from the Senate.
– But one senator told me that they must have been asleep. Suspicion never lets caution go to sleep. The Minister of Defence is a conscientious man ; but the man has not been born who can go down to that “ shivoo “ and take charge as operator, unless he is more or less guided by the spirit of the roosters inside. I shall vote against sub-clause 8.
– Was this Bill before the Caucus ?
– Do honorable members opposite think that it would have got here if it had been before the Caucus? They talk of emergency and panic legislation; they say there is a scare on. Yet the British are winning all along the line ; the French are winning, and the Dardanelles are gone - virtually.
– I wish they were.
– Well, they will be in a day or two. Remember that John Bull has ruled the world for a thousand years. The world takes its laws from him. The common law of England is the common law of Canada,. America, and Australia.
– This law is taken from John Bull.
– But John Bull is at the seat of war. We are thousands of miles away. There are no reasons for introducing such a Bill asthis, except scare and fright. It is a serious matter to allow any law to limit the civil power and increase the power of the military. Military men have no ideas of justice. When in the United States I had six brothers in the Northern Army and one in the Southern. These men were brought up Christians, and went to Sunday school, where they heard the Word of God preached; yet they would have shot their own father after the war. Christianity is forgotten once men get on the battlefield. At the battle of Gettysburg, at Round Hill, I had brothers fighting on both sides. I have a relative at the front now, and he told me that after his manoeuvres round the meadows here he was ready to shoot anything. You cannot give power like this to military men who stick at naught. The other day I was travelling home in a second class carriage, where there was a working man who had two sons at the war. He had some drink in him, and had something to say. The military would have sent men down to arrest him because of what he said. When a working man gets into gaol he cannot afford to hire a lawyer for his defence. If the Government is prosecuting it secures the ablest counsel in the world. The working man has no chance once they get the “ nippers “ on him ; and yet here is a Labour party, with a majority in this House, submitting a proposal like this! I hope their names will not go down in history execrated as Jeffreys’ name was in England. After 250 years he is still hated because he prostituted himself to the Courts and sold himself. Herod still lives. His lineal descendants are to be found in Australia, America, and everywhere else.
– If I were the Assistant Minister of Defence I would not stand that.
– I am not referring to the Assistant Minister of Defence. He is an able Minister, and has done his duty faithfully. I am only talking about ourselves - we of the Labour party. I am warning all my Christian brothers not to be caught by bird-lime.
– I want to congratulate the honorable member for Darwin upon his resuscitation. It is so long since we heard from him that we were beginning to think that he had been reduced to the condition of his friends in the Senate when this Bill wasgoing through. I have already stated that I, for one, like all on this side of the House, am going to support the Government in any measure, no matter how severe or drastic it may be, which they, after full consideration, think necessary to meet the present emergency. But it would be a very great mistake if this House were to pass anything, even in an emergency, under a misapprehension, and I think there is likely to be a very serious misapprehension with regard to the effect of this measure if the statement made a short time ago by the Assistant Minister of Defence is permitted to pass without criticism. He states that we are how living under martial law.
– No; I did not say “ martial law.”
– Military law; I beg the honorable gentleman’s pardon - and that this Bill will only have the effect of relieving us from some of the effects of that military law.
– And give other powers as well.
– Other powers with regard to that particular matter; but I want to point out that that statement is likely to leave a totally false impression as to the effect of this Bill. It. is true that in the Bill passed six months ago there was a provision authorizing trials by courts martial of people who broke certain very limited regulations, and it was well, then, that that power of establishing trial by court martial should be limited to the breach of the narrow regulations considered necessary for carrying on ordinary military operations.
– I said against the Defence Act or the War Precautions Act. I distinctly stated that.
– The honorable member’s speech left undoubtedly a wrong impression as to the effects of this Bill, and it is just as well that the Committee should understand it. The regulations as to which there was to be tried by courts martial under the existing law were regulations as to those matters mentioned in paragraphs a, b, and c, of clause 2, which, put briefly, were intended to prevent persons communicating with the enemy, to secure the safety of means of communication, and to prevent the spread of reports likely to cause disaffection. It is quitetrue that, rightly or wrongly, this Parliament gave power six months ago making these particular offences, or offences created under regulations relating to these particular matters, the subject of court martial. But I would point out their extremely narrow and particular application.
– What about the death penalty?
– It mightbe passed in cases of communicating withthe enemy with a view of aiding; theenemy against ourselves. But that is notthe point I am dealing with. I am pointing out that, under the present law, trial by courts martial is limited to that particular class of offence against regulations dealing directly with the military operations for the defence of the Commonwealth. The existing law gives the widest power possible for making regulations with regard to the safety of the Commonwealth. But, though the power of making regulations is greater under the existing law, the class of regulation, breaches of which were made the subject of military law, is extremely narrow. By proposed new section 6 it is set forth that 5’ Any person who contravenes, or fails to <comply with, any provision or regulation or order made in pursuance of this Act shall be guilty of an offence against this Act” and that “An offence against this Act “ - which includes the breach of any regulation, or the failure to comply with any regulation of any kind relating to military operations under this Act - ‘ ‘ may be prosecuted, either summarily or upon indictment, or, if the regulations so provide, by court martial.” So that the extension of the operation of military law here is an extension of what might be called actual military offences - because they were offences which interfered directly with the carrying out of military obligation - to everything which the Governor-General in Council, which means the Government of the day, or the Military or Naval Board to which the power may be allocated, may in their wisdom consider necessary for the safety of the Commonwealth. That is why I say that the Assistant Minister of Defence, in claiming that this Bill goes no further than the existing Act, and that it really gives relief from one of its provisions, makes a statement which, if not criticised, might leave the Committee under a totally false impression of what the meaning of the measure really is. I cannot imagine any immediate probability of the necessity to exercise these great powers, but the Government have decided - I presume after mature consideration - that they may be necessary
– No, they have not said that yet.
– I presume i.that they would not have introduced the Bill if. they had not come to such a decision. :Before the Bill passes, I should like the Prime Minister, or the Assistant
Minister of Defence, to definitely and clearly state that after mature consideration these vast powers are, in the opinion of the Government, necessary for the safety of the Commonwealth. If they said that, I for one should be prepared to shut my eyes to every other consideration, and I think honorable members on both sides should be prepared to do so. But it is’ of no use to minimize the effect of the provisions of this Bill. We should recognise exactly what they are. If the Government will seriously assert that the powers asked for are necessary, I am satisfied that the Committee will support them.
– I do not take part in the discussion of legal questions if I can avoid doing so. I like to have the opinion of the legal members of the Committee before coming to a decision upon such questions. But if there is one duty which, more than another, devolves upon members of Parliament, it is to see that the liberties of the people are not taken away. When a law is proposed which interferes with the liberties of the people, reasons should be given for asking us to support it. No reasons have so far been given to justify me in voting for the clause now under consideration. If the Government have any sound reasons for the introduction of this measure, we, as representatives of the people, should be told what they are. We are expected to be able to justify every vote that we give in this House, and if I can help it I never give a vote which I cannot justify to my constituents. I am not prepared to give the military authorities power over civilians. Where the operation of the civil law is sufficient, I shall do all in my power to see that it is appealed to rather than- that we should appeal to a military Court. No one has so far justified this proposal to supersede the civil by a military law. The Assistant Minister of Defence has told us that we are now virtually under military control, and if that be so, what larger powers do the Government require? Ministers appear to have taken no one into their confidence, and give no reasons for the introduction of this measure. The legal ability of the honorable member for Flinders is admitted, but he has been unable to give reasons for granting the powers asked for under this Bill. I am very loth to assist in the passage of such a measure. . Before it is passed, the Government should definitely state that it is absolutely necessary that they should possess larger powers than they have at the present time.
– It may be found that the powers proposed to be conferred upon courts martial under this Bill go further even than the honorable member for Flinders has stated. The honorable gentleman pointed to the extended powers for making regulations provided by the Bill. If honorable members will look at the principal Act they will find that under it two classes of offences were created. Under that Act, penalties are provided for breaches of regulations under section 4. Then, under section 5, there is power for a whole series of orders to be published in the Gazette making provision for any matters which appear necessary and expedient with a view to the public safety and defence of the Commonwealth. Any breach of the regulations is constituted an offence. Under the Act the only penalty for such offences is £100 or six months’ imprisonment, or both. This Bill proposes to change that entirely, and provides for new penalties extending not only to breaches of the regulations, but also to breaches of the orders to which I have referred. Under the proposed new section 6, it is provided that -
Any person who contravenes or fails to com ply with any provision of any regulation- that is under section 4 of the principal Act- or order- that is under section 5 of the principal Act- made in pursuance of this Act, shall be guilty of an offence against this Act.
I would ask the Attorney-General whether the proposed new section does not make a very large extension of the area of cases that may be tried by court martial.
– Does the honorable gentleman say that the maximum penalty for an offence under the principal Act is £100 or six months’imprisonment?
– I say that the principal Act provides that any person contravening or failing to comply with any regulation or order made in pursuance of the Act shall be guilty of an offence, the penalty for which is £100 or six months’ imprisonment, or both. Under the original Act, these cases under section 5 are not triable by courts martial.
– The honorable gentleman is quite wrong.
– No, I am not wrong.. I ask the Attorney-General to look at the proposed new section 6 as set out in. clause 4 of this Bill.
– If the honorable member says that six months’ imprisonment is the maximum penalty he is wrong.
– What I say is that any offences against section 5 of the principal Act cannot at present be tried by court martial. The offenders are only liable to a penalty of £100, or to six months’ imprisonment, or to both, and any offences under that section must be tried before a civil tribunal. But under proposed new section 6 (1) it is provided that -
Any person who contravenes, or fails to comply with, any provision of any regulation or order made in pursuance of this Act, shall be guilty of an offence against this Act. (2.) An offence against this Act may be prose cuted either summarily or upon indictment, or if the regulations so provide by court martial, but an offender shall not be liable to be punished more than once in respect of the same offence.
That seems to imply that the Government propose to make offences under section 5 of the principal Act punishable in the same manner as offences under section 4.
– What does the honorable member say is the penalty to which an offender is liable under section 4 ?
– It is fixed by clause 6 of the Bill.
– What is it?
– Do not both sections extend the area of cases which may be. tried by court martial ? Of course, if the Attorney-General assures me that these powers are necessary, I shall have nothing more to say upon it. Then under proposed new sub-section 8 provision is made for the suspension of the right of trial by jury. That is an exceedingly drastic power. Is it not possible to make clearer what is meant by the term “ Special military emergency “ ? I can quite understand that if Australia were invaded, and a person committed one of these offences, the country, by virtue of that invasion, would be in such a disturbed state that it would be impossible to get a civil tribunal to try the accused. In such circumstances it would be necessary to set up a tribunal of a military character to try the offender. That would be absolutely essential for the preservation of the entire community.
– We should require to dispense summary justice.
– Exactly. But under this proposed new sub-section, it is intended to take powers of a very wide character. Would it not be possible to state in the proclamation the urgent reasons which justify the Minister in taking such action ? Then the country would be informed of the serious causes which exist for it.
– That might be injudicious or inexpedient.
– It might. But I would point out that under our Defence Act the Governor-General may in time of war, by proclamation, call out the Citizen Forces, or any part thereof, for active service. The law also provides that “ the proclamation shall state the reason for calling out the Forces.”
– That is an entirely different matter.
– If a similar course were adopted here there would be a restraining influence on the Executive which would prevent it from acting hastily as the result of panic. After the proclamation has been issued, the Executive should be under an obligation, immediately Parliament meets, to report to it the effect of the suspension of the right of trial by jury, and the reasons which prompted such action.
– I quite agree with that.
– The Executive must have a very wide discretion in this matter, but we ought to have some assurance that that discretion will not be exercised without strong reasons, which should be laid before Parliament at the earliest possible moment.
– I wish to make one or two observations by way of answer to some of the criticisms which have been directed against this Bill. First, I shall address myself to the effect of the measure upon trial under the civil law. The Assistant Minister of Defence has very properly pointed out that under the law as it now stands trial by court martial is the method prescribed for dealing with the offences which are setout in section 4 of the principal Act. I desire honorable members to follow me whilst I run through the offences for which at the present time a man is liable to be tried by court martial. In doing so I shall quote from the War Precautions Act which was brought into operation to deal with conditions arising out of this war, and which will continue in force as long as the war lasts, but no longer. Section 4 of the principal Act provides -
The Governor-General may make regulations for securing the public safety and the defence of the Commonwealth and for conferring such powers and imposing such duties as he thinks fit, with reference thereto, upon the Naval Board and the Military Board, and the members of the Naval and Military Forces of the Commonwealth.
I desire honorable members to look at that provision, because it supplies a complete answer to the statement that under this Bill we propose to endow the military authorities with more power than they possess at present. The War Precautions Act which is, and has been, in force for six months, specially clothes the Naval and Military Boards with very wide and drastic powers. It provides that -
The regulations may authorize the trial by courts martial and punishment of persons contravening any of the provisions of such regulations, designed -
I commend those last words to the honorable member for Bourke, who was so much concerned at an early hour in the evening as to the probable effects of this prohibition. Now I come to the regulations which set forth in detail the offences for which trial by court martial now obtains -
No person shall without the permission of the competent naval or military authority make any photograph, sketch, plan, model or other representation of any naval or military work. …
No matter how primitive or ill-designed it might be, if any person does that, he is liable to be tried by court martial. Here again the regulations state -
No person shall without lawful authority injure or tamper or interfere with any wire or other apparatus for transmitting telegraphic or telephonic messages or any apparatus or contrivance intended for or capable of being used for signalling apparatus.
If the honorable member, when he gets home, cuts his telephone wire with a pair of scissors, or pulls it rudely from its place, he may be tried by court martial in the morning. If he abrases it with a file lie may be tried by court martial. All this might have happened to him at any time during these last six months. Then, again -
No person shall in any area which may be prescribed by order of the competent naval or military authority keep or have in his possession any carrier or homing pigeons unless he has obtained from some person designated by the competent naval or military authority a permit for the purpose.
I f he does that he is liable to be tried by court martial in the morning. I am telling tho honorable member this so that he may sleep peacefully to-night, knowing what may be coming to him in the morning if he commits any of these offences. Nothing is said about canaries, so probably no evil would befall him if he kept those birds. Further, the regulations state -
Np person shall by the discharge of firearms or otherwise endanger the safety of any of His Majesty’s forces. . . .
I f he does this he will he liable to be tried by court martial. Further, the regulations set out -
No person shall by word of mouth or in writing spread reports likely to cause disaffection or alarm among any of His Majesty’s forces. . . .
And the regulations state further -
No person shall . . . light any fire or show any light on any hill within such radius from any defended harbor or proclaimed area as may be specified in the order.
The competent naval or military authority at any defended harbor or proclaimed area may by order direct that all lights other than lights not visible from the outside of any house shall be kept extinguished between such hours and within such area as may be specified. …
Regulation 20 provides -
The competent naval or military authority . may by order require every person within any area specified in the order to remain within doors between such hours as may be specified. . .
I I is also provided that -
Where the behaviour of any person is such us to give reasonable grounds for suspecting i hat he has acted or is acting or is about to net in u manner prejudicial to the public safety or the defence of the Commonwealth, the competent naval or military authority may by order direct him to cease to reside in any area.
I f he does that he is liable to be tried by court martial. Of all the offences none din be stated in more general terms than those I have quoted, for all of which the person, committing them is liable to he tried by court martini. It is also set out that -
If any person with the object of obtaining any information for the purpose of communicating it to the enemy . . tampers with any pass, permit or other document, or uses or has in his possession any such forged, altered or irregular pass, permit or document . . .’ he shall be guilty of a contravention of these regulations and may be tried and punished accordingly. . . .
Any person who attempts to commit or procures, aids or abets the commission of any act prohibited by the foregoing special regulation? or harbours any person whom he knows or has reasonable grounds for supposing to have acted in contravention of such regulations, shall be deemed to have acted in contravention of the regulations in like manner as if he had himself committed the act.
If a person does that he is liable to trial by court martial, and to be sentenced to imprisonment for life or any less punishment. I cannot help pointing out this fact, and contrasting the demeanour of the honorable member for Bourke under this cataclysm of offences, which, by a happy chance, he has missed committing during the last six months, with his fear in reference to the danger which he states exists under the present Bill. There is not, literally speaking, one offence under the new Bill for which he was not liable under the present law, and for every one of these trial by court martial was provided. This Bill does not create any new offences, though it deals more in detail with the means by which we may prevent intercourse with the enemy. For instance, regulations may be made to prevent the transmission abroad, except through the post, of any letter, letter-card, written communication, or newspaper. This is very proper and necessary. Of my own knowledge, I know the ancient practice of circulating information by handhas been adopted to evade the law with regard to communicating with the enemy. I speak with a positive authority on this subject. These attempts to circumvent the law have caused no small trouble to the Government. So much for the argument that the Bill creates new offences. It does nothing of the sort. Now as to the nature of the tribunal. The honorable member for Darling Downs was of the opinion that under section 5 of the principal Act the offences which are there set out to be tried by civil law are now to be tried by court martial; but I think if he looks at the section, he will find that they are offences which fall under a different category to those in the amending Act. Under the amending Act we are amplifying the powers, and stating more particularly the means by which the safety of the Commonwealth can be most effectively maintained. But we are not making offences triable by military tribunals under this Bill that were triable by civil Courts under the Act. Moreover, we are providing in sub-clause 6 of clause 4 provision for trial by civil law. I have listened attentively to the honorable member for Bourke and the honorable member for Darwin concerning the necessity for maintaining the civil law. I have said over and over again that I think it would be a calamity if the civil law were abrogated, for it is upon the foundation of the civil law that our liberties rest. This Bill does not threaten the supremacy of the civil law. It is fashioned to deal with unique circumstances which threaten our very existence. It proposes in an hour of grave national peril to take such steps as reasonable men would take in the circumstances. It does not propose to take any unreasonable steps, nor unnecessary ones.
I leave the matter with this remark, that during the time the tremendous powers conferred by the War Precautions Act have been in the hands of the Government, there has not been, as my colleague has pointed out, one instance of an abuse of power. I remember one man whose case was brought before me by the honorable and learned member for Angas, but he cannot say that I did not personally investigate the case.
– I can say that you promised to do so, but I cannot say whether you did or not; I was waiting for weeks to hear.
– I do not know what the honorable and learned member has been waiting for. At any rate, I settled the case, and the man was informed within, I think, a week or ten days after the honorable and learned gentleman first wrote to me.
– The case has been settled for months.
– He was arrested on the 12th December, and he was not released for a month.
– The honorable and learned member may be referring to a different man.
– I am referring to the case of the clergyman. You never informed me that you had looked into his case, though I had written to both Departments several times. You never issued the necessary proclamation under section 5.
– I will not get into an argument with the honorable and learned gentleman across the table, but I will show him the file to-morrow. The powers at the disposal of the Government at present are insufficient, and it is necessary they should be increased.
There is only one point about which a serious difference of opinion exists, and that is in regard to sub-clause 8. The honorable and learned member for Flinders asked the Government to give a positive assurance that the powers under this subclause are necessary. If the honorable member requires an assurance that they are necessary at this juncture, and for immediate use, I cannot give that assurance. The power is not necessary at this moment, as there is no special emergency. But at any moment this emergency may arise, and the powers will then certainly be required. With regard to the powers in the other clauses of the Bill, I say that they are required now, but with regard to that power I cannot say so. But while the positive assurance desired by the honorable and learned member cannot be given, the emergency may arise at any moment, and the power would then be necessary. And it must not be forgotten that if sub-clause 8 were expunged we would still have the power. It is better, surely, for Parliament to assent to it in plain terms which limit the power rather than that we should exercise the unfettered right of all Governments in an hour of national peril to proclaim martial law.
– There is no power to proclaim martial law.
– That ‘ is the position I put to honorable members, and I submit that it is one which ought to weigh with them. If the Committee think that we ought not to have this power, let them strike it out. It will not embarrass us now, and it cannot embarrass the Government seriously at any time, because we not only recognise the responsibility, but are prepared to do what we conceive to be necessary, and to come to the House subsequently and explain the reason for our action. All that I say is that the provision sets out in statutory form powers necessary for this Government to deal with a great national emergency. I do not think that for a national emergency the clause goes too far. It is quite unsuited to any other circumstance. It will never be used except as a last resort in a desperate emergency, and this may be very near at hand. We may look abroad. The honorable member for Darwin said that the war is 12,000 miles away. That is true; but why? The war is 12,000 miles away because every day we live thousands of men die horrible deaths and endure untold sufferings to keep it away. Some of my honorable friends speak as though we were men living in a glass case, over whom Providence watched daily and hourly, and from the beginning had decreed that we alone amongst all the nations of the earth were to be free from trouble, distress, and privation. But we live sheltered under the glorious valour of our soldiers, who, by prodigies of bravery, have kept the foe at bay. But no one is to say when these tremendous pent-up forces of destruction may burst the barrier which now hedges them about, and then the war will not be 12,000 miles away, but at our very doors. Then we shall hear no voice croaking in the marshes about the stern edge of military law, but rather we shall regret with all the power we have in us, and with all the bitterness that comes from unavailing sorrow, that we were not more prepared to meet the ruthless invader.
I have nothing to say further regarding the clause, except that while I cannot give an assurance that this power is required at the present juncture, I know of no way in which it could be hedged about with greater precautions. More than that I cannot say, except to repeat that what we conceive to be a special military emergency would be so regarded by ninetynine men out of every hundred in this country; one about which there could be no argument, one about which there would be no necessity to publish a proclamation in the Gazette, or to state reasons on the floor of this House. When a great conflagration is raging, people do not ask whether there is a fire there or not; but with one accord they rush to put it out.It is to deal with a great national conflagration that sub-clause 8 of this clause is designed.
– I should not have risen only that, perhaps rather hurriedly, I interrupted the honorable member for Bourke when he was on his feet. I thought that he had an asphyxiating bomb which he was going to discharge. I think that the honorable gentleman must find now that the condition of trepidation and fear into which he worked himself was one in which he ought to have been for months, judging from the position explained by the AttorneyGeneral. What I think all honorable members should be prepared to do at a time like this is to trust the Government. A few months ago both parties sought the confidence of the people, and the war was certainly one of the most important issues. The Labour party got the confidence of the country, and the Liberal party, one and all of us, said that in all matters in respect to which the Government would have to take responsibility, in respect to which they felt that there was a cause for grave alarm or an urgent necessity for taking any action, our party would be behind them to a man. I rose to assure the Government that I do not think that any member of the Liberal party has withdrawn from that position; and it was only a feeling that the honorable member for Bourke was unduly severe on his leader which prompted me to make the interjection, and, by the way, I am rather sorry now that I interrupted such a speech.
– It is in Hansard.
– We shall have it out afterwards. The Government are to be congratulated, I think - even so advanced a Radical Government - on taking the lead in this matter from that good old democratic body, the House of Lords. It has put the Government on the right track, and so long as they follow the Imperial Government I do not think that there is any honorable member on this side who will be afraid to trust them.
.- I rise, first of all, to deprecate the action of the honorable member for Wannon - that peculiarly irresponsible and craven attitude of the person who is afraid to express an opinion at the very time when strength of expression and opinion is most necessary. I congratulate the honorable member for Bourke for speaking the thing that was in him. The honorable member for Wannon, who has exhausted almost the English language in denunciation of the Labour party at one time or other, sits in his place in a time of national crisis and says, “ Trust the Government, and trust them absolutely.” I say “ Criticise the Government,” and if we can show them to what extent, and where, they are wrong, let us offer them a little honest criticism. Just as I did in connexion with party politics before, so I do now. I think that the duty resting upon us to discuss matters of public interest is a more pressing and Urgent duty now than it was before the war broke out. The honorable member for Wannon says, “ Trust the Government.” The Government, on the other hand, say, “ Trust the Imperial Parliament.” The Imperial Parliament say, “ Trust our Government,” and the Imperial Government say, “ Let us trust the Committee in regard to foreign affairs.” It is this policy of secrecy, this policy of altogether too much trustfulness and too little candour, which causes a great deal of trouble in connexion with international politics. I will do myself the honour of opposing the clause as far as I can.
– Sub-clause 8.
– I will oppose more than sub-clause 8 in this clause. I am opposed, and will buttress my opposition with my vote, to the trial of civilians by martial law. We have not reached a condition of affairs under which that is necessary, and the AttorneyGeneral has not suggested that we have done so. I hope that we shall never reach that condition, and I am sorry that Labour Ministers are making themselves the mouthpieces of military power in this country. I am not here to denounce the military. I recognise the calibre and strength of our Military Forces, on which we may congratulate ourselves. But it is inherent in all bodies who possess responsibility to seek constantly for untrammelled power, and that is what the military authority here is doing to-day.It seeks to be invested with unlimited power. No doubt, it thinks that that is right, and in the public interest, but I say that it is not in thepublic interest.
Some of the powers asked for in the Bill are to be exercised largely in secret, and their exercise has been found by centuries of experience to be detrimental sooner or later to the country in which they are exercised. There is a safeguard, which has been mercilessly ridiculed by the honorable member for Bourke. British subjects are to have the right to be tried by the civil power if they choose. This right is not given to those who are not British subjects. I object to that exception. If there be a tittle of truth in what we have been told about the treatment of our people by the enemy, there is the more reason why we should try to set a standard worthy of ourselves Let us extend the protection of just government to all who are within our boundaries, even though they may not be British subjects. It must be remembered that at the present time naturalization is forbidden to many of these people, though they are eager to obtain letters of naturalization. What have they done that they should be deprived of the protection of our laws? If they commit crimes, try them for them, but do not make them a class apart. Do not treat them as pariahs, at whom others may look askance as unworthy of the protection of the law. Whatever provisions apply to British subjects should be extended to non-naturalized persons in our midst. If we do not extend that protection to them, we cannot complain of the treatment given to British subjects who are within German territory. What do we say when we read of invidious and cruel treatment being meted out to British subjects in Germany ? Let us set a standard which will be fair to every decent citizen in Australia, whether he be a British subject or not. Proposed new sub-section 8 reads -
In the event of any special military emergency arising out of the present war the GovernorGeneral may by proclamation forthwith suspend the operation of sub-section 6 of this section, either generally or as respects any area specified in the proclamation, without prejudice, however, to any proceedings under this section which may be then pending in any civil court.
– Hear, hear !
– A man may be shot and in his grave, but the Prime Minister thinks that it is a sufficient safeguard to say that this shall be done without prejudice to any proceedings then pending in any civil Court.
– The Bill does hot say that.
– That might happen under the regulations which may be made underthe Bill.
– Not unless the Government were recreant to its trust.
– Must these regulations be laid on the table of the House?
– Under what authority? .
– There is a general authority.
– They would come under the Rules Publication Act.
– Must the orders which are to be published in the Commonwealth Gazette be laid on the table?
– Not orders.
– They will be; that is the point.
– That is not the point.
– This is a nice little family squabble!
– Whatever may be the virtue of this saving clause, I am wholly opposed to making civilians subject to military law. The measure has been put forward as a declaration of strength. Its object is to invest the Government with extraordinary powers in an extraordinary situation. I say that the Bill is a declaration of weakness, a hint to the outside world that there is need for it. It is more than a suggestion that there is such disaffection or trouble within Australia as to make legislation of this kind necessary or desirable.
– The words which the honorable member has read only repeat a provision of the principal Act, which has been in force for six months.
– The honorable member for Darling Downs has very fairly pointed out the extent to which this measure goes beyond the principal Act
– It does not go beyond it in this instance.
– The Assistant Minister of Defence has told us that, without any Act, the Government can exercise the powers for which Ministers ask, and that such powers have already been exercised. Apparently we are being asked to crystallize them in an Act of Parliament. I think it my duty to object to what is proposed to be done. Notwithstanding the interjection of the Leader of the Opposition, I feel sure that my remarks will be accepted in the spirit in which they have been made; that is, as prompted by the desire to express an honest opinion, so that whatever may be done may not be done in silence and trepidation, and in fear of the truth, but as the result of the free expression of views on both sides.
– I cannot understand the warmth of honorable members in discussing this question. There is no citizen of Australia who would desire that such legislation should be passed unless it were necessary ; but we are in a state of war, although we perhaps do not feel it. Honorable members speak about dangers, but they know nothing of them.
– The Attorney-General has said that there is no immediate necessity for this provision.
– That may be so ; but if an Executive elected on the broadest democratic principles cannot be trusted with a power of this character, such legislation should never be passed at all.
– That is so as regards the regulations; but even if the law be wrong, the Executive is bound to carry it out.
– That is not so. Subclause 8 is the only one in question, because every other provision in the Bill gives larger powers, wider safeguards, and a greater security to civilians. Sub-clause 8 is inserted to meet emergencies that may confront us before the war is over, at a time when Parliament is not in session, and with such suddenness as would prevent Parliament being convened to grant the necessary powers. Traitors may be at our doors and lending a hand to the enemy, and we will be powerless to touch them.
– The Minister says you have full power to do that under martial law.
– The Government have many powers, but they have not the particular power which would enable them to act in that way. The honorable member for Batman spoke of the atrocities committed by the enemy. Do honorable members think that an enemy who behaves in that way in Europe would act differently if he came to Australia ?
– I do not wish to be understood to have made any accusation.
– I acquit every honorable member of any desire to do other than protect the rights of individuals and to guard civilians and also the military and naval authorities. And I will be always with them in that endeavour. But there are occasions in the history of nations when we have to delegate to a certain number of persons powers that we would not under any other circumstances delegate at all, and such powers should be delegated for a limited period and under prescribed conditions. If the limitations are not in the Bill, I expect them to be in, and the AttorneyGeneral expects likewise. Every authority given by the Executive must be laid on the table of Parliament, and every order of any kind whatsoever must be submitted in the same way, and provision will be made accordingly.
– Suppose the House is not sitting?
– Honorable members must trust somebody; that is the point. If honorable members will trust nobody, we cannot expect to win .in a fight like that in which we are engaged to-day.
– I will not trust the military authorities.
– I agree with the honorable member. If the Attorney-General were to state that the military authorities will have power to incarcerate men and impose the death penalty without him and myself individually consenting, I would not support the proposal. But the Attorney-General tells me that no such power is conferred by sub-clause 8, that before any one can be deprived of his life the Executive must determine the matter.
– Undoubtedly. I have given that assurance in your behalf an<? in my own behalf.
– Does the Prime Minister see every regulation?
– I see every regulation of the kind referred to here. Every regulation affecting penal servitude and the death sentence is seen by me. The AttorneyGeneral has said that that safeguard is contained in the Bill, and on his authority I repeat the statement.
– It is not in the Bill, but what I said was that I repeated the assurance given by the Prime Minister and by me when discussing the principal Act, that no death penalty or sentence of imprisonment for life would be consummated without being submitted to me, as representing the civil power, and agreed to by the Executive.
– If honorable members are in doubt about the approval of the Executive being necessary, would the AttorneyGeneral have any objection to inserting such a provision in the Bill ?
– I think it would be a mistake to put it in the Bill.
– The honorable member for Macquarie interjects that by this Bill we shall delegate the power of life and death to others without the Executive having a reviewing power.
– The Bill says you may do that.
– I say that is not so as regards civilians, and as regards soldiers their liability will be no greater under this Bill than it is now.
– It is with civilians that we are dealing. Let not honorable members confuse civilians with soldiers. Is there a man who knows anything of war, or who ever wore a uniform, who will say that in a state of war we should restrict the power of the authorities? No war could be carried on with any such restriction. If a man goes to war to fight for his country, he must accept risks, and one risk is in having in time of action to submit to the determining authority on the spot.
– This Bill puts civilians in the same category as soldiers.
– The Attorney-General says they are not in the same category.
– I have already said that, under sub-clause 6, all civilians except aliens will be tried by a civil Court. If honorable members wish to extend that right to the alien, so far as I am concerned, there is no objection.
– Honorable members will see that this is a contingent provision to meet any exceptional emergency that may arise.
– I have already explained that if sub-clause 8 were not included the position would be exactly the same, except that our power would be absolutely unlimited.
– There is no question that this is a modifying Bill. And the question now being discussed is whether sub-clause 8 shall be retained, as certain honorable members’ are of opinion that it gives to the Executive a dangerous power that may be misused.
– Not to the Executive, but to the military.
– Suppose we do not put in sub-clause 8, that will not take away the power.
– The power is there now, and the Bill modifies the present law to a considerable extent.
– If the sub-clause is taken out it will place a greater responsibility on the Executive.
– I disagree with the honorable member, and I am sure that any legal member opposite would express the same opinion that I have. I think this is a power that ought to be in the hands of the Executive; and I have no doubt that the Attorney-General will insert words to limit it to the Executive if that be necessary. As a matter of fact, I would entrust this power at the present time with the worst public men I have ever known in Australia. I may be right or wrong, but no one can accuse me of, at any time, giving away the liberties and rights of the people in the expression of their views in any language they please. But this provision is to meet a state of affairs that might arise as suddenly as did the great crisis in Europe. In a day, or, at any rate, within a week, the whole of Europe, from a state of peace, was plunged into one of the greatest outbursts of bloodshed ever known in the history of the earth ; and we sit here calmly ns though all this would end with the struggle in Europe. Of course I hope that that may be so ; but, at any rate, the Executive Government here and elsewhere should have the power to protect the people. I go further, and, on behalf of the Government, say that I am prepared to bring this legislation up for review before the end of the session.
– The objection is only as to sub-clause 8.
– Sub-clause 8 merely modifies the existing law in definite language. No ordinary civil eases will be tried by martial law, and every civilian will be assured by the Bill of reaching a civil Court. I ask the AttorneyGeneral whether that is not so?
– Certainly. I am perfectly willing to insert words providing that if sub-clause 8 is put in force, sentences, before being given effect to, shall be submitted to the Executive.
– Why not have trial by an ordinary Court?
– If we were not in a state of war, that would be the right thing to do; but the Bill is intended to meet a state of war. A clause might be drafted providing that the Bill shall not remain in operation one day after peace is declared.
– The Bill itself provides that it shall be operative only during the war.
– And any sensible Government would have a provision of that kind made. I do not ask any one to give up his personal ideas, because this is not a party matter; but I do say that, in a crisis like this, the end of which no one can see, somebody must be trusted, and the only people capable of acting at once for the protection of the public interest are the Executive of the Commonwealth Government.
– What amazes me in this discussion is the belated discoveries made by my honorable friends opposite. For the last six months there has been in force an Act much more stringent than this Bill, and we have never heard a word of criticism.
– Ask the honorable member for Angas. All the lawyers on your side disagree with you.
– I do not believe there is a legal member on this side who will not say with me that this Bill creates no new crimes.
– What did the honorable member for Flinders say?
– What I understood the honorable member for Flinders to say was what is an undoubted fact, namely, that this Bill does extend the power to make regulations, but only that.
– And what did the honorable member for Darling Downs say?
– I do not know what that honorable member did or did not say. As I read the Bill, it is ameliorative in its character and intention. The drastic powers, of which honorable members opposite are complaining, have been in operation for six months. There is no doubt that the intention of the Bill, following Imperial legislation, is to tone down the proposals as they affect civilians, and to give them rights which do not exist under the Act.
– Imperial legislation has never drawn any regard from me I
– The honorable member, with all his flippancy, may go down on his knees and be thankful for what the Imperial Government are doing for him to-day.
– That is nol The point; I am talking about British legislation.
– I know what the honorable member is talking about, and the outstanding fact remains that, but for what the Imperial Government are doing, he would not be in this free Parliament to-night.
– I am talking about Imperial legislative enactments.
– I am tired of these diatribes against what others are trying to do in this crisis.
There is another remark I should like to make; and from this I cannot dissociate the Government. One would imagine that all our military officers were a set of predatory villains, whose only object is to rob civilians of their rights.
– No one suggested such a thing.
– I believe that our high officials in the Military Department are as anxious for, and as careful of, the rights of civilians as are members of this House.
– I do not think so.
– It is time that the Government said a word for their own Military Department. They are responsible for it; they are administering it, and claim to have set it uo and to have organized it on its present basis. They have had in the country the full credit for it. Why do they not stand up to their responsibilities here and now?
– Are they not doing so?
– They have not a good word to say at present for the Military Department. It seems to be a thing to be avoided.
– Name one who has said that.
– The whole tone of the debate on the part of honorable members opposite has been that the Military Department is not to bo trusted.
– Name one who has said so.
– I am speaking of the tone of the debate, and my right honorable friend is included in my comment. He has promised to do anything that may be suggested to modify the influence of militarism in connexion with the prosecution of the war. It is not so much any specific instance as the general tone of the debate of which I am speaking.
– I challenge the right honorable member.
– For whatever the Military Department is doing, or nor, doing, my right honorable friend must take the full responsibility.
– And, unlike the Leader of the Opposition, I do.
– Ask these military officers what they thought of the late Government, and what they think of the present Administration ?
– I know what they thought of our Government, am what they think of the present one.
– They were very pleased with the change.
– Hear, hear; they now get their own way.
– I hope this is not going to degenerate into a squabble.
– I am going to express my opinion if I may.
I shall support the Government in this matter. I feel it tuy duty in the present emergency not to criticise the Government too much. I do not know why my honorable friends opposite laugh. The more I look at this clause the more difficult I find it to account for the opposition shown to it. Sub-clause 8 provides that, in the event of any special military emergency arising out of the war, the Governor-General - not the military authorities, of whom honorable members opposite are afraid; not the men who are controlling the preparations for the defence of this country, and who are taking their fair share of the defence of the Empire, but the Prime Minister and his colleagues - may by proclamation set aside the trial of civilians by jury. Do my honorable friends opposite believe that the Government which they support would deliberately set aside the important principle of trial by jury, except for some overpowering, overmastering national reason ? I cannot conceive that to be possible. It would seem that I have a better opinion of the leaders of the party opposite than have their supporters.
– Where is there in this Bill any provision which assures us that the civil authorities will bo consulted before the sentence; of a court martial is carried out?
– I do not know that there is any such provision in the Bill.
– We have the assurance of the Attorney-General.
– What I do know is that the Bill gives the GovernorGeneral power to make regulations dealing with these matters; and, so far as I understand it, it does not extend in any way the power of courts martial. As I read it, civilians may not be tried by court martial for any of the ordinary offences set out in the Bill; only in some case of special military emergency is there to be power to try civilians by court martial. I am afraid that my honorable friends opposite are confusing a court martial with, trialunder military law.
– What is the difference?
– The difference is that military law is enacted by this Parliament, and that . under it certain privileges are conferred upon even a soldier, let alone a civilian ; whereas martial law, as I understand it, means the abrogation of all other law - the absence oflaw. This Bill creates no additional power in that respect. The very intention and purpose of the Bill is to restrict that power. We are brought back, therefore, to a consideration of the question of whether the Executive of the day can be trusted to deal with a special military emergency. That is the whole case in a nutshell. If honorable members cannot trust the Government, then they will vote against the Bill. I believe it is our duty to support the Government of the day, no matter from which side of the House they come, to deal with special military emergencies, holding them at the same time to their responsibilities in framing and administering these regulations. I am going to support the Government in this time of great national disaster. If ever there was a war in connexion with which exceptional powers should repose in a Government, it is that now beingwaged, andwaged with every attribute of barbarism, so far as the enemy is concerned. There are spies all over the Empire. Every kind of espionage is taking place, and the Government must have extraor dinary powers that can be visited swiftly and summarily upon those found to be offending in connexion with the prosecution of the war. We are fighting this war, amongst other things, for the right to fight decently.
– And against military despotism.
– Exactly; and we may fight successfully against a military despotism of the kind which sets aside all international laws and usages only by having some plenary power resting in the Executive here by which they may come swiftly upon the enemy whenever the occasion shall demand it.
– But we need not delegate that power, not in regard to civilians, at any rate.
– I suppose that if the honorable member were to find a spy trying to assist the enemy to land in this country he would wish to set up a civil Court to try him.
– I wouldshoot him myself.
– I am sure that any honorable member would shoot him. This power is being extended to meet these great emergencies only, and it is not being placed in the hands of the military. If that were the case, there might be some point in what honorable members are saving; but, as a matter of fact, the power is being placed in the hands of the Executive.
– And they put it in the hands of the military.
– Then it cornea to this - that the honorable member cannot trust his Government to put into the hands of the military the power of dealing with special military emergencies. I can trust the Government - this Government or any other Government. The only sensible course full-bearded men can take in times of national emergency is to have in our Executive men in whom we can safely repose these powers, trusting that they will be dealt with in accordance with the intelligence of a free community.
– As I believe that the objections which have been urged against sub-clause 8 arise only out of a misunderstanding of what the provision is intended to do, I have drafted an amendment which will insure that before sentence is imposed on civilians it must be confirmed by the Executive of the country. As an effect ofsub-clause 8, civilians might come before military tribunals, and I understand the gravamen of the objection is to the trial and sentence of civilians by military tribunals. The amendment will safeguard the rights of civilians in such a case. It reads -
Provided that while such proclamation is in force any sentence passed by a court martial upon a person to whom sub-section 6 of this section applies shall be referred to the Governor-General for confirmation.
That should be ample assurance.
– That is nothing but what is already in the Bill.
– If it is not ample assurance to honorable members, all I have to say is this: I have listened in my time to some very stirring attacks on officials charged with the administration of the law of this country, but I have never previously listened to an attack - not from this side of the Chamber, at any rate - upon the capacity and the willingness of members of the Labour party to give fair play to any one, whether he be civilian or soldier. This proviso I suggest places in the Bill the assurance which I gave when introducing the principal Act; which has been observed for six months, and which was intended to continue; oven without statutory sanction.
– It will only extend section 98 of the Defence Act. As a matter of fact, I think that all sentences of courts martial are subject to confirmation by the Governor-General under Letters Patent.
– Section 1 of the War Precautions Act incorporates the measure with the Defence Act, and section 86 of that Act refers all sentences to the GovernorGeneral.
– If the amendment I have read is adopted, we shall make assurance doubly sure. Section 86 of the Defence Act may be held not to apply to courts martial of civilians. Probably section 98, dealing with death sentences, does bo, too. The Defence Act applies generally to members of the Defence Forces. We are dealing here with persons who are not members of the Defence Forces.
– Theregulations provide that a man arrested by a unit becomes subject to the laws applicable to the unit. For instance, take regulation 23.
– I am perfectly satisfied that the amendment I have outlined will meet the case. It does not matter two straws whether it duplicates the law or not. It may be that this amendment will be a duplication. It may be that the Defence Act would apply; but I think the safest course is to make the amendment I have outlined, which guarantees that no sentences imposed upon civilians who may be sentenced under sub-clause 8 shall be effective unless and until such sentences have been referred to the Governor-General for confirmation, and, I have added, mitigation, or remission.
– I desire to move an amendment to sub-clause 8, to add after the word “ Court” the words - “Provided that while such proclamation is in force, any sentence passed by court martial upon a person to whom sub-section 6 of this section applies, shall be referred to the GovernorGeneral for confirmation, mitigation, or remission.”
– If that amendment is moved, it will preclude all prior amendments.
House adjourned at 10.50 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 28 April 1915, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1915/19150428_reps_6_76/>.