6th Parliament · 1st Session
The Clerk having informed the House of the unavoidable absence of Mr. Speaker, Mr. Deputy Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– The other day, the honorable member for Wentworth asked -
Will the Minister representing the Minister for Defence inquire into the rumours prevalent in Sydney that the Sydney Bulletin office was raided by officers of the Defence Department for having criticised the* methods of the Defence Pay Office? If the rumours are found to be correct, will the Minister report to the House the grounds upon which this interference with the newspaper were based?
I promised to bring the matter under the notice of the Minister for Defence, and have been furnishedwith the following reply: -
The Sydney Bulletin office was not raided by officers of the Department. Probably what is referred to is in connexion with an article which appeared in the Sydney Bulletin of. the 4th January, which was obviously compiled from official files belonging to the Defence Department. The Bulletin was called upon, under the powers conferred by the War Precautions Act, to disclose the name of the writer of the article in question.
Report of the Joint Committee on Public Accounts on the manner of submitting the Estimates, Budget, and Treasurer’s Financial Statement, presented by Mr. Charlton, and ordered to be printed.
– Can the Minister for Home and Territories inform the House if the embargo against the travelling of women to Great Britain is generally enforced, and will he tell us the purpose for which it has been instituted?
– The embargo is generally enforced. A strict embargo was imposed following upon a communication received from the British Government about a fortnight ago, and no exceptions have been made. There were, however, some twelve or fourteen women on a vessel homeward bound which had to call at Fremantle, and the question arising what ought to be done in their case, I took certain action, and communicated what Bad been done to the Imperial Government. Otherwise, there have been no exceptions. The case of which I speak did not fall within the wording of the Imperial Government’s communication; but I thought it well to let the Imperial Government know what I had done.
– Are wives prohibited from accompanying their husbands overseas, even though these husbands may be the delegates to the Imperial Conference?
– In matters of administration, it is wisest to wait until a case arises before dealing with it. I can only say that no wives are permitted to accompany their husbands on a voyage to Great Britain.
– I ask the Minister’, since he now says be intends to deal with all cases en their merits, whether he thinks any woman can have a better right to visit England than the wives or mothers of Australian soldiers on active service?
– I decline to deal with hypothetical cases. Each case must be dealt with as it arises. What I have said is that, in consequence of a communication received from the Imperial Government, we cannot now issue passports to women and children desirous of travelling to Great Britain ; though I do not say that some women and children have not got away from Australia since that communication was received. I have issued no passport, that would enable women and children to proceed to the United Kingdom through the danger routes.
– As a wrong impres- sion might be created by the reply of the Prime Minister to a question asked yesterday by the honorable member for Maribyrnong, I ask the right honorable gentleman how strikes can be interfering with the output of the Broken Hill Company’s steel works, seeing that the mines which supply those works with coal are working only two days a week for want of orders 1 ‘
-I can only repeat the information that has been given to me of these matters, having no personal knowledge. The Broken Hill Steel Company has made to us officially the statement thatits output has been seriously retarded by its inability to get coal. Now, the honorable member asserts, in effect, that it has not been retarded. Ishall make inquiries into the matter.
– As the Public Accounts Committee has reported fully , regarding the proposed Commonwealth Supply and Tender Board, will the Prime Minister say when the Government will establish such a Board ?
– The Government has not had an opportunity to consider the matter. As soon as a decision is arrived at, I shall communicate it to the House.
– I have received the fol lowing telegram from Brisbane: -
Understand the Federal Government propose prohibition of American apples. Fruit merchants here oppose such action, as Queensland will be without apples from October to January.
Is it the intention of the Government to prohibit the importation ‘ of American apples into Australia?
– -The Government has not yet had an opportunity.’ to consider its policy on the matter; but were such a prohibition determined upon, Queensland, which has insisted on the prohibition of the importation of foreign sugar, and has for months corralled all the meat in the Commonwealth, should be the last State to complain. This Government has to consider the welfare, not of one State, but of all,
– In view of the promised phenomenal maize crop in New South Wales, will the Prime Minister provide facilities for. the export of surplus maize from that State to the Old Country?
– The only provision that can be made is that of shipping. The British Government has now stated what imports it will admit. I do not observe maize on that, list, but representations “will be made to the British Government, and, as far as possible, every effort will be made to meet the requirements of the industry.
– In view of the fact that’ maize syrup is largely used in- Aus-. tralia, I ask the Prime Minister whether he does not think that the Government should encourage its production here rather than the export of our surplus maize?
– This is a very difficult House ‘to please. Oh one side, we have an honorable member asking that our surplus maize shall be taken out of the country, while on the other we have an honorable member asking that it shall be kept here. I picture myself floating about luxuriously in a great vat of glucose. I have stated the position as to the facilities, for getting the maize away. The utilization of Australian products which cannot now find a market oversea is a question that must impel the earnest and immediate attention of the Government. Among such products is maize, of which we are promised a tremendous surplus. The Government will consider how far it is possible, by the encouragement of local manufacture, to deal with the question.
Prejudicial Publications. - Visitors to Parliamenthouse
– I have here certain papers that were handed to me by a clergyman, together with an accompanying note, which he received, saying that there was a large quantity available for distribution. They profess to be of a pacifist character, but the whole tenor of them appears to me to be distinctly prejudicial to recruiting. I ask the Prime Minister to examine them, and to say whether the distribution of such printed matter should be tolerated. Will he inquire, if he can find means of doing so, as to the money that is behind the distribution of such matter?
– I shall examine these papers. I see that in one of them, which is described as an “ A. P. A. Leaflet,” a gentleman named Cassidy writes about “ the folly of fighting to a finish.” The Cassidys must have become degenerate. I shall examine these papers.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister, whether, noting the large number of hale, hearty young men who can be seen day by day in the galleries of both Houses, it would be permissible for a recruiting sergeant to attend there with a view of obtaining enlistments for the front? .
– I think that the honorable member himself could at least do as well there as any one else. I shall bring the matter before the Director- General of Recruiting.
Position of Rockhampton
– Having regard to the great discontent which has been aroused in the city of Rockhampton by the decision of the Wool Board. not to recommend Rockhampton as an appraisement centre, will the Prime Minister be good enough to supply the House with a full and complete answer, containing therea sons why the Wool Board declines to recommend that port as a wool centre?
– I have already, promised to do so. As soon as the report comes to hand I shall make the House acquainted with its contents.
– Will the Prime Minister include in his answer a statement as to whether a section of the growers in Central Queensland is objecting to Rockhampton being made an appraisement centre, and, if so, whether those objections are coming mainly from the large financial institutions to whom the growers send their wool?
– I will ask the Wool Committee to cover that point in the answer it gives.
– As rumours are being continually circulated in New South Wales that a great deal of discontent exists amongst the guard at the German Concentration Camp at Holdsworthy, and that far too much latitude is allowed the. internees there, will the Minister representing the Minister for Defence consent to the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into the system and conditions prevailing there?
– I shall bring the honorable member’s question before the Minister for Defence.
Case of Mr. G. P. Philpotts
– Can the Assistant Min ister for Defence tell me why Mr. George E. Payne Philpotts, married man, and one of the first members of the dental profession to take an interest in Army dentistry, was refused a commission in the Dental Corps,, seeing that he was among the very first to offer their services for the front?
– I shall cause inquiries to be made.
– I ask the Minister why was Dr. C.H. Griffiths, L.D.S., M.A.C.D., refused a commission in the Dental Corps? Also, why is it that so many single men are retained in positions in the Dental Corps when they could go to the front, whilst married men are refused such positions?
– I will inquire into the matter.
– I ask the Minister, also, why should Major Hall, Dean, of the Faculty of the University of Melbourne, after fifteen or seventeen years of military training, hold a position at Victoria Barracks as head of the Dental Cor,ps which could be filled by Major C. Morley, who has just returned from active service in France ?
– I will endeavour to get an answer to the honorable member’s question.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Defence aware that members: of the Signalling Corps, which was mobilized at War Point, Cheviot Hill, had leave granted regularly when they consisted of only sixteen men, whereas, now that the corps has been increased to twenty-three men, no leave is granted, and no addition has been made to the supply of rations? Further, is the honorable member aware that the supply of food is not half enough for the men?
– I am not aware of the facts as stated by the honorable member, but I shall have the matter inquired into.
ANSWERS .to Questions.
– I ask the Minister for Home and Territories whether, in view of the vague answer he gave yesterday to my question in reference to the imprisoned Maltese, and the full and definite statement that he has given! to the press, the House is to understand that questions put by honorable members are to be side-tracked, and the information sought to be elicited given immediately afterwards to representatives of the press ?
– I confess that I have not read the paper this’ morning ; therefore I do not know what is in it. I gave no information of an extensive character to the press in reference to this matter. If there appears in the press what the honorable member has stated, it must be due to. the writer’s* fertile imagination. I cannot recall anything I said yesterday which was vague, having regard to the facts within my knowledge at the time. The amount of information I gave to thehonorable member was limited by the inadequate knowledge I then had of thefacts. If the honorable member desires more information he ought to address hisquestion to the Prime Minister, who hasbeen’ in charge of this matter until recently, i
– In view of the large number of enlistments for the railway unit in excess of the number required, and the promise of the honorablemember for Denison that the late Government would take into consideration the necessity for the formation of a. second railway unit, will the AssistantMinister representing the Minister for Defence say whether any decision’ in this matter has been arrived at?
– I will inquire whether any decision has been arrived at and inform the honorable member to-morrow.
The following papers were presented : -
The War Peace proposals.
German Note, communicated by the United States Ambassador, 12th December, 1916. (Paper presented to the British, Parliament.)
United States Note, respecting the prospects, of peace, communicated 20th December, 1916. (Paper presented to the British Parliament.)
Reply of the Allies to German Note, communicated 30th December, 1916.
Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations. Amended- Statutory Rules 1917, Nos. 27, 28, 39.
– In view of the prohibition of the import of apples into Great Britain, will the Prime Minister endeavour to give facilities for Inter-State trade so that Western Australian apples may be brought to the eastern States if there should be a market for them ?
– Already I am endeavouring to make arrangements, which I hope to be in a position to submit to the Government soon, to deal with the whole of that portion of the apple crop which would have found a market in Europe. It is hoped that these arrangements will be of such a character as to substantially relieve exporters of most, if not the whole,, of the loss which would otherwise fall upon them.
– Has the Prime Minister any objection to laying on the table the rates of freight paid on the various products of Australiathat are sent abroad in transports?
– All matters relating to freight on all steamers leaving Australia are now in the hands ofa committee called the Shipping Board, upon which the Commonwealth Government has representation. The greater portion of the freights is determined by the British Government, which now controls all shipping that leaves Australian ports. With the exception of the fifteen Commonwealth steamers all shipping has been requisitioned by the Imperial authorities. I cannot lay on the table the rates for which the honorable member has asked, but I will endeavour to ascertain them, and as far as possible communicate them to him.
Importation of Benzine and Kindred Products.
– I have received from the honorable member for Echuca a letter notifying his intention to move the adjournment of the House to discuss a matter of urgent public importance, namely, “ the importation of benzine and kindred products into the Commonwealth by enemy and alien companies, and the injurious effect to our primary producers, and also to labour, by the importation of such in tank steamers.”
Five honorable members having risen in their places,
.- In submitting this motion I desire to remind honorable members of Germany’s effective system of espionage, and how important it is to Germany that she should have means of obtaining information in regard to what we are doing, and how vital it is that we should prevent her by every legitimate power we possess from getting such information. This system of spying is being employed to-day to a large extent through the instrumentality of what may be called interlocking companies. The Germans call this process their peaceful trade penetration system, and as evidence of how they receive information from Australia I may quote the following words from an article by Mr. Keith Murdoch in yesterday’s Melbourne Herald: -
Since every spy in Britain knows that our Third Division is having its baptism of fire - and in view of the German boasts of the speed with which they get Australian information, it is probable that Germany heard the news from Sydney also.
That is one of the many evidences to be found that information which is of importance to us and of great value to our opponents is finding its way through what we consider illegitimate channels into the information bureau of the enemy. I have with me a mass of information culled from various official sources, such as the Stock Exchange Year-Book of Australia for 1915-16 and the London Stock Exchange Intelligence for 1915-16, and other publications, but I do not wish to weary honorable members by reading them. I shall quote from them from time to time in order to prove that there is in existence in Australia a company which is enemy controlled, and has it in its power to convey to the enemy information which should not be conveyed. I compliment the Prime Minister on the great energy he has shown in weeding out all German influence in connexion with the metal industry, but there is just as great and urgent a need for the same thing to be done in regard to the oil industry. If it is dangerous for us to have enemy trading in our midst, it is doubly dangerous when that enemy trading in our midst is being carried on under British names. The other day the Prime Minister received a deputation from the AntiGerman League, which protested against enemy countries trading here with British appellations.
– What did he say?
– I believe that he gave a sympathetic reply, and told the deputation that he would give their representations consideration if they couldproduce specific cases.
– Of what use is that ? We want action to be taken.
– I am prepared to submit a specific case. I would not be justified in moving the adjournment of the House if I were not prepared to do so. My impeachment is against the socalled British Imperial Oil Company. Unquestionably the adoption of this name has secured for the company very considerable patronage from the public. Many particularly loyal persons -would prefer to trade with the company because of the name it bears. It is one of a large number of so-called companies, some thirteen or fourteen in number, having community of interest,’ and all working together under the same directorate; and the name of one man who figures in all of the companies as manager or director is H. W. A. Detterding. This gentleman is variously said to be a Dane, a Dutchman1, or a German. I am not prepared to prove his German nationality, but I assert on the very highest authority that he has very large German interests; and it is averred that he is employed by the German Secret Intelligence Department. He lives in Holland in close proximity to the borders of Germany, and he holds the thread of all these interlocking companies to which I have referred. I shall quote from the articles of association of the British. Imperial Oil Company, which have been lodged in Melbourne, in order to prove that he is the sole director of that company. Article 57 of these articles of association reads as follows: -
There shall be no board of directors of the company,, but the business of the company shall be carried on and the functions and duties of directors discharged by a manager or managers. The first manager shall be H. W. A. Detterding, who shall remain in office until he resigns or ceases to occupy the position of managing director of the Asiatic Petroleum Company Limited, whichever event takes place first.
This is one of the interlocking companies, and the colossus over all is H. W. A. Detterding. As there is no board qf directors, he governs and controls the British Imperial Oil Company; he has absolute control over the local manager. The particular danger of the situation lies in the fact that Germany has been
Bo cute in getting information from us, and this is the very sort of thing that lends itself to the German authorities getting what they require in that direction. If, as has been alleged, this person’s association with Germany is such as I have said, this company’s operations in Australia are a matter of particular danger to the Commonwealth, and to the Empire as a whole,, and by all legitimate means we should endeavour to prevent any company of this sort trading in our midst. A glance at -the balance-sheet of this company will show the bogus nature of the concern. The balance-sheet dated the 7th March, 1911, shows a loss of £14,605 on a capital of £20,000, and there is a note attached to the effect, that the amount charged to Asiatic companies for 90 per cent, loss from 1905 to 1909 is £132,995. I do not know what reason they have to carry such great losses.
– On a capital of £20,000 ?
– Yes; the capital has been, increased, but it was £20,000 at that time. Preceding the British . Imperial Oil Company was another concern of which H. W. A. Detterding was the presiding genius. This was the Shell Transport and Trading Company, for which the firm of Gollin and Company acted as agents. As they had failed to file a balance-sheet the Registrar of Titles had occasion to write to them for it, and on the 21st January, 1906, the British Imperial Oil’ Company wrote to the Registrar of Titles as follows: -
We now enclose copy of the Shell Transport and Trading Company’s balance-sheet for the year 1904. We have applied to the company for the balance-sheets for the years 1902 and- 1903. The balance-sheet for 1905, owing to the wide ramifications of the company, will not be available until the end of December this year, when we will be glad to furnish you with a copy. We might perhaps explain that the Shell Company do not now trade in Australia, their business having been transferred to the British Imperial Oil Company, and their tanks and instalments leased to that company for trade purposes.
On 31st January, 1916, Gollin and Company wrote to the Registrar as follows: -
We have carefully perused the balance-sheets, and to the best of our knowledge and belief the reserve fund is used in the ordinary course of business, unless one can state that it’ is invested in shares of other companies. We observe that the Shell . Company own a large number of shares in apparently subsidiary companies. We do not, however, think these companies are independent concerns.
– We ought to have a quorum to listen to this matter, which is too important for members receiving from £48 a week downwards to neglect. [Quorum formed.)
For instance, the Asiatic Company is largely owned by the Shell Transport, and some of the directors are also directors of the Asiatic Company. t
The Shell Transport and Trading Company is the parent of two companies, one of them doing business in Great Britain, and the other in Australia - the British
Petroleum Company and the British Imperial Oil Company respectively-
– I regret to have to draw your attention te the lack of a quorum.
– That is not fair.- There is a deputation outside. [Quorum formed.’]
Mr.- PALMER. - Those two companies are twins, and under practically the same management. I shall prove, from information in my possession, that the one doing business in Great Britain is essentially a German company. According to the reports of the House of Commons debates for 24th November, 1914 -
Mr. E. Cecil, M.P., asked if the Government were at present under contract with the German company, of which 99 per cent, of the shares were held by Germans, for the supply of petroleum products to the Army, and if the Government would discontinue obtaining supplies, from this or similar companies during the war. Mr. Barker, in reply, said that the British Petroleum Company was, of course, the concern referred to by the honorable member. The Government did have contracts with that company for the supply of petroleum spirit lor the . aircraft, and also for mineral burning oil. The Government was not prepared to discontinue obtaining such supplies.
In the same volume, a further question addressed by Mr. Terrall, M.P., to the President of the Board of Trade, is reported as follows : -
Mr. Terrall, M.P., asked the President of the Board of Trade if he had appointed a comptroller to inspect the books of the company, 99 per cent, of which were German with Government contracts. Mr. Robertson (Board of Trade) said an inspector had been appointed to control the British Petroleum Company, but -did not think it wise to inquire into the source of supply to that company. In fact, contracts with it were not made direct. It appears that subsequently a supervisor was appointed to the British Petroleum Company, and such supervisor will look after the business until after the war.
It appears, and that is the fact, that the British Government have appointed a comptroller of this company.
– I find a difficulty in counting twenty-five members in this chamber. Is it not time we went to the country when we cannot keep a quorum? [Quorum formed.]
– I have the report of a speech made by the chairman of directors of the Shell Transport Company of Great Britain.
– I still fail to count a quorum, sir.
– The honorable member, if he takes up that position, must do it in the ordinary way.- I have counted the House, and stated that there is’ a quorum present.
– Will you count the House again?
– Does the honorable member call for a quorum ?
– I do, so long as tha Government fail to keep one. [Quorum formed.]
– The report is as follows : -
At a meeting of the Shell Transport and Trading Company, Sir Marcus Samuel, a chairman of directors, said, “ Our contract for distribution of petrol through the British Petroleum Company Limited, which is owned by Germans, and after the war will be controlled by them, will not come, to ,an end until the 1st January, 1917.”
That was at the last annual meeting, in August last.
– Did he explain why- he allowed the British Imperial Oil Company to handle his products ?
– He said-
The representations as to the great harm that has been caused to our trade through our contract with the British Petroleum Company fell on deaf ears, and we are still legally unable to determine the contract with them. We see daylight now, and after 1st January all users of Shell spirit will be able to obtain it from the Shell Marketing Company Limited.
The Shell Marketing Company is only a substitute for the British Petroleum Company. Sir M. Samuel is the chairman of the Shell Transport and Trading Company, and the subsidiary companies all have him on their directorates or as their direct manager. In this particular speech he declaimed against the Petroleum Company, and announced the formation of another one, which the British public have received with- as much suspicion as the first, and with which they are refusing to trade. I adduce another peculiar fact to show that the company is not such a company as its name and registration imply. In 1912 the British Imperial Oil Company increased its capital by 18,000 ?10 shares, thus bringing it up to ?200j000. Of these shares 14,370 were allotted to the AngloSaxon Petroleum Company and 1990 to the Asiatic Petroleum Company, and 1 share -each to seven other persons. If this is a British company, as it. is ‘alleged to be, why did alien and German companies come to its rescue by taking shares in it when, upon their own showing, they had lost such a huge sum of money? The fact is that the companies are one and the same. The odium of being a German company, or a twin brother to those so considered, must rest on the British Imperial Company. Great damage is done to the Australian trade by the importation by this company of oil in tank steamers. When this method of importation was inaugurated it was regarded as a commercial triumph, but it has proved to our disadvantage. The company imports about one-fifth of the motor spirit used in Australia, the importation of oil from the East Indies during the year 1915-1916 being 11,890,000 gallons, or over 42,000 tons. The bringing of oil in bulk in tank steamers means the loss of employment to our people. I am informed that were the same quantity of oil imported in ordinary vessels, ten times as much labour would be given to this community as is given by the importation of oil in bulk, whereas the saving that is effected does not benefit the local consumers.
– I regret to have to ask you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to count the House. [Quorum formed.]
– Furthermore, we desire that vessels that bring cargoes to this country shall take away our produce to other places. Great Britain in particular is in need of our wheat, and wool, and other products at this time, and it is difficult to get sufficient shipping for our needs. These oil vessels come here with their cargoes, pump the oil out of their tanks, take in water for ballast, and go away, carrying with them little or no cargo. “Were the same quantity of oil brought in ordinary vessels, there would have been space in them for the exporting of 462,000, bags, or 42,000 tons, of wheat last year. That may not seem to be a large amount of space for the purpose, but we must remember that Great Britain is now prohibiting the importation of certain commodities with a view to releasing space equivalent to 125 vessels of 5000 tons each for the transport of cargoes more urgently needed. It is our duty to assist the Imperial Government by prohibiting the employment of these tank ships.
– Would the same objection apply to vessels that transported wheat in bulk ?
– The oil-tank vessels are not able to carry wheat. If we were not obtaining oil from this alien company, the other companies would he prepared to guarantee to keep us fully supplied by means of ordinary cargo steamers, which would be available for taking away our wheat and wool.
– How could they give that guarantee seeing that the British Government has control over all British shipping?
– The time allowed to the honorable member by the standing order has expired.
– I desire a short extension. [Leave granted.] It may be urged that if we shut out this company’s oil we shall decrease our local supply and increase its cost, but I do not think that that would be the effect. I am satisfied from what I have heard, and I have been diligent in seekinginformation, that sufficient oil for our, needs would be brought here by other companies in ordinary cargo vessels, which would be available for taking away ourproduce.
– What would the honorable member do with these tank steamers?
– As they belong to an alien and enemy nation, it would not matter to us if they merely rusted.
– If you are proposing to take over an enemy company’s business, why not use its plant also?
– That, perhaps, is a valuable suggestion. I do not think that tanksteamers should be employed to bring cargoes here, remembering the importance of exportation. I do not know what powers the Prime Minister possesses, but I wish to make it plain that we would not be dependent on any one company were this company prohibited from trading. A number of oil companies do business in Australia. There are the Texas Oil Company, the Neptune Oil Company, the Vacuum Oil Company, James Wardle and Company, Crosby and Company, H. C. Sleigh, John Fell, and W. Angliss and Company. All these firms are doing business in oil, and some of them are prepared to sell oil at a considerable discount on the prices asked by the Shell Company. Our position in this matter is different from thatof Great Britain, where oil supplies are in great demand. There the owners of motor cars are allowed only limited quantities of oil. When I was Home recently, I learned from a friend that he was allowed only 8 gallons a month. Here we can get all the oil that we need, even if we shut out this enemy company. Were the German submarines to enter the Indian Ocean, their success would largely depend on their ability to obtain oil supplies, and they would be greatly assisted by an enemy company trading here with oil. That fact in itself is enough to justify the Government in inquiring into this matter very carefully. I am satisfied that when the details have been looked into, Ministers will come to the conclusion to which I have come, namely, that this is an alien company, and that it is in all probability, owing to its intimate relationship with Detterding, also an enemy company. The Government should see that the company is prohibited from trading here. There are other matters that I could deal with in this connexion,but in deference to the desire of the Prime Minister to reply, I shall not say more at the present stage.
– The precise national status of the British Imperial Oil Company is a matter about which we have considerable doubt.
– May I ask that there shall be a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
– The matter has been under the consideration of the Government for some time. Statements have been made to us which do not differ in essence from those put forward by the honorable member for Echuca, and there is some reason for believing that the only thing about this company that is British is the first part of its name. No doubt if the company is able to answer the charges brought against it, it will do so, Its status has been, and is now, subject to the closest scrutiny. We are endeavouring to follow the thousand and one ramifications of its organization, but, as the honorable gentleman knows, there are circumstances surrounding the oil industry generally which make investigations difficult. The oil supply of Australia should engage the attention of every honorable member. We have in this country deposits which, being developed, ought to supply all our needs. To what extent their immediate development is possible remains to be seen. Something has been done in that direction; very much more can be done; and the Government will endeavour to see how far this can be aided by any effort of its own.
There is only one other phase of this subject on which I shall touch. It is that of freights. I am not inclined to attach very much importance to the possible gain of tonnage from the suggested change at this juncture, although normally I should be in agreement with the honorable member. At the present time, no American freight that could reach these shores would take away any of our products, for the simple reason that we are not able to sell wool, wheat, or, indeed, any of our: products to America.
– Does the right honorable member allege thatthese companies would not take our products to Great Britain on the return trip?
– I do; I am sure they would not. We have tried to divert American shipping for the round trip, and have failed. The honorable member’s point is a good one, although its application in present circumstances, which are quite unusual, and have developed only within the last month, is impossible. I give the honorable member the assurance that the question of the status of the British Imperial Oil Company is engaging the close attention of the Government, and that it is our intention, at all hazards, to root out German . trade, no matter under what name it masquerades.
The Commonwealth Government, as such, is vitally interested in the oil question. It has had reason quite recently to regard the operations of the British Imperial Oil Company with disfavour. Our requirements for the Navy are great and growing; and the need for having within the Commonwealth oil supplies for Commonwealth naval purposes is not only great, but urgent. I have no more to add, except to repeat the assurance that . the Government will carefully consider all the facts that the honorable gentleman has put before it, and endeavour to find some solution.
.- The question which the honorable member for Echuca has brought before the House is one of the most important that could engage bur attention. Knowing that I hold this view, he will readily understand that, in asking for a quorum while he was speaking, I didnot intend to cast any personal reflection upon him. I was influenced only by the consideration I have mentioned.
– It was owing to the absence of members of the Labour party that there was no quorum.
– That is not correct.
– Only two of them were here when the question of enemy trading was being discussed.
– Inaccurate as usual. In the Dutch Archipelago, which was held by conquest under the British flag from 1805 to 1811, there are hundreds of suitable places for an enemy base. Any captain of a vessel who sails the Southern ‘ Seas, who goes to the New Hebrides, to the Solomon Islands, or to any group of islands between Australia and the mighty continent of Asia, will say that there are hundreds of thousands of suitable sites for enemy bases there. I would ask the Prime Minister what action he has taken in regard to the Continental Tyre Company. Is it not a fact that an unnaturalized German, whose only virtue is that he is rich, isallowed to walk up Collins-street smoking cigars from day to day, while poorer Germans are interned.? I give that fact to the people - the creators of Parliament - in the hope that they may be induced to give us a new Government, and not the mixture we have in front of us. The one man who seems to bestride the European oil world is Detterding, who controls the oil from Europe nearly as strongly as Rockefeller controls the oil. produced in America. The Mexican war has been largely a question of oil - a question of whether the British or the Americans shall be in the. ascendant in the control’ of American oil’. As one President of Mexico is pulled down, another is put up. Maduro was probably assassinated as the result of money sent from Europe to secure control of the oil supply there. We have in Australia depositsof shale which will produce oil, and, despite our war expenditure, we ought tobe able to spend a little in developing such resources. We have power to refuse a clearance to any ship the master of which declines to leave an Australian port except in ballast..We should refuse clearances to these vessels unless, they are prepared to carry away our produce, a great deal of which is food for rats and mice in the stacks at Williamstown. The man
Detterding, to whom I have already referred, is the managing director of the British Imperial Oil Company, and has said that he must remain the managing director as long as he is the managing director of the Asiatic Petroleum Company. Action should be taken by the Government in regard to enemy aliens who carry on business in this city under British names. We see Greek restaurateurs deluding people by trading underEnglish names. One such restaurant keeper has the English name of “ Black “ painted on his windows; while another,” whose name I am told is Michael,trades under the name of “Mitchell” Every business man should be compelled to’ display his own name over his place of business. In Russia, Prance, and Germany, aliens are not allowed to trade under assumed names. [Quorum formed.] I have the name of one firm which I am not free for the moment to give to my fellow citizens. It also includes the name of a combine the members of which will be pilloried some day, I hope, by the Governmenb. Men who have dirty kitchens have supplied private information to the Treasury to get out of paying their dues to. the Government. If . honorable members desire further information on this subject, I refer them to Plisch, the man with the dirty kitchen down town. The honorable member for Hindmarsh, who has just interjected something, when Minister for Home Affairs put his signature to a file of papers, at the instance of Colonel Miller, in which there was an untruth. I appeal to the Minister for the Navy to have inquiries made in regard to the Continental Tyre Company. I want the sympathy of the right honorable gentleman, whom I should like to see leading the Government. He is a more honorableman than is the Prime Minister, but he has been thrown aside. Is it not Mark. Antony who, in the play of Julius Caesar, exclaims -
You all did see that on the Lupercal
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse.
Heaven only knows why the right honorable member for Parramatta has not been made Leader of the Government. He is a man of experience, and as Prime Min- . ister would have had a fair show at my hands. In the Directory of Directors, 1916, published’ in London by Thos. Skinner and Co., of 76-81 Gresham House-, OldBroad-street, B.C., I find these names - Mr. Henry Neville Benjamin, 8 Albert-court, Kensington, S.W., is a director of the Asiatic Petroleum Company Limited, Gronzy-Sundja Oilfields Limited, Shell Transport and Trading Company Limited, United British Oilfields of Trinidad Limited;- Mr. A. V. Dunlop Best, 7 Rutland-gate, S.W., is a director in the Alliance Assurance Company Limited, National Bank of India Limited, Shell Transport and Trading Company’ Limited; Mr. Robert James Black, 38 Prince’s-gate, S.W., is a director of the Anglo-French Textile Company Limited (chairman), Colonial and Foreign Banks Guarantee Corporation, London and Hanseatic Bank Limited, Mercantile Bank of India Limited (chairman), Shell Transport and Trading Company Limited, Siam Forest Company Limited; Mr. R. Waley Cohen, 11 Sussex-square, W., is a director of Anglo-Egyptian Oilfields Limited, Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Company Limited (joint manager), Asiatic Petroleum Company Limited, Brunei Petro,leum Company Limited, California Oilfields Limited, Gronzy-Sundja Oilfields Limited, New Schibaieff Petroleum Company Limited, North Caucasian Oilfields Limited, Shell Transport and Trading Company Limited, United British Oilfields of Trinidad Limited;- Mr. H. W. A. Detterding, managing director of the Asiatic Petroleum Company Limited, St. Helen’s-court, Great St. Helen’s, E., is also on the board of the Anglo-Egyptian Oilfields Limited, Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Company Limited (joint manager), California Oilfields Limited, Gronzy-Sundja Oilfields Limited (chairman), New Schibaieff Petroleum Company Limited, North Caucasian Oilfields Limited, Shell Transport and Trading Company Limited, Ural Caspian Oil Corporation Limited, Royal Dutch Petroleum Company, British Imperial Oil Company; Sir Reginald MacLeod, K.C.B. Vinters Park; Bexley, is a director of the Anglo-Egyptian Oilfields Limited, Gresham Fire and Accident ^Insurance Society Limited (deputy chairman), North Caucasian Oilfields Limited, Railway Debenture and General Trust Company Limited, Railway Share Trust and Agency Limited, Shell Transport and Trading Company Limited. I wish to call the attention of the Minister for the Navy to the fact that many of these persons, who have adopted English names in order to deceive the English public, are nothing but dummies.
– I call attention to the absence of a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.– The honorable member for Echuca deserves the gratitude of the House for the characteristic courage and straightforwardness with which he has placed this matter, before us. There are one or two phases of the subject, however, that -challenge passing notice. In the presentation of his case the honorable member offered an argument which, in itself, is rather vicious, viz., that we ought to prohibit the use of a certain company’s products, not only on the broad grounds stated by him, and with which I. agree, but on the further ground that the company employs tank steamers, which lead to a decrease of the Australian labour required for handling its product. If the honorable member will consider for a moment he will realize that the sama, argument might be applied against the bulk handling of. wheat, and against every up-to-date method for the handling of goods in any country in the world. If his contention were applied all round, Australia- would become another China - a back-water in the world’s progress. The honorable member interjects now that his objection is not to the bulk handling, but is founded on the fact that these tank steamers cannot carry away any other goods. There is a vast amount, of reason in what the Prime Minister said upon that point. The right honorable gentleman pointed to the fast that American shipping coming to Australia with American goods does not carry our exports to England, where we wish them to go.
The honorable member for Echuca has made out a prima facie case, and the Government is bound now to take - action - which must, however, follow upon a very close investigation. I do not think the honorable member would claim that on the case- he presented to the House to-day the Government is necessarily bound to at once prohibit this company from selling its products in Australia, but the Government should certainly do something more than order the ordinary departmental scrutiny of the company’s operations. It should institute at once a close investigation, and, if that investigation proves the honorable member’s case, should consider how far it is possible, in the circumstances of the company’s outside sources of production, to acquire or use its products through an agent or controller, and thus carry on the company’s operations for the benefit of Australia, and not of the enemy. I disagree from the honorable member when he said that to suddenly cut off one-fifth of Australia’s supplies of oil would not detrimentally affect our community. We could not do Australia’s industries a greater injury than to take that step, unless it be absolutely essential. Petrol is a power very widely used throughout the cities of Australia and for lighting and motor purposes in the country, and we as a community could not be helped by the further rising of the price of the commodity, which has already been increased from about1s.1d. to 2s. 6d. per gallon, unless we see very grave grounds, such as the honorable member has suggested, for taking that step. I rose mainly for the purpose of urging upon the Prime Minister that he should order a particular and special inquiry into this matter. It is of no use to have a loose general control by the Attorney-General’s Department. We have had such control in other matters, and it has been unsatisfactory.
In the early stages of the war I urged upon the Government the total prohibition of the use of enemy trade marks and descriptions. A considerable time after the mater was first ventilated the then Hughes Government accepted the proposition, and everybody thought that it was to be put into operation. As a matter of fact, that policy has been put in universal operation, except in regard to the two trade names of “ aspirin “ and “ lysol.”
– I regret that I must draw attention to the fact that there is not a quorum present. [Quorum formed.]
– Honorable members will recollect that the argument which led the Government to accept the proposition to prohibit the use of enemy trade marks and descriptions in Australia was that unless some such step were taken we should be protecting, during a state of war, German ownership in the goodwill of those articles, and after the war the original German owners would step in and again derive the benefit. In respect of every trade mark and description, with the exception of the two I have mentioned, this embargo has since rested, but it seems to be impossible to move the Government in regard to the names “ aspirin “ and “ lysol.” In the first place a licence was granted for the local manufacture of aspirin, the ingredients of which are well known to every doctor; the drug itself is manufactured by dozens of firms throughout the world under different names. It was the name “ aspirin “ that was of value to the German producer. Instead of preventing the use of the name in Australia the Government has seen fit to grant a licence for the local production of the drug under the name “ Nicholas-aspirin.” Originally the licence was granted to four persons, three of whom had German Christian or surnames. The man to whom the licence has now been given has the English name of Nicholas, but his Christian names are “Harry Wolff.”. When visiting Sydney a few days agoI noticed that the whole window of a German chemist’s shop contained nothing but Nicholas-aspirin. That fact may be merely coincidental but I am confident that every patriotic German will do his utmost to keep alive a trade name like “ aspirin,” because of the value of it to German manufacturers. We must wipe out this sort of thing, and I ask the Minister for the Navy to look into the question, and see whether he cannot stop the special exemption that has been extended to the holders of aspirin and lysol patent rights.
– There is no quorum present. [Quorum formed.]
– The Solicitor-General has informed me that the Department has made a search of the birth certificate and place of origin of the gentleman who is licensed to manufacture aspirin, and although his name is Harry Wolff Nicholas, and although his three associates in regard to the original licence all carry German names, he is an Australian, and his father was born in Liverpool, England. But if the Minister will look into the window of the chemist in Sydney to whom I have referred, he will see of what value the continuance of this, licence is to German industry. I dare say that German chemists throughout Australia do not hesitate to make a special line of this particular product. It is probably a very excellent product, as good as any other product of this well-known drug that is manufactured; but do not forget that the keeping alive of the name of the German article cannot fail to be of service to the
German holders of the patent rights after the war.
In regard to the matter raised by the honorable member for Echuca, I think the time has come for the Government of this country to prevent fraud upon the patriotic feelings of the community by the use by enemy agencies of English titles for their companies. It should be made Illegal for other than Australians to use Australian frontispieces for any ventures they undertake, and a company’s title should be a guarantee of its composition. I think the Government should step in and see that all these concerns bear the right names and general descriptions, that no Germans are permitted to start a company and call it, for example, the Australian Continental Tyre Company, and that no German influence can call itself - if the honorable member proves his assertion - the British Imperial Oil Company. If these concerns are to have colours under which to sell their commodities, let them trade under their own colours, and let them not defraud Australian patriotism.
– I had the pleasure of introducing a deputation to the Prime Minister prior to his departure to England on the question of the use of German names in connexion with chemicals and drugs, and the manufacturing and retail chemists of Australia then pointed out how easily the particular commodities to which the honorable member for Wentworth has referred, namely, aspirin and lysol, could be manufactured in Australia. It is very evident that the Germans do not care what steps we take so long as we keep their trade names alive. Many people are under the impression that aspirin and lysol are chemicals, whereas they are merely combinations of well-known trade commodities. When we talk about fighting the enemy trade, surely we ought to have sense enough to wipe out the names that the Germans have patented and applied to these particular combinations. If the British authorities do not care to coin names for these products, let us do it ourselves, so that people may know that these articles are not chemicals, but are merely combinations of well-known lines under special names. When the honorable member for Melbourne was speaking, he was placing on record certain names of im portance in British communities which appear among the directorates of many companies, and though I may be charged with wasting time and material in continuing that list, and in having it recorded in Hansard, I propose to do so, because the list will be easy of access in the columns of Hansard. Mr. William Foot Mitchell, J. P., of Quendoh Hall, Essex, is a director of the Chartered Bank of India, Australia, and China, and a’ managing director of the Shell Transport and Trading Company Limited. Sir Marcus Samuel, baronet, alderman, of 3 Hamilton-place, London, W., is a director of the Alliance Assurance Company Limited, chairman of directors of the AngloEgyptian Oil Fields Limited, the AngloSaxon Petroleum Company Limited, the Asiatic Petroleum Company Limited, and the Flower Motor Ship Company Limited, and he is chairman and a managing director of the Shell Transport and Trading Company Limited. Mr. Samuel Samuel, of 25-27 Bishopsgate, E.C., is a director of the Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Company Limited, the Capital and Counties Bank Limited, and the Flower Motor Ship Limited, chairman of directors of the Magadi Soda Company Limited, and a managing director of the Shell Transport and Trading Company Limited. Mr. W. H. Samuel is a director of the Brunei Petroleum Company Limited, the ‘- California Oil Fields Limited, and the Magadi Soda Company Limited, and a managing director of the Shell Transport and Trading Company Limited. Some of the names that have been given are very doubtful, but I happen to know that Mr. Samuel Samuel is a Britisher. However, I wish to show how many companies these gentlemen control. We have next, Dr. Arnold J. Cohen Stuart, of The Hague. He is a director of the Asiatic Petroleum Company Limited, the Brunei Petroleum Company Limited, and the Shell Transport and Trading Company Limited. This list shows how few men control so many concerns. We are told that after the war things are ‘to.be different, but we will need to see that the control of so many concerns by so few men does not continue.
Question resolved in the negative.
– I draw attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.]
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
What are the names of the tenderers and the amounts tendered for mail services between St. Lawrence and Marlborough, in Queensland, in 1916?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
There is only one mail service between Marlborough and St. Lawrence. The name of the, successful tenderer is. Mr. C. S. V. Adair, St. Lawrence, for twice-a-week service, by coach, for. three years,and the tender price, £145 per annum. It has not been usual, and is not considered in the interests of the Department, for the prices of other than the accepted tenders for mail services to be made public.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of his statement that it is the intention of the Government to develop Australian production and industries and to proceed with such amendments of the present Tariff as may be necessary to attain this end,” will the Government allow the House an early opportunity of dealing with a few of the anomalies in the Tariff?
– The Government is considering the question of the Tariff. Its policy has been already set out in the Ministerial statement.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether he will state on what date he proposes to introduce a Bill to legalize the expenditure of £2,068,000 on a Government line of steam-ships ?
– As early as possible.
– I draw attention to the fact that there is no quorum.
– There is a quorum present.
asked the Prime Min ister, upon notice - 1.If he will inform the House what are the proclaimed meat areas where diseased meat is supervised under the Health Act in Victoria?
Health Act; and, if so, will the Prime Minister take steps to compel all meat to be efficiently inspected before being supplied to our military camps for consumption by our soldiers?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of the necessity for economy, will the Government arrange that the House of Representatives’ election shall take place on the same day, in May or June of this year, as that of the election for the Senate?
– The resolution now before the House provides for this being done.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Whether the Government will have the question of the proposed arsenal at Canberra further investigated by a recognised competent authority, and consult Parliament before authorizing any further expenditure?
-The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The question of the proposed arsenal is. being investigated by a recognised competentauthority, namely, the Ministry of Munitions, Great Britain, The Ministry of Munitions has agreedto give Mr. Leighton, the general manager, every assistance and advice in constructing the arsenal to the best advantage of the Commonwealth.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The names of the members of the Wool Committee, and the interests represented by them, are: -
Wool Growers. - Edmund Jowett, Franc Brereton Sadlier Falkiner.
Wool Sellers. - Walter James Young, Andrew Howard Moore, William Stevenson Fraser.
Wool Buyer. - Robert Bond McComas.
Manufacturers. - Burdett Laycock.
Scourers.- Frederick William Hughes.
Chairman and Government Nominee.-John Michael Higgins.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether a decision has been arrived at by the Wool Board to appoint a representative of small growers on the Board?
– The Central Wool Committee and State Wool Committees, as now constituted, represent all sections of the wool industry.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– An official copy of the Note and of the Allies’ reply was received by the last mail, and will be presented to Parliament to-day.
Enlistment of Staff Sergeant-Majors : Pay of New Zealand Forces
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Is it a fact that out of 100 staff sergeantmajors from New South Wales who were asked it they would enlist for active service only two volunteered’?
– The answer to the honorablemember’s question is as follows: -
Consequent on the dearth of recruits for the Australian Imperial Force, a reduction in the number of temporarily-employed staff sergeantmajors was effected for economical reasons. Those within the age limit were asked if they would enlist in the Australian Imperial Force. Of 252 who were eligible in New South Wales, 146 volunteered ‘their services, of whom 124 were medically fit, and have beenaccepted.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Whether he will supply the House with information regarding the payments made by the
New Zealand Government to men enlisting as privates, single and married, with the allowances paid for children?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
It is understood that the rates of separation allowance, &c, payable to members of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force have recently been amended. The rate of pay of a private previously in force was 5s. per diem, 3s. of which was deferred. Deferred pay is payable on return to NewZealand, but may be allotted by the soldier concerned: Separation allowance at the rate of1s. per diem was. granted to the wives of married noncommissioned officers and men from the 1st July, 1915. No information as to the amendment mentioned is available.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked thePrime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether a decision has been arrived at, in response to representations made by a recent deputation of wheat-growers, to indorse the wheat certificates up to the amount of the net value of such securities, thus enabling farmers, when required, to undertake their own financial arrangements, and to maintain the true value of such certificates?
– The representations are under consideration. .
Debate resumed from 28th February (vide page 10753), 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 regardingsubsequent elections.
– The motion is one of the most important that the Government could submit for our consideration in view of the gravity of the situation with which we are confronted. Being in a state of war, we are asked to make certain provision with regard to our representation at the Imperial Conference. During the debate, honorable gentlemen on the other side have uttered a certain amount of free criticism of what they regard asthe curious combination now existing on this side. We have a Government representing two parties, but it is through no fault of ours that it does not represent three. In spite of the differences that are attempted to be made between us in consequence of our divergences of opinion on matters of domestic policy, we have come together in the interests of the Commonwealth and for the purpose of winning the war, sinking those domestic points upon which we do not agree, and finding out. the points upon which we can agree, each party at the same time maintaining its own identity. There is a principle represented on this side ‘by the Government and their supporters that has been entirely lost sight of by. gentlemen on the other side - the principle of the sovereignty of the Australian people and the restoration of constitutional government.
– I ask you, sir, to keep a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
– We meet here as a Parliament representing the Commonwealth of Australia, and inheriting our Constitution, in common with all the other oversea Dominions, from the British Parliament by Imperial Act. “We exist by virtue of that British Act, which links us to the old Parliaments of the Motherland.. The principle of constitutional government is ingrained in the British people.
– Good old Constitution !
Mr.ARCHIBALD.- I am surprised that it is valued so little, because I have yet to learn that our “ good old Constitution “ cannot meet all the requirements and rights of the people, and furnish every opportunity for their development and welfare. Under it, the people return men to represent them in Parliament, and that Parliament, with the Cabinet created by the majority in this chamber, is our method of government, giving the people sovereign rights, perhaps to a greater degree than in the Motherland or in any other oversea Dependency. Every’ man and woman in Australia has the right to vote, and this Government and the parties in this Parliament are here to protect the sovereign rights of the people against all comers. We stand here for the rights of the people. Honorable members on the other side are not in that position. They betrayed the principles of their party.
– We ought to have a quorum, [Quorum formed.]
– I have not taken up much time in the House recently, because’ I have been in office, but as I was mixed up somewhat in recent events I feel I have some right to speak on this important question to the House and the country. When the records of Australia come to be written, the present session will be looked back upon as remarkable in its relation to the history of democratic government. After the referendum on the compulsory military service proposal, there was a meeting ‘ of the Commonwealth Labour party, at which the honorable member for Brisbane moved that the honorable member for West Sydney be deposed from the leadership of the party.
– I think that we should have a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
– Although attention is repeatedly called to the state of the House by an honorable member opposite, the rest of his party is absent. This is being done deliberately because I am speaking, but it is my intention not to spare any one of them because of their absence. The Prime Minister is a gentleman who during many years has worked his way upwards from the lowest rung of the ladder to the highest position in the public life of this country. He joined the Labour party when there was nothing to be gained by belonging to it, and when membership of it entailed great sacrifice. The honorable member for Brisbane, on the other hand, who moved to depose him from the leadership of the Labour party, joined the Labour movement merely to live on it, like many members on the opposite side of the chamber, who, when they cannot live on it any longer, will leave it. Although in the opinion of most the Prime Minister is the ablest man in the public life of Australia, and has the Australian public behind him, as was proved by the” marvellous reception given to him in all the capital cities of Australia on his return from London last year, a number of members of the Labour party were determined to drive him out of the Labour movement. Why? Because the members of the party had ceased to be independent, and were being controlled by outside influence. Even before the Prime Minister had gone to England to represent Australia there, his overthrow was plotted, and during his absence his enemies worked with remarkable skill and ability. They were ready to .launch, their bolt at the first opportunity. I myself received instructions from Adelaide to vote to put the Prime Minister out of office, but I treated the order, as I should treat any order of the kind, with contempt. The members who sit opposite have forfeited the right to represent their constituents here, because they are not free men, being bound hand and foot to outside organizations. But the drama began earlier. After the last Fisher Administration had been formed, outside organizations became dissatisfied with” the conduct of some of its Ministers, and on Mr. Fisher’s appointment to the High Commissionership they decreed that I and the honorable member for Darling should leave office. The honorable member for Darling had said that when acting as Minister of the Crown he would not be dictated to by outside organizations; and I had stated that, as a Minister, I was the servant of the public, and responsible to the public, and -that I would not accept the dictation of any section of the community. Should I again become a Minister, I would make the same statement. No man ought to take the oath of office unless prepared to be independent in the people’s interests. Honorable members opposite are the mere lackeys of the Political Labour League, and ought to be so branded. They are, moreover, the representatives of the Industrial Workers of the World, though they declare that they do not belong to that association. They have ceased to believe in the Labour platform, and have adopted the platform of the Industrial Workers of the World. The Labour platform is well . known to every honorable member. It is based on evolution and progress. It keeps Parliament in touch with the people, and provides that Parliament shall march as fast as the people are prepared to go. Forty years ago, Mons. Guizot said that the British Government is always more advanced than the British Parliament. That has always been true. The Parliament cannot keep pace with the Government, be cause the people will not let it do so. That the Parliament should march with the people is the glory and the strength of the British political system. But the principles of honorable . members opposite are very different from’ those of the Labour platform, and from those on which honorable members generally, on this side have based their conduct. We on this side are in favour of arbitration and the peaceful settlement of disputes; the renegade Labour members opposite, who have betrayed their principles, ‘are, like the Industrial Workers of the World, all for direct action and strikes. It was direct action that was taken so far .as I was concerned, and it was. proposed to take direct action in regard to the Prime Minister. They, too, support sabotage. When the honorable member for Darwin was Minister for Home Affairs, he encouraged sabotage, and it reached its high-water mark in the Department during his term of office. ‘ I know the working people. I sprang from their ranks. I have lived among them, both in this country and on the other side of the world; and I say that most of them are opposed to sabotage, which has arisen like a film or scum on the Labour movement. Honorable members opposite, however, have never dared to make, a stand’ against it. If you wish to know how low. a Labour’ party can fall; you have only to remember the appointment of the honorable member for Darwin to a portfolio which gave him control of one of the largest employing Departments of the Commonwealth. Labour members opposite have sold their principles, and are: bound hand and foot to an outside gang. In an evil’ moment they gave away their freedom as members of Parliament.. I have been in this House for- six or seven years, and was for nearly twenty-five’ years a member of the South Australian Legislature.
– Who, put you there?
– Who returned you?
– The working people-, not renegade wretches like you.
– I ask the honorable member to withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it. Is there anything in common ‘ between the men who took part in the strike of 1890 - the men of the nineties - and the men who are at the top of the Australian Labour party to-day ? That party to-day is run by the very excrement of labour. The Melbourne Trades Hall is to-day the storm centre, the head-quarters of the Industrial Workers of the World system in all its glory. It is trying to poison the* minds of the workers in my own State and in every part of Australia. When we were building up the Labour party years ago, what part did it -play in the movement $ Why, Victoria bred scabs to take the- place of tie men who went out during the 1890 strike. To-day,, these men are breeding assassins; they are breeding the Industrial’ Workers of the World. They never had any principle, and they have none today. These are the men who tell me that the workers made me what I am. They certainly did, and I venture to say they will keep me where I am ; but I am not referring to the so-called workers to whom honorable members opposite tare crawling. I blame honorable members opposite fortheir failure to take up a firm stand when they were approached by these men, and for their failure to point out that the lines, they were asked to follow were undesirable. Had they done so, they would not have been enslaved as they are todayThat, then, is- tha- position. We may set aside the- consideration of what the Conservatives or the- Liberals have done. Tha> position is that the Government and thos* behind them- to-day stand for- the old constitutional principle. I,, like every member of the Labour party,, was elected because I believed in certain principles. I was elected on- a platform, and outside that platform I had absolute freedom to use my own judgment. That was the condition1 on which every member of the Labour’ party was returned to this Parliament. Honorable- members opposite, however, have betrayed the trust reposed- in them by the people of Australia. Ifr if not for me- to- say what- the sovereign people will do with them, but I shall tei! the House what they did1 in the nineties. At that time there was’ a feeling in Australia that the Employers’ Federation - - the merchants and’ the squatters - were riding the high horse, and were oppressing the workers. The people backed up the* workers in their legitimate constitutional’ demands, through Parliament, for an alteration in their conditions. Will any one say that the men who refused to be dictated to by the squatters and the merchants and other employers in those days will submit to-day to the- dictation’ of the Trades Hall ? To believe anything of the kind would be to believe that Australians are stupid, whereas they are a shrewd people, and well able to appreciate the course of events. The Prime Minister has been abused arid blackguarded all over Australia by the distinguished crowd who now describe themselves as the Australian Labour party. If he has been guilty .of any political- iniquity, then I’ am equally to blame… While the squabbling was going on amongst members of the old Labour party, I said to the right honorable gentleman one day, “How long are you going to keep this game going ? Is it to last for ever ? Do you not realize that it was from the hands of. the GovernorGeneral - the King’s representative - that you received your commission as Prime Minister of the Commonwealth 1 Have you n’o duty to the 5,000,000 people of Australia - :to the workers, with their be- liefs and their prejudices, their honesty, and all those sterling qualities which go to make up a great people? “ I was tempted to remind him of a remark which I heard John Bright make, when, referring to the great cities of England, he said, “ Look at this great Babylon of ours.” I said to the Prime Minister, “ Look at this great country of ours. If you are going to do anything, is it not nearly time that you took action ? “ What followed was the action of the Prime Minister,’ when at a meeting of the party he asked those who believed in him to follow him out of the room. I followed him, and I did so. solely because of my desire to restore to the people of this country their sovereign rights. On the other hand, honorable1 members who now occupy the Opposition benches smashed the Labour movement. Twenty years will elapse before we shall again see a Labour Government in office. Labour members opposite have betrayed the people, and no worse fate could befall a public man -Ghan that the people should come to the conclusion1 that he has betrayed their interests. The principle I have enunciated is foreign to honorable members opposite. They are bound and’ fettered by the decrees of the Trades Halls of Bendigo and Melbourne.
– The honorable member is an insulting old reprobate.
– I call upon, the honorable member for Bendigo to withdraw and apologize.
– I do so.
– Is the honorable member for Hindmarsh preparing his defence ?
– Yes. It is time I had an opportunity to put my case to the people. I have been blackguarded and insulted all over Victoria by the honorable, member’s crowd.. In my own State, I can address a meeting without being hooted down or pelted with stones, but in Victoria I could not hope for. such a hearing. It has been said over and over again that the Prime Minister was expelled from the Labour party because of his advocacy of conscription. That is mere humbug. Conscription was a mere stalking horse used by honorable members opposite to give effect to their infamous policy. Those who want proof of my statement will find it in the Worker. On referring to the files of the Worker, they will find an article written by the man who broke up the party in Queensland, and who has done his share in the breaking up of the’ Federal parliamentary Labour party. In that article he said that they did not care a button about conscription, but that it was a very good means of driving the old crowd out of Parliament altogether. It is time that we had a’ little more accuracy and less hypocrisy and cant as to the attitude which, the Prime Minister and I took up on the question of conscription. I propose now to: deal very briefly with the1 terms- of the motion before- us. I have explained my position in regard to the Government. I am pleased to be associated with it, and shall give it my hearty support. The Government and its supporters are at one in their desire to help to* win the war. We have been invited to send representatives to the Imperial Conference in London, and the Prime Minister ought, to be there to-day. He has been prevented1 from leaving to attend it, however, by the divided state of this House. Honorable members opposite refused to join the present Government, and so to bring about a united House until the war was over. In no other part df the Empire - in not one of the allied countries - is there such a situation as that which confronts us in Australia. Everywhere else all parties are united with the object of winning the war. But when we appealed to the Australian Labour party to’ join in forming a Government, with that object in view, they took up a most insulting and impertinent attitude. Our invitation was superciliously treated by them, and they allowed three weeks to elapse before they proceeded to consider it. Has any one ever heard before of such contemptible and petty little men. The Empire is engaged in the greatest war in history. All that we enjoy, and hope to enjoy, depends upon the British Navy which guards our coast, and every intelligent man in Australia, unless his judgment is warped by reason of his bitter hatred of the Prime Minister, will say that that right honorable gentleman should already be in London to attend the Conference. I do not know what the people of Australia think of the party that is responsible for the delay, nor do I know what subjects are to be discussed at the Conference; but I think I could make a pretty shrewd guess. Is it of no concern “ to the people that Australia should be represented at the Imperial Conference? Is the future control of the islands of the Pacific of no concern to Australia? Does not the happiness of unborn generations depend upon the question of how those islands are to be held ? Is it not also essential that Australia should. have a voice in the determination of what shall be the economic basis of the government of the Empire? These and other questions no doubt will be considered by the Conference, and it is absolutely essential that the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth should be there, but he is unable to get away because honorable members opposite are holding up this motion and blocking it at every stage. Their endeavour is to delay it, not only by every legitimate means, but also by every illegitimate means. The position is ‘serious, but the people of Australia will acquit the present Government and its supporters of any responsibility. They know that we have done all that was in our power to solve the tangle in which we find ourselves. Honorable members on the Opposition side are asking for an election. They would have one to-morrow. I do not want an election.
– You would, not be returned.
– I do not know about that; but if the citizens of Mel bourne cannot find somebody better than the honorable member to represent them, God help Melbourne! My objection to an election is that at a time when we are engaged in war we should not indulge in the strife of an election, which even in times of peace rouses the worst passions of human nature. A Government or Parliament which sought to bring about such turmoil amongst the people at a time of crisis . would be signally neglecting its duty. I think the House of Commons is in its tenth session. Its seven years’ term expired long ago, and although there has been talk in the press and amongst the people from time to time about the necessity for an election, such clamours have died down, and every member of the House of Commons has agreed that, no matter what else happened, there should be no election in England until after the war. The same course has been followed in France and in Italy, and anybody but a body of bigoted fanatics would say that such unanimity of action among the warring nations proves the wisdom of not engaging in elections while the country is at war. It is for that reason I am opposed to the people of the Commonwealth being precipitated into the turmoil of an election until the war is over, or, at any rate, for a reasonable time - say, eighteen months, by which time we hope the war will have been brought to a successful conclusion.
– Do not start to .prophesy !
– I shall not do that. There were some who thought that Germany would be beaten in six months, but the great Field-Marshal who has done his work and passed away fixed the duration of hostilities at three years. Apparently he was right, and in that respect, as well as in many others, he proved himself a safe leader. Why are members of the Opposition so anxious to have an election ?
– Do you think they want an election?
– They do; and I will tell the honorable member the reason. A few months ago the people of the Commonwealth were convulsed by a conscription referendum, which aroused as much bitterness and party feeling as has ever been experienced in Australia. Honorable members opposite know that their only chance of ever seeing the inside of this Parliament again is to have an election now, and raise the same old cry in order to get from the people the same vote. They will say that the present Government stands for conscription. Certainly, during the referendum- campaign, they proved themselves the greatest experts in lying that I have ever heard. The honorable member for Maranoa laughs, and well he may. He has known some very tall doings in’ electioneering, but he has never known anything so tall as what occurred during the referendum campaign. The people were told that Australia was to be flooded with black labour, and that 10,000 Maltese had already been admitted to take the work of the men who would be sent to the front.
– What about the prearranged cables from Birdwood and others?
– I do not think there was any pre-arrangement at all.
– Tell that to the marines.
– The honorable member is very suspicious. Let him imagine himself for a moment in the position of General Birdwood, or any of the Australian commanders. He would be thinking of what was happening in Australia, and the pressure that would be brought to bear on his troops. A soldier thinks of his troops in a way that no civilian thinks of his subordinates. It would be only natural that General Birdwood, without any 0 suggestion from others, should send a telegram to Australia on such an important issue as compulsory military service. But what difference would.it make if the telegrams were inspired ? What was done by the anticonscriptionists ? I saw rascality on every side. Men were telling factory girls in Adelaide that they would be’ working for 5s. a week if they voted “ Yes.” The men who made those statements knew that they were lying. It is that sort of thing which makes me feel a detestation, amounting to almost hatred, of men on the Opposition side. Ever since I was a boy I have mistrusted a parliamentarian who lies, and I have always felt hatred against any public man who would abuse his position to deceive the people. Honorable members opposite are anxious to let loose the anti-conscriptionist devil again, and to get one more vote for every insult they can heap on Mr. Hughes, arid for every lie they can tell .about honorable members on this side of the House.
– These worthy words ought to be listened to by a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
– I sincerely hope that some means will be evolved by the leaders of this country, and by every influence for good, to avert the electoral conflict that honorable members .opposite desire while the war is in progress. Let every opportunity be given for all parties to work together in this time of peril, and later, when the bitterness of the referendum has’ died down, it will be time enough for us to face an election. I ask honorable members to view the matter in that light. Let Ministerialists who represent New South Wales constituencies inquire what is being done in their own State. They will find that in the back country the people are being told that if they vote for the Holman Government they will be taking the first step towards conscription. Our- opponents know the rascality of that trick, but they are practising it deliberately for the purpose of misleading a large section of our fellowcitizens who are not so well informed in political matters, and are easily frightened. Many people are not able to gauge these questions properly, and they easily become a prey ito knaves of the calibre I have described. A good deal has been said about the present Coalition being a Fusion. I am not going to discuss whether a Fusion has taken place or not, but I do know that each party has retained its integrity. In any case, if public men are not prepared to swallow a Fusion and a good many other things in time of war, they are not worthy of their salt, and the sooner they are out of Parliament the better. It is the duty of public men to take risks and responsibilities on their shoulders. That is the type of man the English-speaking peoples believe in. They know that their public men make mistakes, but they ask that their leaders shall be strong men, willing to take a risk in doing what they believe to be in the interests of the country, and not .to be easily shifted from their positions by changing circumstances from time to time.. We are told by the honorable member for Yarra that he does not like the present combination, because it is a Fusion Government. The honorable member is one of the greatest political Jerry Crunchers that I” know of. He is a resurrection man. There is no debate in this House but the honorable member says, “ So-and-so. said so-and-so,” and “Soandso said such-and-such.” He gives. us the history and pedigree of every Fusion Government. I do not know or care a rap whether the present Government are a Fusion Government or not. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. If it he called a Fusion Government, I .claim it is justified, because of the circumstances of the situation with which we are faced.
– You are sorry to leave your old pals.
– There is no doubt as to that. A man would hardly be human if he did not feel being parted from men with whom he has worked for ten or fifteen years. But what does it mean ? We could not stay with honorable members without forsaking our principles, and we were therefore forced to leave them. If honorable members opposite had any honour about them they would be with us to-day. The honorable member for Bendigo thinks that we are not as anxious to bring about peace as we. should be.
– I did not .say so.
– Did not the honorable member ask, ‘” Are we to keep on fighting until France gets back Alsace and Lorraine?”
– I was merely asking the delegates to the Imperial Conference what attitude they proposed to take up on that matter.
– My opinion is not worth much, but if the Mother Country and Australia do not .stand by France until she gets back her two lost provinces the blood will come into my face when I realize that I am a Britisher and an Australian. Men and women in Australia should get down and thank their God for the fact that conscription applied in France, and that the French conscript Army, along with the professional Army of Great Britain of 120,000 men, hurled back the Germans from the Marne, and drove them to positions which were very close to those they are occupying to-day. The honorable member for Bendigo is merely throwing out a hint. He is not manly enough to speak straight out. He is not built that way. He does not say, “ The delegates should press the position that we are prepared to throw France over,” but he asks, “ What will they do?” I do not know what they will do, but I wager that, as Australians, they, will not throw France over. They dare not do it. No man outside honorable members op posite would be allowed by his supporters to do so.
– Who asked for it? The honorable member has a great imagination.
– I have some imagination, and because of that I can see keenly things that are going on on the other side of the world: I never saw such an expedition to the other side of the world as we had recently. I went to the other side of the world at the time of the King’s Coronation, and when I returned I told the people what was doing on the other side of the world; but, with the exception of one or two in the recent dele’gation, every man on his return went to head-quarters in Sydney, Adelaide, or Melbourne to see what he should say or believe. That is a nice sort of man to be invited by the House of Commons and the House of Lords, and to .accept such an invitation! Instead of giving the people, of Australia an impression of what Great Britain is like and of what the people of Great Britain required,’ and of what the people of Australia should do, they ot their keynotes from Adelaide, Melou>rne, and Sydney. They were told what they should say. It did not matter if they told a different’ yarn on the vessel. So much the worse for them. They would have to explain it away. I have seen some queer fish in my time, but that delegation was the strangest piece of representation that I have seen for many a long day. I shall not detain, the House any further. I .was anxious to put my position ‘before the people, and not to give a silent vote on an important matter like thiB. I do not propose to make any attack ‘ .upon honorable members opposite - our object now should .be to pull together in order to win the war - ‘but their attitude, past and present, is best treated with scorn and contempt:
.- Any one who has had the fortune of seeing the play Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch will remember the lady saying, “Oh, God, preserve me from going ;sour.” Honorable members who have heard the speech of the honorable member who has just sat down will well recall the lady’s prayer when they remember what happened a little while ago. They will know how the sourness has entered into the mind of the. honorable member, and why it will stay there until the end. It was brought about by the fact that his colleagues, who knew him. well, and knew that he was unfit for and unworthy of the Ministerial portfolio he held, eliminated him from the position. He was judged by men who knew him best - many of them have now left that Caucus - and knew that he could nob hold the position of Minister with any honour or credit to himself or to the post. On one occasion I showed him how the head of a Department had made him sign whab was absolutely untrue. He had only to turn back three pages to see it, but it was too much trouble for him to do so. The. consequence was that a man who was entitled to a pension from the Imperial Government, and who had trusted to the honour of the Minister’s’ predecessor in office, who had made the statement in this House that he had promised this gentleman permanent employment, sacrificed his pension, took a salary, and lost it through an officer of the Department having to deal with a facile Minister. The honorable member for Hindmarsh earned the name of being the greatest rubber-stamp Minister the Commonwealth Government have so far had. The idea of this honorable member accusing any one in Melbourne of throwing sticks and stones at him at a public meeting ! It is a slander on the constituency I represent.
– The papers reported that it was the case.
– Can the honorable member for Henty honestly say that he would have sticks and stones thrown at him in Melbourne? I will wager a month’s salary for an hospital that he cannot prove it.
– The papers reported that at a meeting he held stones were thrown.
– The honorable member knows that public meetings held in Melbourne are most orderly. I am afraid the honorable member for Hindmarsh has gone very sour. He did not tell the House that his constituency had turned down the referendum by 8,000 votes. He did not tell us that he went to the workers of his constituency and asked them to inform the Caucus that a wrong had been done to South Australia by not making him a Minister. He could not get the branch of the organization to do it. Sourness has entered into the honorable member, and we can afford to laugh at him. He talked of our “ living on the game.” The remark was unworthy of any honorable- member who has climbed to position on. the backs of the workers, and who. in the latter days of his life has forsaken them. No wonder the honorable member is afraid to face the creators of Parliament. Did he tell the truth about the Maltese and about the lying statements that were made that there were no Maltese coming to Australia! It was said that no telegram was sent, but the truth came out in the end, just as it came out in regard to the lying statement made about Lieutenant Jacka. No manin England has won equal honour to that won by Lieutenant Jacka, not even, the late Lord Roberts or the late Lord Kitchener., On two occasions he has been worthy of receiving the Victoria Cross, but as he cannot be awarded , two, they have given him a bar to show that he is worthy of receiving the second award. What was the tissue of lies told about him? It was said that a man in a country town had received a letter from him in which he urged the people to vote “Yes” at the recent referendum; but the noble father of the lieutenant, a man with three sons, at the front, swore an affidavit that there was no man of the name in the town, and that he believed, from the letters he had received from his son,he wished the electors to vote “ No.” The Censor’s Department, costing so much money each month, and comprising many men of the “ cold feet “ brigade, drawing each £750 a year, would not allow that affidavit to be issued on the day prior to the holding of the referendum. Mr. Jacka could have been prosecuted if the contents of his declaration were false. It stands uncontradicted to-day. But the honorable member for Hindmarsh did not mention this matter. I prefer to speak to a quorum. [Quorum formed.] The honorable member for Hindmarsh hasgone sour, but he will go sourer when he faces his electors. It is men like him that I want to drag before the people. We have sat for 137 days in three years, and the public in the . galleries, as well . as the members present, have seen an example to-day of what the House has come to. They have lately learned that diseased meat has been supplied to transports for the use of our soldiers, and that the present Government will not protect, our men from that risk, because, possibly, the names of the guilty contractor or contractors will be published. We are going to subserve our Constitution, with the most glorious franchise the world has ever seen, to the dictates of the British Government, although we know that the British Parliament is elected by one of the most retrograde franchises that has ever existed. On page 341 of the Statesman’sYear-Book, the following glorious line appears opposite Australia: -
Both Chambers, Senate and House of Representatives, areelected on the basis of universal adult (made and female) suffrage.
The following information from the same authority may do good if reprinted in Hansard, which has a very wide circle of readers: -
Every elector must be of full age, and must be registered in the electoral lists. Property qualifications are restricted to counties and to such boroughsas have county privileges. In England they are : - The holding of an estate (1) in freehold of the annual value of 40s. (not applicable in Scotland or Ireland) ; (2) of lands in life tenure of the annual value of £5 (in Scotland and Ireland), £10; (3) held on lease of at least sixty years, of the annual value of £5 (in Scotland fifty-seven years, and £10; in Ireland, sixty years, and £10), or of at least twenty years, of the annual value of £50 (in Scotland, nineteen years, and £50; in Ireland, fourteen years, and £20). Throughout the United Kingdom, in counties, occupation of a tenement which is rated for the support of the poor, and for which the rates have been paid by the prescribed ‘date, constitutes a qualification; but in English boroughs the occupation franchise is associated with six months’ residence, and in Scotch boroughs with twelve months’ residence. Every inhabitant occupier who has for twelve months within the United Kingdom inhabited a rated dwelling-house for which the rates have been paid, is entitled to registration, and lodgers occupying for twelve months the same lodgings of the value of £10 a year may have a vote. There are, besides, some ancient franchises, such as that of the liverymen of the city of London companies, and there are six university constituencies in which graduates on the electoral rolls are electors. Disqualified from registration are women, infants, peers, idiots and lunatics, aliens, bankrupts, persons who within a year have received parochial poor relief, and some others.
This indicates that the British franchise, especially if we include the House of Lords with the Commons, is the vilest on earth. There is no entrance to the House of Lords but by birth, except in the case of a few bishops and two archbishops, or when at times a man who has made himself distinguished by his brains is raised to the peerage. Even in Turkey the franchise is not so bad, for there, according to the same authority, a man has a better chance, at all events on paper, of voting for the two Houses that govern his country. According to latest figures Australia has a population of 4,940,000 people; and 2,811,515 names on the roll. The United Kingdom had, in 1911, a population of 45,400,000, but only 8,357,000 names on the roll. Therefore, with nine ‘and a half times our population Great Britain has not three times our voters. We are, therefore, in danger at the coming Conference of submitting our broad franchise to the mercy of a Government elected by a restricted franchise. One noble lord in the hereditary chamber of Great Britain said, on one occasion -
I object to an adult franchise, because it will increase the citizens from 8,000,000 to 24,000,000.
Yet members of the present Government want to go Home and subserve our splendid Constitution, which is the glory of the British Empire, to people of that sort. Our Constitution shows how far towards freedom British blood will progress if allowed to do so. I do not want that Constitution contaminated in the slightest degree.
– I think the Government ought to keep a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
– The Consolidated Revenue would benefit greatly if we had a law like that of Switzerland, by which the majority of members have to stay in the House or pay a fine for every time they are absent. Ifthat were the law in Australia we should get our business done in a businesslike way. I wish that the golden words that used to fall from the lips of the late Judge Higinbotham, in that corner and in this, could re-echo in this chamber. I remember the time when he branded the Colonial Office official in Downing-street, who was interfering with the Victorian Constitution, as “ that man Rogers.” Judge Higinbotham used to utter “ thoughts that live and words that burn,” and I wish he were here to-day to charge honorable members not to contaminate our Constitution by submitting it to the rulers of a country which has one of the vilest franchises in the world. I wish the beloved English people, from whom my mother came, had the power of adult suffrage to sweep away the iniquity of the House of Lords, which has over 600 members, only three of whom form a quorum. In 1885, by. a majority of forty-seven, they solemnly declared that it was not absurd that three members should constitute a quorum of the whole Chamber, which is the head in the management of the whole of the British Empire. It is suggested that three members of this Chamber should go to London, not by the vote of the people outside, but by the contaminated chance of circumstances, whereby a body of thirteen, with the help of the GovernorGeneral, forms a new Ministry, after haggling for office as men haggle on the market place. One side wanted the Defence Minister in this Chamber, and the other side would not give in. The honorable member for Parramatta knows that the Minister for Defence ought to be in this Chamber, but his party, strong as it may be in numbers, was not strong enough to take that Department from Senator Pearce. No one will deny that there ought to be a complete inquiry into the matters going on in that Department. One thing upon which I can compliment the right honorable member for Swan is that he is an Australian native, and the record of Australian natives who have gone to England as plenipotentiaries, or semiambassadors, is a very honorable one. No name stands higher on that ‘ list for honesty and honour than that of Alfred Deakin. He was scrupulous in his accounts to the last halfpenny, but nobody has seen the accounts of the visit of the last delegate who went to the Old Country. Mr. Deakin was man enough to say when he was given the freedom of the city of London that the compliment was to the Prime Minister of Australia, and not to Alfred Deakin personally. He handed over the splendid gold casket presented to him on that occasion to the Library of the Commonwealth Parliament, where it will be preserved for all time. I deeply regret that through illhealth Mr. Deakin is now out of politics. If three members are sent as delegates to the Imperial Conference, I shall be proud for the right honorable member for Swan to be one of them. I believe that he will keep the Prime Minister honest, if that be needed. He cannot be proud, and I do ‘not know of any honorable member who ‘is proud, of the purchase of the Commonwealth fleet. Who knows anything about it? Ask any merchant, or any man connected with shipping, whether he thinks that a commission passed. Take his answer. Why have not the papers dealing with the transaction been placed on the table of the House ? If commission has been paid, why should we not know it? Why should not the people know it?
– Paid to whom ?
– There is a Secret Commissions Act in Victoria, and if it were applied to this case, the honorable member, perhaps, would not-sit where he is now sitting.
– There should be no dirty insinuations. If the honorable member for Melbourne is sure that a commission was paid, he should say so.
– The word “ dirty “ suits the honorable member’s lips.
– I disapprove of the purchase of the ships, but I have never considered that there was anything shady about the transaction.
– About £2,300,000 was paid for fifteen vessels. Has any honorable member seen any one of them ? No papers have been laid on the table with regard to the transaction. When Mr. Deakin was in power, and a purchase was made, the papers relating to it were always laid on the table. I am a Nationalizer up to the hilt, but I desire that things shall be done fairly and squarely. Let the honorable member for Hindmarsh inquire into this. Let him talk to any business man in King William-street, Adelaide.
– The ‘honorable member does not know one end of a ship from the other, though, he may know something about pills.
– I hold three certificates of discharge as an able-bodied seaman. If the honorable member for Swan goes to London, and there are any more dealings like this purchase of ships, Parliament will be treated as it should be treated, and will be told what occurred. The third delegate is to be the honorable member for Flinders. Was I not justified in asking the Prime Minister whether that gentleman, if he went to England, would be permitted to interfere with our franchise? Ask any railway official, any magistrate, any. public servant, or any policeman in Victoria, whether the honorable member did not rob him of his rights of citizenship, depriving him of a franchise allowed to any criminal who had’ served his sentence. The honorable member is not to be sent Home as a delegate elected by this House. When I asked the Prime Minister if he were willing to allow himself to be elected by this House, he would not say that he was. The honorable member for Flinders, with one or two Ministers and the representative of the King, did things in this country such as are without precedent. But I do not think that he would enter into a transaction like the shipping deal without informing Parliament regarding it. I have been his political foe ever since. With the support of the A ge newspaper and the largest majority in the Victorian Assembly that any Premier ever had, he was going to reform the Legislative Council, and I discovered that he had fooled us. I had been his loyal follower until then; but when I found that he had turned down the reform, notwithstanding his promises, I became his political opponent. Still, I do not think that, he would do anything personally dishonest, and have never imputed tohim dishonesty in personal dealings. But I again accuse him of reducing the sum paid in pensions to the old men and women of Victoria from £216,000 to £150,000. At the present time, the Commonwealth is paying upwards of £750,000 in old-age pensions. He thus robbed the aged and the weak of their food. Yet the honorable member for Hindmarsh is proud that the honorable member for Flinders is going to London to represent him.
– I do not think that you are properly representing the facts.
– I have repeatedly quoted the Hansard record of the occurrence to which I refer, and have handed to the honorable member for Flinders the volume in which it appears. He has never denied my statement. Perhaps the honorable member for Hume will say it is not true that the honorable member for Flinders claimed the honour of having drafted the first Old-age Pensions Bill introduced into Victoria, and only after it had been proved by the Age that he was wrong, grudgingly owned that he did not draft that measure. The late Sir George Turner drafted that Bill, but the honorable member for Flinders took credit for it. I do not know any constituency in Victoria except Flinders that would return the honorable member, and I doubt whether the electors of Flinders will return him at the next elections.
That is why I desire a dissolution of the Houses.
– I think that the honorable member for Flinders was not in politics when the reduction of the pensions vote took place.
– He was Premier of Victoria at the time.
– He did not take the pension from any old-age pensioner.
– Now we have the financial expert from the bank, the paid barracker of the Government, who is paid to see that there is a quorum present.
– That is not fair.
– I withdraw what I said ; but I hope that the honorable member for Richmond will show me the courtesy of listening without interruption.
– I ask the honorable member for Richmond to keep silent.
– I shall stay here, but I shall not listen to the honorable member.
– Were the honorable member to listen, he might learn something beyond banking experience. Honorable members will recollect what the honorablemember for Henty said about conscription and enlisting. I am doing my best to assist the volunteer movement, but as long as I have a brain to think and a hand to act, I shall oppose compulsion. This accursed war could not have broken out had not Germany had conscription, under which her men were compelled in times of peace to serve as soldiers for three years during the best days of their lives for l½d. a day. It was conscription which permitted the Kaiser to order 8,000,000 men to march, not to save life, but to destroy it, to shoot down men, women, and children. Nothing angers me more than to think that women whose wombs have never felt the pulsation of a child within them daredto vote to send to the front the sons of other women. The Recruiting Committee of Victoria has paid me the highest honour that could be paid to any member in accepting the suggestion that picture films, showing the horrors of the German warfare, should be shown throughout the city and suburbs. The meetings I have addressed, and the enlistments which have followed, and which I regard as having done me honour, show my interest in recruiting, though when I see young men in the full flush of life marching away, I feel a gripping at my heart, and I wish that I had power to deal with the kings, kaisers, and czars who can order human beings to the murdercalled war. A picture has been published showing Mr. Hughes making a coffin in which to bury Labour, and a second picture showing him put into the coffin by a strong working man. His coffin will be the West Sydney electorate. He will not dare to show his nose there again as a candidate. The honorable member for Hume doubted my statement about the action of the honorable member for Flinders regarding the reduction of the Victorian old-age pensions vote. But in the Black and White List compiled and published by Mr. Prendergast, under the auspices of the Political Labour Council of Victoria, containing the important division lists of the Victorian Legislative Assembly for the sessions of 1902 and 1903, on page 47, will be found a list of those who voted on the second reading of the Old-age Pension Amendment Bill, and among the names of those there reported as voting for the reduction of concessions to oldage pensioners is that of the honorable member for Flinders. His name is also recorded in the division for the reduction of the vote for old-age pensions to £150,000, the sum that had been paid during the previous financial year being £216,000. The amount available for the payment of old-age pensions was thus reducedby £66,000.
– My point is that the existing pensions were not reduced.
– Certainly they were reduced. The Court annals of Victoria show that a man lost his life as a result of being dragged into a witness-box to be examined as to whether he was in a position to contribute1s. 6d. per week to the support of his father. He was so examinedunder the Victorian Act, and subsequently poisoned himself in a city lodging-house. The Prime Minister is like the unsuccessful dove flying out from the ark and finding no place on which to rest. His campaign to establish a new organization to support his party was opened in the electorate of Corio, the representative of which is to-day fighting at the front. In his absence the Prime
Minister went down to his electorate to form an organization with the object of turning him out of Parliament. Where next did he flit in this happy-go-lucky way ? He held his second meeting at Ballarat? Where is McGrath, of Ballarat? Fighting at the front. If the Prime Minister had had any sense of decency he would not have gone to Ballarat, in the absence of its representative, to form a branch of his organization. I offered him an opportunity to contest with me the electorate of Melbourne, and he can have the opportunity whenever he pleases. I am anxious that there should bean early appeal to the country.’ Two burning questions await the determination of the people. The first of these is the protection of our industries. Everything that we want and that we can make in Australia ought to be manufactured here. The people in their desire to support Protection are straining at the leash. The second question to be decided, by the people is whether they ought not to have the right to recall this Parliament when it will not do its work. Is it reasonable to expect the people to be satisfied with a Parliament which in three years sits for only 137 days ? Hundreds of people call at my office daily, and by putting a question in this House I can have attention given to a Defence Department matter which would not “be dealt with for weeks if we were not in session. I am reminded that the honorable member for Ballarat, who is now fighting for his country, stated in this House on 27th August, 1913, as reported in Hansard, volume LXX., page 577 -
The present Attorney-General, as Premier of Victoria, when it was found necessary to wipe out a deficit, proposed a reduction in the oldage pensions payable in this State. On Thursday, 24th November, 1903, the motion for the second reading of a Bill for the reduction of old-age pensions was moved by Premier Irvine in the Legislative Assembly of Victoria, and was carried by forty-five votes to twenty-six.
When the honorable member for Flinders faces his Creator he will be ashamed of that Act, and sorry that he ever introduced it. He will regret that he helped in that way to take the bread of the old, the helpless, and the indigent. Nothing gives me greater satisfaction than to observe the spirit of independence which the Federal system of old-age pensions develops in those to whom it is applied.
They receive the pension as a matter of right, and their children are not put in the witness-box to be examined as to their means. The Prime Minister, in The Case for Labour, wrote as follows : -
I do not for a moment deny a man’s right to change his opinions. I only deny his right to break his word solemnly given to his fellow citizens 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, if he chooses, contest the electorate upon his changed opinions. If returned, he can then, with honour, do that which he desires. Buthe 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.
Here is a resolution that was passed at the last meeting of the North Melbourne branch of the Political Labour Council -
That this branch of the Political Labour Council protests against the action of the Hughes Government in sending three conscriptionist delegates to Great Britain at the present time -
Because they do not represent public opinion in the Commonwealth.
They represent a party which holds power By the treachery of a portion of the Labour party.
The delegation is composed of two Liberals from a party which is in a minority of both Houses of the Federal Parliament, and was defeated at the last Federal elections. The third delegate is a Labour rat, whose whole party numbers only 13 in the Representatives of 75 members, and 17 in the Senate of 36 members.
– Order ! An honorable member is not entitled to apply such an expression to another honorable member, nor is he in order in making a quotation in which an honorable member is so described.
– I was merely reading this resolution, whichcontinues -
I recognise that Australia must be represented at the Imperial Conference, and I think that Mr. Andrew Fisher, whose honesty and loyalty to Australia and the
Empire no one can question, should be immediately appointed to attend it. That is what the Government would do if they were not afraid to go to the country at once. We could then have a general election, and the people could be asked also to say who should represent them at the Conference. I was sorry to hear the honorable member for Henty last night refer in. insulting terms to the United States of America. Speaking of that great country he used words that he might very well have applied to the present Prime Minister. I am grateful to the great American Republic for the way in which it came to Britain’s rescue in her hour of need. When the poor Russian soldiers were being sent out with only one rifle to every three men, so that when one man fell the second seized his rifle, and was followed in turn by the third, Japan came to Russia’s assistance and, by supplying her with munitions, saved her forces. In the same way America came to Britain’s aid in the supply of munitions of war. I indorse every word that the honorable member for Hindmarsh uttered in regard to that great and noble nation, France. At first we were holding only a little bit of’ the line on the Western front, and could not have held the larger bit, as we have since done, but for the munitions with which the United States of. America supplied us. I am also grateful to America for the way in which she has held the scales of neutrality. She said, in effect, to the world, “ Any one can buy in this market,” but she knew full well that the British Navy had swept the German flag from the seasof the world. In these circumstances I resent what the honorable member for Henty said. I could, if need be, supply the honorable member with some pertinent quotations from speeches by Mr. Roosevelt, than whom there is no more bitter opponent of the Huns. Then again, we should not have had our glorious Constitution but for the example which America set us. I hope that the great Republic will come into the war. I am not content with Dr. Wilson’s attitude, but it is not for me, a mere unit in Australia, to try to think for the President of a great country, whose population possibly includes from 16,000,000 to 18,000,000 Germans, or persons of German descent. When I was interrupted a few minutes ago, by the call for a quorum, I was referring to the question of conscription as opposed to voluntary recruiting. Every member of the Victorian Recruiting Committee - the chairman, Mr. Donald Mackinnon; the honorable member for Gippsland, Mr. George Wise; the vice-chairman, Mr. Noyes; Mr. Blackwood, and all the other members - have been loyal to the principle of voluntary enlistment. No one could have spoken more strongly in favour of that principle than did Mr. Donald Mackinnon at the great meeting held in the Melbourne Town Hall. He showed then that every member of the Committee was pledged to try to obtain by voluntary effort the recruits we require.
I can hardly take seriously the remarks made by the honorable member for Hindmarsh11. Bitterness has entered the honorable member’s soul because we have removed him from Ministerial office. I never broke a political promise in my life, and in Flashlights from, J apan, published in 1905, I wrote more than ever left the lips of the Prime Minister or any of his followers.
– You pledged yourself to be a Trades Hall lackey.
– I have given my electors in Melbourne what no other member of the House has given to his constituents - the right to withdraw me from my seat in Parliament on twenty-four hours’ notice if more than half of the total number of persons who voted for me ask for my resignation. From the time I first entered Parliament, in 1889, I empowered my committee to call me to account if in their opinion I was not doing my best. Yet I am taunted by the honorable member for Hindmarsh,0 in whose soul is the sourness of defeat, and of the knowledge of the contempt members on this side feel for him. He was dragged from his Min’isterial seat - he was not asked to resign - , and now, like a sucked orange, he has been thrown aside. He claims to have swum ashore from the wreck. I remind him that things other than those that swim get ashore. If he is willing to resign his seat I am willing to resign mine. Let his electors say what they think of him and mine what they think of me.
– Stand on your head now, and finish up a mountebank.
– If I had a tar brush on my head like yours–
– Order ! These recriminations must cease.
– In my little booklet I showed how Japan has always played the game. During this war the Japanese fleet saved our cities from destruction. The Australia could not protect a sea line stretching from Brisbane to Perth, and the other ships of the Australian Fleet were not able to defeat that strong German squadron, as was proved by its destruction of a powerful British Fleet off the coast of South America. Japan has protected our convoys, swept the German flag from the Pacific Ocean, and rooted the Germans out of Kiao Chou, and, if need be, has that country not won the right to be treated as an Ally ? Why are the Government still fooling about the Tariff ? The late Treasurer will agree that the Government could have obtained from £300,000 to £500,000 from the winegrowers, who raised the prices of their commodities as soon as the Tariff was amended on the last occasion. According to sworn evidence, Joshua’s’ whisky costs lOd. a gallon to make in Scotland, and it is being sold in Australia at 17s. a gallon. If the late Treasurer had been in office a little longer the Commonwealth might have obtained a considerable sum of revenue from the wine-growers and distillers. The honorable member for Henty spoke contemptuously of the Age. I well remember a man named John H. Graves, who said of the Age, “ Old man as I am, give me the support of that paper and I will contest any seat in Victoria.” Such was the power of the Age. I have had to fight it many times, and have received its assistance on rare occasions, but I do say that it is a power to fight in Victoria, and those men who are speaking lightly of its influence do not know what they are talking about. That journal has advised the Government to abandon the trickery represented by this motion. Mr. Deakin described one party on a memorable occasion as the wreckage of all other parties. Of what does the Government consist to-day? - the wreckage of many parties, including that section which tried to wreck the Labour party. It was said that the Labour movement would be put back ten years when Trenwith left us. Where is Trenwith now, politically ? The same was said when Burton left us, when Hume Cook left us, when Hamilton left us. But where are Burton, Hume Cook, and Hamilton to-day ? They have all gone to political oblivion.
– -The honorable member has reached his time limit.
Sitting suspended from 6.27 to 7.4.5 p.m.
– Before dinner, I inadvertently deprived the honorable member for Melbourne of five minutes of his allotted time. If the honorable member desires, he may resume his speech.
– I thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but I think I shall spare, honorable members. *
-.- One would think from the speeches we hear on the other side that honorable members who had been associated with the Labour party have broken some pledges.
– I think that the honorable member deserves a quorum, and I beg to call attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed].’
– Until quite recently one of the things on which the Official Labour party, and those associated with it, ‘ prided themselves, and particularly so during cam,paigns, was the freedom they enjoyed, notwithstanding all the talk about the Caucus and its domination. They prided themselves on the fact that outside the planks of the party platform they were absolutely free; and I have no hesitation in saying that thousands of votes came to Labour because of that pronounced statement. As a matter of fact, I used to place before my electors a copy of the platform, in order to show that during the life of the Parliament then in existence there was no power within or without - neither the power of the Trades Hall nor any of the affiliated organizations of the movement - that could alter a” comma in that platform. I used to explain that the only power to alter the platform was an Inter-State conference, and that even such a conference could not, during the sittings of a Parliament, alter the platform except in so far as it applied to future Parliaments. I should like our honorable friends opposite to point out one plank Of the platform that has been broken by the Prime Minister or those associated with him. I have listened to honorable members opposite with very great patience, and I have heard plenty of abuse. I have heard honorable members on this side called “ renegades “ and “rats,” and of these charges I demand some proof, Those now associated with me have not broken one solitary plank of the Labour platform; we have not violated one principle; indeed, we, on this side - the Hughesites - are the only members of the Labour party who have carried, out . their - pledges in their entirety. One would also think from the speeches we have heard that “God strafe Hughes” is a recent cry,, which has arisen on account “of the part the Prime Minister took oh the. question of conscription. As a matter of fact, long before the Prime Minister had anything to do with conscription, the junta was at work, and carried resolution after resolution instructing not only Federal Labour ‘ men but State Labour men- t i
– These- were- not- instructions, but demands
– Yes ; demand’s were issued, and of the terms of these demands I shall place the House in possession. First of all, I should like to quote a reso’lution sent on to me from the Trades Hall in Adelaide, dated 5th July, 1916, before the Prime- Minister came back from England. The communication I received reads as follows : -
I have the honour to. forward copy of resolution carried by- the united Trades- and Labour Council on Friday last.
Listen to the resolution -
That the secretary be instructed to- issue a circular letter to all State and- Federal, members of the United Labour party in South Australian and Commonwealth Parliaments respectfully pointing out - to them, the resolution of the council to oppose any member on the next plebiscite who dares to support the pernicious policy of conscription -
These are the people .who talk about voluntarism - and to ascertain from them whether it is their intention to carry out the desire of the industrial workers, which is to oppose conscription of males of military age, and also the new scheme of a citizens’ levy, which is being engineered by the capitalistic class of this country.
Your reply to the above is required to reach this office within thirty days from date.
The reply I. sent, dated 17th July,, was as- follows : - ‘
Yours of the 5th instant I duly received^ and in reply to same beg to state -
I am in entire agreement.
Subsequently a conference was held in Adelaide, the conference which, as I have already pointed out, has no power to alter the Federal platform except in relation to future Parliaments. At that conference several resolutions were passed, one of which expressed absolute confidence in the present Prime Minister, and thanked him for the work he had done in England, and another of which, after more consideration, declared that the delegates were opposed to conscription, but in favour of the referendum. I should like to know what the Prime Minister, and those associated with him, have done other than support the referendum. The executive ofthe New South Wales Labour party expelled the Prime Minister because he introduced the referendum on the question of conscription, though there is not a member of the party who does not know that the referendum is part of our platform. If the Prime Minister did anything wrong in the matter of conscription, it was that he scrupulously adhered to the platform of the party, and left it to the people to decide whether that policy should or should not be adopted.. At the conclusion of the Labour Conference in Adelaide, the president was asked to give a ruling as to the position of members in view of the resolution carried, and the answer given was that every member had a free hand. To show that this was in the minds of the party at this particular stage, I should like to quote another communication sent to me by the Inter-State Executive of the United Labour party as follows : -
At a meeting of the executive, held to-day, the question or the reported expulsion of Mr. Hughes by the New South Wales Political Labour League Executive was discussed, and the following resolution was carried: -
That, in view of the resolution carried at our recent annual conference, expressing confidence in Mr. Hughes and the federal Government, our Federal members recognise Mr. Hughes as the Leader of the Federal Labour party.
Kindly convey the terms of this resolution to your fellow members representing South Australia.
That was after the conference; and on the 6th November the junta was still at work stirring up more trouble. Instead of ar ranging for the plebiscite for the elections in the ordinary way, it was determined, in the Australian Workers Union office in Adelaide, by a certain number who called themselves industrialists, that the plebiscite should be taken forthwith. It was arranged to have the nominations in by the 15th December, and to have the ballot some time in February. But, in order that we, who had faithfully carried out our pledges to our constituents, should not participate, a further step was taken. On the 6th November I received the following letter containing the names of those who had been declared disloyal for agitating conscription in the referendum campaign : -
I am instructed to call your attention to the following resolution carried at the adjourned special meeting of the council of the United Labour party, held on Friday, 3rd November: -
That we record in our minutes that the following members of the Federal and State Parliaments belonging to the United Labour party of South Australia were disloyal to the chief resolution of the conference of the United Labour party of 1916: -
I remind honorable members that the resolution referred to was the resolution on which the president of the conference in Adelaide gave the ruling that every man had a free hand - that every man could speak and vote as his conscience dictated in the matter of conscription. The letter continued - .
Members of the Legislative Council of South Australia. - Messrs. J. H. Vaughan, A. W. Styles, W. Harvey, and F. S. Wallis.
Members of House of Assembly. - Messrs. Crawford Vaughan, R. P. Blundell, H. Jackson, G. Goode, I. MacGillivray, H. Chesson, T. Green, J. A. Southwood, E. A. Anstey, W. D. Ponder, T. Ryan, F. W. Coneybeer, J. Verran, F. J. Herbert, P. Reidy, M. Parish, G. Dunn, T. H. Smeaton, and W. J. C. Cole.
– There was only one left in the House of Representatives, and none in the Senate; and the one in the House of Representatives had declared in favour of conscription, even at that very conference. He had gone before the executive, and said that he would stand by the present Prime Minister, and declared that if those who heard him knew the situation they would vote inthe game way as himself. In the State Parliament, where there is a Labor majority, there were left only seven, including two in the Legislative Council. Later on I received the following communication, dated 10th November : -
At the monthly council meeting held last evening, the following resolution was carried, which I was instructed to forward to you: -
That this council repudiates Mr. Hughes as Leader of the Labour party of Australia, seeing that he has been expelled by the executive of his party in New South Wales, and that the Federal members be instructed to carry out this resolution.
I was instructed to repudiate Mr. Hughes because he had been turned down by the executive of New South Wales, which action, they said, in a previous resolution, Federal members representing South Australia were not to take notice of. I have already read the resolution giving that instruction. What has any honorable member on this side of the House done that he has no right to do? I challenge any honorable member opposite to point to any principle of the Labour platform that has been violated by honorable members sitting with me on this side of the House. They cannot do it. What is the position now ? Formerly I could go before my constituents and say, ‘ ‘ Here is our platform. We are not ashamed of it. It will last for the life of this Parliament, and there is no power vested in any Caucus or Trades Hall or any other body to alter it during that period.” What have I to say to my constituents if I submit to this junta? I must say, “This is our platform for the time being, but it may be amended next week by the Federal Executive, or by a State conference, or by a State executive, which has nothing to do with the Federal conference.” The Federal conference, which draws up the platform of the Federal Labour party, represents all the States. What a nice position we would have with the State executive in New South Wales passing a resolution and instructing their representatives in the Federal Parliament to vote in a certain direction, and the party in Victoria passing a different resolution and instructing its representatives to vote in another direction ! A man could not go to his electors and say, “ This is the platform that is to remain for the life of this Parliament.” My word is my bond. I gave my word to my electors, and no party in this House, or outside it, is entitled to ask me or others to break our honest pledges to our constituents just in order to suit some party move for the time being. Yet that is what has been done. The junta have, so to speak, “ torn up their scrap of paper.” They pay no attention to the agreement between the honorable member for Hindmarsh, other honorable members, and myself, who have been sitting in this House for some time, and our constituents, that the platform on which we were elected, and that only, was binding on us, and only during the three years for which we were elected. On everything else wo were as free to vote as any man in this House who is not connected with the Labour party. What have we done that we should be called traitors, renegades, and rats to the party ? We have but obeyed the dictates of our consciences. To me there is only one question at issue. We are at war, and I say solemnly that in following the dictates of my conscience, I would even be justified, under the circumstances of the war, in breaking the platform on which I was elected. I would do it tomorrow if those circumstances arose. The Prime Minister asked no follower of his to do other than support the holding of the referendum, and I ask honorable members opposite, those who voted in this House for the Referendum Bill, what their position is. They know that the Prime Minister has broken no pledge, and that we who threw in our lot with him have done it solely in the interests of the Empire. Sometimes one would think that the country was not at war, and that the terrible goings on in Europe were unreal ; but there are a few here who realize we are at war, those who have been informed by cablegrams that their dear boys will not come back, or have been seriously wounded. When I hear the talk that I have heard since I have been in this chamber I say to myself, “ Good God ! Is this the House that ought to be defending the interests of the people while this terrible war is going on?” When I ask what pledge we have broken there is silence on the other side of the chamber. Honorable members opposite know that we have broken no pledge, and that when Mr. Hughes went out on the referendum campaign every man on either side of the chamber was perfectly free to vote or talk on either side of the question. But the junta which controls honorable members who are now in Opposition would not per- mit this. I well remember the attitude of those honorable members when they received their first notice from the Trades Hall, and how they resented it. They exclaimed, “ The impudence of these people, trying to dictate to us as. to how we should talk or speak on questions like this!” But they were all brought to heel.
– They signed a joint protest.
– Is that sol
– They signed a joint protest in New South Wales, and I think some honorable members have a copy of it, but there was not a man of them who stood out, except, perhaps, a few rebels. Talking about rebels, there are some Britishers who are a damned sight worse than many of the Germans who have been interned.
– Hear, hear - among the employers ! There are some who ought to be stood up against the wall and shot !
– Who. are they?
– Contractors- men who put cotton in woollen goods.
– The honorable member, may be correct, but it is no justification for his neglecting to do his duty. Some men would rob their own fathers, but that fact is no justification for the honorable member’s attitude. Some talk about recruiting. Are the speeches we have heard during the last few days calculated to improve recruiting? Why did I become a conscriptionist ? I travelled north, south, east, and west in the State of South Australia, and I found that one family had given all its. sons, while in the same street not one of a neighbour’s sons had gone. Wherever I travelled the people said to me, ‘” Why do you not bring in conscription? I am not going while that cold-footed son of my neighbour across the street does not go.” After conducting a most strenuous campaign under the voluntary system, I returned to Adelaide, and when standing on the platform between -the carriages on the run between Henley Beach and Adelaide, I heard a conversation between two strapping young fellows, who were also standing on the platform. They were discussing the results secured by the recruiting train, and one fellow said to the other, “You know, Jack, there will be some damned good jobs here when all these fellows go to the front.” I did not talk to them in parliamentary language. I talked to them in language which they understood. There has been too much of this hanging back while other people have been defending the country. Everything we possess we owe to the Old Country, and for a long time to come we must depend upon the Old Country, yet I read a speech delivered by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports the other day in which he tried to incite men to rebel.
– And he tried to do it in this House.
– Yes, he did the same in the House. As a legislator he ought to be ashamed of himself.
– I can give some backhanders.
– Order !
– There has been talk of unemployment. There is only one section in which unemployment is so acute. Mr. Mathews. - I will give you one or two on the solar plexus when I start.
– Order !
– Let me show what brings about their unemployment. Take the case of the carpenters. What a nice doctrine we have been trying to inculcate !
– You would not have been a conscriptionist only you thought your electors were conscriptionists.
– Order ! I ask the honorable member for Melbourne Ports to obey the calls from the Chair, and cease these interjections.
– I was in the Labour movement before the honorable member was ever thought of. I have a record dating back to 1879. Unlike the honorable member, I have not a city constituency. I have had to fight right through my electorate; I have had to carry my swag organizing the shearers. What has the honorable member done in the matter of organization ? He is what I call one of the drawing-room Labour men. He has never been outside the metropolitan area. Let him go out into the country, as I did away back in the seventies, when I had to shear for 10s. a hundred. Who is the man who secured the advantages for the shearers? It is Mr. W. G. Spence, who has done more in twelve months for the cause of Labour than the honorable member would do if he lived for a hundred years. And how have they treated him? He has been expelled for following the dictates of his own conscience. What has brought about some of the present unemployment? The pernicious doctrine preached and put into practice in certain places; for instance, at Broken Hill. It hits the carpenters more than any one else. It is the doctrine that no rents should he paid. That is a nice kind of doctrine. What right has a man to demand that he should stop in a house without paying rent? Some questions have been asked in the House recently with regard to soldiers’ wives and rent. If a soldier’s wife has not enough with which to pay the rent of her house, it is the duty of the War Council to pay her rent, but no person has the right to take any other person’s house and stay in it as long as he likes, and knock it about as much as he likes, and say that he will not pay rent for it. What people will put up houses when such a pernicious doctrine is put into practice ? I claim that this practice has something to do with the position in which some men are placed to-day.I wish it to be clearly understood that if a soldier’s wife has not the money with which to pay her rent, it is the duty of the War Council to pay it. It should be a charge on the public, and not a charge demanded from the individual.
– By the way, what has become of the War Council ?
– There is a State War Council in Victoria that is doing all that kind of work.
– And there is no doubt that it is of very great assistance to the Defence Department.
– I received a request from my district asking me to submit my name for nomination, and a nomination paper accompanied it. By way of reply, I sent a copy of the resolution which I have read, and said that I declined to accept nomination from a body which from day to day altered its mind. When I go before my constituents, I wish to be able to say to them, “ This is the platform to which I pledge myself, and which will bind me during the life of the Parliament.” Not a member opposite can deny that we were bound solely by the platform of the Labour party until the juntagot to work, . when they were whipped into submission. What was the object in trying to depose the Prime Minister? In the barber’s shop down the street you could hear of it. The day was a race day, and some members expected to get the execution over in time to go to the races. They were going to cut off the head of Mr. Hughes, and capture the Treasury bench with an anti-conscription Government. I and others were not included in the motion proposed to the party. Why were we left out? If Mr. Hughes was guilty of any wrongful conduct in advocating conscription, were not I and others equally guilty? We were not included, however, because it was desired to keep in the party enough members to induce the Governor-General to reconstitute the Government out of the Labour party. Their only policy is “God strafe Hughes!” In this House they have put forward no other policy. All we have heard from them is continuous abuse of a man who, like others, has made mistakes, but has honestly tried to do his duty. Have we not seen him going through the agonies of Gethsemane in trying to carry his party with him? Now they would sooner see Satan sent to England as the representative of Australia than let Mr. Hughes go. What was their attitude to him when he returned from England last year? They say now that he is not the man to represent them; but on his return last year they were fulsome in their congratulations to him because of the wonderful work he had done in England. Last night, however, we heard him condemned by them for what he had done there. I say, again, that no man has tried harder to keep the party together. If they had had the same courage as the rest of us, the party would be solid to-day. Some ofthem are sorry that they did not come over with us. One honorable gentleman got half-way, and I have since read in the newspapers that he had to induce another member - the honorable member for Melbourne Ports - to attend a meeting atFootscray to testify that his statements regarding his own conduct were true. That was a nice position for a member of this Parliament to allow himself to be placed in.
– If the honorable member states that as a fact, I say that the statement is a lie.
– The honorable member must withdraw that remark.
– The honorable member for Grey has stated what is inaccurate, and he knows it.
– Does the honorable member for Maribyrnong deny that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports went to the meeting at Footscray?
– The honorable member for Maribyrnong mus withdraw the disorderly remark that the statement of the honorable member for Grey was a lie.
– I withdraw the word “ lie.”
– The honorable member for Maribyrnong discovered in the end, as an excuse for the committee before which he was called, upon to appear, that some important business took him out of the Caucus room when the rest of us left.
– Is it in order for a member to continue statements that are offensive to another member, and which that other member has characterized as ill &cccura1)6 ^
– -The honorable member for Grey is referring to some statements which appeared in a newspaper, which the honorable member for Maribyrnong says were not accurate. There the matter must rest.
– I cannot understand this sudden concern of the honorable member for Cook for the feelings of other honorable members. He himself has not always shown such regard for the feelings of his fellow members. After the conscription referendum he cleared out of Australia quickly, leaving others to fight for him.
– I had a good pair from the other side.
– Yes, and perhaps the honorable member had a very successful trip. He ran away from the fight, and left his mates to fight for him. He talks about having regard for the feelings of other honorable members, but have I not sat here and heard the insults hurled by those on his side at honorable members on this side? You said that we were not game to speak on this motion, but when we do so it seems to hurt.
– I made no such remark. The statement is absolutely in-
BiC cu rst to
– The honorable member will have an opportunity to reply.
– If the honorable member did not run away, departing mysteriously in a steamer, and leaving his mates here to fight for him, I apologize for my statements.
– You are pretty dirty, anyhow.’
– The honorable member for Cook must withdraw that remark, and apologize for having uttered it.
– In accordance with the Standing Orders, I withdraw it, and ask you-
– Order 1 The honorable member for Grey.
– On a point of order I ask whether the honorable member for Grey is in order in addressing me personally. Do not the Standing Orders require him to address the Chair ?
– The honorable member for Cook is right. All honorable members when speaking in this chamber must address their remarks to the Chair.
– I apologize, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for having noticed the honorable member. He is not worthy of notice.
– I trust that the honorable member for Grey and other honorable members will uphold the dignity of the House by ceasing to indulge in personal recriminations.
– I ask that the remark that I am not worthy of notice be withdrawn.
– I ask the honorable member for Grey to withdraw it.
– I do so. I again challenge honorable members opposite to produce evidence that any Labour man on this side of the House - and we are as good as any others - ever broke any plank of the Labour platform.
– The cream of the Labour party is on this side of the House
– One would think that it is our fault that the honorable member for Grey lost the Treasurership. .
– I resigned that office in the interests of the Empire, and I have not cried about it as some others would probably have done.
– You cried for four years after losing the Chairmanship of Committees.
– I appeal to the honorable member for Melbourne Ports to cease interrupting.
– I apologize.
– Knowing the great problems that confront us, I felt it my bounden duty to do what I could to bring about the creation of the strongest Ministry that we could place on the Treasury bench, so that the members of this Parliament might unite in the effort to win the war. I willingly gave up the Treasurership, and no one has heard me make any complaint. Some honorable members opposite have tried to make me sore, but I am1 not to be caught with their chaff. I challenge them to produce evidence that we have broken any pledge, or to show that the resolutions that I have read and put into the Hansard record were not agreed to. Should there be any doubt as to the accuracy of them, I can produce the original letter, which I have in a room close by. I never felt freer, and my conscience was never clearer, than now. I would sooner be shot than refuse to act in accordance with the dic- tates of conscience during this war. I am sorry that the honorable member for Newcastle made a certain interjection last night.. I can only attribute it to the heat and excitement of the moment.
– I have explained it.
– Yes, but it has gone out to the public. I am very sorry that the honorable gentleman should have suggested that none of those on this side have sons who have gone to the front. Quite a number of those on this side are represented at the front by their sons.
– I have two sons there. .
– Those who have got their sons back safely ought to thank God for it. It is time that this talk about our being renegades and rats in regard to the Labour movement should be given its proper value. Mr. Hughes has not done anything to justify the continuous abuse that he has received. The Official Labour party would have kept Mr. Cook in power until the end of the war, and offered to do so. Now many of those who had followed Mr. Hughes wish to turn him out of public life, and to crucify him. Why? Is it because they know that they have made a mistake. Can they show that he has broken any pledge? When honorable members opposite complain that hard things have been said, do they forget the hard things that were said by them during the conscription referendum campaign ? I never knew a political campaign in which harder and more cruel things were said on both sides. But is that to be charged against one man? Do not honorable members opposite recognise what Mr. Hughes has done in the past, and do they not know that he has been faithful to the Labour movement? If he has not broken any pledge, why is there this animosity against him ? It is the junta outside which gives instructions to honorable members opposite. It has been resolved that he is not to go to England. Half a dozen of these fellows outside, who only a little while ago were throwing up their hats for Mr. Hughes, are to-day crying, “Crucify him!” I am tired of this. Honorable members opposite should try to deal fairly and honorably. I have a perfect right to stand by a leader who has broken no pledge made to the party or to his constituents. I leave it to the consciences of honorable members opposite to justify what they have done.
– By way of personal explanation I wish to say that an interjection made last night when smarting under the taunt that those on this side were disloyal has been given a wider application than I intended. I intended it to apply only to some honorable members, but when I read it in print I saw that it conveyed a wider meaning.
– The statement was made last night by the honorable member for Henty, and has been repeated to-night by the honorable member for Grey, that I left a party meeting under certain circumstances. The original statement on which those statements were based was untrue, and malicious, and it has been unfairly repeated in the press, at meetings, and in this House. I have a crowd of witnesses to prove its untruth, and it is distinctly unfair, whatever heat may be engendered in debate, for honorable members opposite, who have no ground for what they say but merely malicious newspaper paragraphs, to make insinuations against me. I do not care personally, but in the interests of the movement to which I belong I object to statements which are absolutely untrue, and are nothing more nor less than lies.
– Did not the honorable member go out of the meeting?
– It is said that I followed Mr. Hughes. The honorable member knows that that is not true.
.- I move -
That all the words after “ existence,” line one, be struck out, with a view to inserting such words as will cause the motion to read as follows : -
Whereas by reason of the existence of a coalition Government formed behind the backs of the people, having no popular mandate or indorsement, and consisting mainly of the old Liberal party, whose policy and administration were decisively defeated at the last general election held in September, 1914, during the currency of the war, together with a small number of members who have deserted the Australian Labour party, and broken the written pledges upon which they were elected, and it is intolerable that such a Government should remain in office without popular sanction; and whereas it is proposed that our control of the Commonwealth Constitution and the amendment thereof should be superseded by an appeal to the Imperial Parliament for such an alteration as will enable the Coalition to retain office beyond the ordinary term of Parliament as fixed by the said Constitution; and whereas the delegates chosen by the Government to go to the Imperial Conference in no sense represent Australia; and whereas the principle of compulsory military service abroad having been defeated at the recent referendum, and in order that Australia may render the fullest support to Great Britain, having due regard to the vital necessities of the Commonwealth, and that this purpose can only be effected by a Government enjoying the confidence of the people: Now, therefore, this House resolves that an election of the eighteen retiring senators and the members of the House of Representatives shall be held on the same day in April or May of this year.
– I rise to a point of order. The amendment which the honorable member has just moved contains an inaccurate statement which is a distinct reflection upon honorable members on this side of the House. I refer to the paragraph in whichhe alludes to honorable members as having broken the written pledges on which they were elected. The statement is not true, and should not appear in the amendment.
– It is true.
– Order ! The Prime Minister has submitted a motion in which the House is invited to express its opinion regarding a proposal to prolong the life of this Parliament. The amendment which the honorable member desires to move is, in my opinion, altogether foreign to the motion before the Chair, and I therefore rule it out of order.
– The amendment which I desired to move, and which you, sir, have ruled out of order, is a declaration that bears the indorsement of the party to which I belong.
An Honorable Member. - And the imprint of the Kaiser.
– The honorable member for Moreton has just stated that the amendment also has the imprint of the Kaiser. I ask that that remark be withdrawn.
– I do not see any imprint of the Kaiser on the notice of amendment which the honorable member for Cook has handed to me.
– I think, sir, that you should ask the honorable member for Moreton to withdraw the remark. Insinuations about the Kaiser and Germany are made apparently in a jocular way in this House, but they appear in print, and some people outside believe that they have been uttered in earnest. I ask, therefore, that this particularly insulting remark be withdrawn.
– I did not hear the honorable member for Moreton make the imputation that the terms of the amendment bore the imprint of the Kaiser. I ask honorable members to cease interjecting, and bo permit the honorable member for Cook to proceed without interruption.
– Honorable members on the Government side of the House can say anything they please.
– I call upon the honorable member for Illawarra to withdraw that remark, and bo apologize to the Chair for having made it.
– I will willingly withdraw it if you will ask the honorable member for Moreton to withdraw what he said.
– Order ! I have called upon the honorable member to unconditionally withdraw the remark.
– I will not.
– Then I name the honorable member.
– Make the honorable member for Moreton withdraw his remark, and I will willingly withdraw what I said.
– I hope that the honorable member will withdraw the remark to which exception has been taken.
– In deference to the Acting Leader of the Government, I withdraw it.
– I called upon the honorable member not only to withdraw, but to apologize.
– I apologize. If there is anything else you want me to do, I will do it willingly.
– There is something that I desire the honorable member to do, and that is to uphold his own dignity, and that of the Parliament, and to conform to the rules of the House. My attention has been called to a remark said to have been made by the honorable member for Moreton, and which is deemed offensive by the honorable member for Cook. I did not hear it; otherwise I should have called him to order if I considered it to be offensive. I ask him now to withdraw it.
– I withdraw the statement, but I did not make it.
– The question under consideration involves three matters of vital public policy -
– Order ! The honorable member is now trying to get in something that I have ruled out of order. The question before the chair does not embrace any of these things.
– I do not think, sir, that you could have heard what I was saying when you interposed. Representation of Australia, at a special Imperial Conference by men whom Australia: has repudiated, is fraught with the danger of restricting Australia’s freedom as a self-governing dominion.
I submit that I am absolutely in order.
– The honorable member is not in order, and I ask him to obey the ruling of the chair.
– I shall deal with these questions in their order -
Then came a fine piece of manoeuvring. Sir William Irvine said that the elections could not be constitutionally stopped.
– The honorable member must refer to members by the names of their constituencies.
- Mr. Hughes mentioned invoking the Imperial Parliament to alter the Constitution, as one alternative amongst others. Sir William Irvine-
– I again ask the honorable member to refer to members by the names of their constituencies. . ,
– I am referring now to what appeared in the press at a time when Sir William Irvine was not a member of the House, but an ordinary citizen.
Sir William Irvine cried, “ Ah, Mr. Hughes wishes to invoke the Imperial Parliament to interfere with our affairs.” Mr. Hughes immediately repudiated this by saying, “ I said it could be done, not that it should be done.”
– From what is the honorable member reading?
– From my own notes, just as the Prime Minister read from his notes when he submitted this motion.
Mr. Hughes and Sir William Irvine, Mr. Cook and Mr. Watt, on behalf of their respective parties, each repudiated the idea that Britain should alter our Australian Constitution.
The language employed by Mr. Cook, and reported in the Sydney Daily Telegraph on the 17th August, 1914, is especially pertinent to the present occasion. He said -
To have done so would have been to invite the Imperial Parliament to deprive the people of a great self-governing Dominion of the right to choose their own Legislature.
And, further, in the Sydney Daily Telegraph, of 2nd September, 1914, he said -
To invoke the Imperial Parliament was, perhaps, the last thing to be thought of in Australia.
An appeal to the Imperial Parliament to interfere with Australia’s Constitution was, to the minds of these men a little over two years ago, the last thing to be thought of, an unpardonable offence, notwithstanding that war and panic were raging.
The next example of the extension of the life of Parliament scheme appeared in New South Wales, when Messrs. Holman and Wade, both afraid to face the electors, arranged to postpone the elections for twelve months. Again, a Coalition and so-called National Government was formed behind the backs of the people. Again, the war was the excuse. A Government which could have nothing to do with the conduct of the war pleaded a “ win-the-war “ justification for depriving the people of New South Wales of their constitutional right of electing their Legislature at the proper time. Having postponed the appeal to the country by trickery and fraud, this Government have now sprung elections on New South Wales by surprise, giving the electors one week in which to enrol, hoping that by reason of the disfranchisement of ‘tens of thousands of the citizens of New South Wales, and by jerrymandering the elections, to impose their despotic rule upon the people.
Now in the Federal Parliament we have the third bad example - another Coalition formed behind the backs of the people, another so-called “ National Government,” another so-called “ winthewar “ policy, another base betrayal of the people, another attempt at disfranchisement of the electors. The “ war “ and the “flag” are being prostituted to cover the most loathsome devices in order to divert the attention of the people while their constitutional freedom and liberty are being filched from them. This instance amply justifies the famous remark of Dr. Johnson, when patriotism was being abused, that “ Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.”
It is a public scandal that there should exist in an Australian Parliament men so recreant to their trust, so disloyal to the people of Australia, and so lost ito a sense of their duty, as to attempt to invoke the aid of Great Britain unconstitutionally to disrupt our Constitution and interfere with our self-government.
Such men should be impeached for their disloyalty to Australia, for, if it becomes established by precedent, inspired by Australia itself, that section 128 of the Constitution may be overcome and lightly regarded, our freedom and self-government will be in perpetual jeopardy from any accidental and immoral coalition of politicians, recreant to their election pledges, petitioning the Imperial Parliament for an amendment of the Constitution.
It is nothing short of a calamity, both in the Empire sense and in its Australian significance, that this fresh apple of discord has been thrown amongst us, for the people of Australia are not only threatened with violence from without, but are menaced by the threat that our freedom shall be exchanged for slavery, our independence for the status of a subject race.
If a Legislature 16,000 miles away may alter our constitutional and individual status in defiance of the Constitution itself, this self-governing Dominion of Australia will be relegated to the position of India.
To thwart this foul conspiracy the passion and strength of every true Australian should be aroused in defence of Australia’s most sacred and cherished possession- our Federal Constitution.
Speaking in Parliament on the 22nd February, the Prime Minister said -
This war …. has created many and vitally important problems - economic, political, national, and Imperial, which compel our earnest and immediate attention. The solution of many of these does not lie in our hands; they are Imperial in their nature. Sir, the Dominions - that league of free, selfgoverning nations, which ‘form part of what is called . the British Empire - are now summoned to a Conference at the heart of the Empire to consider great problems. This Conference marks a new epoch in Imperial development. The scope of its deliberations is so wide as to cover all matters directly relating to the war or arising out of it. The Conference will, for example, consider the conduct of the war; peace, and the terms upon which the Empire will agree to it; Imperial trade, including preference; and the constitution of the Empire.
The following cable in the Sydney Daily Telegraph, of the 24th February, is significant : -
New York, Friday. - The Washington correspondent of the New York Tribune has learned in diplomatic quarters that the subjects of discussion at the Imperial Conference will include the establishment of an Imperial Parliament, with representatives of Britain and self-governing Dominions, and India; the joint controloftheEmpire’sforeignandImperial policies;theconsolidationofcertainoutlying British Possessions; greater self-government for India; the participation of the colonies and India at the Peace Conference, and the Dominions’ demand for a larger share in the determination of foreign policy.
Several days previous to this, the Prime Minister announced that Sir William Irvine’s presence was required at the Conference because of his special constitutional knowledge.
Additional light is thrown on the subject by Douglas Sladen, who published in London, about the middle of last year, an autobiographical sketch of the Prime Minister with the latter ‘s knowledge”, concurrence, and assistance.
– I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable member in order in reading every line of his speech?
– The Standing Orders provide that an honorable member may not read his speech. I have been following the honorable member for Cook very closely, and, to say the. least, I think his are the most ex tensive notes I have ever observed. I must ask the honorable member to observe the rules of the House, and not read his speech.
– Would the honorable member for Cook be in order in adopting the American system and handing in his speech ?
– No honorable member would be in order in doing that. An honorable member must address his remarks to the Chamber without the assistance of a written speech.
– Honorable members opposite have been complaining very bitterly of personal attacks, and of insinuations made regarding them. I rose to address my remarks to the Chamber, in, I hope, the most respectful manner. I have made no personal reference to anybody, and yet, on the other side, there is the utmost bad feeling. Honorable members know that the Prime Minister read every word of his speech, and no exception was taken.
– You are not the Prime Minister !
– I have prepared my notes, but I am not reading the speech. I have my notes on one side of the paper, as I am now showing to honorable members, my pencil notes on one-half of the sheets of paper I hold in my hand, and the quotations I desire to make on the other.
When the honorable member for Henty interrupted me I was making a quotation from a book by Mr. Douglas Sladen, who gives a sketch of the Prime Minister’s life.
The honorable member for Henty is absolutely incorrect in the statement he made, and he made it because he thinks it will go into the Hansard record and prejudice my speech when it is read outside. I submit that honorable members who complain so bitterly of personal attacks might allow me to proceed with my remarks without exhibiting so much bad feeling.
This book by Mr. Douglas Sladen was written with the Prime Minister’s knowledge, concurrence, and consent, as is shown in the book itself in the fact that the Prime Minister has written several of the articles, and by the indication that the book was submitted to him.
I am quoting from this book as evidence to show the conspiracy that has been entered into for the formation of an Imperial Constitution and Imperial Federation, which must take from the self-governing powers of the Australian Constitution and must restrict the selfgoverning rights of this Commonwealth.
– Nothing can be done before the proposal has been re-submitted to this Parliament.
– If the Prime Minister goes to England and in secret commits Australia to this, that, or the other, and when he returns we are informed of the fact, we are expected to stand by the commitment. The Prime Minister went to England last year; and if it had not been for his pledging this country to raise more troops than the country could legitimately spare, we should not have the difficulties we find ourselves in to-day. He never consulted anybody, but committed the Commonwealth to action which fitted in with his ideas, and his ideas alone.
We are entitled to have a full discussion on the purpose of this Conference before these gentlemen go to England to prejudice the case for Australia.
This book, published with the concurrence of the Prime Minister, is entitled, From. Boundary Rider to Prime Minister; Hughes of Australia, and on page 44 there appears the following : -
In the three Cabinets in which Mr. Fisher was Premier, Mr. Hughes was his AttorneyGeneral, and on Mr. Fisher’s resigning the Premiership in the autumn of 1915 to assume the High Commissionership for Australia, Mr. Hughes succeeded him.
Their being in London together may have some bearing on a problem of the near future. For between them they own all the powers over Australian affairs, which would be vested in the Australian member of a Federal Council of the Empire, if there were one or of the Australian member of the British Cabinet, if after the war, the Cabinet were always made to include an Australian, a New Zealander, a Canadian, and a South African.
No workable plan to meet the case of Imperial Federation seems yet to have been devised. But it is certain that the Dominions will be invited into the councils of the Empire in some way, after the magnificent manner in which they have supported the Empire in the war.
Having been accustomed to act together for so many years, Mr. Hughes and Mr. Fisher have a better chance of solving the problem of the new office which will come half way between their own. .- For the moment the chief importance of the position is that the new Ambassador of Australia in London is a man thoroughly in touch with the Labour party, which is omnipotent in Australia, as well as heart and soul in the war, and in the closest personal association with the most brilliant and powerful Prime Minister who has ever adorned a British colony.
– He made a mistake in saying you are heart and soul in the war !
– He said that Mr. Fisher was heart and soul in the war. The honorable member is so anxious to fasten the stigma of disloyalty on this party that his hearing cannot make a correct impression upon his mind.
On page 102 of the same book, one of the Prime Minister’s English speeches is reproduced, from which the following is taken : -
Quite apart from the idea of a self-contained Empire, there is the idea of Britain as an organized nation. And the British Empire as an organized Empire, organized for trade, for industry, for economic justice, for national defence, -for the preservation of the world’s peace, for the protection of the weak against the strong - that is a noble ideal. It ought to be; it must be ours. Let us take this solemn lesson to heart.’ Let us resolutely, putting aside considerations of party, class, and doctrine without delay, proceed ‘ to devise a policy for the British Empire, a policy which shall cover every phase of our national, economic, and social life; which shall develop the tremendous resources, and yet be compatible with those ideals of liberty and justice for which our ancestors fought and died.
Mark the passage which’ advocates Imperial Federation - “ A policy which shall cover every phase of our national, economic, and social life.” That shows the Prime Minister was preparing to throw the Commonwealth Constitution into the melting pot of Imperial Federation, together with our Australian institutions, in the middle of last year, before any conflict arose between him and the members of the Labour party. It shows conclusively that the Prime Minister had decided to attempt to carry the Labour party with him in disrupting the . Australian Constitution, and putting our economic position into the crucible with India and Great Britain - putting our trade into jeopardy - and that the” ideals and aspirations of this country were to be thrown overboard and compromised by existing conditions, economical, social, and industrial, in other parts of the Empire.
Then, under the heading of the “ Cost of the Navy,” the following appears in the Daily Telegraph of the 26th February,
Sir Joseph Ward is talking a good deal in England about unity of the Empire and trade hostility against Germany after the war. He would not let .a German ship coal in a British port, nor use the Suez Canal, nor much besides. He would carry on the war after it was over. Here is another suggestion of his in the Empire Review -
With regard to the provision of the necessary funds for founding and maintaining an Empire Navy, I would make a suggestion. The population of the United Kingdom and oversea countries, without counting India or the Crown colonies, may roughly be said to be 60,000,000 persons; if, then, we agree upon a contribution of 10s. per head it would provide an annual income of £30,000,000, which, at 6 per cent, would provide in normal times the payment of interest- and make provision for a sinking fund of £500,000,000. With this money at our disposal, we could build docks, as well as provide coaling and oil stations in every part of the Empire. We could also have a Navy so powerful and so complete that no combination of enemies would dare to try conclusions with its Fleet. Again, the plan I. propose would lessen the expense to the British taxpayer and also reasonably and equitably increase the contribution from overseas Dominions. I venture to commend it to the consideration of the Home and Dominion Governments.
There is a comment on that by the financial editor of the Daily Telegraph -
Now, to build another Navy and coaling stations at a cost of £500,000,000 would require 20 per cent, per annum, or £ 100,000,000, for upkeep and depreciation. Where would that come from? The interest is only a small part of the charge that would be incurred. The time limit does not permit of the consideration in detail of the full meaning and effect of this scheme of Imperial Federation, but such a scheme will certainly cover the following -
It will superimpose upon Australia an eighth Parliament. >2. Heavy additional taxation will be required to pay Australia’s share in this huge undertaking.
The .Australian Constitution will have to be recast and restricted. There cannot be a new additional Empire Constitution governing Australia without taking away some of the powers of our present Commonwealth Constitution.
Naval Defence. - An Australian-owned and controlled Navy will soon become a thing of the past.
Land Defence. - Imperial defence means conscription within the Empire.
Conscription on every frontier of the Empire - Indian, Egyptian, South African, Canadian, or any other of the wide-flung frontiers of the Empire.
– Order ! I am allowing the honorable member, as I allow every other honorable member, considerable latitude, but he is now discussing something that is problematical, which may take place as the result of the calling together of a body that is not yet in existence, namely, the Imperial War Conference. The motion before the House does not cover any executive act on their part at all. It deals only with’ the question of extending the life of this Parliament in order that members of it may attend the Conference to discuss, and not to determine, certain matters. .The honorable member for Cook is now dealing with something which he says is going to be determined. I ask him not to continue on those lines.
– What I am pointing out is that the motion before the House asks that our Australian Constitution should -be abrogated whilst certain gentlemen go to an Imperial Conference to represent Australia. I have quoted the remarks of the Prime Minister, who has said that the question of Imperial Federation and the purpose of Imperial Federation will be discussed. I have referred also to a statement made by the Prime Minister in a speech delivered in England, and I have shown that the matter has been discussed by Sir Joseph Ward and the Sydney Daily Telegraph. These things cannot come into operation unless such a Constitution is superimposed upon us. And what I say is that these gentlemen are going to England purporting to represent Australia, and it is therefore desirable to discuss the trend of Imperial Federation. If there is to be Imperial Federation for Imperial defence, and Mr. Hughes says that is one of the problems to be taken into account, we cannot have Imperial defence without our separate Australian defence being merged in the Empire military scheme.
If that be so, our Australian military scheme must go overboard. If we are to be a part of the Empire responsible for defending the whole of . the Empire, that .means conscription over the whole of the Empire and that Australians may be compelled to fight on any frontier of the Empire, whether it be in India, Egypt, Great
Britain, South Africa, or any of the British possessions in the various parts of the world.
– Quite right, too.
– The honorable member for Wilmot says “ Quite right, too.” If he believes that there should be Imperial Federation with the object of the conscription of Australians for service anywhere in the Empire he is entitled to his own opinion. I do not agree with him, and I enter my most emphatic protest against men who are believers in conscription going to Great Britain probably to prejudice this country by the acceptance of a scheme which will involve the conscription of the men of this country after the proposal has been turned down at the polls in Australia.
The White Australia policy would be prejudiced under such a scheme. There are 60,000,000 of white people in the Empire, and 5,000,000 of these are in Australia. But the Empire includes some 400,000,000 of coloured people. In an Empire Parliament we should have representation on behalf of 5,000,000 out of 60,000,000 of white people, and if the coloured races are to. be represented - and it has been said that India should be included in the scheme - we should have representation on behalf of 5,000,000 out of about 500,000,000 people. Is cannot be expected that a Parliament of that kind would permit us to retain our White Australia policy.
– The White Australia policy has been juggled about badly in connexion with the poor Maltese. Our treatment of them is not much to the credit of White Australia.
– The honorable member should not be following a leader who is bringing Maltese into this country to take the places of our men going to light at the front.
During the referendum campaign I pointed out the hypocrisy that was being practised. When these Maltese were brought out, and arrived at Fremantle, they were not allowed to land, because the wharf labourers found outabout them, and telegrams were sent to the various ports of Australia. They were then brought round to Sydney; and although the fact was not allowed to be published because ofthe action ofthe censor, Mr. Hughes proposed to send them on to Noumea until the referendum was over, when they would be brought back to Sydney. Now they are back, and the attempt is being made to sneak them into Australia. This shows the hypocrisy of the whole thing. It shows that if honorable gentlemen opposite had their own way, and the Democracy of Australia was not very vigilant, all sorts of labour would be smuggled in here to take the place of Australians who go away to the war.
How would this proposal for Imperial Federation affect our protected industries ? We should have Free Trade within the Empire. Australian industries would be swamped with the cheap labour goods of Great Britain and India.
These are merely hints of what would occur if the ambitions of this Welsh Prime Minister are given effect to, this gentleman who goes to Great Britain and does not say “Australia for ever best,” but “ Wales for ever best.”
– Good luck to him.
– We should have men representing Australia in this Parliament, at any rate, who are Australian in sentiment, no matter where they may have been born.
– Hear, hear!
– In this country we have two kinds of Englishmen. There are Englishmen coming here who continue to consider themselves as Englishmen. There are others who consider themselves Australians, and are prepared to do their best for the land of their adoption. Unfortunately, we have some Englishmen here who would sacrifice this country. They are not, never have been, and never will be, Australians; and such a man is the man who, unfortunately, is Prime Minister of the Commonwealth to-day.
– The honorable member must withdraw that statement. It is distinctly out of order.
– What is out of order ?
– The honorable member’s reference to the Prime Minister as one who is disloyal to Australia.
– I did not know that the Standing Orders provided for all these things; but as you, sir, compel me to do so, I withdraw the statement.
– Is it impossible for the honorable member to withdraw gracefully?
– Is it possible for me to get a fair deal in this Chamber? Why should my relevant speech be interrupted? Australia should be represented at the Imperial Conference only .by thoroughly trusted Australians, -whether they have been bom here or have come here from the Mother Country. They should be representatives of a Government that fully enjoys, the confidence of the people of Australia, and they should go to the Conference only after a thorough ventilation of the scheme of Imperial Federation in the Parliament, in the press, and from the platforms, of the Commonwealth. Instead of that, there has been no open discussion of the question of Imperial Federation.
These delegates are trying to steal off from Australia -without telling the people of the Commonwealth what their real mission is. They are trying to do something behind the backs of the people. Even the colleagues of the Prime Minister have never seen the invitation he received from Great Britain, and do not know its real purport.
The Prime Minister has left his party and repudiated his written election pledges. He has been expelled by all political and industrial associations with which he was connected. His electorate has disowned him, and the Commonwealth has declared emphatically against his leadership.
The other two delegates - the honorable member for Flinders and the Treasurer - were Ministers at the outbreak of the war. They went to the country, and the country emphatically ejected them from office.
– My constituents did not do so.
– They appealed to the country as administrators of the Commonwealth at the last general election, and the people emphatically repudiated them and returned majorities against them in both Houses, yet by underground engineering they are now on the Treasury bench in defiance of the will of the people.
– What written pledge has the Prime Minister broken ?
– I have no time now to discuss that aspect of the question, but on the debate on the Ministerial statement I shall read for the benefit of the honorable member pamphlets written by the Prime Minister during the last election campaign and signed with his name and show that the honorable member and his friends opposite are pledged to the exact contrary to what is contained in those pamphlets.
The gentlemen who have been announced as Australia’s representatives to the Imperial Conference are opposed to Australian public opinion. On the only vital point of Australian policy during this war, namely, that of conscription for service overseas, they have been repudiated by the people of the country.
The Prime Minister is not an Aus; tralian by birth; he is not an Australian in sentiment, but merely an Imperial jingo.
The honorable member for Flinders is not Australian born; he has never been Australian in sentiment, and he will never be Australian in sentiment.
The Treasurer, who is Australian born, is as big an Imperial jingo as either of the other two, and belongs to a period of Australian history when it was a disgrace to ask for anything made in Australia, when it was good form to go into a shop and ask for imported goods. Such a condition of things existed then that Australian manufacturers had to put English brands on their goods, and tell lies in order to sell them.
The Treasurer, with all his frills and furbelows, his red, white, and blue coats and sashes, his medals, and his various letters of distinction that he always puts behind the speeches which he issues from this House, belongs to that period. He has his eye on Great Britain more than on Australia. In a word, these three gentlemen ar- about the last three men in Australia who should attempt to represent Australian sentiment at the heart of ‘ the Empire.
– After all that talk the honorable member needs a breather.
– Well, I feel very keenly on this matter. There are some gentlemen in this House with aspirations in regard to Imperial federation and big positions in connexion “with it, such as representation in the Imperial Parliament and in the Imperial Councils. The best interests of Australia are being sacrificed to those ambitions, and it is about time that some Australian began to speak out about the matter.
These gentlemen are moving heaven and earth in order to prevent an appeal to the country. This Parliament is due to go to the country within the next two or three months.- Why cannot they allow Parliament to go to the country and permit the people to say who should occupy the Treasury benches ? We will never have a workable Parliament here until the people give an indorsement of those who occupy the Treasury benches.
Can we expect the voluntary recruiting to succeed when every man occupying a seat on the Government side is a -confirmed conscriptionist, and when there is not a man in any position throughout Australia in connexion with the recruiting scheme who is not a confirmed conscriptionist? Not one man who is in favour of the voluntary system has been asked to take one of these positions.
– Does the honorable member say that I am a conscriptionist?
– The honorable member did not quite know whether to be a conscriptionist or not a little while ago, but when he went to his constituency the first meeting he held soon convinced him, and afterwards he was a thorough anti-conscriptionist. But after the referendum was over he ranged himself behind the conscriptionist leader and a conscriptionist Government, and if he still claims to be in favour of the voluntary system he is the solitary exception amongst those who sit on the Government side of the House.
– The honorable member knows very well that I supported Senator Gardiner’s proposition, and if that gentleman is a conscriptionist so am 1.
– I do not know how the honorable member may qualify his attitude; it has nothing to do with me, but if he is still in favour of the voluntary system he is the one solitary example on that side of the House.
Can we expect Labour legislation from Conservatives, or Labour administration from those opposed to Labour? How, then, can we expect the best results for the voluntary system from those who are pronounced enemies of voluntarism? If Australia is failing in all that it might Be expected to do in connexion with the war it is due in the first place to the fact that the Prime Minister came back here and despotically threw down the apple of discord in a country where there was unity of effort. He divided the people into two hostile factions. His Government is now endeavouring to carry out a system which they said could never be made to succeed. Every man concerned with the administration of the voluntary system of recruiting now is an enemy of what he is trying to administer. Can we expect voluntarism to succeed in such circumstances? We must expect the opposite.
– Does the honorable member say that the Director of Recruiting is not putting forward a bond fide effort?
– I do. not say that, but he is a conscriptionist. and one of the essentials of any scheme that requires enthusiasm is that a- man should have sympathy with what he is endeavouring to administer.
– What enthusiasm has the honorable member shown in connexion with it ?
– I have a statement from the Minister for Defence to the effect that I was the best recruiting agent Australia had ever had.
– The honorable member said that he was going to the front, but his services were too valuable at home.
– When I received my war census card I answered it “Yes “ straight out. The honorable member who has a lot to say about the matter shelters himself behind the fact that he is slightly over the military age, though any one looking at him would judge him to be more physically fit than a younger man like myself. He has done nothing. I guarantee that for every man he has got to the colours I have got 100.
– The debate is getting personal again.
– Not on my part. The honorable member made personal interjections. I can only say that I will put my effort in the war against his effort at any time. My parentage is British on both sides; my grandfather and grandmother on both sides were British, so every drop of blood in my veins is British. These old men, when living, though firstclass citizens of Australia and of the Empire, are not Australians themselves. Unfortunately, it sometimes takes two or three generations before Australia is understood.
Australia does want to help the Empire, but good Australians want to see that Australia is not absolutely ruined. They want to see that Australian interests are taken into consideration, but, unfortunately, the major influences on the Government benches do not care a hang about Australia. As long as their ideas of Imperial Federation are conserved, Australia can remain a mere tail-end of Great Britain.
– What a reckless “blatherskite “ you are !
– Order ! The” honorable member must withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it, Mr. Speaker.
– If this Government, which professes to have the confidence of the people, have the courage to go to the people at the proper time, when Parliament shall expire by effluxion of time, Australia will undoubtedly return a Parliament that will have the confidence of the people, and that will do its very best to see that, while helping the Empire in this great war, Australian interests are fully preserved.
– I rise to say that I intend to support the motion before the House. The position in which Australia is placed is a solid reason why this country should be represented at the Conference, and surely the proper representative is the Prime Minister, the man who, before the rift in the lute occurred, we acclaimed on all sides as being the one man who should be the representative of all classes. At the time of which I speak, it was said that Mr. Hughes, more than any other man in Australia, represented the patriotic feelings of Labour as well as those other loyal people of this Commonwealth who, whilst opposed to Labour, were insistent upon putting the question .of winning the war before all other questions. Unfortunately something has happened to dethrone him from the high place he occupied; at least it is alleged something has happened which has made him utterly unworthy and untrustworthy, if we are really to believe what has been said during the course of this debate. We have been told he now represents nobody, or, at all events, only a small section of the people, and that he has allied himself to another party which represents certainly a very large section of the people of Australia. As an anti-conscriptionist, and one who has held that view ever since I had any thought on the subject at all, I think the Prime Minister has as truly a right to represent Labour and the Labour platform as ever he had, and I will be able to show honorable members that, notwithstanding the fact that I opposed the Prime Minister both within the party and throughout my huge constituency during the conscription campaign, I am bound now to follow him, since the Official Labour party can no longer allow me, or men like myself who believe in freedom of conscience, and freedom of opinion, to shelter under their banner. Immediately after the . disruption of our party, and when I left the room with Mr. Hughes, I said that if the proclamation were withdrawn, and so long as the new Government respected the will of the people, they could be assured of my vote, and that never again until freedom is established there would I go back to the Caucus room where, notwithstanding many of my friends still remain, and where principles that I believe in with regard to other matters less vital than this issue are perhaps more readily recognised than amongst the gentlemen with whom I find myself now. Notwithstanding that an attempt has been made to associate the Government with conscription, I am convinced that the will of the people will be respected. The moment it is not respected the Government will receive no vote of mine. The honorable member for Cook said I became an anticonscriptionist after my first meeting, and when I found my constituents were against me. He knows perfectly well that, in the party room - I need not go into details. - I took a view diametrically opposed to the view expressed by the conscriptionists. I held the view that, in the vast mass of loyal Labourites of Australia, every man in t>he movement had a perfect right to hold an opinion either for or against conscription, but that when the people had decided the question they should loyally abide by that decision. Thus I saw no reason for the disruption of our party. That this is the view of all freedom-loving people will be evidenced by the impotence in the future of the party that allowed itself to be dominated by a section which knew not what the sweet term of liberty means. The honorable member for Cook said that, at my first meeting, I became convinced that I was on the wrong side of the fence. Now, I will quote from the Sydney Morning Herald of the 29th July, 1916-I think that was before the Prime Minister returned from England - what I said at a public gathering at which members of the Federal and State Parliaments made speeches. The report of my speech stated -
Mr. Lynch, M.P. for Werriwa, said that if a system of universal service was introduced it must be one under which absolutely equal sacrifices would be demanded from all. Because the farmer, or any other man in comfortable circumstances, was not of an age to go to the front, he should not say that the man with four or five children - and perhaps financial obligations as well - must go, while he would merely be required to pay a paltry income tax. When all were ready to do their share, then the voice of opposition would be stilled. Unless they who stayed behind were willing to sacrifice their all, they would not give anything commensurate with what the man gave who sacrificed his life. “ Until such a system is evolved,” said the speaker, “ I will decline to support conscription. We must give up our selfish ideals, and not ask men to go any further than we are prepared to go ourselves.”
Those are not the remarks of a violent conscriptionist. I held then, as I hold now, and as I have already stated in this House, that conscription for home service is in strict accordance with the law of right. When a burglar enters premises to steal property and to threaten the lives of dear ones, it is the householder’s moral right to slay him if necessary, and the State, in its corporate capacity, has the right to treat invaders of the country in the same way. Therefore, I advocate compulsory service for home defence to the length of conscripting every man capable of bearing arms, should that be necessary. But, at my first meeting, on the 6th October, I told a large gathering that, even though it were for winning what we all know to be a war of aggression, I would not surrender the precious principle of freedom, and hand over the lives of Australians to an authority that we could not control. I pointed out the inherent difference between conscription for home defence and conscription for service abroad. I said that if the States of Germany had had the power which we in Australia possess of controlling the destinies of their manhood, it would have been impossible for a tyrant to concentrate the powers of the German Empire to threaten the liberties of the world. But I added that even for the purpose of winning the war, I would not surrender a principle whose surrender, as the history of the world shows, would more often strengthen the hands of tyranny than the hands of justice. I am the representative of a constituency that voted against conscription by a majority of 11.000 electors, and I myself have declared against conscription for foreign service upon the high principles that I have announced. Why, then, it may be asked, should I separate myself from cherished friends and join with those from some of whose political opinions I differ, perhaps, as widely as the poles are asunder? 1 did it because I believed that the Prime Minister and his small party are really the repository of the truths for which the great Australian Labour party stands, and that the Official Labour party is not. The members of the Official Labour party have allowed outside officials who wish to turn the Parliaments of the country into glorified trade and labour councils, to prevent them from asserting themselves. They have done so, either from conviction or under threat of dislodgment. I am sorry that they have done so. I hoped that all the members of the Labour party and the mass of the Labour voters would assert and maintain the independence of parliamentary representatives.I do not wish to lose my seat in Parliament, but when the first shot was fired and I was ordered to recognise that I was the creature of a State executive, I refused to do so. I ask honorable members to read Mr. Holman’s statement of the manner in which the Labour Conference was packed, and how the executive was controlled by an inner junta of six or seven persons, whom the popular vote would not intrust with a seat on a hen roost. When I received the communication of the State executive I asked myself, “ Am I to acknowledge myself the creature of the executive, or shall I be loyal to the principles for which the Labour movement stands? Are my principles so elastic that I can accept dictation from this body and remain in the Official Labour party?” This is the communication which I received from the State executive - 8th September, 1916.
Sir, - I beg to inform you that at the last meeting of the New South Wales. Political
Labour League Executive the following motion, which I was directed to forward to you was carried -
That each member of the Federal and State Labour parties be informed that this executive intends to carry OUt the decision of the New South Wales 1916 Conference to withdraw indorsement from all members who speak for or otherwise support conscription; and we further call upon members of the Federal party to resist the introduction of conscription and the referendum thereon at every stage in and out of Parliament.
My reply was penned before we made our “joint protest from New South Wales, which I shall read directly. That reply was as follows -
I regret very much that the recent unwarrantable attempt on the part1 of your State executive to usurp the power to guide, control, and punish the Labour party and its leaders, without reference to the constituencies, effectually debars me from co-operating in the way indicated by you. The above, therefore, represents my attitude until your executive retires, or is retired by its masters, from the present destructive and untenable position.
The honorable member for Cook has spoken of his great regard for the Constitution. Could he not see that in accepting without protest the instructions which I have read we should have surrendered every principle of representative government ? There is only one word that would apply to me had I accepted the dictation of the State executive, and it is more apt than polite. When the governors of the Official Labour party, or those who usurped that position, had the supreme effrontery .to expel from the Labour movement the Prime Minister of Australia, the representatives, of Labour in this House- I say it to their credit- - were to a man indignant. Both the conscriptionists and those who were opposed to conscription felt that an outrage had been committed. Every man knew that no outrage or wrong had been done by any one to the Labour platform. Every man knew that the Prime Minister, when he went to England, had. the most difficult task which had ever confronted a statesman going from Australia. We know, even though we might not be able to give details, that questions involving the very existence and prosperity, and, perhaps, the independence of Australia were at stake. We knew that he had to appeal
Mr. Lynch. to the Government to stand up for Australia ; a Government which, however great and distinguished many of its members were, has been displaced because of weakness and vacillation which, in the end, perhaps, would have brought destruction to the Empire. It was not, as some unfair-minded men say, because the Prime Minister was taken up by the Northcliffe press, or by others that be became almost the foremost figure in Imperial politics. It was because the great heart of the patriotic people of the Empire recognised in the Prime Minister a man of commanding intelligence, who had the courage to do and dare; a man at least who, having set the British public on fire, was able to command the respect and the confidence of the British Cabinet, and to ‘attain a measure of success hitherto unattained We all acclaimed that success. We were proud to claim the right honorable gentleman as our Leader. What did we not claim for our Labour party when it could produce such a man ? Was there a note of discord when he came back because of his actions at Home? As an anticonscriptionist, I blame no man for putting his country first. Did the Prime Minister by any act or word say that he would fasten conscription upon Australia ? Yet honorable members all know that he could have fastened conscription upon Australia without either the Parliament or the people having a say, had he so chosen. It would have meant the disruption of the Labour party, but to no greater, extent than has taken place even after the right honorable gentleman had subscribed to the very letter of the party’s principles. It was a well-known fact that when he left Australia he said that if the conscription issue was to be faced it would be faced by way of referendum. Did he say anything different when he came back either inside Parliament or outside ? No. Honorable members on the other side know perfectly well what his attitude was. What would he have been forced to do:. had he not received from the Labour party an assurance that the Referendum Bill should go through ? He would have been compelled, as an honorable man would have been compelled, to admit his failure. Would he have waited for a vote of censure which would have placed himself and some of our ablest and best, men who were conscriptionists from the* very beginning of the war in a false posi- tion on the floor of the House? No. I feel that he would have admitted that we were so broken up on this particular question that he was unable to formulate a war policy, and resigned, like a man, on the floor of the House. I am sure that those honorable gentlemen who were anxious that he should take direct action would have had the courage to do the thing which they expected him to do. And the very men outside who aimed at be ing our “bosses,” would have helped to do the very thing they feared in consequence of the breach of the party’s platform, and their interference with the liberty of men inside. The Prime Minister was not blamed by any man inside the party, beyond a very small knot of members who are consistent. They did not believe in referring the question to the people. They did not believe in any action which it was possible to take, or which would be consistent with the difficulties that confronted us. They would have preferred, perhaps, that we should break up and allow the other side to take up the obligation of governing the country. Rut if that course had been taken by the Australian Labour party, with a majority in both Houses, then never again could we lift our head and claim the right to govern this continent. These men were indignant, and though this document refers only to the representatives of New South Wales, it represents the opinions of a vast majority of the men, even on the other side, who come from other States. Even the honorable member for Cook went upstairs when this particular protest was being framed. He certainly did not sign the protest; it was in course of preparation, for some time. I believe that it was signed about the 14th September, that is the day after the expulsion of Mr. Hughes. The protest is worded -
That this meeting of the New South Wales representatives of Labour in the Federal Parliament is of the opinion that the action of the executive in threatening to withdraw indorsement is without constitutional warrant, opposed to the principles of the Labour movement, and to those of Democracy.
– The protest was signed by the Hon. W. M. Hughes, the Hon. W. Webster, the Hon. J. M. .Chanter, the Hon. W. G. Spence, Mr. W. G. Mahony, Mr E. Riley, Mr. J. Lynch, Mr. M.
– It was a protest signed on the following day against the domination of the State executive in daring to expel from the Labour movement our Prime Minister. It was the last gleam of loyalty to the leader whom they were about to betray.
– Why do you not put it correctly ? It was nothing of the sort.
– We furnished a report
– You are stating a deliberate lie.
– Order ! The honorable member will withdraw that remark and apologize for having made it.
– I withdraw the remark, sir, and apologize.
– The document from which I am quoting is dated 23rd October. It is from the general secretary of the Political Labour League Executive of New South Wales. He quotes these names as the signatories to a joint protest.
– lt was a protest on the question of the Bill for a referendum, and you know that it was.
– This was a joint protest
– Of course it was. Why do you not tell the truth ?
– This communication is from the secretary of the Political Labour Executive of New South Wales. He quotes the signatories to what he calls our protest, which I signed in common with the others. He says -
Your joint communication, of the 15th instant, covering resolution …. which id advised as having been passed at your meeting of the 14th ult., I have the honour to acknowledge.
In reply I am directed to state that my executive has full warrant under the constitution for the course proposed, and that it has been resolved to effectively follow the direction of the conference.
– It was not on the question of expulsion at all; it was on the question of the referendum, and you know it.
– The communication continues -
Your contention that the referendum is a plank of the platform is misleading:, and not in accordance with fact–
Let it be remembered that in the letter I have read they denied our right to hold a referendum on the subject.
– You said that it was a protest against the expulsion of Mr. Hughes; it was not.
– No; it was on the referendum.
– This was, in my opinion, a protest against the expulsion of the Prime Minister.
– It was nothing of tha sort. It was on the question of the referendum.
– You are in good company to-night.
– I am very sorry to say to the honorable member that I am much prouder of the company I am keeping now than I would have been if I had taken that insult and remained on the other side, notwithstanding that I have the highest appreciation of honorable gentlemen sitting there.
– The honorable member for South Sydney signed the document.
– I would sign it again.
– The communication concludes with this paragraph -
Your contention that the referendum is a plank of the platform is misleading, and not in accordance with fact. Plank 10 - Fighting Platform, and ‘Plank 11 - General Platform, initiative and Referendum being an entirely different condition to that sought to be established by your quotation of half the plank.
– It had nothing whatever to do with the expulsion of the Prime Minister, and why did you not say so?
– Does not the honorable member see that in the letter I have read, where they threatened to withdraw our indorsements, they challenged our right to hold a referendum on conscription?
– But you said that it was on the expulsion of Mr. Hughes.
– The two questions are indissolubly linked together. The contention stands out clearly that the representatives of the great Federal constituencies are to take their orders on these subjects or any other from the State conferences.
– I understood the honorable member to say that this protest was signed against the expulsion of Mr. Hughes for advocating the referendum.
– No. What I said was that immediately upon the receipt of the news of the Prime Minister’s expulsion from the party we made this joint protest. I know the motives by which I was animated, and it is those of which I am speaking.
– Will the honorable member give us the date of that protest ?
– Our meeting was held on the 14th September, and my written protest and repudiation of these people was forwarded somewhere about the 10th or 12th September. Their letter is dated 8th September.
– What was the date of the executive’s reply?
– 23rd October.
– But there was an earlier letter in regard to voting against the referendum.
– That is dated 8th September. It is very clear to me, although I was only a new chum in politics, that men whom I respected were being subjected to rules that, were unjust, and that they were faced with the alternative of either swallowing much which they believed to be right, and surrendering the selfgoverning rights of their constituents, or of losing their positions. It was a painful situation for any man to be placed in, and I have no desire to reflect on any honorable member opposite. I hope to see the day when we shall be re-united under the truer constitution of the Labour party, which was absolutely set aside. Like the honorable member for Grey, I am sure that the vast majority of the honest people who voted for us do not realize how terrible is the outrage that has been committed on true democratic principles and the Labour platform. At the last general election I stood on platform after platform, in the effort to win what was undoubtedly a Liberal seat, and said to my hearers, “ Here is the platform of the Labour party, and it is to be the bond between you and me if you accept me as your representative. It will hold good for three years. No amendment that may be made in it can have any effect until you have had an opportunity to reject me and the amendment as well.” But what doctrine have we now put before us ? In this letter we have the doctrine, to which representatives of the people opposite, by their surrender, have subscribed, that any State Labour conference can interpose and compel us to do whatsoever they choose. That is the position, and it cuts straight across the principles of the Labour party, of which we were so justly proud. When the great mass of Labour voters realize that fact, they will turn upon those men who in their desire to give pre-eminence to industrial matters - and an honest desire from their point of view - have determined to get hold of the Parliaments of the country and to use them just as the builder would use bricks.
As to the Prime Minister, I hold the view that he is to-day as truly representative of the Labour people who sent him into Parliament as he was when he was elected in September, 1914. What do we mean by representative government? Do we not mean that we expect every man and woman who is a thinking, sentient being to take an intelligent part in the government of the country ? Do we not expect them to do what the moral law enforces upon them as individuals - to take the responsibility for their material existence, in a corporate capacity, in governing themselves ? Since it is impossible for every man and woman in the country to sit in Parliament we hit upon the expedient of dividing the Commonwealth into constituencies with’ the proportion of voters in each as nearly equal as possible, and without any regard to differential standards of intelligence. We know perfectly well that it does not necessarily follow that the larger the vote the more intellectual it is. On the contrary, the larger the vote the more ignorant it will be. That is why the system of truly representative government is in strict accordance with moral law, and answers truly the question of whether I am my brother’s keeper. It is the law, and a right law, that justly makes a man who has, perhaps, just sufficient intelligence to remain unbranded as a lunatic, by the law of his country, to be as strong, in a numerical sense and as a voting factor, as the ° wisest and most intellectual. It therefore compels the wise and intellectual to become their brother’s keeper, to educate him in higher standards, and meantime to live under laws far beneath those which their intelligence fits them to enjoy. We have thus the true system of representative government. We fix upon three .years as the life of the Parliament, and when the end of that term is drawing near, we say that Parlia ment is becoming moribund. But if we accept this new doctrine, what is the use of having such a system or superstructure? [Quorum, formed]. If we accept this new doctrine: that at each, recruiting conference members may be directed by an outside body, then there is an end to all our, perhaps, cumbrous procedure, and these is an end to all responsibility in connexion with our duly constituted Parliaments, and we might as well abolish them for ever.
– Is the honorable member arguing for the prolongation of the life of the Parliament?
– I am arguing for the responsibility of a representative to his constituents.
– But the honorable member will vote for this motion ?
– Yes, because I think at this juncture there is no other alternative for honorable members who have any regard for their responsibility and for the welfare of the country. Honorable members opposite having surrendered their rights, I may lose my seat because of my action in standing up for the old Labour party’s platform while the majority went for something which I am afraid will bring them no pleasure even if it eventuates. What is the position of myself and others like me ? I represent a huge constituency where the country and farming vote is in the ascendant. Am Ito be made a sort of political boundaryrider, to round up votes for a small section sitting in a back room in Sydney, who are to decide what I am to do with those votes ? That is how the position appeals to me. I am too new to politics to be capable of the political contortions of some honorable members opposite. But I say that the great majority of the people recognise that we have to do the best that we can with the material that is at our disposal. For this reason, although I am opposed to conscription for service overseas, I intend to support the present Government.
– I am amazed when I reflect upon how wild some of our most temperate men can become under the influence of a little excitement. It was with sorrow to-night that I listened to the utterances of the honorable member for Grey and the honorable member for Werriwa. While the former was speaking I sat quite tight. I did not even smile, or look angry. Yet he made an attack upon me- Then the honorable member for Werriwa, by reason of his statements, conveyed the impression that a petition against the expulsion of the Prime Minister was signed by the New South Wales members of the Labour party in this House.
– There is no quorum present. [Quorum formed.]
– I do not say that the honorable member for Werriwa deliberately sought to convey that impression, but, nevertheless, that was the effect of his statement. To show how much truth there was in it, I have merely to mention that the petition .was signed by the Prime Minister himself. Can anybody imagine the right honorable William Morris Hughes signing a petition against his own expulsion?
– His expulsion was due to the fact that he had disobeyed the wishes of the organization.
– I understand the awkward position’ in which the honorable member finds himself, and his desire to explain it away. The Minister for the Navy evidently derived the same impression from the honorable member’s statement as I did, if one can judge him by his interjections. He gathered that the petition had been prepared after the expulsion of the Prime Minister.
– I cannot see how the two things are separate yet.
– The position is that the petition was prepared quite a month before that expulsion took place.
– Was not the Prime Minister expelled on the authority of the 1916 conference?
– He was not expelled when that petition was presented ; and the honorable member, in common with everybody else on the other side of the chamber, when he endeavours to prove his case, lies, and lies deliberately.
– I must ask the honorable member to withdraw that statement.
– I withdraw it, and apologize.
– Why did they expel the Prime Minister?
– I am not dealing with that question at present. I mav have an opportunity to do so after 11 o’clock. What I am endeavouring to do now is to nail down these lies or misstatements one by one. I withdraw the expression “ lies “ because I know that it is unparliamentary.
– I conveyed the truth.
– The Deputy Speaker will not permit me to reply to that interjection, or I would. I sat alongside the honorable member for Grey for some years when we were both members of the same ‘party. I am sorry that he is now leaving the chamber. He does not want me to nail his lies to the table.
– This is the third occasion that the honorable member has abused the forms of the House under cover of a withdrawal. I ask him not to repeat his offence.
– There is no quorum present. [Quorum formed.’]
– I am sorry the honorable member for Grey is leaving the chamber.
– I rise to order. The two members who made the quorum have left the’ chamber.
– There is a quorum present.
– The honorable member for Grey to-night attacked me on certain remarks I made about the tea that was thrown overboard in Boston Harbor. I shall deal with that question in exactly the same way as I dealt with it at Ballarat. I shall do so whenever it suits me outside. They can arrest me under the War Precautions Act if they like, and I will defend myself in Court. The honorable member for Grey said he willingly gave up the position of Treasurer. I know it hurt him to lose the Treasurership. I sat alongside him for about six years, and he positively cried for four years after he lost the Chairmanship of Committees, he felt so sore over it. He said he did not know, why he was dealt with in that way.
– You are a lovely bird.
– Why not deal with public questions ?
– The honorable member for Echuca never rises to his feet without getting down into the gutter. It is amusing to notice how united the multum in parvo, the collection of shreds and patches, on the other side can be, and how they laugh in unison.
– Does the honorable member prefer the multum in parvo or the parvum in multo?
– I have often told the honorable . member for Wentworth that he is not nearly so foolish as he looks. In a fight between political parties all sorts of measures are resorted to, but every honorable member knows full well that the party on the Government benches do not represent the opinions of the people of Australia, as is proved by the fact that at the last election the Labour party came back with an enormous majority in both Houses, and at the ‘ recent referendum a large majority was cast against the side advocated by the Government. The Prime Minister, being the only man who has the ear of the Governor-General, the representative of the Sovereign, took advantage of the position. If any other man had walked out of the party no. more would have been heard of it, but he carried in his own person the whole of the political power of the Commonwealth, and used it for his own ends, telling us that what he did was in the interests of the Empire. If he had had a shred of manhood in him he would have handed back the position to the party that placed him in power; but to-day he stands before us leading a union of the shreds and tatters of all parties, who claim to represent the people. They know full well that they do not, as is proved by the fact that they are shirking an election. They know that after an election the few of them that will be left will be over here. If they are not afraid of the result, why do they not avail themselves of the opportunity of having an election of both Houses in April or May? Mr. Holman, the Premier of New South Wales, took good care to get to the electors before they did. Like the honorable member for Balaclava, the ex-Premier of Victoria, he knows ‘a thing or two. He said, “ I am not going down with the motley crowd on the Government benches in the Federal Parliament, and will chance it first.” lie had the pluck, and is going to fight it out. There are men on the other side of the House who would like to fight it out, too; but the writing is on the wall in New South Wales. Only about three of them will come back, and
They know it. The Government party cannot send to the Old Country three men from among them who will properly represent the people. At the last election, and in the- conscription referendum campaign, they were declared not to represent the opinions of the people.
Let me go through the careers of the three selected delegates. The Right Honorable William Morris Hughes came into this Parliament as a representative of Labour.
– He is that now.
– When the honorable member returns to Hindmarsh he will not get many Labour vote’s. The Prime Minister entered this Parliament as a- representative of Labour. But he has thrown over all his old associates and the aspirations of the Labour party, and now leads the multi-crowd on the Government side, and still says he can represent the thoughts and aspirations of the people of Australia. He knows he cannot, but he is brazening the matter out. He will go to England to represent us, because he has made up his mind to do so. I hope he never returns, and I have an idea that he will not. The second representative will be the honorable member for Flinders. No man or woman in Australia ever conceived the idea that that honorable member should or could represent .a Democracy. His name is anathema to every Democrat in Victoria, and naturally is known unfavorably throughout Australia. Yet he is to go to England to represent the Australian people who sent a Labour majority to this Parliament and rejected conscription quite recently. The third delegate is to be our old friend the right honor able member for Swan. Of the three he is the only man who has any Australian sentiment. I look upon the honorable member as the embodiment of Conservatism, but he has the redeeming feature of possessing some Australian sentiment. The other two have not the least warmth in their bodies for Australia. They can see before them only one light, and that is glaring red, and they talk of Empire and wave their jingo flags. I am told that the remarks I made at Ballarat on the subject of the Imperial Conference are likely to recoil on my innocent head. I stated there that these three gentlemen cannot represent us, and I object to them going to London, because I believe the gathering is to be something more than an ordinary conference. It is admitted on every side that the questions to be considered are of the greatest importance. The whole of the well-being of this great Empire is to be dealt with. I say the gathering will not be a conference as we ordinarily understand the term, but will be a Parliament which will legislate for the people of the Empire. With a full knowledge of what I was saying I remarked at Ballarat that, if the Imperial authorities dare to think of interfering with our domestic legislation they should remember the tea thrown into Boston Harbor.
– Bosh !
– Let them dare attempt in any way to take from this Parliament the powers it possesses, and the consequences will have some semblance to the throwing of tea into Boston Harbor Professor Harrison Moore did me the honour of taking notice of those remarks in the course of a letter he published in Saturday’s Argus. He admitted that I was correct in the assumption that the people of Australia would not allow anybody to interfere with their domestic legislation.
– Why put up these skeletons to knock them over ?
– In last Saturday’s Herald appeared an important cable. I know that cables can be sent to convex anything. William Morris Hughes knows how to stage-manage cables better than any other man. This cable reprinted a statement from the London Times that Mr. Massey, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, had said that there could be no truth in the statement that the Conference would legislate to interfere in any way with the domestic legislation of New Zealand. That cable proves that I ar not the only person who thinks there is a danger in that direction; somebody else has been talking to the same effect. As a matter of fact, suspicion was aroused by the remarks of Mr. Massey and Sir Joseph Ward five weeks ago. Those two gentlemen became quite jealous of our little Willie. He created a great furore in the Old Country with the aid of the Northcliffe press. They thought they would go to England and do the same, but the Northcliffe press did not take them up, and they were nobodies. But they have managed to arrange that, instead of one man representing New Zealand at the Conference, there shall be two delegates, and now Australia is to send three. A cable was published some weeks ago that Mr. Massey and Sir Joseph Ward had expressed the hope that the business transacted at the Conference would be of such a character that the politics of the Empire would be brought more into unison. We know all about the political ideals of the people of Australia, as represented in this Parliament, being in unison with the ideals of the men who misrepresent the British people in the Imperial Parliament. The men who comprise the British Parliament which rules the Empire were not chosen by any form of adult suffrage. There are hundreds of thousands of men in England who have never had a vote for Parliament, yet they have to abide by the decision of that Parliament, but it does not follow that Australians will be found willing to do so.
– They gave us our Parliament.
– And they gave us you. ‘ I maintain that it was only my duty, as a representative of the people, and feeling as I do, to say what I have in the House to-night ; and I have nothing to withdraw. If it is intended that the proposed Conference is to be, in effect, a Parliament, I have told those concerned to remember the tea in Boston Harbor, and I say that again.
– It is a fair warning.
– If the honorable member for Wentworth, and others like the honorable member for Grey, think that such interjections are funny, they are mistaken. The position here is so chaotic that an election is necessary to clear it. I believe, however, that the Government have made up their minds to win, and that, by hook or crook, they will win. We have had to-night an example in the Senate of what methods would be resorted to.
– Accidents will happen.
– Does the honorable member for Hume tell me that Senator Ready’s resignation is an accident?
– I am referring to the other accident.
– Order !
– Senator Ready is ill.
– ls Senator Ready the only public representative who, though ill, has attended to his duties ? Senator Ready just at the most important crisis resigns, and Mr. Earle will take his place, and give the Government a majority in the Senate. Is that because Senator Ready is ill ?
– Of course it is. Do you believe he i§ not jil ?
– I say that this resignation of Senator Ready is the commencement of corruption in Australia of the American order.
– The honorable member must not refer to anything that takes place in the Senate.
– The honorable member has made a pretty ugly charge against one of his own colleagues.
– Very well; and I say that this corruption will not stop there.
– What, has the “rot” set in?
– When the “rot “ does “set in “ the party on this side will be triumphant, and we shall see honorable members, now on the Government side, running away, afraid to associate themselves with what is. taking place, politically, in Australia to-day. I do not know how many men opposite know anything about the matter, but they will know something shortly. If there are men opposite who will “ stand up to it,” they have more pluck than I thought any of them had - and they are not the men, or gentlemen, they are supposed to be. However, this is only by way of warning. The Prime Minister is one of those men who will not be beaten if he can help it. He is strong-minded enough to pursue a course with hopes of victory, and if he has the power he will bring about that victory. I say that this resignation in another place to-night is a forerunner of the efforts on behalf of the Government to prevent us from going to the country. What does it mean? It means that if the Government has a majority in the Senate, there is no need to adopt the distasteful’ method of asking the Imperial Parliament to extend the life of this Parliament. If the Government can get a majority in the Senate they may extend Parliament at their own sweet will : and they will do it, and defy the people of Australia to take any objection. As I say, in the resignation of this senator tonight we have the forerunner of what will be resorted to.
– I have asked the honorable member not to refer to what takes place in another place. It is distinctly disorderly.
– That is a cruel thing for the honorable member tosay! I. know the family of the honorable senator well.
– I have known men in this House, and amongst them yourself, Mr. Deputy Speaker, who, in spite of the fact that their health was anything but good, have done their duty; and there are men who are doing their duty now under those circumstances. There are a few honorable members opposite who will wish to know something more of the circumstances later on.
– You. will get your selection ballot all right !
– I know what that means - that I am speaking to get my selection ballot.
– Hear, hear!
– May I tell those honorable members who interject that if I had not talked bluntly, I should have had no opposition. In my political and my private life, I reserve the right, when I am attacked, to attack in return. I have attacked the extremists in the Labour movement, and that is why I am now getting opposition. Iam opposed by a man who represents the most extreme section, and I say publicly that I shall “ give him a bath “ when the selection takes place. I dare him, and those behind him, to beat me. The other man by whom I am opposed is a conscrip- tionist, but was afraid to avow it. These are the opponents I have for the selection - one an Industrial Workers of the World man and the other a conscriptionist afraid to avow the fact. I cannot be taunted on this score. I say again that if X go down in the selection, I will not run as an independent Labour man. I will not crawl into the party op posite to save my political skin. I will fight, and I will even stick to the party that “ downed “ me at the selection.
– If you have not the numbers behind you, you will not stand, that is all !
-That is all right! There is no man too sure in this world, not even the honorable member. None of us know what is going to take place, but if I am beaten, I do not intend to run against the selected Labour man, whoever be may be. I say this only in reply to the honorable member for Denison. While that honorable member taunts me, I have some sort of recollection, hazy though it may be, of his making a statement that he would never run against a man in the Labour movement.
– Hear; hear! I would stillbe a Labour man.
-I guarantee that, at the next election, the honorable member will run against a selected Labour candidate.
– I will run as a Labour man!
– I tell the honorable member for Denison that if I go down at the selection. I shall not fight the Labour man at the election..
– The honorable member turned his coat so that he might not be expelled.
– I shall ventilate the matter now that the honorable member has introduced it. He has said thatI turned my coat. He, no doubt, thinks that if he says these: things they will be believed. What the honorable member means by saying that I turned my coat is to suggest that I was a conscriptionist and turned my coat on that question.
– Order! Both the honorable member for Denison and the honorable member for Melbourne Porta are distinctly out. of order. The matter they are discussing is outside the scope of. the motion. I remind honorable members that indulgence in personalities lessens the dignity of the members concerned, and the dignity of the Parliament as a whole. I ask. honorablemembexs to desist from personalities.
– Very well, sir, I will forgive the honorable member fox Denison. We are now placed in a. most peculiar position. I. wish to let the Prima Minister understand that I shall attend no more secret meetings of the two parties. I have made up my mind to that. We go to a secret meeting, and are given confidences. A man may give another a confidence merely for the purpose of preventing him speaking upon the matter afterwards. We were told certain things at a secret conference, and it followed that we could not talk upon the subject of Protection. Yet we find the Protectionist Association of Australia now assailing the Prime Minister from every side to do something in the interests of the industries of Australia before be goes away. It is because he is going away that I allude to the matter. The Age newspaper has been attacking the right honorable gentleman on the question, and in Monday’s issue it told him that it. did not believe that there was any reason associated with any other nation which would justify him in refusing; to impose higher duties on imports into Australia.
– Order ! I am loath to intervene, but the honorable member is going entirely outside the scope of the motion. His remarks might open up a debate upon Protection and Free Trade, and that is something which I cannot permit on this motion.
– The honorable member for Grey was allowed to talk all round the question.
– I never spoke on Protection.
– That may be so. but the honorable member did not speak to the motion. However, I am in a minority in this House, and I bow to the Deputy Speaker’s ruling. 1 have no wish to he taken out of the chamber byour stalwart Serjeant-at-arms-. The Prime Ministeris going to the Old Country to attend a Conference which is to- consider the. position of the Empire after the war, so far as industry and trade are concerned. If the members of the Protectionist, Association and the editor of the Age are to be allowed to persist in talking about the trade interests of Australia now and after the war, it is not fair that I, as a representative- of the people in this House, should be prevented from doing so-. I do not know whether the Prime Minister intends to give me liberty to do so, but if he does not, I am afraid that I shall haveto take it. I do not intend to continue the debate, but I should like to conclude by saying that, while the Fusion took place legitimately , in my opinion the Government have no right to the occupation of the Treasury bench beyond the term for which this Parliament was elected, unless they appeal to the people and are returned with a majority. They have no right to send the Senate alone to the country, because the results of a Senate election would not give the opinion ofthe people of Australia, but only that of the States of Australia. They have certainly far less right to so arrange matters that members of this Parliament will resign in order that the Government may secure a majority in both House. I repeat that that is introducing in Australia a form of corruption which we are told is reeking in the United States of America, and which we view with disgust. It has startedhere, but I hope it will not be continued.
– -I shall keep honorable members only a few moments while stating my position in connexion with the motion. I shall not weary them by attempting to follow the heated .and somewhat disjointed attack of the honorable member who has just resumed his seat. But I may be pardoned if I refer to one epithet which he hurled at honorable members on this side. He described us as a bad case of multum in parvo. I reply that the honorable member is the worst case that I have ever Been of parvum in multo. He .spoke for a great length of time, and yet gave us very little. He commenced by asking us whether as earnest and. serious men we were prepared to do what the Government propose, in the motion, and he finished up by confessing quite involuntarily that the whole purpose of his diatribe is to save him from a selection attack by some more extreme person in his constituency. Good God, Mr. Speaker, if they have anything more extreme in Melbourne Forts than the honorable member who has been agitating himself and us for the last half-hour, I devoutly hope that the .honorable member will again secure the selection.
What, are the considerations which should appeal to honorable members in addressing themselves to a motion of this kind? Obviously the first consideration is whether or not’ this Parliament should postpone or adjourn the elections. I think that question has been answered very clearly and well by the honorable member for Bourke, who said last night that the only reason at such a juncture that could justify this Parliament refusing to postpone its elections would be that the Government administering the country did not possess the confidence of thd people, or was doing something contrary to the purpose for which the. Parliament has een elected. I take up those -Words at once; and ask myself- in all sincerity, as I ask honorable members on both sides, whether, putting personalities and bitterness on one side, it is not a fact that the present Government is addressing itself to the supreme issue at the last election. Is it- not a fact that! before the war came upon us, each party pit its programme .before the -electors? Ir.it snot .a fact that, as -soon as war was declared, these party programmes were buried beneath the patriotic zeal and determination of the people to see this thing through? Is: it not a fact that both parties vied in their protestations of then* personal fitness to conduct the war to -a successful finish? I pledged myself to my -constituents that, if the Government to which I belonged was defeated, I would give our successors a loyal support in order to carry the war through to a successful conclusion, and I must say that I have given in the life of this Parliament more loyal support to my political opponents in their conduct of the war than I have ever been called upon to give to my friends during the fourteen years that I have sat in the chamber - more loyal support than was given by some of the supporters of -that Government. My position is not altered. I am still in this Parliament for the purpose of helping the Government to conduct the war with due efficiency and the full exercise of the resources of Australia. If I have changed my place, I have not changed my attitude ; and I have changed my place solely for one reason - that, for the first time in the history of this House, I believe a new party has arisen which is foreign to the issue confronting the electors at the last elections, and foreign to the policies that were put forward at those elections - a party that is mot so keen to face the war- as it is to crucify the man with whom it. has recently disagreed. Therefore, in these few words I answer the first query. I say, in the words of the honorable member for Bourke, that nothing should stand between this Parliament and the postponement of the elections on any ground that the present Government do not represent the promises made to the people of Australia some three years ago.
Now I take my friends for a few minutes a stage further. I ask myself is it right that Australia should be represented at this Conference? Can any one deny Australia’s right to that representation ? We have heard much tonight about Boston tea, and about crimes meditated by Britain against Australia’s freedom. I do not believe that a single honorable member who utters these statements believes a word of the bogy he has created. I know that many a good life has been shed for Australia’s freedom, and that much treasure has been lavished. If ever a country has earned the right to be at a table at which the final settlement in regard to the war takes place, this country has earned it, and who better can represent it than the man who happens to be representing constitutional Australian government! For that reason I say that Australia must be represented at the Conference; and if my friends, who talk so glibly about Boston tea, seek my further opinion about this business, I say it is absolutely essential that we, for the safety of Australia after this war is over, should be able to take a little wider view than the mere view of throwing dust in the eyes of Australian electors. When the war is over, what is going to protect the Australian people if it is not the Fleet of the Anglo-Saxon race throughout the world? What danger confronts Australia after the war in any sense commensurate with the danger that the people of the Mother Country, having borne a load of taxation to see the present war through, such as no one before the war commenced could possibly have prophesied, will grow weary of that taxation, and say, “ There is no fleet left to’ menace the security of the British Isles,” and so retrench the maritime strength of Great Britain ? If that movement for retrenchment get a head of steam on, and the naval supremacy of Great Britain should be allowed - in five or ten years - to decline through want of representation on the part of Australian communities as to our peculiar necessities in these seas, then .by that means, and by that means only, can we utterly destroy the British fabric that we have built up in this land. Only in that way can we perish, and it is for that reason, largely, that I do not wish Australia’s voice to be dumb in’ the councils that are shortly to ensue.
In conclusion, I ask honorable members whether it is possible- for Australia to be usefully represented at the Imperial Conference while elections are proceeding here for the Commonwealth Parliament? I do not ask whether it is fair to the Prime Minister. I have been an opponent of his all my life. I do not wish any honorable member to blind himself as to my past views of the right honable gentleman, but I do ask - *’ Is it fair to Australia that matters to be con-
Mr. Kelly. sidered at that Conference should be shuffled oft the scene in the heat of our party differences in this country f” My own view is that any sacrifice is worth our while to see this war finally through. It is due to us in this House to prove ourselves worthy of some of the sacrifices that have been made for us, not only by our own flesh and blood overseas, but by the great race to which we belong; and. the meanest way to prove our worthiness is to pretend that the man who is prepared to do his duty is only afraid of facing the electors.
I have put my view in a very few words. I have purposely refrained from touching on particular questions, but I feel in my heart that the most important thing that confronts Australia now, the most vital thing for Australia when the war is over, is that her voice be not dumb in the Imperial Council. I regret that the delegation is to be so big, but I wish the Prime Minister god-speed in it; and, for my part, I shall do my level best to see that the eyes of the Australian public are not blinded in his absence, and that the Australian people’s gaze is fixed fairly and truly upon their destiny, in common with the race to which we all belong.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Fenton) adjourned.
House adjourned at 11.2 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 1 March 1917, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1917/19170301_reps_6_81/>.