7th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon.W. Elliot Johnson) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Assent to the following Bills reported : -
Commercial Activities Bill.
Wireless Telegraphy Bill.
The following papers were presented : -
Peace Treaty. - Between the Allied and Associated Powers and Germany, signed at Versailles, 28th June. 1919.
Ordered to be printed.
Customs Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1919, No. 205.
Defence Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1919, Nos. 204, 206, 207, 208.
Entertainments ‘lax Assessment Act- Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1919, No. 211.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired under, at-
Adelaide, South Australia - for Repatriation purposes.
Brisbane, Queensland - for Repatriation purposes.
Port Adelaide, South Australia - For Customs purposes.
Northern Territory - Ordinance of 1919 - No. 10 - Deputy Administrator.
Public Service Act - Promotions - Department of the Treasury -
War Precautions Act - Regulations amended -Statutory Rules 1919, No. 203.
.- I desire, by leave, to move -
That this House approves of the Treaty of Peace between the Allied and Associated Powers and Germany, signed at Versailles on the28th June, 1919.
I wish also to move-
That this House approves the Treatymade at Versailles on the 28th June, 1919, between His Majesty the King and the President of the French Republic, whereby, in case the stipulations relating to the left bank of the Rhine, contained in the Treaty of Peace with Germany, signed at Versailles on the 28th day of June, 1919, by the British Empire, the French Republic, and the United States of America, among other Powers, may not at first provide adequate securityand protection to France, Great Britain agrees to come immediately to her assistance in the event of any unprovoked movement of aggression against her being made by Germany.
I think it would be better for the House to deal with the two motions in the one debate. They can be put separately.
– Can we do that, Mr. Speaker?
– It would be a rather novel and inconvenient procedure to have two motions before the House at the one time, although, if the two relate practically to the same matter, their separate discussion might lead to overlapping and repetition of the same matter. Perhaps the two could be incorporated in one motion divided into two parts.
– Very well, sir. My purpose will he served if I move the first motion, and merely give notice of the second.
– Is it the pleasure of the House that the Prime Minister have leave to move his motion without notice?
Honorablemembers. - Hear, hear!
– Leave is granted.
– I move -
Thatthis House approves of the Treaty of Peace between the Allied and Associated Powers and Germany, signed at Versailles on the 28th June, 1910.
Plunged as I am into an atmosphere with which I am very familiar, yet from which 1 have been absent for many months, I feel that I must preface what I have to say in regard to the motion by expressing my satisfaction at being once more among those with whom. I have been associated so long:
Since I left for England no less than four men who have been members of this House during the period in which most of us have had the honour of representing the people here have died.I refer to Lord Forrest, Sir George Reid, Mr. Manifold, and Mr. Palmer. Their deaths have nome in at least two cases without warning. All were men who did their work manfully, and endeavoured to serve their country to the very best of their ability. I wish to express mydeep regret at their death, and’ to say how much I sympathize with those whom they have left behind.
I find myself to-day confronted with a task which, for many reasons, presents a thousand difficulties. T have laid on the table of the House a copy of the Treaty of Versailles, which is not as other Treaties that have marked the cessation of waT and the making of peace between contesting nations in the days that have gone. It is a- document of monumental importance, the like of which the world has never before seen. It not only makes peace between Germany and the Allied and Associated Powers, but it also reapportions great areas of territory in Europe,. Asia, the Pacific, and Africa.
It is the charter of a new world. We must examine it in that light, if we wish to ascertain whether it is worthy of the ideals for which the Allies fought and the sacrifices which they made to realize them.
It would he quite impossible to present to this House the reasons for the acceptance of this Treaty without a glance at the circumstances which existed at and before our departure from Australia,’ and also of those which immediately preceded the negotiations, long drawn out, of which this Treaty is the result. Before my right honorable colleague (Sir Joseph Cook) and myself left Australia, the fortunes of the Allies had. reached their nadir. Itis no abuse of words to say that their position was almost desperate. How desperate it was, can hardly be realized by those who have lived these five years in a land remote from the faintest echoes of this world-wide strife, and who, sheltered behind the barrier of the valour and heroism of the millions who fought so gloriously for freedom and for those other great ideals upon which civilization rest3, pursued the even tenor of their way, basking in. sunshine, and enjoying indeed a prosperity which was unhappily not shared by the great majority of the peoples of tho world.
A month or so before we left Australia, and at the very time when aRecruiting Conference, called by His Excellency tho Governor-General, was being held at Government House, in this city, the great German offensive was launched against the sorely-tried British front. On the 21st March, 1918, the legions of the enemy, inspired by the hope of speedy victory, a.nd having at their disposal an overwhelming superiority of numbers at that point, hurled themselves against the Fifth Army, which, resisting valiantly, was, after some days, bruised and beaten, and driven back in headlong retreat. It is well-nigh impossible for honorable members to realize to the full . all that the piercing of the Allied line meant, not merely to Europe and to the capital of France, which it directly threatened, but to all the world. Let me try to set out, as well as I can in the poor words that I can summon at this moment, the position as it then was. There is no need for the language of exaggeration. It was a posi- tion full pf SuCk: appalling and imminent dangers that the’ mere recital of them- is enough to- make us all- thank God that
We have escaped them,, and that we are here to-day in this free Australia of ours, established in a citadel over which the flag of liberty flies, and in a country which will ever remain the home of free men, unless by our own cowardice and our own apathy, ‘we admit the enemy within our gates.
Imagine this far-flung line of the Allies, the legions of the enemy having broken through it, the Fifth Army in headlong retreat, and these mighty German legions pressing on, flushed with victory, and confident of success. Imagine the city of Amiens, some SO miles or more distant from Paris, a junction of railways and roads, which commanded practically the. whole of the country between there and Paris, and which ‘ was indeed the gateway of the citadel itself. Imagine the roads and the countryside filled with flying fugitives, with men who had resisted valiantly, but who had at length broken before the weight of overwhelming numbers. And then imagine a handful of Australian soldiers, brought down hurriedly from the north, and launched against this advancing tide of the Huns. A few miles from Amiens, at a. little, village called Villers-Bretonneux, tha German soldiers had reached the ridge which overlooks Amiens and the country for miles around, when- they were met- by the Australians advancing through ike retreating soldiery of the defeated British Army. These men went forward a* confidently then, in the hour of reverse and deadly peril, as they had at any time during, this great war.
It is a fine thing to be able to say of this small- community of 5;000,000 people that at that hour, when every circumstance tended to damp the courage of the most indomitable, her young soldiers went forward and held the German legions, so that not from that day did they advance one yard. The very day on which my colleague and I left these shores was fought the battle which proved to be the turning point of the war on the Western Front. Around- Villers - Bretonneux, along the ridge- in front of Amiens, and among the hamlets scattered in the neighbourhood, was fought and won that great fight- which’ determined our ‘fate and the’ fate of all: free men; and from that day, inch by inch, the legions of the enemy were pressed back and back. The whole of the Australian Army was brought down and placed in position in front of Amiens, and for a time the two lines swayed backwards and forwards; neither side seeming to gain the advantage; but in the end, little, by little, that indomitable will to conquer, that resource and initiative, and that invincible valour, which mark the Australians, overcame all resistance, and backwards, faster and faster, the army of the Huns was forced, until, at the culminating point of the war, the. offensive of 8th August was launched, resulting in the final destruction of the last hopes of victory for the Germans ; and Australians, Canadians, British”, and French pressed onwards, broke the Hindenburg line, and brought victory within our grasp.
At the time my colleague and I left Australia, and, indeed, in the days following our- arrival- in London, it seemed that nothing but a miracle could save the Allies. Certainly, nothing but a miracle could have given us complete and decisive victory, without a long and fearful struggle drawn out over a series of dreadful months or years. No man would have ventured to say that what, was done was possible in the time in which it was done, or in the way in which it was done. A miracle was needed, and lo! a miracle was performed - a miracle of valour, heroism, and sacrifice - and every Australian citizen must surely be proud to know that in this glorious achievement the Army of Australia played a great and noble -part.
Not only on the “Western Front, around Villers-Bretonneux - that glorious name - at Mont St. Quentin or Peronne, or in the piercing, of the Hindenburg line, did the troops of Australia, take a splendid share in achieving victory, but also- in Palestine, where,- perhaps, the greatest victory in the history of all the ages was achieved by the forces under General Allenby, the flower of whose Army was made up of Australian’ soldiers. Where Coeur de Lion’ and Napoleon had failed, Allenby succeeded; and as soldiers of Australia’ in the frozen and sodden trenches of France and Flanders had endured and battled, so did their brothers press forward under the burning sun of Palestine, and across its- deserts, to achieve a great and complete victory. I want to emphasize once more the greatness of the victory in Palestine, in which our soldiers had so large a share. It was, a? it were, the finishing blow that shattered the last hopes of Germany, and snatched from her grasp that Empire of cite . East, which was her cherished ambition through the long ages, and for which she had been plotting to destroy the world. It was not merely a victory like that of the Marne, which, although decisive, left the German Army almost intact; it was a victory that at one fell swoop not only achieved its objective and prevented the onward march of the Turkish Forces, but absolutely annihilated them; so that, where there was an army, lo! in a few days there were but a few straggling fugitives. In the history of . the world there never was a greater victory than that which was achieved in Palestine, and in it, also, as in France, the soldiers of Australia played a great part.
When I ask this Parliament to approve of this Treaty, I have a right, as the spokesman for Australia to speak proudly of what Australia has done through her soldiers, Iter sailors, and all those who have striven, each in their own way, to serve their country in its hour of peril - the women, the nurses of Australia, and those who went out to serve their country, even in the manufacture of munitions, and aid in every possible way in the great conflict which has shaken the world- to its very foundations. There never was, in the history of the world before this war, a record like that ‘ of this young community of 5,000,000 of people. We sent out a greater Army than Great Britain herself had ever sent out before, and we transported it over 12,000 miles of ocean! We maintained five divisions .of fighting men at the front line, men who will stand comparison with the finest and bravest soldiers of any of the Allied and Associated Powers. We need not claim more, distinction than that. It is sufficient, if we are able to say that 02 the land, and on the sea, and in the air, in every theatre of war - in Europe, in Asia, in the Pacific - Australia played her part, and that, in the great victory that has been achieved, Australia has done well, or, rather, her soldiers have done well for her. They have done great things, and have given to all of us freedom and safety. They have assured to us for ever the possibility of realizing all those ideals which we cherish above life itself. Only we ourselves, by being recreant to the cause for which they fought and died, can now destroy this temple of our liberties, the keys of , which they have handed to us stained with their hearts’ blood.
Let me remind you of the nature of this titanic struggle. It was not merely, as were other wars, a struggle of opposing armies, nor even a war between’ nations ; it was a war between clashing ideals, between might and right, between military Autocracy and Democracy, between those who passionately loved liberty and those who sought to lay upon the free peoples of the world a despotic yoke, which would have crushed them utterly and for ever. In such a- struggle, compromise was impossible. There were some who spoke of a compromise Peace. Those men hide their heads to-day, as do some others who gave us even worse counsel in those dark hours, for there have come to us now a liberty and a freedom - not, as they were before, ever menaced by a Power that had vowed our destruction, but liberty, freedom, and safety in a world which has, in will and word, forsworn the sword and resolved to find, for the settlement of disputes between nations, a way more worthy of civilized man than the appeal of war. This safety and liberty, and this new world into which we have entered by the blood and sacrifice of our soldiers, have been given freely to us by those valiant men, nearly 60,000 .of whom will come back to us no more,, and tens of thousands of whom are maimed and mutilated, and can no longer take their place in. the industrial army of Australia.
There, rests upon us all a crushing burden of debt, for, if Australia- has done well; she has paid a great price in blood and in treasure. This was a war against w?ar, and that peace, which all the world, both those who fought and those who urged us not to fight, alike desired, has come to us. -But it has come, not by virtue of those who cried, “ Lord, Lord,” and “ Peace, Peace,” when there was no peace, but by virtue of those who, in the hour of peril and deadly conflict, when our liberties and our national safety were in fearful jeopardy, fought even unto death.
When my colleague and I reached London, summoned as we were, with the representatives of all the self-governing Dominions and India, to gather together with the representatives of Britain, we met in a dark and fateful hour, for, though the tide of the onward rush of the German legions had been stayed, the heavens were black with omens of disaster. We considered the war as it then was, the position varying day by day, we holding our own, every man resolute - I speak of the people of Britain and of France - but with his mind filled with anxiety. I well remember, even after the great offensive had been launched an the 8th August, sitting at the cabinet with the general staff and the representatives of that great Navy to which we and the world owe our safety. I well remember also that we ‘ were considering plans for a 1919 campaign and for a 1920 campaign - considering whether it was possible, by a superhuman effort, to concentrate our resources, hurl them against the enemy, and finish the war in 1919, or whether it would .be necessary to go on. till 1920. The offensive of 8th August swept all the dark clouds from the horizon, - the sun beamed gloriously out, ‘ and we thought no more of war, but of peace.
It is. impossible to understand this Treaty without some preliminary remarks about the Armistice which preceded it. In October the Germans, being then, indeed, in desperate straits, appealed to President Wilson to intervene and use his influence with the Allies to make peace upon the basis of. his fourteen points. ‘ There is no need to remind you of the correspondence which passed between the representatives of Germany and President Wilson. It is sufficient to say that the Germans, having, indeed, no alternative save a worse one, agreed to accept the fourteen points as the basis of peace. This the President communicated’ to the Allies, who met in the Council. Chamber at Versailles on, I .think, 29th- October, to consider the position as- it then stood. Now, because the acceptance by the Allies of President Wilson’s fourteen points as the basis of Peace very . materially affected the subsequent1 negotiations; and, indeed, coloured the whole of the Treaty and the conferences which preceded it, it is proper for me to remind the House, of some of the facts in relation to them.
I shall not burden honorable members with a repetition of those fourteen points ; they are no doubt quite familiar to them all. But up to the end of October, they had not been brought before the Cabinet of Great Britain, or France, or Italy, or any of the combatant nations other than America. The Allies were fighting, for a victorious- Peace - that is to say, a peace which rested upon the lasting foundations of decisive victory, a peace which would be just, not only to Germany, but also to those whom she had assaulted . and foully ill-treated. When President Wilson’s message was received, and the representatives of the Allies met at Versailles, the military situation was such as to leave no doubt -whatever that a victory, complete and overwhelming, was immediately possible to Marshal Foch and the Forces under his command. That great soldier, perhaps one of the very greatest soldiers who has ever lived, had established such a mastery over the Germans that there remained for them no hope, not only of staving off overwhelming and irreparable military defeat, but of preventing their complete annihilation, unless the Allies accepted some basis of peace which should leave them in better case.
Honorable members know that the Allies accepted the fourteen points, and the world was very much astonished to learn, and at first did not believe, that bv the Allied Note, issued from Versailles on the 5th November, there had been settled, not only the terms of the Armistice, but really the terms of the Peace. It was thought that the same procedure would be followed in regard to Germany as had been followed in regard to Austria, Turkey, and Bulgaria - that there would be an unconditional surrender, leaving the Allies free to make what terms of Peace they thought fit. But the representatives of the Allies - and I venture not to censure them at all, for upon them rested a tremendous and awful responsibility - decided to make terms upon the basis of President Wilson’s fourteen points. I have always held that that was an error - of judgment, if you like - for by these fourteen points adopted as the basis of Peace, none of those things for which . Australia had fought was’ guaranteed, Land, as. is. well known to the.. people of Australia, I took the earliest possible opportunity of making a strong and emphatic protest against what had been done.
I wish to make clear to the House what I did, for my attitude, as well as my utterances, have been much misrepresented in Australia. ‘I did not claim that the representatives of the Dominions should have been summoned to Versailles. Nothing was further from our thoughts. The settlement of the terms of the Armistice was a military matter,, with which I was totally unfitted to deal, as, indeed, were all the representatives of the Dominions. But in regard to the terms of Peace, the Dominions had been assured - nay, every one of them had a right to. expect, apart from any assurance - that they would be consulted before those terms were settled.’ We were not Consulted, and, speaking in London on, I think, the day follow-‘ in** the issue of the Allied Note, I said -
We went into tins war to fight for liberty and the rights of small nations. We are a small nation, conscious of our national spirit, and jealous of our rights and liberties. Germany threatened our territorial integrity and our political liberty. We, along with the Allies, have won, after four years of fearful sacrifice, a decisive victory. We have a right to demand a victorious peace. We have a right to demand that in the terms of Peace our territorial integrity shall be guaranteed, that those islands, which are the gateways to our citadel, shall be vested in us, not because we want- territory, -but- because we desire safety. The terms of Peace do not guarantee that this shall be done.
Before the war we had the right to make what laws we pleased. These Peace terms seem to imperil, .or, at best, impair, “that right. We claim the right, and shall insist upon it, to make. what Tariff distinctions we like; and we feel sure that in this demand we shall have, not only the support of the people of Britain, but that of America, that great Republic, the foundations of whose greatness rest upon their War of Independence, waged to establish this very right. And, lastly, wc claim that indemnities shall be exacted from Germany, who plunged the whole world into bloody war.
Victory is ours - complete and overwhelming. We have fought for liberty, .for right, and national safety; yet in the terms of Peace these rights and ideals are not safeguarded. All is vague and uncertain, where it should be clear and definite.’
Australia stands, after four years of dreadful war, her interests not guaranteed, her rights of self-government menaced, and with jio provision made for indemnities. .That is the. position, and it. can hardly -be regarded .as satisfactory.
What Australian will say that I did wrong? Who shall say that Australia,, after having suffered over four and a half years of war, arid .having- made such sacrifices, should not be clearly and freely guaranteed those things -without which she could not live as a free nation ? I did not say that President Wilson’s fourteen points prevented us from getting these -r I said . that they did not guarantee them. They guaranteed to France the>. return of Alsace Lorraine, and to other nations many things. Later I shall show this Bouse and the country how those fourteen points hampered and limited us throughout the Peace negotiations, and how great was the price we and the whole world paid for their adoption. I have always been one of the first to recognise the many and great services rendered by President Wilson to this world, and rendered by America in the war. I am one of those who believe that had America had a chance to express her opinion, she, too, like ourselves, would have been in ‘favour of a victorious Peace, rather than one based om President Wilson’6 fourteen points.
Because this Treaty and this Conference differed from others in that it rested upon the foundations of open covenants, openly arrived- at, I need make no apology for stating clearly to this House and to the people of this country, whom we all serve, some of those things which inother Treaties, ,-are placed in. . secret archives. It is only right that the whole world should know how this Treaty hasbeen arrived at, and what it really means.
I have -said that I thought it proper that Australia should have been consulted, as other belligerents have been, concerningthe terms of -Peace. It may be :sai’d, of course, that the terms of Peace were not based on President Wilson’s fourteenpoints. But the facts speak for themselves. I -shall quote some that will be sufficient. It was abundantly evident to my colleague and to myself,, as well as to the representatives of other Dominions, that Australia must have separate representation at the Peace Conference. Consider the vastness of the Empire, and the diversity of interests represented. Look at it geographically, .industrially, politically, i or- how you -will, and it will -be seen that no one can speak for Australia. but .those who speak as representatives of Australia herself. Great Britain could not, in the very nature of things, speak for us. Britain has very many interests to consider besides, ours, and some of those interests do not always coincide with ours. It was necessary, therefore - and the same applies to other Dominions - that we should be represented. Not as at first suggested, in a British panel, where Ave would take our place in rotation, but with separate representation like other bel:ligerent nations. Separate and direct representation was at length conceded to Australia and to every other selfgoverning Dominion.
By this recognition Australia became a nation, and entered into a family of nations on a footing of equality. We had earned that, or, rather, our soldiers tad earned it for us. In the achievement of victory they had played their part, and no nation had a better right to be represented than Australia. This representa-: tion was vital to us, particularly when we consider that at this world Conference thirty-two nations and over 1,000,000,000 people were directly represented. It was a Conference of representatives of the people of the whole world, excepting only Germany, the other enemy Powers, Russia, and a few minor nations. In this world Conference, the voice of this young community of 5,000,000 people had to make itself heard. In this gathering of men representing nations with diverse and clashing interests, Australia had to press her views, and to endeavour to insist upon their acceptance by other nations. Without such representation that would have been impossible. 1 Let me give honorable members some idea of the Conference, which consisted of more than seventy delegates - about as many as there are honorable members of this Chamber - men of all colours, and from every part of the world. There were representatives, from China, Japan, Liberia, Hayti, Siam, Brazil, America, Britain, India, Roumania Poland, and Greece. There were men speaking diverse tongues, and having ideals as far asunder as. the poles. There were interests which had their origin in thousands of years of tradition, and in race and geographical position. Here was Australia, an outpost Qf the Empire, a great continent peopled ‘by a handful of men, called upon .to defend, amongst other things, a policy which could not be understood, and which was not understood, by those with whom we consorted,. I speak of the policy of a White Australia. Imagine the difficulties of the position, and the clashing of warring interests; for, while the world changes, human, nature remains ever the same. While there was a sincere desire to obtain a, just Peace, each nation’s conception of justice differed. Each nation desired what it considered . necessary for its own salvation, though it might trench on the liberties, rights, or material welfare of others.
The full Conference wa3 too unwieldy a body for the delicate and difficult work of drafting the Treaty, or arriving at agreements upon which it might, be drafted. Therefore, the work was really done by the Council of Ten - that is to say, by the representatives of the five Great Powers, Great Britain, France, the United States of America, Italy, and Japan - by special Commissions of foreign Ministers dealing with territorial claims, and by informal diplomatic conversations and interviews between various delegates seeking to support and promote the welfare of their own countries. Commissions were appointed to deal with dozens of. different matters. My right honorable, friend, the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) was appointed upon the Czecho-Slovak Commission. I do not know whether he will speak to you now in the tongue of the Czecko-Slovaks, but, if so, we shall give him, if not an enthusiastic, at least a cordial reception. I had been chairman of the British Reparation Committee, which held its meetings in London prior to the Conference, and I was vice-chairman of the Allied Commission which met in Paris, and comprised representatives of all the nations chiefly interested in reparation.
The draft Treaty 7ms presented to Germany. on 7th May, 1919, and was. as you know, the subject of many communications between Count von. Brockdorff Rantzau and the Allies. In its modified form it was finally accepted, and signed at Versailles on 2St,h June, 1919. The Treaty is before the House. It is a. document monumental in more- senses, than one. It is not only the charter of a new. world, it not only contains within itself the covenant of the League of Nations, which is to banish .war from the world, and is the foundation upon which the Labour Charter rests, which is to bring to the people of the world some hope of salvation on this earth.; but it is the foundation of many new nations, which our victory freed from the yoke of the foreign oppressor. Poland is now a nation. The Czecho-Slovaks, the Jugo-Slavs, the Arabs, have been recognised, and the charter of their rights is embodied in this document. I do not know whether honorable members have had an opportunity of reading it through; but, if they have, they will find it monumental in another sense, which I need not further allude to than to remark that it was said to be as large as the Pickwick Papers. I , believe it is. I can say that much of it is not nearly as interesting.
Before we deal with those matters which concern Australia more nearly, let us look at this Treaty in which the fruits of victory have been ‘ gathered. Let us look at this charter of the new world, and see whether it is worthy of those great ideals, those principles for which we fought, and for which millions of men died. First of all, how fares Germany under the Treaty? You all know; the whole world knows - except those who blind their eyes to facts - that this Avar was not sprung upon” the world out of the circumstances of a moment. You all know it was the consummation of a deliberate conspiracy that had been hatching in this hell .of Kaiserdom for forty years; that it was the result of the assimilation by the whole German people of those poisonous doctrines with which they had been saturated, and which had led them to believe that might was right ; that they were destined to inherit the whole earth; that they, and they alone, were the anointed of the Lord, and all other nations were degenerate. They believed there was a short and bloody way to greatness. They listened neither to the voice of conscience, nor to the cry for mercy. As I live, I believe that not only did they conspire for forty years to destroy the fabric of Empire upon which we rest, and that freedom which is dearer to us than life itself; but that there was not one detail, of this bloody business that, from begin- ning to end, was not deliberately planned. I believe that not merely the Kaiser, but the Junkers and the whole military autocracy which surrounded him, were guilty of the assassination’s at Sarajevo, the greatest crime in the annals of the whole world.
How fares it, then, with Germany? Is she able again to assault the world ? If she is, we have fought the war in vain, and this document, monumental though it may be, offers us idle words of freedom. When the war broke out, Germany was the greatest nation the world had ever seen, and was able to put into the field armies the like of which no other nation had contemplated. These armies were led by men whose business was war, by men who had devoted their whole lives to this one object. The fabric of Germany’s greatness rested on the foundation of militarism. Where is the German Army today? But a little while ago the thunder of its guns, the tread of its mighty legions, shook the firm earth. Where is that host to-day? All beaten and scattered and thrown to the four corners of the earth. Under the Treaty it is forbidden that Germany shall have an army of more than 100,000 men. But has the Army of Germany gone? Has it been shattered? Has it disappeared? Is it wiped out? Let me put the matter as I see it: It is true that Germany has been defeated as no other nation has been defeated in the history of the world. No other nation ever came toppling down from such a pinnacle of greatness in one fell swoop as did Germany. Only twelve months ago she had the second greatest fleet in the world. It was a fleet built for the destruction of Britain and the British - Navy, without which we could not, nor can we even now, hold this country. Where is the German Navy to-day? Consider, if you will, bow abject must be the humiliation, how powerless must be the position, of a country which, would agree to hand over its- Navy as the Germans did. under the terms of the Armistice imposed by Foch and Beatty. Is there a man of our race with one drop of blood in hi3 veins who could conceive of the British doing such a thing? While there was a sailor able to sail the sea that could not have happened to its.
The Germans have been beaten, humiliated, and utterly crushed. Their Wavy has passed. It does not exist. It has been blotted out as though the sponge of God had been wiped across the slate of circumstance. Their Army, we are told, has been reduced to 200,000, and, as my colleague (Sir Joseph Cook) reminds me, after March, 1920, is to be reduced to 100,000. But while that is so, every German soldier who fought in the war, and was not crippled or killed, is still there. Every officer is there, and the will to war exists. _ I hope that there is no man or woman in Australia so credulous as to listen to the babble that comes from the lips of those in Germany who call themselves Socialists, and who declare that they have cleansed their hearts and purged themselves of all their iniquities, and desire now but to live at peace vith the world. They are still at heart what they always were. There must be a new generation of Germans before we can say that there is a new Germany with a new heart.
-). - The right honorable member’s time has expired.
Extension of time granted.
– Has Germany, despite her will to repeat her crime, the power to do so? Let me put the position more briefly than it is set out in the Treaty. The provinces of Alsace and Lorraine, torn from France in 1871, have been, restored to her. The Saar Valley, containing mineral deposits of great value, goes to France for fifteen years, and thereafter its fate shall be as the inhabitants may by plebiscite decide. The fate of Schleswig-Holstein, the Danish portion of Germany, is to be determined by plebiscite. German Poland goes to the Poles. The whole of Germany’s colonies have been wrested from her. All her ships exceeding 1,600 tons - all her mercantile marine, with which she was attempting, and with which she hoped, not merely to rival, but to outstrip Britain - have been taken from her. She has no merchant ship of more than 1,600 tons. Those vessels of her Navy already handed over have, by her own act, been sunk. Her Army,- as I have said, is to be reduced to 100,000 men. She cannot fortify the west bank of the Rhine, nor the east bank within 50 kilometres of the river. The strategic position under the Treaty is such that all the bridgeheads, all the points of vantage, are now controlled by the Allies. Her guns are surrendered. Her stores of explosives are taken away. Her arsenals are watched. Her Army is scattered. Her spirit is broken. She has the will, the lust, for vengeance, the desire to kill; but, for this generation, at all events, she is impotent. For a time, then, at least, and, we hope, for ever, the world, under the Treaty of Versailles, will be safe from new aggression by Germany. .
But there are other guarantees for the world’s peace. One of these is the League of Nations. The League of Nations, to which’ all those’ who signed this Treaty set their seal, a.nd which, by acceptance of thi3 Treaty, you adopt, is a League .of free, nations, which bind themselves together to preserve the peace of the world, and to substitute for war, as a means for the settlement of international disputes, ‘saner and more civilized methods. The League of Nations doe3 not attempt to govern the world. It attempts, rather. to set up the machinery by which civilized men, if they will act as Christianity and common sense dictate, may avoid war. It lights the way to a better road.; It does not make that road, nor does it carry us along it. We must walk. But if the whole of the nations of the earth are really desirous to co-operate in this great work, then the League df Nations is truly a charter of liberty - a charter of civilization - of not less value to the world than was Magna Charta to the nien of our race; not less great than the setting. up of the rule of law for the rule of force among our own ancestors in the old days of tribal struggle and barbaric strife.
The League of Nations comprises at the outset some thirty-two nations, including the Dominions of the British Empire and India, and we have signed the covenant as separate nations. We have separate representation on the League of Nations. The constitution of the League consists of an Assembly to which each nation is entitled to send so many representatives, and of a- Council that is limited to the representatives’ of the five great Powers, together with the representatives of four small Powers who. are elected- by the Assembly to sit upon it. The Council will hear, if I may use an analogy, the same relation to the Assembly as the Government or Executive .Council bears to an Assembly either in our religious or political .organizations. Then there is to be created an international tribunal, upon which eminent jurists of the world will sit for the purpose of trying disputes that *nay be brought before them.
It would be impossible for me within the time at my disposal to traverse such a great question as this in all its details. I can only say .that the League of Nations may be regarded, as the foundation of the new temple of civilization. It is for the World to erect on that foundation an edifice worthy of the ideals for which the Allies have fought, and of the sacrifices by which those ideals were maintained. If the world should take another road; if it should seek, as men have sought from the very beginning, to .settle their quarrels, by the sword, the League of Nations will prove to be but a house of cards - a glorified Hague tribunal. But perhaps - indeed I fervently hope so - the world has grown wi.ser as the result of the spectacle pf horrid and bloody slaughter which we have witnessed during the past five years. Perhaps it has now taken to heart the great lesson that those who fight with the sword shall perish by the sword, that civilization cannot permit force to rule the world, and that right iii u st prevail, cost what it may. So these nations are leagued together in order to preserve right, and to settle their differences by the sober light of reason rather than by an appeal to the sword.
Not all causes can be submitted to this tribunal. Matters which are solely within the domestic jurisdiction of a nation are not proper subjects for inquiry by the League. To that I take no exception, save, of course, to point out that somebody must determine what the term “domestic” means. Other matters - and this was inserted at the instance of the President of the United States himself - such as regional understandings like the Monroe doctrine, are not fit subjects to be submitted tq this tribunal’. Now, the Monroe doctrine was originally put forward by President Monroe in the days which are gone, and shortly lays down that no European Power oan meddle in any matter affecting either of the two American continents, North or South. If we consider how far that doctrine goes, and remember that when it was put forward America had perhaps less than half its present population, we shall see a very striking analogy to the position which we ourselves take, up in regard to the Pacific. For we must recollect that the Americashave not yet begun to be filled up. In. Brazil alone there is room for 100,000,000- people. The whole of the South American continent is covered by the Monroe* doctrine. But, of course, that doctrine is .one-sided. It does not say that America must not meddle with affairs in Europe, but merely that Europe must not meddle with affairs in America. Farther, the Monroe doctrinerests upon no foundation of international law that I know of. I have never heard of any authority upon international law venturing an opinion to the contrary. It rests entirely upon the declaration of a President of the United States of America. Therefore, it is proper that a like doctrine should be promulgated on behalf of Australia. I say - and this surely is a matter far outside of party politics - that, so far as the Pacific is concerned, at least within the area and sphere pf our influence, it, too, is covered by a doctrine .that it is for us to settle, and for nobody else. It is’ as well to mak& that point clear, at the outset. While the Monroe doctrine exempts the wholeof the two Americas from the jurisdiction of the League of Nations, we will not allow anything relating to our sphere in the Pacific to be regarded as a proper subject for submission to that tribunal.
The League of Nations will not govern, but will merely recommend and advise. It does not limit the world’s armaments j but it is to formulate plains for reduction of armaments as a recommendation to be considered by the various nations. Any scale of armaments which a nation then; agrees to adopt and stand by cannot beexceeded without the concurrence of the Council. In that way, and step by step, which, after all, is the only certain way of progress, the world may come out of this welter of war and eternal conflict, into the bright clear day of peace. That is another safeguard against Germany attacking the world. Germany is not a member of the League of Nations, nor will’ it be admitted as a member until it has shown by its deeds that it has repented, and is willing” to carry out the provisions of this Treaty.
There is still another guarantee, which, in my opinion, is very necessary. Time Joes not permit me to paint a picture of France as it is to-day ; but it is impossible to exaggerate the horrors of war as it has passed over that country. No picture of the conditions as they exist there to-day could be too pathetic or too awful. France, which has been a battlefield for a thousand years, has had slain in this war 1,500,000 of the flower of its manhood, to say nothing of those who have been disabled. Its fairest provinces have been torn out of recognition. Its factories have been smashed - deliberately smashed- and pillaged by those bandits who were France’s commercial competitors, in order to prevent it from again entering the commercial sphere on a footing of fair equality with them. ‘ France, bleeding from a hundred wounds, indeed, bled nearly white, and oppressed with a frightful burden of debt, has said; “ Yes, it is well for you who live far off to speak of the League of Nations, or speak of the changed heart of Germany, but for us it is a very different matter. We require some guarantee, something like the Cross of Christ or the Hoek of Ages, some lighthouse in the darkness, something that will guard and guide us, and never fail us.” And so Great Britain and America have signed separate Treaties with France, by which they have bound themselves to go to the assistance of France in the event of an unprovoked attack by Germany. We in Australia are not bound by the terms, of that Treaty unless we ratify it. I ask this Parliament to ratify it.
Briefly put, the position is this : The Treat)7 has removed the menace of war from the world by inflicting on the greatest military Power the world has seen a blow which has shattered its greatness, and humbled it to the dust’. Its Navy is at the bottom of the ocean; its mercantile greatness on the seas has been dragged from it, and its mighty legions have been scattered to the four winds of Heaven. Upon it there rests a heavy burden of war debt, its own and part of that of the Allies. The League of Nations is arrayed against it, and finally, if ever again Germany, taking courage, and spurred by the lust of revenge, should strike aat France, then France, America,
Great Britain, and I hope also the whole of the British Empire, are ready to prevent her from doing so. For the time being the world is safe, and we may wipe war from our minds, and turn to the consideration of the problems of peace.
Let me come directly to the position of Australia. What have we got out of the war? I have endeavoured, although i* was not necessary - because honorable members knew for themselves - to show what Australia has done in the war. We went into this conflict for our own national safety, in order to insure our national integrity, which was in dire peril, to safeguard our liberties, and those free institutions of government which, whatever may be our political opinions, are essential to our national life, and to maintain those ideals which we have nailed to the very topmost of our flagpole - White Australia, and those other aspirations of this young Democracy. We asked for these thing3. Australia kas incurred a huge burden of debt through no fault of her own, for we were guiltless of the shedding of blood in this campaign ; we did not provoke the war - whoever is guilty we were not. In regard to this huge’ burden of debt of £350,000,000 under which this young community must stagger, i; was right that we should also demand that Germany should pay for what the war has cost Australia.
Now, what have we got? In speaking on this point, let me first refer to our national safety. In order that Australia shall be safe, it is necessary that the great rampart of islands stretching around the north-east of Australia should be held by us or by some Power in whom we have absolute confidence. When the Armistice terms were decided on the 5th November, I protested because our national safety was not guaranteed, inasmuch as there was no assurance that the possession- of these islands would be vested in us, and afterwards, when we went to the Conference, we sought to impress on thi; Council of Ten the position as we saw it, and fought for this guarantee of our national safety. One of the most striking features of the Conference* was the appalling ignorance of every nation as to the affairs of every other nation, its geographical, racial, and historical conditions or traditions. _ It was difficult to make .’the Council of ‘ Ten realize how utterly the safety of Australia depended upon the possession of these islands. Perhaps there are very few Australians who realize that New Guinea is greater in size than Cuba, the Philippines, and Japan, except Sakhalin, all rolled into one,’ that it is only 80 miles from our northern shore, and that those who hold it hold us. Recollect that our coast line is so vast that to circumnavigate Australia is a voyage as great as from here to England, and no 5,000,000 people can possibly hold this continent when, 80 miles off, there is a potential enemy.. Well stretched out from New Guinea there are New Ireland and New Britain. There are literally hundreds of other islands stretching out and out, every one of them a point of vantage from which Australia could be attacked. The possession of those islands was necessary, therefore, for our safety. We sought to obtain direct control of them, but President Wilson’s fourteen points forbade it; and, after a long fight, the principle of the mandate was accepted. Then the nature of the contest changed, and, since the mandate principle was forced upon us, we’ had to see that the form of the mandate was consistent, not only with our national safety, but with our economic, industrial, and general welfare. »
Two principles arose here, to which I may direct attention. One was the open door. It was sought to couple this mandate with the condition of an open door for men and for goods. It is undesirable, for many reasons, to dwell very long on that point; but I ask my fellow citizens throughout Australia to realize what an ©pen door ‘for men and goods into thoseislands would mean. Our control of trade and navigation would be gone, and within 80 miles- of us there could come pouring in those who, when the hour should strike, could pounce on us on the mainland. We fought against the open door’, and the mandate was ‘ at length obtained in the form in which it now stands, which substantially is this : We have the same rights to make laws over the islands as over the mainland; indeed, the Commonwealth has wider powers there to make laws, because its jurisdiction on the mainland is limited. As a matter, of actual fact, we may make over the islands exactly the same kind of laws as a State could make before Federa- tion in Australia, subject only to’ five reservations. There can be no sale of firearms to the natives; we cannot raise native armies except for the mere defence of that territory; we cannot sell alcohol to the natives ; we cannot raise fortifications; and there cannot be any slave trade. Those, of course, were conditions so entirely acceptable to us that they were not limitations at all on the sovereign power which was necessary for our salvation. That mandate is now embodied in the covenant. It has been. definitely bestowed upon us, but the document which officially makes us the mandatory, with the actual terms of the mandate, have not yet been approved by the Council of Five; but that is a foregone matter, and I am authorized to say that the terms are as I have stated them. Our national safety, therefore, is assured, as far as 5,000,000 people can assure it.
The next point we had to deal with was the White Australia policy. Honorable members who have travelled in the East or in Europe will be able to understand with what difficulty this world ‘ assemblage of men, gathered from all the corners of the earth - men representing 400,000,000 Chinese, men representing Japan, men -representing India, Siam, Hay ti, and Liberia; men representing partially coloured populations - were able to appreciate this ideal of those 5,000,000 people who had dared to say, not only that this great continent was theirs, but that none should enter in except such as they chose. I venture to say, therefore, that perhaps the greatest thing which we have achieved, under such circumstances and in such an assemblage, is the policy of a White Australia. On this matter I know that I speak for most, if not all, of the people of Australia. There are some at the two extreme poles of political opinion who do not hold those views, but their numbers, thank God! are quite insignificant, and their influence, I hope, even less important. I am, perhaps, taking -up too much of the time of honorable members, but I feel it due to the House, a.nd, indeed, to myself, that they should know the position as I know it, in order that they may judge this Treaty and judge me and my colleague, who come here to give an account of our stewardship, and because also, after all, this is the foundation of all that Australia stands for. Remember that this is the only community in the Empire, if not, indeed, in the world, where there is so little admixture of race. Do you realize that, if you go in England from one county to another, men speak with a different accent j that if you go a few miles men speak with a different tongue; that if you go from one part of Prance to another, men can hardly understand one another? Yet you can go from Perth to Sydney, and from Hobart to Cape York, and find men speaking the same tongue, with the same accent. Place on that bench men from Alice Springs, Cape York, Hobart, and Adelaide, and you cannot distinguish them in speech, form, or feature. We are all of the same race, and speak the same tongue in the same way. That cannot be said of any other Dominion in the Empire, except New Zealand, where, after all, it can be said only with reservations, because that country has a large population of Maoris. We are more British than the people of Great Britain, and we hold firmly to the great principle of the White Australia, because we know what we know. We have these liberties, and we believe in our race and in ourselves, and in our capacity to achieve our great destiny, which is to hold this vast continent in trust for those of our race who come after us, and who stand with us in the battle of freedom. The White Australia is yours. You may do with it what you please; but, at any rate, the soldiers have achieved the victory, and my colleague and I have brought that great principle back to you from the Conference. Here it is, at least as safe as it was on the day when it was first adopted by this Parliament.
I desire to indicate to the House some of the difficulties which confronted us in our struggle. The Japanese delegation, moved an amendment to the Covenant of the League of Nations as follows: -
The equality of nations being a basic principle of the League of Nations, the high contracting parties agree to accord as soon as possible to all alien nationals of States members of the League, equal and - just treatment in every respect, making no distinction, either in law or in fact, on account of their race or nationality.
I think I am entitled to tell the House something of the story of the struggle for the White Australia. That amendment was put forward in a dozen different ways. It was modified again and again. It came now directly from the quarter I have mentioned, and again indirectly from other quarters. Pressure was brought in this and in that direction. One modification suggested was that it should only apply to alien national’s resident in this country. I said then, an.i I knew I spoke for Australia, that no matter how much the amendment was altered, no matter what words were used, I would not accept it.
It was quite within the competence of the Japanese delegation to make this proposal, and, as I told Baron Makino, I understood their position perfectly. So far from censuring him, I did not even criticise him. I met him plainly, telling him my position, from which I never receded. Others encouraged him and then left him. I made clear to him my attitude, and I never altered it. Now, after we have fought for the principle of a White Australia - and I hope we always shall fight, for it - I think it only right, in order that all misunderstandings may be cleared up, and our friends and Allies may not misconceive our position, to repeat what I said to Baron Makino and to the agents of the Japanese press. Baron Makino said that the Japanese were a proud people, . and had fought by our side in this war. They regarded it as intolerable that they should not be treated as the equals of us and other races. ‘ I replied that I would be one of the first to recognise them as our equals. I hoped - and I hope so still - that they would always remain our friends and Allies. I recognised’ to the full what they have done in the war. No one had a greater admiration than myself for the habits of industry and’ perseverance x of the Japanese race. Australia was bounded by the same ocean’ and hemmed about by the same conditions as was Japan. “ But,” I added, “ the history of your people has its roots in far different soil. I hope they will always be our friends and Allies. But in ordinary everyday life, men do not invite all their friends into their houses, nor even when they invite them into their bouses do they make them permanent residents therein.” Because I do not invito every man in this Parliament into my house, it cannot be said that I do not regard him as my equal. I may select whorn I please to enter my house; that has always been regarded as the right of every free man. We are not, therefore, to be regarded as unfriendly to Japan, or as looking down upon the Japanese people when we say, “ Your ideals, your institutions, your standards, are not ours. do not say that ours are greater or better than yours; we only say they are different. Our paths lie in different directions. Our destiny beckons us, and we must tread the road along which we are led by the impulses and instincts which come from our history and our race.” That is the position of Australia towards Japan. We hope that not only with Japan, but with all nations, we shall remain for ever on terms of the most perfect friendship. “We claim the right, however, to say in regard to Australia who shall enter and who shall not. This is our house. To keep it ours, our soldiers have sacrificed their blood, and they have placed the keys in our hands. The war was waged for liberty. “We had this right before the war, and we claim to retain it now.
I pass on to the question of reparation. I was Chairman of the British Reparation Committee, and Vice- Chairman of the Allied Reparation Commission. On the British Reparation Committee I had the privilege of being associated with men who had great experience in the financial world. I found that Germany, to put it mildly, had many friends in England. Of course, I do notmean to be understood in any other sense than that they seemed very anxious to lighten the burden to be imposed on Germany’s shoulders. I took the view then, and I take it now, that Germany should’ be treated as any other offender against the law, whether it be the law of nations or the law of a country. The German people have committed an offence, nay, a crime, the most bloody and desperate the world has ever known, and they must pay. the penalty. They have inflicted upon England a crushing burden ef’debt of £6,500,000,000. They have slain 600,000 of her men, and sunk to the bottom of the sea 7,000,000 tons of her shipping. They have destroyedFrance - I was going to say body and soul, but they cannot kill the soul of France.
Honorablemembers. - Hear., hear!
– I always took the view, therefore, that Germany should pay. She had wrought this havoc, and it was for us to present the bill : “ This is the damage you have done, and, so far as it can be measured in money, this is what you have to pay.” It was for her, then, to establish, before a proper tribunal, how far her capacity to pay fell short of her obligations. But others did not take that view. The British Reparation Committee, of which I had the honour to be Chairman, brought in a report which was submitted to the British Government, the details of which I am not permitted to communicate further than to say that it was based upon the lines I have just now stated.
The Separation Commission, when it met in Paris, proceeded to consider this matter, and the American delegation took the view - a view, mark you, that I had foreshadowed on 7th November, 1918 - that by the acceptance of President “Wilson’s fourteen points, the Allies had renounced all claim for the general cost of the war, and could ask for no more than compensation for damages to persons and property of civilians, and damage caused by special acts and outrages contrary to international law. I quote the words of Mr. Dulles, the American legal representative on the Commission. He said -
Why have we proposed reparation in a certain limited sense only? It is because we do not regard ourselves as free. We are not here to consider as a novel proposal what reparation the enemy should, in justice, pay. We have not before us a blank page, upon which we are free to write what we will. We have before us a page, it is true, but a page filled in with handwriting, and bearing the signatures of Mr. Wilson, Mr. Orlando, Mr. Clemenceau, and Mr. Lloyd George.
That, I think, speaks for itself. In that view the American delegation continued through the long-drawn-out labours of the Reparation Commission. To the end they persisted in excluding the cost of the war. Ultimately the Reparation Commission made its report, with a comprehensivereservation by the American delegation.
The Council of Four, as it was then, did not accept the Reparation Commission’s report; but itself drew up a scheme, which is embodied in the Peace Treaty. In Article 232 of that document it is shortly set out that Germany is not asked to pay anything beyond civilian reparation exceptingfor damages in categories setout in Annex I., and in that annex the general costs of the war are omitted.
Before I come to the details, so far as -they affect the Commonwealth of Australia, let me point out what our position was. Our claim was for £464,000,000. “That is made up of £364,000,000 actual war expenditure! and £100,000,000, being 4he capitalized value of pensions, repatriation, and loss to civilians and civilian, property, and so on, incidental to the war. At one stroke £364,000,000 of that amount was struck out. The total cost of the war to Great Britain was £6,500,000,000, and, with the exception of the comparatively small part which represents the capitalized value of pensions and repayment for property damaged, including shi,ps lost - which, although comprising 7,000,000 tons, did not amount -to more than £300,000,000- that whole amount is wiped out.
Honorable members will, therefore, see -ihat it was a very serious thing for Great Britain, and for Australia, that President “Wilson’s fourteen points should be acccepted, 1 and the costs of the war excluded from the amount of reparation demanded. Once I was asked in France, but not by a Frenchman, “ What would happen, if you insisted upon Germany paying this huge debt, to a German family of five? Would you reduce them to slavery?” I said, “ I am not here to safeguard the interests of a German family of five; I am here to safeguard the interests of an Australian or British family of five. If it bornes to a question whether my countrymen shall be reduced to slavery or those of Germany, I shall not hesitate. They are blood-guilty, and we are innocent. The crime is theirs, and they must pay.”
The position of Australia, then, is that our claim is cut down from £464,000,000 -to £100,000,000, or thereabouts. I am stating the amounts from memory, and would not have honorable members, and certainly not the members of the Reparation Commission, regard these amounts ais more than mere estimates.
The practical effect of the acceptance -of that basis of reparation, which was insisted upon by the Americans, and accepted by the Council of Four, is that, of -the great burden of debt - the greatest that ever fell upon the shoulders of £,000,000 people in the history of this world - four-fifths will have to be borne by us in any case. We cannot hope to get relief to the extent of more than £100,000,000.
I come now to the details. Under clause 235, it is provided that up to the end of April, 1921, the Germans shall pay 20,000,000,000’ gold marks, which means £1,000,000,000 sterling. Honorable members, and the Australian people, will be much interested to know what share they are going to have of that sum. From this £1,000,000,000 there are very important ‘deductions to be made. In the first place, the cost of the Army of occupation has to be deducted from it: secondly, the cost of food and raw materials to Germany is to be deducted from it; and, thirdly, the sum of £100,000,000, paid to Belgium, is to be deducted from it. There may be other deductions : I do. not know. But I think we shall do well not to expect that there will be available for distribution to all the belligerents, under all the categories in Annex I., anything more than, say, about £800,000,000. If I am asked how much we shall get of that, I tell honorable members, candidly, I do not know. Once one has eliminated the cost of the war, and has allowed compensation for damage actually done to physical property - to houses, buildings generally, fields, and so on - one disturbs, completely, the equilibrium. Britain, which has spent far more on the war, say, than France, finds at least £5,000,000,000 of her claim struck off. France, on the other hand, which has suffered in civilian damage incomparably more than England, receives this amount for restoration, for re-building. I am not complaining of that. I am only stating the facts ; so that what will be available for Britain, I do not know. But, of what is available for Britain, we shall get our share. Probably - or possibly - we may receive, between now and the end of April, 1921, anything from £5,000,000 to £8,000,000. I say, we may. How much we shall get afterwards, I do not know. The rest of the payment is spread over a period of thirty years. How much Germany will pay, I do not know; for’ although the categories of- damage have been set out. there is no reliable estimate yet of the amounts claimable under those categories; and the Germans were given four months from .the signing of this Treaty in which to challenge any particular item. It is, therefore, impossible to say what is the total amount of reparation Germany will pay.
There is one point of which my colleague (Sir Joseph Cook) reminds me.. It is this: Curiously enough, the calculations regarding the power of Germany to pay - as made by various parties, some English, some of other nationalities - were grossly below what I thought was fair and possible. One must await the verdict of the years that are to come. But I think time will show that Germany could have paid very much more than the Allies are asking her to pay. ForI say this emphatically : of all the nations who enter into this new war, this commercial war, this war of life and death for all the peoples of the earth, Germany is the best equipped, even now. She is the best organized nation in the world. Her factories are intact; those of France are ruined. It is true that she has a heavy burden of debt, but her people are amongst the most industrious in the world, and they lend themselves, by their very nature, to regimentation, to organization, better than do our people, or, perhaps, the people of any other race. The value of money has gone down, and the value of goods has gone up. The sovereign to-day is worth very much less than it was five years ago; and if, for example, Germany had a surplus of £500,000,000 a year in 1914, and if the sovereign has depreciated so that its value to-day is only - let me say, for the sake of argument- 10s., then it is clear that for the same output of goods Germany can produce the equivalent of twice that amount of money. And it is in terms of money that Germany’s obligations are reckoned.
Again, let us consider what this past five years of war have revealed to us. There are almost no limits to the possibilities of increased productivity of labour. In Great Britain a daily miracle has been performed. Labour has turned out, under organized and up-to-date methods, many more times the amount of wealth than before the war. This process is going on; and the world will be forced into better methods.. Therefore, I think it will be found that Germany could have paid more than she will pay. One interesting commentary upon it all is this : One of the witnesses examined before the Committee over which I had the honour to preside in London, expressed the view that at the most Germany could not pay more than £1,500,000,000. Seeing that my own view was that she could pay about twenty times that amount I was naturally a little incredulous. But the best commentary upon that evidence is the offer of Count von Brockdorff Rantzau; he actually offered to pay £5,000,000,000. under certain circumstances.
I leave this branch of the subject with one partingobservation. If this peace be unjust, it is not unjust to Germany. It is very unjust to those free people who had to fight a battle of life and death for their very existence. It is unjust to those who have been burdened with an undue standard of living, to those thousands of millions of people who did not cause or provoke the war, and who did all they could to avoid it. We had to enter the conflict or perish. To ask us to pay, and call that justice, would be to abuse the word. This Peace, whatever may be said, is not a harsh Peace to Germany, andit is not a just Peace to us.
It is impossible for me, in the time at my disposal, to deal fully with every part, and every aspect of this great document, but I have endeavoured to give a cleargeneral outline of its main features, especially as they affect Australia.
Before concluding, I must briefly referto the Labour Charter which will be found in Part XIII. of the Treaty.. We have built on the foundation of the Peace Treaty a Charter of Labour for the people of the world. We have made an honest endeavour, as far as was possible, consistently with the sovereign rights of each individual country, to create conditions in every country whereby the standard of living will beraised, and the conditions of labour generally improved. An effort has been made to regulate the employment of women, to prevent the employment of children, and to conserve the health of the people. The International Labour Organization established by the Treaty will enable Labour to be articulate and find expression, so that its needs throughout the world may besatisfied and its just rights accorded to it.
Of course, for us in Australia the Labour Charter does not mean so much as it does to other nations less happily situated. It is always the privilege of those who have fought the battle, and have- at any rate escaped the deep abyss, to help their less fortunatebr others. I am sure everyone in Australia rejoices in the fact that we are entitled to separate representation on the International Conference of Labour, the first meeting of which is to be held at Washington on the 24th October of this year, when we hope that representatives of Australia will be able to be present.
In conclusion, I have taken you over this vast panorama of events and circumstances leading up to the war. I have dealt with the guilt of Germany, the peril in which we stood, the valour oi those who led us out of deadly danger into the haven of peace and victory. I have told you the story of the signing of the Armistice, the holding of the Peace Congress, and the representation, at a world’s gathering at which a thousand million people were represented, of Australia with her 5,000,000 of people, who were fighting for ideals which none can appreciate save we ourselves. Victory has come and peace. Is the peace worthy of the victory ? Is the Treaty worthy of the sacrifice made to achieve it? I shall not measure, or attempt to measure, that sacrifice by money. I put that aside. The sacrifice is to be counted in the lives of our bravest and best, who died that we might live. Thousands of them lie buried in foreign soil. Over their graves there is no monument, but their names will live for ever.
Australia has the right tobe proud of the heroism of her soldiers and sailors in the great war - for her sailors, as well as her soldiers, have fought valiantly. Australia’s contribution on sea to the might of a glorious Fleet was magnificent, and the fight which destroyed the Emden will, live for ever in story.
Whathas been won? If the fruits of victory are to he measured by national safety and liberty, and the high ideals for which these boys died, the sacrifice has not been in vain. They died for the safety of Australia. Australia is safe. They died for liberty, and libertv is now assured to us and to all men. They have made for themselves and their country a. name that will not die.
Looking back, through the vista of years of trial, tribulation, and turmoil, into that Valley of the Shadow of Death into which we and all the free peoples of the earth were plunged, we may now lift up our voices, and thank God that, through their sacrifice, we have been brought safely into the green pastures of peace.
We turn now from war to peace. We live in a new world: a. world bled white by the cruel wounds of war. Victory is ours, but the price of victory is heavy. The whole earth has been shaken to its very core. Upon the foundations of victory we would build the new temple of our choice.
Industrially, socially, politically, we cannot, any more than other nations, escape the consequences of the war. The whole world lies bleeding and exhausted from the frightful struggle. There is no way of salvation, save by the gospel of work. Those who endeavour to set class against class, or to destroy wealth, are counsellors of destruction. There is hope for this free Australia of ours only if we put aside our differences, strive to emulate the deeds of those who by their valour and sacrifice have given us liberty and safety, and resolve to be worthy of them and the cause for which they fought.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Tudor) adjourned.
– I now move the other motion, of which I gave notice -
That this House approves the Treaty made at Versailles on tho 28th June, 1919, between His Majesty the King and the President of the french . Republic, whereby, in case the stipulating relating to the left bank of theRhine, contained in the Treaty of Peace with Germany, signed at Versailles on the 28th day of June, 1919, by the British Empire, the FrenchRepublic, and the United States of America, among other Powers, may not at first provide adequate security and protection to France, Great Britain agrees to come immediately to her assistance in tho event of any unprovoked movement of aggression against her being made by Germany.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Tudor) adjourned.
– I move -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until 11 o’clock to-morrow morning.
There is an interesting function tomorrow evening in another part of the building, and it is the general desire of the House, I understand, to do a day’s wenk before we adjourn. . In order to do that we propose to meet at 11 o’clock in the morning.
.- The carrying of the motion will cause honorable members on this side of the House a great deal of inconvenience. Honorable members opposite have held their party meeting, and it was our intention to hold ours to-morrow morning, in order to consider matters arising out of the speech made by the right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes). If the motion is carried it will be impossible for us to hold our party meeting.
– Surely you do not want a party meeting to consider the Prime Minister’s speech !
– The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Atkinson) attended a meeting of his party yesterday, and surely honorable members on this side should have the same opportunity. I am prepared to admit that perhaps we should not put party meetings before the business of the Parliament, but honorable members opposite had an opportunity yesterday of hearing what the Prime Minister had to say, if we are to judge by press reports of the gathering, and it is the desire of honorable members on this side to meet, as a party, to-morrow morning. Of course, it would be possible for our meeting to be held, leaving honorable members supporting the Government free to debate the Supply Bill, but we prefer to be here to listen to any words of wisdom that might fall from the lips of Government supporters concerning the Postmaster-General (Mr. Webster) or any other Minister. We ought to meet at the ordinary time. I do not see why we should not be able to pass the Supply Bill in time.
– I object to the motion being suddenly sprung upon the House in this way. If this part of the business of the country is so pressing it could have been brought on last week.
– Just this once.
– I ask the Minister for “ just this once “ to meet at the ordinary time. There is no special hurry requiring us to meet at 11 o’clock tomorrow morning. If there is any special urgency about the business, let us sit tomorrow night.
– We want to get the Supply Bill through.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
asked the Assistant Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are-
asked the Assistant
Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Post and Telegraph Department: Engineers
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
With reference to the next Public Serviceexamination for engineers in the Postmaster- . General’s Department, and the statement that “ it will probably be held next year,”willthe
Postmaster-General make provision, or cause provision to be made, enabling those men who, by reason of their absence overseas with the Australian Imperial Force, were not able to qualify for promotion, to sit for an examination at an early date, and thus not be penalized, even temporarily, owing to having enlisted and having served outside Australia?
– The Acting Commonwealth Public Service Commissioner has furnished the following information : -
In justice to officers still absent on active service, and in view of the necessity for affording them a reasonable period for preparation after their return to Australia, it is not considered that the examination should be held until early in 1920.
asked the Minister for
Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Canteen Profits - Maimed Soldiers and Artificial Limbs - Randwick Military Hospital - Graves in France.
– On the 13th August the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Burchell) asked the following question: -
In connexion with the disposal of canteen and regimental funds of the Australian Imperial Force, will the Government consider the advisability of requesting from the Imperial
Government a share of the accumulated profits, amounting to approximately £6,000,000, in the British canteen funds, which were largely contributed to by members of the Australian Imperial Force?
I am now able to furnish the honorable member with the following information : -
Satisfactory arrangements were made shortly after the inception of the British Navy and Army canteens organization by which an equitable proportion of canteen profits are allocated to the Australian Imperial Force. This includes the proceeds of the British Expeditionary canteens in France, as well as from the canteens in ‘Great Britain. It is considered that the cabled report that £6,000,000 remains to credit of British canteen funds will be found to be very greatlyexaggerated.
On the 2Sth August the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Fleming) asked the following question: -
Will the Assistant Minister for Defence state whether it is a fact that the dep6t at which maimed returned soldiers have to attend, so that their artificial limbs may receive attention, is very inconveniently situated? If so, will he take such action as will render it unnecessary for these men to travel long distances, involving, in their case, grave difficulties, in order that their artificial limbs may be attended to?
In answer to the question the following information has been supplied : -
The limb factory is now situated in Sturtstreet, close to the Victoria Barracks, and about midway between the St. Kilda-road and the Clarendon-street, South Melbourne, tramway.
There are two classes of soldier receiving attention by the limb factory -
Undischarged soldiers, who have not received one satisfactory issue of an artificial limb.
Discharged soldiers who have received one satisfactory issue of a limb.
The undischarged soldier awaiting a limb is retained inhospital until supplied with, and instructed in the use of, his limb. Any visits to the factory are made in charge of a non-commissioned officer by motor car. In future these visits will be “reduced to a minimum, all fitting, instruction, and minor repairs being done at the hospital. No hardship due to travelling is, therefore, imposed on these men.
Discharged men who possess one satisfactory issue attend at the factory for repairs; but as these men have become accustomed to the use of their limbs, it is not considered a hardship for them to travel unassisted to the factory, which is not situated unreasonably far from the tramway.
On the 28th August the honorable member for SouthSydney (Mr. Riley) stated that there was insufficient accommodation for out-patients at the Randwick Military Hospital, and asked that arrangements be made for those who were required to go to their homes to receive a ration allowance. I am now able to inform the honorable member that the militarycommandant at Sydney has reported that there is sufficient accommodation in Randwick for all out-patients who desire tobecome in-patients. Those living at their own homes do so because they prefer it. The commandant also states that meals are provided for all outpatients present at meal times.
On the 29th August the honorable mem- ber for Robertson (Mr. Fleming) asked the following question: -
Whether it is a fact that it is proposed to put the inscriptions on the graves of our men, who have fallen in France, in Latin?
I am now able to furnish the honorable member with the following information : -
From the very full information now available to this office, it is possible to state that the official particulars of the soldier will not be in Latin. These particulars will be - Number and rank, name, unit (regiment), date of death. Private inscriptions will, however, in addition, be provided on application of next of kin, &c.
– On the 29th August, the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr: Finlayson) asked the following question: -
Certain disquieting reports are in circulation to the effect that an Australian troopship, owing to very faulty conditions, has been obliged to put back to Durban, and, in view of the declared policy of the Government that complaints of this character should cease, will a strict investigation be ordered into the conditions which obtained on this vessel immediately upon her arrival here, and before the officers and soldiers on board have time to disperse?
The following information has been supplied in answer to the question : -
The Acting Minister for Defence has received the following cablegram from Senator Pearce on the subject: - . ” Re Bahia Castillo, conveying munition workers and dependants to Australia. Complaints were made to me on 16th July, be. fore ship left. I had investigation made at once, and defect remedied before ship left Plymouth. Munitions workers committee informed shipping representative at final inspection that they considered everything possible had been done to make them comfortable, and they did not expect any further discontent would arise.”
– On the 28th August, the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Riley) asked the following questions : -
Does the Defence Department intend to allow the iron and other building material at the Liverpool Camp to remain where it is and rot, or is it proposed to submit it for sale?
The answer supplied to me is as follows : -
The Liverpool Camp will be retained as the main training camp of the 2nd Military District, and it is, therefore, not proposed to sell any of the buildings erected thereon.
There is a quantity of material returned from dismantled country camps, now stored at Liverpool, and this is being held pending a decision as to the future defence policy in regard to training camps. Should it not then bo required, arrangements will be made for the disposal of same.
– On the 28th August, the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) asked if I would make inquiries to ascertain if any application had been made by people to be allowed to employ Germans. I am now able to furnish the honorable member with the following information : -
On several occasions persons have written to the Department asking that internees should be provided to assist them in harvesting or other work. All applications of this nature have been refnsed.
It is presumed that the honorable member was referring to this, as it is unnecessary to ask for permission to employuninterned enemy aliens.
– On the 20th August, the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Wallace) asked the following question: -
A great number of the members of the Australian Army employed at the Victoria Barracks, Sydney, owing to the heavy work entailed by demobilization, have not been able to take the three weeks’ annual leave to which they are entitled. Will tho Assistant Minister for Defence issue instructions to the officer in charge to pay these men their wages in lieu of holiday?
The answer to the question is as follows : -
Members of Home Service Units will be granted all recreation leave due prior to being demobilized.
Curtailment of Expenditure : Censorship : Medical Examinations - Taxation : Land Tax : Entertainments Tax - General Election : System of Voting fob Senate - Court Martial on H.M.A.S. “ Australia” : Remission of Sentences - Pay of Naval Officer - Medical Attendance for Dependants - Financial Position : Tariff - War Service Homes : Supply of Timber - Post and Telegraph Department : Country Telephone Construction : Reduction of Mail Services : Restriction of Post Office Hours: Pillar Boxes - Naval League - Dismissal of Returned Soldiers - North-South Transcontinental Railway - Peace Loan - Commissioner Dethridge’s Report : Wharf Labourers’ Conditions. Loyalist Workers - Polling Arrangements - Federal Capital - Randwick Military Hospital Patients - Papuan Oil Fields - Profiteering: Meat Prices: Leather Industry: Cloth Making - Sydney Combing and Spinning Company - New Industries.
Mr. SPEAKER reported the receipt of a message from His Excellencv the Governor-General recommending an appropriation for the purposes of this Bill-
Referred to Committee of Supply.
In. Committee of Supply:
– I move -
That there be granted to His Majesty for or towards defraying the services of the year l919-20, a sum not exceeding £6,088,542.
This is the second Supply Bill in respect of the current financial year, and. as the total indicates, it is anticipated that it will carry us over to the end of November
– It will not carry us over the elections.
– There is nothing in this Bill to provide for elections. With the exception of the provision for war services, the figures are based on the Estimates for 1918-19, as approved by Parliament. . The total provided for war services is £2,639,000; and when it is remembered that it embraces such services as war pensions and repatriation of soldiers,it will be recognised that the amount must necessarily be larger than the requirement for the same period of the previous financial year. The total for war services is made up as follows: - War pensions, £1,493,000; repatriation of soldiers, £990,000; and other war services, £156,000.
It will be noticed that provision is made in the Bill for £850,000, advance to Treasurer. This amount is required for the unforeseen services of the Government, and, in addition, will be used to continue works already in progress. An amount of £190,000 is included for refunds of revenue. This is required to- refund sundry amounts received by the Customs and Postal Departments, which donot properly belong to the Commonwealth revenue, as well as to refund income tax, war-time profits tax, and land tax, found on re-assessment of schedules to have been collected in excess of the amount actually due, and to refund tax waived under the provisions of the Land Tax Act and Income Tax Act.
Deducting from the total of £6,088,542 for which the Bill provides, the items previously mentioned, namely, war services, £2,639,000; Treasurer’s Advance, £850,000; and refunds of revenue, £190,000 ; we have remaining a sum of £2,409,542, which is available to meet the ordinary services of the Government. The amount included in the first Supply Bill for comparable services was £2,105,335, making a total of £4,514,877 for the first five months of the year. Parliament granted for these services for the year 1918, £11,207,860, and fivetwelfths of that amount is £4,669,941, which is slightly larger than the amount asked for the five months of the current financial year. All the services which are included in the Bill have been previously approved bv Parliament, and provision is made for increases in salary only where such increases are automatic under the Public Service Act and regulations, or where they have been granted under Arbitration Court awards. No increases are provided in the salaries of officers in the higher divisions of the Service. The Treasurer (Mr. Watt) was hopeful that he would have been able to present his Budget statement when asking for further Supply; but the estimates of expenditure furnished by the various Departments were regarded by the Government as so excessive that considerable time has been occupied in reducing and. readjusting, them: This work, however, is now well in hand, and within a short time, it is hoped that the Treasurer, willi be in a position to make, the usual full statement; in relation to the finances of the Commonwealth.
I do not know that I need say anything further.. The Bill provides only for ordinary expenditure.. It. contains nothing which warrants severe criticism, and I trust that I shall -command the co-operation of honorable members in getting it through this Chamber in time to allow of Inter-State representatives catching their trains on Friday afternoon next. I am anxious to afford the Senate at least a couple of days in which to consider the measure. Supply is required not later than the 18th instant. By submitting the Bil] now I am allowing honorable members a greater period for its consideration than has been allowed previously in connexion with similar measures. I am very anxious that the Bill shall be disposed of in time to allow me to catch my train for Adelaide on Friday afternoon, as I have been home only three times since last Christmas. For the present I am relieving the Treasurer of his Treasury work, and I shall be exceedingly grateful to honorable members for all the support which they can extend to me.
.- I certainly sympathize with the Acting Treasurer in his desire to get home on Friday next, and I compliment him upon his anxiety to afford us more time for the discussion of this Bill than has been previously devoted to Supply Bills.
– I do not know why the honorable member wants time to debate it. There is nothing in the Bill to discuss.
– We shall see. The Acting Treasurer has told us that the Budget statement would have been made ere this but for the excessive estimates of, expenditure which were submitted by the various Departments. Now that the war is over, I know that there is a general desire throughout the community that a great deal of our Commonwealth expenditure shall be curtailed. In my opinion, many officers connected with different Departments were continued in their employment for altogether too long a period. There was, for example, no need to keep the censorship staff in existence so long. Then I came across a case of extravagant. expenditure when travelling to Sydney about the beginning of July last. In the sleeping compartment which I occupied was a returned officer who had landed in Melbourne, where he was examined by the doctor, and afterwards sent on to Sydney, that being his home port. This officer was living in Goulburn. Yet he was obliged to come from there to Melbourne in order to be examined by the medical officer, and he had first to ~o to Sydney in order to get his railway warrant. Surely there were some means of preventing that excessive expenditure.
I am very anxious to hear the Budget, because I wish to know what new taxation the Government intend to propose.
Mr-. McDonald . - None before the elections.
– I shall deal with the elections presently. We have been told by the Acting Treasurer that this Supply Bill will suffice to carry the Government on till the end of November, and that it is npt proposed to hold a general election before then. I wonder .what Ministers propose to do in December. I have it on reliable authority that the Electoral Department is already engaging public halls in the cities for the 6th December, on which da-‘ it is intended to hold the elections. Telegrams have reached honorable, members to that effect. Of course, the Government have a right to decide when the elections shall be held. Probably the imminence of a general election explains w,hy they have not foreshadowed any new taxation. I know that quite recently, at a ..conference which was held in Bendigo, the Government were asked to abolish the entertainments tax on the ground that its continuance would provide the Labour party with a handle at election time. Nothing whatever was said regarding the injustice of that impost. Practically every honorable member opposite voted for the imposition of a. 33 per cent, tax upon children’s tickets of admission to picture shows.
– Was not that proposal originally introduced by the honorable member’s colleague, the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) 1
– No. The honorable member for Capricornia, when he filled the office of Treasurer, did not introduce any Bill providing for such an impost. If the matter was ever discussed by Cabinet I was not present at the meeting.
Mr.Poynton. - The proposal was contained in the Budget statement of the honorable member for Capricornia.
Mr.TUDOR. -I had resigned from the Government prior to that. I remember writing to the present Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) stating that, as I was leaving the Ministry,Iwould not attend a Cabinet meeting, as I might subsequently have occasion to criticise its decisions.
I wish now to know what new taxation the Government intend to submit. The additional land tax which was imposed last year operates for only one year. I remember the fight which the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster), the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Pigott), and others put up on behalf of the “poor” landholders, who were let off with an increased land tax for one year. On the other hand, the tax on amusements will continue until an amending Bill is passed. The probability is that, with an election in sight, the Government may bring down such a Bill. Elections for the Commonwealth Parliament were formerly held in December, but there was an outcry among the primary producers against holding elections at that time of the year. It was pointed out that the Constitution provided that senators must take their seats on 1st January of the year following their election; but the farmers said, “Alter the Constitution.” Accordingly a Bill was brought forward for the purpose of amending the Constitution by providing that senators elected in December, 1903, should not retire until June, 1910, and that senators elected in December, 1906, should be elected for six years and six months. I think that the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Sinclair) was the only honorable member at that time who voted against the Bill.
– I took exception to- it.
– The purpose of that Bill was to avoid holding elections in December, yet now we are told by the press that. an election is to be held in December next, and telegrams have been received stating that halls have been engaged for the purpose of holding an election on the 6th December. What justification can there be for asking for a dissolution when in this House there are only twenty-three honorable members sitting in Opposition to fifty-two honorable members on the
Ministerial side? Can it be said that this Parliament is unworkable? Before granting this Supply, we should hear fromsome responsible Minister what the intentions ofthe Government are in this regard.
Whenwe were debating the Electoral Bill on 8thNovemberlast, after some honorable members on the Ministerial side had voted againstthe Government on the question of adopting proportional voting for the election of members of the Senate, the then Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) promised that before the session concluded the Government would bring forward a Bill to make the two systems of voting, that for the House of Representatives and that for the Senate, as similar as possible, in order to avoid confusing the electors. At present a candidate for the House of Representatives is obliged to tell hi3 supporters to place the figure “ 1 “ opposite his name, and a cross opposite the name of his party’s candidates for the Senate. This leads to confusion. We had a definite promise from the Acting Prime Minister that it would be avoided, but nothing has been done in the matter.
– The party hadnot been whipped at that time.
– Perhaps the honorable member is correct. Perhaps Ministershave since learned that any proposal to alter the system of voting for senators would meet with defeat in the Senate.
– Does not the honorable member think that Ministers would befoolish to bring forward such a Bill?
– At any rate, the present confused system is an absolute premium to the casting of informal votes.
If the Government have made up their minds to apply for a dissolution on theground that tho House is unworkable, they are not justified in proceeding with business. It is their duty to ask the House to grant Supply to carry them over the elections, and then go to the people at once. No Minister can deny that halls have been engagedfor an election ou 6th December next.
-i know nothing about the matter.
– I have seen telegrams to that effect; andwe have seen it stated in thepress a dozen times.
– Ask the Government Whip.
– Perhaps the honorable member for Cowper (Mr. Thomson) has gone around counting numbers, and seeing how honorable members opposite stand, or how they may stand after an election, which is more to the point.
I hope that we shall have a Budget statement either from the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt), as Treasurer, or the honorable member for Grey (Mr. Poynton), as Acting Treasurer, setting forth what the Government propose to do in the way of taxation.
– You will get that.
– Before the election-?
– You will get it within a few weeks. This Bill covers ten weeks, and provides no money for an election.
– I accept the honorable member’s word for that, but we have a right to know if a. general election is to be sprung on the people. It is not right for the Government to take honorable members of one section of the House into their confidence, and allow them to make arrangements, without letting our side know. There are no farmers in my electorate, or in a number of others, and so far as they are concerned an election can be held as easily in December as in any other month; but Parliament deliberately altered the Constitution to remedy the hardship caused to country interests by the holding of the elections in December. The Government have no right, merely for party purposes, to go back upon what was decided, not only by Parliament, but by the people themselves, for it will be remembered that at a constitutional referendum the people decided that the life of the Senate should terminate at the end of June and not in December, as the Constitution originally provided. I hope the Minister will let me know when the Budget statement will be delivered.
– I am doing all I can to get it ready now.
– I hope we shall hear from the honorable member the Government’s intentions regarding an early appeal to the people.
.- I wish to bring once more under attention the case of the unfortunate sailors from the warship Australia, who are now in goal. I endeavoured by means of questions to get from the Acting Minister for the Navy (Mr. Poynton) some idea of what the Government are doing in this matter, but Ministers seem to have no feeling whatever. Apparently, they are devoid of every instinct of humanity. The men served four years in the North Sea, and when they returned to Australia were given a great reception at Fremantle. They appreciated this so much that they wanted to. return the hospitality on the ship. They perhaps overstepped the bounds in- what they did. I will do nothing to encourage mutiny or disobedience to the laws or regulations of the Navy, but like many other Australian citizens I feel that these men, in the circumstances, deserve some sympathy from those in power. When the occurrence took place the ship was under the control of the Admiralty, but since the 1st August, that, and other vessels, have become part of the Australian Navy of which we are so proud. I never thought that the members of the crew of an Australian warship would be subjected to the punishment that these men have suffered for a paltry offence committed under the influence of the excitement of their return to the land they love. Two of them are Australian born. They loved the Navy, and went willingly to the North Sea to fight for Australia and for the cause about which we have heard so much this afternoon from the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes). The right honorable gentleman eulogized the Army, but 3aid very little about the Navy. I expected to hear the voice of the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) on that subject. Possibly, I shall have to do what Samuel Plimsol! did. He made an attack on the Speaker of the House of Commons in order to direct public attention to the “coffin” ships in which British sailors were sent to sea. He roused public opinion to such -an extent that the “ coffin “ ships became a thing of the past. The case of these men from the Australia almost drives me to take the step that Plimsoll took. The parents and brothers and sisters of these young men, and other members of the crew, have appealed to me to do all I can from my place in Parliament, as the representative of the Australian Navy, to secure their release. The men on the Australian warships are within the electorate of East Sydney, and I would not be a man if I did not try to bring this Parliament to an understand- ing of the position of these unfortunate young fellows, and of those who belong to them. They ought to be released at once. It is the almost invariable practice, when a war ends, to show leniency to men who have offended against the strict discipline of the Army or Navy.
Honorable members may not know that members of my family, and friends of mine in the Australian Navy, are forbidden by a Navy order to speak to me or to come to my house, because I am a member of Parliament. When they join, that is one of the conditions. Some young fellows belonging to my family . joined the Tingira, and from there went aboard the Sydney, and they are not allowed to come .into my house.
– That cannot be!
– The honorable member drives sheep and goats about, and cannot ‘ be familiar with questions of this character. A demonstration has been held in the Sydney Town Hall,” and meeting after meeting has been held. I have sent telegrams to’ the Department, and have urged the Minister to take action to release these men, but can get no satisfaction. Thousands of the citizens of Australia are asking that those sentences shall be wiped out and the men given their liberty. I cannot understand why there should be such a determination to keep them in gaol. Those men had been four years at sea, and during that time they could not get a -glass of beer or a drop of grog. We were told that the ships of His Majesty’s Australian Navy were “ dry,” but the officers of the Australia were able to have liquor in their mess. I do not blame them for that. My complaint is that if one of the sailors brought a bottle of beer on board, he was paraded for a breach of discipline and was punished. These little things show how easy it is in the Navy for men to incur penalties. Honorable members would be surprised if I were to tell them of some of the little things for which the men on the war-ships break their leave. I heard of one man who, thinking that an error had been made in his pay, went to the ‘chief pay officer and complained. For that action, the man lost ten days’ leave. The men on the Australia had just returned ,” after four years’ service’ in the North Sea, and they were allowed four days’ leave in Fremantle and Perth.
The residents treated them right royally, as Britishers should be treated, and with that Australian generosity which is unequalled in any part of the world. I can imagine the state of those men, who for four years had been without a glass of beer. Some of them told me that they were unable to drink some of the stuff that was so-d to them in England for beer. I know what I would have been like if I had been in their place. One glass of beer would only have been sufficient to wipe the dust out of my throat; I should have required at least a second glass. The people of Perth and Fremantle entertained the sailors freely, and, in order to have an opportunity of returning this hospitality, they asked the captain to postpone the’ departure of the ship. Captain Cumberlege replied that he had his orders to depart on a certain day, and he could not disobey them. No doubt, those were his orders; I do not blame him. But the men became offended, and ultimately resolved upon a course of action which, we all admit, was ill-advised. The whole trouble was a mistake, which, I think’, might have been regarded lightly, in view of .the war service of the men. In all the circumstances, I appeal to the Minister to rise to the occasion and show that he possesses a little of the milk of human kindness, and is not dominated by that hardcrusted Toryism that has been such a curse to our race. Let. Australian ideas govern the Australian Navy, Do not let it be invaded by the crusted Toryism of the Imperial Navy, in which the sailors were regarded as merely machines or creatures to be ordered and driven about. I am one of those who believe that in future it will be necessary for Australia to have a Navy. . Let us have one in which every man will respect the flag, and be confident of just treatment by his officers.
Recently, I asked some questions in the House regarding a naval officer in Sydney who receives £2 15s. per week on which to keep his wife and four children. The Minister gave me the Department’s reply. He said that the officer, in addition to getting £2 15s. 4d. per week, was supplied with a uniform when he joined. The uniform will not wear for ever. These officers are engaged in the training of our boys, and they should maintain an appearance that would be an example to the boys and a credit to the Navy. The uniform, which costs about £10 or £15, has only the life of an ordinary suit; and an officer who has to keep a wife and four children on £2 15s. 4d. per week can hardly be expected to replace it. It is time that the Department of the Navy awakened to some of these defects of the Service.
I do not know who is Minister for the Navy now - I have not heard whether the right honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Joseph Cook) has been turned out of that office, as well as the deputy leadership of the National party ; but I intend to make such a fuss that whoever is Minister will hear it. If I were to commence punching the Chairman, I would advertise my argument more efficiently than by any other means. That was the method adopted by Samuel Plimsoll in order to get his views prominently before the public. At a meeting last Monday, I was twitted with not having the soul of Samuel Plimsoll.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
– I wish to refer to some answers as to the Navy. The other day I was informed in regard to the Royal Australian Navy that, under a regulation, the wives and children of our men are allowed medical attendance. It appears, however, that the wives and children of the men of the Royal Australian Navy- do not receive the medical attendance provided for under the regulation. Further, I am given to understand that some of the men of the Royal Australian Navy, on being placed on the staff, deprived themselves, to save expense, because of their poor pay, of the benefits they otherwise would have received as members of friendly societies. In order to compensate for this I asked the Government to increase the men’s wages, but I was informed that to this the men were not entitled: These men are constituents of mine, and I have the right to see that they, as much as others in the East Sydney electorate, suffer no injustice. It appears to me that the Naval Secretary, wherever he may get hisadvice, does- not have much sympathy with persons other than officers and the Naval Board.
We ought certainly to have more information’ as to our revenue and expenditure. To-day we were informed by the Prime Minister that our war expenditure was something like £350,000,000, although up to the present we have understood it to be only £300,000,000. The last Budget contemplated a figure of something like £39,000,000; but that, of course, does not provide for the interest on the. various loans we have raised. Under all the circumstances, if it is proposed to have an early election, we ought to know the intentions of the Government in regard to taxation. It is only a few months since the Treasurer (Mr. Watt) spoke on the question of Protection, and told us that the Government would introduce a Tariff. This, of course, is a matter of taxation, and we know that a Tariff may mean merely revenue, or the encouragement of Australian industries. My own opinion, so far as the encouragement of industries is concerned, is that the only way is prohibition; if we are to have an ordinary Tariff it is apt to be like the household colander - full of holes. However that may be, the Government ought to take the Houseintoits confidence in the matter: of the Tariff. If we are to have anelection in December we cannot have a Tariff passed in the interval, for it is a matter in which both Houses have a say.
– The Government have no intention of encouraging Australian industries.
– Then let the Government have the courage to say. so. My own desire would be for an early opportunity to appeal to the people, so that we may know where we stand. We have juggied too long with the finances, both State and Federal. The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) spoke to-day of the sacrifices we had made in men and money; and,undoubtedly, we have to repatriate the survivors. We cannot continually be appealing for loans; and the present generation ought to make some shift, to meet the expenditure which faces us. At any rate-, we ought to be prepared’ to pay the interest on our loans. It is some time ago since the late Lord Forrest told us that we must be prepared, to. pay £8,000,000 or £9,000,000, but the press now informs us that, the figure is more like. £15,000,000- a pretty stiff bill to meet put of taxation.
Very few of us realize what is the taxation on thepeople of Australia to-day. Not long ago Mr: Holman told us that the revenue of the State of New South Wales would be £20,000,000 or £22,000,000, but he did not tell the public that about £14,000,000 was from services rendered to, and paid for by, the public The actual taxation was about £7,000,000, consisting of succession duties, stamp duties, super tax, and so forth. The Commonwealth has not the advantage of these public utilities from which the State of New South Wales derives so large a revenue, or, at any rate, the Commonwealth revenue in this regard is comparatively small.
I do not know how the Government or its supporters propose to remedy the present slipshod manner of administering the finances. We, as a representative House, are supposed to guide the people financially, and point out how the necessary revenue is to be raised. It may be, of course, that the Government look forward to the Opposition assuming office and taking over the burden of responsibility. However that may be, I wonder how the public generally can be so quiet under the circumstances. As I said before, we have made certain promises to our soldiers, and we must see that they are properly repatriated. 1 hope that the Government will give the House an opportunity to deal with the financial question generally.
– I was very much surprised to read in one of our leading journals the following statement: -
The Toronto correspondent of The Times mentions in the trade supplement of 14th June that quotations have been asked by the Australian Soldiers Housing Department for 60,000 doors, 120,000 sashes, and 70,000,000 feet of flooring within one year, with a similar quantity in the following four years, and a similar quantity of linings. These quotations are in competition with those from Scandinavia and the United States. Canadian lumbermen are working hard to secure the orders for the Dominion, and State officials are working in their interests. Are the interests of the Australian timber trade being overlooked?
I shouldbe very much disappointed if that statement could be borne out. I beg to remind the Committee that this country of ours is not entirely devoid of timber suitable for work of this kind. We have any amount of wood suitable for doorsand sashes; and it is well known that we have any amount suitable for flooring, without going to Canada. Om the Dorrigo, a plateau in my own district, there is soft timber, officially estimated as being worth not less than £40,000,000. I should like to know why the Government are sending out of the country for timber when we have such quantities of suitable timber in Australia. I believe it is the policy of the Prime Minister and the Government, as I know it is of this House, that during the coming years we shall turn all the native wealth of Australia that we can into money, so that we may be able to finance the cost of the war.
– What proof has the honorable member that that is the policy of the Government?
– What proof have you that it is not?
– Statements to that effect have been made, and I know that the Government have been following out that policy-
– They have been bluffing the honorable member.
– I think my honorable friend must know that I have stated the declared policy of the Government. I know that if we are to put the industries of Australia into a prosperous condition again, and help -our returned soldiers in the way in which they ought to be helped, and as we wish to do, the only course open to us is to create more wealth in this country.
The timber industry of Australia has been sadly neglected, and I trust that the Government will do what is possible to assist it, and turn our native wealth in timber into cash. The utilization of our timber for doors and sashes and other purposes in the building of houses for returned soldiers will provide a great deal of employment for those who are here now and for returned soldiers aswell.
– The honorable member is aware that in his district the timber is controlled by Combines.
– I know nothing of the sort. The timber I speak ofis growing on Crown lands. I should be glad to introduce the honorable member (Mr. Riley) to the Dorrigo district, which he would admit is one of the finest districts that could be seen. Unfortunately, he. knows nothing beyond South Sydney.
I have not noticed by advertisement or in any other way that any atempt has been made by the Government to purchase in Australia the timber they require. I should like the Minister concerned to tell us what inquiries have been made relative to obtaining the timber he requires in Australia. I am strongly of opinion that we . can produce all that we require in Australia, and that we should do so. We should turn our natural resources into money. The Dorrigo district, I remind honorable members, is suitable for close settlement after the timber is taken off. If the Government would purchase the timber they require in that district they would secure some of the finest timbers that can be obtained, and would, at the same time, lead to the clearing of the land, and make it suitable for soldier settlement.
I have said that the soft timber supply of the Dorrigo district is valued at £40,000,000. It is easy of access, and is not more than 20 miles from the coast. Communication with the coast is being established, and could be further improved by the construction -of a railway, and I should be very glad to have the assistance of the Government in the construction of that line. I am satisfied that if the Government have decided to go to other parts of the world for the timber they require, they .cannot have been advised as to the possibilities .of the timber resources of Australia. I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation to see that further inquiries are made into this matter, and to see if the timber required for soldiers’ homes cannot be procured in Australia. An officer of the Department might be sent up to the Dorrigo district to see whether the timber required cannot be secured from, that district. If the Government were prepared to take that timber it could be cut more cheaply than in any other ,place I know of. Any amount of water power might be developed from several water-courses in the district to . supply the electricity necessary to run the saw-mills, and the timber could be cut there at a very low cost.
In regard to flooring boards, any one who knows the New South Wales timbers must be aware that there is no better timber for flooring in the world than the tallow wood. No timber will last longer or give more satisfaction. I feel sure that if the Government will make inquiries they will find that in the Northern Rivers district of New South Wales ample supplies of tallow wood may be obtained.
– There is any quantity of tallow wood in Queensland.
– Quite so.. I ask that the Government will take into consideration in this matter the timber resources pf all parts of Australia.
– Is this timber accessible ?
– Yes- The tallow wood ordinarily grows within easy access of navigable rivers: I hope that the Government, in carrying out the policy of assisting Australian native - industries, will see that the timber industry is ‘not neglected. By theutilization of our own timbers our returned soldiers may be provided with houses of a lasting character, whilst ihemoney will be kept in, the country instead of being sent away to other parts of theworld, as will be the case if we go to other countries for the timber we require. .
I realize that for some time past the Postmaster-General has been working - under very great difficulties. Delay in securing necessary material has been beyond his control, and, as a result, quite a number of telephone lines approved by himself and his officers have not yet been constructed. Now that the war is overand we are approaching normal conditions, I urge upon the honorable gentleman the completion of these lines. Thepeople have been wonderfully patient over the delay in their construction. In many cases they have paid deposits not only for subscribers’ lines, but for country lines,, and the Postmaster-General has so far been unable to construct them.
– Is the wire available?
– I believethat it has been purchased and is now on the way to Australia.
– In. country districtsthe people have to construct threefourthsof a line at their own expense.
– I am awareof the conditions. The proposals in some districts do not require any assistance from the people. In considering the construction of telephonelines, the nature of the district and the prospects of traffic have to be taken into account. My constituents arenot complaining of the terms upon which the Department will construct lines, but they do complain of the delay in their- construction. I am urging that the PostmasterGeneral should, as soon as possible, secure the necessary material and go on with the work.
– Have the lines been approved?
– I am speaking of approved lines.
– In many of the small country offices the hours have been rerduced by two-thirds.
– The construction, of these lines is, in my opinion, part and parcel of the development of the country. Men cannot be expected to take their wives and families into remote districts unless some prompt means of communication with doctors in urgent cases are provided for them. It should be unnecessary for me to urge upon the Postmaster-General the value of these lines in promoting settlement. I ask the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Poynton) to assist the Postmaster-General in this matter by finding the means to enable the necessary material to be procured, so that, these lines may be erected. Their construction will be a paying business, and, in some cases, the people are prepared to contribute substantially.
– The honorable member advises some people to economize and others to spend money.
– I am assuming that the Minister’s good sense will tell him when to spend money and when to save it. I trust that the need for economy will not be overlooked, but “I regard expenditure on telephone line construction as saving money. It is the investment of money well in the interests of the people.
For some reason or another, perhaps in the interests of economy, but not always with that result, the PostmasterGeneral ha3 been reducing the mail services in remote districts. These mail services are, in many cases, the only link between country districts and civilization. The Postmaster-General should not consider the -loss of a few pounds on a small country mail contract, but should take into consideration the whole system of mail service. If he does so, I am sure that he will agree that, although a loss of £5 or £10 a year may be involved in the carrying out of a small branch mail service in the country, that is not a suf ficient warrant for doing away with that service. When we ask our returned soldiers and other people to go into remote districts, if we expect them to make a success of land settlement, and produce wealth as we desire, we should provide them with some facilities and inducements to make country life more attractive than it has hitherto been.
I find that the Postmaster-General, or the Department over which he provides, has been reducing the number of hours for which country post-offices may be kept open. I do not know where applications for these reductions have come from. I say that these applications have not come from the people, nor do I think they have come from the postmasters. No one knows better than I do that many of the country postmasters are sweated in the matter of the rates of pay they receive. But a great many of them have taken charge of these country post offices with the view to securing for themselves and their neighbours better postal facilities, and not for the purpose of making money, and they are, therefore, satisfied to receive a small remuneration merely as binding their agreement. I ask the PostmasterGeneral to see that these reductions of hours are not continued. People living in country districts on dairy farms and such places often find it very inconvenient to give up their business to go to their post-office during the two or . three hours a day that it is open. I am aware that some country postmasters have asked for increased remuneration, which they would be entitled to if the offices under their control were kept open from 9 o’clock in the morning until 6 in the evening, or, perhaps, later, according to the time of the arrival of the mail. All cases should be decided on their individual merits. Where a demand is made for increased payment there may be some warrant for a reduction of the hours. But where no complaint has been made, and no request has been made for a reduction of the hours of country post-offices, I do not think that they should be reduced indiscriminately on the advice of a departmental inspector. I ask the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Poynton) to convey these matters to his colleague, and, as a result of the money provided by the Supply Bill, I hope that the necessary material will be secured to enable approved telephone lines to be constructed, and that our returned soldiers and others will shortly be engaged upon this work.
.- I wish to say a few words with reference to a matter I previously mentioned in this House; I refer to the fact that action has been taken by the Minister for .the Navy, or the Naval Department, to prevent some 500 men of the Australian Navy from securing the leave to which they are justly entitled. I have no doubt that the Assistant Treasurer recollects the matter to which I refer, and knows all about it. The Naval regulations provide that each member of the Australian Navy shall be allowed, I think, fourteen days’ leave a year on full pay, but they provide also that if the men are not able to take their leave within two years it is forfeited altogether. It would appear that the men on the Brisbane were unable to take their leave because they were on active service. Solely because of the exigencies of the war these seamen were not in a position to avail themselves of their leave. When they arrived in Sydney and applied for their leave, or for the equivalent in pay, the sailors received a surprise. Their attention was drawn to the fact that the regulations provided, in effect, that once they had passed beyond a certain period without taking their leave, that leave was forfeited. I fail to understand the attitude of the Minister responsible. There are about 500 men concerned, and, no doubt, a fairly large sum of money is involved, lt is an instance, however, where the Government should not endeavour to stick to the exact letter of a regulation, particularly seeing that the seamen were not familiar with its details and could not, in any case, take their leave when due. I am sure the Government do not desire to inflict any hardship. When these men entered the Naval service they expected to receive their leave in the ordinary way. Because they were unable to take that leave during a period of warfare, they find they have lost it.
– Every man has had sixty days’ leave.
– There are 500 nien, some of whom I have personally interviewed, who say they were each en titled to something, like twenty-eight days*, leave.
Lt. -Colonel Abbott. - Does the honorable member say it is due to the war,, and for no other reason, that they -have been deprived of their leave ?
– The regulations’ concerned provides, in effect, that if they do not avail themselves of their leave within a certain period they cannot take it.
– Every man has had sixty days’ leave, or is taking his sixty days’ leave now.
– That is extraordinary, in view of the information which I Iia ve been given. If the men are nowtaking their leave justice is being done them; but in Sydney, on Monday last, I was conversing with the solicitor in charge of the men’s interests, and he assured me that the Navy Department had emphatically refused to grant the men what they asked.
– That may be ! I said they have had sixty days’ leave, dr are taking it. I do not know how much they asked foi*
– I will again look into the matter, and will lay before the Minister what further information I may secure.
Amidst a blare of trumpets, the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Webster) recently announced that he had achieved that long-desired objective, namely, a surplus. He has, undoubtedly, secured a surplus in his Department, but at what cost ? It would be a very easy matter for any Government Department to secure a sur-* plus. It might be an easy matter for a private commercial institution to do the same, but it would be secured at the loss of its customers, and’ it would soon “ gobroke.” With a Department such as that over which the Postmaster-General presides, however, the situation is different. Mr. Webster may say to the public, “ Take our service or leave it.” My experience, no doubt, is the same- as that of other country representatives in this chamber-. Every week my mail contains notices from the Postmaster-General’s Department to the effect that certain mail lines are to be cut off. I shall mention two specifically which it is now intended’ to cut out altogether. One is the NymageeShuttleton line, and the other is the Nymagee-Bobadah line. These have been in operation for the past twenty years or- more, and greater numbers of people are using the services to-day than at any previous period. But because of the desire of the Postmaster-General to show his Government that he would make a very fine Postal Commissioner, the Minister is quite prepared to deprive those people of mail facilities, and he intends to cut them adrift altogether from outside communication. In most instances the people will be compelled to supply their own mail communication. in 1917 I approached the Department with respect to a line from Dubbo to Merrygoen. This line follows a new railway, and really connects the north-west and Liverpool Plains country with the western part of’ New South “Wales. During dry spells and drought periods the railway is considerably availed of for the transfer of stock from dry areas to more favoured parts. While conditions may be dry in the west, it may be that in the Liverpool Plains, and in the north-west generally, there is agistment for considerable numbers of stock. Thus, a good deal of stockshifting traffic takes place over that system. The essence of success in removing drought-stricken stock to agistment country lies in the ability to make the necessary arrangements at short notice. Here, two different parts of the State are linked by the* railway. I applied to the PostmasterGeneral for a telephone, which would permit stock-owners and all parties* concerned to get into swift and efficient communication along that line. The answer which I received was to the effect that, owing to war conditions - owing to lack of cash - the Postmaster-General regretted that he was unable to construct the line, although it was admitted by his Department that it was necessary. Some twelve months afterwards, I again made representations. The reply on this occasion was that there was no material available. On a third occasion I applied, and was told that there was no material available, also that there was no cash available. Recently I again made representations, and was confronted, not with reason number 1, nor with reason number 2, but with a new one, namely, that the Une would not pay. It would appear that once the excuse, “lack of material,” is lost to the Minister, his method ‘is to jump to the reply, “lack of capital.” When that excuse is taken away, and the exigencies of warfare have disappeared, his system is to fall back upon the excuse that the cost of the line would be too great, and that the expected revenue does not warrant such communication. At Wanaaring, Bourke, Cobar. Brewarrina, Nyngan, Bobadah*, and most of those junctions whence mails radiate,, letters come to hand every month or so - and especially during those periods in which mail contracts are lapsing - stating that such and such a. mail service at such and such a price has to be cut out, and that if the residents are not prepared to put up their own cashreally, to subsidize the Government - their mail line will be done away with. In regard to Gilgandra and a few other towns upon the same railway system, no less than three threats have been issued by the Postmaster-General’s Department. These are to the effect that if the people are not prepared to agree to a subsidy - in one case, of £1 for £1 - the lines concerned will be cut out altogether. If that is the way in which the PostmasterGeneral intends to continue the creation of surpluses, all I can pray for is that there shall be no surplus. The PostmasterGeneral would not dare to propose the reduction or cutting off of mail facilities in any of the chief cities of Australia. But where small communities of 300 or 400 people are being served by a line which the Postmaster-General considers is not a paying proposition, their interests are not to be thought of. Those people have no political “ pull.” They can only make their voices heard through their representatives in Parliament. Their voices, for that reason, are as those that cry in the wilderness, for all the notice the surplus-creating PostmasterGeneral will take.
Another matter having to do with the Postmaster-General and his desire to bring about efficiency in the service relates to the recently created Postal Institute, the curriculum of which includes some seventeen or eighteen studies, concerning which training is given to students. A returned soldier recently gave me some information regarding his tuition in the Institute. He was trained as a wireless operator. He went through the whole course and could work the Morse code in “ relation to ordinary telegraphic business. After the Repatriation Department had spent quite a sum of money upon his education, this returned man was established in the telegraphic office at Goulburn. He had been there practically no time when he was discharged and a boy was put in his place. That is only one instance among many in which returned soldiers who have received training, by medium of the Repatriation Department, in.telegraphy and. other branches of the Post and Telegraph work, have been dismissed by the PostmasterGeneral very shortly after he hasfound them a job. Owing to practically the whole of the telegraphic business of this country being in the hands of the Postmaster-General, these men are unable to secure employment in Australia. They have wasted their time in learning a trade in which the Postmaster-General will not allow them to work.
– Do you. know the rear son given for putting off these men?
– For. no apparent reason.
– It is contrary to the instructions of the Government.
– The Minister says it is quite contrary to the instructions of the Government that men who have received assistance from the Repatriation Department should be dismissed from employment in the Public Service. There is the case I have mentioned, and I have nodoubt that I could get. a statutory declaration from the individual concerned, if the Minister se desired.
Mir. Poynton. - I do not want a statutory declaration, but merely the details.
– I shall obtain the details. I have heard rumours of this sort of thing for quite a long time. I heard an honorable member in this Chamber, quite six months ago, referring to a similar incident.
– What is the PostmasterGeneral’s reply in this particular case ?
– There has been no reply so far asI am aware. Fortunately the man was able to secure work in the Railway Department in New South Wales.
There is another disquieting matter upon which I would like to touch, the censorship which is being exercised in this country.
– The censorship has been entirely abolished, with the exception of certain German towns in New Guinea.
– That may he so, but we were informed in this Chamber a couple of. weeks ago that the censorship had been abolished, and the Minister now informs us that it has been practically abolished, with the exception of in a few German towns in New Guinea.
– With the exception of German towns in New Guinea. It has been absolutely abolished within Australia proper.
– If such is the case I am sorry the Postmaster-General is not here. If the Minister goes to the General Post Office, Sydney, and inspects the private letter-boxes from the inside, he will see quite a number of cards, measuring about o inches by 2 inches, on which is written -
All papers and mails addressed to this box shall be sent to the Censor.
I know these instructions are attached to the inside of some of the Sydney private letter-boxes.
– How- long ago is it since you saw them?.
– I did not see them myself, but I know that they were on some of the boxes last week. Notwithstanding the fact that we were told in the House that the censorship had been entirely abolished, and that’ we are now assured by the Minister in charge of the House that the censorship in Australia has been abolished, these cards, are still there, unless they have been removed since last week.
– I can assure the honorable member- that so far as Cabinet is aware, the censorship, has been abolished.
– Last week these notices were on some of the private boxes. The cards bore definite instructions to the sorters that all American papers and letters addressed to those boxes were to be sent to the Censor.
– I do not think you will find them there now.
– The Minister does not think they will be found there now but only two weeks ago it was announced in this House that the censorship had been abolished. It is impossible for me to give the House the source of my information, because my informant is an employee of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. But he assures me that there are no less than twenty private boxes in the Sydney General Post Office upon whichthese instructions remain, notwithstanding that the censorship has been abolished.
– Are those instructions acted upon ?
-Most certainly, they are. Under the old censorship system, letters were opened with a knife, and there was no subterfuge, as they were delivered in a mutilated condition, whilst others were kept, and some were destroyed. Tons and tons of mail matter have been destroyed by this National Government during the last two and a-half years.
– Hear, hear !
– My honorable friend says “Hear, hear!” Quite a quantity of mail matter was destroyed after the signing of the Armistice, if the information I have received be true. Personally, I accept the assurance of the man who told me. Mail matter is now being destroyed. In order tomake sure that the world is safefor Democracy,to make sure that the Peace istobea lastingone, twenty or more men in Sydney occupying prominent positionsinthe political and industrial world are having their mail matter perused by some unknown person. The censored ‘letters are steamed, and are not opened in the ordinary way. If their correspondence does not contain anything of interest tothe Government, or anythingwhich may be detrimental to the life of theGovernment - not the life of the country - it is not interfered with., andis returned to the boxes. I believe theCensor’s Department is a political, and not a national, institution.
– Do you think any Government capable of such action ?
– A Government that attempted to gaol me, and almost every member on this side of the House, is capable of anything.
– They did not succeed.
– No, they did not succeed; but it was not because they did not try.
Some very interesting matter has come from United States of America, notwithstanding the careful and secret sur veillance exercised by the Government over mail matter. Certain Governments throughout the world, desiring to make the world safe for Democracy, and for themselves, found that the intelligence machinery that had achieved such marvellous results during the war period, could be made to fit in with their political ambitions and desires.
Cards have come to Australia which contain the history of eVery man who has come under the notice of the American Government. Such a card gives, not only a general description of an individual, but his height, age, colour, and any any other peculiarities concerning him. It records his opinions and ideas, states whether he has Bolshevik tendencies, whether he holds extreme ideas with regard to finance, and also his beliefs in relation to the repudiation of the national debt. They have even worked it out to such a fine art that they give on the cards a list of the people with whom these men correspond. If the Government are endeavouring to make the world safe for Democracy by cooperation of this nature with ‘the. -United States of America and Great Britain and European countries, they are certainly carrying out a scheme of surveillance and secret scrutiny of the businesses of these men who are regarded as a danger to society. One man, whom I know personally, has received special attention at the hands of the Censor of this country solely because he corresponds with certain Labour papers of America and Great Britain. During the war period his correspondence was usually received in a mutilated condition, and he knows that a lot of his mail matter was burned. He also knows that every letter or paperthat comes to him from America or Great Britain is interfered with at the instigation of this Government.
We are practically on the verge of ratifying the Peace Treaty. We were assured in this Chamber, a few weeks ago, that the censorship had been abolished. We are assured to-night by the Minister that the system has been abolished with the exception of New Guinea. I do not expect for one moment that anything I may say in regard to the question of the secret surveillance of the correspondence of citizens of this country is going to have any effect upon the Government. The Government used the censorship machinery for political purposes with the excuse of doing it to win the war. They endeavoured to stifle free speech, and to put men in gaol, including members of this side of the House. They curtailed their liberties and freedom of action, and evidently they intend to continue to do that. Now that hostilities have ceased it is regrettable to find that we still have Prussian methods in force here, in the scrutinizing of private correspondence.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- We were all pleased to hear the interesting speech delivered by the Prime Minister to-day. We were also glad to have the opportunity of welcoming back to Australia the Prime Minister and his colleague, the Minister for the Navy. The advice given to the House to-day will be very valuable to the country. Every member when elected to Parliament should endeavour to join hands with his fellow parliamentarians in the interests of the country, and if that were done, we would not have half the trouble we have at present. All parties should merge into one great party for the benefit of this country. I know that you, Mr. Chanter, have always taken a great interest in Central Australia. I was delighted to learn the other day that the Government had an offer from a South Australian firm, Messrs. Timms and Kidman, to construct the railway from Oodnadatta to the Northern Territory. If that offer can be taken advantage of, and tlie work authorized, it will be a fine achievement. If the work cannot be given to Timms and Kidman, it should bc undertaken, by the Government themselves. The offer, I understand, is similar to that made to the South Australian Government. We have it on record that some of the finest country in Australia is to be found in the Macdonnell Ranges and the Barkly Tablelands, and with a railway touching these areas we could add a new province to the Commonwealth. There would then be no difficulty about repatriating our soldiers. The honorable member who has just resumed his seat (Mr. Blakeley) has reminded us that if we ax-e to have this country properly settled we cannot do without railways. I thoroughly indorse that statement. We must have railways and postal facilities.
The honorable member for Cowper (Mr. John Thomson) will no doubt remember that when we were in England the late Lord Kitchener declared that the northsouth railway was one of those lines that were essential for the proper defence of Australia, “ because,” said he, “ you never know what is going to happen.” Since then a good deal which he did not expect has ‘happened. It is the duty of the Government to have that railway built, and I do not know of a better way than that proposed by Timms and Kidman. They have offered to construct the line on the land grant system and payment in Government bonds. I see no objection to that principle, because, if they get the land, they must improve it, stock it, and put people upon it, or else it will be of no value whatever to them. And when so improved, the land will be of taxable value at once. Therefore,’ the Government should lose no time in coming to a decision with regard to this offer. We will never be able to market our stock from Central Australia satisfactorily until we have the railway line. Stock at present start out in tip-top order, but very often they reach market in a poor condition. I am familiar with the country referred to by the honorable member for Darling, and I know that the people of the back country would like to have facilities for shifting their stock in times of drought. I might also mention that in Central Australia there are thousands of head of fat horses, which at present cannot be marketed. In some parts of the world the people are accustomed to horse-flesh for food, and they would be glad enough to get what Australia could spare. We have the chance of our’ lives now to get this line almost immediately, and I hope the Government will, at a very early date, go carefully into the matter, and, if they cannot build it themselves, they will allow Timms and Kidman to undertake the work.
With regard to repatriation, it is our clear duty to offer every inducement to young men to go upon the land.
– At £40’ per acre?
– Our soldiers are not being repatriated on .land at £40 per acre.
– Many soldiers have been put. on land valued at £40 per acre.
– Unless land is especially fertile, men would not take it at that figure ; but I can tell the honorable member that good dairying country would not be too dear at £40 per acre. One must be thoroughly conversant with the nature of the land, and all the conditions of settlement, before determining whether £40 per acre is a fair price or not.
– Unfortunately, the soldiers do not know all the conditions.
– A number of soldiers know perhaps a good deal more than the honorable member credits them with knowing. Very many of them have been brought up upon the land, and they know quite well how to work it. In my judgment some of the large estates that are being bought for subdivision should be kept intact for at least five years, the stock should be taken, and the estate worked in the interests of the soldiers to whom the land is to be allotted. These men should be allowed to work under supervision until they can demonstrate that they are capable of making a success of the business.
– Would you give them the land free of interest for that time?
– Yes, absolutely. Give them the land if you like. We could not give our soldiers too much. Immediately a soldier settles on the land he becomes a producer, and if he rears a family and makes a success of his occupation, he is cheap even if the land be given to him. At present the Government purchase and subdivide an estate, with the result that very often improvements are allowed to tumble down, rabbits get on to the land, and in a few years it is not worth within £1 per acre of what was paid for it. I am sure that in every district it is possible to get satisfactory valuations made for our soldiers. The honorable member for Macquarie could find men capable of valuing land for soldier settlement.
Mr.Nicholls. - I know of one case inwhich land was valued at £80, and the Government reduced the valuation to £40 per acre.
– Then the honorable member would not trust districtvaluators ?
– No, because they are all associated with land grabbers.
– The honorable member is not fair.
– We do not trust land sharks.
– They are not all land ‘sharks. Another matter essential to the welfare of Australia is increased production. We must get more producers on to the land, and we must also see that there is a market for their produce. The Prime Minister pointed out to-day that in other countries of the world greater attention is being paid to scientific farming, and I say that more could be done in this direction in Australia also. Before we can expect our people to go upon the land we must see that improved railway, telegraphic, and telephonic services are provided all over the country. The honorable member for Darling referred to a particularly serious matter when he mentioned that a town which had had mail communication for forty years had lately lost this convenience. It is ridiculous to expect people to remain contented in the country if these muchneeded facilities are denied to them. We should adopt the policy of the United States and Canada. We should build our railways and provide all the necessary conveniences. Population will certainly follow, and the country prosper. Though the early settlers of Australia endured great hardships there is no necessity nowadays for people to undergo any serious inconveniences. I believe the good sense of the country will soon be reflected in this House, and that one day we shall have a Government elected by the House to carry on business with the support of honorable members on both sides.
I hope the Peace Loan will be fully subscribed to, and that the Government will see that the money is wisely spent on behalf of our returned soldiers. I was pleased to hear the Prime Minister say to-day that Australia was not like other countries. From one end of the country to the other we are the same people, with the same ideals. We come from the grand old stock that achieved so much in the war. I was delighted at the Prime Minister’s references to the remarkable bravery of our soldiers and their achieve ments in the last great battle. We should be proud of the Australians, and we should do all we can to keep Australia a free country.
This afternoon the Government came in for a bit of slashing; at the hands of the Whip (Mr. John Thomson). He gave them plenty of “wood,” and I think he should have been whipping them all along. I know there is a great amount of splendid timber in the district represented by that honorable member, and I feel sure the Government only wanted this fact brought under their notice.
No man is of a more practical turn of mind than is the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Poynton), and I remind him that no good : is likely to come out of the present policy with regard to some of the internees in our camps. Many of these men have lived here for a great number of years, and I think they ought to be let out, under a bond, if necessary. Why should we go to the great expense of keeping them interned now that peace has come ? I hope the Assistant Treasurer will look into this matter, and see that these men are let out at once.
– I understand that all the Australian-born internees have been released.
– I am aware of that, but the Government are still keeping a few men, who have been settled in Australia for a great number of years. Why could they not be let out under a bond?
– Will you give me the names ?
– I shall have much pleasure in giving the name of one man to-morrow. I am pleased to know one of ‘them was released a little while ago; but a few are still being detained at great expense to the Government.
I hope the Government will take some notice of what I have said about Repatriation and the. North-South railway. I feel sure that in regard to the latter they will receive support from both sides of the House. The honorable member who preceded me knows a lot concerning backcountry difficulties, and I am sure that he and every honorable member who appreciates those difficulties would support a proposal to do here what is done in Canada and the United States of America, with the object of getting stock from Central Australia into the market in the very best condition.
– Idesire to ascertain when the Government propose to make available to honorable members the report of the Royal Commissioner appointed to inquire into the Melbourne waterside workers’ dispute. I believe that certain reforms have already been carried out in connexion with work on the water front here-; but no step has yet been taken to make muchneeded improvements on the Sydney water front. Now that the war is over, and we are beginning to reconstruct industry, it should be the desire of the Parliament and the Government to raise every industry to the highest pitch of efficiency. The handling costs of cargo in the ports of Sydney and Melbourne today, as the result of the employment of the so-called loyalists, are 33 per cent. higher than they were when the work was done by men who had been brought up in the industry, and were thoroughly familiar with it. The Government promise that they will take action to reduce the cost of living, and increasedproduction and greater efficiency are urged by them as a means by which the cost of living may be reduced. But while that is so, they are prepared to allow the employment of inefficient labour on the water fronts, and thus to have handling costs considerably inflated, for no other reason than to perpetuate a vendetta which they have established against the workers. There are two or three socalled unions whose members are operating on the Sydney water front to-day; but the Waterside Workers Union is the onlybona fide one. In the so-called loyalist union there are only some . 2.0.0 men, who came to the assistance of the Government in the 1917 strike. The remaining members of that union are those who, at the termination of the strike, were unable to secure reinstatement in their former occupations, and drifted on to the wharfs in search of employment. They are renegades from the genuine unions, and are commonly known as “ Jackies,” and sometimes by much harsher names.
In normal times the work offering on the Sydney water front provides employment for 2,000 men, and at the present time 60 per cent. of those so, employed are “ Jackies.” The Government are not doing a fair thing to the original wharf labourers by displacing so many of them, in order to find employment for others to whom they are under no obligation. The position is practically the same in regard to coaling work in the port of Sydney. In normal times over 600 men are employed in it. Of that number only forty are original loyalists; the remainder aye simply interlopers, who have displaced good unionists. The iona fide unionists- have to seek for work elsewhere, and their wives and families have to depend for their existence on whatever they can scratch up. The hardships, suffering, and misery endured by the wives and families of these iona fide unionists during the, last two years have been disclosed from time to time in newspaper reports dealing with the influenza epidemic. If the Government intend to do anything to remedy the present situation, they should at once take action. We certainly ought to have before us the report presented by Mr. Dethridge, the Royal Commissioner on the Melbourne waterside workers’ dispute. I am told that he suggests that a certain system should be adopted in Victoria. If he does, then the same system should- apply in New South Wales. We should thus get back to- normal conditions.
– I am quite satisfied, that” the wharf labourers would not accept what he recommends.
– I am informed that he recommends that the original loyalists should be given a distinguishing badge, and be granted preference of employment on the wharfs, and that after they have been provided for, iona fide members of the Waterside Workers Union and the Goal Lumpers Union should be employed:
– There is more than that involved. There is the question of the “ picking up “ place.
– But have I not stated the main features of the report?
– The Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) has the matter in hand.-
– The present system of “-picking up “ .is- scandalous. Under it a man is .treated as if he were a convict: He has to wait outside the bureau until he is “ called.” He is given a number and a badge, just as if he were* a dog or a horse. He is “ called,” not by his name, but by his number, and if he objects to- take a job’ that- will not extend over.- more than an hour his disc or badge is- taken from him, and- he has to walk the streets- in search of employment. That sort of thing should not exist in Australia. Have we reached such a stage in the industrial affairs of the Common wealth that a worker has to be the most servile and abject of creatures? It makes one’s heart bleed to see men crowding in what is known as Vinegar-lane, Sydney, from early morn until late at night waiting for their names to ‘be called for a job. Whenever they see an employer of labour approaching they rush him to. obtain a few hours’ work, so that they may have the wherewithal to1 buy. bread for their families. Such conditions r should not operate in this country. Men’should be- free, to accept or to refuse) work. If a man- wants work on a wharf., he should have only to attend at the gate, and employers should be free toselect, there those whom they desire to employ. Why should men have to stand , outside the Labour Bureau all day, .and be subjected to the ridicule of those who. control it? The sooner we put an end* to this state of affairs the better.
– Hear, hear ! It is onlybreeding discontent.
– That is so. We hear much of Bolshevism nowadays, and I candidly say that if I had to submit to such a system as that which I have just’ described I should soon become a Bolshevik. I should feel inclined to buy a gun; . and to point it at the first man that came along.
This is the only class of employment in. which men have to go to a bureau to> secure an engagement. Lam surprised that i practically 4,000 strong,, able-bodied men. in Sydney should be- prepared to submit! to such conditions. To my mind, they are fools to put up with them. For. years r prior to the strike of 1917 work on the* Sydney wharfs had been carried out. under certain conditions- which were by, no means altogether favorable to the men. With the coming of the strike a new body of men from country districts* stepped in, with the avowed object of assisting the Government to break the* strike, and’, having done so, they returned1 to their homes. Many of them were’ actuated by a spirit’ of patriotism. They came down to work- on the wharfs, thinking that the wharf labourers and otherswere holding up shipping and preventing’ the sending of foodstuffs to our men at; the Front.
– They also desired to assist in getting their own produce to market.
– A few weeks ago I put to the Minister in charge, of: shipping; what was intended to be a catch question, with the object of ascertaining how many troops left Australia during the two months before the strike, the two months during which it continued, and the two months following the settlement of the strike. The reply which I received showed that during the actual strike period more oversea ships left Australian ports than during either the two months immediately preceding or succeeding it. Thus it cannot be said that the strikers held up our oversea shipping. The coastal trade was .certainly held up.
– And the fathers of these soldiers were interested in the coastal shipping because of their desire to get their produce to market.
– At all events, there is no strike at present. The seamen are prepared to man the ships, and the supply of foodstuffs in our’ cool stores to-day is greater than ever it was. The trouble is that there is a shortage of shipping.
– According to the honorable member’s 1 argument, the greater the number of strikes the fewer the disabilities.
– Not at all. Government supporters say that strikes hold lip industry. My experience is that in nine cases out of ten those who are conducting our various industries seize upon a strike as a pretext for inflating prices, and having put them up never reduce them.
– If the honorable member were a farmer, and knew that some, of his perishable products were held up at the wharfs, would he not assist to get them away to market?
– I have just said that a good many men came from the country to work on the Sydney wharfs for that reason. I am not blaming those men who, when the strike was” over, returned to their homes. But there are on the wharfs to-day many so-called loyalists who did not come to the assistance of the Government during the strike period, yet are receiving the same preference that is given to those who did. They are not loyalists in the true sense of the word; they are simply “ scabs,” who are taking the bread and butter out of the mouths of iona fide unionists.
– Is the honorable member referring to the loyalist work men who “ stuck to the job,” and saw the strike through, at a time when we wished to send troops to the other side.
– I am not referring to the genuine loyalist workers, of whom there are only some 244 employed on the Sydney water-front at the present time, to do the work which is done in normal times by more than 2,000 individuals^ The Government are prepared to do for these men what they are not prepared to do for the bond fide unionists. If a member of the original Wharf Labourers Union were to ask for some of the conditions which the loyalists are enjoying to-day he would be deported as an anarchist. Need I remind honorable members that, in Sydney, there is a building which was formerly known as “ The Model Lodging House.” It was built by the Government for the purpose of housing aged and infirm persons. When the old-age pension was granted, the opportunity was seized upon by many old persons to go and live at this establishment. It is a large building about ten stories high, and contains a number of flats together, with ample provision for cooking. &c. These old people made this place their home. But when the wharf labourers’ strike occurred, and the Government desired a place in which to house the so-called “ loyalists,” they seized upon the Model Lodging House. Some of its inmates were sent to various Government institutions, whilst others had to shift for themselves as best they could. The Government practically reconstructed the building, converted it into a sort of model club, installed billiard tables, shower baths, and, indeed, every modern convenience.
– They put plenty of beer in it, too.
– I do not know that. But I do know that the place was practically reconstructed throughout. The socalled loyalists live in this club, and pay about 15s. weekly for their board and lodging. If a bond fide unionist asked for. similar concessions he would probably be deported. Under an award of the Arbitration Court a wharf labourer must be paid ls. 9d. for an hour’s work, whilst for a week of forty-four hours his earnings amount to £4 ls. Yet these loyalists are paid only £3 3s. 6d. for a week of . forty-four hours. The difference between the award of the Arbitration Court and the wage which they receive is appropriated by the employer for the purpose of establishing an unemployment benefit fund, so that whether these loyalists work or not they receive their wages. They are thus evading the award of the Court. They are doing for £3 odd per week what another man would get more than £4 for doing, and their employer, as a true philanthropist, has established an unemployment fund out of their own earnings. This sort of thing ought to be stopped. The exporters and the farmers of this country are being fleeced by reason of the increased cost of handling goods at the water front. It costs 33 per cent. more to handle cargo to-day than it did a few years’ ago. I will guarantee to get together a gang of wharf labourers, or a gang of lumpers, belonging to the old union, and to effect a saving of 33 per cent. on the cost of handling or discharging goods carried by any vessel. Some eighteen months ago I pointed out what happened in the case of a ship which had been engaged in loading wool. I stressed the fact that she was wasting space that would accommodate two bales of wool in every “ half longer.” That was a wilful waste which could, and should, have been prevented. If we desire efficiepcy and wish to get the best price for our primary products on the other side of the world we must study freights and handling charges. The lower these freights and charges, the better will it be for the producer. There are unionists on the water front to-day who are unable to get work, and there are many women and children dependent upon them who are literally starving. Numbers of these women have to depend on charity for a subsistence. There is no justification for the existence of such conditions in a country like Australia. Most of the loyalists are young men who are quite able to go out into the country and battle for themselves. On the other hand, many of our unionists have been battling on the water front for a livelihood for thirty years and more. I will guarantee that 85 per cent, of the loyalists are single men.
– How many of them enlisted?
– All they believed in was the smashing of trade unionism.
– Yes; and as a result they have earned the gratitude of the Government, who will, no doubt, provide for them in the workhouse in their old age. The Government by their action have created a combine. They are assisting this bogus organization. In Sydney a unionist dare not open his mouth lest he be blackballed from one end of the country to the other. There is only one cargo-handling company in the city which I have mentioned - namely, the Port Jackson Stevedoring Company Limited - which has a capital of £10,000 in shares of £1 each. It has been established to undertake the stevedoring work of the Adelaide Steam ship Company, A.U. S.N. Company, Australian Steam-ships, Huddart Parker, Mcllwraith McEacharn’s line, Union Steam-ship Company of New Zealand, and Melbourne Steam-ship Company. Each of these companies holds 500 shares. The directors of the concern are Messrs. B. N. Black, B. B. Murdock, T. L. Webb, V. Johnson, H. M. Blair, T. Tyrer, and J. Kelso.
– That is a Combine straight away.
– It certainly is a Combine. This stevedoring company is practically working in conjunction with the Government in the employment of these loyalists. This company represents all the principal steam-ship companies in Australia, so that if a unionist gets into disfavour with it he is boycotted in every State, and there is no chance for him to earn a livelihood’. Something should be done by the Government to alter this condition of affairs. Here is a facsimile of an application card for employment. It requires the following, information : -
Name of applicant in full. Where living. Age. Married or single. If married, number of children. Name of previous employer. Length of service.
– What is that for?
– It is the form of application for a job on the wharf. It asks also for information as to -
Date and reason for leaving. Capacity in which employed. References. Name of union, if any.
That is the system which was introduced by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) in the latter part of 1917, when he went through the country asking for the establishment of this bureau. He is responsible for the creation of the bureau and for the introduction of this form of application for employment. Anybody who wishes to see ‘the statutory declarations which had to be made at that time should consult Hansard of January, 1918, page 3064. There they will get all the information they require.
I congratulate the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) upon looking so well. The workers of Australia, who are particularly interested in his Department, are considerably worse off to-day than they were when he left. for England. The. honorable gentleman will probably remember that prior to his departure I interviewed him in the Commonwealth offices, Sydney, in regard to the Coal Board. He then promised that the matter to which I directed attention would be remedied. Yet it is much worse now than it was then. I wish that he would take it into his . serious consideration. To-day I interviewed Senator Millen in regard to the same subject, and he promised to see Admiral Clarkson concerning it to-morrow. I told him that now that the Minister for the Navy had returned to Australia he would probably have a little time at his disposal, and would doubtless be glad to assist in remedying the grievances which exist to-day. I trust that the honorable gentleman will go into the whole .question of the coaling of vessels in New South Wales. As they have suffered under disabilities for two years, something should be done to remedy the grievances of the wharf labourers. If the Minister for the Navy will take up the matter in all sincerity I feel quite sure that something effective will be done.
Senator Millen has also promised to go into the question, and I am hopeful that some good will result from hi3 action. The destitution which exists in the waterside cities of Australia is truly appalling, and the evidence which has been given by benevolent societies and the headmasters of State schools before the Commission which is inquiring into the housing problem and the cost of living is of a revolting character. We are told of women with four or five children, two or three of whom are perhaps running about clothed only in old bags, while all are compelled to sleep upon old newspapers. It is time that something was done to remedy such conditions. We say that we have fought during this war to make the world safe for Democracy, and bring about a new civilization. I think it is nearly time. If it does not come about, if nothing is done, to alter the existing state of things, there is not the shadow of a doubt this country will be faced with as bloody a revolution as the people of Russia are experiencing to-day.
-The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- In this Supply Bill, providing for an expenditure of over £6,000,000, there is nothing to indicate that the Government are prepared to carry on any work at Canberra. Honorable members ought not to allow this Bill to pass without entering a strong protest against the Government’s policy in regard to the very important work of developing the Federal Capital. It is very nice for Ministers to talk about the money they are spending on repatriation, and in paying sustenance allowance to keep our soldiers walking about the streets until they find employment; but the best way in which to employ them is to engage in a policy of reproductive works. The Commonwealth is paying huge rentals to private owners for office accommodation in Melbourne and’ other cities, while at Canberra we have hundreds of thousands of acres granted to us by the State of New South Wales, and others added by . purchase, which are lying idle. There is no provision in this Supply Bill for carrying on public works there upon which our soldiers could be employed. . In fact, the Government’s policy seems to be nothing but a series of promises without any attempt at performance. I can assure Ministers that the people of New South Wales have their eyes very definitely fixed upon their attitude towards the Federal Capital and the employment of soldiers there, and if the Government think they can deceive those people they are making a very big mistake.
We are told that Ministers are anxious to go in for a system of building houses for soldiers; in fact, this House has authorized the expenditure of nearly £50,000,000 for that purpose. But to-night we have had no statement from the Minister (Mr. Poynton) as to what has been done in the matter. I do not believe that half-a-dozen houses have been built. “We have been- informed that it is proposed to import doors, windows, and timber from America, although we have in the Commonwealth a great supply of our own timber which would be available for the purpose if only properly handled. However, our timbers are under the control of a Combine, and I regret that the Government are not strong enough to fight them. We ought to be able to go into our own forests, put up our own mills, and get all the timber required for soldiers’ homes at a reasonably cheap price. The Repatriation Department sends out lots of literature to the ships telling the returning soldiers what it is proposed to do for them, but so far very few houses have been built, and the men who make application to the Department for assistance have to waste so much time, and go through so much red tape, that they become disgusted, and throw the whole thing to the winds. Instead of paying these men sustenance money, it- would, be much better for the Government to proceed with a public works policy and find employment for them at their various trades and callings! In that- way they would be more quickly absorbed into the normal avenues of life.
The Randwick Hospital, which is in my electorate, is so overcrowded that returned men requiring medical attention have-been told to become out-door patients, but as they only draw their military pay, which in the case of a private is only 6s. per day, with ls-, per day deferred, how can- they find food for themselves and their families with the present high cost of living ? It would be only fair for the Government to give them a ration allowance, but- this allowance has been cut off, causing a great deal of discontent amongst the soldiers who aTe compelled to be out-door patients. When I brought the matter before the Assistant Minister, for Defence (Mr. Wise),, he said that there was plenty of room in the hospital, and that food was provided there for the patients ; hut a. man who is living in his own home and attending a hospital as an out-door patient is not likely to get up in the morning and go to Randwick for his breakfast, and return there for his dinner and tea. A more economical method would be fox the Department to pay the men- the ration allowance - I think it is: 2s. Id. per day - and allow them to have: their food in their own homes.
Provision is made in the Bill. for. £5,000 for the development of oil fields im Papua. Each Supply Bill brought forward has contained a similar item, and the development of the oil resources of Papua has been going on for quite a number of years, yet we have really no definite information’ as to what has been done. The time has arrived when there should be some finality about the matter. A couple of years back we passed a Bounty Bill to encourage the production of oil within the Commonwealth,, and we were under the impression that it would induce people to produce kerosene oil, but the only result has been that Mr. John Fells’ has drawn a large amount of money im the shape of a bonus for producing a raw crude oil which is made use of by the” Sydney Gas Company, the North Shore:Gas Company, and gas companies in New Zealand. The Commonwealth is paying’ a bonus to one firm to produce a raw oil) for the benefit of wealthy corporations’, which can afford to buy coal. That wasnot the intention of this Parliament. I have drawn the attention of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) to-‘ this leakage, but he has not seen fit to) take any action in the matter.
The Prime Minister has been saying, a great deal about what he is going to> do: with the profiteer in this country. ThisSupply Bill afforded him an opportunity of making provision for the establishment of a Board of Control which might inaugurate a system of regulating profits^, but I fail to find in it any indication of the Government’s intentions in regard to* profiteering. I am .with any attempt to’ fight the profiteer, and I believe the House is also, because at every opportunity honorable members have advocated dealing with the profiteer. Ministers talk about doing so on every occasion, but what we want is not talk, but action. On. the 1st August last there were 50,000 tons of meat in cold storage in Australia awaiting export. All our, refrigerating space is filled, and the meat exporters aTe crying out for shipping, yet the people of the country aTe asked to pay exceedingly high prices for meat. I”. have a list of retail prices prevailing today compared with those which were asked” in 1914, when the Labour party were in power, as I hope they will soon be again for the sake of the public. For the information of the Committee I shall read the following comparison of prices: -
These figures show that since the present Government came into power the price of meat has gradually increased. Although the cool stores are filled to the doors, we are still called upon to pay increased prices for meat. The Government propose to do . nothing. If they want to relieve -the situation, they can take the meat out of cool storage - they say it belongs to the British Government - and pay the British Government what they bought it for. Then they can distribute it among the people here, and later on, when the British Government are able to ship away supplies, they can make good what has been used.
The Government make no attempt to relieve the public, either in that matter or in regard to boots and leather. They are allowing the leather industry of Australia to be almost paralyzed. American buyers are purchasing wholesale, and our local men cannot compete against them. The hides are being exported to America, and Americans are now trading with Germany. I believe the Prime Minister was sincere in saying that he will not trade with Germany; but that is what is going on all the same, with the result that the people of this country are called on to pay, at a moderate estimate, anything from 30 to 50 per cent, more for their boots. What are the Government going to do about it?
– Why don’t you quote the prices they are paying for the same articles in the United States of America?
– Why make a compari son with America? We have plenty of raw material in this country, and ! America is buying it from us. Why should we make a comparison with Great Britain, whose trade was. practically stopped for a long period by hostile submarines ?
– The comparison with the United States of America is a fair one.
– It is not. We have not started to trade with Germany, but America has, and can afford to pay big prices. The Government have a golden opportunity, before this Bill passes, to say what they are going to do to protect the public from paying high prices for food, clothing and boots. Are they going to push this Bill through, and go to the country, telling the people that they want power to deal with profiteering? They have the power now. The war will not be over until the Peace Treaty has been ratified, but the Government are not using their War Precautions powers.
I take strong exception to the fact that the Government have not announced any . policy, or put any money on the Estimates, for the building of the Federal City, in order to keep the compact with the State of New South Wales, and comply with the terms of the Constitution. I object, also, to the Government making no provision to deal with the profiteer. The public must be protected from profiteering. We also object to the Government allowing our primary industries to be strangled, as they are being, so far as fellmongery and leather are concerned.
I protest, also, against the treatment of the big wool- too industry in my electorate, which could have been producing hundreds of thousands of pounds of profit for the Government. Sir John Higgins, , who is the ruler of this country, so far as the wool industry is concerned, seems to have a prejudice against Mr. F. W. Hughes, who promoted the industry in my district. The works have been closed for about nine months, with the best of machinery standing idle, and the hands out of employment, although there is a great demand for wool tope all over the world. The Government, or the Wool Board, will not allow the industry to go on until the law case is settled. I hope that the Prime Minister and the Minister for the Navy will not wait till the law is set in motion before they settle the question. The industry should be put on a working basis again, and the employees given work. There is a dispute about profits, and that is causing the delay. I believe that if those two Ministers had remained here the industry would hae been going on, and I am sure that when the Prime Minister, knows the facts the works will be re-started. I hope the Government will see that the industry gets a fair chance to produce, not only wool tops, but also cloth. I believe they have the machinery already for weaving. When that is started it will be one of the biggest industries in this country. I protest against the way it has been treated, and, in the circumstances, if an opportunity arises to move amendments in certain directions which I have indicated, I shall cast my vote in such a way as to obtain, if possible, a satisfactory statement from the Government on the matter.
I ask the Government to be straightforward to the House. Are they prepared to tell the House their policy regarding the Tariff ? We have a right to know whether we are to be allowed to deal with it this session. I have communications from numbers of manufacturers who are anxious to know when the Tariff is coming on. It would be very convenient to me if I could tell them that it will not be brought on until after the next election. The people want this country to be self-contained, to produce all its own requirements, and, if possible, to export manufactures to other countries. We cannot do that until we have a Tariff on scientific lines. We cannot do it if Australia is to be open for another twelve months to the goods of Japan and other countries which have not beenmuch disturbed by the war, and whose factories are up-to-date. We must have a proper scientific Tariff, or the industries of this country and the people will suffer.’ It is our duty to look ahead. We were told while the war was on that it was the duty of Parliament to find new avenues of labour to absorb the men when they came back from the Front. Will any Minister or Government supporter point to a single new avenue of labour opened during the war that will absorb our men ? The facilities for shipbuilding have been increased. That is good policy, and I commend ‘ the Acting Minister for the Navy (Mr. Poynton) for the energy he put into the matter, and the large number of men employed; but that is not a new industry. The Commonwealth Woollen Mills, at Geelong, have justified their existence^ they are a credit to the country, and have turned out cloth for uniforms of a quality that was worthy of the men who wore them. There is no necessity for those mills to go on turning out khaki. Why cannot the Government set them to work to manufacture tweeds for public use, and bring the price of ordinary suits of clothes within the reach of ordinary people? It is no good to keep a large factory there unless we make use of it, and the Governmentshould state their intentions in the matter. Figures have been quoted to the House to show that the mills can make sufficient good quality cloth, under the best conditions, for 30s. to make a suit for a man. Yet our men, when they come back from the Front, are compelled to pay 8, 9, and 10 guineas for a suit of clothes. Some of my friends have asked what Parliament is doing to protect them, when, after going away to fight for the Commonwealth for 6s. a day, they return to find that they are compelled to pay those exorbitant prices for clothing. The same applies to boots and many other articles. The men are not fools; they see that they are being- “ had “ when they come back; and they, know that their families have been made to suffer while they were away. .The Government can help them by reducing the high cost of clothing in the way I have indicated. The tweed, when made, should not go into the ordinary warehouses. We ought to establish a warehouse of our own, and supply the tailors with small quantities. That will bring down the price of clothing, and is a practicable scheme. The Government, also, have facilities to turn out boots. They can beat the profiteers ‘ only by competing with them. In the interests of the community they should give early attention to these matters, and . make a pronouncement now of what they are going to do.
From all over my electorate I am receiving complaints about the sudden removal .of letter-boxes that halve been established at certain corners for fifteen and twenty years. When I make inquiries, I am told that this has been done in compliance with the policy of the Department or of the Postmaster-General, While I give the honorable gentleman credit for trying to make money for his Department and for any savings he has made, the convenience of the public should be considered. Too many of these boxes in thickly-populated districts, where large numbers of letters are posted, have been removed without warning, and
I can get no satisfaction. I blame not the Postmaster-General, but his officers-:.
– I will take the blame.. I do not pass any blame on to my officers.
– The Postmaster-General cannot know every box that is removed, or why.
– I do know, and I have told the honorable member so.
– No man can know all the boxes that have been moved.
– Why was the box removed from the corner of Madden-grovo and Stawell -street, in . Richmond ?
– To put it in the right place.
– These are small matters, but they are very important to the people who use the boxes. It is an easy matter to save money in a Department by depriving, the public of facilities, but that is not economy. Even if a few letter-boxes are removed from a certain area, a man is still employed going around on a bicycle to collect the letters. I do not’ see that anything is saved unless the: boxes are wanted’ in a new district.
Prosecutions under War Precautions Act- Defects in “Speedway” - De- portationofenemyaliens -gene- ral Election .
Motion (bySir Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- On the. 29th. August, before the recent adjournment in connexion with the return of the Prime Minister from Europe, the Acting Leader of the Government (Mr. Groom) submitted a report for which I had called in regard to prosecutions under the War Precautions Act. It is a very extensive document, dealing, with 3,474 cases, and conveys a lot of useful information. The Minister stated that it had been compiled, at considerable cost and trouble; and I. ask the present Leader of the . House (Sir Joseph Cook) if the Government are prepared to have the report printed for circulation. Obviously, it is of no use in its present typewritten form. Although I had called for the. return, and waited for it for about nine months, I saw it for only about ten minutes: Its value is lost if it is. not reproduced in such a form that it will be available to any. honorable member at any time? It could be printed at very; little cost, and then would-be useful.
– Then it is for use?
Mr.FINLAYSON. - It is- for use and’ information. There is no member of” the House who would not find it a most useful document. Will the Government consider the matter of having it printed for circulation? If not, I shall endeavour, by inviting a resolution of the House, to accomplish the same purpose.
– As the honorable member desires the report for use, I shall see what we can do.
.- . I am glad that the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) is back, and I hope that he is in good temper, and will apply himself to amending all the. wrong things that have been done in his Department. I am not complaining of- the administration of the Acting Minister for the Navy (Mr. Poynton). I have here a block of spruce timber cut from the second plank below, the load; line of the Speedway, one of the new ships recently sent from America to the order, of. the Commonwealth Government. Honorable members can see how the wood is bored through and- through, by the teredo. If-, the contract for the construction of the ship- was made by an officer of the Navy Department or by duly accredited’ agents in America; the men who supervised the construction in the interests of the Government must have neglected their duty. If spruce, which is generally used for making light boxes, was used instead of good sound oregon, the Government should have some right of action against the contractors. I understand that the Speedway was fitted up, and went outside the Heads, but has returned,, and that a contract is now being let to refit the vessel at a cost of something like £3,000. This has happened within the last few weeks. I have previously cautioned, the Department about the unseaworthiness of three ships, and my warnings have proved only, too well-founded. Two of them left. Hobart, and were wrecked, but, fortunately, with no loss of life. They should not have been allowed to go to sea. The last vessel in regard to which I uttered a warning was theJohn Murray, which also was unfit to be sent to sea. ‘ I know that her previous captain would not have taken her outside the Heads. But the admiral of the House, the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Boyd) thought that a certain expenditure on the ship would make her safe. I, however, warned the Government that if the John Murray met bad weather, she would be lost. That prophecy has been verified. If these new ships that are being built in America are in the condition indicated by this piece of wood, they should not be allowed to go outside the Heads. I ask the Minister for the Navy to get the Law Department to peruse the contract for the construction of the ships, and if spruce has been substituted for oregon, and there is justice in the United States of America, the Government should have a good case for damages for breach of contract.
– I ask the honorable member to send me a copy of his remarks.
Mr.GROOM. (Darling Downs - Minister for Works and Railways) [10.5]. - Recently, when this House discussed the deportation of enemy aliens, honorable members mentioned the names of several persons who were said to have been deported against their will. I subsequently gave to the House particulars concerning two of those persons. Another case was mentioned toy the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan)., and I asked him to supply me with the name, so that inquiries could be made as to the facts.I have received a report on the matter, which I havealready conveyed to the honorable member,and I shall read it to the House, omitting the name of the person concerned -
– I shall he obliged if the Deputy Leader of the Government (Sir Joseph Cook) will give the House a confirmation or denial of the statement which has been made in the press that the Government contemplate an early appeal to the country, and that polling day will be the 6th December. I think the honorable gentleman will . agree that the House and the country oughtto be informed at the earliest possible moment of the intentions of the Government in this regard. The Government have in this House fifty- two supporters as against an Opposition of twenty-three; and we ought to know if they intend to throw away nine months of valuable time, in which they might carry out their promises to the soldiers and the people in regard to the amendment of the Tariff in order to more effectively protect Australian industries.
– Ah !
– The honorable gentleman greets that statement with laughter.
-No; but I remember having heard something of the kind from the honorable member before.
– And I have previously pointed out that the honorable gentleman, being a Free Trader, cannot possibly introduce a Protectionist Tariff. Are the Government engaged in a conspiracy? Does the Prime Minister and his Deputy Leader believe that because theyhave come back from England, and have been received with an extraordinary welcome, they can exploit the public sentiment and get back to office for another three years ?
– There is no doubt about that!
-Is there no doubt about their getting back for another three years? The Prime Minister may think he can fool the public, but I do not think he can. There are yet nine solid months in which the Government may carry out their promises. They cannot hope to increase their majority, and the Deputy Leader (Sir Joseph Cook) has admitted that Australian industries are being subjected to fierce competition now. We on this side know the Prime Minister, and we are preparing for an election ; our candidates in nearly every constituency have been selected. We do not mind when the election comes, and we know that the longer the present Government are in office the more surely they will be removed at the next election.
Lt.- Colonel Abbott. - You are sorry you lost the. Prime Minister!
– Are you pleased you have got him?
– My word!
– I do not know that you are pleased. We wish to know whether the Prime Minister proposes to exploit the public sentiment so as to get back into office for another three years? The right honorable gentleman says that he is going to damn the profiteers, and would shoot them if he had the power. This House will help him to protect Australian industries.
– He cannot get a gun until the Constitution is amended.
– To what extent does the Prime Minister propose to amend the Constitution? Will the Tory party opposite bring forward a Bill with that object?
– If we do, we will look for your support.
– Naturally, we on this side will help you to amend the Constitution so as to protect Australian industries. I hope the Deputy Leader of the Government (Sir Joseph Cook) will tell us whether he is engaged in a conspiracy to exploit the public sentiment.
– Order !
– Is that not parliamentary?
– The honorable member knows it is not.
– Then I withdraw the expression and ask whether it is the intention’ of the Government to go to the country before they amend the Tariff in order to protect Australian industries? Is it intended to go to the country so that the Prime Minister and his colleagues may not prove to the public, as they undoubtedly will if they remain is office, that they are unable to carry out the promises they made ? I hope that the Deputy Leader of the Government, in his reply, will be as candid as he very often is. Let us hope that his experience amongst the diplomats of Europe has not inclined him in favour of secret diplomacy, but that he will let us know what is in the mind of the Government.
– I do not know what reply I can make to the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs), who, by the way, I see has, in my absence, been appointed Deputy Leader of the Opposition. I congratulate the honorable member on that distinction, and hope he will have a good time in his office.
– And enjoy it for long.
– I hope the honorable member will for many years be Deputy Leader of the Opposition. As to the date of the general election, I un derstand that my honorable friends, opposite knowall about it; they even know the exact day and hour when this great appeal is to be made. I have only to say that Iknow nothing about the 6th December except that it isthe day before my birthday. However, it isa long way off yet, and why should my honorable friend opposite trouble himself so much about the election? If. all the candidates are already selected for the constituencies ‘in which he is so keenly interested, why should he mind when the election comes? He tells us that he cannot be surprised - that honorable members oppositeknow all about the doings of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), and that theyare ready for any emergency. Why trouble about the day and nour appointed for the great appeal? I advise the honorable member not to trouble himself very much about the matter. The day willcome in due time, as all things do; there is a time appointed for all things, and in due time both he and I will appeal for a renewal of the confidence of the people. That is all I can say about that matter at the moment, and I hope the honorable member will believe that I am quite candid.
And now about the Tariff. “What is the use of the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) addressing me on the subject of the Tariff? He began by saying that he knew that I cannot do, and will not do, anything about it. Is he not, therefore, wasting his breath in addressing me on the subject? The honorable member says he knows that I am a Free Trader; and, by the way, I have road something to that effect in the London newspapers. The honorable member was so anxious that the people of England and of the world should know that I was a Free Trader that he took the trouble to write a long and interesting letter to the English press telling the people of the Old World that I was a Free Trader.
– He wanted to make you popular!
– I suppose so. I. did not know that the honorable member for Capricornia was such a great friend of mine as he turns out to be. I have no doubt the Tariff will be attended to in its appointed time. There is, they
Bay, a time for everything undeT the sun; so there isa time for the Tariff Just when that will be I cannot tell the honorable member at the moment; and I suggest to him, as a matter of public policy, that it might be worth his while to give notice of a question on the subject. Such a question might be answered by the Minister for Trade and Customs or by the Prime Minister. I make this suggestion to him for his own peace of mind. I know that tho honorable member is anxious to protect the industries of Australia; but one really wonders why these industries should need all this protecting after so many years of office of my honorable friend and his Labour followers, which have always been so solicitous about the industries of Australia - when in Opposition.
– That is too thin!
– But is it not as I say?
– No; we are the only decent party in that regard.
– My own impression, for what it is worth, is that my honorable friends opposite, during the whole, time they held the reins of government, never introduced a Tariff of any kind.
– The honorable gentleman is quite wrong; a Tariff was introduced by Mr. Tudor.
– That, I believe, has always been left to other people.
– No, the honorable gentleman is wrong.
– Shall I put it in this way : That my honorable friends opposite have introduced a Tariff-
– The honorable gentleman has improved in temper.
– I wish to get at the facts. The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) insists that the party opposite have introduced Tariffs. Have those Tariffs, then, been of such a character-
Dr.Maloney. - The whole thing has been a fraud ever since we came here. We promised that we would have a Protectionist Tariff, and we have never had it.
– Then that is the kind of Tariff my honorable friends opposite have introduced !
– They have all been a fraud up to the present.
– My honorable friends opposite either did introduce a Tariff or they did not. My impression is that the party with which my honorable friends are’ associated never took upon itself the responsibility of introducinga Tariff in this country. I am not criticising that fact just now, but only stating it. It does strike one as a little inconsistent in the circumstances that the honorable member for Capricornia, who never, when over on this side of the House, troubled very much about the Tariff, should seem to be so tremendously concerned about it now.
– There were too many of the honorable gentleman’s way of thinking in the party when we introduced the Tariff.
– I am addressing myself to the honorable’ member’s Deputy Leader. I cannot understand why the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) should assail me in this way, and perhaps I had better resume my seat. .
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.23 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 10 September 1919, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1919/19190910_reps_7_89/>.