7th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (The Hon. W. Elliot Johnson) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Anting Prime Minister if he will have steps taken for the investigation of a statement which has been published in the American press to the effect that 1,800 bales of wool are stored in Australia oh account of Germany ? It is necessary for me to give to the Minister some explanation of the question.
– Does the honorable member wish to make a long statement?
– No. It appears that, in 1915, Germany sought to have arrangements made for the clothing of 5,000,000 of her. soldiers, and that this was being done . through an American company, of whose 36,000 shares 29,095 were said to be held by citizens of the United States of America. The firm obtained admission to the American Textile Alliance upon an affidavit to that effect, hut subsequently the Alliance charged it with conspiracy, and a case has been brought for trial in the Courts of the country. It has transpired in the course of the trial that the agents of the company in various countries were these-
– As the honorable member is making rather a lengthy statement it will be necessary for him to obtain the leave of the House.
– I do not object to leave being given, but I suggest’ a more proper course. If the honorable member will furnish me with the necessary particulars, I shall undertake to have the matter examined at once. .
– I understand that the Acting Prime Minister has no objection to my continuing the statement, and that his suggestion was made under the impression that I would have an opportunity of dealing with the matter later.
– The honorable member may continue only with the leave of the House.
– This is grievance day. The motion to go into Committee of Supply will give the honorable member the opportunity to say what he wishes to say.
– I am unable to wait for that opportunity; I have to go away. .
– The agents of the company are these: -
According to the New York Times, on the 17th March, 1918, in explanation of the letter, which I shall later read -
Mr. Forstmann, whose firm it was shown at Friday’s hearing, shipped hundreds of. thousands of dollars’ worth of wool into Germany, said that “ All of our mail in those days was being intercepted,” and that he was for that reason “ anxious to guard against any business interrupted.” Mr. Forstmann’ admitted that the Forstmann-Huffman Company has more than 1,800 bales of wool stored in Australia, but said none of it was intended for German consumption.
The letter to which he referred was as follows : - 30th January. 1915. (Deutsche Rank, per illegible signatnre to Schmidt.)
Without referring to our ordinary correspondence, I should like to tell you to-day that I had several visits from Herr Trade Councillor Stoehr, who has been here for more than two weeks. As appears from theseveral conversations with him,he seems to have learned of the wool transactions which you have effected both for Forstmann and Huffman, and for the friends of these gentlemen in Cape and Australian wools, and he did everything he could to induce me to take part for the bank in wool for his own account, to the extent of about ten to twenty million marks, or to participate in a syndicate to be formed for this purpose.
Naturally I listened to his proposals with the greatest attention, but I told him at once that we would not like to give up the impartial position which we had hitherto taken with reference to the rest of our customers, this position being evidenced by the fact that we limit ourselves to the financing of such transactions. Meanwhile, heseems to have succeeded as a result of influence exerted by him in the proper quarters in getting orders, or, at least, prospective orders, of considerable size for governmental authorities, and with this in view he has arranged that his son Hans, who is at the time at the Front, shall be granted leave to be able to go to America for the proper execution of these transactions intrusted to him. This young Mr. Stoehr was here a few days ago in company with his father. . . .
Young Mr. Stoehr is now to try to purchase suitable quantities of Cape and also, Australian wool over there in order to ship them here later at ‘ a suitable time, as American domestic wool, with the manufacture and preparation necessary for the purpose.
Apparently there has been a conspiracy to ship wool to Germany. The statement was made in the United States Law Courts that a German army officer, obtaining leave from the German army, visited the United States, and it is suggested . that he alao visited Australia, and bought wool here, and that now 1,800 bales is stored in Australia on account of a German firm which was endeavouring to’ arrange for the clothing of 5,000,000 German soldiers.
– He cannot get the wool to Germany now. He was hoping to send it there via America.
– But if there are 1,800 bales of wool stored -in the Commonwealth on account of a German firm it ought to be released at once to enable Australian women to get wool for the purpose of knitting socks for soldiers.
– But this is raw wool.
– Then we should endeavour to have it treated in such- a way that it can bc used. I have no doubt that the matter having been brought under his notice, the Acting Prime Minister will take steps to have it thoroughly sifted in order to discover if there is any wool stored in Australia on behalf of a German firm.
– I shall do so without de lay.
– Has the Honorary Minister (Mr. Greene) seen the report of Major Purcell’s remarks concerning the purchase of cornsacks and woolpacks by the Commonwealth ?
– I have seen his statement. I ‘ have noticed, too, that Major Purcell has said that the British Government has purchased the whole of our wheat crop for three years. If his information on the jute question is as inaccurate as his statement on , the wheat question, we cannot pay much attention to what he says on the subject.
– Some weeks ago, I asked if it is the intention of the Government to take steps to give representation on the Shipping Board to traders and the public. The Minister for the Navy promised to bring the matter under the notice of the Prime Minister. Unfortunately, I have had to absent myself from the sittings of the House for some time, and I therefore now ask the Minister controlling the Shipping Board if steps have been taken to deal with the matter.
– The matter is under the consideration of the Acting Prime Minister. No decision has yet been arrived at.
– Will the Govern ment take . the widest steps possible to demonstrate to the farmers in the country the great disparity in values between the Argentine sack and the Australian cornsack, the. Argentine sack being in reality a bran bag, and altogether unsuitable for wheat?
– I shall be pleased to bring the matter under the notice of the Minister in charge of the Wheat Pool (Senator Russell), and ask him to advise the -wheat-growers that the Argentine sack is altogether unsuitable for Australian purposes.
Lithgow Small Arms Factory: Unemployed Munition Workers.
-I have received from the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Nicholls) a letter intimating that he desires to move the adjournment of the House to discuss a matter of urgent public importance, namely, “ the condition of affairs existing in the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow, and the general con-, dition of the members of the Small Arms Factory and munition workers of Australia.”
Five honorable, members having risen in their places,
– I have made previous endeavours to have the men who were dismissed from the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow reinstated, and other honorable members on this side also have worked energetically to that end, but the position to-day is as it was four or five weeks ago. It would be no exaggeration to say that between 600 and 700 men are unemployed through no fault of their own. Had those men struck, or done something else to incur the displeasure of the management, the present situation might be more easily understood; but when a large number of men have been compelled to leave work through no fault of their own, it is strange that the Defence Department should take no action to have them reinstated. The reason given for not reengaging these men was that three of the six barrel-setters had ceased work. Immediately those three men left the Factory on a Friday their unions were consulted, and they ordered them to return to work. On Monday the barrel-setters presented themselves for re-employment, but were told by the management that they were not required. A little time later the union decided not to take up the case of those men, and, as a result, two other men were asked by the management to return to the Factory and take up the work of the dismissed barrel-setters, on the promise that immediately that was done all hands who were out of employment would be re-engaged. That was a fortnight ago, but between 600 and 700 men are still idle. I do not know whether the Defence Department intends to permit those men to roam the streets and starve or to reemploy them. I have letters from the secretaries of the Lithgow Small Arms Factory Employees Union and the Amalgamated Australian Society of Engineers, asking that the fullest inquiry be made into their case. The management of the Factory has engaged men who only recently went to Lithgow’ in the place of former employees who had worked at tha Factory for over six years. At the recent Recruiting Conference the matter of economic conscription was discussed. I propose to make one or two references to the report of the Conference proceedings, with the object of showing to what extent the incidents happening at the Small Arms Factory at the present moment are in conformity with the decisions arrived at by the Conference. I find that the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) said at the Conference -
I come now to Mr. Tudor’s proposals as they were presented to the Conference. His first proposition reads, “ That there should be a definite pronouncement by the Government that conscription has been finally abandoned.” Upon that point we are of the opinion that the statement which I made at the Agricultural Show luncheon, Sydney, is sufficiently clear, explicit, and unambiguous. If members do not regard it in that light I ask them to say exactly where it falls short, and I shall endeavour to meet their objections. The second proposal put forward by Mr. Tudor was “That there should be no economic conscription in public or private employ.” The Government are prepared to accept that.
The Government and the Conference were prepared to agree that there should be no economic conscription in public or private employment. Further on in the report, proposals made by the Leader of the Opposition are set out, and among them is- the following : -
Proposal No. 2. That there should be no economic conscription in public or private employment.
The Government’s reply to that proposition is -
Accept. “Public employment” includes employment at the Small Arms Factory or any other munition works in Australia. But in the Small Arms Factory to-day a system of economic conscription is in operation. If that were not so, why should married men, with five or six children dependent upon them, be thrown out of employment for ten weeks, and have to walk the streets in fruitless search of work. If that is not economic conscription, I do not know what is.
I have here a letter from the Secretary of the Amalgamated ‘Society of Engineers at Lithgow, dealing with various phases of this question. In this letter he states that the management promised the men that immediately the two barrel-setters - the Messrs. Overton - went back to work the whole of the men would be reemployed. The two bar rel -setters have been back for practically two weeks, but there is no move on the part of the Defence Department to take back one of these men.
– What reason does the Department give for its attitude?
– Thechief reason is that they do not intend to employ any one eligible for active service. It would seem that they intend to economically conscript even married men, with families of five and six children to support. The secretary pf the Amalgamated Society of Engineers also states that -
There is onemore glaring case I would like you to have and that is S. Sanders, late secretary to P.L.L. here. Sanders was sent for three days after the trouble commenced, and worked about three weeks. The manager then told him that he would have to go off as he was going to put a returned man on the job..
Had he been a single man, I do not suppose the action of the Department would have been questioned, but it is set out in this letter that Sanders explained that he was a married man, and a reject, and that he had only two brothers, both of whom were at the Front. Those facts, apparently, carried no weight with the Department. The management decided to dispense with the services of this man because he was an active member of the local branch of the Political Labour League, and took an active part in the anti-conscription campaign, as well as in politics generally. That is why he was not permitted to return to work.
– It cannot be both economic conscription and victimization.
– It can be. In this letter the names of two other workmen are mentioned. One is a married man, who had been in the employ of the Defence Department for six years. He has six children, and is in poor circumstances. When he applied for re-employment, he was told there was no work for him; yet a new arrival in the town was permitted to take up his job. The third case is that of a man with three children, who had been, in the employ of the Department for three years. When he asked for re-employment at the Factory he was told there was none for him. His position has been filled by a man who but recently arrived in the town.
– Were these two recent arrivals returned soldiers?
– I do not know. The position I take up is that, war or no war, a civilian with a wife and family to support must have his interests safeguarded just as the interests of a returned soldier must be looked after. The Department itself should make provision for our returned soldiers without dumping them into the jobs of other men who have large families to maintain. If the honorable member for Illawarra (Mr. Lamond) thinks otherwise, ‘ then the Small Arms Factory will not be in existence at Lithgow much longer.
– I hope it will be.
– We shall have it at Canberra before long.
– That is not likely. If the Government desire that the Small Arms Factory shall be conducted as a factory ought to be, then they should give the employees reasonable conditions, and see that they are not unduly harassed. ,
The Treasurer recently made an earnest appeal to every Austraiian to contribute as much as possible to the war loan. As the result of that appeal many of these men who have been walking the streets of Lithgow for ten weeks put practically the whole of their savings into the war loan before they lost their employment. Today they are at the mercy of those who see fit to look after their wants. Is it fair that the Government should take the contributions of these men to the war loan and then prevent their re-employment in the Factory, particularly when, as in many cases, they have large families to support? All sorts of misleading misrepresentations were made by the Defence Department and by the Manager of the Factory in regard to the re-employment of these men, with the result that they were led to believe that they would be put on once more. .About five weeks ago the men. approached the management, .and also the Department, for a list of those who were not to be re-employed. The list was not forthcoming until two or three days ago, when it was handed to the secretary to the local union. Up to that time every man who had been victimized was .living in hope of his re-employment, but they now find, after walking the streets for ten weeks, that they are not required by the Defence Department.
– And yet the Government say there shall be no victimization,*.
– Quite so. On 27th April last there were 950 Small Arms Factory men out of work. A comparatively small section was employed in the industry, despite the fact that rifles then were just as essential to the winning of the war as they were twelve months ago. As a matter of fact, a supply of rifles is more essential to-day than ever. But the Government do not, seem’ to have given any consideration to that point. It is a very debatable question whether the output of rifles to-day is as large as it was twelve months ago.
I tried yesterday to get into touch with the- Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce), but was unable to do so. I was referred to his Chief Clerk, and from the Chief Clerk to another officer, but neither could give me the information I desired. This morning I again endeavoured to get into communication with the Minister of Defence, so that it might not be necessary for me to submit this motion, but I was unable to do so. I was referred again to the Chief Clerk.- Whether he is an authority as to the conditions existing at the Small Arms Factory or not I do not know. I telegraphed to the Minister when the trouble commenced and asked him to visit Lithgow and interview the men, but he replied that he could not spare the time. When I found that the trouble was spreading I again sent him an urgent telegram, but again he replied that he could not go to Lithgow. I received no reply to a third telegram which I sent. Apparently the Minister treated it with a certain amount of contempt. The people for whom I am speaking are not of that class of disloyalists or members of the Industrial Workers of the World who are so much spoken about; they are reputable citizens, and they are entitled to the most serious consideration from the Government. It is a very fine thing for those who are in receipt of Ministerial salaries to sit down and enjoy the luxuries of life while poor workmen are compelled to* tramp the streets of the country in search of work, because they happen to be unemployed through having, fallen in with the suggestion made by one or two individuals. That is the position as I see it.
A considerable time ago I approached the Treasurer (Mr. Watt), thinking possibly that he might be able to assist in the matter, but no result was forthcoming. Everything that it has been possible to do has been done in order to get the men back to work, but the Government have simply sat down and allowed the management of the Factory and the Minister for Defence to treat the men in a most inhumane manner. The Minister received a deputation from Lithgow in connexion with the dispute, but, as he decided that it should be conducted under the provisions of the War Precautions Act, no one knows what happened; no one has been given the opportunity to probe into the pros and cons of the conference between the Minister and the deputation, and no one knows exactly what offer or what suggestions the Minister made. Recently the men have had to consider their financial position. They find that they cannot possibly hold out any longer unless the Government gives them the assurance that they will be permitted to return to work. A great number of the men have invested all their spare capital in the war loans. It does not seem to be the correct attitude for the Government to take up to sit idly by and to permit decent, respectable citizens to go . about practically in a state of starvation. It is riot the way to get recruits. These men are in communication with others throughout the State of New South Wales, and put their grievances before them in no unmistakable manner. I want an assurance from the Minister representing the Minister for Defence that he will, within the next day or two, give serious consideration to the position of the men, and give them employment as soon as it is available for them. If he cannot employ the single men, let him give some work to the married man who have families, or, if there is no work available, let him compensate the men in some form. I understand that those employees whose services are to be dispensed with have received notice from the management of the Factory that there are to be given a week’s pay in lieu of a week’s notice. After these men have been starving for ten weeks, a week’s pay does not seem to be a very adequate manner of compensating them.
– The Government should find work for the men.
– The Government will have to do something for them. The men are not going to lie down in the streets and die from ‘ starvation. The Minister for Defence knows perfectly well how difficult it is for any man to get employment at the present time, and how difficult it is for men who have been out of work for ten weeks, and have families dependent on them, to travel through the country in search of employment.
– What reason was given for putting these men off ?
– Three barrel-setters ceased work because they, wanted better conditions and higher pay, and it necessarily followed that a certain section of the men employed in the Factory automatically went off, because there was no work for them. It was said at first that six barrel-setters were required to keep the work of the Factory going. With three of those men not working, it meant that half of the hands could not be employed. Later on, however, it was discovered that three barrel-setters- could do all the work required. These three men are earning approximately £25 each per week. The manager told the men that when the complement of barrel-setters returned to work the whole of the men would be reemployed, but when the men went back to the Factory seeking re-employment they were told that they were no longer required. That is why a large number of these men are not working. The other day the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews) asked -
Has the Minister issued any order requesting his officials in the various Departments under his control to draw up lists of men who are of eligible military age?
The reply was -
Yes. This was done at the request of the State Recruiting Committee. .
If the State Recruiting Committee is to be permitted to go into the various industrial establishments of the Commonwealth and compel the management of any particular establishment to draw up a list of eligibles and give notice to every man whose name is on that list, we shall have economic conscription in force. That is what is happening in theSmall Arms Factory. The Minister for Defence states quite openly that he will not employ a single man of military age. Furthermore, he is preventing men who are not of military age, who have reject certificates, and have families - dependent upon them, from securing employment.
– What has become of the pledges given by the Government at the Governor-General’s Recruiting Conference ?
-The pledge given at that Conference was something similar to the pledge given to the people after the first conscription, referendum, and is being treated in exactly the same way. It is easy for the Government to say that they will not introduce conscription, when the very next day they ask employers to do it for them.’ That is exactly what is happening at the Small Arms Factory.
– The men struck first.
-I have already stated how the men left their work, and how, after the unions had held meetings on the Saturday morning and on the Sunday, they were instructed to return to work. On the Monday morning they presented themselves at the ‘office, but the management would not employ them, despite the fact that rifles were required. This resulted in the whole of the other men being thrown idle.
– These men, and not the Government, were the original cause of the trouble.
– Those men, who are said to be the original cause of the trouble, were put outside the gates by their respective unions, and allowed to find employment elsewhere, but the other thousand men are now paying the penalty of starvation. ‘
– Can they not get work elsewhere ?
– If the honorable member were thrown out of employment to-morrow morning - and there is a great possibility of that occurring in the near future - on what occupation would he concentrate his attention?
– I would find a job’ in twenty-four hours.
– I know the sort of fix in which a great number of honorable members would find themselves under the circumstances, especially if they were absolutely without money, and obliged to travel a number of miles to find work.
– The New South Wales Government could take these men to where there is work for them. ‘
– Would the honorable member assure me that the New South Wales Government will find employment for 650 men?
– The New South Wales Government could put them in the way of getting work.
– These men are accustomed to a particular class of indoor work, and it cannot be supposed that they could take up outside work of quite another kind.
-They would do it rather than starve.
– A man accustomed to the lathe cannot readily take up the pick and shovel, though, of course, some might be able to do so. The Government’s desire, in the case of this factory, is to make every eligible man, whether married or single, fight against his will. A system of economic starvation is being introduced, under which the men, whether they have families or not, will have to enlist.
– There is no starvation in this country.
– I could cite scores and scores of cases of direct starvation owing to men being thrown out of employment by unscrupulous employers.
– How many men are there employed at the factory now ?
– I should say there are 600 or 700.’
– How many of those were previously employed at the factory?
– Quite a number, though I cannot give the exact figure.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
– This trouble has been going on before I entered the Department, and I was not personally acquainted with all the details. After the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Nicholls) gave me notice, about 12 o’clock to-day, that he intended to move the adjournment of the House, I obtained the following statement from the Department-
There has been a considerable amount of trouble at Lithgow in connexion with the barrel-setters, whose business is to straighten barrels after they have been, machined. This is an operation which requires some expertness of eye, and so far no machine has been devised which, can effectively do the work. It takes some little time to learn, and has always been regarded as more or less of a trade secret. Previous difficulties with these men have been in regard to wages. Exorbitant rates have been demanded, and were resisted for a time, but ultimately the Department had to give way, so that the output of rifles would not be disturbed. To overcome the difficulty, arrangements wore made with the High Commissioner whereby eight (8) unfit members ‘of the Australian Imperial Force were sent to Enfield for training in barrel-setting. Four of these men have since arrived in Australia. Contrary to expectations, these returned soldiers, instead of supporting the Department in its difficulties, immediately took sides with the malcontents at Lithgow, and even demanded higher wages than the . original men thought of. At one time their demand was for wages of £12 12s. per week. Of the four- (4) returned soldiers, one has since been discharged for insubordination and neglect of duty. He was tolerated as long as possible, . but, as stated, was at last dismissed. One, after his return to Australia, asked permission to return to his private business. This was granted, as, at that time, the factory was fully staffed with barrel-setters, . and, in fact, there were one or two surplus to requirements. This man gave an undertaking that he would be available if his services were required in case of emergency. He has since been sent for, but has not yet reported whether he will fulfil his undertaking. Of the two men remaining, one has remained loyal, and is at present working at the factory, and the other is on strike. The other four men of those originally trained were allowed to remain in England at the express wish of the Ministry of Munitions, the idea being that, as the men’s demands had been conceded here, these men would not be required for the moment; and they would probably become all the more efficient when the time came for them to return to Australia. As a precautionary measure, steps have been taken for twenty more to be trained in this barrelsetting, but their services will not he available for some time yet. The immediate trouble at Lithgow is that four of the six men now employed there object to the Department inspecting their work. It is the principle in all military manufactures that work should be inspected and passed by independent inspectors. In most cases these are not responsible to the manager, but directly to the military authorities in Melbourne. This is the case at Lithgow; the military authorities have their inspectors there, and all work at certain stages is submitted to them for examination and acceptance. These men, for ‘ some reason or another - probably because their work was being paid for according to the numbers of barrels passed by the inspectors - objected to this inspection. Apparently they claimed the right themselves to determine whether their work was accurate or otherwise. Obviously this could not be tolerated. Four of the men left work without notice, leaving two to carry on, one being returned soldier Frith, and the other A. Overton, father of two of those who have struck work. Overton is a most skilful barrel-setter, and if he remains loyal there is little doubt that he frill be able to teach others to do the work. It will take some months, however, before they become any way expert. Overton and Frith, the loyal returned soldier, should be able to cope with a fair amount of work, and if the other returned soldier who is now being taught, together with a fourth man who was employed on this work at Lithgow, but lias since left, can be traced, the Department should soon be able to overcome the difficulty. A further satisfactory feature is that Mr. Bors, who specially studied this matter of barrel-setting during “his visit to England, is en route to Australia. When he arrives, there is no doubt his services Will be available.
When the manager, Mr. McKay, reported that these men had left work, he stated that he proposed to discharge them and make an effort to overcome the difficulty. He stated that it would be necessary to lay off a considerable number of men for the time being, the reason being that, as the factory is balanced in every part, any disruption’ of one process, especially such a one as this, the only one in the factory which depends on skill of individuals, involves the remainder. Some of the men could be continued in work, but sooner or later they would have to be laid off to await the time when the barrels would catch up. It is better, therefore, to stop the whole of the manufacturing section until the difficulty can be overcome. This is what is being done. There is no dispute with the great majority of the employees, and as soon as barrels are forthcoming, they will be taken on again. It is probable- that opportunity will be taken now to abolish the night shift and give effect to the Prime Minister’s announcement that preference of employment would be given to returned soldiers in the Government establishments. There is a considerable number of eligibles employed at the Small Arms Factory, and while it has been difficult to obtain returned soldiers to take their places, it is considered that by the abolition of the double - shift a considerable number of them can be disposed of. The reason for the abolition of the double shift is that only 260 men are employed at night now, and whether or not they ,are engaged does not have much effect on the output of rifles. Over 1,000 men are employed on the day shift, and these, together with the new machinery which has now been installed, will, it is anticipated by Mr. McKay, keep up the output which has been attained within recent months, namely, 900 rifles per week. This second shift at present is more or less an expense to the factory, and as’ the supplies of rifles in Australia are ample, there does not seem to be any good purpose served by its maintenance. The supply ‘of rifles at present is nearly as great as it was when war broke out. The manager has been asked for a report as to the position at the moment. It is proposed, however, to leave the matter in his hands.
It is greatly to be regretted that the honorable member has attempted to read into what has occurred the introduction of economic conscription.
– It is most improper.
– It is. No attempt has been made to introduce economic conscription.
– One of the statements that has been read is absolutely false.
– Some may say that they are surprised that this debate should arise so soon after the Conference that was called by the Governor-General, but I am not a bit surprised. At the time, the Labour movement thought that the Conference would be useless. My respected Leader said that he would attend it, and he was told that he would be a fool for his pains. The political section of the Labour movement in Victoria sent a representative, an ex-member of this House, but the industrial sections of all the States refused to be represented, saying that it would be useless, because economic conscription would continue, as in the past, and it looks now as though they were right. An attempt is being made, to apply economic conscription, not only at the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow, but to all the munition workers in Australia. Yesterday, I asked the Minister this question -
Has the Minister issued an order requesting the head officials in the various Departments under his control to draw up a list ‘of men who are of the eligible military age?
The reply was “ Yes, this was done at the request of the State Recruiting Committee.” I also asked -
If so- (a) Is it the intention of the Minister to dismiss from the Defence Department the men whose names appear on such lists t (ft) _ Will he obtain particulars as to the family responsibilities in each case?
To that, the reply was given -
No special action is contemplated other than the recently announced policy in regard to employment of eligibles in Government Departments, and also to give the State Recruiting Committee an opportunity of canvassing eligibles for recruits for the Australian Imperial Force.
The Minister does not say whether he will ascertain in each case what the family responsibilities are. The Conference called by the Governor-General was intended to clear the air, so that more recruits might be obtained under the voluntary system. I -have said, both here and outside, that, had it not been for the foolish (interference with /. voluntarism which took place, there would have been no need to try conscription. Now an attempt is being made at economic conscription. Let rae read the reply of the Department to a letter sent to the Minister for Defence by my Leader. It is’ this - 1st May, 1018.
I am in receipt of your letter of 30th ultimo making representations in regard to the termination of employment of Messrs. Goldie, O’Connor, and Flynn, and have to inform you that, in pursuance of the policy of. the Government, tho work formerly carried out by these men is being performed by returned soldiers.
It is regretted that they cannot be found . employment elsewhere.
The three men whose names are given were employed by the Defence Department as viewers of the ammunition supplied by the Colonial Ammunition Company, two of them being married, with a family of four each. On the 30th April, they were notified that their services would be dispensed with, and representations on’ their behalf were made to the officer in charge. They have been thrown out of employment to enable returned soldiers to be put in their places. There are limitations to this sort of thing. Every one is agreed that returned soldiers should be placed, and given the means of earning a livelihood, but surely the Government is not so poverty-stricken in invention that it cannot find ways of employing returned men to the advantage of the country without displacing others. Mr. Lockyer’s scheme of repatriation seems to me comprehensive. When immigrants were being brought “from the Old Country, Australians’ were dismissed to find them employment, so that they might not write complaining letters to their friends, but after six or twelve months the earlier immigrants were dismissed, to find work for later arrivals. This system discredited the immigration movement. The Government is acting in a similar way in regard to returned soldiers. Ministers are riding for a fall ; but some other policy will have to be carried out. The names and ages of the employees at the Cordite Factory are to be taken, and the members of a recruiting committee are to attend and inquire why the eligibles there have hot enlisted.. We are not told what will happen- after the inquiry, but we know that three men have already been dismissed Co find places for returned soldiers. There is no other name but economic conscription for that. The Prime Minister before he left - he should not have been allowed to go, because he cannot represent Australia - said that conscription had been abandoned for ever, and that there would be no victimization and no economic conscription. The case to which I have referred, if it is not one of victimization, is one of economic conscription. The Government can go too far in this line of action. The soldiers themselves will resent the charge that men with family responsibilities are being thrown out of employment to find work for them.- There should be no need forthat. The Repatriation Department should discover occupations for our returned men. That is the reason for its existence. We said that the Win-the-war party would act in the way that it is now acting, though its members denied that they would. If others in the Cordite Factory are treated as the three men whose names have been mentioned have been treated, will any one say that they are not being put off to force them to enlist? At the Lithgow Small Arms Factory the Minister, after refusing to do anything, agreed to the holding of an inquiry, which was conducted .under the War Precautions Act, the witnesses being bound to secrecy. The “finding which has been read by the Honorary Minister (Mr. Wise) to-day is not based oh the evidence, but that evidence cannot be produced, because it was given secretly. The report that has been read lies, like all the reports from the Defence Department. We were told that the Department was the best run Department in the world, until an examination o’f its accounts showed a shortage of millions of pounds. No reports from that Department can. be believed.
– Then why is time wasted in asking us questions concerning the administration of the Department?
– I do- not blame the Minister personally, though I say that it is the duty of Ministers to get down to the facts, and not to be content with the reports of the Department. Why should men who are out of work be penalized for what is not their fault? The union did all they could to keep the factory going, but’ certain men went -out in spite of them, and were expelled in consequence. Now it looks as if the Government waa in collusion with the barrel-setters, to victimize others. These barrel-setters make a large amount of money. The Minister said that he was surprised when the four men who had been sent to Great Britain to learn the business acted disloyally towards the Government ; but it looks to me as if there had been engineering to get them out. The Department should see that there is no victimization. At one time 300 persons were employed at Lithgow, most of whom were under eighteen years of age.
– And how many strikes have there been there within a given time ?
– That horrible member for Echuca again - the man with the small mind and the small body ! The returned soldiers, when asked to join the union there, say, “ No; we have been instructed not to join ‘ unions, because in going to the war, we joined the one grand union.” That is proof that the Government, or some one connected with the Departments, is trying to break up the unions. I do not expect members to admit it, but when lying awake in the early hours of the morning their consciences may lead them into agreement with me on the subject. Does the Government intend to keep its promise that there shall be no economic conscription; no conscription in any form, and no victimization? I have waited some weeks to see the outcome of the promise that was made. I should like to ask the Governor-General a question, but apparently ‘he and I are not on speaking terms.
– Order! It” is not in order to introduce the name of the Governor-General in debate” in that way.
– Very well. I shall talk about the Conference which was brought into existence by a certain gentleman for a definite purpose. The Government are showing no desire to carry out the resolutions of that Conference. If they intend to continue their present course of action, we shall have to advertise wider than we have in the past what the Government are trying to do with the people of Australia. I know the Government are looking about in a spiteful way to arrest somebody under the War Precautions Act. Somebody will have to take that risk. If the Government are looking for some victim it is their duty to tell us so. If they intend to force men out of employment-
– It is very easy to make statements without backing them up with proof.
– I ask the Minister to back up his statement with proof. If we ask the Defence Department to lay on the table papers dealing with a particular matter, we are told that for military reasons that cannot be done.
– The honorable member’stime has expired.
.- I consider this a very important matter, and the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Nicholls) was perfectly justified in bringing it under the notice of the House. I was surprised to hear that so many men are out of employment at Lithgow through no fault of their own. The Minister in his statement admitted that no dispute existed between the Department and the men, and that their unemployment was in consequence of a few barrel-setters refusing to work. If that is the case the 900 men who are unemployed are entitled to the sympathy of every honorable member. The men are not on strike; it is well that honorable members should understand that these men have been denied work in consequence of the action of the barrel-setters.
– Are the barrel-setters in the same union as the other men?
– Yes, and they wera expelled for striking.
– The barrel-setters received no sympathy from their fellow employees, but in consequence of their action these other men are compelled by the Government to remain in idleness. I ask the House what view will be taken of the action of the Government by the industrial workers throughout the Commonwealth, once they understand that recognised employees, of the Commonwealth who are not on strike, but are idle through the actions of certain indi viduals, are denied employment. The Minister for Defence has said that this has been found an opportune time to dispense with the second shift, which is not required, because the factory can produce sufficient rifles in one shift with the additional machinery which is being installed. The Minister has said, also, that the time is suitable to give effect to Hie policy of the Department to employ returned soldiers in this work. I, too, desire to see returned soldiers employed, but I do not think that the policy of dispensing with the services of married men with families, in order to give preference to returned men, will find favour with them or with the public at large. A number of men who were not at Lithgow prior to this trouble have recently been engaged at the factory, whilst hundreds of former employees have been out of work for ten weeks. Everybody can Understand what must be the indigent circumstances of working men who have been unemployed fbr ten weeks, especially when they have to pay rent.1 Butalthough the other factory employees condemned the barrel -setters who were responsible for the stoppage of work, they are told that, because certain returned soldiers are available they cannot < be reinstated in their old positions.
This policy can have % only one effect. When the unionists throughout Australia realize that returned soldiers are replacing married men who have families to support, they will say that there is no incentive to them to encourage enlistment. We do not wish that view to be held. We desire to get as many recruits as possible ; yet, while we are endeavouring’ in every way to clear the political and industrial atmosphere, we find the Government introducing in their own factories methods which will’ prove detrimental to recruiting. I am sure that when the Government took this course of action they did not view the matter in the light in which I have put it. But that is the true interpretation of their attitude. Is it in the interests of the country that, at this time of crisis, we should create bad feeling which will do more to prevent recruiting than anything else that has happened ? In the interests of recruiting, Conferences are being held between State Ministers and industrial organizations for the purpose of removing all obstacles; but, while these negotiations are in progress, the Commonwealth Government are introducing a system which must appear to the outsider to be economic conscription. That is the only construction that can be placed on the action of the Government in depriving’ men of the right to work, although .those men have committed no fault. Nobody will resent, this policy more than the soldiers themselves. Men who have had sufficient- spirit to go to the Front will not come back to resort to the cowardly action of displacing their fellow men. We ought to endeavour to find avenues of employment for the returned soldiers, and we must maintain - them until work for them is found; but let us not put them in the position of taking the bread and butter from married men with families.
Though the Minister argued that there was nothing in the nature of economic conscription in the Government’s policy, I ask -honorable members to put themselves in the position of the workmen, and consider what would be their opinion if they found that returned soldiers were being utilized to displace them from their employment and leave their families without means of support. It must be remembered that the factory employees are skilled workers. They can do only certain classes of work in connexion with machinery, and when they are thrown out of employment, they cannot go anywhere and get a job. The consequence is that they feel the present position very keenly, and the Government’s action must create a good deal of ill-feeling. I hope the Government will give the matter further consideration, and I am sure that the Assistant Minister will use his influence to change the policy of the Government if he finds that step necessary. From my point of view, the policy is dangerous, and will not be helpful in the prosecution of the war. In those circumstances, let the Government retrace their steps and give employment to the men who are required for producing small-arms, and when any vacancies occur, give the work to returned soldiers. Do not let us, for the purpose of getting rid of the burden of maintaining returned men until they find employment, displace other men who for years have given loyal service to the Government.
. J. have never sat silent when any question of unemployment has been brought forward. I have been connected with every unemployment grievance for the last quarter of a century, and to-day I .appeal to the Government, through the Minister, to be just to the men who are out of work. At the present time, we are. simply existing on credit, and if that credit be disturbed, we shall have more trouble in Australia than we ‘have ever had before. The disturbance of credit following the land boom and the big maritime strike caused a financial debacle and misery and wretchedness throughout Victoria. What happens when there is unemployment? The first person to suffer is the small landlord, who cannot get his rent. Then the small tradesmen feel the pinch. Later comes the disturbance of credit, and the tradesmen have to appeal to the banks. I warn the Government that in creating unemployment they are taking the first step towards causing a disturbance of credit, and once that happens there will be an end to the present form of government, and we shall have a lot of trouble. In connexion with the land boom, I had a list of 200 names of schoolmates and boy-mates who lost their homes, for which they had partially paid. The building societies collapsed, and later came the bank smash. In n time of war the Commonwealth Government are actually putting men out of work, and stopping the making of rifles because three expert men, who were drawing £25 a week, declined to do their work. Rifles can still be made, and put aside to be remedied later on by the barrel-setters. I understand that barrel-setting is a work that cannot easily be learnt, and that some men have a special faculty for it. I ask the Minister not to be too thinskinned about his Department, for if ever there was a Department which lived in a miasma of mystery, it is the Defence Department. Will anybody deny that there was, a phantom regiment, and that thousands of pounds were drawn to pay men who never existed? Will anybody deny that the Minister for Defence swore that the fence surrounding the Base Hospital, in St. Kilda-road, was over 6 feet high, when in reality, as was shown by a photograph, the fence only ‘ reaches my shoulders. Do I not know that medical men lied in the witness-box when they said, after the unfortunate Gunner Perry was sent to the observation ward of the lunatic asylum, that he was able to earn his living?
– I would remind the honorable member that the question before the Chair has nothing to do with that case.
– Then I shall not pursue the subject further. The Defence Department has been branded by a leading advocate in Sydney as “ the Department of Muddledom.” I cannot blame my honorable friend (Mr. Wise), for the muddle that exists in the Department, since he has been in office for only a few weeks, but I hope that under his fostering care a great improvement will be made. The Government are playing with fire in dismissing men in this way. At a recent recruiting meeting in the Melbourne Town Hall Lieutenant McKenzie, a returned soldier, made ‘the most eloquent speech, in which he declared : “I have been a trade unionist all my life,” and I am sure that he would cut his throat rather than find work for himself by displacing another man. These men at Lithgow are, perhaps, to be treated just as returned soldiers employed at the woollen works in Queen-street .are .being dealt with. If they have a pension of 15s. per week, they are not allowed to earn more than 27s. per week, as their total weekly income must not exceed £2 2s. The returned soldiers engaged in the same industry in Sydney are working under the Red Cross, and are treated differently from their brothers in Melbourne, who object to this system as a dragging down of trade unionism. No one knows better than I do the misery suffered by the masses as the result of unemployment, and I unhesitatingly say that if this system is continued by the Government a most dangerous situation will be created. The Government should extend the work of the Small Arms Factory. At present we are not properly armed, and we have not yet made a big gun capable of sinking a second class cruiser. I warned the Government as far back as 1905 of the necessity for the establishment of an arsenal in Australia, and it seems to me’ that we shall come to a bad end if we stop at the mere making of rifles. We should manufacture in Australia everything required for the prosecution of accursed war. As it is, we find the Government reducing employment in the only factory we have for the making of munitions. I wish the people had an opportunity of controlling the created thing called Parliament. If they had, there would soon be a change. Let the Government extend its munition works. Let us have, if you like, two arsenals - one at Lithgow, and the other at Canberra - and let the men returning from the Front be employed at the Canberra works. Returned soldiers have not been treated well in Melbourne, and I think that both the Commonwealth and the State Government should be ashamed of their shortcomings in that respect. Iam confident that not one out of every fifty returned soldiers would accept a job if, by doing so, he would deprive another man of his bread and butter.
.- Last week the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Nicholls) was busily engaged in his own electorate in connexion, no doubt, with this very matter, and in his absence I asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence a question concerning the men out of work at the Lithgow! Small Arms Factory. The honorable gentleman was at first unable to answer my question, but on Friday last he informed me in the House that he had received a report stating that it had been found possible to re-engage a number of these men, although a considerable number were still out of work. I understand that prior to this trouble 1,500 men were employed in the Small Arms Factory, and that to-day there are only 800 in the works.’
– Over 1,000 are employed in the day shift.
– Accepting that statement, it means that 500 men are still out of work. A point which I wish to emphasize is that two or three months ago the Government sent the present ‘ Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) on a special vsit to Lithgow to inquire into the housing of the men employed at the Factory. The honorable gentleman reported to Cabinet, with the result that the Government decided to build 200 houses for the use of the men. The Government realized, apparently, at that time that the housing accommodation for the employees was insufficient, and they did not contemplate any reduction in the number of hands. Had they thought at that time of making a 33 per cent, reduction in the number of employees at the Factory the probability is that the proposal to build 200 houses for the workmen would not have been made. I do not know whether the Government intend to proceed with it, but if, at the time of the Acting Prime Minister’s visit to Lithgow, additional housing accommodation was .thought to be necessary, there must have been evidence before the Government that there was not likely to be any reduction in the number of hands employed. But what is the position to-day? We are told that at least 500 men have been thrown out of work, and the majority of these, according to the honorable- member for Macquarie, are married. In view of the circular which has been distributed throughout the Commonwealth Departments it is felt that pressure is being brought to bear upon the officers to compel them, although married, to enlist. Any such pressure is quite at variance with the decision arrived at by the Recruiting Conference, which recently took place at the instance of the GovernorGeneral.
One of the propositions which I, on behalf of representatives of Labour, submitted to the Recruiting Conference, was that there should be no economic conscription in either private or public employment. A country that has deliberately turned down the policy of conscription on two different occasions might reasonably be expected to oppose anything in the shape of economic conscription - the forcing of men out of employment.’ so as to compel them to enlist. My proposal that there should be no economic conscription was the only one to which the Prime Minister, speaking on behalf of the Commonwealth and State Governments, “and also on behalf of the employers’ organizations, replied to in the one word, “Accept.” He stated that there was no intention to bring in economic conscription. Shortly afterwards, according to the newspapers, the MasseyHarris Company in Sydney dismissed a number “of single men from their employ, and the Hon. W. Brooks, M.L.C., who represented the New South Wales Employers’ Federation at the Conference, stated in an interview that the dismissal of these men was in direct opposition to the agreement arrived at by the Conference. He said straight out that the Employers’ Federation was opposed to any sort of economic conscription. The Prime Minister, in accepting our proposal, spoke for the Commonwealth, as well as for the State Premiers and the employers’ organizations, and I hope that the Government will honour the compact.
The honorable member for Calare (Mr. Pigott) interjected while another honorable member was speaking, that these men could find employment in other parts of Australia. I would remind him that it is not an easy matter for a married man to part with his few sticks of furniture and to break up his home, or to leave his wife and family behind him. while he. seeks work elsewhere.
– And most of these men are skilled workers. The work for which they have been specially trained cannot be obtained outside the Small Arms Factory.
– Quite so; they would have to accept casual employment as labourers. Those who know what it means for a married man to leave hiswife and -family and seek work in town or country will recognise that this action on the part of the Department must give rise to a very bad feeling. It shows that the Government are not prepared to honour the agreement made at the Recruiting Conference.
– It is pretty rough for a man to have to travel on the “please, ma’am, do give me a feed “ system.
– I have never travelled on that system, but I know what it is to look for work on more than one continent.
If the work of the Small Arms Factory has been reorganized, and it is not intended to employ as large a staff of workmen as before, then such a decision” must be of recent date. It could not have been contemplated two or three months ago, when the Government announced that they intended to erect 200 workmen’s homes at Lithgow, and that the municipality would be asked to co-operate in the work. If it is said by the Department that the output of the Factory, with the reduced staff, meets the maximum requirements of the Commonwealth, then the work of arming Australia is far simpler than many of us imagined it to be when we spoke . of establishing an arsenal at Tuggeranong, in the Federal Capital area. I have always held that an arsenal should be established at the Federal Capital.
– Why not send these men to work there ?
– Because the machinery has not yet been set up.
– And if we can provide for our requirements with a staff of only 1,000 men at the Lithgow Small Arms Factory there can be no necessity for the duplication of the works.
– But we know that we cannot.
– Of course we do. I know that a staff of 1,000 men cannot turn out the number of rifles required for our own defence. I urge the Honorary Minister (Mr. Wise), as representing the Minister for Defence, to see that the Work of manufacturing rifles at Lithgow is pushed on with all possible speed. If it be true that a larger output is not necessary, then the Government should tell us at once, so that we may know how to deal with the larger question of the establishment of an arsenal at Canberra. It is most urgent that these 700 men should be at once afforded an opportunity to earn their living. They ought not to be turned adrift after they have spent years in making themselves skilled in the manufacture of small arms, and I urge the Government to give our request serious and immediate consideration.
– I wish to reply.
– As the honorable member has occupied the full time allowed to him under the Standing Orders, he cannot speak again.
Question resolved in the negative.
– The mover of a motion for a special adjournment in order to call attention to a matter of urgent public importance is allowed, by the Standing Orders, half-an-hour in which to state his case. If he wishes to have the opportunity of replying; it is necessary for him not to occupy the full half -hour in his opening speech. He may. then utilize the balance of the half -hour in replying.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice - 1, Having reference to the following paragraph of the Ministerial statement of 10th April last: - “ Legislation will also be brought forward to remove certain defects of the existing industrial machinery, and provide more effective methods of dealing with industrial problems - “
Is it the intention of the Government to introduce the legislation referred to before the end of the present financial year?
– The matter is now receiving consideration, and an announcement of the intentions of the Government will be made at a future date.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether, in view of the arrangements being made in regard to Australian raw products, it is the intention of the Government to introduce at once a scientific Protectionist Tariff designed to protect Australian secondary industries?
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Postmaster-
General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1, 2, and 3.Not so far as I am aware. I will have inquiry made.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether, in view of the great shortage of wheat in New Zealand, as indicated in the statements reported in the press cables to have been made by the New Zealand Minister in the Dominion Parliament, the Government will consider the urgent necessity of trying to send supplies of wheat to New Zealand as early as possible by arranging for the necessary shipping?
– The New Zealand Government has not approached the Commonwealth Government or the Wheat Boardin this matter.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Whether he will, for the information of honorable members, give the following details in connexion with the various War Loans, viz. - The number of investors in each loan under each of the following amounts respectively : - £100, £500, £1,000, £5,000, £10,000, £20,000, £25,000, £50,000?
– The particulars of the number of investors of £20,000, £25,000, and £50,000 are not readily available, but the information in the following table will, perhaps, meet the honorable member’s requirements: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice-
– Inquiries are being made in connexion with this matter, and a reply will be furnished as early as possible.
asked the Honorary Minister in charge of fixation of prices, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Acting Prime
Minister, upon notice -
Whether the Government will take into consideration the prayer of the petition recently presented to Parliament in reference to the suppressionof Sinn Fein, &c.?
– The matter has received, and is continuing to receive, careful consideration..
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Afforestation : Employment of Returned Soldiers
asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister re presenting the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1 and 2. A number of men previously employed at the Factory have not been re-engaged, and it is unlikely that vacancies will be available for a large number of these men for the reasons given on Friday last, in reply to a question on this matter by the honorable member for Yarra, viz., that the satisfactory position of Australia in regard to supply of rifles renders it possible to abolish the greater part of the second shift, which has been made possible by the bringing into use of the duplicate plant ordered some time ago, and by improved methods introduced from time to time. The. exact number of ex-employees affected is not at present known.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
Be the fixing of prices for the sale of sugar, will he, with a view to making the price as low as possible to the public, take action to enable the grocers to purchase direct from the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, and thus eliminate the commissions of the combine merchants?
– The whole question is now under daily consideration.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether, with a view to granting some relief to necessitous cases, he will take into consideration, when dealing with cases in Queensland of sufferers from the recent cyclone, the cases of sufferers from the cyclone which destroyed so many houses in Brighton, Victoria, some months ago?
– It is quite evident that the Commonwealth - cannot give contributions to all cases of disaster throughout the Commonwealth. When assistance was given in the case of Mackay, in Queensland, it was recognised that the Commonwealth was vitally interested in the sugar, industry, and the Government is now considering the question of the disaster at Cairns in the same way.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether he will see that the forty-four men who were permanently employed at Williamstown Shipbuilding Yards when they were taken over by the Commonwealth Government will be taken over by the new Department, and kept in constant employment?
– It is the intention of the Commonwealth Government to take over as many as possible of the fortyfour men who were permanently employed at the Williamstown ship-yards. Negotiations are now proceeding with the State Government regarding eleven men about whom there is some difficulty.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of the alleged very serious’ drift of population from the country districts to thegreat cities, will the Government take steps to see that no further restrictions are imposed upon country races, either registered or unregistered, until all races upon proprietary race-courses are discontinued?
– This matter is now receiving consideration, and the points raised will be reviewed.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Cockatoo Island Dock EmployeesHoldsworthy camp : escapeof Internees - Defence Administration - Soldiers’ Allotments : Separation Allowance - Repatriation - Encroachment upon Wentworth Park - Internment of Father Jerger - Enlistments without Parents’ Consent - Officers Re-enlisting as Privates - Appeal by Convicted Labour Leader in America - Censorship - Shipbuilding - War Precautions Act Regulations - Stoppage of Allowance to Soldier’s Wife - Military Raids upon Premises of Citizens and Organizations - Prohibition of Publications of Union of Democratic Control - Hindoo Coolies, Fiji - Northern Territory: Conduct of State Hotels - Conduct of War :
Labour Attitude and Aims - Peace by Negotiation - War Expenditure and Future Indebtedness - German Peace Terms : Russia and Roumania - Senator Pearce and the Boer War - Retention of Captured German Possessions - Unemployment - Victimization and Economic Conscription - Shipbuilding - Enemy Trade Descriptions : Bosch Magnetos - Treatment of Italian Reservists - Distillation of Eucalyptus Oil : Shortage of Shipping Space - Small Arms Factory: Position of Employees.
Question - That Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair, and that the House resolve itself into Committee of Supply - proposed.
.- I desire to draw attention to one or two cases in which injustice has been done to some individuals in the community. The first matter touches upon ‘ the famous Sinn Fein regulation which empowers the military to enter the premises of any citizen whenever they take it into their heads to do so. I have received the following letter from Mr. B. O’Connor, of Leichhardt : -
On 25th March, at 3.15 pan., three police officers entered my house at above address and searched, by warrant, the whole of my private rooms. Their warrant was signed by General Lee, on what the police said was owing to private information. They found nothing that they could seize but a few private letters from Home to my daughters, of no importance to any one, and some picture cards of Dr. Mannix. I interviewed General Lee, and explained the whole circumstance, when he remarked I would obtain those private letters back, but, up to the present, . I have not received a reply. Now, sir, I want to know if this is justice when my house is raided in a most brazen’ manner on the mere statement of some personal enemy without making previous inquiry from local police or otherwise? I may add. I am not a member of any society, or any of my family, not even an Hibernian, Sinn Feiner, or anything else; simply an Oddfellow.
This I regard as a most glaring case. This gentleman has lived in the locality for a great number of years, and has there raised a family. He is well known, and nothing can be said against his private character; and yet, merely because it is presumed, possibly on the information of somebody who has a personal spite against him, that he has disloyal tendencies, and without any inquiry being made from the local police, or any other local authority who might know the circumstances, his private residence is raided. Amongst some of the documents taken from ‘the house were some nrivate letters that had been received by his daughters, and also’ some picture post-cards of Dr. Mannix. It may be regarded as a most heinous crime in this country to have picture post-cards of the kind in one’s possession; but, if so, the. fact ought to be made known to the public, so that breaches of the particular regulation may be avoided. It is desired that the letters should be returned, for they possess, if not an intrinsic, at any rate a sentimental, value to the daughters of the household. Honorable members understand that young ladies do receive letters from members of the opposite sex concerning matters which should not be made public, and such documents are not likely to be of any military value to the enemy. Of course, it is quite possible, in these latter days, that the militarv authorities may think the seizure of these letters will, in some way, /help to beat the Germans back, and win the war. The whole affair seems to be utterly ridiculous and childish; and I bring it under the notice of the House, and of the Government, with the suggestion “that when such information is laid against any person, inquiries should be set afoot bv the authorities in order to- insure that personal spite plays no part in the proceedings. The inquiries made in such cases ought, of course, to be conducted privately, and would doubtless assist the authorities in deciding as to the merits of the charges made. I sincerely trust that the letters I have spoken of will be returned, and. not detained with any idea that they may help the Government to win the war.
There is another serious matter connected with the military authorities which I desire to bring under the notice of the House. Some time ago a man, eager to do his duty to his King and country, enlisted, and was sent Home. When he arrived in England it was discovered that he was not quite medically fit forthe firing-line; and, as he was actuated by the highest of patriotic motives, the refusal of the authorities to allow him to go toFrance was a great disappointment. Indeed, he felt that an injustice was being done to him, and he did what many other men might do under the circumstances. He discovered that a draft from his own battalion was being sent to Prance, so he smuggled himself amongst them, got into the firing line, and started to do his bit to beat back the Huns. When this was discovered, he was charged, first, with being absent without, leave ; and then, above all things, with the great offence of “ unlawfully firing at the King’s enemies.” Could anything be more absurd ? However, the worst part of the business is that, because of this man’s determination to fight, his wife and children are made to suffer in Australia to-day, inasmuch as their separation allowance has been stopped now for months.
– Has the honorable member submitted his case to the Minister for Defence ?
– I Have; and I bring it before the House, because I find the military authorities are going along in the old humdrum way, accepting something that somebody tells them, and leaving this woman and her . children to starve. I ‘ have some correspondence which I should like to read ; and the first letter ia as follows-
Sydney, 4th February, 1918.
Re Canceled Allotments.
You are advised that payment of allotment made to you on certificate No. 403 at Drummoyne Post-office, on behalf of No. 6776, G. S. Mathers, 22/13 Battalion, Private, has been cancelled on and from 11.1.18 on account of soldier absent without leave. Please return the allotment certificate to the postmaster.
Mrs. Jane E. Mathers, 56 ReynoldsStreet,
The next letter received by this woman was -
District Pay Office, Victoria Barracks,
Sydney, 22nd February, 1918.
Re No. 6776, G. S. Mathers, 13th Battalion.
I have to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 4th instant relative to the allotment of pay of the above.-named soldier, and in reply I have to inform you that it is regretted that this allotment cannot be reinstated until further advice is received from the Chief Paymaster, London, in view of the fact that the soldier is illegally absent from duty, and all pay for such period is forfeited.
She then got into communication with me ; and I think it wellthat the whole of the correspondence should go on record, so that honorable members may know exactly how the Defence Department is treating the dependants of the men who are fighting for us to-3ay. The letter to myself is as follows -
C/o Mrs. A. Prestage, 35-57 Wellington-street, Rozelle, 12th March, 1918.
I am writing to ask yon if you could help me in my trouble with regard to my dear husband, No. 6776 Private George S. Mathers, 13th Infantry Battalion. I am enclosing you a military form; it is not the first one I received, this one was given to mc by one of the military officials to use if I went to the Lord Mayor’s Fund for assistance, the other one I gave to a doctor who was going to try and do what he could for me; then I was advised to write to you, and I would bo sure to have the matter cleared up. I have received no military pay at all since the pay before the date on enclosed form, and. I can gain no satisfaction with regard to my husband. I gave a good husband and father when I let him go, and now it is not only a broken home, but a broken heart as well. I have had to take my son away from his school and let him go to work, and I have had to take a positon myself. I am in service, and have seven children to look after.
I wish honorable members to note that particular point -
I am ill myself, and am afraid I can’t keep up much longer. It is cruel to be treated in this way. Is it just to take our men, and then treat them and their wives and children as though we were nothing? Can you find out for mc why my money has been stopped ? All they say is that my dear husband is marked “’ A.W.L.” I asked them at the Victoria Barracks, Sydney, why my boy and I should suffer for my husband not being able to . attend drill (I’ know he is, or was, very ill by his letters), and they politely told mc’ that if a man was sick and unable to go to work, his boss would not pay him -
Is this the callous way in which the dependants of our soldiers are to be treated ? I sincerely hope that it is not, and that, if. this sort of thing has been going on, the House will’ take steps to nut a stop to it in the future - and if a ‘man in the Army did not do his drill he could not expect to get his money; so that, if this is the way our men are to be treated, God help us. By my husband’s letters he has not been drawing any money at all for a very long time before my pay was stopped. Poor fellow, he feels it very keenly. My only hope is that my boy’s and my own prayer is answered, and that God will protect him, and they will send him home to me. I was paying off for a block of land, and had to sell it to get a little ready cash, and I have two small accounts I am unable to pay. They worry and upsetme. If they were settled; I could manage on my boy’s money and what 1 am earning myself, but paying a little off them each week leaves my small amount of cash very short. I only write and explain all this, dear sir, to let you know how I am placed, and I do not want my affairs to be made public.
– She did not wish it to be made public?
– Before I sit down, I shall tell the Minister why I make the matter public. Those concerned are forced to make it public -
They tell me, also, that there is a debt standing to my husband for, I believe it was said, some hospital expenses, which I cannot understand. They showed me the papers with the amount on them, £12 10s. 10d., I think it was. In God’s name, I ask you to try and find out something for me, and let me hear from you at your early convenience.
Yours faithfully, (Mrs.) E. J. Mathers.
P.S. - I am also enclosing an answer to a letter I wrote to the Victoria Barracks, Sydney. When I say I don’t want my affairs made public, I mean by telling people; as a rule, people are so . cruel, and make the most of one in trouble. I was told by one returned man that the military people dare not stop my pay unless my husband stopped it himself for some reason, and as I know my dear husband has no cause to do that, I don’t want anybody’s ideas, only those who help for kindness, and as one Christian to another. I trust you can help.
P.P.S. - I am afraid this letter is rather broken. Please excuse it, as I am very tired and worried.
On receipt of that letter, I got into communication with the Department, to which I sent the original letters, retaining copies for’ my own use. After a day or two. I received the ordinary formal acknowledgment, informing me that the letter had been received,- and was receiving attention. Then I received the following letter from the lady - 41 Wellington-street, Rozelle, 25th March, 1918.
Have you heard any news for me; I am nearly heart-broken. I had to give up the work I was doing; now my son, who was earning 15s. a week, is ordered into hospital. It is terrible; why are they so cruel. God forgive them for all the misery they cause; I can find it in my heart to forgive, but later some one will pay the penalty.
Yours very respectfully, (Signed) E. J. Mathers.
Next is a letter addressed to myself from the Secretary to the’ Defence Department - 29th April, 1918.
In continuation of this office memorandum 24,497, of the 26th ultimo, relative to your representations on behalf of Mrs. E. J. Mathers, c/o Mrs. A. Prestage, 35-37 Wellington-street, Rozelle, regarding the stoppage of payment of allotment of her hubsand, No. 6776 Private G. S. Mathers, I have now to inform you that a cable has been received from the Chief Paymaster, London, tp the effect that this allotment cannot be reinstated as the soldier in question is still an absentee.
I sent on- the- letter to the lady in question, so that she might know exactly what the Defence Department had to say on the subject, and I received from her another letter, complaining of her harsh treatment, and pointing out that she had received letters from her husband addressed from a camp in England. Although the paymaster in London cabled out to the effect that the soldier in question is presumably an absentee, letters have come from him addressed from the 13th Training Battalion, Codford, the date of the last of these being 28th February last. The Defence Department, in a letter of the 29th April, say that a cable has been received from the Chief Paymaster, London, to the effect that the allotment camnot be reinstated, as the man is still an absentee.
– Was the date of the cable given?
– No; but presumably it was sent about the same time as the letters. This woman has suffered financial loss and a terrible mental strain, so that her health is completely shattered. Having no means to pay for medical assistance, she is forced, as she says in one of her letters, to go into a public hospital. Her words are, “ Nobody cares; I am only a soldier’s wife.” I do not wish to weary the House by reading at length all the letters in my possession.
– Is there not in Sydney, as in Melbourne, a State War Council to deal with cases such as this ?
– There are a number of bodies by whom assistance is supposed to be given. But this woman and her children can get nothing. Why should they be penalized, even though the husband may have been guilty of a breach of discipline or of some infraction of the military regulations? Why should they pay the penalty of his offence? The thing is grossly unfair. The people of Australia will not stand for such treatment.
– Has the woman made application to the State War Council?
– She has made application after application.
– It is extraordinary that a case of this kind should be overlooked by that body.
– My information is that she can get no assistance.
– Does she say to what body she applied ?
– She says in one of the letters that I have read that she applied for assistance from the Lord Mayor’s Fund. The fact that stands out is that the Defence Department has done nothing for her, and the Minister will gain nothing by trying to shift the responsibility on- to the State War Council.
– The State War Councils are working with the Department.
– This man enlisted, although he had a wife and children. As I have pointed out, the authorities at Home said that he was physically unfit to go to the Front, but his spirit was so strong that he determined to do so. I have a letter here from him to his wife, bearing the address, “ 13th Training Battalion, Australian Imperial Force, Officers’ Mess, Codford,” and dated 14th February last.
– Since then there have been only two mails.
– There could hardly be later news. This letter shows that the man was then in camp, despite the cablegram of the Chief Paymaster in London to the effect that he was an absentee. There is something wrong in the Paymaster’s Office in London, and we should have a close examination into its affairs. I am afraid that some of the tricks that were being played in the Pay Office in Sydney, and caused such a scandal there, are- being played in London. At any rate, cases like this arouse suspicion, and in the public interest the Government should have the accounts of the office examined.
– Has the honorable member tried to get assistance for this woman ?
– I have brought the case under the notice of the Defence Department, and taken all the steps that I could to have matters put right; I bring it before the House as a final resort, as in no other way can I force the Department to do justice to this woman and her children. My only desire is that she shall receive a fair deal. I have no desire to make political capital out of the case, and I would be the first to compliment the Minister if to-night, or even tomorrow morning, he would take the proper action. The letters from the husband to the wife would make one’s heart bleed. They are tender communications, imbued with the kindest regard for wife and children. That these should be treated as they have been treated while he is lamenting that lie cannot be with them, is scandalous. I trust that the matter will not be treated lightly, as many matters that are raised in this chamber are treated, nothing being done. The husband is overseas attempting to do his bit. He went away to fight the Ger- mans, and even if he has been charged with the ridiculous crime of unlawfully firing on the King’s enemies, at least, do not let us fire on his wife and children.
– Has the honorable member personally put the matter before the Minister for Defence?
– No, but without a moment’s delay I sent to him from Sydney the letters that I had received. Does the Postmaster-General suggest that the Minister does not take notice of written communications, and will act only when button-holed ?
– If the honorable member’s heart were in the case he would have spoken to the Minister personally.
– -My heart is in the case. I have brought it before the House because the Department will do nothing. The Postmaster-General is trying to sidetrack me. But, notwithstanding his long parliamentary experience, I will not let him put it over me. He cannot get away from the fact that the Department has refused to give this woman and her children a fair deal. He says that I should whisper into the pearly ear of Senator Pearce, but I am not going to do that.
– Does the’ Department admit that the charge against the man is what you have stated it to be ? Have you an official admission to that effect ?
– No ; the word of this soldier is good enough for me, and I accept it. His letters contain a statement of the charge and of the whole of the circumstances connected with it.
– In justice to the Department, you should get an official denial or admission regarding the correctness of the statement concerning the charge.
– The Department says that a cablegram has been received from the. Chief Paymaster in London saying that the allotment cannot be reinstated because the soldier in question is still an absentee. Yet letters have come from him giving as his address a camp in England. The outstanding fact is that the woman and her children have not received assistance. ^ .
– Another outstanding fact is that the honorable member has not himself appealed to the Minister for Defence.
– Not very long ago I approached Senator Pearce on behalf of a woman, in order to ascertain the whereabouts of one of her two sons, who were at the Front. The Department had informed her that it had no record of his whereabouts. The mother knew that he had gone to the Front, for she had said farewell to him at the boat. But when I approached Senator Pearce he said that he had much more important matters to attend to. I resolved then that Senator Pearce should wait a long time before I again approached him privately on any matter. In the case I have mentioned to-day I took the proper step of writing to the Department officially, and the Chief Paymaster has replied that the man is still an absentee. Yet the man’s letters arriving by the latest mail are headed with the name of the camp in which he was stationed in England. I will be generous enough to say that a mistake may have been made. If so, the man’s address is contained in his own letters, and it is the duty of the Department to take the steps necessary to rectify the injustice which has been done to his wife and children.
– The statement by the honorable member for Dalley of the grievance to which we have just listened elicited the sympathy of every member of the. House, and inspired us with an anxiety that something should be done to relieve the distress of the woman and her children. But when, in the latter portion of his remarks, the honorable member saw fit to make a heated reflection on the Defence Department, he did both himself and his case an injustice. As soon as the case was brought under their notice, the Defence authorities Were not content with a mere inquiry by mail ; they regarded the matter as of sufficient importance to justify a cable. The only official information they have received in reply is that the man is a deserter, and as such he must have been guilty of a very serious breach of discipline. There may be associated with the case qualifying circumstances, such as those suggested by the honorable member. That is a matter for subsequent inquiry. In the meantime there is a cle.ar means whereby substantial relief can be obtained for the unfortunate woman. I speak from some little experience in this matter, and I infer that relief, which is available in Victoria, may be relied upon to be available in every other State. There is in Victoria a State War Council, which is now associated, to some extent, with the Department of Repatriation. That Council has raised considerable sums of money, including a recent amount of £120,000, which is specially applied to the relief of cases such as the honorable member has mentioned. So far as my experience goes, amelioration has not been refused in one deserving case. On the contrary, the labour and trouble incurred by members of the Council in ascertaining the facts of every application is most commendable. A gentleman who is associated with me spends day after day in investigating the circumstances of various cases which are brought under his notice. If the honorable member for Dalley will take the trouble to bring the case he has ventilated to-day under the notice of the State War Council in New. South Wales, I am certain that relief will be immediately afforded.
– The State Government is another source of relief.
– In addition to the State War Council there is the Lord Mayor’s Fund, and the two combine to offer a guarantee of a weekly allowance to every deserving applicant. The case to which we have just listened is most deserving, and demands immediate attention and relief, but the channels to which I have referred should be at once resorted to. In the meantime I am hopeful that the Defence Department will undertake an investigation. Of course . it is most difficult to believe that the charge against this man is such as has been suggested by the honorable member for Dalley.
– That is , what the soldier himself stated in one of his letters.
– I should have been’ inclined to regard that statement as a bit of humour on his part. I hope the honorable member will not allow- the case to drop, but will seek relief from the sources I have suggested, and will urge a complete investigation by the Defence Department. I realize, with him, that these complaints are unduly and unfairly stressed in opposition to recruiting, and that makes it all the more necessary that an investigation should take place, especially as the Government have made extra appointments for that purpose. I believe that if this case were brought under the notice of the Assistant Minister for Defence (Mr. Wise), whom the honorable member may interview in the House, he will see that a proper inquiry is made, and that temporary relief is given at once. The case should be dealt with on its merits, and if the merits are such as he suggested, the unfortunate woman is entitled to the most generous consideration.
– A few days ago I thought it necessary to complain about the actions of the military authorities in raiding the offices and private residences of certain reputable citizens. I made particular reference to the raid of the private residence and offices of the secretary of the Irish National Association in Brisbane.. Sinoe then, correspondence, has reached me which shows that that raid was by no means isolated. I am informed that in a number of instances in New South Wales, presbyteries, and even convents, have been raided by the military within the last few months. I shall read to the House a copy of a letter which was sent to the Minister for Defence-
Canowindra, N.S.W., 2nd March, 1918.
I beg to make application to you, personally, for information regarding the charge made against me by the military authorities in Sydney.
The Hon. Mr. Millen promised me some five weeks back to make some- inquiries for me, butup to the present I have not received any information, although I sent him, at his request, the particulars of my transactions.
It appears that, towards the end of December, the military authorities in Sydney caused inquiries to bc made of me as to what certain cases received by me contained. I gave all the information I could to assist the police in making the inquiry; in fact, I invited them to go into the church, the convent, and the school, and see for themselves the articles referred to.
When in Sydney, I called upon Colonel Lloyd with reference to his action, and asked for some particulars as to the charges and the informant.
The only, information I was. able to elicit from him was that’ some person, who did not know me and did not know the circumstances, reported that he had been told that 1 had received some large cases.
From another source, I learnt that some one had said that he had heard that a case addressed to me was broken in transit, and that, though it was supposed to contain “ images,” it actually contained “ rifles.”
As the military authorities, as represented by Colonel Lloyd, are satisfied that I am innocent of this serious charge, I asked for the information to be passed along to the police, so that they might, in the interests of justice and fair play, deal with the ruffian who concocted the story. I was told by Colonel Lloyd that, under no circumstances,’ could a name be revealed, no matter how grave the groundless charge . might be.
Seeing that similar inquiries have been made about some of our teaching sisters who bought pianos, and who, at least in one case, were credited with getting four piano-cases of rifles instead,I have very grave doubts as to the’ bona fides of the charges. Wo should be protected from these either bogu’s complaints or wicked . charges by some evil persons; and, as a means to protect myself, I ask that the name of the informant be given, with a view to action by the police.
Another officer informed a friend that there was a written complaint.
With these; contradictory statements, it is not easy to arrive at the truth.
I have refrained from having these humi liating annoyances ventilated in the House until I communicated with the responsible head of the Defence Department.
I am a native of the country, fifty-eight years of age, and have been in my present district for a period of , twenty-seven years.
I have made public addresses advocating all patriotic movements, and given money and land towards these objects, so that I am not unknown as a reputable citizen. I claim even to have given more, proportionately, than any contributor in my own district.
Even in the church, I have strongly urged the claims of War Loans.
I mention these matters to show that I have reason to claim exemption from this cruel and uncalled-for action of the military authorities. My parishioners deeply resent this action, and would, if permitted, take some palpable means of expressing their opinions.
As a free citizen, I hope I am not asking too much when I request your assistance to help me in this matter.
To which the reverend gentleman received the following reply from the Defence Department: -
With reference to your letter of 2nd March, addressed to the Minister for Defence, I have to inform you that Senator Millen was written to on 6th February, 1918, in reply to the representations made by him on your behalf, and as the representations were made through him, the reply was also sent to him.
In regard to the matter complained of by you, I desire to say that it is the duty of the Commandant of each district to inquire into all matters submitted to him. . In the present case, the action taken disclosed nothing of a suspicious nature, and the Intelligence Officer at Sydney informed you to that effect.
It is not considered by this Department advisable, for obvious reasons, to disclose the ground on which any specific action is taken.
It is regretted that you should have been put to inconvenience in regard to this matter.
I ask honorable members if they think it fair that reputable citizens, no matter what may be their political or religious faith, should be subjected to such treatment on mere hearsay evidence or casual observation. Somebody heard that somebody else had said something, and on such statements men occupying responsible and honorable positions in the community have been subject to harsh treatment. The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. ‘Wallace) recently brought before the House the case of the Rev. Father Jerger, . who has been interned. I do not desire to discuss the merits of his case other than to say that so far as I have been able to gather from what was said in the House, and from correspondence which, has been submitted to me, in his. case also, there is an utter absence of any tangible charge or evidence. This was another case of hearsay. Certain remarks are made that in somebody’s opinion a gentleman has been saying or doing something that seems suspicious, and on flimsy evidence of that character, the Defence Department, in its peculiar anxiety to interfere as much as possible in the affairs of Australia, rushes in and causes all this trouble and inconvenience. I do not mention these matters because of any” sympathy with people who are likely to be ill-disposed towards Australia or the Empire, or who might be reasonably suspected of sympathy with the enemy. The lives of gentlemen like Father Jerger and Father Doran, of Canowindra, are very much like those of public men. Their actions are not- private, but public. Their whole reputation is eminently popular, in the sense that their lives are lived in the sight of the whole of the people. Because some one said that a case addressed to one of these gentlemen was broken open, and that rifles were seen in it, he was subjected to this disgraceful and humiliating experience. Then, again, the sisters in the convent obtained a piano from Paling and Com’pany, of Sydney, and it was immediately reported that they had received four piano cases full of rifles. A man of ordinary intelligence would wonder where these rifles could come from. So far as we know, there is only one source of supply in Australia, and it is - entirely under the control of the Government. They could not, therefore, be derived from any local, source. It is much more unlikely that they could be derived from any foreign source. The control of importations by the Commonwealth Government renders such a thing almost impossible. In any event, it is absolutely absurd to associate such a reputable firm as Paling and Company with a consignment of rifle* under the guise of a case containing a piano. One wonders what is the motive behind these allegations. There is nothing to justify the. raiding of either private residences, convents, presbyteries, or the offices of associations. The other day the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine) referred to the raiding of the homes of Italians by the military police, and spoke of the ruthless methods adopted in connexion with those raids. The PostmasterGeneral, who is representing the Government in the House this afternoon, must recognise that these incidents have a very disturbing and irritating effect. We are inevitably drifting towards a condition of things which, instead of helping us to weld the people of Australia into one homogeneous whole - instead of helping to develop a satisfactory Australian spirit - will drive the people of Australia into sections.
It would seem that, as the result of these secret service and espionage tactics, we are bringing about a system of secret societies, to which we have hitherto fortunately been strangers in Australia. No one wishes to see their introduction into the Commonwealth. The only justification for secret societies is the existence of a Government so unreasonable and autocratic that people with grievances to remedy, and rights to protect, are driven by force of circumstances into them. Like always breeds like. We reap what we sow, and, undoubtedly, Australia, in sowing the tares of hatred and disturbance and ill-feeling, is bound to reap a very unsatisfactory harvest.
These actions surely have proved their inutility. Surely after three or four years of effort in connexion with these matters the Government must have arrived at the conclusion that, so far from having a helpful, they are having a hindering effect. Instead of being beneficial to the win-the-war policy of the Government, these incidents are creating the most serious obstacles in the way of that policy. Repression and obstruction of this character were, no doubt, the regular methods of Governments in such autocratic countries as Russia years ago, and also in Great Britain centuries ago. We hope that the world had moved since then, but . it would seem that the relapse into barbarism, from which the world is suffering to-day, has thrown the Government of Australia off its balance, and that it has resorted to the bad methods adopted under the vile system of government obtaining in the days gone by. Is there any hope of improvement, or are we simply to go on protesting here as best we can and finding no redress? Are we to see our country torn, by factions and divided in every unnecessary way in order to carry out a policy that can help no one,, but which must really be detrimental to the best interests of the community? I am not questioning the loyalty of the Government. I do not suggest that they are less well disposed to the future of Australia now than they were before, but I do think that in some particular way their vision has been clouded and . their minds so disturbed by events in Europe that they are unable to exercise that judgment and sanity of conduct which is essential to good government.
I propose now to pass to another matter very closely associated with that which I have just been discussing. I refer to the prohibition of the introduction into Australia of certain publications, well accepted, well known, and well read, and popularly quoted throughout other countries. In the Commonwealth Gazette of a recent issue there appeared a list of something over 100 different papers, books, pamphlets,. &c, which, are in free circulation in other countries but the admission of which into Australia is denied. A recent prohibition applies to all pamphlets that are being issued by the Union of Democratic Control in Great Britain. Those pamphlets are in free circulation in England, and are the product of some of the keenest minds in the Old Country. They are based on historical facts. No person who has read them can fail to be impressed by their grasp of the facts associated with the present war and their possible effect on the countries of the world. They are written with the pure desire that, as a result of this war, the best shall be done. The honorable member for Barrier has just given me a copy of the Government Gazette containing the list of prohibited publications. There are dozens of pamphlets and books in that list, and, although they are incirculation all the world over, their introduction into Australia is prohibited by the Government because, of some peculiar tender consideration for the feelings of Australians. It makes us wonder whether we are responsible-thinking creatures or merely spoon-fed children, who can only be allowed to read the works which our mentors- the Win-the-War Government - will allow us to see.
– We are the best-educated Democracy in the world.
– All the statistical publications show that we are the most intelligent, the most highly educated community in the world. They show that the proportion of illiterates is lower> and the system of education higher, in Australia than in almost any other country. Why, then, should there be this limitation of books and pamphlets? Why, for instance, should such pamphlets as The Fiddlers, Defeat, and Pursuit - publications with a world-wide reputation - be prohibited?
Quite lately, another peculiar addition has been made to the list of prohibited publications. In that list, for instance, we find The Ploughshare, a Quaker organ of social reconstruction, published at Graham House, London E.C., and conducted by an advisory council of eighteen Friends, in addition to the two editors. These are all prominent members of the Society of Friends, two of them having been at different periods Clerk of the London Yearly Meeting of the Society of Friends - one of its most important offices in Great Britain. There is also The Last Weapon, by Theodora
Wilson. This is a novel by a Friend, representing “ Fearless Love “ as the most powerful weapon in the divine armoury for the conversion of enemies into friends. I have not seen the book, but Theodora Wilson’s works are well known. ‘ If her . argument in this particular book as to fearless love being a powerful weapon for the conversion of enemies into friends is considered undesirable, why do not the Government prohibit Professor Henry Drummond’s book, in which he shows that love is the greatest thing in the world. Why do they not prohibit the New Testament, which declares, above all else, that love is the most powerful influence, and that our only hope of overcoming force is not by force, but by love? Yet the one is prohibited and the others are not.
– The honorable member speaks with much authority on these’ questions.
– I claim no authority to speak on them, I am speaking only from the standpoint of a common-sense man. I hope that the sanity of my statements will convince the honorable gentleman, and lead to his removing the cause of the complaint that I am, unfortunately, compelled to make. Yet another book which has been prohibited is Whence Come Wars, published by Headley Bros., Kingsway House, Kingsway, London, W.C. . This is an official publication, being the first report of the Committee on War and the Social Order, appointed by the London yearly meeting of the Society of Friends. Goodwill: a Journal of International Friendship, and Official Documents Looking Towards Peace, both published in the United States, have also been prohibited.
The Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) said, in another place, that the man who talks peace just now is a traitor to his country. From that view I entirely and absolutely dissent. It is right, in my judgment, to talk of peace at any time and in all circumstances. A resolution in regard to peace should always be in order in any Parliament, and more particularly in order when a war is raging. No matter what may be the conditions responsible for the war, or the reasons for carrying it on, we all look forward with a longing hope to the end of the conflict, and to the day when . peace shall be proclaimed. If the discussion of peace - if the letting in of light upon the discussion of the subject from every aspect, and from the point of view of every nation - is freely allowed, then we shall be far more likely to arrive at a satisfactory and early termination of all wars, and particularly of the present war. This is a matter of which I hope the Government are willing to take some cognisance. The prohibition of these publications is not going to help the Government one iota in its own win-the-war policy. ‘ It is- not going ‘ to make disloyal citizens loyal, nor is it going to cause those who are opposed to the war to enthusiastically support it. On the contrary, it is going to compel a number of people who to-day are disturbed < in their minds, and anxious in their thoughts regarding the war, to” become much less strong in their support of the’ Government, and much less inclined to assist them ‘just at a time when the Government need all the assistance that every section of the community can give to them. Nothing would be more useful to them at the present time than the cordial and hearty co-operation of all classes of the community, but how can they hope to secure that co-operation and that generous assistance while these matters to which I have referred are allowed to exist?
Quite recently, I asked the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) whether any representations had been made by the Indian Government, or their representatives, to the Commonwealth. Government in regard to the conditions of emplovment of Hindoo labourers by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company in Fiji. The Acting Prime Minister replied that no representations have been made, that he was not aware of the condition of affairs in Fiji; that he had no information in regard to the position of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company; and that the Government’s attitude in regard to the matter had not been considered. The more I look into this question of the employment of Hindoo labourers in Fiji the more serious are the proportions that it assumes. Some years ago, Professor Andrews was selected by the Indian Government to inquire into the truth of certain reports in circulation regarding the treatment of Hindoo labourers by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company in Fiji, and his report was so condemnatory of the company, and such an exposure of the misleading methods that had been adopted in order to get Hindoo labourers to volunteer for work in Fiji, that the Indian Government were greatly alarmed over the matter. Certain well defined promises and clear, distinct, and unambiguous statements were made in order to induce Hindoos to volunteer for work in the sugar plantations in Fiji. They were offered a free passage to their allotted destination, free housing at their allotted plantation, ls. per diem for six days a week, the opportunity to settle in Fiji after five years, and a free return passage to India after ten years, that is, after re-indenture. The report furnished by Professor Andrews caused a considerable tightening ofthe conditions, and the Colonial Sugar Refining Company were compelled to promise certain reforms. At a later date the Indian Government appointed Prof essor Andrews and Mr. Pearson to visit Fiji, and report whether the reforms had been loyally observed. Professor Andrews was recently in Melbourne, and I had the honour and good fortune to have a fairly long ‘interview with him. I am concerned in the matter, because if our fellow British subjects are being ill-treated a reflection is cast upon Australia. The Indian Government claims that, as the Colonial Sugar Refining Company is an Australian company, which has extended its operations to Fiji, the Commonwealth Government is, to an extent, responsible for the manner in which the company conducts its business. Naturally, educated Indians understand that the Commonwealth Government has no control in Fiji, and that this company is “practically beyond our jurisdiction, so far as its operations in the island are concerned, but the average Indian, not being so well acquainted with the conditions of international relationship, and thinking that, as this company is an Australian one, we must necessarily have some control over it, holds this unfortunate and humiliating business of the treatment of Hindoo labourers in Fiji to be a charge against the Commonwealth Government. The Acting Prime Minister says that he is not aware of the conditions that obtain in Fiji. The Federal Independent, a Sydney religious journal, recently published the following-
Coolie “ lines “ are the buildings erected for housing the indentured Indians. To speak of these shanties as homes would he to insult the English language. They are more like cattlestalls in which privacy and decency are impossible. These lines have become sinks of vice and immorality. Four women to ten men is about the proportion allowed by recruiting regulations. This immense sexual disparity becomes the occasion of outbursts, and murders arising from sexual jealousy are frequent. A Hindoo husband, arriving in Fiji with his wife and family, is quickly given to understand that his wife must become common property, and she does. The man is helpless, the conditions being such as to make resistance futile.
The C.S.E. has been asked to help minimize this shocking state of affairs and provide some little safeguards in providing decent accommodation for at least the married couples and their families. But the appeal has been in vain.
In the sugar plantations, gangs of twenty to thirty women are employed. These are overseered often by lads of twenty years of age, engaged and sent out from Sydney. These youths have charge of the operations in the cane-fields, where the cane often grows to 9 feet high. A few steps into the cane, and there is perfect seclusion. Many of these Indian women are prostitutes, made such by the very conditions under which they have been recruited. Let the mothers in the pure homes of New South Wales, whence these boymanagers have been sent, realize the awful temptation into which their lads are thus thrown; let them conceive the worst possible, because the worst is done.
Here, again, the C.S.E. has been approached and asked to stop this practice of placing mere immature youths in such positions of moral peril, and replacing them by older and more experienced men.
Again the appeal has been refused, and for the following reasons: -
Thus, for purely economic considerations, Australian lads are placed in moral jeopardy.
But this is not all. It would be well for the blood guiltiness of the Christian holders of C.S.R. scrip if it were. But worse remains to be said.
The C.S.R. is compelled by law to erect hospitals for the coolies. These contain erections for the women, into which they flock in their maternity troubles, whilst female diseases are of necessity rampant. Now, common decency, to say nothing of common humanity, would suggest that these women’s wards be under the supervision of matrons. But no. These women’s wards are in the charge of. men (not doctors) who have the merest smattering of medical knowledge - men picked up anywhere and anyhow. What it means to a Hindoo woman to be mauled about by a man - and he a foreigner - only those who know the
Hindoo character can fully realize. We have staying with us, as we write this, the Rev. C. F. Andrews, M.A., who, commissioned by the Women’s Council of India, has spent some months in Fiji, and at great pains, and even peril, has been investigating this woman side of the coolie situation; and he says it is impossible for any European to gauge the outraged sense of degradation that is felt by Indian women at these abominable sexual conditions.
The C.S.R. was explicitly asked by Mr. Andrews, in the name of the women of India, to at least place matrons in charge of these women’s wards, and give them trained nurses. But, notwithstanding the fact that there are ladies in Australia who, through Mr. Andrews, willingly volunteered to take up this work, the C.S.R. curtly turned down his request, and declined any further communication with him.
In a Melbourne paper, quite recently,- the following appeared -
It is interesting to read a statement by the Rev. J. Burton to the effect that male Indian coolies who worked on the Fijian sugar plantations, were paid ls. per day “ if they did work enough to satisfy the overseers,” while the women received 6d. per day. The rabbit warrens into which the coolies’ families were crowded, Mr. Burton also said, measure 8 feet by 10 feet, the partitions between them leaving “ much to be desired.” At the same meeting, Mrs. James Booth is reported to have stated that the C.S.R. Co. was making such profits that it was at some pains to hide them. It acknowledged 40 per cent., and was credited with 50 per cent., while it had made £100,000 extra in war profits. Further, the same speaker pointed out, only forty coolie women were allowed to land in Fiji to every 100 men, because women were not such good economic assets, and the moral degradation resulting from such a state of affairs she described as appalling. The dreadful conditions maintaining among these workers showed in the suicide statistics, the rate- among these unfortunates being stated to be 1,000 times greater in’ Fiji than in their own homeland’; the increase in murders, on the same basis ‘of comparison, was eightyfold.
In juxtaposition to that record we have the fact that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company last half-year made its usual £500,000 profit. The danger to Australia in regard to this matter is that, before very long - Professor Andrews has estimated it as likely, to be within the next five years-India will absolutely refuse to do any business, in Australia unless we take some steps to remedy this state of affairs. It is easy enough to say, “ What can Australia, do ? We have no responsibility in regard to Fiji. It is an independent Crown colony, and our jurisdiction does not extend over it.” India does not view the matter in the same light. The. people of India claim . that we have a moral right to control the operations of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, in regard to its Fiji products. The company finds ite principal market in New Zealand, but it has repeatedly made up the deficiency in Australia’s production of sugar from its Fiji plantations. One wonders, after all, if we have advanced very much during recent years. The conditions brought about by the same company’s operations in Queensland, when working with kanaka labour, caused such a revulsion of feeling a few years ago among educated people, and among Christian communities, that the Commonwealth Government were compelled to cause an abandonment of the employment of kanaka labour in that State. Even a worse state of affairs is found in Fiji. We used to shudder at reading of the Congo atrocities by the Belgians; yet here, at our own doors, are atrocities inflicted on fellow British subjects, while we seem helpless to interfere.
– And by an Australian company.
– And by an Australian company. I happen to know that Professor Andrews did have an interview with a responsible Minister of the Commonwealth Government. The Acting Prime Minister, in reply to my questions, said that the matter had not been considered by the Government; and evidently the Minister concerned was not strongly impressed with the statements made by Professor Andrews. But the report of that gentleman and Mr. Pearson, who, as a Commission, were sent outby the Indian Government, should be available ‘very soon. I am satisfied that the Indian Government desires to live in the closest harmony and the most kindly relationship with the Australian Government; but, unless something is done in -regard to this matter, and some remedy found for the treatment of the Hindoo labourers in Fiji, we shall be involved in an unfortunate dispute with the Indian Government, which will not make for our comfort. ‘in Australia, and may cause some international difficulty. I hope the Government will take the matter into consideration, and relieve us from any dangers in this respect.
There is one other matter to which I desire to briefly refer, based, again, on some questions which I put to the Acting Prime Minister, and the . unsatisfactory answers thereto. On the 12th April, I put certain questions to the Minister for Home and Territories (Mr. Glynn) as to the position of affairs in the Northern Territory, particularly in connexion with the conduct of the State hotels. The Minister was good enough to favour me with a statement of the revenue and expenditure, which, for the six months ending the 31st December, 1917, shows receipts amounting to £30,450, and an expenditure of £25,850, leaving a credit balance of £4,600. The Minister said that he was not aware of any serious dissatisfaction with the conduct of the State hotels, and, in reply to a question as to whether he would allow the residents of the Northern Territory to decide whether the hotels should continue under Commonwealth control or otherwise, informed me that the matter would be taken into consideration. It is rather significant that a few days later, the following reference to an official report appeared in the Melbourne newspapers: -
In a report to the Home and Territories De partment, Mr. J. W.. Callan, Supervisor of Hotels in the Northern Territory, states that as an investment the control of the sale of liquor in the Territory has proved “ an unqualified success.”
Mr. Callan says that such a result was perhaps to be expected from a monopoly, but the public was not being charged more for liquor than the ruling rates in the southern States of Australia.
On the subject of intemperance the supervisor said it was not excessive considering all the factors bearing. on it in relation to the population of the Territory, and comparing the signs of it there with his observations in other cities and towns, and also ‘in Darwin, before the Government took over the control. He expressed the view that “the continued and untiring efforts of all concerned must keep on being crowned with more and more success in overcoming it. Several prominent men who had visited the Territory had complimented the Department in this direction. If any person is found ‘ to be “ under the influence,” his name is taken and instructions given managers of hotels regarding him.
It is quite obvious that the supervisor of the State hotels can only see success attending his particular Department; we can scarcely expect him to be prepared to agree that there is any ground for dissatisfaction. However, he cannot be accepted as a competent judge in the matter, seeing that obviously he is not impartial. My belief that there is considerable public dissatisfaction is strengthened by the files of the newspapers published in the Northern Territory. I have here pages taken from the Northern Territory
Times and Gazette, in every issue of which are long letters or leading articles on the question. , I am willing to admit that it is easy to infer or deduce from some of these articles and letters that they emanate from some disgruntled publican or publican’s friend ; but from others that is not at all to be concluded. May I read one or two short extracts from the many pages which I would not venture to inflict on the House. In the issue of the Northern Territory Times and Gazette, dated Saturday, 16th February, 1918, there is a leading article headed “State Hotels,” in which, inter alia, we find-
The State hotels ar.e manifestly on wrong lines. They are proving a bane, and not a blessing. They are existing almost solely on liquor dispensaries, and the quality of their wares is seriously questioned.
When the State assumed ownership’, a great opportunity offered for reform by way of making the hotels social centres of an approved type. Man is essentially a social animal, and Darwin offers little by way of social attractions. The State as hotel proprietor might reasonably have been expected to make strenuous efforts to strengthen the moral and social side of the institution, and to reduce to a minimum the degrading influences following on the abuse of intoxicants. . . . drunkenness is prevalent, and the hotels are in shocking disrepute. And with the moat damning evidence daily before us we have reluctantly found ourselves in duty bound to assert that the State is engaged in a .trade which is degrading its citizens.
In the same newspaper of 16th February, there is a long letter signed by “ Disgusted,” who says, inter alia -
The whole circumstances connected with the acquisition of the various hotels in the Northern Territory have been deplorable, and the results which have arisen therefrom have proved even a hundred times more deplorable. . .
Judging from the fact that there is so much drunkenness and disgusting language rampant at the State hotels and so seldom any police interference, it would certainly appear that State hotels are a law unto themselves in all matters, and the licensing laws of South Australia, and even the jocular ordinances respecting sanitation, overcrowding, health, size of rooms, &c, which at one time were so effectively used . to hinder and annoy hotelkeepers and property-owners who did not belong to the caterpillar club, are now more honoured in the breach than the observance. . . .
The State hotels at Darwin, according to generally accepted ideas, were established for the purpose of putting down the sly grogshops, supplying the public with comfortable accommodation and decent grog at reasonable prices, and to decrease the amount of drunkenness. Not a single one of these objectives have yet been realized, nor, under .existing conditions, are they ever likely to be. The State hotels at Darwin are a standing disgrace to the Commonwealth Government.
One other extract from the same newspaper of the 23rd February will suffice -
The Supervisor of State Hotels, Mr. J. W. Callan, interviewed on the conduct of State hotels and recent criticism, put up a spirited defence. He holds that the hotels are proving a blessing, not a bane, that the quality of the liquor is good, that sly grog-establishments are a negligible quantity, that programmes for improvement have long since been launched, and only await time and money for accomplishment.
Recent issues of that newspaper disclose that the public indignation is even more marked because of that statement of the supervisor than it waa before. As I have said, the supervisor cannot be taken as an authority on the matter; he is not; and cannot be expected to be, an impartial judge, and it would be much more reliable for the Commonwealth to estimate the public view of the matter from the letters that appear in the public prints.
– You would not apply that doctrine generally?
– Certainly not; but the liquor business enters into the social life of the community in a way that very few other institutions do. Everybody is more or less interested, and we may generally arrive at the feeling of the public on a social question of that sort more clearly by the attitude of the newspapers and the letters therein than on any other subject. Some time last year, I quoted from an article in the Brisbane Courier, written by Mr. MacMahon, who had visited the Territory. That gentleman’s writings regarding Northern Australia, Papua, and German New Guinea are now very freely quoted; indeed, several magazines to-day are publishing his articles as those of a recognised authority. Although I do not agree with him in his general deductions in some directions, I must say that he draws a very vivid, lurid picture of the condition of things in Darwin re the State hotels. I remember that when I quoted extracts from his report, the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Bamford), who had . recently left the Department of Home and Territories, followed me in the debate, and expressed the opinion that Mr. MacMahon’s statements were, unfortunately, corroborated by independent testimony, and, in his opinion, the only remedy for the evil of the liquor business in the Northern Territory was prohibition. I am not suggesting that the Government is disposed to favorably consider such a policy.
– I think it is.
– I should be delighted to know that the Government is even inclined in that direction. As I stated, I asked, on the 12th April, whether the Government would allow the people in the Territory an opportunity to decide the question, and I have had a motion on the notice-paper ever since this Parliament opened, to the effect that such opportunity should be given, and that prohibition should there be the law in regard to liquor. One wonders, really, in view of the world-wide events at the present time, and the tremendous agitation that is convulsing all nations in regard to the liquor traffic, why the Government hesitate to allow the people of the Northern Territory, if not, indeed, the people of the whole of Australia, to determine this matter for themselves. If the Government are afraid - if- they lack the necessary courage to do the big thing, or to risk even a mistake in attempting to do the big thing - are they prepared to allow the people of the Northern Territory to determine the matter? Surely they might be expected to know best, if not what is best for them, at any rate what they would prefer. After all, democratic government is based on the fact that the people, who bear the burden of the cost, ought to have a direct say and control in the conduct of public affairs. Unfortunately, the people of the Territory are not represented in this Chamber, and have no voice, not only in legislation, but in’ the control of their own affairs. The Government appoints the Administrator and all the officials; in short, it manages everything. If other branches of administration in the Northern Territory are as open to strong censure as is this particular Department, it is no wonder that the condition of affairs as disclosed in governmental reports, and particularly in the financial statements, calls forth criticism so severe. I ask the Postmaster-General to bring this matter under the notice of the Minister for Home and Territories. When the Estimates are before us, I intend to return to my criticism of the administration pf the Northern ‘Territory. Some months ago, I referred to events which have re cently taken place there, and made certain statements regarding the administration which were not, and cannot be, successfully contradicted. In this case, an. immediate remedy can be found, public dissatisfaction can be set at rest, and the Government can show that it desires to do its best for a section of the people who, by reason of their situation, have to suffer many disabilities. I hope that relief may be afforded at an early date.
, in his peculiar speech, referred to the attitude of the Labour party of Australia towards the war as “bandy-legged’’ and “cockeyed,” and he said that no other Labour party elsewhere had taken up a similar attitude. His. confusion concerning the ideals of Labour in British-speaking countries, recall the anecdote of the scholar who, at an examination, wrote of Oliver Cromwell - confusing him with Cardinal Wolsey - that on his death-bed his complaint was, “ Would I had served my God as I have served my King.” The attitude of the British Labour party towards the present world-wide cataclysm is set out pretty clearly in the following letter, written by the president of the Birmingham Trades Council, which has a membership of 100,000 workers. It was addressed to the. Lord Mayor of Birmingham, and was published in the Labour Leader on the 20th December last. It reads as follows : - 3rd December, 1917.
My Lord Mayor,
I desire to thank you very sincerely for the kind invitation to be present at the Asquith dinner on the 11th inst., as president of the Birmingham Trades Council, but regret that it is quite impossible for me to accept the same.
In common with the workers generally, I find we have been entirely misled as to the objects of the war, and that, while the invasion of Belgium provided a “good cry” for the Government, quite apart from that, this country was committed to fight with France as far back as. 1911 (if not earlier) if she. were unhappily involved in war, through Russia or otherwise. The Morocco business of 1911 proves that.
Further, the publication of certain secret treaties reveal that the Allies were after more territory, notwithstanding the oft-repeated fable that “we went into this war with clean hands.” Hence the necessity for us to come out of it with empty hands.
So far, no responsible statesman has stated definitely what are the war aims of the Allies save Lord Lansdowne in Ms fine letter, recently, wherein he shows what they should he. But he is repudiated by the War Cabinet and the Government (Northcliff ) press.
One would have thought the Government would have been intelligent enough to have appreciated Kerensky’s position in Russia, and the necessity of clearly defining her war aims if Russia was to be retained as her Ally.
When asked to co-operate with the Local War Aims Committee, the Labour party instructed its secretary to write the Central War Aims Committee to enlighten the party as to the objects of the war, and, failing to obtain an intelligent reply, decided it could not cooperate. Since then, we have hoped and waited in vain for a clear and unmistakable statement. For that we still wait, and, more important still, for perfect liberty to discuss same when published.
We have’ heard that one of the aims of the war was “ to make the world safe for Democracy,” but here at Home Democracy is. muzzled; and, what with conscription (industrial and military), D’Ora the extension of the censorship to pamphlets, &c, the unequal distribution of food, and the food profiteer, we begin to wonder if one of the unavowed war aims of this country’s ruling class is to break the power and organization of the workers here at home.
Millions of lives have been sacrificed, and the sacrifice is to continue, apparently - and for what?
My Lord Mayor, I extremely regret having to write you thus. To do otherwise would be insincere on my part. I have the greatest respect for you as a gentleman and a citizen who has worthily discharged the duties of a high office in a time of great difficulty with conspicuous ability and success.
I am, my Lord Mayor, yours sincerely,
Then, in the February issue of Current History, a magazine that strongly supports the Allies, the following statements are made in an article on “ The “War Aims of Labour Parties “ -
Since the Bolsheviki at Brest-Litovsk forced the German leaders to come out into the open as avowed annexationists the temper of the common people throughout the Central Empires has undergone a change. The working of this new and potent influence called M. Litvinoff, Bolshevist Ambassador to Great Britain, in his speech before the Labour Congress at Nottingham, to declare, “ We can already hear the rumbling of a storm in Austria from the results of Brest-Litovsk.”
The message of the French Socialists to the Bolsheviki, printed in the pages that follow, is another phase of the same movement. The war aims of the British Labour unions and those of the Socialists of the continental coun. tries, while differing widely on the point of a German peace, are so nearly alike in other essentials as to give an impression of general solidarity. Upon this solidarity their leaders have based the recent assertion that if the statesmen do not soon make a peace the workers will get together at Stockholm or elsewhere and do it themselves.
Under the heading, “ British . Labour’s War Aims,” it is stated that -
One of the steps leading up to the Nottingham resolution was a memorandum on “Labour’s War Aims,” issued 17th December, 1917, by the Labour party through its secretary, Mr. Henderson. The memorandum was passed by the parliamentary committee of the Trade Union Congress and the execntive of the Labour party. It declares “ that whatever may have been the cause of the outbreak of the war, it is clear that the peoples of Europe, who are necessarily the chief sufferers from its horrors, had themselves no hand in it.” And that “whatever may have been the objects for which the war was begun, the fundamental purpose of the British Labour movement, in supporting the continuance of the struggle, is that the world may henceforth be made safe for Democracy. …
The British Labour movement emphatically insists that a foremost condition of peace must be the reparation by the German Government, under the direction of an International Commission, of the wrong admittedly done to Belgium; payment by that Government for all the damage that has resulted from this wrong; and the restoration of Belgium to complete and untrammelled independent sovereignty, leaving to the decision’ of the Belgian people the determination of their own future policy in all respects.
That sounds like the manifestoes of the State Conferences of the Labour party in Australia -
The British Labour movement re-affirms its reprobation of the crime against the people of the world by which Alsace and Lorraine were forcedly torn from France in 1871; a political blunder, the effects of which have contributed in no small degree to the continuance of unrest and the growth of militarism in Europe; and profoundly sympathizing with the unfortunate inhabitants of Alsace and Lorraine who have been subjected to so much repression, asks, In accordance with the declaration of the French Socialists, that they shall be allowed, under the protection of the supernational authority, or league of nations, freely to decide what shall be their future political position.
In the same magazine is an article entitled, “ British Labour’s Message to the Bolsheviki,” which says -
Again the British Labour party placed itself on record regarding war issues on 15th January, 1918, in a message to the Russian people and an appeal to the peoples of Central Europe. The message was prepared by the Labour party in conjunction with the Parliamentary Committee of the Trade Union Congress. The text reads -
We have reached a crisis in the war. The negotiations at Brest Litovsk have been interrupted because the Germans have refused to admit the principle of selfdetermination of peoples and the doctrine of no annexations. In thus acting, the Central -Powers are speaking clearly in the name of a militarist State.
In this crisis the British people must speak, because the Russians can only succeed in their great and perilous task if supported by the people everywhere. The British people must proclaim to Russia and the Central Powers that its aim is identical with Russia’s; that we, too, see no solution for the evils of militarism except self-determination and no indemnities.
In applying the Russian principle to our own case, we are conscious of the problems raised, but we do not shrink therefxom. The British people accept the principle of no annexation for the British Empire. This applies in our case to the Middle East, Africa, and India.
We wish to remind the Russian people that Great Britain, taught by the loss of the American colonies in the 18th century, was the first modern State to grant complete self-determination to any group of its inhabitants, for example, the Dominions of Canada, Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand. We accept the principle also for India and other Dependencies of the British Empire, though we believe that the record of the British Government here gives little occasion for reproach.
We intend to meet this by more rapid development of self-government. We respect the sovereign independence of the Turkish people in their national home, but we believe that the domination of their Government over other people is a hindrance to their own national development. Our Government is pledged to some of- these people - Arabs, Palestinians, Armenians - that the Ottoman rule shall not again be imposed on them. This responsibility shall be undertaken by the Peace Conference, and a permanent international organization, that we hope will be there constituted.
In tropical Africa we repeat our renunciation of annexation. Nobody contends that the black races can govern themselves. They can only make it known that the particular Government under which they have been living is bad in some or all respects, and indicate the specific evils from which they desire liberation. We believe that the Peace Conference, would be well advised to place all tropical Africa under uniform international control.
We adjure the peoples of Central Europe to declare themselves to make their Governments speak for them in answer to Russia and ourselves. We call on them to renounce annexations in Europe with the same good faith in which we are renouncing them in Asia. We call on them to give the same self-determination to the French, Alsacian, Italian, Polish, and Danish members of their States as Russia has given to Finland, Courland, Lithuania, and Russian Poland. . . .
The family interests of dynasties, or the desire of the German, Austrian, or Magyar governing classes to dominate other classes and nationalities must no more be suffered to prevent self-determination in Central Europe, and thereby imperil it in Europe as a whole, than the interests of British Imperialism or British capitalism must be suffered to do elsewhere.
– They have changed that view since the Russian experience.
– If they have, they must have had some strong local reasons for doing so.
– The Russian peace has been very disappointing.
– The Russian people are not as badly off as they were when they were our Allies.
– That is questionable.
– This article continues -
Peoples of Central Europe, this catastrophe of the human race, this fatal schism in the civilized world, can only be ended by the defeat of militarism on both sides and by the victory on both sides of moral and intellectual fair dealing. If the world is to be saved, it must be saved by good faith and reciprocity on’ the part of all. Do not fail us now. Do not let your Governments drive the British people, as they are driving the Russian people, into the terrible choice between continuing the war and abandoning the only principles that can save the world. If this choice is forced upon us, we shall choose as Russia chose. We shall continue, but the responsibility will be yours.
I have read to the House the complete message of the British Labour party to the Bolsheviki. I have not sought to suppress, as the press of Melbourne does, to distort Labour’s attitude in Britain for the purpose of hoodwinking the people of Australia into the belief that the British working classes, through their industrial and political organizations, take up a different stand from that of the Australian Labour party.
– The honorable member knows that the British Labour party take a very different stand. The British unions have , suspended all their rules in regard to labour during the war.
– Did the engineers agree to do so ? The Engineers Society is the most powerful -organization in -Great Britain.
– They have their brothers in Australia.
– Of course they have. I have quoted a letter from the president of the Birmingham Trades Council, in which he stated the attitude of the Labour party in regard to the War Aims Council, and expressed his opinion that the proceedings of that council left on the minds of the British workers the impression that one of the undisplayed aims of the British war party was the enslavement of British workers in their own country.
– No ; peace by negotiation is their policy now.
– It is not.” On page 201 of this publication it is stated -
Opposing Imperialism in all countries, the memorandum declares that the British Labour movement relies largely upon the complete democratization of all Governments, on the abolition of compulsory military service everywhere, and on the establishment, through the coming peace treaty, of a supernational authority, or league of nations, with appropriate legislative machinery, and the necessary power to enforce its decrees.
– The Bolsheviki advocated that. -
– That is in complete harmony with the Australian Labour party’s manifesto as adopted by four.- State Conferences.
– That does not say much for it.
– Have they advocated the return of the German colonies?
– They have accepted the Russian formula of no annexations and no indemnities.
– Are we seeking more territory ? I think the Government ought to tell us that.
– The policy of the British Labour party is selfdetermination in regard to all territories but. AlsaceLorraine, and they do not agree that the German colonies -should be returned to Germany.
– The British Labour party have placed on record their acceptance of the Russian formula of no annexations and no indemnities.
– That was a long time ago.
– On the contrary, my information is very much up-to-date. I have read these extracts from representative journals for the purpose of showing the misguided enthusiasts on the Government side that, when they accuse the Australian Labour party of not being in harmony with the British Labour party, they do not know what they are talking about.
– I say they are not in harmony.
– Everybody knows that.
– Listen, to the remarks ‘of the friends of the British Labour party ! Their statements are almost too ludicrous for words.
– We know more about the British Labour party than does the honorable member.
– I believe that in some respects the honorable member does, but he takes care to suppress the knowledge he possesses, because it is opposed to his interests.
– I wish the honorable member had at heart the interests pf the Empire as much as have the members of the British Labour party.
– I propose now to deal with the administration of the censorship in Victoria. The Australian, Worker of Thursday, 25th April, contains the following letter: -
Will Governor StayHanging?
For nearly two years the whole world has rang with what is undoubtedly the most diabolical judicial “ frame-up “ ever perpetrated on a Labour leader. Unless the Governor of California officially stays the hanging of Tom Mooney, convicted on a charge of murder, he will swing at the end of the hangman’s rope the first Friday in May.
Last week, in answer to an urgent appeal, the matter was considered by the Sydney Trades and Labour Council, and following a resolution a cable message was despatched direct to Governor Stephens, of California, urging a review of the whole case.
We have received from Tom Mooney direct an appeal dated March 4 last to the workers > of Australia, in which a brief history of the “ frame-up “ is outlined. Tom Mooney’s letter is as follows: - “ The judicial fight is over, so far as my life is concerned, but we have the Executive to appeal to. The Governor of California is now the only man who can officially stay my hanging or give me my liberty. By the time this letter will have reached you I will be placed in a death cell at San Quentin Penitentiary, ready to be served up the hangman’s snare. I have sent literature to your country giving all of the facts about our now worldwide known case, which I hope has reached, your hands by this time. I am now making my final appeal to you and your fellow-workers in your home land. Solidarity of Labour throughout the world is the only weapon that can stay the powerful hand of this criminal gang of . ‘ Law and Order ‘ bandits that are thirsting for our innocent blood. ‘ Law and Order ‘ is the guise they masquerade under, but a bigger hunch of lawless bandits never went unhung. They are of the broadcloth and silken gowns; they are THE people in high places. “Briefly our case runs something like this: - “ On July 22, 1916, a bomb was thrown into a preparedness parade; ten people we’re killed and forty injured. No effort was made to apprehend the real criminals responsible for this dastardly crime. Myself, along with my wife and three companions, were arrested, held incomunicado separately in prison for eight days without opportunity to see attorneys, relatives or friends. We were indicted for the crime - eight charges of murder against each. “Warren K. Billings was first put on trial. He was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment; an appeal in his case was denied, and he is now serving his sentence. I was placed on trial second, and was also convicted. Subsequently not one but many exposures of perjury in the testimony given against Billings and myself have come to light. These exposures destroy the State’s case, but in California they go on with it just the same. Mrs. Mooney was third to be tried for her life, and was acquitted. Weinberg was fourth to be tried, and was acquitted in twenty minutes on the . first ballot, without the jury even discussing the evidence. One of Weinberg’s jurors declared it was an insult to ask any intelligent man to convict on such a silly charge. “In spite of the acquittals of Mrs. Mooney and Weinberg, they are still held in gaol, and even denied bail. The prosecutor says he will try and try them until he gets a conviction. “ My appeal from the conviction and death sentence imposed upon me by the jury was denied on March 1 by the California Supreme Court. “Lenin, now Premier of Russia, during the first days of the revolution, led a demonstration to the American Embassy to protest against the hanging of active men and women in the Labour movement of America, though innocent of any crime. This, with other protests in many countries of the world, and especially all over the United States of America, caused President Wilson to create a special Mediation Commission to investigate these cases and all of the surrounding circumstances, and they recommended that the President of the United States of America use his good office to secure for Tom Mooney and Warren KL. Billings a new trial, but in spite of this the Supreme Court has denied same. Now the only alternative is for the Governor of California to pardon me, and in this way the District Attorney can place me on trial on one of the remaining indictments pending, against me. “But that gang of criminals that hired perjury with which to hang me upon the gallows don’t want such to take place, because their last job was muddled, and they are now on trial themselves, and. know that in another trial before a jury of my peers, with evidence free from perjury, I would be acquitted on a moment’s notice. They are now fighting for their own reputations, and will stop at nothing, even the rape of justice, in order that their desire may be gratified. * “ Labour alone, the world over, is the only power that can compel this power to give us justice. If it is within your power to do so, I know of no greater service your branch of the World Movement of Labour could be to us than to duplicate in your country what Lenin caused to take place in his. If it is possible for you to raise any funds for us in your home land, we sure need them badly, for if I ever do get another trial every power within the reach of the enemy of organized Labour will be brought to bear so that’ I. will again be convicted by the aid of perjury and bribery and fixed juries. This criminal gang of bandits will stop at nothing. I hope you will use your valuable paper to give the facts about this case the widest possible publicity in your country, and if possible try to enlist in this campaign other papers of the Socialist and Labour movement in your country. “I might go on for hours, yes, days, and even > weeks, and I could not tell you all of the facts about this case. There is such a wealth of material, and you know that the average person does not like much reading. “My fate will be finally decided within the next two months. I do not know if any action or publicity has been taken or given to our case in your country, as I have, not seen any record of it in any of your papers. However, I have not seen all of your papers; in fact, I have seen only a very few of them. “ Eight thousand workers in Seattle, Washington, U.S.A., held a great demonstration in the form of a big mass meeting and’ parade. They resolved that they would call a general strike on the first day of May this year if we were not released by that time. This same spirit is spreading to other quarters in this country, and if not heeded or unchecked, will gain ground that will result in a nation-wide, and, maybe, a world-wide strike on that day, unless those who are in a position can stop it by seeing justice done to us. “ I know your cause in your home land has just come out of a severe struggle, and at this distance I am unable to realize how much you can assist us in our great fight for the right of a fair and free trial for all workers. “ My co-defendants join me in hearty greetings to the workers of Australia. - I anr, yours for Industrial Freedom, “Tom Mooney.”
Mr. - Webster. - It sounds like Tom Barker.
– Tom Mooney in America is having, perhaps, the same experience that Tom Barker had in Australia at the hands of the present Government. This man’s case is similar, in many respects, to the HeywardPettiboneMoyer trial in America some years ago, where the authorities tried, by means of trumped-up charges, to railroad to the gallows the officials of the Western. Federation of Miners Union. In this instance the President of the United States, responding to the appeals of workers in other countries, appointed a special Committee to inquire into the facts, and that Committee recommended that the man should be given a new trial. The Supreme Court of the United States, however, has refused a new trial, and Mooney is now appealing to the workers of other lands to intervene in his behalf.
This letter from. Tom Mooney was published in the Sydney Worker, but when the editor of the Socialist, published in Melbourne, proposed to reprint it in his newspaper, the censor in Victoria refused to allow1 him to do so. By no stretch of the imagination can it be said that the publication of this letter in the Socialist would be likely to give military information of value to the enemy.
– But the writer of that letter advocates a revolution.
– The Honorary Minister (Mr. Poynton) is under a misapprehension. Mooney simply points out that Lenin, in the early days of the revolution in Russia, led a monster deputation to the United States Embassy, to protest against this kind of thing going on, and he asked whether similar action cannot be taken by the workers in the other countries with which he has communicated. There is not a word about revolution in his letter.
– Lenin advocated revolution. The honorable member is simply placing his own interpretation on the facts.
– I am not. If the honorable gentleman wishes to wilfully misinterpret this letter he can do so.
– Mooney evidently knew who threw the bomb, since he says that the man who threw it was not arrested.
– He does not say that. He says that no action was taken by the authorities to secure the actual perpetrator of the offence.
– But he must have known who threw the bomb.
– The PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Webster) is simply displaying his prejudice and vindictiveness. I am glad that Mooney’s life and liberty do not depend upon tie honorable gentleman. No one can justify the action of the censor in Victoria in refusing to allow the publication of this letter in the
Socialist, seeing that it had already appeared in the Sydney Worker. President Wilson himself has intervened on behalf of this man in response to the representations of the workers of other countries. The Government should not lend themselves to the sort of censorship that is going on here. It is about time that the censorship was confined strictly . to the specific purpose for which the Government said it was brought into operation. There is no justification for making flesh of one and fish of another in this matter.
– But if the censor in New South Wales blundered in permitting the publication of this letter in the Sydney Worker, is there any reason why that blunder should be repeated here?
– But was it a blunder? The two censors speak with different voices. It would, seem that a man can be dealt with, not for a breach of the censorship regulations, but for a breach of the interpretation placed upon the regulations by a particular censor. If the censorship is designed to prevent the publication of anything detrimental to the cause of the Allies, I contend that it should operate equitably all over Australia. This is not the only incident of the kind. I had occasion to visit the censor in Victoria quite recently. One of our people at Broken Hill wrote a book on the industrial history of the Barrier, and had it printed in this State. In that book he referred to the formation of the Labour Volunteer Army, and printed the pledge that the members of that army take. That pledge had already been published in all the daily newspapers in Australia. The ‘military authorities allowed it to be published while the conscription referendum was in progress, but the censor here refused to allow it to appear in this book. The writer made a reference, also, to a disturbance that occurred at Broken Hill, and remarked that some of those who took part in it had never smelt powder in the trenches. That reference also was cut out of the book by the censor, despite the fact that statements of the kind had appeared in the Age, the Argus, the Sydney Daily Telegraph, the Sydney Morning Herald, and other newspapers which are opposed to the Labour party. Our papers and publications are not allowed to publish what may appear in the newspapers that support our political opponents. s
– What did the censor say in reply to your representations?
– He said that these particular references in the book in question could not be permitted ‘ since they were detrimental to recruiting. He admitted that he had control of the metropolitan area, and when I asked him why Melbourne newspapers had been allowed to publish the same kind of matter, his reply was, “ That has nothing to do with the question. These statements are detrimental to recruiting, and cannot be allowed to appear in the book.” That kind of administration is absolutely futile, and is calculated only to stir up trouble and dissension in the country. The people may fairly ask why the censor refuses to allow the Labour and Socialist newspapers to publish matter that is permitted to appear in the daily newspapers that support our political opponents.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.^5 p.m.
– I have referred to the differential treatment by the censors of Labour and Socialist journals, as compared with their treatment of Liberal and Nationalist daftly and weekly publications in Australia. If the editor of a Labour or Socialist journal wishes to republish a statement which has already appeared in. a Liberal or Nationalist organ, he is not permitted to do so, and if he does so in defiance of the censor he must put up with the pains and penalties of the law. The honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Finlayson) has referred to the publications the introduction of which into Australia is prohibited. Even the elected representatives of the people of Australia responsible for the carrying on of the government of the country are not permitted to know what is being published in Labour journals in England, unless they can secure their introduction surreptitiously. Even members of this Parliament are not permitted to know what is taking place, at the heart of the Empire by the perusal of literature the publication of which, is permitted in England. That is a scandalous state of things.
– The reason for that is that there is conscription in England, and there is not conscription here.
– That is to say that if the people of Australia knew the facts, there would be a great falling off in recruiting.
– No, there would be a keener desire for conscription.
– Then I shall expect the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) to join with me in urging the removal of the prohibition against the introduction of this literature. I am willing to run the risk of a change in the opinion of the people of Australia on the subject of conscription if the honorable member is prepared to join with me in urging the removal of this prohibition.
– I should like to join with the honorable member in going to the Front if the authorities would take me.
– On another occasion I shall deal with that aspect of the matter fully, to the satisfaction of the honorable member. The people of Australia are in the matter of the censorship and the prohibition of literature being treated like children. In the home circle a moral censorship is often established, and the children are not permitted to read certain newspapers or periodicals. The present Government are treating the people of Australia in precisely the same manner. They arrogate to themselves the right to say what the people shall be permitted to read, and what views may be placed before them. They further say that members of this Parliament shall not be allowed to form any opinion as to what is taking place elsewhere, except through literature that passes the censorship of the Win-the-war Government, That is the kind of Government that went on under the Czar.
– I think it was a Labour Government that appointed the censor.
– I do not care whether a Labour or any other Government is responsible for legislation placed on the statute-book, if I consider it inimical to the interests of the people I shall raise my voice against it.
– The honorable member will be brought to heel like the rest of them.
– Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof. I hope that my experience, when I am brought to heel, will not be so unhappy as that of the honorable member for Grey (Mr. Poynton).
– T was never happier in my life.
– The honorable gentleman dissembles his happiness very successfully. Honorable members would do well to peruse the list of publications the introduction of which has been prohibited. They have a very wide range. There are the publications of the Society of Friends in England, such as Whence Comes War? This is a scientific investigation of the causes that lead to war, and various aspects which are factors in determining wars. Then there are two publications by the temperance societies.
– Does the honorable member belong to those bodies?
– I do not have to belong to a particular organization to urge that it should be given a fair deal. There are on the list Arthur Mee’s pamphlets Defeat and The Fiddlers. They have been prohibited, though I suppose honorable members have read them, as they all received copies of them. They were issued by the temperance societies, not with any view to interfere with recruiting, or to prevent the Allies from winning the war, but to point out to soldiers the dangers of the alleged evils of the drink traffic. These publications are put on the Index Expurgatorius. Then there is Labour’s Volunteer Army Song Book, published at Broken Hill. I suppose it is assumed that if honorable members were permitted to read one of the songs composed by one of the chaps at Broken Hill during the anti-conscription campaign they would become disloyal, and it might have a detrimental effect upon the prosecution’ of the war. There is also on the list the publication Shall all People talk Peace, printed for the Australian Peace Alliance, and there is Labour Union Socialism and Socialist Labour Unionism, works published long before the war, and that have nothing to do with the war, or the conduct of it.
– Then why bother about them now?
– Why do the Government put them on the index? They have nothing to do with either winning or losing the war, and the only reason for putting them on the index is apparently because certain economic interests would be menaced by the spread of these doctrines of Labour Socialism.
– People at the present time have practically a licence to do as they please.
– They have no licence to do anything in this country except starve or go to the war.
– Perhaps the honorable member would like to go to Germany.
– I do not think I should like the company I should find in Germany any more than I like the company I find here.
– Apparently the honorable member puts both on the same plane.
– In some cases, yes.
I turu now to the consideration of another matter’ which arose in connexion with the Recruiting Conference convened by His Excellency the GovernorGeneral. At page 26 of the report of the proceedings of -the Conference, I find that Mr. Tudor, referring to certain men who were imprisoned in connexion with the general strike, said -
I understand from the morning papers that they are to he released to-day.
Mr. RYAN. ; They are to be released in a day or two.
Mr. BEEBY. ; But there are the cases of men at Broken Hill who, in connexion with the strike, were convicted of conspiracy and of pulling the fires out of a boiler and damaging property. In other cases there should be no difficultly.
These men at Broken Hill were to be made exceptions to the proposed amnesty of prisoners in connexion with the last general strike. At page 37 of the report Mr. Peake, the Premier of South Australia, referring to the matter, said -
Let us first see if every one of them is in the nature of a case which ought to be remedied. If it is, let us get to the remedying of it as quickly as possible. But when the question of the imprisonment of a certain number of men, or the refusal to employ a certain number of men, is put forward in this connexion, I want to know positively what were the reasons for the imprisonment or the discharge of those individuals. I have a right to know the reasons, because these men were convicted of breaches of the criminal law.
Mr. COLLIER.; Not criminal.
Mr. PEAKE. ; I regard it as a crime for any man to have assisted in any movement for the prevention of the supplying of munitions from’ Broken Hill, or of the departure of troopships or wheat ships from our shores. I regard it as a crime against the Empire.
– Hear, hear!
– Does the honorable member indorse that?
– I certainly do not. The men who were imprisoned in connexion with the strike at Broken Hill were no more criminals than is the honorable member for Echuca (Mr. Palmer). The men convicted by the police magistrate at Broken Hill, and the men acquitted by a jury of their countrymen at Deniliquin were no more criminals than is any honorable member on the opposite side. The”se individuals, at the time of the general strike, went up to the mines to see if there were any men working there. The men placed on their trial at Deniliquin were acquitted, with the exception of two against whom precisely the same evidence was submitted, but in addition it- was said that they had belonged to the Industrial Workers of the World organization. That was the only circumstance which, in my opinion, secured their conviction. All the other men charged with the same alleged crime were acquitted. The trial of the balance of the men committed for trial at Deniliquin was cancelled by the State authorities of New South Wales because of the result of the Deniliquin trial. These men were sent back to be tried before the same magistrate, who had committed them for trial, and whose bias is well known in Broken Hill; and he sentenced them to six months’ imprisonment each.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I understand that there are between 4,000 and 5,000 enemy subjects interned at Holdsworthy, near Sydney. We all know, although we cannot prove it, that these men have many sympathisers outside, and we hear through the newspapers that occasionally some of them escape, probably with the connivance of persons outside. Has it ever occurred to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence to imagine what might happen if, instead of two or three escaping, 2,000 got out with the aid of sympathisers outside, secured arms, commandeered a train, and went to Sydney ? Half of the city could be burnt down, and many people could be killed before the troops could arrive. As there are few soldiers stationed in Sydney itself, the only persons who -could intercept them would be the police. A gentleman who looks upon the proximity of this internment camp to Sydney as a menace to the city has drawn my attention to this possible danger. We all know that there are startling rumours abroad concerning the presence of enemy raiders on the coast, and that infantry have been posted in certain places, and aeroplanes have been stationed along the coast. All these things tend to promote a feeling of alarm among the .people. For that reason, I ask the Minister if he does1 not think this danger that I have pointed out is ‘one that needs careful investigation in order to see whether it would not be in the interests of the people of Sydney to remove these internees to a place further inland, where they would be less likely to be a menace. How would the people of Melbourne like to have a large camp of enemy subjects, all of them able-bodied men, and nearly all of them trained, within 25 miles of the city ? What could be done if they broke out at midnight? Th’ey could do a great deal of damage.
I have recently visited Cockatoo Island, where there is a large number of men engaged in shipbuilding. There is a feeling of discontent among the old, experienced servants of the Crown employed in that dockyard, because they are being superseded by what are called “pommies,” or new chums. I do not wish to labour the question, because it is not a “matter that concerns my . own electorate, but I have spoken to the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) about the matter, and I know that he has already voiced those men’s grievances in the House on two or ‘three occasions. Manual workers in the employment of the Government are just as much entitled to consideration as are men doing lighter work in offices. lt is quite natural for men to, look for promotion after having been in the employment of the Government for a number of years, and they should not be passed over by others who have not had the same amount of service.
I called attention the other day to a case in connexion with the Stores Department, where a draftsman had been appointed over the heads of the experienced storemen. That sort of thing creates a strong feeling of discontent. It also leads to a tremendous expense in teaching these novices the work, which might be avoided by appointing the proper experienced men by promotion. I have already called attention to the extravagance which takes place in that Department. Although the Minister told me, at the time, that he did not think there was anything in my complaint, I understand that a saving of at least £20 to £30 per week has been effected in regard to the excrescences to which I called attention, and there are many more requiring notice. It is hard to give details without giving names. The men have been very candid to me, and they would he very candid to the Minister if he would give them his word that they would not be victimized. A man who has been in a certain employment, for twenty years, and has built up a little home for his wife and family is not likely to run the risk of having everything swept away in one act. Of course, he is not victimized in a straight-out fashion, but he becomes a marked man.
If the Honorary Minister in charge of the Navy Department will look into this question at Cockatoo Island, he will find that there is great room for reform, and that he can save a great deal of money. At any rate, he could have the work carried out much more expeditiously. There are men there who have been in our employment for fifteen to twenty years, who have almost sufficient practical knowledge to take charge of the dockyard. Many of them are foremen who could practically turn out a ship. Yet these men are being superseded, by new chums, who do not know much about their work, and, in fact, have to go for guidance to the men they are bossing. This is not the method the Government should follow if it desires to get good service from its employees.
– I am going to Cockatoo Island on Monday, and if the honorable member will supply me with the information I promise to go into the matter.
– I will be very glad to give the Honorary Minister the information, and I will leave the matter there, for I know that he will do what he says he will do. These men are only working men, but they are entitled to the same consideration as is shown to highly -paid men.
When the Honorary Minister is in Sydney he might also ask some of the practical men there whether something can-‘ not be done in the way of building, wooden ships. Although we are all assured that steel vessels are the best, if the best is not obtainable we must accept the second best. After the war the great question confronting us will be the provision of transports for our merchandise and produce.
– I am doing my best now in regard to the matter. I have not been in office for a couple of months, but I have been negotiating with a number of people. I am sorry to say that I have not been very successful in getting men to take on the building of wooden
– At Jervis Bay big barges for coastal trade have been built. There is a large supply of timber there; it is already being exported to America for shipbuilding purposes, and there are men, practical men, there whoare now unemployed. The same conditions apply in the North, particularly at Port Stephens.
– I am open to consider any offer.
– It is easy for the Honorary Minister to say that he is open to consider any offer, but it is his business .to foster this industry and look into suitable places for shipbuilding. There is one family at Jervis Bay the members of which have been building ships all their lives.
– I will furnish the honorable member with specifications and the price rates for the building of wooden ships.
– I can put the Honorary Minister in touch- with the men. I am much obliged to him for his promise. The honorable member, for Dalley can substantiate the statements I have made in regard to Cockatoo Island. I hope that the results of the Minister’s visit will be to put the old experienced servants of the Commonwealth on a better wicket.
If the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Nicholls) had been in the chamber I would have tendered him my best thanks for the service he has rendered to the Eden-Monaro district by pointing out the unsatisfactory and unfortunate, conditions which prevail at Lithgow; but because the Government employ a large body of men for a certain time it does not necessarily follow that those men should always claim that the Government must keep them in employment. The unfortunate employees at Lithgow are brought out from their work by troubles among themselves, but they cannot expect that the Government should be regarded as bound to keep on finding employment for them at Lithgow. That is the worst of the day-labour system. It does away with competition. We should have more contract work and more private enterprise under proper supervision.
– Of course!
– I know that the honorable member does not agree with me. He believes in the go-slow policy, but the time has come when we cannot afford to continue the day-labour “ go-slow “ system. Last night the whole cry from honorable members opposite was on behalf of unfortunate men who would not know when they had income tax to pay. I tell honorable , members that the very men on whose behalf they were speaking are more intelligent than are some of those who were making speeches on their behalf. It is a notorious fact that the main trouble the Commissioner of’ Taxation has is chasing after men who will not furnish returns. The honorable member for Macquarie has told us that some of these unfortunate men are earning £25 each per week.
I hope that the Honorary Minister will look into the trouble which is occurring at Cockatoo Island, and I trust that the Minister for Defence will consult with bis officers and see whether the internment camp should not be moved from Holdsworthy to a place a little further away from the city,’ where it would’ not be such a menace.
Mr. WALLACE (West Sydney) [8.151. - I desire to say a few words in reference to the Defence Department. I presume that honorable members upon both sides of the chamber have experienced the same difficulty in dealing with that Department as I have. Some months ago I brought the complaint which I am about to voice under the notice of the Minister for Defence, who promised that if I wrote him, giving full particulars of the case, he would attend to it. . He has attended to it, but apparently the regulations governing the settlement of such matters are entirely unsatisfactory.
Take, for instance, the case of an allotment left by a soldier to his mother. If he is a good son, and leaves her a decent sum, she is penalized to the extent that she does not receive an additional allowance from the Government. On the other hand, if he is not a good son, and leaves her less than he would have paid her if he had remained in Australia, the Government make her an extra allowance of 6d. per day for each dependant under sixteen years of age. I say that that principle is altogether wrong. I do not see why we should discriminate in that way. If a soldier, who is a good son, chooses to leave his mother an allotment of 30s. per week, I fail to see why she should be penalized in any way whatever. If he chose to leave her; only 15s. per week, the Government would supplement that sum with an allowance of 6d. per day for each dependant under sixteen years of age. I think that the Department might very well alter the existing practice in this respect. I have written to the Department in connexion with it, and have pointed out glaring anomalies in connexion with our Defence administration. So far, however, I have received no satisfaction. In my opinion, the Minister should shake up the departmental officers, especially the staff in the Pay Office, New South Wales. I have now had before me for nine months the case of a man who enlisted under an. assumed name, and embarked for service overseas, leaving his wife and two children in Aus-‘ tralia without any support whatever. After getting, numerous affidavits sworn, procuring correspondence from this soldier, and comparing it with the signature on his attestation papers, I ultimately succeeded in convincing the Department that’ he was in fact the husband of this woman. A cable was then sent to the Old Country, and the man was finally compelled to admit that he was her husband. The Department thereupon compelled him to allot the woman the sum of 3’s; per day. She is in receipt of that sum now, and she has also received the separation allowance from the time the allotment was made payable. But it can easily be understood that a woman who had been left for nine months, with two children, without any support, was in pretty straitened circumstances, and had incurred a considerable debt. The arrears due to her on account of separation allowance would materially assist her to liquidate her liabilities. The Pay Officer of No. 2 Military
District promised me nearly three months ago that he would get this matter adjusted. I have written to him several times in reference to this case, but have received only the stereotyped reply that the case is being inquired into. It is the duty of the Minister to shake up these officials.
– If the honorable member will give me the name of the case I will have it looked into.
– I shall be very glad to do so.
– Is the honorable member quite sure that there is not a deed of separation between this man and his wife ?
– I am. The only separation between them is made up of the vast expanse of water between here and Great Britain. Still another matter which I desire to mention has reference to the repatriation scheme. I have in my possession a letter dated 1st May last - that is, since the Repatriation Department was reconstructed - relating to the case of a man who applied to it for an advance of £100 to enable him to purchase a steam laundry. The owner of the laundry had promised to allow him fourteen days in which to complete the purchase. Accordingly, the soldier waited upon the officer administering the re-‘ patriation scheme in Sydney, and applied for an. advance of £100. After having waited ten or eleven days without receiving any reply, he again interviewed the officer, who informed him that the Board would be meeting in a couple of days, and that his application would then’, be placed before it. On the day on which the Board was supposed to meet, the returned soldier once more visited the office, where he was told that the matter had been overlooked, but as the Board was then sitting it would be gone into right away. By this time the owner of the steam laundry had grown impatient, and consequently, he informed the soldier that he could not Wait any longer. On the very day that the transaction should have been finalized the soldier told him that he had received no intimation; from the Board regarding the purchase, and, therefore, was obliged to abandon all hope of transacting the business. Three days later he received a letter from the Repatriation Committee intimating that his application had been refused, as they did not consider the proposition a good one. But the anomaly to which I desire to direct attention is that that letter was written two days before it was posted. Even if the communication had been a favorable one, the returned soldier would not have received it in time to have enabled him to purchase the business. This is how he describes the position himself
I am forwarding to you the letter I received from them. You will notice the letter was written on the 24th April, and the Post Office stamp shows that it was not posted till the 27th April, which clearly shows that the letter was lying in the office three days before they thought topost it. They talk about their repatriation for returned soldiers, but if the general public only knew the state of things, I do not think it would help recruiting. If a discharged soldier attending hospital and unable to work goes down there to draw his 2s. a day sustenance money, he is kept waiting about there all day before he gets it, and there are a lot of us chaps that are unable to stand down there all day. If we could stand down there all day waiting for 2s., we would be able to do our own work. “I for one, do not go near them, and I know lots more the same way. In voicing the opinion of hundreds of’ returned soldiers, I think it time something was done.
That is the complaint of a returned soldier. I do not think it is fair that he should be called upon to wait around all day for 2s. sustenance money.
– The officials require shaking up. There is no doubt about it.
– Unquestionably they do. Only the other day I was ringing, up No. 2 Military District for threequarters of an hour in an attempt to get connected with Major Evans. I wishnow to say a word or two in regard’ to the taking over of our public parks.
– Order ! I would remind the honorable member that that is a matter which . is at present before the House in another form, and, consequently, he will not be in order in discussing the same subject.
– My remarks have no reference to the park which it is proposed to take over under the Lands Acquisition (Defence) Bill.
– The honorable member will be in order in making a general reference to the matter.
– I wish to refer to Wentworth Park, which is situated in my own electorate. That park has been taken over by the Commonwealth under the War Precautions Act Regulations. It was vested in trustees, to whom the Minister for Lands in New South Wales wrote, informing them that the Commonwealth desired to take it over for the purpose of erecting wool stores thereon. The trustees held a meeting, and agreed. bo the Government taking over the park at a rental of £250 per annum. I think that is a scandal upon the administration of the Commonwealth. The Government have no right to take over that park and to mutilate it in the way they are doing. It comprises about 60 acres of land, and is situated between the two most congested areas in Sydney, namely, Pyrmont and the Glebe. Half of the park had already been acquired by a cricket club and a football club, which hold meetings there on Saturday afternoon. The Wool Committee has fenced in another 10 acres of the park, and fig and acorn trees, which are ten and twenty years old - fine trees such as cannot be seen in any other part of Sydney - are being remorselessly out down. Immediately adjoining the park is Wattle-street, the John Bridges’ wool store, and the Co-operative wool stores, whilst on the other side there is a vacant allotment containing about 5 acres, upon which wool could be conveniently stored, thereby obviating any necessity for encroaching on Wentworth Park at all. I utterly fail to see what advantage can accrue from the acquisition of this particular recreation reserve. Any wool taken either to or from the park must necessarily be carted, because there is not sufficient depth of water available to admit of its transport by sea. If the Government desire to erect temporary wool stores, why do they not erect them in suburbs where any quantity of vacant land is available for the purpose ? The other day I saw some 200 school children playing at football, cricket, and other games on about three acres of ground. When I went to have a look at the portion fenced off, the watchman asked me my business, and when I told him, he informed me that he had to be very careful, because only the day before a number of children, whom he had had to put off the ground, had stoned him. Good luck to them! They showed themselves to have the spirit to resent the taking of their playground. The watchman also told me that the day before, his mate had given a couple of the trespassing children a hiding, and that the fathers of the children had subsequently come down and given the watchman a hiding in return.
There is no doubt that the people deeply resent ‘the taking of this park. When the fencing was commenced, there was an impression that it was the intention of the Government to improve the reserve, and now that the work of erecting the wool stores has commenced, they fear that it is too late to protest. Personally, I donot think that it is too late, for at present there is only a weatherboard building; and, as the work of preparing the foundations was started only on Thursday last, the Government could very well step in. This site, from the point of view of the Government, has no special economic advantages, seeing that all the wool must .be conveyed there by rail, and thence carted to Darling Harbor. It might as well be situated at Wagga, or anywhere else.
– In any ease, there must be the carriage and cartage. It is true that wool stores in this locality would be of convenience to wool buyers, but I do not see why the children of Pyrmont and Glebe should lose their playground on that account. A meeting of protest is being held in Sydney to-night, and a deputation will wait on the Commonwealth’ Government in due course.
It appears that the ‘Cabinet have held a meeting regarding the internment of Father Jerger. If the public are to be prevented from knowing the full facts of this and similar cases, honorable members, kt any rate, should be given an opportunity to peruse the papers connected therewith. As things are, a man is interned, or otherwise punished, and we, as members of Parliament, receive letters df protest from our friends. Perhaps some of us may be> intimately connected with the man concerned, and ready to take up the case from another point of view. In the matter of Father Jerger, I have received several letters, and had numerous interviews, but, owing to the attitude’ assumed by the Government, I am able to present only one side of the case. Therefore, I urge that honorable members should be able to ascertain for themselves exactly what are the charges made against Father Jerger. and what evidence there is in support of them. That should be the policy pursued in all such cases under the
War Precautions Act, and I hope the Government will give serious consideration to the matter.
.- I concur in the remarks of the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Wallace) as to the repatriation administration. I have very great confidence . in Senator Millen, who, I believe, is putting brain and energy into the movement; but a great deal more has yet to be done, and I hope the Government will endeavour to make the conditions for the returned men better than in the past. I regret that the modesty - the retiring and unassuming nature - of the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine) has caused him to retire. He was aware that I intended to refer to him, and it is rather unfortunate that he should have left the chamber.From this evening’s newspaper honorable members may learn that the honorable member to-day introduced a deputation to the ActingPrime Minister, on behalf of returned soldiers. We ought to feel proud indeed of the honorable member for the Barrier when we find him with sufficient courage to get into the company of returned soldiers after thespeeches he has made . here time after time. At that deputation, Mr. Amos, one of the speakers, said they desired to impress on the Government the absolute necessity of finding work for unemployed returned men. He also said that the deputation was not prepared to say anything against the State War Council, but they protested against thousands of eligible single men being permitted to retain their jobs while men who had fought for their country were workless. That is what was said by a member of a deputation introduced to the. Acting Prime Minister by the honorable member for the Barrier. When the Acting Prime Minister remarked that Mr. Amos was raising an argument in favour of conscription, Mr. Amos said he was not a conscriptionist. He added that the returned men did not want philanthropy, but they were becoming desperate when they saw fit men enjoying jobs that returned men should have. I am sorry that the honorable member for the Barrier is not now present, because in his speech to-night he said that what he desired was a fair deal, and I would be glad if the Defence Department now gave him a chance to fall in with the view of the deputation he introduced.
Two announcements have recently been made by the Defence Department, one is in the form of a regulation permitting boys of eighteen years of age to enlist without the permission of their parents, and the other to the effect that officers who are invalided home and desire to go to the Front again must be discharged and enlist, as privates. I am sure that none of us approve of a regulation which imposes on officers, who have won their spurs on the battlefield, the necessity of entering the ranks as privates if they wish to once more’ take a hand at the. Front. It is said that the Government are in receipt of a letter from General Birdwood, whose desires they are virtually carrying out; butI cannot believe that General Birdwood made a request of the kind. 1 do not wish to-night to stress the objection to the enlistment of boys of eighteen without the consent of their parents, but merely to express a hope that the regulation will be re-considered, seeing that it is one which will undoubtedly destroy parental control. There are many families throughout Australia which have lost sons at the Front, and in which there are younger brothers now just attaining their eighteenth year who have an intense desire to avenge their loss. There are hundreds and hundreds of eligibles in Australia, and yet boys of tender age are to be induced, or seduced, to enlist against their parents’ wishes. I am not going to make any threats, but I know there are members on this side, and, I believe, on the other side also, who do not agree with this regulation; and I suggest that it should be re-considered with a view to its amendment.
– We ought to have an opportunity to discuss it in the House.
– In reply to a question by me, honorable members were told such an opportunity would be given ; and, in any case, we could make one on a motion for the adjournment of the House. The regulation has, no doubt, been made in good faith, but it is a mistake; and when there are so many eligibles in the Department it comes with bad grace from the Defence Department.
As to the regulation requiring returned officers, if they wish to re-enlist, to de so as privates, I may point to Captain
Carmichael, and ask what is the secret of his success in the recruiting field? It is the fact that he won his spurs on the battlefield, and that when on the platform he does not ask others to “go” but to “come” with him to the Front. These regulations all point to disorganization, and, I am not afraid to say, too much favoritism. There are a number of generals and colonels who never heard a gun fired except at a review - toy and chocolate soldiers - and, while they are in charge and advising the Minister, this sort of thing goes on. As an instance, I may say that when Engineer officers were required for tunnelling and so forth, the Chamber of Mines in Western Australia, on behalf of the Defence Department, sent out a- circular letter inviting men of experience to enlist. The invitation was responded to, in a case that came under my notice, by an inspector of mines, and also by a mining engineer, the latter of whom told me that he was giving up a salary of £55 or £60 a month in order to serve the country. Their papers were approved, and they were told that, if they entered the school and passed the examination they would get commissions. They made great sacrifices. I am not speaking of two cases alone, because there were about twenty-six others. Perhaps if I had tried to work for one or two, they would have got their commissions, but I wanted no one to receive favours that the others could not get. After throwing up their positions those two came over on the pay of privates, and entered the engineering school at Sydney. There they -were ten weeks on infantry training, as well as other work. They were six months in the school altogether, and received the pay of privates while there. That school cost the Department over £24,000. Wow see the way the home service man is treated. One major, one captain, and nine lieutenants, all home service men;, went into the same school. Not one of them had to join the A.I.F., nor did they have to sacrifice anything. The major received the pay of a major, the captain the pay of a captain, and the lieutenants the pay of lieutenants, and in addition 3s. per day field allowance. If they failed to pass they simply went back to their duties. Twenty-six or more of the other men passed through the school with credit.
Two of them - -Colbran and Pearce - I saw, and they were sent away as privates. They and the others had not only passed through the school, but had been recommended for commissions. Then, after all the sacrifices they had made, they were told they could have their discharges, or go away as privates. Is there not something wrong in the Department when the home service man can get all these concessions granted to him, while others are treated in that way after the country has spent over £24,000 to make officers of them? They were told that there was no room for them, and that the Department did not want officers. I asked here how many unattached infantry officers went away on the Nestor and the Ormond. I was told over fifty, and that was in the last few months. These were unattached men who had been hanging about here. They were sent to the Front as officers, yet the men L speak of were told they could go away as privates or go outside. The Department would not even make them sergeants. When the University boys recently formed a corps, one young fellow, who had had some previous training in the Citizen’ Forces, went into the Non-Commissioned Officers’ School that, was just starting.- Being a wonderfully clever lad, he got through, and has since been gazetted a sergeant. There was no favoritism in this case, but why is a Non-Commissioned Officers’ School wanted now, and how is it that sergeants can be gazetted to-day, when all these specially-trained men who passed through the engineers’ school six months ago, after six months’ training, and recommended for commissions, are treated as they have been ? How is it that they could not be offered positions as sergeants? There is something very’ wrong. I want the Minister to have these things well looked into, particularly with regard to returned officers. If a man wins his spurs at the Front, surely he should have his commission ten thousand times sooner than a man who goes through a school now, and goes to the Front for the first time. A statement was published in the Argus yesterday from the Defence Department to the effect that, at the request of General Birdwood, officers who returned from the Front are to be discharged, and if they want to go back must go back as privates. No finer recruiting agent can be found than the soldier who has been wounded at the Front, and come back here to recuperate, if he is fit to go to the Front again, and can go outside and say to the eligibles, not “ Will you go to the Front?” but “ Will you come with me to the Front?” I hope the Department will also take into serious consideration the regulation just framed permitting boys of eighteen to enlist without the consent of their parents. With regard to the men who went through the Engineers’ Training School, it was unfair, to say the least of it, that after they had made big sacrifices, thrown up good positions, spent twelve months in the Department on a private’s pay, fulfilled every condition, and passed their examination, they should be told they could go away as privates or get their discharge. . It shows very poor administration and a species of morality that marks a very poor military code.
.- Some little time ago I spoke on a motion proposed by the Prime Minister, that we should go to the- bitter end to secure a victorious peace and the freedom of the world.. I said then that it was a foolish motion, as it meant that we were going to carry out the oft-repeated statement of the Prime Minister that we would crush Germany, stop German trade, and boycott Germans for all time.
– That was not in the motion.
– No. I said we ought to express ourselves as favorable to peace by negotiation, and that, though the Germans were pushing ‘ back the Allied Armies, and had even succeeded in pushing us back within a fortnight or a month over territory that it had taken us two or three years to win, they could not possibly beat the Allies. I have been taken to task by the Minister for Defence for that speech. I am supported in my view that the Germans cannot defeat the Allies by a recent statement by Lloyd George, appearing under large headlines in the daily press -
Inan interview, Mr. Lloyd George expressed himself as having been amazed at the confidence shown by every one at the Front. He met no pacifists or pessimists. They were all confident they were winning the war, and were making the enemy pay a heavy price for the ground won.
– He says so, but he is a boastful man, and he and the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth have done more to prolong the war than any other two men on the Allied side.
Senator Pearce was good enough to say that “to talk of peace by negotiation was either midsummer madness or treachery of the deepest dye,” and that any man who advocated it was either a madman or a traitor.
– He is not far wrong.
– I advocate peace by negotiation, and I am neither a madman nor a traitor of the deepest dye. I protest against the refusal of the British Allies to discuss peace with the Germanic Allies. I would urge the British Allies to agree to an armistice on all Fronts, and agree to hold an open conference, not a secret one, of representatives of the belligerents, together with representatives of such neutral countries as will be acceptable to both sides. If the Germanic Allies will not agree to an honorable peace, of course this dreadful war must go on.
– Do you regard the Russian peace or the Roumanian peace as honorable ?
– As an honorable member said this evening, the general body of Russians are in -a far better position today, with all their civil war and all their quarrelling, than they were under the tyrannous regime of the Czar and the people about him.
– That was not the alternative.
– What was the alternative ?
– They had had the revolution, and they were winning the war.
– What assistance did we give- them with the revolution ? Did we show our sympathy with them ? Did we allow any representatives of Great Britain to go to Russia to assure the Russian people that we were not out for Imperialistic aims? No; we refused to allow anybody to go near them, and the talk of all our statesmen was that there was no sympathy with , the revolution. It is my deliberate opinion that, just as there were in Paris, during the war of 1870, when the Germans were surrounding that city, people who would rather see the Germans overrun Paris than their own
Communards succeed in their aims, so there are in Great Britain to-day people who would prefer to see the Germans win rather than that the aims of the Bolsheviks of Russia should succeed throughout Europe.
I am still of opinion that, instead of refusing to discuss peace, instead of making speeches thousands of miles from each other, we ought to say we are willing to discuss peace in open conference. Lloyd George, speaking in the House of Commons on 12th February, 1918, said, “ Up to the present, the Allies have had an overwhelming majority of troops on the Western Front.” That included the time when Russia was at war with Germany. I admit that Major-General Maurice has denied that we had an overwhelming majority of troops on the Western Front, but we have been at war for nearly four years., and have not succeeded .in breaking through the Hindenburg line. In view of that fact, when are we going to succeed in breaking through it?
– We did break through it.
– And we were pushed back again. We may push the Germans “back again, and lose hundreds of thousands of men in doing so. Shall we then have crushed Germany and- brought her to her knees? Shall we then have destroyed German militarism, as the Prime Minister said?
– Do you want a German peace?
– What does the honorable member mean by a German peace?
– A peace made in Germany to suit the Germans.
– -We want definitions from these gentlemen who talk of a German peace.
– Would it not be far better for Germany to retire from the conquered territory before we talk of peace ?
– Would we retire from conquered territory in similar circumstances ?
– Every country is right except your own.
– That is a foolish remark. It is absurd to say that, because I am speaking in this way, every country is right but our own. The Honorary Minister had a long period of independence when he sat on a rail, and could jump down on whichever side paid the better.
– The honorable member knows well that I never did that. Was I paid to go to either side ? The statement should be withdrawn.
– I withdraw it. The Honorary Minister, being so touchy, should refrain from suggesting that I favour every country but my own. He provoked my remark.
– Then say a good word for England by way of a change.
-The honorable member for Grampians (Mr. Jowett) has been a member of the House for about two weeks, and yet interjects more than any other. Older members do not interrupt in this offensive way.
Mr. Jowett. If my remark was offensive, I withdraw it, and apologize for it.
– We on this side can read and think as well as those who are opposed to us, and our record shows that we do not favour Prussian militarism. Honorable members opposite should, therefore, credit us with good motives. No man can accuse me of having favoured Prussian militarism and tyranny. My political life has been an agitation on behalf of the masses, of the poorer classes, of the under-dog, so to speak.
Honorable members opposite are striving to attain the unattainable. A soldier who returned to Australia wounded informed me that in the House of ‘ Commons generals have stated that the sooner it is recognised that the knock-out blow - the crushing of the Germans, the beating of them to their knees - is impossible, the better it will be for humanity.
A statement in yesterday’s Argus prompts a reference to the censorship under which we suffer, which amounts to a grievous tyranny. The other day an issue of” the Labour Call, a journal with a limited circulation, was seized by the Defence authorities, because the editor inserted full points where passages has been struck out by the censor. .The publisher waited on the Honorary Minister (Mr. Wise) in connexion with the matter, and the Minister saw Senator Pearce, but the latter refused to allow the paper to be issued with indications that the censor had cut something out. Yet in yesterday’s Argus we have as a big heading, “ English boys at the Front.
Who will relieve them ? Appeal to Australians,” and following it this paragraph -
Immense reinforcements lately rushed to the Front by Germany have had to be met by great reinforcements from England, which consist very largely of English boys. These youngsters pass hour after hour on the long road towards the Front, with pink cheeks, flushed, big hearts, and slender bodies. The feeling has overcome more than one Australian onlooker of late that many a grown, hardened man is really sheltering behind these youths of England.
It is these drafts of English youths thrown into the gaps in the ranks which more than anything cry aloud to grown men of our country to take the burden off them.
Is it not advantageous to the enemy to be told that, instead of grown men, English boys with pink cheeks and slender bodies are being put into the firing line. Is not that valuable military information ?
Moreover, it is proposed that Australia shall bring herself into line with Great Britain in this matter by sending her lads to the Front despite the objections of their parents. That is how the big German military machine is to be crushed. Under these circumstances the refusal to talk peace almost prompts me to say something that is in my mind, but I will not say it.
One would think that members opposite should be the intelligent party. The Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) who recently told the honorable member’ for Batman (Mr. Brennan) that he was using language which those on the other side could not understand, this classical scholar, is supported by the Minister for Home and Territories (Mr. Glynn), who would not be guilty of such snobbish remarks. We might expect intelligence from the party following them, but Ministers and their followers are not intelligent. They are the Stupid party. They first alarm the German people by saying that they are to be crushed and afterwards boycotted, so that the Prussian Junkers can say to their people, “ Lloyd George and Mr. Hughes have told you what they are going to do to you if you fail, so you have to fight.” Having created this position, the party opposite blazons to the world the fact that English boys with pink cheeks and slender bodies are being put into the firing line.
What is to be said of the censorship that permits the publication of such statements ? I am glad that some of the members opposite do not think that lads of eighteen - who, because of the taunts that are made by various persons, are under considerable pressure to enlist, and also under great inducement because of the various appeals that are being addressed to them - should be allowed to enlist without their parents’ consent. We have no right to send boys to do what all who have been to the Front realize to be a man’s job.
That this House affirms the readiness of Australia to . give all requisite aid to the Mother. Country, in order to bring the present war to an end.
That was when England was involved in another war. Speaking to the motion, Senator Pearce said -
Surely the time has not arrived when we are afraid-
– Order! The honorable gentleman may not read what has been said in another place.
– I did not say what place, sir. Senator Pearce made a speech, and I desire to refer to it. He said -
Surely the time has not arrived when-
– Order ! The honorable gentleman is disobeying the Standing Orders now by referring to what has taken place in the Senate. He may not do that.
– I did not mention the Senate, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
– The honorable gentleman is quoting from a speech made by the Minister for Defence in the Senate.
– I did not mention the Senate, and I appeal to honorable members to bear me out in what I say. I submit, with all respect, sir, that I am entitled to continue. I have no wish to come into conflict with your ruling, but I submit that it is the practice, both here and in the House of Commons, for an honorable member to use the term “another place.”
– Or “ elsewhere.”
– Yes, or “ elsewhere.” I think, sir, that on reconsideration you will realize that I am right, but I have no wish to transgress your ruling.
-Order! While I have no desire whatever to restrict the honorable member in any observations he may desire to make, he is clearly and distinctly transgressing, our own Standing -Orders, which state that an honorable member may not criticise, deal with, or refer to debates of the current session in another place, or, as the honorable member chooses to put it, “ elsewhere,’’ which, as all honorable members know, means ‘ the Senate, in the case of this Parliament.
– If you rule, sir, that I ma.y not refer to the speech made by Senator Pearce in another place, I must beg respectfully to disagree with your ruling.
– The honorable gentleman proposes to dissent from my ruling in the following terms: -
I hereby disagree with Mr. Deputy Speaker’s ruling that I may not refer to a speech made by Senator Pearce in another place. ,
My ruling was that the honorable gentleman was reading a speech made by the Minister for Defence in another place, and it was on that assumption -that I gave my ruling, so I must ask the honorable gentleman to amend his motion of dissent.
– I am not referring to the speech made recently, Mr. Deputy Speaker. This was a speech made by Senator Pearce some years ago.
– Was it in the life of this Parliament?
-If the honorable gentleman gives me that assurance, he will be in order.
– Thank you, sir. This speech to which I refer was made by Senator Pearce on the 22nd January, 1902. On that occasion he said -
Surely the time has not arrived when we are afraid to hear the criticisms of those who do not believe that the actions of the British statesmen are altogether right or justifiable.
And then he went on to say - , -
I cannot support a motion which pledges the support of Australia in men and money to carry the war to any extremity which the
British Government may decide is advisable or right.
Was Senator Pearce called a pro-German at that time 4 Or was he thought to be suffering from midsummer madness? Was he considered a traitor of the deepest dye? Senator Pearce went on to say -
While we must be loyal to the Empire, we must remember that our first duty lies to Australia. The Ministry who rule the destinies of the Empire in Westminster may not always have the interests of this part of the Empire at heart. . . .1 believe that time is ripe for overtures for peace to be “ made, and it would be generous if the British Government were to concede terms that a brave foe, such as the Boers are, could accept.
Was Senator Pearce called a madman, a traitor, or a disloyalist, because at that time he said the time was ripe to discuss peace? He went on to say -
We have to consider at the present time whether Australia is justified in offering farther aid in the prosecution of this war or of any other war which Great Britain likes to enter upon.
I say, too, that we have a duty to perform to Australia. This ultra-loyal gentleman who made this speech, also said -
Seeing that we are the junior partner, and a very junior partner, in this concern, are we not taking upon ourselves more of the responsibilities of the Empire than we should be called upon to bear? Are we not neglecting our duty to ourselves in taking upon ourselves so much of the responsibilities of Empire? Have we so many of the young and best of our population that we can spare them for the purposes of this war?
– Does the honorable gentleman say that there is any parallel between the Boer war and this war?
– I say that at that time we had only sent, comparatively, a few thousand men away, and yet Senator Pearce asked the question -
Have we so many of the young and best ‘of the population that we can spare them for the purposes of this war?
At that time Senator Pearce was about fifteen years younger. He is now just ^ about within the military age, so at the time to which I refer he would be about thirty years old, and I did not hear that he volunteered to go. to the war when England wanted men. He objected to sending our young men there. Senator Pearce further said -
We have also to remember that any aid we can send for the prosecution of the war is but very slight for the accomplishment of the end Great Britain has in view.
That is the argument people are using to-day. Senator Pearce also said -
The few thousand men we can send will have very little effect in bringing the war to an end more quickly.
That is just what is being said to-day.
– But Great Britain did not appeal for men then.
– No; but Senator O’Connor, who was, I believe, then a colleague of the honorable senator, moved the following motion -
That this House affirms the readiness of Australia to give all the requisite aid to the Mother Country, in order to bring the present war to an end.
Evidently the Government, of which the honorable member for Kooyong was a Minister, deemed it necessary to pass that resolution, and I am pointing out that the gentleman who opposed it in the terms I have been reading was the present Minister for Defence, who describes me and others who are advocating peace by negotiation as victims of midsummer madness or traitors of the deepest dye. Senator Pearce continued -
I, for one, if asked for a vote upon this question, will say that there shall be no further contingents sent to the war. We have done our duty, and have done all that could have been expected of us as a part of the Empire and as Britishers.
Those words are as true to-day as they were in 1902. I again quote Senator Pearce -
We have now our duty to Australia, and it is our first duty.- It is our duty to see that those who are the wealth, the bone, and the sinew of the country, and to whom we must look for the future of the .country, shall be retained here in health and in useful employment!
The honorable gentleman made no qualifications. He said that all young men should be retained, and he is the man who to-day fathers the wretched proposal that boys of eighteen may be enlisted in spite of the opposition of their parents. He ought to be the last man to charge any of his former colleagues, whom he deserted for place and pay-
– It is disorderly to make any personal reflection on any honorable member or Minister of the Crown.
– I withdraw the remark. Senator Pearce has made a veiled attack on me, and I, with a number of others, who advocate peace by negotiation, have been assailed with most opprobrious epithets, which should not have been used by a gentleman who was a colleague of mine until another person said in a room upstairs, “ Those who believe in me will follow9 me.” Senator Pearce and twenty-three others followed him, and divided amongst themselves a number of portfolios and positions of various kinds.
One wonders sometimes why some public men alter their views and attitudes, and I was often mystified until I visited the Old Country in 1911. I found that when gentlemen go to London in a representative capacity, they seem to be hypnotized by the graciousness of Her Majesty the Queen, the charming manners and modulated voices of the aristocracy, and the boundless hospitality of the rich people. I should say that England is one of the most attractive places on the globe in late spring and early summer, and those gentlemen who visit England resemble the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), who, when he went to Bendigo some little time ago, and was received by all his well-to-do new supporters, said, “I am like a man who has been’ wandering in the wilderness for forty years, and I have now entered the Promised Land, the land of milk and honey.” Representative men who go to London, and are received in this way, often begin to cherish the idea that they may end their days in England, and, possibly, as Shelley says, “Bask in the sunshine of a Court.” That is the reason why most public men who go to England in a representative capacity never return to Australia the same men. They shed their opinions as easily as they shed their Australian clothes for a Court suit.
I desire now to deal with a few matters which concern the Treasurer. We have a duty to our soldiers at the Front. Everybody admits that obligation. ,1 have previously said that nobody has seriously taken into consideration what, this country, in justice to itself, can do in the way of sending men to the Front, or in the way of financial aid, keeping in mind our promises to the soldiers and their wives, their widows, and dependants. I mentioned to the Prime Minister some time ago a paragraph which appeared in the Argus, of 20th February of this year, to the effect that a councillor of Footscray applied, on behalf of a returned soldier, for a monopoly of the right to gather rags, bottles, and bones at the Footscray rubbish heap. There was an objection to granting a monopoly, because councillors said other returned soldiers were getting a living in the same way.
There must be something radically wrong when returned soldiers are obliged to earn a living in that fashion. Only recently a deputation representing a couple of hundred returned soldiers waited on the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) and asked for work. So far, only about 50,000’ or 60,000 of our soldiers have returned. What will happen when the other 200,000 or 300,000 men come back, as I hope they will ?
We have said that we will send our last man and spend out last shilling in the prosecution of this war. We are not spending the last shilling, because I observe from figures prepared in connexion with the last war loan that the assets in the banks of the Commonwealth are £61,000,000 gross more than they were prior to the war.
I ask the Treasurer’s attention to a few figures, with which possibly he is already acquainted. The revenue for the five financial years is as follows : -
The expenditure for the same years is as follows: -
I have not included in those items the interest paid by the Commonwealth on loans to the States, because I imagine that that money will be recoverable.
In the pre-war year 1913-14 there was a deficit of £3,574,219, which was paid out of the accumulted funds for old-age pensions, and by means of Australian notes (vide page 15, Financial Statement, 1914-15). In the first war year and following years the deficits were as follow : -
The total deficit for the five years works out at £201,077,800. The deficit for 1917-18 is estimated to be over £30,000,000 sterling more than was that of 1916-17. We may expect, therefore, that the deficit for the year 1918-19 will be, not £85,000,000, but £115,000,000.
– No; the increase will not be on that basis.
– I hope the Treasurer is right, and that it will not be so much as £30,000,000 more next year, but it appears to me that if the war lasts another year we shall have a war debt of £300,000,000.
– You mean shortage of revenue supplied by loans?
– Yes; it is really a deficit if we raise the money by loan and not by ordinary means.
– The deficit even then would be only half of what poor little Rou mania is called upon to pay by way of war indemnity.
– I have not heard what Roumania has been asked to pay. I did hear that Russia was to pay £900,000,000; but, in reading some of the treaties arranged, for example, between Germany and Austria and the Ukraine Republic, I noted nothing about any fine or penalty. In my opinion, the interest bill per annum will amount to at least £14,000,000, not including a sinking fund.
– On . the £300,000,000?
– Yes, and the item interest on loan for war purposes and sinking fund on loans for war purposes, 1917-18, is estimated at £8,461,200 (vide page 259, Estimates).
The war pensions are estimated to total £2,600,000, and repatriation is set down at £1,000,000 (vide page 263, Estimates). These items, together with administrative expenses, come to £3,637,168. When I mentioned the total of £2,600,000, I referred to the figures in the printed Estimates. The item of war pensions at present comes to at least £3,200,000, but we are suffering such, frightful losses that I believe, with the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Sampson) that it will not be long before our war pensions will run to nearer £8,000,000 than to £2,600,000.
If we take the items of war interest and the pensions as well, it will be not less than £22,000,000; and those two items alone will amount to more than the whole of the ordinary revenue of the last pre-war year, namely, £21,741,775.
The Treasurer has estimated that he will receive £35,181,655 by way of ordinary revenue for 1917-1.8. But, a year hence, he will want probably £45,000,000 of revenue for ordinary services to pay his way. Whence is he to get that money? Our Estimates of revenue at the present time compare thus with the figures of the last pre-war year: -
There is an item relating to sugar - £85,000. I do not think we shall be taking any of that revenue, since it will all be paid back to the producers. Where is the Treasurer to get the £45,000,000? Not from Customs, because’ if we are to have a scientific Protectionist Tariff there will . be no increase in revenue. There may be the abolition of penny postage on business circular-letters, but I suggest that the Treasurer should not increase the postage on private correspondence. The newspapers might be asked to pay their way. I wonder whether the newspapers would be so anxious to remain “ bitterenders “ - whether they would still urge that we should refuse to discuss peace terms - if they, thought they were likely to be called upon, as they ought to be, to pay a fair share of taxation. We carry 20 ozs. of newspapers through the post for a penny, but for 20 ozs. of letters we charge 3s. 4d. The newspaper proprietors are very well treated.
It is estimated that the income tax this year will yield £5,915,000, and whereas the revenue to-day is£35,000,000 in round numbers, we shall require £45,000,000 twelve- months hence. How are the Government going to make good the difference ? Are they going to double the income tax? Have honorable members opposite considered that point, as well as others, in connexion with their proposal that this war should be carried on interminably?
– I wonder whether they considered it when they urged us to increase the war pensions.
– I think that the honorable member was, like myself, very pleased to agree to those pensions being increased at the time. In the balancesheet for this year there is an item of £825,350, re-payment of unexpended London balances. This, it must be presumed, will not be a permanent source of revenue, so that” it must be taken into the Treasurer’s future reckonings.
This brings me to another point in regard to the “ bitter-enders,” whom Bernard. Shaw has dubbed the jusqu’au boutists. The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) and the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Cook), before leaving for England, made speeches in regard to the war. The Prime Minister said -
There is only one way to peace, and that is the destruction of the Hohenzollerns and of the military power of Germany.
I shall not weary honorable members by repeating the statement made by Mr. Balfour that we could not impose a constitution on Germany; that such an attempt had never succeeded, and that it would not be a good thing if we could impose a constitution on the German people.
– Lloyd George also makes the same statement.
– I believe that British statesmen generally are now adopting that view. The Minister for the Navy, in his parting speech, referred to the islands of the Pacific, and said -
I am going to London to help the Prime Minister, and I am going to stand behind him while he urges that we should retain these islands to the last gasp.
There can be no doubt that all this talk on our part as to the retention of the islands df the Pacific is embarrassing to British statesmen. They will be led to think that if they returned the islands of the Pacific taken from Germany since, the outbreak of the war, the result might be the dismemberment of the Empire. They will believe, that we in Australia desire to retain them for developmental purposes. In th’is connexion I invite honorable members to realize the enormous extent of territory already possessed- by us. Australia has an area of 2,974,581 square miles, and although we have held this country for 130 years, we have to-day a population of less than 5,000,000.
– We want to retain the islands of the Pacific for our- own protection.
– When honorable members speak of the retention of these islands in order that we may be better protected, I invite them to think of what is happening to-day in the Northern Territory. Have they looked at the balancesheet for the Territory ? Here are some figures in regard to it. In 1910,11 the deficit in respect of the Northern Territory was £166,856. In 1911-12, it was ‘. £364,368; 1912-13, £388,658; 1913-14, £458,878; 1914-15, £391,862; 1915-16, £649,518; and 1916-17, £702,385. For verification of the first of these items I refer honorable members to page 20 of Australian Financial Statistics, by Mr. G. H. Knibbs, and for the last item to page 128 of the Auditor-General’s Report for 1916-17. I have no doubt that the deficit in respect of the Northern Territory for 1918 will be over £700,000.
– The honorable member is really not putting the figures in the proper way- In one year the redemptions amounted to £490,000, an exceptional thing.
– The Minister is talking of a Micawber-like way of getting rid of a debt. Micawber, as we all know, used to write out a fresh IOU, and say, “Thank God, that’s settled.”
The Northern Territory has an area of 523,620 square miles, its largest population, exclusive of aborigines, at any time was in 1890, when there were 5,366 inhabitants, including Europeans, Chinese, Japanese, and people of other nationalities. At the end of 1916, it had a population of 4,767, including Europeans; Chinese, Japanese, and people of other nationalities.
In 1881 it had a population of 670 Europeans, and in 1913 - thirty-two years later - there were 2,143 Europeans in the Territory. These figures are to be found in the Commonwealth Tear-Book, 1916- 1917, page 1041.
We are losing £700,000 per annum on the Northern Territory, and yet , the Prime Minister and the Minister for the Navy say that we must retain ‘possession of German New Guinea, which will add to our financial burden by something like £30,000 per annum.
I have no wish to detain honorable members further. My honorable friends opposite may have the idea that I am suffering from midsummer madness, or that I am” a traitor of the deepest dye; but I repeat that if Australia is to do ner duty to our soldiers when they return, and to their dependants, we must have regard to the financial side of this question. While we must do our level best to carry on the war, and. to meet our obligations, we ought to urge Great Britain and her Allies to say that, if Germany is agreeable, they are willing to have an armistice on all Fronts with a view to an open conference to discuss the terms of an honorable peace. Reporters should be present at that conference to record the utterances of every representative, so that the world may judge who is right and who is wrong. If Germany will not agree to the terms of an honorable peace, then let the war go on.
– The honorable member knows what Roumania has had to pay by way of indemnity.
– We do not know the facts; the press are not allowed to pub- .lish the documentary evidence. We are for some reason in the dark. If honorable members will look at publications received from America, they will see reported in Jull the speeches of Count Czernin and Von Hertling. If they compare with those reports the brief extracts which have appeared in the press here, they will recognise that the items we were permitted to see are a travesty upon the utterances of these men.. The censor in this country, instructed by Senator Pearce, who has a distorted view of what is right and proper, is acting in a way which does not find a parallel in any of the allied countries.
– By the Russian peace the Germans have secured domination over 56,000,000 of Russian subjects.
– We cannot tell that, because we are not allowed to know the facts.
– The honorable gentleman will not believe any statement of that kind.
– We know the lies that have appeared in’ the newspapers. In the early part of the war we were informed by the press that because Liebknecht spoke against the war in the German Reichstag he was executed, or, as a matter of fact, was murdered. Afterwards, of course, that was contradicted.
– Does the honorable gentleman believe that Liebknecht is in gaol now?
– I believe he is.
– Every country ‘is right but your own.
– These cheap taunts of the honorable member for Grey (Mr. Poynton) are scarcely in keeping with the discussion of a subject like this. I say they are cheap taunts, because we do not know exactly what has taken place. We know there has been a revolution in Russia, and that there are halfadozen different republics there now. We know the Germans are there with their armies, and their excuse is that they must have their armies there to maintain some kind of order.
– That is a lovely peace.
– Honorable members know what takes place when there is a revolution. At the time of the French revolution, all the. privileged classes, who lost their privileges by the revolution, combined to make the revolution a failure. No doubt, the privileged classes in Russia at the present time are combining, so far as they can, to make the Russian revolution a failure, and to restore the Czar to the throne.
– Would the honorable gentleman like, to see such a revolution here?
– The condition of the two countries is not comparable. In Australia we have one adult one vote, and we have free and compulsory education. In Russia, the people were so ground down that, according to the. Statesmen’s TearBook, only about 20 per cent, of them could read and write.
If honorable members opposite will blindly continue’ this war, and refuse to have anything to do with peace by negotiation, they will build up such a mighty mountain of debt that the resolution of the Victorian Railways Union will not be the only resolution that will be passed advocating, the repudiation of the war debt. We shall have repudiation advocated everywhere. If honorable members will read the Trustees’ Quarterly “Review, a Queensland publication, they will find in it an article by. Mr. Gellatley, recently financial editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, in which it is stated, that there are wealthy men at the present time in England contemplating the mountain of debt being piled up there, and, in order to meet the bill, some are suggesting the direct method, or a roughand:ready method of wiping out a portion of the debt. That, of course, is merely another form of repudiation.
If honorable members are going to continue to blindly refuse to talk peace, and to make the working classes of all the belligerent countries suffer as they are suffering to-day - and we have heard the most dreadful reports about the lack of food in the Old Country - they must take very great care that they do not create a number of Industrial Workers of the World men and revolutionary Bolsheviki throughout Europe, and including the United Kingdom. We do not want that. I take it that we desire to bring about as much of the millennium as we can get in our day and generation by parliamentary methods. For these reasons I do hope that honorable members opposite will give up attributing wicked motives to those of us who talk as I have talked, and suggesting that we are traitors to the country, and that they will give some serious attention to the financial question, and see how we are to carry out the promises made to our soldiers who have gone to the Front. .
– I wish to make a personal explanation. Unfortunately, when the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) was paying some attention to me this evening, I was not in the chamber. The honorable gentleman, in the course of his remarks, said that I was aware that he intended to refer to me .in connexion with the deputation of returned soldiers that waited on the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) and the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) this morning. I wish to give that statement an emphatic denial. I had absolutely no knowledge that the honorable gentleman had the slightest intention to mention me in any connexion whatever. Further, he referred, in not very nice terms, to my connexion with the deputation of returned soldiers, and attempted to connect me with the alleged advocacy of the dismissal of men from their employment because they did not volunteer for the Front. I wish to say that in the report that was published in the Herald, and from which the honorable member for Dampier quoted, the newspaper very carefully omitted certain statements made at the conclusion of the interview.
– I expect that was the censor again.
– I expect so, and the Honorary Minister evidently knows all about it. The press carefully omitted any reference to the fact that at the conclusion of the deputation, with the permission of the Acting Prime Minister, who will bear out my statement, I asked every member of the deputation to say whether he desired that any man who is at present employed should be dismissed from his employment in order to find work for returned soldiers, simply on the ground that he had not gone to the war, for any reason whatever. Every member of the deputation answered “ No “ to that question. The shorthand notes of the deputation will bear out my statement that not one member of it wished to have a single man dismissed from employment by reason of the fact that he had not gone to the war, but they all insisted’ that something should be done to business people who promised employees going to the war that their jobs would be kept open for them, and did not keep that promise when the men returned from the war.
.- I listened with the greatest interest to every word spoken by the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs). Perhaps, because the honorable gentleman is not sympathetically inclined, he is unable to understand the views of honorable members on this side which, I believe, are shared by most prudent persons, not only in this section of the British Empire, but throughout the Empire as a whole. I believe that he fails to appreciate the fact that we are not now, as we were at the time of the South African war, engaged in a conflict in which we can afford to do the weak, if the generous, thing. He has failed to appreciate the fact that we are now in a war for our existence, and- that how we are to get out of it depends on our awn exertions, and on our loyalty, more than it depends upon any consideration we may expect from our foes. Right through his speech the honorable member seemed to be more prone to believe the intelligence that the other side was putting forth than that which reaches us from our own people overseas. Contrast his reluctance to believe a single word of the harsh terms exacted by Germany from Roumania with the readiness with which he believes every tale of the sufferings of the British working classes ; contrast his indignation when we asked what had happened as the result of this same programme of peace in “open conference ‘ ‘ at Brest-Litovsk with his concluding admission that Russia was today merely a series of dismembered republics, running red with Russian blood, with Russian arms, aided and abetted by German arms, turned against Russians, and with German armies still marching through a country with which Germany “has officially declared peace. After the lesson of Russia, how can the honorable member expect us to go blindly into this trap of “ an open conference “ ? Does he realize that the interests of our Allies, upon the coherence of which in this common cause our safety depends, are being separately appealed to by the Germans in every direction? The honorable member, who is a student of international relations, must be aware that there has been a very strong effort directed from Germany for over a year past towards trying, to create trouble between this section of the British Empire, and so between the British Empire, and an Ally of ours in these seas, to whom we are indebted for three years of help. Is not the honorable member aware that in France, for the last year, a gospel has been preached, underground in the cellars, and everywhere, furtively, in the subsidized and bribed press, that France should make peace with Germany at the expense of England?
– Have we not been trying to do the same in regard to Austria?
– Exactly. The answer to a mere statement of fact is a charge against our own people ! If the honorable member holds this attitude of mind, how could he expect people to do other than suspect his motives? I do not suspect his motives, but I put the matter fairly and squarely to him. A few weeks ago he raised in this House an issue which was quite capable of solution without bringing in international relations; but the honorable member dragged into’ that debate the grave injustice that he said we are doing an eastern Ally by following a certain course, and he asked, “ What will they think of us in Japan?” When he was. speaking was he ignorant of the fact that his very speech would be quoted in Japan by agents of influences hostile to our cause ? If a man behaves indiscreetly, how oan he expect other persons, when these indiscretions occur, and are repeated, . to have the same confidence in his motives that men who know him well may have in them?
I ask the honorable member to be fair, and to realize that we cannot leave this war now of our own choosing, and that Australia, least of all, can leave it of its own choosing. Is he not aware that we have arrived at a period in this struggle when the moral endurance of the peoples at war is at least as important a factor as is the continued courage and energies of the armies in the field? The honorable member quoted figures and past speeches, and asked whether Australia could materially contribute towards winning the war. If it were not for the fact that we are part of the British Empire, there might be more in what the honorable member says than there is ; but Australia is part of the British Empire, and its armies are fighting as near to Paris as Mount Macedon is to Melbourne. Does the honorable member realize what use could be made in the metropolis of France of any weakening on the part of this section of the British Empire? Does he realize how German agents throughout the great republic would say, “ See these flaws beginning in the solidarity of the British Dominions. Ask yourself, Frenchmen, if it is not time to lay down your arms and make your peace, letting Britain stand the cost.” At this time, when Germany realizes that could she break down the Allied endurance she must succeed; it is utter madness for Australia to do anything that can undermine the loyalty and endurance of our friends in Europe.
How long could the British Empire stand without the continued friendship of France? One of our greatest troubles in this war has been the strain’ on Allied shipping. The honorable member knows that the devastation that has occurred to that shipping has come about in spite of the fact that the whole of the Allied navies have had to watch only 100 miles or so of German and Belgian coast line and a small outlet to the Adriatic. What chance would we have of getting a ton of produce into or out of England if, added to that 100 odd miles of coast line in the North Sea, watched by practically all the navies of the world, we had also to watch the coast of France, with every port and every haven on that coast a new nesting place for underwater piracy? If we lose the friendship and alliance of France we lose our birthright. I appeal to honorable members to realize that every word we say here that spells weakness, whatever may be in the minds of honorable members, may vitally undermine the loyalty of France, upon which the safety of Australia depends. “Can Australia win the war?” the honorable member asks. As an old battler in industrial warfare, what would he answer if a unionist said, “ Can any single unionist win a strike”? He would say “No; but any man can start a rot.” Any single unionist may lose a strike by starting a rot. It is only by every one standing together that a strike can’ be won. That is our position to-day. We in Australia must start no rot. We have already done enough harm, and I do not think that this is either the place or the time to add further to our faults- in this direction.
Let honorable members recognise -what has happened to Russia. Russia went into an open conference. Who were the men who brought her into that conference? Who knows who Lenin is; who knows where he was born? Of Trotsky we do know something. We know that before the war broke out he was in Buda Pesth. We know that, although not of Austro-Hungarian birth, he was given a free passage through Austria, and went to Paris.
– Of what birth is Lord Milner?
– Of English birth.
– He is not.
– Here is an honorable member defending Trotsky by libelling Lord Milner, What comradeship is there between the honorable member and this Trotsky that I should not be permitted to say what I have to say? We have the clear history of this man Trotsky, upon whom lies most of the guilt of this great treachery to Russia. This man went to Paris. There he started to undermine the moral resistance of the French people, and, as a result, was ejected from France. He then went to America, and when Kerensky began the iona fide and beneficial revolution of the Russian people, in a moment of weakness he asked the British Government to let Trotsky, whose activities in Europe had been known and marked, return to Russia. Although Trotsky was held up at Halifax as a German agent,’ he was given a free passport back to Russia. Why did the Austrians give him a passport? Why did the French Republic eject him from France?
– Because his presence was inimical to the interests of the capitalists of France.
– I think that democratic history will (remember the name of . Clemenceau (when the inhabitants of Broken Hill have forgotten that ever their present representative lived. I do not hesitate to say that any man who attempts to make the public believe that France is in the war for capitalistic purposes must be either the very soul of audacity, or must be bereft of sense- I only want to ask those who in this chamber give utterance to these dangerous and dividing sentiments, “ Where did Trotsky lead his dupes ?” At the time of which I speak, there were to be “ no indemnities and no annexations.” The Russian people believed that. Russia was as eagerly desirous of peace as is every man in this chamber. All through Russia peace was desired, and “No annexations and no indemnities “ was the cry raised. That cry had some foundation at the time, because the German Reichstadt had given its voice in that direction. Russia’s representatives went to the open conference at BrestLitovsk. To-day where is their peace?
– They are in pieces!
– They are in pieces, and to-day armies are marching here and there through Russia, not to maintain order, but to seize what wheat they can find and send it back to Germany. To rob the Russian people of their stores of food, these German armies are traversing the country with which they have just concluded peace. “No annexations,” they said. How many persons of Russian birth are now under German control, and are - if the existing peace stands - for all time doomed to the lot of the Polish people, who have been under the heel of Germany ! There were to be no indemnities, we were told, and yet to-day the very food of Russia is being stolen by the armed forces of Germany after the declaration of peace! Down south is that poor little country, Roumania, which certainly put up a fight worthy of the admiration of the world. She is now defenceless, abandoned by her ‘ great neighbour, at whose call she entered the war. I do not ask honorable members to believe all that they read in the newspapers, but I do ask them to remember what has happened to Roumania, and to inquire what is likely to happen to us, in the light of her experience, if Germany should prove triumphant in this struggle. I believe that every word we utter here, which tends in any way to spoil our cohesion, is a blow aimed at the heart of Australian liberty and at our continued existence. I believe that our best chance of winning through is to show ourselves worthy of the Allies whom we still have.
– That same argument was used to back up every autocratic repressive measure in Russia prior to the revolution.
– 1 1 am grateful indeed for that interjection, and I am glad that only the honorable member has made it. He talks of repressive measures. Why, the only repressive measures which the Allies are urging are directed against the blood-madness and the blood-lust of Germany! ©o not let us try to score off each other here, as if this were merely a debating society. We may be unimportant units of a people who may one day be truly great, but this is our chance to show to the world that we truly realize our opportunities here. Do not let us seek to make points off each other.. Let us recognise that the safety of this country depends upon our doing nothing to weaken Allied cohesion. I am sure that the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) will not regret the tone in which I have addressed myself to his speech. I do hope that he will realize that honorable members upon this side of the House are just as earnestly anxious for peace as he is. But we recognise that the only chance of securing a peace which will not mean that every drop of Australian blood shed in this war shall have been wasted is to get a peace which will be made lasting by the fact that Germany’s outrages against civilization have been proved to be of no value to her.
Before concluding, I wish to refer to a method adopted by the last Parliament in dealing with German trade in this country. Honorable members will doubtless recollect that shortly after the declaration of war, branch houses of great German manufacturing concerns in the United States were given by their parent houses the right to exploit British dominions. After considerable time, this Parliament . decided that goods covered by enemy trade marks and trade descriptions should not be allowed into Australia. I hold in my hand a letter from the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Jensen), and in connexion therewith I take this the earliest opportunity to voice my humble protest. Honorable members know that if a name is owned in Germany, ultimately the trade in connexion with the name will revert to its German owners. The good-will is only kept alive if we allow goods covered by those names- to come in from neutral or Allied countries until Germany is again in a position to resume her trade. The other day I asked the Minister if he would do his best to see that Bosch magnetos - the wellknown trade name of a German-made magneto which was very popular before the war-
– It was probably the best on the market.
– I do not know that it is the best to-day.
– Probably it was then the best on the market.
– I would not even say that, but it was a very popular magneto. In any case, the Government did, at an early stage, declare these magnetos to be of enemy origin, and they were for a long time prohibited from entering the country. Quite recently a company, named the Bosch Magneto Company, has been formed in America, and is importing magnetos as “ Bosch magnetos “ into Australia to-day. I ask that that practice shall be discontinued. .This is the letter, dated 8th May, I received from the Customs Department -
Department of Trade and Customs,
Melbourne, 8th May, 1918.
Dear Mr-. Kelly,
In reply to your question in regard to the importation of Bosch magnetos made in America, I desire to inform you that this type of magneto was not, at the outbreak of war, registered under the Trades Marks Act in Australia, but on the 30th December, 1915, the Bosch Magneto Company Limited was proclaimed an enemy company, which had the effect of excluding from Australia any goods produced ,by this company in any part of the world.
It was represented by numerous importers early this year that the Bosch Magneto Company in the United States of America was not in any way controlled by enemy persons, and this fact was substantiated by the United States of America Government.
On the advice of the Attorney-General, the proclamation of 30th December, 1915 was revoked, and a new one was issued, making the Bosch Magneto Company Limited, of Stuttgart, Germany, an enemy company, thus prohibiting the importation of Bosch magnetos made in England, Prance, and the United States of America, or any non-enemy country.
The word “ Bosch “ has become associated with a particular type of magneto, and does not necessarily infer that a magneto bearing this name is of enemy origin, although no doubt the type was originally conceived in Germany.
– This is as bad as 4711.
– It is almost the same thing exactly. What will happen after the war ? We shall have clever German
Supply [REPRESENTATIVES.] “ (Formal). traders coming back amongst us and telling the people that while, for perhaps two years or six months, they have been buying magnetos manufactured in England, America, and France, they are now offered the real thing, which, manufacturers in those countries have tried to copy, and have not succeeded in copying well. The very fact the name is put in front of the people is a guarantee that the German trader will again recover his trade after the war. This is the time to abolish the value of German trade here, and the way to abolish it is by abolishing all German trade names and descriptions. I make this final appeal to the Minister to stop this happening wherever it raises its head. I do not believe that any Government will make such investigation into the enemy origin of any firm as will guarantee that firm’s nature remaining as it was at the time it was investigated. A firm may exist to-day and manipulate the trade good-will in this Bosch magneto, and what guarantee have we that the shareholders in the firm are all persons of non-enemy origin, or are not dummies ? What guarantee have we that the shareholders, will be the same next month. The shares are on the market, and German influence can buy them at any moment. The only safety we have in this connexion is to abolish those trade names wherever we find them, and I appeal to the Minister in charge of the House- at the moment to make a note of my protest.
-I have done so.
– There is not only a protest voiced by my humble self, but I understand that the matter has been brought officially to the notice of the Government by the Mother Country’s representatives in this country, and I ask that the practice of admitting these articles under an original German name be discontinued from this hour.
.- I wish to refer particularly to the administration of the censorship. At the recent Recruiting Conference the Prime Minister promised that the censorship’ should be administered fairly, and said that a Press Conference, which was then sitting, would deal with the matter. I pointed out that it was quite possible the Press Conference would not look at the matter from the same point of view as other persons might; and I understand that the findings ‘ of that
Conference have never been made public. From what I have heard, however, I understand the decision was that no information likely to prove of use or of importance to the enemy, or likely to disturb our friendly relations with our Allies, should be published. Honorable members who have not come very much in contact with the censor may think that everything is going on well in that Department, and that every paper is observing the decision of the press ‘ conference. I have here, however, a duplicate copy of an article which was sent from the Labour Call in Melbourne to the censor, and should have appeared to-day. It deals with part of the proceedings of the Conference which had to do with the case of Captain Allen, who was an area officer, and afterwards a Brigade-Major in Victoria. This article could give no military information whatever to the enemy, and having read it through, I can say that it certainly would not in any way tend to injure our relations with our Allies. Those responsible for the administration of the censorship have taken on themselves- to use it for political purposes; and I take it that, whatever may have been the practice before the Conference at Government House, and the Press Conference, it is not intended “that the censorship shall in future be used in any such way. I accepted the invitation to the Conference at Government House in the spirit in which it was offered, and went there prepared to do my best to further the objects of that Conference. As I say, there is not one word of military importance in the whole of the article that was intended for the Labour Gall, but because the officers who administer the censorship consider that it reflects on them, its publication is prohibited. I take it that the Government will not tolerate that kind of thing for five minutes. If it is intended to run the censorship for political purposes, especially in view of the Conference to which I have referred, the sooner we know the fact the better. It was never intended that area officers should devote the whole of their time to area work. Captain Allen was a supporter of the Labour party, and that apparently was his chief fault. He was selected on his merits as Brigade-Major, the Defence Department apparently knowing nothing of his political opinions at the time. When they found out, I suppose they thought the;; had made a mistake, and wanted to get him out of the position. An inquiry was ordered, to be conducted by Colonel Hawker. General Williams went to Bendigo on the matter, but instead of meeting his military officer at any of the four drill halls he met him at the Shamrock Hotel, the principal hotel in the city. The inquiry was held, the object being to shift Captain Allen from the position of Brigade-Major because he was a political opponent of the party in power. The matter was dealt with at the Conference, and sent as part of the report of the .Conference to the Labour Call. It was submitted to the censor, and the censor cut out the lot, presumably to safeguard his fellow military officers who were responsible for shifting Captain Allen.
There is another matter in connexion with the censorship that I should like to mention. A paragraph was allowed to appear in Liberty and Progress, which, as honorable members know, is the journal of the Employers Federation, but that same little paragraph, has not been allowed to appear in the Labour Gall. Is there anything in the following which would give military information to the enemy, or be detrimental to our relations with our Allies? -
There was neither sense nor need for raid- . ing Parliament House in order to seize the Catts’ excerpts from Hansard. All that was needed was to declare them non-mailable matter, and let them lie there, or at the Post Office, -or in the gutter. But if there are ninety and nine right ways of doing things, and only one wrong way, the wily bookmaker may take short odds every time that some one in authority will find the wrong way, and do it. - Liberty and Progress.
Do honorable members think it ia giving a fair deal for the censor to cut that paragraph out of the Labour Gall ? Here is another paragraph which appeared in the Australian Worker under the heading “ Are We Being Sold?” It relates to the trip of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) and the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Cook) to England. It is about 4 inches long; the censor allows four lines to appear, cutting out everything else, although it contains not one item of military importance. I hand these proofs to the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) to show what has been censored in the Labour Call this week, so that he may judge if there is anything of military importance in the matter, or whether the censorship is not being used by certain persons for their own political purposes. I ask only for a fair deal. I nope the Acting Prime Minister will see that the censorship is carried out in accordance with the following statement made by the Prime Minister at the conference at Government House -
I am not going to . stand here as the protagonist of the censor. I shall not say that if I had been in Mr. Tudor’s place, I would not have said a great deal more than he has of the censor. As a matter of fact, I have said things of the censorship which would surprise even a hardened Conference like this. It is difficult to get them to carry out the instructions. The trouble is not caused so much by instructions from head-quarters - I mean, of course, Ministerial head-quarters - as by the manner In which perfectly well-meaning men interpret them. I am hopeful, however, that, despite what may be said of criticism as to the wisdom of accepting the decisions of the Press Censorship Conference as final, a great deal of good will come out of the deliberations of that body. I am not in favour of political censorship. It may be, of course, that a suspicion of party politics attaches to anything done by one party in a time of war, but I want the Conference to understand that I am not in favour of political censorship; and the Government will endeavour, by instructions and administration, to prevent the naval and military censorship being used for political purposes.
Many members said at the conference that it was not right to use the censorship for political purposes.. I do not want anything to be published in any part of Australia or elsewhere that is opposed to the Allies’ cause, but we have a right to know the truth, and when we find these things are being cut out for political purposes, it makes us doubtful.
– You can hardly say the purpose is political.
– It can be called political if a man is barred simply because he happens to be of one political faith. If a paragraph is allowed to appear in Liberty and Progress, why should it not be allowed to appear in the Labour Colli What is the opinion of the honorable member for Grampians on that point?
– It sounds all right.
– What I ask is absolutely fair. The honorable member would not like it if Liberty and Progress was. not allowed to publish something that appeared in the Labour Gall.
– Why accuse the party of wishing to use the censorship for political purposes ?
– The Prime Minister stated that if he had been in my place he would have, said harder things of the censor than I have. Perhaps it would be better if 1 said that the cutting out of the article relating to Captain Allen was due, not so much to political reasons as to military friendship. If the persons acting as censors repeatedly fail to give a fair deal, as they’ are told to do, the remedy is to shift them, and put in their places some one else who will do the right thing. No one- can defend the knocking out of the extracts I have quoted. The Press Conference, I understand, unanimously carried a motion to the effect that; nothing which would give military information of advantage to the enemy, or be detrimental to the Allies, should be published, and a committee was apr pointed to give effect to the resolution. Still, while things such as I have quoted go on, many persons feel that they are not getting a fair deal. I have had fair treatment from the Acting Prime Minister, and am glad of the opportunity to bring these matters up while he is present; so that I may get an assurance from him on the subject.
About a week ago, the adjournment of the House was moved to protest against the deportation of Italians. Since then I have received a complaint, which I have.’ forwarded to the Acting Prime Minister, to the effect that last Friday night, at a fruit and’ vegetable shop in my electorate, when the family- was busily engaged- in attending to customers, three plain clothes policemen came to the front to search; for a man, and at the same time two- military, men jumped the back fence, and went through the living rooms, frightening a child of four and . another of eight who were sleeping there. These men could quite well -have stopped at the back gate, because there is no side exit,, and norway of . escape, except at the back, and front. I hope that my complaint has reached the proper quarter. 1 do> not say that all the military or civil police act in this fashion, but. 1 know of another case in. which a house was. searched at 3 o’clock in the morning, one man breaking in at the front and another at the back. That was a house in which two sisters were living. Their two brothers had enlisted, and one subsequently ^deserted. Such conduct on the part of the military police is im proper. When persons are suspected- of harboring persons, places can be watched, and a search made under proper conditions, but incidents such as I have just mentioned should not occur under any circumstances.
.- I do not think that any speech has ever been delivered in Australia equal to that which we had to-night from the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Kelly), and it is with regret that I detain the House for a few minutes after such a discussion as we have had of matters of wide-world and historical importance,- to call attention to a merely domestic concern. But the distillation of eucalyptus oil is an industry which employs a considerable number of persons, and, because of the war, it is on the verge of temporary extinction. There is an almost unlimited demand for the. oil, but for the last six months it has been impossible to obtain shipping space for its exportation.
– Shipping ‘space can be obtained for wine, but not for eucalyptus oil !
– I was not aware of that. I draw the attention of the Acting Prime Minister to the urgency of the situation. There are a number of eucalyptus oil distillation establishments in Victoria - I do not know if others exist elsewhere in the Commonwealth! - which within two or three weeks must close unless they can export their products1. I have done what I could, but the highest authority controlling shipping states that it is the- positive instruction of the Admiralty that only goods on the priority list can be shipped,, and eucalyptus oil is not on that list. It is. news to learn that wine is on the list.
– I did not say that it was.
– I have noticed with interest that, although for a long period leather could’ not be shipped away, at all events not in large quantities, it is now put on the priority list, or, owing to the representations of the Government, the exportation of a considerable quantity- of leather has been permitted. I am glad- to know that that has. been done. The tanning industry is- an important one< in the great cities, but- the distillation of eucalyptus oil is of great importance in the country districts-; and, seeing that, the industry must discontinue unless the ex- portation of oil is allowed, I hope that the Government may Bee its way to cable to the military authorities in England asking them to put eucalyptus oil on the priority list, or to allow the stocks that have accumulated during the last six months to be exported.
– When speaking this afternoon about the Small Arms Factory I thought that I had the right of reply and forgot to mention one or two facts to which I wish to call attention. The Defence Department promised to pay employees who had been dismissed a week’s wages in lieu of a week’s notice, but this afternoon I received the following telegram from the secretary to the Small Arms Factory Employees Union -
Eight hundred men now employed. Best still out. Minister refuses to pay men week’s wages in lieu week’s notice.
The Department, apparently, is not keeping the promise that was made to the men. If I can get an assurance from the Minister that a week’s wages will be paid to any man in lieu of notice, I shall be satisfied. It seems remarkable that a Department should immediately repudiate a contract entered into with these men, but that is what has occurred during the past week or two so far as the Defence Department is concerned.
There is another phase of the matter to which I desire now to refer.
– Order! I must ask the honorable member not to pursue the subject. The honorable member debated the subject on a motion for a special adjournment today, and he may not now occupy the time of the House with the same subject.
– I thought, sir, that this was a day for grievances, and this is a painful grievance with me.
– Order! I -remind the honorable member that he took the course of moving the special adjournment of the House to deal with that particular matter, and he cannot now revive the debate.
– But this is a new aspect of the question, Mr. Speaker.
– Order ! The honorable member is new to the procedure and usage’s of the House, but he must not seek to evade my ruling on this point. I appreciate the honorable member’s difficulty and sympathize with him, but the course he is adopting is against the rules of the House.
– That being so, Mr. Speaker, . I will leave the matter there.
Question resolved in the negative.
Motion (by Mr. Tudor) agreed to -
That leave of absence for one month be given, to tbe honorable member for Maranoa (Mr.’ Page), on account of ill-health.
– In moving -
That the House do now adjourn,
I wish to allude to a paper which the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) has nlaced in my hands. It looks like a proof sheet of the Labour Call, heavily censored.
– It is absolutely censored.
– No. Portion of the printed matter is still visible. I am not able to express my views with regard to the censorship methods at this stage, but I can promise the honorable member that I will confer with the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) and ascertain the reason for this application of the censorship.
.- I ask the Acting Prime Minister if he will arrange to have a cheap cover attached to the reprint of the Recruiting Conference proceedings held recently at Government House at the invitation of His Excellency the Governor-General. Unless this is done the pages will be mutilated. I have already spoken to the Principal Parliamentary Reporter, and 1 think it would be possible to arrange for an index of the speeches delivered at the Conference, so that the subjects discussed could be readily found. This request has been made to me by more than one person, and I would suggest that it be given effect to.
– I will give attention to . the suggestion made by the honorable member.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at . 10.55 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 9 May 1918, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1918/19180509_reps_7_84/>.