7th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. W. Elliot Johnson) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Will the Acting Prime Minister see that, amongst the first troops to return to Australia, are the prisoners of war in enemy countries?
– I am not able to say how far that suggestion figures in the scheme of repatriation at the present time, but it seems a perfectly reasonable request, if it be feasible. I will convey it to the Minister for Defence.
– Already there has been considerable delay in the issue of a medal to relatives of Australian soldiers, and I ask the Assistant Minister for Defence if, in view of recent events, the issue of the medal can be further delayed and its design altered, so that it may include the dates of the beginning and ending of the war, which would indeed make it a commemorative medal ?
– I will submit the suggestion to the Minister for” Defence.
– Has the Acting Prime Minister any objection to approaching “the various life insurance companies, with & view to the removal of the present warpremiums on soldiers’ policies?
– I assume the suggestion to be that, hostilities having terminated, thespecial war premium of so much per £100 should be removed. I do not know whether the companies will be prepared to do that, but I will confer with some of the leading insurance representatives.
– Now that hostilities have ceased, and there is a great probability of a lasting peace being established, will the Cabinet take into consideration the question of granting a general amnesty to all prisoners, political, military, and industrial, who are in prison for offences committed during the course of the war?
– That is certainly not a question that I can answer off-hand. If the honorable member feels keenly on the subject, I ask him to give notice of the question in the ordinary way.
– Has the Acting Minister for the Navy any objection to laying on the table any reports showing the amounts expended on repairsto the Cethana, the first of the American-built vessels to arrive in Australia to the order of the Commonwealth Government?
– I have not the slightest objection to doing so. Up till yesterday the accounts had not been received; but as soon as they come to hand I shall lay thorn on the table, in accordance with the promise I made previously.
– This being Grievance Day, as soon as questions on notices of motion are disposed of in ordinary circumstances, honorable members would be at liberty, under standing order No. 241, to deal with any matter in which they are interested, and. I ask your ruling, sir, as to whether it is in order for the Government to place a notice of motion before the Order of the Day that provides for the immediate stating of the question “ That Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair “ ?
– The notice of motion relating to the Pacific Islands is quite in order and in place on the businesspaper; but the rule which has been laid down is that, where a notice of motionis interposed before the Order of the Dayunder which the Speaker puts the question, “ That I do now leave the chair,” the discussion on it is interrupted - unless the question is previously disposed of - under standing order 119, two hours after the time of the meeting of the House.
– Will the Acting
Minister for the Navy arrange that all officers and sailors of the Navy shall receive a special medal to show that they have been on active service, similar to the medal issued to the Australian Imperial Force ?
– I shall give the matter consideration, and reply to the honorable member later.
– I rise to make a personal explanation. In a newspaper called the Border Morning Mail, published this morning, there appears a report of yesterday’s proceedings in Parliament, in which the following passage occurs : -
Mr. Watt gave notice of a motion that the Pacific colonies must not be returned to Germany. Messrs. Nicholls, Considine, McDonald, and Brennan, although standing with the rest, took no part in the singing of the Natioanl Anthem or the cheering.
So far as I am concerned, that statement is absolutely untrue. Any further repudiation must come from the honorable members concerned. It seems a dastardly thing that some journalist should have inserted in the press a statement of that character. One can only describe him as a “ muckworm,” or something of that description. I have telegraphed to the editor of the paperdenying the allegation, - and demanding an apology, for I claim to have as much loyalty and devotion to the British flag as any other honorable member of this House.
– I bear the charge with Christian fortitude.
-Will the Government, as soon as peace is declared, proclaim a public holiday throughout Australia, and, as a means of. celebrating Peace Day, distribute to the school children a medal of such design as will serve to suitably mark the occasion?
– Of course, it will be advisable and inevitable that, when peace actually comes, a day, and perhaps more than one day, shall be set apart for its celebration. I doubt whether the working classes, or any other class in the community, will return to work after one day. As to the issue of the medal to school children, I can only say that the matter will receive consideration.
– Will the Acting Prime Minister make a statement to the House in reference to the early repeal of the many War. Precautions Regulations other than those dealing with foodstuffs and price fixing?
– The general question of the duration of the War Precautions Act and Regulations is at present receiving the careful attention of the Government, and as soon as I am able to make an announcement in regard to them I shall do so in the House.
– Has the Assistant Ministerfor Defence received any intimation that one of the principal causes for dissatisfaction amongst the trainees at Bendigo Camp was the insufficient or inferior food?
– I have no knowledge of the circumstances.
– I ask the Acting Prime Minister whether his attention has been directed to a letter which appeared in yesterday’s Argus, signed by W. J. Hassall, complaining that he and two daughters were ejected from the Paramount Theatre by the manager, Mr. Hassall’s only offence being that, when the National Anthem was being played, he removed the hat from the head of a man who refused to rise or uncover his head? Can any steps be taken against this manager in the direction of cancelling the licence of the theatre whose manager ejects loyal citizens whose only offence is that they strongly object to the open display of disloyalty on the part of others?
– I had not seen the letter referred to until the honorable member handed it to me a few moments ago. My first, impression is that, before promising anything at all, I should ascertain the other side of the question. I shall make inquiry as to the facts.
– Does the Acting Prime Minister’s answer in regard to the War Precautions Regulations cover the matter of censorship ? If not, will the Cabinet take into consideration the advisability of lifting the censorship on the newspapers of Australia?
– There are two faults about the honorable member’s question. One is that it has already been dealt with by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. West.) The second is that it arises out of an answer to a question which has just been given, and I am not permitted to furnish a reply to it.
Teachers of Dancing or Singing
– Is it the intention of the Treasurer to impose the entertainments tax on teachers of dancing or singing who receive their remuneration in weekly instead of quarterly payments?
– I am surprised to hear that the Act is applied to the teaching profession, but I cannot say whether the legal effect of it has been correctly interpreted. However. I shall confer with the Commissioner of Taxation upon the matter.
– What steps have been taken to give effect to the recent promise of the Government to give representation to the wheat growers on the Central Wheat Board ?
– As I have intimated previously, I have made representation to the State Governments concerned asking them to co-operate with the Commonwealth. As far as I know, no answer has yet been received.
– Have the Govern ment decided to liberate interned persons, more particularly Australian citizens who have been interned for action taken by them directed to the liberation of Ireland?
– The terms of the armistice, so far as I understand them, do not stipulate that any civilian or military interuees of an enemy country are to be released by the British and Allied Forces. The conditions are that all civilian and military internees held by the Central Powers are to be released without reciprocity.
– Have the Government received any offers for the wheat held in the various Wheat Pools?
– I cannot say. It must be quite evident to all that a man to be a Commonwealth Minister must be a walking encyclopedia.
– I will look into the matter and see what steps can be taken in that direction. I will advise the honorable member later on.
– Will the Minister for Repatriation call together his deputies in every State in order to put on foot active business administration in his Department, so that, on ‘the early return of our Australian Forces, repatriation will become of real and vital benefit to the men?
– I will put the honorable member’s suggestion before the Minister.
– Now that the war is ended, will the Defence Department remit the terrible punishments inflicted on the Italians who are in our midst, and who are the only race amongst those fighting with the Allies which has been singled out for such treatment?
– I will submit the matter to the Minister for Defence.
– In view of the spceial work performed by Australian nurses at Salonika, and the extraordinary hardships they have had to endure, will the Government give them an opportunity of visiting England before they return to Australia ?
– I do not know whether it will be possible to carry out the honorable member’s suggestion, but I will submit it to the Minister for Defence.
– In view of the termination of hostilities, will the Acting Prime Minister allow publication tobe given to the details of the arrangement entered into between the British Board of Trade and the lead and zinc companies of Australia?
– I could not say whether the details can be made public, but I should imagine that no information will be given to the enemy in regard to contraband of war and material for munition making until peace is signed.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral favorably consider the claims of the telephonists in reference to the hard work they performed during Monday and Tuesday last?
– The telephonists are always considered favorably, and dealt with fairly.
– In view of the persis tent reports that efforts will be made to remove Australian produce speedily now that the war is over, can the Assistant Minister for the Navy inform the House of what steps have already been taken in the matter?
– The honorable member must realize that it has been impossible to make arrangements in the limited time we have had since we heard of the signing of the armistice, but he can rest assured that anything that can be done by the Prime Minister in Great Britain or by the Department at this end, with the object of removing Australian produce speedily, will be done. As soon as any definite step is taken I shall give it publicity.
– Seeing that haymaking is now in full swing throughout the best agricultural districts of Australia, and that many men are doubtful as to whether their half-ruined crops should be cut for hay or left for grain; I. would like to know whether the Government have arranged any scheme by which such crops may be cut and preserved for fodder supplies ?
– During the last eight or nine days the Government have been endeavouring to provide, in conjunction with the States of New South Wales, South Australia, and Victoria, for the cutting in hay of a reasonable amount of grain that might otherwise become wheat. I have had considerable difficulty in getting the States into line. They are not quite into line yet. For instance, South Australia is prepared to accept a lot of work in connexion with the scheme, but is not prepared to accept any financial responsibility. The guaranteed responsibility in connexion with the Wheat Pool was shared between the Commonwealth and the States, and we were anxious to have an arrangement on a “similar basis in regard to fodder supplies. I am still hopeful that it will be complete before the season is too far advanced, so that in the bulk of the hay belt we may be able to save a good deal of the crop for fodderpurposes.
The followingpapers were presented : -
Auditor-General - Comments on certain remarks made in Parliament by the Honorable W. G. Higgs, M.P.
Public Service Act - Promotion of W. Thomson, Department of the Treasury.
Railways Act - By-law No.8.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorablemember’s questions are as follow: -
Chief Inspector: Employment of Returned Soldiers - Activities of Department
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Acting Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
With reference to the contract entered into with the Sloane Shipyards Corporation, United States of America -
Does the contract lay it down that the ships are to be “ constructed in accordance with plans and pursuant to specifications for hull and engines to be approved by purchaser’s representatives “ ?
If so, who is such representative?
Has he approved such plans and specifications?
Will his approval prejudice any action by the Commonwealth in connexion with faulty design or construction?
Does the contract stipulate that “ the workmanship in saidvessels shall be first class in every respect”?
Does the contract stipulate that any defects in the material or workmanship appearing within six months after completion are to be remedied by the builder in America at the builder’s own cost?
Does the above stipulation invalidate any Commonwealth claim for the cost of remedying defect’s in Australia?1
Does the contract stipulate for the delivery of four ships on or before 30th December, 1917?
On what dates were the said ships delivered ?
Does the contract impose any penalties whatever for late delivery?
Who drew up the form of contract?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Next of Kin: Medals - House Badges
asked the Assistant Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’a questions are as follow : -
Dismissal of Watchmen
asked the Assistant Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Whether he will give the House the following information: -
The names of the Home Service Personnel Commission whose recommendation, it is alleged, caused the dismissals of the two onearmed returned soldiers (one of whom has forty wounds) who were employed in the Defence Department?
What salaries or allowances, if any, are paid to such Commissioners?
Does the Minister consider the treatment of returned soldiers referred” to in paragraph (1) helps enlistment?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
The Home Service Personnel Commission recommended a reduction in numbers, and did not deal with any particular individual employed. It is regretted that at the present time there are no suitable positions in this Department in which the services of these men could be utilized, but their cases have been brought under the notice of the Repatriation authorities with the view of suitable employment being found for them elsewhere.
The names of the Home Service Personnel Commission are -Brigadier-General G. Ramaciotti, Lieutenant-Colonel P. M. McFarlane, Lieutenant-Colonel A. H. Thwaites, Mr. C. H. Reading.
Brigadier-General G. Ramaciotti - Salary, £800 per annum; travelling allowance,£ 1 per diem. Lieutenant-Colonel P. M. McFarlane - Salary, £475 per annum; travelling allowance, 15s. per diem. Lieutenant-Colonel A. H. Thwaites - Salary, £685 per annum; travelling allowance, 15s. per diem. Mr. C. H. Reading - Salary, £1,500 per annum; travelling allow-, ancc, 25s. per diem. Travelling allowance is payable only when absent on duty from Melbourne.
The Minister cannot justify the retention of men for whom there is no employment, and does not consider that such retention will benefit enlistments.
asked the Minister in Charge of Recruiting, 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 follows : -
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Whether he will consider the case of those retired public servants who had completed over twenty years’ continuous State and Federal service, but who received only six months’ pay at the end of their term, instead of having been paid a pro ratâ amount?
– To meet such cases will require amending legislation, and the matter is now under consideration.
Reduction of Line Officers - Dismissal of Temporary Employee - Postal Sorters
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made, and I hope to be able to furnish the honorable member with a reply tomorrow.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The following information has been obtained from the Acting Commonwealth Public Service Commissioner : -
I have no power to interfere with an award of the Arbitration Court.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether the Government has considered the advisability of placing the control of military pensions under the Minister forRepatriation for the purpose of insuring a more generous consideration of the claims of each applicant?
– The Government has decided to transfer the control of military pensions to the Minister for Repatriation, and steps in that direction are now being taken.
asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Dr. Waite, a representative of theRockfeller Institute, which devotes special attention to this disease, in respect of which he carried on investigations in Papua, is conducting a campaign of investigation and cure in Queensland in conjunction with the State Government. He is at the present time in Melbourne, and I am arranging a demonstration to which I am about to invite honorable members, in order that they may become acquainted with the nature and ravages of the disease and the economic interest which the Commonwealth has in suppressing it.
Frauds : “ Credulity “ of Firms
– On the 31st October the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) asked the following question: -
Having reference to the statement by the Royal Commission on Navy and Defence Administration that in certain departmental frauds “ the fault obviouslylay in the unquestioning credulity of the firms concerned,” what are the names of the said firms, and what were the moneys paid to the officer named in paragraph 28 of the report?
In reply to my request, I have now received a communication from the GovernorGeneral intimating that His Excellency has received a report from the Royal Commission embodying the following particulars regarding names of the firms referred to and of the amounts paid by them to the officer in question : -
Name of Firm and Amount Paid. - Gibson, Battle and Co.,100; do., £300; Fyvie and
Stewart, £250; do.,£200; Knox, Schlapp and Co., £50; Strachan, Murray and Shannon, £160; Taylor Bros. Ltd., £50; Melbourne Steamship Co., for Nestles Milk Co., £100; Hackett Bros., £100; Houlder Bros. & Co., £707 12s. 6d.; Howard, Smith Ltd., for Australian Paper Mills, £100 and £24; William Adams and Co., £50.
OPERATIONS Of AUSTRALIAN WHEAT BOARD.
– The following particulars are now furnished in compliance with a request by the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) : -
– Recently the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) asked the following questions : -
In answer to inquiries which were then being made, the following replies have been furnished: -
– In reply to a question recently asked by the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Pigott) with reference to an Advisory Board in respect of land purchases, I am now able to inform him that the resumption of land is purely a State matter, and that the Minister for Repatriation has already intimated to the various State Ministers for Lands that he has no objection to Local Committees assisting their Departments in an advisory capacity.
Applications for Discharge
– In reply to a question asked by the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory), asked on the 25th October, as to applications for the discharge of Anzacs, I am now informed that the cases referred to by the honorable member were very carefully considered, but owing to the large number of applications for discharge received the Department has been compelled to draw the line very rigidly, and many cases quite as hard have had to be refused.
– On the 1st November the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Pigott) asked a question with reference to consideration that may be given to soldiers who have been on active service in the East. I am now able to state that this matter will receive full consideration in connexion with the question of demobilization when the time arrives for action in that regard. It is one of the important factors, but by no means the only one, to be considered in this connexion. Full weight will, however, be given by the Government to the length and conditions of service in arriving at a decision.
– On the 6th inst. the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Finlayson) asked the following questions : -
Mr. Fegan be transferred to the State of Queensland, and detained there in custody in either the military or civil gaol within a reasonable distance of Brisbane, so that his family may have an opportunity of visiting him?
In reply to my inquiries, I am now able to furnish the following answers: -
– On the 1st November the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) asked a question as to making retrospective a regulation in respect to fines on soldiers who subsequently lost their lives. I beg to inform him that this was considered by the Government, but it was decided not to do as suggested. It has not been the policy of the Department to make approvals ofthis nature retrospective, e.g., increases in the payment of separation allowance were recently approved to date from 5th April, 1918. A great deal of work would be involved in investigating past cases, if the approval were made retrospective, and it is doubtful whether adjustment could be made in respect of casualties which occurred during the earlier period of the war. No information is available which would enable the amount of expenditure which would be incurred in back-dating the approval to be calculated, but it is estimated that between £60,000 and £80,000 would be involved. Approximately 40,000 cases will require to he investigated, and it is estimated that payments will require to be made in about 10,000 cases.
Mr.WISE. - On the 6th November the honorable member for Newcastle asked a question as to the military arrest of an Italian, who had not had an opportunity of adjusting his private affairs. If the Italian referred to is Tamborini, this man is not now confined. He was granted leave by the Italian Vice-Consul to arrange his private affairs, and did not embark with his compatriots.
– On the 31st October the honorable member for New England (Lt.-Colonel Abbott) asked a question with reference to naval and military defence and the necessity of bringing experts to Australia in order that they may advise thereon. I desire to inform the honorable member that the Minister for Defence does not consider the time has arrived to review this matter from the military side, but when it does he is confident that we shall have available Australian officers who, as a result of the experience gained in this war, will be quite competent to advise the Government on this matter.
Relievingc. and Cl Men
– On the 11th October the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) asked a question with respect to the relief of men now in England unfit for further service out of England. I am now able to inform the honorable member that the Australian military authorities in London have been asked to change the unfit personnel periodically, returning those thus relieved to Australia for discharge. A certain number of qualified clerks who are unfit for active service have been despatched to the Pay Corps in England and to Egypt for duty in lines of communication.
Inquiry into Complaints.
– On the 24th October, the honorable member for Illawarra (Mr. Hector Lamond) referred to a press statement that trainees at Broadmeadows Camp were kept twenty-four hours without food. I now beg to state that the Commandant, 3rd Military District, reports that it is not correct that trainees were kept twenty-four hours without food on going into camp. Instructions were issued by the Commandant, 3rd Military District, that the men were to carry twenty-four hours’ rations with them as a precautionary measure. This order was apparently misunderstood by the officers commanding concerned, and the usual arrangements for the feeding of the men were not made, but an adequate supply of bread, jam, and tea was provided, portion of which was not consumed. Instructions have been issued to the Commandant that will prevent a recurrence of the matters complained of.
– On the 25th October the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) referred to the supply of shoddy yarn which had got into general use. I am now able to state that if the honorable member’s statement refers to yarn supplied by the Government Woollen Mills to the Repatriation Department for hand-loom weaving, and to knitting wool supplied to the Red Cross for socks, he is evidently under a misapprehension. In the first place, no shoddy yarn has been supplied by the Government Woollen Mills, and secondly the yarn for making cloth and yarn for knitting wool are very dissimilar. If the yarn supplied for hand-loom weaving has been used for knitting socks, nothing but unsatisfactory results can be expected.
Armistice with Germany: Address to His Majesty the King.
– I have to inform the House that, accompanied by honorable members, I yesterday presented to His Excellency the Governor-General for transmission by cablegram to the Right Honorable the Secretary of State for the Colonies for presentation to His Majesty the King the Address agreed to by the
House in reference to the surrender of Germany. His Excellency was pleased to make the following reply: -
It is with feelings of deep emotion that on this, the greatest day in the history of our Empire, I receive the addresses in which both Houses of the Australian Parliament express their sentiments of loyalty to His Majesty the King, and tender their congratulations on the great victory which, after four and a quarter years of desperate fighting, has crowned the arms of the Allies. Australia remembers ‘ with pride the part played by her sons in the mighty struggle, and having borne her share of the heat and burden of the day, she rejoices with proud thankfulness in the overwhelming success achieved, under God’s providence, by the relentless pressure nf the Navy, and the heroic valour of the soldiers, and by the patient tenacity of the peoples of the British Empire and of the Allies. I shall have the honour, Mr. President and Mr. Speaker, of forthwith transmitting to TI is Majesty the King; the loyal message which yon have tendered to me on behalf of the House of Representatives.
Disposition after the War.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives 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 these islands Australia should be consulted.
Those who apprehend the gravity of this motion will observe that it is appropriately divided into two parts. The first part, which is in the negative form, declares for the non-restoration of these captured German islands in the Pacific, and the second, which is in the positive form, declares for a consultation with the Imperial authorities before those interests are determined. It is thus made plain that Australia is not asking for. itself any additional territory. These captured islands are supposed to be rich, and to have a future of great potentiality. But we did not enter the war for plunder, and it is not because of any such desire that we are seeking a clear and definite line of action with regard to them. It is true that when we found the cost of the war piling up upon our people we expected an indemnity for loss incurred by this country, and, possibly, in respect of the war expenditure that fell upon us. It is equally true, ‘if one looks carefully at the proposals for peace which are to guide so largely the deliberations of the statesmen around the Peace table - I refer to the fourteen points which emanated from the President of the United States of America - that in none of them is there mention of an indemnity, but merely a reference to reparation for certain classes of losses inflicted upon the injured nations. There are other losses, however, which every nation, and we amongst them, have had to face.
It may be said that if Germany is dismembered - that if the great Confederation, in addition to shedding its kings, also sheds the ties that bind together its scattered parts, so that the German Empire is divided into a congeries of isolated, and, possibly, rival independent Republics - it will not be possible for us to secure from it an indemnity or to obtain even the reparation for which President Wilson’s Note provides. If that be so, it may be necessary for Australia to take the view, apart from others that I am about to enunciate, that we or some cue should hold these captured German Possessions in fief and in trust for the payment of some of the losses to which Australia has had to submit in consequence of the war. I make that statement in distinct recognition of the fact that in certain quarters it has become fashionable to speak of “no annexations “ as being a humanitarian doctrine. In regard to some of the territories that are in issue in this struggle it is possibly a wise and beneficent doctrine, but it is not so with regard to territories that have been recently acquired; that have been money-making propositions for the Germans ever since they secured them; and over the backs of the aboriginal populations of which the whip of Germany has been extended ever since she has possessed them. Notwithstanding the statement, fashionable in some quarters, that there should be no annexations, we, as trustees of the future, ought to see if it is not possible to obtain a true indemnity or proper reparation, that we do hold in pawn some territory that will help to relieve the debt of the people of this country in future years.
We submit this motion, however, on higher grounds. We submit it because we seek to insure the safety of the lives of future generations in Australia. This is no new, no party, conception of the position. It does not evolve from this or from any particular Government, but has been the doctrine of the most educated type of Australian sentiment for over thirty years. I. have not had time, in the rushing life of to-day, to thoroughly scan the history of the genesis of this policy in Australia, but I can go back to the year 1883, and give one typical illustration of how statesmen had deliberated upon this question long before this Parliament was called into existence, and had established with regard to it a public view and conscience. In December, 1883, there was an Intercolonial Conference, at which the following resolution was passed: -
That ‘ the further acquisition of dominion in the Pacific south of the Equator by any foreign power would be highly detrimental to the safety and well-being of the British possessions in Australasia, and injurious to the interests of the Empire.
It was in August of the following year that - notwithstanding that the Australian communities, through the lips of their rulers, spoke emphatically regarding this matter in this and many other ways - Germany was permitted to make the annexations now known as German New Guinea, Wilhelmshaven, and other islands of the Archipelago. The naval opinion on this question - and we as laymen must seek advice as to what is the naval conception of our responsibilities and dangers - tends only in the one direction. It is in the direction that, from a naval defence point of view, Australia has an outlying frontier, and that a- large part of that frontier is made up of Papua, the Bismarck Archipelago, the Solomon Islands, the Fiji group and their channels, and neighbouring waters. Beyond that frontier there are look-out posts which it is important that Australia should understand, and, if possible, govern. The late German possessions in German New Guinea, chiefly the Bismarck Archipelago and the island of Bougainville, in the Solomons, form,- perhaps, the most important part of that frontier. The naval advisers of the Government go further, and say that, from a strictly naval point’ of view, the Bismarck Archipelago and the surrounding possessions, which we now hold under military occupation, constitute the main strategic point, of the whole of the Pacific. They advise the Government that to obtain the same degree of defence as the possession of these islands would mean - if we possibly could obtain them - would cost Australia an additional expenditure of several million pounds per annum. If these possessions, or others like them, were allowed to remain in the hands of an enemy, or even a potential enemy, that would be the position.
It is, I think, within the knowledge of honorable members, although not within the knowledge of the country generally, that in one of these possessions there is perhaps one of the finest outlines for a naval base in the southern hemisphere. We are advised that there are there several first-rate harbors within reasonable distance of one another, and of ready access : that there is one magnificent river, navigable for some 300 or 400* miles from its mouth; that it has no bar at its entrance, being of estuary formation, and that it affords shelter and all the means of sustenance and equipment such as probably no harbor in Australia could supply. We are advised, further, that in this group there are all the indications of oil supplies, which would form an invaluable auxiliary asset; and that it is beyond the hurricane belt which, from the naval point of view, apart altogether from the other geographical features to which [ have alluded, makes it immensely important. It is said by the advisers of the Government’ that if we were to allow these possessions to gravitate or drift back to even a crippled enemy such as Germany might be after this war, they would still form a menace so imminent that, within the limits of one day, an attack could be made by aeroplane upon the coast of Australia, and, within the limits of two or three days, by ordinary naval craft. If honorable members care to study the map they will see that from one point in German New Guinea, by a direct accessible line, the distance to Townsville is only 1,050 miles. I have here a map which I shall be glad to show honorable members if they desire to see it.
These are broadly, and in very rugged sketch, the plain, frank opinions of the naval authorities of Australia in advising the Government of the danger from the naval point of view of allowing these territories to revert to enemy control. I ask honorable members, in deliberating upon them, merely to think, as laymen are entitled to do, on the lessons of this war. An attack such as would be possible from striking points of this kind could be made, not only on our ports, but on our territories bordering thereon, as well as upon all our trading and shipping routes. If in the future, there is to be warfare - and there is probably no man daring enough to predict that war may not recur, despite the smashing and humiliating defeat of Germany, at this stage, from a military point of view - and if submarine warfare is to be the feature of the future, such a danger spot might practically cut off Australia from the rest of the world as far as shipping and cable communication are concerned. Thus, instead of that great immunity that we have enjoyed during these four years, thanks to the fact that the British Navy did sweep the seas of German craft, Australia might have no possibility of exchanging her products or her men. Her oversea trade, upon which her very life blood depends, would vanish, and instead of prosperity and immunity, we should have an awful isolation, such as a distant community of this kind dare not think of with equanimity.
I want to quote some illustrations of the conception which the authorities in Germany had, and, for all we know, still have, of these captured possessions. Admiral von Gapow, a prominent adviser in naval affairs to the German Government, maintained in a speech in 1917 that unless Germany got back her former sea possessions her entire trade in the
Far East would be crippled. He went on to say -
Germany must insist upon having New Caledonia and French Oceania. The German Empire wants a naval base. We must establish in the German world a ship route which will make “ her independent of England, America, and Japan.
– That does hot apply to the Germany of Liehknecht.
– My honorable friend had better go there. I do not propose to deal with the converted Germany on which my friend is probably hanging his hopes, but with Germany as we have known her, in all her craft, duplicity, and her merciless years.
– Including nmeteentwentieths of the Socialists.
– I regret to think that they may have been the tools of the ruling class; at any rate, they were “ in it “ up to their very necks.
Herr Ernest Kienetz, who was for some time, and up to the middle of this year, spokesman for the Nationalist party of Germany, amongst other things has written -
The real value of our South Sea and Australasian possessions is to ‘ be found in other regions than economic. We must hold them for the world’s prestige, without which we cannot have a world policy or a colonial policy. We dare not disappear from the earth’s greatest ocean if only because of the Chinese, Australian, Anglo-Saxon, and Japanese antagonism, which is so great that a peaceful settlement is hardly possible. This antagonism must be exploited to the utmost. Let us, therefore, retain oar South Sea possessions, and try to increase them.
An influential journal in Germany, the Die Fremdenblatt, of Hamburg, as late as the middle of this year said -
Germany will return to the southern hemisphere, and establish coaling stations and fortified military posts,so that she may defy Australian and New “Zealand ambitions.
The last quotation I shall make - because they are all of a piece, although they come from different types of mind, representing, not merely the military, but apparently the whole mind of Germany - is from Professor Paul Preuess, of whom we have read a good deal in recent years. He is a fellow shareholder of the Kaiser in the New Guinea Trading and Development Company,which was known as the “ Long-handled Company,” with ramifications extending from Tahiti to Western Africa. Writing in the Nachrichten, he says -
It would be an unforgivable and irreparable mistake to abandon the South Sea colonies and withdraw from the Pacific, where for three decades Germany has possessed a rising little colonial empire.
Then he proceeds characteristically to say -
Germany’s whole object in the Pacific must he to make mischief.
He then goes on to show at length how this could he done. It is as plain as the sun at noonday what the object is, and why this crafty, restless, and predatory people made up their minds to settle down in this great key-point of the new world that is now developing.
It is suggested by interjection, and also by utterances in British communities, that there has come “to Germany a great change of heart because she has driven the Hohenzollerns into captivity. If Germany really means business, she will demonstrate the fact to the Allied nations by delivering over to the great Allied Council the men responsible for the war. When she has done this, and she could do it if she liked, then doubtless the civilized world will regard it as an act of honest and sincere reform, and not a piece of pious humbug. But I do not believe that men can change suddenly. It is true that there have been some great conversions - St. Paul, of Tarsus, got his on the road to Damascus - but, generally, I am not a believer in such sudden changes; and certainly not in the case of a people with the psychology of the Prussians, whose roots of brutality and ferocity are laid too deep, more particularly when one sees, as one might have expected to see, that, although this Republic has arisen, Hindenburg still offers to head the army of the Republic. There is no change of voice or heart visible so far as we can see in the present attitude of Germany.
I am not speculating whether this group of German Republics - the fragments of a broken Confederation - can run a great Navy, or whether they can establish a colonial policy; only the future can teach us that. In the meantime it is better to be sure than sorry.
– We must look for possibilities.
– As my honorable friend says, we must look to the possibility of a recrudescence of the evil which we have had to confront in the last few years. I have no hesitation,- in view of the facts before the Government - and they are well-known to the country - in saying that any proposition to restore these islands to Germany, either in her past or present state, is a grotesque, preposterous, and dangerous dream, and I want the House to affirm that by this motion. I say, further, that from an Australian point ofview the restoration would be equivalent to a German victory - Australia should make up her mind as to that.
So far as the Government are aware, New Zealand stands four-square with us in this matter. The utterances of New Zealand leaders, irrespective of party, have, like the utterances of the Australian Government, gone straight against restoration. It is perfectly plain that the interests of the two Dominions are absolutely identical.
An interjection fell from my honorable friend, the honorable member for Darwin (Mr. Spence), that the German Government had proved cruel to the natives of these equatorial islands. If there was no other reason, civilized humanity would be justified in expelling Germany from countries where she had subjected the aboriginal people to the grossest cruelty. It may be said, without any exaggeration, that in no island country over which the German flag has flown during the last thirty years is there anything in the hearts of the people buthatred of their German masters.
– In Africa, too.
– There are the same conditions in Africa, equatorial and otherwise. I have said that this motion is in the negative form, and I think my honorable friends opposite will solemnly agree with the wisdom of that. I do not know whether they are going to vote for the motion, but I can well imagine that any member opposite, or on this side, would find it hard to oppose a proposal of the kind. The Australian people would want to know what such a man was thinking of with regard to the future generations of this continent.
– I am sorry you have said that.
Mr.WATT. - Why ?
– It is a threat.
– It is not a threat to my honorable friend; it is a threat only to the man who is in the habit of treating ordinary comments as threats, and this the honorable member never does.
– It is a suggestion that this motion is a loaded gun.
– I do not think that the honorable member is afraid of being shot with such a gun.
– I am not; I am going to vote for the motion.
– That I am glad to hear. I was about to say - though I regret in one way to say it - that this motion is in line with the resolution passed at the notorious Perth Conference.
– The Conference in Perth.
– The resolution passed at Perth was -
That the following statement be forwarded to England : - “ That this Conference, representing the whole Australian Labour party, expresses its earnest hope that in the negotiations for peace, Great Britain will not be delayed or embarrassed by the statement that Australia insists on the retention of the captured Pacific possessions.”
The motion I propose does not take that stand; but asks Great Britain to see that these possessions are not handed back to Germany; but it will be seen that the Perth resolution happens to coincide with the form in which the Government have framed the motion before us.
Honorable members may speculate as to what will happen if Australia or Great Britain does not possess these islands. Already a suggestion has been made that these possessions should pass under some form of international and allied control.
– Does the honorable gentleman not remember his Minister for the Navy saying that we would hang on to the islands to the last gasp?
– I do not remember that.
– It is sometimes convenient to forget !
– The honorable member has an unpleasant memory, which is like many other unpleasant things about him.
– I must ask honorable members to cease these crossinterjections.
– The personal offensiveness of the Acting Prime Minister
– Order !
– It has taken much to bring the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) to a state of acquiescence or somnolence. I am not now predicating as to the final destination of the islands, but as a word of warning I say that international control of any kind in isolated or insular possessions has never been a success. I am quite prepared to leave the matter to the statesmen at the Peace table, so long as they know exactly the Australian view, so that whatever happens these islands shall in no case be handed back to Germany.
So much for the negative aspect of the motion. Now for the positive. We are asking that we shall be consulted in the consideration and determination of the proposals affecting the destination of these islands. This, I think, we have a perfect right to ask as a British people. We are not putting it in the form of a demand, though perhaps we might be justified in going that far. This matter touches us so nearly, and will so influence for weal or woe the life and work of this continent for many generations, that we, as trustees, would be recreant if we did not definitely say what our views are.
Australia has always led in the study of the problems of the South and West Pacific. There is a world of literature and history surrounding this question,, and it is not a bright or cheering history for Britishers to read. It is a history of lethargy and neglect for which the Colonial Office was chiefly responsible - not the British people, and not the British Government as a Government, but the bureaucracy which resided at the Colonial Office. This Department has always been hours behind the clock in regard to all the great events in the Southern Hemisphere, and we do not wish that to occur in the present crisis. When the acquisition of Fiji was established by Britain in 1870, it was at the earnest appeal and solicitation of Australia; otherwise Britain, even then, would not have acted. We know the history of Papua, how daring statesmen in the north had practically to hoist the flag themselves. British statesmen who. had never visited these southern waters, and knew very little of the possibilities of this country, or of the tributary archipelagoes, secured only a portion of Papua, when the British flag might equitably, properly, and successfully have flown over both sections. As to the New Hebrides, I remember, in this connexion, the ex-Prime Minister of the Commonwealth (Alfred Deakin), and how, in 1887, when a delegate for Victoria at the first great jubilee of Queen Victoria, he warned British statesmen and .the public what complications to the Empire those Possessions might involve. And I remember his phrase that rang throughout Great Britain for the first time, that “ The Australians are a pacific people, so pacific that they want the southern Pacific.” We do not want quite that much, but we do want that safety which springs from proper precautionary acquisitions in that ocean. In view of our history, of our danger, and our interests, we have a perfect right to say to the Mother Country that we desire to be consulted. But for the fact that A.ustralia has an educated conscience and opinion on this subject, there would not be any British opinion in regard to the Pacific, even in the centre of the Empire. This war has brought Australia into the blood stream of the world, and we can never got out of it again so long as nations are nations. That brings to us great opportunities, of course, but also it brings boundless responsibilities, and amongst many others will arise the question of determining what our foreign policy, to speak in popular parlance, will be with regard to those waters and those islands. We must be a vigilant people, and an educated people as to what this responsiblity means, and encourage public thought upon these questions, in addition to those domestic problems that hitherto have received almost exclusive attention from the people in times of political crisis. We must be courageous, and speak out our minds. There is a right and a wrong way of doing that. This, I think, is the right time to speak, and this motion is the right method, because this Parliament is the best qualified medium to. voice Australian public opinion, and to watch with jealous care Australia’s interests. I think the motion is all that is necessary at the present time. I dwell with emphasis on that point. Such a proposition could be framed in more minatory terms, and have a wider scope, but I think the phraseology is proper,’ and covers sufficient ground for the present occasion. It will strengthen the head of the Government, who, in Britain, is s]>eaking his mind in regard to this and other matters. It will help and fortify those who may sit as the guardians’ of British interests at the Peace table, and my impression is that when this question is to be determined, the future destination of these countries must be placed in the Peace bond. The matter must not be left in doubt. It is not fair to the unborn generations of this country, or to the 5,000,000 people who have built up this island continent, and safeguarded so large a seaboard, that any “uncertainty should surround this matter. If the matter is left in doubt, in addition to the heavy load of indebtedness incurred in this war, there will be thrust upon us great expenditure for naval protection which, without this menace, would not fall upon us. Australia must be a great country for the white people of the world, and we appeal to the statesmen of the Mother Country to see that we get a chance of working out our own destiny without fear and trembling, by placing the future destiny of the Pacific Islands in the Peace bond. I recommend the ‘-motion to the House in the hope that it will secure unanimous acceptance.
.- I ask the Acting Prime Minister to consent to the adjournment of the debate.
Ministerial Members. - No; let us carry the motion without debate.
– According to Mr. Speaker’s ruling only about forty minutes more are available to us for discussion of the motion before it must be determined. I do not think that time is sufficient.
– We intend to go on with the debate, and if it is interrupted under the Standing Orders, we shall resume it later.
– As the Acting Prime Minister has stated, we are discussing a motion the gravity of which can hardly be over-estimated. This is one of the most important motions ever brought before this House. The Acting Prime Minister rose at 3.16 to move the motion, and the Standing Orders require that the debate shall terminate at 4.30.
– The time can be extended.
– It cannot be extended. This is grievance day, and I deliberately asked Mr. Speaker’s ruling as to the procedure when a notice of motion is interposed before the ordinary grievance day motion. There are other matters to be considered. A few of us still have our rights in this House. We are not the National Labour party; we are the Labour party; the others are the rats.
– Honorable members opposite are the skunks.
– Order! I ask the honorable member for Hindmarsh to withdraw that remark.
– J withdraw it, and ask that the Leader of the Opposition be required to withdraw his statement that honorable members on this side are rats.
– Certainly I withdraw the statement. It is all very well for honorable members supporting the Government to think they are the only persons who count. There are others who still have a few rights in this House.
– This motion is only a trap.
– I must again insist on honorable members being allowed to address the House without these frequent interjections across the chamber. Several times I have called attention to this disorderly practice, and if it is persisted in, I shall have to ask the House to take action.
– The Acting Prime Minister has assured me that, when the time comes for the grievance motion to be submitted, this discussion will be discontinued, and resumed at a later hour, if necessary. It is not right for even the majority in the House to prevent the discussion of matters which can be dealt with only on grievance day. The honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) has had on the notice-paper for some time a motion which he desires to bring forward to-day.
The motion before the House carries my mind back a few years to the time when you, sir, on many occasions raised the question of the future of the New Hebrides and the other islands in the Pacific, and urged the necessity for the Australian Parliament expressing its mind on the subject. The Acting Prime Minister has stated that he was able to obtain support for the motion from the resolutions of the Inter-State Labour Conference recently held in Perth. With one portion of his remarks I am in hearty agreement, namely, that if persons or nations in any place adjacent to Australia ill-treat the native population, we have a right to protest. I am not unmindful of the fact that Professor Andrews recently made representations to the Government and to others concerning the treatment of Indian natives in Fiji by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. If it is right for us to say that the Germans have acted criminally in ill-treating the natives in German New Guinea, the Marshall Islands, the Caroline Islands, and the Bismarck Archipelago, it is equally our right to forbid’ the Colonial Sugar Refining Company ill-treating citizens of India who are working in Fiji. The reference of the Acting Prime Minister to the ill-treatment of the natives was only an appeal to the sentiment of the people, with the idea that he would thereby assist the passage of the motion. I hope we shall extend our protest and say that, not only do weobject to the ill-treatment of natives inthe German possessions, but that we forbid the almost inhuman treatment of natives of India by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company in Fiji.
– Is this a deliberate attempt to foul Australia’s own nest?
– I do not catch the honorable member’s point. If the honorable member means that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, being an Australian corporation, should be expected to act better than the German settlers in the neighbouring islands, I certainly agree with him. That company should treat its employees properly whether they are in the islands of the Pacific or elsewhere. I have no desire to say that Australian companies generally treat their employees as Professor Andrews said the Colonial Sugar Refining Company treats the Indians in Fiji.
– The honorable member should tell the House what Professor Andrews did say.
– In any case, what has that to do with the motion?
– The Acting Prime Minister said that it had been suggested that we have a right to protest against the return of the islands to Germany on account of the ill-treatment of the natives by Germany. I say that if we are to interfere in the German islands on that score, we should also interfere in the case of ill-treatment by an Australian company. I desire to quote from a booklet that honorable members received to-day from the Directorate of “War Propaganda. It refers to clause 5 of President Wilson’s fourteen points, which, I think bears uponthe motion we are dealing with, and is as follows: -
The Directorate of War Propaganda is Government-controlled body, and this booklet goes on to quote a speech of President Wilson to Congress on 11th February of this year, following upon the addresses by the German Chancellor and the Austrian Premier in reply to what the British Prime Minister (Mr. Lloyd George) and the American President stated in January -
While deprecating any desire to interfere in European affairs, or any claim to finality in his statement of the principles of settlement, he insists on the importance of the principle of “ self-determination-“ for all nations, small as well asgreat, and the necessity for a settlement which all can unite to guarantee and maintain. … He lays down the following . . principles as a test of the feasibility of further discussions: -
That each part of the final settlement must be based upon the essential justice of that particular case, and upon such adjustments as arc most likely to bring a peace that will be permanent.
That peoples and provinces are not to be bartered about from sovereignty to sovereignty as if they were mere chattels and pawns in a game, even the great game, now forever discredited, of the balance of power. . . .
In a speech to the Mexican journalists on the 10th June last, President Wilson said America would proceed to show the world “ not only that we do not want anything out of the war, but that we will not take anything.”
– Was it Germany’s policy not to take anything?
– I am speaking of the points which are supposed to be the basis of the settlement of this awful struggle in which we have been engaged. In his Mount Vernon speech on the 4th July of this year, President Wilson said -
The settlement of every question, whether of territory or sovereignty, of economic arrangement or of political relationship, upon the basis of the free acceptance of that settlement by the people immediately concerned, and not upon the basis of the material interest or advantage of any other nation or people which may desire a different settlement for the sake of its own exterior influence or mastery.
All these points are specially mentioned in this document issued by the Federal Directorate of War Propaganda.
– Is the honorable member quoting them in opposition to the present motion ?
– No, but we want to make it absolutely clear, as an Australian Parliament, that we are not out to grab territory. No matter what the press would say, I would vote against the motion if the Acting Prime Minister had stated that its object is to grab territory for Australia, but behas made it perfectly clear that there are two sides to the motion - a negative side, whichsays that in no circumstances do we desire the islands to be restored to Germany, and a positive side, in which we declare that in the consideration of the proposals affecting the determination of these islands Australia should he consulted. I am not in favour of land-grabbing. In the words of President “Wilson, we do not want to make anything out of the war.
– Quite so; but are you in favour of the motion as it is worded ?
– The motion says that in no circumstances will we do something. I remember similar words being used by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes). He said in no circumstances would he do something, but of course we know that he afterwards swallowed his words. He had one of those sudden conversions to which the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) referred when he spoke of what happened to Saul of Tarsus on his way to Damascus. We are told to-day that it is not a new Germany we have to deal with, but that it is theold Germany, and that, because von Hindenburg is in a position to do certain things we must discredit everything that has happened during the past few days. Let me quote the words of the Prime Minister as recorded in Hansard of the 23rd February, 1917, page 10632. It was the day prior to the Ready incident, when the Prime Minister telegraphed to the Premier of Tasmania. When he was moving for the extension of the life of the last Parliament he said -
As to peace, and the terms upon which the Empire should make it, let me state my own view. I have been unsparing in my denunciation of the military power of Germany, but I shall never stand quiet under the criticism of being thought desirous to humiliate and crush a giant nation. I am not in favour of humiliating Germany as such, hut I am in favour of destroying the military power of Germany, and to that end I will bend every ounce of energy I possess. But, so far as the German people are concerned, when they have exorcised themselves of the monster that now has them in its foul grip, when the evil has been burnt out of them byfire, and they have been purged of this disease that corrupts their body, they shall stand again in the councils of the nations. I shall do nothing to place them outside the pale. I will be no party in any respect to a ruthless policy towards Germany as a nation, but to that military despotism that now directs and possesses it, that menaces civilization and threatens the welfare of this continent, I am opposed, and will do all that in me lies to utterly destroy.
Will any one say that the military power of Germany has not been swept away?
– We are not sure of it yet.
– Von Hindenburg is still at the head.
– The Minister may have more information on the point than I have, but let me quote the words of President Wilson to Congress on Tuesday last, as reported in the Age of yesterday -
Armed Imperialism such as the men conceived who were but yesterday the masters of Germany is at an end, its illicit ambitions engulfed in black disaster. Who will now seek to revive it? The arbitrary power of the military caste of Germany,” which once could secretly and of its own single choice disturb the peace of the world, is discredited and destroyed, and more than that - much more than that- has been accomplished.
I presume that President Wilson knows as much as does any honorable member sitting here.
– Not about Australia’s point of view, and Australia’s risk.
– I am not dealing with that aspect of the question. I am dealing with the statement that Germany’s military power is to-day practically the same as it was six months ago.
– Who has said that it is?
– I certainly understood the Acting Prime Minister to make that statement. I understood him to say that we could not treat with Germany because von Hindenburg is still at the head, as the Assistant Minister for Defence has just interjected, and that for this reason we were desirous of entering our protest by adopting this motion, showing that we were not in favour of any Germany, new or old, having any connexion with these islands.
– Hear, hear! Is the honorable member in favour of Germany having any connexion with the islands ?
– I have not said that I am. The honorable member, with his legal sagacity, is very anxious to . trip other honorable members up. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. West) has said that this motion is a trap. I do not say that it is, but it has certainly been brought forward at a time when the minds of the people are inflamed by the news which has just been received.
Mr.Hector Lamond. - Is the honorable member in favour of the motion?
– Tell him to go to hell.
– I will not do that, but I shall deal with these cunning gentlemen who are so anxious to score over their opponents. I shall deal with him in my own way.
– Be open, and say straight out what you mean.
– If it will suit my friend I will say thatI shall not vote against the motion.
Honorable members interjecting,
– If honorable members will not cease interjections I shall have to name some of them. I ask the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews) to cease his interjections.
– Speaking to Congress on Tuesday last, President Wilson went on to say -
For with the fall of the ancient Governments, which rested like an incubus upon the peoples of the Central Empires, has come not merely political change, but revolution, a revolution which seems as yet to assume no final and ordered form, but to run from one fluid change to another, until thoughtful men arc forced to ask themselves, “With what Governments and of what sort are we about to deal in the milking of the covenants of peace? With what authority will they meet us, and with what assurance that their authority will abide and sustain securely the international arrangements into whichwe are about to enter? There is here matter for nosmall anxiety and misgiving. When peace is made, upon whose promises and engagements besides our own is it to rest? Let us be perfectly frank with ourselves and admit that these questions cannot he satisfactorily answered now or at once.”
The motion submitted to-day could have been carried a month ago. It could just as easily be carried a month hence. The Peace Conference will not have concluded its considerations a month hence. It may not have commenced by that time. What President Wilson says is correct. There must be some stability in the Governments of Middle Europe before the
Peace Conference can meet, because it would be impossible to come to any binding agreement at a Conference at which those on one side represented the nations for which they stood, and those on the other were not representative of any country, or, at best, represented only small sections of the populations for which they stood. There is therefore no need for hurrying through this motion. Unless the Government proposes to interfere with the consideration of the Electoral Bill in the Senate, the motion cannot be dealt with in that Chamber this week.
– The Senate, about six months ago, carried a resolution to the same effect as this.
– A resolution of both Chambers’ of the Legislature, arrived at on the motion of the Government, will carry much more weight than any such resolution as that to which the honorable member refers. Our resolution will, I presume, be transmitted to the Imperial authorities, who will be asked to place before the Peace Conference when it meets the views of the Australian people. How the Australian people are to be represented at that Conference is a matter for this Government.
– The sooner our views in regard to the German colonies are made known the better.
– The representation of Australia at the Peace Conference will probably be one-sided. It will be the representation of the party whose proposals the Australian people have twice rejected. The Acting Prime Minister yesterday gave me a copy of the motion, but there is no good reason for hurrying through its discussion. If it is the desire of the Government and of the Ministerial party merely to grab territory, I am opposed to the motion. I am opposed to the grabbing of territory merely to appease an earth hunger. Our experience of the responsibilities of administering territories has not been a happy one. Article after article has appeared in the newspapers, and particularly in the columns of the Age, drawing attention to the cost of this administration. Honorable members need not think that I am seeking compliments from the Age. I have always fought and beaten both that journal and the other metropolitan daily. I have been elected to this Parliament in spite of them both. We have poured out much money upon the administration of our territories. No doubt, it may be urged that much of our expenditure, such as that on the Northern Territory, should rightly be debited, not to development, but to defence.
A day or two before President Wilson laid down his famous fourteen points, Mr. Lloyd George, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, attended a Trades Union Congress, held in Westminster Hall, and there set out the peace terms on which his Government was prepared to negotiate. Among other things, he then said -
Regarding the German colonies, I have repeatedly declared that they are held at the disposal of the Peace Conference, the decision of which must have primary regard to the wishes and interests of the native inhabitants. One of the main purposes of that control will be to prevent the exploitation of the natives for the benefit of European capitalists or Governments. The natives live in their various tribal organizations under chiefs and councils, who are competent to consult and speak for their tribes and members, and thus to represent their wishes and interests regarding their disposal.
President Wilson has this among his fourteen points -
A free, open-minded and absolutely impartial adjustment of all colonial claims, based upon a strict observance of the principle that, in determining all such questions of sovereignty, the interests of the population concerned must have equal weight with the equitable claims of the Government whos: title has to be determined.
The first consideration must be that of the interests of the native populations. It may be said that, in many cases, the natives are not competent to decide whether they should be under their former masters or employers, or under a new set of masters or employers. There was an excellent article in to-day’s Ar/e on the subject, followed by an excellent letter, in which it was pointed out that probably for the first time in the history of the world, we now have open diplomacy, the public discussion of what should be done with the various countries, whose fate is - at stake, instead of matters being fixed up privately by delegates sitting round a table. The representatives of the various peoples are expressing their opinions. At a meeting at which Mr. Lloyd George gave, utterance to the statement I have just “read, Mr. Arthur Henderson, who had recently left- the British War Cabinet, said -
We will take no territory out of the war. Where populations desire to be freed from their present Governments, but are not strong enough to stand alone, we are under a moral obligation ‘to secure to them international protection. We do not desire to assume this task alone, unless explicitly requested to do so by the Peace Conference, or a similar International authority.
Whether we agree to the motion unanimously, or with some dissentient voices, it should be made perfectly clear that this Parliament is not out to grab land ; that we are not considering the interests of capitalists, who wish to use native populations for the development of copra, oil, or other tropical resources. We should make it plain that our primary object is the defence of Australia, and that we are determined that the natives of the territories in question shall get an absolutely fair deal. Mistakes have been made in the past which this Parliament was created too late to remedy. I hope, too, that it will be made perfectly clear by the Government that the motion refers only to the territory occupied at the present time by the Australian and New Zealand Forces.
– I think that that is the only territory that we are primarily entitled to talk about.
– Does that include the Marshalls and the Carolines?
– I am not saying anything about them.
– Then we are concerned with the Bismarck Archipelago, German New Guinea, and Samoa, the last-named place being occupied at the present time, I understand, by New Zealanders. It would have been better had the Government communicated with the Government of New Zealand so that the Commonwealth and the Dominion could have taken action simultaneously, and spoken with a united voice. If the motion, as an expression of the opinion of the’ Australian people, will be effective, surely an expression of the opinion of the people of Australia and New Zealand would have been more effective.
– Has the honorable member any doubt but that New Zealand is co-operating with us in this matter?
– I do not know what New Zealand is doing. Our experience in this Parliament is that the smaller the State the more particular she is about her rights. Tasmania has shown us that. New Zealand may feel that we should not have taken action regarding territory occupied by her troops without consulting her.
– We are in consultation with New Zealand.
– If New Zealand knows exactly what action is being taken-
– I did not say that; I said that we were in consultation with New Zealand.
– You may be in consultation with New Zealand on a great number of matters, including this. That has been the state of affairs for a number of years past.
– We are in consultation on this matter, and on a number of war and peace problems related to it.
– New Zealand has passed a similar resolution.
– I have that assurance from the Acting Prime Minister.
As it is desired that another matter shall intervene, I ask for leave to continue my remarks on a subsequent occasion.
Leave granted; debate adjourned to a later hour of the day (vide page 7858) .
Question - That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair, and the House resolve itself into Committee of Supply - proposed.
.- I am proud to move -
That all the words after the word “ That “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ a Royal Commission be appointed to inquire into the charge of desertion from the Australian Imperial- Force made against ex-Quartermaster-Sergeant A. T. Ozanne.”
I had a notice on the business-paper asking for the appointment of a Royal Commission, but the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) intimated to me that, while the war was on, it was impossible to recall Lieutenant-General Monash, and that therefore the Cabinet could not recommend the appointment of a Royal Commission. Now circumstances have altered, and the war is over, or practically so, that difficulty will not present itself. If my request be granted, as I trust it will be, by the Government, some little time will necessarily elapse before theCommission is able to meet, and the chances are that General Monash will then be available to appear before the Commission should his evidence be required.
I submit this motion with considerable feeling. I was associated with exQuartermasterSergeant Ozanne overseas. I went away with him, was with him in camp, and also spent some time with him in London. I am familiar with all the circumstances of his case, and am genuinely sorry for him. In response to the call of Empire he enlisted, leaving his place in Parliament to go practically as a private to the Front. He took the risk of submarines, and did his duty to his country until his health failed him. With a full knowledge of the facts of his case, I say that he did not desert for one second from the Australian Imperial Force. Every honorable member will feel sorry, not only for ex-Quartermaster - Sergeant Ozanne, but for his wife and children. Wherever the children go they are told that their father was a deserter. The man himself cannot enter upon any occupation. Ever since his return to Australia he has been unable to enter into any business because there still remains against him the charge that, while on active service, he deserted from the Australian Imperial Force. I am satisfied that if this Commission is appointed, I shall be able to convince honorable members in ten minutes that Ozanne was not guilty of the charge.
While in camp at Larkhill, Salisbury Plains, he was selected by General Monash, of the 3rd Division, to enter an Officers’ Training School at Tidworth. Although forty years of age, he set to work at that school, and notwithstanding that he had to compete with temporary officers and with men much younger than himself, he secured 83 per cent, of the possible marks, and out of a hundred or more competitors only about twenty were ahead of ham. Having passed the necessary examination, he was entitled to a commission, and he proceeded to London on four days’ leave. While there he took ill. The charge made against Ozanne is that he took ill, and did not report in the regular manner. The military authorities on the other side, however, know very little about the matter. I see on the file a letter from General Birdwood,in which he states that Ozanne did not. report sick in a proper manner. There are also on the file a number of papers by Senator Pearce dealing with this aspect of the case. They all go to show, to my mind, that the authorities were not; aware of the procedure followed by soldiers who took ill in London. I have had considerable experience of the practice followed in such cases, and venture to say that I saved the lives of at least a hundred Australian boys by inducing them to do exactly what Ozanne did when he took ill in London, I do not blame any one in Australia for what happened to Ozanne out here. A lot of people ar.e of the opinion that it was due to political party motives. I do not- think it was. Brigadier-General McC- Anderson, who was in London, caused all the trouble. In view of the cable message sent to the Department here stating that a charge of desertion was laid against Ozanne, I do not blame Senator Pearce and others for believing that the message was correct.
If a soldier takes ill while on leave, he has to report - and these instructions appear on his card - to the nearest hospital, or to the nearest military doctor. Ozanne went to Dr. Shaw,- who was stationed at Horseferry-road, and reported, just as thousands of other soldiers have done, that he was ill. The doctor ordered him to Southall, where we have an auxiliary hospital, and he was detained there for two or three weeks. He had leave, I think, until 18th November. On the night upon which that leave expired he returned to his unit, and reported to the orderly, as well as to Captain Dewson and Lieutenant Simmons, that he had been ordered to return next .day to the Southall hospital. He went to that hospital, where he was operated upon for nasal trouble. Meantime his unit had proceeded to France. He had no chance of going with it, and when he left the hospital he went up to London and reported to Brigadier-General McC. Anderson, who said to him, “You are qualified for a commission, but there is no commission in the Army Service Corps that I can give you.” Men of Ozanne’s age are much better qualified for the Army Service Corps than are younger men. Ozanne’s age was such as to make him unfit to go into the trenches, but BrigadierGeneral Anderson said to him, “I can only give you a position in the infantry.” Ozanne said he would accept such a position, and would go wherever he was sent. Brigadier-General Anderson then said he would give him a pass to remain in London for a few weeks, and that as soon as word was received from France he would be able . to join his unit there. I was in London when the order reached Ozanne to report to Brigadier-General Anderson. He reported, and returning to me an hour later, said that he had a commission in the 24th Battalion, and that on the following day he was to go before a Medical Board of three doctors. When a commission is granted in such circumstances, as distinguished from promotion on the field, it is necessary for the recipient of that commission to prove that he is medically fit. Ozanne went before the three doctors. The chairman, of the Board was, I think, Surgeon-General Howse, who reported that he was medically unfit, not only for the trenches, but for any service whatever. No one heard the word desertion spoken of in connexion with Ozanne in the Old Country, and it came as a shock to me to read in the Australian papers that such a charge had been -made against him. Here is a letter from the official file, which is unsigned, but evidently came from General Griffiths or Brigadier-General McC. Anderson. It was apparently written in reply to a communication from Senator Pearce: -
From Commandant, Australian Imperial Force, Head-quarters, London.
To Senator Pearce, Defence, Melbourne, 23rd April, 1917.
Senator Pearce, Defence, Melbourne.
A7599, Your WY615. Our records show Ozanne leave granted from Larkhill Camp from 10th November to 18th November, and this was subsequently extended by telegram, and that on 20th November he was admitted to Southall Hospital owing to old injury causing deflected septum. Admission to hospital was reported to Ozanne’s commanding officer by this office, memo. 29965, on same date.Ozanne was detained as an in-patient until 24th November, and on discharge medical officer reported, in writing, he would require to keep him under observation for two weeks, for which purpose he was to visit Southall. You will, therefore, see that some mistake has been made in statement that he was absent withou t leave on embarkation of unit, 22nd November :. . . .
It will probably be remembered that General Monash, in a cablegram sent by Brigadier-General Anderson to Australia, is alleged to have said that had he known where Ozanne was when his unit embarked, he would have had him arrested and tried as a deserter. Here, however, is a letter, evidently from the Commanding Officer at Head-quarters, London, saying that Ozanne had been sent to Southall Hospital for treatment.
– Is the honorable member referring to the letter which he says is unsigned?
– Yes. It is. taken from the official records, and its genuineness will not be disputed.
There is only one man to blame for what has taken place in regard to exQuartermasterSergeant Ozanne. I have here a copy of a long cablegram as to Ozanne having been absent without leave. which is supposed to have been signed by General Monash. But I have seen, and can produce, a letter sent by General Monash to a relative, in which he declares that he never sent any cablegram to Australia in regard to Ozanne. The honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) has also seen that letter. I believe that what happened was that General Monash reported to BrigadierGeneral McC. Anderson, who thought this was an opportunity to show his gratitude to some one for the position to which he had been appointed by fabricating something, and that he sent out the cablegram which ruined Ozanne.
– That is a very serious charge to make against Brigadier-General Anderson.
– It is, but it is absolutely true that I have seen the letter from General Monash, in which he denies having sent the alleged cable.
– Would thehonorable member repeat it outside?
– I have made the same statement outside. I have remained very quiet, but now that the war is over, 1 feel free to bring this matter forward. I have had my own troubles, and could, if I wished, make it very unpleasant for some people. Every member of the Australian ImperialForce who was a sergeant, and happened also to be a member of Parliament, did not enjoy too good a time in the Army. I have not uttered a word of complaint, although I could have said that I was kept hanging about the front line in the neighbourhood of Ypres for about three months, and could not get anything to do. I could have told that story with considerable effect against the recruiting movement had I desired to do so, but I remained quiet. It is almost inconceivable that such a cable message as that to which I have referred could have been sent from Head-quarters, London, to the Department here, in view of the following letter that Brigadier- General Anderson gave to the alleged deserter prior to his leaving London: -
Australian Imperial Forces.
Administrative Head-quarters, 130 Horseferry-road, London, S.W., 24th March, 1917.
Australian Imperial Forces.
In response to your inquiries, I beg to state that the records show you came to this country from Australia with the 3rd Division to finish training for France.
You were sent to a training school to ascertain your fitness for commissioned rank, and as the result of the course there and subsequent examinations, you obtained a pass of over 80 per cent. marks. This did not necessarily mean that you were to be appointed an officer, but it was a satisfactory indication of qualification, and that you had. successfully passed all the tests placed before you at. this school.
That paragraph at least shows that this man was a student, and went there with the full intention of faithfully carrying out his duties. He only did as thousands of other Australians have done in endeavouring to qualify himself for a higher position; and the fact that he obtained over 80 per cent, of marks stands to his credit -
The G.O.C., 3rd Division, did not require your services as an officer in his division, but other vacancies were available for officers in other divisions iri France, and you expressed a desire to obtain one. At that time, acting on the advice of our medical officers -
At this time he was supposed to be a deserter - you underwent medical treatment and a minor operation for post-nasal trouble, and at the end submitted yourself for medical examination in the usual way, but you were passed out as unfit, and recommended to return to Australia, as any job you could have done on this side would not have been in a fighting capacity.
There is nothing available for you here, and you are now going back to Australia, and in consequence of adverse medical report, you are unable to take up a commission even if one had been available suitable to . your physical abilities.
At the special request of the Eight Hon. the High Commissioner, the rule of the Defence Department insisting that soldiers should travel by transport, has been in your case relaxed, and you have been provided with a passage on a P. and 0. steamer. This request was based on the grounds of your being a member of Parliament, and in tie opinion of the High Commissioner, you should be in Australia in time to take part in the general Federal parliamentary election fixed for the 5th May.
You are leaving to-day for Australia, and I hope you will have a safe and pleasant journey home, and be able to assist to solve the difficulties evidently agitating the minds of our countrymen out there. (Signed) R. McC. Anderson,
I do not think that any man could have better testimony as to character than Mr. Ozanne has in this letter written two days before he left London for Australia. On his arrival at Fremantle there came a message that he was liable to be arrested as a deserter; and that was circulated throughout Corio and Australia generally. How would any honorable member feel if he were placed in such a position as Mr. Ozanne then found himself i I might here mention that Mr. Ozanne was not the only man to get a passage on a Peninsular and Oriental boat. I know a clergyman, who, accompanied by his son, went from Australia to England on a Peninsular and Oriental boat. That son had been taken out of the Army to be batman to his father, and the two had nice tours in England, Scotland, and France, just where there were no shells falling. A major thought that this clergyman’s services were required in Australia, and he and his son were sent back on a Peninsular and Oriental boat at the expense of the country. It is true that Mr. Ozanne’s passage was paid, but that was because there was no other way for him to return. I may say that Colonel Griffiths, about that time, came into the room of which I was in charge, and, informing me that there had been a dissolution of the Commonwealth Parliament, said that I ought to be in Australia looking after my seat, and suggested that I should sign a form’ which would enable me to leave London in a few days. However, I had - always made up my mind that, having joined the Army, I would not leave it until I could do my bit in France, so I declined the offer .with thanks. Fortunately, through the kind offices of Colonel, now Brigadier-General, Griffiths, one of the finest men the Australian Army possesses, I did get to France : but, doubtless, I should have been exposed to the same sort of attacks as Mr. Ozanne had I come back on a Peninsular and Oriental boat. A charge is made that Mr. Ozanne presented an hotel bill for £5 2s. 3d. incurred at Weymouth. As a matter of fact, it was his duty to go to that place. He was ordered to Australia, but he wanted very much to go to France to see how the boys were treated, and he did go to France, but at his own expense to the .extent of £60. At this time he . was supposed to be a deserter, but he was being received at head-quarters by General Birdwood, and also one of the French generals, who took him along the firing line. He made an exact report of what he observed on his visit, and he did not say he was in the firing line as a fighter. When he came back to London, and went to Weymouth, he was driven there in a motor car by General Sir Newton Moore - a man who knew nothing about the military when the war broke out, when he was given the rank of general.
– He had been an officer for vears. He was a colonel when the honorable member was in long clothes.
– I have seen colonels and majors embraced as gallant soldiers during these last few days, while I know they have never left Victoria. Sir Newton Moore took Mr. Ozanne to the hotel, and Mr. Ozanne was not permitted to pay, and thought he was the personal guest of the General. The hotel hill of £5 2s. 3d. represented four or five days’ stay, at a tariff rate of 17s- 6d. per day, and I think I am right in saying that Mr. Ozanne had one drink and a cigar after each meal. That is not very extravagant, and I remind honorable members that there are no cigars tobe had at five for a1s. in England, and not much of a cigar can be purchased for 2s. 3d.
Had Mr. Ozanne been returned to this Parliament, he would have been very useful to the country because of his experience in France and at Home, for, amongst other things, he could have given much advice as to the treatment of our boys. He never believed that he would be defeated at the election; and, personally, I feel very sorry that he was. I appeal to the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) to for a moment put himself in the position of Mr. Ozanne. I am not in the habit of making extravagant or foolish statements, but I speak from a long association with this man. I was associated with him from the day he left Australia, and I was at Charing Cross to wish him ion voyage when he left on his return trip. I can give the Government my word that he did not desert for one second, as the records clearly and conclusively prove. There is no necessity to have General Monash here for an inquiry, because he had practically nothing to do with the affair. We have all the documents to prove that every time he was away from Camp, Ozanne had a pass; indeed, we have most of the passes, together with the medical certificates and the letter from General Anderson. There was never a charge of desertion made against him in London, and Ozanne knew nothing of it until he arrived at Fremantle.
– You have suggested that a cable sent to Australia is a forgery.
– I said that I can produce a letter written by General Monash to a relative, in which he states that he never signed any cable to be sent to Australia concerning the Ozanne case; and that letter I can produce. The honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) brought a friend of General Monash to me the other night, and I saw the letter referred to. I do not say that this cablegram was created or forged in Australia, but I believe it was sent from London. I know some of the strong influences which were at work there at the time. There were certain men, of whom the Government are not aware, who made strong efforts to induce Mr. Ozanne to take the conscription side. He was bitterly opposed to conscription and despite the influences brought to bear, said, “During my country’s troubles I have not been a traitor, and neither will I be a traitor to my party.” He stuck solidly to his party, and his attitude caused some bitter feeling in certain directions in London. He was sent back here as medically unfit, and with no word about desertion; and from the day of his arrival he has never received justice at the hands of the Government or the military of Australia. I ask the Acting Prime Minister to accede to the request for a Royal Commission. For all I care, the Commission may be composed entirely of members from behind the Government, for I am confident that with the documents and evidence available they will acquit Mr. Ozanne of any charge of desertion.
– I have listened very intently to the remarks of the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath). I know that during recent months, since his return, he has shown very keen interest in this matter, and, naturally so. for two reasons. The honorable member was intimately acquainted in earlier politics before the war with the ex-member for Corio (Mr. Ozanne), and, further, he met him when at Home, and had knowledge of many events connected with his visit to the Old Country. I was pleased to notice the moderate and temperate terms of expression the honorable member employed. In earlier days, when this case was before us, there was a good deal of party recrimination associated with it. I was not familiar with the circumstances, but I hardly thought it possible that politicians could enter into a matter of this kind with any degree of propriety. I am glad to hear from the honorable member, not an admission, but a proclamation, that he does not blame anybody in Australia except, as he qualified his statement, exBrigadierGeneral Sir Robert Anderson, and him not in any political connexion. Some little time ago, the ex-member for Corio, ex-Quartermaster-Sergeant Ozanne, wrote to the Government and asked that his case should be inquired into by a Royal Commission, and I told him that his request would be considered by the Government. At the same time the honorable member for Ballarat lodged his notice of motion, which was subsequently discharged from the notice-paper, to be replaced by this amendment on the Supply motion. I wrote to the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) informing him that a Royal Commission was asked for, and suggesting that he should inform me as to the views of the Department. I think it advisable to read the honorable gentleman’s reply : -
In the first place, if said Royal Commission weregranted, it could notbe in the terms of mr. McGrath’s motion, because, as I read the file of papers, no charge of desertion was made by General Monash against exQunrtsrmisterSergeant A. T. Ozanne.
The file discloses that General Monash, on 6th April, 1917, addressing the Assistant AdjutantGeneral, Australian Imperial Force, drew attention to the fact that Ozanne had overstayed the leave granted to him from his Unit, and that he had been reported “ absent without leave”; and that hehad made every effort to bring this non-commissioned officer under his jurisdiction, so that he could be dealt with for this offence, but that the authorities in London did not support him in the matter.
Again, in a letter to Brigadier-General R. McC. Anderson, Administrative Head-Quarters, London, dated loth December, 1916, General Monash stated that he (Ozanne) received a certain number of days’ leave, but did not return to his Unit within the period defined by his leave. He was not present with his Unit when the Unit embarked, and he was reported “ absent without leave “ ; and expressed the hope that the authorities in London, who are responsible, will take the necessary action to vindicate discipline by sending this noncommissioned officer over to France under escort, to be dealt with in the ordinary way.
On18th July, 1917, Mr. Tudor, M.P., on notice, asked a number of questions in relation to this case, which were duly replied to, and it was indicated to the House that the papers would be laid on the table of the House on the 19th July, 1917. This was done. The papers were laid on the table, and were in possession of members of Parliament, as well as the press. No request for an inquiry or a Commission was made in Parliament, or to the Government.
The Minister then continues - 1 desire to point out that in several cases of officers, non-confmissioned officers, and men who have been returned to Australia from overseas, requests have been made - either directly or indirectly - by those concerned that inquiries as to the causes of their being sent back should be made in Australia, and that we have declined in each case on the grounds, first, that their cases have been inquired into by the authorities overseas before the action was taken; and, secondly, that it was not competent to hold an inquiry here, as, owing to the absence of officers and others, who would be witnesses in such cases, being on active service, such inquiry could not be complete. In some cases, reply was made that if the request was repeated at the close of the war, when the necessary witnesses had returned to Australia, the application would be considered on its merits.
I would point out to you that a Commission of Inquiry into the charge as formulated would not only be a trial of exQuartermasterSergeant Ozanne, but also a trial of General Monash-
– He does not come into the matter at all.
– But the honorable member will see that, according to the departmentalfiles, the Minister’s statement is accurate. The minute continues - who is, as you know, absent on active service, and who could not be spared from the important position he is filling to come to Australia to take part in such an inquiry. It may be urged that General Monash ‘s evidence could be taken on commission, but I would submit that this would be grossly unfair, because
Ozanne would have the right to attend the Commission personally, and to cross-examine witnesses, and to submit documents, whereas General Monash would not have such opportunity.
I would submit, therefore, that the most that the Government could do would be to say that at the conclusion of the war, if the request werere-submitted, it. would be considered on its merits; and also a further offer that the file of papers in the case could again ho placed on the table of the House to be avail able for the perusal of honorable members or of the press.
That defines the attitude of the Minister who has been responsible- all through the enlistment, training, and embarkation of the Forces and I take it that Senator Pearce was familiar, not only with the general principles that affect this case, but also with the whole of the circumstances surrounding it. Two reflections are opened up by the reading of the file, and they are these : I am unable to make up my mind thata member of the Australian Imperial Force who happened to be also a member of this House is entitled to any more privileges in connexion with his work as a soldier than is an ordinary civilian.
– He does not ask for that.
– I do not know what Ozanne asks for. It seems to me that the request for a Royal Commission isbased more on the idea that the late member of the Forces was formerly a member of Parliament than that he has been unjustly treated.
– The others referred to who have been returned and have asked for an inquiry were returnedbecause of wrongs they had committed. Ozanne was returned for no such reason, and received a good discharge from the Australian Imperial Force.
– I deeply regret to say that there are in Australia many men who feel that they have not been properly treated. I know one man particularly, who fou«rht for three years, from the early occupation of Gallipoli onwards, and who from the ranks won his commission, but who feels that he was made a scapegoat. He still declares that he did not get a fair deal on the other side of the world, and cannot get it in Australia. I have spoken with him. He sees the Minister’s difficulty, and he is content to wait till the end of the war, when he will expect the matter to be cleared up. He does not ask for the appointment of a Royal Commission. I shall expect the Government or Department concerned to appoint for him, incommon with other soldiers who feel that they have the right to make the same demand, a cleaning-up day and place. I do not wish to promise to Ozanne a Royal Commission, because such a promise ought to apply equally to every man who enlisted from the street and not from this House, and who feels that he has been unjustly treated. I do not think the time has arrived when an inquiry of any kind would be complete. If we were to promise such an inquiry now, and try to start the machinery, we should probably find that General Sir John Monash, of whom every man who knew him before he left Australia is pardonably proud -
– I do not reckon that he is in this case at all.
– His name is mentioned, and there are now a charge of the forgery of documents implicating him and suggestions in regard to BrigadierGeneral Anderson. We cannot try that case in the absence of General Monash. His career as a citizen soldier has been so unparalleled that no man would suggest that an inquiry reflecting on his honour and probity should be undertaken in his absence. I do not claim that officers should be given different treatment from that accorded to men in the ranks, but I do say that aman who is General Officer Commanding the Australian Forces, and who, if he had had the chance, would have ranked with many of the great Generals in the war. should not have his honour attackedwithout having full opportunity of defending himself.
– His name is not involved.
– It is involved in cidentally. I have talked with Ozanne. I know that he is smarting under an accusation of desertion. He told me how it affected his means of getting a livelihood and his prospects in private and public life. I wish to give him a chance at the proper time and in the proper way of clearing himself if he can. But I do not wish to have my hand forced because I know- him, and because he was a member of this House, to make concessions to him that cannot be given to every soldier who is similarly circumstanced.
– How does the honorable member suggest that General Monash is involved ?
– It is suggested that a cable message has been forged, but, in regard to a letter which General Monash wrote, he was under the impression that Ozanne had not reported to his unit in the proper way, and he instructed the London authorities to send him to HeadQuarters in France to be “dealt with as a man absent without leave.
– It. was all duc to the blundering of Anderson.
– That may be. But General Monash was, at that time, Commander of the Division to which Ozanne was attached. He has since risen to be Commander-in-Chief of the Australian Army in the field, but as a Divisional Commander he ordered Ozanne to be sent to Head-Quarters for punishment as a defaulting non-commissioned officer. For that reason General Monash comes right into the picture. I assure the honorable member for Ballarat that I wish to see Ozanne get a fair deal, and at the right time and in the right way I shall assist him to get it. I think he has made good his case for such an inquiry, and, of course, when it is held the case will necessarily stand on its merits. If the honorable member is satisfied with .that assurance, I shall take counsel with the Minister for Defence as to the best way and the best time for this inquiry to be held.
– The honorable member for Ballarat, in stating this case, did not make it a political matter. Unfortunately there are two phases of the question. First of all there is the family feeling in connexion with it, and secondly there are the disabilities under which Ozanne has suffered. The mother of exQuartermasterSergeant Ozanne had one son killed at the Front. She was proud that he had done his duty to the country. Her other son also went to the war, and returned in sheer disgrace. I differ from the honorable member for Ballarat, for I say that the charge against Ozanne was deliberately made in order to defeat him at the election for Corio, and it had that effect.
– Whom does the honorable member charge?
– I do not know, but I do say that the Minister for Defence is culpable to a great degree. I had the pleasure of addressing sixteen or seventeen meetings in the Corio electorate at the time of the last general election, and I have participated in two other election campaigns in the constituency. Therefore, I know the district well. At every meeting I received a good hearing, and had no trouble with my audience, but at the conclusion of my remarks I was overwhelmed with questions as to why Ozanne had deserted. It was impossible to escape from that charge; it was published in the newspapers, and they could not be induced to print even a statement as to the possibility of doubt in regard to the charge, let alone a direct contradiction of it. The accusation wa3 used by the newspapers and the National party for political purposes during that fight. Only a man who has been in the Army knows what a charge of desertion means. A soldier could commit no greater crime than to be absent without leave from his unit when it embarked for the Front. Ozanne had to fight the election with that charge hanging over him, and his wife and family were subjected to the taunts of the political crowd, who used the accusation to injure their opponent’s candidature. It may be said that all is fair in love and war, and that a political party is justified in resorting to such tactics. I would do much for my party, but I would not commit perjury for it; yet perjury was committed in the Ozanne case. I say nothing against the honorable member who defeated Mr. Ozanne. He (Mr. Lister), in common with all honorable members, is charged with many things. I have been charged with having committed crimes it was impossible for me to commit, but in this chamber I have been in a position to refute them. During the course of his campaign, the present member for Corio was attacked, but he was able to refute the charges levelled against him. There have been plenty of opportunities since May, 1917, for the Defence Department to communicate with General Monash, and to get evidence to prove or disprove the charge that Mr. Ozanne had deserted. If a man gets leave from his unit at Salisbury Plain, goes to London, and takes ill there, he reports to the nearest military depot, and if he can make good his case that it was -not his fault that he did not get back to his camp before his period of leave expired, the camp authorities deal with his case accordingly. It may have been remissness on his part that caused him to miss the train, but whatever .the circumstances are they are taken into consideration. If Mr. Ozanne reported to the nearest military depot in London, it would be strong evidence that he was not willingly absent without leave. The hospital records should show that on the day his unit was due to leave Salisbury Plain for the Front he was on the books of the institution, and therefore he was not absent without leave. An army doctor’s certificate is paramount over every charge. The hospital record could have been supplied long before this. It must have come to hand. Then why should this charge be allowed to hang over Mr Ozanne’s head all this time? Non-commissioned officers and privates have come to me and shown their discharges. They have pointed out how impossible it is to secure employment with the discharges worded as they are, and they have been anxious to get them altered. How much more necessary is it to have Mr. Ozanne’s case inquired into in view of the circumstances in which he enlisted? To the disgrace of those who have uttered the words, I have heard it said that those members of Parliament who have enlisted have done so for certain purposes. Charges are levelled against returned soldiers who stand as candidates for Parliament. It is said that they use the fact that they have been to the Front as a means of getting into Parliament. ‘ These are only some of the cruel .charges that are preferred against public man. I am quite willing to believe that not one honorable member opposite would willingly injure any man in the way in which Mr. Ozanne has “been hurt, but political use has been made of the charge that was levelled against him. Some people believe that they are justified in using any methods by which an opponent may be defeated, but I can assure honorable members that the charge against Mr. Ozanne was used during the whole of the election campaign in order to secure his defeat. The moment one came down to question time in the Corio campaign there were dozens of questions,- particularly from among the women. One could hear woman after woman say, “ My brother is there -fighting; Ozanne deserted; how can you expect us to put him into Parliament?” The effect on the Corio election can readily be understood. Mr. Ozanne still remains under the ban, notwithstanding the fact that there have been plenty of opportunities for the Minister for Defence to clear up the matter. There is already enough evidence on the file to disprove the charge of desertion. If Mr. Ozanne had been a deserter at any portion of the time he was away, he would not have been given the discharge he carries. However, that is not sufficient proof for the public. Further evidence is needed to convince the public of the falsity of the charge. There were many peculiar circumstances attaching to Mr. Ozanne’s case. He arrived in Western Australia in plenty of time to reach Victoria before polling day, but there always seemed to be a set of circumstances preventing him from getting here in time. I do not know how they came about, but the Labour party are quite satisfied that what was done was done deliberately. If Mr. Ozanne reported to the hospital before his leave was up, and had it extended, and if afterwards he exceeded the time the doctor allowed, it can be shown by the documents. There should be no trouble in clearing the matter up. One does not like to speak of such matters, but Mr. Ozanne’s brother has been killed at the Front, . and the feelings of the mother when her other son has to bear the charge -of having deserted can be readily understood. I am willing to admit that the Acting Prune Minister (Mr. Watt) is quite ready to do all he can towards clearing up this matter, but there is no need to wait for the return of General Monash. Ali we ask is for a letter from the Defence Department giving the facts of this man’s case, stating his record, and showing whether he had the acquiescence of his commanding officer in what he did,- or whether another officer placed him under requisition on such and such a date. The whole case could be followed up in this way. The Acting Prime Minister has said that he cannot treat Mr. Ozanne differently from other men by granting a Royal Commission ; but there is a difference between Mr. Ozanne’s case and that of any other member of the Australian Imperial Force. The whole tiling should have been cleared up long ago. These matters should not be left to the final decision of the military authorities.
– How would the honorable member propose to deal with him?
– In all cases of this kind there should be a Board of two or three men. Of course, one of them would need to have military knowledge, but the others should be appointed from Outside the Military Forces.
– How could a Board deal with all the millions of cases under military control? They would have first to be taken out of military control.
– There are not millions of cases to be dealt with; but there are many cases of men who object to the manner in which their discharges have been granted, and it would not take a Board very long to deal with them. Even if it should take ten .years to clear up these cases, the men should get justice.
– But the evidence is at the other side of the world.
– When everything is settled down the evidence will be back here. The honorable member knows the difficulty of getting some of these documents. Two men waited .on me to-day. One was discharged eight months ago; the ‘ other was discharged eleven months ago; yet neither man can get his deferred pay. In another case, which is fourteen months old, documents cannot be secured from the Old Country. However, although the charge that lies over Mr. Ozanne’s head is a horrible one, he is willing to face it, and he should be given the opportunity of doing so. He has certainly not been treated fairly. I hope that in his case, as well as in that of others, the military authorities will not be allowed to work their own sweet will in any investigation which may be made. It is said of the Military and Naval Departments that an officer is never -wrong, and that a non-commissioned officer is seldom wrong, but that a private is always wrong. Even in civilian life, it is difficult enough to prove a man’s innocence; but in the Army or the Navy, once a man has been adjudged guilty, superchuman efforts are required to prove his innocence. Something should be done in Mr. Ozanne’3 case. I hope that the Acting Prime Minister will not allow the matter to be passed over, that Mr. Ozanne will have the opportunity of clearing his name, and that those who have been guilty of laying charges against him unfairly will be punished.
.- As I am, perhaps, more interested in this case than -any other honorable member, I wish to make my attitude towards my predecessor in the Corio seat (Mr. Ozanne) perfectly clear. On previous occasions the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) has twitted me with having been somewhat unmanly in opposing Mr. Ozanne, and it is right that I should refer briefly to the circumstances which brought about my selection as a candidate and my ultimate election to this Chamber. I am in hearty accord with the amendment moved by the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath), because I feel that if Mr. Ozanne is innocent of the charge that has been levelled against him he should be given an opportunity of establishing his innocence.
– And should foe compensated.
– Yes ; he should he compensated. If he can prove his innocence there will he no question that he will receive compensation. On the other hand, if the charges against him are substantiated, he should take his gruelling. I believe that he is prepared for any inquiry based upon those grounds. Now, concerning my connexion with_this matter : As most honorable members know, it had been arranged that I should tour Victoria, in the interests of recruiting, to deliver a series of lectures illustrated with pictures. I was to visit each electorate in turn, staying for a fortnight. Corio was the first electorate that I entered. -I went there some seven weeks or so before the election. When I had been in Geelong for about five days, I was asked if 1 would nominate -for the Corio seat. I told those who approached me that I did not aspire to parliamentary honours; that I knew a little of the politics of Queensland, but had only a very limited knowledge of Federal politics, and that I thought that, as a Queenslander, I had no chance of securing the indorsement of the party. However, upon being pressed to allow myself to be nominated, I did so, although I looked upon the nomination form as merely waste paper. I then went into the Ballarat electorate, and there I was asked to oppose Mr. McGrath. I declined to do that, because Mr. McGrath wa3 overseas serving his country, and I had allowed myself to be nominated for Corio. I was not particularly anxious to secure the party indorsement, and no one was more surprised than 1 was when I was chosen to contest the seat. At my first election meeting 1 made it clear that it was not my intention to discuss Mr. Ozanne or the merits of his case, and I thereafter left both severely alone. Although, like the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews), I was inundated with questions about the case, I resolutely refused to discuss it by replying either to question or interjection regarding it. On the Thursday before polling day, when I was addressing a midday meeting in the market square at Gee long, I was questioned on. the subject by a staunch supporter of Mr. Ozanne, and. 1 replied thai I was not opposing Mr. Ozanne personally, but was standing in the interests of the Nationalist party, because the attitude of that party towards the war was in accord with my own. I said, too - I think the statement is on record in the files of the local press - that I thought people would be wise to reserve judgment concerning Mr. Ozanne until he bad returned to Australia to answer the charges levelled against him. I have no feeling in this matter. I hope’ that Mr. Ozanne will be given an opportunity to clear himself, if he can, of the charges. But I wish to remove the impression which seems to be firmly embedded in the minds of some honorable members, that hi3 defeat at the election was due to these charges. I do not think that it was. Party feeling was particularly strong at the election, but if you compare the record of the voting at Corio for Senate candidates with that of the voting for the House of Representatives candidates you will see that, on party lines, Mr. Ozanne came out much better than the Labour Senate candidates. That is attributed by some of my supporters to the fact that on the evening of the day bofore the election a telegram came from Fremantle to the supporters of Mr. Ozanne in Geelong, of which I cannot from memory give the exact words, but its effect was that Mr. Ozanne was in a position to clear himself of the charges made against him. This was read at the final rally in the Mechanics Institute, and at an overflow meeting in the hall next door. My supporters told me that that telegram ‘had a decided influence on the- polling. I know that in moving round the booths of the division I met many persons, including women, who said that they would vote for Mr. Ozanne because he was under a cloud, and there was doubt as to his guilt, but that they would vote for the Nationalist Senate candidates. If Mr. Ozanne’s defeat can be attributed to anything beyond the strength of the Nationalist party in the Corio division, it is attributable to the circulation throughout the electorate of Corio of certain letters sent from France by Mr. Ozanne to political friends and foes. In these letters he represented himself as having been in the firing line, although, according to the dates with which they were headed, it was impossible for him to have been there. Personally, I hold that neither the charges against him, nor the circulation of these letters, influenced the electors to a great extent. But if there was such influence, the blame must attach to Mr. Ozanne for having misled people as he did. I have nothing to say against Mr. Ozanne personally. Whether my political career be long or short, I hope that throughout it I shall treat every one fairly and squarely. I should not have referred to this matter today had it not been for some remarks made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) a few weeks ago. I hope that before the next election the Government will hold an inquiry which will give Mr. Ozanne the opportunity to exonerate himself if he can do so.
.- I have listened with a good deal of pleasure to the remarks of the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lister). I am glad that he approves of the amendment, though it is only what I would have expected of him. I was a little hurt at his mention of certain letters. There was no need for that. If the matter has any relevance, it can be left over for the inquiry. I have, perhaps, the longest political experience of any honorable member, and I know that a more terrible charge cannot be made against a man than to accuse him of being a traitor and a deserter. I was at the declaration of the Corio poll, where the bitterness of certain women was extreme. For the first time in twentyeight years I then said something to a woman which might be regarded as rude. I have always tried to treat all women who cross my path as I would wish my mother, my wife, and my daughter to be treated, but I was stung by the bitterness of one woman into uttering what might have been considered a rude remark, and afterwards members of the League to which she belonged personally thanked me for having been one of the few persons who could silence her tongue. I was present at a large meeting in the Corio division, and I say that if evera man was crucified unjustly that man was Ozanne.
I have here a certificate that should satisfy any medical man as to Mr. Ozanne’s incapacity for active service. It is as follows : -
Military Hospital, Southall, 15th November, 1916.
I have examined Sergeant Ozanne to-day. He has a deflected septum to the left with adhesion to the inferior terbinated bone. An operation is the only means of giving relief. He would require three to four weeks’ leavein case of operation.
Leave to be granted. - K. R.O. Shaw, Captain, A.M.C., Military Head-Quarters, London.
No man who looks through these papers can believe the charges against Mr. Ozanne. I thank the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) for the way in which he has treated thismatter, but I do not agree with him that Mr. Ozanne should be dealt with in the same way as any other returned man. It is to be remembered that he was called upon when he returned to Australia to fight for his political life. Only seven or eight members of Parliament have volunteered for active service, and they alone could provide cases similar to that of Mr. Ozanne. 1 wonder that the Acting Prime Minister did not see that. The shipin which Mr. Ozanne returned to Australia was delayed. I have that from passengers who were travelling by it. I cannot prove that it was delayed designedly, but why was it delaved ? It was not allowed to pass a certain point, and Mr. Ozanne could not leave it until it reached Adelaide. A wireless telegram was sent saying that he was a deserter. Why, if he was a deserter was he not shot? Why, if he was a deserter, should he not be branded for all time, and prevented from holding any office in the Commonwealth, State,or municipality? I have not time for a traitor or for a deserter. But this man’s brother died at the Front, and Mr. Ozanne himself, although over forty years of age, succeeded in getting 83 per cent. of the marks obtainable at an examination for which he sat. He was prevented from going to the Front by a physical defect which, if the doctors had been shrewd enough, might have been discovered in Australia. I can speak with personal knowledge of the delay which took place in granting Ozanne his discharge, and I accuse the
Department of the responsibility for it. The accusation made against exQuartermasterSergeant Ozanne no doubt affected the voting for members of our party who stood for election to the Senate. I have blamed General Monash, possibly wrongly, for what occurred. I could not believe the. cablegram reported to have come from him in regard to Ozanne’s desertion. My conscience told me it was wrong, and possibly I spoke harshly of General Monash. If his name was forged to the cable message, then the person responsible for that forgery - even if it were Brigadier-General Anderson - should be punished. The only gunpowder Brigadier-General Anderson has ever smelt was probably that used in a cracker.
-. - He is a good man.
– Why did he on his return from Egypt to Australia state, in order to gain a little kudos for himself, that General Murray had told him that he woiild rather lose a division of other troops than a brigade of Australians? An infantry brigade consists of 124 officers and 4,055 of other ranks, not including those detailed at base, whereas a division comprises 585 officers and 17,488 men. If General Murray did declare that he would sooner lose 18,000 British Tommies than 5,000 Australians, he should be sent out of the Army. I asked some time ago that, in justice to General Murray, a cablegram should be despatched to him asking whether the statement attributed to him by BrigadierGeneral Anderson was correct. My request was not agreed to. In any event, Brigadier-General Anderson is in a cleft stick, since, if General Murray did make the statement to him, it was a breach of confidence for him to publish it.
– Does the honorable member thinkthat General Murray would even talk to such a type of General ?
– I do not believe he would make such a statement as that attributed to him. I lift my hat to the English Tommies.
– If he did make the statement, was he not merely referring to the comparative worth of the two classes of troops?
– He did not mean to say that he would rather have a division of English Tommies killed in action than a brigade of Australians. He merely meant that he would rather have under his control a brigade of Australians than a division ofother troops.
– Why did not Brigadier-General Anderson tell us what he meant? Instead of explaining the matter he has withdrawn like a snail to his shell. I offered my services, but was turned down on account of my age.
– The honorable member is usually fair, but he is not fair in his criticism of Brigadier-General Anderson.
– Why has BrigadierGeneral Anderson not been man enough to come out and tell us all about the matter? If he forged General Mon ash’s name to a cablegram he should be punished. I do not suggest that he did; but the person responsible for the forgery, no matter who he is, should he punished. The cablegram was merely sent to “ crucify “ this man Ozanne, whose brother had died at the Front, and who himself had offered to fight. Did any one ever hear of Brigadier-General Anderson offering to fight except to fight for a good billet?
– He would do that.
– I do not think that the honorable member by maligning one man is likely to do any good in regard to the case of another.
– I am not maligning any man. I am blaming LrigadierGeneral Anderson, for I think that his statement in regard to General Murray was a lie.
– I resent that assertion.
– The honorable member may act as Brigadier -General Anderson’s flunkey and lick his boots if he likes. Does he deny that the statement was made by Brigadier-General Anderson?
– If he made the statement, it was true.
– Then why was General Murray not given an opportunity to contradict the report ?
– He has something better to do than to bother about contradicting the aspersions that any member of Parliament may choose to cast upon him.
– The honorable member is not the man that he was before he changed his political opinions. He is not willing now to go to gaol in defence of a principle. I believe that this House will see that justice is done in this case, even if the person responsible for the trouble is a brigadier-general.
– BrigadierGeneral Anderson is agood man.
– He may be, but he is not a good soldier. I have never been able to ascertain where he gained his military experience.
– It is well known that he spent all his time in London running about trying to get a title.
– And he got it.
– Even that would be better than getting free cigars at the expense of the Commonwealth.
– I have never had any at the honorable member’s expense. I feel sure that the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lister) would have preferred a straight-out fight. He has said that he refrained from opposing the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) because he was at the Front at the time of the last general election. Will he say why he differentiated between him and Mr. Ozanne, who then represented Corio, and was also at the Front?
– Because I considered that a man who had against him a charge of desertion was unfit to represent a constituency. That was my candid opinion of the position.
– I thank the honorable member for his answer to my inquiry. It is what I expected of him. But for this charge against Mr. Ozanne the honorable member would not have opposed him ?
– I would not.
– I thought so.I hope this Commission will be hurried on. There is no reason for unnecessary delay. No accusation is made against General Monash, and therefore we need not await his return before appointing a Commis sion. Only one man can say who sent the cablegram to which reference has been made, and that man is BrigadierGeneral Anderson.
.- As I understand it, the question now under consideration is whether a Royal Commission should be constituted to inquire into the case of a quartermaster-sergeant who has been returned from the Front under a very considerable cloud as to what his actions were on the other side. No doubt every honorable member has within his knowledge the case of either a private soldier, a non-commissioned officer, or an officer at present in Australia, who firmly believes that he has been very unjustly treated, and that his case is entitled to a special inquiry. Some of us, no doubt, have tried to have these cases re-opened in Australia, but, in each instance have received from the Defence authorities the reply that it is impossible for them to vary the decision that has been arrived at overseas. That being so, it appears to me that we have no right to consider in any way what were the political circumstances of the person involved in this case. The fact that he has been a member of this House is one to which we should not give even a moment’s consideration. I was rather startled when the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) said that he was not quite clear as to whether a member of Parliament, on becoming a soldier, was entitled to any privilege to which any other soldier was not entitled. In my view - and it is the view held by every one who has been a soldier - the moment a member of Parliament joins the Forces, his smaller position as a politician becomes merged in the higher one of a soldier, and he becomes at once amenable to the laws to which every other soldier is amenable. It is not at all fair that a distinction should be made in favour of a man who was a member of Parliament before he went on service.
It has been stated during this debate that the person concerned has more at stake than is usually the case, since his political life - those were the words actually used - was involved. I would suggest that something rather more important than political life is at stake in connexion with many of the cases that come before us. There are, primarily, the cases in which the honour of every one of those concerned is involved in what they regard as their unjust treatment, and then there are the cases which mean the physical life of those concerned, because they are practically faced with starvation. I do not think that the political life of a man influences a case very much. In my view, we certainly ought not to grant exceptional treatment to any individual on a point like that. I would certainly do everything I could to support an inquiry into this case, as into every other case where apparent injustice has been done.- but at the proper time when full evidence is available.
– I ask leave to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Motion (by Mr. Groom) proposed -
That the debate be adjourned.
Question - put. The House divided.
Majority … … 16
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to; debate adjourned.
Debate resumed (vide page 7844) :
.- One point not dealt with by the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) is that we have to consider, not only the retention of the islands, but also the position of the persons who now own and control these islands. Mr. A.B. Piddington, in a very excellent contribution to the Age to-day, points out that there is no international law that can deprive these owners of their rights in the lands. Germans still control the islands, and will control them no matter what resolution we may pass, unless it is decided at the Peace table that in return for a sum of money the islands be handed over to those who desire to have them. The three Powers that I should like to see in control in the Pacific are the United States of America, New Zealand, and Australia.
– What right has Germany to the islands any more than we have?
– Before the war broke out, Germany had taken possession of these islands, and had sold the land to persons who are now there in control today. No one will say that these persons
– You are dealing with the rights of individuals, whereas the motion deals with the rights of nations.
– Those individuals fire controlling the whole of the islands today.
– We have them by right of conquest.
– Does the honorable member say that, because of that, the whole of the rights of the individuals who were there before the war, and are there now, have been forfeited? Germans are in control to-day of these islands, and they have been there for the last four years.
I should like to read a few words from Mr. Piddington’s letter -
Assuming that the voice of Australia will be against incurring such potential danger, and that the future Government of the ex-German colonies will be in the hands of the Allied Powers or the United States, it is next important to notice that this change of authority will, under constitutional law, make no difference to the property rights of German owners.
Mr. Piddington speaks with, some knowledge of the law, and I appeal to the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best), who is an eminent lawyer, to say whether Mr. Piddington’s statement is not correct, when he tells us that the change of authority will make no difference, under international law, to the property rights of the German owners. Mr. Piddington goes on to say -
They will still own their plantations (unless they are bought out with a view to expulsion), and as long as they own their plantations it is difficult to see how they can be prevented from disposing of their products in the ordinary channels of trade.
– German property owners in Australia will still retain their property, will they not?
– I believe that, under international law. the war will leave them in exactly the same position asbefore. The letter of Mr. Piddington, I think, puts the position very accurately, and, therefore, I regard the motion before us as so much camouflage - as so much pretence and playing to the gallery. While we have nominal control, the Germans will have real control of the islands and of the disposal of their products. We did not enter this war with any idea of gratifying greed, and my belief is that out of the conflict will arise a League of Nations, with the object and hope of abolishing war, and with it naval bases that might be a menace to Australia. I do not think there is any necessity for the motion, but, as I have stated, I shall not vote against it unless it is specifically set forth that we are out for land-grabbing. It is not my opinion that we, or any on the Allied side, entered this war with the object of acquiring territory.
– I listened with interest to the addresses delivered on this motion, and it was amusing to hear the Leader of the Opposition expressing the views of the old Tory leaders in Britain years ago. The argument that these possessions, should they come under the control of Australia, would be too expensive, reminds one of the famous saying that the “colonies were millstones around the neck of Great Britain. That “ the time is not opportune “ has been the plea of every Conservative in this and other countries since political institutions began. The Leader of the Opposition resumed his seat without informing us whether he favours or rejects the motion, but with a mere statement that he does not propose to vote against it unless somebody rises on this side and says so and so.
– I said that unless some member of the Government made a certain declaration I would not vote against the motion. I did not refer to the Government’s lackeys.
– I call attention, sir, to that expression, and ask that it be withdrawn.
– I ask the honorable member for Yarra to withdraw the statement.
– I withdraw it if it hurts them.
– I ask, sir, whether that is a withdrawal?
– I understood the honorable member for Yarra to disclaim any intention to hurt any one’s feelings, and to withdraw his remark.
– It is a most ungracious way of withdrawing an offensive remark.
– I am sorry that honorable members have such extended rights to insult others. I wish to bring the debate back to the only point in it, namely, that unless we secure the vantage points near to our continent from the control, not only of Germany, but of any other Power that may in the future become offensive to this Commonwealth, we shall have given of our best blood in this war for nothing. I take it that my position in this matter is on allfours with that of many other honorable members of the House. In order that I might take a certain stand in conuexion with the war, I had to sever my political relations with men with whom I have been associated for very many years. I tookthat step because I thought they were asking the Australian Democracy to pursue a policy which was inimical to the interests of the continent as a home of the white people, and I think that our efforts in this war will have failed if at the end of them we are still to have near to our shores nations that may become hostile and attack Australia from the bases ‘which Germany owned before the war. Because I feel that the taking of those islands from the control of other nations is necessary for the future peace of this continent, I am wholly in accord with the motion. I would have been glad had it been framed in more definite and emphatic terms, because to us the matter involved is one of life and death. It is a question of whether we are to reap the fruits of the sacrifices our people have made, or whether when the war ends, we are still to live in terror that some day in the lives of our children or our children’s children, Australia will again have to go through the horror of the last four years, but nearer home. My view of this matter has not changed since the day when the Queensland Government performed the patriotic act of taking possession of New Guinea. I believed then that the attitude of the Colonial Office was inimical to the interests of Australia, and no one who has studied the question since can deny that that is so. “We have been in danger for many years past of having that portion of New Guinea controlled by Germany used as a base of operations against Australia, and we have failed to learn the lesson of this war if we do not recognise that it is unsafe to give possession of points of advantage near to us to any other nation. The lesson taught by the war is that the friends of last century are the enemies of to-day; that every nation has to make an effort to be self-contained, and, as far as possible, keep from near its borders any other nation that is likely to challenge it3 supremacy at any future time.
The effort that is being made now to obtain some security for the future peace of the world must concern itself with the future of the Pacific Islands. The question of Australia’s security in the “future is one of vital importance to us; but it must not be forgotten that at the Peace Conference which will consider this question, if it were only a matter of Australia’s interests, we should have, at the most, one voice against all the other voices around the table. It will be only because the attention of the world has been directed to the preservation of peace in future that this question will claim that consideration which it ought to have in the final adjustment of the terms of peace.
We must remember that Australia has not only to look for benefits from the war, but that she has to accept the responsibilities which her geographical position imposes upon her. She has to do her part in securing the future of the world for Democracy, and it may he that the deliberations of the Peace Conference will place upon her shoulders the responsibility of supervising the good government of the islands adjacent to this continent until, in the ordinary course of political development, they are able to set up independent governmental institutions of their own. If we are called upon to undertake the government of portions of New Guinea other than that controlled already by Australia, we should accept that responsibility, because it is necessary that good government should exist there, and, because of the position of the islands, that responsibility comes more naturally to us than to nations at the other side of the world. Personally, I hope that, whatever decision is arrived at by the peace delegates, we shall not have joint control of any of the Pacific Islands. International control of the islands has been a failure in every instance in which it has been tried, and it is far better to place the sole responsibility on one nation than to divide it among two or three, for that naturally leads to friction and bad government.
I appreciate to the fullest degree the effort which the Prime Minister is making in England at the present time to get a hearing for the Australian view in this matter. I think that many people are beginning to realize the truth of what we said at the time, that when the Opposition in this Parliament prevented the Prime Minister from attending that most important meeting of the Imperial War Cabinet, they did an irreparable injury to the Australian cause. If, as a result of that action, the terms of the armistice are so interpreted as to prevent Australia securing a fair deal at the Peace table, that responsibility must rest upon the party led by the honorable member forYarra (Mr. Tudor), and cannot be placed upon any other shoulders. Australia should have had a potent voice in the deliberations of the Imperial War Cabinet before the Imperial delegates went to Versailles to settle the armistice terms.
– More than that is claimed.
– That is true. The principle of a White Australia and other things for which we have fought in Australia for the last quarter of a century are involved, and when the Prime Minister was prevented, for merely party political purposes, from attending those Imperial councils, a serious, and perhaps irrevocable, wrong was done to the Democracy of this country by its professed champions. We are now in the position that Australia has to make a very clear declaration of her wishes in that regard in order that they may have that attention in the Imperial councils that they must have before we can hope that they will be considered at all by the Peace Conference. Because I believe this motion will result in the Imperial Government giving consideration to the claim of Australia to equitable treatment in this matter, and will acquaint the authorities overseas with the importance to the future of this continent of the elimination of Germany from the Pacific, I support the motion.
Sitting suspended from 6.28 to 7.45 p.m.
.- I intend to vote for this motion. I would much rather it had read -
That the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Australia declares that it is essential for the future safety and welfare of Australia that the occupied German Possessions in the Pacific should not be restored to Germany, and that in the consideration and determination of proposals affecting the destination of those islands, Australia should be consulted.
There is an old adage that if we cannot get all we want, we ought to take what we can get, and I shall vote for the motion, because I have sufficient belief in the future of the world. The most democratic and most powerful nations having joined together with the one desire of laying the foundations of a lasting peace, I know that they will so rule the peoples of the nations that such matters as this will have every just consideration; and that no future troubles will arise concerning them. When I went through the New Hebrides some years ago I was pleased to be able to lift my hat to any foreign flag. I lifted it to the flag of la belle France, and I lifted it to the flag of Germany, never dreaming of what was going to happen only a few years later.
– The honorable member will never do it again.
– Never again! But where is the German Empire to-day? I fail to see how the flag bearing the cruel eagles can ever be resuscitated again, In years gone by my hope was that the middle and southern States of Germany would become republican. That wish of mine has now been fulfilled.
In regard to the motion, the question is whether we want more land. Speaking as an Australian and a lover of my country, I would say that at present we want no more land, because all that the Anglo-Saxon-Celtic race has done so far as Australia is concerned is to embroider its borders with splendid cities. The large interior, which could be cultivated by the conservation of water and by the boring of wells, in a sense has not yet been touched. We therefore do not want any further land at present, but speaking for the future and with a vista of a glorious Australia, one of the great homes of the white race, helping to keep up the civilization which the western nations have so far brought to such a high pitch, I would say, “ Yes, let us take all that we can.” Against that idea we have the splendid precept laid down by President Wilson that there shall be no aggrandization of territory, followed by the declaration of the United Kingdom that Great Britain wants no territorial increase. Surely with the wide spaces we have in Australia we should follow those splendid examples, and say that we already have enough land of our own. I am contend to leave the matter to the decision of the nations which will dominate the Peace table. If Australia is not represented as I could wish it to be, we must lay theblame upon the electors, but whoever is there, if he carries out any plan or fight for the benefit and welfare of Australia, will certainly earn my thanks and my regard. The other day I came across some words of Demosthenes, which, I think, are quite apropos. Speaking on the Embassy of nations after warfare who were making peace, he said -
I knew well - anything given up in passing from war to peace is loss to the careless side; since, when people generally have once made up their minds for peace, they will not renew the war for the sake of what has been sacrificed. This, therefore, remains in possession of the holders.
At the meeting of the various plenipotentiaries of the nations, care must be taken that no careless oversight will land us in difficulties now that the war has ceased.
The Carolines and that portion of -New Guinea which lately flew the German flag are now in the hands of the German planters, and honorable members can see clearly how easy, it is for them for a little while to be kind to the natives by gifts of trade tobacco, so as to get them to vote in the way they desire should a vote be taken of the inhabitants of territories whose future ownership is to be decided in that way. A white Australian, a man named Whiteman, has been knocking at our doors asking for justice against the oppression of German planters in New Guinea, and yet we have_ turned a deaf ear to his piteous cries. Honorable members will agree with me that there is great safety in clause 5 of President Wilson’s fourteen points, which reads as follows : -
A free, open-minded, and absolutely impartial adjustment of all Colonial claims, based upon a strict observance of the principle that in determining all such questions of sovereignty, the interests of the populations concerned must have equal weight with the equitable claims of the Government whose title is to: be determined.
It will make it safe, not only for the people of She coloured races, but also- for ourselves. At present, the Germans in the Caroline Islands collect labour in vessels which fly the British flag, and they have made that flag such a terror to the natives that whenever a boat flyingthe British colours approaches an island,, the native population rushes off into the forests and hills. The Germans are purposely making our flag an object of terror to these natives, so that if ever their voices are taken upon the matter of the future ownership of the islands,, they will vote for the other nation, and not for the country whose flag they have learned to fear. All this has happened since the war. Two friends of mine from NewGuinea,, who spent several hours with me last night, stated definitely that the British flag is absolutely a symbol of fear to the natives.
I owe much to my old German teachers who left Germany in’ the rebel year of 1848. If they had had their way, they would never have permitted a King, a Kaiser, or a Czar to exist, but they had to flee to a. foreign land. Honorable members will excuse me for repeating the story I have told of my old gymnasticmaster, who was in Germany at the time when the present late Kaiser’s grandfather had to flee from Berlin, ju3t as the grandson has just had to do. After the amnesty which was proclaimed in 1858, he thought that he would like to goback to see the land of his childhood, anc! then return to Australia, But Bismarck, that brute beast, would not allow him to go into Germany,- and when he and his friend found this was the case, they .stood on the frontier, and one of them spat on the land whose rulers would not permit them to visit their birthplaces. I propose to quote the words of Frederick the Great, that great scoundrel, who equally with the late Kaiser broke treaties, and equally with him knew nothing that would prevent him from doing what he had the power to do. These were his words -
I begin by taking. Afterwards 1 can always! find learned men to demonstrate it was my good right.
Here is another quotation from the great Goethe. Surely, if any one knew his Countrymen, or those who were akin to> his countrymen, the Prussians, well, ifr was he. Speaking of the Kaiser’s people, he said that they were -
Cruel by nature, whom civilization has rendered ferocious.
Surely any one who has gone through the “White-Books, Blue-Books. and the various other books that have been published by the nations concerning this war must agree that the man who told his soldiers that, once they took the oath, if he gave the order they would have to shoot even their own parents, and that his word only was the law, was merely following in the footsteps of that great scoundrel who was his progenitor. The North-Eastern Ensign, speaking of the Kaiser and his myrmidons, has made, use of these words: -
A hand of the greatest criminals the world, has ever known.. Belgium,. France, Russia, Holland, and Servia have been ravaged, robbed, and rained, whilst the most unmentionable crimes have been committed on every side against the fair name of womankind.
In the A ere of the 2nd October, 1918, President Wilson is quoted as having said that the Governments of the Central Empires were - without honour. They observe no covenants, and accent no principles but force and their own interest. We cannot “ come to terms with them. They have made it impossible.”
Early in the fight, when I was taking the platform for recruiting, I made a state.ment. What I wished for then, I hope will come to pass. I said -
Let us hope that a civilization will rise from the carnage of blood and murder men call war that will destroy the power of despots, whether kings, kaisers, or czars, to make human beings become mad. with the curse of the murder and rapine of war. and I hope that civilization will be willina; and able to pay as much to save infant life, to educate the young, to keep old acre from want, and to eliminate poverty, as it now spends upon war to destroy man at_ his most useful period of life.
One could hardly pick up a newspaper to-day without finding that another monarch has gone, another king has lost his crown. About eighteen months ago there was a full drawing by Low in the pages of the Bulletin bearing the words, “ Any old crowns for sale.” Surely that day has come. I have never recognised any difference between the’ criminal who wears rags and one who has worn the
Imperial crown of Germany. I appeal to the Old, Old Book, particularly to the Book of Joshua. In Holbein’s Dance of Death there is a picture of Joshua. The artist of the middle ages has painted him as wearing the armour of the middle ages, and at the foot of the picture we have the words, “ Thirty and one kings were killed by Joshua.” If it be true that the Crown Prince of Germany has lost his life few will regret it. The only regret of many, including myself, will be that he met with so easy a death.
The Statesman’s Tear-Book for 1918 shows that the various States of Germany are represented as follows in the Bundesrat and the Reichstag: -
It will, be seen that the Kingdom of Prussia has seventeen members out of sixtyone in the Bundesrat, and 236 out of 397’ deputies in the Reichstag, so that it has a majority in the lower House. On the other hand, Bavaria has only six members . in the Bundesrat and forty-eight deputies in the Reichstag. If the representation of Prussia were on the same basis as that of Bavaria, it would not have a majority in the lower House. Where are these Kingdoms now? The flag of the Republic flies over every one of them. The revolutionary feeling, as many of us foresaw, has come from the interior of Germany, and it has certainly hastened the coming of peace.
I recall a statement made in August, 1914, by the Consul in Melbourne for the last of the Allies to join us - the little Republic of Nicaragua, on the Isthmus of Panama. He told me then that we should not win even if we had 100 men for every one that Germany put into the field, and that not until we had ten large pieces of ordnance for every one possessed by Germany would we be able to blast our way through to Berlin. He said he had seen four revolutions and four different Presidents in his own country, and that while representing that country at Berlin he had enjoyed the secret information given to representatives of foreign Powers. Amongst other statements made by him was one to the effect that he had been through a new building in Germany four stories up and four stories down, which was stocked with munitions only to be used when Germany was invaded, and that this building had a floor space of 2 miles square. How great, then, was the achievement of our. “contemptible little Army,” ill-equipped as it was, m stemming back the onrush of the best equipped Army in the world ; but to Prance must special credit be given for the stand that it has made.
It is absolutely necessary to pass a motion of this kind. As my leader (Mr. Tudor) has said, there may be no im- mediate hurry, and the passing of it may not have much influence with the Peace Conference, but it will tend, at all events, to show that Australia is quick to express through its National Parliament the opinion it holds with respect to this great question. I could have wished that the question of an indemnity being paid by Germany had been introduced into this motion. What I suggest is not a penal indemnity, but one by way of justice. I perfer to see Germany called upon to pay such an indemnity rather than that the workers of Australia should have to bear an interest burden of from £15,000,000 to £20,000,000 a year. Why should such a load be handed down to our children and our children’s children t Innocent as we are of this war, the” children as yet unborn will be even more innocent of it, and it would be an infamy to burden them for all times with the cross of interest payments. I hope we shall never agree to’ anything of the kind. It has been estimated that the coal resources of Germany alone, at a valuation of 5s. per tori, are worth £240,000,000,000. If that be correct, then they are, in themselves, sufficient to provide, in time, for the payment of such an indemnity as might be demanded of Germany. I do not ask that the enemy should be called upon to pay down at once, as the unfortunate Japanese nation was once asked to do, the indemnity demanded of her. I should not mind if the payment were extended over 100 years; but I certainly think that an indemnity should be paid. The German race would not be crucified by having to comply with such a demand. Having put an end to the autocratic forms of government which disgraced their earlier history, the workers of the German Empire will have the right to leave their country, and seek a living elsewhere, if, as a result of the war, they find that local taxation is too heavy for them. I am not afraid of my fellow-Australian citizens of German parentage. In the very first days of the war the Melbourne Turn Verein offered its splendid club-rooms for use as a hospital for our soldiers. Some thirty of its members volunteered, and we know that over 100,000 American citizens of German parentage have marched to the Front under the flag of the United States of America. I could have wished that Roosevelt, rather than Wilson, had been President of the great Republic of the United States of America. As it is, I believe that Roosevelt stimulated the President, and led him to take action such as he might have hesitated to take had he been left to his own more philosophic moods. No one will say that if Roosevelt had been in the presidential chair the torpedoeing of the Lusitania would have occurred. The United States of America long before that outrage took place would have been in the war if Roosevelt had had his way.
I look to the future with joy, since I believe that this will be the last great war in the World’s history. At one time I had a fear of the East and the West coming into conflict, but I no longer entertain it. I know what noble work has been done by the stronger of our eastern. Allies; its fleet has protected our coastal towns and has prevented them from being utterly destroyed. No one will say that the splendid Australia was able to guarantee the safety of our coastal towns, stretching,as they do, from Brisbane round to Perth. Vessels of the Japanese fleet have been protecting our shores, and it was due to the generosity and splendid spirit of chivalry displayed by the Japanese that our own cruiser, the Sydney, was allowed to go out to meet and destroy the Emden.
I loathe war, and wonder sometimes why the Almighty permits it. To me the fact that 12,000,000 men have been killed, or have died as the result of wounds or sickness, in this war is appalling. It’ is equally appalling to learn that some 30,000,000 men have been wounded in a hundred different ways. I join most heartily in praise to the Creator that at last the war is over. Providence must view with feelings of sorrow the efforts to destroy each other which are made by those whom He has endowed with brain power above that of all other forms of life. Why should a brute like the Kaiser have been allowed to plunge the world into war? Men who share my views can join with me in showing respect to our own King, since his is a limited monarchy. Our King may not make war without the consent of his people. If he were an autocrat, then I should wish him to disappear just as the monarchs of the German Kingdoms have been swept away. King Edward, when Prince of Wales, was once discussing with a friend the ques tion of whether England would ever become a Republic. He said that while he might come to the throne, he thought that England would one day become a Republic. If it did, he declared the best way out of the difficulty would be for the people to make him their first President, and then give him an opportunity to disappear into private life. It is a tribute to the spirit of the British that, although the people of Great Britain have one of the least up-to-date franchises, they have yet more liberty than have the people of other nations with a wider franchise. The franchise of Great Britain is undoubtedly ridiculous; it is certainly absurd that a woman under thirty should not be allowed to record hervote.
I have only to say, in conclusion, that I should like this motion to be amended in the way I have suggested. We should do nothing that is likely to create in the minds of an Ally a feeling of distrust, and it seems to me that there could he placed upon this motion a construction altogether foreign to the wishes and desires of honorable members. If we left the disposal of these island colonies to the Conference which is to settle the peace terms, it would remove what I may term the’ personal note when we speak of Australia and New Zealand. If I cannot get my ideas accepted, I shall vote for the motion, such as it is.
.- The motion having been introduced, set in terms which every member of the House can cordially indorse, I feel it is my duty to interpose on a proposal which one might prefer to see passed without comment or question, my own views as to the possibility of justice requiring something further for Australia than what is actually implied in its terms. Instead of being a humble member of the House, had I the responsibility attaching to the Government, I should have hesitated to introduce this motion, and for two reasons. In the first place, I realize that we are speaking as a section of the Empire upon a subject on which we have every right to be heard; but we are not speaking to persons without sympathy for us, or who have no difficulties in the management of the peace conditions. Realizing that we are speaking to our own kith and kin overseas - realizing that we are speaking to a Government that appreciates most highly the inspiring example set for the whole Empire and the world by the early action of Australia, and that also appreciates in the highest degree the way our volunteers have played their part on the battlefields of Europe - I feel we can trust the Government responsible for the affairs of the Empire to act with an earnest desire to meet the necessities of the Australian people wherever they can be met. The other ground on which I should have hesitated to introduce the motion is that any person reading it without also reading the very able and eloquent speech with which it was introduced, might feel that this was all that Australia required as recompense for her tremendous sacrifices.
We cannot regard the possession of these islands as an economic compensation for Australia. As the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) has pointed out, the proposal is entirely in the interests of prudence, and. has little, if anything, to dc with economic recompense.
I may be permitted to make a passing reference to what has made these islands of recent years so profitable, so . important, and of such promise to Germany. Honorable members may know that, before the war, the price of copra, the stable product of the 3?.lands, rose and kept on rising. The reason was that new ‘markets had been found for the materials into which copra could be manufactured. Up to quite recently, it has been impossible to profitably use copra in the production of food. Not so long ago, however, a German chemist discovered a way of making from copra an excellent palatable oil for cooking, which was used by the whole Jewish people of Central Europe; and a great British industry in the supply of olive oil to that part of the “world disappeared with the discovery. In the same way large markets are every day being found for imitation butters and margarine that have been manufactured from copra. It is only if we continue to maintain these markets - and it is difficult to know if we can maintain the previous markets for the product in Western Russia and Eastern Germany - and develop them that the islands can be made of economic advantage to Australia. However, the motion is set in terms of prudence; and on that ground, I think that every member of the House might well support it.
It seems to me that persons who assume there are to be no indemnities are rather overestimating the case. They are carrying in their minds those debatable points put forward by President Wilson many months ago at the time when Germany was talking colossal indemnities, and refusing to consider even a drawn war; but those points have been vitally modified by the armistice conditions recently published. No doubt honorable members were as alarmed as I was when I read in the press that all the Versailles Conference had succeeded in doing was to get the phrase “ no indemnities “ altered into the phrase “ civilian reparation.” I realized that the ordinary meaning of “ civilian reparation “ meant no return to Australia for her heavy outlay in treasure and the sacrifice in the war of some of our best producers. I was correspondingly delighted when I . afterwards read in the armistice conditions, section 19, the words, “ With the reservation that any future claims and demands of the Allies and the United States of America remain unaffected, the following financial conditions are required: - Reparation for damage done” - and so forth. The very .armistice conditions presuppose a position arising under which indemnities, against the ordinary costs of war, so far as they can be met, may be claimed.
May I now say one word on this subject as it seems to me to affect Australia ? Unless these indemnities are forthcoming to Australia, or unless there be a spreading throughout the Empire of that “ civilian reparation “ which individual sections of the Empire are to get, Australia will be unjustly treated. We may say that if a man’s house has been bombed, or a man’s ship has been lost, that house and ship shall be made good. But if Australia has lost no house or has lost no ship, Australia has jio claim for such damages. Now, in the case of a house, or of a ship, the damage bas already been made good, so far as the individual owner is concerned. His house has in “all human likelihood been insured, as the ship undoubtedly was, so that civilian reparation means reparation to the Government for damage done to its civilians. What is the difference between the damage done to the civilians of this country by the taxation levied here, and the damage done to the civilians of the Mother Country? The latter has been met by the various insurance schemes specially’ formulated to meet such contingencies; and the very insurance companies could not have reparation made to them, because they have put up their premiums in order to be able to meet the claims made.
I shall take honorable members one . stage further; and this is, perhaps, the most interesting phase to my mind. The Empire makes war as a whole, with all its energies and heart, for a common purpose. But in the terms of peace, under ©ur loose Constitution, one section of the Empire - one Government, fortunately, composed of the very best of persons with the deepest sympathy for us and our aspirations - makes the peace. Again, the one section that makes the peace gets, on behalf of the Empire - for it is the trustee for the Empire - anything which comes out of the melting pot, amongst which may be some of the potentially richest provinces in the world. Take one simple illustration. Let us assume that the Peace Conference decides that Mesopotamia, which at one time was the granary of the then civilized world, is not to revert to that tyrannical and wasteful rule thatturned it from a granary to a desert, but that the Empire is to ‘ receive it. If that happens, not the’ Empire, but the United Kingdom, which is the trustee for the Empire, gets territory worth thousands of millions sterling, while Australia gets another competitor in -grain in the markets of the Mother Country.
I do not say these things in any spirit of cavil, because honorable members on both sides know that my whole desire, since I have been a member of this House, has been to wipe out the anomalies in this loose Imperial Constitution of ours, and give the people throughout the British
Dominions another suffrage, the right to have some part in the conduct of the Empire’s international affairs.
– If I said that I should be called disloyal.
– I am only saying these things now because I think that the shortest, way to success is to be perfectly frank and free. As one of the keenest Imperialists in this Chamber, through all the years I have sat here, I say that it is of vital importance to the solidarity of our race in the future that the Dominions of the Empire shall be generously and considerately treated in connexion with the peace proposals. I do not for a moment say, as some people loosely say in the street, that this .country should have all its war expenditure met. There is one part of our war expenditure that this country would be too proud to have met by others; I refer to the extra money we are only too happy to have paid to our soldiers, an expenditure we prefer to bear as a. tribute to the men who have kept us where we are. But there are some phases of our expenditure which should be met, in justice to the country, first on the ground that the phrase ‘ ‘ .civilian reparation “ does not meet our needs; secondly, that any territorial aggrandisement the Empire gets is at the expense, so to speak, of Australia in providing another competitor; and thirdly, because I trust that this Empire of ours in the future will every day grow closer together, with the people in greater sympathy and harmony, and .that we should look back” upon a common gain without any bitterness at the suffering that has gone.
I do hope that we shall get one compensation at the Peace Conference that has been referred to to-day, but which I believe is none the less real. The greatest military Powers in the world have been disarmed, and that, in my humble judgment, means that many swords may be turned into many plough-shares, and many energies that have been devoted to preparations for war may well, be diverted to the development of the resources of mankind. I hope and believe that that is one of the results we shall get out of this war. But we would be mad to assume that this is the last war, and that war is always a clashing of right against wrong. Some of the greatest crimes of this kind in history have been due to the clashing of right against right. I need not refer to the direction in which such things may possibly occur again, but let us hope that so long as we live we shall not have a repetition of what we have passed through during the last few years. I have urged my views in connexion with this motion in no sense because I fear the justice we shall receive at the hands of the Mother Country, but solely that those who may work sympathetically for us in connexion with the peace proposals may realize that the terms of this motion are not all that justice requires for the Australian Commonwealth.
– Many times during this discussion we on this side of the chamber have been taunted with the question, “ Will you vote for the motion ? “ I say emphatically that I shall not vote for the motion as it is worded, and I take the risk of all the threats that may be made as to what will happen to me on account of that attitude. The wording of the motion is somewhat peculiar, especially as we are dealing with the islands in the Pacific. It says that in ho circumstances shall the captured German Possessions in the Pacific, which are now occupied by Australian and New Zealand troops, be restored to Germany. There is no reference whatever to the islands captured by Japan. I know it is a very nasty statement to make, but I must accept the responsibility for saying that I would as soon have the Germans holding the islands in the Pacific as I would have the J apanese.
– Is there any need to introduce that phase at this stage?
– I think there is.
– On a point of order: Is a reference of that kind to an Allied Power permissible under’ the Standing Orders?
– I was about to intervene when the honorable member rose to the point of order. I think it would be very illadvisedon the part of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports to pursue the subject which he has introduced. He has referred to one of our Allies in termswhich may cause serious offence. I am sure he will recognise the unwisdom of further references of the kind, and that the general sense of the House is certainly opposed to such references.
– My remarks are not intended to be offensive. I speak solely from the industrial and racial standpoints. It does seem somewhat peculiar that members on the Government side should be able to give expression to their feelings without restraint, and that the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Kelly) should be able to make a remark which, if voiced by me, would have been considered disloyal. Throughout the war I have refrained from alluding to one of our Allies, but the motion says that in no circumstances must Germany, whether reformed or. otherwise, re-occupy the Pacific islands, because to do so would be to create a menace to Australia. When I endeavour to point to another menace I am immediately called to order. I quite understand the delicacy of the situation, and I would be the last person to introduce any discussion that would be likely to bring about international difficulties ; but I am of opinion that nothing I may say will create any difficulty between Great Britain and Japan. Today the Caroline and Marshall Islands are controlled by Japan.
– I ask the honorable member not to pursue that subject.
– I must bow to your ruling, sir, but I fail to see that it is any reflection on the people or Government of Japan to say that they desire the possession of those islands.
– What is the difference between discussing New Guinea and discussing the Caroline and Marshall Islands ?
– In the special circumstances of the present time, there is a great difference between a discussion of the future of territory taken from a conquered enemy and the discussion of the future of captured territory at present controlled by one of our Allies.
– In bowing to your ruling, sir,I can take the matter no further. According to my knowledge of history at some time in the past Great Britain has been at war with every one of her present Allies.
– They behaved as gentlemen.
– My memory reverts to the time when the name of Russia was anathema to every Britisher. We remember well the great Russian scare of not many years ago. We were told that Russia was menacing India, and endeavouring to obtain political influence in Afghanistan. British politicians” and the press discussed that matter very freely, and the feeling towards Russia was one of real hatred, because the Russians desired, just as the Germans have done, to secure the trade of India. They were said to be sapping the commercial interests of Britishers in that country. There is no need for me to recite the diplomatic arrangements that were made to avert the threatened trouble, because honorable members are familiar with the facts. At the time of the Fashoda incident the French and the British peoples were, at variance; feeling ran high, there was talk of war. Nobody ever dreamed that Britain would everbe at war with Turkey, because Turkey always looked upon Great Britain as one of her protectors; yet for the last four years we have been waging war against the Turkish Empire.
We are discussing now our future relations with the German nation, with which we have never previously been at war. Hitherto there has always been an affinity between Great Britain and Germany, but to-day the two nationsare enemies, and the name of Germany is anathema to every Britisher.
– The honorable member is not surprised?
– I am. I cannot understand any people feeling hatred towards another people who, by no stretch of imagination, can be blamed, as a people, for what has taken place during the last few years. I have no feeling against the unfortunate German worker in regard to this war, and if the Allies, as peoples, donot wish to be placed in the same category with the Germans, of whose “ kultur “ we have spoken so sarcastically, they will not deal with the German people, as some persons desire that they shall be dealt with. Have honorable members read the speech of President Wilson published in yesterday’s press, in which he spoke of his feelings towards the German people? The Prime Minister of Australia (Mr. Hughes) has expressed himself similarly, and so has Mr. Fisher, the former Leader of the Labour Party. I know, of course, that he was brought to book for his remarks. I say, again, that we have no right to blame the German people for the war. As a matter of fact, the war was purely a Prussian design. Have honorable members studied the history of Germany and learnt how the different States were forced into the German Federation?
– They were very enthusiastic about the war when they thought there was a chance of winning.
– Australians are supposed to have enthusiastic feelings towards the present Government, but have they ? Are the people to be charged with the remissness of the Government? Do honorable members understand the limited power of the German people in the Reichstag? Are the German workers to be held responsible for the war? We know very well that for many years the great socialistic organizations in Germany have been endeavouring to defeat influences which in other nations have had to be defeated at the point of the bayonet.
– Every professor, every churchman, and every man of influence in Germany upheld this war throughout.
– That atrocities were committed by the Germans during the war I believe, but I know that every army fighting in a foreign country has perpetrated atrocities in the past. The British Army has done so. Are not honorable members aware that Wellington had to erect triangles in Spain in order to discourage atrocities on the part of British troops?
– That showed that he did not approve of them. The German High Command did approve of them.
– The Germans deny the charges that have been made against them, and they should be proved or disproved in a neutral Court. I am not one of those who would hand over the proof or otherwise to a court consisting of Prussian junkers; but I do know that if a British army captured a town in any foreign country, and if, after the enemy had been thrust out of that town, civilians dared to fire upon British troops, they would be met with reprisals; and, according to tho extent of the injury done to the troops, so would be meted out the reprisals to civilians. It is an acknowledged principle in all warfare that civilians must not attack soldiers.
– But how about the circumstance of civilians not having attacked soldiers ?
– I am quite willing to believe that outside of such reprisals as I have indicated much was done by the German army; but I insist that much of what was actually done would have been done also by the- soldiers of any othernation. In all the hatred which is being heaped upon the German people to-day, it should not be forgotten that the same, degree of hatred has been felt by the British towards other countries which are now our Allies. This is the first occasion in recent history when Germany and Britain have not been friends.
– And this is the only war which has seen such dastardly outrages.
– I admit that; but all the great wars of the past have been by comparison mere affairs of outposts. I assure honorable members that in the course of defending the honour of my country, I have had hurled at me the taunt that Britain herself has broken treaties. History proves that every nation has torn up scraps of paper.
– When did Great Britain tear -up a treaty?
– One which was torn up was the treaty of Limerick.
We are told that the Allies will not enter upon even the consideration of peace unless they are to deal with a reformed Germany. The Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) stated to-day that even with Germany on her knees, as she now is, General Hindenburg remains as one of the leading factors at the seat or the ‘German Government. I do not believe it. I do not believe that the Socialists and the Soviets would tolerate Hindenburg for ten minutes. I believe that, wherever he now is, he is pretty close to the Kaiser. The fact is that in the latter course of this war, . Hindenburg has been endeavouring to supplant the Kaiser; that is if we are to believe the cables. No reformed Germany under a socialistic regime would tolerate a Hindenburg in its midst. If the people of Germany show that they will have no more of Kaiserism, and will become,, as we ourselves would like to be, although we- are not,- a civilized nation, will honorable members still say that in no circumstances shall Ger.many nave the opportunity of regaining her overseas dominions ? The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Kelly) gave the whole show away when he referred to the present value of copra. I am’ informed that the Oil and butter extracted from copra will supplant almost every other product of that character. We say that we shall not deal commercially with the Germans; that we shall not accept their cure for cancer, or for bald heads; that we shall not listen to their music ; that we shall not encourage through commerce any of their great discoveries, such as making cocoanut oil palatable. The Germans, in their organized thoroughness, have discovered how to make that cocoanut oil palatable, wherefore it has now become a matter of commercial concern throughout the world. There are teeming millions of Jews in Europe who are fond of fried edibles, and to whom the fat of the pig is abhorrent. To them there is considerable significance in the fact that copra has been found to provide a substitute for a great many fats and oils. The extracts from copra are now being used to a vastly greater extent than ever before. The product of copra in future will be in greater demand than ever. Therefore, when the honorable member for Wentworth alluded to the fact that copra will be largely produced in those islands, we were able Jio see that, after all, commercialism is mixed up in the matter of who shall get those Possessions.
Perhaps the time will come when Britain would just as soon have Germany close to the shores of her Dominions as certain other nations which are to-day her Allies. Just as the feeling of hatred now is against Germany, so may hatred on the part of Britons return with regard to certain other nations which to-day are our Allies. There is not an honorable member opposite, who is conversant with the history of Britain’s troubles, and of her desire for dominance and commercial expansion, but who must be aware that those islands of the Pacific may create further international turmoil. Yet we are told that this was not a war to acquire more territory.
– The honorable member knows it was not.
– It was not in 1914; but it was in 1916. This is only another evidence of whatwas done in 1916. If we end this war with all our desires for expansion and our greed for further aggrandisement gratified, we may talk about German “ kultur,” but not only shall we be humiliated in the eyes of the smaller nations, the neutral nations, but we shall be humiliated in our own eyes.
– The honorable member need not shed these tears for Germany. She is getting a much better deal than she would have given to us.
– I admit that.
Had Germany come out. victorious, she would have enforced a truly enormous penalty upon Australia. But we pretend to be more civilized than the Germans.
– Do you not think that we are?
– I am, and I want the honorable member to be more civilized.
– I will come to you for lessons.
– Order! Will the honorable member resume his seat ?’ I will ask honorable members to cease from interjecting. The honorable member for Grampians (Mr. Jowett) interjects in a very loud voice. It is a very disorderly proceeding, and is calculated to disturb the whole of the deliberations of the House.
I hope this conduct will not bepursued any further..
– If we are not more civilized than the Germans, 1, for one, wish to be; and I wish our nation to be. But if we show vindictiveness at present, we shall not be able to claim a higher standard of culture than the Germans themselves claim to possess.
– The question is whether you want to have Germans for your neighbours in those islands.
– My opinion is that it wouldbe better to have Germans there than certain other people.This is only another evidence of grab, added to the secret treaties of the Allied nations during 1916. Honorable members are aware - although the public outside may not be - that certain secret treaties gave to Great Britain the greater portion of Asia Minor, the whole of Mesopotamia, the suzerainty of Persia, with a clear line right into India. Secret treaties gave to Italy vast European territories which Italy could not claim as ever having been Italian. Secret treaties gave to Italy and to France, in Asia Minor, huge areas which they are to colonize. Yet we are told that it is only the German who was after territorial aggrandisement in the war.
I am one of those who desire to be proud of our country; but can ‘we be proud of any country that will say to the people of another country, “ Down you go to hell, so far as we are concerned “ ? Honorable members talk about indemnities to be enforced upon the people of Germany. If the Allies “ collar “ the Kaiser and all the rest of his royal and military gangs, I shall only say, Good luck to the Allies. But if the Allies force upon Germany a huge burden, added to that awful load which the people are already carrying as the result of the war, then I can only describe such conduct as absolute vindictiveness towards the unfortunate workers of Germany. What is the value of the mark to-day? When our enormous indemnity has been piled upon the present indebtedness of Germany, what will be the value of the mark then? If it is taking the German all his time to cope with his debt to-day, what will happen to him when he is crushed beneath the added load of indemnity? We say, rightly, that every brick torn from every building in the territories occupied by the German army, that every tree hewn down and blown down, and that every ton of coal and iron taken from the mines of France and Belgium shall be paid for by Germany. It is quite right that Germany should repay and make reparation for all such tilings as that.; for I know that if we had lost the war there would have been added to our burden of war indebtedness by the Prussian military caste ah indemnity which would have rendered us abject slaves for generations and centuries to come. But that is what we are trying to do with Germany now. I have no concern for the wealthy and military classes of Germany, but if we are going to thrust the unfortunate German worker under, I, for one, shall protest.
– What about the Belgian workers ?
– Order !
– I am not allowed to talk about our Allies, or else I would say something about the Belgians.
– Just a moment ago I called for order. I ask the honorable member for Wannon to cease interjecting. The nature of these interjections is such as to create a very high state of feeling in the House, and provoke considerable disorder. Therefore it is more than ever necessary for honorable members to exercise a reasonable degree of self-restraint in the matter of interjections.
– Let the honorable member ask the boys who have come back from the Front what they think of the “ poor “ Belgians. I am not allowed to pursue that matter further, but I can say that there is just as much to the discredit of the Belgian people as there is to the discredit of the German people.
We talk about the feeling of one nation to another. It is quite within the bounds of possibility that New Zealand may declare war against Australia over these islands in the Pacific. The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) may laugh, but the desire of the people of New Zealand is to secure control of some of the islands. They claim Samoa, and when it comes to a question of partitioning we may find Governments which are Looking for benefits out of the war attacking one another if they think that benefits are being secured by others which are not accruing to themselves. If I am any judge, ill-feeling will be created between Australia and New Zealand. We have our Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) and the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) in Great Britain urging the claims of Australia. On the other hand, we have the Ward-Massey combination urging the interests of New Zealand. I bet the four of them are not like lambs lying down in the fold. Each is trying to get special benefits for his own country, not for the people, but for the commercialism of his own country. At a football match I have seen as much feeling and hatred displayed by the opposing teams and their supporters as could be displayed by people of hostile countries towards one another. At times feelings of hatred find expression in this chamber, but I must say that they are not so strenuously expressed as they are outside among the supporters of the parties here. During an election or a conscription referendum campaign in Australia greater hatred has been displayed than has ever been felt by the people of France and Germany towards one another. No stronger hand and no greater exercise of the mailed fist or the Kaiser spirit could have been exercised by the ex-Emperor of Germany than was exercised by the present Prime Minister during his last two fights against the Labour party. He utilized all the money that he had under his control, the whole of the press, and the whole of the laws of the country in order to prevent us putting our views before the people.
– Order! What the honorable member is saying has nothing to do with the question before the Chair.
– I am endeavouring to show the dovelike fondness of one party for another, and quoting it as an example of feelings of hatred which may be displayed. Is there any honorable member on the other side who would say that he has any feeling for the sufferings of a German mother whose boy had been killed at the war? I would not believe him if he said that he had.
– I ask the honorable member not to pursue that subject. It has nothing to do with the question before the Chair.
Honorable members interjecting,
– I ask honorable members to obey the direction of the Chair and cease interjections. If I find that the authority of the Chair is to be disregarded I shall very reluctantly be compelled to ask the House to take the necessary action to uphold it.
Mr. Brennan interjecting,
– I name the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) for interjecting immediately after I called for order, and I ask the Minister in charge of the House to take the necessary action.
– I was merely soliloquizing very gently.
– Order. ! The honorable member has again interjected.
– I have no desire to take any extreme action. I think that on calm reflection the honorable member for Batman will see the necessity for apologizing.
– No reflection is necessary. I will withdraw and apologize, and do anything.
– I ask the honorable member to apologize to the House.
– But will that suffice?
– I have been very patient with honorable members. I have called the House to order frequently, and interjections have immediately followed. This cannot be permitted to continue . and it is necessary that some action should be taken when the House gets out of control in that way to enforce the directions of the Chair. I expect Ministers and the Leader of the Opposition to support me in my efforts to preserve decorum in debate. Otherwise the orderly proceedings of the House will be impossible. I ask the honorable member for Batman to apologize to the House for his interjections, and to do so, not in a spirit of levity, but in a spirit of seriousness.
– It is certainly not in any spirit of contrition that I apologize. I must say that I do not feel justified in doing so.
– I remind the honorable member that he has an unfortunate habit of retorting immediately after the Speaker has called the House to order, and making remarks which are audible all over the Chamber. It is a disorderly practice which cannot be permitted, and I hope that he will not offend again. For the time being, I ask the House to allow the incident to close, but I trust that it will not be repeated. I hope that honorable members will see the necessity of obeying the direction of the Chair when the House is called to order.
– I shall vote againstthe motion. I cannot understand any civilized community saying that, in no circumstances will it do something. It is a tremendous thing to say. If that is the kind of spirit that is to pervade the proceedings at the Peace Conference, all I can say is “ God help civilization.”
– The House should welcome this motion, not because honorable members have not entire faith in the statesmen who will represent the Allies at the Peace Conference, butbecause, seeing that it is a question which is vital to the future safety and welfare of this continent, we feel that it is peculiarly one upon which Australia is entitled to express an opinion. Mr. Balfour has recently made a statement in very emphatic terms that there should be no return of the colonies in the Pacific to Germany; and, as reported in the Age of Monday last, Mr. Lloyd George has said in equally emphatic terms -
We must not forget our children beyond the seas, who of their own free will came to help us. Their share in the victory has been conspicuous, and they must have a voice which will be equal to their sacrifice in the determination of the peace terms.
Last year we consulted them fully regarding theconditions which Britain should impose at the Peace Conference. This year we reconsidered these terms with the representatives of the Dominions and India at the Imperial War Cabinet, and again arrived at a perfectly unanimous conclusion. At Versailles my colleagues agreed to nothing that would preclude us from pressing at the Peace Conference - as we intend to press them - all those conditions which the Dominions, India, and ourselves determined at those conferences.
In the face of these emphatic utterances, we can have- the utmost faith in the statesmen who will settle the future of these islands; but, at the same time, the motion submitted by the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) is exceedingly opportune, because this . Parliament is a body which ought to ‘be able to speak with authority upon the future control of the islands of the Pacific. We have had an experience of those Possessions which no other part of the British Empire has had. Out geographical and local knowledge, and our trading and other relations lead us to know not only their resources, but also how favorably situated some of them are for the establishment- of naval bases and coaling stations. We know, as no other people know, how vital they are to the safety of the Commonwealth, and what a menace they would be to us if they were allowed to continue under foreign ownership. There is a fair amount of trade between the islands and Australia, but it is not very profitable. From an economic stand-point, they would not be very valuable Possessions for Australia to hold; but under divided or under foreign control we realize they will always be a menace to our future safety.
The Pacific is different from any other ocean, .since it is dotted with islands which might easily be occupied by a foreign Power, who would thus be able to cut off the whole of Australia’s trade. In no other ocean is there such a menace to the future of this continent. We know what the policy of peaceful penetration did for the German people. By such means they increased their influence and their territories in the Pacific in a way that if allowed to continue would very soon make them the dominant power in that part of the world. The Inter-State Commission, in a voluminous report recently issued, set out the trade relations of the territories of the Pacific with the rest of the world. The figures published in that report gave the population and the total trade of these islands, and showed in a striking manner the way in which Germany had increased its influence in the Pacific. The war party within Germany, before the outbreak of war, was deploring the fact that so many German citizens were becoming absorbed by other nations and losing their nationality. “ They arrived at the determination that if Germany desired to expand and become a worldPower, she could do so only by increasing her oversea colonial Possessions. The total imports and exports of the various islands of the Pacific, including Papua, are of the value of £8,000,000 per annum. Of that total the British proportion is about £4,000,000 per annum, while the German proportion . before the war amounted to something like £1,550,000. Great Britain, if we include New Guinea, holds 111,530 square miles of territory in the Pacific, with a population of 600,000, while the Germans before the war held something like 80,000 square miles, of territory, with a population of 800,000. Although the territory held by Germany is only two-thirds of that held by Great Britain, its population is 200,000 more. Largely by means of its missionary efforts Great Britain- was responsible in the early days for securing to these islands in the Pacific whatever civilization they now possess and the trade arising from it. But the German nation, in accordance with its’ policy of peaceful penetration to secure territorial expansion overseas, and so to extend its power and influence, had come in and had obtained two-thirds of the total territory controlled by Great Britain, with a population one-fourth greater. The population of the whole of these islands, which is something like 1,400,000, is calling out for some form of unified control. We have had some experience of divided control within the Pacific, and more particularly in connexion with the New Hebrides. We hold those territories conjointly with our Allies the French; but we now find it difficult to have a unified control over territories in the Pacific, and at the same time a proper scheme of development and a system of laws that will conduce to the growing up of an industrious and peaceful people.
If we, as a Commonwealth, claim that Great Britain shall control these territories of the Pacific, and give to the Commonwealth some kind of suzerainty over themwe shall be acting in the best interests of the people of the islands as well as in the interests of Australia and the whole Empire. The retention of our control over these islands is absolutely essential to our safety and integrity. It is clearly pointed out in the report of the Inter- State Commission that there is only one means by which the people of these territories can be raised to anything like a reasonable standard of civilization, and that js by providing for the natives a system of education, including the teaching of a uniform language, so that they may be trained to habits of industry. On the occasion of a recent visit to Japan I had an opportunity to call at the Philippines. There I saw the Filipinos being trained under a system of State education. English is being taught as a compulsory subject in all the State schools, and the natives are being trained to take charge of their own affairs. They occupy all the seats in both Houses of Parliament, and fill important positions in the various schools. They carry out for themselves most of the administrative work of the country. This is an illustration of the fact that with a proper system of Government control providing for the education of the natives and the compulsory teaching of a uniform language, it is possible to raise the people of these islands to something like a reasonable standard of civilization.
– The Filipinos are not exactly savages.
– Certainly not; but they are in some respects similar to the native races of Papua.
– Intellectually the Filipino is superior to the Papuan.
– The Papuan has not had the opportunities that the Filipinos have enjoyed. During the Spanish control of the Philippines, which extended oyer something like 400 years, the Filipinos had opportunities to become acquainted with forms of civilization as established in Spanish communities, and we have yet to learn that the Papuans, the Samoans, and other island races are not capable of rising to the same standards.
– Lord Derby said many years ago that Australia was destined to become the natural trustee of the Pacific.
– We all agree with that view.
The terms of this motion are such as should meet with the unanimous approbation of this Parliament. I should have liked it to go further, and to state that Australia believes it to be in the interests of the Empire as well as essential for the safety of the Commonwealth that the future control of these islands of the Pacific should be vested in the British Empire. Britain has the most right to them, and -is in the best position to govern them. When we recognise the part that the Pacific must play in the world’s destiny, and how essential it is that Australia should continue a part of the British Empire, we shall realize at once that we should cultivate a closer re. lationsbip with the great Republic of the United States of America. I can see no possibility of this continent being retained a part of the British Empire to be peopled by the British, unless the control ofthe islands that lie in the Pacific be divided between Great Britain and the United States. I can see no possibility of our remaining part of the British Empire with reasonable safety, except by means of a greater flow of capital from the United States and Great Britain, followed by a large inflow of the enterprising people of those two great countries.
– Australia does not want more territory.
– No; but she wants to be able to retain possession of her own territory with reasonable safety. The introduction of more foreigners into the Pacific will be a constant danger to us. Australian resources can be developed only in co-operation with the capital and the people of the United States of America, as well as the capital and people of the Old Country.
.- It seems to me that, at this period in the world’s history, when the internationalworking classes are rejoicing to the music of falling thrones, this is a rather puerile proposition to place before a Parliament that claims to represent “one of the most advanced Democracies in the world. We are told in the terms- of this motion that it is essential for the future safety and welfare of Australia that the captured German Possessions in the Pacific, which are now occupied by Australian and New Zealand troops, should not, in any circumstances, be restored to Germany. I am one of those who believe that the German working classes do not want the return of the colonies. I do not believe that any intelligent working class community, or section of humanity to-day, concerns itself with the question of colonial Possessions. A far greater question interests the, people of the world today. It is not alone in the belligerent countries where thrones have toppled over, and where others are shaking, that this attitude is to be found. The peoples of the world are undergoing a mental revolution. The great catastrophe that overwhelmed Europe has left no part of the world untouched. The working classes of all countries have been affected by this great catastrophe, which has quickened their minds, widened their vision, and shown to them that there are other considerations more important than that of who shall own certain islands in the Pacific or elsewhere. To-day, the working classes of the world are not concerning themselves with these, to my mind, comparatively trivial affairs. They do not _ concern themselves with the question of who shall control the Pacific and the islands therein, but who, or which class, shall own the world and make impossible a repetition of the tragedy that has just closed; and I trust that we have intelligence enough in the world to prevent such a repetition. I am sure that not one of us desires to see war ; and if we could formulate some scheme to abolish it we would do so. It is claimed that under no circumstances shall the Pacific islands, now occupied by Australian and New Zealand troops, be returned to Germany. The German Empire has gone for ever, though the German people remain. We do not know how they will reestablish themselves, whether as a number of independent Republics or a federation of free peoples.
This is only a surface motion, a move to take advantage of the patriotic and latent national spirit in the people of Australia for political purposes. That this is the real reason for the motion is supported by the contention of the honorable member for Illawarra (Mr. Lamond), that no nation but the Commonwealth of Australia should have control of these islands. The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Kelly) told us that he is an out-and-out Imperialist. I believe that that is true, and that honorable gentlemen opposite, conscientiously for the most part, hold the opinion that in Imperialism lies the safety of the Commonwealth and the continuance of the Empire. My own opinion is that Imperialism is not a good doctrine, because it means the crushing out of liberty. The Commonwealth, if it desires to pursue a national policy, would be far better-served by one such as that adopted by the United States of America prior to the AmericanSpanish war - a policy of minding its own affairs on the continent without regard to outlying Possessions contiguous thereto.
We are told that it is not for economic gain that Australia desires these Possessions in the Pacific, but only with the idea of safeguarding the Commonwealth. The object, it is said, is to take hostages for the future, because, if these islands got into the possession of some foreign power, it would be necessary to largely increase our naval and military expenditure. Yet, during the course of the war, we were told that it would result in a League of Nations, the grand outcome of which would be the rendering of war impossible, with the supremacy of the Allies on sea and land.
– So it would.
– Then what becomes of the argument that wc must have naval bases in the Pacific?
– It is better than peace by negotiation.
– I do not know whether it is. If any lesson is taught by history it is that conquest by force, and the imposition of the harshest terms possible, only leave a legacy of hate; and we have a striking instance in the policy ‘of revenge that ruled France from 1870. However, that is outside the scope of the motion. The only attempted justification for the motion has been that put forward by those who term themselves Imperialists, and believe in Imperial expansion. The oration of the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Kelly) >was a lesson to all economic students, as showing why the islands in the Pacific should be acquired by Australia. The reason given is that these islands are rich in copra, and, as the Acting Prime Minister (“Mr. Watt) told us, there are good* indications of oil. The’ honorable member for Wentworth pointed to Mesopotamia as the granary of the world, and he waxed sadly eloquent as he contemplated the future competition of that country, under British control, with Australia in- the production of foodstuffs.
Although it has been stated that Australia, the Empire, and our Allies entered the war without any thought of acquiring an inch of territory, it is_ remarkable that similar protestations should have been made by similar statesmen at the time of the Boer war in 1899. On the latter occasion the object was stated to be merely that of. obtaining the franchise for the Uitlanders, but at the conclusion of hostilities the two Republics were incorporated in the British Empire. Of course, that was only a happy coincidence; and so with Mesopotamia, the Pacific Islands, and so forth. I recognise that the expression of opinion by those of us whose views are not in harmony with the ideas of the supporters of this motion will not produce any great tangible result. We are asked to be silent at this stage in -the history of Australia, because, the people today are naturally in an excited state over the victory of the Allies; and it is thought that we might be afraid to runcounter to the popular trend. . It- may be that popular .opinion in Australia will indorse this motion, but I am satisfied that the working men and women in the country, when the war fever has died down and ordinary work-a-day existence is resumed, will not care who is in possession of the Pacific Islands.
– They desire their children to be protected in the future.
– There never was a proposal of the kind in regard to which that same old argument was not used. Honorable members opposite have told us that our Allies of 100 years ago are our enemies to-day - that the enemies of yesterday are the friends of to-morrow; and it may be that history will repeat itself. We on this side may not say a word about our friends of to-day, though honorable members opposite may tell us about the friends of yesterday being our enemies of to-day. The people Of Australia, the Empire, and the world will be asked to train children, to build up armaments, in order to safeguard Australia, not this time in Europe, but much nearer home. We shall be told, as in the past, that the greatest security for peace is to prepare for war. This war, which was to end war, is, apparently, to result in making preparations against some at least of our quondam friends, because if the victorious Allies of to-day are supreme on land and sea, war, if it comes, must be amongst themselves. What is there inherent in the system that rnakes war in the future, not only possible, but probable? It is the same thing that is behind this motion - the conflict for markets, and the necessity for reaching out for fresh lands. As Professor Atkinson pointed out last night in the Herald,’ the League of Nations, which is to- redeem humanity, is but the political framework of another trust - it is the’ oil trusts, steel trusts, and others which have broken the confines of any one nation, and are reaching out for international control. These are the financial interests which control war and peace, and which have their head-quarters in Wall-street.
– They have been very useful to us in this war.
– And we shall find ourselves very useful to them in peace when the reconstruction has taken place. I recently read a very iinformative article in the Age dealing with the proposed exploiting of the public. Reference was. therein made to one organization that has a capital of £20,000,000, and headquarters in New York. The United
States of America is organizing its ships and the whole industrial and commercial paraphernalia. It is nothing but a world economic imperialism, of which we are laying the foundations, and this motion is one of the bricks fitting into the Imperial structure that is beingraised for the purpose of the international exploitation of the workers more freely than took place under the old divisions and. groupings of the world.
To-day it is not Germany that is to be our enemy. In a few weeks’ time all sorts of virtues will be discovered in the middle class exploiters of Germany. When the German workers and their Soviets are attempting to follow the example of their working class brethren in Russia, in establishing a free and independent, economic and political organization, there will be no more talk about the “Huns.” All the atrocities of the German militarists and exploiters of the German people will be forgotten, and. all sorts of tales will be issued through the Northcliffe press and its agencies about the atrocities of the Bolsheviks of Germany. We shall find more apologists like Lord Milner, who says, “We do not want Bolshevism in Germany,” and Sir Edward Carson, who has fallen foul of Lord Northcliffe on the same subject; and though it was said to be necessary for the Empire to go to war in order to make the world safe for Democracy, we shall be told that there is too much Democracy in Europe, and that it must not be carried too far, because the poor, ignorant Russians and Germans do not know how to govern themselves. We are told that the German people are responsible for the crimes of their taskmasters - the people who were kept down by the bayonets and rifles of the German autocracy, and who had the choice of being shot in front by the Allies or being stabbed in the back by the bayonets of their own soldiers. And the Australian workers would have been in just the same position if honorable members opposite had had their way, and conscription had been adopted. The German people have had to carry the military legions of the Kaiser; but the Russian revolutionaries sent 10,000 emissaries into Germany and used the ambassador’s presence in Berlin for the purpose of disseminating Bolshevik literature throughout Germany, with the result thatto-day the German autocracy is broken down.
When the Bolshevik revolution broke out in Russia, I prophesied that the ideas of the Bolsheviks would be found more efficacious on the Western Front than would the bayonets of all the Allies, and that prophecy has been realized. To-day not a throne inGermany is occupied ; all are marked “ To Let.” In Austria the same thing’ is occurring, but the only concern of the exploiters in this country is whether they can wring indemnities out of the people who are endeavouring to emancipate themselves. Indemnities and annexations are for honorable members opposite to settle; they do not interest the working class in this or any other country. They in every country have to work to pay the indemnities, which the capitalists will collect and enforce so long as they have the power behind them. Not only in Germany and Austria and Bulgaria are thrones falling to the ground, and the aristocrats being invited to leave, but we read that the Dutch Socialists in Holland are to hold a meeting on Sunday to consider the question of declaring a Soviet Republic in Holland. The Swiss workers, too, are active. To-night’s paper reports -
A general strike has begun everywhere …. There is considerable labour unrest of a revolutionary character throughout Switzerland, and strong hostility is being shown to measures aiming at the preservation of order. The Federal Council announces its intention to call up additional troops, and will resist the revolutionary movement for reforms, which it is prepared to introduce voluntarily.
In Sweden a movement is afoot, for the establishment of a Republic, and a cable message states -
The Independent Socialists in Sweden have issued a manifesto urging the formation of workmen’s, soldiers, and peasants’ councils everywhere, for the purpose of bringing in a Republic a Socialist Government, general demobilization, and an eight-hour day.
The whole world is seething with unrest. We are in the midst of a change in the economic order, and within a few months, or, at the most, a few years, we shall not be concerned with the acquisition of New Guinea or other islands in the Pacific; but honorable members who represent the capitalistic interests will be concerned as to how they will preserve control of those means of government which enable them to exploit the working class of this country.
The history of the development of British institutions is that the authorities have always forestalled revolution by reform, and I hope that will be the experiencein Australia. Just as Australia was spared the horrors incidental to the conscription system, so, too, I hope it will be spared the civil strife and bloodshed that other countries have had to go through in order to find their way to freedom.. I hope that honorable members will be wise in their day and generation, and will not waste time with such trumpery affairs -as the ownership of the captured German Possessions in the Pacific, because they know full well that there is no possibility that they will be returned to Germany. The German Empire, as a military Power, is ended. . The German people are in the ascendant; the working class has control, and the workers in no country, who are out for economic freedom, have any use for colonial Possessions.. They are not out to perpetuate the economic imperialism that necessitates the exploitation of other countries and their populations. Their policy is to take possession of the machinery of wealth production, and to make it impossible to set one people against another.
– The honorable mem ber isfrightening the honorable member for Grampians (Mr. Jowett).
Mr.CONSIDINE. - I have no wish to frighten anybody; but as the honorable member is unusually silent, my remarks must have had some effect upon him. I have a recollection of having read in one of the world’s good books that certain rich men were told that the only way for them to reach salva tion was to get rid of their possessions, and they went away sorrowful, because they had much.
The matters with which I have been dealing demand serious attention, and can not be dismissed by a casual laugh. They reach down into fundamentals. The whole structure of capitalistic society rests upon economic conditions, and all that that means; and we cannot leave economic conditions in this country unchanged while the world is rocking and seething with revolution. If we are to avoid the catastrophies that are occurring in other countries, we must devote our brains and energies to an alteration of the economic conditions in Australia, to giving the workers industrial as well as political Democracy. Instead of the controlled press-
– Will the honorable member addresshimself to the motion before the Chair. He is now dealing with industrial conditions generally.
– I contend that the acquisition of the German islands in the Pacific would detrimentally affect the industrial conditions of Australian workers.
– The honorable member will need to connect his remarks with the motion.
– I was remarking that when the mists of passionand prejudice which have been generated by the European conflict have been dissipated, and the workers of this country can view the position soundly as it affects their interests, they will come to the conclusion that the opinions I am expressing now really represent their “desires, and their best interests. It may be that some time must elapse before reason is allowed to re-assert itself in these matters. The advent of that time will not be accelerated if some of the gentlemen connected with the press have their way. The honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Nicholls) this afternoon quoted an instance of their methods. I have no apologies to offer to the press or anybody else for any attitude I adopt in this House.For any attitude of mine, any expressions of mine, or for any sentiments to which I give utterance or refrain from giving utterance, I am responsible to the people who sent me here; and if my views and actions do not suit them, I have no wish to he here.
– Responsible to a minority of the electors of the Barrier.
– The honorable member again interjects that I am responsible to a minority of the electors of Barrier.
– That has nothing whatever to do with the question before the Chair. The honorable member need not reply to irrelevant interjections.
– By means of the Bill that was recently passed through this House, the constituents of the Barrier will have an opportunity to pass theiropinion on the views I have expressed this evening in regard to the acquisition of the islands in the Pacific, and in regard to any other subject upon which I have expressed myself or have refrained from expressing myself in this House.
.- The honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine) has explained that he has no apologies to offer to any one.. I apologize to him for my silence, which was mainly due to my desire to conform to the rules of the House, but was attributable also to an intense wish to understand what the honorable member meant to convey. I intend to vote for the motion, but I have two regrets in respect to it. One is, that a motion asking that the former German colonies should in no circumstances be restoredto Germany was not carried unanimously months ago; and my second regret is with regard to the wording of the present motion itself.For months there has been an order of the day upon our notice-paper. I have one in my hand at present, dated 12th April, containing the wording of a motion similar to that which was carried unanimously in the Senate, but as to which this House has apparently been too busy to be permitted even to give it consideration. I considerably prefer the wording of the resolution of the Senate to that of the motion which we are now dealing with. If I am in order, I will give honorable members the exact words.
– ‘The honorable member will not be in order in referring to proceedings of the Senate.
– Shall I be in order, then, in reading the language of a motion which I would have brought up for discussion in this House, such motion being to the effect that we should express our unqualified appreciation and approval of a statement made upon the31st January last by the Right Honorable Walter Long, Secretary of State for the Colonies?
– Order ! Is the honorable member quoting a notice of motion from a notice-paper? If he is doing so he will not be in order.
– Then I shall content myself by stating that on 31st January last the Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Long) made a statement to the effect that, under no circumstances, would any of the captured German colonies be returned to Germany.
– May I draw your attention to a point of order; sir? If the honorable member for Grampians may not refer to the motion which has been upon our notice-paper, is not the motion now before the House anticipating the discussion of that other motion? And is this debate in order, therefore, in view of the motion which was given notice of some months ago?
– That has already been decided by a previous Speaker, who has laid it down that one notice of motion cannot act as a block to another, otherwise the whole business of the House could be brought to a stand-still. A motion on the business-paper for a subsequent date does not prevent the Government from dealing with the same question in the form of another motion, or of one which may relate tothe same matter on an earlier date. In any case, the two matters are not identical.
– The slight regret which I have felt with respect to the terms of the present motion is summed up in that its wording confines our resolution to the captured German Possessions which are now occupied by the Australian and New Zealand troops.I would have preferred that the motion should have read -
That the House of Representatives 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 should not, in any circumstances, be restored to Germany; and that in the consideration and determination of proposals affecting the destination of these islands, Australia should be consulted.
I cannot ‘understand why there should have been such a qualification and limitation as there is in ,the terms of the motion. If those words of limitation were inserted accidentally, or without full recognition of their significance, I can only express regret that they should not have been deleted. If they were inserted deliberately, I would prefer personally to dissociate myself from the limitation. In the present circumstances, however,- it is infinitely important that a resolution, should go forth from this Parliament drawing the attention of the Imperial Government and of the Allies to this most important aspect of the future of the whole of the German colonies, so far as Australian sentiment is concerned. I wo,lId., however, have the more heartily voted for such a motion without the limitation.
– They tell me that those islands are a good place for cattle, if not for sheep. ‘
– That interjection reminds me of another aspect of the debate. It has been inferred by speakers opposite, as a slur upon those honorable members supporting the’ motion on this side, that in some way our demand that the former German colonies should’ not be restored to Germany is due to the fact that some people in Australia hope to obtain commercial advantage, or that they desire some further acquisition of territory. I believe that I speak for all honorable members on this side when I say that there is no such thought in the minds of honorable members. “Upon a celebrated occasion in the House of Commons during the Napoleonic Wars, one of England’s greatest patriots and statesmen - the prototype, I am inclined to say. of . Lloyd George -
William Pitt the younger, was asked by one of the leading members of the Opposition (Mr. Tierney) if he could give in a single sentence a reason why England should continue the war against Prance. Pitt replied, “ I can answer, not in a single sentence, but in a single word, and that word is ‘safety’.” And that is our answer to the taunts of the Opposition with respect to. our motives now. The object of this motion can be put into one word, that is safety - safety for Australia, for the British Empire, for civilization against the greatest danger that has ever menaced mankind. As I have listened to the words’ which have flown with such facility from honorable members opposite, I cannot help asking now if they have - ever given consideration to the future of our children and of our children’s children ? If honorable members opposite will try to free their minds of prejudice and bias, and will visualise the future, will they still say that it would be safer for Australia that there should be German- colonies in the Pacific rather than that the Germans should be absolutely out of those islands?
– There is a lot cheaper labour than German; there is Japanese.
– That is an unworthy taunt, and I shall not reply to it. It is for. the safety of the future inhabitants of Australia that we should now demand, as by the blood and sacrifice of our sons we have the right to demand, that none of those former German colonies should ever be restored to Germany.
.- In the excellent good humour which characterizes honorable members for the most part, and, at the same time, in that atmosphere of asperity which is significant in those places where we should least expect it, I desire to address a ‘few words to the House upon this motion. I wish, first, to record the motion, because it is a momentous one - being the first important declaration on the part of this House since the termination of this colossal tragedy of war. It is becoming that the motion, as moved by the Acting Prime Minister (Mr: Watt) should be debated seriously and efficiently rather than that it should be disposed of, as was desired by honorable members on the Ministerial side, in a demonstration of hysteria. The motion reads -
That the House of Representatives 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 these islands Australia should be consulted.
We are asked to speak our minds upon this subject. The Acting Prime Minister said., “ Letus speak our minds freely.” I ask him what mind he is giving to the House and to the country upon this motion. Is it the mind of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) in April last ? Is it the mind which the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) interpreted to the country on the same occasion ? Or is it the more moderate expression of opinion which seems to be involved in the motion as it is now phrased ? When the Acting Prime Minister was speaking this afternoon, I ventured to interject, for at that time interjecting was not so dangerous as it has become in the more volcanic atmosphere that has been created as the night has gone on - that it is notlong since the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) declared that we should hold on to these islands to the last gasp. That was the spirit, if not the wording, of the motion moved by another honorable gentleman in another place. The motion before us to-day is in a milder form, and for a special reason. When the Minister for the Navy took his departure from Victoria, and was pausing for a moment in New South Wales to bid the farewell in the congenial atmosphere of the Millions Club, on the 25 th April last he is reported as having said - and, as be has been reported so frequently as having said it, and has failed to deny it, we may take it that he was correctly reported -
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.
About the same time, the Acting Prime Minister, new to Ms exalted position, re peated almost exactly this language of territorial greed, saying that we almost, . as the price of ourcontinued perseverance in the war, insisted that we should be insured that we should have these territorial additions in the Pacific.
– Give us your opinion.
– I am doing what the honorable member daresnot do - I am giving my opinion. It wag not long before the scene was changed and the tone of honorable members opposite was changed. As soon as these distinguished tourists left Australia to go abroad at this country’s expense in order to misrepresent the Commonwealth in another part of the world, our policy in’ regard to the South Pacific Islands was not that we should cling to them to the last gasp, but, according to the words of the Acting Prime Minister, that they must remain under our control, or under that of some other friendly Power. There was a very decided modification in the tone of these fire-eating politicians of ours as soon as our representatives had come within the influence of Downingstreet, where they received, as we know perfectly well, a polite intimation that they must sing a softer tune in regard to their Imperialistic ambitions.From that day they have sung a softer tune, and the gentler notes of that tune are reported in the words contained in the motion before the House to-day. The Acting Prime Minister says, “ We do not want territory.” If greed of territory, if the vain and foolish and costly ambition of Imperialism is not involved in this motion, how else is it proposed to use the islands to which it refers? I will concedethat there is no other Power which has a greater or better right to occupy the islands of the South Pacific than we have; there is no other Power that is likely to occupy them, unless it be that from which they have been taken. Therefore, it follows that the only middle course is for them to pass under some kind of international control.
– That was tried with Samoa.
– I do not pause to advocate it or repudiate it. I am simply saying that if the Government declare that. these islands shall not revert to Germany they must mean that they shall either he retained under our control or pass to the control of a friendly Power, or else be placed under some international control. I have already said that no other Power has a better claim to them than we have. As to international control, will the Government assert that any scheme of international control or occupation of the Pacific Islands would be satisfying? It would not be satisfying to them. Therefore, this motion can have no other meaning, although they dare not say it in so many words, than that their policy, not at the end of the war, hut at a time when the end of the war seems imminent, is to declare for Imperial territorial gain.
What is our position in regard to these islands and the Allies? Have Ministers forgotten that the Allies have made a very deliberate declaration in regard to colonial claims. If so, I think they have been sufficiently reminded during this debate that such is the case, for clause 5 of the memorable epoch-making fourteen points drawn up by the illustrious President of the great Republic lays it down in the following terms : -
A free, open-minded, and absolutely impartial adjustment of all colonial claims, based upon a strict observance ofthe principle that in determining all such questions of sovereignty, the interests of the populations concerned must have equal weight with the equitable claims of the Government whose title is to be determined.
Are Ministers not aware that No. 5 of these fourteen points, as laid down by President Wilson, has been accepted by the Allies and adopted as the very basis and foundation upon which this peace rests - an absolutely open-minded impartial adjustment of all colonial claims “ ? How, then, do they, in this outpost of the Empire, propose to make a declaration which, if it has any influence at all, may clearly embarrass the Imperial Government, and which is, in fact, out of harmony and inconsistent with this declaration which has been accepted by the Allies ? Clause 5 of the fourteen points cannot be read with this motion. We cannot read into the mind of President Wilson when he penned these clauses, or into the minds of the Allied Govern ments when they adopted them, the declaration that the colonial Possessions of Germany should not be returned to her after the war.
– I think that is a necessary corollary.
– There is a second part to the motion. We are asked to affirm that “ in the consideration and determination of proposals affecting the destination of these islands Australia should be consulted.” It is something new for these gentlemen on the Ministerial bench to contend that Australia should be consulted about things Australian. The argument with which we have been made familiar during the past few months, particularly in connexion with the conscription campaign, is that Australia should be consulted about nothing, and should be subservient to Britain.
– Australia was consulted first.
– Yes ; in spite of the Minister’s friends. Our Prime Minister across the seas, speaking of the party of which I have the honour to be a member, has said, “ They hate Britain. Not all of them, but many of them.”
– I am sure that the honorable member does. That is the opinion I have formed from his attitude in this House.
– Then I call upon you to withdraw your impudent words.
– I ask the Minister to withdraw anything that he has said that may be considered personally offensive to the honorable member.
– I do so, and I ask that the honorable member’s remark about my “impudent words” be withdrawn.
– They were impudent; grossly impudent and offensive.
– I ask the honorable member to withdraw that remark, because it is offensive to the Minister.
– Yes, and I may characterize his words as what they arc. He may not insult me.
– The honorable member must withdraw his remarks without qualification.
– I do so. The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) has said that there are members of this party who hate Britain.
– Is not that obvious?
– I will not call upon this person to withdraw his offensive remark; I will not notice this by-product on my left.
– Will the honorable member address himself to the question, and not follow interjections. I again request honorable members to refrain from interjecting, as interjections lead to disorder.
– If the honorable member alongside me makes many interjections like that which he has just made, the intervention of the Chair to remove himwill not be necessary.
– I have called the House to order, and I ask the honorable member to address himself to the question, and not to reply to disorderly interjections.
– I will deal with him.
– I do not know, Mr. Speaker, whether you heard the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) - departing from his usual, pacifist views - threaten the honorable member for Echuca (Mr. Palmer) ? Was his remark in order?
– It is certainly not in order for one honorable member to threaten another, though perhaps the honorable member for Batman was provoked into retorting by some disorderly interjection which preceded his remark, but which was inaudible to me.
– It was a threat of vio- lence.
– I have directed the attention of honorable members to the fact that interjecting is disorderly, especially after the Speaker has called the House to order, and I notify them now that the next honorable member who interjects in defiance of the warning of the Chair will be named.
– We find in the motion the demand that Australia shall be consulted in regard to the destination of the German colonies in the Pacific. So far as everything affecting the Commonwealth of Australia is concerned, I
Bay that now and in the future she will have to be consulted. . She will have to be consulted upon, amongst other things, the great question of peace or war, and upon any other matter vital to her future well-being. It is essential that she shall be consulted on some things on which she has not been consulted in the past. But. the policy of Ministers has been to consult Australia about nothing, and to abide by the decision of Britain in all things. They have said. “ What is Australia? Where would we be without the might and strength of the British Navy and the British Army?” Scarcely have these words been uttered, scarcely has our Prime Minister ceased from abasing himself in the Old Country before the authorities of Britain-
– I ask the honorable member not to refer to the Prime Minister in those terms, especially in his absence. The words convey a contemptuous reflection upon the right honorable gentleman which I ask the honorable member to withdraw.
– “ Abasing himself?”
– That is an insulting reference to the Prime Minister which I ask the honorable member to withdraw.
– I withdraw it. It is very hard to satisfy you to-night.
– I shall have to ask the honorable member to discontinue his speech if he does not preserve towards the Chair an attitude of greater respect. I shall not permit him to treat the Chair in the flippant manner which he is now using. If he will not proceed on proper lines, I shall ask him to discontinue his remarks.
– It is a curious thing that these gentlemen who have declared so continuously and so loudly for the oneness, the unity of the Empire, have taken the trouble to insert in the motion the declaration that Australia shall be consulted about the division of certain territories with which she has nothing whatever to do, over and above the fact that they are to some extent in proximity to our shores.
– That is everything.
– It is said that these islands are so nearly contiguous to Australia that their occupation - not by an enemy, because nobody supposes there will be any change in their occupation during a time of war, but by a Power with which at some time or other we may have been at war - would be a danger to the Commonwealth. The logical extension of that argument is that, wherever we possess territory we should obtain possession of adjacent or nearly contiguous territory, in order to protect it, and that thus we should run up our flag’ on the various small islands of the Pacific, declaring our right from propinquity to all, even those remotely associated with us geographically, until we have extended round the universe a chain of» power curiously like that described by the notlamented Kaiser as World Power.
One wonders what will he the danger to Australia arising from’ the possession by the German people of islands in the Pacific, if the objects for which this war has been waged are achieved. One of those objects was to make the world safe For Democracy. Now if the world is to be made safe for Democracy, it certainly follows that we must give effect-to another of President Wilson’s fourteen points - the one relating to the reduction of armaments. Good headway has been made in this direction in the case of the Germanic Power. But before that result- .can be achieved, we had to accept the declaration, not only that there would be a reduction of armaments on the part of Germany, but that there would be a reduction of armaments on the part of all civilized Powers involved in this war. That is one of the provisions of the fourteen points laid down by President Wilson. Thus, although we of the Labour movement, and the Internationalist movement, view with intense pleasure the overthrow of German militarism, we recognise that the work which our soldiers have accomplished in that regard will -be largely unfruitful if it be .confined to one country, and does not apply to all the belligerent nations. If, therefore, full effect is to be. given to the points affirmed by President Wilson, it necessarily follows that not only will Germany be rendered harmless as a military Power, but that all the nations affected by the peace terms which are shortly to be adopted, will also be rendered incapable of inflicting misery on the world in the way that militarism has done in the past.
If, then, the world is made safe for Democracy, what matters this resolution, which is based, as the honorable member for Grampians (Mr. Jowett) would have us believe, on .considerations of safety. Suppose - and I do not advocate “ it - that these Pacific islands were to revert to Germany. Is it not perfectly clear that if effect be given to the peace terms, they cannot be used for any aggressive purpose? Words were recently used by a gentleman in Sydney, which deem to me to illuminate some of -the observations made by the honorable member for Grampians and others this evening. A little while ago the retention of what were called the “ Hun “ colonies was discussed by the Sydney Chamber of Commerce, and Mr. R. Teece submitted a motion in that connexion, which was unanimously agreed to. That resolution reads -
That in view of the German possessions in the Pacific having been taken possession qf by Great Britain during the present war, it is in the best interests of the British Empire and the safety of Australia and the Dominion of New Zealand that they should be retained by Great Britain. This resolution to be forwarded to each Chamber of Commerce and other public body throughout the Commonwealth, with the suggestion to approve and confirm.
The attitude of the Government towards this question, towards the Allies, and towards the Imperial, authorities, is illuminated by the words attributed to Mr. Teece when submitting that motion. He said -
He felt humiliated that through the supineness of the British Government the necessity for such a motion had arisen.
It is perfectly evident that this resolution, so far as it can have any effect, will, if adopted, operate as an embarrassment to the British Government. It puts in respectful terms what Mr. Teece expressed in terms lacking respect. It affirms that the British Government have exhibited supineness in this matter. Does it not occur to honorable members opposite that it is rather a paltry thing for us, before the war has. closed, and with the whole of the intricate questions of colonial adjustment about to be considered by the responsible authorities, to put forward our claim for territorial rights in connexion with islands which are contiguous to Australia? I say, further - and this is where the Government exhibit a lack of loyalty - that I am in complete accord with the resolution adopted by the Allies in connexion with colonial adjustments. If any honorable member opposite can describe my statement as a declaration of disloyalty, and can find fault with what President Wilson has said, and the Allies have adopted, it is quite open for him to do so.
– Is the honorable member referring to the statement of the British Government that the German colonies should not be returned?
-I am referring to the fact chat the British Government have deliberately adopted the fourteen points laid clown by President-
Honorable Members. - No, no!
– I am referring to the fact that the British Government have deliberately adopted those fourteen points with modifications.
– They have not.
-I must againask honorable members to refrain from interjecting.
– I say, for the third time, hoping that I will yet be allowed to finish my sentence, that the British Government have deliberately adopted the fourteen points affirmed by President Wilson, with certain minor exceptions, which do not include clause 5 relating to colonial adjustments.
– Mr. Balfour has said exactly the very opposite.
– The Allies have adopted those fourteen points, as the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. McWilliams) knows perfectly well, if he has followed the history of these important negotiations. As those points involve an impartial adjustment of all colonial claims. I am absolutely content to accept them, remembering, as I do, that President Wilson himself declared, at least once, that he believed in doing justice, not only to those to whom we wished to do justice, but also to those to whom we did not wish to do justice. I am willing to adopt a settlement of this colonial question on that basis, but I am not content here and now at a time when peace is being restored to the world to enter upon any kind of boycott that is to continue indefinitely, and to continue even when those who are now our enemies have ceased to be our enemies. That may be five years, ten years, or twenty years hence, but this Government implies that never at any time, although the war is over, and although they do not know what the terms of peace will be, is our attitude to alter. Although the Imperial Government and the Imperial Prime Minister himself has laid down the policy that there must be no such thing as mere useless punitive reprisals, although the Imperial Government is opposed to any of the absurd economic boycotts which were accepted at the Paris Conference largely through the folly of our Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) - although all these things have come to pass - we are pledging ourselves by this resolution at no time to vary our attitude in regard to colonial claims. We are not to be influenced by the fact of what kind of German Government we shall then be dealing with.
– Who can say what kind of German Government there will be in the future?
-I cannot say what kind of Germany we shall then be dealing with, but I know the kind of Germany we have been fighting. We have been fighting a militarist Germany, and we fought her to a stage at which the internationalists of Germany whom honorable members opposite would glory to see imprisoned proved to be one of the most decisive factors in her defeat.
– “ We “ have been fighting!
– My attitude in regard to the war and the control of the islands of the Pacific has never been misunderstood. I have always paid my tribute of respect to those who put on the mantle of militarism and take the risk of wearing it. I have lacked respect only for those who, being of military age, preach the gospel of militarism and wear the . livery of pacifism, sheltering themselves under the uniform of a cult which they profess to despise.
– Who are they?
– Some of the honorable member’s party on the Ministerial bench - the Minister for Recruiting (Mr. Orchard), the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt), the Minister in Charge’ of PriceFixing (Mr. Greene), and the rest of the eligibles who tried to coerce and for some time succeeded in coercing men into taking a part in the war. I am sure that nobody is in a hurry to settle thismomentous question ; but, at the same time, although I propose to have a good deal to say in regard to the adjustment of territorial claims and Imperial questions as they will arise after the war, I think I have sufficiently indicated my view of this motion. I was challenged by the acting Prime Minister to vote against the motion, and I was threatened that if I did so I would be represented outside this Parliament as being a spokesman for Germany and a supporter of German interests. Honorable members opposite have worked that gag for four and a half years. In the early stages of the war they sought, by a policy of publicity in the press and elsewhere, to browbeat the men who differed from them. Later, they found that the censorship was a more useful weapon than publicity, and they employed it. That, however,I hope, will soon be lifted, and, with it, the whole of the War Precautions Regulations and kindred measures.
I leave the matter at this stage. I have shown why I propose to vote against the motion, why I think it will be a useless embarrassment to the British Government, and entirely out of harmony with the declaration of the President of the United States, “whose armies were, as we know, a deciding factor, together with the internationalist movement in the Central Powers - coupled, of course, with the conspicuous valour of our own soldiers - in bringing the war to an end. The motion should not have been moved. It was moved only as part of the hysteria which Conservative Governments are wontto display on occasions such as the present. It would have been much better if we had trusted the Imperial Government, the President of the United States, and the better sense of those who are responsible in this matter, because it is one outside the Commonwealth of Australia. I hope that any matter that is distinctly Australian will in future be determined by the rotes of the Australian Parliament, and will not be left to the decision of any outside Power, however friendly, even though it be the centre of the Empire itself.
– I regard this motion as one of the most important ever brought forward in the history of this Parliament. I confess that I am not altogether in love with the second portion of it. In order to strengthen the hands of those who are working for us in the Old Country, it would be far better for us to say straight out that, in our opinion, New Guinea, at least, should remain portion of Australia’s dominions. It was my privilege to hear some important discussions on the Pacific Islands question by SirSamuel Griffith, and Sir William McGregor at the Federal Convention, and I believe that the most dangerous thing that could happen to Australia would be to have joint control of German New Guinea. Joint control was instituted in Samoa, with the result that Germany and Britain were on the verge of war on two separate occasions. With America and Germany invariably pulling together, Great Britain withdrew from the island in disgust, and allowed them to do as they chose. God forbid that we should have in New Guinea a repetition of what happened under joint control in Samoa. In regard to all these matters that affect the best interests of Australia, it is far better for us to say what we think. What are the nations which would be entitled to joint control in the Pacific, including New Guinea? The only nations that have direct commercial interests in the Pacific are Great Britain, the United States, and Japan.
– What about France?
– France has possessions in the Pacific, but has no important trade interest in that ocean. Great Britain, Japan, and the United States practically have the whole of the commerce of the Pacific, and I say deliberately and solemnly that I do not wish to see the country known as German New Guinea placed under the joint control of those three countries.
– Would the honorable member be satisfied with Dutch control?
– The Dutch already control a considerable portion of New Guinea, but I think it would be in the best interests of that island, and certainly in the best interests of Australia, if the British flag were tofly over that portion of New Guinea which has been won from Germany by our troops, and is now being administered by us.
– What about the nonacquisition of territory?
– I am not frightened by that. bogy. If the acquisition of territory will assist to prevent Australia being involved in future turmoil, and threats of war,’ I am quite prepared to accept it. I do not believe that it would be to the commercial advantage of Australia to take possession of New Guinea. The Lord knows that we have made a big enough bungle with the territories we already control. Bearing in mind our experience with the Northern Territory and Papua, for any one to say that the acquisition of a big slice of New Guinea would be an instance of territorial greed, and a desire to make some profit out of the war, is to ignore our own history.I appreciate very much the difficulties which beset the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) in his desire that the Imperial Government should not ‘be embarrassed by this discussion; but I think that the hands of the Imperial Government would be strengthened if we passed a resolution to the effect that it was in the best interests of Australia that that portion of New Guinea captured from the enemy should be held under the British flag. What is meant by the intimation that Australia should be consulted? It is just one of those indefinite ideas which must always fail. Just imagine what would be the position if, when the Conference sat down to discuss this important matter, some one suddenly reminded the Conference that they had to consult Australia on this subject. Whom should they consult? It is true that we have in England the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), who, I believe, is doing his best in the interests of Australia, and that we have also the High Commissioner to represent our interests there ; but neither of them is nearly so well able to sound the national feelings of Australia in connexion with this matter as the Commonwealth Parliament.
Mr.Considine. - Not now, though.
– This Parliament represents the people of Australia.
Mr.Considine. - On some things.
– I can quite understand that some honorable members should object to majority rule when they are not in the majority; but some one must voice Australian opinion, and what body can so well do this as the National Parliament? I am certain, at all events, that this Parliament has a much greater authority to do this than the Perth Labour Conference. . The members of this Parliament must be regarded as the custodians of the National interests of Australia; and I repeat that, instead of passing a dilettante motion, which expresses the opinion that Australia should be consulted, it would be much better to say straight out just what we mean. If a majority in this Parliament consider it is in the best interests of Australia that the British flag should fly over German New Guinea, let us say so straight out. If an amendment had been moved to this effect I certainly should have supported it, but I do not think we would now succeed in carrying it. I believe that Australia could deal with this problem of German New Guinea much more efficiently than is possible under a joint control as the Prime Minister has suggested. There has been no joint control, in the history of the world, which has been successful or for the benefit of the country concerned. Joint control has always been a source of difficulty and danger, as in the case of Samoa, which, on two separate occasions, brought two of the greatest nations in the world to the verge of war. I think it is my solemn duty to utter a warning that this House would be making a great mistake if it passed any motion which might be construed by the Conference as an expression that we favour a joint control of German New Guinea.
Mr.Laird Smith. - There is no suggestion of joint control.
– I remind the honorable member that a suggestion of joint control has already been made by the Prime Minister in England. About a fortnight ago I asked the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) if the Prime Minister’s statement was made on the authority of the -Government, but I did not receive a very decisive answer. At all events, it was published in the press that the Prime Minister has suggested joint control of. the Pacific Islands, which would include New Guinea.
– Joint Allied control?
– Yes ; but I think it would be a mistake if this Parliament countenanced such a course. Therefore, I regret that the latter part of the motion has not been worded so forcibly as it might have been, although I hone it will be agreed to.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Finlayson) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Webster) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I am reluctant to occupy the time of the House on the motion for adjournment, but, as I rarely do so unless the matter is urgent, I claim the forbearance of honorable members. On Thursday last, I had occasion to ask the following questions of the Attorney-General: - 1.Is it a fact that a member of the Commonwealth Police Force by the name of Wilson has been sent to Bourke to collect information against W. Anderson, an organizer of the Australian Workers Union?
Mr. Groom’s answer was as follows: :
Recently a member of the Commonwealth Police Force was sent to the district of Bourke, and also to Multagoona, to interview Mr. Baird, the manager or owner of that station. Certain information was collected, and I have no doubt a report was furnished to the Attorney-General or the Crown Solicitor. Mr. Anderson, the organizer referred to, is to stand his trial in Sydney on the 14th of this month, and, as a matter of fact, he was tried in a like case in Sydney. It appears that a number of men are not members of the union, and that the organizer took certain steps which are provided for in the constitution of the Australian Workers Union, which is registered under the Arbitration and Conciliation laws of this country. A strike or dislocation of the industry occurred, but it did not last long. Mr. Anderson was prosecuted and found not guilty. Further steps have been taken by the pastoralists to, if possible, impose a penalty or imprisonment upon Mr. Anderson, whose case was to be tried by a jury in Bourke on the 14th instant. The reason I bring the matter up is that hostilities having ceased there is no longer any need for the operation of War Precautions Regulation 213, which was passed last year, dealing with the stoppage of work in wool sheds and such like matters, under which the proposed action is to be taken. I say that Mr. Anderson has already had a sufficient trial, and is standing another trial to-day. The Government can, in the circumstances, very well exercise leniency, and I appeal to the Attorney-General, and ask him whether it is not possible for the Government to cancel whatever orders have been given in this matter. If they persist in going on with the prosecution of Mr. Anderson, it will amount to a persecution. The evidence which has been collected by the special constable has, I believe, been transmitted, and orders have been given for the prosecution, but the Attorney-General can at this late stage exercise leniency a d mercy. I appeal to him tocause an inquiry to be made into the matter. I am sure that he will find that the facts of the case are not such that any further prosecution of Mr. Anderson is necessary. The need for such a. prosecution no longer exists since hostilities have ceased. It will be merciful, and I believe it will be wise - and I do not use the phrase inany threatening sense, becauseI recognise the many things with which the Government have to deal at the present time - if the AttorneyGeneral will decide not to take any further steps in this matter.
.- On the 6th of this month I asked a num-. ber of questions with reference to the greater use of tonnage on the Australian coast. I asked whether the Controller of Shipping some time ago referred to the u n suitableness of the steam-ship Merimbida for the Interstate trade, on the ground of her bunker space being insufficient. The Controller said that he had made a statement that the Merimbula had very small bunker accommodation and a large consumption of coal considering her size, the effect being that if sufficient coal were taken to last a reasonably short Inter-State voyage it would encroach upon her lifting power tosuchan extent that she would be able to carry only a small quantity of cargo and hardly sufficient to warrant her being employed Inter-State. I further asked -
Was the vessel, after public criticism of her idleness, chartered to run fromHobart to Brisbane ?
To this theControllerreplied -
TheMerimbula was subsequently chartered by aSydney firm andrunin theHobart to Brisbane service, ‘calling at Sydney, and as expected, after a few weeks trialshe has proved unsuitable, and has been returned to her owners.
I have since received aletter telling and that this statement is utterly misleading, and that, asa matter of fact, the charterer did notreturn the ship to her owners,hut that she was commandeered by the Controller of Shipping. If that statement be correct, some explanation of the matter is due to the House by the Controller of Shipping. This House cannot ma in tain any con trol of the Public Service if officers of the Serviceare to mislead it. I am sure that the very straightforward Minister in charge of this Department will be one of the first to admit that public officers should give only accurate information in reply to questions asked in this House. I believe the information supplied to me is correct, because i t is supported by what I was told by another honorable member, who is in receipt of the same information from an entirely different quarter. I should like the Minister to make a determined effort to put a stop to this sort of thing. .
Mr.POYNTON (Grey- Assistant Minister for the Navy) [11.17]. - I cannot accept the concluding remarks of the honorable member. From his statement “that I should make a determined effort to put an end to this sort of thing, one would think that the kind of thing of which he complains is continually happening. I have told the honorable member already that I have received a letter similar to that which he has himself received.
– I did not know whether I was permitted to say that, as the honorable gentleman told me it in conversation.
– I said that I submitted a letter to the Controller to obtain his reply to it. I do not wish it to be supposed that the Controller is in the habit-
– I did not say the Controller. I have received several answer’s from the honorable gentleman’s Department which have been misleading.
– Several complaints which have been made in this House, when investigated, havebeen found to be unfounded.
– Certainly not in my case.
– I know of one case brought before the Housebythe honorablemember which was not proved to be as he stated it.
– In one case I broughtbefore the House Iwas able to prove that a veryimportant letter which was supposed to be on the file was missing from the file. Does the Minister call that honest treatment?
– I have given an answer to that statement before.
– The fact remains.
– I had taken steps to investigate this matter long before the honorable member mentioned i£ to me. If he had come to rae in the first place, I would have told him what I did subsequently tell him. I strongly resent this practice of springing matters upon the House instead of going to the Minister interested, and giving him a chance to find out whether there is any foundation for the complaint made. I told the honorable member before he spoke to-night what I had done. I think that should have been sufficient for him, if I am the straightforward Minister he speaks of. But yet the honorable member springs the matter upon me in this way. What I am doing is not being done because of what the honorable member has said here, as I had already instituted an inquiry. As soon as I know the result, I will comply with the request of the man who wrote to me, and if the statement made is incorrect I will mention lt on the floor of the House.
– Ab a matter of personal explanation, I wish to say that one would imagine that I had made use .in this House of information which the Minister had given to me in order to make a request in connexion with a matter with which he is already dealing.
– I never said that.
– I shall not again deal so leniently with the- honorable gentleman.
– My troubles.
– They will be the honorable gentleman’s troubles. I want to put it on record that I had submitted a question to you, sir, on this very matter earlier this evening before T saw the Minister. I told the Minister that I had submitted the . question, and that I intended to refer to it upon the adjournment. And I received no objection on the part of the Minister then. But, apparently thinking that I was cut out from the opportunity “to reply, the Minister.
Bought to take unfair advantage of me.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House Adjourned at 11.20 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 14 November 1918, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1918/19181114_reps_7_86/>.