8th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Elliot Johnson) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– (By leave). - I desire to make a statement on a matter of urgent public importance. I intimated yesterday, in reply to a question put to me, I think, by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton), and later in the evening, by way of interjection, when the right honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt) was speaking, that I proposed to-day to make a statement in regard to the Washington Disarmament Conference. This I now intend to do. At the conclusion of my remarks I shall submit a motion for the printing of a paper in order that honorable members may have an opportunity to offer what observations they see fit on the suggestions I shall make.
I think I should inform the House that when the Imperial Conference had reached the stage in its deliberations when it was quite obvious that the Government of the United States of America did not favour the suggestion of a preliminary Pacific Conference, and when, therefore, it appeared clear that all such questions would have to be postponed until the Washington Disarmament Conference was held, it was agreed that the British Government should represent the whole of the Empire at that Conference. That was the position when I returned to Australia, and it remained the position until late on Tuesday last, when I received certain cablegrams, the substance of which I propose to read. These cablegrams have changed the position entirely. In an interview which I gave to the press, I stated that I was not favorable to a representation of Australia in a. capacity which would exclude its representatives from the Conference. I cannot do better now than read forthwith the cables I have received from the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. I will omit such portions of these cables as it appears to me it would be improper, in the interests of the State, to publish. I have had an opportunity of discussing the matter with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and with the Leader of the Country party (Dr. Earle Page), and have shown those gentlemen the whole of the correspondence. They agree with me that the parts which I propose to omit are not material to the matter I am bringing under the notice of the House, and that, in the interests of the Empire, and also of the Washington Disarmament Conference, they ought not to be read.
The first cablegram is from Mr. Lloyd George, and is in the following terms: -
I am very anxious that the stand-point of Australia and New Zealand should be well represented on the British Empire delegation at the Washington Conference. Your personal presenceis, in my opinion, highly desirable, and I urge you to go if by anymeans possible. Failing this, a single delegate may serve as representative of both Australia and New Zealand, as your stand-points are identical. I should greatly prefer you going yourself; but if you cannot, please consult Massey, and tell me what you propose. We will, of course, also welcome any officer whom you may wish to send to serve on the secretariat.
– What is the date of that cable ?
– It is dated 3rd October, and reached here on 4th October, which was the day before yesterday. There are two cablegrams which I have this moment received. They are unopened in my pocket. I have not yet had an opportunity to read them. When, or before, I sit down, I shall read them. I do not know whether they bear on this matter or not. If I find that they do I shall ask my honorable friends, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the Country party, to discuss them with me, and if necessary I have no doubt that the House will permit me to supplement my remarks in order that I may place honorable members in possession of the facts. I propose to read the whole of the cablegrams first, and then to offer some observations as to the policy of the Government, and the reasons which have actuated us in adopting that policy. The second cablegram came on the same day as the one which I have read, but two or three hours later. This is a copy of a cable from the Foreign Secretary of Great Britain to the British Ambassador at Washington -
What general procedure do the United States Government contemplate for the Conference or Conferences? Is Disarmament Conference to follow Pacific Conference or vice versa? Or are they to be held simultaneously by detachments of National Delegations sent to Washington? Do United States Government propose to discuss air as well as naval and military armaments ?
I omit certain portions of the telegram which the Leaders of the Opposition and the Country party agree with me are not material to this discussion, and in the interests of State ought not to be disclosed. The cable proceeds -
We leave to the sole discretion of the United States Government what Powers are to be invited. The Prime Minister deeply regrets his inability to attend any Conference at Washington this year, as there are so many questions of urgent importance requiring his presence in England. We may wish to send up to six representatives, and will let the United States Government have the names as soon as possible, but must first communicate with Dominions and India.
Another cablegram from the Foreign Secretary to the Ambassador followed closely on the heels of the one I have just read and was embodied in the same cablegram to me -
It was arranged at the recent Imperial Conference that His Majesty’s Government should represent whole Empire at Washington. While not prepared to represent the Dominions His Majesty’s Government would prefer British Delegation to include men with special knowledge of Canadian, Australasian, and Indian points of view.
As regards representation of Great Britain, I greatly regret that it will be impossible for me to attend in person as Conference is certain to be prolonged. So many questions of urgent importance require my presence in England that I have been obliged to forego any serious absence this winter. On account of unsettled Irish situation and unemployment problem inevitably entailing widespread privation and for other reasons, I feel very strongly that my presence in this country will be necessary without any considerable interval such as would be required for effective participation in discussions at Washington. Lord Curzon is also unavoidably prevented from going.
My view therefore is that British Delegation should consist of Balfour as head and two others, including First Lord of Admiralty.
The third name I shall not mention, because the gentleman referred to has not yet consented to go to Washington. I come now to the third cablegram, sent at a later hour of the same day -
Government of United States of America have communicated following tentative suggestions for agenda, telegram from His Majesty’s Ambassador at Washington, No. 609, begins: -
Limitation of Armaments
Limitation of naval armaments under which shall be discussed -
Limitation of land armaments.
Pacific and Far East Questions
Questions relating to China-
Status of existing commitments.
Under heading of “ Status of existing commitments,”’ it is expected that opportunities will be afforded to consider and to reach an understanding with regard to unsettled questions involving nature and scope of commitments under which claims to rights may hereafter be asserted.
The last cablegram is from Mr. Massey, in reply to one I sent to him at the instance of the Prime Minister of Great Britain, informing him of the cablegram. I had received and asking him his intentions and whether as a fact he would be agreeable that Australia and New Zealand should be represented by the one individual. I informed him that it was the intention of Australia to be represented. He replied on the 5th October -
Your telegram 4th October, have received similar telegram and Cabinet giving the matter full consideration before I can give definite reply to suggestion contained in your telegram. Would be glad to be informed as soon as possible as to the name proposed Commonwealth representative. It is possible New Zealand may send representative, although it is quite impossible for me to go personally.
Another cablegram has just reached me -
Referring to my telegram of 3rd October, Washington Conference, His Majesty’s Government presume your Government will wish themselves to pay expenses of their representative and staff. In consequence of pressure of accommodation in Washington, His Majesty’s Ambassador has been instructed provisionally to reserve accommodation likely to be required in same hotel as British Delegation.
The House is now in possession of all the material information that has reached the Government, and honorable members will quite appreciate that the British Government have acted in this, as they have acted, I think I may fairly say, in all matters for many years past, with every regard for the welfare and interest of the Dominions. I stated in my opening remarks that when it became on the face of it impossible for the Prime Ministers of Australia and New Zealand to attend a Pacific Conference, through the opposition of the American Government to a separate Conference on that subject, it was agreed that the British Government, which was, as the right honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt) correctly surmised, thoroughly seized of our ideas in regard to all matters affecting the Pacific, might represent us at Washington if the Parliament decided1 not to send a representative. But the cablegrams which I have rea’d show that
Upon mature consideration the British Government think that the Empire delegation would be greatly strengthened if it included direct representatives of the Dominions, or of some of them. Honorable members will notice that it is suggested that Australasia should have a representative. Mr. Lloyd George, in his telegram, says that the interests of Australia and -New Zealand in this matter are identical. For all practical purposes we may accept that view as a fair presentation of the position. In any case, the point is not material, because it is the intention of the Commonwealth Government to suggest to the House that Australia shall send a representative. In the face of the cablegrams I have read x there -is clearly but one thing that this Parliament can do, and that is to accept the invitation to send a delegate: That the Government have resolved to do.
Let me now say a few words on the question of representation. I think that the representative of Australia should be one who is responsible to the people; he should go from this Parliament instructed - for that is the proper term, - as to what the people of this country conceive to be that policy which will best conserve their interests, and at the conclusion of his mission he should come back and report to this Parliament of which he is a responsible member, and then it will he for this Parliament and the people of Australia to express approval or disapproval of what he has done. It has been suggested that we should take advantage of representation of quite a different kind, and the names of some gentlemen, who are not members of this Parliament, and who are not even citizens of Australia, have been mentioned. The discussion of such a matter is very odious, because, when not one of the gentlemen named has sought the position, it would be certainly most distasteful to canvass his fitness to represent this country. I do not propose to do so, but as certain names have been mentioned it is only right that I should say that, so far as the personal qualifications of these gentlemen are concerned, I know of no men, outside this Parliament and Australia, better fitted to represent this country. But in my opinion an Australian and a member of this Parliament ought to represent this country at Washington. If the House agrees with me it will support the Government decision. Those charged with the duty of governing this country consider that a Minister should go to Washington. But before I mention the name of the gentleman chosen by the Government, let me say one or two words in regard to the Washington Conference, and some of the circumstances surrounding it. The world to-day is distracted and neurotic. Bleeding from a hundred wounds, it turns hither and thither seeking comfort and consolation, and asking piteously, “Is this butchery, this barbarism, to go on for ever, is there no hope for civilization, are we always to have recourse to the arbitrament of the sword? Is there to be imposed on mankind for all time the everincreasing and awful burden of armaments? Is the very flower of mankind always to he culled for this dreadful purpose ? May we not hope we have learned a little from the fearful experience gained in the late war, and that the wisdom of the great men of the world will devise some means by which quarrels and international disputes may be adjusted other than by force of arms?” I think that that is the desire of the great mass of the people of the world. I do not know whether honorable members realize it or not, but it is a fact that the burden of armaments to-day is from two to four times as great as it was before the war.
– In Russia it is about twenty-four times what it was before the war. I do not know whether the honorable member has ever read Dickens; when satiated with the perusal of those bloody litanies upon which he battens he might find some consolation and recreation in the pages of that author. He might learn something about Mr. Dick who could never get King Charles’ head out of his mind or thoughts. Nothing is said in this House but in some way the honorable member for Barrier manages to translate it into the terms of Soviet Russia.
I believe thatthe overwhelming bulk of mankind support the view which I have set out, but it is no rose-strewn path ; there is no easy way. The Prime Minister of Great Britain conceives, as I do, that it is idle to talk about peace or disarmament, or limitation of armaments, until the causes of armaments are removed ; and these causes, so far as we are concerned, and, indeed, the future of the world is concerned, lie in the Pacific problems. ‘ The settlement of these problems will be no easy matter. Mr. Lloyd George is quite right in believing that the deliberations of the Washington Conference will extend over very many months. Lord Northcliffe told me on the day he left Melbourne that he had taken a house in Washington for twelve months for his staff. It is clear that this business will take a long time. It is work to which the best of men can with advantage devote themselves in the interests of their fellow men ; but it is not a task that can be assumed by any one as something incidental to the performance of his ordinary duties. The man who represents Australia will have to devote his. whole time to this great business, and he may be absent from us for many months. The Deputy Leaden of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton), and the Leader of the Country party (Dr. Earle Page), have seen the contents of these cablegrams which I have not mentioned. They know that they indicate some of the difficulties, which I do not say are insuperable, but which make it abundantly clear that the nations of the world will be setting themselves no easy task at this Conference. Australia has more to lose than any other country. It has more at stake. A continent with a population of 5,500,000 is naturally more interested than any other country in a problem which has for its origin the position of Japan, with 70,000,000 people occupying a narrow strip of land which does not exceed in total area the islands handed to us under the Mandate from the League of Nations. We have ideals which the world does not understand, and with which it may not sympathize. It is essential, therefore, that our views should be set out clearly at this Conference. The Government have considered the matter very carefully, and recommend to this House that the Commonwealth should send a representative, and that Senator Pearce should be that representative. It has been suggested that I myself should go; but that has been found to be absolutely impossible; and other members of the Ministry, who would have made admirable representatives of Australia at Washington, are, for various reasons, disinclined, or unable, to go. The Government, therefore, announce their acceptance of the invitation, and, subject to the approval of this House, submit the name of the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) as their representative. In order to give honorable members an opportunity to discuss the whole subject-matter, I move -
That the cablegram (from the Secretary of State for the Colonies, dated 3rd October, 1921, conveying the invitation of the Prime Minister of Great Britain to Australia to be represented on the British Empire Delegation at the Washington Conference)be printed.
Mr.Fowler. - I rise to raise a point of order. The Prime Minister has delivered, three speeches upon international affairs. I wish to know whether, if this motion is proceeded with, honorable members will be confined entirely to the discussion of the last speech of the three, and so be precluded from dealing with any of the subject-matters within the scope of the other two.
– The only matter before the House at present is a motion to the effect that the cablegram which has been read by the Prime Minister should be printed. It will be only in respect of the matters to which this cablegram relates that discussion will be in order. There is already a discussion proceeding upon another motion, which, however, is entirely separate from that now before the House.
.- I desire to state at the outset that, with the Leader of the Country party, lie honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page), I perused the cablegrams which have been read by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), and, in fairness to the right honorable gentleman, I must add that the few points which have been omitted in the course of reading the cables are not of any material importance in relation to the subject under review.
– Did the honorable member see any cablegrams dated prior to the 3rd October?
– I shall deal with that point in the course of my remarks. I emphasize, in justice to the Prime Minister, that the honorable member for Cowper and myself agreed that anything which has been omitted from the reading of the cablegrams was not material to the matters under discussion; and, further, that it was necessary that tie points which have been left out should not be published.
The Washington Conference will be a very important one - really much more important than honorable members and the country generally had been led to believe, right up to the moment of the speech which has just been delivered by the Prime Minister. Prior to this day, no one possessed any specific knowledge concerning the work proposed to be undertaken at the Conference. Now, however, the actual details of the agenda paper have been made known. I find that among the subjects which will arise for consideration is the question of the limitation of armaments. No more vitally important question could come up for discussion at any international gathering. Upon the agenda-paper, also, there is the matter of Naval defence. This, also, is vital to ourselves and to the Empire, seeing that it involves the future naval strengths of the Fleets of the nations. I need scarcely stress the all-important nature of this subject, particularly to Australia, in relation to Pacific affairs. One other item has to do with the limitation of land armaments. In this regard the question is as to what sums of money should be expended by each of the various nations in connexion with their land defences. Still another crucial feature of the agenda, paper relates to the mandated islands. I need not stress the fact of Australia being deeply involved in this subject. In view of the nature of the agenda paper - or of so much of it, at any rate, as I have just indicated - it becomes absolutely essential that Australia should be fully and amply represented at the Washington Conference. It is passing strange that the question of representation should have been before the delegates to the Conference recently held in Great Britain, and that Australia’s representative should have had so little to say concerning the question of our representation at Washington. Honorable members have now been informed that, at the Imperial Conference, this factor of Dominion representation at Washington was considered, and that a decision was reached that the direct representatives “ of Great Britain be regarded as sufficient and adequate to look after the interests of all parts of the Empire. In other words, the Imperial Conference, from the inception of President Harding’s proposal, decided that there was no need for the Dominions to be directly represented, but that the delegates appointed by Great Britain would be capa’ble of safeguarding Dominion interests. I can only say that Australia’s representative at the Imperial Conference must have acquiesced in that decision.
– Of course, the honorable member knows that the very opposite is true.
– I do not know.
– Then, the honorable member ought to know.
– I assure^ the Prime Minister that up to this very moment I am in the dark concerning, whether such is- the case or not.. As a matter of fact, it is very difficult for honorable members to form any accurate opinion, for the reason that they have only been furnished with a report dealing with one side of the business transacted.
– There were no two sides to the matter. The whole Conference was strongly of opinion that Australia and New Zealand ought to be represented at Washington; and, literally for months, we strove to secure representation. It was not until the United States of America slammed the door in our faces that we relinquished the effort.
– Now, this is something new. Honorable members and the country have not previously been provided with this specific information. The disclosure just made bv the Prime Minister affords justification for my remarks, and those of other honorable members, concerning the inadequacy and one-sided nature of the reports which have been furnished by the Commonwealth representative at the Imperial Conference. I feel, at any rate, that my criticism - whether it may have been unconsciously unfair to the Prime Minister or not - has been amply vindicated, in that it has succeeded in drawing from the right honorable gentleman the additional information just furnished. The Prime Minister now states that only after strenuous efforts was it reluctantly realized that the Dominions could not secure direct representation, and that, indeed, the door was slammed in our faces.
– That is a very unfortunate expression just at this stage, no matter who may use it.
– If ever there was a time when, every possible effort should have been concentrated upon securing representation, it was when the invitation was first issued and when the representatives of the Dominions and of the British Government were conferring. Everything that is vital to Australia was at stake. None of the delegates then had the right to remain quiet or to stand aside under treatment such as was meted out by the United States of America. If the attitude adopted by the Prime Minister at the Imperial Conference at this vital moment amounted to anything less than that of a man making a supreme effort on behalf of his country, I can only say that he was not dealing out evenhanded justice to Australia and the other Dominions. It was “ up to “ our representative, and to those from every part of the Empire, and to the representative members of the British Government also, to press for .all they were worth with a view to securing adequate . Empire and Dominion representation. Where are we to-day ? At this late moment, when weeks have elapsed, and when the Commonwealth representative has returned to Australia, and not until this moment, is something definite done. Not until the Prime Minister has returned and has discovered that there is a great public outcry because Australia is not to be directly represented at .the Conference - despite the vital nature of its agenda paper - have efforts been made to galvanize the Empire authorities into pressing forcibly for Dominion representation. I ask honorable members to note the dates upon these cablegrams. That upon the first of them is the 3rd October, and the others are dated the 4th and 5th October. Thus is indicated the significant fact that it was only during the past week-end, and after it had been found that the feeling throughout Australia was so intense against the inaction of the Government, that every effort was made to have Australia represented., Looking at the. facta as I think I have fairly presented them, nobody can say that the Government have not been recreant to the interests of this country in connexion with the Washington Conference, where matters pf such vital importance have to be discussed.
– Have you forgotten the cable - “ Come over and face the music “ ?
– I have forgotten no cable; I am dealing with the position as we find it now. Even if the honorable gentleman had to come home and “ face the music,” will any one say for a moment that arrangements could not have been made for the representation of Australia at Washington if the Government had desired such representation ? I venture to say that the House, in an important master of this kind, would be prepared to sink all party considerations in the interests of, not only the welfare of Australia, but of the future peace of the world. Honorable members may interject, but I am putting the position ss I see it, and I am basing my argument on the reports we have had from time to time. Will any honorable ‘ member say that (here has been no delay between the time when, as the Prime Minister has
Bald, America “ slammed the door “ and three days ago, when the cables he has read were sent? What was .being done in the meantime in the interests of Australia ?
– The Prime Minister has been back only a week !
– That is not the question. I am pointing out that these matters could have been dealt with by the Government even if the Prime Minister were absent. How many cables, I wonder, passed between the Government and the Prime Minister iq connexion with Cabinet matters when he was in England ? How is it that communications can be sent Home to Mr. Lloyd George, receive his consideration, and replies be sent back so hurriedly? When it is a, question of necessity - when there is a popular clamour throughout a Dominion - business of the kind can be attended to in two or three days.
– The people clamoured after the Prime Minister returned !
– It is no use for the honorable member to make an interjection of that kind. We did not even know What the agenda of the Conference was, bat now that the Prime Minister has informed us, we see the importance of it. What are we going to do? I said yesterday” that I believed all parties should be> represented at this Conference, and I adhere to that view. I go further, and say that all ^parties, not only here, but in all the nations that are concerned in’ the Conference, should be there represented. If we are to bring about disarmament and the peace of the world, all parties in the world should be taken into confidence. Those now in power should not have all the controlling influence; this is a nonparty business, and all peoples should be represented in its consideration. In countries which send their Prime Ministers to represent them there may be minorities which, in the absence of any representation, will not be prepared to accept the conclusions of the Conference. What are we here going to do? I have not a word to say against Senator Pearce personally, but I venture to say that the Government could not have picked a more unsuitable man for the job. Why do I say that?
– Because you are in Opposition?
– That is ‘ not so; the honorable member should know that it is a bad thing to jump to conclusions- teo quickly.
– You would not have said so three years ago.
– I am dealing with the. position as it is presented now. I say that Senator Pearce is a most unsuitable man for the position, because, as the Prime Minister stated, it is necessary that the person sent should represent this Parliament; and I ask what the Senate has to do with money matters and these other questions of great importance that have to be discussed at the Conference. This Chamber represents the people, and yet it is proposed to send a senator. Will Senator Pearce be able to explain to us in this Chamber on his return what has been done at the Conference ? Honorable members know that he will not, and, so far as we here are concerned, we might just as well have had Mr. Justice Isaacs, or some other’ person as the representative of this country. This Chamber should be represented at the Conference, and by more than one representative, for this is the Chamber which controls the matters which are to be discussed. I believe that every honorable member here, in common with the people of Australia as a whole, is in favour of disarmament and peace. It is desired that the wasteful expenditure caused by war and danger of war shall be reduced, and yet we are sending to Washington the Minister who is pestering us to give him as much money to spend on armaments and defence as he spent last year. I have no doubt that Senator Pearce, as Minister for Defence, asked for much larger votes than appear on the Estimates, and that the Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) cut down the honorable gentleman’s figures. This is the only member of this Parliament, apparently, whom the Government can find to represent this country at Washington, although the Imperial Conference that has just been held pales into insignificance compared with the Conference to be held at Washington. The Imperial Conference had to deal only with Dominion affairs, but in the Washington Conference, at which concrete business is to be transacted, the whole world is concerned. It is strange that under the circumstances none of our leading men seem anxious to go as the representative of this country. Mr. Massey is not anxious to go, neither is our own Prime Minister.
– The Prime Minister was anxious to go, but he was brought back to Australia from England.
– There is no more to prevent the Prime Minister from going to Washington than there is to prevent Senator Pearce.
– Move that the Prime Minister go to Washington.
– I shall take my own course. The responsibility for appointing a representative or representatives rests with the Government. It should rest with the House if we would sink party feeling entirely; and when we could say whether there should be one representative or more. I know I shall be met with the argument that the British Government, to whom representations have been made in the last few days, have decided that there can be only one representative from Australia.
– From Australasia.
– From Australasia.
– Has the honorable member seen cables that have gone from here to the British Government?
– I have seen no cables but those that have been read. Is there anything, even at this hour, to prevent this Parliament making further representations to the British authorities? Why should the British Government not be asked to make representations to President Harding ? Why should it not be pointed out to that gentleman that Australia views the Conference with vital concern; that, so far as the Pacific is concerned, the deliberations concern our very life? President Harding ought to be asked if it is not possible for the Dominions, and the parties in the Dominions, to be represented, so as to make the deliberations of the Conference and its conclusions absolutely of a nonparty character. If this could be carried into effect, it would be possible to do something in the best interests of the people of the world as a whole. If we can have these cables between England and Australia in three days, after the people have stirred the matter up-
– The honorable member has a very candid way with him, and I ask him what precisely does he mean by the statements he is making now?
– I imagine that if, in the last few days, we can have cables sent Home, and replies received, there is nothing to prevent, in another few days, further cables being sent informing the British Government that it is the wish of this House to have further representation of the different parties in it.
– The British Government have no power in the matter.
– That interjection is not to the point.
– Do you suggest that the cables I read have been sent as the result of cables sent from here?
– The honorable member (Mr. Charlton) has said so three times!
– Let the honorable member answer for himself.
– I say that we have cables dating from the 3rd up to the 5th ; and what other inference can we draw than that there must have been some communications between the Government and the British authorities to warrant the cables read. That is the inference.
– That is a very clear statement. The honorable member says that there must have been some communication from the Government, and all I can say in reply is that the honorable member now has the chance of a lifetime. He can have the adjournment of the House to give him an opportunity of perusing the files, and if he can find one cablegram such as he mentions I am prepared to resign.
Honorable members interjecting.
– It is marvellous with what ingenuity the right honorable gentleman can cover up these matters.
– Why does not the honorable member have the courage to say what he means?
Honorable members interjecting.
– Will the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) resume his seat? It is almost impossible for. me to follow the debate owing to the numerous and concerted interjections; they are grossly disorderly. I do not intend to weary myself by continually calling for order, and if honorable members do not obey the call of the Chair I shall have to name honorable members who persistently offend. I would also like to call the attention of honorable members to the fact that there have been certain changes in the Hansard staff, and difficult as it is for even experienced members of the Reporting Staff to follow the debate, it must be doubly so for men who are comparatively new to the work to do so in such persistent disorder. I ask honorable members in their own interests to consider the members of the Hansard staff, as well as the decorum of the House, and to endeavour to preserve a more seemly and decorous behaviour in the chamber.
– The interjection by the Prime Minister shows that only by making statements such as I have made are we able to obtain accurate information. It appears that only by drawing inferences can one get at the real facts. If I had not charged the Government with having transmitted cables during the last day or so it would have been thought not only by honorable members on this side, but by honorable members generally, that some onehad been communicating with the British Government. What other conclusion could have been arrived at ? The Prime Minister now says that no cables have recently been transmitted to the British Government on this matter, and I am prepared to accept his word. Is it to be assumed then that there have been no communications with the British authorities to induce them to send the cables mentioned?
– None whatever.
– Then I cannot doubt the Prime Minister’s statement; but it seems strange that the British Government should have acted so spontaneously in a matter which affects us so vitally. I think it would appear to the average man that the British Prime Minister (Mr. Lloyd George) would not have sent such an intimation without some request. An honorable member suggests,by interjection, that probably Lord Northcliffe has been responsible for placing certain views before the British Government.
– He had no right to do that.
– Order ! The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews) is out of order.
– That is the position I take in regard to this matter. I do not know what views other honorable members hold. The Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) who has been appointed to represent Australia at the Washington Conference is the most unsuitable person that could have been selected, because, in the first place, he is not a member of this House, and therefore cannot report to this branch of the Legislature on his return. On the other hand, the Minister for Defence does not give one the impression of being in favour of disarmament, because he is endeavouring to commit this country to unnecessary expenditure in the matter of military defence, notwithstanding that such a policy is contrary to the views of the majority of the peopleof the Commonwealth. In the circumstances, the Government could not have made a. more unwise selection. Our desire is to place on record our views in regard to this matter. We are in favour of everything possible being done to bring about the peace of the world, either through the League of Nations or through the medium of the Washington Conference or any other similar gathering. We cannot see the possibility of the Disarmament Conference being a success unless it comprises representatives of the different political parties throughout the world. I, therefore, move as an amendment -
That the motion he amended by omitting all the words after “That”, with a view to inserting in lieu thereof the following words : - “ in the opinion of this House the Disarmament Conference to be held at Washington is of vital importance, and that Australia should be represented thereat by a representative of the Government and each of the other parties, and that the decisions of such Conference should be subject to ratification by this Parliament.”
I have moved that amendment because it embodies all I have been contending for, and it is not now too late to deal with the matter in the way I have suggested. Every one in this Chamber is desirous of the Disarmament Conference being a success, and, that being so, questions relating to America, Japan, and Australia, and the Pacific policy generally, should be considered by the representatives of all parties in order that the interests of the people may be fully protected. If anything transpires at that Conference which is inimical to the best interests of Australia, and it is permitted to pass owing to inadequate representation, this Parliament, and this Parliament only, will be responsible.
.- I second the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton). It is one that should immediately commend itself to the members of this Chamber. The decisions of the Disarmament Conference to be held at Washington will have a far-reaching effect upon the whole of the civilized world, and Australia in particular. We have to remember in connexion with the Conference that one particular party only is not involved in the questions to be discussed, and the decisions arrived at, because all parties and all sections are vitally concerned. The great section of the community which we on this side represent - the workers - after all are those who are called upon to fight, and to sacrifice even their lives when wars are fought, and it is only right that their representative should have the opportunity of placing his views before this important gathering. The Deputy Leader of the , Opposition has rightly referred to the attitude of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) as one of indifference. Honorable members will remember the speech the right honorable gentleman delivered when he returned from London last week, in which he threw cold water upon the Washington Conference. On that occasion he informed us that the gathering was of no consequence, and that it could not do anything in the direction of solving the great problems until the position in the Pacific had been settled. He said the Conference would be of no use. It would appear, from the demeanour of some honorable members at this juncture, that they are not particularly concerned about the workers being represented, and thus having an opportunity of expressing their opinions. If that is the attitude to be adopted, the workers will know how to deal with the matter themselves. Their representations cannot be ignored at any gathering dealing with the vital question of disarmament, and when we submit a plea in the interests of those who have to fight wars, we should be treated with respect. I warn the representatives of other sections of the community that they are playing with fire if they treat our suggestions lightly.
– We have heard a lot of that before.
– Yes, and the honorable member will probably hear more . later. The world has just passed through a tremendous conflict, and the workers have been called upon to make great sacrifices. Very serious consideration must be given to the position of the workers in relation to future wars. With a full realization of the position before us we must take the stand that war shall be for ever banned as far as civilization is concerned. The Prime Minister stated some time ago that, unless a preliminary Conference to deal with Pacific problems were held, the Washington Conference was doomed to failure. Nothing, he said, could otherwise come out of it. That was the right honorable gentleman’s opinion at the close of the Imperial Conference, but when he returned to Australia and found that the Democracy of the Commonwealth was determined to take all steps possible to bring about peace in the world, he reversed his opinion, and now regards the Washington Conference as of some importance. We now have him saying that here, at last, is an opportunity for mankind for ever to rid itself of the hideous nightmare of war. I agree with the Deputy Leader of my party (Mr. Charlton) that this is not a party question, and I trust that all honorable members will indorse that view. It may be argued, of course, that we cannot send representatives of the three parties in this House to Washington as uninvited guests, but I feel sure that if the opinion of the House were placed before the Prime Minister of Great Britain, he would take immediate steps to see that our position were placed clearly and forcibly before the President of the United States of America, probably inducing him to extend an invitation to the three parties in this Parliament. But, even if that were not done; even if it were not possible to obtain invitations for representatives of the three parties, we would still have an opportunity to send delegates to advise our official representative at the Conference. They would be at his right hand, and, although they might be prevented from sitting at the Conference table, would be able to give him the benefit of their advice and experience, thus immensely strengthening his hands. The one thing we should keep uppermost in our minds is that it is our duty to do all we can to bring about peace in the world; to see that we do nothing in the way of slamming the door in the face of the Angel of Peace. It was, I think, unfortunate that the Prime Minister should have allowed himself in the heat of the moment to say that America had slammed the door. America did nothing of the sort. The American people and President Harding are to be congratulated upon having taken the initiative in this important matter. What President Harding has done will redound for ever to his credit as the head of a great nation, especially if, as a result of his invitation, the world reaches a condition of peace and harmony. The party I represent is prepared to join cordially with every other section of the community in any action that will banish the hideous monster of war from our midst. I second the amendment.
.- When the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) was speaking to the amendment he deprecated the introduction of party feeling. I indorse what he said in that respect, and perhaps I may be permitted to suggest that the introduction of class feeling would be still more unfortunate. I repudiate the suggestion that I, at any rate, represent only one section of the community. I and all my colleagues represent every section in our respective constituencies. The suggestion that whatever representative is sent from this House will represent only one’ class in the community is most unfortunate.
– It is absolutely true, though.
– The cablegrams read by the Prime Minister, and his statement this afternoon, indicate more than ever the necessity for a very much more definite statement concerning the whole of the preliminary negotiations in connexion with the Conference than we have yet received. Surely it is beneath the dignity of this Parliament to have three days’ discussion on this matter, and still be only half Way, apparently, towards the light that exists in tile Prime Minister’s mind. Why should- we have to indulge in endless debate and seek by interjection with reference to these negotiations information which should have been spontaneously given to the Parliament and the people of this country immediately upon the
Prime Minister’s return ? I would like to say with regard to the agenda paper–
– The Prime Minister should have given us the agenda paper a week before it was prepared, I suppose.
– I have had an opportunity of seeing the telegrams - apparently the honorable member has notdealing with this matter. The agenda paper bears the date 12th September, and that,- I suggest, would have given us plenty of time to do something. This information could have been given to us in the Prime Minister’s first speech.
– It was cabled about 14th September, I think:
– At all events, what I have said disposes of the honorable member’s interjection. By implication, not by actual words, and by the continued silence of the Prime Minister and the secrecy of his actions, we have been led to believe, that there was no necessity whatever for Australia’s representation at the. Washington Conference. Nothing has been said to the contrary from any official source. In an interview with the press only a few days ago, the Prime Minister said that to go to Washington would be like going to Heaven without a ticket. If that was the Prime Minister’s view after numerous telegrams had been sent, and if that was the considered view of the Imperial Conference, and of the Government of the United States of America, it seems to me that they were speaking with two voices. Now, on the eve of the Conference, we find that after mature deliberation - to use the words of the Prime Minister - Mr. Lloyd George has decided to depart from what was determined at the Imperial Conference. It seems most extraordinary that this should happen on the eve of the last sailing date that would enable anybody to get from Australia to Washington in time for the Conference which is to be held there. I see no additional reason, in the agenda paper given us to-day, why the decision of the Imperial Conference should be departed from. The matters to be dealt with must all have been threshed out very fully during its discussions. China’s position, its opendoor question, and trade relations concern British more than Australian merchants. The position of Siberia can be left in British Foreign Office hands. The control of the mandated Territories, and other Pacific problems, must surely be covered by the Treaty decisions arrived at while; the Prime Minister was in Paris eighteen months or two years ago. As I stated last night, there should be some Australian representative in the Imperial delegation. It is impossible to ask for separate representation, in view of the attitude of America to the League of Nations; but it is still not too late for the Prime Minister to give us the tenor of the discussion which took place in the Imperial Conference as to what Australia’s position in the Imperial delegation should be, and what decision was arrived at about it. We have never had that information. If it was suggested that Australia should play an important part, why have we not been told? The fact that we have not been informed on that point seems to indicate that the inference drawn by the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) is fairly near the truth. It is a scandal that we are asked to-day to hurriedly choose a delegate to represent the Australian people. This responsibility should be, not on Parliament at all,but on the Executive Government of the Commonwealth.
– Do you not think the representative should come from this House?
– That is open to debate. The method by which this question has been dealt with indicates the need in this Parliament for a Committee on Imperial or External affairs, which would be representative of all parties, and through which a choice which would meet with unanimous acceptance by all parties, both in the House and in the country, could be made. Until we alter our method of external representation we are not likely to bring about an improvement in dealing with such important affairs. The suggestion that all parties should be represented can be attributed only to a lack of appreciation of the relative importance of Australia at the forthcoming Conference. If one delegation is sufficient for France, surely we cannot expect a great entourage of Dominion representatives in the trail of the delegates of Great Britain.
– The United Kingdom itself will have only three representatives.
– Yes, and, therefore, the Australian representation should be limited to one. Although our desire for disarmament is great, and our need for it is, perhaps, greater than that of any other part of the world, our importance in this Conference will be relatively small and insignificant. On that account we shall really not be able to carry very much weight, no matter how we are represented. I am pleased, however, that the Government has come to some decision, and has moved in a definite manner.
– I desireto express my complete satisfaction that the Government has seen fit to determine that Australia shall be represented at the Conference. At the same time, I am disappointed with the Government’s nomination. I do not say that in any way personally detrimental to Senator Pearce; his personality is quite a subordinate matter at the present juncture. The question is solely how can Australia, at this vital and all-important Conference, be adequately represented ? In my judgment, we have in this House three men who are specially qualified, by their long parliamentary and responsible experience, to represent Australia, and we have, therefore, the opportunity to select a. man acceptable to the people of the Commonwealth. These three are the Prime Minister himself, an ex-Prime Minister, and an Acting Prime Minister.
– Senator Pearce has been an Acting Prime Minister, too.
– If so, only for a very limited time. The gentlemen to whom I have referred have the advantage of a very close acquaintance with the subjects which are to be dealt with at the Conference. It has been their duty togive attention to those matters. But the one man above all others who should represent Australia, by reason of his special experience aim his great personal qualifications, and on whom the imperative duty lies, is the Prime Minister himself. I think he is called upon to make sacrifices at the present juncture - sacrifices even amounting to the risk which, I hope, would be remote, of the less of office, for the purpose of responding to the present call of Australia. There is no man so uniquely qualified as he for this position. The demand of Australia is that he should go. If the right honorable gentleman, lacking in a sense’ of public duty in this regard, refuses to go under existing circumstances, there are the other qualified men to whom I have referred. I would like. to see the selection made by the House itself, and not by the Government. When the present amendment is disposed of, I shall be inclined to move an amendment giving an opportunity for this House - I would say “this Parliament” if the Senate were sitting - to elect a representative. It is only fair from the Prime Minister’s view-point that we should look the matter fully in the face. He might say, “ If I »vent, I should ask, and would be justified in asking, for immunity for my Government in my absence.” I do not agree with that at all. I think that, whether he goes as Prime Minister or in a personal capacity, the right honorable gentleman should be accepted as the representative of Australia. Then he would be justified in saying - he could legitimately say - “ If I go, and if by any chance my Go’Vernment is displaced from office in, my absence, it must be understood that I am to continue to repreesnt Australia at the Conference so long as it lasts.” The position is extraordinary, I admit, but this is ‘a very extraordinary juncture in the world’s affairs, and the Conference will be a very extraordinary and unparalleled one. It will be of vital interest to Australia. As the Prime Minister himself has said, there is noi portion, of the Empire that is more deeply interested in the subjects to be discussed than is Australia. No other nation is more vitally ‘ interested. To my surprise, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) has moved an amendment to the Prime Minister’s motion after declaring that this is a matter that should not be treated in a party spirit. I agree that it should pot be dealt with in a party spirit, and I think that this House is humiliating itself by attempting to deal with it in that way. The amendment moved by Mr. Charlton itself indicates a party spirit
– You have said that you intend to propose that Australia’s representative shall be the Prime Minister. That will be a proposal in a party spirit.
– I want it to be clearly understood that the subject is one of the greatest magnitude. It is too colossal to be dealt with in a party spirit. It is a matter in which the whole of Australia is concerned. The welfare of the Commonwealth is involved in this question, and from that stand-point the selection should, as far as possible, be the unanimous selection of Parliament. When Parliament has had an opportunity, as I think it should have, of making the selection, it should be distinctly understood that the person appointed is not the representative of the Government, but of Parliament and the people as a whole. . I urge that the representative selected should continue to act even if there be a change of Government. Personally, I would be very glad to see the honorable gentlemen in the corner, or others, agree to give immunity to the Government during the absence of the Prime Minister, but that might be an unreasonable thing to ask, a.nd I cannot press it. What I do press is that we should subordinate all party feeling with a view to being effectively represented at Washington. This is one of the biggest movements that has ever taken place in the history of our time. I do not think that Lord Northcliffe has’ in any way over-emphasized the importance of this Conference. It is a Conference of world-wide importance, and we fervently hope that its decisions will make it possible to secure at least a very substantial advance in the direction of insuring the future peace of the world. The most significant and valuable feature of it is that it has been initiated by America. I have the greatest admiration for the League of Nations, which, however, has been maimed by the defection of America. Its objects are practically the same as those of the Washington’ Conference, or, to put it the other way about, the Conference is seeking practically the same objects as the League of Nations is ° seeking. It is seeking the peaceful settlement of international disputes, guarantees of territorial occupation, and mutual reduction and limitation of armaments.
– So did The Hague Convention.
– Yes. But the Hague Convention, unfortunately, was not an institution comparable with the League of Nations. If the Washington Conference is going to be a greater institution than the League of Nations, then we should say, “All power to it.” There are. vast possibilities within the ambit of this Conference. Our Australian affairs, our differences of opinion, and our local politics, are insignificant by comparison with the vital issues involved in this Conference. I appeal to this House to regard the matter from one stand-point only - the national standpoint - the point of view of the welfare of Australia. I appeal to the Prime Minister, also, to realize the magnitude of the responsibility that is on his shoulders in declining to represent Australia himself. I say that he should go to the Conference, but if he will not go, then the next best thing is thata representative should be selected by this House. If this House would agree to his unanimous selection, and if a motion for his appointment were moved by my friends on the other side of the House, I am quite certain that the Prime Minister would have to reconsider his decision. Personally, I appeal to him to realize the gravity of his responsibility. It is not the Government which should make the selection, but Parliament.
– That would be a bad constitutional practice.
– Notwithstanding the gibe of my honorable friend that it would be a bad constitutional practice, I suggest it. The circumstances under which we are called upon to appoint a representative of Australia are such that they justify a departure from all constitutional practice. All constitutional precedent may be set aside. I again appeal to the House to make the selection itself, in view of the magnitude of the issues involved; and, whoever is selected, let it be understood that he is selected for the term of the Conference to represent Parliament and Australia.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. I understand that while I was absent from the chamber the honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) made a statement which, I am afraid, may mislead the House. In referring to a cablegram that I read, he spoke of it as having been received on the 12th Septtember.
– I said it was “ sent” on the 12th September.
– It was received on the 3rd October, at the hour of 3.45, and the cablegram reads as follows: -
Following from Prime Minister for your Prime Minister, Secretary of State’s despatch 12th September, Dominions 389 forwarded full text of United States invitation to Disarmament and Pacific Conference at Washington.
That means that on the 12th day of September the Foreign Secretary sent from his office a letter addressed to me in Australia. It takes, on an average, thirty days for a letter to get from London to Melbourne, and that letter has not yet arrived. It is, therefore, clear that it was not a cablegram but a letter which was sent on 12th September; the cablegram was sent on 3rd October. Two of these cablegrams are, in part, I suppose, a summary of it. They give the present position as I have it.
.- I am one of those who deprecate the importation of party feeling into a debate of this national and, indeed, international character, and I join issue with the Leader of the Country party (Dr. Ear le Page) when he says that the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) is coloured with party feeling.
– I did not say that.
– The clear intention of the amendment is to recognise every party in this House.
– I said nothing regarding the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton). I objected to the statement of the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) that this was a class matter.
– I understood the honorable member to take exception to the amendment, and I proposed to remind him, if that were so, that the opinion he expressed to-day is contrary to that which he uttered yesterday. He was then most emphatic in his declaration that if Australia was to send a delegation to the’ Washington Disarmament Conference all parties in this House should be represented upon it. That is the very object of the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. No one will contend that, even at the behest of the British Government, this Parliament should surrender its right to say what it desires should be done in connexion with the representation of Australia at the most important Conference ever called. I have not searched the pages of history, but I make no exception in estimating the importance of the Washington Disarmament Conference, and I say that the issues which may follow from it are of such transcendent importance that every intelligent and enlightened people will desire to be represented at it. The subjects to be discussed so deeply concern civilization, and the well-being of humanity generally, that “I should be prepared to see our delegate play but a very humble part at the Conference if only he might t>e privileged to contribute something to bring about the peace of the world. We cannot say that this matter has been sprung upon us, and we are now afforded an opportunity to establish a precedent, and lay down the rule that at such gatherings as that proposed .all parties in this House shall be represented in Australia’s delegation, so that we may speak with one voice either on the floor of the Conference ;at Washington or in consultation with the British delegation. I am satisfied that even Ministerial .supporters, if they expressed their real feelings, would agree that, in selecting Senator Pearce, the Minister for Defence, the Government have made absolutely the worst selection that could be made from this Parliament. The Minister for Defence is charged With the administration of the greatest spending Department of the Commonwealth, and we know that even honorable members on the Ministerial side have advocated that the Minister in charge of that Department should be a member of the House of Representatives, and not of the House which is denied control of the purse. The members of the National party have not, in the past, been very clever or adroit, ot they would, before now, have brought about that happy state of affairs.
– What party first chose Senator Pearce as Minister for Defence?
– It is all very well for the honorable member to ask that question. I am one who, when he finds reason to change views which he has previously expressed in regard to individuals or proposals, has the manliness and courage to do so. I do not unhesitatingly and doglike continue to support an individual who has changed his political coat and denounced the principles and aspirations which he previously professed. Senator Pearce is to-day the greatest militarist in Australia, and is on that account absolutely the worst man who could be selected to represent this country at the Conference. We have not so far heard the last word that is to be said about- the Australian delegation. The views of the people of Australia will be published through the Press and from public platforms, and will be conveyed to America, and the very mention of his name and the character he bears will stamp Senator Pearce as the most unfortunate selection that could have been made for such a position. “If the Government had set themselves out deliberately to throw cold water on Peace proposals, so far as they may be affected by the Washington Disarmament Conference, they could not have selected a better man for that purpose. Honorable members opposite know this, and the statement made by the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) is an indication of the feeling of many honorable members on the Ministerial side. They realize that the wrong man has been selected by the Government, and. why should honorable members on either side sit quietly by without making any attempt to correct the blunder which the Government have made? We are asked to-day to indorse or reject the Government’s selection, and if a majority support .the Government proposal, on their shoulders will rest the responsibility for sending Senator Pearce to Washington.
One reason why I am disposed to have greater confidence in what may issue from, the Washington Disarmament Conference than in the deliberations of the .League of Nations is that the great American Republic, with 120,000,000 of people, has unfortunately, up to the present remained outside the League of Nations. . Russia with 200,000,000 of people’ is outside the League, and our late enemy Germany, with 75,000,000 of people, is also outside of it. There are in these countries a total of nearly 400,000,000 of white people who are not represented in the League of Nations. I believe that the movement initiated by the United States of America through its President will bring many of these great nations into the fold. On the subject of Germany entering the League of Nations, I quote the following reference from the press: -
Interviewed by the special correspondent of the Deutsche Allegemeine Zeitung in Geneva, Lord Robert Cecil, who is representing South Africa at the League of Nations Assembly, is said to have expressed the opinion that it would be to the interest of Germany and the whole world if Germany petitioned for admission to the League of Nations, for this would prove that Germany is ready to co-operate with the world for the maintenance of peace.
We may refer to the Washington Conference as a Conference of the Nations or an Assembly of peoples, but, as an humble member of it I think I speak for the party to which I belong, when I say that we are behind any movement at all calculated to maintain the peace of the world. ‘ We have a picture of horror behind us, and we do not want to have war in prospect as well as in retrospect. If we look behind us we see death, devastation and trouble, and are we, when the world is still almost paralyzed from the effects of the last awful war, to look through the mists of coming years and predict that it will again be plunged in blood ? No matter what our opinions on other subjects may be, I believe we should readily respond to any invitation to further a movement to insure the peace of the world.
Something has been said regarding the agenda paper to be presented to the Washington Disarmament Conference. The Prime Minister (Mr. ‘Hughes) has corrected what he considered, an erroneous impression in the mind of the honorable member for Cowper, when he referred to the date of the 12th September as the date upon which the cable referring to the agenda paper of the Conference was sent. It is somewhat remarkable that the wording of the message read by the Prime Minister should be almost repeated on page 354 of Stead’s Review, published on the 1st of this month. Referring to the agenda paper of the Conference, I quote the following from Stead’s Review : -
It was issued in Washington on 22nd September. It is issued in two parts; Part I., dealing with the limitation of armaments; and Part II., covering Pacific and Far-Eastern questions. The disarmament questions arc well conceived. They are: (1) Naval armaments, including a basis of limitation and extent of fulfilment; (2) rules for the control of new agencies of warfare; (3) limitation of land armaments. The Par-Eastern problems relate chiefly to China and Siberia, and under each of these headings will be considered territorial integrity, administrative integrity, the open door policy, equality of commercial and industrial opportunity, concessions, monopolies, and preferential privileges, development of railways, preferential railroad rates, and status of existing commitments. The inclusion of Siberia shows that these are directed against Japan. Japan will have something to say in reply. But apart from this the proposal seems to have been drawn up with great skill. The other point is the mandated islands. Here Australian policy in New Guinea will certainly he brought under review.
That information was, no doubt, gathered from cablegrams or other sources of information previously published. The words used in the article I have quoted are almost identical with those read by the Prime Minister from the. cable received from the British Prime Minister.
No doubt, a report of this discussion will go forth to America, and it will be made plain that it is the opinion of all parties in the House of Representatives that the selection made by the Government is a very undesirable one indeed.
– The same thing occurred when the Prime Minister was selected toattend the Imperial Conference.
– If I had to make a choice between the two, I would not select the Minister for Defence. I do not know whether “President Harding has conceded what was requested, but I know that organized’ labour unions in America made a request to be represented at the Conference. I do not know what the President’s final words on the matter may have been, but his initial reply waa of a rather favorable character. As a statesman, he realizes the fact that unless a movement of the kind which he has initiated is backed up by the masses of the people in the various countries it must result in utter failure. It is, therefore, essential that the voice of the people should be heard at the Conference. I have no doubt, that if representatives of the working classes of America are not actually present at the Conference, there will be a committee representative of the workers in constant consultation with the United States delegation. Although the British Government have suggested that there should be only one representative for Australasia, do not forget that provision has been made for a secretary to the_ Australasian delegation, and I assume that that second .person, whether he be a secretary or an associate, will have admission almost to the Conference; at any rate, he will be close to the ears of’ the delegates. If the British Government are prepared to go so far as to reserve ae.commodation for two persons, I believe that if representation were made that all parties in Australia and the other Dominions should be represented on the delegation, if not at the Conference table, at any rate outside the Conference hall, the suggestion -would be accepted. It may be that such a representation would have to be sent through the ordinary diplomatic channels, but I see no reason why we should not be able to communicate directly with the President of the United States of America. I understandthat the British Empire will be entitled to six delegates.
– Three for Great Britain, and three from other parts of the Empire.
– The only parts of the British Empire that are particularly interested are India, Canada, and Australia.
– The representation of the various Dominions could be arranged by a system of panels as was adopted by the British delegation to the Peace Conference.
– Exactly . Even the Australian Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) did not occupy a primary position at the Peace Conference; but he was content to occupy a secondary position, and who will say that he did not influence, to some extent, the views of the British delegation and the Conference itself ? Have not honorable members on occasions attended great political and industrial gatherings, not as official delegatesbut as onlookers, and have they not, by reason of their attendance and consultation with the delegates, actually influenced the opinions of the gathering ? The same thing might be expected to happen at Washington. If this Parliament will not sanction the sending of a delegation representative of all parties, I believe that Australia, Great Britain, and America will make arrangements whereby the great masses of the people may have their opinions voiced, if not in the Conference room, at any rate in the precincts. I do not know whether it would be a breach of Conference etiquette, but I see nothing to prevent the delegation from Australia calling a meeting of members of the Conference for an unofficial discussion of matters affecting the Commonwealth. Why should not that be done? Is it not important to every man, woman, and child in the civilized world that the present rivalry in armaments should be discontinued as soon as possible ? During the sitting of the Peace Conference, the British Government sent a financial delegation to Germany to report upon the capacity of that country to pay a war ‘indemnity, and I believe that the Chairman of that delegation was the Chairman of Lloyd’s Bank, London. When he returned to England, he expressed the belief that Germany, if relieved of the burden of military and naval expenditure, would be in a position to pay a very large indemnity to the Allies. He pointed out that the terms of the Peace Treaty would wipe out Germany’s enormous expenditure on naval and military armaments, and, in addition, millions of able-bodied men who, under the old conscription system, would have been drafted annually into the army and navy to be employed in work that was useless and unproductive except, as an. insurance, would be employed in peaceful industries. The Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) in his Budget speech last week conservatively estimated that that relief would mean to Germany between £300,000,000 and £400,000,000 per annum. I say that he understated the amount. The relief from naval and military expenditure and the greater application to industrial development will mean to Germany, if she continues a, non-militaristic country, and her former rivals continue to expend huge amounts on armaments, a benefit of £1,000,000,000 per annum. We have conclusive testimony from the mouth of one of the. financial experts appointed by the British Government that disarmament, from the point of view of workers, manufacturers, commercial men, bankers, and the public generally is one of the grandest reforms that any country can adopt. At the forthcoming Washington Conference we shall have an opportunity of participating, perhaps in only a humble way, in a movement for the reduction of armaments, and however small may be the privileges accorded our delegates, Australia should be represented and play her part as best she can. Three men should be appointed from this Parliament. I object to only one party being represented, and I would prefer any other man to be sent from the Government side rather than the Minister who has been selected. If three men were appointed Australia would speak with a united voice. If this Parliament fails to send a composite delegation, I shall advocate that the Labour movement shall independently send a delegate to Washington to represent the views of the Australian workers. We do not believe in trusting Australia’s destinies to the care of a man like Senator Pearce. It is absolutely necessary that some other Australian representative should be sent to Washington to counteract the evil influence that will be exerted by a man like Senator Pearce. If he is sent alone, this Parliament will be making one of the most disastrous blunders in the history of the Commonwealth, for it will damn and blast Australia’s influence at the Conference. This House should hesitate before sending to Washington a man who is a militarist from the top of his head to the soles of his feet.
Motion (by Mr. Poynton) agreed to -
That the time allowed under the Standing Orders for this debate be extended.
Mr.FENTON. - If this House insists upon sending only one representative, honorable members on this side will wash their hands of the whole affair, and accept no responsibility for what he does, and I, personally, shall do my level best to urge the collection of sufficient funds to send a suitable man to represent the Australian workers in some capacity at Washington.
.- I join with the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) in congratulating the Government on the decision, somewhat tardily intimated, to send a delegate to the Washington Conference, and, with him, I confess some disappointment, although not on the same ground as the honorable member stated. The disappointment I feel is as to the manner and time in which the Government have indicated their decision to Parliament. These matters of time and method are blended very intimately. When I heard the Prime Minister read certain cablegrams outwards from the Colonial Office through the Governor-General, knowing something of the way in which these messages are sent, both to and from Australia, and how ordinary despatches are sometimes anticipated by cable, I came to the same conclusion as did the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton). I assumed, with him, when the Prime Minister read the cablegrams, that there had been a long anterior line of correspondence. I think the honorable member, who has not had familiarity with the methods employed by the Colonial Office and the Governor-General’s Office was justified in assuming that. I, who have had some familiarity with them took the same view; but, like the honorable member, I accepted at once the Prime Minister’s assurance that there is nothingonthe files indicating that this matter had formed the subject of important deliberative correspondence.
– I have just made inquiries, and I find that no messages whatever have passed between the Colonial Office and Australia on this subject since I left Toulon.
– I accept that statement; but this is what I wish to direct the attention of the Prime Minister to, and I hope that both the Government and others in the House will accept my assurance - as I think they did yesterday - that I am not doing this with any destructive object, but rather to elucidate the position, and state a view whichI hold very strongly. Apparently, from the time that the Conference in London terminated until the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) returned to Australia, the Government, as a Government, did nothing to represent to the Imperial authorities Australia’s gradually growing feeling in favour of participation in the Washington Conference.
– They were watching how the straws were blowing.
– I have accepted the statement that no correspondence on the subject passed between the Imperial authorities and the Government. Why did none pass? Had I been Prime Minister en route to Australia, or Acting Prime Minister resident in Australia, I should have felt inclined to communicate with my colleagues, and urge whoever was the right person to do it, to make those representations to the British Prime Minister. Notwithstanding America’s unfavorable attitude to the representation of the Dominions at Washington, I should have said - and I marvel why the Government did not say it through one of their heads, either the one absent and travelling or the one local and acting - “ Australia is gradually growing to feel that she ought to be there, if not as a separate entity in the Conference, at least as a constituent part of a composite British delegation.” And I would have stressed that view often, as the Prime Minister frequently stressed his view during and since the war to the British authorities when he disagreed with them. Why was not that done? Was it because - and I take it to be wrong - America exhibited an unsympathetic attitude towards the Dominions? But in view of the magnitude of the issues involved to this country and the neighbouring Dominion of New Zealand, that was not sufficient reason for standing on our dignity about the matter. In such things we can stand on our dignity too much and wear it out. We should bend the knee, although not to sue for admittance, because we have not the right to do that.
– I can assure the honorable member that not only the Dominions, but even Great Britain herself, did everything mortal man can do to bring about that which the honorable member has in his mind.
– I accept that, statement at once, but then I claim that the British family, through its respective representatives, should have, by means of cablegraphic consultation, said, “Very well, we want the representatives of the Dominions to assemble at Washington, whether they get into the Conference or not, to be at our elbow for the purpose of consultation.” It does not matter how strongly our Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) may have placed the Pacific problems before his colleagues in the Imperial Cabinet which he has just left. Those colleagues will not be in Washington. Mr. Lloyd George, for reasons of high politics in the United Kingdom, cannot go. Lord Curzon, the Foreign Secretary, apparently cannot go.
– The chief of the British Delegation, Mr. Balfour, will be there, and he is a member of the Imperial Cabinet.
– I have always entertained for Mr. Balfour, since I commenced to read his works and utterances, the highest possible respect, but he is not a Dominions man, and, with the exception of Canada, I doubt if he has ever trodden the soil of any distant Dominion. Notwithstanding the genius of our Prime Minister, I venture to say that during his visits to Great Britain he has not impregnated Mr. Balfour’s mind with the full view of Australian convictions and reasons for her racial and defensive policy. The representatives of the Dominions should be at Washington under the leadership of the British Delegation for consultation every day if necessary, because we know what swift kaleidoscopic changes occur in these gatherings, the atmosphere of which cannot he communicated by cable. New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and South Africa should be there, and no question of invitation or dignity should stand in the way of their being there. That is my personal view, however strongly uttered, and I leave the matter at this stage, because it is only so much crying over spilt milk to proceed any further. We are past the stage when what I urge could be done. At any rate, there is scarcely time to do it in the way in which I think it could have been done earlier.
– Why not?
– I understand that the delegation must leave Australia next week, but I do not object to the spare hours of one week being utilized for this and another purpose to which I propose to refer, that is, to make the delegation multiple and not unitary - provided the House makes up its mind on high national grounds, and not on party lines. If the Prime Minister can be persuaded by the thinkers of this House, or those who speak here as the chartered representatives of the people, to adopt this course, . it is probably not too late to discuss the matter. In any case we might try it. For myself, I leave the matter with the right honorable gentleman. I regret the procedure adopted, because sooner or later it will be discovered that Australia’s interest will suffer by it. The gratifying feature of all this is, first of all, that Australia is to be represented at Washington. Thepersonnel of the delegation has been a matter of some concern to honorable members who have addressed themselves to the House. I did not know Senator Pearce very well until the old division of parties took place, and the old Liberal and the National Labour parties coalesced, and brought about the present National party.
Dr.Maloney. - Did you not get him to crawl to Jensen to get him, to resign ?
– No. I sat with Senator Pearce as a colleague for over three years, and I frankly say that I entertained a constantly increasing respect for him as a Cabinet colleague.
– Birds of a feather always like one another.
– If the honorable member will speak later on as I am speaking, he will be entitled to express bis views. I do not wish, to be interrupted in this way. Senator Pearce was an able Cabinet nian. I have not seen him in his Department, but the more one associated with him the more one felt that he was a thoughtful student of the big problems of Australia. However, putting aside altogether his experience, and different honorable members’ likes or dislikes, I do not think it is a fortunate choice. I am sure the friends of Senator Pearce will absolve me from any desire to” comment upon his personal qualifications. They are high, but the man who is to go to Washington should have a higher responsibility than has the Minister for Defence. The choice should have fallen upon the head of the Government. As to the domestic circumstances which may detain him, or discourage his attendance at this Conference, the right honorable gentleman and his colleagues are the best judges; but,, speaking as an outsider, and as a private member of Parliament, I do not think that the Leader of the Government -can divest himself of the responsibility resting upon him. Reading between the lines, it is clear that it waa in his mind the idea of this Conference first originated. Many thinkers about the same time, in the same way, and in different countries, were expressing a desire for a disarmament Conference. The view of our Prime Minister has always been since the war ended that either through the League of Nations, or through some special Conference, the various nations of the world should get together, and endeavour to understand one another’s objectives, and agree either to the abolition of armaments, or to a limitation or. definite reduction of them. Even to-day he has pointed to the horrors of war. At any rate, as head of the Commonwealth Government, he is the ablest man in the Cabinet - I can say it without derogating from the high qualifications of some of his colleagues - and he ought to ‘go to Washington. Whether the circumstances are such as to lead him to believe that it is not proper for him to leave Australia at the present time, I do not know. I do not think they are; but I am not qualified to speak for any one but my self in this House. The Labour party will speak for itself; the Country party will speak for itself. I speak merely as a detached member what I believe to be the view of the nation - and I claim that the Prime Minister should face the risks, if they do exist , whatever they are, and go to Washington, at least during the earlier stages of the Conference. It may be that the deliberations will be indefinitely protracted. In such circumstances, noone would expect the right honorable gentleman to remain away from Australia for five or six months. I think his duty would be back here, but he certainly should lead the delegation from Australia, even if he has to return afterwards.
– Do you think the people of Australia would drop dead if the Prime Minister went away?
– I would rather not express an opinion upon that point. The right honorable gentleman has lived through more risks than any Australian Prime Minister or prominent man. I have told him already that I regard him, in some sense, as a man who will take any risk: He gambles with risks, and he has led a charmed life, having got out of all sorts of difficulties that would have submerged and destroyed another man. Let him take this risk.
– What about the pitcher and the well?
– The honorable member has had that familiar adage before him ever since he emerged from the cradle and was politically weaned, but he is still going to the well incessantly, and, as we think, too often. If he fell in this case he would fall in the greatest cause he has ever espoused. I do not think he would fall. I think there is a tempered justice about the people of Australia that transcends the feelings of party, and that there would be a general consensus of opinion in the community and in this House that unless some colossal blunder or crime were committed by the Government during his absence honorable members should get on with the ordinary business of the House and leave the Government where they are.
– If he fell in making peace, it would prove that he should have stuck to his own game of making war.
– There, again, I do not agree with the honorable member. The best endeavours of every member of this-
House are called for in the desire to achieve some good result from this Conference. However, whether the Prime Minister or the Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook), or the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) be chosen, I think it is vital that our representative or representatives should be a member or members of this Parliament, and responsible in a more or less intimate degree to it. It would be clearly better for our delegate to be drawn from this House. There has been a strong feeling for years that the Defence portfolio should be held by a member sitting in this ‘House. I pause lightly to point out that the British Government have selected theFirst Lord of the Admiralty as one of the British delegates. What about choosing our First Lord of the Admiralty?
– Spare his blushes.
– He bears his blushing honours thick upon him. He is our Lord of the Navy, and it is towards our first line of defence that Australia’s attention will be more and more directly confined. There are a number of other honorable members here who might go in place of Senator Pearce, and maintain an intimate connexion between the House of Representatives and the delegation.
The Prime Minister has suggested that our delegate, whoever he may be, should leave Australia with instructions. From whom? In face of the amendment moved by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) and the suggested amendment by the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) it is clear that if our delegate is to represent all Australia the Government should not be the only instructing authority. There ought to be some line of policy recommended by the Government and confirmed by this House, either before the delegate leaves, or during his passage across the Pacific, to guide him at Washington.
– It would be better still to send two other representatives.
– I believe in sending two others, even if they do not go into the Conference. I do not believe we could put them into the Conference unless they were invited, but I would send them if they were willing to go. Failing that, this House should deliberate upon the recommendation of the Ministry with re spect to the policy to be pursued by Australia’s delegation at the Conference. If that course is not adopted I know what will happen as surely as the sun will rise to-morrow. The Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) will be instructed by the Prime Minister, by way of cablegrams; and Australia’s delegate will do what he is told by the Prime Minister to do.
– The honorable member has had personal experience.
– I have! The Prime Minister knows that what I say is correct. That procedure, I think, would not be satisfactory; it certainly would not be to any honorable member outside of the Ministry. The delegation should carry as much of the confidence and support of this House, whether it be unitary or multiple, as it may be possible to confer.
– The instructions which I had in mind were those that Parliament might give. Before departing from Australia I stated the policy which I should advocateat the Imperial Conference. Ere I left these shores I asked for authority upon those lines; and that authority Parliament gave to me. I have no objection - before Senator Pearce, or whoever may go in behalf of Australia, shall have reached the other side of the Pacific - to providing this House, or such a Committee as will represent all the parties in this Chamber, with an opportunity to set out a policy which may be deemed suitable for Australia. I have no other thought in my mind.
– I think, from my own personal stand-point, that that would be quite satisfactory. This House, according to the Prime Minister, would be given an opportunity to decide upon what should be the instructions given to and the powers held by Australia’s delegation.
– I am speaking only on broad and general principles.
– Of course! The right honorable gentleman could not expect,or be expected, to do otherwise at this stage. But the broad lines of Australian thought and resolve might well be laid down for guidance of Australia’s delegate or delegates; and that course, I think, should be adopted. With respect to the amendment, if itis pushed I am afraid that it will inevitably resolve itself into a party matter. I do not think that the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) intends that it should become such.
– My amendment is certainly not so intended.
– No; but the effect would be, I fear, that the parties would vote according to their ideas of solidarity.
– The fear that it might become a party matter is due to the fact that the amendment emanates from this side of the House.
– Probably ; and, if such should be the course of events, further damage would be occasioned to the personnel and personality of the Australian delegation. Even more harmful than the criticisms which have been hitherto offered might be the outcome of a division of this House upon the. amendment. It might be impossible, indeed, for Senator Pearce thereafter to be regarded as truly and adequately representative of Australia.
– Would it not be better, then, if the Government were to send a representative of each of the parties?
– Yes ! If there could be sent, along with the chosen spokesman of Australia from the ranks of the Ministry; a representative also of the Australian Labour party and of rural interests such as are represented by the Country party in this Chamber, I should be perfectly satisfied. I feel, at any rate, that the present debate will illuminate the minds of our delegation and acquaint its personnel with the broad instructions of this House.
– What has the Prime Minister to say to that?
– I do not press the Prime Minister, but I urge the suggestion as being worthy of consideration.
– If the other course is adopted the very result to. which the honorable member has just referred may follow. Dissatisfaction may arise as an outcome of the deliberations of the Conference, and the effect may be detrimental to Australian interests. Eventually, this House would have to take the responsibility, and my view is that honorable members should shield themselves from the necessity of having to shoulder such a responsibility.
– If the three parties cooperated and combined in the proposed
Australian delegation, there would be a joint responsibility which this Parliament as a whole would feel and should be prepared, I think, to shoulder. Disarmament, whether success may or may not attend the initial endeavour to bring it about, can only come by the unanimous desire of the peoples ofthe nations concerned. It cannot be gained by the one party which may be carrying compelling power in the Parliament of any land, but - I repeat and emphasize - by the general assentof the great bulk of the inhabitants of that country.’ The Prime Minister would be well advised if he secured the’ widest possible approbation of his methods and of the personnel of the delegation.
As for the proposal of the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best), I do not think that this Chamber can take the responsibility out of the hands of the Government unless the initiative in that direction comes from the Government itself.’ So long as there exists a system of responsible government, in association with which the people are supposed to speak through the party that holds, for the time being the Treasury bench, and in this popular Chamber, the Government must take responsibility. The Government have brought down a recommendation. Unless they adopt the wider proposals which have been made I shall vote in support of that recommendation ; but I again assert that honorable members could not be expected to take responsibility out of the hands of ‘the Government. Whatever may happen as the result of this debate, I trust that when the delegation shall have left these shores, it will be with the unanimous desire of the people of Australia for success. The difficulties surrounding the Conference will, be, perhaps, insurmountable; certainly they will prove to be gigantic. When one surveys the condition of Europe to-day, and thinks upon only one phase of the great question of disarmament - that is to say, upon the military side - one is oppressed with the feeling that not even the genius of the greatest statesman the world has known could triumph in securing any substantial measure of general military disarmament. It may be very well for honorable members to regard the ideal of disarmament, but they do so from the peculiar, view-point of Australia. I invite them to imagine themselves inhabitants, for example, of France, and having the German peoples for their neighbours. As Frenchmen, and knowing well the characteristics of their neighbours east of the Rhine, would they, regarding the hereditary enemy of their beloved country - an enemy nation which still has manhood and man-power superior to that possessed’ by France - talk so lightly of disarmament as some Australians do? No! France remembers that, twice within the lifetime of living “men, this enemy has inflicted untold wounds and indescribable agonies upon her. France knows how bad a loser Germany has been in the past, and is only too keenly aware of how soon she may seek revenge, should France permit her to do so.
– Is not that a reason why Germany should be admitted into the family of the League of Nations?
– I agree that, at the right time and by general consent, Germany should be so admitted. Germany - let it not be overlooked - is thriving to-day. She can build an army probably more quickly than any other nation of Europe because of the fact of her possession of three or four generations of manhood skilled in military training. It is in the German blood.
– Germany’s representatives sought that Germany should be admitted into the League.
– Yes ! It was a mistake, perhaps, that Germany was not permitted to enter. I invite honorable members to consider the case of Germany herself fro: a the angle of international disarmament. If the world were to allow Germany to arm again, she emphatically would arm. Germany does not believe in the’ theory of disarmament. She surely wants to regain her place in the sun. She certainly desires to regain some of her lost territories. I invite honorable members to consider the view-point, the aspirations, and national tendencies of the people of Poland. With eyes upon a rich portion of Silesia, plebiscite or no plebiscite, Poland tells herself that by divine rightshe should take that territory to herself. The Poles are a warlike people. They have fought in great causes for centuries; and, with their national, heroism and their warlike spirit undiminished and unbroken, the Poles do not look lightly upon disarmament. Nor do the Italians, nor the Jugo-Slavs, the peoples of each of which nationality to-day are casting jealous looks upon the coastline and waters of the Adriatic. Russia keeps today, I suppose, the biggest standing army in the world, active or potential. The Russian Government consider it essential to national safety and the expansion of their ideals that a huge military machine should be maintained. All these facts and considerations will stare the delegates to the Washington Conference directly in the face. I hope and look for very little as an outcome of the first sittings of the Conference with respect to military disarmament. But Australia focuses most of her interest and influ ence upon the subject of naval armaments. In this respect, instead of having to ‘Consult the wishes and ambitions of from thirty to forty military Powers, there are practically but three prime Powers concerned. I refer to Great Britain, the United States of America,, and Japan. It is to be. hoped that, if the representatives of those nations gather around the Conference table - whatever may happen respecting disarmament upon land and in the air - a definite working agreement may be arrived at with respect to reduction of naval armaments.
– Is not the honorable member aware that both the British Prime Minister and the -United States Secretary for the Navy ‘have stated that, whatever the result of the Washington Conference may be, the naval programmes of each country must be gone on with?
– I have read those statements, together with the announcement of the Japanese that it is their purpose still to build ships according to programme. I do not take much notice of those assertions, however. They mark the strategy of the pre-Conference period. Obviously, it would be very unwise for the statesmen of Great Britain and the diplomats of the United States to throw their cards upon the table before the Conference has begun. The Japanese authorities would not do so; neither would the British, I am sure. But when the whole subject-matter shall have been talked over at Washington, and the provocative nature of the international situation fully seised of, I hope that the statesmen of the nations will have been moved and inspired to reach an agreement. If that should be the outcome, untold blessings may flow to every portion of the British Empire, and, most richly of all, to a country such as our own, which needs every penny of its financial resources to be expended upon the development of its gigantic territories. To-day, everything possible should be done to spare and save money, to turn aside useless expenditure, and to devote it to territorial development and land settlement. I employ these words because I seesome of the difficulties which confront the delegation. And I hope that, whatever may be the decision respecting the nature and personnel of the Australian delegation, this House will agree in conferring a unanimous benediction upon, and in offering its best wishes to, the man or the men who shall represent this country.
– I feel very happy in the realization that at this late hour I have won so many converts to a cause which I have been preaching for many years. Now we are all pacifists. Some of us - like the Prime Minister- are almost militant pacifists; and it is only because the right honorable gentleman does not wish, in a world of competition, to bear blushingly the honour of going to “Washington that he has been compelled regretfully - or apparently so, at any rate - to decline this greatest of all honours, namely, that he should attend a Conference in the Capital City of the United’ States of America for the purpose of disarming the nations of the world. I cannot conceive of a greater international jest, if I may so call it, than the proposition that the Prime Minister should attend’ any Conference for the purpose of bringing about world disarmament. For years the right honorable gentleman has preached the theory that our lives, our homes, our safety, our morals, our all depend upon the force and majesty of the British Navy. And in almost every gesture which he makes and has made, and in every sentence which he has uttered through all the time that I have known him, he has conveyed the impression that everything we have we hold by force; that by force, and by physical effort alone, rather than upon any principle of morality, we are what we are in the world to-day. That has been the right honorable gentleman’s policy; those have been his political ethics.
It was the Prime Minister’s attitude at the Peace Conference; it was his view-point at the Imperial Conference; and it has been his public attitude, and those have been his public declarations, wherever and whenever he has spoken. Now, the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt) seeks to thrust this last and greatest honour upon the right honorable gentleman. The honorable member seeks so strongly to do so that one is compelled to doubt his motives. The Prime Minister has passed scatheless through so many political perils that the honorable member for Balaclava invites him to brave this one more risk. Apparently, the honorable member thinks that this is the psychological moment at which the Prime Minister should take just one more, and the last, risk in the interests of this country. One last peril is all that he asks the right honorable gentleman to face.
– One more river to cross !
– One more risk, and only one, and the Prime Minister, regretfully, we presume, declines to take that risk. Well may he so decline, having regard to motions on the notice-paper, to the attitude of our friends in the corner, and the attitude of our merciless friends on this side.
And now a word on the question of our representation at Washington. I need scarcely express my surprise that the Prime Minister should have conveyed to this House and the world that he was just as clearly responsible for the Washington Conference as was our late lamented friend, “ Bill Adams,” for winning the battle of Waterloo. The Prime Minister claims the honour ‘of being responsible for this invitation to Britain from President Harding. I suggest that, in a way which must have been very unpalatable to the right honorable gentleman.
– Are you quoting something I said or something De Valera said?
– At present I am quoting neither.
– Hear, hear! Keep off both, and we shall get on very well !
Mr.BRENNAN. - If I were to quote the distinguished President of the Irish Republic I should pronounce his name correctly, and express his sentiments as clearly as I could. The Prime Minister would have us believe that he was re> sponsible for this invitation extended’ to Britain to attend the Conference. I can well imagine that his ‘ ‘ guns were “spiked” by the invitation. It is. perfectly clear that the invitation, coming- from the representative of the United States of America, was very embarrassing to a gentleman who had gone from this country with a “ cut-and-dried “
Australian policy for the Pacific. Australia did not receive an invitation to attend the Conference; and, to me, it
Suggested, in association with the British delegation, and by arrangement with that delegation; for, while Australia has no claim to a separate status she has a clearcut claim to association with Great Britain in being heard at the Conference. It is in these circumstances that my honorable leader (Mr. Charlton) and others directed very timely criticism at the Government for its, to say the least, dilatory method of dealing with this question of first importance. Although the Prime Minister has been in Australia some two or three weeks, and, although we’ have to consider also the time that he was on the water after leaving England, it is amazing to gather, as I did, from the cablegrams read this afternoon, that the first official message relating to our representation at the Conference, from the British Government to himself, is dated the 3rd of the present month. The Prime Minister has disowned or denied the sending by himself or his Government of any message to the British Government by way of an inspiration of the cablegrams that have been read. On this question of fact we must accept the right, honorable gentleman’s word; but those of us who have been studying this question have formed a clear opinion, that the Prime Minister and his Government have been watching the trend of events with eager self interest and waiting to see which way the wind was blowing - they have been waiting on a public opinion that they should have led and made for an indication of, not what was best, but what was safe for them to do. When the Government heard the criticism of the Leader of the Country party (Dr. Earle Page) and the speech of my leader (Mr. Charlton), taken in conjunction with the views of their daily mentors, the press, and» it was borne in on them that public opinion on the question was going to be too strong for them, the Leader of the House - the follower of the House rather than the Leader; the follower of public opinion rather than the maker of public opinion - came here and read these good old timely typical cables in the good old fashion, as though the matter has been suddenly sprung on him for adjustment. Then he announced that it is proposed to send Senator Pearce to Washington to represent Australia. All I can say on that point is, as I said by way of interjection, that the Government could have made only one worse choice and that would have been the Prime Minister himself. I understand that some of my own friends may not agree with me that any worse choice could be made - that is a debatable point - but, at all events, speaking with that moderation and care which characterize me, I say that the Government could have made only one worse selection. I can say for Senator Pearce that he has proved himself the faithful servant of the military caste ne represents; and to that ‘extent the tribute paid to him by the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt) was deserved. Senator Pearce has proved himself a conscientious departmental man. Whatever policy the militarists at Victoria Barracks may have decided on, that policy has been conscientiously adopted and put before the people by Senator Pearce.
– He did pretty well during the war, at all events !
– Unfortunately, we do not always know what passes in the Naval and Military Club ; we do not know what is settled by the secret juntas, as they are sometimes called, which meet at various times and places for the purpose of fixing the degree of militarism which is to settle on this long suffering Commonwealth; but we do know that, whatever policy those who direct Senator Pearce may .decide, and so far as they tell him it is to be made public, he faithfully makes it public, and faithfully gives effect to it.
– How do you know all this?
– I do not pretend to know what, passes in the Naval and Military Club, or even at Victoria Barracks amongst those military officers-
– “ Brass-hats !”
– I do not know- all that passes amongst those “brass-hats,” as the honorable member calls them.
– I do not think that Senator Pearce has ever been in the Naval and Military Club; I have never seen him there.
– I “ think it quite likely that Senator Pearce is not qualified for the membership of the club, and would not be admitted there. I do not say that Senator Pearce has personally been there, but I say that the people who make his policy and direct him as to what he is to do, meet there and at similar places. Prom my knowledge of the gallant general (Sir Granville Ryrie), and! his predisposition for the company of ordinary plain-living mortals, I must express some surprise that even he has been admitted into the pleasant surroundings of a club, about which I do not, however, wish to speak unkindly. These matters, however, are not essential, but only incidental ‘to the main question before us, namely, the appointment of some representative or representatives of Australia at the Washington Conference. Perhaps I may set at rest the anxiety of honorable members opposite by saying that I am not ambitious to represent Australia at the Disarmament Conference. Speaking with perfect candour, and with about one-millionth part of the egotism that the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) manifests in similar cir’cumstances I venture to say that as a member of the House who has consistently endeavoured to1 destroy the curse of militarism, I have as great, if not a greater, claim to represent Australia as the right honorable gentleman had to represent Australia at the Peace Conference, because in connexion with the greatest military enterprise that the people of Australia have ever been called upon to decide those for whom I Had the honour to ‘speak and work with represented a vital majority of the people of Australia.
The question will arise as to what this Conference can do. It has been said that it will inevitably consider the question of a White Australia, and that the deliberations will have a considerable bearing upon that policy. No doubt they will. It is quite possible, having regard to an awakening China, because she is awakening, an awakened Japan, because she is awake, and the teeming millions of misgoverned India and other parts of the world, that our right to hold a continent so sparsely populated, if not challenged, is likely to be carefully considered. If the Washington Conference should pass resolutions,’ or should come to conclusions which seem to be inconsistent with the policy of a White Australia, the question will present itself to this House and to this country, what are we going to do about it? The Prime Minister has said that we are nothing without the British Navy, and, on the other hand, he has stated that our White Australia policy will be maintained, if not by peaceful methods, by the force of arms. In other words, we find this great loyal Imperialist, when loyalty to Empire brings him in conflict with this policy, a most assertive and egotistical individualist. I can only express the view that, whatever may be determined, sooner or later Australia will have to assert her- self, and by her strength of will - it may be some other kind of strength - give evidence of her power to sustain her policy in the Pacific. We should begin to make up our minds as to what we mean when we say that the policy of a White Australia must stand. What does our insistence mean in the light of the power of other nations? Does it mean that an independent Australia, independent of its Imperial connexion and responsibility, will put fight into forcing its White Australia policy upon the world? Does it mean that we shall fight for it against the world? Or what does it mean? I ask this question because we get no assistance or information from the right honorable gentleman who leads this House, and who claims to be a loyal Imperialist, and, on the other hand, declares that, come what may, Imperial Conferences, Imperial decisions, Disarmament Conferences, or meetings of the League of Nations, we intend to adhere hard and fast to our White Australia policy. Needless to say, I believe in such a policy. It is an ideal; but I think a practicable ideal. It is one that can logically be sustained without any reflection upon the so-called coloured races who are our neighbours. I do not believe this Government is a promoter of White Australia. This Government is not only preventing our late enemies - some of the best colonists in the world - from coming into Australia, but it is likewise at’ present prohibiting Russian colonists from entering the Commonwealth. In connexion with those who were- here, and who were foreigners at the outbreak of war, and not enemies, Ministers adopted a policy fit to damn immigration. That is their history and their policy, arid, because they are preventing the white races of the -world making this continent their home, and because they made it, to say the least of it, very unpleasant for those foreigners already here, they should not preach the doctrine of a White Australia as something by which they will stand, whatever it may cost. I do not often agree with the opinions expressed by that distinguished gentleman who paid a flying visit ito Australia, and who- has now departed - Lord Northcliffe - and I hope I shall never be accused, whatever else may be said of me, of seeing eye to eye with the noble lord on local or international politics. Lord Northcliffe, at all events, uttered some words of wise warning, as well as words of unwisdom, in connexion with this matter which is closely associated with immigration. The same words of warning and wisdom have been uttered before by others, but they were not so widely advertised. At all events, he is on safe ground when he says that, in order to establish a moral or a legal right to hold this country, it has to be peopled. There is no law in the uncertain realm of international politics, and there is no legal right, not to mention moral right, which gives us permanent hold on an unoccupied continent. The Prime Minister has spoken of the teeming hordes in Japan, and has said that the area of the islands which the Japanese occupy is no greater than that in the Mandated Territories. It is well that we should be quite candid and justify to ourselves, if we can, our claim to hold a continent unoccupied and unused, while teeming masses of mankind are jostling for room in other parts of the world. Habitable and productive territory is strictly limited in extent, and those principles which lie at the basis of Labour’s opposition to monopoly in trade and land lie also at the basis of the monopoly of a continent. Notwithstanding this, it is highly desirable to sustain the policy of a White Australia, which means Australia for the white races of the world. Therefore I look forward to the time when the insane policy this Government has established, this racial hatred which it does so much to maintain, these jealousies and vendettas which have moved it in the direction of preventing some of the best colonists in the world living here, will come to an 811(1’ Australia will then, subject to the just claims of her own people and her own workers, be open to a reasonable system of immigration designed to put into productivity the unused lands of Australia. I trust that, even now, the Government may be prevailed upon to do the right thing with regard to the delegation to Washington. We are in a position to greatly influence the deliberations of that Conference. We are not in the position to require America to ask us to go there. We do not enjoy the status of a nation because, in spite’ of all the talk, there has been no change in our status. It is all moonshine for the Prime Minister and others to speak of our enlarged and improved status, because the position is precisely what it was ten or fifteen years ago. It has not been altered by one hair’s breadth. The fact that the Prime Minister was invited, as a concession to bis egotism, to sign the Treaty of Versailles does not alter our status. It was not altered at the Imperial Conference, although the Prime Minister has told this House that for the first time the delegates met as a Cabinet and on the footing of absolute equality. They met at the Imperial Conference in precisely the same way, and with precisely the same powers, as they possessed at other Imperial Conferences. We need not deceive, ourselves by imagining that we have acquired new or enlarged status. We are independent in the sense that, in all matters affecting the government of Australia, we do what we will; but, so far as our relationships with other countries are concerned, we speak through the centre of the Empire. As most honorable members know, I am not a great Imperialist. Generally, I despise thespirit of Imperialism, and I think it a baleful one. I believe that a useful purpose would be served by endeavouring to dispel the notion that we enjoy powers which we> did not previously possess. Therefore I trust we shall use the legitimate means at our disposal to attach to the delegation to Washington representatives from Australia who will truly express the Australian view-point. I am supporting the amendment. It must be recognised that the mover speaks for at least one-half of the people in the Commonwealth, who are united in the view that Senator Pearce does not represent them, but that, on the contrary, he wholly misrepresents them. This section of the people are entitled to an expression of their views at the coming Conference, and I hope they will get some representation. I hope that the true view of Australian Democracy will . find expression there, and that nothing so nauseating will be perpetrated as that Senator Pearce, the official representative of the military caste, from whom this country has suffered sp much and so long, will be sent across to the United States of America to represent us there, or, for that matter, anywhere else.
.- It is to be regretted that we have had three ‘ separate speeches on international questions from the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), because all the subjects dealt with in his remarks are so inter-related that it is very difficult indeed to separate them. I intend to address myself to the amendment moved by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton). There are more difficulties than appear to have been thought of in connexion with the representation of Australia at the Washington Conference. I was not in the chamber during the early part of the speech delivered by the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan)? and, therefore, I do not know what line he adopted on this point, though I observe he discussed the position taken up by the President of the United States of _ America- concerning the representation of the British Empire at that gathering. It seems quite reasonable for us to urge that Australia should be directly represented at the Conference, but the President of the United States of America evidently sees an important principle involved in keeping us away. It is a matter of regret to the whole civilized world that the United States of America stood out of the League of Nations. One of their strongest objections to the League as at present constituted is that Great Britain, having nominally recognised the nationhood of the Dominions, thereby obtained in the Council of the League of Nations a certain number of votes as against one vote for the United States of America. This, apparently, was a determining factor in the withdrawal of the United States from the League.
– Another reason was the Anglo-Japanese Alliance.
– That is a matter which I intend to discuss at a later stage. If we now approach the President of the United States of America with a request for admission to the Conference, and if he accedes to our request, he will stultify America as regards the objection to the position of the Dominions in the League of Nations. Therefore, it seems to me that President Harding had no alternative than to say that the United States Government could only accept Australian representation as part of the British Empire delegation. If we oan get in. in that way, good and well. If we cannot, I am not, I confess, so very much concerned about our taking any active part in the Conference at all. If we have a capable representative there as an onlooker merely, I feel sure that whatever representation he may make to the British delegation will have careful and earnest consideration, and our interests, in that way, will be as adequately safeguarded as if we had direct representation. It is possible that we are attaching a great deal of unnecessary importance to our presence at the Washington Conference. One is apt to lose a sense of proportion and of perspective in the face of what is sometimes a clamour for a certain ideal. In Australia there is a kind of hysteria regarding dangers that are supposed to menace us from one particular quarter - hysteria which undoubtedly may be attributed to the public utterances of one man alone. I intend to refer also to this on the general issue. It is possible that our interests in the Washington Conference do not amount to so much after all. The Conference has been convened to consider questions of importance to the United States of America, Japan, and to Great Britain. These are the three countries that are primarily concerned, and when we talk about the Pacific as being the future storm centre and menace’ to the peace of the world, we are employing terms used by publicists of Great Britain and America, and which are not truly applicable to Australia’s position. When writers and statesmen of the Mother Country and America speak of the possible dangers of the Pacific, they have in mind the North Pacific, not the South Pacific at all. Proof of this may be found in the discussions that took place in the press of America, of Great Britain, and other parts of the world prior to the summoning of the Washington Conference. Australia was hardly mentioned, so if we go to Washington and declare to President Harding that our interests are vitally involved in the Conference, he will probably ask, “Where? In disarmament?” Of course We all want to see world-wide disarmament, and we want to see the League of Nations so established as to be an effective safeguard against future world upheavals. These wishes are shared by Australia in common with the rest of the world, but in particular matters Australia’s interest will only be remotely touched by the Washington Conference. We are not vitally and immediately concerned in the arrangement of the situation as between the United States of America and Japan. These two nations have many points of difference. They may quarrel, but I do not think it likely that Australia will be involved in any way. The state of affairs in China will really be the crux in the discussions at the forthcoming Conference ; and we are not going to be very materially affected by that issue either. We certainly have control of certain islands in the South Pacific under a Mandate which we operate under the League of Nations, and for which we are responsible to the League. I believe an inquiry into these and other Mandates is being made in connexion with these matters by the League; but no international complications of any serious character menace us there. We may approach President Harding and suggest to him that our White Australia policy is involved in the settlement of these Pacific problems, and again he may ask, “Where, and how?” Up to the present, at all events, we would have the greatest difficulty in showing how the White Australia policy is involved in the consideration of any of the issues that will come before that Conference. If we say that we apprehend danger from one particular quarter, we may be asked for the proof, and I say, without hesitation, that proof cannot be found. There has not been, in modern times, a more gigantic fake than has been perpetrated in Australia by the creation of an impression in this country that Japan is a menace to our White Australia policy.
– Thirteen years ago there was danger.
– There has been no direct menace to the White Australia policy from any part of theworld up to the, present time.
– Does the honorable member know the opinion expressed in Broome recently in connexion with the trouble there ?
– I know there is a great deal of unrest in many parts of the world, but most of the troubles that have arisen have been entirely local in character. The trouble in Broome had no special significance such as the honorable member for Kalgoorlie seems to attach to it.
– That trouble was not altogether local.
– I want to remind honorable members that Japan has exactly the same policy for the exclusion of immigrants as we have in Australia. The Japanese Government will not allow a single Chinese coolie or labourer to enter Japan, It is absurd, therefore, to suggest that our White Australia policy is menaced by Japan, because we are merely doing what Japan is doing herself. When we talk about a menace to a White Australia we should be prepared to indicate where it lies. Up to the present it cannot be done. The dan- ger, to my mind, is largely fictitious, apan made certain claims for racial equality, and we were given to understand that these affected Australia, but we know now, having possession of all the facts, that Japan had in mind the treatment of Japanese immigrants in the United States, and that the claim for racial equality had nothing to do with the White Australia policy. Japan had a perfect right to complain of the treatment of the Japanese in the United States of America. At first they were welcomed there as workers, but gradually they acquired money and land,’ and became competitors in many respects with the white people of the Pacific States, Then the trouble commenced. Although they were welcome settlers when merely hewers of wood and drawers of water, drastic measures against them were proposed as soon as they acquired a property in land, and started to produce in competition with their previous employers. Japan objected to its emigrants not receiving the same treatment as those from other countries, and that was the basis of its claim for racial equality. I repeat that there has been no more lamentable or unscrupulous fake in modem times than the way in which the Australian people have been brought to a condition of hysteria regarding supposed menaces to the White Australia policy, which are totally non-existent.
– I do not think our people are hysterical on the point.
– The Japanese press has stated that Australia never acquired this . country by war or purchase, and that if we do not occupy it the Japanese have the same right to it as ourselves.
– I cannot answer for irresponsible statements in the newspapers of Japan. There may be many such statements, but I can point to the reiterated assurances of one Japanese statesman after another when the matter was before the last Imperial Conference, and when Mr. Hughes resisted the payment of the compliment of racial equality to the Japanese. Japanese statesmen recognise that Australia has a perfect right to say what people shall be allowed to come within its borders. That is the sovereign right of every country, and Japan has, herself, used it to the full. Danger to our White Australia will come, if ever, not from Japan, but from other quarters, within the British Empire. Speaking generally of the matters to be brought before the Washington Conference, very few indeed impinge directly on Australian interests, and to the extent that these do so we would be sufficiently represented by having some one there in a. consultative capacity. While we certainly should have one representative at Washington, looking on and in touch . with the British delegation, itwould be a mistake to send more, and especially to send one man from each of the three parties in this Chamber. We might have divided counsel, and that would be worse than no counsel at all. If we choose a man of firmness, knowledge, tact, and some acquaintance with international matters, and send him to Washington in the capacity I have indicated, I feel sure that the interests of Australia will be safeguarded. Mr. Fenton. - The people of Australia have elected three parties to this Parliament.
– Is Senator Pearce an authority?
– I do not wish to criticise Senator Pearce at present. I did so long ago in connexion with the prosecution of the war, but I certainly would like to” see a representative appointed from this Chamber, who would be answerable to this House on the completion of his work.
– It is plainly evident in this debate that the consensus of opinion is that if only one delegate is to be appointed to represent Australia, he should be chosen from this Chamber. That opinion seems to be general. Oh this side of the House, of course, the feeling is in favour of the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, that there should be a representative from each of the political parties. My sole reason for expressing my opinion on this matter at all is that I have a deep-rooted objection to the appointment made by the Government. The appointment is an objectionable one, because this House will not, for one thing, be able to call upon Senator Pearce for a report on his return. To send him seems to me like sending a publican to a prohibition conference. I fail to see how expression could be given to the feeling of the people of Australia, who favour disarma- ment, by a delegate ‘such as Senator Pearce, who, throughout his term of office, has stood for militarism in its most drastic form. He has been described by several speakers in this House as the very embodiment of ‘ militarism, and he is, I believe, one of the greatest militarists at present in the Commonwealth. If further proof of that is desired, it is to be found in the Estimates of Defence expenditure. If therefore, there is a feeling . against the appointment of Senator Pearce, it is the duty of this House to be frank enough to declare where it stands. Although the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has suggested the appointment of three delegates representative of the parties in the House, my personal view was that there should be a representative of the Government and a representative of the Opposition. I am convinced, after hearing the re-‘ marks of the Leader of the Country party, that such representation would suffice. The members of that party have thrown their weight with the Government since the House assembled after the last elections. Notwithstanding their many protestations, the fact remains that there is not enough distinction between the Government side and the Corner party to entitle the latter to separate representation. I am quite prepared, however, to support the amendment of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton). I hope there may be no division of opinion, and . no vote taken on a question involving the peace of the world. The Prime Minister stated in answer to the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt), that he and those associated with him at the last Imperial Conference did everything that mortals could do - to use his own words - to impress upon the Conference the necessity for granting representation to the Dominions at the Washington Conference.
– Not upon the Conference, but upon America.
– The Prime Minister intimated that that was opposed. I wish to know who opposed it.
– He also said that the Imperial Conference agreed that we should be represented through the Imperial authorities.
– He stated that that fight failed, but how does that statement fit in with what has happened during the last few days ? Did the Prime Minister abandon the fight? In what way was the question opened up again? How does that fit in with the cables that have come from anywhere and everywhere? The Prime Minister is an expert in getting cables sent along at the right time, when it suits him, but that does not fit in with the statement that everything that was humanly possible was done to have the Dominions represented.
– Yes, it does. It is not America that is agreeing to our going. We are only going as part of the British delegation.
– Then how is it that we have these cables arriving at the time when the Prime Minister finds it convenient ?
– At the Imperial Conference we were in the same position as the Corner party occupies in relation to the National party.
– That is why I say two delegates from this House would be sufficient. If the Government are not shifted until action to remove them is taken by the Corner party, they will remain in office for all time, because the Corner party will not submit any motion that they consider will receive sufficient support to defeat the Government. The most desirable thing to be achieved in the world to-day is disarmament, and the bringing about of conditions that will prevent us from ever being placed where we were during the five years of warfare. It has left the great masses of the people impoverished, and for years to come they will be impoverished. If the representatives of the people are not capable of coming together in a Conference, and evolving means ofsettling our international troubles in some more humane way than over the dead bodies of our fellow men, then the whole system under which we live is a ghastly failure.
– And civilization is bankrupt.
– I believe it can be done, and it is because the members of the party’ on this side of the House believe so, and are desirous of getting it done, that we seek to take our part in sending representativesto the Conference who will assist in bringing about this desirable end. It isbecause I feel, with others, that there is so much at stake that I think we should exhaust every effort to get the kind of delegate that will fill the bill. I believe that the delegate chosen by the Government will not fill the bill, and it is for that reason ‘that I utter my protest. I do not want to share the responsibility of his selection, which will surely fall upon the shoulders of the Government. I do not utter one word of a personal nature against Senator Pearce, but I believe that he is not fitted by reason of his characteristics, and particularly because of his official position, to do what will be expected of him by the people of this country: If the desire is to keep the military spirit alive for political or other purposes, then the Government could not have made a more suitable choice than Senator Pearce.
– You claim that only those who have never fought can advocate peace.
– I do not suggest anything of the kind. Senator Pearce, as a matter of fact, has never fought. I believe it is quite possible that those who have fought, and have thus had an opportunity to know and realize the horrors of war, would in every way be suitable to deal with the subject from that point of view. I do not draw the line suggested by the interjection.
– You say that because Senator Pearce is Minister for Defence he is not fit to represent Australia.
– Being Minister for Defence is a different thng from fighting. While he has been Minister for Defence, Senator Pearce has always bowed to those military gentlemen who are trying to keep the military spirit alive in this country. We know that there are certain people connected with the military organization of this country who are trying to perpetuate the military spirit. We knowthat, large as the military estimates are, they would have been much larger if Senator Pearce had had his way. When the military officials - call them “ brass hats “ or what you like - have asked for anything Senator Pearce has never opposed them. We cannot blame them for what they do. We cannot blame them for wanting to exalt themselves and their position. It is their living. The fault lies with the Government in allowing them to batten on the people. I do not think that, from what we know of him, from his associa- tions, his office, and his actions while he has been Minister for Defence, we can expect to get from Senator Pearce, as a representative, the results that we would get from one not associated with the military machine. His military associations mark him as one not to be trusted in this regard. The objection of the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir .Robert Best) to the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) was very amusing. The amendment proposed that we should have representatives of all parties at the Washington Conference. The honorable member objected to that because he thought it was going to introduce a class spirit or a class feeling. He said that we were proposing to introduce the party spirit, which should be kept out, and that the Prime Minister was the” one who, in his opinion, would fill the bill. It is a strange thing, if he wanted to keep the party spirit out, that he did not pick on some one else. The party man is acceptable to the honorable member for Kooyong so long as he belongs to the Nationalist party. If you speak about appointing a member of some other party, then you are “ introducing the party spirit.” The party spirit is all right if it comes from the right side. The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt) invited the Prime Minister to take a risk. Naturally the Prime Minister does not want to take a risk, particularly as the honorable member for Balaclava described himself as a “detached member.” I suppose that means that he does not now belong to the Nationalist party. Naturally, the Prime Minister is not taking any risks, Or accepting any invitations from a “detached” member. The position of the German people to-day who have been freed from the upkeep of an army and navy makes ours absurd. We went to war with Germany, we were told, to kill the miltary spirit, and it was claimed to have been killed in that country. Germany has got disarmament, which is the very thing we are going to wrangle about at. the Washington Conference. She has secured disarmament as a result of the war. We might well ask, remembering the present position of Germany, which has been freed from the burden of defence, while our own defence expenditure is ever mounting higher and higher, “ Who won the war?”
– We . have caught the disease of militarism.
– Exactly. We propose to send to Washington a delegate who is the very embodiment of militarism in this country. The amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has freed members of this party from responsibility for Senator Pearce’s appointment. I hope that we may have a vote upon the amendment; but, failing that, a definite vote on the proposal to appoint Senator Pearce, so that those responsible for his appointment must accept; responsibility for it when the proper time comes. It is because I object to the appointment that I am registering this protest against it.
– This is such an important matter that we should have a quorum present. [Quorum formed.’) There aTe two or three phases of this question to which I desire to address myself. They are: Who should be appointed; how the cablegrams that have been read, by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) managed to arrive in the nick of time; and what effect the Conference will have upon the disarmament of the nations. Much has been said against the appointment of Senator Pearce to represent Australia on the Disarmament Conference. Senator Pearce and I are not very good friends; we have no use for one another. But I say, candidly, that I think Senator Pearce would be just as good a representative as anybody else. I say that because those at the Conference will not be able to do anything, and do not intend to do anything. Therefore, we might as well have Senator Pearce as a representative as have any one else. When shall we get away from being hypocritical, and trying to fool the people? We are telling them that this will be a Conference to consider disarmaments. We know that the nations of the world do not intend to disarm. They are grasping for land and for commerce to-day as much as ever they were. Do you think any of the great nations - the United States of America, for instance - will disarm and relinquish opportunities for extending its commerce in the future? Not much! Do you think the ‘British nation intends to disarm? Not much! And what of the French or the Japanese nation?
– Are you speaking of the people of those countries, or of their Governments? There is no doubt that public opinion all over the world is in favour of disarmament.
– I am speaking of the Governments of those countries. Unfortunately, the people do not govern. The big point that will be raised in connexion with disarmament, perhaps under some other name, will be the freedom of the seas, and the Conference will endeavour to minimize as far as possible the construction of further destructive ships of war. Then there is the question of conscription, which may he approached from the point of view of the enormous cost entailed. But we have the United States of America, Japan, and some other nations saying that their present military and naval programmes will be carried into effect whatever may be the outcome of the Conference.
– All the trouble between America- and Japan arises from the desire to trade with China.
– I am just saying that it is the commerce of the world about which all the nations are most concerned. The powerful British Navy was kept up in the past to keep the seas open to enable Great Britain to extend her commerce. So it will be in the future. Do honorable members realize what the statesmen of the United States of America mean by the freedom of the seas? Why all this hypocrisy? The Americans were quite ready during the war to carry munitions to countries with which Great Britain was at war, and were only prevented from doing so by the British Navy. The American politicans desire complete freedom of the seas that they may be able to transport armaments1 by sea to countries with which Britain may be fighting in the future.
– They abandoned that position.
– Will the honorable member tell me what American statesman has said that that position ‘has been abandoned.? Was it President Wilson?
– It was never statutory at all. It was merely an expression of public opinion.
– I do not see how it could be statutory, but it was the opinion expressed by American politicians.
– Americans have aban,doned it now, because they found it unworkable when they went into the war themselves.
– What evidence have we of the abandonment of that desire by the commercial magnates of America ? The desire of ‘ all the nations is to extend their trade and commerce as much as they can. What are we trying to do, ourselves? Are we not endeavouring to increase our overseas trade, always hoping that we shall get the best of other countries in our deals? Just as in the past, every nation that possessed the power to extend its commerce with other countries has held on to that power tenaciously, so it will be in the future. Representatives of the different countries will meet at Washington, and will fool the people as they have been fooled in the past. I will not say that they will enter the Conference deliberately with that,desire in their hearts, but they will not be really representatives of the views of the people. « We know the people who were behind the Nationalist political organizations at the last Federal elections, and worked to put members of the Ministerial party into the position which they occupy to-day. We know, too, that they will expect the party opposite to defend the interests of those who put them where they are. I can recall newspapers that were advocates of representatives of commercial interests, and they also will expect honorable members opposite to protect the interests of those to whom they owe their present position. The purpose is to secure for the commercial section of the community all the power they can - honestly if possible, but in any case to secure it.
We talk about disarmament! What will take place? Every one in the world to-day knows that the United States of America and Japan are waiting to spring at each other. As a matter of fact, it has been said, and we can give some credence to- the statement, that one of the principal reasons why. the United States of America went into the last war was in order that Americans might arm and prepare for a conflict with Japan. They did so. . It is commonly believed to-day that one of the horrors likely to come upon us in the near future is a war between Japan and the United States of America. Yet representatives of these countries are going to meet in conference and talk about disarmament. What are armaments for? They are to protect the trade and commerce of the different nations, and we know that the people of the world are not considered in these matters’.
I confess that I am not so keen, as are the rest of the members of the party to which I belong, on this Conference on disarmament. I feel strongly that I should not stand sponsor for anything that might be done at the Washington Disarmament Conference, because 1 know that what is done there will not be done in the interests of the great mass of the people, but in the interest of the commercial section, since they only will be represented. The wisdom of sending to the Conference representatives of the different parties in this House is debatable. I am prepared to vote for the amendment submitted by the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton), but I am not enamoured of the proposal, because I cannot conceive that the representative of the Government at the Conference will be disposed to accept any advice from the representative of the party on this side. I do not know that I should be prepared to blame him on that account, because I tell honorable members candidly that if the party on this side controlled this Parliament, I should want to rule the country, and should not permit representatives of other parties to rule it. I have little doubt that honorable members opposite hold the same views, though they may not be honest enough to confess them. ‘ How is it possible for the representative of the Government at the Conference to take any cognisance of a hint or advice from the representative of the party on this side? Our desires are as wide asunder as the poles.
– On the question of disarmament ?
– Yes, even on that question under certain conditions. The representative of the Government at the Conference might accept disarmament under conditions which could not be agreed to by any representative of the working section of the community. I can quite imagine conditions of disarmament which would place the workers of the world in greater thraldom than they are in to-day. Honorable members, no doubt, know what I am alluding to. We may be asked to make concessions to appease Japan. But Japan is not the only nation to be appeased. It is possible that conditions might be accepted which would throw our markets open to the products of other countries, produced under conditions which would not be tolerated by the workers of Australia. I should not be prepared to accept disarmament under such conditions. The position would be very different if the world belonged to the workers. My objection to the inroad of coloured labour into Australia is not a racial one, but is based upon economic considerations. I recognise that the Japanese, the Indians, and the Chinese are, from their stand-point, as civilized as we are. But I can remember the conditions under which the people worked in India when I was there as a young man, and if these people were brought into this country in hordes they would be prepared to work under similar conditions here.
– Would the honorable member agree to their admission to Australia if they lived under equal conditions with our own people?
– I have said that my objection to the coloured races is economic and not racial. The argument based on the question, “ Would you care . to have one of these people as a soninlaw?” has nothing whatever to do with me. I should just as strongly object to be closely associated with some people of European nations who, from the economic stand-point, I consider as undesirable as people of the coloured races. I wish to prevent people who work under the conditions which are accepted in those countries from competing unfairly with the workers of Australia. I believe that disarmament might be brought about under conditions which would be injurious to the working section of this community, and I could not approve of that.
It has been suggested that the Prime Minister should go to the Washington Disarmament Conference. He might just as well go as the Minister for Defence. I am of opinion that, however able any representative of Australia may be, however earnest he may be in his desire to make Australia so attractive to the people of the world that no other country could compare with it, his views will count for nothing in a Conference of men brought together, not to bring about disarmament, but to maintain the commercial grasp which various nations have upon the world and assist its extension. Therefore the representation of Australia at the Conference is largely a matter of indifference to me. I know that if a representative from this side goes to the Conference he will have to accept his share of blame for whatever may be done there. I say, with the deepest feeling, “ God help the man who goes from this side,” if Senator Pearce or the right honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Hughes) are to represent the Government at the Conference. I say this because in the circumstances the representative of this side cannot expect to bring away from the Conference anything to benefit the workers of the world, since that is not the purpose for which the Conference is to be held.
Surprise has been expressed that we have not previously received the information which is contained in the cables received from Great Britain and read by the Prime Minister. There are members in this House who have had Cabinet experience, which I have not had. They are conversant with the high politics of the world, as I am not. They have been associated with intrigues that I have not had the opportunity of being associated with; and yet they ask what took place in the interval between the time when the Prime Minister left Great Britain to return to Australia and the receipt of the first of these cablegrams on Tuesday last. How innocent they all are! What took place in the meantime? Why, “ Alfie” Harmsworth has been here. This lord, to whom some people have bent the knee, and whom they have tried to lionize, should be put in the same category with William of Germany, and made to stand his trial- as one of the war criminals. LordNorthcliffe has been in Australia, and we have been told by the inspired press that he controls that he came to Australia purposely to confer with the Prime Minister upon the Australian representation at the Washington Disarmament Conference. I have felt humiliated to think that a bounder like that, with the power of his press, and money behind him, who used his press to prolong the war, should come here to give advice to the people of Australia. What he could have thought of us I do not know, but I think there was something in the statement which appeared in the press concerning him. I believe that it was inspired in one way or another, and as surely as we are here to-day if the people of Australia had responded to the glamour of Lord Northcliffe he, and not one of the members of this Parliament, would have been the man selected to represent Australia at the Washington Conference.
Sitting suspended from 6.80 to 8 p.m.
– I was dealing with the apparent endeavour of somebody to foist Lord Northcliffe upon Australia. I know that a big section of the community would be pleased if he adopted Australia. All I have to say in that regard is that our press is already bad enough, in all conscience, because, whenever the Age or the Argus tells the truth it is an accident. Those newspapers talk about the freedom of the press, but the efforts to bring about peace which are associated with the disarmament proposals have never been furthered by the press. We have been told to-night that Lord Nortihcliffe is going to Washington with his suite to watch the Disarmament Conference, and willbe there for twelve months. Unfortunately, Australia’s representative or dozen representatives at that gathering will not have as much effect in bringing about disarmament as Lord Northcliffe will have in promoting the continuance of armaments if he so desires. I mention the name of the noble lord because he, and those associated with him in the commercial world, are desirous of continuing the armaments of the different nations, instead of promoting disarmament to any great extent. Whether we like it or not we cannot dissociate his name from the present position in Australia. Whether or not he did anything between the time the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) left Great Britain and his arrival here last week I shall never be able to prove, but from the inspired articles in the press it is evident that something has been happening that requires a lot of explanation. There are men who still hope to make fortunes out of war. I, in common with the great mass of the people, am desirous of- dis- ‘ armament being brought about, but I do not join with other honorable members of my party in expecting such a result from the forthcoming Conference. I know that the men who will attend there as delegates are representatives of the present capitalistic system, whose whole desire is the making of money. Prior to the great war commercialism had no country; it was international. The great capitalists in all countries were interdependent, and those who controlled the manufacture of armaments in Great Britain, Germany, and France, and, indeed, throughout the world, were more or less in association. What they were in the past they will continue to be in the future. The first and cardinal principle for the Washington Conference to decide is that no private individual or corporation shall manufacture armaments of any description. Until that policy is agreed upon there cannot be the slightest hope of peace, because the financiers who invest their money in armament factories will see that there is war, so that they may get trade and fortunes out of it. We are told that the unemployment in Great Britain to-day and the discharge of great numbers of men from different industries is due to the fact that during the war capitalists were induced by the British Government to invest their profits in large establishments for the manufacture ©f munitions, and at the present time there is not sufficient demand for those commodities to keep the establishments occupied. The hope of the world is that all this machinery and capital may be employed in the manufacture of peacetime commodities. But the investors desire that the wheels of their establishments shall go round and they will see that that happens, even if they have to continue to manufacture armaments. Therefore, unless the Conference decides against the private manufacture of armaments, any proposal for disarmament will be futile. We know enough of the great commercial nations to feel sure that they will not attempt any limitation of that kind. This pretence of a desire on their. part to bring about disarmament is too thin, and I do not believe that the people of the United States of America or Great Britain are deceived by it. Therefore, from my point of view, Senator Pearce will be just as effective a representative as would his majesty the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes). But I hope that Parliament will not make itself responsible for the action of the Australian delegate. Let Senator Pearce’s selection be a party appointment by the Government, and let them accept the whole responsibility for it. It may be true, as an honorable member interjects, that the Country party has been whipped up, and will vote for the Government’s motion. I do not desire to enter into a discussion at this moment’ as to the relations between the two parties opposite. Whilst I am an implacable party man and will support my colleagues, I hope they will not expect too much from the forthcoming Conference, no matter what they may desire in their hearts, and that they will not be mixed up in any way with the Australian representation. If they are, they will be held partly responsible for what is done at Washington. We know that, so far as’ the workers whom we represent are concerned, the results of the Conference will be nil. I may be told that I am taking a pessimistic view. I would like to hold a better view of the so-called statesmen of the world, but past history teaches us that commercialism has no conscience. The men who represent capitalism will be at) the Conference, and commercial greed will rise superior to every desire for peace and disarmament. Again I express the hope that my party will not accept any representation at the Conference, even if the Government should offer it. Let the Government appoint their “nominee, and let it be a party selection, because the mission is bound to be a failure.
.- I give notice that I intend to move a further amendment when the opportunity offers. I do not agree with either the proposition brought forward by the Government or with the amendment submitted by the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton). I am one who is here to put forward the views of the working class as I understand them, and, to my mind, disarmament conferences, peace conferences, the Hague Tribunal, and such-like gatherings have been the favorite method of the ruling classes in the various countries of presenting one another with a Judas kiss prior to again crucifying humanity on the cross of capitalistic greed. The Hague conference in 1898 was merely a preliminary to the Russo-Japanese war. We know the great interest taken in the Czar’s invitation to that Conference. It was said that the swords of the nations were to he beaten into ploughshares; war was to be abolished, and a reign of peace substituted. Similarly, prior to the late war with Germany, Winston Churchill was prating in 1912 about a naval holiday, and all the time the Allies were fixing up their secret agreements and making every preparation for the world war that broke out in 1914. Again, after the United States of America being led into the war by a pacifist President, we now have the exponent of American militarism posing as the apostle of peace. President Harding, tie candidate of “big business “ in the United States of America, and the advocate of a huge navy and army and a spread-eagle policy for the big business interests, is speaking with the voice that President Wilson used prior to the entry of America into the war. Britain, America, and Japan are doing their utmost to build up huge naval and military establishments, and are at the” same time endeavouring to dupe the working classes into the belief that they are seeking to establish an- era of peace. The honor able” member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt) referred to-day to the European situation, and contrasted the positions of Prance, Germany, Poland, and various other countries. He mentioned Russia as having the greatest actual and potential army in Europe at the present time, and then asked if we thought that France and Poland would abandon their rights to use armaments. We know full well that they will not. Has not the Prime Min- ister (Mr. Hughes) told us that Great Britain was quite willing to enter the Washington Conference, and come to terms with the United States of America, Japan, and others nations represented there upon anything flat does not prejudice Great Britain’s control of the sea. Has not the Prime Minister continually said that there are some things, such as the White Australia policy, about which Australia will not arbitrate.
– I should hope so.
– The honorable member, too, is a nice apostle of peace.
– I am a better apostle of a White Australia than is the honorable member if he holds the sentiments he has just expressed.
– The honorable member has a lot to learn yet about my sentiments. My view of the proposed Dis- armament Conference is that it is merely a move on the part of the American governing interests to placate the feeling prevailing among the populace of America in favour of disarmament or the limitation of armies and navies. At the same time Harding and his crowd are trying to come to terms with Great Britain and Japan. It is simply a question of sparring for position. Just as Great Britain prior to 1914 schemed to arouse the moral feeling of the world against Germany,’ so we have this manoeuvring on the part of the United States of America to arouse the world against Great Britain. There will be no disarmament. Mr. Lloyd George, speaking on the 21st July, in reply to a question in the House of Commons, said that,
Assuming the Washington Conference would be a complete success, he did not think it would remove’ the obligation which the Government was under to build new ships. and on the 27th July,
Mr. Denby, the Secretary of the Navy, statesthat he will proceed with the construction of the war vessels’ authorized by Congress despite the forthcoming Conference on Armaments.
President Harding, the apostle of “peace,”’ made this statement in his inaugural speech last August-
If war is again forced upon us, I earnestly hope a way may be .found which will unify our individual and collective strength, and consecrate all America, materially and spiritually,, body and soul, to national defence.
The same old clap-trap talked by militarists in every country! America has emerged from the war as the greatest competitor that Great Britain has ever encountered. Germany was no greater menace to the economic supremacy of theBritish Empire than is America to-day. In every line of competition, including naval supremacy, the mercantile marine, the control of oil fields, and finance,. American and’ British interests are coming into conflict every day. A few weeks ago their shipping interests clashed at Shanghai, and’ as a consequence- a responsible Minister in the United States of
America has notified British shippers that (Unless the position is altered America proposes to apply the Jones Law for the purpose of taking steps of reprisal against British shipping. At the conclusion of the war Great Britain and France set about dividing Mesopotamia among themselves, and making it “ safe for Democracy,” and now comes along the American Government, the “ carpet-bagger “ for American interests, with a demand for equal rights for the Yankees in the .Mesopotamian oil fields. It has also served notice on theDutch Government that American - companies must be placed on an equal footing with other exploiting companies in regard to Dutch Possessions and it is rather significant that Holland has been invited to send a delegate to the Washington Conference. But the greatest piece of camouflage of all is that which applies to the position in the Pacific. The “vital interests of Australia in respect to the Pacific” boil down to this: Who is to have the right of exploiting the Chinese market - the British capitalists or the Yankees ? The open door in China! The open door in Siberia! The. Mandated Territories in the Pacific ! Why are all these questions of such vital importance at the present moment? It is because the European market, owing to the existing crisis, has failed both Great Britain and the United States of America, and British and Japanese economic interests, which run hand in hand, are opposed to those of America. The Country party in this Parliament entered into a truce to allow the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) to go to the Imperial Conference in order to save Australia’s interests in the Pacific, and this House solemnly debated whether it would agree to the renewal of the Anglo-Japanese Treaty or not. Representatives of the Dominions were summoned to meet in London, and they also solemnly discussed whether or not they would renew the Alliance; but when it was found that Canadian opinion and that of South Africa were against its renewal, it was suddenly discovered that the Lord High Chancellor- of Great Britain was the only person in the Empire who knew the exact date upon which it would expire. All the collective wisdom of the statesmen of the Empire at that Imperial Conference went for naught. We are now informed on our Prime Minister’s return that, despite the opinions of Canada and South Africa, the Anglo-Japanese Alliance will continue until twelve months after it is denounced by either party, and whether we want it or not does not matter a “ tinker’s continental.” Before the war broke out between the British Empire and the German Empire we could meet here and talk about these things, but had no say as to the real happenings. We are in exactly the same position to-day. The Anglo-Japanese Alliance is not to be scrapped. Its purpose is that the combined British and Japanese naval forces may be used to deal with the American navy.
– Not much !
– No; but when the working class of Great Britain get rid of their exploiters the honorable member will be throwing his hat in the air for the Stars and Stripes of the American capitalists as he does now for the British capitalists.
Those who are so strong in their advocacy of the White Australia policy tell us that the greatest menace to Australia is the fact that there are 70,000,000 people living in a very restricted area in Japan, with which country they are so “ darned “ anxious to remain in alliance. But who have been responsible for developing this menace to Australia, if menace it be; who have brought the Japanese people up to their present state of efficiency which makes them such a menace ? Who, but the British capitalists? During the last three years we have had a great deal of talk about making the world safe for democracy and about fighting a war to protect the small nations. Japan and. Great Britain in the terms of their alliance agreed to guarantee the independence and integrity of Korea, yet Britain stood by while Japan absorbed Korea? Was it not the same in the case of Persia? Did not Russia and Great Britain prior to the war guarantee the independence and integrity of that country, and yet proceed to divide it among themselves? The Imperial capitalists of Great Britain are exploiting Egypt, India, and Ireland, and. the United States of America capitalist’s are doing the same in Hayti and San Domingo, Republican imperialists on the one hand and monarchical imperialists on the other, are all playing the same game; they are endeavouring to monopolize the markets of the world, the most desirable of which, at the time, are the potential markets of Asia, now in the hands of the Japanese, and the British capitalists. It is because Japan is carrying out a policy of exclusion, to the detriment of American capitalists that the latter, speaking through, their political mouth-pieces, are declaring for the building of the greatest navy - in the world, and for the freedom of the seas. Great Britain, however, says, “You cannot have the freedom of the seas,” and says further that it must have a navy equal to that of the greatest other Power of the world, and an offensive and defensive alliance with another Power. Why ? We may be sure it is not to play skittles. What is the use of our talking about the coloured menace to Australia, when we are in alliance with the greatest coloured Power in the world ? We have the Prime Minister putting forward reasons for the continuance of that alliance, and yet that very document, although it does not pledge Great Britain to fight against America, compels it to come to the assistance of Japan in that very locality where American and British interests may clash, namely Asia. If war breaks out between Japan and the United States of America does any one believe that Great Britain will not take full advantage of it? Read the American press at the present time, listen to the Prime Minister’s insidious propaganda, his anti-American utterances, follow the Australian press in certain quarters and read its anti-American propaganda, or listen to honorable members in this House attempting to throw upon the United States of America the onus of not having Australia represented at this “most important Conference.” Why is Lord Northcliffe out here? Why is he booming immigration at the present time and talking about filling Australia at the rate of 100,000 immigrants per year? It is because the British capitalists do not believe that the Australian people are anti-American at the present time. It is because they think they know that if war occurred between the United States of America and Japan the great bulk of - the population of Australia would throw their hats into the air for the land of the Stars and Stripes. Does any honorable member imagine that, with the agencies iu the hands of such a Government as this - this Government which was in power throughout the war, which placed the
War Precautions Act upon the statutebook and utilized its censorship of the press to lie to the people and maintain itself in power by its lies and its propaganda of hate - the people of Australia would be told the truth in the event of war breaking out between Great Britain and the United States of America?
– But that would not be possible.
– Does the honorable member think so? He is like those who, before the great war, was loudest in his expressions of belief that war between Great Britain and ‘Germany was impossible. The honorable member was among those who talked in that fashion all over the country while, at the same time, an active propaganda was proceeding on the part of the militarists, who were getting ready for the inevitable. And, just as surely as war broke out in 1914, so surely are Great Britain and America drifting into a position where war again must be inevitable. Ib is when these people of whom I speak begin to balk peace that one needs to be looking for one’s gun. When certain parties talk peace conference and disarmament projects, that is when they are getting ready to blow other people into eternity. This statement furnishes the reason why the United States of America refused to join the League of Nations. The refusal was due to recognition of the fact that the League is merely an instrument for allied domination. President Harding wants % different League of Nations. He desires to bring about an association of nations in which the United States of America shall be the predominant party. So we have little items of propaganda such as appeared, for example, in last night’s Herald, which reported that -an American Commission on the Indian question was engaged in anti-British propaganda, and was standing behind the Indian rebels. Another of the same kind of propaganda news paragraphs was recently published to the effect that American guns and fighting men were securing entrance into Ireland. In the American papers there have been reports concerning atrocities by British troops in Ireland, in India, and elsewhere.
This Washington Conference is nothing but camouflage designed to delude the people. When President Wilson sought re-election during the early stages of the war he was returned to office as the man who had kept America out of the war; but he was not back in office six months before he had led the United States of America into the war. The Disarmament Conference is merely the prelude to a clash with Great Britain. In 1924 the American Navy will have become superior to the British Navy in fleet units, weight of armament, and speed. The American mercantile marine is now but one-third less in numbers of vessels than the British; prior to the great war it was a negligible quantity. Great Britain is in debt to the United States of America to the extent of something like £1,000,000,000. One reads of continual complaints in the British press concerning the economic weapon which is thus provided for the hands of American capitalists to wield, and one reads of the refusal of the United States of America authorities to discuss the question of releasing Great Britain from the debt. Honorable members, I know, are impatient of listening to my views, but they will slavishly support the Government in sending their chosen delegate to the Conference. So far as I am concerned, Senator Pearce may as well attend at Washington as anybody else, for all the good or harm he or any other man will do there. I do not think any good will accrue from it to the working people of this country, or of Great Britain, or of the United States of America, or of Japan. The Conference merely amounts to an effort to fool the workers again. What is the use to them of all the talk about limitationof armaments? Will limitation prevent war? If there is to be a limitation ofwar-ship building, will not the relative positions of the nations remain the same? Will Great Britain agree to any scheme or process of limitation which will permit the United States of America to oust the British Navy from the position of superiority which it now enjoys, and has for so long held ? The attempt to exploit the working class and to force upon it the idea of disarmament is intended solely for the purpose of continuing to hold the working class enslaved. It is only when the working class of Russia has demonstrated that it can be no longer misled concerning where its real interests lie that one hears men like the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt) complain that Russia to-day possesses the greatest actual and potential army in the world. When speaking upon another question some nights ago, I stated that it would not be long before vested interests in this country would be doing their best to wipe out compulsory military training. These people are beginning to see that their welfare does not lie in training the working class in the arts of warfare. They believe now in trying to get the nations to enter into some form of organization which will permit a limitation of armaments, while at the same time, however, preserving an international army that can be manipulated to strike at revolt, no matter where it may be aroused, or to hurl its forces upon any country which may disagree with the capitalistic League of Nations. In speaking thus, I have set forth the idea behind the League of Nations. In opposition to this project the revolutionary workers of Europe have organized themselves into a league of free peoples, in the Third Internationale and it is from that source, or nucleus, that the working classes of the world are making their protests against war. The only way in which the working people can prevent war is by refusing to fight. War will cease only when, the workers of the world refuse to carry out the orders given them by their various Governments, who fain would hurl them at each other’s throats. What is the cause of the unemployment existing in various parts of the world today ? Why are there unemployedin Australia ? Is the trouble due to local causes? Everybody knows that the existing order is international in its scope and ramifications. There is no unemployment in Russia to-day.
– Because the people are all busily engaged in cutting each other’s
– No! They are busy keeping the thieves out. They have some reason for fighting now, because what they are fighting for belongs to themselves and not to those who exploited them. When the workers of this country, and of all the countries known as the British Empire, get as much sense as the Russian workers, they will follow the Russian workers’ example and get rid of the parasites.
– By cutting their throats !
– No; but the honorable member and others would have to go to work.
I believe that, those responsibilities for convening this and other Conferences are not honest in their desires for peace, because they know that peace is impossible under present conditions. While there is competition for markets, there must inevitably be the paraphernalia for defending markets already in possession, or acquiring new ones, and while armaments - naval and military - are built up, conflict must take place. The world’s markets are limited, and we find countries coming into conflict in consequence; and the prizes that are being fought for are the Chinese, Siberian, and other Asiatic markets. Because of this, either the United States of America and Great Britain will come to an agreement to turn round and “ settle “ their former Ally, Japan, and divide the plunder between them for a period, or the Americans will have to take steps to deal with the BritishJapanese combination. In the latter case we shall be told, as in the case of little Belgium, that we must save Britain, while the American people will be told that it is their duty to fight for the “open door” and equal rights for the American merchants. Great Britain will then be painted in America in colours just as black as was Germany in England during the late war. It will be pointed out to the American people that Great Britain has possession of all the potential oil supplies of the world, that Great Britain is standing behind Japan, and that all the unemployment in America is due to the fact that American merchants cannot get rid of their goods because of the BritishJapanese combination. Here we are told that the Americans have got “‘swelled head,” and think they can rule the world, because, having first made their “pile,” they came into the recent war rather late; and if conflict does occur it will be impressed on us that negro lynchings and other atrocities, which will be “starred up “ in the newspapers, are not the work of Britishers, but of Italians, Germans, Russians, and Irishmen, and that we must “ clean up “ the country in order to make America “ safe for Democracy !”
– What are you going to do about it?
– I shall tell the workers here that when they are called upon to fight for the British flag as against the American flag, they should refuse to fight for either - refuse to fight for any but their own interests, which are symbolized by the red flag of the international working class. That is what I shall advocate, not only within this House so long as I am here, but also outside. I shall tell the workers that when the honorable member who interjects gives them the order to shoot the workers of other countries, they ought to know what to do, and turn their guns on him. I will tell them the same as my comrades in France told the French workers when it was made impossible to call up divisions for the purpose of occupying the Rhine lands. When those troops were mobilized they mutinied and refused to go into the Rhine’ country.
– I think the honorable member had better come back to the question.
– I am showing the futility of these Peace Conferences. .
– The honorable member is going a great deal beyond that.
– I am endeavouring to point out, as I said at the start, that the only way to prevent war is for the workers to refuse to fight, and let the war promoters do their own fighting. If the working classes were intelligent enough, there would be no need to send delegates to Washington. The working class have taken steps in France and other countries to try and drive home to the working man in uniform that his duty and interests lie in refusing to be used in the interests of his exploiters. It was those steps that led to the last call up of the French Army being a total failure; and men, when they had been organized, threw their rifles out of the train windows, .sang “ The Red Flag,” and cheered for revolution.
– It is the first we have heard about it.
– The honorable member knows that what I say is true. The French navy in the Black Sea hoisted the red flag and refused to fire on the Soviets, and similar occurrences have taken place elsewhere. British troops acted in the same way, because the work-, ing class in England, and in other countries,- refused to side against the Soviet workers of Russia. When the working classes of all countries of the world hold out their hands in friendship to one another it will be impossible to carry on war.
– The millennium!
– It will be nearer the millennium, than we are in slitting each others’ throats.
– “What are they doing in Russia?
– They are getting on very well in Russia.
– It is a pity you do not go there, if they are doing so well.
– I exercise the right I possess to advocate for this country the same policy that the Russian workers advocate.
– To starve the people !
– No doubt the honorable member will come along with crocodile tears in his eyes when the Lord Mayor of Melbourne, or the Prime Minister, asks him to contribute for the support of the starving Russians. It is most remarkable that those who talk about the blood-stained Bolshevists and so forth, are the very people who tell us that it is necessary on humanitarian grounds to help the starving Russians, who are even to be supplied with medical necessaries. The American capitalist is breaking his neck to get into Russia with food supplies before the Britishers get there, because they now recognise the possibility of trade with Russia. At one time those people would not shako the “ blood-stained hands” of Lenin or Trotsky, any more than they wouldthe hands of the “ murder gang” in Ireland; but now these men are regarded as “ statesmen,” ‘ because trade interests are involved. And because trade interests are at stake in China and Siberia, dreadnoughts will decide whether the Britisher or the American capitalist is to monopolize the markets there. All the talk of “ Anglo-Saxon friendship “ and the ties of blood “ will go for naught. “What about the “ ties of blood” in. the American Civil War?
– The honorable member is getting away from the question.
– No, sir; I am not getting away from the question. I am endeavouring to show up the camouflage in the statements made about peace with a view to lulling the working classes of this and other countries into a sense of false security, if they are foolish enough to allow themselves to be lulled. The first thing that we shall see will be some cable to the effect than an American warship has interfered with some British vessel; that American gun-running ships have landed arms in Ireland, or that some such incident has occurred as when an American officer was shot by a Japanese sentry. Anything is an excuse; and immediately the time is considered opportune, there is an end to any chance on the part of the people of learning the real truth. We shall have another War Precautions Act, the cables and all other agencies of information will be in the hands of the Government, and any one who opens his mouth against the war, or against the acts of the Government, will go to gaol under the iron heel of militarism. We shall have the Hughes regime over again, and then people who talk about “ our American cousins” and “ ties of blood,” will be reminded of the “ dear old flag “ and the Empire. In America, there will be similar happenings. It does not matter whether Senator Pearce or any one else goes as our representative to Washington. The whole thing is not genuine; it is not proposed to take any steps to bring about peace, but, on the other hand, to get ready for the next war. There is no doubt that the people will be fooled if they allow themselves to be fooled, and it is because I wish the working class to wake up that I take this opportunity, not to attempt to convince honorable members, but to get the workers to think for themselves, and take time by the forelock. I intend to move -
That all words after “That” he left out with a view to inserting the following: - “ as history clearly indicates that ‘ Peace Conferences,’ ‘ Naval holidays,’ ‘ Disarmament Conferences,’ &c., have been the time-honored devices of the ruling class in the various nations and groups of nations to cloak their feverish preparations for new wars for the purpose of deciding the economic mastery of the globe, and realizing that until the peoples of the earth make an end of the existing economic order, war is inevitable, this House is of the opinion that no useful purpose would be served by sending a delegate from the Commonwealth to the Washington Conference.”
– The other day I met a young American visitor who had come here to see what Australia is like, and, of course,
I asked him what he thought of the country. He had landed first at Brisbane, and he told mo that Brisbane was the queerest place he had ever been in, for every man he met was “ running down “ his own country.
– He must have read the capitalists’ press!
– No; he was travelling with working people. That visitor would have had his impressions confirmed had. he been an occupant of the gallery here to-night. Australia, unfortunately, is the only country in the world which reviles its delegates before they are sent abroad, and deserts them when they have left its shores. That has been the experience of every statesman who has been asked to represent this country in the councils of the nations across the seas; and this evening’s performance is but a faint replica of what occurred when the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) first went to Great Britain in connexion with war matters. All the vituperation that has been poured out on the delegate whom it is proposed to send on the present occasion, is feeble in comparison with what- was said on the previous occasion to which I refer. In the case of Senator E. D. Millen, who was the next’ representative, the press of this country showed him the same lack of support in his mission, and displayed the same failure to appreciate his work, as in the case of the Prime Minister. Now, when Australia again needs a representative to place our views before the representatives of other nations of the world, instead of uniting as one people in supporting the hands of a man who has a difficult task to perform, members of the National Parliament are spending time in finding fault, and venting personal spleen, for past acts and political shortcomings. That is not the way to insure that Australia’ s case shall be properly represented at the Washington Conference.
– Does the honorable member think that the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) can fittingly represent Australia?
– I dissent entirely from the views of the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best), and those of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton). I have watched the operations of constitutional government in this country, and have read of what has been done elsewhere under the British system of government. The further I have studied the question, the more convinced I am that the principle of responsible government as evolved, in the centuries of Britain’s march to freedom is the soundest available for the government of free peoples. Holding this view, I say unhesitatingly that the responsibility of sending a delegate to the Washington Conference rests with the Government of the day. It is their duty to select the best man at their disposal, and it is our duty to support that choice until the mission has been completed. When his work is done we shall expect him to return to Australia and give an account of his work, and the Government who selected him should stand or fall by his actions.
– Is it not better to help the Government to secure the services of the best men 1
– I do not think that any of the suggestions made here, or the experiments tried in the many Parliaments modelled on the Mother of Parliaments, provides a better way for securing effective work than this system doss. What is the proposal of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition? It is that a delegate should be selected and sent to the Conference, and with him should go two other delegates, one directly opposed to him politically and personally and the other holding indefinite views. I should like to be able to discuss the proposal submitted by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, because his suggestions are important and show how crude are the ideas held by some people concerning the work to be done at a gathering such as that which the Minister for Defence is to attend. His proposal is that the representative of Australia should be accompanied by two gentlemen holding other political views. He would confer with, them and present to the Conference not the views of a responsible Government, which has been placed in office by the votes of the people at a general election, but the hotch-potch views of honorable members of the Opposition and of the Country party. That is not the way to accomplish useful work. Under such a system no policy that could be of the slightest use to the delegates gathered round the Conference table could be evolved. The difficulty that confronts this Conference arises from the fact that around the table will be gathered men whose views are so widely divergent that months will elapse before they are likely to arrive at any common agreement as to the course of action to be adopted.
– Could the selected delegate give his views on conscription, and say that they coincided with those of the majority of the Australian people?
– I listened to the remarks of the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) on the question of conscription, and I shall deal with that later, if he will allow me to express my opinions in the sequence I desire. If conscription were to be discussed it is possible that the delegate selected by the Government would be an anti-conscriptionist, the gentleman selected by the Opposition an ardent Conscriptionist, and the choice of the Country party a pacifist. By what wonderful process could the divergent opinions of such persons be co-ordinated so that the Government delegate would be able to present them to the Conference as the views of Australia ? The suggestion of the honorable member for Kooyong is that Parliament should select the man. If Parliament selected a representative, he would represent very probably, not the wellconsidered judgment of honorable members, but more likely opinions to which the majority of them were opposed. To select a representative of Australia to go to the Washington Conference by an appeal to party prejudices and divisions would be the worst method that could be devised. I stand strongly for the principle of responsible government, that the representative who attends such a conference should be a Cabinet Minister responsible to this Parliament. He should be appointed by the Government of the day, which is responsible to this Parliament. Such a delegate would be under the control of the Government in every action he took at the Conference-
– What control has the British Government over Mr. Bonar Law?
– If the Bri’tish. Government have departed from a sound principle that is no reason why we should do so.
I would like now to refer to the atmosphere in which the debate on this important topic commenced. At the opening of this discussion arguments were based upon the assumption that the Prime Minister (Mr.. Hughes) was deceiving the House; and. that there had been some collusion between the Prime Minister of Australia and the Prime Minister of Great Britain (Mr. Lloyd George). The Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the Country party (Dr. Earle Page) said that the House was being misled, that documents were being withheld in order that we should not be able to get full information, and that the whole scheme was the result of influencing the British Government to send a cablegram to the Prime Minister at an opportune time to enable action to be taken.
Opposition Members. - Hear, hear.
– In view of the facts that have since been disclosed, I am surprised that honorable members opposite should say “hear, hear.” I know some honorable members live in such an atmosphere of suspicion and espionage that they see in everything done some evil intent and purpose. What is the suggestion made? It is that the Prime Minister has been misleading the public by the alleged concealment of facts, by telling lies and distorting matters, and that he is a person so powerful that he can create a like atmosphere in Great Britain. Is it to be thought that the Prime Minister can make the British Prime Minister an implement in his hand for deceiving the people of Australia? This matter goes further, because before that could have been done, the Prime Minister of Great Britain would have had to be able to twist the President of the United States of America into the’ position in which we find this question as it is presented to us to-day. The most elementary class in political tactics that could be assembled would not submit suggestions so absurd. Dates hive been quoted by the Leader of the Country party and the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt), and it has been suggested that Mr. Lloyd George should have communicated to the Prime Minister a copy of the agenda paper a week before it was drafted. It was impossible to despatch to Australia the decision’ of President Harding before he had arrived at a decision. There was not the slightest attempt to produce any evidence that the decision to invite representatives the Dominions to attend the Conference had been made by the President of the United States at any date that would enable it to be cabled here earlier than 3rd October. We have the right to expect the leaders of parties in this Chamber to speak under a sense of responsibility. They should notlend their support to baseless reflections upon the honour of men in responsible positions; otherwise men of character and ability will not be willing to carry on the government of this country.
– Was not the agenda paper published on the 12th September last?
– So far as I know., it has only been made available during the last day or two. The honorable member forMaribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) referred to the subjects to be discussed .
– They were published in Stead’s Review, on the 22nd September.
– If they were available in that publication on that date, honorable members who profess to closely follow such important questions, and who come here as leaders of parties to criticise the Government, must have been in possession of the information for some considerable time.
– The honorable member said that it had not been published.
– I did not think it had. I followed the honorable member for Maribyrnong very closely, andI am certain that the information read by the honorable member is not the same as that cabled to the Prime Minister by Mr. Lloyd George.
– It is almost the same, word for word.
-I have several times called for order, but honorable members continue to interject. I now warn them that I will name any honorable member who persistently interrupts the debate.
– Those who deplore the fact that the Prime Minister cannot go to Washington voice the opinion of the great majority of the Australian people. But it is necessary that the Prime Minister should give some attention to the domestic concerns of this coun- try. He finds himself in much the same position as Mr. Lloyd George, the Prime Minister of Great Britain. Unfortunately for Australia, Mr. Lloyd George will be unable to attend the Washington Conference because the needs of his own Parliament are so pressing that he cannot leave the Mother Country at this time. While one would commend the suggestion made by the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt) that there should be a truce in this Parliament to enable the Prime Minister to go to Washington, I do not think that any of us who sat here during the last truce while the Prime Minister was in England would care to be placed in a similar position again. To have to endure, as we had, the indignity of reading in the press of meetings of the Corner party, at which, so it was said, motions were carried peremptorily summoning the Prime Minister to return at a time when he was doing the work of Australia abroad, placed us in a. most unsatisfactory position. If I were Prime Minister I would, under no circumstances, undertake such a mission if there’ was a likelihood of my work being impaired, as the Prime Minister’s work must have been, by the publication of statements of that character on the other side of the world amongst people who had no knowledge of the nature of the debates in this Parliament. Thatis why I complained in my opening remarks that Australia does not support, as other countries do, those men who are sent to represent her in the Councils of the Nations. There should be no division of opinion about the representation of Australia at these great gatherings. We may have differences of opinion as to whether a delegate should go or not. We may have differences of opinion as to the matters to be presented in the name of Australia. These questions are fit subjects for discussion; but, there should be no act or word from responsible men here that would in any degree weaken the position of those who may be sent to represent Australia.
The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) spoke for a while about the White Australia policy. He holds views somewhat similar to those espoused by the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine), who also alluded to this subject. It happens that again, for a third time, Australia is sending a delegate to a Conference in which this question of aWhite Australia is involved, and Australia can rest assured that Senator Pearce is thoroughly conversant with all the aspects of that important question. He is one of those who fought for aWhite Australia when it was an unpopular policy, and he has had opportunities of administering a great Department during the crucial years of the war. He knows the Australian mind upon this question as well as any other man in this country with the exception, perhaps, of the Prime Minister himself. We should be thankful that the advocacy of the principle does not rest in the hands of the honorable member for Batman or the honorable member for Barrier. It was interesting to listen to the honorable member for Batman. He took us along the path until he came to the point at which he had to declare that Australia could only impose the policy of a White Australia by force of arms, and then he left us with the impression that, so far as he was concerned, no force of arms would be behind any principle. The honorable member for Barrier is in exactly the same position.
Mr.Considine. - AmI?
– The honorable member said he would not fight for the principle of a White Australia or anything; else.
– I said nothing of the sort. I said I would not fight for the capitalist interests, but for my own.
– I am not concerned about the language in which the honorable member clothes his thoughts. The fact is that no nation in the world can say that it believes in any principle as a matter of national honour, and hope to maintain it under existing conditions, unless, in the last resort, its people are prepared to fight for it. No matter how much the sentimental side of this question may appeal to each and every one of us; no matter how great may be the desire of every honorable member in this Parliament for the coming of the time when peace shall reign throughout the world, we have to face matters as we find them to-day. We shall not help the cause of peace by allowing this country to become the property of some other nation. We shall not advance the cause of peace by allowing Asiatic hordes to come here in unlimited numbers, as undoubtedly they would come if some one were not prepared to bar the way. Notwithstanding all the eloquence displayed by the honorable member for Batman this afternoon, in his satirical references to the British Navy, it still is a fact that neither he nor the honorable member for Barrier would be free to expound his views in this Parliament if it were not for the strength and power of that Navy. So far from reviling this protection as they have done, they should go on their knees and thank whatever gods they recognise that the strength of the British Navy is such as ‘to enable them, in these free institutions of ours, to express their individual opinions as they have done to-night, It is easy for honorable members to gibe at the efforts now being made to promote peace. In doing that they are not helping their cause any more than they are damaging militarism. Despite the unsettled condition of the world to-day, I still entertain the hope that out of these gatherings of representatives of the. nations there may come some amelioration of the burden which war places upon the workers of the world. Some honorable members have spoken to-night as if it did not matter to the workers of this country whether our war burdens were £1,000,000 or £200,000,000; whether we were faced with the task of providing unlimited funds for war preparations ; or whether the parliamentary Estimates for Defence could he cut down to a much smaller figure than we have yet been able to reach. I am not so hopeful as to the outcome of these Conferences as some honorable members appear to be, but whether the Washington Conference will result in a large measure of success, or whether it end in failure, it seems to me to be the duty of every man who wishes for improved relations among the nations of the world to support those who are prepared to talk about the matter around the Conference table. I believe that, whether we are able to secure any reduction of naval expenditure or not, nothing but good can come from the concentration of the world’s thought upon the problems that will be presented for consideration at the Conference, and for that reason, if for no other. I should hope that Australia will be represented there. I feel confident that the representation of the Commonwealth will do good, not only because of the registration of our views upon the question of armaments, and so on, but because of the rich opportunity that will be presented to our delegate to make familiar to the American people some of the important principles for which Australia stands. I envy Senator Pearce the mission upon which he is going, although I know he has little to expect in the way of gratitude from those whom he will best serve at that gathering, as has bean shewn by the treatment meted out to those who, on other occasions, have left Australia on similar missions. But this is a great opportunity to an Australian born in this country, and devoted to her service, to crown his administrative work during the long years of the war period. It may be said of Senator Pearce that whatever may be his shortcomings - and no man is free from them - he is the only war Minister among the Allied nations who retained his post throughout the war. No man could achieve that record in the circumstances in which Senator Pearce has worked unless he had rendered good service to his country. Se now has an opportunity of rendering yet another and greater service, namely, making the views and aspirations of this country known to the great American Republic, and in that mission I wish him every success.
.- With other honorable members, I regret the choice that has been made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes). The selection of Senator Pearce as the delegate to the Washington Conference seems to me to be in keeping with the appointment of another gentleman chosen to represent Australia in another capacity, and whose discourtesy was responsible for a grave omission to acknowledge a valuable piece of statuary presented to the Commonwealth Parliament by ‘one of the greatest artists that Australia has produced. The Prime Minister, to his honour, immediately he learned of this omission, sent a letter of thanks to Sir Bertram Mackennal. The Government propose to send one delegate to Washington, and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton’) has submitted the following amendment -
That in the opinion’ of this House the Disarmament Conference to be held at Washington is of vital importance, and that Australia should be represented thereat by a representative of the Government and of each of the other parties, and that the decisions of such Conference should be subject to ratification by this Parliament.
It is not, as the honorable member for Illawarra (Mr. Hector Lamond) has said, one delegate with two assistants that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) suggests, but three delegates, one from each party, representing Australia as a. whole. They would not sit at the Conference ; that would be absurd ; but they would be there as a Committee to whom inquiries could be made about Australia and its ideals. Some members of this House and many people outside blame America because Australia is not represented. We find from the Commonwealth Year-Book, No 13, that the population of Great Britain was, in round numbers, 42,000,000, of Canada 8,000,000, of South Africa, counting the coloured races, 6,000,000. of Australia 5,300,000, of New Zealand 1,200,000, and of the United States of America 105,000,000. If New Zealand, which has the smallest population, were given one representative, Australia would on that basis of population have five. South Africa six, Canada eight, Great Britain forty-two, and the United States 105 representatives.
– But South Africa has a white population of only 1,250,000.
– On that basis we should have 167 tongues wagging at the Conference. America has done justice iu asking the great British Empire to meet it on an equality, and I do not think we have any reason to complain. The proposed Committee of three from Australia would have no party strife or differences. The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt) spoke as a, detached member, and I cannot help saying, by way of warning, if necessary, to the Prime Minister, “ Beware of the Greeks when they carry gifts.” The honorable member for Balaclava is very nice to the Prime Minister, but his past record shows that he is out to destroy every man ahead of him. Tom Bent and John Murray had to go; Dr. Carty Salmon was. forced Into the country. Being ari exTreasurer, Mr. Watt should have been careful with his figures. He said that the Germany of to-day had double the population of Prance. As a matter’ of fact, it had not that population even before the war, and the honorable member should know that little Denmark has. taken a large portion of SchleswigHolstein, that Poland has wrenched from Germany a large portion of its population, and that Alsace-Lorraine has gone back within the frontiers of Prance. Even part of the Rhine area is not now under German control. The Kaiser wished to leave behind him a great name ; he wished to be the greatest conqueror the world has known, yet that is what he did for Germany. The Kaiser’s war robbed us, and prevented the people from enjoying the referendum, the initiative, and the recall, which were promised by honest Andrew Fisher. Rut who is the gentleman whom The Government proposes that we should send to Washington? Senator Pearce, when he wanted to arrest an unfortunate man bereft of reason, actually sent a person with German blood in him, at 11 o’clock at night, to take him back to the hospital to be tortured, as attested by the doctor in the witness box. Senator Pearce lied to me, and he lied both in the Senate and in the witness box under oath. I have said that from platforms in Western Australia. T have filed sworn declarations, and he knows that my accusation is accurate. This is the man who wanted to destroy a poor wretch who was sent for six months to the observation ward of a lunatic asylum. This is the Senator Pearce who is to be sent to America as Australia’s representative. That is my charge. Anybody who wants to read the report of the Gunner Perry case can have it. Is ally member of the Ministry willing to face an election in this city, where he is best known 1 If any honorable member dares to say that Senator Pearce is fit to represent Australia,, I am willing to resign my seat and fight him on the question. When Senator Pearce went to England, had the people any voice in the matter ? When £30,000 or £60,000 was paid away to a phantom regiment, was any man in the higher offices of the Defence Department’ punished for that robbery? Underlings may have been punished, but not the chiefs. Senator Pearce was the head of the Department, and he should have seen that the proper parties were punished. He crawled to Mr. Jensen and begged him to retire. The honorable member for Balaclava was then Leader of the House; but we were never able to complete the debate on the case. When the honorable member for Balaclava was asked the question in Launceston, he did not even then dare to say that there was anything dishonorable in the charge against Mr. Jensen; in fact, no charge was made. The honorable member for Illawarra has praised him. Then let that honorable member explain the robbery of the peo.ple’s money for the phantom regiment in New South Wales. But enough of this man who cares little for the sanctity of an oath. What a man to represent Australia ! I hurl the insult back and say that he is not. worthy. He is not a real Australian. He could not really represent th.i9 country. The suggestion made by the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) has more weight in it than, perhaps, has been given to- it. The right honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Joseph Cook) would certainly have had the confidence of this House to a greater extent than Senator Pearce. Even the Prime Minister would be far greater and wiser. He has more courage and more cunning. He has greater knowledge of the affairs of the Empire than ten men like Senator Pearce. If the Prime Minister were accompanied by a member of the Country party and a member of the Opposition, notwithstanding the unkind remarks from the honorable member for Illawarra, I feel sure that it would be a useful delegation, because the Americans, especially on the Western side, have to face difficulties much like ours.
– Why suggest sending the three of us? Are you comparing me with Christ on the Cross between two thieves ?
– I do not suppose the Prime Minister will be crucified, though he may be hanged. No word of mine shall be used by way of insult to that great race, the Japanese. I recognise what they have done, for Australia. Had they been allied to our enemies the Australians to-day would be trying to learn either German or Japanese. We cannot do better than follow the example of Japan which, under the wisdom of its great statesmen, honoured our race and our language by appealing to our greatest philospher, Herbert Spencer, for enlightenment as to how their country could avoid giving offence to European nations. Herbert Spencer in his letter to Baron Kaneko, dated 26th August, 189:2, advised Japan to keep the Americans and the British as much as possible at arm’s length, and not to open its Empire to all foreigners. Japan was advised to allow no ownership or leasehold of land by foreigners, and to permit Europeans to remain in the country only as tenants. They were not to work or own any of the mines, and on no account was the coastal shipping trade to get out of the hands of the Japanese. The letter to which I have referred is to be found on page 321 of Duncan’s Life and Letters of Herbert Spencer. In it are these passages -
Always the habit here and elsewhere among the civilized peoples is to believe what their agents or settlers abroad represent to them.
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’s length as much as possible.
We have had here lately a great lord of journalism. What did the newspaper now owned by him, the London Times, in its brutality, say when the fine spirit of Herbert Spencer had passed away? Shortly after Herbert Spencer’s death his letter was sent from Tokio for publication lu the Times of the 18th. January, 1904. The Times wrote of it as giving -
Advice as narrow, as much imbued with antipathy to real progress, as ever came from a self-sufficient, short-sighted mandarin, bred in contempt and hatred of barbarism.
I can only say that I have often wondered, when I have read of the trouble on the western side of the United States of America, that they did not go. to the Japanese with the one word of the great philosopher Confucius, the word “reciprocity,” a word to conjure with. Why cannot we say to the Japanese nation that we are grateful for the help they gave us? There is no man inside this House, or out of it, who can say that they did not “play the game” during the war. Why cannot we say to them that if any Australian is allowed to own land in their country, we will allow them to own thirteen times as much in Australia; and for every Australian who has settled in their country, we will allow thirteen Japanese to settle here ? It is not .their evil qualities, but their good qualities, that we fear. They are able to live with less comfort and on less food than we. I have just returned from a holiday in the Solomon Islands, where the wages of men are 5s. a month. Even at that wage their employers say that they are not getting value for what they are pay-
Or. Maloney. ing. Here, with our. higher civilization, what chance would this white race have to compete against them if they were allowed to come here? Japan has forbidden Chinese labourers of a certain type to enter Japan. If it is lying on the knees of the gods at the present moment that this beloved Australia of ours is to be dominated by an Eastern race, I say, as I have said before, that I hope it is China, and not Japan. The history of China is one of the most wonderful histories of the world. I have gone to those more learned than myself for information. China did not increase her wonderful frontiers by wars. She did it by holding feast, days, and by inviting clever and leading men to participate in the feast and holy days. The guests, finding that the settled government of China was better than their own, asked to be allowed to come into tire community of the Chinese race. That is the way the nation extended its borders. No nation can be braver than the Japanese race. The honorable mem: ber for ‘Herbert (Mr. Bamford) when Chairman of the Pearling Commission, will remember the evidence taken on Thursday Island. We had sworn evidence about a mart being brought up dead from the depths of the sea; his face was blue, and his head swollen. He had to be forced out of his diving helmet, and within ten minutes a Japanese had put on the same dress and had gone down in the same dangerous spot. Fear of death they have none. They worship their king as half god and half man. They have all the qualities that make a fighting race, backed up with the courage of the Spartan, and idealized with religious enthusiasm. I do not believe that any nation on the earth with the same population could conquer Japan. Therefore, I hope that they are honest in .their opinion regarding this cursed murder that men call “ War.” I have never advocated war, although three times I have tried to get into one. Behind every soldier I see the woman and the child, and it is they who suffer. What are their feelings when the husband or brother or lover comes back legless or a maimed cripple? We must do something to end this cursed thing called war. I may be too optimistic, but I glory in my optimism when I say that I have hope in this Conference. I hope that the mighty genius of America will control and put down war. If
America and the great British Empire join in working for that objective, they can achieve it. They will have the heartfelt sympathy of that brilliant nation, the French, and of all the other nations. If we are to have, another war in the future, murder will be a- mild term to apply to it. The gas that will be dropped in bombs from the air will not merely decimate cities, it will destroy every animal, human or otherwise, in them.. I appeal to the Prime Minister to adopt the suggestion of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, and to let this House elect three men to represent Australia. Each of the three will he able to return to this House, which Senator Pearce is debarred from entering, and Australia will not be ashamed of its plenipotentiaries. It would be ashamed of the one now proposed by the Government. If the Prime Minister will consult honorable members privately, they will counsel him to send some one other than Senator Pearce.
– I rise to support the amendment of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton). I think that it expresses the wishes of . every member -who has spoken. All have urged that the question should bo approached as nearly as possible in a non-party spirit. The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt) made a special appeal in this regard. It is difficult to see how the House can be considered to be approaching this matter in a non-party spirit if it elects but one delegate, who will represent only one party, although there are ‘ three parties, and will represent a Government which governs only by the support of a third party. it is useless to disguise the fact that the parties in this House represent different interests, different schools of thought, and different opinions. If we are to have anything like proper representation at Washington, if we are to hope for any achievement at the Conference of benefit to Australia, making towards the ideal to which we all aspire, we must have all the people of Australia represented, and we must have, as far as possible, the faith of the people of Australia centred in the delegation. I am not too hopeful of the outcome of the Conference. Very few of the- nations represented there will take the line of action suggested by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition on this occasion. Throughout the world there are two great conflicting interests in every nation. All nations are more or le3s interested in this great question of disarmament. But there are financial institutions with international ramifications. Their interests are centred in armaments and in war. Unfortunately, the representatives of the different Governments and the governing powers are to-day mainly the representatives of these financial interests. It has been rightly said, in this Chamber and also outside of it, that if we are to relieve humanity of the awful spectre of war, those, proposing disarmament must represent not only th8 privileged classes and vested interests, but must have the cooperation, and must represent the point of view, of the great masses of the people. If it be decided that there shall be no increase of armaments in existence to-day, and that there shall be an annual decrease in the expenditure upon armaments in the future, we should some day reach the stage when disarmament will be achieved, but the mere restriction of armaments might not be as effective to put an end to war as if the different nations of the world engaged in a frantic race to increase their armaments. In such a race the economic difficulties of the nations would become so great that the whole thing must break down. If only one delegate, the nominee of the Government, is to be sent to the Washington Conference, we may have a decision arrived at permitting each nation- to make provision for armaments to a certain extent, and this would render war more likely than if they went to the other extreme.
If we approach this matter on a higher plane than that of party politics, we may send a delegation that will, to some extent, voice the national . aspirations of the Australian people, which are against war and all preparations for war. We should include in our delegation representatives of the different schools of thought that are represented in this Parliament. The honorable member for Illawarra (Mr. Hector Lamond) says that he believes in responsible government, and that the Government should shoulder responsibility in this matter. I question whether the Government to-day command sufficient support, in this House to warrant them in taking up such an attitude. They were so undecided about this matter that they had to wait for the Prime Minister, and he had to feel the pulse of the people outside and obtain some idea of what they desired, before he had the courage to make any proposal in connexion with the representation of Australia at the Washington Disarmament Conference. Is that an evidence of responsible government? Why the delay in dealing with this matter when it has been agitating the minds of the people of every country from the day President Harding issued his invitation to the nations of the world? The proposal to hold a Conference gave a gleam of hope to suffering humanity staggering under the effects of the great war and the preparations for further wars, but the Government seemed to treat it almost with contempt until questions were asked on the subject and pres3 reports appeared. It would seem that we are drifting from responsible government and are being governed by the daily press, who wrongly claim to interpret the desires of the people of this country.
There is another aspect of this matter on which I should like to touch. We cannot disguise the fact that in the hurlyburly of political campaigns certain suspicions are aroused in the minds of those opposed to each other in politics. Amongst the supporters of different parties, rightly or wrongly, there arise suspicions of their political opponents. If the Australian delegation in Washington is to be free from that political suspicion, it will be necessary to satisfy opposing political forces outside that their views will be expressed by a direct representative of themselves. We know that suspicion extends beyond political parties, and that different nations suspect each other, and it is this suspicion that leads to the wars we are trying to prevent. The statement appeared in the press in Great Britain and was cabled here that, only a few months ago, I think in_ the House of Commons, the Prime Minister of Great Britain made a speech in which he said that no nation was responsible for the war through which we have just passed. We know what was said to the effect that it was the desire of a particular nation to dominate the world’s affairs that led to the war, and now Mr. Lloyd George tells the world that no particular nation made the war, and that Europe simply blundered into the war. I hope that we shall do nothing to begin that blundering again because of the character of the delegation we send to Washington Conference.
I have one word to say concerning the representation of Australia proposed by the Government. I cannot say anything of a personal nature about the gentleman whom the Government have selected. I have never addressed a word to him in my life. I have never formally met him, and I know him as Senator Pearce only by sight. But I should like to say that if the Washington Disarmament Conference is going to be a Conference of War Ministers - of men who have been saturated with the spirit of war since 1914 - I have little hope of good results from it. It is an absurdity that the very man who is to go to Washington to advocate disarmament as a representative of Australia should be the man who is to-day flying in the face of the views expressed by President Harding ‘that military expenditure should be curtailed or, at least, should not be increased until the Conference takes place. He is asking for increased expenditure on naval, military, and air services, showing clearly that he cannot rid his mind of the idea of further preparations for war by heaping np the expenditure on armaments. For that reason, I should like to see some other delegate selected. The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) said, in answer to the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt), that the broad lines of the action to be taken by the Australian delegate would be submitted to this Parliament. That has always been done in connexion with past conferences, but discussion at the Conference may altogether change the outlook and make it necessary that further instructions should be given. I am honestly of the opinion that, once Senator Pearce leaves Australian shores for Washington, he will be in daily, communication, by wireless and cable, with the Prime Minister, and although Senator Pearce will speak at the Conference, he will be merely the mouthpiece of the Prime Minister.
The honorable member for Illawarra (Mr. Hector Lamond) said that no doubt the White Australia policy will be discussed at the Conference, and that nobody could speak 011 that subject with better authority than Senator Pearce, because of his long advocacy of the principle. I wish I could hold the same opinion, but I am fearful of the fate of the White Australia policy in the hands of the proposed delegate because, on other occasions, men who had championed that policy in Australia were only lukewarm supporters of it at conferences abroad. For the last six years the attitude of Senator Pearce has been similar to the attitude of other members on the Ministerial side who at one time championed that policy, but to-day in serving the interests they now represent, show themselves at least lukewarm upon that great national question.
– They fought for that policy before the honorable member was heard of.
– That may be, but I hope that I shall not be found deserting my principles as quickly as they deserted theirs.
In regard to the controversy about the cablegrams, it is an unfortunate characteristic of the Prime Minister that whenever an issue of grave importance is before the House, he tries to enshroud it in a cloud of mystery. I must confess that when listening to the reading of the cable messages, I, like other honorable members, concluded that they were in answer to earlier cables. Whilst I do not question the Prime Minister’s denial on that point, I am convinced that the cables from England have been inspired by messages sent from Australia by somebody. I again urge the House to support the amendment moved by the Acting Leader of the Opposition, because I feel sure that if we appoint three delegates representing the different parties in this House, who speak for three different schools of thought, we shall not only increase the strength of the delegations and enable better work to be done at’ Washington, but we shall create amongst the people greater confidence than they can feel if the only delegate is one appointed by the Government.
.- That President Harding did not invite Australia to send a representative to the Conference at Washington is not surprising to me. Representatives of the British Empire were invited, and it would be unreasonable to suppose that had the
British Government convened that Conference they would have invited representatives of the Dependencies of the United States of America. I think President Harding has properly regarded the British Empire as one entity. But I agree with those who feel that the family attachment or expression should have representation at the Conference in the manner proposed. Although we are confident that the Government of the Mother Country would represent our interests satisfactorily to the full extent of their knowledge, there are some matters out here with which they cannot be expected to be fully acquainted. It is, therefore, necessary that there should be this attachment to the British delegation in order to acquaint it with Australia’s aspirations. There are some items in the agenda paper of the Conference which make it all the more necessary that Australia should be represented at Washington. The debates will not be confined to questions affecting disarmament, or the reduction of armaments. For example there is the matter of the “ open, door.” Doubtless the Washington Conference will be a concentrated League of Nations Conference. The United States of America did not consider it in their interest to come into that League, and, possibly, in the invitation issued by President Harding, we may find a way out of the difficulty. At any rate, many subjects likely to arise in the discussions of the members of the League of Nations, not only disarmament, but also questions relating to the removal of the causes of wai-, may be debated at Washington, as indeed the agenda paper indicates. The administration of Mandated Territories may be discussed. We in Australia who hold a large territory with such a small population, and stand for a. White Australia, yet seem anxious to exercise a Mandate over a black Polynesia, may suffer a disadvantage by not being represented at this Conference. Agencies may be at work in the absence of an Australian delegation to raise the question of our suitability to govern a dark Polynesia, or exercise a Mandate over the greater portion of the Pacific Islands. We have not shown that we have the greatest friendliness or fatherly care towards the people of those islands in our fiscal policy. Since we came into control of them, we have thought of ourselves first. The question is whether we are to exercise a fatherly care over them, or to exploit them. I cannot imagine that the good sense of Australia would wilfully take up the stand that we ought to exploit them, but certainly if we are to exercise a Mandate over these islands for their benefit, progress, and general development, we must give the matter consideration in this House. I would have preferred the debate to-day to continue on those lines, so that when our delegate is sent by the Government, whose responsibility and prerogative to make the choice I do not contest for one moment, he will be able to represent the considered opinion of this House upon the main principles we stand by, particularly those which have come under our responsibility by our acceptance of a Mandate over these Territories. Unquestionably, apart from the subject of disarmament, which we all claim we wish to see brought about, matters affecting the removal of the causes of war, and the need for disarmament will be discussed. If there are no quarrels among the nations, there will be no need for armaments.
– If there is nothing to quarrel about, there will be no need for arms.
– The honorable member is opposed to any one bearing arms or shedding blood, except himself. He is anxious to abolish all weapons except those he keeps in his own possession. It is rather regrettable that he should occupy so much time in trying to discredit the intentions of the great nations which, I believe, are earnest in their desire to devise some means of bringing about a permanent peace, and removing the need for armaments. An honorable member who cries for peace and good will among men, and yet when one commences to talk about the removal of the causes of war, and arms that kill people, questions their sincerity, is nothing but a cynic, and clearly has no faith in anything but himself. He ought to be in Russia, and not in a free and great country like this, where every adult has the franchise, nor in a House such as this, putting forward theories about taking the control out of the hands of those who are chosen to guide and govern the people, and creating a proletariat that alone will be armed in order to force their crank will upon other sections of the community. The honorable member must indeed feel blessed that he is permitted to live in a community that permits him to sit in a House, and compels others to sit and listen to talk on such lines for the length of time he has occupied to-night.
Question - That the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the question - put. The House divided.
Majority . . . . 30
Question so resolvedin theaffirmative.
Charlton). I am opposed to any delegate being sent to the Washington Conference for the reasons which I specifically set out in my amendment, and which I now find I am unable to move.
.- I move -
That the following words be added, “ and in the opinion of this House a member of the House of Representatives should be appointed to represent Australia at the Washington Conference.”
Most of the speakers -to-day have shown themselves agreed as to the importance of the proposed Conference at Washington, and. are anxious that it shall be successful in attaining the object in view. Any representative we send must be able to submit his report in this Chamber for acceptance or rejection. This, of course, Senator Pearce, if selected, could not do. Some differences of opinion have been shown as to the desirability of Senator Pearce representing this country at such a Conference, and under the circumstances I think the matter should be left to a selection by the majority of honorable members. As a matter of fact, the selection of a delegate is not a, Government matter at all, but a matter for the representatives of the people; and the desire of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) for an expression of opinion from us can only be satisfied by taking a ballot. I under- stand that the selection of Senator Pearce by the Government was made at a party meeting, and that, therefore, he represents merely the party. If it is desired that our representative shall go indorsed by the majority of honorable members here, and with the approval of the people generally, the amendment I have submitted is a very proper one, which can be carried out without any trouble. Certainly a delegate selected in such a way would ha ve stronger credentials than could be shown by any mere nominee of the Government, who, though, of course, responsible, would be responsible only to a certain extent. The Prime Minister when at the Imperial Conference was responsible to Parliament, but who had any control over him during his absence? As a matter of fact, the right honorable gentleman appointed himself, through his Cabinet, as the representative of Australia at the Imperial Conference. However that may be, I cannot see how Senator Pearce can really represent the feeling of this House in favour of disarmament and the cutting down of defence expenditure. If Senator Pearce speaks. as our representative at Washington, some one who is familiar with the domestic affairs of the Commonwealth may point out that he is the Minister for Defence who has submitted to this Parliament defence estimates amounting to £1,000,000 more than was the case last year, and question the honorable gentleman’s sincerity in the matter of disarmament. o
– We are voting exactly the same amount as was voted last year.
– The Estimates this year are over £1,000,000 more than was expended last year.
– Are you aware that the United States Government, who issued the invitation to the Conference, is spending about six times what it spent on defence in 1914?
– That is no justification for our large expenditure.
– Cannot you see that it is due to the altered spending power of money ?
– That is all right, but the best way for us to show our sincerity is by setting the example of cutting down the Estimates. I cannot understand why the Government should have left this matter of our representation at the Washington Conference until (the Very .last moment. What were the Government doing while the Prime Minister was absent from the Commonwealth ? Why did the Government do nothing until the right honorable gentleman came back? If the Government had been really in earnest about peace and disarmament, all parties in this House would have been represented at the Conference, but they entirely failed to recognise more than one party, and that party their own. The Labour party here represents nearly half the people of the Commonwealth, and has never been defeated except by a few votes. Senator Gardiner was second on the Senate poll in New South Wales, and therefore represents a large number of electors; but, notwithstanding these facts, the Government deny this party any representation on the present occasion. Under the circumstances I submit that my amendment ought to be approved.
– Let me ask you a question. When Senator Pearce, Mr. Fisher, and the late Mr. Bachelor went Home in 1911, why did not the Labour . Government send the present Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) and others of that gentleman’s party with them?
– Because the present Treasurer and the others had not the courage to ask to go. We have confidence in the a’bility of our representatives; but the men to whom the Prime Minister referred, probably were not in that position. The mem!bers of the Labour party and of the Country party ask the Nationalists to take a broad view on this important problem. There are members on this side of the Chamber whose names could be submitted, and whose selection could be decided by ballot. I have recently received a communication from a Labour organization to the effect that a conference is to be called to consider the advisableness of sending a direct representative of Labour.
– Does the honorable member think that conflicting Australian views should be presented at Washington?
– I did not suggest that. We should unite in selecting one man.
– The honorable member was suggesting representatives of the different parties in this House.
– No. My proposal is that the House should select one man. There is a number of honorable members in this Chamber who possess the necessary, qualifications to adequately represent Australia, and there is no need for a selection to be made from the Senate, which is regarded as the inferior Chamber. This is the popular House, and the one which controls expenditure.
– Would the honorable member .support the appointment of the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) ?
– That honorable member has had a university education, and has forsaken a profession to assist in representing the people of South Australia m this Parliament. ‘If he were selected fie could do the work as well as any other man. I submit my amendment with the utmost confidence, and trust that it will have the support of honorable members.
– I rise to second the amendment moved by the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Riley), not because the honorable member, for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Austin Chapman) specially mentioned my name. No doubt that honorable member thinks that my diligence” in endeavouring to keep, honorable members of this House together when public business is being discussed might he equally successful elsewhere; and if it were it would, not be to Australia’s disadvantage. I second the amendment for . three reasons : First, because we could make a better selection; second, because, if the amendment were carried, it would be a decision of the whole of the representatives in the popular Chamber ‘ instead of a caucus decision as this is; and third, because it would be the ‘best way of giving effect to the suggestions submitted by the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt), the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best), and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition “(Mr. Charlton), that the matter should not be made a party one.- That is, I hope, what the.. Government really .desire… and unless we can rise above party there will not be much likelihood of useful work, being done.
– I have not spoken previously because I am not satisfied that the proposals submitted by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) or those of the Government are practicable. The selected delegate to the Washington Conference will be highly honoured, because the questions to be discussed are of the greatest importance. I am afraid, however, that no good will be achieved as a result of its deliberations. Honorable members who have studied American history, or who have any knowledge of the American people, know that they are exceedingly proudand very ‘determined, and their leaders are not likely to permit the representatives of any other nations to influence American policy in matters of defence. If there is one question more than an-‘ other that should be discussed at the present juncture, it is. that of the disarmament of the nations, in order to prevent possible further bloodshed. Such vital” questions should be referred to the true representatives of the people, and not tothose who express the views of only one section of the community. I have nothing to say against the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce), but I do not. think .that he is capable of expressing the opinions held by a majority of the people on the question, of disarmament. The amendment moved ‘by the honorablemember for South Sydney (Mr. Riley) has much to commend it, because it provides that the delegate shall be selected by the representatives of the whole of the people. The- legislative enactments of this Parliament since the advent of Labour in 1902 show that the representatives of the masses have done much to improve the conditions of the people. Every globe-trotter who has visited Australiahas been impressed with the fact that the Parliament of this country and all its institutions make for the attainment of the highest form, of civilization. It is impossible to say what will be the outcome of the Washington Conference.. With all due respect to the opinion of the Prime Minister (Mr.- Hughes)., I am satisfied that the” Conference will “be called upon to deal with most momentous questions concerning the » Pacific. We may be sure that the representatives of the other nations of the world interested in these problems will do all they possibly can to conserve their particular interests, and if we have only one representative there is a possibility that, as the result of pressure being brought to bear on him, he may be unintentionally drawn into the advocacy of some proposal detrimental to the best interests of the Commonwealth. We hardly know the nature of the many Pacific problems that may confront our delegate. Not many honorable members know the area of the land in the islands that have come to us under the Mandate. We have no conception of the wealth, potential and otherwise, of” the Pacific Islands; but we all know- that land is the most fruitful cause of trouble among the nations of the world. Therefore, we ought not to be called upon to deal with the question of our representation at the Washington Conference in this hurried manner. Honorable members ought to have had greater opportunities to discuss the position. We have known for more than two months that the Conference was to be held. The press on the other side of the world have representatives in this country who have made it their business to’ keep their principals informed as to the views of public men in Australia upon this great question. I have been approached myself, and asked for my opinion. Other honorable members, no doubt, have been similarly honoured, and have stated their views. Perhaps we owe it to the agitation in the press that we are to have a representative at the Conference. The honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine), who has given us a conglomeration of historical facts tonight, does not think there will be any practical result from the gathering. But the Conference’ is to be held, and we cannot afford to ignore it because of its supreme importance to Australia. We recognise, of course, that under our Con- .stitution the Government have the executive power, and have absolute control in this matter; but I appeal to the Prime Minister to give favorable’ consideration to the amendment that has been submitted by the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Riley), whose statesmanship in this matter is to be commended. I feel sure that, had the Prime Minister him- self not left the Labour party, there would not have been a stronger advocate for this amendment, and I am. sure the House would not have adjourned till to-morrow morning if he could not have got his own way. I have some idea of his many characteristics, and it is unfortunate for Australia that he is associated with the party in power. Our representation at the Conference should’ be treated as a serious matter, because the destiny of Australia and of the Pacific is at stake. Australia should send true representatives of the House which controls the finances of the country. We should not be represented by a gentleman from another place, which is essentially a States’ House, and the members of which do not wish us to interfere with their special prerogative. This is our prerogative, and we should exercise it. It is possible for us to send’ a representative whose appointment would be indorsed by the country at large. The gentleman selected by the Government, as the Australian representative does not command the confidence of the people of Australia. The decisions of the Conference may materially affect Australia’s financial position. Proposals may be. brought forward involving the Commonwealth in large expenditure, and, although the Prime Minister may assure us that Parliament must have the final! determination of any such question,, our representative, having the traditional pride of country of the Australian, might commit us to expenditure of which we would not approve rather than, break away from a principle. I am satisfied that the question of trade and commerce will be discussed there, but the honorable senator who it is proposed shall be our representative is a foreign trader. His fiscal views are well known. He has never’ shown any desire in the matter of trade to make Australia a self-contained nation. The United States of America will no doubt propose an open door in the Pacific, and that may very seriously affect us in the stand we have taken against the entrance into Australia of the coloured races. Most of the representatives at the Conference will be very much opposed to the White Australia policy. The American delegates will certainly need education as; to why we are so strongly in favour of that policy. Our position could be better made known by three delegates than by one. We know what ignorance there is, even in Great Britain, on Australian matters. I am trying to impress upon members the necessity for appointing some one who will meet with the approval of the people of the country. After all, honorable members have got to do something to secure their return to Parliament, and I am acting as their friend. I am quite satisfied that the adoption of the proposal of the Government will favour the party on this side of the House at the next election. Some honorable members are not in the same happy position that I am in.
.- As the hour is late, and as there is no possibility of closing the debate at this sitting, unless we sit all night, I suggest that the Government should agree to an adjournment.
– Af ter the discourteous answer I got just now from the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), we will sit all night. I will bring up every speaker I can on this side of the House. In his absence I never got such treatment from the right honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Joseph Cook). If the honorable member will move the adjournment we will have a division on the motion. It is about time the Prime Minister was taught his place.
– Although I was not prepared to speak on this question tonightit is a big question, requiring much consideration - I do not propose to let the matter go in silence. Had the amendment been to limit the choice to this House, and to take the responsibility for the choice out of the hands of the Government, we could easily have come to a decision. I am convinced that the majority of the members of this House are against any interference with the responsibility of the Administration to deal with questions of this sort. As to whether a representative should be chosen from this House or the other, I think there will be a wide division of opinion, but, as it is in this House that the Administration lives or dies, and as this House has control of the Government of the country, it is from it that a man should go to represent us on such broad and far-reaching problems as will be dealt with at this Conference. . That is my view, and I think it is the view of the majority. We have not had time to go into this question fully. It is so wide in its ramifications that one needs some hours to look into it. On the broad issue of our representation at Washington, this at least can be said, that, seeing we have to meet the best brains of the world, in the country which, above all others, prides itself on its way of doing business, and as there will be present the hardest-headed representatives of the countries so deeply interested in the Pacific, it is essential that Australia should send the most capable man it can. This House is, I believe, in a position to furnish a man who will be able to meet the situation. Without saying anything derogatory of the delegate already suggested, it seems to me that he is not the right person to send, because whatever may be said for or against him, no one will accuse him of being overloaded with driving power. No one will contend for one moment that he is a man of strong force of character, able to impress his views on those who hold contrary opinions. The man we send to America must be capable of expressing his views in the strongest possible form. There is no mincing of words over there. To send a representative to America is quite a different matter from sending one to the Old Country. In Europe a man may win through by smoothness of manner and suavity of address, but in America he has to do it by force. We should have a delegate with sufficient force of character to impress upon those gathered at the great Conference the opinions, wishes, and aspirations of this young country of ours. I am not one of those who think that such tremendous consequences depend on this Conference. I believe’ that the greatest questions confronting the world have already been settled. I think this Conference will not have so much power and force as the League of Nations, but it would be a very bad policy on our part to send to it a man who had not sufficient strength of character and suavity of address to make himself felt. There is’ no country in the world where a man requires more force, and where there is more contempt for what may be considered weakness, than in America. Senator Pearce, with all the attributes he may possess, is not the type of man to send to a country such as that, and the Prime Minister, I think, knows it as well as anybody else. He knows, as well as we know, that Senator Pearce, like some other Ministers, has been moulded by the Prime Minister to bis own will. He knows, as we know, that what Australia needs at a Conference such as this is a man who is prepared to state his own views, whether they are those of the Prime Minister or not, and who goes there prepared to meet situations as they may arise, to grasp them firmly, and to deal with them in a strong manner. It seems to me that when the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, or any one else, moves to secure the dignity of this House and to maintain the position of this House as the place where Governments are made and unmade, then every member of the House should do his utmost to support him. If this were only a minor matter, if our representative was being sent to a country that did not count for much and had little influence on our future, then we might sit down and take it quietly. When we know that the future of this country is bound up with that of America; when we know that, whether we like it or not, it will require Britain and America united to settle the question of the Pacific to the satisfaction and safety of Australia, then we must select the best type of man we can possibly send, and that man should come unquestionably from this House.
.- It was not my intention to take any further part in the debate, but, owing to the discourteous treatment I have received at the hands of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), I have made up my mind that the matter shall be debated, and at length. In accordance with a practice frequently followed in this House by the leader on this side, and which was followed without exception being taken, when the Prime Minister was absent and the Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) was acting in his place, I drew attention in a short note to the fact that there appeared tobe three speakers in the corner who desired to address the House, and asked, in the circumstances, “ What about an adjournment?” I will give honorable members the answer I received in the words, used by the Prime Minister. He said, “ Who said that?” He was told it was I who had said it, and he then said, “What the hell has he to do with it? Mind your own business. “
– I did not hear the Prime Minister say that, at all.
– I heard him say it, and I took his words down. I never before received such treatment at the hands of any man in public life; I did what I did with a view to assist the Prime Minister in the conduct of the business of the House.
– You have done nothing but “ stone-wall “ for the last hour.
– As the session goes onthe right honorable gentleman will, no doubt, be glad to negotiate with me in the position which I occupy at the present time. I have always tried tobe fair in these matters.
– I know what the honorable gentleman is doing, all right.
– I suppose that, because I exercised my right-
– The honorable member’s right is not to speak for the Corner. His right is to speak for himself.
– I never spoke for the Corner.
– Yes, you did.
– I referred in my note to the fact that members in the Corner apparently desired to speak. How was it wrong to suggest an adjournment in the circumstances ? I did it in a courteous way.
– The honorable gentleman did not speak to me at all. He sent a note to some one else. Does he call that courtesy?
– I did not give the note to the right honorable gentleman. I threw it over the table, and the Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) picked it up.
– The honorable gentleman threw it over the table. Is that the way to act?
– That is only an excuse on the part of the right honorable gentleman to get out of his difficulty. I want to say in regard to this matter that the amendment moved by the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Riley) is one that should receive fair consideration at the hands of this House. More than one speaker has advocated during the debate that our delegate should be a member of this Chamber, and also that this should not be regarded as a party question.
– Nor should it be a House question either. This is a question in which the Senate’ has at least as much right to be considered as this House.
– I differ from the right honorable gentleman on that point. I say not only that our delegate should be a member of this House, but, further, that the Minister for Defence should be a member of this House, and responsible to it..
– That is quite another matter.
– The Government propose to send to the Washington Conference, a. gentleman who, because of the office he holds, should be a member of this Chamber, and who, because he is not a member of it, cannot report to this Chamber. No one but the Prime Minister would accuse me of ‘ ‘ stone- walling.”
– The honorable member put up a “ stone-wall “ on me.
– That was not in connexion with this matter. What I have been contending for is that there should be representation at the Washington Conference of the different parties in this House. I said that in my view in order to bring about disarmament so far as possible the Conference should be composed of representatives of more than one party from the Parliaments of the different countries of the world. I hold the view very strongly, that if the Conference is to be a success different parties in different Parliaments must be represented there. I do not agree with those who have contended that to send a representative of each party would merely disclose our differences of opinion. I venture to say that the men sent on this mission would recognise that it is not a party question, and that it was their duty to do all they possibly could, not only in the interest of the country they represented, but in the interest of civilization. Any man who on a mission of this kind would permit party considerations to affect his action would be unfitted for such a position.
– Order! I cannot allow the honorahle member to discuss that phase of the question now. He should confine himself strictly to the terms of the present amendment proposing the appointment of a representative from this House.
– I was endeavouring to show that no one would go from this House with a view to introduce party feeling into the consideration of questions discussed at the Conference. He would go there to deal with all questions in the way he thought best in the interest of his country and of the world.
– Why should not a member of the Senate do that?
– I stated this afternoon that I think our representative should be a member of this Chamber, who could report to it. The right honorable gentleman knows that the Minister for Defence could not report to this Chamber.
– I do not see why he should not. I assume that we could enable that to be done. I believe that the Senate has passed a law under which it is possible for a member of this House to address that Chamber.
– I know of nocase in which a senator has addressed this House.
– I do not see why a senator should not do so. I think it might be a great gain if that were made possible.
– Senator E. D. Millen, who represented Australia at a Conference, addressed members of this House.
– He did not address the House, but he did address honorable members upstairs, which is a very different matter.
– Speaking offhand, I re- call nothing in the Constitution which would preclude our passing a law to enable a Minister who was a member of the Senate to came here and address honorable members, and vice versa.
– I do not know of anything in the Constitution to prevent it, but in my view we should be represented at Washington by a member of this Chamber. That view has been supported by members of the Ministerial party, and also by members of the Country party. The amendment was moved with a view to test the matter, because I desired, as the Treasurer knows, to get this business out of the way in order that we might go home.Unfortunately, things have taken such a turn now that I must assert myself, and I take it that my comrades will support me. I made a fair proposition, and I say now that if the Prime Minister wishes to do what is right he will agree to an adjournment.
– My objection, quite properly, waa that the honorable mem- . ber had no business to speak for any but hid own party. I am willing to accept the honorable member as the spokesman of his own party.
– Evidently the right honorable gentleman is under a misapprehension. I spoke for no party. I merely sent across a note drawing attention to the fact that a number of honorable members desired to speak, and suggesting an adjournment of the debate. I did not say that it should be adjourned. I did merely what has frequently been done before.” The late Mr. Ryan, as Deputy Leader of the Opposition, did it regularly, and so did I, as Acting Leader.
– I never remember Mr. Ryan or the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) suggesting anything about the Corner.
– The whole trouble is due to a misunderstanding.
– If the Treasurer, instead of the Prime Minister, had been in charge of the House, there would have been no misunderstanding.
– The honorable member is a very stubborn man.
– If the honorable member will’ tell me how many of his party wish to speak, I -will give him an answer.
– There will not be’ more than one honorable member to speak on our side to-morrow if the debate is adjourned now.
– The honorable member cannot say that. I will not give up my right to speak ,
– There are two on this side who have not spoken.
– There will not be more than two other speakers from this side on the question we have been debating to-day.
– You are not going to move amendment after amendment on this one question?
– No ; we do not intend to move any further amendments.
– Very well; I agree to the adjournment.
– I ask leave to continue my remarks to-morrow.
Leave granted ; debate adjourned.
House adjourned at.11.42 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 6 October 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1921/19211006_reps_8_97/>.