6th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m. and read prayers.
-I desire to ask the Minister representing the Minister for Defence if it is a fact that the services of chaplains are accepted in an honorary capacity for transport work between the Commonwealth and England? Is there any restriction as to the age of clerical gentlemen who offer their services in this capacity? How many chaplains have been appointed under such conditions within the last twelve months who are over fifty years of age ?
– I shall be glad to obtain the information asked for.
Appeals to Germans.
– I have received from the honorable member for Brisbane a letter informing me that he wishes to move the adjournment of the House to call attention to a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely : - “ The circulation of political leaflets printed in the German language.”
Five honorable members having risen in their places,
– The matter to which I wish to refer was first raised in this House by the honorable member for Wentworth on Wednesday last, and as I had not the opportunity yesterday to complete the remarks which I wished to offer regarding it, I have moved the adjournment now.
– The honorable member must not refer to a previous debate.
– I am glad that the newspapers admit this morning that the circular to which attention was drawn by the honorable member for Wentworth was absolutely innocent. The House must be satisfied that the honorable member bit off more than he could chew. When he rises in this chamber, one is always in doubt as to whether he intends to be cynical, satirical, or funny at the expense of his fellow members. However, I intend to take him seriously in this instance. The Prime Minister was very modest yesterday. Perhaps he did not care to read the translation of the circular to which his attention had been drawn on the previous day, because it contained a eulogy of the Administration of which he was a prominent member. He was, therefore, content to move that the document containing it be printed. Fortunately for myself and for the House at large, the translation is available. I wish now to let honorable members and the country know which is the political party that is associated with the Germans in this country. The honorable member for Wentworth tried to make it appear that I have been seeking German support during the war, and I therefore call attention to advertisements which were published in Brisbane, in a German newspaper, in May, 1915, some eighteen months after the war broke out.
The State elections were then proceeding, and I have here a photographic reproduction of German advertisements, giving reasons why German citizens should vote for Herr W. H. Barnes, instead of for the Labour candidate, Mr. McMinn; for Mr. Denham, the Liberal candidate, instead of for Mr. Jones, the Labour candidate; for Mr. Tolmie, the Liberal candidate, instead of for Mr. Alke; and for Mr. Kessell, the Liberal candidate, instead of for Mr. Carter. In a later issue they were asked to vote for Mr. Walsh, a Liberal candidate, as against Mr. Bertram, a Labour candidate. This was at the time when we had reason to fear the results of the fighting. I propose now to read extracts from a leading article which appeared in the newspaper in which these advertisements were published. This is the English translation of the original German -
Have not we Germans sufficient reason to be thankful to the Liberal Government for the friendship and respect which they conferred upon us, and still grant us - especially just now. On 22nd May is the opportunity to show Herr Denham and the Liberal party in general that we are thankful, by voting for the indorsed Liberal candidates. . . .
You can easily see from Herr Denham’s speech what might happen if the Liberal Government were defeated, and men like Herr Denham, Herr Barnes, &c, who are a great pillar (prop, stay, or support) for you and Germans in general, had to give up the Treasury benches. . . .
When one can do no more (work) in his own home if he so desires and, moreover, children and dependants are set (the verb really means “stirred up,” or “incited to rebellion”), against their parents, it is just about time to put an end to this political activity by merely putting a cross opposite the names of the “Liberal” candidates in the different districts on polling day. . . .
On Saturday morning last the first news was received in Brisbane of the sinking of the great English ship, the Lusitania. The Cunard liner left New York last week with 1,300 passengers for England. The first news announced that the ship had been sunk by a German submarine. . . .
We have before us a pamphlet which bears the signatures of the deputy-leader, and secretary of the Labour party, E. G. Theodore and J. Fihelly. “ Tampering with the Franchise “ is the heading, and on the other side there is a cartoon of the German Crown Prince and Herr Denham. The Crown Prince has a large sack in his hand with the inscription, “ Booty stolen in Belgium,” while Herr Denham holds a similar one with the inscription “ Votes stolen from the workers.” If anything should cause a right-thinking voter, and especially us Germans, not to give our votes this time to the Labour party, it is this insulting (offensive, scurrilous, or disagreeable) picture! Those signatories expect the Germans to vote for them.
This appeal for German support during the war received, as one may imagine, considerable notice in other newspapers published in Brisbane, but it did not prevent the appearance of further advertisements in German. I have more advertisements by Liberal candidates appealing, in the German language, for the support of German electors.
– The appeal is not being made now.
– The leaflet to which the honorable member for Wentworth drew attention had no reference to present political circumstances. Not a single Labour man has appealed to the Germans for support during the war ; such appeals have come only from Liberals. During the Queensland State elections, in May 1915, the Liberal Government published in German in the News Budget, a German edition of the weekly Courier and in the German newspaper, their manifesto for the election. The honorable member for Wide Bay was a member of the party at the time, and, therefore, identified with that publication. Not only that, .but the” leading Liberal organ in Queensland, until March last, published weekly a News Budget containing three pages in the German language, giving all the news of the war and other information. I propose to tell honorable members the kind of news that was thus being published weekly for the information of German readers. An advertisement appeared each week inviting contributions, and asking that they be addressed to the German” editor of the News Budget, Courier Buildings, Brisbane. I have here a digest of the news that appeared on 22nd January, 1916. There were several poems, in one of which was an appreciative reference to the “Kaiser’s little daughter.” The word “ Kaiserlich “ occurs often in this poem. The reference is not to the present Kaiser, but to some past monarch; but, nevertheless, the appeal to German national sentiment - not Australian or British sentiment - is unmistakable. There is an account of a German wedding, at which a “ real German wedding breakfast “ was given, and the usual toasts were honoured. Then there is an interesting reference to the confirmation services and other good work done by Pastor Franck, and it is an interesting coincidence that a German pastor of that name, presumably the same man, was one of two interned as “ disaffected subjects.” Pastor Franck was one of the most active electioneering agents in the Wide Bay district during the by-election in December last.
– That is absolutely untrue.
– Order ! The honorable member must withdraw that statement.
– I say it is incorrect. I ask that it be withdrawn.
– Order ! The honorable member for Wide Bay cannot take charge of the House when he thinks proper. He must conform to the rules of the House; and it is irregular for any honorable member to jump up in the midst of another honorable member’s speech and contradict the honorable member. The honorable member for Wide Bay will have the same opportunity of speaking as has any other honorable member.
– If you wish it, Mr. Speaker, I withdraw the remark, but the statement by the honorable member for Brisbane is not a fact.
– The honorable member must withdraw without qualification.
– I do so.
– You know that you were returned on the German vote.
– Order ! The honorable member for Melbourne Ports must withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it.
– It is well known that, during the Wide Bay election, Pastor Franck was one of the busiest electioneering agents there, and the German vote was carefully organized. Indeed, the honorable member for Wide Bay actually owes his present seat to the active participation in that election of Pastor Franck and other Germans. To-day Pastor Franck is behind barbed wire, where he ought to have been many months ago. In this German paper, issued from the office of the Liberal newspaper in Brisbane, there also appeared, during this timeof war, a serial story called . “ The Green Spy.” It referred to a “spy mirror” hung outside a window of a house where a lovely maiden lived, and by means of which she knew of all that happened in the street. I wish to let the Prime Minister know who are the people with whom he is associated.
– Order ! The honorable member must confine himself to the subject of the motion.
– The Sydney Bulletin referred, on the 5th February, to the publication by the Brisbane Courier of this German News Budget. Throughout the course of the war there has been a distinct collaboration and affinity between the Liberals, in Queensland at any rate, and the Germans. Here, in the Maryborough Chronicle of 24th November, is a full report of the opening speech, in the Town Hall, of the honorable member for Wide Bay, and I notice that the honorable member for Darling Downs also was present, and addressed the meeting. War news of the most serious character is reported in that issue, and if ever there was a time when men should have spoken openly and fearlessly of our purpose in the war, that was the time.
– Order ! The honorable member must connect his remarks with the motion.
– There is not a word as to our duty towards the Empire and our attitude towards the Germans. There is not a single word about conscription or about the German influence.
– You took part in that campaign. What did you say?
– I said then, as I say now, that Australia could take up only one attitude–
– The honorable member is straying from the subject of the motion.
– I wish to show who are the politicians in this country who are courting the German vote. Here is an appeal issued by the Honorable J. G. Appel, ex-Home Secretary of Queensland -
To the Electors of Nundah.
As a candidate for the next election of a representative for the electorate of Nundah, I take the liberty of asking for your votes, and depend upon your support, because I am the son of a man whose cradle, same as yours, stood in the German Fatherland.
To the most of youI am known sincethe days of my early infancy. As the son of a German farmer, I have always been so thoroughly impressed with the fact of mybelonging to the German nation that I have made it my duty to learn the German language, and now speak and understand it.
I believe that our beautiful colony must be settledwith that class of farmer to whom my father and you belong, who have contributed more than anything else to bring the land to its present state of development.
As you know, I have great interests in the country, and will, if elected, do my best to create prosperity. My services will be at all times at your disposal, and as I count nearly all of you as my friends, you cannot only speak to me as your representative, but as your friend, and in your mother tongue.
That was issued about twenty years ago. May I remind the honorable member for Wentworth of what I said yesterday, that they laugh best who laugh last. This is what Mr. Appel says now -
I was born in South Brisbane,
In his previous statement he emphasized his father’s cradle in the Fatherland - and on the maternal side as a Queenslander of the second generation; my children and my grandchildren being of the third and fourth - a distinction enjoyed by but a small section of Queenslanders. I leave it to the House and my fellow British subjects of this State to say whether any stigma, imputation, or reflection can be cast upon my position as a British subject.
That is another illustration of the attitude towards Germans of the political party opposite. To-day they denounce the Germans; previously they fawned on them, and flattered and cajoled them; and even now, when they are out for votes, Germans are fellow-countrymen and compatriots of theirs. In 1911, two dredges were required for Queensland. Tenders were not called, but seven firms were asked to quote. Messrs. Schichau, of Elbing, Prussia, were the lucky people, and £45,800 went direct to Germany. Tenders were not invited in Australia. Subsequently, a few other firms were asked to tender privately for a dredge for Cairns. The succesful tenderers were again the fortunate Messrs. Schichau, of Elbing, and another £42,000 went to Germany. Yet the men who were responsible for letting those contracts to Germany are those who to-day are most active in the advocacy of conscription and the denunciation of the Germans.
– Order! The honorable member is again straying beyond the terms of the motion. .
– Here is another translation of Liberal electoral matter published in the German organ in Queenland -
The German voters of Queensland, and especially the workers, should not forget this treatment when they go to the polls next Saturday. The Labour party is desirous of obtaining the votes of the Germans to get the reins of government, and at the same time they allow their members to treat the German workers (who for the most part are unionists themselves) in such a manner. Do, then, the leaders believe that the German electors will, in these circumstances, vote for the Labour candidates? If so, they are on the wrong scent. To do so would be equivalent to Germans turning the other cheek. … If the German voters in Maree, which, as is well known, is the safe refuge of Deutschtum (this word is translated according to Cassell’s Dictionary, “ German spirit and manners,” or “ardent patriotism”), in Brisbane, are on this occasion united, and do not split their votes, there can be no other result than the return of Herr Walsh as conqueror.
The point of these extracts is that, at election time, the Liberal candidates and the Liberal Governments of Australia are pro-Germans, but when it suits them to advocate conscription they are most emphatically anti-German. In the issue before the war of a leaflet to Germans in the German language there was nothing wrong; there was nothing to which any one could take exception. It was a perfectly legitimate and reasonable thing to do and was done in every State by every party, but since the war began which party was it that published in the German language appeals for German support? It was the honorable members opposite.
– That is not so.
– It is so, and the fact is well known.
– On a point of order. The honorable member for Brisbane has stated that members on this side have published appeals for German support since the war began. I deny that absolutely, so far as I am concerned. The statement is offensive to me, and I ask that it be withdrawn.
– Honorable members must see that it is impossible for me to say whether a statement is true or untrue. The honorable member for Perth will have an opportunity of denying the statement later, if he so desires.
– Am I not in order in asking that a statement which is offensive to me should be withdrawn, the ground being that it is absolutely incorrect?
– The honorable member must realize that if I allow every honorable member to rise and say that this, that, and the other statement is offensive there can be no debate at all. If anything unparliamentary is said which I can compel an honorable member to withdraw I will do so.
– If what I have said does not apply to the honorable member for Perth personally, he can take no offence. The actions I have alluded to took place since the war broke out. When the prospects of the allied cause were least hopeful the Liberals in Queensland were appealing in German papers for German support by leaflets published in the German language. I deny that the Labour party did anything of that kind, or that any Labour candidate has adopted other than a loyal and anti-German attitude since the war began. Honorable members opposite are the pro-Germans, yet they produce an electoral leaflet published in 1913, and try to prove that those of us who are anti-conscriptionists are in favour of the Germans. I am satisfied that, this morning, I have been able to let the people of the country know who in this country are the pro-Germans.
.- The honorable member for Brisbane has seen fit to impute motives to me in asking a certain question yesterday, and he afterwards attacked me personally for having drawn attention to a circular which he issued, the date of which did not appear on it. Consequently, I ask for the sympathy and consideration of honorable members while I explain to them the reasons which impelled me to ask the question, and the purpose I had in mind.
– Did not Mr. St. Ledger tell you the date of the leaflet when he handed it to you ?
– He did not give me the leaflet, nor did he give me the date. I hope that I will not be asked any more questions of that character. From the air of self-importance with which the honorable member for Brisbane yesterday an nounced his intention of taking further proceedings, I anticipated that some veritable deed of frightfulness was to be perpetrated on honorable members of the Opposition. We have hardly heard a Hymn of Hate ; but we have heard a mere recital of a number of advertisements issued in a State election campaign in Queensland by certain members of the Liberal party in that State.
– Since the war began.
– Just as during the same election, since the war began, the Labour party of Queensland was actively imploring the assistance of the German vote throughout that State.
– What evidence have you of that?
– The Queensland Labour party issued a leaflet, in German, signed, I think, but I am not sure, by A. L. Holtze and H. T. Von Dege Beasley, and emanating from 223 Adelaide-street, Brisbane, which I think is the office of the Brisbane Standard, in which the honorable member for Brisbane has some interest. I understand that this document was issued practically at the same time as the other documents quoted as having relation to the Queensland State election. But the honorable member who now with his customary appearance of candour, asks us to believe that some iniquity was practised by both political parties in the State of Queensland in seeking the votes of duly enfranchised citizens of Queensland, was one of the loudest supporters of the ex-Prime Minister when he announced the duty of the Federal Government towards Germans in our midst. I think that I may be permitted to refer to that statement by Mr. Andrew Fisher, the man with whom the honorable member for Brisbane always obsequiously toured Australia. Mr. Fisher was asked by an honorable member in this House whether, with a view to assisting recruiting, he would dismiss persons of enemy origin from the Public Service, and his answer was -
The Government will do nothing of the kind. Those citizens of Australia within the law and complying with the law, and who are carrying out their duties as good citizens ought to do, should have extended to them the same consideration as our own people. We are fighting the enemy, but not those citizens of foreign birth who have accepted our laws and made their home with us.
– It was a manly statement.
– The voice that proclaims this a manly statement is that which was a few minutes ago’ deriding Liberals in Queensland for asking votes from these people ! The burden of the appeal of the honorable member for Brisbane is that the Liberal party in Queensland had done the same as he had done, but that ia not the point.
– The point is why the honorable member introduced that letter and misled the House?
– I ask .the honorable member to cast his mind back to the question which I submitted to the Prime Minister on Wednesday last.
– Was there any date on the circular that the honorable member brought under attention ?
– No. It was printed in German, and there was nothing on it which would indicate to me what date it bore.
– Will the honorable member now apologize to the honorable member for Brisbane ?
– Honorable members will see that I had very good ground for asking for an explanation of any action on the part of the honorable member for Brisbane. Paraphrased, the question I asked the Prime Minister was whether he would permit the reprinting of any document printed in the German language. If any man should see fit to circularize the Australian public in the German language, permission should be given to have it reproduced in English.
– That cannot be done now.
– And the honorable member is duly glad that it cannot be done. It was that permission which I sought, and, according to a report in the Argus, the language in which I couched the question was -
Does the prohibition against the publication of matter in German extend to the reproduction of such an appeal as I hold in my hand, made in German for German support, from Herr W. F. Finlayson?
I did not say anything about conscription or about the date of the issuing of the appeal, because I did not know the date n’or the bearing it might have on the matter of conscription. I merely asked for permission to reproduce the pamphlet. What was the attitude of the honorable member for Brisbane when I submitted the question? Was he as cocky or selfsatisfied, or self-complacent as he is to day, and as he has been ever since yesterday, when he discovered the date of the pamphlet ?
– He knew the date that it bore.
– Then why did not the honorable member take tlie House and the public into his confidence immediately the pamphlet was mentioned ? Instead of that, when the matter was mentioned, he sat cowering in his seat afraid to open his mouth. That is a fair and true statement of the attitude of the honorable member in the House. But he went beyond the House, and when the press asked him what was in the pamphlet, he refused to give any interview. Is that the attitude of a man of absolute innocence, of one who has nothing to cover up and is afraid of nothing? Why did tlie “honorable member cower in his seat if he was not afraid that there was something behind this business?
– How does the honorable member know that the press went to the honorable member for an interview?
– At the bottom of tlie Argus report of the proceedings in this House the following paragraph appears -
When interviewed subsequently, Mr. Finlayson declined to make any statement for publication.
– He set a trap.
– Did he ? Did he hand me the pamphlet? I shall tell honorable members what was in my mind in regard to the honorable member when I asked the question.
– It was in the honorable member’s mind to do the honorable member for Brisbane an injury.
– If I could do anything to injure the honorable member for Brisbane as Mr. W. P. Finlayson I would not do it, but when the honorable member recently threatened, to the danger of his country and infinite discredit to his honour-
– Order ! The honorable member must withdraw that statement.
– I withdraw the remark. I do not wish to say anything to discredit the honorable member; but in order to gain the cheap cheers of an audience in Sydney he threatened to divulge the confidence of the Prime Minister given to the sworn representatives of Australia at a secret session.
– What has that matter to do with the pamphlet?
– I do not know of any action on the part of any Australian or any German in Australia which would win heartier recognition from the German Emperor than that which the honorable member threatened to take.
– He would get an iron cross.
– He would get bags of German gold if he would ask for money for such a betrayal. Every honorable member knows that the action which was threatened would cover, not only the honorable member who did it, but also this Parliament, with dishonour that would live through the ages. That men in this House should be so blind to the duty they owe in this war to our own people and to our people over the seas, as to deliberately aim at causing trouble that would help no one but the Germans is beyond comprehension, and when I see men prepared to sink to that depth, I want to know the explanation and interpretation of everything in the German tongue that I see over their signatures. These things, I ask honorable members to recollect, are not published in the newspapers as are the articles from which the - honorable member for Brisbane has quoted to-day, they are not mere public advertisements that any man may see : they are things which are circulated secretly. I ask the honorable member for Brisbane - Has he circulated any more of such’ documents since the last election was held ? He is silent. I leave honorable members to draw their own conclusions ! The time has come in Australia when we should prevent the use of the German language utterly, but where the German language has been used in making an’ election appeal, it should be permitted to be reproduced in order that the public may know the manner of men who asked for the support of the Germans on other occasions. 1 have told the House frankly, freely, and fairly what has been at the back of my mind, and the only thing that is there. Honorable members will agree with me that if any member of this Parliament were to be so base to his own honour as to betray his country bv betraying his Prime Minister’s confidence, he would be deserving of the very closest scrutiny from every man in the House and in this continent. For that reason
I asked for permission to .reprint the docu-ment. I” wished the people to know, whether there was anything in it.
– The honorable member need not apologize.
– Apologize ! If the honorable member considers what I have said an apology, he is capable of almost any twisting or disingenuity of which the human mind is capable. This man, who cowered when the pamphlet was first mentioned in the House, thinking it was of some more subsequent date, perhaps, is now full of confidence and complacency because he thinks the danger is past, but’ he who now talks most, and grins most, and smirks most, cannot tell us that he has not issued another pamphlet subsequent to the late election.
– It is a pity that any honorable member should introduce into our debates anything with the determination to mislead the House. That is my opinion of what the honorable member for Wentworth did the other day. At first, I was of opinion that the letter had been issued during the progress of the war. I believe that every honorable member had the same opinion. It is quite evident that the Prime Minister, when he read the translation yesterday, thought that it had been written during the war.
– I did not think so, though I know that it was the impression that was intended to be conveyed.
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable member for Batman conveys the insinuation that I deliberately and intentionally misled the House by asking the simple question which I submitted to the Prime Minister on Wednesday. I ask that this honorable member should also be brought into the limelight.
– Interjections are disorderly at all times, and those imputing motives are extremely disorderly. I ask the honorable member for Batman to withdraw his remark.
– I withdraw it.
– Any one who has been associated with the honorable member for Wentworth knows that he is not a simpleton, but the exact opposite. My opinion is that the honorable member read this document before he introduced it, and, if he did not, he did not use his brains in the way to which we are accustomed. It was quite understood that the appeal had been issued during the war, and one cannot but believe that that is the meaning the honorable member intended to convey. Matters are serious enough without this sort of thing occurring, and if honorable members resort to such methods, it is time the House took a hand.
.- It is necessary, in the interests of a man who is absent, to deny certain statements that have been made. I refer to the reverend pastor mentioned by the honorable member for Brisbane, and I have to say that, owing to the fact that a large portion of his congregation were Labour, while some of them were Liberal, he never took . any part in politics. The assertion that that gentleman went around cany ssing and advocating my return is absolutely without any foundation. It ought to be pointed out that for many years past, and, indeed, until the lady died recently, the Labour party in Maryborough employed a Miss Gehrman as their organizer, and another, a Mr.. Gehrman, in the same capacity. Then again, in Gayndah, the secretary of the Labour organization was a Mr. Schiber, another German. It has been said that I was returned on the German vote, but if Germans did vote for me, it only shows their common sense in giving me the support they gave to Mr. Fisher. I challenge any honorable member to say that, either on the public platform or by circular, I asked Germans to give me their vote. Such a denial is only just to me as a true and loyal Britisher, who not only has done all he can himself to help the Empire, but has sons, one who fought in Gallipoli and two are now fighting in Prance. Under the circumstances, I have the right to stand up and say that these gross, mean, contemptible insinuations are not worthy of the honorable member for Brisbane. At the last election for Wide Bay I heard from scores of people that the honorable member for Brisbane stood up in front of t>he Royal hotel, Maryborough, arid, before a large audience, declared that this is a capitalists’ war. What was the object of that but to keep people from enlisting - 4;o keep people from fighting for the Empire to preserve the liberties that .Labour adherents, as well as others, enjoy? Men like that are the very last who ought to criticise others who have undoubtedly shown their loyalty. I have shown mine in a way that the honorable member does not seem to be able to. Has he sent his sons to the war - those big .strapping fellows? No. He has not helped in the slightest degree.
.- Nobody can take any credit for proceedings of this sort, and, had the honorable member for Brisbane introduced the subject himself, I should certainly not have been one to support him. That honorable member, however, is quite entitled to act as he has done under the circumstances. If there are honorable members who can give any credit to the honorable member for Wentworth for what he has done, let them give him credit. I do not think that even honorable members opposite feel that that honorable member has played the game fairly. It is well known that, prior to the war, the Germans here were recognised as good citizens, ‘ and, under the circumstances, the honorable member for Brisbane was quite right in showing that other men have, since the war, done what he did before the war.
– He spoiled his case by attacking others unfairly.
– I shall leave the matter at that. Every one knows distinctly and clearly what is the object underlying the action of the honorable member for Wentworth - an action in pursuance of a policy not confined to himself, but shared by others. I direct your attention to the fact that on this side there are men just as honorable as men on the other side, and that some of us hold certain opinions which the Prime Minister held only a few months ago. It is useless for honorable members opposite to endeavour to fasten pro-German views on those who take a different view of the situation, for such an attitude can only rebound on themselves. The honorable member for Wentworth made reference to a threat said to have been made by the honorable member for Brisbane in Sydney. I have made no such threat, and I am prepared to respect anything said to me in confidence. There is, however, a limit to this. When I hear gentlemen making statements on the platform that are in direct contradiction to statements’ which they have made in secret, what can be done to refute them? Either the statements made on the platform must be untrue or the statements made in secret must be untrue; and they must not be allowed to put those who disagree with them in a cleft stick. They must honorably observe the confidence reposed in them, or it will be no more binding on me than it is on them.
– I have been much associated with Germans in every State, and I am not ashamed of the fact, for it was from Germans that I learnt my Democracy. The men who lived in the rebel year of 1848 were my teachers, and these were the men who, if they had their way, would not allow a kaiser or a king to exist, and who helped to drive the grandfather of the present German Emperor out of Berlin. Their sons and their sons’ sons I believe to be as genuine Australians as any born here, and unless they are proved to be guilty of disloyalty, it is only decency on our part to give them credit for loyalty. Their fathers left their country to escape the infamy of conscription, and we ought to treat them as good citizens, unless we find them unworthy of trust. There are guilty Germans who ought to be interned, but who are allowed to walk the streets of Melbourne simply, in my opinion, because they are possessed of wealth. I am now alluding to those connected with the wellknown rubber company in Australia, one of whom was so contemptible that when he was naturalized and swore fealty, changing his name in the process, he must have been a spy. He was a major in the Forces, and, as a member of the Automobile Club, was gaining information about our roads ; and yet that swell frill and feathers club, the Army and Navy Club, allowed him to resign. That man ought to have been put in gaol, for internment is too good for him. There were two oaths and two pledges of honour given in this connexion, but his rich colleague in the company is drawing a big salary, and, just because he itf a rich man, he can calmly smoke his cigar up Collins-street. The introduction of this subject this morning is most unfortunate, and I do not suppose there are three honorable members opposite who do not regret it. The honorable member for “Wentworth spoke of the self-importance of the honorable member for Brisbane, but those who heard the former gentleman. in spite of all his advantages of a university education, beating the wind in an endeavour to cover up what he had said, must have thought they were listening to some barnstormer. This document has been printed owing to the abject submission of the Prime Minister, and that gentleman ought to be present to hear the explanation of the man concerned, though I suppose he is hiding somewhere in a corner.
-The honorable member must withdraw that remark.
– The Prime Minister is at present engaged on most important business.
– He is always busy when it is convenient.
– The honorable member must withdraw the remark he made about the Prime Minister.
– I shall withdraw whatever is required, but I forget for the moment what the words were. Is it that I said he was absent from the Chamber ?
– The honorable member said that the Prime Minister was hiding in a corner.
– I shall withdraw the word “ hiding,” and say that the right honorable gentleman is absent from the Chamber. The printing of this document will remain an infamy to the honorable member for Wentworth, and to the Prime Minister, who had the printing done. The Prime Minister was asked the date of the document when it was first produced, but he was conveniently deaf. There is, however, no escape for the right honorable gentleman, for the honorable member for Riverina, passing by him at the time, told him that honorable members had asked for the date of the document. However, neither the honorable member for Wentworth nor the Prime Minister were “ game “ enough to give the date, although it was on the document, not only in German, but in English. The date is distinctly stated as the 31st May.
– Is the year shown ?
– No; but the fact that the electors are asked to put a cross opposite the name of the honorable member for Brisbane shows, as plainly as the ten commandments in a church, that it was the election year. Yet the Prime Minister has thought fit to have this document printed, and is not man enough to be present to hear the explanation, and I venture to say that he will never trouble to read the Hansard report. Is that the way to fight fairly ? Will the Prime Minister permit the explanation to be published in the same way as the document was published? The action of the honorable member for Wentworth is unworthy of him, and I am only sorry he is not here at the present moment. When the honorable member used a word sounding like “ coward,” he recalled to my mind a time in the Victorian Parliament when the late William Shiels assailed the late Sir James Patterson, and by using the words “ cowered in a corner” conveyed a meaning quite different from that of the words themselves. Just as if the honorable member for Brisbane would tremble at this whipper-snapper! It is laughable to think of such a thing. The honorable member for Wentworth, in the course of his remarks, said that he would do away with the German language if he could. The honorable member, as a university man, ought to know that, at the Melbourne University, no one is allowed to pass in modern languages in the Public Service examination without showing his proficiency in German. I regret that I cannot speak German. Had I been able to do so, I should not have been landed in a police office in Berlin in 1911 because of my friend’s bad accent. The German police were the only civil functionaries that we discovered on that occasion. A great American author has stated that most of the words in the English language are Saxon, which is the pure German tongue of the German race. Our university, some of whose professors are yelping as loudly ,as they can on the public platform, should give students the choice between, say, French, German, Italian, and Russian, instead of compelling them to learn German and French. I resent the compulsion to learn any language. The attitude in regard to modern languages is nearly, as bad as used to be the attitude in regard to ancient languages. God knows how many heads have ached and minds have wearied in the learning of Latin and Greek, which has been of so little use to those who have learned them ! I commend the honorable member for Brisbane for having defended himself, and I am sorry that the honor able member for Wide Bay got into the position in which he was placed. When a stone is thrown from the other side it is sure to rebound.
– It is thrown straight.
– Was it straight throwing to suppress a date? What has occurred does not tend to increase the good feeling between honorable members. The honorable member for Wentworth loves to cause an outburst, and then to laugh and joke about it. He is never really serious. He made use of a word which sounded like “ coward,” but no one would accuse of being afraid, the happytempered, pleasant-minded member for Brisbane, who has always a smile on his lips and a laugh in his eyes, and can take the hardest hits good temperedly. Is there anything wrong in this appeal -
Mr. Finlayson is a member of the Labour party, and he has loyally supported the legislation of that party which has extended the old-age and invalid pensions.
A good many Germans draw pensions as a reward for many years’ residence in this country. Old souls in my district have told me that they regret the war, and hope to a man that the Kaiser will be eliminated with the short shrift of a rope. Is it thought that the Liberals would have brought in old-age and invalid pensions, or would have reduced the age limit to sixty years? How many times will it be necessary to make these walls echo with the statement that the honorable member for Flinders reduced the Victorian allowance for old-age pen- sions from £200,000 to £150,000 ? Have we not the authority of the Age newspaper for saying that only begrudgingly did he withdraw an inaccurate remark to the effect that he drafted the first Oldage Pensions Bill introduced in this State?
– The honorable member must confine himself to the question before the Chair.
– To continue my quotation from the translation of the document to which the honorable member for Wentworth drew attention -
Secured the maternity allowance of £ 5.
– The honorable member’s remarks would be in order were he discussing a motion for the printing of a paper, but he must confine himself now to the question raised by the honorable member for Brisbane in moving the adjournment.
– Then I understand that I must not quote this document, because it is not a matter of public importance. I have said enough to show that the honorable member for Wentworth took an unfair advantage. I am sorry that he did so. If he did not know the date of the. leaflet, why did he not get an English translation of the German upon it?
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I feel sure that the members of the party to which the honorable member for Wentworth belongs regret his action.
.- Like the honorable member for Perth, I very much resent the imputation of the honorable member for Brisbane that Liberal members have cringed to the German vote. I have probably ten German electors in my division for every one in the Brisbane division, but I defy any one to say that either as a candidate or as a member of Parliament I have curried favour with that section of the community. I believe that a number of votes have been cast for me by Germans, and it shows their good sense when they vote for a man who is fearless in regard to them. I regret the sweeping charges which the honorable member for Brisbane has made. Heshould have been more specific.
– Does the honorable member regret what was done by the honorable member for Wentworth ?
– I regret the whole proceedings. It has troubled me very much since the beginning of the war that honorable members should consider the effect of their attitude towards the war upon the German vote. No nation can be safe whose representatives consider first the opinions of citizens of enemy origin. Our duty is to go straight ahead regardless of nationality. Roosevelt has said that he despises the man who has to be continually reminded of where he was born. That is my attitude. The honorable member for Melbourne said that the Prime Minister was conveniently deaf when asked togive the date of the circular to which the honorable member for Wentworth drew attention. As a matter of fact, there is no date on it, and the only clue to the date is the appeal to vote for the honorable member for Brisbane on the 31st May. We know that, in 1913, the Federal elections were held on that date. The honorable member for Brisbane has made a rather poor case for himself. His action reminded me of that of an innocent-looking fish which I once saw at a sea-side resort near Brisbane. On being touched with a stick, it scuttled away, leaving behind a cloud of inky fluid. The honorable member for Brisbane scuttled away, leaving a mess behind him. He threw out so much dirt in order to cover up something which may come out before the question is settled.
Question resolved in the negative.
– Has the Minister for Home Affairs received a report on the unnecessary and extravagant proposals in regard to buildings, platforms, and general lay-out of the new station yard at Port Augusta, which I brought under his notice a month ago?
– I regret to say that the Minister for Home Affairs is not very well this morning. In his absence I have been furnished with the following information in reply to the honorable member’s question: -
Melbourne, 18th September, 1916.
Department of Home Affairs.
Railway Station, Port Augusta.
With reference to the communication from the Hon. the Minister, dated 8th inst., reading: - “ Please furnish me urgently with a report regarding the railway station at Port Augusta showing -
I have to advise as follows: -
It will be noted that the length of 4-ft. 8½-in. standard train will be approximately 690 feet.
There is a carriage shed to be provided for cleaning and stabling of cars for express trains.
The goods shed is situated at the wharf, and has been erectedsome time.
Excavation for all foundations is complete, and about 75 per cent, of the foundations are laid. Twenty per cent, of the steel stanchions for the lower floor are erected, and 75 per cent, of the timber forms for concreting the piers on the eastern front of the building are erected in position; 2,200 cubic yards of stone are on the site for the erection of the building.
Contracts have been called for practically all material for the station building. Tenders for joinery and timber and verandahs cantilevers, &c, have already been let.
Timber, galvanized-iron, &c, are on order for the carriage shed. Work in connexion with preparing the site is now in hand.
Cost to date is recorded as £1,001. This does not include cost of material for which tenders have been arranged, but represents actual work on the site at Port Augusta, as recorded by the costs accountant there up to a few days since.
Norris G. Bell,
Engineer-in-Chief and Acting Commissioner.
Per Edward Simms.
Submitted in response to Minister’s request.
I understand that in addition to the £1,001 already spent, tenders and quotations for material to the value of about £5,000 for station building have been accepted.
So far as I can gather, the accommodation provided and the cost, judged by the standard of Victorian country junction stations, is not excessive.
Walter D. Bingle,
Acting Secretary, 19th September, 1916.
– It is stated in today’s newspaper that at an anticonscription meeting in Brisbane, a few soldiers attempted to count out the Premier of Queensland. I wish to know if this action is being taken with the knowledge or the authority of the Minister for Defence. I hope that the honorable gentleman will prevent it?
– I shall have the question brought under the notice of the Minister, so that a reply may be sent to the honorable member.
– Will the Prime Minister inform the House if any of his Ministers are exempted from appearing on the platform in favour of conscription?
– The question might be directed to each Minister.
– Is the Treasurer going to appear on the platform to advocate conscription ?
– I decline to answer a question which is evidently put with a view to splitting up the Labour party.
– I wish to know whether, in a family of three sons, one of whom is at the front, a second eligible for military service, and a third only nine years of age, the second son will be compelled to serve ?
– I should say not.
– The Prime Minister stated that appeals against the operation of the compulsory service law could be made to the local Court, the Supreme Court, and the High Court. Will the cost of such appeals fall upon Che conscript, or will the Government defray it?
– In the local Courts lawyers will not be allowed to appear.. The question will be one of fact and not of law, and each party will plead his own case. There should be no long drawn out litigation. I apprehend that there will be very few appeals. I would not shut the door and say that because a man is poor he should not be allowed the right to bring his case before the final court of appeal, but the question is one to be determined upon the merits of each particular case. As there will be no lawyers and no law, and as only a question of fact will be involved, I apprehend that the proceedings will be very short. The tribunals will be quite impartial and nonmilitary, and will hear both parties without the intervention of those ornaments and pillars of society in the profession to which I have the honour to belong. In those circumstances the decisions will be speedy, economical, and effective.
– If the number of men to be called up by proclamation next Monday exceeds the number which the Prime Minister has stated will be required this month, namely, 32,500, will the excess number berequired to go into camp ?
– The power under which the men are to be called up is that of an existing Statute. Under that Statute there is no limit set to the number that may be called up. The number necessary for the purpose of carrying out the Government policy is 32,500, of which, I understand, under 7,000 have voluntarily enlisted; therefore a balance of 25,000 is still required. I shall not commit myself further than to say that in this regard the Government will be governed strictly by what is required to give effect to their policy. It is very evident that if 40,000 men are called up we may not get more than 25,000 effectives. A number of those called up will be rejected because of unfitness, and others will be permitted to return to their homes for one hundred and one reasons. They may, for instance, be persons whom it is undesirable to withdraw from husbandry at this season of the year. The final number to be taken will be the difference between the total of enlistments and the requirement of 32,500.
– Will the Prime Minister say whether the large staff which is established in Melbourne for the preparation of literature for the conscription party will be paid out of the revenue of the country?
– I have much pleasure in answering that question. The staff is not to be paid out of the revenue of the country.
– The following cable message was published in the Adelaide evening papers of 26th September: -
The Australian soldiers are greatly interested in the conscription campaign. As yet the majority of them have not faced the issue, but discussions upon it in the trenches and camps are becoming more frequent. In many cases the men are inclined to oppose it. These say they left their younger brothers to keep the home together. They would not object if a system were devisable requiring equal sacrifice by all families. A small section of the men, and especially the wounded, opposed conscription emphatically. Apparently they dislike legislation affecting the liberties of the subject.
Can the Minister representing the Minister for Defence state the reason why that cable message was censored in all the daily papers on the following morning?
– I will bring the matter under the notice of the Minister for Defence, and endeavour to get a reply for the honorable member.
– Is it a fact that conversations upon the telephone in foreign languages are prohibited, irrespective of whether the language used be French, Italian, or German?
– It is a fact that during these troubled times a precaution has been taken by the Postal Department to safeguard the country’s interests by preventing telephone communications which may interfere with the due observance of the law.
– In 1914, a very useful little book was published by the Government Statistician, containing many valuable statistics. Is it possible to continue the publication of that booklet?
– I will bring the matter under the notice of the Minister for Home Affairs.
– Will the Government consider the advisability of appointing a Board of practical men to inquire into the very unsatisfactory state of affairs in the Northern Territory?
– It is quite true that many difficulties confront us in the Northern Territory, but whilst inquiry by a Commission of practical men who have some knowledge of the pastoral industry might do some good, Iconceive that for the present, at any rate, it is not advisable to appoint such a Commission.
The honorable gentleman may rest assured that the affairs of the Territory are being rigidly administered, and that every opportunity is being taken to advance its interests.
– Before the PostmasterGeneral decides to reduce the mail services to outlying districts, will he give some little consideration to the circumstances of those who live out back?
– I have never failed to keep those circumstances in mind, but owing to the abnormal increase in the cost of our mail contracts, in some cases to the extent of 300 per cent., it is not possible to give a service of such frequency as was possible when lower prices were obtainable. So much have the prices increased that it is only possible, in some places, to give them one mail a week, where formerly they had two, and to give them two where formerly they had three, and, even so, at a greater cost to the Commonwealth than was involved when the better service was rendered.
– Is it possible yet to get a reply to the question I asked some days ago about the wrong done to a soldier’s wife and child owing to his separation allowance being paid to his niece ?
– The information sought by the honorable member has not yet been supplied by the Minister for Defence, but I will endeavour to expedite the answer.
– Having regard to the heavy taxes about to be levied, will the Government take into consideration the advisability of stopping all unnecessary work at Canberra?
– In view of the splendid financial position to which the PostmasterGeneral has been able to raise the Postal Department, will he take into consideration the claims of country postoffices, and limit them as little as possible?
– Whatever is equitable to the people in the country will be done if possible.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral consider ‘the question of increasing the postage rates on letters from Id. to 2d., so as to provide more revenue, and thus retain the existing services, instead of having them curtailed?
– I am hopeful at an early date of securing a very material modification in the charges for the carriage of mails on the railways, and also of making, in other directions, changes which will lead to legitimate economies. Any economies thus effected will be utilized for the relief of the mentioned.
– But the contracts will have been let before such economies can be effected.
– I will endeavour to have yearly contracts, instead of contracts for’ three years, so that relief may be afforded as soon as possible.
– Is it the intention of the Treasurer to bring the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Amendment Bill before the House prior to the adjournment this afternoon ?
– If the honorable member does not set a bad example, by asking questions without notice, we hope to be able to deal with that measure to-day.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of the statement made by the Prime Minister on Wednesday, the 27th inst., in the following terms: - “I have already explained that a moratorium is now in force “ - will the Prime Minister, in order to make clear the rights and obligations of all parties concerned, state when the moratorium referred to came into force?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
A moratorium as regards members of the Forces and their female dependants has been in force since the 28th July last (see Statutory Rules 1916, No. 163). As already announced, it has been decided to proclaim a general moratorium.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
– Yesterday the honorable member for Batman asked the Minister for Home Affairs if he was aware that complaints were being made as to the manner in which the Military Service Referendum vote was to be taken amongst the soldiers, and if he would state what provision was being made to safeguard that vote? I desire now, on behalf of the Minister for Home Affairs, to supply the following reply to the question : -
The voting system in operation at the camps is that prescribed by the Electoral Regulations relating to absent voting before Electoral Registrars. Soldiers in camp are in the same position, and have the same rights as electors elsewhere, who have reason to believe that they will be leaving Australia prior to polling day. No complaint has been made to the Electoral Administration of any interference or attempted interference with any soldier in regard to the free exercise of his voting rights. The Registrars dealing with the voting in camps are civilians acting under the direction of the Electoral Administration.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Motion (by Mr. Higgs) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act to amend sections 24 and 26 of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act 1908-1912, and to provide for pensions to inmates of benevolent asylums and hospitals.
Bill presented, and reada first time.
Standing Orders suspended to enable the Bill to pass through all its stages without delay.
Motion (by Mr. Higgs) proposed -
That the second reading of the Bill be taken after Order of the Day, Government business, No. 3.
– I object to the motion, because the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Amendment Bill is the most important that can be brought before the House, and, in my opinion, should be cleared off the noticepaper before any other business is dealt with. I would like at this stage to speak on the second reading if I am in order.
– The honorable member is not in order. The second reading of the Bill has not yet been moved.
– It is intended that Parliament should adjourn to-day, and the most important event in the history of Australia will take place next Monday. In my opinion, the amendment of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act is more important than the Land Tax Assessment Bill, which is No. 3 in the Orders of the Day, and, it necessary, I will divide the House on the question.
– I also object to the Bill being postponed, and I cannot see why the Government should not proceed with it. If they intend to introduce business of a debatable character inviting discussion, they will then be able to charge us with keeping this Bill back. The Treasurer, it seems, is asking for the postponement of this measure until after some other contentious question has been settled, and if Parliament debates that measure exhaustively, we will then be charged with preventing an amendment of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act from being carried. It is not fair that the House should be put in that position, and I blame the Treasurer for it.
– We are all in favour of the Bill referred to, but the business is in the hands of the Treasurer, and we cannot take it out of his hands.
– But we will not let the Treasurer do it in his own way.
– Suppose every other member took up the same attitude with regard to measures on the noticepaper. What would happen then ? I appeal to the honorable member, in theinterests of the old-age pensioners, to allow the Treasurer to conduct the business in his own way.
– I am anxious to keep faith with the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, who was informed last night that if we passed the Supply Bill, and a certain machinery Bill for the appointment of an Assistant Commissioner of Taxation, we would then take the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Amendment Bill, and go into Ways and Means, when I would submit a certain resolution which would enable members to discuss any subject they thought fit.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
.- I move-
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This amendment of the Estate Duty Assessment Act, and the two other Bills to follow, are purely machinery measures, and all that honorable members need to satisfy themselves upon is whether it is necessary to appoint an Assistant Commissioner of Taxation. The Government have decided that it is. As the Minister charged with the supervision of the various Departments of taxation, I assure honorable members that the work of the Commissioner of. Taxation is so responsible and arduous that it is necessary to appoint an assistant. The Commissioner is charged with the administration of the Land Tax Act, a measure of far-reaching importance, and difficult to administer; the Income Tax Act, also highly technical, and bringing before the Minister in its operations many deputations of individuals who desire information, or complain of the working of the Act; and the Estate Duty Assessment Act. All three measures affect the whole of Australia. We shall, I hope, pass, when we return, the War-time Profits Taxation Act, the new repatriation levy, and the Entertainments Tax Act, all of which will be under the administration of the Commissioner of Taxation.
– What is the name of the man to be appointed ?
– We shall not be able to call for applications until these Bills are passed.
– I do not know what this Bill is.
– It is a proposal to avoid sweating.
– We shall never get rid of sweating until we have a Minister determined to put it down. I deeply regret Mr. McKay’s death, and that the good work he initiated has not been completed. I have been informed on fairly credible grounds that the Treasurer has lost at least £200,000 through not bringing to book a number of persons who have not put in their income tax returns. I put on to-day’s notice-paper three questions to obtain information about that matter. In answer to the first, the Treasurer said, “ I have not yet received the report of the Commonwealth income tax evasions.” Why?
– One reason is that the officers are overworked.
– Why not employ more people? Are there no human beings outside wanting work? The honorable member’s answer is the old cry of every sweater.
– This is a Bill to appoint another officer.
– If the Minister wants to spare the officers in that Department, he needs to appoint another twenty people, although I give him credit for paying overtime and tea money. I wish he could enforce the same arrangement on all his other Departments. I think he would, if he had the power. In answer to my question whether prosecutions for income tax evasions had been enforced in any State other than Victoria, the Minister replied that he was “ unable to say at present.” I wanted that information for this Bill. Is the stigma to rest upon Victoria of being the only dishonest State, because I understand that it is only here that prosecutions have been instituted for evasions?
– Prosecutions have taken place in other States. I read in the newspapers of cases in New South Wales.
– They may have been cases of wrong returns. If the honorable member has information on the subject I shall be pleased to get it from him later on. I cannot get the information asked for in my third question, “ What is the estimated number of evasions?” I do not blame the Minister, because he had very short notice, which, however, was not wholly my fault. I have had on another matter a serious difference with the Minister. A wrong done to a man in the Income Tax Department was brought to my notice. I felt I would injure that unfortunate man by trying to get his case before the Minister. I mentioned that to the Minister at an interview, and do not blame him for being a little stormy. Possibly I deserved it. As I did not wish to injure the man, I bowed to the storm. I understand the man was accused of using departmental stationery by men who had got. into trouble in connexion with their income tax returns. The Minister showed me a letter on departmental paper which the man had used, in my opinion, wrongly; but if public servants were to be called to account for using departmental stationery or envelopes, about 95 per cent, of the Commonwealth servants would be in trouble. Later on, the Minister justly said that Mr. Nelkin’s answer should be made in writing, to which I agreed. Mr. Nelkin then left to make out his statement. I understand that a letter was then sent to him requesting that he should put in a sworn statement. That was the first ‘time I have ever been asked to get a sworn statement from a citizen about a matter of which he had only a hasty knowledge through portions being read to him by the Minister. It is also the first time that. I have ever been asked that a trade unionist and Labour man should make a sworn declaration on charges that had not been put before him. He went to a magistrate, who wrote to the Treasurer for a copy of the charges that he was to answer on oath. I do not know whether all the charges were sent to him, for the Minister knows that I handed the case over to a senator in order not to prejudice the man’s cause on account of the difference between the Minister and myself. i
– The honorable member’s remarks appear to be connected with the Income Tax Department. The Bill before the House is to amend the Estate Duty Assessment Act.
– I am speaking on the Bill to appoint an Assistant Commissioner of Taxation.
– The honorable member’s remarks would, perhaps, be more appropriate after the referendum.
– I will wager ten to one that the Minister will not appear on the platform for conscription. That is my answer to that sort of remark. I know the Minister too well for him to talk in that way. I do not object to the proposed appointment, no matter who the man is. If it is Mr. Ewing, I think he has tried his best to make up for the infamous wrong that he did to the man to whom I have just been referring. If he is the man to be selected, I shall be satisfied. I understand that the Acting Public Service Commissioner will appoint him, and I do not want the Minister to think I am hitting at Mr. Ewing. He is a good man, who made an unfortunate mistake, which has helped to ruin a man and his wife and family, and the Minister does not seem disposed to help thai unfortunate individual out of his trouble. He has been stamped with an infamous name simply because a representative of the Graphic newspaper waited on Ewing, who called him by the vile name of a common informer. That man was employed by the late Mr. McKay, who recognised the good work that he did. He brought to light many cases that have not appeared before the Court.
– The honorable member must discuss the principle of the Bill, and not the administration of the Income Tax Department.
– I hope Mr. Ewing will be appointed to the position, but I wanted a declaration, if possible, from the Minister that he would try to make amends to the other man, instead of allowing him to be permanently ruined.
– The honorable member is going into a matter which is not pertinent to the principle of the Bill.
– If you tell me, sir, that I may refer to this question more appropriately on the Income Tax Assessment Bill, I shall defer what I have to say until we are considering that Bill.
– I do not say that the honorable member will be able to do so, but he must not go into the question of administration on the Bill now before the House.
– I think that we should have a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported without amendment.
Standing Orders suspended, and Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Mr. Higgs) proposed -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– I understand that the matter to which I wished to refer can be considered more appropriately under this Bill. In the administration of our income tax law, we are losing vast sums of money every year through the lack of a proper intelligence department to discover those who seek to rob the country by failing to send in income tax returns, and by avoiding the payment of the tax. The late Mr. McKay made some provision for an intelligence branch with the help and assistance of a man named Nelkin. He personally expressed to me his satisfaction with the work of this man, though he admitted that he was perhaps a little too abrupt.
– I cannot allow the honorable member to indulge in a discussion of the administration of the Department on the motion now before the House.
– Could I refer to the matter on the adjournment ?
– I may explain to the honorable member that there is now a Bill before the House containing a certain principle, and on the second reading the debate must be confined to the discussion of the principles of a Bill. Details of administration of a Department might be discussed at length on the Estimates, but to permit such a discussion on the second reading of a Bill would be to consent to a course of procedure which would make it almost impossible to get any Bill through the House.
– I find that in clause 2 it is proposed to amend section 5 of the Principal Act by providing for an Assistant Commissioner of Taxation, who shall have, and may exercise, such functions as are prescribed, or as are delegated to him by the Commissioner. Clause 4 provides that -
Section 7 of the principal Act is amended by inserting after the words “ The Commissioner “-
– The honorable member may not discuss the details of the Bill on the motion for the second reading. The details should be discussed in Committee.
– I was reading the clause in order to understand the purpose of the Bill, because the Treasurer was so brief when submitting the motion for the second reading.
– I was anxious to get to the Old-age Pensions Bill.
– I wish to state definitely that an intelligence branch of the Taxation Department is urgently required in order that persons trying to rob the community may be prevented from doing so. It is commonly stated that no tax imposed is the cause of so much lying, deceit, and injustice as is an income tax, although, with all its faults, it will be admitted that there is no better means of raising taxation. We have wisely, in our income tax legislation, differentiated more widely than has been done in Great Britain between incomes derived from land and property and incomes derived from personal exertion. I believe that honorable members are in agreement with me when I say that considerable difficulty arises from the fact that we have both Federal and State income taxes. Some procedure should be adopted to avoid the necessity for the making of separate returns for the State and the Commonwealth. I make the suggestion to the Treasurer that, at the earliest opportunity, he should frame regulations under which Federal income tax returns might be based upon returns sent in in connexion with the State income tax. This’ would save a very great deal of work. It would prevent the duplication of work by Government Departments. It would save time, paper, and postage. Asthis is only an amending Bill, I shall say no more at the present stage in reference to the matter. I notice that there is not a quorum present. [Quorum formed.]
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 4.
– I should like at this stage to get some information with respect to the suggestion that Victoria is the only thieving State in the Federation. It would appear that this is so when we consider that it is the only State in which prosecutions have been instituted for evasions of the income tax. I do not think that the Treasurer will contend that the people of Queensland are any more honest than are the people of Victoria. Why are these prosecutions instituted: in Victoria and not in any of the other States ?
– I wish to soothe the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, if. I may, and I therefere tell him that, in my opinion, the people of all the States are honest, and. if it were possible for one State to be more honest than another, that State is Victoria.
.- After the statement made by the Treasurer, I am disposed to think that there may be a hope that the Victorian. Government will hand back to me the income tax which they illegally levied upon me when I first came to this Parliament, and which they have not refunded up to this date.
Clauses agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment, and, by leave, read a third time.
In Committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s. message) .
.- I move -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a Bill for an Act to provide for the appointment of an Assistant Commissioner of Land Tax.
This message is rendered necessary by the fact that provision is made in the Bill for the salary of the Assistant Commissioner:
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Standing Orders suspended, and resolution adopted.
That Mr. Higgs and Mr. Hughes do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out, the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Higgs, and passed through all its stages without amendment.
.- I move-
That this Bill be now read a second time.
One might be forgiven for making a few remarks on a subject of so much importance as that dealt with by this measure, but, as I am asking honorable members to be brief in their remarks, mine must be extremely brief. In response to applications from honorable members, and from correspondents throughout the Commonwealth, the Government have agreed that elderly people who are now receiving pensions should not be called upon to undergo unnecessary suffering owing to the increase in the cost of living. Ministers, believe that the Commonwealth can pay the increase. It will amount to about £850,000. per annum. Time does not permit me to discuss certain economic considerations attaching to the payment of pensions, but one is the fact that payment of money to individuals by the State may affect the position of wageearners. For instance, when an allowance was made in Great Britain to cover unemployment, certain employers took advantage of it to decrease the rate of wages. Any Government in establishing a pensions scheme must take into, consideration the possibility of certain individuals in the community taking advantage of the Government grant in order to make people work for lower wages.
– Has the Treasurer any information that leads him to that conclusion ?
– History is full of such cases, as the honorable member would find if he peruses certain Poor Law reports.
– I am speaking of information that the Treasurer has gained personally.
– In one case brought under my notice, the employer said to the elderly person, who was receiving. 10s. a week from him,”You can now get the old-age pension “ ; and when the elderly person secured the pension the employer reduced his wages to 5s. a week.
– Surely the Treasurer is not basing his scathing remark on that one case ?.
– The honorable member asked me to mention a case. At some other time I shall be only too glad to go into the whole matter from an economic stand-point. To-day, I content myself with submitting the Bill to the House.
.- The Bill overlooks one or two matters that I should like to bring under the notice of the Treasurer. Some little time ago I directed the Treasurer’s attention to the case of a boy suffering from a paralyzed leg which prevented himfrom obtaining work, and to a similarcase where the boy hadlost theuse of an arm. through paralysis. Provision should be made to meet the case of any person who, by reason of paralysis depriving him of the use of a limb, is unable to follow anoccupation or earn sufficient to keep him. That person should be entitled to the invalid pension, but cannot obtain one through not being totally incapacitated from following any employment. It is very difficult for those whoare incapacitated byparalysis to find employment. Employers will not employ them. Seeing that they have to pay them full wages, they prefer to employ those with the full use of their limbs.
-Does notthe honorable member think thatwe should accept what we havebeen given ? If every honorable membertalkson theBill, even for aminute,there will beno increase.
– I am mentioning these matters very briefly. I wish also to bring under the notice of the Treasurer the case of a man who has accumulated a little property and made it over to his wife, and who, as the result of a domestic quarrel, is living away from his wife, and has not sufficient funds to secure a judicial separation or, perhaps, divorce. If the man becomes destitute the fact that his wife owns certain property prevents him from obtaining the old-agepension. There are several of these cases, and I hope that the Treasurer will see his way clear to make provision for them.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Billread a second time.
Clauses 1 to 4.
– Clause 4 amends section 26 by omitting the words “ five shillings,”and inserting in their stead the words ‘ ‘ seven shillings and sixpence.” I cannot understand the meaning of this clause.
– The reference is to acalculation that has to be madein regard to pensions. At present the board and residence allowence is estimated at 5s. per week. As we are giving an increaseof 2s. 6d. topro- vide for the increasedcost of living,we propose to increase the board and residence allowance from 5s.to . 7s. 6d.per week.
. - I wish to remind the Treasurer of a promise he made in this chamber to give sympathetic consideration - those were his words - to a request put to him some time ago, and which might be met by the addition of a new clause. When the old-age pensionertakes ill, and has tobecome the inmate of an institution, the Commonwealth dumps him backon to the StateGovernment and makes no provision for him.
-The case of an inmate of an institution is covered by clause 5, but the Government only propose to pay him 2s. per week.
.- Under the original Act a pensioner is allowed to earn 10s. a week,and I suggest that, as we are making the pension 12s. 6d., a pensioner ought tobeallowed to earn the latter sum.
.-I . shall be very glad to consider thematter, but I hope the suggestion will not be pressed at this stage.Itisestimated thatthe increase in the pensions proposed by the Bill will involve an additional expenditure of £850,000, and the suggestion, if carried into effect, would introduce anew lot of pensioners.
– How about the cases to which I have drawn attention ?
– The Act provides that where a person ispermanently incapacitated from earning a living he shallhave apension,but the case referred to by the honorable member isone inwhich theperson is not permanently and totally incapacitated.
– Practically so.
– Only partially. There are many shades between total incapacity andgoodhealth, and the suggestion made, ifaccepted, would involve too much trouble and expense for it to be taken into consideration now.
– Are we to accept the proposal to increase the allowance to benevolent institutions from 5s. to7s. 6d. as an indication that the Government are prepared to give the sameallowance inother directions?For income tax purposes only 10s. a week is allowed for keep in the cases of persons whose board forms part of their wages.WilltheGovernment consider the advisability of increasing the allowance to the same amount under the Bill?
– We shall take that into consideration.
.- Under the Act, if a person does not apply for his pension for a period of eighty days, the amount then due is forfeited. In my electorate the population is to some extent nomadic, and some cases of hardship have occurred under this provision, and I suggest that the period be increased to at least 100 days.
Clauses agreed to.
Clause 5 (Pension during residence in asylum or hospital).
– I move -
That the clausebe left out, and the following clause substituted: -
Section 31 of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act 1908-1912 is amended by omitting sub-section (2) therefrom, and inserting in its stead the following subsection: -
If it appears to the magistrate that the claimant, although otherwise qualified for, is unfit to be intrusted with, a pension, a pension at the rate of 2s. per week may be granted to the claimant, and payment of the pension may be suspended until the claimant has become an inmate of a benevolent asylum.
Old-age pensioners who are unable to look after themselves are taken before a magistrate, who may order them into a benevolent institution or hospital, and towards the cost of their maintenance the institution is paid 8s. a week.
– That is done only in the case of benevolent asylums, not hospitals.
– The 2s. which is thus saved, it has been suggested, should be paid to the pensioner as pocket-money. That suggestion we propose to carry out by means of this Bill. The Government, however, are not prepared to pay this 2s. to other elderly persons similarly circumstanced, but who are not what may be described as our own pensioners. This may cause a little irritation, perhaps, but to pay the allowance to all such elderly people would cost the Commonwealth £30,000.
– Why not pay them1s. ?
– I am not now speaking of pensioners only, but of all destitute elderly inmates of hospitals and benevolent asylums, and the Government are not prepared to pay the allowance to other than old-age pensioners.
– Then, under the altered conditions the Government will save 2s. 6d. on every pensioner who happens to be in a benevolent asylum.
– I know that some of the hospitals and State institutions think that we ought to pay in regard to all old people, and the question arises whether the Government ought to intervene and pay the expenses of State institutions.
– Will the Treasurer consider the payment of half the amount ?
– I cannot promise to do so at this stage.
.- Will the Treasurer, under the Bill, place hospitals in the same position as benevolent asylums, for, if so, any objection I have is removed? At present, hospitals are the repository for old-age pensioners just at the very time they require most assistance; and it is proposed to compromise the matter by giving each pensioner 2s., leaving the hospital high and dry. There are many hospitals, for example, in old mining districts that cannot be conducted without assistance.
– At present we are dealing with benevolent asylums, and I am not prepared at this stage to deal with the question of an allowance to hospitals.
– As I understand the Treasurer, an oldage pensioner in a hospital will receive 2s. per week, while the hospital will get nothing.
– The pensioner will get the ordinary allowance for four weeks.
– That is if he has been in a hospital for over a month. Hospitals do not desire to have old-age pensioners, especially when beds are needed for accidents and other emergency cases; and I think that such an institution should receive the full amount of the pension, less the 2s. per week allowed as pocket money. If an amendment is moved to that effect, I shall support it. Nearly all our hospitals are in debt.
– Hospitals are State institutions.
– There is no State hospital in Melbourne that I am aware of.
– Do not the hospitals get State subsidies?
– Yes ; but they are always in debt.
– They seem to be hustling along all right.
– That is owing to the kindness of the banks in allowing them overdrafts. An old-age pensioner in a hospital costs more than he does in a home or benevolent asylum.
– Most country towns cannot run a benevolent asylum and a hospital, too.
– That is so. At Warragul they had often to put old-age pensioners into the hospital, when it was not occupied by patients. I hope that the Minister will do as I suggest. As only one pensioner goes into a hospital to every ten that go into a benevolent asylum, the cost will not be much. I do not wish to interfere with the present arrangement, under which the pensioner gets arrears of four weeks’ pension on leaving an institution. I speak on behalf of the hospitals, because I do know the splendid work that they do, and the expenses which they have to meet. As soon as a pensioner has been treated in a hospital, and is well enough to be removed, he is taken to a convalescent home or benevolent asylum.
Sitting suspended from 1.17 to 2.30 p.m.
.- I appeal to the Treasurer to add the Austin Hospital for Incurables to the list of institutions whose inmates, if old-age pensioners, may continue to receive money from the Government. Those who go to that institution are absolutely without hope of coming out, and it is practically a benevolent asylum.
– As I understand that the institution named is really a benevolent asylum, I shall be glad to take steps to have it so declared.
.- I am sorry that the Treasurer has been unable to make a clear statement regarding the position of hospitals.
– I must decline, on behalf of the Government, to include all hospitals. The management of hospitals is a State concern.
– A hospital may be a benevolent asylum as well. Will not the Treasurer consider that position?
– In many places there are no benevolent asylums, and no intermediary hospitals. That is true of the country districts at large. There oldage pensioners must go into the ordinary public hospitals.
– In that case the hospitals become benevolent asylums.
– They are not treated as such. Under section 45 of the Act, if a pensioner becomes an inmate of an asylum for the insane, or of a hospital, his pension is suspended. When he is discharged, the payment of the pension is resumed, and he is entitled to four weeks’ instalment of pension in respect of the period of suspension, if that period has continued for four weeks. Under another provision, a magistrate may commit a pensioner to an institution, in which case the institution benefits.
– That is an act of grace on the part of the Commonwealth.
– It is the provision of the law, for which the honorable gentleman was not responsible. In a country district there are only the hospitals for the old-age pensioners to go to, and the Treasurer, by refusing to amend an anomaly in the law, makes a pensioner a beggar when he knocks at the door of such an institution. But the Commonwealth, having undertaken to provide old-age pensions, should not throw a pensioner back on the State when he becomes ill. The hospitals are willing to take charge of old-age pensioners, and are doing so, but they should be put by the Commonwealth in the same position as other institutions. When a pensioner goes into a public hospital he is deprived of his pension, and nothing is paid to the hospital for his keep. The Government did right in taking over from the State the business of dealing with old-age pensions, and it should not throw pensioners back on the States when they become ill. Ourpublic hospitals are kept going only through the efforts of those who undertake their management without charge, and are supported by public contributions and small State subsidies. What I ask is that hospitals may be placed in the same position as benevolent asylums. Under the present law it is the big centres of population that benefit, because they are able to maintain benevolent asylums in addition to hospitals. Old persons very often hang round poor mining districts because of early associations, andwhen they become ill they must go to the local hospital for treatment. I propose to amend section 45 by adding the following proviso -
Provided that out of the amounts so suspended and not paid to the pensioner by this section, a sum equal to 10s. 6d. per week shall be paid to the treasurer of any hospital in which such pensioner was an inmate, for the term during which the pension was not paid to the pensioner.
Under that provision the pensioner would receive 2s. per week and thebalance would go to the hospital. The Commonwealth would thus honour its obligations instead of throwing them on the State.
– There is an amendmentalready before the Chair.
-When it has been dealt with I shall move either to insert a new clause or to procure some other amendment in the direction I have indi- cated.
– I support the remarks of the honorable member for Wannon regarding the treatment, in the same way as benevolent asylums, of hospitals which receive as inmates old-age pensioners. I rise also to suggest, for the consideration of the Treasurer, an amendmentwhich will provide that persons in receipt of a pension shall not be debarred from increasing their income by earnings from personal exertion not exceeding £52 a year.
– That matter cannot be dealt with at the present stage.
. -I think that we might very well have a promise from the Treasurer regarding the subject-matter of this discussion. I understand that the Bill cannot be amended as desired, because the consequent increase of expenditure would not be covered by the appropriation recommended by the Governor-General. I trust that the Treasurer will consider the matter seriously during the adjournment.
– I shall be glad to do so.
.- I draw the attention of the Treasurer to the fact that in connexion with the Dunwich institution there is a hospital to which incurables are sent. That institution might be looked upon as not having such a branch.Will the pensioners who are sent there be entitled to the allowance proposed to be given ?
.- The Treasurer should be aware that most of our public hospitals depend entirely upon public subscriptions and Government subsidies. I ask the Treasurer, therefore, to consider carefully their position in regard to old-age pensioners. The donation from the Government depends upon the amount raised by public subscription, and during this time of war, when every one is being taxed heavily, I am afraid that the voluntary contributions to the hospitals will decrease considerably. The consequence will be that the poorer people will suffer. I hope the Treasurer will give this aspect of the question due consideration.
– I will do so.
Amendment agreed to.
Motion (by Mr. Higgs)agreed to -
That the following new clause be inserted: - After section 40 of the Invalid andOld-age Pensions Act 1908-1912, the following section is inserted : - 40 (A). Money payable to a pensioner while he is an inmate of a benevolent asylum or hospital may be paid to the asylum or hospital forthe benefit of the pensioner without production ofthe pension certificate.
.- I move-
That the following new clause, to stand as clause 7, be inserted : - Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, persons in receipt of pensions shall be entitled to supplement their income by earnings up to £52 per annum without being subject to any deductions in the pension paid.
Many pensioners have to pay 5s. or 6s. per week for lodgings, and as soon as they attempt to supplement the slender pittance they receive by way of pensions they are penalized. I wish to encourage persons, who are able to do so, to supplement their incomes. Of course, a person in regular employment, and in receipt of a decent salary, would not be entitled to be on the pension list ; but persons in indigent circumstances ought to be allowed to eke out the small sums they receive from the Commonwealth.
Amendment agreed to.
.- I move -
That the following new clause be inserted: - “Notwithstanding anything contained in any Act, all hospitals that shelter old-age pensioners or invalid pensioners shall be paid the differencebetween thepocket moneypaid to such pensioners and the amount of pensions paid.”
The people who provide money for the old-age pensioners do not wish them to be treated as paupers; but the sending of them into hospitals, that frequently are in debt, is placing upon them that very brand which the Old-age Pension Act sought to remove. If they are obliged to enter hospitals where the attention and comforts are better than those in the benevolent institutions, surely the hospitals should receive some assistance.
– I remind the Committee, with great respect, that, as one honorable member mentioned earlier, there cannot be half-a-dozen Treasurers. I went into this matter carefully, and I readily obtained the consent of other members of the Government to the payment of an additional 2s. 6d. to each pensioner. The Government have made the Bill as liberal as it is possible to make it. I cannot accept any more amendments to it, and if honorable members succeed in carrying amendments such as that which was agreed to during my absence from the chamber for a few seconds, they will wreck the Bill.
– I regret that the Treasurer cannot see his way clear to accept the amendment. I have no desire to wreck the Bill, but I do not think there can be any cavil at this amendment.
– When the Treasurer says the amendment will wreck the Bill, the responsibility willbe yours if you persist.
– The pensioner who enters a hospital is entitled to his pension, but at the very time he is most in need of assistance, it is withdrawn from him. There is not a hospital in Victoria that has not a debit balance. When a man is ill he requires more nourishment than at other times, and how is an institution to supply it to him.? If some amendment such as that suggested is not made, there will be pensioners who will not go into the hospital forfear of losing their pensions, and they will not get the treatment that only a hospital can give them. They will remain outside the hospital and die miserably. I ask the Treasurer what expenditure will be entailed by this amendment.
– I must decline to take up the time of the Committee by replying to that question. Honorable members will simply wreck the Bill if they do not allow it to pass speedily.
– The Treasurer should not make these threats.
– You will not yield to my pleadings, and I have to make threats.
– This is a matter of equity. Surely we are not going to wreck the Bill if we merely rise to state our case.
– I wish to explain the position to honorable members. The Prime Minister has stated that the House must adjourn to-night, and that there will be no sitting next week. The Senate is waiting for this Bill.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments..
Motion (by Mr. Higgs) agreed to -
That the Bill he recommitted for the reconsideration of new clause 7.
In Committee (Recommittal) :
Clause 7 -
Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act persons in receipt of pensions shall be entitled to supplement their incomeby earnings up to Fifty-two pounds per annum without being subject to any deductions in the pension paid.
– I have every sympathy for those who require the old-age pension, and so have the Government, but we cannot accept the proposal brought forward by the honorable member for Lang to enable pensioners to earn.£52 per year. If we agree to that provision it willmean that the man can earn £52 a year, and his wife can earn £52 a year, and each can receive a pension of 12s. 6d. a week. The proposal would bring within the pension area such a number of people that the Government would not be able to carry the financial burden at the present time.
.- By the kindly action of the ex-Prime Minister, an old-age pensioner may live in his own house, even if it be valued at £5,000, so long as he does not let rooms for profit. If a house is valued at £1,000, it is worth, on a 5per cent, basis, £50 a year. If the Treasurer cannot accept the suggestion of the honorable member for Lang that the old-age pensioner should be allowed to earn up to £52 a year, he should also deprive him of the privilege of living in as fine a house as he chooses toown. I am glad that some of the old-age pensioners can save money. I know of instances where they live in valuable houses under very comfortable circumstances by making full use of their gardens. The suggestion of the honorable member for Lang will not add a penny to the amount of pension that is paid.
Bill reported with a further amendment.
Standing Orders suspended, and reports adopted.
Mr. SPEAKER reported the receipt of a message from His Excellency the GovernorGeneral recommending an appropriation for the purposes of this Bill.
In Committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. Higgs) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a Bill for an Act to amend sections 24 and 26 of the Invalidand Old-age Pensions Act 1908-1912, and to provide for pensions to inmates of benevolent asylums -and hospitals.
Resolution reported, and adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Motion (by Mr. Higgs) proposed -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until three p.m. on a date to be fixed by Mr. Speaker, which day of meeting shall be notified by Mr. Speaker to each member by telegram or letter.
– I object to the adoption of this motion for several reasons, principally because on Monday next a proclamation will be issued calling up all the young men over a certain age, and we have had from the Governor-General no message stating the reasons for taking such a step. Section 46 of the Defence Act provides -
If the House carries this motion it will be deprived of the opportunity of discussing the proclamation and the reasons for it. I believe that the Government do not intend to call out the men under the Defence Act. I believe that they intend to use the War Precautions Act for the purpose, and thus avoid submitting to Parliament reasons for their action. They should adhere to the method laid down in the Defence Act, a measure which was passed in times of peace. At any rate, they should be candid enough to tell the House what method they intend to follow. I am raising no factious opposition to the motion, but I feel that Parliament should meet after the proclamation is issued. We have never had anything like this position in the history of Australia. We know that Che peculiar action that is to be taken on Monday is disturbing the minds of the people. The Prime Minister has told us that these men are not to be called up for home defence, but are to be prepared to go to the front if the referendum be in the affirmative. If that be the case, why make any pretence about the proclamation ? In view of the fact that it would be illegal to issue a proclamation with that object under the Defence Act, I am of opinion that the Government intend to resort to the War Precautions Act, and I do not think that is a fair thing to do in a country like this, when thematter might be laid before Parliament. It is a precedent which I should very much regret to see followed on a future occasion. I have approached both the Prime Minister and the Treasurer, and, while from the latter I could get no definite information, the Prime Minister told me that he did not intend the House to meet next Wednesday.
– What is the use of talking? The Government will take no notice.
– That may be; but if it means that the Ministry are seeking to run the country at their own sweet will - if one man is to be allowed to run the country - the best thing would be - and I say this in all earnestness - to shut up Parliament for an indefinite period, and leave legislation and the finances to the Government.
– All the Ministers are in favour of what is being done?
– The honorable member, in asking that question, tries to look very innocent; but, while I am not aware of the opinion of individual Ministers, I candidly admit I “ hae m’ doots.” The Act distinctly says that the Governor-General shall give his reasons, per medium, of course, of the Prime Minister or Minister in charge at the time; and in the drafting and consideration of the Defence Act, both originally and in the several amendments made since, due consideration was given to the seriousness of issuing a proclamation of the kind. I well remember that, when the Defence Bill was before Parliament, honorable members on both sides were determined that no power should be placed in the hands of any Ministry to do as they thought fit on such occasions, and provision was made for a proper discussion of the matter by Parliament, as is shown by the fact that if Parliament is not sitting at the time it must be called together within ten days. Of course, in other Acts the Ministry very properly have the power to issue proclamations, the time being left to their discretion. This was the case in the amendment of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act, when the age of the women pensioners was reduced to sixty, the idea being to allow the Government to issue a proclamation when in their opinion the finances of the country would permit of the change. The same sort of discretion might be left in the case of a Tariff change, it being left to the Government to say when, in their opinion, the inrush of foreign productions was imperilling the industrial life of the country. In the case of the Defence Act, however, that cannot be done, for the reasons I have stated. It would be quite possible for any Government, when the House was not sitting, to issue a proclamation which they knew would result in their overthrow had Parliament been in session. I desire to know from the Government the constitutional reasons they have for their action, for, up to the present, we have had no reasons of the kind. The Prime Minister told us that if, at the end of the month, 32,500 men had not enlisted voluntarily he would act under the sections of the Defence Act relating to home defence ; but as I have already said, he has also told us that the men are being called up, not for home defence, but in order to be trained for foreign service. That is a reason that could not be given according to the Defence Act. It is pretty evident that under the War Precautions Act anything may be done; and there is a case in point in the Government action in fixing prices, which had been declared ultra vires by Mr. Justice Griffith and Mr. Justice Barton. If Parliament has no power to do certain things, it certainly has not the power to delegate others to do them. If the Government may resort to the War Precautions Act to do anything they desire, it will not be long before we have martial law, and Parliament will not be necessary. Under martial law, or even under the War Precautions Act, the Government could deny the right of Parliament to deal with the finances, and take the management into their own hands. If honorable members permit the introduction of the thin edge of the wedge in this way, they, as caretakers of the people’s rights, are running great risks. I, for one, do not intend to take any risks, and, therefore, I voice my objection to the proposal before the House. The Prime Minister ought really to tell the House under what law he intends to make the proclamation on Monday, for it is only just that Parliament and the people should know. It requires no stretch of imagination to believe that, after the proclamation is issued on Monday, there may be great unrest in Australia. Indeed, it has come to my knowledge within the last hour that the unrest has already started, although no information of the fact has been made public in Melbourne. On Monday night, at Broken Hill, forty policemen, armed with batons, made a raid on a meeting. They knocked several men senseless, locked up a number of others, and, in the course of the trouble, batoned several women.
– The men were at atea party, I suppose ?
– Honorable membersmay treat such matters lightly,but I cannot. It may be that those who were batoned were members of a particular association, with all the objects ofwhich Ido not agree, but they certainly have their rights as much as we have.
– What do you mean by “rights”? The right to do what they like?
– No; but every man and woman in this country has theright tosaywhatheor she likes. Whenthe Government realizes that sane things are not injurious, they will get over their trouble. Those who have studied the history of theworld know thatCoercion Acts, and thepreventionof free speech, so far from stifling any sectionofthe community, have only given them greater strength, numerically and otherwise. The objectsof these people may be foolish and ridiculous; they may be faddists, and have an idea of upsetting the Constitution by argument, but so long as they resort to no methods to bring about personal injury they ought to be allowed to voice their opinions. As I have said previously, magistrates who fine men £100, and sentence them to twelve months’ imprisonment, instead of inflicting the nominal fine of 1s. for a nominal crime, only show their unfitness for their positions. Every man knows that if you try to suppress public utterance you strengthen instead ofweaken those whom you coerce. A Labour Government has no right to allow armed police, forty strong, to attack a body of men and womenwho are merely talking. If sabotage were being indulged in, if fire-sticks were being carried round, such interference might be justified; but no Government of any sense would use force, as was done in Broken Hill, merely to prevent people from talking. The presence of women at the meeting to which I refer was evidence that there was no intention to commit a riot. Allthat was intended was to utter the opinion that certain actions of this Government are inimical to the interests of the people. When the proclamation has been issued, and you begin to gather in theyoung men who willnot join the ranks voluntarily, you will create the determinationto resist, andno Government would have the right, undersuch circumstances, topreventparents and sistersfrom expressing their objections to the compulsion that was intended. Therepresentatives of the people ought not to hand over the livesand liberties ofthe community to the sweet mercy of the Prime Minister.
Mr.Greene.- He cannot act without the consent of his. Ministers.
– Constitutionally, there isonly one man in Australia after the Governor-General.
– The Governor-General and the Prime Minister together would not constitute a meeting of the Executive Council. The Prime Minister must have the support of his colleagues.
-. - It isvery evident that effectisto be givento the War Precautions Act. TheGovernor-General hasalreadystatedthathewill act upon the advice of his advisers, despite the Constitution. The Prime Minister isthe sole mouthpiece of those advisers. I believe that thereferendum will be negativedby two toone, in which case there will be only two alternatives open to the Prime Minister. He may resign, or he mayask the Governor-General to close Parliament, as has been done in Greece, allowing him, as dictator, to use the military and the police to compel men to enlist, and torule the country financially and otherwise on hisown.
Mr.Lynch: - Has henotsaid thathe willabide by thewill of thepeople?
-I do not wish to sayanythingnasty ofthe Prime Minister, but he isa determined man. Hemaybe right, andI may bewrong;but I am certain that he will,byevery means in his power, try to carry into effect whathe believes tobe right.Parliament ought not to adjourn over the period which will elapse between the issue of the proclamation and the taking of the referendum.I admit that honorable members generally wish to place their views before the people in the hope of securing the vote that they desire.The Prime Ministerhas taken on an extraordinarily big job, such as only amanof hiscalibre could undertake . He isdetermined to fight thismatterout from start to finish, and he needs allthe opportunity thathecanget. I do not pose asa prophetbutI warn honorable members that if. we agree to the proposed adjournment we shall take- a risk that we ought not to ‘take. I am not able to prevent the carrying of this motion. The Prime Minister has not told us whether the proclamation is to be issued in exercise of the powers conferred by the Defence Act, or of those given under the War Precautions Act. If the Prime Minister is utilizing the War Precautions Act to get his way on this, question, he is capable of doing anything to give effect to his will. However, honorable members must take the responsibility for whatever may be done.
– The House is adjourning, as it has adjourned on several occasions during this session; it is not going into recess. The purpose of the adjournment is a public one, known to every citizen, and I can conceive of no reason which would better justify this adjournment than that which renders it necessary. We are adjourning in order that we may put before the people - the masters of Parliament, whose mouthpieces we are - our views on the greatest question ever submitted to the citizens of any nation in any age. If that cannot be taken to justify the adjournment, this Parliament must be regarded as- an undemocratic institution. A democratic Parliament should always reflect the opinions of the people. That is the essence of Democracy. Although the views of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports differ from mine, he will not deny that the question for the people to decide is one upon whose decision the destiny of the country may turn. No one will deny that the decision is fraught with grave import to the future of the nation. Parliament cannot continue to transact business while its members are addressing the electors upon the referendum. The people must have an opportunity to decide the question on its merits. We intend to dispel the mists of ignorance, prejudice, and misrepresentation that have been spread everywhere throughout the land. We are going- to put the case before the people, so that the humblest and most indifferent citizen may know what it is that he is to be asked to decide. I say, without hesitation or reservation, that we- can best serve the interests of parliamentary- government, and prove ourselves worthy to represent a free people, by adjourning in order to go. before the electors, who have the right to- demand the expression of our views on the great question that is to be referred to them. They are going to hear, those views.
Now let me say a word about the proclamation. It might be thought from the remarks of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports that the proclamation is being issued without notice, whereas the intention to issue it was announced as part of’ the policy of the Government in my statement of the 28th August. It will be issued under powers derived from anAct that has been in force for fifteen years-. We propose to issue a proclamation under a law which for fifteen years, has been unassailed, and has, indeed, won the encomiums of every citizen during the- time that it was not necessary to exercise it, but which now, when it is necessary to show that there is some virtue in it beyond a mere doctrinaire assertion of the right to call upon a man to fight for his country, when it is no longer a mere platitude for use on the platform, but- a piece of practicable machinery to be put into- operation, we are told is a violation of the fundamental principles of Democracy. The nature and scope of this proclamation and the authority from which it derives its power are perfectly well known and settled. There remains nothing more to be done, since Parliament has been debating this policy for a month. The intention to issue the proclamation was perfectly well known when the Referendum Bill was before the House, and it was discussed at length. We hear sinister rumours as to what will take place outside. This is a democratic community ; the- majority are going to rule, and rule in a constitutional manner, and they are not going to rule in any other fashion. The laws of the country are to be observed. This law is no new thing that is being shoved down the people’s throats. It is a law approved by the general consent of all parties, and it has to be put into force at the most critical juncture in the history of the nation. If any section, in the community endeavours to snatch from the hands of the constitutional advisers of the Crown and the representative Government of the people the reins of authority, it remains to be seen who shall govern the country. But that is- a question which can be settled when the necessity arises. It is an issue which, perhaps, cannot be evaded. But I hope that common sense and loyalty, not only loyalty to the Empire but loyalty to themselves, will inspire the citizens of the Commonwealth at this moment. I hope that no man, no matter what his private feelings may be, no matter how much he may oppose the proposals of the Government, will endeavour to take the law into his own hands. I appeal to every person in this country to have respect for the laws for which he or she, as the case may be, is responsible. In this Commonwealth the laws are made, not by some dictator, not by some despot, or by some narrow clique who have snatched to themselves by some means the power to govern the country, but the whole body politic. There is no man whose circumstances are so mean but that he has a vote equal to that of the most powerful and wealthy in the community. Therefore, to revolt against the Government in those circumstances is to revolt against themselves. The citizens of a free country make its laws, and if they make them they must abide by them. When they like those laws no longer let them repeal them in a proper and constitutional manner. That is the position, and upon it this Parliament may safely stand. We are not going into recess. We do not propose to enjoy a period of leisured inactivity, but are going to brave the storms of popular criticism and to speak to the people that which we believe to be right. If there is any man in this House who seeks to stop us, who seeks to debar the people from exercising the fundamental rights of citizenship, let him so declare himself, but unless he does so, he is bound by the principles of Democracy to welcome, and not retard, the motion to allow Parliament to get before the people. So I say the Government have nothing to apologize for. We cannot, and we ought not to, deviate from the course we have laid down. It is a course compatible with the gravity of the situation in which we find ourselves and with principles of government to which all parties in the country have given their adherence. I hope that in this coming campaign members on both sides will remember that they are citizens of a free country, and that they will come to the consideration of this, the gravest question that has ever been presented to the citizens of any Democracy, in a spirit of pure reasonableness. I know that I should waste my breath in urging that counsel upon all men, but I do urge it upon those men who are entitled to he called Democrats and who by their acts prove themselves worthy of the privileges of citizenship in a free country. If we do that, whatever the issue may be, we shall have no cause to reproach ourselves. Whether the country assents or dissents upon this question, we at any rate will have done our duty; but if we endeavour to silence reason by abuse, and to cloud the real question by a thousand and one side issues, and to distract public attention and fill the people’s minds with vague and misleading ideas, then upon our head will be the responsibility. I, for one, am going to tell the people what I believe to be true and necessary. I have said over and over again that every member of the House has the opportunity to put his views before the public without fear and without favour. There is no restriction upon others, and there is none upon me. When we reassemble the issue will have been settled. Parliament will then have to meet the situation as it exists, and if we fight this battle honestly and fairly I do not think there is any one of us who will need reproach himself with the position as he then finds it, no matter what that position may be.
.- I appreciate the spirit in which the Prime
Minister has spoken, and will endeavour to reciprocate it. So far as concerns the referendum which is to be taken. on the 28th October, I think the position is quite clear. It is in the highest degree unfortunate that the Prime Minister was ever deluded into initiating a policy of violence in this country, a policy which rests upon the violent seizure of Australian citizens for military service abroad. He has done that, and I intensely regret it. I believe, with other honorable members, that the vast majority of the people in this Commonwealth will repudiate the proposals and reject the referendum by a negative vote. That, however, relates to something which is to occur on the 28th October. What I should like some information upon, and that is a point which the Prime Minister has skilfully evaded, is the proclamation which he says it is proposed to issue at an early date. That proclamation is to be issued under powers which were vested in the Government by a Defence Act for what is well known as home defence. And although there are persons in this chamber now who would have us believe that there is no distinction between home defence carried on in a foreign country and home defence in Australia, there is not one of them but knows well that the Defence Act in its present form would never have been passed if that vital distinction had not been insisted upon.
– Was the question raised at the time?
– It was raised and insisted upon by the Prime Minister himself times out of number. If the distinction had not been recognised the principle of compulsion in the Defence Act would never have been accepted. Nay, there is scarcely a public man who would not have been hooted off the platform if he had dared to say that conscription under the Defence Act included compulsion of Australian citizens to go 13,000 miles outside the Commonwealth to fight in a foreign country. I have addressed myself at sufficient length already to that aspect of the question. But I wish to know where the Prime Minister stands in regard to this proclamation. Under the Defence Act he has power to call up the citizens of Australia for home defence, and if Parliament is sitting the reasons for that drastic and extraordinary action must be put before the House immediately. If the House is not sitting, so urgent is the matter that members must be called from the four corners of the Commonwealth within ten days to hear the reasons why the proclamation is issued. The Government are under a legal obligation to put their reasons before the House, and that obligation they propose to evade.
– In what way?
– By not doing what the Act says shall be done. The Prime Minister has told us that the House is to go into recess, and that the proclamation is to be issued about the first day of next month.
– We are not going into recess.
– As the Prime Minister has said, Parliament is not going into a recess of leisured ease, but it will adjourn to engage in the referendum campaign. The view I am putting to the House is that the Governor-General - and that, I apprehend, means the Government - is under an obligation to state to the House reasons why this very drastic proclamation is to be issued. If I have failed to understand the Act, the least the Prime Minister could have done was to give the House some explanation of the legal position. The Act is clear. Section 46 provides -
– The Government are playing on the fact that the House is still sitting.
– Of course they are. That is why the honorable member insisted that we are not going into recess, and that, technically speaking, the House would still be sitting, ignoring the vital fact that it is not a matter of technicalities, but a matter of duty on the part of the Government to communicate reasons to the House, in order that honorable members may inform their minds as to their sufficiency.
Mr.Fenton. - This has been a continuous session from the first meeting after the elections.
– It has been a continuous session, but that does not affect my point. In regard to this vital matter, it is clearly of importance that the intention of the provision in the Act is that Parliament should be informed of the reasons, and have an opportunity of deliberating on them. The Prime Minister is not prepared to give those reasons, because he knows that by divulging them he would be put out of court and stand politically convicted of an illegal act; because the proposal is to call up these men for home service, and not for the defence of Australia.
– Who says that it is not for the defence of Australia?
– Let my honorable friend keep quiet. I cannot enter into that inflammatory state of mind with which he regards all public questions.
Mr.Watt. - Yes ; let us talk about the matter quietly.
– I do not propose to be disturbed in the least by the violent jingoism of the honorable member. I urge that the importance of this point cannot be over-estimated. The Prime Minister does not wish to submit these reasons to the House, because they will not bear examination. If some special set of circumstances had arisen in Australia, if a state of war within the confines of the Commonwealth of Australia was threatened or impending, or if some special emergency was arising, the Prime Minister would have the right and the. power to exercise this extraordinary authority; but on the platform and in the House he has already stated that the object of exercising this special power, which was given to him for defence within Australia, is to yard men for the purpose of sending them outside Australia if, unfortunately, the people of Australia should give him the authority to do so. My belief is that the proposed proclamation is wholly illegal. It is said that the Governor-General may, in time of war; issue such a proclamation. What is the definition of war? As defined in the Defence Act it is -
Any invasion or apprehended invasion of or attack or apprehended attack on the Commonwealth or any Territory under the control of the Commonwealth by an enemy or armed force.
– Does not “apprehended “ cover the position ?
– If there is to be an apprehended attack on the Commonwealth on a date which has been carefully fixed by the Government a month in advance, namely the 1st October, has there been no attack apprehended within the last two years ? Is our danger of an attack on Australia greater to-day than it was when the legions of the Kaiser were rushing on to Paris; is our danger of attack greater than when the German armies were said to be triumphant on every front; or is it not a fact that the danger, so far as Australia is concerned, will be on this fixed date immeasurably less than it has been on many dates in the last two years? The Prime Minister has left the chamber without giving us any explanation of his proposed illegal act, as I conceive it to be. He has urged the people to a condition of mind of sweet reasonableness in regard to the whole thing, though he has initiated a policy which, as to the referendum, was conceived in violence and is proposed to be carried out in violence, and, as to the proclamation, proposes to throw the whole of the Commonwealth into a condition of chaos and confusion. The Prime Minister proposes to withdraw men from their occupations, and to throw industry and production into confusion. He proposes to bustle into camp a body of men, hundreds of whom will be physically unfit, and hundreds of whom will be exempted in other ways, and allow them to wait there while leisurely tribunals will determine whether they are fit to serve or not. I have never heard a more impracticable policy than that which was put before the House by the Prime Minister this afternoon in so airy a fashion. He asks us to accept it with sweet reasonableness. It is the very antithesis of sweet reasonableness, and, from its nature, will lead to confusion, chaos, and loss, and is bound to end in disaster.
– I have risen to deal with one point only in the speech of my friend. I suggest most strongly that the honorable member should begin to strike a new line with his speeches. He is a perfect Jeremiah. According to the honorable member, every kind of evil under the sun is going to come upon us if we simply ask the young manhood of Australia to stand up to their duty like men in this time of national crisis. The young men of Australia are not the craven things he tries to picture them. They will stand up to their duty.
– Keep calm ; do not get excited.
– I am not getting excited. My friend is prophesying violence, chaos, and confusion, and all kinds of things. Is it his wish that these things should occur?
– Then everything will depend upon my friend and those who fight with him as to whether they will occur. There will be no chaos and no violence ifthehonorable member does not encourage it or incite it. The Prime Ministerhas made a careful and calm appealto reason in this matter. I hope thedebate will be conducted in that spirit. I have risen for one purpose only, and it is to deny utterly - and prove it - that the genesis of our defensive preparations had no reference to trouble overseas. The honorable member made the statement, with all the fervour of which he is capable, that the Bills establishing the Navy and the Australian land Forces would never have passed if there had been any suspicion that the Forces so created were for use overseas.I happen tohave in my hand my second-reading speech when Iwasintroducing the Billfor the compulsory training of the young men of Australia; andthis is what was said -
The Bill will provide us also, if necessary - I hope we may never have to do it, but one aim of this organizationwillbetoprovidean expeditionary force for immediate despatch oversea or elsewhere, whenever the Government of the day feel themselves under an obligation to send a force.
– Would that mean re-swearing the men?
– I am going to getthe men ready. Allthese special matters can be considered afterwards.
Mr.Fowler. -An expeditionary force would be required even for some parts of Australia.
– But the Minister spoke of a forceto be sent outside Australia.
– An expeditionary force inevery sense ofthe term would be required if wo had to send troops up north. Our scheme in this respect iscapable of systematic expansion.
– Does the honorable gentleman mean that the men could be sent abroad without being re-sworn?
– I tell the honorable member candidly that if these men are wanted for oversea service, in the defence of the Empire, no Government of the Commonwealth worthy of the name would hesitate to send them.
That was in 1909, when the first proposal was put throughthis Parliament for the compulsory training of the men of Australia. Then, as to the Naval proposal, which I had the honour to put through the House on the 24th November, 1909, it wasset out thatwewereproposingto createa newPacificFleet,and I said -
That is a plain unvarnished statement of fact. ThatFleet is, ashonorable members are aware,toconsistofthree squadrons, namely, onewith its base at Bombay, another with its base at Hong Kong or Singapore, and another with its base in Australia.
Provision was made in that scheme for these three divisions ofthe Imperial Fleet to manoeuvre together and to be away from Australia, either at Bombay or at Hong Kong, all working and training together for service overseas, and every trainee -entering the Australian Navy was to be prepared togo overseaswherever the shipwas, and do his fighting in other parts of the world thanour own. It is too late to-day to begin this talk that all our Australianwar preparationshave been forthe defence of ourown miserable skins here. That was never the intentio n of those preparations. On the contrary, the very genius of them, as well as the genesis of them, was for a quite different purpose. The training of the Navy was all to be standardized; the training of the land Forces was all to be standardized - man for man, gun for gun, and organization for organization.The whole of our Forces was prepared by Senator Pearce to be fitted in with the Imperial Army at any time, and in any place, and in any circumstances in which the Army was called for in the defence of the Empire. I am afraid that we are forgetting these facts to-day.
Mr.Brennan. - Is the honorable membergiving a legal definition of the Act ?
– I am not giving a legal definition. I am not speaking on law points. Iam giving thef acts of the case. This scheme of defence,which honorablemembers oppositehave gone all over the country claiming to be their own, provides for Imperial defence, and every preparation is madefor it. That is a simple statement of the case and it is idle for my honorable friend to be arguing, as he has done to-day, that we are doing something contrary to the whole genesis and basis of our Australian scheme of defence in now making provision to send thosemen overseas when the call of the Empire makes it necessary.
.- I shall not discussthe merits ordemerits ofthe question, for I am satisfiedthatthe legal gentlemen will never agreeas to the pointsraised in connexion ‘with theDefence Act. Itdoes not matter whetherthe action be legal or illegal-in any case, what is wanted will betaken,irrespective of the Constitution.
Just now neither law nor Constitution stands in the way. The Prime Minister distinctly told us the other day something which he had previously and repeatedly denied, namely, that the needs of the nation were supreme, and all else subordinate. However, as I say, I shall not discuss the legal points. The question, in my mind, is that, so far as the spirit of the Act is concerned, it was fully intended that Parliament should be able to consider the reasons for any proclamation, and its terms. I shall not raise the question whether the Prime Minister is right or wrong in his interpretation or action ; but no one can read the Act without seeing that what I have said is distinctly its spirit.
– The Opposition knows it.
– It is very evident, irrespective of the merits of the case. If it be that, as the Prime Minister now says, nobody can be sure, the Lord knows, we may be called up ourselves! The Prime Minister told us that no man should take the law into his own hands, but that we ought to appeal to the Democracy. Why not? Why did he not think of it before ? For two years I have been asking that the voice of Democracy should be heard in this country. Before we go out to the fight. I wish to draw attention to the fact that, on the platform of the Government, there was one principle to which they were pledged at the last election. This Government came back from the country, backed by the electors, pledged to give the people an opportunity to vote, by referendum, on a question on which the Government were definitely committed; but the Government refused to allow the people to vote on that question, although now they are driving them to vote on another, which was not then contemplated. We are face to face with the fact that Democracy has no voice now - that Democracy has no power - and that the laws and conditions under which we exist to-day are for the most part laws and conditions of which we had no idea at the last election.
– Why have you not moved a motion of want of confidence in the Government ?
– Have I not been moving such motions ever since we came back from the last election ? And a miserable failure I have been ! Do not let ustalk of national emergencies and usurpation, when every day of our existence is a usurpation. I do not say that the national necessity does not demand it; but if usurpation of authority is necessary, 1st us own up to the fact. The days of Democracy have gone. All honorable members know that there is going to be no election.
– Is that so ?
– Did not the honorable member know ?
– Then the honorable member can make himself happy !
– You said the Labour party were “ marching to their Sedan,” but they did not get there.
– The Labour party did reach its Sedan; but I also prophesied that it would come back with a greater majority than ever, and it did. When the Government did come back, they were free to use the power which the people had given them ; but that power was not used in the manner promised, though it is being used in a manner the people never expected. The Prime Minister came down this afternoon and addressed us in a most excellent manner, cooing in sucking-dove tones, and I shall reciprocate his kindly attitude. But honorable members must have noticed the change in the right honorable gentleman. What Christian influence has been at work to bring about this change in our dear friend? He told us that we are all equal before the law, and that one man’s vote is equal to another man’s vote. That is all right if a man gets a vote. However, I know there is no election for me next year, and I am happy. According to the Prime Minister, there will be no abuse - nothing but argument and appeal to reason; and I hope honorable members note the fact. So far as. I am concerned, no man shall be able to say that, during the campaign, I have uttered one word of personal abuse. There was a time, I admit, when that was part of my vocabulary. Like the honorable member for Balaclava, I was brought up in a school where.it was supposed to be an essential part of the curriculum. Now, however, I am beginning to think that such methods do neither oneself nor one’s cause any good. If a man is fighting a righteous cause, he has no need to descend into the gutter of abuse, but may rely upon his arguments and the facts as he sees them.
At the start of this Parliament, when I, together with the honorable member for Ballarat, was expressing opinions which have since proved to be largely correct, but which were hostile to. the . members on this side, who does not remember how the Prime Minister, when he felt himself strong and buttressed, not only by the support of the Opposition, but by the support of men on this side, spoke? Did the right honorable gentleman not travel up and down the country referring, in the most opprobrious terms, to men who, a little minority, held views identical with mine? Who were the “.parasites” and “devils” to be cast out? The Prime Minister, who now talks of loyalty, with no appeal to violence, and of all men being subject to the law, when he thought he could handle the organizations, urged them to fall with the ferocity of Bengal tigers on men who held views akin to myself. He went to England and came back to find that, in the meantime, rightly or wrongly, and for good or evil, there had grown up in this country a vast opinion which was not prepared to follow him. The Prime Minister was the first man in this campaign to resort to vituperation, and he has brought strong language upon himself.
– I doubt whether he has really started yet 1
– If he has not started, then we know how little reliance can be placed on what he said this afternoon. I, at least, shall endeavour to show that I am not in any way beneath him in the particular method he suggests of carrying on the campaign.
– We shall lose half our interest in you, then.
– I do not think so. I rose to congratulate the Prime Minister on his nice, kindly, gentle manner, and I hope he will stick to it during the campaign. We shall see.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Higgs) agreed to -
That leave of absence be granted to every member of the House of Representatives from the determination of this sitting of the House to the date of its next sitting.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
The following papers were presented : -
The War- Relief of Allied Terriories in the Occupation of the Enemy - Correspondence with the United States Ambassador (Paper presented to the British Parliament).
Small Arms Factory - Report for year ended 30th June, 1915.
In Committee of Ways and Means:
Motion (by Mr. Higgs) proposed -
That a tax be imposed upon payments for admission to entertainments, at the rates set out in the following schedule : -
Where the payment for admission to any entertainment, excluding the amount of the tax -
Does not exceed 3d.,1/2d.
Exceeds 3d., but does not exceed 6d.,1d.
Exceeds 6d., but does not exceed 9d., l1/2d.
Exceeds 9d., but does not exceed ls., 2d.
Exceeds ls., 2d. for the first ls., and1d. for every 6d. or part of 6d. by which the payment exceeds ls.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
I take this opportunity to announce that I shall lay on the table of the Library the papers relating to the agreement between the Commonwealth and Messrs. Dalgety and Co. respecting the export of certain metals. A proclamation has been issued under the Defence Act, and honorable members may rest assured that all the requirements of the law will be carefully observed.
– Early this week the electrical mechanics of the Postal Department obtained from the Arbitration Court an alteration of their award, but before it can operate it must lie on the table of this House for a certain time. The PostmasterGeneral assures me, however, that the necessary documents have not come from the Court. This is hard on men who had to wait some time before they could get to the Court. They will not now, be able to benefit by the award until after Parliament has re-assembled. It seems a pity that some effort . was not made to give these men their rights earlier. . Just as the . House was adjourning some time back, papers regarding another award were laid on the table. 1 understand that the original award applying to the . postal mechanics did not sufficiently emphasize the payments to certain sections, who were unable to get what they should . have got. The awardhasbeen, altered . to. give them their due, and . it is unfair that they cannot benefit by the -alterations -because -the necessary papers have not been laid on the table.Some of . those who are hurt by this delay maybe ‘inclined to think that the Ministry is taking -advantage of the adjournment. It isthe duty of Ministers to see that awards . are placed on the table as soon as ‘possible, in order -that those affected -may ; get -their rights.
Mr.FINLAYSON(Brisbane) [4,.38].- I havehad a gooddeal to sayof late about the censorshipof ‘the press;but the Prime Minister has now given us a clear, unequivocal, and plain statement of the restrictions that will be enforced during the referendum -campaign. If the campaign is to be conducted with fair argu ments, and an appeal is to be made “to reason, nothing should be done -while Parliament is adjourned to impose otherrestrictions. I am : most anxious to avoid trouble during -the . campaign. . There ; are present all the elements conducive to ‘.serious strife and division,which may -be provokedof the Prime Minister resorts again to tthe censorship - . of the press -and the interference with free speech that has been so much , in evidence ‘ of late. ‘ I appeal : to ‘the Treasurer . on this matter. Alarge sectionof : the communitylooksto him and ‘to some of his confreres in the Cabinet to -see -that those who -are opposing the Government’s proposals get a fair deal during the campaign. If there is a reimpositionofrestrictions on ‘free speech and publication, whatever trouble may develop willbe at the door of ‘the.Erime Minister and this ‘Cabinet.
. -‘Iagain appeal to the Treasurer -to get the Government to -do their utmost to end ‘the sugar crisis in Queensland. “The case was ably presented yesterdaybythe honorablemembers for Wide Bayand Darling ‘Downs, both of whom are authorities on the subject about whichthey spoke. and understand it thoroughly. The honorable member for WideBay, to my ‘knowledge, has ; been associated commercially ‘with the sugar industry for ‘forty years, and -to-day represents in this -Parliament the -bulk of the sugar growers of Southern Queensland.” If information beyond that contained in the -speeches of those honorable -members is -required, it is to be . found in -an informative article published in yesterday’s Age. The existence of the sugar industry ‘is now at stake. I ‘have here -a telegram from a man who says that -every day that passes means ruinous loss -to ‘the Commonwealth and to -the community generally, owing to thesugar crop deteriorating. It is hardly fair to put the blame altogether on the ‘Queensland ‘Governmeritthat blame must ‘be shared by it ‘with the Federal Government.
– Surelytheblame cannot be puton this Government ?
– Had it not -been for the continual interference with the industry by this -Government, ‘it would -not be in its present -position. All we ask is to -be treated as the Prime Minister has promised to treat the butter industry. The -butter -producers were very rauch harassed and injured : by the interference of the Commonwealth and State Governments; but yesterday, in reply to a ‘deputation, the Prime ‘Minister- ‘showed that a ray of common sense had penetrated, and promised that the embargo on the export of butter would be removed on the assurance being given to ‘him ‘that the “price charged to Australian -consumers would be on a parity with the London price. That -assurance was immediately given. Those interested in thesugar industry desire a ‘similarly fair deal. This Government is making a profit out of the Queensland -sugar, as the Treasurer -has admitted. He has told us in his financial statement that as it -will be . necessary to again import -foreign sugar to make up a deficiency in the Australian production, a ‘loss -of even more than £2 -‘a -ton may have to be met out of the profits from the- sale -df Australian-grown sugar. I -did -not iknow that this -‘Government was to play the part : of the middleman. Honorable ‘members opposite ‘have always declared themselves in ‘favour of the abolition of the middleman and his profits wherever possible.
– Does the honorable member . say that . this Government is exploiting ‘the consumer by increasing the ; price of sugar?
– The Treasurer admits that it is making a profit from Australian sugar which it is using to cover a loss on the importation of foreign sugar, grown mostly with black, labour. The honorable gentleman has expressed the willingness of the Government that the Inter-State Commission should- inquire into the matter, provided that the agreements between the Commonwealth and Queensland Government, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, and the Millaquin Company are not brought under review. Why tie the hands, of the Inter-State Commission? Why not- let the Commissioners inquire into every phase, of the question? They are able men, and can be trusted tq do their work properly. The fate of the sugar industry in Queensland is at stake. It has had a most potent influence on the settlement of the coastal districts of the State, and we need settlers. The Prime Minister said yesterday that the salvation of the country lies in men on the land. As far as my lights go, the Federal Government have the settlement of this question in their own hands, and in the interests of the industry and the people of Australia, it is their duty to deal with it at once.
.. - I should, like to- bring under the notice of the Treasurer certain statements which appeared iri the columns of the daily press in. regard, to those who will come within the scope of the proposed new taxation. I notice that those persons are already preparing to evade that taxation, and to pass it on to the masses of the public. Unfortunately, the. great bulk of taxation in this country in the past has been passed on to the masses, and under the new proposals of the, Government, which I admit to be wise and sane,. I am afraid ‘that the burden will be transferred to the general body of the public. I do not know whether the Treasurer intends to propose means by which this passing on. of taxation can be prevented. This matter has always presented a problem, and it will have to be solved- in some way, because the masses of the people cannot stand further burdens than they are bearing to-day.
– Some economists; say- that it is impossible to prevent taxes being passed on to the consumers: I do not quite agree with them.
– No doubt economists of the past did say that, because the- Governments in days gone by were not anxious to relieve the people of these burdens.
– How would you solve the problem ?
– I have not a readymade scheme to propound to-day, but I ask the Treasurer to take into serious- consideration the devising, of means to. prevent the evil of which I am complaining. Otherwise it seems to- me that it will be useless to pass new taxation measures; and, for my own part, unless I am assured that the great body of the people are not to have further burdens placed upon them-, I shall, not support some of the- proposals when the Treasurer introduces them. I hope that the Treasurer will make the meshes of his net so small that- those upon whom the. tax. is intended to fall shall not escape.
Another- matter to which I wish to call attention is the peculiar position of some men who are in the service of the Commonwealth. An order was issued by the ex-Prime Minister (Mr. Fisher) that no promotions or appointments were to be made in the Public Service- during the- term of the- war. On the face of it that instruction appears very fair, because we do- not wish to penalize those public servants who have gone to the front. As far as is possible, the positions and promotions of those men must be protected. But we have a large body of men, particularly among telephone mechanics and others associated with postal work, who, though qualified for permanent appointment, do not know what day their services will be dispensed with. They have gone to considerable expense in qualifying themselves, and are- still attending technical schools, and to-day they are asking whether they are to continue doing this, to be- told later that their services are no longer required. Something should’ be done to give them a sense of security and permanence- in regard to their position. They may be preparing themselves for positions that will never be open to them, and then they will be obliged to start life afresh in a new sphere. They are ih an unfortunate position, and ought to be reassured by the Postmaster-General at the earliest possible date.
In addressing the Chamber on the Referendum Bill, I expressed the hope that in the coming campaign a fair deal will be meted out to every man who takes the platform. Whether a man is a conscriptionist or an anticonscriptionist, he should receive the same treatment from the press, in order that the people may arrive at a fair decision on the all-important question of compulsory service. The press will be acting unfairly to the people if they do not report at least some of the chief speakers on the anti-conscription side. Often it is the cutting down of speeches, and the consequent misrepresentation in the press, that irritates a large number of men, and makes them feel that they are not receiving that fair treatment which is essential in dealing, with a question like this. I should have liked to have seen the arguments for and against conscription published at equal length in a manifesto to the people, and if that had been done I doubt very much whether it would have been necessary for members of Parliament to take the platform in order to educate the people on the subject. It would have been a good thing if we could have refrained from platform controversy. Unfortunately, that is not possible, and the duty devolves upon all of us to endeavour to impress our convictions upon the public. In doing that I hope that we shall all so comport ourselves on the platform that, after the decision is given, we may return to our places with the feeling that we have done nothing to be ashamed of. We shall have done our best, and, whatever the verdict is, it will be for us as a Parliament to honour and abide by it.
.- I indorse the wish of the honorable member for Maribyrnong that the referendum campaign shall be conducted with that calm deliberation and thorough exposition of both sides of the question that ought to characterize every referendum. I wish to bring under the notice of the Treasurer a matter of much importance to the farmers. Producers have been under a considerable disability of late years owing to the high prices ruling for bags, and it seems to me that steps might be taken to permit of the use of the secondhand article. I believe that it would be possible to treat bags chemically, so as to render their use a second time perfectly safe. If the Treasurer will ask the Minister for Customs to look into this matter, it may be found possible, notwithstanding an answer to the contrary given by the Prime Minister to the honorable member for Calare, to do something in the direction suggested, and so give considerable relief to a number of producers.
.- I would urge upon the Treasurer the importance of taking decisive and immediate action with regard to the sugar crisis. The trouble has been dragging on for over five weeks, and the Treasurer must know what a loss is involved to the growers and the Commonwealth as a whole. Only a few days ago I noticed that at one mill 400 tons of cane had absolutely gone to waste. That cane would represent at least £500 to the growers. I urge the Minister to submit the question to the Inter-State Commission.
– Is the honorable member aware whether the majority of people connected with the industry would be agreeable to that course?
– I am reliably informed that the majority of growers, whilst not accepting a reference to the Inter-State Commission as the best way out of the difficulty, are prepared to accept it as one way out.
– And are the raw millers and workers agreeable to that course?
– I cannot answer for the workers. However, some action must be taken, and if the Treasurer is not prepared to adopt that course, I hope he will decide upon some other immediately. Otherwise we shall have a sugar famine in Australia. -It is beginning to look as if there is some dilatoriness on the part of somebody in dealing with this matter. I do not know what is in the mind of the Minister in stipulating that the present agreements between the Government and the Commonwealth, the Government of Queensland, and the companies shall not come under review; but, whatever the objection is, I hope the Minister will proceed immediately with the reference of this question to the Inter-State Commission. It is useless saying that the Government cannot do anything. They can do something, and they must do it, or Australia will be faced with a crisis that will land it in serious difficulty and financial loss, as well .as in the loss of one of the necessaries of life. Therefore, I urge expedition in regard to the matter. I hope that the Minister will not listen to any side issue, hut will go straight on, even if he does the wrong thing.
– I take this opportunity of stating a position which is very essential in regard to the matter of the referendum. I believe it can be said of the people of this country that they will not back out of the promise to give the “ last man and the last shilling” in this great crisis, if they believe in the necessity for so doing ; but before they come to a decision on the 28th of next month they should know exactly what the Government’s proposals mean. There appears to be a conspiracy of silence on the Opposition side with regard to the financial aspect of the case.
– The honorable member is not in order in debating a matter that has already been decided.
– I shall not refer to it further. I merely wish to deal with what will be the financial aspect if the referendum is decided in the affirmative.
– If the honorable member is allowed to proceed on that course every time the adjournment of the House is moved, the whole debate might crop up again, and there would then be no end to discussion.
– In regard to the proclamation that is to issue on Monday, there has been no clear contradiction from the Ministry of the figures prepared by Mr. Knibbs and summarized in the daily press some three weeks ago, showing that the number of fit men in Australia between the ages of twenty-one and forty-five years is not more than 45,000.
– The honorable member is now endeavouring to evade my ruling.
– Any week that number could be picked up in the streets of Melbourne.
– The figures are given on the authority of the Commonwealth Statistician.
– Fiddlesticks !
– They have not been officially contradicted, except by such loose statements as that of my honorable friend opposite, who would contradict anything in order to suit his own purpose. However, that is all I wish to say on that point. The people should know that married men will have to be called up within three months.
– Order ! The honorable member had ample opportunity of discussing that matter.
– That is all I wish to say on the point. ‘Finally, I offer my protest to conscription as we will have it under the proclamation to be issued on Monday. As the Prime Minister told us to-day, the provision has been on the statute-book for fifteen years, and it could have been utilized for calling up men for the defence of Australia for home service; but the assumption on which they are to be called up on Monday next is that, if the referendum vote is cast in a certain way, they are to be used for service abroad, and there is no essential difference between that method and calling up men for compulsory service outside the Commonwealth. Men will be called up in a way that is quite antagonistic to the democratic principles of the people of this country, and yet it is being done in the name of Democracy. We have had several dissertations from the Prime Minister, in which he used that glorious word “Democracy,” but next month we shall be engaged in a campaign in regard to a matter that violates every principle of Democracy. We are going to ask the people to vote on a matter which affects a section only, and which does not concern a great many of those who will go to the ballot-box. It -will affect the democratic spirit in another way, because if what has taken place so far can be taken as a guide there will be only one side in this great issue that will be able to put its case in an unhampered manner.
– Order !
-I have nothing further to say on that point, particularly as I have finished with it.
– The honorable member must not indulge in any other points in connexion with the matter. He has had ample opportunity of discussing it to the fullest extent.
– As a final word in regard to the proclamation on Monday, I wish to draw attention to the ruin and sadness most disastrous floods have brought to many Victorian, homes during the last few days. Many of the young men whose services will be required in the direction of repairing a great deal of the ruin that has been occasioned will have to present themselves to the military authorities on Monday ; and, owing to the number of Courts,, tribunals, and places of appeal that they will have to pass through, the war will possibly be over before they can get away again; because, if we are to be guided by the prediction of the Prime Minister, the war will be over by June next. I have already received letters asking me whether young fellows will have to present themselves on Monday next, and I know that there, is sadness in some of their homes, because, besides sustaining damage to their property, they have lost relatives through the floods. In addition to the injustice of the matter, their positions will be rendered very much worse by their having to present themselves to the military authorities at this particular time-. As a final word, I protest against this most undemocratic thing which is- being done in the name of Democracy..
’.- I would not have- risen had- it not been for some words that fell from- the- lips’ of the Treasurer. There must be some misapprehension. We were given to understand, in the financial statement, that the Treasurer was prepared to grant an inquiry into the sugar industry by the Inter-State Commission,, provided certain matters, would not be insisted on. These matters, will not be insisted on- if the Treasurer, will: only proceed with the inquiry at once. The honorable member has asked the honorable member for Moreton whether the mill-owners and the canegrowers will consent to this arrangement. I have in my possession telegrams from the United Cane-growers Association and the Sugar-millers Association, stating that they are prepared to accept the appointment of the Inter-State Commission to hold this inquiry. There remains the third party - the labour employed. I do not see how the Treasurer can be sincere in asking any honorable member what the labourer wants. It is the cane-grower and the sugar-miller who have to provide the means for paying- for the labour. The labourer need- not work unless he gets the pay that he wants. The two parties who are interested in this question are the sugar-growers and- the mill-owners, and’, as they have given their consent, I hope that the Treasurer will not delay this allimportant matter, and that he will allow the crop to be taken off.
.- To paraphrase an old saying of the Romans, “We who are about to” die salute you,” I say to the Treasurer, “ Those who are now about to die through the closing of the sittings of the House are going to beat you on the 28th October.” In letters written to me, some of the soldiers at the front have discussed the question of the referendum. I know that they will not vote to compel their fellow men to be slaves instead of free men-. I have inquired from twelve mothers who have sons at the front. They have- visited- my office-, and I have not sought to change their opinions; but out of the twelve- of them, eleven intend to vote against conscription. The twelfth one perfectly justly said, “I am going to vote to send- them to help my boy.” Farther I have had a talk- to many soldiers, and I can say confidently that the- Prime Minister will get thesurprise of his life when he- sees how some of the soldiers vote. I hardly know whether to congratulate or condole with- the representative of the Government here; but, if reports be true, the Government have- already felt the shadow of defeat in another- place. It has been decided, in the wisdom of the Chamber, as against the Government, to sit next Tuesday..
– Why not suggest that we sit. during the whole of the campaign ?
– That is what I should, like to see, because,by means of a question here, you can get that justice which is impossible, by correspondence or interviews. The treatment of the soldiers in withholding their pay will also cause them to vote, against conscription.. These men are waiting for their money,, because their records have not been sent from the front; and, in the. meantime those who are unable to work have to beg for food in the streets of Melbourne. I must compliment the honorable member for Bourke on the fact that he was quite right when, in the early part of this session, he declared that the- Government, under the War . Precautions Act; had full power- to control prices. This was contradicted by the Prime Minister and’ other members of the- Government; and. on. their assurance I thought the honorable member for Bourke was wrong; and on that account I now tender the honorable member an apology. The ‘Government now tell us that, under that Act, they have power to do anything, even to taking any man’s liberty away. I should now like to touch on the infamy and injustice of the censorship.I have -here a number of sketches, which, though nothalf as bad . as some that appeared an the Bulletin, have -been censored in . Melbourne ; indeed, pictures that are . passed in one . city . are forbidden in another, and vice versa. The wealthy daily papers are allowed to publish what smaller -.newspapersare forbidden to publish;and.I.donot -think that any- ‘honorable member -would approve ‘of
Bucha -state ofaffairs. Any censorship ought tobeexercised all -along-the -line. In a leafletissued -by -the Australian Peace Alliance, ‘the censor -censored the word “ merest “ before the word “ suspicion,” -and also theword ‘” jingoistic “ before the word “magistrate.”’ Then, again, in the sentence, ““The suspicion may be baseless, the seizure unwarrantable,’” the last three words are struck out. The following part of the leaflet was . also censored : -
Under this regulation the premises of the
Australian Peace Alliance were raided and searched by two officers, and thousands of copies of two ‘leaflets -were seized ‘and taken. They arc detained now, and the military authorities refuse . to return them or to give any information concerning them. One leaflet is by the well-known writer, John A. Hobson, and was published in ‘England ;(in the Nation), andin Victoria, presumably withthe censor’s permission. It is a striking article - it deals with -the question of peace - but the military . say that people shall not see it. The other dealsalso with peace, and was published in the Labour Leader. It is called”Women andChildren “first.” But our military authorities will -not fallowitto bedistributed here, andthepublic are at their mercy. The Socialist party’s . premises have been raided and searched ; so, too, have those of . the No-Conscription Fellowship. Printed -matter was seized, and its fate is unknown. Boss, of the Socialist party, ‘was accosted in ‘the street . and threatened withsa’pertsona’l search there and then; . and they have the power to-do this to any man (see Reg. 506) on ‘the merest suspicion.
If. some of this matter, which was written by Mr. . Hobson, is dangerous in Australia as a means of, . giving information to the Germans, . how. much more ‘dangerous must -jit be in -England, which is -nearer the -seat of war? Such censorship -must only tend to lower us in German opinion. The Argus, and, I think, the Age, piiblished a large portion of this circular, and it seems pitiable that a small newspaper should be confiscated, while others, with circulations in . the neighbourhood -of 100,000, are allowed to escape.
Mr.Finlayson.- - The article to which I objected most -strongly in ‘the Herald was never submitted to the censor.
– Some.have friends at court,, . and “ kissing . goes by favour.” In Brisbane something has occurred which should inot -have been allowed. Men “in uniform ought not to be . permitted to break the -law. If the civil powers cannot control meetings, it is the duty of the civil power to request the assistance of the military in a proper way.
-A similar thing happened . in South Melbourne the other day, on . the other -side.
-^D.oes the . honorable member say that soldiers in uniform broke up a meeting?
– No; ..but “ihoodlums” did.
Dr.MALONEY.- A plum -pudding . is not a currant cake. As for myself, I am perfectly willing, so . long as I -can make iny position clear, to . take -the chair . at any conscription meeting; . and I have made an offer . to this effect to ianihonorable senator on lthe -other side. I -should now . like to . refer to the -censoring of a letter written to the Age by Mr. E. S. -Boss, the secretary of the Socialist party. The letter was as ifollows: -
According -to your columns -of this morning the Minister of Defence, speaking of the position at Broken ‘.Hill, said - “‘Nor had the news about trouble there been censored.” I have to (deny ithe Minister’s statement.
That part -of the letter was permitted, but the following -was censored:-
Such news has been censored from the columns of theSocialist. I have also to comjplain of ‘.the iworfling of a . wire from myself to theA.M.A., of -BrokenHill, being altered iby the icensor. Wishing -to . help set -at rest -the rumours . current in Melbourne, T asked, . per wire, “for definite “information. The wire was “not sent as ‘written, and, consequently, ‘the reply received . was ‘of . -.very ‘little use inallaying.;alarm. . Further, . I cannot now . get . Barrier Daily Truth through the post. I say that a censorship imposed to -.prevent us giving tidungstto Germany ‘is -being utilized to . prevent usgivingtidings tor.each -other.
The following was permitted : -
Again the Prime Minister (also according to your columns) insists on but two restrictions as being operative in the censorship.
The following was censored: -
My experience in two papers as recent as this week proves otherwise.
The following was permitted: -
The censorship is a political censorship, applied to purely domestic politics. It is a censorship, also, which prohibits any discussion of itself as an institution. It is in operation exasperatingly vexatious-
The next two words, “ and insolent,” were censored, but the remainder of the sentence was permitted - to any man taught, as I was taught, as an Australian, that it was a good and great national characteristic to think, and to dare to speak what one thought. It ought to be abolished forthwith.
The concluding sentence, as follows, was censored -
As a remedy it is worse than the disease.
The freedom of our Australia, and the ease with which we occupy these benches, have caused dry-rot in the great Labour party. There is not the big fighting phalanx in the Commonwealth Labour party in this House that there is in the State House of Victoria, where they know how to fight. But I sincerely hope that an election will come, when we may present ourselves to the people who sent us here. I hope that we shall come back with a number of younger men to take up the work of us veterans, with all the fighting pluck that has been shown in the past. If the split and break comes, as I can see plainly it will, it may damage us for a little while; but we must remember that the man who scored the highest number of votes in Australia at a Commonwealth election, and who sought to break up the Labour party in Victoria, is now in political oblivion. If the path of the Prime Minister be directed to England, he will never come . back, though God knows many hearts would not pray for his happy return. If he does go, I do not know any man who could do more good there. It is possible that he might bring about some reform in the Conservative ranks, so that the 16,000,000 people who, up to the present, are disfranchised, may find themselves in the possession of votes, and cause the abolition of the odious system of entail, so that the . wealth of the country may decently contribute to the common weal of Great Britain and Ireland. But he wants to print the brand of slave upon every Australian, and force him to fight. Even in our school days, a boy who would not fight was not compelled to do so. Others might step into his place. I have every appreciation of the efforts of my fellow countrymen, who were sacrificed like cattle at Gallipoli because of the ineptitude and inability of leaders and generals. For a month or two the fleet was firing at the forts, giving the Turks notice to prepare for an attack, and yet they were not provided with sufficient men when they did attack. That brutal descendant of the traitor Marlborough, who starved his soldiers to put money into his pocket and took bribes from the King of France - Winston Churchill - has dared to say that the winning of the Dardenelles was a sporting chance. Why did not the cur go himself ? I hope to see him impeached for taking a sporting chance with human life. He tried to lull the men of the British Cabinet into a false security, which might have brought about the loss of the British Fleet. My reading of history, the knowledge I have garnered from those older than myself, the lessons I have learned from my teachers, tell me that never in the history of the world has a people put conscription upon itself by popular vote. Does any one think that if they were not compelled by conscription, the Germans would be fighting for l£d. a day ? Would the German Emperor have been able to make this war had not conscription provided him with millions of soldiers ? Would France, which has led the world in the arts and sciences, find men to fight, if it were not for conscription ? Would not they rather be tilling the fields- of their beloved country ? So with Italy and with Russia. It is not men who are wanted at the front. Any one with a knowledge of war will tell you that it is big artillery that is wanted. The war will be won, not by men, but by the blasting power of heavy ordnance. On the word of one who has been in three revolutions, and who has seen two Presidents elected, a consul now living in Melbourne, I say that the Allies could blast their way to Berlin in two months if they had ten heavy pieces of ordnance to every one possessed by the enemy. Any one who says that I wish to buy Russians to fight for Australia is a liar.
– The honorable member must withdraw that remark. I ask him not to follow his present line of argument.
– I withdraw the word, and leave the matter to the consciences of those to whom I refer. ‘ This whispering about, these secret conferences - 1 want no more of them.
– The honorable member must not refer to that.
– I have put my protest. I do not salute the only Minister present as one about to die. The shadow is falling, and 1 am one of those who will win, unless I am sent to Pentridge, where I am perfectly willing to go as a passive resister.
– I hope that no one will put the honorable member there.
– The injustice of this Government may put many men there, and I am willing to go with them. I have never advised a man to do what I shall not do. I have never asked a man to enlist without offering myself. I shall not ask men to go as conscripts. Let them go as free men. Any man who says goodbye to the shores of his beloved native land should go, not as a conscript, but as a volunteer. He should not be a slave, branded by this Government as a conscript.
– The Prime Minister and myself have had conversations with the Premier, of Queensland regarding the position of the sugar industry of that State. That gentleman left for Queensland Bom© days ago, and we are now awaiting a communication from him.
Question resolved in the affirmative. . House adjourned at 5.37 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 29 September 1916, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1916/19160929_reps_6_80/>.