7th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. W. Elliot Johnson) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. SPEAKER informed the House that he had received a return to the writ issued on. the 18th September last for the election of a member to serve for the electoral division of Swan, in the place of the Right Honorable Lord Forrest, deceased, indorsed with a certificate of the election of Edwin Wilkie Corboy.
Mr. SPEAKER informed the House that he had issued a writ for the election of a member to serve for the electoral division of Corangamiteo, in the place of the Hon. James Chester Manifold, deceased, and that the dates appointed were those announced to the House on Wednesday last.
– It has been thought that as to-day’s sitting is associated with a memorable historical event, honorable members might like to have some pictorial record of it, and it has therefore been arranged to have a photograph of the House taken after these proceedings have been brought to a conclusion.
Armistice with Germany: Address to His Majesty the King.
– (Bi/ leave.) - I desire to submit for the unanimous acceptance of the House a motion for the adoption of the following address to His Majesty the King: -
May it Please Your Majesty :
We, Your Majesty’s dutiful and loyal subjects, the Members of the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth, in Parliament assembled, desire in our name and on behalf of the people whom we represent, to express our unswerving loyalty and devotion to Your Majesty’s person and Government.
At this stirring and eventful period in the life of our nation, we desire to render thanks to God for the triumph of Righteousness over the Forces of Evil.
We rejoice with Your Majesty upon the signing of the armistice, involving as it does, the surrender of Germany.
We congratulate Your Majesty upon the great sagacity and steadfast resolution of the statesmen of Great Britain and the Allied and Associated Powers, whoselabours established and perfected the all-powerful alliance of free nations which has now effected the capitulation of an arrogant foe.
We tender to the British and Allied forces on land, sea, and air the profound and grateful thanks of a united people, for. their stupendous efforts and patriotic sacrifices extending over four years of unparalleled carnage. Especially do we glory in the fact that the soldiers and sailors of Australia have, by their dauntless heroism and endurance, conspicuously assisted in re-establishing freedom and justice.
In this hour of our greatest triumph we earnestly desire, above all else, to associate ourselves with Your Majesty in the sacred duty of paying homage to the memory of our dead heroes, who laid down their lives in the cause of humanity.
We devoutly trust that Your Majesty’s future reign may be crowned by order and good government throughout the British Empire, and that the nations of the world’ may ere long enter into the enjoyment of an honorable and lasting peace.
Yesterday I received, through the Secretary of State for the Colonies and the Governor-General, the following message from the King, for publication to the Australian people: -
At the moment when the armistice is signed, bringing, ‘ I trust, & final end to the hostilities which have convulsed the whole world for more than four years, I desire to send a message of greeting and heartfelt gratitude to Our overseas peoples, whose wonderful efforts and sacrifices have contributed so greatly to secure the victory which now is won. Together we have borne this tremendous burden in the fight for justice and liberty ; together we can now rejoice at the realization of those great aims for which we entered the struggle. The whole Empire pledged its word not to sheathe the sword until our end was achieved. That pledge is now redeemed. The outbreak of war found the whole Empire one. I rejoice to think that the end of the struggle finds the Empire still more closely united by the common resolve held firm through all vicissitudes by the community of suffering and sacrifice by the dangers and triumphs shared together. The hour is one of solemn thanksgiving and of gratitude to God, whose Divine Providence has preserved us through all perils, and crowned our arms with victory. Let us bear our triumph in the same spirit of fortitude’ and self-control with which we have borne our dangers.
It seems to me that the Address which I have the honour to submit in a suitable form on this suitable occasion is the answer to his message which the King might well expect. During the past few weeks the peoples of the world have been living amid volcanic conditions; it has been a world of falling thrones and rising republics, of dismembered Governments and of hunted monarchs. “We have seen the royal families of the House of Hohenzollern and the House of Hapsburg, whose lineage stretches back to the dim records of mediaeval history, hunted from their high estate by an indignant and outraged people, never to return. I think that never before in the annals of man have so many fateful and stupendous events occurred in so brief a space of time. The changes have crowded on us almost too fast for record, remembrance, or appreciation. All this portends more than a mere military victory. Despotism has been beheaded in Europe; militarism has been burned at the roots. The ideals of the
Allies have triumphed, and as a consequence this world is now, and for many a generation will remain, a safer and a happier place to live in. Honorable members who have read the full terms of the armistice will agree with me when I describe it as stern and rigid, and they will also agree that it is just, and, in all the circumstances, prudent.
So, in a spirit of great relief and thankfulness, we address His Majesty the King. We assure him of our unfaltering loyalty to him and to all that he stands for. Our British throne symbolizes popular liberty; it is. not like the Teutonic empires of Middle Europe, based on a tyrannical usurpation of the rights of the people. We are proud, and I trust will always remain proud, of our. Australian citizenship, but we are proud, too, and at this time especially, to be Britishers; proud of our blood and our race and of our partnership in the Empire whose existence means so much to our safety and our welfare, an Empire where justice rules and charity prevails, and the weaker peoples are not subjugated.
After pledging ourselves unswervingly to the King as the head of the Empire, in due ‘humility we acknowledge the Divine dispensation which has lead the stricken nations through sorrow and suffering to the stage when slaughter has ceased and peace is in prospect.
I think it only right that at this stage we, in Parliament assembled, should ex- press our gratitude to the great civil leaders of the free nations who designed, built, and preserved the grand alliance that has effected the overthrow of Germany and Austria. For their clear vision and unfailing determination to see the war through to a successful end, history will give them .a crown of immortality that fadeth not away, and, whilst it may be somewhat invidious io pick one from amongst those estimable and eminent rulers who have guided the allied nations through their travail, we may be forgiven if we single out for special praise the leading figure in the British Empire, the Prime Minister of Great Britain. He has been, a3 a great poet of the Victorian age said, “A figure steadfast in the storm/’ and to the fact that he did not waver, but pursued with enormous patriotic fervour and great dynamic force the aims of the British people and their allies, is largely due the salvation and safety of this community and the civilized communities associated with us.
Of course, first in order stand the men who have done the fighting on sea, on land, and in the air. This small community unites in reverent thanksgiving, renders praise to the Allied Forces generally for their great deeds of endurance and heroism. To the British Navy, this one of the most isolated of the King’s dominions may well give unstinted praise and joyful thanksgiving, because, without the power for which that Navy stood through the crucial four years that have just terminated, this people may not have been able to live in comfort, security, and prosperity, as happily as it has been able to do. Of course,, to our own boys we feel the most intimate gratitude. One hardly cares to speak about the men who volunteered from Australia for active service and have done such great things. They came from far off country places, from the cattle camps, the mining camps, and sheep stations, from homes of luxury, and from factories in the cities, and have mingled as perhaps the men in no army of modern times have mingled; and though reared to thoughts of peace and to hopes of peace, when called upon to take up arms and face the relentless ferocity of German might, they have behaved as well as any men have behaved since this earth was flung into space. For their deeds, this Parliament, speaking for the nation, must give to them praise and undying gratitude. Later, when they commence to trickle back to us, we must assure them of a glad homecoming, and when that joyous time is over, whoever is in power in Parliament or in Government must see that the men who have done the work shall be properly treated by the nation.
Amid our jubilation, we must not forget the brave men who have fallen, forming, as an American poet said of the fallen soldiers in the civil war, “ Our grand army of the dead.” They have given their lives under the inspiration of a great ideal, and when other soldiers return to their homes, let us keep in mind those parents and relatives whose loved ones will never return, and m this radiant hour of victory, pay to *e deeds and memories of those who sleep their last long sleep the loving and respectful homage of an appreciative and united people.
I should like to say a few words regarding the women of Australia, and pay, if I. may, in feeble words, a. special tribute to their courage, fortitude, and self-sacrifice. Through the weary months of suspense, scores of thousands, nay, hundreds of thousands, of the women of Australia have shown a Spartan control in the face of death and other sorrows equally beyond repair, such as we did not expect from our sisters, wives, and mothers. I think we men who, for the time being, are placed in control of -the affairs of Australia, should say that they are worthy mothers, wives and sisters of the great Anzac breed, and that we ‘ recognise their splendid courage and work.
I do not desire to delay the House at this time of great feeling, but I do wish to express the hope that ere long peace will come to us. It may be that the disintegration or dissolution of the central European empires may lead to delay in the assembling of the Peace Conference. We hope that it will not, and that the statesmen of the Allied Powers will be able before this year ends to advance a considerable distance towards the signature of peace conditions that will insure stability to the earth and civilization in the years to come. It is idle to hide from ourselves the fact that peace will bring to us great problems just as new as those which the war created, and whether peace come soon, or whether itbe delayed, I hope that this community, through the Commonwealth Parliament, will allow faction to die so that we may face together and settle the problems of peace and build a great and united nation in this country. If we do that, we shall be worthy of the men who have fought for us, and worthy of the people who wish us to do it. In that spirit I recommend for the unanimous acceptance of the House this earnest expression of the feelings of the Australian Parliament in this hour of victory.
.- On behalf of honorable members of the Opposition, I second the resolution which has been so ably movedby the Acting Prime Minister. There can be no two opinions as to the thought and feelings, not only of the Australian people, but of all people throughout the civilized world to-day. We are all delighted that the armistice has been signed, and also that the conditions are such that it is practically impossible for the war to break out again. Those conditions are more than stern; they are extraordinarily severe.
– They are not too stern.
– I do not say they are; but they are strong, and they mean that not only have we arrived, as the King said in his message to our people, at the final end of hostilities, but that we have peace at last. Civilization rejoices after four years of terror and horror, and agony and suffering on the part of all classes of thepeople. Those who have had to carry the Sad news of loved ones lost in the field have gone into practically every class of home in the community. In every class of home there have been tears and anguish, and I agree with the Acting Prime Minister that the mothers, wives and sisters of the men who went overseas have suffered as greatly as the soldiers themselves ; because they have had to bear their sufferings here in silence. Therefore, I pay my tribute of homage to the women of Australia, whom we know best, as well as to those of other parts of the world, for what they have suffered during the past four years of terror and horror. It was less than two months ago that the “ Great Push “ began, and since then events have crowded on us so suddenly that it is difficult to realize that the end has really come. Some of us went through the streets of Melbourne with the seething multitude-
– The finest multitude in the world !
– Yes, and certainly oho of the best behaved. I pay a tribute to the police who were supposed to have been in charge of the hundreds of thousands who have been thronging the’ streets of this city during the past few days, for the way in which they did their work-
Instead of endeavouring to control the crowds, they let them rejoice in their own way, and give full expression to their thankfulness for the termination of the war. On Monday night, when the news came through, one could hear on all sides the words “ Thank God!” uttered just as fervently as they could have been spoken in any cathedral, church, or chapel in any part of the world. The people were indeed thankful to the Almighty that peace had come at last. Many of us hope that this will prove to have been the last of all wars, and that such a League of Nationsor permanent Peace Conference will be established as will render it impossible for a few individuals to cause war to occur again, and by means of which each nation will be able to work out its own destiny. Many people consider that wars are fought in vain, but if, as the result of this war, each nation will be able to work out its own destiny, it will not have been fought in vain-. I honestly believe that our children, and our children’s children, will never be called upon to suffer the awful horrors that have been inflicted on humanity for the last few years. I hope that the experience of this war will teach civilization to use its arts, not for the destruction of human life, but for the preservation of it. If that result is achieved, our descendants will have a happier time than this earth has ever known. It is difficult yet to realize that fighting has really ceased. There are hundreds of thousands of our children who axe nine, ten, eleven, or twelve years of agewho cannot remember when this war commenced. . It has afflicted us so long that it is difficult to get back in thought to the time before hostilities commenced. It is quite possible that mankind will never get back to that time.But I hope that one great lesson we shall have learned from this terrible war will be that all nations, small as well as great. will be able to work out their own destinies, and that a League of Nations or a permanent Peace Conference may be evolved to render it impossible for a few individuals to again cause such wholesaledestruction to human life as has taken place during the past four years.
– As this is a unique and memorable occasion in our history, I ask honorable members to signify their unanimous acceptance of, and concurrence in, the motion by rising in their places and singing the National Anthem.
Question unanimously resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places and singing the National Anthem, concluding with three cheers for the King. Also (on the call of Dr. Maloney), honorable members sang “ God Bless our Men,” concluding with three cheers for “ The men.”
– I have no desire to detain the House now. It must in due course assemble to meet His Excellency the Governor-General, but in order to conform to the requirements of the Standing Orders, I give notice that to-morrow I shall move-
That the House ofRepresentatives of the Commonwealth of Australia declares that it is essential to the future safety and welfare of Australia that the captured German possessions in the Pacific, which are now occupied by the Australian and New Zealand troops, should not in any circumstances be restored to Germany, and that in the consideration and determination of proposals affecting the destination of those islands, Australia should be consulted.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear !
House adjourned at 3.32 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 13 November 1918, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1918/19181113_reps_7_86/>.