9th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Rt. Hon. W. A. Watt) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
The following papers were presented : -
Audit Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1923, No. 73.
Income Tax Assessment Act - Regulation Amended- Statutory Rules 1923, No. 77.
Papua Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1023, No. 74.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act - Ordinance of 1923 - No. 4 - Timber Protection.
Motion of No-Confidence
Debate resumed from 15th June(vide page 133), on motion by Mr. J. Francis -
That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the GovernorGeneral be agreed to -
Mat it please Your Excellency:
We, the House of Representatives of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, beg to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to addressto Parliament.
Upon which Mr. Charlton had moved, by way of amendment -
That the following words be added to the proposed Address: - “ but we consider that your Advisers no longer retain the confidence of this House owing to their attempt to limit the rights of the Commonwealth with regard to constitutional powers, with special reference to financial and industrial matters; also forthe unsatisfactory arrangements made in connexion with immigration.”
.- There are only two matters to which I desire to refer before bringing my speech toa conclusion. In the Melbourne Sun of the 9th inst. there appeared areport regarding erroneous information supplied at Australia House to an intending immigrant to Australia, into which I invite the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) to make inquiries. I have from time to time spoken very severely of Australia House, and am convinced that if a referendum were taken the people of Australia would wipe it out. The paragraph is as follows : -
Immigrants who reached Sydney by the Bulranald had some harsh things to say about Australia House.
The chief fault, according to many new arrivals, was the absolute ignorance about Australia shown by officials. One passenger, who was going to Toowoomba, stated that she was told at Australia House that she must leave the boat at Fremantle to reach her destination. It was suggested that the clerk she saw there was joking with her, but sheindignantly denied this, for she said that the clerk took down an atlas and looked at the map of West Australia. He could not find Toowoomba there, so he said that it was too small a village to be marked on the map. Many other newcomers also stated that they had been misled, and but for the help of the welfare officer, the captain of the Balranald, and the sympathetic purser, they would have been landed many hundreds of miles from their intended destinations.
The Prime Minister, I am sure, will agree with me that if such information was furnished at Australia House, then “sacking” is too good for the man who supplied it.
– What is the name of the man who gave it?
– I do not know. I would pillory the man if I knew his name.
We are frequently told that capital is such a shy bird that the slightest disturbance would be sufficient to cause it to fly away from Australia. I do not think I could do better by way of answering such a contention thanto compare the ratings imposed by two or three of the city councils in the Old Land with the average municipal ratings inVictoria. For instance, the rates imposed by the city of Liverpool, exclusive of certain other penalties that property-owners there have to pay, amount to 17s. l0d. in the £1. In other words, for every£ 1 received by way of rentals the owner or tenant has to pay ratings amounting to 17s. l0d. In the case of the town of Ossett the rating is 15s. 10d., the town of Stockton-on-Tees has a rating of 20s. 11d., and the town of West Ham a rating of 24s. l0d. I understand that other demands are also made on propertyowners by the corporation of West Ham. In the case of the great city of Glasgow the municipal rates, according to a newspaperbefore me, havebeen increased to 9s. ll½d. With poor and education rates added, the total equals 15s. 4d. in the £1, or 30s. 8d. for the year - an easy record. As against these figures I would point out that, according to the Municipal Year-Book for 1923, the average general rate struck by the municipalities of Victoria is1s. l0¾d. In the case of twenty-five cities the average is 2s. 4¾d. in the £1 ; the average for four towns is 2s. 6½d. ; the average for twenty-four boroughs is 2s. 5d., and for 139 shires it is1s. 8½d. in the £1. In the face of these figures I challenge any one to say that capital is likely to be diverted from Australia for investment in either England, Ireland, or Scotland.
.- Although it may ibe somewhat belated, I desire to . availmyself of this, the first opportunity Ihave had on the floor of the House, to congratulate the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) on his success in bringing the two parties on this side of the Chamber, into the composite Ministry that now administers the affairs of the Commonwealth. I have always held it tobe absolutely essential toa country such as this, that the primary producers should he represented in the National Parliament. It was that belief which first induced me to enter political life; but I havealso held that no party can properly representthe primary producers unless it takes its share in the government of the country. I congratulate the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page)onhis reali- zation of this’ essential^ and on, his having joined the Government, audi induced hia party to take its share in. the administration of the affairs of Australia. When the preliminary negotiations were being carried- on the Treasurer said that he would not join any Government unless as a member of tha?t Government his power would . he equal to his- responsibilities. I wish to impress- on the honorable gentleman that he mow has the power, and should realize that his responsibility is equal to his power. During the days following the publication of the final returns of the last general election, and until the arrangement for the association of the two parties was agreed to, I fairly dreaded the prospect of the meeting of Parliament. It seemed to me inevitable that the internecine war which had gone on with so much injury to the good government of this country, and which afforded so much delectation to honorable members opposite, was bound to continue. Frankly, I thought it was impossible to bring, tha two parties together, although I realized that there, was no difference; in principle between them sufficient to warrant them in keeping apart. I do not say that honorable members- of the- two parties do not differ in opinion upon many subjects,, because honorable members on this side are free to think for themselves* and are not obliged to> accept a policy turned out for them by a sausage machine-
– The honorable member is now spoiling a. good speech.
– I may be spoiling it. from the point of view of the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley). Men gathered together as we- are on this side will naturally hold their own opinions, but I have never hesitated, to say that there has not been in the past any difference- of principle between members of the two parties on this side sufficiently great to prevent them from working together. I can- quite understand that what I am saying touches honorable members opposite on the raw, because it reminds- them of the fact that, their prospect of success when facing the electors against a Government such as we have at the present time is very slight indeed. In the circumstances the next election is necessarily a very sore subject with them. If I may presume to give them a little advice, I would urge them not to dwell too much upon the prospect of the next election, as it is certainly two and a half years off.
– The honorable member’s prospects are not too bright, in view of his- small majority. .
– I consider that interjection very unsportsmanlike, especially in view of the fact that the majority secured by an honorable member sitting very near the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Cunningham) was not half as great as the majority I secured. The only hope left to honorable members opposite is that the present Government may, within the next two and a half years, do something which is likely to improve their prospects at the next general election. They must quite realize that at the present time their chance of securing office is not toehopeful.
I am very glad indeed to know that during the recess between the first and second sessions of this Parliament the members of the Government have taken in hand the administration of the Commonwealth in a way which, I think, must commend itself to all who have the interests of Australia at heart. They have dealt with the problem of putting’ an end to the duplication of Government Departments, which it is essential should be brought about. The duplication of the Taxation. Departments involves, a great deal of unnecessary expense. Two men are employed to do the work of one,, and the taxpayers have to make out two. returns of income. There are very few men,, even in. a small way of business, who, if they are wise, will prepare their own taxation, returns. Perhaps they are- more complicated than necessary,, but. it is certain that they are very complicated, and the existing practice of requiring two sets of returns from the same, .people is ridiculous in the extreme. The taxpayers of- the Commonwealth have reached the limits of their patience in this matter, and look to the present Government to solve the problem. I- regret very much that the Treasurer of New South Wales (Sir Arthur Cocks-)-, whom I know personally, and for whom I have the highest respect, has- viewed the Commonwealth Government’s proposal in connexion with taxation with absolute hostility ever since it was first put forward. He did not wait for the full particulars of the scheme. He was touring in my own electorate when the first announcement of the Government proposal was made by telegram, and he immediately published an interview in the press protesting against it. I think that his attitude throughout has been so biased that it was quite impossible for a man prejudiced as he was to come to a fair decision on the matter. There is no doubt that the problem is one that must be solved. The action of the Commonwealth Government in making a genuine (effort will be appreciated to a much greater extent by the taxpayers and electors, even though it should fail to solve the problem, than if they had sat down and done nothing. The Prime Minister stated at the Premiers’ Conference that if his anticipations are not justified, and any injustice is done to the States by the adoption of his proposal, it can be remedied when it is shown to exist. The proposal is opposed by two sections of the community, whose interests are generally considered to be in antagonism. It is opposed by those who have the heaviest taxes to pay, and by those who pay none. The suggestion that the proposal will of necessity force the State Governments to increase taxation upon those who can least afford to pay it is absolutely unwarranted. If its adoption can be shown to necessarily have that effect, it should ‘be turned down. I have studied the matter as well as I have been able to do, and I do not think that it will have that effect. I strongly urge the present Government to go on, and do something. If it should be found that in doing what they propose to do in connexion with this matter some injustice is done, that can be remedied in the light of the experience that will be gained in the operation of the new system.
By far the most important subject wc have to consider at the present time is that of immigration. With me it has become almost an obsession. I know of no public question in this country, at the present time of anything like equal importance. “Wherever I go, I can trace every grievance complained of to the one thing, and that is lack of population. We have in Australia one of the finest countries on God’s earth. I have seen a few countries, and Australia is good enough for me.
– Has the honorable :. member seen Scotland?
– I have seen a sufficient number of Scotchmen to wish we had some more of them here. If any persons are so blind or so ignorant of conditions in Australia as to think we can continue to hold this country with tha handful of people we have here at present, they are living in a fool’s paradise. This is a magnificent country, and no other country in the world at the present time offers such possibilities for the increase of production and the increase of population. We .can never hold, and should not be allowed to hold, this country unless we do our duty and fill it with population. Immediately to the north, and to the north-west, there is the continent of Asia, and I should say that between Port Said and Yokohama, more than half the population of the world is living under conditions which, to them, make the prospect of getting into Australia the prospect of an earthly paradise. The teeming millions of Asia have been asleep for centuries, but they are awakening now like a giant refreshed; and unless we do something to put ourselves into position to defend this country we shall have to leave it. .The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) the other day put forward a policy of pacificism, and spoke as though he and his party were the only people here opposed to war - as though they had a monopoly in that respect. Listening to speeches of honorable members opposite during .this and last session one might easily think that it was only they and their supporters who had fought the great war, or who had suffered from it. I venture to say, however, that there is probably not a member of the House who did not lose those near and dear to him during that conflict. It was because we were prepared for war to the extent that we had here the battleship Australia, in our waters that never an enemy shot was fired on to Australian soil. Any country - especially a country like this - that is not prepared to repel the aggressor lives in a. state of perpetual peril; and the Labour party, in representing themselves as the only people who are opposed to war, or who have suffered from war, are unduly flattering themselves. In my electorate is a centre where every eligible man enlisted, and every eligible man was killed - an appalling fact to realize. If honorable members opposite think that nil those men of whom I speak were supporters of their party, they are very much mistaken.
I am glad to know that the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) proposes to attend the Imperial Conference. I can assure honorable mem,bers opposite that I needed no browbeating to bring me to the opinion that we can get through the business of the country by the 24th August, and thus enable Parliament to be closed during the absence of the Prime Minister.
– You are a new member - you have not been here long!
– If I am a new member, I am not a “ new chum.” I know Australian conditions and politics, and I know the tactics of honorable members opposite as well as if I had been here ten years. On Friday last the Leader of the Opposition rose in a frenzy of indignation at the proposal to meet to-day instead of to-morrow. If the records of the House are looked up I think it will be found that we worked thirteen hours and a quarter last week; and the very idea of exceeding that limit was too much for the Leader of the Opposition.” I was under the impression that the Communists, who have just ‘.been admitted into partnership with my honorable friends opposite, were in favour of working five hours a day for four days a week, but the Leader of the Opposition is evidently of the opinion that thirteen hours a week is sufficient. So far as I know, all members quite realized before Parliament met that it would be necessary to sit on Tuesdays as well as other days.
– It was the practice of this House for years to meet on Tuesdays.
– And . it was also the practice of the House of Parliament in which I formerly sat. Certainly honorable members are not hardly used if they are asked to come here on Tuesdays in order that we may get through the business with as little unnecessary delay as possible.
A matter of vital importance to primary producers is the overlapping of inspections in the dairying and meat industries. In Sydney, in the case of the meat industry, there are two sets of inspectors, one for the State and one for the Com monwealth, and meat for export must l>« passed by Commonwealth inspectors. I am conversant with the meat trade, and I can say that very often, when owner* of stock are killing, they do not know what meat is going into the export trade and what into home consumption; and under these circumstances they have to pay the cost of double inspection. Further, when meat is treated wholly for export, there are often cases in which the Commonwealth inspector will not permit meat to go into the freezing chambers, although it is perfectly good for home consumption. This might be the best meat in the whole consignment, but because there is a small bruise it is debarred from export. There, again, the exporter is put to double expense caused by double inspection; the duplication is both irksome and costly. To the ordinary, layman there is no reason why one competent inspector could not act for both Commonwealth and State. Another absolute necessity is grading for export on the part of the Commonwealth. There is grading at present, but the only condition is that the meat must be healthy and fit for human consumption. Our meat market abroad has been’ damaged to a considerable extent owing; to exporters sending meat that should never have been allowed to leave thecountry. This meat, I may say, wasperfectly healthy, but of low grade; it could have been boiled down, and put into tins. The Minister might also give his attention to the question of the inspection of rabbits. Those intended for the export trade must be passed by inspectors, but, strange to say, rabbitsmarketed for home consumption are not,, and so it comes about that if rabbits are rejected for export they come on to the Australian market. I know of no subject of greater importance than that of a pure food supply for our people, and, with meat at such a high price, it is of the greatest importance that rabbits intended for the home trade should be of good quality.
There is the same duplication of inspection in the dairying industry. If one goes about amongst our dairymen, and asks what is the greatest pest, it is quite possible that one will be told that the overlapping inspector is the greatest evil, because the inspectors are so numerous, and frequently they give contradictory instructions.
One other subject of great importance to Australia is that of land settlement. It is, ofcourse, our dutyto provide for those who may come to Australia a means of earning a living. Honorable members oppositehave had a good deal to say about the necessityfor a policyof land settlement in co-ordination with immigration, and I say, what I have stated on former occasions, that all those persons holding land that is not being put to its fullest use shouldbe prepared to get out iftheirland isrequired for closer settlement.
– Come over here.
– I have advocated this policy throughout my career, but, in order that something may be done, I propose to remain on this sideof the House. We have had experience of the methods of the Labour party in New South Wales in connexion with landsettlement.I know that all we are likely to get from honorable members opposite is a quantity ofhot air whenever they are dealing with thisproblem. Nosatisfactory legislationon this subject has ever been placedupon the statute-book bythe Labour party of New South Wales. Anything that has been achieved there has been done byLiberal or National Governments, and for obvious reasons. Labour members know quite well that if thecause of closer settlement be really promoted they will lose their seats. They talk freely about confiscation, butdo nothing, because they realize that if they vote for any system of closersettlement they will be votingfor their own extinction as Labour members. I repeat that any person holding land that is required for closersettlement must be prepared to get out if he is not using it to the fullest advantage.
-But you are not prepared to vote to puthim out.
– I differ from the honorable member in regard to theproper method of achieving this object. I propose to go about the business in a practical way. I do not regard any man holding land as a criminal. Many of thesemen have done yeomanservice as pioneers in land development. They have shown whatthe country is capable of producing ; but honorable members opposite, in order toappease their ‘ ‘ red rag” supporters, adopt the view that many of our pioneers should be deprived of their just dues in order to promote closer settlement.
– You did not say that to the”Reds “ at Lithgow.
– I spoke at Lithgow just as I am speaking now, except, perhaps, that I talked a little more plainly to the honorablemember’s friends there.
– You are side-stepping now.
– I am doing nothing ofthe sort. In New South Wales, we have aGovernment fully seized of the importance of closer settlement, and everything that can possibly be doneto promote this policy is being done.
– Are you referring to Mr. Ashf ord ?
Mr.MANNING.- I do not intend to be drawn aside in this way, but I willtell the honorable member-
– There have been agood many inquiries about the Department, youknow.
- Mr. Ashford’s record as an administrator is, Ithink, equal to that of any other man who has held the office, and, so far as Iknow, there have been no inquiries into his administration.
– You have criticised him before.
– The interjection bythe honorable member for Darlingreminds meofsomething that I had intendedto say,but which, for the moment, I had forgotten. Upto the present we have heard nothing inthis debate about arbitration,although inthe short sessionearlier inthe year honorable members opposite hada good deal to say on this subject. I am wonderingnow iftheir silence about arbitration has any significance. Is it because the honorable member for Darling and his friendshave taken into partnershipthe direct actionists, who do not believe in arbitration? Is thatthe reason why, up to the present, the honorable member has said nothing? We have a very fine systemof arbitration,but, unfortunately, it has not benefited the country as it shouldhave, because ofthe actionofunionists- -
Several honorable members interrupting,
Mr.SPEAKER (Rt. Hon. W. A. Watt). - The debate was proceeding in quite an. orderly manner until the honorable member for Macquarie rose to address the House. I have already requested honorable members to respect the authority of the Chair, and I shall give no further warning.
– Every one with a little common sense must, I. think, confess that in every instance arbitration is better than the strike weapon for the settlement of industrial disputes. As employers webelieve that many awards in connexion with the AustralianWorkers Union claims have not been just what they should have been, but we loyally accepted them. Only last year the Australian Workers Union took a vote of their members to decide whether they should go in for direct action, or abide by the decision of the Arbitration Court, and there was an overwhelming majority in favour of arbitration. Last year the Australian Workers Union put their case before the Federal Arbitration Court. Frequently during the hearing of the case, the union representative assured the Judge that, irrespective of the conditions of the award, the members of the union would obey it. But what happened? Before the ink on the award was dry, the union officials, without consulting the members of the organization, who were in favour of arbitration, called upon them to strike. Last year thousands of men were out of employment, and many shearers who usually obtained work at what is known as the early sheds, did not even leave their homes, owing to a mistaken sense of loyalty to their organization. The men were misled, and as a result employers and employees engaged in the pastoral industry incurred a heavy loss. Eventually the rank and file of the union took the matter into their own hands, and decided to abide by the award, irrespective of the advice given by their leaders. In many instances the Commonwealth Arbitration Court has been brought into disrepute by the leaders of the unions, who have instructed their members not to obey an award of the Court when it is against them, and in these circumstances arbitration cannot be a success. An award can be enforced upon the employers, but only to a limited extent upon employees.
Mr.Charlton. - Awards are not enforced upon the employers.
– There is no common rule.
– That is so. In most instances the decisions of the Court have been loyally observed by employers. The Leader of the- Opposition (Mr. Charlton), when speaking on the motion for the adjournment on Wednesday last, directed attention to the deplorable conditions existing on the northern coal-fields, wherea strike is in progress.
– A lock-out.
– Well, work has been suspended, if that will please the honorable member.
– Yes, by the employers.
– In bringing the matter before the House, the honorable member was inaccurate in many of the statements he made.
– I was not.
– The information submitted was. misleading. I do not hold any brief for the colliery proprietors, because they are well able to look after themselves; but those on whose behalf I desire to speak are the wives and children of the men who are at present deprived of their employment, as well as those operatives throughout Australia engaged in industries in which coal is essential. The position is desperate, and the actions of a few men are causing a state of turmoil which must become accentuated unless saner counsels prevail. A few extremists are responsible.
– A few proprietors.
– The Leader of the Opposition did not uphold the action of the men in ceasing work when they did, and. said that, owing to a decision given by Major Crane, a stipendiary magistrate, the men had come out ; but that after they had realized that they had made a mistake, they presented themselves, and were refused employment. A man was charged by an inspector of nuisances, or some shire authority, and because he had suffered a bereavementthe prosecuting authority asked Major Crane to adjourn the case, saying at the time that the man intended to plead guilty. Major Crane took the view that it would be only a formal matter, and instead of the possible decision of the Court hanging over the man’s head during his bereavement, and compelling him to lose a day’s work in attending the Court, he imposed a fine of £1. The miners thereupon held a meeting, and decided that as long as Major Crane occupied a seat on the Bench, the miners in the vicinity of which the Court was sitting would not work during that day, and they endeavoured to bludgeon the Government into removing Major Crane from his position f or the action he took on that occasion. The first day on which the men ceased work was on Tuesday, 3rd April, and on the following Saturday the miners held a meeting in the Trades Hall at Newcastle, where they passed a resolution to the effect that they would not resume work, and would continue employing harassing tactics until such time as Major Crane was removed from the Bench. On the following Monday they again ceased work, and on the Tuesday of the same week the colliery proprietors decided that they would not put up with these harassing tactics, stating that the men could not resume work until there was some prospect of continuity of operations. There may have been instances before this which would justify the mineowners in adopting a similar attitude when they did not do so ; but we all know that it is the last straw which breaks the camel’s back.
– Have not the men agreed to resume work since then ?
– The union has decided to do what the Leader of the Opposition says, and since the stoppage have adopted a resolution that if any men ceased work they would be fined for the first offence, and for a second they would be expelled from the union. That is not the first occasion on which similar action has been taken; formerly men have been fined, and after a brief period the fine has been remitted.
– The unions have not had such a rule previously.
– When the men realized the seriousness of the position some such rule was adopted, probably with the idea of keeping the miners in the Newcastle district at work. The Leader of the Opposition said that this Government should intervene, but according to the decision of the High Court in connexion with the Bulli case, the Commonwealth Arbitration Court has no jurisdiction in an intra-State dispute.
– Did not the Prime Minister state that the mines were open to the men, only the employers wanted to impose conditions which were not embodied in theFederal award?
– I did not say that.
– The Leader of the Opposition is quite wrong. When he wets speaking I put the question to him three times in an endeavour to get a definite reply. Twice he said that the conditions sought were in the award, and then he explained away what he first said.
– I did not say anything of the kind.
– The honorable member said the conditions were in the award.
– I said that there was no right to impose conditions not contained in the award. There is a Federal award under which these men are working, and the proprietors are expecting the men to work under new conditions which should first be submittedto the Coal tribunal.
– No award or agreement was made or arrived at in connexion with this matter. During the war, when it was vitally necessary to keep the mines at work, point after point was given away by the mine-owners. I admit that it became the custom that the last man employed should be the first dismissed, but that system was brought about in the following way: - If a mine was engaged in extending its operations it employed a number of extra hands, and when operations were afterwards restricted the men who were the last to be employed were the first to be put off. It was not, however, anticipated that the application of this principle was to be interpreted as depriving the mine-owners of the power possessed by all employers of labour to dispense with the services of any employees. Mr. Justice Higgins laid it down that the employer must be permitted to dispense with the services of any employee he deemed it necessary to dismiss.
– Does the honorable member think that the employer should have the power to victimize an employee?
– No. In the State Court a man who considers that he has been victimized has the right to apply for reinstatement. However, it would be absolutely unthinkable to suggest that employers should be permitted to get rid of the spokesmen of the unions, which the Leader of the Opposition claims the mine-owners are anxious to do. One would naturally suppose that the officials of the Miners Union would be the spokesmen for the workers; but I understand that not one of the eighty men referred to by the Leader of the Opposition holds an official position in his union. No self-respecting unionist would support the contention that a man’s services should be dispensed with because he was acting as spokesman for his fellows.
– Does the honorable member contend that members of unions who are nob officials should not use their voices in the interests of their fellow nien?
– I do not say that; but it is strange that men who are not sufficiently trusted by their fellow unionists to be placed in official positions in their unions should be regarded as their spokesmen.
The following figures will give an idea of what stoppages have occurred in the coal-mining industry in the northern districts of New South Wales. In 1919 there were 128 separate stoppages; in 1920 the number of stoppages was 264; in 1921 the number increased to 471 ; in 1922 it fell to 322, and this year, to the 10th April, 151 stoppages have occurred.
– I suppose the honorable member contends that the miners have brought about all those stoppages.
– I am not saying who brought them about. The Leader of the Opposition knows very well that in many instances stoppages have occurred through a boy, or a wheeler, having some imaginary grievance.
– Have not the em.ployers brought about stoppages of work?
– As I have already said, I had no idea of bringing forward this matter in the interests of the mineowners. My hope is that a frank discussion of the subject may bring about some independent action to terminate the present unfortunate stoppage. I do not wish to use language to which exception can be taken . The Leader of the Opposition admits that the present stoppage is unfortunate. We can only hope to arrive at a settlement of the trouble by a frank discussion of the situation from all sides, but it is right that the House should be given the facts, and not a biased version. So far as I can see) it is outside the pale of the Federal Government to do anything in the matter, because they have nolegal right to interfere, but at the same time if they can do anything to stop the dispute, or prevent a continuance or extension of the industrial warfare, which is now proceeding, I hope they will take the necessary action at the earliest opportunity. Since the House adjourned on Friday, I have been informed on reliable authority that if a secret ballot of the miners were taken, it would show that an overwhelming majority of them are prepared to return to work.
– We have heard that said on previous occasions.
– In nine cases out of ten it has probably proved to be the truth.
– The same remark was made in 1916, when I endeavoured to (bring about a settlement. It was said that the employees were very anxious to return to work, but they refused, and I had a great deal of trouble in bringing about a settlement.
– Has the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Manning) ever been a member of a union?
– I have always been a member of my union. I cannot imagine any man not belonging to a union. No sane man would fail to realize the great benefit the trade unions have afforded to the workers, and realizing the good work which they have already done. I do not want to see the opportunity for similar good work in the future being spoilt by the actions, of professional agitators. It is most unfortunate that, at the present time, the unions are (being misled by class-war maniacs and self-advertising politicians. An honorable member who has interjected has asked me if I am an employers’ representative. I have always’ been an employer of labour, and on many occasions I have employed large numbers of men. I started on the lowest rung oi the ladder, and have always worked with my workmen. I have treated them properly, and have not had the slightest trouble with them. No one could have, been through the mill as I have been without having every sympathy for one’s employees. Sometimes the taunt is thrown across the chamber that an honorable member on the Government side of the Chamber ia a. Conservative, but since I have been in this House- I have come to regard that taunt as a high compliment,, because all sane, expressions of opinion on this side are branded as- conservative by honorable members opposite.
When the Prime Minister is; in Great Britain, he will have to deal with one matter- which is of vital importance to the successful future of Australia. I refer to the need for a certain amount of Imperial, preference for Australia’s products. Many of our primary industries are in a very bad. way at the present time. The cattle industry is in a- deplorable condition. There is- certainly a high local market for. fat cattle, but that is- entirely because; owing to the recent drought, only a favoured few hold any fat cattle-. On that other hand, in New South Wales, at any* rate, store cattle are a liability. Unfortunately, I have been a cattle owner to a small extent. One would not have thought- it possible -that a man owning the few head that- I hold- could lose so much money on them as I have done in the last year or. two. The- so-called “ beef barons,” to. whom our friends opposite generally refer, are now living, either on their overdrafts, or on the profits- they made a few years ago. The cattle industry must’ suffer a serious set-back unless fresh markets can be developed. The cattle men are alive to their own responsibility, ‘ and there is a possibility of new markets being opened up. A large percentage of the. population of- Asia could’ take Australian meat if those people could be persuaded to eat,it. Although most of the inhabitants of Asiatic countries are too poor to buy imported meat, there is a considerable number of them who are in a position to purchase it. The action taken by the late Government to stabilize the cattle industry is being supported by the present Administration.
The Australian Meat Council, of which I am a member, has delegates travelling through the East to see what opportunities there are for opening up new channels of trade, and’ extending the present markets, and we are very hopeful that some relief will be given as a result of the efforts of this body. Victoria and New South Wales will derive perhaps only an indirect benefit from- the expected increase in trade; Hut, unless cattle-men in the northern parts of Australia Can find outlets for their, produce-, they will necessarily flood the markets in the south-,, and render the industry unprofitable.
– Why not leave private enterprise alone- 1
– The Government agreed to the formation, of the Meat Council, and consented to a levy being struck on the stock-owners throughout Australia for the purpose of defraying the cost. The Government provided the money required at the outset to enable the Council to function immediately, but the cost will be repaid out of the first levy on the stock-owners. No Government would be. worthy of support if it declined to come to the assistance of the primary producers in such circumstances. I do not advocate the spoon-feeding- of the industry. All that was asked was. that the Government should place it in a position to help itself. The majority of those on the Council are the producers’ representatives, and the remainder represent the exporters. The cost of the scheme is to be wholly financed by the owners of the’ stock, and’ the ultimate cost to the Federal authorities will not be a farthing. I do not advocate that the primary producers should never have Government assistance. During this debate the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Patenson) was’ accused, within five minutes, first of being conservative, and then of advocating Socialistic doctrines. I was interested to hear the honorable member express the hope that markets- for our surplus fruit might -be found in China. I agree with him in advocating that a subsidy should be granted for a. direct steam-ship- service to Shanghai. One of the greatest obstacles to Eastern trade at present is that goods consigned, to China have to be re-shipped at Hong Kong;. For every Chinese merchant who comes to Australia from Shanghai, five go to America, and yet I am assured by a gentleman who is in a position to know that practically all the important trade of Shanghai is in the hands of men who have gained their commercial experience in Australia. These men are naturally anxious to do business- with traders in the Commonwealth, but they are greatly handicapped by the absence of direct shipping facilities. It would take some time to develop these new markets, and the only hope for immediate relief for the- meat industry, if we are to put it on a. sound footing in the near future) is to secure an Imperial preference. That is, no doubt. a most difficult thing to accomplish. It is opposed by people .in England who object to any tax on foodstuffs and it is strenuously resisted by others who see a .chance of helping their political party. Although the task will be a difficult one, it should be seriously essayed. A large number of unemployed in Great Britain desire to come to Australia. If we are ready to take the .surplus population of the Motherland, it is only reasonable to ask consumers in Great Britain ito purchase our .surplus products. .The -best market of all, of course, is our home market. .Five-eighths of the cattle killed in Australia is now consumed in this country, and if we had a population of 8.j000,000 the problem .of finding markets abroad would be non-existent. Of the primary products of the United States pf America, 93 per cent, are used for home consumption.
I was very pleased to notice that the Government have decided to ..guarantee a first payment of 3s. per bushel for the next wheat harvest.
– I have -announced nothing at all- about it.
– I saw a statement to that effect in the Sydney newspapers, and if it is not already a fact, I hope it soon will be. In assisting the prod peers to market their products co.opera.tively, the Government, so long as it keeps on .sound financial lines, will not have to incur any risk. The wheatgrowers are not asking .that the Government should do anything more than take the responsibility of guaranteeing an overdraft that is bound to be met. It is impossible to imagine that the price of wheat will go below 3s. per bushel, but the wheat-grower wants a guarantee of that amount to enable .him to market .his wheat co-operatively and to the best advantage. Everybody benefits if, by cooperative marketing, we reduce the margin between what the producer receives and the consumer pays. I would not, under any consideration, ask the Government to advance anything beyond the limits of safety. “We do not want a repetition of what occurred in New ‘South Wales in 1920. In .that year there was the !best prospect in the wheat market that we have ever ‘had, and the National Government guaranteed a first payment pf 5s. .The price went up to twice that amount, and a Labour Government came into office, with an inexperienced man as Minister ,of Agriculture. The representatives of the primary producers - some of whom, I frankly admit, will ask for anything in the hope of getting it - approached the Assistant Minister (Mr. Arthur Grimm), on the eve of an election, and asked him to guarantee 7s. 6d. per bushel. The Assistant Minister, who was a wheat farmer within 100 miles of my own farm, replied, “ Not on your life. 1 know that 5s. on the first payment will be quite satisfactory in view .of the fact that we shall receive the balance when the wheat is sold.” He recommended to Cabinet that the guarantee should be 5s. When Mr. D.unn came into office the same representatives approached him. They told him that the price of wheat was 10s. or more, and that he could make a name for ‘ himself, and go down to posterity .as a famous -man, if he guaranteed them 7s. 6d. per bushel. He not. only did what they asked, but did it without consulting Cabinet. Although wheat that year brought 6he unprecedentedly high price of ab.out 7,s. per bushel, the Government had guaranteed ‘7s. 6d., which was not made on .the first .payment, but later. Thus the guarantee was considerably in excess of the price the farmers obtained for their wheat, with the result that the “ Consolidated (Revenue suffered - to the extent -of over £ 1,000,000. Such a guarantee -was financially unsound, and wheat-growers at the present time are not asking for any such thing; they are merely requesting the -Government -to guarantee the ‘Commonwealth Bank, or the Associated Banks, through the Commonwealth Bank, against loss on an initial payment of 3s. It is desired to leave every farmer free to join the Pool or refuse ‘to do so’ ; I do not believe in compulsory Pool’s. The adoption of the proposal would .enable the farmers, if they wished to do .so, to market their wheat co-operatively. I am very sorry to hear that what I read in the newspapers on this subject is incorrect. I trust .that the Government will give the proposal favor able consideration in ‘ the near future.
I would like to deal briefly with the question of the supply of wire netting. The previous Government, prior to .the elections, /removed the duty from British wire netting and gave a bonus to Australian manufacturers with the object of enabling them to compete with British manufacturers. Unfortunately, at the present time, we cannot buy imported netting, and Australian manufacturers are not doing anything to meet the demand. I placed an order for wire netting about six weeks ago, and I am told that I shall not be able to obtain it until the -middle of July. I- am acquainted with other farmers who have been waiting for netting which they have had on order for three or four months. Without netting we cannot fight the rabbit pest in New South Wales. I trust that the Government will look into the matter and endeavour to make arrangements with manufacturers to increase the supply, so that it will more nearly meet the demand.
Much trouble has been caused, and much money has been wasted in this country, in connexion with the collection of the War-time Profits Tax. When the tax was instituted it was not intended that it should be imposed upon primary producers, but it has been so applied by the Taxation Department. Many safeguards were put in the Act so that primary producers would not be compelled to pay, and those who have employed skilled accountants have very rarely been called upon to pay. Others, however, have paid large sums, and it is unfortunate that there- are persons in the community who have inside information about amounts which have been overpaid. These people go to the taxpayers and offer to take steps . to recover the amounts wrongly paid if they are allowed to retain half the tax refunded. The man who has paid the tax under the impression that he ought to have paid it, readily agrees to the request. Those who are obtaining the refunds are not reputable accountants, or they would not descend to such practices, which are, however, very largely followed. It has been proved that large amounts have been paid under the War-time- Profits Tax- Act which ought never to have been collected. -To illustrate the state of chaos that has been created, I can give an amazing illustration from my own knowledge. A man who had lodged his returns as required was assessed by the Department. His accountants took the matter up with the Taxation Commissioner, who ‘ admitted that the assessment was not correct. This was done time after time, and finally, after eighteen months, the Department came to the conclusion that it owed him a small amount, and sent him a cheque accordingly, although he had never paid them a penny. That story may sound ridiculous, but it is a fact. I do not think it is within the province of any Government Department to collect revenue which should not legitimately be paid. In many instances, however, revenue is collected . by the Taxation Department from taxpayers who are not liable to pay,. but have furnished returns in error. This defect must of necessity be remedied in the near future, and -that can be done only by intrusting tax collection to one authority. At present there are two taxing authorities, but there is a prospect of the early abolition of duplication in regard to taxation.
The taxation of leasehold properties must also receive attention in the near future. The Department interprets the Act to allow the collection of land tax in respect of leasehold areas, but, strangely enough, has not collected the tax. The assessments are sent out each year, but no request is made that the tax be paid; consequently, the settlers do hot know at what moment they may be called upon to pay considerable arrears. The method of arriving at the capital values of these leasehold properties was most amazing. In many instances, the valuation put on some leaseholds was in excess of the value of the properties, including stock and improvements. Parliament did not intend that leasehold areas should be taxed, and it would be very much in the interests of the country if these assessments- were annulled.
I compliment the Postmaster-General (Mr. Gibson) on the manner in which he has administered the Postal Department, and endeavoured to meet the requirements of both country and city. In New South Wales the Postal facilities are probably much worse than in any other State in Australia; the citizens have been absolutely neglected for years past. I hope that the administration of the Department will, in a short time, regain the standard of efficiency which obtained prior to the post and telegraph services being taken over by the Commonwealth. Huge profits have been made by the Department, and, at the same time, the services have been starved. We have been told that it is impossible to obtain the necessary material to provide an efficient service, but I am afraid that that excuse has been too often used to cover bad administration. A great deal has been said about the necessity for reducing the postage rate, and, no doubt, when the Estimates are discussed this matter will be well ventilated. Efficiency is the first consideration, and that should be assured before any reduction of charges is made. It is infinitely preferable to pay 2d. for an efficient service rather than to continue the present inefficient service, which would be dear at a penny. The inadequate postal facilities throughout the country districts are a very great hindrance to permanent settlement, and should be improved before people are asked to settle and develop the out-back country. Unfortunately, that is not the present policy of the Postal Department. Many parts of New South Wales could be linked up with existing telegraph lines by the erection of a few additional miles of line. For many years people in the Riverina district have unsuccessfully advocated the erection of about 15 miles of trunk line to connect the two existing systems at Wyalong and Condobolin. The advent of the telephone service in country districts has made the living conditions of the settlers more bearable, and I urge the Postmaster-General to adopt a progressive policy in this regard. When the Estimates are before the House, I shall urge him to improve the efficiency of the postal service before any reduction is made in postal rates.
Question - That the words proposed to bo added be so added (Mr. Charlton’s amendment) - put. The House divided.
Majority . . . . 13
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- Having disposed of one amendment, I presume we can deal with another.
I quite recognise that, since our last meeting, the Government have immensely strengthened their position, and consolidated it in a variety of ways; and that the press of this country, which previously was critical of the Government, has now become very friendly towards them. That, of course, strengthens the Government in relation to their direct supporters, and weakens the position of those particular members opposite who showed a disposition to be too critical.
I propose to make various quotations from the daily press of this country, not merely because they are criticisms of the Government, but because they are a defence of the position which I propose to take up. I do not quote the daily press as any justification for taking up a particular position, or because its opinions possess any greater value than do my own. I do so for the reason that the views which I propose to put forward during the course of my speech may be regarded in some quarters as extreme, irrational, and absurd. I propose to show that these are views which have been expressed by the anti-Labour press of this country, until the last week in the majority of instances, and, in some cases, until the last few days. The daily press, not only has changed its critical attitude towards this Government, but it has changed its opinion in regard to many public questions which affect Australia at the present time.
The subject which I propose to make the theme of my discourse is that particular subject for the discussion of which the Prime Minister has promised us ample time and opportunity. The honorable gentleman, of course, has not told us. what he means by “ ample,” but I feel sure that he will be delighted atour having taken advantage of his offer. He has promised us that, before the House rises, and he takes his departure for Europe, he will present us with the agenda of the Conference which is to be held in London. I am not in the least interested in the verbiage of that agenda. I know its purport, and that is sufficient for me. The newspapers have stated that the Prime Minister will give to this House, before he departs, a clear, concise, and definite statement of his opinions. We are not interested in that statement; we know what its nature will be, because the Prime Minister, in his peregrinations throughout the country, has not been able to contain himself - he has dropped a little bit here and a little bit there, with the result that only a blind man would be unable to follow the trail which he has laid. That furnishes us with ample material with which to deal.
The Prime Minister whenhe was Treasurer in the Hughes Government last year, went to Adelaide, where he pointed out that the situation was critical, and that upon its development depended the future prosperity and safety of Australia. He said that,unless the stability of Europe could be assured, this country would be faced with serious and tragic times. He went on to point out to his audience that this country was not capable of living for itself, or by itself, apart fromthe other countries of the world, but that it was, after all,a mere puppet in the stream of internationalevents. The honorable gentleman became Prime Minister in a Government of his own formation, andthe situation became more hopeful ; he then embraced the view that this country couldhe saved irrespective of the international situation, or of the stability or instability of Europe. The honorable gentleman attended a gathering of mem bers of the Millions Club in Sydney, at which he made the statement, “ The future is bright. Under my Government, Australia is in for an era of prosperity and happiness.”
I want to draw the attention of honorable members not only tothe apparent objective of the Government, but also to their real objective, and the methods which they propose to adopt. In the month of March last, the Prime Minister attended a meeting of the Women’s National League- a great gathering of the Tory womenof this community. He said to those ladies -
Some of you may thinkthat I am aConservative. The Conservatives are going toget the shock of their lives. There is no one more radical than myself.
That was a revelation ! One of the daily papers, which now is supporting him, said that some of the ladies whoheard himfainted with fright, and others who knew himlaughed. Later, another daily paper,which now is supporting him, said -
When this radicalism is translated into action, it demonstrates itself tobe the most unadulterated Toryism.
Having declared his Radicalism, he proceeded to thehome of another great Radical at Mount Eliza-the home of Sir John Grice - where he made this statement -
I am going to give Australia a policy that will help it to fulfil its great destiny. My Government will build a national edifice, and placeiton foundations that will endurefor all time.
Babylon may fall ! The glories of Greece may fade, and Rome may crumble, but “ My kingdom endureth for ever !” The honorable gentleman next went to an “ At Home “ given to yet another great Radical, the fiery and ferocious Trotsky - the honorable member for Maxwell-
Mr. Fenton. The honorable member for Fawkner.
– No; I have correctly stated whom the honorable member represents. Speaking at the honorable member for Maxwell’s At Home onthe 25th April last thePrime Minister said-
If the Government could get three years free from political disturbance-
– I said the “ country,” not the “ Government.”
– This is a quotation from the Government’s own press.
– It is a misreport.
– The honorable mem, bear, as reported, said; -
If the. Government could get three years free from- political disturbance- there would be an advance in wealth, population, and prosperity beyond the people’s imagination.
How wonderful ! How vastly superior is this policy to the Red objective - the terror of the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Jackson), which will be- realizable only after we are dead. Here in this speech we have the promise of the millennium. Here we have the- exact period of incubation, and the birth of the new millennium absolutely specified. It is to be incubated arid born within three years, and is to be- founded, of course, upon a basis that will endure for ever ! Compared- with this, Mr. Speaker, the Labour objective is but insignificant to me. If any man by any method can give me. within three years, health, wealth, happiness, and prosperity for this community, then’ I shall support that man and the policy of his Government. I am. called upon, however, to- exercise some reason, and full of faith though I am-, I put to the Prime Minister what I think is a reasonable question, “ How are you going to realize this Paradise of yours?” His answer is, “I shall realize it by three different methods - I shall close Parliament! Take a trip Home! Attend a Conference.” Truly wonderful ! Let us see clearly and precisely for ourselves what he is going to discuss at the Conference. He has told us that the Conference will -
Settle problems vital to Australia’s welfare
That is to be done, not within, but outside Australia -
Upon this settlement Australia’s future prosperity depends. This settlement is imperative and pressing.
This is all very well, but why close Parliament? If these problems are imperative and pressing, ought not the Parliament of Australia to continue in session in order that it may be speedily consulted and its opinions recorded ? Should it not remain in session while the Conference is sitting in order that it may transmit to London its opinion upon these questions that are so important, imperative, and pressing, before, and not after; the Conference has registered its decisions with respect to them?
The1 Prime Minister takes a different view. There is no analogy, it would seem, between Australia during a state of war and Australia in times of peace. During the war this Parliament remained in session in order that we might consider from time to time problems- that were imperative^ pressing, and important to this country. .The problems that now confront us are exactly those with which we were faced during the war. They are vital to the welfare of our country”. They are imperative and pressing, and Parliament therefore ought to be consulted in regard to- them. The PrimeMinister, however, says, “ No. I refuse to allow Parliament to remain in session. I will not attend the Conference unlessParliament is closed” down. I shall refuse to solve even the problems- of Empire; I shall refuse to save this country and to bring about that beautiful kingdom of bliss which is beyond the imagination unless you- permit me. to close down this Parliament.”
He furnishes us with all sorts of reasons for this determination on his part. I for one am not going to be angry or to dispute the reality of those reasons, since we know what the real reason is. He attends a meeting of the Cabinet and says to members of the Country party, “ Gentlemen, do you remember my Maryborough speech, in which. I told, the people of Australia that you were mental paralytics,, and that your policy would foe ruinous to Australia?” “Yes,” answer members of- the Country party, “do you want to apologize?” “No,?’ says the Prime Minister, “ I desire only to say that, as the result of closer association with you, my opinion has been confirmed. I want to intimate to you members of the Country party that you have not sufficient capacity to conduct the Government during my absence. I refuse to intrust you with the prerogative of legislation in my absence, because if I were to do so, and allow the Parliament to remain in session, you would commit political suicide.” He goes on to say, in effect, “ Looking at myself in the mirror of human history, I see myself reflected as the only feature that saves this Government from absolute incapacity and imbecility.”
And so I say- to the honorable gentleman, “ Go to England’ if you wish, ‘but surely you ought to take us into your confidence and tell us what you are going to do alt the Conference.” That, at least, his most faithful supporters were entitled to ask of him, and when they did he replied, “ The problems of this country are internal and external. But the internal problems are insignificant, subsidiary, subordinate, ‘and subject to the external problems, and are solvable only by solving File problems of Empire.” On the clay following that on which the Prime Minister made that statement, a Melbourne daily newspaper, which is now supporting the Government, said, “ The Prime Minister proposes to go abroad to save the world, while ignoring domestic problems close at home.” Another daily newspaper in a leading article said that the Prime Minister’s speeches sounded like “ sermons to a simple world.” I, however, am not going to question this statement on his part. I do not follow the carping criticism of a daily press which supports a public mau at one hour and opposes him the next. I take this clear and definite statement, and I say to the honorable gentleman, “ If you can only save this country by first of all saving the world, by all means save it. If you can solve the internal problems of Australia only by solving first of all the problems of Empire, then by all means solve the problems of Empire ! Have a trip Home on the strength of it, and good luck to -you, but at least take us into your confidence and tell us something of your intentions.”
The Prime Minister has said, “ I will tell you what are the problems as I see them, and what are the solutions.” He has said that the solution of the internal problems of Australia 13 dependent upon the solving of Empire and world problems. The salvation of Australia, according to him, does not depend upon the volition of its own people. Its problems are not solvable within its own territory or by the capacity of; its own people. Australia is but a mere puppet on the stream of the world’s events, and its problems are solvable only by- this honorable gentleman going abroad to see and do! And so he said at Adelaide, “Having told you that the solution of our internal problems de- pend upon the solution of external ones, I will tell you what those external problems are. Empire problems are the most vital of all, since Australia’s welfare is wrapped up in them.” These problems are three in number - Empire defence, Empire foreign relations, and Empire trade relations. The Prime Minister said at Adelaide -
Those are the three great questions upon the settlement of which Australia’s future unci prosperity depend.
That is clear and definite enough. Then he said, first as to defence -
It is impossible for Britain to maintain alone the defence of Empire.
Honorable members will notice that I lay the emphasis on the word “ alone.” Britain cannot maintain alone the defence of Empire. With that I shall subsequently deal. The Prime Minister went on to say -
And no Dominion of the Empire is capable of defending itself. The Dominions and Britain must, therefore, act together.
Of course, when each section of the Empire is too weak to save itself, they must all act together. He went on to say -
The standard of defence necessary must be governed by Imperial foreign policy.
What is that? We have no statement to define it. I am not raising the question now ; I merely want now to present the case as it has been presented to this country in different parts of the Commonwealth. This Imperial foreign policy, whatever it is, depends, we are told, upon the settlement of Empire trade relations. Thus our defence depends upon foreign policy, and the foreign policy upon Empire trade relations. This is made clear in the following statement by the Prime Minister -
Without a satisfactory settlement of Empire trade relations, a common foreign policy and a fully co-ordinated system of defence cannot be expected.
Now we get it. Because -
The strength of Empire must come, not from the growth of armies or navies, but from the growth of trade and commercial prosperity within the Empire.
That is clear and definite. The Prime Minister said further -
Since Britain depends upon the Dominions for the absorption of the bulk of her exports
Incidentally, and as an interpolation of my own, I say that that is not true ; but, accepting the statement for the present, the Prime Minister went on to say -
Britain should reciprocate, and place our trade upon a definite basis, and should compel the stream of Empire trade to flow down its natural channels.
Where does the trade of the world flow now? In what direction? Ask the Prime Minister, and he tells us, as he told the Sydney Chamber of Commerce -
It flows down channels governed by rules of business, and decided by the test of pounds, shillings, and pence.
Not down the channels of kith and. kin, country, and Empire. It does not follow the flag; it follows the cash-box. So the problem is how to divert the trade of Empire from its unnatural business channels into its natural, Imperial, patriotic channels. That is the problem, and the Prime Minister has the solution. He will go to London, and when there will persuade the British Government to give preference to Australian products in British markets. Honorable members will note the process of the argument - Imperial defence resting upon foreign policy, foreign policy upon trade relations, and trade relations upon preference in British markets to Australian products. There is the message. There is the Divine word, the saving grace, the way, the truth, and the life. This is the way by which to save Empire and country. This is the key, the core, the kernel, the pith, the very heart of things. Get this, and you save and solve the problems of Empire. Get this, and you will be able within three years to realize for your Empire a kingdom of bliss beyond all powers of imagination that will endure for ever. How wonderfully simple is the solution of all the great problems of life once you understand them. Happy is the country and great is the empire that can solve its difficulties by a tax on tinned meat and a threepenny impost on a bushel of wheat. How fortunate is our country, and how proud we should be, that our Prime Minister has made this wonderful discovery. He is the man who will carry this message of redemption to the people who dwell in darkness 13,000 miles away. He is going to enlighten the men and women of England - the heathens who, in their blindness, have never been able to discover this wonderfully simple remedy for themselves. Behold the world and its difficulties, and behold its saviour! This is the all-important question; everything else is subsidiary to it. We have, then, to consider, the fundamental question of preference. I may tell honorable members at once that I regard it as a mere blind, camouflage, dope, something covering the real purpose for which the Prime Minister proposes to visit England. I intend only to discuss it incidentally. Twenty years ago, Mr. Balfour, as Prime Minister of England, attended a dinner, and when some one raised the question of Imperial preference, he said -
I have heard of it for many years - ever since I was a young man. All that I know about preference in Great Britain is that it has killed all those who have been its friends.
At that time - in 1903 - Joe Chamberlain, who was Secretary of State for the Colonies in the Balfour Government, which was a composite Conservative Government, similar to what we have here, had a disputation with members of the Government on the subject. I am not sure at the moment whether he was a member of the Government at the time, or had just broken away from it. I think that probably he was a leader of an independent section of the party, and went out to promulgate his own ideas. “He went to St. Andrew’s Hall, in Glasgow, and there promulgated the doctrine of Tariff reform and Imperial preference. He said to the people of Great Britain -
The safety of the Empire depends upon Imperial preference. What I want is a tax of 3d. per bushel on wheat, a tax on flour and dairy produce, and a 5 per cent. tax upon meat, in favour of the oversea Dominions.
He went on to say, “I will combat the arguments ‘of those in Great Britain who tell you that I wish to impose a tax upon the food products of the British people. I tell you that I will remit 75 per cent. of the tax upon tea, and 50 per cent. of the tax upon sugar and coffee. In short, I will remit to the British people more taxation than I propose to impose on behalf of the oversea Dominions.” He made a further statement, which I shall quote -
I can speak with authority on this subject. The Colonies are prepared to meet us. In return for a very moderate preference, they will give lis a substantial advantage. They will not destroy those industries which they have already established, but they will not in the future put on Tariffs to start new industries in competition with those of the Mother Country.
Will the Prime Minister or any other man in this Parliament go to England at the present hour and on behalf of Australia promise that no Tariff duties will be imposed for the creation of new industries in this country? I am sure that be will not. I do not know where Mr. Joseph Chamberlain derived his authority for the statement he made. What was the result of his campaign throughout Great Britain in support of Empire preference ? He was ignominiously beaten. His division of the Conservative party was destroyed. The masses of England wiped them out; they were hostile to any system of preference. We need not discuss the reasons now - those are the facts. Joseph Chamberlain at that time said to the people of England, “ You have less trade to-day than you had ten years ago, and you will have less twenty years hence.” What is the position to-day ?
Let me quote from a daily newspaper of this city, the London correspondent of which said the other day -
Even such an Imperial idea as Imperial preference has been dropped in England, because it can make no headway against the contention that Imperial preference means a tax on food.
That is the situation in England to-day. In the same newspaper there appeared special articles dealing with the ruin of British agriculture, and showing that the farmers are being Turned, by overseas competition. The competition of foreigners ? No. By the competition of Australian products on the English markets; by the competition of our wheat and dairy products. The farmers do not want preference: they want Protection. But the British Government dare not impose a Protective Tariff on behalf of the agriculturists of Great Britain.
One of the newspapers of this city has stated that Lloyd’s Bank in London, alone, has 12,000 British farmers on its books, to whom it has advanced £14,000,000; that such, was the. precarious position of British agriculturists that it looked as if all their farms were going to fall into the hands of the bank. And it must be remembered that Lloyd’s Bank is only one of many banks of Great Britain. What did the British Government do ? It reduced the assessment on agricultural properties in Great Britain by 75 per cent., and in that way lost immense revenue. Further, the municipalities lost revenue,, and the British Government, of course, had to “compensate those municipalities to the extent of millions. That was the only form in .which the British Government dare subsidize agriculture in Great Britain. Thereupon a daily paper in this city made this statement -
If the people of England will not submit, to a tax on imported food in order to save British agriculture from ruin, they will not submit to it for the benefit of a people thousands of miles away.
In this country we impose duties of 30., 35, and 40 per cent, on British products. What for? To permit those British products to come into this country ? Not at all. The duties are imposed to keep those products out, and we impose them because we are a Protective country, desiring to build up industries within our own ranks. We impose a super tax on foreigners. In the boot industry we produce enough for the needs of Australia, and the 40 per cent, duty simply keeps British boots out of our markets. It is no advantage to the British boot manufacturers if we impose even 1,000,000 per cent, on foreign boots.
The only value of preference is in the case of those products of which our own factories are not yet sufficiently developed to supply all we need, and in order to make up the shortage we have to import from overseas. But just in proportion as. our factories develop, and we are able to supply our own needs, so preference automatically disappears. As I said before, the farmers of England demand, not preference, but Protection. There is no chance of their getting Protection, and one of the newspapers of this city has told us the reason -
The urban population, including millions, of people living on the borders of destitution and starvation, want cheap food, which means free importation of food.
That is not my statement that millions are living on the- borders of starvation, but that of an anti-Labour newspaper. This is one of the trophies of war. However, the agriculturists of Great Britain desire Protection against the products of Australia as against the products of every other country, just as our industries demand Protection against British products as against the products of all other countries, while the starving- people of Great Britain demand the” free importation of foods. -A gentleman, who is a member of this Chamber, wrote a newspaper article the other day, in- which he said- -
Crowds of earnest men have gathered round the- banner of- Imperial preference. On .the platform and in the press an ever-swelling chorus of eulogists have sung its .praises.
But, alas, they have all sung to the deaf, and we are told - lt is not -the Government, but the people of England, that need conversion.
There -we have a clear and definite statement that it is not the Government but the people that need conversion. 1 need not raise the question of British preference .on Argentine meat as against Australian meat, because there” are two sides tff it, but I remember .that, on the fi th April, the newspaper cables were full of the troubles of the English .and Scotch fishermen. It appears from news that has since come to hand, and of which mm have had meagre .details in cables, that the fishermen of England and .Scotland were starving. They could get no coal for their trawlers, and therefore could mot .go ‘to sea and. catch fish; but into the harbors of England and Scotland came German trawlers, supplying fish, which the fishermen of England and Scotland could not supply, while the wives and families starved. What was the reason? The reason was that the coal barons of England, who are a .powerful influence in the British Government, had found that they could get higher prices from the Germans than they could in /England, and, therefore, they sold their coal to the Germans. The German trawlers could put to sea and catch fish, and could ‘bring it into English and Scotch ports, and sell it to the population. Birt .the fishing people were starving, and, :i,t last, driven by hunger and destitution, they rose in revolt, in Aberdeen and elsewhere, against the intrusion of these German trawlers. . The fish brought in was thrown .into .the sea ; then troops were marched out against these fishing people, bayonets were -.fixed, batons were used, mid helpless women -were ‘beaten down in the streets, ;all to defend the interests of the British coal barons, who could find greater profits An supplying German trawlers -than in supplying the trawlers of their -own countrymen. Can it be said that a ‘Government which would permit its own people to starve in the interests of the coal barons, and in the interests of the very people with whom we have waged war, will turn round and give preference to Australia 13,000 miles away? It is a wild idea, a dream - more than a dream, it is a “ dape.” But I have much else to deal with. I could -occupy the whole of my time in elaborating this one question.
Any man can see what is operating. The Prime Minister is going overseas. What for ? To convert the British people to preference. May I here interpolate that, two months ago, the Sun, through its cables, stated that Mr. Bonar Law was going to be sick, and retire. I should say that one reason he was going to retire was that he was “ sick “ of his colleagues. The cables stated that, apart from Mr. Stanley Baldwin, there was no man in the British Government who had any capacity, thought, speech, or action. Mr. Bonar Law has been “ sick “ according to schedule, and he has retired, and Mr. Stanley Baldwin has become Prime Minister. Thus we have two Stanleys .and “ B’s,” and both are business men. What would be the result of a change over, that is to say if, when our “ B “ went to ‘England to advocate preference for Australian products, the British “ B “ came to Australia to advocate Free Trade in the ‘Commonwealth in order to provide an outlet and a market for British manufactures? :Of course, every honorable member knows that both missions would be futile. As a matter of fact, this question of preference is .only so much camouflage. It is not the real issue at all. I admit, of course, that it suggests a very beautiful outlook, but it is merely so much dead-sea fruit - attractive to look upon, but crumbling to dust and blown away at the ‘first breath of reality. This proposed mission to Great Britain to .demand preference in British markets for Australian products is :but a smoke screen for -the real objective. When the Prime Minister reaches London he will be met with this (reception - “ My .dear Mr. Bruce, let us come to ;the real issue, which is not one of preference at all. With the collaboration of Australia we won tlie war that was to end wars. Now, what are you prepared to contribute annually out of your revenues in preparation for the next bloody war?” That is the real .issue. ‘ To say that the mission has any other objective is merely to harbor a delusion.
But let us see how the case is presented to us. Great Britain, we have been .told, is no longer able :alone to .maintain .the defence of the Empire. Alone, no., .Can
Britain defend her sea-girt isle and its Dominions? If not, there is still preserved to her the luxury of her millionaires and the misery of her millions; there is still preserved to her the England of Drake and of Blake; of Shakspeare and of Milton. There is still preserved the sea-girt isle which she has been able to defend against all the Empires that have borne down upon her. But she has oversea Dominions. But cannot she defend Nigeria, Togoland, Egypt, the West Indies, the East Indies, the Malay Straits, and her interests in China and elsewhere? No honorable member opposite would dare to say that Great Britain cannot, because to admit that would be to confess that the days of the Empire were numbered. Honorable members dare not say it, and so they are silent. It is admitted then that Great Britain can defend all her coloured Dominions; all her brown, her yellow, and her black people, and, therefore, the real problem is the defence of those portions of the Empire that are not black, or brown, or yellow, those portions that are inhabited by white men - Canada, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. Great Britain can defend her coloured, but, so it is suggested, not her white possessions.
– Would you allow those starving people of England to pay taxation to give us protection against aggression ?
– Does the honorable member say that they do?
– Most decidedly they do.
– Right. Do not forget it. I call upon Hansard and the daily press of this country to place it on record that this Australian, the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory), upon the floor of this House, declares that the people of Australia are dependent for their national existence and defence upon the starving people of England. Would any other honorable member like to take up the same position ? As I have said, Great Britain can defend her coloured Dominions, and so the problem resolves itself into the defence of other portions of the Empire. Let us consider Canada. .During the last ten years 400,000 people have crossed her borders, many of them coming from the United States of America, but the great majority from countries outside the British Empire. To-day the big industries of Canada are in the hands of Yankee capitalists. The share-holding of her big commercial and industrial organizations are every day falling into Wall-street hands. Two-thirds of Canada’s commerce is not with Great Britain at all, but with the United States, and to all intents, . except in name, Canada is a self-governing province of the United States. She fears no foreign invasion, and so she imposes no responsibility in this respect upon Great Britain. Canada need not be considered. She is not going to contribute one single penny piece towards the defence of the Empire, because the United States . guarantees the integrity of the American continent, and behind that doctrine, rightly or wrongly, Canada is sheltering. Therefore, the people of Canada are not dependent for their defence upon the starving population of Great Britain.
Let us now turn to South Africa. Twenty years ago 25,000 armed men in South Africa bid defiance for ‘two years to the might of the British Empire. To defeat them Great Britain had to spend £200,000,000 and call upon the services of 250,000 armed men. Great changes have since taken place. The Boers had no seaport in their possession, but still they defied the might of Britain for two years. Now South Africa is a unified State - unified at least against alien enemies, whatever internal divisions there may be - and, if necessary, could call upon at least eight times the fighting power of the Boers. If any leader should take 400,000 men into ‘South Africa to-day and tell the people there that they have no strength with which to defend themselves, the South African people would say, “ It cost Great Britain £200,000,000 of money, and 250,000 men twenty years ago to subjugate us. It would cost twenty times that amount if any effort were made to-day to assail our liberties.” It is not in South Africa that public men can be found who will say that they have no strength, or are lacking the power to defend themselves from aggression. Let us come to our own country - this great Commonwealth which, it is said by some, has not the power to defend itself. In Australia we have a much larger white population than South Africa. Let us recall what
Chamberlain said in 1903. These were his words -
There is another product of the British Empire- -
He was referring to the overseas Dominions - that is men. Loyal men, inhabitants of distant States, rushed to our assistance.
Chamberlain was then referring to the Boer War, and his quotation concludes -
They did not leave us to stand alone.
To-day it is the so-called loyal Australians, and not British statesmen, who fear they may be standing alone. Years before Chamberlain used Whose words, long before we transported large bodies of men to Europe, or before we sent men unaccustomed to the hardships of war to fight in South Africa in the interests of the proprietors of the gold and diamond fields on the Band, English statesmen spoke - and that which I have quoted i3 characteristic - in an entirely different strain from that of the capitalists in this country. Mr. Joseph Cowan, once a prominent member of the House of Commons, and who was also the proprietor of the Newcastle Guardian, in his Diamond Jubilee speech, said -
Our Colonies supply us with markets for our products, with outlet for our surplus capital, contribute to our wealth unci immeasurably overpay the cost and peril of their defence.
Let us contrast that statement of an Englishman with those made by Australians. We have to ask ourselves what Joseph Cowan meant when he spoke of those who were contributing to the wealth of .Great Britain and immeasurably overpaying the cost and peril of their defence. You, of course, Mr. Speaker, as well as others, have read such poems as “ The Song of the Shirt,” in which we are reminded of the drudgery and degradation in which women in Great Britain had to work. The ex-British Prime Minister (Mr. Lloyd George) in May, 1914, just prior to the war, said -
More than one-half of our wage-earners are living on wages which do not allow them and their families the same amount of nourishment which they could obtain in a workhouse or a prison.
Honorable members will recall a gentleman who used to occupy a very prominent place in this Chamber, who, when speaking of the conditions of the working classes in England prior to the war, said that they were so degraded in their working conditions “ that their souls were attuned to the slums in which they dwelt.” The British capitalists are responsible for creating the conditions under which the working masses of England have to live, and largely as a result of their conduct hundreds of thousands of men at the outbreak of the last great war, were classed as “ C3,” which meant that they were unable to carry arms in defence of their country. Has a foreign enemy degraded these people 3 The men who dragged the masses of the British population into the. slums and down into degrading drudgery, were Englishmen. They were capitalists, and men of business - cold, cruel, and relentless men, who have no regard for kith or kin, who have no human instincts. They were, like the Prime Minister, guided only by the rules of business and £ s. d. These are the men who have degraded the masses of English men and women, “ whose souls have been attuned to the slums in which they dwell.” But some day we may expect these men and women to cry out from their slums and hovels to the British Inchcapes and others who have brought about their degradation, “ Come down and share our hunger and the degradation in which you have forced us to live; it is our turn to enjoy the luxuries and comforts of the palaces which have been your homes.” It is not the foreigner but the British financier who is responsible for the condition of the working masses of England. He is the man for whom they have to fight, who has been responsible for the extraction of almost the last drop of blood from ill-fed children and illnourished mothers. All these illbegotten gains have been carefully gathered together, refrigerated, tinned, bottled, and exported to all countries of the world, labelled “ British capital.” In some countries, according to the system of government, its value has been extinguished or considerably diminished. In Australia, however, hundreds of millions of pounds sterling have been employed in shipping combines, pastoral properties, or in other great industries, and . has been carefully guarded by what some may term good government. It has been guarded by docile people who profess to be loyal, and every year it returns to the British investors a rich, and lovely ripe crop of fruit, which is sent back to England in the shape of interest or dividends. This> as Joseph- Cowan points out, is our contribution by reason of out loyalty and industry, to the wealth of Great Britain, and out of which the territories from which the wealth is drawn are defended. Remember his words, “ Our colonies contribute to our - wealth, and1 immeasurably overpay the cost and peril of their defence.” Whether the people of Australia participate or not, armies: and navies will move in the defence of the interests of Imperial capitalists in these oversea territories. You may always depend upon them to defend their share in the wealth of these- territories. It is’ our business to defend our share in the wealth of Australia, not only against an alien enemy, or the Red Objective, or the awful doctrines of Communists, ot hired agents of Soviet Russia, but also against the hiredagents and greased instruments of that money power which seeks to enmesh our country in a net of bloody intrigue extending throughout the world in order that it may enlarge the area of human misery and incidentally enable a few more millionaires to-be created. That is their game. They say to us, “ Poor devils of Australians. You have neither the strength nor capacity to defend your’ share in your country. You should march abroad, follow the Imperial trumpet wherever it is blown, climb crags and storm forts on mountain peaks, fight throughout the world wherever you are required to do so. Your contribution in men and money must depend wholly and solely upon British foreign policy.” .
What is British foreign policy? Does the -Prime Minister explain it ? Does any one tell us what it really is? No. Then let us seek its meaning for ourselves. An honorable member of this Chamber who recently lectured in a Melbourne suburb said -
Foreign policy is more important tbar domestic policy.
An honorable member of this House, in an article published in a daily paper, said -
Foreign policy affects domestic policy. Out of foreign policy may come war and all that follows in war’s train.
In a Melbourne newspaper, we- find this -
Foreign policy reacts upon domestic polley through economic channels.
In the article written by the honorable member’ to whom ‘I have just referred we learn that -
Great Britain took the Dominions- into partnership upon Foreign policy and then ignored them. In principle, she conceded everything; in practice, nothing.
Finally a leading journal has said -
To give Ministers a free hand in these matters - of foreign policy and naval policy - is to strike a blow at the whole system ofl responsible government.
In the face of what I have just quoted bo statement that I may make upon this matter could be regarded as an exaggera*tion. Foreign policy must mean something. My idea of what it means may not prove acceptable to honorable members, and. therefore I have looked for a>n authority, finding it in the utterances of Lord Lansdowne, who was Minister for. Foreign. Affairs in the Balfour- Government. Replying to the- toast of foreign’ affairs at the Guild Hall in 1904,. Lond Lansdowne said -
If I were to tell you how much of the work of the Foreign Office is connected with commercial operations you would be surprised-. If it were not for the commercial side I should be a comparatively idle man. Hut the main business of the Foreign Office is to assist in the expansion of British investments in foreign lands, and watch over, foster, and protect -them-.
Under this policy an individual who represents moneyed interests may walk into a country, settle down in it, make investments, gather economic, social, and political power, but never become a citizen of that country. Yet the moment his rights are impinged upon, the moment he considers that the Government of thecountry in which he is living are acting in any wa’y inimical to his interests, ha may call upon a foreign power to come to his assistance, and, in many cases, may be the- means of setting foreign armies in motion in the interests of himself and of the corporations he represents. In reality, that is one of the great causes of modern war, as has recently been demonstrated in the case of Basil Zararoff, whom a Melbourne journal describes as follows -
He is one of the Empire’s” most mysterious, financiers. He has immense possessions l» Asia Minor. His comings and goings at th» British Foreign Office are frequent and secret.
He lias free entrance into No. 10 Downingstreet. He is a friend of kings. He is a “ power behind the throne.”
Who guides the destinies of the Empire, and involves it in war? Not the man of the people; not the man who loves his country for his country’s sake; it is the man who utilizes his country’ for the acquisition of wealth for himself and his associates. It was this type of man that caused Field Marshal air “William Robertson, in November last, to say -
We are asked to keep the Straits in order that British ships may go .through and make war on other countries in defence of the interests of speculators and commercial gamesters.
In this connexion, let me quote a Melbourne newspaper. I shall not mention its name. /Some day the Labour party will probably publish this statement alongside others which the same journal has made, so that the complete transformation which has come over the Melbourne press within a few weeks may be evident to all. On 16th May last, this paper said -
The story of the action of the British Government -in inciting Greece to make war on Turkey, even to claim an empire in the historic Turkish lands of Asia Minor, and of the attempt to embark the Empire on an insane Turkish war for the sake of a predatory Greece is now familiar.
The people of Greece were simply puppets on strings made use of to forward the interests of Basil Zararoff- this man who has the entrance to the Foreign Office, and dines with kings - and those of his international associates. We in Australia wore called upon to waste our substance, and send forth our men in the interests of Basil Zararoff and his gang; and the gentlemen who are sitting on the Government benches were prepared to support that particular policy.
The Prime Minister has specifically stated that he is prepared to accept the responsibility of British foreign policy on condition that he is consulted. Our answer is that we have no need to be consulted. We shall give no support to such a policy. We repudiate it lock, stock, and barrel. And if Australia supports such an iniquitous and outrageous proposal, it will justly become the victim of that odious policy it seeks to impose on other countries. I repeat what a Melbourne newspaper has said -
To give Ministers a free hand in these matters….. is to strike a blow at the whole system of responsible government.
We indorse that view, and are prepared to support it. We say that in this chamber, in the light of day, and upon Australian soil, we should develop the foreign policy of this country. Here, also, we should make known in clear and definite language the policy that we are not prepared to sustain in any shape or form. The amendment that I have the honour to move is as follows: -
That the following words be added to the proposed Address: - “ We also desire to inform Your Excellency that, as foreign policy reacts upon domestic policy, and may be fraught with grave consequences to the self-governing institutions of our country and the welfare of our people, this House therefore declares : - (1) That this House should develop the foreign policy Australia is prepared to support, and should clearly express the foreign policy it is not prepared to sustain; (2) that only on such conditions should any delegate or delegates be permitted to go abroad to represent Australia; and (3) that on no account should the despatch of such delegation be accepted as an excuse for the suspension of the functions of selfgovernment in this country.”
We should concede to others the rights which we claim for ourselves. One of our privileges as a self-governing community is to admit into, or exclude from, Australia whomsover or whatsoever we think fit. If those who come into this country are fit to be made citizens, they should have full property rights, and be given every benefit and protection that our laws and customs allow. At the same time they must be made to shoulder the responsibility attaching to ‘ citizenship, and part of that responsibility is to accept the treatment meted out to them by what may be regarded by some as an iniquitous Government. But we should not seek to destroy any country’s power of self-government or self-determination, while claiming that privilege for ourselves. We should prize self-determination, not merely for ourselves, but as the heritage of all men in all lands. If that attitude will not secure peace for us, it will, at any rate, furnish the slightest possible provocation for its violation. We have no right to impose our own customs, codes, or civilization upon any other nation. I quite admit that I am not one of those who are pacifists in the full sense of the word. I do not say that international war will under present conditions always be avoidable; nor do I contend that class bitterness can be swept away. I recognise that international and class struggles have a common origin, one being due to the enslavement of the class, and the other to the enslavement of the race. A country may be a republic, tired of the rule of kings, and it may be surrounded by nations determined to impose a monarchy upon it. Even a communist community may be hemmed in by warlike nations, which are determined to destroy it in order that its evil example shall not spread to their own half-starved populations; but if nations maintain enormous armies and navies that exact huge payments from the people, and impoverish them, they will be encouraging an evil that will prove a greater menace to themselves than the calamity they are anxious to avoid. I do not suggest that a country should not defend itself by proper means. It should take all steps necessary for the development of a well-based defence system. In this opinion, I take it that I shall receive some support from honorable members opposite. In a recent statement, the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) said -
The strength of a nation cannot be estimated by the strength of its armies and navies. Strength must come from the growth of trade and from commercial prosperity, and not from the expansion of military and naval forces.
On another occasion the Prime Minister remarked that many nations had asked for reciprocal trade relations with Australia; but that, in the interests of Britain, the Government had refused, and by so doing had restricted Australian trade with other nations. The interests of Australia were apparently sacrificed in the interests of British Imperialism. The Labour party believes that any Government that puts the interests of another nation before those of its own country is worthy pf condemnation. We say that the interests of Australia should be paramount. A Melbourne newspaper states -
Effective defence depends upon industrializing the country, building iron and steel works, dockyards, machine shops and fao- tories that can be turned, as occasion requires, to the uses of war.
Another journal assures us that -
England is full of largs engineering shop* which can be quickly converted into munition producers. . . . Australia is without such resources….. If wor came, our men would be murdered by insufficient economic backing.
The Labour party says that we should develop trade and commerce, and we recognise that the development of our land is an essential to defence. We should seek to conserve the resources of Australia. In erecting the national structure, we should commence, not on the roof, but on the foundations. We should take one step before beginning the next. If it be suggested that the methods we propose are not effective, and that the preservation of our industries and the development of our lands are not the foundations of economic defence, we say that those are the solutions which the Government, the Prime Minister, and the Dress have affirmed to be not only effective but fundamental. We also affirm that the salvation of this country must come, not from outside, but from within, from its people and its resources. We tell the people of this country that there is no greater delusion, either for men or nationalities, than to believe that somebody’s “ rich Fiji uncle “ is waiting outside for them, and that he will do for them what they can only do properly for themselves. We also affirm that our methods, even if they are not so effective as they might be, and even if they cannot meet every emergency, are, nevertheless, infinitely better than those of the Nationalist party. The Age of 2nd June, 1923, stated that-
The “ war to end war “ has proved such a mockery that statesmen are trying to forget it. It was once their set phrase, and the agonic* of war were cheerfully borne because they were believed to be the birth of a new social and industrial era. That promised golden era has. proved a mirage.
The newspaper went on to say -
Before 1914 people were cocksure that the best way to preserve peace was to prepare for war. Cheered by that hope brave men waged the war that was to end all wars.
The result is stated in these words -
Europe’s economic and financial structure is topsy-turvy. Her unity is broken. She U divided into a series of small rival States. The number of men under arms is greater than in 1914. The minds of men are forcibly diverted to the processes of destruction. Two-thirds of ber universities have either ceased to function or have curtailed their activities. Europe is given over to discord, disorder, disunion, and continental-wide misery.
The Age then describes the conditions of the different countries of Europe. Great Britain, it said - . . is in a perilous state. She exports chiefly to Europe, and the purchasing power of Europe is rapidly diminishing. British ships are lying idle; her industries are stagnant; and 2,000,000 of unemployed walk her streets. On the same subject the English Review said -
In short, Europe is on her deathbed. European civilization, as we know it, is passing away.
I do not intend to argue whether those statements are true or false, but it is unquestionably true that in Europe millions of people are living on the borders of starvation and destitution, industry is languishing, markets are disappearing, and usury, like a great vampire, is sucking, the vitals of the people. In every country of Europe the “ sword of militarism is nourished in defence of a system that condemns the world to a dark age of ignorance, brutality, and misery. In what way has preparedness for war in Europe insured the peace of Europe? Against which of these starving, miserable nationalities’ of Europe are we expected to make war to-morrow ? “Which of them threatens our existence today? Not one of them. Whence, then, comes the enemy? We know very well that he is not in Europe. We know what coun’try is cited to the people of Australia to induce them to waste their substance, and to spend millions of pounds upon providing for a maximum of violence, instead of restoring their industries and ridding themselves of a load of debt. It is sought to intimidate the people by making them fear that they may be assailed by the power of the Japanese. The enemy, then, is not in Europe, but in Japan. When Great Britain and we ourselves were preparing for war, the attention of our people was concentrated upon the “ Japanese terror.” Then came the war, and from that moment Japan was no longer a potential enemy, but a friend, which protected the territories of Australia. People were penalized and sent to gaol for saying she was liable to be an enemy of Australia. ‘She entered into a contract and she kept it. We were weakened to the extent of 300,000 to 400,000 Australians who had been sent 13,000 miles over the seas, but apparently Japan was an honorable nation. She did not assail us in the hour of our weakness, and we are now asked to believe that she will assail us in the hour of our strength. During the war Japan kept her word. No sooner was the war over than in the daily press and the illustrated journals of Australia, an effort was made to intimidate and frighten the people into believing that Japan was about to assail us. If, during the period of the war, men were sent to gaol and fined for saying things which were said to be insulting to an ally, and if we are anxious to preserve the peace with Japan at the present time, how much more ought the men who control the journals and newspapers of to-day to be sent to gaol or fined for seeking to violate the peace of nationalities by insulting a friendly nation? What creates friction between individuals more than for them to be daily the subject of jibes and jeers? What can arouse the ill-feeling of nations more than to find in the press of a neighbouring State insulting comments upon their citizens and the dignity of their Government? What can be more insulting and provocative of discord and international war than for illustrated journals to print cartoons- reflecting upon the character of the citizens of another State? In the hour of our weakness, when over 300,000 men were away from Australia, it was considered so essential to preserve our good relations with Japan that we sent men to gaol for reflecting- in any way upon the honour of that nation. How much more imperative is such action at the present hour ? But does this Government do anything ? Not at all. Does it take any steps to maintain the friendly relations which are threatened with disruption by the insidious propaganda of the press, invoking the very evil from which it pretends to save the country.
A third point to which I wish to draw attention is that before the war we carried on an immense trade with Germany. The newspapers of this country pointed out that our trade with Germany was tantamount to building up the power of a potential enemy. What are we doing to-day in relation to Japan?
We are building up the power of the nation which, our people are being told, threatens our safety. We are exporting to her our primary products ; we are spending public money to : send trade agents to Japan ; and we arebuying commodities from her. Thus we are every day strengthening her sinews. Either we slander Japan, or the Government that permits such practices is traitorous to the country whose destinies it controls.
– Yes, trading witha potential enemy. Recently a daily newspaper pointed out that along the shores of the Torres Straits there were a number of Japanese who, according to that journal, were believed to be spies of the Japanese Government. It said that under the cloak of the occupation they were apparently engaged in, they were conveying information to the Japanese Government. Was that statement true, or was it a slander ?By whom were they employed? By an Australian patriot named Clarke. In what ships were they employed ? In Australian ships. And, by reason of their occupation, they became conversant with every shoal and inletin Torres Strait and the waters along the Barrier Reef. Yet it is said that these men were spies, and agents of the Japanese Government - that an Australian citizen employed on Australian ships men who were regarded as spies and agents of the Japanese Government’. If those men were not engaged by the Japanese Government, they have been slandered by the Australianpress; if they were so employed, the Commonwealth Government, and all those who support them, were aiding and abetting enemy propaganda.
I have no fear of a Japanese invasion when I consider the power and capacity of the Government and the people of Australia. The Boers, with 25,000 men, flouted the British Empire for two years, necessitating the expenditure of £200,000,000 by Great Britain, and the upkeep of 250,000 men. History is full of instances of small and compact armies successfully clashing with nations under emperors and kings. The armies of England swept over the armies ofFrance under Louis and Napoleon; the Japanese swept over the armies of the Czar in Man churia, and yet were defeated andcompelled to retire before the Soviet forces in Siberia. To-day the Japanese do not own one single inch of Siberian territory, owing to the operations of the Soviet Government. Whatever the Japanese conquered fromthe Czar in Manchuria they hold; whatever they conquered from the Soviet Government in 1918-19 they have lost.It has been said, of course, that theyretired voluntarily; but if they did not concede territory to the Czar, it is marvellous if they haveconceded any to theSoviet Government. The Melbourne Herald a few nights ago urged its readers to study the articles concerning the Japanese written by a special correspondent and published in the Age and Argus. I have done so. I read thestatement in those articles that the Japanese must make war speedily while the patrioticnational spirit still survives in Japan, because it is feared that the Japanese masses are being impregnated with Soviet principles from the Asiatic mainland. Apparently, the salvation of Australia depends upon the Japanese masses becoming infected with Soviet principles, for we may infer that Japan’s only chance of making am attack upon Australia depends uponthe survival of the old patriotic war spirit. That is the doctrine we are taught. The Boers, who were people inspired by love of country and freedom, rightly or wrongly defied the power of Great Britain for two years with 25,000 men. Australia contains 1,400,000 men of military age, and is capable of putting at least 700,000 into the field. Our military strength is at least thirty or forty times that of the Boer commandoes. Who. then, says that this vast country of Australia is not capable of defending its shores ? Who are the men who howl in the streets that Australia has no strength and is incapable of defending itself? Are we weaker than the revolutionary forces of Siberia, which after being broken into fragments were able tocompel the J apanese armies to retire before them ? No; we believe that if any attack were made upon this country we could defend it.
– If we train our men.
– The interjection is very appropriate. The honorable member has fought in France. Last Thursday a daily paper in this city, comment- ing upon the power of Australia to defend itself against a Japanese invasion, stated that the experience gained by the men in France was absolutely valueless. Does the honorable member believe that? He refuses to answer. That newspaper stated that we had to learn everything afresh in regard to Warfare, and for that reason our past experience was useless, and Australians were at present incapable of defending these shores.
Our duty is to continue the work of laying the economic foundations of defence, which the Prime Minister has admitted to be more essential than armies and navies. Our duty is to build up the walls of industry and national power, and if in that work we are interfered with by intruders upon our peace, and it is- necessary for us to lay aside the trowel’ of- industry and use poison gas and dynamite, we shall do- it with the will to conquer and belief in our power to defend ourselves’ and maintain our industries. We shall not employ the tactics of defeatists, shouting in the interests of Imperial capitalism, through the medium of the press and from the platform, “ “We have no strength to defend ourselves.”
I commenced my speech by exposing the- real objective of the Prime Minister’s visit to England, which is to bind this country to a policy of Imperialism, not so much for the sake of Empire trade interests as for the continuance of the policy of Imperialistic exploitation throughout the world. In olden times pillagers and pirates won recruits by promising their followers a share in the loot, and they generally kept their word. The promoters of modern wars do . not even d’o that. In the great war they won recruits, and the applause of the multitude by talking ‘of the future, and picturing the beauties of Heaven; they promised Paradise and a new world after the war, but when the war was won they plunged the troops into all the torments’ of the social hell. Europe is an excellent illustration of that. It is to-day a continent of gloom, and in that gloom everything is indistinct except violence, mass hunger, pestilence, and destitution. Those are the rewards which the disciples of Mars and Mammon flung to the duped millions who followed their banners. When one looks back over history, and sees it ever repeating itself, and men seeming never to learn a lesson, one is inclined to think that man must ever be dominated by animal instincts, and that we shall always continue the odious customs, the criminal prejudices, and the barbarous instincts- of our forefathers. [Extension of time grunted.] But in spite of this outlook, there is still left to some of us the rags and remnants of the old faith. We know that, after dark days of savagery reason quickly resumes its sway; the sun isbeginning to rise on. a new era-,, and dupes, as well as others-, are beginning to see the light-.. Voices are heard in the cities of the world’ calling to the humane and not the beast in man ; calling upon men to resume the work, not of slaughter, but of civilization, even upon the ruins which the genius of capitalism presents to the world to-day as its culminating product. In this work of reconstruction, and in the reconstruction of the industrial processes by which men live, out of which nations gather their power, and from which in times of need they draw their means for defence - in all work of that nature this party will give to the best of its ability. To the work of extending trade and commerce, based not upon the power of the sword, but upon good will; to the work of the social and intellectual uplift of our people; to the development of the arts and sciences, and the processes that constitute civilization as distinct from savagedom and savage ways, we will give of our best also. We will do it upon the assumption that these are the real foundations of national power and of national strength ; that these are the foundations which must first be well and truly laid. Secondly, we will do it upon the assumption that this Australia of o-urs is a nation not only in name but in fact;, that it is not a race of weaklings dependent for its existence upon- the support, the will, and the benevolence of another, but that it is- a- race of self-reliant mep having, the will, the determination, and that confidence in its strength which will enable it to defend and maintain its existence in every emergency. It is only upon the foundations of such a faith, will, and purpose that truly national policies can be evolved; and it is in such will, faith, and purpose that the great nations of the world have had their origin - whatever may have been their aftermath. Whatever divergence of opinion there may be, we want to make Australia a great nation - not in slaughter, not in destruction, not in bringing death; a nation great in its ideals, its abilities, and its purposes, great in its love of justice between man’ and man, and in its influence for peace between the nations. To that end, we have one object in view, that is, to hold aloft the lamp that guides the footsteps of the Australian people to higher ground, and does not push them down the drive into the human slaughter-pen. To that end also we must have a national policy. We must proclaim that we will have no foreign policy developed for Australian people in the secret chambers of a country overseas, but one develope’d here in Australia, in this Parliament, in the light of day - a policy developed for a people who are determined to exercise all those prerogatives and rights which belong properly to a nation, and to accept at the same time all the responsibilities attaching thereto, confident that they can justly exercise those prerogatives and do, without fear of any, the work that is required of a nation.
Sitting suspended from 6.80 to 8 p.m.
S.3].- -We have just listened to a very interesting and characteristic speech by the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey). While I totally disagree with almost everything he has said, I appreciate his power to sway an audience, and his mastery of words and matter. On one occasion, .not long since, I described him as “ a chartered libertine of words.” That, I think, is exactly what he is. I do not propose to deal with all he had to say, or to try to follow him through all the mazes he pursued in making what was, from his stand-point, undoubtedly an excellent, speech; but I certainly render him my meed of praise for the way he expressed himself, and the case that, although faced with great and grave difficulties, he made. His enthusiasm,. I believe, is genuine, but I feel that at times it carries him away, and leads him to present to his audience statements which, in more serious moments, when he had really thought out his subject, he would hesitate to make, since they must influence and inflame the minds of people who have not had the opportunities which he has had to study the great questions with which we are faced, and to form matured and considered opinions upon them.
This is the second censure motion we have had presented to us in the very few days during which we have been sitting. .Such motions, under normal conditions, are very serious, and Governments when faced with them have, in accordance with the established practice of the British Parliament, treated them as being so grave as to warrant the adjournment of Parliament, in order that their Leaders might consider their reply. If, however, our honorable friends of the Opposition are going to submit one censure motion after another so that nothing can be done with the business of the country, we shall have to treat them in ‘another way. While I should like, and it is ever my desire, to show respect to the Opposition there is a limit to the patience and forbearance that one can show, and I am afraid, consequently, that in order that the business of the country may proceed, I must deal with the amendment of the honorable member for Bourke in the same way that I dealt with that submitted by his Leader. I must reply to it at once, and allow the business of the Parliament to proceed without interruption.
I listened to the honorable member for Bourke, and say without hesitation that I thoroughly enjoyed his speech. Whatever may be his faults, he always gives considerable pleasure to his hearers. He makes speeches that abound in rhetoric, and quips, and similes, and instances that please the mind of the most fastidious, but which, when analyzed and considered by the application- of cold, hard logic are disappointing.
There were three points which the honorable member desired to make. He spoke of Australia’s foreign policy, Australia’s defence, and trade within the Empire, and he touched lighly upon each subject, left it, and came back to it. Regarding it as my duty to treat his attack seriously, I sat here and endeavoured to follow him so’ as to determine to what points I should reply. But I found myself wandering with him from the question of foreign policy to that of Empire trade, and back to Australian defence, and running in a circle round all three questions. In the remarks I have to make, I propose -to take in their proper sequence each of the subjects with which the honorable member sought to deal. I can assure the House, however, that I shall not on this occasion lay myself open to the charge that was flung at me recently from the ranks of the Opposition, that I had taken a great deal of time in replying to their Leader when he. launched, his motion of no-confidence last week. When the charge was made, I appreciated the fact that my innate sense of courtesy had carried me too far; I had treated the Leader of the Opposition far too seriously, and had dealt at too great length with the points he had raised. I do not propose to repeat that mistake in this case; but there are some observations that I must offer in reply to the speech which the honorable member for Bourke has just delivered.
Before dealing with the three matters which formed the subject of his speech, I propose to say a word or two in answer to his opening remarks, in which, of course, he got bacl;: to this composite Government and to the two parties which have made it possible. He gave us tonight a re-hash of a speech that he made in the opening session of this Parliament; but, despite his brilliancy, I do not think that he did as well as on that occasion. We had no reference to such interesting and exciting episodes as taking gentlemen into my bathroom and cutting their political throats, which he spoke of last session ; and in some respects his speech to-night seemed to lack a little of the dash of his previous effort. None the less, the honorable member made a very good struggle in rather hopeless circumstances. He knew that the hour had gone when it was sound policy to try to drive a wedge between the two great parties that form this composite Government. It is true that at the last general election we on this side of the House had some slight differences ‘of opinion ; and I am afraid that on certain occasions some members of our two parties were guilty of utterances that were, perhaps, a little extreme. But in the interval we have come together. We have formed a Government, and have discovered that we both possess sterling merits and extraordinary capacity, so that we .are now cemented in the closest alliance, and it is utterly useless for honorable members opposite to try to separate us. Such an attempt is hopeless. The Opposition have to realize that ours is a strong and united Government, and that we are going to press forward, despite their efforts, to do a great and useful work for Australia. I realized throughout the honorable member’s speech that he recognised that he was a little late in this attempt, and had set himself a hopeless task. It was clear that he felt that he was fighting a hopeless cause, and he very soon gave it up in disgust. Having fired a few > shots, which I will have to deal with, he rambled over the fields of foreign polities, defence, and trade relations. The shots which the honorable member fired in passing, but which he did not really think would do any damage, were references to the fact that, if I go to England as’ Australia’s representative at the Imperial Conference, this Parliament will be closed during my absence. The honorable member tried to suggest that that reflected upon my colleagues in the Government. He endeavoured to picture me as a dominating autocrat, or something of the kind, who thought that the people behind him had no ability, and could not be trusted in his absence. He knew just as well as honorable members opposite generally know that that ir perfectly absurd. There never was alive a milder mannered man than I am, and the idea of my being an autocrat is- impossible to conceive. What we propose is not the closing of Parliament, uut the getting through with our work, and doing it properly, within a period of ten weeks. I am merely a consenting party to the will of the honorable gentlemen who sit on the front bench with me. They are the persons who have decided what is to be done. The Government have determined that it is advisable that this House should not be sitting when Australia’s delegates have gone to the Old Country. I have not attempted to dominate anybody in any way, and I am not in any way the person responsible for what is proposed. I merely assented to the adoption of a course which is obviously the wisest and best that could be pursued in the interests of Australia. The only reason why this Parliament will go into recess after ten weeks is because the programme which the Government have submitted to it includes everything that can usefully’ be done at this stage for the betterment and development of Australia, and because Australia’s representative at the Imperial Conference must appear as fully accredited by the Commonwealth. There must not be the slightest danger that the authority given by the people shall be undermined in.any way during his absence. I realize what Parliaments are, and that honorable members opposite are determined to do the work that lies to their hands as an -Opposition in a way that may bring the greatest credit to themselves. I can well imagine that if Parliament continued in session while we were away, my rhetorical friend, the honorable member for Bourke, would be making the most amazing speeches, which would be cabled to London, as indicating that the representatives of the Commonwealth at the Conference had not the confidence or support of ‘ the people of Australia. Of course, in making such speeches, the honorable member would be, as he nearly always is, quite wrong in his facts, but it is difficult to make people 12,000 miles away understand that. It is because of this fact that the Government are - I say it with all deference to my honorable friends opposite - quite determined that this Parliament shall do the work put before it in ten weeks, and shall close before Australia’s representatives go to the Conference. The honorable member for B6urke, in making his speech, assumed an air of rectitude and respectability which, no doubt, impressed us all, though we may have some little doubt as to whether he is quite as upright and respectable as he pretends to be. He professed to regard with the utmost horror the idea of Parliament being closed because the Prime Minister had left the Commonwealth. He implied that that might be the sort of thing which Nationalist Governments would propose, but that, .in the hour when the great Labour party rules, nothing of that kind would be contemplated or suggested. The honorable gentleman’s memory is unfortunately short. What he condemns is the very thing which the Labour Government did when they were in power.’ They did exactly what I am proposing to do now. Although I somewhat regret having to follow an example set by members of the party opposite, I am pro- posing, in this connexion, to .do exactly what they have done in the past. The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) shakes his head, but he is quite old enough to remember what occurred in 1911, when Mr. Fisher was Prime Minister, and closed Parliament before he went to the Old Country.
– The Labour Government did their work first.
– And we are going to do likewise before members of this Government leave for the Old Country. I venture to suggest that _ what we shall do in the next few weeks, with the able and willing assistance of honorable members opposite, will be much better than anything that Mr. Fisher and his Government did in their day. I would ask honorable members opposite to marvel at my moderation. Their friends, when they were in power, and had in prospect only one Conference, whereas I have two - the Imperial Conference and the Economic Conference - closed this House for no less than nine months. Then they met Parliament and presented a Governor-General’s Speech,which almost suggested that the Government were entitled to praise, as for an extraordinarily admirable action, in closing Parliament while Ministers attended the Imperial Conference. In the circumstances, I suggest that the criticism of my very moderate suggestion to close Parliament for a few months is a little out of place, and unfair. Honorable members opposite have done themselves what I now propose, and if they got into power to-morrow they know that they would do it again. ‘ But they hope to cause dissension, in the ranks of those supporting the Government by pretending that what we are proposing to do is something which the Opposition would not do, although they know perfectly well that they would do it. The real reason for their attitude is that they are determined that we shall not do the work which we propose to do, whilst we are equally determined that we shall do it. If a sporting community would like a suggestion from me as to which side to put their money on, I would say, “ Put it on the Government. You will be very much safer if you- do so, because we are going to win.” This second motion of censure is a means to obstruct and delay the business of the Government. I have told the House, and I have told my intelligent friends opposite, that there will he every opportunity to consider the questions they are now raising. If many honorable members opposite talk on this motion of censure, they will certainly use up admirable ammunition they might well use later when the Government present the subjects for their full and adequate discussion. Let us be quite frank with each other. I tell my honorable friends that they are not going to cause any delay whatever, for the Government intend to proceed exactly as they have proposed.
– No threats!
– That . is not a threat. I have told honorable members that I propose to put the agenda of the Conference before them, and to give them every opportunity to discuss it before I leave for England, so that I may know the views of the House with regard to the questions that- are to be raised. The honorable member for Bourke seems apprehensive that I may commit Australia with regard to Defence and Tariff policy, and that the House - as, apparently, I am a dictator - is going to follow the path I point out. The honorable member knows just as well as I do that I have no possible power to do anything of the sort. At the Conference Australian defence and Imperial defence will be discussed, but I cannot pledge Australia without the consent of this House to any expenditure on defence, and this the honorable member knows perfectly well. I shall have to come back here and get the support of a majority before a penny can be spent on any defence policy that may be discussed at the Imperial Conference. Similarly with regard to trade relations, the Conference may be able to see some way by which reciprocity can be established within the Empire, and a policy may be denned, but it will depend on this House whether any of the proposals are given effect to. Nobody knows better than honorable members opposite that these subjects are introduced now only after they have racked their brains in an endeavour to find something on which to attack the Government and delay the business of the House. But we must be a blameless Government if, with all their ingenuity, determination, and ability, this attack represents their utmost endeavour.
I do not propose to delay the House at any very great length, but I should like to take the three points with which the honorable member for Bourke dealt, and say one or two words about each. These three points have reference to foreign policy, Empire defence, and Empire trade relations; and I shall take them in that sequence, and deal with one before I go to the other. Thu9 my speech will be in marked contrast with that of my honorable friend. The honorable member had a great deal to say about foreign policy being conceived in dark chambers at the other end of the world. I do not think that he even convinced himself as to that, but if he did he ought to be rallying to my standard and lending me every support in his power. All I have said is that if the Empire is to be an Empire, and if we in Australia are to play a part in it, and share in its defence, we must have a voice in framing its foreign policy. The honorable member, instead of attacking me, ought to have praised me for agreeing with him, and doing exactly what he desires - namely, endeavouring to insure that we shall have a voice in any policy by which we are bound, and by which we may conceivably be involved in war. This is all that is meant .by the proposal in regard to foreign relations that is to be discussed at the Imperial Conference, and, therefore, I cannot, understand the honorable member’s attitude towards it. Indeed, there are many points with regard to the honorable member’s attitude on foreign policy that I cannot understand ; but, as this is a quiet debate, I do not desire to say anything unpleasant, or to pursue the subject too far. It realiy seems to me that foreign policy ought to be a matter of utter indifference to the honorable member. He lives in an atmosphere of belief in that beautiful thing called the “ brotherhood of man “ - a belief that all men will act as brothers, no matter what questions divide the nations. What, therefore, does foreign policy matter to him ? It does not concern him ; he is not even’ interested in it. Unfortunately, I have not the same enthusiasm, nor the same belief in our brother man that he seems to possess. I take it that foreign relations - the relations between the Empire and the other countries of the world - are a matter of most acute interest to all peoples, and certainly to the people we are mo3t concerned with - those who dwell in Australia. I may be able, perhaps, to satisfy the honorable member’s mind on the question of foreign policy by telling him that if Australia is to be a part of the Empire, and responsible for some share in its defence, Australia must have every reasonable opportunity to criticise and to help in formulating the foreign policy of the Empire as a whole.
As to defence, I entirely disagree with what the honorable member has said. On this subject it is a little difficult to frame my remarks without saying rather brutal things to him; and as we are in a good temper to-night, it would be a pity to disturb the present pleasant conditions. In the matter of Empire defence, and particularly Australian defence, I can only think that the honorable member’s enthusiasm has carried him away a little. He made a most impassioned speech about the horrors of war, and drew a hideous picture of its effect upon the world. I say, with the utmost respect to the honorable member, that probably I dislike war even, more than he does. I have seen it at close quarters, stripped of all its tinsel and glory, and I tell honorable members that there is no more abominable thing in the world than modern warfare. Therefore I am in absolute accord with the honorable .member on the point that it is our duty to banish war from the world, as far as we can, and to keep its menace from our shores by all the means that lie in our power. But I disagree with the honorable member as to methods. Because he hates war, he says, in effect, that we must do nothing; that we must leave ourselves unprotected and at. the mercy of any aggressor. He said also that Australia can defend herself. Here, again, I totally disagree with him. I believe him to be perfectly sincere in all that he says, but I am afraid bis judgment has been warped by the views of his political associates, who have used this cry of Australian defence for political purposes for so long that they are deceiving themselves about the security of Australia. No doubt it is comforting to talk about the glorious deeds of the
Australian soldiers during the war, and brand as traitors all who say that Australia cannot protect herself by the strength of her own right arm. That probably goes down with many audiences. But, actually, those who give utterance to such statements are deceiving themselves and those who are listening to them. We have lived hitherto under the protection of the British Navy. If we say otherwise we deceive ourselves. Under this protection we have built up all our free institutions, until to-day we are the model Democracy of the world. All I have said is that the time has come when we should recognise that Britain has borne the burden long enough and that we ought to he prepared to accept our share of it. The honorable gentleman, in a wonderful outpouring of words and with bis voice vibrant with emotion, dared honorable members on this side of the House to say that Great Britain cannot defend herself. Britain can protect herself aud her Crown colonies, and probably also her self-governing dominions; but if she were called upon to do it alone, an intolerable burden would be placed upon the shoulders of her people. We should be courageous enough to tell our own people that it is no longer fair for Britain to shoulder this burden.; that we should accept our fair share of the cost of Empire defence, which is the safest, cheapest, and the surest way to protect ourselves and every other part of the Empire. At this stage of his remarks the honorable member, unfortunately, indulged in political tactics, for when the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) was unwise enough to interject, he charged that honorable member with having declared that the starving poor of Britain were bearing the burden of taxation for Empire defence. Of course, the ‘honorable member for Swan said nothing of the sort, but the honorable member for Bourke sought to confound the interjector, not so much by the force of his logic as by the untrammelled flow of words the exact meaning of which it was difficult to understand. I regret that he made that little incursion into the realm of political tactics. The position, as I, at all events, do not hesitate to tell my fellow citizens, is that Australia, without an alliance with some nation - and I say that the proper alliance is one within the Empire - cannot protect herself from aggression without placing such a burden upon the shoulders of her people as would seriously interfere with the development of this country. The honorable member for Bourke made reference to the stubborn resistance of the Boers against the might of Britain in the South African Avar twenty-five years ago. He forgot all about the geographical position of the South African republics as compared with that of Australia, with its 12,000 miles of coastline and its vulnerable strategic points. He absolutely ignored the concentration of people in our capital cities such as Melbourne, Sydney, and Adelaide, and, apparently, he thinks that we could conduct a defensive war with the same success as the Boers, situated, as they were, in the heart of Africa. The two positions are totally different, as the honorable member would have realized, if he had only thought for a moment. What would happen if Sydney were held, with all its people as hostages, by an enemy that had effected a landing in Australia? If the honorable gentleman had given the matter a little more thought, and if he could - cast out of his mind those prejudices that have got into it, he would see that the position of Australia differs essentially from that of the Republics of South Africa. Without a properly co-ordinated defence scheme within the Empire, and particularly a Naval defence scheme, Australia must occupy a very precarious position indeed. I accept all that he has said about the prowess of our soldiers and the resources of our people. We are the purest bred race on the face of the globe. We are practically all of British stock, with its wonderful traditions and ideals, but, unfortunately, in the times in which we live, the courage and virility of a people will avail little against the application of science to modern warfare. We must have modern and efficient equipment ifAustralia is to provide for her own safety. To insure this would, for the next few years, mean such a burden on our finances as would absolutely stultify our future development. As for my mission, I am going to Great Britain to see if, in the interests of Australia and the interests of the Empire, we can devise some scheme that will make for our future safety without placing an intolerable burden upon our shoulders or on the shoulders of the people of the Mother Country. We all agree with the honorable member that wars should be prevented; but he suggests that some one should come here and tell us what our business is, and what our dangers are. I am not prepared to wait to be told by any one, as I prefer to judge our future safety for myself. The White Australia policy, to which the honorable gentleman also referred, is one which we hold sacred above everything else in Australia; but the honorable member appears to forget that this policy is a challenge to the whole world, as we arrogate to ourselves the right to say that only those of white descent shall live within our territory. On that policy we are prepared to stake our national existence; but it carries with it grave and great obligations, one of which is that we must be prepared to fight, if need be, for its recognition.
On the question of preferential trade, the honorable member for Bourke made an amazing speech, and I do not like to think of the feelings which must have been aroused by it in the minds of some honorable members on his side of the chamber. If we strip his utterances of the references to the horrors of the past, and to what has happened under old economic systems, there is nothing in them. No one deplores more than I do much that happened in the past; but, whatever facts history may have disclosed, they will not help to solve our present problems. Because “the honorable member thinks that the capitalistic system against which he railed has inflicted great sufferings on the masses, he can see nothing for the future except some nebulous form of government to which he is committed, but which he does not understand. His proposals may sound well, but when we get down to cold facts it is difficult to discover what they really mean. To him the solution of all our difficulties is, I suppose, the socialization of all means of production, distribution, and exchange, with a few side issues thrown in; and that there shall be no production for profit. The honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) must have shivered when he heard the doctrine of Free Trade enunciated. The honorable member’s remarks would have brought tears of gratitude to such men as
Cobden when he was pushing his Free Trade propaganda, and must also have stirred the enthusiasm of some honorable members on this side of the chamber. The honorable member, however, overlooked the fact that Australia is pledged to Protection, which is the established policy of the Commonwealth. If honorable members analyze the proposals I have submitted on many occasions, it will be found that we wish to adhere to a Protective policy, with reciprocal trade arrangements with those who are prepared to give us mutual benefits in exchange. It is surely more desirable to enter into trade relations with those within the Empire than with those outside of it. The honorable member, with considerable political instinct, immediately says, “ Here is the Prime Minister going up and down the country saying that he has not entered into trade treaties with other countries because of his Imperialistic tendencies.” He suggests I have been doing a wrong to Australia. I have done what he says, and I am prepared to do it again, because I am certain I shall be supported by the majority of the people of the Commonwealth. We wish, if it is possible, to bring about reciprocal trade relations between Great Britain and Australia, and that is the position we shall attempt to reach at the forthcoming Conference. The honorable member endeavoured to ridicule honorable members on this side by picturing me as bringing peace, happiness, and contentment to the whole world within a reasonable period, and to Australia in three years. I can assure him that I am likely to bring more to Australia within three years than he and his supporters are ever likely to do. He referred to the Empire reciprocal proposals of the late Joseph Chamberlain, and said that Empire preference in Great Britain is dead. The late Mr. Chamberlain fought and died for a great ideal, and for that, if for nothing else, he is entitled to our respect; but I would remind the honorable member that twenty years have passed since Chamberlain made his great effort to bring about Empire reciprocity. That gentleman, like many other reformers, was a little before his time, and the ideals which he then sought to achieve will in due season be realized, as the atmosphere surrounding the proposal today is somewhat different from what it then was. At present, the whole world is menaced by unemployment, in places even by starvation, and it is such problems as this which make the leaders of the nations think seriously. Britain is thinking very seriously to-day. She is faced with the position that has arisen as a result of the war.
– Is that an admission ? Is this really what the war did?
– We all know the attitude of the honorable member for Batman towards the war. He would thrill with triumph if he thought that he could get any justification for the attitude he took up during the war. But what he thinks or says will carry very little weight. The great majority of people in this community were not prepared, as he was, to accept peace at any price, and betray ‘the nation’s honour rather than go to war and play a man’s part.
– This sounds like 1915 instead of 1923.
– To-day the system of credits has broken down, and rates of exchange are disordered. It is impossible for the nations to trade - with one another as they did prior to the war. All this has had its effect upon Great Britain, and has done a great deal to create that position which the honorable member for Bourke deplores - the fact that there are starving millions in the Old Country. But our proposal to insure that the Empire’s trade shall flow along Empire channels should go a long way towards finding employment for those starving millions. By finding a market for Australia’s surplus production we hope, not only to confer great benefit on our own people, but also to render an equivalent to Great Britain by providing employment in her factories for those who to-‘day are out of work and living on Government doles. Our proposal will not benefit one side or the other, but will afford mutual benefit. The honorable member for Bourke did not understand his subject. He talked ‘ as if nothing could be accomplished without taxing the food of the people of Great Britain; and that he thought would not be the right thing to do. Does the honorable member know that there is already a duty on dried fruits imported into Free Trade Great Britain ? One of Australia’s greatest troubles is to find a market for its dried fruits, and it would not be anl great departure from the fiscal policy of the Motherland to give Australia in that one item of her Customs Tarin a greater preference than it now enjoys ‘against Greece and Turkey, and other’ countries which produce dried fruits. I am quite sure the honorable member is sincere in his Free Trade leanings, but in this connexion, again, he was dragging in our friend, “ the political issue.” It sounds very well on a public platform to declare, -“ We will bo .no party to taxing the people’s food.” As a matter of fact, Australia is not guiltless in this regard, because we tax many articles that go to the production .of the people’s food. The real object of the Economic Conference is to see if some scheme cannot be devised which will be mutually beneficial to every part of the Empire.
My friends opposite have promoted this discussion on Empire foreign policy, Empire defence, and Empire trade. They have brought it on at the wrong time. The Government will bring it forward in due course and at the proper time, and then the House will have to endure another speech from me. The fault lies with honorable members if I, against my will, have had to deal with the question at the present juncture at considerable length ; but I was compelled to reply to the honorable member for Bourke, as I did .to his Leader, and treat him with the utmost consideration. However, the . Government cannot allow motions of censure to be submitted one after another in an endeavour to delay the business of the House.
– We have not started yet.
– I am quite sure the * honorable member has stated the position correctly. This is strong evidence that honorable members are deliberately endeavouring to delay the business of the House. If they are sincere in their desire to censure the Government, they should meet in conference, endeavour - probably they would be unsuccessful - to ascertain where the Government have failed, draw up one serious, wellconsidered amendment, and so try to bring about the destruction of the Government. No doubt even such a motion would meet with the fate that will overtake the innumerable and small efforts they are making to-day.
– Yes, sir.
– I regret that opposition members should think that I am trying to teach them their business. It is not part of my duty to do so. I have simply been carried away by my desire to see the Opposition give the Government something worth answering, which, so far, they had not succeeded in doing. I regret that this amendment has been launched. It is perfectly unnecessary, because the Government have given the assurance that the House will have the fullest opportunity of considering these great questions of vital interest to Australia, and discussing them at whatever length may be necessary. I am quite sure the House will show very clearly its view of the action which has been taken to-day.
.- Immediately prior to the dinner adjournment, we had the privilege of hearing one of the best speeches that has been delivered in this chamber. I think I oan say that without the slightest hesitation, and I wish to associate the Opposition with the amendment proposed’ by the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey), notwithstanding the advice given by the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) as to how the business of the Opposition should be conducted. It may be a departure from former methods to submit a number of separate amendments to the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply, and I venture to say that it is an improvement on the old custom. We introduced this departure last year, and with very good results, because by doing so we are able to focus the attention of the Australian public on the misdeeds of the late Government. The appreciation of the people was indicated by the fact that the Labour candidates were returned with the largest vote. given to any party at the polls. The Prime Minister, as we must expect, disapproves of our tactics, but the matters we desire to ventilate are so important that we prefer to submit a series of amendments to the Address-in-Reply. The Prime Minister states that we are premature, and that the question of foreign policy will be brought before the House prior to the Imperial Conference. Our sole reason for tabling the present amendment is the Prime Minister’s failure to give a satisfactory answer to my request for information as to whether the nature of the business to be brought before the Imperial Conference would be outlined at an early date. We are, unfortunately, accustomed to important legislation being rushed through Parliament at the fag end of the session. The questions to be discussed at the Imperial Conference are of sufficient moment to occupy the attention of the Chamber for two or three weeks. Honorable members with previous parliamentary experience know that it is impossible to give the necessary consideration to Imperial Conference matters, in addition to the ordinary work of the session, in the short space of ten weeks. The Prime Minister has not uttered one word indicating the attitude of the Government on the subjects to be brought before the Imperial Conference. On the other hand, he has charged the honorable member for Bourke, as he has myself, with giving a rehash of previous speeches.’ The whole burden of the Prime Minister’s song on the public platform has been the questions of defence, foreign affairs, and the Economic Conference. He has been endeavouring, with the assistance of the press, to create an atmosphere favorable to the closing down of the deliberations of this House. We strongly object to that course of action, and he complains to-day that our tactics are intended to keep the Parliament in session. If the Prime Minister wishes to bludgeon legislation through the Chamber, he can exercise the powers he possesses in order to do so. I wish to make no threat, but as long as honorable members on this side are able to do so, they will raise their voices in protest against improperly curtailing the deliberations of this Chamber. The Prime Minister must bear the responsibility for any action he takes. It will not worry us so long as we do our duty to the people who sent us. here. He declares that we desire to keep the House in session during his absence so that we may make speeches that will bring about the downfall of the Government.
– I did not say that.
– That is the only inference to be drawn from the Prime Minister’s speeches. If he does not mean that, I accept his assurance, but the very fact of his intention to close the House during his absence gives colour to the suggestion that he is afraid of what might happen if the House were left in session.
In his references to the Imperial Conference he does not speak about the necessity for him to leave Australia, but he talks about “ going Home.” One wants to know whether the Prime Minister is an Australian or an Englishman. England-, and not Australia, is Home to him. We prefer men to be Australians, not in name only, but in their every action.
– Do you suggest that the Prime Minister is not an Australian?
– I suggest nothing ; I am guided simply by his own statements. A reference has been made to the closing of a previous Parliament to enable two members of a Labour Government to attend a Conference abroad ; but the circumstances were quite different from those in the present case. The Fisher Government sat for six months, and gave effect to a great deal of its policy, enacting legislation that stands to-day to the credit of Australia, and was the bulwark of this country during the late war. When that legislation had been passed, the House went into recess, and the Labour Ministers proceeded to the Old Country.
There have been two opening ceremonies in connexion with this Parliament, and up to the present no legislation stands to its credit. Honorable members opposite seem to be silent, with the exception of the mover and seconder of the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply and the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Manning), whom I congratulate on having the pluck to express his views. It is usual to occupy from two to three weeks oh the Address-in-Reply, yet an attempt has been made to lead the public to believe that the Labour party is now adopting a different attitude from that of honorable members opposite when they occupied the Opposition benches. If those honorable members were doing their duty they would, be placing their views before the Chamber. Instead of that, they are assisting in the hurried closing of the session, for the purpose of enabling the Prime Minister to attend the Imperial Conference. So far as we are concerned, the Prime Minister can leave for London, and he can have a pair. I have already made him that offer, which is a fair one. Let him do the same as his predecessor did, and leave the House to deal with the business of the country in his absence. Matters which cannot be disposed of satisfactorily unless the House sits practically until Christmas should not be rushed through in ten weeks. I do not care for the threats of the Prime Minister, but the day will come when he will have to answer to the people for his actions. We are now within nine weeks of the termination of the session, and it is only reasonable that we should know Som#thing about the agenda-paper to be placed before the Imperial Conference. Not a word has fallen from the lips of the Prime Minister regarding the views of the Government on foreign policy, but he contends that Australia must have a say in Great Britain’s foreign policy. Australia, however, is in a far better position than she would be if she had a say in foreign policy. Everybody knows that negotiations in connexion with foreign policy are carried on by secret diplomacy. The full light of publicity is never allowed to fall upon them. Although during the war statesmen talked of abolishing secret diplomacy, Ave were recently surprised by a cablegram inviting us to participate in a possible war. Who was responsible? It is common knowledge to-day, from statements that have been made since we received the cablegram, that Great Britain was then pro-Greek, and that France, who was an ally of Great Britain in the European war, was pro-Turk. Between the two of them a serious state of affairs had been reached, and they were prepared to declare war. Mr. Lloyd George asked that the manhood of Australia should be sent across the seas, and the Prime Minister and all his followers on the Government side of the House, without knowing anything about the merits of the dispute, agreed that Australian troops should be supplied. They did this, moreover, without consulting Parliament. I do not want Australia to have a voice in foreign affairs if negotiations are carried on in that way. If we have a voice we shall be told that we have no right to object to taking our part in every war. What would our voice amount to against the voice of the British Government? It would be a very feeble voice crying in the wilderness, and it would carry no weight at all; but Great Britain would be able to say, “ Inasmuch as you have a voice in this matter, we expect you to send your troops oversea to take part in all our wars.” The Labour party does not stand for secret diplomacy. We do not wish to be mixed up in foreign quarrels. We want to look after Australian affairs. The honorable member for Bourke did not state that we were opposed to preparing to defend Australia, but, on the other hand, he made it very clear that Australia would have to provide for her own defence. Members on this side of the House say that Ave should make provision under the voluntary system for the defence of this country. .It is very doubtful which is the best method of defending a country to-day. There was a time when it could be asserted that the building of big ships Avas the best way to do it, but we do not know now whether future defence will not be more by aeroplanes and submarines. If there Avas one thing about which the honorable member for Bourke wa? clear, it Avas that this party realizes that there is a necessity to look after Australia, and to be prepared for Avar if it comes. He said he found fault with those people, especially Australians, who constantly belittled their own country, and stated that Ave were unable to defend ourselves. The Prime Minister went so far as to say that Ave should shoulder some part of the defence expenditure of the British Government. Australia has always shared a part of Great Britain’s defence expenditure. ‘If we compare what Australia and Canada have done. Australia’s record stands out conspicuously. We had our own Navy, and when the Avar broke out Ave sent hundreds of thousands of men to the battle fronts, and our warships to wherever they could be of ‘service. We paid interest on the money expended for the upkeep of our men, which Canada did not do. In every way possible we have helped the Empire, and if in the future she has a genuine cause for going to war, there is no doubt what Australia will do. But I say, Avith all the emphasis at my command, that we do not approve of rushing into war every time the bugle is blown. The people of Australia should know the why and the wherefore, and should decide for themselves whether they will participate in wars oversea. That is the attitude of the Labour party. Will anybody now say that there is no defence policy on this side of the House?
The Prime Minister, in speaking of defence matters, said, in effect, that trade and commerce were stronger than armies and navies. That is precisely what the honorable member for Bourke said. The burden of his charge against the Government was that it was the capitalistic concerns in a country, the trade and com-, meroe, that were the cause of international troubles, and he wanted to see the time come when that evil influence would be abolished. He did not make it appear that war could be abolished at once. He holds rather a different opinion from me on this point. He thinks that the nations have no hope at tha present’ juncture, with the capitalistic system in operation, of coming to an understanding to prevent war; but, on the other hand, I hope that something “will be done by the larger nations, through the League of Nations, or some other channel, to settle future disputes. The honorable member for Bourke was quite clear in expressing his views.
The Prime Minister attacked the honorable member for Bourke, who is one of the staunchest Protectionists on this side of the ‘House, and has been so for many years, for making a Free Trade speech. The honorable member for Bourke pointed out that the preferential trade proposals about which the Prime Minister has been talking up and down the country, which he has brought so much into prominence and for which he is endeavouring to obtain some kudos, have been before- Imperial Conferences foryears past, and have always met with the same fate. British statesmen, even if they were favorable to the proposals, could not bring them into operation, because in Great Britain - where, as the honorable member for Bourke has pointed out, there are between 1,000,000 and 2,000,000 people unemployed, and hundreds of thousands of others are on the bread line, with insufficient nourishment for body and soul - cheap food is an essential. If a tax were placed on food entering that country in order to give us a Tariff preference, the people of Great Britain would object; and, after all, the people in Great Britain decide who shall govern the country. If they are not satisfied, no power can interfere to prevent them from getting their way. The Prime Minister spoke about the unemployed. Does he forget that on the’ steps of this House a deputation of” 300 unemployed, some of them returned soldiers, waited to see him to-day to place their condition before him with a view to obtaining some relief? In this young -Australia, a land which, they say, flows with milk and honey, we have thousands of men unemployed. The last statistics I saw showed that at the end of March there were 27,000 unionists registered as unemployed in Australia.
– The number is increasing.
– A great number do not register, and, unfortunately, some of. the unemployed do not belong to any union at all. Unemployment is being increased by the Commonwealth Government’s immigration policy, and little consideration is given to those people already here who are unable to get work. It is idle to quote the industrial conditions prevailing in Great Britain, when those in Australia are such that we cannot find employment for our own people. For the last three or four months the Prime Minister and other public men have been endeavouring to cause’ people to believe that Australia is in imminent danger of invasion. The same thing happened a few years ago, when we were told that the White Australia policy was menaced, and that if the people of Australia did not take some action to .defend themselves, they would awake one morning to find an enemy on Australian territory. We were led to believe by a certain person that Japan had not sufficient elbow room for her teeming millions, and in consequence must look to Australia for territory on which to settle them. We ‘ were told that Japanese soldiers would land on the islands adjacent to Queensland, and eventually establish themselves on Australian territory, and we were asked what we could do to prevent them. I said at that time that I did not agree with those whom I termed “ war scaremongers,” and J Japan’s subsequent actions justified my judgment. If Japan had had hostile designs upon Australia she would have made an attack while Great Britain was engaged in the world war. Everybody knows that Japan used her military and naval strength and money in loyally assisting’ the Allies. After the war was over,- and while Japan’s attitude to the White Australia policy was being discussed, that country, at the first appeal, agreed to do all in her power to bring about the world’s peace, and became a signatory to the covenant of the League of Nations. Subsequently Japan was represented at the Washington Conference, and subscribed to the Agreement for a reduction of naval power, and advertised throughout the world that she stood for peace. Now the “ war scaremongers “ are busy again, and the lessons of the war have been forgotten. My sympathies are with those who suffered for this and other countries in the recent war. Notwithstanding the sacrifices made by the soldiers, the Prime Minister is still endeavouring to create among the people an impression that it is necessary to prepare for war. He tells us most solemnly that the only method of preventing war is to be prepared for war. The history of the past teaches us that to those countries which prepare for war, war eventually comes. They develop their armaments to such an extent that when a slight quarrel occurs with other nations, instead of trying to settle the dispute amicably they make it a pretext for war. War preparedness merely encourages nations to war upon each other. The proper means of preventing war is to look for peace, and’ I welcome peace by whatever means it is attainable. The Prime Minister twitted me the other day with always talking about the League of Nations. The honorable gentleman, too, is an advocate of the League, and yet he said to me, “ Let me tell the honorable member that -if the League of Nations becomes a reality, we must look out for what may happen in regard to the White Australia policy.” While professing to be an advocate of the League of Nations, the honorable gentleman yet asks us to believe that it will interfere with Australia’s right of selfgovernment. I believe that the League of Nations will have sufficient common sense to allow the different countries to manage their own affairs. That must be the first principle of the covenant if it be properly drafted, and it is idle for the Leader of the Government to endeavour to get people to believe that they are in imminent danger of war, or that the White Australia policy will be menaced by the League of Nations. These statements, when analyzed, mean nothing. The honorable member for Bourke (Mr.
Anstey) in his speech showed to what extremes the Prime Minister resorts in order to mislead the people. The Prime Minister has promised that he will bring these matters before the House at a later period, and give us ample time to discuss them, but I doubt very much whether honorable -members will have adequate opportunity for discussion. The honorable member for Bourke has rendered yeoman service to this country by showing exactly where Australia stands . in. relation to defence, and the danger of the Prime Minister agreeing at the Imperial Conference to concessions which will not be in the best interests of the Commonwealth. This House should be thankful to the honorable member for Bourke for his timely warning.
– The country will understand it.
– I have no fear that the country will not understand By the new procedure the Opposition have adopted in indicting the Government, men of the calibre of the honorable member for Bourke are able to place before members of this Chamber information upon subjects with which they have made themselves especially conversant. Whilst I am Leader of the Labour party, men of ability on this side will have a. chance to voice their knowledge, so that, through Hansard, the people of Australia can understand the true position in regard to foreign affairs and economic conferences. The speeches of the honorable member for Bourke and other members have proved that the present Government have failed signally in the same way as did the previous ‘Government, which comprised several of the present Ministers. The Government may be composed of business men, but the manner in which they are dealing with the public business of this country-
– .Will lead the country to bankruptcy.
– There is no doubt about that. The Prime Minister is quite willing to incur any expense in the defence of the country, and yet, by agreements made at the Premiers’ Conference, has consented to surrender Federal powers to the States, and reduce the revenue of the Commonwealth. The result will be that, as time passes, the Tariff will be increased in order to obtain sufficient money to carry on the government of the Commonwealth. That is the action of a so-called “ business Government.” I prophesy that they will prove, from the point of view of public finance, a most futile Government. We on this side of the House endeavour to do our duty to the people we represent; we shall voice our complaints from time to time, and if the Prime Minister resents our attitude, he can exercise his power, and use the forms of the House to silence us, as he has already threatened to do. If lie does, we shall at least know that the people of the country will support us in endeavouring to do our duty.
.- With some of the propositions advanced by the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) I am in cordial agreement. With the general line of his reasoning, and the conclusions which he deduced from those propositions, I find myself quite unable to agree. I agree with him entirely that the foreign policy of Australia is essentially a matter for discussion upon the floor of this House. I venture to suggest that sufficient recognition has not been given to that important fact in the past. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) either said or suggested, in the speech which he has just concluded, that we must confine ourselves to Australian affairs, and not have anything to do with foreign affairs and matters that happen outside Australia. Surely we must have learned from the last war that, whether we like it or not, the destiny of Australia may depend upon events that occur far outside these shores. It is impossible” for U3 to sit down here and adopt an attitude of lofty disdain ; our fate may be determined by policies and events with the causation of which Australia has had nothing to do. Accordingly, we must accept the position that foreign affairs are, if not the most important- I am inclined to think they are the most important - at least one of the most important subjects with which the National Parliament of Australia has to . deal. When a question’ of foreign policy arises, that question must be discussed with a full regard to all the relevant facts. I venture to suggest that there are some highly relevant facts to which the honorable member for Bourke paid no attention.
What are the alternatives before Australia when a question of foreign affairs arises? We may take a hand in it ourselves as though we were independent and as though Australia were a nation on her own account - that is the first alternative, and it appeared to be suggested from time to time by the honorable member for Bourke. The second alternative is to try and arrive at a common policy with the rest of the Empire. That is the alternative for which the Prime Minister stands. The third alternative is to pay no attention to it, but to remain within our own borders, and allow our foreign policy to be determined in London without our knowing anything about it. With that third procedure, which has been adopted to a very considerable extent in the past, I have not the slightest sympathy. To adopt the first proposition - to act as though Australia were independent, and could determine a policy apart altogether from any consideration of what the other portions of the Empire proposed to do - is to tread a path of danger and, indeed, of disaster, because when the logical results are analyzed it means separation from the Empire and from our friends.
The question of a foreign policy for Australia may usefully be considered from this point of view: Supposing that this were an entirely independent nation, that there were no links of any kind uniting her to any other portion of the Empire, what policy would such an Australia adopt? It requires very little thought to lead one to the conclusion that, if we did not. have the Empire behind us, it would be our first duty to endeavour to invent one to insure the safety of Australia. Regarded simply and solely from a purely ^elfish Australian point of view, the very first duty of any Government is to recognise its responsibility for the safety and security of the community. Until that duty is discharged it is impossible for a Government rightly to attend to other lesser problems. I think it was Cromwell who said, “‘Being’ comes before ‘wellbeing.’ “ The matters affecting the very existence of the nation should hold the first place in the regard of those who are responsible for a national policy. Consider, then, what the position would be if Australia were regarded as an independent nation apart altogether from the
Empire, with, the duty - and, to am extent, the power - of determining entirely her own policy. The first fact which would force itself upon, the attention of any man or of any Minister responsible for the formulation of a foreign policy in such a situation would be that Australia wa3 regarded as one of the small nations of the world - small in population and accordingly small in defensive resources as compared with the nations possessing a larger population. We would have to recognise that, from the point of view of population, we would compare with places like Peru, or Siam, and that is a very different view of Australia from that which we ‘are accustomed to take. Australia, under the hypothesis to which 1 refer, would be regarded not only as a small nation, but also as a nation occupying a rich and highly desirable country which is not fully developed and in which there is room for many millions more people. Further, it would be recognised that Australia is isolated and that that isolation, in modern conditions, is not a protection in the same sense as it was in the past.
Reference has been made to the position of Canada and to the natural protection which she enjoys by reason of her proximity to the United States of America. The important thing to remember in relation to Canada is that it is in the vital interests of the United States of America to prevent any disturbance of the status quo in Canada. Things, as they are, are perfectly satisfactory to the United States of America, and the principles underlying the Monroe doctrine and the Washington theory of non-interference in foreign affairs - wherever interference is avoidable - are such as to give the United States of America a direct and an immediate interest in the preservation of the integrity of Canada. ‘ Australia is not in that position; we are far away, in a lonely corner of the world, and there is no country whose vital interest is concerned in the preservation of Australia. I grant that Great Britain would desire to preserve her trade connexion, and that there are ties of race and sentiment which, upon this hypothesis, I am leaving out of account; but the continued existence of Australia as a self-governing com munity is not the vital interest of any nation upon the face of the earth ; and, accordingly, it would be essential for Australia to endeavour to find friends before she would be in a position to frame an intelligible foreign policy. As soon as we endeavoured to find friends we would be met with the statement that we stand ‘for a. White Australia. I hope that w© still stand for a White Australia; sometimes one is inclined to doubt whether there is the old enthusiasm for a White Australia which at one time was accepted by practically all sections of the community.
– Had you heard the storm in South Australia raised by Sir Henry Barwell’s speeches you would know that that sentiment still lives..
– When the policy of a. white Australia is considered it at once becomes apparent that the maintenance of that policy in itself imposes some degree of risk upon any nation which may be asked to ally herself with us. Accordingly, a statesman- considering what should be done in relation to the foreign policy of Australia would have to discover some friendly and powerful nation with whom we could throw in our lot and who would be prepared to join us for purposes of defence. The first consideration would be to diminish as far as possible the necessity for defence. In that connexion, I was glad to hear that the composition of the delegation to the next meeting of the Assembly of the League of Nations in Geneva would soon.be announced. Recently, if I may digress for a moment, a meeting, over which I had the honour to preside, was held in Melbourne, at which proposals . from four branches of the League of Nations Union were discussed. That meeting passed a ‘s resolution that the Federal Ministry be urged to appoint the strongest and most representative delegation to the Assembly of the League of Nations ‘at Geneva. It further urged that one of the delegates should, if possible, be a Commonwealth Cabinet Minister. I hope it will be found possible to send a really strong delegation to the next meeting of the Assembly, in order that, if there be an Australian who . is able to make a contribution to the solution of the international problems of to-day, he shall have an opportunity to do his best. It is one of the first interests of Australia to promote and make effective the League of Nations. But, as is said every day, . and as we must recognise, the League is not yet in full working order, and it is accordingly necessary to secure ‘ an intelligent system of defence, recognising that we have to ‘ go beyond Australia-
– The League of Nations will not be effective until a lot of the present trouble in Europe is settled.
– The League of Nations, at present, is working under great difficulties, some of those difficulties being due to the fact that it is not supported as it should be- by leaders of public opinion in the democracies of the world. If the leaders amongst the people will but come out and insist that the League shall be a real thing, it will be a real thing.
The honorable member for Bourke spoke to a considerable extent upon the capacity of Australia to defend herself, and asked, “ Are we capable of defending ourselves ?” I suggest, with all respect to my honorable friend, that that is a. rather irrelevant question, because we have to defend ourselves, and must defend ourselves according to the necessities of the case. The main thing is to determine what the necessities of the case are. We must defend ourselves, having regard to the risks we have to take. Some of those risks and the means of defence have been indicated. I propose to approach the question, and to deal with it very shortly, from the point of view, of the means of defence. There appear to me to have been two different lines of thought running through the speech of the honorable member for Bourke: (1) that Australia can and will defend herself; and (2) that there is no necessity for defence at all. A man must make up his mind.
– The honorable member did not say there was no necessity for defence.
– Consider the means of. defence of the present day. Battleships of the post-Jutland type cost between £7,000,000- and £9,000,000 to construct, so that it is idle to talk of Australia, “ off her own bat,” maintaining an effective Navy. It cannot be done. Then consider the position of the Australian Fleet to-day - some half-dozen vessels, as against thirty odd not very long ago. It may be that those halfdozen are enough, but that ought to be determined after a consideration of the, realities of the case. I do not propose to deal with the position of naval affairs in the Pacific atthe present day. Some very interesting figures as to the fleets in the Pacific, after the Washington Conference, and notwithstanding the limitations placed ‘by that Conference upon the construction of vessels of over 10,000 tons, have recently been published by Mr. Hector By water, a leading naval authority, and they show . a great increase of naval strength in a particular quarter. The question of air defence and that of the Army require to ‘ be considered. I understood the honorable member for Bourke to say that the way to defend ourselves is to concentrate on internal development and the conservation and development of the natural resources of the country. We must, of course, do that; but to do that alone is simply to shut one’s eyes to the problem of defence. We have to conserve and develop the natural resources of the country, whether we are going to defend ourselves or not, unless, indeed, we are going to stagnate. To pretend that in developing the country we are recognising and assuming the obligation of defending the country, is, I venture to say, simply to trifle with words. It is no use speaking of a country defending itself and of its obligation, to defend itself unless those who so speak are prepared to provide the means that are necessary, in the circumstances, for defence, and I have a sufficient acquaintance with the parliamentary history of my friend, the honorable member for Bourke, to know that he has not hitherto displayed any extreme enthusiasm for the development of the defensive resources of Australia in the ordinary sense.
The honorable member quoted a statement, made some years ago, I understand, by Mr. Joseph Cowan, of Newcastle, that whatever is paid by Great Britain for the defence of the Colonies is more than repaid by the trade of the Colonies, and that the Colonies are a paying proposition to Great Britain. It may be all very well for some one speaking in Great Britain to express that view - that is a matter for people there to say - ‘but, speaking as an Australian, I consider it to be inconsistent with the self-respect of Australia to seek to take advantage of such a position. It does not lie in our mouths to say to Britain, “Our trade is so usef ul to you that you will defend us on that account, and we need not do anything for ourselves.” For myself, at least, I entirely repudiate that position. If, then, even with the best of wishes for the success, and the utmost desire to promote the efficiency, of the League of Nations, it is necessary to determine upon a foreign policy for the Empire as a whole, and to determine upon a defence policy for Australia, surely it is wise for all parts of the Empire to consult together in order that there may be a single foreign policy f’or all of us, and so that such defensive forces as we may think it wise to establish in Australia shall be of such a character as to work in the most effective manner in co-operation with the forces of the rest of the Empire. I accordingly suggest to the House that if we do consider Australia, theoretically, as if it were apart from the Empire altogether, we are led by an inevitable train of reasoning, provided that we recognise our responsibilities, to the conclusion that there must be a co-operation in the determination of policy and a co-operation in the adoption of defensive measures between the various parts of. the Empire. Accordingly I say that in going to London to consult on these matters the Prime Minister will be discharging one of the most important duties of his office, and I wish him well and God-speed. If the work of this House can be got through, and the Government undertake that it can, within the period which has been suggested, there is no reason to my mind for supporting the amendment moved by the honorable member for Bourke.
I have sought to discuss this question from the point of view of reason, and the consideration of the selfinterest, I may say, of Australia. I want to add that we, as Australians, ought to be proud to be admitted to share in the councils of the Empire. We are proud of the associations of race and sentiment, and of the ties with the rest of the Empire, which, though often a subject for derision, account for our safety and security. I have no doubt that .our representatives will attend the councils of the Empire not merely in- the spirit of protecting the interests of Australia, as they assuredly will do, but also with the idea that they will be discharging a common duty and service to the whole of humanity in seeking to assist in making the policy of the Empire with which we stand or fall, wise, coherent, consistent, and prudent.
.- I support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) with very great pleasure. The question of war is the most important question which this or any other Parliament can discuss. I have been surprised, in listening to thedebate, to note the change of attitude on the part of the Treasurer and members of the Country party generally. In the last Parliament the Treasurer, then Leader of the Country party, submitted two motions in this House, which were supported by the present Speaker, for the reduction of the military expenditure of this country by something like £500,000. The honorable gentleman and his followers were then enthusiastic pacifists. What has occurred to change their opinion? I do not know, but their altered attitude to-day is remarkable. They were pacifists a year ‘ ago, and they are war-mongers today. We have gone through five years of awful tragedy, during which the world has been filled with suffering and sorrow, and not one honorable member on the other side has yet advanced any reason why, instead of talking of peace, they should be discussing the possibilities of another war. I am one of those who believe that if the policy of the past is pursued, another war - is a certainty. If we continue to build - battleships and submarines, and carry on all kinds of preparations for war, a war in the near future is certain. I represent a majority of the electors in my constituency, and it is because I hold that opinion that I stand here to-night objecting tq the Prime Minister going to attend, the Im- ‘perial Conference in Great Britain. In the first place, the honorable gentleman is only an accidental Prime Minister-. The members of the Country party owe their election as members of this House to their opposition to the Nationalists at the last election. The Postmaster-General (Mr. Gibson) would have had no chance of being elected if he had told the electors of Corangamite that after election day he would assist to. form a coalition with any section of the National part/. Thb speeches of every member of the Country party were almost confined to a denunciation” of the actions of the Nationalist Government; yet they have formed a coalition with the Nationalists which will probably last until the next election day, but not one day longer. I am satisfied, from my knowledge of Australia, that the people of the Commonwealth will never allow Flinders-lane to rule this country. The majority of the people are totally opposed to the Prime Minister representing Australia at the forthcoming Imperial Conference.
– The honorable gentleman does not represent the Commonwealth at all.
– He represents only a small minority of the people of Australia. The making of preparations for war is calculated only to make war inevitable, and if it is our desire to preserve peace there should be some alternative policy to present. Notwithstanding the attitude of the Democracy of Great Britain at the. present time, I feel that they are on the right track. They declare, first of all, that .the Versailles Peace Treaty must be revised, and that the Fourteen Articles of Faith submitted by President Wilson” were not honoured at the Peace Conference. Immense injury has been done to man)’ of the smaller nations of Europe, and immense injury has been done to Germany. To-day the possibility of another war seems almost certain in view of the- French invasion of the Ruhr Valley. Great Britain has 1,000,000 of unemployed, and is begging France to retrace her steps and get back out of Germany. There is a possibility of a rupture between France and Great Britain at any moment. The French say that it is all very well for Great Britain to declare that the indemnities to be paid by Germany should be reduced, because that is a matter which does not affect Great Britain to any great extent. The French, in their reply to Great Britain, say that if she is honest in her professed desire to preserve the peace of the world, it is her duty to give back some of the colonies which she has taken from Germany. To prove her sincerity Great Britain should live up to the ideals which it was said animated her when she declared war against Germany. We were told again and again by every leading public mau in Great Britain that she would not take one inch of territory from any country after the war. What are the facts? On every hand she has taken the country of other people, and has proved dishonorable in connexion with the settlement of treaties. If our Prime Minister thinks it his duty to attend the Imperial Conference, he should, on behalf of the people of Australia, instead of advocating the building of battleships and submarines and preparations for war, say to the Conference, “Let us prove our good faith. Let us show that we were actuated by the most honorable motives in the last war.” We know that men and women who suffered in the last war were actuated by the best motives. They never thought that they were carrying on the war to give Great Britain, France, or the United States of America any oil or coal concessions in Mesopotamia. They never thought they were fighting to give any country certain colonies in South Africa. They honestly believed that they were called upon to fight for very high ideals. They never imagined that the very trenches in which they fought and died in France were to be paid for by the Australian Government to ‘ the French Government. The British and Germans were supposed to be at each others’ throats, and our people never imagined that in respect of a machine gun used by the Germans, .the patent for part of which belonged to the British Government, 6s. would be set aside for each of these weapons, and that three months before the Armistice was signed many thousands of pounds were paid to the British Government for their use. They never imagined that in connexion with another gun which was used by the British Forces, Germany claimed a small patent, and that in respect of each of these guns ls. was set aside for the proprietors of Krupp’s foundry, and that three months before the signing of the Armistice many thousands of pounds were ‘paid on this account by the British Government to the German Government. We had little or no conception of what was going on, but we realize to-day that the people have been greatly deceived. I am one of those who saw a little of the horrors of the Great War. I am absolutely satisfied that there is no chance of preventing war by spending money in preparation for war. The party -with which I am ‘associated represents a majority of the people of Australia; it captured eleven out of eighteen Senate seats at the last election, and it is only an accident that we have not a majority in this House. 1 candidly tell the Minister that we believe that we 6hall be returned to power at the next election, and that if, at the Imperial Conference, he commits this country either to partial conscription for our land forces, or any expenditure of money on militarism or navalism, we shall repudiate the agreement. We are not prepared in this country to be tied up in the broils of the older countries ; we do not want war, and neither do the working people of the world at large. The honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Latham) can be eloquent about the League of Nations.
– “Why did he not go to the front?
– Perhaps- he is one who thought of trying to prevent .war by not going to the war. The League of Nations, to be even partially effective, must have within its ranks all the great nations, including Germany, Austria, Russia, and America. I have not too much faith in the League so long as there is oil or coal that certain financiers wish to steal from smaller nations. My hope for the abolition of war lies in a belief that the men and women of the working classes will shortly be the rulers of every country in the world. To-day we see every sign of such a consummation. In Great Britain the Labour party in the House of Commons is 150 strong, and is the official Opposition. The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks), speaking last session, said that the British Navy, with the Admiral, metaphorically, standing with his hand up, prevented the Turks coming to fight. As a matter of fact, it was not the Admiral or the Navy, but organized Labour in Great Britain which threw’ down the gauntlet to Lloyd George, and declared that it had had enough of war - that if Great Britain fought with the Turks, not a ship, man, or gun would leave the Old Country’s shore to take part. Labour is becoming stronger every day in Great Britain, and every by-election is fought on this question. During the war men were sent to- prison’ for being pacifists, and were subjected to every indignity, but these men. as candidates practically swept the polls at the last election. Mr. E. D. Morel, who was sent to gaol again and again as a pacifist, went into Scotland, and there brought about the defeat of that great war-monger, Mr . Winston Churchill.
The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks), speaking of Japan, has said that that is no longer a military nation - is no longer filled with thoughts of war. The working classes of that country are thinking of something else, as the working classes all over the world are doing; and the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) will get the shock of his life at the Imperial Conference when he meets the Premier of Canada, and is told in plain terms that the Dominion is taking part in no more wars. It is not a matter of our Prime Minister being consulted by the Foreign Affairs representative at. the Conference, for we know that not even the British Parliament is consulted in such matters. The great war would not have eventuated had the British Parliament been told -in time about the secret treaties with France and. Russia, made by three or four men of the group who conduct the foreign affairs of the Old Land. These Foreign Affaii-3 representatives consult nobody; they are a few men who wield greater power than was ever wielded by Kaiser or Czar. They brought about the war without telling the people, much less Parliament, anything whatever about those treaties; and so long as foreign affairs are conducted in that manner the people of Australia, or, at least, the section to which this party belongs, tells the Prime Minister emphatically that this country shall not be dragged into any future war for the sake of oil, or mineral, or other concessions to the great financial institutions which largely rule the world.
It is too much to expect this amendment to be carried, but I hope that before the session closes we shall be told exactly what proposals are to be made at the Conference, and what the opinions of the Prime Minister are regarding them. In this connexion the honorable gentleman has been most guarded to-night, simply indicating that in some way we shall assist the Motherland in undertaking large military and naval expenditure.
The Prime Minister could tell the Conference that if there is a shortage of money, the exploiting of Mesopotamia, where millions are being spent, should cease, and that the . army of occupation might be withdrawn from Germany. In such ways money could be found, if there is a desire to waste it on military preparations; but, thank God, the clique in Great Britain will not be long in power to spend money in that way ! We on this side are charged with having a “ red “ objective, but our “ red “ objective is infinitely better than the objective of all the parties opposed to Labour, who make no effort to prevent war. The following ‘is an extract from an article by Mr. Arthur Mee in My Magazine for August, 1922 : -
Mankind is confronted with the greatest tragedy since the Crucifixion. Since the betrayal of Jesus by Judas there has been no more appalling act in human history than the betrayal of the men who gave up their lives for the Allies.
They died to save the world from war. Their Governments told them so, and they rallied to their flag believing it. They believed the Allies had nothing less to serve than liberty, and the heart of the youth of the world beat high at the thought of the Great Adventure that had come to it. It went out like a Galahad, seeking the Holy Grail.
To thousands and millions came the bitter knock at the door, to say that another boy had gone; but though the heart was breaking, the spirit of the world’ endured, for the price was not too bitter to pay for peace and goodwill among men.
But the tragedy that confronts the world today is that the politicians have torn their pledge to pieces like a scrap of paper, and have betrayed mankind, those who live and those who died.
The peoples of” the world, before God and before man, have no hatred of each other. They wish to live in friendliness and prosperity. They are ready for anything that will bring peace to all generations. But there are those who seek another war while the ruin of the last is still upon us. They would make all Europe as Russia is, with millions driven to beggary and beggars put in power.
It rests on all plain people of goodwill to save. the world and keep the faith with those who died. If all our pulpits will ring out, if all our papers will speak out, there will be time to strangle militarism before it gets another start. It is at its game again. It is crying out for bombing planes and poison gas, for chemicals for blinding cities full of people; and it may get them while the people sleep. But never can it get them if we wake, and we call on all good people now to use what power they have to make it known that not another penny and not another mother’s son shall leave these islands for another war.
Let us think out the facts on which we have to act.
That, in my opinion, is one of the finest pieces of literature I have ever read; it is an inspiration. As to the pulpit doing its duty, I must say that it was sadly wanting during the five years’ great tragedy. One of the most heartrending facts is that the Church took such an active part in sooling men on to kill one another. It is late in the day, but the Church would do well now to preach the gospel of peace and goodwill, and not everlastingly talk about building battleships and submarines. As for the press, we know that tens of millions of pounds were spent in propaganda during the war, and that the most- lying statements were made concerning the atrocities of our enemies. Thousands of pounds were spent in Australia,’ but that great organ, the Age, only a few weeks ago declared that the one hope of salvation for the human race was by the workers taking decided ar.d concerted action against future wars. This is the attitude of the Age to-day. I honestly believe that millions of pounds are being spent in propaganda. During the conscription campaign, Labour members who opposed conscription) were charged with being in receipt of German gold. Certain people are getting gold to-day. The attitude of the press is due to the fact that millions of pounds are in circulation for the purpose of bringing about another world war. I do not believe that the enemy to be feared is Japan, as has been suggested; I believe that we will shortly be hearing of all sorts of cruel actions on the part of another nation. I was one of those who was foolish enough to give credence to most of the stories about the atrocities of the Germans ; but I must confess that during the short time that I was up the line I never saw or heard anything about them. It may be startling to some honorable members to- read! this statement made by Admiral Sims, of the United States of America Navy, as reported in the New York Tribune on 3rd April -
The British naval records and our own are filled with reports showing that German “TJ” boat commanders aided in the rescue of crews and passengers of ships they sank. If they could not tow the ships to safety, they would always, by means of the radio, notify other ships of the position of the crippled vessel.. He added that there was no authentic record of an atrocity ever having been perpetrated by the commander and crew of a German’ submarine, and the press accounts of the “ terrible atrocities “ were nothing but propaganda.
That is not the statement of the disloyalist, but of aman who took part in the war.
– What about the Lusitania?
-It was proved that the Lusitania was carrying munitions of war. As I have said, very heavy expenditure is being incurred in propaganda today. We are being informed about the fortification of Singapore against the Japanese, though the name of that nation is not supposed to he mentioned. We are not being told about the great quarrel that is going on in Mosul about the oil wells. We learn nothing of the bitter animosity of the Rockefeller groupof financiers and the Turkish company controlled by British capitalists and of their competition for the possession of oil wells. In my opinion, the equipment at Singapore will never be turned against the Japanese at all. In my youth we heard a good deal about the threatened Russian invasion. I am satisfied that this talk about Japan may be placed in the same category, and that later we shall he told of the quarrel between these two capitalistic sections that are seeking to capture the world’s oil supplies. Illfeeling will then he raised by the press against our cousins, the Americans. These are the people against whom we will he asked to fight. But, as one member of the Australian Democracy, and as one who mingles with the people, I warn the British capitalistic class not to rely upon the Australian Democracy running to their call everytime the bugle is sounded . Only a few months ago wo werenearly plunged into another war as the outcome of a quarrelbetween Lloyd George and the Turkish Empire. Although we have been told that the last war was one to end all wars, that terrible conflicthad scarcely finished before Britain was supplying guns and munitions to Greece, and France was doing likewise to Turkey. They were fighting by proxy for the possession of certain iron, oil, and coal deposits. While Greece appeared to bo successful France wanted to intervene, but Lloyd George would have none of it. Immediately there came a reversal in the fortunes of war, Lloyd George, unknown even to his own Minister for Foreign Affairs, Lord Curzon, and unknown to his colleagues in Cabinet, save two, cabled to Australia, “ Will you send your troops if we declare war against Turkey?” He sent a similar cable to Canada and to South Africa. But note the difference in the reception of those cables. The Prime Minister of Canada immediately replied, “Before we send a Canadian from this country we want to know what we are fighting for.” General Smuts sent practically the same reply, butnot so the little gentleman who then occupied the place of Prime Minister of Australia. Although he had just presented to Parliament a report by Senator Pearce on the Washington Conference and had talked a good deal about the green pastures of peace that were going to last for all time, he delivered quite a different reply. Without consulting Parliament, which was then in session, he replied that Australians would be there in their thousands to assist in massacring the unfortunate Turks. Thank God, there was a British working class movement in England strong enough to prevent any Australians having to go. We take up this attitude concerning the forthcoming Conference: We want to know every matter that is going to be discussed. We do not want from Britain documents on any question that cannot be perusedby members of this Parliament. In Canada members cannot get a copy of the cables sent by Lloyd George. The Canadian Prime Minister has declared that he would gladly make them available, but he has been ordered by the British Cabinet not to produce them. We are a self-governing community, I hope, and if the British Government send any document to us it ought to be with the full knowledge that it will be, or ought to be, laid on the Library table or on the table of Parliament. There should be ho secrecy about these communications. The last war was the result of secret diplomacy, and unhappily there is as much secrecy now as before. It is true we are only & small part of the world, and with our 5,500,000 of people perhaps we cannot influence very much the trend of world affairs, but at least we can do our duty, and we might just as well die without preparation as he killed as the result of the latest scientific discoveries as applied to warfare. The next war might easily mean the annihilation of civilization. Do honorable members realize that the chemical research authorities of the United States of America have discovered a certain’ liquid the use of which will be most terrible in its effects? Let me read for their information just what may happen with the use of Lewisite, as reported by the Chemical Research Department in the United States of America -
We hare discovered a liquid, three drops of w hich, when applied to a man’s skin, will cause death. If, instead of carrying machine guns, aeroplanes were equipped to carry a tank of this liquid for discharge from nozzles like an ordinary street sprinkler, it would kill everything in its path. It would be a weapon that would absolutely destroy troops, and whole cities with non-combatants as well. The whole American Army of 1,260,000 men in France could have been wiped out in ten or twelve hours had the Germans this liquid and about 300 planes to distribute it.
This means that millions of defenceless citizens may be destroyed by liquids showered upon them from aeroplanes. Notwithstanding this, the Prime Minister is declaring in this, the twentieth century, when the horrors of the last war have not then begun to fade from our memory, that he is to attend an Imperial Conference. What for? To discuss with the Imperial authorities how many battleships we can build, and what military,preparations we can make for the next conflict. I am justified in assuming that these gentlemen who sit on the corner benches have changed their opinions in a remarkable manner. A few weeks ago they were pacifists, hut to-day they are supporters of the Nationalist party, and standing behind a Prime Minister whom they know is to attend the Conference with the intention of advocating the increase of Australia’s military expenditure byfrom £10,000,000 to £20,000,000 a year. Those on this side of the Chamber are not giving him support, because we do not trust him or the other business men of the Commonwealth with whom he is so closely associated, because during the last conflict, they made hundreds of millions, and are suffering very little from its effects. It is members of the working classes who suffered the most, and it is the masses of the people who are paying for what it cost. Returned soldiers to-day are walking the streets vainly seeking employment, many of whom have been wounded and are quite incapable of following their ordinary avocations. They are denied the right to live in the country for which they fought. We read the other day of the sad spectacle in England of 5,000 people, consisting mainly of exservice men, accompanied by their wives, and also the widows of soldiers, marching through the streets, carrying banners at intervals of about 100 yards, on which were these words, “ Never again ! Never again! Never again !” That is the slogan of the Labour party to-day, and one which we stand solidly behind. At this eleventh hour we are prepared to assist Great Britain to retrace her steps in connexion with her negotiations with smaller nations, and to give effect to those recommendations of ex-President Wilson, upon which the armies of our opponents threw down their weapons, believing that they would be justly dealt with. We have our difficulties. Germany is starving, and Britain has her unemployed problem. Germany cannot purchase the goods which Britain manufactures, and we cannot sell our wheat, meat, or wool in the way we should. The risk of a further European conflict is imminent if the present policy is persisted in. It is useless appealing to the Prime Minister, hut I ask other honorable members opposite between now and the time when these proposals are brought up to give the whole question their very serious consideration, and to realize that war is not the only means of solving the problems which confront us to-day.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Mahony) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Bowden) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until 2.30 o’clock p.m. to-morrow.
House adjourned at 10.25 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 19 June 1923, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1923/19230619_reps_9_103/>.