6th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. HUGHES (West Sydney- Prime
I have to announce to the House that, on the 14th November, I tendered my resignation to His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, and that His Excellency was pleased to accept it. Thereupon, I tendered to His Excellency a request for the issue of a commission to form a new Administration, to whichHis Excellency was pleased to accede. I have allotted the offices of the new Ministry as follows: -
Prime Minister and AttorneyGeneral. - The Right Honorable William Morris Hughes.
Minister of State for the Navy. - The Honorable Jens August Jensen.
Treasurer. - The Honorable Alex ander Poynton.
Vice-President of the Executive Council. - The Honorable William Guthrie Spence.
.- I desire to inform you, officially, Mr. Speaker, that I have been elected Leader of the Australian Labour Party.
Assent to the following Bills re ported : ‘-
Estate Duty Assessment Bill (No. 2).
Supply( Works and Buildings) Bill (No. 2)
Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 3).
Invalid and Old-age Pensions Bill.
Land Tax Assessment Bill (No. 2).
Under cover of a motion for the printing of a paper, I desire to make a Ministerial statement, setting forth, as shortly as possible, the policy of the Government, and the position in which Parliament and the country find themselves. I shall first allude to some of the circumstances which led up to the resignation of the last Government and . the formation of the present one. As is well known, outside bodies, not responsible to the electors, have recently issued peremptory instructions to members of Parliament as to how they should vote upon questions upon which they were not pledged to their constituents, and have expelled all those who decline to vote other than as their consciencesdictated. The Government, considering that such methods are not only inconsistent with responsible government, but incompatible with the basic principle of democratic representative ‘ government - rule by the majority of the electors through their duly-elected representatives in the Parliament - sets its face stead fastly against them.
The war overshadows all other matters’, and the general policy of the Government will be directed along lines best calculated to enable Australia to do her uttermost, both as regards men for the actual operations at the front, and products, such as wheat, meat, and wool, necessary for the armies and the civilian population of Britain and her Allies. All legislative, executive, and administrative action will be directed to this one purpose, and it is not intended to introducelegislation except such asis necessary or desirable to give effect to it.
Before stating the immediate businesswhich the Government proposes to ask the House to consider, I , may be permitted to review, very shortly, the present position of the war and to say one or twowords on the recent referendum campaign in relation thereto.
Honorable members will remember that when I laid the proposals of’ the previous Government for a “referendum on the question of over-sea compulsory military service before them, I set out the position of the war as it then stood, and made known to the House what reinforcements the Army Council of Great Britain had - requested us to supply, the number of troops already available here, on the water, or in England, to meet their request, and the number of men who, judging from the experience of the previous four months, might be expected to join the Australian Imperial Force. I stated then that, in my opinion, it was not possible to obtain the reinforcements asked for by the Army Council under the voluntary system, and that there was no alternative but to have recourse to compulsory enlistment. As honorable members know, the question was then submitted to the electors by way of a referendum, and has been rejected by a majority of about 60,000 in a poll of some 2,250,000.
While I greatly regret that the electorsdid not approve the Government’s proposals, I do not intend to refer at this. juncture to the circumstances that led to their rejection, beyond saying that gross misrepresentations of the facts by some of those responsible for the organized “ No “ campaignwere amongst the chief. It is not necessary that these misrepresentations and distortions of facts, made with the deliberate intention of deceiving the electors, should be refuted by me. Time and circumstances will do that most effectively. Already some of the outrageous misstatements to which I have referred have been nailed to the wall by the javelin of circumstances. All will surely share the same fate.
I come now to the consideration of the present state of the war, our position in regard thereto, and how this has been affected by the recent decision of the people against compulsory enlistment.
First, as to the present state of the war. Compared dispassionately with that existing in August when I laid the Government proposals before the Parliament, it cannot be said to have improved. Taking all these things into consideration, and allowing for the successes on the Western front, and assuming that the Roumanian situation may not end in a debacle, it has- to be admitted that the prospects of an early termination of the war are distinctly less promising than was the case two or three months ago, and that the danger of an indecisive peace, which must follow if the German legions are not driven out of theAllied Countries, looms more darkly in the heavens.
The need for a bold, unfaltering policy by Australia, in common with the rest of the Empire and its Allies, is not less acute now than when the Government laid its proposals for compulsory enlistment before this House and the electors. The decision of the people has, of course, limited its scope of action, and being refused power to insure reinforcements by compulsion, it must, therefore, endeavour to do what is possible by voluntary enlistment. I think it will be conceded that it is not possible to raise the troops asked for by the Army Council under voluntary enlistment.
The Government have drafted a scheme which, in broad outline, I shall lay before honorable members before I sit down. It is impossible to estimate the number of recruits likely to enrol under thisor any scheme of- voluntary enlistment. The
Government believe that its scheme will, if loyally supported by all sections of the community, exhaust the possibilities of the voluntary system.
Before setting out the scheme, I desire to inform the House, and the country, that, as a result of the defeat of the Government’s proposals, we notified the British Government that we could not supply the reinforcements asked for, and suggested that the number’ of divisions be reduced from five to four, and the Fifth Division - which had been in England during the recent referendum campaignbe used for reinforcements. The Army Council, however, urged that we should not do this, at all events for the present. This request supports, in a very pointed manner, the recent statements made by General Robertson and other British and Allied generals, that there is a pressing need for additional man power .
This is the position with which the Government has to deal. It must be confessed it is not an easy one. The Government will do all that is humanly possible, and subordinate all things to a vigorous war policy. It believes that it is not only the duty of Australia to put forth its every effort until the Allied armies are crowned with decisive victory, but that the national existence and material welfare of Australia absolutely demand such a policy. The policy of the Government, then, is to fight by the side of Britain until Germany is beaten, and I call upon all those who believe in that policy to support the Government.
I come now to the recruiting scheme of the Government. Since May, 1916, voluntary enlistment has provided the following: - June, 6,590; July. 6,170; August, 6,161; September, 9,072; October, 11,522. In regard to September and October, enlistment during these twomonths was doubtless stimulated by the announcement of the Government’s intentions, and by the issue of the proclamation under the Defence and’ War Precautions Acts.
There are five Australian divisions in the field.
As already said, it seems hopeless to expect that we can, by voluntary enlistment, raise 16,500 per month, but we propose to do the utmost that voluntary enlistment is able to do.
In the past voluntary enlistment has been conducted by voluntary organization, and the Government now propose to supplement voluntary organization by a permanent and paid organization throughout the Commonwealth.
The weakness of voluntary organization has been that in some districts, where there were considerable numbers of men available, but very little enthusiasm, no organization was formed to stimulate recruiting, with a result that there was a very poor response to the call for recruits. In other districts, where a good organization was in existence, splendid results were obtained, in some cases almost the whole of the single men of fighting age coming forward.
The work of directing recruiting throughout a campaign covering the whole of Australia obviously calls for the entire time and effort of the man who is directing it. It has been impossible for the Minister for Defence, owing to his multitudinous duties, to give a great deal of his time to this important work in the past, and it is therefore proposed to appoint” a Director of Recruiting, who willbe responsible to the Minister, but will take complete charge of all matters relating to voluntary enlistment. Under him there will be an organization covering the whole of Australia, particulars of which are as follows: -
Central Head-quarters. A Director of Recruiting to be appointed under the Minister. Mr. D. Mackinnon, M.L.A., of Victoria, has been offered, and has accepted, the position in an honorary capacity. The Director will be in close touch with the Military Secretary on all matters affecting recruiting. He will visit each State, arrange and perfect organization, obtain full co-operation of Federal and State members of Parliament, and local organizations, and generally arouse public interest.
State Head-quarters. A central recruiting committee will be organized in each State containing one Federal member or more, one State member or more, and civilians. Their staff will consist of the Military Director of Recruiting, who will be the officer now in charge of recruiting on the staff of the District Commandant, and such clerical assistance as may be required.
District Organization. Each Federal electorate of the House of Representatives to be a recruiting district. Each member of the House of Representatives will be ex-officio chairman of the district committee. He will act under the State central committee, and will form such committees as are practicable. The Federal member will invite the cooperation of the State members within his division, of the local governing bodies and their organizations. The Military Registrars appointed under the recent proclamation, in each Federal division, or such of them as are suitable, will be the district recruiting officer. He will be supplied with such clerical assistance as may be necessary, and under the direction of the State committee will make all the arrangements for meetings, recruiting arrangements, medical examinations, and the forwarding of recruits.
Organizers. Organizers may be appointed if found necessary, but they should, as far as possible, be suitable discharged returned soldiers appointed as civilians, civilians not eligible for active service, or civilians who, having volunteered for active service, have been rejected.
The Government appeals to every member of the Federal Parliament, whatever his views may be, to give the utmost of his time and interest in making this scheme a success, with a view to supplying as many as possible of the recruits required. It appeals to members* of the State Governments and Parliaments to cordially co-operate with the Federal organization in this work. It also appeals to all local governing bodies and all patriotic organizations of every kind to assist to their utmost. By the location of recruiting officers in each Federal division, with the necessary clerical staff, it is hoped to have an organization that will keep alive public interest throughout the Commonwealth in the stimulation of recruiting. The Government also appeals to the people of Australia to realize the absolute necessity, in the interests of Australia, of the Allies winning this war. It points to the statements of British statesmen and military leaders that the” utmost man power of the whole of the Empire is required to that end, and it asks all sections to sink their differences of opinion and work unitedly to this common end. The Government asks every citizen to do .his utmost to make the scheme a success.
Finance. In order to conserve to the utmost the resources of the Commonwealth to meet the demands of the war the ordinary Estimates and Loan Estimates have been subjected to a most rigid scrutiny, and wherever possible, without impairing the nation’s efficiency for war, vigorous economy is to be observed.
Industrial. The policy of the Government is to maintain the wheels of industry moving without interruption, and the settlement of industrial disputes by arbitration. It is vitally important, not only for the welfare of Australia, but for success in the war, that the Commonwealth should produce as much as possible of those products, such as wheat, meat, wool, &c., which are essential to the maintenance of Britain and her Allies. It is not only the duty of’ Australia to assist the Mother Country by producing these things without which the war cannot be carried on, but it is very greatly to her material interest to do so.
Industrial disturbances most seriously retard the production of wealth, and the vicious doctrine of “ slowing down “ preached by the Industrial Workers of the World in the long run produces even more disastrous effects upon the community. “ Sabotage,” that is, the destruction of machinery used in the production of wealth, falls in the same category. The Government sets its face resolutely against strikes, and urges organized labour to submit itsgrievances to legal tribunals. Where these do not exist, or for any reason can- not deal with disputes within a reasonable period, it will favorably consider the appointmentof an additional Court or Courts. Regarding “ slowing down “ and “ sabotage,” social and economic crimes, the Government will use every means at its disposal to counteract and discourage them.
I move -
That the statement he printed.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Joseph Cook) adjourned.
Mr. SPEAKER reported the receipt of messages from His Excellency the GovernorGeneral recommending an. appropriation for the purposes of these Bills.
Question proposed -
That the foregoing messages be referred to the Committee of Supply.
.- I move-
That after the word “That” the following words be inserted : - “ the Prime Minister (the Hon. W. M. Hughes) no longer possesses the confidence of this House, for the following reasons : -
That the Prime Minister secretly prepared regulations for the purpose of intimidating intending voters at the polling booths on the 28th of October (Referendum Day).
That though ‘the said regulations were rejected at a duly constituted Executive Council meeting, held at Melbourne on Wednesday, the 25th of October, and attended by Senator the Hon. Albert Gardiner (Vice-President of the Executive Council), the Hon. J. A. Jensen (Minister for the Navy), the Hon. W. G. Higgs (Treasurer), and Senator the Hon. E. J. Russell (Assistant Minister), the Prime Minister persisted in his reprehensible endeavour to tack on to the Referendum an unnecessary and irritating procedure designed to add penalties for military offences already provided for in the Commonwealth Defence Act.
That the Prime Minister succeeded in getting the objectionable regulations passed on Friday, the 27th of October, at an Executive Council meeting, held at Sydney, and attended by His Excellency the Governor-General, the Hon. J. A. Jensen, and himself, although the said regulations had been rejected at an Executive Council meeting held two days before.
That the Prime Minister then issued the said regulations, and ordered the Chief Electoral Officer (Mr. Oldham) to give effect to them.
That the regulations were withdrawn only after Senator Gardiner, Mr. Higgs, and Senator Russell resigned from the Ministry.
That though the Prime Minister issued the discreditable regulations above referred to on the morning of Friday, the 27th of October, he attempted to and did deceive a large section of the public of Australia by stating in the newspaper press, on Saturday, the 28th of October, that “no such regulations had been issued.”
That the foregoing resolutions be communicated to His Excellency the GovernorGeneral.
I informed the Prime Minister that it was my intention to submit an amendment of this character.
– I rise to a question of privilege.
– If the honorable member rises to a question of privilege, he must conclude with a motion.
– The matter has reference to the question ofseats occupied by honorable members in this House, and I think it is one we should settle at once.
– Then I take it that the honorable member is . asking a question ?
– Yes. I should like to know, sir, how it comes-
– Is this a question of privilege?
– The honorable member is asking a question.
– The honorable member for Parramatta is intervening in a speech of an honorable member in a way in which he has no right to do.
– As a matter of fact, I am trying to avoid interrupting the speech of the honorable member for Yarra.
-The question which the honorable member for Parramatta is asking is one he should have asked at question time, but did not do so.
– I was not here then.
– What I desire to say is that if an honorable member rises to a question of privilege he must conclude with a definite motion.
– As a matter of order, I ask whether it is proper for an honorable member to usurp the place of the Leader of the Opposition in a way which is extremely distasteful to honorable members who hitherto have sat on this side of the House?
Several honorable members interjecting.
– There is enough excitement in the air already, and I trust that honorable members will endeavour to restrain themselves. It is difficult enough forme to keep order, without having honorablemembers endeavouring to keep order for me. I remind the honorable member for Wentworth . that when heasks a question he must not debate it, or add other questions which are in themselves disorderly. The honorable member is quite right in rising, as a point of order, to ask whether an honorable member is right in reserving to himself a seat hitherto occupied by the honorable member for Parramatta. The custom of the House has hitherto been that any seat reserved by a member when Parliament first assembles belongs to him during that Parliament.What I understand, however, is that the honorable member for Wentworth desires to know whether an honorable member who has hitherto sat on the other side of the House has any right to sit on the Opposition side of the House.
– I did not ask that question, and I desire your ruling on thepoint of order I raised.
– The honorable member did not ask that question, but I propose to give the House the information. If any honorable member -desires to sit on the Opposition side, that is his business, and not mine. So long as there is room, any honorable member has a right to sit there; indeed, it is quite a common thing, on a division to see more honorable members on the Opposition side than are there now. Under the circumstances, it is quite in order for honorable members to sit there if they so desire; but, so far as the point now raised is concerned, I think it wouldbe much better if the honorable member for Yarra had delivered his speech from the seat he occupied.
– Miserable cad !
– I call attention to that disorderly interjection.
– The honorable member for Maranoa must withdrew the words he has used.
– I shall not withdraw them.
– Then I must name the honorable member.
– All right !
– Then I must appeal to the Leader of the Government.
– Perhaps the honorable member for Maranoa will withdraw, and apologize to the Chair.
– I shall do neither.
– Then I must take a certain course. I (have no option. I do not see what I am doing in this “ galley,” but I have no option. I have asked the honorable member to withdraw and apologize, and he has refused; and I suppose I must do. what is customary, and move that the honorable member be suspended.
– May I say a word?’
– Only with the consent of the House. Is it the pleasure of the House that the honorable member have leave to makea statement ?
– All thishas arisen from the action Itook originally. I hope that the honorable member for Maranoa willunderstand that I rosewith no hostile intention; but I am sure that he, and you, Mr. Speaker, would be the first to admit that, inthe presentposition of affairs, it would be much better if we could find some method or means of segregating ourselves, leaving each party in possession of its own particular portion of the House. I am perfectly certain that this could be done without the slightest trouble if honorable members would be content to make some arrangement.
– There is a motion before the House that permits of no debate whatever. I understood the right honorable member for Parramatta to rise to make some reference to the position which . has arisen, and I cannot allow anything beyond that.
– I should like to appeal to the honorable member for Maranoa to withdraw the words he has used.
– The honorable member for Maranoa must see the awkward position in which he is placing me. I am compelled to take the course which I have adopted ; but, again, I, before putting the question, appeal to the honorable member to withdraw his disorderly words.
– I withdraw them.
– For my own protection I wish to know from you, Mr. Speaker, what precisely is the effect of your ruling in regard to this matter. Do you say, in effect, that no matter how many parties there are inthis House, each one has the power to move motions or amendments which, in effect, may be regarded as motions of want of confidence 1 There must be some limitation. .. I do not propose to regard this amendment as a motion of want of confidence.
– The honorable member at this stage can only rise to a point of order.
– Of course, sir, if you. propose to put me and the members of this Government in a position-
– Order ! The right honorable member must know that another honorable member is in possession of the floor, and that he can intervene only on a point of order. If the right honorable gentlemen rises to a point of order, I must listen to him; if he does not, he must retain his seat.
– I am asking you for information.
– The right honorable member may not do that in the midst of the speech of another honorable member. If thePrime Minister were speaking and I allowed another honorable member to rise and ask questions, our form of debate would be set aside.
-Of course, you are in the chair, sir, and can do as you like.
– I have given the honorable member a hint as to what his procedure should be, and he will not take it. He must withdraw that remark.
– Yes, I withdraw it.
– I have taken the propercourse.
– An unusual course..
-I have taken the proper course. The Leader of the Liberal party-
Liberal Members. - Leader of the Opposition.
– The Leader of the Liberal party said that he hoped that an arrangement would be made to segregate parties into their proper positions in the House. If honorable members took their proper positions, those who support the right honorable member for Parramatta would be sitting on the Government side. The Government could not live five minutes without the support of Liberal members.
– The country sent you to this House to sit on the Government side.
– The right honorable member for Parramatta knows that a few moments ago I had to name an honorable member for interrupting. I ask the Leader of the Opposition to assist me in every way possible.
– I will.
– The right honorable member for Parramatta stated that the country returned us to sit on the Government side. I say that the country, by its vote a few weeks ago, instructed a number of us to sit in opposition to the few who are on theGovernment side to-day. Those honorable members who have been in the House since the inception of this Parliament have seen some peculiar situations in connexion with parties. We recollect the Reid-McLean Government being in power and a no-confidehce motion being moved by the honorable member for South Sydney, I think. The fate of the motion depended onthe vote of one honorable member whose attitude was doubtful. In the last Parliament, parties were evenly divided.We have seen eighteen supporters of Mr. Deakin . kept in power for a year ortwo by the party to which you, sir, the present Prime Minister, and I, belong. But we have never seen in this House a party with more Ministers than followers.
– That is an innovation.
– It is, and we have a right to draw attention to it.
– I object.
– Of course the honorable member objects. As a member ofa Government of which the honorable member was a loyal supporter for some years, I was always more pleased when he was absent than when he was present. He was one of the most candid critics that any Government ever had. However, I shall not pursue that matter. I have no desire that this debate should be a lengthy one.
– Then let us divide.
– We will divide at the proper time. So far as I am concerned, we can divide before 4 o’clock.
– Let us have some of the secrets of the charnel house..
– If one might judge by the newspaper reports, there was a lively meeting of the Liberal partybefore some of its members swallowed the fact that they had to support men whom they have been continually denouncing. The main reason for moving this amendment is that a regulation which had been turned down at a duly constituted Executive Council meeting was afterwards put into force, and, in some cases, questions were asked of intending voters on polling day. It is just as well that that regulation should be placed on record. I propose to read a copy of the proposed regulation which was submitted to the Federal Executive Council on Tuesday, 24th October, 1916. Mr. Garran, the Solicitor-General, handed the regulation to the honorable W. G. Higgs while a meeting of the Executive Council was in progress, with a request from the Prime Minister that the regulation be signed and not published or notified in the
Gazette until a direction was received from the Prime Minister. The purpose was to issue the regulation on the morning of the polling as an election surprise. The regulation reads as follows: -
Regulations under War Precautions Act 1914-1916 and the Military Service Referendum Act 1916.
I, the Governor- General in and over the Commonwealth of Australia, acting with the advice of the Federal Executive Council, hereby make the following regulations under the
War Precautions Act 1914-16 and the Military Service Referendum Act 1916, to come into operation forthwith.
– Is this a regu-. lation that was passed by the Executive Council ?
– It was turned down by the Executive Council in Melbourne.
– Then I rise to a point of order. The honorable member can, of course, read any regulation that was passed, and received the assent of the Governor-General in Council ; but the honorable member stated that this regulation had been turned down at some meeting of the Executive Council. If that is true, it is a revelation of facts, which Ministers present at that council are bound by their oath of office not to reveal, and to which this House should not for one moment listen.
– To give a determination on the point raised by the honorable member is outside my province. If honorable members who were members of Cabinet desire to make statements as to what takes place in Cabinet, I cannot rule their remarks out of order.
– These are the regulations -
– I appeal to the right honorable member for Parramatta not to interrupt.
– I am sorry that I have to transgress; but this is an extraordinary proceeding.
– The regulations proceed - 2. (1) At the polling at the referendum under the Military Service Referendum Act 1916, to be held on the twenty-eighth day of October, 1916, the Presiding Officer may pat to any male person claiming to vote, who in his opinion is under thirty-five years of age, the following question, in addition to any or all of the questions prescribed by the Military Service Referendum Act 1916 : - “ Are you a person to whom the Proclamation of 29th September, 1916, calling upon single men under thirty-five to present themselves for enlistment, applies ? “
Provided thatfor the purpose of this regulation -
the tribunal shall have jurisdiction to determine, in the case of an envelope bearing the word “ Proclamation “ or the abbreviation “ Proc,” whether the elector has wilfully failed to comply with the proclamation. (Any such wilful failure shall be deemed disloyalty.)
I was not a member of the Cabinet at the time; but it is well known that these regulations were presented to a meeting of the Executive Council held in Melbourne on the Wednesday afternoon preceding the referendum poll, and subsequently to a meeting of the Executive Council held in Sydney. It is also well known that the Prime Minister, speaking at Albury orWagga, said that those who had not presented themselves for enrolment under the proclamation would get the surprise of their lives when they went to vote on the Saturday. As an old parliamentarian, I immediately guessed that it was intended to issue regulations under the War Precautions Act in order to enable electoral officers to act as military officers for the purpose of making arrests. I did not think that they would merely relate to a disallowance of votes. But in any case the issue of the regulations had the effect of intimidating many voters and preventing them from going to the poll. A Government that would take such action is unworthy of living twenty-four hours, and, if honorable members who are sitting on the Opposition side of the House propose to keep it in office, they must share the responsibility for the issue of those regulations.
– The Government referred to is out of office.
– Those who are acquainted with seaports frequently see little vessels of about 15 or 20 tons entering dock, the crew usually consisting of the captain and a boy, with the captain strutting about the deck as if he were an admiral. I have heard these captains call out, “ All hands on deck, both of us.” I can imagine the Prime Minister, as the admiral of the Ministerial craft, singing out to the honorable member for Gippsland, “ All hands on deck, both of us.”
– Would not the honorable member for Yarra like to be in the position of the Prime Minister, not liable to be ordered about?
– I can imagine the easy job that the Government Whipwill have. He will simply go out and say, “ Come in boys, both of you.”
– At any rate, the honorable member for Gippsland is loyal.
– I am loyal to the views on which I was elected to this House. Without going into the merits or demerits of anything said during the referendum campaign, no one can point to one word of abuse or scurrility in any of my speeches. I attacked no one; I spoke to the question and the question only until the Friday night, when, having heard that these regulations had been passed, and that three Ministers had resigned, I said that if these things were true, my attitude would be entirely altered, and that while I had been prepared to do everything to heal the breach between the two sections of the Labour party, the passing of these regulations absolutely changed that attitude. But the regulations were withdrawn that night, and no one knows it better than the Prime Minister. Telegraph offices right throughout Australia were kept open, some of them till 4 o’clock in the morning, for the purpose of transmitting telegrams to the 9,000 odd returning officers, assistant returning officers, and presiding officers at the polling places to which the regulations had been sent. It would be interesting if we could get from the Postmaster-General a little bill to show what it cost the Commonwealth to keep open those post-offices until the withdrawal of the regulations went forward. That is what happened on Friday night, in regard to the issue of these regulations. They were only cancelled when the ex-Treasurer and other Ministers resigned.
– That is not true.
– The Prime Minister must not use that language. He knows as well as I do that I cannot permit it. I ask him to withdraw his statement.
– I withdraw the words complained of, and substitute the expression that the statement of the honorable member for Yarra is quite inaccurate.
– I know that it was stated in the Melbourne press on Saturday, after the account of the resignations, that the regulations had never been issued, and I presume whether there was or was not an ExecutiveCouncil meeting in Sydney on the Friday, and, if so, whether regulations were , passed at it, are matters capable of proof. Honorable members are entitled to a copy of every regulation that is issued by an Executive Council. The Prime Minister will not say that no such meeting of the Executive Council as I referred to was held in Sydney on the Friday. When it was stated in the press that the Postmaster-General had been present at such a meeting that honorable gentleman denied it. He was then busy at Cessnock smashing Mr. Doyle’s manifesto. We shall hear either during the discussion of the Supply Bill or at some other time, of the communications from the PostmasterGeneral during his triumphal tour which so greatly affected the “ No “ vote in
New South Wales. He indignantly denied that he was present at an Executive Council meeting on the Friday, and, if there had been no meeting, he would have said so. The meeting was held, I believe, and the regulations were passed. I have every reason to believe, too, that the telegraph offices were kept open very late on Friday night, and until early on Saturday morning, for the purpose of withdrawing the regulations. I understand that in some of the polling booths the questions were asked on Saturday morning. The asking of these questions may have had the desired effect in some cases, that of giving the men, to use the Prime Minister’s own words, the shock of their lives when they saw something being written across the envelope containing their ballot-paper. I believe that in some cases it had the desired effect. Whenever I was asked a question on the subject, I advised the electors to obey the law, and on the Friday night I told them to turn up and vote, and to tell the truth if questions should be put to them. At that time I did not know that the regulations were being withdrawn, but before I went to sleep I knew that they had been withdrawn. I knew, too, that the telegraph offices had been kept open. I need not specify the quarter from which I got ray information; it did not come from any public servant. On the Friday I was able to let some honorable members know that the Government had backed down, and- had withdrawn the regulations. I got the surprise of my life when I found that the Prime Minister had issued regulations and had run away from them, deciding that they should not be issued.
– The questions were asked all the same.
– The questions were asked, and had the desired effect. I have no intention of delaying the business of this Parliament. I am anxious that we should get on with business, but I had a right, I think, to bring this matter before Parliament. If the members of the Opposition are in favour of the interference with the ballot-box that was intended, they” must range themselves on the other side when a vote is taken on my amendment; if they are opposed to interference of this kind, they must vote against the Government which tried to bring it about.
Motion (by Mr. Jensen) put -
That the debate be now adjourned.
The House divided -
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to; debate adjourned.
The following papers were presented: -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act -
Copy of an Order dated the 28th day of September, 1916, further varying the Award dated the 8th day of April, 1915, as varied by the Order of the Court dated the 25th day of October, 1915, which has been made by the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration on a plaint submitted by the Australian Letter Carriers’ Association.
Statement of the laws and regulations of the Commonwealth with which, in the opinion of the Deputy President of the Court, the Order isnot or may not be in accord.
Remarks of the Deputy President on making the Order varying the Award.
Audit Act -
Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1916, No. 233.
Customs Act -
Proclamation prohibiting the Exportation (except under certain conditions) of Cinematograph Films to Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony.
Regulation Amended- Statutory Rules 1916, No. 266.
Defence Act -
Proclamation calling up persons liable for service in Citizen Forces.
Regulations Amended, &c. - Statutory Rules- 1916, Nos. 235, 238, 246, 249, 251, 258, 268.
Defence Act and War Precautions Act - War Service Regulations - Statutory Rules 1916, Nos. 240, 253, 269, 285,
Electoral Act and Referendum (Constitution Alteration) Act -
Regulations Amended- Statutory Rules 1916, No. 227.
Excise Act - Regulation Amended - Statutory Rules 1916; No. 259.
Ireland. - Heading of a settlement as to the Government of. - (Paper presented to the British Parliament.)
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired under at -
Dubbo, New South Wales- For Defence purposes.
Enoggera (2), Queensland - For Defence purposes.
Fremantle, Western Australia - For Defence purposes.
Launceston, Tasmania - For Defence purposes.
Waverley, New South Wales- For Postal purposes;
Lighthouses Act - Regulation Amended - Statutory Rules 1916, No. 277.
Military Service Referendum Act - Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1916, Nos. 239, 260, 261, 262.
Naval Defence Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1916, No. 223. Papua -
Ordinances of 1916-
No. 5. - Supplementary Appropriation, 1915-16, No.3.
No. 17. - Appropriation, 1916-17.
Post and Telegraph Act -
Regulations Amended; &c. - Statutory
Rules 1916; Nos. 211,. 228; 229, 230, 231, 244; 245, 274; 275, 276.
Public Service Act -
Appointments, Promotions, &c. -
Department of the Treasury - G. A. W. Cox.
Department of Trade and Customs-
H. Green,. W. H. Lovegrove, J. McMurray.
Prime Minister’s Department - S. P. Semmens.
Postmaster-General’s Department -
J: Brown, J. T. Byrnes, S. Coulton, J, Horsley; E. A. Jones, R. S. Lamont, J. McCaul, A. N. Muir, E. A. Rinaldi, G. W. Brown.
Regulations Amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1916; Nos. 210; 241, 242, 264, 265, 287, 297.
Railway Workshops at Port Augusta or Quorn - Establishment of - Reports by the Engineer-in-Chief and the Chief Mechanical Engineer, Commonwealth Railways, with reference to the reports by Mr. A. E. Smith and Mr. A. Combes.
British Transit Mail to Russia - Correspondence with the Swedish Minister on the subject of the Detention by the Swedish Government of the - as a Reprisal for the Search of Parcels Mail by His Majesty’s Government. - (Paper presented to the British Parliament.)
Greek Government - Collective Note addressed to the - by the French, British, and Russian Ministers, and the Reply of the Greek Government. - (Paper presented to the British Parliament.)
Poland and Serbia - Importation of foodstuffs into - Further correspondence with the United States Embassy regarding proposals for the.
Prisoners of War - Correspondence with His Majesty’s Minister at Berne respecting the Question of Reprisals against. - (Paper presented to the British Parliament.)
War Precautions Act - Regulations Amended, &c- Statutory Rules 1916, Nos. 232, 234, 236, 237, 247, 248, 256, 257, 280, 281, 282, 286, 290.
asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
The number of officers and men in the Australian Imperial Force engaged in -
The number of officers and men now engaged in any branch of military duty in Australia who have offered for active service with the Australian Imperial Force, and -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
The number of officers and men engaged in the firing line cannot be supplied, but the personnel embarked for active serviceup to 31st August, 1916, was:-
Two thousand five hundred and eightyeight military officers and other ranks employed in the Defence Department have volunteered for active service, but have been debarred from enlisting by superior authority. This number includes many officers and Army Service Corps and Army Medical Corps details temporarily restrained from joining the Aus tralian Imperial Force owing to the difficulty experienced in obtaining suitable personnel to replace them.
asked the Minister for the Navy, uponnotice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
Re-employment of Men from Military Camps - Issue of Life Passes on Railways - Stoppage of Trains : Postal Deliveries - Assistance to Returned Soldiers and Dependants of Men at the Front - Sentences under British Army Act - Letter Delivery at the Front - Censoring of Speech of Mrs. Lavender - Treatment of Private Soldiers in Egypt - Red Plague - Administration of Funds Collected for Soldiers - Delayed Payment of Allowances to Soldiers’ Dependants - Purchase by Imperial Government of Australian Wool Clip - Arbitration Awards - Advances to Wheat Farmers - Pairs - Bureau of Science.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– - I wish to direct the attention of the
Prime Minister to a statement that has reached me that employers of labour are persistently refusing to reinstate the men who have been returned from the military camps after being called up under the proclamation. The matter requires immediate attention, because, if the employers are going to take up the attitude that men returned from camps after the withdrawal of the proclamation, or men who have served at the front, are to be penalized in “regard to their employment when they return to civil life, recruiting will be seriously handicapped. I am certain that not a member of this House wants to do anything that will in the slightest degree hinder recruiting, and that the House is unanimously of opinion that voluntary recruiting should be encouraged by every possible means, but nothing ‘could have .a more detrimental effect on recruiting than for the impression to get into the minds of the people that the civil employment of those who enlist is not to be protected. Is the Minister aware that employers are indulging in this practice? If so, can he do anything to stop it?
– Is it true?
– I am asking the Minister if it is. Will the Minister take such action as will give men in camp or on service some guarantee in regard to their employment when they return to civil life?
.- It was reported in the press just prior to the recent resignation of certain Ministers, that a large number of life passes on the Commonwealth railways had been granted to ex-Ministers and to certain officers.- Will the responsible Minister state whether such passes have been issued, and, if so, whether the Government intend, or have the power, to cancel them ? Such an expenditure is quite unjustifiable at a time like this, when the whole country is clamouring for economies. In consequence of the coal strike, a large number of railway trains are being discontinued.
– I must ask the honorable member not to discuss the coal strike.
– My point is that a large number of people are being inconvenienced in regard to postal deliveries by the stoppage of trains. On a previous occasion, when a similar stoppage occurred, arrangements were made whereby other means of transit were adopted for postal matter. Will the PostmasterGeneral state whether similar arrangements are being made to meet the present emergency? The matter vitally affects the public interests, and I am therefore satisfied that the Minister will give it his earnest consideration. I urge him to lose no time, because the matter is of urgent importance.
– Prior to the recent adjournment, I tried to get the Government to bring about a better scheme than exists at present for assisting returned soldiers and their families, and the wives and families of men” at the front. We shall be expected to go about recruiting shortly.
– The honorable member must not deal with that question.
– I expected that you would not allow me to say that, but, if we ask men to go to the front, and all or most of us have done it, the least we can do is to see that their families are looked after while they are away. We promised all sorts of good things to the men when they returned ; but to-day, in Australia, there are women and children not getting sufficient to eat or wear, and without proper housing, for want of money. There are all sorts of funds to which the public have contributed largely, but one would think that those administering them had hung up the sign, “ No business done here,” like some of the banks that closed their doors. It is impossible to get assistance from the different funds when it is required. The Patriotic Fund, under the charge of the Lord Mayor of Melbourne, may have done a great deal of good, but those responsible for it are tying up their money, and not spending it in the way that is desirable. The Government have no control over it, but they should have. The State War Council in Melbourne must be given every credit for endeavouring to carry out the work they were ‘ brought into existence to do, and have done much good, but have not sufficient money to meet the demands made upon them. I know one man who. went to the front. We have to forgive him for any indiscretions of the past, but he left’ a wife and two children, leaving the wife the smallest amount he could, that is, 21s. -a week. She. also gets 10s. separation allowance, and 5s. for her two children. She has to keep herself and the children, pay rent, and try to keep a home over their heads, on 36s. a week. It is impossible for her to do it; and, in addition, her two . children, have been sick. She applied to the State War Council, who told her they could not deal with her case. The Patriotic Fund Committee will not deal with it, nor will the Defence Department. There are hundreds of such cases. Another man cleared out and went to the front, leaving a wife and two children. He left her in debt. She tried to supplement the small amount she was receiving, but could not do it, and the State War Council have assisted her. She was going blind, and could not afford to buy a pair of spectacles. The War Council assisted her for that purpose to the extent of £3, .but now they say they cannot do anything further. The people of Australia think the wives and families of the men at. the front are being looked after, but they are not. We talk about repatriation, but the way many of the returned men have been treated when they have tried to get money is a disgrace, although the War Council have done marvels with the money at their command. It will be a disgrace to Australia if the Government do not take the matter in hand. It is useless to say that the Government do not control the funds. If it cannot be got in any other way, the money must come out of the general exchequer. Another man, who was a loving husband and father when he went to the front, returned suffering from shell shock. His whole nature was changed, and he has cleared out from his wife and family, but the authorities are going to do nothing for them.’ If that man had not gone to defend his country,, he would still have been a good husband, and it is the country’s duty to help look after those he has deserted. We are endeavouring to get this done, but the negotiations are very protracted. Men are in prison under the British Army Act for crimes which Australians do not call crimes at all. They have been sentenced in Egypt under that Act by officers who do not understand it. Obedience is the first duty of a soldier, and if an officer, ordered men to attack the wall of the chamber and , eat it up, no .matter whether they could do it or not, it would be a crime under that Act on .their part if they did not obey. There are three young; men in Australia to-day who were sentenced to three years’ imprisonment because they refused to go to a place wherethere was no water to drink. They had had to go without water all day, and when told to go to this place, they would not go unless they had water, and they could ‘ not take water with them. TheMilitary Department will not bring up the papers in this case. They say they havecabled for them, but cannot get them. The men have been made criminals of, and -are .still in gaol. Let me tell the House what men are gaoled in Egypt for under the British Army Act. Orders were issued one afternoon that the men were to parade in “ shorts “ on the following day, although a lot of them had no “shorts.” Soldiers have a way of making “ shorts “ by cutting- down their ordinary trousers, but that is regarded as mutilating the King’s uniform, and is punishable as an offence. When this order was issued, the men rushed to the quartermaster to obtain a supply, but there was not sufficient for more than two-thirds of their number, with the result that those who failed to appear in “ shorts “ next day, because they could not obtain them, we’re sentenced to fourteen days in barracks, and to .pay a fine equal to fourteen days’ pay. Australians do not understand that sort of damned nonsense !
– Order ! Such language is not permissible in the House, and I ask the honorable member to apologize for using it.
– I apologize. I should not have used such an expression, but treatment of the kind I have described would provoke strong language on the part of any man. I am surprised that some Australians have not been shot for refusing to be handled by men who would treat them in this way. I do not want to vent any spite on the Government ; I know that there are difficulties surrounding this question, but it is their duty to look into it. They should take the matter firmly in hand, see that the men at the front are treated fairly, that their wives are properly treated, and that the men on returning to Australia also receive fair treatment. Unless the Government do that, it is utterly ridiculous to enter upon a recruiting campaign.
.- 1 have a complaint to bring under the notice of the Assistant Minister. Over a hundred wounded soldiers were perfectly unanimous in their statement to me that the delivery of letters at the front has been worse since we appointed a Postal Corps than it was before. They assured me that these postal officials worked fewer hours than they did in time of peace as members of the Postal Department in Australia. They begin work at 9 o’clock, close their office at midday for a couple of hours, and close it again at 5 p.m. The result is that the boys in the trenches who cannot attend at the base post-offices within those hours cannot obtain their letters as promptly as they should do. If that is the position, then these postal officials should be brought back, publicly disgraced, and cashiered. If our boys are required to stop in the trenches night and day, there is no reason why the field post-offices should not also be open night and day. Relieving officers could, if necessary be appointed, but even if the staff -had to remain on duty all the time, they would not be doing more than our boys are doing in the trenches. This is a matter of great importance to our troops. If there is one thing that they desire more than another, it is to get letters from home. We have ample information regarding the many parcels addresesd to them which are never delivered. I know of cases where only two out of fifty or sixty parcels sent to our soldiers have been received. There is no possible excuse for the Postal Corps working fewer hours in the field offices than they were working here in Australia.
– Who is in charge of them ?
– I could not find out. The information I have given the House came to me from over a hundred wounded men who had just returned from France.
– The honorable member realizes that those officers are under the Imperial defence authorties?
– I tested the British system. I sent both a parcel and a letter to the front, and got my reply in Britain within three or four days. There is no complaint regarding the British side of the service, but there is no end to the complaints so far as our Australian boys are concerned. It is impossible to believe that over 100 wounded Australians, who had just returned from the front, would unanimously make such a charge as this if it were not true. As to the Post master-General’s interjection, I can only saythat my experience at the, front was that British officers, like their men, whether they be Australians or others, have to work a good deal more than five hours a day in the trenches.
.- I regret the answer given this afternoon by the Assistant Minister, in the absence of the honorable member for Adelaide, to a question standing in his name. A speech delivered in Adelaide by Mrs. Lavender,one of the most brilliant scholars who has passed through our University, and who holds the diploma of master of arts, was censored by Major Smeaton, who, at the same time, allowed words that were not fit for human lips to be published concerning the anticonscriptionists. Major Smeaton forgot the duties of his position. He should have tried to hold the scales fairly as between the two parties. We were promised by the Leader of the Government that that would be done, but Mrs. Lavender’s experience is an illustration of what actually happened. Her speech, which was, perhaps, one of the best ever delivered in Adelaide, wasabsolutely wiped out by the censor. As an Australian, I also deny the right of any man to say that an Australian soldier, with money in his pocket, shall not be allowed to enter the. best hotels. There are in Cairo two preeminently fine hotels, but Australian soldiers are not allowed to enter them. They have to go to vile drinking shops, because some of the officers - the gilt-spurred roosters, did not desire them to have a drink at the leading hotels, although they were willing to pay for it. If this or any other Administration says that an Australian, wearing the King’s colours, shall not be allowed to enter any firstclass hotel, then it should provide that neither officers nor men shall be allowed to enter any hotel. Let us have the same law applied to both officers and men. Then, again, why in the name of common sense were Australian privates refused permission to travel first class on the Egyptian railways? The climate there is very oppressive, the temperature running up to 114 degrees in the shade, and one can well understand what it would mean to travel under such conditions in carriages occupied by natives. I resent the refusal to allow our men to travel first class. I resent, also, the fact that they have been robbed. I accuse people who are collecting money here of having robbed our soldiers at the front, and I accuse officers there of allowing gifts sent from Australia to be sold in the shops. If honorable members think I am. speaking without my book, let me tell them that I am credibly informed that Mr. J. V. Tillett, the Crown Solicitor of New South Wales, has stated that, in his opinion, a strong prima facie case could be established against both Shiels and Anning - the principals in what is known in Sydney as the Shiels-Anning scandal - who have been accused of robbing the troops of £260. This case is typical of the many frauds that have been perpetrated on charitable organizations that have arisen during the present war. If the Crown Solicitor of New South Wales has given such an opinion, then it is the duty of the Government to take action, and to prevent the robbery of those who are kind enough to give to our soldiers, who are ‘ defrauded of their rights. Then again, the Defence Department does not care whether the men who enlist contract the disease known ns the red plague. One can see every day of the week men in uniform in the Little Lonsdale Division of Melbourne. Why does not the Department take as much care of them as the British naval authorities and the German naval and military authorities take of their men? Even the officers and men on the little Dutch steamers which trade round our coast are protected against such dangers. But no! any such action might hurt the religious sentiments of poor Senator Pearce. He would not like to interfere. It is time that strong language was used concerning this matter. These unfortunate young men, who contract, sometimes, a trifling disease which ought to be curable in six or seven weeks, are kept at Langwarrin for six or seven months, regardless of the feelings of their relatives. It is ‘all very well for the Minister to hold up his hands with smug complacency, and to say, “ These men have contracted a terrible disease.” If the Department did its duty, they would not contract the disease. I say this as the result of knowledge gained by me whilst I had sole control for a good many months of a Lock Hospital in London. I only wish that the widows of the unfortunate men who die at the front were treated as well as the widows of those who belong to the Government
House push. When General Bridges died, was there any waiting on the part of Lady Bridges for a grant from the Government? No. Senator Pearce said, in effect, to her, .” Take four or five thousand pounds.” But the little children and the legal wife of a man who saw fit to desert them have had to wait weeks and weeks for help. This man tried to evade his liabilities by crossing over to another S’tate when he was told that he must support his wife and children, and he enlisted under an assumed name. One would think that the Department, on learning of these facts, would have helped the legal wife and her children. But not a bit of it. The Assistant Minister, to his credit be it said, did what he could for me, but week after week went by before I was able to get any help for the woman and her children. This woman was trying to earn a living for herself and family as a waitress, but we know how impossible it would be for her to support them on the miserable wages -she would earn. Her husband entered into a conspiracy with his niece in Sydney to receive his pay, but that niece has not been compelled to return’ to the wife the money so received. The taxpayers who keep the Defence Department going are entitled to expect fair play at its hands. The Assistant Minister who has just taken office will, perhaps, be like the proverbial new broom, which always sweeps clean. I thank him for the courtesy he has shown me in dealing with cases I have brought under bis notice. I hope that he will deal out to the widow of the ranker the same courtesy and attention, and the same ready help, that is given to the widow of a general.” It is clear that the wife of a general drawing £30 a week may save far more than the wife of a man drawing 6s., 7s., or 8s. per day, and there is, therefore, the greater need for consideration for the’ relatives of the more poorly paid members of the Forces. I ask the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of Defence to take into consideration the position of the men in the Langwarrin Camp. The primary cause of the unfortunate position in which they find themselves is really the neglect of the Defence Department to issue proper instructions to the men going to the front. They were allowed to go away in their ignorance. The Germans do not do that kind of thing, nor do the authorities of the British Navy. I asked a question on the subject, and ‘was told by the supercilious individual who controls the Defence De- ‘partment that certain instructions were issued. That was not sufficient, as the men should have been given to thoroughly understand how it would be possible for them to avoid danger. That is what could have been done, and what ought to have been done. I have made my protest in connexion with the matter, and I may, perhaps, have introduced into it a little of the heat with which I should like to have discussed another matter I am not permitted at this stage to deal with. I must, however, conclude by saying that never in my experience of over a quarter of a century have I found the ballot-box so polluted as it was during the last- few weeks.
– Order !
’.- 1 wish to ask the Prime Minister whether negotiations have been completed with the Imperial authorities for the purchase of the Australian wool clip, and whether he is in a position to advise us as to the price to be paid. I should like to know, also, if arrangements have been ma’de to retain the necessary raw material required to enable Australian industries to carry on during the year. I do not wish to make general remarks on the matter, and if the right honorable- gentleman will answer the questions I have put it will satisfy us for the time. being.
Mr. SHARPE (Oxley [4.38].- I desire to direct the attention of the PostmasterGeneral to the delay which has taken place in the tabling in this House of a variation of an award on the 29th September last in the case of the Tele-* graph and Telephone Employees Union. The Postal and Electricians Union were given a variation of an award on the same date, an additional award was made in the case of the Telegraph and Telephone Employees Union on the 22nd of this month, and a further additional award on the 24th of this month. None of the papers In these cases has yet been laid on the table of the House; and as they must lie on the table in both Houses of this Parliament for thirty days before they are given effect, the men concerned in the awards have, by reason of the delay’ in the .tabling of the papers, been deprived of wages, which the PostmasterGeneral will agree that they are justly entitled to. When a union employed in connexion with a private industry is given an award it comes into force almost immediately, but the members of the unions to which I have referred, working under the Government, are deprived of what they are entitled to under the awards which have been made because the papers must lie on the table in both Houses for thirty days before the awards become effective. Some one. is responsible for delay in the matter, and I should like the Postmaster-General to say that these papers will be tabled immediately in order that the men concerned may get the benefit of the awards.
.- I wish to bring under the notice of the Minister having charge of the wheat pool statements appearing in a paragraph which I noticed about a week ago in the Sydney Daily Telegraph and Sydney Morning Herald to the effect that the Government purpose advancing the wheat farmers something like 2s. 6d. per bushel on their ensuing crop. It is not so much the amount of the advance that is complained of as it is the manner in which it is proposed to pay it. Instead of making the advance in one sum, as it should be made, it is understood that the Government propose to advance, first of all, ls. 6d. per bushel, and the balance in a later instalment. As the representative of a farming district, and at the special request of some of the farmers in my electorate, I wish to point out that if we assume that the average crop this year will be 12 bushels per acre, a farmer will receive 18s. per acre in the shape of the proposed advance, whilst it will have cost him 30s. per acre to put in the crop and garner it. How can he be expected to meet his expenses in these circumstances?’ I wish to plead, also, on behalf of the share-farmers, who ‘ are at the expense of the labour in putting the crop in and taking it off. For this labour they receive something like 9d. per bushel, and on the assumption of a crop of 12 bushels’ to the acre they will receive only 9s. per. acre, and with such an advance there will be .only bankruptcy facing them. The wheat industry is. one of the most important industries in Australia, and I appeal to the Minister in charge of the wheat pool to give* this matter his very serious and sympathetic consideration. The farmers would like to know, by an official statement in this
House, what the attitude of the Government is to be, and what they really propose to do in connexion with the advance 1 Hundreds and thousands of farmers in Australia are looking forward with great interest to any pronouncement of the intentions of the Government in this matter.
.- I wish to put a question to the Prime Minister in connexion with the matter of pairs. I have been informed by the Government Whip that he does not intend to give any pairs. . The Prime Minister has appealed to honorable members to go round their districts and assist the different district Committees in organization for securing recruits under the new scheme announced this afternoon. A man may leave our party to take up arms on behalf of the Empire; the Government are asking him and others to doso. and yet they refuse to give us a pair for such a man. I know . that honorable members opposite have to keep a House, and that the duty does not now fall upon us. We are not Government hacks any longer, thank God, and I wish to inform the Government that if there is to be a fight in connexion with the matter of the granting of pairs we are quite willing to take it on. I do not wish the Ministry to be put in the position of asking honorable members to undertake the duty of seeking recruits, and then refusing pairs to those honorable members.
Mr.FENTON (Maribyrnong)[4.45]. - At the instance of the Prime Minister a Bureau of Science was created almost twelve months ago, and it was anticipated that that Bureau would not only revive Australian industries, but give rise to new industries. Up to the present, however, beyond a few meagre reports, which university professors are very good at giving to the press, nothing has been accomplished. The Vice-President of the Executive Council, under whose control, I understand, this matter comes, should, if possible, stir this body into something like decent activity; so that something may be done for our industries. Further, I should like to see the VicePresident of the Executive Council get into communication with the Minister for Defence,who, during the Prime Minister’sabsence, was head: of the Government, and, in response to a large deputation, intimated that’ he considered that this”
Bureau was not sufficient for the end in view - that it was a fair adjunct as an adviser in industrial matters, but that something more practical was required. The honorable gentleman also promised the deputation that at the earliest possible moment he would make some move with a view to our industries being brought more abreast with those in other parts of the world. I hope the Government will not take refuge behind the fact that we are now at war. In those countries which are almost within hearing of the cannons, industries are being organized as never before, and if this is necessary there in these old-established communities, it is much more necessary here in this new country. It is absolutely necessary that somethingshould be done with a view to wha we shall have to face after the war, or otherwise we shall not only be depleted of our manhood, but those who are left here will have to face a very black future. There ought to be no postponement of the consideration of this question; but, seeing that we have to provide for returned soldiers and others, some steps in the direction I have indicated ought to be taken.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.50 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 29 November 1916, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1916/19161129_reps_6_80/>.