8th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Elliot Johnson) took the chair at 11 a.m., and real prayers.
– - (By leave.) - I move -
That, unless otherwise ordered, this House shall meet for the despatch of business at 3 o’clock on each Wednesday afternoon, at half-past 2 o’clock on each Thursday afternoon, and at 11 o’clock on each Friday morning.
If that motion is not acceptable to the House, I shall be prepared to more instead, “ That - the House, at its rising, adjourn until 3 o’clock on “Wednesday next.” I suggest to honorable members that, without pr .judice, we try the meeting on Wednesday in each week for a month. We shall see what the state of business is then; and, if it is shown to be necessary, we can then decide to meet on the Tuesday,’ or even, earlier in the week. For the present, I think I shall meet the wishes of honorable members by arranging for meeting on Wednesday.
.- I am opposed to reducing the number of days of meeting in each week. In no period of the life of this Parliament has there been so much work to be done of grave importance to the community. Honorable members have only to inspect the business-paper to see that that statement is borne out. The delay in the settlement of the Tariff is holding up the business people of Australia. Some of the requests for its amendment submitted from another place, which it was never intended should make ducks and drakes of a Tariff, are of a very debatable character. Huge expenditures of public money are proposed, and require careful consideration. It would be better in the interests of honorable members to transact the business between now and Christmas than to. have to meet in the hotter portion of the year - from Christmas time until March.
.- I think that the motion submitted by the Prime Minister is a reasonable one, and I hope it will be agreed to. It will be quite sufficient for us to meet three days in each week. If, as the right honorable gentleman has said, we find in a month’s time that it will be impossible for us to complete our work within a reasonable period unless we meet oftener, we can then consider the advisability of having an extra sitting day.
.- I offer no objection to the motion, but I should like to reiterate remarks which I have made on previous occasions when I have urged that, in the interests of honorable members coming from fardistant States, some special effort should be made to get through the business of this Parliament more rapidly than has been done in the past. It is very raTely that it is possible for me to get across to the State from which I come, and more rarely still to spend more than a week there. Another matter of great importance is, that when Parliament is continuously sitting it is quite impossible for Ministers to keep in touch with their Departments as they require to do. I hope that in future some change will be made to prevent such continuous sittings of Parliament as we have had in the past
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Alleged Appointment of Sir Joseph Cook
Mr.RILEY . - I ask the Prime Minister whether there is any truth in the report which appears in this morning’s newspapers to the effect that the Government have at last made up their mind to appoint the Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) to the position of High Commissioner of Australia in London? If so, when will the right honorable gentleman be leaving Australia?
– I was saying to a representative of the press, as I came in in a motor car this morning, that since I left England, and since I came to Australia, I have not seen one daily newspaper. I am, therefore, unable to answer the honorable member’s question. I must ask him to wait.
State Inquiry into Cases of Fraud.
– I ask the Treasurer whether his attention has been officially drawn to a position created inWestern Australia this week in connexion with an inquiry by a Select Committee of the “Western Australian Parliament into alleged scandals regarding the cashing of gratuity bonds? Is the right honorable gentleman aware that the chief officer of the Department inWestern Australia has refused to give evidence before the Select Committee referred to? If so, will he make it possible for that officer to give evidence, or permit some measures to be taken in this Chamber, that will bring to light anything that may be wrong regarding the whole question of war gratuities?
– It is quite true that a demand has been made by the State Government ofWestern Australia’ upon a Federal officer to give evidence and produce documents. I hope the honorable member will see that no State authority may take charge of our officers in that way, any more than we may take charge of State officers in any waywe choose. There is a proper way in which to deal with matters of this kind.. So far as the Federal Government are concerned, I should like to say that we have nothing whatever in view but the fullest possible investigation of every case of fraud that may have been perpetrated. “We have been fighting the persons responsible for these things right along iu the interests of the soldier, and to protect his bond. Ever since we began to issue gratuity bonds, our trouble has been to prevent them getting into the hands of men who take advantage of the soldier. We have done our best in the matter. It may be that in some cases we have failed, but it has not been through any lack of intention to. protect the interests of the soldier. I hope that within a day or two we shall be able to clear up the matter to which the honorable member has referred, but we cannot do it at the demand of a State authority. It must be done of our own free will.
– But, surely, if a reasonable request is made by a State the Federal Government will consider it?
– Precisely ; and the Federal Government are considering it in this instance; but on top of all that comes a demand from the Premier of the State that this officer be ordered to produce certain ‘ documents. May I suggest that that is the way not to do what is required. However, I assure the. House that the Government are only too anxious to assist in any inquiry into cases of fraud in connexion with these matters.
– Having in view ,the impetus which is about to be given to immigration, can the Minister for Works and Railways inform the House and the country as to what area of land will be available yearly under the Murray River Waters irrigation scheme in the respective States affected for purposes of closer settlement ?
– It is very difficult to answer in detail such a question on the spur of the moment. When the engineers met prior to the making pf this agreement many years ago, they estimated what would be the quantity of water available under this scheme, and they were then dependent upon the State Departments to supply information as to the irrigable acreage available. The information showed that the’ area of land available would be very much in excess of the water that could be provided under the agreement itself; but since those figures were received the estimates of the area of land suitable for irrigation have been revised considerably, and I have not yet received definite figures from the States. I promise to communicate with the State authorities in order to obtain from them precise information on this point. The honorable member will realize that the Commission has no control over the irrigation areas or settlers. Its functions relate simply to the execution of the works under the agreement, which are to provide the water for irrigation and navigation. I have certain figures as to the area of the irrigable land, but I do not care to give them, because they cannot be regarded as final. I will, however, obtain the information which the honorable member seeks.
– The Prime Minister stated, last week that he would make a statement to the House in reference to shipbuilding. Oan he inform the House when that statement may be expected. ?
– It will be impossible for me to make that statement until other important matters now before the Chamber are cleared up. I intend to visit Sydney next week, and it would be useless for me to promise to make a statement next week, because- 1 must be here to hear the discussion. I hope, however, to make a statement early in the week after next, so that the subject may be discussed in connexion with the Estimates.
– Has the Assistant Minister for Repatriation read press reports to the effect that the Queensland Treasurer and Minister of Lands have been endeavouring, without avail, ever since 20th July last, to obtain a reimbursement from the Government on certificates of expenditure in connexion with soldier settlement in that State? The arrears are said to amount to over £300,000. Is that statement accurate, and, if so, will the Minister take steps to see that redress is granted at once ?
– -The honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Cameron), brought that matter , under my notice this morning. I have not been dealing with the land settlement of soldiers since 30th June last, up to which date every certified claim had been recouped. However, at tha instance of the honorable member for Brisbane, I have obtained the following information from the Repatriation Department : -
Queensland undertook to settle 2,826 men for £2,831,914. Up to date it has settled 2,145 soldiers, and has received £2,079,451.
That is in excess of the recoupments agreed upon pear soldier settler. Therefore the statement which- the honorable member for Wide Bay has quoted is not correct. On the other hand, some questions are in dispute between the Commonwealth Government and the Queensland Government. For instance, the State authorities ask us to accept financial responsibility for soldiers settled in that State prior to the agreement made with us. And there is also a dispute on the subject of prickly-pear land. However, to date the Queensland Government has had per soldier more than the amount agreed upon.
– Can the Prime Minister inform the House when the Convention Bill will be introduced ? This is a matter of great importance to honorable members and the people. It is understood that the measure will be passed towards the end of this year, and that the Convention will be elected early in 1922. The people are anxious to know upon what terms the Convention is to be elected. Will the right honorable gentleman introduce the Bill at the earliest possible date 1
– I certainly will. In making arrangements for my visit to, England, and in fixing the date of ‘my return, I had in view all the points which the honorable member has mentioned; and in my view it would be impossible to get the Bill through this Parliament unless it were introduced at a time approximating to the date fixed fer my return. The policy of the Government has all along been shaped towards that end which the honorable member declares to be the desire of the people; but two problems of importance cannot occupy the attention of the House and the public at the same time. We have been discussing matters of very great importance this week. Next week we shall probably be discussing matters of equally great importance. We have no idea at present what they may be, but no doubt that is what we shall be doing. And then in the week after we shall be dealing with a subject to which my attention has already been drawn. Shipbuilding, the Estimates, and the Budget debate are questions ahead of us for discussion ; and we are only human beings. However, Ministers are quite ready, and it only remains to clear away all these other matters of vital importance, and which cannot be ignored, in order to enable the necessary Bill to be introduced.
– Could no,t the right honorable gentleman introduce it, and thus make the people acquainted with its provisions ?
– That could be done, but my experience of adopting that course has been such that it does not commend itself to me. Unless a measure thrown - on the table is accompanied not only by explanation, but also- by action which brings it before the House, and compels its discussion by honorable members, it has very little chance at all. If we introduce this Bill we must go on with it. Of course, the Government have their own ideas about it, but as the measure is one that can hardly be said to be a party matter in the ordinary sense of the term, the House can express an opinion upon it quite freely, and make of it ultimately what it pleases. Ministers certainly cannot regard it as something to which they are committed, beyond the fact that they are responsible for its introduction and passage through the House.
– Some time ago, the Assistant Minister for Repatriation announced that the Government were considering the question of appointing a Director-General of War Service Homes. I would like to know whether anything has been” done in the matter.
– When I announced the change of policy in connexion with relinquishing the building of War Service Homes and taking on the business of designing, supervising, and financing homes, I stated that a Director-General would be appointed; but an amendment of the Act is necessary to enable that to be done. The measure has been drafted, and as soon as I can get it before the House and passed, I hope to make the appointment to which the honorable member refers.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to the report in this morning’s press that Vestey Brothers’ meat works at Darwin have closed indefinitely? If such is the case, will the ‘ right honorable gentleman endeavour to facilitate their re-opening?
– I have not seen the report to which the honorable member refers ; but I know the important part the meat works at Darwin play in the development and in the lives of the people of that portion of Australia. However, I cannot see any means by which they can be reopened. Like other firms, Vestey Brothers carry on their business on a commerical basis, which postulates that if 20s. is put into a business the return should be at least 20s. It is suggested that Vestey Brothers should not look for a return of more than 15s., 10s., or 9s. for every £1 they spend. Naturally; under such circumstances, they might be expected to close their works.
– When a vocational trainee has finished his period of training, will the Government grant him a sum of money to enable him to purchase tools, so that he may establish himself in the occupation he has learned?
– Speaking subject to verification by Senator Millen, who has control of that part of repatriation work, the answer to the honorable member’s question is that an applicant for assistance may apply for an advance for tools of* trade straightway, and obtain that assistance subject to approval, or he may seek permission to attend a course of vocational training, but he is not entitled to the dual assistance.
– Seeing that it is about two years since the war gratuity bonds were made available, and that a big staff of officers is still engaged in attempting to finalize the applications, I would like to ask the Treasurer whether he can state definitely when their operations will cease?
– I understand that the Boards have practically ceased; but the trouble is that applications are still trickling in. It is amazing that after twelve months thousands of applications should not have been made, but such is the position. We are now proposing to gather that business into the Treasury, where we think we can manage very well what still remains to be done. My own impression is that the Boards have already been abandoned.
– Not in two States.
– At any rate, it is to bo done in all States at the earliest possible moment.
– Is it not a fact that provision exists to the effect that the consent of the Treasury must be obtained before war gratuity bonds can be cashed, either by private firms or” individuals ? If there is widespread fraud, is that not evidence of laxity on the part of the Treasury in failing to safeguard the interests of returned soldiers in respect of the payment of cash for their bonds?
– I must ask the honorable member to exercise his own judgment upon the point. It may or may not be as he states. All I know is that for the past twelve months I have been almost pestered, by honorable members opposite in particular, to permit a more general cashing of bonds, and, generally, to provide greater facilities in that direction. The purpose of the Government has been to protect returned men to the fullest possible extent, and we have done so; but many have disposed of their bonds before there has been any opportunity for inquiry at all.
– I have received the following telegram from Darwin: -
In connexion with recent imprisonment 20 Darwin residents non-payment income tax, respectfully recommend inquiry method selection view large number defaulters, widespread belief choice victims largely resultant local administrative vindictiveness than official zeal. Also reason delay prosecuting and information tabled House.
Has the Minister for Home and Territories heard about this matter, and will he make inquiries into it, and state whether it is his intention to discriminate in his treatment of the various sections of the community at Darwin?
– If there is any vindictiveness it comes from the opposite source. As a matter of fact, there has been no particular selection of persons for prosecution. One reason why some have not been prosecuted is that they have paid their taxes.
– If a returned soldier takes over a property built by the
War Service Homes Department, at what period thereafter has he the right to sell, and to whom may he dispose of the house if he desires to remove from the locality ?
– The provision in the Act is to the effect that a soldier may not sell until after five years, and then only to an eligible person. However, if there are any special circumstances, such, for example, as removal from the State or the country, or involving death or anything of that nature, permission may always be secured wherever the case is genuine.
“DIFFERENCE OF EXCHANGE DUMPING.”
– On the 7.th June last I asked the Minister for Trade and Customs certain questions having to do with a measure to deal with dumping, and, specifically, with what might be classed as “ difference of exchange dumping.” I asked, further, if the Minister would obtain information from other countries which had introduced legislation to deal with the matter. Has the Minister obtained any additional particulars?
– When I introduced the resolution dealing with dumping, and with the foreign exchange question, I had a memorandum prepared and printed which set forth in detail particulars of the legislation of other countries - such as were available. This class of legislation has been put into effect by Great Britain, and also by Canada. I am npt quite sure whether my memorandum covered the details of the Canadian legislation; but, in the course of my remarks upon the occasion in question, I gave to the House the whole of the information available. Meanwhile I have noticed that Belgium proposes to introduce legislation to effect similar ends. I have not yet obtained a* copy of that measure, and I doubt if one is available.
– Has the Minister for Home and Territories any further information concerning the redistribution of seats, and can he say what States are holding up the Redistribution Commissions? The law has not been complied with, although the necessary statistics are available. “
– I think that the States which are causing the delay are New South Wales and Victoria. I made inquiries only this morning._ The particulars desired may come to hand during the day.
Kidman and Mayoh Contract
– I desire to know from the Minister for Home and Territories, following up a question which I have asked twice previously, whether he can furnish any definite information, or can say when he will be prepared to make a statement respecting the recommendation of the Public Works Committee upon the Kidman and Mayoh shipbuilding contract. I would remind him that a large sum of money is involved which should have been paid into the Treasury long ago.
– I regret that I am not in a position to make a definite statement. These matters are generally taken in hand by the Crown Law authorities.
– The Minister told me that four months ago.
– That is not correct. The subject has been in the hands of the Crown Law authorities, who are still dealing with it. I shall make inquiries; but I suggest that if the honorable member had placed his question upon the notice-paper some time ago, I would have been able to secure the’ required information before now. I hope to be able to do so next week.
The following papers were presented : -
High Court Procedure Act - Rule of Court - dated 26th September, 1921.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired under, at Laverton, Victoria - For Defence purposes.
Public Service Act - Appointment of W. Gait, Attorney-General’s Department.
Prospecting for Oil: Mining Leases
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows : - 1 to 5. Yes. With a view to the discovery and development of new sources of mineral oil within the Empire, an agreement was entered into between the Government of Great Britain and the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia for oil development in Papua. It was agreed that both Governments should share the expenses of investigations by the AngloPersian Oil Company (which has acted in various instances as agent for the British Government, and has specialized in the development of oil-fields within the Empire), the liability of either Government being expressly limited to £50,000, and the mineral oil, if discovered in commercial quantities, to be worked in such manner as was mutually agreed upon for the joint benefit of both Governments, the proceeds being divided equally between them. As indications seemed more promising in New Guinea territory than in Papua, the Commonwealth Government approved of the company’s geological staff proceeding with the examination of the oil country in the former territory, and negotiations have for some time been carried on with the British Government, with a view to its sanctioning the extension of the original agreement to cover the operations’ now being carried out in ex-German New Guinea.. No reports have yet been received as to the result of the investigations to date.
Mr. STORY (for Mr. Burchell) asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– Not yet; but a Mining Ordinance to provide for the issue of leases is now in preparation.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Appointment of Agent
asked the Minister in charge of Shipbuilding, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: - 1.Yes.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Wlhether it is a fact that the Government sent a Mr.Randell on a visit to America to investigate the possibilities of dehydration in the interests of the fruit-growing industry?
asked the Minister in charge of Shipbuilding, upon notice -
– An arrangement was made with the Island Transport Company to run the ferry steamer Biloela between Cockatoo Island and the mainlaind ito convey the employees to and from work, the company to pay hire money at the rate of £15 per week for the steamer; but, as practically the whole of the employees preferred to travel by the motor launches, and did not patronize the Biloela, this arrangement was discontinued.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether the Government have made any inquiries in reference to a scheme of insurance in order to make provision by legislation for old age, unemployment, and sickness?
– This matter has received the attention of the Government; but it has not been possible, up to the present, to submit a definite scheme on the lines suggested.
Restrictions on Shipping.
asked the Minister for
Health, upon notice-
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Debate resumed from 6th October (vide page 11772), on motion by Mr. Hughes -
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.
Upon which Mr. Riley had moved by way of amendment -
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.”
.- I find myself unable to support the amendment proposed by the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Riley) that a member of the House of Representatives be appointed to represent Australia. I am not in favour of doing anything that will cause dissension between the Senate and the House of Representatives. There may come a time when the honorable member may succeed in abolishing that Senate, but of that I am not in favour.
– You were at one time a member of the Senate?
– I was, and I have great respect for the Senate as an institution. It is part of the Constitution ; and while that is so, every member of the Senate, in my opinion, is entitled to aspire to any office available under the Constitution. I make no qualification of that statement, although I can see that it would be unworkable, for example, to have the position of Prime Minister or that of Treasurer held by a member of the Senate.
I am sure that the majority of us cordially appreciate the action of the Imperial Government in inviting Australasia to send a delegate to the Washington Disarmament Conference. “ Disarmament,” by the way, is not a very appropriate term; because, while disarmament may mean a reduction or limitation of armaments, it may also mean depriving a nation of arms altogether, and thus rendering it defenceless.
I approve of the selection, of Senator Pearce by the Government. To those honorable members who are finding fault with that gentleman, I point out that there is one criterion or test by which they may judge of his fitness. That criterion is the fact that for many years he has held office as Minister for Defence. If half what is said against him by some uninformed critics outside were true, he could not possibly have held that office for so long a time. I have known Senator Pearce ever since the establishment of Federation ; and while I do not altogether agree with his administration - I can see defects, and I suppose we can all see the defects, in the administration of others - 1 believe he will carry out his duties asrepresentative with dignity to himself and to the Commonwealth; and I am quite sure that when he returns he will give a comprehensive and intelligent report of what has taken place at the Conference.
Personally, I am in favour of instructing our delegate to reaffirm the recognition of the principle set out in Article 8 of the covenant of the League of Nations, namely, that the maintenance of peace requires the reduction of national armaments to the lowest point consistent with national safety. I would have our delegate instructed to use his best endeavours to induce- the United States of America to join the League of Nations. I admit that if we take a short view of poor humanity, and- keep too much in mind our own failings - if we remember that at the commencement of the war it was said it would be the last, and that we were to have a “better world made safe for Democracy “ - we may be inclined to agree with speakers like the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt) and others, who seem to be of opinion that it is impossible ever to establish the peace of the world, and that war may break out at any time in the immediate future. But if honorable members will take a longer view, if they will cast their minds over the histories they have read-
– Go back twenty-five years !
– Not twenty-five years, but 2,000 years. We have to remember that, according to Julius Caesar, the great Roman general, who invaded the British Isles 2,000 years ago, our ancestors painted themselves with clay, and clothed themselves with the- skins of animals. We have to consider the progress of civilization. Our police system is not of very ancient origin, as “it was introduced, I think, only about 200 years age. If we go back centuries in the history of our own race we find that the duty of carrying out the police work was left to certain men, the heads of the “hundreds,” the village commune, and, indeed, it was everybody’s duty at one time to act as a constable. In the progress of time, instead of permitting men to settle their differences by the use of clubs or other means, we established a police system which is so successful that to-day in Australia, for instance, one can safely go from one end of the continent to the other without finding it necessary to use firearms in self-defence. These facts indicate the progress of civilization. If we carry the analogy further we can easily picture the time when at least the civilized nations of the earth will join together to prevent nations from entering into deadly combat with one another. For my part, I entertain the greatest hope of the Allies engaged in the recent war establishing a workable basis for the maintenance of international peace through the League of Nations.
There were very few native-born Australians who prior to the war thought that we would ever be engaged in any international conflict. That was due probably to the fact that we are so far away from Europe. Indeed, I remember that when the question was raised twenty years ago of the payment of a subsidy for the maintenance of the British Navy the late Sir Wilfrid Laurier said that Canada, did not wish to contribute, because that Dominion had no desire to be involved -in European complications. The United States of America, with its Monroe doctrine of ‘ non-interference in America by European powers, for years kept out of European quarrels. The recent war, which arose, apparently, out of the assassination of the ArchDuke Ferdinand and his wife at Serajevo on the 28th June, 1914, but was no doubt due to deep and divergent racial and political interests,brought about war between Austria andServia, and in one week Australia was involved in the great conflict which followed, and in which twenty-six nations were eventually engaged. Any thoughtful man must realize that in any war in the future between the civilized Powers Australia is certain to be a party.We must not forget that fact. Memories are, apparently, very short. Two or three years ago we would have looked with horror at the suggestion that there might be further wars; perhaps it is well that our memories are short, because life’s pilgrimage would otherwise be too painful.
It is, however, the duty of the leaders of public thought not to forget, or, if they do, to read those publications which may act as reminders of what has taken place.
– I understand the honorable member has lately been reading the Communist.
– I hope before I have concluded to deal with Communism, and to point out the difference between the reduction of armaments and Red Third -International, of which the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine) is so proud. I admit that there is a Third International, and I think I can interpret its aims. I desire to take this opportunity of quoting some figures concerning the number of troops sent to the Front by the Allied Nations during the great war with the Central Powers. They are: -
The number of troops sent to the Front by the Central Powers were : -
The number of Allied Nations troops killed during the war were: -
The numbers of the Central Powers troops killed during the war were: -
Adding the total together - Allied Nations 4,339,170 and Central Powers 2,827,509 - we get the stupendous number of 7,166,679 persons killed. The grand totals of all nations engaged are: -
No wonder the world is poorer when we consider that 65,000,000 were mobilized and that of that number 52,000,000 were sent to the Front. The number mobilized was withdrawn from productive work, and for practically the whole of the war period were engaged in the destruction of wealth and property. In these circumstances, it is easy to see why prices have been high, why there has been so much industrial unrest, and why the world has taken so long to settle down to pre-war conditions. I have not the expenditure incurred by- the othernations engaged in the war, but details of the war expenditure by the British Empire and its Dominionsare as follow : -
I am indebted to Lieutenant-Colonel Staniforth Smith for these figures, which I have taken from his book, Australian Campaigns in the Great War. I mentioned a while ago that we would have to choose between a reduction of armaments with a view to bringing about a condition of world peace and the Red Third International, or some other revolutionary body of that kind.
– Quite right!
– We had last night an exhibition from the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine) of the oratory that we may expect unless the civilized races of the earth are prepared to depart from a policy that led to the loss of 7,000,000 lives and . the wounding of 18,000,000 men in the recent war. I believe the honorable member for Barrier is perfectly sincere in his convictions when he gets up and talks of a war against the capitalist class.
-^- You were once in earnest in war against the capitalist classes yourself for “ Blood or bread.”
– Now, the honorable member for Darling had better keep quiet. He is a member of the Grand Council of Action, another revolutionary body which stands for the principle of taking and holding the property owned by other sections of the community.
– I must ask the honorable member not to deal with that matter.
– I am afraid the honorable member- is rather severe on the honorable member for Darling.
– I do not think that I. am, for he has adopted the “ Take and hold “ policy suggested by Mr. Boote, of the Worker.
– That has nothing to do with the question before the Chair.
– I have no desire to enter into a discussion on these matters, Mr. Speaker; but if the honorable member for Darling will interject he must expect to get something in return. Honorable members will agree that the speech made by the honorable member for Barrier was relevant to the issue, and. I want to point out that the nations of the world must choose between a practical and peaceful course of action and the doctrines of wild men like the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine), who is very much in earnest, but his absurd doctrines are quite impossible in a civilized community. His doctrines would lead to the introduction in Australia of the Russian Soviet, under which Lenin and Trotsky and the other leaders of that crowd have so entrenched themselves that only. those who support ‘the system can ‘to-day obtain food, while millions of unfortunate victims outside the charmed circle are starving in various parts of Russia.
– They are not worse off than they were under the Czar.
– The Czar regime was very bad, no doubt. But I suggest that the honorable member should say nothing. Anybody could easily mistake him for a revolutionary spirit. If only he clothed himself in a cloak and wore a dagger, he would not be allowed into an assembly such as this, f or the attendants would be under the* impression that the honorable member for Darling’s (Mr. Blakeley’s) “Grand Council” was about to commence its revolutionary work.
– “Blood or bread.”
– I do not want to take drastic action; but I shall certainly have to do so if honorable members do not obey the call of the Chair to order. I have asked honorable members particularly to refrain from personal interjections, which only invite personal retorts, and lead to grave disorder. In the interests of decorum in debate I trust honorable members will restrain themselves.
– I hope, Mr. Speaker, that I am dealing with this question without unnecessary heat. I know human nature, and I can see what is going on. I claim that I have always endeavoured to bring about an improvement in our social conditions, but no matter what honorable members may say, I have never proposed to achieve that end by any other than constitutional means.
– Have you ?
– I will deal with the honorable member if only he will be patient for a while.
– I must again ask the honorable member for Barrier not to interrupt the honorable member for Capricornia.
– I was under the impression, Mr. Speaker, that I was not interrupting the honorable member for Capricornia at all. I thought he rather enjoyed interjections.
– Order ! It does not matter whether the honorable member for Capricornia enjoys interjections or not. It is a great discourtesy to the House, and also to the Speaker, when honorable members interrupt the debate, especially after order has been called. I can only warn the honorable member for Barrier that if he does so again I shall be obliged to take certain action.
– Knowing my own individual weaknesses and faults, I think I know the faults of poor humanity also. As the poet Goethe said -
If thou would’st know thyself, observe the actions of others;
If thou would’st other men know, look well within thine own heart.
It may be suggested that the improvement of our social conditions is slow. Judged in years it may be, but judged in centuries it is not slow. We must not lose sight of the fact that the education of the masses of the people is proceeding very rapidly throughout the world. Nearly everybody in a civilized community today can read and write, and when people, who through no fault of their own find themselves out of employment, and observe, as the result of war conditions, that certain other individuals are compiling immense fortunes ; and, further, when they observe the extravagances of certain sections of the community, the looseness, and the generally lowered moral tone of the community, all the outcome of war, they are tempted to say, “We shall end all this.” The honorable member for Barrier would try to end it by the establishment of the Russian Soviet regime.
– I rise to a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I desire to know whether the honorable member’s references to the Russian Soviet system have anything to do with the subject before the House.
– I do not think they have anything more to do with the subject under discussion than the honorable member own references to the same matter. But seeing that the honorable member himself dealt rather exhaustively with the Russian Soviet system in his speech, I do not see how he can very well raise a point of order when the honorable mem ber for Capricornia attempts to say something in the nature of a reply.
– I thank you,Mr. Speaker, for your impartiality.
– Order ! Did I understand the honorable member to question the impartiality of the Chair ? If so, I must ask him to withdraw his statement.
– Very well, Mr.. Speaker. I thanked you for your impartiality. I withdraw it.
– It is my duty to call the attention of the House to the attitude of the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine) and to his repeated discourtesies to the Chair. If he persists in these, I shall certainly ask the House to take the necessary steps to protect the Chair from this sort of thing. I shall not submit to it.
– It will be a pity if honorable members do not realize the importance of the question of what we areto do after the war. Foreign politics should be discussed more often in this Chamber. Our foreign policy should be considered here, instead of the trivial matters which sometimes occupy our attention. There are 42,000unemployed in Queensland. There are millions of men in a similar plight in the United States of America and in Great Britain, and it is no doubt due to causes attributable to the war. What is the alternative to the grand Council of Action, of which the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) and Mr. Willis are members ? The alternative is the League of Nations. Mr. Parker Moloney speaks of the League contemptuously, and the honorable member for Barrier regards it as a capitalist combination. I look upon it as one of the hopes of the world. It is the flower which has grown out of the blood-stained battlefields, and we ought to support it. We are a member of it. Last year we spent £68,350 on the League of Nation’s, and this year our contribution is to be £26,000. If the League cannot bring about a reduction of armaments, I do not see how the Disarmament Conference can do so. I would not throw cold water on the project. I am glad that the British Government has invited us to send a delegate, and I hope America will find that it must come into the League. The zeal, I presume, of some of our British statesmen is responsible for the United States of America remaining outside the League. These statesmen demanded that the British Empire should have six votes, and be considered six States. That meant that, according to article 3 of the Covenant, there would be three delegates each from Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and India. The British Empire embodies all those States, and thus would be entitled to eighteen delegates, while America would have only three.
– Surely you know that is not the main reason.
– It is one of the main reasons.
– Not the main reason. There is a much stronger reason.
– You will find that that is one of the main reasons.
– Will you tell us if the League of Nations has ever attempted to deal with disarmament since its establishment ?
– Yes, I shall be able to answer that. The League was formed as an outcome of the war, when the statesmen of Europe, and President Wilson, saw the suffering due to the war, the ruined homes, the widows, the orphans, the wounded, the crippled, and the blind, and they determined that something must be done to prevent future wars. The signatories to the Peace Treaty and the original members of the League of Nations were: -
The following States were invited to accede to the Covenant : -
The whole of the latter States accepted the Covenant of the League, and came in. Nearly the whole of them were represented at the Assembly of the League at Geneva last year, and I believe nearly all of them are represented, and some other States as well, at the Conference now sitting at Geneva. Unfortunately, so little information is given regarding this League, which is the hope of the world, that we do not even know the names of the delegates. Of course, we have the name of our own representative (Captain Bruce), and we occasionally hear such names as those of Lord Robert Cecil and Monsieur Noblemaire. But we have nothing like the information which should be at our disposal. Article 8 of the Covenant states -
The members of the League recognise that the maintenance of peace requires the reduction of national armaments to the lowest point consistent with national safety, and the enforcement by common action of international obligations. The Council, taking account of the geographical situation and circumstances of each State, shall formulate plans for such reduction for the consideration and action of the several Governments. . . .
I have been asked “What has this League of Nations done in regard to the reduction of armaments?” Part of the duty of the League and its Council is to , ascertain what are the military and naval proposals of the nations. A book of questions has been sent out to the different Governments, with a view to ascertaining what their military and naval proposals are. Apparently, this matter has not been taken up as enthusiastically as it should have been. Although we in Australia are entitled to receive a book of questions as to our proposals in regard to armaments, apparently we have not got one. At least, if the Government have received one, this House knows nothing about it. In 1920, apparently, the most that the League of Nations could do with regard to the reduction of armaments was to consider the suggestion by Dr. Charles Lange, of Norway, that the only practical way to effect a reduction of armaments was to reduce the Budgets of the different countries for naval and military expenditure. This is the duty of all the nation in the League of Nations. On the basis of this suggestion the Assembly of the League evolved a resolution calling upon the Council, which is the other branch of the League, to submit for the consideration of the Assembly the acceptance of an undertaking not to exceed for the first two years following the next financial year the sum total of expenditure on the military, naval, and air services provided for in the next financial year.
To show the difficulty with which President Harding is faced in this matter, I may mention that that resolution was withdrawn because it required unanimity, and the best the League could do was to get a recommendation carried. The opposition to the resolution was led by Prance. This recommendation was to submit for the consideration of members the acceptance of an undertaking not to exceed the current military Budget during the next two years unless required to do so by recommendation of the League, or by reason of exceptional circumstances notified to the League. The recommendation was carried by a large majority. That happened in 1920.
Honorable members will see in the very sparse information which has been given to us:.’ ‘ in the .cable messages that the present Assembly at Geneva has approved of Lord Robert Cecil’s report in reference to that matter. Lord Robert Cecil proposed the summoning of an International Conference in 1922 for the control of the private manufacture and traffic in arms. He also proposed the renewal of the request that all nations should agree not to increase their naval and military Budgets for the next two years over those of the current year. The resolution to adopt the report was carried.
Honorable members will have seen that Monsieur Noblemaire, representing Prance, said that that country would give full support to the practical realization of disarmament, but demanded that there should be power to make investigations in all countries. “ France,” he is reported to have said, “was anxiously watching the tragedy which was being enacted in Germany between the spirit of work, peace, and Democracy, and the spirit of war of the junkers. Prance was bound to keep an army in readiness. It was not her fault that circumstances compelled her to be ready to act as the world’s police.”
When President Harding meets the Conference delegates at Washington, and speeches are made by him and other delegates in favour of peace; when the delegates have been supplied with statistics concerning the huge indebtedness of the nations as a result of the late war; and when it is proposed that there shall be a reduction of armaments, the French delegation will express again the views that have been expressed on behalf of France during the last week or two at the Geneva Conference of the League of Nations. I have no doubt that President Harding will find that he can make no quicker progress than is being made by the present League of Nations. He will find that he will have to proceed in the same leisurely way. I do not believe for a moment that Monsieur Noblemaire, , and the other Frenchmen who are unable to agree to a reduction of armaments, represent the opinion of the people of France. I do not believe that the objections to an endeavour to establish the world’s peace, such as were made in the speech by the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt), who referred to what might happen in Poland owing to the warlike spirit of the population there, represent public opinion throughout the world. To my mind, the public opinion of the world is in favour of a union of civilized nations to reduce armaments and to lighten the burdens which the people have to carry. I believe that people welcome this League of Nations. They will support it, and will maintain it. I believe that the Washington Conference which President Harding has called is . the outcome of public opinion in the United States of America. I read, during the presidential campaign, that President Harding’s opponent, Mr Cox, the democratic candidate, asked, “ What does Mr. Harding propose to put in place of the League of Nations?” He added, “ He has nothing to propose, because there can be nothing put in the place of the League.” In my opinion, the Washington Conference will fail to bring about a reduction of armaments; and I hope that Senator Pearce, the British delegation, and the other people who go there, will try to induce the United States of America to join the League of Nations, because only in that way can we bring about the desired reduction. I believe that only with the joining up of the United States of America with the League of Nations will the aims and objects of the League be obtained. In the absence of the United States of America, we cannot hope that the League will do what might otherwise be done.
– But does not the honorable member think that good will come out of the Washington Conference in regard, say, to Naval matters?
– I fear that no agreement will bei arrived at. The forty odd States and their delegates have been considering this question for two years, and I cannot believe that President Harding is likely to be able, in a few weeks, to achieve any greater success.
– The fact that the question has been considered for two years is one reason why the Conference may be a success.
– I do not know that any harm will come out of the Conference ; a great deal of good may proceed from it. I would urge upon those who endeavour to throw cold water on the League of Nations that no harm can result from its maintenance; and that in view of the more enlightened world of to-day, there is every possibility that good may come from it. Article 10 of the Covenant of the League provides that -
The members of the League undertake to respect and preserve, as against external aggression, the territorial integrity and existing political independence of all members of the League. In case of any such aggression, or in case of any threat or danger of such aggression, the Council shall advise upon the means by which this obligation shall be fulfilled.
In view of the agenda of the Conference which has been put forward by the President of the United States of America, I shall have to qualify the statement I made a few moments ago that no harm should result from it. As reported in the daily press of 23rd ultimo, the State Department of the United States of America has published the Armament Conference agenda, to which all the united Powers have agreed -
Part I. deals with the limitation of armaments as follows -
1 ) . Naval armament, under which willbe discussed the basis of limitation and extent of fulfilment.
. Rules for the control of new agencies of warfare.
. The limitation of land armament.
Part II. deals with Pacific and Far Eastern questions, as follows -
. Questions relating to China, the prin ciples to be applied, and the application of territorial integrity, administrative integrity, the open door, equality of commercial and industrial opportunity, concessions, monopolies or preferential economic privileges, the development of railways, including plans relating to the Chinese Eastern Railway, preferential railway rates, and status of existing commitments.
. Siberia, the same subject as China.
. The mandated islands, unless the questions dealing thereunto are earlier settled.
These references to China are very disturbing. China, as a member of the League, is entitled to the protection of all the other nations which signed the Covenant, under which they agreed to respect the integrity of the territory of the members of the League. These references to “ The open door “ and “ Equality of commercial and industrial opportunity,” remind me of the attitude of the Allied Nations at the time of the Boxer rebellion some, twenty years ago, when it was actually proposed that China should be divided among the ‘nations which suppressed that rebellion. These references are those of a superior Power dealing with a subject race, and I am alarmed at their terms. Itwould appear that the United States of America propose to get into touch with a number of other nations and to come to some agreement with them regarding China.
– China will have a seat at the Washington Conference.
– No doubt; but China is referred to in the agenda in terms that might have been used many years ago. This Conference is to decide what monopolies are to be granted to China. It is going, apparently, to take out of the hands of the Chinese people the right of self government.
– I do not think so.
– It may not; but these terms are most significant. I am bound to admit, however, that the United States of America has proved a friend to China. At the close of the Boxer rebellion, thei United States returned to China the States’ share of the indemnity imposed by the Allies on China.
– The honorable member alluded to the reference to “ The open door “ ?
-What does that mean ? Does it mean that China is not to be allowed to frame its own Tariff - a Tariff like our own, for example, with the “preferential,” “intermediate,” and “ general “ schedules ?
– No; it means something altogether different. The reference is to an “open door “ as against other nations.
-That could’ be achieved only by negotiation and conciliation, and not by aggression. AH that ought to be done with regard to China, and all that any well-wisher of that country would have brought about can be secured through the League of Nations. To my mind it cannot be brought about by the Conference that has just sprung into being. The business programme of the Washington Conference is a mere commonplace, if I may apply such a term to it, as compared with the programme of the Covenant of the League of Nations, which has been signed bv the majority of the civilized Powers who were permitted to sign it. Let us take, for ininstance, Article 11 of the Covenant -
Any war or threat of war, whether immediately affecting any of the members of the League or not, is hereby declared a matter of concern to the whole League, and the League shall take any action that may be deemed wise and effectual to safeguard the peace of nations. . . . .
President Harding could not have anything more effective.
– Whilst I have personal admiration for the League, might I suggest to my honorable friend- that we must take conditions as we find them, and that the League is maimed by the defection of America.
– It is to be deplored that the United States of America is standing out. I venture to prophesy that the failure of the Washington Conference will be such that it is the duty of all who believe in the League to keep on pointing out to the people what Australia and the British Empire have already begun to do.
– We must not forget that the opposition to the League of Nations in the United States of America, was political, not national.
– That is so. I am convinced that de,spite reports as to the attitude of some of the people of the United States of America, the main body of the people of that nation are in favour of peace. The main body of the people are quite in sympathy with the League of Nations. They are in favour of bringing about such an amelioration of the conditions of the people as is possible in view of the defects of our poor humanity.
Article 12 of the Covenant provides that-
The members of the League agree that if there should arise between them any dispute likely to lead to a rupture, they will submit the matter either to arbitration or to inquiry by the Council, and they agree in no case to resort to war until- three months after the’ award by the arbitrators or the report by the Council.
Article 13 reads -
The members of the League agree that whenever any dispute shall arise between them which they recognise to be suitable for submission to arbitration and which cannot be satisfactorily settled by diplomacy, they will submit the whole subject-matter to arbitration.
Then in Article 14 it is provided that -
The Council shall formulate and submit to the members of the League for adoption plans for the establishment of a Permanent Court of International Justice. The Court shall be competent to hear and determine any disputes of an international character which the parties thereto submit to it.
That Permanent Court of International Justice has been established, and Japan, which some honorable members seem to fear so much, but which I do not fear, has signed the Covenant of the League of Nations, is a member of it, and has agreed to submit its disputes to the International Court of Justice. -T notice that one honorable member smiled when I said that I did not fear Japan, and I may inform him that I said so because I remember that when Great Britain was at war with South Africa it took £250,000,000 and 250,000 men to defeat 50,000 Boers.
– And a good long while, too.
– Yes, it took over two years to do it. In Australia we can surely claim that we have, at least, 300.000 soldiers. We sent away 330,000 to the Great War of 1914-1918 and 260,000 of them came back to Australia. If we recruited our forces, on the plan adopted by the Boers, from boys of 14 to men of 60 years of age, I presume that we could muster an army of quite 1,000,000 troops. Japan would have to bring an army here to meet those troops, and Japan would also require to obtain money for that purpose, and the only nation in the position to lend money to Japan to-day is the United States of America, which is supposed to be preparing for a war with that country. People remind us that we have in Australia a territory of 2,974,501 square miles inextent, with a population of something over 5,000,000, but they should remember that Japan controls Formosa, Korea, Manchuria, and on the borders of Manchuria is Mongolia, with an area of 1,367,600 square miles, and a population estimated at 2,600,000. The Japanese may go there. It will interest the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Fleming), who is a pastoralist, to know that the Japanese are taking sheep from Australia to Mongolia and that they may be competitors of the honorable member and his colleagues in the pastoral industry of Australia.
– They are taking all they can get in Korea.
– The Japanese will find plenty of territory quite at their hands without bothering themselves about this country.
Here is another very important Article of the Covenant of the League of Nations - Article 16.
Should any member of the League resort to war in disregard of its covenants under Articles 12, 13, or 15, it shall ipso facto be deemed to have committed an act of war against all other members of the League, which hereby undertakes immediately to subject it to the severance of all trade or financial relations, the prohibition of all intercourse between their nationals and the nationals of the covenant-breaking State, and the prevention of all financial, commercial or personal intercourse between the nationals of the covenant-breaking State and the nationals of any other State, whether a member of the League or not.
– Does the honorable member think that the League of Nations would give effect to that Article?
– I remind the honorable member that Japan has signed the Covenant of the League and has agreed to do so. What would be thought of Japan if she attempted to break that Covenant? The most important States that could como into the League are members of it, and are obliged under its covenants to adopt means to punish any State which breaks them. I should like specially to direct the attention of honorable members opposite to Article 23, which reads -
Subject to and in accordance with the provisions of international conventions existing or hereafter to be agreed upon, the members of the League :
I notice that the question of the traffic in women and children came up at the Assembly of the League of Nations only the other day. It is, I think, to be deplored that the French delegates - and this for the second time - opposed the efforts of the League of Nations to tighten up the restrictions upon the “white slave traffic. I notice from the meagre information supplied by the press that at the conference of “the Assembly it was decided by a majority of 120 delegates to 5 to carry out the covenant of the League for the restriction of that traffic. Will any member of this House affirm that the attitude of the French delegates who opposed the restriction of the white slave traffic represents the public opinion of so enlightened a race as the French people? I do not believe it for a single moment. I believe that, like a number of other socalled leaders of public opinion, these delegates have got out of touch with the real sentiments of the people generally since the Great War. I again assert that, ‘in my opinion, honorable members ought to pay more attention to the League of Nations, for in its maintenance and development under Divine Providence lies one of the great hopes of humanity.
.- I regret that during the course of this debate the League of Nations and the Disarmament Conference at Washington have been discussed as if they were to some extent antagonistic. I see no justification whatever for that view. Personally, I am a warm supporter of both the League of Nations and of the proposal of the United States President to bring about general disarmament of the nations. The Conference which is to meet at “Washington shortly should be regarded as complementary and supplementary to the work already done by the Leagueof Nations, and as in no sense opposed to their ideal. It is regrettable that the United States of America did not see its way to join the League of Nations, but their reasons, no doubt, seemed sufficient to the people of that country. But other nations should not regard the attitude of America as deserving of reproach or as a reason why the forthcoming Conference should not receive the generous support and assistance from all people who, like myself, and I believe every honorable member of this Chamber, love peace rather than war. The question immediately before the House is not so much the necessity for the representation of Australia at the Conference as it is the method by which our representative should be chosen. In considering the method of selection, it is perhaps well to consider the objectives of those who desire that the nations of the world shall participate in the Conference. It also seems necessary to consider what is likely to be the attitude of Australia. I agree that Australia should be represented at the Conference; but it is highly important that this country should not be misrepresented. More attention should have been paid inside and outside this House to what is likely to be the attitude of Australia’s representative at the Conference, because it seems to me that there is some danger of our being misrepresented. Not that I have anything to say against Senator Pearce, who has been chosen by the Government.
– We cannot dissociate personal considerations from this selection.
– If the honorable member has any objection to the selection on personal grounds it is for him to. say so, hut I will not associate myself with any personal references in connexion with this matter. This House is called the House of Eepresentatives, its members are supposed to represent the people of Australia, but we have never been consulted as to who shall be sent to represent Australia at Washington. The mandate of the Government has gone forth.
– The British Government will appoint the British delegation without consulting the House of Commons.
– The circumstances in England are not necessarily the same as those in Australia.
– And Great Britain is sending a type of man very different from the one the Government have selected.
– That is a matter I do not care to discuss. Although every honorable member in this place has been selected to represent the views of the people on this and other matters, we have had no say as to the Australian representative, and in that regard we are at a great disadvantage.
Mr.Fleming. - We do not know yet what occurred at the Imperial Conference.
– We have practically no knowledge of what occurred. Until about a week ago the people of Australia were under the impression that the Imperial Conference had tacitly decided that it was not necessary for the Dominions to be separately represented at the Conference. Suddenly the demand for Australian representation arose.
– No one knows whence the demand came.
– That is so. The position could be put in those beautiful words : - “We may not know, we cannot tell,
What joy awaits us there.”
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– Before the adjournment I unwittingly amalgamated the lines of two beautiful hymns, and only wish that I could as easily amalgamate in one representative to America the views and desires of all parties in this House. I do not think that the wisest course has been followed in the matter of appointing a representative of Australia to attend the Washington Conference. The questions to be considered by it are of the utmost possible importance to the whole of the people of this Commonwealth, and the gentleman appointed to represent us should have been the free choice of all the members of this Legislature. I am not prepared to say upon whom the choice should have fallen, or to discuss the relative merits of any possible candidate for the position; but I contend that whoever had been chosen in the manner I suggest w6uld have felt that, in representing us at Washington, he would have had behind him the preliminary approval of the people of Australia. It is difficult to know what is in the minds of all those who desire to have Australia represented at this Conference, but it is of the utmost importance that there should be ample discussion upon the matter in some form or another.
– Does the honorable member know any other part of the world where a delegate to such a Conference has been selected by the whole Parliament? I have never heard of such a case.
– If it has not been done previously, it is time Australia set an example. The world has already sustained colossal disasters because people have been tied down by old traditions and conventions. I have no hesitation in advocating a departure in this direction. The world wants to get away from those old restrictions, disabilities, and follies, and strike out upon something more in accordance with the spirit of the time, and the universal desire for peace.
– Can the honorable member give the assurance that whoever was selected under the system he proposes would be supported by him?
– If the choice had been made by honorable members of both Houses on the preferential system, whoever had been chosen would have been expected to undertake the journey at whatever inconvenience to himself.
– Would you run your sheep stations on the preferential voting system?
– Certainly not; but the cases are not analogous. Whoever is placed in a position of responsibility, whether in the conduct of his own affairs or in the conduct of the affairs of the world, should cheerfully accept it. In reply to the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Bamford), I would be contented to support the choice of honorable members, because the minds of this House and of the Senate are so evenly and justly balanced that I feel sure they would have made the best possible selection. I would like to have had time to discuss the serious problems which are to be considered at Washington, and Australia’s attitude towards them.
– The honorable member would not be in order in doing so upon this amendment.
– In those circumstances, I ask the Government to provide the House with an early opportunity of discussing a matter of such vital importance, namely, the attitude to be assumed by Australia at the Conference.
– The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) has already promised to give the House that opportunity.
– I hope that we shall have it very shortly, because, while it is important that Australia should be represented at Washington, it is equally important that it should not be misrepresented.
.- It is very hard for an honorable member to criticise the appointment of any gentleman to represent Australia at the Washington Disarmament Conference, but it would be better if the choice had fallen upon one who could go abroad with the best wishes and good feeling of every citizen of Australia. In selecting Senator Pearce the Government have made the worst possible choice. All over the world the working classes are crying out for a permanent peace, and I trust that the forthcoming Conference will take us a step nearer to that end, although personally I have not much faith in its being able to do anything in that direction. I agree with the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine) that before we can effect a cure for war we must get at and deal with its causes. The old-time diplomacy which was practised prior to the outbreak of 1914is not yet extinct. I am very much afraid that the diplomats of to-day will engineer another war as they did in 1914. At any rate, if any good is to emerge from the Washington gathering we want men at it who are truly desirous of bringing about the peace of the world. In 1906, no one was stronger than was Senator Pearce in his denunciation of militarism. I listened to him in those days with pleasure, when on many platforms he was denouncing the growth of the military spirit throughout the world. He was a pacifist then. He is not the same man to-day. He is a militarist. At the dictation of the military classes of this country he has been insisting on putting boys of sixteen years of age into training camps for seventy days each year. He it was who conscripted Italians living in. Australia. I cannot forget the active part he took in the conscription campaign, nor help thinking of the attempt he made in the Senate a few weeks ago to thrust upon the Democracy of this country the British Army Act with all its faults and militarism. I cannot conceive of a man who would so act at the behest of the military classes as being a fit person to represent Australia at a Conference where the main issue for discussion is the question of disarmament or the limitation of armaments. His heart will not be in his task. All the time he will be thinking of what the military chiefs of Australia will be saying. We want to be represented by a man who will express the thoughts of the people of Australia, and impress them upon the Conference. I am sure that Senator Pearce will not be able to give a true reflexion of the feelings of the people here.
– He will do as well as any one else could, and probably better.
– He has already changed his views once or twice, and probably he is ready to make another change. He was a pacifist and anti-militarist. To-day his strongest supporter cannot charge him with being an anti-militarist. He carries out every recommendation made by the military chiefs. Throughout the war he, indorsed whatever they said. No matter what Parliament declared, the law was what the military heads of Australia declared it to be.
Even if Senator Pearce were a desirable person to represent Australia, I contend that the choice should have been made from among honorable members in this Chamber. I do not ask, as the honorable member for Grampians (Mr. Jowett) has asked, that the selection should be made by all the members of this Parliament. I agree with the honorable member for Illawarra (Mr. Hector Lamond) that we should be guided by the traditions established under the British Constitution, as to the exercise of the powers of responsible government. But I hold that the Government in the exercise of their responsibility should have chosen some one who, having a seat in this Chamber, would be responsible to the House of Representatives. The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) has asserted that the Senate has equal rights with this Chamber. I deny the contention. Honorable senators have not been elected upon the same democratic principle as have honorable members of this House. The basis of representation is not equitable. New South Wales, for example, with its large population, provides only six members of the Senate, while Tasmania, with its small population, also has six. Honorable members know Senator Pearce pretty well; they know that he will take very little note of anything that may be said from this side of the House. No man in Australia, apart from the military class, wishes to see another war. No man in this country, no matter how wealthy he may be, ‘desires another outbreak of international hostilities ; but there are influences being exerted throughout the world, which, if they are permitted to expand, will precipitate another war. What I would like Senator Pearce to declare at Washington, and to lay down most emphatically to the financial institutions of Great Britain, is that if, because of their covetousness in seeking to exploit the markets of China, and in that way clashing with American and Japanese financial interests, war should break out between the United States of America and Japan, with Great Britain as the ally of the latter, not one Australian youth will leave these shores to fight with any yellow race against a white people. I have just read, in the local press, that the London Daily Ex-press, discussing the possibility of war between the United States of America and Japan, said -
Will the Washington Conference avert the peril? Our information does not warrant optimism. The public must understand the country is standing again on the verge of tie abyss, and that Imperial interests in Canada, Australia, and the Far East are vitally threatened.
In what way are the interests of the working classes of Great Britain or of Australia threatened by the actions and efforts of any group of financiers operating in China ? The working people of the world may expect to get no gains from exploitations being carried on there ; all they can look for is the possibility of a great deal of suffering, misery, and loss. However, if that London journal be correct in its assertion, that we are again upon the verge of international hostilities, its comments can only refer to the fear and expectation of one war, namely, that wherein Great Britain and Japan will be in alliance against the white people of the United States of America. I can only say that it will take a great deal in the future to induce the Democracy of this country to leave its shores and fight again. There is not a shadow of doubt but that the workers of Australia willnever again be eager to participate in a war, no matter whether the flag under which they are asked to fight be the Union Jack or any other. If the great financial corporations find their interests so clashing in China that war is precipitated between the yellow race and the white peoples of America, there need be no misunderstanding in Great -Britain, or at the Washington Conference, about the attitude of the Australian workers. No matter though the Mother Land range herself with her yellow allies, Australians will not fight side by side with them in that alliance. It would not take much, indeed, to induce the workers, of this country to range themselves alongside their kith and kin in the United States of America against the Japanese.
– The same remark applies to the workers of Great Britain.
– Exactly the same. I trust, for the peace of the world, that the trade unions of this and every country will actively spread the gospel of peace. No war can bring gain to the working man. If a delegate could be sent to the Washington Conference who would speak clearly and distinctly in those terms to the representatives of the United Kingdom - men who know full well the value of the Australian soldier on a battlefield - something in the direction of disarmament might be brought about. The Australian delegate at Washington should not hesitate to tell the capitalistic authorities of Great Britain that never again will an Australian go to the aid of the British in any war in which they may be assisting a yellow race to fight white men. I have nofaith Senator Pearce. I have no expectation that he will utter such sentiments as those.
I do not believe he is a pacifist. I am not at all sure that he will advocate disarmament. Though honorable members on this side may be in the minority, I am confident, upon this matter of Great Britain allying herself with Japan in the event of war being precipitated with the United States of America, that we are speaking on behalf of the great majority of the people of Australia. I repeat that I regret the choice made by the Government. I shall vote for the amendment in the hope that the Government will select one who is truly a pacifist, and who will earnestly press at the Conference for the disarmament of the nations.
Question - That the words proposed to be added be so added - put. The House divided.
Majority . . . . 20
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question - That the motion be agreed to - put. The House divided.
Majority … … 20
Question so resolved in the affirmative .
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to -
That the Ministerial statement re Imperial Conference made on 30th September and certain resolutions notified on 5th October he printed.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- The first business on Wednesday-
– Will this close the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the House? I desire to say afew words.
– I have already called onthe Prime Minister to reply, and an honorable member cannot address himself to the question now.
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) asked the Prime Minister what is the business for next week. Surely other honorable members are not to be prevented from also asking the Prime Minister questions?
– It would have been competent for any honorable member to ask a question of the Prime Minister before the honorable gentleman was called on to reply. As no other honorable member rose, I called an the Prime Minister.
Mr.HUGHES.- The first business for Wednesday will be Supply, and after that has been disposed of, we shall proceed to the consideration of the Senate’s requested amendments of the Tariff. I wish to inform honorable members that I have to go to Sydney, and. I shall be absent from the House after. Wednesday afternoon. I shall return, however, for the first meeting day in the following week. I understand that arrangements have been made to resume the consideration of the Estimates. I am unable to say what will be the business after we have disposed of the Tariff. .
– The business will be,first, Supply, then the Tariff, and then the General Estimates ?
-Yes; we shall start with the Estimates on the following Wednesday. Honorable members will understand that I must hear something of the Estimates. I know nothing whatever about them up to the present, and those who are opposing them will surely value any support that I might be able to give to that opposition. . We shall resume the consideration of the Works Estimates, on which progress was reported last week.
– When do the Government intend to submit to the PublicWorks Committee the question of the proposed buildings at Canberra?
– Notice should be given of that question.
– Notice has been given for six or sevenweeks.
– I am afraid that that is a question which, by the strict interpretation of the Standing Orders, it is not possible far me to traverse in the very short time I have allotted to rae now.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 2.55 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 7 October 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1921/19211007_reps_8_97/>.