8th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Elliot Johnson) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to know from the Postmaster- General if the contractors for the mail service between Tasmania and the mainland have asked to be relieved of their contract, or have suggested any alteration of its terms ?
– A communication has been received from them, and the matter is being considered.
– Can the PostmasterGeneral say if there has been any variation of the contract?
– We have received a communication from the contractors which is now under consideration.
Wearing of Moustaches
– Has the Assistant Minister for Defence had his attention drawn to the fact that the military authorities of Great Britain have decided that the men shall wear moustaches? I ask the honorable gentleman further whether, before anything is done in that direction here, he will give the matter consideration, and allow the officers and men to decide what they will wear?
– I do not promise to give the matter serious consideration.
Sir John Higgins’ Salary
– I wish to know, in reference to the statement of the Prime Minister yesterday, that Sir John Higgins receives £10,000 a year free of Australian income tax, whether any individual, company, or association, can make itself free of income tax? If it can be done, I should like to know how?
– I know of no way in which a man may free himself of his income tax obligations, though, of course, some one else may pay his tax for him.
– Then, the press has wrongly stated the position.
– I know nothing of that, nor do I knowanything about the salary of Sir John Higgins . beyond what I have read in the newspapers. It occurs to me that he is getting a good salary, and can afford to pay a little income tax.
– Last week the Minister for Trade and Customs promised that a report would be presented to the House giving information regarding the fruit exported from the various States this season. I ask the honorable gentleman when may we expect it?
– I am not quite sure, but I think that the information will be ready to-morrow.
Casual Workers - Closing of Business Places
– Can the Prime Minister inform me whether the casual employees of the Government in the Works and Railways Department and the. Shipbuilding Department will be paid for Anzac Day?
– I cannot answer that question off hand, beyond saying that whatever practice is followed ordinarily in regard tosuch employees and payment for public holidays will be followed in connexion with the observance of Anzac Day next Monday. The Government will treat all its servants in regard to the celebration of that holiday exactly as it treats them in regard to the celebration of every other public holiday observed by the Commonwealth. Anzac Day will be regarded by the Government as a public holiday in the full sense of the term, and I shall endeavour to let the honorable member know later exactly how the men about whom he inquires will be affected.
Yesterday, I made an appeal through the press to the employers and shopkeepers of Victoria, and particularly of Melbourne, to close their establishments on Anzac Day, so that their employees might attend theceremonies and services of that great day. I hope that every business man will show in this way that he has a due appreciation of what the day means to Australia.
– Casual employees will be paid.
– Has the attention of the Assistant Minister for Defence been called to the statement in the newspapers that the Defence Department has paid £700 or more for the removal of two trees froman aeroplane ground at Darwin? Is the statement correct ? If not, what work has been done for the money?
– I read the statement in the press, and knowing something of the so-called working men of Darwin, I was surprised that the smallest tree could be removed for the expenditure mentioned.
– A most indiscreetreply. mrparker Moloney. - It is a slur on the working men of the Northern Territory.
– The socalled working men of Darwin are the greatest Bolsheviks in Australia. I have no. hesitation in saying that. In any case, they have no votes.
Reduction of Hours
– Is the Prime Minister aware that claims in the Arbitration Court for the reduction of hours cannot be heard because three Justices are not available ? Is he also aware that, in New South Wales Judge Beeby deals with cases of this kind himself and has reduced the hours in many industries. Will the right honorable gentleman have the number of our Justices increased, or have the law amended so that thesecases can be heard by one Justice ?
– The honorable member’s question, like all Gaul, is divided into three parts, and I shall answer it accordingly. First of all Iam not aware that there is any application for a reduction of hours, which cannot be heard owing toa deficiency of Judges. All those applications which were before Mr. Justice Higgins atthe time when the Act, of which the honorable member is aware, was passed, are still before him, and he can award any hours he pleases in regard to them. It is only fair to say that although those cases have been before His Honour for, I should say, five or six months, some of them are not yet decided. My answer to the second part of the question is that Mr. Justice Powers disposed of about twenty-four eases in, I think, a little under three weeks.
– The agreements were arrived at by the men concerned. Mr. Justice Powers merely brought them together.
– What else are any of the Judges there for? Is it the idea of the honorable member that the Judge should bring the parties together and not get them to agree? My answer to the second part of the question also answers the third part.
– As the term of the Right Honorable Andrew Fisher as High Commissioner in. London expires to-day, will the Prime Ministersay whether a successor has yet been appointed, or whether any member of the Cabinet is to be selected for the position?
– The term of office of the Right Honorable Andrew. Fisher expires on the 22nd April. I have already explained to the House that the Government do not propose at the present moment to appoint any one in his place. I purpose leaving for London next week, and on my arrival there I shall endeavour to see that the interests of Australia do not suffer. On my return, the Government will make an appointment to the vacant High Cominissionership. As to who will be appointed, that remains to be seen.
– Can the Treasurer say when the Income Tax Commission will he visiting Western Australia, and when the report of that body is likely to be available to Parliament?
– I had a conversation with the Chairman of the Commission two days ago on tlie eve of his departure for Tasmania, where, I understand, the Commission is now taking evidence. I understood from, the Chairman that the Commission will proceed to Western Australia immediately after their labours in Hobart are concluded; therefore, it should not be many days before they take their departure for the West. I am as anxious as any honorable member to get the report of the Commission, because very much depends upon it, and I have urged upon the Chairman the desirability of making an early report on two or three of the very crucial questions pt issue. I know .the questions in which the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Foley), and the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory), are particularly interested, and I shall facilitate a decision upon them at the earliest possible moment.
– As section 45 of the Constitution states inter aiia -
It a senator or member of the House of Representatives …. directly or indirectly takes or agrees to take any fee or honorarium for services rendered to the Commonwealth, orfor services rendered in the Parliament to any person or State, his seat shall thereupon become vacant -
I ask the Prime Minister, in relation to a substantial gratuity which is said to have been made to the honorable gentleman, whether he will be good enough to inform the House, in order to enable it to determine whether the matter should be referred to the High Court or other competent tribunal, as to the names of the donors of this gift, and the reasons assigned by them for making it?
– The answer is “ No.”
– I desire to ask the Treasurer if the Prime Minister has paid taxation upon that sum of £25,000 which was presented to him some time ago? And, if not, why not, seeing that every other person is called upon to pay taxation if in receipt of more than £156 per annum?
– I decline to reply to these personal and contemptible questions.
– Order! It must be quite evident to the House - and it is certainly patent to myself - that a number of the questions being asked ‘ this afternoon, as “well as many of those asked on previous days, are not such as should be put to Ministers at all; and certainly they are not of such urgency that they cannot be set down upon the business-paper. I have .several times pointed out that questions without notice should only be asked on matters of great public importance, or if they have to do with matters of such urgency as not to permit of the delay occasioned by their being placed on the notice-paper. Still, as long as Ministers care to answer questions without notice, I do not feel called upon to intervene. I express the hope, nevertheless, that the practice of asking unimportant questions will be discontinued.
– By way of personal explanation,.! desire to say that when I asked my question I naturally thought it was one of great public importance, seeing that there might possibly be a chance of adding £5,000, by way of taxation, to the revenue of the country. That was my reason.
– Order ! That may be a matter of importance, but it is not urgent.
Mr. GREGORY presented the report of the Public Works Committee together with the minutes of evidence” upon the proposed extension of the General Post Office, Perth.
Ordered to be printed.
– I ask the Prime Minister how much the Basic Wage Commission’s investigation has cost, and how long it is going to continue its work?
– I cannot answer the question off-hand,’ but I shall obtain the information for the honorable member.
- Mr. Piddington having answered certain questions .asked by the Government, and such answers being totally dissented from by practically the whole of the Commissioners who represent the employees, I ask the Prime Minister whether he will call the Commission together again in .order that it may, as a body, express its views upon those questions?
– I see no reason at all for that. The position, as stated’ by Mr. Piddington, appears to me - and the honorable gentleman, I presume, is asking for my opinion - - to be unanswerable. It is supported by the statistics supplied by Mr. Knibbs, and “until those are disturbed by facts equally reliable I am not disposed to call the Commission together again. If honorable members are dissatisfied, they can make out a case; but they must show me that the facts - and I am not talking about the reasoning - as furnished by Messrs. Piddington and Knibbs are not reliable. If they are reliable, that ends the matter, and no further investigation is called for.
Prime Minister’s Departure
– Seeing that the Prime Minister has stated that he intends to’ leave for London next week, will he now inform the House exactly when and on which vessel he will sail, and will he furnish the names of the staff by whom he will be accompanied?
– No, I shall not.
– Is the Assistant Minister for Defence aware that quite a number of cadet trainees were . recently taken from West Wallsend, and had no food throughout the whole day in which they were bound, on board train, for Rutherford camp? Is the Assistant Minister further aware that on the arrival of the trainees at the camp, where it was raining, it was found that no provision had been made, and that there was no accommodation for the trainees other than the wet ground on which to sleep? Will the Assistant Minister confer with the Minister for Defence, and see that the responsible parties are punished ?
– I will see the Minister for Defence concerning the matter, and whatever steps may be necessary will be taken.
Appointment of Royal Commission
– With regard to the appointment of a Royal Commission to inquire into the scandals at Cockatoo Island Dockyard, will the Prime Minister undertake to make the inquiry as open as possible, so that every phase of the whole matter may be investigated ? I have been told that a two-story house has been built out of material purloined from Cockatoo Island. Does not the Prime Minister consider that such allegations should .be fully and openly investigated ?
– I may say that I wish I had known of the matter mentioned by the honorable member when I was building a little bit of a place up at Sassafras. However, I quite see the force of his point. I shall make the investigation open. I have reason to believe that every effort will be made to cover the whole matter up. I say that all the evidence must be taken in public; the press must be admitted ; everybody who has evidence must be allowed to give it. The only qualification I would add is that this statement is not to be regarded as a sort ‘ of permission to keep the Commission going for ever. Beyond that I make no qualification.
– There seems to be an impression prevailing, both inside and outside of the House, that the delivery of the Treasurer’s financial statement for the current year will be delayed as long as possible. Can the Treasurer now inform honorable members whether he intends to deliver his Budget statement as soon as possible after the financial year has closed ?
– I can only say at the moment that the Budget speech will be delivered at the first convenient opportunity.
– I placed on the* noticepaper a fortnight ago certain questions regarding alterations to the cruiser Adelaide. The Minister for the Navy then informed me that the information would be secured. A long while has elapsed, and I now ask the Minister to try and let me have the particulars before the meeting of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Cockatoo Island Dockyard.
– I explained to the honorable member when he first asked his questions that they involved the collection of a considerable amount of information. I was desirous that the particulars should be fully and properly secured. That accounts for the delay. I am doing everything possible to expedite the furnishing of the necessary answers.
– In view of the large number of men necessarily being discharged consequent upon the stoppage of shipbuilding activities at Walsh Island, cannot the Government even now let that yard have the building of one of the boats which are on the programme to be built at Williamstown ? I would remind the Minister in charge of shipbuilding that the works at Walsh Island were really established to carry on the Government’s programme of ship construction.
– The decision in regard to shipbuilding in Australia is that the Government are to give the work to our own two yards, and I am only carrying out that policy.
– Walsh Island is one of our yards.
– It is not.
– It is in the Commonwealth.
– We have not increased our programme of shipbuilding; but I succeeded in getting control of some of the ships which were to have been constructed in private yards, which fact has enabled me to carry on work in our own yards that, otherwise, I could not have placed there.
– Has consideration been given by the Government to the many requests made in connexion with the raising of the rates of invalid and old-age pensions? If so, what action have the Government taken ?
– I have given the matter the fullest possible consideration, and I do not see my way clear to comply with the requests made to me from all parts of Australia to increase pensions to 20s. or 30s. per week.
– You can surely give some increase.
– I have got as much on hand as I can manage just now.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The Commission advises as follows: -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice-
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– This is a matter which comes within the province of the Trade and Customs Department, which has furnished the following replies: -
” CONFERENCE “ STEAMERS.
Rates of Freight.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether the Commonwealth Government or the Manager of the Commonwealth Line of Steamers has entered into any agreement or arrangement, definite or implied, with the socalled “ Conference “Line, or other shipping combine or shipping companies, in fixing the rates of freight, coastal, Inter-State, or overseas?
– The Commonwealth Government Line has entered into no agreement or arrangement, expressed or implied, of any sort with the so-called Conference line. In. overseas, coastal, and Inter-State trade it fixes its own freights.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Representation in Parliament.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will the Government introduce a Bill this session to give the Northern Territory representation in the House of Representatives, providing that a majority of the members signify consent?
– The questionof giving the Northern Territory representation in the House of Representatives’ is at present under consideration by the Government. As I have previously stated, it is not the intention of the Government to submit any measures of legislation for the consideration of the House this session.
Acting Comptroller and Commissioners -Cigars, Imported and Manufactured
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are asfollow : -
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
How many cigars were manufactured in Australia during the year 1919-20 -
What was the amount of Excise paid -
How many persons are stated to have been employed in the manufacture of cigars during 1919-20 -
– The information is being obtained so far as possible.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether he has received any definite proposals from Mr. Theodore, the Premier of Queensland, with reference to a loan of £2,000,000 of money or any other sum for construction of railways in the Upper Burnett for soldiers’ settlements, and/or immigrants from Great Britain? If so, has the proposal been considered, and with what result?
– The Commonwealth Government have received communications from the Premier of Queensland on the subject of the State being granted a loan for the construction of railways and roads to open up areas suitable for the settlement of immigrants. The matter is at present under consideration by the Government.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
– On the 8th April, 1921, the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) asked me the following question : -
What is the annual revenue of the following post and telegraph offices: - Adelaide, Perth, Hobart, and Newcastle?
I promised the information would be obtained. The following is the reply to the honorable member’s question: -
The revenue of the following post and telegraph offices for the year ended 30th June, 1920, was:- Adelaide, £256,862; Perth, £207,000; Hobart, £78,773; Newcastle, £67,002. The three first-mentioned offices are chief offices, and include certain miscellaneous revenue such as earnings for terminal rates on cable traffic, earnings in connexion with the international transit of mails, receipts for sale of old stores, and some other miscellaneous items of revenue not embraced by the revenue at an ordinary post-office, such as Newcastle.
Mr. CORSER presented the third report of the Printing Committee, which was read by the Clerk, and agreed to.
The following papers were presented : -
Papua.- AnnualReport for Year 1919-20.
Ordered to be printed.
Defence Act. - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1921, Nos. 69, 70, 73, 74, 75, 79,80, 81.
Lands Acquisition Act. - Land acquired under, at Darlington, Western AustraliaForPostal purposes.
Public Service Act. - Promotion of J. R. Halligan, Home and Territories Department.
Treaty of Peace (Germany) Act.- Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1921, No. 78. -
Picture Film Industry - Invalid and Old-Age Pensions - Income Tax: Exemption - Arbitration Court - Public Service : Salaries - Basic Wage: Commission’s Report - Cruiser “Adelaide” - Referendum, Initiative and Recall - Lieut.Colonel Walker’s Dismissal - Military and Naval Pensions : Cases of Hardship.
Question - That the Speaker do now leave the chair, and that the House resolve itself into Committee of Supply - proposed.
– I desire briefly to direct attention to a matter of grave importance to a very large number of people in Australia, who are suffering from the effects of the pernicious operations of a Picture Film Combine, whose manipulations ought to be made public. I trust that the Government will appoint a Committee to make a thorough investigation with a view to preventing these people from carrying on as they do to-day, absolutely squeezing out of existence all Australian attempts to embark in the picture industry, and leaving Australian picture theatregoers absolutely at the mercy of American film producers. The Combine in existence to-day is known as the Australasian Film Company. Its operations are camouflaged by the use of a name which would convey to most people the impression that it is an Australian company operating an Australian industry. As a matter of fact, it is an American Combine, which does not produce one picture in Australia, but imports the larger percentage of its films from the United States of America. It has under its control almost the whole of the city picture theatres, including those of the Union Theatres Limited, Spencer’s, West’s, and J. D. Williams’, while, quite recently, an arrangement has been made whereby the new firm of J. C. Williamson and Taits are working in conjunction with this American Combine. If a showman attempts to present in Australia a purely local production, a representative of the Combine will immediately wait upon him and inform him that unless he is prepared to agree to the Combine’s terms, and give it a big percentage of the proceeds derived from the presentation of its pictures, it will refuse to supply him with a programme, so that he will have only the one picture to show. In this way, a picture showman’s business collapses, and his financial ruin is brought about. This has been going on for some while, and it is about time the matter was publicly ventilated, and action taken to stop these people.
– What would the honorable member suggest as a means of protecting our local picture film producers?
– It is imperative that we should have a very much increased import duty on films, so that the Australian producer may have a chance to compete with this American Combine.
– Does not the honorable member think that the Combine would immediately put up prices?
– The present import duty is ridiculously low, and the Combine has complete control. Last year 17,000,000 feet of films were imported by the American Combine. The members of this Combine have control of the whole of the pictures that are being shown, and unless a picture theatre proprietor will agree to their terms they will not give him a programme, with the result that he is obliged to close his doors. By way of illustration, let me cite the case of a film known as The Silence of Dean Maitland, a very fine Australian production, which did much credit to the picture film industry of Australia. The moment an attempt was made to show that picture at the Lyceum Theatre, Sydney, a representative of the Combine informed the man who was conducting the theatre that if he did not take it off they would deprive him of, the whole of their pictures, thus leaving him with only the one picture to show. The proprietor of the Lyceum refused to do this. The result was that the whole of his regular programme was withheld by the American Combine, and he had to close down. This Australian production has thus been forced out of Australia by the action of an American Combine. Today it is practically impossible to induce a showman to show it. Another illustration of. the methods of the Combine relates to the filming of that great Australian work, The Sentimental Bloke, which was written by a very brilliant young man in Australia, and arranged for screening by an Australian artist. It is one of the finest Australian productions, we have; but by the operations of this American Combine, it has been forced out of Australia. It cannot be shown here. If a showman attempts to present that picture he will be closed up, unless he agrees to the outrageous demands of the Combine.
– Have these facts been placed before the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) ?
– I do not know. I am availing myself of this opportunity’ te. place them before, not only the Minister, but the House and the country generally. It is a matter that should not be dealt’ with behind closed doors.
– Why not wait till the Tariff is before us and let us get on this afternoon with the motion relating to the Imperial Conference ?
– This is a matter affecting the welfare of the people of Australia. When the honorable member was sitting on this side of. the House he would never forgo an opportunity to ventilate public grievances. This I consider ho be a serious grievance under which an Australian industry is labouring, and I am, therefore, ventilating it to-day. Having briefly stated the facts, I shall ask the Government to take effective steps to loosen the grip that this Combine has on an Australian industry.
– The honorable member suggests that a high duty would bring about that result?
– In the first place, I would, urge the Government to appoint a Select Committee with the powers of a Royal Commission to force, if necessary, the giving of ‘evidence and to investigate the operations of the whole Combine. In this way the Government would obtain first-hand information.
– Would not- the action of which, the honorable member complains amount to a restraint of trade?
– It is a restraint of trade, but the unfortunate picture showmen are in the grip of the Combine to such an extent that if they dared to complain publicly at this stage they would be put out of business just as was the man who was showing The Silence of Dean Maitland. Picture-show proprietors are threatened that unless they agree to the terms and conditions imposed by the Combine, they will be put out of business. I am credibly informed that the Combine demands 35 per cent, of the proceeds of a picture before they will allow it to be shown. These people from America, who do nothing whatsoever towards the production of Australian pictures, practically charge Australians a licensing fee of 35 per cent, of the takings from the presentation of a picture filmed in Australia. It is about time that sort of thing was stopped, and the Government ought not to regard the position lightly. I am speaking on statements made to me by people engaged in the industry, and I should not so speak unless I was satisfied of their sincerity and reliability. Mr. Spencer was the pioneer of picture production in this country, and in ten years he and those associated with him made £400,000 out of local productions. There was no Combine in those days.
– Was all that money made out of local pictures?
– Yes. Mr. Spencer erected a studio at Rushcutters Bay, Sydney, where he produced for the screen the well-known play, The Fatal Wedding, at a cost of £400, and from its exhibition gained £18,000. I quote these figures in order to give some idea of the enormous profits which this American Combine must be making, and to suggest the dangerous power and influence they can wield over’ those engaged in the local industry. When Mr. Andrew Fisher was Prime Minister there was a duty of 2d. per foot on imported films ; but I understand that subsequently, Mr. Jensen, when Minister for Trade and Customs, under the discretion given to him by the Trade and Customs Act, reduced that duty to 1½d. By that Act the Minister for Trade and Customs is ‘given power, if he thinks a local industry cannot reasonably supply the wants of the community, to lower the duty, within certain limits, or, on the other hand, if an industry is able to meet local requirements, to increase the duty.
– Without reference to Parliament?
– Yes ; that is quite legal and legitimate under the Act, and I make no complaint on that score. From the moment that Mr. Jensen reduced the duty the Combine began to grow and increase in strength - began to get its grip on the local industry. There are many illustrations that could be given of the effects the Combine has had - how it has closed up picture shows and threatened to withhold its own productions if any exhibitor produced a local work. I have o desire, however, to labour the question. We all know that the picture industry is one that has come to stay. It will be one of the greatest educational factors in civilizations and, provided’ we have a decent type of pictures of educational value, it must do incalculable good. But the Australian community must not be left -at the mercy of an American Combine, whose sole idea is, not the education of the people, but the control of the industry, with a view to. still greater profits for itself. Such a position is not in the interests of Australia generally 7 it is certainly not in the interests of the young folk of this country that, when they visit a picture theatre, they should be continually shown American slang, which almost makes one sick to look at. Good old English, as «we know it, is quite sufficient for us, and it ought to be good enough for use at picture exhibitions; in any case, our young people ought to be taught pure languageThe claws of the American Combine must be clipped in so far as they affect this country. I hope that some of the Minister^ present will take a personal interest in this question, and direct the attention of the- Cabinet . to it, with a view to steps for the protection of the local industry, We ought to have pictures of Australian, character, to build up Australian sentiment and an Australian ideal. Let the pictures tell us something about our own country, about the problems that confront and trouble this community. America is big enough to look, after her own interests, and we ought to look after ours. I trust the Government will do something to rid Australia of the incubus of the American Picture Combine.
.- I desire briefly to support the position taken up by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony). For some years I have felt that there is need for improvement, not only in regard to the picture show industry as it affects the Tariff and the revenue, but also in regard to the pictures themselves, as they affect all classes of minds in Australia. During the short time I have been a member of this House I have noticed that when honorable members rise with a desire to ventilate -a grievance, and to emphasize the need of protection or preference for an industry in -Australia as against some institution or persons in another part of the world, they immediately suggest, “ Up with* the Tariff “ as a cure. I do not think for one moment that. if the Tariff on films were increased 100 per cent., those who are now putting foreign pictures on the Australian market would be affected one iota ; because immediately the Tariff goes up the price to the frequenters of the theatres will also go up. We had an example of this when the entertainments tax was imposed. My own opinion is that taxation of that kind is a matter for domestic legislation by the State Governments and Parliaments. It is net the picture show proprietors who pay tha* tax, because the charge for admission is now 6d., and so forth, plus the tax; indeed, it would seem that these exhibitors are able to “ fool the people,” not only “ some of the time,” but “ all the time.” When an honorable member ventilates a; subject of the kind now before us, he ought to be prepared with some suggestion of a way out of t& difficulty. We should endeavour to imbue our people with Australian sentiment, and the most effective way of bringing about an improvement in the pictures, and of increasing their effect for good, would be, not to impose a very high duty on imported films, but to cause the production of pictures in Australia. Then, if American, producers wished to keep this market, they would have to come here, and make their pictures, and we could control them, or if the Government had not the constitutional power to do so, we could appeal tol Australia for an amendment of the Constitution which would give us that power. Of course, if the duty on films is not sufficient from the revenue point of view”, I am willing to have it increased. But what I suggest for the improvement of our picture shows and the inculcation at Australian sentiment is that the picture theatres should be given notice that within twelve months at least one-fourth of their programme must consists of pictures produced in Australia; that withintwo years one-half must consist of Australian productions, and that at the end of three years three-fourths of their pictures must be locally produced. That would do more for the industry here than increasing the duty on imported films. It would benefit Australia from the money point of view, and would inculcate Australian sentiment in the minds of our young people and of our old people, too, many of whom need it as much as the young. We could also insist that at least one-fourth of the pictures in a programme should be educational. That would do away with much of the objection to picture shows. No onecan accuse me of being a wowser, yet there are American pictures being shown in Australia which I consider most suggestive, and to which I should not like to take any young woman related to me. I cast no reflection on any one, but I say that there should be a woman on the Board ofCensors. She should be a married woman who had had children. The maternal instinct of such a woman would materially assist the Board in preventing the circulation of objectionable and harmful pictures. I hope that the Ministry will give this matter their earnest consideration. I am a Protectionist, and I wish to see Australia producing pictures with Australian ideas, but we must not entirely exclude pictures from other countries, because it is necessary for our people to know what is taking place elsewhere, and to be able to compare Australian ideas with those in other countries, and thus make any little improvements that may be necessary to keep us abreast of them.
.- I desire to voice a grievance regarding the treatment of the aged and infirm of this country. According to the statement of the Prime Minister yesterday, no effort is to be made this session to improve the conditions of the aged and infirm. That statement will be a shock to the majority of the people of Australia. This is not a party matter ; it is a humanitarian matter. And, seeing how much the cost of living has increased of late years, it is surprising that Parliament permits it to go unheeded. Conferences to consider the subject have been held recently, and shire councils have considerd it. No doubt, other honorable members, like myself, have had many communications concerning it, and have been asked to use their influence to get the pension rates in creased. Yet no opportunity is to be given usto do anything. I find it difficult to realize that our old and infirm people can get along on the present pension of 15s. per week. Great injustice is done to them by not increasing the rate. It may be urged that the financial position precludes the Government from making any increase, but I believe that the people of Australia are willing to pay more in taxation to increase the old-age pensions, provided that the money thus raised shall be ear-marked for the purpose. At a conference at Hamilton, recently, many of those presentwere political opponents of the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) and myself, but they recognised that this question is above party, and that the time had arrived to relieve the destitution of the aged and infirm. The conference suggested - and I think honorable members have received a letter embodying this suggestion - that a wealth levy should be made to raise enough money to increase the old-age pension to 20s. per week.
– I am with you all the way in that.
– I am glad to hear it. The suggestion was a laudable one, because it came from men who have wealth, and will have to contribute. The Treasurer, in reply to a communication from the honorable member for Newcastle and myself, said that there are now 138,736 pensioners; that the average rate of pension per annum is £37 16s. 2d ; that the annual liability of pensions is £5, 250,000; and that an increase of 15s. per week in the rate would mean a further liability of £5,500,000. He points out further, in regard to the liberalization of the property and earning qualifications, that an increase of 10s. per week in earnings would increase the pension expenditure by £750,000. per annum. The liberalization of the property qualifications would also have a considerable effect, because only 14 per cent, are now reduced on account of property conditions. Many aged persons have a place which they let in addition to that in which they live, and they get from8s. to 15s. per week in rent; but it is to be remembered that the pension rate is reduced when the income from property exceeds a certain sum, and that the cost of living is now very high. This country is wealthy enough to provide adequately for its old and infirm. The war has, of course, severely strained our finances, and it will be a considerable time .before we can hope to obtain release from this strain, but we should not lose sight of the necessities of our aged poor. Notwithstanding the war, statistics show that the number of persons with banking accounts has increased, and that many persons now possess much more than they used to possess. The question is, should we not get money from these persons to assist the poor? Those who are wealthy should not object to being called on to assist their less fortunate brothers and sisters, who, in all probability, have had much to do with the acquirement of their wealth. It is due to’ the efforts of the pioneers of this country, who bore the heat and strain of the day, and are now infirm and aged, that others have become wealthy, and something should be done to assist these old persons. If the Treasurer finds that a majority of members favour an increase in the pension rates, will he, notwithstanding the statement of the Prime Minister, be permitted to propose taxation to recoup the increased expenditure of the Government, and thus to balance his accounts ? He should not mind who pays, so long as he can get the money necessary to increase the pension rates. If we do not deal with the matter this session, it cannot be dealt with for at least a year, and it is crying for attention. Having regard to the increased cost of everything, I wonder how the pensioners manage to get along at all. If the Treasurer would take a more favorable view of this matter, notwithstanding the present financial stringency, and allow the House an opportunity of deciding, I believe the House would agree to a more generous treatment of the old-age pensioners and to the Treasurer obtaining taxation for the purpose from some other source. I am o aware that he will not have the money at his disposal without imposing further taxation, but the people who have the money should not object to an additional impost for the sake of the aged poor.
– I can show him where he can get the money.
– I believe we could save a good deal by cutting down the defence expenditure. The time has arrived when some step in that direction should be taken. Most of us told the people, during the war, that they were engaged in a war , to end war, but the huge expenditure in connexion with defence would make it appear that we are expecting other wars in the near future. We should be able to cut that form of expenditure down to a minimum. We might be able to save a couple of million pounds in that way, and if we can do that, and expend the money in paying increased pensions to the old people, such expenditure, would be more beneficial to the country than defence expenditure, from which we get no return. It would be a good thing for the world ‘ if an understanding could be arrived at which would prevent all wars iri future, so that everybody might be employed in the production of things for the betterment, instead of the destruction, of mankind. If we can cut down our armaments and increase the old-age and invalid pensions we shall be helping the country far more than we are doing now by the heavy expenditure upon defence.
Yesterday, I made reference to the subject of income taxation, and I shall lose no opportunity of calling attention to the anomalies of the present Act. When the Act was passed in 1915 the exemption was fixed at £156, but since that time the cost of living has increased exactly 60 per cent. I said at the time that an exemption of £156 was too low, and I opposed it, but my party did not agree with me. However, if the cost of living has increased 60 per cent, since 1915, there is an unanswerable argument for the increase of the exemption to at least double what was fixed then. If we were to increase the exemption to £300 we should be doing no more than a fair thing, but, instead of increasing it, we have, in the case of single men, reduced it from £156 to £100. Every single man who earns £100 per annum clear is supposed to pay income tax, but there are many men in the country, following professions and other callings, who cannon live on £2- a week, particularly if they live away from home. Even a girl who earns her living at’ typewriting must pay income tax if she earns over £100, notwithstanding that the excess may be required to assist in the maintenance and education of other members of her family There should be but one exemption,, and it should be much higher than it is now. Action to that end should be taken at once I shall be told that we should wait for the report of the Royal Commission on Taxation.
– It will cost” £3,400 to print the Commission’s report.
– I understand that the Commission has taken voluminous evidence, and that the printing of it will be costly; but, at any rate, the Commission has a great deal of work to do, and a considerable time must elapse before it can present its report. But certain anomalies are so glaring, and amendments of the Act are so necessary, that there is no need to wait for the Commission’s report. What is to prevent the Government from introducing at an early date a short amending Bill providing for an increased exemption, pending a further amendment of the Act in accordance with the recommendations of the Commission if they are approved by the Government. There can be no escape from our duty in regard to this matter, and the Treasurer might recoup himself for what he loses in this way by increasing the incidence of taxation on the people who have large incomes. He should get the money he requires, and that is ‘the only way that he can gee it. We shall be merely doing justice to those who to-day are working for very low wages if we increase the exemption as I have suggested. The House should have an early opportunity of deciding whether or not it is in favour of such an amendment. As public men we are not justified, after three or four months of recess, in merely dealing with the Tariff for two or three months, and then adjourning for a period while certain matters of urgent public importance are awaiting consideration. The assessments for the current financial year are now being collected, and the collection should be completed by the end of June. If the Act is not amended immediately, the collection for the next financial year will be on the same basis as at present. The returns must show the individual’s income for the year ended the 30th June, and unless we act promptly every taxpayer who is in receipt of an income of over £156 will be required to furnish a return for the taxation year ending 30th June next.
– If Parliament amended the Act before the end of the session, could not the amendment be made retrospective in order to apply to the current taxation year ?
– The taxpayer makes hie return in July, and the Department issues the assessment early in the New Year. If the Act is not amended before the beginning of the new financial year, returns on the present basis will be required, and the Government will not be likely to agree to a retrospective amendment which will upset the departmental arrangements. We must either amend the Act now or leave the law to operate in its present form for the next financial year. This matter is worthy of early consideration by the House.
I asked a question of the Prime Minister to-day in regard to the delay in hearing applications for a reduction of hours owing to the inability to get three Judges in the Arbitration Court. The Prime Minister answered my question evasively. He said, in effect, that Mr. Justice Higgins would not expedite the work of cases which h3d been listed in the Arbitration Court before the amendment of the law last year, that those cases had been before the Court for a considerable time, and that, although the Judge had power to deal with them, he had not done so. I ask the right honorable gentleman whether there are not cases which do not come within that category, but which have been referred to Mr. Justice Powers, and whether it is not a fact that in consequence of the inability to get three Judges to sit together in the Arbitration Court, applications for a reduction of hours cannot be dealt with. I understand that a statement to that effect was made by Mr. Justice Powers. If that is the state of affairs, it is clear that a necessity exists for either the appointment of three Judges, or for an amendment of the Act, so that hours of labour may be fixed by one Judge. In my opinion, it is farcical to require that hours of labour shall be fixed by three Judges, when ‘ one Judge may deal with any other question. In New South Wales Mr. Justice Beeby deals with applications for a reduction of hours, but under the Commonwealth Act we place obstacles in the way of the settlement of disputes by saying that’ this question of hours of labour must be dealt with by three Judges, and then the Government omit to appoint them. Either the laws should be carried out by the Government, or they should not continue on the statute-book. How are we to maintain industrial peace. if when men bring their case before the Court in a constitutional way the Judge says, “I cannot deal with this question of hours of labour; it must be dealt with by three
Judges, and there are not three Judges.” Either the Government should give effect to the legislation passed by Parliament or Parliament should amend the law in order to permit of these applications being dealt with by either two Judges or one. We often hear bitter complaints when the workers seek redress by adopting other than constitutional methods. How can they adopt constitutional methods when we deny them the opportunity? Nobody desires industrial trouble. Throughout my life I have advised the men to adhere to constitutional means of getting justice, but how can they do that if the law provides for a certain thing which is not given effect’ to by those who administer the law?
When we were discussing the* Basic Wage Commission’s report the Prime Minister said that the Government would take temporary action pending further consideration of the matter. The Government decided to give all Commonwealth Public Servants a basic wage allowance of £12 per annum and 5s. per week for each child under the age of fourteen years, but instead of adding that £12 to the wage which the employee was then receiving they started from a basis of £196,” making the total wage £208, notwithstanding the fact that most public servants were receiving £164. Thus the difference between £164 and £196 was lost to the employees. They complained bitterly, and rightly so, because they have not received justice. Many public servants are not getting the wage to which they are entitled, having regard to the increased Cost of living. The Government employees were loyal to the country during the war period, and did their work well. Postmasters in particular did exceptionally heavy work throughout the war, and are continuing to do it, because, in addition to the ordinary departmental work, they pay the war pensions and gratuities. Yet they have received no increase in salary to compensate for the increased cost of living. The Prime Minister is responsible for the position in which he finds himself with regard to the basic wage. In the course of his policy speech at Bendigo, he said-
If we are to Rare industrial peace, we must lie prepared to pay the price, and that price is justice to the worker. Nothing less will serve.
The Government is, therefore, appointing a Royal Commission to inquire into the cost of living in relation to the minimum or basic wage. The Commission will be fully clothed with power to ascertain what is a fair basic wage, and how much the purchasing power of the sovereign has been depreciated during the war; also, how the basic wage may be adjusted to the present purchasing power of the sovereign, and the best means, when once so adjusted, of automatically adjusting itself to the rise and fall of the sovereign. The Government will, at the earliest date possible, create effective machinery to give effect to these principles.
Later the Prime Minister created the Basic Wage Commission, which reported that a weekly wage of £5 16s. was required to keep a man with a wife and three children. That recommendation rather astounded the Prime Minister, and, notwithstanding his pre-election pledge, and the fact that he appointed a Royal Commission to advise the Government, he set ‘ about devising some means of evading the Commission’s recommendation. Therefore, if confusion or dissatisfaction has resulted, the Prime Minister has nobody but himself to blame. Since the Commission’s report was submitted nothing has been done by the Government to give effect to it. We are told that the Federal Parliament has not the constitutional power to take any steps except in regard to the Commonwealth Government servants. But we have power to deal with our own servants; and why have the Government run away from the Commission’s findings? They have never paid the wage which the Commission recommended, but have undertaken to pay £4 per week and 5s. for each child. And, in order to make that appear all right, the Prime Minister stated here some time ago that he had taken the total wealth production of the country into consideration, and had found that, if the basic wage were applied, Australia would not be able to bear the burden of its application ; there would ‘not be sufficient margin to carry on. It would be interesting to ascertain exactly what figures were used as the basis of the Prime Minister’s argument. I understand that his remarks were based on statistics furnished by Mr. Knibbs for 1918. The figures having to do with that year were very much below those of 1920, because there were increases, meanwhile, in the cost of almost everything. In the period between 1918 and 1920, although it is ‘difficult to state the exact amount of the* general increase, it would probably total between 30 and 40 per- cent. In the circumstance^ it would have been only fair for the Prime Minister to take that very considerable factor into consideration so that his comparisons might bear due. weight. Another point is that Mr. Knibbs, in compiling his statistics, has taken into account only the wholesale price. How can any one thus determine the country’s full amount of production ? Mr. Knibbs takes the price of the manufacturer; and, upon the figures so compiled, the Prime Minister makes his comparisons. . The result is that they are fictitious. A very considerable sum must be added to the wholesale price, in some cases amounting even to an increase of 100 per cent. The whole position is’ unsatisfactory. The Prime Minister stated this afternoon, in reply to a question, that it was for those who thought differently from Mr. Piddington to prove the case for the establishment of the basic wage- If the Government think the basic wage cannot be put into operation without jeopardizing the welfare of the country, they should institute a fresh- inquiry. The Corn-mission was a child of their own creation. When they went before the electors the Government announced their determination to appoint the Basic Wage Commission in order to confer a living wage upon all workers; and thus they secured a great many votes, no doubt. But the Government cannot rest now. Mr. Piddington was asked to furnish an answer to the question concerning how the finding of the Commission was to be put into operation. It was a Hurried request, and he had not the time to go clearly- and’ properly into, the matter. But, in any case, were Eis figures absolutely correct? . No one could get the necessary data to-day, even from Mr. Knibbs himself, on which to work out the position. Even in relation to the cost of living. Mr: Knibbs’s statistical conclusions are not. complete, for he bases his findings only- upon certain lines of articles, and does not pretend to cover every necessary item of a household’s expenditure. One must go into every aspect. The Commission took evidence from all available sources, and not only from those who were interested from the wage, viewpoint. And,, upon the evidence- secured, its members, came to- the. unanimous decision that they should report in favour of the basic wage being £5 16si It is of no use to say that the production of this country will not stand the payment of that wage. If the Government take that attitude, as they do, they have a right to order a further investigation.
– The honorable member has been talking for about threequarters of an hour, and he has already cut up about £6,500,000 sterling.
– If the Treasurer will guarantee that the Government will deal with the basic wage during the current session, I will sit down at once.
– For every .five minutes that the honorable member con7 tinue to speak, there will be another £1,000,000 gone.’
– All I ask is justice to the workers of Australia, and to our aged and infirm. I think the Treasurer is in sympathy with those ideals, and that the only thing that baulks him from fulfilling them is the finding of the money. There are various ways, but he can certainly impose additional taxation. The fundamental’ consideration of this Parliament is the welfare of the people. If the Treasurer will indicate that the Government intend to do anything in the directions which I have just indicated, I will, say nothing further ; but,, in the absence of any- such assurance, I “ have to warn him that the time has arrived for honorable members to make the strongest protest against the possibility of Parliament adjourning without having satisfactorily dealt with the two great subjects of the basic wage and’ pensions. People with whom I talk want to know why the old folk cannot get more- than they are now receiving’. They say, quite rightly, “ You thought it was necessary to increase your salaries on account of the high cost of living. Why do not the old people get a rise also ? “ Something ought to be done. It is not sufficient for the Treasurer to say that the outlay of so much more money is involved. ‘That money must be laid out, but I realize that a way must be found’, for securing it in the first instance.While the war was in progress, manyAustralians amassed great wealth. I do not see why they should1 not be made to disgorge some of it in aider to add a little to the miserable sum which is given to our aged and infirm, and to increase, by an amount which will furnish a living wage, the weekly pay of our workers. These latter were the people who preserved our country through the years of crisis while others, safe behind their protection, became rich. I trust that, in this particular matter, I shall have the hearty support of the honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr. Austin Chapman), who has always taken a lively interest in the subject of pensions, and who, at the present time, has a motion on the business paper dealing with that matter. I am afraid, however, that it will be kept back and blocked.
– Order! The honorable member has just drawn my attention to the fact that he is discussing something which is the subject-matter of a notice of motion upon the business paper of the House.
– Yes, sir; but I am just concluding my remarks, and I took care not to allude to the notice of motion until I had arrived at that stage. I trust that the effect of what I have said will be to prompt . the Government to inform honorable members exactly what they intend to do, and when.
.- I compliment the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony)on the able way in which he brought forward the very important question of imported picture films. The present situation is a disgrace to the Government, and would be’ to any Government. It is shameful that every moving picture-show in the country should be compelled to take the imported films of a certain Combine- and these films are almost entirely American - and that, if any picture house were to display an Australian film without the permission of the Combine, the latter could withdraw its supplies, and thus ruin the offender. Such a situation should not be tolerated. The Treasurer is anxious to raise revenue. Here is a fruitful source. Why should not the picture people be compelled to pay duty on every foot of film shown every night? They are making enormous profits out of imported films. The public patronize their entertainments every night in the week. The Government need money. Therefore, why not enforce such a duty ?
– It would mean, for one thing, that the “ threepenny “ people would have to pay more for their entertainment.
– If an Australian picture production is filmed, the display should be given free of duty.
– Now you want to destroy revenue.
– No; I wish to assist the Treasurer. If he were to impose a duty of 6d. on all imported films he would raise - taking last year’s importations as a basis - about £300,000 per annum. I understand that one Combine made £60,000 out of one picture alone. Why should these people exploit the country at a time when the Treasurer is more than ever in need of money ? The members of the Combine chiefly live outside of Australia. They send their pictures here, make good Australian money, and take it out of the country.
– There should be a Committee appointed to investigate the whole business.
– Yes, and it would gather some startling information. We wish to increase old-age pensions. Here is a source from which the Treasurer could finance an increase. The Government would have the commendation of the whole community if they were to act in this way and tax the Combine films entering from the United States of America. It is a disgrace to a wealthy country, having a booming revenue, that we should not more generously assist our old and infirm.
I appeal to all honorable members to impress upon the Government the urgency of the pensioners’ case.
About a fortnight age I asked the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Laird Smith) certain questions concerning alterations to the cruiser Adelaide. It is very necessary that I should have the answers before the first meeting of the Royal Commission appointed to inquire into the Cockatoo Island Dockyard. A slur has been cast upon the workmen who have been employed on the Adelaide. It has been stated that the vessel has cost more than £1,000,000, and that it has taken some years to build her. I asked the Minister how many alterations had been made on the Adelaide, who authorized them, and what did they cost ? It ought not to have taken a fortnight to secure that information; and I cannot understand the delay, unless it has been for the direct purpose of holding back the particulars until the Commission shall have met. In the interests, both of the men concerned and of the Navy Department, the fullest information should be provided.
– I am anxious to give the honorable member the fullest particulars.
– Then, why should the Minister allow his Department to add to the delay? I hope he will immediately send along a “ chaser.”
With regard to the basic wage: This Parliament owes a duty to the public. While the wages of public servants have been increased, the workers outside have not benefited. But they were the people who demanded the basic wage inquiry, who collected all the evidence, and who fought their case before the Commission. Legislation should be introduced to give them the benefit of the decision of the Commission. If the Government are looking for further increases to their revenue by means of the Tariff I warn them that they will only gain my vote in that direction if they agree to recognise the basic wage as prescribed by Mr. Piddington’s Commission.
– To do that, there must be a sufficient margin of Protection.
– A great number of those directly concerned are already receiving adequate Protection, but they are not satisfied. They are the people who would fight aginst any reduction of hours, and against the institution of the basic wage, every time. I hope that, at an early date, the Government will introduce legislation to give to the Arbitration Court power to confer the basic wage, and also to authorize reduction in hours of labour.
The present income tax exemption is ridiculously low; but the most important factor about it is the manner in which, by the operation of the sliding scale, it totally disappears upon incomes of £500 and upwards. In this way the will of Parliament has been misconstrued. There ought to be a clear exemption of £156 on all incomes. I trust that the Government will see their way to bring in machinery whereby the basic wage will be applied. I hope that a larger exemption will be granted in connexion with the income tax, and I trust that the Treasurer will be able to derive from the picture-show Combine some profits which he may be able to devote , to the payment of increased invalid and old-age pensions.
.- I understand that on account of the fact that a motion dealing with invalid and old-age pensions appears on the businesspaper, I am barred from speaking upon them. This is merely a little bit of the fool game of politics, which serves to bring ridicule upon the House. A rule or regulation which comes to us from the old fools or fossils of the British House of Commons prevents us from speaking upon pensions because a certain motion has been placed on the notice-paper. No word of mine must be construed as being adverse to the ruling of Mr. Speaker, who holds the scales of justice evenly in this House. My condemnation lies against these fool Standing Orders that have been adopted by us even without discussion seriatim.
– Could not members on the Government side prevent the discussion of any important topic by placing a motion on the business-paper dealing with it?
– It is quite possible that by concerted action honorable members could put motions on the notice-paper, and under our fool Standing Orders we would be forbidden the opportunity of discussing the subjects covered by thorn. My tongue may be tied in the matter of asking for relief for the old men and old women of this country; but I am not prevented from speaking of the pets of the Government House push. When from a thousand platforms we asked the men of this country to go to the Front, we told them that their wives and children would be cared for. When it came to a question of the widow of a man who had been paid £30 per week, with a field allowance of 25s. per day, the Government of the day brought in a Bill to give her a gift of £4,000. Her loss may have been as heartrending as was the loss of Tom Jones, who was only getting 6s. per day. But how much are the Government paying to the children of Tom Jones ? He may have left behind him six, seven , or eight children, but the allowance his widow receives is blocked at the fifthchild. Could there be a greater infamy than the payment of £4,000 to the widow of the man who was paid £30 per week, with a field allowance of 25s. per day, while the fifth, sixth, seventh, or eighth child of Tom Jones, who was only paid 6s. per day, was expected to live on air.
Yet that ii the position, and this fool Parliament, elected by the people, who nave no power of recall, can do nothing to remedy it. If the people outside had the right of recall who would be carrying on this Tom-fool game?
I suppose that Sir Samuel Griffith was the keenest legal mind that ever came out of Queensland. I have not been able to obtain the whole of the information as to. the amount he actually received from the Government, but I am informed that in all he drew over £80,000 from the Queansland State Government, and subsequently from the Commonwealth Government. God only knows how much he received by way of allowance. That information has not been supplied. Here again I draw attention to the contrast between the treatment meted out to him and that which is meted out to the old men and women of Australia. This man with his keen legal intellect’ knew that there was no-pension attached to the post of Justice of the High Court of Australia. He had bestowed upon him the highest honour the world could confer upon a legal man, when he was appointed Chief Justice of a continent. He was paid liberally, but after he had dragged over £80,000 out of the coffers of. his country he held out his hand and cadged for a pension. At that time the Treasurer was a gentleman who now represents the void, wherever that is. At any rate, he deserted, his country and went into the void. He said, “ Yes, Sir Samuel, we will give you £5 per day.” I asked for £5 per month for my fellow men and women in their old age; in fact, I had the audacity to apply to the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt), who was then the Treasurer, for a pension for” myself. He referred me to the Commissioner for Pensions. I thanked him for his consideration, but not for sending me to an officer when he knew very well that the law would prevent me from obtaining a pension. However, I submitted my application for two reasons. I wanted, first of all, to show that there was no disgrace in applying for an old-age pension ; - secondly, I wanted a chance, to get level with the cadger for £5 per day. That gentleman’s’ portrait is in the Queen’s Hall, where he is depicted wearing a wig made from the tail of a horse. He has gone down to his. grave with a stigma on him, namely, that while every old man or old woman in this country was’ enddeavour. ing to eke out an existence on 15s. per week, he was paid a pension of £5 per day after having drawn at least £80,000 from the Government. After his demise it was left to my lips in this House to pay him the credit that I thought was due to him. I said that for the task he had performed in translating the greatest of Italian poets into English vernacular verse, if he had lost his money by speculation, I would willingly contribute to a fund to recompense him a sum equivalent to the amount I paid in income tax every year. Inquiry has showed me, however, that Sir Samuel Griffith died a wealthy man.
As I am forbidden to speak on the question of invalid and old-age pensions by the operation of an idiotic standing order, I proceed now to a brief reference to the incidence of our income taxation. An income tax properly collected and distributed is one of the most just in the world, that is, if we avoid the use of those wonderful curves which characterize our system. I have never yet met the keenest of accountants who with a pencil and paper could tell one offhand the amount of tax liable to be paid on an income of, say, £755 per year. I have never yet met one who could not tell me the amount due under the State Income Tax Assessment Act. Under the Commonwealth Act the person who makes any contributions to charitable objects is allowed to deduct whatever he pays, provided the amount he pays in this way exceeds £20. Persons can do far more good by the payment of smaller sums than £20 to those who are in need of help, and I think the taxpayer should be permitted to submit a table of the amounts he has devoted to charity .with a declaration that the amounts have been so distributed. The average man in this community will not commit perjury for the sake of robbing the Treasurer of a few sixpences in the payment of income tax. ‘Is it not contemptible that in these days of high prices a girl earning £100 per annum, or less than £2 per week, should be compelled to pay income tax? If this Parliament did its duty, it would legislate to put in gaol the profiteers who are battening on the people. When we compel a girl in receipt of an income of £100 a year to pay income tax, we should at the same time pass legislation requiring that food shall he sold at a fair price, and that all profiteers shall be imprisoned. Under the present regime, however, to be a profiteer is to be one of the most respected members of the community. The income tax as now levied is an absolute fraud. 1 think it was Gladstone who said it was the duty of a Government to make its laws so simple that the average man could understand them. The only country that has done that is France. Thanks to the genius of a great man, France has the Code N opalton, and Napoleon placed it on record in his memoirs that he had to do his level best to prevent the lawyers from making it a puzzling code. I asked an official of the Taxation Department to oblige me with a departmental readyreckoner, so that I might assist those of my constituents who pay Federal income tax, and who come to me for help in determining the amount of the tax they should pay. Later on, the Treasurer said’ that a departmental ready-reckoner which’ would enable the average individual to ascertain what tax he should .pay would be issued, but the departmental publication is such that most people are inclined to laugh at it. The taxation officials to whom I have spoken are sick and tired of the present system. ‘ A book comprising a great number of pages is necessary to explain the present Federal income tax, whereas a few lines is sufficient to explain to the people the method of assessing the State income tax. I have not been able to learn of any other country which has such an’ absurd, even if it be a highly scientific, system as that of the ‘Commonwealth. Is it not ridiculous also that we should have to pay both State and Federal income tax? Surely a law to simplify State and Federal taxation, and to secure economy in its collection, should not be treated as a party measure. Is it not absurd that we, the created thing of the pe’ople outside, are not to be permitted to deal with any business other than the Tariff during the absence of the Prime Minister in England? If the Government would agree to bring in at once a measure designed to simplify our system of taxation, and to provide for a uniform tax, I would undertake to vote for it. I am certain that the members of my party generally would assist in the passing of such a measure. Yet, because of the rules of this fool place, -called a Parliament, we must not pass any such measure, no matter how beneficial it might be, during the Prime Minister’s absence. .The rate of income tax imposed on co-operative societies, which do not .pay dividends - which do not amass capital to be hidden away or converted into shares, but exist solely to supply their own members with goods at the lowest possible cost - is also absurd and unfair.
Coming to the question of picture films, I think that every picture-show proprietor should be required by law to include in his programme at least one industrial picture or a film of travel calculated to have an educational value. I am a defender of the average picture show. I certainly have not seen any picture as vile as are some comic operas. I know of no educational influence greater than that of the picture show, and I have always resented the Entertainments Tax Act, under which a person entering a picture theatre is required to pay a special tax. The income earned by picture-show proprietors should be taxed, but it is an infamy to require every person who goes to a picture show to pay a separate tax. Imagine the passing of a law requiring the purchaser of a pair of boots to pay a special tax of Id. in respect of every ls. that the boots cost? The entertainments tax is infamous. As to the complaint that has been made in regard to the operations of an American Film Combine, we could encourage and protect the Australian filmmaking industry by requiring that an Australian film shall be included in every programme. We could also legislate to compel the ‘ Combine and others to sell their films at a stated price. If it be true that the Combine is acting in the way described this afternoon, then it is as infamous as the refusal of the millers to supply certain bakers with flour, because they would not agree to build up the price” of bread. I suppose, however, that the same old game will go on until the people, the creators of this Parliament, axe able to take a hand. God never made anything more powerful than Himself. Parliament is the only created thing of which I “know that can make itself more powerful than its creator. In my opinion it will be impossible to pub a stop to th« corruption, bribery, and fraud which is rampant in Melbourne and every other Australian city until the people obtain control by means of the referendum, initiative, and recall.
Is it not ridiculous to be told that we must deal only with the Tariff while the Prime Minister is away? If the Tariff were disposed of in a week we would go into recess, and have what some people describe as a holiday; but I would invite those who think I have a holiday during recess to come to my rooms, 513 Elizabethstreet, any Monday morning. If they do they will be quickly disabused. I want it to sink into the minds of the people, who pay for everything - from the salary of the Governor-General to the wages of the policeman - who also pay us - that they should ask those who are seeking their suffrages whether they are prepared to devote the whole of their time to the making of laws for their country, or “whether they are merely “halftimers” or “quarter-timers.” I have been trying for thirty years to secure legislative recognition of the principle of the referendum, initiative, and the recall. I have lived to see the principle adopted by the strongest fighting party in Australia, by the Australian Natives Association, and also by the Nationalist party, although they keep the fact in the background. I want to see this Parliament dominated by that principle, which it has unanimously affirmed. If the Country party follows the example of the great Country party of the United States of America, it will also adopt the principle, and with all parties in the House in favour of it it should speedily receive legislative sanction. Every honorable member, when he goes before his constituents, says, “ I shall esteem it the greatest honour to be returned as your representative - to act as your servant “ - but how many men on being elected to this House or to another place turn a somersault, and vote as crookedly as they please, “We have at all times wondered why men vote in a certain way. I think I can make a claim which cannot be. made by any other parliamentary representative under the British flag; it is that I am 4 the only member whose constituents are at liberty to remove me from my position at any moment. I glory in the fact that I had the courage to give them that power, and to leave it with them for thirty years. I would not stay here for a mo- . ment if I did not feel I represented a majority of my constituents. The referendum, initiative, and recall have cleansed away the so-called “graft” of the United States of America. Over 340 communities in America have adopted the reform, and their cities are ruled by .Commissioners subject to the recall. Every State east of a dividing line of the United States of America has it in some shape or form, and, with the exception of five of the older states on the eastern side it is to be found in operation.
– What is the chief advantage?
– The elimination of fraud,- corruption, and bribery. With the referendum, the initiative, and the recall it would be impossible to lose 5,000,000 bushels of wheat, most of which wa3 stolen, though nobody was arrested. Imagine a quantity of wheat sufficient to fill lorry after lorry from the Melbourne post-office to the Sydney post-office, and a little further on towards Newcastle, and then imagine that to be lost, and most of it stolen without anybody being punished. It is a bad state of affairs when a person who wishes to pay for flour in Melbourne or Sydney has to pay even more than the price at which it is sold to our enemies. Such conditions could not possibly pre- ‘ vail if the people generally had a real voice in the management of their own affaire, but this highly necessary reform is not ‘realized, though there is not a member here but declares that majoritiesmust rule. I came prepared to speak on. another matter, but, owing to the tricky^’ action of a man, whom I love and venerate in spite of his faults, I was thwarted. I can assure that -honorable member, however, that I shall use the forms of the House to “get level.” I hope that shortly we shall have simpler rules of debate, and, above all, that the people who pay om- salaries, and those of every public official, will have some say in themanagement of public affairs. I object to the increases in Public Service salaries that were made during the recess, for such increases ought to have the indorsement of Parliament. A man who rests in* the sunshine of a Minister rises rapidly over men equal and even superior in-.’ ability, and of far greater experience..
One man is receiving £2,000, and another £1,500 per annum, they having, been passed over the heads of men infinitely better than they. I do not know what the public servants of Australia are doing to tolerate this sort of thing. I feel certain that there is no Minister of experience who has ever witnessed such happenings in the past. However, I can do no more than protest, and say that if the press would only let the public know half of the “ fool game “ here, there would be a change; and I hope to live to see such a change made. . No matter what party occupies the Ministerial benches we shall never have proper government until the public have the controlling power. It is much to be regretted that with two parties who believe in the referendum, initiative, and recall, a measure is not introduced to carry the reform into effect, for I feel sure it would be carried by a large majority. It is also to be regretted that, simply because the head of the Government is going to England, this Chamber should be forbidden by a majority to proceed with measures of importance to the public generally.
.- I regret very much to have to address myself to a personal matter in which the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) and myself are mutually interested, and to explain my reasons for differing from that gentleman. I told the honorable member the matter was deferred; but how did I know the honorable member was going to speak? He had no right to refer to me as he did, and I resent his saying that there was a trick on my part. Those who know me be3t know that I am the last man in this House to perpetrate a trick on anybody.
– So I thought,. and so I think; but the honorable member got the best of me.
– The honorable member can make a personal explanation, or speak on the adjournment of the House. The matter to which I desire to address myself is the dismissal of Lieut-Colonel Walker, the War Service Homes Commissioner. I have here a document which was circulated among honorable members yesterday, containing a statement by the Acting Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Rodgers) of the reasons for declaring the appointment of Lieut.Colonel Walker to be null and void. I do not intend to read that document, but those who do so will find that there is no charge against Lieut.-Colonel Walker, the only reason given for his dismissal being that of his insolvency. This reason is only justified on a technicality - by a strict interpretation of the Act under which the Commissioner was appointed. As has been already explained, Lieut.Colonel Walker’s insolvency was annulled by the Court in Queensland, where the insolvency took place, and the Judge, in sympathetic terms, said that he had been somewhat badly treated. The circumstances of the case were . explained the other day. I pressed the Acting Minister for Repatriation to say whether or not there was any other reason but the insolvency of Lieut.-Colonel Walker for his dismissal”; and the document I have in my hand is an admission by the Minister that there is no other reason but the insolvency. It was in the matter of Mr. Caldwell that the honorable member for Melbourne made some remarks a short time ago. I have here the report of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts, which went specially into the case of Lieut.-Colonel Walker and Mr. Caldwell, and the proposed purchase of timber rights in the South Sea Islands. It is a somewhat exhaustive report, and I do not intend to read it ; but it completely exonerates Lieut.-Colonel Walker of anything of a questionable character.. I should like to read just one paragraph, which refers to the £5 paid, or supposed to have been paid, to bind the bargain, as it were, between Lieut.-Colonel Walker, as Commissioner, and Mr. Caldwell: -
On the 1st October, 1920, the War Service Homes Commissioner addressed the following letter to Mr. Caldwell: - “ In view of the misrepresentation by you of your rights regarding the leasing of the Pacific islands of Vanikoro and Tevai, I hereby demand the return of the sum of £5, which was paid to you by me on behalf of this Commission for an option to purchase your alleged interests in the said islands, which interests have since been proved to be bogus. Further, you are advised that, should you fail to repay the said sum of £5 to me on or before the 21st instant, such legal action as the circumstances warrant will be lodged against you without further warning.”
And this is what the Public Accounts Committee say in regard tothat -
It subsequently transpired that the payment to Mr. Caldwellof the sum of £5 had not been made. The peremptory threat to institute legal proceedings against him appears to have been an ill-chosen and belated attempt to vindicate the Commission.
I am credibly informed that it was not at the instance of Lieut.-Colonel Walker that this demand for the return of the £5 was made, but that it was made by the solicitor acting for the Commissioner - that Lieut.-Colonel Walker was not responsible in any way.
– Was the demand sent without direction?
– Apparently. As to the allegations of perjury, the report of the Public Accounts Committee completely exonerates Lieut.-Colonel Walker - exonerates him from anything in the nature of shady transactions. There is nothing in the report that, even by inference, could justify any one in saying that Lieut.-Colonel Walker has done anything improper. The report indicates, and the evidence shows, that Mr. Caldwell agreed to sell to the Commissioner a lease which Mr. Caldwell had not, and never had, in his possession. The honorable member for Melbourne, speaking the other day, said -
To produce a document which is absolutely forged, in order to ruin another Australian, is infamous. I know that the soldiers have not been treated as well as, perhaps, honorable members would desire. Any man put into a position such as that occupied by Colonel Walker ought to be of a character absolutely above reproach–
Where is the reproach against Lieut.Colonel Walker’s character? Is it the fact of his insolvency?
– No, that is not it, and you ought to know it.
– The honorable member went on - but the streets of Melbourne actually shriek at his name.
Is that correct? It is absolutely incorrect. Where is Lieut.-Colonel Walker’s name mentioned in any way discreditable to that gentleman?
– Ask Captain Burkett.
– Is Captain Burkett “ the streets of Melbourne “ ?
– It was in the streets of Melbourne, particularly Russell-street.
– Then the shrieks must have been sotto voce.
– How many hundreds of pounds settled the matter?
– The honorable member is now, by inference, making another accusation. At page 7385 of our Hansard report, he is reported to have made this statement -
It is, therefore, certain that Lieut.Colonel Walker, either deliberately or recklessly committed perjury, and the object was, as stated formally by me, to injure Mr. Caldwell.
That statement was made on the authority of a letter written tothe AttorneyGeneral by Mr. Woolf, a private letter, so to speak. The Attorney-General did not circulate it, but it became public property by the action of the honorable member in referring to it in this chamber.
– It had been circulated before that. I was not the only one who saw it.?
– I have not seen it, and I should like to know who else saw it. Now it is in Hansard.
– Only part of it is in. Hansard. I can let you see the whole of it.
– The honorable member, very illogically, added -
If Lieut.-Colonel Walker is content to pocket the statement made in the letter which I read in the House, that he is guilty of wilful perjury, I have nothing more to say.
Colonel Walker is making every endeavour to get the statement made outside the House, so that he may take steps to vindicate himself. He can do that only if the honorable member will waive his parliamentary privilege, or repeat his statement outside. This is a copy of the letter which was sent to the honorable member on his behalf -
On Thursday last, in the House of Representatives, you made statements reflecting upon the “ character of our client, Lieut.-Colonel Walker, that are as libellous, if not protected by privilege, as they are untrue. Amongst other things you said of him, “To produce a document which is absolutely forged in order to ruin another Australian is infamous,” and you make other equally serious imputations.
On behalf of our client we challenge you to repeat these statements under curcumstances freed from privilege, and we will give you plenty of opportunity to prove them. If you have not recklessly abused your position and privileges as a member of Parliament you will give our client the chance of disproving these things, or be man enough to withdraw and apologize.
Our client how courts, and always has, the fullest inquiry into his administration.
I ask the honorable member if he will accept the challenge of Lieut.-Colonel Walker, whom I have known for thirtyfive years, and against whom,Isay, no such infamous charge as that of perjury should be made without an opportunity being given to him to refute it.
– Why does not Lieut. - Colonel Walker tackle the lawyer who made the statement contained in the letter referred to by the honorable member for Melbourne?
– The honorable member knows that whoever circulates a libellous statement is as guilty as the person who first made it. Hitherto the honorable member for Melbourne has stood by the under dog.
– I desire that a man who tried to ruin an Australian should be punished if he committed perjury, as I believe, from the evidence given before the Committee of Public Accounts, Lieut.-Colonel Walker did.
– I have a copy of that evidence, and it contains no charge of perjury, or any ether crime, against Lieut.-Colonel Walker. If the honorable member is satisfied that Lieut.Colonel Walker has committed perjury, why does he not give an opportunity for his statement to be proved?
– Let Lieut.-Colonel Walker sue the man who has accused him. Mr. Woolf accused him to the AttorneyGeneral.
– The onus of circulating the charge of perjury is on the honorable member. Hitherto he has always stood for fair play, and for the vindication of those who have been injured. We have often known him to champion some one who has suffered under an injustice or an alleged injustice.
– Yes, and you have, helped me. But you do not want to help a man who is accused of perjury.
-I ask the honorable member to say outside what he has said here, or, at least, to waive the parliamentary privilege in respect of those words.
.- It seems to me that it is the intention of the Government, acting through the Repatriation Commission, to reduce gradually, but surely, the pensions of deserving war sufferers. There are other matters which
I might well ventilate, such as the need for increasing the old-age pension rate, and the reduction of the incidence of the income tax on the smaller incomes, but I shall deal now with two cases in which war pensions have been reduced, with a view to having them recorded in Hansard. During my electoral campaign, I said that history repeats itself; that many heroes of the Peninsular War, of Waterloo, of the Crimea, and of the Indian Mutiny were allowed to die in the workhouses of Great Britain, and that the further the recent war drifted behind us, the more it would be proved that our Australian soldiers needed the assistance of the Labour party. Already, there is evidence that our war victims need the help of others than those who profess to be their especial friends.
– They are getting a taste of the administration of the Labour party in New South Wales, where a Labour Government is in power.
– I am speaking of South Australian conditions, and leave it to the honorable member to deal with those of his State. No doubt, he knows of many cases of men who are not being justly treated in respect of war pensions. The first case to which I direct attention is that of a man who, after drawing a war pension for practically four years, was told that his ill-health was not due to the war, and he was thereupon deprived of his pension. When he complained of this treatment he received the following official reply: -
I have to advise you that the Repatriation
Commission, Melbourne, having considered all the facts of the case, decided that your disability was not due to war service, and cancelled your war Pension, but the Principal Departmental Medical Officer recommends that you apply for an invalid pension, as you are apparently eligible for same.
Surely, if the man’s ill-health were not due to the war, he would not have been granted the pension in the first instance. As to the recommendation that he should apply for an invalid pension, there seems to be an attempt to substitutecivil pensions for war pensions. I hardly know the object of that, unless it be that only 15s. a week can be paid by way of invalid pension, and that the war pensions are on a more liberal scale. Invalid pensions are given only to those who are incapable of earning their living. If a man who went to the Front, and for four years drew a war pension, is in such a condition that the Principal Departmental Medical Officer recommends him to try to obtain an invalid pension, the Repatriation Department should see that justice is done to him. Let me read what Gunner Yates, ex-member of this Parliament, a returned man, now, secretary to the South Australian Branch of the Labour party, writes of this case: -
I have sent him to the Repatriation Department here, also drafted a letter for him to Merry, all to no purpose, and they refuse him any redress. The man hobbles into my office frequently, and is a total wreck, although he was a strong railway navvy when he enlisted. They have granted him half cash for his gratuity, and on this he is living, and I hope that his pension will be restored to him from the time it ceased, for there is no gratitude to a man to give him something with one hand and then take it from him with the other. I personally ventilated this case at a meeting of the R.S.A., and the man continually haunts the. Repatriation Department, only to get worse treatment than Bell spoke of.
Evidentlyhe refers to the honorable member for Darwin.
The second case is a little different, but behind it is the same principle of cutting back the soldiers’ pensions, irrespective of whether or not justice is done. The man in this case was for eight months in a tunnelling company in France, and then he became ill. I shall read the ruling that has been given in regard to his pension, because I do not believe that the exofficers, who are members of this Parliamnt, will sit back and allow such a ruling to continue. The man did not appeal when his sustenance allowance was cut down, but he did appeal when his pension was reduced from £3 3s. to £11s. per fortnight. This is the reply he received from the Department -
Receipt is acknowledged of your letter of 1st July regarding the cancellation of living allowance received from this Department, which has been paid up to and including 30th June, 1920, and I have to advise that a ruling has been received from head-quarters of this Department to the effect that the Repatriation Commission has decided that men who enlisted, when advanced in years, and were discharged for pre-existing constitutional diseases, concealed or latent on enlistment, would not be eligible for sustenance, nor can the Department accept any liability in connexion with medical treatment. In view of this decision, your case was subject to review, and, under the circumstances, no further allowance can be granted youby thisDepartment over and above the war pension that you are at present receiving.
I am perfectly confident that when members of this Parliament appealed forrecruits from the platforms throughout the country, they did not say that if recruits were advanced in years, and it was later discovered that they had pre-existing diseases, concealed or latent at the time of enlistment, they would be treated differently from others.
– How do the medical officers know that the diseases were preexistent ?
– That is what I was about to ask. If the Department is to be allowed to sneak out of its obligations to these men by saying that they had preexisting constitutional diseases, concealed or latent, a way will be opened for the cancellation of many pensions which soldiers are at present enjoying. If this particular man was able to do tunnelling work in France for eight months the germs of disease must have been very much concealed or latent. Unless honorable members are prepared to see that justice is done to returned soldiers, the hardship which, under the plea of financial stringency is at present being imposed upon the old-age and invalid pensioners, as is admitted by the Treasurer, who says that he cannot find the money to do what should be done, will be extended to the men who did their duty overseas, and as time goes on that injustice will become greater unless we, as a Parliament, do our duty. I hope that honorable members who were officers during the war, and led these men through many a fight, will see that the Government do not hide themselves behind the Repatriation Commission. It would appear as if the main object of the Commission were to prevent members from gettingto close quarters, asthey did when they were dealing with the Minister, and so ena ble the Government to cloak the cutting down of the pensions.
– The honorable member has great foresight.
– I have some foresight; my first name is Moses ! At any rate, I have sufficient knowledge of the world to be aware that the great consideration in life is not to heed what the newspapers say, or the opinion of the day or the week or the month, but to look at the verdict of the century. And history, as far back as it can be traced, shows plainly that although when a war is in progress the soldier is a hero, when thewar is over he is a nuisance, and the further the war recedes in time the bigger nuisance he becomes, if he is looking for financial support or consideration from those for whom he has fought. I can see history repeating itself in the cases I have brought before the House. I am not mentioning these matters for any party purpose, because I give honorable members on the Ministerial side credit for having the interests of the returned soldiers at heart as much as I have, and I wish them to assist mo in seeing that something effective is done. Apparently because the Prime Minister is departing for England these matters are to be allowed to stand over until next year, but I know that if men had been told before they went to the war what they are being told now they would have said, as many of them are saying to-day, “ When there is another war they can have it on their own.”
. - I desire to bring two cases before the House, because for the last six or nine months I have failed to get any redress from the Departments concerned. The first case is that of Wilfred J. Hodgkinson, late able seaman in the Australian Navy. This young fellow was employed upon H.M.A.S. Australia and, during coaling operations in Sydney harbor a hawser snapped, with the result that he was severely injured. He was taken to hospital, where he remained for a considerable time, and his left arm was amputated. The boy’s mother came down from Brisbane, and later the Navy Department sought to settle all claims on behalf of the boy for the loss of his arm by the payment of £132. When the mother related the circumstances to me I told her that the boy was injured in the service of his country, as much as if he had lost his arm in the war. The Navy Department was again approached and consented to increase the amount to £198, which the mother was informed was the maximum amount that could be granted under the regulations. That amount was paid to the mother. The War Pensions Act provides that a man who has lost an arm or leg shall receive a pension of 15s. per week, or £39 per annum, so that the amount paid by the Navy Depart; merit to this young seaman is equivalent to only a five years’ pension for a bene ficiary under that Act. I mentioned the matter to the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Laird Smith), who said he was sympathetic, but sympathy does not go very far. I suggested to him that if he found it impossible to give the boy any further financial help he had a moral responsibility to find him employment. The boy was injured in the service of the Navy, and if we are to build up an Australian Navy that will be worthy of the name, we must see that those who are injured in the service of their country are adequately cared for. I claim that a paltry payment of £198 is totally inadequate compensation for the loss of an arm by a boy 18 years of age who has practically the whole of his working life before him.
– Has not the Department found a job for him?
– No. The Navy Department tried to evade all responsibility and advised the boy to apply to the Repatriation Department for employment. For months he has haunted the offices of the Repatriation Department in Brisbance, but up to the present time no employment has been found for him. His people are doing for him what they can. At present he is attending college in the endeavour to fit himself for a clerical position. In the meantime the Navy Department is sitting back and doing nothing. The departmental conscience has been salved by the payment of a paltry sum of £198, and now the authorities refuse to do anything further for the boy. I mention this case to-day because I know that every honorable member will agree that the treatment I have described is not such as should be meted out to any member of the Australian Navy. I hope that, even at this late hour, the Minister will, if necessary, annul the regulation in order that something further may be done for a boy who, when he lost his arm, was as much in the service of his country as he would have been had he been engaged in warlike operations when he sustained the injury.
– It is the Department’s duty to find work for him.
– That is my contention. The monetary compensation will serve him until a position is found for him. The Government might follow the example of the State Railway Department. Down at the dock we see a onearmed man acting as gateman. Even private employers accept responsibility for injured employees, but a great institution like the Navy Department shelters itself behind a regulation, and does practically nothing.
The other case is that of D. W. Jones, a returned soldier. Upon his return from active service he was adjudged worthy of a pension, but at the end of six months he had to submit himself for reexamination. The Medical Board pronounced him physically fit, and accordingly his pension was cancelled. But he was a Federal public servant, and when he submitted himself to the ‘ departmental medical officer he was pronounced physically unfit for re-employment. On the one hand he is denied , a pension because he was pronounced physically fit, and on the other hand he is refused Reemployment because he is said to be physically incapable of carrying out clerical duties. The records show that ever since his return ‘ from the war he has never been absent from duty except when he was ill for a number of days during the influenza epidemic. This man has applied to the Department over and over again, without success. He rightly claims either the pension or the right to work. He asks for no favours. If he is not entitled to the one he is fully entitled to the other.
– In what Department is he employed?
– He was employed in the Postmaster-General’s Department, Brisbane. His case has been brought under the notice of the Minister concerned, and of the Public Service Commissioner. A few weeks ago,, he was notified that in twelve months’ time he would have to submit to a medical examination, and that if it was then found that he was in a fit condition he would be re-appointed to his position. Pending that examination, he has been appointed temporarily in the Records Branch of the Postmaster-General’s Department, Brisbane. The young fellow is either fit or unfit. If he is physically unfit to do his work, he should be given the pension. If he is physically fit, he should be debarred from the pension, and a position found for him such as he is entitled to.
– I desire to ‘ voice my feelings regarding various anomalies which exist in respect of old-age and invalid pensions ; but I recognise that, in view of a notice of motion appearing on the business-paper of the House - to which, sir, you have already drawn .attention - it will not be competent for me now to deal with one specific phase which has my heartiest sympathy, namely, the matter of increasing the” pension Tate. Apart from that, P desire to point to certain directions in which pensioners could be relieved. The provisions of the Act are so hedged with technicalities that many people are subject to injustice because the administrating authority has. not adequate discretionary powers. I have already brought one certain matter before this House; and, since the pensioner concerned has not received the consideration to which he is entitled, I have no hesitation in again stating his case. The circumstances have to do with a young man who is suffering from tubercular complaint. For the reason that he is living at home with his parents, and that the father is earning more than f.1 per week, the young pensioner - although he has reached the age of manhood - is not permitted to benefit by the provision for an invalid pension. If he were to remove to some other residence, the pension would be given him; but, because he remains in his father’s home, where he can receive the best of treatment and sympathetic considerations, both he and his parents are penalized. This .anomaly should be removed. I wish to refer to one other matter, which I have previously spoken upon in this Chamber, and that is with respect to giving pensioners the right to earn more than they may do’ without having their pensions reduced. At pre- v sent, the earning capacity of an old-age pensioner is limited to the same amount as that which was decided -upon when the purchasing power of money was far greater than to-day, and when economic difficulties were not so pronounced. Would it not be possible for the Treasurer to relieve the hard lot of our aged and infirm by permitting a higher margin of earning capacity without reduction of pension? There are many widows who receive pensions, and who, as they get . older and feebler, find that they cannot continue to maintain their own homes.
They go to live with relatives. “Why should they not be permitted to enjoy the full amount of the rental which they might secure from their old home ? Why should there be any reduction in pension? It is manifestly unfair! I hope the Government will amend the Act so that wider discretionary powers may be given to the Department administering pensions to afford relief in the directions which I have indicated. There is also the urgent claim of blind pensioners. They should be permitted to have their full pensions as a right, and should not be penalized by the fact of their being able to assist themselves by working.
When the sum of £156 was fixed as the amount of deduction permissible in connexion with the income tax, the value of money was far different from the value to-day. Since 1915, there have been huge increases in the cost of living, namely, that what could be purchased in 1911 for £1, in 1915 required 25s. 4d., and in 1920, 35s. 8d. I do not consider that the amount of £156 exemption was adequate even six years ago; it should have been £200, at least. But it cannot be logically claimed that in 1921 an exemption of £156 is fair. The Government will be lacking in their duty if they do not take steps to relieve the position of thousands of people who are compelled to deduct, from their already inadequate earnings, a sum by way of income tax. Those who are barely receiving a living wage fail to secure exemption. Even if they had not to pay any taxes, their earnings would not provide a reasonable standard of comfort; they merely receive a wage of existence. People have come to rae in despair because of the demands of the Income Tax Department, when they cannot make both ends meet. The mothers are those who suffer the most heavily; the money coming into their homes is not sufficient to feed and clothe their families. The exemption should be increased in order to afford urgent relief. There is also this further factor, that even where the exemption is applicable, it fails to afford relief. In the case of many people, there is actually no exemption. Probably, the persons who are so favorably situated in the matter of income that the exemption disappears in their case may be regarded as being well able to afford the amount of the tax imposed upon them, but my claim is for those persons who are on the bread line. Not receiving an adequate remuneration for the services they are rendering to the community, their homes suffer and their wives and children are obliged to go without clothing, and often without food, in order to provide the amount of income tax they are called upon to pay. It is not equitable. These who are best able to afford the tax should be called upon to pay it, and those who are subject to difficulties or are in unfortunate circumstances should be relieved of the tax as much as possible. Therefore, I ask the Government to give consideration to ‘this matter at the earliest possible moment. It demands earnest consideration from those honorable members who profess to have the welfare of the community at heart.
I object to this Parliament going into recess while there is still work to be done. There are many pressing problems of a most difficult character confronting Australia, the solution of which demands that we should remain here. The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) has told us that the only business likely to be considered this session is the Tariff, and he uttered a cheap sneer at the expense of honorable members on this side who desire to work, by saying that we are “blacklegs” on our class. I have come into this House with the idea of rendering faithful service to the people who have sent me here. I desire a solution of the many difficult and complex problems that confront the people t represent, and we cannot arrive at that solution by adjourning the House. Such questions as the basic wage, the pensions of tubercular soldiers, a readjustment of the invalid and old-age pension rates, the Public Service superannuation, and other urgent matters call for legislation; and if nothing is done in these directions this year, they cannot be considered until the middle of next year. I protest against the House going into recess while there are many duties which we could usefully perform for’ the citizens of Australia remaining to be done. It is our duty to remain here and clean the business-sheet before we go into any recess1 and take the holiday which some members’ of the Ministry seem to think desirable
There has been a gross betrayal by the Prime Minister and the Government in respect to the payment of the basic wage.
In October, 1919, the Prime Minister promised an inquiry by a Royal Commission into the amount of wage that would afford to those engaged in industry in Australia a reasonable standard of comfort. That inquiry was duly made, and, as a result, the Commission presented the recommendation that £5 16s. per week was a fair and reasonable wage for a man; his wife, and three children. But immediately that report was submitted, the Prime Minister, in an endeavour to side-track it, called upon the Chairman of the Commission (Mr. Piddington) to prepare a memorandum showing how the basic wage might be paid, and whether industry could afford to pay it. That memorandum was, I understand, hurriedly prepared by Mr Piddington, but there are features of it which are certainly open to contention. Mr. Piddington was prepared to base his figures upon an amount at the point of wholesale price instead of at the point of retail consumption, but he included a great army of workers he had no right to include, seeing that he had taken the wholesale price as the basis of his calculations. The value of Australian manufactures in1913 was £161,560,000, whereas the wages paid during the same period amounted to £33,606,000. That is to say, for every £100 worth of goods £20 16s. was paid in wages. In 1918 the value of the output of manufactures had increased to £298,000,000, while the wages paid during the same period had only increased to £38,300,000. There was a comparative reduction in the amount of wages paid to the extent of £4 per £100 worth of goods manufactured. Instead of deriving an advantage the workers of Australia have during recent years suffered an actual reduction per £100 in the value of manufactures. This is a fact that should not be overlooked by the occupants of the Treasury bench.
They promised to institute this inquiry and apply the finding of the Commission to the workers of the Commonwealth, and it is their bounden duty to see that that is done. I find that the £298,000,000, which represents the value of production in 1918, represents the value at wholesale rates of the six principal items of production only, and that the wage of £5 16s. is based on retail prices. As a matter of fact, the ability of the community to pay should be estimated at the point of consumption and not at the point of wholesale prices as taken by Mr. Piddington.
– And Mr. Knibbs.
– Of course, Mr. Knibbs also. It is most important to note that the value of production for 1918 was the lowest since 1914, that since then 200,000 men have returned from the Front and re-entered industries, and that as wholesale prices have increased by 37 per cent, between 1918 and the 30th June, 1920, the value of the £298,000,000 would consequently have been £409,000,000 at the 30th June, 1920. If Mr. Piddington had based his figures on this calculation, his finding as set out in the memorandum to the Prime Minister would have been materially altered. In respect to the fixing of a basic wageand the ability of industries to pay it, it is a fair request that we should take our figures at the point of retail consumption instead of basing them on the valuesat the point of production or wholesale prices. In any case, opportunity ought to be given to the House to discuss the basic wage question fully before it rises, because we have a duty to perform to the people of Australia, who are suffering under the disability of not securing a wage that affords them a reasonable standard of comfort. What a great indictment it is upon this country to admit that its industries cannot pay a wage which will give that reasonable standard! I am desirous of fostering these industries, but unless they are prepared to give a fair return to the wealth producers I shall be reluctant to afford them that measure of Tariff Protection they request. On the 30th October, 1919, the Prime Minister said that in order to secure industrial peace we must be prepared to pay the price, which, he said, was justice to the workers. Nothing less would serve, he said. Therefore, it is now due to us to do that justice by stipulating that effect shall be given to the finding of the Basic Wage Commission. This afternoon the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) asked the Prime Minister , whe- ther he would call the Royal Commission together again and give it an opportunity of considering Mr. Piddington’s further memorandum. It was a very reasonable request that the Commission which had gone so thoroughly into all the details should be given the opportunity either of indorsing that memorandum or of declaring it to be a statement of the position that did not fairly demonstrate whether the basic wage of £5 16s. could or could not be paid by the industries of Australia. There is not, in the minds of the Prime Minister and his supporters, any desire to meet the position fairly and squarely. The right honorable gentleman, as reported in Hansard, stated last year -
One thing I do reject absolutely, and without reservation. I reject, because of its impossibility, any proposal to pay £5 16s.I reject it because it will bring ruin to the country, and ruin to every man that it is intended to benefit.
Recognising the difficulties in the shape of the high prices of necessities, with which the workers of Australia are contending, we should take steps at once to secureto them a wage that will insure them a reasonable standard of comfort. The industries in which they are employed, and whose wealth they produce, should pay them’ a wage that will give them ample opportunity to enjoy those privileges which are a fitting reward of citizenship of the Commonwealth. Our natural resources and the great potentialities of this country are such as would allow for a basic wage of, not merely £5 16s. a week, but infinitely more, provided that we had a. more equitable form of wealth distribution. I find that 82 per cent of the people of Australia secure only 15 per cent, of the wealth of the country; the remaining 18 per cent, have, in their possession, 85 per cent, of it. While that state of affairs exists I shall not cease to protest against it. It is a most inequitable distribution of wealth, and I shall avail myself of every opportunity as a member of this Parliament to stress the fact that those who are rendering faithful service to the community are not receiving their just due. It is a reflection on the industries of the Commonwealth to say that they are unable to pay such a wage as will allow of a reasonable standard of comfort being enjoyed by the workers.
– I move. -
That the debate be now adjourned.
May I say that I do not want to deprive my honorable friends opposite of any time, and that I shall be quite prepared to give them, next Thursday, the equivalent of the time they will lose by the adjournment of the debate at this stage.
Question - That the debate be now adjourned - put. The House divided.
Majority . . . . 21
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 20th April (vide page 7548), on motion by Mr. Hughes -
That the paper - League of Nations - Mandate for German Possessions in the Pacific Ocean situated south of the Equator, other than German Samoa and Nauru - be printed.
.- It was somewhat unfortunate that I had to address myself to this question last evening at the end of the political crisis–
– At the end of a perfect day.
– At the end of a perfect day in so far as the prospect of a general election before its due time was concerned. When the debate was adjourned last night, I was referring to the desire of Great Britain and Japan to renew the Anglo-Japanese Treaty in a form that would be acceptable to the League of Nations. I took the view that it was impossible that an Anglo-Japanese Treaty, such as would be acceptable to the League” of Nations, would be unacceptable to the United States of America. I find that the general Arbitration Treaty, which was signed on 3rd August, 1911, was, as the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine) interjected last night, not ratified by the Senate.
– So that clause 4 is not a saving clause.
– I would not say that clause 4 of the Anglo-Japanese Agreement is not a saving one, since the Senate of the United States of America did ratify an arbitration agreement with Great Britain.
– But not a general arbitration agreement.
– It ratified, in 1918, the renewal for a period of five years of an arbitration agreement between Great Britain and the United States of America, which was signed on 4th April, 1908.
– With what exemptions?
– I freelyadmit that there were a considerable number of exemptions. I am sure honorable members will not argue that because of certain exceptions to the Treaty of 4th April, 1908, which has been renewed for five years as from 1918, there is any likelihood of the United States of America ever going to war with Great Britain.
– I think there is a big probability of that very shortly.
– The question is whether it will be obligatory on Britain to go to war against the United States of America in support of Japan.
– According to clause 4 of the Anglo- Japanese Treaty it is provided that either party entering into a general arbitration agreement with another power is not called upon to go to war with that power.
– There is no general arbitration agreement.
– To all intents and purposes the agreement of 1918 is a general arbitration agreement between Great Britain and the United States of America. The honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine) believes that the United States of America will be at war with Great Britain in a very short time, but I think there are very few people in Australia who agree with him.
– It is dead certain that Australia will not go to war with America !
– There is just as much good feeling between the people of Australia and the people of the United States of America as there is between Britons and Americans. I was saying that, in my opinion, the League of Nations ought to be supported by all honorable members; and I hope the time is not far distant when the maintenance of the League will find a’ place on the platform of every political party in Australia. I suggest to my former friends of the Official Labour party that they should, at the earliest opportunity, place on their platform the plank, “ Maintenance of the League of Nations.”
– I hope the Labour party will not be so silly !
– If there is anyhope in the world for the ideals aimed atby the sane and moderate men of the Official Labour party it is in the League of Nations. I regard the League as a means whereby the necessity fora huge Imperial naval expenditure may at least be reduced, if not avoided altogether.
I have no wish whatever to weaken the ties of kinship between Great Britain and Australia. I am so anxious that those ties should be strengthened that I am prepared to vote for the appointment to London of a resident Minister from the Commonwealth. I hope there will be an Imperial Board, Committee, or Council, whatever It may be called, of resident Ministers in London representing the Dominions and Great Britain, the resident Ministers to also occupy the position of delegates to the League of Nations. It is extremely necessary that we should appoint a representative to the League. Honorable members will have observed that the; Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) said the other day that our contribution to the League is about £44,000 per annum.
– It is too much!
– It is a large sum, for the, reason that we demand the same voting power as any other State. I am quite in accord with Senator Millen’s proposal that there should be some more equitable distribution of the expenses of the League. Those expenses, I think, ought to be borne more on a per capita basis, so that the larger nations may pay their due share, and not expect a small State, with a population of 5,000,000, to pay as large a sum as they. If some honorable members take exception to the contribution of £44,000 as being too large, how does that sum compare with the millions of money we shall have to spend on military and naval defence if the League of Nations does not turn out a success.
– If the League of Nations is effective, it would be a small sum for us to pay.
– The object of all should be to make the League a success. I believe Imperial Federation to be quite impracticable. I cannot imagine that the Commonwealth would agree to surrender any of its powers in the making of laws for the peace and good order of the Commonwealth to an Imperial Parliament sititng, say, in London, thousands of miles. away.
I come now to a most important part of the Prime Minister’s speech, in which he said -
Quite recently a statement was made by the British Government of most portentous character, so far as Australia is concerned. It was that Britain was no longer able to maintain the Navy at the strength necessary for the complete protection of the Empire, and the Dominions must do their share. . . .
We are confronted with a position grave in the extreme. What are we to do? What is our policy to be? We depend for our very existence on the maintenan’ce of the control of the sea by Britain. Britain says she can no longer afford to maintain the Navy at its relative pre-war strength, and calls upon the Dominions to consider the question, and presumably to contribute their share.
I shall be glad to hear what the Prime Minister has in his mind. Is it a contribution in money,., in kind, or in men? The late Lord Forrest, when the matter was discussed many years ago, said he thought we ought to contribute £5,000,000 per annum to the expenses of the British Navy. This question of a contribution is a most delicate matter) on a par with a discussion between father and son as to the future upkeep of a home. I am not prepared to say offhand what our contribution should be. We ought to bear our due share in the defence of the Empire; but I certainly feel that the Imperial Conference should have brought to its knowledge what the public debt of Australia is - what our obligations are. The right honorable the Prime Minister will, of course, do that. The States of Australia, on the 30th June, 1919, according to the Budget papers presented by the Treasurer, in September last, owed £400,576,535, while the public debt of the Commonwealth was £381,415,316. Since then we have been borrowing more money, and I imagine that at the present time, in round figures, the public debt of Australia, State and Federal, is in the region of £800,000,000. We are still borrowing to pay our way; that is to say, we do not collect enough money in the way of revenue to pay our debts, and we continue, ,and we shall have to continue for some time, to borrow.
– Not to pay annual expenditure, but to .pay loans.
– We shall have to borrow to pay our annual expenditure, and to meet our war obligations, and every £20,000,000 borrowed necessitates our being prepared to pay at least £1,000,000 annually interest for a number of years.
In the Estimates of receipts and expenditure for the year ending 30th June, 1921, there is a comparison of the Estimates, of 1920-21 with the actual revenue and expenditure of i919-20.- From that we learn, under the heading of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, that the estimated receipts for this year are: -
That does not include certain war services, which are to be paid out of loans. On the expenditure side -
But there are war services to be paid out of loan funds, and the money will be raised in this way -
If we add the expenditure out of our ordinary receipts, the money to be raised for war services, and the money to be raised for works, we get the following: -
Although this is a peace year we are spending only about £5,000,000 less than we spent last year.
– It is costing as much to repatriate the soldiers as it did to send them to fight.
– Yes, and our war obligations will continue for some time.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– Fortunately, this year, we have not had to borrow more than £25,000,000, whereas last year we borrowed £45,000,000. But the Treasurer will agree with me that he cannot expect in future years such an abounding revenue as he expects to receive this year. I doubt if the Customs and Excise receipts will continue at the large sum of £26,000,000.
– They will exceed that sum this year; but next year they will be much less.
– Nor can he expect the income taxation to give as much revenue, because, owing to the fall in prices, the pastoralists and others who now contribute a large part of that revenue will not receive such large incomes, and will be called on to pay very much less. I consider we have about reached the limit at income taxation.
– Income tax this year will be paid on a gross return of £15,000,000 for our wool, whereas we have been getting £50,000,000 for it.
– The question how much, and in what manner, we should contribute to the defence of the British Empire is a delicate one; and, as I have said, I approach it with much diffidence. I am inclined to think that we are better able to afford to train men for service with the Navy, should the need for that service unfortunately arise, than to contribute largely to its maintenance. Should we offer to train a volunteer force of, say, 10,000 men to man the war-ships in case of need ?
I hope that I shall not be misunderstood when I say that it is difficult to assess at a money value the work that is being done by the Australian people for the maintenance of the British Empire For example, what money value can be put on the sacrifices that have been made by our explorers such as Hume, Cunningham, Sturt, Oxley, Mitchell, Leichardt, Kennedy, Stuart, Burke, and Wills, and many others, or of the pioneer squatters, miners, .and hushmen who have followed in their tracks. Scores of men perished in the early days of this country’s development. We cannot determine the money value of the developmental work done in this country. I believe that there is nothing comparable .in the United Kingdom to the hardships that are being endured by ‘ families isolated in the Australian bush. In Queensland, itinerant teachers go from house to house, at one home setting the lessons for the following month before proceeding on their lonely journey to some other family many miles distant. It L a common thing in Queensland to see children, some of them seven and eight years of age, leaving by a goods train at 8 o’clock in the morning to travel 20 miles to a school, from which they return at 9 o’clock at night, having been away all day from their parents, and largely dependent for their safety during the train journey on the kindly offers of the guard of the train, who may not even know their names.
These families are developing this part of the Empire so that it may be a home for the sons and daughters of Britishers, and their .efforts and sacrifices must be considered when the question is asked, “What are we doing for the maintenance of the Empire?”
The need of the Empire before the war was a Navy strong enough to maintain the supremacy of our flag on the seas ; and, while we should not reduce our naval strength beyond the point of national safety, to use the words of the Covenant of the League of Nations, we should do all we can to bring about a reasonable disarmament of the nations, and thus reduce the expenditure on defence. The right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), I know, has not too much faith in the League of Nations, but I plead with him to use his great eloquence, wit, humour, .and pathos in an effort to make it a success, so that its aims and objects may be realized, and that the peace of the world may be established, if it is possible for human beings, with all their weaknesses, to remain always at peace.
– I do not think that, you will do much with the League of Nations until the Versailles Treaty is amended in some way.
– The Prime Minister has asked whether the war has changed the hearts of men; and, if so, whether the change is more than skin deep. . When one reads the story of the exploration of the ruins of Empires that have passed away, and remembers the present unrest of the world, it seems not unlikely that our civilization may, like those that have preceded it, pass into oblivion. I believe, however, in Progress, and’ I take the view expressed by Professor Tucker in one of his essays, that the man of the future will be as far removed from us as we are from the savages who preceded us. I hope, therefore, that the League of Nations may become a success, and that our public men of all parties will strive to make it so. The honorable member for East Sydney interjected that the Covenant of the League of Nations will have to be amended, and I suggest to the Prime Minister that his efforts at the Imperial Conference should be directed to ascertaining the objection of the United States to that Covenant. I am sure that the Americans would accept some of its clauses in their entirety. Is it the clause which declares that the League of Nations will preserve the integrity of existing States or the regional understandings that they object to? Whatever be the reason for their objection the statesmen of Great Britain and the Dominions should try to ascertain it, and then endeavour to remove it by an. alteration of the Covenant. I am sure that that Covenant might be altered so as to make it acceptable to the American people. Were the United States of America a member of the League of Nations, it would become the success that those who most believe in it wish it to be.
– The American people will not join the League of Nations because they do not wish to interfere in the affairs of Europe.
– The Americans have long desired to keep free from European entanglements; but if they were satisfied that the forty-three States that are members of the League do not wish to erect a sort of super-State which will rob the smaller States of. their powers of selfgovernment, they would, I think, join the League.
In conclusion, I wish the right honorable the Prime Minister bon voyage. I hone that he may return in the best of health, with fresh laurels gained by new achievements in a career already very remarkable.
– I think that every honorable member recognises the importance of the matter that we are discussing. Like those who have preceded me, I realize the need of conducting this debate on a high plane. It is necessary that we should weigh every word, and should,, as far as possible, avoid saying anything that may injure this ‘ country in its international relations. The subject to be discussed is a delicate one, and I propose to express nothing but friendship for the nations to which I may have to refer. There is no need for hostility, and I am sure we feel no hostility to the Japanese. We have the friendliest feelings towards them. Every State and every people should have an opportunity for the legitimate fulfilment of its aspirations, and enough of the surface of the earth to live upon. While we stand for a White Australia, which is now the recognised policy of the country, we are prepared’ to allow room - and there is roam - for the development of every other race and nation. At the same time, we should avoid suggesting to others how they should put their house in order. It is not within our province to tell the United States of America what should be its attitude to the League of Nations. In conference we may put forward our views, but in a debate of this sort it is out of place1 - of. course, I express only my own- views - to suggest that America should have accepted the Covenant of the League of Nations.^3 That was a matter to be decided by the American people themselves. It has been fully discussed before them, and they have come to a decision upon it. It will be quite unnecessary for the Prime Minister to go to London to find out the reasons why the American people rejected the Covenant of the League of Nations, because those reasons have been made known by discussion upon the public platforms in the United States of America. I must confess that many of the points in the Covenant of the League of Nations, to which exception was taken during, the discussion in the United States of America,, do not commend themselves to my judgment. I think the people .of that country- were quite justified in desiring to make a reservation on the question of immigration. They desired that that matter should be one for their own decision, and should not te submitted to the arbitrament- of the
League of. Nations. And I might . go through all the various objections taken in the United States of America to the Covenant of the League, and there is no honorable member but would admit that there was reason and sound sense behind the contention of those who opposed the United States of America joining the League, even although we might not agree with them in every particular. However, that is a matter for the people of the United States of America. We must all agree that it is unfortunate that we have not a Covenant of a League of Nations that commends itself to all the great powers of the. world. That is something we all desire,, and I am so optimistic as to believe that if the matter is approached as it ought to be it will yet be possible to formulate such a Covenant, to which all the great nations of the world will be signatories. But we shall not promote that objective by taking any captious exception, at the present moment, to the attitute taken up by the great United States of America. The most remarkable feature that I have noticed in listening to the debate on this motion is the great change that has taken place in the public utterances in regard to important public questions during the last few years. It was not so long ago that we were told by the Prime Minister that as a result of the war and the Peace Treaty Australia had taken her place amongst the nations of the world. Now we hear the same honorable gentleman belittling this country, for I think that one of the outstanding features of his speech was the manner in which he decried Australia. He said, with regard to the people of Great Britain - -
Why should they spend their money to defend us? What do they fain from us? I do not ask what we Rain from them, because our gain is obvious.
Later on he said, in reference to the proposed Anglo-Japanese alliance -
Now here is our dilemma - our, interest, our safety, lies in the renewal of. the- AngloJapanese Treaty.
I do not subscribe to that statement
– I do.
– To be fair to the Prime Minister, I admit that he did not say that we should not be friendly to the United States of America.”
– He said that in order to make the alliance complete the three nations. must be in it.
– He also said that the Treaty would be made acceptable to the United States of America, “ if possible,” but if that were not possible the Treaty must be made all the same, provided that there was in it nothing contrary to the principle of a White Australia. Another notable change is that whilst we were told that the late war was fought to end war, to protect the rights of small nations, and to give self-determination to small nations, we know that since then, even within the bounds of our own Empire, there have been struggles for self-determination, and certain conduct on the part of the Government - I do not say on the part of the people - which has drawn very severe criticism from two large parties in Great Britain.
– From a section only.
– I say of large parties. I am showing that there is a remarkable change in many respects from the attitude taken up, and the protestations made, while the great war was in progress. I am not going into any detailed discussion of the matter, because the question with which I am dealing is too wide. We were told, too, by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) not very long ago that the League of Nations would solve all our future difficulties in regard to international affairs. Now he seems to throw aside the League of Nations, and the only person on the Ministerial side who appears to be a strong adherent of it is his colleague the Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook). The Prime Minister has turned from the League of Nations, and relies entirely on the Imperial Conference. He says it is necessarythat he should attend that gathering in order that we might make such arrangements within the Empire as would enable us to resist aggression from without. There is not one word in the whole of his speech on the question of disarmament. He did not say that he would make representations that Australia desires steps to be taken to bring about universal disarmament.
– That was the spirit of his contention.
– If that was the spirit of his contention he succeeded in very completely concealing it. This question is too important and vital to our very existence, involving, as it does, our inter national relations, and the possibility of our being involved in war, for us to allow the Prime Minister to go from these shores after a mere vague intimation of the lines upon which he proposes to proceed, without placing some reservation on his powers. In my opinion, whatever he does on the other side of the world should be subject to the approval and ratification of the people of Australia.
– He has said that.
– He has not said it, and will not say it. What he did say was that any arrangement made with regard to naval expenditure would be subject to the approval of this Parliament, but he has to give that undertaking, because no money can. be expended upon naval defence or anything else until this Parliament has approved of the proposal. But the right honorable gentleman has made no such statement with regard to the renewal of the Anglo-Japanese alliance. After giving us a vague outline of what he proposes to do, he is to depart from these shores, and what he does on the other side of the world is apparently to be final, and binding, on the people of Australia. It is not even to be submitted’ to this Parliament for approval.
– How are we to get a Treaty?
– I do not suggest that Great Britain has not a right to make whatever Treaty she likes. It is quite within her power to do so, but I am contending that, so far as Australia is involved in the making of any Treaty or incurs responsibilityin regard to it, the voice of the people of this country should be heard. I do not propose to ask for anything more.
– The Prime Minister stated the conditions upon which he would agree to the Treaty.
– The Prime Minister has given us a vague outline of the lines upon which he proposes to proceed, but I have not sufficient confidence in the judgment of the right honorable gentleman to believe that he can be set up as the sole judge of whether he should adhere to those lines or do what is in the interests of this country.
– What does the honorable member suggest that he should do?
– I shall conclude by moving an amendment which, if carried, will have the effect of reserving for the approval of, and ratification by, the people of this country any commitments which the Prime Minister enters into on behalf of Australia in regard to the renewal of that Treaty.
– How would you ascertain the opinion of the people?
– By a vote of the people. I believe that if the people were left to decide as to whether or not there should be war there would be no war, and I believe, also, that when we are becoming involved in treaties entailing obligations to other countries and international entanglements, it should be’ left to the people to say whether or not such arrangements should be made.
– Does the honorable member mean by- referendum or by elec.tion
– I mean by a vote of the people upon a reference to them.
– By referendum ?
– The right honorable gentleman does not propose that the matter should come back even for the approval of this Parliament, but it is sp serious and important that it should be reserved for approval or rejection by the people.
– That is a very high ideal, but I do not see how we are going to do it.
– It is a high ideal, and it is time that some country gave practical enforcement to high ideals in these matters. Australia has given the lead to tha world in other matters, and it may be able to give the lead in this also.
I would not hesitate-
– To suggest- a referendum ?
– The right honorable gentleman keeps asking me do I suggest a referendum.
– Because it seems to be a difficult question to determine in that manner.
– Its importance is such that I do not hesitate to say that I believe the question of the making of a treaty, involving our international relations and implying obligations upon this country, should be submitted to a vote of the people.
I have a few words to say now upon the possibility of constitutional questions being discussed at the Conference. On the one hand, we have the statement of the Prime Minister that he does not desire any change in our existing constitutional relations with Great Britain. On the other hand, the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) and others point out that, in their opinion, there has been a drastic change made in our constitutional relations by reason df the 1917 Conference, and of the fact that Australia has been made a separate party to the covenant of the League of Nations. And, in support of their contention, they point out that the Prime Minister of South Africa and the Prime Minister of Canada have said so in so many words. I agree with those who contend that there has been a change, and that it has been proclaimed by the Prime Ministers of South Africa and Canada. Indeed, the South African Prime Minister actually went to his people with such a proclamation, and asked for their support upon that ground; and he was returned by an overwhelming majority.
– But the honorable member will remember that the issue resolved itself, at the last, into the simple question of in or out of the Empire.
– That interjection would be relevant if I were not just now dealing with a difference of opinion expressed by the right honorable gentleman’s colleagues and supporters on that side of the House. There are. some honorable members opposite who say that the position is the same as before, and there are also those who state- that the situation has been altered. “Whatever the position may be, it is due to this House that any documents within the control of the Government, such as that referred to by the honorable member for Kooyong, and, in the course of public correspondence in the press, by Professor Harrison Moore and others, should be laid before this Parliament and the people of the country; because, whether we stand for the change that is supposed to have taken place or for the existing order of things - as the Prime Minister says - or for an Imperial Federation, we can all agree that there should be a full and frank disclosure of everything bearing upon the matter. I hope that the Prime Minister will take an early opportunity to lay before honorable members any documents or correspondence in his possession in regard to the subject at issue.
– He will do nothing of the kind.
– If the Prime Minister does not, it will be the business of this House to see that he is made to do so. A majority of honorable members can compel the Prime Minister to produce any document they may desire, or they can remove him from office and place some one else there who will do so.
– If they think it wise.
– I remind the honorable member that this request has come not only from honorable members on this side of the House but from his side also, and from honorable members against whom, if I may say so, even he would not make any suggestion of disloyalty.
So much for the constitutional aspect. The other two aspects are concerned in the . matter of naval expenditure and in the renewal of the Anglo-Japanese Treaty.
– I wish the honorable member would first clear up that matter of the referendum. I cannot conceive of a referendum upon a treaty.
– If the Treasurer cannot conceive how a treaty would be submitted by referendum to the people I can hardly hope to enlighten him. The Government have submitted various questions by similar means. They have taken referendums upon proposed alterations to the Constitution, and also concerning conscription. Why, then, cannot they submit to the people the question whether or not we shall incur the responsibilities involved in the renewal of the treaty with Japan ? If the Treasurer cannot understand how such a question could be submitted by way of referendum, perhaps he will be able to understand why it is not submitted to Parliament. Why should there be only one man in Australia who has the power to decide? Does the Treasurer think we are all fools? Surely every man and woman has the same right and capacity of forming an opinion as the Prime Minister, or the Treasurer himself; and, surely every man and woman should have an opportunity, after learning the views of all parties involved, and having become acquainted with the discussions at the Imperial Conference, of assisting to decide upon the attitude and conduct of Aus tralia in this matter. We may be involved - subject, of course, to the approval of Parliament - in additional naval expenditure. But, for the reason that that has to be referred back to this Parliament, and that the Prime Minister cannot be the final authority in the matter, I do not propose to deal with it at length. There is this to be said, however, that the Prime Minister will wrongly interpret the opinions of the people if he thinks they are likely to agree to any departure from the policy of having an Australian-owned and controlled Navy. We do not want any departure in the nature of a contribution such as was turned down by the people of Australia, I think, in 1910, and also by the people of Great Britain.
Now I come to the question of the renewal of the Anglo- Japanese Treaty, and my views as to whether it should be renewed or not may be put in few words. I desire to make it clear that I am only referring to the matter so far as it affects or involves Australia. I do not claim that the action of Great Britain, if she should consider herself well advised in renewing the Treaty, should be subject to the approval of the people of Australia. But I do think that, in so far as it affects us, or involves our people in responsibilities, it should be subject to our review.
– How can we separate a treaty and split it up into little bits?. What does the honorable member mean ?
– Those are matters which the right honorable gentleman will be able to discuss on a public platform. He, however, is not prepared to trust the people in the matter, but prefers to leave it entirely in the hands of the Prime Minister, so that the right honorable gentleman shall be the sole interpreter, whether he follows out the lines which he has indicated to this House or not. I do not propose to split the Treaty in pieces, but to consult the people on any agreement or understanding on the part of Australia. And why should we be asked to commit ourselves before having had the advantage of learning the nature of the whole discussion upon the subject-matter and of ascertaining whether those are the right lines upon which he should proceed ? Moreover, what may be the view of Canada with regard to the Treaty? Are we going to ignore that Dominion, situated as it is upon the
Pacific coastline? And what may be the views of the United States of America and of Great Britain?
– Does Canada or New Zealand propose to hold a referendum?
– I do not care what those Dominions propose to do in the matter of taking a referendum. I am now speaking withrespect to Australia. We are concerned with Australia, and if the honorable member is not prepared to trust the Australian people, this party, at any rate, is prepared to do so, and desires the people’s views to be gauged. There has been a good deal of talk about the Anglo-Japanese Treaty, and concerning the lines on which its proposed renewal should be approached. It will be well to know what the Treaty is. That can only be ascertained by perusing it, and I invite honorable members to do so very carefully. The Treaty has largely to do with interests in India and China, and, unless it is to be extended in some manner, those are the only interests referred to. There are three documents. The first was signed in London on the 30th January, 1902, on behalf of Great Britain and of Japan. The second was signed in London on the 12th August, 1905, and the third was signed, also in London, on 13th July, 1911. The preamble of the last of the three states-
The Government of Great Britain and the Government of Japan, having in view the important changes which have taken place in the situation since the conclusion of the AngloJapanese Agreement of the 12th August, 1905, and believing that a revision of that Agreement responding to such changes would contribute to general stability and repose, have agreed upon the following stipulations to replace’ the Agreement above mentioned, such stipulations having the same object as the said Agreement, namely :
The consolidation and maintenance of the general peace in the regions of Eastern Asia and of India.
The preservation of the common interests of all Powers in China by insuring the independence and integrity of the Chinese Empire and. the principle of equal opportunities for the commerce and industry of all nations in China.
The maintenance of the territorial rights of the High Contracting Parties in the regions of Eastern Asia and of India and the defence of their special interests in the said regions.
There are set out the whole of the objects. They have to do with India and China and Eastern Asia. The next important article is Article 2, which reads -
If, by reason of an unprovoked attack or aggressive action wherever arising on the part of any other Power or Powers, either high contracting party should be involved in war in defence of its territorial rights or special interests mentioned in the preamble of this agreement, the other high contracting party will at once come to the assistance of its ally, and will conduct the war in common, and make peace in mutual agreement with it.
There is the obligation that, in the event, say, of Japan being attacked by China in this part of the world, the other contracting party has to come to its assistance at once.
– “Unprovoked attack.”
– Was there ever an attack that was not unprovoked in the eye of the party attacked? If Japan is attacked, will it not think the attack is unprovoked ? However, there is the obligation to come at once to the assistance of the ally, to wage the war in common, and to make peace in mutual agreement with it ; and all these conditions have reference to the three matters mentioned in the preamble. I would like to know how far Australia might be involved, and what we might be expected to do. Might we be involved in conscription in order to send Forces overseas in connexion with the matter? It is quite a possibility.
Another clause to which I wish to refer is clause 4, which reads as follows : -
Should either high contracting party conclude a treaty of general arbitration with a third Power, it is agreed that nothing in this agreement shall entail upon such contracting party an obligation to go to war with the Power with whom such treaty of arbitration is in force.
It has been said that, because that clause is included in the Treaty, we could not be involved in war with the United States.
– Does not the honorable member for West Sydney know that the practice hitherto, when Australia consisted of colonies, has been to submit a Treaty before the colony could be bound by it in any way ?
– That is all I am asking for now.
– I was speakingof Governments.
– And now the honorable member is asking that full power in this regard should be vested in the Prime
Minister. I want this Parliament to say that there shall be a limitation on the power of the Prime Minister in this respect, and that the. people of the country shall have the final say as to whether or not they will accept any commitments upon Australia.
– That means a referendum.
– If I had my way I would have a referendum of the people of Australia to decide whether or not any agree- 1 ment made in regard to the AngloJapanese Treaty will be accepted by them. The honorable member seems to be endeavouring to place this construction upon my amendment, in the belief that he will get a certain vote in the House.
– I read the amendment, and understood that that was involved in it.
– I believe that in a matter of such tremendous importance, involving the very existence of this country, the people of Australia should have the final say ; and I see no difficulty whatever in giving them the opportunity to vote upon the’ matter. What is the expense? The expense of a referendum upon this question only would be a mere bagatelle compared with the importance of the issue to be decided. An honorable member reminds me, by interjection, that possibly early next year an election will take place of delegates to a Convention which will consider an alteration in the Constitution of Australia. . There would be no difficulty in submitting this matter to the people at the same time.
– If Great Britain went to war, what would be the position of Australia if we took a referendum and declared that we would not do so?
– That .question is entirely different. We are now invited by Great Britain to come to a Conference with her im order to arrive at a decision as to whether or not there shall be an international commitment : as to whether we shall ally ourselves with Japan, and commit ourselves to go- to her assistance in certain circumstances. Surely it is our duty to see that we exhaust every means of arriving at the final opinion of the people of this country upon the matter, casting upon them the responsibility by their vote. In the meantime, a- responsi- . bility rests upon us, but we discharge it when we can turn to the people and say, “You are being committed to international obligations in this matter, but we say to it that you were given an opportunity of saying ‘ Aye ‘ or ‘ Nay ‘ to the question.” I am standing for that.
– But the Treaty will be signed long before the Prime Minister returns to Australia.
– There is no need for the Treaty to be signed long before the Prime Minister return’s to Australia. The existing Treaty will continue in force until after it is denounced by either party to it. Therefore, the question that there is no time cannot be raised.
– But it may be amended.
– Why should not the people of. this country be given a say asto whether it is good that it should be amended?
– Other nations will not wait. It is a matter for executive authority.
– I do not care what puny obstacles are placed in the road by my friends opposite. I am sure the people-, of Australia will not accept them as obstacles.
– That is your opinion.
– It is;, but, after all, are we not here to express our opinions, and in a matter of this sort we ought -to doso without any feeling, and without being swayed by party considerations. Theresponsibility is so great that we are not’ in a position to say, before we have heard’, every aspect of the question, exactly what should be done in the matter ; and I anr. not prepared to abide by the vague outline the Prime Minister has given as to . what he is likely to do. We have had an experience of the right honorable gentleman in the past. I have no desire to be drawn into any personal attack upon him. As a matter of fact, on such an important question, I should be sorry to detract from what should, be the plane of this discussion by any reference to the right honorable gentleman. Nevertire- . less, the people of Australia have had experience of him interpreting his pledges, in a different manner from what they, mean on their plain wording. Some people would say that hd has broken hid pledges. Others would say that he has interpreted them differently.
To return to Article 4, which I have already read, I maintain that there is no treaty of general arbitration with the United States of America. The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) has suggested that there is, but T have only to refer in this connexion to an answer which was given in the British House of Commons recently by the UnderSecretary of State for Foreign Affairs. Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Frederick Hall asked -
Whether the terms of the Treaty arrangements between Great Britain and Japan precluded the possibility of assistance to Japan in any conflict which might arise between that country and the United States of America, and if assurances on this point had been given to the American Government in connexion with the consideration of. their naval building programme ?
The Under-Secretary, in his reply, quoted Article 4 of the Anglo-Japanese Treaty, which I have already read, and then proceeded to say -
At the time when the Agreement was under negotiation a General Arbitration Treaty between this country and the United States of America was being concluded, and this circumstance inspired’ the adoption of the terminology of Article 4 by His Majesty’s Government anil the Japanese Government. As to the true spirit in which that Article was conceived the Japanese Government have always shared, and continue to share, the views of His Majesty’s Government. The General Arbitration Treaty was not ratified by the United States of America Senate. Subsequently, however, on 15th September, 1914, a Peace Commission Treaty was signed and duly ratified, under which, when all diplomatic methods of adjustment had failed, ail disputes between the two countries of “ any nature whatsoever other than those disputes the settlement of which is provided for “ are to be referred to an investigation commission. The Peace Commission Treaty is not, technically, a general arbitration treaty, but their objects are the same.
There we have, on the word of the UnderSecretary for Foreign Affairs, the statement that the Treaty which now exists between Great Britain and the United States of America is not a general arbitration treaty, in fact, is not a treaty within the meaning of Article 4 of the Anglo-Japanese Treaty.
– It is equivalent to it, he says.
– In 1914, the British Government announced to the Japanese Government that the Peace Commission
Treaty was equivalent to an arbitration treaty.
– The Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs said so in his reply. He said that it was not technicaly a general arbitration treaty, but that the objects - were the same. However, what I am contending is that, in the wording of the Anglo- Japanese Treaty, there is no general arbitration treaty existing between Great Britain and the United States of America, and we know how dif ferences in the matter of wording subsequently lead to great international diffi- culties. At the present time there is a serious dispute between Japan and the United States of America, owing to the fact that the position of the Island of Yap was not made clear at the Peace Treaty with Germany.
– The position was made perfectly clear.
– Yet we have these two great nations disputing the matter, and France intimating to the United States of America that she will approach the question diplomatically when it comes up for discussion again.
– They are disputing over facts, and not over words.
– It is not only Great Britain, Japan, and the United States of America or Australia that is concerned in this alliance. What about those other countries referred to in the preamble, India and China? Surely they are entitled to be heard. I have with me a report of an interview with Dr. Wang, the Chief Justice of China, who is now passing through the United States. The report reads as follows : -
China, says Dr. Wang, has three dread enemies. The first enemy is Article XXI. of the covenant of the League, which lays down an untenable doctrine in regard to the socalled regional understandings, which is a direct challenge to China’s integrity and destructive to ihe League itself. The second enemy is the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, which Dr. Wang hopes to show Canadians will, if renewed in any form whatsoever, lead to war. in which China must necessarily participate, aiding the United States. The third enemy is the Lansing-Ishii exchange of notes with their untenable doctrine that geographical propinquity confers rights.
The people of China have some rights, and before we commit ourselves to an agreement which may do them an injustice we might surely consider the matter. The people of China say that the renewal of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance is one of their dreaded enemies, and that Article XXI, of the League of Nations is another. Before leaving this point I would draw special attention to the fact that the Chief Justice of China has said that he is going to endeavour to persuade the people of Canada that the agreement should not be renewed. Surely ho is entitled to be heard! Surely the people of Australia, whether they may or may not finally agree with him, are fair enough to allow him to be heard! And what does Article XXI. of the League of Nations provide? It declares that -
Nothing in this covenant shall he deemed to affect the validity of international engagements, such as treaties of arbitration or regional understandings like the Monroe doctrine for securing the maintenance of peace.
It has been suggested that on previous occasions great Powers have divided up the territory of various countries, and may it not be that China is being divided up in this way? The people of China think so. They fear it, and history shows that such things happen. Will we not allow the people of China to be heard, even if the United States of America, Japan, Great Britain, or any other country join together to divide up China?
– Of course they will be heard.
– The right honorable gentleman may think that they are not worthy of being heard.
– They have not been given the opportunity. They have not been mentioned in the discussion of the matter. It is with regard to territory and interests in India and China that the AngloJapanese Treaty is mainly concerned. The parties to it proclaim that they will allow the open door; the United States of America has always stood for the policy of the open door in China.
– One of the contracting parties did not observe that policy during the war.
– That is so. In a book on American Diplomacy, by Carl Russell Fish, Professor of History in the University of Wisconsin, it is stated at page 477, referring to the period from 1898 to 1913-
Far more important than the extension of our Dominions was our entrance into the diplomacy of Eastern Asia. Although still avoiding entangling alliances, we nevertheless engaged in the problems of the Far East as an equal participant with the great Powers of Europe. Our purposes were limited to the preservation of the integrity of China and the open door for trade - ideas that appealed to the ideals of our own people, and were calculated to command the acquiescence, if not the heartfelt approval, of foreign nations.
It appears quite obvious, from the discussion we have seen in the press lately, that the United States of America and Japan are not at one with regard to the policy which is to be pursued in China. Is it not well that we should fully understand what is the situation?
The view has been fairly generally expressed by honorable members who have spoken upon this question that we should be represented at the Imperial Conference. An invitation has certainly been extended to Australia to send a representative, and I think, in these circumstances, a representative should be sent. It would be discourteous to refrain from sending one; but it would be far better not to send a representative than to send one who will commit Australia to something that will not be in the interests of this country. For that reason it is necessary that we should still keep the control in our own hands. There is no necessity for rushing the matter. There is no hurry in regard to it, and we should retain to ourselves the right to have the final decision in the matter If we do that we shall do a great service to our country. If a majority of the House will not carry the motion in an amended form, so as. to make the final decision subject to the approval of the peopleof Australia, an intimation, at all events, will go forth that a large body of the people of this country are not prepared to have themselves committed to any agreement or foreign arrangement unless they are allowed to have the final word with respect to it.
– If it be found that the Treaty protects the White Australia policy and renders it unnecessary for Australia to enter into large commitments for a navy, would not the honorable member give the Prime Minister power to agree to it on behalf of Australia?
– Whatever is done at thi; Conference in the way of committing us to some international arrangement should be subject to the people of Australia having the final decision of the matter. I do not think for a moment that. th* policy of a White Australia is going to receive recognition in the Treaty I shall believe it when I see it. The policy of a White Australia has never been recognised even within the British Empire. It has not been admitted within the British Empire. Does the honorable member suggest that Japan is going to recognise that policy by a specific clause in the Treaty ?
– The Prime Minister said, I think, that he was coming back to this Parliament with the agreement.
– What he said was that nothing would be done that was contrary to the policy of a White Australia. And who is to be the judge of that ? It simply means that there will be nothing in the Treaty in regard to a White Australia. That is all that is meant. As long as there is nothing in the Treaty contrary to the policy of a White Australia the right honorable ‘ gentleman says he will consent to it. What likelihood is there of any reference to White Australia in a Treaty dealing with interests’ in India and China ? It is ridiculous ‘ to suggest it.
– As a matter of fact, that exists at the present time.
– If the Prime Minister interprets his duty with regard to the policy of a White Australia as he did at the Peace Conference, then he is not going to do anything in the interests of Australia. The question of a White Australia, under the Covenant of the League of Nations, has been handed over to be dealt with, sot by Australia, but by the League of Nations. Is the League favorable to the policy of a White Australia ?
– The honorable member is confusing what the Prime Minister did with what the Labour party asked him to do.
– I am not. I say that the policy of a White Australia was handed over under the Covenant of the League of Nations to be dealt with by the League.
– That is not so.
– It is so. No reservation was made such as the people of the United States of America wanted to make. The
United States of America Senate desired to make a reservation that immigration should not be a subject for decision by the League of Nations, since it was a (matter of domestic policy for the nation itself to deal with. That was one of the reservations they desired to make, and it is one of the reasons why the Covenant of the League of Nations was not accepted by the United States of America. Surely we are not so ignorant as not to know that. And yet we hear people prating about the great work done by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) in the interests of a White Australia at the Paris Conference.
– I am ignorant enough not to know it.
– That is quite probable. Can the right honorable gentleman point to any record of a speech made by the Prime Minister at the Paris Conference in which he referred to the White Australia policy?
– The honorable member cannot help being vulgar.
– I am asking a simple question. Can the right honorable member produce any record showing that the Prime Minister uttered a word with regard to the White Australia policy at the Peace Conference?
– What rubbish!
– It is not rubbish. There was something in the newspapers in regard to the matter, but so far we have not been shown a reference in the records. If he said anything, it was not effective.
– Every one knows that he did refer to it. The honorable member knows quite well that he did.
– My authority for the statement I have just made is a person who was at the Conference.
But I am not going to be drawn away from the main theme of this discussion. After all, it is a’ very serious matter, and it would be’ most unfortunate if we were to be influenced by any feeling with regard to it. It is a. subject calling for the calmest deliberation. It requires that we should have before us all the information possible before we register a final vote upon it. That can be secured only after the Conference has taken place - after we have had an opportunity to learn the views of Great Britain, the United States of America, the Dominion of Canada, and all the overseas Dominions. What necessity is there for a Treaty? I have heard no reasons advanced as to why.it is necessary for us to enter into a Treaty at all. Canada, on previous occasions, has refused to have anything to do with any foreign Treaty. Canada may continue to take up that position.
– What do we fear ?
– As the honorable member inquires, ‘‘What do we fear?” I am not one of those who think that Australia is absolutely at the mercy of some foreign power. I do not think she is. The people of Australia have shown by the work whichthey did in the recent war that they are able to take their place anywhere, and it will be a very bad day for any Power when it attempts to invade our territory and to take possession of Australia.
– Neither am I afraid;; but we ought not to “ act the ostrich.”
– I am not suggesting that we should. I am merely suggesting that when it is proposed that we should enter into an arrangement involving responsibilities on the part of this country - when it is proposed that we should enter into foreign engagements - we should take every care to see that any conclusion that is come to is subjectto ratification by the people of Australia. With that object in view I move -
That the following words be added : - “ but, in the opinion of this House, the representative of Australia at the forthcoming Imperial Conference, shall not be empowered to commit Australia to any agreement or understanding, except on the condition that the same shall be subject to the approval and ratification of the people of Australia.
It, is because of a strong sense of duty to the people of Australia that I “move the addition of these words to the motion submitted by the Prime Minister, and I am sure that quite apart from party considerations it will meet with the approval of a large majority of the people.
.- I desire to address myself to the amendment, and also to the motion. I do not wish to detain the House at any length; but, as I have a good deal to say, I shall say it in as few words as possible. Before addressing myself to what might be called my hobby, the naval side of the question, I should like to refer to a few remarks by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) which have struck me. He appealed to the House to treat this matter, to acertain extent, in a statesman-like attitude. I failed to notice in his own attitude that he followed his own advice; instead, he undoubtedly treated the matter from a party stand-point. No doubt, it is his antipathy to the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) that has led him into that channel, because, though he started off in the right way, he fell by the wayside in going along.
As regards the amendment, it is, in ray opinion, doomed to failure. Why? Because the ratification of a Treaty of this kind with another Power is a matter of great urgency, not one that can be delayed from month to month by a referendum to the people. We are the representatives of the people, and we have responsibilities which we are quite prepared to act up to. As representatives sent here by the people of Australia, we can send the Prime Minister of the country, no matter who he may be at the time, to England on a mission of this description. If,by a turn of the political wheel, the honorable member for West Sydney had been Prime Minister at the present time, I wonder on what terms he would be going Home. Would his terms be any better than those on which the Prime Minister is going?
– I certainly would not desire to do anything which would not be subject to the approval of the people.
– What did the Prime Minister say in this House? I have a pamphlet containing the right honorable gentleman’s address, in which he said -
If I am asked whether the Commonwealth is to be committed to anything done at the Conference, I say quite frankly that this Parliament will have the amplest opportunity of expressing its opinion on any scheme of naval defence that is decided upon before the scheme is ratified. As to the renewal of the Treaty with Japan, this is myattitude, and I submit it for the consideration of honorable members : I am in favour of renewing the Treaty in any form that is satisfactory to Britain, America, and ourselves. I am prepared to renew it In those circumstances. If it is suggested that the renewal should take a form which would involve the sacrifice of those principles which we ourselves regard as sacred, I am not prepared to accept it. In such circumstances, I shall bring back the Treaty to this Parliament
What fairer than that could any. man say? Under the circumstances, I am voicingmy opinion, as a member of the
House, thatthe amendment moved by the honorable member for WestSydney is doomed to failure.
Mr.Ryan - The Prime Minister said that he will bring the agreement back if he cannot agree to it.
– The Prime Minister will bring it back if the arrangement as to the White Australia policy is not satisfactory. Wewill seewhat he will do when he does come back.
Mr.Ryan. - Ifhe approves of what is done, he will not bring the agreement back.
– Like the Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) I refuse to stand cross-examination by the honorable member for West Sydney. I was very glad to hear thehonorable member for West Sydney say that Australia should have her own fleet, andcontrol it herself. With that I entirely agree; but in war time that fleet should be under one supreme command, and controlled by the head of the British Navy.
The Prime Minister is going Home to represent us, and I think we must all admit that he has not got what I might call a naval atmosphere. To-night,. however, I am going to talk to Hansard, and also, of course, to honorable members who have been so kind as to remain in the chamber; because I know that in his “ old kit bag “ the Prime Minister will take one or two Hansards containing the speeches that have been made during this debate, and I wish him to arrive in England with all the latest figures relating to naval expenditure by England, Japan, and America.
Honorable members who peruse their newspapers have, no doubt, seen that a great mad naval race for supremacy is going on at the present time, which, if continued, will lead to two things - the bankruptcy of the Powers concerned, and, perhaps, revolution of the peoples of those Powers. To-day Japan is afraid and suspicious of the American programme; the United States is suspicious of Japan’s Naval Estimates, and suspicious of the Anglo-Japanese alliance. But there is nothing in that alliance between Japan and England that means anything aggressive to the United States.
– How do you know ?
– I know my America very well. America is suspicious that there is something underlying that treaty, but there is absolutely nothing. Lord Northcliffe, for many weeks, has been carrying on a long correspondence with Mr. Daniells, the late Secretary for the Navy of America, on that very point. These two are very great friends, and Lord Northcliffe has been trying to convince Mr. Daniells that there is nothing whatever against America in the alliance. What is England’s position ? The British lion, between these two great countries, is being dragged by the tail into a. position he does not appreciate or covet. Mr. Lloyd George, I think, ought to be cheered by everybody in the Empire for being quite open, and throwing on the table all his cards in connexion with the Navy. These cards show us to day a huge decrease, not only in expenditure but in ships. Mr. Lloyd George has thrown down his cards, for what purpose ? For the one purpose of bringing America, Japan, and ourselves around a table in full, open, and frank conference in an. endeavour to stop this mad naval race, and come to an understanding with one another. In the House of Commons the other day it was, stated that since the Armistice the British Navy had cost £150,000,000, apart altogether from the great expense of demobilization and other heavy charges. The British Estimates for 1920-21 showed £105,000,000 gross for the Navy alone. For 1921-22 the Estimates are £91,000,000 gross, showing a reduction of £14,000,000. The net amounts show a reduction of £8,500,000. And now as to the British Navy itself. I am not giving away any official secrets - I would not for one moment do so - and the figures with which I am dealing honorable members could ascertain for themselves. It is intended to have thirty effective capital ships, sixteen in full commission and fourteenin reserve. The personnel, officers and men, in war time was over 400,000; up to three days ago it was 121,700. Two days ago a cable appeared in the Argus which showed that the personnel has been increased, for what reason I do not know, by 25,000, making, in round figures, 146,700 instead of 400,000 officers and men. The decrease still goes on. Eight obsolescent capital ships are to be sold. I know every one of them, and they are fine ships, still useful for many purposes. Those vessels are the Hercules, Neptune,.
Collingwood, Colossus, St. Vincent, Temeraire, Bellerophon, and Superb. In the Atlantic what do we find. The Atlantic destroyer flotilla is in reserve; the South American Squadron is withdrawn, and the North American and the South African Squadrons are each reduced by one light cruiser’. The only point that sticks out here in all these reductions is the fact that £2,500,000 only has been placed on hand as’ the first instalment for the replacement of capital ships. This means, as honorable members will see when I give them the Japanese and American figures, that by 1924 the British Empire, instead of being mistress of the seas, which she has been for 300 years, will be the third-rate naval Power. Just think what that means. If such be the case, no longer shall we be inspired and uplifted, as I always am, when I hear that grand old air “ Rule, Britannia.” Never again shall we hear those strains if this mad race goes on; and it is open to every one of us to try to stop it. That is why I am preaching this sermon, not to honorable members, but to Hansard, so that when the Prime Minister goes Home be may, as ho passes through America, endeavour to get the great Powers concerned around the conference table. The position is dead serious. Liston ! England is spending 6 per cent, ‘of her national income on her Navy, while America is spending 10 per cent.; but Japan is spending one-third of her whole income on her Navy. America, according to General Pershing - a very fine man - is spending £1,250,000 every day of the year on her Navy and Army. He made that statement recently at a banquet at New York. By 1923 she will have built four nen post-Jutland, first-class battleships, with all the latest improvements, and by 1924-5, eight first-class battleships. She will be superior to Great Britain in big ships and big guns, but weaker in light cruisers and destroyers, and in the air. She will be superior to Japan in effective ships in the rato of 1.4 to 1; she will be weaker than Japan in battle cruisers and light cruisers. The Naval Committee’ of the American House of Representatives’ estimates that £108,666,000 more than the original estimate of £134,567,500 will be required to complete America’s naval programme, making her expendi ture, on the Navy alone £243,233,500. It is to be remembered that America is not carrying out a new programme, but is completing one made during the war, that of 1916. What is America’s opinion of battleships? Recent press reports inform us that she is in favour of them. As honorable members know, a great controversy has been raging in England until only a few days ago as to the value of the battleship.. It was raised by Admiral Sir Percy Scott, a very great man. It was he who invented the system of fire controls for our great ships. Many of our war vessels were not equipped with this system of control until half way through the war. He was sent for by the Admiralty, and went to Scapa Flow, where, in the quickest way possible, he fitted out the ships. Sir Percy Scott predicted, years before the war, that the capital ship would be driven off the seas by the submarine. Was he far wrong? : Ninety thousand tons of our best ships wore sunk by submarines. His’ statement is that when a great ship goes to sea - and having seen them at sea, I agree with him - it has to be shepherded on every side by those wonderful little wasps, the destroyers, to keep off the submarines, and has to be protected ahead by fleets of mine sweepers. To-day one big mine or one torpedo can send to. destruction a battleship costing between £7,000,000 and £8,000,000. I have followed this controversy closely. There are pros and cons.
– What does Scott say?
– He says that the battleship is no good. There are three notable opinions which he has received. One of thom is rather amusing. It came ‘ from a midshipman of the Grand Fleet, and is short and sweet, the midshipman’s opinion of battleships being, “ They are of no damn use.” The second was from Captain Dewar, who has been sitting on the Naval Committee. He said that the object of battleships is to fight the battleships of the enemy when they come out; but, should the enemy’s battleships not come out, then they are of no use. The third reply was from RearAdmiral Sir Reginald Bacon, under whom I had the honour to serve for ten months at Dover. He said that battleships are- there for the purpose of enforcing their -will on the waters. Scott replies, “What of the 90,000 tons lying at the bottom? They are enforc-ing their will on the waters that are above them.” While on this point I wish to give an argument that Scott put forward in support of his statement that the battleship is no good. These matters will come up at the Imperial Conference. Northcliffe, the other “day, wired to one of his newspapers in Australia, the Sydney Sun, a fine and up-to-date journal, that the representatives of the Dominions should go to the Conference with concrete proposals for every position that may arise. In other words, he thinks that our Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) should arrive with some ‘idea as to what Australia’s part should be iu the next Navy. That is why I am directing my attention to these matters somewhat thoroughly. Scott points out that in their naval programme of 1911-12 the Germans devoted “themselves to the building of great ships, and to the widening, deepening, and improving in every way of the Kiel Canal, so that these vessels might pass through it. They were led into that programme by Admiral Lord Fisher - Jacky Fisher, as he was popularly named, and as I prefer to call lum - a strong believer in submarines as against the battleship. Fisher, as First Lord of the Admiralty, entered upon a big ship programme. The facts were made known the other day by Sir Percy Scott, who was sitting at the Admiralty with Fisher. The Germans at once said, “ Wo must follow Britain’s example,’’ and, luckily for us, they adopted our lead, and built the big ships instead of submarines. Scott says that had they had fifty more submarines in 1914, we should to-day be a German possession, because the British Navy could not have escaped destruction. The British Board of Inventions and’ Research, of which Lord Fisher was chairman, and Admiral Sir Percy Scott a member - Scott was also at the head of the Anti-Submarine Board at the Admiralty - went into the question of the great ship, and came to this decision : “ We could not build a- battleship, or any other ship, strong enough to withstand the attack of a torpedo or a mine, and there could be no limit to the size of these under-water weapons of attack.” That is to say, that
Mi-. Marks. improvements in mines and torpedoes would be too much for any big ship that we could design. Later, the Board came to another decision: “Improvements could be made iu the great ship to withstand the attack of the torpedo or a mine to prevent her from sinking, and to enable her to get back into port for repairs, but her size would have to be from 40,000 to 50,000 tons.” About twelve months ago the cost of a large battleship was about £7,500,000. What a 50,000- ton battleship would cost, I leave it to honorable members to guess. Furthermore, these big ships “require a bath,” as Sir Percy Scott puts it, every six months. Where, in Australia, ‘ have we a dock which would accommodate one of them J We have not a dock in which a big battleship could be cleaned, and a serious question for the Commonwealth to face is the matter of providing a great” naval dock. Such a dock would cost millions of pounds. But whatever the size of tho British Navy is to be in- total quantity of ships, if it is decided that there are to be big ships, Australia must provide a dock in which they can be cleaned. Jacky Fisher’s opinion on the subject of big ships is worth having. He sides with Scott. Almost his last words were: “ Scrap the lot. Future fighting will be in the air.” Lord Jellicoe’s opinion is that, whilst we have a great mercantile fleet of ships, which are absolutely necessary for conveying troops and food, we must continue to have a great Fleet of large war-ships to guard them. In other words, so long as we have a surface mercantile marine, great capital ships will be necessary until something better is devised. Both America and Japan indorse that view. The Imperial Defence Committee will thresh out this very important point - in my opinion, the paramount one - as to what our Navy is to be, and what Australia’s share in it shall be. Already a Sub-Committee, composed of Mr. Bonar Law, Mr. Winston Churchill, Mr. Walter Long, Sir Auckland Geddes, <ind Admiral Beatty, has been sitting; and no doubt its conclusions will be placed before the Imperial Conference. The decisions of the Conference will come back to us, as the Prime Minister has rightly promised, for discussion in this Parliament. That is why I shall not deal with the matter at greater length to-night. In regard to the position of Japan, it is a strange fact, which I know will be of interest to honorable members, that the egg of Japan’s maritime and naval strength was hatched in an American incubator. All honorable members are familiar with the name of the late Admiral Mahan, who has written some most wonderful books on naval matters, which I advise honorable members to read.When his book The Interest of America in Sea Power, Present and Future, was translated into the Japanese language in April, 1899, the Hon. Kentaro Kaneko, ex-Minister of Agriculture and Commerce in Japan, wrote a preface to it, in which he said, inter alia -
Our Empire, recognised as the foremost of maritime countries in the Pacific, should,, in spite of the short time since her awakening, become conscious of this fact, and increase more and more her power as such among the nations of the world. My desire is that my fellow countrymen should read this book in such a spirit, and put forth an effort to make their country a great Power in the Pacific Ocean.
That book and preface were distributed throughout Japan; it was placed in the Naval Colleges, and on every ship. Japan is to-day giving effect to those principles which were inculcated by the great American, Admiral Mahan.In to-day’s Argus appeared the following cablegram : -
Washington official circles have been warned that all Japanese between the ages of twentyone and thirty-seven years, without previous service, have been ordered to return for military training to Japan from the Philippines, Indies, and South Sea Islands.
Departmental officials point out that the order indicates the general inclination of Japan since the war of adopting more rigorous methods to place herself in a state of military and, naval defence. Hitherto Japan has allowed considerable laxity in enforcing the law providing for the military training of her subjects abroad.
Now as to her naval plans. They are these: Sixty-eight millions for the new programme. Sixteen capital ships, that is, eight battle ships and eight battle cruisers. Twenty submarines, and large numbers of destroyers and light cruisers.
Where is the League of Nations ? I regret that I have to stand up and say that I am a great believer in a League of Nations, but not the present one. There can be no effective League of Nations which does not include the United States of America. In this regard, I am depending upon the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), whom I have known for the last twenty-two years. Some of us laugh at him, many of us criticise him ; but look back on his career and see what the man has done. I say to him that he will have a golden opportunity, when passing through America, where the soil is waiting to receive from some great man a seed that will germinate and develop into the wonderful harvest of a naval holiday. Let us have such a holiday. The right honorable gentleman will have the opportunity when passing through America shortly of endeavouring to get the United States of America, Japan, and Great Britain, to say nothing of the other nations who were our honorable Allies in the war, around the council table for a friendly heart-to-heart talk with a view to stopping this mad naval race. When the Prime Minister returns, we shall have a further opportunity of considering many things; but I trust, indeed I know, that he will come back with the White Australia policy, by which we stand fast, preserved intact. Every one who has spoken in the course of this debate has used the same words, but I repeat them - “We wish to. live in peace and happiness with our neighbours, the Japanese, and all other nations. We have no ideas of aggression, but, if challenged, we must look after ourselves in the matter of defence.” That contingency can be avoided by a mutual heart-to-heart talk amongst the representatives of the nations. I ask the Prime Minister to do everything possible to that end.
..- My remarks upon the motion will be very brief, and I shall preface them with a few words about the naval expert and hero of Jutland, who has just resumed his seat. He has given us a large amount of information upon military and naval matters, but I am not sure that it had anything to do with theamendment. He has told you, Mr. Speaker, that he is acquainted with Admiral Scott, Admiral
Jellicoe, and various other admirals. I also would like to say that I claim a number of them amongst my acquaintances. I know Admiral Beatty; I went to college with him, and he has frequently sought my advice on great questions of State. I am sure, sir, that when I give you information of that character it will certainly counterbalance that which has been given by the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks). The honorable member said something about the nonnecessity for great capital ships. He told us that the time for them had passed on account of the wonderful capacity of the submarine, which with a 15-lb. or 20-lb. charge can blow the largest ship out of the water. Then he went on to say that Australia has no dockyards for the accommodation of the big ships that she does not require. Then having demonstrated that we do not want big ships, but little ships, we find we do not want dock yards, or want anything at all, because the future battles are to be in the air. I do not’ know, and so I leave this question to my friend, Admiral Beatty, who is the only admiral the honorable member does not claim amongst his acquaintances.
Perhaps I may be permitted to ask one or two questions on this subject. Whatdid the Prime Minister say? He clearly and definitely stated that, so far as naval matters are concerned, any agreement would be referred back to this Chamber. I agree with him, because any such decision will necessarily involve expenditure over which this House should exercise control. The Prime Minister also made various other affirmations. He stated, as far as I understood him, that if the Treaty with Japan contained nothing which would sacrifice the interests of the people of Australia, he would be agreeable to it. But many other subjects, equally affecting the vital interests of this country, apart from the question 0? White Australia, may be dealt with, and I say that any decisions regarding these should rest with the people. The Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) suggests that the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) had a referendum in mind when submitting his amendment, but I do not see any mention of a referendum in his proposal. It simply seeks a pledge from the Government that before we are committed to any course of action the Agreement shall come back to the people for consideration. The fate of the citizens of this country should not rest entirely in the hands of one man. That is all I claim as far as the Treaty is concerned.
– Do you say that we have power to make a Treaty ?
Mr.ANSTEY. - No. You have said that.
– I say we have not.
– The Prime Minister at the close of his speech, said that provided the Treaty was satisfactory to Great Britain and America he would approve of it.
– But I did not say that I would make it.
– What is the value of the Prime Minister’s approval if he has nothing to do with it? I am not begging the question. I am merely making a plain statement.
– I say that Great Britain can make this Treaty whether we like it or not.
– And that is what I am saying.
– Whether we approve or not, Great Britain can still make the Treaty, and would not agree to suspend it until it was submitted to the people of Australia.
– That is not suggested in the amendment as far as I understand it.
– You look at the last lines - “subject to the approval and ratification of the people of Australia.”
– Quite right.
– Well, what does that mean ?
– I do not know what interpretation the honorable member for West Sydney placed upon his amendment, but as I read it there is nothing about a referendum. And, after all, there are hundreds of different ways, apart from a referendum, in which approval may be obtained.For instance, if the Government behind the back of Parliament agreed to a certain course of action, it could say that it was acting in the name and on behalf of the people. This amendment merely says that matters dealt with at the Conference shall be subject to the ratification of the people of Australia, and I am supporting it because I want those matters to come back to us. At least, they should he brought to this Parliament for the approval of the representatives of the people.
– It is no good wasting time. I shall not have time to speak tonight ; but I may tell the honorable member that the long-established practice is that no Treaty made by Britain binds Australia, or any of the other Dominions, until they have approved it.
– Is that so?
– That is the longestablished practice.
– I am glad to hear it. I speak so seldom in this House that I do not want to be accused of wasting time when I do address honorable members. The Prime Minister now states that. Treaties are subject to ratification here.
– All Treaties.
– Now we have two statements. Honorable members may take whichever they like. As a matter of “fact, Great Britain is in a position to settle the destinies of this country whether we like it or not.
– What I said was that, this Treaty is between Great Britain - not the British Empire - and the Empire of Japan.
– That is what I am saying. The Prime Minister and I agree when we talk to each other, but. unfortunately we do not agree when we talk to the public. Coming back to my point again : We have, as I have said, two propositions, one being that Australia, as a subordinate country, has no say in regard to this Treaty between Great Britain and Japan. This means, of course, that the Treaty may be settled irrespective of our wishes.
– I did not say that. You get up with one idea in your head, and you are determined to shove it down our throats if possible ; . but in this case it will not go down.
– I repeat, that there are two propositions. Honorable members may take whichever they like. The Prime Minister cannot hop about like a sparrow from twig to twig, selecting whichever little twig it suits him to light upon. I deny him that right in this matter. We have the proposition that Great Britain, in dealing with Japan, can settle the destinies of this country without our having anything to say in the matter.
– That is not so.
– Well, a little while ago it was so.
– No. I did not say it was so.
– The Prime Minister’s statement is simply an attempt to delude the public. My view is that Great Britain does settle matters of this kind irrespective of our wishes. All that she has ever done in the matter of treaties has been to pass them on to the Governments of the Dominions. It did not matter whether they said “Yes” or “No” to them. They got it “in the neck “ all the same, whether they liked it or not.
– It is not fair to say that.
– Order! I must ask the right honorable the Prime Minister to allow the honorable member for Bourke to proceed.
– We should not forget the real position. If we have nothing further to do than to make a mere formal recognition, then, the sooner we recognise it the better. Great Britain settles the problem, and simply tells us what she has done. All we have to do is to indicate our approval; and what does it matter if we do not? In the circumstances, then, it is absolutely useless for anybody - and I say it with all respect to the Prime Minister - to go Home as the representative of this country. All that is really required of our representative is to set out clearly and definitely to the Home Government where we stand. And I think there are two things we should say to the Home Government, whoever our representative may be. The first is, that no obligation into which Great Britain may enter, and which seeks to bind this country in any shape or form to fight alongside of Japan, or of any other Asiatic race, against the United States of America, shall ever receive our indorsement. That is emphatic and definite. Then, the second has to do with the policy of a White Australia. I do not believe that the present Treaty in any way compromises, or takes away from us, the right to maintain our White Australia policy. The highest interests of Great Britain are involved in not creating any more enemies. The Prime Minister has asked, What does the Old Country owe to Australia? She owes an immense deal ; and in saying that I am not posing as an Australian born, for I came from the Old Country. There are Englishmen who have answered the question for us. The late Joseph Chamberlain, speaking to an immense audience in St. Andrew’s Hall, Glasgow, after the Boer war, said, “ Do you not recognise that these great Dominions do something more than furnish a market ? They furnish us with men, and these are of immense value to the centre of the Empire.” I do not wish to be performing the patriotic stunt, but I think I can remember reading something concerning what the men of this country have done away on Gallipoli or on the Somme. Have I not read that it was the men of Australia who, either by reason of their superior social status, or from the advantages of their physique, and from their abilities as individuals, or because of all these things, were really the finest storm troops that the war produced? And have I not read that it was the Forces of this country which, . when the British were overwhelmed, stemmed the German flood, poured into the gap left by the Fifth Army, and so protected Amiens that the fortunes of the war were turned to victory for the Allied cause? Thus, then,does not the Empire owe something to its outlying Dominions? But if neither material advantages from the view-point of the creation of markets nor the fact of the outlying portions furnishing the finest storm troops amount to any real reasons why the centre of the Empire should find adequate naval and military protection for these shores against any and all foreign invasion, there is another reason. E ven if this were a black man’s country, and even if we were not a patriotic people and had not sacrificed ourselves as I have read that we have done in the Great War, there is another and a more cogent reasonthan all - one that is more powerfulthan either the blood ties of kith and kin or racial obligations. That other reason is, money. Great Britain has invested from £500,000,000 to £1,000,000,000 of British capital in, the Dominions; and, even if she should not be prepared to fight for the maintenance of a white race within this land, it is certain, at least, that she will fight for the protection of her bond-holders. So let us not be afraid that Britain will fail to furnish protection for Australia against foreign aggression.
– Surely we should do our share !
– Surely ; and, without being called upon to go over this patriotic stunt business again, let me say that surely we have done our share. We have to consider the problems of this country The Anglo- Japanese Treaty has been entirely altered, in its every aspect, from what it was before the war. In those days Australia’s position was that whatever might have been the arrangement between Great Britain and Japan, we were largely ignorant of it But the risks that face us to-day did not confront us before the great war, for that conflict has developed two gigantic powers. One honorable member has alreadypointed out the enormous new power of the United States of America. She has built up a tremendous army and a huge navy.I have before me a review which gives striking particulars of the development of the forces of offence and defence in the United States of America. Does America, at this hour, think of the curtailment of her army and navy ? No. Britain to-day is exactly in the same position as the United States of America before the War. In those days Britain said, “ We are prepared to arrange for and to enter into any treaties with any and every nation on earth for the curtailment of armaments. We do not wish to participate in a continuanceof this mad race of armaments. But there is just one fundamental condition which we must lay down and observe; that is, thai Great Britain should have two for you one. If you have 200 ships we shall have 400; if you have 2,000 we shall have 4,000.” Now the war is ended and Britain can no longer maintain that ratio. Britain to-day is in the position of the United States of America before the war, and America occupies the pre-war position of Great Britain. America now says, “ Oh, yes, we believe in the limitation of armaments, but if you have two we shall have three; if you have 200 we shall have 300;. if you have 2,000 we shall have 3,000. We are bound to maintain ourselves as the most powerful naval and military nation on earth.” The other day there was held at St. Louis a Convention at which the American namesake of our Prime Minister, who is now «i member of the United States of America, Cabinet, said, “ The American Republic novar retreats. The American flag is the only flag that has never known defeat. We follow it because the hand that carries it is the unseen hand of God; and we shall follow it ever to victory.” Every nation, of course, has its own glorious flag, which is carried by the unseen hand of God. The unfortunate circumstance is that there are so many gods. However, that does not matter. All the nations pray to their God for victory, and should he fail them they have the sense to ‘ lame their own wickedness, by way of explanation of the defeat of their God and themselves in battle. The situation existing between Japan and the United States of America cts not a mere matter of the occupation of some American soil by a comparatively few Japanese. And -the situation between Australia and Japan is not a mere matter of colour involving just a few men. The whole business is, in fact, a struggle of the great nations for the conquest and exploitation of China and her gigantic assets. Great Britain and Japan are in alliance for the exploitation of the four hundred millions of Chinese people, for the seizure of their railways, the realization of their tremendous iron ore deposits, the spoliation ot their wealth. Japan, under an arrangement with Great Britain, has marched into. Eastern Siberia and overthrown the authority there established; and, in that territory, Japan, proposes to purine a policy of exploitation.
There are two clear and definite statements which must he embodied in any Treaty that in any way identifies us with, an Asiatic race if it is to be acceptable io the people of this country. For example, it must not be provided in any alliance entered into between Great Britain and Japan that these ports of ours shall be coaling stations for Japanese vessels of war, and not for the vessels of the American Fleet. In, other words, the Treaty must not provide that we are to be linked up with the Japanese in opposition to the white people of the American Republic. It must not mean that we are to be bound by the alliance in such a way that in the event of war between America and Japan we should be compelled to treat the American citizens in this country as we did the Germans during the recent conflict. Are we to be bound upon- a declaration of war between America and Japan to treat every American citizen in the Commonwealth as an enemy subject and’ confiscate his property ? Is it likely that we can be called upon, to seize their ships, and at- the same time be inevitably bound to grant social privileges to the Japanese, which will be den-ied to American citizens 1 Shall we be asked to give the Japanese the right to coal their transports while denying those rights to the ships of the American nation ? That, I fear, is the position into which this country is being driven. Take the situation that is developing in the Atlantic. We have been told in the newspapers that the Americans have taken their fleet through the Panama Canal into the Pacific, where it is concentrating. For what purpose? We can see with what contempt British naval strength is being treated at this very. hour.
The recent conflict has taught us that America is the master of the economic situation. The closing of the ports is Russia, the Black Sea, and the Baltic has thrown,- trade into a country which is a large producer of foodstuffs. Because of the policy that has been adopted in the past these things have become a menace, and the Avar has shown us that to an extent we are dependent upon the productions of the American Republic to supply us with the material with which to fight. The American Republic exercises full economic control, and we know very well the position in which the Allies would have been if America, with all the forces at her command, had not entered into the recent struggle. How necessary it is for us$ united as we are to her by the ties of race, and kith and kin, and with a strong affection for the Motherland, to tell ‘her the position that is facing us, and how false would be our position if we were to be associated with an Asiatic race in a titanic struggle with a white people. Is it not better from the stand-point of those who talk loyalty that we should follow the example of Lloyd George, when he said to the British Parliament that they did not understand the psychology of the miner? We could say with equal force that British Ministers do not under* stand the psychology of the Australian people. There is no government, no law, or no power which could compel the people of Australia by reason of their peculiar psychology to fight side by side with an Asiatic race against a white man’s country. Our loyalty to the Empire, if nothing else, necessitates that this point should be made quite clear, whatever Treaty may come back to us - if any does come back - after the Imperial Conference. It has been stated - who was it who said it - that this last war was a war to end all wars ? Who was it who put forward such a preposterous proposal ? Men have been sent to gaol for saying that the conflict was being waged for the benefit of commercial interests. Someone said that the struggle was being waged in the interests of rival robbers, who were anxious to secure the markets of the world. Human material was provided, and sacrifice and suffering endured merely for the benefit of those who were really traitors to their nation. What a preposterous suggestion, then, that the war was to end war! I remember one gentleman saying, not long ago, that the war had achieved its object, and that it had produced what it was intended to produce, and had brought to us a long and lasting peace. The same gentleman said it had landed us in the green fields of a perpetual peace; but he now says, “Who would be so stupid as to say that the war would end all wars.” I do not intend to. mention names; but those who are interested can look up his speech, and see what was actually said.
– Will the honorable member read his own speech? Is this a performance ?
– Yes. It is a performance such as the right honorable gentleman has put up from time to time with great success, and to the admiration of his supporters.
– Why does not the honorable member say a little more about England, Japan, and America?
– The Prime Minister has asked me to say a little more about England ; but I have said all I desire to say. I do not desire to cast any reflections in any shape or form. I endeavour to be a pro-Australian, because I recognise that this country has given me many advantages which the land of my birth denied me. About Japan I have nothing more to say, except that it is our clear and solemn duty to Australia to at least tell the Old Country that we are not prepared to link up with an Asiatic race in any conflict against white people. That is clear and definite. Many of us have been condemned as traitors to our country, irrespective of the fact that we are linked to Britain by ties of race and blood, because we endeavoured to speak the truth, and point out to the working people of Australia that war can produce nothing but misery. The last conflict has shown that war can produce nothing but hardship and privation for the working classes of all countries, and that it is only those who did not make any sacrifice who benefited. We see to-day that the Gorman miners are working for an allowance of bread and sausage; the miners of Prance, flooded with German coal, are walking destitute in the streets of their cities; the miners of England, many of whom fought on the field of battle, have had their wages reduced by 5s. in five weeks, while the steel-workers of England have suffered a reduction of 40 per cent, in their wages. That is the reward which the blood-stained rulers of Empires have offered to the masses of their working people. Even Mr. Lloyd George has exclaimed at the miserable and repulsive conditions under which the miners in some of the poorer districts of Great Britain are working.
– How much better off would they have been if Germany had won ?
– How much better off is any one except a few dominant rich men ? What is the condition of the masses ?
– All the Germans are tarred with the same brush. They are all as bad as one another.
– The right honorable gentleman is quite right; but he does not carry his words to their logical conclusion. I am quite prepared to admit that the Germans are all tarred with the same brush, from the worker to the Kaiser, but under those conditions it is only proper that, having achieved victory, we should deal out the same punishment to all, whereas the Kaiser riots in luxury while the masses of the German people are on. the verge of starvation. When anyone talks to me of Germany, I do not forget the fact that leadingmen of that race are also identified with the government of the country to which I belong. I do not forget that many of its financiers, and some of those who have stood on the throne of our country, have not been of British extraction, but were of the very race we are now condemn- . ing. In fact, I have read that, in the time of the Georges, the very dogs howled and barked in German. I have seen the mines of Great Britain flooded with foreign workers. The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks) has told two or three stories in connexion with naval, expeditions. I shall tell a story of what happened whilst I was in London. I was invited to a dinner at Leadenhall-street by the London Port Authorities. I was seated between the chairman of the port and the engineer , of the port. The chairman had made one of those dashing patriotic speeches that all people who love to fleece their countrymen can make. He had spoken of the “ noble British workers.” I asked the engineer who the chairman was. He said, “He is one of the greatest employers of labour in London.” I asked, “ What is he engaged in?” He said, “The sugar industry.” “The sugar industry,” I repeated, because I remembered the sugar industry in the East End of London, and how, when I was a boy, nearly every Englishman had been driven out of it to find room for cheap continental labour. The engineer replied, “ Yes, the sugar industry.” Thereupon I said, “He employs every race on earth except his own.” The engineer said, “ No, you are making a mistake.” Then he leaned across to the chairman, and said to him, “ Mr. Anstey has been misinformed about you. Some one has been telling him that you employ every race on earth except your own in your industry.” The chairman, sipping his soup very comfortably, immediately said, “Yes, it is true; but not a German - not since the war.”
– There are too many Englishmen like that.
– Yes, there are. Any Englishman who would degrade his fellow countrymen in that way is a bigger enemy of the Empire than is a foreign workman. When I told my brother of this incident he said, “They have employed nothing but niggers and Chows since the war started.” I know how the crowd that trumpet’ the British Empire have loaded every ship which carried the British flag with niggers because it costs more to employ English sailors. I know how they live on the degradation and misery of their fellow countrymen. A Minister opposite me talks about “ loving Germans.” When I say that I detest a German I do not look across the border to see whether he is a worker, but I look up to the throne, and I do not stop howling “Down with the Germans!” when I do so. What has the Minister to say to that ? He does not like the truth. . All I can say is that for years things have been working clearly and definitely to the end we now see coming about, not only in Germany, France, and England, with their reductions of wages amongst the coal miners and steel workers, but also in America, where wages are to be reduced in the same odious fashion, on the ground that the Americans cannot get commodities to Europe unless the wage are reduced. On the other hand, the wages of the workmen of Europe are being reduced on the ground of American competition; and what is occurring there will take place in Australia.
– The honorable member ought to go to the picture shows and theatres, and see what is being done here.
– Quite so. ‘Good luck to those who have the money to attend the picture shows. The time may come when they will not have the opportunity of doing so; and good luck to them if they do attend while they have a chance of doing so.
What I have said to-night has been uttered without any ill-feeling or friction except, perhaps, when some one has tried to put the German “ gag” on me. The question of naval defence and the renewal of the Anglo-Japanese Treaty boiled down amounts to the same thing, and requires no argument. The answer was given by the Treasurer when he went to Sydney the other day and told the people that we were face to face with declining revenue and increasing expenditure in the shape of interest. The very problem confronting Great Britain to-day eonfronts us also, that is to say, diminishing trade, declining markets, and diminishing Customs revenue owing to declining values of imports, with an increasing expenditure owing to the fact that every new loan has to he renewed at a higher rate of interest. These difficulties face every country in the world except, perhaps, Japan and America, because of the fact that they were free from the world’s conflict. Every big belligerent country has to face the facts as I have stated them. Therefore it is useless to talk about increasing our naval expenditure. We cannot do it. As far as the Treaty is concerned, quite apart from our White Australia policy, it is only fair that, before giving acquiescence to it, we should see definitely what terms it contains. I hope that the gentleman who follows me will not be subjected to the numerous interjections which have not only occupied my time, but also so disturbed my thoughts as to make my speech more theatrical than it otherwise would have been.
– There is one thing, I think, with which honorable members will agree, namely, that boiled down into a splendid sentence–
– Unless we can make an arrangement to finish this debate at a reasonable hour to-morrow, we must sit till a later hour than usual to-night.
– There are five other speakers, apart from the honorable member for Melbourne, and including the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine), who wishes to address himself to the amendment. The Whip has been round and ascertained that.
– It is too much to expect that five honorable members can speak between 11 o’clock to-morrow and the time when honorable members must catch their trains. We shall not sit all night, but we must sit a little later than usual this evening.
– I have no objection to that. There is one thing which the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) made quite plain, namely, that Australia will not fight America. The Prime Minister agrees with my statement.
– I have said quite plainly that we could not think of such a thing, and it is only fair to say that England would never agree to any alliance which would involve the chance of war with the United States of America.
– I, too, am of that opinion. The Old Country would not accept any Treaty which would compel her to fight upon the side of another nation against the United States of America.
– It is unthinkable.
– A frontier of over 3,000 miles without a single soldier upon it divides Canada from the United States of America. That is the greatest monument of humanity. At the same time, no word of mine will be used in disparagement of Japan. I understood the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr- Marks) to say that, if the Germans, instead of following the British example of building large warships, had possessed fifty more submersibles, the flag of England would have been defeated during the recent war. I hold that, had Japan been an Ally of Germany, we today should have been endeavouring to speak either German or Japanese. Nothing could have saved us. Japan has been a loyal Ally. What do China and Japan owe to the white race? HadI been born under either of their flags, I should have only, one motto - “Death to. the white races!” The infamies of the past have not been forgotten ; and, if it should be in the lap of the gods that Australia must be dominated by a coloured race, I hope that it will be dominated by the Chinese. No other nation has yet risen to greatness with less bloodshed or war.As the result of my brief visit to the East, I am satisfied that if a powerful nation were led by the genius of Japan, not merely Australia, but the world, would be at its feet. If ever the yellow races possess a military organizer who is the equal of that great philosopher Confucius, they will dominate the world unless all the white races combine to resist them. In such a contingency I trust that the United States of America and Great Britain will be found in the forefront. To give the ex-Kaiser his due, though I would like to see him hanging at the end of a rope, the picture that he painted was one of which the future must take cognisance. In it were depicted the armed figures of Germany, Austria, and Italy facing the terrible dragon rising from the East. Italy, as England’s best friend, was endeavouring to induce her to unsheath the sword. I am .always sorry to hear Australians unjustly decrying Americans. As the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) has truly said, America fed England during the early days of the war. As far back as 1905 I wrote the following: -
So far as we in Australia are directly concerned, I see, first of all, and more important than all, though ultimately worthless, unless knit with all, one effective ally, one union, that will beget a confident hope, or rather, a sure trust in any future, that is with the United States of America. The road thither may be very distasteful to much that is aggressively, rather than self-sacrificingly British. But even if, with cap in hand, it were better thither, and with that purpose, than ultimately, with sackcloth on our loins and ashes on our heads, to put our neck beneath the heel of the Eastern Conqueror.
I am proud that I had the prescience to foresee what would happen. Japan has honoured our race in a way that no country ever honoured it before. Recognising the trouble that Eastern nations experience, knowing that after the missionaries come the traders, Japan asked our greatest philosopher what was the best means of avoiding quarrels with other nations. In reply, Herbert Spencer wrote the most important letter that ever the brain of man devised, and Japan loyally followed his advice. The position is not merely, as the Prime Minister has said, that Japan will not allow any foreigner to own land there, that she will not permit the importation of foreign labour, and that she has actually repatriated Chinese labourers. It is far more than that. In Japan to-day, owing to the advice of Herbert Spencer, no foreigner can hold land or have an interest in the tramways or railways of the country. ‘ The late Sir Malcolm McEacharn was Consul for Japan in Victoria, but he could not get a franchise from the Japanese Government. He had to trust’ to the honesty of the Japanese. Foreigners may not hold land under lease in Japan, and provision is made for only annual tenancies. At one time ho European was allowed to remain in Tokio, the capital, unless he was a Government servant. Foreigners are not allowed to hold interest in mines or coasting steamers, nor to have shares in the principal banks. I do not think
I shall weary honorable members if I read the wonderful letter which Herbert Spencer addressed to Kentaro Kaneko, on 26th August, 1892, and upon which these provisions were based. It is to be found at page 321 of the Life and Letters of Herbert Spencer, by David Duncan, LL.D. It is as follows : -
Your proposal to send translations of my two letters to Count Ito, the newly-appointed Prime Minister, is quite satisfactory. I very willingly give my assent.
Respecting the further questions you ask, let me, in the first place, answer generally that the Japanese policy should, I think, be that of keeping Americans and Europeans as much as possible at arm’s length. In presence of the more powerful races, your position is one of chronic danger, and you should take every precaution to give as little foothold as possible to foreigners.
It seems to me that the only forms of intercourse which you may with advantage permit are those which are indispensable for the exchange of commodities and exchange of ideas - importation and exportation of physical and mental products. No “further privileges should be allowed to people of other races, and especially to people’ of the more powerful races, than is absolutely needful for the achievement of these ends. Apparently, you are proposing,by revision of the treaty powers with Europe and America, “ to open the whole Empire to foreigners and foreign capital.” I regard this as a fatal policy. If you wish to see what is likely to happen, study the history of India. Once Jet one of the more powerful races gain a point d’appui, and there will inevitably, in course of time, grow up an aggressive policy which will lead to collisions with the Japanese. These collisions will be represented as attacks by the Japanese which must bc avenged; Forces will be sent from America or Europe, as the case may be;, a portion of territory will bc seized, and required to be made over as a foreign, settlement; and from this there will grow eventually subjugation of the entire Japanese Empire. I believe that you will have great difficulty in avoiding this fate in any case; but you will make the process easy if you allow any privileges to foreigners beyond those which I have indicated.
In pursuance of the advice thus generally indicated, I should say, in answer to your first question, that there should be, not only a prohibition to foreign persons to hold property and land, but also a refusal to give them leases, and a permission only to reside as annual tenants.
To the second question,. I should say, decidedly prohibit to foreigners the working of the mines owned or worked by Government. Here there would be obviously liable to arise grounds of difference between the Europeans or Americans who worked them and the Government, and these grounds of difference would immediately become grounds of quarrel, and would be followed by invocations to the English or . American Governments or other powers to send forces to insist on whatever the European workers claimed, for always the habit here and elsewhere among the civilized peoples is to believe what their agents or settlers abroad represent to them.
In the third place, in pursuance of the policy I have indicated, you ought also to keep the coasting trade in your own hands, and forbid foreigners to engage in it. This coasting trade is clearly not included in the requirement I have indicated as the sole one to be recognised - a requirement to facilitate exportation and importation of commodities. The distribution of commodities brought to Japan from other places may bc properly left to the Japanese themselves, and should be denied to foreigners, for the reason that again the various transactions involved would become so many doors open to quarrels and resulting aggressions.
To your remaining question, respecting the intermarriage of foreigners and Japanese, which you say is “ now very much agitated amongst our scholars and politicians,” and which you say is “ one of the most difficult problems,” my reply is that, as rationally answered, there is no difficulty at all. It should be positively forbidden. It is not at root a question of social philosophy. It is at root a question of biology. There is abundant proof, alike furnished by the intermarriages of human races and by the interbreeding of animals, that when the varieties mingled diverge beyond a certain slight degree, the result is invariably a bad one in the long run. I have myself been in the habit of looking at the evidence bearing en this matter for many years past, and my conviction is based upon numerous facts derived from numerous sources.’ This conviction I have, within the last half-hour, verified, for I happen to be staying in the country with a gentleman who is well known as an authority on horses, cattle, and sheep, and knows much respecting their interbreeding; and he has -just, on inquiry, fully confirmed my belief that when, say, of different varieties of sheep, there is an interbreeding of those which are widely unlike, the result, especially in the second generation, is a bad one - there arises an incalculable mixture of traits, and what may. be called chaotic constitution. And the same thing happens among human beings - the Eurasians, in India, and the half-breeds in America, show this. The physiological basis of this experience appears to be that any one variety of creature in course of many generations acquires a certain constitutional adaptation to its particular form of life, and every ether variety similarly acquires its own special adaptation. The consequence is that, if you mix the constitution of two widely divergent varieties which have severally become adapted to widely divergent modes of life, you get a constitution which is adapted to the mode of life of neither - a constitution which will not work properly, because it i3 not fitted for any set of conditions whatever. By all means, therefore, peremptorily interdict marriages of Japanese with foreigners.
I have, for the reasons indicated, entirely approved of the regulations which have been established in America for restraining the
Chinese immigration; and had I the power would restrict them to the smallest possible amount, my reasons for this decision being that one of two things must happen. If the Chinese are allowed to settle extensively in America, they must cither, if they remain unmixed, form a subject race in the position, if not of slaves, yet of a class approaching to slaves; or if they mix they must form a bad hybrid. In either case, supposing the immigration to be large, immense social mischief must arise, and eventually social disorganization. The same thing will happen if there should be any considerable mixture of the European or American races with the Japanese.
You see, therefore, that my advice is strongly conservative in all directions, and I end by saying as I began - keep other races at arm’slength as much as possible.
I give this advice in confidence. I wish that it should not transpire publicly, at any rate during my life, for I do not desire to rouse the animosity of my fellow countrymen.
P.S. - Of course, when I say I wish this advice to be in confidence, I do not interdict the communication of it to Count Ito, but rather wish that he should have the opportunity of taking it into consideration.
In order to show how well-founded was the fear of this great man that this advice would rouse the animosity of his fellow countrymen, I propose only to quote the following paragraph from the same work : -
Though he did not wish this letter made public during his life, Spencer has indorsed on the copies of the correspondence, “My letters of advice contained in this batch should be read and published.” Shortly after his death, the letter of August 26, was sent from Tokio for publication in the Times (18 January, 1904), which wrote of it as giving “advice as narrow, as much imbued with antipathy to real progress, as ever came from a selfsufficient, short-sighted Mandarin, bred in contempt and hatred of barbarians.”
I conjure my fellow Australians to approach Japan, if we must do so, with the magic word, “reciprocity” - that wonderful word that comes from Confucius. Let us say to the Japanese that as they honoured our race and language by going to the greatest of our philosophers for advice, they cannot blame Australians if we follow their example and desire to keep other races at arm’s length. We occupy the wider spaces of a whole continent. We have 11.4 times the territory of Japan. We may say to the Japanese, “If you can show that Australians are settled in your country, we will permit eleven times as many Japan- ese to settle in Australia, and will allow them to have eleven times more territory in Australia than an Australian is permitted to have in Japan.” The population of Japan is 11.4 times that of Australia, and if 100 Australians go to Japan, let us welcome 1,100 Japanese to Australia. But let us have reciprocity with Japan in the fullest sense of the word.
After much reading and great study of their arts during weeks and months spent in the British Museum, I came to the conclusion that the Japanese are the greatest and most artistic race that the world has ever seen. I may be reminded of the sculpture of the elder Greece, and I am prepared to own that it is more beautiful, and for a single reason. The Japanese did not choose beauty as an attribute of their gods, whereas the elder Greece more than any other nation that the world has ever seen, not even excepting our own race of the present day, made their gods beautiful. Honorable members have only to look at the copy of the great classic made by Richardson, the Australian sculptor, who was the first to win the double prize of painting and sculpture in England’s Academy. I refer to his glorious classic “Mercury,” a copy of which may be seen on the top of the Age newspaper building. “ Mercury” was the god of thieves and murderers, but his statue is made beautiful by the genius of the elder Grecian race. The bronzes of Japan equal those of Greece. No other nation can compete with the Japanese in lacquer work. Their carving on wood is unequalled. In black and white the works of Hokasai, whose period closed in 1859, are equal to the very highest productions of French artists, and Whistler said that the genius of painting was left with Velasquez and Hokasai, of Japan. The genius of the Japanese people is evident in everything they have done. The honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) will agree with me that the genius of the Japanese in medical and surgical science is admitted.
– A seven years’ course is required for one of theirmedi- cal diplomas. I can never forget that when a case of small-pox was discovered on a Japanese vessel by which I was travelling with our worthy SerjeantatArms, the first man to come up to be vaccinated was the captain himself.
Wages in Japan have risen 200, 300, and 400 per cent, since the time I published the notes to which I have referred. I do not wish to take credit for the book in which they appear. There is glorious language in that book, which is not mine, but that of my dearly cherished friend, Frank Myers, the genius who made the name of “ Telemachus “ ring through not only Australia, but the United Kingdom, by the articles he published in the Australasian. When I speak of Japan, no word of mine can be construed into contempt of the Japanese people. I trust that the unjust, cruel, and ridiculous criticisms of those people which have marred Australian journalism have passed for ever. They were prevented during the war, and they certainly should never be resumed. The Japanese are the cleanest race in the world. The first thing a domestic servant in Japan asks for is that she may have two hot baths a day. I can fancy a domestic help going to Toorak and asking the lady of the house for one hot bath a day. I can smile at such a request when I remember some of the dens in which I found servants accommodated when I was in active medical practice. The Japanese servant asks for two hot baths a day, and she will not accept service unless she can get one hot bath a day. The rickshaw man who drives you in Japan will give you a giltedged card, and will have his hot bath at the end of each day.
The Japanese people were forced to open their doors. I wish them good luck, and I do so in gratitude for the help which they recently rendered us in Australia. But I want this beloved Australia of ours to be handed down as a white man’s heritage. I want Australia, if possible, to surpass little Switzerland, that country of three nationalities buried in the bosom of the Alps, which has earned the name of “ the school-house of Europe.” I want our beloved Australia to become the school-house of the world by setting the example of just laws, the elimination of the curse of poverty, and the giving to every man and woman a fair deal. I have seen some of the miseries of England, and they seared my mind. I hated and loathed not the race fromwhich my mother, a good old Somersetshire woman, sprung, but the laws which they permitted to obtain. One or two members of this House were present when I told a combined Committee of the House of Commons and House of Lords that the British franchise was worthy only of a barbarian nation. If honorable members care to turn to the Statesman’sYear-Book for 1914, from which I have quoted more than, once in this House, they can verify the statement I madeat the time, that the franchise in Great Britain was not equal to that of China, Japan, or Turkey. I was robbed of my vote for four years in London. I told the people there that their franchise was fitted only for a barbarian race, and that until they gave every man and woman in England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales a vote, they were nothing but a barbarous people. England to-day is cursed with the House of Lords, which is an embodiment of the vile and wicked past. She does not give human beings a fair show. Let any man look at the wheat lands of England, and he will find vast areas of wheat lands in that country had gone out of cultivation for a period of fifty years prior to the war. Go into the English workhouse and see how the poor are kept. That little land, fifty years before the war, used to grow more food for its people than it grows now. As a boy I was told that the laws of Ireland were unjust; that Irish landlords spent money in London that they ought to have spent in Ireland, leaving their agents to extract all they could from the tenants; but I was enjoined to remember that England had more poor people suffering from unjust laws than Ireland had, because there were more people in England. The death rate in England was as high as 800 for every 1,000 children in the first year after birth. The next highest death rate was 300, and the difference of 500 died from want of proper food, shelter, and clothing. I love England and honour its greatness; I recognise that its language has not only conquered the Celts of Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, but is the language of 100,000,000 people in the United States of America. The outlook for England will be great if she does not allow her cursed love of money and capital to cause her to sign a Treaty which Australia will not permit. I indorse the by no means uncertain words of the Prime Minister, which were deadly in their determination, to the effect that by no act of his would he agree to a Treaty between England and Japan if it might mean war or disagreement between us and the United States of America.
– Is that not the attitude of Great Britain, too?
– I am always afraid of the House of Lords - that abomination of the past and laughing-stock of the present. The House of Lords, which numbers600 members, deemed a quorum of three sufficient to manage the whole British Empire. The House of Lords must go. I believe the majority of the House of Commons would hate the idea of war with the United. States of America, and that ninety-nine out of every one hundred average Englishspeaking people have the same feeling. The honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) echoed the thoughts that have been enunciated by the Prime Minister, only much more determinedly. We should show America our appreciation of the glorious words spoken by Admiral Sperry, when he called at New Zealand on the occasion of the visit of the AmericanFleet. He was asked about the yellow peril, and, though I forget his. words, they were to the effect, “ You need never be afraid so long as the Stars and Stripes float over the oceans of the world.” These were glorious words; and this House will determine that under no circumstances shall Australians be put into a position which would lead them to fight alongside an Asiatic race against the United States of America. If I am any judge of the fighting instincts of that great country, which fed England, Scotland, and Wales during the war, and did so much to end the war, it will look on Australia as a younger brother, and carry on the work she has undertaken. The United States of America stands sentinel between the diseases of the East and Australia. No ship can go into any port of the Manilas without strict inspection; the mere dictum of the captain is not taken. A paper has to be signed’ by a Consul of the United States of America at every port, showing the number of infectious and contagious cases during the previous fortnight or so. This declaration is viseed by American Consuls, even on the coast of Australia; and we owe a meed of praise to the United States of America on that account. When I, together with Mr. Speaker, other members of the House, and the Sergeant-at-Arms were travelling from Thursday Island, two of our party were vaccinated with American lymph on one arm and Japanese lymph on the other, and got on splendidly. As for myself, my old and beloved friend, the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Bamford), and the President of the Senate, we were vaccinated with what I call filth, so-called Australian lymph, which sent our temperatures up unpleasantly high. I feel certain that the Prime Minister will keep imbedded in his mind the thought. that we Australians, loving the Homeland as we do, would be glad if a Treaty is arrived at with Japan with which we can agree, and which cannot, under any circumstances, be construed into an agreement to take part with Japan against the United States of America.
– ^1 am very sorry that I am compelled by force of circumstances to address myself to a very serious question at such a late hour. As a matter of fact, during the first couple of days of the present part of the session, I did not intrude myself into the serene atmosphere which surrounds you, sir, for the reason that I had come to the House in the first place, in the confident expectation of being an interested witness of a contest between the forces of Cadwallader Llewellyn on the one side, and Scots wha hae wi’ Wallace bled on the other. I was so disappointed that I retired to my mountain fastnesses for several days to recover my mental equilibrium. However, when I heard that foreign affairs were being discussed, and about to be settled without reference to this Parliament, it appeared to me that, at whatever inconvenience to myself, I should record a few scattered thoughts on the subject. The motion before the House is that a paper should be printed. It is a favorite method with the Prime Minister for inviting and securing discussion on matters more or less related to the paper in question. T hope the paper will ultimately be printed because, by that means alone, rather than by anything that is said in the course of this discussion, we shall gather what is involved in the Mandate to us of certain territories in the Pacific. For the rest, I shall not defile my soul with the base falsehood that I agree in any substantial part with what the right honorable the Prime Minister said in moving the motion. I am not worrying over the new and mysterious status which Australia is assumed to have won, and now to possess, whatever may be meant by this phrase of “ new and enlarged status,” because my view is that if the Australian Labour party come into power, as they doubtless will at no very remote date, they will be influenced in regard to foreign affairs more by the deliberately expressed will of the Australian people than by the expression of persons outside, however emiment, or in however solemn convocation they may be assembled. On the other hand, if what I may call by the somewhat vulgar title of “ Hughesism “ is to prevail, we shall doubtless pursue our easy alternate roler6le of sycophant and boaster. On the one hand we shall continue to declare, through our responsible statesman, that we are a nation new-born and giant-like, almost invulnerable, and with, the other voice we shall continue, abject and toadying, to insist in cringing tones that Australia is nothing save what it is by the grace of Britain, and’ that we are but as the froth blown from the cup of Britain’s greatness. As might have been expected, the Prime Minister has clothed a great deal of platitude in ornate, highsounding, elegant phrases. He was joined in this regard by the honorable membefor Balaclava (Mr. Watt). These two gentlemen apparently forgot all such mundane and local affairs as the stagemanaged reception of one by the ‘ ether , forgot entirely that very unflattering testimonial put on record by the honorable member for Balaclava relating te the Prime Minister, and agreed to bur their differences in a kind of turgid stream of rhetorical cant. A fair sample of this is supplied- in such phrase as ‘ ‘ The British Constitution is the supreme achievement of the genius of the race for selfgovernment. History may be ransacked in vain to find a parallel.” It seems to be assumed, and doubtless it is the correct thing to say it, as something beyond argument, that the British Constitution is to be regarded as a perfect instrument, because,, with its weird concatenation of law and custom, the people of Britain - and by the people of Britain I mean especially the outraged and despoiled masses of the British people - have suffered no more than the people of other countries under other autocracies. Occasionally the supreme jest is perpetrated, by some gilded and well-paid hereditary aristocrat, of declaring that Britain is a great. Democracy. I heard the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) with pleasure when he dealt with the position of Britain as a great Democracy. In recent years, at all events, there have been some more hopeful signs, so far as Pritain and her harassed and disfranchised people are concerned. Although one who claims to be a real Democrat cannot help feeling some disappointment at the abortive efforts recently made by the suppressed and depressed human atoms of Britain, through their organized labour unions, to assert themselves, still there are, in the recent industrial uprisings in that country, some hopeful signs that my brethren in Great Britain are beginning, at long last, to take the correct measure of the perennial liar of their country. This great Empire of ours, about which we should speak, so we will be told, only words of reverence, with bated breath, is great in my view in proportion to the measure of the independence of its component parts. But so far as its Government retains its grip upon any of those parts logically and geo graphically separated from it, and separated, too, from it in their ideals and spirit, so far does this Empire, through its responsible spokesmen, become and continue to be a pestilent nuisance and failure. In Australia, Canada, and South Africa we may flatter ourselves with the external manifestations of Empire, We flatter ourselves with the comforting thought that no harm comes to us from the Imperial connexion, for the very simple reason that there is nothing more than the sentiment of union with the fact of independence. If at any moment any person were to attempt to forge upon Australia a real chain of connexion, at once the spirit of revolt would run through the length and breadth of this continent. The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt) admitted that there remains nothing at the present time but an invisible line. The truth is that the Imperial connexion between Australia and the Motherland is purely one of sentiment. I respect that sentiment. I do not find fault with those who turn to their motherland in a spirit of respectful regard and affection; on the contrary, I respect them for it. I appreciate and share their viewpoint, but were it attempted to forge a chain upon this country, or upon Canada, or upon South Africa, which would in any way limit the free action of their political independence, revolt would be created in the Dominion concerned. Of course, absolute independence is limited, as we recently found to our cost, in the event of war. In the delirium of war men handed themselves over - may we hope that they will do better in the future - as bond slaves to the war workers. But, that apart, in India at present, and in Egypt in the recent past, the measure of exploitation, disfranchisement, and oppression is the measure of our Imperial greatness. In Ireland, force and terror are “ the supreme achievement “ - to quote the words of the Prime Minister-“ of the genius of our race.” So much for a few casual references to Empire.
Now about the proposed Japanese alliance. An alliance of the kind is to be welcomed in so far as it is the expression of goodwill on the part of the two countries towards each other. As one who claims to be something of an internationalist, I do not hesitate to express pleasure at sentiment of that kind manifested in an alliance beween Japan and Great Britain. So far as it is such, it will be welcome. But so far as it is a breach of -both the spirit and the letter of the covenant of the League of Nations, it is to be deprecated. So far as it is a reversion to secret agreements and hidden diplomacy, it is to be resented and condemned. So far as it constitutes a policy compromising us in our White Australia ideals and binds us to a race of the coloured family, and drags us, whether we will or no, into antagonism with the greatest white race in the world outside our own it is to be regretted and condemned. But 1 am more concerned with some observations of the Prime Minister in regard to this alliance. I recollect him saying that, as sure as we stand here, this Empire of ours would never have been built without British control of the seas. “ By an all-powerful British Navy this Empire has been built up; only by a powerful British Navy can it be maintained.” What the right honorable gentleman says may or may not be true. If it is true, it is a dreadful confession. It is an admission and a re-statement of the first principle of his creed that might is right. It bears out what we have always thought of him : that it is sti.l his view that our greatness stands on guns and gasconading, and that fight and force are at the base of our mightiness. In other words, it is just such a crude expression of Prussianism as an international policy as we had good reason to expect from the present Government. Ministers appeal to history in support of the policy when they say that we live by virtue of the allpowerful British Navy. Thus every cutthroat pirate returning with, his ill-gotten gains to lay them at the foot of a grateful British. Kins’, is, according to this view, to be our inspiration and our model. It is true that when the Prime Minister insisted that might is right, and that our greatness and our salvation depend upon the carrying power of our guns and the number and variety of our ships, he made the tardy acknowledgement that the Almighty may play some little part - though a part clearly ancillary to that of the Navy. The Almighty is secondary to the Navy, and acting in a subordinate capacity. Torn as the centre of the Empire is to-day with local industrial upheavals, distracted as it is by the Irish and Indian risings- risings against savage and persistent injustice r-this Empire cannot hope to endure, and will not deserve to endure, unless it substitutes a moral claim for the claim of force majeure. We are indebted to the Leader -of the Government (Mr. Hughes) for the statement) that every Australian citizen realizes that the destiny of this country is to be played on the mighty stage of the Pacific. That may be; but why ie it not to be played within the very extensive domain of this continent, which is surely large enough and broad enough to stage even so great a drama? The answer is - because we are about to partake of the first fruits of our policy of annexation, which, under the name of Man dates, compromises our safety in the Pacific, and makes it necessary, as the Prime Minister says is obvious to every citizen, that the destiny of this country is to be played on the mighty stage of that ocean.
– Hear, hear !
– Apparently, the honorable member is satisfied that we should have our responsibilities indefinitely and indecently extended beyond our needs. If it had not been for this mischievous policy of annexation, carried on in breach of the solemn pledges we made on. entering the Peace Conference, we might still have thought that as a. peaceloving people, with well-defined boundaries and an insular situation, we stood in a very hopeful situation for a long, if not perpetual, peace in the country to which we have established at least some sort of prescriptive claim.
Now as to the policy of White Australia, which, as I said a moment ago, is compromised by the alliance which, the Prime Minister has assured us in advance, he is going to the other side of the world to approve, because he told us that on White Australia - he would, insist. “ I shall have my way “ were his words. That is a very curious position for the right honorable gentleman to take up. It would not be curious for members on, this side of the House; i’-, would be logical and natural for them to say that, but what right has the Prime Minister, as Leader of the Government, and in view of what he has said, to declare that he will have his way against Britain? Has he not declared that we are but dross to Britain ? Has he not declared that we should kneel at the foot of Britain, acknowledging our complete dependence? Has he not declared that we owe her everything, and that in ourselves we are nothing? And yet upon the very first matter in regard to which there is likely to be a clash of opinion between Britain and ourselves he has the temerity to assure this Parliament, the country, and the world, so far as his voice reaches, that he will have his way. “Upon what principle of justice, upon what principle of propriety or common honesty, can he claim to have his way if what he has said is true? Doubtless he will have his way,’ for the reason that the Government will’ not be very much concerned with eitherthe propriety or honesty of the position they take up in this regard. I may be asked if I am in favour of the ideal of a White Australia. I am whole-heartedly in favour of it as an ideal, and I would not be afraid or ashamed, if I understood their language, to carry that view into the heart of the Japanese nation itself, because I believe, as many spokesmen of coloured races themselves have said, that there are sound reasons - economic, religious, and other - which should move the people of any race differing as the Oriental races do from our own, to accept the principle of a White- Australia as being in the best interests of all the nations concerned. In other words, the purity of the race, whatever it is, is involved; the maintenance of the ideals of the race, whatever the race may be, is involved, together with much else. Therefore, I would not be afraid or ashamed to advocate a White Australia even in the capital of Japan. But I do not admit for a single moment that the Prime Minister’s view-point is the correct one. I do not accept for a second his statement that this country lives only by the grace of Britain , nor will I submit to the view, without challenging it, that the national safety depends upon ships and cannon and force’. I contend that there are other better, more effective, and cheaper means of securing our immunity from war, and that, therefore, not only great material good may be obtained, but infinitely higher moral benefits accrue to the nation so acting. I would not for the world hurt the feelings of members, of the Government or their friends outside^ but when they would persuade me that the safety of this country and Britain and the world depends upon these ships floating somewhere in other seas, and the guns contained in them, and the men who man” them for the purpose of blowing the lives out of their fellow-men” I ask, “ What did this Navy do during the great war?” First of all, it did not prevent war. Secondly, it did not take any part in the war that is worth considering. It did not even prevent the seas being overrun with raiders and submarines, which in’ their turn also Were found to have pursued a futile and useless course. The British Navy on the one side and the ships of the enemy on the other side - the one lying idle’ in its harbors, and the other lying at the bottom of the sea - remain to-day splendid tributes to the useless- nes.3 of the policy of destruction.
And now, after all the money we have spent upon the great British navy, after all the taxation we have heaped upon the people of Great Britain and Ireland, and incidentally upon the people of this country, for its maintenance; after all our vain boasting that we owned and controlled the seas - though God knows why the people of any country should claim to control ocean highways destined for the use of the world - we are told that the navy is inadequate for the protection of Australia. This is the end of it all. This is the end” of our sacrifices to build and maintain a navy that to-day, at the zenith of its power,- is admitted to be inefficient for the purpose for which it was created- More ships, more blood, more fight. Let us take up the burdett again and set out on our long road without a goal carrying our chain without an end.
My own view is that our claim to hold this Commonwealth of Australia Tests on two grounds, interwoven one with the other, partly legal and partly moral. In the first place, if we are to assert the principle of a White Australia we must be able efficiently and effectively to occupy this country. We cannot hope to pursue definitely the dog-in-the-manger policy of occupying a country unused and unpeopled, placing a handful of people in certain portions of this great territory, while allowing other portions to remain unoccupied. We cannot, with 5,000,000 of people, hope to possess indefinitely a continent capable of adequately maintaining hundreds of millions of people. On legal and on moral grounds we must effectively occupy Australia if we hope to retain intact our White Australia policy. .Is the policy of this Government calculated to make Australia a white man’s land? Why, at this very, moment this Government, while expressing their determination to have their way so far as the exclusion of the colored races is concerned, are equally determined to have their way in excluding some people of the greatest white races in the world”. Out of the folly and bitterness of the recent war; and the spirit of futile vindictiven’ess which it engendered . the Government now refuse to admit into the Commonwealth colonists from countries with which, in recent years, we have been at war. Only recently the Government passed legislation through this House imposing restrictions on immigration which will render it very unlikely indeed that desirable immigrants will be attracted to this country so long as those restrictions stand.
– People like Esmond, for instance ?
– The Government insists on passing naturalization laws which must discourage desirable people from presenting themselves for naturalization; and generally, by their insane policy of exclusion, they are making this country as unattractive as possible to the people of other lands. I was not addressing myself for the moment to the position of any distinguished men of letters of the kind referred to by the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Bayley) when he mentioned Mr. Esmond. Only seldom does a man of such distinguished parts come here, and so far as general administration of our immigration laws is concerned, it is not worth our while to particularize the case of any individual, since the vindictiveness and stupidity of a policy which” would exclude such a man are only part of the general mismanagement of the affairs of this country.
I hope that, by means of a sane international policy, which I do not expect from the present Government, we shall be able to sustain our ideal of a White Australia. I believe that, when we finally abandon this baleful theory that we live by virtue of our guns and ships; when we are prepared to extend the right hand of fellowship to the people of every country in the world, whatever their colour may be; and to argue the question of immigration on sound lines of conciliation, we may hope to make Australia secure and to further indulge the hope that the Commonwealth will then be effectively occupied and substantially populated by people of the white races, people who deserve to retain it.
.- Before dealing with the amendment submitted by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan), I desire to refer to clause 2 of the Treaty. In the agreement of 1902, clause 2 provided that if one contracting party, in the defence of its territorial rights, became involved in war, the other contracting party would remain neutral. But in the agreement of 1905 and 1911 that particular section was considerably altered, inasmuch as it provided that, “If by reason of an unprovoked attack or aggressive action, wherever arising - “. That is, instead of keeping within the limits of the territory it goes further. It will go into the Pacific and into the Atlantic. It will go anywhere. It is not strictly confined to China or to Japan, or to India. Article II., from which I have just quoted, is set forth in the agreement of 1911 thus:-
If by reason of an unprovoked attack or aggressive action, wherever arising, on the part of any other Power or Powers, either High Contracting Party should be involved in war in defence of its territorial rights or special interests mentioned in the preamble of this Agreement, the other High Contracting Party will at once come to the assistance of its Ally, and will conduct the war in common, and make peace in mutual agreement with it.
The agreement as it at present stands cannot possibly be subscribed to by this Parliament or by the people of Australia, and most certainly not by the Government of this country. The enthusiastic protestations of the Government and their supporters, their general attitude regarding the White Australia policy, have been such as to preclude their subscription to anything in the nature of the terms of Article II. I am wondering what truth there is in that which is freely stated in Europe generally, and in America particularly, namely, that the many late converts to the White Australia policy have merely adopted that attitude for the purpose of working up the people of Australia into a frame of mind in which it may not be hard to get 30,000 or 40,000 Australian, troops sent into Asia. Sir Charles Rosenthal, speaking at Orange, New South Wales, some months ago; stated that he would not be at all surprised if within a few months Australian soldiers were participating in a war on the Indian frontier. Following’ the publication of those remarks the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) asked the Treasurer “(Sir Joseph Cook), who was at the time in charge of the House, whether it was a fact that Sir Charles, Rosenthal had made such a statement, whether he was in the employ of the .Commonwealth, and what authority he had so to speak. The Treasurer, in a more or less flippant reply, said he was not responsible for what Sir Charles Rosenthal might have said concerning the participation by Australian soldiers in a war on the Indian frontier. There are two facts outstanding in connexion with the position in India. One is that the Indian Nationalist movement is determined to secure some kind of freedom from the present oppression exercised by the capitalists of Great Britain, and the other is that the British Government, representing British capitalists, are just as determined that there shall be no such measure of freedom afforded the peoples of India. And it is frankly stated in Europe, and even more frankly stated in America, in militarist circles, that there will be war in India shortly. Interrogations have emanated from London concerning the attitude of Australia in the matter of her participation, should war break out in India. It is said that the modus operandi will take the form of Afghan risings on the frontier, which will grow to such dimensions as to necessitate the use of large bodies of troops in that theatre. Due to the state of mind created’ by the enthusiastic adulation of certain recent converts to the “White Australia policy, the Australian people will be expected to say, “Yes, if Australia is to be threatened by Asia, for God’s sake let us fight in Asia.” It is quite freely stated in the American press, and in certain sections of the London press, that already military operations have been planned in India, that transportation plans have been prepared, and that Australian and New Zealand officers aTe already thereWhether they were sent with the cognisance of this Government I do not know, but would like to learn. When Sir Charles Rosenthal tells the people of Australia that he would not be surprised if within eighteen months we’ are fighting in India, and when we have these pertinent observations in Europe and America, it is about time the people were informed exactly what is meant. I. should like to know from Ministers in this House whether it is a fact that there are Australian officers ready to take up their duties in India, and that it is intended to raise 40,000 soldiers in Australia to go to India. This matter will come before the Imperial Conference. No do abt, the Government have been already notified that the Indian question will be one of the most important arising for discussion. I dare say the Prime Minister has given some thought to the attitude he will adopt on behalf of Australia with respect to any troubles developing’ in India. One can quite understand the necessity for getting troops other than British to go to India. In the first place, the British Government have more than sufficient trouble on their hands at Home. They are finding it increasingly difficult to get soldiers to go to Ireland. There has been something like a six months’ recruiting campaign, and only the force of public opinion has prevented its continuance. Last month the authorities were appealing for troops for Ireland and for India. The industrialists of Great Britain are becoming more emphatic in their objection to British soldiers being sent to portions of the Empire to subdue possible risings or subjugate a section of the nation to which they belong. One can readily see that the massing of an army to go to India to suppress that nation would be extremely difficult. Hence an attempt will be made to drag Australia, willynilly, into a conflict in India. Possibly this is merely something that has been discussed in certain circles in London and in Europe. Probably at has only been, an academic discussion, and the questions sent to Australia as to our opinion on such a proposal are also academic, having been sent merely with the idea of getting information. Probably the statement made by Sir Charles Rosenthal was merely for the edification of a few men who desired to continue their military career, but the sinister significance appears to be that the matter was discussed by an officer who occupied an important position in the Australian Imperial Force. At the same time, statements are published in the American and European press on practically the same lines. Before this discussion closes, the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) or a representative of the Government should inform this House and the people of Australia whether the very grave position which exists in India is to be discussed at the Imperial Conference, and, if so, what course the discussion will follow. It is said - I am asking for confirmation or denial - in London to-day that a campaign will very shortly be started in India, and we know that for a*, long time troops have been gathering there ostensibly for the purpose of preventing the natives from rising, and overthrowing the Government. The people are well organized, and any attempt to suppress a rising will result in a loss of a large number of British soldiers. We know perfectly well that it is not so much for the good of India that the natives are being suppressed as it is for the aggrandisement of the people who have capital invested there, and which the British Government desire to protect. It would not, of course, be the first capitalistic war in which Australian soldiers had been engaged, and I do not suppose it would be the last, because so far as one can understand there has not been any war which has not been essentially capitalistic. I strongly protest against anything being done at the forthcoming Imperial Conference which will embroil Australia in any such quarrels, and I object to the manhood of Australia being transported overseas for the protection of interests other than Australian. When we are told that the White Australia policy is to be determined in India instead of in Australia, no doubt many of those recent converts to the policy will consider that they have achieved their object.
In regard to the Anglo-Japanese Treaty, it is quite understandable that the British Government, apart from the Dominion Governments, should enter into an agreement with Japan to protect capitalistic interests. But when such a Treaty is made, and when it is likely to embroil certain portions of the British Empire, such as South Africa, with a fairly large white population, Canada, Newfoundland, New Zealand, and Australia, it is, of course, a different matter. For a number of years I have been of the opinion that no agreement should be entered into, or subscribed to by Australia, which does not include America. An agreement between England and Japan cannot be of benefit to Australia, or even of interest to the Commonwealth. Nothing is to be gained by such an alliance, and much cannot be lost. I have already stated that the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) only misrepresents the ideals and aspirations of the Australian people. Unfortunately, he is going, although we did our best to stop him; but if he is confronted with an agreement, he should not ratify anything that is likely to be in any way antagonistic to America.
– Does the honorable member) think he will be asked to ratify anything ?
– The Prime Minister has made many contradictory statements in this House, and has the art of making utterances in an airy fashion; but when any one tries to pin him down to his statements as the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) and the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) endeavoured to do to-night he evades the question. The Prime Minister first said that Australia had to ratify the Treaty, and that it would be brought back to this House to be ratified; and then he said’ that, irrespective of what this House did, the Treaty would go on. He cannot be pinned down to any statement. His speech was delightfully vague. He will agree with any one and contradict every body; and when he goes to the Imperial Conference he will adopt a similar attitude, so that whether we like it or not, his presence there will mean that we will be irrevocably attached to something distasteful to the people of Australia. We, on this side, represent a majority of the people. We represent more closely the aspirations and ideals of the Australian people than do the Government, because 95 per cent, of the population are of the working class. c
– It is a pity you cannot convince them that they should vote for you.
– The people of Australia cannot be convinced that the Government are representing their interests.
– They have been convinced of that all right.
– Honorable members may be in power it is true, by the use of the thimble and pea, the twoheaded penny, or the three-card trick, but that does not signify that they represent, the people of Australia. There are such things as giving the sweat wheel a little assistance, and that assistance has been given most generously. But the twoheaded penny, the three-card trick, and the use of the thimble and pea are not a circumstance to the joKe worked by the Government at the last election, especially in the matter of the Senate socalled proportional representation.
I haven’t the slightest doubt the Prime Minister will pledge Australia to something which, for the time being, most honorable members do not contemplate. Some honorable members on the Ministerial side have said in unmistakable language that they are prepared to subscribe to an Imperial naval system. They claim that if the Empire is to have a navy it must be controlled by a central head. It is a fairly plausible argument, and under other conditions would be logical, but it is altogether a different question when the people of Australia are to be asked to get a fleet together and maintain it in peace; and have it taken away from them in war. In fact, during the last war our fleet was taken away, so that instead of Australian men-of-war being in our harbors, Japanese cruisers were substituted for them.
I am against the Prime Minister going to the Imperial Conference, because he is not truly representative of Australia. Neither he nor any member of his Ministry has laid on the table a full statement of the questions to be discussed at the Conference. I am opposed to Australia entering into any system of an Imperial Navy. I am quite convinced that, notwithstanding the protestations we have heard with regard to the White Australia policy, and notwithstanding the many enthusiastic rejections of the points made by this side, Australia, by virtue of the fact that its Prime Minister is attending this Conference, will find itself, whether we like it or not, with yokes upon it which it will take years to remove.
– After having listened very patiently to the many contributions to this debate, I realize the gravity of the position facing the people of Australia involved in the question at present demanding the consideration of honorable members. The consequences may be more far-reaching, perhaps, than the great bulk of the people comprehend. If the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) is to be allowed to use his own discretion upon many matters of an Imperial character in which Australia is to be involved, I am satisfied that before many years have passed the people of this country will regret that he was ever intrusted with the responsibility of representing them at an Imperial Conference. We are told that there are two great factors to be considered at the forthcoming Conference - the ratification of the Treaty between
Great Britain and Japan and the future defence policy of the British Empire. Australia is evidently to be regarded as accepting her share of the obligation which will be imposed upon theEmpire in connexion with these two matters without her people being afforded an opportunity to fully understand the merits of the proposals to which she will be committed. The Prime Minister has told us that we are confronted with a position which is grave in the extreme. “ What are we to do?” he asks. “What is our policy to be? We depend for our very existence upon the maintenance of control by Britain. Britain says that she cannot longer afford to maintain the Navy at its relative pre-war strength, and calls upon the Dominions to consider the question, and presumably to contribute their share.” I ask the right honorable gentleman what reason there is for assuming that the present position is grave in the extreme. After the greatest war upon record, a war which has burdened the Empire with a staggering debt, we are told within three years of the signing of the armistice that we are threatened with another war. If that be so, the people of this country should realize that they have been trickedin regard to the part which Australia played in the war. To-day we are so involved financially that we cannot afford to incur any fresh obligations in order to provide a more adequate defence for the Commonwealth. We have a war debt of £350,000,000, and our public debt to 30th June, 1920, totals more than £405,000,000. Despite the sacrifices which, we made in blood and treasure, we are now told by the Prime Minister that a fresh war is likely to be precipitated in the near future.
– What is the honorable member going to do about it?
– Instead of dealing with the effects of war we should attempt to deal with the cause of it. So long as we allow considerations of selfishness to control the affairs of nations we shall be quite, unable to solve the difficult internationa problems which confront us. What did we find at the close of the recent war? Within forty-eight hours of the armistice being signed, representatives of not merely the commercial institutions of Great Britain, but of other allied countries, were in Germany endeavouring to secure the custom of our late enemies. I am very suspicious of any proposal which is likely to involve Australia in a position which may ultimately prove to be embarrassing to us. I repeat what was said by the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) this evening, and, if I under stand the psychology of the people of this country aright, they are not prepaid to take the side of any Asiatic race in preference to that of a white race.
– The Japanese entered the war for the purpose of -assisting the Empire far sooner than did at least one white race.
– If Japan rendered service to the Allies during the recent war, I have no doubt that she received a quid, pro quo. I believe that if some of the secret history of the war were revealed it would form very interesting reading.
Sitting suspended from 12.27 to 1.5 a.m. (Friday).
– If further proof is required of the inability of Australia to bear additional naval and military expenditure it is to be found in the report of the Economies Commission, which show? that the total non-waT expenditure for 1918-19 - a year of peace - was £30,375,626, while the war expenditure was £100.044,411 . No nation could continue such an expenditure without plunging headlong into financial ruin. It would be suicidal for Australia to become more deeply involved in an expenditure which is wholly unproductive save in so far as it produces disaster and distress. The question of whether we should be committed to a further expenditure on Empire defence should be submitted to the people of Australia for indorsement or otherwise.
– We have been told that that will be done.
– Had the honorable member followed the Prime Minister’s statement closely he would not have made that assertion. The people who will ultimately be called upon to foot the bill in respect of any additional expenditure on Empire Defence have a right to be consulted as to whether that expenditure should be incurred.
– Does the honorable member suggest that the Prime Minister, as the representative of Australia at the
Conference, will commit the Commonwealth to any further expenditure of the kind without consulting this House?
– He will consult the House, but not the people of Australia.
– Does not the honorable member regard himself as a representative of the people?
– -I do; there are 51,000 electors in my constituency, but my views on this question will count for little, so far as the Prime Minister and the majority behind him are concerned. The questions to be dealt with at the Imperial Conference are of such importance that before we are committed to any policy in regard to them the people themselves should have a direct opportunity to register their views upon diem. It should be left to them to say whether Australia shall be involved to any greater extent in the financial morass.
We have been told that Australia is in a position of grave danger. I should like to know what nation threatens the safety and well-being of Australia and the Empire as a whole. What nation is responsible for the grave and extreme danger in which we are told we stand? If by any chance the country which is a menace to Australia should be that with which Great Britain proposes to enter into a Treaty - a Treaty that we shall be asked to indorse - surely we have a right to be told of it. The people of Australia have a right to be heard with regard to the text of any agreements proposed to be made with other countries. Whilst the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) was speaking, however, the Prime Minister clearly indicated by interjection that the views of Australia would count for little in the Imperial Councils, and that the text of any treaty made .between Great Britain and Japan would be that laid down by Imperial statesmen, quite irrespective of what might be the desire of the representative of the Commonwealth. If that is so, Australia is standing in a false position. If we are expected to accept the’ responsibility for diplomatic relations between the Empire and other countries as arranged, with little or no regard to our views,, by Imperial statesmen, the people should be made aware of that fact.
Mr.Bell.- Who said thatour views would have little weight in the Imperial Councils ?
– The Prime Minister, by way of interjection while the honorable member for Bourke was speaking, said that any Treaty signed by Great Britain and Japan would be in accordance with the desires of Imperial statesmen, irrespective of what might be our views.
– I do not think he even implied anything of the kind.
– I have a reasonable understanding of the value of language, and I could draw no other inference from his statement.
The people of Australia desire to live in peace with all mankind. We have no grievance against the people of other countries, and so far as I can see, the only disturbing element in international affairs is the dissatisfaction which certain commercial enterprises feel with regard to certain operations affecting the world’s commerce. The honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine) touched a vital spot when he referred to the oil interests. He referred to the way in which the different trusts interested in that commodity are manoeuvring for a position of advantage. They would have no compunction about involving a country in war if, by doing so, they might further their own interests.
– Would not the One Big Union exercise the same influence on industrialism in Australia?
– The question of the One Big Union is not relevant to the matter we are now considering, and I must ask the honorable member to bring it forward at the right time and place. I may then direct his attention tosome things connected with that question, which are referred to in to-day’s newspapers. Do honorablemembers believe that the nations of the earth desire to be involved in another conflict such as that through which they have just passed ? I am satisfied that if there were a plebiscite of the peoples of the earth on the question an almost unanimous vote would be recorded for universal peace, so that a better understanding might be brought about between one nation and another. Those who desire tostir up strife amongst the nations of the earth will, no doubt, find opportunity to fan the feelings of national hatred which influence many whose purpose it is to keep the peoples of the earth apart.
– Even the members of the Labour Conference in New South Wales were fighting each other.
– I remind the honorable member that I am in possession of the floor, and his interjection is not relevant to the subject now under consideration. I find that in the Melbourne Herald of 1st June, 1920, it is stated that not one country is content with what came to it out of the war and out of the peace. That is one of the strongest reasons that could be urged against further wars.
– My country is satisfied.
– The Melbourne Herald says that not one country is satisfied. It is one of the leading journals of Melbourne and of Australia, and, as it does not occupy the position of a partisan, it may fairly interpret the views of those directly concerned in international affairs. The peoples of the earth can never be fully compensated for the sacrifices of the last European war and the burdens it imposed upon them, and, instead of our statesmen endeavouring to create a position of international alarm,they should use their best efforts to prevent misunderstandings between nations. In a country like Australia, it is said to be impossible to pay a basic wage which will afford a reasonable standard of comfort to the people ; and yet there are those in our midst who endeavour to commit the community to an expenditure that will certainly bring no direct advantage, but rather involve us more deeply in our present difficulties. That is a false position for this country to occupy; and until such time as the people, by popular vote, have an opportunity to express themselves regarding further naval and military expenditure, there is no justification for burdening the taxpayers - for burdening them with the consequences of the creation of great military machines as the price of securing peace. It is only natural, when nations build up great war machines, that there should arise atemptation to those in authority to use them and see how powerful they can be when exercised against an opposing nation. It would be well for the Prime Minister, when at the Imperial Conference, to secure such an agreement between Great Britain and Japan as would include the United States of America, and be entirely satisfactory to that country. Unless that be so, as sure as night follows day we shall be involved in a struggle the consequences of which we cannot estimate. I have no doubt that the question of a White Australia will be raised, and that that very laudablesentiment will be exploited, as many other laudable sentiments were during the war. It will be very interesting, in the future history of the world, and of Australia in particular, to observe how public men were at this time prepared to take advantage of the greatest of all Australian sentiments in a time of international crisis.
I desire to say a few words on some other matters which are likely to be discussed at the Imperial Conference, and in which Australian interests may be involved. The Prime Minister, on the present occasion, has endeavoured to make us believe that he is opposed to Imperial Federation - that he feels it would be most undesirable to entertain such an idea. But while he tries to allay fear and suspicion in this connexion, the deliberations at the Imperial Conference will very largely determine what questions will engage the attention of Imperial and Dominion statesmen when they come to deal with the constitutional aspects of the Empire. I find that in June, 1916, the Prime Minister, when speaking in London, said of Imperial Federation -
This is a policy for the whole British Empire, which should cover every page of our national, social, and economic life.
Yet he would have us believe now that he has no desire to involve Australia in any form of Imperial Federation. As a people we have great need to fear it, because of the manner in which it would be likely to intrude on our self-governing rights. Imperialism and Democracy do not present merely a subject for academic controversy over forms of government, but represent a basic division of the public mind regarding the whole theory of government. Nationalism and Imperialism are essentially capitalistic, in that they rest upon an economic foundation, and are inspired by the desire of the profiteering agencies for wider spheres of exploitation. I am pleased to find that there has already been impressed upon the minds of some of those who have visited our shores a feeling that any proposal to relieve Australia of its selfgoverning rights, and subordinate this country to a form of Imperial Federation, does not meet with our approval. Mr. B. K. Long, the Dominioneditor of the Times, who was in Australia about September last, says -
The Australian is jealous of the right to govern himself and is resentful of dictation from outside . Imperialism in the conventional sense is most unpopular.
I hope the Prime Minister will not forget that impression which Mr. Long received, but will realize that Australia is for the full rights of self-government to the Dominions with no form of Imperial Federation. Mr. Long further says that wherever one goes in Australia it is only necessary to mention Imperial Federation to find the instant resentment of Australians to dictation from Downingstreet. In this connexion it is interesting to refer to an incident at a banquet to the Prince of Wales, held in Adelaide during the recent Royal visit. Mr. Barwell, the then Premier of South Australia, who is certainly an Imperialist, said that some unitary authority for the Empire was desirable. The newspaper account of what occurred said that the remark was received “with chilling silence.” That “ chilling silence “ exactly represents the feeling of the people of Australia towards any form of government in which their voice cannot effectively be heard. We have learned to value our self-governing rights as a Dominion, and we hold that we have established our claim to govern ourselves; so far from assenting to any curtailment of our powers, we regard it as essential that they should be widened. Instead of being subject to the veto of Imperial councils, Australia should have full jurisdiction over its own affairs. I do not say that with any intention of being disloyal to the best interests of the Empire. I respect our association with and relation to Great Britain, but I am certainly not going to be allured by the socalled glories of Empire, when I learn that there are to-day, according to Board of Trade estimates, 3,000,000 people on the verge of starvation. A nation’s or Empire’s true greatness is not to be measured by geography or commerce, but by the happiness, contentment, and righteous inclinations of the people constituting that nation or Empire. AH I say is that whilst we, as Australians, desire to associate ourselves in the most cordial manner with the United Kingdom, we are not involved in any obligation to subordinate our rights to an Imperial Council. During recent months, I have noticed how the Imperial financiers have endeavoured to use their influence over Australian affairs of State. When the Labour Premiers of two Australian States approached them for financial accommodation, they were subjected to certain embarrassments, and were requested to repeal certain legislative enactments of their States before they could receive the accommodation they required. I am pleased that the Premier of Queensland (Mr. Theodore) was sufficiently seized of the importance of retaining to the people of his State their selfgoverning rights to refuse the assistance of the London financiers on such conditions. The strength of public character shown by Mr. Theodore in that case might well be emulated by other public men who may require to go abroad on missions connected with the affairs of the States or the Commonwealth. The tendency of to-day, from an Imperial stand-point, is to vest immense powers in a central authority to which all other interests are subordinated. The antithesis of Imperialism is to invest those powers in the people themselves, and that is exactly what the amendment moved by the honorable member for West Sydney proposes. Instead of submitting these important matters to a small body of men seated round an Imperial Conference table, and perhaps subjecting the citizens of Australia to proposals with which they are not in sympathy, we contend that the people must have a direct opportunity of voicing their opinions on them. The position taken up by the Australian Labour party justifies its claim to be an Australian movement. What is required .in Australia to-day amongst our public men is a more correct estimate of their position as Australians. We want better Australians, among our public men than we have now. We want men who are prepared to place the interests of Australia first, and to recognise that their first duty as representatives of the people of this great continent is to those people. Then, when we are reasonably assured of ample protection for our own people, if we can cooperate in a cordial manner with other portions of what is known as the British Empire, we shall be only too happy to do so, but I am not going to be a party, nor is the movement to which I belong prepared in any respect to be a party, to subordinating the interests of Australia to any Imperial Council, or to any Imperial statesmen. When I read the pages of history, I find that many Imperial statesmen have had very little sympathy with the sentiment of a White Australia, and that they would De prepared at the first opportunity, if it paid them, to subordinate that principle and involve us in an embarrassing position. What happened in South Africa after the Boer War demonstrates the truth of my contention. Although loyal support was given to the cause for which the British Empire was fighting in that contest by many citizens of various parts of the Empire who went to South Africa to fight, what was their recompense and reward? Only to see a flood of coolies and Chinese labour let into the South African mines. If it paid the British capitalist, and’ many of the Imperial statesmen, to throw overboard our White Australia policy, I feel that they have such little respect or consideration for the interests of this country that they would be prepared to do it.
– The .honorable member misjudges them.
– I do not. *
– That is a gross libel on British statesmen. The honorable member cannot name a single British statesman who has suggested the abandonment of the White Australia principle.
– History justifies my contention. May I refer my honorable friends to the permission given for indentured coolie labour to Fiji, and the startling disclosures in the Imperial Bluebook. The way in which we find to-day the best interests of national life subordinated, and even prostituted at times, for financial gain, proves to me that even a nation’s soul will be bought and sold by those capitalists and financial agencies who have as their representatives and agents many men who sit in the Parliament of Great Britain. Their object is the aggrandizament of British capitalism, and the individual British citizen is to them no more than an instrument for the making of profit. I make no apology for my statement. It is in the best interests of this country that weshould speak plainly in order that those at theseat of the Imperial Government may know that we desire them to prove their sympathy by deeds and not by words alone. I should like them to understand that we in Australia, whilst wehave every desire to maintain and safeguard the interests of Australia, and recognise that the people of this country have first call on us, feel it our duty to co-operate cordially with the Imperial statesmen if it is possible for us to doso. We are not, how ever, going to allow ourselves to be dominated by those great agencies which are thecreation of war, and involved in further payments for naval and military purposes until thepeople of Australia nave had an opportunity of expressing their opinion.
Sir JOSEPH COOK (Paramatta-
Treasurer) [1.37 a.m.]. - I declare this motion to be an urgent motion, and more -
That the motion be considered anurgent motion.
I am doing this merely as a precaution to get the vote taken to-day (Friday). If only those who are here had to deal with the matter I should be quite sure of my ground, but we cannot tell what those who are away may do to-morrow when they turn up.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That the time allotted for the debate on the motion and the amendment be until 3.40 p.m. this day (Friday).
– I regret that the Treasurer has moved to curtail the debate on such an important matter as this. It wouldbe most unfortunate if, through the moving of this motion of urgency, any honorable member were prevented from expressing his viewsupon the question. I know that we cannot prevent the motion being carried, but I should like to have an understanding as to whether the carrying of it will interfere in any way with the transaction of ordinary business in the morning.
– The Speaker might leave the chair until11 o’clock instead of adjourning the House, and that would prevent any other business intervening.
– That is what I am trying to prevent. I do not think that we should curtail the privileges of members at the next sitting. Some other business of an urgent nature might arise, andI hope that it will not be interfered with in any way.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate on original question (on motion by Mr. Fowler) adjourned.
House adjourned at 1.48 a.m. (Friday).
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 21 April 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1921/19210421_reps_8_95/>.