7th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. W. Elliot Johnson) took the chair at 2 p.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) who is responsible for the very serious blunder that occurred in connexion with to-day’s procession, by reason of which, when some of our noble Anzac lads were passing the saluting base, there was no one there to return their salute, and this, although they were the very men for whom the procession was arranged, and to commemorate whose deeds the day was set apart?
– I am under the impression that the Returned Soldiers Association had control, of the whole arrangements, but I shall findout definitely, and let the honorable member know the result of my inquiries.
– Can the Acting Prime Minister say when the next dividends in connexion with the various Wheat Pools will be paid?
– The Wheat Board met yesterday to consider, more particularly, the question of further dividends on the 1915-16 and 1916-17 Pools, and, I understand, arrived at a recommendation. I have not yet received that recommendation, but it will be dealt with promptly by the Government.
British Government’s Purchase
– Is the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) aware that negotiations are in progress between the British Government and the Government of New South Wales for the purchase of rabbits by the former? If so, will he take steps to see that the Commonwealth has full control of the contract, as it has had of former contracts ?
– I do not know the exact particulars of the transaction which I be lieve to have been arranged, though I have been given to understand that a substantial order has been placed with the State Meat Control Committee. I shall investigate the matter, and answer the honorable member’s question next week, when I have obtained the necessary information.
– Will the Acting Prime
Minister consider, before the House meets again, the propriety of making a statement as to the need for calling up 40,000 men for Home Defence, and as to the danger that is said to be menacing Australia? It is necessary that the House should have information on these subjects.
– I hope that the Minister for Defence will be able to give me a statement regarding the calling up of the 40,000 men for Home defence. As to whether the Government is in a position to inform honorable members exactly of the war position of Australia, I cannot say at the present moment. The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) is interested in the same question. I may say, however, that I am not desirous that apprehension shall befelt by the community longer than can be avoided.
– In view of the many complaints about the poor quality of the tobacco obtainable by our boys at the Front, is it not possible for the Defence Department to send Home 10 or 12 tons of tobacco for sale through the canteens ?
– Is the Australian tobacco better than the tobacco they get?
– I know it to be better. That is why I do not want our boys to be compelled to smoke the Statemanufactured French stuff.
– The suggestion of the honorable member will be conveyed to the Minister for Defence through the Honorary Minister (Mr. Wise).
– Some months ago, I addressed a question to the PostmasterGeneral in regard to members of organizations alone securing the benefit of awards made under the Commonwealth (Public Service) Arbitration Act. The honorable gentleman was then good enough to say that he had the matter under consideration. I now desire to know whether he has since passed a regulation, or whether he has one in contemplation, with a view to removing the preference thus granted to members of organizations alone?
– So far as the removal of the provision granting preference to members of a Public Service association is concerned, nothing has been done inthe matter. But something has been done in connexion with another aspect of the question, which is due largely to the character of the law we are operating as compared with the law which applies to arbitration in connexion with outside employment. There has been a tendency in the Department to rope in all the supervising officers - all the men in control of branches - and thus to put them in the position of having to serve two masters. In order to safeguard the interests of the Department and of the public, a regulation has now been passed intimating that these officers will not suffer materially by reason of their not belonging to the union.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral if he is aware of the fact that the Chief Railways Commissioner in New South Wales has made a statement to the effect that the bags in which our mails are being carried are in such a rotten state that they are not strong enough to carry a postage stamp?
– When an honorable member asks a question, I think that he need not libel the officer from whom he obtains the information upon which his question is founded. The Chief Railways Commissioner of New South Wales has not referred to a postage stamp in connexion with the carriage of our mails, and such an exaggeration only evidences the amount of sincerity that is behind the question. In regard to the observation made by that officer in respect of defective mail bags, I say it is inevitable, when thousands of bags are being despatched daily, that some will get into disrepair in the course of transit. If the Railways
Commissioners of the various States will only see that their employees carry mail bags, when they are being transferred from one van to another, instead of dragging them along the platforms, there will be less cause for complaint in regard to defective bags.
-I ask the PostmasterGeneral whether he is aware that mails are being carried in chaff and wheat bags?
– No mails are being carried in chaff bags, but parcels mails are being carried in sacks, that is to say, in wheat sacks. It isbetter to transport them in that way than to carry them as they were formerly carried - in heavy hampers - which cost the country an enormous sum of money.
– I ask the Acting Prime Minister whether the men whoare being called up for home service are being called up for a definite or an indefinite period?
– I think the honorable member will realize that that question is one which is deserving of notice. The Government scheme has been referred to, but notin definite terms of that kind. If the honorable member will give notice of his question, I will obtain an answer to it.
– I ask the Acting Prime Minister, in view of the arrangements which are being made in regard to Australian raw products, whether it is the intention of the Government at an early date to introduce a scientific Protective Tariff for the protection of our secondary industries.
– The honorable member is very fertile to-day in questions which puzzle Ministers. I am not in a position to answer his inquiry offhand, and I will be glad if he will put it upon the notice-paper.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Defence whether his attention has been called to a paragraph in the Barrier
Daily Truth of Tuesday, 23rd April, which reads -
It appears that a Cadet area officerhas wide discretionary powers. Apparently, it rests with him whether defaulting hoy conscripts shall be prosecuted or not. Lieutenant O. L. Davey told Mr. H. Gr. Shaw, S.M., in the Police Court yesterday morning that he (Lieutenant Davey) had informed one unfortunate delinquent that, if he went to the recruiting office and enlisted, a pending prosecution would be withdrawn. The lad, however, refused to enlist. “ I always tell the defaulters,” added the lieutenant, “ that if they enlist I will withdraw the information against them.”
– Order! The honorable member is not strictly in order in founding a question upon a newspaper statement, unless he can vouch for its accuracy.
– I thought that I was in order in doing that.
– The honorable member may refer to a newspaper statement, but he must not read at length from any newspaper in asking a question.
– Then I will content myself with asking if it is with the authority of the Defence Department that Lieutenant Davey, of Broken Hill, informed the Police Magistrate that if a lad charged with a particular offence under our Defence Act would enlist, there would be no prosecution?
– I am not aware of the circumstances of the case to which the honorable member refers, but if he will give notice of his question I will get an answer to it next week.
Attendance of Australian Soldiers
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Consul, and in the course of their duty are sometimes at the Italian Consulate. 2. (a) A lieutenant-colonel and a lieutenant; (b) Pay of a major and a lieutenant; (c) Payment is made by Australia; (d) to coordinate the work of the Department and the Italian Consul in enrolling and embarking Italians who are liable for service.
Repudiation op National War Debt.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Payments in Full to Farmers.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether, in view of the serious financial responsibilities of a number of farmers and wheat-growers, the Government will consider the advisability of paying in full for all wheat taken by it since the establishment of the Wheat Pool?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
The Government have not “ taken “ any wheat. The Commonwealth Government and the Governments of the four wheat-producing States have, in conjunction, during the last three years organized arrangements for the pooling, storage, shipping, and financing of the wheat harvests of Australia.
Owing to the uncertainty of the realization of the Pool, it is impossible to do what the honorable member suggests. In addition, there would be difficulties in financing. An early announcement will be made as to further payments.
– I lay on the table the final report of the Committee on the Causes of Death and Invalidity in the Commonwealth, and move -
That the paper be printed.
– As chairman of the Committee whose final report has just been presented, I should like to say a few words in commendation of the splendid work done by my colleagues. My own position was a sinecure, but I feel that the thanks of Australia are due to the distinguished members of the medical profession who sat on the Committee, for the great work they have performed. They were most assiduous and devoted to their duties, and I was surprised to find that men so eminent in their profession were prepared to devote somuch of their valuable time to this work. From all parts of the world letters in commendation of our reports have been received, and the excellence of the results secured from our inquiries has been emphasized in many quarters. Letters of appreciation have been received from, amongst others, Professor Sir W. Osier, Professor of Medicine at the University of Oxford, and Sir Alfred Keogh, SurgeonGeneral to the British Army. In the Lancet of 21st April, 1917, there appeared a very appreciative article on the report of the Committee upon tuberculosis in Australia, and in the American Survey for 17th November, 1917, there was published an article by Mr. Louis I. Dublin, of the Metropolitan Life Assurance Company, in which it was urged that the United States of America could profit from our experience, and that our reports recounted a remarkable achievement in the community control of disease. The thanks of this Parliament are due to the medical men who constituted this Committee.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear!
– Speaking as a layman,. I think Sir Harry Allen is a marvel, and it would appear that members of the medical profession hold the same view of his capacity. Another member of the Committee was Dr. Cumpston, whose services were of great assistance to us, and whom we should be proud to have in the Federal Service. Dr. Jeffreys Wood was, unfortunately, ill during portion of the time of our deliberations, but he was able to do work of great value. I hope that the people of Australia will appreciate the work of these gentlemen as it has been appreciated in other parts of the world.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Groom) agreed to -
That he have leave to bring in a Bill for an Act to amend the Acts Interpretation Act 1901- 1916.
Debate resumed from 25th April (vide page 4212), on motion by Mr. Joseph Cook -
That the paper be printed.
Upon which Mr. Tudor had moved by way of amendment -
That the following words be added to the motion: - “ but in the opinion of this House the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) and the Minister for the Navy’ (Mr. Joseph Cook) cannot represent Australian public opinion in London, for the following reasons, viz. : -
The speeches of the Prime Minister at and in relation to the Paris Conference ;
The war policy of Ministers which has been emphatically repudiated by two referendums of the Australian people ;
The conduct of public affairs in Australia.”
.- When the debate was adjourned last evening, I had reached that portion of the Ministerial statement of policy in which the shipping proposals of the Government are outlined. I hold that the Government made a mistake in their proposals to the unions with regard to piece-work and the dilution of labour, inasmuch as the shipping requirements of Australia will undoubtedly prove a post-war problem. That is one reason why I object to the action of the Government in seeking to impose certain restrictions upon the unions interested in the ship-building industry. The time has arrived when the Common-‘ wealth should own and control the marine service along the Australian coast. It is just as important that we should have a State-owned marine service as that we should have State control of railways. If there is one question more than another that has troubled the best minds of the world, more particularly in dealing with the matter of high prices, it is the adequate control of the means of transport. We are capable of producing in Australia far more than we have so far done; but we have never been able to properly cope with the problem of providing an effective service as between the producer and the consumer. The proper control of the means of transport is most important. Our experience is that those who own and control our shipping have enormously increased freights, and, by so doing, in many cases have led to the prices for our products being greatly increased. The benefit of these enhanced prices is not enjoyed by the man on the soil, and I think the Government will be compelled before long to take over and control all Inter-State shipping. We have our own Navy, and we could not have a better training ground for the future men and officers of our Navy than would be provided by a Commonwealth-owned Inter-State marine service. A sailor or a marine officer cannot be trained as quickly as you can teach a man to handle a rifle and do the “ goose-step.” Likewise the building of merchant ships will keep our dockyards busy when vessels of waT are not being built, and in that way we will keep in Australia a large body of men well equipped for constructing vessels of destruction should the necessity arise for building them. During the 1914 election, Mr. Fisher, who was then leader of the party to which I belong, advocated very strongly the establishment of a line of Commonwealth-owned steamers, and one thing he spoke of was the urgent need for providing a Commonwealth shipping service to Tasmania, so that the inhabitants of that island might have cheap transport to and from the mainland, not only for their awn produce shipped to Australia, but also for the goods purchased by them on the mainland. The Commonwealth builds railway lines to provide facilities for the public, why should it not build merchant vessels for the same purpose! Those people who have occasion to ship their produce from one State to the other, if they were asked the question, would agree with me that the solution of the InterState transport problem lies with the Commonwealth Parliament. However, as I shall have another opportunity of ventilating this matter, I shall not proceed with it any further at this stage.
I suppose that every honorable member . in this House has been in correspondence with the Defence Department at some time or other on the matter of deferred pay for members of the A.I.F. who have returned to Australia, and been discharged. In some cases returned soldiers have not received their deferred pay until two years after their discharge. I cannot understand how this delay occurs, seeing that in New Zealand, according to information given to me by a returned New Zealand soldier, who has been on a visit to Australia, the deferred pay is seldom delayed for more than two or three months. The soldiers cannot understand how it is that the amount of deferred pay they receive differs so much from the calculations they have made as to the amount which should come to them. No explanation is offered, except it be that which I have heard from one returned soldier. He was in Harefield Hospital, but by the good services of a friend he was able to go to London, and when there he went dawn to Horseferry-road, and asked for his paybook to be made up. He found a number of items in red ink in it, but he assures me that not one of those should have been debited to him, and as he was a pugnacious sort of fellow, he said “damn” in such a loud voice that every one in the office could hear him. One officer approached him, and said, “ Dear f riend, do not make so much noise here “ ; but he replied, “You would make just as much noise if you were robbed.” The officer got quite nervous about it, and left him alone. The man went back to Harefield Hospital, but as soon as he was sufficiently strong he took another trip to London, and went once more to Horseferry-road, and had another “go in” with the Pay Branch there. His persistence and his knowledge that he was right enabled him to get his book made up in such a way that it made a difference of £12 13s. ‘in his deferred pay-
We know that there have been defalcations in the Pay Office - not a great deal has come to light, possibly there has not (been sufficient evidence to enable convictions to be secured, but, in the light of our knowledge, we can quite understand that there might be something similar in regard to the deferred pay; and until the cause of the difficulty is removed, suspicion must lie on those who control the payments. I . have written one or two sharp letters on the matter, but I might just as well be pouring water into Sydney Harbor with the idea of filling it up.
Next week, when I have some time ‘to spare, I shall go down to the Defence Department and see whether or not I can get any satisfaction in regard to the matter.
– The honorable member will have a big job.
– I have had some big jobs in my time. The bigger the job is, the better I like it. If I can get no satisfaction from the Minister. I shall go into the Department itself and kick up a row.
Last night when dealing with the Budget speech delivered by Mr. Bonar Law a few days ago - a speech which every honorable member should study - I omitted to mention that the taxation in Great Britain for war 1 expenditure is 5s. in the £1, whereas in Australia is is not more than ls. in the £1.
– 4Some incomes in the Commonwealth are paying 6s. 3d. in the £1.
– The taxation per inhabitant of Australia for >waT expenditure is not more than ls. in the JE1. The money which we are spending on the waT is derived from war loans, and they cannot last for ever; there is a limitation on out capacity to borrow money in this way. We have just raised £43,000,000, and in September next we are to ask for another £40,000,000. What we have done in the direction of borrowing money for war purposes in Australia is marvellous. Evidently some people are doing well. The honorable member for Grampians (Mr. Jowett), if he would let us into his secrets, could mention some persons who are doing very well indeed. I think every honorable member should give consideration to the fact that, while the war is in progress, something’ more should be contributed from taxation to our war expenditure. Our present method is simply financial muddling, a policy of boom, borrow, and burst. That is a policy which we should abandon, and, as soon as possible, endeavour to make the time to come as easy as practicable for the citizens geneally. I know that a man in my position, who advocates more war taxation, is not likely to become popular; the man who desires to be popular in this House, or in the country> must be a tax dodger, and not one who calls upon the people to assist in placing the finances on a proper footing.
Lord Forrest. - How do you arrive at the conclusion that the war taxation here is only ls. in the £1 ?
– If I had time at my disposal, I should be able to answer the question. I am quite sincere in the opinions I have expressed regarding the finances, which present the most serious question to which we could direct our attention. Only the Government can deal with it; no honorable member has the power to submit a motion here in regard to the finances, which, quite rightly, are in the hands of those who have the control of public affairs. I suggest that a Committee of this House, or some other body, should be instituted to solve the financial problems which now confront us, and, above all, we should meet as much of the war expenditure as possible during the progress of the war. I do not suppose that the Government will keep the House together very long, but I hope they will prove their sincerity in the matter of recruiting, and devise some machinery by which honorable members may be enabled to appeal to the young men of Australia to defend the country we all love so much.
.- I know there is a desire to close the debate shortly, and I shall not detain honorable members more than a few moments. The Ministerial statement contains matter that may be dealt with on a subsequent occasion, when the Budget is before us, and I desire to refer to only one or two items. First, however, I must express the pleasure I feel at the fact that Australia is to be adequately represented at the Imperial Conference. Questions of grave and momentous importance, such as the retention or otherwise of the German possessions in the Pacific, international relations, and the knitting of those bonds which we believe are essential to the future integrity of . the Empire, must be discussed before the time for peace negotiations arrives, and, most appropriately, on such an occasion as that presented by an Imperial Conference.
In the Ministerial statement there are two main departures from ordinary policy as followed by this Parliament. One is the handing over of certain businesses and trading organizations largely to the control of business men from out- side. How far that is a derogation of Ministerial responsibility only time will prove. I counsel Ministers to be very careful how far they relinquish to outside Boards or bodies that responsibility which belongs to them alone, as the representatives of the people. This problem will require very careful handling, otherwise we shall find ourselves governed by extraneous bureaucracies rather than by Parliament through Ministerial responsibility.
As to the Advisory Council of Science, we are told that when in full operation it will probably mean an annual expenditure of £500,000 or £600,000. That, of course, is serious; and I hope that those who form the preliminary Board will consider the line of demarcation between real research work and that experimentation which alone can prove research work to be of any value. There seems to be an idea that we can conduct a great bureau on similar lines to those adopted in the United States of America; but that is impossible under our Constitution. The Commonwealth can do little more than enter upon research work, and leave the results to be proved by experiment, especially in the case of primary production. In the United States of America, Congress owns two-thirds of the land, and is able, in conjunction with the States, to carry Out great experimental works connected with the bureaux of scientific research, and so prove the utility and commercial value of the latter. In Australia, especially in relation to primary industries, we can only be successful by working in conjunction with the States; and I hope the Council will at once place itself in communication with the various State Agricultural Departments, in order to bring about the necessary co-operation. It is in this connexion that we are likely to make a mistake. The States own the land; and I do not think it is possible, even in the case of secondary industries, to prove the value of scientific investigation, unless the Council and the Government take into their confidence the various trade organizations and industries, with a view to the practical testing of the research results. I hope the Government will go slowly in the policy of building up a great Department, which may mean an expenditure of £500,000 or £600,000 per year without any return of practical value.
I am glad to see that the various Pools instituted by the Prime Minister are to be distributed amongst other Ministers. Whether it is advisable to have three Ministers for the purpose of controlling these Pools, in addition to calling in. outside business men to advise, only experience can prove. I hope it will be shown ‘ that the Ministers recently appointed are capable of developing the various Pools in the direction of giving proper representation to the primary producers. So far we have had a Wheat Pool, a Butter Pool, and a Wool Pool. The Wheat Pool has do’ne first class work; and, on behalf of the wheat-growers in a constituency that probably produces more wheat than any other constituency in Australia, I desire to say that they regard the Pool as being the only possible means of handling and financing the wheat during the war. But the trouble is that’ the Wheat Pool has been administered in such a way that it has remained stationary; the Pool brought into existence in the first place is the Wheat Pool we have to-day. The growers’ representation has not been increased as it should have been, and the operations of the Pool have not been given such publicity as would be calculated to increase the confidence of the growers in the handling of their product. Greater publicity ought to be given to the operations of the various Pools, particularly the Wheat Pool. There should be some channel of communication between the Pool, , the growers, and the public of Australia that would keep the people acquainted from day to day with what was being done, and would assure the growers that the business was being managed satisfactorily in the interests of the wheatgrowing industry as a whole. That can be done only by giving the widest possible representation to the growers, and the various other commercial elements interested in the disposal of the wheat. If we are to have a Wheat Pool controlled by the Government on behalf of the growers and financed on the credit of the whole Commonwealth, it is only right that every great interest should be represented. Those who finance the Pool should have some say in the management; indeed, in the interests of the national credit and the people generally, every section of the community that helps to make the Pool a success should have some voice in its control. But the growers who are chiefly interested should be given greater representation, and there should be a more direct channel of communication between the Board, the growers, and the public generally. Statements which have been made at various times have helped perhaps to impair the confidence of the growers in the Wheat Pool. The Advisory Council of the Wheat Board is declared by many growers to be not altogether the kind of Councilthat should have been appointed in order to deal with the wheat. J understand that that Council is composed of men who were formerly in the wheat business, and who, although they are advisers to the Wheat Board, are also contractors under the various State Wheat Boards in connexion with the handling of wheat. It is also stated that they have some say in the disposal of the wheat on the London market. It does notseem right that men who are receivers and contractors under the various State Boards should also be advisers to the Central Wheat Board, and should have any voice in regard to the disposal of the commodity on the London market. This matter calls for investigation, and we should have from the Minister in charge a statement showing that he has inquired into the matter thoroughly, and that there will be some reconstruction of the Board at an early date in order to allay the concern of the growers and insure that confidence in the operation of the Pool which alone can lead to success. I believe the Minister for Trade and Customs, as a business man, should be able, with the advice of the Assistant Ministers, to handle this question efficiently. I had an opportunity of sitting with him on the Commission which investigated the financial position of Tasmania in relation to the. Commonwealth, and which recommended that £1,000,000 should be paid to the State by the Commonwealth Parliament. As chairman of the Commission, he showed that he had a good deal of business ability, and I do not see why he should not be able, with the help of the Assistant Ministers, to arrange a reconstitution of the Board with a view to increasing its efficiency, giving greater representation to the growers, and wider publicity to the operations of the Pool in order to give greater confidence to wheat producers generally.
There is one other matter to which I wish to refer, and I bring it forward because it has been mentioned in the wheatgrowing districts, and published in the press, and because I think it is due to the growers that the matter should be cleared up. The whole success of the Wheat Pool depends on the quantity of freight we can secure to carry our wheat to the markets of the world. Mr. Clement Giles, who is a member of the Central Wheat Board, and consequently occupies an important position in connexion with the Wheat Pool, has stated that, just before the formation of the Pool, and after the Commonwealth had assumed sole control of the chartering of all vessels for the carriage of wheat overseas, 1,000,000 tons of freight waB offered in London to those who were acting as charterers on behalf of the Commonwealth Government, and that offer was refused. Mr. Giles made that statement in my constituency, and it has been brought forward in the South Australian Parliament. This House is entitled to be satisfied that every investigation has been made by the Government into such a direct statement made by a gentleman who holds a responsible position on the Wheat Board. In reference to this matter, I asked the Prime Minister a few days ago -
The Prime Minister replied -
Since that answer was published, Mr. Giles has forwarded to me this letter -
Collins-street, 24th April, 1918.
In reply to Mr. Hughes’ statement that my statement to the farmers at Ouyen, namely, that over 1,000,000 tons of freight had been offered to the Federal Government by the shipowners in London, in 1915, was a falsehood, I beg to state that in August and September of 1915 I was in constant communication with the shipping brokers on the Baltic Wheat Exchange in London-
At about that date Mr. Giles was in London as a representative of the South Australian Farmers’ Co-operative Union, and I was informed that an offer of over 1,000,000 tons of freight had been made at 75s. a ton to the Federal Government and refused. My informant was connected with one of the shipping firms. In January, 1916, I left England, and on my arrival in South Australia, I informed the directors of the South Australian Farmers’ Co-operative Union of the offer and its refusal. 1 was afterwards questioned by Mr. Goode, who was a member of the Wheat Board at the time, about it. He did not in any way deny the fact, and in” answer to questions in the South Australian Parliament, read a letter from Mr. Darling, which stated that it was too early to charter ships. If my statement had not been correct, why did not Mr. Goode deny it, instead of reading a letter giving reasons for not accepting it? As far as I know, though I made the statement in 1916, it has never been denied till Mr. Hughes did so as reported in the Argus of 18th April. I oan, if necessary, give the name of my in- .formant, and I welcome any inquiry into the subject. (Sgd.) Clement Giles.
– It might be prior to the formation of the Wheat Board, which was brought into existence at about the time of the harvest of 1915.
– But it was not prior to the appointment of the eliart ©rs r s
– That is so. They were appointed much earlier - in July or August of 1915 - and it is during that period that Mr. .Giles states that 1,000,000 tons of freight was offered for 75s. per ton to the Commonwealth Government, and refused by them. In view of the fact that Mr. Giles occupies a position as a member of the Central Wheat Board, has made a direct statement, and, in reply to the denial of that statement by the Prime Minister, has written to say that he is prepared to give the name of his informant, I submit that the matter cannot be allowed to rest where it is. It is due to this House and the country that the earliest opportunity should be given for the fullest inquiry into Mr. Giles’ statement, so that the matter may be satisfactorily cleared up. It is of importance, because we were informed .that it was only by pressure brought to bear by the Imperial Government on the shipping companies that it was possible for us to place the wheat we had at that time from the 1915-16 harvest on the markets of the world.
.- The. debate has proceeded upon an amendment submitted to the motion for the printing of the Ministerial statement proposing the addition of words expressing the view that the Prime Minister and the Minister for the Navy cannot represent Australian public opinion in London because of the speeches of the Prime Minister at and in relation to the Paris Conference, the repudiation, at two referendums, of the war policy of the Ministry, and their conduct of public affairs in Australia. I have consistently fought the Prime, Minister ever since he deceived us when the Watson Government were in power. He attended a meeting of ‘the Central Executive of the Trades Hall Council in Melbourne, and was accompanied by Mr. Fisher, who was then Minister for Trade and Customs, the late Senator McGregor, and . the late Mr. Batchelor. At that meeting he informed those present that the Labour executives of New South Wales and Queensland had agreed to give Liberal candidates freedom from opposition if they supported the Watson Government until the end of that Parliament. The assurance he gave us to that effect .was absolutely false, and we were fooled by his trickery into the passing of a resolution, which I either moved or seconded, pledging the Labour party not to oppose at the next election Liberal candidates who were prepared to support the Watson Government. The Prime Minister asked us to keep the matter secret, and he subsequently left for Sydney. He did not tell the Trades Hall Executive in Sydney how he had lied to us, but he pointed to the resolution which we had carried, and informed the Sydney executive that the Victorian executive had agreed that the Labour party should grant immunity to Liberal candidates supporting the Watson Government at the coming election. He asked the Labour -organizations of New South Wales to join with us in the matter, so that we might, at the election, exclude the supporters of Sir George Reid and Mr. Cook. Honorable members may be interested to know that the members of the Sydney “Labour executive were either better Democrats than we were, or knew the Prime Minister better, because they turned the proposal down. The period of secrecy passed, and ten days later we discovered how we had been tricked and deceived, and from that time forth I have never taken the word of the Prime Minister, in Caucus or anywhere else.
– Is there any chance of fixing up the Hume seat again like that?
– The honorable member represents the Hume electorate, and should be content. I should like to have his banking account for a few weeks ; I would make it. hum.
– Would the honorable member make the Hume seat safer with it?
– If the honorable member did for the returned soldiers in his district what I should like him to do, no one but an angel from Heaven could shift him from the Hume seat. I. should like to say that I have never wilfully wronged any man, dead or alive. If I have been shown that I have wronged a man, I have been glad to withdraw any statement I may have made. I remind honorable members that, owing to theinfernal way in which the censorship is exercised, the representatives of the press are not permitted to say that the Prime Minister has left Australia. He is following the very bad example which he set on his last visit to Great Britain, when he imperilled the lives of every man, woman, and child travelling by a mail steamer by saying that he intended to proceed to England in that steamer. On the strength of the statements he made, public receptions were arranged for him at Adelaide and at Albany. He arrived in Sydney and then doubled back, got into a motor launch,climbed on board an American steamer, and went via America to the Old Country. No newspaper dared say that he had done this. His actions placed in jeopardy the lives of every man, woman, and child who left by the mail steamer. Then, how did he slink back to Australia ? Certainly not like a man and the Prime Minister of this Commonwealth. He came back in a transport carrying wounded men. Even the brutal German system, dominated as it is by the cursed Prussian militarism, would scarcely countenance the wilful destruction of a ship carrying wounded men 12,000 miles away from the fighting* line. But the Prime Minister broke international law by crawling back to Australia on a transport carrying wounded men. There isnot a man in this Chamber who will claim that the Prime Minister is a man of his word. No man or woman outside will do so. At none of the big meetingsI have addressed have I found any man or woman prepared to say that he haskept his promises. No parents in Australia would dream of bringing their children up under the same moral code which would justify the” breaking of their word and their pledge. What has the Bulletin to say about this man, who is going to represent Australia at the Imperial Conference? In the issue of the 17th January, speaking of the Prime Minister, the Bulletin says -
There isnot a single word in the long, frothyrigmarole to exculpate either himself or his party from the charge of conduct so base as to be without parallel in the political history of the Commonwealth.
Even if we go to some of the old Latin poets, we have them quoting, “ He who lies is the meanest of mankind.” Ye gods!, Is this the man to represent us people of Australia? What does Carlyle say, in his usual caustic words? -
There is no lie in the long run successful. The hour of all windbags does arrive; every windbag is at length ripped, and collapses.
And so it is. Has not the sun burst on the horizon of Australia, in the West, where there were only three carrying theflag of Labour, whereas they came back over 200 per cent. additionally strong? Rising towards the early morn, have we forgotten what Queensland has taught us with that magnificent victory against all the forces of the powerful press - the money combines, especially the Colonial Sugar Company? Thousands of pounds were spent, but the people of Queensland sent back to power the man who had proved his honesty in London when he was tempted with all the foTce and power of the Northcliffe press, whispering to him that he would be the second man in Australia if only he would support Mr. Hu.gh.es in the malign influence which he came back here to promulgate. But he threw it on one side, and bravely crossed the Atlantic rather than return, as in the case of our Prime Minister, in a transport carrying wounded soldiers. And so comes the noonday, with Adelaide’s Labourites going out, four in number, and returning with increase of 350 per cent. So, too, will the evening arrive, when the Commonwealth Government and the party opposite dare to face the electors. Honorable members were in the House when I offered the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Cook) the chance of putting up a fight in a capital city; or, if not he, then his leader. I made my offer so that they might do that here in Melbourne. And, what is more, if any other Ministers along that bench care to take up the gauntlet, I shall be going to my committee to-morrow night, and I will tell them that I desire again to make this offer. Then let us see if any of these gentlemen will care or dare to accept.
– Yes, here in the capital city, where the Parliament itself is sitting.
– As to that, I wish to the Lord the Commonwealth Parliament was out of Melbourne. I would vote for that to-morrow. I would live five years longer than I shall do if it is not shifted. But the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Tudor) is quite right. To-day Melbourne is the capital - the capital of a country, the only country that has one capital to Tule it; and I hope that that statement has the sincere accord pf this House. I hope, too, that the flag of Australia will fly over this land for all time. Now let us see what Shakspeare has said.
An Honorable Member. - About what ?
– Liars! The fiery Macbeth cursed the juggling fiends -
That keep the word of promise to our ear,
And break it to our hope.
In regard, generally, to’ my remarks today> I have been offered several suggestions by a good Presbyterian. And I may say that there aTe some very bloodthirsty men masquerading amongst us in clerical garb and starched collars - men who do not forget to quote, “ Thou 3halt not kill,” but with respect to whom it would be more appropriate were they to omit the negative and say, “ Thou shalt kill.” I would not mind that so much, either, so long as they were devoting attention to an enemy who was carrying a weapon in his hand. I trust that all good Presbyterians have read the Messenger of 18th January, 1918,. for if that does not contain a strong indictment of the Prime Minister, then, at any rate,’ I have never, seen the like surpassed. I quote the following: -
What causes all this trouble was Mr. Hughes’ deliberate promise that if conscription wore not carried, he and his colleagues would refuse to govern the country. He did resign, and, on the plea that no other Government was available^ - a false plea - he is back in office again, and swallows his solemn pledge with a coolness which is only equalled by Germany’s famous maxim about “ the scrap of paper.” Mr. Hughes is now on a level with BethmannHollweg, and we wish him joy of the company he. has chosen. The members of his Cabinet snare in the glory, for they made the pledge a party pledge, and are accessories both before and after the fact.
Can any one deny that that language is plain and straight? Can any man say that the most deliberate promise ever made from the platforms of Australia was not vilely broken 1 Were there not on that side other men who could have formed a Government ? ‘Surely! But, .with a Governor-General, seeming to obey the merest behests, and who has created precedents in parliamentary procedure that no history of any Parliament in the world can equal, the Prime Minister could do with that gentleman, seemingly, whatever he pleased:
However, my Presbyterian friend proceeds -
Mr. Hughes’ mind is not naturally noble, and he has not had the benefit of a study of great examples or a refined education.
– I suppose the writer of that has had a refined education.
– I believe he is a real good Presbyterian; and if the honorable member will cease from following my bad example and follow that gentleman’s, he will have a chance of getting through the nar row gates more quickly than I can hope to have.
– Your quotations are couched in the language of a man posses-ing a remarkably refined education.
– I should be proud if I could write as well - having the command of such classic allusions. I do not know of any member of this House who could write an article upon any subject as well.chosen in its language for the purpose desired as that from which I am quoting. At least, if I could get hold of one such, written by any gentleman here, I would gladly read it. I will quote further -
The fact is, he was trained in the wrong school, and the rags and tatters of his former principles still cleave to him.
I will finish with the last paragraph -
The press is busy with hints that Mr. Hughes may find some other sphere of labour. We hope so, and trust it will be one in which he has not too much responsibility. And for his present colleagues, we suggest the white sheets and candles of the penitent. If they will purge and live cleanly, if they will yet resign in a body and bc content with the obscurity to which they pledged themselves, they may yet recover their honour and self-respect and do something to brighten a tarnished name.
And, “ not too much responsibility.” On that I desire to pause, because I oertainly connpliment the Liberal party in having insisted that a comrade should accompany Mr. Hughes-one who will take good care of him. I compliment the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Cook) on being the genitor of the Prime Minister. The party opposite did well in not sending the latter right honorable gentleman Home “ upon has little own.” Yes, they have been wise in packing Mr. Cook off to take charge.
– There is a pretty large retinue, besides.
– Thirteen altogether.
– Aye ; and I wonder if we shall ever know how much it will cost. Will any honorable member opposite say that if the people had a chance of voting upon this trip, by way of a referendum, Mr. Hughes and Mr. Cook would have left our shores ?
Was it not blared through the length and breadth, not only of Australia, but of the world, that when the Watson episode occurred our right honorable friend was going to have it out in open Court? Was that done ? And then, when Senator Ready did the disappearing trick, how was that conspiracy thwarted ? What did the Mercury call him?
I accuse the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Cook) with having screened Angliss, a supplier of diseased meat to our unfortunate soldiers. I asked the other day if the attention of the Government had been drawn to a complaint that putrid pork was sold, recently, to an unfortunate woman in South Melbourne. The lick-spittle municipal councillors, when they found that the case was against a wealthy man, issued instructions for the withdrawal of the summons. This matter, however, is going to be brought up again, and I hope, when the time arrives; that the ratepayers of South Melbourne will deal with these lick-spittle municipal representatives who were not manly enough to prosecute a man for selling vile and filthy food. What medical man would willingly eat meat diseased with hydatids such as was served to our troops ? I regret very much that the Minister for the Navy, by his attitude, screened a man guilty of such conduct, and that owing to the difficulty I had in obtaining answers to my questions, a slur was cast upon the Melbourne City Council, the impression being that the diseased meat had left the City Abattoirs. Members of that body did all they could to remove the impression, and the chairman of the Abattoirs Committee wrote several letters to me, denying the charge so far as it relates to the Melbourne Abattoirs, stating that bullocks’ liver is never sent out from those abattoirs for human food. I have no enmity against Mr. Angliss at all, but when friends told me’ that if I dared to speak out publicly on this subject he would take action and make me insolvent, I took up the challenge. I do not say that Mr. Angliss willingly allowed diseased liver to go out from his premises, for just the same reason that while I know honorable members opposite must have money in their pockets I could not prove it. That is the difference between knowledge and proof. What I said was that if Mr. Angliss knew that diseased meat went out from his premises, hanging on the. nearest lamp-post would be too good for him.
– Who threatened the honorable member with insolvency?
– The honorable member must ask somebody else. I have never yet betrayed a confidence, and I never Will.
I will now direct attention to another matter. The following motion has been carried by various meetings at which I have been present -
That, in the opinion of this meeting, in view of the injustice done to Australia by the unconstitutional action of His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, action should be taken in Parliament by motion, and by petition to the King by the citizens of Australia, requesting that the Governor-General be recalled, for the following reasons-
– Order ! I must ask the honorable member not to proceed with that subject.
– Very well, Mr. Speaker, I shall put it on the notice-paper in the usual form. I realize that your ruling is quite correct, and I have no desire to contravene it. Honorable members, however, will have an opportunity of reading the resolution. Australia rejected the conscription proposals of the Government, and I now enter my protest against the action of the Government in placing a military officer at the disposal of the ‘Consul for Italy to arrest those Italian residents who, owing to an unfortunate accident, were born in Italy, and have not become naturalized in Australia. This action is merely an indirect way of conscripting Australian citizens. In my communications with the Italian Consul I have found him to be a highly educated gentleman in every sense of the word. As Consul representing a country that conscripts its men he is, I suppose, obliged to obey instructions; but I protest against Australian soldiers being compelled to carry out the law on his behalf and conscript Italian residents who have not become naturalized iu Australia. These men should have an opportunity of joining our battalions as volunteers. They would then get a fair wage, and would know that their dependants would receive proper treatment. They came here to escape the cursed military system of their own country, and should not be dragged back as conscripts, and.while I will always honour a man who in the richness of his red blood offers to go out to fight for Australia, I would never tolerate the damnable military system which the Prussians have placed upon Germany.
Let us see what this action on the part of the Commonwealth Government may lead to. Suppose England adopted conscription. Would this Commonwealth Government then be expected to drag every Englishman, Scotchman, Welshman, and Irishman out of Australia with Australian soldiers ? If they attempted, to do anything like that I think they would find that they had bitten off more than they could chew. In connexion with the position in Ireland, let me read for the information of honorable members a cablegram which appeared in the Melbourne
Age of the 3rd March, as follows: -
Newspaper correspondents report the countrywide agitation intensifies daily. The Westminster Gazette’s correspondent states : - “ The Ulsterites no longer pretend to support enlistment. A unique spectacle was witnessed at Ballycastle, County Antrim, where Orangemen, Hibernians and Sinn Feiners, wearing the in*signia of their respective organizations, jointly marched in a procession as a protest. The bands alternatively played “Boyne Water” and Nationalist airs. ‘
I deeply regret the position created -by the Conservative oligarchy in England, where only one man in every six is entitled to vote; where the franchise is the most retrograde in the world - not even excepting Turkey, China, and Japan - and where titles are sold in the vilest way.It is reassuring, however, to know that within the last few days a democratic note” has been struck by the report of the Committee appointed to advise on the proposed amendment of the Constitution for the House of Lords. At present no man is allowed to sit for examination for the diplomatic service unless he has £400 a year, free from any claim upon it. Fancy a young man of eighteen with an income of £400 ! Notwithstanding my wide acquaintanceship. I do not know a young man so situated. When, perhaps, by the kindness of his father or some other relative, a young man can claim his possession of a fortune, and sit for examination, his advance must depend on Court favoritism, and the favoritism of people iu the higher ranks of life, perhaps persons of the Mrs. Cornwallis-West type. Vile as is the military system of Germany, it is not so bad as this. I resent strongly the fact that the aristocratic Government of Great Britain did not make an appeal to the Irish race. I speak as the son of an English mother who loved her and loves the country from which she sprang, though hating and loathing its franchise laws. The Irish, like the Celtic Welsh and Scotch, are a generous race. Why have they not been given Home Rule? When they have got Home Rule, it will be, “Well, brothers, come and help us in the fight for liberty. You have joined in that fight in every country to which your people have gone, and you will surely help us against the accursed despotism of Prussia.” If I am any judge of the race from which I am proud to have taken my name, there will be a larger number of men sent to fight under the voluntary system than can be obtained by any method of compulsion. However, an agreement has been made that the amendment should be put to the vote this afternoon, and I shall never willingly break a fair agreement. But I desire, on the moving of the adjournment, to take advantage of the forms of the House to continue my speech. Hansard is now read by thousands, in place of the hundreds who once read it, and I hope that such readers will turn to the adjournment debate for a continuation of my present v remarks. In taking this course I take no unfair advantage. I am willing that a division should be taken now. My speech will not affect the result of that division. In twenty-eight years of political experience I have neveT known a speech in Parliament to convert one member who heard it. I once questioned on the subject that grim old man who used to dominate the Age - would that his spirit were here now, then we should have protection and the referendum - and he could not give me an instance of such a conversion, nor have I met a member of Parliament who could say that he had known’ votes to be changed by a speech in Parliament.
Question - That the words proposed to be added (Mr. Tudor’s amendment) be so added - put. The House divided.
Majority . . . . 18
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Watt) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- Now that the Minister for Recruiting is present, I wish to direct attention to a statement in the Sydney Sun of Saturday,. 20th April, in which, in speaking on the question of insuring the lives of volunteers for active service abroad, he said -
I sincerely hope the policy-holders will adopt the suggestions- referring to certain suggestions which have been made by some of the managers of insurance societies -
Many men are now debarred from enlisting by the circumstances that they arc confronted with the fact of having to leave those dependent upon them inadequately provided for. If thisproposal is generally accepted, it will materially aid our efforts. … I wish the companies every success in theirefforts.
As it is apparent that the Minister recognises that one of the obstacles to enlistment is that the dependants of soldiers are not adequately provided for, will he see that the rates now being paid to recruits are increased to such an extent as to enable them to make the requisite provision ?
– I desire to say a few words in regard to the petition from certain Italian residents of Melbourne, which was presented to this House yesterday by the honorable member for Batman. I believe there are two sections of Italians throughout the Commonwealth. One section is disposed to fall in with the wishes of the Italian Consul, but the other section is not quite so ready to adopt that course. I understand that the difficulty is that a number of reservists are being called up - men who have married in Australia. These men have families dependent upon them, and they affirm that if they leave here to serve under their own colours, their wives and children, who will be left behind, will be entitled only to the allowance that isprovided by the Italian Go- vermnent, which, of course, is wholly inadequate. I think that that allowance is about ls. 4d. per day. I desire to know whether the Government will consent to make up the difference between the amount that is provided by the Italian Government and the allowance that is made to our own troops.
– Does the honorable member refer to the separation allowance or to the pay of our troops ?
– To the separation allowance.
– The Italians get that.
– It is possible that I may have misunderstood my informant. There is, however, some difficulty in the way of these Italian reservists answering the call, and if that difficulty is removed they will be quite willing to leave Australia for the purpose of serving under their own colours. I ask the Acting Prime Minister to give this matter consideration.
– I desire to know from the Acting Prime Minister what will be the order of business for next week?
– Another censure motion.
– I had not the slightest idea that the honorable member for Moreton had been promoted to the position of Acting Prime Minister. I understood that that office was being filled by the honorable member for Balaclava.
– There is keen competition for it.
– It is quite possible that that statement is correct. I wish also to direct the Acting Prime Minister’s attention to the following statement, which appears in the Age of yesterday: -
The Prime Minister, Mr. Hughes, and the
Minister for the Navy, Mr. Cook, who are to represent Australia at the Imperial Conference, which is to he held in London in July next, mct the Coalition party yesterday morning for the last time prior to their departure for Great Britain. Both Ministers explained the object of their mission at some length, and gave expression to their views on the various problems which are to he discussed. The meeting was marked by unanimity of feeling that both Mr. Hughes and Mr. Cook were entirely fitted to speak for the Commonwealth at the Council of the Empire, and the different speakers agreed that they should have a free hand in dealing with the important questions that are to be considered.
I wish to know whether the statements contained in that paragraph are correct? Did the Prime Minister take the members of the Ministerial party into his confidence? In regard to the matter mentioned by the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Bamford), I know that a deputation is waiting on the Minister for Defence this afternoon. I understand that many persons object to Australian soldiers being used for the purpose of handing over Australian citizens to the Italian Consul. They feel that the pay of the Italian soldiers is not sufficient to enable the latter to adequately provide for the wives and families whom they will leave behind in Australia. In the majority of cases, I am informed, these families are very large. I understand that the Italian Government provide the same separation allowance as we do. It is considered however, that unless some additional provision is made these people will be severely handicapped. It is in that respect, I understand, that great anxiety is felt. As a result of the deputation which is going to wait on the Minister, I presume we shall learn- more as to the actual position; but I trust that the Government will go carefully into the whole question, and see that no injustice is done to any section of the community.
.- I desire to direct the attention of the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) to a weakness that I think exists in the control of our overseas exports. The Shipping Board very properly decides the order of preference that shall be given to our exports, and that decision is arrived at upon the advice of the authorities in England, who know best what England and our Allies want. At the beginning of this week I discovered that a certain commodity which is of value for war purposes, but is not so vital to the Allies as are the things to which the Shipping Board is giving priority of export, had congested very materially in: Sydney. The man controlling the bulk of this congested produce did what, on the face of it, seemed to be clever; he chartered a ship, before it had actually arrived, at a high rate of freight to carry his produce to America, where he could obtain for it a ready sale at a very big price. Upon the arrival of the vessel the Shipping Board said that it must carry wheat. The shipmaster replied that his ship was not suitable for the purpose, and the Shipping Board thereupon had her altered so that she could carry wheat. Then the shipmaster said he would not carry wheat at the price offered by the Commonwealth Government. As the ship is not registered here, we have not been able to force her to carry our wheat for the Empire’s use, and the result is that she has been lying idle in Sydney foT three or four months. I suggest that we should make arrangements with the Allied Governments, so that when any ship becomes recalcitrant, so to speak, the Government of the country in which she is registered will come down heavily on the owner or owners, and compel them to observe the Allies’ needs. Unless we do that we shall be wasting our shipping in the most ridiculous way.
– Will the honorable member say what cargo the exporter intended to send away by this vessel?
– It was copra, which has some war value, but which, apparently, is not so urgently required at present as wheat. Because the shipmaster would not take a cargo of wheat, the ship is out of commission. I have written to the Prime Minister, but I understand that my letter has missed him. As the matter is very urgent and might easily be arranged by the Prime Minister during his absence from Australia, I want the Acting Prime Minister to get into touch with the Governments of Canada and the United States, through the proper channels, and to ascertain whether we cannot synchronize the control of shipping
– Is this a Canadian or an American vessel?
– It is a Canadian ship.
– There are four of them.
– No doubt there are a number of ships on the same basis. The Government could not afford to go under to the man who has chartered, since to do so would be to encourage the defeat of their policy. They must deal with the Government of the country in which the ship is registered.
. -I wish to know whether the Minister representing the Minister for Defence has any further information with respect to the question I put to him earlier in the afternoon as to the departure of the Go vernor-General from the saluting base at Parliament House to-day before the arrival of the bulk of the returned soldiers in the Anzac Day procession. I press this question, because I think a very large number of the men must have been greatly disappointed, and perhaps hurt. The feelings of these men, who have battled so strenuously for their country and the Empire, ought to be considered, and it is to be regretted that the arrangements for to-day’s march were not more complete, so that this disappointment could have been avoided.
– I think we are all agreed that in connexion with the procession to-day a most regrettable blunder was made. I stated this afternoon, from something I had heard earlier in the day, that I understood the Returned Soldiers Association had the sole control of the procession. I have since heard something that leads me to believe that the Association was not in charge of the whole procession. I endeavoured to obtain full particulars from the Defence Department, but they have not yet arrived. The matter will be thoroughly sifted, and I shall inform the House fully on this subject next Wednesday.
– As I believe there is a deputation to wait on the Acting Prime Minister with reference to the position of Italian residents who have been called to their country’s colours, I shall not deal at this stage with the general question. I desire, however, to bring before the House a case which is deserving of inquiry. If the facts are as stated, then the officer responsible for them should be punished. On the 18th March last, at 12 noon, two soldiers called at Mr. Frank Boufiglio’s house, 40 Cumberland-place, City, and on being informed by his wife that he was away at work,, they searched the house. Finding that he was not there, they waited outside, one at the front door and the other at the back gate until 5 p.m. In the meantime Mr. Boufiglio was examined at South Melbourne and rejected. On returning home, he found these soldiers at his door, and upon being informed of their purpose, he showed them his papers. These disclosed the fact that he had already been examined and rejected. The soldiers, however, demanded that he should go with them. One soldier, threatening him with his bayonet, said, “ We have been waiting too long for you; and unless you come with us there is this for you.” Mr. Boufiglio went with them to South Melbourne, but it was then too late to see the responsible officer, and he was taken to the Domain Camp, where, after two hours’ detention, he was released.
-That sort of action is quite in keeping with the work of the Defence Department.
– I think it is. I desire now to make the following quota-‘ tion from the Westralian Worker of 12th instant : -
By the troopship which arrived at Fremantle on Tuesday last there came Warrant Officer D. C. McGrath, the Labour member for Ballarat in the House of Representatives, and Private W. Slater, who in his absence at the Front was returned to the Victorian Assembly by the Labourites of the Dundas electorate. Both returned warriors were the guests of the Fremantle branch of the Australian Labour Federation, and shortly after 8 p.m., in front of the town hall, a large crowd gathered in anticipation of hearing them deliver addresses. Mr. W. Roche presided.
The first of the soldier politicians to take the platform was Private Slater, who was proceeding to deal with the question of the abolition of the Upper House, when Captain Guest called upon him to desist, as he was still under military discipline.
Then Warrant Officer McGrath followed, but on his being called upon by Captain Guest to leave the platform,he said - “ I have never broken a military rule, and I am not going to start now.” Long and prolonged cheering greeted McGrath ashe joined his comrade in arms.
Mr. McGrath did not speak, because he had not received his discharge. Many people have wondered why Mr. Ozanne remained silent after his return to Australia, but this incident will serve to show that he, like others, was compelled to do so because he was not free from the control of the Department. Some day, perhaps, the public will learn how badly Mr. Ozanne was treated.
I wish now to refer to the case in which the privileges of Parliament were invaded and offended by the military. You, . Mr. Speaker, did your duty in that case, as every good Liberal would do in such circumstances; but I learn from the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Catts) that his property, seized on that occasion, has not yet beenreturned to him. I take this opportunity of warning those soldiers who did this work, and those who ordered them to do it, that the wheel of change goes round, and that their action will not be forgotten when the public are properly seized of how their liberties were interfered with, and those who, by their votes in this Chamber, supported the action of the military authorities will live to regret the attitude they adopted. A wise old politician, Mr. Duncan Gillies, who swayed the State House in Victoria for many years, once said: “After a long political life, I can say that though honorable members can frequently explain away a speech, a division is a very awkward thing to explain away. Those honorable members who are introducing the system of taking divisions have force be- hind them, though their numbers are few.” I forced many divisions in those days, but through the vista of years since those words were spoken, I have come to agree with him. On page 162, in the notes to Marvell’s Satires, we have the following: -
Marvell gave the following account of the affair in a private letter to Mr. Wm, Ramsden, written, apparently, in February, 1671:- “Sir John Coventry having moved for an imposition on the playhouses, Sir John Birkenhead, to excuse them, said they had been of great service to the King. Upon which Sir John Coventry desired that gentleman to explain whether he meant the men or women players. Hereupon it is imagined that, the House adjourning from Tuesday before till Thursday after Christmas ‘Day, on the very Tuesday night of the adjournment, twenty-five of the Duke of Monmouth’s troop, and some few foot, laid in wait from 10 art night till 2 in the morning by Suffolk-street, and, as he returned from the Cock, where he supped, to his own house, they threw him down, and with a knife cut off almost all the end of his nose: but company coming made them fearful to finish it, so they marched off. Sir Thomas Sandys, lieutenant of the troop, commanded the party, and O’Bryan, the Earl of Inchequin’s son, was a principal actor. The Court hereupon sometimes thought to carry it with a high hand, and question Sir John for his words and maintain the action. Sometimes they flagged in their counsels. However, the King commanded Sir Thomas Clarges and Sir W. Pultney to release Wroth and Lake,who were two of the actors and taken. But the night before the House met they surrounded them again. The House being but sullen tha next day, the Court did not oppose adjourning for some days longer till it was filled. Then the House went upon Coventry’s business and voted that they would go upon nothing else whatever till they had passed a Bill, as they did, for Sandys, O’Bryan, Berry, and Reeves to come in by the loth February, or else be condemned, with provisions to prevent their being pardoned by the King. Any such action in future was made felony, and an attack on a member was to be punished by a year’s imprisonment, treble damages, and incapacity. Sir Thomas Sandys was the very person sent to Clarges and Pultney. O’Bryan was concealed in Monmouth’s lodgings, and Wroth and Lake were bailed by order from the Attorney-General.” Marvell concludes: - “ The Court is at the highest pitch of want and ( ? wanton ) luxury, and the people full of discontent.” . For further particulars see Pepys, and Marvell’s letters to the corporation at Hull for January and February, 1671. Sandys and O’Bryan did not appear, and were accordingly attainted and outlawed.
That is what they did in the English House of Commons. I shall tell the public of Australia, through the press and by means of public meetings, how the property of the honorable member for Cook was robbed, and how the honour and sacredness of this building was interfered with by the military force. Out of the turmoil of the present much good may grow. ‘
Many unjust things have been said about the revolutionary party now in control in Russia, but I glory in the thoughts that the Bolsheviks have uttered. They are equal to those of the Encyclopaedists, whose writings led to the French Revolution. The words of freedom to which they gave expression are now reverberating throughout the world, just as when one throws a pebble into water, the ripples will spread from where the pebble strikes until they reach the banks, no matter how far distant these may be. I resent the discourtesy that has been shown to the man who, as we understand, represents the Bolsheviks. “ Bolshevik is a Russian word meaning “majority.” The Bolsheviks are simply the Russian majority. Kerensky was accepted by Great Britain, and surely those who have destroyed Kerensky - a fact which I greatly . regret - must be more powerful than he was. I fear that the discourtesy shown to the representative of the Bolsheviks comes from the aristocratic backing that every British Government has. I repeat that I glory in the thoughts that have been given utterance to by the Bolsheviks. They are some of the greatest thoughts that have ever come from the lips of men, even from those great philosophers who preceded Christ. We can see permeating them the writings of ‘Tolstoi. These thoughts are causing trouble in Austria, and were it not for the iron power of Prussian despotism that is devastating Europe to-day, they would permeate Germany. I hate and loathe the Prussian military system, and
I hope that, if necessary, the war will be continued until it has been destroyed. When Germany becomes a republic, aa I hope it may, we should be prepared to welcome its people as brothers in the great human race, because by their action they will have removed the cursed power of Kaiserism and Prussian autocracy, which unfortunately rule Prussia, and have let loose in Germany the mad dog of war.
– The honorable member for Cook (Mr. Catts) has read an extract from the Sun of the 20th inst., in which I am reported as saying -
Many men arc now debarred from enlisting by the fact that they are confronted with the fact of having to leave those dependent upon them inadequately provided for.
I am afraid that I did not quite make my meaning clear. The sentence as published should have read -
Many men are now debarred from enlisting by the fact that they are confronted with the fact that they have to ‘leave those dependent on them inadequately provided for in the event of their being unfortunate enough to have to pay the supreme sacrifice.
I was expressing the hope that people who were unable to go to the war, and who held policies in the different insurance companies, would allow the bonuses accruing on those policies to go to the companies in order that men who are going away might have- their lives insured for £200 each. In regard to the suggestion to increase the allowance to dependants, I can only say that that matter does not rest with me
– The honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Bamford) has asked as to the allowances made in connexion with the conscription of Italians. I understand that the Minister concerned has just received a deputation on the matter, and has promised to give the matter consideration, in order to see how far he can increase the amount, in view of the domestic circumstances of the men obliged to go to Italy. As to the action of the Government in this matter, I wish to make it quite plain that what we did was at the request of the Italian authorities, who are our Ally, and we cannot shift from that position. To perform an. act of grace for the dependants of’ someof the men is one thing, and to refuse to- obey the principle of covenants between allied nations is another ; and the Cabinet decided the matter knowing exactly its gravity, and did what it is obliged to do in the true spirit of alliance with an allied people.
– Is it being done at the request of the British Government?
– I do not know haw the telegram came, but I presume it was through the ordinary channel.
As to the business next week, I hope, on Wednesday, to introduce all the Bills in the order in which they appear on the business-paper, starting with what, from some points of view, may ibe regarded as the most important, namely, the Income Tax Assessment Bill.
– Will you go right on with it?
– I hope to give honorable members an opportunity to study it, at least for a day.
– Is it an amending Bill?
– Then will the usual course be adopted, and the measure so prepared as to show the original Act and the amendments proposed?
– That usual course will he followed. The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Tudor) raised the question of Australia’s representation at the Imperial Conference. The honorable gentleman. Tead the following extract from the Age of the 25th inst. : -
The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) and the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Cook), who are to represent Australia at the Imperial Conference, which is to be held in London in July next, met the Coalition party yesterday morning for the last time prior to their departurefor Great Britain-
They did not - they met the Nationalist party.That is the only incorrect word so far; but the extract goes on -
Both Ministers explained the object of their suasion at some length, and gave expressions to their views on the various problems which arc to be discussed–
That statement is wholly incorrect. Neither of the Ministers did so; they were not able to,because they did not know the subjects to be discussed -
The meeting was marked by unanimity of feeling that both Mr. Hughes and Mr. Cook were entirely fitted to speak for the Common- woalth at the Council of Empire, and the different speakers agreed that they should have a free hand in dealing with the important questions that are to be considered.
Every word of that is correct; but the portion which speaks of the Ministers as explaining the object of their mission, is not correct, and is, apparently, the usual newspaper speculation as to what happens at a party meeting.
The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Kelly) dealt with the question of shipping. I am not acquainted with the exact details, hut the Minister in charge will investigate the matter at once. I might say, however, that there is one mistake being made, even in commercial circles; about the right of priority for cargoes.It is not that the shipping trade of Australia has laid down any order of priority in loading, but that the British Shipping Board has requested all supplying nations, including the Dominions, to observe a definite rule of priority; and that applies, not only with respect to goods from here to India or England, but also to other self-governing Dominions, including’ South Africa. The Imperial Government is better aware . than we are of the actual need of the military and civilian populations, and we are closely observing therules laid down for us by the British shipping authorities.
– Does each shipper of a certain class of goods get an equal chance?
– That is one of the functions the Board is designed to perform; and I understand it is proceeding impartially to the consideration of the matter.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.15 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 26 April 1918, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1918/19180426_reps_7_84/>.