6th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m.,. and read prayers.
Mr. GREENE presented a petition from the Dairy Factories Association of New South Wales, Northern Rivers branch, in reference to the Necessary Commodities Commission Act of New South Wales and. the action of the AttorneyGeneral of that State in. prohibiting the export of butter from New South Wales, and praying that such steps may bo taken as will assure the petitioners in the free exercise of their rights under the Constitution Act, and that Inter-State free trade may be preserved in its entirety, and moved -
That the petition be received and read.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Petition received, and read.
– Honorable members who present petitions and move that they be read should be careful to see beforehand that they are in order. The honorable member for Richmond having moved that his petition be received and read, I naturally concluded that it was in order, but I now find that it is not in order, although it has been received by the House.
– Will you say, sir, for the guidance of honorable members, why it is not in order?
– It is addressed to the Senate and the House of Representatives, which should preclude us from receiving it, although we have received it. I ask the honorable member for Richmond to see that the matter is rectified.
Bill received from, the Senate without amendment.
– The following despatch has been received from the Secretary of State for the Colonies in con- . nexion with the resolution passed by the
House of Representatives on the 12th May last relating to the sinking of the Lusitania: -
Commonwealth of Australia. No. 334.
Downing-street, 20th May, 1915.
I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of Your Excellency’s telegram of 14th May, and to request you to inform your Ministers that His Majesty’s Government much appreciate the sentiments of sympathy with the relatives of those lost in the sinking of the Lusitania which are expressed in the resolution of the Senate and House of Representatives.
The resolution has been published in the press of this country.
I have the honour to be, sir, Your most obedient, humble servant,
Governor-General His Excellency the Right Honorable Sir B. Munro Ferguson, G.C.M.G., &c, &c, &c.
– I have to announce to the House that the honorable member for Bass has been sworn in as Minister for the Navy, to administer the Department of the Navy just created.
– I ask the First Lord of the Australian Admiralty if, at the outset of his administration, he will organize the Naval Department from the top downwards; if he will standardize efficiency instead of inefficiency; and if he will endeavour-
– The honorable member may ask only one question at a time.
– I desire to know from the Minister if he will make his Department efficient, so that from the start it will carry out the work that we want it to do?
– I shall endeavour to do the best possible for the Government and for the people of the Commonwealth.
– I wish to know from the Prime Minister whether an Assistant Minister of Defence has been appointed, and that he, like the Minister of Defence, has a seat in the Senate? Will the Prime Minister say why this has been done, and will he explain the relations of the Minister for the Navy with the Defence Department?
– The Minister of Defence and the Minister for the Navy have agreed to consult and to work together as one man so long as they are in charge of
Defence matters, ‘ although each will be directly responsible for his particular Department. The Minister for the Navy will be fully in touch with all that the Minister of Defence does, and the Minister of Defence will be in touch with all that he does, so that in their respective positions they may be able to provide for the defence of Australia better than was possible when the Minister for the Navy was not a Minister of State.
– Then they have pooled their duties and responsibilities ?
– When we have spoken about two Ministers of Defence we have always understood that they would work in conjunction as has been suggested. Assistant Ministers are available to assist all Departments. That is, I think, as it should be.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether there is any truth in the statement appearing in the public press to-day, that it is the intention of the Government to float a Commonwealth loan at an early date?
– That is a question which rather anticipates events, but perhaps it may be just as well to state now that the Government have decided to seek authority to float a Commonwealth loan in Australia for war purposes only. The amount of the loan will be £20,000,000. It will be . issued at par, and will carry 4§ per cent, interest. Parliament will be asked to give authority for the raising of this loan without delay, I hope tomorrow, and I prefer to leave other particulars and discussion until then.
– Will it be possible to invest small amounts of, say, £10?
– Yes, the minimum will be £10 as regards bonds, and £100 as regards inscribed stock. I prefer not to anticipate anything beyond announcing the fact that the loan will be for war purposes only, and that it will be placed on the market as authorized in instalments.
– In view of the fact that a large number of people are suffering great anxiety in respect of ‘ the men on board the ships of the Australian Navy, particularly in the case of the Pioneer, no letters having been received for over four months, will the Minister for the Navy give some assurance to the people of Australia that as soon as possible communication will be established between Australia and those vessels ?
– Yes, I will give that assurance.
– Can the Minister for the Navy state what action has been taken as the outcome of the request recently made by a deputation from Newcastle, that the work of constructing the Naval Base at Port Stephens should be undertaken without delay?.
– In reply to the honorable member, I may state that on Monday of this week that question came before the Naval Board. It was exhaustively gone into, and the Board proposed to advise the Government to take a certain action with regard to that port.
– In view of the fact that the proposed war loan is to carry interest at the rate of 4£ per cent., and in view of the action of the Victorian State Savings Bank as announced this morning in increasing the interest on Savings Bank deposits, will the Prime Minister suggest to the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank “ the desirability of increasing the present rate of interest beyond 3 per cent. 1
– Under present circumstances, I do not think it is desirable to take any action or to advise any action as suggested. It is our duty to persevere in what we consider necessary for the defence of the realm in the directions that have already been indicated.
– May I ask the Prime Minister if he can inform the House to-day whether Australian contributions to the Imperial war loan are liable for payment of the British income tax?
– I have not looked the matter up, but I .am reasonably sure that Australian contributions are liable for British income tax.
– In view of Sir George Turner’s promise, when Premier of Victoria, that no persons should be imprisoned for being poor, and in view of the fact that magistrates are daily sending old-age pensioners to gaol on the charge of being without visible means of support, will the honorable Treasurer give instructions to his Department to inform the Clerks of Courts in Victoria that all old-age pensioners have, by right of their pensions, visible means of support?
– I do not know that I can do what the honorable member suggests, but I am quite in sympathy with his view. Pensioners ought not to be permitted to suffer simply because of the limitation of their income. They are receiving an income, and cannot be considered destitute.
– I have been told that a great many farmers cannot enter into ‘contracts incidental to the export of their next season’s wheat crop owing to the fact that the proclamation against the export of wheat still remains operative. In view of the good prospects regarding the harvest, will the Minister of Trade and Customs consider the advisability of removing that proclamation, so that necessary business contracts may be entered into?
– The honorable member informed me before the House met of his intention to ask this question. The point he raises has not been raised before. The proclamation, which was issued on the 23rd September last, provides that no wheat shall be exported without the permission of the Minister of Trade and Customs, before whom each application for export has to be laid. I have not the slightest doubt, however, in view of the harvest prospects, that when there is , llc danger that the export of wheat will affect the price of flour and bread here, the proclamation will be removed. “We are not, however, in that position to-day. We are still importing wheat.
– I should like to ask the Attorney-General whether his attention has been directed to the claim put for- ward by Mr. Hutchinson, M.L.A., Minister of Agriculture for the State of Victoria, wherein he asserted, the power of the State Government to prevent the export of meat from Victoria. Has his attention also been directed to the finding of the recent Victorian Royal Commission on the third charge, which assumes that the State has power to control exports? If he has, will the Attorney-General express his opinion as to whether the power to prohibit exports rests with the Commonwealth or with the State?
– The honorable gentleman asks me a question which’ involves the interpretation of our powers under the Constitution. It is not the practice for the Attorney-General to offer opinions on matters of law in this relation. I can. say, however, that it is well-settled that the powers over export and import are exclusively vested in the Commonwealth. That does not admit of any room for difference of opinion. I have not noted the newspaper paragraph to which the honorable member particularly refers, but my answer to him, generally, must be taken to be that, with regard to exports and imports, these powers are beyond doubt vested exclusively in the Commonwealth.
– May I ask the Prime Minister whether he is correctly reported in the press as stating that the proposed loan of £5,000,000 is for ordinary purposes, such as railways, Federal Capital, &c. ? If that is so, may we take it that the Labour party .have abandoned the non-borrowing item of their programme?
– In reply to the honorable member for Parkes I might ask whether he has abandoned his duties in this House, since I have already stated that the loan is to be one of £20,000,000 and is proposed only for war purposes.
– I desire to ask the Minister for the Navy how many transports have been used by the Commonwealth in conveying troops to the front; how many are now available, and whether they will, be used not only for the conveyance of troops, but for the carriage of produce, for the Allies ?
– There is no secrecy about the matter. I understand that since the outbreak of war, about eighty-five ships have been employed as transports by the Commonwealth. Many of these vessels have carried produce to England, and by way of freights have earned nearly £1,000,000.
– Commonwealth steamers ?
– Troopships and prize ships that have been taken from the enemy. This income will be a set-off against the demurrage that we shall have to pay. I may be permitted to add, for the information of honorable members, that, as Minister controlling Commonwealth transports, it is my intention to give the Attorney-General every assistance in arranging for the export of wheat, wool, &c, during the forthcoming season. With that end in view, I am looking intothe matter, together- with the Director of Transports, Captain Clarkson.
– Will the Prime Minister state whether it is the intention of the Government to introduce a Bill to amend the War Pensions Act, and, if so, when?.
– Yes, immediately.
Sick Leave Certificates - Wounded Soldiers: Hospital Reports - Broadmeadows Camp: Food Supply - Deceased Soldiers’ Deferred Pay - Pensions of Lieutenants - Hospital and Medical Services, Egypt: Alleged Friction
– Is the Minister for the Navy aware that under a military regulation soldiers who fall sick at Seymour are transferred to the base hospital at Melbourne, and that they are compelled by this regulation, when they are well enough, to return to Seymour in order to obtain a sick leave certificate! Does the Minister know why such certificates should not be issued here, so as to render it unnecessary for these men to make the return journey to Seymour!
– I know of no reason, but shall ascertain the position and inform the right honorable gentleman.
– Seeing that the relatives of a large number of our men who have been wounded at the front are unable to ascertain their, whereabouts, will the Minister for the Navy endeavour to introduce a system of reporting from the hospitals, so as to make clear where the wounded are being treated?
– I shall be very pleased to confer with the Minister of Defence with the object of carrying out the honorable member’s suggestion.
– Has the Minister for the Navy learned that there is a shortage of necessary food at the Broadmeadows Camp, and that although men have com. plained they can obtain no redress?
– This is the first I have heard of such a thing. I do not hesitate to say that the food supplied t» the Australian troops, and especially to those in the concentration camps, is “absolutely the best in the world. So far as I am aware there is no shortage.
– I can give the Minister a letter in which it is stated that there is:
– Will the Minister for the Navy state whether accrued p*v due to soldiers who fall at the front will be paid over immediately to their relatives? r Mr. JENSEN. - The pay of a soldier who dies while on active service is continued for two months after his death, and a pension is then provided for those dependent upon him. The rule is that the deferred PaY shall be handed over as quickly as possible.
– .According to an announcement appearing in the daily papers, the dependents of a lieutenant who dies while on active service are entitled to a pension of £91 per annum. 1 have had brought before me, however, two cases where the relatives of lieutenants who have died at the front have been informed by the Commissioner of Pensions that the pensions to which they are entitled are only £65 and £54 per annum respectively. In view of the advertisement in the daily newspapers, the parents of these deceased officers are naturally troubled over the matter. Will the Minister for the Navy have inquiries made into it?
– Has the attention of the Minister for the Navy been drawn to a statement which appeared in the Age newspaper, some days ago, as to serious mismanagement or at least grave friction existing in Egypt in connexion with .the hospitals and medical service there ? If so, will he be good enough to give the matter his closest attention?
– Yes; I shall do so.
CUSTOMS TARIFF. Mr. W. ELLIOT JOHNSON. - In view of the commercial disturbance and uncertainty existing as a result of the delay, past, present, and prospective, in dealing with the new Tariff, will the Minister of Trade and Customs withdraw the new Tariff schedule until a more opportune occasion presents itself for dealing with the question? Mr. TUDOR.- No.
– In view of the projected registration of the adult males and wealth of Australia, and the employment of a very large number of temporary clerks in connexion with that work, I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether the Government intend to insist upon these temporary clerks being members of registered unions? If so, will the same condition be imposed with regard to those who are volunteering their services for this work as a contribution to the war funds of the Commonwealth ?
– The question of registration will be dealt with in a Bill to be submitted to Parliament. There will then be ample opportunity for the discussion of the whole matter, and I hope honorable members will avail themselves of it to submit any ideas they may have in their minds.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to - That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act relating to War Census.
Bill presented and read a first time.
– Has the attention of the Attorney-General been’ called to a newspaper report that the Government of New South Wales proposes to take a census of all the men between the ages of eighteen and sixty; “if so, is such action being taken under instructions from the Commonwealth Government ?
– I did not see the newspaper paragraph referred to, but I understand that such a census is being taken. If this work is to be done at all it must be done uniformly throughout Australia, and with the machinery which we shall ask the House to agree to to-day. Of course, any co-operation on the part of the States will be very acceptable, but I do not think that the Commonwealth can be expected to postpone consideration of the War Census Bill, or to deal with this important matter in a piecemeal fashion.
– In view of the very small salaries and allowances paid to persons who conduct small postoffices in the country, and also the high cost of living, will the Postmaster-General acquaint the House with the reasons for the reduction of such allowances throughout Australia as from 1st January of this year ?
– I have previously stated that no salaries are paid to the persons conducting allowance post-offices in the country districts, and, consequently, there can have been no reductions. Those people are paid according to the business they transact, ‘ and with the rise or fall of the business the allowance is increased or decreased. I intend to inquire as to whether the present basis of payment is a fair one, but so far there has been no alteration in the system.
– As the Constitution provides that there shall be a session of Parliament in each year, and as there has been no session this year, the present sitting being a continuation of the 1914 session, and also as the Tariff will lapse if the Parliament is prorogued before itis dealt with, does the Prime Minister propose to hold another session at the end of this year after the taking of the referenda on the 11th December?
– I am in grave doubt as’ to whether the honorable member’s constitutional opinion is correct, that there must be a session of the Parliament each year, but, assuming it to be so, he need have no apprehension as to the holding of a session during the current year.
– I should like, to ask the Minister for the Navy. whether questions relating to defence, other than Naval Defence, should in future be addressed to the Minister representing the Minister of Defence or to the Minister for the Navy ?
– I think that all such questions will be attended to if they are addressed to the Minister for the Navy.
– Will the Prime Minister say whether a report has been received from the Electoral Commission ? If so, when is it likely to be laid on the table ?
– A report has been presented, and it will be laid on the table almost immediately.
– Will the Prime Minister inform the House whether it is proposed to issue an Executive minute defining the respective duties of the Minister of Defence and the Minister for the Navy?
– I think that such a de-. finition is undesirable at the present time for the obvious reason that both Ministers are acting in full co-operation in defence matters.
– The question is to whom business should be addressed.
– There will be no complaint if matters have to be passed on from one Minister to the other in the usual way. We might define the duties of the two Ministers to-day, and subsequently find it necessary to redefine them. As the two Departments are co-ordinated, I think it would be better to continue as at present, without attempting a precise definition of the respective spheres of the two Ministers.
– I desire to congratulate the honorable member for Bass on li is appointment as Minister for the Navy; and I desire to ask him, now that we have a responsible Minister of Defence in this House, whether he will give honorable members an opportunity to vote, as I know a majority are waiting to vote, in favour of once more establishing a kilted regiment?
EXPEDITIONARY FORCES. Allowance to Dependants - Notification of Death - Country Recruiting - Liverpool Camp. ‘ Mr. McGRATH. - I have had brought under my notice a case of a woman, with three or four children, whose brother has gone to the front, and who, under the regulations, cannot be given a separation allowance. T think that the regulationsought to be altered in this regard; and 1 ask the Minister for the Navy whether he will take steps to have some amendment made so that such cases may be met ?
– If the honorable member will bring the matter under my notice when the Pensions Bill is before the House, I shall be very pleased to consider it.
– I desire to know from the Minister for the Navy what is the rule or regulation with regard to the notification of death in the cases of our soldiers overseas. The Minister knows that people here are anxious to administer certain estates, and, as I understand, they cannot do so because they have no proof of death.
– The rule is that, as soon as we are notified of a death, the nearest relatives are informed, and the death is announced in the Gazette. That is all I know about it.
– But that is not proof of death.
– I- understand that once the notification appears in the Gazette it is taken as proof.
– Cannot something be done to prevent an injustice to country recruits ? Many of these young men have to come to Melbourne for final examination, only to find themselves rejected. This injustice ought to be obviated, and provision made for recruits to be finally examined in the country.
– In many places in the country the final examination is made, but it is impossible to have a doctor in every town or village.
– Why not a doctor in each Federal electorate?
– There is something in that suggestion, and I shall discuss it with the Minister of Defence.
– Will the Minister for the Navy also suggest to the Minister of Defence that there ought to be a recruiting office where men may be permanently enlisted at Lismore, on the northern rivers? In the lists of recruiting offices published the other day, there is no office in the part of Australia I have mentioned.
– I shall bring the matter under the notice of the Minister of
– In view of the many complaints about the in sanitary condition of Liverpool Camp, and the number of deaths there from pneumonia, would it be possible for the Government to suggest to Mr. Justice Rich that he make inquiries as to the de- si rability of removing the camp to a healthier spot?
– And make inquiries on the ground.
– Quite so.
– The Department does not admit that there is such a state of things as described at Liverpool Camp. In fact, according to the death statistics, the Liverpool Camp is third on the list out of six States.
– And you decline to make any inquiry?
– Before making final arrangements in regard to the freights for the forward harvest, will the Prime Minister obtain the advice of all the leading men connected with the business?
– I can inform the House and the country that already the legal member of the Cabinet, the Minister for the Navy, and the Minister of Defence have had this matter under consideration for some considerable time. Every person who can give information is required to do so, and action has already been taken. But this is a matter the determination of which cannot be announced until the proper time.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister, in the temporary absence of the Attorney-General, whether the War Census Bill is intended, directly or indirectly, to compel Australians to go on foreign service?
– We cannot take a census for that purpose under the Bill. The measure will come before the House later on, and honorable members will then see the nature of the questions.
– Will you give me a direct answer ?
– The direct answer is that, without direct statutory authority, we cannot compel any one to serve out- side Australia; and, happily, we do not need to.
– That is not an answer. Am I to take it that that is not intended?
– It is not only not intended, but is not provided in the Bill.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
With reference to Provisional Regulation, Statutory Rules 1915, No. 71, dealing with the subject of preference to unionists for temporary employment in the Public Service, which was placed on the table on 1.9th May, 1915, when is it proposed to enact the regulation in accordance with section 3 of the Utiles Publication Act 1903 ?
– After the period of sixty days prescribed by the Rules Publication Act has expired.
On 30th June the honorable member for Perth asked the following questions : -
I am now in a position to answer questions 1 and 3. I am advised that all applicants are registered at the Public Service Inspector’s office, but preference is given to unionists, other things being equal, in the selection by chief officers of Departments for employment; also that the secretary of the Clerks Union does visit Federal offices, but that it is not known that he has threatened any clerk. I am unable to give a reply to question No. 2.
Mi-. FLEMING asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
Is it a fact that there are approximately 40,000 enemy subjects within the Commonwealth ?
Is it n. fact that less than 3,000 of these are interned ?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
Of these persons only those enumerated in column A (unnaturalized) are definitely known to be enemy subjects. Some of the persons enumerated in column B (naturalized as British subjects) are also enemy subjects, since both Germany and Austria-Hungary permit their subjects, in certain circumstances, to retain their nationality, although naturalized abroad; but information as to the number of naturalized subjects who remain enemy subjects is known only to the enemy Governments. Naturalized subjects, even if known to be also enemy subjects, are not liable to internment unless there is definite evidence that they are disaffected or disloyal.
In addition to the persons enumerated above, certain persons born in Australia of German and Austrian parents are enemy subjects, although, by British law, they are also naturalborn British subjects. In this class are the children born in Australia of unnaturalized Germans and Austrians, and of naturalized Germans and Austrians, who, in spite of their naturalization, remained enemy subjects. Several such cases have come to the notice of the Defence Department, but there is no means of estimating the number of such persons in the Commonwealth .
The number of unnaturalized German and Austrian males of all ages at the census of 3rd April, 1011, appears, from the above statement, to have been 6,728; the number of military age (18 to 45) was probably from 3,000 to 4,000.
Complete information is not available as to the number of enemy subjects in Australia at the outbreak of the war: but from such information as exists of oversea migration, deaths, and naturalizations of’ persons of German birth since the date of the census, it is not thought that the number of enemy subjects has increased since the census of April, 1911.
Information is not available as to Turkish subjects.
In addition, about 4,700 German and Austrian subjects (most of whom are males) report weekly to the police. All of these are under surveillance, and are liable to be interned if found, or suspected, to be dangerous.
The total number of German and Austrian subjects (excluding naturalized and naturalborn subjects) who have been accounted for is. therefore, about 6,550, and most of them are males.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether it is understood in Australia that Australian contributions to the Imperial loan will be subject to the British income tax?
asked the Prime Min ister, upon notice -
– Inquiry is being made of the Premiers of all States, preliminary to a reply being given to the several questions.
Dentists - Houses - Rejections on
Account of Defective Teeth - Randwick Asylum
asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
Whether it is the intention of the Defence Department to appoint dentists in all local camps, and include one on each troopship leaving Australia?
– The services of dentists are available for State Commandants when required, either at camps or hospitals. It is not considered advisable to send dentists to all camps, or to place them on transports.
asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice-
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
Privately-owned horses which may not be required for service will be returned to their owners.
asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
The acceptance or rejection of a recruit on account of loss or decay of teeth will depend on the consideration of the relative position of the sound teeth, and the physical condition of the recruit; thus, the loss of many teeth in a man of indifferent constitution would point to rejection, whilst a robust recruit who has lost an equal number might be accepted. Too much attention cannot be. paid to this latter point.
Subject to the recruit being in sound physical health, and up to standards, and possessing teeth as under, he will be regarded as “ fit “ -
Complete upper set, with serviceable lower natural teeth. In all cases where false teeth are allowed as substitute, the plate must be well fitting and permanent. Temporary plates fitted within three months of extraction will not be passed.
Lower plates may be considered as an advantage, but complete lower sets will not be considered sufficient. 3. Yes.
Mr. GREENE (for Mr. Kelly) asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
Is it a fact that the State Government has announced its intention of resuming the properties and moneys of the institution on the ground that the above offer of the” asylum is held by the Defence Department to be inadequate?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
The following papers were presented: - Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Memorandum by the Public Service Commissioner in connexion with the Award made by the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration on a plaint submitted by the Postal Sorters Union of Australia.
Commonwealth Electoral Law and Administration - Report from the Royal Commission.
Lands Acquisition Act - Laud acquired under, at - Beaufort, Victoria - For Defence purposes.
Congwarra, Federal Territory - For
Federal Capital purposes.
Coogee, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.
Kalgoorlie, Western Australia - For Railway purposes.
Kingoonya, South Australia - For Rail- ‘ way purposes.
La Perouse, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.
Midland Junction, Western Australia - For Defence purposes.
North Sydney, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.
Toowong, Queensland - For Postal purposes.
Premiers’ Conference, held at Sydney, May, 1915 - Report of the Resolutions, Proceedings, ‘and Debates; together with Appendices. Public Service Act - Appointment of W. J. Cole, as Draughtsman, Professional Division, Class E, Public Works Branch, Victoria. Promotions of C. L. Quinlivan, H. R. Waterman, E. J. Farrell, and H. P. Ponton, as Clerks, 4th Class. P. D. Kewish, as Assistant, Class E, Professional Division, Analyst’s Branch, Central Staff. A. C. Threlfall as Inspector and Sub-Collector, 1st Class, Clerical Division, South Australia. J. Banks, as Inspector, 1st Class, Landing Branch, New South Wales. Regulations Amended (Provisional) Statutory Rules 1915, No. 110. Public Works Committee Act - Regulations (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1915, No. 111.
Quarantine Act -
Regulations (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1915, No. 88.
Regulation Amended (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1915, No. 90.
– I move - That this Bill be now read a second time.
This measure arises out of, and finds its justification in, the tremendous conflict in which Australia, as part of the Empire, is now engaged. Its object is the organization of the forces of the country so that we may put forth the greatest effort of which we are capable. It provides for the registration of our resources both in men and material. The Bill does not contemplate conscription, nor is a measure to legalize conscription necessary so far as service within Australia is concerned. I wish to make this plain at the outset, because in the minds of some is the fear that we may resort to a method of carrying on this great struggle altogether foreign to the spirit which has animated theBritish nation for many hundreds of years. I do not believe conscription is necessary. I do not say that the future may not hold within it possibilities which may shatter our present conceptions of what is necessary, for no man can say what this frightful wax may yet involve. But this Bill has not been introduced with a view to conscription. Conscription is not contemplated, and, in any case, as I have already pointed out, no legislation is necessary so far as the defence of the country is concerned, because the Defence Act provides for the calling-out of every able-bodied man between eighteen and sixty years of age for that purpose. The future may hold in store events which may shatter every preconceived idea of what is proper to be done, and grind to powder every political and economic principle that we conceive to be sacred and eternal. This measure, however, is to be viewed entirely apart from such possibilities. It is to be regarded as a means for more effectively waging the present conflict upon the principle of voluntary service. That is the purpose of this Bill. The present position is serious enough. We are not to anticipate that it will become worse, but we cannot continue our present efforts to deal with the situation as it now exists, at the rate at which we are proceeding, without organization of our forces. To draw from the vitals of society its best and most promising citizens, whose sublime spirit animates them to proffer their services, and to hurl them into the fighting line without regard to their obligations to their dependants or the industrial requirements of the community, is a short way to national suicide. The measure contemplates the organization of our forces for the better waging of the conflict upon the principles of voluntary military service which has been accepted by the nation both here and in Great Britain. I want now to put before honorable members very briefly - because it is not speeches we want, but actions - some of the purposes for which this Act is urgently required. I do not know whether honorable members have given any thought to what this war is costing us. I do not speak on this subject with any knowledge I have gained as a member of the Go vernment; I speak as a citizen. It is very obvious that we are now depleting our financial resources at a rate that makes existing methods of supply totally inadequate. Yet it is abundantly clear also that we must not only continue,. but increase, our present rate of expenditure. We cannot hope to lessen it. Rather, as time goes on, it is almost inevitable that we shall have to enormously increase it. We have now over 100,000 men under arms. I believe it is a fair computation that for every additional man who goes to the front the expenditure of this country is increased’ by not much less than 25s. per day. I repeat that I am not giving these figures as a result of careful calculation, but putting before honorable members an estimate from which they may roughly gather how we stand. Here, then, we have a population of 5,000,000 people called upon to bear, not only the cost of maintaining over 100,000 fighting men, but also the cost of the Navy and of the additional expenditure for defence purposes in Australia. The burden of this war presses very heavily upon this community, and it is clear that we can only hope to bear the burden by proper organization of our forces. We must mobilize our resources. The task before us is no light one, but if it were ten times as heavy we should have to face it. We have, for example, to meet this year’s war expenditure - in addition to our normal expenditure - as far as possible, out of the wealth created by the people - out of the produce of Australia. Last year we were confronted by a failure of our wheat crop, and other produce, and there have been heavy losses of stock. But we have reason to hope that next season will produce a record harvest. But what is the harvest without the reaper ? I do not know whether honorable members have given thought to the colossal nature of this one problem - the gathering and marketing of this harvest - yet to talk about fighting, without the means to finance your fighting force is idle. We have, therefore, to evolve such an organization of our forces as will enable us to garner our harvest, to market it, to get the money, in order that we may carry on this war. When I speak of harvest, I do not merely allude to the wheat harvest. I mean the general produce of Australia; but I speak of the wheat because it is rolling on and on - and will have to be dealt with and .got away. Many suggestions have been made on this matter. In these days people are most fecund of suggestion. Numberless ideas have been put forward to meet the occasion, but it is clear that there is only one effective way of doing so. First of all, we must ascertain our resources, and, secondly, we must use our resources in a scientific and effective way. I reject entirely the suggestion that we can handle the harvest, or deal with any of these problems, by the employment of boy labour or by female labour.
– They can do a good deal.
– I do not say that in any carping spirit or with a desire to in any way belittle the motive that has prompted our friends to make the suggestions that have been made on this point. But agriculture nowadays has become an organized industry. It involves the use and care of intricate machinery; it involves the employment of highly-skilled labour; a,nd in our efforts to organize, in our effort to continue this campaign, we must pay due regard to the industrial requirements of the country, so that we may direct our forces in such a manner as to keep at the front every fighting man who volunteers and is fit for service, yet not impair the forces necessary to carry on the industries of Australia. By these means, and these only, can we hope to carry on this struggle to the bitter end. This, then, is the problem: To maintain our fighting forces at the front at the highest possible pitch of efficiency and to so organize the industrial resources of this country as to enable those industries that have direct relation to the war - such as the manufacture of munitions, warlike equipment, and material, and the production of all those things that are necessary to maintain the efficiency of our fighting forces, as well as those general industries by which alone we can finance the war to do what is required. Without organization of these forces, Australia will be unable to do her part in this great contest. For we must not rely on outside help. “For the first time in her history .Australia is called upon to maintain herself. As time goes on, and the rigours of this struggle increase, and <the pressure upon the Allies becomes greater, the more will Australia have to look to herself to see the struggle through. I emphasize this point. It is one to which I fear honorable members have not paid sufficient regard. The organized forces of this: country, then, must be dealt with so that the war shall be prosecuted with the utmost vigour, and in such a way as to effect the least possible disturbance to production in Australia.
This Bill deals not only with men, but’ with wealth. We propose to marshal all our resources, and as patriotism calls for sacrifice, that sacrifice must fall equally on all sections of society. There is the sacrifice of life which every man who is physically fit, and who volunteers, must be prepared to make. There is also the sacrifice of wealth, and it is abundantly clear that those who have wealth in this country must be called upon to make sacrifices which in normal times could not be expected of them. Sacrifices must be made by all sections of society - not only by the individual, but by property also.
I come now to the machinery by which we hope to give effect to the proposals contained in this measure. I must first of all ask honorable members to consider the colossal nature of this undertaking. It is a task that has hitherto not been attempted in. this country, nor, so far as I am aware, in any other, though Great Britain is now contemplating a measure of the same sort. This registration has to be differentiated from the taking of the ordinary census, which is approached leisurely, and dealt with even more leisurely. There is no immediate urgency about an ordinary census, and the matter is dealt with in the ordinary official way. But such a method of dealing with this registration would be absolutely futile. The one essential feature of this census for which all other considerations must make way is that it must be carried out with the utmost expedition. No matter what it ‘costs, no matter how it disturbs the normal methods by which officialdom arrives at its data and conclusions, we must push on. In the taking of a 11 ordinary census it is the custom for collectors to go round to each individual, to leave a card with him, and then to collect it. I am informed by the Government Statistician that in taking the last census he had the assistance of 7,000 collectors. I am not quite sure of the period, but I think it took him fourteen months to complete his task and declare the result.
– How long did the collection take?
– I do not know exactly, hut it was a very long time. I want to take the House into my confidence in this matter, and to invite suggestions from any quarter that may help us. What we propose to do is this: We propose to make the post-offices in this country - and where there are no post-offices schools, police stations, or any other instrument of communal authority - the media for this census. It is proposed to send out cards containing the questions set out on the schedule, or such other questions as Parliament may think fit to suggest or as may be prescribed. There will he two cards. One will deal with wealth, the other with personal service; and they will be distinct in colour. One will apply to all male persons between the ages of eighteen and sixty ; the other will apply to all persons from eighteen years of age upwards, whether they be male or female. Property held by minors will be provided for under returns made by trustees. There will be cast upon every citizen the duty of getting these cards and filling them up. He must not wait until he is personally notified. He will not have a card brought to him. Each citizen will be called upon to go to the post-office or to such other place as may be decided upon, to get a card, and to fill it up. We shall issue instructions so that postal officials, police officers, school teachers, ministers of religion, in short, anybody and everybody who can and will assist us at this time, will be able to help the people to fill in these cards. We realize, of course, that ifc is much easier to draw up a schedule than to fill it in ; but at the same time we shall expect, and have every reason to believe we shall get, through the means I have suggested and from other sources, such assistance as will enable these cards to be filled up within the time laid down. That time, we suggest, shall be seven days from the date on which the cards are available.
– That does not apply to the wealth returns.
– I think so.
– It will be impossible to fill in the wealth returns within seven days.
– I shall not argue the point at this stage.
– Seven days is quite sufficient to allow for the filling in of the return as to personal service.
– If it can be shown that the work will he expedited rather than delayed by allowing an additional seven days in the case of the wealth card, I, for one, shall not offer any objection to such an extension. I am now dealing, however, with the plan that has been suggested, and which I desire to put before the House in its entirety. Each card having been filled in, is to be placed in a specially prepared envelope, and sent, post free, to the Commonwealth Government Statistician in Melbourne. The basis of the scheme rests upon what is known as the card index system, the advantage of which, after careful consideration, seems to be overwhelming. Honorable members will realize what this war census means when I say that it is estimated that, with 1,000 men giving the whole of their time to it, and working two shifts, the Statistician estimates that it, will take eight weeks to complete the returns dealing with personal service. Much depends upon personnel and the organization of the staff under the Statistician. We do not favour overtime. It is notorious that a man’s efficiency for work becomes much less as the day goes on, and that the best results are to be obtained by working two shifts. The Government Statistician favours twoshifts working between them twelve hours per day. On that basis, with 1,000 clerks employed, and with a minimum number of classifications - because with every additional classification more work is involved - it is possible to get a return as to personal service in eight weeks after the commencing day. I come now to the question whether this work should be done in Melbourne, or in all the State capitals and in every local centre. The Government believes the best results can be obtained from dealing with the work here under the personal supervision of the Statistician. I ask honorable members, first of all, to realize what the card index sYstem is. and the nature of the work. We are to have 3,500,000 cards for the wealth census, and about 1,500,000 for the return as to personal service. A number of classifications have to be made.
It is proposed that the returns as to personal service shall be classified in groups, dealing with men between 18 and 35 years of age, men between 35 and 45 years of age, and men between 45 and 60 years of age. There are three main divisions. Then there must be a classification of men who are fit, men who are not fit, men who have dependants and of those who have no dependants; men who have had military experience and men who have had none; men who are following certain occupations which makes it desirable to keep them in the country, and men who are not. Each occupation represents a separate division. These represent the minimum number of divisions that can be made. There must also be a division relating to naturalized citizens of the Commonwealth. This, however, is a minor division which, for our present purpose, may be disregarded. From this statement as to the minimum number of divisions that can be made, honorable members will gather how many millions of motions have to be made in order that this registration of our resources may be accomplished. When I entered upon this matter I, like many other hopeful souls, was imbued with the idea that it could be done practically by waving your hand and saying, “ Go on.” But I have been brought to see the error of my ways, and realize now what a tremendous task this is. But it must be ‘done, and it must be done within the minimum time. On the whole, the advantage is overwhelmingly in favour of a centralized staff, and relying on paid labour mainly, rather than on voluntary labour, for the actual classification. This is not to reject voluntary labour. There will be a tremendous field for voluntary effort outside, but for the work of the office we must rely mainly, but not entirely, on paid labour. It would not be wise to employ on the work of classification men who can give only an hour or -two each day to the service. We need to have men who can devote the whole of their time to it. Men who, niter spending six or eight hours each day in their usual place of employment, are prepared to give a couple of hours each night to this work would not provide the best class of labour for this class of work. It must be remembered that this is con’fidential work ; that no man is to be per.mitted to disclose any fact that comes to his knowledge in dealing with these cards ; that it is also specialized work; that as a man goes on with it he becomes increasingly efficient ; and that speed is the essence of the contract. We do not reject voluntary aid. On the contrary, we welcome it, and there will be ample scope for its usefulness. But for the ‘work of classification, the Commonwealth Statistician is of the opinion that it is essential that he shall have under his control a staff who will be available throughout the whole period. He has had offers of service, amongst others, from the whole of the clerical division of the Public Service of Victoria. He has also received to-day an offer from the insurance companies of this State, placing 200 members of their staffs entirely at his disposal. An offer of that kind is, of course, entirely different from the volunteer service to which I was alluding. A man who offers to give the whole of his time is for our present purpose in exactly the same position as a paid officer. We must not forget what it is we desire to do. We have to approach this question, not from the stand-point of whether it costs much or little, but remembering that, whether it costs much or little, it has to be done.
Now to some details. In Australia to-day there is not enough paper of the kind necessary for this work. It will require 40 tons of paper, and there is not one ton, or anything like one ton, of the kind of paper we need for the purpose. As soon as this Bill has been assented to, however, an order for the manufacture of 40 tons of paper will be placed, and it will be ready and will begin to be printed upon one week from to-‘ day if this measure goes through. The first returns may be expected within ten days - or, at the outside, twelve days - from the day on which the first batch of cards is printed. There will be no delay. The population of Australia is widely scattered, hut four-fifths of it lives within a ring easily accessible, and the cards from that section of the population will be available within seven days after the date appointed for the closing of the return. I know that honorable members will say that there is plenty of paper available, and that every newspaper office can be engaged in this work, but I am sure that such cannot be the case.
– Will the paper be made in Australia or will it be imported 1
– It must be made in Australia. We could not wait to import paper, even if we desired to do so. The making and printing’ of the paper will be proceeded with immediately. I do not propose to deal fully with the schedules at this stage, but I ask honorable members to look at them, and to bear in mind that these schedules will be placed upon the cards, and that to these questions every citizen of the country will be expected to find answers. The difficulty has been, and will be, to make the questions such as to elicit the information we require, and yet be of such simplicity that every man may be able to answer them. The questions in the schedules have been framed with these ends in view. I do not pretend to say that they are not susceptible of improvement, and I invite honrorable members to suggest any improvements which they may consider advisable.
– What is the idea of the tabulation of wealth? What is. the immediate object in view ?
– The sole justification for incurring expenditure, which will not fall far short of . £150,000, and of undertaking a work which will turn the country upside down,, and involve prying into the affairs of all people, is the extraordinary circumstances in which we find ourselves.
– Do you think that £150,000 will be the cost of the census?
Mr.’HUGHES. - I say that the census cannot cost very much less than that sum .
– I think it will cost more.
– I hope honorable members will realize that this measure has been conceived and brought into the world with but little of that period which is. permitted for the gestation of ordinary measures. We have had to obtain estimates and face an urgent situation without having an opportunity to make that leisured computation which is proper in ordinary circumstances. I am giving a very rough estimate of the expenditure. The census will involve the expenditure of a good deal of money, and the sole object of that ‘expenditure is that we may ascertain what are the resources of the country. We are asked to contemplate the sending to the front of 100,000 of the best and bravest of our men, and to keep our fighting force at that strength.. Any man who studies the dreadful casualty lists can calculate without much difficulty what that proposal means. The country is1 to be depleted week after week, and month after month, of its best men. To keep 100,000 at the front means, if the warlasts another year, not far short of 200,000 men all told. It is perfectly obvious- that we cannot meet such a demand upon our manhood without completely disorganizing the- whole economicfabric of our existence; nor is it possible to maintain such a force at the front unless we marshal our resources and utilize them to the very best advantage,, and call upon wealth to make its corresponding sacrifice. . Therefore, when theright honorable- member asks me for thejustification for inquiry into the wealthof the community, I answer that it is because in this struggle there are to be nodistinctions of class; every, man is togive, of his best, without stint. Let the man who has merely his body give that, and let the man who hasboth body and wealth give both.
The questions in the schedules havebeen designed to elicit the necessary information with the least possible friction, and’, machinery has been devised for the purpose of enabling us to ascertain the resources of the. community in the shortest practicable time. The measure is onewhich honorable members on both sides. of the House desire, and I can only say, on behalf of the Government’, that we shall’ welcome any suggestions which will improve the Bill, or lessen, even by a day* the time necessary for registration.. Registration itself is useless unless the information be classified and made available. It is not sufficient merely to get fromeach man answers to the questions set down in the schedule. We are faced witha work of organization altogether novel in Australia, which will involve a tremendous effort, and which will call forthe co-operation of all sections of society. An honorable member asks me what honorable members of this House can do. They can do many things. They canconstitute themselves presiding officers, or whatever they may prefer to becalled, of their electorates, or do whatever can be done to marshal the resources in their electorates, to instruct the people how this census is to be taken, to urgethem to respond quickly, and to assist in every conceivable way this great work. In those ways every honorable member of the House can render a useful service tothe country.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta) £4.45]. - I do not propose to debate the Bill at very great length. “With the principle underlying it I am in very hearty accord. It is time that we had a numbering of the people in order to ascertain our available resources in men for the prosecution of this war. I believe the -census will have a great influence upon our methods of recruiting. If we take this measure of compulsion - and I hesitate to use the word - to the manhood of Australia, the reflex influence coming from a man having to record details of himself, which are to be numbered in this compulsory way, will be excellent when the recruiting-sergeant makes his appearance. At any rate, we shall be able to know, as we may have to know before this fearful war is over, what is the extent and character of our available resources in men, their health and physical fitness and their general war efficiency. The main thing we have to do is to make .an efficient war machine, and that the man shall fit into the machine is, of course, a vital necessity. Therefore, I regard the compulsory registration of the -available manhood of Australia as a step in the right direction. I do not know what else is to follow, but I do not hesitate to say that something must follow, unless, there are other developments in the meantime. Recently we have had an influx of recruits, perhaps as many as we could deal with. My own impression is that it is the organization that is, and has been all along, at fault; and I doubt whether we shall need to make any special efforts in recruiting once the fact becomes abundantly clear that we have an efficient organization to handle all the recruits that offer. I am glad to see the great impulse that has been given to recruiting in the State of Victoria. I hope sincerely that the movement will not cease, but that the available material for the prosecution of the war will .continue to pour in as plentifully as it is doing ‘ to-day. There can be no better way of teaching the enemy that we mean business, and are resolved to carry the war through to victory, than the efforts now being put forth for the enrolment of men. But let us not lose sight of the fact that the main problem is as to how the men are to be dealt with when they have enlisted. That, also, is a serious factor to be taken into consideration. ‘The Bill is a step in the right direction, and I entirely and heartily concur in the proposals made by the Attorney-General to have a numbering of the manhood of Australia with a view to insuring that we may continue our efforts to prosecute the war, without fear of physical exhaustion, and with an accurate knowledge of what our resources in men are.
As to the other matter, I am not quite sure that we are taking the right course.
– What is the other matter ?
– I was speaking of the wealth census. The Government, of course, must take responsibility for the measures they are introducing. Certain reasons have been adduced why some steps must be taken for increasing our financial resources in Australia, and I agree entirely with that general statement. We have been told by the Attorney-General of the possibility of maintaining in the field 100,000 effective fighting men. If that is to be so, we shall, during the next twelve months, have to meet a very big financial strain in maintaining such an army in the field. I take it that we shall assume full responsibility for maintaining this 100,000 fighting men, for, unless we do so, our contribution to the fighting strength of the Empire will not be an adequate one. We have no right to put these men in the field, and ask any of our Allies, and certainly no part of the Empire, to provide the wherewithal to keep them there. That is our full responsibility - to pay as well as find the men, and to keep them in the trenches, along with the rest of the Empire Forces, at our sole cost.
– What is your estimate - £50,000,000 for the year?
– I should think between £40,000,000 and £50,000,000, taking 100,000 men at £1 a day.
– The cost is said to be 25s. per man per day.
– At £1 per day the cost will be £36,000,000 or £37,000,000. I have my doubts as to the 25s. a day ; it will be found, I think, in dealing with a large mass of men like this, that £1 per day will go a long way towards covering the total cost.
– Would that include ammunition ?
– I should think it would include everything. At the outbreak of the war we went slightly and roughly into this matter, and £1 per day, roughly, per man was our estimate. However, the AttorneyGeneral puts the figure at 25s. a day, and I think we may look forward to a war bill of £40,000,000 sterling per annum. It may be a little more or a little less; all will depend on the numbers of men we send forward. I should like to be assured, as I hope we may be, that we have the requisite organization to put these men in the fighting line, and keep them there. The hint we are getting - for it is nothing more at present-will, I judge, translate itself into a definite Statute by and by in the shape of a wealth tax, an income tax, or some other form of taxation. I take it that some taxation is- in contemplation, but at present there is nothing more in the Bill than a proposal to ascertain the available wealth resources in the whole of Australia.
As the Attorney-General told us, this is a new principle, the like of which is in operation in no other part of the world, not even in Great Britain, or Prance, or Russia, where, we know, the financial stringency is infinitely greater than it is here. One wonders why we are to have these statistics prepared in just the way proposed. I could understand it if, for instance, this was to be a schedule to form part of an Act imposing some particular form or other 6f taxation. That hitherto has been the way in which these things have been done. In the case of an income tax, we do not first pass the schedule and ascertain the- income, but we impose a tax, and then provide machinery for ascertaining the incomes and gather- ing the revenue. In this case the position has been completely reversed.
– Do you not think that the present is a very foolish method ? “We are now endeavouring to find out upon whom we ought to call for service; and the same principle applies to both measures. At the present time we are doing both things the wrong way round ; we are calling everybody to the colours without regard to whether they can be spared or not.
– I am speaking of the wealth schedule.
– I am speaking of both.
– And I was remarking as to how it would affect the recruiting.
– The right honorable member misunderstands me. Both in the case of the recruiting and the other case we go the wrong way about. We tax without knowing what the resources are, and we recruit without knowing who can be spared; and we now propose to adopt a proper scientific system.
– May I take it that you have no idea yet what form the taxation is to take?
– You may.
– I should imagine that the Attorney-General knows a little better than that.
– As I have said, this is a measure to ascertain the resources of the country, and I must not be understood to say anything more than that - good, bad, or indifferent.
– There does not appear to be any particular reason for ascertaining the financial resources of the country except for the reason of tapping them.
– You must put that question to the Treasurer.
– We do know the resources of the country now.
– Do you object to themeasure ?
– I am not goings to object to it.
– I do, because I think it unnecessary and a waste of money.
– I raise no objection ; the Government must take theresponsibility for their financial measures, and the method they adopt is their own. I have been in no way consulted. I am merely pointing out that it is; a reversal of all the experience of theworld in the matter of ascertaining and taxing the wealth resources of a country.
– There is a wealth census in the United States of America.
– In this form?”
– Somewhat in this form, though I could not say it is the sameexactly.
– I was not aware of it. I can only hope that the measures that the Government are framing from time to time will be attended” with no results of an adverse character.
In my opinion, the Government, in connexion with t]ie wealth statistics, are tak- ing responsibility for a very costly piece of machinery. I do not see why they should not make an effort to utilize the available State machinery created for the very purpose. The States have their Income Tax Departments, and their Land Tax Departments, and the Commonwealth has a Land Tax Department; and why there should not be some co-ordination of these Departments, with a view to saving a good slice of the £150,000, I do not understand. I think, by the way, that this £150,000 is an under-estimate, though I do not pretend to know. I hope, however, that the Attorney-General will take this matter into his very serious consideration. The point is that we are multiplying Departments, and duplicating the cost unnecessarily, as it seems to me; and something will have to be done sooner or later to obtain finality, sim?plicity, and economy in the way of gathering taxation from the people of the Commonwealth and the States. After all, it is one taxpayer who has to pay, both in State and Commonwealth; and, therefore, it seems to me that there should not be this duplication of machinery and men when the whole could be very much simplified. I suggest that, before the AttorneyGeneral finally disposes of the matter in the way suggested, he should call a conference of the States, and see how far they can press their machinery into this business of tabulating the wealth of the country. Personally, I cannot see how this work is to be done for £150,000.
– I said that that was merely a wild estimate.
– It can be only a rough guess.
– That is so.
– I suggest that the Attorney-General should see whether he cannot avoid a good deal of this cost by utilizing the existent machinery in the different States.
– The honorable member may be sure that we will not forget we are spending the people’s money at a time when they can ill afford it.
– At any rate, I am certain that the Attorney- General will have to revise very materially the estimate of the time that will be occupied in -the tabulation of the wealth.
– Very likely.
– Indeed, a letter could not be sent across the continent in the time mentioned.
– Official inertia is bad enough; do not pat it on the back.
– I thought I was trying to shake it up a little. At any rate, I say that it will take more than seven days, or even seventeen days; and that is not patting inertia on the back. I take it that we cannot require our people to put their best diligence into the work unless, first of all, we are reasonable with them. If we are to be firm, we must be intelligent and reasonable; and, in my opinion, it is absurd to suppose that we can tabulate the wealth of Australia in seven days.
– I did not say so; what I <»aid was that, with personal service, the minimum time was eight weeks from the time the returns are. to hand.
– There are parts of my electorate from which it would take three months to get>a reply.
– I have admitted all that, but I say that four-fifths of the population of Australia live within seven days’ postal service of Melbourne.
– I am only pointing out some of the difficulties; and we must’ not be over-sanguine as to the expedition with which this work can be accomplished.
– I am not over-sanguine. Mr. JOSEPH COOK. - It will take a great deal of time, and there will be much intricate work in many cases. Mr. Hughes. - I admit all that.’ Mr. JOSEPH COOK. - This is new ground we are exploiting; and any man. who thinks we can do the work readily and offhand is much mistaken. I entirely agree with the Attorney-General that this tabulation work cannot be intrusted to irresponsible hands. The men employed must be sworn to secrecy, and under the absolute control and discipline of the Government; and I do not see how we can have unpaid labour in this connexion, at any rate. The numbering and registration of men is a very different matter, and I think that any amount of voluntary labour will be at our disposal for the work of ascertaining the eligibles amongst us. Altogether this legislation is a very important departure; it is pioneering again, even so far as the whole world is concerned. In this case we are tabulating the wealth and the resources of the country before we have ever made a call upon these resources for war purposes. Remember we have not yet passed a war loan measure - that we have not asked our people to pay 6d. directly, so far, towards the prosecution of this war.
– Hear, hear !
– All our loan moneys for the purposes of the war have come from overseas; and we are now doing something for which, so far as I know, there is no precedent in any part of the world.
– Is there any precedent for this war?
– I was going to add that there is no precedent, even in those countries which are more intimately affected than we are. I mean those countries which have more men fighting, and the obligations of which are piling up every day. Our obligations, with all we do, will be very tiny alongside those of countries oversea. Great Britain is spending £3,000,000 a day ,£1,090,000,000 for the year. That is the latest estimate of Mr. Asquith. With 100,000 effective fighting men in the field, Australia’s obligation will be, roughly, £40,000,000 a year, a very small amount with which to charge ourselves.
– In another three months we shall be paying more per head for the war than Great Britain is paying.
– The Prime Minister told us the other day that he estimated the war expenditure for the year at a little over £20,000,000. I have doubled that amount, because I hope that we are going to double the number of men that it was then in contemplation to keep abroad.
– I think I said £26,000,000.
– With 100,000 men in the fighting line our annual obligation will be £40,000,000. Every penny that we can afford is. not too much to spend ; every man that we can send is not too much to spare for the prosecution of this war. I hope that the result- of the measures put before the House by the Government will be what is desired.. I offer,, and shall offer, no objection to them.. Ministers are responsible for these proposals, and, in their own judgment, ‘ ha-ve brought them forward. I would not interpose the slightest obstacle to their passing. I rose to speak only for the purpose of elucidating these proposals. I shall not offer opposition to any proposal which Ministers bring forward, and honestly declare to be required for the prosecution of the war.
– I shall be brief, and I am sure that the Leader of the Opposition will excuse me if, at the outset, I repeat what I understood him to have said just now, so that I may be clear on the point. I understand that he takes no lot or part in this proposition. He says it is a Government proposition, and that he takes no responsibility of any sort for it. He does not support it.
– I said that I do support it.
– The honorable member said that it is the measure of the Government.
– He said that whatever was done he would help with it.
– I say that I trust the Government in this matter.
– It is an old rule that what a person says last is what he must stand by. I understand the right honorable member to say at the close of his speech that he recognises that this is the Government’s own proposal. There is no harm in clearing up the matter. The Government is prepared to take responsibility for the measure, and so is the party behind it.
– Of course. They must do so.
– Our responsibility is accepted. But this is the time to know the attitude of the Opposition - whether out of a sense of duty they will not oppose measures brought forward by the Government, or whether they share in any way in the responsibility for this measure. I have no feeling in this matter, and merely wish to clear up all ambiguity. But I should prefer- that we did not stand alone. The strongest criticism of the Bill offered by the Leader of the Opposition was that it contains a new proposal; but that is not so. The proposal is as old as human society, almost as old as the hills. Tn> the very earliest times, the people were numbered, and. their capacities ascertained, so that they might be allotted their proper spheres of action.
– Three thousand years ago - in Joshua’s time!
– Formerly, wealth belonged to the tribe, or people, or nation, rather than to the individual. The nam- bering of the people is no new proposal, and in this case it does not foreshadow any intention of the Government to introduce conscription, which is not desired. Our idea is merely to obtain information,
– What for ?
– So that we may know our exact position. We wish to ascertain the ages of our people, their fitness for war, and their particular avocations, so that we may know whether men had better be sent into the fighting line, or could more usefully be employed in manufacturing materials at home. We wish to classify the talents of our people, to ascertain their qualifications, mental and physical, and to apply their forces with the best possible effect. Our desire is to organize as a nation against a nation which has been organized for war purposes for many years past. That nation organized her industries and her people for warfare while her neighbours were living without care, as though war would never come. Norman Angell, with whom I have some personal acquaintance, practically captured the thought of the whole world by the statement that the nations would never again go to war because the contest would be so costly that it could not continue for more than three months.
– Norman Angell did not Capture the intellectual thought of the world. The right honorable gentleman gives him too much credit.
– He captured the opinions of a great many people, and lectured before the universities of Germany, as well as in other countries, where resolutions were passed affirming his doctrines.
– Now he is busy eating his own words.
– Like many another.
– The objection that the proposals contained in the Bill are new is not effective. Criticism has been directed chiefly against the proposal to make a wealth census; but that, in my opinion, is as necessary as the other proposal. No attack on wealth is contemplated, and no wise Government would ever think of attacking wealth. But our position is peculiar. Australia is a continent governed by six authorities possessing sovereign powers of taxation, and a seventh authority - the Commonwealth
Parliament - possessing certain limited powers of taxation. The time has come when we must organize. We must look ahead. There is an opportunity now to get information which will allow us to ascertain whither we are going, instead of idly pursuing a policy of drift. As to the suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition that we might invite the States to do this work for us -
– I said that I hoped that the Government would consider whether it could use any part of the machinery of the States.
– If all the States gave us their heartiest co-operation, and secured for us all the information that they could get, we should not have what we require. We are asking for a census, not of the incomes, but of the wealth of the people, which is distributed over the six States, and if each State collected the information that we need there would be much duplication, and the last stage would be worse than the first.
The Bill provides a simple, clear, and direct method of doing what we wish to do. Whether our proposal be right or wrong is a political question - I think it is’ right; but the method proposed is the only practicable one for getting at the facts. Until the facte are ascertained, we can make no substantial progress. The Leader of the Opposition uttered a statement that I rather regret, namely, that the Commonwealth has not yet raised any money for war purposes, and that the money which we have expended has come from overseas. We have not spent a single penny of the money that we got from Great Britain. It is necessary to say that, because in some of the States the impression has been made on the minds of many people that each State is paying for the upkeep of our soldiers out of its State funds, and that the Commonwealth is not bearing thi3 burden. It is time that that impression was removed. The Premiers of the States have said from time to time that this, that, and the other could not be done because of the war.
– The statement I made - that we have not raised a war loan in Australia - is true. That is all that I meant.
– But the right honorable member said that the money which we had spent on the war we got from overseas.
– That is true.
– The money that we have spent on the war did not come from overseas. We told the British Government that the money which we borrowed as a war loan, under circumstances known to honorable members, would be lent by the Commonwealth to the States, to enable the wheels of industry to continue to revolve. So far, Australia has not spent one penny ou interest oversea, and is not likely to be called on to pay interest for some time to come. But this position must terminate eventually. The people will have to be told that, not only must we send fighting men to the front, equipped to the best of our ability, but we must also find money to oil the wheels of the great war machine which we are constructing to do our part as a portion of the British Empire.
I take no exception to the estimate of the Leader of the Opposition that our military expenditure will be £40,000,000 a. year. I shall oppose no expenditure for the prosecution of this war that the nation can bear. The position as regards loan money is clear, definite, and distinct. I stated earlier this afternoon that we propose to put a war loan of £20,000,000 on the Australian market. It may be necessary - I think it will be necessary - in addition to that war loan, to impose a war tax. That, however, will be a matter for later discussion.
– Does not the Prime Minister think it would be better if he were to come down with a general financial statement, instead’ of giving details of these matters in piecemeal fashion? . Mr. FISHER. - Any one in the position of the Government, and any one in my position particularly, can hardly choose his time for making these statements. In my opinion, the present occasion is not inopportune. As Treasurer, I shall have to make a statement to the House before we rise for even a short period. I shall go into the whole subject more fully then, but as erroneous statements might otherwise be published in the press regarding the proposed loan, I had to take the opportunity that presented itself now, in order to counteract airy false impression that might arise.
– Are these statements really as erroneous as the right honorable gentleman makes out? Is it not merely a question of bookkeeping? The money is borrowed for the war, but is it not used for other purposes?
– The right honorable gentleman has not been following mo. Certain journals have made statements that we propose to raise a loan for war and other purposes. That was an erroneous statement, and a vicious statement, which no honorable press ought to have published without authority at a time like this. I do not wish’ to trespass further upon the time of the House. I know that the honorable member for Flinders desires to attend another meeting, and probably he desires to say a few words when I have concluded. Whatever our political views may be, strongly as we may feel from a party point of view in these national questions-
– There are no party politics in this matter.
– Will the right honorable member permit me to finish a sentence? I say that whatever our political views are, and however much we may differ on political questions per se, let us deal with these matters from a national stand-point. The Government have no right to complain, and will not complain, of criticism; but it will be the Government’s duty to take the lead in this and in every other matter. I believe I made the first suggestion with regard to numbering the people. I think the course is the right one. Many persons are apprehensive about it, and- many think that there is a sinister side to the proposed census. There is nothing of the kind. It is a plain, straightforward step for a young Dominion to take, and though we may be taking a new line, it is a line upon which I venture to say we shall not go back. It will, I hope, furnish us with the means of organizing our people, classifying them into their respective units, so that they may be more effectively organized for the production of national wealth. In m.y opinion, the step will ultimately do much to promote the future happiness of this country.
– May I, as a matter of a personal explanation, say a word or two ? After the somewhat extraordinary statement of the Prime
Minister I feel that I am entitled to take this course. He has so entirely misconceived the character ofthe criticism I offered to this Bill that I am wondering if anybody else is of the same opinion. We were invited to offer criticism upon the details of the Bill. I did so, criticising the method adopted in one of the schedules for obtaining this census ; but, so far as the proposal itself is concerned, my position is a very simple one. The Government say this is necessary for the purpose of prosecuting this war. I say that I will support the Government in all measures that they declare to be necessary for that purpose. Can I make anything plainer than that?
– That is clear.
– At this time, above all others, I think it is desirable that we should avoid all methods of criticism that may lead to differences between the two sides of the House on matters where there is, in effect, no real difference at all. I think that the Prime Minister, when he was speaking, did not do full justice to the Leader of the Opposition. The Leader of the Opposition has himself explained his attitude, and explained it perfectly clearly. It is not necessary for me to add anything to what hehas said. I welcome this Bill, and I welcome, perhaps even more, the manner in which it was introduced by the Attorney-General. In the comparatively short speech which he delivered, what appealed to me more than anything else was his statement that he would welcome - that he, indeed, looked for - the voluntary assistance of all sections of the community in bringing the proposals contained in this Bill to a successful issue. I look upon this as a first step. I look upon this first step in the real organization of the manhood and wealth of Australia - this attempt to connote the people of Australia - as being important, not merely for the purposes of the war, but when it is carried through, as I believe it will be, with the assistance and co-operation of all sections of the people, I believe it will “bear fruit. I believe it will be one of the first steps, if not actually the first step, in the direction of bringing the various sections of the people of Australia, who now fight too much with one another, : into a clearer understanding of each other’s position, and that it will, therefore be a potent factor in enabling us hereafter to solve, with a little more harmony, and probably with a little more success than has been the case in the past, some of the industrial and other problems with which we are faced. With regard to the actual proposals contained in the measure, a different kind of consideration has to be applied, in at least one respect, to the wealth census from that which is applied to the personal census. I entirely support, and I believe members on this side of the House, for the most part, entirely support the Government in taking both censuses. I have heard timorous expressions outside this House with regard to the intentions of the Government in taking a census of the general wealth of the community, and I have made it my business to tell the people who have given expression to these views that I do not think this proposal portends in the larger sense any attack upon wealth, as wealth. No Government, no people who understand the situation, would for a moment attack that wealth which is actually the working capital of a community. Nobody would attempt to do that. It would be as fatal to a community as it would be fatal to an artisan if the tools of his trade were sold in order to buy his daily bread. That may have had to be done in times of necessity, but the results are always deplorable. The point of view I take is this: In a time of national peril, such as we are in now, every man in the community must recognise that everything he possesses, whether it be his wealth, or his skill, or his ability in any direction, is held in trust by him for the whole community. He only holds what he possesses, no matter what it may be, subject to the general weal and security of the community of which he is only one part.
– That being lost, all is lost.
– That being lost, all is lost. It does not for a moment follow, nor would any reasonable or sensible man for a moment take it as a logical conclusion in such a position, that you must, therefore, take away from wealthy men a very large proportion of their wealth. In this community, more perhaps than in any other community, the larger proportion of what is known as wealth is actually the working capital of the community, and I say this in order to still any apprehension which the taking of this wealth census may lead to outside, and which may interfere with the successful carrying out of the proposals contained in this measure. The object of the Bill, I take it, is merely to obtain what will undoubtedly be necessary information.
– The classified resources of this community as regards men, money, and material - that is what is wanted.
– Hear, hear !
– With regard to the wealth census, however, there is this distinction as opposed to the personal census, that it is an undertaking that must necessarily take a considerable time. I cannot believe it possible, speaking as a practical man, that a fortnight, as suggested, much less seven days, will be sufficient to enable returns such as are asked for here to be made.
– You are speaking now of wealth?
– Yes. These returns, when they are made, will have to be dealt with by confidential sworn officers, and, therefore, they will have to be dealt with by a much more limited class of persons than will be able to deal with the other number. Therefore, the actual classification must take considerably more time.
– I did not say one word as to the length of time it would take.
– Therefore, while it is perfectly right to send out for this information, so that people may have the chance of filling up the cards, yet in dealing with the returns it cannot be contemplated that the classification of the wealth returns will come in for months, perhaps for several months after the classification of the other returns is made available for the purposes of the Government. The Attorney-General, speaking with the authority of the Government Statistician, stated that he hoped the classification of the manhood return might be practically completed within eight weeks1 from the time the cards were first sent out.
– Oh, no, from the time when they come in.
– I think they might be ready in a much shorter time. Let me put this point. If we are going to wait until we can get something like the Government Statistician’s ordinary report - something like the greencovered book printed on India paper - however fine the material may be,- we shall have to wait for a time beyond which this manhood classification will be of very little use.
– Hear, hear!
– The Attorney General stresses that point strongly. We must in this business throw aside all official methods altogether. We can only do the work that is necessary by cooperation both in the distribution and collection of returns, and in the acceptance of every kind of voluntary effort which can possibly be made available to carry the thing through very quickly. That point I think has been clearly stated by the Attorney-General himself. With it I cordially agree, but what I do not agree with is the suggestion that you cannot avail yourself of voluntary effort in a good deal of the work that has to be done in connexion with the classification of the returns, and I would point out why. I am entirely at one with the views expressed both by the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General that voluntary effort, directed it may be to some extent, or at all events encouraged, by the efforts of ourselves in our own particular districts, will enable the work of distributing and collecting these returns to be more rapidly and effectively carried out. The suggestion that the people can help by forming themselves into committees to expedite this work has only to be made to meet with an immediate and enthusiastic response. That has been my experience at various meetings near Melbourne. The people are really thirsting to help in thiswork.
– In some country districts committees could be organized to do» the whole work.
– To do the whole of the work. I was going to suggest to the Prime Minister that if he were to invite that kind of co-operation, he would have, before the returns were sent in, practically the whole of the machinery ready to carry out the work. Coming to the classification of the cards,. I believe that a rough draft or outline, very necessary for a particular purpose, to which I shall refer, might be prepared,, not in eight, but in two, weeks.
– Does the honorable member suggest that these committees might be allowed to handle the cards and see the contents?
– I should not have the slightest objection to their handling the manhood returns. The wealth returns would have to be dealt with as confidential, and dealt with only by regularly paid officers.
– But even in the personal service schedule information has to he given that a man would not like to be divulged.
– Information as to health.
– I was going to suggest that when we go into Committee that line in the schedule might be omitted. I do not think it is actually necessary. In any case, there is nothing to prevent these cards being taken to citizens, filled in for them, and placed in the envelopes by volunteers.
– That is so.
– Very well. I come now to another point, the urgency of which presses very strongly upon me. We have had in Victoria a week, or more ‘ than a week, of what I might describe as a recruiting boom, and the results, as honorable members know, have been highly satisfactory to those who simply look upon the numbers coming’ in as a criterion of success. This will be followed, I have no doubt, by similar movements in the other States. The Government will have coming in an enormous number of recruits, and it will strain all their resources to provide for them. These recruits will consist of all classes of people, who may or may not be suitably drawn from this community, for the purpose of fighting at the front. If we could rely upon the judgment of every man who recruits as to his duty to the society of which he forms a part, as to the sacrifices which he is causing others to make, it may be, by recruiting - if we could properly make every man the judge of the circumstances under which it is his duty to enlist, or to refrain from enlisting - no system would be better than is that of voluntary enlistment. But, as a matter of fact, the man who enlists is not the best judge of these things. He enlists usually as the result of emotion rather than judgment, and it is an -emotion that rises in the breasts of the best.
– It is an emotion stronger and better than judgment.
– I cordially agree with the Attorney-General. It is an emotion which overrides, and properly overrides judgment. Nevertheless, it has the effect of drawing away men, no matter how high may be the functions they are discharging in the community ; no matter what may be their obligations to others whom they leave behind. It draws the best, and, without coordination and organization of any kind, it is a process which, if carried on for a long period, will not only deplete this community of the very best blood on which it should rely for its future progress and development, but disorganize the whole productive” and industrial organization of the Commonwealth. That is the problem before us. It has been suggested that this Bill has been brought in for the purpose of conscription. The question has been asked, “ If not for conscription, for what purpose is it brought in?” I say, as I have said before, that the time for conscription has not yet come in Australia. But the time has come, and I say this most emphatically, when the Government of Australia should be in a position to put a direct appeal, individually and personally, to the people who do not enlist, but who are fit for service, to do their duty in this matter. This register, when carried out, even in its preliminary stages, will present to the Government the facts, on which they will be in a position to personally invite sections of the community, drawn from all classes, and beginning with the young unmarried men first of all, to enroll their names, not for immediate service, but to come forward when they are called. It will give the Government the facts, on which they will be in a position to personally invite them to do this, or to give the reasons why they decline to answer the call of their country. If the Government did that, there would be no necessity for conscription. I do not believe for one moment that, of the hundreds of thousands of young- men in all ranks of life, without any real family or other obligation, who have not yet come forward, more than a very small percentage would be found failing to enroll their names, if this duty were plainly put before them by an appeal made individually to them.
– Then, does the honorable member intend that these cards shall be followed by a circular from the Government to all those who have not enlisted?
– The question of my intentions is of no importance; but what I do say is, that we are now sending away many who should not go to the front. Take, for instance, the 10,000 who have joined the colours in Victoria within the last week. Of whom’ do they consist? A very considerable portion consists of the very men we want to send to the front - men of the very best type, who have properly enlisted. But they also consist very largely of young married men - in many cases of married men with families - and very largely of youths of eighteen years of age. -I have no hesitation in pronouncing my personal opinion that no youth between eighteen and twenty years of age should be allowed to leave these shores to engage in a winter campaign in Europe until we have ascertained whether more suitable men cannot be obtained for the work. In order that we may be able to do this, we must know who these men are.
– Would not the effect of what the honorable member suggests be the coercion of these men ?
– Certainly ; but what sort of coercion? It would be simply the moral coercion that is cast upon a man when he is asked to do a public duty, and has no reason to give why he should not do it. Is that a coercion that should not be employed? It is, I think, the one ‘kind of coercion that must be employed. What useful purpose is served in telling those who attend recruiting meetings that it is their duty to come forward if, at the same time, we do not tell those who fail to attend such meetings what the position is, and do not say to them, “ We invite you to come forward. It is your duty to do so, but we will not compel you.”
– What if they persisted in declining to come forward?
– There is no occasion t6 consider that point. If we invite a sufficient number of young men to enroll their names, I do not think there will be any trouble. The required number might be invited by name or chosen by ballot in the various districts, if only a limited number were required, or the invitation might be extended to all persons between certain ages, who are unmarried or who, being married, have no children. If a larger list were required the invitation could be given, say, first of all, to all persons between twenty years and thirty-five years of age. We could say to them, “ We invite you, as patriotic Australian citizens, to sign a roll in which you promise to come forward when called upon.”
– We ought to try to get at the families with several sons, not one of whom has enlisted.
– Yes. The problem is an extremely difficult one. We are now dealing with matters that upset our preconceived notions about many things. The great problem is as to why we should allow young boys, and young married men with families to support,’ to go away. Take another aspect of the case. Let us ask ourselves why should we allow men to go away who have duties of the highest importance to the community to perform - duties, it may be, in connexion with farming, such as the AttorneyGeneral has referred to-
– Or the manufacture of munitions of war, for instance.
– Or anything that is necessary to the continuance of the ‘power of this Commonwealth? Why should we allow men performing such duties to go away while others remain who have only to be asked, I believe, to express their readiness to enlist when called on. I believe that is the position in regard to most of our people. There may be a few cowards among those who have not volunteered, but the vast majority do not realize that they have yet got the call.
– And the honorable member is going to take the call for them ?
– Take the call to them.
– No ; for them. What I mean is that the honorable member is going to be their conscience in deciding whether it is their duty to go.
– That ~ is exactly what I have said we should not do. I have said that we should not compel them to go. But I would place the Government in a position in which they would be able to say to these men, “If you are not able to place your names on the roll, we will give you the fullest opportunity to set yourself right by stating the reason for this.”
– These things, after all,arise out of the register.
– Quite so. I have been drawn aside in dealing with one aspect of this matter; but honorable members, whether they think that any compulsion, moral or otherwise, should be used, will agree with me that it is desirable that the whole community should know who are the people who might best go to the front; who might render the most effective service with the least disorganization and with the least suffering to this community. The whole Commonwealth should know that as soon as possible, and know it before we allow so many of our youngest boys and men with obligations upon them to leave our shores. I may be asked how I suggest this should be done. If we were to wait for anything like a perfect classification of this census eight or nine weeks would elapse.
– Eight or nine months.
– I believe” that more than eight or nine weeks would elapse if we left the whole matter to officials and to official methods. These returns are to be sent in in the form of cards, I understand.
– And the skeleton of what is known as the card system is to be used as a basis of classification. I am very glad to hear this. The suggestion I was going to make is based upon that system, ‘ and the adoption of cards of uniform size, with the returns to be filled up, will do away with the necessity for one process, that of copying out the returns upon the cards. Under the system proposed, the returns can be placed in the cases containing the cards. A simple classification might, first of all, be made. As the Attorney-General has pointed out, the more minute the classification, the greater the number of steps that have to be taken and the longer the delay. But for the purpose for which, above all other things1, I desire despatch, the most important classification is that of age and condition. By condition I mean whether single or married; if married, the number of children. The other classification with regard to occupation, and the various particulars that arise out of that,’ including the consideration of whether the country can afford to allow the persons following certain occupations to go to the front, may take a little longer, . but the classification of age and condition may be made in an extremely short time. If we have that classification first it can be elaborated afterwards. The AttorneyGeneral has stated that the officials say that the classification cannot be carried through without the aid of a paid regular staff of officers.
– They say they must have men upon whom they can rely, and who can give the whole of their services.
– I am not sure that it is necessary to exclude men who cannot give the whole of their services. That the work must be carried through by the Commonwealth Statistician and superintended by those who are skilled in tabulation work I do not dispute for a moment. But in the obtaining of an immediate classification in regard to age and condition is there any technical difficulty whatever? If there are a number of intelligent men, clerks, or university students, or men of any other occupation, who are willing to work three, or, perhaps, five, hours per day, is there any difficulty in getting as many of those men aa possible into a large room and instructing them how to distribute the cards amongst various boxes? Suppose there are four age divisions-
– There are three - from 18 years to 35 years, from 35 to 45, and from 45 to 60.
– I was about to suggest that there should be four divisions, by including a classification of those who are from 18 to 20 years of age.
– How many cards could a man put through in an hour?
– When I say that this preliminary classification might be made in a fortnight, I do not pretend to base that statement on any calculation. I would point out, however,, that the work of the preliminary classification is of the simplest possible character. It is simply a matter of sorting cards, and the more men you employ at the work the more rapidly will it be done. I do not, for a moment, suggest that this classification would furnish a reliable permanent record.
– Could not some of the work be done in the various State capitals instead of all of it being done in Melbourne ?
– I am glad to have that interjection. I was going to suggest that, instead of all the work being done in Melbourne, it ought to be done in the various State capitals, where the Government will find abundant voluntary effort ready to hand. I shall ask the Attorney-General to place before Mr. Knibbs the proposal I am now about to make. It will be, at least, a fortnight from to-day before the first batch of returns is received. Mr. Knibbs, who is as little of an official as any public officer I know, and who has the qualities of initiative and enterprise, might well consider whether there would be any difficulty in giving to a number of volunteers an hour’s instruction two or three times a week during the next fortnight so as to qualify them for the classification work by the time the returns begin to come to hand. I placed before the Prime Minister to-day a letter from the ViceChancellor of the University of Melbourne, stating that the Council of the University had met and had passed a resolution authorizing and supporting the offer made by the students, as the result of a meeting held at the University recently, to give any assistance that might be required in the classification work in connexion with the census. That offer was signed by over 500 students of both sexes. Although those people may not be accustomed to this class of work, they are intelligent, educated, and willing, they are under discipline, and will readily take instructions. I do not say that they are more fit than others, except that they are very amenable to instruction and discipline, and are very intelligent. Yesterday I was approached by a representative of the clerks, accountants, and officers employed by the various insurance companies-
– I mentioned that they had submitted their offer.
– I am glad to know that they have done so.
– I stated that at least 200 of those officers could be placed wholly at the disposal of Mr. Knibbs
– That is very gratifying. The time which the University students could give to this work would be broken in some cases; but the University Council, recognising that in such work it is desirable to avoid broken time as far as practicable, made a resolution authorizing the staff to move either forward or backward the fortnight’s vacation which comes normally on the 14th August. If that were done, a large proportion of the 500 students would be prepared to devote the whole of their time to this work. Their offer is one which ought not to be, and I am sure will not be, rejected without consideration. Then there was the offer published in the press by the officers in the Postal Department and others. In fact, the amount of eager voluntary effort that is available is almost unlimited.
– The officers in the clerical division of the Public Service have offered their assistance.
– The only question is as to how many voluntary workers can be employed. If’ only 1,000 were required for the whole of Australia, that would represent about 300 for Victoria; but I venture to say that 1,000 men could be employed in Victoria alone in connexion with the preliminary classification. The University authorities have also offered the use of any of the buildings of the institution if extra accommodation is required, and I think honorable members will agree that they have responded to the appeal in connexion with this matter in a very patriotic spirit. All the work that need be done in the preliminary classification will not be of that final and conclusive character which will be ultimately needed.
– But the card system is final in itself. If a card has been placed in the box for the 18 to 35 years division that is final.
– But the Attorney-General knows that even in the electoral system, in which extreme accuracy has to be observed, there is continuous revision.
– A classification of the occupations will be necessary.
– The classification of occupations may come separately and later. The matter of dealing with the occupations and deciding how far the community ought to draw on the people of particular callings is very urgent, and demands close consideration of the correlation of various occupations.
– Is that not one of the fundamental factors of the problem?
– Even if it is, is there any insuperable difficulty in the way of starting to give instruction to the voluntary aid of thousands of people? We all desire to see this work 1 done quickly. I believe that the people of Australia are awakening to a great national movement for organization, and the AttorneyGeneral by introducing this Bill is giving the community a lead. Do not throw cold water on. any enthusiasm amongst the people, do not let red-tape or officialdom stand in the way, but let us use the voluntary effort of the community as much as we can. We may not get the same accuracy at first; there may be some mistakes.; but enlist as far as possible the efforts of the people who are anxious to help in carrying this work through. I do not see any insuperable difficulty to thb utilization of that effort in the distribution and collection, of these cards.
– Do you advocate a canvass?
-Yes, a voluntary canvass.
– Would not the electoral officers1 be useful?
– We must utilize an electoral officer, or a postmaster, or some such official to form a link between the voluntary effort and the Government. I am not going to suggest who the official, link should be,” but the formation of committees for immediate housetohouse visitation may not always be successful, and then what is to happen? Is the movement to fall through?
– I hope the honorable member will not throw out any suggestion that the people should be helped other than by way of instruction as to how to perform this duty. The Bill will cast a duty on everybody. I hope the honorable member will not say that a committee should be sent out to- do this duty for the people ; let them come forward on their own initiative.
– I do suggest that.
– Once the citizens are led to believe that somebody will do the work for them, the incentive to act for themselves is withdrawn.
– It is necessary to fix the individual responsibility.
– I agree with that remark. The widest advertisement of liability to penalties should be given, but even with that aid it will be impossible to convey to the great bulk of the population of a country like Australia the fact that they are under a legal obligation to do this duty in a week. That might be done in months, but not in weeks.
– The field for voluntaryeffort is very wide; the opportunities for instruction will be Gargantuan, but without voluntary effort that instruction will be useless.
– I do not propose to follow the suggestion further than to again say that there ought to be some official link between the voluntary effort and the Government. I would again impress upon honorable members on both sides of the House that probably within the next month in Australia we shall have 50,000 recruits, including those who have already come forward in Victoria. These 50,000 men are now being, recruited to enter on, service at the commencement of a winter campaign, which is almost certain to follow. Do. honorable members not; think it desirable that, we should, even at the cost of a little accuracy - at the cost of, it may be, making a mistake, which, may have to be rectified afterwards - dohonorable members not think that sometime before these men leave our shoreswe ought to be in a position to let tie country know that there are other men, and to invite those other men, who are in; a position where they are better able, , and on whom the duty presses more strongly, to enlist, and keep some of those otherswho are younger back for a while?
– That means conscription !
– Honorablemembers may talk about conscription.
– That means conscription,, sir 1
– If that is= conscription, I am absolutely in favour of” conscription; but I always understood that what was objected to in conscriptionwas that there was imposed a legal obligation, for breach of which you could’ punish men if they did not go to war outside their own country.
– This Bill, punishes them.
– This Bill punishes a man only by bringing to his. mind the duty which lies on him ; if thereis no breach of duty there is no punishment. If that is what is meant by conscription, I have no hesitation in sayingthat I am in favour of it. But the time has not arrived yet, either here or in England, when it would be wise to actually impose legal obligations and punishments. If we bring to the mind of every man - and it ought to be brought directly to themind of every man - his duty, and hesays, “ I am not going to do it, no matter what the circumstances are,” I say leave him to his conscience, and the illreputation he will gain amongst his friends. That kind of compulsion is not only permissible, but desirable and necessary at the present time, unless we are going to allow our country to be bled of its very best - of all that is necessary to the life and development of this country. I have taken up more time than I had intended. I now only wish, with all the earnestness I can, to urge on the Government not to allow anything to fetter their freedom. They have the whole people behind them; they have only to lead, and show the way, to gain all the help they require in their first great step in the organization of the community - they have only to show the way, and they will find thousands and thousands to help them
.- I am very glad to hear from the AttorneyGeneral, and from the Prime Minister, that, in taking a war census, it is not intended, directly or indirectly, to compel any Australian citizen to go on foreign service. In the Defence Act, there is a section which provides that, in war time - and war time is defined as any invasion of Australia, or any apprehended invasion of Australia - all Australian citizens between the ages of eighteen and sixty may be called upon to serve in Australia, or any of the territories under Commonwealth control. Personally, I do not believe that it will ever lie necessary to compel Australians to fight for Australia in Australia. Some newspapers, and some public men, have stated that if this war goes against the Allies, Australia will automatically go over to Germany. I do not believe that for a moment. There are 1,000,000 adults in Australia, and many of these are fathers of the men who are bravely putting up a fight in Gallipoli. These men in Australia are prepared, no matter what may happen, to fight for the retention of Australia in the hands of Australians against Germany or any other nation.
– Do you think we should take any risks in the matter?
– I do not understand the question of the honorable member.
– Do you think we should take any risks ? Had we not better take time by the forelock, and prevent any such contingency ?
– Does the honorable member for Kooyong mean sending men overseas?
– Wherever they are required to defend Australia.
– As I have said, I do not believe it will ever be necessary for the Governor-General of Australia, as he has power to do, to compel Australians to take up arms to fight for Australia. But the honorable member for Flinders has hinted on various occasions that that time may come. Let us bear in mind that if ever a time comes when members of the Australian Parliament think there should be an Act to compel Australians to go on foreign service, the question will be raised as to what part of the world we are going to send them.
– Foreign service?
– Foreign service.
– This is not foreign service.
– I am speaking of foreign service in Gallipoli. Is it not foreign service ?
– It should not be so regarded ; it is for ourselves, and for the Empire.
– I hesitate to discuss this . question. I hope that the Government of Australia and the War Office are satisfied that the blunder which led to the downfall of the British Cabinet - the attempt to open the Dardanelles by a naval force - is not to be repeated . When I look at the newspapers daily, and see the beautiful,, intelligent faces of our youths, and underneath the words, “ Killed in action,” I shudder when I question whether they are not up against an impossible proposition. In my reading of military tactics, I never saw suggested an attack made on what, in warfare, is called an impregnable position. The great Napoleon never attempted to at- . tack his opponents in their strongest Position, but always sought their weakest points.
– Still, sometimes there are positions that have to be forced.
– The honorable member for Capricornia must know that there were very grave reasons for the action that was taken.
– I am only hoping that the War Office is satisfied that it is not “taking on” an impossible proposition. Men who go to fight in the way our men have fought ought to have a chance, and, in my opinion, as a layman, the weak point of the enemy is somewhere on the western front. However, I say to those men who, like the honorable member for Flinders, are contemplating a time when it will be necessary to send men by compulsion on foreign service-
– He did not say that.
– Well, I have listened to the honorable member for Flinders repeatedly in this House, and in reply to me he said, “ It does not mean conscription ; the time has not yet arrived for conscription, hut there may come a time.”
– He advocated moral coercion.
– When the honorable member for Flinders talks in that way, I point out to him that Australia is taking up a very unique position. We do not wish to boast of what we are doing, but it must be admitted that we are doing marvellously. We are putting at the disposal of the War Office and the authorities of the Old Country all our resources, and we are not asking where our men are being sent.’ I say that when we place a responsibility on men, it is their duty to see that they do not send our bravest soldiers on an impossible task.
– Do you not think that the Cabinet in the Old Country are doing their best?
– Well, I can only hopeat any rate, I know that one blunder led to the downfall of the British Cabinet. However, to come back to the Bill. As the Attorney-General has pointed out, there is power under the Defence Act to take a census of all the male population between eighteen and sixty.
– We have power to call them up.
– To take a census - to do anything like that.
– We have power to call up all males between the ages of eighteen and sixty, and compel them to serve inside Australia.
– This legislation, as the Attorney-General has said, is something new; but no exception can be taken to the idea of a census, because the time might come when we should have to fight locally for Australia. As history shows, nations have broken away from treaty engagements, and taken advantage of people whom they thought to be in a weak position. At any rate, I sincerely hope that, while the census is being taken, everything that can be done will be done to see that Australia is not left in an un defended condition, so far as rifles and ammunition are concerned.
I agree with the honorable member for Flinders when he says that eighteen is too early an age for soldiers on active service.
– There are many commissioned officers of eighteen in Europe now..
– However ‘ that may be, the majority of our boys, who are brought up in the city suburbs of Australia, are really not fitted, by knowledge and experience, to be sent out against the veterans that have to be met in Gallipoli, and met at odds of five and ten to one. My own opinion is that it would be better to raise the age from eighteen to twenty, and the limit, at the other end, from forty-five to forty-seven, for there are many men in Australia as good at fortyseven as they were at forty.
The penalties attached under this BUT are, I think, severe. This is a compulsory measure, and I wonder sometimes whether we are not getting too much compulsion. We have compulsory registration, but we do not carry out the law. We do not fine all those persons who fail to enroll.
– Yes, we do.
– We certainly do not prosecute all who fail to enroll, and that is an unfair administration of a law which should be applied impartially. We ought not to create the impression in the mind of the people that Parliament does not mean what it says, and when a law is enacted we should see that its provisions are enforced.
It is proposed to make voting compulsory. There are 32,000 persons in Queensland who failed, to vote at the last election, but I am certain that they will not all be prosecuted, although compulsory voting is the law in Queensland.
I do not think that we should make the proposed registration compulsory. In my opinion, if the police were directed to leave returns at, each house, as they do when an ordinary census is being collected, it would meet our ends. I think penalties such as those provided in the Bill - in one case a fine of £50 or imprisonment for three months, and in another a fine of £500 or imprisonment for three years - are unnecessary.
As to the wealth census, it seems to me that if it is compiled in accordance- with the schedule to the Bill it will be an absurdity. No doubt the taking of a wealth census appeals to a large number of persons who think that in this way the wealthy can be compelled to make their due contribution to the cost of the war. The wealthy ought to be made to pay, but, to my mind, the only effective, and the least expensive, method of collecting taxation from the wealthy is to impose an income tax, and the sooner the Government impose a Commonwealth income tax for war purposes, so that all may pay according to their ability, the better. The collection of the proposed wealth census will cause great vexation. At Deeford. on the Dawson River, in my electorate, there are a number of brave settlers, some of them from Lancashire, who nave taken up land. I have one particular couple in my mind at the present time - a man and his wife, who are struggling to make a living on a farm where they enjoy none of the comforts of life, and have few of the necessaries of their position. They are 2 or 3 miles from water, but do not possess a horse and cart, and therefore have had to place spikes at each end of a barrel and attach it to shafts in order to draw home a supply themselves. Under the -schedule they would be compelled to state the value of their landed property, which might be £300 or £400, but their actual return from that property is practically nothing The Attorney- General often conies to Melbourne by the same route as I follow, and must have seen a big twostoried house, containing, perhaps, twenty rooms, which is empty, and for months past has been for sale. If the owner of that house were compelled to state its value, he might put down £5,000, but actually it is producing nothing What we require to .know is the wealthproducing value of property.
– The Government intend to ask for particulars as to income, as well as particulars as to wealth. .Mr. HIGGS. - I shall come to that. What we need to know is what can the people pay towards the cost of this war.
– No doubt, in order to ascertain the resources of the country, we should distinguish between capital, that is wealth used for the production of more wealth, and wealth not so used. How does the honorable member propose to do that?
– We know the incomes of the people now.
– What we require to know is the revenue-producing resources of the community. A man may have a home on which he has spent a great deal of money which produces no income.
– Shall we not be able to ascertain from the income return what the wealth of the country is ?
– Yes; but in our old-age pensions legislation we have inserted a provision exempting the home of a pensioner from assessment, so that, no matter what it may be worth, the possession of a home does not disentitle a person to an old-age pension of 10s. a week. Many persons will not sell their homes because of their sentimental attachment to them. The law recognises that the home sometimes does not produce wealth. The interjection of the Attorney-General supports my contention that a return of the wealth of the community is not necessary, and will be of no value. The wealth of individuals is continually changing.
– There is a constant relation between the amount of wealth and the amount of income produced by it.
– No; the relation is ever varying.
– The Government have invited suggestions, and I have accepted their invitation. The schedule compels the return of information regarding all forms of property, but there is a dragnet provision to include “ all other property,” which, I presume, means jewels and all sorts of things not otherwise specified. It has been suggested that clergymen and policemen could be asked to assist individuals in filling up their returns.
– God help the citizens if they have to call in the police to fill up their returns.
– But imagine the position that might be created in a countrydistrict if a clergyman, in filling up a return, found that a parishioner - a lady, perhaps - owned property worth £5,000. He might well ask, “ How is it that, possessing all this wealth, you put only 3d. into the plate last Sunday?”
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7. £5 p.m.
– I was referring prior to the adjournment to the difficulties that would stand in the way of those called upon to furnish financial returns as set forth in the schedule. Assistance will, no doubt, be given to these people if they require it. Clergymen and others will probably help, and their help will probably be needed, because the property that has to be scheduled includes everything that can be mentioned. Houses, land, cattle, sheep, horses, vehicles, stocks and shares, money lent - everything, from diamonds to perambulators. The Government, I am sure, have no desire to give the people any unnecessary trouble, or to cause any undue alarm or anxiety, but this return is calculated to do that, and, notwithstanding the penalties suggested for failure to comply with th j Act, I do not believe that the return will be worth the paper it is written on three months after it is furnished, because the values of property change every day. I should like my honorable friend, the honorable member for Darwin, to tell us what the value of his property. is today as compared with what it was eleven months ago. We all know what a tremendous fall there was in house property then. The values of stocks and shares also fluctuate very considerably from day to day. A drop of £1 per share in a week, or even in a day, is not uncommon in some companies. I notice also that the value of furniture is to be included in the return of wealth. Of what use can a return of the furniture in any man’s house be for the purpose of ascertaining the wealth of the country ? The furniture in a house may be worth £1,000; sent down to the auction room it would probably realize £150. Of what value can such a return possibly be?
– Is it not net income that is required ?
– What net income is there from household furniture, unless it is furniture leased out on time payment? Who gets income from household furniture?
– The schedule applies to personal effects also.
– That is so. Supposing a man has a number of Mr Morgan shares ! Mr Morgan is in my electorate, and the shares frequently com’e under my notice for that reason. There has been a better report during the last week or so, and the shares have gone up in value several shillings; but I have in my recollection some shares that were once worth £1, and that to-day are worth nothing. In a few weeks’ time they may have gained in value. Are we going to punish every individual who refuses to send in returns as to the value of his share properties? Are we to punish people if they fail to send in the value of the jewels they wear? I do not know whether the feathers worn in some of the beautiful hats we see are also to be included under “ personal effects.” If the law is to be carried out, and if the people are to be fined anything from £50 to £500 if they do not fill in the return, naturally the majority of the people within the Commonwealth will try to comply with the law, and some of them, if they are unable to do it themselves, will employ an accountant, paying him anything from a few shillings to a few pounds for his services. If they are unable to get an accountant, they may go to a lawyer. The point I am trying to make is that I do not think that the wealth census, as set out in this schedule, will do anything but create vexation, with unnecessary expense, to a great number of people. I do not desire that this Labour Govern.ment shall appear before the public as an unbusinesslike Government, but it certainly will appear in that light if it allows the portion of the schedule referring to wealth to remain part of the Bill.
– Have you a suggestion?
– Yes. I have a suggestion with which I think the honorable member will agree. I believe that in the early days of this Parliament he suggested that there should be an income tax. I agree with him. The income tax is, I think, one of the fairest taxes that can be imposed.
– Do you mean in addition to the State tax?
– In addition to the State tax. I suggest that there should be a war income tax to meet the present extraordinary expenditure; it has to be met somehow. We have for revenue purposes imposed upon the people of Australia £2,500,000 of extra taxation through the Customs. Beer, tobacco, and spirits, I believe, are the items chiefly affected, and I believe the people generally will not object to the raising of this extra £2,500,000; but we must bear in mind that tha majority of the people who will pay that tax will be the working classes of the community. They will, without a doubt, provide the greater part of that £2,500,000. . The Attorney-
General has asked for suggestions, and, with all the modesty that should characterize a member of Parliament, I propose to comply with his request. I do not think anybody will, at the present time, put forward a proposal that those who can afford to pay should not pay. The other day I heard a man worth £100,000 say that the money would have to be found, and that those who held great wealth should not object to pay their share. We are going to add enormously bo the public debt of the Commonwealth.
– This is not a taxation Bill.
– I respect my friend a very great deal, but I do not think that his interjection is at all pertinent. He says this is not a taxation Bill, but if that portion of the Bill which refers to the wealth census and the income of the people does not mean taxation, what does it meant
– Does the honorable member say that this Bill is a prelude to fresh taxation ?
– If this step is not being’ taken preparatory to new taxation to meet the enormous expenditure on the war, its presentation is a waste of the time of this House. I hope the public of Australia will realize that the Labour Party is not responsible for the war taxation which will be imposed as a result of this measure, or for this measure itself. On every platform throughout the world the Labour party has declared itself against war. We have at all times in Australia recommended that, inasmuch as other nations were preparing to fight, we must prepare to fight, too; but the principles of the Labour party in Australia, or in any other part of the world, have always been against war.
– We cannot help ourselves.
– I hope the public of Australia, when they come to think about this war, will realize that, and not regard us as being ready to follow the counsels of our opponents.
– You said that without a smile.
– I am quite serious. I know many people at the last election, when the war was commencing, realized the fact that in the Labour party’s platform nothing could be found that was in any way calculated to set one nation against another.
– Can you find anything in any other platform of any other party that is so calculated ?
– This is a case of Hobson’s choice.
– We have to meet this war expenditure, and I think we should impose an income tax upon the people who are best able to pay. I have heard honorable members say, and I think there is something in the argument, that there should be a tax upon amusements. When I go to a picture theatre, and see thousands of people there - thousands of people go to West’s every night, and very poor accommodation they are given ; the seats are very hard, and people are charged up to halfacrown for them - it does not seem that we are very seriously affected by the war, and it seems to me that a tax upon amusements and upon picture theatres would be a very good means of raising some of this extra revenue.
– How would the honorable member reach the man who is too mean to indulge in any form of amusement?
– I have read the speeches delivered by statesmen in the Old Country regarding these very matters. Mr. Lloyd George, I think, when considering what should be done to make the taxation of the Old Country bear as equitably as possible on all classes of the community, took the view that the people should pay a tax upon tea.
– There is such a duty in the Old Country.
– Quite so. The question before us is as to what the Federal Parliament should do to raise money to meet the war expenditure, and my answer to the inquiry is that an income tax is the best form of taxation to impose for the purpose. A man should pay according to his ability to pay. If a man does not get the income, he does not pay the tax.
I have before me a return prepared by the Commonwealth .Statistician, under instructions from the honorable member for Darwin, who was then Minister of Home Affairs, showing the amount of incomes over and above £200 per annum received by the people of the Commonwealth in 1911.
– Would the honorable member fix £200 per annum as the exemption ?
– I am inclined to think that a £200 exemption would be fair and just. The Attorney-General said this afternoon that all classes would have to pay this Avar expenditure. I think they should, and that those who receive £200 per annum and less than that are paying very heavily for the present war. The cost of living has, in some cases, risen 100 per cent. The return to which I was referring when interrupted W111 be found at page 157 of the famous departmental Schedule prepared under instructions from the honorable member for Darwin, and it shows the distribution of incomes in Australia estimated as for the year ending 30th June, 1911.
In that year 114,195 persons, it was estimated, received £62,637,896, in the following proportions : 56,678 persons received £10,511,131, in sums above £200 and up to £300 per annum; 32,032 received £10,671,018, in sums above £300 and up to £500 per annum; 10,092 received £6,046,817, in sums above £500 and up to £750 per annum; 6,136 received £4,744,257, in sums above £750 and up to £1,000 per annum; 4,256 persons received £5,267,579, in sums aboA-e £1,000 and up to £1,500 per annum; 1,465 persons received £3,343,220, in sums above £1,500 and up to £2,000 per annum; while 3,536 persons received £22,053,874, in sums above £2,000 per annum. These 3,536 persons received about an average of £6,236 each per annum, whereas there were 2,411,479 persons receiving less than £200 per annum each. I have taken the statistics for 1911 because, whilst incomes increased in 1912 and 1913, and possibly in 1914, incomes to-day are likely to be about what they were in the year I have named.
An all-round income tax of Is. in the £1 on the £62,637,896, estimated to be the amount of the incomes of over £200 each in 1911, would realize £3,131,894. I do not propose that there should be an all-round income tax of Is. in the £1, but, in order to raise a revenue of £3,000,000 - and we ought . to raise that amount, if not more, to meet the war expenditure - the Government should impose a graduated income tax, commencing as low as possible in the case of incomes of over £200 and not exceeding £300 per annum. In respect of those incomes, I think that a tax of
Id. in the £1 would be sufficient. Thereafter the tax could be so graded as to require those receiving £10,000 per annum to pay the maximum, and so as to permit of at least £3,000,000 per annum being raised, as it would be raised, by an all-round tax of Is. in the £1. I sincerely hope that the AttorneyGeneral will see his way clear to omit from the schedule the line which calls upon even the poorest person in the community to furnish a return of his furniture and effects - of his personal property of every description. Of the 2,411,479 persons who receive less than £200 per annum, fully 1,000,000 have property of some kind, but property, that will be of no service to the Government in raising revenue to meet the war expenditure. This return is a complicated one. An ordinary income-tax return is difficult to fill in, and, generally speaking, those who have incomes sufficient to bring them within the range of the tax, have brains enough, or, rather, I should say, know enough, to fill them in.
– “ Brains enough “ is a rather dangerous expression to employ.
– It is rather invidious. Unlike some of my honorable friends I do not think that the fact that a man is wealthy necessarily proves that he is a brainy man. Many who enjoy large incomes have to engage lawyers and accountants to fill in their income-tax returns. If the schedule be agreed’ to as it stands, at least 1,000,000 families in the Commonwealth will be called upon to furnish an estimate of the .value of their household furniture. This will cost a lot of money and will be productive of no useful result. I could understand the AttorneyGeneral saying on behalf of the Government, We require a census showingthe number of horses, motor-cars, and various other vehicles privately-owned that might be used for transport purposes, or showing who could, if required, accommodate soldiers in case of war. But the requirement of a return as to household furniture seems to me to be absurd, and if adopted will bring upon the head of the Government, and the party as a whole, nothing but censure and blame. The particulars necessary for the information of the Government in securing the revenue necessary to meet the war expenditure are easily obtainable. The necessary machinery, is already set up. The information, indeed, is already available in the return to which I have just referred. All that the Government need do is to call upon those who have- incomes exceeding £200 per annum to state what was their income last year. The State Governments have their income-tax offices, and all the machinery necessary for us to elicit this information. The Government have only to come down with a graduated war income tax, and it will be speedily put into operation. On the other hand, this proposal to take a census of the household furniture in the cottages of the people, and of the stocks and shares owned by the people, will involve a delay of some months. Are we to wait five or- six months for such a return before imposing the necessary war taxation ? I think such taxation should be passed by this Parliament before we adjourn. It is said that we are to adjourn a fortnight hence, but I doubt whether it will be possible for us to do so. Even if the Government’s intention be to adjourn Parliament this month, we ought to pass a War Taxation Bill before that date, so that the tax could be collected on the basis of last year’s incomes. We wish to know what is the value of the wealth of the community for taxation purposes. All we require to know is how much a person earns. Those who earn or receive more than £200 a year ought to pay taxation in accordance with their means. During the last four or five years I have heard of a man buying a property in Sydney for £10,000, and selling it within a year for £24,000. I know of a man in Queensland who bought a station property for £10,000, and sold it for .£32,000.
– Have you known of a man buying for £30,000 and selling for £10,000 ?
– I have. If this return of wealth is obtained is it proposed to make a straightout levy on all those who own wealth ? . Are we to say to the man who owns £2,000 that we want £50 of it? If we are to do that, and that £2,000 is represented by bouse property, and the man has no money in the bank, he will be forced to either borrow or sell. What chance will a man have of getting a reasonable sum for his property if he, and, perhaps, a hundred others, are compelled to rush into the market with their properties in order to raise money to meet the levy for war purposes? I think the Attorney-General will act wisely if he abandons that particular portion of the Bill, and gets the information he requires from the income tax returns. If he will do that, and if the Government will introduce their war taxation proposals at an early date, they will get all the money they need.
– I experience difficulty in considering; this Bill in the way I should like to because of the absence of existing statistical information. The name of the Government Statistician has been mentioned several times during the debate, but we have no report from him as to whether he considers the Bill necessary for the purpose for which it is intended or as to how long the obtaining of the information will take. The Attorney-General has stated that the census will occupy one or two weeks, but my opinion is that, if the work is to be done at all well, it will occupy a considerable time. It will take a week to get the census-papers to some of the States, and then the local administrations will have to be organized. That will take a long time. The population of the Commonwealth is very scattered, and, in some districts, this Bill will not be heard of for months, and even when news of it does reach the people they will be very slow to fill in the returns. It is absurd to impose heavy penalties or imprisonment for non-compliance with the provisions of. the Bill. I do not believe in manufacturing crimes, but the Bill does that by proposing to commit a man to prison if he does not furnish a return within a certain time. I should not object to fining a man if he omitted to furnish his return, but I. am not in favour of sending him to prison, except for a very heinous offence. Surely Mr. Knibbs has been asked to report on this proposal, and if the Attorney-General has such a report, I ask him to give honorable members the benefit of it. It is not fair to ask the House to deal with this Bill without such a report. The first question we have to consider is as to whether the Bill is urgently necessary. If we think it is, we must ask ourselves how long it will take to get the information we are seeking. We ought to have from the Government Statistician a full report as to what is proposed to be done, how it shall be done, and the time required to do it. I am quite sure that the only medium through which the work can be done expeditiously is the electoral and statistical machinery of the various States. If the Bill is passed, and the information is collected, it will be very valuable, as all statistical information in regard to the wealth of the country, and the numbers and ages of its people is, but I would remind honorable members that we are not deficient of that information at the present time. Our electoral rolls, which were supposed to be fairly accurate at the last general elections, contain the names of every person over the age of twenty-one years. Then there is statistical information published by Mr. Knibbs in which he shows the number of men and women in the Commonwealth between various ages.
– He shows that there are over 500,000 men in the Commonwealth between eighteen and thirty-five years of age1-
– That information has been culled from the last census returns, and from other statistics which have been compiled since that date.
– The individual cannot be found in those statistics.
– At the last census the age of every individual in the Commonwealth was shown, and from the particulars, then obtained it would be possible to compile information in regard to the number of people between certain ages far’ more accurately than it will be possible to do from the hurried census pro- i posed in the Bill. The number of persons of military age is about all the information ‘which we require to know. The particulars as to people’s health, condition, and occupation can only be obtained in detail by a very close and elaborate organization. When the information is obtained, what is to be done with it? ‘We know we cannot coerce men to go to the war.
– We shall know the number of persons who follow avocations which fit them for service in connexion with the war.
– That information may be obtained by a very close scrutiny, but who is going to do that? All this information may be very useful for statistical and other purposes connected with the administration, but I do not think it will be of any use for the purposes of the present war. We hope that the war may not last long.
– We hoped that six months ago.
– What is it proposed to do ? Is the honorable member going to coerce men to fight?
– Then, what right has the honorable member or any one of us to complain of the unwillingness of young men to go to the war, seeing the splendid response already made? At the beginning of hostilities we did not take the war very seriously; the difficulties and dangers did not seem so great as they are now. But we are not to blame for that. The same ignorance prevailed in the United Kingdom. In Australia we were led to believe that Kitchener’s Army numbered millions, and we had no idea that there was a shortage of men and munitions. As soon however, as it was discovered that our obligations were greater than we had thought, men rallied to the colours in large numbers, and they will do so again when the necessity and danger are pointed out. The people have not been awakened to the facts until within the last few weeks.
– Some who are willing to go to the war would do better to remain behind.
– I again ask the honorable member what he will do when he gets the information. I do not know whether we have power to coerce men. But, assuming that we have power to institute conscription, is it necessary to even think about such a resort at the. present time. So far as home defence is concerned, we already have conscription.. Every man between the ages of eighteen and sixty years can be called upon to de.fend the country from invasion.
– Can you not draw a distinction between conscription and organization ?
– I can see that I am not likely to convince the honorable member. I am not arguing that the information would not be. useful if we had it, but that we shall not have the information in suflicient time for it to be’ of use in connexion with the war. And, even if we do get it in time, we cannot make use of it, except by recourse to conscription. We might publish in the press the names of all those who were willing to serve, but I do not know that honorable members are willing to do even that. Already we can get all necessary information in regard to the ages of our people, and I desire to know why the Government have not submitted a report from the one man in the Commonwealth who is able to report with authority - the Government Statistician. Why is there not a report from Mr. Knibbs showing the time that would be occupied in gathering the proposed information, and how much the work would cost - showing, in short, what information is necessary beyond that which we already possess? I cannot suppose that the AttorneyGeneral has made a proposal of this sort without, not only a report from, but many conferences with, the Government Statistician; and if that gentleman has made a report I think it ought to be placed at the disposal of honorable members, I do not wish it to be thought for a moment that I am in any way opposed to information of the kind being gathered ; but my idea is that, by the method proposed, it will not be made available in time to be useful, and, moreover, as I have said before, we already have enough information for the purposes of the war. As to the wealth returns, we know that in most of the States there are land taxes and income taxes, and there is a Commonwealth land tax, so that the value of every piece of land in -the country is known. Then, of course, the income of every person in the community is known in every detail, together with the sources from which it is derived. Of course, it may be that it is desired to know the incomes of those who now fall within the exemptions in relation to income tax, and we know that the numbers of such persons are very much greater in proportion than of those who pay income tax. I can hardly think, however, that that is the object of the Government; but if it is, an attempt to carry it out will result in many anathemas. I cannot see what more information is required than that already available at the present time. Personally, if I had to fill in a return of the kind, I should simply have to write to my agents in Perth and get them to send my latest income tax and land tax figures. We must not forget that it is not the property one owns, but the income from it that constitutes wealth; and very often the income from property is nothing at all. The .wealth of the country is fairly well known, not only generally but in detail, by the Statistical Departments of the States and the Commonwealth ; and I see no reason to go over the ground again for the present purpose. At a time like this, when we all desire to assist the Government in every way we can, I do not wish it to be thought that I am standing in the way of the Government in the collection of any information that it may consider to be useful; but, for the reasons I have given, I do not think it is necessary or wise to undertake the trouble and expense involved in the proposal of the Government. I hope that to-morrow we shall have a report from Mr. Knibbs; and if he can point out that the information already at our disposal is not sufficient for the present emergency, it will go a long way to convince me that the views I have expressed to-night are not based on fact. Pending that report, I urge on the Government nob to enter on a business which I believe will be futile in so far as the present war is concerned.
.- I have listened very carefully to the debate, and I have yet to be convinced that this measure is going to do as much good as the Attorney-General appears to think. There is, I fancy, a way of organizing for the effective conduct of the war without the elaborate machinery now proposed. I suppose we are all agreed that what we require here, as well as in the Old Country, is, as Lord Kitchener said in his great speech the other day, men, munitions and money. In Australia, up to the present time, there have been about 100,000 recruits, and we have heard the honorable member for Flinders estimate that, if the example of Victoria be followed, another 50,000 will be added. If our object is to have 100,000 men in the fighting line at Gallipoli, and there is a wave of enthusiasm passing over us, we shall probably get enough recruits for a considerable period in advance. If the measure before us is necessary, it is to my mind overdue, because what we desire to have are men who are not married, and not men who would be useful to us later on in the production of munitions. Is there no other machinery of which we can avail ourselves at the present time t What is there to prevent the Government issuing regulations providing that the unmarried men now offering shall be taken first, and those who would be more useful in this country, placed on a reserve list? What I mean is, why should we not take the single men first, and place mechanics and others who are offering, and who would be useful later on in the production of munitions, in a reserve force? Where is the necessity to get these returns from all over Australia regarding- men between the ages of eighteen and sixty, when all that is necessary can be done now? I have here the call which was issued by Lord Kitchener on the 27th May - a little over six weeks’ ago - as follows : -
I have said that I would let the country know when more men were wanted for the war. The time has come ; and I now call for 300,000 recruits to form new armies. Those who are engaged in the production of war material of any kind should not leave their work. It is to men who are not performing this duty that I appeal.
– At the same time, the House of Commons is at this present moment, I suppose, considering a Registration Bill almost identical with our own.
– It is no wonder. In the British Army to-day there is something like 60 to 65 per cent, married men - a very unsatisfactory state of affairs - and those who are required for the production of munitions are told not to submit their names as recruits. Could we not do something similar here without adopting the methods of the Bill ? It has been stated that - the measure is not a first step towards conscription ; but, if it is worth while to spend £150,000 in registering the manhood of Australia between the ages of eighteen and sixty years, to bring some sort of moral pressure on single men who ought to, but will not, enlist, we should logically follow this course with compulsion.
– Otherwise it is useless.
– Is the honorable member aware that the exportable wheat crop of Australia this year will be worth £25,000,000, and that, if the result of this registration is the efficient harvesting and marketing of that crop, the cost will be less than Is. per cent. ?
– The honorable and learned gentleman is now introducing industrial considerations. Is this measure proposed for both war and industrial purposes ?
– It is proposed in order that, as an organized community, we may face the problem which confronts us, and so that industries essential to the prosecution of the war may not be disabled by the taking away of men who cannot be  spared. That is, perhaps, the main object of the measure.
– -The great bulk of those who are enlisting come from the cities and towns, not from the country districts.
– Nonsense !
– An analysis of the returns that have been published bears out my statement.
– The honorable member is speaking only of this “ cabbage garden.” What about New South Wales ?
– The Premiers of the States purpose holding a Conference in reference to the harvesting of what is expected to be a record wheat crop. They do not look to the Commonwealth for assistance in this matter. The Premier of Victoria -expects the Commonwealth to provide means for the exportation of the surplus grain, but the Commonwealth is not expected to organize forces for the harvesting of the crop. That is regarded as a State duty.
– The Commonwealth and the States deal with the same set of men - the men of Australia, who will harvest our crops and fight our battles.
– I take it that the Government are dealing with this matter for war purposes, and that it will leave to the States the organizing of forces to help the farmers to harvest the great wheat crop that is anticipated. As to the proposal to collect statistics relating to wealth, I agree with a good deal that has been said to-night. It should be stated whether it is intended to commandeer part of the capital about which information is sought, or whether the information is needed merely in order that taxation may be imposed on the wealth of the country. I can understand the collection of returns as to the wealth owned by the people of Australia if it is intended to commandeer part of that wealth, but if the object in view is to impose a war tax on incomes, or on property, this collection of statistics is not necessary. In my opinion, information regarding men, munitions, and money can be obtained in a simpler way than that proposed.
.- With the second of the proposals in the Bill - the collection of a wealth census–] shall deal very shortly. We must not, at present, assume that this will determine what taxation shall be imposed when the expense of the war, which is increasing, reaches a certain limit, rendering further taxation necessary. It will then still be open to us to decide whether the tax
Mr. Glynn. shall be on wealth, or on incomes produced by wealth, or by energy. It cannot be assumed that on the spur of the moment we should come to a decision on a point of economic policy in regard to which, for the last thirty years, there has been such a divergence of opinion amongst Radicals, and upon which, so far as any decision has been arrived at, it is one adverse to a general tax upon wealth without differentiation between its component parts. I need not elaborate the matter, because honorable members generally are perfectly familiar with the distinctions that are drawn between the income produced under economic conditions, from land, and that produced from capital, which is being continually turned over in the course of commercial operations, and with the question whether taxation should be imposed on the income earned during a year, or on capital, which may, perhaps, under the conditions of the moment be earning nothing. I do not think that it is possible to get, within a week or a fortnight, anything like a return effective for guidance as regards the wealth of the Commonwealth. I know personally an estate whose value it has taken three months to assess approximately for the purposes of State taxation, and the whole matter has to be gone over again in connexion with the taxation imposed by the Commonwealth Estates Duty Act, which has only just come into force. In a valuation of this kind there are many elements to be considered, which cannot be dealt with within the time prescribed in the Bill, and it would be futile to expect even men of means with clerical assistance at their disposal, to make a return at all acceptable even for the purposes of a sudden policy. I shall be only too pleased to show to the Attorney-General the results of some inquiries within my own knowledge to prove that statement. The position of comparatively poor persons who have never been asked to make a return of their property, which contains, perhaps, assets which on the grounds of common decency we would not attempt to attach, is even worse. By asking for the information we should merely irritate. Mr. Glynn.
– Has the honorable and learned member paid attention to the way in which the wealth census of the United States of America is collected?
– I have read a great deal on the subject, including many of the reports issued during the last twentyfive or thirty years. I have read the works of Ely and Sumner on the matter. They are all condemnatory of the effects of the imposition of a wealth tax.
– I refer to the wealth census.
– I cannot speak from intimate knowledge of the method employed, but I know from professional, and sometimes personal, experience of the administration of State Acts, that it is impossible to get from average persons, within a fortnight or three weeks, returns sufficiently accurate to guide us in the imposition of taxation. As regards methods of taxation, the greatest difficulty is to find a means of carrying out the common object. I, for one, am not going to accept the theory that because the Government say that a certain method must be adopted, the existence of the war is an apology to my conscience or to the public for agreeing to it. What we ask from the Government is the assurance that certain measures are necessary for the public safety, and that certain monetary provision must be made to attain our ends. But we are not going to bow our heads to authority, and say that whatever way of raising money Ministers may suggest must be agreed to without demur. We cannot throw to the winds our knowledge of economics and our experience of practical conditions, and accept the* crudest notions, it may be, of comparative amateurs as to the best methods of meeting our common desires. As to the proposal to register the men of the country, a similar proposal was mooted in the United Kingdom by Lord’ Selborne some four months ago, and it was turned down. I read a good deal of the criticism directed for and against it - there is an article on the subject in a copy of the Nation, which reached me by the last mail - and I notice that in the newspaper articles it is discussed as the first step to conscription. I do not say that it is the first step to conscription, but this criticism is significant. The article in the Nation is headed “ The Peril of Conscription.” In it the writer pays a high tribute to the effect of the voluntary system. Attention is drawn to what is being done in the Dardanelles, and over the’ whole field of operations, by persons of British blood, in answer to the deep though unexpressed desire of the Empire that all should rally round the flag. The danger of some of these cheap expedients which are often sprung upon the community spontaneously, on the spur of the moment, is made plain. The writer says -
Some people are urging, like Lord Selborne that we need a new organization to draw up a register, showing what arc the available resources of the population, and what kind of service different persons can best perform. At first sight the proposal has an engaging simplicity. But it is important to remember that to carry it out involves a most elaborate piece of organisation (let anybody think what a vast business thd taking of the census is), and that the time and energy spent on it would be time and energy subtracted from some other pressing task.
It is stated that early in the war -
Mr. Belloc pointed out that to introduce conscription would be a serious impediment to the successful prosecution of the war, for the very reason that the machinery would have to bo created, and that it would work much worse than voluntary methods. The right way surely is to begin at the other end. We have to mobilize men and women for the production of munitions, and to secure that industry shall be as little disorganized as possible in consequence of the demands of the Army and of armaments. What machinery already exists? We have the Committee on Production designed to prevent interruptions of work on munitions. Wo have the Workmen’s Advisory Committee, the Local Armaments Committee, representing the trade unions as well as the employers, and the Board of Trade, With its Labour Exchanges and its register of special war workers.
I accept any method that on the whole seems conducive to the end in view, and shall not object to. the proposed registration, but it does not follow that it is necessary, I confess that I cannot see the necessity for it, unless it means conscription. The honorable member for Flinders, whose authority is very weighty with the House, has urged that, perhaps, by getting this return, we shall know who are the shirkers - who are the men who are not responding to the call of their country. It “is suggested that we might approach them, and let them suffer the moral coercion that would result from informing them that they have been somewhat lax in the recognition of their imperial and local obligations, and that we shall see. when the return has been com_2 piled, how many shirkers there are. Personally, I do not believe that the spirit of the people has failed. I do not believe that, comparatively speaking, there are many men of the unmarried class between twenty and thirty years of age who are not responding, or who require any sort of moral coercion or an imperative call to duty.
– There are thousands of them.
– Perhaps so; but there was a splendid response last week. The result of the recruiting campaign in Victoria has shown us that members of Parliament may not have sufficiently advocated the needs of the situation ; that the public have not had their minds sufficiently shaken up, so that there shall be nothing in the shape of lethargy, and. that everybody shall realize the magnitude of the issues, the greatness of the risks, and the consequent weight and pressure of general responsibility. I recognise as well as any one that the present is not the time for anything like complacency, or for deluding ourselves with the idea that records and prestige, however high, and not spirit and self-sacrifice, will pull us through. I recognise that this is not the time for chanting about “ the boys of the bulldog breed.” When ten nations are at war - when more than half the peoples of the earth are at war - I believe that every man who has the vigor of maturity in his loins, and who is capable of rising to the measure of a great emergency, ought to take his stand with resolution, and show in action as well as in words his appreciation of the duty he owes to his country. We cannot ignore the fact that Belgium - the vicarious sufferer from credulity on the one side and ruthlessness on the other - still suffers, and is despoiled ; that part of France - gallant, chivalrous France, to whom I am pleased we paid a just tribute of respect to-day - is still in possession of the enemy ; that it is only the spirit of Servia that sustains it in a trouble and a suffering that must have broke’n the spirit of a people of less vigorous fibre; that Poland - the name that was the inspiration to glory in our boyhood, and which I trust will again brighten the pages of romantic history - is now overrun by the armies of Germany and Austria; and that little Montenegro - active again according to the cables of the last two or three days - holds out with a vigor and intrepidity in a period of great stress and trial in a manner that, under the immutable decrees of an all just Providence, must, in the end, prevail. If we bring home to the youth of Australia a recognition of these facts, I believe that they must respond. They have done much up to the present. Mindful of what was done last week in Victoria, and with the memory of Gaba Tepe still fresh in our minds, we must feel that they will respond to the very utmost call of Empire and country. In the Mother Country there has been a splendid response. I noticed in the papers the other day that about 2,000,000 men have volunteered for the front, and that there are no fewer than 2,000,000 other men engaged in the manufacture of munitions for the use of those who have gone to the front. Oxford and Cambridge have sent about two-thirds of their average students to the front. The universities in every part of the United Kingdom have responded splendidly. I see also that tribute has been paid to- the patriotism of the workers. It was stated in the last White Paper issued by the British Government that 78 per cent, of the workers in some of the Admiralty dockyards were working from twelve to fifteen hours a week more than their average time, which is, if I am not mistaken, ten hours per day. The same rule holds good throughout the Admiralty service. With these facts before us we must expect that a proper appeal made to the mettle of which our men are composed must result in our getting all that we require. There never was a time when we wanted men of the very highest mettle more than we do now - men of the mettle of those whose endurance under galling conditions in the trenches on land, and whose efficient vigilance in the North Sea had no higher emotional stimulus than a steady sense of public duty. I hope that the measure introduced to-night will not result in anything in the nature of precipitate compulsion. I cannot but believe that the offer from Canada to provide 150,000 men for the front will be capped by Australia. Canada has, I think, already sent 100,000 men to the fighting line, but Colonel Hughes, the Canadian Minister of War, said the other day that Lord Kitchener could command 50,000 more when they were required. We have only to remember the tribute paid to the patriotism and the fighting qualities of our men at Gallipoli to know what we
Mr. Glynn. can produce. Even, the War Office report of the landing on Gallipoli, chilled as it must have been to some extent by the intimacy of the Department with the official censor, spoke with some emotion of the vigour and determination of the men from the Dominions. It told how the operation of landing in the face of modern weapons, with mines in the sea as well as on the land, with deep pits with spikes at. the bottom, had been accomplished successfully, and one cannot ignore also the splendid spirit of the Canadian troops. We read that 150,000 Germans attacked the Canadians at Ypres, and that, though the Canadians were outnumbered by ten to one, they met the emergency with such spirit that they kept their lines-
An Honorable Member. - And recovered their guns.
– And recovered their guns, although two-thirds of their artillery horses had been shot down at the very beginning of the battle. All I can say is this : It is for us now to realize the gravity of the situation which, I believe, we can combat if we push our energy and resources to the utmost, and if every one of us is ready to contribute his meed of effective service to the common local and Imperial cause. Youth and energy, with their associated buoyancy and alertness of mind and limb, are splendid personal endowments, but they are nothing when not manifested at a vital crisis like this, in the defence of one’s country’ and the inviolability of one’s home. The gratitude of a nation, and the respect of one’s friends, are a great, perhaps the best, reward for the patriotic discharge of duty, while the ignominy and shame that must be the penalty of recreance, and of ignoble ease, are a poor heritage to leave to those who come after us - to our children, whose greatest pride and patrimony should be a pure ancestral name. I feel that all we need do is to make a strong, forceful appeal to the youth of - Australia to find that they will follow the example of those who have gone before, that they will follow the men who have already reached the summit of spirit and achievement, and to find that there are thousands of men here waiting only the opportunity to emulate their comrades’’ glory, and to show the Empire the stuff of which they also are made.
.- After such an eloquent speech by the honorable member for Angas, some members have some diffidence in speaking; but so far as I am personally concerned all I have got to say is that I think we are doing in war time what ought to have been done in times of peace. British communities generally are about the most disorganized of all communities. The more organization we get the better we shall be. With regard to the wealth census, it appears, so far as I have been able to gather from United States documents, that such a census has been taken in the United States since the year 1850, and from this census, data has been collected upon which a considerable portion of the taxation legislation has been based. I have always felt- and the honorable the Minister of Home Affairs has been a strong advocate of the same idea - that we ought to be possessed of more information when we seek to impose taxation upon the people. The clearer our information is with regard to the wealth of the community the better able shall we be to impose taxation upon those who are best able to bear it. It is true that a certain amount of information comes to us from time to time from various taxation Departments. Our own Land Tax Department - I am not referring to the secret information that each one has to give - and the State Income Tax Departments offer a good deal of information in the bulk. But as a National Government it is necessary that we should take occasional stock of our resources. The more we know about our resources the better shall we be able to act both in an administrative and legislative sense. I have here several reports regarding the United States of America census, but I propose to make only one quotation -
For each decennial census since 1850 the Congress has authorized and directed the compilation of statistics of the aggregate wealth of the nation, or, in other words, of the value of all the tangible property within its borders. In authorizing and directing the making of this compilation, which has been called a national inventory or stock-taking, Congress has sought to secure for the nation the best approximation of what the business man prepares for his guidance when he makes an inventory of his possessions.
The chief sources of information from which this report is compiled, and from which statistics are made out are (1) by actual investigation by census agents, (2) by correspondence with State and local officials, (3) by .reference to printed reports and public officials, and (4) by estimates based on many sources of information. So that in taking a census of the wealth of the Commonwealth we are not following any new line. I do not know whether 1 misunderstood the honorable member for Angas or not, but I think that he spoke from the stand-point that statistics were to be compiled in order that a tax might be imposed upon wealth.
– Not necessarily.
– I do not take up that line. We may collect statistics in respect of the wealth of the community and yet propose other taxation, such as, for instance, an income tax, to which I believe the honorable member for Angas is favorable. The Commonwealth of Australia, and the other countries that are affected by this war, when seeking to raise more money, can resort to an income tax or to increasing previously imposed taxes. I believe it is necessary for us to have a stocktaking, not only in regard to the wealth and manhood of the community; but I believe also that it is essential, if we are going to become a properlyorganized community, that we must understand what are the occupations of the people, and where we can lay our hands upon individuals who are performing various classes of work. We have had the necessity for this brought very prominently before us by one of our own manufacturers. In to-day’s Argus, under the heading of “ Engineers in the Trenches,” “ Great Value at Home,” there appears the following : . -
Castlemaine, Tuesday. - In referring to-day to the readiness of Australian firms to manufacture munitions, Mr. D. Thompson, managing director of Thompson’s Proprietary Limited, said that unless qualified engineers were prevented from recruiting, the same trouble would arise here as in Great Britain, where engineers had to be brought back from the “trenches to the factories. His firm was prepared and equipped for the extensive manufacture of munitions, but if qualified engineers were accepted as recruits, the output of munitions would be correspondingly less. While admiring the patriotism of the engineers, and their readiness to assist the Empire, he considered they could render more assistance here than in the firing line, and he hoped the military authorities would not overlook this fact.
– Mr. Thompson asked such men at the local meeting not to enlist. ‘
– At some of the recruiting meetings which I have addressed I have pointed out “that those who can be employed in the manufacture of munitions of war can do more for the country by remaining here than by going into the trenches. In France, where there is a form of conscription in operation, the men are sent to the front in groups determined by their age, and without any regard to their several occupations. But within the last month or six weeks the French authorities have had to call upon those in the trenches who were formerly employed in the manufacture of munitions to return to their workshops.
– The same course has been followed by Britain.
– That is true. It is said by Hilaire Belloc that at the most no nation can afford to send more than 10 per cent, of its population into the fighting line.
– That ‘means that we can send 500,000.
– That would be the maximum. But we must not forget that our position is somewhat different from that of other nations. I believe that Australia has played a magnificent part in connexion with this struggle. We have sent our troops across a wider stretch of water than any other country has had to do, and as the Minister for the Navy has told us to-day, we have had a very large number of transports engaged in this. work. In that regard we have done splendidly. It may be that we can spare from our workshops some men who could not well be taken from the workshops of Great Britain or France; but we should take care that those who are competent to manufacture munitions of war, or to attend to duties pertaining to other industries which have as much to do with the winning of this war as have our soldiers in the trenches - industries engaged in clothing and feeding our men - do not enlist. Mr. Thompson has given expression to a sentiment which is entertained by all thinking men. This phase of the question has been discussed in a very intelligent manner by Mr. Chiozza Money. I read the other day an article from his pen in which, taking Hilaire Belloc’s figures, he pointed out that too large a percentage of miners, dockers, and railway men had been allowed to enlist in Great Britain. There has been a certain amount of disorganization in connexion with coal mining in the Old Country. From the coal-mining districts of Great Britain 240,000 men, principally coaJ-miuers, have gone to the front. When so large a body of men is drawn from a particular industry, disorganization must necessarily occur in connexion with it. Difficulties have also been experienced in the Old Country with respect to railway transit, and have been due largely to the fact that too many railway men have been allowed to go to the front. Again, there has been much trouble in connexion with the loading and unloading of ships laden with munitions of war and foodstuffs, because large numbers of dockers were sent to the firing line. Late in the day Great Britain and France have awakened to the fact that there must be some method in the selection of men for the front. And it may be necessary to say to some of our men, no matter how stout of heart or how physically fit they may be, “You can. serve your country better by remaining here in our workshops.” Even in time of peace I would support a measure of this kind because I believe in organization. If we are to make headway we must - know more about the resources of our community, and of the ability of our workmen. We should not repeat the mistake that has been committed by Great Britain and France. When I approve of this measure I have far removed from my mind any thought of conscription. I do not think for one minute that anything of the kind is intended. In making this proposal we are simply setting out to do what has been done in the United States for many years in respect to wealth. We are simply proposing to take an inventory of our men and of our resources. Why is it that we find it difficult to dislodge the Germans? Every one says that, apart from the military training which the men of that country have received, it is its marvellous organization of the last twenty-five years which has enabled it industrially and in a military sense to occupy its present position. Apart altogether from war, if we are to compete with such a country in time of peace, it is absolutely essential that our industrial forces should be organized.
– Does the United States do anything like that for which this Bill provides?
– I have here a report extending over 1,000 pages which was issued in connexion with the twelfth census of the United States of America, and which contains information of a very valuable character. If I were a member of Congress or of any of the State
Parliaments of the United States of America, I should often refer to such a document to ascertain the wealth of the community, and I am sure it would enable me to legislate equitably and justly. The right honorable member for Swan said that he believed in all necessary information being obtained, but he took exception to this proposal on the ground that most, if not all, of the information proposed to be elicited could be obtained at once from State and industrial sources. We have to admit that; but there has never been a census of the character proposed in this Bill.
– It will not be accurate if the return has to be made within seven days.
– The urgency relates chiefly to the manhood census; the wealth census must necessarily cover a longer period. Owing to Australia’s magnificentdistances, it will be difficult, even from the point of view of the mail service, to comply with the provisions of the Bill.
– We already have better information at our disposal than will be obtained from this registration.
– If I thought that”, I would vote against this Bill.
Sir John Forrest; I mean in regard to the wealth of the community.
– I think not. The Income Tax Commissioner for Victoria, for instance, would rightly refuse to give us all the information he has collected. He and his officers are sworn to secrecy, and would have no right to divulge, even to Federal officers, the information they have collected.
– They publish the ros u Its
– That is not so. The schedule to the Bill is a little more elaborate than an income tax schedule, but most of the information we propose to collect would be necessary to the imposition of an income tax. Is it not’ well to get this information in advance, so that we mav be ready to meet any emergency?
– We need a census of the ages and wealth of honorable members of this Parliament, so as to see who amongst us should go to the front.
– For several reasons I am debarred from going to the front. If I had the necessary military experience, I should not hesitate a moment, because a man with military experience, I understand, is allowed to enlist, even if he is above the military age. I intend to support this Bill, but if, in Committee, proposals are submitted from either side which I consider will make it more acceptable, I shall vote for them. At the present time, for the purposes of general organization from an industrial and manufacturing, as well as from a military, stand-point, I consider a Bill of this character is absolutely essential.
.- I believe that the Government, in introducing this Bill, have in mind a time of necessity that may arise when they will have to take further steps than are now being taken in connexion with the war. If the Prime Minister meant anything when he said that Australia was prepared to stand behind Britain to the last man and the last shilling, it is coming into evidence in the introduction of this Bill. It clearly shows that we are beginning to realize the necessity of putting forth the utmost efforts cf which we are capable to deal with the situation confronting us. It has been said here and in the Old Country that too large a proportion of married men, with families, join the ranks. Sixty-five per cent, of the British Army in the field today are married men. That is a state of affairs which the nation can contemplate only in the most serious light, since the nation will be responsible for the families of these men if they should fall in action. In the history of our race it has always been the aim and object of the younger men of the community, without responsibility, to take their share in fighting the battles of their country. This Bill, I feel, would not be approved by either party in this Parliament if it were not for the emergency of to-day. It is the emergency, in which we are placed without our own consent, which makes us unanimously support a Bill of this character. The Bill itself limits its operation to the duration of the war, but if Australia is to put 100,000 men in the trenches, and maintain that force intact, we must not only take a census of the men available, but, if the necessity arises, take some means of inducing them to go to the front. Every Britisher feels proud of the fact that our armies have nearly always been raised on a voluntary basis. The pride of our race has been that nearly always sufficient men in the prime of life have been prepared to come forward to defend the State. With other honorable members I hope that we may be able to continue that boast, but we must remember that the nations we are fighting are organized to the last man. Every man of military age in Germany, Austria, and Turkey is compelled to become an active unit in the defence of his country, and it is because of the British Empire’s disorganization in that respect that we are in our present position. Britain and its colonies are stronger, numerically, than France, but a few months ago the British troops were holding only one-eighteenth of the firing line. Of course, the Navy is doing magnificent work. An Empire of 60,000,000 people- I refer to the British Isles, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand - ought to be able to hold more than one-eighteenth of the front. The voluntary system is on its trial, and though we as a race may wish to see that principle maintained, we must not forget that the French newspapers are wondering if the British voluntary system is not about to break down. They are looking for the advent at the front of a greater British force than is fighting at the present time, and also for a larger supply of munitions, and only disorganization has prevented us doing more than we have done. We are justly proud that our Navy has swept the enemy vessels from the sea, but we are not helping on land as we should do to drive the enemy back from the territory he has gained. If the necessity arises, we may have to introduce conscription in Australia. The Defence Act lays down the principle that all men between eighteen and sixty years of age must, at the command of the Government, shoulder a rifle and defend the country from attack. Does that mean that we shall fight only in Australia, or that we shall fight for the defence of Australia 1 My view is that the Act, properly understood, means that if the Government of the country demand that men between eighteen and sixty shall shoulder a rifle in time of necessity for the preservation of Australia, they shall fight for Australia wherever its integrity is assailed. I wish to read a couple of extracts from Bernhardi’s book as having a bearing on the question of whether the Australian troops on the Gallipoli Peninsula are fighting for the defence of Australia or are engaged in a war in which Australia is not interested. Bernhardi says -
Whenever Germany tries to acquire territories ‘which she requires, owing to the mi.
Mr. Boyd merical strength of her people and the economic importance of the country, she is inevitably placed before the choice either of fighting her united enemies or of submitting to the will of the Triple Entente, which dominates the world, and in which at the present moment England is the decisive factor, for England directs it.
Then he says later -
If territories suitable for colonial settlement are unobtainable, foreign territories must be conquered.
Those extracts give a clear indication of the policy of the German nation, and the Kaiser has said during the war that he is not concerned about the loss of the German colonies in the Pacific and South Africa, because the possession of those colonies will be settled in Europe. We must realize, as I believe the people of Victoria have realized during the last week, the absolute necessity of putting forth our best efforts in order to prove that conscription will not be necessary. But, if conscription should become necessary, it will be the duty of the Government, acting under the Defence Act, to say “ The fight for the preservation of the integrity of Australia is being fought at the Dardanelles, and on the plains of Flanders, equally as much as if it were taking places on Australian soil.” A lot may be said for conscription. Honorable members do not care to advocate conscription, because it is opposed to their conception of human justice. ‘ I do not like conscription, but the principle was introduced into the Defence Act for a specific purpose, and if the necessity arises we must alter o«r opinions and shoulder the responsibility of introducing that system. I know families which include stalwart sons who are without responsibility, and who are hanging back in this fight because other men are volunteering. Does not every member of the community receive equal advantages from the laws of the State ? Has not our liberty been preserved to us all equally by those laws; and is it not a moral duty and obligation upon every one of us who is fit to take a share in defending the integrity of the State ? That is a question that ought to be brought prominently before those people who are at present shirking their responsibility. I heard related on the public platform on Monday night how two apparently well-to-do men were riding in a tramcar as it passed the recruiting depot! One of them said to the other, “ What fools those men are to volun- teer.” A lady who was stepping from the tram said, ‘ ‘ Yes, they are fools to go to the war to fight for such cowards as you.” The virtue of conscription is that it makes every man in the community take equal responsibility, and if the purposes of this Bill are carried into effect the Government will be in a position to say, “If the recruiting system is to fail, we- shall take the responsibility of saying who shall fight and who shall not.” When that time comes, I believe the members of this House will be unanimous in their decision. I believe that the second schedule of the Bill providing for a return of wealth is as necessary as the first. I believe the two schedules should be issued together, but the Government would be well advised to allow a longer time for the return of the second schedule. The particulars required in the personal schedule can be filled in by any man in a day. No man need consult anybody as to his age and physical condition.
– He may have to consult his wife.
– That is the point. I know of young women without children who are preventing their husbands from going to the front, and of others who are preventing their sweethearts from volunteering, because the men might return with broken limbs. On the other hand, I know of women who are willingly yielding their only sons, and I have heard of families who have sent all of their men to the front. Instances like that show that there is an unequal distribution of responsibility; and if irresponsibility continues on the part of shirkers and loafers the Government will be well advised to take the responsibility “of saying to such men, “You are getting’ the protection of the State, you share the responsibility of defending it.” If it were known that such a course was threatened’, there are few men who would not voluntarily enlist in preference to being compelled to do so. But let us get rid of the old idea that “ one volunteer, is as good as ten pressed men.” All the men fighting in the German Army are pressed” men, but no British soldier who has faced them will say that he is as good as ten of the enemy. I would to God’ he were: the Germans would not then have got as far as they are to-day. If- the Government will extend the time for’ the- return of the particulars required, in the second schedule, so that people may have an opportunity of investigating their possessions, the result will be more successful” than if the Government insist that the two cards be returned together. Furthermore, that course will give a greater opportunity for a leisured classification of wealth. If the Government are successful in floating the £20,000,000 loan, as I have no doubt they will be, they will have all the money they require to finance the country for twelve months, at least.
– We must get the interest to pay for the loan.
– That is a detail. The main objective is the capital. Having got the capital, the Government will soon get the interest. But within six months we shall have the schedules in, and there will then be a classification of the wealth of the community. We shall then know the opportunities in front of us, and how to apply the taxation necessary to give the required interest. Possibly very few men here to-day will be alive when the cost of this war is paid off. We can only pay for the war by sinking funds spread over a number of generations; and that is the only fair way. Let us not forget that this country is fighting and spending money to-day for the preservation of the liberties of future generations.
– The Bill introduced by the AttorneyGeneral is two-edged, and to one aspect of it I have not the slightest objection. It has seemed to me for some time, and I am now convinced thoroughly, that we are short of statistical information in regard to the wealth of the community. The expressions of gentlemen opposite in this regard are most commendable. There is no doubt, as they have intimated, that the wealth held by the residents of Australia is really held in trust, and is as available and useful for the community as the wealth of the man whose capital is in muscle and not in gold. This Bill could properly, and ought to, have been, introduced as a separate measure in order to supplement the statistical information that we have in most other directions. Whether it would be possible to so arrange with the State Statistical Departments, and so save the overlapping that is bound to ensue when the schedule is put into operation - whether it would be advantageous, as well as economical, to try to federalize the sources of information - is- a- question- that may be left in the meantime. My main purpose in rising is to offer some criticism and objections to the other part of the measure, namely, to that dealing with the war census of individuals. In my opinion, the information sought for by the AttorneyGeneral is already provided. If the Attorney-General wishes to know today the names, addresses, and occupations of the people of the community ; he need not wait the seven days of which he spoke, because he could have it to-morrow morning. According to the Census and Statistics Act, section 12 -
The particulars to be specified in the Householder’s Schedule shall include the particulars following: -
The name, sex, age, condition as to, and duration of, marriage, relation to head of the household, profession or occupation, sickness or infirmity, religion, education, and birthplace, and (where the person was born abroad) length of residence in Australia and nationality of every person abiding in the dwelling during the night of the census day;
The material of the dwelling and the number of rooms contained therein;
– Are the employments set forth ?
– If the Minister of Home Affairs were not so impatient he could find out that, according to section 16 of the Act -
The Statistician shall, subject to the regulations and the directions of the Minister, collect, annually, statistics in relation to all or any of the following matters: -
Employment and non-employment;
Imports and exports;
Postal and telegraphic matters:
Factories, mines, and productive in-, dustries generally ;
Agricultural, horticultural, viticultural, dairying, and pastoral industries; (j)Railways, tramways, shipping, and transport;
Land tenure and occupancy; and (l) Any other prescribed matters.
– Can the Statistician tell us how many fitters there are in Australia ?
– He can, exactly.
– He cannot.
– If the honorable gentleman will take the trouble to look at No. 8 Year-Book, issued a few weeks ago, he will get exactly the information at page 464, whereon we are told of the number of men and women employed in the various industries, grouped under nineteen, headings.
– Are there any details there as to those who are capable and those who are not - as to those who have dependants and those who have none?
– All that information has to be provided under section 12 of the Census and Statistics Act. The Y ear-Book does not deal with health other than in regard to general diseases - that is, it does not give health particulars in regard to each individual.
– Nor names and addresses.
– The census returns certainly do deal with names, addresses, ages, and everything else. I am speaking of the 1911 census, which has been brought up to the 31st December, 1913, in Year-Book No. 8, since which time we have had quarterly bulletins and statistics that are quite clear as to the number of men available and liable for military service.
– Is it shown how many fitters there are in Australia today?
– The census papers must show each man’s occupation, and there is no difficulty in the world in that connexion.
– They do not take out a fresh census every day, there must be some guess-work.
– I am surprised to learn that the figures of our Statistician are only guess-work.
– To what particularly is the honorable member directing his criticism - that we have the information ? Or what does he mean?
– My objection is that you have the information to a certain point - that in this Bill you are asking for information, which, under the Census and Statistics Act, the Statistician can provide.
– Are you objecting to our passing the Bill ?
– You are passing a Bill to provide information that you already have, and the rest of the information you require could be obtained under regulation.
-I do not admit that.
– I do not suppose that you do ; otherwise this Bill would not have been introduced.
– I do not think that the honorable member understands what Ave are trying to do.
– I know that you are trying to get a register of all men in the community able to bear arms, so that when it suits–
– We are trying to do that, and a great number of other things. I cannot get the honorable member to see what we are trying to do.
– The unfortunate thing is that the Attorney-General interrupts before I have finished my sentence. - I take it that the Government are trying to get a register of all the men able to ‘ bear arms and assist in the manufacture of shells, and in other directions, with the idea that, should the necessity arise, these men can be compelled to work, whether they will or not.
– The honorable member does not see that there are other things that we propose to do quite as essential.
– I have the schedule oF the Bill here, and, after certain forma] replies, the people are asked to give particulars as to their health, occupation, military training, if any, and say whether they are ready to undertake any occupation other than that they are at present following. The only purposes of such information, especially in a War Census Bill, operative only during the war, must be war purposes. Otherwise what is the use of the Bill 1 The measure is brought in for war purposes only; it has no other object, no other declared intention.
– The honorable member is quite right, but the nation is at war. It is not a question of getting men to fight - there is no difficulty about that. The object is to organize the nation’ on a war basis.
– There may be denseness on my part, but I think it exists on the part of the Attorney-General. The nation has to be organized, and to that end you desire information which- I say you already have. There is no need for this Bill, except for the one reason - war. There is no need to ascertain the. addresses, occupations, health, and other conditions of the community unless with the object of ascertaining what they are able to do for the nation in a time of war. Why are these men wanted ? Is it because we are short of men - because re« cruiting has broken down ? Has the voluntary system failed ? I say it has not.
– Probably we shall be short of men.
– It is time to put up our umbrella when it rains.
– But we must have the umbrella !
– And we have the umbrella. The recruiting in Victoria is the answer to this Bill.
– What is a week’s recruiting ? “Mr. FINLAYSON. - I think it has been a magnificent response ; and on that ground I have no complaint to make. I have had the honour of attending and addressing several recruiting meetings; and I repeat that the response has been magnificent. What this Bill says is that there is not enough recruiting.
– Has the response here been greater proportionately than that in Great Britain ?
– Yes, I think so.
– You think so, but you know it is not so.
– I still say that our share in recruiting is a magnificent tribute to the patriotism of the ‘young Australians. It is a matter for congratulation that the young men of the community, from one end of the country to the other, have realized the gravity of the crisis - a gravity which no word could exaggerate. It is impossible to overemphasize the importance to Australia of the struggle now going on in Europe; and there is no doubt that the front line of the defence of this country is in Gallipoli. However, according to every statement made to-day, the object of this Bill is that we may be able to call up the men when we require them. There is a tacit admission that recruiting has failed and that it is necessary now to enroll men, and know where they are. It is said that this is not conscription - an ugly word that I do not like - but it looks mightily like conscription when we hear the AttorneyGeneral saying that we require an organization of forces to enable us to carry on, that we require personal service, and, in his own words, that “ we are endeavouring to find out whom we ought to call.” Then the honorable member for Flinders said that though the time had not yet come for conscription, it had come for the
Government .to appeal directly to those who were not coming” forward, and demand from them reasons. That honorable member has taken up quite a clear and consistent attitude. He has said all through that if men will not volunteer, an official letter should be sent to them demanding their services, or reasons for witholding them. The position I have taken up at every recruiting meeting is that I was not there to be the conscience of any other man, just as I would not allow any man to be my conscience. If you are going to demand of men that they shall give reasons for not obeying the call of the country, then you compel their consciences, and act as their judges, which I hold to be wrong. This may not bp conscription. Conscription, as generally understood, means the taking of men from their homes and ordinary avocations, and the subjecting of them to military training for a period .of two, three, or four years. That is not proposed now. But compulsory service is proposed, and I object to compulsory service in Australia at the present time, because I do not consider it necessary. It is not necessary at this juncture, because more than enough men are offering to supply all the requirements of the situation. More men are offering than the Defence Department can find accommodation for and equip. The Department is unable to cope with the number that is offering, and were the recruiting in the other States as brisk as that in Victoria, the authorities would be in a much more hopeless position than they are in now, when the situation is bad enough. To show that the ordinary opinion regarding the Bill is that it is really a measure providing- for compulsory service and conscription, I ask honorable members to read what the daily press says on the subject. The Argus of the 10th July- prints a powerful letter written by Lord Milner to the London Times, and honorable members will notice, that, the statements contained therein are exactly those that are being made by the advocates of this- Bill. Lord Milner writes-
The State ought not to be obliged to tout, for.- fighting- men. It ought to bo in a position to call out the number, it wants- as and when it wants, them,, to. call them out in the right order - the younger before the older, the unmarried before the married, the men whose greatest value is as soldiers in preference tq those who can contribute’ more to- the successful conduct, of the war,’ in a. civilian capacity, (is; makers of munitions, transport. workers tillers. ,of the soil, or what not. To do this systematically and fairly requires a census and proper classification. It is a big work of national organization. It will take time. That is why it is so terrible to see day after day passing without its being begun. The material advantages Of recruiting in an orderly and systematic -manner, on the basis of universal duty, instead of the present haphazard system, might not accrue for months, though the moral effect would be immediate and immense. But it is just the position in which we find ourselves six months hence, a. year hence, which will decide the final issue. . . . The unfairness of leaving it to individual intelligence or good-will to decide who is to bear the burden will become increasingly evident and disturbing to the public mind, . . . The way we are at present going on is’ unfair to everybody. It is unfair to our splendid men at the front and our gallant allies, but it is unfair also to thousands of men at home who are unjustly denounced as “ slackers “ or “ cowards.” …
I say “Hear, hear!” to every word that I have read, but I draw attention to the fact that the letter as published in the Argus is headed, “ A Plea for Conscription.”
– Never mind what the Argus says; the letter contains good common sense.
– Why do the AttorneyGeneral, the Leader of the Opposition, the honorable member for Flinders* and other supporters of the Bill say thai it does not mean conscription 1 If, in the minds of Ministers-, the time has arrived when we should have conscription let them say so. and I will support them.
– We have not arrived, at that time yet..
– Then the Government are playing with, matters with which they ought not to meddle. This is whatLord Kitchener said in the. great speech he. delivered in London last Thursday -
Steps will be taken to approach, with a view to enlistment, all possible candidates forthe Army, unmarried men being preferred*, before married when registration is operative. . . . It is not for me to tell you your duty.. That is a. matter for your conscience. Butmake up your minds. Do so quickly. Be honest with yourselves.
Until Great Britain: is so seized with thegravity of the situation as to do- what honorable members are urging that weshould do, I shall consider the Bill unnecessary.
– We have never followed Great Britain-; we have always led.
– Honorable. m«m- . bars seem, to have, got a scare that has- not: affected the British Parliament, which is much nearer to the danger than we are, and whose statesmen understand the position better than we do.
– Poverty is driving them in Great Britain.
– It is not poverty that is driving them. My objection to the Bill is that the men of the nation here, as in Great Britain, are realizing the need for volunteers, and there is no apparentimmediate necessity for a measure which will convey the suggestion to the people that we are goin<* to compel them to serve in any capacity either in or beyond Australia.
– Will the Bill prevent men from enlisting ?
– I think so.
– Let the honorable member give his reasons for that opinion.
– Men will say, “ The Government is going to take n census, and to call us up as it suits them. I shall wait until I am called up.”
– What did the lady ask the honorable member the other night?
– I have here the Argus report of what occurred. It says -
As Mr. Finlays.on resumed his seat, after a stirring appeal-
– Will the honorable member connect this quotation with the matter before the Chair?
– I shall do so easily. I am trying to show that it is not necessary to force men to serve ; that they will do so voluntarily. To continue the quotation - an elderly man in the audience called out, “Have you enlisted yet?” Then a lady cried out to Mr. Finlayson, “ Why don’t you go ? “
The report proceeds to say -
Mr. Finlayson shook liana’s with the Chairman and went.
Honorable Members. - Where?
– With the kind permission of the mayor, I spoke early, so that I might catch a train. In the Defence Act we have adopted the mayorciple of voluntary service for service outside Australia, which runs through our defence institutions like a golden thread. The assumption is that the men of this country can be relied on to defend it without compulsion and from purely patriotic motives. It is only under sec tion 46, which says that the GovernorGeneral may, in time of war, by proclamation, call out the Citizen Forces or any part of them for active service ; under section 59, which says that all male inhabitants of Australia, excepting those who are exempt from service in the Defence Force, who have resided therein for sixmonths, and are British subjects, and between the ages of eighteen and sixty, shall be liable to serve in the Citizen Forces; and under section 60, which says that in time of war it shall be lawful for the GovernorGeneral, by proclamation, to call on all persons liable to serve in the Citizen Forces to enlist and serve as prescribed - only under those sections, in time of war, is there any compulsion.
– Yet the honorable member says that our defence system rests on the voluntary principle. What is the good of a Defence Force in time of peace?
– It is in time of peace that we should get our Defence Force ready. Under the Defence Act, the Government have the powers for which they ask now.
– The Bill has nothing to do with conscription.
– I do not say that it has. Its intention is compulsory service, which, to my mind, is a very different thing from conscription. The point that I emphasize is that our idea of defence, military and naval, is that it shall be based on the patriotic service. of free men. But the only deduction from the remarks of the Attorney-General, and of those who support the Bill, is that when a certain time is reached you can call these men to serve, and demand their reasons for not serving.
– I commenced by saying that that was not the intention of the measure.
– I made notes when the honorable and learned member was speaking. He said, “ The present methods are suicidal and -inexcusable,” “ The organization of forces is necessary to enable us to carry on.” “ What is wanted now is despatch, expedition, and speed, for the ordinary official methods are useless.” “ We want this personal service record because we are endeavouring to find out whom we ought to call.”
– I did not say that.
– I took the words down when the honorable and learned member was speaking, and I would rather trust my notes than his memory. The attitude and careful phrases of the AttorneyGeneral amount to this, that the Bill is needed so that when the time comes .we can call men to serve.
– I absolutely deny that.
– The honorable and learned member will receive tomorrow morning the Hansard report of his speech, and I shall be glad to know whether the words I have quoted are not in it. The honorable member for Flinders said to-night that we should be able to send an official notice to the men whom we require, asking them to serve or to give their reasons for not enlisting, so that, by lot or by some other method, we could call them to the colours. The Leader of the Opposition said almost the same words last week. Let us be honest.
– Is the honorable member opposed to this ?
– Not if the necessity arises; but I have said that the necessity has not arisen, and is not in sight. The recruiting that is going on in Australia is a guarantee that we can get as many men as we want - that we are getting more men than we can properly handle. The men of Australia are just as good products of the old stock as the men of any other part of the British Empire. I am even prepared to believe that Australians are more patriotic to the flag than the men of any other part of the British Empire. If the necessity were to arise, if we once realized that there was an urgent demand, not a man of us here would not be willing to go to the front.
– The occasion is here now.
– It is not here now.
– Then, in the name of all that’s holy, when will it be here?
– I said a few moments ago that it was impossible to exaggerate the gravity of the situation, but the answer to that is the response that is being made to the appeal for recruits from one end of Australia to the other. What I am concerned about, however, is this : Here is the AttorneyGeneral of the Labour party - the party that during the whole of its career has op posed militarism and anything in the shape of compulsory military service, the party that has expressed itself as dreading anything of the nature of a military caste - submitting a Bill, the obvious reason for which is that, as we can compel men to serve in Australia, we should also have the power to compel them to serve outside Australia.
– Why does the honorable member, for the sake of his argument, put something into the Bill that is- not there ?
– I am not putting anything into the Bill. There may be nothing in the Bill itself, but there is in the schedule. The war census will not enable us to obtain statistics that everybody seems to admit are necessary at all times, but will provide us with information that will be unnecessary and useless at the end of the war.. If honorable members are in earnest, I am prepared to strike out that clause in the Bill in favour of a clause providing that .the statistics and requirements of this Act shall be made available at all times. Let us be honest about the matter, and say that at any time, if the Government of the day think it necessary that we should call upon men to serve in Australia, or outside Australia, that the call may be made; but what I regret, and shall continue to regret, is that I am a supporter of a Government that has brought in a Bill that contains even a suspicion of compulsory service without there being a sufficient guarantee for the necessity for that compulsory service.
– What would you call a sufficient guarantee ?
– When the voluntary system proves ineffective and useless. Up to the present time the voluntary system has been equal to every demand made upon it, both in Great Britain and in Australia. I will conclude by repeating my protest against this Bill, because it is unnecessary and provides for the introduction of a vicious principle in our national defence, and because it is altogether antagonistic to one of our most cherished ideals in the matter of national service.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Fleming) adjourned.
House adjourned at 10.25 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 14 July 1915, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1915/19150714_reps_6_77/>.