6th Parliament · 1st Session
The Clerk having informed the House of the unavoidable absence of Mr. Speaker, Mr. Deputy Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– The Treasurer has given notice of his intention to move- No tice of Motion No. 13 - for the disallowance of the regulation which provides for preference to unionists in appointments to the Public Service. I ask the right honorable gentleman when he intends to move that motion.
– My personal opinion on the subject with which the motion deals is the same now as it was when I had the noticeplaced on the businesspaper.
The following papers were presented : -
Wool Scheme - Notes outlining the broad principle of the.
Ordered to be printed in substitution for the Paper ordered by the House to be printed on 20th December last.
Defence Act - Regulation Amended - StatutoryRules 1917, No. 29.
Public Service Act - Postmaster-General’s Department- Promotions of -
J: E. McDonald.
War Precautions Act- Regulations Amended -Statutory Rules 1917, Nos. 32, 33, 34.
– Can the Minister for Works and Railways inform the House whether the Government intend to accept the offer of Victoria to take over the shipyards and dockyards at Williamstown ?
– The matter has been reopened during the current week, and will be considered by the Government at an early date.
– I wish to put to the Minister for Home and Territories a question that I asked his predecessor. Will the honorable gentleman hold over the appointment of an Administrator for the Northern Territory until Parliament has had an opportunity to discuss, upon the Estimates, the expenditure in the Northern Territory ?
– I did not know that the question had been put to my predecessor. Dr. Gilruth has been in Melbourne, speaking from memory, since the beginning, of September, and we must decide very soon whether to re-appoint him, or to do something else in connexion with the government of the Territory. I do not know any reason for postponing the matter indefinitely.
– We need a practical man.
-The qualifications of Dr. Gilruth, and the possibility of obtaining a better man, are other questions. I think it best not to hold over the matter indefinitely, which would be the effect of postponing action until the opinion of Parliament had been taken.
– I ask you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, what authority has the Government for, intitling itself, as it does on the second page of the Hansard wrapper, “ The Commonwealth War Ministry “ ?
– I understand that that is the official title of the Administration.
– Is it the intention of the Prime Minister to attend the Imperial Conference if the motion for the extension of the life of this Parliament be not carried ?
– If the honorable member will put the question to me after the motion has been dealt with in both Houses, I shall be prepared to give him an answer.
– Will the Government take into consideration the advisability of recouping those fruit-growers of the Commonwealth who had booked space on steamers for the English market? Will the Government take action on behalf of the orchardists similar to that taken in the interests of the wheatgrowers, thus insuring fair treatment to fruit-growers and to the consumers of fruit?
– The question is one of which notice should have been given. The Government is now considering the position of those affected by the prohibi- tion of the importation of certain products ‘into Great Britain.
– Is it a fact that certain Maltese have been imprisoned on a hulk in Sydney Harbor, and, if bo, what is it proposed to do with them?
– I think’ that the matter is under the control of the Prime Minister’s Department. I have not heard that Maltese are imprisoned on a hulk in Sydney Harbor; I understand that Maltese who have come from the Pacific are being temporarily housed in Sydney until something can be done with regard to them.
Final Leave: Number Sent Abroad
– On the 22nd February the honorable member for Capricornia asked whether certain soldiers had been refused such final leave as would enable them to visit their homes before departing for the front, and whether the Minister for Defence would see that they and others are allowed such final leave. I have been supplied with the following replies to his questions : - 1 and 2. The Commandant, 1st Military Dis trict (Queensland), reports that these soldiers were granted four days final leave from 24th November, 1916, to 28th November, 1916, for which they received pay. They arrived at Swan Island on 2nd December, 1916.
It is stated that these men are now claiming ten days final leave, but this period is only granted to men who live in remote parts of Queensland in order that they may have at least two days at their homes.
It will be observed, however, in the list of addresses given by the honorable member, that, with two exceptions, these men were all resident in Brisbane. Four days leave was sum- . cient to enable the men living in Rockhampton and Raglan to spend two days at borne.
The honorable member for Perth asked whether, in view of the -conflicting statements regarding the number of men that Australia has sent to the war, the Minister for Defenee would furnish the exact figures? I am informed that the total number of troops despatched from Australia for active service abroad up to 31st January, 1917, was 285,809.
– In view of the increasing price of steel, and the large quantity of that material that will be needed for constructional work immediately after the war, will the Government take steps at once to establish steel works in Australia, so that we may be able to use our own material?
– The honorable member suggests the establishment of steel works by the Commonwealth Government. I cannot promise that. We have what are, of their kind, the most up-to-date steel works in the world. But, as the honorable member knows perfectly well, serious complaint has been made of the inability of those steel works to maintain their maximum output. The honorable member knows, also, that the cause df -the output not being maintained is that the company has been unable to obtain sufficient coal, and it seems idle to ask th© Government whether it ia prepared to duplicate existing works which find it impossible to get sufficient coal with which to carry on.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to the report in the press of- a Court caBe, headed “ An Application for Ejectment; Soldier’s Wife in an “Unfortunate Position “ ?
– I have not seen the report, and I find it impossible to grip the whole details of the case by a hurried glance at a newspaper extract. I may, however, state my attitude towards applications for ejectment generally in regard to soldiers’ dependants. These applications can only arise because of one of two reasons: either that the rent has not been paid, or that the tenant is an undesirable person. In the first case, it appears to me that unless the -inability to pay rent arises from the failure on the part of the person concerned to make application for the financial aid which is her due, there ought to be no difficulty in obtaining sufficient money to meet the liability. If any difficulty of the kind has been caused by the failure of any of the authorities to deal promptly with such applications, those authorities, whoever they are, are very grossly to blame.
– In this case, the woman is in hospital with all her children.
– I see by the report that that is so. The point is that the application for ejectment is made, not because the woman is in hospital, but because she owes £5 for rent. Any dependant of any soldier ought to have no difficulty in obtaining money that is properly her due. If this trouble is the fault of the Defence authorities, upon a review of the matter, which I shall have made, I shall see that the difficulty is rectified.
– In cases like this, in which rents .are unjustifiably raised, will the Prime Minister extend the protection of the Moratorium Act to these unfortunate people during war timet
– To what extent it ispossible to apply the Moratorium Act to rents I am unable to say, but on the .general principle I cannot help expressing my astonishment and regret that men are found in this community who are capable of raising the rents of soldiers’ dependants. I think such actions are the most grave reflection upon patriotism that can be imagined. I am afraid that the moratorium cannot be practically applied, but a remedy is to be found in the cultivation of a wholesome spirit in the community which will condemn such actions.
– According to a notice published in the Government Gazette recently, it would appear that the Government intend to take away all Customs facilities from some of the ports on the north-west coast of Tasmania, including the important port of Devonport. I ask the Minister for Customs if it is the intention of the Government to curtail thefacilities which exist at that port at present?
– My predecessor investi- fated fully the dosing of certain Customs louses, in Tasmania and elsewhere throughout Australia. This action has been decided upon because the ships bringing goods which ultimately reach the outports make port in either Sydney, Melbourne, or Adelaide, where the goods are examined. Therefore, the whole investigation by the Customs Department takes place when the goods are landed at the first port, and when they are transhipped to a second, port there is really no necessity for their further examination. ‘ For that reason the smaller Customs Houses, which have been in existence in the past,- are no longer necessary. Be - . cause of representations which’ have been made to rae, I went thoroughly into this matter, and I am of opinion that the action taken by my predecessor was fully justified.
– Is the Prime Minister, aware that returned soldiers getting employment in the Commonwealth service are engaged for only six months ? Will he amend the regulation so as to make the employment of returned soldiers continuous ?
– That is the policy of the Governments
– A statement has . appeared in the Argus more than once that last year a contract for the supply of £3,000,000 worthof boots was offered to Australian manufacturers, and was afterwards withdrawn owing to the lack of a guarantee that continuity of supply would not be interfered with by industrial disputes. I am in possession of information that the only contract ever offered was for £500,000 worth of boots, and it was withdrawn, not on account of industrial trouble, but on account of the lack of material with which to make the boots. I ask the Prime Minister Bo investigate the statement- made by the Argus, and let the people know whether it is correct or not.
– I know nothing about the matter,but I will make inquiries.
– When, does the Prime Minister intend to introduce a Bill’ to provide for the introduction of the Initiative and Referendum, in accordance with the pledges given by Mr. Fisher when he was Prime Minister ? >
– When I think of those fragrant epithets showered on me for having introduced the last Referendum, the honorable - member can well imagine’ the . satisfaction and pleasure with which I look forward to introducing further referenda.
Assault by Returned Soldier: Deferred Pay: Trial of Offenders Abroad : Percentage of Youths and Married Men.
– I ask the Assistant -Minister for Defence what he proposes to do with reference to the case of the returned soldier named Royal who was charged with having assaulted a civilian at Queanbeyan, and sentenced to three months’ imprisonment without the option of a fine? Is the Assistant Minister aware that this cruel sentence is having the effect of paralyzing recruiting in. country districts; and does he indorse the sentence imposed?
– If the honorable) member will supply me with, the particulars, I shall bring the matter under the notice of the Minister for Defence, and reply at a later stage.
– As a great deal of dissatisfaction exists amongst returned soldiers, owing to the delay on the part of the Pay Office in settling their deferred pay, will the Minister issue instructions that no troops must leave Egypt or England without their pay-books, and that non-effective statements must be. returned not later than two months after the troops have left for Australia.
– I shall bring under the notice of the Minister for Defence the suggestion made by the honorable member.
– Will the Assistant Minister for Defence make inquiries as to whether it is a fact that members of the A.I.F.- are tried before court martials, and other Courts, under British Army Acts, and not under the Australian Defence Act?
– There is a question on the notice-paper dealing with that matter.
– Will the Assistant Minister for Defence have a return prepared showing the percentage of youths under twenty-one years of age, and married men, who have enlisted in the Expeditionary Forces during- the last six months?
– I shall inform the honorable member to-morrow whether it is possible to have the return furnished.
– Does the Prime Minister know that there appears in the Australian Motorist a picture of an American motor car called “ The Roamer,” which is said to have been purchased by the Right Hon. William Hughes? I ask the Prime Minister whether- there were no Australian or English cars worth purchasing, and whether he thinks this purchase is in accordance with a Protective policy?
– I have much pleasure in announcing to the honorable member that I have never bought a car in my life
– I ask whether the car was bought for the Prime Minister’s Department, and- whether all the tyre’s used on Government motor cars are imported, and not made in Australia?
– If the honorable member will give notice of his question, I shall have inquiries made into the matter.
– Has the Prime Minister received any reply from the Wool Committee in regard to having the appraisement of wool carried out at places other than the Capital cities?
– I understand that the position arrived at reluctantly by the Wool Committee is that the policy adopted is the only possible one in the circumstances. I am asking them to supply me with a statement of the reasons which have actuated them in arriving at that decision, and I shall take an early opportunity of laying it before the House.
– Last week the honorable member for Newcastle asked whether, in the event of the Government organizing another contingent of railway men for abroad, they would consider the advisability of extending the age-limit a little, so as to give a number of sound men a chance of going. The Department’s reply to the question is -
As plenty of suitable applicants below 50 years of age are available it is not considered necessary or advisable to raise the age.
– In reference to the matter of the prosecutions of certain gentlemen in South Australia, to which I drew attention when speaking on the motion for the adjournment last Friday, did the Assistant Minister take any action, seeing that the cases have been decided by the Court in the meantime?
– Immediately after the rising of the House on Friday, I brought the matter under the notice of the Department of the Attorney-General, and was informed that there was no justification for not allowing the cases to proceed.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Home and Territories been drawn to a series of articles dealing with the Northern Territory that have appeared in the Sunday Times, under the name of Mr. Randolph Bedford? If so, what action does the Minister propose to take in reference to the allegations contained in those articles?
– Mr. Bedford himself has drawn my attention to the articles, but I have not read them. The limits of time will not permit me to read everything. I can only say that every suggestion made in connexion with the Northern Territory will receive consideration upon its merits.
Official War Correspondent: Enlistment of Acting Staff SergeantMajors : Trial of Offenders Abroad.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Mr.FINLAYSON asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
PRICE Or FLOUR.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
In view of the highly satisfactory way Brigadier-General Williams is considered to have carried out his duties to the Department, to the men, and to the outside public, will the Minister state why he has been withdrawn from his position?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
Brigadier-General R. E. Williams, C.M.G., was called up “ for duty as Acting Commandant, 3rd Military District, in consequence of the absence of many senior officers of the
Permanent Forces on active service. Consequent on the return to Australia of several of these senior officers, the necessity for the retention of Brigadier-General Williams no longerexisted, and he was demobilized accordingly.
Brigadier-General Williams is still availablefor military duty, if required.
asked the Prime Minister,. upon notice -
Whether he can promise the farmers any relief from the excessive prices charged for maize sacks?
– The matter is underconsideration.
asked the Minister forTrade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to thehonorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Debate resumed from 23rd February - (vide page 10655), on motion by Mr. Hughes -
Whereas, by reason of the existence of a state of war, and by reason of the immediate - meeting of an Imperial Conference for the discussion of questions of paramount importance to the Commonwealth and to the British Empire, it is imperatively necessary that the forthcoming elections for both Houses of the Parliament of the Commonwealth should be postponed : And whereas, in the existing circumstances, this can only be effected by an Act of ‘ the Parliament of the United Kingdom : Now therefore this House resolves : That the Imperial Government be requested to provide by legislation for. the extension of the duration of the present House of Representatives until the expiration of six months after the final declaration of peace, or until the 8th day of “ October, 1918, whichever is the shorter period, and for such provision in relation to the terms - of senators and the holding of Senate elections as will enable the next elections for the Senate to be held at the same time as the next general election for the House of Representatives, and consequential adjustments to be made regarding subsequent elections.
.- I regret that the Prime Minister finds it necessary to leave the chamber, because he has opened up a very wide field for discussion in moving this motion and I should like his presence. I have something to say to him, and am sure that if I do not avail myself of the present opportunity no other will present itself, since it will not be long before he will go to the Old Country. I have the strongest possible objection to this motion, for the reason, amongst others, that it has been submitted by the Prime Minister. In my opinion he has no right to move it. He has purloined the Prime Ministership from the Labour party. In 1914 the Liberals were soundly defeated at the polls, and the Labour party were returned to power. Mr. Fisher was appointed leader of that party, and as such became Prime Minister. When he was appointed to the High Commissionership the honorable member for West Sydney was unanimously elected Leader of the Labour party, and, by virtue of his office, became Prime Minister.
On his return from England his conduct as Leader of the Labour party and as Prime Minister became so obnoxious, so distasteful, to the members of our party that at the first duly-constituted Caucus meeting of the Labour party after the military service referendum of 28th October, 1916, a motion was moved to the effect, “ That in the opinion of this meeting Mr. Hughes has lost the confidence of the party, and should be deposed from the leadership.”
The right honorable gentleman was in the chair when that motion was discussed. He heard the arguments, and making a mental calculation, no doubt, as to the numbers for and against it, decided that he would not wait until the vote was taken. Calling upon certain members to follow him he left the room. And so he left the party and purloined the Prime Ministership. In leaving the Ministerial party’s room he violated every principle and tradition of the Labour movement. “To use the language so frequently applied by him to deserters from the Labour -party, he became a rat and a blackleg.
– Why did the honorable member remain ;so long in his Ministry ?
– As I have repeatedly explained, I remained in his Ministry up to the 27th October, 1916, in order to oppose conscription and to try to keep the Labour party together. The Fusion, which is the. result of the right honorable member’s desertion of the Labour party, is politically dishonest and a fraud.
– I ask the honorable member not to follow up his present line of argument. He will have an opportunity to do so on a subsequent motion. He is distinctly out of order in making such’ remarks on the question now before the Chair.
– The Prime Minister opened up a very wide field for discussion by the way in which he submitted this motion. He referred to the existence of a state of war and the position arising out of it. He mentioned that the delegates to the Imperial Conference were waiting to be sent away.
– He made an attack on this party.
– He did. He said it was our own fault that we were not to be represented at the Conference.
– Honorable members opposite did not attack him, I suppose.
– I shall have to reply to the honorable member for Hindmarsh if he continues to interject. I have no desire to do so, because I have some sympathy for the honorable member, who was thrown overboard by the Prime Minister, whom he followed so faithfully*- He was probably promised a portfolio.
– He is, at all events, consistent.
– I would ask Father Christmas to keep quiet. He is out of date, and not acquainted with modern politics.
– What about being thrown overboard by a Yankee bounder ?
– Is the honorable mem.ber for Hindmarsh in order in referring to the honorable member for Darwin as a Yankee bounder?
– When there are so many interjections it is difficult for me to hear what is being said. If the honorable member for Darwin considers the remark offensive I shall ask the honorable member for Hindmarsh to withdraw it. Does the honorable member so regard it ?
– No, no; nothing that the honorable member says injures me!
– The public recognise that the combination between the deserters of the Labour party and the Ministry is a dishonest one; and when they have an opportunity, the people will express their opinion of their policy. I warn honorable members that if they vote for this motion, they must realize that October, 1918, will not fix the period, because it will be open to extend the Parliament from time to time. Once we give way on the principle the electors will be bound hand and foot. It will have been seen that Von Hindenburg is of opinion that, theoretically, the war may last for years, and Mr. Lloyd George recently announced that the price of wheat in Britain would be 60s. per quarter for 1917, 55s. per quarter for 1918-19, and for 1920-21, and in 1922, it would be 45s. Does that mean that, in the opinion of Mr. Lloyd George, the war is going to last three years longer?
– It does not mean anything of the kind.
– What Mr. Lloyd George desires to do is to stimulate cereal culture.
– It might mean that.
– The honorable member knows what it means.
– I ask you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to protect me from the disorderly member for Hindmarsh, than whom no one ought to be quieter or more grateful for the consideration shown to him by members of this House.
– To what action of the honorable member for Hindmarsh does the honorable member for Capricornia take exception?
– I ask you to call the honorable member to order for his interjections.
– I have done so.
– Do you not propose, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to take any action to prevent the honorable member repeating his offence?
– The . offence is not so great as to. call for any interference from the Chair.
– The interjection did not come from this side.
– That is a distinct reflection on the Chair, and it is not the first that the honorable member has made. I intend to uphold the dignity of the Chair, and I call upon the honorable member to withdraw the remark he> has made.
– Having made the remark, I withdraw it, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
– If the desire is to extend the life of Parliament, we ought to do it ourselves. If we believe that the majority of the people are in favour of such a step, let us take it ourselves, and. not appeal to the Imperial Parliament.
– We cannot do it.
– We have taken enormous, powers under the War Precautions Act; we have commandeered wool, wheat, ,anc£. metals, and fixed the prices of flour, sugar, and other commodities, and in verymany ways have infringed the terms of the Constitution. We have gone further, and have issued a War Precautions Regulation as follows : -
The Minister may, by notice in writing, forbid, with such limitations or exceptions, or except, subject to such conditions as he may specify, the sale or disposal by or to any persons or class of persons, or by or to any State, or any authority constituted under a State,, of any live stock or meat.
We have not only fixed prices, but we have undertaken to tell a sovereign State of the Commonwealth that the State itself may nob buy or sell meat to any person; and we do this with the consent of the Governor-General, who represents the King of England.
If we can issue a regulationlike that, I venture to say ‘ that we can,_ if we so desire, extend the life of Parliament. Personally, I take the view that we ought not to extend the life of Parliament, but that the members of the House of Representatives ought to forego four months of their term, and go> to the country with the members of the Senate in May or June next. It would be very wrong, in my opinion, for the Government to spend £200,000 on elections, where £100,000 would suffice; and it would surprise me if the honorable member for Parramatta, who had a great deal to say in 1916 about Federal extravagance, is prepared to spend money in that way.
However, let me for a moment or two devote some attention to the delegates who have been chosen to attend the Imperial Conference as a result of the bargaining between the deserters from the Labour -party and the
Liberals. The Prime Minister does not represent any one, and the honorable member for Flinders represents only a small band of philanthropists in Victoria who for the last two years and a half have been trying to force other people at the point of the bayonet to go to the trenches. The latter honorable gentleman, in the meantime, has made speeches stating that he is hungering and thirsting to do something to help along the war. Thank God, he is about to be satisfied ! He wanted something to do in connexion with the war, and now he has something to do - he is going to the front. But he is not going into the trenches. No; he is going to bask in the sunshine of the Court at Australia’s expense - at a cost of anything from £500 to £1,000. The honorable member for Flinders will not live in the trenches at 6s. a day - no fear ! As Patrick McGill says in The Great Push, the nearer the fighting line, the greater the danger and the smaller the pay. The honorable member for Flinders will not be living in the trenches, but in one of those high-class hotels where, under the new regulations, one cannot get more than seventeen courses at one meal.
The Prime Minister has told us that these delegates are going to the Conference to assist in the conduct of the war, and to discuss the terms of peace. Just imagine the honorable member for West Sydney, who, through his utter lack of judgment and bad tactics, - fortunately - lost the referendum on conscription and split his own party, telling the allied generals of Europe how to conduct the war !
Just imagine the honorable member for Flinders, who induced the Liberal party to turn itself into a suicide club in 1914, and whose campaigning tactics were such a failure that the Liberals were then defeated, going home with the same object! Of course, the right honorable member for Swan can truly undertake to represent the Liberal party; but I imagine he has too much intelligence not to see that the interference of politicians with military and naval experts has brought sufficient disaster up to the present.
Are these delegates going to London to urge the continuation of the war until the Allies march into Berlin ? These gentlemen have not favoured us with their views, except in the case of the Prime Minister. Why should they not give an expression of opinion on the various points that are to come up for discussion ? If they propose to continue the war until we march into Berlin they ought to tell us so. I remind honorable members that when the war commenced we were told by experts that it would be over in six months; and, when it was not over, we were then told we must wait for the spring offensive of 1915.. We were told to wait until the Dardanelles had been forced, and that the Allies would march to Constantinople six weekslater
– The “antds” told us-
– The honorable member is one of those who have been thrown, overboard. He has gone to one of the back benches, where he can weep in private. As there was failure in 1915, we were told to wait for a spring offensive in 1916, and, later, Mr. Lloyd ‘George said that the war would be over within six. months, namely by Christmas last. Now we are being asked to wait again.
– The honorable member has made, predictions that have not been fulfilled.
– I have made only one prediction.
– The honorable member
– Will you keep silence? You were thrown over by the Prime Minister, and should be clothed in sackcloth and ashes. You betrayed your party,, and not for the first time.
– I ask the honorable member for Grey not to interject, and the honorable member for Capricornia not to indulge in personalities.
– The honorable member for Grey ratted on his party to join the Labour party.
– The honorable member for Capricornia is not in order. I ask him to assist the Chair-
– I ask you, sir, to protect me from disorderly interjections. No one knows better than you do that a member is entitled to be heard in silence. The only prediction I have made in this chamber was made early in the war, when I said that itwas murder to send, our boys to Gallipoli; that the position was impregnable, and that no one ever attacked the enemy in a strong position, but always sought a weak point-
I was adversely criticised by certain persons for having said that. I am speaking as I do because I think it right that the public should make themselves acquainted with the facts. “Our offensive of last July did not conquer the Germans, though it made them, decide to put forward proposals for peace. What were those proposals? We have never been informed. Although this Government is the Government of one of the chief Dominions of the Empire, it has not been informed of the terms of the German note respecting peace, nor consulted as to the reply to it made by the Allies.
The public of the world is being kept too much in the dark regarding the war. It is due to it that it should be made better acquainted with what is going on. I do not repeat idle rumours, and would not use a statement unless I thought that my informant had foundation for what he said. I have been told that a gentleman in England who occupies a very high position, and has the expert military and naval opinion of the nation at his command, said, months ago, that the war will end in a draw. I do not know that the statement is true, but I ask the delegates who are going to England to find out if it is true.
If the war is to end in a draw, woe betide those public men who are now refusing to discuss terms of peace, because in the past they have kept the public in the dark, working the people into fury by speeches such as those of the Prime Minister, that political gas engine who, since the war, has been discharging hot air on every possible occasion.
I have been informed that Mr. Asquith’s Ministry went to pieces because Mr. Asquith was in favour of peace. The public demanded that he should leave office, and that there should be a new Ministry to carry on the war more vigorously. The same thing happened in France. The people will not tolerate those who speak of peace, but men like Mr. Asquith, who have been carrying on the war for two years, know the real position. If those in authority know that the war must end in a draw, woe betide them when, later, it is. discovered that they continued to send men into the trenches to suffer and to be maimed and killed when they could have discussed peace - which must come sooner or later - and brought it about sooner. We must wait to see whether the new Governments of Great Britain and France are successful. What will happen if they are not?
They will commence to back down, as our Prime Minister has done. He said the other day, “I do not wish to humiliate Germany.” Yet he made his reputation in England by violent speeches, advocating the refusal for evermore to trade with Germany. He says that he is prepared to discuss peace, yet only the other day he spoke of the “ fools who babbled peace.”
There are two very important questions that will come up at the Imperial Conference, and I wish to know what will be the attitude of our delegates in regard to them. Why are not those delegates present ? Are they afraid of the House, or do they despise the opinion of honorable members ? Why is not the honorable member for Flinders here to give us his views regarding preferential trade within the Empire, which is now a question of practical politics? I ask whether preferential trade within the Empire will not provoke rather than stop war? The Empire is made up of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India and its dependencies, British Borneo, Ceylon, Malta, Hong Kong, the Federated Malay States, the Straits Settlements, the South African Union, the colonies in East and West Africa, and the West Indies. Most of this territory has come under the domination of Great Britain as the result of conquest or annexation within the last 116 years. How can we have preferential trade within an Empire in ‘ which there are hundreds of millions of coloured persons of servile race, who cannot read or write, and are willing to work for starvation wages?
I ask, further, if the delegates are going to give effect to the resolutions of the Paris Conference, which was postponed in order ‘that our Prime Minister might attend ? Those resolutions were framed with, the object of preventing trade with Germany, and even with neutral countries, by favoured nation clauses and the establishment of preferential trade between the; Allies. How can we in Australia, with our elaborate system of Wages Boards, industrial Courts, factory inspectors, and so on, give preferential treatment to goods made in Belgium,
Russia, or Japan? I have read recently a long series of articles published in the Melbourne Herald, and written by Mr. Frederick Coleman, F.R.G.S. He visited, about four months ago, the cotton mills in Osaka, the great manufacturing centre of Japan, and he says of them that the great advantage enjoyed by the Japanese spinners and weavers of cotton is cheap labour - most of the labour being woman labour, or, to be absolutely correct, girl labour and girl child labour. The factories work night and day for all but two days in the month. A Bill for preventing girls from working at night time was recently defeated in the Japanese Parliament by those interested in the cotton industry. The girls work in two shifts - from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., and from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. - all being paid at the same rate. That is a condition of affairs such as prevailed in England over 100 years ago, when children of tender years were similarly treated, those employed at night coming back to occupy the beds that had been slept in by those who worked during the day. This was stopped by the Factory Acts passed by the BritishParliament at the instigation of the Earl of Shaftesbury. Mr. Coleman says that in Japan the men receive, on the average, from ls. 3d. to ls. 5£d. a day, and girls of thirteen years of age from 4jd. to 6d. a day. He says -
There is an abundance of poor in Japan from whom to choose. They are taken by the mills on a sort of three years’ apprenticeship scheme. They are housed in dormitories and fed by the company, which charges them for the food supplied. “That lot of girls there,” said the works manager, pointing to a bevy of children working on a long row of spindles, “get 4$d. to 5d. a day. They get their three meals each day from us, and we make a charge of 2jd. each day, ‘which pays for the food and includes their sleeping accommodation. We have about 2,000 such girls in one dormitory, or set of dormitories.”
I do not wish to say anything to give offence to Japanese members of Parliament or to other Japanese. I am desirous that we shall be on most friendly terms with the Japanese people. I have read books about Japan, and have marvelled at the intelligence and skill of its people. But as one who wishes his country well, and has spent his life in trying to ameliorate the conditions of the wageearners of Australia, I cannot sit silent when a proposal is brought forward with the object of giving a preference to Japanese goods over the goods made by a people having a standard of wages akin to our own. I would ask Japanese statesmen and politicians who object to our immigration restriction laws to study our industrial conditions - the circumstancesof our girl and adult workers, the places in which they live and the hours they work - and to ask themselves whether they in honour can claim that the product of thelabour of girls receiving 4d. and 5d. per day ought to be allowed to enter Aus-r tralia to compete with goods produced under Australian conditions. My ideas of preference are these: I would give preference of 10 per cent, to a man like Mr. Ford, of America, in whose motor car factory no man or woman receives lessthan £1 per day. He is a man we ought to encourage, and I would give his products a preference over the goods of the unfair employer, even in any part of the Empire. I would give a preference intrade only to goods made in the establishments of those employers who are fair intheir dealings with their workers. By sodoing, we would encourage the just employer and penalize the man who is prepared to underpay and overwork his employees.
– Themotion before the House is sufficiently interesting to bring from me a few remarks,, which I hope will nob be so very wide of it as have been those to which we have just listened. The honorable member for Capricornia talked about various matters, with” which I do not propose to deal, except in one regard. He has suggested that the forthcoming Conference may very well consider the possibility of the war endingin a draw, and that terms of peace should be discussed on that basis. He h asthreatened those of us who have taken up a more uncompromising attitude than hehas with pains and penalties after thesettlement of the war has taken place, and he has asked us to remember that we will be responsible for causing the deaths of many men by unduly prolonging the war. I ask honorable members to consider whether it was not our unpreparedness at the outset of the war, and the lack of a determination to throw into the conflict every ounce of our energy, and every man, which caused a great many unnecessary deaths, and whether the pacifists themselves are not responsible for the prolongation of the war and for much of the slaughter that has taken place. Is it not a fact that in the early stages of the war, Great Britain, obsessed with the teachings of those pacifists, hesitated to throw all her resources and men into it, with the result that much treasure and human life were unnecessarily sacrificed ? Is it not true that if all the Allies had realized the grim nature of the task before them, and had faced it as we say now they ought to have done, the war might very well have been over by now, and many valuable lives have been saved? Therefore, I am not afraid of the judgment of the people after the war, and I feel sure that, no matter what they may decide to do, they will not adopt the policy of living in that fool’s paradise which had been held up for their admiration before the war, and which they imagined they had actually entered for ever. Let me remind the honorable member for Capricornia that if Australia had thrown all her energy and enthusiasm into the prosecution of the war! we might have won Gallipoli; that enterprise would not have been a failure, but a huge success; and such a success would undoubtedly have tended to shorten the duration of the war. Have we not been told by the highest authority that, if we had had only another 50,000 men on two critical occasions when our troops were doing such heroic deeds against the enemy, we would have achieved the victory which we so fervently desired ? It is futile for any honorable member of the House, or any public man in the British Empire, to talk at the present time of peace, and of a draw when we know that such a peace and such a draw will only mean precipitating the world at an early date into the same horrors from which we should .be anxious to save it. Only when the bully has been effectively disarmed will the peace of the world be achieved, and I trust that this Parliament, realizing that truth, will do its duty by throwing every possible ounce of energy that Australia can give into the war so that it may soon be brought to that conclusion for which we are all hoping and praying.
In regard to the extension of the duration of the present Parliament, I admit that the circumstances are of such an unusual character as to justify an expedient of the kind contained in the motion. We find the Parliaments of other parts of the Empire adopting this procedure, and I have nothing to say against’
Mr. Fowler. it so long as this Parliament justifies such a step. In my opinion, the step can only be justified by Parliament taking a keen interest in the prosecution of the war. If we do that, we have every right to extend the life of Parliament, but if we are only to continue to dawdle along as we have been doing for so long, there is no justification whatever for the proposed step. The Government calls itself a War Government. It may justify its claim to that title. I am here to see that it does, and I will do everything in my power to achieve that end. I say frankly that I. expect that, as a natural consequence of this motion, the Government will take up the prosecution of the war with an amount of vigour which has not been shown in the past, and with that degree of intensity which the Empire has a right to expect from any Government of Australia. I do not propose to make any definite suggestion as to the course the Government should take. Every Government promises well at the outset. The present Government has not been too lavish in its promises, and I am hopeful therefore that it will carry out the majority of them. I have every faith in some members of the Ministry. I know that the financial position of the country will be dealt with most effectively by the right honorable member for Swan, and I am only sorry that he is to go to London instead of remaining in Australia. In some respects the presence of the right honorable member in London will be.’ very favorable to the ‘ Commonwealth. No more thoroughly representative man could be sent from Australia, nor could we send a delegate who would receive a better welcome at the seat of Empire. But while recognising that,. I say unhesitatingly that he would be doing better work for the Empire in Australia by giving to our finances that attention and experienced handling which only he in so high a degree can give. Speaking in general terms, I agree that the Australian delegation is a very strong one, and that the three gentlemen selected will be able to throw their weight into many questions with the best possible results to Australia, but I am apprehensive that, in sending to London three of our strong men, we shall be weakening to some extent the Government in ita work in Australia.
I wish to know what the policy of the Government is to be between the departure and return of the Prime
Minister and his colleagues. There will be an interim of many months. Are things’ to continue to drift as they are drifting now? Is nothing definite to be done in regard to the most clamant need of the war, the sending of more men from Australia? I remember that when the Prime Minister left Australia about a year ago he stated not once, but several times, that by the end of the following June there would be 300,000 men despatched from Australia to the seat of the war ; but no sooner had he gone than his Minister for Defence was hard at work explaining that the Prime Minister meant something entirely different; and, in spite of the fact that recruiting went ‘down and down to a most insignificant fraction, nothing was done during those critical months to mend matters until the Prime Minister returned to Australia. I am afraid that the same thing is going to happen again. I do not wish to discourage recruiting, or to be regarded as throwing cold water on the work which is being done so well by Mr. Donald Mackinnon and his subordinates, but all who have taken any interest in that work know that it is anything but successful. We are spending a very large sum of money on it, but the results are not at all commensurate. The bulk of the recent recruits are returned soldiers, men who have been turned down previously for minor defects, and a large number of immature boys. The large number of eligible men left behind in Australia are standing severely aloof, and are not likely to be rounded up by any voluntary method. We have before us the absolute necessity of sending away 16,000 a month. Our reserves are coming down to nothing at all. I know for a fact that men who have not had more than three weeks’ training are being despatched from Australia in order to keep up the appearance of sending the reinforcements that are required. How much longer is this to go on ? If the Government allow this drift to continue indefinitely for a few more months, it will be as blameworthy as any previous Government that has refused to face its responsibilities in this regard.
– What should be done ?
– It is not for me to suggest at the present time what should be done, although I have in mind a scheme to which I have given expression in more ways than one during the last few months. I hold the view very strongly that if Australia is to emerge from thi* war. with any credit, with any honour to itself, or with any standing among the white races of the world’, the people will have to reverse the vote they gave on conscription a few months ago, and that this Parliament and the public men of Australia should, before very long, put the issue fairly and squarely to the people, and make them realize the serious nature of the position that faces us, and the inevitable degradation and ruin that will overtake us if we do not undo the error of the past. I have said frequently that the failure of the conscription referendum was not due to the people, but was due to the blunders of the Prime Minister, and I am quite sure that if a referendum were taken again on a proposition for conscription of a limited character, and not of the sweeping nature that was previously suggested, the people would indorse it. I do not see why we should not be perfectly frank and honest with the people of Australia, and why we should not sum up the position in a sensible practical way, making up our minds how far we can go, and then saying to the people, “ That is the right and proper thing for you to do.” I agree with many of my friends opposite that we cannot deplete Australia of all our able-bodied men. The necessity of producing wool and wheat is of such a paramount character that we must retain a bigger percentage of able-bodied men here than may be regarded as necessary in some other countries at war.
– More have gone from the pastoral and wheat-growing pursuits than from any other.
– I am aware of that. That is one of the reasons why we should have presented the case for conscription to the people in a more definite way than was done. My suggestion would be to have a modified conscription up to a certain point, for instance, of single men up to thelimit of age of military efficiency, and by means of a ballot to secure the necessary number, and no more, month by month. I claim to be able to gauge public opinion fairly well, and I say, without hesitation, that if some modified form of conscription of that kind were put to the people to-day it would be» carried.
– How about paying the soldiers & little more, as has been done in New Zealand?
– We hear a great many reasons why men are not enlisting - alleged reasons ; the real reason is that they do not wish to enlist. The honorable member will agree with me that the men who have enlisted so far have not gone on account of the monetary consideration. I do not think it has influenced them, though in the case of some of those young officers who jumped into a pound a day from a few shillings earned in an office, it might have been a consideration. I have often thought that the pay of the second lieutenant is altogether out of proportion to 01 at of some of the effective men in the ranks, and that there has been a. rush for billets of that kind that has led to a very considerable amount of expense that could otherwise have been avoided. However, that is a side matter. It is also true that there are many irregularities in connexion with the administration of the Defence Department, and that to some extent they may be interfering with recruiting; but the real, solid reason why we do not get the men is that those who have not come forward have not the military spirit, and do not want to so to the front. I feel sure that if these men were rounded up, put into the camps and trained as soldiers for a few months, they would fight and acquit themselves at the front just as well as the men who have gone of their own free will. I hope that the Government will pay some attention to my representations in this regard. I certainly hope that they will not allow things to -drift, and that their policy of winning the war will not continue to be one of mere tall talk.
– I do not think they will do anything in that line before the New South Wales State elections.
– T am not concerned with the New South Wales elections.
– They are.
– It is possible that some honorable members may be, but I feel that on such a proposal as I have just indicated the Government, and the Parliament as a whole, might very well make a solid appeal to the country before many months are over.
– This House also?
– Move an amendment to that effect, and I shall support you.
– I am merely giving an indication of what I think should be done. I hope that matters will not be allowed to drift regarding recruiting and the conduct of the war generally while the Prime Minister and his colleagues are in London. I hope that some definite policy will be determined upon, and that the Government will be empowered to carry it out. I feel sure that . the country is looking to the new Government to improve very much on the war policy of previous Governments. We know that there will be better administration of the Departments, especially those taken over by new Ministers; but in addition to all this, there is the clamant necessity for men, a necessity which the Government cannot, and dare not, shirk, in view of the circumstances that called the Coalition into existence.
Just one last word and I am done. We are sending three gentlemen to London. If they are to have the retinues that some members of previous Governments have taken to London with them in -the past, it will be a very expensive business for Australia. I do not wish to mention names, but the style and expense that have been initiated of late years by certain Ministers leaving Australia stand in very bad comparison indeed with what was the rule in the times when men like Mr. Deakin went to London and performed valuable services to the Empire. I do not wish to read again extracts from foreign newspapers commenting on the arrival of Australian Ministers in foreign capitals with an imposing retinue behind them, after the style of Persia or China. Our Commission to the Imperial Conference can very well do its work without an array of heads of Departments, secretaries, attendants, and others. I feel sure that this hint will go a long way with the Treasurer, who is not given naturally to this kind of thing, and may be in this regard a very useful check on the gentleman who happens to be at the head of the present Government.
.- We have just listened to an interesting contribution from the honorable member for Perth, who only a few weeks ago. speaking from this side of the House, said that the present Prime Minister had not sufficient ability to run a fish shop. We now find the honorable member a meek and lowly follower of the right honorable gentleman, of whom he spoke so disparagingly
– I only disparaged his judgment. I am not a meek and lowly follower of the Prime Minister. I shall keep him up to the collar if I can.
– The honorable member now holds up the Prime Minister, whom he so recently disparaged, as the one man fitted to carry on the war policy in Australia, The figures, however, do not .substantiate his assertion that whilst the Prime Minister was in Great Britain the recruiting movement here fell away to almost nothing. The honorable member for Perth was candid enough to say that the policy of the present Government for obtaining sufficient men to help to carry on the war should be, in his opinion, the very policy which was turned down in October last”.’ In other words, the honorable member believes that ‘ we need conscription to obtain the requisite numbers. He fails to recognise that the danger at the present time relates, not so much to the numbers of our men as to the submarine menace. The submarine blockade will be the determining factor. The honorable member also spoke almost disparagingly of the men we had at Gallipoli.
– I did not. I rise to a point of order. The honorable member has made a very serious reflection upon rae in asserting that I spoke disparagingly of the Australians at Gallipoli.
– What I intended to say was that the honorable member spoke disparagingly of the number of men we had at Gallipoli.
-The honorable member for Perth will have an opportunity later on to make a personal explanation.
– I am Australianborn, and view this matter from an Australian stand-point; whereas many public men in Australia at the present time deal with it from an Empire stand-point, and place Australia in a false position. The honorable member for Perth remarked that no one could say what might have happened if we had had another 50,000 men at Gallipoli, and had put our whole strength into the effort. He spoke in somewhat the same strain as to what Great Britain had done. But what did the French generals tell us when we were at the front? They declared that what Great Britain had accomplished was a military miracle. They were amazed at the efforts she had put forth. In South Africa, England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Canada, and France, we heard the same expression of opinion, and everywhere public men were amazed, too, at what Australia had done. It ill becomes us, therefore, to cast a reflection on the achievements of our men. Australia had 19,000 or 20,000 men at Gallipoli, and they did magnificently.
– Hear, hear!
– No nation has ever done so much as Australia has done in this war; no nation has ever transported some 300,000 men 12,000 miles oversea, as we have done. This war has cost us more, both in men and money, than the Boer war cost Great Britain; and it hurts me to hear men disparage the part which Australia has played. Australia has done her duty in this struggle.
Turning now to another question, I would say that the Prime Minister is temperamentally unfitted to lead the country in the present crisis. He has said that we were elected after the outbreak of war, and that this is, therefore, a war Parliament. It is true that we were returned as a war Parliament, and with a definite policy - the policy of helping to the best of our ability to win the war. But a point that is often ignored is that our policy was to obtain men on the voluntary basis. That was the policy enunciated by Mr. Fisher, and indorsed by the present Prime Minister. The Parliament which was returned on that policy, however, is now differently constituted, and the policy of the Government has not received the indorsement of the people. The Labour party, owing to the desertion of some of its members, is now in a minority in this House, and the Liberals, who were defeated at the last general election, have now control of the business of the Parliament. ‘In these circumstances, there can be no justification for a continuance of the present Parliament beyond the date at which it must expire by effluxion of time. Constituted as we are, we have no right to go behind the backs of the people. We are not entitled to deny them the right to say by whom they shall be represented here, and to express their approval or disapproval of the war policy as it has been conducted since the change of Government. The public are entitled to say, as they did in the first place, whether they approve of what has been done an this ‘Chamber since the last general election.
I come now to the Imperial Conference. The delegates who have been chosen will not represent the people of Australia; they will probably represent not more than one-half of the people. It is distinctly unfair and discourteous to the people and the Parliament that the three honorable members who have been selected for this important mission have failed to give any indication of what their attitude will be, and of what they propose to say on behalf of Australia at the Conference. Questions of the greatest magnitude will be discussed there, and among them will be questions involving our attitude towards some of our Allies at the present time. It is mere humbug to try to hide that fact. We all have this thought at the back of our minds, and we know that there will be an insistent demand on the part of at least one of our Allies that we shall yield on the policy of our White Australia, and at least relax it. The Labour party, who were returned in a majority at the last election, have always held sacred the principle of a White Australia, and I would ask the three delegates, who have been selected practically from the Liberal party, what their attitude will be upon that question at the Conference. Will they stand firm and let “the British statesmen know that Australia is prepared to fight rather than yield upon the principle of a White Australia? Here is an illustration of the attitude of some of those who support the present Government. It is- a letter dated 16th February, 1917, and addressed by Senator Lynch from the Department of Works and Railways, Melbourne, to a Mr. McPherson - 16th February, 1917.
Dear Mr. McPherson. - I have your further communication of the 10th inst., and note you are about to take a big part < in campaigning in Bendigo.
It is very hard, at this distance, to say what reference I have made to Chinamen, or low they could be beneficially employed in this country under war circumstances. But if you want to satisfy your inquiring friend about my attitude upon that question, it is this: I would be prepared to admit alien labour temporarily to this country rather than lose our independence for want of it. Let him remember the desperate position France has been forced into in this matter. She is employing alien labour, and in doing so is helping to fight Australia’s battles quite as much with it as with her own native-born sons. The insufferable audacity of these anti-conscriptionists who dare to find fault with any suggestion of the kind, when they themselves were prepared to go to India, or anywhere else, for coloured labour to fight the battles of Australians in the present war! After having made that suggestion, and publishing it to the world, they should be the last to mention the subject in any respect whatever.
I hope you will be successful in your campaign, as the present struggle requires the fullest sympathy and unstinted effort of every patriotic Australian. Yours faithfully, P. J.
– It was sent by Senator Lynch to Mr. McPherson, of 204 Queen-street, Bendigo.
– How did the honorable member come by it ?
– That is quite beside the question. It is only fair to the House and the country that those who are to speak for Australia at the Imperial Conference should let us know at once that they stand sound upon the policy of a White Australia. . In the letter I have just read, we have a supporter of the present Government who was a Minister a fortnight ago expressing his readiness to bring in Indians and Chinese to take the places of our men who have gone to the front.
– That is what some members of the honorable member’s own party have urged - that we- should hire men from India and Russia to fight for us.
– India has a population of 330,000,000, and if, as part of the Empire, she had furnished troops in proportion to the number supplied by Australia, we should have had no lack of men at the front. Here we have an exMinister declaring his readiness to bring in Chinese and other aliens to take the places of men who have gone to the front.
– What is the date of that ?
– The 16th February, 1917.
– Why find fault with me for what others may have said?
– I am not finding fault with the right honorable member for Swan, but pointing out that this is a highly important Conference, and that if he and others are going as representatives to that Conference, it is only fair to honorable members, to this Parliament, and to the people of the country, that some -declaration should be made as to the issues to be discussed and probably decided. The Prime Minister has told us that this Conference is going to deal, not only with the conduct of the war and the conditions of peace, but with several other matters. As to the conditions of peace, it was said at the outset that we were fighting for the protection of Belgium, and that we wished that country to be restored and an indemnity secured to pay for what has been done there, so far as money can compensate. But do we get ‘the slightest indication from any of the selected delegates of how far they are going to speak for Australia and what they deem to be Australia’s view? As to New Guinea, we shall probably be unanimous, for none of us desires to have Germany there as a menace to our people and trade. We should all, I suppose, from’ an Australian stand-point, like to have a Monroe doctrine for this country.
– But honorable members opposite will not allow New Guinea trade to come into Australia.
– We believe in protecting Australian industries first, with a preference to the Mother country afterwards ; then we are not particular how the balance of the trade is scrambled for. The Prime Minister has told us that his connexion with the Paris Conference was totally misunderstood - that he did nob go to represent Australia. bub to represent the United Kingdom. I ask, however, was there not a moral obligation placed upon Australia in those Paris resolutions ? is there not a moral obligation to give to Japan the preference over America? Honorable members opposite know that there is; and that is why they do not like some of the questions that are being asked; but, in a flippant way, try to brush them on one side. Peace will not grow up like a mushroom in the night; it must be proposed and talked about by some one, and we wish to know now what we are fighting for and the terms of peace. We are asked to this Conference, not as an act of grace, nob as something: for which we ought to bow down in gratitude; we go there as a right, as a recognition of the sacrifices we have made in the war. We send representatives there as part of the Empire, so that our voice may be heard from an Australian point of view, which is not, perhaps, the same as that of South
Africa, Canada, or India. If we can get the restoration of Belgium, with indemnification, and have reparation made to France, are we still going to fight for Alsace and Lorraine as one of the conditions of peace? Supposing that Servia and Roumania are restored, are we still going to fight for the Trentino for Italy? When I questioned the Prime Minister on such points he sneered at me, and told me to ask Von Bethmann-Hollweg ; but three months afterwards, Mr. Lloyd George, in answer to the President of the United States said that the peace terms were -
What attitude, I ask, are the delegates going to take up on this matter on behalf of Australia? Are they going to say that Australia continues in the war to give Russia the. Dardanelles?
– Why do not the honorable member and his party send a delegate to the Conference, and instruct him?
– The working classes of Australia will not be represented in this Conference; and if we do our duty, we ought to send Home a delegation to let the public men of Great Britain know their attitude, for they are certainly entitled to have a voice in the conduct of this war. The proposed delegation, constituted as it is, cannot go Home with the good-will, and express the voice, of Australia. It is only humbug and fudge - I cannot use any other terms - to say that, because we did not coalesce with the party opposite, we ought not to have representation in the Conference; there ought to be no condition of the sort. The members of this side of the House speak, probably, for the majority of the people of Australia to-day, and it will be shown at the elections whether they do or not. At any rate, we speak for one-half of the people of Australia, and they ought to- be represented. The Conference will deal with questions that will vitally affect Australia in the future; and that is the reason I protest against any prolongation of the life of this Parliament. The public have every right to say whether or not they agree with1 what is now being done by the Government.
.- The honorable member for Perth may, at any rate, be complimented on the fact that he has had the courage to break through the embargo that has evidently been placed on Honorable members opposite, so far as this debate is concerned. That honorable member recently blossomed into notoriety through some very free criticism he made in the press of the Prime Minister and his methods; and it is satisfactory that he is willing and courageous enough, even now, when he is behind the Prime Minister, to maintain the attitude he took up in those letters. Unfortunately, although he holds, the opinions expressed to-day, he will be found voting for the motion. He is against the prolongation of the life of Parliament; he thinks that this Parliament no longer represents the mind of the people of Australia, and that certainly the Government does not; but he is not prepared to vote against the motion. He is in favour of an early and double election; but he is not prepared to help honorable members on this side to bring about an election. The motion before the House is somewhat amusing as regards the reasons . put forward for prolonging the life of the Parliament. In the first place, it states that, owing to the “ existence of a state of war,” there should be the proposed prolongation. This, I say, is amusing, in view of the fact that the Parliament was elected, during the “existence of a state of war,” and that the then Government - the Cook Government - had an offer from , the present Prime Minister to postpone the elections owing to the war, and, thus, then prolong the life of Parliament. But the present Minister for the Navy and his party then said, “ Oh, no; there is no reason why the elections should not be held.” And, indeed, there has been an election in every State in Australia since then; and those elections have not interfered in the slightest degree with the carrying on of the war or Australia’s interest in it.
– Did that offer to postpone the elections have the indorsement of the whole of your party?
– I only mention the fact that the offer was made - I do not go into the reasons - and that it was not accepted. The “ existence of a state of war” was then, evidently, not a reason for postponing the elections, but there was an urgent reason for going on with them, and that was that the then Government might retain power - and that is where the disappointment came in. Australia has shown during the whole course of the war that it can carry on its domestic affairs without any diminution of its interest in the war. I entirely disagree with those who say that Australia has shown any lack of interest in the war. On the contrary, I think she has done splendidly. She has earned a name and fame that will stand for generations to come. I do not agree with those who say that we have done all we ought to do, for I think we should keep on doing, as long as we are able, the very best possible to see the crisis through. Then, as a matter of present fact, an election has been deliberately brought about in the State of New South Wales. The “existence of a state of war” evidently applies only to the Federal elections; and yet the “ existence of a state of war “ was not a sufficient deterrent to the Prime Minister when he wished to carry the conscription referendum. The other day, when addressing the House, the Prime Minister said that the country was torn just now - was disturbed and distracted - by the serious aspect of the war. No doubt; but he did not think of the disturbance, distraction, distress, and worry that he brought about in the country through that infamous referendum that he engineered through the House and forced on the people. A referendum equal to an election, so far as its effect on the people was concerned, was right to serve his purpose then, but now an election which would not serve his purpose is an offence, owing to the “existence of a state of war.” There is not an honorable member opposite who believes for a moment that an election in its proper course this year, either for the Senate or the House of Representatives, would, in the slightest degree, prejudicially affect the conduct of the war.
– I think the Government ought to keep a quorum, and I beg to call attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.]
– If the “existence of a state of war “ is sufficient reason for postponing an election, what about the threat that has come from the Prime Minister and the Government that a Senate election will take place in May, -and that we may be faced with another election for the House of Representatives in October ? If a “ state of war “ is sufficient reason for postponing an election at all, why should a Senate election be used as a threat in that way ?
– I have again to call your attention to the state of the House, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
– There is a quorum present.
– The Government are not sincere in the reasons they put forward for postponing the election. They are simply trying to hoodwink the House, knowing well that if it is possible for the party on this side to defeat the motion the Government will throw .the country into the turmoil of an election for the Senate alone. We do not mean to avoid an election. The motion has been moved to frighten the Senate; but I hope that the members of that Chamber will not lack courage to face the people. This Government is not entitled to remain on the Treasury Bench by virtue of any authority from the people. At the most critical stage of the war, an election was held, and the people then deliberately took the charge of affairs from the Liberal party, headed by the honorable member for Parramatta, saying, “ We want the Labour party to manage the war for us.” There are now in coalition with the Liberal party the honorable member for West Sydney and his followers, whose policy was rejected last October on a referendum, the people saying, “ We do not support your policy; we approve that of the Australian Labour party.” Thus twice has the policy of members on this side received the indorsement of the country, and twice has that of members on the other side been rejected by tFe people. No wonder Ministerialists desire the prolongation of the life of this Parliament. They hold office in defiance of the will of the people, and of all the principles of responsible, democratic government. I come now to the second reason that has been given for the prolongation of the life of this Parliament, the immediate meeting of the Imperial Conference. I regard this Conference as of the utmost importance, because it marks an entirely new and far-reaching departure in the government of the Empire, though I candidly confess to being somewhat nervous as to its results. I have an abiding loyalty to the Empire, and desire its preservation. But the cohesion which was evidenced by such a remarkable response by the Dominions to the call of the Mother Country when the war broke out came about, not because each part of the Empire has had a “ say “ in .the affairs of the other parts, but rather because each has been allowed to attend to its own affairs, and has been bound to the Mother Country only by a very slender tie, which, in times of emergency, has proved strong and effective. That tie is in danger of being broken by the very efforts that are being made to strengthen it. I can conceive’of nothing more dangerous to the self-governing powers of the Dominions, and more likely to cause disturbance in the Mother Country, than an attempt-to establish a permanent Imperial Conference or Council to deal with the affairs of the Empire as a whole. The radical difference between the British Empire, which, although composed of widely separated and almost autonomous parts,, has maintained itself as a whole, and other European Governments which have focussed their powers in bodies elected in Europe is very marked. What the results of this Conference will be no one knows. It will certainly deal with matters of the highest importance affecting Australia. I am satisfied that the other parts of the Empire are capable of looking after themselves. My concern is that the Australian point of view shall be preserved, and Australian interests thoroughly protected. I feel that Australia should be represented at the Conference. It must have a “ say “ with the other Dominions in whatever arrangements may be come to, and its representative must be its Prime Minister, whoever may occupy that office. We, on this side of the House, have no confidence in the honorable member for West Sydney.
He did not represent Australia at the last Conference, but said things in England to which neither the Liberal nor the Labour party would agree, identifying himself with ideas and methods not acceptable to the people of Australia. His policy has been rejected by the electors of this country, and his followers make up only a fraction of the membership of this Parliament. He can, therefore, speak now only in a very partial and unsatisfactory way, even for those who are supporting him. When he was last sent to London he had a strong following in Parliament, and could speak on behalf of the major portion of the electors. What he did respecting the control of metals and other matters commended itself to the Parliament and people of this country, and was of splendid service to the country. But he is now a discredited leader. He is no longer at the head of the party that he then represented, and he cannot speak for the supporters of that party.
– He is still Prime Minister.
– By a peculiar combination of circumstances brought about by the departure from principle of members of his party and by members of the Liberal party. I have no objection to either the honorable member for Flinders or the honorable member for Swan, who are as good as any other members, and perhaps better than some, but I strongly object to the choosing of three delegates from the same side of the House.
– Three conscriptionists 1
– I am not concerned with their particular political views. There is another party which can rightly claim to represent at least onehalf of the people of Australia.
– It is entirely your own fault that your party has no representatives.
– I understand that the Senate is nominating Senator Mullan.
– And Senator Ferricks.
– It is a poor cause that cannot allow both parties to be represented. Either Senator Mullan or Senator Ferricks would be able to put the other side of the case. Surely honorable members do not object to both sides being heard !
– We desire that both sides should be heard. Why did you not accept the offer f
– The honorable member suggests that because we did not accept an offer to form a coalition Government we are not entitled to be represented at the Imperial Conference.
– You threw away your chance
– I differ from the suggestion that we declined to form a war Government. We did nothing of the sort. We have shown as keen an interest in the prosecution of the war asany of those on the other side.
– You have a funny way of doing so.
– Your way is not ours, and our way is not yours. If it were otherwise we should be where youare, and you would be where we are. It is suggested that, because our Leader did1 not accept an invitation to attend a conference to discuss the formation of a war Government, our party is not entitled to be represented at the Imperial Conference. It will be seen how unfair that is. The main thing is that as members of Parliament we are entitled to representation. Is the Imperial Conference going to listen to only one section of the public opinion of the Dominions, to view things from one stand-point only? I hope not. I hone that the views qf the mass of the people will receive consideration. But so far as Australia is concerned those views are not to be uttered. Neither the Prime Minister nor the Treasurer, and, least of all, the honorable member for Flinders, can speak for us.
– Is the voice of the Labour party different from that of this party on Imperial matters?
– Yes. The main distinction is that we believe in Australia, and that honorable members opposite do not. They believe in the Empire without restriction.
– Does the honorable member say that seriously ?
– Yes. I have seH that if only one man were attending the Conference as our representative it should be the Prime Minister, though I am sorry that it is the honorable member for West Sydney who occupies that position. It is not that I have a personal objection to him; my objection is purely political. As there are to be three representatives, it is unreasonable that the Australian Labour party should not be allowed to choose one of them. There would have been only one representative sent were it not that the Liberals are afraid to trust the honorable member for West Sydney.
– Is the honorable member in the confidence of the Liberals?.
– Does the honorable member deny what I have said?
– Yes; most emphatically.
– It is certain that had the honorable member for Parramatta, or thehonorable member for Swan, been Prime Minister, he would have gone to London alone. It is a ridiculous farce for this Economy Government to send three representatives from Australia to the Imperial Conference. However, if three are to be sent, one should be chosen by the Labour party. As the Labour party will not be represented, and as thus at least one-half of the people of Australia will be unrepresented, we must reserve to ourselves the right to reject or accept the determinations of* the Conference, whatever they may be. I entirely dissent from the resolutions of the Paris Economic Conference’. Nothing has more certainly perpetuated this war, by stiffening the Germans and the Austrians, than the determination of that Conference that after the war there should be no trading between the Allies and the countries with which they are now at strife, that our enemies should be destroyed, not only in the military, but also in the economic sense. We were told that we went into the war for the protection of the weaker nations. That was a magnificent ideal, a mission sufficient to awaken the enthusiasm of any . man. Now we discover that we are in the war for the purpose of giving Constantinople to Russia.
– That is not fair.
– That is the statement made by the Prime Minister of Great Britain.
– The fate of Constantinople is only incidental.
– It is evident that an arrangement has been arrived at that there shall be no peace until Russia is in possession of Constantinople. In the first place, Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, and Turkey are informed by the Paris Conference resolutions that, even after they have been beaten on the battle-field, we shall not bo content, but that we shall continue to fight them commercially.
– The publication of those resolutions was both premature and mischievous.
– I agree with the honorable member. Whilst I admit that we cannot too soon enter upon, the consideration of post-war problems, because they will be complex and difficultof adjustment, I hold the opinion that to come to a decision that, after the war, there shall be no trade with our enemies, that their ships shall be penalized, and that’ we shall fight them commercially in every possible way, is surely one of the most sane things that could be done if we wished the war to continue to the bitterest end.
– Do you advocate trading with the enemy after the war ?
– Certainly. Trade wherever we can do profitable business.
– I have only one view of trade after the war, and that is ‘ the same view as I hold during the war, namely, that the protection of Australian . industries is the paramount consideration in every respect. When we have safeguarded our own industries, we can give a preference to the British Dominions, and the rest of the world can be put on’ the one footing.
– Allies and enemies together?
– Yes. I. have no . more love for the Japanese than I have for the Germans. I have not much love for even the. Americans, because I think they have come out of this war with very little credit to themselves; and if I were . prepared to prohibit the trade of any nation, I should vote to stiffen the Tariff against the Americans ‘just as much as against the Germans.
– The honorable member has not told us how Australia can be represented at the . Conference without some adjustment in connexion with the elections.
Mr.FINLAYSON.-I contend that there is no reason why three delegates should go to London. If there is to be an election, the right honorable member for Swan and the honorable member for Flinders must remain in Australia. That means that the Prime Minister must go to England. . Perhaps he can get leave of absence from his. constituents. He can. apply to his supporters in. West Sydney to attend to his business, and to secure his seat while he is absent.
– Do you think it would be a manly action to send the Prime Minister away, and attack his seat in his absence ?
– No ; but I have a strong opinion that when the Prime Minister gets to the other side of the world he will not trouble further about a seat in the Australian Parliament - at least for some years. If there is to be an election, and three delegates go to London, those three gentlemen must certainly take the risk of competition in their electorates. There is nothing in that possibility at which they can cavil. There are honorable members on active service who, in the event of an election, will probably have to meet opposition in their electorates.
– It will be a crying shame if they do.
-Your party has been organizing in their electorates.
– I say it is a disgrace that the Prime Minister should have chosen the electorates of Ballarat and Corio for the inauguration of his campaign for the formation of a national federation. Three delegates may go to. London, but we will not promise them immunity from opposition at the elections, because they will be going, not with the authority of this Parliament, or of the people of Australia. Therefore, they must take all the risks consequent on their going if an election takes place during their absence. Australia can be represented properly only in one of two ways - either the Prime Minister alone must go, or the Parliament must select somebody to represent it. A number of senators will not be affected by the elections. There are eighteen senators whose terra continues for another three years, and Parliament might decide to send one of those senators, who would have no risk or . responsibility if an election took place while he was in England.
– If Parliament were to select a man, do you think that any man but the Prime Minister would be selected ?
– He would have a very good chance, and I think he ought to go to London ; but I do not admit that any man should be entitled to immunity at the elections. Honorable members opposite seem to think that there was truth in the statement of the Prime Minister a. few’ days ago that the only opposition to his attendance at the Conference was founded upon hatred of himself.
– There is no doubt that is true.
– The honorable member thinksso, -and it is not surprising that he does. Speaking only for myself, I am in utter opposition to the Prime Minister, but I have not the slightest personal feeling of hatred towards him. Members sitting on this side’ of the House had no objection to Mr. Hughes as’ a member of the Labour party; our objection to him was as leader, and. his whole conduct as Prime Minister, particularly, during the last six months, shows that, temperamentally, he is unfit to be a leader. ‘As a member of the Labour party, and of this Parliament, he has done excellent work. There is not a man on either side but must admit the energy and ability of the Prime Minister; but what kind of party would it be that did not reserve to itself the right to change its leader at any time ? What organization could live that did not hold within itself the right’ and the courage to change its loader?
– At the dictation of a junta,
– If the honorable member will refer to a dictionary, he will find that junta is a Spanish word, and that secret juntas was a term applied to societies which were indifferent to any other interest but their own. The whole conduct and doings of the Ministerial party during the last three months have been based on the one idea of preserving its own seats and comforts. Everything else, even recruiting, has been subordinated to that end. The war was nothing, the cry was only, “ Lot us get into office!” The Prime Minister has shown his appreciation of the men who followed him, because those whom he retained in the Coalition Cabinet are anti-conscriptioniste who became . converted in Cabinet, ‘ and the men whom he dropped were those who have been conscientious conscriptionists from the beginning.
– Order ! The honorable member is going beyond the subject of the motion.
– I come now to the argument as to the propriety of approaching the Imperial Parliament with a request to alter our Constitution for us. The Constitution Act was an Act of the Imperial Parliament, necessarily; there was no other way of getting it. And we are thankful for that Constitution. But the British Parliament in that Act specified the only means by which the Constitution could be altered. It was left to the Australian people by their own methods and machinery to effect any amendment of the Constitution. Section 128 is. specific and emphatic: “ This Constitution shall not be altered except in the following manner.” Then the clause proceeds to define how an alteration of the Constitution can be effected by the passage of a Bill which shall subsequently receive the affirmative vote of the people. It is now proposed that we shall say to the Imperial Parliament, in effect, if not in words, “We wish yon to alter our Constitution.”
– In a manner which we specify.
– We have no right to ask them to do that.
– Then we are not a sovereign Parliament.
– We are; and the fact that the Imperial Parliament gave to us alone the power to alter our Constitution is the very reason why we should not approach the Imperial Parliament as is now proposed.
– The same argument would have applied equally well to the suggested extension of the life of Parliament desired by the Labour party before the double dissolution.
– This party determined that the very arrangement which is now asked for by the Prime Minister, and which is to be submitted to the Imperial Parliament for their consent, was to be referred to the people of Australia as the seventh question of the referenda proposals that were carried in this House, and were to be submitted to the people in 1915. When talking upon this matter, the Prime Minister was reminded by the honorable member for Barrier of something which he said he had entirely forgotten, and he claimed that he had been sent to London in order to arrange this very thing, but honorable members on this side of the House, and some honorable members on the other side, are aware that it was not a correct statement of the case.
– The statement was absolutely correct.
– It is very strange that there should besuch diversity of opinion between Labour members who have remained on the other side of the chamber and those who sit in Opposition as to the reasons why the Prime Minister went to London. I admit that it was suggested that while he was in London he should make inquiries as to how and whether this thing could be done, but he was not instructed to arrange the matter.
– Then what was the necessity for consulting the Imperial authorities upon it!
– We had a perfect right to consider the question at that time, because we had just come back from the country a party with a majority in both Houses, deliberately charged by the people of the country with the task of carrying on the war. The task was taken from the honorable member for Parramatta and his Government and given to us, and we were entitled to consider whether, in the interest of the country and of the prosecution of the war, it would be advisable to extend the life of Parliament. We did consider the matter. We had a right to do so.
– Then it is not a matter of principle to which the honorable member is objecting; it is a matter of who takes the thing in hand?
– We held the view that the people of Australia should determine the matter.
– The House was canvassed as to whether honorable members would support the issue going as a seventh question to the people.
– That was done in order that the proposal might go through with the least possible trouble. We hoped that the Liberal party would agree unanimously to the submission of this seventh question to the people. There was no party advantage to be gained from it. Right through, the honorable member for Wannon was one of the most fertile in suggestions for a Coalition Government.
– No, not for a Coalition Government, but for a National Government.
– We could not agree to the formation of a National Government. We said that we could carry on the war in obedience to the mandate of the country, and we deliberately and persistently refused offers from the Liberals for the formation of a National
Government. The present Prime Minister was one of those most emphatic in his refusal to entertain any- such offer. It is foolish for him now to suggest that the referenda proposals of 1915 were turned down by the Labour party. I forget what his exact words were. I think he said that we dropped the proposals. As a matter of fact they were abandoned at the - instigation of the Prime Minister, because he had come to an arrangement with the Premiers of four States by which they promised to put Bills through their several Legislatures handing over to the Commonwealth for the period of the war the powers that would have been secured if the referenda proposals had been submitted to the people and adopted. Even though the war was in progress, we would not have abandoned the proposals had it not been for the distinct statement of the Prime Minister that an arrangement had been made with the Premiers of the States, and a promise had been given by them. That promise was not carried out, and many honorable members have been very sore upon the point that the referenda proposals were not submitted to the people, along with the seventh one for prolonging the term of senators in order that the election of senators mightbe held at the same time as the election for members of the House of Representatives.
– What is the opinion of the Prime Minister worth in the Senate ?
– It is not worth much.
– Then how can the Premiers of the States control the Upper Houses in their States ?
– The influence of any honorable member is largely determined by his consistency. No honorable member has much influence among his constituents, or among his own friends, unless they know where he stands. The man who is always in trouble with his supporters is one who is continuously jumping from one place to another. How could any one feel confident in supporting a Prime Minister who made the following statement recently in The Case for Labour: -
I do not for a moment deny a man’s right to change his opinion. I only deny his right to break his word solemnly given to his fellowcitizens. If he finds, after election, that he can no longer conscientiously support those measures to which he is pledged, his course is quite clear. Let him, before such measures are put to the test, resign his seat, and contest the electorate upon his changed opinions. If returned, he can with honour do that which he desires; but he cannot, and ought not to, be allowed to do this until the people to whom he pledged himself have formally and constitutionally ratified his change of front.
– He has not changed his front. What is the honorable member balking about?
– What pledge has the Prime Minister broken ?
– He is certainly under no pledge or promise to the Liberal party. If there has been any breaking of pledges, it has been on the part of members of the Liberal party. They were straight-out advocates of compulsory military service . overseas, but now, in order to get into a National Government and form a Coalition, they have abandoned their principles. The honorable members for Perth, Flinders, and Wimmera are about the only honorable members of the Liberal party who have the courage to get up and state that they still favour conscription.
– That remark applies to all of us; it certainly applies to me.
– Then what is the honorable member doing on those benches ?
– It would be more correct to say that I am in favour of another conscription referendum.
– How can honorable members still claim to be in favour of conscription when they deliberately sit behind a Prime Minister who distinctly said that the new Government were prepared to accept the decision given by the people in October last as the policy of the country ? I do not object to the holding of another referendum on this question. We on this side of the chamber cannot object to the holding of another referendum. We held a referendum on one occasion on the question of the alteration of the Constitution; we were defeated; thereupon we held a second referendum upon it; we were defeated a second time; nevertheless we were going on with a third referendum, and we shall have another upon the same questions on the first chance we get. Certainly I have no objection to the submission of the question of conscription, but I do say that it is not a proper question on which to have a referendum. When the Prime Minister returned from England, if he thought that conscription was the right policy, he should have come down to the House and said so, and taken his chance of its going through.
– The honorable member knows perfectly well why the Prime Minister did not do so.
– I know why he did nob do so; it was because he was defeated in his Cabinet upon the matter, and defeated in his party upon it; but if he had been the strong man that he claims to be, and that his supporters claim him to be, he would have resigned his posi”tion as Leader of the party and come down to the House and claimed support from the members of Parliament as a whole.
– Did he not get support from his party bo do what he asked for - ito refer the matter to the people ?
– No, he did not.
– Was it not carried by twenty-three votes to twenty-one ?
– No; he did not get support from his party.
Mir. Bamford. - He did.
– He was able to influence a number of members who were opposed to his conscription policy to allow the matter to go to a referendum, but honorable members are aware that there was a strong section in this chamber who were opposed to referring the matter to the people.
– Was not the referendum agreed to by a majority of the party?
– No; as many things were done at that time, it was referred to the people because of the dominance of the Prime Minister, who insisted on having his own way.
– Is ib not a fact that men in the meeting upstairs promised to support him and then deserted him in the chamber?
– Name them.
– I do not wish to mention names.
– I did not do so.
– Nor did I.
– Order ! If honorable members do not obey my calls for order I shall have to take drastic action.
– I have been reading American history lately, and I find a close parallel between our recent position and that which obtained in the United
States of America just after the close of the Civil War.
– Including conscription in the Civil War ?
– Order ! Honorable members must cease their interjections.
– I have also been reading something about the system of conscription that was introduced into the United States of America during the Civil War, and on comparing the historical facts as disclosed in American histories with the statements circulated during the referendum campaign in regard to the American method of conscription, I find there is a very big difference indeed between the two. The fact that conscription was imposed in the United States of America against the will of the people, and was the cause of riots and disturbances from one end of the country to the other, was cleverly forgotten or omitted from the statements made here during the recent campaign.
– But - conscription won the Civil War in America.
– That is ridiculous nonsense. The views of one gentleman who occupied a very important position in American political life at that time fit” the present case splendidly.
– Order ! I have allowed a considerable amount of latitude in reference to various matters - perhaps I have erred in doing so - but conscription has nothing whatever to do with the question before the Chair, and I ask honorable members not to debate it.
– I propose now to sum up my objections to the proposition that we should approach the Imperial Government with a request that it should extend the life of our Parliament, or any section of it. I have pointed out that the Imperial Government has given us the machinery bo do this for ourselves; that it has, in the Constitution, particularly specified the means by which it may be done, and I believe that the people of Australia, when given the opportunity, will change that provision in the Constitution which makes it possible for the two Houses to be responsible for elections at different periods. That is a stupid anomaly, which I am sure was nob foreseen by the framers of the Constitution.
– You want to bring down the term of senators to three years.
– I do not care very much how the anomaly is removed; but the two Houses should go to an election together. Nothing is more necessary at the present time, if Australia is to be properly represented at the Imperial Conference, than that the people of the Commonwealth should say who shall be the selected representatives, and from what party they shall be selected. In view of the rejection of the Cook Government’s policy, and the recent rejection of the present Prime Minister’s policy, the people should say which party and which leader is to be the representative of Australia at this important Conference.
– To what policy is the honorable member referring ?
– To the honorable member’s policy at the last general election.
– Admittedly one of the chief factors of the Labour party’s victory on the occasion was their statement that the elections ought to be put off.
– Is the honorable member now prepared to admit that they should have been postponed ?
– I am prepared to say, as I have said all along, that there would not have been any election at the time had there been a Parliament in being. There was at that time no Parliament in existence.
– I remember that that was one of the. right honorable member’s reasons for opposing the postponement of the elections. He said that the Parliament had been dissolved, and that there was no constitutional means of reforming that Parliament. That might have been quite true from a legal point of view, but if the right honorable gentleman had not been quite so sure of the results of the election, I think he would have got over that little difficulty.
– I did not see any way of overcoming it.
– The right honorable member thought his- party would be successful at the election, and that he had better be sure in one direction than take any risk in the other.
– I do not see how the resuscitation of that old unworkable Parliament would have enabled us to deal with the war.
– I am quite sure that had the right honorable member de sired it, he would have tried, as the Government are now trying by this motion, to find a way out of the impasse. I. should like to know why the Government, instead of proposing to lengthen the Senate’s term, should not propose to. shorten the time of the House of Representatives. That would be a simple wayout of the difficulty. There can be no difficulty in the way of dissolving the House of Representatives at the present time.
– That is what we all want.
– I do not think many honorable members opposite are looking for a general election.
– And very few on the Opposition side are.
– Every honorablemember on this side would vote for a general election at once.
– With his tongue in his cheek, and praying to God that there would not be an election.
Mr.FINLAYSON.-I am certain, that honorable members opposite, and’ least of all the honorable member for. Henty, will not be allowed to direct our prayers, or the answers to them. We on this side of the House are quite prepared to take the responsibility of voting, not to lengthen the Senate’s term, but to shorten the time of the House of Representatives. That is an easy way out. of” the difficulty. The Government can have an election as soon as they please.
– The honorable member wants, to commit political suicide.
– If one is going: to commit political suicide, one might as well do- so- heroically, and make a. good job of it.
– I have seen a man in this House vote in opposition to a Government when he knew that it was all right.
– I have seen comrades of the honorable member voting; against a proposition in which they said they believed. We ought not to ask the Imperial Government to permanently alter our Constitution. There might be some reason for asking them to make a temporary arrangement; but this motion goes further. It asks the- Imperial Parliament to make such consequential amendments in our Constitution as will meet, not only the present emergency, but future emergencies. That is not fair.
– That is not the meaning of the motion.
– That is my reading of it. Even if we were in favour of asking the Imperial Government to bridge over the present difficulty, why should we ask it to make arrangements in regard to subsequent elections? That is a confession of weakness in regard to our ability to alter our Constitution, and shows a lack of faith in the people of Australia, who, after all, know much better than the Imperial Government what Australia wants. The matter of providing for subsequent elections should be left to a referendum vote here. The motionis quite clear in asking that arrangements shall be made to cover subsequent elections.
– That is not the meaning of it. It is only to adjust dates.
– In this motion we ask the Imperial Government to snake such “provision in relation to the terms of senators and the holding of Senate elections as will enable the next elections for the Senate to be held at the same time as the next general election for the House of Representatives.” That is quite clear. But the motion goes on to say, “ and consequential adjustments to be’made regarding subsequent elections.”
– To extend the life of the Senate accordingly.
– The intention is, first of all, to ask the Imperial Government to arrange for the elections that are due this year. If the motion stopped there, it would be all right.
– Then the honorable member would vote for it?
– No; I mean it would be all right from the point of view of the Government. I am not in favour of extending the term of the Senate so as to fit in with the elections for the House -of Representatives; but I would shorten the term of the House of Representatives so as to fit in with the term of the Senate. That would not involve an alteration in the Constitution. If we ask the Imperial Government to provide this temporary advantage, why should there be any reference to subsequent elections sand “consequential adjustments”?
– What does the honorable member say is the meaning of those words ?
– That the Government propose to ask the Imperial Parliament to make such a permanent alteration in our Constitution as will provide against the recurrence of this contingency.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I desire at the outset to refer to a charge which the Prime Minister made against the Australian Labour party a few days ago, and to which reference has been made by the honorable member who has just resumed his seat. Such a statement cannot be allowed to pass unchallenged.: It has already been published in the press and those newspapers which are always ready to score off our party have used it as if it were absolutely correct. The Prime Minister said that when he went to Great Britain last year he had an instruction from the Labour party, which he was then leading, to arrange with the Imperial authorities for an extension of the life of this Parliament. He made that statement as the result of a reminder that he received from the honorable member for Barrier, and expressed pleasure that he had been so reminded. The right honorable gentleman conveyed to this House the impression that the Australian Labour party had so instructed him, and that impression has been maliciously conveyed to the people by the Argus, which is always endeavouring to score off our party. In its issue of Monday last the Argus made the greatest possible capital out of this statement by the Prime Minister, and accepted it as absolutely true. I say definitely and clearly, with the full indorsement of every honorable member on this side of the House, that it is an absolute misstatement of the facts. I challenge the Prime Minister and the honorable member for Barrier to prove the statement either here or elsewhere. Every one knows that the Australian Labour party, which at the time in question was led by the present Prime Minister, proposed to submit a referendum to the people for the alteration of the Constitution, and that proposal embodied six questions. Our party made the further proposition that a seventh question should be included for submission to the people of Australia, who should be allowed to say “yea” or “ nay “ to it. Every honorable member on this side of the House will bear out my statement that it was proposed to ask the people whether, if it were found necessary - and not only honorable members of our party, but many on the other side said it was necessary - they would agree to an extension-
-Was the Prime Minister instructed to make inquiries while in England?
– He was not instructed to make any inquiries by the party which he then led - the Australian Labour party. I say that emphatically, and without fear of contradiction.
– The honorable member for Brisbane has admitted that the Prime Minister was to make inquiries.
– The Prime Minister, before he went to England, did make statements in personal interviews that he proposed to go Home to make inquiries in this direction, but he was never asked to do so by this party - that is the point I wish to make. The party never considered the matter except in the way I have just stated, and that was in the shape of a proposal to put this as the seventh question to be referred to the people of the Commonwealth. There were certain members of this party, no longer with us, who were very anxious that the Prime Minister should do this; but, personally, I never spoke to the Prime Minister about the matter, and that, I believe, is true of every honorable member on this side to-day. Of what took place in personal conversations I know nothing; all I know is that the party, as a party, gave no instructions to the Prime Minister to arrange for the extension of the life of Parliament. I hope that the newspaper to which I have just referred, and which was so anxious to spread this report abroad, will be as careful to publish this contradiction that I now emphatically make.
– You have great faith in the newspaper.
– I am going to wait and see; but it is only fair that the same publicity should be given to this contradiction - to this emphatic denial - of the misstatement of the Prime
Minister, who, into the bargain, knew it to be a misstatement -
– The honorable member must not say that the Prime Minister made what he knew to be a misstatement.
– I cannot say anything else. The Prime Minister knew very well that such a resolution was never carried by the party.
– What I take exception to is the remark that the Prime Minister made a misstatement which he knew to be a misstatement. That is certainly against the rules.
– Well, the Prime Minister made a statement which was a misstatement, and he did not know that it was untrue. In deference to your ruling, I withdraw the remark, but I am still very strongly of the opinion.
– You are not allowed to say that.
– If not, I withdraw that remark, too. I wish, honorable members to think over the statement made by the Prime Minister the other day when he said, “ I went to London for the express purpose of arranging this thing.” It will be remembered that in town halls all over the country the Prime Minister, in the great speeches he made, said he was going on a mission compared with which all other missions were insignificant - that he was going to deal with questions of vital national importance. It is vital to the public to know that, so far as the Prime Minister was concerned, he says he went Home for no other purpose than to arrange this very tiling; and I accept his statement. But in what kind of position does it place him in the eyes of the people of this country ? The best proof that the Prime Minister had no mandate from his party, and that this was not in the mind of the party, is in the fact that, when he returned, he made no report to the party about it; he made no statement to the party by way of report on this matter, and, although he had several interviews! with us, he was asked for no statement. That is the best proof that he had no instructions from the party.
– He was asked to do it subrosâ.
– The honorable member knows a great deal about that kind of thing.
– We are beginning to find out.
– And you will find out from your new friends.
– I asked the Prime Minister that question myself when he returned.
– Did you ?
– Yes; at the Caucus table.
– Well, that bears out my remark, when I say that there were certain individuals anxious to know how the Prime Minister had got on, and those individuals are with him to-day.
– But you said no questions were asked.
– Except by those who are with the Prime Minister to-day.
– You did not make that qualification.
– What did the Prime Minister say?
– You were all there.
– I wish to emphasize a statement which I have already made, that the Prime Minister had no instructions from his party, as a party, and he made no report, and was asked to make no report. Any man who wishes to be fair must accept that statement. I now wish to deal with the question before the House. I have just said that I never spoke to the Prime Minister before he went Home as to whether he proposed to do this thing or not. The Prime Minister cannot say that I ever did so; and I believe that that remark applies to the great majority of honorable members on this side. I am opposed to the extension of the life of this Parliament ; and I know that there are several honorable members opposite who think that, if we went to the country immediately on the question of conscription, I have not much to hope for.
– “Buckley’s” chance!
– That may be; bub I also know I shall have a lot of company on the other side. There may be one or two on this side of the House who, if an election took place immediately on the question of conscription, might lose their seats, and of these I might be one; but, on the other side, there are those who have far more to lose in this connexion. However, I am going to stand right up to this particular question. I am going to oppose the extension of the life of Parliament, and take whatever fate may be awaiting me at the hands of the electors. I am going to do this because I hope I am able to put my own personal interests beneath the interests of the country or of the party . to which I belong. I desire also to refer to the statement made by the Prime Minister when he said that the Inter-State Conference of the Labour party decided, or carried a resolution, to the effect that the Senate election should be postponed so as to fit in with the election for the House of Representatives in October. I believe the Conference did carry a resolution of the kind ; but, as one who is associated with every delegate to that Conference, I am prepared to say that not one believed that, in carrying that resolution, there was any understanding that the Imperial authorities would have to be appealed to in order to bring about the alteration.
– Do you mean to say that they did not understand their business at the Conference ?
– I believe that what actuated the delegates principally was the anxiety to save the people the expense of a double election, running into something like £100,000. I do not believe that they thought it was necessary to appeal to the Imperial authorities. I propose to give briefly the reasons why I am opposing the proposed extension of the life of Parliament. In the first place, I think, with the honorable member for Brisbane, that it would be a dangerous precedent. In my opinion, we have a right, which Australia has won, to make our laws in our own way, and to alter our Constitution, and arrange our constitutional matters as we may. If we take the step of appealing to the Imperial authorities it will be establishing a precedent, perhaps highly dangerous to the Democracy of the country. I look on this proposal of the Prime Minister as an attempt to muzzle the people. It is neither more nor less than a proposal by the Prime Minister and his new associates to prevent the people from expressing their will ; and I suppose the Prime Minister’s environment to-day is largely responsible for the position. He is supported by that class which aits to-day in the Legislative Councils of the States, and who are in those Legislative Councils because of the limited franchise. The Prime Minister has as one of his principal associates the honorable member for Flinders, who, as every one knows, was responsible, when he had the power as a State Premier of Victoria, for disfranchising a great number of people as represented by the public servants of the State. Consequently,. I say it is because of his environment that the Prime Minister now stands for a limitation of the franchise of the people.
– That is a very drawnout argument.
– I say that the proposal is an attempt ‘ to prevent . the people of the country from exercising their franchise in a legitimate way.
– The ‘ present Government stand on a war policy, and the Prime Minister has told us that he is a better Labour man than the honorable member is.
– Of course he has, and the Prime Minister will tell the honorable member a lot of things when they know each other a little better, and will get honorable members opposite into precisely the same muddle as that into which he led the party he had the honour of leading for so long. Honorable members opposite may to-day find great satisfaction in the fact that they have the honorable member for West Sydney over there, but I venture to say that in a. little while they will become disillusionized, and will greatly regret having taken him to themselves. If we surrender the right to make our own laws, and to alter our Constitution in our own way, we are taking a step in a direction of which we cannot see the end. We know that there are a number of politicians- in several, parts of Australia - New Zealand, notably - who are talking at large in Great Britain in a way that does not reflect, at all events, the opinion of the people of the Commonwealth. Those politicians are giving the impression that what the Australian people desire is something in the form of Imperial Federation; and many English journals seem to understand that that is in our minds. As a matter of fact, the people of this country do not desire anything of this nature. I believe that when the Prime Minister was at Home he, I shall not altogether say, advocated
– He did advocate it.
– I am reminded by the honorable member for Cook that the Prime Minister, when at
Home, did advocate Imperial Federation I am glad to have his correction; at any rate, if the Prime Minister did nothing, to advocate that policy, he did nothing to* disabuse the minds of the people of Great. Britain of the idea that we in Australia, desired it. If we take the step proposed, by this motion it will da more perhaps, than anything else to lead’ the people of the Old Country tobelieve that we really desire something in the form of Imperial Federation. I kno w of nothing more contrary to the will of the people. We cannot wonder, however, at the impression made on the people of Great Britain and at the statements thathave appeared in many British newspapers when we send to London men who misrepresent us, and have this proposal, put before this Parliament, which is equivalent to a confession to the ImperialGovernment that we are no longer able to> manage our own affairs, and an invitation to it to interfere by altering our Constitution. If the prolongation of the life of this Parliament is necessary, the way to bring it about is to carry out the method! of the party which was led last year by the Prime Minister, when it was proposed that the question should be referred to the people. I oppose the prolongation of the life of this Parliament for another reason beyond that I have stated, that is, because I am unwilling to allow the alliance which faces us one unnecessary hour’s lease of life. I am opposed, as I believe the Democracy of this country is opposed, to this unholy alliance of parties, which only yesterday were antagonistic in every particular. When we see the honorable member for Parramatta and the Prime Minister on each other’s necks, and remember the ridicule that they heaped on each other, we cannot regard their alliance- as other than dishonest. The honorable member for Brisbane has read an expression of the Prime Minister’s views upon political coalitions, and I propose to read’ a further elaboration of those views. My extracts will be taken from a little book entitled The Case for Labour, published’ by the Prime Minister not very long ago, whose statements must rise up before him now like a ghost. He says -
In my opinion, such combinations are generally immoral, rarely expedient, and always1 subversive of the principles of representative government. For upon what does representative government depend, if not upon this - that the pledges given to his constituents by their representative should be faithfully and honestly kept? Being elected upon the condition that he should support a definite policy, he cannot be permitted to afterwards turn round and vote against it. Loyalty to party is a quality so highly esteemed that a member who deserts his party earns the eternal detestation of his former friends and supporters, and is pursued to the end of his political, and even his earthly, career with even more bitterness and fury than that displayed against a traitor who deserts or betrays his country.
That is Hughes on Hughes -
This enduring and pitiless hatred of party “rats” serves to exhibit another phase of the feelings with which men regard those who are false to their pledges. So deeply-rooted and so general is this sentiment that it is but rarely that even the least scrupulous venture to give occasion for its display. Even the most audacious quail before the fury and rage of those whom they have betrayed, and the most impassive tremble and blanch before the hoarse, angry roar, and the bitter taunt, cutting like a knife, that goes right to the heart of the most callous and abandoned. Usually there is to be found but few men who clare it at long intervals, no matter how great the temptation, in the history of any Parliament. Their fate serves for a long period as a deterrent to others, until the recollection of their act, and its punishment, is somewhat blurred by time. But once or twice in a generation, under the influence of some great temptation or of some malignant but powerful personality, men. taking courage from their numbers, go over to the enemy in a body. . . .
That there may be no room for doubt as to just what we object to in such combinations -
He was referring then to the fusion brought about by Mr. Deakin and Mr. Cook- and why we declare them to be immoral and unjustifiable, some few words further are, perhaps, necessary. I hold it, then, as the first and most sacred duty of a representative of the people that he should most scrupulously and honorably keep his pledges to his constituents. He is under no obligation to enter into, these - or any - obligations, but does so quite voluntarily. When, as is now invariably the case, a man is pledged to his electors on certain important questions, he cannot vote or act in any way other than as his pledges bid him without sacrificing his honour and betraying his trust.
– Which of these pledges has the Prime Minister broken?
– I will tell the honorable member directly.
If he finds, after election, he can no longer conscientiously support those measures to which ho is pledged, his course is quite clear. Let him, before such measures are put to the test, resign his seat, and, if he chooses, contest the electorate upon his changed opinions.
Sitting suspended from 6.S0 to 745 p.m.
– The second reason I gave for my opposition to any extension of the life of this Parliament was my belief that the people are opposed to the present alliance between two irreconcilably ‘opposing sections, and that the earliest opportunity should be given to the people to express their opinion’. I have already quoted, from The Case for Labour the opinions of the Prime Minister on alliances such as that with which he is now identified, and if we wish for further testimony from the same source we have only, to turn back to the time when a similar alliance was arranged between the followers of Mr. Deakin and Sir George Reid. I remember, although I was not a member of the House at the time, that when the alliance was announced that stalwart old Democrat, Sir William Lyne, alluded to the’ then Prime Minister (Mr. Deakin) as Judas, because of his participation in an arrangement which in none of its essentials was any worse than that which was made recently. The present Prime Minister remarked at the time that Sir William Lyne owed an apology to Judas, because Judas at all events had the. decency to go out and hang himself. Those words were used by the present Leader of the Government in regard to the very men wit,h whom he is to-day associated.
– He has more wisdom to-day. “ There is more joy in heaven, &c.”
– I can still hear the present Prime Minister describing .the followers of Mr. Deakin as the wreckage of half-a-dozen old parties, including the black labour and freeimporting parties. I remember that he singled out particularly the honorable member for Parkes in his denunciation of men, combined with others, who were opposed to them on every political principle. Of every charge which he preferred against Mr. Deakin and his supporters, the present Prime Minister stands condemned to-day. I recollect the right honorable member for West) Sydney alluding to the then honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Mauger) and the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Hume Cook) who claimed to be Democrats, and had been up till that time supported by the Age. He said of the Age that it was like a magnet, and he was a needle that was attracted to it because of the stand it had taken in regard to the Fusion. He referred to the fact that Messrs. Mauger and Cook, the former proteges of the Age, had been taken to the arms of the Argus; and he argued that that circumstance in itself was a proof that they had departed from their democratic principles. To-day he is in precisely the same position. He is now the white-haired boy of the Argus, and, accordingtohis own reasoning, that is conclusive proof that he has run away from his democratic views. There have been two betrayals by the Prime Minister. The first happened when, having assured the country that in no circumstances would he send a man out of Australia to fight against his will, he became a violent conscriptionist on his return from England. The second betrayal lies in the fact that he is doing precisely to-day what he condemned Mr. Deakin and his party for doing. I remember that on that occasion the right honorable member for West Sydney said, “ Now they have fused, this is their second betrayal, and on the third occasion we may expect to hear the cock crow.” We have now seen him perpetrate his second betrayal, and on the third occasion we, too, may expect to hear the cock crow. That will occur when the Democracy of Australia has an opportunity to express at the ballot-box its opinion of this Fusion. The Prime Minister is not the only honorable member on the Government side who has expressed himself strongly in regard to alliances of this kind. The honorable member for Flinders, speaking at Dandenong, on the 17th January last, showed himself to be wholly opposed to these coalitions. I ask the honorable member whether he is still of that opinion, and, if so, why he is meekly sitting in support of the Fusion Government? Oh that occasion the honorable member said -
All had heard of a proposed coalition, of a National Government, and of alliances. He was not very fond of coalitions, and he did not think the people as a whole would regard a coalition of parties with other than severe scrutiny. Coalitions usually carried with them, at first sight, the impression of being political devices for a merely political object. Therefore, a coalition must justify itself by showing there was some clear, definite public purpose to be gained thereby. He had no hesitation in saying that any coalition, and any alliance - call it by the name of National Government or any other name one chose - that had not a clear and definite policy for the conduct of the war, as far as Australia was concerned, had no right to come into existence. Further, he, for one, could not support any alliance that had not in the forefront of its policy the determination to again, by as early an appeal to the people as possible, seek authority to use the whole strength of Australia, both in manhood and resources, in the prosecution of the war. The consideration before us was not merely the question of conscription,, although it involved conscription. There was now brought before the public an even higher and wider problem than that. Germany some time ago organized the whole of her manhood and womanhood for the war. The Government of Great Britain had decided to adopt the same course with regard to the United Kingdom, and that meant that all the energies, all the services, all the time, and all the property of all the citizens would be devoted to the one purpose. That was the only policy that, to his mind, would justify the forming of any alliance whatever, at the present time, between parties which had hitherto been, on alt other matters, opposed to each other politically.
There we have the statement of the honorable member for Flinders that the only justification for forming an alliance of the character just formed by the new Government would be if it got all the resources of the country in men and money and utilized them, as is being done in Great Britain to-day. This is the tail end of what the honorable member said -
Therefore, he did not look with any hope to the formation of a really National Government including the three parties now in the Federal Parliament. While it was said by many that it would be foolish to again appeal to the people on a subject involving conscription within so short a time since the referendum, he could not accept that opinion.
Before the alliance took place, the honorable member said that there was only one thing that would justify an alliance of the kind, and that would be if the Government put conscription in the forefront of their policy, and, as the new Government have not done so, will he say that the alliance that has been formed by the two -parties is justified ? Because the honorable member has been asked to join Mr. Hughes in a trip Home, I do not believe that he has put aside his previous convictions. I have always believed that the honorable member is honest in his convictions, and that he is prepared to stand by them. That is why I seek to know why he is meekly abiding by the present Coalition. There are two conclusions one can cometo as to his attitude. The first is that he has had an undertaking from the Prime Minister that conscription will be brought in at an early date, and, if that promise has been given to him, I can understand his attitude. It will only show the dishonesty of the Leader of the Government, who is not prepared to tell the people of the country exactly what he has in his mind.
– If that is the true position, the new Government will get the order of the boot pretty quickly from this quarter; but the honorable members knows well that it is not a correct statement.
– By interjections to-day, the honorable members for Wimmera and Henty expressed themselves in agreement with a statement an honorable member was making at the time that the Prime Minister made the mistake of his life, when, believing conscription to be necessary, he did not bring it in without putting the question to the people by way of a referendum. . The majority of honorable members on the other side of the chamber have made similar statements. The honorable member for Wannon has said that the mistake the Prime Minister made was that he did not bring in conscription off his own bat - I do not know whether those were the actual words he used or not-and eight out of ten honorable members on the other side said at the time that the conscription issue was not a proper thing to submit to the people of the country by way of a referendum.
– I go further, and say that until you fellows got to work ninetenths of the people were ready for conscription.
– The point I wish to make is that the honorable member for Flinders says that he is still of the same opinion, and that he wishes to see conscription in the forefront of the policy of the Government in power ; but what have other honorable members who also believed that it was not the right question to put to the people to say to the statement in the policy of the Prime Minister that if ever conscription comes up again it can only do so by means of a referendum ?
– If the honorable member will sit down, I will tell him.
– The honorable member will have something to do if he attempts to explain that away. Honorable members opposite held the view that conscription was not a proper thing for submission to the people of a country, and that it was a great mistake on the part of the Prime Minister, who, the honorable member for Perth said , was not fit to run a fish shop, to have held a referendum on the matter. What have they to say now? I can understand the honorable member for Flin ders. He is honest in regard to his attitude. But what about the others, who say, “ We believe in conscription the same as you do, but for Heaven’s sake do not mention it at election time, or we shall lose our jobs “ ?
– The referendum has been taken. We have heard the voice of the people, and we must respect it.
– I am prepared to abide by the voice of the people; but those opposite only abide by it through fear for themselves.
– Are you prepared to abide by the decision of the people in the case of the amendments to the Constitution which have already been submitted twice ?
– My friend knows perfectly well that when we submitted the alterations of the Constitution to the people we were defeated, but, holding it to be right that the Constitution should be altered, we brought the matter up again, and were again defeated. We did not run away from our referenda proposals. Why are honorable members running away from their previously expressed convictions that conscription 18 not a fair subject to submit to a referendum ?
– Because we have more respect for public opinion than you have.
– They claim that it is right to have conscription, and they say that it was a great mistake on the part of the Prime Minister to put the issue to the people. Why, then, do they not put it in the forefront of their policy to-day ? They do not do so because they think that if they go to the electors with conscription as part of their policy they will be overwhelmed. Honorable members say that I cannot look forward with pleasure to going to the country if the issue is conscription. I may be defeated, although I have no fear but that -I will have plenty of friends in the same position if I am, and one of them would be my esteemed neighbour, the honorable member for Hume, who was in a minority of 3,000 votes on the conscription question. My position in regard to the matter is that if an election takes place the Labour party may lose one or two seats, but I am prepared to risk my seat in . order to carry out the principles in which I believe. I have always opposed an extension of the life of this Parliament. The Prime Minister cannot say that when he went to Great Britain I asked him to secure an extension, and certainly the party did not ask him to do so. Whether I lose my seat or not, I stand in precisely the same position as I did in the beginning. I was saying that the honorable member for Flinders had stated that he would not hold by any .alliance unless there was an understanding that conscription would be par* of its policy. The honorable member is now sitting immediately behind this Government. Has he a promise from it that at .some future date, if it secures a lease of power, it will bring in conscription behind the backs of the people? The whole thing looks very suspicious, to say the least about it. There might be something else responsible for the silence of the honorable member. Either he has had a promise that conscription would be brought in if the Government get back to power after an election, or he may be too disgusted at the Prime Minister’s everlasting indulgence in whirlwinds of words that mean mobbing. At Sydney again, the other night, the Prime Minister told us that the one great object for which the alliance was formed was to win the war. Then when he met the Protectionists’ Association on another occasion he said that one great thing we would have to look to was the building up of our industries here so that work would be found for our soldiers on their return. Every day he indulges in these platitudes, but he means nothing by them, and he never does anything. Indeed, reading the columns of the Argus one could see between the lines that the meeting in Sydney the other night must have been a failure.
– And admission was by ticket.
– The Argus said that the people turned up expecting to hear the policy 01 the Govern.ment outlined, tout they were surprised bo find that the Prime Minister did nothing but indulge in talk about the state of the war. He told the audience what had happened, just exactly where the Allies stood, and where the Germans were, and he went on to say that the people must be “up and doing.” What the people wanted to know from the Prime Minister principally was what they were to do, but he did not tell them, and there was nothing in the policy that he outlined the other day as to what the people should do.
– What, would you do ?
– Surely the honorable member does not expect me to suggest a policy for the new reformed Government ?
– It is the duty of every man to suggest anything he thinks will win the war.
– The Prime Minister said that the alliance was entered into for the purpose oi winning the war, and that the new Government is a “ Win-the-war Government. What is the policy of the Government in regard bo the war ? They say that they are going to adhere to the voluntary system. ‘They propose to accept .the verdict given by the people on the 28th October. They propose to abide by the voluntary system. Wherein does their policy differ from the policy of honorable members on this side of the House, which was the policy of the Fisher Government, .that displaced the Cook Government and carried on the affairs of the country for two years during the war?
– The difference is that one side means what it says and the other side does not.
– The honorable member is not a very good judge of what is in .the minds of other people. I need not repeat the celebrated wires that he sent during the referendum campaign, in which he told us that the electors of Gwydir were getting to the shirkers, and were going to carry conscription by an overwhelming majority. He was only 4000 in a minority. The honorable member is not a very good judge when he starts looking into other people’s minds. He evidently cannot read the minds of his own electors. He sab behind Mr. Andrew Fisher for two years when the Fisher Government were carrying on the war under the voluntary system, and I say, without fear of successful contradiction, that the record of Australia during those two years made this country the object of admiration of the Motherland. The voluntary system, which was doing such excellent work under the leadership of our party, earned that admiration, and it continued to do excellent work until the present Prime Minister came along and broke it up, and made it a failure. The principal fraud about the present alliance is that it calls itself a “ win-6he-war “ Go.vernment, and is standing to the voluntary system- as its policy, and- that policy differs in no essential from that, of honorable members on this side of the House.. Thevoluntary system is also our policy; but with this difference: that if the Australian Labour party were in power tomorrow the manhood of this country would enlist far more freely than it will while the Prime Minister occupies his- present position-. The right honorable member- has incensed the manhood of this country, and there are in Australia men who will never enlist while he remains in power. If he was sincere in his assertion that the Government were going to abide by the voluntary system, and that their desire was to> win- this- wax,, then; the one thing that he: ought to have done, after incensing the manhood of this country, was to: resign his position and let anr other- party come into power. We could give much better effect to the voluntary system, of recruiting than.’ tha present Government can- ever hope- to do.. They also assert, that- the present alliance- was, necessary for the restoration of responsible government.. Im- this: connexion I propose to make’ a. quotation, from a speech made by the Minister for the Navy, at Sydney, a few evenings ago.. It is a good thing that admissions to the meeting, at which he made the statement was by ticket. Here are his, words - I do not know whether he intended them to- be taken in a j.ocular sense,, but they must, have appeared in the light of a huge joke to his audience -
The National Government has been formed to defend the old, sane, sound principle of responsible government under which Parliament will be responsible to the country, and not to any outside body.
Honorable members opposite say “Hear, hear!” to- that announcement. But what is the position? In order, to prove that the Ministry has been formed to restore responsible government,, what do they propose ? One of their very first proposals is to run to the Imperial authorities with work that should’ be done by us; to take the business- of the- people of Australia out of the- hands of their representatives, and to* have it done- by the Imperial Government. The right honorable member for Parramatta said that Parliament should be responsible to> the country. That, too, iff our opinion. If the Government really hold that view they should- let us, go< at once- to- the country.. But while- they say that Parliament should be responsible to< the people, they propose to go to the Imperial Government instead of to the people, of Australia for an extension of the life of the Parliament. The Ministerial party is composed of two distinct factions. The> faction led by the, right honorable member for Parramatta on the occasion of’ the last general election was voted out of power, and at the last appeal to the people - on the occasion of the military referendum on 28th October last - the Prime Minister and the thirteen honorable members who stood by him were also practically voted out. Thus on the occasion of the last two appeals to the people of Aus<tralia these two- f actions have been voted out. And yet they coalesce, and! tell the, people that they are here- to- restore responsible government, when in- reality they are flouting the will of the people. As my time has almost expired, I shall’ conclude by recording my objection to- this- proposa-1 to extend the life of the Parliament - a proposal emanating from a Government te which the honorable memberf or Yarra; applied’ a few d’ays ago- a namethat is going- to stick to it, the ’’ S.O.S. Government,’’’ or, in other words’, the; “’ Save our Skins”’ Administration.
– Order. T The honorable member’s time has expired.
Mr. BOYD (Henty) pS.20.jJ. - The protestations, of the- honorable member- who has just resumed’ his seat, and” of others of his party who- have, preceded him’, that they are most anxious- to go» to the country, recall to my mind an incident that occurred in the Victorian Legislative Assembly whilst I was: a member of it.. A distinguished member of: the Labour party was particularly anxious that a measure which had been, introduced by the Government should go- through at all costs, but he knew that the division upon it would, be very close. When, the division, bells rang he was almost the last to enter the chamber, and deliberately standing at the gangway he counted both sides. Finding that there was a majority of two for the Government he knew that the measure was safe-, and he therefore voted with the Opposition,, and got the credit for opposing the Bill. That is largely the attitude of honorable members opposite, who so strongly protest their- anxiety to see an appeal made to the people. I may say, without any egotism, that so far as an appeal to the people is concerned”, I am one of- the most, independent members of the House, since at the recent military service referendum my constituency gave an affirmative vote of 30,000, and an absolute majority of 16,000 in favour of it. That being so, there is nothing in an appeal to the people of which I need be afraid; but I am no more anxious individually for a general election than are honorable members of the Labour party who are protesting so loudly their desire to go to the country.
– But what about some of your pals?
– The honorable member for Maranoa has frequently interjected in this House when reference has been made to a general election, “ Why make such a horrible suggestion?”
– Hear, hear ! I do not want a general election.
– The honorable member is quite honest; I know that he does not. I am afraid, however, that others of his party who so strongly protest their desire to go to the country are praying to God, in their hearts, that the strength of this party will prevent anything of the kind. The proposal we are now considering, as I understand it, is not for the benefit of our party, but is in the interests of the country. ‘Australia has just passed through the turmoil of a bitter political campaign. Prior to that we were adding a considerable number of men to the ranks of our volunteers and sending them abroad to fight for the Empire. But the friction that arose during the recent conscription campaign became so keen and bitter that for many months subsequently recruiting fell away to practically nothing. ‘ Unfortunately, this bitterness still prevails, and is being stimulated and encouraged in every possible way. Men who before the referendum were afraid to say a word against Great Britain are now making the most extraordinary statements regarding the war. Some of them ought to be in gaol in view of what they have said. I have here a publication, the heading to which is “ Great Anti-War Demonstration,” and I am at a loss to know how the authorities allowed it to be circulated. It reads -
Yarra-bank, Sunday, 25th, at 3 p.m.
Here is one of the statements in this handbill -
– I do not propose to read the whole handbill, there is too much tripe in it. But here is one statement -
To “ win the war “ for Liberty. And thousands of our brothers of the working class are being thrown out of work and starved into the bloody shambles.
Here is yet another statement -
Workers - For the future hopes of Labour raise your voices now, fearlessly, against the war.
There are quite a number of other sentences of much the same import.
– By whom was the handbill issued?
– By the Australian Socialist party. It is signed “Fred.- A. Holland, Organizing Secretary.”
– They have nothing to do with the Labour movement.
– Then I should like to know what has to do with the Labour movement. When the Labour party are challenged concerning any socialistic statement they deny their association with Socialism, although they are always priding themselves on the fact that they are Socialists. When faced with statements of this kind, emanating from men of their own rank and file, they dissociate themselves from them.
– I have to fight them just as the honorable member has to do.
– The honorable member does a lot of fighting against them ! The campaign through which we recently passed has been disastrous .to the position of Australia in this war. I am prepared to say that it has already gone so far as to largely undo the magnificent efforts of the Australian troops, who voluntarily went to the front before the campaign took place. Australia, by the blood of her sons shed at Gallipoli, and at Pozieres, in France, built up a reputation which must stand for all time. But a section of this community, because of its bitter hostility to the Prime Minister, would wreck, not only the Constitution, but the country, and even the Empire if necessary, in order to hound him out of office. We are asked by the Government to request the Imperial authorities to take the steps necessary to extend the life of this Parliament, in order, I take it, that peace may reign once more within our shores, and so to enable us, if possible, to put. forth a united effort to help the country which has protected us from the first moments of our existence. We want to help the Old Country to win this war and to establish the supremacy of our arms. 1 am not an advocate of peace, when my country is at war ; I want my country to win, and to win in such a manner-
– So do we.
– I know that the honorable member is as anxious as I am in this regard. He has given his sons to the cause, and no man could do more. What surprises me is that honorable members, quite a number of whom have allowed their sons to go to the front, should be content to be under the dictation of irresponsible men, whose avowed objects and motives are against the war and all its works. The object of this motion is to prevent further turmoil in Australia. Any man who believes in internal peace while we are engaged in the most gigantic war the world has ever known, ought to be prepared to agree to an extension of the life of the Parliament in order that the representatives of the people may combine to make the voluntary system successful.
– The honorable member would not talk in this way if he thought his party would win at the polls.
– I have no fear as to what would be the result if a general election took place.
– Have a try.
– That is their cry: “ Never mind the war of the Empire, but think of the polls.”
– That is the trouble. It is also proposed to ask for an extension of the life of this Parliament to enable us to send representatives to the Imperial Conference. There is no man in this Parliament, nor is there any man, who does nob believe that this great dependency should be represented at the Imperial Conference. But honorable members opposite wish to establish a condition of things - perhaps I go too far in saying that they wish to do this; but, at any rate, their actions would have that effect - which makes it humanly impossible for men to be representing Australia at the heart’ of the Empire when their seats are being contested here. If, when questions affecting the future of Australia - its White Australia policy, its policy with regard to the captured islands in the Pacific, with regard to the Tariff, immigration, and many other manifold questions - are being considered, we are not represented, it will go to show” thatthepeople of Australia, through their representatives, are being misled, and thatthe representatives themselves are not fit . to control the Parliament of this great Commonwealth. We have been, and are to-day, absolutely dependent on the Mother Country for our protection and support. Never since we have been in existence have we been in a position to defend ourselves; and until we are, our moral obligation, when the Mother Country is in difficulties, is to help her out to the extent, as the present High Commissioner said when Leader of the Labour party, to the “last man and the last shilling.” Bub no matter what may be the importance of the issues, our friends opposite, being out of office and power, are prepared to stake their last chance, like the gambler, on the throw of the dice.
– They voluntarily left office.
– They knew they could not remain, and there is no credit to them for that. The honorable member for Capricornia, who delivered a most indignant speech against the Government this afternoon, hung on to office as long as he possibly could. He was like the captain of the sinking ship - the last man to go ashore - but he would not have been the last man if there had been no salary attached to the position.
– The captain who . remains until the last is the bravest man, so that the illustration is not very apt.
– But the “ last man “ is not the bravest in politics. Honorable members opposite complain about having no representation onthis Conference ; but whose fault isthat? They were asked by the Prime Minister to jointhe War Government, because parties have gob into such a position that they were unable to properly control the affairs of the country. The proposition first submitted to the Liberal party was considered, and requests were madethat the three parties of which Parliament consisted should be invited to have representatives in the Government. How was that invitation treated? The leader of the party opposite, the honorable member for Yarra, did not call his members together until three weeks after the invitation had been issued, and just before Parliament met. When the Labour party did meet, they, in less than half-an-hour, “ turned down “ the proposition. The reason given by the honorable member for
Yarra, as leader, was that the party did not believe in a fusion. If that was the opinion of the party, why did that honorable member wait for three weeks before telling the Prime Minister what the principles of the party were ? The honorable member for Yarra, as leader, knew tha policy of the Labour party, and the planks of the Labour platform ; and. why did he not tell the Prime Minister that that platform prevented the party coming; to an independent decision on the questions, submitted to them - that the platform or planks barred any consideration of. the proposal, and, therefore, they could not join the Government.?1
– If that is so, did. that, not bind the. Prime Minister ?
– I am not responsible for what the Prime Minister has done’.. .The interests of Australia! - the life and death interests of Australia - might sink or swim,, so long as any one of the planks, of the Labour platform, put together in. times of peace, was not interfered with. It. did not matter “-two straws” what the conditions were - that, party would not depart, from their principles, in regard, to fusion.. This reminds me very much, of the attitude of the, man who. on being, asked to save a man who was drowning, excused himself on the ground that he had not been introduced to him.. What is the real reason for the antipathy of honorable members opposed to the motion ? Is it because they do not believe in it.?. Not a bit of it. They believe in it all right, as I shall show in a minute. It is the bitter, vituperative hatred of the Prime Minister exhibited in all their speeches everywhere throughout the length and breadth of the country, and in this chamber itself, that is the outstanding feature of the position, j
-h ou love the Prime Minister a lot, do you not ?
– I have never said that I love the Prime Minister now. Just recall the speeches that have been delivered in this House on every controversial subject since the Prime Minister has been’ conducting the present Government. Every speech from honorable members opposite has been most abusive and1 vituperative, within the Standing Orders of the House, as regards the Prime Minister; and the same may be said of speeches outside. We even have the honorable member for Melbourne in his place here alluding to the Prime Minister as “ monkey face.” No man could get so low down as that, unless; prompted by bitter vituperative hatred of the Prime Minister..
– You would have pulled, his nose if you had been in my place !
– I should not do anything, like: that 1
– You would. I know you, Jim Boyd !
– This is the beginning,, the middle, and end of their’ policy - bitter, vituperative hatred of the Prime Minister and. all his works* And what have we seen exhibited on both sides, of the House now that the little secret conclave that used to meet upstairs has, been broken up?: At one time we could never get an inkling’ of what was going on there, and we used to hear all kinds of. rumours and stories which we. could not substantiate. Now, however; from both sides contradictions are. heard, and secrets come out; and we now know how the machine’ works;. How is it that all the members of the Labour party, as it then, was, who felt that they had a reasonablechance of winning a seat in. any broadminded constituency, came over, and are now with the. Prime Minister;, while all those who,, like the honorable member for Melbourne and the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, felt that, they would not have “ Buckley’s “ hope if they were opposed to the policy of. Holland and his party, have remained in opposition. The reason is that the- latter knew that their seats would be gone, if they did anything else. The honorable member for Maribyrnong, we- remember, came out of the Caucus door,, and did. not know whether to remain out or go back. He followed thePrime Minister half way down the corridor, and then changed his mind; and when summoned by the Footscray branch of the- League to answer at the bar for hisconduct, he was sick, or in Sydney, or somewhere else. We know, however, that he wired or telegraphed to say that he would be, before the league at the first opportunity, and fully explain to the satisfaction of all why he changed his mind’ and deserted the Prime Minister. When the Prime Minister was in England representing Australia, and the honorablemember’ for Yarra was acting Prime Mini” star, any report or allusion to the work of the Prime Minister at Home caused themembers of the Labour party to stick their chests, out like pouter pigeons. We Liberals, truly felt in the cold shades- of. opposition, but, even when we were in such a position, our feelings were such that the “ ranks of Tuscany could scare forbear to cheer.” We felt a certain amount of pride in the representation by the Prime Minister of the interests of Australia at the heart of the Empire. But the men who cheered him most, and placed him upon a pinnacle of greatness to which few can attain, are the very men who are hounding him down. Save me from my friends, if my friends arc like that! The attitude of honorable members opposite reminds me of a line in a poem to the effect that “ all seems yellow to the jaundiced eye.” The Leader of the Opposition, when replying to the Prime Minister on this motion, seemed to lay great stress on the word “Fusion.” Of course we all know where all this stress came from - the Age. Let me remind honorable members, however, that the Age does not represent Australia, nor the opinion of Australia, and that it affects only a few seats in Victoria. The following is an extract from that newspaper’s report of the speech of the honorable member for Yarra -
That newspaper, the Age, supported the Prime Minister, and not Mr. Tudor. It was a newspaper that many members depended on to get them into Parliament.
The Prime Minister. - How long has the Age been a supporter of mine?
– Longer than it has supported me; in fact, it has not supported me for one minute. You know that unless that newspaper supports the present fusion, ithas no more chance of getting back at the elections than it has of flying.
– Quite correct, too !
– I think I am safe in saying that there is only one seat on this side of the House in regard to which the Age has the slightest influence. I allude to the Grampians, which was won at the elections in 1914 by the Labour party, because that party was then supported by the Age. At the election of 1913 the Liberal party, which was then supported by the Age, won the seat, and when the vacancy occurred, through the death of the late member the Age nominee was again successful. On the other hand, there are four or five seats on the Opposition side that can be affected by the newspaper named. That of the honorable member for Indi is one of them. The Liberal party was opposed in 1914 with all the force which the Age possesses, and all its Victorian members were returned despite that opposition.
– It is only the honorable member and I who can beat that newspaper.
– I had the distinction of being selected for one of two leading articles published by the Age at the time, and in it the statement was made that my representation of Henty was an anomaly that required to be rectified. I had the temerity to reply that if the Age had a standard bearer who would carry its colours, it had better rectify the anomaly, and a gallant colonel was promptly sent to oppose me. The Age advertised his meetings and published his addresses, ignoring mine, but when the vote came, he lost his deposit. So much for the influence of that great metropolitan daily in my constituency. Afterwards, as is usual with it, my opponent was blackguarded for having spoken about the war instead of about politics. I have seen the honorable member for Melbourne - who misrepresents me in this Parliament - take a copy of this newspaper of which he sometimes talks here with enthusiasm, and publicly burn it on the Town Hall platform. He will remember the occasion to which I refer. There are four or five honorable members opposite - the honorable member is not one of them - who are merely mouthpieces of the Age. I should not mention them by name, but any one who reads the Age knows that the questions which that journal asks in its leading article one day are asked by them in the House the next.
– The honorable member does not refer to me?
– No. To advocate and follow its policy, and to ask its questions is” the be all and end all “ of the political existence of those to whom I refer. Since the break up of the original Caucus, the secrets of the charnel house have been coming to light. The most important of them is the fact that the Labour party, assembled in solemn conclave, pressed and cajoled the Prime Minister to secure, when in London an extension of the life of this Parliament.
– That is absolutely untrue.
– It is absolutely correct.
– The honorable member for Henty was not at the meeting.
– No; but there are on this side gentlemen who were present whose word I would as soon take as that of the honorable member. Their statements are evidence of what occurred.
– What man on that side said such a thing?
– The honorable member for Herbert interjected when the honorable member for Indi was speaking before the dinner adjournment that he had asked the Prime Minister at a party meeting to do what I have said.
– He did no such thing.
– Ask the PostmasterGeneral ?
– I believe that the PostmasterGeneral has admitted the truth of what I have stated. So has the honorable member for Hindmarsh. When the honorable member for Barrier jogged the memory of the Prime Minister on this subject, not one gentleman opposite contradicted what was said. Since then, honorable members opposite have taken counsel, and try to deny the statement. The request was made, and a similar request has been made by Labour members of the State Parliaments.
Mr.Fenton. - Thehonorable member will get a good report in to-morrow’s Argus.
– I am trying to enlighten the honorable member as to the attitude of his party. The Prime Minister has said that he received instructions from the Labour party to get the Constitution altered with a view to the prolongation of the life of this Parliament.
– That was a deliberate lie, and he knew it.
– It was absolutely true.
– I draw attention to the interjection of the honorable member for Cook.
– The honorable member must withdraw what he said.
– As the remark is unparliamentary, I withdraw it.
– The honorable member must withdraw it unconditionally.
– In accordance with the Standing Orders, I withdraw it.
– The Prime Minister was told that whatever else he might forget while in London, he must not forget that.
Mr.Finlayson. - Evidently he did forget it.
– By the way, the honorable member for Cook was not here at the time I speak of. He had cleared out of Australia.
– I was here at the time.
– I can imagine the indecision of the Prime Minister, and his saying but “if we should fail,” and the party saying, in the words of Lady Macbeth, when she was determined on the murder of Duncan -
Screw your courage to the sticking place,
And we’ll not fail.
To show the attitude of the Labour members of a State Parliament on this matter, I shall quote from a fac-simile publication . in The Fighting Line, a letter written to the Premier of New South Wales, and give the names of those who signed it, their signatures also being published in facsimile. It was written on parliamentary note-paper, and dated 28th August, 1916. It is worded as follows: -
We, the undersigned, are of the opinion that the question of the continuation of the life of Parliament until the termination of the war might well be considered by the House, and we consider that the notice of motion given by Mr. McGarry would provide a suitable method for the consideration of the. subject.
Those who signed the letter were: - J. P. Osborne, John Storey, who is the present Leader of the Labour party in New South Wales, P. McGarry, Walter J. Boston, Gregory McGurr, James J. Monish, John T. Lang, James Fingleton, A. Edden, James B. Mercer, Thomas Brown, Robert Hollis, P. J. Minahan, R. A. Price, and T. H. Crawford, all, with the exception of Mr. Price, being members of the Labour party. The members of the Labour party of New South Wales asked the Premier of that State to provide for the extension of the life of its. Parliament, and yet members of the same party in this Parliament are protesting against that course. When they see the results of the coming New South Wales elections, they will not be so eager to go to the country. Apparently what ‘they considered right when the Prime Minister was about to go to England on the last occasion is wrong now. No doubt the change of opinion is due to the fact that the Labour party is no longer in office,and does not govern Australia. When the new Labour plank providing for only two
Parliaments comes to have effect honorable members will squeal. It has been asked, why did not Mr. Hughes resign when the people voted against conscription? It is a new doctrine that Parliament having deliberately remitted a question to the electors the life of the Ministry of the day must be closed should the decision of the people be contrary to its proposal. As a matter of fact, I do nob think that the electors did determine the question of conscription in opposition to the Hughes Government. Nearly as many members of that Government were opposed to conscription as were in favour of it. A division took place in the Labour party. Those of its members who did not agree with Mr. Hughes went into opposition.
– The Fisher Government did not resign when a proposal which it put to the people by way of referendum was rejected.
– I was challenged by the honorable member for Indi in regard to the views I hold upon conscription. I said in my own constituency, and in a great many other constituencies, that I was a strong conscriptionist ; that I believed conscription was the proper policy for this country; and, further, that it was not a question that should be submitted to the people. It was a matter to be determined by the Government on its own responsibility, and if the Government, believing that its policy was correct, submitted it to the House, and the House rejected it, the Government ought to go out of office.- I said also that the men of a country who were not prepared to stand up and fight for their rights and liberties had no right to have any privileges or liberties in the country.
– You said that you would put conscription into operation under the War Precautions Act.
– I did not say anything of the kind. What I did say was - and I have not altered my opinion - that I would adopt every possible means to make men do their duty, and fight for their country.
– Did you not say that you would shoulder the responsibility of putting conscription into operation under the War Precautions Act?
– Conscription could not be introduced in that way. I quote for the benefit of the honorable member a little bit of verse that appeared in the
Herald; it seems very appropriate to gentlemen like the honorable member for Cook-
We’re the legion that hasn’t enlisted,
That carries no colours nor crest, No. slip of Gallipoli ribbon,
No silver nor bronze on our breast - Our brothers they left us their blessing,
Our cousins set sail for the front, But we stayed at home with the women,
To help them in bearing the brunt.
That represents the attitude - of a good many men of military age, and I begin to> wonder whether we in Australia are getting into the condition of that great sister republic across the ocean, which allows its flag to be torn Sown by a nation with which it is not at war, its. ships to be sunk, and its citizens to be shot and imprisoned, without any protest except by letter. If Australia is to rear a race like that, it will be better for us to be under a power that is strong enough to,protect us. Some time ago the honorable member for Melbourne said that we ought to pay Russians and Indians to fight for us.
– You do not quote me fairly.
– I could turn up the passage in Hansard, but as the speech was made this session, I would not be permitted to quote it. The honorable member said we could hire Russians and Indians for one-tenth of what we are paying our own men to fight for us on the fields of Flanders. Just fancy a race like ours, sprung from the loins of such ancestors, proposing to employ men to fight for us ! If such a thing were to come to pass, when those people had fought for us, they would be entitled to say, “These Australians are an effete nation, and of no consequence. We have fought for their rights and liberties. We will stay in the country and protect them against the inroads of other people.” And those honorable members who advocate that foreigners should do our fighting would become the servile slaves of a nation that would come to control them. The Leader of the Labour party stated the other day that our policy was expressed by the letters “S.O.S.,” meaning “Save our Skins.” The Opposition’s policy also is “ S.O.S.”- shirk or strike. Honorable members opposite are urging the Commonwealth and State Governments to borrow as much money as possible to carry on public works, and they argue that if that is not done the
Government are endeavouring to establish industrial conscription. Fancy the audacity of some people in saying to the Imperial Government, that is raising thousands of millions of pounds from its citizens, and taxing them in every possible manner, “You must give us money. Be. cause we have sent some of our sons to the front to help you, you must give us money to provide work for those who have remained behind.” They ask the British taxpayer, who has on hand the biggest job on earth, to put up the money to keep a lot of them out of unemployment. Why are so many men out of employment ? Because strikes from time to time are forcing up the prices to such an extent that people cannot afford to pay men the wages they ask. We have heard it said very often that the old gag
About driving capital out of the country is played out. It is not necessary to drive capital out of the country. We have only to destroy confidence and immediately unemployment comes with a slump. That is what is happening in Australia to-day. Confidence in our industrial stability is gone, and the result is that no man will invest his money or his credit in enterprises that are likely to give employment. The coal strike is an illustration of what is happening. In 1913, the export of coal from New South Wales amounted to 6,232,000 tons. In 1914-15, the export was reduced to 2,471,000 tons.
– You know there is no shipping ,to take the coal away.
– The export never reached 6,000,000 tons.
– My figures were obtained from the Commonwealth Statistician.
– Did the Commonwealth Statistician give the reasons you have mentioned for the decrease?
– The Commonwealth Statistician does not give reasons for his figures. If “he dared ,to do so, honorable gentlemen opposite would protest, as they have done in regard to the opinions which Captain Bean has sent from the front, and say, “ How dare you express a political opinion ? “
– Do you not know that there is no shipping to take the coal away ?
– I know that thousands of tons of shipping was laid up in the different harbors of Australia waiting for coal for two months and could not get a ton.
– Some of the mines are now working two days a fortnight.
– The miners have also reduced the day’s work to one shift. In the handling of the coal in Melbourne the work of discharge used to be continuous for the whole twenty-four hours, but now the discharging operations must be confined within a compass of eight hours, six and a half of which the men work. Had operations continued under the old scheme of working throughout the twenty-four hours, the ships would have been cleared in one-third of the time, and there would have been more employment at Newcastle and more trade for the people of Melbourne. Those are some of the reasons for the diminished export of coal. I am not prepared to say that the shortening of tonnage has had no effect.
– It has had all the effect.
– It has not.
– Do you know that the output of the mines now is as great with a less number of shifts as it was before?
– I am not arguing that point. The honorable member for Maribyrnong asked a question to-day as to whether the Government intended to establish steel works. A new industry, one of the biggest and ‘most important in Australia, which was started at Newcastle recently, is being practically ruined through the policy of strikes. There has been almost continuous trouble at these works since they were started. If capitalists are not to be assured of the continuity of their investments, and that they will be able to have faith in an industry, they will refuse to risk their money. These are not the acts of men’ whose hearts are in the winning of this war. No matter how loudly they may protest their good intentions, and their desire to help in every way to bring the war to a successful conclusion, these are not the actions of men whose loyalty can be said to be undoubted.
– They are the men who have sent their sons to the front, and that cannot be said of the members on the Government side.
– I have the greatest admiration for the honorable member, and earlier in my remarks I said that there were certain members of the Opposition who had given their sons and could not give more. But there are also men on this side of the House who have done that much. The question of sending sons to fight for the Empire is not a party matter.
– Those are the men who are winning the war; not the (politicians who blab about it.
– That is what I am saying. Some honorable members opposite are controlled by men outside who are absolutely disloyal, and while the hearts of honorable members may be all right, they are afraid of their seats.
– That is not true.
– Honorable members are afraid of the control of irresponsible bodies outside Parliament, who have them in a grip of which they cannot shake themselves free.
– I have nothing to be afraid of.
– The honorable member has not. He is one of those fortunate members who represents a constituency in which an overwhelming number of the electors supports his views, but that cannot be said of many honorable members. The honorable member for Newcastle is one who can say, “Let us have an election now “; he knows that he will be returned.
– I know many fathers who sent two sons to the war and who voted “ No,” because of the one son exemption and the conscience clause.
– I have no responsibility for the one son exemption and the conscience clause.
– That is what you are supporting now. #
– I am doing nothing of the kind, and the view I have always held and placed before my constituents is that every man between the ages of twenty-one and sixty has an obligation to serve the State, aDd his services should be at the call of the State when the State requires them. It should not be left to the individual to decide whether he should serve or not.
– Could not men over sixty years of age help by subscribing to the loans?
– The rights, liberties, and privileges we enjoy under our Constitution demand from us the service that our country requires for the preservation of its integrity and existence in time of war.. I yield to no- man in my desire te see compulsory service established for every man. between twenty-one years and sixty years of age throughout the length and breadth of this country. I have always believed in the principle, and I will always advocate it, because in no other way can we lay claim to any rights to hold a territory that other nations of greater numbers and greater power may come and take from us» by force. If we were independent of the Mother Country, whose destinies are being fought out at the present time - if ,a majority of the people of Australia wereto say, as was said during the recent referendum campaign, ‘ ‘ We have had enough, we are going out of the war, Australia has done her share ‘ 1 - I venture to» say it would be a very short time indeed before this country would be under the despotic heel of another power; and if we had to rely on the men who have stayed at home to defend it, it would be the? worst day Australia has ever seen.
Mr. ANSTEY (Bourke) F9.18]. - I listened to the honorable member with great, interest. Of course, there are some honorable members anxious to go to the country ; probably the great majority of us areanxious to do so-; at least we say we are; and seeing that the great majority say they are anxious to put these issues tothe test, and that it may be the last opportunity I may have of speaking in this, chamber, it may be a good thing for me to make a last dying speech of confession before going to the country.
I might be quite prepared to admit with the honorable member that the working classes of Australia are very bad, that they have involved the country in ruin, that they are disloyal, that it would be a. very good thing if the organizations were abolished, and that it would also be a good thing if all strikers were put in gaol and wages were lowered; but, after all, that kind of talk has nothing to do with the question before the House.
I may as well say at once that much which has been said by the honorable member in reference to honorable members on this side of the chamber does not apply to me, because for cer-: tain reasons I was not in attendance at the Caucus meetings for a long period, but I have heard, not merely from thehonorable member, but also from others, that people say “ Let us shout ‘ win the war,’ and we shall be credited with patriotism.” There are- many able-bodied men walking about the streets of Melbourne who are great, patriots, and! are making great sacrifices for their country with their mouths, but their services are not available at the front. With all due respect to the honorable member who has just resumed his seat, I can only say that when I listen to speeches such as he has given us I am reminded of a speech de,livered by Mr. Chamberlain before the Glasgow University. Speaking of a period in British history, he said,. “There was no boroughmonger so corrupt, no officeseeker so servile, and no scribe so scurrilous but did not deem himself a patriot, and every man who dared to disagree with him was a traitor to his country.” We are getting much of that kind of thing to-day. In the brief time that I shall occupy the time of honorable members I may cover ground already covered, to some extent, but when the honorable member for Henty says that no man on this side of the House has been able to discuss any public question without offering a tirade of abuse against the Prime Minister, and that the hostility of honorable members on this side is not so much in regard to the question before the Chair as it is to the man who stands at the head of the Government, I say that the honorable member’s remarks have no application to me. Since I have been on this side of the chamber I have not made one personal reference to the Prime Minister here or on the public platform. My attitude has been entirely different from the manner in which the Prime Minister has picked out myself for special denunciation, and upon this particular matter I propose to occupy the attention of honorable members for a few minutes to-night.
What is the present position? If the condition of the country necessitates it, I have no objection to the prolongation of the life of this Parliament, but there must be certain conditions under which the prolongation takes place. As I occupy a seat in this chamber, I have no particular objection to the prolongation being extended to the period of my existence; but it is not a question of suiting my particular convenience; there are some principles that have to be considered, so far as honorable members occupying our positions do consider principles, and not their own personal interests.
The motion proposes an alteration of the Constitution, not .by the ordinary process by which all constitutional changes are effected, but by securing an edict of the
Imperial Parliament ; and the first object of this is to enable the Government to pursue in undisturbed continuity its policy, whatever that may be. If anybody knows what it is, I shall be glad to hear it, and examine it.
The second object is to enable Australia to be represented at the Imperial Conference, which will be fraught, as the Prime Minister has said, with the future destinies of this country. Let us not forget those words when we are told that we are not to be compromised by anything done at that Conference. My point is that this resolution is to be presented to the Imperial Parliament by a party, a majority of whose members were rejected by the votes of the people in 1914. The Cook Government went to the people with their policy, and were hurled from the Government bench. Therefore, the majority of the Government party consists of men who were rejected by the people.
Conscription, of course, is not the policy . of any particular individual, but the conscriptionist policy, as it represents the definite policy of the bulk of the meD on the Government side of the House, was also put to the country within the last few months, and rejected, in spite of the efforts of a united press and the power of unlimited purses, and in spite of the fact that all the agencies of Toryism were behind the Government, while the Labour movement itself was divided. The votes of the people spurned and cast into oblivion the policy presented to them. Therefore, we Have, at this particular juncture, a Ministerial party, a majority of which was rejected by the people at the polls, and whose war policy, so far as it was presented to the people, has also been rejected by them.
I do not deny that this is, as the Prime Minister has said, a time of great national emergency. He says that in this time of great national emergency it is often necessary to do what we are not justified in doing, and what we would not dare to do in times of peace. I agree with him. I remind honorable members that. I was the first to enunciate a doctrine of that kind, and it brought on me the hostility of the members of the party with which I was associated. Soon after the war broke out, I proclaimed the unlimited authority of the Government to utilize its war powers, and because I asked that they should be employed in a particular direction, in order to demonstrate that there was a Labour way of administering the war policy as well as a capitalistic way, honorable members said that my proposal was foolish, and could not be carried out. To-day they are affirming what I then proclaimed. If the fate of a nation is at stake I claim we should not stand on technicalities. If needs be the Constitution must stand aside for the time being in order that the nation and its industries and its people may be preserved, but at least the Government that is going to handle affairs should be one that possesses the confidence of the people. If this request is to be presented to the Imperial Parliament it should come from a Parliament that has come direct from the polls and occupies its position by reason of the votes of the people, and not come from a Government, the majority of whose members were cast aside at the last election. Moreover, it should come from a Government whose policy has been presented to the country, as far as it .can be presented, and been accepted by the people, and not from a party whose policy, so far as it has been presented to the people, has been rejected by them. In this case we have a’ Government that does not come direct from the people and the polls, and whose policy, so far as it has been presented, has been rejected at the polls. I claim that it has no right to put forward proposals for the prolongation of Parliament. The Government has only one thing to do. It must come back from the polls demonstrably a Government indorsed by the people before it can put forward any such demand for prolongation. On these grounds I oppose the motion, not because it is not necessary, but because it is not put forward by a Government that has demonstrated its indorsement by the people.
– But if the Government had just come back from the polls what sense would there be in asking for the prolongation I
– Of course there would be no need for it in those circumstances.
Now let us come to the next position. The Prime Minister has said that the prolongation is necessary in order to carry on undisturbed the policy of the Government. What is the policy of the Govern ment? They say, first of all, “We will respect the decision of the people on conscription - until we deem it necessary to ignore it.” What is their industrial policy or their policy in regard to the Tariff? The Prime Minister says, “The time is not ripe for a change in the Tariff ^ but we will change it whenever circumstances make it possible.” What is the financial policy of the Government? They say, “ We will re-adjust the finances as circumstances may’ deem necessary.” What is the attitude of the Government in regard to the development of industry ? lt will develop industry and make the re-organization in industrial processes that is necessary. How and when? They say, “ We will bring science to bear for the development of industry,” but there is no statement whatsoever as to how or by what processes it will be done. They go on to say, “ We hope; we have faith; we have every confidence.” In what? “ That we will do whatever we do not leave undone, but nothing in particular.”
– It is a gelatinous compound.
– Thanks for the reminder. In 1912 when Mr. Deakin, speaking as a representative of the Deakin-Cook alliance, declared a somewhat similar policy, the honorable member for Flinders went to Aspendale ana? made a famous speech. He said, “ What can be said of the policy of the Government except that it is a gelatinous compound?” What was said then can be said now. The honorable member said, “It is a programme from which everything that means anything has been carefully extracted.”
– The honorable member for Flinders is a great asset to honorable members opposite.
– What would they dowithout him?
– I have no objection to the honorable member for Flinders, but it is useless for the honorable ‘member to ask me that question. I feel in good humour with every one, and disinclined, to do any one an injury. At present I am a most unwarlike man, and should like to live in peace. If I were a fireeater, like some honorable members opposite, I should not be here- I would be in the middle of the fight, my little bayonet in hand. As it is, I am as far away from the scene of conflict as I can get. The Age at the time to which I am referring described this policy as “ a mass of vague generalities without a :shred of meaning.” That is what we shall get from the present Government. It is inevitable.
Mr. Deakin once said in this Chamber ; when he was a member of a Coalition of ;course he spoke differently - “ Coalitions -cannot form opinions. They can have no defined policy, because they are composed of men of conflicting views.” We have this Coalition then because the members of it want to carry out a policy of - what ? “Nothing 1 In industry - nothing ! In finance, nothing! In the matter of Tariff, nothing! In regard to conscription - well everything will depend .upon whether or not it is safe to bring it in. “We cannot say whether we shall have it or not. The Government have no policy. They want long years of undisturbed continuity of office. They desire peaceful possession of the Treasury Bench in order that they may carry out a policy of nothing !
Another reason, we are told, for the <desire of the Government to carry this motion, is that we are to have an Imperial Conference. For what? A voice has come to us from over the deen. The honorable member for Maribymong, a few days ago, asked the Prime Minister what was the purpose of the Imperial Conference, and was told that it was for nothing in particular outside the conduct of the war, and the laying down of the terms upon which the Allies would ac<cept peace. Are we expected to believe for one moment that the conduct of the war in Europe, at the present time, is going to be altered, by one iota, as the result of the Prime Minister, or any other representative of Australia going Home ? Are the delegates from Australia going to alter the course of the war ? I understand that, amongst the claims made by the Prime Minister, is the statement that he turned back the great Russian and other disasters that were overtaking the Allies at the time that he arrived Home. I understand that he claims to have laid down a line of action which entirely changed the course of the war and brought about a number of the victories achieved by the Allies. But all this talk as to the conduct of the war being altered bv our delegates at the Imperial Conference must go by the board. It is mere piffle. Our delegates will not have any more voice in the conduct of the war than we have at the present moment.
– No one says that they will.
– I beg the honorable member’s pardon.
The Prime Minister has reiterated from platform after platform the statement that one of the purposes of the Conference is to consider the conduct of the war. In reply to the honorable member for Maribyrnong he also said that the Conference would consider the terms of peace which1 the .A Hips would lay down. Does any one believe for a moment that the delegates from Australia are going to dictate the terms of peace to be accepted by Russia or France? There will simply be an interview between the Imperial Government on the one hand and the delegates from Australia on the other.
– Does the honorable member think that Australia could turn down the Imperial invitation?
– No. I am merely discussing the purposes for which it is said the Conference has been called. These, according to the Prime Minister’s answer to the honorable member for Maribyrnong, were the two purposes for which the Conference has been convened, and apart from them, he said, there was no agenda paper. On Friday, however, the Prime Minister told us that the Conference was to consider the conduct of the war, peace terms, and preferential trade. Preferential trade with whom? We know what the right honorable gentleman has said regarding our relations with certain Allied nations. We are told that we cannot carry on self-government in this country at present, because of reasons of State, and because of the opinions expressed by one of the Allied powers. To what ‘ then are we to be committed? The Prime Minister went on to say, on Friday; that the Conference would also consider the relations of the ^Allies. What are they to be? To what extent are the destinies of Australia to be determined by this Conference 1 To what extent are the wishes of the masses of Australia to be considered, so far as the relations of this country with Allied nations are concerned ? Are one, two, or three men from Australia to ask the Imperial Government what shall be the policy laid down by the Parliaments of the outlying Dominions ? The Prime Minister went on to say, last Friday, that the Conference would, also consider the development of the resources of the Empire, the trade of the Empire and the constitution of the Empire.
Is it true, as announced in a cablegram from New York the other day, that, amongst” other proposals to be considered, will be the formation of a kind of Imperial Cabinet, in which Australia and the other outlying Dominions are to be represented, and which is to be over and above the Parliament and the Constitution of Australia ? Is it true that there is to be a super-Parliament, which is to lay down our relations with outside nations? Then, again, the Prime Minister said that the constitution of the Empire and the control of the Pacific would be considered by the Conference. To what extent are we to be committed in that direction ? The Japanese Prime Minister was reported in the American press’ quite recently to have said - and the statement appeared in cablegrams published in this city - that “ Japan is to-day absolute master of the Pacific, and her mastery is not to be disputed.”
These, then, are some of the questions to be considered; but they are not all. The Prime Minister went a bit further a day or two ago, and said “ These were not all; there were hundreds of others to be considered.” If our delegates are to go unpledged, and unable to make any binding contract with the Imperial Government, what will be the value of their assurances to the Imperial authorities? If they do give a pledge, what becomes of our power of self-government? One of the curses of this country has been the fact that various public men who have gone Home as delegates from Australia have compromised us, and compromised us to such an extent that we have had in certain cases to take up a determined stand. When certain schemes have been proposed in the interests of Australia we have been told that they cannot be put into effect because Mr. So-and-so, on behalf of Australia, entered into certain compacts with the British Government. I very much question how far Australia, at this particular juncture, is justified in giving power to any man, or any set of men, whatever may be their political opinions, to go Home and discuss and determine any matter Which will commit the destinies of the country to any one, two, or three men. We must be wise andcareful.
I come now’ to the composition of the proposed delegation. Who are the men into whose hands the destinies of this, country are to be placed; and who are to determine such questions as its relations with other countries and the control of the Pacific? We have, first of all, the Prime Minister. He has claimed that he is fairly entitled to go Home and’ speak for the working Democracy of Australia. He says that he will be as good a representative of Australia as there isin this chamber. I am not going to waste time by arguing that point. I am prepared to admit it. But I say that the concessions, the votes and the decisions to which the Australian Democracy will be committed at this Conference will not rest upon the voice of the Prime Minis,ter. They will be determined by the votes of the two gentlemen who go with him. They will be two to one. And who are they ? We have, first of all, theright honorable member for Swan, concerning whom I have not one word of disrespect to offer. He has rendered greatand honorable services, in a particulardirection, to this country. He has been a public man in probably the highest and best sense. He has, I believe, followed the light of his judgment honestly and honorably. He looks forward to the development of Australia, and I would! not say that he wished ill of this country,, or of its inhabitants. But countries aredeveloped by ideas, and there is a conflict of ideas, good and evil. Time and: experience alone can prove what is best, for a country and its people. If the right honorable member for Swan held me in as high respect as I hold him as aman, he would still refuse to vote for me as a representative of Australia at the Imperial Conference. He would do so,, not because of any disrespect for me, but. because he would know that my opinions, and conceptions of what is necessary tomake, the country great are absolutely in conflict with his own. In like manner, I say that, having regard to the whole course of the right honorable gentleman’s: public career, we must recognise that he has always been strenuously opposed toprinciples which we have believed to bein the best interests of Australia, and which experience has proved to be important factors in making the country greater instead of weaker. Proposals which he and men of his type have prophesied as likely to bring ruin and disaster have proved, in some cases, to have been in the best interests of the development of Australia. On these grounds, therefore, i would not vote to send him as a delegate to the Imperial Conference. And what applies to the right honorable member will apply equally to the honorable member for Flinders. I need not go over old ground. We know where the honorable member stands in relation to all progressive legislation. We know, too, that he is an Imperialist rather than an Australian. He is a representative of the master type of man rather than of the working Democracy itself. This is not a question of personal likes or dislikes. I should no more vote - nor could the great mass of the working Democracy vote - to place the representation of Australia in the hands of Sir William Irvine than he and those who think with him could think of voting to send a man of my type and inclinations to the Conference to represent the Commonwealth. He stands . to me as absolutely incapable of representing the ideals and longings and the essential policy which make for the development of the country on the lines, not of a few rich men and a vast body of poor, but of a great collective ownership by . the people and for the people. I ask honorable members to believe that I am speaking in no personal sense, but endeavouring to discuss a public question. The Age of 7th May, 1.912, expressed the views of thousands of working men in this country when, speaking of the honorable member for Flinders, it said -
He stands for everything which the capitalist holds dear, and the worker detests. And this is the type of politician with which a professedly progressive party is asked to form a permanent and effective junction. The repulssiveness of such a junction stands out in all its native ugliness, and it ought to make any man of radical instincts scout it as he would the introduction of a plague.
There is the position. The Government is an absolute negation, so far as regards a policy. The idea of men, in no way bound to this country, going 16,000 miles to sit down in an Imperial Conference - to discuss a number of questions, we know not what, and to commit us to, we know not what - and thus to bring us into relation, not merely with Allies who are European, but with Allies who are Asiatic ! These are not the men to whom, at this juncture in our history, the people, if they had a vote, would commit the future of this democratic country.
– Why would you not consent to take a hand ?
– I shall deal with that matter before I sit down. What does this Conference mean for Australia and its welfare ? It will deal, not merely with a definite policy in regard to the war, and in regard to finance, but also with a definite policy in regard to organization. There is not a country in the world that does not realize the vast problems that will have to be confronted after the war. When the Prime Minister went to England, he, in March of that year, made a speech to the Imperial Chamber of Commerce, in which he said -
Let us devise a policy which will cover every phase of our national economic and social life. Let us no longer pursue a policy of drift. Let us set sail on a definite course. To postpone consideration of broad principles until after the war will make the possibility of a change of policy most remote.
– These are good sentiments, are they not ?
– I knew that the honorable member would make a sensible interjection. These are good sentiments, but they were expressed 16,000 miles away. If they contain advice good enough for the Empire and its industries, is the advice not good enough for practice here ?
– Yes, and will be.
– “ Will be “-always in the future. That reminds me of Mr. McLellan, who at one time represented Ararat in the VictorianParliament, and who, in answer to a question as to whether he was in favour of a certain policy, said he was, and, further, that he had been in favour of it at the last election, and the election before that. The point is, not what we are in favour of, but what we intend to do.
This. Government has no definite economic policy. It is an absolute blank. The Government and its supporters may talk at large, but nothing is going to be done; and this country, after the war, will see a gigantic industrial chaos. We talk of preparedness, but we have no definite policy with which to meet the situation after the war. My attitude and my opinion as to the war have been clearly and definitely expressed on the platform, in the Caucus, and in this Chamber - not merely to the gentleman who stands at the head of the Government, but to the members of the party whom he previously led. I have expressed myself honestly, and, I hope, fearlessly, and I see no particular reason now to alter my opinions. Here are vast problems of internal and international policy to be solved by the Imperial Conference. What is the duty of the Prime Minister who purports to represent the country and speak for it? It is to say, “ This is my policy, and here are the legislative enactments by which I propose to put it into execution. We propose to go to the Conference, and here are the matters that are to be discussed.” The Prime Minister made two statements; one that there is no agenda paper, and that we are to give him a blank cheque, and another that there is a whole set of items to which Australia may be pledged. His duty as a public man is to state what is to be discussed, and to what extent we are to be pledged. But he does not do so; these things are all swept airily aside. The honorable member for Henty will see that the Prime Minister comes within the category to which he referred.
– The Prime Minister never said he would pledge the country to anything.
– Just so. . I have said clearly and distinctly that it does not rest with the Prime Minister, whose vote is only one. These things, however, are all glossed over. The Prime Minister does not discuss great public problems of real interest, but in the Parliament and on the platform indulges in constant denunciation of the men with whom he was previously associated. I came into this Parliament in 1910, and in the following year, when a large, number of politicians went Home, the first referendum was initiated. Up to that time I had not come into close contact with the present Prime Minister, but I had heard in New South Wales that he was a pretty “ swift “ man - that lie was pretty tricky, and had to be watched. However, when I saw the magnificent way in which he fought that referendum - the energy and intelligence he displayed in his untiring struggle on the platform and in the press - I wrote him a letter in which I informed him of the general impression of him I had received from another State, and told him that that impression had been swept away. . For my expression of apprecia tion of his wort he wrote thanking me, and from that time I stood solidly behind him. When this war started I had no disagreement with him in particular ; my disagreement was with the Labour party generally, and its policy. I disagreed with those honorable members who followed the more timid steps of Mr. Andrew Fisher, and I looked forward to that gentleman’s going away, because I thought that with the honorable member for West Sydney we should have a bolder and more progressive policy. By God ! we have a bolder policy, but I do not know about the other thing!
– You got a part of what you wanted.
– The Prime Minister got a part of what he wanted, and that was the Prime Ministership.
But we got nothing but what was carried out in the Old Country; whatever the Old Country did we slavishly and rigidly copied. A striking example of this is found in the censorship. There is not another country in the world, not even Russia, in which the censorship is applied as in Australia. In England the Naval and Military authorities supervise all the Military and Naval news for the press, but apart from them, journalists and other civilians who under- ‘ stand the needs of the public, are employed in the work. Here, however, we have a number of cast-offs who could not earn a living in an ordinary occupation, but who are made censors with varying military rank. In England, newspapers, leaflets, pamphlets, and cartoons are circulated freely which are prohibited here. That is an illustration of how we “ outHerod Herod,” and carry the censorship to excess. But I had no objection, and never criticised the Prime Minister in any form or shape to show that I was disappointed.
He then went to England, and came back with the idea of submitting . the conscription issue. As to the hostility which has been spoken of, who commenced the personal hostility in this Chamber? I opened the campaign in New South Wales, and from the beginning I refused to be drawn into any personal discussion on the purity of the motives of the Prime Minister. No matter where the meeting might be, in Sydney or anywhere else, if ever an observation or interjection was likely to leave an opening for personal attack, I not only carefully avoided it, but absolutely refused to be associated with anything of the kind.
– You were exceptional !
– That may be; but, by God, the Prime Minister did not treat me as an exception, as was shown by his references, and the methods he adopted in regard to myself. He picked me out from all the members of the party to hold me up to public odium; and, if anybody can justify that, I cannot understand it. The Prime Minister turned away from public questions to attack his own comrades. He talked about our “ vituperative tongues,” and about “slanders” that we uttered; and immediately afterwards proceeded to use the very language and tactics he had decried and condemned.
There was a Labour manifesto of 1914, and that manifesto was brought up against the Prime Minister several times by the honorable member for Parramatta. This manifesto, however, was like every other political manifesto - a thing of words, which might mean anything or everything - what you wish. This manifesto, the Prime Minister said, the Labour party was pledged to support. This is the man who talks about ‘ 1 free ‘ ‘ union, ‘ free ‘ ‘ men, and a ‘ ‘ free ‘ ‘ country - who talks about ‘ ‘ responsible ‘ ‘ government, and about every member being “ responsible “ to his constituency. He goes into a back. room,, and drafts a manifesto, after the men have gone to the country, and gets the signature of the honorable member for Newcastle to the document. This, he says, was a pledge to him, and, therefore, was a pledge to everybody else. As a matter of fact, anybody could have agreed to the manifesto, even an ardent member of the Industrial Workers of the World, or a member of the Women’s National League.
The Prime Minister told us that it was absolutely necessary that the six industrial referenda should be carried. When honorable members asked him why. he replied that they were imperative and necessary for the effective prosecution of the war; that the war could not be prosecuted successfully unless these six referendum questions were carried by the people. Had any member of the party then said that he would not subscribe to that, he would have been told by the right honorable gentleman, “ You are act: ing contrary to the manifesto, because it says ‘ everything that may be necessary,’ and I declare these things to be necessary.” But suddenly, like the infant Samuel, he heard a call in the night, a voice from over the water, telling- him to come to the Imperial Conference. Royalty desired him to bask in the sunshine of the Court. Thereupon he said, “ This is not the time for the referenda. Let us drop the blasted things. We do not need them.”’ When asked, “How can we drop them ? Are we not bound by the manifesto?” he replied, “ In dropping them you will be true to the manifesto, which sa3rs ‘ everything- that may be necessary,’ and it is necessary to drop them.” Did the right honorable gentleman think that he was playing with kiddies ? The manifesto was to bind us when he wanted the referenda, but was not to bind us when he wanted to drop them.
Then, before he went to London he said, “ There shall be no conscription for service overseas,” and was honestly opposed to it. Was not that, too, in accordance with the manifesto?
– You know why you let him go Home?
– I was not in the Caucus then. I was not following a crawling policy. I never had any complaint to make. But I remember gentlemen who did complain until they got what they wanted.
– I always spoke as I thought.
– Yes, until you got the goods delivered over the counter.
– That is why the honorable »,ember is where he is now.
– That is what troubles honorable members opposite.
– It does not trouble me, but it would be better for the honorable member to remain silent at the present juncture. When, the Prime Minister was opposed to conscription, the manifesto that he has referred to covered him. Having returned from England he declared conscription necessary, and said, “ You must stand bv the manifesto.” It was the same manifesto that we were required to be loyal to when he was opposed to conscription. Now he says that he will accent the decision of the people on the subject.
– For how long ?
– I do not know, but conscription is so longer imperative. Somehow we will manage without it. Yet he is still true to. the manifesto. If tomorrow he were to change again, and advocate conscription, he would still declare himself true to the manifesto. Whether it be winter or summer, whether it blows or is calm, everything is covered by the manifesto. All who fellow him, notwithstanding his variations, are true to the manifesto. “Follow me,” he says, “no matter whether, like a weathercock I point now north, now south, and you will be true to the manifesto. All who do not follow me are false to it.” He said last week that we were bound by the manifesto to give “ the last man and the last shilling.” I was surprised at that utterance, because I remember- that he used to point out the literal absurdity of the offer. The sentiment was a fine one, but he said that you could not live up to it.
– It got the Labour party a few votes.
– Whatever our political opinions, we are all after votes. The “ last man and last shilling “ promise looks well on a placard, but if it were carried out literally the country would be a desert. There would be no power of reproduction, and, as nothing would be left, it would” not matter if the Germans did come. With no men here and an overplus of women in their own country, nothing would be gained to the Germans by coming.
When these facts were stated during the referendum campaign, he said that those who mentioned them were slanderers, that he had no intention of bleeding the country white. “ We know very well,” he said to his public audiences, “that we must keep a fair proportion of our men to carry on the work of production, and to maintain those at the front.” I do not know whether he forgot those statements when, last week, he revived the “last man and the last shilling” gag. When he is the last man, where, I should like to know, will be the last shilling?
Speaking about the Labour party, he said that we were Germans, or in the pay of Germany, and the pawns and mouthpieces of outside organizations. A member of the Liberal party asked, “ Why do not the members of the Labour party join the coalition, and form one great national Government?” To that it was objected that the Prime Minister had left us. Then some one - I think the honorable member for Denison - said, “He did not leave you, he was expelled from the Labour party . ‘ ‘ Thus it appears that he did not leave this party of Germans, of men bought with German gold, men who were the mere pawns and mouthpieces of outside organizations, traitors to their own country. He did not leave them, he had to be expelled from their company. This is the honest man ! At Bendigo he poured a stream of abuse upon me, referring to me as an individual caught in a house of ill-fame, who excused himself on the ground that he was there to distribute tracts. I thought to myself at the time that, at any rate, I had an excuse ; that the possession of tracts was evidence that the reason of my visit was the conversion of those on the premises. A Christian, anxious to save souls, might visit such a place with a purely moral purpose, especially if he were carrying tracts. But had the Prime Minister such an excuse ? No. He says in, effect, “It is true that I was there. I did not gather up my skirts in virtuous indignation and fly from this house of ill-fame; the inhabitants pushed me out. Only after they had done that did I denounce them.”
That is the Prime Minister’s position. He did not speak of the members of the Labour party as traitors to their country, men bought with German gold, and the rest of it,, until he had been expelled from the party. What did he say after he had been pushed out, and after denouncing those, who had expelled him ? He said, “Gentlemen, I am still anxious to proceed, I am anxious to do good, and so I will associate myself once more with those I previously denounced on the public platform as hostile to every sense of decency and humanity, as enemies of the human race, and as men of ill-repute. I am prepared to associate myself with -them again oh condition that they guarantee and secure me in my position and my emoluments.” What honour, what virtue, what purity, what a Prime Minister!
– I thought you were not abusive ?
– That is not abuse. For three months I have been silent. It is time I had something to say. That is the man who, when he went Home the first time, had to go bv himself. Nobody else was called upon. He was the only one wanted, and there was not a man in this Parliament fitted even to button his boots for him. None of us could go even as mere attendants on him. None of us could even for one brief moment bask in the sunshine of his smile. None of us could in his company enjoy even a glimpse of the glitter of the Court. He was sufficient for empires. He could direct the course of nations. He could save Australia. He could tell Lloyd George how to conduct the war. He was the great “ I am.” He went away and returned with honours thick upon him, and for a few short weeks he was still the one man. The world did not want any other, and nobody else was to go. Then he found he could not go, because we would not follow him. He, therefore, had to coalesce, and the Liberal party said to him, “ You cannot go by yourself, Billy; somebody else has to get a little bit of the sunshine as well as you. You pushed Andy out of the sunshine, and sent him away as High Commissioner.” He said to Mr. Fisher, “ Let me have a little bit of the sunshine, or nobody will know I am alive.”
When he found that he could not go by himself a remarkable thing happened, for almost at the same moment Lloyd George had an idea that there ought to be three delegates. Is it not marvellous ? Then the Fusion took place. Among other things the right honorable gentleman said, “Look at the world to-day. Look at the spectacle it presents. We only in this country are disunited.” If any of us were to say things like that he would be regarded as a slanderer. What is the spectacle that the world presents to-day, and has been presenting ever since the war started ? We have seen assassinations in Austria and Russia; dismissals, resignations, withdrawals in all countries; admirals torn from their ‘places, generals from their positions, and readjustments of Governments throughout the whole period of the war. while we alone have been enjoying unity of action within the sphere of politics. They talk of unity in Russia ! We know what has happened there. They talk of unity in France and England, but what has it been? In England members of all parties have been tearing: each others’ throats ever since the war started. They have been seeing how one could clutch down another, while shouting about their loyalty to their country, and these are the men who have been talking about unity amongst the working classes, and protesting against men asking for higher wages to buy a little more food.
The members of the Parliaments of this Empire of ours ever since the war started have been . seeking to destroy each other. When the war started Asquith was amongst the highest, and now none so poor to do him reverence. Earl Grey at the beginning of the war was a great man. To-day he is an unknown figure cast into the dustbin of” failure. Yesterday’s Herald states that McKenna and Runciman-
– Is that why you want to do the same with the Prime Minister ?
– I have no personal animus against him. The honorable member missed the first part of my speech, where I dealt with questions affecting the war and questions of policy. I then spoke of the Imperial Conference, and the matters to be discussed there, and pointed out that the Prime Minister avoided those questions, and dealt with others, in order to divert public attention from the questions that did count to those which, after all, did not count. The Prime Minister endeavours to slander us by insinuating that we are a crowd of men trying to create discord by doing something which is not being done in other countries. The Manchester Guardian, in its. issue of 20th December, stated: -
At the most critical moment of the war 207 deputies out of a total of 552 refused their confidence to the reconstructed Government. And one of the most striking circumstances is that all the deputies that have been at the front were against the Government.
France, therefore, has had a reconstruction of Government within the last few months. So has every other European country of importance.
We have in the present Fusion in Australia a repetition of the situation in 1904, when Mr. Deakin took a section of his followers over to Mr. Reid’s side. It was, I think, on that occasion that the present Prime Minister uttered his strong denunciation in The Case for Labour. He wrote that “ there are once or twice in a generation periods when a great party under the influence of some powerful and malignant purpose drops its principles and goes over to the enemy.” The same thing is exemplify 1 to-day. What Mr. Deakin did in 1904 is exactly what the right honorable member has done in 1917. The right honorable gentleman wrote at that time, “ What matters the fate of those who trust him 7” He was speaking of Mr. Deakin - “ When they cease to be useful to him He sells them.” Mr. Deakin himself, before he joined the Coalition, described’ the great bulk of the members who sat on that side bb the wreckage of all the parties that had failed - the wreckage of the Black Labour party, of the anti-Socialistic party, of the Free Importing party. Look at the line of fusion leaders the Commonwealth has had - Sir George Reid, Mr. Deakin, Mr. Joseph Cook, then Mr. Deakin and Mr. Cook again, and now Mr. William Morris Hughes. That is the line of succession of the leadership of the parties that have failed, of those who, in the history of this country, have always represented the most reactionary faction.
Whatever the failures, the limitations, or the shortcomings of the Labour party, whatever it should have done, or may not have done, there stands the spectacle of a man, Prime Minister of a country as Mr. Deakin was, not by the will and support of the people or of the forces in the country that made him a publics man,’ but by means of an alliance, behind the backs of the people, with men who have been the avowed enemies of every principle that he professed to support and ‘ indorse. And these things are said to be in the interests of .the country. Always there is Borne excuse; always they are casting the blame on others. In 1912, when the last Fusion was in existence, the Manchester Guardian said, “Mr. Deakin leads to battle the entire Toryism of the country.” What waB true of Mr. Deakin in 1912 is true of William Morris Hughes in this particular hour of our history. Commenting on that statement the Age said, “In the . unanimity of the Tory leagues we have daily evidence that this is true.”
History is repeating itself to-day. All the powers of Toryism, every ring, trust, and combine, everything that the Prime Minister denounced for long years, and by opposition to which he derived the political breath by which he lived - all these are the forces and agencies that stand behind him. At this hour of crisis he has taken his place as the lineal descendant of Mr.’ Deakin in the leadership of the great Tory parties of this country, and it is with such parties and such traditions that he may contemplate himself in the mirror of history. I leave him to that. -
I say to the honorable member for Henty that this is the first time in my political life that I made one disparaging reference to the honorable member. I cannot live in public life - and be long associated with men, dangle their little children on my knees, sup with .them, dance with them, and sit with them - I cannot be associated with men for long periods, regarding them as good fellows, and then, because of a diversity of .political opinion, go forth and denounce them as iniquitous. My God ! how could this man denounce as the enemies of their country men with whom for long years he had been associated, and assail, not only their methods, but their motives? This is the man who says that we in this House are mere pawns in the hands of outside organizations. To that charge there is but one answer - it is a lie 1
In conclusion, let me say that the question before us is not the conflict of parties or of individuals. This country confronts the greatest crisis in the world’s history. In the face of that thing we are nob divided. That great issue is not to be settled by personal animosity, but by considering the problems of our relations to the Allied countries and to the Empire, and our internal policy. And I. care not what man or body of men may put before me a clear and definite policy as to how this country may be placed in a state of preparedness to meet the great period of crisis that will follow the war. Give me such a policy and I will follow that man and that party as the instrument by which we shall attain that particular thing for which the country calls.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Archibald) adjourned.
House adjourned at 10.25 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 28 February 1917, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1917/19170228_reps_6_81/>.