7th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon.W. Elliot Johnson) took thechair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– In reply to the charges made yesterday by the honorable members f or West Sydney and Dalley, regarding the evictions by the Sydney Harbor Trust, for which they blamed the Coal Board, I wish to say thatthat Board does not employ labour of any kind whatever.
– Wo did not say that.
– Then,what is the charge against the Coal Board?
– That it prevents coal from being delivered to any place where these men are employed.
– Thus victimizing the mcn.
– I am told that that is not so.
– We can prove it, if the Government will ‘have an inquiry.
– I understand that the Coal Board does not employ anybody; but the contractors, who are under the direct supervisionof the Goal Board, employ mcn.
– It would be well, at; the beginning of our proceedings, to intimate that I do not intend to allow continual interruptions, nor shall I permit my calls to order to be disregarded. I take this opportunity toremind honorable members that I shall see that the Standing Orders are observed, and I ask their co-operation in the maintenance of order.
– I move -
That the House protests against -
I make no apology for moving this motion. If ever there was an occasion when such a motion was justified, this is such an occasion. A referendum oncon- scription has justbeen taken, and the majority which voted for the side which this party espoused was larger by 92,000 than the majority we gained on the last referendum. I cannot say from memory whether the number of votes cast on this occasion was as great as the number cast on the last occasion.
– It was not.
– Then many who, at the last referendum, voted with the Government party must be tired of those whorepresent them, and showed their feoling by absenting themselves from the poll.
The: motion will have the effect of clearing the political atmosphere. Honorable members opposite who think that the Ministry has done wrong in breaking its pledge will have an opportunity of “saying so, but if, notwithstanding, they vote tokeep the Government in office, they will indorse its action.
– We like to choose our company.
– So do I. Honorable members opposite may say that they were forced either to keep this Government in power or to give office to members of the present Opposition, but that subterfuge will not shelter them from the censure of the electors. I propose to put into Hansard some of the pledges that were made by Ministers and members of the Ministerial party, and I have reason to believe that the issue will not be seized under the
War. Precautions Act; that the military willnot surround the Government Printing Office to prevent its circulation.
– Will the speeches all . be printed in the sametype?
– I have never hadthe type of my speeches altered, though I believe on one occasion, before the honorable member for Denison had fallen from grace, the Postmaster-General had headings inserted in a reprint of a speech that he had made. I believe that the. honorable member for Denison would sooner be onthis side to-day than in the company of some whose convictions are the opposite of those which he has held for a lifetime.
– Is not this too small for a big occasion ?
– If I consider it right to do so, I shall reply to interjections, despite the intellectual giant fromEchuca. I do not care whether honorable members interject or no.t. When I am reading the pledges to which I have referred I. shall not permit the quotations to be broken by the insertion of interjections.
It is well known that the holding of the last referendum was decided on hurriedly by the Government, which had completed its arrangements for the ceremony to commemorate that historical event, the coupling by rail of the western and eastern States. Honorable members know why the holding of another referendum was decided upon,. Every honorable member will give credit - if credit is the right word to use - to the honorable member for Flinders (Sir William Irvine) for having forced the hands of Ministers in this matter. He went throughout the country, and by his speeches compelled the Government to take action. If Ministers had not done something, he would have had them’ out.
– He. thought that he had the crowd with him.
– He had some persons with him. Ministers are influenced largely by those with whom they associate, whom they are apt to asssume represent the opinion of Australia. On one occasion, when an. honorable member on this side, who has since passed away, was denouncing the Deakin Government, saying that every person he met was opposed to the action it had taken, Sir. Thomas Ewing, who was’ then a Minister, asked, “ Did you meet your informant in Collinsstreet or in Footsoray?” Everything depends on the class . of persons that one meets. The honorable member for Flinders met’ a large number of personswho were enthusiastic for conscription, and assumed that they voiced the opinion of the country. The Government listened to him, and to the noise made by the press. in favour of conscription.
In the first instance, when the holding of the referendum was announced, we were not told that the Government would stand or fall by the result.
– It was stated in London, before the Cabinet meeting was held at which the referendum was decided upon, that another referendum was to betaken.
– I was not aware of that. The honorable member will have an opportunity of putting the facts on record.On the 8th November, the dayafter the Cabinet meeting at which the holding of another’ referendum was decided upon, the Age pointed out that unless the Government pledged itself to; stand or fall by the result, the appeal tothe people would be useless -
The Government should demonstrate the absolute sincerity ofits convictions by staking its. existence and the life of Parliament, on the success of its appeal.
– “Staking the life of Parliament”! How many supporterswould that have ?
– Those on this Bide donot owe their seats to the Age. I am well aware that I do. not, and I owe less to the other rag that is published in Melbourne. We were informed that the Cabinet had! been divided into two sections, one to frame the- question to he submitted, and the other to decide on the plan of campaign to be used, and the following day the Age said -
Undoubtedly it is the case that unless theGovernment is prepared to take a definite stand on the issue, and appeal- to the people for a favorable vote which will involve its existence,, the referendum will run a serious risk of defeat. The popular view seems to be that Mr. Hughes should clearly and resolutely demonstrate^ that the issue is overwhelmingly important by declaring that if the policy of the Government berejected he will not remain in office.
And the same day the honorable member for Flinders, speaking in Sydney, said -
The strongest, most legitimate, and. patrioticcourse the Government could take was to bring;. its measure for conscription, when it was prepared, down to Parliament, and let it be reduced to a form such as would be acceptable to the people, and go to the country upon it, and stand or fall by its issue.
The next day the Age, still sticking to its point, said -
Ministers decline to make any comment on the agitation throughout the Commonwealth calling upon them to make conscription a vital issue.
Then on the 12th, the day on which the Prime Minister opened the campaign at Bendigo, the Age in a leading article stated -
But not yet has the Government given the required proof of its sincerity to the people by staking its existence and the existence of the present Parliament on the issue. If the Prime Minister - as every patriot most earnestly hopes - does this to-night at Bendigo, we need not fear the result of the campaign.
That was prior to the Bendigo speech. The Government then decided - or they may have decided previously - that the referendum issue should be made vital. At the meeting at which that decision was arrived at every member of the Government except the right honorable member for Swan (Sir John Forrest) was present. If we are to believe the press, he was not in favour of that decision, and he stated to the newspapers a few days ago that if the Government were to resign the resignatipn would be purely of a formal character - out and in again.
– I denied that yesterday.
– I did not see the denial, but the right honorable gentleman -said, “ out again, in again.” That represents the policy of this Government. They are willing to do anything to hang on to office; they will not be sacked. After the Age had screwed them up to a definite point, they pledged themselves to be bound by the referendum results. In The Case for Labour the Prime Minister wrote -
An honorable man is bound by his word or action. A dishonorable man cannot be bound, even though his pledge be engraven on steel.
Does the Prime Minister believe to-day that an honorable man should be bound by his pledge] His declaration at Bendigo was -
I tell you plainly that the Government must have this power; it cannot govern the country without it, and will not attempt to do so.
At the Sydney Town Hall, on 14th November, he said -
The Win-the-war Government will not, and cannot, attempt to govern this country unless the people give us that power.
In his manifesto, issued to the farmers on 26th November, he said -
The Nationalist Government was elected on a definite policy’ which an overwhelming majority of the electors of the Commonwealth approved. The safety of Australia imperatively demands that Australia should do its duty, that the proposals of the Government should be accepted. Unless it has the power to secure the reinforcements as set out in its proposal, the Government cannot carry on, and will not attempt to do so.
At the Exhibition Building, Brisbane, he said -
He asked them to give him the powers which the Government sought. If they did not he, for one, would not attempt to govern the country. Without that power it was impossible to govern the country.
The Argus of 28th November reports him as having said, apparently in the same speech -
The Government cannot, and will not. attempt to govern this country unless the people give us this power. Theirs will be the responsibility of choosing their Government when they vote on this referendum on December 20. They will decide then not only whether or not our men at the Front will be abandoned, but how Australia will be governed at home, for 1’ repeat that the present Government will not carry on without the power for which it is now asking.
At Tamworth, on 1st December, he said -
The people were beginning to realize that by their vote on December 20 they will have to decide who should govern them.
At Armidale, on the same day, the Prime Minister said -
If the Government proposal was agreed to the Government would be bound by all the pledges he had made, but if it were not agreed to he would refuse to carry on.
In reply to a question at Uralla, Mr. Hughes repeated that -
If the Government proposal were agreed to the Government would be bound by all pledges he had made, but if it were not agreed to he would refuse to carry on.
At the Millions Club in Sydney, on 4th December, he said -
I have said that this Government goes to the people, and puts its fate in their hands. By whom will you be governed? Well, it is for you to decide.
At His Majesty’s Theatre, Sydney, on the same day, he said -
I also declare that unless the Government has this power, it will not. attempt to- it cannot - govern this country. If it has not this power, you will choose the manner of men you wish should govern. Your duty has to be done. You have to do it.
At Hurstville, on the 5th December, he said -
If you reject these proposals, I wash my hands of all responsibility. I shall not attempt to carry on.
At Goulburn, on 6th December, he said -
In effect what the people of Australia have to determine on 20th December is by whom they intend to be governed.
– From what paper are you quoting ?
– From the Worker, and there is no doubt about the accuracy of these statements,because if they were inaccurate the newspaper would be prosecuted. But I can obtain the same material from other newspapers. At Junee, on 7th December, the Prime Minister said -
Ihave said that this Government will not retain office unless you approve of these proposals.
At Albury, on the 17th December, he said -
As far as this Government is concerned, I repeat that unless it has the power it seeks it will not attempt to govern the country.
Those are the pledges of the right honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Hughes). Is he in office to-day, or is he not ? Is the vision of honorable members right when they see him still in occupation of the Treasury bench ? “I will not attempt to govern the country unless this power is given “ he said, and previously he had laid down the principle that “an honorable man is boundby his word or action ; a dishonorable man cannot bebound, even though his pledge be engraven on steel.” I turn now to the pledges given by the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Joseph Cook). Speaking atWilloughby, on 11th December, he said -
We are deliberately taking the risk. It is really we who are making the sacrifice, and we mean to return with a triumphant majority, and we say, “ Unless you do that, somebody else can have the chance of carrying on the Government.” We say we are doing this, even if it involves our own destruction.
At Summerhill, on the 15 th of December, he said -
If our proposal is not carried, we will ask to be relieved from the responsibility of conducting the war.
At Annandale, on 16 th December, he said -
The Government can get nothing out of this -we have nothing to gain. We will decline to hold office.
At Manly, on the same date, he said -
The Government will not attempt to carry on the government of the country if “ No “ is voted.
Senator Pearce, the Minister for Defence, speaking at Maryborough, is reported by the Age as having said -
The alternative was not merely a change to a Labour Government, as it was at the outset of the war, when the last man and last shilling had been pledged. The alternative was Australia’s withdrawal from the war.
The next pledge of interest is that of the honorable member for Flinders, Sir William Irvine.
– He is not a member of the Government.
– I know he is not, but I am putting him in to make weight. The honorable gentleman said at Wagga Wagga on 27th Novembers -
The Government has declared in language which admits of no shadow of ambiguity, that it will not attempt to continue governing this country without the powers asked for in this Referendum. That is a clear, definite, and welcome assertion of the principle of Government responsibility in an issue vital to our national honour and safety. No other course would have been possible. The Government says in effect, “ You must choose between our party with conscription and the official Labour party without conscription.” On this pledge the Government must not now be allowed to stand alone. All members sitting behind the Government are bound by it in honour or they cease to be Government supporters.
AtNorth Sydney, on 29th November, he said -
The choice now before the people of Australia is the choice which, in my opinion, should have been before them on 5th May last, namely, you have to choose, not between conscription and no conscription, but between the Nationalist party with conscription or the Labour party without conscription.
At Bathurst, on 1st December, he said -
The issue was ‘the National Government with conscription against the Labour Government without conscription.
I come next to the Postmaster-General, Mr. Webster. The honorable member is not present; apparently he is making up the sleep he lost when he rose at 3 o’clock in the morning to write out a character for the Prime Minister.
– I did not see that.
– I shall quote that later. The Postmaster-General said at Yass, on 5th December -
If the Referendum were not carried the Ministry would resign in twenty-four hours.
He proceeded to say that if the people voted “ No “ they would hand the Government over to Sinn Feiners and disloyalists. Are the 90,000 soldiers who voted ‘ ‘ No ‘ ‘ in the trenches to be classed as disloyalists? Speaking at Brisbane, on 13th December, he said -
If you vote “ No “ on the 20th the Government willnot remain in office twenty-four hours. We arenot going to carry the responsibility of office unless we can carry it out successfully.
Senator Millen, at Bathurst, on 17th December, when asked what would happen if “No” were carried, declared, amidst applause, that the Government would get out of office. The Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Watt) said at the Millions Club, Sydney, on 12th December -
We have asked you to take heed and counsel with us. If you do not you must get some other men to govern you. We cannot.
Here we had another member of the Government declaring that they could not continue to govern the country if conscription were turned down. But they still remain in office. The next on my list of quotations is a statement made by the Government Whip (Mr. Greene). Speaking at Alstonville, on 27th November last, he, too, fell into line with his Prime Minister. I have here the statement that -
Mr. Greene added that Mr. Hughes had stated that if the referendum was defeated the Government would resign. !The pledge given by Mr. Hughes to the people had been gazetted by proclamation-
That is news to me - and this he (Mr. Greene) had never heard of being done before. He emphasized the fact that the pledge would be absolutely kept.
The pledge was that unless the power sought by the Government was given them they would resign. According to the Minister for the Navy, it was the Government who were making the sacrifice. According to the Postmaster-General they would not carry on for twenty-four hours if the referendum were not carried. According to Senator Millen in that event the Government would go out of office. According to the Minister of Defence if the people voted “No” they would put in a Labour Government. Did this pledge mean anything, or was it merely made for party political purposes? Did the Government mean merely to make it and then to run away from it? I did think, and I still believe, that some of their supporters considered that it should be honoured, not in the breach, but in the observance - that the Government should stick to the pledge they had definitely given, even if it meant another party coming into power.
– Or a dissolution.
– Or even a dissolution. This motion will help to clear the atmosphere. It will give these honorable members an opportunity to come into the broad light of day, and to say whether they intend to support a Government every member of which holds exactly the same office that he held in the Government that gave this pledge. Other Ministers made pledges similar to those I have read, but I think I have put before the House sufficient to show that the Cabinet as a whole was absolutely pledged toresign if the Conscription Referendum were not carried. What is more, in the words of the honorable member for Flinders (Sir William Irvine),everysupporter of the Government was also bound by that pledge.
– Who says so? I never heard of such a thing.
– The honorable member for Flinders stated distinctly that the pledge made by the Government applied not only to the Cabinet, but to its supporters. I agree with that view.
– One correction. The honorable member ought to add that I said it applied to the supporters of. the Government unless they expressly disclaimed it.
– I was not aware of that qualification.
– Be fair.
– I am fairer than is the honorable member. Only yesterday, when he thought we were tricked - when he thought that my notice of motion was to be placed at the bottom of the noticepaper, so that we should not have an opportunity to bring it forward - he was to be seen grinning with satisfaction. He thought we were side-tracked, and that we would not have an opportunity to place before the people the actual facts. He knew we had been prevented under the War Precautions Act by the censorship, and the press, from giving publicity to our views outside, and he thought we were to be prevented by the majority on the Government benches from doing so in this House. I always endeavour to be fair. The honorable member knows that is so. If I had known that the honorable member for Flinders made the qualification he has just stated I should have given it.
– I did, in fact, make that qualification in every speech in which I referred to the matter.
– I freely accept the honorable member’s assurance, and shall say, then, that the honorable member declared that, not only the Government, but every one of its supporters was bound by this pledge unless he expressly disclaimed it. But how many did disclaim it?
– Not one.
– That is the point on which we should like some information.
– A large number disclaimed it.
– I am not going to follow the example of the Prime Minister who, on one occasion, acting like a schoolmaster before hia class, called on all his opponents who had not done a certain thing to stand up. I should like to know, however, how many supporters of the Government specifically disclaimed this pledge from the platforms of the country. If they choose to avail themselves of the opportunity afforded them by this motion they will be able to tell us what stand they took up. They will be able to tell us whether they did not say with the Government, “ Heads we win, and tails we do not lose.” That was the attitude of the Government. They were playing with a two-headed penny.
– ls not the honorable member a trifle mixed? There could be no tail on a two-headed penny.
– TEe honorable gentleman knows more about the “ two-up school “ form of gambling than I do.
This pledge having been given by Ministers, they returned to Parliament House, and held- a meeting upstairs. When we were in office it used to be said by an honorable member who was then leading the Opposition, that we always adjourned to the vaults ,to determine what should be done in the House. The Government and their supporters on this occasion, however, met upstairs, and de cided upon a policy of “ Hush and smother!” They said, in effect, “Hush! Not a word about these pledges! Smother them up. Keep them dark ! We have the press with us. Ninety-nine per cent, of the press of Australia backed us up on the conscription issue. The press will keep our pledges dark, and the people will not learn anything of them.. The Labour press will not have a chance of reaching the people. We shall take care that they are carefully censored, and keep out of the Labour journals anything that does not suit us.” That is the position to-day. A double censorship is going on. The Government and their supporters can secure the publication of anything that suits their party, and friendly editors carefully suppress anything that does not suit them. When it comes to publishing anything in favour of the Labour party, these newspaper editors ruthlessly use the blue pencil.
And so the Government and their supporters said, “ Smother up the Ministerial pledge. The people of Australia, returned us with a triumphant majority after Ready had been got out of the way. They took no notice of that incident, andthey will take no notice of this. Let us again adopt the policy of ‘ hush and smother,’ and the people will forget this pledge.” I warn honorable members opposite, however, that they are mistaken. Some of the people will remember the pledge. .The people who support the Government may have an undying hate for our political programme, and for our policy generally, but a lot of the respect they had for honorable members opposite has been lost as the result of the doings of the past week. They despise the Ministry and the supporters who keep them there. The Government cannot get away from that fact. They say, “ We are prepared to take the chance.” Of course they are. We have all to accept the responsibility for our political actions, and everything we do in this House must bear the light of day. No one’ knows better than do the Government and their supporters themselves that they have lost the respect of a great section of the community who supported them at the last general election, and who, on that occasion, were among their best workers. They may think that they may fool the people by this transparent device of resigning from office and .coming back again, but I warn them that the people will not be so deceived. The definite pledges made by Ministers remain on record. I come now to the conduct of the campaign.
– The honorable member ought to mention that between the resignation of the late Government and the coming into office of the new Administration, he was sent for by the GovernorGeneral.
– I do not mind mentioning that fact.
Mr.Watkins. - That was only part of the programme.
– I do not say that. As Leader of the Opposition I was sent for by His Excellency with the object of ascertaining whether I could form an Administration. I told his Excellency, truthfully, that there were on the Government side of the House a number of honorable members who were not satisfied with the Ministry, and that any reshuffle that might result in the Government going back to power would not be satisfactory to a great many of them. I believe thatmany honorable members opposite would have preferred to see the Labour party come into office, even if it had been met with a “ sudden death “ motion, or allowed to remain on the Treasury bench for a little time. They would have preferred that rather than that they should participate in the farce that has been enacted, and in which they will be participants unless they vote for this motion. They may go on the public platform, and ask,as the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Fowler) did, “How long will the people of Australia permit to rule over them this calamitous mountebank? “-
-Order! I ask the honorable member to withdraw those words.
– Certainly, sir. I was merely quoting a statement reported to have been made by the honorable member for Perth - a supporter of the Government - concerning his leader.
– It is not permissible for an honorable member to quote a statement made outside which he would not be in order in making in this House.
– The Leader of the Opposition does not think that the Prime Minister is a “ calamitous mountebank.”
– No. I do not think that of any honorable member. We may disagree politically, and honorable members opposite may do their best to bring about my political defeat, just as I shall endeavour to defeat them politically, but there is no reason why we should resort to personalities. In submitting this motion to the House, I am speaking in a strictly political, and not in a personal, sense, so far as any honorable member is concerned. I have always made my attitude perfectly clear, and would not be a party to attacks such as have been made on the Prime Minister by men on his own side. I would not be a party to such attacks either insi’de Parliament or out of it. The attitude adopted towards the Prime Minister by some men on his own side is absolutely unfair.
When interrupted I was about to deal with the conduct of the campaign. Honorable members are Well aware that any publication representing the views of honorable members on this side of the House was carefully scrutinized by the censor, that prosecutions were instituted, and that some members on this side were bound over not to make certain statements; in fact, we hardly dare open our mouths.
– We were not allowed to tell the truth!
– The honorable member was one of the public men the persecution of whom forms part of my case. At present, however, I am dealing with the literature that was issued on behalf of the honorable members opposite, and the EeinforcementsReferendum Council, and I ask whether, if we on this side had issued to the public such statements, we should not have been denounced, particularly in the one case, from every pulpit in the country as guilty of blasphemy. I refer to the pamphlet which contains the words, “But for Gawd’s sake don’t send me.” A pamphlet, as I say, authorized by theReinforcements Eeferendum Council,and signed by Claude McKay, publicity secretary, of 38 Collins-street, Melbourne. Do Ministers approve of that leaflet, for which, had we published it, we should have been rightly denounced?
– The honorable member is quoting only a part of the leaflet.
– The honorable member may see the whole of it.
– What is the rest of it?
– The leaflet is as follows : -
Send the Russians.
Send the Japanese. ,
Send the Americans.
Send the Hindoos.
Send the Chinese.
Send the Brazilians.
Send the South African Negroes.
Send the Kanakas.
But for Gawd’s sake don’t sendme!
I say that that is absolute blasphemy.
– No, I have a lot to say that is wqrse. Do the bishops and other ministers of religion, who supported the conscriptionist platform, approve of language of that sort?
I have another leaflet here which is called “ The Anti’s Creed,” and this does not mean the. creed of some, but all of those who are opposed to conscription. In spite of the character of this leaflet there was, so far as I am aware, no prosecution.
Mr.Rodgers. - This is a regrettable publication.
– Now we have an admission ; and I wish to place the leaflet on record as representing the views of the Eeinforcements Eeferendum Council.
– I know that the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Eodgers) repudiated that leaflet during the campaign.
Mr.Rodgers. - And the leader of the largest women’s organization also repudiated it.
– Some of the men and. some of the women repudiated the leaflet, but the great majority of the party opposite stood by it.
– Such a leaflet ought never to have been printed, and the party which descends to such methods of advocacy deserves to lose. The leaflet is absolute lies from beginning to end. The programme of the massed meeting held in the Melbourne Cricket Ground was printed on the back of that leaflet, and among the speakers at that meeting were many ministers of religion. Did they object to this leaflet? I have never heard of any of them objecting. This “creed” is set forth as the one in which all anti- conscriptionists are supposed to believe, including the 90,000 soldiers who voted “ No.” The leaflet is as follows : -
I believe the men at the Front should be sacrificed.
I believe we should turn dog on. them.
I believe that our women should betray the men who are fighting for them.
I believe in the sanctity of my own life.
I believe in taking all the benefit and none of the risks.
I believe it was right to sink the Lusitania.
I believe in murder on the high seas.
I believe in the I.W.W.
I believe in Sinn Fein.
I believe that Britain should be crushed and humiliated.
I believe in the massacre of Belgian priests.
I believe in the murder of women, and babykilling.
I believe that Nurse Cavell got her deserts.
I believe that treachery is a virtue.
I believe that disloyalty is true citizenship.
I believe that desertion is ennobling.
I believe in Considine, Fihelly, Ryan, Blackburn, Brookfield, Mannix, and all their works.
I believe in egg power rather than man power.
I believe in holding up transports and hospital, ships.
I believe in general strikes.
I believe in burning Australian haystacks.
I believe in mine-laying in Australian waters.
I believe in handing Australia over to Germany.
I believe I’m worm enough to vote No.
Those who don’t believe in the above creed will vote Yes.
Authorized by the Reinforcements Referendum Council. Claude McKay, Publicity Secretary, 308 Collins-street, Melbourne.
And yet no prosecution followed the publication of this leaflet - there was not a word said about a prosecution.
– I do not know whether that is so or not, and it is for the Prime Minister to say; but, if it be true, then the case is made so much the worse. In the face of such a leaflet the Eeinforcements Eeferendum Council continued to employ Claude McKay as publicity secretary. We know that on occasions a man may be called upon to do work in which he does not absolutely believe, or does not approve; and I can hardly believe that any one could approve of such a publication, or of such work as Claude McKay was put up to do, and compelled to do, by the Eeinforcements Eeferendum Council; no man could honestly say that he believed or approved of the murder of Nurse
Cavell, or in the murder of the children on the Lusitania. Greater untruth than that represented by this leaflet was never uttered in any part of the world, so far as I know.
– It sounds almost as bad as that “ blood vote “ of yours !
– The honorable member will have every opportunity to present what documents and arguments he desires during the course of this debate, although some honorable members opposite were very anxious that I should not have equal facility to place my views on record. Of course, I am not now speaking personally of the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Joseph Cook) ; but there are honorable members opposite, though not a majority, I think, who were anxious to have no discussion on the question before us. They were prepared to use all the forms of the House to avoid giving a vote which would decide whether the Government should honour their pledges, and be held responsible for the conduct of the campaign.
Honorable members are aware that the Government’s views during the campaign had every publicity so far as the news columns of the newspapers were concerned, but they may not be aware of the fact that they also had the advantage of the advertising columns as well. When I was returning from Brisbane, I had, of course, ample time to read the newspapers in the train, and I looked at them more carefully than I am otherwise able to do. It was then that I saw that the Argus of Wednesday, the 12th December, had over three columns of reports of meetings on one page, in addition to a leading article, “ Campaign Notes,” “ Points for Voters,” and other reading matter amongst the general news all in favour of the Government proposals. Altogether, there were about nine columns devoted to the advocacy of the conscription proposals, while there was not a line in support of those who were against them. We, on this side, at any rate, represent the views of, I think, 1,178,000 of the people of Australia on the question, including a majority of the people in the State of Victoria; and yet we had not the advantage of any space at all in the columns of the general daily press.
– How much space would the Labour papers give the other side?
– What space did the Labour papers give me?
– Speaking from memory, I should say that there were only two morning Labour daily papers in the Commonwealth, the Baily Post of Hobart, and the- Daily Herald of Adelaide. Then there is the Evening Standard of Brisbane.
– The Worker was issued as a daily.
– The Worker was issued only “three times a week. If the Labour papers did not give the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Joseph Cook) any publicity, I may tell him that, apart from the Sydney meeting at which I spoke, the Labour papers did not report any meetings at all, even on their own side. And in the case of that one meeting the Labour report was cut down by the censor; in fact, the Labour paper was not allowed to publish parts of my speech, although those parts appeared in the Sydney Daily Telegraph. The Age of the same date, 12th December, had about six and a half columns devoted to the affirmative side.
– The honorable member, in order to be fair, ought to compare the two daily Labour newspapers of the same date with the Melbourne newspapers.
– The honorable member can do that for himself. I have not the Labour newspapers here. Against the six columns and over in the Age on the one side, there was published about a 6-inch report of a meeting which the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) addressed on my behalf at Richmond during my absence in Brisbane.
– What about other issues of the Melbourne newspapers?
– So far as I am aware, the other issues of the Melbourne newspapers show a similar apportionment of space. I have already explained that the reason I select the 12th December is that during my journey from Sydney, I had ample opportunity to peruse the newspapers of that date.
– I thought it was a picked date.
– That is not so. As to the advertising phase of the question as distinguished from the news, I may refer to the case of the Herald, Melbourne. The Political Labour Council of Victoria, being in charge of the anti-campaign, had, of course, to advertise their side, and thev sought to have inserted a halfpage advertisement in the Herald. The man in charge of the advertising department of the Herald said he could accept the advertisement, and it was arranged that it should appear on the Saturday, Monday, and Wednesday with an offer for Tuesday as well. The representatives of the Labour Council offered to pay a deposit, but the advertising man told them it was not necessary, because their name was good enough - as, I say, it ought to be, representing, as they do, the responsible officers of a responsible body. The half-page advertisement, which was a very attractive one, appeared in the Saturday issue, but on the Monday the Political Labour Council representative received word from the Herald that there was no space for the advertisement that night - and this in spite of the fact that practically a contract had been entered into for three insertions. At any rate although it was said there was no space for this half -page advertisement, there was, on the Monday, space for a two or three column article on the front page by Mr. Theodore Fink in reply to the advertisement. The management of the Herald evidently got “ cold “ feet, and was afraid of the advertisement doing the paper an injury, seeing that it was so drafted as to, perhaps, give rise to the idea that it represented the views of the newspaper. However’ that may be, the management of the Herald intimated to the Political Labour Council that there would be no room on the Wednesday for any big advertisement, though on that day a full page, taken by some one, was devoted to giving the result of / -the returned soldiers vote, or, rather, I should say, the alleged vote by returned soldiers, because if that was a true vote the returned soldiers altered their minds when it came to a general vote, and from being a majority of 150 to 1 in one place the voting was never more than. 3 to 1 for “Tes” in any State. It must have been a faked vote, or the soldiers were compelled to vote “ Yes.”
– They were intimidated.
– Yes, intimidated. Men in the hospitals were told, “Unless you vote ‘Yes,’ we will not bring you any more comforts.”
– I know what I am talking about. If necessary, I will get sworn declarations as to the matter if the Defence Department will promise that the men will not be victimized.
– The honorable member’s assertion is a grave and dirty insinuation against men who did their duty.
– Let the honorable member make no mistake.It is not a grave and dirty insinuation against the men, but it is against those people who intimidated them, those who went to men lying on sick beds, or men who were there convalescent, when there was practically open voting.
– If the honorable member made that remark in Perth the men would tar and feather him.
– Order !
Several honorable members interjecting,
-I intimated at the beginning of the sitting that I expected honorable members ; to obey the call of the Chair. I will not have the call to order disregarded. If honorable members will not obey the call, I shall have to ask the House to take certain action. I address myself to honorable members on both sides of the House. I expect them to support the Chair in maintaining order.
-I was endeavouring to show that a full page advertisement in the Herald displayed this alleged ballot of the returned soldiers, while an advertisement which it had agreed to insert was refused.
– Would the honorable member mind saying who made the suggestion in the hospitals to which he has referred ?
– I am informed by soldiers that the statement was made. The honorable member can rest assured that unless I was sure of my ground I would notrepeat the statement here.
– Does the honorable member know by whom the statement was made?
– “It is safer to vote Yes ‘ than ‘ No.’ “ That was the statement.
– But by whom?
– I do not say that the statement was made by officers. It waa made by people who were in the habit of going into the hospitals and visiting the soldiers. I honestly believe in what I am saying, or I would not repeat the statement here.
– The honorable member said that he would get sworn declarations in regard to the matter.
-I said that I would get sworn declarations, provided that I had a guarantee that the men would not be penalized. Men who went out to advocate the “ No “ side have been punished.
– I know of the case of one man who had. his pension stopped.
– I did not know that that had been done, but if it is the case it is most unfair.
– Men have been insulted and threatened by their officers.
– The Political Labour Council of Victoria approached the other newspapers of Melbourne. The Age informed them that they could have a page advertisement, and accepted moneyin payment for it, but at the last moment turned it down, and merely gave a 12-inch double column advertisement, making a refund afterwards. The Argus, the newspaper that professes to be fair, and professes to have a high standard, was also approached, and asked whether an advertisement could be inserted, but the reply was, “ We have no space; we will have no space until the Saturday week after the referendum.” That is, until about ten days after the referendum, they could find no space an “ anti “ advertisement.Does answer deceive anyone?Apaper that would take such action is absolutely despicable. Can the other side point to any case where they took an advertisement to a Labour newspaper, and space was refused, even after the money had been paid, and where the advertisement was cut down to about a quarter of what was paid for? On the Sunday on which I was to speak in the Sydney Domain an advertisement was taken to one newspaper, and they said, “ We will insert the advertisement only if we are permitted to write it.” There was no chance for the Labour party to put forth its views.
There is no doubt that the words which I cabled to Warrant-officer McGrath, M.P., “ That the Labour mem bers, Federal and State, were unanimously opposed to the Government proposals:” that there was no chance of expressing their views in the news columns of the newspapers; and that advertisements, even if they were paid for, would not be accepted, correctly expressed the position. This is the fair play that we received from the press. If we take every copy of the newspapers circulating in Australia, the Labour party control probably not more than 1 per cent., the other side controlling 99 per cent. ; yet we had the majority of voters. What would the majority have been if we had had at least half of the newspapers with us, or if the press had accepted our advertisements as they should have done? However, I leave the matter there.
We had to fight against extraordinary odds, and we have won through in spite of everything - in spite of pledges that are now dishonoured, and, like a bad cheque, returned to the drawer as “ not negotiable.” That is the position. When honorable members’, pledges are presented for payment they are marked “return to drawer,” though they were not pledges made in the heat of platform discussion, but were made by honorable members - calmly and deliberately considering them as a Cabinet. They gave the pledge that they would stand or fall by this referendum. Did itmean anything ? Yet, with that advantage, they failed, and with all the other advantages which they thought they possessed - for instance, by reducing the number of reinforcements required! from 16,500 per month. “ Things are worse,” they said; “worse than they have been since the battle of the Marne, yet we are only going to ask for 7,000 a month.” Were they fooling the people in October, 1916, when they asked for 16,500 each month, and was it their idea to sugarcoat a political pill for the people to swallow when they brought down the number to 7,000 each month, and said, “These are only reinforcements?” Why didthey not have the common honesty toput into the question submitted to the people the words “ compulsorily reinforcing our men ? “ They practically arranged the question to be submitted to the people, and they arranged who should vote, and they did it all behind the back Of Parliament; but the people were not deceived.
If time permits, I propose to refer to some of those who have objected to being struck off the roll, and who are just as loyal as is any honorable member in this House. I met one man in another State. I did not ask him how he proposed to vote - I have never asked any man that question - but he asked me what I thought of things, and told me that he was prohibited from voting. I pointed to certain battalion colours that he was wearing, and asked him what it meant. He said, “ My son has just returned after serving for nearly three years; he is almost blind. I am entitled to vote, yet I have to go to some officer, and explain this, and ask him whether I can vote. Even had hebeen going to vote upon our side, I would not have asked him to appeal to this officer to be allowed to vote. In another case, the right to vote of a married man with five children, and whose only brother had been killed at the Front, was challenged. His father was born in Germany, but came to Australia as a child. As a matter of fact, he had volunteered for military service himself. Yet he was denied a vote merely because his father was a German. Similarly, a lady in Adelaide, who has sent five sons to the Front, two or three of whom have been killed, was refused the right to vote.
Mr.Watt. -She was not rightly refused.
– I am not saying that she was, but persons were denied the right to vote merely because some of the electoral officers did not know as much about the electoral law as did others.
– “ Rightly refused “ comes very well from the Minister for Works and Railways.
– That sort of thing might happen at any election.
– But it was more likely to happen, consequent upon the introduction of this system, on the occasion of the recent referendum than it is at ordinary elections. People did not know whether they were entitled to vote or not. Indeed, many persons, whose parents had been horn in Schleswig-Holstein or one of theborder provinces, perhaps, of Germany or Austria, or in the Trentino, outside of Italy, consulted me as to whether they were qualified to vote. They were eligible to vote if they could prove that their parents had been bom inthese provinces before a certain time. Now, I submit that it is a very difficult matter for many persons to prove where their parents were born.
– In some cases it is difficult to prove that they wereborn at all.
– We must take that circumstance for granted. But while some people may be able to say that their parents were bora in certain places, owing to the entries contained in the family Bibles or in other books which they have in their possession, it is extremely difficult for others to prove where their parents were horn. As a matter of fact, honorable members know that there are many applicants for old-age pensions who cannot prove either the date or the place of their birth. I say that it was absolutely unfair to impose such a prohibition on a certain section ofthe community at the last moment. I can cite still another case in which a man whose name is apparently as British as is my own, was allowed to vote, whereas his wife was denied that right. This man writes -
The facts are as follow: - “She was born in Elizabeth-street, Melbourne, and has never left the Commonwealth. Her mother was born in Sydney, and her ancestors, as far back as can be traced; are all English. Her father was born at sea on the way to Australia, and his parents are all English. I am at a loss to understand how it was possible to have made such a cruel blunder, and can assure you that she feels the showing up at the polling booth very much.”
– Was she a married woman ?
-Was she married to a German?
-No. Seeing that the husband was allowed to vote, why was his wife denied that privilege?
– There are fools to be found everywhere. They may be found in an election booth, as well as elsewhere.
– The action that was taken by the Government enabled these fools to have their own way, and to challenge the votes of certain persons whose votes ought never to have been challenged. In this connexion I intend to cite just one other case. Not long ago a man wrote to me from the Western District. His name, which I do not desire to disclose, is undoubtedly English. He has two brothers, one of whom is a Master of
Arts in this city, whilst the other is associated with a university elsewhere. Upon attending at the polling booth his wife’s vote was challenged, and her ballot-paper was set aside. Yet her maiden name was Jones, and her parents were born in Wales. Case after case of this description might be mentioned. Only yester- day I read the f ollowing in the Age news- pa per : -
Albury. - Bitterness has been engendered among the large number of people of German extraction in this district through the operalion of the provision in the late referendum disfranchising people whose fathers were born in Germany. The matter was brought up on Wednesday at the meeting of the Hume Shire Council, some of the members of which are affected by sec. 25.
There is no doubt about the loyalty of these people, and yet they were disfranchised. The Minister for the Navy desires to know what I said during the referendum campaign upon the question of the disfranchisement of aliens in our midst. I made a pronouncement upon that question from several platforms, but the newspapers did not publish it. I said that if any doubt existed as to the loyalty of any alien in the community such alien should be interned. It was the duty of the Government to act thus, but they had no right to disfranchise persons against whom there was not a whisper of suspicion. That was the statement which 1 made, and the fact that the newspapers did. not publish it was not my fault. I come now to the action of the Prime Minister which was, apparently, prompted by his visit to Queensland - I refer to the establishment of a Commonwealth police force there. To my mind, the right honorable gentleman’s action in that connexion was one of his worst during the campaign. I know that disturbances did occur at political meetings which he addressed there. But they were not of such a character as to warrant the establishment of a Commonwealth police force, and I hope that, though we now have the same Government in office again - the Out-again-in-again Government - they will say that if Commonwealth police are necessary in Queensland, they are equally necessary in other States, irrespective of whether there is a Labour Government in power there or not.
Not only did the press as a whole keep our speeches out of its columns, but we were also subject to a censorship. I have here the proofs of the reports of speeches which I delivered in Adelaide - one at the Trades Hall in the afternoon, and the other at the Exhibition Building in the evening of the same day. To show the absurdity of the censorship, let me inform the House that things which I said in both speeches werecut out of the report of the afternoon’s speech and allowed to appear in the report of the evening’s speech, and vice versa. The proofs of the speech had to be furnished to the censor by the Labour daily paper, which had to wait until it had received them back from him before it could publish the reports. Apparently, the object of honorable members opposite was to put every difficulty in the way of the Labour newspapers.
– I speak of the action of’ the Government. I do not know whether the honorable member, when the vote on this motion is taken, will cross the floor, or whether he will remain a humble follower of the Government, indorsing its action in the breaking of its pledges, and its conduct of the referendum campaign. He is one of those on whom 1 have my eye. The officials of a Department run that Department much as the Minister at the head wants it to be run; they take their cue from him. With a keen Minister, the officials will be keen; with a slack Minister, slackness will develop. When officials think that the Minister wishes things to be cut out of a newspaper report, they will see that that is done. That great paper, which was afraid to publish our addresses - the Argus - said that my attack on Major Smeaton, the Adelaide censor, was unfair; but that gentleman, who is the chief censor for South Australia, was photographed with the Prime Minister, as one of his prin- cipal supporters.
– Surely this is a free country.
– Yes; but a censor should not be a political partisan. It is his business to hold the balance of justice even. I have not the time to draw attention to all the passages that were cut out of the reports of my speeches, but this is one statement that was cut out. The Minister for Defence had said in Sydney that there were five divisions on the Western Front, and the equivalent of a division in Egypt. I repeated that statement, but the censor cut it out of the report of my speech.
– Were the proofs which the honorable member has supplied to him from the newspaper office?
– It is sufficient for the honorable member to know that I have the proofs. If he wants to make a victim of any newspaper, he must remember that he is not yet in the Ministry, though we were told that he was one of the probables.
– The honorable member cannot answer a question without making a personal attack. He is a man who has to obey the instructions of outside organizations; he is a mere puppet.
– The honorable member will have a chance, in speaking on the motion, to say what he likes. Ihave never taken exception to anything he has said about me.
– Surely, as a pressman, the honorable member for Wimmera was entitled bo ask the question.
– It is sufficient that I have the proofs. How, when, and where I got them concerns me, not the honorable member for Wimmera.
– But the honorable member imputed a motive to the question.
– I am sorry if I was taken to do that I decline to say how I got the proofs. It would not be fair if those who supplied them to me were victimized. We have a right to know what is taking plaice. I have here three passages which were not allowed to appear in the report of the evening speech, but were allowed to appear in the report of the afternoon speech, and another passage which was allowed to appear in the report of the evening speech and not in the report of the afternoon speech. Perhaps the two reports were censored by different persons, though the initials on the proofs look to be the same. In Canada,about six months ago, a Bill was introduced to amend the Chinese Immigration Act, and Mr. Roche was asked in the Canadian House of Commons, by Mr.
McDonald - not a very German name - whether requests had been received from coal-mine proprietors in British Columbia to be allowed to bring in Chinese labour. Mr. Roche replied that there had been several requests for the importation of Chinese labour by employers in British Columbia, in the central provinces, and in the eastern provinces. The question and answer were published in the Canadian Hansard, a publication which is accessible in the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library - it has not yet been seized. I quoted that passage in my speeches, but the censor cut it out of the report of the afternoon speech, though allowing it to appear in the report of the evening speech. Let me refer to another instance of the way in which the censorship was exercised. About a week before the referendum was taken, I had possession of a cablegram, which was sent from Great Britain, to say that Warrant Officer McGrath had distributed the statement that I had made, advising soldiers and munition workers, nurses, and others, to Vote against conscription. That cablegram came to Melbourne, and was received by the Argus newspaper. It was repeated to the other States, and then was withdrawn.
– Does the honorable member say that we stopped his message?
– No. The message which I sent to Great Britain was delivered. I made that fact known on every platform from which I spoke. .
– Then, of what does the honorable member complain?
– When the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) published that statement in England advising the soldiers to vote “ No,” and accompanying it with a diagram, I cannot for the life of me understand why, after that statement was cabled out here, and arrived at the Argus office in Melbourne, and the Argushad apparentlybeeh allowed by the censor to send it to the other States, the censor should hold the cable up.
– How do you know he did hold it up?
– I have proof that he did. It is distinctly indorsed on the message that cable number so-and-so, starting at such and such a word, and finish- ing with three words specified, must not be published. Another cable, I think No. 79, starting “Gilmour” and finishing “ Townend,” stating that since Passchendaele the soldiers had had an easier time, that they were having a good amount of furlough, and that a good number of them were going to London and Paris - and, by the way, General Birdwood himself said they were in an easy sector and were likely to have a rest for some time to come - was disallowed for publication here after it had been sent away from London. It stated also that football - Rugby, Australian rules, and soccer - had become an obsession with the soldiers, and that they were taking more interest in the inter-battalion contests than they were in the latest wireless ex Cambrai. Why was that cable held up ? The censors were instructed to give a. fair go. Was there anything in that statement of advantage to the enemy? If there was, the British censors had no right to let it leave London; and had there been any doubt as to its helping the enemy I do not think it would have gone away from the Argus office. But here is the political significance of the matter. The idea, apparently, was, “Po not let the people of Australia know that the soldiers are having an easier time. Do not let them know that they are on furlough.” I believe that cable was posted up on the board outside the Argus and Age offices that day, and after it appeared there was withdrawn by order of the censors.Why? Simply because they thought it would be a disadvantage to them during the campaign, and of advantage to us, as showing that the soldiers were having an easier time. I wish, before I close, to refer to the prosecution, or persecution, as it was, of public men on one side alone during the campaign. One side only was picked out for these prosecutions. The PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Webster) could say what he liked. He could say I was the leader of the Industrial Workers of the World, but there was no prosecution for him. Is there one other honorable member on the Ministerial side who will say that I am the leader of the Industrial Workers of the World? Was not the PostmasterGeneral’s statement as bad as some of those for which prosecutions were instituted ? Yet he was allowed to go scotfree.
– Where did you get the statement ?
– In the newspaper.
– What paper?
– I will show the honorable member later. I think it was in the speech made at Armadale. _ Why was the person who published that “ Antis’ Creed” not prosecuted? If time permitted, I could quote a number of instances connected with the newspapers. I have here the Worker, one sentence from which will do. In the hearing of a case, the lawyer for that paper asked the Chief Censor, “Is it not a fact that a report of Mr.Tudor’s speech . at the Sydney Town Hall was sent to the censor’s office and struck out, and the report had already been allowed to appear in the Herald and Telegraph? “ The censor replied, “No.” The next question was, “ Will you not admit that the report submitted to you was the same as appeared in the Telegraph, and that you struck out portions before you allowed it to appear in the Worker?” The censor replied, “It is quite likely it is so.” In another instance, where the censor said that one article was not submitted to him, it was proved that it was submitted, and he admitted that that was so. He said that, as a matter of fact, it had been submitted, but the type in which the heading was printed had been changed since the date of its submission. Apparently, an article can be passed, but we are not allowed to alter the type of the heading ! What an absurdity ! Those are the things that we battled against, and we won out.
– Whom do you mean by “We”?
– The anticonscriptionists. On the previous occasion we won by a majority of 72,000 votes, and on this occasion, with all the disabilities imposed on us, our majority went up to 164,000.- In the four largest States of the Commonwealth to-day there is a majority against conscription.
– And against the Government.
– And against the Government, I believe. They are at least against the Government on this question. The Government pledged themselves that they would resign if the referendum question was not carried. It was not carried. What do the Government propose to do?
Sitting suspended from 12.38 to 2.15 p.m.
– I wish I were able to offer to the Leader of the Opposition those formal congratulations which are quite common in circumstances such as these, but I feel myself quite unable to do so. The speech of the honorable gentleman ha.s disappointed me. Had a turn of the wheel of destiny placed me where the honorable member is to-day, and had I succeeded no better than he has done, I should then consider myself to be gibbeted for ever by public opinion, and to have lost all claim to be regarded as a leader of men in this country. For the honorable member’s own speech furnishes conclusive evidence why his motion should be rejected, and of his own unfitness to lead the Commonwealth in this critical hour. I ask honorable members to be good enough to review with me the actual situation as it now confronts us; I ask them to turn their eyes from those comparatively petty and insignificant details of the recent campaign to which the honorable gentleman devoted his whole attention, and regard that tremendous and tragic spectacle upon which the civilized world has been compelled to gaze, those awful agonies it has been compelled to endure for over three and a half years. Of this, the greatest tragedy in the world’s history, the honorable member has said not one word. He has made no reference whatever to the fact that a great war is in progress, that it has now reached its supremest crisis, that our liberties and our existence as a free people hang literally by a hair. One would have imagined from the honorable member’s speech that by some hocus pocus, or by the vote of the people, we had abolished war and its consequences, whereas in reality we stand now on the very brink of a precipice over which to-morrow we may topple headlong. Sir, the honorable member by his motion invites this House to declare, in effect, that it has no confidence in the Government, and he and those who are associated with him should govern the country. Yet he avoids all mention of those things that fill the minds of all thinking men… Not only has he passed over without a word the war and deadly peril in which we stand, but he has made no reference whatever to the effects of the vote of the people upon the Commonwealth-; not a word has he said of the referendum as a means whereby Democracy expresses itself, and proves its competence and fitness as a means of government. Yet there is something about the result of the referendum and the situation with which we are now confronted at once tragic and sad beyond the power of words to express. When we contemplate the circumstances in which the referendum, that supreme achievement of Democracy - government of the people for the people directly by the people - to which we of the Labour party had pinned our faith, called upon to justify itself, has failed, and failed abjectly, who amongst us can doubt that this is a blow at the very foundation of democratic government ? The Leader of the Opposition has said nothing at all about the consequences of the referendum vote to Democracy, to Australia, to the world, to civilization, and to the cause of peace. He has made no reference whatever to the present position of the war, the Italian situation, the darkening shadow on the Western front; no reference to Germany’s attitude towards the Russian peace proposals. Every man must admit, extremist though he be, that the Bolshevik peace proposals did not err on the side of demanding too much from Germany. Yet to-day we see Germany contemp- tuously evading these proposals of a Democracy run mad, a great nation now dismembered and in a state of anarchy, awaiting the hour when Russia, incapable of further resistance, will be at her mercy. He has made not one word of reference to the fact of ‘the mask having been torn from the face of Germany, her hypocritical peace proposals exposed, her war aims clearly revealed. Instead of proving the fitness of his party to govern by dealing with a great situation in a great way, he has regaled us with statements about Mr. So-and-so having said something and his remarks not appearing in the press; that a number of persons of German extraction were not allowed to vote, and so on; but not one word of the fact that Germany intends, if by any means she can accomplish it, to Prussianize the world,, and retain her hold on all that territory of which she is now in occupation, and that she intends to dismember the British
Empire - the greatest guarantee of the world’s security and peace that history has ever known. Every phase of the titanic struggle in which the civilized world is engaged is ignored, and we have been obliged to follow the honorable gentleman through a maze of the infinitely little and petty. We have heard nothing of the great and tragic situation that presents itself to us and the world to-day. What is the present position of Australia ? Who shall say that Democracy has emerged triumphant from its trial? History will write its verdict on what Australia has done. Posterity will judge whether we, who declared that in no way can Liberty be retained by a people who were not prepared to fight for it, were light or wrong. I have no doubt what that verdict will be. We have not failed. The honorable member did not even say that the Government had failed. He was concerned more with the question of who shall sit on the Ministerial benches rather than with the fact of what the referendum vote means to Australia. He has not even done that which he might legitimately have done, holding the views he does, namely, acclaimed the fact that Australia has escaped from conscription. All he is concerned with is as to who shall sit here, and who there, that Mr. So-and-so said something and ‘ was prosecuted, while Mr. So-and-so said something else and was not prosecuted, and that The Antis’ Creed hurt the tender feelings of some persons and no prosecution followed. I ask the House and the country to look at the existing war situation and to consider what the referendum vote means to Australia, and -what the war means to us. To-day we stand within a hair’s breadth of a precipice. Armageddon is at hand. The legions of the enemy are massing for the great attack; forty-one German divisions have been detached from the Eastern frontier and concentrated at Cambrai. What is to happen on the battle-fields of Europe is to us the great thing that matters. How do those things of which the honorable member has spoken affect this fact? How do they lessen our danger? How do they help us to meet it? How would they avail if the Germans broke through the line at Cambrai ? Will any man tell us that we have a right to ignore a situation which may involve the nation in destruction? I had hoped that the honorable member would have let us and the world know that he realizes his responsibility towards the people of this country, and that he has some solution to offer of these tremendous problems which confront us. By not a word did he suggest to the House that he recognises the situation in which the country finds itself to-day. We heard not one word, either by way of approval or condemnation, of Mr. Lloyd George’s declaration of the principles for which Great Britain drew the sword, and upon which she stands to-day. The Prime Minister of Great Britain and President Wilson have set out clearly the terms upon which the Allies are prepared to make peace. He uttered not one word of commendation of those great pronouncements, consistent as they are with the cause for which Britain and the Allies drew the sword, and with a most sincere and earnest desire to bring lasting peace to the world. The most ardent lover of peace must surely commend these plain and definite declarations of the Allies’ war aims, and of the terms upon which they are prepared to make peace; yet by not even a word have honorable members been privileged to learn the honorable gentleman’s mind on ‘this vital matter.
May I be permitted to remind the House and the country of the circumstances that led up to the referendum? Let me recall to honorable members the circumstances in which this House was elected, and the pledges by which every honorable member on this side, and on the Opposition side also, is bound. Much has been said about pledges, and I say here and now that I am one of the men who, in 1914, subscribed to the manifesto upon which the Labour party was given a majority by the electors, without which we would never have been returned to Parliament. It was this manifesto; setting out as it did clearly the war policy of the Labour party, that induced the electors to say, “ This is the party we want.” That manifesto was redolent of patriotic determination to wage this war to a victorious finish for those great principles which Mr. Lloyd George and President Wilson but yesterday reiterated again to the world. It pledged every member of the party to a definite policy. Those pledges were given by honorable members opposite, but they did not keep them. Yet they talk about honouring pledges. Every man on the Opposition side was elected upon the pledge that we would stand behind the Empire to the last man and the last shilling, subordinating all things in any and every circumstance to the carrying on of the war. Did they do so? Sir, they did not. They were not allowed to do so by the outside organizations ; but honorable members, at the behest of persons outside this Parliament, repudiated the pledges upon which they were elected. I was elected, together with the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Tudor) and every one of those honorable members who were returned to Parliament in 1914, upon the pledge to fight this war to a victorious finish. That was the policy of the Labour party in 1914; what is its policy to-day? If we contrast the elections of 1914, when the Labour party, then united, went to the country upon that manifesto which secured our triumph, with the fate that overtook them on the 5th May last, when, at the behest of men outside, they set aside their former pledges for a mean and narrow creed which brought them deservedly to destruction - then we shall see by what means they have fallen from grace, and how richly they deserve the fate that has overtaken them. The party which was given an overwhelming majority in 1914 received in 1917 the greatest defeat in the history of the Commonwealth. It was victorious because it put country before party; it was defeated because it put party before the country. It is true that honorable members speak now as though they were to-day the representatives of the majority; but they are not so.
The Nationalist party has failed, if you like to put it so, to arouse the democracy of this country to a sense of its duty, but it Is not we who have failed, but the people of Australia. We have failed to make disloyal men loyal; we have failed to make cowards brave men; we have failed to make lip-servers of loyalty loyal in their hearts; we have failed to make selfish men forget their selfishness. There are tens of thousands who urged us on, yet went to the ballot-box and, for the sake of their pockets, voted “ No.” I would infinitely rather stand with men
I have denounced - with the Sinn Feiners, who have an ideal although it is one with which I cannot agree; which I think indeed is calculated to hinder rather than promote the object they have in view - than with these men who sold their country to put money in their pockets. I can understand a man giving a vote to save his life, although I cannot applaud his action. I cannot forgive it, but I can understand it. I can understand men who are attalched to an organization following that organization out of a mistaken sense of party loyalty. I can understand all these things although I cannot applaud them. But I cannot forgive those men who, grown fat on this war, pretended that they desired Australia to do her duty, and went to the ballot-box and voted against her doing it.
Let ug review the situation.
Honorable members interjecting,
May I ask, Mr. Speaker, that there may be no interjections. I cannot hear them, and therefore it is not fair to me that should be made.
– Since the Prime Minister has specially drawn my attention to interruptions I ask that they cease. Since there is. a time limit to speeches it is specially important that the Standing Orders Be observed, and I expect the House to observe them.
– We made no interjections.
– Order! I shall name the next honorable member who interjects immediately after I have called for order.
– I come now to the circumstances that led up to the election of this Parliament. In 1916 a referendum was taken on this very question at a time when I was Leader of the United Labour party. By a majority the people of this country rejected the proposals then submitted. But within six months of their rejection the Nationalist party was returned to office by the largest majority ever accorded to a party in Australia. It was returned to office upon a platform clear and unambiguous, and which set out unmistakably the differences between the two parties. Those differences still divide us. I declared in my Bendigo speech that it was for the peopleto choose by what men and what ideals they should be governed. The ideals of our party were set out quite clearly and distinctly. This party was elected on the policy set out in my Bendigo speech prior to the elections of 5th May, 1917. Its attitude towards conscription was set out in the following words: -
This Government will not enforce nor attempt to enforce conscription either by regulation or statute during the life of the forthcoming Parliament. If, however, national safety demands it, the question will be again referred to the people. That is the policy of the Government on this great question.
Speaking at Benalla on 26th April - during the same campaign - I said -
We shall not find a ready excuse or pretext for putting this question to the. people. We shall put it only if the tide of battle which now flows strongly for the Allies turns against them. In that case we shall put it before the people.
That was the policy of the party I have the honour to lead on this” great question. It was upon that that the National party were elected. It involved a double pledge - a double obligation. The one was that we would not introduce conscription behind the backs of the people; the other, that if national safety demanded it - and the test of whether national safety did demand it was that if the tide of battle which then flowed strongly for the Allies turned against them - then we were in honour bound to submit the question to the people either by way of election or referendum. It was upon this distinct understanding that the electors ‘ returned the party to power. Our position on this matter was quite clear.
What was the position of the war immediately preceding the date on which the Government decided to launch the second Referendum campaign ? Never in the history of the world has there been a change more tragic, more catastrophic than that which overtook the Allied cause in the months of October and November last. Russia, that great Ally, had completely collapsed. Italy had been overwhelmingly defeated. In the history of the world there is no defeat that can bear comparison with that of the Izonzo Two hundred and fifty thousand - I quote, of course, from the newspaper statements - of the’ Italian Forces had been taken prisoner, and at least 200,000 casualties had occurred. Great armies no longer continued to exist. That line which seemed to be not only impregnable against the attacks of the Austrians, but on the verge of sweeping down on to the plains of
Austria, was in a moment sent reeling over the Tagliamento, until it was driven back on the Piave to the very gates of Venice.
That was the position. Will any man dare to say that, in the face of the Bendigo speech, and the circumstances in which we were elected, we as a Government and a party ought not to have consulted the people, ought not to have told them plainly what the position was, and have asked for that power without which it seemed to us we could not fairly do our duty to the Empire? At that very time, as honorable members well know, General Birdwood, who has had the honour of being hooted in this country by some gentlemen who were very prominent in the “ No “ campaign, but whose name will live in the history of Australia as that of a man who has served the cause of civilization, of the Empire, and Australia, had declared that one division of the Australian Army had to be withdrawn. He set out in plain terms the number of reinforcements required. Do honorable members think that we could in honour have remained silent, that we could have retained office, without going to the people and telling them these facts ? Will any man say that with any of the means at our disposal we could have hoped to get voluntary recruits to fill up the gap? There was no hope; at least so it seemed to us. I said at Benalla if the tide of battle turned against the Allies we should again put this question to the people. The tide of battle did turn unmistakably against the Allies, and we put the question to the electors. Upon them rests the responsibility. Time will . write its verdict on the decision of the Australian electors on 20th December, and I feel confident that when the verdict is given it will not be we who put the question, but the people who rejected it, who will stand condemned.
Those were the circumstances under which we took the referendum. My honorable friend, the Leader of the Opposition, after having been my colleague for many years, and ‘ therefore knowing me very well, indeed, has said that the referendum was taken because the honorable member for Flinders (Sir William Irvine) had been campaigning throughout the country on this question. I intend to say but ohe word on this particular point:; I have been a colleague of some of my honorable friends opposite for many years, and if they pretend to believe that in the Caucus or on the floor of this House, or anywhere else, they know me as a man who can be driven by any man, I will say no ‘more than that I do not agree with them. The Government took their own view of the responsibility in regard to the referendum, and the honorable member for Flinders quite properly took his own course. For that he is responsible, and can answer. We did what we considered proper and absolutely essential. We felt we could either go to the country on the issue or put it before the people by way of a referendum. We adopted the latter course. The battle of the Izonzo, the collapse of the Russian armies and of the Russian nation, were ample justification, and provide a reason that is so full and complete as to close the mouths of all save those who come, not to be convinced, but to condemn.
I come now to the circumstances under which the Government took the referendum. It is said that we sugarcoated the pill, and that we ought to have asked for more. Indeed, it was freely stated during the campaign that if we got this power we would not stop there. I shall read shortly some of the statements made in the literature of my honorable friends on the other side, who urged that wo would introduce industrial conscription 1
– Hear, hear! .
– Who stated that we would take the married men.
– We say so still.
– I want to make it perfectly clear that when the British Army Council told us that 16,500 recruits per month were necessary, we asked for 16,500. Likewise when we are told that 7,000 were necessary we ask for that number. Will any honorable member say that we could have done our duty to the Empire in any other way? Some one must have the responsibility for carrying on the war, and by common consent it was placed in the hands of the War Cabinet, in whom the outer Dominions have every confidence. The War Cabinet declare how many men are wanted, and it is for us to say whether we shall grant them or not. The Cabinet ‘ asked for 7,000 men per month from Australia, and we stated the conditions under which we hoped to secure that number. W;e exempted married men, and we said also that we would provide the labour necessary for the industries of this country. The proclamation issued by the Government, and containing its proposals to meet the requirements of the War Cabinet, will stand aa a monument of a democratic Government and party, endeavouring, in; the most critical juncture of the country’s history, to do their duty as men intrusted by the people of a free country with, the reins of government in the greatest crisis in the world’s history - to Australia and the Empire.
The Leader of the Opposition has spoken about this pledge or statement made by me at Bendigo, and he has said a lot about honour and the obligation cast on men in regard thereto. Now, let me speak plainly. As I understand the statement made at Bendigo - if honorable members like to call it a pledge I shall be glad to do so, too, but I call it a threat - I said to the people, “ If you do not do so and so, then, for my part you get some one else to govern the country.”
– And the people have got some one else.
– I was elected on the distinct understanding-
– Why all these excuses? Get on with your speech.
– Order! I ask the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) not to interject.
– I was elected on a distinct understanding contained in my Bendigo speech of 5th May, and every other Government supporter save, I believe, one or two, was elected on that policy also. Those statements bind me, because the people, in consideration of such undertakings, returned me to Parliament and this Government to office. When I made that pledge at Bendigo, what did the Government stand to gain? Did we stand to gain office? No. Did we stand to gain anything ? No. We were in office with a great majority behind us; we had been elected upon a war policy that gave us a free hand to give effect to our policy on all matters except conscription. That was and still is the position. I come now to the pledge or threat. What did it mean? If my pledge meant anything, it meant that the people must choose whether they would have a National party or an Official Labour party. If it did not mean that, it was a mere idle phrase. It meant, “ You must have either conscription and us or no conscription and the honorable member for Yarra and his party.” , The honorable member for Flinders has put the case in that way, and that is what it meant, and what the Government put before the people. The loss of a referendum itself has never been regarded in this country as a reason why a Government should go out of office. I shall come to the pledge afterwards, but, in itself, the loss of a referendum has never been so regarded. When the referendum was introduced by the Fisher Government .in 1911, and was defeated by an overwhelming majority, I never heard - and I was then in a position to hear a good deal - the faintest whisper of a suggestion from the honorable member for Yarra, my then colleague, that he should give, up office. Indeed, my late right honorable leader, Mr. Andrew Fisher, now High Commissioner, said that he would immediately introduce another referendum that would make the people fall down with fright! Mr. Ryan, the Premier of Queensland, has said that the present Government ought to leave office and allow the Official Labour party to come in. But he has never paid: the slightest attention to an adverse referendum vote. It will be remembered that recently Mr. Ryan introduced a referendum with a view to abolishing the Upper House in the State of Queensland. It was defeated, but he never suggested for one moment that he should vacate office. On two occasions I have had the honour, as leader or lieutenant of the leader of the party opposite to assist in introducing referenda. On each occasion the referendum was defeated, and on neither was there a suggestion that the Government should vacate office.
The only reason, then, for the Government vacating office lies in its own deliberate statement made to the electors at Bendigo that, if the people did not agree to the proposal made, we would not govern. The declaration at Bendigo was put forward as an inducement to the people to accept the. Government proposal. In effect, we said this : Grant the power asked for by us, or else my friend the honorable member for Yarra (Mr.
Tudor) and his colleagues will govern this country. It would have been no inducement whatever to the people of the country to say that we, the members of the present Government and of the late Government, would go out and allow eleven other men of the National party to come in and govern the Commonwealth - that would not have turned one solitary vote. The issue was - Conscription and the Nationalist party or no conscription and the Official Labour party. Well, the electors rejected the proposal of the late Government, and the other day I tendered to His Excellency the GovernorGeneral the unconditional resignation pf the Government. His Excellency sent for my .honorable friend, the Leader of the Opposition. As is set out in the memorandum by the Governor-General, His Excellency had no advice whatever from me. If His Excellency had. chosen to intrust the Leader of the Opposition with a commission, it would have been for this House to determine whether a Government led by the honorable gentleman had the confidence of the House. I do not know whether the honorable gentleman would have accepted a commission, but, whether he would or not, unless he had a promise of a dissolution, it does not, on the face of it, appear probable that he would have lasted very long. The honorable gentleman was not given a commission. His Excellency, in a way, I think, almost unprecedented, exhausted every effort to obtain information as to the state of the House and the prospects of stable government, and he came back N to me, and asked me to accept a commission. What I meant by the pledge was - Tudor or me. What my colleagues meant was - the Nationalist party or the Official Labour party. There is no way by which the Official Labour party can govern in this House while there are fiftythree men on this side not prepared to support. them, while, at the outside, there are only twenty-two men on the benches opposite! Then His Excellency, untrammelled by advice from me, declined to give the Leader of the Opposition a commission, either with or without a dissolution. Therefore, the only way in which that pledge could be carried out in a way satisfactory to my honorable friends’. was impossible for us. We had done on our part everything that could be done, and I venture to say that if eleven other men of the Nationalist party stood here in office, their position would have been no different. We should have been supporting them instead of them supporting us.
Several honorable members interjecting,
– I have two or three times called for order, and I ask the honorable member for Maribyrnong to cease his very audible conversation when I request that order shall be observed. The honorable member is not in order in (conversing and commenting in audible tones, and thus interfering with the honorable gentleman addressing the Chair.
– I am not doing that.
– Order !
Mr.HUGHES . -What I have said is the view of the members of the Nationalist party, and I venture to say that it is the view of the great majority of the people. In view of the fundamental differences of policy, ideal, outlook, and circumstance between the two parties in this House, there is only one way by which the honorable Leader of the Opposition can secure a majority in this House, namely, by an appeal to the people. But His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, in the exercise of his discretion, has, most properly, I think, refused to agree to dissolve a Parliament barely eight months old. If any man will say honestly that it is in the best interests of the country that we should have an appeal to the people - that there shouldbe more turmoil and more confusion - well, then, I do not agree with him.
Several honorable members interjecting,
– I think I am entitled to a little consideration from honorable members opposite.
– You give so little to other people.
– I should regret to take a certain course, but several times I have called the House to order, and several times I have warned honorable members of what the consequences may be if my appeals are disregarded. I must ask the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) to cease his interjections.
– In the last sixteen months, we have had two referendums, a general election, and the greatest strike in the history of the Commonwealth. It is now, I think, up to us to see if it is not possible for men representing the people of Australia to come together and try’ to do some work on behalf of Australia. When the Nationalist party was formed, or before it was formed, the Leader of the Opposition was asked to join the party, and endeavour to create a truly National Government by including all sections of the House. He declined to do so; he would have none of it. If my friend will say to me now that he is prepared to work with this party, I, for one, will be prepared to help him. If I am the man who stands in the way, and he will only work with the National party upon the condition that I am not Prime Minister, I will stand aside if he is prepared to agree to a policy acceptable to the Nationalist party, But I adjure him, as a representative of the people - and I appeal to every man on the opposite side - to find a modus vivendi whereby we can do the work we were sent here to do, and help Australia to perform her duty during the war.
Honorable members opposite resent some of the statements made by conscriptionists during the campaign. In what better way could they confute all those who Have declared them to be disloyal, to be in favour of turmoil, to be coila borateurs of the Industrial Workers of the World, than by declaring that they are willing to let bygones be bvgones, and are prepared to put Australia first.’ Now that we have submitted this question of conscription to the . people, let us prove, however we differ on this one point, we are united in our determination to win the war and serve Australia. It is to my honorable friends opposite I make this appeal in the most public, definite, clear, and unambiguous way. Let them now say what they will do. And in the fervent hope that they will work with us for the common good, I do not intend to indulge in personalities, recriminations, or say anything that will reflect upon my honorable friends. I am here to deal with great principles and causes, and not with individuals. I invite the honorable Leader of the Opposition to join hands with us either in the Government, or outside it, and help us to serve the best interests of Australia and the Empire in this great National crisis.
I turn now to the second paragraph of my honorable friend’s motion - which relates to the prosecution of public men. The Leader of the Opposition has endeavoured to persuade this House and the country that the Government has misused its great powers to prosecute individuals because of their opinions, that it has stifled freedom of speech, and that it has prevented honorable members opposite and others who think with them from freely putting their views before the public. What are the facts ? There is not a country in the world in which a man may say what he can say in Australia to-day. In the words of Archbishop Kelly, which I quoted several times during the referendum campaign, I again say - and I say it without reference to the gentleman referred to at all - that “if he had been in any other country where there was not so much liberty as in Australia he would have been imprisoned long ago. And it would have been for a very long time, too. If he had been in Russia, France, or Italy, there is no doubt he would have been condemned long ago.” There is no country in the world which has been given the opportunity of freely expressing its opinion on peace and war that is afforded in Australia. The very soldiers in the trenches, the man in the street, our women - all sorts and conditions of people - have been consulted; have been given the fullest opportunity of expressing their views, and determining the policy of the country. The people have spoken, as I think, most unfortunately. They have failed; but that failure is not due to the Government. It is a reflection on Democracy, and a complete condemnation of the referendum as an instrumentality of democratic government.
Now let me come to the censorship, about which the honorable member complained. The honorable member for Yarra affirmed that his party had not been given a fair chance. I propose to read the instructions which I issued to the Chief Censor, and which that officer carried out, and I venture to say that if the Leader of the Opposition can find cause for complaint with them, he is exceedingly difficult to please. On the 24th November, the day on which I reached Sydney, I met the editors of the Sydney press. They put before me certain complaints, and I said that I would rectify them, and issue instructions which they declared would be quite satisfactory. I will read the memorandum which was forwarded to me by the Chief Censor in Sydney, Mr. C. G. Nicholson. It is as follows: -
Enclosed are also the following proofs, showing deletions made in pursuance of instructions from head-quarters : -
“Married men, beware! “ (Worker, 20.11.17.)
” Can you trust this man? “ (Worker, 20.11.17.) (3)Hughes’ fatal admission.” (Worker, 23.11.17.)
“Factory Employees Union’s conscription circular.” (25.11.17.)
“Is conscription democratic?” (No Conscription Council, 23.11.17.)
I understand that you instruct me not to continue to make similar deletions.
My record of your instructions is: -
The Prime Minister instructs me -
to cease deleting matter contravening War Precautions Regulations (including matter prejudicial to recruiting) unless it would convey true or false naval or military information to the enemy.
to pass false figures and false statements, such as, “ Enough men have already left these shores to keep the five divisions at a strength for over three years ahead.”
The Prime Minister rules that the statement quoted is purely political, and defines “political matter” as all matter not of naval or military benefit to the enemy.” There is to be no censorship of “ political matter.” All the foregoing instructions are to be applied to all newspapers, without discrimination, and to all leaflets, pamphlets, and other matter submitted for censorship.
Will it not be necessary to advise printers and publishers that the passing of matter by the censorship does hot protect them from liability under the War Precautions Regulations, or any other law?
I understand that you donot instruct me to pass for publication: -
Disloyal statements; or
Matter likely to offend an allied or neutral power.
As your instructions contradict the written instructions of the Minister for Defence, will you please confirm my record by initialing the duplicate of this letter.
That was minuted by me, and those instructions were carried out. This memorandum was read at a subsequent meeting at which, the editors of the Sydney newspapers were present, and those gentlemen were perfectly satisfied with them. All the prosecutions which were instituted were prosecutions for offences against the laws of the Commonwealth, and the majority of these prosecutions were for offences committed before these instructions were issued. I venture to say the memorandum I have just read is a complete answer to the charge of political censorship. It leaves no room whatever for hostile criticism, and completely sweeps away the charges that have been made by the Leader of the Opposition.
Now for another matter. The honorable gentleman has complained very bitterly of statements made by advocates of the “ Yes “ side, and has declared’ that I declined to prosecute the persons who made them. I say that, in the face of the instructions which I have read, nobody was prosecuted for statements other than those calculated to mislead the elector in the exercise of his vote, and for reflections upon our Allies. Outside these two restrictions everybody -had a free hand.* The statements which are alleged to have been made by conscriptionists, and which are printed on the anti-conscriptionist leaflets, do not fall within either of these restrictions. They are statements which may be offensive to my honorable friends. When they were brought under my notice, I said that I did not approve them, and that I would give permission to anybody who so desired to institute a prosecution of the authors of them. I treated both sides alike. So far from, preventing my honorable friends from saying what they desired, I erred on the other side, allowing many things to be published which were grossly offensive, full of lying misrepresentations, and statements calculated to affect recruiting to pass unchallenged. I allowed leaflets called “ The Lottery of Death,” ‘“The Blood Vote,” “ Billy’s Bulletin,” “ Conscription and its Attendant Curse,” and another which is headed “ The Curse of Cairo,” some excerpts from which I propose to read, to circulate freely.
Everybody could say what he wished to say. If he made a false statement there was the law to punish him. If any one can bri?3g forward the charge that I have not prosecuted any on the “ Yes “ side who made false statements, I will prosecute them now, even though they be mem- bers of this Government. Here is one statement made in this “Lottery of Death,” a tissue of vile falsehoods -
When Hughes was reproached last year with ignoring his pledge not under any circumstances to send men out of the country to fight against their will he answered with a thoroughly Prussian disregard of the binding nature of any honorable understanding “ What does it matter what we thought yesterday?”
I have never sent a man out of this country against his will, though I have ‘had the power to do it. I have not broken that pledge, if it was a pledge. I have never in my-life said, “ What does it matter what we thought yesterday ? “ It is a lie. The whole thing is a lie. But I let it go. The censor brought the pamphlet to me and said, “ It is full of lies ;” but I said, “ Let it go.” Here is another statement prejudicial to recruiting and full of lies. It is signed by S. A. Glover, Cairns, and says -
Workers of Queensland, Married Men. Nowhere is there any express exemption of married men. Married men must come forward eventually. Do not fall into the trap laid for you. Vote “ No.”
Yet hundreds of thousands of proclamations were circulated throughout the country saying that married men were expressly exempted. That statement was brought to me, but it was allowed to go out. Yet, the Leader of the Opposition says that I did not give the other side fair play. Every man knows that, in the north of Queensland, the “ Yes “ side never had a chance to make itself heard. There is now a reign of terror in North Queensland.
– And elsewhere.
– Yes, and elsewhere. There is a boycott. In certain districts, no small shopkeeper dare say that he was for “Yes.” No man on the wharf dare say that he was ^ for the “ Yes “ side. Means were resorted to by the “ No “ side which prevented an expression of opinion. I was denied a hearing several times. I was met at Darlinghurst by a howling mob of men. I venture to say that there was two months’ supply of recruits there, but I was not allowed to say one word. Yet these gentlemen talk about freedom of speech. Do they say that there is no other -way of closing mouths except by censorship? In the face of the instructions that I gave the censor, in the face of those lying and infamous statements issued by ‘ their side, and issued freely, will they still say there was any political censorship? Do they say it, in the face of this vile statement, which was issued in the Cairns Times, in black type : -
The awful toll paid in Egypt, in the shape of wrecked and wasted human life, owing to certain diseases, was worse than the casualties of the Dardanelles; and to ask any Australian women who realize the mystery and iniquity behind the world tragedy to - vote in favour of “ Yes “ in the face of these facts, was deliberately to ask them to elect to go down to hell with their eyes open.
I let that statement be published. I doubt very much whether I did my duty in doing so. But I did it. Yet honorable members say that I exercised the censorship unfairly against them. The honorable member says that some of his speeches were held up. My Adelaide speech was held up four hours, and did not reach Melbourne until too late for the early editions of the press.
– For what purpose?
– I do not know. It was delayed ; but, whether by the censor or by the telegraph department I do not know. Surely the honorable member does1 not propose to hold me responsible for the actions of any individual as to the way in which he carries out his duty. 1 gave my instructions and expected them to be carried out. They were clear and explicit, and no man could misunderstand or criticise them. If they were not carried out how could I help it?
The honorable gentleman tried to make the country believe that the “ No “ side was handicapped by the censorship, that its supporters were without money, and denied opportunity of setting out their views. What are ‘the facts?
In this campaign honorable members opposite had more money behind them than we had. They had more posters than we had. For three or four days in the Sydney press they had half pages of the Morning Herald and the Daily Telegraph fully displaying certain secret memoranda written by Mr. Holman. Their dodgers were scattered about in hundreds of thousands. They had more canvassers. They closed our mouths whenever _ they could get a chance to do so. Yet they come here and talk about freedom. They used the boycott. In Collins-street one day I saw a soldier kicked because he wore a ‘.’ Yes” button. There was a reign of terror. No man could call his soul his own who dared to say he was for the ‘ ‘ Yes ‘ ‘ side. In the face of all these things honorable members talk about not having a fair show. They had every show, and they have had ‘their way, and they have dragged Australia down. They said that industrial conscription would follow if this referendum were carried, but to-day they cannot stand up here and say it, because they know that industrial conscription could be imposed without the need for a referendum. The power to impose it has been with us for years. Every one knows “that we could impose industrial conscription how.
Honorable members interjecting,
– Order ! The honorable member for Melbourne Ports is out of order.
– However, the people of this country, some declining to accept their proper responsibilities as free citizens, others to take responsibility through sentiment, fear, selfishness, cowardice, or through failure to visualize the tremendous nature of this titanic struggle, have failed Australia in her hour of need, and now we have to make the best of things as they are, and du our duty to the Commonwealth and the Empire. And this is what I ask honorable members to do. Whatever they may say about me what does it matter? Let them say it. But will it add one recruit to strengthen the line at Cambrai? Not one. Will it send one bag of wheat to the. millions in Britain who sorely need it? Not one. These gentlemen during the campaign talked about “ food, not men.” Yet for three months they were in league with men who did everything to stop a bag of wheat going Home. I say to them, “ Come, let us work together. Let us send this wheat to Britain, to our Allies. Let us get voluntary recruits somehow. You have denied us our way of doing it. Will you help us to do it by your way, if you have one? Will you do that?”- I tell my honorable friends opposite plainly that if they will get 7,000 recruits per month their place is where I stand, and I will support them or any one else who will get them. They have secured the rejection of compulsion. Well, what is their policy in regard to raising men for- reinforcements? The following resolution was adopted by the Official Labour party on the 3rd of this month -
That this Council indorses the preamble of the peace proposals adopted at the last Political Labour League conference, and demands that the Allied Governments Immediately initiate negotiations for peace.
Are we to intrust the government of the country to a party with such views? Honorable members’ opposite say that they can get recruits, yet it is notorious that, taking the party by and large, the leaders of the movement outside- thank God there are exceptions - instead of helping to gain recruits by voluntary means, it has thrown its weight against us. The conscriptionist movement having failed, are we, on being thrown back on voluntarism, to resign the administration to men controlled by outside bodies which have declared that the Allied Governments should immediately initiate negotiations for peace? Peace with Germany whilst her military power is still in the ascendant? Peace with the Hohenzollerns? Upon what terms? Russia has initiated peace negotiations: what is her position ? The so-called peace negotiations are still dragging on, but as Germany’s military power remains, and that of Russia no longer counts, there will be no peace satisfactory to Russia and the Allies. Now that Russia’s legions have melted away into a disorganized rabble, Germany is waiting to strike home. She is not making an arrangement with an equal, but dictating terms as a conqueror, her proposals being designed, not to bring about a lasting peace upon the foundation of the recognition of the rule of law, of national rights, of liberty, and of true civilization, but to extend Prussian domination over Lithuania and Poland. Germany demands the free entrance of German goods into Russia for a period of fifteen years. If Germany were to offer us peace without the annexation of any part of Australia, but on the condition that we should allow her goods to enter this country free for the next fifteen years, would one member of this House dareto propose acceptance of the offer? Not one! Sir, to give effect to resolutions such as that to which I have referred means the destruction of our liberties, of our very existence as a nation. The only way in which we can secure peace and safety and the right to make our own laws, and ‘develop this country in our own way, is by breaking the power of the Hohenzollerns. Mr. Lloyd George and President Wilson have voiced the opinion of the Allied nations. It is not against the German people, sane and clothed in their right mind, that we wage war. It is against the accursed militarism in which they are enmeshed. Let us break that. Let us have a sane political system in Germany, under which the people govern, and there will be some guarantee for the world’s peace; but today, when the legions of Germany are massed for a desperate attempt to break through to Calais and Paris, to dictate terms to France and to Great Britain, is not the time to talk of peace. Rather must we gird up our loins and continue the war.
The Leader of the Opposition spoke of the disfranchisement of Germans.
– He did not; he spoke of the disfranchisement of Australians.
– A straw will show the direction of the stream. Why this anxiety in the interest of Germans? Before the war, the vote of the districts in which Germans predominated was never cast for the Labour party; but since the war it has supported the Labour party almost unanimously.
– That shows that theyare a German party.
– What about the Bunyip ?
– I have several times warned the honorable member against interrupting, and I again ask the honorable member for Melbourne Ports to keep order.
– The Bunyip said I am a German.
– I name the honorable member for disregarding the authority of the Chair, and I ask the Prime Minister to take the necessary action in support of my authority.
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh, who is better known as the Bunyip, said that we are Germans. I am not a German.
– The honorable member was not in order in again interjecting just after being called to order. I ask the
Prime Minister to take the necessary action.
– I did not hear what was said.
– When the honorable member for Hindmarsh has withdrawn his statement, I shall apologize.
– It is impossible for the occupant of the Chair to maintain discipline and to enforce the Standing Orders if he is not supported by the House. He must look to the Leader of the House to help him. The Prime Minister himself has appealed to me on several occasions to see that the Standing Orders are observed. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports has several times disregarded the authority of the Chair, and left me no recourse but to name him.
– That is not so.
– May I rise to order ?
– There is no point of order.
– Before I move a motion, may I ask the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, out of consideration for the House, and the special circumstances in which we find ourselves, to put himself right with the Chair, and to accept my assurance that I extremely regret any statement made by a member on this side that may Havebrought him into conflict with it?
– Mr. Speaker-
– What the honorable member for Hindmarsh may have said has nothing to do with the matter immediately before the Chair. I have to complain of the repeated disregard of the authority of the Chair when the House has been called to order. Immediately after I called the Houseto order, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports interjected. That is what I complain of. If the honorable member for Hindmarsh said anvthing that was offensive to the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, I shall, later, ask him to withdraw it and to apologize. In the meantime, I ask the honorable member for Melbourne Ports to recognise the authority of the Chair, and to apologize for having disregarded it.1
– I did not interrupt before the occasion on which I was called to order. In saying that I have interrupted repeatedly, you make a mis take, Mr. Speaker. The honorable member for Hindmarsh said that we were a German party. I shall not withdraw my denial that I am not a German. Until the honorable member’s remark is withdrawn I will not withdraw my statement.
– The honorable member misapprehends the whole position.
– Then put me out. When the Bunyip withdraws I will withdraw.
– The honorable member is now out of order in interrupting the Chair. The offence has been in disregarding the authority of the Chair when the Chair has called the House to order.- I ask the honorable member to apologize for disregarding the authority of the Chair.
– I will do nothing of the sort.
The honorable member for Melbourne Ports then left the Chamber.
– I call upon the Prime Minister to submit the usual motion.
– I desire to call attention to the extremely offensive observation made by an honorable member on the other side of the chamber.
– Order ! Will the honorable member resume his seat? The fact that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports has walked out of the chamber does not relieve him of the obligation of apologizing to the House, and I ask the Prime Minister to support the Chair by taking the necessary action, the Chair having named the honorable member, by moving that the honorable member be suspended from the service of the House.
– I presume the motion I have to move is that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports be suspended. I very much regret this, and feel sure that the honorable member, irritated by an interjection, has made a statement- -
– Is this motion debatable?
– Then on a point of order-
– In the circumstances I have no option but to move -
That the honorable member for Melbourne Ports be suspended from the service of the House.
Question put. The House divided.
Majority … … 24
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Mr.Higgs. - I desire to move “ that the words be taken down.”
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear!
I have dealt with the various points raised by the honorable member for Yarra in his motion, and by way of conclusion I shall briefly refer to them again, but I now come to the present situation. I find the Parliament constituted as it was upon the result of the last general election; parties in the House of Representatives stand 53 to 22, and in the Senate 24 to 12, or, as the actual results of the last Senate election showed, 18 to none. Without a fresh appeal to the people there is no possibility of a Government being carried on other than by the party commanding the majority of the Parliament. The late referendum has not and cannot alter the state of parties in this House. We are now where we were on the evening of the 5th May. We were elected on the 5th May upon a policy, the particulars of which I shall remind honorable members of by reading an excerpt from a speech of my own on that date. I had already set fprth the position in regard to conscription which we took up at the general election. I said that we accepted the verdict of the people given on 28th October, 1916. We said that we would not introduce conscription behind the backs of the people, and, further, that if the national safety demanded it we would bring the question before them again. I said that if the tide of battle turned against us we certainly would do so. All these pledges have been faithfully kept. We have not brought in conscription behind the backs of the people. We were , pledged, if and when the tide of battle turned against us, to bring the question of conscription again before the people, and we have done so. We pledged ourselves to resign if the referendum was carried against us, and we have done so. Nothing will satisfy my honorable friends opposite but that they shall take possession of the Treasury benches. The pledge would have been utterly meaningless if we had said that we as an Eleven would go out and that another Eleven selected from exactly the same party, and having exactly the same policy, would come in. What sense would there have been in making such a pledge as that to the people? It was evident that the pledge as given was intended, as I repeat, to induce the people to realize the gravity of the position, and to choose between the Official Labour party without conscription or the National party with conscription. The people have chosen. The Government has resigned unconditionally. It has done all within its power to give effect to its pledges. The government has to be carried on. I stand here having carried out my part of the pact; it is for this Parliament to carry out its part, and do that which it was returned to do on the 5th May. We are now in exactly the same position as we were then, having been defeated on conscription, yet having been deputed by the people to carry out a war policy. I said, on the 28th March, 1917-
It is our duty to help the Empire in the struggle. Indeed it is imperative to do so, for only by helping the Empire can we save Australia. As I have said, there are many ways in which we can help the Empire - with men, with money, with our. products. As to men, now that the people have decided against compulsion, the call of duty, of patriotism, of Australia, of Empire, must reach the ears of all our young men. Let them go forth and strike a blow for the land that has bred them. Let them draw the sword in defence of those liberties with which this country has so richly endowed them. Now, let me turn to other means by which Australia can aid the Empire. This war is not as other wars, merely between the armed forces of the belligerents. It is a war between nations. Every man and woman is or ought to be a fighter, struggling for his or her life. Every resource of the Empire, the services of every man’ and woman able to do some useful work, are needed in order that we should be victorious. Now the most effective means by which Australia can’ help the Empire, apart from sending .men to fight, is to send from her great storehouse- metals for munitions and products to feed and clothe the Imperial and Allied armies and the people of Britain.
I set forth then the policy of the Government. As we were then so we are now. Again we have asked the people for power to raise reinforcements by conscription. It may be that long before this Parliament reassembles it will be no longer within our power to do anything at all in the way of self-government, for I say deliberately that when we consider that only with the greatest difficulty have the Allied forces made their way step by step in Prance, progressing so slowly that in two and a half years they can hardly be said to have advanced at all against those forces Germany was then able to muster, how can it be said, with the German legions already reinforced by forty-one divisions from the Russian front, that the Allied line is safe? And if the Allied armies fail, what then is to become of us and of our self-governing institutions, of our liberties, of the Australia we love?
In the meantime, we are to do our best, and this Government and Parliament arc to go on with the work which the people elected them to do. We are to get men, and if we cannot get them we must face the position. It may be that peace will soon come. God knows no more sincere <»r earnest evidence of peace was ever made than the recent pronouncements of Mr. Lloyd George and President Wilson on successive days. If Germany is in earnest in desiring peace she can have it. But the true voice of Germany, is heard not in those honeyed accents,, censored state- ments, and cunningly devised emanations from the Wolff Bureau which are circulated throughout the world ; it is not heard through those agents who have poisoned the minds of the people of Australia; but in the cable message I shall quote we have Germany in excelsis. According to this morning’s Argus -
Speaking at a Conservative Congress held at Halle, in Prussia, General von Liebelt declared: - “ We hold that might is right. We must know neither sentiment, humanity, nor compassion. We shall incorporate Courland and other provinces with their 60,000,000 Russians. The Slav nightmare will ride us no longer. We must have Belgium and Northern Prance. The curse of God is upon the French people. The Portuguese possessions must disappear. France must pay until she is bled white.”
There we hear the voice of Prussian militarism. If the voice of Socialism in Germany can make itself heard; if the Socialists will pluck up root and branch that cursed Hohenzollern tree, and speak to the people of the world as a civilized nation, the three conditions of . peace laid down by Mr. Lloyd George - (1) the sanctity of treaties must be re-established, (2) a territorial settlement must be securely based on the right of self-determination or the consent of the governed, and (3) we must seek by the creation of some international organization to limit the burden of armaments, and to diminish the probability of war - offer terms that no nation truly desirous of peace can reject. Those are the terms which the Labour party at the last InterState conference in Adelaide promulgated. They are terms to which all lovers of liberty and peace can subscribe. Mr. Lloyd George has stated the means by which we can 1 < obtain peace, and President Wilson has repeated in greater detail the very same principles. The world longs for peace, but we must not live in a paradise of fools. There is only one way by which we can get peace - we must destroy that dynasty and its militarism which has made the world a bloody shambles. Until that is done there can be no peace and no security. Until militarism is crushed, all attempts to secure lasting peace must fail. We shall be as the Russians are to-day, endeavouring to set up an ideal Democracy while the tiger is unleashed and waiting to strike down its prey.
I appeal to honorable members opposite to help the Government, to co-operate with it during this war, and to stand by our side in the attempt to solve those difficult and complex problems that confront us. I say again, if they desire to completely collaborate with this Government let them say so, and I for one will go more than half way to meet them.
For the rest, I say the honorable member’s motion is one which ought not to, and will not,” receive the support of this House. His claims to govern this country are such as not to merit the consideration of the people. He is not supported by a majority in this House or in the country. The only proof ‘ of his claim to have a majority in the country is that the referendum on conscription has been defeated; but on 28th October, 1916, conscription was defeated, and within five months, by the greatest majority in the history of Australia, the National party was returned to power. We are back in the position we were in before . The Government is in office constitutionally. The honorable member for Yarra has had his opportunity. We freely resigned without any conditions. Now we are again in office, and intend to carry out the policy upon which we were elected.
.- The ordinary hour for adjournment having been reached, and the Government having arranged to adjourn this afternoon and resume on the ordinary sitting dnys next week for the consideration of this motion -
– Was that arrangement made?
– The Prime Minister said yesterday, “You will have five clays to consider this motion. You will have Thursday night,Friday and Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of next week. If you cannot say all you desire in that time, I do not know what will suit you.” The honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Austin Chapman) telegraphed early this morning making arrangements to be in Sydney for the week end, which shows how he viewed the arrangement. I, too, early to-day telegraphed to Sydney arranging to keep my engagements in that city at the week end. Three South Australian members on the Government side have already left to catch this afternoon’s train.
– The New South Wales members have not much consideration for others.
– The honorable member knows that, owing to the agreement made yesterday, a number of us who return to other States each week have made our arrangements for the week end. The Government, by the personal action of the Prime Minister himself, as stated in the Law Courts in Sydney, has taken action against me in regard to a number of speeches I made, and I am bound under six different headings which practically make it impossible for me to deliver a speech outside this House. I desire an opportunity to deal with the actions of the Government, and I shall not have that, opportunity if the debate is proceeded with to-day, and I, owing to an arrangement made yesterday, have agreed to be in my electorate at the week end.
– The honorable member can get a pair.
– I cannot.
– I will pair with you.
. (By leave) - I have sent for a copy of the Hansard record of yesterday’s proceedings in order that we may know exactly what was said last night. Speaking from memory, what I said was that we should finish next week. My honorable friend was unable to give me an assurance that we would.
– He said that we would probably finish next week, but he could not guarantee that we would.
– Obviously, the probabilities of our finishing next week will be considerably increased the longer we sit this week. If the Leader of the Opposition will say on what day next week he and his party are prepared to finish - let it be Friday or Saturday next at any hour - I am willing to agree to the House meeting either on Tuesday or Wednesday next at any hour the Opposition pleases. The sole condition’ is that we should finish the whole of our business at a particular hour next week. I have now the Hansard proof of what I said last night concerning this matter. It readss -
If the honorable gentleman will say that after the no-confidence motion is disposed of he will grant a further two months’ Supply–
– Honorable members cannot have it both ways. If honorable members say that after the no-confidence motion has been settled we are to have another wrangle over Supply, I am opposed to that course. If they will agree to allow a month’s Supply pro forma, and then deal with the no-confidence motion upon the condition that it be decided next week-
– I do not specify any time within which the motion shall be decided.
– I do specify a time; otherwise, we might be discussing it for a month. Will not the honorable member see that, whilst on the one hand he says we are denying him an opportunity to state his case, on the other hand, when we offer him five days in which to challenge the Government, he says the time is not enough ?
– There are only three sitting days in the week.
– There is to-morrow; and, if honorable members choose, we shall sit on Saturday.
– “If we choose.” The Prime Minister now says that we “must” finish.
– I will repeat what I said last night. If the Opposition will undertake to dispose of the no-confidence motion and of .Supply, and finish the whole of the business at any time before 11 p.m. to-morrow week, I am prepared to agree to the adjournment of the House now and ‘ to the re-assembling of the House on any day next week that they choose to mention. Otherwise we must go on.
.- (By leave) - I induced our party last night to agree to the granting of :a ^month’s Supply without debate on the understanding that the no-confidence motion should be brought on to-day, and that in the discussion of the next Supply Bill we should not mention any matter relating to the referendum. I said, as reported in Hansard -
I am willing that the Government shall have Supply for one month without debate, provided that to-morrow the no-confidence motion is permitted to come on. How long the discussion of that motion shall last is a matter within the determination of the . Government, which has a majority, and can closure the debate at any time.. The no-confidence motion having been disposed of, Ministers can say what business shall be taken. Apart from the referendum, and the things that were done in connexion with it, honorable members may desire to criticise the conduct of various Departments. I have heard dissatisfaction expressed regarding the administration of the Postmaster-General’s Department, the Defence Department, and other Departments. We have a right to criticise the administration of Departments generally.
– Once the no-confidence motion has been disposed of, honorable members should confine their remarks purely to matters arising out of the Supply Bill.
– If on the no-confidence motion we have a fair discussion of the referendum and kindred subjects, if each honorable member on this side is permitted to speak for an hour and a half, should he so desire, on those subjects, 1 do not think any ohe of us will raise those questions again on the Supply Bill; and the Government can please itself as to what it asks the House to do.
– If a month’s Supply be granted now without discussion, it -shall be as the honorable member suggests. I . am willing to allow the no-confidence debate to commence to-morrow morning at 11 o’clock.
– Where does tha agreement come in!
– I am anxious that we should arrive at an agreement, but some honorable members opposite, judging by their constant interjections, desire that we should not. The Government, apparently, are anxious to close up Parliament.
– We are not.
– No particular days were mentioned when I ‘made this agreement.
– They were in my speech.
– According to the Hansard report, the Prime Minister’s speech was made at 8 o’clock, and I succeeded him eight minutes later. The offer I made was, therefore, subsequent to the speech which he has just quoted. Every member of our party honoured the pledge I gave. I ask the Government to honour the arrangement by allowing us to adjourn to-day at the* ordinary time.
– Let us meet on Tuesday if the Government desire it.
– I have no power to determine the days of sitting; that matter rests with the Government.
– The honorable member has power to make a suggestion. ‘
– I am anxious that we should adjourn now, and that honorable members should have ample opportunity to discuss the -no-confidence motion. If , when we meet next week at the ordinary hour, there is a desire for the debate to be brought to a conclusion within a certain time I shall do my best to induce the members of my party to fix upon a time limit. More than that I cannot say. If the Government choose to say that we shall adjourn now, and on resuming next Wednesday sit continuously till we finish the whole business, I shall do my best, sofar, as I am concerned, to fall in with that arrangement.
– It is not enough for the honorable member to say that “as far as he is concerned “ he will do so. He must say that, as the leader of his party, he is prepared to conclude the debate on the no-confidence motion, and on the further Supply Bill to be brought forward, by 4 o’clock next Friday, or, if that is too early, on any date that he likes to name.
– The members of our party agreed to the arrangement made last night in the bond fide belief that they, would be able to return to their homes to-day. Up to the luncheon adjournment to-day not even the Government supporters had any idea of our sitting after 4 o’clock.
– Here is one who did.
– The Government have the numbers, and, if they insist upon going on, the responsibility must rest with them.
. - (By leave) - If the Leader of the Opposition wishes to come to an agreement we can do so, but if he desires merely to score points that is quite a different matter.
– That is the last thing I want to do.
– Some honorable members opposite, no doubt, want to get away. Obviously, it does not matter so much to me, as my home is here. I am anxious that honorable members who want to go to New South Wales should be able to do so, and at the same time come back and have an opportunity to take part in this debate. You can, therefore, fix any time you like, and next week, if you so desire, we shall sit on Tuesday instead of Wednesday, if by so doing you can undertake to finish at 4 o’clock on Friday.
– I honestly think we can inish the debate by then.
– That will not do.
– Go ahead, then. “Out” us!
– You expect me to make a definite agreement and stick to it, so you must come to an agreement and stick to it,- too. I suggest that we adjourn now, and meet at 3 o’clock on Tuesday instead of Wednesday, if you can promise to finish by Friday.
– We cannot finish by then.
– We can finish the censure motion next week, no matter how long we may have to sit.
– The proposal before the House is that we should adjourn now and meet on Tuesday, if honorable members opposite will agree to finish the censure motion and Supply next week. We can sit as many, or else as few, hours as you like. You may have it your own way. I cannot say more than that.
– You have the numbers. Go on.
– I think we can finish the debate next week.
– Finish it now. You have the numbers.
– Get to work with the War Precautions Act, and shut up Parliament.
.- (By leave.) - I still think we can finish if we meet on Wednesday. We will sit day and night if you like. I am anxious that we should carry out the agreement arrived at last night. There was then absolutely no opposition to the proposal; but if the Government are anxious to close up Parliament, they have the numbers, and can, do so.
– We are not anxious to close up. We are willing to sit now, but you want us to shut up the House.
– The ordinary days of sitting are Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, and I think we will be able to finish by next week. It is impossible to break away from the agreement deliberately made last night.
– I made an agreement, and I will stand by it. There it is in black and white.
– The Prime Minister specifically mentioned the days of sitting as Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of next week.
– I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, that in order to obviate further wrangling, you leave the chair for ten minutes.
Sitting suspended from4.15 to4.35 p.m.
– I ask leave to continue my remarks on Tuesday.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) proposed -
That the House at its rising adjourn to 3 o’clock on Tuesday next.
– I have been in consultation with the Prime Minister,and I can only say that I shall do my best to see that the debate on the censure motion is concluded next week.
– And also the debate on Supply ?
– As to our meeting on Tuesday, I personally do not regard that as necessary - I do not think it would matter whether we met on Tuesday or Wednesday.
– The honorable gentleman’s undertaking includes Supply?
– That is a matter for the Government. I shall do my best to honour the compact, though, as I say, I do not think we ought to have met until Wednesday.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill returned from the Senate without request.
The following papers were presented: -
Naturalization Act - Return of number of persons to whom certificates of naturalization were granted under the Act during 1917.
Papua - Ordinance of 1917 - No. 9. - Supplementary Appropriation 1916-17 (No. 4).
Taxation - Report of the Resolution and proceedings of the Conference of Commonwealth and States Taxation Officers held at Melbourne, March, 1917.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- Yesterday I brought under the notice of the Prime Minister the fact that there had been a failure in the delivery of cornsacks. I remind the honorable gentleman that an undertaking was given to the farmers that a full supply of sacks would be available in time for the harvest.
From private knowledge I can assure honorable members that, while in many cases the contract has been faithfully carried out, there has been wide-spread failure, involving dual purchase of sacks - one purchase of old sacks at even a greater cost than new - and the dumping of wheat on the ground; indeed, in some cases there has been a complete cessation of harvesting operations. I blame no one personally, but the matter cannot be allowed to rest where it is. All sorts of excuses for the failure of the contracts have been made, and there is, in consequence, great agitation throughout the farming community. I ask the Prime Minister to cause some inquiry to be made ; and I suggest that the Prices Commissioner, who is doing his utmost under the trying circumstances to adjust supplies, should have within his knowledge most of the facts, and be able to place valuable information at the disposal of any Committee of Inquiry. I ask the Prime Minister to have some inquiry made, so that the responsibility for the failure in supplies may be placed on the right shoulders.
– I shall instruct the Commissioner to have an inquiry made at once.
.- I desire to bring under the notice of the Minister representing the Minister for Defence the case of the Mount Morgan Pony Racing and Trotting Club. This is a purely benevolent institution. Nobody connected with the club receives any personal gain from it. The whole of the proceeds, after some necessary expenditure - which other honorable members, who seem to be amused, possibly know more about them than myself - is devoted to charitable institutions. The Defence Department has decided to permit the club to have only twelve meetings in the year. We all appreciate the desire of the Government to curtail unnecessary amusement, and understand that tha Treasurer hopes by means of this curtailment to induce people to put money into war-savings certificates or loans. I am inclined to believe that very little money that goes to the patronage of the’ club would find its way into war certificates. I hope honorable members will permit me to point out the particularobjects to which this club devotes the proceeds of its meetings. The figures I give relate to the period between March, 1916, and December, 1917, and the donations were as follow: - War Committee, ?52 3s.; Ambulance Brigade, ?68 14s.; Benevolent Society, ?22 3s.; General Hospital, ?72 10s.; Miners’ Health Committee, ?40; Clermont Relief Fund, ?15 10s.; private donations, ?15 9s.; Rod Cross Society, ?60 8s. l1d.; Young Men’s Christian Association, ?5 5s. - a total of ?352 2s.11d. It will be seen that those who patronize this pony club do. try to make some kind of - shall I say? - reparation for their amusement; and they ask to be permitted to have twenty meetings per annum, the number allowed to the Rockhampton Racing Club. This, I think, is a modest request, . which I hope will be taken into earnest consideration by the Minister. I could adduce further arguments in support of my request, but as honorable members are anxious to catch their trains for other States, I shall not, at this stage, do so.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. To-day the Leader of the Opposition read a quotation of something which I was reported to have said from tho Worker. I do not know where that journal obtained its information, but I wish to say that it was not correct, and that I never made any statement even remotely resembling that with which I was credited.
– I ask the Minister in charge of the House to bring’ under the notice of the Prime Minister, or the particular Department which may be concerned, the advisableness - if it be true that farmers in Victoria are allowed to use secondhand bags for the storage of their wheat - of extending that privilege to every State of the Commonwealth with a view to seeing that fair play is done all round.?
– I was very pleased to hear that the Prime Minister had agreed to an inquiry on the part of those in authority-
Mr.Considine. - I desire to call attention to the slate of the House.
A quorum not being present,
-adjourned- the House at 4.49 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 11 January 1918, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1918/19180111_reps_7_83/>.