8th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Elliot Johnson) took the chair at 2.30 p.m. and read prayers.
victorian government. MlNE.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that theVictorian Government has refused to observe, in regard to the Morwellmine, the award of the Coal. Tribunal? If so, what action does the right honorable gentleman intend to take ?
– I have not been officially informed by the State Government of its attitude towards the award, but I have seen the reports in the press, and I had a conversation with Mr. Hibble yesterday afternoon. I do not know at the present moment what action is open to the Commonwealth. I hope that we may be able to find some means of settlement, and to that end I have taken certain steps this morning, and shall not fail to do everything possible to secure a settlement. But the honorable gentleman must realize that the Constitution limits the interference of the Commonwealth in regard to State instrumentalities. I should not like to say precisely what our powers in this matter are, but I doubt if they extend as far as he seems to think they mav.
– I ask the Minister for Works and Railways if Mr. Griffin has agreed to accept a position on the Committee or Board proposed to be established in connexion with the Federal Capital.
– Not yet.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Defence aware that a number of boys, who enlisted at seventeen years of age, and had good records for many years of active service, are now confined in the Pentridge Gaol for the committal of merely one offence, and, if so,willhe make inquiries with a view to having them released at an early date ?
– I have already had inquiries made regarding those serving sentences in the Pentridge Gaol, a-nd this Government has done its utmost to extend to them all the benefits and leniency possible under the circumstances.
Mr.FENTON. - I wish to know from the Treasurer whether, by the measure which we passed yesterday, we have given the control of money borrowed from the Notes Fund, chiefly by the States, and totalling, I think, something like £30,000,000, to the Commission that is to be appointed. Will it have sole control of these loans when they mature, or will the Treasurer have control of them?
– All assets and liabilities will be transferred by the Bill, including those to which the honorable member refers, but the assets will not include profits already made, most of which are invested in our own public works. We keep those profits, but otherwise transfer all liabilities and assets.
Basic Wage - Appointment of Arbitrator - Wages Tribunal
– Is the Prime Minister aware of the disturbed state of mind of the Commonwealth public servants regarding the Basic Wage, and will he take steps to relieve their anxiety by making to them their just payments?
– Like many other honorable members, I have recently received many telegrams from public servants, and if the disturbance of their mind is proportionate to the number of these telegrams, we must assume that they are very disturbed. I shall take steps to expedite the Basic Wage Report at the earliest possible moment. When I have an opportunity to see the Solicitor-General, I shall see what can be done to that end.
– Has the Government done anything towards appointing a Public Service Arbitrator? If not, when is it its intention to make an appointment ?
– The Government has not yet made an appointment. The public servants have expressed the desire that applications should be called for, and we shall probably agree to that. It will then be open for any person to apply for the position.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to an award of Mr. Justice StaTke, which reduces the remuneration of a branch of the Public Service and will he take into consideration the appointment of a special Tribunal to deal with employment in the Public Service, and the question of wages?
– My attention has not. been drawn to the award, but the Industrial Peace Act was not intended to deal with the Public Service, which is, and must continue to be. governed by the Public Service Act. We cannot appoint a Tribunal under the Industrial Peace Act to deal with public servants.
Direction of Design
– I ask the Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) whether his attention has been called to the report of the Blacket Royal Commission on the issues relating tp Mr. Griffin and to paragraph 6S appearing on page 18 of the report, in which it is shown that, in 1914, the officers of the Department proposed a Board somewhat similar to that which it is now proposed shall be constituted?
– No. I suggest that the honorable member address his question to the Minister controlling operations at the Federal Capital.
– The right honorable gentleman denied it the other day.
– I move -
That, in the opinion of this House, the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, the Hon. Hugh Mahon, having, by seditious and disloyal utterances at a public meeting on Sunday last, been guilty of conduct unfittinghim to remain a member of this House, and inconsistent with the oath of allegiance which he has taken as a member of this House, be expelled this House.
The honorable member fov Kalgoorlie, who I bad hoped would have been in his place this afternoon, has written to me stating that he does not intend to be present. I have only this moment re ceived the letter, although he was at an. early hour this morning served with the notice that this motion was to be moved. The honorable member does not allege in the letter he writes to me that he is unable to attend through sickness. As he would possibly allege that his case had been prejudiced if I did not read his letter, I shall read it. It makes no reference whatever to the letter sent to him to-day, but deals with the letter sent yesterday. There is no answer to the letter I sent the honorable member to-day; but we must assume, as I think he intends us to do, that his letter is an answer to both the letters I sent him. However, that will be for him to say. His letter is dated “ Ringwood, 10th November, “ and is as follows : -
Right Hon. W. M. Hughes, M.P.,
I received at 1.20 p.m. to-day, at my home, in a remote part of this district, your summons to attend in Parliament at 2.30 p.m.
I regret that the accident which prevented me from comnlying will also deprive me of the pleasure of hearing your speech in support of the proposal to expel mefrom Parliament.
In giving notice of this proposal, I observe that you have been generous enough to imply that my absence from the House was due to lack of courage. May I say that recollection of some incidents in your own career should have saved you from impugning any man’s courage. I shall recall one only.
Early in 1916, when the enemy submarine menace became alarming, you ostentatiously announced your projected departure for Europe bv an Orient steamer. You pretended to leave for Melbourne, but you secretly left the train at a suburban station and skedaddled from Sydney by an American ship. You cared nothing for the unfortunate crew and passengers by the Orient steamer, whose risks were increased by your supposed presence on board. You added to their dangers by the precautions taken for your own safety. So much for your courage - and humanity.
Now, as to the speech which has given you offence. You based your interrogatory yesterday on an incomplete report in an enemy newspaper of passages garbled and divorced from what preceded and followed them. Noone knows better than you do that’ to fairly judge a speech or an article you must read it in its entirety. If so read, no impartial person will pronounce my speech to be either “ seditious “ or “ disloyal.”
In every civilized community a man who kills another without lawful excuse or recourse to the process of law is regarded as a murderer. The epithet, therefore, rightly applies to a lawless force which slays innocent people whenever they fail to find the guilty.
My criticism, which was confined to the acts of British Ministers and their agents in Ireland, made no reference whatever to the
Sovereign. I am not aware that the oath of an Australian parliamentarian binds him in allegiance to Mr. Lloyd George and his associates. If it did I think a considerable body of honorable members would refuse to take such an oath. In my case it would be specially repugnant, for some six years ago two members of the present British Cabinet advocated an organized armed resistance to the forces of the Crown. One of these potential rebels -is leader of the House of Commons, the other Lord Chancellor of England.
I submit, therefore, that the terms “ seditious “ and “ disloyal “ are not properly applicable to my speech.
The newspaper from which you yesterday quoted omitted some points in my speech which did not serve its partisan purpose. I pointed out (1) that the best friends of the Empire were those working for peaceful’ recognition of Ireland’s rights; its worst friends those who relied on the rule of force in Ireland; and (2) that England’s future is best assured by such a settlement as will obliterate the bitter memories of the past, and enable the two nations to develop a kindly relationship which time might cement into a firm and happy alliance.
I regret that I am unable to accommodate you with a statement in person; but really do you seriously think it would make any difference? If, as reported, your Caucus hak already decreed my expulsion, then if one spoke with the tongue of an angel he would not alter in one iota their clandestine decree.
I thought it best to read that letter, although its bearing on the matter is somewhat remote. I have only to add that yesterday afternoon I went to Ringwood, and I gathered there that yesterday morning the honorable member for Kalgoorlie was well enough to visit the township of Ringwood and engage in some business. He happened by chance to be engaged in business with the same firm as myself. Honorable members can draw their own conclusions from his absence to-day.
When I asked the honorable member the other day whether he had’ been correctly reported in the press, he took up the attitude that it was no concern of Parliament; and declined to answer. But the question is one that concerns this Parliament, and the people it represents, because the honorable member is charged with having violated his oath of allegiance, and with conduct affecting not only his personal honour as a man, but also the corporate honour of the Parliament of which he is a member. When this charge is made he stands mute; and in the circumstances I have no option but to ask this House to take action.
The gravity of the offence committed by the honorable member cannot be overestimated. We in Australia form a part of a great Empire that encircles the world, and upon whose integrity and power the very existence of this Commonwealth as a free nation depends, and the honorable gentleman is a member of this Parliament, which has been established under the Australian Constitution, a British Statute, the preamble of which declares the Commonwealth to be an “ indissoluble Federal Commonwealth under the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.” Yet he publicly denounces the Empire of which the Commonwealth foams a part, as a “ bloody and accursed Empire,” and appeals to God to shake its foundations. In the letter which I have read to the House, he has sought to make it appear that, while some persons have drawn from these words of his which I have quoted a sinister meaning, they were susceptible of quite another interpretation; that although he denounces this Empire as one “ bloody and accursed,” he was really the best friend of the Empire, and all he was seeking to do was to establish its greatness more firmly He does not deny using the language complained of, but now says that the report which I read in the House the other day was garbled and incomplete, and that if the whole of his speech had been given, it would be seen that it was far from being a seditious’ or disloyal utterance. I am not in the position to quote the whole of the speech made by the honorable gentleman. I have no verbatim report, but I have four affidavits by journalists employed by the two leading newspapers of Melbourne, stating that the words which the honorable member is charged with having used were actually uttered by him. According to one affidavit, the honorable gentleman said -
The worst rule of the damnable Czars was never more infamous. The sob of the widow on the coffin would one day shake the foundations of this bloody and accursed Empire.
The other three affidavits completely corroborate this.
– I do not know that the right honorable gentleman is obliged to do so. Every honorable member is allowed to make his speech in his own way. But if the documents axe read, of course, they will become the property of the House, and thus be available for other honorable members who desire to see them.
– I have not read them. The other three affidavits declare that the statement made in the Argus is a fair and accurate report of what the honorable member for Kalgoorlie said. The honorable member, therefore, stands charged with having made use of these words. Apart fi om the newspaper report, there is evidence he did use them. And he does not himself deny that he did so.
As I have already said, the gravity of his offence can hardly be overestimated. He has publicly denounced, in most violent and intemperate language, this Empire, upon whose integrity and power our national safety and very existence depend. He has? incited citizens of the Commonwealth, subjects of the King, to pass resolutions for the dismemberment of the United Kingdom, the disruption of -the Empire, and for the establishment of a Republic in Australia. His seditious fomenting of ill-will and hostility is entirely unprovoked, Australia has no quarrel with any part of the Empire. Unhappily, it is true that grave differences have arisen between .Ireland and England, the solution of which presents, perhaps, the most difficult problem England has ever had to face; but the honorable member is not in Ireland, he is in Australia, and is a member of this Australian Parliament. Yet he is doing his utmost to fan into fiercer flame the trouble between England and Ireland, to injure Britain by vile slander, and to disintegrate the Empire. What he has done amounts to treason to Australia, and makes him unfit to sit here as a member of the Australian Parliament. He has openly advocated the disruption of the Empire, upon whose integrity, as I have already said, this Commonwealth rests. He has covered the honoured name of the Empire with the foulest slime. He has cruelly insulted and humiliated the overwhelming majority of his fellow-citizens in this country. And what reason does he give for having done these things? He says that Ireland must be free. He says that, in order that it may be free,, it must be a Republic; and in order that it may be a Republic he says that it has a right to murder all who stand between it and the goal which it seeks to attain. He denies to all who do not agree with that view the right to retaliate or even to defend . themselves. He says that a great principle is at stake. What is this great principle ? The principle of self-determination. He says that Ireland is a nation, and has a right that none may question to decide its own destiny, to choose the form of government in which it believes. Because these rounded phrases, falling trippingly off the tongues of glib men, may impress the unthinking, let us examine them for a moment. Is there such a principle as that of selfdetermination? If there is, is it one so just and so sacred as not merely to justify, but to sanctify, murder? Sir, the so-called principle of self-determination is refuted both by history and our own experience. The greatest war in the history of the world, until the great war of 1914-18, was fought by the Northern States of America against this very thing. . The Southern States demanded that they should have the right to govern themselves in their own way, to secede from the Federation. The Northern States denied them that right, and took to arms to prevent secession. The -civil war raged for four years, hundreds of thousands of lives were sacrificed, but in the end the Southern States were crushingly defeated. So that one of the greatest wars in history was fought against an attempt to do the very .thing Sinn Fein now declares is the inherent right of every ration. And who denies now that the North was right and the South was wrong? Nobody. But we need not confine ourselves to the great American civil - war in support of the position taken up by Britain; we may find a hundred other instances. For example, we may ask 131.036 who hold the same views as th.e honorable member to look at Russia, to that particular form of government which some honorable members of this House believe to be inspired by God - I mean the Bolshevik government - in order to see how the world deals with this so-called right of every community to dismember the nation of which it is a part. How has B’olshevik Russia treated Lithuania, Esthonia, Poland, and Siberia? These nationalities, which were demanding selfdetermination, have been literally soaked in oceans of blood by that ruthless autocracy, the Soviet Government. And if we turn to the position in Ireland itself to-day, do we find that this principle, which my honorable friend says justifies and sanctifies murder, is to be extended to the north-east of Ireland by the southern Irish? ‘No. The very principle which is sacred when applied to their own circumstances is denied to Ulster. There is, therefore, no principle, no inherent and sacred right, which excuses the utterances of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie and justifies and sanctifies murder and rebellion. Reference to this would, indeed, have been unnecessary but for the fact that the honorable member, and other honorable members, are seeking to impose upon the credulity of the people of Australia by endeavouring to make out a case which will justify the reign of terror that exists in Ireland to-day. I ask the honorable member and every citizen of Australia whether the rights of self-determination would be conceded by this Commonwealth to any one of the States qf this Union ? To not one of them. Will honorable members contend for a moment that our attitude towards any State which wished to secede from the Federation would be different from that of the Northern States during the American civil war? If Tasmania, for example, because she is an island State, desired to break away from the Empire, or from the Commonwealth, do honorable members imagine that we would or dare allow her to do so ? There is uo such principle of selfdetermination as the ‘Sinn Feiners would have the world believe, and if any right to self-determination exists, it springs only from the inherent right of all men to do all things necessary for their own preservation and welfare. And, of course, there co-exists the equal right of other men whose interests are menaced by such acts to do what is -necessary to protect themselves. The right of the people of England, of Scotland, of Wales, of the other Dominions, and of Australia, who believe the Empire necessary for their protection and progress, to prevent its dismemberment is undeniable. Ireland desires to dismember the Empire, and she believes she has the right to do so. Well, if that be granted, then surely we have the’ right to do all things necessary to maintain the integrity, to determine and shape those circumstances which, in our opinion, are necessary, not merely for the welfare, ‘but for the very existence, of this Australia of ours ? And have we not the right to say that the Empire shall not be disrupted, and that there shall be no dismemberment of Britain, because such dismemberment would mean the beginning of the end for us? As Australian citizens, we clearly cannot allow conspiracies against the Empire. We must divorce ourselves entirely from the Irish question, and anybody who counsels the disruption of the Empire must be a traitor to this country.
– It is a matter of expediency then, and not of morality?
– No. The Irish people are confident that they can hold their position against the great nations of the earth, in a world which, as yet, has but half sheathed the sword. They number only 4,000,000 souls, and are within cannon shot of England. Yet they are confident that where the might of Britain barely prevailed they can triumphantly beat off the assailing hosts. We know, all the world knows, they could not.. Australia’s five millions of people, during the recent war at least, proved that they were willing to fight for liberty and their country. That cannot be said of Ireland. We know that we could not hold Australia without the aid of Britain. Therefore the principle which the honorable member for Kalgoorlie would thrust down the “throats of the English, the Australian, and the other peoples of the Empire,, even though by so doing he would bring us tottering to the dust, must be opposed at all ‘hazards, because it would mean our downfall. Apart from all other considerations, we cannot allow attacks upon the Empire. As I have already said, it is our Rock of Ages, our salvation. But there are other reasons. The honorable member has spoken of this Empire in terms that are a cruel insult and a bitter humiliation to the great majority of the people of this country. He calls it “ a bloody and accursed Empire.” Does the honorable member think that Australians will tolerate such wanton and vile insults? If so, he little understands the temperament of the Australian’ people. He has forgotten that hundreds of thousands of young Australians a year or two ago - but yesterday, as it were - volunteered to fight under the banner of this “bloody and accursed Empire.”
– They died for everyright you’ would deny to Ireland.
Several honorable members interjecting,
– I direct the attention of honorable members once more to the fact that it is gross discourtesy to the House to shout out interjections when an honorable member is speaking.
– Why does the Prime Minister not. confine himself to the truth ?
– I shall have to take action against the honorable member if he offends again. I wish to appeal to the House, particularly on an occasion like this, when the rights and privileges of an honorable member are under review, to exercise more than ordinary restraint over their feelings, and to conduct the debate in an orderly and decorous manner. I hope it will not be necessary for me to intervene again, but that the proceedings will be conducted in proper form. I shall insist on every speaker being heard in reasonable silence on both sides.
– As I was saying, the honorable member for Kalgoorlie has for- gotten that hundreds of thousands of Australians endured for nearly five years the most awful agonies of war, that 60,000 of them died alongside the soldiers of Britain and other parts of this Empire in the cause of liberty. He has forgotten that but for the soldiers and sailors of Britain, whom he calls “ cut-throats,” “ thugs,” and “murderers,” this country of” ours would to-day be a German colony. Does he forget that, when he speaks of the Empire as a “ bloody and accursed Empire,” and of our fellowcitizens across the seas as “thugs” and “ cut-throats,” he cruelly slanders our own kinsmen, who fought and bled by the side of our own soldiers, and that great Empire of which we are so proud to be a part? What does he think we are? Does ho think that we will tamely submit to such language? When an appeal was made to the people in 1917 and in 1919, the party which I have the honour to lead set out its view about the Empire in unmistakable language. .Let me quote a word or. two from it. I said -
The party that I have the honour to lead stands openly and freely for the Empire. Its members ave proud to be citizens of the greatest confederation of free men and women that the world has ever seen. They recognise their great obligations to Britain; they recognise that they owe all their liberties, their free institutions of government, the peaceful and happy occupation of this great island continent, to the protection that Britain has given us ever since the first British colony was established here. They recognise that they cannot be true citizens of Australia and at the same time be hostile to or indifferent to the fate of Britain.
On that programme - on those words - both in 1917 and in 1919, the people of this country were asked to vote, and to decide by what principles they would be guided, under what banner they would stand. We know their decision. The position of parties in this Parliament reveals it. By every principle of democracy the will of the majority must prevail ; and the will of the majority of the people of this young and free Commonwealth of ours as regards the Empire has been clearly and emphatically expressed. We are here to give effect to the will of the majority of the people so expressed; and the will of the majority shall prevail.
– Also in Ireland !
– I cannot have the honorable member interjecting.
– I give the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) one more warning. Next time I will act.
– The honorable member for Kalgoorlie is not here. I cannot ask him how he reconciles his present words with his former attitude. I am unable to ask him how he reconciles his presence in this Parliament with the use of such language. But is there one man in this Chamber, or one man in the country, who does not realize that everything we have - our liberties, and the free institutions of government - Magna Charta itself, habeas CorPus, free speech, trial by jury, all those priceless privileges of a free people the British race everywhere has enjoyed - comes to us as a heritage from Britain ? Are we, then, to listen tamely to such words as the honorable member has used - to be told that this is a “ bloody and accursed Empire,” and that those who are now obeying the orders of the King - for they are the servants of that ruler to whom the honorable member has sworn here to be true and faithful - are “ thugs “ and “ murderers “ ? At this very table the honorable member took the oath of allegiance. He was a free man ; no compulsion was put on him ; “he deliberately took the oath, “I will, so help me God, be faithful to the King.” Now he calls the King’s servants “ cutthroats,” “ thugs,” “ murderers/’ and he rejoices when any one of them is killed. He says if they are shot in the back it is when they are running away. It is a lie. It is a bloody lie!
– I rise to order. I submit that the right honorable gentle-‘ man may not use that language of an honorable member. He says that an honorable member has uttered a “ bloody lie.”
– If the Prime Minister made that statement. I ask him to immediately withdraw it. I did not catch the, words when they were uttered; but the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) informs me that the Prime Minister, in other language, accused an honorable member of uttering a falsehood.
– I withdraw the expression. The susceptibilities of the honorable member for Batman are strangely keen ; yet nothing moves him that detracts from the honour and dignity of this great Empire. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie calls the great British Empire, of which Australia is an integral part, a bloody and accursed Empire, and appeals to God to shake it to its foundations. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie, only a few months ago, stood as a candidate for the suffrages of the people of that constituency. His circumstances and his objective then were entirely different from what they are to-day. ‘He put his son, who had been fighting for this “bloody and accursed Empire,” on the platform in order to support his own claim that he, as a candidate for the representation of Kalgoorlie, was a loyal citizen and man, and a servant of the King; for he was then a servant of the King, being an Executive Councillor. But now this Empire for which his son fought, this Empire for which 60,000 of our young Australians died - this Empire which has given to the whole world freedom and safety - is a “bloody and accursed” Empire. “We must purge ourselves of such a man. He is unworthy to remain a member of this Parliament.
This Australia of ours is peopled by a homogeneous race, made up of the four nationalities that have built up Britain - the English, the Scottish, the Irish, and the Welsh. It is but natural that the racial aspirations of the several nations from which we or our forbears have come should clash from time to time with our ideals in Australia. Had the honorable member’s sympathy with Ireland, which is very natural, been expressed iri temperate language, none would have blamed him; but when he used language so foul and shocking as to outrage the feelings of all those of us in Australia who do not think with him, he acted in a manner incompatible with his membership of this House and his citizenship in a loyal Australia. Sympathy with Ireland is one thing, sympathy with murder is another. Mr. Lloyd George said but yesterday that there was war in Ireland. Is war, then, a thing in which one side are free to roam at will, slaying whom they please, while the other side meekly come and offer their throats to the butcher? Does the honorable member think the English, the Scottish, the “Welsh, and those Irish who, in spite of all the efforts of Sinn Fein, are still more passionately than ever attached to the Empire, because, differing from him, they obey the King’s orders, have no rights: that they are but “ thugs and cut-throats, to be shot at sight “ ? Is he, as a member of this Australian Parliament, established as a Federation under the Crown of Great Britain and Ireland, to be at liberty to say that their dead bodies, their “carrion,” as he expresses it, poison the fair pastures of Ireland? When he uses such vile language, and openly sympathizes and advocates their murder, does he think that we who do not hold his opinions will tamely submit to it? Does he think we shall allow him to traduce our . kinsmen- and fellow citizens ? Does he think we shall’ allow him to plunge a dagger in the heart of Britain, and make this country a breeding-ground for those sinister conspiracies which he, and those like him, have been’ hatching too long? If he were in Ireland’ it would be another matter, but he is in Australia. His first duty is to Australia. He owes allegiance to Australia. Dare he say for one moment that the action he took, the speech he delivered, the sentiments he uttered, are conducive to the welfare of Australia? Those misguided persons who were present at that meeting, perhaps hardly hearing what the resolutions were, voted for them, and in doing so voted for a republic for Australia. He was chairman of that meeting. He is responsible for all things done at it. What would be the position of this House today if it were confronted by a situation such as the honorable member seeks to create,, and which would throw upon its the hurden of defending, alone and unaided, this great island continent? How could we do it? I speak of that which I know. This country cannot be defended by 5,000,000 people. All soldiers know, those charged with the responsibility of government know, every man of sense in this country knows, that we are to-day a free Australia because we are an integral part of the British Empire.. When I put a question to the honorable member the other day, asking him whether the press report of has speech was substantially correct,, he sought, as is his custom, to evade the issue by saying that the charge was really an attack upon his religion.. He seeks to cover up his iniquity with the cloak of sectarianism, but he will not succeed. We shall strip that from him in half-a-dozen words. On that very day the honorable member said, “ I have been a member- of this Parliament for nearly twenty years, Mr. Speaker. I have submitted myself lowly and reverently to you, and I have hardly ever been called’ to order.” All these things doubtless are true. The honor- able member has not only been in Parliament, but he has been in office. Has he suffered- any disability in this country by virtue of his religion or his nationality? No, sir, he has traded on both of them. I say deliberately, and no man knows it better than I do., that the honorable member would never have been in office, and, what is more, would perhaps never have been in Parliament, but that he traded both on his nationality and on his religion. So that, when the honorable member seeks to make himself a poor fustian substitute for a martyr, he will find the facts too strong for him. , He is not of the stuff of which martyrs are- made. The honorable member seeks to persuade the people of this country that it is his religion that we are attacking. He knows that it is not true. I am proud to know that I have been the colleague and friend of loyal Roman Catholics in this country. The honorable member himself has been my colleague, and knows very well that I never voted against him when he sought office. Never did he get any position but my vote went for him. So when the honorable member strives to show that he has been victimized, and that we are endeavouring now to immolate him because he is a Roman Catholic, he will find that contention too slight and flimsy to deceive any one. In this country, which is one of the freest in the world, which enjoys freedom because it is a. part of the great British Empire, every man may worship God as he pleases, and no man is the worse off because of his religion. So- we may put that palpable evasion on one side.
Our quarrel, with the honorable member for Kalgoorlie is not with his religion, nor with his race, but with his gross and shameful dsloyalty. The honorable member speaks of “ the bloody and accursed Empire/’ He is not here to-da.y so that I may ask him what is it that we have which is worth having in this country that we do not owe to this Empire. The very existence of this country rests upon the foundations of the British Empire,, those firm foundations which he and those with him are endeavouring, by insidious and persistent efforts to undermine.
The honorable member said that this meeting was called in order to express indignation of Australia at the murder of Alderman McSwiney, and to express profound sympathy with his widow. I anr not a man who, because I differed from Alderman McSwiney in opinion, would deny him that tribute which every man willingly gives to another who is willing to die for a cause. But the honorable member holds up this one man as a martyr, this one man, who deliberately put himself to death, and says that ‘ ‘ the sobs of this man’s widow will shake the foundations of this accursed and bloody Empire.” Surely the honorable member has forgotten the mothers and widows of the 60,000 young Australians who died for this “bloody and accursed Empire”? Does he forget them? Are the sobs, of that great host of bereaved mothers and widows to go for nothing, while the tears of this one woman are to shake the foundations of this mighty institution, upon which we and all that we stand for, rest and find safety? He says Alderman McSwiney is a mar-, tyr. The honorable member forgets the 60,000 martyrs who died for the sake of Australia and liberty. He forgets the million or more who died for the Empire, who, by their deaths, brought us liberty and safety. But for their ‘ glorious sacrifice, their martyrdom, this Australia of ours should have been no longer free, but the appanage of the German Empire. Why does he heap these foul insults upon his fellow-citizens under the pretext of helping Ireland? In the name of Heaven, how can he help Ireland by bitterly insulting and humiliating the people of this country? It is not for me to talk of Ireland, but I have tried, in my little way, to do something for that country. When, however, the honorable member insults and humiliates those things which are sacred to me - as sacred to me as his principles are to him - then he comes up against those primeval passions of men that cannot and will not be suppressed. He has forgotten that in this country 75 out of every 100 of the population at least are of English, Scottish, Welsh, and North of Ireland extraction. He seeks to help Southern Ireland, to pour oil on troubled waters, to bring the parties together, by casting these foul epithets upon our fellow citizens, our kinsmen,, men of our race, in the land from which we or our forbears came, and calling the Empire, which is our Rock of Ages, “ a bloody and accursed Empire.”
The honorable member has sworn allegiance to the King and loyalty to this Commonwealth. This Australia of ours is a Commonwealth under the Crown. The honorable member cannot attack theEmpire and yet be loyal to his oath of allegiance. His is no outburst of hotblooded passion. Cold, calculating design stamps it at every step. The honorable member has done this thing deliberately. What sinister purpose moved him I do not pretend to know. He has, perhaps, overreached himself; but he cannot plead passion as an excuse for his utterances. Those who know him well know that he is not swayed by passion. If he had been one of those hot-blooded Celts who, burning with passion, allowed words to flow from him in boiling torrents, he might have pleaded passion by way of excuse. But this man is not such a one. He has done thi3 thing for some purpose. What is this purpose? He has done it not for the purpose of assisting the party of which he is now a member - not for the purpose of assisting Australia, not for the purpose of healing the breach between the English and the Irish. It is all part of that .world-wide conspiracy with which we were too familiar during the* war - a conspiracy to shame and dishonour Australia, to bring about the defeat of the Allies and to disintegrate the British Empire. We shall show this honorable gentleman and all his kidney that wherever else they , may safely hatch these plots, they cannot hatch them here.
This honorable member has been false to his oath of allegiance. He has committed treason to Australia. He has been false to his oath as an Executive Councillor, false to ‘ his oath of allegiance as a member of this Parliament. He has bitterly humiliated and insulted the people of this country. He has branded with epithets foul and slimy our fellow citizens in Britain. He is endeavouring to embroil Australia; he is endeavouring to disrupt and dismember the Empire. He has done all these things deliberately, and. is no more worthy to be a member of this House. I therefore submit the motion I have read.
.- It is not my intention to indulge in extravagant language like that alleged to have been used by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Mahon), or such as has just fallen from the lips of the Prime Minister. I move, as an amendment -
That after the word “That” the following words be inserted: - “this House, whilst being opposed to all sedition and disloyalty, and the subversion of constitutional means for the redress of grievances, is of opinion that the allegations made against the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, the Honorable Hugh Mahon, should not be dealt with by this House for the following reasons: -
The allegations made against the honorable member do not concern his conduct in Parliament, or the discipline of Parliament-
Several honorable members interjecting,
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir Elliot
Johnson). - I made an appeal only a few minutes ago that decorum should be observed in this debate, and that honorable members should exercise more than ordinary restraint upon their feelings. I hope honorable members will allow the debate to continue in a deliberative and decorous manner, and that every honorable member who desires to speak will be heard in reasonable silence. While an occasional interjection, unless shouted, is often unnoticed, it must be remembered that all interjections are disorderly, and should be avoided if possible.
-However much honorable members may desire to interrupt me in the course of my speech, I should certainly like to be heard in silence while I read my amendment, so that it may appear in Hansard as a whole.. I move -
That after the word “That” the following words be inserted: - this House, whilst being opposed to all sedition and disloyalty, and the subversion of constitutional means for the redress of grievances, is of opinion that the allegations made against the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, the Honorable Hugh Mahon, should not be dealt with by this House for the following reasons: -
The allegations made against the honorable member do not concern his conduct in Parliament or the discipline of Parliament.
That Parliament is not a proper tribunal to trya charge of sedition arising from the exercise of civilian rightsof free speech at a public assembly of citizens.
That the Judicature is especially established and equipped, and has ample power under the law, to bring any person to public trial for the ofl’ence of sedition alleged against the honorable member.
That every citizen so charged is entitled to a public trial by a jury of his peers, where he would have the right to exclude by challenge biased persons from the jury panel, and that this fundamental principle of British justice should not be departed from in this case.
We are asked to-day to try the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, who, in a letter to the Prime Minister, has stated that, having met with an accident, he cannot be here. That statement appears in the very forefront of his letter, a copy of which was handed to me at the same time that the original was presented to the Prime Minister. We are asked to do that on a statement that appeared in the press. The Prime Minister told us that he has four affidavits as to the accuracy of the report of the proceedings, and when the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Catts) rose to the point of order that these affidavits were the property of the House, and that honorable members had a right to know who were these persons that were giving evidence against Mr. Mahon, the Prime Minister immediately said that he preferred not to quote any further from them. That is the position. The affidavits have not been put in, they are not before the House and so we can take no notice of them. The concluding remarks in Mr. Mahon’s letter to the Prime Minister are to this effect -
If, as reported, your Caucus has already decreed my expulsion, then if one spoke with the tongue of an angel he would not alter in one iota their. clandestine decree.
That is absolutely correct. We have no record, except the statement which has appeared in the Argus, of Mr. Mahon’s speech.
– Which the honorable member for Kalgoorlie does not deny.
– The honorable member for Kalgoorlie has denied the substantia) accuracy of the report.
– He had an opportunity to do that yesterday in this House.
– I know what tcok place, because I was there. He has denied the substantial accuracy of the report, which the Prime Minister asks us to believe is correct. I am fairly familiar with pressmen, and particularly with those engaged in the metropolitan area, and I know that only two pressmen were at the press tableat that meeting.
– Did you hear the speech yourself?
– I prefer to make my speech in my own way. This is not a
Court of law, and I am not going to be cross-examined by the honorable member for Fawkner or anybody else. I shall state what I think about the matter. I have not the slightest doubt that many honorable members would like to do as the Argus advised them to do on Wednesday. “Rope them all in.” Let the Argus report what I said. They know it would damn them for ever. They have not an iota of fair play in their composition. The Argus is a rotten rag; a gutter press of the most foul sort. I am happier when the Argus is attacking me than when it is supporting me. I owe nothing to the Argus or any other newspaper in Australia.
I remind honorable members that about a fortnight or three weeks ago,- when the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) asked the Prime Minister a question with reference to a statement that had appeared in the press in connexion with the Geneva Conference, he replied -
The question reveals one of the causes of the appalling ignorance of mankind. The honorable member reads his newspaper as if the statements therein were Bible truths. The basic principle of a citizen should be disbelief in every statement he reads in the newspapers.
That was the Prime Minister’s opinion less than three weeks ago. It may be found in Hansard. Apparently it was right then for the Prime Minister to ridicule a statement that appeared in the press in connexion with the Geneva Conference, but now we are asked to accept as gospel truth every word of the Argus report of a meeting. I now remind the Prime Minister that this is one of the causes of the appalling ignorance of mankind. I also recall, Mr. Speaker, that if any honorable member of this House gets up .to ask a question founded on a newspaper statement, you very often intimate that it is a well-known rule of parliamentary practice that questions founded on newspaper statements are not in order unless the honorable member asking the question takes personal responsibility for the accuracy of the statements. Now the honorable member for Kalgoorlie denies the substantial accuracy of a report that has appeared in the Argus. I have set forth the reasons why I believe this Parliament is not the place to try a man for sedition. I do not think Parliament is properly cons Mtn ted for that responsibility. If, as alleged in the press, there has been a party meeting with reference to this matter, and honorable members who attended that meeting have come down here pledged to expel the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, then, of course, as the honorable member for Kalgoorlie states in his letter to the Prime Minister, if a man spoke with the voice of an angel he could not hope to influence the decision in any material degree; he could not alter one vote.
– He could alter mine if he would apologize to the House, the King, and the country.
– The honorable member for Wentworth tells us it would be possible to alter his vote. May I again remind him that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie has denied the substantial accuracy of the Argus report? I was glad to hear the Prime Minister say that about ten months ago the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, during his election campaign, got his son on the platform with him to let the people know that he had been overseas in connexion with the late war. But the Prime Minister used that reference to this incident in Mr. Mahon’s campaign in a way that I would not have used it. It is well known to many honorable members that both Mr. Mahon’s sons volunteered, and that one, if not both, went overseas. It is only fair that this should be known. The Prime Minister could go further, and say that when, there was a division of opinion in the Cabinet of which he and I were members prior to ray resignation over the conscription issue, he was able to give the numbers and the names of those honorable members who took the conscription side and the anti-conscription side when this issue was first raised in the Cabinet. That could be mentioned, too, but it might tell in favour of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie..
– I would be very glad to do so, but it is not usual to do that; however, if you wish it, I shall say it now.
– The Prime Minister did say it. There was a controversy between the honorable member for Kalgoorlie and the Prime Minister during the election campaign of 1917, and the Prime Minister did say that, at the outset, the honorable member for Kalgoorlie was a conscriptionist. This was well known to members of the party.
– During the election campaign, he went to the Riverina for his health.
– I am not sure where the honorable member went, but I am not going to condemn him. I would not condemn a dog on the ‘report of a partisan newspaper. Honorable members opposite are in a convenient position, for they . have at least one newspaper to support them. If the Argus is against them, the Age is for them; but so far as honorable members on this side of the House ai-e concerned, the newspapers are quite impartial - they “get” to us very freely. In this matter, of course, both newspapers are prepared to condemn Mr. Mahon. What is the position? The Prime Minister read an- Argus report of the meeting. He did not read the Age report, which was shorter and more condensed. The report of that newspaper mentioned only that there was one other member who spoke besides Mr. Mahon. I attended that meeting, and heard the speech of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. If I were called as a witness, I could not swear that the honorable member gave expression to those sentiments which have been set forth in the Argus. I say that deliberately, and I am not on- oath.
– Would you swear that he did not use them?
– As far as I know, he did not use those words.
– But he does not deny them.
– He denies the substantial accuracy of the statements. I say, in regard to the whole of the statements attributed to the honorable member - and I hope that I am regarded as being as truthful as most honorable members - that I cannot swear that those statements were made. I know, of course, that the Argus is anxious that action shall be taken against me. I do not mind falling out with the Argus, but I shall defend myself. That newspaper can say what it likes about me, just as it has done in the past. It has lied in the past about me, and I have every reason to believe that it will lie in the future about me. I do not care a bit what it says or does, so far as I am concerned. It is significant that statements which are made in this Parliament are privileged. We may say anything we like here; but if a member of this Parliament makes a statement outside to which objection’ may be taken, ho is amenable to the Courts of Law. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie himself said that on Tuesday; and, if this Parliament decides now to take action to expel him, such action will be prejudicing amy Court proceedings which may subsequently be instituted. Honorable members, by their actions, will be assuming that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie is guilty, and that assumption will be used in the event of any action being taken. I do not think any action should be taken; but the Court is the proper place in which to take it. We are not properly constituted to take action ; we are no more properly constituted to do so than to decide what a person’s wages shall be. We have, therefore, said that a Court is the proper place in which to deal with that matter.
When I said, in the subject-matter of my amendment, that the allegations made against the honorable member did not concern his conduct in Parliament, or the matter of discipline in Parliament, the remark caused hilarity among some honorable members. I repeat that we are not a properly constituted tribunal for the hearing of a charge of sedition. If a case of this nature went before a Court there would be as much disputation, no doubt, as upon any other subject-matter that could be raised. It would be argued at great length whether or not the person accused of sedition should be deemed guilty in the light of the words he had actually used. Every one is entitled to trial by jury, and has the right of challenging his jury. When the Prime Minister produced affidavits I thought we were going to’ hear a repetition of’ what we experienced during the conscription campaigns. In those days, certain persons used to follow speakers on our side from public meeting to meeting in order to take notes of what we said. My eyesight was better then, perhaps, than it is today. I could generally pick them out ; and, if I saw them, I would say,- “ Come right up to the front, and get your report fairly and accurately. Do not sneak away back there behind all those heads.” An honorable member of this House was present at a certain meeting in the Collingwood Town Hall, and there were two note-takers sitting away under the gallery, on the left-hand aide. I said, “ You gentlemen taking notes back there, come right out in front where you can hear what we say.” Since we have not yet escaped altogether from military rule, it it possible that there may have been military note-takers ordered last Sunday to attend the meeting at Richmond, and to take a note of what was said. The authorities are, at any rate, free to accept those notes - whoever made them - concerning what I said. I said no more, and took no further action at the meeting on Sunday last than I said and did in this Chamber away back in 1905 or 1906, when the then honorable member for North Melbourne (Mr. Higgins), now His Honour Mr. Justice Higgins, submitted a motion in favour of Home Rule for Ireland. The present Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), the Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Groom), and, I think also, the Minister for Home and Territories (Mr. Poynton), were all present on that occasion, as well as other members either of the old Liberal party or of the Labour party who may still be in this Parliament. And they voted in favour of that motion.
– Home Rule for Ireland, within the Empire.
– That motion was not in favour of a Republican Ireland.
– It had to do with the right of Ireland to govern itself; and I am in favour of that same principle today. I went to the meeting on Sunday, following an interview with a gentleman who called on me here last Thursday, and in respect of which interview I subsequently received thefollowing letter: -
DearSir, - In confirmation of my interview with you this afternoon, I beg to extend to you an invitation to be present at and address the meeting arranged at Richmond Reserve, by my organization, to denounce the treatment of the late Lord Mayor of Cork by the English Government.
I would be pleased if you would let me know whether you will be able to be present and move the second resolution on the first platform.
I trust that the state of your health will permit of your being present on Sunday next to give the meeting the benefit of your support.
So, thanking you in anticipation,
Yours very sincerely,
P.S. - The meeting commences at 3. p.m., and
I would like you to be at the committee room a short time before.
Mr.Marr. - What organization was that from?
– From the Irish-Ireland League of Victoria.
– The Acting Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Rodgers) is a member of that organization, I think.
– I do not know, and am not concerned about that. As the letter indicates, there were two resolutions. The point upon which the Argus attacks me has to do with a third resolution, which is not mentioned here. I was not present at the meeting when that third resolution was moved. I was in attendance at the time of the voting upon the first resolution. I came away from the meeting after having spoken, and having heard the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine). I make this explanation for the sole Teason that persons outside want to know the facts.
The Prime Minister himself has been the subject of as much denunciation upon this matter as I have been. When he and Mr. Andrew Fisher, with other gentlemen, were present at a monster meeting in the Exhibition Building, Melbourne, on the subject of Home Rule for Ireland, he was denounced by the Argus as strongly as that newspaper has denounced the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Mahon) to-day. The attack of the Argus was for a purely political purpose. The attack of the Argus to-day is for a purely political purpose, and the Ministry have allowed themselves to be used as tools.
– Does the honorable member say that that meeting was called for the purpose of advocating a Republican Ireland?
– The Prime Minister was denounced as much then as the honorable member for Kalgoorlie is being denounced to-day.
– When do they do anything else but denounce me?
– They praise you. They willgive you a good leading article tomorrow. I am willing to be a prophet, and to assure the Prime Minister of that ; but I emphasize that he was denounced then just as the honorable member for Kalgoorlie has been denounced to-day. If the Argus could have dictated to the Ministry of the day that they were to take action at that time, similar action: would have been taken to that which has been taken to-day. This, then, is for political purposes, and for those reasons only. This Parliament is not the proper place in which to try a matter of this kind. The Prime Minister, apart from several times using certain phrases of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, this afternoon spoke also of the United States of America, and of the Soviet Republic of Russia, and other places. I am concerned about the right of giving to every individual in the community fair trial before he is sentenced. If any honorable member can say that he can give a fair trial to the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, or to any one else in circumstances such as the present, and that he can judge fairly on the evidence available, then he will be telling me something I know nothing about, so far. I trust that the amendment will be agreed to, so that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, or, indeed, any honorable member, shall have a fair deal and a proper opportunity to defend himself upon any accusation which may be brought against him in the Courts of this country.
.- I second the amendment. Certain charges have been made this afternoon by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) against an honorable member of this House, in a bitter, prejudiced, political speech, with all the venom that has been created by twenty years’ experience in the welter of party politics. First of all, the Prime Minister has laid a charge based on a statement published in a newspaper of this city which is a source that is never acknowledged in any Court of law. But whilst it is not accepted in a Court it is held to be quite sufficient for this Parliament to use as a political weapon. The Prime Minister accepts or repudiates newspaper reports, according to how they suit him politically. The charge against the honorable member for Kalgoorlie has not been, properly laid - the allegation has not been substantiated with ohe tittle of evidence. We speak of British justice, but although the Prime Minister produced an affidavit, he was not prepared, when challenged, to place it on record. He absolutely refused to make- the document public. I have very vividly in my mind what occurred during the last four years, when we had faked cables and faked evidence upon which men were sent to gaol. I can also recall the political expedients adopted by the Govern ment of this country in an endeavour to place myself and my colleagues in gaol, when .we were charged with seditious utterances and making disloyal statements and utterances likely to prejudice our relations with our Allies. There was not anything low or contemptible enough for the Government to adopt, and every possible statement, faked or otherwise, was used by them solely for political purposes. The Prime Minister of Australia has made an allegation against the honour of a member of this House’ which has not been substantiated. Notwithstanding that, he asks this Parliament, composed of two bitter political factions, to give a calm and unbiased judgment upon the honour of one of its members The allegation of the Prime Minister would not be accepted in any Court of law in the British Empire, because, first of all, there must be a charge properly prepared and laid; but that has not been done. There is only one tribunal before which a charge of this character could be laid, and that is a properly-constituted Court, presided over by a Judge with a calm and unprejudiced mind - I strongly emphasize unprejudiced - and not by political partisans. There should be a jury composed of fellow-citizens of the accused, who should have the right to challenge any of the jury. That is absolutely necessary when a man’s honour is impugned. But that procedure has not been adopted.
We have seen what this Government have done in the past, and the so-called charge that, has been laid by the Prime Minister to-day has already been refuted by my leader. If the opinions of reporters of the Age or Argus newspapers were submitted against those of the Leader of the Opposition, I am sure the people of Australia . would be prepared to accept the statement of Mr. Tudor. There is not one man or woman m Australia who can impugn the honour of Frank Tudor, and no man will disbelieve him when he directly contradicts the charges made by the Prime Minister. The supporters of the Government, if they are determiner! to constitute themselves a judge and jury, must take cognisance of the fact that the’ Leader of the Opposition has repudiated the charges made, and he was at the meeting, whilst the Prime Minister was not. Is it -possible for members occupying the Govern- ment benches to give a calm and unbiased judgment in this case? I do not think it is, particularly when one takes into consideration the fact that the Government are likely to gain politically if the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Mahon) is expelled from this. Par- liament. Their action is the more disgraceful on the part of the Government -when this phase of the question is considered, and when we realize that they are literally hanging on to office by the skin of their teeth. The Government see an opportunity- slight, though it is - of increasing thenumber of their party, and they have taken it by moving a motion for the expulsion of the honorable mem-, iber for Kalgoorlie., The whole procedure is infamous; it is discreditable that a, man’s honour should be made a mere shuttlecock by the Prime Minister and the members of his party for political pur-‘ poses. I disagree entirely with those sentiments which are only alleged to have been uttered. But there is a certain course which must be followed in cases of this character. We were not elected by the people of Australia to constitute ourselves a jury for charging and sentencing any man in this country. That is not our duty. I strongly resent questions such’ as this being introduced in this Parliament merely to give the Government an opportunity of increasing the number of their supporters. I shall vote against the motion moved by the Prime Minister, and shall support the amendment moved toy the Leader of the Opposition. I emphatically protest against any man being tried by this Parliament, because Parliament is not a fit body to perform such a function. Imagine any one on this side of the chamber being tried by the Prime Minister of Australia. He has already tried us. During the last four years, the Cabinet tried every one on this side of the Chamber, and found us guilty. But Ministers had not then the weapon of expulsion. They conferred at Cabinet meetings, and consulted their law officers, and instituted proceedings, mostly on faked evidence, but without exception failed in their design. From those who attempted to incarcerate me and my colleagues comes the charge that we are now discussing. Is it possible, I repeat, for men like the Prime Minister, who, this afternoon, made a speech full of venom. and bitterness-political bitterness to judge this matter fairly?. I ventureto say that the right honorable , gentleman would have been just as much at home in advocating the establishment of a republic in Australia, probably more so; he is an actor, rather than anything else I shall vote against the motion and for the amendment.
.-We have had an excited, hysterical speech from the Prime Minister (Mr. ‘Hughes), whocameoriginally from Wales,filled with old-world animosities which we’ could very well do without in this country.Hehas bumped upagainst anothergentleman from across the seas (Mr. Mahon), whose native land is an other part of the United Kingdom, where, inKilmainham Gaol, he suffered imprisonment for his political opinions. These two gentlemen must not be allowed’ to make Australia the battle ground for differences of belief and racial hatred which is age long, their forefathers having been engaged in the same quarrel. As ah Australian, I object to this country being made the battle ground for these old-world disputes.
These old-world animosities are used to divide the mass of the people. I was recently at Port Darwin, where,in a mine, hundreds of feet below the surface, I saw two Chinamen at work who did not speak to each other. WhenI asked the foreman why they worked silently in company at their underground task he replied that they came from two different districts of China, and, therefore, hated each” otherlike poison. “ Consequently,” he said, “we have put them together ; because they watch and spy on each other, and set the pace, and, by reason of their mutual hatred, we get more work out of them.” In India the community is divided into castes, a man of one caste walking on one side of the road, and a man of another caste on the opposite side. In every country the ruling classes and the capitalists seek to discover differences with which to divide the great mass of the people, so that they may exploit them. Here, while we have not district hatreds like those of China, or divisions of caste like those of India, there is an everlasting effort to divide the mass of the people on the sectarian issue, so that the capitalists and exploiters may rob them.
What has Mr. Hughes been doing since he left the Labour party and joined the Nationalists, the exploiters’ party? Has he not gone up and down the country, doing his best to create sectarian differences, and to divide the mass of the people? During the war he occupied a position of unexampled power.
The Prime Minister is drunk with power, and uses this Parliament as the instalment of his tyranny. He is like the French King who wanted his pint of blood every morning, and whose jaws quivered with delight at the death screams pf his victims and expectations of a head brought in ou a charger. Any one who saw him, two days ago, rise to draw attention to the speech of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Mahon), must have noticed the spitefulness and vindictiveness of his attitude. It was as though he were twisting a dagger in a wound. Is he a fit man to be a judge in this case? Would any one who saw him make his speech to-day say that he was competent to decide a matter of this kind ?
During the war the Prime Minister addressed public meetings, and when any one dared to oppose him he said, “ I will have him.’’ When he was coming back from his last visit to England, and crossing the Continent, he threatened civil war and rebellion in this country. He said, “ Certain people say what they will do, but I will join with the soldiers of this country, and, let there be no mistake, I am not talking about the law” - those are the words he used - “ I will give them force.”
The Prime Minister has moved the following motion this afternoon: -
That, in the opinion of this House, the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, the honorable Hugh Mahon, having, by seditious and disloyal utterances at a public meeting on Sunday last, been guilty of conduct unfitting him to remain a member of this House, and inconsistent with the oath of allegiance which he has taken as a member of this House, be expelled this House.
So far as we know this motion is based on newspaper reports of an alleged speech of the honorable member referred to, in the press last Monday, 8th November. I should like to reduce that motion to terms covering its actual subject-matter.. What evidence has the right honorable gentleman produced of .” seditious and disloyal utterances” on the part of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, or that he has been “ guilty of conduct unfitting him to remain a member,” or “ guilty of conduct inconsistent with the oath of allegiance “ ?
The Prime Minister said that he had had a letter from the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, but was in someconfusion for a few minutes, hesitating whether he would read it or not. -Why did he not read the two letters that he had sent to the honorable member, and let the House and the public judge whether the honorable member had given him a proper answer ? He has withheld the letters that he sent to the honorable member for Kalgoorlie.
The Prime Minister has not to-day quoted the newspaper reports. What evidence of the honorable member’s alleged offence has he submitted to the House ? He has substituted rhetoric for evidence. He has produced what he stated were affidavits, from which he has quoted selected phrases, concealing the rest of the statements contained in them. When the point of order was taken by me that, he having quoted from these affidavits, they must become the property of the House, and subject to the scrutiny of. honorable members, he immediately folded them up, and put them away. He has not the courage to lay them on the table. He has sought by trickery and by concealment of portions of the so-called evidence to obtain a party conviction. It may be that there are some passages in the affidavits that tell in favour of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. Can the public say that there was a scintilla of fairness in treating the affidavits as the Prime Minister treated them? Would he have been allowed to act in that way in any Court in Australia ? No. This House should insist upon the production of those socalled affidavits.
What is the evidence against the honorable member for Kalgoorlie? The Prime Minister made some excuse for not reading the Argus report of the honorable member’s speech, as though it might have been extended over a. column of newspaper matter, whereas it does not occupy more than a couple of inches of print. But it did not suit him to read it. It suited him to misrepresent, distort, and twist it, using all the arts and wiles of an advocate, in preference to putting evidence before a jury of his fellow-members and the country. This is the report of the speech of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie -which appeared in Monday’s Argus: -
The outrage committed upon . Archbishop Mannix in England would never be forgotten by the Irish people of Australia. Never in . Russia under the worst ruler of the Czars had there been such an infamous murder as that of the late Alderman McSwiney. They were told in the papers that Alderman McSwiney’s poor widow sobbed over his coffin. If there was a just God in Heaven that sob would reach round the world, and one day would shake the foundations of this bloody and accursed Empire. (Loud applause.) The other day he was reproached by a vinegar-faced “ wowser “ who said that the police in Ireland were being shot in the back. If they were shot in the back it must be because they were running away. But there were no police in Ireland. They were spies, informers, and bloody cut-throats. He read with delight that some of those murdering thugs had been sent to their account, and he trusted that Ireland would not be profaned by their carcasses. Their souls were probably in hell, and their bodies should be sent to England. He would not have the sweet pastures of Ireland poisoned by their can-ion clay.
That id the sum total of it. What does the Melbourne Age say? This is the full report of the speech as contained in the Age of the same date:-
Mr. Mahon, M.P., condemned what he referred to as the “ outrage “ committed on Archbishop Mannix by the “bloody gang that had gaoled a venerable ecclesiastic.” He said there were no police in Ireland now - those who were being shot were spies and cut-throats, and the offscourings of the English cities. He also expressed the opinion that their souls were in hell, and he hoped their bodies “ would be sent to England, so that the sweet pastures of Ireland might not be poisoned by their carrion clay.” When he (Mr. Mahon) moved a harmless motion in the House to call attention to the “ infamous murder” of the Lord Mayor of Cork, the “renegade rats of the Labour movement and the vinegar-visaged wowsers who supported Hughes” had put on the “gag.” He indignantly asked the meeting was the House to confine itself to roads and bridges and. the price of wheat?
There are fundamental differences between these reports. Here we have two witnesses to the speech alleged to have been delivered by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, and I say that upon such evidence no man would be convicted of any charge. It did not suit the Prime Minister to read these differing reports.
There is a vast gulf separating acts from adjectives, and, while it may be admitted that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie made use of ill-chosen words - that” is if he really “did employ that lan guage - the Prime Minister would have us believe that the British Empire is to be shaken to its foundations because of the adjectives used by the Honorable Hugh Mahon in far-away Australia. I do not agree with what the .honorable member is represented to have said outside this Parliament, but I do agree with the attitude he adopted in this House the day before yesterday. He said in effect -
For any conduct of mine in Parliament, or any offence against the discipline of Parliament, let the Parliament take action. For my sins outside Parliament, as a citizen, let the Courts of this country try me for any offence against the laws.
That, in my view, was the proper attitude for the honorable gentleman to take up, and it is a proper attitude for this Parliament to adopt..
I do not understand these Irish differences. I am a believer in the principle of Home Rule as applied to all peoples, those of Ireland included; but I am too busy attending to the needs and requirements of the Australian, people, whether they be Roman Catholics, Methodists, or of no religion whatever,, and of all classes and creeds, to be concerning (myself particularly about these ancient differences that exist 10,000 miles across the sea. I most emphatically object, as an Australian, to the continuous importation of these Old World differences.
I can take off my hat to the idealism and heroism of a gentleman like the late Lord Mayor of Cork, Alderman McSwiney. What he did required courage and faith in his cause. It is no evidence of selfishness, or that a man is working for his personal advantage-, when for seventy-six days he starves himself to death for what he believes to be a just cause. Whilst disagreeing with the alleged statements of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, I am not here to condemn the spirit in which he places his case before the public. I do not believe that the honorable gentleman has been actuated by any selfish motive. I believe he thinks he is helping the Irish cause and that he has been influenced by those age-long differences, the brunt of which he has experienced in those older lands himself. Such men and such sacrifices are not easily understood at a time when the opinion is held that every person has his price, and works for some selfish end.
I have noticed that many resolutions have recently been passed by public bodies in and around Melbourne. These matters have been stage-managed before, and I should not be surprised to learn that they were stage-managed on this occasion. The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt), when he came back from London, told us that the mighty receptions accorded the Prime Minister, as he wentthrough this country on his last arrival from Great Britain, were all stage-managed.
– And paid for by the Com monwealth.
– Yes, and paid for by the Commonwealth.
– I do not remember that the honorable member for Balaclava said that they were paid for by the Commonwealth.
– I do not think he did say so, but someof us know of our own knowledge that they were paid for by the Commonwealth, and we know that returned soldiers were paid so much a day to take part in the hurrahing and cheering at those receptions. It is just as likely that the Prime Minister knew how to pull strings for these resolutions as he knew how, throughout the war, to “stage-manage” affairs on many occasions that might be mentioned.
– I rise to a point of order. I wish, sir, to take your ruling as to whether this motion does not now lapse, in accordance with the provisions of standing order 119, which says -
If all motionsshallnot have been disposed of two hours after the time fixed for the meeting of the House, the debate thereon shall be interrupted, and unless the House otherwise order, the Orders of the Day shall be taken in rotation; but if there should be no Order of the Day, the discussion on motions may bc continued. The consideration of motions may be resumed after the Orders of the Day are disposed of.
I direct your attention to the fact that the motion moved by the Prime Minister appears on the business-paper as an ordinarynotice of motion, and that there are Orders of the Day on the business-paper to follow this motion. I submit that, inasmuch as the two hours’ limit fixed by the standing order has expired, it lapses by effluxion of time. I submit, further, that this contention is only in keeping with a former ruling given by yourself on a similar point on Friday, 9th July, 1920. I quote the following from Votes and Proceedings of the House of Representatives for that date: -
Point of order - Speaker’s ruling - Mr. Tudor having raised a point of order with reference to his notice of motion of want of confidence, which appeared at the head of the notice-paper, not being called on, and other honorable members having addressed themselves to the point of order -
Mr. Speaker ruled that, two hours having elapsed after the time fixed for the meeting of the House, and the urgency motion for the adjournment of the House not having been disposed of, there was no opportunity of calling upon Mr. Tudor’s motion within the prescribed period of time, which had expired, and the Orders of the Day were rightly called on under the provisions of standing order 119, the House not having otherwise ordered before the expiration of the two hours.
I say that, in connexion with this particular motion, there has been no order from the House before the expiration of the two hours, and in consequence of that and in keeping with your former ruling, I claim that it is not in order now to further proceed with the consideration of this motion.
-The honorable member’s point would be well taken in connexion with any ordinary motion, or any other kind of motion under discussion; but if he will turn to, I think, speaking from memory, standing orders 111 and 284, he will see that the motion at present under discussion, being a motion of privilege, must take precedence of all other questions until decided. Standing order 119, therefore, has no application to such a motion.
– It is not on the businesspaper as a motion of privilege.
– It may not be set down on the business-paper in so many words as a motion of privilege; but any motion affecting the seat of an honorable member is a motion of privilege. That is why it is set down at the top of the notice-paper, even before questions upon notice. A motion of privilege takes precedence of all other business, including Orders of the Day. Therefore, the discussion of this motion must go on until the question of privilege which it raises is decided.
– May I point out that there is no provision made to show that this motion is one of privilege.
– The motion itself is a motion of privilege, although there is no specific reference to privilege contained in it. The matter to which it relates is the determining factor. I have already pointed out that a motion affecting the position of an honorable member of the
House, and his eligibility for continued membership, is in itself a motion of privilege, whether it is so stated in the motion or not. The honorable member for Cook (Mr. J. H. Catts) may therefore proceed with his speech.
– What are the words relied upon by the Prime Minister to support his charge? They appear to be only three, contained in the reference to “ a bloody and accursed Empire.” However badly chosen these words may be, and however much we may disapprove of the use of these adjectives, what is there seditious in these words, “ a bloody and accursed Empire”? Webster’s Dictionary tells us that “ accursed “ means “ doomed to destruction.” To express the opinion that the Empire is doomed to destruction is not seditious. The New Century Dictionary says that “ accursed “ means “doomed to harm or misfortune; blasted; ruined.” There is no sedition in that. Then the Prime Minister” talks of inconsistency.He has said in his motion that the conduct of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie is inconsistent with the oath of allegiance. Imagine a charge of inconsistency coming from the right honorable member for Bendigo! He should be the last man on earth to talk about inconsistency.Who is to be the judge of inconsistency?Is a man to be expelled from this Parliament for inconsistency? What trifling piffle to put in a motion of this kind !
Now, what is sedition? I find that Stroud’s Judicial Dictionary, second edition, defines sedition in this way -
Sedition is the attempt to bring into hatred and contempt the person of theReigning Monarch or the Government of the United Kingdom by law established, or either House of Parliament, or to incite His Majesty’s subjects to attempt the alteration of any matter in Church or State as by law established, otherwise than by lawful means, or to incite any person to commit any crime in disturbaube of the peace, or to raise discontent or disaffection amongst His Majesty’s subjects, or to promote feelings of ill-will or hostility between different classes of subjects.
Broom’s Commentaries on the Common Law, 10th edition, show that while in practice ‘ ‘ sedition “ is not now interpreted as having so wide a meaning as that given, adopts Stroud’s definition, but says in chapter 2 -
No act will be seditious unless its evil consequences are felt over a considerable area or afford a bad example to a considerable number of persons.
Will it be said that the words of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie have an evil consequence over a large area? I do not think that that will be contended. .
My attitude towards the motion of the Prime Minister and the allegations made against the honorable member for Kalgoorlie’ is set forth in the following amendment : -
That this House, whilst being opposed to all sedition and disloyalty and the subversion of constitutional means for the redress of grievances, is of opinion that the allegations made against the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, the Honorable Hugh Mahon, should not be dealt with by this House, for the following reasons: -
The allegations made against the honorable member do not concern his conduct in Parliament or the discipline of Parliament.
That Parliament is not a proper tribunal to try a charge of sedition arising from the exercise of civilian rights of free speech at a public assembly of citizens.
That the Judicature is especially established and equipped, and has ample power under the law, to bring any person to public trial for the offenceof sedition alleged against the honorable member.
That every citizen so charged is entitled to a public trial by a jury of his peers, where he would have the right to exclude by challenge biased persons from the jury panel, and that this fundamental principle of British justice should not be departed from in this case.
That is my declaration. That is the declaration by the Labour party in the Federal Parliament for the information of all Australia. It is its attitude towards sedition and disloyalty, and to attempts at the unconstitutional redress of grievances generally..
This may be a fitting opportunity to read the first plank of the platform of the Australian Labour party -
Complete Australian self-government as a British community. No Imperial Federation. Policy and administration to be decided on the advice of Australian Ministers only, subject to control of the Australian Parliaments. All Bills passed by Parliament to receive assent on advice of Australian Ministers only; Australian High Court to be final Court of appeal. Cessation of practice of recommending Australian citizens for Imperial honours.
The Prime Minister has said something about the defence of Australia. Before he went to England he was never tired of going up and down this country telling us that Wales was “ for ever best.”
He told us that Australia could not defend itself, although some of us took leave to dispute that statement, claiming that with 500,000 Australian soldiers, who have since shown that they have no peers on the battle-fields of the world, properly armed and equipped, we could keep any foreign nation from landing a force on these shores. No power on earth has sufficient tonnage and equipment to send its armies thousands of miles over the seas away from their base to deal with a force such as Australia could put into the field. Throughout the war the right honorable gentleman, and those associated with him, dragged the guns out of our forts, and sent them overseas, so that if Australia was left defenceless and in a position in which it could not turn a hand for itself in the hour of danger, it was because we had men in control here who thought that their first duty was not to those who had put them in power, but to some other “ patch “ on the face of the globe. After the right honorable gentleman returned from England, and while crossing the continent of Australia from west to east, he altered his tune, and said -that he was now convinced the fighting men of Australia were able to take care of this country; but to-day it suits him to change his attitude again, and make us mere dependants hanging on to the apronstrings of the Old Country, 16,000 miles across the water.
There are three main branches of government - the Executive, the Parliament, and the Judicature - and a vast mistake is made when these three are not kept to their proper functions. In the words of the amendment, it is not fit that this Parliament should try a man for sedition. I challenge the Govermment to say that it is a charge which is understood by more than half-a-dozen highlytrained members of the House; yet itis proposed to expel a member on that charge.
While we are considering the alleged utterances of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, it is just as well to draw attention to some of the statements which have been made by Britishstatesmen right in the midst of this seething trouble across the sea.
The Argus of the 11th October, 1920, contained the following report of some remarks made by Viscount Grey, formerly Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs -
The British Government in Ireland is morally and politically a failure.
Viscount Grey is also reported to have referred to the
Incapacity of the British Parliament to end this tragic failure.
According to the Argus of the 12th October, 1980, Mr. Asquith, the ex-Prime Minister of Great Britain, is reported to have said -
The only Irish policy Mr. Lloyd George offers is repudiation of Dominion Home Eulo and condonation of the hellish policy of reprisals. The attempt to answer murder by murder and outrage by terrorism is not government, but anarchy.
These words are as strong as those used by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. If the words of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, uttered 1.6,000 miles away from the scene of trouble, will tend cri subvert the Constitution, and shake the British Empire to its very foundations, what, then, is to be said of words such as those uttered by Mr. Asquith right in the midst of the seething mass of discontent? Yet have we heard that the Prime Minister of Great Britain has haled Mr. Asquith before Parliament to expel him for sedition?
On the 15th October, 1920, the Argus published a joint letter written by Viscount Grey and Lord Robert Cecil, M.P., Coalition-Unionist, from which I quote the following -
Reports in the press afford, apparently, overwhelming evidence thatthe armed forces of the Crown are systematically burning houses and killing and wounding inhabitants, the victims including Protestants and Unionists. . The reprisals by the police and military in Ireland are not confined to those guilty of murdering the police.
If the words of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie are harmful, what then can be said of these words written on the very soil of Britain itself by Viscount Grey and Lord Robert Cecil, and charging the British Government with murder, pillage, and destruction ?
On the16th October, 1920, the Argus reported Mr. Asquith to have said, referring to the action of the police and military in Ireland -
They were acts of blind indiscriminate vengeance. There was no parallel for such a state of affairs unless it was the work of the Germans in Belgium.
If words would foment rebellion and upset the Constitution, what is to be said of speeches such as these in England and Ireland, where passion and hatred are at their maximum? Yet. we hear of no charges of sedition there.
We have heard something from the Prime Minister about republicanism. He makes the charge that a resolution favouring a republic in Australia was carried at the meeting which the honorable member for Kalgoorlie attended. I think it is appropriate to quote the present Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) upon republicanism. It is on public record in Hansard. This is what he said about it -
I do not know that I am a red-hot Republican - at any rate, not one of those Republicans who say they will do nothing until they can get a Republic. I believe the destiny of these Colonies will be that of a Republic, and whenever it comes I shall certainly hail it, if it does come in a way which will meet the aspirations of the great bulk of the people without any great hardship accruing….. But the great objection I have to Royalty is that Mr. Labouchere raised to it the other day - that it has such a tendency to the creation of social servility that it tends to set up orders of being in the State, different castes and gradations in society, and all that kind of thing, which is subversive of the great intelligence and education of our time. … A Republic will como in Australia I am firmly convinced, but when it does come I hope it will leave behind the troubles and oppressive conditions now associated with those forms of Republican Government which exist in the countries I have mentioned.
The right honorable gentleman (Sir Joseph Cook), who has now accepted from Royalty those honours and favours which he formerly said created a social servility, was free to advocate on the floor of Parliament republicanism without any charge of sedition being laid against him, and, although he has been confronted with these statements by myself time after time in this House, he has never yet uttered one word of retraction.
In spite of all this, the Government of which Sir Joseph Cook is a member now seeks to expel a member for an alleged offence which he has himself committed, without question, in a more deliberate and public manner !
I stated earlier that the Prime Minister himself had set out to create disorder in this country. As a matter of fact, no one has made greater attacks upon Democracy and freedom of speech than he has. He charged the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan), who was formerly Premier of Queensland, with having made false statements. The case was dismissed ; but any one was making false statements who differed from the right honorable member for Bendigo, and accordingly he took action against Senators Barnes and
McDqugall, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews), Mr. Cain, M.L.A., ex-Senator Rae, Mr. Henry Boote, editor of the Worker, and myself, on seven different occasions. Most of the cases were dismissed, but at least the right honorable gentleman achieved one purpose. He recalled his opponents from their electioneering tours, while he himself went about the country quite unhindered. I have a long list of these cases. I need not refer to them, but I shall give one or two instances to show the frame of mind of the right honorable gentleman -
At Tamworth the Prime Minister said, “ I have three charges against him (Mr. Catts). Unfortunately, one has not convictedhim on law, and he is not punished; but I shall go on with the business and with your help until I do.” - Tamworth Observer, 3rd December, 1917.
He was actually inviting the members of a public audience to come along and give him some information upon which he could convict a political opponent!
At Guyra the Prime Minister invited the audience to give evidence in regard to Mr. Catts’ speech on Japan, when he would prosecute without delay. - Sydney MorningHerald, 1st December, 1917.
At Tamworth some reference was made at a public meeting by Mr. Farrar, M.L.C., to Mr. Brookfield, M.L. A., to the effect that the latter should be in gaol, whereupon the Prime Minister, from his place on the platform, shouted, “ He damned soon will be.” - Sydney Morning Herald, 1st December, 1917.
Yes, this petty tyrant would catch every man who happened to differ from him by the scruff of the neck, put him out of Parliament, or cut his throat, if he could do it.
Has not the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) attempted to create disorder all over the country? If it be sedition to incite persons to create disturbance, to raise disaffection and discontent, and to promote hostility amongst classes and creeds of the people, then the Prime Minister himself is the arch-conspirator. What about the Warwick incident, and the misrepresentations concerning it ? Because a railway man, after screwing up the engine bolts, happened to come along with a spanner in his hand to have a look at a public meeting, the Prime Minister concocted misrepresentations, which went up and down the country and appeared in every newspaper, inferring that he - this little man - had been attacked by agang of huge labouring men, with crowbars and sledge hammers, because he was seeking to do his duty to the country. Yet the police found that his statements were absolutely untrue.
At a meeting held in the Melbourne Exhibition Buildings, when the Prime Minister said to the bevy of detectives surrounding him, “ There is a man there trying to draw a bead on me,” the detectives seized the man and searched him, only to find that he was the door-keeper going about with a key in his hand awaiting an opportunity to lock up.
At the Richmond Cricket Ground, once more surrounded by a bevy of detectives, the Prime Minister drew their attention to the fact that he had seen a man sneaking around the front of the platform with a dagger in his hand. But the man did not materialize when the detectives went to search for him.
The Prime Minister said that, coming up Bourke-street, he had seen wounded returned soldiers knocked down and kicked in front of his eyes, but the police, on making investigations, found his statement untrue. The Prime Minister told of a ladder that had been reared at the back of his residence in Kew, and that an assassin had crept up it in order to cut his throat. It turned out that the milkman who was unable to find a jug into which to pour the milk had rattled the window, and the honorable gentleman imagined that he was an assassin in search of his blood.
This is the petty, hysterical tyrant, trembling for his own safety, who charges the honorable member for Kalgoorlie with sedition - a charge which is based upon his own perfervid imagination and upon no sufficient evidence whatever.
I appeal to the public men in this historic Legislature, gentlemen who come here from the four corners of this great Commonwealth, to disregard the clamour of sectarian bitterness, and to maintain the priceless traditions of British liberty, free speech, and justice.
We must not be too mealy-mouthed about the adjectives which are used at public meetings. It is a tradition of the British people that there shall be perfect liberty for men to express their political differences. The Prime Minister would interfere with this traditional freedom which all Britishers have been permitted to enjoy.
Isincerely hope that honorable members upon the other side of the chamber will not, in the heat of political partizanship, in the bitterness of religious and sectarian differences, allow themselves to do that which will go down into the pages of history as an absolute disgrace. For whatever may be the political differences of these unfortunate days, posterity will look upon the work of this national Legislature and carefully appraise it. I do not hesitate to say that any honorable member who votes for this motion upon the flimsy evidence which is before us will stamp himself as being unworthy of a seat in the National Parliament of this great Commonwealth.
I would rather err upon the side of mercy, liberty, tolerance, and freedom than place myself in the category of the bigots who exhibit narrow-mindedness, bad feeling, and all uncharitableness in connexion with these Old World differences.
I submit that there is no evidence before us upon which we ought to convict the honorable member for Kalgoorlie on a charge of sedition. I further maintain that this House is not the proper tribunal to adjudicate upon such a charge.
If the Government and honorable members who support them wish to fully conserve those principles which they profess so dearly to cherish, they ought to have no fear in sending the honorable member upon a proper indictment before a jury of his peers in the Courts of the Commonwealth.
.- In submitting this motion the Prime Minister divided his speech into two portions. The first portion was based upon implicit acceptance of the statements of the Argus in regard to the alleged utterances of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Mahon). The second portion was devoted to an attempt to show that the principle of self-determination in the case of nations meant nothing, but if it meant anything, it could be enjoyed only by those nations which had the power to enforce it. In regard to the first portion of his indictment, the Prime Minister - as has been ably pointed out by honorable members who have preceded me from this side of the Chamber - did not attempt to give one tittleof proof of the accuracy of the statements published in the Argus. He flourished in our faces what, he alleged to be affidavits. He did not attempt to read them - he did not give the names of the individuals who are alleged to have furnished them. If he has the affidavits in question, why has lie not taken action elsewhere? As a matter of fact, he has not those affidavits. Those who know the Prime Minister best are perfectly familiar with his old tricks. At the Recruiting Conference which was called by the late Governor-General some time ago, the then President of the Australian Workers- Union, Mr. Frank Lundie, exposed the right honorable gentleman’s tricks, and reminded him of his own experiences at previous conferences, at which the Prime Minister had flourished documents which he claimed to be genuine, but which had been proved to be false. I do not believe that the Prime Minister has any affidavits. If he had, and if they supported the statements published in the Argus, he would have treated the honorable member for Kalgoorlie as his Government treated me, and Mr. Hugh Mahon would now be in the lock-up. When I was before the Court upon a somewhat similar charge to that- preferred against Mr. Mahon, the procedure which was adopted - so I was informed - was adopted for the purpose of testing the credibility of the witnesses. If this Parliament, which is supposed to be the highest Court in this country, adopts a like procedure, then the only evidence which it has before it is the Argus report of Mr. Mahon’s speech. Let us, therefore, test the credibility of the Argus. In a book which la published by Cyril Bryan, entitled Archbishop Mannix, appears an extract from a report published in the Argus of 29th January, 1917, of a speech alleged to have been made by Archbishop Mannix in relation to the war. The Argus reports reads -
They heard a great deal about the cause of the war, that it was a question of the rights of the smaller nations, but, as a matter of fact, it was simply a sordid trade war.
Listen to the comments upon that report -
Let attention be directed to the word “ sordid “ in the’ above. Note its bold appearance. After a number of copies of the Argus had been printed - how many, of course,, wo are unable to say - the word “ sordid “ was deliberately mutilated, and in the remainder of the issue it appeared as shown in the photographic reproduction on the following page.
This is a very credible witness. Here is & copy of the remainder of the issue with the word “ sordid “ evidently chiselled out of the type. Again, in the Victorian Government Gazette of 21st February, 1879, there was published the following notice which was signed by Byran O’Loghlen, Acting -Chief Secretary: -
In consequence of the fabrication by, and the publication in the Argus journal of false news purporting to be genuine and authoritative, concerning the proceedings and discussions of the Cabinet, being continually persevered in for several weeks past, the public are hereby cautioned against giving any credence to either of these statements, or any similar kind of news published for the future in that journal. The Argus journal has been refused any official information of the kind by the Acting Chief Secretary, who feels justified in taking this course, as that journal has, for several months, unpatriotically attempted to depreciate the financial credit of Victoria.
Who spoke of sedition or disloyalty? The Acting Chief Secretary of Victoria published this notice in the Government Gazette concerning the very journal upon whose unsupported testimony we are now asked to expel one of our members for disloyalty and sedition. I have addressed quite a number of public meetings since my election to this House. At every one of those meetings there have been at least two gentlemen who are connected with the Military Department taking notes. The only occasion upon which I missed them appears to be that upon which the honorable member for Kalgoorlie and myself, amongst others, addressed a public meeting at Richmond on .Sunday afternoon last. If these gentlemen were there - and I have no reason to doubt that they were - why have not their shorthand notes been produced ?
– Because they did not agree with, one another, I suppose.
– The same evening I addressed a meeting in the Socialist Hall, down the street, at which these two gentlemen were present, and, as usual, were taking notes.
– The statements which the Prime Minister read to-day are not the same as those which appear in the Argus.
– Every member of the Labour party knows that at every one of these meetings there are official shorthand writers from the Defence Department taking notes. Reporters are also present. Why did the Government not take steps to prosecute the honorable member whom they now propose to expel ?
They were very quick and lively in prosecuting me. Why did they not expel me?
– Hear, hear!
– I note the “Hear, hear!” from the honorable member for Perth.
– They wanted to disappoint the honorable member.
– But they do not wish to disappoint Mr. Hugh Mahon. Why? Because Kalgoorlie is not the Barrier, I think.
– I would not insult the Barrier like that.
– The honorable member thinks that Mr. Mahon’s chances of coming back here are less than my own. That is why the Government put me in gaol, and propose to expel him. Honorable members know that this matter has nothing whatever to do with religion. There is no question of sectarianism or of national aspirations involved in it. It is not a racial question. It is purely an attempt on the part of the Nationalist party to resuscitate their fallen fortunes at the expense of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. We have only to reflect upon recent political history to realize that. We have merely to look at the recent defections from our own ranks. The Prime Minister has never said anything more cutting or more vindictive against Mr. Hugh Mahon than he has said of his latest recruit. Anything that can be done to buttress up this falling Government is being done, and no means is too despicable to use. To this end it is necessary to brand this man, who has been a Cabinet Minister^ along with the Prime Minister, and also with the Government’s latest recruit (Mr. Higgs),, upon such flimsy and unsupported statements as those appearing in the
Argus. Honorable members on the other side may carry this motion, but they will not convince the electors of Kalgoorlie, or the public of Australia, that they have any evidence of that flagrant “ disloyalty” and “ sedition,” that almost brought the Prime Minister to tears, when he told us that he would hold his hand and not take legal proceedings. The Prime Minister will not take legal proceedings against (his man who is subverting the foundations of the Empire, simply because he has no evidence. He is attempting to repeat the proceedings which took place on his return, and in reference to- which we are so thankful to the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt) for enlightening us. It is mere “ stage management “ - another attempt to play on the patriotic susceptibilities of the people and inflame their prejudices, so that the Prime Minister and his party may remain in a. position to continue to fool them.
The Prime Minister hae stated that self-determination cannot be given to Ireland. Ireland does not “ ask “ for self-determination. She is now in the fourth year of her Republic. The honorable gentleman also told us that Australia, in the most democratic way that can be imagined, has decided that she will continue to link up with the great British Empire. So did Ireland decide by the self-same means, and the selfsame methods, upon the right of the Irish people to govern themselves. Tested by the self-same acid test, the Irish people have declared their right to govern themselves in accordance with Irish views, Irish aims, and Irish ideals. If the “White Australia” policy were questioned tomorrow, or some other vital interest of the nation were threatened, would the Australian people ask any outsider to determine for them what they should do ? The Prime Minister himself has said that we are prepared to arbitrate about this or that question, but when it comes to a- question affecting the life of the nation, or to something that vitally affects its destinies we will not arbitrate. The Irish people have also said that there are some things which cannot be handed over by them - and amongst these is the right to control their own destinies. Mr. Lloyd George, the British Prime Minister, on the 5th January, 1918, said -
Mere lip-service to the formula of … . the principle of self-determination is useless Again, we believe that before permanent peace can be hoped for three conditions must be fulfilled, and the second of these conditions was that a territorial settlement must be secured, based on the right of self-determination or the consent of the governed.
The Irish people have decided that question. I am not one to say to the Irish people, “You must have a Republic, or you must remain a portion of the Empire,” any more than I would say to the people of Australia, “ You must do this, that, or the other thing.” I have certain economic views, and I believe in- certain forms of govern- ment, but thepeople of’ this country will determine for themselves, irrespective of the views of other nations, or other communities outside of Australia, what institutions shall exist in this country, and so uphold the principle of selfdetermination. The Irish people, the English people, or any other people or nation on the face of the earth, have that same”right,” but they have not all got the might; and it is only might that makes “right” in the world to-day. The Prime Minister, when hegave notice of this motion, stood aghast, and asked, “ What? An Irish Republic within gunshot of Great Britain? No; certainly not.” An Egyptian Republic ? Yes. Why.? On the 20th September the following appeared in the Herald: -
Suggestions Approved. treaty may be signed. .
By forty-four votes to three the Egyptian Legislative Assembly adopted a resolution accepting the principles of the suggestions made by the Commission headed by Lord Milner as a suitable basis for a treaty.
This treaty would be submitted to the National Assembly, which should have the right of acceptance or rejection.
The Commission, which was appointed in September, 1919, consisted of Lord Milner, General Sir J. G. Maxwell, Sir J. Bennell Rodd, Brigadier-General Sir Thomas Owen, M.P., Mr. J. A. Spender (editor of the Westminster Gazette), and Mr. C. J. B. Hurst (Assistant Legal Adviser to the Foreign Office). It was constituted to inquire into disorders in Egypt, report on the existing situation in the country, and on the form of constitution which would be best calculated to promote its peace and prosperity. The Commission recommended the recognition of the independence and sovereign status of Egypt, these provisions to he embodied in a new Anglo-Egyptian treaty.
Were these men seditious-mongers - disloyalists? The Prime Minister tells us that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie wishes to disrupt the Empire - to pull it to pieces. Is Egypt not just as much a part of the Empire as Ireland is?
– Then, what are British troops doing in Egypt?
– To hold it.
– What did Britain do during the course of the war? Did it not appropriate all the rights accruing to the Turkish nation in relation to Egypt?
– The honorable member does not know his history.
-I ask the honorable member to address the Chair, and not indulge in conversations across the chamber.
– Egypt may have independence. “Why? Because it is not in such close proximity to Britain. According to the Prime Minister, Ireland, because she is within gunshot of Britain, may not rule herself in accordance with the wishes of her people. Very well; judged by the same rule, Great Britain has no right to independence if France has a powerful fleet and a powerful army. On that argument, the German right to invade Belgium can be justified ; it means that no nation has any right to independence if it abuts on the frontiers of a more powerful nation, and may be used by other nations.
The Prime Minister asked, also, whether Ireland could defend herself with her small population. What about Switzerland? What about other small nations, such as Denmark and Norway, most of them with less population than there is in Ireland? Is that the real reason? We know it is not. The real reason why Ireland will not bo allowed to determine for herself what form of government she may have, so long as the British power is able to frustrate her wishes, is that Britain fears the competition of Ireland in trade and commerce. The history of Ireland is the history of the crushing out of her commerce by the power of British exploiters. When I take this stand, I do not take it from any religious point of view - I do not take it from any national point of view. As honorable members have often reminded me, I have been very consistent in this House in pointing out that economic causes lie at the root of all these troubles. It is the cause of Ireland’s trouble to-day - it is the cause of that seething discontent among the Irish people which is embroiling them with the British Empire ; the root cause is economic, and not religious.
Listen to what is said by the delegation appointed by the Labour party of Great Britain to inquire into the present conditions in Ireland. The members of the Commission were - Right Honorable William Adamson, M.P., Chairman; Right Honorable J. R. Clynes, M.P., Vice-Chairman ; Right Honorable Arthur
Henderson, M.P., Secretary, National Labour Party; Mr. W. Tyson Wilson, M.P., Chief Whip; Mr. J. Allen Parkinson, M.P.; Mr. Walter R. Smith, M.P.; Mr. H. S. Lindsay, Secretary. The report contained the following:-
The civil and military authorities between them have destroyed practically all the safeguards of political and personal liberty, and we have reason to believe that this policy of repression has driven many Nationalists belonging to the constitutional school into the arms of Sinn Fein.
Raids on private dwellings are a common occurrence. To be found in possession of political leaflets means immediate arrest. A gathering of three or more persons is an illegal assembly. Fairs and markets, which are an essential part of the machinery of Irish trade, are prohibited. Trade union meetings, even national games and pastimes, are forbidden; musical festivals and literary and debating societies of the most harmless character are regarded as conspiracies. In a word, every institution of which we, as British citizens, are so proud - a free press, freedom of speech, liberty of the subject, and trial by jury - are things of the past in a large part of Ireland; and rule by military force, which we sought to destroy when resorted to by Germany, is an established fact in south and south-west Ireland to-day. These facts are fatal to our reputation for national good faith, and cannot fail to prejudice our national standing in the eyes of our self-governing Dominions and Dependencies.
That is not the statement of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, but a statement made by a Commission consisting of men, some of whom were members of the Imperial Cabinet during the war. Let us see Avhat is said by some other gentlemen, whose integrity and loyalty to the Empire cannot be questioned nr impugned, even in an Australian Parliament. We are informed by the press -
Viscount Grey (former Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs) and Lord Robert Cecil, M.P. (Coalition Unionist), in a joint letter to the press, controvert Mr. Lloyd George’s suggestion that the reprisals by the police and military in Ireland are confined to the shootins of those guilty of murdering the police. “ Reports in the press,” the letter asserts, “afford apparently overwhelming evidence that the armed forces of the Crown are systematically burning houses and killing and wounding inhabitants, the victims including Protestants nnd Unionists.”Itis further alleged that this policy is sanctioned by the Government, including the Prime Minister, and that grave charges made demand investigation.
– That hardly proves that the Irish police are running away !
– The honorable member is all right - he is safe. Mr.
Asquith, the Leader of the Independent Liberals, and the late Prime Minister of England - the Prime Minister, in fact, who involved Britain in the war - said at Ayr, in Scotland -
He denied emphatically that the military and police reprisals were for outrages committed on them. Parliament should demand a thorough and impartial inquiry. They were not in any sense acts of defence, but acts of blind, indiscriminate vengeance. There was no parallel for such a state of affairs, unless it was the work of the Germans in Belgium.
That is not Mr. Hugh Mahon out at Richmond, but Mr. Asquith, an ex-Prime Minister of the British Empire. Speaking in Scotland, and not in Ireland, he said that the only parallel to the deeds of these “ officers of the King,” as the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) calls them, was to be found in the work of the Germans in Belgium. In the Melbourne Herald of 16th September appeared this cable -
Protest by Publicists. “a sort of lynch law.” (Published in The Times.)
London, 13th September
Thirteen intellectuals and publicists have written to The Times protesting against “ militarism in Ireland.”
Among the signatories are Sir Philip Gibbs, the famous war correspondent and author; John Masefield, the distinguished poet and author; Professor Gilbert Murray, Regius Professor of Greek at the Oxford University, and celebrated dramatist and writer; H. G. Wells, the renowned novelist; and Lieutenant-General Sir Hubert de la Poer Gough.
Honorable members will remember General Gough in connexion with the Ulster rebels’ exploits just prior to the war, when Sir Edward Carson and his friends were engaged in running German guns into Ireland. Sir Hubert Gough played a very prominent part in relation to the Curragh incident. This gentleman, in company with other representative Englishmen - there was not one Irishman among then, Sinn Feiner or otherwise - protested to the British Government against militarism in Ireland. Yet honorable members are asked, in face of these protests against organized atrocities in Ireland, to expel one of their members, who, on the unsupported testimony of a lying newspaper, is alleged to have used intemperate language in describing the wrongs of his native land.
– I am not here to answer conundrums. Here is an extract from an article by Henry W. Nevinson, a well-known English writer -
My own belief is that the ultimate and triumphant settlement of the Irish problem will come only when British statesmen have the good sense to go to Ireland with both hands open and to say, “ Look here now, we are entirely honest; we want to do the right thing at last. Take the utmost you can ask. Take it as some compensation forcenturies of wrong. Call yourself an Irish Dominion, or an Irish Republic, or what you like. Be free, be independent. Only be our friend, instead of being always an enemy upon our flank. Think it over for a year or two in perfect freedom, and then see if you would not prefer to join us as an ally or equal confederate. We know we are foreigners. We have different ideas, different history, and rather different temperaments. But still nearly all of you can speak our language, and those of us who go to Ireland and marry there have a longestablished habit of becoming more Irish than the Irish. Think it over, and give us an answer soon.”
That I am convinced, is the natural, highhearted, and ultimate way of escape from a tragic situation that with every year involves my country in deeper shame.
Honorable members may think that these things are exaggerated, in spite of the testimony of these representative Englishmen; but I have here extracts from British newspapers, to the number of half-a-dozen or more, regarding (midnight raids being made, not on armed men, not on Sinn Fein garrisons, but on women and children, where the homes of Irish women have been raided at midnight, and these gallant upholders of the British Empire have forced them to dress themselves in front of these heroes. Are Irishmen expected to stand quietly by while these outrages are perpetrated in the name of liberty and freedom, and of making the world safe for Democracy ? Irish working men ought to be delighted, I suppose, that they are attached to an Empire which grants them such liberty and freedom. This is one extract -
Organized sabotage and loot are now being practised daily by the British armed forces in Ireland. The following is from the Irish Daily Independent : - “ Mr. Geo. O’Grady, justice of the peace, Norwood Coachford, county Cork, an extensive Protestant farmer, was arrested yesterday morning, when at 4 a.m. a large military party made an exhaustive search of his residence. He was conveyed to Cork gaol, but no charge was stated.
In an interview, Mrs. O’Grady declared that her husband took little interest in anything except farming. The military completely surrounded the place, and were admitted by her husband, who was immediately arrested.
The first intimation I got of the presence of soldiers,’ she said, ‘ was when four rushed into my bedroom. I was in bed, and asked them to leave the room while I was dressing. They answered they would stay there, and I had to dress in their presence. I was then asked for the keys of presses. I gave them up, but the presses were broken open. One wardrobe - my mother’s - I asked them especially not to break, hut still they broke it. Rooms in which my children were - a boy of ten and a girl of twelve - were also searched. My girl was sick, but was ordered out of bed.
Everything was turned topsy-turvey, though nothing was done to hinder the search. They were about five hours in the house. Previous to their going I missed a roll of notes that were left on the table of my bedroom. When I complained to the officer I got no answer. The coachman, Keane, has a room in the house, and I told them he was an old man. They did not give him time to open his door, but broke it in, and pitched him out of bed. They left the house about 0.30 a.m., and there was taken an old rifle, field glasses, and satin cushion’, hand-painted with shamrocks. In addition to the Toll of notes, two old-fashioned gold bracelets, four brooches, one pendant, gold watch and chain, all belonging to my mother, were missing. Of my own property, diamond rings, a turquoise pearl ring, diamond brooch, three pendants, and two bracelets were also gone.’ “
I shall not read every one of these extracts, because it would take up absolutely all the time at my disposal ; but that is not an exaggerated sample of the list of atrocities that are being committed every day and every night in Ireland. Can you wonder at men using intemperate language? Can they forget these things? Are they to remain like dumb dogs? Are they to lick the boot that kicks them ? We hear a lot about Dominion Home Rule from people who never said a good word for the Irish people before Easter week, and who, when it was a question of Home Rule, were as violent in their denunciation of Irish rebels and Irish traitors as they are to-day in the fourth year of the Irish Republic. They say now, “ We are quite willing to give them Dominion Home Rule.” Let Mr. Bonar Law state what the difference is between Dominion Home Rule and that which the Irish people have established for themselves -
London, 31st March, 1920
Mr. Bonar Law (Lord Privy Seal) emphasized the fact that the Government was compelled to introduce the Bill now, because otherwise the Home Rule Act of 1914 would automatically come into operation. . . . He pointed out that none could fail to recognise that the connexion of the Dominions with the Empire depended upon the Dominions, and if any one of them chose to-morrow to say, “ We will no longer remain part of the Empire,” we should not .try to force them.
What have the advocates of Dominion Home Rule for Ireland to say about that ? Will they let the Dominion of Canada or the Dominion of New Zealand or the Commonwealth of Australia exercise the right of self-determination, which Mr. Bonar Law says they have, with freedom to sever themselves at any time that seems good to them from the Empire? Will they claim this right for themselves and deny it to the Irish people, while still offering them Dominion Home Rule?
– Is it? I thought it was a question of principle. Then Germany’s entry into Belgium was a question of geography; and the honorable member and the rest of the patriots involved the world in war over a question of geography, and told us it was a question of principle.
– What I say is that the difference between the position of Canada and the position of Ireland is a question of geography.
– Order I Will honorable members please cease interjecting?
- Mr. Bonar Law went on to say -
Dominion Home Huie meant the right to decide their own destiny. That was demanded by the legal representatives of the Irish people; and for Mr. Asquith to say that he was prepared to give Dominion Home Rule must mean that he was prepared to give nothing less than a Republic. (Applause.) There was no difference between honestly granting Dominion Home Rule and openly giving selfdetermination to the elected representatives of Southern Ireland. He challenged the Labourites to say whether they meant that if the elected representatives of Ireland wanted a Republic they would give them a Republic. That was what self-determination meant.
Have not the British workers refused to transmit’ munitions? Have they not demanded the withdrawal of the army of occupation from Ireland? These patriots who wish to expel a man from their presence on unsupported “ evidence “ merely on the strength of their political prejudices, and their hopes of reaping material gain out of the incident, tell us that it is disloyalty and sedition that a man should stand for the right of the Irish people, or any other nation, great or small, to determine their own destinies in accordance with the rights and privileges that all nations have, or claim to have. Do they impugn the loyalty of the great British working class ? As I said at Richmond on Sunday, so I say now, that, to my mind, there is no question of racial antagonism between the Irish and the English people. It is a question, of commercialism; and the people whom the Irish have to fight, and whose opposition they have to meet, are not the British working men, or the Australian working men, but, the common exploiters of the Irish, the English, and the Australian people. All through my utterances, inside and outside this House, I have stressed the fact that nationalities count for nothing. I have never tried to play upon the religious susceptibilities of the people. The Prime Minister says that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie wishes to shelter himself under the cloak of sectarianism. That is the gentleman who derived the full benefit of the Critchley Parker propaganda leaflets during the 1917 elections. That is the gentleman who,, at Bendigo, drew the attention of the Australian! electors to the fact that my name was Michael Patrick Considine. Yet he makes no appeal to sectarianism ! No man has exploited sectarianism more than has the Prime Minister. There is nobody whose political fortunes have been more favoured by that method than the Prime Minister, and those sitting behind him. Right through the war period nothing else has been played upon, despite the well-known fact in Irish and British history that the main leaders of the Irish people have been of the Protestant faith, and the greatest opponents of the right of the Irish people to rule themselves in accordance with their own ideas have been leading English Catholics. That cannot be denied. Unlike the Prime Minister, I have never appealed for support on the ground of religion. I know no religion’ ‘except the religion of the right of the working class to run this world in accordance with the enlightenment and education that is at their disposal. I do not care how my views are received. I say here, as I said at Richmond, that I stand for the right of the working class of Australia, the British working class, the Irish working class, and the working class of any nation to set up such institutions and such forms of government as they see fit in their own respective countries, and I look forward to the end of all exploiting Empires, and to the creation of an international Republic of the working classes of the world.
– It is a remarkable fact that the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) has availed himself of every opportunity, particularly during the last six years, to seize upon men with names with which he can conjure. It is well known that during the two conscription campaigns and the last two general elections the Prime Minister was the chief stirrer-up of bitter sectarian strife in Australia. Whenever a name such as O’Brien, O’Reilly,Ryan, or Byrne* could be made use of to stir up that feeling, he did not fail to avail himself of it. The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Fowler), in his excellent book Statesman or Mountebank, truthfully points out that during the war period the Prime Minister was exploiting the patriotic sentiments of the people, and that at election time he was exploiting the sectarian issue in order to win. The honorable member thus truthfully and squarely characterizes the Prime Minister’s attitude. I believe that if the language attributed to the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Mahon) had been used by some one not possessing an Irish name, the Prime Minister would have remained silent in regard to it. It is well that the people should know exactly on what lines the right honorable member is operating. I propose to quote a resolution carried, on the motion of the Prime Minister, at a mass meeting held in the Melbourne Exhibition Building some time ago, the wording of which is just as drastic and quite as-hard on certain people as are the statements alleged to have been made by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie.
Let us consider for a moment the circumstances leading up to the proposal that the House shall adjudicate upon this case. Ordinarily the Caucus meeting of the so-called Nationalist party is held every Thursday, but knowing that these utterances were reported to have been made by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, the Whips, acting, I presume, on the direction of the Prime Minister, convened a special meeting of the
Nationalist party on ‘ Tuesday. That meeting was held upstairs with closed doors. A partisan statement was made by the Prime Minister, and the Caucus, after very little discussion, came to the conclusion that a motion for the expulsion of the honorable member should be submitted to the House.
– It is alleged that a good many of the party had to be dragooned into voting for the proposal.
– I have been informed that the decision was almost unanimous. It was intended to submit this motion yesterday, but as the honorable member for Kalgoorlie was absent, the Prime Minister merely gave notice of it. I can well imagine what would be the scene in Court where a case of this kind was being tried. I can see the Court with the Judge on the Bench, the officers about the building, the prosecuting and defending counsel in attendance, and the accused, if you like, in the dock. But I ‘cannot imagine tha jury, when their passions were appealed to by the prosecuting counsel, applauding his statements. That, however, is what we have had in this House this afternoon. Words calculated to arouse the most bitter sectarian passions were used by the Prime Minister, with the object of playing on the feelings of honorable members, until, at last, this House rang with the cheers of the Ministerial supporters. What kind of a jury are they, then, -to come to a decision on the charges laid against the honorable member for Kalgoorlie? What proof have we of the allegations? Is there a man in the country, who would say that, on the evidence put before the House this after noon by the Prime Minister, the honorable member for Kalgoorlie should be adjudged guilty of the charge levelled against him? The Prime Minister himself, if on the other side, would be the first to repudiate such a flimsy way of launching a prosecution against any individual.
This, then, is the class of jury which has already decided to find the honorable member guilty of having uttered the statements attributed to him. It came to that verdict the day before yesterday at its caucus meeting. I presume that the Country party did not attend that meeting, although I dare say they intend to support this motion, but
I am speaking now of only the so-called Nationalist party. I am speaking of the prejudiced, biased jury, which applauded to the echo the sentiments expressed by the Prime Minister this afternoon. This is the sort of jury which is supposed to sit in calm and deliberate judgment on this case, and to give its verdict in accordance with what we know as even-handed justice. It is impossible for it to give such a verdict, and, if it decides this evening to expel the honorable member, it will be adjudged by every fair-minded man and woman in the community to have committed one of the worst of blunders.
If the honorable member for Kalgoorlie has done or said something outside which brings him within the compass of the law, there is a proper method of procedure to adopt. The vilest criminal in the community is entitled to he tried before a jury of his peers - to be tried before an unbiased tribunal which has not come to a decision before hearing the evidence. I appeal to those who constitute this Court to say whether, on the flimsy evidence that has been adduced, they are in a position to come to a decision? Do honorable members think the Prime Minister acted properly this afternoon when he proposed to quote from what he alleged to be four affidavits relating to this matter? He made a quotation from one of them, but when Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, ruled that such documents, if quoted,, would become the property of the House, and would have to be laid on the table, the right honorable gentleman quietly folded them up and when he left the Chamber, I presume, carried them away in one of his safest pockets.
– Because they were only “ fakes.’’
– I do not know whether or not they were “fakes,’’ but it is difficult to believe that honorable members opposite will be satisfied with such tactics. The Prime Minister’s tactics during the last five years have been such that he has been prepared, in every instance, to disclose only such evidence as will suit his own case. It is for honorable members opposite to take the responsibility for their action in this matter. They may gain some little political kudos by voting as they propose to do; but in every British community there is a sense of justice which resents unfair treatment, and sooner or later it will be expressed in respect of honorable members opposite.
I do not believe very much in constitutional authorities, but I would point out that, according to May, there are certain methods to be adopted even in connexion with the expulsion of an honorable member; and I contend that the procedure adopted by the Prime Minister in this instance is not in accordance with constitutional practice. In the eleventh edition of May, page 56, it is stated that -
Members have been expelled as being in open rebellion; as having been guilty of forgery; of perjury; of frauds and breaches of trust; of misappropriation of public money; of conspiracy to defraud; of corruption in the administration of justice, or in public offices, or in the execution of their duties as members of the House; of conduct unbecoming the character of an officer and a gentleman; and of contempts, libels, and other offences committed against the House itself.
Where members have been legally convicted of any offences, it is customary to lay the record of conviction before the House. In other cases the proceedings have been founded upon reports of Commissions or Committees of the House or other sufficient evidence: And it is customary to order the member, if absent, to attend in his place before an order is made for his expulsion. Service is -made upon him of the order of the House for his attendance, or evidence is furnished proving that service is impossible.
No order of this House has been made for the attendance of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. According to the practice of the House of Commons, as set forth in May, before a member can be dealt with because of statements or actions outside the House, the House itself must order him to attend in his place and answer the charges that are laid against him. That has not been done in this instance. The Prime Minister h’as been permitted to follow the procedure “that was usually adopted by him in war time. He has taken constitutional and other law into his own hands, and has interpreted it in his own way, often showing errors of judgment in so doing, and he has not infrequently led his party into a pretty mess. I repeat that the procedure adopted in regard to the honorable member for Kalgoorlie is at variance with the practice of the House of Commons, from which we take a good many of our precedents.
I have mentioned a number of offences in respect of which a member may be expelled from the House of Commons. Of not one of these things has the honorable .member for Kalgoorlie been guilty.
– There is no evidence against him at all.
– That is so. Here is another quotation from May regarding statements made by a Mr. O’Connell, who, I presume, was the renowned Daniel O’Connell-
On the 26th February, 1838, complaint waa made of expressions in a speech of Mr. O’Connell, a member, at a public meeting, as containing a charge of foul perjury against members of the House in the discharge of their judicial duties in election committees. Mr. O’Connell was heard in his place, and avowed- that he had used the expressions complained of. He was declared guilty of a breach of privilege, arid, by order of the House, was reprimanded in his place by the Speaker.
Although Mr. O’Connell admitted that he had used the expressions complained ofthat he had said that members, in the discharge of their .-judicial duties in election committees, were guilty of perjury - and was adjudged guilty of a breach of privilege, the only order made by the House was that he should be reprimanded by the Speaker. That was the punishment meted out to him for making those serious statements. It is stated further that -
A charge that the Commons permitted the presence amongst them of men “whose political existence depends on an organized system of midnight murder “ has been held to be not a case of privilege.
The expression of such a sentiment was held not to be a breach of privilege. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie has not committed one of these offences. Then, again, according to the practice of the House of Commons, the attendance of an honorable member who has been arraigned must be secured by an order of the House. In this case, the Prime Minister has taken upon himself to do all these things, and we now find this biased jury prepared to sit in judgment on the case. I ask honorable members to dismiss from their minds those feelings which, I have no doubt, were naturally aroused by the Prime Minister’s speech. We can test the veracity of this paper by certain action which the Victorian Parliament thought necessary a few years ago. On the motion of the late Mr. John Murray, who was then Premier, the Legislative Assembly declared unanimously that the Argus newspaper was a wilful and profligate liar. It has main tained this reputation ever since. Has amy daily paper in Australia, which sets itself up as an educator of public opinion, descended so low into the gutter of sectarianism as the Argus of recent years? Everything that can be done by this paper to keep alive the sectarian issue is done. What is its purpose? Its purpose is to stir up the very worst passions in the community. The Argus is the journalistic mouthpiece of the Conservative and Tory sections of the community, and they know that this is the only question that can divide the workers of this country, and that if they can thus divide the workers they will enjoy a little longer period of office. The Argus knows that if this Parliament were blessed with a Labour majority legislation would be passed to make the rich men pay what they ought to pay in these times.
– And we would have legislation against the profiteers, too.
– Yes. The Argus knows this, and, therefore, is prepared to use any weapon - and the sectarian weapon is the best to achieve its- purpose.
– While the people are being robbed.
– Tes. In this sectarian issue which has been raised by the press and certain politicians of this country. Protestants in the community are urged to beware of the Irishmen. Everything is being devised to divide the people. As the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Fowler) has shown, the Prime Minister has . exploited the sectarian sentiments of the people for election purposes in much the same manner that he exploited the patriotic sentiments of the people during the war in order to keep in’ power.
– That is what they live for.
– Of course, it is.
– They gloat over it.
– Of course, they do; but success will be only for a time. Now, as the Argus has been quoted by the Prime Minister, 1 am disposed to do the same, and-
– Are you going to read it all?
– It all depends upon the extent to which I am tempted. If I did, the report I am about to read would be an education for some honorable members opposite. I quote from the Argus of Tuesday, 5th May, 1914, a report of an immense Home Rule meeting held in the Exhibition Building, Melbourne.
– Then you will make use of the Argus for the purpose of your argument.
– I am going to use the medium that is instrumental in keeping the honorable member, and friends on his side, in polities. Whatever is necessary to help the so-called National party to get it into power and to stay there, this paper will do. At the meeting to which I refer there were quite a number of speakers, but, perhaps, first of all I should mention that apologies for absence were read from Mr. Glynn, then a member of the Cabinet, and from the present Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Groom). Among those present were the ex-Prime Minister (Mr. Andrew Fisher), the present Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), the President of the Senate (Senator Givens), the present Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce), and Senator Russell, also a member of the present National Government. The following resolution was intrusted to Mr. Hughes : -
That this meeting denounces the treasonable conspiracy openly organized in portions of Ulster by certain landlords and capitalists to subvert the Army and to resist, by armed force, a measure repeatedly passed by a large majoritv of the duly elected parliamentary representatives of the people of Great Britain . and Ireland.
That this meeting strongly reprobates the mutinous attitude of certain aristocratic Army officers, acting in sympathy with a class which threatens armed resistance to the forces of the Crown; especially asArmy leaders have shown no reluctance in the past to employ troops to shoot down British workers who demanded a living wage, as well as to suppress reform movements in Ireland, conducted by means clearly within the Constitution.
Honorable members will admit that the terms of the. resolution were fairly drastic. It would not be too much to say that Sir Edward Carson was characterized as being engaged in treasonable conspiracy. Fancythat !
– But they did not shoot policemen then.
– Nobody knows what they were doing in those days. Passions had been aroused as they are to-day, and as has been said by a British statesman, under the auspices of the present Government in Great Britain, people are dying for a certain cause in a certain country. This is the Argus report of Mr. Hughes’ speech -
He said that that night was the consummationof years of patient, tenacious effort on the part of the Irish people. Every citizen of the Empire might legitimately rejoice at that day. (Loud cheers.) They were told that Home Rule was but a sentiment at best; but it was a sentiment which men had lived for and done great things for, and died for. That day Ireland had within her grasp the fruits of the victory for which she had worked unceasingly in the face of difficulties that would have subdued the men of another race. This was Ireland’s legitimately, and no force on earth could take it fromher. Why should Home Rule be denied to Ireland? It was the inevitable corollary to the franchise in a democratic country. They that night were doing their part in ushering into the world of nations, and into the public arena a new Parliament and a new nationality. (Cheers.) They were told that Home Rule meant the disintegration of the Empire. If he thought that he would hesitate before he cast his vote for it; but he believed the effect would be the opposite,and that Home Rule would convert a hostile neighbour into afirm friend. If the British Empire were such a puny thing that the heated prejudices of disappointed placemen were going to disrupt it, then let it be disrupt.
– Can we rely upon that report as being accurate?
– That is not for me to say; but I remind the honorable member that he and his friends are prepared to condemn a man upon a report in the same paper. I believe with the Prime Minister, who said the other day that so far as the press were concerned, speaking of them generally, they are first-class liars. Mr. Hughes stated further -
There were men who opposed Home Rule for Ireland, not the honest, misguided men of Ulster, who believed that Home Rule meant something terrible, but designing men who engineered and manufactured this agitation. He denounced them. Those men said that their opposition to Home Rule for Ireland was in the name of the Empire and humanity. They had acted merely for the sake of part and for selfish and contemptible purposes.
If certain action in 1914 was for the sake of party, and selfish and contemptible purposes, the same can be said of what is now being done.
He repudiated the assertion that with a Parliament Ireland would be only an appanage of Rome. That night he was speaking without fear, without bias, and without heat. He came from a race which had always stood for Protestantism, and which had yet returned more Home Rulers to the House of Commons than any other portion of Great Britain, excepting Ireland. Let them sweep into oblivion the bogus cry of Home Rule being Rome Rule Home Rule, so far from being Rome Rule, meant the negation of Rome Rule. Before him he saw a united Ireland with old sectarian bitterness wiped out. He saw the forces which had divided the people in the past flocking to the banner of labour, and fighting the great cause of the proletariat, as it was being fought elsewhere. It was not the voice of Ulster that was being heard in this trouble, but the voice of men who talked the shibboleth of law when it suited them. - So long as it suited these men they supported law and order, but when it threatened them they opposed it, and boasted that they had run guns into Ireland in spite of Parliament.
Fancy that! Carson and the others referred to had run guns into Ireland in spite of Parliament.
The people would know how to treat these people’s protestations in the future. Two great principles arose over the Home Rule question. One was that the supremacy of Parliment must he maintained at all hazards. The other was that the majority must rule. Englishmen, apathetic and indifferent as they were on too many matters, when once touched on the question of putting government of the Army above Parliament, became roused. The other side had taken that one step too far, and to-day Englishmen were behind Home Rule. (Cheers.) With all his heart he said, not only “God save the King,” but “God save Ireland.” (Renewed cheers.)
I have quoted extensively, because ft is just as well sometimes to have a look at the W. M. Hughes of a few years ago, and compare him with the same gentleman of to-day.
– There is no change.
– When the present Prime Minister was lieutenant to Andrew Fisher, in the Labour Government, he was most bitter in his declamations against sectarianism of any kind; but during the last four years his victories, even though they may have been Pyrrhic victories, have been because the sectarian question has been introduced. And why has it been introduced time and again? Visiting Bendigo recently, immediately after the passing of the Parliamentary Allowances Bill, the Prime Minister anticipated that there would be some opposition to that action. Therefore, he adroitly threw the sectarian apple into the midst of the Nationalist camp, with the result that Bendigo cheered instead of tearing at him. He has played that kind of game before, and will play it again, for he knows that only by keeping alive bitter sectarian feelings among people of different religious convictions can he hope to retain sufficient support to maintain him in office. A leading article ‘in the Age once made use of a very strong word in. summing up the Prime Minister. The description employed by that paper was that his actions were “loathsome.” I can employ that word and say that the action of the Prime Minister in his efforts to maintain his political life by stirring up sectarianism is loathsome. A person’s religion does not matter at all to me. My religious belief is due entirely to accident. I am of a certain faith to-day because as a little chap my mother took me by the hand and led me to a certain church. There are men to-day who have been excluded from the Nationalist party, and prevented from entering) any Legislature, not because of their lack of gifts - for, as a matter of fact, their governmental capacities have been exceptional - but they have been repulsed by electors on account of their religion. I am averse from the stirring up of any prejudices which can divide the people of Australia. We have more than enough to do to-day. The problems which are the aftermath of war are worse almost than the problems of war-time itself. Having such work before us for performance, and possessing, as we do, such a grand country with such unequalled resources, it is time we stopped these bitter differences and all pulled together in the development of our heritage.
Before concluding, I should like to quote the words of Senator Pearce at that same meeting at which Mr. Hughes spoke. He said -
The sectarian cry was a bogy that had always been brought forward to divide men when once they began to demand their rights. If the docker in Ulster once began to realize that the docker in Dublin was his brother the two might make common cause in their own interests. So the sectarian cry was raised to keep them apart. Once the workers came together sectarian bitterness would fade away, as mists before the rising sun.
I quite agree with those sentiments expressed by Senator Pearce in May, 1914. From his utterances I extract proof in support of my own argument, namely, that there are certain political parties in Australia which live, move, land have their being simply by stirring up the sectarian question. The Prime Minister has been already accused of indulging in loathsome conduct because he has endeavoured to . stir up sectarianism in order to secure political advantages. I leave the right honorable gentleman with that character. It fits him well.
– Will you repeat those words ?
– Order! I hope the honorable member will not repeat them. I take the opportunity of reminding honorable members that they are not in order in quoting reflections and opprobrious comments contained in newspapers, which expressions they would not be entitled to employ in the course of their own speeches. .
– No one can deny that a great deal of bitterness was raised in connexion with the conscription issue. Members of families who had previously been on the closest terms of friendship became estranged. Members of political parties and of various communities of interest were divided. It is well known that a very heated controversy was conducted for some time between the Prime Minister and the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. Upon a certain matter the Prime Minister was not anxious to be exposed, but he was exposed by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. Much use has been made of the name of Archbishop Mannix throughout Australia, and particularly in Victoria, and especially by the Prime Minister himself. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie considered, when the Prime Minister was going in for so much of this kind of business, that some of the right honorable gentleman’s devious methods might well be brought to light. That which he did bring to light has never been successfully denied. A kind of off-hand denial has been offered, but there has been no satisfactory proof that what the honorable member for Kalgoorlie suggested in regard to the Prime Minister was inaccurate. It is known, and cannot be denied, that the Prime Minister endeavoured to enlist the support of Dr. Mannix in regard to ‘ the conscription issue, and that he failed. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie himself admits that he was the instrument made use of by the Prime Minister to convey the proposition to the leader of the Catholic Church. If Dr. Mannix had come over to the side ot conscription, he would have been lauded as one of the greatest patriots who had ever set foot in Australia ; but because the Prime Minister could not get Dr. Mannix to support conscription, there followed all the bitterness with which honorable members are familiar. Seeing that honorable members know that there have been considerable differences of opinion between the Prime Minister and the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, they should now hesitate in regard to any construction which the Prime Minister may place upon any statement of the honorable member. What is there behind this action? This House is not in the proper mood to deal with a question of this importance. If I, or any other member of this Chamber, committed an offence against the laws of this country, there are Courts to which we could be taken and where we could be tried before our own peers. This House is far away from the temper of giving a plain, dispassionate, unbiased, and proper decision in regard to the alleged statements of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. If he is guilty of the so-called charge, the Prime Minister and those supporting him should proceed in a constitutional way. I have already quoted instances where members of the House of Commons have been expelled on’ various charges, and the honorable member has not committed one of those offences. I have also’ mentioned the case where Daniel O’Connell accused members of Parliament of being vile perjurers, and for that he was only reprimanded from the Chair. He went further in the same speech, and accused members of being midnight murderers. I, have shown- sufficient to prove that the action this Parliament is taking is unconstitutional and unjustified. Australia is big enough for me to fight or’ to attempt to legislate for, and it is utterly wrong for this Parliament in its present mood and temper to judge one of its members. It is not right for us to sit in judgment upon this man. This afternoon the Prime Minister made a strong appeal to the passions of honorable members in this Chamber, and those impassioned appeals were cheered by his supporters. Is that the . mood in which we should sit down and judge a man ? If ever I am to be tried by my peers here, I hope it will not be when honorable members who are occupying the benches on the right hand of the Speaker are in -the temper which they are in to-day, be- causeI know that even-handed justice could not be meted out under such circumstances. The game is political. It is one to gain political advantage, and the Government are going to fail ignominiously, as far as I am concerned, either as a result of this or any other similar action. I trust that as long as I believe in British fair play and justice I shall stand up for the members of this community, and see that they have a fair trial. What is happening daily in every part of the British Empire? A man who commits the vilest crime is arrested and brought before a Court, where he is entitled to have some one to defend him before a Judge and a jury. His case is heard in the calm atmosphere of the Court, where, before the jury is empanelled he has a right to challenge any individual juror who may be prejudiced against him. That is what we do for the vilest criminal on the face of God’s earth; but in this instance we are dealing with an ex-Minister of the Crown, who had two sons righting for the Empire in the recent war, who has proved an honest citizen, and a man of integrity and political ability. But, in consequence of a mere garbled statement appearing in a newspaper - which has not been substantiated - this so-called intelligent House is invited to give a verdict of expulsion.I cannot conceive of such a situation, and I marvel to think that a set of intelligent men will support such a decision, which has already been arrived at at a Caucus meeting, and on which the Prime Minister, as prosecuting counsel, has delivered such a speech. Just imagine the members of a jury applauding the prosecuting counsel - as was done this afternoon - when he drove home his points against the accused! Honorable members opposite by their actions this afternoon have shown that their minds are already made up, and that they are not in a proper state to record an unbiased and intelligent vote. What would a Judge say to the jurymen if they applauded the remarks of the prosecuting counsel ? He would say, “ You are not fit to occupy the position for which you have been selected. You had better go to your homes.” The Prime Minister is in the position of a prosecuting counsel; and during the course of his speech this afternoon, when he hurled the most bitter epithets against the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, he was cheered by honorable members supporting him. That is the jury which displays its unbiased mind.
– The honorable member is also on the jury.
– I do not want to be a member of it, and I do not intend to vote, because I do not think we are an unbiased Court. When honorable members opposite are in their , present mood, they are not fit to judge whether a man is guilty, or not. If the honorable member has broken the laws of this country, there is a proper method to adopt, and there are properlyconstituted Courts where he can : be tried. The procedure followed in the House of Commons is constitutional, and totally different from that adopted here. Before a member is expelled from the House of Commons he has to appear before the Bar of the House to explain his action,, and if he is expelled it is only by order of the House. The honorable member for Kalgoorlieis being expelled, not by the order of the House, but at the direction of the Prime Minister. I have already referred to the case of Daniel O’Connell, who referred to lnemibers of the House as being guilty of vile perjury.
– How long does the honorable member intend to go on with this repetition?
– I am merely placing the facts before honorable members.
Sitting suspended from 6.29 to 8 p.m.
– I have a vivid recollection of what happened when a reverend gentleman was brought before the Victorian Parliament some years ago for having uttered extravagant language regarding that Assembly. There was a lengthy debate on a motion for censuring him, and it is to the credit of the Labour party of the State that, although he had been one of its most bitter opponents - and he ha6 remained an opponent - it was largely because of its advocacy that he was treated as leniently as he was: This was the resolution carried in respect of the Rev. Henry Worrall -
That complaint having been made to the House of passages of an address delivered by the Rev. Henry Worrall, at the Golden Square Methodist ‘ Church, Bendigo, reflecting on members of this House, and charging them with blood guiltiness, and the said Henry Worrall having admitted that the reports in the Argus newspaper and the Bendigo independent newspaper of the 23rd July instant are substantially correct, this House declares that he is guilty of a breach of the privileges of this House, and of uttering a false and unchristian libel upon members thereof, and that he be severely censured therefor by Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Worrall being called to the Bar of the House, the Clerk read the resolution, and the Speaker then said -
Mr. Worrall, it is with deep regret that I have to carry out the direction of this Assembly; and administer a censure to you. You have heard the resolution of the House, and it is for me to say that at a time when great questions are agitating the public mind care should be taken by those to whom the public, or large sections o’f it, look for light and leading, as to the language they use in speaking to these subjects. Dignified language and wise arguments have more effect than dramatic accusations which have no foundation in fact. The reproval of Parliament is not often or lightly indicted, and I trust the admonition I now convey to you will have the effect of warning other reckless speakers to be more careful of their language in speaking of public men in their public capacity. Mr. Worrall, you may now withdraw.
Mr. Worrall then withdrew. Mr. Worrall’s offence was in imputing “ blood guiltiness “ to the Victorian Parliament in connexion with the death of a man named McLeod, who was so maltreated on the Flemington racecourse that he died. I presume that Mr. Worrall blamed the Legislature because it had failed to legislate to stop racing. There were members of the House who were in favour of imprisoning him; but, as I have said, it is to the credit of the Labour party that it saved him from that indignity.
Let me now give one or two instances of the use of extravagant language by leading public men in Great Britain, for which they have not been called to account. Sir Edward Carson, Sir Frederick Smith. Mr. Balfour, Mr. Bonar Law, Mr. Walter Long, Sir James Craig, Mr. James Campbell, Lord Curzon, and Lord Robert Cecil declared openly and repeatedly that Home Rule would be resisted by force. Arms were brought into Ulster from Germany, and there were those bold enough to assert that, if the blow fell, “ German aid would be sought and welcomed.” Here, for instance, are specific quotations. Sir Edward Carson said -
In the event of this purposed Parliament being thrust upon us, we solemnly and mutually pledge ourselves not to recognise its authority . . . I do not care twopence whether it is treason or not.
I have not heard of that man being brought before the British Parliament on a charge of having uttered treason. My perusal of the British journals and magazines has shown me that during the war greater freedom of speech and action was allowed in the Mother Country than in Australia. Men of all parties there were allowed to express, in the freest fashion, their views as to the virtues and the faults of both Allies and enemies; but, in Australia, if any one on this side of the chamber ventured the most mild reference to an Ally, or to something that had happened in the war, he was at once adjudged guilty of improper conduct. This is a. statement made by Lord Robert Cecil-
If Home Huie were persisted in, it would lead to civil war, and if he lived in Belfast, he would seriously consider whether rebellion were not better than Home Huie..
Major Crawford, of the British Army, I presume, said -
If thev were put out of the Union …. he would infinitely prefer to change his allegiance right over to the Emperor of Germany or any one else who had got a proper and stable Government.
Mr. Bonar Law, speaking in the House of Commons, said -
It is’ a fact which I do not think any one who knows anything about Ireland would deny, that these people in the north-east of Ireland, from old prejudices perhaps more than from anything else, from the whole of their past history, would prefer, I believe, to accept the Government of a foreign country rather than submit to be governed by the gentlemen below the gangway.
That was the sort of statement which was made in Great Britain when there was * considerable political agitation regarding Home Rule; when it was known that arms were being shipped to Ireland, and when Sir Edward Carson and others were raising volunteers to resist the British Government. Statements, such as I have read were made from the public platforms throughout the United Kingdom, but, beyond the replies of Ministers, no notice was taken of them. Sir Edward Carson is a lawyer, and, therefore, knew what treason meant. Yet he said that he cared not whether it was treason or not. But here persons are ready to condemn a man for that offence on the most flimsy evidence. The men whose names I have just mentioned subsequently joined the National Government of Great Britain, and some of them complained bitterly when, on the outbreak of the war, Mr. Asquith declared that he must have the Royal assent to the Home Rule Bill, the “Welsh Disestablishment Bill, and . the Parliament Bill. Bonar Law and others gave way for the time being, but now that the war is over I presume that their agitation is being resumed.
I have quoted these instances to show that the leading men in British politics have been allowed to express themselves on the platforms of the country, not only in extravagant, but even in treasonable, terms; yet when something similar is done in Australia - supposing it has been done, and I do not say that it has - action is taken. Sir Edward Carson, Mr. Balfour, Sir Robert Cecil, and the prominent parliamentarians of the Old Country will laugh when they hear of the action taken in Australia on most flimsy evidence. Most of our newspapers, like the Ministerial supporters, have burned their boats, and already declared themselves in this matter, so that had one the eloquence of Demosthenes, combined with the wisdom of Solomon, he could not alter their opinions. As for this Parliament, the die has been cast, first by the decision come to in the Ministerial party room, and, secondly, by the action of members opposite in applauding the speech of the Prime Minister, which .appealed to the worst passions in the human breast. I advise members, however they may intend to vote, and merely for their own edification, to look at some of the British journals and magazines to see what freedom of speech is allowed to British public men. If Sir Edward Carson had said in Australia that he did not care whether it was treason or not, our Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) would have had him incarcerated ; but statements like that can be made in London, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester, Liverpool, and the other bie cities of the United Kingdom without interference. I am glad to know that the speeches of the leading men of Great Britain are reported verbatim by the British newspapers, whatever the political views of those papers may be. and published far and wide for the education of the people, a benefit which is denied to our people by the one-sided press of this country. Probably our Prime Minister, speaking in private, would say that he believed Sir Edward Carson to be one of the most loyal men of the Empire; yet this gentleman has publicly preached treason to the Empire, and others have done tha same. I admit that it was before the war. Some British public men have said that they would sooner have the German Emperor than the present King if the Royal assent was to be given to the Home Rule Bill.
But, as I. have said, members opposite have already come to their determination, and the press has done the same, all its leading articles being in the one direction. I would not care, however, if the influence of the press were fifty times as great as it is, and the number of the newspapers fifty times as large, and if the most drastic articles were published in respect of what I might say, I would still contend for the right of a man to be tried by a Court of his peers, not by biased individuals whose minds are made up in advance.
– A packed jury.
– Yes, a packed jury, and a jury that was applauding the prosecuting counsel this afternoon. If that were done by a jury in any Court of the realm, the members of that jury would be dismissed to their homes by the presiding Judge. This jury, when the most bitter and spiteful words ‘were being uttered by the prosecuting counsel in this case, were loudest in their applause of the sentiments given utterance to. This is the Court that is to try a human being. I repeat that if I were in the same position as the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, I should say from’ my place in this House, “ Let me go before the Courts of the country. If I have violated the law of the country, let me be tried by an unbiased Court.” In saying so I believe that I should be making a demand that would meet with a response from all right-thinking men in this House, on whichever side of the chamber they may sit. What I would ask for myself I am now asking for one of my fellow members. I ask that this House should pause before it passes the motion submitted by the Prime Minister. It would be far better for honorable members to agree to the amendment proposed by the Leader of the Opposition than to do what they are asked to do by the motion. Let the press say what it likes. I admit that the press has a certain amount of influence, but, so far as I am concerned, I shall not, because of that influence, turn a hair’s breadth from the course indicated by my utterances here, and I am prepared to make the same statement from the public platform, whatever the consequences.
– Mr. Speaker -
– I rise to a point of order. I wish to know, sir, whether, if you call on the Prime Minister, his speech will close the debate.
– The Prime Minister mentioned to me some time ago his desire to speak at this stage. I informed him that so long as he confined his remarks to the amendment, and did not touch upon the motion, he might do so without closing the debate. If the right honorable gentleman speaks to the motion he will close the debate; but so long as he confines himself to the amendment he will be in order, and his speech will not close the debate.
– Will the honorable gentleman still have the right of reply to the debate?
– Yes ; if he confines himself now to the amendment.
– There are one or two things which were said by the honorable ‘ member for Yarra (Mr. Tudor), and to which, since he spoke, honorable members opposite have been mainly directing their remarks, that I should like to reply to at this stage. In effect, the honorable gentleman says by his amendment that this is not a proper tribunal to try this case. He says that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Mahon), should be tried by the Courts of this country. He says that this is a prejudiced and biased Court, that we have no evidence, and that the person who is charged is not present. Shortly put, these are the principal points which the honorable member for Yarra has stressed. He dwelt for some time on the fact that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie had not admitted the charge, and that newspaper reports are unreliable. He said that I had advanced no evidence although I had said that I had some evidence. In short, he urges that we should remove this case to another Court. In effect, that is what he says. Let me deal with his arguments.
I wish honorable members to look at the charge and at the course which it is suggested by the motion that this House should pursue in regard to it. The hon orable member for Kalgoorlie is charged with violating his oath of allegiance.
– No, he is not.
– He is charged with violating the oath of allegiance which he took at this table as a member of this Parliament. In what Court could such an offence be tried ?
– I rise to a point of order, though I am very reluctant to do so. I ask whether the Prime Minister is not now dealing with the motion, and not with the amendment.
– No, I am not dealing with the motion.
– I wish to put the matter quite fairly. I suggest that the right honorable gentleman is dealing with the motion when he refers to what the honorable member for Kalgoorlie is charged with. I do not want the debate on the motion to be closed to honorable members who have not yet spoken.
– I have been following the Prime Minister very closely, and, so far, I cannot see that he has departed from the terms of the amendment. Honorable members will recognise that the amendment is very wide in ils scope, and it is very difficult to draw a fine line of demarcation between what is strictly relevant to the amendment and what may impinge upon the motion itself. The Prime Minister, with his legal experience, is better fitted to decide a point of that sort than I am ; but, so far as I have been able to follow the right honorable gentleman up to the present, his remarks have been strictly relevant tj the amendment.
– I do not mind, only I do not want other speakers to be shut out.
– Others speakers will not be shut out at all.
– I take another point bf order. The Prime Minister has just made a statement that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie is charged with breaking his oath of allegiance. There is no such charge against the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. He finds his position weak, and . seeks to widen his charges.
– Reference to his oath of allegiance is embodied in the motion.
– There is no such charge in the motion.
– Yes, there is.
– The right honorable gentleman is not prepared to read out the motion.
– Does the honorable member wish to split straws ? I am charging the honorable member for Kalgoorlie in the motion, and by my speech, with violating hie oath.
– The right honorable gentleman has not charged him wifih it in the motion.
– Order ! I ask the honorable member for Ccok not to further interrupt.
– On the question whether this Parliament is not a proper Court to hear this case, I ask, What is the penalty which it is proposed to inflict on the honorable member for Kalgoorlie? Is it one that any Court in this country could impose? Not at all. No Court in this country can say that the honorable member for Cook or the honorable member for Bendigo shall be excluded from this Parliament.
– Yes, it could.
– That might be said if an honorable member became bankrupt, or incurred some other disqualification set out in the Constitution. But with this charge , no Court could deal. So much is quite clear. But this Parliament is able to decide upon what terms an honorable member shall remain here. And only this Parliament can do so. I venture to assert that there are no limits to the power of Parliament in deciding who is to continue to enjoy the privilege of its membership. The honorable member for Yarra has stated that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie should be charged with sedition in a Court. He is being charged here with having said something, and done something, which reflects upon the honour and dignity of this Parliament, and which the majority of the members of this Parliament so strongly resent that they will not sit with him; he is charged with conduct inconsistent with his oath of allegiance. That is the position. What he has done directly affects this Parliament and the honorable member as a member. This is the proper Court to hear this case.
The honorable member for Yarra argues that thereis no evidence, and points out that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie is not here. I must remind the honorable gentleman that on Tuesday I put the question to the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, “Do you admit that the report
I have read is correct?” He neither affirmed nor denied its accuracy, but told me in so many words “ to go to the . devil.” What other course is left for me but the course I have taken ? If the honorable member had said, “ I did not use those words,” the onus would clearly be upon us to prove that he did.
– It is upon you anyhow.
– But he made no effort whatever to clear himself. He said, “ Mv conduct outside this House does not concern the House at all.”
– The honorable member did not say that.
– Order ! I have several times this afternoon called attention to the necessity, particularly on occasions of this kind, of allowing every honorable member to be heard in silence. One interjection leads to another, and if the practice of interjecting were allowed to continue, our proceedings would very soon become discreditable to the House. I again express the hope that honorable members will restrain themselves, and will cease interjecting, without obliging me to take extreme measures to insure the observance of order.
– Had the honorable member for Kalgoorlie been here he could have helped the House a very great deal. He could have assured us, for example, that the words which he is charged with using he did not use, or that he had used other words somewhere else in his speech which completely altered the meaning of those words. He is not here. He was invited to come here. One honorable member said that he should have been summoned by the House to come here. That is a suggestion as belated as it is irrelevant. If, yesterday, when I complained that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie had not attended in his place, although requested by me to do so, the honorable member had said, “ Well, let us summons him by call of the House,” we could have accepted his advice and done so, but the honorable member did not give us such advice, yet comes now belatedly with this suggestion when we are treated contemptuously, for the second time, by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, and when that honorable member has stated in effect that he, the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, will not attorn to the jurisdiction of this House. He will not submit himself as a member of this House when his fellow members ask him to come here. Does he deny that they have asked him to come? I must express my surprise in the circumstances that he is not here.
It is said that the words he is reported to have used were not used, and the only evidence that they were is the evidence of the report in the Argus newspaper. The honorable member for Yarra, quoting my own authority, said that newspapers are not always very reliable. No doubt that is true. It is a serious thing to charge a man with having said these things and to have no corroborative evidence other than that of the press. Earlier in the day I stated that I had some affidavits. I was not then in a position to use them, not having the authority of those who had made them. I have that authority now. I propose to put those affidavits in, and they will speak for themselves. This is the affidavit of R. M. Carrington, representative of the Age, in which these words did not appear : -
I, Reginald Nelson Carrington, of 233 Collinsstreet. Melbourne, do solemnly and sincerely declare: -
I was present at the meeting in Richmond Reserve on Sunday afternoon last, and was near the platform, and took notes of the speeches.
The following is an extract from ray notes of the speech of the Honorable Hugh Mahon, and is substantially accurate: -
They had met to express sympathy with the widow and family of the late Lord Mayor of Cork, irreproachable in his domestic and private life. And what sort of a Government was it that had placed in a felon’s cell a man of such attainments? The worst rule of the damnable Czars was never more infamous. The sobs of the widow on the coffin would one day shake the foundations of this bloody and accursed Empire.
Voice. - Hit them hard.
Mr. Mahon said he had been approached the other day by a vinegar-faced wowser, who said the police were shot in the back. There were no police. They were spies, informers, and cut-throats - the offscourings of the English cities. (Boo-hoos.) The black-and-tans were ex-gaol birds. If he ever met a ‘man who had sent one of these to his doom, he would gladly shake his hand. Their souls were probably in hell; and he hoped their bodies would be sent to England, so that the sweet pastures of Ireland would not be poisoned by their carrion clay.
And I make this solemn declaration, &c. (Sgd.) R. M. Carrington.
Declared at Melbourne this eleventh day of November, 1920, before me, (Sgd.) R. R. Garran,
Commissioner for Declarations.
– Has the right honorable gentleman a copy of the reporter’s notes ?
– I shall give the honorable gentleman some notes in a minute. Now I give three affidavits of three representatives of the Argus -
I, Charles Patrick Smith, of 197 Collinsstreet, Melbourne, journalist, do solemnly and sincerely declare - 1.I am acquainted with E. J. Kelly, the reporter who took the note from which the, report in last Monday’s Argus of the meeting on Sunday in Richmond Reserve was transcribed.
The said F. J. Kelly informed me that the said note was an accurate reportof what the Honorable Hugh Mahon said at the said meeting, and that the report in the Argus was an accurate transcription from the said note.
And I make this solemn . declaration, &c,
Declared at Melbourne this tenth day of November, 1920, before me -
Commissioner for Declarations.
I, AlbertLachlan Brient, of 197 Collinsstreet, Melbourne, journalist, do solemnly and sincerely declare -
And I make this solemn declaration, &c.
Declared at . Melbourne this tenth day of November, 1920, before me -
Commissioner for Declarations.
I, Frederick George Sampson, of 197 Collins- street, Melbourne, journalist, do solemnly and sincerely declare -
And I make this solemn declaration, &c.
Declared at Melbourne this tenth day of November, 1920, before me -
Commissioner for Declarations.
Honorable Members. - We want Kelly.
– The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) has asked me for some notes. Let me now give him some. I have a statutory declaration by Charles P. Smith as follows : -
I, Charles P. Smith, of 41Narong-road, Caulfield, do solemnly and sincerely declare -
The sheets marked 2 to 20 annexed hereto and written in ink, are in the handwriting of F. J. Kelly, and are the notes of the report of the meeting on Sunday last in the Richmond Reserve; which were handed in by him at the Argus office on Sunday evening.
The heading, erasures, and corrections in black and red pencil are those of the editorial staff.
And I make this solemn declaration, &c. (Sgd.) Chas. P. Smith.
Declared at Melbourne this 11th day of November, 1920. before me - (Sgd.) M. C. Boniwell,
Commissioner for Declarations.
This is the actual report taken by F. J.
– Where is Kelly ?
– It is useless to try to hide Kelly. seeing that his handwriting is in evidence.
– These are the words that we have been quoting -
Never in Russia under the worst ruler of the damnable Czars had there been such an infamous murder as that of the late Alderman McSwiney. They were told in the papers that Alderman McSwiney’s poor widow sobbed over his coffin. If there was a just God in Heaven that sob would roach round the world, and one day would shake the foundations of this bloody and accursed Empire. (Loud applause.)
The other day he was reproached by a vinegar-faced wowser, who said that the police in Ireland were being shot in the back. If they were shot in the back it must be because they were running away. But there were no police in Ireland. They were spies, informers, and bloody cut-throats. ( Applause) . He read with delight that some of these murdering thugs had been sent to their account, and he trusted that Ireland would not be profaned by their carcasses. (Applause.) Their souls were “probably in hell, and their bodies should be sent to England. (Applause.) He would not have the sweet pastures of Ireland poisoned by their carrion clay. (Applause)
There is the report in the reporter’s own handwriting which appeared in the Argus. It was taken at the meeting by Mr. Kelly, who reports all Irish functions for the Argus, although he is, I believe, on the staff of the Advocate. When the honorable member for Kalgoorlie was confronted with the Argus report, and I asked him whether it was accurate, he would not reply, but treated the House with contempt. In fact, he said it was no business of the House. In his letter to me he does not deny, in so many words, that he made use of this language, but would have us believe that he did not do so. If honorable members will get the Advocate and the Tribune they will see that these words do not appear. The Advocate should have been published to-day at noon. It was not published until 3.30 p.m. Why? I have in my hands the report of what Mr. Mahon said as taken by F. J. Kelly, the same reporter who supplied the report to the Advocate. It is in. his own handwriting, so that there is ample evidence before this Court on which to try the honorable gentleman. And this is the Court to try him. When the honorable member was asked the other day whether the report in the Argus was substantially correct he declined to answer, and told me to go to the devil. To-day, on being asked to appear here, he declines to appear. There has been much special pleading this afternoon, but no one has had the hardihood to defend these words. There is abundant proof that they were spoken ; and why has not this man who said these words, which it is useless to deny, had the courage to be in his place ?
.- The right honorable gentleman (Mr. Hughes) can congratulate himself, at all events, on having made a somewhat unpleasant subject fairly amusing by his latest contribution to the debate. The first remark I have to make is that the publication which he said was not issued until 3.30 p.m. to-day has been in my pocket since yesterday. I replace it there now. So much for the credibility of the right honorable gentleman upon that simple fact. It includes, not only the report of the speech of the gentleman in respect to whose expulsion a motion has been moved, but also a report of my own speech which some of my friends have been good enough to tell me was very good.
The motion before the House is -
That, in the opinion of this House, the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, the Honorable Hugh Mahon, having, by seditious and disloyal utterances at a public meeting on Sunday last, been guilty of conduct unfitting him to rema’n a memberof this House, and inconsistent with the oath of allegiance which he has taken as a member of this House, be expelled this House.
To this my friend, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) has moved an amendment -
That after the word “That” the following words be inserted : - “ this House, whilst being opposed to all sedition and disloyalty, and the subversion of constitutional means for the redress of grievances, is of opinion that the allegations made against the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, the Honorable Hugh Mahon, should not be dealt with by this House, for the following reasons: -
This is not the first occasion in the history of Dominion Parliaments that a motion has been moved for the expulsion of an honorable member for alleged disloyal utterances or alleged disloyal conduct, outside of Parliament. It is not the first time that an honorable member has been prosecuted outside this House for the same reason. But if the right honorable gentleman were concerned with fact, which he is not, or with history, of which he is apparently ignorant, he would know that upon every occasion on which these mean attempts have been made to limit the right of a member to indulge in the freest discussion of public questions, either by the arbitrary method of a vote in Parliament or by improperly invoking the law of the land, the people have indorsed the conduct of the member concerned, and have humiliated the man who was responsible for such action. It is not very long ago since a motion was moved for the expulsion from the State Parliament of the then member for Melbourne (Mr. Findley). He was expelled with every circumstance of ignominy for a cause similar in character to that which is involved in this trumped-up charge against the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. The State House, upon the principle that might is right, expelled him. He remained outside of Parliament until an opportunity was given him to make an appeal to the wider and juster tribunal ofthe people of Australia, when he was returned to the Senate at the top of the poll, his conduct indorsed and character cleared by the electors.
– And he afterwards sat in the same Cabinet with the Prime Minister.
– I can hardly blame him for that, though he might have clone better. At least, I should have thought that he would have been more careful of his company. If we take the trouble to go a little farther back in history, we shall find, in the earlier records of the British Parliament, how that Parliament attempted to stifle free speech in exactly the same way, with the result that men who were turned out of it were again and again returned to it, indorsed by an outside plebiscite. This Government, and the placid gentlemen who sit behind them, have the might to expel the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, and they will exercise that might.
– Hear, hear!
– I will not accuse them - and I will not accuse the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell). who alternately titters and jibes - of having the courage to get upin this House and state their views. But I am satisfied that, having expressed their opinions in the star chamber upstairs, honorable members opposite have arrived at a determination to which they will give effect, silently, it may be, but effectively.
– They decided the question before the Prime Minister was in possession of any affidavits.
– Oh, yes. The decision was arrived at before the Government had got over the difficult matter of Mr. Kelly and his notes - the absent Mr. Kelly, and the hearsay evidence of others.
There is in this Parliament undoubted power to expel an honorable member. Like other British Par- liaments, it is master of its own membership, the guardian of its own honour, and the controller of the conduct of its members. That I do not deny. It is not open to question. But I do assert with some confidence, consistently with the terms of the amendment which we are now considering, that where the head of a Government takes the responsibility from his place in Parliament of affirming that he has definite evidence of a criminal character against a man, his undoubted duty is to put that man upon trial before a properlyconstituted legal tribunal. Of course, the right honorable gentleman may yet do that. I say so because I- believe that the Government are equal to first prejudicing the trial of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie by a public discussion in this House, and then placing him upon trial before a jury. If the Prime Minister does that he will be merely repeating what he did when he violated his oath, and abused his position, by prejudicing the trial, in Sydney, of those unfortunate men who were convicted largely because he inflamed public opinion against them whilst they were awaiting their trial. If such a charge is definitely made by the right honorable gentleman it should be heard and determined by the Court. This matter has its aspect of humour, as well as its aspect of tragedy. An effort has been made by the Government to prove its case against the honorable member for Kalgoorlie out of the mouth of that honorable member. Few things have been more entertaining than the frantic efforts of the Prime Minister to persuade the honorable member to come here in order that he might, if possible, be convicted out of his own mouth. “ “Why,” said the right honorable gentleman, “ I sent my secretary, I sent my messenger, and I sent my State motor car” - God knows he has enough cars running at the public expense - “ to bring him in, and yet he is still gathering apples at Ringwood, and taking no notice of me.” But when he was here what did the honorable member for Kalgoorlie do? He said, in effect, “ I am responsible to this House for my conduct in the House, and I am responsible to the law and public opinion for my conduct outside of it. For the rest “ - referring to the right honorable gentleman, who sought to interrogate him, and to make a case against him - “ You may go t,o the devil.’’ Then he walked out of this Chamber, leaving the gentleman who had entered it as the upholder and defender of the Empire about as dignified as a wet hen on a rainy day. The next day the Prime Minister came in, cast his eye at the Opposition bench, and found that the seat of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie was vacant. Then taking to himself new heart of courage he said, “ I ask leave to make a statement.” Now it is a matter of courtesy, on the part of the House, to grant leave to any honorable member to make a statement. It is very seldom that an honorable member abuses that courtesy, and happily it is more seldom still that a member of a Government abuses it by taking advantage of it to make insulting references to an honorable member who is absent. Neither this House nor the country is unfamiliar with the procedure adopted by the present Government of placing men upon trial and pronouncing judgment against them, without evidence being called. We had a good deal of experience of that sort during the war. We have not forgotten the War Precautious Act, the trials of honorable members who sit upon this side of the Chamber, and the shameful misuse, by the Government, of the laws of the land for political purposes. No honorable member sitting behind them can escape the shame and disgrace of those things. We have not forgotten them; and, therefore, it was not surprising that the Prime Minister should enter the Chamber and say to the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, “We propose to expel you. What can you tell us about the offence with which we are anxious to charge you ? We will not sitwith you. What did you do, and when did you do it? Did you say so-and-so, and what did you say?” In reply, the honorable mem’ber for Kalgoorlie said, “Go to the devil,” and marched out of the House. So this distinguished protagonist of the Empire and its honour came along to-day and said to the people of Australia, “We will not sit with the honorable member. What need is there for witnesses? We need not call them. We will deal with him. . I will move :i motion, confident in the knowledge of the decision arrived at in caucus by my own party, and also in the assurance that, in this matter, the Country party ar« with me.’’ If they were not with the right honorable gentleman the Empire might go where he himself was told to go, rather than that he should risk losing his place in this Chamber. Did the Prime Minister ever risk a shilling for honour’s sake? Did he ever risk anything that he held dear for the sake of patriotism, or country, or Empire? He has sold them all for what they would fetch.
This afternoon, finding himself in the unhappy position of having no criminal willing to convict himself, the Prime Minister began to shuffle about at the table, and finally said, “ Oh, here is the Argus report.” He did not know that the Leader of . the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) was so soon to follow him with the right honorable gentleman’s own judgment upon the reliability of an Argus report. So he read that report with confidence. It was the only thing that he had, and when the honorable member for Yarra had replied to him, he had nothing. But- he still groped for them .and said, “ Oh, I have three affidavits here.” He fumbled them very uncomfortably, looked first upon one side of them, and then upon the other. Again he said, “ I have three affidavits here.” An honorable member interjected, “Whose affidavits? What do they say? Read them.” “ Oh, no,” replied the Prime Minister, “one of them says so-and-so, and the other something else.” “Read them,” “ Give us the names and particulars. contained in them, produce your witnesses “ came in a chorus of voices, and the affidavits disappeared under the table. That was the last we saw of them Until the right honorable gentleman had had time to ponder over them for three hours, to amend them, to improve them, and to strengthen and embellish them for their re-appearance here to-night.
– He felt that he had to re-state his case.
– But, after all, they were good enough for him, because his plan was part of the secret service methods which have been adopted by the Government, part of the methods by which they incarcerated innocent men for- three or four years during the war, and by which they robbed men alike of their reputations and their liberty, without giving them a chance to face their accusers, or to examine the witnesses upon whose perjured evidence they were convicted. The right -honorable gentleman, therefore, did not get into a new groove of political misfeasance, but merely pursued the same tortuous methods which have so discredited his Government.
This charge has been made - some sort of charge, at all events, has been made - against the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. True, there is no evidence; but there the charge is, serious and grave enough.
– It is not a charge; it is a motion.
– It is a motion, but, without using technicalities, it may be taken that it does involve a charge. It is stated that the honorable member said strong things at Richmond. For what the honorable member said at Richmond he, of course, like every other citizen, must take the responsibility. From my knowledge of him, I think he has the courage and ability to face the responsibility. Honorable members who try to, do with me as they tried with futility to do with the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Tudor) - to prove their case from me, as they tried to prove their case from him - .will find themselves in sad difficulties. Let me assure them they have no “change” to get from the fact that I was at the meeting, and that I spoke there, either as to what I know or do not know. Their case remains with all its rottenness and weakness, and it gets no assistance whatever from me. They have made their charge, and they must stand by it before the tribunal of the electors of Kalgoorlie. But this much I know and will tell the House. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie spoke at Richmond in a spirit of burning indignation against the persistent series of outrages being committed in Ireland with the connivance and authority of the British Government. Unlike me, the honorable member was born in Ireland - he is an Irishman. I am an Australian, and my first and main interest is Australia. But I have spoken with some heat and with some earnestness in this House in view of a gross wrong being perpetrated by this Government on people of an alien nation with which I have no connexion, and in which I have no interest - the
Italian people. I would think myself recreant to my trust as a member of this House if I did not fearlessly express my opinion when I saw any nation, or any part of a nation, being unfairly treated, and men grossly wronged, by any part of the Empire, remembering that this Dominion is a part. “While that is true of foreign nations in which I have no interest at all, I am free to admit that it applies with much greater strength to the country and race from which I draw my blood - one of the oldest and most honoured nations in the world, and which has embellished the statesmanship of every country in the world.
We speak of self-determination for small nations, and we spoke of it a great, deal during the war. Self-determination was the talisman at the Peace Conference, at which this man - this right honorable gentleman, with petty mind - attended, and discoursed in company with men of greater minds. Selfdetermination ! For that principle of selfdetermination we fought a. war of five years. We made poor men poorer and rich men richer For that principle of selfdetermination we dragged hundreds of thousands of Britishers from their homes” under the odious policy of conscription, and made them fight. For that principle of self-determination we applied war measures in this country which enabled the Prime Minister to send his minions into the homes of the people, drag out the young men, and send them into concentration camps. For that principle of selfdetermination he would have forced those young men across the seas if it had not been that the outraged people rose in their might, and threw the proposal back in his face, reminding him that, voluntarily, 400,000 men had gone across the sea to fight for it; and for self determination we have left 60,000 precious dead on foreign battle-fields.” To-day, when the war is all over, the Prime Minister’s excuse and answer is, “ Oh, what of it? What is self-determination after all? Look at America; consider the greatest war that was ever fought, up to the great world’s war of 1914 - the Civil War. The southern States attempted to dissociate themselves from the northern, and a bloody war was fought in consequence.” Yes, a bloody war was fought; but there are some points nf distinction between the American Civil War, with the claim. of the southern States, and the claim of Ireland for self-determination. One point of distinction is that the States of the United States of America were governed under equal’ laws, and geographically and logically were one people. Another point of distinction is that that war was fought, not for the self-determination of the South, but to -crush the spirit of slavery which the Prime Minister and his friends have done their best to keep alive in this and other countries. That was the object ot the American Civil War. But there is still another vital point of distinction between that case - the same distinction applies in the case of the Australian States which the honorable member cited - and the relative positions of England and Ireland. He said that we would not tolerate the secession of any one of the Australian States; and probably we would not. But the vital distinction is that the union between England and Ireland was consummated by fraud, and has been maintained ever since by force. If honorable mem-bers opposite think the phrase too strong - if they should contemplate the possibility of a motion of expulsion against me for having used it - I remind them that it was used by the greatest of all Englishstatesmen, William Ewart.Gladstone For my part, whatever some may say, and whatever I say about Ireland and Britain, I shall never be sufficiently .grateful to that long and distinguished line of British statesmen who, in scorchinglanguage, have condemned, month after month, and year after year, the odious and gross ill-treatment of Ireland at the hands of the British Government.
The Prime Minister stood at the table to-day and told us that Mr. Lloyd George says there is war in Ireland. Yes, there is war in Ireland. Honorable members know that I have never been either a promoter of, or an apologist for, a policy of bloodshed. No honorable member can rightly accuse me of viewing with satisfaction a condition of prolonged war in Ireland. There is war in Ireland ; but it is, unhappily, only too true that it is a war which is being carried on without the observance of the principle of civilized warfare. The Prime Minister says, “ As for us, we are an essential part of the British Empire.” We are; and as we are an essential part of the British Empire, surely it is perfectly clear that it is not only our privilege, but our bounden duty, to protest, in the strongest terms, against the policy which makes it possible for the British Government .to wage war in Ireland without the restraints or restrictions which are imposed on civilized nations in time of war.
Now,., it is interesting to note that the methods of this Government in dealing with the honorable member for Kalgoorlie are closely akin, in system and sentiment, to the policy pursued by the British Government in Ireland. Here, as there, evidence is not needed. Here, as there, it is sufficient to be a suspect; but, if one is a suspect in Ireland, the military come into your house. They knock at the door, not with knuckles, but with crowbars; they throw down your property; they do not wait until your wife is able to put on her clothes in the dead of night, when called out of bed, but, insolently declaring that they cannot wait, make search in the most private apartments of your dwelling. That is the kind* of thing that is going on in Ireland to-day.
Perhaps honorable members would like the benefit of one passage from my speech at Richmond on Sunday last. I quoted the phrase, “ For every police- barracks a creamery.” I first saw that phrase in a newspaper - in the faultless, reliable, and unimpeachable morning press, and I thank the press for it. For the destruction of an emblem of the forceful and forcible occupation of Ireland by an invading army, let there be destroyed an emblem of the peaceful industrialism of the Irish people. The analogy may be pressed a little further, as applied to the so-called policemen - those ex-Service men whom it is found impossible to place in employment in England, the regular police-officers in Ireland having long since handed in their jackets. For every one of those who, having broken up a sports gathering, interfered with a peaceful domestic meeting, made forcible entry into an educational gathering of Irish -students - for every one of those who, having made himself a spy and public nuisance, having violated every principle of British justice in Ireland, for every one of those who falls by the bullet of some representative of an outraged people - and I do not excuse or condone bloodshed - let there be a woman shot in the garden nursing her baby, as we read on good authority not so long ago ; for every such man who falls, let some old man be taken from his house in the dead of night, when saying his prayers amongst his family, and shot in the dark out in the street, in. order that full justice may be done. Let the policy of reprisals go on. Solomon’s- justice will prevail, and the eternal spirit of British justice running through Ireland will so permeate the people of that country and of the whole Empire that the right honorable gentleman will have no difficulty in carrying such a motion as that against the honorable member for Kalgoorlie to-night. Of course, the right honorable gentleman says, “I have done something for Ireland.” He did. Let us give him credit for anything he did for Ireland. Let us give him credit for every eloquent speech he made in Ireland’s cause; full measure of credit for it and for them. I do, at all events. It is the more deplorable that to-day he unsays everything he then said, and sits to-night .with Ireland’s persistent enemies, relying upon their votes to carry this motion against the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. He is shocked at the policy of revolution. Has he forgotten the time, if I may descend from the sublime to the ridiculous, when he purchased a secondhand cannon in Sydney for the purpose of working out the regeneration of this country by a process of bloody revolution? The cannon, it is true, has since been sold to his friends of the base metal industry. He has got rid of it, and we congratulate him upon departing from those forcible methods of reform. But, after all, is there no hope also for* the honorable member for Kalgoorlie? He, too, may come back some day and take his place as the first of patriots, to draw not only the emoluments to which he will be entitled as the first patriot, but also gathering up, as the right honorable gentleman has, whatever may be due to him as the first revolutionary.
I shall not burden the House with a long series of quotations. In that regard I refer honorable members to the excellent symposium compiled by the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine), and to the speeches of other honorable members with the same purpose, all setting out the testimony of men, not Sinn Feiners, not I.W.W.’s, not red revolutionaries, but representative statesmen in England, as to the condition of affairs prevailing in Ireland. What more scorching thing was ever said, what sterner indictment was ever made against a Government than that made by Mr. H. H. Asquith, late Prime Minister of England, beyond all question one -of the greatest men of our times in Great Britain, at all events - what more scorching indictment could be made against a Government than that which he made when he spoke of the hellish reprisals that were going on in Ireland, and declared that, for a parallel to what was happening there, one had to look to the conditions prevailing in Belgium during the German occupation? The honorable member for. Barrier has quoted, as I have quoted in other places, Lord Cecil, Viscount Grey, and that long list from the Labour party and every other party in Great Britain, united in their condemnation of the policy of England in regard to Ireland. I shall quote only one authority, that of Mr. Erskine Childers. His rank, I think, is that of colonel in the British Army. He is a distinguished man, the son of a distinguished father who visited this country some years ago. No Sinn Feiner this, or, to use the pleasant aphorism of the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Marr), no “cold-footer” this. Whatever distinction he has, he won by at least equal merit to that of the distinguished member for Parkes. Mr. Childers writes with an intimate knowledge of Irish affairs, gained from personal observation and unimpeachable testimony. He has contributed a series of articles to the Daily News’ in England. It is a wonder, when I mention the Baily News, that my honorable friends on the other side do not chuckle and laugh, because whenever you mention a paper in Great Britain which is of any less Tory standing than the Morning Post, they usually chuckle as if one were quoting from some nondescript print of no account whatever in the Old Country. The Daily News is, of course, one of the greatest Liberal papers in England. It has probably an even greater circulation, and is a more popular paper, than the Nation, which was quoted a little while ago by the Leader of the Opposition, or by some other honorable member. Mr. Childers has contributed a series of letters to the Daily News, and these are divided under certain heads, such as “ Military Rule in Ireland: Its Purpose and Methods.” To quote one passage - ‘
Such is the master to he served. What of the service? Broadly speaking, the Army must go where the police go, and do what the police do (with certain sombre contingent responsibilities in the background, where the police sink into insignificance). Tor in Ireland the centralized armed constabulary, miscalled the “ police,” instead of protecting the civil population, have to be protected from them, so tyrannical and provocative are the duties which these unhappy but courageous officers of the law are forced by the Castle to perform. So the soldiers - their comrades in ignominy - must scour cities, villages, and country districts in lorries, tanks, or armoured cars, on a constant round of suppressions and raids, raids and suppressions. They must suppress every conceivable kind of meeting, political and social gatherings, fairs, concerts, sports, language classes, newspapers, printing plants; they must even hunt from pillar to post a non-party economic commission, because it is organized by a republican: they must even help to kidnap children at the school door, and turn back with a bayonet old women coming to market their fowls.
The writer concludes the articles with these words -
I send with this one word of warning to the English readers of the Daily News. This Irish war, small as it may seem now, will, if it is persisted in, corrupt, and eventually ruin, not only your Army, but your nation, and your Empire itself. What right has England to torment and demoralize Ireland? It is a shameful course, and the more shameful in that she professes to have fought five years for; the liberty of oppressed nations. But her own oppression of the Irish nation will react disastrously upon herself. The reaction has begun’.
I shall make- one quotation ‘from what appears under the headings, “ What it Means to Women,” “ A Raid and its Effects.” Here let me say that I am now speaking of a time prior to these so-called reprisals, which have been the special feature of the last few months. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Prowse) this afternoon, by interjection, asked, “Who began the shooting?” I honestly believe that the honorable member, in his comparative innocence, and, shall I say, honesty, really thinks that up to the time the recent reprisals began in such a specially outrageous manner, placid policemen on their beats - pursuing the ordinary” duties of the police service, as a man might- do out here in Bourke or Collins street - have been systematically and periodically shot down in cold blood with out provocation by the Sinn Fein marauders who are seeking by force to fasten their will upon Ireland and Great Britain, and disrupt the whole Empire. I really believe the honorable member thinks that ; but the truth is that this series . of outrages to which I am now referring is part of that gross policy of provocations, and spyings and trespasses upon the persons, and upon the houses of the people which preceded altogether this recent outcrop of so-called reprisals. Here is an illustration from Mr. Childers’ letter: -
The usual thunder of knocks was followed by a demand in foul language for entry.
This was at 3.30 a.m. on 31st January last, for Mr. Childers gives dates, places, and times, and invites the British Government to answer his charges -
Mr. Collins runs down in time to save his door, and is arrested on the spot. In the ensuing search, the officer insists on examining the bedroom of Mrs. Collins, who has jumped out of bed in a state of nervous terror. He is sorry, he says, but it is his duty. Her husband is carried off to gaol under 145 - the lettre de cachet section of the Defence of the Realm Act - and eleven days later is deported suddenly to England.
The lettre de cachet section will remind honorable members that we have in Ireland a brilliant recrudescence of media.valism -
At the news she collapses, is prematurely confined, and becomes dangerously ill. The fact being verified by the authorities, he is allowed home on parole for three weeks, due to expire on 5th March.
Under the heading “ Another Young Mother’s Ordeal,” the following is given : -
His” young wife, aloni in the house with three little children,, is roused by knocking on the night of 27th February last, runs down in her nightdress, asks permission to dress, and gels- for ansWer. “ Damn you, open, or we’ll smash it in.” In they rush, sweeping her aside, bayonets at the charge. An agonizing time follows. One soldier is drunk, and uses foul language. In spite of passionate supplications to be allowed to go to her children, she is kept apart under guard while their rooms are searched, and the search throughout is conducted with a roughness and insolence worthy of veritable Huns. Nothing is found. No apology. This is not civilized war.
Then follows a long list of detailed cases, with dates, and times, and places, showing how these men, the class of man who have been sent to do- this work”, having made these outrageous entries without provocation, without evidence, and without charge, being in these houses, have used the .opportunity to despoil and loot the premises which they were sent to search for incriminating evidence. I am not making these charges now. I am relying on this distinguished officer of the British Army, the distinguished son of a distinguished father. He says in one place - i
I wish I could quote in full Miss Hickey’s account of the scene; of the revolver covering her when the raiders entered ; of the exhaustive search for four hours - floors torn up, garden dug up - of her cross-examination, grotesque if it were not scandalously insulting; of the reading of private letters; and of the tale of plunder when the party at last decamped, leaving her faint with fatigue and cold - £3 Gs. in cash, a ring, a bangle, and a chain, all of gold, a dinner knife, six collars, and tobacco mid cigarettes, a bottle of whisky, and some cheese and apples, “ consumed on the premises.”
Under the heading of “ Pillage, Sabotage, and Terror,” he writes -
If to accomplish this you force your police to act as armed spies upon their fellow citizens, and your Army to act as a political police; if you give them these abhorrent tasks, and train them to regard any man, woman, or child as. a person they can search or kidnap on suspicion only, and .every dwelling as enemy territory they can ransack at pleasure; if you do these things, you declare war and create war; and not only war, but horrible vendettas; reprisals against your agents, and counter reprisals by your agents; a war in which, as the statistics prove,, the people suffer most.
He then goes on to describe the terror in Cork and Thurles, and refers to a new phase - ‘
Bombs were freely used, houses burst into, and furniture knocked about,, and - a new feature - volleys were fired promiscuously into bedroom and other windows. There was a curious pause at 12.5 a.m., and another outburst from 1.15 to 1.40. Though Thurles has a large garrison, no effort’ was made to check the riot, which would have led to great loss of life if the terrified inhabitants had not hidden in cellars and outhouses. Here, again, there is no dispute about the facts.
Thurles is one of the places in which I have good reason to have special interest, and it would be strange, indeed, if I spoke without feeling in regard to incidents of this kind taking place in that peaceful little town.
I shall not further pursue this phase of the question. We could fill a book as large as one of the bound volumes of Hansard with the undisputed and indisputable testimony of not only reputable but distinguished men in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, America, and, indeed, every part of the civilized world, in support of the claim we make that the condition of affairs in Ireland to-day is a gross travesty on the elements ot justice.
We hear a lot about Sinn Fein. I thought it was’ self-determination by another name. There are some people who associate Sinn Fein with necessarily a policy of outrage and murder. I cannot help, nor can I wholly explain, their ignorance. The Sinn Fein movement was in its initiation a distinguished and essentially literary revival. It was meant to be a policy of self-help for Ireland. And even to-day, labouring as they are under this great terror, the Sinn Fein policy is mainly one of peaceful development of Irish industry, Irish education, and the Irish language. Under the policy of Sinn Fein all these various phases of local and natural activities are cultivated and maintained in spite of the invasion. Sinn Fein is a policy of self-determination, and the only difference between it and self-determination, as commonly understood, is that Sinn Fein is a language older than the English language, and pertains to a nation which was scholarly, brilliant, and valiant, while the people of Britain were still, as the historians have told us, nothing but painted savages.
– I rise with very great reluctance to take part in this debate. I do not think there is any one in the House - I am sure there is no one on this side - who but deeply regrets the occasion, and, for my own part, I would not have spoken, save for two compulsions. The first is that I do not propose on an unpleasant matter of this kind to give a silent vote, and thereby, perhaps, to be more or less misunderstood, while the second is due to certain statements that have been made in the course of the debate. It has been suggested by nearly all the speakers from the Opposition that honorable members on this side were rounded up by the Government to attend a secret Caucus meeting, and that compulsion in some form or other was brought upon them to take the course indicated by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes). So far from that being the case, I probably would be nearer the truth in suggesting that it is the rank and file of this party that has exercised some compulsion on the Prime
Minister in putting the motion before the House. 1 am not given as a rule to praising the Prime Minister, nor to speaking of him in terms of flattery, but 1 feel sure that on this occasion he has taken action very unwillingly in respect of a colleague who has sat in this House, almost without interruption, from its inception. It is only because of a grave sense of duty that the right honorable gentleman has taken the very unpleasant course of moving his expulsion. When I was informed by the Whip that a meeting of the party was to take place I at one© vigorously objected. I said that it was sure to be misunderstood and misrepresented - as it has been - and on that account I stayed away from the meeting. I am here to-night, uninfluenced by anything that may have taken place at that meeting, or prior to it, to speak my opinion honestly and fearlessly, as I have done ever since I took my seat in this House, and as I hope I shall do as long as I remain a member of it.
We are told that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Mahon) is being triedin this House, and that it should be left to the Courts of law to deal with him. The Mother of Parliaments, and all other Parliaments, have always jealously guarded the power to control their own affairs, and in that control is included the power of dealing with any member who, by his sayings or doings, has brought discredit to any serious extent upon himself and upon the Parliament. It is suggested that although a member is under the control of our Standing Orders, and of a majority of his fellows in this House, he is free to say and do what he likes outside the Parliament. That, sir, is a preposterous suggestion, and I do not think it is seriously put forward. To contend that a member of Parliament should be free to say and do whatever he pleases outside, and not’ be amenable to the discipline of his fellow-members, is at once to give a degree of latitude to an evil-doer that would speedily bring Parliament and its members into absolute disrepute in any civilized community. There have been undoubtedly many instances in which Parliaments have taken action against members who have done or said certain things outside, and it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that our duty to ourselves and our country demands that we shall take cognisance of not only what is said and done within the Chamber, but what may be said and done outside it by those who have had the honour to be returned as representatives of the people here. If that be so. and I think we can take no other stand, then it is perfectly within the competence of the House to determine whether the conduct of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie is such as to justify the extreme step proposed by ths Prime Minister.
I have carefully followed the whole of this debate, and have been struck by the way in which the speakers from the Opposition benches have beaten all round the subject, and have very seldom come to close quarters with it. lt suggests that the case of the honorable member is a very serious one when we find accomplished debaters carefully steering clear of the particular issue, and wandering away into matters that are more or less irrelevant. I do not propose to follow their example. I wish to make a few observations which I think will be fairly to the point, and, at any rate, will make my position and my vote perfectly plain. I know something of the history of Ireland, and would very readily excuse a considerable amount of strong language on the part of any Irishman regarding the conditions that appertain to the history of that unfortunate country up to the present time. -There is no doubt that any one who loves his native country, and who sees, or thinks he sees, it subjected to unfair and ruinous conditions, cannot refrain from using very strong language in giving expression to his feelings. Recognising that an Irishman is nothing, if not enthusiastic, and that he has usually a command of forcible and vigorous language, most of us are prepared to give him considerable latitude when he is discussing the affairs of Ireland. But even conceding as much as that, there is a certain well defined limitation that we must impose, particularly on public men - on men holding responsible positions such as the honorable member for Kalgoorlie has occupied in this House - and undoubtedly we have to consider in this particular instance whether the honorable member has not gone far beyond the limits of reasonable and proper criticism regarding the affairs of his native land.
It is unfortunate that in the discussion of the Irish problem both sides approach it from different points of view. I have read historical works by English writers dealing with Irish affairs, and must say that the majority of them show very little appreciation of the actual conditions pf that country. They show, in some instances, a decided and deplorable bias against the people of Ireland, and sometimes an unwitting and sometimes a wilful misunderstanding of their attitude. But I am also acquainted with books of Irish history, written from the Irish standpoint, and am bound to say that they are even more misleading than the average book upon Ireland written by an English historian. These books depict Ireland in the most . glowing and fanciful colours, as an entirely innocent country subject to the brutality of an overwhelming tyranny. If we have regard foi the attitude of people brought up on this kind of thing, and then read Irish history in the English school-books, we can easily understand the hopelessness of any solution of the Irish problem on a basis that will prove satisfactory to both sides. I believe, however, that, in spite of the present serious situation, a solution is yet possible. If, as is often said, the darkest hour is before the dawn, I believe that before long more sanity will be brought to bear on the solution of this question, and that views expressed on it from all parts of the Empire will indicate the line of true solution. I think I have indicated that my sympathy is always with .Irishmen in this matter. I have, on several occasions in this House, given my vote in favour of .Home Rule for Ireland. I am prepared to give that vote again under the same conditions, but I am not prepared to vote for anything that may lead to an Irish and hostile Republic. There is a wide gulf between the old advocates of Home Rule for Ireland and those who control the movement today. This question has advanced to a stage it had never previously occupied, in my life-time, at any rate. Hitherto- - certainly in modern times - all the efforts have been in the direction of selfgovernment within the British Empire; but to-day the aim of a very large section of the Irish people is entire separation from Great Britain, and the establishment of an independent Republic that would, undoubtedly, in the very near future, lead to the disintegration and total ruin of the British Empire.
We have been told by the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) that the late war was a war for selfdetermination. But that term was not heard of in the earlier stages of the war at all. It was first employed by the representatives of the great American Republic at the Peace Conference, and only since then has it been used in reference to the affairs of the world. I say, without hesitation, that, so far as self-determination is concerned, it was not the object of the war. The young men of Australia went to the war not for self-determination. That question did not interest them at all. While undoubtedly they fought for the rights of smaller nations, they went to the war to maintain the liberty which, as a portion of the British Empire, we have always enjoyed under the Union Jack. Self-determination is only a relative, not art absolute, term. We cannot, for instance, as I think has been already pointed out, concede the right of selfdetermination to any section of Australia as regards the Federal compact. We cannot give this right to individuals except in so far as it will not interfere with the rights, liberties, and safety of other individuals. And so, self-determination for Ireland can only be relative, and must be conditioned by the question of the greater safety and security of the Empire of which Ireland is a part. If the safety of the Empire as a whole is threatened by any steps which the extremists propose to take, no matter whether we call it self-determination or anything else, the smaller issue must be set aside in favour of the greater. Therefore, selfdetermination in relation to Ireland cannot be applied in its absolute sense.
We have also heard a great deal in this debate about the atrocities said to have been perpectrated by the police and the Imperial troops in Ireland. No doubt, many deplorable happenings can be charged to those representatives of Imperial authority; but it is very strange that the atrocities perpetrated by the other side are ignored. Are ali the evil doings the action of the troops and police? I am sure honorable members opposite are cognisant of atrocities, quite as appalling in their character, that have been perpetrated by the Sinn Fein element in Ireland before the reprisals were entered upon by the police and troops.
– I thought they were the only atrocities that you heard of.
– It is no use for the honorable member for Batman to make an observation like that. I am sure he is not in earnest. The point I want to make is that if we do not lose sight of the fact that there are faults and follies on both sides, there is no chance of arriving at some understanding. So long as one side sees only the faults of those they regard as their enemies, and so long as the other side adopt the same attitude, the position must be hopeless indeed. It ill’ becomes any member of this .Parliament to say or do anything to imperil the safety of the Empire at this juncture. As a student of Irish history, I have one very bitter regret. Ireland, to my mind, missed the greatest and most magnificent opportunity that ever came to her when she decided practically to stand out of the great war. If only the Irish people had said, “ This is a war in which the Empire is standing for the freedom of all the oppressed nations, and, although we have had our share of oppression, we are going to fight for the common cause,” nothing would have been too good for Ireland today at the hands of the people of England. There is no doubt that Ireland took the wrong turning at that time. I say this with deep regret, as one who realizes that the Irish difficulty is fraught with great danger to the whole of the British Empire.
– Do you know how many hundred thousand Irishmen took part in the war?
– I know that a relatively small proportion of them went to the war. I know, also, that the people who are now demanding the establishment of an independent Republic used their influence against these young men, and afterwards boycotted and persecuted them for their participation in the war.
– Are you .aware that these people are now officered by men who fought on the western front in the British Army?
– It is strange that those who can speak logically and with intelligence on other subjects cast common sense aside when they begin to discuss this Irish question.
– But it is a fact.
– I aru not suggesting anything to the contrary. I am merely stating what is a well-known fact, namely, that the people who to-day are fighting for and demanding the establishment of an Irish Republic were opposed to any young Irishmen taking part in the great far, and were prepared at one stage in the war to make common cause with Germany, if by so doing they could bring England down into the dust.
Whatever may have been the reasons for hatred of England on the part -of Irishmen in the past, no one can deny that for many years England has shown a desire to make amends, for the misgovernment of those who controlled Irish affairs at an earlier period of British history. We have been told by the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine) that the trouble in Ireland is largely economic.
– So it is.
– For some years I was inclined to take that view also. I took it from those authorities in Ireland who stated that the outrages indicated that the land question was at the bottom of Irish discontent, and that if only the land question could be solved everything would be all right. But England, some years ago, took those Irish authorities at their word, and placed about £200,000,000 at the disposal of the Irish tenant farmers for the purpose of buying their farms from their landlords. This process of expropriating the landlords of Ireland is going on successfully to-day; but, notwithstanding that the Irish farmers are becoming the owners of their farms, and are enjoying greater prosperity than ever before, we are confronted with a new agitation, not for Home Rule, but for an independent and hostile Republic. This shows quite clearly that the discontent in Ireland is not economic in its origin, and so we must search somewhat deeper for the solution.
– Has the honorable member read the article by Mr. Rolleston iu the Nineteenth Century?
– I have; and speaking generally, what I have stated is correct. So far as England is concerned, she has made a magnificent effort to meet the Irish farmers and peasantry in regard to their claim that they be allowed to become the owners of the land.
– England simply made available revenue extracted from the Irish people.
– There is no sum which Ireland could have raised on her own credit which could have been applied so cheaply to such a purpose as that to which English revenue was applied. It was done in a pure spirit of generosity to the Irish people by the people of England, and I regret that that great and magnificent reform has been so little appreciated by the Irish.
It was suggested to-night, by the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine), I think, that there is no reason why Ireland should be treated differently from a remote part of the Dominions which might wish to get away from her connexion with the Mother Land. When I suggested that there was a geographical distinction, that was pooh-poohed.
– Degrees of latitude or longitude have nothing to do with eternal principles.
– They have a great deal to do with the welfare of nations; and, if there are eternal principles involved, then the principle of selfpreservation is, perhaps, the most eternal of all that can appeal to a people. Call it by any name you like, it is vital to the selfpreservation of the Empire, that there should not be set up in a hostile territory almost in the, very heart of the Empire. And, although one might say that it would be a matter of comparative indifference to England to say good-by to Canada, it is a very different thing to suggest that Ireland, alongside of England, with her magnificent ports, which might be opened to an enemy, and with other resources, which might be made available to England’s enemies, is in exactly the same position as a country thousands of miles away. - ]
– Why does the honorable member assume that Ireland must necessarily be a hostile Republic?
– If I could only feel that Ireland would not necessarily be hostile she would get - so far as I am concerned - everything she asked for. But we must look the facts fairly and squarely in the face. Let Ireland throw aside her demand for an independent Republic, and I feel that England would meet her im- mediately upon common ground, aud would endeavour to seek a solution which would be satisfactory to both. England would not be found standing out against fair and reasonable conditions. Then, again, it is suggested that Belgium and Ireland afford .parallel cases. The facts as between the two are entirely dissimilar. So far as Belgium is concerned, Germany has not been in that country for a’ matter of 800 years. Germany has nob had her rule over that country indorsed by responsible bodies, both of its clergy and its laity. The English have been in Ireland for- 800 years, and, surely, under those conditions, they have some little right to a say in Ireland’s affairs. When we remember that the rule of England in Ireland has been indorsed time and again by representative bodies, both of Irish clergy and Irish laity, we cannot put England aside as1 having no interest in the solution of the Irish question. She certainly has a right to a say, and it would be to the interests of Ireland if these historical facts were admitted and placed in their proper relation to the affairs of Ireland to-day.
Now I come to the more immediate matter of the motion, and that is, the substance of the charge against the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Mahon). We are told that newspapers are not to be trusted, that they misrepresent, and that they do a great many objectionable things in other ways. I have been in this House since the inception of Federation, and have had to complain time and again of misrepresentation in newspapers. But I want to make this distinction, namely, that the misrepresentation has never been in the reports, but always in the comments; in the leaders, sub-leaders, and such like. I have not yet known a single instance- in which a reporter, taking notes of any speaker, has deliberately misrepresented him.
– I have. The Argus deliberately misrepresented me here, in 1917, when I did not go on with the debate on the Address-in-Reply. It lied about me then, and, no doubt, it will do so again.
– There may have been some misunderstanding on the part of the reporter in that case, but I feel certain that no pressman has any particu lar object to serve in deliberately misrepresenting what may have been uttered in his hearing by a public speaker. That is one of the rarest offences which could be discovered against the press; and while in comments and criticism very much injustice may have been done public men, I have yet to. learn that the reporters can be charged in that way. In view of the amount of evidence we have had in connexion with the report of the utterances of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, I feel bound to accept it as substantially correct. And, further, the attitude of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie in this House, on Tuesday last, is absolute proof, in my opinion, that he was guilty of the statements attributed to him. He came here, following a suggestion made to him by the Prime Minister, and the Prime Minister asked him a perfectly proper and necessary question - a question which should be put to any member of this House, in similar circumstances, by any man placed as was the Prime Minister. It was, whether the words reported in the Argus were the words which the honorable member had uttered. He made no particular denial of them. He did not even attempt to explain them away. If the honorable member for Kalgoorlie had said that he was speaking under the influence of very strong emotion, and that he might have been carried away into saying something more than he had really intended, I, for one, would have accepted that explanation as perfectly satisfactory. But what did he do? He came into this House and defiantly and insolently indicated to the Prime Minister that he could “ go to the devil ‘ ‘ - an intimation which applied not only to the Prime Minister, but to this House as well, seeing that the Prime Minister was only taking an action that any man in his position would have been obliged to adopt in similar circumstances. That being so, this House,, in regard to the language which undoubtedly has been used, has no other alternative than to say that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie is not worthy to remain any longer a member; and I intend to vote, very regretfully, and very unwillingly, in support of the motion of the Prime Minister.
.- It is a sad commentary on the state of politics in Australia that we should be discussing a motion of this character moved by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes). The motion is that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Mahon) be expelled from this House, and to this an amendment has been moved by tha Leader of the Opposition- (Mr. Tudor). The Prime Minister said that the words alleged to have been spoken by the honorable member stirred the primeval passions, and, certainly, during the course of his remarks he also helped to stir those primeval passions. It is quite evident that the Government believe .that the state of public opinion in Australia today is such that they will be safe in expelling the honorable member for Kalgoorlie’ from this House, in the full confidence that the electors of Kalgoorlie will return not Mr. Mahon, but one of their own supporters. That is why the motion has been moved.
– The Government never gave that matter one thought.
– The right honorable gentleman protests too much; but when the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine) said something that was considered objectionable some time ago, he was sent to gaol.
– When he was alleged to have said it.
– Yes; when he was alleged to have said it. . The Government evidently think that they have an opportunity of gaining another seat, and have made up their minds to ‘Create a vacancy by making this Parliament the tribunal.
– There is not a tittle of truth in that statement. _ Mr. RYAN.- That will have to be decided by the electors of Kalgoorlie and the people of Australia. It is lamentable that the Prime Minister and his colleagues believe that the state of public opinion in Australia is such that they can take this action, and be fully confident of succeeding in winning a by-election.
I do not intend to say one word during the course of this debate which would be the means of arousing sectarian feeling. I hate it. There is nothing more despicable or abhorrent than stirring up sectarian differences in the community.
There is no doubt that it has .been done in the past, and is being continued because parties and leaders of parties believe that by arousing the feelings of a majority of the people on sectarian issues - or what the Prime Minister referred to as the primeval passions - they will be able to gain party advantage. Rather than do that I would go out of Parliament altogether. It is a hateful and loathsome thing. We are asked to consider a statement that was alleged to have been made by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie - a man who has had a long and honorable career not only in Australia, but before he came here. He held Cabinet rank in this country as a colleague of the Prime Minister during the war, and he also had two sons at the Front who were prepared to make the last sacrifice. We are asked to expel this honorable gentleman from the Commonwealth Parliament because of a statement alleged by the Melbourne Argus to have been made at a meeting held at Richmond on Sunday last when speaking concerning the death of the late Lord Mayor of Cork. Whatever case may be submitted concerning the cause for which the late Lord Mayor stood, we can admire his action, and must admit that he died a hero’s death. I am sure than no honorable member will deny that, whether he agrees or not with the cause for which he stood.
First of all, we have to consider whether the honorable member for Kalgoorlie had a right to speak on such a subject in Australia. There are some who believe that a question of this character does not concern Australia; but I have not hesitated to express my opinion as a private citizen, a private member of Parliament, or as a chief adviser of the Crown. Whether T have been in the heart of the Empire, in London, or before the Lord Mayor of Dublin, or the Lord Mayor of Belfast, I have never hesitated to say that I think Australia and its citizens are concerned in seeing that a settlement of the unfortunate state of affairs in Ireland is brought about in the interests of the whole British Empire of which we are a part. Wo. are not only concerned, but we have a duty to perform in endeavouring .to have ‘such a settlement effected. There our duty ends. It is our concern that there shall be an early and satisfactory settlement, because we must all admit, irrespective of the side of the House on which we sit, that the mishandling of this question has led to trouble, not only in the Empire, but in parts beyond the Empire. It is necessary that the cause of this trouble should be removed. “Who has the right to settle it? I have expressed the view which I now repeat, that the form of the settlement is a matter for the people of Ireland themselves. They have the right to decide under what form of government they can live. “Would any one deny the right of Australia to complete self-determination? I am sure they would not. If Australia wanted to decide the form of government under which we should live would Great Britain refuse? We are a part of the British Empire, because we desire to be a part of it, and the majority of the people believe in it. But surely we are not to give away our right to discuss affairs in other parts of the Empire which may affect our tranquility here.
The honorable member for Kalgoorlie is alleged to have used seditious and disloyal utterances. It is, I think, admitted by honorable members generally that the state of affairs in Ireland, particularly in regard to reprisals,” would be likely to compel a person such as the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, who is a native of Ireland, to speak with indignation. The honorable member for. Batman (Mr. Brennan) said that he spoke with burning indignation, and I believe he would. Do honorable members opposite object because he spoke in that strain? Why are they concerned about the words people use? Is it because they can gain some political advantage? If they cast their minds back a very short time they will recall that one of Britain’s leading statesman, Mr. Asquith, who represents a Scottish constituency, when speaking before a Scottish audience at Ayr, said that, in his opinion, the doings of the British Government in Ireland could be compared with the doings of the Germans in Belgium. Whether agreeing with him or not, did any one say that for that utterance Mr. Asquith should be expelled from the British Parliament? What we need to do is “ to make the bounds of freedom wider yet.” The wider they are the safer we are. What words did Mr. Mahon use ? I do not know. I did not hear them. I was not there. But what do the honorable member for Yarra, and the honorable member for Batman, and the honorable member for Barrier say ?
– The honorable member for Yarra clearly intimated that the report was not a substantially correct account, according to the impression that he got of what the honorable member for Kalgoorlie said.
– That is not what the honorable member for Yarra said.
– I said distinctly that I could not swear to the accuracy of the report.
– Quite so; and the honorable member’s remarks tended to support the statements in the letter sent to the Prime Minister by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie.
I do not wish any attitude to be in any way misunderstood. Even if the language used by the honorable member was very strong, as strong as he could make it, this Parliament is not the tribunal to try his case. Cases of sedition and treason are to be tried by a Judge and jury, and the accused has the right of challenging jurors. We have not before us evidence on which we can come to a conclusion. The Prime Minister read out something from the Argus, and then read passages from certain affidavits. One of the affidavits was made by a gentleman connected with the Age newspaper, who set out a transcript of the notes which he had taken. I asked if the notes were there, and the Prime Minister said “ No, they are not.” It is possible that they could be got. The witness, however, is not here for cross-examination, and with the greatest desire to tell the truth, may have omitted something which would be elicited from him bv cross-examination in the witness-box before a jury. Three other affidavits were produced, referring to a Mr. Kelly, who, apparently, took certain notes, transcribed them, and handed them in at the Argus office on Sunday night. These notes do not correspond in every particular with the notes of the Age reporter. Honorable members need only look at the reports in the two newspapers to see that they do not tally in toto, and that the notes taken bv the A fie representative to a large extent corroborate the statements in Mr.
Mahon’s letter. Yet this is the evidence on which we are asked to find Mr. Mahon guilty of seditious and disloyal utterances, and to expel him from the House. He was sent here by the electors of Kalgoorlie, and because the. Government believes that those electors can be influenced to return in his place a supporter, it asks us to expel him.
– That would be a reprisal, would it not?
– This is not a joking matter. I differ from the Prime Minister as to what the electors of Kalgoorlie will do. I have too much faith in the sound common sense of my fellow-countrymen - I do not care of what religion, or whether of English, Irish, Scotch, or Welsh descenttoo much faith in their sense of justice, to believe that they will be misled. I would be prepared to leave these matters to be decided by the people. I have great faith in the justice of the people. It is Governments that may go wrong in their policies. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie was speaking of Governments. Is there any one with whom one would rather be associated in Australia than an Englishman, an Irishman, a Scotchman, or a Welshman, and their descendants? Of course there is not. I would be lacking in my duty to those with whom I have been associated so much in the past were I to fail to acknowledge what my experience of my fellowcountryman has been.
– You must admit that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie was referring to the Empire.
– I am now speaking of the confidence I have in the great Democracy of the British Empire. To it we must finally appeal.
What is the use of the Prime Minister playing on the words, “this bloody and accursed Empire,” on which he harped so much, and to which he kept returning. I have sometimes used strong language about the Empire, but that is a different thing from speaking against the people of England, Ireland or Scotland or Wales or Australia. We do not speak against the people, but we speak against the particular Government, and those who claim that they are the loyalists, and thatthey are the Empire. The Prime Minister said that the soldiers of Australia fought for the Empire. They foughtfor freedom : they did not fight for any particular Government.
This is what the honorable member for Kalgoorlie said in his letter -
My criticism, which was confined to the acts of British Ministers and their agents in Iraland, made no reference to the Sovereign. I am not aware that the oath of an Australian parliamentarian binds him in allegiance toMr. Lloyd George and his associates.
He says that he referred to the British Government, and that he did not refer to the Sovereign. If you read what the Age representative said’ in his affidavit, you will find that he said that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie used these words -
What sort of a Government was it that placed in the felon’s cell a man of such attainments f
Is not that a corroboration of Mr. Mahon’s own letter? Can any one say that the sentiments expressed in that letter are not sentiments that he is entitled to hold ? If the honorablemember has violated the laws of the country, there is a remedy in the Courts of law. The Constitution of this Commonwealth provides that if a member is found guilty of an offence for which he must suffer imprisonment of more than twelve months, his seat is thereby vacated. If the honorable member for Kalgoorlie was prosecuted for sedition, and was found guilty, he would be put out of this Parliament.
– During the sentence. But no Court would give a verdict against him on the evidence that has been put before us.
– The affidavits of three journalists who were not there !
– This high Court of Parliament is asked to accept hearsay evidence contained in affidavits, without an opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses. On this evidence we are asked to expel a man who was sent here, not by us, but by the electors of Kalgoorlie. By passing the motion we shall be doing still worse. We shall be prejudicing Mr. Mahon in a trial should any one charge him with sedition. Any private citizen may lay an information against him, and, if any evidence can be worked up, have him brought before a judge and jury. It is not within our power to prevent that. Are we, the chief deliberative assembly of this great Commonwealth, going to decide on the evidence that has been put before us that the honorable member for
Kalgoorlie is a traitor, because the Prime Minister believes that he can succeed in appealing to /’primeval prejudices.” . Those are his own words, they are not mine. But he may make a mistake, and the electors of Kalgoorlie have the opportunity of giving judgment upon the matter.
There is no doubt as to what the result of the motion will be. I read it, coming from Sydney this morning, in the Argus newspaper. I read the report of the meeting of the Nationalist party, and it had no evidence whatever, not even the flimsy stuff that was put before us here this afternoon.
Mir. J. H. Catts. - The affidavits submitted are dated to-day.
– Exactly. As the honorable member for Cook reminds me, those affidavits, or some of them, are dated today.
– Three out of four of them.
– This is the position, as I found from reading the Argus. Referring to the meeting of the Nationalist party, the Argus report says - ‘
From the outset of the proceedings it was evident that the whole of the members .present were in favour of Mr. Mahon’s expulsion.
Imagine that ! We come into this House nominally to try the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. We are to be the jury, but before we come here our honorable friends opposite have a private meeting, that is reported in the press, and they decide that he is to be expelled. The honorable member knows that himself. He reads it in the newspaper. We would know it if we did not read it in the newspaper. Then the Prime Minister rises at the table this afternoon and says, '’Mr. Mahon is not here. Why does he not come here and face the music? Why is he afraid of it ?” Do honorable members opposite wish the honorable member for Kalgoorlie to take part in the farce that is being perpetrated ? He would not be heard. He would be laughed at. Judgment on the matter has already been passed. Without evidence, it has been decided in the secret caucus.. I wonder are there minutes of that caucus meeting. Our honorable friends opposite, with one exception, have sat silent all the afternoon. The fact is that it was decided to expel the honorable member before we met here this afternoon, and we have gone through the solemn farce of having this debate. This is supposed to be the tribunal that is to try this question. I sincerely regret that in this Parliament we find ourselves in this situation, because I think it is evident that, at all events in the opinion of the Prime Minister and his colleagues, things are so degenerated in Australia that they can appeal to the primeval prejudices of the people in order that their Government may remain in power in the interests of the capitalistic forces behind them.
I wonder do the workers and electors of Kalgoorlie know the real inwardness of this matter, and that the arguments placed before them will be what we have heard here this evening; It has been stage-managed, and for what purpose? In order to return a supporter for the Government from Kalgoorlie so that they will not have such a risky existence as they have at present, dependent as they are, on the vote of the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs).
– Or the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt).
– I do not wish to make any reference to that matter. I say they are dependent on the vote of the honorable member for Capricornia. They hope to secure a supporter as the result of stirring up these primeval passions, and an. attempt is to be made to mislead the electors of Kalgoorlie. No doubt, the forces of capital will be employed there; but it is a sorry day, and a sad thing, that Parliament should be used in the way in which it is being used this evening.
If any offence has been committed by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, he can be tried in an ordinary Court. It is as well that we should know exactly the provision made in this regard in the Constitution. Section 44 provides that -
Any person who -
is attainted of treason, or has been convicted, and is under sentence, or subject to be sentenced, for any offence punishable under the law of the Commonwealth or of a State by imprisonment for one year or longer; shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a senator or a member of the House of Representatives.
There is the law as laid down by the people of Australia in the Constitution.
– But it is not all the law.
– Well, it ought to be all the law on this point. The electors of Kalgoorlie will have an opportunity of saying whether it is all the law or not. My point is that under the Constitution, if any person is found guilty of an offence against the law of the Commonwealth or of a State, for which he is liable to imprisonment for twelve months or longer - and sedition is one of those offences - he is by reason of that incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a senator or a member of the House of Representatives. Further, section 45 of the Constitution provides that -
If a senator or a member of the House of Representatives -
There is the provision of the law. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) must bear me out in this, that as soon as the honorable member for Kalgoorlie is convicted in any Court of such an offence his seat in this House becomes vacant. Why not take that course ? Why not give him a chance before a Judge and jury ? Why ask us to listen to the hearsay evidence in these affidavits - which the Prime Minister first of all hides, and then brings forward - which reminds me of the old style “that a woman told me that a woman told her,” and so on. It is on this evidence that we are asked to expel the honorable member for Kalgoorlie.
I hope that when the electors of Kalgoorlie get the opportunity to give their decision they will condemn the action that is being taken in this matter, and thev can do soupon high public grounds, without reference to the charges that have been made at all. They can do so on the ground that this is not the form of procedure to adopt, and they can insist that before the person whom they have sent here has his seat vacated he shall be convicted by the ordinary tribunals of the land. They can also repudiate any attempt to stir up passions that we should be endeavouring to allay. It is unworthy of the Government that they should try to stir up these passions. We should in this
Parliament try to allay them, and should be setting an example to the public outside, because we know howmuch harm, division, and damage is done to the country by having issues of this sort brought into this House and decided by this House, when we have the ordinary tribunals to decide them.
I want to repudiate from my place in this House any suggestion that, because I do not believe we should expel the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, therefore, I am condemning the people of England, of Scotland, of Wales, or of North-eastern Ireland. I am not doing anything of the kind. I would not do it, nor would any honorable member of the party on this side. We would not make such a suggestion as that. It is the people on whom we must rely, because if we have not with us a majority of the people we cannot succeed. In fact, it is to the people of this country that I look for the freedom that, unfortunately, is being taken away from us by the Government in Australia. Every honorable member should cast his vote as his conscience dictates; but I regret that it looks as if a large number of votes on the Nationalist side are going to be cast in silence, because honorable members opposite had their secret meeting, and came to their decision without hearing evidence, and because they believe they can gain a party advantage at the hands of the electors of Kalgoorlie, in which expectation I confidently believe they will be deceived.
.- After the very thoughtful speech of the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Fowler), conceived in a fine spirit, and couched in most temperate language, furnishing reasons, which, to my mind, were quite satisfactory, and, indeed, unanswerable, why honorable members should vote for the motion, I thought it was unnecessary for me to address myself to this question, or give any additional reason why I should vote for the motion. I find it impossible, however, after the speech delivered by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) to give a silent vote.
There has been a good deal of hysterical feeling displayed in this debate. I do not know why, because it is a serious question we have been asked to discuss.
The honorable member for West Sydney has taunted honorable members on this side of the House with having come’ here with their minds made up, and with having tried and condemned the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Mahon) beforehand. It is a base insinuation, and a charge that has absolutely no foundation. When honorable members on this side of the House saw in the Argus on Monday morning last the report of the speech delivered by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie at Richmond, we felt that if it were a correct report of the honorable member’s utterances, the only course open to us was to bring the matter before the House, and have the honorable member expelled. Therefore, the whole question depends upon whether or not the words reported in the Argus were a substantially correct rendering of the honorable member’s utterances. It is a most noteworthy fact that during this debate not a single attempt has been made on the part of any honorable member opposite to contend that, assuming the report of the speech of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie to be correct, the action now proposed to be taken is not justified. Indeed, the whole tenor of the speeches delivered by honorable members opposite has been : “ Why, you have no evidence on which to proceed; you are condemning a man without evidence.” If that evidence be correct, I cannot understand any man in this House taking any course other than that which has been proposed by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes).
– Then apparently the honorable member is not quite sure that the evidence is correct.
– I shall deal with that matter. I am responsible for my own vote, and for that only, and I shall give it for the motion only if I am convinced that the course suggested to me is the correct one. I am not influenced in the slightest degree by any personal feeling against the honorable member for Kalgoorlie.’ He is practically a stranger to me. I am not influenced by the fact that he sits opposite to me in this House. His religion is a matter of utter indifference to me. The fact that he is a Roman Catholic does not weigh with me for a single moment. The one question for me to determine is whether his utterance at Richmond last Sunday shows that he is unfit to sit and vote in this House, and if I am convinced of that I shall not hesitate to take what the honorable member for Perth has very rightly described as the painful step of voting for his expulsion.
What is the evidence before us that the report in the Argus is correct? First of all, the report itself is prima facie evidence that the words were spoken. I think there is nothing unreasonable’ in taking up that position. But when I find that words have been uttered which constitute an affront to the loyal people of Australia, I have a perfect right to expect that a fellow member of this House, to whom they are attributed, will, if they are not correct, promptly dissociate himself from them and repudiate the accuracy of the report. When there is no such repudiation, my belief in the prima facie truth of the report is strengthened. But, in addition to that, I find that the honorable member, on being appealed to in his place in this House, to say whether or not the report in the Argus was substantially correct, at a time when he knew the effect his reported words had had upon the minds of the people of this community, and when he knew that they had been taken as an affront, practically refused to give us that satisfaction. If. at that stage, or at any subsequent time, the honorable member for Kalgoorlie had said, “ That is not a correct report. I did not use those words. They are not my sentiments, and I disavow sentiments of that kind,” I for one would have at once said, “ That is enough for me.”
– Did not the honorable member hear the letter read to-day ?
– I will deal with that in a moment. It makes matters worse.
I do not know whether the honorable member for West Sydney goes the length of saying that we in this Parliament have not the power to deal with the honorable member for Kalgoorlie for his utterances at Richmond on Sunday.
– Assuming that I did, what would the honorable member say ?
– We must be satisfied that we have the power to take the step we are asked to take to-night, and
I am prepared to say that we have that power. Let me quote the following passage from Halsbury’s Laws of England, vol. XXL, page 787-
Although the House of Commons has resigned its right to be the judge of controverted elections, it retains its right to decide upon the qualifications of any of its members to sit and vote in Parliament. If, in the opinion of the House, a member has conducted himself in a manner which renders him unfit to serve as a member of Parliament, he may be expelled from the House, but, unless the cause of bis expulsion constitutes in itself a disqualification to sit and vote in the House of Commons, it is open for his constituency to re-elect him.
In the face of that authority I do not suppose any one will question for a moment our power to act, if we have the will to do so, when we find that a member of this House has conducted himself in a way that renders him, in our opinion, unfit -to occupy his place here. If we have the power, then the only question that remains for me to decide, is whether I am satisfied, on the evidence, that the honorable member for’ Kalgoorlie expressed himself last Sunday in a way which, in my opinion, renders him unfit to sit and vote in this House. There has been a strange confusion on the part of some honorable members who have addressed themselves to this question, and I am astonished to find it in the speeches of the honorable members for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) and Batman (Mr. Brennan), as to what really we are asked to do by the motion. Any member of the community can proceed by way of criminal information. But in this motion we have not to decide whether the words uttered by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie bring him within the criminal law.
– Oh, haven’t we?
– No, because it may well be that while the words which he used may not render him liable to the criminal law, they may, in our opinion, render him ouite unfit to sit and to vote in this House. In these days of our vaunted freedom of speech, it is very difficult to induce a jury, where a criminal information has been sworn against a man for a seditious libel, to convict him.
– It is much easier to convict him here.
– Much easier. I am going to indicate the difference. It is very difficult to fix the line where freedom of speech ends, and where what constitutes sedition in the eye of the criminal law begins. In these days, when we pride ourselves upon our freedom of speech, it is very difficult to get a jury to convict a man of sedition. Jurors are disposed to say, “ Oh, no! Let him blaze away and express his opinion without let or hindrance.”- That is all very well in the case of an ordinary citizen, but it is a vastly different matter when we are dealing with a man who has sworn allegiance to the Empire, who is a fellow member of Parliament, and who has taken an oath side bv side with us at that table, to bear true allegiance to his Sovereign the King.
– Has not the ordinary citizen sworn allegiance to his Sovereign ?
– No. I must first be convinced that the words alleged to have been spoken by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie were, in reality, uttered by him. Once convinced of that I shall not have the slightest hesitation in saying that their utterance constitutes him-
– To what words does the honorable member refer - to those in the affidavits, to those published in the Age, or to those which appear in the Argus.
– I shall deal with the evidence which is before us. In the first place, we must have regard to the fact that the speech of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie was made when he was presiding at a meeting which wound up by affirming the advisability .of establishing a republic in Australia. I cannot shut my eyes to that fact. Then, when I find it alleged that’ the chairman of the meeting which carried that resolution referred to the Empire of which Australia forms an integral part as “a bloody and accursed Empire,” I say that I cannot sit with such a man whilst I am serving that Empire which he has denounced as ‘ accursed and bloody ‘ ‘ - so accursed and bloody that it does not deserve to live. If the Empire is “ accursed and bloody “ the sooner it is disintegrated the better. The honorable member said in effect, “ Let us so far as Australia is concerned, cut ourselves adrift and establish a republic.” That is what his utterance amounted to, and no other construction can be placed upon his words.
The honorable member for West Sydney has said, “Oh! It was not the Empire that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie was criticising, but only the British Government.” It was nothing of the kind. The British Government is merely a thing- of a day - it is here to-day and gone to-morrow. Why should the honorable member avow his anxiety to cut himself -adrift from the Empire if it is merely the British Govern.ment to which he objects ? But it. is not the Government of to-day or of to-morrow - it is the Empire of which we form a part, which he denounces. It is that which is “accursed and bloody,” and it is that which will persist unless it is disintegrated’. It is the actions of such as he which tend to the disintegration of the Empire to which we are so proud to belong.
– Does the honorable member think that to advocate a change by constitutional means to a republican form of government is inconsistent with one’s oath of allegiance- in this Parliament?
– I do not. A man may hold what opinions he pleases, and may discuss them from a theoretical point of view. But when he has accepted service under the Crown, when he has sworn allegiance to . the Empire, and he then says, “ It is not a question of theory with me, because I have come to the conclusion that the Empire which I am pretending to serve, and to which I owe allegiance, is a ‘ bloody and accursed ‘ thing, which ought to be ended,” he has no right to hold a seat here. We find that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie has advocated the establishment of a republic in Australia. One could have respected him had he said to his Irish friends, ‘* This is the opinion that I hold of the British Empire. I am going to denounce it. I do not believe that it deserves to live, and the sooner it perishes the better it will be for the interests of humanity at large. Therefore, I shall have nothing whatever to do with it. I shall not touch it. I shall go out and be separate from it.” One could respect and understand that attitude. But the sooner we get rid of a man who holds the views which the honorable member for Kalgoorlie has expressed in regard to the British Empire, and who comes here, swears allegiance to it, and pockets £1,000 a year in its service, the better. If there are any other members in this Parliament who entertain similar views the sooner they have the courage to express them the sooner they will go out of this Parliament so far as my vote is concerned.
The honorable member for West Sydney made a most unworthy statement this evening, namely, that the Government are anxious to secure the expulsion of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie because they desire to secure an additional supporter upon this sid’e of the House. Does the honorable member think that in a matter of this kind our votes are influenced by considerations, of that sorb?’ If the honorable member for Kalgoorlie is expelled from this House and a candidate is nominated from the other side of the Chamber whose loyalty is undoubted, I, for my part, Would be only too glad if he is given a walkover. I do not want the Kalgoorlie seat for a member of my own party. All I desire is that it shall be filled by a man who will be loyal to the Empire to which he will be required to swear allegiance.
I am satisfied upon the evidence before us that the newspaper report of the speech of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie is substantially accurate. I have prima facie evidence of it in the appearance of that report uncontradicted. I have , the silence of the honorable member himself when he was asked to say whether the report- was substantially correct, and, finally, I have the sworn declaration of the Age reporter, whose report - although, according to the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan), it does not tally in every particular with the Argus report - does tally with it in essential particulars. Any honorable member who will not be convinced by thisevidence, especially in the absence of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, who ought to be here, does not want to be convinced. The honorable member ought not to stay away, and say, “ Prove the case against me if you can.’’ If it’ were true that some honorable members on this side had a grudge against the honorable member, and desired to “ get even “ with him, I could imagine his taking up that position. But he knows the profound sensation that his speech has created in Australia - it is not too much, I think, to say that - and yet does not come forward and say, “Not only does the report not represent what I said, but I disavow the sentiments contained in it.” Had he done that there would have been an end of the matter; but,. as he has not, I shall have not the slightest hesitation in voting for the motion.
.- I realize the gravity of the position created by the submission of this motion, on which we shall, in a few hours, give our decision. We are creating a precedent which will go down for all time in history, and we must be sure of the justice, or the injustice, of the course we take on this occasion. I am no special pleader for the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Mahon) ; I only, desire that justice shall be done. I hold no brief for any person who is disloyal; I would not countenance or condone any utterance which would bring discredit en the country to which I belong, and for which I am required to legislate. But, if it he in my power, I am not going to allow a position to be created in which a prejudiced, and essentially a partisan, assembly may return a verdict on the behaviour of an honorable member. I say this irrespective of the side on which such an honorable member may sit. If wo had not the ordinary Judiciary to try cases of this description I should say we were warranted- in taking our present course - that there was some justification for calling an honorable member so charged to attend and explain his action. It would then be for us, as the only tribunal available, to give a decision. But what are the facts? We have placed before us a statement taken out of the Argus, a newspaper of this city. I remind the House that, on the 15th October, I asked the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) a question in regard to some statements in that same newspaper as to the Geneva Conference, and the right honorable gentleman answered me as follows: -
The question reveals one of the causes of the appalling ignorance of mankind. The honorable member reads his newspaper as if the statements therein were Bible truths. The basic principle of a citizen should be disbelief in every statement that ho reads in the newspapers.
These are the words of the Prime Minister, who invites us now to accept as true a newspaper report, and to regard it as sufficient to justify us in condemning an honorable member for conduct, not within the chamber, but outside.
I was not present at the meeting at Richmond where these utterances are reported to have been made, and I think that very few honorable members were; and, in the cirucmstances, I am unable to accept the Prime Minister’s invitation to base our judgment on the Argus report. I wish it to be understood that I absolutely dissociate myself from the sentiments set forth in that report. That, however, isnot the question. The question is whether Ave have the power, or whether Ave should avail ourselves of any power wemay have, to condemn and expel a man against whom the charge has not been substantiated. Apparently the Prime Minister has been unable to obtain an affidavit from one of the newspaper reporters who Avas at the meeting, and ha3 taken a roundabout way in his endeavours to prove the case against the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. Some one who is supposed to have spoken to Mr. Kelly, the reporter in question, says that the latter stated that the report he gave was an absolutely correct one ; but Ave have no sworn evidence at all from the reporter directly held responsible. If I were a juryman on a case, I should wish to cross-examine the witnesses, and to find out whether there was any sinister design or conspiracy against the person accusedSuch an opportunity is not presented on the present occasion.
– You do not doubt the truth of the report, do you?
– I do.’ The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) has stated that he could not swear that the alleged words were used by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, and that honorable member himself states that the newspaper report is not substantially correct. As the matter stands, I am prepared to accept the word of the honorable member in preference to a newspaper report. Jurymen are always advised that they are required to give their verdict on the evidence tendered, to weigh that evidence in the scales of justice, and to hold the scales evenly, free from prejudice and bias. They are told that if they have any reasonable doubt - if they think that, perhaps, a mistake has been made, or that the facts are not fully before them - they must give., the accused the benefit of that doubt. That course is taken in the Courts of
British justice, not only on the plea of the defending counsel, but even on the advice tendered by the prosecuting counsel. ‘No such advice caine from the right honorable gentleman who presented the case this afternoon. He displayed no desire to see. that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie received the full advantage of having his case tried in t*ie Law Courts of his country, and to base upon the verdict given there the ultimate decision of this Parliament as to his fitness to remain a in ember. No; it is to be left to gentlemen sitting here to decide. It has been admitted by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell), who has an intimate knowledge of legal procedure, that it would be very difficult to secure a conviction on the evidence tendered. May I not ask, therefore, whether this Chamber is not being ar.ade use of for the purposes of a sinister design? I call upon the citizens of this country, and upon the newspapers, to view the state of the House now. Where are all those honorable gentlemen on the other side who have to give a decision in this case? They are absent.
– Are you producing any new evidence?
–No; I stand in the position of a juryman, and not of one tendering evidence or holding a brief for any particular person. I am one of those who have to give a decision. Tt is essential that the honorable member and every other member of this House should be able to give a full account of his position in respect of this matter. The honorable member has in this debate displayed a certain amount of levity which makes me believe that he does not recognise the seriousness of the position in which the members of this Chamber are placed..
– Order! Will the honorable member address himself to the matter before the Chair? He must not reflect upon another honorable member.
– The fact that so many honorable members are absent from the chamber proves that Parliament has prejudged, or -is likely to prejudge, the case, because it has already been determined elsewhere in secret conclave and before even the affidavits were produced. I understand that there a decision was come to unanimously that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie should be expelled. The hysteria that the prosecuting counsel, that is the Prime Minister, indulged in to-day does not give me any confidence that the case he presented can be relied upon by me as a man who desires to come to a decision in a calm, dispassionate manner, in accordance with those principles of justice which should actuate every member of this Chamber. At the same time, I need not remind you, sir, that in the present condition of politics in this and other countries, we are divided into various parties, and that it is very seldom that members depart from their party decisions. They are generally governed by decisions which have been arrived at in the secret councils of their parties, and are willing to follow them, no matter what they may be. It is evident that this case, which should have been, tried in the Courts of the land, will be decided by a tribunal which is prejudiced before the case has commenced; which has already determined what the penalty shall be, and has tendered judgment and sentence before the. accused has had an opportunity either to establish his innocence, or for his guilt to be proved. I hope that, even at this late hour, the Government will realize that it would be only in keeping with the fundamental principles of British justice to follow the lines indicated in the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition. They should recognise even now that, if they desire to bring the honorable member for Kalgoorlie to justice for any misdemeanour that he is alleged to have committed, they should do it through the proper channels provided by the Judiciary sections of the Constitution. The Courts of the country are the proper authorities to deal with utterances made by persons’ outs:de this chamber. Neither the Richmond Reserve nor any other public place outside is privileged. It is not like this chamber, where honorable members can express their views and opinions free from the effects of the law of the land. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie is ‘alleged to have made these statements in a public place outside. If that is so, the proper course to take is to require the honorable member, to appear in a public Court to establish his innocence, or for his guilt to he proven. I appeal to the justice of honorable members opposite, if it is possible to do so. I ask honorable members, in the hope that my question will search right down into their hearts, “Do you think that you are able, without prejudice - - “
– Almost thou persuadest me.
– Even before I have stated my question I have received an answer. The sense of indifference to the gravity of the situation displayed on the other side makes me think that it is of very little use to appeal to the better nature of honorable members who are so deeply involved in their party prejudices as to be, unfortunately; rendered incapable of giving an unbiased decision.
– Of course, you are not.
– I desire to give a most unbiased decision, but I recognise the difficulty created by the strong partisan views held by honorable members on all sides.
– So do we.
– The honorable member will see that he is claiming for himself a virtue which he is denying to others.
– I have endeavoured this evening to place honorable members on the other side in the position which they should occupy as men who constitute a grand jury to try this case. Honorable members seem to be indifferent to the seriousness of this matter, and I am led, therefore, to believe that they are quite unable to give an unbiased decision upon it. I have tried bo make my position clear. I hold no brief for any man who is proven to have uttered disloyal statements. I have no sympathy with those factions which tend bo destroy the best principles that govern us as an Australian Democracy.I am constantly coming into contact with elements that have tried to discredit me because I believe in constitutional forms of government; but I have a sense of justice and a strong desire that the right thing shall be done. It is an anomaly that this House should be asked to give judgment in this case since it is a prejudiced jury. Owing to its partisan character this assembly is not corn-Detent to give a free and unprejudiced decision.
This is a matter of profound importance to the great’ Australian com munity. No one could be guilty ofmore gross treachery than are those who endeavour to stir up the fires of religious hatred. Unfortunately, ther arein Australia to-day public men who are prepared on every possible occasion to arouse the passions of the people by appealing to their religious prejudices. I regard these persons as the greatest menace to the peace and progress of any country. I would make it a criminal offence for any person, irrespective of the section to which he belongs, to introduce religious strife into the public life of this country. Well do I remember the way in which some honorable members opposite, at the last general election, endeavoured by that means to prejudice my candidature. Well do I remember the insidious propaganda against me in my electorate, when, although I am a prominent member of the Protestant faith and a local preacher in the Methodist Church, it was suggested that I was a Roman Catholic. I am satisfied that those who would resort to such tactics are not competent to give a decision on a case of this kind. I know, too, that the minds of honorable members opposite were made up before the House proceeded to deal with the case, and that they are but waiting for the time when this man whom they condemn shall be cast out without having had an opportunity to establish his innocence. The situation reminds me very much of the experience of the Saviour of mankind in the judgment halls of Pilate, where so great a miscarriage of justice was enacted through the influence of the high priests of that time in appealing to the prejudice and passion of the assembled multitude. The same spirit is prevailing in this Chamber to-night. Without giving the honorable member for Kalgoorlie a properly constituted trial, or an opportunity to establish his innocence, they desire to expel him. They desire to disgrace him, and they say that he shall not have the opportunity to be tried before a jury of his peers. I hope the Government will recognise how necessary it is that we should serve the best interests of Australia by endeavouring to unite the great forces of the community, and eliminate the religious hatreds which are becoming a very decided factor in the political life of the country. I hope that the Government will recognise that we ought to give the people a le’ad in the right direction by agreeing’ to the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor). This case, if it is to be tried at all, should go before a Court constituted under the laws of Australia, ‘where the person accused would be able to cross-examine his accusers, with the object of establishing his innocence, and where, if he is guilty, his guilt would be proven beyond all doubt.
.- I do not intend to occupy the attention of the House at any great length. I feel sure that every honorable member realizes that we are taking part in a farce, pure and simple.
– Order! The honorable member must withdraw that remark.
– Have I, sir, to withdraw a statement which every one knows to be true?
– The honorable member ought to know that it is distinctly unparliamentary to accuse honorable members of taking part in a farce. The remark must be withdrawn.
– I cannot- think of any other word that so well expresses what is in my mind, and in the minds, indeed, of honorable members generally.
– The honorable member must withdraw his remark without qualification.
– Then I will withdraw the word “ farce,” retaining to myself the right to- think what I like of these proceedings. I know that my opinion will be, shared by every other honorable member.
– You are wrong there.
– I ask you, Mr. Speaker, to protect me from’ the interjections of this man. He is too cowardly to speak himself , and is too venomous to sit and listen in silence.
– Does the honorable member intimate that the honorable member for Illawarra has been insulting him?
– Yes, and I ask you to protect rae.
-Order! I ask the honorable member for Illawarra not to interject again. I also ask honorable members to refrain from addressing themselves to the motion in such a manner as to invite these personal interjections. If the honorable member will avoid personal reflections he will be on perfectly safe ground.
– I hope now to be allowed to- proceed, and I shall endeavour to- speak as calmly as possible. One reason why I do not wish to detain honorable members is that I am satisfied this matter was decided in the Nationalist party room this morning, if not yesterday, according to a statement which has appeared in the press.
– I rise to a point of order. I resent the statement that this question was decided in the party room. As far as I am concerned, it was not, because I was not present at the meeting.
– That is. not a point of order. It is simply a question of fact. I am not in a position to say whether it is so .or. not.
– Evidently the truth is distasteful to some honorable members. I say again that seeing that according to newspaper reports this matter was settled in the Nationalist party’s room yesterday, and re-affirmed this morning, and, seeing that it was also decided at the Country party’s caucus to-day, honorable members opposite are prepared to expel the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, whether he is innocent or guilty of the alleged crime. It is not likely that any arguments. we can bring to bear upon the subject can have any influence at aU upon a decision already arrived at.
– The prisoner will not get the benefit of the doubt.
– The prisoner will get the benefit of no doubt whatever.
– Order !
– As this’ matter has been settled, if I spoke from now until to-morrow morning, I could not hope to alter the decision arrived at. It is a remarkable thing, and will not reflect any credit upon the Nationalist party that, with three exceptions, honorable members of that party have remained silent during this debate, although they are about to take the executioner’s axe, so to speak,, and proceed to the political execution of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. One would have thought that in these circumstances if they could justify their action they would not have remained silent. I listened with a good deal of attention to the Prime Minister, and watched his capable acting’ this evening. I could not help noticing that he was endeavouring to work himself up into a frenzy. At one stage, with his handkerchief in his hand, he was on the verge of shedding crocodile tears. Honorable members on this side laughed because it was so apparent that .all this acting was for the benefit of the people in the gallery.
– When was this?
– You know; you were here. I listened with a good deal of amusement when the Prime Minister spoke about what he termed was Mr. Mahon’s lack of courage, and I could not help thinking that we have never had such an exhibition of cowardice as that to which the Prime Minister treated us this afternoon.
-Order ! The honorable member must withdraw that reflection upon the Prime Minister.
– Very well, I will withdraw that stated; ent, and say that the Prime Minister was lacking in courage.
– I hope, if the honorable member desires to address himself to the motion, he will avoid these personal reflections upon other honorable members. They are not at all germane to the question.
– But if the Prime Minister this evening was allowed to refer to Mr. Mahon’s lack of courage, as he called it, if he was allowed to say that the late Lord Mayor of Cork was a man of courage, and that Mr. Mahon was not, may I not also refer to the Prime Minister’s lack of courage?
– I did not hear the right honorable the Prime Minister make that statement.
– I can assure you, Mr, Speaker, that what I have said is correct, and I am simply asking if in these circumstances I will be out of order if I refer to what I regarded as a lack of courage on the part of the Prime Minister?
– Order ! I ask the honorable member not to pursue that course in debate. If he heard the Prime Minister make use of that expression, and if he thought the Prime Minister was out of order, “it was his duty then to have risen to a point of order, and called my attention to the statement. I would then have considered the point of order. The honorable member will not be in order now in traversing that incident.
– It appears to me, then, that I shall have considerable difficulty in expressing my views, although I am endeavouring to do so as temperately as possible. Leaving the Prime Minister out of the question altogether, I say that we are asked this evening to assist in the political execution of an opponent of’ the Government merely on a newspaper report of an alleged speech. There is no occasion for me to repeat, as other honorable members have done, that the Prime Minister only a few weeks ago said that a basic principle for mankind was to disbelieve everything that appeared in the press. When this phase of the subject was put up to him, the Prime Minister read what were alleged to be affidavits by mel] who declared that they were present at the meeting. When he was asked’ to read the whole of the affidavits, and’ give the names of those who had made them, he threw the papers on the table, and declined to give the names. But after three hours’ consideration, and after he had an opportunity to “ frame up”-
-“ Frame up !”
– On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I ask, is the honorable member for Calare in order in accusing the Prime Minister of having “framed up” affidavits?
– If. the expression implied a dishonest or dishonorable act it is distinctly out of order. He must know that any reflection upon any other honorable member of the House is against our Standing Orders and distinctly unparliamentary. I ask him to withdraw it.
– I will withdraw the phrase “ framed up,” and will say that after the Prime Minister had an opportunity to bring into the House what purported to be affidavits, he got up and read three or four of them. One of these was the affidavit of a reporter on the Argusstaff; another was an affidavit which stated that a man named Kelly had taken shorthand notes of the meeting, and that the report of the newspaper was substantially correct. It was substantially the report of Kelly. At this stage one might well ask, “Has any one here seen Kelly?” Although the Prime Minister produced his four affidavits asserting that the Argus report was the report of Kelly, the fact remains that he was unable to get anything from Kelly himself. Prom my experience of the Prime Minister in the past, added to the experience of honorable members on all sides of the House, and to that of citizens throughout Australia and the Empire, and believing at the same time that Ananias was the soul of truth compared with the Prime Minister, I say that I do not believe these affidavits were affidavits at all.
– Order ! I again ask the honorable member to withdraw such imputations. He is once more making insulting reflections upon the Prime Minister, and unless he is prepared to continue his speech without uttering such reflections, I shall be compelled to ask him to discontinue speaking.
– I withdraw and apologize to both.
Honorable members interjecting,
– Order! The next honorable member who interjects I shall be compelled to name.
– “ Out you go ! “
– I have already intimated that the next honorable member who interjected would be .named. -I therefo re name the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton), for having defied the authority of the Chair.
– Do I understand that I am not to have an opportunity to withdraw?
– If the honorable member desires to express his regret–
– I am very regretful at this time of night.
– Order ! That is .not a proper withdrawal. If the honorable member desires to withdraw and express his regret, he will please rise to his feet.
– I withdraw, and I regret that I came into conflict with the authority of the Chair.
– “When the Prime Minister came back into this chamber this evening, he had with him what he said were affidavits. I will accept them as such, although I never saw them. Their effect was, he said, that Mr. Kelly had been at the meeting at Richmond and had reported it. It is remarkable that the right honorable gentleman could not get Mr. Kelly to make an affidavit.
– We cannot get him.
– I do not think there should be any difficulty in finding Mr. Kelly; that is, if any Mr. Kelly exists. The evidence that we have here to-night is very flimsy evidence indeed. Apart from the possible political advantage which might accrue by the expulsion of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, I do not think any honorable member on the other side of the House would be found voting for the motion. I feel sure that their consciences do not tell them that they will be justified in the action they are about to take. They must realize now, if they did not earlier this evening, that there is a proper course to adopt in connexion with any such charge, as has been made against the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. As the honorable member himself said in this .chamber, he is responsible to the law of the land for any statement he may make outside of Parliament. That proves, in effect, that he was of opinion that if the Government had any reason to believe ho had made those statements, their duty was clear, and that was to see that he was brought to trial before the proper tribunal. The Prime Minister this evening spoke about the traitorous conduct of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. In reply to that, all I can say is that the Prime Minister should be a good judge of traitors. I have read a little history in my time, and I am bound to say that of all the traitors I have ever seen, and of all the traitors I have ever read about,, even including Judas Iscariot himself-
– Mr. Speaker, do you hear these insulting observations ?
-Order! I do not know what the honorable member is going to say.
– I am not surprised at the Treasurer rising to take a point of order, because. he expected that I was going to say something.
– Will the honorable member please proceed with his speech?
– Yes. Of all the traitors I have ever seen or read about, including Judas Iscariot, I know of no greater traitor to the principles which he once said were dear to him, to the people who trusted him, and to the party of which he was a member, and the cause which he once espoused, than the Prime Minister of Australia.
– Order ! The honorable member has now made a very distinct and grossly insulting reference to the Prime Minister. I must require him to withdraw and apologize. Moreover, If he continues in such a strain, I cannot permit him to proceed with his speech.
– In deference to the Chair, I will withdraw and apologize; and, seeing that I cannot deliver my speech as I want to do, and that I am prevented by the rules of this House from saying what I wish to say, and not being desirous of coming further into conflict with the Chair, I will resume my seat.
– I listened to-day to the theatrical and hysterical utterances of the Prime Minister. Honorable members who may not have had previous experience of the right honorable gentleman might be impressed by his attitude and by his actions. Fortunately, however, I have had experience. I was one of those who heard the Prime Minister, on the night of the “Battle of “Warwick.” That being so, I can only say that the right honorable gentleman’s attitude to-day is a replica of that which he adopted on the occasion in question. Consequently, I have not been impressed by the hysterical charges which he has made. I heard the charges which he levelled against inoffensive railway men at “Warwick, to the effect that he had been attacked with spanners and hammers, and such like ; and I am of opinion that those allegations were as correct as his charges against the honorable member for Kalgoorlie to-day. I regret that it is my unfortunate experience that I would be unable to believe the Prime Minister, even if he were to swear upon a stack of Bibles as high as himself.
– Order! The honorable member is grossly reflecting upon the Prime Minister, and I ask him to withdraw. I take the opportunity also to again impress upon honorable members the necessity for avoiding personalities, especially in a debate of this kind. The honorable member will withdraw.
– I withdraw the words, Mr. Speaker, but I shall say them outside if I cannot do so here. I regret that you, sir, were not in the chair this afternoon to hear the insulting references made by _ the Prime Minister concerning the honorable member for Kalgoorlie.
The .SPEAKER.- Order !
– It is hardly just to allow a representative of the Government to insult- .
– Order ! That is a reflection upon the Deputy-Speaker, and I ask the honorable member not to continue in that strain.
– However, those are the facts as they appear to me. The secret junta tried Mr. Hugh Mahon, and honorable members opposite have come into this Parliament to-day prepared to behead him; without knowing whether he is guilty or not. So far as I am concerned, I take the letter from the honorable member for Kalgoolie, which was read by the Prime Minister, to be a straight-out denial of the accuracy of the Argus report. Two days ago the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, in his place in this House, delivered a masterly reply to the .statement of the Prime. Minister. It was, in my opinion, an able utterance couched in temperate language, and one that covered the whole position. It left the Prime Minister flabbergasted, and, although he endeavoured to fasten the accusation he has made on to the honorable member, he failed miserably. The Prime Minister’s actual words were, “ Well, we can take it that the report is substantially correct.” The honorable member for Kalgoorlie replied, “ You can take nothing of the kind.”. Surely that is a denial of the accuracy of. the report. Reference has been made to the fact that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie is not present to-day, and I support him in the action he has taken. Why should he be here at the beck and call of the Prime Minister, because that honorable gentleman decided to send his private messenger to bring him to this Chamber ? Mr. Hugh Mahon was returned as a member of this Parliament by the electors of Kalgoorlie, to whom, as well as you, Mr. Speaker, he is responsible. He is not responsible to the Prime Minister. The person who is holding that office to-day may be a private individual in half-an-hour’s time, without power; and has the Prime Minister any greater authority in this Parliament than is possessed by any other honorable member? His speech to-day was an exhibition of the dying spasms of an idiotic autocrat, who has not yet been removed from the atmosphere of the War Precautions Act.
– Order ! The reference of the honorable member to the Prime Minister is distinctly insulting, and I ask him to withdraw the remark, and apologize to the House.
– I shall withdraw, because I do not wish to disregard the rules of this House; but at the same time the conclusion at which I arrived is–
– Order! When an honorable member is requested to with.draw a statement- and apologize to the House he must do so at once, and without any qualification whatever. He is not entitled to amplify a disorderly remark he has already made. I therefore direct the honorable member to withdraw the statement, and to apologize to the House.
– I withdraw and apologize. Those who have been in Parliament during the period when the War Precautions Act has been in operation cannot overlook the fact that the Government find it difficult to dispense with the power which they possessed under that Statute and its regulations. Many honorable members come into this Parliament direct from private life, and find that instead of it being an assembly in which they can speak for those whom they represent, that on the most biased reports of a partisan newspaper an honorable member -can be expelled. If that is the position in which we are to be placed, it is not “worth the candle” to be a member of this Chamber. Men run greater risks by being a member of this Parliament than they do by being private citizens, because they can have their good name taken away on hearsay evidence published in a biased report of a partisan metropolitan newspaper, which the Prime M!inister himself has characterized as a liar. It will be to the eternal disgrace of this Parliament- if the Hon. Hugh Mahon is expelled from the House on the flimsy evidence - evidence which has not been substantiated, and on socalled affidavits on which a country justice of the peace would not convict any man. The Government and their supporters are going to expel a man and hurl him back on to the electors who sent him here.
– And they will send him back.
– Yes, if I know anything of the people of Australia they will have no hesitation in returning the honorable member to thi6 Parliament, because those who are expelling him cannot possibly justify the action they are taking. It is laid down in. Magna Charta, that great bulwark of British liberty, that every man shall be’ adjudged to be innocent until . proved guilty. But the members of the National party have adjudged the honorable member . guilty before he has been tried. No member of the National party has denied that a Caucus meeting was held at which a decision was arrived at before the accused was heard in his defence. That irresponsible body has judged this man. and the leaders of that junta dragoon honorable members who are not prepared to obey and knuckle down to the autocratic Prime Minister of this country. I do not wonder that Parliament falls into disgrace when such a procedure is allowed. What man will dare to stand up and voice his’ opinion in any shape or form if a newspaper report is to be the basis on which he is to be expelled from this Parliament? Who is safe?
– Those on the other side may be.
– Yes. I remind honorable members opposite that time works peculiar changes, and although they may be in power to-day, others may be occupying their positions to-morrow. Would honorable member? opposite like to have their honorable name taken from them in consequence of a newspaper report such as that which appeared in the Argus newspaper? Every one of them would ask to be tried before a Judge and jury. Every honorable member of this House when charged with such an offence should be tried before a Judge of the High Court, by whom the evidence could be carefully sifted and weighed. The highest legal talent in the land should be at the disposal of the man whose loyalty is impugned. It has been a common practice of the Government to institute proceedings under the War Precautions- Act, and persons who do not agree with the political opinions of the Prime Minister and his followers have been charged with being disloyal. Now that the war is over, and the last remnants of power are being stripped from the autocrats that it brought into existence, they desire to continue their warfare on those politically opposed to them. No man in this Chamber would care to go through the ordeal that Mr. Mahon has had to go through on the hearsay evidence of the Argus newspaper. No man in Australia will be convinced by that evidence. Mr. Hughes said, in reply to a question asked bv Mr. Makin a few weeks ago, that the basic principle of a citizen should be disbelief in every statement that he reads in the newspapers. He said that those who wrote paragraphs such ns the honorable member referred to about the Geneva Conference, did not know where Geneva was, or what the Conference was for. The Legislative Assembly of Victoria passed unanimously a resolution asking the people not to take notice of, or to believe, the A rgus newspaper. Yet. members of this Parliament are asked to take away the honour of a member on the evidence of this newspaper that has been convicted of lying, and of circulating false reports tending to injure the credit of Victoria. Were the Nationalists in a minority, and Mr. Mahon a member Of a Labour Government, they would not submit his case to Parliament; they would say that ho should be prosecuted in a Court, because Parliament was biased in his favour. Does not the converse hold; is there not a majority in this House politically opposed to Mr. Mahon ? Can members opposite dissociate themselves from their political belief? They cannot. They are prejudiced against him, and when the division bell rings will give a biased vote. They are a self-constituted jury, but in the Courts of law no man is allowed to act as a juryman on his own volition. Members propose to take away Mr. Mahon’s good name, and to prejudice any case that may be brought against him in the Courts of the country by branding him as unfit to sit in Parliament. What justification nave they for that? Ask your Law Officers if itis admissible to thus expel a man from Parliament, and take away his good name, on the mere report of a newspaper that is a convicted liar. What sense of honour or of justice can those have who would do this ? What sort of legislation can we expect of a Parliament constituted of such men ? Can it be wondered that people are saying that Parliament is degraded, and that men and women are preaching the abolition of parliamentary institutions? Why is Parliament being brought into contempt ? Can it occupy any other position when it allows its decisions to be blown in any direction that a newspaper may care to dictate. I thought that members of Parliament were men who stood by their convictions,, and had ever before them the principles of Magna Charta, on which the liberties of our citizens are based. I repeat that one of the main provisions of that document is that before any man is adjudged guilty, he must be tried before a jury of his peers, by whom the evidence against him shall be sifted, and not until he nas been adjudged guilty by them, shall he be convicted. Procedure is laid down for the conduct of Courts of law, but this and the rules of evidence which generations of the best legal minds of the Empire have found most fitted for eliciting the truth, have been brushed aside. A man’s good name is to be taken away after a few hours of discussion. He is to be adjudged unfit to sit in the Parliament of the country, and his children are to be dishonoured because of a newspaper report which is not substantiated by any evidence that would be admitted in a Court of law.
It is idle for members to say that they are ignorant of the position. No one knows better than the Prime Minister what the rules of procedure in a Court of law are, dr the worthlessness of the evidence that he has adduced in this case. There are other legal luminaries in the National party., but their lights have gone out. The people are to be treated to the spectacle of a man being deprived of his seat in Parliament on the evidence of the Argus newspaper, which the Prime Minister has said is a liar. That newspaper is being placed above the judiciary, and above Parliament. No one has been brought to the bar of this House to declare that Mr. Mahon made the statements attributed to him by the A rans, the accuracy of whose report he has denied. The honorable member for Barrier rightly suggests that perhaps they want him to go to the Argus office, and, on his bended knees, ask for the insertion of his correction. Mr. Mahon has issued his statement here. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) has said that he has not contradicted the press report. Hundreds of letters have been sent to the Argus contradicting its statements, and have not been published. The newspaper claims the right to print or to reject anything sent to it. For all we know, the honorable member for Kalgoorlie may have written to the Argus contradicting its report. It is quite possible that the newspaper has refused to publish that contradiction, because of its bias and prejudice against him, and because, like most liars, it fears the truth, knowing that nothing can hurt it more than the publication of the truth. The Agc report of Mr. Mahon’s speech, published at the same time as the Argus report, makes no mention of any utterances by Mr. Mahon such as are attributed to him by the Argus. Why did not the Prime Minister bring forward the Age report, and say “ Gentlemen, here is a report containing certain statements, but the report appearing in the Age does not contain those statements.” He does not do that, but takes only the report of the newspaper that he has himself branded as biased and untruthful. He says, “Here is the evidence of my untruthful friend, and upon it I ask you to expel a member of this Parliament, and take from him his good name.”What is the reason? Those of us who know the Prime Minister know that he does not do things without a reason.On a somewhat similar occasion, the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine) was gaoled, but Mr. Mahon is not to be gaoled. Honorable members opposite knew very well that Mr. Considine would win the Barrier no matter what they did; but they think that there is some doubt about Mr. Mahon getting back for Kalgoorlie. The National party has made some blunders, and some colossal mistakes, but it never made a bigger mistake than it is making to-day, when, without a tittle of evidence, it proposes to expel this man from Parliament.
-It is creating a very convenient precedent.
-It is creating a precedent that may be followed by other people in other times. That is the great danger, that in other years other Governments may seize on this motion as a precedent to be followed, and then no one will squeal more than will the men who to-day are ravenous for the blood of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie.
The amendment moved by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Tudor) is one which any member of this Parliament can support, and can justify before any congregation of people, whoever they may be. He can do so because it stands true to the great principles of Magna Gharta, which have been the guiding light of the British Empire for 800 years. MagnaCharta is the foundation of the Labour movement, and one of its great principles forbids that a man. shall be convicted, incarcerated, and his good name taken from him, on hearsay evidence. If they were guided by the principles’ of MagnaCharta, political opponents would not be able to plunge the country into seething discontent, because they do not agree with thepolitical opinions of a man whom they wish to politically annihilate. Magna Gharta is based upon the principle of doing to others as you would be done by. No one could be stronger in his denunciation of the tactics exhibited by the other side to-night than could the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) if he were in a Court of law. I have heard the honorable member put up some good defences, and he was always careful to see that evidence was admissible before it was taken into account by Judge or jury. Yet to-night the honorable member is prepared to take away the good name of a member of this Legislature on the evidence of a report in the Argus, because the honorable member for Kalgoorlie is not prepared to dance like a puppet to the tume of the Prime Minister. I admire the attitude of the honorable member in that regard. I should adopt a similar attitude myself. The right honorable gentleman would never get me to this Parliament by sending a note and a motor car for me. An order from this Parliament would bring me here, but not a message from the Prime Minister. Why should I come here because he says I should come? Who is he any more than any other honorable member?
– He is the “boss” of Australia.
– Unfortunately, four years’ administration of the War Precautions Act have placed this man in the position of an autocrat, and he still continues to wield the powers of an autocrat in spite of Parliament itself. I have no hesitation in saying that members of the National party have allowed the authority of this Parliament to be encroached upon very seriously during the last four years. They support the Prime Minister in expecting that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie should come here at his call. The man who would do so would show but very little appreciation of his position as a member of this Parliament and of what was owing to his constituents, if not to his own dignity. We have been informed that the Secretary to the Prime Minister went to Ringwood, and I hope that he took a detachment of the Commonwealth Police with him to protect him. If the Prime Minister expected Mr. Mahon to dance to his call, why did he not have the courtesy to go to him himself ? It is strange that he should have so little to do that he was prepared to go practically to spy on the movements of an honorable member of this House. However, that is characteristic of him.
I propose now to read the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor).
– We have had it read several times.
– I quite understand that honorable members opposite do not care to hear the amendment read. I remind them that it is based on the principles of Magna Charta, about which they profess to be so much concerned. If adopted, it will not interfere with the right of this Parliament to expel the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, but it will insure that that honorable member shall receive a square deal, in so far as it is possible to get a square deal from the Courts of this country. The honorable member for Yarra has moved -
That after the word “That” the following be inserted: - “ this House,’ whilst being opposed to all sedition and disloyalty, and the subversion of constitutional means for the redress of griev ances, is of opinion that the allegations made against the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, the Honorable Hugh Mahon, should not be dealt with by this House for the following reasons: -
The amendment is based, I say, on the principles of MagnaCharta. Will any one say that those principles are not sound, or that they have not stood the test of time, or contend that what is considered right in a Court of law should not be allowed tq safeguard the honour of a member of Parliament? I fear that many honorable members do not thoroughly appreciate the gravity of the position of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. They have not considered it from his point of view. Their sole concern is to crucify him so that they may demonstrate their loyalty. Whether he is guilty or innocent concerns them not; in order to affirm their loyalty they will take away the good name of an honorable member who has been returned to this Parliament year after year, and who for many years has been a Minister of the ‘Crown, without the slightest charge ever having been made against his loyalty, save this report in the Argils, a journal which, we are told by the Prime Minister, does not tell the truth. The right of the honorable member to use the words attributed to him is not in question. The only issue is whether, on the alleged evidence produced, the honorable member has made a seditious statement. The action proposed to be taken to-night is one of the most atrocious of which I have ever heard or read. If the uncorroborated report of a biased political paper is accepted by a majority of honorable members as sufficient justification for expelling an honorable member from this House, no one can be sure that his good name will remain with him for one day longer. It is sufficient to make any honorable member seriously consider whether it is worth while coming into Parliament and running the risk of being expelled by an unintelligent majority on an irresponsible report in a newspaper. Here we are nullifying the years of faithful service which no one can deny has been rendered to the country bv the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. It has been his life’s work, yet, after a few hours’ debate, and on unsupported testimony, it is proposed to wipe out all this long record and condemn him to go through his remaining years with a most .serious charge hanging over his head.
– No. He will come back again.
– I have no doubt he will ; but it is certain that every device that money can buy will be used by the National party to blacken his character before the electors, and it is possible a campaign of misrepresentation may prevent the honorable member from returning here. He may go down to his grave with this charge hanging over him, unable to seek redress, because he cannot sue the Parliament. However, the people will be the judges. It may take some time for them to realize the misrepresentations which may have been indulged in, but, sooner or later, they will grasp the enormity of the offence committed to-night. One of the leaders of the miners in Victoria, Mr. Peter Lalor, became Speaker of the Legislative Assembly in the State in which previously he had been condemned by those in authority, just as the honorable member for Kalgoorlie has been condemned to-day, and in the same way the people of later days will judge the honorable member untrammelled by party bias, recognise the good work he has done, and brand those who condemn him on the alleged evidence given here to-night as fools, or worse. They will brand them as fools for not recognising the insufficiency of the evidence produced. They will probably brand them as worse than fools for having wilfully and deliberately brought about the expulsion of. an honorable member in order to gain a party advantage. But the honorable member may not be alive when the country passes fits judgment. His health is failing, and the action to be taken here to-night may hasten his end. I say to those honorable members who are about to take this action, “You must bear your responsibility in connexion with the matter, and if you do not bear it upon this side of the grave you will bear it upon the other side.”
– The honorable member will finish in about two minutes, I presume ?
– I shall finish when I am ready. The Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Groom) need not. worry about me.
– Order !
– The Minister for Works and Railways asked me whether I shall finish in about two minutes, and I told him straight that I shall finish when I am ready.
– Order ! I must ask the honorable member not to shout so loudly. I can hear him if he adopts a more moderate tone.
– Well, the Minister for Works and Railways is not going to bounce me. I am responsible to the electors of Gwydir, who sent me here, and not to the puppet who sits there.
– Order ! The honorable member has made a distinctly offensive reference to the Minister for Works and Railways. I must ask him to withdraw and apologize.
– I withdraw. I thought that the honorable gentleman was endeavouring to bounce me into a certain position.
– The Minister was merely giving the honorable member a friendly intimation that there might be a suspension of the sitting for refreshments which are now available. The honorable member must withdraw and apologize without any qualification.
– I withdraw and apologize. I misunderstood the honorable gentleman. When making a statement of the character which he did, I wish that he would speak up instead of whispering. I ask leave to continue my remarks.
– As soon as the honorable member has concluded his speech I shall leave the chair.
– There are several other honorable members who intend to speak.
– I do not suggest that there are not.
– Do you, sir, desire me to conclude my remarks before you leave the chair?
– If the honorable member wishes for leave to continue his speech later he may ask for it.
– I have already done so.
Sitting suspended from 12.35 to 1.15 a.m. (Friday) .
– I beg to call attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.]
– I wish to draw attention to one or two statements made by honorable members opposite,, though we have been given little idea of their opinion in regard to the matter we are discussing. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) tells us that it is hard in these days to get a jury to convict on a charge of sedition, while he admits that it is comparatively easy in an assembly of this kind. That, in itself, should be sufficient to make honorable members realize tha gravity of the position, and show them that this is not the place to decide such questions, but that a man so charged should be tried by an onbiased jury of his fellow-countrymen. To show how easy it is fo.r a man tobe convicted of sedition here, we have only to observe the attitude taken up by the honorable member to whom I have referred. He says that if the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Mahon), from his place in the House, were to deny the allegations made against him, and say that the press reports did not give expression to his views, he (Mr. Maxwell) would be prepared to accept hip word. Let honorable members contrast the attitude of the honorable member for Fawkner to-day with the attitude he would be prepared to take up were the honorable member for Kalgoorlie to attend and deny the allega tions. The honorable member for Fawkner now accepts the press report without any corroboration or sifting of evidence - without any inquiry as to whether the evidence forthcoming is admissible or not. We know that the door through which evidence is admitted in a Court of law is very narrow, and yet, without any of the usual safeguards, the honorable member is prepared to convict the honorable member for Kalgoorlie of what practically amounts to high treason. Although the honorable member for Fawkner is prepared to convict the honorable member for Kalgoorlie on uncorroborated and doubtful allegations, he is, at the same time, prepared to accept the unsupported testimony of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. Nothing could be more childish than such an attitude; and it creates in my mind serious doubts as to the sanity of the honorable gentleman. Then, the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks), in reply to another honorable member today, said that if the honorable member for Kalgoorlie would, from his place, repudiate the statements attributed to him in the press report, and apologize to the King, he would not vote for the motion: Both honorable members are considered to be high up in the legal profession ; but can we for a moment take it that they are giving a considered judgment, when we find them prepared to reverse their decision for such flimsy reasons? There would be nothing easier than for the honorable member for Kalgoorlie to come here and deny the statements attributed to him; but he is quite right not to allow the Prime Minister to “bounce” him into doing so.
The procedurewe are adopting now is not in keeping with that of the House of Commons. As an example, I may cite the case of a Mr. Hunt, who, on the 23rd May, 1810, was expelled from the House of Commons for misappropriating money. But before his expulsion no fewer than twelve reports on his case were submitted; and every member will admit that treason is a much more serious offence than that of misappropriating money. If the Prime Minister had had a good case he would not have presented it in the way he presented the case today, but would have contented himself with a clear and calm statement of the bare facts, leaving the House to decide the question. To-day the right honorable gentleman went all round his subject, dragging in Sinn, Fein and disloyalty of every description in order to bolster up his rotten case. Having done that, he leaves honorable members, with their minds aflame, to Strip this man of his public honours - this man whose record is as good as that of any member of the House at the present time, or of any member in the past. Honorable members opposite “blow hot and cold “ ; and in time to come they will be ashamed of what they are doing, today. I have had much . experience amongst bodies of men working in various industries in Australia. Never on one occasion, where a man had to be brought before a committee of men to have his conduct inquired into, have I known that committee to adopt such an attitude as has been adopted by honorable members to-day. These were bodies of working men, who, perhaps, had not had the opportunity to obtain the education possessed by many members of this Parliament, who intend to vote to expel the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. They might have been pardoned if they had not taken up the right attitude, but in all my experience on. the mine, fields, where we have sometimes gone so far as to drum a man out of the town, in every case we have had proof of the guilt of the accused before we took his good name from him. Every man when he is accused of a crime should have the right to crossexamine those who give evidence against him. No such right was given to the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, nor was even a promise of that right given to him if he had attended here when the Prime Minister attempted to force him to attend. Nobody would have been produced for him to cross-examine. He would not have had a chance to confront his accusers. The Prime Minister himself is not in the position to accuse him. He was not at the park meeting. He did not hear the honorable member speak, and he has no knowledge whatever of the case.
– I draw attention ito the state of the House. [Quorum formed-]
– Not only was the Prime Minister not at the meeting when the alleged statements were made, but not one of those who are going to vote the honorable member out of Parliament to-night was there. Not one of those who sit opposite has seen the men who are alleged to have made the report against the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. Not one of them has asked one question of those men. N’ot one of these gentlemen who will so easily throw the honorable member out of public life, or attempt to do so, has seen any of the newspaper reporters who are stated to have taken a note of the honorable member’s alleged utterances.- The honorable member for Kalgoorlie realized that if he attended here he would be in the position of a man going for trial before a Judge who was also his accuser, and who was not prepared to put his witnesses in the box and let them be cross-examined. He knew that he would be coming into a prejudiced Court, constituted of a majority of his opponents, and that this would only prejudice his case outside in the civil Courts, where 1 hope and trust there is more justice than it appears is going to be meted out here to the honorable member to-night. There. are fundamental principles of dealing with every case, principles upon which the Judiciary alone can exist, and one of them is that whoever elects to accuse a man shall come into Court, and in the witness-box, on oath swear to what he alleges he has seen or heard. If he commits perjury he is liable himself to be placed in the dock. No such principle has been observed here to-day, and the man who it is alleged transcribed the notes of the honorable member’s speech has not been produced. Why? If one of the main witnesses - as a matter of fact, the only witnessfor the Crown could not be produced in a Court of law, do honorable members think that any jury would convict? That is why the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell), himself a legal luminary, said that it is easier to get a conviction here than it is in a Court of law.
– But he did not say that.
– He did. The honorable member was not in the chamber at the time.” How doe3 he know?
– Order ! The hon able member’s time has expired.
.I take it from the attitude of the members of the Government, and their supporters, that we have to accept everything reported in the press as accurate. It is most remarkable that, according to the reports in the press, the members of the Nationalist party, and the members of the Country party, have, before any evidence was advanced on behalf of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, decided that the seat of Kalgoorlie shall be declared vacant.
– That is not correct.
– I am going upon the evidence ofthe newspapers. I am merely accepting the position and the ground that the Government and their supporters are taking in dealing with the case which the House is now being asked to decide. That is to say, on the report of a newspaper published in this city, an honorable member of this House having been adjudged guilty of making certain observations, all further discussion must cease, and the honorable member must be forthwith expelled. Surely the Government and their supporters cannot complain if I accept that as the basis of my argument to-night. That is the very foundation of their case. If the Government or their supporters cast a doubt upon’ the veracity of the press, then the whole oftheir case falls to pieces. The only evidence they can produce against the honorable member for Kalgoorlie is a report in the Melbourne Argus alleging that he made certain statements at a meeting held at Richmond Park on Sunday last. I am not prepared to condemn any man on a mere ex parte statement. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie has denied the accuracy of the published reports. He has stated that substantially they are not correct, and the onus of proving their accuracy is thrown upon the Government. It is idle for the Ministry, through their mouthpiece the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), to indulge in mere rhetoric and to appeal to the baser passions of the people. Such tactics will not save them . There is nothing easier in the world than to appeal to the prejudices and passions of the people. I could appeal to century-old quarrels with safety to myself, but I prefer not to do so..
– We know that the honorable member would not do so.
– Unlike the honorable member, I shall not run away from any division in this House. It shall never be said to me, “ When are you going away, Bill?” There are occasions upon which honorable members opposite find that important private business claims their attention and renders it impossible for them to be in attendance here.
– Order ! I ask the honorable member to address himself to the question before the Chair.
– The motion before the Chair is that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie be expelled; while the amendment moved by my Leader (Mr. Tudor) is, in effect, that the House should not deal with the matter since it is not competent to give an unprejudiced decision upon it. Here we have an honorable member of this House charged with sedition and alleged to have been guilty of conduct inconsistent with the oath of allegiance to which we all have to subscribe beforewe can take our seats. What is the evidence which the Government and their supporters advance against the honorable member? What are the grounds upon which they urge that he should be expelled? Their case rests upon a report in the Melbourne Argus that he made certain statements at a public meeting. One of the fundamental features of all trials is that the credibility of the witnesses shall be established. Let us put the Argus in the box. Has there been, from one end of Australia to the other, a more discredited witness than the Argus itself? Time after time it has been discredited in the Courts of this country. It has been proved, not once, but on many occasions in the law Courts, to be an unmitigated liar.
– It is open to the honorable member for Kalgoorlie to prove that.
– It has been proved before to-day, and many honorable members now following the Prime Minister know it. They have had to suffer because of the calumnies it heaped upon them when they chose to stand in the ranks of Labour. But to-day, because this newspaper elects to support them since they now stand for the capitalistic profiteering classes of Australia, they extol the Argus as the great fountain of truth. They point to it as a witness whose honour cannot be impugned. The Argus, however, has been proved, again and again to have polluted the fountain of truth. And this is the source of the evidence upon which the Government and their supporters are prepared to. expel the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. If it can be proved that witnesses are tainted and unreliable, that they are guilty of perjury, even the vilest criminal charged with the worst crime in the calendar will receive his discharge in any of the Courts of the Commonwealth, because all the evidence would go by the board. But, of course, the Government expect to obtain some political advantage from their present course of action, and so they are prepared to accept the evidence from this tainted source, and cast the honorable member for Kalgoorlie out of Parliament. Let me tell them, however, that it will only be for a week or two, only until such time as the workers of Kalgoorlie will have an opportunity of again recording their votes for Mr. Mahon, and sending him back to his place in this Parliament. If Mr. Mahon has been guilty of any offence against the laws of this country, the Courts of the land are available” to the Government, and he may be dealt with in that way. We appoint Judges who are above party and political considerations, men selected because of their learning and their judicial temperament, and capable -of deciding questions like this free of all party bias. Are the Government afraid to trust the Judges? Whether the honorable member for Kalgoorlie has been’ guilty of seditious utterances or not, whether or not he has done anything contrary to the oath of allegiance which we all take upon entering this Parliament, he should at least have a fair trial. I shall never stand for disloyalty or sedition, if by this is meant the doing, by unconstitutional means, of things which may be done by constitutional means.
– Constitutional means as far as they will go, anyway.
– Whatever it means, if I can do anything by constitutional means I shall not attempt to do it by unconstitutional moans. And this is the course which Parliament should adopt. What are the Government afraid of ? Are they afraid to trust the Courts of this country? Do they regard our Judges as untrustworthy ?
– The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) has pointed out that it would be difficult to prove the honorable member for Kalgoorlie guilty in a Court of law.
– Yes, that is the trouble. The Government know that if they appealed to the Courts of the land the honorable member for Kalgoorlie would get a fair deal. He would get justice. But it is not justice they want. What they are after is their pound of flesh. They want an extra seat which to them will mean all the difference between victory and defeat. Everybody knows that the Government are in a very precarious position, if at any time members of the Corner party choose to vote against them, and especially if the honorable member for Grampians (Mr. Jowett) does not find it convenient to be absent. Every honorable member knows that the Government have acted in this way. because they want to make certain of an extra seat for the National party, so that as a Government they may be secure, quite apart from the support of the Country party. The Government are in an uncertain position, because they are dependent upon the votes of such supporters as the honorable member for Grampians (Mr. Jowett), who conveniently finds on occasion that important engagements call him away from the House. But, of course, there «r.ay come a time when the honorable member may not have an important engagement. If so, the Government are “gone.”
– Order ! I must ask the honorable member to address himself to the motion.
– I am endeavouring, . Mr. Speaker, to show why the Government will not allow this matter to go before the Courts. Surely I can show that the reason why the Government are placing this matter before a prejudiced tribunal is- that they want the honorable member’s seat.
– Order ! The honorable member knows the Standing Orders, and that he is not in order in imputing unworthy motives.
– They are unworthy, and very sordid, I admit; but I am forced to the conclusion that such are the motives of the Government. If the Government desire to purge this country of disloyalty and sedition there is an- easy and effective way.
– And a proper way.
– I hope the honorable member will vote in the proper way.
– I know how to vote on a question of disloyalty. Let the honorable member make no mistake about that.
– Does the honorable member know how to vote properly ?
– Order ! Will the honorable member address himself to the question before the Chair?
– Honorable members opposite have decided upon their course of action, as the outcome of a policy framed in their own Party room. If a jury were empanelled in any Court in Australia to-day, and the accused could show that an individual upon that jury had given expression to an opinion derogatory to himself, that juryman would >e dismissed. Here, however, we have honorable members openly boasting that they had considered and decided on their course of action before the motion was introduced in this Chamber. They have come to the conclusion, based upon the report of a party newspaper, that their fellow member is guilty; and so his head must fall into the basket. The progress of i;he world is marked by incidents of this character, and they, have all been in the name of liberty and loyalty. The people will ask the Government upon what grounds they expelled the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. They will ask, “ What is your evidence, and what right have you to constitute yourselves judge and jury?” I trust that this Parliament will not make itself ridiculous. The Prime Minister has stated that honorable members have said they will not sit in this Chamber with the honorable member’ for Kalgoorlie. His seat is to be declared vacant. He will go back to his constituents. In all probability they will return him to this Parliament. When the honorable member has been sent back here, what will be the position of the Government and their supporters ? .Will She Prime Minister and honorable members behind him then again say ;hey cannot sit with the honorable, member for Kalgoorlie? Will the fact of his re-election make any difference to them ? Will his return have ourged him of the crime with which he fs now charged ? There need be no fear : die Government and their supporters will not resign. That being so, cannot hon orable members see how ridiculous they are making themselves, and that they are becoming the laughing-stock of Australia ? They should not forget that not only will the people of Australia to-day pass judgment upon them, but Australians also in the years to come will do so. The question .in future will be asked, “ On what evidence did the Federal Parliament in those days expel an honorable member ? “
There is every reason why the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition should be adopted, because it is reasonably worded, and conveys what is, I believe, the real opinion of honorable members. Will any one say that a person charged with sedition should not have the right of appearing before a Judge and a jury? I challenge the members of the Government and those sitting behind them to say that they are opposed to giving a person charged with sedition the opportunity of submitting his case to a legally constituted tribunal. All we ask in the amendment is that this House shall refrain from passing judgment, because it is not the proper authority. It is time that constitutional procedure was adopted, particularly when we witness the spectacle of men meeting in. camera and deciding to end the political life of a member of this Chamber before they have heard one word of evidence on the offence with which he is charged. Do they believe in a man being sentenced and condemned without having a trial by jury, and before they give him an opportunity of making any explanation?
– The Cabinet decided this, then the Caucus, and now it is before the House.
– Exactly. Judging by the hilarity of some honorable members, they appear to be treating this important question in a light and airy manner. But they should remember that hundreds of thousands of brave men have given their lives in the fight for justice and the liberties of our people. The honorable member for Grampians (Mr. Jowett) may laugh, but he must remember that the honour of a man is dearer to him than life itself. My honour and my oath of allegiance are more precious to me than anything else. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie has been charged with an offence, his honour is at stake, and while we are debating the question of bis expulsion from this Parliament honorable members are sneering and smirking and treating the motion and the amendment in the most flippant manner. Those who are adopting that attitude should be ashamed of themselves, and when the complete records of this lamentable incident are made available to the people of Australia, those who have acted in this way will appear in a very unfavorable light. I ask honorable members not to be led away by impassioned appeals, but to deal with this proposition as decent and honorable men. If the honorable member has been guilty of an offence which is punishable in this country, let him take his punishment, but before he does that his accuser should prove him guilty of the charge. I would not treat my greatest enemy in this way, but the Government are asking me and my colleagues to condemn Hugh Mahon upon the flimsy and unreliable evidence they have submitted. I would not condemn a mad dog on it, quite apart from an honorable, straightforward and upright gentleman. There is not a member of the Government, or one of their followers, who would care to be condemned upon such flimsy statements as those submitted by the Prime Minister. As members of the great Australian Labour movement, .we ask that no one shall be judged by his nationality or religious beliefs. The religious beliefs of a man should not be used for political purposes, because they are a matter sacred between the individual and his Creator. If we, as members of a national Parliament desire our names to be honoured by the people who:come after us, we should show that we were prepared to rise above the littlenesses of life and give any accused man, whoever he may be, and irrespective of consequences to ourselves, an opportunity of standing before his peers. We ask in the amendment that this House shall say that Parliament is not the proper authority to decide such a question as that now before us. I ask the Government and their supporters not to allow prejudice and passion to lead them astray. If Mr. Mahon, or any other citizen, has committed a crime, there is the law of the land to deal” with him. Government supporters cannot say that they are treating his case conscientiously and fairly - on its merits. Had one of them heard Mr.
Mahon’s explanation before they came to a determination in the party-room as to the common action of the party?. What justice could Mr. Mahon expect from some of those sitting opposite, whom I need not mention by name? There are men opposite who, if they could grip a Labour member by the neck and down him, would not hesitate one moment to do so. Let this case be tried by the Courts of the country, not by a prejudiced majority in Parliament. The Government and their supporters dare not let it go to the Courts, because they know that it is too flimsy. It is based on a prejudiced report published in the Argus, a newspaper which loses no opportunity to malign and misrepresent the members of the Australian Labour party. Fortunately its misrepresentations do not affect me, because my constituency is remote from the sphere of its influence, and those whom I represent have too much sense to be caught by its clap-trap. When the Prime Minister found that the newspaper report was not enough, and that he was in danger of losing votes in the Kalgoorlie electorate, he brought forward affidavits. One of them was from a person connected with the Age, who swore that Mr. Mahon said so-and-so, a statement not in accord with that published” in the Argus. When asked to produce proof of the Argus report, the Prime Minister did not put into the witness box the gentleman who furnished that report. Instead of doing that, he produced the affidavit of some one who swears that some one else told him that an elusive Mr. Kelly - “ Has any one here seen Kelly?” - was the person who was supposed to have made the report. On such evidence this House is asked to damn Mr. Mahon’s honour and reputation. I refuse to do anything of the kind on such a flimsy pretence.
Much .as I am opposed to honorable gentlemen opposite, I would not, by my vote, assist to expel the greatest Conservative amongst them upon such flimsy evidence as has been produced against the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. We do not, in the course we suggest, attempt to justify the statements which the honorable member for Kalgoorlie is alleged to have made. I am responsible only for statements which I make myself, and for statements made officially on behalf of the party to which I belong.
Any one who chooses to make statements outside that, must take the responsibility for them himself. But I am not going to condemn any man, whether he be a. member of my own party or of the party on the Government side, on a newspaper report. I ask for the honorable member for Kalgoorlie what I am prepared to give to. my greatest opponent on the other side, and it is that he should be given an opportunity to defend himself before a Court of Justice.
– If the honorable member for Kalgoorlie has been libelled by the Argus, why does he not bring an action against that newspaper?
– It is not a question of whether the Argus has libelled the honorable member for Kalgoorlie or not. What I am concerned about is that honorable members on the other side, on the strength of a report in the Argus, are prepared to expel the honorable member .from this Parliament without a trial. I am not prepared to accept evidence from so tainted a source. I am prepared to have this case brought before a Court. The Judges of our Courts are gentlemen above reproach; and, so far as I am concerned, if the honorable member for Kalgoorlie stands his trial before one of our Courts, and is convicted, he must take what is coming to him.
– There is nothing to prevent the honorable member prosecuting him criminally.
– I am not making the charge against the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. It is the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) and the party to which he belongs who are making the charge. I say that the honorable member has no right to condemn any man on the evidence which has been produced here against the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. With his long legal experience, the honorable member would not condemn a dog, or the lowest criminal in Australia, upon such evidence.
– Yes, T should - a statutory declaration uncontradicted.
– I should like to hear the honorable member defending the honorable member for Kalgoorlie in this matter. I can imagine him appealing to a. jury in the case, and pointing to the flimsy character of the evidence adduced. He would ridicule and shatter it, and no one could do it more effectively because no one knows better than does the honorable member that the affidavits belatedly produced were submitted after the verdict had been found and sentence had been pronounced.
– The honorable member knows that at the party meeting of honorable members opposite the honorable member for Kalgoorlie was found guilty and sentenced to expulsion. After they had done that, they produced their affidavits to bolster up their rotten case. That was because they had no case, and they knew that the electors of Kalgoorlie would take that view. Honorable members opposite conducted a trial at which the accused was not present. All his enemies and most bitter political opponents were there, and were gloating about how they would deal with him.
– The honorable member has no right to say anything like that.
– Let me tell the honorable member that he had no right to pass judgment on any individual before hearing the evidence against him. The Government and their supporters decided this matter behind the back of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. Did they ask the honorable member to attend their meeting to justify himself before they condemned him to political death ? They did not do so.
If members of the Country party had been longer in politics they would be able to appreciate the true inwardness of this matter. They would know that the Government are using them in order that they may have an opportunity of obtaining a majority in this Parliament without their support.
– The honorable member said that before.
– And I say it again because it is true, and the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Prowse) should know it. How often do men reckon without their host? Man proposes, but God disposes. The Government propose to-day to grab the Kalgoorlie seat for themselves, but the great Democracy of Kalgoorlie will decide that the Australian Labour party shall continue to hold that seat. When the day of reckoning comes the gloves will be off, and the mask will be torn from the face of honorable members opposite. We shall let the people of Kalgoorlie know the meaning of this move of the capitalist class to entrench themselves more firmly upon the Treasury bench. This is part of the move that was started by Sir Owen Cox and his gang when they initiated the testimonial to the Prime Minister the other day.
– Order! That has nothing whatever to do with the question before the Chair.
– These are the things which are operating in the minds of the Government, and causing them to take action to have the Kalgoorlie seat declared vacant. If the Government desired to do the fair thing, and wished to punish a man guilty of disloyalty, they would put the ordinary process of the law into operation, and make that person pay the penalty of his crime if found guilty. Is it proposed to place this honorable member on his trial, or that he should be sentenced by a Judge for the crime he is alleged to have committed ? No; but it is proposed that his seat shall be declared vacant, in order that the National party may have the opportunity of winning it. When we listened to the Prime Minister, with his pumped-up tears, we imagined that the British Empire was crumbling to dust because the honorable member for Kalgoorlie is alleged to have used certain language. What punishment is to be inflicted on that honorable member? He is to be “ outed “ from Parliament. Will it hurt him very much ? I understand he is one of the most brilliant journalists in Australia, and can earn twice as much money outside Parliament as he can inside by his professional ability; it will, therefore, be no punishment to him to deprive him of his seat in this Parliament. But it all shows that tins is purely a party political move on the part of the Government to give them the opportunity of gaining an extra seat, so that they may.not then be dependent upon the honorable member for Grampians (Mr. Jowett) having, when an important division is about to be taken, some business engagement which will take him miles away. I confidently ask honorable members to vote for the amendment.
– When this motion was submitted, I listened to the Prime Minister (Mr.’
Hughes) with an open mind; but I confess I never heard the right honorable gentleman to worse advantage. Speaking with emotion, and with the tears almost dropping from his eyes, he tried to work up a case against the honorable member for Kalgoorlie; but the only proof he could bring forward was the fact that the Argus had attributed to the honorable member certain utterances, which made him unfit to occupy a seat in this House. It’ has been said that the Age also reported the honorable member, but not in the same language. I was anxious to ascertain the real facts of the case, and when the Prime Minister declared that he was armed with affidavits, I naturally expected to hear him read that of the gentleman who wrote’ the report for the Argus. Because that would have been important evidence, for, in his place in the House, the honorable member for Kalgoorlie had stated that the Argus report was not correct in detail, and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor), who was present at the meeting - no one in the country has a greater reputation than he has for straightforwardness and honesty - could not swear that it was correct.
– But some one else can do so.
– I propose to deal with that “ some one else.” Neither the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) nor the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine), who were also present at the meeting, substantiates the report published ‘in the Argus. In the circumstances I was bound to fall back upon the evidence submitted to the House. However, the Prime Minister subsequently produced certain sworn declarations. One was from the Age reporter, which was quite away from the point at issue; but instead of the affidavit of Mr. Kelly, the Argus reporter, being presented, we were made acquainted with the fact that, in the opinion of three other gentlemen, Mr. Kelly’s report was correct, and was in his handwriting. Such evidence would not be accepted in any Court. Why has Mr. Kelly’s affidavit not been produced? The only conclusion I can come to is that he has been approached for one, but has hesitated to swear that his report of the proceedings at Richmond on Saturday was correct.
That is to say, evidently realizing that his declaration would involve the honorable member for Kalgoorlie in the loss of his seat, he has declined to swear that his report was correct.
The Prime Minister has endeavoured to bring in all sorts of side issues - the sectarian question, the Irish question, and the passions displayed, and the murders committed in other parts of the world. I do not stand for these murders or, indeed, for anything that ‘ is against Australia or the Empire. But the Prime Minister has endeavoured to fan the flame of sectarianism in this country in order that he may achieve a party advantage. I do not say that he did’ this deliberately, but he lost control of himself, and, as a result, his speech to-day was one of the worst that I have heard him deliver in this House.
The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) is a lawyer, and I wish to deal with one or two remarks which he made .this evening. In reply to an interjection, he said that it is very difficult to secure a conviction against any person who is accused of disloyalty or sedition. Why is it difficult ? Because this country allows men so much latitude in the matter of freedom of speech. And because it is difficult to secure such a conviction in the Courts of this country, the honorable member for Fawkner is prepared to allow a vote of this House to deprive the honorable member for Kalgoorlie of his seat. That is an open confession to make. The date upon the affidavits which have been quoted by Mr. Hughes is the 11th instant, and I find that honorable members opposite held their party meeting and decided to expel the honorable member for Kalgoorlie from this House upon the 10th instant. There is not an honorable member opposite who will vote against the motion. They know that they possess the requisite numbers to carry it. The motion is a party motion, and the division upon it will be a party division. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie has lived a long time in Australia, and has held- Ministerial office here. He has denied that the statements attributed to him by the Melbourne newspapers are substantially true. In this Chamber-; if an honorable member denies the accuracy of any statement with which he is credited, we are bound to accept his denial. I repeat that the Ministerial party decided at a Caucus meeting that they would expel the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, in spite of his denial. That is an unjust procedure, and consequently I have great pleasure in supporting the amendment. Who would suffer by the reference of this case to the Law Courts of Australia? .1 well remember the occasion upon which the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine) made certain statements outside of this House. What happened? He was tried before one of the Courts, which gave a decision upon the charge against him. Why should we now depart from that line of action, and thus deprive the honorable member for Kalgoorlie of an opportunity to receive a fair trial? Suppose that he did make the statements which are attributed to him. The position in Ireland to-day justifies any man who reads the reports of what is occurring there, in losing his mental balance. If I were an Irishman, and had lived in Ireland for years, I should be an extremist, because I recognise that the British Government, many years ago, lost the golden opportunity of satisfactorily settling the Irish question. I do not deny that the people of Great Britain are anxious to deal fairly with tho people of Ireland. But there are a number of men in Imperial politics who find it to their advantage to maintain religious strife in Ireland. I have always believed in the principle of Home Rule - Home Rule for Scotland and Wales as well as for Ireland. Every people should have the fullest right to govern themselves. The honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) is at present advocating the establishment of a new State. In acting thus, is he guilty of disloyal conduct? Certainly not. Upon the contrary, he is imbued with the highest motives.
– But he is not advocating the establishment of a republic.
– For quite a number of years “he may go on very peacefully endeavouring to obtain constitutional reform, but if he does not then succeed he may become just as extreme as are the people of Ireland. I entered the chamber to-day with an open mind upon this question, and was very anxious to hear the statement of the Prime Minister. Having listened to that statement I confess that Iwas disappointed. When I examined the sworn declarations which have been placed upon the table of the House, I was forced to the conclusion that the evidence upon which the motion is based is of the very flimsiest description. Having heard the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Tudor), the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine), and the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) affirm that they could not say that the whole of the report of the Argus was substantially correct, and the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Mahon) having declared that the report is not substantially accurate, I feel bound to accept their statements and to vote against the motion.
– I desire briefly to outline my position and the reasons why I intend ro vote for the amendment. Seven years ago to-night I occupied a very similar position to that which is now occupied by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Mahon). Although the charge against me was not so serious as that which has been preferred against him, it was, nevertheless, a charge by the Prime Minister of the day against the accuracy of a statement which I had made upon the public platform. I then took up exactly the same position as the honorable member for Kalgoorlie is taking on the present occasion. I held that it was not the business of the members of this House to question anything I said on the platform; that I was responsible to my constituents, and if I had committed any wrong, or had libelled the man whom I was criticising, he could seek redress in the Law Courts. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie is not responsible to this Parliament, but to his constituents; and if he breaks the law in anything he says outside, he is responsible in the Courts. At that time the present Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) was a member of the Opposition, and I should like to quote a sentence from his speech when a charge was laid against myself. He said, in 1913, as reported on page 3024 of Hansard-
There are two most important principles at stake; one is freedom of speech, and the other the basis on which our Constitution and liberties rest, namely, a fair trial for every person against whom any charge is levelled.
That is exactly the position of the Opposition to-night. We know, however, that the Ministry will not lay any charge in the Law Courts, and we have heard the reason from the only lawyer on that side of the House who has spoken in the person of the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell). The honorable member, in effect, admits that the evidence is so flimsy that there is no case for the Law Courts, and that, therefore, it is brought here, where the honorable member for Kalgoorlie has been prejudged. What an extraordinary position !
– I did not say that.
– That is the effect of what the honorable member said. I think it is disgraceful that this line of action should be taken against the honorable member for. Kalgoorlie, against whom nothing has been proved. It is admitted by one or two honorable members opposite, who have been “game” enough to speak - and one of them is intimately acquainted with the procedure of the Law Courts - that the evidence is not strong enough to convict the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. Nevertheless, his case has been decided in Caucus without any evidence, and his sentence agreed upon.’
The Prime Minister made a bitter sectarian speech to-night, but he may find that, after all, his procedure on this occasion may react on himself. I have just been through an electoral campaign in which the Prime Minister took part, and endeavoured, with the support of the Argus, to stir up sectarian strife. The electorate is by no means a Labour one, being represented in the State Parliament by anti-Labourites; but the fair-minded men and women of Ballarat, by a majority of nearly 4,000, showed their hostility to the right honorable gentleman’s methods. It is quite possible,. and, indeed, highly probable, that the electors of Kalgoorlie will take a similar stand. Surely honorable members, before they cast a vote on the motion, will ask for some further and verified evidence as to what the honorable member for Kalgoorlie did say last Sunday. We have no proof yet as to what statements he made, though at a late hour certain affidavits have been produced. There is, however, no affidavit from the reporter who took notes at the meeting and, we are told, supplied the report to the Ava us. It is remarkable that the only affidavits we have are from men who were not present at the meeting, and, therefore, did not hear the honorable member for Kalgoorlie deliver- his address. There is no affidavit from Mr. Kelly, the reporter in question, and evidently he is not prepared to make one - a fact that , ought to weigh with honorable members. If it is desired to deal justly with the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, the least that ought to be done is to call the three gentlemen who signed the affidavits to the Bar of the House, where, as in a Law Court, they may be cross-examined along with Mr. Kelly. If there is a semblance of fair play in the Minstry and their supporters, they ought to fall in with that suggestion. Personally, I think we have no right to deal with a matter which ought to be left to the constituents of the honorable member concerned, or to the Law Courts. It is the first time in the history of the Federal Parliament that a proposal has been made to expel a member, and I hope the answerby the Kalgoorlie electorate will be of such a character that it will be the last time the House will take the responsibility of saying who shall or shall not represent any constituency in Australia. The representation of a constituency is the business of the electors, and it ill-becomes a Ministry, with its majority, to take the drastic course of expelling an honorable member who is only alleged to have said certain things which happen to give offence to a certain section. Who is the Prime Minister, who is the honorable member for Fawkner, or who are any of those who dare charge the honorable member for Kalgoorlie with being disloyal? The honorable member did more in the late war than ever did the Prime Minister or the honorable member for Fawkner. Two of the sons of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie donned the uniform, and were prepared to make the supreme sacrifice in the interests of the country. The father of these two boys went through five years of suffering, as did the fathers of other- boys at the Front, and yet, on the statement of a bitter sectarian, and bitter party newspaper, the Argus, he is to be condemned as disloyal, and no longer permitted to represent the electors of Kalgoorlie in the Parliament of Australia. I honestly believe that the charge is being made against the honorable member to-night for no other reason than that he happens to belong to a church different from that to which the majority of members on the opposite side belong.
– It is my firm belief that that is the only reason why this charge is being made against the honorable member. It is hoped that by bringing up this sectarian question the capitalistic and profiteering classes in Australia will continue to divide the working classes and prevent them from voting unitedly and solidly at the ballot-box on election day. We have at least the gratification of knowing that, notwithstanding all their efforts, and notwithstanding the introduction of this question again and again, the Labour movement in Australia, and, indeed, throughout the world, stands more united and solid to-day than ever before in history. It is true that the Labour party is smaller in numbers in the Federal Parliament than it was some years ago’. Thank God we have got rid of some of those who were at one time in the movement. When the crisis came to the movement we found out those who were earnest, enthusiastic, and whole-hearted Labourites and those who were not. The latter we have got rid of, and the movement stands stronger today than ever. It will stand against all onslaughts of this character that may be made on it, or on members like Hugh Mahon, for any statements that they are alleged to have made. I do not stand up defending the statements, nor do I stand here criticising them. That is not my business. I am not here to do that. Nobody can charge me either with being a sectarian or with not having done my little bit so far as the war is concerned. My people come from the north of Ireland, and if bitterness or sectarianism are introduced anywhere they are introduced there, but to-day the numbers in the north of Ireland who are opposed to the aspirations of southern Ireland are every day becoming fewer and fewer, until Ireland to-day is almost a united nation upon the question now at issue in the United Kingdom. Only a few of the capitalistic class there are opposed to the aspirations of the Irish race. Although men may differ as to- whether the form of government throughout the United Kingdom should be republican or monarchial, the Labour movement takes up the stand that whatever change is to be brought about must be brought about by constitutional measures. Those who believe that an alteration in the form of government is essentia] should certainly have the right to use the platforms of this country to advocate their views. The Nationalist party in Australia evidently believes that they are guardians of the Empire, but they would probably be surprised to know that they give less liberty and less freedom of speech in this country in the discussion of questions of this kind than is given in the United Kingdom itself. In 1917, when the outlook of the war was very black indeed, members of the Imperial Parliament, by public advertisement, called meetings in London, and throughout England and Scotland, and formed a society with numberless branches, for the purpose of establishing a republican form of government in the United Kingdom. Yet we did not hear of the House of Commons lowering itself so far as to bring those members before the Bar, or threatening them with expulsion because they dared to advocate a republican form of government in England. That happened in England in the very midst of the war, yet no one ever heard of one of those members being brought before, or his actions discussed in, the Imperial Parliament. Quite a number of them took an active part in the movement. The President of the Republican party in England was, I believe, Mr. Arthur Lynch, who had fought against the British in the Boer War. Later on he came to Ireland, was elected a member of the Imperial Parliament, and took his seat. He is a man of whom Australia ought to be proud. He is one of the brainiest and most intellectual men who ever left Australia, but he honestly believed in another form of government. It is not for me to say whether he is right or wrong. The point I make is that, although he advocated the change while the war was on, we did not find members of the Liberal party in the United Kingdom using their majority .to threaten him with expulsion from the Imperial Parliament. Here, in Australia, where I do not think there is any party threatening the solidarity of the British Empire, and where I do not be lieve any party wishes for the breaking up of the British Empire, proceedings such as we have witnessed to-day are taken, because one man feels keenly and strongly the death of the Mayor of Cork, Alderman MacSwiney, and pours out his heart at a public gathering, in which he denounces certain murders that he alleged took place in Ireland. -Naturally he feels very warmly, having come from that country, and sympathizes keenly with the sufferings of his kith and kin in Ireland. He makes a warm speech, denouncing those who, in his opinion, were responsible for Alderman MacSwiney’s death. A garbled report is submitted to the newspapers. Only one paper, the Argus, will publish it, and upon that garbled report we are called together in Parliament, and the whole day is taken up in discussing whether we shall expel that member or whether the Government shall try him in the Law Courts. Neither the Prime Minister nor the other speakers on this question have given us the slightest evidence on which the honorable member can be convicted of making one statement that was hurtful to the British Empire. In spite of the fact that we can get no evidence, there is a solid majority opposite - a brutal majority - quite prepared to vote for the honorable member’s expulsion.
– Order! The honorable member must withdraw the word “ brutal.”
– In deference to you, sir, I withdraw the word “brutal.” I could wish that the Government did not have any form of majority upon the vote that is about to be taken. As to the Country party, which is alleged to have some democratic- members, many of whom owe their places in this Parliament to the second preference votes of the Labour party, we are finding out that whenever a crisis occurs in this House their votes always go with the National party; but they should hesitate before they vote for this motion. They ought to remember the flimsy evidence upon which we are asked to condemn the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. They should also ask themselves whether Parliament is a fit tribunal to try him.’ We are invited by the Government to put ourselves in the position of accusers, judge, and jury. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie is not afforded an opportunity to cross-examine any of the witnesses for the prosecution. “We are asked to condemn him on bare statements, which, although contained in affidavits, may, after all, be faked. During the second conscription campaign the Prime Minister .made untruthful statements, i
– Order! It is contrary to the Standing Orders to accuse an honorable member of having made untruthful statements.
– Then, I shall withdraw the word “untruthful,” and say that the Prime Minister made statements that were not in accordance with fact. He absolutely denied that a Sixth Division of the Australian Imperial Force was ever formed. “We, who were in England and France, knew that it was formed, and that every unit in it was complete. And yet men who dared, during the second conscription campaign, to say that a Sixth Division had been formed were heavily fined, and some of them were sent to gaol. In view of these facts, I am not prepared to accept any documents that the Prime Minister produces here unless we have an opportunity to cross-examine on oath those who are responsible for them.
I am going to vote for the amendment, for the reasons I have given. It is not the function of the Parliament to try the honorable member, and I do not believe that we are fitted to act as judges in the matter. The forms of the House do not permit of the necessary examination of the witnesses. If the honorable member for Kalgoorlie has broken any of the laws of the country, he should be tried by the Judiciary which was especially created to deal with offences against the law. No fairer course could be pursued. The Labour party has nothing to gain from the Judiciary. We have not had reason to be proud of the decisions of many of the Judges. Time and again we have had to question them. Their decisions have never been favorable to honorable members on this side of the House. When an ex-member of the Labour party was tarred and feathered by a few criminal returned soldiers, we saw the Judge before whom they were brought sympathize with them. We saw the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) defending them, and fraternizing with the Judge, who let them off with a fine of £5. Only a month or two later, when another returned soldier, charged with theft, was brought before the same Judge, and pleaded for leniency, he was told that he ought to have known better, and was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment. The Law Courts have never been biased in our favour, and yet we appeal to the Government to let this case go before the Courts. They may be biased in favour of the Government; but if the honorable member is brought before a Court, he will at least be able, through his counsel, to cross-examine the witnesses, and we shall then get at the truth. If he were found guilty by such a tribunal, he would automatically cease to be a member of this Parliament, and would be debarred from again becoming a candidate for any Federal constituency. He would at least have the satisfaction of knowing that he had been dealt with by a properly-constituted Court, and that he had had’ a much fairer trial than it would be possible for him to get at the hands of this Parliament. The vote tonight will be on party lines. It will not be a question of whether the honorable member is guilty or not guilty, but simply a case of the votes of the Country party and the National party being pitted against those of the Labour party.
I honestly believe that this action has been taken for the most sordid of motives. It has been taken with the object of gaining an additional seat for the National party. When the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine) was alleged to have made statements that were to a certain extent treasonable, he was not threatened with expulsion, but was haled before the Law Courts. There was no attempt to expel him, because the Government knew that even if he were expelled he would again win the Barrier - seat. They knew that the Labour vote in his constituency was overwhelmingly strong, and therefore no attempt was made to expel him. The position at Kalgoorlie is different. At the general election in 1917, the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Mahon) lost his seat; and at the last general election he regained it but not by a very large majority.’
There is on the part of the Prime Minister a strong hope that by raising the sectarian issue in Kalgoorlie the Government will be able to convert the small majority for Mr. Mahon into a majority for the anti-Labour candidate whom they will run.
– I draw attention to the want of a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
– As the Prime Minister is now present I should like him to listen to a speech which he delivered in 1913, when he was a very ardent advocate of the right of free speech. On 11th November, 1913, the present Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) moved for my suspension for two or three months because of something I had said.
– Who did that?
– You did, though I know you have been sorry for it ever since. One of the strongest opponents of the motion at that time was the present Prime Minister, who said -
I hope the House will reject the motion with a majority that will show the Government that the House is still in favour of free speech, although it may not agree with the speaker and his utterances.
But the Prime Minister said something much stronger -
There are two most important principles at stake, one is freedom of speech, and the other the basis upon which our Constitution and liberties rest, namely, a fair trial for every person against whom anv charge is levelled.
Now, that is what the present Prime Minister said in 1913, and that is what we are asking for to-night.
– What had you been doing?
– Nothing. I had simply been addressing my constituents in Ballarat, and was criticising the present occupant of the Speaker’s chair. To my surprise, when I came to the House on the following Tuesday I found that, based upon a newspaper report of my speech, I was called upon either to apologize or to suffer suspension till the end of the session. And, as I have said, one of my strongest defenders on that occasion was the present Prime Minister, who said that every person against whom a charge had been made had the right to a fair trial.
The honorable member for Ballarat - said the Prime Minister, exercised his right . as a citizen. He went down to Ballarat and made a speech. If any one is aggrieved by it the law of slander and libel remains.
And I say the same in conexion with the charge against Mr. Mahon. If any citizen of Australia is aggrieved at his utterances as reported in the Argus, he has his remedy in the Law Courts of the country. I am afraid, however, that many honorable members besides the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) realize that the evidence against Mr. Mahon is of altogether too flimsy a character to substantiate any charge, and so they are afraid to take the case to the Law Courts. They prefer to bring it before Parliament, where the majority came to a decision before Mr. Mahon was asked whether he made the statement or not. Afterwards they set about obtaining the evidence, and to-day the Prime Minister produced certain affidavits.
– Do not forget that Mr. Mahon had already told this Par-, liament to go to the devil,
– Mr. Mahon has taken up the attitude that he was responsible to the electors and to the Law Courts of the country. He denied, and, I think, rightly so, the right of Parliament to deal with him in regard to any speech made by him outside of Parliament. He said that for twenty years he had conformed’ to every rule of the House; for twenty years he had scarcely ever been called to order, and that as he was outside the House when he made the speech he was beyond the jurisdiction of Parliament, but that if he had infringed the laws of the country he was quite prepared to take what might be coming to him. Even at this late hour, the Government would be well advised to reconsider their decision. Surely honorable members opposite do not want Australia to be for ever divided by the sectarian bitterness that has crept into the political life of this country during the last few years. Surely they do not want this bitterness to be perpetuated by the expulsion of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. We ought to be above and beyond anything of that sort. The people of this country ought to be free from any sectarian differences. The man who dares to introduce sectarian strife into Australia is a criminal. Surely there is nothing worse that a man can do. The most remarkable thing about the whole business is that those who are the bitterest upon this sectarian issue never go to church at all. I would that we in Australia could fight our political battles on the merits of rival candidates, and without the introduction of sectarianism at all. As it is, political life is becoming unbearable because of the everlasting sectarian differences. So far as I am concerned, I am not for this reason at all anxious about fighting any other election. It is playing the game too low altogether to embitter the people of this fair Australia in this way, dividing homes and families; setting brother against brother, and neighbour against neighbour. Mr. Mahon, no doubt, expressed some warmth in his views as to the death of Alderman McSwiney, and perhaps he. said some things that would have been better left unsaid. I do not know what he said, and I do not justify his reported utterances ; but surely we can make some allowances for warmth of feeling on the part of a man who has been in gaol for his country, when he reads of the brutalities that are being committed in Ireland, where, no doubt, wrongs are being committed by both sides in the big struggle that is going on. Surely we can realize the position in which the honorable member for Kalgoorlie found himself, and, by the exercise of a little Christian-like spirit, the Government can withdraw the motion. If they believe that Mr. Mahon made the statements as reported, let them prosecute him with all the rigour of the law, let them get the best legal talent available, take him to the Law Courts, bring all the witnesses there, bring accuser and accused face to face. Let Mr. Mahon have an opportunity of examining and cross-questioning the witnesses, and let the learned Judge, and the twelve jurymen of his own country, pronounce a verdict. By that means, and by that means alone, will any degree of satisfaction be given the Australian Democracy. If the honorable member for Kalgoorlie is expelled, there will be a suspicion in the minds of a large section of the community that his expulsion was due simply to the fact that the honorable member happened to be an opponent of the political party which happens to have a majority in the House at the present time.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted (Mr. Tudor’s amendment) be so inserted - put. The House divided.
Majority . . . . 17
Question so resolved in the negative.
.I have listened as patiently as my temperament would permit to the speeches which have been made, and I have watched with admiration the silent and stony phalanx upon the Government benches. I view the attitude of those honorable members with real admiration. I can only hope that the day will come when I shall again witness their silent and remorseless attitude. I hope that the day will come when a Labour Government, sitting upon the Ministerial benches, will be as determined, as resolute, as remorseless and as silent as the dead to every principle as are those who now sit on the Government side of the House. There are only two honorable members - if I may exclude the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Fowler), who spoke upon general principles-r- who addressed the House from the Government side. Those two are the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) and the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell). Thi latter said, after having made his references to the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, that if there were any other honorable members as disloyal, as treasonable, and as seditious as that honorable member, and if they were only keeping silent in order to save their £1,000. he would invite them to speak up. I am not the individual or the calculating, computing animal who weighs in the balance the £600 a year of the honorable member with his practice against the man with £1,000 a year and no practice, and on that base and miserable computation judges his fellow men. I also listened to the Prime Minister, and I am prepared to accept his verdict. I am prepared to accept the statement he made ah correct. I do not know very much of Hugh Mahon. He is a cold, phlegmatic individual, and as, for that reason, he never specially appealed to me, we were not intimate friends: But 1 believe that the Prime Minister and the honorable member for Kalgoorlie were friends. I understand from the Prime Minister, also, that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie is a cold, calculating person, who has subordinated his religion, his country, his party, and everything else to his pocket. That is the Prime Minister’s statement. But he also said that on every occasion he had voted with this cold, cruel member for Kalgoorlie. This man who subordinates his principles, his religion, his country, his party, and everything else to his pocket, the Prime Minister now tells us he, on every occasion, voted with and never against him.- If it were necessary, and I were in the position of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, I think I would have been in my place to say something concerning my colleague and associate who has said that I ‘ was such a scoundrel. I would have answered the Prime Minister through the Parliament of my country. I would have said, “I am the man he says I am, and behold my companion and associate !”
I have seen what has transpired, and I have read the opinions of honorable members on their faces. I read the news- papers,’ and I have read the statements of gentlemen of intellect and education in this country, who, as some say on a wave of passion, make statements out of love for their country and their Empire. I noticed that one gentleman writing in yesterday’s paper said it was the duty of the Government of the, day to stamp out slander by every means in its power. Is it the duty of the Government to be the accuser, the prosecutor, and the judge? You gentlemen who sit behind the Government indorse that principle, while to me it is odious and base - apart from the particular question before us - to be asked to abide by such an obnoxious principle. Some day these tactics will operate against you, and you will be the victims of the doctrine which you for the first time in the history of Parliament have established. That is what you are doing, and that is what you are determined to do. Some say they are misreported in the newspapers, but if a man is misreported the onus is not upon the newspaper to prove the accuracy of the report, but it is upon the victim to prove his innocence and to show that the paper is wrong. But I leave Mr. Hugh Mahon and what he is accused of out of the question. I judge every man as I would like to be judged myself. I put myself in his place, and I want to know upon what” grounds of equity and justice this country can treat me. I would like my trial to be based on common principles of justice, and not a trial such as it is proposed to mete out to this man. It has been said that some of us are in an unfortunate position; but for my part I have no association with Catholicism or with Protestantism. I am not linked up with religious associations, neither am I connected with that Masonic order with which internationalist capitalists associate themselves. I was not born in this country; but I endeavour to be a good Australian. If I left the Old Country, it was because I felt that in this, land of my adoption I would be able to secure opportunities that were denied me in the land of my birth. So, I am Australian, so far as inclination and sentiment will permit me to be. I do not wish to introduce into this debate racial or religious pas. sions, because I believe the great Labour movement lives for something more than that. Sectarianism has now been drawn across the political trail; but during the thirty years I have been associated with the movement I have not known of a Labour Government, either Federal or State, to raise the agonizing cry. I ask honorable members to peruse the records of this Parliament, to see who were the first to introduce this question into this chamber. It is not for them, of course, to associate me with any question of that character. But, as a citizen of this country holding opinions, I am not afraid to express them. Having convictions. I seek to impress them upon others, and so I speak upon public platforms and express my opinion on the questions of the day. If I offend against the laws of my country the Government will, I presume, bring me before a properly constituted Court, where I shall have an opportunity of meeting my accusers before a Judge. But, because I am elected to Parliament, do I cease to enjoy the privileges of a private citizen ? If I have the right of an ordinary citizen, Parliament surely has not the authority to deprive me of that right. Is any honorable member opposite different from me? They are not my judges. But they say, “ You have taken a solemn oath of allegiance to your King.” Yes. But the mass of the people, who have not taken that oath, can they not be as treasonable, as seditious, and as slanderous as any member of Parliament? Do they escape their obligations to their country because they have not taken the oath of allegiance ? Their citizenship requires them to conform their conduct to the laws and institutions under which they live. Yet no man can say that a citizen has offended against those laws until he has proved it in the Courts of the country. This Parliament is not the judge of offences against the law ; it is for the Courts of the country to judge them ; and it is for the people who have elected us to Parliament to judge us. You have no ethical right to do what is proposed to be done. Your only right is that of might. I do not blame you for the exercise of that might, because in politics there are no ethics. You are; therefore, simply laying down a precedent, of which you may be the victim. I am told that we are bound by our allegiance to the. King. There was a time when men took an oath to the King to be his’ faithful vassals, to love all that he loved, and to shun all that ho shunned; and, in his’ turn, the King was bound by obligations to those whose destinies he ruled. The condition on which he held his crown was that he should stand up for them against robbery, oppression, and want; and upon the altars of his country, and and in the name of the Holy Trinity, he swore to do justice to all the estates of his realm. That was the law of England for long centuries. It passed away with the coming of the German Kings. The obligation of the vassal remained; but the obligation of the German King to the people of England disappeared. In - this Parliament am I called upon to be true to any definite principle, to uphold the rights and secure the well-being of the people, and to maintain Australian interests against all others? No. . I am called here to be true and loyal, and to give my allegiance, not to my country, not to the people,” but to the King, irrespective of his conduct, public or private. “Whatsoever he loves, I must love; whatsoever he shuns, I must shun; when his word is “Hang the Kaiser,” I must be ready to hang the Kaiser ; and when he alters his mind, and says, “ The poor Kaiser has been sufficiently punished,” I can only show my allegiance by changing my mind, too. It is on this condition alone that I can stop here and speak here. Whatever may be the conduct of the King, be he a Richard III., or a Henry VIII., with his hands steeped in gore, or cruel to his wife as was George I.; ridiculous as was George II.; mad to hie coffin like a George III. ; or moral as George IV., I must be true to him, and not to the Motherland, or to Australia, the country in which I live. Whatever he may do, I must love what he loves, and shun what he shuns. Should the fortunes of war call on me to choose between the country and the King, my oath of allegiance demands that I shall be loyal to the King, irrespective of his origin and of his conduct, otherwise I cannot occupy this position. But I am loyal and true. I love that King as I have sworn to love him. Now I ask what has any man here said detrimental to the titular head of the Empire? Nothing. What has been said has been Said about a Government,, but, because Mr. Mahon has said something about a Government, he is held to have disparaged his King. By this logic, by this code of ethics-, who- ever reflects on the chosen Ministers of the King defames His Majesty, and, by pursuing that argument, you arrive at the conclusion that no man can criticise the King’s Ministers without being liable to the punishment which it is proposed to mete out to the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. There is nothing wanting to that, but a powerful majority with the will to exercise its power. By such a majority a minority may be swept out of existence. Every tyranny that gets control of the Government may, by the exercise of the organized forces of the community, do itswill at the expense of its opponents. All that is necessary is an ordered propaganda for the doping of the public mind. The Government may protect itself behind the wall of sectarian prejudices or racial hatreds. This is the position in which we have landed ourselves at the present time. It is not for me to say whether I agree with a man’s utterances or not. There are many utterances that have no truth in them ; many things said that inflame public passion. But there is no finality in the doctrine of mutual excommunication. Behind the King stands the great mass of the toilers of the country. It is said that whoever reflects upon the country or upon its Government is guilty of treason and sedition. Do you not know that the present Prime Minister of England spoke of the people ‘of that country as rotting in poverty ? As the result of a visit to the places where they lived, he spoke of them as attuned to the slums in which they dwelt. Members pretend to regard the use of the word “ bloody “ as something awful; they shiver with horror at the application of that word to the Empire, although for centuries Empires and nations have been soaked in blood and immersed in warfare. What is the use of the term “ bloody “ compared with the odious, miserable, slow starvation and degradation of millions in the country to which it is applied ? Where is the love of country in the great ruling classes of Great Britain, or of any other nation? What can be their love for the human race, their regard for the claims of kith and kin, when, though endowed with the world’s goods, and blessed with education, and the gifts of fortune, patriotism is only a word on- their lips, and they can endure to see millions of their fellow countrymen living under conditions worse than those of the beasts of the field? That the Empire should be built on the poverty and degradation of millions is the terrible thing; mere terminology is nothing.
I say that the situation with which we are confronted this morning has nothing whatever to do with the upholding of allegiance either to His Majesty or to the Empire. It has no reference whatever to it. If the Government, and those, who sit behind them, were conscious that they had a righteous cause, and that the utterances of this man would stir indignation and condemnation in the minds of the millions of the people of this country, they might safely leave him to the condemnation of those people whom he is supposed to represent. The disapprobation of the people would be his strongest condemnation. Yet upon the utterances of a few individuals,, upon alleged reports of statements, upon so-called declarations and affidavits,, they propose to establish an iniquitous principle in this Parliament, of which no man can be sure that he will not to-morrow be the victim. It matters not that it may be a Catholic to-day or that it may be a Protestant to-morrow, an Irishman today, or to-morrow an Englishman, a member of the Labour party to-day, or a member of the party opposite tomorrow. There are no morals, no ethics, in what honorable members are doing; honorable members opposite simply make an accusation, and they are themselves the accusers., the prosecutors, the judges, and the executioners, driving this man out of the place into which he was sent by the people of this country. That is the principle which they lay down, and it must be clearly recognised. It becomes the solemn duty of every man who votes against it, not because of Hugh Mahon, or the things for which he stands and speaks, but for every man in this chamber who votes against it, because he protests against the principle irrespective of who may be the victim, to assure himself that the adoption of this principle to-day will give him the power to see that those who by its application are victorious to-day are the victims of their own odious doctrines to-morrow:
The amendment which was submitted by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Tudor) has been swept aside, and it has been clearly and definitely declared that there shall be no judge and no jury, that there shall be no calling of witnesses,, and no appropriate Court. It has been affirmed that it is the right of the majority in Parliament to exclude whom they may at any time they please. That is what has been affirmed. Now, I propose to move a further amendment.
– I move -
That the question be now put.
– May I ask you, sir, a question ?
– There can be no debate on the motion that the question be now put.
– I do not wish to debate it. I should not think of doing such a thing, but I wish to ask if any honorable member may move that the question be now put before I have finished’ my speech ?
– Yes, that question can be moved at any time.
– In the middle of a speech ?
– Thank you. I am much obliged. God help you in the future.
Question put. The House divided.
Majority . . . . 17
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question put. The House divided.
Majority . . 17
Original question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) proposed -
That accordingly the seat of theHon. Hugh Mahon; the honorable member’ for Kalgoorlie, be declared vacant by his expulsion from this House.
– I would like to hear the Prime Minister advance some cogent reasons for submitting this motion.
– It is the same thing we have been debating all through.
– But this is an entirely new motion. There are several courses which we might take. We might postpone carrying into effect the resolution just adopted by the House; but it is certainly surprising that the Prime Minister should at once move to declare the honorable member’s seat vacant. In any case, after hearing the views of honorable members, the right honorable member might reconsider the matter. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie knows the verdict of the House; but, in the interest of peace, harmony, and good-will in this community, surely this motion ought to be deferred. The moving of it now is like putting the knife in again and twisting it round in the wound.
– If the honorable member will go to Ireland and say all these things there he would do all the good in the world.
– I. will not follow the example of the Prime Minister and. talk about going to Ireland and waving the green flag. I do not believe in that sort of business. I am merely pointing out that we have already exposed the honorable member for Kalgoorlie as far as we possibly can, and I am seeking to know what good can be achieved by adopting this new motion. What will be the result of its adoption? There will be a fresh election for Kalgoorlie. The Treasurer professes himself anxious to effect economies, and yet he is prepared to spend money fruitlessly upon another election. Doubtless, the Nationalist party, the Country party, and the Labour party will each nominate a candidate for the vacant seat. There will be a bitter fight, and probably Mr. Hugh Mahon will again be returned. Bv their action, therefore, honorable members opposite will be placing him upon a pedestal.
– The honorable member does not object to that.
– But I do not desire to see the money of the country wasted in that way. What honorable member has not made mistakes during his public life?
– Mr. Mahon has not acknowleged that. Had he come here and admitted that he had made a mistake he would have received very different treatment.
Several honorable members interjecting,
– Order! Order! Order!
– Who amongst us has not made mistakes during his public life? I believe that Mr. Mahon has made a mistake. But I ask the Prime Minister to let his proposal stand over. He has vindicated the position which he took up, and I, therefore, appeal to him not to press the motion.
.I support the contention of the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Riley). Parliament has thoroughly vindicated its position, and I am not going to kick against its decision. Whilst I do not agree with that decision 1 am bound to accept it. In this time of financial stress why should we plunge the country into further financial difficulties? What will be the effect of declaring the Kalgoorlie seat in this House vacant ? It will mean that we shall plunge Australia, from one end to the other, into a very bitter political campaign, and one which will probably be conducted upon lines that are not conducive to the ‘best welfare of the people. If one may judge from the statements of the Prime Minister an appeal will be made to the baser passions of the electors - an appeal which all sane persons will regret.
– What is the honorable member’s point ?
– My point is that Parliament has already vindicated the position which it took up, if, indeed, it needed any vindication. Having done that, why should we plunge the country into the cost of another election ?
– I want an election, quick and lively.
– Probably the hon orable member does. But I am actuated byconsiderations of economy. I desire that.our public finances should be conserved. If ever there was a time when the exerciseof economy upon sane lines was necessary, surely it is now. Here is an Opportunity for the Prime Minister and the Country party, whose members were returned to this Parliament as the result of a pledge which they gave to the electors that they would insist upon the observance of the most rigid economy, to give effect to that pledge., Here is a chance for them to exhibit their bona fides. Let us see how they intend to live up to the high principles which they enunciated before the electors of this country.
– What does the honorable member think he is doing now?
– I am endeavouring to save money. At the present time I am being inundated with hundreds of telegrams from sweated public servants, who are demanding that the basic wage should be paid to them. The money which will be expended upon another election for Kalgoorlie could be much better spent in paying a decent wage to the public servants of Australia. That is why I object to this farce proceeding further.
– Order !
– If the use of the word “ farce “ is unparliamentary I withdraw the expression. I have no desire to fall within the net of the Government, probably to be “ outed,” although I have no doubt that Ministers would experience far more difficulty in winning the electorateof Dalley than they would experience in securing a victory at Kalgoorlie. They will think twice, therefore, before declaring vacant my seat or that of any other honorable member who represents a Labour stronghold. Parliament has already vindicated itself-
– The honorable mem- ber has now told us that several times.
– That does not matter.
– I think that it does. I move -
That the question be now put.
Question put. The House divided.
Majority . . . . 17 ..
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question put. The House divided.
Majority . . . . 17
Original question so resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Customs Act - Proclamation (dated 3rd November, 1920) revoking Proclamation (dated 17th October, 1917) which prohibited the exportation of pig iron, machinery, and manufactures of metals.
Customs Act and Defence Act - Proclamation, (dated 21st October, 1920) revoking Proclamations (dated 6th and 10th August, 1914, and 12th November, 1914) which prohibited the exportation of certain goods.
Public Service Act-
Appointment of D. M. Dow, Prime Minister’s Department.
Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1920, No. 209.
War Precautions Act - Regulations Amended -Statutory Rules 1920, No. 216.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes), by leave, proposed -
That the House at its rising adjourn until Tuesday next.
– I wish to know my position. Will the Prime Minister permit a discussion to take place on the threatened trouble in the coal trade? I have been waiting for some time to move the adjournment of the House to discuss the. matter, but I did not attempt to do so yesterday, in consequence of the motion which has just been disposed of. A very grave industrial crisis is likely to arise, and the House should not adjourn until Tuesday next without dealing with the matter. Shall I be in order in discussing it now, or on the motion for adjournment, if the Prime
Minister will not agree to the House meet? ing during the day for that purpose?
– The honorable member cannot discuss the question now. He may do so on the motion for the adjournment of the House.
I wish to direct the attention of honorable members to a very serious stateof affairs existing in New South Wales.
– Order! The only question before the House is the motion “ That the House at its rising adjourn until Tuesday next.” The honorable member will be at liberty to speak on the actual motion for the adjournment of the House.
– I wish to show reasons why the House should not adjourn until Tuesday. I think I shall be in order in endeavouring to show that; there are some most pressing and urgent matters which the House should consider before then.
– The honorable member will not be in order in discussing the matters to which he alludes upon this motion.
– I merely direct attention to the pressing necessity for the House meeting before Tuesday to consider very important subjects, one of which’ is: the application of the basic wage to the public servants of Australia. The question brooks of no delay. It is . too serious to be postponed until . Tuesday next, and the House should meet at a later hour to-day to consider it: The public servants should be paid the basic wage. If honorable members opposite do not believe in that, let them move the “ gag.”
Motion (by Sir Joseph Cook) agreed to-
That the question’ be now put.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) proposed-.
That the House do now adjourn.
– I am loth at this hour of the morning to prolong the sitting, and would not do so if it were not absolutely necessary. I have been waiting for two days to bring the coal mining position before the House in the hope that the Government would be able to do something, before it was too late, to obviate any industrial trouble that may arise. Some months ago Parliament passed the Industrial Peace Act. There was at that time a probability of industrial trouble in connexion with coal mining. When that Act was passed the miners, to their credit, accepted it. They said they did not want to plunge the community into industrial chaos. A Tribunal was appointed, and an award was given. It covers the whole of the coal mining industry in every State in Australia, and it is necessary that it should do so, because the Colliery Employees Federation em, braces the miners in every part of Australia, and no distinction can be made. The award must cover the whole of the employees in the industry. All members who understand unionism know that that is so. After this award was given, the Victorian Government, for some reason, refused to obey it. Consequently a good deal of dissatisfaction exists, and to-day efforts are being made to settle the matter in order to prevent the .dissatisfaction from spreading. When the Premier of Victoria was approached, it appears from reports in the press that he endeavoured to justify the position he had taken up by saying that the men employed on. the brown coal were not miners. That is no excuse at all, because the men employed on the brown coal were never classified as miners. They were before the Court, in common with every other member of the Colliery Employees Federation, which embraces, not only miners, but all hands employed in or about coal mines. Certain, rates of wages are fixed for miners, shiftmen, wheelers, clippers-on and others. The brown coal miners were placed in the. same category as men working outside of ‘the mines in other parts of Australia. They were not classed as miners, as the Premier of Victoria claims, but were awarded the lower rate of 16s. 6d. per day, whereas the miners are paid about £1 per day, or a difference of nearly 4s. The rate of 16s. 6d. is paid to every man employed in or about a coal mine, and who is not a miner. If -.that is so. why should the Victorian Government object to observe the award? If they are not satisfied with it, the proper course for them to pursue is to appeal. Instead of doing so, however, they absolutely ignore the award. In such circumstances, how can we ask the industrialists to conform to our arbitration laws ? Can we expect them to place their grievances before a Tribunal if, when it makes an award, a State Government refuses to obey it on the ground that it is not satisfactory to them? There is no excuse for the attitude taken up by the Victorian State Government. The Broken Hill Steel Works are also dissatisfied with the award, but they have taken the honorable course of paying the rates for. which it provides, pending the hearing of an appeal which they have made to the High Court. If the Victorian Government had adopted the same course, no one could have objected, but they hold that they are justified in wholly ignoring the award. This is not a good example to set private employers throughout Australia, and if it is persisted in it will sap the confidence of trade unionists in the principle of arbitration.
It is reported in the Melbourne Herald of Wednesday last that -
Mr. Arthur Robinson, the State AttorneyGeneral, stated to-day that the Government refused either to pay the Federal Tribunal’s rates or to go to the High Court. The onus was on the Coal Federation to go to the Court if it thought it had a good case.
Do honorable members think that there is oast on the Colliery Employees’ Federation the onus of going to the High Court when they have an award made by a Tribunal possessing all the power that this Parliament can confer upon it ? The Victorian State Government as the dissatisfied party should go to the .Court, but, according to the State AttorneyGeneral, it is thought to be more convenient to throw upon the employees the onus of ascertaining whether or not the award can be enforced. If the State Government is going to adopt that attitude, we can say good-bye to industrial arbitration. Doubtless, if the rates fixed, in this award had not been more than those which the men were receiving, or had been a little less, the State Government would not have taken exception to it. It is idle for them to assert that they were not represented before this Tribunal. Mr. Baddeley states that they were. In the Melbourne Herald of Wednesday last it is stated that -
Dealing with the question why the Government did not appeal to the High Court to set aside so much of the award as related, to the
Morwell brown coal mine, Mr. Robinson said that the State had protested from the beginning. It had made its position clear on that point. Not only had Mr. Hughes, the Prime Minister, been informed, but the Special Tribunal had been told. Under crossexamination by Mr. Lawson, the Premier, yesterday, Mr. J. M. Baddeley, president of the Coal Miners’ Federation, said finally that his organization understood that the brown coal mine could come in under the award. There was no such consent.
Mr. Hughes, the Prime Minister, sent a telegram direct to Mr. Hyman Herman, the former State Director of Geological Survey (continued Mr. Robinson), asking him to attend the Coal Tribunal. As Mr. Herman was an officer subject to the control of the Victorian Government, he could only transfer the telegram to the Mines Department and await directions. With the consent of Mr. Lawson, the Premier, Mr. Herman appeared before the Special Tribunal to object to the inclusion of brown coal, and one of the questions put to him by Mr. Baddeley, president of the Coal Miners’ Federation, was, “ Well, what are you here for?”
There was nothing to prevent the Coal Miners’ Federation going to the High Court if it thought it had a good case and wished to proceed in a constitutional manner, said Mr. Robinson. The onus was not thrown on the Victorian Government, ‘as it contended that it was never in the dispute in respect to brown coal.
The State Government should proceed in a constitutional manner, and should be the first to uphold the laws of the country. If they consider that the Commonwealth Parliament has no power to deal with State instrumentalities, they should appeal to the Court instead of creating further industrial trouble by refusing absolutely to recognise this award. I think it well to put on record what Mr. Baddeley has to say on this matter. In the course of a newspaper interview, he stated that -
The Prime Minister consented to convene a compulsory conference, which was held in Sydney on 17th August last. The conference was well attended, the representatives including Mr. G. H. Broom, general manager of the State coal mine at Wonthaggi. As no finality was reached at this conference, the Prime Minister suggested that both parties should go before a tribunal. The owners agreed to this proposal, with the exception of Mr. Broome, who stated that he considered that the Wonthaggi State mine and the Morwell brown coal mine should not be included. The Federation pointed out that the claims were presented on behalf of alt of the members of the Federation, irrespective of the occupation they followed, and that the Federation would not go before a tribunal unless provision was made for the members who were working in the mines in Victoria. Owing to this disagreement the Prime Minister was called into the conference to decide the question, and he stated that as the claims were made on behalf of the Federation generally, the award would apply to all members of the Federation. Mr. Broome accepted the Prime Minister’s ruling, and on this understanding the union’s representatives accepted the tribunal. Mr. Broome was present at the sittings of the tribunal, and had every opportunity of submitting his case on behalf of the Victorian Government. In addition to Mr. Broome, Mr. Herman, director of the Victorian Geological Survey Department, was also present *o represent the brown coal mine interests. He also placed the case before the tribunal on behalf of the Victorian Government.
I shall quote no more. This statement shows conclusively that both Mr. Herman and Mr. Broome were present at the conference, and practically accepted the’ finding of the Tribunal. It is true that at the outset of the proceedings they objected to its jurisdiction, but they ultimately became parties to it, and the State Government should obey its award.
As a result of their attitude, we now have the Wonthaggi Mine at a stand-still, while the Morwell Mine has also suspended operations, so that, probably, onethird of Victoria’s coal supplies have thus been cut off. Next week a meeting of the miners will be held in Sydney. What will be the outcome of it I cannot say; but, knowing the men as I do, I am satisfied that they expect the findings of this Tribunal to be observed, and if a State Government refuses to obey it they will take such steps as are necessary to protect those of their members to whom it applies. There will probably be an attempt at a very early date to cut off the Victorian supplies of coal. If that decision is arrived at, then as soon as a steamer is loaded and proceeds with its cargo of coal to Melbourne no more will be shipped. The same action will be taken with regard to the railways, so that the whole Commonwealth will become involved in the trouble. I do not know what the men will decide to do, but there is certainly grave danger ahead. I have been connected all my life with the industrial movement, and I know that the men will stand shoulder to shoulder. If they think that an injustice is being done even to only a few of their members they will stand out against it, and will strongly resent any breach of faith. Trouble will arise, and once it does arise the difficulty will be to bring it to an end. The Commonwealth Industrial Peace Act has already done good work. It has already prevented an industrial crisis, and surely the Victorian Government are not going now to bring about trouble for the whole Commonwealth because they are asked to obey the award of a Tribunal created under it. They state that to give effect to it would involve an additional expenditure of about £2,000,000, but as far as one can determine at the present time it will not involve the State Government in an additional payment of no more than £20,000 per annum. The Tribunal in deciding what rates should be paid in order to provide those engaged in the industry with the necessary comforts of life took into consideration the cost of living, and its award should be observed. The State Government ought to fall into line. ° “We have had trouble in the past with this same State Government. They gave rise to a lot df difficulty about two years ago, when in connexion with the railway dispute they sent men from here to work in the Pelaw Main mine. The result was they had a mine held up for almost two years because o’f their inability to get men. The same Government are responsible for the present state of affairs. They are not acting in the best interests of the people of this State, and are not giving a fair deal to the men engaged in the coal-mining industry of Victoria. They are not encouraging the workmen to be loyal to the awards of the Arbitration Court. As far as my union is concerned, the Prime Minister knows the men carried a resolution to do away with arbitration altogether, because they were tired of waiting for a couple of years to get a case heard. But the circumstances were altogether different. Since then Parliament has given them the machinery which they can take hold of at once, and having applied to this Tribunal they are now to be robbed of. its award by the action of the Victorian Government. I would not mind if the Victorian Government took up the same attitude as the Broken Hill Company. They are fighting the award in another way. The Victorian Government simply refuse to abide by the finding of the Tribunal, and by their action they are encouraging workmen all over Australia to do away with the principle of arbitration altogether. I appeal to the Prime Minister to do what he can to bring about a settlement of this dispute. We are responsible for the legislation, and I, along with other honorable members, did my level best to prevent a crisis. I appealed to the leaders personally, and told them that this legislation which we now have on our statute-book would give them the machinery necessary to remedy their grievances without any stoppage of work. I do not want now to have to go back to the men and say that the State Government of Victoria refuse to acknowledge the legislation and that the Commonwealth Government are impotent. It is up to this Government to exercise all the power they possess to force the Victorian Government to do the fair thing in regard to this award.
– I join with the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) in urging on the Federal and Victorian Governments the absolute need for a more reasonable attitude with regard to this important matter. In times like the present, when great bodies of men are very restive, it is exceedingly undesirable that any cause of dissension should be created by the action of any State. . There are continual complaints, that organized labour evades awards, but here we have a State Government, which, next to the Commonwealth Government, is one of the most important bodies in Aus. tralia, setting this bad example. It is not possible to overestimate the danger likely to accrue from the action of the Victorian Government in this matter. The coal miners are bound to defend their award by calling to their aid everybody who can help them, so that, if wiser counsels do not prevail during the next few days, the biggest unions in Australia may be involved in this trouble. Australia has suffered so much recently from strikes that one is amazed that a responsible Government, knowing what a dislocation of industry means at the present time - and it means more to Victoria than to New South Wales - should expose itself to the risk of having its coal supplies cut off. A dispute of any magnitude now will have a very baneful effect upon Victorian industries, and, indeed, upon the whole of the Commonwealth. I hope, therefore, that before Parliament meets again the Prime Minister will be in a position to make a statement that will allay the uneasiness that exists with regard to the situation created by the action of the Victorian Government. -
– It seems to me that the Government of Victoria. cannot be taking into account the well-being of the people, and particularly the manufacturing industries, of this State. The newspapers have been teeming with, complaints from time to time about the shortage of coal in Vic-, toria, and now we have the State Government flouting legislation designed for the very purpose of preventing industrial disputes. The question regarding the different classes of mining does not, in my opinion, come into consideration at all. The miners are willing to allow for the particular class of mining referred to. The point is that the Commonwealth Government passed legislation with a view to settling disputes, an award was ‘ given covering the whole of the men engaged in the industry, and while all other people are obeying the award except the Broken Hill mine, which has taken the constitutional course of appealing to the High Court, the Victorian Government caring not whether their coal supplies be cut off or not simply .flout the legislation, and declare they will not honour the award. .
– And the men have intimated that they are willing to allow a rehearing of the claim.
– As I ‘am reminded by my honorable friend, the Federation have given the Victorian Government a chance of a rehearing before a tribunal in respect of the men engaged in the brown coal industry in order that a satisfactory settlement may be arrived at. It appears, however, that their efforts have been unavailing. It must be patent to every honorable member that there is grave danger of coal supplies being cut off from this State within a few days, because the miners will naturally have to take some action in order to secure observance of the award. I am not going to say anything further. I understand the Prime Minister will make a statement. It is the duty of the Commonwealth Parliament to see that legislation which it passed is not flouted either by private individuals or a Government. It is now a question pf the enforcement of Commonwealth law ; of intimating that our legislation is supreme over State legislation. I hope the Prime Minister realizes the seriousness of the position, because I feel sure that, unless wiser counsels prevail, the dispute will, within a short time, spread to such an extent as to bring about a complete stoppage of the more important industries in this State.
– This dispute is going to affect Victoria very seriously. I hope the Prime Minister will use his best endeavours with the State authorities in urging them to recognise the Federal Act, which is involved, and in reminding them that the Commonwealth Government are going to see that their legislation is supreme. If the worst comes to the worst, the Commonwealth should take the State Government into the courts and there prove that their legislation is both constitutional and effective. Surely the Government of Victoria should pay the wages which have been fixed, if only in order to prevent the State from being thrown into turmoil by industries being held up and coal supplies hindered from coming in. We cannot do without Now South Wales coal, and it should be impressed on the Victorian Government that in their present attitude they are standing in their own light and in that of the people of the State.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. A statement has been attributed to me in this morning’s press having reference to the debate upon the motion for the expulsion of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Mahon). It is stated that I interjected to the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Marr), “You dirty mongrel.” I wish to say that I did not use that expression or any words of the kind. Curiously, there is reference to the incident in both the morning papers. In the A ,76 it is suggested that the remark may have been applied either to the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) or to the honorable member for Parkes. I wish to say that I did not use any such expression in the course of the debate.
– I also desire to make a personal explanation, mine heme; in support of that of the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan). I point out that’ the circumstance affords just another illustration of the inaccuracy of the press and proves how dangerous it is to take notice of statements which appear in the papers. The interjection referred to by the honorable member for Batman was used, but it was I who so expressed myself, and not the honorable member for Batman.
Mr. HUGHES (Bendigo - Prime Minister and Attorney-General [5.18 a.m.] - I quite appreciate what has been said about the coal position, but I am afraid that honorable members do not in their turn appreciate the situation of the Commonwealth Government.- It is one of extreme difficulty. I have done everything in my power to bring peace to the coal-mining industry. Our legislation has been introduced and passed, and although it was criticised in certain quarters, the Act has been accepted by the industry generally. It has, I think I may safely say, brought about more harmonious conditions than have existed for some years; but, of course, there is a fly in every pot of ointment. The Morwell coal, we are told, is not coal at all. Then wc are told further that the miners who work the Morwell coal - which is not coal - are not miners. So the question, from being one which appears to have some relation to industry, becomes a metaphysical one. All I can say is that I shall use my best endeavours to promote peace and harmony. I arn certain that I shall not do that by attempting to dictate to the Government of ‘ Victoria what they should do. I shall set out my views to the State Government, and I shall say to Mr. Lawson what I think is, in all the circumstances, the best thing to be done - but it will be for’ Mr. Lawson to say what the Government of Victoria will do.
– But where do we come in if he refuses?
– If he says, “We will shut the mine down,” what can I do? I cannot do anything. The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) does not realize, perhaps, that Mr. Baddeley is not entirely without blame. He comes over here and is reported to have said, “ If this is not done I will throw every mine in the country idle.” Mr. Baddeley very nearly got to that point with me the other morning, but, as it happened, I walked away before he had reached it. However, I support in general the views expressed by the honorable member for Hunter, and will do whatever I can to promote peace and harmony.. - Honorable members may rest assured that I will not attempt to dictate to the State of Victoria. If 1 were to do so I should expect to be told to mind my own business.
Question resolved in the affirmative..
House adjourned st 5.22 a.m. (Friday).
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 11 November 1920, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1920/19201111_reps_8_94/>.