8th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Elliot Johnson) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation whether any arrangement has yet been made between the Commonwealth and the Government, of South Australia for the resumption of the building of “War Service Homes in that State!
– There has been no further development.
– In reply to a question which I addressed to the honorable gentleman last week, he stated that there was no agreement between the Common wealth and the Government of South Australia as to the building of War Service Homes in that State. I direct his attention to the fact that on the day that’ he made that statement the Minister for Repatriation laid on the table of the Senate two agreements. Will he now lay those agreements on the table of this House? .
– The agreements to which the honorable member alludes have already been laid on the table of this House, and have no relation to the Government of South Australia.
Price of Wheat
– In view of the serious position ofthe flour-milling trade in South Australia, as a result of the preferential price charged for the wheat sold by the Wheat Pool to Western Australia and Victoria, will the Prime Minister, having regard to the fact that these Pools are guaranteed by theGovernment, endeavour immediately to secure the charge of a uniform price throughout the Commonwealth for wheat supplied to millers in the various States?
– I received a deputation of representatives of wheat-growers on Friday last, and the position of the millers was then mentioned. The matter to which the honorable member refers will be one of those discussed with the representative of the Commonwealth, the Commonwealth Bank. So far as I know, the wheat-growers are prepared to give such reasonable assurances as may be necessary in this matter.
australian delegation : Representation of Women.
– Is the Prime Minister yet in a position to give an answer to the request of the deputation of the National Council of Women, Perth, who asked that the Government include in the
Australian delegation to the League of Nations, at least, one woman delegate?
– We have communicated with the High Commissioner in regard to this matter, and have also considered it here. ‘ Difficulty arises, quite apart from the question of the representation of the women of Australia, owing tothe number of organizations of women, each of which might fairly claim that its representatives shouldhave preference. There is considerable difficulty, and I am in communication with the High Commissioner on the subject.
– When in Adelaide last week, I heard that the Department of Trade and Customs was short of lightships, and that it was intended to import sonic vessels for the purpose. I desire to ask the Minister if the report is correct, and whether it would not be better, in his opinion, to build such vessels at Williamstown?
– There is absolutely no truth in the report that it is intended to import such vessels. As a matter of fact I have had, only to-day, a conference with the Director of Lighthouses and Mr. Farquhar, the Government Director of Shipbuilding, and have also been looking into the financial aspect of the question. If fundscan be provided, proposals will be submitted for the provision of additional ships for lighthouse services, such vessels tobe built in Australia.
– In reference to a statement by my colleague the Minister for Defence (Mr. Greene) in regard to the presentation to His Excellency the GovernorGeneral of the Address-in-Reply agreed to bythis House, I have to announce that His Excellency is on an official visit to Queensland,’ and that it will meet his convenience to receive the Address-in-Reply on his return to Melbourne next month.
Proposed Grant for Public Works
– In connexion with the proposed Commonwealth grant of £250,000 to the various States, for road making purposes, in order to assist unemployed returned soldiers, I desire to ask the Treasurer whether the grant will be made on a per capita basis of population or on a per capita basis of returned soldiers? It will mean a considerable difference to some of the States.
– I think this question, since it involves a matter of policy, should have been addressed to the Prime Minister. The position is, however, that the proposed grant is to provide, not for unemployed returned soldiers alone, but for unemployed generally. The distribution will be on the basis of the whole population of each State.
– Will the Prime Minister lay upon the table of the House a statement showing the allocations to the different States of the amount of £250,000 to be advanced by the Federal Government for road-making purposes?
– I shall do so.
– Is the Prime Minister yet in a position to state why the award of the Shipbuilding Tribunal has not been applied to the mechanics and their assistantsat Cockatoo Island Dockyard ?
– I am afraid that I have to plead guilty to not being possessed of the information desired by the honorable member. I regret that I cannot supply it, but I shall endeavour to inform the House as soon as possible.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Defence whether he has seen in the press a report to the effect that the French people were conferring decorations upon some of the British Units who participated in actions in France during the great war, and were desirous of conferring the Croix de Guerre on two Australian Units - the 13th and 15th Brigades - but that the authorities in Australia had prevented them from doing so ? Can the honorable gentleman state why Australian Units have been precluded from having these honours conferred on them?
– I do not think it is correct that the authorities in Australia have prevented the conferring of these decorations’ on Australian Units, but I shall have inquiries made, and let the honorable member know.
– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs lay on the table of the House all correspondence between the Governments of the Dominion of New Zealand and the Commonwealth in relation to the reciprocal trade agreement?
– I do not think there isany objection to that course.
– Has the Minister for Trade and Customs yet received any protests against the ratification of the reciprocal trade agreement between the Commonwealth and New Zealand? If so, will he lay upon the table such protests, together with any that may yet be received, so that the House may discuss the proposed agreement in the light of those objections!?
– So far, I have received no such protests. I have received some communications on the subject, and - this applies also to the question asked by the honorable member for Balaclava - I will examine carefully all correspondence on the subject; but I do not propose to place on the table anypapers which, in my judgment,will jeopardize the agreement.
– Will the Treasurer inform the House whether it is a fact that, upon the money advanced by the Commonwealth to the State of South Australia for the repatriation of returned soldiers, the Commonwealth is charging interest at the rate of 71/2 per cent.?
– That percentage is not quite correct; but, when the conversion costs are taken into consideration, the money advanced to the States out of the Diggers’ Loan has cost nearly the price which the honorable member mentioned.
– Will the Minister for Defence state the reason for discharging, or causing to be retired, members of the Royal Australian Garrison Artillery before the completion of their twenty years’ -term of service without making any proportionate payment in lieu of long-service leave?
– If the honorable member is referring to non-commissioned officers and men who are not being allowed to re-engage on the expiration of their term of service, a Bill ‘to be submitted to Parliament shortly will make provision for such men to ‘be included in the scheme of compensation.
– When does the Minister for Works and Railways expect to receive the report of the Public Works Committee upon the proposed NorthSouth railway?
– I do not know when it will be submitted.
– On 27th July, the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) asked some questions about the Government medical officer at Darwin (Dr. Leighton Jones). A reply has now been received stating that the dentistry work performed by Dr. Jones is negligible, and is limited to occasional amalgam fillings and extractions. The optical work consists of testing and procuring glasses from the south. In both matters Dr. Jones is merely following the custom instituted by previous medical officers. It is stated that his fees are similar to those in rural districts in New South Wales, and are as stipulated in an agreement made by him with Dr. Gilruth, a former Administrator.
Issue of Military Blankets
– On the 27th July, the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) referred to the question of the issue of military blankets to some hundreds of unemployed in the Newcastle district who are in necessitous circumstances. I am now in a position to in form the honorable member that, some little time ago, on the ‘ representations of the Minister for Labour, New South Wales, I approved of the issue of several hundred blankets for the use of distressed returned soldiers in that State. This issue was made subject to the condition that the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia became responsible for the blankets. An application was subsequently received from the Warriors’ Friend Campaign, Sydney, for the issue of 100 blankets for use at Newcastle, but in view of the issue which had already been approved under the auspices of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia, Sydney, the Base Commandant in Sydney was instructed to inform the Warriors’ Friend Campaign Committee of what had been done in the matter of making blankets available through the Returned Sailors and Soldiers. Imperial League of Australia. If an application is made for the loan of blankets for distressed soldiers at Newcastle, and the Returned Sailors and Sold ‘crs Imperial League of Australia will agree to the same arrangement as was made in connexion with previous issues, I shall see whether it is possible for the Department to make some blankets available.
Treatment of Sulphur Ores
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
In connexion with the remarks of the then Minister ‘for Trade and Customs, on 9th November last (Hansard, pages- 12538-9) that a definite basis of agreement for the erection of furnaces and the treatment of sulphur ores between the Electrolytic Zinc Company and the Yarraville manufacturers of superphosphates had ‘been arrived at, and that his authority for stating this was the assurance of certain named directors of the. various companies whose word he accepted, respecting which he assured the House, amongst other “things, that the agreement was to provide safeguards for users against war-time prices, will the Minister state -
Is it correct that no such agreement <has been entered into, and that the matter has been abandoned as between the Yarraville manufacturers and, the Electrolytic Zinc Company? (2.) If so, what steps did the previous Minister take to insure the observance of the undertaking given to him, and through him to the House, or whatsteps did the present Minister take?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
The present Minister, in April last, called a conference of all interested parties to discuss whether the agreement made in Parliament was being faithfully carried out.
Asa result of such conference it was decided to appoint a committee representing all interested to report to the Minister. .
The representatives elected by each interest were: - Mr. T. J. McGalliard, President of the Chamber of Agriculture, and Mr. W. G. Gibson, M.H.R., representing the agricultural interests; Messrs. W. F. Cuming and Burns Cuming, representing superphosphate manufacturers; Messrs. Colin Fraser and Thos. Haynes, representing sulphur producers; and Mr. Ambrose Pratt, secretary. The function of the Committee, as expressed in a letterto the secretary, was “ to inquire into the disputes that have arisen between certain parties as to the interpretation and carrying out of the undertaking given through the Minister of Trade and Customs to the House at the time the Tariff was passed, and also by reason of later developments in connexion with supplies of pyritic ores by the Mount Lyell Company, with a view to arriving at a satisfactory arrangement for the use of pyrites and other sulphide ores in the production of sulphuric acid for the manufacture of superphosphates.
The following report from the Committee was received: - 415 Collins-street, Melbourne, 25th May, 1922.
The Hon. Arthur S. Rodgers,
Minister for Trade and Customs,
Department of Trade and Customs, Melbourne, Sir,
Re Sulphur Duty
I beg to advise you that meetings of the Committee appointed by the conference on the 21st April last, were held at 415Collins-street, on the 23rd, 24th, and 25th May.
Present: - Mr. T. J. McGalliard (in chair), and Mr. W. G. Gibson, M.H.R., representing the agricultural interests; Messrs. W. F. Cuming and Burns Cuming, representing superphosphate manufacturers; Messrs. Colin Fraser and Thos. Haynes, representing sulphur producers; and Mr. Ambrose Pratt, secretary.
The attached letter re functions of Committee was read by the secretary. It was decided: -
It was decided to inquire what the increased cost of superphosphate would be to the farmer as a result of the duty of £2 10s. per ton on sulphur.
It was agreed that, on the basis of utilizing imported sulphur, this would be equal to 5s. per ton. Providing, however, that the arrangements (now in progress) for the supply of locally-produced sulphur are completed satisfactorily, the increased cost, while remaining at 5s. per ton in Western Australia, would be only from 2s. to 3s. a ton in the other States;.
It was further agreed that a substantial reduction in the price of superphosphate would take place, owing to the lower cost of phosphate rock, wages, &c.
Consideration was given to the insurance benefits Australia would receive by the establishment of sulphur production in the Commonwealth in time of war, and representatives of the mining companies gave an assurance that no advantage would be taken of war conditions should they arise.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Yours faithfully, (Sgd.) T. j. McGalliard,
Notwithstanding the fact that all members of the Committee were unanimous in approving the presentation of the foregoing report, two ‘ members of the Committee, Messrs. McGalliard and Gibson, presented a minority report to the Minister, in which the opinion was expressed that the whole community, and not the farmer, should bear the cost of establishing the industry of sulphur production. In this minority report, no reference whatever was made to the question of the agreement now under consideration.
The following papers were presented: -
International Labour Organization of theLeague of Nations - Third Conference held it Geneva, 25th October to 19th November, 1921 - Reports by Australian Delegates.
Public Works Committee Act - Seventh General Report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works.
Ordered to be printed.
Customs Act -Proclamation (dated 5th July, 1922) prohibiting the exportation of certain canned fruits (Peaches, Apricots, Pears, Plums, Cherries, and Pineapples) unless the fruit has first been prepared and graded in accordance with the Customs Regulations.
Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory (Administration) Act Ordinance of 1922 - No. 9 - Stock Diseases.
– I have received the following letter from Mrs. Tudor : - 263 Stawell-street. Burnley, 28th July, 1922.
I desire to acknowledge the receipt of your letter conveying copy of resolutions passed in the House appreciative of my late husband’s public services, together with a kind expressionof sympathy to us all. I thank you for the bound and other copies of the resolutions and speeches which have just come to hand. They will be treasured by me, as they, in no small degree, comfort me in my great loss.
Yours very sincerely,
Debate resumed from 26th July(vide page 793), on motion by Mr. Hughes -
That this House approves the Treaty between the United States of America, the British Empire, France, and Japan, relating to their insular Possessions and insular Dominions in the Pacific Ocean, signed at Washington, on 13th December, 1921, the declaration signed on that date accompanying that Treaty, and the Treaty between those Powers supplementary to that Treaty, signed at Washington on the 6th February, 1922.
.- The proposals which have emanated from the Washington Conference will, I feel sure, meet with the approval of honorable members, because, first of all, they provide for such a limitation of naval armaments as will considerably lessen the load of taxation carried by the Commonwealth, and also by other nations. However, before dealing with the results which have accrued from that Conference, I wish to make a few preliminary remarks concerning the events which led to the holding of the Conference. It will be remembered that it was claimed here and in other parts of the world that, in consequence of Great Britain and Japan having notified that they had become signatories to the League of Nations, the Anglo- Japanese Treaty no longer existed; and consequently there was a disposition on thepart of public men in Australia, in America, and elsewhere, to create an atmosphere which, had it been permitted to continue, must have led to further wars. It was constantly contended that since the Anglo-Japanese Treaty no longer existed-
– Japan always contended that the Treaty did exist.
– I am aware of that, and I shall put that view a little later. It was contended by those to whom I have just referred that, as the Treaty no longer existed, Japan, in view of her population of about 50,000,000 people and her limited area, would be compelled to look elsewhere to settle her people, and that as her natural line of expansion would be in the Pacific, where Australia had possessions and had been given a mandate by the League of Nations, there was a danger that the Commonwealth might be involved in further complications. This atmosphere, which, as I have said, was created by certain statements of public men, had a tendency to cause the nations bordering on the Pacific to prepare for further hostilities. The Commonwealth was preparing to spend more money on defence than it could possibly afford, in view of the great load of taxation it was obliged to carry in consequence of the recent war.
– Of course, the honorable member is aware that before the Imperial Conference disbanded that point was set at rest, and it was agreed by both parties, Great Britain and Japan, that the Treaty had not been terminated.
– The right honorable gentleman is merely forestalling what I was about to say. I am giving a brief history of the position which existed prior to the holding of the Washington Conference. The outcome of the happenings I have described wasthe holding of an Imperial Conference. Prior to the departure of our Prime Minister to represent Australia at that Conference, he gave us to understand that in view of the AngloJapanese Treaty having lapsed he would use his utmost endeavours to have a Treaty drawn up between Great Britain, America, Japan, and the Dominions. The Imperial Conference was held, and it was found that Japan maintained that the Anglo-Japanese Treaty had not ceased to exist. She contended that the step taken by Great Britain and herself in becoming signatories to the League of Nations had in no sense infringed Article 6 of the Treaty. The Lord Chancellor, Lord Birkenhead, to whom the matter, waa referred, gave it as his opinion that the Anglo-Japanese Treaty was still in existence, thus removing any danger that might have existed in regard to the Pacific problem, and showing that we were not justified in spending additional money on defence on the ground that Japan might be an aggressor in these waters. Honorable members thereupon endeavoured in this Chamber to have the expenditure upon defence cut down by a considerable amount. We said that we did not consider there was any danger in doing so, that if public men propounded the theory of the likelihood of danger, it must lead to future war, and that, in view of the devastation caused by the previous world-wide war, all should be using their greatest efforts to maintain peace. It was pleasing to us to realize that the spirit which had been engendered in Australia had no justification, and that the AngloJapanese Treaty was still in existence. However, at the Imperial Conference, the proposal for which our Prime Minister was sponsor was put forward, that prior to the Conference which the President of the United States of America had called, there should be another Conference between representatives of the Powers concerned for the purr pose of drawing up ‘ a further Treaty, which would embrace America, as well as Great Britain and Japan. The President of the United States of America did not accede to this proposal. From that time on until the matter was debated in this House, and prominence was given to the question of representation at the Washington .Conference by action taken by honorable members of the Opposition in conjunction with other honorable members, together with assistance from the public press, there was very little disposition on the part of the Commonwealth to bother about the proposed Conference, since the Government did not think it would count for much, and were prepared to continue to live in an atmosphere of war. However, very soon, after the debate in this House, we were pleased to hear that the door stood wide open for the representation of Australia at the Washington Conference.
The Prime Minister has said that the outcome of the Conference exceeded the most sanguine expectations of those who were in favour of it. I think that the Conference could have gone much further. It has certainly rendered good service to the world, and achieved something which will be of considerable assistance, not only to Australia, but also to the other nations. I refer to the limitation of naval armaments. This was agreed to under what is known as the Quadruple Treaty, which sets out exactly the number of capital ships each nation is permitted « to have. Great Britain is to have fifteen capital ships, with a limitation of 525,000 tons; America fifteen capital ships, with a limitation of 525,000 tons; Japan, nine capital ships, with a limitation of 315,000’ tons; Italy, five capital ships, with a limitation of 175,000 tons; and France, five capital ships, with a limitation of 175,000 tons. This has enabled us to reduce our defence expenditure to a very large’ extent. Not only have our costs been reduced in consequence of the general reduction of armaments, but we have also the advantage of feeling that during the next ten years at least we shall be safe from aggression on the part of any Pacific power. There is, therefore, noi need for us to spend vast sums upon military services.
I am very pleased that the Washington Conference was held, if only for the reason that it has put an end to mad competition in preparation for further wars. But there were certain problems dealt with which cannot be said to have been successfully solved. I appreciate the difficulties which beset the representatives of the nations at such a gathering, and can understand the disappointment of the many over the stubbornness of a few upon a subject of world-wide interest. I have in’ mind the proposal for the abolition of submarines. During the war the world waa aghast at the dreadful deeds of submarines. Germany was solely responsible. Innocent women and children were sent to their doom without warnsing. War is always barbarous^, but Germany’s submarine warfare was the most dreadful of all. Though the British delegates urged . the abolition of submarines, the Conference was unable to reach unanimity. But, while the use of submarines is still permitted, conditions have been laid down which should prevent a repetition of the past barbarities of sea warfare. Submarine horrors involving non-combatants and innocent women and children will never again be inflicted if future belligerent powers will agree to observe the conditions drawn up at Washington. I have wy doubts upon that matter, but, at any rate, it has been laid down that before a ship is torpedoed she must be called upon to stop, and examined for contraband and war-like material generally, and all on board must be removed to safety before the vessel is fired upon and sunk. All the people of the world are now against war.
– And yet they fight.
– They will continue to fight unless their representative men want peace, and determine to keep it. It is not the mass of the people who precipitate and make war; almost, always a few individuals are responsible. I was surprised, as well aa disappointed, that the Washington Conference should not have agreed upon the abolition of _ the submarine. It appears that provision is actually being made now by certain nations to extend the use of these underwater craft. It is a matter for some satisfaction that the British delegates stood out strongly for abolition.
– And the American representatives also.
– It was chiefly the French who opposed the proposal.
– I am disappointed also with respect to the limitation of tine use of aircraft. Air ships and aeroplanes played a very prominent part in the Great War ; and, like the submarines, they were introduced for the first time as fighting units. We remember with what horror we read of the German airship »nd aeroplane raids on Great Britain, and learned how the lives of many defenceless people were destroyed by bombs from% the air. It is almost unbelievable that the Conference should have disagreed upon the matter of the abolition of aircraft in warfare. The delegates could not come to any satisfactory conclusion. The ex cuse offered was that it. waa not practicable to impose limitations upon military aviation, for the reason’ that such, imposition might interfere with civil aerial progress. The subject-matter, generally, was referred to a further Conference. I cannot appreciate the reasons advanced by the Conference in this respect, nor accept ‘them as adequate. What has the making of war to do with the advancement of civil aviation? The great purpose of aircraft in war is the destruction of life and property. On the civil side, however, aviation is a tremendous factor for national development. I do not know exactly why the Conference should have failed to agree, but there is something very significant in the following cablegram published in to-day’s press: -
Fokker, the Dutch designer of the German warplane, has arrived from America, where ho is organizing a great commercial aviation system. In an interview he declared that air attacks in future wars would bo on a stupendous scale of destructiveness, and he did. not think it possible for any defence to keep every air fleet away. The best defence would be the strongest air fleet capable of destroying enemy bombers’ bases. He believed that aviation would ultimately replace artillery, and pointed out that the poison gas-carrying aero-
J Hanes which were likely to be used to attack large cities, would develop awful powers.
This great designer of the German fighting machines has been engaged in America, it appears, in organizing commercial aviation; but the disquieting feature is that he speaks of the linking up of such interests with ‘aviation in time of war. I do not know whether we are not spending money unnecessarily upon our aerial services. The Treasurer (Mr. Bruce), in the course of his financial statement a month ago, pointed out that the air services had. spent more than £52,000 over the estimated expenditure for the financial year. I have reason to believe that the whole of the overexpenditure was upon the military side of aviation, and that, on the civil side, there has not been spent even the whole of the sum voted by Parliament. If that is so, it shows that we are expending large sums of money on aviation for defence purposes. I take no exception to improving aviation for the assistance of settlers and the development of the country - for other than defence purposes. We cannot afford to go on spending large sums in the latter direction, and, therefore, I hope that this matter will be carefully considered by the responsible Minister.
No one can take much exception to the destruction of the war-ships. It is said that the rights of property should be preserved; but, in this instance, we lose nothing by the destruction of property, for it is of no use to the community.
– It cost the country a lot of money.
– Quite so ; but it is of no use to keep up property of a kind that will only result in costing us a great deal more money. If these ships could be used for any other purpose, well and good ; but I have nothing to say against the decision of the Conference to sink or destroy.
Another matter that came up was the use of poisonous gases in warfare; and it is a good thing to know that the Conference agreedthatit should be prohibited in the future. There was nothing more diabolical in the war than the use of these poisonous gases, and at the present time there are thousands of men, not only in this country, but throughoutthe world, who from its effects are practically ruined for life. We meet men constantly who are suffering from the results of the use of those gases, and it is sad to think that they can never be efficient men to follow their usual employment. We have, therefore, much to be thankful for in the decision of the Conference to abolishthe use of poisonous gases.
As to land armaments, the Conference accomplished, we might say, nothing, and so far as this question affects Australia, I do not intend to take up any time in discussingthe facts. There is an effort being made to see that China has equitable treatment in her trad© relations, and in that direction, I think, the Conference has accomplished much. I am prepared to admit, with the Prime Minister, that the Conference has achieved good work, and will be the means, at least, of bringing about a more serene atmosphere during the next ten years in the Pacific. At the expiration of that ten years, any nation may give notice–
– The nations will, perhaps, have more sense by that time.
– No penalty is incurred by a nation if it does break away from the agreement arrived at - we have to rely on the nations keeping faith. As the Prime Minister has said, the observance of these Treaties is a matter of moral force; but althoughthe arrangement, as far as it goes, meets with my approval, I do not wish the matter to rest there. I have urged from time to time since the war, and shall continue to do so, that we ought to do everything we possibly can to maintain peace. I am told, of course, thatwe cannot change the human race; but if we never make an effort we shall never accomplish anything. What we ought to do is to galvanize the League of Nations into life - every effort should be made to breathe the breath of life into that skeleton.
– It is not a skeleton.
– But it can be improved. Many people say that we cannot end war, that wars are capitalistic enterprises, and so forth, and our only method of procedure is on the lines of the League of Nations Covenant. I have notseen the report which the Prime Minister laid on the table to-day ; but my own opinion is that if the working men. threshed these questions out, so as to be better able to understand them, we should accomplish something. ,
– I wish to see the women take the question up.
– Quite so; I mean women as well as men, and public men, particularly, ought to direct their attention to the question. Unfortunately, the League is not getting that attention from some of our public men that it should. The influence of every public man should be directed to galvanizing the League of Nations into life. The Prime Minister told us that the Washington Conference had accomplished more than the League of Nations.But that is not to say that the League of Nations cannot accomplish more than the Washington Conference. Unless we use every ounce of influence we have in the direction of disarmament, we cannot hope to achieve much; and even if we cannot bring about total disarmament, we may be able to greatly limit the cost of defence. These are the directions in which,I think, we ought to move. It was the exPresident of the United States of America who proposed the formation of the League of Nations, and, unfortunately, the present President is not following in his footsteps. If, however, the American President and the people of that country could see their way to link up with the other powerful nations in the League, we might see some great results. We cannot refuse Germany or .any other country permission to come into the League if that League is to be a success. If we are bent on peace, we must have sufficient sincerity to permit every nation to come in and be represented; and unless, through the League of Nations, we can arrange for the punishment of any nation which breaks faith, we shall fail to prevent war. A union of the four nations of America, Great Britain, Japan, and France will not, of itself, prevent future wars; all nations must be linked up. Any one of these four nations might have a quarrel with any one of the nations outside that League, with war as the result. There must be a thorough understanding amongst all peoples throughout the world. If there is a breach of the League of Nations agreement the offending nation must be penalized by the other nations.
– That is the stumbling block.
– Exactly. No nation would set the League at defiance when it knew that all the other nations were prepared to penalize it. Our chief hope, as I have said before, lies in the galvanizing of the League of Nations into life. Some good has already been done, and it has relieved us considerably; and we can be further relieved if we use all our influence in the direction of making the League of Nations what it ought to be- a real entity. I think we have spent up to now something like £80,000 in this direction ; but it will be money well spent if every nation will show a real desire to bring about not only the limitation of armaments, but disarmament. As to the proposals made, I have nothing but words of eulogy for them.
..- This series of resolutions moved by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) in connexion with the Treaties agreed to at Washington are matters of very much more significance than they appear. The motions which place these Treaties before us for ratification indicate to me the permanency of the change in the internal relations in the British Commonwealth of Nations. That change has come for good or ill, and it seems to me that possibly it may be for ill. If it is necessary to have ratification of all Treaties in every independent Dominion, we may create a force which may ultimately lead to disruption within the Empire. There are some who think that this sense of responsibility is merely a new toy; but we- are now making ourselves responsible for Treaties, and that fact of itself shows our willingness to bear our share of the burden of defence, and that we must cease henceforth to “ sponge,” as it seems to me we are now doing to a large degree, on the Mother Country, for the defence of the continent. We henceforth take our full share in the defence of the Empire. At the Imperial Conference the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) said that he believed that the Britian Navy was essentially the first line of defence, and that our contribution to that first line of defence must take the form of a Dominion Navy. Last year we budgeted to spend £2,340,000 on naval defence, whereas Great Britain budgeted for £S2,000,000 in respect of her full share. When I hear others boast about our taxation being less per head than that of the Old Country I feel rather ashamed of the fact that while we pay only £13 per head by way of taxation, as against £24 per head paid in Great Britain, we leave the people there to carry a burden something like forty times as great as our own in respect of this matter of naval defence.
– Does the honorable member think that our taxation should be increased to meet naval requirements?
-Our contribution to the naval defence of the Empireshould be commensurate with our weight and influence as one of the Dominions of the Empire.
If we are to continue to take part in the foreign affairs of the Empire, we need some machinery very much better than we have to inform ourselves of what is actually taking place. The best course to follow, it seems to me, would be to secure the establishment of a Committee of this Parliament - a Committee of External or Imperial Relations - consisting of members of all parties, which would be enabled to keep itself fully informed of what is happening in the Old Country, as well as in the other Dominions. Ifr would thus be in a position to make public pronouncements, and so keep public opinion in the Commonwealth practically the same as it is in all the other Dominions. Last year I made a suggestion with regard to our external representation. There certainly must be some better method than we have at present of keeping ourselves fully informed of what is going on.
This motion deals with the Quadruple Treaty, which is the first practical result of the Washington Conference, and may be taken to be practically the sura of its achievements. Without this Quadruple Treaty there could have been no Five Power Treaty in regard to the limitation of armaments, nor would it have been likely that any agreement could have been arrived at in regard to the Far Eastern problem. But for it there could have been no Five Power Treaty regarding the limitation of armaments, no Far Eastern Treaty, nor any Nine .Power Treaty regarding China. As the Prime Minister has said, the Conference marks an epoch in the world’s history. It was called at a time when, the clouds looked black. There was in progress between the United States of America and Japan a- competitive race in respect to naval construction, the inevitable result of which must have been war. The Conference was completely successful in its immediate object. President Harding called it together to -
Find a satisfactory basis for an agreement as to limitation of armaments, and With an earnest desire that an interchange of views at a Conference might find a solution of the Pacific and Far Eastern problems.
I think that a solution. - not a permanent, but a temporary solution - of these two problems has been found. A permanent solution of the Pacific problem, in my opinion, can never be found without taking Russia into account, nor can any lasting settlement of the Far Eastern question, and that relating to the position of China, be secured without the agreement and consent of Russia. Although, as was to be expected from its position, the Conference has failed to find a permanent solution of the Pacific and Far Eastern problems, it has found one that will be effective for ten years. It has converted a competitive rivalry in naval construction between the United States of America and Jo-pan, which was fraught with big possibilities of war, into a Treaty,
Article 2 of which provides for frank communication between the Powers in the event of the rights of any of them being threatened by the aggressive action of any other Power. That such a result was possible was due to the atmosphere created at the very beginning of the Conference by the memorable and striking pronouncement of Mr. Charles E. Hughes, Secretary of State for the United States of America, and to- the continuance of that’ atmosphere as the result of the outstanding qualities of the leader of the British Delegation, at that time the Right Hon. A. J. Balfour, and now Earl Balfour. Earl Balfour crowned a long life spent in the public service of the British Empire with this great service to humanity at large. The Empire was undoubtedly fortunate in having this great statesman available to take part in the mission to the United States of America. Earl Balfour has proved himself persona grata in many Continental countries, and in America no Englishman has created a better reputation or has been more favorably received. I was in the United States of America during part of the year 1917, when Earl Balfour was there, and can say that his reception was quite as good as that given to any members of the French Delegation, although at the time France was “ well in the boom.” Then, again, the expert assistance that the British Delegation had at hand was undoubtedly of a very high order. It seems to be the unanimous opinion of those qualified to judge that, as Senator Pearce mentions in his report, the Conference was very much indebted to that expert assistance for the accurate and reliable data that was always at hand.
Although there is no element of doubt regarding the position of the British representatives at the Conference, I think that this House is entitled to a much clearer expression of opinion than it has yet had as to what was the exact status of the Dominion representatives. Senator Pearce, in his report, states -
I was selected by the Government as the representative of the Commonwealth of Australia, and thereupon the Governor-General, with the advice of the Federal Executive Council, prayed His Majesty to issue to me Letters Patent, nominating and appointing me as His representative in respect of the Commonwealth of Australia at the Conference. The King, on the 24th day of October, 1921, by Letters Patent under the Great Seal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, issued to me a full power, appointing me Commissioner, Procurator, and Plenipotentiary in respect of the Commonwealth of Australia.Except that it is limited to the Commonwealth of Australia, it is identical with the full powers issued to the British representatives from the United Kingdom.
The full text of the Letters Patentis given in Appendix A of the report furnished by Senator Pearce. If there was thus a grant of full power as the document, on the face of it, seems to suggest, then this Parliament has not received full information regarding the status and position of its representative. When we look abroad we find that very much more information has been given in the other Dominion Parliaments than has ever been furnished to this House. On the return of the Prime Minister from Great Britain last year I pointed out that we were not receiving that information to which we were entitled in regard to the Imperial Conference. In Canada there has been a publication not merely of the Prime Minister’s speech, and of a White Book; but there has also been presented to the Canadian Parliament a verbatim report of the whole of the proceedings of the last Imperial Conference. This, by the way, is said to differ very materially in many respects from the paper which was laid on the table of this House. So far as I can gather, the position, as put before us by the Prime Minister in October last, was - l.That the Dominions had not been directly invited by the United States of America.
This latter statement is borne out by a cablegram from Mr. Lloyd George to Mr. Hughes, which the Prime Minister read inthis House last session -
I am very anxiousthatthe stand-point of Australia and New Zealand should be well represented on the British Empiredelegation at the Washington Conference. Your personal presence is, in my opinion, highly desirable, and I urge you to go if byany means possible. Failing this, a singledelegate may serve as representative ofboth 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.
The Government, so far as I could gather at the time, sent Senator Pearce to Washington, not as a special representative of Australia, with a seat in the Conference, but as part and parcel of the British Empire delegation, his duty being to represent the Australian view on that delegation. So far as I can ascertain, our information ceases at this point. I have carefully looked through the speech made by Senator Pearce, in another place, with respect tothe Washington Conference, and I find that he makes no reference to this phase ofthe subject. The Prime Minister,when speaking in the House last week, made a very brief and cursory reference to the position. That reference as itstands is quite ambiguous, but I hope that, before the debate closes,he will enlarge upon it, and let us know the exact position. The right honorable gentleman, in submitting this motion, said -
The Imperial Conference understood that the United States of America Government would not favour an invitation being extended to representatives of the overseas Dominions. But, happily, as the result of diplomatic conversations, this difficulty was overcome, and the British Empire Delegation included representatives of the overseas Dominions, who went to the Conference as representatives of His Majesty the King, and sat at the Conference on a footing of absolute equality with the representatives of the United Kingdom.
I should like the right honorable gentleman to say whether that means that these delegates went to the Conference with the same right to discuss and vote as was enjoyed by any other member of the British delegation, or whether, as we understood last year, there were simply to be three delegates with voting and delegate powers, and that the representatives of the Dominions were simply to be consultative members of the delegation.
– They were the six representatives of one country, which country is made upof many countries. Australia is one of those countries.
– Was our position finally at the Washington Conference exactly the same as it was at the Peace negotiations in Paris?
– Yes; in each case we were there as His Majesty’s representatives, and in each case we were thereas His Majesty’s representatives upon the recommendation of the Prime Minister of
Great Britain, who submitted’ to His Majesty the names of the representatives of the British Empire. That was the constitutional procedure.
– I take it that that was quite a different position from what was anticipated when the Prime Minister in this House, last October, dealt with the representation of Australia at the Conference.
– It was anticipated then that the representation of the Dominions would involve something more than representation of the Empire as a unit, and therefore the United States of America was disinclined to recognise anything more than the unit, thatis to say, the Empire.
– I should like to be clear on this matter because, inits issue of 13th July last, the Sydney Morning Herald, in a leading article, prac tically denied that Australia had any independent representation as atParis. It specifically denied the position asjust stated by the Prime Minister.
– I am stating the official position.
– I am aware that what the Prime Minister is now saying is absolutely correct.. I want to show exactly the position in Canada, and to emphasize the necessity for far more publicity and frankness in regard to the whole question of Imperial negotiations, so that public opinion in the Commonwealth will be able to keep abreast of public opinion in all the other Dominions. As the bond which holds the Empire together is essentially a sentimental one, we run much danger of being misunderstood in other parts of the Empire, and ultimately disruption may be brought about unless the fullest publicity is given to the position in each part of the Empire.
– It was the same at the Paris Conference. We had many opinions amongst ourselves, but finally one opinion prevailed, and Mr. Lloyd George pre- sented it.
– Yet, on 13th July, the Sydney Morning Herald specifically denied that that was so, but, as the Prime Minister has said, that contention is contrary to fact. In’ order to show that, although this is not understood in Australia, it is perfectly understood in Canada, I shall quote from a report of a debate which took place in the Canadian
House of Commons late in April and early in May. The question was first raised during the debate on the AddressinReply, and a charge was brought against the Prime Minister of Canada that he had not fought for the separate representation of Canada at Washington such as was ultimately obtained. I wish to put this report on record in Hansard, so that there may be no element of doubt regarding what took place in Canada, especially as it outlines the exact sequence of events -
Ottawa. May 1. - Correspondence tabled in the House by Premier King this afternoon with regard to the appointment of Sir Robert Borden to attend the recent Disarmament Conference in Washington goes far to clear up a controversy between the Premier and the Right Hon. Arthur Meighen, which during the present session has led to some decidedly heated passages. During the debate on the address. Mr. Meighen vehemently denied that he wasa party to any arrangement at the Imperial Conference of Premiers, held in London last summer, that Canada should be represented at Washington merely by a delegation appointed by the British Government. and taking its directions from the British Government. “ Nor,” said Mr. Meighen, “ was such an arrangement arrived at while I was a member of the Conference. Our negotiations took place in this regard by correspondence, and from the first I insistedthat we should have our delegate, and thatthat delegate should take his instructions from us.” Mr. Meighen’s denial was in reply to an alleged statement of the British Prime Minister to this effect : “ As regards the Dominions and India, it was arranged at the recent Imperial Conference that His Majesty’s Government should represent the whole of the Empire at Washington.”
It is well established that ex-Premier Meighen and General Smuts left the Imperial Conference before the matter was decided, and it is hinted that thereafter certainDominion delegates were induced to accept the principle that Great Britain, would . represent the Empire at the Washington Conference, but the correspondence does not clearly bear out the contention of Mr. Meighen that, in the correspondence which followed, he insisted from the first that Canada should elect her own delegate, and that delegate should take his instructions “ from us.”
The outstanding fact contained in the corre spondence brought down to- day is that to General Smuts, of South Africa, Canada is indebted for her representation and defined status atthe Disarmament Conference. The correspondence shows that General Smuts, who left at the same time as Premier Meighen, did flatly and abruptly decline to accept the status of the Dominion as at first laid down by the British Foreign Office. It shows, further, that he firmly advised Mr. Meighen that Canada should take a similar stand.
Mr. Meighen was contemplating a general election about that time; that is probably some excuse for the fact that he did not take the advice of the South African Premier, but instead concurred in the proposal to have “ the Canadian viewpoint,” looked after by a delegate on the British panel in the person of Sir Robert Borden. In the meantime, however, the British authorities, having also been cabled to by General Smuts, decided that it were better to accede to the letter’s request. Mr. Meighen was duly notified to this effect. The consequence was, that Sir Robert went to Washington, not as a simple delegate on the British panel, but as a “ Commissioner and plenipotentiary in respect of the Dominion of Canada, with full power and authority to conclude treaties, conventions, and agreements.”
The correspondence is highly interesting in view of the almost incessant clashes which occur in the Commons with regard to varying views of Canada’s status as a nation.
On August 27 last, in. a private and personal message to Lloyd George, Mr. Meighen said he was “ most anxious to know the method by which it is proposed to provide for representation of Canada on the British Empire delegation.” A reply was received to this which was not illuminating, but the formal invitation from Washington invites “ the Government of Great Britain to participate in a conference on the subject of limitation of armaments.” No mention was made in this invitation of the overseas Dominions. On August 19, Lord Curzon, then Foreign Secretary, accepted the invitation “ onbehalf of His Majesty’s Government,” and still there was no mention of the Dominions. On October 3, Lloyd George cabled Mr. Meighen in part : “I am most anxious for standpoint of Canada to be well represented on British Empire delegation at approaching conference in Washington.” On the same day Mr. Meighen cabled : “I desire to nominate Sir Robert Bordenas member of the British Empire delegation.” No word of Canada.
In a cabled explanation the same day Mr. Lloyd George told Mr. Meighen : “ It was arranged at the recent Imperial Conference that His Majesty’s Government should represent the whole Empire at Washington. While quite prepared to represent the Dominions, His Majesty’s Government would prefer the British delegation to send men with special knowledge of Canadian, Australasian, and Indian points of view.”
Then on October 19, General Smuts took a hand. He cabled direct to Premier Meig. hen from Pretoria, his protest, which reads : “ I notice from press that you are sending representative to Washington Conference. I do not know whether you have received invitation from United States through British Government or otherwise. Would very strongly urgethat you should pressfor such invitation before sending delegate. United States did. not ratify Peace Treaty to which we are signatories as component independent States of British Empire. On the contrary, agitation in Congress against our independent voting power in League of Nations was direct challenge to new Dominion status. This is first great international Conference after Paris, and if Dominions concerned are not invited and yet attend bad precedent will be set and Dominion status will suffer. If a stand is made now and America acquiesces our equal status is finally won.” General Smuts sent the same cable to Lloyd George.
The latter cabled Premier Meighen on October 21, giving way to Smuts’ view. ‘ Part of the cable reads : “ I am completely in accord, of course, with his (Smuts) view that Dominion representatives should hold the same status as at Paris. Foreign Office proposes with your approval to submit to the King full powerfor each Dominion representative to sign only on behalf of his respective Dominion, in accordance with the precedent established at Paris. Under this procedure, signature of each Dominion delegate will be necessary, in addition to signature of British delegates, to commit British Empire delegation as a whole to any agreement made at the Conference, and any Dominion delegate can, if he wishes, reserve assent on behalf of his Government.”
In the meantime Canadian Privy Council minute of October 22 says : “ It has been arranged that a representative of Canada should be appointed as a member of the delegation which” will represent the British Empire at the Conference.””
On October 22, Mr. Meighen turned down the suggestion of General Smuts, cabling as follows : “ In view of the fact that the Conference is by invitation, brief time intervenes before meeting. Do not think possible that subject could be reviewed between London and Washington now to attain end you desire.”
Four days later Mr. Meighen, as Prime Minister, cabled Lloyd George accepting the revised views which came about by the pressure of General Smuts. This cable reads : “ With reference to your telegram October 21, respecting position of Dominion representatives at Washington Conference. In the circumstances to which you allude we agree to proposed procedure. In accordance therewith minute of council will be passed and transmitted as basis for issuance of full powers to representative of Canada. Essential that Dominion representatives should bold same status as at Paris and that this status must not be allowed to be prejudiced by proceedings at Washington Conference.”
Before tabling the return to-day, Premier King offered to give the letter to Mr. Meighen so that he could take out any confidential matters should he so desire. Mr. Meighen retorted that such editing was a matter for the Government and the Government alone.H.E.M.C.
– That was rather a kaleidoscopic change on the part of the Canadian Prime Minister in four days.
– It was. Apparently the change took place on 19th October, and yet we have never been informed in this House of any difference between the status with which it was in- tended to send Senator Pearce to Washington, and that which he actually enjoyed. I remind the House that the concluding words of Mr. Lloyd George’s cablegram were -
Under this procedure signature of each Dominion delegate will be necessary, in addition to signature of British delegates, to commit British Empire delegation as a whole to any agreement made at the Conference, and any Dominion delegate can, ifhe wishes, reserve assent on behalf of his Government.
In view of that power of reservation, there is no question as to the responsibility this Parliament takes upon itself when it enters into an agreement of this nature, and it will have to stand up to that responsibility in full. In those circumstances, we should be informed fully as to what events transpired in connexion with the Washington Conference, and what was happening all through the negotiations. If I may condense the facts I have set out, the position is this: Both Mr. Meighen and General Smuts have vehemently denied that they were parties to any decision of the Imperial Conference that the British Government should represent the Dominions, and no evidence of any such decision appears in the verbatim report of the Conference. That report has been laid upon the table of the Canadian House of Commons, and has been available to members of the Canadian Parliament for months, but we in this Parliament have not had an opportunity of seeing it or ascertaining exactly where we stand in regard to this Conference and many other matters. The report of the Imperial Conference could not be more public on the table of this House than it is on the table of the Canadian House of Commons, and, therefore, there is no advantage gained by not making it available to honorable members.
– I may inform the honorable member that no report of the Imperial Conference, other than that which was distributed to the press, and was agreed upon, has been authorized to be published, except that relating to a debate on the importation of live cattle from Canada. I think the publication of that report was agreed to only about two or three weeks ago. Correspondence has been passing between the Imperial Government and the different Dominions in relation to this very matter, and it was definitely decided a fewweeks ago that nothing was to be published except that which we agreed upon.
– The Canadian report evidently goes further.
– Does it purport to be official ?
– It purports to quote from a verbatim report of the proceedings of the Imperial Conference.
– I feel sure that that cannot be so, otherwise the communications to which I have referred would not have passed between the different Governments. However, I shall look into the matter.
– I am certain that the Journal ofParliaments of the British Empiredoes state thatthat verbatim report was made available at the beginning of March in the Canadian Parliament.
– I fancy the reference must be to a report which was drawn up by the Conference, and which Mr. Lloyd George laid on the table of the House of Commons. That was the report which was agreed upon, and it became common property.
– But that was not a verbatim report.
– The article in the Winnipeg Free Press points out that there are various discrepancies between the published White Paper and. the verbatim report.
– I shall note what the honorable member has said, and look into the matter, and shall make a statement if thefacts are not as I have said.
– Continuing my summary, Mr. Meighen and General Smuts say that they were not a party to any decision. to be represented at Washington in the way first decided upon, and later departed from. General Smuts learned of this reported decision, and was instrumental in having it altered, and the Paris precedent reverted to. And as a result, the representatives of the various Dominions held the same status at Washington as they had held at Paris.
– Does the honorable member quite understand what I meant? The status we had at Paris and Washington was this: The Empire was represented as such ; we were all representatives of the King. We were linked together by another fact - that the Prime Minister of Great Britain recommended the name ‘ of each one of us to His Majesty, and His Majesty accepted those nominations, so that we went as representatives of the Empire, each being allotted to a different portion of the Empire.
– That is so, as set out in the letters patent.
– The status of the Dominions’ representatives at Washington, was greater than that of the Dominions’ representatives at Paris, inasmuch, as at Washington they were present all the time, whereas at Paris they were not.
– The whole delegation was present at all plenary Conferences at Paris. The other Conferences at which the whole delegation was not present would be equivalent to the subsidiary Conferences at Washington, at which only Mr. Balfour, Mr. Hughes, and Baron Kato and others were present.
Df. EARLE PAGE. - The point I wish to make is that the objection taken by the Government of the United States of America to the League of Nations by reason of the inclusion of the British Dominions has apparently now been overcome, inasmuch as the Dominions’ representatives as such appeared, at Washington, and were accepted with full status.
– lt is very difficult for foreign nations to understand how it is we all claim autonomy and yet all claim to be one.
– It is also difficult for us to know how that principle will work out in the event, of disagreement.
– Yes, by reason of the very fact that the future of the Empire is endangered unless our position is properly defined, or public opinion in each Dominion is kept apprised of public opinion in other portions of the Empire.
– Suppose one plenipotentiary does not agree or one Parliament does not agree, what will be the position ?
– It is perfectly clear that we may have all sorts of rows among ourselves, but to the outside world we must speak as one body.
– We may have four Dominions signing without any difficulty and the fifth disagreeing. What will be the position of that fifth Dominion ?
– “ As also there are not three incomprehensibles . . . but
– What is necessary is that there should be the fullest publicity .of the whole of the proceedings between, the representatives of the various Dominions at any conferences My complaint is that we have not available in Australia the information that was available many months ago in Canada. If we are to get this information it should be given to us as nearly as possible at that time when the matter is agitating the public mind; otherwise, when it does come to hand, it may not influence public sentiment as it should.
– What information has not been made available?
– A great deal regarding the appointment of our plenipotentiary at the Washington Conference-.
– The honorable member does not appreciate the different atmosphere in Canada. In that country there is a suspicion of subservience to Great Britain’ that must be met. Here we are all of one race, and we all have one idea, in the main.
– Those are cogent reasons for giving the fullest possible publicity to- the proceedings- to which I have referred, and I urge the Prime Minister to see that all cablegrams and documents are made available to honorable members,, and that a completereport of the . Conference proceedings is supplied at- the earliest possible moment. No matter what information is given or denied to. thepublic, it is essential that all representatives of the people in the various Parliaments of the Dominions should have a grasp of the real position.. Otherwise there will be no opportunity of creating’ that Empire public opinion which is so necessary for the stability and permanence of the Empire. The Prime Minister in. his reply, I hope, will deal with this matter much more fully than he did in his remarks last week, when he said -
The British Empire Delegation in eluded representatives of the Overseas Dominions who went to the Conference as representatives of His Majesty the King, and sat at the Conference on a footing of absolute equality with the representatives of the United Kingdom. indicating that we .must be satisfied with this information by way of preface. We shall get into deep water unless we take soundings. Therefore, I urge the necessity for the appointment of a Committee of External Affairs chosen from honorable members of both Houses of this Parliament. Such a Committee could always be au fait with what is taking place in other Dominions, and its members should be able to take part in any debate in this Chamber so that they might keep other honorable members in touch with what was being done elsewhere.
– The honorable member has not mentioned the word “ Empire “ for some time.
– The Empire is good enough for me. I do not mind using “ Empire.” every few words, because the British Empire is easily the greatest factor that civilization has ever had.
– What about the people who make the Empire?
– The best hope for the people who make the Empire and the best hope for the future of the world lies in the fact that the two democratic nations of the world - Great Britain and America - have at last joined hands in a rapprochement which, we hope, will last for the next century, and enable that development to take place in the British Dominions which has been brought about in America under the operation of the Monroe Doctrine.
Before the Washington . Conference, America and Japan were feverishly build.ing huge fleets in competitive rivalry. As a result of the Conference they have been induced. not merely to cease building, but also to become, not actually allies, but associated in such a way that whenever the-‘r rights in any patricular place are attacked they will nave a frank discussion with one another. They will be brought into an atmosphere in which they can debate their differences freely and frankly. Every one knows that if one’s differences can be discussed freely and frankly they are minimized, and often disappear. I am sure that if there had been such an arrangement for. a free and frank discussion of European difficulties ten or fifteen years before the Great War took place, that is ito say, if there had been the same rapprochement between the big Empires of Europe, we might have been spared the terrible war through which the world has just passed. I do not regard the Washington Conference as being in any sense antagonistic to the League of Nations, because, no matter how great the latter may become - everyone admits that it is not functioning as well as it might at present - there will always be need for special regional conferences between the Powers, which can best be dealt with by the parties immediately affected. I feel that in regard to the Pacific, unless these preliminaries could have been properly adjusted, there could never have been any diminution in the race for increased armaments between Japan and America. The great difficulty in the way of an Anglo-American arrangement was undoubtedly the existence of the Anglo-Japanese Treaty, and the suspicion and dislike of that Treaty displayed by the people of, America. Before our Prime Minister left Australia to attend the Imperial Conference, he made a speech which was indorsed practically by the whole of the people of Australia, and in which he expressed the desire, on behalf of Australia, that the AngloJapanese Treaty might be modified in such a form as to include America or any other Pacific Power that would care to enter into it. That we were anxious to achieve this object is shown in the exception in the Arbitration Treaty of 1914 effected between the United States of America ami Great Britain, making it apply to Article 4 of the Anglo- J apanese Treaty of 1911. As the result of the Conference at Washington we have a satisfactory arrangement, whereby not merely has America been able to come to an understanding with Japan and the British Empire, but the other Pacific Power, France, has been able to come to terms, and has been included in the Quadruple Treaty.
The most satisfactory feature of this Treaty is the fact that it has completely altered the relations of the two great branches of the English-speaking race - the United States of America and the British Empire. That rapprochement, it seems to me, is the best guarantee we have for the future peace of the world. The old trouble between these two countries was fomented by the unhealed Irish sore and by German propaganda. During the war, books, such as that written by Owen Wister, undoubtedly tended to remove a great deal of the old prejudice which existed towards Great Britain, by putting American history in its true light. I have in my possession an American school text-book in which many of the early events of American history were given in a grossly distorted form to the American child, causing him to grow up with prejudice against the people of the British Empire. The position was improved by the visit of Mr. Balfour to America in .1.917. Now these two great countries have been united in a Treaty whereby they agree to discuss their differences in a most frank and candid fashion, and under which combined they will have a proportion of ten capital ships as against those held by the rest of the world - at the present time of seven. In the Anglo-American naval supremacy, I repeat, lies the greatest hope for the future peace of the world. It is only natural that these two great countries should combine in this fashion, because their attitude has been the same throughout almost the whole of the last century. The earliest excursion of the American to extra-territorial waters for any distance was in an endeavour to quell the Barbary pirates in the Mediterranean, and the British fleet has undoubtedly rid all the seas of the world of pirates, rendering the oceans open to the navigation of every nation. America’s attitude . towards its colonial possessions has been the very same as ours. America’s idea in regard to the people of the Philippines has been to encourage them to reach a state in which they will be fitted for self-government. Great Britain has endeavoured to encourage all her Dominions to so develop that they shall be fitted: to take possession of their own affairs, and, although it may be urged that, in this process, the Dominions have not only achieved selfgovernment, but have been able to assist her trade and commerce, who will say that that is not merely al fitting reward ? There is no reason why the ox should be muzzled while treading out the corn.
I support the ratification of the Quadruple Treaty, because, in the first place, there will now be less likelihood of future naval wars. There are distinctly lessened possibilities of conflict between the na- tiona because, now, they can find meeting grounds for the friendly discussion of all points at issue. There is also the tremendous factor that this Treaty will have rendered possible the limitation of armaments. The most important clause of the Treaty - Article 2 - provides for frank communication between the various Powers in the event of the rights of any of them being threatened by aggressive action. Ratification is provided for by all Parliaments, and that ratification brings the Anglo-Japanese Alliance to an end in a dignified fashion and without any question of injury to the feelings of any Power. The Treaty is to hold good for ten years - breathing time, at least - and there is to be twelve months’ notice of intention to denounce it. While it brings to an end the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, the friendly relations between the two nations - Great Britain and Japan - are not to be broken.
– Does the honorable member agree that this Treaty will bring the Anglo- Japanese Alliance to an end?
– When it is ratified, it will automatically do so; the Quadruple Treaty will supersede that Alliance. The reduction of naval armaments appears to have been brought about and agreed upon in a manner satisfactory, at any rate, to Great Britain and the United States of America. These two nations together will be superior to the rest of the world. It is only fair that America should now, and: during the next century, bear some of the burdens which Great Britain has carried in the name of civilization during the past century. The agreement with respect to limitation of armaments now makes the two great English-speaking peoples responsible, jointly, for the peace df the world,, as distinct from the peace of Europe. The limitation is such as is bound to make for the great advancement of all the nations. It must very materially assist the development of undeveloped countries such as our own. The cost of one capital ship, when the money involved is turned to the development of a land like Australia, must be an immense factor. It would be equivalent to the cost of many miles of developmental railway, to the endowment of Universities, to the installation of hydro-electric plants, and the extension of telephonicand allied facilities in country districts.
With respect to submarines, I can appreciate the attitude of France. I think that, perceiving acutely the position of that country and people, her delegates at the Conference were only reasonable in adopting and maintaining the attitude which they did. France must have some means -of keeping free and open her way to Africa.
As for the laws governing the uSe of submarines, I fear that rules of warfare will always be as they have been in the past. That is to say, they will have been framed only to be broken when a nation has its back against the wall.
– They will be strictly kept in times of peace.
– Just so. But one factor for good may come of the framing of such rules as were advanced at the Conference; that is to say, they may help to create a world opinion which, during time of war, should, at any rate, mitigate the ferocity of submarine aggression.
With respect to aircraft, one sees at once the impossibility of limitation. Respecting this line of defence, however, we a should recognise the necessity for encouraging the Australian manufacture of aircraft. Flying machines are indispensable. If we are to defend ourselves, we should do all that may be done to encourage to the ‘ utmost civil aviation. Thus will we stimulate the training of pilots and the establishment and development of factories to turn out machines and make repairs in the unhappy event of further warfare. Possibly, one reason why the nations displayed such readiness to forego the building of capital ships lay in the .shrewd suspicion that the next war will be decided, not on the land or in the water, but in the air.
As for the limitation of land armaments, surely no one believes that there could be brought about any reduction of armies in the light of the present conditions of Europe. But I think that, eventually, the nations should bo just as capable of coming to a common state of mind whereby land armaments may be reduced as in the matter of naval armaments. The way in which to reach this objective should be along the line of creating a world-wide moral atmosphere. The peoples are sick of being taxed merely for the .purposes of killing and being killed.
As another outcome of the Washington Conference, it appears that China is at last about to be given a fairer deal, although she will not be getting anything like that to which she is -entitled. Indeed, the substance of the Treaty, as it bears upon China, does not measure up to the grandiloquent character of its opening phrases concerning sovereignty and the rights of self-government. For example, there are the stipulations -with respect to the amount of Customs duties which China may enforce. So long as outside powers can control a nation’s Customs policy, its people cannot be said to possess a very great measure of governmental independence.
The subject of insular possessions provides for Japan, really, a very definite victory. That country will be the only nation near enough to China to have a fortified Naval Base of any value, thus being placed in a very strong strategical position. .
As for Australia, our position has been materially altered by the decision in respect of naval armaments. Our own Navy is our first line of defence. It was one of which we had some reason to be proud, seven or eight years ago; but now we possess merely a truncated remnant. We have only three cruisers and a few. other small units. Australia, though a great continent, is still an island; and, therefore, she must rely for her first line of defence upon the Navy. But to-day we have drifted into a situation which is truly Gilbertian. We should endeavour to attract to our Naval Force the finest brains and the best talent developing in tho community; but no one nowadays would recommend his boy to enter a Navy in which, after thirty or forty years’ service, he might hope, at best, to be given charge of a cruiser. We should very ‘ seriously consider the question of our contribution to the Naval defence of the Empire. If we are not going to undertake expenditure in the provision of actual ships, or in direct contribution to the Imperial Navy, we should still spend the equivalent upon another strong line of defence, namely, the encouragement and development of immigration. Our contribution should be employed in the provision of means for the definite settlement of immigrants, for our best line of future defence must be our own population.
I trust, especially, that the outcome of this debate will be to lift the con.sideration of our -Imperial and external policies above the party arena. With the ratification of these Treaties we should recognise the necessity for laying down, some firm and constant policy regarding the Imperial connexion and our outlook upon external affairs - a policy, I emphasize, which should be stable, no matter what may be the changing fortunes of politicians and parties. Irrespective of the genera! political views of the. party in power, there should be an unbroken effort to develop a tradition for Australia respecting Imperial and external relationships. One factor which would assist in bringing about such a state of affairs would be the establishment of a permanent committee,, drawn from both the Federal Houses, upon Imperial and external affairs.
– We have enough to do to look after our own affairs.
– Surely, in a Parliament comprising 111 representative men whose first interest, naturally is the promotion of the welfare of Australia, there could be ‘ selected seven to eleven members who could be given the responsible task., while maintaining their touch with the affairs of the Commonwealth itself, of directing their outlook upon the welfare of the Empire as a whole. and of civilization generally. For the best interests of Australia are bound up with the maintenance of the Imperial connexion, and in taking our proper place as an independent unit of that Empire in the affairs of the world. Our very national existence depends upon this: and, in order to make ourselves secure, it is essential that our people should be provided with the fullest information. Only by such means will it be possible to keep alive the sentimental bond of Empire. It is necessary that all the people and all parties should be able to exercise a right and proper view-point upon great public matters. This can be provided only by the dissemination of full and complete information covering the views and aspirations of every part of the British Empire, and, generally, of the peoples of the nations. The. spread of knowledge respecting our sister Dominions should be in the direction, not merely of such matters, as defence and constitutional status; we should get to know,, also, their resources and conditions of: life. Trade relationships should be fostered far more than can be said of* them at present. We. missed a great opportunity only recently - in relation to the sister Dominion of New Zealand - inthat we did not, while the Tariff debate was proceeding, maintain continual, intercommunication so that there might have been brought about a condition of affairs fully satisfactory both to New Zealand and ourselves. New- Zealand is close to us, geographically, compared with other British Dominions; and we have manifest points of similarity along the lines of production.
In conclusion, I would say that the Washington Conference has been very valuable from every point of view. In these Treaties there are to be found definite practical results. There has been created some degree, at least, of world, opinion, which should go to the making of better international understandings; so that war, in future, should be much more difficult of precipitation. The Empire is to be congratulated upon the results which have been achieved. The t fact of the limitation of naval armaments will relieve us of heavy financialburdens, and if the savings in respect of the construction of battleships, can be utilized in. the directions which I have already indicated - developmental and reproductive - there will have been achieved a vast amount of good. We shall have made the defence of the Empire a much more easy matter than it is at present. And Australia, instead of being one of the weakest links in the chain - the Achilles heel - will have become one of the Empire’s greatest bulwarks. The attitude of Great Britain and the selfgoverning Dominions at the Washington Conference was such that it maintained, throughout, the British tradition of magnanimity that is in> conformity with our Empire traditions, and the position it has held for the last hundred years as the most advanced leader of thought and freedom in the world.
– We should be very gratified, indeed, with the unanimity, which is hardly characteristic of the House, shown in the adoption of the various resolutions as sub-‘ m it ted by the Prime Minister (Mr.
Hughes). I venture to say that few events in history have been more pregnant with possibilities of fruitful achievement than the Washington Conference. The honorable gentleman (Dr. Earle Page) made a reference to the subject Of the representation of Australia at that Conference and at the Paris Conference. This is a matter that was arranged with consummate’ skill by the British Government. As a consequence of the war, the Dominions’ status has been changed - the relationship between the Mother Country and the Dominions has been radically altered. In 1917 the Prime Ministers, who had been made members of the Imperial Cabinet, formulated a document in which it was claimed that the several Dominions should have the right to separate representation at the Paris Conference. Some of these Prime Ministers, notably General Smuts and the Canadian Prime Minister, claimed that the. Dominions should be left to negotiate separately, even outside the Empire. I do not think, however, that these claims oan be seriously contemplated or considered, or that they mean exactly what was verbally said. The position is that we arc either within or without the Empire.;, if we are within the Empire it practically means: that, while we have our separate status, which entitles us to consultation as to the foreign policy of the Empire, and to consultation as to the formulation of -those matters of common interest to the Empire, yet not one of tho Dominions can fairly claim any representation outside the Empire.
– Then where is the radical change?
– Hitherto the practice had been for the British Government to itself settle the foreign policy of the Empire without consultation with the Dominions, and to deal with all external questions in relation to the Empire, no matter which Dominion was affected. The change lay in giving to the various Dominions the .separate right to consultation and to ^representation as Empire delegates. In dealing with the question of representation at the Paris Conference, it was recognised that outside nations looked on the British Empire as a unit, and ‘desired to treat it as a omit. Sub sequently the representatives whom we sent to the Paris Conference, in conjunction with Great Britain, were regarded^ as delegates of the British Empire - not the delegates of the United Kingdom or the Dominions alone, but the delegates of the British Empire. When it was determined by President Harding to call a Conference, -he refused to recognise the separate representation of the Dominions; but he treated the Empire as a unit. This was recognised by the British Government, and they followed the practice adopted in regard to the Paris Conference: that is, they held that, as the interests of the Empire were of a varied character, and the family of nations “ which constituted the Empire was made up of autonomous States or nations, each should have the right to nominate a delegate, who was accepted by the British Government. So it came about that the whole interests of the Empire were represented, and that is a very substantial advance. The position now is that, by reason of the development and alteration of the relationship, which has been gradually evolved during the period of the war and up to the present time, we are now entitled to consultation with the British Government as to the foreign -policy of the Empire, and consultation in regard to those matters which are of common Empire interest.
I am sure that we admire the considerate and skilful manner in which the British Government has dealt with the great difficulties associated with the position. Of course, the Empire is looked on by the foreigner as something mysterious - he cannot understand it. We, ourselves, realize that the Empire. is very delicate iri its mechanism and control, in view of the fact that there is.no rigid Constitution. But there is the process of consultation by Imperial Conference whereby we are able to coordinate our policy within the Empire, and then present it as an Empire policy to the outside world. That is a position which I hope we, as a loyal Dominion of the Empire, will recognise, because, as I said before, we must either be within or without the Empire. If we are within the Empire, we must co-ordinate our policy within the Empire, but if we ask for separate representation outside the Empire, then we are going to bring about the destruction of the Empire, with complications of grave and serious character with the outside world.
– For once, I agree with the honorable member.
– I am very pleased to hear the honorable member say so. The subject of the League of Nations has also been mentioned. I confess frankly that I am one who believes most firmly in the League of Nations, and what it is capable of accomplishing. The world deplores the absence from that League of the United States of America. It was felt at once that the League could not be complete until the United States of America was included ; but, as it was not, we are under a deep obligation to President Harding and the United States of America Government for the Washington Conference. We are sincerely hopeful that that Conference will prove a substantial step towards bringing into the League, not only the United States of America, but also those nations with whom we fought in the recent war. Germany, Russia, and Austriaor whatever is left of the latter - have a right to be recognised and admitted as members of the League of Nations. This League is a great and noble ideal, and I hope that any influence that can be exercised by Australia towards breathing power and strength into it may be accomplished. But we have to take things as we find them, and realize that the United States of America at present does not see eye to eye with us in regard to the League of Nations. Therefore, when there came a proposition from the United States of America as to another means of achieving what the League of Nations was designed to achieve, we could only fall in with the idea. The Washington Conference was in itself a- great conception, and it became a powerful factor, and a great success by reason of the courage which was shown in connexion with the business dealt with by Charles Evans Hughes. It was recognised before the bringing together of the Conference that the Versailles Treaty, although it purported to accomplish a great deal towards the settlement of peace terms, had created its own complications of a most profound and difficult character. The world still continued perturbed, and black and portentous clouds remained on the horizon. The idea of the Washington Conference was the possibility of bringing about some harmony, and securing a general peace. That waa one object, and another one was to put an end to the competition throughout the world in armaments. Hundreds of millions of pounds were yearly expended by nations in competing with one another in armaments, and the burden of taxation was so great that the noble ideal was suggested of a naval holiday.
The Washington Conference was indeed unique, and the work it achieved is unparalleled in history. It was of a character that compares favorably with anything, and, indeed, surpasses anything, previously done. I feel that we are deeply indebted, not only to the United States of America, but to the Mother Country .itself, for, great as might have beep the conception and object of America, that Conference would not have succeeded but for the generous and magnanimous attitude of the British Government. The British nation had most to lose. It had previously had a. two- power standard, and had held supremacy of the seas, and it was recognised that the British Empire could not live except for the British Navy. Under these circumstances, the British nation entered into this Conference, and offered a great example. The Empire was fortunate in the appointment, as the head of the delegation, of the present Earl Balfour, who showed the greatest wisdom and prudence in the discharge of the high and onerous duties imposed upon him. It was for these reasons that that Conference proved the magnificent success it ultimately became. While it is true that the ‘ Conference did not abolish war, at ‘.he same time it made the mightiest strides towards that object that have ever yet been taken. While it is true that the Conference did not bring about disarmament, it provided in a firm and definite manner for the limitation of armaments, and for a naval holiday. After long consultation and sacrifice, the naval ratio was agreed to, with the result that, for a period of ten years, the peace of the world should be assured, and the nations trained in the ways of peace. That is a mighty accomplishment, which we are pleased to recognise. We all remember the fears and troubles we had in connexion with the Pacific question. They were complex and far-reaching, and prolific of international difference and strife. By the same conciliatory spirit the > i
Pacific Pact was established. It provides, amongst other things, that there shall be no fortifications in the Mandated Territories, and that there shall be frank communication between the nations in regard to any ‘question of difference which may arise. There is to be a meeting of all the parties concerned, and a settlement is to be arrived at in that way. The Washington Conference is a monumental object lesson of what can be brought about by what is colloquially known as a round-table conference, or, in other words, by means of consultation and conciliation. Any difference in relation to the Pacific is to be settled in that way. There is no doubt that the United States of America had its own great national objects to serve in -regard to the Far Eastern question. It entered into the Conference with the policy of the opendoor for China as its objective, and in that respect it was singularly successful. It has a large trade with China; about one-tenth of its export trade is with that country. China offers an unlimited market. It has been calculated that out of the total population of something like 445,000,000, only some 9.000,000 or 10,000,000 of the people of China are purchasers of goods from abroad, and it is realized that as China develops it will offer an unlimited market for not only American goods, but the products of all parts of the world. Recognising this, the United States of America went into the Conference with the object of making -secure the open-door policy in China, which it had initiated many years ago. It desired to develop and strengthen that policy. Japan intended, no doubt, to try to conserve, as far as she could, her great and powerful interests in China. Her main trade is done with China, and she has practically looked upon that country as a field for exploitation. Japan has been marvellously successful in that respect. At the Conference she ha’d to make some sacrifices, and her representatives left.it no doubt more or less disappointed that they were unable to maintain all that she had secured, and all that she hoped to achieve.
I pay my tribute of respect and regard to Japan for the spirit displayed by her in entering the Conference, and dealing in a broad and generous way with questions involving tie naval ratio, and her interests in China. That vast and mysterious country - China - hoped in turn to achieve a political and economic -status such as she had not previously possessed. She accomplished a great deal; but did not secure all that she could have desired. I do not wish to discount the splendid services of the Conference in relation to the Far Eastern question. They were efforts of magnitude - fine efforts of statesmanship - and splendid strides were made- towards the settlement of the outstanding differences which obtained between the nations concerned. In respect to all these matters, I gladly say that we pay our tribute of admiration to the splendid and magnificent work which has been accomplished by the Conference.
The subject of submarine warfare has been mentioned. We all deeply regret that nothing has been accomplished in regard to the abolition or even the limitation of the use of submarines; but in so far. as it is possible to contemplate the paradoxical term of civilized warfare - so far as the honour of nations may be relied upon - sound and humane conditions in regard to the use of submarines were laid down by the Conference. These, if observed, will largely minimize the barbarities and atrocities that were associated with submarine warfare during the last great world conflict. It is to be hoped that the provision which has. been made will at least secure for the world some immunity from attacks such as those which resulted in the sinking of the Lusitania and other great merchant vessels. Provision has been made, so far as it can be made, that no merchant vessel shall be submarined’ until at least the innocent travelling public thereon are taken off and provided with some safe refuge. *
– Does the honorable member think that arrangement will be carried out?
– We can utter the pious hope that , it will be. If warfare is to be carried on as it was in connexion with the recent great war, when agreements and treaties became scraps of paper, it is quite possible that these conditions may not be observed. But a severe moral lesson attaches to the last war. Germany, the arch enemy which was guilty of this departure from the honouring of obligations, was taught a lesson such as the world cannot altogether! forget. The ‘ contempt, contumely, and hatred that were brought on Germany by reason of her refusal to - honour her Treaty obligations id a thing that can never be forgotten.
I join with other honorable members who in the course of this debate have expressed regret that the Conference did nothing hi regard to land armaments. The outlook for the future, however, is hopeful. Such a splendid stride has been made with respect to the reduction of naval armaments, and such a monumental object lesson has been given as. to what is possible of accomplishment even in the most difficult of international problems,, that the Conference has %iven a trend to public thought, and has further encouraged public opinion that war shall be brought to an end if possible. There is reason to hope, therefore, that something may be done in respect to land armaments in the not distant future. The moral influence of the Washington Conference in that respect, together with what was accomplished by it in regard to naval defence, may be effective in directing the course that should be followed with respect to land armaments, and I hope that the decisions arrived at as to the use of poisoned gas and submarines will bring about good .results in relation to all other’ branches of warfare.
.- Some honorable members who have addressed themselves to this question seem to be somewhat mixed in regard to Imperial matters, and to take the view that Australia is not a self-governing Dominion. I shall use my best efforts to prevent any interference, whatever with the self-government of Australia. “ It would be a groat thing if ‘by means of oratory a stop could be put to all warfare. If oratory could put an end to war it seems to me that we have had enough in connexion with the Washington Conference to rid the world for all time of that scourge. I am inclined to think, however, that those who have been indulging in flights of oratory in connexion with the achievements of the Conference are not sincere. Some of the great men of the world have merely been endeavouring to- gull the people, and there is, I fear, no sincerity in their proposals. It is refreshing to me to find that the resolutions agreed to by the Conference have been submitted to Parliament for ratification. This is quite a new departure. 1 have devoted much time to a study of historical questions, and particularly to the proceedings of the British Parliament in the days of Palmerston and others, and I have come to the conclusion that an end can be put to war only by making war a people’s question. If we are to have an advanced civilization, and that civilization is to be an educated Democracy, then all disputes between nations should first of all be submitted to the Parliaments concerned, and the question of war or no war should ‘be determined by a referendum. In all parts of the world the conscription referendum in Australia has been discussed, and our action in submitting the question to the people has been appreciated. The time has come when the people of most European nations, and certainly the people of the United States of America, will no longer allow the question of whether they should or should not engage in war to be determined by a few individuals. I repeat that when we make war a people’s question we shall put an end to war.
Some honorable members think that great results will flow from the Washington Conference, and particularly -from the resolutions arrived at as to the way in which warlike operations shall be carried out. When a nation goes to war, however, its sole object is to win. * It cares not whether it uses poison gas or submarines - whether it fights in the air, on the earth, or below the waters - so long as it can secure a victory. The man who can invent some mighty instrument for the destruction of humanity in such circumstances is acclaimed a hero, and every opportunity afforded him for perfecting his deadly device.
We’ shall shortly be having a general election. Are we to pass a resolution directing that .the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) shall on that occasion tell the people of Australia the truth ? It would be just as easy to compel him by that means to tell the truth as it would be to graft a pair of wings on to myself.
The world war was brought about by a nation of 70,000,000 people, with the highest birth rate in the world, desiring an outlet for its surplus population. And war will came again when some other nation wants better facilities for its development, and is prevented by other nations from getting it. What it cannot get by consent it will seek to get by force, in order that the future of its growing population may not be restricted. These are influences which cannot be controlled by a set of resolutions or regulations. Of course, the resolutions passed at Washington gave a big advertisement to the men who were responsible for them. But any man with a knowledge of the world knows that the people who are in control of society to-day will not readily surrender their powers. The instinctive desire to dominate will manifest itself in the future as it has done, in the past, and there will be no preventive of war until the industrial classes of the world come together with a pledge not to destroy each other. They are the people who have to bear the burden of war. To-day vested interests dominate the world. Theirs is the hidden hand that keeps the present Government in power in the Camm on wealth. Study the social and industrial conditions of to-day, and do we find the ruling classes striving to keep up the standard of living ? All that we have fought for industrially and economically since little children were sold in Spitalfields is at stake. This talk about forbidding nations to use poison gases makes one smile at the thought that there are so many credulous people in the world. We might as well tell rival armies that they must- not use tooth-powder to blow each other’s brains out. Though we may not all approve of the methods of the internationalists, their objective, the brotherhood of man, is very commendable, and in that policy lies all our hope of salvation from war and all its evils. We must educate the masses to a know-, ledge that God did not create the world for the use and enjoyment of a privileged few. There was in circulation a few years ago a book which asked what Christ would do if He returned to earth. I believe that every copy of it has- been destroyed, but its principles laid the foundations of a policy that will do more for mankind than all the resolutions of disarmament conferences. We have read recently that in the British Parliament the Government experienced difficulty in getting approval for an education vote. The object of that vote is to give knowledge and intelligence to the people. Thatobject was resisted, but for warlike ma chines to blow- out people’s brains millions of pounds can be found. Some years ago I used to propose motions at the Trades- and Labour Council which somepeople used to ridicule as visionary, but some of those proposals have already come to pass, and others will be realized in time. If we are really desirous of preventing war we must, first of all, do away with armies. The honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) deplored the fact that the Commonwealth had practically no land forces. That fact does not distress me at all. I hope we shall not spend a penny on land forces. All that .the Commonwealth requires is a navy sufficient to police the more distant waters of the Pacific. If the public affairs of nations were conducted as they should be, there would be no necessity for naval, land, or air forces. Disarmament resolutions, like Christianity, Free Trade, and Protection,, are -splendid subjects to talk about. But there is no penalty to be imposed upon a nation that ignores the resolutions laid down, by the Disarmament Treaties. God knows that, should any nation injure the British race, if ‘British’ people are made of the same stuff as I and my forefathers, the injury will be resented, and who, then, will settle the quarrel? The only hope of preventing war is by educating the people, and allowing them to decide all questions of foreign .policy. Australia has only a small population, but historians, when they write up the Great War, will set down the attitude of the Australian people towards conscription as an object lesson to the nations of the earth. That was the result of an appeal by a referendum to the people; and if the question of war or peace were put to the vote of the men and women of quarrelling nations, there would never be war. When the people have been educated, and proper ideals prevail amongst them, there will be no need for poisonous gases, submarines, or other instruments ‘ of destruction. The honorable member for Kooyong is concerned over the absence of land forces; but if we train up a body of men for war, and dress them out in pretty clothes, will not their ambition be to do the job for which the Government pays them? Therefore let us obliterate all armaments except at form of naval police in distant waters. No nation will interfere with Australia. The economic position of the world to-day is such, as a result of the Great War, that it will take 100 years to recover the conditions of 1913. How many years will it take Australia to get back to the fine position it occupied before the war, as a result of three years of Labour Government in the Commonwealth ? Honorable members opposite have been in office for eight years, and they have done nothing in comparison with what the Labour party did in three years. We took humanitarian ideas to the Government benches, and those ideas dictated the character of our legislation. We want the same ideas to prevail amongst the nations of the world. My only purpose in speaking todayis that I may, through Hansard, let people on the other side of the world know the opinion of fully 95 per cent, of the population of Australia. If a plebiscite were taken of the wage-earners of the Commonwealth, they would declare that the resolutions of the Washington Conference are all very well, for men who have nothing elseto do. They cannot become effective unless the people so will it. And the people will not stand for dictation. However, we cannot, for quite other reasons, go to war for another fifty years - the finances of the nations will not permit it. Our first object should be that which the Internationalists seek to achieve - the brotherhood of man throughout the world. We want to eliminate from our breasts that spirit of hatred which was manifested in the recent war. When we get that feeling subdued, we can then go on to a higher and more advanced civilization which will give to God’s creatures the benefits He intended them to have. Vested interests should no longer be allowed to predominate and cause men to cut one another’s throats for self-advancement. I would like to . deal with the Russian question, for I am confident that Russia will emerge from its present ordeal a model to the rest of the world. The struggle will be hard. We know from our own history that riots have always preceded reform. We have a small population in Australia, but the Russian reformers have 140,000,000 people to handle. However, we in Australia, with our small popula tion, havelaid down a grand foundation for the benefit of those who come after us. I think that our friends opposite should give more attention to Australian concerns, and let the Empire look after itself. The British nation has always been able to do so. Let us do something in Australia to build up a model and contented people. Of course, we cannot expect to utterly remove discontent. As a matter of fact, discontent is the breeding-ground of progress. If we became merely a mutual-admiration society, our fall will be greater than that of Rome. I, for example, am discontented ; I am particularly discontented with what is going on here to-day. I do not think that, with the present Government in power, we can make the progress we should be making. The only foundation for a pure Democracy throughout the world is for the industrial sections of the various races to better understand one another and join together in that brotherhood of friendship which alone . will insure the stoppage of all wars.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker-
– I draw attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.]
– When the warmakers of this Chamber have exhausted themselves on the question of peace, perhaps it is not unbecoming that the peacemaker should contribute a few words to this debate. I have listened to one or two addresses on this motion, notably one by the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best). At one stage, I ventured to profess my complete agreement with the honorable member. That fact may seem to require some explanation; at all events, I must tender something by way of modification. The honorable member stated that there was a radical difference in the present position of the Dominions in their relationship to the British Empire as compared with what it was in pre-war time. I join issue with the honorable member on that point. There is technically and legally, at all events, no difference whatever in the position occupied by Australia to-day from that which was occupied by her before the Avar, as part and parcel of the British Empire. There is no difference from the point of view of the international lawyer, or from any other legal point of view. It may be thai, as a result of the war, or for other reasons that may appear sufficiently good to those guiding the destinies of the British Empire in London, that certain formal acts of politeness have been extended to Australia and the other Dominions which were not extended to them previously; but our position remains exactly the same.N I was very much interested to hear the honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) on the question of our representation at the Washington Conference. Our representation at that Conference was a representation of the British Empire, as a single entity. I do not pretend .to know whether the position of Canada was different or not, but I do know that Australia could not have been represented at the Washington Conference as Australia; it could only be represented there as part of a delegation, as the Prime Minister himself admitted to-day, sent by the Imperial Government to. represent His Majesty the King. I insist upon that, not because I am a great Imperialist - honorable members will accept my assurance that I am not - not because I am a great believer in the spirit of Imperialism, as I understand it, because I am not; but because I would like honorable members to understand that they cannot have it both ways. If they are so deeply content, so quietly docile in their satisfaction, with the Imperial relationship - and I express no discontent with it at this stage - they must also pay the price of Imperial solidarity; they must learn to realize that the Empire, if it is to be a coherent Empire, requires the loyalty of its parts to the centre, and that when it comes to a matter of international relationship it can speak with only one voice. We may send any number of persons, but they represent a single entity, namely the British Empire. That is the point which illustrates the one limitation upon Australia’s absolute independence. For all practical purposes Australia is a selfgoverning Dominion ; she controls’ her own destinies; not quite absolutely, but nearly absolutely; and, so far as her own affairs are concerned, she is her own mistress. But when it comes to matters of international relationship, she does not control her own destinies ; she pays the price of her Imperial connexion, and is’ bound to defer to the head of the Empire, namely, the Imperial Parliament, which, in the last resort, controls our international operations. The Prime Minister fondly boasts that Australia is a nation, and one of a family of nations or Commonwealth of nations; but’ he cannot, however accomplished he may bp., speak with two voices;, he can- not insist on our entire subservience to Great Britain on the one hand, and on our absolute independence on the other’. If he is wedded so deeply to the Imperial connexion he may have it, but it involves that element of subordination to which I have referred, and which is inseparable from the Imperial connexion. I say this so that we may take the scales off our eyes, and realize the position for what it is. We may . spread our wings in the confident hope and belief that we. are a nation equal with the other nations of the world, yet we must admit that we are bound with the Imperial tie as a subordinate part of the Empire. Therefore, when the honorable member talks of the consummate skill with which the British Government handled the question of Australia’s representation at the Conference, I merely point out that there was no need for the exercise of consummate or any skill. There was no need for anything but the polite concession that Australia’s representative might be one of the Imperial Delegation to proceed to the Conference. It was in that relationship that Senator Pearce, of whom I shall have something to say later,” proceeded to Washington as Australia’s representative. There is, therefore, that one limitation - and that an important one. from the international point of view - upon Australia’s absolute independence. It is a, well-defined limitation, which may come to have very grave importance in time of war. In time of peace it matters very little, because we are not much concerned with international pol tics ; but, in time of war, our right to dictate our own foreign policy becomes a consideration of vital interest. When the diplomats on the other side of the water have decided that war is to be fought, it becomes important foi us to know whether we are to be given the reasons and causes therefor, and to have an opportunity of examining them, or whether we are, -as merely a portion of the Empire, to run up the flag of battle, so soon as war has been declared for us by the diplomatic authorities advising Downing-street.
The position of Australia, as part of the Empire, is different from that proposed to be enjoyed by Ireland under what is known as the Irish Free State. In that Treaty - if it -s ever given full effect - there is a recognition of Ireland as something more than part of the. Empire in the sense that a Dominionis a part. She is recognised as a State having the power to make Treaties; and the very fact of her becoming. signatory to a Treaty recognises her national rights. Th;s vital point was insisted upon by Ireland’s representatives in conference, and was conceded bv the British Prime Minister and the other delegates of Great Britain, namely, that her essential right to nationhood must be recognised. In the Treaty that right has been recognised ; and, therefore, though Ireland remains associated with the British Empire, it is as a Free State capable of making Treaties, and having an independent nationhood, and, therefore, to that extent - I repeat - different from and superior to, the Dominions.
I was pleased to welcome to-day new converts to the cult of peace. My only regret, and it is deep, is that they should have come so late, after the wreck and ravage of war, when all the destruction has been achieved, and so many lives have been lost and homes desolated rather than that they should have spoken courageously when they might have served some im*mensely greater purpose. The honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) referred this afternoon to the tremendous influence which can be exerted upon public opinion by a round-table conference : to the beautiful work that can be done, not perhaps by observing the strict letter of the law, but by formulating and moulding a healthy public opinion towards peaceful relationships between the nations. It was when rivers of blood were flowing, and when our soldiery were giving their lives on the battlefields of Europe ; when strong men were wanted to stem the fearful tide of carnage; and when some of us spoke fearfully, it may be, and hesitatingly, perhaps, of a roundtable conference the honorable member was silent. Or, if he was not entirely silent, he merely spoke in order that he might cover us with ignominy and contempt. 1
– Some people speak at the wrong time.
– They do, and honorable members now are speaking at the wrong time, when the mischief has been done, when nearly 60,000 of our priceless manhood have been slaughtered on the battlefields, when some 400,000 have been wounded, maimed and crushed in this dreadful work of carnage over four bloody years. But during that time they did not have the courage to speak. They speak to-day, but, truly, at the wrong time.
– Does the honorable member realize that it is oratory such as his that excites feelings which inevitably issue in war?
– I do not know precisely what the honorable member means; but this I know - and, as I go along, perhaps, I shall be able to answer hi3 question - that when I came into the Labour party as a youth - and I never belonged to another, and I hope that I never shall - I was attracted- by some of its fundamental principles. ‘It had, written across its charter, the principle of the brotherhood of man. It expressed the sentiment, where all might read it, of the principle of internationalism ; as Scotland’s poet has put it, they said “ a man’s a man for a’ that,” he was not to be judged by mere geographical situation, -but he was to be entitled tq realize the just claims of manhood wherever he might live and work out his destiny. I was attracted by Labour’s policy of persistent opposition jio what was known as militarism. I was attracted to it because it set its face against those gilded aristocrats who, in the home of diplomacy) behind closed door3, brought about the destruction of millions of their fellow men for causes not disclosed and with objects undeclared. This was Labour’s view upon the question of war.
– “ The last man and the last shilling!”
– Since the iniquity of the Boer war there had been no great war affecting this country, or the Empire. Some fourteen or fifteen years had passed and we were living in times of peace. During that period the leaders of my own party and some honorable members opposite preached these doctrines, and thriving upon them enjoyed place and pay. Then there came the testing time of war. But how many of them were found wanting! I remember the Eight Honorable Sir Joseph Cook, as Leader of the Opposition in that fateful year, 1915, rising in his place where I am now standing at the table, and addressing the then Leader of the Labour party, my own leader, theRight Honorable Andrew Fisher - honest Andrew Fisher. I do not pretend to recall precise words, but the Leader of the Opposition asked the Prime Minister what he proposed to do in regard to the utterances of the honorable member for Batman, that honorable member having spoken under the auspices of the Peace. Alliance to his own people, in his own electorate, the previous night. I have, great respect for Andrew Fisher, I am bound to say, but the historical aspect of the case requires me to remark that he rose in his place, looking like a churchwarden at the death-bed of a rich relation from whom he was expecting a handsome legacy, and deplored my utterancesin connexion with that meeting under the auspices of the Peace Alliance. He was sorry I had so spoken because, apparently, he did not realize what Labour ideals and principles were in this regard; but, on the contrary, falling into line with the conventional standards of the militarists in this Parliament, he placed on record a phrase which, I regret to say, did immeasurable harm to our country while it did not inconvenience him in the least, namely - “ The last man and the last shilling.” We who spoke as I spoke at that meeting in the Fitzroy Town Hall, spoke, as the honorable member for Darwin (Mr. Bell) has just inferred, “ out of our turn.” We spoke in time of war in order to bring about peace . These distinguished gentlemen who have spoken today, speak in time of peace in order that we may have peace until the next war.
– And where will you be again?
– And then the gallant gentleman who has just interjected will resume his uniform declaring blatantly that the Empire must be served. Hewillcry”Call out the dogs of war. Down with Germany” - if it is Germany - “ and to hell with France “ - if it should be France, or whatever nation and people it may be. “Let us not examine the causes. We live by fighting; and, especially, we live by the fighting of the masses who fight and die without knowing the reasons for which they fight.” The war drew on its dreadful tragic course.
– You escaped it!
– I escaped it. If the honorable member will have it, I fought at a safe distance for peace, while my political opponents on the other side -and they are many - fought from an equally safe strategic point for war; that is the difference between us. It was to be a war for right against might, but in its essentials this war did not differ from any other. All honour to the men who fought and died; they realized a great purpose as they saw it, and served it well. Neither here nor elsewhere have I attempted or desired to besmirch their name, or their high standard of honour and achievement; but when one speaks In this connexion of right and wrongs I say that those who controlled operations in this war had little, if any, conception of right against might - their appeals have always been in the last resort to force, irrespective of right. When the Germans lied about the causes and the inspirations of the war, our responsible people were lying in the same way about it. When the Germans were lying about the course of the war, about the success or non-success of the war, our Intelligence Department lied with the same freedom of spirit and originality. If those who, on the other side of the world, were endeavouring to persuade men to fight and destroy each other, set the standard of truth and morality at a lower and baser level, those who controlled our armies adopted exactly the same lower standard of morality, and exposed men to the same debasing conditions and encouraged them ‘ in the same vices. Wherever war is fought it is fought on the same bans of fraud, deception, and debased morality.
– This is an extraordinary speech!
– The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr.Richard Foster) misjudges me - he judges me by his own standard. What I said during the war I am saying to-day after the war. I did not swing with the side as the honorable member did on the question of the Federal Capital. At all events, I claim for myself the virtue of consistency.
Then we come to the Treaty of Versailles. Turn to men who fought in the war, or men like Sir Philip Gibbs, who reported it, and ask what of this Treaty ? Ask these men, whose opinions we pretend to respect, if this was not a base betrayal of the vital principles for whichwe were supposed to befighting. They answer with one voice that it was. It was not the vindication of right against might, but it was in the fullest measure the apotheosis of might against right. Ask them if there was peace in the unspeakable wrong of the blockade. It is well we should examine our conscience and know the truth - how we made war on women and children, the sick and the crippled, doing outrage to the principles for which the war was said to be fought.
-Will you say a word or two about the submarine campaign?
– Another vile attribute of the war! The Minister invites me to refer to the submarine campaign. It may have been observed that the Washington Conference has not been able to secure any mitigation of this horror, and if I refer to the wrongs of which we were an instrument, rather than the outrages committed by the enemy, it is because we can, and should;, control ourselves if we cannot control others. The Prime Minister says that the conditions under which, the submarine may be used have been greatly mitigated, and my Leader (Mr. Charlton) has pointed out that that is so if the Treaty be observed. But will this present Treaty be observed by persons who have been described as “ unconscionable Huns”? What moral restraint or restrictions can you put on persons such as the Germans were described to be when it was considered good politics and good policy to make men and women bate their fellow men ? What is the good of paper restrictions under the circumstances? My honorable friends opposite claim that they won the war, but I modestly divest myself of any credit on that score. The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Marr) “spreads” himself occasionally with the conviction that he won the war, but whether he won it by sending wireless messages to his friends in London, Paris, or Sydney, I cannot say. He interjects, and I can only reply when he calls attention to himself ; otherwise he would not be noticeable. Who really did win the war; who is the victor or the vanquished, after all ? I read recently the following in the Herald: -
Anti-War Demonstration in England. (Reuter.)
Uniform with similar demonstrations on the Continent and in America and the Dominions, a huge pacifist demonstration was held in London this afternoon.
Earlier in the day aeroplanes utilized smoke for writing on the sky “ No more war.”
One of the five processions marched past the Cenotaph in Whitehall carrying a banner inscribed : “ Salutation to the fallen. Never again !” Floral tributes were distributed.
Thousands of people listened to speeches in Hyde Park.
Similar demonstrations are taking place in all parts of the Continent, and they are not made by pacifists like myself. These demonstrations are by military men, ex-soldiers and fighting men. These are the men who at least have learned to fly the aeroplane. Why should they shout out “ Never again !” ? Because they see the futility of it all. They see they have not realized, and cannot realize, the ideals for which they were sent to fight. They know that the causes for which they fought were not fairlyor candidly stated. They see that, had we had a courageous facing of the real issues by men who were not afraid to speak of peace, peace with honour and without slaughter might have been achieved. The honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) - and no better, sounder, or more patriotic Imperialist has spoken in the House - says to-day that had there been, shortly before war was declared, a round-table conference in London to examine the real disturbing causes that were then threatening the world, it is more than possible that war could have been averted. Had we dared to say that during the war we . should have run serious risks of prosecution . and imprisonment. France is the most dissatisfied nation to-day, and the most stricken nation. She has suffered most, and she is the least satisfied, for the simple reason that she is asking her Allies in the war to make good the promises and pledges they made when waging the war - promises and pledges which France’s AlVes have no intention of honouring. They know well that Germany will never make the reparation - never pay the money . that is a charge to her. Did we not declare that we would never trade again with Germany? Did we not positively promise the people that we would bring the Kaiser to trial, hang him, and, if possible, draw and quarter him? To-day, German ships are in Australian waters, and German goods are coming into Australia. The capitalists are more concerned in pocketing the profits out of German goods than they are in making good the promises they gave the people during the war.
– He is still alive; and out of a book of his own experiences that he has written, he is making, I have read, the equivalent of £50,000. No one any longer talks of bringing the Kaiser to trial. In the speech to which I have already referred, I ventured to predict that the time was not very far distant when, if the Kaiser should come through Port Phillip Heads, the Lord Mayor, and the civic authorities, would be falling over themselves to give him a welcome,
– And the honorable member would be ahead of all of them - he would be the first to give him welcome.
– The honorable member knows perfectly well that I am no friend of the Kaiser. I might go a little further, and tell the honorable member that I viewed with perfect complacency the toppling over of quite a number of Royal dynasties at the time.
– The honorable member would delight in the toppling over of the British Royal dynasty.
– And I even viewed with pleasure the overthrow of the Czar, who was our chosen and highly-respected Ally in the early’ stages of the war. As soon as he was overthrown, the Prime Minister, from his place in this House, said, “ I am inclined to think that, with the overthrow of the Czar, we shall have a rather more determined effort by Russia on behalf of the Allies in the war.” He had not even a word of commiseration for his unhappy Ally the Czar, who had met such a tragic fate. Needless to say, his prophecy as to the support which Russia would give the Allies after that event was not fulfilled.
I was speaking, when interrupted, of the arrival of German ships in Australian waters, and was referring to the joyous welcome which the Kaiser would have from his friends on the other side of the House if he should come here at any time. Here is a quotation from last Monday’s issue of the Herald -
That British ship-owners are prepared to meet the German owners on a pre-war basis, is borne out by the fact that both the Teutonic shipping lines mentioned were admitted to the Conference of Australian ship-owners trading overseas as soon as they made application for re-admission. Thus their re-entry will not alter freight or passenger rates, as all the firms of the Conference charge similar rates.
It will be observed that, not only have these Teutons been admitted to the Conference of ship-owners, but that there has been arrived at between them a perfectly friendly understanding that there shall be no reduction in passenger rates or freights. Thus, we see that the arrangement by which freights and fares are kept up is not only one between British or Allied capitalists, but is an arrangement into which the Teutonic capitalist is also welcomed.
I propose now to refer to Senator Pearce, his mission to Washington, and his qualifications for that mission. Senator Pearce was, for many years, Minister for Defence, and he is still a Minister of the Crown. He was the chosen representative and proceeded to Washington. He was chosen, at the last moment, and, speaking in this House on the occasion of his choice, although my leader and others of my party had been entirely favorable to Australia being represented, so far as we could be represented, at that Conference, I ventured to say that, with the exception of’ the Prime Minister himself, no worse choice could have been made than that of the then Minister for Defence.
– There is some consolation in this change of front on the part of the honorable member. At one time it was with him a case of .” Gott strafe Hughes.”- Now it is a case of “ Gottstrafe Pearce.”
– The honorable member speaks in a tongue which I do not understand.
– The honorable member does not want to understand me.
Mr.BRENNAN. - I should like to be familiar with German, but my education in that regard, I am sorry to say, has been neglected, and consequently, I am unable to acquaint myself first-hand with the excellent literature of the German people. On the occasion in question, I did not’ wish, as the honorable member suggests, to be offensive to the Prime Minister or Senator Pearce. . I merely employed the language of description, and I registered what I thought was an honest judgment. I believed Senator Pearce to be totally unfitted, from every point of view, for a mission of that kind, and I was of . the opinion that he had proved his unfitness during the war. He was for years a member of the Labour party. He was one of its trusted leaders, and as such, he not only adopted but eloquently advocated those views, about the brotherhood of man - internationalism - and the claims of manhood and humanity the world over; to which I have already alluded. He was a man who, as I have said of others, rose to place and pay by the advocacy of views of that kind.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– I call attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.]
– To put this matter in proper sequence, thecircumstances under which the Washington Conference was convened must be remembered. The right honorable the Leader of the House went to England to represent, or, in my view, to misrepresent, Australia at the Imperial Conference, and before he left these shores he made a very determined and successful effort to induce this House to give him an instruction to support the renewal of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance. I was not favorable to the renewal of that Alliance. I spoke upon the proposal, and whilst I did not very strongly condemn the renewal, I pointed out that it was out of harmony with the League of Nations, and that it meant a policy of mutual agreement for the time being between two Powers, which was likely to provoke the antagonism of other Powers, and possibly in that way involve us in war, because we were pledged to support Japan, by force of arms if need be, in certain defined circumstances. The Prime Minister went to England. He was prepared to advocate the renewal of the
Treaty, when the united legal acumen of the British Empire suddenly discovered that the Treaty would not come to an end at the time at which it was believed hitherto it would terminate; but, unless denounced, would automatically continue. At the same time, an invitation came from Washington to the British Government to send representatives to a Disarmament Conference. This spiked the guns of the Australian Prime Minister, and, trouble brewing in his own political house in Australia, he hastened back to keep up the tottering citadel of his almost paralytic Government. Honorable members will remember how unkindly the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt) referred to the circumstances of the Prime Minister’s return to these shores and his stage-managed welcome by soldiers. We need not go further, into that subject. But shortly afterwards, the Leader of the Opposition became active in an endeavour to secure representation for this country at Washington. It was quite clear that the Prime Minister, having failed in his mission . abroad, and having been sent Home in a somewhat dejected frame of mind, lost interest in the Washington Conference, and we have to thank honorable members–on this side of the House in particular - for their activity in seeking to have honest representation of Australia at Washington. Senator Pearce was chosen as the Australian delegate. I said then that no worse choice but one could have been made, and that one was the Prime Minister. In the past, Senator Pearce had been a vigorous antimilitarist. During the Boer war, he got himself disliked, like many other just men in time of war, by sternly declaring that in no circumstances would he be a party to any Australian proceeding to join the Forces in war against the Boers. “For once he was right; but he became very unpopular in being right. He practised anti-militarism for the next thirteen or fourteen years, until the outbreak of the great European war, and then, having risen to place and pay on the principles of anti-militarism, without a moment’s hesitation, he heard the bugle call of war, and proceeded to offer incense at the altar of Moloch. No more docile follower of the militarist class in this country has ever been seen ; no man turned more readily on the principles which made him than the gentleman whom the Government determined to send to Washington to talk peace. No man did more to destroy the basic principles of peace than Senator Pearce, our chosen emissary of peace. He laid aside for the time being Karl Marx; he put out. of his mind Emerson, and every one’ of those authorities whom he had quoted in a thousand speeches in defence of his principles of anti-militarism, and he adopted as readily Nietsche, Treitschke, Roosevelt, Rudyard Kipling, and every blatant militarist he could find to justify his rapid and complete change of front. He made a hundred speeches, every one of which did violence to a thousand other speeches which, during the time of peace, he had traded upon. During the time he was Minister for Defence, he imprisoned men without trial, after preaching for over a decade that the principles of Magna Charta must be respected, and that every mart charged with an offence was entitled to trial by jury of his countrymen. Just as often as he preached that principle, as often, yea, and a thousand times more often, he made men suffer injustice in this country without trial and without hearing, and merely, because of their nationality, merely because, in some sense, they were foreign born. He penalized men for their nationality whether they were aliens o’r not; he did violence and injustice to members of the Italian community in our midst, and made himself - a party to a faked communication, which was alleged to have come to the Commonwealth Government from the Italian Government, but which never did come, and which was a pure figment of the imagination. He used that as the instrument for penalizing and tyrannizing over Italians who came to these shores believing that here they would enjoy the protection of the British flag.
– The honorable member has no justification for making that statement.
– The answer to the Minister is that I have already, from my place in this House, quoted documents which prove my case, and which never have been answered, and cannot be answered.
– And still the people return Senator Pearce to Parliament.
– They still return the honorable member for Indi, which is even more incredible. Then we come to this grim jest of sending Senator Pearce to Washington - this masterpiece of irony in sending such a man to talk peace on the other side of the world. He had risen on the wreckage of his party to the position he held, and having deserted them, boasted that they had blown out their brains. He was sent to Washington, and the Prime Minister has told us that there he covered himself and the country which he represented with distinction. The right honorable gentleman may have it that way if he pleases, but I thought it my duty to record the views of myself ‘and those for whom I speak in the pages of Hansard before this question is finally settled and our decision goes before the world. The Conference has been held, and it is said to have been successful. No Peace Conference can be successful, no Disarmament Conference can have any measure of success worth, while, unless it is carried out by men who have the heart and conscience for peace, and who mean peace. The mere arbitrary reduction of armaments gets us no nearer to peace. The mere fact that one Power, with eyes half closed ‘ and watching closely its adversaries, expresses its willingness to do away with one battle-ship if a friendly neighbouring Power will do away with, one of its battle-ships, or the fact that one Power is willing to demobilize so many soldiers if another Power will do likewise, brings us no nearer peace. But when it is determined to destroy the battle-ship Australia -and so many other huge engines of, destruction, which in taxation have been built by the blood and tears of suffering people, we have evidence that by that means the signatories to the Treaty have proved to demonstration the folly of the people in allowing their so-called leaders to lead them into war. Constructing ships which they are to destroy ! Building huge armaments which now in a spirit of doubtful good-will they have determined shall be no more! Asseverating and assuring each other that they are bent on the path of pacifism at last ! It does ‘ not seem to occur to them that the wisdom of those who said, “ Do not build these things” was far greater than the wisdom of those who say, “ Now we have got them we shall destroy them.” We* sometimes hear the Labour party charged with advocating useless or unprofitable works for the labouring classes. Could there be a greater travesty than this, of spending upon armaments hundreds of millions of pounds, which represents millions of pounds of taxation upon the suffering people, and then telling the world that, by reason of the good-will which has been created after the war, the nations have determined to scrap these things and to march forward together as brothers on the road of perpetual peace? I only hope that the Conference will have some fruitful and useful results, but I do not hope for peace through the media of men like the right honorable the Prime Minister, who believe in war, and who say that war is the natural human animal way of settling international differences. I do not hope’ for peace through the weak associates of the military caste, such as the gentleman who represented us at Washington. My only hope for peace is in the hearts of the people who have suffered much, and because they have suffered much and have been deluded and misled, and are to-day bearing a burden of taxation which the folly of others has placed upon them, 1 trust that the advice they are getting now from the anti-militarists they will follow; and that as those soldiers of Great Britain and the Continent said, “ Never again!” in truth it will be “Never again,” so that when next the slogan of war is sent up bv capitalists, militarists, and diplomatists the answer will be “ Never again ! You have made the war ; now go on with the fight. In the past you have done the talking, and we have done all the paying; you have gathered all the profits and dividends, now do the fighting. As for us, ‘ Never again I ‘ “
.- It is almost hardly worth while discussing a motion of this kind, because it will not matter one brass farthing whether Australia passes the motion or not. It is part of our newly-found and, in some quarters, much appreciated idea of nationhood, in which, for the sake of a little bit of theatricality, Australia has arrived at a position in which she cannot, even if she would, undertake the responsibilities which nationhood implies. I have regarded the Washington Conference as a great landmark in the history 8/ civilization. I have followed the course of it with very great interest, and 1 agree that it is something upon which Australia should concentrate her attention, not so much as regards what has been done,- but as regards the possibilities for the future. After all is said and done, there is not a great deal in the actual results achieved; but the Conference itself indicates possibilities to mankind of which Australia in particular should be fully seised. If we are to depend upon the results achieved for our protection as a community we are leaning on a very weak reed. The Conference has, undoubtedly, been a very favorable get-out for our Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), who has for many years,- in season and out of season, suggested that the Commonwealth is in great danger from Japan. He would have been very hardly put to, indeed, in a very short space of time, had it not been for the holding of this Conference. He would have had to change his attitude towards Japan, because, during all these years that country has been nothing but a loyal and whole-hearted supporter of the alliance into which she had entered with Great Britain. The Washington Conference, therefore, came at a very opportune time to save the Prime Minister of Australia from a rather awkward situation. We are given to understand that we’ can now reduce our expenditure on naval and military .matters very considerably, because, by the Conference, Australia has been rendered absolutely safe. But that is far from being the case. If there was danger to Australia from the direction indicated before the Conference, it has been more accentuated - since, because Great Britain has now surrendered her sovereignty of the seas, and if Australia were menaced by another nation it would be a matter of great difficulty, if not absolute impossibility, for the Mother Country in the existing circumstances to come to our aid. But I have endeavoured to show here and elsewhere that our apprehensions as regards danger from a particular quarter had no foundation whatsoever. In all these years when we were piling up preparations against Germany it was absolute nonsense to think that they might be necessary against any other Power, and now that the menace of Germany has disappeared, Australia can with every confidence in the future, immediate and distant, reduce her expenditure, on armaments, and devote herself to that particular form of . defence which, above all others, is the most essential to our existence, and that is the introduction of immigrants from our own Homeland.
The Washington Conference suggests great possibilities in a direction I wad glad to see indicated by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) this afternoon. It opens up possibilities for the League of Nations, and in that particular regard should remain for Australia a msst significant landmark, because if there is any country on the face of the earth which ought to develop and encourage the League of Nations’ ideals it should be Australia. Yet here we are to-day with a few enthusiasts doing their best at a few points throughout our vast con- tinent to interest Australia in this ideal, while our Government, and especially the head of the Government, “by indifference and neglect, prevent the people of the Commonwealth from seizing upon the meaning and significance of this great world-wide movement. It was indicative of the attitude of the Prime Minister that to the last Conference of the League he should send a clerk from an office. It was only because of the indignation created by that unfortunate nomination that we were able to see, I think with satisfaction to all, the honor. able member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce) subsequently designated to accompany the gentleman chosen by the Prime Minister in the first instance. The work which the honorable member for Flinders did was something with which Australia had every right to be satisfied. I hope that this country will allow nothing to stand in the way of devoting its energies and interests to the development of the League of Nations. We are told that it costs a good deal of money. It does, but any movement of that kind breaking new ground’ must of necessity lead to the expenditure of money.
– It is money well spent.
– It is. I disagree with the Leader of the Opposition when he suggests that the League of Nations is merely a skeleton. It is something which is clothed with flesh and is pulsating with warm blood. It has done a great deal in the face of very serious difficulties and the indifference of politicians of a certain kind, who see in the quiet, earnest work carried out by the League an end to all their theatricalities and their diplomatic twistings which have been the cause of so much bloodshed in the past.
– What I said was that I wished all public men would display an interest in the League of Nations in order to galvanize it into life.
– Quite so, but the League of Nations has life in it already. It has been the means of repatriating hundreds of thousands of poor prisoners of war, returning them to their homes. It has taken upon itself the settlement of several very serious international disputes. It gave a decision upon the Aland Islands question as between Finland and Sweden. The Silesian question has to be referred to the League of Nations after the statesmen of Europe had wrangled over it for several months without reaching an understanding. In many ways the League has ap-‘ plied itself to excellent work for the peace of the world, and its latest development, the creation of an international court of justice, will strengthen its efforts in this direction to a greater degree than anything else yet accomplished. It is unfortunate that this great movement has not at the present time, technically at . any rate, the support of the people of the United States of America. The League of Nations was turned down by the Parliament of the United States when President Wilson came back with it from Paris as one of his pet ideas, but. not because of any particular defects in the system or because of the ideal itself. It was turned down simply because it suited the dominant political party in the United States Parliament to treat it accordingly. However, there is in the United States of America a fine body of public opinion which was strong even when the League of Nations was thrown out of doors by the Parliament, and which has been growing and developing ever since. In fact, it may be claimed that it to a large extent dominates the politics of both political parties in America. It was largely due to the existence of that feeling that the idea of the Washington Conference was formulated by President Harding and his advisers. Having turned down the League’ of Nations,
America felt that it should give something by way of substitute or something equally good, and although, as I say, there is nothing technically being done on behalf of the League of Nations by the people of the United States, still, there is a very strong organization in existence which is working for the same object which the League of Nations has in view, and which sooner or later must come into touch with the European movement of the same kind. Early in the afternoon, when the Leader of the Opposition was speaking, I interjected that this movement was essentially one for the women of the world. I want to emphasize that remark. If ever there was a movement which should have the enthusiastic support of the women of the world, it is one which makes for the ending of warfare. If the women of the world would only take it up there would be no doubt whatever as to the result. Warfare would become impossible, and we would have to get down to the ord-nary civilized method of settling international disputes by courts of law or by arbitration. I hope that the Government will arise to the necessity for appointing a woman from Australia to attend the next Conference of the League of Nations. We have given women the vote, we have accorded them equality in political matters generally, and I think it would be a significant act -on the part of the Government, and one which would be fairly indicative of Australia’s attitude in many respects, if a woman were chosen as one of the delegates to the forthcoming Conference of the League of Nations. Such a woman can be found in Australia, and I trust, therefore, that when the nominations are made known the name of a representative woman will be seen upon the list. I would rather see a woman selected who is altogether outside of the party sphere of activities.
– It would not be a bad idea to send Mrs. Glencross.
– Unlike the honorable member, I have not the temerity to suggest the name of any one lady for nomination.
In conclusion, I earnestly express the hope that we shall not lose sight of the larger issues which are at stake in connexion with the ratification of these Treaties.
.- I was one of those who supported the appointment of a delegate to the Washington Conference; and I feel, at this concluding stage, that we have nothing to regret in our selection. Australia, in sending her Minister for Defence did the proper thing. I was unable to understand or appreciate the speech of the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan). The League of Nations and the Washington Conference surely tend to maintain peaceful conditions throughout the world. Why should these noble movements be criticised and their objectives impugned? Why should a nation such as ours be blamed for the part we played in the Great War? The honorable member for Batman endeavoured to insinuate sinister designs. How can any such criticism be offered to the entrance of the British Empire into the war? The unpreparedness of the Mother Country was even more markedly manifest than that of this Dominion. That fact alone would demonstrate to any unbiased mind that Great Britain was not looking for war when hostilities broke out in 1914. May I ask when does the honor- < able member for Batman think the time is ripe for war? I wonder just when he would begin to’ fight, and under what conditions. Would he fight for any nation other than the British Empire ? He made it clear that he was in no sense an Imperialist. He made it rather emphatically clear, indeed, that he was against the Empire which shelters him and us all. The honorable member referred to Ireland as being a unit in the Empire, but one which enjoys a greater liberty and more extended powers than are possessed by any of the other units of the Empire. Would it not be better for the honorable member to betake himself to Ireland with his peaceful speeches and remain there, where there is still fighting to be done on one side or another, despite the fact that the Irish people, at /1,- ballot-box, have spoken for peace in no uncertain voice. It would appear, by the way, that the gentleman with whose ideals the honorable member for Batman agrees and who is maintaining conditions of warfare in Ireland, musk be-a capitalist. ,-For the honorable member for Batman infers that all war comes from the capitalistic sentiment. Is Mr. De Valera a capitalist, fighting, as he is, against the avowed wish and will of the people of that freest of all the units in the British Empire ? When the honorable member makes speeches such as he has uttered to-day, in a peace-loving community, his purpose certainly cannot be to strengthen our Empire. If we are bound by silken cords to the Mother Country, is that not to our advantage? Has it not been to his personal advantage to enjoy the protection and liberty permitted by the very fact of our attachment by those silken cords? Is it because Ireland is less closely bound by such ties that her people are fighting each other to-day ? The least one can say is that the honorable member for Batman is but lightly devoted to his country, and the Empire of which it is a part.
The honorable member reflected upon the delegate sent by Australia to the Washington Conference, because, during the war, he had stoutly wielded the cudgels of the Empire in Australia’s behalf. Does the fact that our delegate was Australia’s Minister for Defence imply that he must have been bloodthirsty, always seeking war rather than means for keeping the peace ? In civil life, the man who can fight the best looks for it the least. It was only right and proper that the Commonwealth’s Minister for Defence should have been directed to sit at the table at Washington. Who, better than he, could understand the peaceful ideals of this country ?
As to the motives which kept America out of the League of Nations, and caused her to convene the Washington Conference, I believe that America will yet fall into line in fullest sympathy with the units of the League, and will become an active and leading member of that great body. And I trust that in these gatherings of the world’s representative men kindly humanitarian feelings will eventually and then always prevail.
.- I cannot refrain from following the honorable member who has just resumed his seat. And I cannot help admitting that while he was addressing the House, I was wondering in what particular battles he had fought. I would like to ask him whoso, and how much blood, he has shed, what victories he has won, what armies he has led. Since the honorable member expressed himself such a patriot, I presume that he has done as much for thu
Empire as the majority of honorable members.
– I have not “ yapped “ against it, anyhow.
– Quite true!
– He has done the “ sooling on.”
– I would not even accuse the honorable member of that. He has neither “ yapped “ against the Empire, nor “ sooled on “ other men to fight for it. All that he did in the Great War was to make something out of it, while other honorable gentlemen were fighting and. dying for the cause in which they believed. That was his contribution.
– That is false.
– That is all the honorable member did.
– On a point of order,. Mr. Speaker, I ask if the honorable member for Bourke is in order in saying that the only thing I did in the war was to make money out of it.
– The statement itself is not unparliamentary; it may not be a correct statement of fact; but if what the honorable member for Bourke said is offensive’ to the honorable member for Swan, I must ask him to withdraw it.
– My objection is that it is an untruth.
– If the honorable member considers my remark offensive, I can only say, of course, that the truth is often offensive.
– I object that the honorable member’s allegation is untrue.
– Then, if it is untrue that the honorable member made money out of the Great War, I can only say that he has* been unfortunate. He made nothing.^ The notice-paper for the day’s proceedings points out that this is a debate upon the following motion -
That this House approves the Treaty between the United States of America, the British Empire, France, and Japan - and George Poster Pearce, representing Australia,, relating to various things. These various things include,, apparently, the settlement of world peace upon certain bases and conditions, a settlement as to insular possessions and dominions in the Pacific, various naval settlements and others concerning noxious gases not to be found in Parliament, a settlement affecting China, and other things of that character. It is quite proper and natural that an institution such as Parliament should spend its time in solemn deliberation upon questions like those. The peace of the world is all-important, and I can quite understand how that fact is appreciated by honorable gentlemen present. It matters not at what decisions the United States of America, Great Britain, France, Italy, and Japan may arrive. It matters not whether they have “ signed up.” Everything depends upon our ratification of these Treaties, with the assistance of George Foster Pearce. I turn tip the report of our honoured representative ; and I find that, just as the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Fowler) mentioned some days ago, there were men of all the nations gathered at the Conference, but that the most important personage was the gentleman whom we sent from Australia., the man who represented everything and everybody, and settled everything for everybody. In this formal statement our representative says that “ I was selected “ - whoever that first’ person singular may be. - and that the Governor-General actually prayed His Majesty to issue to “ me “ letters patent, nominating and appointing “ me “ as “his “ representative ; and that the King, on the 24th day of October, 1921, by letters patent under the Great Seal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, “ and Ireland,” issued to “me” a full power, appointing “me” Commissioner, Procurator, and Plenipotentiary in respect of the Commonwealth of Australia. This “ me “ would appear to be the aforementioned person of the name of George Foster Pearce. It is he upon whose decisions have rested the fate of Empires. It would appear that the said George Foster Pearce, to wit, the “ me “ afore indicated, left Australia on the 13th October, and that “ we “ arrived at Vancouver on the 5th November. It appears that there was some other person attached at this stage to the “ me “ of whom I have already said something. It seems, further, that “ I “ was granted landing facilities at Vancouver. Our delegate was permitted to land ! When “J” ar rived- I do not know that he could do anything else when he got there - “ I,” apparently, was met by a gentleman named Hughes - not William Morris Hughes - who accompanied “me” to Washington. “My” arrival at Washington synchronized with that of Mr. Balfour and Lord Lee. Apparently these three met, because the report states that on the day of “my “ arrival at Washington, “we,” that is, Lord Lee, Mr. Balfour, and “me,” were welcomed, and “ we “ - Lord Lee, Mr. Balfour, and “me” - were conducted to our hotels by military escorts. Afterwards “we” visited the Capitol, where the body of an unknown American soldier was lying in state. Then there were prayers and the Conference, and we - that is, the people of Australia this time - now have to pay £8,500. It appears that there was a Quadruple Treaty relating to the Pacific, and, so we a,re informed, “ I “ propose to deal with that matter first, because, so we are told, of the importance attaching to “our” decision with regard to that question.
I now come to another matter. It appears that at the Conference there were a number of other gentlemen, including Cyril Player, who was representing one of the greatest newspapers in America, and whose reflections upon the different personages have some points of interest,to “ us.” This is what he had to say -
Having viewed this Pearce from four sides and on numerous occasions; having stared at him from a few feet away, from the length of a room, and from the distance of a conference chamber; having viewed him, birdlike, from above, and wormlike; from below, I find it impossible to write anything about him, he is so commonplace. And yet. next to Mr. Hughes, he is supposed to be Australia’s foremost statesman ! . . . Politically he is a vacuum.
The decision of the Conference, apparently, was that there should be some alteration or amendment in connexion with naval armaments. But what possible effect can the opinion of this country have upon the destinies of the world ? The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Fowler) in his peroration said that if only the women of the world would take an interest in this matter, what a difference it would make to the peace of the world. While I was listening to the honorable member I .was reminded of an incident in my political career many years ago, when there was opposed, to me a gentleman named Judkins, who at a meeting in Collingwood had a good deal to say about Wren’s “ Tote.” When he asked, “ Why do not the men in this country rise up and tear down this iniquity?” some poor fellow in the audience innocently inquired why Mr. Judkins himself did not lead them on to victory, and Mr. Judkins replied that if he were only tall enough and strong enough physically he would like to lead them to tear down the iniquity that so offended him. And then he added, “ But if we will not do it,I feel sure the women will!” Napoleon scaled the Alps and overran the plains of Lombardy, but evidently this Napoleon of morality has not “guts” enough to achieve fame, and so he falls back upon the womanhood of this country ! If only the women would wake up they, at least, so he says, would secure the salvation of the world.
-: - The men, at all events, have made such a mess of things that the women could not make matters any worse.
– The honorable member is quite right. But, unhappily, the troubles of the world are not solved upon sex relationships. If they were, the problems that confront mankind would be solved by our passions and pleasures, and not by our common sense. Australia is brought into this international difficulty only as a partner in the British Empire, and, therefore, our attitude towards the decisions of the Washington Conference will not affect the other nations one iota. If we were to reject this motion unanimously it would have no more effect upon the world than would a mere cork thrown into any of the ocean’s currents.
– Still you want to cut the painter.
– I was not saying anything about cutting the painter.I have heard all that since I was a boy. The honorable member’s interjection reminds me that many years ago, when the British Fleet was in Queensland waters to block the black slave traffic, it Was not the Leader of the Labour party in Australia, but the Kanaka employers of the sugar plantations of Queensland, that were talking of cutting the painter, and severing relations with the British Empire.
– And the present High Commissioner was once one of the strongest advocates of cutting the painter.
– That is so. I am speaking to-night, not because I am particularly interested in this matter, but becausethe Government and everyone else are interested in the question, and it is a good way of wasting time. It does not matter much whether one speaker, more or less, contributes to this debate; it does not matter if we speak for a week or a month, because, after all whatever we may do or say will not disturb in the least degree the other nations of the world. Of course, I . do not expect to be reported in the daily press, but at all events I shall get my sentiments into Hansard, which will reach some of my constituents who, possibly, will admire my stupidity and perhaps applaud my contribution to the stupidity of this debate.
– Order !
- Mr. Speaker, I beg your pardon. You are always reminding me of thetruth. ‘In this Chamber there can be no lack of veracity, and no excuse for stupidity. Nothing but the truth can exist here. There never was anything in the Washington or any like Conference. Wars arise out of trade relationships. The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) on one occasion said that “ War was, a purifying element”; that out of such struggles the nations emerge stronger and purified. Look at honorable members in this Chamber. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Prowse) for one, has come purified out of the fires of war. A few pious resolutions of this character in this Parliament about the Washington Conference will not alter by one hair’s breadth the trend of world affairs. As well fry to persuade a conference of burglars to adopt ‘a resolution not to rob people, because the moment they did so their occupation would be gone. This society, in which we live, is founded upon war, organized by capitalists for traffic, for conquest, for armament. This- great George Foster Pearce says, “ we,” that is “ I,” proposed to limit submarines), that is to say, departing from big submarines to submarines of smaller size, in much the same manner that a decision may be come to as to whether a boxing contest shall be decided at 10 stone, or 9 stone, or 8 stone 7 pounds. The Conference, from beginning to end, was- a farce, and I rose merely to make my contribution to a very stupid debate upon its deliberations. Wars will continue in spite of everything, even in spite of the utterances by our Prime Minister and the Prime Minister of Great Britain at church gatherings, or the comments upon those speeches by the Age, the Argus, and the press generally of Australia. These very men are themselves pessimists, because by their intimate knowledge through life-long association with public affairs, and their deep study of economics, they know that these conferences are a mere sham, a fraud, and a delusion. They know the world, including Australia, is crumbling beneath a load of debt. They know the growing danger with regard to the decay of Germany, and they know the foundation of all the absurd talk and opinions that are passed out to the reading public. As Lloyd George said on one occasion, “ You may shore up this capitalistic system a little longer so that it may not immediately fall.upon you, but you cannot long sustain it.” The growing indebtedness of the world, rival national interests, the control of the bond-holders, and the ever-growing demand for interest which is made upon the productions of rival countries render all resolutions of this character the mere expression of a pious hope on the part of nations, not one of which is prepared” to face the real problems before it. The peace of the world cannot be insured by resolutions passed by the people of the United States of America, Germany, France, or Australia. It can be brought about only by means of a transformation which will lift from the world’s production the enormous load of debt that the Great War has imposed upon it. I read to-day a newspaper statement to the effect that the total taxation of Australia just before the war amounted to £12,000;000 per annum. From the outbreak of war until 1918 this burden of .taxation upon our country and its resources increased from £12,000,000 to £33,000,000 per annum, and between 1918-19 and 1922 - a period not of war, but of peace - the taxation pressing on our country’s productions increased from £32,000,000 to over £70,000,000. The same sort of thing is occurring not merely in Australia, hut in practically every other country. That is the fundamental problem that we have to face. Because of it we find nations struggling for existence like so many rats in a pit. Despite solemn peace resolutions passed by them, they must inevitably fall upon each other and, so to speak, cut each other’s throat in the struggle for existence. What are we offered, as a means of ridding the world of this state of things 1 Merely a series of pious resolutions in which the actual facts are covered up. Every country finds that it is confronted with enormous obligations. The only solution of this problem that we are offered is a reduction in the standard of living of the consuming public. . When I see Australia confronted with a load of debt that is steadily piling up, year after year, I ask myself whether we should spend our time in discussing motions of this kind or’ whether we should not concentrate on matters that are of essential importance. If we are prepared to cut down the standard of existence in the hope that, by doing so, we may enable our country to fit itself to resist any possible aggression, why should we not be equally prepared to save our country from foreign aggression by reducing the amount which we are paying to our bond-holders? If we are prepared for this purpose to cut down the wages of the workers to the extent of 20 per cent., why should we not cut down the -amount that we are paying our bondholders? That question is not touched. We are content to believe that we can secure the peace of the world by the ratification of certain resolutions which really do not affect us. In the circumstances, I am not inclined to vote for or against this motion. Its discussion is a mere waste of time. It touches no particular issue. It does not affect the lives, the well-being, or the happiness of our people. It cannot secure the peace of the world. History teaches us that when a nation affected by a Treaty is powerful enough to spurn it, it does so, and that when a country is strong enough to apply the terms of a Treaty in a way that is odious to another party to it, it will do so. A Treaty is usually made between the conqueror and the conquered, and when the conquered considers itself strong enough to put an end to that Treaty it at once ignores it. And so all Treaties, after all, are mere scraps of paper. They always have been, and always will be so long as there remain warring classes and warring interests in the nations of the world. It matters not to Australia how this motion is dealt with. Australia has no guarantee of peace from any Treaty. When any nation desires to invade our shores, and considers that it is strong enough to do so, it will. Australia’s only protection against foreign aggression lies in her capacity to defendherself, and the capacity of her people to carry arms in the defence of the country can be secured only by Australia ridding herself of the obligations of debt imposed upon her. When that is done every man will be able to carry arms in the defence of his country from the attack of enemies both without and within.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motions (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to -
That this House approves the Treaty between the United States of America, the British Empire, France, Italy, and Japan for the limitation of naval armament,signed at Washington on the 8th February, 1922.
Thai this House approves the Treaty between the United States of America, theBritish Empire, France, Italy, and Japan for the protection of the lives of neutrals and non-combatants at, sea in time of war and to prevent the use in war of noxious gases and chemicals, signed at Washington on the 6th February, 1922.
That this House approves the Treaty between the United States of America, Belgium, the British Empire, China, France, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, and Portugal relating to principles and policies to be followed in matters concerning China, signed at Washington on the 6th February, 1922.
That this House approves the Treaty between the United States of America, Belgium, the Bvitish Empire, China, France, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, and Portugal relating to the Chinese Customs Tariff, signed at
Washington on the 6th February, 1922.
Control : Balance-sheet.
Debate resumed from 21st July (vide page 741) on motion by Mr. Rodgers -
That the paper - “ Commonwealth Government Sugar Control - Balance-sheet as at 30th June, 1922; profit and loss account for the period from 19th July, 1915, to 30th June, 1922; trading and profit and loss account for the period from 19th July, 1915, to 30th June, 1922- operating and trading accounts “ - be printed.
.- In discussing the statement made on 21st inst. by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Rodgers) in regard to the Commonwealth Government sugar control and the balance-sheet as at 30th June, 1922, I wish to make it clear that this debate has no reference whatever to the question of the renewal of the existing sugar agreement. As honorable members know, that agreement will run until about April of next year, so that we may reasonably anticipate that the House will have an opportunity of dealing with it at a later stage. In this disc ussion we are confined to a consideration of the actual working of the sugar control, and the position as it stands to-day from a financial point of view. I thi nk it will be admitted that having regard to the magnitude of the undertaking, the statement presented by the Minister is very unsatisfactory. I say, without fear of contradiction, that the ‘statement of accounts as submitted to us does not give us an opportunity to deal with the question in an intelligent manner. The balance-sheet is in respect of a period of seven years, and is absolutely devoid of detail. The Government assumed control of the industry as far back as July, 1915, and this is the first balance-sheet that has been issued. Would any private enterprise having the control of a business of this magnitude, involving the handling of millions of money, be content to go on year after year without issuing a balance-sheet for the information of those concerned ? That, however, is what the Government have done in this case; and it is on a par with everything undertaken by them since the commencement of the war. There has grown up a practice under which the spending of millions of money is handed over by the Government to Boards, and Parliament is afforded no information as to what is actually taking place. It is a system which should end at the earliest possible moment. We should get back to responsible government. That is what the Opposition has been fighting for for a considerable time.
In response to our demand for a statement of what has been done in regard to the sugar control, so that we may know whether the high price that is being charged for sugar is justified, we have submitted to us a bald statement of accounts so compiled that even an accountant would find it impossible to say whether the figures were correct. What we desire is information as to how the revenue for this purpose was obtained, where the sugar was purchased, what quantity was acquired within Australia, and what quantity was purchased abroad. With such details we should have some information for our guidance. The Minister, when asked, said he would be prepared later on to give details, but that it would take some time to furnish them because the “ sugar year “ had not yet ended. I interpreted that statement to mean that if the statement were not discussed at the present time the desired information would not be available until the end of the present year, or just as we were about to go into recess. . In the circumstances, it becomes necessary for us to do the bestwe can with the balancesheet that has been submitted.
There are one or two items to which I would direct special attention. We have, for instance, in the Trading and Profit and Loss Account the item, “ Foreign (landed cost in Australia), £18,750,034 11s. 4d.” Not one word by way of explanation of these figures was uttered by the Minister’. We are asked to be content with the bald statement that this bulk sum was paid for sugar purchased outside Australia between July, 1915, and June, 1922. Surely we should have from the Minister a statement as to where, the sugar was purchased, and whether it was obtained from different firms or individuals.
– Also what it cost in the country of origin.
– Yes; and what was paid by way of freight, and also the distributing costs.
– Further, we should be told the price at which that sugar was offered a month or so before the Commonwealth purchased it.
– If what the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Mcwilliams) has said as to that be correct, then the Government made a very bad deal on a certain occasion. We paid for certain sugar double the price at which it could have been obtained a month or two before. In respect cf all these matters we should be furnished with full information. Another item of which honorable members should take note is that appearing in the list of assets, “ Commonwealth of Australia - Payment to Treasury - Profits. £415,000.” What does that mean? We have been paying the Commonwealth Bank interest on a debt incurred in connexion with the purchase of sugar abroad.
– Should not the Minister for Trade and Customs be here?
– We have sent for him.
– He should be here to furnish an explanation; to supply us with information.
– Move the adjournment of the debate.
– I do not want to go so far as that; but the Minister for Trade and Customs is the only member of the Government who can supply us with the particulars we desire. After allowing for the item of £415,000, the Minister finds he has a deficit of £255,186. I desire some information about that item, but as the Minister is not present, I feel inclined to move the adjournment of the debate.
– I have sent for him. He will be here presently.
– I do not wish to waste my time by attempting to deal with this matter in the Minister’s absence. It is his duty to be here.
Several honorable members interjecting,
– I do not wish to take the business out of the hands of the Government, but it is useless for me to proceed in the absence of the Minister.
– I have sent for him; that is all I can do.
Mr.CHARLTON- It is simply wasting time to attempt to speak when the Minister is not here to give honorable members the information they require. I ask leave to continue my remarks.
– Play the game!
Other honorable members interjecting,. (Mr. SPEAKER. - I take this opportunity of intimating that if, after I have called for order, an honorable member offends, I shall name him without further warning. I give this fair warning to the House. I am not obliged to do so, and I have warned the House time after time that I will not continue to repeat a call for order that has not been obeyed,, but will take action against the offender.
– Now that the Minister for Trade and Customs has entered the chamber, I again draw attention to the item of £415,000, representing profits paid to the Treasury and included in the assets. I desire to know whether that money was paid some time in the past out of profits made by the Sugar Commission, and is now being refunded in order to make up this balance-sheet over the seven years’ period. In view of the fact that we have been buying sugar for a con- siderable time past, and have been losing a vast sum of money, a profit of £415,000 cannot possibly have been made in recent years. It must have been paid into the Treasury in 1915 or 1916, before the Commission commenced to purchase sugar at all; but we have heard no word of it until now. Whilst the Treasury holds that sum, there has been an overdraft at the Commonwealth Bank on which the people of Australia have been paying interest. The item for interest is shown in the balance-sheet. Why was not the £415,000 of profits credited to the Commission to help to liquidate the liabilities ?
Mr.Rodgers. - Because the House, including the honorable member, voted for it to be paid to the Treasury.
– I have no recollection of that happening.
– The amount was appropriated by Parliament, and the honorable member voted for it.
– Now I am getting the information I want. It was never intended, when we created a Commission to control sugar, that profits should be paid into the Treasury: It would have been unfair to make a profit of £400,000 each year out of the people and pay it into the Treasury.
Mr.Richard Foster. - That is nothing new.
– There are lots of things, which, though not new, should not be. Now I know where these profits of £415,000 have come from. If it was a legitimate thing to pay that money into the Treasury, and it was so appropriated by vote of the House, what power is there to put it back into this balance-sheet ?
– The honorable member knows that the amount must take its place in the balance-sheet, no matter where it has gone. It must be accounted for.
– Of course it must be accounted for, and but for the fact that this balance-sheet covers a. seven years’ period, we would have known nothing about it.
– The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) complained many times about this payment to the Treasury.
– That is so, and I moved the adjournment of the House on the subject.
– The honorable member for Wide Bay will agree with me that that money should have been paid to the Sugar Commission, and not to revenue.
– The Prime Minister promised me in the House that not a fraction would . be paid into Consolidated Revenue, after I complained.
– And since that date no profit has gone to revenue. The people have had their sugar at cost price.
– Now we clearly understand that the £415,000 is not a refund from the Treasury.
– Of course it is not a refund from the Treasury. When making my statement on Friday week, I promised, that I would deal subsequently in detail with all the accounts; and I will fulfil that promise.
– In seven years we have dealt with over £60,000,000 worth of sugar, and this balance-sheet shows a debit balance of £255,186. The total quantity of sugar handled in the seven years was 1,997,178 tons, of which 1,530,391 tons was Australian, and 466,787 tons foreign. If there’ is a debit of only £255,186, and the money has to appear in this balance-sheet, and there is no necessity to make it up, how is it that the price of sugar is not to be reduced to 5d. per lb. before the 1st November.
– That return does not show the cost of all the sugar. Some of it was high-priced.
– When I was speakingon the Budget statement last year, the honorable member claimed that my statement that only £80,000 had been paid in rebates to jam manufacturers was incorrect. This balance-sheet shows that the amount was £65,295. Different speakers have attempted to . make the public believe that a great deal of the money expended on sugar is accounted for by rebates to jam and confectionery manufacturers. Now we have the actual facts before us. The weekly consumption of sugar is about 5,400 tons. From the end of June to the 1st of November will be about seventeen and a half weeks, and during that period the Commonwealth will net at1d. per lb. £882,000. That is why I want to be. clear as to the meaning of this item of £415,000.
– Does the honorable member know that there may be a lot of tint sugar which cost £80 per ton still unsold.
– I do not know that, and neither does the honorable member. I have before me a statement from the Government, and upon that statement the House must judge the position.
– We cannot do it.
– Then what is the good of the statement. Whenever the supporters of the sugar administration find themselves getting into a corner, they begin to squib, and assert that something is not right. On Friday week, the Minister for Trade and Customs held up this balance-sheet with pride, and said that it had been audited, not only by his own officers, but by one of the chief accountants in Melbourne. Now when I base upon the information it contains a statement that an injustice is being done to the sugar consumers, I am at once told that the balance-sheet does not show’ everything. Where are we? Is there any reliable information in regard to these transactions ? Does this House count for nothing? It appears to me that we cannot place any reliance on a statement that comes from a Minister. Immediately one challenges its figures, the completeness of the statement is questioned. I desire to know why the Minister is charging the people between the end of June and the 1st November a price for sugar that will net the Commonwealth £882,000, when the deficit to be made up is only £255,186. Is it the intention of the Government to recover the £415,000 the Minister says has been appropriated ? Has that amount to be added to the £255,186? It seems to me that there is in these figures something to be answered. It is easy enough to produce a lot of figures in globo, and when they are analyzed and their defects are made known to make excuses in regard to them. It is a plain sum in arithmetic. What right have we to charge the people 5d. per lb. only from the 1st November if these figures are correct ? I know that the Minister has said, in reply to a question which might have been inspired, that, if it could be shown that the Commonwealth Government had received their money back before the 1st November, the price of sugar would be reduced. I ask the
Minister -to submit his figures to an accountant, and ask how long it will take the Government to get back £255,186 at the price fixed ?
– The honorable member knows that the amount of £255,186 represents the figure as ascertained on the 30th June. The sugar year has yet to be ended. It runs to the end of September. Who can tell in advance the exact quantity of consumption, the cost of management, interest, adjustments, &c? All these items I shall explain when I reply. I cannot do so now; otherwise I would close the debate.
– We have the statement to the end of June, which the Minister considered correct last Friday week.
– What I gave the House was an interim correct balancesheet. I explained that I would give the detailed balance-sheet for each year, and on giving that undertaking, I sent accountants to Sydney who have been closely at work preparing individual balancesheets. They are working as rapidly as possible, and every assistance is being given to them by the companies.
– The figures which the Minister presented he claimed to be accurate. He said that details would be supplied later on, but that the figures as they stood were unquestionably correct.
– Yes; to the 30th June.
– I am putting the proposition as on the 30th June. From that date until the 1st November is seventeen and a-half weeks. With a consumption of 5,400 tons per week the Commonwealth will receive £88’2,000 to make up a loss of £255,186. How can we justify asking the people to pay 6d. per lb. to the 1st November on the figures as presented to this Chamber? The cost of control for seven years has been £5.727, which is less than fd. per ton. Allowing d. per ton on a consumption of 5,400 tons per week for seventeen and a-half weeks we can estimate that £295 must be set aside for this purpose. Interest to be added, taking the proportion of other interest shown for seven years, should absorb £11,926 in the seventeen and ahalf weeks. The deficit on the balancesheet is shown at £255,186. The total amount therefore to be made up from the people should not be more than £267,407, but the Government will receive £882,000, that is to say, actually £614,593 more than required. That is the position as taken from the Minister’s own figures. I leave him to answer it. The deficit shown on the Minister’s figures ought to be wiped out in six weeks, because by the middle of this month the Government will have recovered the whole of the money which is necessary to bring about a reduction in the price of sugar. By charging an extra Id. per lb., lie Government will, have collected £302,400 in that period, a little over the deficit shown on the balance-sheet, but leaving a small margin to meet any additional expenses that may have been incurred.
On 30th March, 1920, the Prime Minister, speaking to an adjournment motion, submitted by my late respected leader (Mr, Tudor), said -
The position, therefore, may be summarized as follows: -
That was the deficit on the 1st March, 1921, and from that, time to the present we have had no statement upon the sugar question except by way of answers to questions submitted from time to time. The figures given by the Prime Minister, which evidently were prepared by officials, showed a deficit of £220,802. Surely the House should be told why very heavily increased expenditure has been incurred in regard to sugar purchased since the 1st March, 1921 ! We have not bad any explanation in the statement made by the Minister. If we have been charging 6d. per lb. for sugar since that date, we must have collected millions of pounds, and still we have a deficit of £255,186. I understand, although I have not been told of it, that some sugar was purchased abroad after the 1st March, 1921, and that the cost had to be made good; but we should have had that information supplied in this House. How can we deal with a matter of this kind if there is no such statement ? This business is being carried on year after year without any presentation of annual balance-sheets, or without any true statement of accounts being rendered to the House, and yet honorable members are expected to explain the exact position of sugar to the people. There is another statement made by the Prime Minister to which the Minister for Trade and Customs might give special attention : The right honorable gentleman, speaking on the 30th March, 1920, said that the increase in price from 3£d. to 6d. per lb. was caused, among other things, by 1&1. per lb. due in consequence of the purchase of foreign sugar to meet consumption. Now the Government tell us they propose to reduce the price by Id. per lb. The Prime Minister said that lid. was added to the price of sugar to reimburse the Government for purchases made abroad, and I am sure he would not make such a statement unless he was supplied with it by his officials. In corroboration of his statement, Mr. Gillies, a Queensland Minister, said that there was an additional charge of If d. per lb. ; and Mr. Walker, who represented the sugar people, said that there was an additional lid. per lb. to cover the cost of bringing in sugar from abroad, to meet additional profits made by the Sugar Refining Company, and to give a little extra to the retailers. I think Mr. Theodore also said that there was an additional lid. per lb. But why is the cost of sugar to be reduced by Id. only? It seems to me, in the face of the statements of these four gentlemen, that there is room for explanation. At any rate, taking the amount received by the Government as being l£d. per lb., on a consumption of 5,400 tons per week for 17£ weeks, the Government will receive £1,323,000. I have already shown that the deficit, cost of management, and the proportion of interest are likely to absorb “ £267,407. Deducting this amount from “ £1,323,000 to be collected in the period at lid. per lb., we find that the net amount to be received by the Government will be £1,055,593 more than is required for the purpose of liquidating the outstanding debt.
– With the exception of that period of control which was dealt with by appropriation in the House, I undertake, on behalf ofthe Government, that, the people will get their sugar at absolute cost price, plus the cost of management.
– Of course. We heard the Minister say so last Friday week, and we have heard the same statement on several occasions ; but we must deal with facts as they are presented to us here.
– I quite admit that; but, at the same time, the public will recognise the vast amount of material in the form of figures which had to be got from sources outside our departmental records. ‘ We have been working at top speed to get that.
– It is unfortunate that the Minister cannot face the position. It would have been better for him not to present his statement rather than to present one in which criticism shows there are many leaks.
– I challenge criticism from any part of Australia on that balance-sheet.
– Any one could do that. One could, in sporting parlance, lay 1,000 to 1 that, any accountant taking the figures in globo would declare them to be correct. It would be no business of his to ascertain who bought the sugar, or where it was bought, or the cost of retailing, and so forth. His business would simply be to certify to the correctness of the accounts.It is the responsibility of honorable members to see if, by criticism of the balance-sheet, they can point out anything wrong in it. That is what I am endeavouring to do. It is the duty of the Minister to answer that criticism to the satisfaction of the people of Australia. In support of my contention, I am quoting the Prime Minister and other authorities who have said that11/2d. per lb.’ is being charged by the Government. Let me state the position covering the period from 31st March, 1921, to 1st July, 1922 - a period of fifteen months. The Prime Minister said that he estimated a deficit to 30th March, 1921, amounting to £220,802. The approximate consumption for that period was 337,000 tons. The item of l1/2d. per lb. is equivalent to £14 per ton; so that the Government should have £4,718,000 in hand. From this should be deducted £20per ton rebate on the quantity supplied to jam, milk, and confectionery manufacturers. This rebate was first given in September of last year. The total amount of the rebate is £65,295, which represents 3,264 tons exported for the nine months ended June last. That is the actual position. The Prime Minister says that lid. has been collected in order to refund the amount outstanding to’ the Government. Other authorities say the same, so that that must be accepted for fact. Honorable members want to know why the Government have not reduced the price by l1/2d., or why they are not doing so at once.
– The honorable member will get all the facts. The House will be provided with the details of every purchase which has been made outside of Australia - every particular . regarding cost. The company is busy at work preparing the details.
– I have nothing to say against the agreement at present. It has still some time to run. I am concerned in seeing justice done at this moment to the consumers. I believe in good conditions for the cane-grower and the employee. Neither of these parties is getting more than a fair thing. Hut I doubt whether the Colonial Sugar Refining Company is notgetting a better deal than it is entitled to have.
– That is not possible under the agreement.
– The company made between £400,000 and £500,000 profit last year.
– That is what I have asked the Government, and what I would like to know. The information should be provided. Last year the company considerably increased its profits. It may have made them outside of Australia.
– The honorable member can tell to1d. what the company made out of the Commonwealth by multiplying the amount which we paid to it by the number of tons which the company treated. Out of that the company has to pay all its expenses.
– I know that for the year ending 31st March, 1920, the company’s net profits were£289,565, representing a percentage to capital of 8.90; that for the year ending 31st March, 1921, its profits were £326,939, representing 11 per cent. ; and that for the year ending 31st March, 1922, its profits were’ £452,191, a percentage to capital of 17.39. During that last-mentioned period the company paid to its shareholders a bonus amounting, I think, to £4 for every share. Without doubt,’ the Colonial Sugar Refining Company has been on a good wicket.
– The honorable member should not forget that representatives of his own party in Queensland sit on the Sugar Council, and that they have not raised this issue. They know the position.
– They do not. go into the financial side as we do.
– Some of them . are members of Parliament.
– They are not responsible to the electors of the Commonwealth. I shall not. speak further upon the agreement itself. 1 take it that the matter must come before Parliament before it expires, since the agreement will end before the next Parliament meets. Apart altogether from the agreement, I am satisfied that the price ran be reduced by the middle of this mouth. I could have no greater authority for saying bo than the Prime Minister himself. The deficit having been worked off, the11/2d. per lb. taken’ out by the Government should be released. I move, by way of amendment, therefore -
That the following words be added to the motion : - “ and the retail price of sugar be reduced to 41/2d. per lb. from the 7th August, 1922.”
Debate (on motion’ by Mr. Pratten) adjourned. .
Motion (by Mr. Richard Foster) agreed to -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act1913-1914, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work : -
Automatic! Telephone Exchange at South Brisbane (Queensland), which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, and on which the Committee has duly reported to this House the result of its investigations.
Motion (by Mr. Richard Foster) agreed to -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1913-1914, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work : -
Adelaide- Provision of office accommodation for various Commonwealth Departments, which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee onPublic Works, and on which the Committee has duly reported to this House the result of its investigations.
Motion (by Mr. Richard Foster) proposed -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee’ Act 1913-1914, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work -
Remodelling and Additions,General Post Office, Sydney, which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, and on which the Committee has duly reported to this House the result of its investigations.
Debate (on motion by Dr.. Earle Page) adjourned. ,
Motion (by Mr. Richard Foster) agreed to -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1913-1914, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed works : -
Provision of Automatic Telephone Exchanges at Brighton,Glenelg, and Prospect, South Australia, which were referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, and on which the Committee has duly reported to this House the result of its investigations.
Motion (by Mr. Greene) (by leave) agreed to -
That leave of absence for one month be given to the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory), on the ground of ill-health, and to the honorable member for . Grampians (Mr. Jowett) on the ground of urgent public business.
House adjourned at 9.59 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 2 August 1922, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1922/19220802_reps_8_99/>.