7th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. W. Elliot Johnson) took . the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
Bill returned from. Senate without request.
– I ask the Acting. Treasurer whether there is any truth in the statement, reported from Kalgoorlie,, that the threat of compulsion in regard to the peace loan is likely to interfere with the notation of companies for the development of the new gold-field at Hampton Plains?
– I have seen the statement to which the honorable member refers, but I hardly have time to chase bogies of that character. I am not in a position to say whether or not there is any truth in the statement. A law is. proposed which provides for the application of compulsion if loans are not fully subscribed voluntarily, and I intend to ask the House to give effect to it. For ‘a considerable time company flotations have been subject to the permission of the Treasurer, and, although that control has been relaxed, it still exists to some extent I shall endeavour to ascertain full particulars for the honorable member.
– Will the Prime Minister relieve the feelings of the parents and families of the seamen who are suffering imprisonment on account of the trouble that occurred on H.M.A.S. Australia some time ago by stating what steps he is taking to secure the release of those men?
– I know nothing of this trouble except what I read in the press in England, and what I was told in Sydney by the parents of the men concerned. They set out the position to me quite clearly; I quite understand it. I stated my views to the parents; they quite understand them. The matter is now receiving my personal attention, together with that of my colleague, the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook), and I shall make an announcement on the subject as early as possible.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs if regulations have just been issued providing that hides and leather shall not be exported until the local tanners and boot manufacturers have been supplied at the market price? If so, is it not a fact that this regulation will permit speculators to fix the prices according to the rates ruling abroad? In what way will this policy reduce the price of boots to the public?
– The object of the regulation is to make as certain as is possible that the manufacturers in Australia shall be supplied with the raw material they need before any of it is exported.
Anzac Hand-woven Tweeds.
– Yesterday, in an swer to questions asked on the previous day by the honorable member for Grampians (Mr. Jowett) and the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) regarding the Anzac tweed industry, I made a full statement containing eight paragraphs. The report published in the Age to-day contains only four of those paragraphs, and I complain of the attitude of that journal, inasmuch as its representative was the only one who received a copy of my statement. As the Age has been criticising the Government in respect of the Anzac tweed industry, I think it only fair that when an explanation is made by a Minister, the newspaper should publish it in its entirety or not at all. In this instance, by omitting four of the paragraphs, the Age suppressed the vital part of my statement.
– Has the Minister for Trade and Customs received the approval of his colleagues for the sudden placing of a duty of 30 per cent. on picks and shovels, thus placing a considerable tax on navvies, farmers, and others engaged in primary industries?
– I did not place any duty on picks and shovels; Parliament did that.
– Has not the Minister transferred spades and shovels from one class to another of the Tariff, thus imposing upon them a duty of 30 per cent. that otherwise would not have been chargeable?
– If the honorable member will give notice of that question for the next day of sitting I shall give a full and complete explanation of what Parliament has done.
– Will the Prime Minister state what steps have been taken by the Government to secure representation of the trade unions of Australia at the International Labour Conference? After the representatives of the trade unions and the employers have been chosen, will the Prime Minister allow the Labour party of Australia to nominate one of the other delegates?
– I stated yesterday that the organized Labour bodies have been communicated with directly. They, and nobody else, will make the selection.
– This House has a great deal of work to do, and much time is occupied in asking questions without notice which do not relate to matters of urgency, and of which notice ought to be given. Therefore, unless honorable members desire information on matters of urgent and vital interest, I ask them to give notice of all questions.
– I ask the Minister for Home and Territories what steps are being taken to encourage land settlement in the Northern Territory?
– I shall be glad to give the honorable member full details later. I have just adjourned a conference on the subject with some men who hold large areas in the Territory. We are to resume our deliberations to-morrow.
-I direct the attention of the House to the request of the Prime Minister that notice be given of all questions that are not of an urgent character. Obviously, if honorable members persist in asking questions of which notice should be given, and Ministers are willing to answer those questions without notice, whether or not they are urgent, I shall be placed in a difficult position, for I do not see how I can give effect to the desire of the Prime Minister unless honorable members assist me.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The matter was brought before me recently by the executive of the Returned Soldiers Association, and I promised to give it immediate attention.
Remission of Penalties
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether, in of the published statement made in a speech at Fremantle that he would forgive a “ digger “ anything except bigamy or murder, he will take the necessary steps to have remitted to those men who have forfeited pay for offences committed on active service the money which is being stopped by the Defence authorities on their discharge?
– I have not seen the report of the alleged statement. The Returned Soldiers Association can approach the Defence Department, or me direct, in relation to all their grievances.
asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
Whether the return which was tabled on the 29th August last, showing details of prosecutions under the War Precautions Act, &c, may be printed and circulated for the information of honorable members?
– In view of the present need for economy, I do not propose to move that the return be printed.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
When will the price of wheat charged to millers for home consumption be raised to at least 5s. 6d. per. bushel, seeing that export value for flour is8s. or more?
– An announcement on this matter will be made at an early date.
asked the Minister Controlling Shipping, upon notice -
– Theanswers to the honorable member’s questions are: -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of the recommendation of the Commission appointed by the Victorian Government to inquire into the high cost of living, viz.: - That the Government obtain legislative authority to control commodities at the moment the Commonwealth war control ceases - will he state, seeing that the Government still has the power to regulate prices, what it is intended to do to protect the people from profiteers ?
– The Government policy in this matter will be announced at an early date.
Furlough to. Retiring Officers - Temporary Employees - Superannuation
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are: -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice-^
Whether he will have a return compiled showing, in each Department, the number of temporary public servants at. present in the employment, of the Commonwealth Government who were classified as “ temporary “ prior to August, 1014?
-I am afraid the compiling of the return asked for by the honorable member would involve a considerable amount of time and money; but I will make inquiries and see if it is possible to supply the information he desires without much expenditure.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– It is not usual to announce Government policy in reply to questions, but the intentions of the Government will be stated in due course.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The matter has not yet been brought under my notice; but I will make inquiries, and see if we have any information on the subject.
Debate resumed from 18th September (vide page 12581), on motion by Mr. Hughes -
That this House approves of the Treaty of Peace between the Allied and Associated Powers and Germany signed at Versailles on the 28th June, 1919.
Upon which Mr. Catts had moved, by way of amendment -
That the following words be added to the motion : - “ That owing to the limited amount of information placed before Parliament in relation to the Peace Treaty, its commitments and responsibilities, the whole matter be referred to a Committee of both Houses of the Parliament for inquiry and report.”
– Considering ‘ the motion which the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) has moved, and listening to the debate upon it as it has proceeded so far, one cannot fail to appreciate the fact that Australia has taken a step forward in her association, not only with the Empire, but with the other nations of the world. For the first time in our history we are discussing a matter which giv.es us the status, more” or less, of a separate nation. The Empire stands to-day in the position of -a league of nations within the League of Nations. By virtue of the fact that we had separate representation at the Peace Conference, and that representatives of Australia have signed the Peace Treaty on our behalf, it is clear that we have advanced much beyond the stage which, as a community, we had hitherto reached.
I was disappointed with some of the speeches which have been made during this debate. It appeared to me that those who delivered them failed to strike the right note, inasmuch as they did not appreciate the importance of the new obligations which Australia has undertaken. I believe, that if those honorable members had looked more closely into the terms of the Treaty they would have more dearly realized how great has been our forward movement.
Australia, as a nation, has been born amidst war, turmoil, and conflict. I believe that the Prime Minister was quite in order in saying that only by the deeds of the men who formed the fighting forces qf Australia was he able to sit at the Peace Conference table, and take his part in connexion with the preparation of this Treaty. If honorable members will look at the map of Germany to-day they will realize that that once proud and- haughty nation has been shorn of a great deal of her power, and that, as contrasted with the attitude she assumed in 1914, she is beaten, crushed, and despoiled. In losing Alsace-Lorraine and the Saar Valley, Germany has lost two important districts, the possession of which, after the war with France in 1870, made it possible for her to reach the high pinnacle of commercial power which she attained. Germany has lost the iron and coal deposits of those districts, and to-day every one realizes how absolutely essential to the greatness of any country is the possession of these means for the production of steel and machinery. In losing AlsaceLorraine, and for a time, at any rate, the control of the Saar Valley, Germany is reduced to a position similar to chat which she occupied prior to the FrancoPrussian war of 1S70. I believe that, with the restoration to France of AlsaceLorraine, that country will immediately leap forward again into her rightful place amongst the nations of the world.
If we look to the Eastern Front, at Poland, and the district surrounding Danzig, we find that there also Germany has been kept within- bounds. At one period of 1914-15, the German Forces were advancing in every ‘direction at a marvellously rapid pace, and we know the efforts that were made by the Allies to check their onward march. “We know how they overran Belgium, and those of us who have been to France know also how very near to Paris the Germans actually went in the first few months of the war. In spite of her enormous power, built up as the result of years of preparation for the great struggle in which we have been engaged, the German nation has been forced back, and has been confined practically within the compass she occupied prior to the war of 1870.
I believe that the part which Australia has played in connexion with this historic and unparalleled war of the nations is something which we have every reason to be proud of. . We have every reason also to be grateful to the manhood of this country for the part it took in assisting the other portions of the Empire to quell the German hordes.
During the debate references have been made to a peace by negotiation. Repeatedly honorable members have said that the Peace Treaty which we are considering is the result of negotiation. Literally, of- course, that is so, but how vastly different a proposition is the peace by negotiation of 1919 from what was intended to be the peace by negotiation of 1917. Germany in 1917 was presentingto the All’;ed Forces a line which could be dented, but which had not been broken. In the early part of 1918 the Forces of Germany advanced in such overwhelming numbers that they succeeded in making, not only one,’ but three dents in the Allied lines.
– It is the difference between giving in to a man when he isshaping up to you and treating with him when you have him down.
– The graphic illustration of the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Fleming) clinches my argument. Peace by negotiation when the enemy was winning involved the
Allies, and particularly the British Empire, approaching Germany and asking her to negotiate. In November,: 1918, it was the Germans who approached the Allies, through President Wilson, with a request that they should negotiate for an armistice, and that then the question of peace should be considered. We know how crushing at that time was the defeat of the German arms, and that Germany’s Allies had one by one been destroyed. . The Prime Minister rightly gave credit to General Allenby and the troops associated with him for practically smashing the power of the Turks. The Austrian Forces were breaking up as a result of the blows of the Italians. The German Navy was in a state of mutiny, and the maintenance of the blockade had so reduced the resisting power of Germany within her own borders that she was compelled to appeal to the Allies to come to terms. If honorable members still say that the “establishment of this Treaty is the result of negotiation, -I agree, but I say that if was negotiation at the request of Germany, and not at the request of the British Empire.
There is one aspect of the matter which -was referred to by the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Finlayson).. As nearly as I can remember, the honorable member said that the complaint of the Prime Minister that Australia had not . been consulted in connexion with the armistice terms had no bearing upon the Peace Treaty. He said that it was not correct for the Prime Minister to state that the Dominions had not been consulted by the Imperial Government. He quoted one of the Ministers of South Africa, but the honorable gentleman was very careful to say that the Minister for South Africa was referring to the Peace Treaty, and did not confine himself to the Prime Minister’s objection, which was that the armistice conditions had been agreed upon between the Allies and the Germans without consulting the Dominions. It is an essential distinction to draw, because, time and again, in their deliberations over the Treaty, the Allies were brought up Against the fact that the armistice terms and conditions absolutely governed and controlled those subsequent deliberations. Therefore, the objection entered by the Prime Minister to the failure of the Im.perial Government to- consult, the Do minions in connexion with the armistice terms has a very vital and direct effect on the consideration of the Peace Treaty.
The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews) dealt with another phase of the matter - the question of peace by negotiation. He said that, the Treaty had to be negotiated with the German delegates, and he certainly tried to convey that the Allied delegates and the German delegates, after extended negotiations around the table, gave us the Peace Treaty as we have it to-day. Those familiar with the history of affairs, know that that view is not correct, but that the Treaty, as we have it, was framed by the Allied delegates themselves, after weeks and months of negotiation, amongst themselves, and that it was a memorable and historic event when the German delegates were at last admitted into the hall at Versailles, and given, I think, ten days to accept or reject.
There was no question of negotiation with the Germans.; it was laid down, hard and fast, by the delegates, “ These are our terms, and you must take them or leave them.” History tells us that Germany practically accepted the terms offered by the Allies. ‘ If by “ peace by negotiation” is meant negotiation amongst the Allies, it is quite correct, but it is certainly not correct if what is meant is negotiation with the Germans.
The speech of the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) was, to my mind. as informative and as clear a speech as it was possible for a man to deliver on the subject of this Treaty. The right honorable gentleman covered the ground’ admirably, and showed to this House, and to Australia generally, in greater detail than did the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) just what the Treaty means. One point in his statement that impressed me was that the reduction of German expenditure on her Army and Navy amounts to many millions per annum, and on a rough calculation it is easy to see that the amount of reparation demanded by the Allies from Germany might be met from that source alone. That saving effected by reduction of the naval armament and of the strength of the German standing army, will, in thirty years, be sufficient to meet the £25,000,000,000, which is mentioned as the probable amount. Therefore, one is led to agree with the
Prime Minister that the amount of reparation demanded from Germany is insufficient. I am quite aware, on the other hand, that we have taken Germany’s mercantile marine, and have removed from Germanymany of the opportunities she had for creating wealth. It is quite natural that that circumstance should be taken into consideration.
The Minister for the Navy also told as that for five years Germany, is compelled, under the. Treaty, to deliver to the Allies 200,000 tons of mercantile shipping annually. While we in Australia are trying to establish the shipbuilding industry, and although I am one who believes in encouraging every possible industry within our own borders, it occurs to me that it might be possible for Australia to receive some share of this 200,000 tons of shipping.
Attached to the Treaty is the Covenant for the League of Nations; and many ideas have been expressed regarding the efficacy of the League. I should like to believe that the League of Nations will be able to prevent war; and any man who was. on or near any of the battle fronts during the recent awful struggle, will readily share that sentiment. Australia has not seen the horror of war ; we do not know anything of the devastation of Northern France and other parts of the world. If the. League of Nations can possibly prevent war in the. future, Australia and every other country in the world should acclaim and accept it. But the history of leagues of nations - because, after all, it is no new idea - shows how human passion, national feeling, . and other disrupting causes are constantly at work to retard the fulfilment of the ideal of the brotherhood of man.
-Those were leagues of kings, not leagues of democracies.
– The distinction drawn by the honorable member is quite correct, except so far as the Hague tribunal is concerned. When the war broke out in 1914, the existence of that tribunal, and the fact that covenants and treaties had been entered into under its auspices, could not prevent the conflict; and we must go further in order to touch the heart of the thing. I was very much impressed by the following remark by Lord Robert Cecil, British representative on the League of Nations Commission at the Peace Conference, reported this morning as occurring in an address delivered, before the International Brotherhood Congress in London: -
The real motive for peace must be sought elsewhere. The only solution will be the application of the principles of Christianity to international relations by following the broad bases of mercy, pity, truth, and justice.
Lord Robert Cecil has clinched the difficulty; he realizes how human it is for us to err, and how in the weakness of our very humanity we are drawn away from the higher ideals. To make the League effective we must have clearer and higher understanding, and the principles enunciated many hundreds of years ago must be given full and free effect.
A good deal has been said about the White Australia policy and the action of the Prime Minister. (Mr. Hughes). I had the good fortune to be on the other side of the world when this question was being discussed, and I unhesitatingly say that, in my judgment, had it not been for the insistence and . the repeated efforts of the Prime Minister our White Australia policy would have been very seriously jeopardized. I do not desire toreflect too much on the methods of the Imperial Parliament, or the Imperial Government, but I remind Australia that the members of the Imperial’ Parliament and Government have necessarily to legislate far many millions of dark-skinned peoples, whose territories are many thousands of miles away. The British Parliament and Government do not realize, as we do in Australia, all that it would mean if we had to abandon our White Australia policy; The British representatives were, apparently, more inclined to view the White Australia principle as a fad, which really did not matter very much, and we in Australia owe to our Prime Minister the fact that we are still permitted to retain what to us is vital - a free and completely White Australia.
Before I deal for a few moments with the Labour Covenant, I should like to say a word or two about the resolution to protect France, which is included in the Peace Treaty. The objections that have been raised to that resolution do not seem to be based on very sound ground. We were told yesterday that the Prime Minister of France, M. Clemenceau, is vindictive - that he represents the France of 1870. There is no question in my mind that the Prime Minister of France represents the spirit of France to-day, and that is the spirit of every man, woman, and child in the country. The French people had no room for traitors, for they were living too close to the seat of war. They knew from day to day, not only of their own hardships, but of their own kith and kin being driven from their homes. I ask honorable members to endeavour to realize the nervous tension of the French people. They have passed through hell, and have suffered every conceivable degradation at the hands of the Germans, and now, while the spirit of comradeship is in the air, and they feel nervous, because they do not trust Germany, they desire a special Treaty with the United Kingdom and the United States of America to guard them from future danger. After all, why should we object to this Treaty? Some honorable members say that because Germany has been beaten there is now no need to further protect France. The fact that Germany has been crushed is good reason why we should raise no objection to a proposal to go to the aid of France, because during the war our Ally was practically bled white of her manhood. The honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Fleming) yesterday quoted figures showing that of all the Allied nations engaged in the war, the percentage of killed was highest in France. And now the nation which suffered so heavily asks her friends to enter into an agreement to protect her from Germany should that country speedily revive and become revengeful. I believe that we should go to the assistance of France if ever the need arises as the result of German aggression.
The statement has been made that the spirit of militarism now has a stronger grip than ever on the Allied Powers. I, am surprised at this, because any one who reads the cable news from day to day must know perfectly well that the Democracies of the United Kingdom and France have no intention whatever’ of continuing in the grip of militarism. During the war they fought with the sole object of crushing and eliminating that spirit in Europe. I can speak from a very close association with many leaders of the Labour movement in the United Kingdom, and also with, a more limited knowledge of the opinions held by individual workmen in the Mother country, and I can assure honorable members that there is no intention whatever of allowing the spirit of militarism to fasten itself upon the nation in the future. I believe that during the war it was necessary for the Imperial Government to compel, men to do their duty, and I feel certain that if the occasion arose again the good sense of the Motherland would lead her people to do all that might be required. The action taken in Great Britain to bring about speedy demobilization and the return of men to civilian occupations is all part and parcel of a scheme to insure greater production, in order that the burden of war expenditure may be met.
There is an objection to the admission of Germany to the League of Nations at this stage. I think the Minister for the Navy satisfactorily explained the position. He said that when Germany redeemed or demonstrated her intention of observing the clauses of the Treaty, her claims to be admitted to the League of Nations would be considered.
I am glad the Treaty and the Covenant of the League of Nations makes some, provision with respect to secret treaties. I say, quite frankly, that there may be occasions when diplomacy should be cloaked to a certain extent, but I do not believe that treaties should be secretly indorsed and maintained. The situation in Shantung Peninsula is the result of a secret treaty. Some years ago China granted Germany certain rights over that portion of her territory, and had there been no war those rights would have remained with the German people. Because there has been a war, is there any sound reason why particular privileges which have ‘been granted to Germany should be restored to China ? .
– How did ‘Germany get them?
– For a monetary consideration, I presume.
– For the murder of a missionary, I think.
– In view of Japan’s active association -with the Allies in the war, an agreement with reference to the future of Shantung was entered into between the Governments of the United Kingdom and Japan, and in ratifying the-
Treatywe recognise work done by our Ally.
Wehad an interesting address from the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Riley) last night in connexion with the Labour Charter. In most of his references to the Labour position the honorable member was, I think, quite right, but he said that Labour was not represented at the Peace Conference. That statement is not in accordance with the facts.
– Far from it.
– The Prime Minister of Great Britain (Mr. Lloyd George) guaranteed representation to Labour when the Peace Treaty was under discussion, and Labour was represented not only by Mr. Barnes, among others, but also at the actual drafting of the Labour Charter by the Right Honorable Arthur Henderson, who may quite properly be described as the true-blue Labourite. There is no question as to Mr. Henderson’s standing in the Labour movement, and much the same maybe said of Mr. Barnes; but I think that Lord Robert Cecil, to whom I have already referred, was, perhaps more than any other man, responsible for shaping- I do not mean watering-down - the ideals of Labour into clear and concise language. I was glad that the Minister for the Navy paid a tribute to some Unionists and Conservatives in the Old Country for their work in connexion with the Labour Charter. There is evidence of a desire for co-operation between masters and men is Great Britain.
– Do you mean masters and slaves ? If you use the word “ master “ you ought also to use the word “ slave.”
– If the Leader of the Opposition objects to the term I shall substitute “ employers “ and “ employees,” which is more appropriate. Unfortunately in Australia a strong feeling is being engendered in some quarters against any encouragement of this ideal. I refer particularly to the fact that in Sydney when an attempt was made to establish a Whitley Council, organized Labour said, No. This is only a device of the employers to exploit the employees. Have none of it. Do not co-operate at all. Keep up the old traditions. This world is not new. Our men are coming back again to the old order. They are not going to advance with the times. Yet we are sometimes called Conservative. I am glad that the employees in the United Kingdom and elsewhere are realizing that the Labour Charter means a great deal to them. If Australia to-day stands well in the forefront in the questions that are to be submitted tothe next conference that is our good fortune, and we can help the weaker nations that are not so far advanced as we are, up to the standards that we have reached. I believe, from my knowledge of affairs in the United Kingdom, that the rates of pay and the- conditions of the workers that were the outcome of the war effort are not likely to be interfered with very much. The increased rates of pay which were granted to meet the increased cost of living and the increased production of munitions and other things, are likely to be maintained, provided that Labour will give the equivalent of production for the increased money handed over. The general conditions are steadily being improved, and the position of the workers throughoutthe world will not, in my judgment, be reduced. When the time comes for Australia to take her partin the framing of the various planks thatare necessary at the Labour Conference, I hope that whoever goes from this country will be able to speak with no uncertain voice regarding what Australia has done and what Australia would like the other nations to do. I trust that from every stand-point workers throughout the world will be able to appreciate the assistance of the Australian delegation as much as some of the nations to-day appreciate the assistance they received from the Australian fighting troops. It is therefore to be hoped that the attitude adopted by the Trades Hall Council in Sydney, of refusing to participate in the selection of a delegate to the Labour Conference, is not a true reflex of the opinion of Labour throughout the Commonwealth. One notable feature of the Labour Covenant is the definite place that has been assigned to the women workers of the world. We know the consistent struggle that has been made by them to secure equality of pay for equal effort and equal work. Right through the Labour Charter reference is made to the necessity for recognising the rights of womanhood. Not only are the claims of the women workers to have fair recognition, but the women are to be represented wherever matters concerning them are being discussed.
In agreeing to the motion tabled by the Eight Honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), we in Australia will be doing only our duty as a portion of the Empire. While we may have doubts regarding some phases of the League of Nations, while there maybe some clauses of the Peace Treaty itself which we think could be improved, when we realize the warring elements that had to be reconciled, and know the struggle between the conflicting influences at work when the Treaty was designed and drafted, we can indeed offer our sincere congratulations to the Australian delegates for the work which they performed as part and parcel of the Empire, and particularly in upholding the aspirations and credit of Australia.
.- I wish, in the first place, to congratulate the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) on the lucid manner in which he described the Peace Treaty to the House in his splendid effort of Wednesday last. I have been in this Parliament ever since its inception, and thought his was one of the finest speeches I have ever heard during that time. Personally, I thank the right honorable member very much for going to the trouble of giving us such a painstaking speech on the League of Nations and the Labour Covenant.
Mr.Fenton. - It was a good speech, but it was due to the House, because there was no explanation by the first speaker.
– I do not want to take any credit away from the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes). He spoke on the terms of the Treaty and the League of Nations generally, and the Minister for the Navy supplied the details. That is what we wanted, or, at any rate, what I wanted. I am pleased that I heard him make the speech he did.
There is no man, unless he is a fool, who is not, or should not be, pleased to think that in the Peace Treaty something has been devised to do away with warfare. That idea has been spoken of ever since I can remember. There were the Hague tribunal and Other devices by means of which it was sought to bring about some form of disarmament, because every one must have recognised that the way the world was going on arming to the teeth meant disaster sooner or later. For the life of me I cannot conceive to this day why Germany went to war. If she had gone on, as she wasgoing she would in another decade have practicallyowned the economic value of the whole world. Look at our own experience. Germany took over 60 per cent. of the goods that we were exporting oversea.
Mr.Falkiner. - She sold them on credit and could not pay for them, and that is why she went to war.
– I have heard a lot of causes for the war, but that is the very latest. At any rate, Germany was ousting other nations commercially. I remember listening, many years ago, to a conversation that took place between the captain of the Kyarra and the first mate of the Elberfeld, a German tramp that was running backwards and forwards from Hamburg to Australia. The meat companies of Australia offered to sell to the British Government all their meat extracts, but the Government, although pressed to take them, would not do so. The companies had to find some one to take their product, and the Imperial German Government offered to take it, at a price, so long as they got it all. A contract was entered into with the German Government accordingly. The Germans sent their boat regularly twice a month to Pinkenba for no other purpose than to take those meat extracts from Queensland to Hamburg. They were piling this food up for some reason, and, as events have proved, that reason was the great war. I was standing on the wharf at Pinkenba watching the Kyarra come up the Brisbane River to unload her concentrates, which she had brought from South Australia to load into the German vessel. The Germans ran to a time-table like a railway train. As soon as 12 o’clock sounded they cast off all barges and all ropes from the wharf, and went. The Kyarra was coming up the Sydney Harbor when the German boat left Sydney. They signalled to the Kyarra that they were off to Brisbane, and if she wanted to tranship her cargo she had better follow them to Brisbane, where they would take it on board. . The Kyarra came up the . Brisbane River, and it was then that this incident happened. The German boat was lying alongside the wharf, and taking in the boxes of meat extract which had been already piled there. She arrived to schedule time, almost to the minute, and started loading the boxes from barges which were lying alongside her four deep. The German boat had telescopic hydraulic cranes taking the stuff out of each one . of those barges. The Kyarra asked her to drop those barges astern, so that she could come alongside and unload her concentrates. The mate of the German boat said, “ You anchor outside those barges, and we will put on two more telescopic arms, and unload you from there.” The officer of the Kyarra replied, “ We do not think you can do it,” and the German mate answered, “Never mind what you think; you cannot come alongside us. At Hamburg we have the barges six and seven deep; and can unload them all at the same time. Surely we can do the same in the Brisbane River.” The. officer on the Kyarra said, “ Never mind what you do in Hamburg, you are in Australia- now,” and the German officer retorted, “ Yes, we are in Australia now, but you will do’ as we want you to do in Australia just the same as we would make you do in Hamburg.” The work was done in the way the German officer said. The incident set me thinking, and I asked a member of the State House, who was standing alongside me, what it meant. He said ha thought it was another little bit of German bombast. Of course, after the war began, I realized that the Germans had fixed their eyes on Australia, and were going to introduce German ways of working into our Australian ports.
– It seems to me that it would pay us to introduce their methods of working.
– Evidently the whole thing had been planned out, but it is very easy to be wise after the event. I remember a friend of mine, at Tambo, in Queensland, giving me a series of letters to bring down to Brisbane, to get them published in the papers. They contained a warning about the way the Germans were coming into our country and stealing the British trade When I took those letters to the newspapers, they said, “We cannot publish this because it would offend a friendly nation.” Just exactly what my friend thought would happen, arid what he was writing about some twelve years ago, has happened. ..‘’
Certain honorable members opposite possess the idea that because honorable members on this side are not always prating about their loyalty they are disloyal, or, in some instances, that they adopt a “don’t care” attitude. I want to emphasize my position. I am not an Australian by birth, but I think Australia is the finest country under the sun. Nevertheless, what sort of an individual would I be if I could forget the land that gave me birth and infant nurture? I belong to the best Empire on earth. I am a citizen of that Empire; and, not only that, but a citizen of Australia, possessed of the same rights as every other citizen - native born or of Mother Country birth. There is no country in the world that can give me Tights and privileges such as those that I enjoy under that glorious bit of rag - ‘the Union Jack. It is good enough for me, and when honorable members hurl taunts of disloyalty it hurts me at times. The only considera- tion ‘that prevented me from doing my bit “ over there “ was my age; they would not take me. I would have gone gladly. I would not have waited, but would have gone from the inception of the war. This Treaty is a masterpiece of brainwork. Sometimes, reading through its Articles, I wonder how those phrases could have been conceived. The men responsible have put into the Treaty everything possible with which to bring Germany to her knees, and. to insure that Germany shall no longer disturb the peace of France, and of the world. In considering the League of Nations, any man with brains at all must know that we cannot set up a machine whose workings will suit everybody, and which will run perfectly from its first movements. But here is the framework of something practicable and eminently possible, and every one of us should welcome it with open arms. I believe in the League of Nations, for these reasons: It will do something to put an end to, or to put a break upon, these devilish ebullitions of warfare. If we can settle minor disputes - industrial troubles - by resort to arbitration, or by sitting down to a roundtable conference, why cannot we settle, these nation-wide quarrels in the same manner? According to a cablegram published in the Argus this morning, Mr. Lloyd George has presented such telling arguments to the people of this Empire that his words should he put into Hansard for distribution throughout Australia. There are men and women in Queensland who read Hansard but who have no chance of seeing the Argus..
– It indicates the real isolation of the bush, when those people will read Hansard !
– It shows their taste for literature.
– I do not know, about literature, and I am not so sure about thin isolation business. The bushmen of Western Queensland hold very keen debates upon questions which arise in this House.
– They prepare themselves to heckle candidates when the latter come along.
– Yes; they tackle me, and say, “ Why did you do this, and why did you say that ?” And perhaps those things happened three years ago, and I may have forgotten all about them.
– It is only fair to admit that those chaps meet only about once in twelve months to compare notes.
– That is not by any means the usual case. The honorable member has lived in the bush almost all his life, and he knows that those men travel from shed to shed. Of course, the same fellows do not shear in every shed side by side; yet they rub shoulders a good deal from season to season. Their views are the basis of very keen debates. Thanks to Mr. Squatter to-day, they are provided with libraries. Those good things have come about since my days in the sheds, Each station has its own library, and the station-owners themselves promote debates among the men in order to learn their ideas ; which is a very good thing, indeed. The men travel from station to station and talk about public affairs; and thus they become very keen politicians. If honorable members were to go out into Western Queensland today, and were to enter any shed .where shearing is in progress, and if they were to start a debate about “ Billy” Hughes they would find those men more confer.sant with what the Prime Minister has been saying and doing since his return to Australia than are many members of the House of Representatives. . Those chaps are intelligent enough! That is why I want this statement of Mr. Lloyd George to be published, if only for their especial benefit. I want to let them know that the big men in the world are on the right track at last. As Mr. Lloyd George stated, a few week ago, 75 per cent, of the workers had to do the work at the war, and it was time that the old order was changed; and that, to-day, they should have an interest in the settlement of nations’ disputes, and in the bringing about of a better world. God knows that, in the Old Land, a better world was needed. Mr. Lloyd George, speaking at the City Temple, in London, on Wednesday, at the International Brotherhood Congress, dealt with the social problems arising from the war. I quote from the Argus, as follows:–
There were men, said the Prime Minister, who did not realize that a great tidal wave had swept away landmarks. Many phases of the old order had gone for ever, and the world was richer and safer for their disappearance. Meanwhile we had trebled the electorate, changed the hours of labour, and altered the nation’s attitude towards labour. Similar problems and other great changes were inevitable. The slums must go, and he hoped that the greater armaments would disappear, not only in Germany, otherwise millions of gallant men would have hied in vain. He also hoped that the longdrawnout, wretched misunderstanding in Ireland would disappear. He was looking forward to seeing waste disappear, and a new Britain arise, freed from ignorance, insobriety, penury, poverty, and squalor.
In concluding his address, Mr. Lloyd George used the idea of fair play to sum up the new spirit which -wanted, to revolutionize the world. He said that the formation of the League of Nations was an attempt to substitute fair play for force. Germany’s departure from fair play had had terrible retribution, and would be a conspicuous warning to all peoples. We must have capital and labour. If Labour sought to exercise its power without reference to the resources of each individual industry it would bring ruin to hundreds of thousands” of citizens. Neither the employer nor the labourer had the right, without reference to the community, to say, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” That was the policy of Cain, not of brotherhood.
Those are the sentiments which make me think there- is a better world in sight, not only for the employee, but for the employer. If capital and labour can go hand in hand, why cannot the nations proceed in similar fashion?’ If the League of Nations shall have done nothing more than to bring capital and labour together, and to do away with vast armaments, quite sufficient will have been accomplished for the present stage.
There is another paragraph in the same newspaper this morning, referring to “ the League of Nations’ last resort.” The Argus states -
Lord Robert Cecil, M.P. (who was British representative on the League of Nations Commission at the Peace Conference ) , wrote a paper on post-war problems which was read before the International Brotherhood Congress now in session’, in London. “Although war is so horrible,” he says, “it is better than condoning crime, and until something can be substituted to restrain international wrongdoing war is the only resource, and will recur with increasing ferocity and destructiveness. Every method of keeping peace except a League of Nations has been tried and failed. If, however, we rely on the provisions of the League Covenant to preserve peace we will be living in a fool’s paradise. The real motive for peace must be sought elsewhere. The only solution will be the application of the principles of Christianity to international relations by following the broad bases of mercy, pity, truth, and justice.”
He concluded by saying that it is not the Covenant of the League of Nations which can save humanity, but the spirit underlying it.
Those latter words are such as the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) employed here only this week. Some of its critics have said, “But this League of Nations does not do this, and fails to bring about that.” Certain people object to Australia being brought in to the League of Nations on the ground that it may force us to supply men or ships to fight in or police some distant part of the world if one of the Powers should get out of hand. What would happen if some honorable members broke away from their unions? The situation is the same with respect to a nation within the League of Nations.What would happen to any State which dared to break away from the League?
– When you break away from your union do you not sometimes get into a higher sphere?
– Some of us might get into a lower one. The honorable member knows how the Australian Workers Union deals with scabs. We ostracize them ; we will have nothing to do with them; we will not have anything to say to them.
– Sometimes you have something very frank to say to them.
– That is occasionally the case; but we only tell them what we think of them. We would be doing the same with regard to any recalcitrant members of the League of Nations. The other nation’s within the League would treat them exactly as though they were scab members of a trade union. They would ostracize them. They would blockade them. They would cut off their” tucker,’’ just as we would do with a scab.
– That is a fine way of. inculcating the principles of truth, justice, and mercy.
– We would inculcate those principles in the most effective manner. In the case of a scab we would not allow him to feed at the same table with good unionists. We would make him find his own “ tucker.” We would “woodheap “ him.
– What does that mean?
– The honorable members for Hume (Mr. Falkiner) and Grampians (Mr. Jowett) know. The woodheap would be his dining table. He would have to get his own “ tucker ‘ ‘ and go out to the woodheap and eat it by himself.
– Divine retribution!
– Exactly. The position will be exactly the same in connexion with the League of Nations. If a nation defies the League the parties to the League will blockade it and cut it off from intercourse with the rest of the world. This is a most effective way of dealing with both recalcitrant individuals and nations. It is far better than recourse to war. If Australia is to be a member of the League of Nations, she. must be prepared to do her bit, and I have no doubt that an overwhelming majority of the people of the Commonwealth will be in favour of her doing it.
– If we make a promise we will try to honorably fulfil it.
– Undoubtedly. I am convinced that the House will, by an overwhelming majority, approve of this Treaty, with its Covenant for a League of Nations. Those who oppose it have no fault to find with the principle, but object to the method by which the League of Nations is to be conducted. It seems to me that it is high time that the civilized peoples of. the world should take action to put an end for all time to war and its devastating influences. In making that effort there must be some sacrifice, and while Australia has given the blood of her sons, and spent much of her treasure, in the prosecution of the war, her sacrifice is far less than that which has been made by some of the other belligerent nations.
Australia has- now come into her birthright. She has gained her nationhood. Her sons have fought on the battlefields of Europe, and have brought her fame. Her ships have joined with the Imperial Wavy, not only in ‘policing the seas, but in fighting .the Empire’s , battles. Her nationhood has been ‘christened in blood, and she stands now prominent amongst the- nations of the earth, practically the youngest of them all, the most fertile, the most virile, and the best-advertised country in the world. This League of Nations will have substantial results. It means the consummation of an ideal foi which we hav;e ‘been fighting for many years, and I appeal to honorable members, and particularly to members .of my own party, to .see that there shall be a unanimous vote in favour of the Treaty of Peace. It would be a most gracious act to unanimously approve of it, and thus to show that we believe in deeds, and not in words .alone.
As ito the Labour provisions of the Treaty, I feel that some tangible result will come out of the International Labour Conference which is to take place under them. I am .satisfied that we have in the Labour party men who .are as fit as those of any country - to stand up for our industrial position. Our industrialists are just as fit to discharge this duty as they have proved themselves to be capable in a military capacity. At this International Conference we shall be able to exchange ideas with the representatives ®f the industrialists of the world, and that, in itself, will be a step in the right direction.
I .glory in the fact that the Empire has ;always been able, when in trouble, to produce the right man at ‘the right moment. We have at the head of the British Government to-day a man for whom we should thank God. He was able to hold his own at the Peace Conference ‘and at all the consultations associated with the great war, and I am thankful that Great Britain has produced such a man. I regard the Treaty of Peace as one of the most momentous documents that has ever been presented to us. It is .a work of great magnitude and a monument to the capacity of the men who produced it. I am confident .that with its ratification by the British Empire and the remaining Powers concerned, no time will be lost in building on a substantial foundation’ the League t01 Nations f or which at provides. Any ;present defects in the ‘Covenant will -soon <be remedied, :and I fervently hope that as the result of it, war will be unknown for at least another hundred years. ,
,- Like many others, T have long been waiting an opportunity to discuss the terms of Peace, and am thankful that hostilities throughout Europe have ceased, and tha’t peace is now with us. In this feeling df profound relief all sections of the community must share. Our men, when fighting overseas, looked forward anxiously to the day when Peace would be proclaimed throughout the world, and I, in company with my fellows of the great industrial army pf Australia, -hail with pleasure the report of the delegation,, and also the Treaty of Peace that is now before us.
Although . Peace has been proclaimed,, there yet remain, as a legacy of the war,, many duties and responsibilities to bedischarged by the people of this part of the Empire.’ We have taken our share in the responsibilities of the war. Our men have played a noble part on the battlefields of Europe, and our citizens have undertaken obligations of magnitude in connexion with the financing of the war. I hope that all sections of the community “will bend to the task; that they will loyally recognise these obligations, and “ will see the thing through.”
During this debate some criticism has been levelled at the provisions of tie Treaty of Peace under which we are taking control of German New Guinea, while Japan has been gwen, a mandate in respect of the Marshall, the Caroline, and other islands. It has been suggested from this side of the House that our responsibilities - have thus been increased, and that tha danger of foreign ‘aggression is greater than it was before “the war. From that view I entirely differ. The confidence which the rest of the Empire had in us before the outbreak of hostilities has .been increased a hundredfold as the result of the part we have .played in the struggle. I have never had any doubt -as to Australia being assured of the assistance of the rest of the British Empire if at any time ‘she should be in peril. But if any section of the community entertained a doubt on the point,- it must now be removed. The fact that our men, leaving their homes in Australia, travelled oversea 12,000 miles, and fought shoulder to shoulder with troops from the rest of the Empire, stood with them in the trendies, and lived with the British people in their own homes, has led the people of the Old Country and the sister Dominions to know us better than before, to have’ greater confidence in us than ever, and to regard us as their brothers in the hour of adversity. The bonds of unity existing from the “inception of the Commonwealth have been cemented and made stronger than they were before the war, so that as the possessors of this great continent out security has been immeasurably increased. We can rely on the active help of, not only our brothers in the Old Country, and the Empire generally, but, I believe, the people of France. Our sons for over four years have lived with the French, have associated with them in their homes and On the battlefields, and between France and Australia there has been created a bond of love and unity of such a character that I am convinced that if Australia were at any time threatened with invasion one-half the people of France would cheerfully come to our assistance.
It is because of this that I -say our position in these southern seas has been greatly strengthened as the result of the war just closed. There are other countries with which we are allied, and to which we may also look with confidence for support in the hour of peril. The peoples of Great Britain, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, and the United States of America have seen. more of Australians during the last five years than ever before, and have come to know Australia better. Australia is known all over the world to-day, not only as a land that has produced thousands of fearless men, but as having been able to supply much of the requirements of the Allies during the waT in respect of wheat, meat, wool, metals, and other primary products. All these facts have tended to bring about a greater and nobler bond of sympathy amongst the English-speaking people wherever they may be. This feeling of kinship will strengthen, and I am satisfied will be such as to’ prevent any invasion of this country by a coloured race.
We have been told also during this debate that as the- result of the Peace Treaty an Asiatic race has been brought 3,000 miles closer to our shores. I have no desire to reflect upon the people to whom reference is thus made. They have so far done their part. They have made no inroads upon us, and we have the League of Nations with us. We have been a paTty to the drawing up of the Covenant. We are partners in the League, and we can look with confidence to all the members of the League to protect us. The nations that went to war because of the action of Germany in regarding a treaty as a “ scrap of paper “ would not be a party to any violation of the principles of the Covenant. That being so, it seems to me that, as a young nation, we stand today erect amongst the peoples of the earth and can look forward with hopefulness to an era of peace and happiness. We are told that the League of Nations is but a new thing. We know that it is. My only wish is that it had been established years ago. In that case the great war through which we have just passed might “not have taken place.
We in the industrial arena have federated for our mutual protection. We have- found that unionism makes for the protection of the worker. The Covenant of the League of Nations, after all, is only an extension of the principle of unionism. The League is a union of nations to prevent war, to prevent one nation trying to overrun another, and while the Treaty may be open to criticism, while it may have certain defects, the obvious answer is that the best brains of the world have never been able to formulate a scheme of any kind that has not been open to criticism. Anybody can indulge in criticism. It is difficult for a person to construct, but it is very easy for him to destroy. Whilst the Covenant of the League of Nations may have its defects, it is based upon great moral principles, the observance of which will emancipate the whole civilized world. I know that the League is merely - in the nature of a skeleton, which will re-N quire to be clothed with flesh; but it recognises the grand principle of the brotherhood of man and the brotherhood of nations. That, in itself, warrants me in supporting its adoption. As the representative of a large industrial con9ti- tuency, I am pleased to know that the preamble to the document laid on the table of the House by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) foreshadows the accomplishment of great things in other countries. “We, in Australia, are proud of our industrial conditions. Many in our midst have laboured strenuously to achieve them. Now the whole of the Allied nations- of the world have agreed upon a reduction of the hours of labour to forty-eight weekly; have consented to the abolition of child labour and the regulation of the employment of women in factories; and have recognised the need for the establishment of old-age and invalid pensions.
– Does not the honorable member think that those things mark a wonderful advance?
– Yes. I hail with pleasure the document which has been presented by the Prime Minister, and I shall cordially support its ratification.! The war will have been fought in vain if it does not produce a newer and a better world. But the labours of the Peace Conference have assured us that it will, and I look forward with pride and pleasure to the great things that will result from the decisions of that memorable gathering. Australia was represented there, and in the preamble to the Covenant of the League of Nations I almost detect the hand of a Labour man. That Covenant seeks to protect the weak and to prevent oppression by the strong. I heartily in-, dorse the preamble to the document, and T believe that the world will eventually rise to a higher level as the result of the labours of the Peace Conference, and that the life and treasure which we have sacrificed will not have been sacrificed in vain.
I give my meed of praise to our representatives at the Peace Conference, and also to the representatives of our Allies. I hope that this Parliament will endeavour to give effect to the provisions embodied in the preamble to this historic document. It is stated in the Covenant to the League of Nations that the German Army is to be limited to 100,000 men, who are to be recruited upon a voluntary basis, and who are to enlist for a period, of twelve years, so that it will be impossible for that Power to continuously train men for the army, and to constantly return drafts of them to civil life.
We, too, I hope, will cut down our defence expenditure. I trust that we shall not continue to add to the expenditure upon our Naval and Military Forces. If Germany is to reduce her army to a minimum, I trust that the next conference overseas will insist upon all other countries doing likewise, thus assuring the peace and happiness of the world. I have pleasure in supporting the motion, which I hope will be carried unanimously.
.- I do not feel disposed to allow this motion to pass without saying a word or two in regard to it, although I recognise that the part which this Parliament will play in connexion with the ratification of the Peace Treaty is necessarily of a subordinate character. As a matter of fact, the Commonwealth has no status in regard to the signing of the Treaty beyond that of a Dependency which is necessarily bound by the action of the Imperial Government and of the British Parliament. I recognise that the Imperial Government have naturally been disposed to flatter Australia with the suggestion that she entered the Peace Conference, and became a party to the Peace Treaty, as a nation. But we know that that is- a mere compliment to her, a mere attempt - and perhaps not an unnatural one - to pander to the vanity of some of those who pretended to speak at the Conference for the whole of the people of Australia.
It will be remembered that this war came to an end as the result of an armistice, which was based upon the celebrated fourteen points laid down by the great and illustrious President of the United States of America, and subsequently accepted by Germany. It is a matter for very great regret - and it would be affectation on my part to affirm that it was not also a matter for humiliation - that our own representatives at the Peace Conference, more particularly the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), as well as the representatives of other signatories to the Treaty, have departed in a flagrant, one might almost say a shameless, manner from the pledge which they solemnly, gave when they accepted an armistice and a peace upon the basis of those fourteen points. Let us consider for a moment some of those points. One of them was a pledge against annexations. Honorable members will recollect - and the country will recollect - that, in face of the fact that we were pledged most solemnly against tie principle of annexation, our own representative did his very best - and nobody can deny that his influence and ability were conspicuous - to break down the pledge which was given in that connexion and to prove conclusively what many had suspected, namely, that the late war, like many other wars, had been waged for the conquest of territory. To me it is absolutely repulsive, having regard to the history of the years of bloodshed through which we have passed, that at the conclusion of the struggle, which we were assured had been fought for purely defensive purposes and for the establishment of right against might, we should find ourselves at a Peace Conference, which was summoned to give effect to the points laid down by President Wilson, arguing, bargaining, and contending for more territory to be added to the already over-large territory which we Australiana possess. Of course, members of the Labour party <had more than once ventured to say that it was this lust for conquest which played an important part in inflaming the minds of men and thus prolonging the war. It was not until the very end of the struggle, until we .had actually entered into the Peace Conference, that it became apparent, from the unblushing admissions of those who represented us, -that we had really had in view the “hated spring of evil annexation.
Sitting suspended from 12.56 to 2.15 p.m.
– -Nothing but the magnitude of this portentous document will prevent its being regarded at a later stage as a scrap of paper. In this debate which, I understand, by compulsion, is nearing its dose, I do not propose to make the slightest pretence of dealing with even a tithe -of the vastly important matters which are indicated, if not treated of, in this - document. There are just one or two features Of it, however, to which I wish to call attention. ‘The first is a confession of >our sins. Article 8 in the Covenant of the League of Nations says : -
The ‘Members of the League recognise that the .maintenance of peace requires the reduction ‘of national armaments to .the lowest point consistent with national .safety and the enforcement by common action of international obligations.
The -Council, taking account of the geographical situation and circumstances of each
State, shall formulate plans for such reduction for the consideration and action of theseveral Governments.
The Members of the League agree that themanufacture by private enterprise of munitionsand implements of war is open to grave objections. The Council shall advise how the evil effects attendant upon such manufacture can. be prevented, due regard being had to the necessities of those Members of the League which, arc hot able to manufacture the munitions and implements of war necessary for their safety.
The Members of the League undertake to interchange full and frank information as tothe scale of their armaments, their military, naval, and air programmes and the condition of such of their industries as are adaptable towarlike purposes.
That is a frank confession of something; to which leading thinkers and writers associated with the Labour and Socialist movement at home arid abroad havedirected attention for half a century, yea, a century past. On every occasion w,hereopportunity offered the representatives >of Labour have pointed out that .as. long as the people were taxed and continued to be taxed .to build up these engines of ‘destruction, so long did it remain inevitable that the world would become embroiled in a war of universal extent. At the eleventh hour, nay, after the eleventh hour, when the world is strewn with dead, the Peace Conference has .solemnly recognised and admitted the truth of what we said. The admission comes late#; it asunfortunate that it comes after we had’ paid the price, but, at all events, it is a confession which promises -us and the world! something better for. the future. Members of the League agree that the manu, facture ‘by private enterprise of implements and munitions of war is open tograve objections. There is not a Labourman in Great Britain, Prance, ‘Germany, or Australia, but has scathingly denounced’ this practice of building up fortunes for capitalists out of the manufacture of these engines of destruction, and not so long ago while the war was in progress,, it was a matter of public scandal that the very bishops in the House of Lords were drawing dividends from the private manufacture of these very things. TlieCovenant of the League of Nations, if “it does not expose it’, at least condemns it, and promises ros some reformation for thefuture.
Secret diplomacy ! The members of the League undertake .to interchange full and frank information as .to the scale of their armaments, their military, naval, and air programmes, and the conditions of such of their industries as are adaptable to warlike purposes. Who were those who gave their best efforts to the eloquent denunciation of secret diplomacy? Some were, of those for whom the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) has manifested so deep a contempt, the pacifists,’ the antimilitarists, the Socialists, and. Labour men, of whom he was once one. Those were the men who, in the face of bitter opposition, denunciation, calumny, and cowardly attack of every kind, persisted in pointing out that as long as the destinies of nations were left to the secret and aristocratic channels of diplomacy, so long would we have no guarantee of the peace of the world; and they said these things and argued them, and proved them before- the blood of the World’s people began to flow. After it has flowed, it is admitted by the distinguished representatives who assembled- at “Versailles that Labour, Socialism, and Pacifism were right.
I have said that this document, will be regarded as “ a scrap of paper.” May I remind honorable members that while the war was running its dreadful, calamitous, and tragic course, we were told from millions of “lips that the word of Germany could not be taken in any matter, and even as late as yesterday the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Archibald) asked - ‘* Who will take the word of Germany? “
– Hear, hear!
– These men had disregarded their solemn pledge in regard to the neutrality of Belgium, and treated with contempt a Treaty which they de-, scribed as “ a scrap of paper.” Who, we were asked, would take their word? Yet for months we have been waiting with bated breath until the representatives of Germany should put their sign and seal upon this document. If the honorable member is right, what is the value of the written bond of Germany - what is the value of its signature or its seal upon this document? What hypocrisy, on the one hand, to declare that no” German is capable of speaking the truth, and, on _ the other hand, to send hosannas to high heaven as soon as we have succeeded . in securing the signatures of two . representatives of the German people to the document now under consideration!
– There is a little more behind the Treaty than those two signatures.
– Exactly. That is the point. There is behind it the military arm and force.
– Hear, hear; and it is needed.
– -If that is so, why all these anxious inquiries as to whether the representatives of Germany would sign the document, and why ‘ all these triumphant rejoicings because it was signed?
Now that the war is over, I hope we may say -things we dared not say before, although some of us did dare to say them, and suffered for so doing in this allegedly free country. To our eternal shame and disgrace we submitted ourselves to be overridden with regulations passed in secret, and undebated, laws, which, in my view, should never have stained the hitherto fair history of this country. . I think some lingering links of the chain of the War Precautions fetters still rattle about us; but for the most part we are done with that discreditable record, and so I may say with regard to this Treaty, and the invasion of Belgium by the German Army, what I dared not say before: It is hardly necessary for me to remark that, from my point of view, and the point of view of those who think with ‘me, that invasion’ was a monstrous act of aggression, inexcusable to. me or those who think with me. But what of it? It is the accepted principle of international law, adopted by the best text-book writers of the British Universities and law schools, that one of the grounds upon which a treaty may be disregarded is that of national necessity, and that the nation concerned is the sole judge as to what constitutes the national necessity. What hypocrisy it is for- those who believe in this concatenation of make-believe known as international law, to pretend that Germany committed a great wrong in disregarding the treaty which was broken by the invasion of Belgium!
– Germany created the very necessity which it pleaded^
– My honorable friend begs the question. The point I put to him as a lawyer is that the nation, which claims the right to break a treaty is, ‘according to our own text-books, the sole judge of the measure of the necessity.
That is to say, great as were the wrongs done to Belgium, and great as have been the wrongs done to other countries in connexion with this war, we can not base our charge against Germany on any breach of international law, -because the truth is that there has been none.
– What about the Black Sea Treaty?
– Well, what about it?
– The Black Sea Treaty could not be broken without the consent of the great Powers. Every schoolboy knows that Russia was not permitted to break it.
– What point is the honorable member seeking to make?
– That the facts contradict the law.
– Facts often contradict the law. I am pushing this, for the moment, on the basis of the law. The Prime Minister said that whoever had suffered an injustice as a result of this Treaty, it had not been Germany. For once, at all events, I agree with the right honorable gentleman, as in many respects the Treaty is not unjust to Germany. We have been more generous to Germany than to ourselves.
Let me indicate some of the advantages Germany derives, and which are denied to us, by the Treaty. Conscription for Germany has been abolished, but not for the Empire. Was there a representative of a free nation at the Peace Conference who would dare to stand up and deliberately espouse the principle of conscription? Even the representative of the British people (Mr. Lloyd George) condemned it. France alone, hide-bound under conscription, and excused to some extent by the fact that the enemy had devastated her country, stood as the moderate champion of conscription. Consider what conscription cost this country. We threw it in the teeth of those who tried to force it upon us, and we still remain a free people. We who are without the shame of conscription can realize what Germany has gained by the Treaty. She has been told that, as a punishment, she must not have that which some people in this country strove so hard to obtain for us as a blessing. To that extent the German people are better off than we are.
I have already referred to the reduction of armaments. The whole German nation, through her representatives in her governing Assembly, declared wholeheartedly, enthusiastically, and sincerely in favour of the reduction of armaments. It was in their determination to give effect to that policy that the German people behind the German guns - not in front of them - brought the war to a conclusion. They declared in favour of a reduction of armaments; they scuttled their ships off the coast of Scotland, and would gladly have scuttled the ships in their own waters. Are we going to scuttle our ships ? Are we going to share the great advantages which the people of Germany will enjoy by the destruction of these instruments of devastation and oppression? Are we not to derive similar advantages? I trust we will give effect to our pledge to reduce our armaments. I have heard nothing from the Prime Minister in this direction. I have not heard of any promise to scuttle our ships, and send the men who are engaged in their upkeep back to some reproductive work consistent with the principles embodied in this Treaty. Is it not up to the Prime Minister and his Government to tell the British Government that the people of Australia, in the last appeal made to them on the conscription issue, declared emphatically for what Germany has gained?
There is another advantage which Ger many enjoys. At the close of the war, her soil had not been scarified by an invading enemy. Her factories and industries remained intact, and were ready to resume their operations in competition with the whole world. This is of great importance and significance when we consider the position of Germany as a defeated people, but that is a matter, of course, over which we have had no control. Her territory has not been devastated by the horrors of war; but Germany has obtained, as a result of the great conflict, a policy of universal suffrage. We have done something for her and her people to make the world safe for Democracy. Are we going to make our own lands safe for Democracy? The British Parliament enfranchised 9,000,000 electors while the war was in progress, but there are still many millions disenfranchised. What are we going to . do to make our country safe for Democracy? We should examine our own consciences and cure our own faults, and cease vaunting of patriotism, sincerity and singleness of purpose, as though we were without sin. Unless we do these things, we shall not make the world safe for Democracy or secure a guarantee of a permanent peace. Let us’ b egin at home and see that this integral part of the British Empire is in order. We claim to have been represented at the Peace Conference as a nation, and that we share with the Empire the responsibility for this and future wars; so we have a right to convey a polite intimation to the British Government on this matter. In doing so, we shall be shoulder to shoulder with the British Labour party now assembled at Glasgow. Let us convey the information to the British Government that the world will not be safe for Democracy until provision is made for adult suffrage in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
– And in Australia, too.
– Yes. I listenedwith interest to the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Archibald) yesterday, and ventured a mild interjection, but his reply was almost malignant vituperation. I wish him no ill.
– We all know that.
– I hope he knows it. When the honorable member for Hindmarsh referred yesterday to the glorious traditions and the freedom which the people of this Empire enjoy, he should have remembered that he came from the Old Country with a full knowledge of the industrial conditions prevailing there. He came here, no doubt, to carve out his fortune in a new country. As a pioneer, he left behind him conditions which he, as a keen student of the industrial position in the Old World, must have known were deplorable. To talk about the freedom enjoyed by the British people is a travesty on reason. There is no freedom there at all. A statement in Part XIII. of the Peace Treaty reads -
Whereas conditions of labour exist involving such injustice, hardship and privation to large numbers of people as to produce unrest so great that the peace and harmony of the world are imperilled; and an improvement of those conditions is urgently required:
There is no freedom to be proud of. When one realizes the actual conditions, existing in the country from which the honorable member for Hindmarsh came, it is idle to talk of freedom. Was there freedom in the sweated shops of Manchester? Was there freedom in the manufactories of Belfast, Dublin, or Birmingham? Is there freedom or only the simulacrum of freedom, when millions of chattel slaves are disfranchised and exploited? It is idle to talk of freedom where conditions such as these exist, and which are admitted in the document now under consideration. They are conditions which are known by Labour supporters and Socialists, as well as others, to exist throughout the whole world. We were engaged in the war’ for five long years, and not until we have paid the price have those conditions been realized by the pious signatories to this Treaty. As I recommend in the case of adult suffrage, so also do I recommend the consideration to the British Parliament of the industrial conditions prevailing in the British Empire.
We have the Treaty which has been signed by some men whom we know and some whom we do not know. It has been signed by some who represent majorities and some who represent minorities in the countries from which they came. The Prime Minister said that we should not take any notice of the babbling of socialistic Germany; but may I remind him that the babbling of the Socialists in that country brought the war to an end.
– What about Marshal Foch?
– A great soldier and greater man, embodying all those fine qualities which the honorable member for Hindmarsh attributed to him, and showed in such a conspicuous way he did not himself possess. Two months before the war ended we had an excellent illustration of the fact that it is not the greatness of militarism which spells the greatness of a nation, because at that very time, even one month before the armistice, the legions of Germany were still overrunning France, and our brave troops, Australian, British, and Allied, driven back at the point of the bayonet and the cannon’s mouth, were every day permitting the approach of the German Armies to Paris. Shortly before the cessation of hostilities, the fortunes of the Allies appeared to be at the very lowest ebb. Then what took place? It was not that our Armies became stronger, or that our heroes became more heroic and brave, because they could not; the truth was that the babblings of Socialists and Pacifists, the uprising of an outraged German Democracy, made themselves manifest in such a way that in a few short weeks the whole face of things was changed, and the war was ended.
– The honorable member has a great imagination.
– There is no imagination in that. We have the plain records of recent history, too recent and too plain to be misunderstood or misrepresented. An honorable member has suggested that I wish to take credit from our own people. I would take nothing of credit from any one who has suffered wrongs in this war. Those who have lost their lives, those who to-day are bereaved because of such losses, and those in any way associated with the men who have fallen, have suffered a great wrong at the hands of every person who for the last fifty years had contributed to’ make that great world war inevitable. Let them understand that. Let them go in sackcloth and ashes, for that is the proper condition for them for some years to come. And if they cannot divest themselves of their feeling of pompous self-satisfaction, they have not derived the real and correct lesson that ought to be taught by that ->fatal catastrophe of war.
It is the “babbling Socialists,” and those who think with them, at least on the question of war, who have taken the affairs of nations out of the hands of- diplomats. It is the masses of the German and Austrian people, no less than the great Democracy of Great Britain and Ireland, linked up with the Democracy of this great Commonwealth, who have risen in their protest against the curse of militarism, who alone can make war impossible in future, and who alone can give effect to the dry bones of this, paper Treaty. The Treaty itself would be a poor guarantee of peace. It is a promissory note that would be a long time maturing and a longer time in being fulfilled, if it had not behind it the safeguard of an awakened people throughout the world. We hear talk of the Bol sheviks. We hear the honorable member for Hindmarsh declaring that the poor Russian people are unable and unfit to govern themselves. We read about the awakened masses in England and the promises of the Labour party being in power in that country at no very distant date. We read about a congress that is at present being held which, in the most emphatic way, has declared against some of the more obvious injustices perpetrated by their own Government in their own country. . Reading of those things, those who have felt as I have felt, and spoken as I have spoken regarding the war, realize that the great masses of this country are filled with a spirit of revolt against the conditions that made this war inevitable, that spells for the future of mankind salvation and hope.
We have declared in this Treaty for the rights of small nations while declaring that we shall make the world safe for Democracy. It is a curious thing that just as we have ignored the claims of our own people in our own country to be heard at the ballot-box - I speak in the Imperial sense; - so in regard to the rights of small nations have we failed to recognise the unanswerable claim of the sister dominion of Ireland to self-determination and self-government. The right honorable gentleman who leads this House spoke of the claims of Roumania, Servia, Bohemia, and Poland, some of them amongst the more modern and least settled nations of the world ; and I wonder what he said or did for that greater and older nation, that home of music, art, and letters, alongside Britain, regarding her claim for self-determination and selfgovernment. Perhaps he can tell us something; so far he has told us nothing. Let us put our own house in order; let us withdraw from Ireland the army of occupation - to Ireland an alien army of occupation- with all its panoply of war and coercion before we talk about freedom and the rights of small nations.
I regard the Treaty itself as containing, on the one hand, a number of pious aspirations to which the Labour party has assented, and which it has advocated for a number of years. On the other hand, it has been disfigured and disgraced, at the hands of certain reactionaries whose influence, is marked in it, by declarations of a policy of injustice absolutely inconsistent with the future peace and safety of the world. Feeling and deploring the fact that we of the Australian Commonwealth have no right or standing, except merely by courtesy as a signatory to the Treaty, knowing as I do that we had no voice in the declaration of war or in the declaration of peace, Iregard it as profoundly unimportant whether this Parliament assents to or dissents from the Treaty. For my own part, I do not pretend to be satisfied either with its contents or that this Parliamenthas any voice or vote in its ratification. Therefore I. do not propose to record a vote on the matter at all. As to the other motion relating to the defence of France, I merely say that it is so palpably inconsistent and out of harmony with the Treaty that precedes it that to it I am entirely and unequivocably opposed.
– I want to express the very great satisfaction I feel that the House has dealt with this great and historic document without protracted debate. I do not propose to refer in detail to the criticisms of the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan). To do so would be to treat them as if they reflected in any way whatever the opinions of even an appreciable section of the people of Australia. They were delivered in English. They ought to have been delivered in German. The honorable member spoke of making the world safe for Democracy. If the world is safe for Democracy to-day, it is because the counsels of the honorable member and such as he have been spurned by the people of this country. If the world is, or can be made, safe for Democracy, it is because hundreds of thousands of men, including many of the honorable member’s own race, went out, fought, and died, in. order that he and all of us might have liberty. If he is to-day a citizen of the most democratic nation on earth, and is given the opportunity to’ speak as he has done - to abuse the liberty of speech - it is because the privileges of Democracy, which were for five years in deadly peril, have been saved from destruction, and handed back to him and to all of us, stained with the blood of sacrifice. The honorable member babbles about liberty as if he had done anything to achieve liberty. He talks of giving to Labour that which it deserves. There is no man in Australia who has less light to speak for Labour than has the honorable member for Batman. I know the honorable member, and, in due course, I shall deal with him, but the occasion is too great for such a descent.
Let me now briefly deal with some of the criticisms directed against this great Treaty, this Charter of the New World. And first let me say that they appal as well as sadden me, because they aim at belittling Australia and her splendid war record. Some honorable . members have said in so many words, “ What does it matter whether we sign the Treaty or whether we do not sign it?” The men who ask this question are those who, in those dark and dreadful days when liberty and the safety of Australia were in dire peril, said, “ What does it matter ? What can 100,000 Australians do? Why not hire Russians to fight for us?” Where did that craven counsel come from? It came from the same sources, and from the same lips that now babble about Liberty and Democracy. Liberty is assured to all men; Australia is safe. This Treaty, resting as it does On decisive victory for the Armies of Democracy and overwhelming defeat for the Forces of Military Despotism, is their sure guarantee. And yet we hear men say, “ What does it matter whether Australia signs this Treaty or not?” And they call themselves Australians ! I say that no nation has a better right to sign its name to this Treaty than has Australia. All those who say that we played a very subordinate - a negligible - part, who seek to belittle Australia’s share in the great victory, do Australia grievous injury. They dishonour and do infamous wrong to those glorious men who have given Australia all that she now has. No nation, excepting only France, Italy, and Great Britain herself, has a better military record - I do not speak relatively, but absolutely - none has done more to achieve victory, than Australia. If any country has a right to have her name affixed to this Treaty, it is Australia.
We were told the other night by the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Catts), who, ever since 1916, when the schism took place in the Labour party, has been apersistent enemy of his country, that we ought not to sign this Treaty - that we have not enough information. On the one hand, the honorable member for Batman complains of the length of time taken to draft this great Treaty that is to insure liberty and the future peace of the world, and on the other we have the honorable member for Cook asking for further delay. “ What does it matter,” these honorable gentlemen ask, “ whether Australia ratines this Treaty or not?” Let me tell the House and the citizens of the Commonwealth what failure to ratify would mean. If we in Australia do not ratify the Treaty, then we have no right to the mandate for. the islands, without which the safety of this country^ is impossible. If we do not ratify this Treaty, our claim to any indemnity disappears. If we do not ratify the Treaty, we shall lose our membership of the League of Nations, which, on these honorable members’ own showing, is the only hope for the future peace of the world, provided that the spirit of life is breathed into these dry bones, without which it is a dead thing.
– Hear, hear!
– We lose our right to stand in the International Congress of Labour.
– Hear, hear!
– I remind the honorable member that I did not interrupt him when he was speaking.
– The honorable gentleman was not here. That is why.
– All these things- the things for which our soldiers fought and died - the safety of the Commonwealth, our place at the great Council of the Nations, our place in the great International Parliament of Labour, our share in the indemnity - will be lost to us if we do not ratify this Treaty. We are told to delay ratification. Why ? . Because we should have more information. What further information is needed ? We know where we were, and where we are. We were in deadly peril, and are now saved.
It has been said that Peace has come to the world through the Socialists of Germany. There never was a grosser or more . monstrous perversion of the truth. There never was a viler slander on the Armies of the Allies. There never was a more whining, canting, hypocritical misstatement. Peace come through the Socialists of Germany! The Socialists of Germany were for the war policy of the Kaiser. The Majority Socialists - the party in power to-day - until all hopes of victory for military despotism had vanished, supported the war aims of Germany. Up to the day when the last great offensive had been shattered, and the German legions thrown back, headlong, broken, and reeling, they stood for war and not for peace, for might against right. They were annexationists. They were, as I shall show by extracts from their own manifesto, for the last ounce of their pound of flesh. They were for world domination, for militarism, and all that militarism stands for. If they now speak of peace, of justice, of Democracy, of the rights of other nations, it is because German militarism has been broken on the wheel; her power to overthrow Democracy and liberty shattered. If military despotism has been destroyed, and peace and liberty have come to the world, it is despite the Socialists of Germany. Germany, braggart and arrogant in the hour of victory, now whines like a .canting hypocrite, hoping to deceive a world that she sought to destroy. Peace has come, not through the Socialists of Germany, but through the valour and sacrifice of the Armies of the Allies. Peace came through victory.
Let me remind honorable members of the circumstances that brought about peace. Allenby’s victory in Turkey, which, as I said, when I had the honour of proposing this motion, was perhaps the greatest military victory the world has ever seen, was the beginning of the end. After the fall ‘ of Turkey there came the fall of Bulgaria and of Austria. The crushing Allied offensive on the Western Front, which began on 8th! August, was the destruction of her last hopes. When. Germany asked for peace heT position was so desperate that if an armistice bad not been granted her armies would have been almost annihilated, and Germany invaded and overrun. Hindenburg, who cannot be accused of not knowing his business, told Schiedemann and other Socialists, members of the German Government, who did not want to agree te the terms of the armistice, that he could not answer for the Army, and they must sign; There was no alternative for Germany save complete destruction. Ludendorff has himself told us that after the 8th August he abandoned all hope. Nothing is more certain than that the world owes peace to victory by the Allied
Forces - to that, and that alone. One thing, and one thing only, brought peace about, and made the world safe for Democracy, and that was the valour of those who dared to fight for their country and the great ideals on. which Democracy rests.
Let me prove by one or two quotations what were the aims . of the Majority Socialists and other parties in. Germany in 1917 and 1918. The Finance Minister of Saxony in November, 1917, said -
Germany must demand a war indemnity without bothering about whether her adversaries could pay it; let them only think of America. Indemnities were the best means of preventing future wars.
Prince Salm-Horstmar, in the Prussian Diet, said -
Poland must bear a due proportion of our war costs. But we must also demand war indemnities from the rest of our enemies. They must pay till they are black in the face, so that they may be weakened for at least 100 years. The leaden weight of the milliards of which Herr Helfferich spoke is not to be trailed about by us, but by our enemies.
That speech was delivered on the 10th April, 1918, when the German offensive was in full swing. The Munchner Post, the organ of the Majority Socialists, who claim to be the saviours of Democracy, said in 1918 -
In all parties there are probably men who are convinced that an annexationist peace in the West as a supplement to the annexationist peace in theEast would not be for Germany’s good, but there is no solid majority in the Reichstag which is acting consistently in this conviction. If the action in the West closes with a complete military success, if France and England can really be forced to submit to the conditions imposed upon them by the conqueror, then it is improbable that the Reichstag will appear as a deciding factor. Minorities are powerless, and can do nothing more than protest.
The Majority Socialists, when the armies of Germany were sweeping on to victory, were for annexations - they were Imperialists; they were for huge indemnities, for might against right - but as the fortunes of the Germans fell so their tone changed. They did not sue for peace until the last hope of victory had vanished ; until Turkey and Bulgaria had surrendered unconditionally; until their legions on the Western Front were hopelessly defeated. Peace is not due to them; it is due to the victory of the Allied Armies. It is due to the soldiers and sailors of Australia, of the British Empire, of France, of all the Allied countries. To them our liberty is due, and to no one else. If we are here to-day, able to speak about Democracy - to speak our minds, to say what we think, we owe it, not to those who prated of peace ina world where there was no peace, but to those who went out prepared to shed their blood, and, if necessary, give their lives.
On the 10th April, 1917, LieutenantGeneral Keim, who was three years and a half Governor of the Belgian province of Limburg, said -
The Belgian question is the question of Germany’s fate. To give up Belgium is to abandon the Flemings, upon whicha frightful penalty would fall. The Flemish coast is indispensable for us. But without a Hinterland it could not be held twenty-four hours.
That was in the height of the German offensive. Again, Hindenburg, on the 2nd April, telegraphed to theReichstag -
With the army, I know that the Reichstag understands this desire of the brave men at the Front, the best zone of the people, and that for its part it will also champion a strong German peace, which ‘ alone can preserve us from war in the future.
On the 5th April, the Frankfurter Zeitung said -
Political neutrality can, therefore, only be observed if Belgium does not possess any armed forces which could awaken in her the ambition to play the part of the tongue of the balance. If Belgium wants to recover her neutrality, it is only conceivable on that condition.
Honorable members will remember that the German Chancellor put forward an offer of peace before the March offensive was launched by Germanyin 1918, but when that offensive seemed to give promise of complete victory, Herr Trimborn,Reichstag Deputy for Cologne, declared at a meeting of 800 Centre delegates, that since all overtures had failed, victory must bring peace. He was convinced that “ the peace terms which will emerge (on the West) lake the peace terms in the East, will be approved by the party and its deputies.”
At a public meeting of the Progressive party, reported on 7th April, Dr. Ablass said -
After the enemy’s refusal of the Chancellor’s peace offer before the offensive, we must demand from them a reckoning for all the blood and money needlessly sacrificed. We are no longer bound to our earlier conditions.
This is what the Germans said in 1917 and 1918. Nowlet us turn to what they did. I have here the Brest-Litovsk and the Rumanian Treaties. The other day the Leader of the Opposition (Mr.
Tudor) said that, the Peace of Versailles was a. peace by negotiation ; that what had been achieved by that Treaty had been, advocated by him and his supporters during the war, namely, peace by negotiation. He would have the House and the country believe that the same peace could have been achieved without victory. But peace by negotiation was impossible when Germany, as- she thought, was sweeping on to victory, and her only aim was to crush us and to reduce us to the ler el of helots. It was not until her military power had been broken that she was willing to negotiate. In the hour of victory she had been a braggart; she had drenched the earth with blood; she had but one argument - the sword ; worshipped at one altar - that of the God of Force. In the hour of defeat the. arrogant bully became a whining sycophant. This Power, which in the. hour of victory strode the earth like a Colossus, shaking as though it was superman or God,, bleated like a lamb in the hour of defeat, and pleaded to the President of the United States of America for mercy. But the Brest-Litovsk and Rumanian Treaties show in lurid light the real Germany, revealing at once its brutality, its injustice, its determination to enslave and crush the world. Let me quote from a speech of mine delivered in London last summer -
The Brest-Litovsk Treaty sheds an illuminating light upon Germany’s hopes, fears, and aims. It proves completely that what Germany is really aiming at is economic domination of the world. Under the Brest-Litovsk Treaty, Germany prohibits Russia from imposing duties, or preventing the export of minerals and timber. But, of course, Russia is to allow German goods in under the favoured nation treatment.
She goes even further. Knowing her trade, her greatness as an Empire in the past has depended solely upon the generosity or shortsightedness of the Allied nations, she is determined, while she has the power, to maintain the conditions which made her great. So clause 9 of the Appendix roads: - “ The contracting parties agree that, on the conclusion of peace, the state of war shall likewise terminate in the commercial and financial spheres. They undertake not to participate, directly or indirectly, in any measures aiming at the continuation of hostilities in such spheres, and to oppose such measures within their own dominions by all means at their disposal.”
In plain English, what Germany desired was- that her goods should go into Russia duty free, while Russia’s raw materials were to be made available on terms and in quantities to be determined by Germany. Russia was, in fact, to be Germany’s economic vassal. The Treaty withRumania imposed upon that country an indemnity of £200,000,000, and sought to destroy her national sovereignty. Rumania, like Russia, was compelled to furnish Germany with large quantities of raw materials at. prices fixed by Germany. When the- Rumanian delegates complained of the severity of the terms, the Germans cynically remarked, “Wait, until you see the conditions we shall impose upon the other Allies.” It was the real Germany that spoke these, words. The Brest-Litovsk and Rumanian Treaties show the world Germany as she was in the hour of victory; as she would be to-day had she but power to impose her will upon a prostrate world. By their works shall ye know them ! As they were in 1914, so they were in- 1917 and 1918. Their words and- deeds alike condemn them - giving proof conclusive of their insatiable ambition, and the bloody means by which they sought to realize it. Germany, this nation in which, mark you, the Majority Socialists were allpowerful, where indeed now they rule sought to. enslave Russia and Rumania. And yet we are told that peace came to the world through them ! If any one i9 blood guilty in this war, it is they. If the Kaiser is guilty of the bloodiest crime ever committed by any nation since the beginning of time, the guilt rests equally upon the people of Germany. They tore from. Russia - from a people desiring peace; an unconquered people; a people seeking to strike off the fetters of Autocracy, to’ be free to govern- themselves in their own way - the provinces of Esthonia and Ukraine,, and imposed cruelly unjust and crushing economic conditions upon the Russian people. And these things they did to a Russia, as I have said, unconquered, seeking peace. Yet in the face of the Brest-Litovsk Treaty, in the face of the plain declarations of the war aims of Germany, even so late as 1918, my friends opposite declare we could have had peace - a peace as good as this, they imply - by negotiation in 1917-18 ! I say that mv friend, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor), if he have regard to all the facts, and to all that has come and gone, must know that but for these men in the Allied Armies, who were prepared to resist even unto death, we, in this freest of all 00un. tries, would be shorn of our freedom, and our privileges and be forbidden to speak or act save as some Prussian burgomaster should direct.
I turn now to deal with some further remarks of the Leader of the Opposition. He quoted resolutions passed by the Labour party in June and December, 1917, showing that the idea of the League of Nations rested upon the foundation of what happened at the Labour Conference held in Perth in 1917. I do not wish to disturb the calm serenity of his mind, but I may point out that, at the Adelaide Labour Conference in 1915, nearly two years earlier, I had the honour of moving a resolution, which was carried, despite the opposition of a large number of gentlemen who have since done me the greatest possible honour by becoming my enemies, affirming the principle of arbitration for the settlement of international disputes with, behind it, an armed force capable of enforcing the decisions of the League of Nations.
I come now to the criticism of the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Catts). I quote from the newspaper reports of his speech. He is reported as having said that I was in some measure censurable for the retention by Japan of the Caroline and Marsh all Islands; that, in effect, I pretended to put up a fight for them, but did not do so, and that it would have been better if, instead of the present mandate, the islands of the Pacific were under international control.I will deal with the honorable member’s point by citing the facts. When I had the honour to represent the Commonwealth’ in England in 1916 I was then Prime Minister of the LabourGovernment and Leader of the Labour party, comprising all those except one that I see on the opposite side of the House, and many others who are not now representative of the people. Among other matters I was instructed to deal with the disposition of the islands. When I came back from England, and long before there was any division between us as members of the Labour party, I made my report to the party, and subsequently made a statement to a secret session of the Parliament, held towards the end of August in that year. I spoke, of course, on behalf of the whole party. I want to say, first of all that I met my colleagues in the Labour Govern ment, among whom were’ the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Tudor), the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs), and Senator Gardiner, who represented the Government in another place, and gave an account of my stewardship, explaining all that had been done. I am not, of course, permitted to quote my exact words, although I have refreshed my memory by looking at the records.
– Are these Cabinet secrets ?
– Will you hold your tongue, if you can ? Speaking from memory, I do not think I ever received a more flattering and more cordial reception, or such a whole-hearted indorsement of what I had done, as on that occasion. I then went to the party meeting. All these gentlemen were there. They heard what I had to say about the islands, and the gentleman who moved the resolution -
– You did nothing of the kind.
– Will the honorable member hold his tongue? The gentleman who moved the resolution approving of what I had done was the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Catts).
-You are a liar! You tell lies.
-Order! I call upon the honorable member for Cook to withdraw and apologize to the House for his insulting observation.
– In accordance with the Standing Orders, I do so.
– The gentleman who moved the resolution - -
– I rise to a point of order. The Prime Minister has misrepresented me by saying what is untrue ; and I ask that he be called upon to withdraw.
– Order ! The honorable member has offended again. I ask him to withdraw and apologize for his statement that the Prime Minister said something about him that was untrue.
– I do so; and say that the statement is inaccurate.
– Order ! The honorable member must not qualify his withdrawal.
– I have a very good memory, unfortunately, and, although the minute-books of the party do not always show everything that is spoken at the meetings, I think I may fairly ask that, if there is any difference of opinion between us, the minute-book should be produced, so that we may have a look at it. In the meantime, I repeat what I have said. My statement was approved at that meeting. I then went to a secret session of the Parliament, which I addressed. I appeal to those who were at that secret session, at which members of both parties in the two Houses were present, who’ know very well that I dwelt at considerable length on the Japanese question, so far as it related to the islands, to bear out what I say. It is inconceivable that I should say to the secret session; which members of the then Opposition attended, what I had not said to my own party.
When I went to England in 1916 I was instructed by the Government, in which the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Tudor) was one of my colleagues, in regard to this very matter. I have the instruction in writing, and I acted on it. When I returned to Australia I explained what I had said and done in regard to this and other matters vital to the interests of Australia. I went again to England in 1918. Before my departure I explained the position to my then Government. The view . taken by that Government was exactly the same as that of the previous Government or Governments. There have been so many of them that I have lost count; but the policy of all agreed on this point. It could hardly be otherwise, for there was no alternative. I took, up the same position in 1918. I entered the same protest as I had done in 1916. I have here a document which speaks for itself. I cannot read the whole of it ; but in it Mr. Bonar Law, who was the Secretary of State for the Colonies during that time, says that “ Mr. Hughes had only acquiesced in that which was already done.” For whatever was done, so far as the allocation of the islands was concerned, I am not responsible, nor, indeed, is Australia responsible. We accepted the position as we found it and as it had to be. We did not accept it without setting out our own views. I made our position quite clear several times. I explained when I came back exactly what had been done. Each time I received the indorsement of the party to which I belonged, and of the Govern- ment, and, in 1916, of the whole of the Parliament summoned in secret session. So much for that point.
It was said by the honorable member “for Cook that it would have been far better if the islands had been internationalized. I cannot understand the frame of mind of a man who would say that in the face of the facts. Consider what international control would mean in relation to immigration, trade, and navigation. This is the only country in the world whose policy in regard to immigration goes as far as the White Australia policy. It is true that in the western States of America their outlook is not very different from our own on this matter, but their laws and their circumstances differ very materially. Our laws and our circumstances are alike almost unique. International control, on the very face of things, would most certainly be unsympathetic to our policy. Yet that policy is essential, not only to our welfare, but to our national safety. An appeal to a concrete fact shows this: In the League of Nations Commission, where the question of equality of racial treatment was decided, an overwhelming majority was recorded against us. I want honorable members to bear this fact in .mind. Nothing is surer in this world than that .international control would mean the complete demolition of the White Australia policy. We are 5,000,000 people, and we arrogate to ourselves the right to say to the whole world, “ You cannot come in here without our consent” - that is, into a country that will hold 200,000,000 people. Yet the honorable member would have us intrust to those who know nothing of our circumstances, who do not share our ambitions, understand or sympathize with our ideals, control over our destiny! It would be for us the end. Not only national, but economic safety forbids it. The opendoor policy is a sine qua non in the mandates of the second and third classes. And if we have an open door, where is our trade 1 How are we going to protect the industries of this country, how bear the tremendous burden of debt imposed by the war? International control would aim a deadly blow at our trade and industry. Under international control how could we secure the trade of these islands which legitimately belong to us? Are we going to abandon everything necessary for our salvation as we would be doing under international control ? Patriotism, common sense, and material interests alike declare that such a policy would mean the destruction of Australia. It is of vital importance to us that the mercantile marine trade between these islands and Australia should be gained for Australia, that our flag should fly in these waters, not only on account of trade benefits but also, in order to provide employment for our seamen. Under international government control of these vital things would pass from our hands. Unless we are to be the mandatory over these islands all those great opportunities for trade which they offer will ‘ pass from us like morning mist dissipated by the sun. Those then who urge international control in place of control by Australia are counsellors of a policy of national and economic destruction.
This Treaty gives us, if no’t all that we could wish, much that is vital to our national and economic welfare. In the allocation of the islands, Australia acquiesced in a situation determined by authorities outside. .Australia accepted the inevitable. What else were we to do ? It should not be forgotten that we were engaged in a battle of life and death at this moment. Each Government of which I have had the honour to be a member took that view. Upon the shoulders of the British Government was the crushing weight of responsibility for the war, so far as the Empire was concerned. The British Government asked us to act in a certain way; and we acted in that way. And what citizen shall blame us? At any rate, whatever blame be attachable - if there be any at all - rests upon the shoulders of all, and not upon those of any one man. Every member on both sides of the Federal Parliament understood the position in regard to the Pacific thoroughly; heard it from my own lips, stated quite clearly, over and over again, both in relation to the particular aspect with which I have just dealt, and to others which I shall not mention now.
There is one other matter arising out of the White Australia policy which I desire to make clear. When speaking the
Other day I omitted to mention a most material incident.. During the course of the long negotiations in Paris, I made clear to the Japanese delegates what the real attitude of Australia towards their country was. I said that we admired the great qualities of the Japanese people, that we cheerfully and cordially acknowledged their equality, that we were their neighbours, we were their friends, and we hoped to remain their friends. We sought to quarrel with no man, but wished to live in peace and amity with all the world. I said, however, that as a selfgoverning nation whose citizens had fought for liberty and the right to govern themselves in their own way, we claimed the right to decide for ourselves who should be admitted within our country’s gates. I believe these are the views of the citizens of Australia.
The negotiations in relation to the Equality of Nations clause in the League of Nations extended over many months. The proposed clause was amended many times, both by the Japanese delegates themselves and by others. The first draft which was put forward in February last read as follows : - 7
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.
In April I had the honour of a visit from Baron Makino and Viscount Chinda, who placed before me another amendment differing in verbiage, but seeking to effect the same purpose. The matter was discussed at considerable length, and on several occasions subsequently I met the Japanese delegates. The subject was considered from every aspect. The British Delegation - that is to say, that body which is called the Imperial Cabinet - discussed it at several sittings and finally remitted it for consideration to the Dominion Ministers - ‘Sir Robert Borden, the late General Botha, General Smuts, Mr. Massey, and myself. We conferred with the Japanese Delegation. The suggestion that equality of treatment should apply only to those already inside Australia came from quite another source. It is necessary that I should make this point clear, since from a perusal of my speech on the motion honorable members might assume it had emanated from the ‘ Japanese Delegation. That, however, was not so. The Japanese Delegation never suggested it. It would have been quite insufficient for their purpose. It came from another source entirely.
I come now to the incident which I omitted to mention in my speech when moving the motion. On the 11th April, in the presence of General Botha and General Smuts, I informed Baron Makino that I would accept his amendment in the form in which it was then presented, provided that immigration should he excluded in express words. But to that Baron Makino would not agree. In the circumstances, therefore, I could not accept his amendment. This makes the position perfectly clear. There was no option for me as representative of Australia. I was not there to argue whether the policy Australia has adopted is right or wrong. I was there to reflect the opinions of the people of Australia; and with the views of the Australian people I was, and am, in hearty accord! I was there, to represent -them. I did so, and I am convinced that ninety-nine out of every hundred citizens of Australia approve of what has Deen done.
There is one other matter mentioned by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Wallace) to which I desire to make a brief reference. The honorable member stated that the Germans were not responsible for beginning the war. That is really a most amazing statement for any citizen of Australia to make in view of all the facts. It is impossible for me to cite’ one-hundredth part of the evidence - crushing and conclusive- to rebut, such a statement I will content myself with a quotation from Mr Morgenthau, who was American Ambassador at Constantinople during the war He says -
Wangenheim, the German Ambassador, told me before the battle of the Marne, when it appeared that victory, complete and speedy, was assured for Germany, that he had been summoned to Berlin soon after the assassination of the Grand Duke of Austria. He explained his sudden departure in the following terms : - “ I was summoned to Berlin to assist at a great Imperial Council held at Potsdam on the ,5th July, which was presided over by the Kaiser. Nearly all the ambassadors from the surrounding important States were there, and I had been invited to give, with accuracy, all the information concerning Turkey, and to enlighten my colleagues upon the general situation of that nation, which was then already considered as the pivot of imminent war. All the bankers were there, the military authorities, the railroad directors, and ‘the chiefs of German industry - all those who were necessary for war. It was a great Conference. The Kaiser presided, and he put to every one present the question, ‘Are you ready for’ war?’ and all responded, ‘ Yes/ excepting the financiers, who asked for two weeks’ delay in order to negotiate their outstanding foreign bills of exchange and to withdraw their loans. At this particular moment, very few people considered that the tragedy of Serajevo was an event likely to lead to war.”. At this Conference Wangenheim told me that all precautions had been taken to allay suspicion and to preserve secrecy. Everybody left the Conference to take steps to organize for the imminent war. The members departed their respective ways - the Kaiser took flight to Norway, Von’ BethmannHollweg to rest, and Wangenheim returned to Constantinople.
Mr. Morgenthau, who is an American of German descent, goes on to say -
The various books - blue, red, and yellow - which submerged Europe during the first months following the declaration of war, and the hundreds of documents published by the German propaganda in order to whitewash the Berlin Government, have not made the slightest impression upon me. Because my conclusions are. not based on suspicions, or upon an opinion, ‘ or upon the study of accidental data - I have no need to dispute or argue upon this question. I know. This conspiracy, which has caused the greatest of human tragedies, was plotted by the Kaiser and his caramilla at this Potsdam Conference on 5th July, 1014.
Wangenheim not only related to me all these details, but he revealed them to the Marquis Garroni, Italy’s representative at Constantinople.
Italy at that time, of course, was an ally of Germany. Here we have from the fountain-head, evidence, as I have said, crushing and conclusive. In itself it seems to be the coping-stone of the great edifice, of facts proving Germany’s guilt. This indiscreet confession of Wangenheim, drunk with the prospect of speedy and complete victory, supplies absolute and convincing proof that the war was a deliberate conspiracy to assassinate and destroy the civilized world. Even the tragedy of Serajevo, the assassination of the Grand Duke of Austria, was probably the handiwork of that -same gang of bloody conspirators who throughout the war had the full backing of the majority Socialists of Germany.
I have only one word more to say, and it is of a personal character, and refers to a statement made by the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Catts) regarding an article which appeared in the baily Mail. The honorable member said that I had written it. There is no foundation whatever for his statement. I did not write it, I did not inspire it, and I knew nothing of it until it had been written and despatched. I was informed of it when it had gone. I explained what I thought about it, and there my connexion with it ended.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. I did not interrupt the Prime Minister when he was speaking, but I understood him to say that I was a member of the Government which agreed to the cession of the Pacific Islands north of the equator to Japan, and that we had practically handed them over to that country.
– I did not say anything of the kind.
-No Government of which I was amember agreed to any treaty under which those islands were to be handed over to Japan. If any treaty of that sort was made by any Government with which I was associated, I am absolutely ignorant of it.
– I, too, desire, to make a personal explanation. I understood the Prime Minister to say that I was present at a Cabinet meeting at which he informed the Cabinet of an arrangement which had been made by Great Britain with Japan, under the terms of which Japan was to assume control of the Pacific Islands north of the equator ; that I was present at a Caucus meeting of the Labour party, at which he ex-plained that the Commonwealth Government had consented to that agreement; and, further, that at a secret meeting of Parliament he had explained the matter to the members assembled there. I wish to say that I was not present at any Cabinet meeting at which the Prime Minister informed his colleagues of any such an arrangement having been enteredinto with Japan, nor was I present at any Caucus meeting of the Labour party at which such an arrangement was mentioned. Further, I never attended any secret meeting of Parliament, because I do not believe in secret sessions.
– By way of personal explanation, may I point out that I did not say what has been attributed to me. Of course, I cannot read from the secret documents in my possession. But I quoted what Mr. Bonar Law had said in reply to a protest which I made in London in 1918. When I returned to Australia in. 1916, I explained the attitude which I had taken up. I put it before the Labour party, and I discussed it at great length before the secret session of both Houses of this Parliament. The position was thoroughly well known at that time, and I pointed out that the responsibility for that position Tested, not on my shoulders, but on the shoulders of those who were charged with the conduct of the war.
– Is the honorable gentleman referring to the Pacific Islands?
– Yes. There are obvious reasons why I cannot go into further details. The position is exactly as it was in 1916. It has not been altered. It could not be altered by us of by any one. There it is as it came from the Secretary of State for the Colonies. We simply acquiesced in something which had already been done,
– I wish to make a personal explanation. In the course of my remarks upon this motion, I said that the disposition of these islandswas agreed to in 1915. The Prime Minister is referring to the disposition of them in 1916, twelve months later. He suggests that at a meeting of the Labour party before he went to Great Britain, and when he was Prime Minister, the matter of the disposition of the islands was mentioned, and that he made a statement as to what was to be done about them ; furthermore, that he had the authority of the party for what was done.
– I had the authority of the Labour Government, not of the Labour party. The party heard all about it when I returned from Great Britain.
– The Prime Minister’s explanation now eliminates the party from any responsibility in connexion with the matter until his return from Britain in the second half of the year 1916.
– The honorable member can only make a personal explanation in regard to something in which he was personally concerned or misrepresented.
– I submit that I have been grossly misrepresented. The Prime Minister now says that on his return from Great Britain he reported to a meeting of the party, at which I was present, some arrangement as to the disposition of these islands ; but I say emphatically that at no meeting of the party at which I was present was any reference made to the disposition of the islands.
– What a lie!
– I ask that the Prime Minister be called upon to withdraw that remark and apologize.
– I ask the Prime Minister to withdraw his remark and apologize.
– I do so.
– I was present at the meeting of the party. At that meeting the Prime Minister made reference to attempts that were being made to allow Japanese to enter Australia, and spoke of his efforts to prevent them. I thanked him for what he had done, and cordially indorsed his attitude, but at no meeting of any party have I ever heard any reference made by the Prime Minister or any other member to the disposition of these islands, and it came as a great surprise to me when I saw several reports of the Versailles Conference proceedings that, when the right honorable gentleman raised the question of the disposition of the islands, he was confronted with what was called the Fisher Agreement of 1915. It was absolutely the first intimation I had of any such disposition of the islands, and I asked a question in the House-
– Order! The honorable member cannot go into any other matter beyond a personal explanation concerning something upon which he has been misrepresented.
– I could not easily forget a thing of that kind - the Japanese Pacific policy has been an obsession with me during the last four years - but I consulted my colleagues and my Leader in order to refresh my memory if I could possibly have forgotten, and they have assured me that at no meeting of the party was any reference even made to the disposition of the islands.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Order of the day for the resumption of the. debate from 10th September (vide page 12179), on motion by Mr. Hughes, called on -
That this House approves the Treaty made 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 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 security and 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.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Electoral Act and Referendum (Constitution Alteration) Act - Regulations Amended -
Statutory Rules 1919, No. 229.
Public Service Act -
Promotion of C. J. Townsend, Department of the Treasury.
Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1919, No. 225.
Nauru Island Agreement Bill - Inter national Labour Conference - Repatriation : Business Investments - Sale of Wool Clip - Randwick Hospital : Treatment of Returned Soldiers - Hampton Plains Gold-field : Flotation of Companies - Anzac Tweed Industry.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
Copies of the Nauru Island Agreement Bill, the second reading of which I shall move at the next sitting, have been circulated, and I ask honorable members to peruse them between now and Wednesday, because it will be necessary to proceed to the conclusion of the debate on the Bill without adjournment.
– I understand that the Prime Minister has made representations to the Trades and Labour Councils of Australia, with a view to the selection of representatives to attend the International Labour Conference to be held in Washington next month; but there is a very large number of trade unions, some of the largest in Australia, not affiliated with Trades and Labour Councils. As it is essential that the gentleman selected to represent the industrial section of the community should at least have the approval of the majority of trade unions, I ask the
Prime Minister to get into consultation with the bodies not affiliatedwith Trades and Labour Councils, and devise some means whereby a suitable representative may be chosen to attend the Conference at Washington.
– In spite of the differences of opinion between the Prime Minister and myself,I want to put certain matters right, if I can, especially in regard to repatriation. I have always admitted that the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) is doing his best to assist our returned men. I wish to bring before the Prime Minister the case of a man named Leslie Edward Cowell, who enlisted in the 7th Battalion, on the 20th August, 1914. He left Australia in December, 1914, and returned in January, 1919. He is a single man, who had not had any commercial experience. When he returned he invested his deferred pay in a small business; but, as a result of industrial troubles, found himself in difficulties. Under the existing regulations, he is unable to receive any help from the Repatriation Department. Others have experienced similar difficulties, and I am sure the Prime Minister will admit that men who are so embarrassed should receive some consideration from the Department.
– Ask him to write to me, and I will see if I can fix the matter up.
– To you personally?
.- In reply to a question I submitted to the Prime Minister, he stated that had he been in Australia the last wool clip would not have been sold. I would like him to give reasons, for the benefit of the woolgrowers of Australia. High prices are being offered for small parcels on the other side of the world, but the woolgrowers were not out to make excessive profits; they were anxious to dispose of their product at a reasonable figure. The statement of the Prime Minister will have an unsettling effect, and the wool-growers would be glad to have some explanation of it. The wool was sold at the time when the German thrust had almost reached the French coast, and submarines had practically shut up shipping. The Central Wool Committee, in view of the gravity of the situation, felt almost ashamed to ask the British Government to purchase the incoming clip. At that time the wool season had practically ended; the incoming clip was upon us, and the sale of our off-shears sheep was awaiting the decision of the British Government. And, further, the people were being asked for subscriptions to the war loan, and a special appeal was being made to the pastoralists. We did not consider whether we could get more or less for the clip. We were not out for excessive profits, and we asked only whether or not the British Government would purchase the clip. The Wool Committee were anxious, and had to make the necessary arrangements for carrying on the huge undertaking. The answer of the British Government that they would purchase the wool was gratefully received by all, with the exception of one or two disgruntled growers. The offer was acceptable, not only to the wool-growers, hut to the commercial and banking institutions; and the statement that a higher price should have been received is calculated to unsettle the growers, and reflect upon us all. A statement from the Prime Minister giving reasons why the clip should not have been disposed of would be very welcome. I am sure the Prime Minister did not intend to reflect in any way upon the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt), Sir John Higgins, or the Central Wool Committee.
– Certainly not.
– The wool-growers did not wish to take any unfair advantage of the situation, and would hail with delight a still further continuance of the wool scheme. Last June, there were 1,300,000 bales unshipped which had been sold to the British Government and paid for, and for which freight had been secured. No additional wool could come on to the market until that was out of the way. Four British pastoral companies had the impertinence to interview the Government and speak on behalf of the growers of Australia, and the Acting Prime Minister stated that a continuance of the scheme was not intended. On behalf of the growers, I wish to ask why they were ignored, and why four British pastoral; companies should, for reasons unknown, speak on behalf of the Australian woolgrowers? If the Prime Minister will explain the position, he will give satisfaction to our Australian wool producers. I urged upon Sir John Higgins the absolute necessity of obtaining an answer from the British Government, no matter how dark the outlook. Speaking generally, I assure the Prime Minister that the g rowers of Australia are thoroughly satised with the treatment they have received from the British Government, and his explanation is awaited.
.- I wish to direct the attention of thePrime Minister to the position of the men who are attending theRandwick Hospital. During recent months, some thousands of returned invalids have been compelled to go to their own homes instead of being accommodated at the Hospital. They are not receiving any assistance apart from their military pay. They are compelled to live at home, and, owing to the high cost of living, feel they have been very harshly treated. In reply to a question, I was informed that free meals would be provided at the Institution; but what advantage is that to men who have to travel, in some cases, many miles to receive medical attention. Some, I believe, would have to come from Newcastle. I am anxious to see that these men receive a fair deal, and that they are paid the 2s. 3d. per day which it would cost to feed them. Whilst they are receiving the attention of military doctors they must attend at the hospital, and it is only fair that they should get the ration money that would be expended on them if they were inmates.
– In answer to a question which was asked in the House to-day, and a statement published in the Argus regarding the attitude of the Treasurer towardsthe flotation of companies for developing the Hampton Plains Gold-fields in Western Australia, I desire to state that there have been two applications from Western Australia for the flotation of companies called “ The Block 50 Syndicate” and ‘” the Hampton Option Syndicate “ respectively. In each case the application was for permission to issue 6,000 shares at £1 each, and both were granted. Two other applications were received from South Australia for permission to float companies with capitals of £100,00,0 and £40,000 respectively. In each case the Treasury agreed to a capi tal flotation of £20,000, that amount being considered sufficient when judged by the applications that had been received from Western Australia.
.- I ask the Prime Minister to take the earliest opportunity of giving effect to the promise he has made to place the Anzac Tweed Industry on a definite footing. This enterprise is now in the balance. The right honorable gentleman has promised that at the earliest possible date the decision of the Government will be made known, so that these returned soldiers may continue to turn out the splendid cloth they are now producing.
– Have I not told the House over and over again that I have the matter in hand? As soon as the Executive of the Returned Soldiers Association see me, as they have arranged to do, they will be given an answer. I know all about the matter, and I shall attend to it.
– Many of us in this House have been urging-
– They have told me all this first-hand.
– For months wo have been told -
– But I have not been here for months. I have been back in Australia only two or three weeks.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.19 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 19 September 1919, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1919/19190919_reps_7_89/>.