9th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker (Rt. Hon. W. A. Watt) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Debate resumed from 17th June(vide page 810) on motion by Mr. Charlton -
That the Government is deserving of the severest censure for its flagrant breach of faith in failing; to honour the definite promise of the Prime Minister to consult the House before determining where the second cruiser should be built, and for its anti-Australian action in sending millions of pounds out of. the country for the construction of both cruisers abroad.
– I desire this afternoon to address myself chiefly to the first part of the motion of censure, which declares that the Govern ment is - deserving of the severest censure for its flagrant breach of faith in failing to honour the definite promise of the Prime Minister to consult the House before determining where thesecond cruiser should be built.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton), speaking to that portion of his motion, charged the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) with a breach of faith in not honouring the promises he had made in Parliament, but if the Prime Minister is blameworthy in this connexion, all the members of the Government are equally to be blamed. I shall show, however, that no blame attaches either to him or to them. It has been interesting to note how variously the passage I have just read has-been interpreted by honorable members opposite who have addressed the House, and to mark the fashion in which they have shifted their ground to meet the replies made to their Recusations. The Leader of the Opposition refered to - the promise of the Prime Minister on two previous occasions that this House would be. consulted before an order was placed.
His charge was that the Prime Minister had broken his promise that the House would be consulted before an order was placed for the building of the cruisers. The Prime Minister replied to the honorable member’s remarks, and the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) then continued the debate. He had heard the Prime Minister’s speech, and, with a discretion that did him infinite credit, ran fi way from the charge made by his leader. He said -
Honorable members are aware of the very clear and definite promise made to myself that the House would be given an opportunity of considering the question of the construction of the second cruiser.
According to the honorable member, the promise was that the House would be given an opportunity of “ considering the question of the construction of the second cruiser.” The general charge was that of ti flagrant breach of faith, and, indeed, the word “ treachery “ was used by one honorable member opposite; but the honorable member for Dalley, having heard the Prime Minister’s reply, . was compelled to water down that charge, or, rather, to substitute another for it. His argument was, in effect, “Well, if the Prime Minister did not do this, he did something else.” The honorable member said -
I want honorable members to mark the difference between the amendment which I moved and the definite promise which the Prime Minister gave me. My amendment was to protest against the action of the Government in proposing to have both cruisers built overseas. The Prime Minister’s definite promise to mc, and the right honorable gentleman was careful not to quote those words, was - “ I most certainly give the honorable member for Dalley my assurance that the fullest opportunity will be given to the House to dis: cuss the question of where the second cruiser shall bc built.”
When the Defence Estimates subsequently came before the House, the honorable member had his opportunity, but instead of raising the issue which’ he particularly wished to have decided, he deliberately moved an amendment raising quite another issue. The Prime Minister cannot be adjudged guilty of a breach of honour because the honorable member made that mistake. Apparently the honorable member considers that the best way in which to get out of the difficult position in which he has been placed because of his own blunder is to charge the Prime Minister with’ a breach of faith. Then yesterday the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) said -
A definite promise was made that the House would have an opportunity to discuss the matter of building the cruisers before the question was disposed of.
The honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Penton), however, came forward with something more definite, though he could not support his assertion by any quotation. He said that he had read Hansard, and that undoubtedly when the Prime Minister made the promise he intended that the House should have a full opportunity, after tenders had been received, to discuss the question. But he did not prove that to be so. Furthermore, that is not the charge made by the Leader of the Opposition, nor was it suggested by the honorable member for Dalley, nor by the honorable member for Newcastle, whose constituents are specially interested in shipbuilding. The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) did not attempt to make a specific charge. It was quite good enough for him to use phrases such as “guilty of a gross breach of faith,” and “ gross piece of political treachery.” We can imagine that the honorable member would be very successful when making such general assertions before a great mass of people. How splendidly he would announce that “ This Government has been guilty of gross political treachery, gentlemen.” But unfortunately for him, honorable members are expected, when speaking from their places in Parliament, to give evidence of the truth of what they say.
The House will see how variously the matter has been presented by the Opposition - the endeavour has been made by honorable members opposite to build upon an absolutely baseless foundation the very serious charge of a gross breach of faith. I propose to put the case as it appears to me. The charge of the Leader of the Opposition arises out of the debate on the Defence Equipment Bill, ‘ which has since become law. ‘It enacts that -
The moneys standing to the credit of the Naval Construction Trust Account may be applied for the purpose of naval construction.
The House was asked to authorize the appropriation of money for the purpose of naval construction, and, in the course of the debate, the Prime Minister very properly gave an outline of the Government’s policy in this matter. I shall deal Only with so much of the subject as relates to this motion, and that is the construction of the second cruiser. It will be found that on the 27th June last, the Prime Minister said -
At the present moment I cannot say exactly where tin* second cruiser will be built. All 1 can tell honorable members is this, that the first eruiser is to be built in Great Britain.
A little further on he said -
The Government is very anxious that at least one cruiser should be built in Australia.
That was a definite statement of policy. Then on the 16th July, the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) moved the following amendment : -
That after the word- “ That “ the following words bc inserted:- - “as efforts are being made by the President of the United States of America and the Prime Minister of Great Britain to convene another conference to deal with the question of further disarmament, and in view of the early sitting of -the League of Nations, it is the opinion of this House that expenditure on naval construction should be deferred for the present.”
Clearly the first demand of the Labour party was that expenditure on naval construction should be deferred. However, that amendment was defeated on the 23rd July, and then the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) moved -
That after the word “That” the following words be inserted : - “ any sum spent in naval construction should be expended in Australia, thus relieving the distress caused by unemployment and helping to develop Australian industries.”
The honorable member desired that the money proposed to be spent on two cruisers should be expended in Australia. The Prime Minister, in hi9 reply on the 30th July, said -
So far the Government has arrived at no decision about the construction of the second eruiser. . . . The Government still believes that it is desirable that one cruiser should he built in Great Britain, and also that the fullest consideration should be given to the question of building the second vessel in Australia.
Later came the particular promise which has been referred to, a promise in regard to which he has rigidly kept faith. These words were not quoted by the Leader of the Opposition, although obviously he
Sir Littleton Groom. should have known of them. The Prime Minister said -
An opportunity to discuss it will be afforded! when the Defence Estimates are before the> House.
On the 5th September the Prime Minister referred to the report of Sir John Monash, and made another definite statement which has already been quoted. He said -
Unfortunately the Minister for Defence (Mr.. Bowden) is ill, and probably will be absent from the House for some days, and, in orderto avoid- unnecessary delay, I am making thereport available to the House to-day. Honorable members will remember that, when the Defence Equipment Bill was before the House,. I indicated that the Government, before coming to a decision as to whether one of the two< cruisers proposed to be constructed to replacethe Melbourne and Sydney should be built in Australia, would obtain further information as to the probable cost of such construction. . . . It bas accordingly decided that such plans and specifications must be obtained, and that tenders shall be invited in both Great Britain and Australia.
Thus, on the 5th September he definitely notified the House that tenders were to be invited both in Great Britain and Australia. Further on he said -
After the tenders have been received, the Government will take whatever course it considers best in the interests of Australia. It does not propose that the lowest tender shall necessarily be accepted irrespective of wheththe cruisers are to be constructed in Britain or Australia, but will give the fullest possible consideration to all the factors involved, and take the responsibility for any decision at which it may arrive. In conclusion, I can assure the House, and the people of Australia, that the Government is unanimous in its desire that one of the cruisers should be constructed in Australia, and will so decide if, in view of all the information which will be available to it after the tenders have been received, it feels justified in so doing.
First we had the notification about the Defence Estimates, and the expression of regret at the absence of Mr. Bowden, through illness, and then the definite announcement that tenders would be called both in Britain and Australia, and that the Government would exercise its discretion as to which tender, if any, would be accepted. The Government declared that it would take into consideration all the factors in the case, and come to a decision in the light of the facts before it. What happened, subsequently, on the same day? The honorable member for
Dalley (Mr. Mahony), in the course of some remarks, said -
Before I conclude I want an assurance from the Prime Minister that Parliament will have an opportunity to discuss the defence estimates at a reasonable hour, when a proper decision may be come to upon this important matter.
The honorable member took the line that this important question was to be discussed on the defence estimates.
– At a reasonable hour.
– But on the Defence Estimates then in possession of the House the honorable member was aware that tenders were to be called in Britain and Australia. His remarks at that stage could not have reference to anything but the fact that the discussion on the matter was to take place in this House when the Defence Estimates, which had been postponed because of the illness of Mr. Bowden, were being considered. In fact, he asked that an opportunity should be afforded to honorable members to come to a. decision on the question when the Defence Estimates were being considered. The answer he received from the Prime Minister was as follows : -
I most certainly give the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) my assurance that the fullest opportunity will be given to the House to discuss the question of where the second cruiser shall be built. When the Defence. Equipment Bill was being considered, 1 gave the undertaking that the Government would not take any action in regard to the second cruiser until the House had had a further opportunity to discuss the matter.
– That is the point.
– If honorable members will refer to the promise made by the Prime Minister during the debate upon the Defence Equipment Bill they will find that he said that opportunity to discuss the matter further would be afforded on the Defence Estimates. “Was not that opportunity given?
– Certainly not.
– Let us see what happened. Immediately the Defence Estimates were reached the honorable member for Dalley moved an amendment. Honorable members will see that the actual events conform exactly with the promise given by the Prime Minister. If that promise was not in the terms I have stated, how did it happen that the honorable member for Dalley was ready im mediately the Defence Estimates were reached to resume the discussion practically at the point it had reached on the Defence Equipment Bill. The honorable member moved that the amount for division 83, “ special defence provision to cover the first year’s developmental programme, £1,000,000,” be reduced by £1, and he explained -
I do this as an intimation to the Government to build the two 10,000-ton cruisers in Australia.
– Yes, the two cruisers.
– The honorable member framed his own amendment; if he had desired to confine the discussion to the building of one cruiser in Australia, why did he not draft the amendment in that way?
– Because he desired both to be built in Australia.
– Exactly. The honorable member had the opportunity which the Prime Minister had promised, and he could have moved on the Defence Estimates any amendment that he chose. He elected to move for the construction of both cruisers in Australia, and that proposal the committee negatived. If the honorable member, through his own mistake, obtained from the committee a decision different from that which he expected, he cannot charge the Government with a breach off aith.
– Does the AttorneyGeneral suggest that some Ministerial supporters were anxious to support the building of one cruiser in Australia?
-I am not discussing that point.
– Ministerialists remained very silent on that matter.
– Because they were quite prepared to abide by the undertaking given by the Prime Minister that the Government would come to a decision when tenders were submitted,
And would take the responsibility therefor.
– In any case, that is not pertinent to this censure motion.
– In the light of the facts I have related, what right has the honorable member for Dalley to charge the Government with breach of faith? Wherein did the Government fail to fulfil the promise which the honorable member said was given? Every undertaking given by the Prime Minister has been honoured, both in the spirit and in the letter. Honorable members asked for information; they received it. They asked for an opportunity to discuss the subject on the Defence Estimates; that opportunity was given and availed of.
– Because the Government could not deprive us of that opportunity.
– That may be so ; but the promise given by the Prime Minister was fulfilled. .
– The promise was that after the tenders were received the House would be given an opportunity to discuss the matter.
– Honorable members cannot quote one line from Hansard in support of that statement.
– It would not be very difficult to do so.
– No such proof has yet been adduced by any honorable member.
– I submitted that proof.
– I have reminded the House of the history of this subject, and I do not think it necessary to discuss it any further. I draw attention, however, to one charge that is characteristic of the methods adopted by honorable members opposite. The honorable member for Dalley, when speaking on this motion, said -
Do honorable members realize the significance of the fact that the estimate obtained from the Shipping Board was made public before tenders were invited? That was done so that the Prime Minister’s friends on the other side of the world would be able to quote a figure which would put the Australian tenderer out of the running.
That accusation is rather interesting when considered in relation to the accuser’s own attitude right throughout last session. On the 23rd July the honorable member, referring to the approximate figures given by the Prime Minister regarding the comparative costs of building a cruiser in Australia and Great Britain, said -
I take leave to challenge those figures, and I ask the Prime Minister to make available to honorable members any information he may Save in support of them.
In the same speech he said -
I further invite the Prime Minister to lay on the table the information he has received regarding the cost of construction in Australia.
And again, referring to the estimates given by the Naval Board and the Commonwealth Shipping Board -
If there is any difference between the two estimates, they should be placed side by side before honorable members, so that we may judge them on their merits.
On the 26th August, the honorable member for Dalley asked this question -
I ask the Prime Minister if he is yet in a position to inform the House as to the nature of the report presented by Sir John Monash upon the cost of building a cruiser in Australia ?
Two days later he returned to the subject
Will the Prime Minister toll the House what are the contents of Sir John Monash’s reports in reference to the building of - cruisers in Australia ?
On the 2nd September he asked -
Has the Prime Minister any statement to make regarding Sir John Monash’s report on cruiser construction in Australia? If not, why not?
Will the Prime Minister state definitely whether it is his intention to table the report of Sir John Monash, and move that it be printed?
On the 4th September he said -
I desire to make a protest, because Sir John Monash, having been called upon to make a report, the Government is deliberately withholding that report from honorable members.
And on the 5th September, after the information had been made available, he said -
I am pleased to know that at last the Government has made up its composite mind to present Sir John Monash’s report to the House. It has delayed doing it as long as it possibly could with any show of decency. Now that public opinion has compelled it to make available a report which was unpalatable to it we find it immediately retreating to another trench. It has decided that as a means of further delaying the work of building cruisers in Australia, complete plans and specifications must be obtained from Great Britain and tenders must be called.
The honorable member continuously tried to obtain that information from the Government, and because he received what he sought he charges the Government with having committed a breach of duty. That is quite consistent with the methods of honorable members opposite.
I do not propose to discuss the merits of the proposal to carry out the construction of these cruisers in Great Britain.
– Let the honorable member read the admirable speech delivered yesterday by the Minister for Defence (Sir Neville Howse).
Mr.Fenton. - The essay he read!
– That comment comes well from honorable members opposite, several of whom read their speeches without any protest being raised from this side of the House.
– I am not objecting!
– I should think not. The speech of the Minister for Defence was full of information which thoroughly justified the action of the Government. I deprecate the practice adopted by honorable members opposite of imputing motives to anybody who disagrees with them. For these reasons the House decided that, in the interests of Australia, the construction of the vessels should be proceeded with at once. But immediately the British tender was accepted all sorts of unjustifiable charges were hurled against us. Honorable members on this side of the House have for years been striving for the extension and preservation of Australian industries. Theirs has not been merely lip-service; in many cases we have practically spent our lives in the endeavour to foster and extend Australian industries. Therefore, Australian politics are being dragged down to a very low level indeed when the Government is charged with having acted in the interests of the British taxpayers, and with slandering Australian workmen. To say such things is not playing the game. I urge honorable members opposite to be fair. We are prepared to answer all reasonable criticism upon what we have done. If this charge is considered on its merits, I have no doubt what the verdict will be. The Prime Minister faithfully kept his promise, and he, as Leader of the Government, and his Ministers, did what they considered right to ensure the defence of Australia.
.- The charge contained in the motion of censure submitted by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) is: -
That the Government is deserving of the severest censure for its flagrant breach of faith in failing to honour the definite promise of the Prime Minister to consult the House before determining where the second cruisershould be built, and for its anti-Australian action in sending millions of pounds out of the country for the construction of both cruisers abroad.
It is a definite motion of censure of the Government because of its antiAustralian attitude and the breach of faith on the part of the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce). This is not the first time that the right honorable gentleman has broken his promise to the House, and the people of Australia. And he is not alone. To the best of his ability, the Prime Minister replied to the charges made by my leader and by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony). He spoke at some length, quoting extensively from Hansard, in an endeavour to prove that he had not been recreant to his trust, but I feel sure that the people of Australia will judge that he, together with his Ministerial colleagues and supporters, has failed ignominiously. They have all drawn heavily upon the Hansard debates of last session in their anxiety to cover up the vital issue, namely, the definite promise given by the Prime Minister who, as the leading citizen of the Commonwealth, should certainly honour any undertaking given, that the House would be consulted before tenders were accepted. The AttorneyGeneral (Sir Littleton Groom) has suggested that honorable members on this side of the House are libelling the Government, and that the debate is being dragged down to a low level. If this is so, the Prime Minister is responsible for having ignored his definite promise to the House and the country. So weak was the case made out by the right honorable gentleman in his reply to the Leader of the Opposition that the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) thought it advisable to intervene at an early stage. Spoonfed with information and extracts quite irrelevant to the issue, he, too, endeavoured to prove the soundness of the action taken by the Government. Then after the Treasurer had spoken, reinforcements were called up from the Defence Office. A brief was prepared for the Minister for Defence.
Mr.Fenton. - An essay.
– Honorable members maycall it an essay if they wish. At all events it was a very poor production, notwithstanding that the full strength of the Defence Department had been brought to bear on it. The Minister for
Defence, it is true, made a very wellbalanced speech with nicely rounded phrases, and very fine terminology, but he also failed to answer the charge of breach of faith and the anti- Australian attitude of. the Government. Ministers were further assisted by the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory). That honorable gentleman, of course, could not keep his anti-Australian proclivities out of the discussion. As we listened to him we could easily believe that he was ready to stand behind any Government that placed orders overseas for commodities that could be purchased more cheaply there than in Australia. He and several other honorable members supporting the Government are frank in their determination that nothing shall be constructed in Australia if they can prevent it. But when the Cabinet, at the behest of the honorable member for Swan and other freetrade members of this House, decided to place the order for the construction of fourteen locomotives overseas, the people who are subsidizing the Government - the manufacturers of Australia - got together in conference and passed resolutions urging that the work should be given to an Australian firm. It was not until there was a threat that funds would be withheld from the National party that the Government ungraciously accepted the Australian tender. Thompson and Company, of Castlemaine, who secured the contract, have no reason to thank quite a number of members supporting the Government. As with locomotives, so it is with agricultural machinery, shovels, cruisers, and everything the manufacture of which in this country would help to make Australia a selfcontained nation. The “ little “ men of Australia are on the Government side of the House, possibly because the Prime Minister is more British than Australian. A Government supporting a policy under which work is sent outside the Commonwealth is treacherous to the Australian people. It is rank treachery for men to prevent the proper development of the Australian Commonwealth. This Government has done that, and will continue to do so until it is removed from office, which event is not far distant. A great deal has been said concerning the attitude of the party alleged- to be irreconcilable on the two questions of whether two cruisers shall be -built ‘.at all’, or, if they are to be built, whether they shall be built in Australia. The attitude of the Labour party is quite logical. We remember not long ago that one of our warships had to be destroyed in accordance with the provisions of the Washington Treaty. Because of our loyalty to that treaty the Australia was sunk. The Washington Disarmament Conference had then terminated its deliberations, and further conferences were predicted. The League of Nations was soon to meet again, and the attitude of the Labour party was that the construction of cruisers should be postponed until such time as the League of Nations had deliberated, .or until further disarmament conferences had met. That was quite logical. We have propounded our scheme for the defence of Australia. It was unanimously accepted by the interstate conference held in Melbourne last year. The Labour party stands first of all for the development of Australian industries- for factories which can easily and rapidly be converted from peace productions to the manufacture of munitions and so forth. It also advocates the efficient defence of Australia by submarines and aircraft. Those members and supporters of the Government who say we have no defence policy are, therefore, far from the truth in their assertion. The construction of two cruisers for use in Australian waters will not provide for the defence of Australia, because we must have submarines, a coastal defence system, factories which can be easily converted, and aeroplane construction plants. Although the Government prates about its defence policy it has not done anything in the matter of aeroplane construction in Australia, and one has only to refer to the reports submitted from time to time by experts to realize its inactivity in providing for the adequate defence of Australia. The Prime Minister has made certain declarations, and although he, the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page), the Minister for Defence (Sir Neville Howse), the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Littleton Groom) and other members of the Government have endeavoured to debate this issue they have not answered the charges made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) and the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony). .The Prime -Minister, on page “1707 of Hansard of 27th June last year, said -
The plans have’ only been finished within the last month or two …. When in Great Britain I examined the arguments respecting capital ships very closely, and on that subject obtained a good deal of information…..
I wish honorable members to follow closely the reference to “ information,” as it is upon that point that my argument is based. The right honorable gentleman’s statement continues on page 1709 -
The C03t of building one cruiser in Great Britain will he somewhere between £1,900,000 and £2,000,000. Unfortunately I cannot at the present moment say exactly what the cost of building a cruiser of this class in Australia would be. . . .
He had not then made up his mind. He continued -
All I can tell honorable members is that the first cruiser is to be built in Great Britain. . . It will probably take two years to build it. . . . All the investigations made to date disclose the fact that the cost of building one of these cruisers in Australia could not be under £3,000,000. . . . The Government is very anxious that at least one cruiser should ‘be built in Australia. Many reasons for this must be immediately obvious to any one. One is that the Government would naturally be desirous of promoting industry in Australia. Another is that unless it is to come about that defence will not be required we shall in future years have to make provision for the construction of further units of the Australian Navy. . . . Apart from this wo have the fact that from time to time we shall inevitably require to repair our ships. We shall not bc in a position to dp that until we have actually built in the Commonwealth ships of the class we require.
The whole trend of the mind of the Prime Minister, if one can accept English as spoken by the right honorable gentleman, was that in order to repair ships and add units to our defence system ib is necessary to have skilled artisans and mechanics doing that type of work in Australia. Continuing his speech, as reported on page 1710, the Prime Minister said -
Upon this measure the House must come to a decision regarding the first cruiser, but no decision will be arrived at in regard to the second cruiser until the whole of the facts and the circumstances have been again placed before the House, and the House has had an opportunity of expressing its views upon them ….
I draw special attention to the words, “ Until the whole of the facts, and the circumstances are placed before this House.” What are the facts and the circumstances? What is the information necessary before this House can come to a decision ? It was impossible to obtain the facts in Australia; it was impossible to obtain the information prior to the House rising. The facts and the information were not available to the members of this House and to the people of Australia until March of this year. It was not until the tenders were available and until we knew what the cruisers were to cost that we had the information mentioned by the Prime Minister on page 1710. It is useless for the Prime Minister, the Treasurer, the Minister for Defence, and the Attorney-General to assert that we had the information necessary in order to arrive at a decision prior to the tenders being accepted. Most of the discussion on this subject occurred between July aud September of last year. We had not the information, and could not possibly give the matter intelligent consideration until such time as tenders were available, which was net until this year. The attitude of the Prime Minister is definitely shown in further extracts from speeches made by him on the 30th July. He then said - .
A cruiser could be built in Groat Britain for £1,900,000, and the period required for its construction would be approximately two years. That statement was based upon information given to me by the British Admiralty when I was in Great Britain . . . When in Great Britain, I was pressed by the British Government to consent to the building of a cruiser there. Unemployment was so acute in that country then that the Government was anxious to do all that was possible to relieve it.
From that statement it appears that the request of the British Government to the Prime Minister had some weight; at least, it so impressed him that, when the opportunity occurred, he mentioned it to honorable members. The charge made in the censure motion is a protest against that anti-Australian attitude. If there is unemployment in any country, it is the duty of the Government of that country to relieve it. If Mr. Bruce was so impressed with the necessity for employing people in Great Britain, one might reasonably ask that he should devote a little attention to the problem of unemployment in Australia. But he has not done so. I believe that many members of his party are, . on this matter, supporting him with reluctance. Just as he committed a flagrant breach of faith to the House, so he grossly betrayed several members of his party by sidetracking and double-crossing them. When the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) interjected, during a speech by the honorable member for Darwin (Mr. Whitsitt), that one cruiser would be built in Australia, the Prime Minister remained silent. He did not contradict the honorable member for Fawkner, and neither did the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Littleton Groom), nor any other member of the Government. The honorable member for Fawkner had apparently been informed that one cruiser would be built in Australia. The people of Australia, and every member of this House thought so, and the Prime Minister assured us that it would be so. Tenders were called in England last year for the building of five 10,000-ton motor ships, and because the Deutche Werft Shipbuilding Company, which has a very fine British-sounding name, quoted £50,000 less than British shipbuilding firms, the order was sent to Germany. Notwithstanding the grave unemployment in the Clyde shipbuilding yards, and in other shipbuilding centres in England, the work was sent to Germany by a British firm because the German tender was £50,000 lower. While British shipping companies, which have some responsibility to the unemployed and the people of Great Britain, are sending orders for ships to Germany, the Commonwealth Government, notwithstanding unemployment in this country, is sending orders to Great Britain to provide for the unemployed of that country work that should be provided by British ship-owners. It is only by Great Britain adopting a policy of placing her orders at home, and by the Commonwealth doing the same, that these countries can develop their industries; but if we are to have the anti-Australian attitude of the Prime Minister, and the anti-British attitude of the British shipping companies, we shall not be able to travel far along the road to prosperity. The right honorable gentleman, in the same speech, said -
The question of where the second cruiser shall be built will be submitted for the determination of this House when the general de- fence policy is put before it. In arriving at a decision on that question it is essential that the House shall be able to gauge exactly what it would cost to build one of the vessels in Great Britain, and what it would cost to build one here.
That comes back to, the question of supplying information about the cost, for we could not possibly determine, the cost until the tenders had been received, and they were not received until March of this year. I do not know that the Prime Minister, even at that stage, did not intend to place the orders for the cruisers overseas, irrespective -of what the House might think or do. I say that because further stalling took place. In his desire that the House should have full and complete information, he appointed Sir John Monash to act as chairman of a conference between the Commonwealth Shipping Board and the Naval Board to determine the cost of building a cruiser in Australia. On the 5th September, he gave the House some information regarding the report of Sir John Monash, who stated definitely that it was impossible to make a reliable computation of the cost of building a cruiser in Australia. Even then, the Prime Minister had apparently determined that the two cruisers should be built overseas, for he said -
The Government, therefore, decided to call for tenders. After the tenders have been received the Government will take whatever course it considers best in the interests of Australia.
If his previous declarations are to be accepted as bona fide, and his subsequent statements as true, he had in his mind the construction of only one cruiser overseas, foi- he proceeded to say -
The Government is unanimous in its desire that one of the cruisers’ should be Built in Australia.
If this kind of unanimity to develop Australia is to be persisted in by the Government, God help Australia, for it seems that the more unanimous the Government becomes in its desire to help this country, the worse it is for the country. Then we come to his last declaration, which, like his previous ones, leaves no doubt of its meaning. In reply to the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony), on the 5th September, 1924, he said-
I most certainly give the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) my assurance that the fullest opportunity will be given to the
House to discuss the question of where the second cruiser shall be built. When the Defence Equipment Bill was being considered,- 1 gave the undertaking that the Government would not take any action in regard to the second cruiser until the House had had a further opportunity to discuss the matter.
Taking into consideration the previous declarations that the matter could not be discussed and determined until further information relating to costs was available, that statement could mean only one thing - that after tenders had been called and received, this House would decide where the Second cruiser should be built. The construction of a cruiser in Australia, according to the Government’s declaration, would cost the people of Australia £800,000 more than it would to have it constructed in Great Britain. It might, or might not. Let us follow that line of argument to its logical conclusion. If we wanted to have the vessels built in the cheapest market’ we could have had it done for very much less in other countries than in Great Britain. It is possible to have these cruisers built in Germany, America, Japan, and some other countries far cheaper than in Great Britain. If cheapness is not the sole aim, there must be the desire to help the shipbuilding industry of Great Britain. I think that loyalty can be strained too far, and, if that has been the guiding motive, it is being strained too far in this matter. I maintain, and I have maintained ever since I could articulate a thought, that the duty of every member of Parliament in Australia is, first and foremost, loyalty to Australia. I am not one of those who advocate a spread-eagled imperialism. I believe that if it did not pay Great Britain to stand behind Australia it would not stand behind her. I am of the opinion that the component parts of the British Empire have amply repaid Great Britain for anything that she has done for them. We can help Great Britain to a far greater extent by having our work carried out in Australia than by giving British firms work which will keep their men employed for only a little while. It is far better to develop here in Australia a selfcontained self-reliant nation which ultimately will become the greater Britain ; when, instead of the fount of the Empire being in Britain, it will be in Australia. One would not be optimistic if one said that there was a possibility of that occurring within the next 100 years.
Even if it did cost £800,000 more to have the cruisers built in Australia, would not the training of our mechanics and artisans make it worth while? We can get our hats, our clothing, our boots, and everything else that is manufactured in Australia, much more cheaply outside Australia. If we intend to build up Australian industries we must make an early start. Shipbuilding is one of the main industries which should be established in Australia. We have not the slightest hope of competing with industries that pay the wages and observe the conditions ihat are the rule in Great Britain and other countries. Our wages and conditions are unparalleled in the history of civilization. Our workmen are engaged for only 44, 45, 46, 47 or 48 hours a week. We have stipulated that they shall have certain living conditions. There are awards that fix the wages that shall be paid to workmen when they are employed, so that they may educate, clothe, feed and maintain their families in comfort. We cannot maintain that very high standard of living if we send overseas work of this nature. The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin), only a little while ago in this House, disclosed a scandal in the Taxation Department. Fewer than half a dozen private land-holders in Australia owe, in taxation, a greater amount than it is claimed will be saved by having these cruisers constructed in Great Britain. Under the blessing and the patronage of this Government they have been enabled to avoid the payment of that taxation. The action of the Government in. that matter differs greatly from its attitude in regard to the construction of the cruisers there is not in that case the desire on its part to benefit the taxpayers to the extent of £800,000. One charge against the Government is that it is anti- Australian. The taking of a vote in this chamber to-day will not determine whether the Government has been guilty of the charges that have been made against it. There is a jury outside this chamber that will determine that matter. The electors will, no doubt, be well seised of all the facts when honorable members go to the country. The evidence that has been adduced by honorable members on this side, and the attempted defence of four Ministers and several honorable members opposite, will be before the people, and by their decision the Labour party is quite content to abide.
.- Like other honorable members, I find it rather difficult to decide what attitude I should adopt in speaking to this motion of censure. The matter has been discussed from every conceivable angle. I have listened with a great deal of interest to many honorable members who have spoken. The remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton), when launching his motion, led me to believe that he had a fairly good case. His quotations of passages from Hansard, and of figures that he had collected, made it appear that the Government had done a wrong act. But every question has two sides. The right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) laid before the House the whole of the facts of the case, and showed that only 15 per cent, of the material used in these cruisers could be obtained in Australia. The balance, such as armour plates and mechanical instruments, would have to be brought from England. Having heard those facts stated, and listened to the recommendation of that great authority, Sir John Monash, I came to the conclusion that the Government was quite, justified in placing the order for the second cruiser in Great Britain. I also heard the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) quote statistics showing the manner in which the British Government had helped the British shipbuilder. Great Britain is the greatest shipbuilding country in the world. Australia, on the other hand, is not a shipbuilding country at all, and, therefore, the statistics presented by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) cannot be accepted as applicable to Australia. I desire to consider for a while the tenders received for the construction of the cruisers, and see exactly where Australia would have stood if it had been decided to build them here. Three prices were obtained for the building of the vessels in Australia. I notice that the British tender for the construction of the ships in the Old Country was £2,078,522, and for the construction in Australia £3,238,694, making a difference in favour of construction in Great Britain of £1,160,172. The honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) said that the vast difference in the figures was due to the high wages paid in Australia. To a great extent, that is so, but owing to the industrial conditions prevailing in this country a tenderer would be obliged to add 5 per cent, to his estimated price to guard him against strikes, job control, and similar labour troubles, from which contractors are never free. Tenderers are always exposed to the risk of being drawn into the Arbitration Court to contest claims for higher wages or shorter hours of work. The Walsh Island price of £3,137,458 was not a tender at all ; it was only an approximate estimate. Therefore, it was unreliable, and should have been rejected by any government. There was no date specified for the delivery of the ships, and the period required for the completion of the work was approximate. The New South Wales Government knew exactly the uncertainty of the Australian labour conditions, and it was not prepared to submit any tender which bound it to a certain price, knowing that if there * were any loss over the contract the taxpayers of New South Wales would have to bear it. Now, take the lowest tender received in Australia, that of the Cockatoo Island Dockyard, which is controlled by the Commonwealth Shipping Board. The amount was £2,879,920, but even that was not a proper tender; it was merely an approximate estimate. It was furnished by the Commonwealth Shipping Board, and I believe it would have been illegal as a tender. The members, of the Commonwealth Shipping Board are simply the paid servants of the Commonwealth Government, and if the Board had received the contract it would have been tantamount to the Commonwealth Government submitting a tender to itself for the building of the cruisers. In such circumstances the Government would possibly have been placed in the position of having to resign from office, because, if the Board had been unable to complete the work at the estimated cost, the taxpayers would have had to make up the loss. The Government did right, therefore, and acted in the interests of the Commonwealth, in sending the orders Home. Some time ago I heard it said that the Commonwealth Government had an electrical machine at the Cockatoo Island Dockyard for cutting out ships’ port-holes. Formerly two men were occupied for a whole day in cutting out one port-hole, but with the electrical appliance the work could be accomplished in an hour. After the machine had’ been, in operation for two or three days a representative of the union instructed the workmen to refrain from using it, the result being that the appliance was thrown idle. How is it possible for industries to be carried on in Australia when such tactics are adopted by labour organizations? If Australia is to become a shipbuilding nation, those conditions will have to be changed. Either the cost of production must be lowered or production must be greatly increased. Members of the Labour party profess to be very much concerned about the employment which would have been provided had it been decided to construct the cruisers in Australia. I point out, however, that since the policy of the party opposite is to build no cruisers at all, the unemployment difficulty would not disappear, even if Labour were in office. A great change in our industrial life must be effected if Australia is ever to become a nation of shipbuilders or manufacturers. In my opinion the Government has acted in the best interests of the “country in sending the orders for the cruisers to Great Britain.
.- My remarks will be very brief, as the case for the Labour “party has already been ably put by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton), and the honorable members for Dalley (Mr. Mahony), Darling (Mr. Blakeley), South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley), Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton), East Sydney (Mr. West), Newcastle (Mr. Watkins), Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini), Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin), and Adelaide (Mr. Yates). I cannot very well be accused of tedious reiteration if I refer to a point which was made by the honorable member for Dalley, and which still remains unanswered by the Government. Mr. Mahony asked, “ Why was a comparison made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) between the lowest English tender, which was not accepted, and the Australian or Cockatoo Island Dockyard tender, and why did the Prime Minister mislead the people of the Commonwealth by stating that the difference between the British tender and the Australian price was 68 per cent., when on his own figures the difference was only 43 per cent.?” The honorable member for Dalley pointed out that from the lowest British tender which was quoted by the Prime Minister, and upon which he based his statement that the additional cost of the Australian tender was 68 per cent., was omitted an amount of £50,000 for bringing the vessel out, and that had the figures been accurately stated the difference would have been only 43 per cent. The accepted tender was for one vessel at a cost of £2,078,522. If £50,000- the cost of bringing the vessel out - were added to that figure, and £70,000 for spare parts which the Prime Minister subsequently admitted were necessary, the difference between the British and Australian tenders would be only £731,398, representing approximately 34 per cent. Actually, therefore, the correct comparison between the respective costs is not 68 per cent., as the Prime Minister declared, but rather 34 per cent. I make that explanation more particularly because the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) last evening attempted to refute the assertion which I. made yesterday by way of interjection during the debate. It is also well to remember that in regard to the Cockatoo Island Dockyard tender, the Commonwealth Shipping Board was forced to add to its estimate 5 per cent, for profit, 5 per cent, for interest on debentures, and 28 per cent, for overhead charges, all of which, of course, contributed to the difference in the Australian tender. The honorable member for Dalley clearly pointed out that in comparison with the unfair handicap imposed upon the Commonwealth Shipping Board in submitting its tender, the British shipbuilding authorities received, under the Trade Facilities Act, substantial loans from the British Government, and were assisted in many other directions. It has been clearly explained to the House, too, that many British shipbuilding yards are working practically without profit, and in some instances at a loss. They are carrying on operations so as not to interfere with the personnel of their shipyard staffs. When a comparison is made with the Government’s attitude towards other industries, it is found that we are already cheerfully paying £25,000,000 per annum for their protection. Yet the Government objects to expend an additional amount of £800,000 on cruiser construction in Australia. The honorable member for Dalley stated yesterday that the people of Australia are quite prepared to carry the burden imposed upon them, because they desire to develop secondary industries to the fullest extent. Unfortunately this Government is prepared to sacrifice everything to cheapness, upon which, coming down to fundamental principles, are based its sentiment and its conception of patriotism and national honour. I give a definite and complete denial to the statement made repeatedly from the Government benches that the Labour party has no defence policy. Government supporters who have made use of the. statement know in their hearts that it is quite untrue. The Labour party has always stood for a defence policy, and only recently made a definite declaration in favour of adequate provision of above-water craft, submarines, and aircraft. That policy has been incorporated in the platform of the Labour movement. The Labour party last year certainly opposed the construction of cruisers, not on the ground as stated by the honorable members opposite that we were opposed to the adequate defence of Australia, but because at that time the League of Nations was about to meet to consider certain disarmament proposals. President Coolidge had at that time proposed a further Washington disarmament conference, and in the face of all the factors that were then working for worldpeace, this party viewed as a shortsighted act the construction, at that stage, of cruisers which might subsequently be declared unnecessary and outside the scope of a disarmament treaty. There was certainly a possibility of further disarmament at the time we opposed the construction of the cruisers. Our view on that occasion was that our first line of defence should be economic preparedness for war; that is, the development of the steel and allied engineering industries. Further, we were prepared to rely upon aircraft, submarines, and coastal fortifications as the most essential means of safeguarding this community. Government supporters have referred to the change in our defence policy. Certainly we have changed. Our party has progressed with the passage of time. Our policy today is adapted to the general spirit that is characteristic of modern civilization. There is a world-wide trend in the direction of disarmament and peace. The world, racked, torn and wearied after ifr. - Coleman. the awful holocaust of the last war, is seeking for relief from the tremendous burden of armaments, and we are not ashamed to strive for peace to relieve this country and other parts of the Empire from the crushing burden of armaments. The British Government is at present spending £122,000,000 per annum upon naval and military armaments. This is a heavy tax upon the British community. The work of the recent British Labour Government was calculated to. reduce this burden, but the altered foreign policy of Great Britain under the present Baldwin administration is now calculated to accentuate the mad race for armaments. We find the British Government negotiating a secret treaty known as a security pact, which is likely to create further international alliances between European powers, and, perhaps, lead to even a worse war than the last. However, the Labour party has adapted itself to the present defence needs of Australia. Many of the honorable members on the other side lack political imagination and prevision. They are merely the campfollowers of the Labour party, picking up our discarded policies, just as a hungry dog seizes a bone. Years ago, when we proposed to meet the defence needs of Australia, our friends opposite at that time were most bitter in their condemnation and criticism of our policy. The same kind of thing is happening to-day. They are opposed to us because we are promulgating views that are in harmony with the prevailing sentiment of the people of Australia. They offer no inspiration to the people, and so are limited to fulminations against us. They have declared that we are a nondescript party, and that we do not represent the people of Australia. May I remind them that Labour is in power in five states in the Commonwealth, and that it is morally in power in Victoria? It would be in power actually were it not for the present distribution of the electorates. Our declarations during this debate are justified by the belief that a substantial majority of the people are behind us. After what has occurred in regard to these cruisers, and in consequence of the uninspiring leadership that this Government has had to rely upon, and the uninspiring policy that it has propounded, there is no doubt whatever that at the next election the people will give a verdict in favour of the Labour party. Let honorable members contrast for a moment the confusion of tongues that has characterized the utterances of honorable members on the Government benches during this debate. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) and the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) both drearily re-affirmed their threadbare, worn-out doctrine of. freetrade and cried “ stinking fish.” . The honorable member for Forrest reflected gravely on the efficiency and capacity of our Australian workmen, and inferred that they are dishonest in their methods. On the’ other hand, the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. D. Cameron^ and the honorable member for Lang (Sir Elliot Johnson) declared that they were in favour of building a cruiser in Australia, though they qualified their statement by many “buts.” They were favorable to constructing cruisers here, “ but, so and so, and so and so.” The real qualification that they should have stated was that in order to save the Government from defeat ‘ on this occasion they have been forced to support its anti-Australian policy. If a free vote were taken in this House to-morrow there is no doubt that the construction of one cruiser in Australia would be agreed to. The only refreshing speech delivered from the Government benches on the question before the House came from the exPrime Minister, the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. W. M. Hughes), last week. Although we on this side of the House cannot agree with his politics or with the role that he has taken unto himself, we nevertheless recognize that he is an astute psychologist who understands the prevailing sentiment of the people of Australia, and is trying to prevent the Government from marching to their inevitable Sedan. His attitude on this subject is dictated, not only by his convictions, but also by his realization of its importance in the minds of the electors.
– What about the honorable’ member for Parkes (Mr. Marr) ?
– That honorable member is as gloomy as an unemployed undertaker. Prior to his appointment to the Cabinet he was a perfervid advocate of the policy of encouraging Australian industry, and I am surprised that he has remained silent during this debate. I hope that we shall even yet have from him some explanation of his changed attitude.
– It will be some more “buts.” Tell us something about the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lister).
– The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) once described the honorable member for Corio as looking about as happy as a pig in a synagogue. That characterizes his attitude during this debate. He has been sitting most uneasily in his seat, and I hope that he also, will decide to make some definite declaration on this subject.
– I suggest that the honorable member for Reid get back to the question before the Chair.
– I was alluding, sir, to the attitude of the honorable member for Corio on the building of these cruisers. I have very little more to say. The Nationalist press of the Commonwealth is revolting against the anti-Australian policy which the Government has adopted on this matter. In the leading article in the Sydney Sun of the 16th June the following remarks were made : -
If anybody had much doubt before the recent election that the “National” party was dead, those doubts should now be removed. “ Nationalism,” rightly or wrongly, has become associated with York-street.
May I say that it has also become associated with Flinders-lane. The article continues’ - .
Labour, on the other hand, presented a definite programme, some of it rather cloudy, but some of it intensely practical. “ Nationalism “ showed a tendency to concentrate on the grand old flag.
– Order !
– In deference to you, sir, I will not read any further from the article. The Nationalists have relied more or less upon lip-service. When it came to giving evidence of practical loyalty in regard to Australian defence they signally failed. Our party believes that the three qualities which are necessary to national greatness are virility, initiative, and selfreliance. These are totally lacking in this Government. When the next election comes round the people of Australia will indicate to the Government in a decisive way that it is totally out of touch with the prevailing opinion of Australia, and it will be ignominiously defeated.
.- I should like to explain my position on this most delicate and difficult question. First of all, Mr. Speaker, I should like to take you somewhat into my confidence. I cannot read a speech to the House. I tried to do so once and completely failed. It is very difficult for me to keep exactly to the question before the Chair. My experience is something like this: When a rather weighty matter has to be discussed by me it generally takes me a few weeks to collect and collate my ideas. It then takes me another few weeks to decide whether they are any good. When I am satisfied that they are just what I mean - that they fill the bill, so to speak, and axe good, honest, wholesome and sound - it takes me a few more weeks to determine the best way to express them. Then usually when I get up to express them I either forget them or cannot remember them.
– That is just what the Government does.
– You will understand therefore, sir, that in discussing this matter I have to depend wholly on memory and luck, and as you know, they are both very fickle jades. I should get on a little better than usual with this cruiser business because so many points of view have been expressed. I am sure that I know what I think, and I think that I know what I know; and if I can manage to so express myself that others also will know what I think I know, everything will be all right. All that, however, is by way of introduction, and if you, Mr. Speaker, find me getting out to sea, you will know that I am really on an exploring expedition after some of my vagrant ideas. I crave your indulgence on that account. I promise that not one word shall fall from my lips that will be capable of the construction that it is a reflection on any honorable member, or any person outside this chamber. At one time I was somewhat abusive. It was as easy as catching rabbits in South Australia to abuse other people, and become recriminatory, but I afterwards found that it became nauseating, and I have, therefore, discontinued the practice.. The gravamen of the charge of the Leader of the Opposition is that the right honorable the Prime Minister failed to fulfil his definite promise in connexion with the building of the second cruiser. The Leader of the Opposition was guilty of coquetry when he stated that he wantedthe cruiser built in Australia, in that he had already determined that, if he had his way, it should not be built at all. Personally, 1 was clearly of the opinion that Parliament was to be consulted as to where the cruiser was to be built. I do not know exactly on what the idea was based, but somehow it formed itself in my mind. The Leader of the Opposition buttressed his remarks by quotations from Hansard of the speech of the Prime Minister, and when he had concluded his speech I felt that he had proved conclusively that the right honorable gentleman did say that Parliament would be consulted before a tender for the second cruiser was accepted, and, practically, that we should decide where the vessel should be built. The Prime Minister read from the same speech, but he placed an entirely different construction on his words, and proved his case as conclusively as the Leader of the Opposition proved his. I have read all that has been said by the Leader of the Opposition, the Prime Minister, and also the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony), regarding these cruisers. If I may so express myself. I have read it backwards, forwards, upside down, and every other possible way. Having done so, I have come to the conclusion that one can make the Prime Minister’s speech mean what one likes. I do not know now whether the Prime Minister made a promise or not. If I were in the position of the Leader of the Opposition, and the leader of a party machine, I should probably honestly believe that the Prime Minister did make the promise attributed to him; but if I were the Leader of the Government, and anxious to outmanoeuvre the Leader of the Opposition - I do not use the term offensively - I should probably state that my remarks meant nothing of the sort.
– What does the honorable member think about it? That is what we want to know.
– I believe that if I wanted to prove that the Prime Minister did make a definite promise I could do so, and that just as effectively I could prove that he did not. On the foundation laid by the Leader of the Opposition, a wonderful superstructure has been built.
Honorable members of the Opposition have said that not only did the Prime Minister make the promise, but that when he made it he did not intend to keep it. They have accused him of deliberately betraying the interests of Australia, and of being utterly regardless of whether employment is to be found for Australian workmen, or Australian industries encouraged or allowed to go to pieces. While I do not think that that can rightly be said of the Prime Minister, I regret, with other honorable members, that Parliament was not given the opportunity to decide where the second cruiser should be built. I think that that opportunity should have been afforded us, as I hold the view that big questions of this nature should be decided by the whole House, and without party bias. While I hold that view, I do not believe that either the Prime Minister or the Leader of the Opposition would knowingly and willingly act detrimentally to the best interests of Australia. I remember my father telling me, when I was a boy, that he had noticed that I had a rather nasty habit of dodging the issue. He told me that I always adopted the line of least resistance, and did not at all times stick to the strict truth. You will observe, Mr. Speaker, that even at that time I was a politician in embryo. My father then admonished me, saying that he desired that I should always say exactly what I believed, do what was right, and dare to be true. In connexion with the matter before the House I have been wondering what my father would say if he were here to-day. That is, because there appear to be two sorts of right. There is an ethical right, and also a tactical right.
– Our attitude is ethically right.
– I repeat that I am making no reflection on any one. Although the ethical right and the tactical right may at first appear to be as wide apart as the poles, later on they sometimes seem to harmonize and become as one. I am not saying that that has happened on this occasion. When a party leader has to come to a decision on some important issue he first approaches it from the point of view of what is best for the country. Then he must consider what is best for the party. I blame no one for viewing a matter from the point of view of party, as, were I a member of a political party, I also should have to consider the party aspect. It is here that the ethical right and the tactical right merge. It is obvious that frequently the interests of the country are not synonymous with the interests of the party. In that case the leader of the party may argue - and with reason - that if he does, what is right for the country, his party may be defeated, in which case the villains composing the opposite party would assume office, and probably ruin the country. Many men, because of party interests, have had to do what they would never have done had they been free to do what they thought best for the country. This consideration may have influenced some members to some extent in dealingwith this matter. So far as the actual contract for the cruisers is concerned, I had a brain wave or a premonition concerning it, and I decided to investigate the whole matter for myself. I am an orphan in politics, and I have to find out everything for myself in order to determine what I ought to do. I am not an engineer, and I know little about a. ship except that if I am on board one and the sea is rough I get seasick. I have been as honest as I could be in the matter, but I do not claim to be any more honest than a party man. I have a number of friends who have been interested for many years in shipbuilding. There is one who has held an important position in naval shipbuilding yards in England and also in America. He is not interested in shipbuilding here, but he still has a good deal to do with ships. I went to him and said, “ I know that you are not personally interested in the matter. Will you tell me where these ships should be built?” He said, “In Australia.” L replied, “ Do they not say that it would take so long to build the cruisers here that they would be obsolete before they were finished ? “ He said, “ I do not know so much about that.” I said, “ You are employing at the present time a number of Australian workmen. You have controlled thousands of British and American workmen. I want you to tell me honestly who are the best workmen.” He said, “ The Australians. The Australian workman is the best workman I have had under mc, and I have some of them under me now.” I said, “ We have been told that they loaf on the job,, and have not the initiative of engineers in Great Britain.” He replied, “ If I had a contract to undertake and had the option to employ American, English or Australian workmen I should take Australian workmen every time.” He further said, “ Of course, there is a difficulty .creeping in now. There is too much political influence at work and too much interference with the men. But let me alone with Australian workmen and let us co-operate and there is not their equal in the world. Then I asked him how he could account for the long time it took to build the Adelaide, and he said that I had better find that out for myself, because he knew only what he had heard about it. I did so. I went to the Cockatoo Island Dockyard with an air of authority. I might have been arrested and perhaps I should have been. I got all the information I could there. I visited other places in a “ don’t-care-a-hang “ way to obtain information. In some places I crept around like a detective to get all the information I could. I told the manager of the Cockatoo Island Dockyard that I could not blame the Government for not giving him the contract to build the cruisers, because, in view of the time it took them to build the Adelaide it would take them about twenty years to build the cruisers. He gave me his version of the matter, but it would not be fair to say what it was. I verified all he said from the statements of men upon whom I could depend. I was informed that the reason for the delay in the construction of the Adelaide was not because the workmen had loafed on the job. There were a good many reasons for the delay. One was that the Naval Board was not altogether fail’, and on occasion the construction of the ship was hung up when it should not have been, and the time unfairly added to that spent in the construction of the vessel. I said to one man. I knew, “ The Ferndale cost about £700,000 to build, and you were at it year after year ; how do you account for that ? “ He said, “ In the first place, the hull of the Ferndale was built in record time.” I had that statement proved, as far as I could, from an inspection of time sheets. My friend said, “ After the
Mr. Watson. hull was built we were told to suspend operations, and they were suspended for six months by order of the board, while it determined whether or not some passenger accommodation should be provided in the ship.” I say that it is not fair to malign Australian workmen by attributing to them the whole of the blame for the time it took to build these ships. With reference to the cost of the Ferndale, I went to a man who had been building ships in America for the United States Government at the time. I said to him, “ Can you tell me why it cost so much to build the Ferndale ?” He said, “Come up the river with me,” and I did so. He pointed out a ship which he said was practically a replica of the Ferndale, and of the same tonnage, and he told me, “I built that ship in America at about the same time as they were building the Ferndale in Sydney, and she cost more per ton to build than the Ferndale cost, because everything was at peak prices.” He said she cost so much to build, and before she was completed she was not worth a fifth of that money, and in comparison the Ferndale did not cost as much to build in Australia. Many factors have to be taken into consideration. There is a pulling of different ways by employer and employee, and a great deal is due to the fact that the employer is not always fair to the workman, whilst there are too many people trying to influence the workmen to secure their votes. I am not now talking of men who are members of this House, but of men who want to get into it. With regard to the time it would take to build a cruiser I went again to the Cockatoo Island Dockyard for information. I said, “ In what time did you undertake to build a cruiser ? “ I was told that the time asked for was two and half years, or 30 months. How long has John Brown been given? I understand that he has been given 36 months. With regard to the statement that by giving the order here we should only be assembling parts of the vessel, there is no doubt a good deal of truth in that. But the same thing may be said with respect to John Brown’s shipyards. I know a man who was a foreman in John Brown’s yard, and who is now in Australia. I said to him, “ What would be the good of letting a contract for the building of a cruiser in Australia when it would mean only the assembling of parts brought from overseas V He replied, “ Do you know that they have more up-to-date machinery at Cockatoo Dock than John Brown has in his yards ? He would have to buy as many, if not more, parts than would have to be purchased by the Cockatoo Dockyard.” I said, “ We cannot roll our plates.” And he said, “ Neither can John Brown roll his.” I trust that the Government has been careful enough to stipulate that any plates or other materials which John Brown buys must be bought in Great Britain. I do not desire that our boys should be fighting in ships constructed of material supplied by an ex-enemy.
– That is what will happen.
– I do not think so; I do not suggest it for a moment. If it were so, it would be a great reflection upon Australia. I now come to consider the. question of cost. I am not a shipbuilder, but I have engaged a little in commerce, and I know something about economics. I wished to know why it would cost £800,000 more to build a cruiser in Australia than in England. Again I found that many factors had to be considered to account for the increase in cost of construction in Australia. One factor is that we have a higher standard of living here. Thank God for that. I know that no honorable- member on the Government side objects on that account, not even the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse). Another factor would be that we should have to bring parts from overseas, and it would, of course, cost more to bring out a vessel in sections than to bring it out complete. A third factor is that we could not- expect continuity of operations or mass production, and this would, of course, increase construction costs here. Then many essential parts of these vessels are the subject of patents. In Great Britain they are supplied from the patentee to the shipbuilding yards. The man who holds the patent sends his own men to install his patented parts, and he is responsible for their successful operation. Shipbuilders in Australia would be at a disadvantage, because they would have to get the parts out from the Old Country, install them themselves, and be responsible for their operation. There can be no doubt that it would cost more to construct cruisers here than to build them in Great Britain. I do not wish to weary the House with these matters. I have told honorable members what I thought I should tell them. When my inquiries were concluded I faced other considerations. It is suggested that politically, so far as I am concerned, it would be totally against my interests to advocate the building of cruisers in Sydney. That is a miserable kind of thing to say, but such things are said by parochial people who put first their own little interests, and not the interests of Australia. The interest of one in Australia should be the interests of all. I said. to myself, “If you to-day had to build a commercial trading ship, and it was going to cost you so much more to have it built in Australia rather than in Great Britain, where would you have it built”? I said, “I would have it built at Home.” Honestly I would have it built where I could get it cheapest, because in competition with others’ I could not trade with an over-capitalized ship. Then I said to myself, “ If you governed and controlled Australia, and you had to build cruisers, where would you build them?” And I said that I would build them in Australia every time. There is no sentiment about the building of a ship for use in commerce, but national sentiment does enter into the building of cruisers. That is the conclusion I have come to, and I stand by it. If I owned Australia and had to build these cruisers, I would have them built in Australia. It is wrong to say that sentiment does not enter into matters of this sort. It was sentiment that inspired our boys to leave our shores and fight overseas, and enabled them to stand up in the face of death and rush into a veritable hell. If there is no sentiment in these matters, why did the Government sink the Australia, whose intrinsic value was infinitely greater than the loss that would be incurred by building these cruisers in Australia ? The Australia was sunk because of sentiment, and if only for the sake of sentiment it would have paid the Government to spend a few millions more to have these cruisers built in Australia. We must not lose eight of the fact that we never know the day when we may be left to our own resources to defend ourselves. We must be ready for such a day. We must have our works established. If an enemy’ attacked us at the present moment, what- could we do ? We have neither- sufficient mechanics nor skilled workmen, and we shall never have them unless we have a shipbuilding programme. It is said that there ia no relation between the building of a cruiser and the building of a merchant ship, but the mill thai, would roll the plates for the cruiser would roll the plates for the merchant ship; and the engineers who would rivet the plates of the cruiser would rivet the plates of the merchant ship. Therefore, the two, although not wholly alike, are very closely allied. I contend that it would have paid Australia over and over again to let the contracts for the building . of these cruisers here, if for no other purpose than to establish the shipbuilding on a firm basis. I find myself in a peculiar position. The Government has let these tenders abroad -without consulting me, and I think that is unfair. On the other hand, the Opposition has asked me to agree to a motion which stigmatizes honest men - 1. am positive they are honest - as scoundrels who would sink the interests of their country, and I do not believe that is true. Therefore I am at an absolute dead-end.
– I thought the honorable member would get out of it somehow.
– I have never tried to get out of anything. I do not know what manoeuvring has been going on, but it has manoeuvred me into this position : I want to do what is fair and best for Australia. So do we all. Allowing for party considerations, we are all anxious to do .what is fair and best for Australia. Honorable members and I differ iri this regard : They believe that by having two opposing forces in Parliament, one trying to out-manoeuvre the other, they are contributing to the welfare” of the Commonwealth, whereas I believe that the only way to help Australia is for us all to get together and try to find solutions for its troubles. Before these contracts were let, the leading members of the Opposition and the Government should have got together in cabinet, each putting forward their own view-points honestly and squarely, and coming to a decision which would have prevented us having the spectacle of one side of the House trying to belittle the other side. .
– Why was not Parliamentcalled together to decide the matter?
– I wish it had been. Do honorable members opposite wish me to believe that because the Prime Minister was, as they say, “ nurtured in wealth and cradled in luxury,” and because his chief occupation has been to spend money, he has no heart ? I do not believe it. I say that definitely, Mr. Speaker. This, Mr. Speaker, ie all in connexion with the cruisers.
– I hope it is.
– If I were down and out and did not know which way to turn, I do not know of any man to whom I would rather appeal for assistance than the Prime Minister, and if he did not give me a dinner I should be most disappointed, and would very likely remain hungry. Here is a most peculiar thing, Mr. Speaker, if you will allow me to say it.
– The honorable member knows that the House is not dealing with the personal characteristics of honorable members.
– I understand that the Prime Minister has been accused of heartlessness in letting these contracts abroad.
– I do not see that in the motion.
– Then I stand corrected. So far as I am concerned I believe the Government has been ill-advised. I do not blame it in the slighest degree. I believe it has endeavoured to act in the best interests of Australia. Nor do I blame the Opposition for moving this motion, because it is part of the game. Honorable members opposite are not to blame for the party system any more than I am. They seek to discredit and out-manoeuvre the Government. On the other hand, the Government is out to see that the Opposition does not succeed. That is about the position, and neither side is to blame. I believe that the cruisers should be built in Australia. If I vote with the Opposition, I shall agree to the terms of the censure motion implying that the Prime Minister and his colleagues are heartless people, who by sending work out of Australia would betray Australia’s interests. I do not believe that charge can be successfully made against the Government. On the other hand, if I vote with the Government it will mean that I agree with its decision to let the contract for the building of cruisers abroad, and in that, too, I do not believe.
– The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Watson), who has just resumed his seat, has given the best exhibition of tight-rope walking I have ever witnessed. If any one deserves the title of “ political blondin “ he has earned it to-day. I shall deal with a few of the statements made by the honorable member which I took down very carefully and will compare them with the conclusion at which he arrived in order to see if the title of “ political blondin “ is in any way an exaggeration of the position he occupies to-day. He started off by telling us that ‘some one once said to him in his youth that he was an expert at dodging the issue. That person must have known the honorable member very well. Persons who make such observations usually follow them up by an expression of hope that those whom they castigate will grow out of their bad habit; but, apparently, the honorable member for Fremantle has not grown out of it. In fact, he has become more expert at dodging the issue as he has grown older. The honorable member said that this House should have decided the issue.
– Hear, hear ! Every time.
– He said that this House should have been called together to decide it.
– Hear, hear !
– One would think that an honorable member who made such definite statements would have no doubt as to how he should vote, and would not reach a “ dead-end,” as he put it himself. The honorable member said that, because he was a political orphan, he went fossicking; for information. He said that he went to several of the shipbuilding yards to remove any doubt he might have had as to the capability of the Australian workman, and that he was told by persons who ought to know that the Australian workman was the best in the world. I was quite satisfied that there could be only one conclusion to all these statements, but honorable members were amazed to hear the honorable member declare that he was doubtful as to how he should cast his vote. Then the honorable member came to a very important point. He said that he had grave doubts as to whether any of the money would be spent in an ex-enemy country. The honorable member might have read a cablegram, published a few days ago in one of the newspapers, stating that at all events 75 per cent, of the money would be spent in- England. The other’ 25 per cent, is going to-
– Germany, for steel.
– No doubt the honorable member for Fremantle had grave doubts upon this point. He waxed eloquent upon the subject. He would have us believe that it was the one thing above all others that actuated him in coming to a decision upon the point. Yet when he has an opportunity to settle the matter, and vote in a way that will teach the Government a lesson and compel it to have all this work done in Australia, he will not avail himself of it. He sat down and left the subject without clearing it up. Evidently the doubt is still rankling in his mind, yet he declares that he does not know how to vote on this question.
– How does -the honorable member know how I am going to vote ?
– I am taking the line which the honorable member followed, step by step. He said that he was at a dead-end, and did not know how he should vote. I am trying to confront him with some of his own words, so that when the vote is taken he will be able to get away from his dead-end, and have no doubt in his mind. He told us, at the outset, that he sometimes forgets things, and does not know exactly what he thinks. I am hoping that in the end the honorable member will see that according to his own words there is no loophole of escape for him, and that unless he votes in a certain way some people in Fremantle will be asking him questions in six months’ time. After going the rounds, the honorable member said that he asked himself what he would do if he had his own way. He said that there was no doubt left in his mind - he would have the cruisers built in Australia.
– Every time.
– The honorable member voiced good Australian sentiments, and I believe he spoke with sincerity, but his expressions will be useless unless they are supported by a vote to censure this Government for having done those things which he said should not have been done. Watching the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) sitting before the Attorney-General to-day while the latter pleaded in his defence, I could not help likening him - in a strictly political sense - to a prisoner in the dock who said that he had intended to plead guilty until he heard his counsel defend him ! The AttorneyGeneral, with his legal mind, was able to make a fifty times better defence of the Prime Minister than the right honorable gentleman himself was able to do, but like every other honorable member on the Ministerial side, he balked at the promise that, before a decision was arrived at, the House would be given an, opportunity to discuss where the second cruiser should be built. He was right in saying that a definite vote took place on the Defence Estimates, but it had reference to two cruisers, and even the honorable member for Darwin (Mr.Whitsitt), who, I am sure, will be loyal to his previous statement, said that he would vote against the amendment moved by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) on the distinct understanding that the House would be afforded an opportunity to decide where the second cruiser would be constructed. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell), by interjection, made a similar statement.
– The honorable member for Fawkner has a conscience.
– He is absent from the chamber; perhaps he is looking for his conscience. But I shall be interested to observe how he votes in view of the interjection he made. The Prime Minister said it was perfectly obvious to any unbiased judge that the charges made by the honorable member for Dalley regarding a breach of faith on the part of the Government were unjustified, but he avoided the crucial fact that honorable members on both sides of the House understood that a further opportunity would be afforded to discuss the matter in the light of later and more complete information. In fact, the House could not reasonably come to a decision until it was able to compare Australian tenders with those from overseas. It is clear, therefore, that no decision should have been arrived at until comparative tenders were available for consideration by this House. There has been a good deal of talk about parties that abandon their former views. It is a common accusation against the Labour party that its views upon defence have changed because of the communistic elements in its ranks. That bogy was exploited to the utmost in the tecent elections in New South Wales.
Every capitalistic journal in that state displayed the communistic bogy, but when the election results were published, they disclosed that the leader of the communists had received only 300 votes.
– There is no reference to that subject in the motion.
– Statements regarding it were made by honorable members opposite.
– I did not hear them. In any case, the matter is irrelevant, and the discussion of it is not in order.
– I have said all that I desire to say on that point. In order to prove that honorable members on this side are not alone in disagreeing with the Government’s action in placing abroad the orders for the cruisers, I shall quote some of the comments by Australian newspapers. The Daily Guardian, of the 20th February, said -
In Australia, we cannot advance unless we try to advance. Only by doing great works can we fit ourselves to do them. Let us never forget that what we buy with this extra price is firm nationhood.
I hope honorable members opposite will take that remark to heart. The same journal said on the 26th March -
It is a set-back to Australian aspirations. The Commonwealth Government, with its bewildered Bruces, its parochial Pages, and its puritanic Prattens, gives the Australian manufacturer little or no security.
The Sydney Sun of the 26th March published this cable from London -
The Commonwealth contract is a real godsend to the Clyde unemployed, and is also welcomed as an offset to the British shippers’ placement of a large contract in Germany.
That statement should remove from the mind of the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Watson) any lingering doubt regarding the manner in which he should vote on this motion. On the 27th March, the Sun said -
A wider sweep of vision, a deeper insight into the thoughts and feelings and aspirations of the Australian people, would show the Government that Australia is not willing to rely for ever upon protection being afforded to her toy the people of Great Britain. Their’ self-respect and their national pride forbid it.
The Melbourne Herald of the 30th March, in an article headed, “Down with Secondary Industries,” said -
The flood gates of freetrado eloquence have been again unlocked. The same contentions are being advanced that were propaganda in the seventies of last century.
The Age, of the 2nd April, said -
Australia has to he saved from the narrowness and blindness of little catch-penny men who huckster like pawnbrokers about an illusory immediate saving, and imperil a priceless Australian future.
That was a very drastic condemnation of the actions of the Government, but it is in harmony with the consistent attitude of the Labour party. What we said in the beginning, we say now; our contention is as true to-day as it was then.
– Did the honorable member read the leading article in the Age to-day?
– Yes, and it is interesting to compare it with the statements the same journal made a few weeks ago: The difference between the press and the Labour party is that where, we stood then we stand now. I am not the representative of a metropolitan constituency, and it may be said that this matter does not vitally concern the people living in country districts. I do not know whether that view is accepted by honorable members of the Country party. The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) quoted as the excuse for his attitude a statement by the l’ight honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. W. M. Hughes) that he was firmly convinced that ‘ action would be taken by the Government during recess to place orders abroad for the construction of the cruisers. It has been suggested that the right honorable member for North Sydney had that fear because he knew the Ministers of whom he was speaking, and from experience he realized that their word of honour could not be depended upon. But what a flimsy justification for a vote by the honorable member for Gippsland that may mean the crushing of a great industry ! The honorable member should be able to make up his own mind, regardless of anything said by the right honorable member for North Sydney.
– I always do.
– The honorable member assured the House that he always wears apparel and uses petrol produced in. Australia. I suppose he does that because he knows that the Australian article is better than any he can obtain from abroad. But the same argument should apply to ships. The honorable member has in effect told the electors that Australians can produce as good clothes and petrol as people in other parts of the world, but they cannot build ships as well as they can be built in Britain. That is a reflection upon Australian workmen that should not be allowed to stand.
– I said nothing of the kind.
– If honorable members of the Country party think that their constituents in rural districts are not watching their attitude upon this matter they will discover when they meet them that they are sadly mistaken. I have always maintained that no section of the community is more vitally concerned in the building up of our secondary industries than are our primary producers. Their best market -is the home market, and the best policy for any country to adopt is to establish secondary industries, readily accessible to its primary producers.
– That is what the Treasurer said he would do.
– Yes. The Treasurer, on one occasion, said that as Australia produced the best wool in the world, woollen mills should be established throughout the Commonwealth for the manufacture of the raw product into the finished article. We all know what has happened. Woollen mills are closing down all over the Commonwealth. This crime against Australian industries and against Australian workmen is widespread. Do honorable members know that of the 1,589 looms installed in Australia, 603, or 40 per cent., are idle today ? The general policy of the Government seems to be to kill off our secondary industries, and, as a result, according to the Melbourne Herald the other day, in Victoria alone there are 10,000 workers out of employment. The same newspaper also stated that the number of unemployed was greater in New South Wales. The position of the shipbuilding industry is already bad, and it is extraordinary that an honorable member should stand up in this House and admit that although experts have told him that we can build ships as well in Australia as in any other country, he does not know whether his vote on the censure motion should be against the Government or not. The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) has just placed in my hands a telegram which he has received from the secretary of the Ironworkers Union in Sydney, informing him that another 30 men were dismissed from the Cockatoo Island Dockyard on Tuesday, through slackness of work. These men, I understand, were assistants to the mechanics, so we may assume that as many mechanics also have been thrown out of work.
– Probably more.
– It is likely that 60 or 70 men have been put off at the dockyard within the last few days.
– And notwithstanding what the Minister for the Navy says, 50 more men were put off at Garden Island last Friday night.
– This information is no surprise to honorable members on this side of the House, because we realize that it is the natural corollary of the policy of the Government. I rose to reply particularly to the remarks of the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Watson), and to see if I could not persuade him, even at this the eleventh hour, to realize the real significance of the present situation. I would not be a true representative of the primary producers if I did not speak my mind concerning the Government policy in this matter. The effect will be to impair, if not destroy, the best of all markets - the home market - for our primary producers. The more avenues that are made available to our producers the more prosperous they will become.
– (Hon. F. Bamford) . - Order ! The honorable member is departing from the question before the Chair.
– I was about to point out that the more men there are employed at Cockatoo Island Dockyard, the more consumers there will be for the products of our primary producers. Thousands of men would have been engaged on the construction of these cruisers had the contract been placed in Australia, and it would have put heart into the shipping industry. The Minister for Defence, instead of having an inspiring message for the people of Australia - instead of being able to declare that since his advent to office he had put an end to this an ti- Australian attitude, informed us that he had no hope that we should ever be able to build cruisers in Australia. It has been said that the Minister read a speech that had been prepared for him. If that is true, all I have to say is that there ought to be a vacancy in the department over which he presides at an early date, because the speech lacked anything in the nature of Australian sentiment. I should say, without being absolutely certain, that the gentleman who wrote the speech had not been long in Australia.
– Probably it was written by Macandie.
– Whoever wrote it, the Minister himself must take the blame for the declaration that he could see no hope of a cruiser ever being built in Australia. The speech was the most uninspiring and anti-Australian that we have ever heard in this House. I have heard that an enterprising film company intends to exploit the Minister’s speech by screening the subjectmatter contained in it, and I have no doubt that it will be a very good proposition. This, I understand, is to be the nature of the proposal: -
Presents its Star Film -
Featuring the Great Imperial Actor,
By courtesy of the great importing firm;
Spaterson, Slaing, & Spruce
Story by Maeandie.
Adapted by Sir Neville Howse.
Scenario by Earle Page.
Censored by Another-Little-Cut Pratten.
Overture at 8.
Hearses, next Federal Elections.
Swan Song by Prowse.
Australians will owe a great deal to this proposed company if it can star this picture in such a way as to show the Government the error of its ways. If there is any one missing from the caste I am sure the company will have no difficulty in filling vacancies. In so far as it represents this dismal outlook suggested by the action of the Government, it ought to furnish a salutary lesson to Ministers to discontinue their an ti- Aus tralian tactics. I hail with delight the rumoured introduction of this film to Australian picture lovers in order that it may drive some Australian sentiment into this Government.
.- I shall be very brief, but I wish to recall what occurred in the House in July last, when the Defence Equipment Bill was under consideration. I stated then that I was in favour of one cruiser being constructed in Australia, and I voted for the second reading of the bill on that understanding. The Government did not give me an opportunity to vote for the building of the second cruiser in this country. This is my position : I was returned as a member of this House to do what I could to establish industries in the Commonwealth. The most important industry, in my opinion, is that of naval shipbuilding to ensure the defence of Australia against all foes. I was in doubt last session whether I should vote for the building of two cruisers in Australia, but the Government had announced its policy of having one constructed in Great Britain. When the Defence Estimates were brought down, the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) moved an amendment that the two cruisers should be built in Australia. I did not vote then at all. My grievance now is that the Government did not place the tenders before Parliament, and give honorable members an opportunity to decide this important question. There are certain things in the motion with which I am not in accord, but I do not intend to sit still and be “ gagged “ simply because I am attached to a party. I have not heard yet why we should not have built the two cruisers in Australia. It is a shame to suggest that we are not able to do this. Why cannot we encourage the Australian shipbuilding industry? If Ohina can build vessels for its navy, surely Australia can build one cruiser. Is it not time we realized our own importance and commenced to manage our affairs instead of relying for our cruisers upon the assistance of a country 12,000 miles away? What would be om’ position in ‘the event of war? Would we be able to repair in our own ports the cruisers we are obtain- ing from abroad? If we are to accept the awards made under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act we must, in dealing with tenders, make due allowances for the wages conditions existing here, and give every encouragement to men who are anxious to do that which is right. If our acts of Parliament are defective and the standard of living too high, it is our duty to repeal the laws to which exception is taken. But is there one honorable member who would have the temerity to assist in repealing the arbitration laws at present on the statute-book? Is there one who would say that our standard of living is too high? If there is, now is the time for him to declare himself. If there is no objection to the wages paid and the conditions under which Australian workmen live, we must give them fair play in accordance with the laws under which they live. It cannot be otherwise. I was elected to this House to assist in the establishment of secondary industries, and I shall stick to the people who supported me. I shall obey the dictates of my conscience, as in doing so I shall be able to assist Australia, not only to maintain her present position, but also to progress. It is true that we have “ wasters “ in Australia such as Tom Walsh and others of his political creed, who are endeavouring to undermine Australian sentiment and cripple industry. But of them I would say, “Away with them, as they appear to have no interest in this country. Let them marry the mermaids at the bottom of the deep, blue sea.” Let us realize that it is our duty to guide the destinies of this country, and in doing so we must weed out the wasters… I do not know whom they are or whence they came, but if they are doing anything to defame Australia’s good name let us deport them. If capitalists are using their power and influence to cripple individuals they should also be put down. I have declared my position. I feel somewhat worried concerning the attitude which I shall be compelled to adopt in consequence of the Government not summoning Parliament to discuss this important question. The Government has been false to me in that regard. How can I act otherwise than by voting against it when it has been false to me? Party government, with its whips and yokes is a curse and an insult to intelligent humanity. I do not intend to sacrifice my conscience for party.
– If the honorable member will submit an amendment which will not violate his conscience we shall support him.
– I am in this predicament : The only way in which I can protest against the action of the Government in not summoning Parliament is by voting with the Opposition. That is the only course open to me. This is the only act to which I take exception; I have every, confidence in the Government in other respects. The only way in which I can show my disapproval of their action in this instance, however, is by voting with the Opposition, and that I intend to do.
.- The House is indebted to the honorable member for Darwin (Mr. Whitsitt), and the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Watson) for the attitude they have adopted in connexion with the motion ; but I actually felt a cold shiver down my back as I listened to the concluding portion of the speech of the honorable member for Fremantle. As an old parliamentarian, I can say that the only clear course for an honorable member to adopt is to vote according to his conscience, and not allow the quibbles, in which lawyers delight, to interfere. So that my constituents who read Hansard may know what is actually under discussion I shall read the motion -
That the Government is deserving of the severest censure for its flagrant breach of faith in failing to honour the definite promise of the Prime Minister to consult the House before determining where the second cruiser should be built, and for its anti-Australian action in sending millions of pounds out of the country for the construction of both cruisers abroad.
Honorable members are aware that the honorable member for Fremantle always makes very keen inquiries concerning any matter upon which he intends to speak, and to that extent we are indebted to him for the information he has given us. He has said that Australian workmen can hold their own against those in any other part of the world, and I believe he stated that authorities have said that some of the workers in the Commonwealth are superior to any that could be found in any country. One large manufacturer here - Mr. Britten - who has conducted operations in Europe, and who had a large factory in America, has said that both the male and female workers in Australia are of a finer type than those in the countries mentioned. We have been informed that the extra cost of building the two cruisers in Australia would have been approximately £818,000, but what an argument to. use when Ave recall the number of men who offered their services in an awful war which cost over £400,000,000. The honorable member for Fremantle stated that if he governed Australia he would build the cruisers here. Why? Because if he did not instruct his men in the work of constructing the implements of war, how could he hope to hold this great continent.
– That is right.
– Is it to be said that we- of British descent are incapable of building the ships we require? When a steamer on which I was once an officer passed the Prince of Wales’ ship; the Renown, in Yokohama’ harbour, we saw lying alongside the Renown the most powerful ship afloat, which had been constructed by Japanese engineers and artisans. Cannot Australia do what the Japanese have done? We are over a century old, but Japan’s advance has only been made during the span of my life, less ten years. Sixty years ago the Japanese people were fighting with the most primitiveweapons, yet in the history of naval architecture they have constructed three of the most powerful ships afloat. But when ships of war are required for use in the Australian waters by an Australian Government, they are built in Britain. Let us assist our countrymen when the occasion demands it. I always tell my children to buy Australian goods whenever possible, and when they ar& not available to purchase those manufactured in Great Britain. I do not,, however, want them to purchase British goods that come in under a veneer of hypocrisy - goods marked “British made”’ when only 25 per cent, of the material used in their manufacture is produced in Great Britain. Is it not likely that some of the steel plates of which these cruisers will be madewill be manufactured in Germany? I am as desirous as any one of helping. Great Britain, but we should insist upon all British goods coming to this country being 100 per cent. British manufacture. It is our duty to teach Australian artisans. how to perform the important work of ship construction, not because I believe for a moment that capital ships and cruisers will be in use ten- years hence, but because our men should be trained in the work of shipbuilding. If the sum of £4,250,000, which it is proposed to expend, were divided by £4,000, the cost of a bombing plane of the Seagull type, we would have 1,062 of such machines. In these circumstances, our 12,000 miles of coast line washed by the waters of the Indian, Pacific, and Southern Oceans could be well patrolled by aeroplanes, which, as we know, have a radius of 500 miles. We would then have the most mobile force the world has ever seen - 500 aeroplanes, in each of which only two men would he risking their lives. To construct our cruisers in Great Britain is an insult to the intelligence of our people. Wot one Minister would dare to fight the issue in Adelaide, Melbourne, or Sydney. They would not dare to say that they were opposed to Australian manufactures. During the 36 years I have been in political life, I have always- recorded my vote in the interests of primary producers. The home market is more than supplied, and consequently ‘ we have to export a good deal. In order to extend the home market for primary products, we should support our secondary industries. The construction of the cruisers here would have helped our secondary industries. How can my honorable friend the apostle for protection, the Minister for Customs (Mr. Pratten), vote against this motion even to save his Government? If he is really a protectionist and a conscientious man, he cannot do so. No one knows better than he the veneer that the English manufacturers tried to put on articles of foreign manufacture when they were allowed to send them into this country on the basis of 25 per cent. British and 75 per cent, foreign origin.- They even had the impertinence to ask us to give them a preference of 100 per cent. What a farce ! I say, let us help the Homeland, and I give way to no one in my desire to do that. I want to show, and to place on record in Hansard - which is a useful production, read by some of my constituents - that two promises made by the Prime Minister were not kept. On page 4052 of Hansard, of the 9th September, 1924, the Prime Minister said -
The honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley) need not be apprehensive that the Government will take any action to enter into an arrangement to subsidize a new line of Diesel-engine ships before affording the fullest opportunity for discussion and obtaining the approval of the House. I most certainly give the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) my assurance that the fullest opportunity will be given to the House to discuss the question of where the second cruiser shall be built. When the Defence Equipment Bill was being considered, I gave the undertaking that the Government would not take any action in regard to the second cruiser until the House had had a further opportunity to discuss the matter.
No verbiage, no quibbling, and no turning of points, can escape that promise. If anybody had told me that the Prime Minister would descend so low as to make that promise oh the floor of the House and not keep it, I should not have believed him. In all my experience of political life I have never known such a solemn promise to be broken. The promise of a Premier or a Prime Minister, made in Parliament, has always been regarded as inviolable, like the laws of the Medes and Persians. The most petty attorney could not do more in the breaking . of promises than the Prime Minister has done in this instance. I am astonished and ashamed of it. He would not dare to face the electors of any capital electorate on that issue, and if he cares to say the word, I and other honorable members are ready to give him the opportunity. The shadow of the next election is upon this Government, and it will hang upon the words “ anti- Australian.” Until the numbers are up I will not believe that the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Watson) can speak as he did, and, with the conscience that I know he has, vote with the Government. Then there is the honorable member who is regarded as the Alpha and Omega of parliamentary life, the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates). His electorate, Adelaide, is first on the list of electorates, and his name, Yates, is last on the list of honorable members names. Does any one doubt how he will vote ? He was one of these who offered their lives for their country; but this Government will not offer a paltry £800,000 to provide the Australian workmen with the practice that will make them better tradesmen. The honorable member would stand up and say that what a nation like Japan can do in 50 years Australia ought to do in, at least 100 years. But this Government says “ No.” It has decided to send abroad for cruisers that will be obsolete in ten years. I doubt whether any honorable member opposite, if he has read the current literature of science, which shows that the nations of the world are building up their air and submarine forces, would take odds on the question whether ten years hence the cruisers will be as useful as they are to-day. Will the anti-Australian policy of the Government be applied to everything ? We know that weaving has been stopped, but as that does not bear on this question I shall not pursue it. I challenge any man, to the extent of a lifegovernorship of a hospital, to prove that the Prime Minister did not flagrantly break the promise that he made. Honorable members opposite may support him, but if there was a recall many of them would not dare to do so. The country is getting tired of the bribery, corruption, and fraud that are rampant. I shall read a prophecy by a man whose name illumines the record of the English-speaking race - Abraham Lincoln - who, in March, 1865, said -
As a result of the war corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of this country will endeavour to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people, until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed. I feel at this moment more anxiety for the safety of my country than ever before, even in the midst of war. God grant that my suspicions may be groundless !
That prophecy is bearing fruit to-day. At no period in history has money power been so dominant as it is to-day. The money power of five men in America and three in Europe could precipitate our Australia into misery and serious trouble. If this Government is not prepared to follow the example of J apan and have manufactured in Australia everything it requires, the money power in Europe and America will be used to make us suffer. I do not think that any honorable member would dare to stand on a public platform and say, “ I am anti-Australian.” A wise man in the Victorian Legislative Assembly many years ago - the late Duncan Gillies - said -
While a member may be able to explain away a speech, while a member may he able to give cogent reasons which will mitigate some words he has said in that speech, never can he wipe out the history of the record of a vote.
When the Labour party first entered parliamentary life in this state it insisted upon calling for divisions. I shall scan the division list on the present motion, and, if life be spared to me after the next election, I believe I shall be here, while many now sitting opposite are missing, when the Speaker of that day welcomes the new members.
.- I rise to support the motion of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton). I do so because I believe that its terms are fully justified. The Prime Minister promised that ample opportunity would be afforded to honorable members to discuss the building of the cruisers before a decision was arrived at. The motion of censure is, to my mind, justified by the facts. Whether it is defeated or not, and whether honorable members who sit behind the Government break their pledges and forsake their principles or not, censure certainly awaits the Government at the next election. The decision of the Government to construct these cruisers overseas is tantamount to disloyalty, not only to Australia, but also to Great Britain, and can properly be styled both treacherous and disloyal. If the Government, as it professes, is anxious to support and strengthen the Empire, it can render no better service to that end than by thoroughly establishing the shipbuilding industry in this country, and developing such works as those at Cockatoo Island, Walsh Island, and other places. Such a policy would enable us to construct warships speedily and effect necessary repairs when required. Instead, however, of strengthening the Empire in this part of the southern hemisphere, the Government has decided to hand this big contract for the construction of two 10,000-ton cruisers to a Scottish shipbuilding firm, so that the benefit, instead of going to Australia, will go to the firm of John Brown and Company, the workers of the Clyde, and the business people of Great Britain. Australian workers and Australian interests will suffer to the extent that British workers and British interests benefit. If the policy of the Government in having work done overseas is carried to its logical’ conclusion, Australia will become a dependent, helpless colony, banging to the apron-strings of the Mother Country, instead of a useful, virile member of the British family, doing its share in the defence of the Empire. If the British Admiralty, the British Parliament, and all those who are anxious to see the British Empire great could be consulted, their advice to the’ people of Australia would be to construct the cruisers here, and thus encourage the growth of establishments that in time of war could build further ships and do necessary repairs. If the policy of getting all work done abroad were carried out thoroughly by the Australian, Canadian, New Zealand and other Dominion Governments, there would not be in those Dominions an efficient shipbuilding yard or plant capable of constructing war vessels. All orders for the construction of vessels similar to these would have to be sent overseas; we should have to depend upon the shipyards at Belfast, the Clyde, and other places. When we realize that many eminent authorities predict that the next naval war will be fought in the Pacific, when we are told that the next big conflict will take place in the East, we must conclude that we are acting in a very dangerous manner by weakening instead of strengthening our industries. - The Government’s policy in starving our shipbuilding industry, in failing to employ our skilled artisans and well-equipped plants, can have only one effect, and that is to greatly impair our efficiency as a unit of the British Empire and to weaken its position in the Pacific from a naval defence point of view. The Government prides itself upon being an economy government, but to. my mind it has indulged in a great deal of extravagance, and this decision to have the two cruisers built in Great Britain is extravagance of the worst kind. I cannot justify the action of the Government in allowing the establishments at Cockatoo Island and Walsh Island to remain idle whilst maintenance charges, which are very heavy, continue. There can be no question about the ability of Australian workmen to undertake this class of work. The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Watson) paid a visit to Cockatoo Island, and he is quite convinced that we have there the plant and the men capable of turning out this work. It is not necessary for us to depend upon the views of private mem bers in that respect; we know that the Adelaide and the Brisbane, each of which exceeded 5,000 tons, were constructed at Cockatoo Island Dockyard. The two freighters, Fordsdale and Ferndale, which are giving complete satisfaction, were also built in that dockyard. The whole of the hulls, the boilers, the engines, the turbines, and the propellers for those two vessels were completely machined and fashioned at Cockatoo Island Dockyard. Very favorable comments have been made regarding the workmanship that was put into those two vessels, which are the largest that have been built and engined in Australia. A writer in the Sydney Daily Telegraph, referring to the trials of the Fordsdale, said -
On board were some of the leading shipbuilding experts in the Commonwealth, representing competitive companies, who occupied the day subjecting every nook and cranny of the ship to the closest scrutiny and the most exacting judgment. Their verdicts were unanimous in approval. The design and construction of the vessel, down to the smallest detail, they said, represented a triumph for Australian enterprise and workmanship. Criticism was disarmed. Any illusions that Australian engineering skill could not produce a, vessel worthy of the hall-mark of Lloyd’s were dissipated by yesterday’s tests and inspections.
Mr. C. A. Johnston, president of the Institute of Marine Engineers, said -
All the experts who had closely inspected the Fordsdale yesterday were agreed that she was a shipbuilding triumph, and was technically faultless. Her trials had exceeded all expectation, and the staff at Cockatoo deserved every credit..
The remarks regarding the Ferndale at the time of her trials were even more complimentary. The work that Cockatoo Island has turned out would fully justify the Government in placing there an order for the construction of at least one cruiser. Many years ago thousands of pounds were spent in sending abroad several parties of Australian artisans to enable them to be properly trained and to obtain in shipyards overseas the expert technical knowledge that would enable them to take a prominent part in the construction in Australia of submarines, cruisers, and vessels for the mercantile marine. Because of lack of foresight by State and Federal Governments the valuable training and experience which those experts gained have been lost to the Commonwealth. Had an order for the construction of one or both of these cruisers been given to Cockatoo
Island Dockyard those men could have been gathered from the different states and have served a very useful purpose. I should like to hear the views of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) upon this matter. He should let honorable members know exactly where he stands. Is he prepared to applaud the action of the Prime Minister, and the Government? Some time ago he expressed his views, which are outlined in the following newspaper paragraph: -
The Minister for Customs (Mr. Pratten) came out into the open to-day with a strong criticism of public bodies in Australia which are sending abroad their contracts for machinery. Questioned regarding the action of Amalgamated Wireless - in which the Commonwealth has a controlling interest - in placing overseas a contract for steel towers for the beam wireless station, Mr. Pratten said: - “ You can take it from me that no special concession will be allowed to any one, no matter who makes the request. My concern is entirely with the tariff.”
Further on he said -
He viewed with serious concern evidence coining before him which indicated a growing disinclination on the part of some Australian enterprises, particularly State Governments and other public corporations, to give due consideration to local engineering firms when placing orders for machinery. He found it necessary to repeat and emphasize the views he expressed recently regarding the conditions under which the benefit concession item of the tariff would be conceded. This provision, he insisted, must be viewed as an essential part of the national policy. The fact that the price of overseas tenders for the supply of the machinery was lower than the Australian price would not be regarded as a reason for the remission of the duty imposed by Parliament.
We all remember how critical he was of the Government when he was a private member. Immediately he became Minister for Customs he was struck dumb, so far as criticism was concerned. He is not now prepared to stand up to the views that he formerly expounded, and the principles that he claimed guided him. I am anxious to know the attitude of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Sir Austin Chapman), and to learn whether he has arranged to pair in opposition to the motion. On the occasion of the launching of the Ferndale, Sir Austin Chapman is reported as having spoken in the following terms: -
The day’s function was one of importance. They had seen launched an Australian ship, built by Australian workmen, from Australian material. If they could build such fine ships, where was the necessity to send across the seas for vessels wanted in Australia? Here we have Australian men looking for work. Then, the building of one of the new cruisers should bc the next work undertaken at Cockatoo Island. There was no- reason why Australian workmen should not be given the task. Australian workmen could do the work as well as any workmen in the world. They had seen an example of what the Australian workmen could do that day. He was supported in his contention about the workmen by Mr. Farquhar, who spoke as a man of considerable experience. The Australians were as active and as capable as any men in the world. “I hope,” said Sir Austin, “ that there will be no question regarding the construction of the cruisers at Cockatoo Island. Employment must be found for these men who have so ably demonstrated their ability in the construction of the Ferndale. I have always fought for the policy of enabling the Australians to show their ability. We have the men, and we have the material. Why should there be any hesitation?”
In spite of those utterances I am afraid that the honorable member’s name will be found amongst the names of those who vote or pair against this motion. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) has said that if an order for the construction of one of these cruisers had been placed in Australia the biggest part of the work done here would have been not constructional, but assembling work. With that statement I entirely disagree. I have had experience at the dockyards, and in several private shipbuilding establishments. The hull, the engines, the boilers, the turbines, and the propellers of the Fordsdale and Ferndale, and even of the Adelaide were made at Cockatoo Island Dockyard. Similar work could be carried out in connexion with these two cruisers. It is certainly necessary to import the armour plating, as we have not in Australia a plant capable of rolling it. The Prime Minister has not shown that the work of marking off, drilling, planing, cutting, shearing, punching, riveting, fashioning, and other necessary operations amount merely to assembling. I say that it is not assembling, but that, on the contrary, it is constructional work. Six boilers, each weighing 105 tons, were entirely constructed at Cockatoo Island Dockyard for the Fordsdale and Ferndale. I inspected the work put into the boilers and the engines, and it reflected great credit upon the workmen who were responsible for it. The fact that a number of special tiles for use in house construction have to be imported does not prove that the work of placing them in position and the erection of the house is not constructional work. The work entailed in the building of the hull of a cruiser is of a constructional character, and is not merely assembling work. Many years ago, when the Australian Navy was first brought into being, a number of destroyers were assembled at Cockatoo Island Dockyard. On that occasion the rib frames and the plating came out ready cut, and it was necessary merely to punch and rivet them. But in connexion with the Brisbane, the Adelaide, the Fordsdale, and Ferndale, the stem and stern plates and the plates for the hull had to be fashioned and shaped, entailing an enormous amount of work. Similar work would be required for these two cruisers if they were constructed at Cockatoo Island Dockyard. For that reason I say that it is not a question of assembling but of construction, and that we have men who are capable of doing that type of work. The Prime Minister has attempted to justify his action and that of his Government by saying that we shall save £800,000. On the contrary, there will be a direct loss to the Commonwealth as the result of having the cruisers constructed in Great Britain. I contend that there will not bo a saving of £800,000, because we must have regard to the wages that will be lost by workmen who would have been employed had the cruisers been built in Australia. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company, which could have supplied some portion of the steel plates and the angle iron, will also suffer a considerable loss.
– That company could have produced practically the whole of the angles.
– Had the work been carried out in our own dockyards, Australia would also have benefited by the fillip that would Lave been given to trade and industry. The Government should be the last to talk about a saving of £800,000. From utterances of Ministers one would be inclined to believe that from the time they took office they have had a tight grip of the purse strings. On the contrary, they have disbursed enormous sums to persons who have had no right to them. The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) made reference yesterday to the cost of the construction of the Ade laide and the Brisbane, and also the “ Dale “ boats. I do not think that any honorable member would advocate a reduction in the wages paid to Australian workmen. We must expect work done in Australia to cost considerably more than similar work costs overseas. The labour rates in Australia for shipwrights, platers, riveters, and caulkers are about 100 per cent, higher than those obtaining in Great Britain, and it would be unreasonable to expect an estimate by the Commonwealth Shipping Board to be as low as that of John Brown and Company, or any other large shipbuilding firm in the Old Country. If honorable members agree that the present conditions of employment in Australia should be maintained, that factor should be taken into consideration in arriving at a determination as to whether or not the Government has acted in the best interests of Australia in this matter. The honorable member for Forrest stated that the policy of the men employed at Cockatoo Island was to drag jobs on, so that the work would last longer than it ordinarily should. I wish to say, however, that if there was any delay in the construction of the naval vessels, it was due to the Navy officials employed in a supervisory capacity, and who were anxious to make the work last as long as possible, so that they might keep their positions. That was one of the reasons for the long period occupied in the construction of those vessels, and another factor was the numerous alterations made, from time to time by the Navy Office, in the plans.
– If that was so, those men should have been dismissed.
– I quite agree with the honorable member. This Government has appointed a commission to investigate the subject of unemployment. Could there be anything more ridiculous than a Government professing to be concerned about the prevalence of unemployment when it deliberately causes the loss of employment that will result from the placing of these orders overseas ? The effect will be just as disastrous to the country as if Great Britain were asked to deliver to Australia £5,000,000 worth of goods that could be manufactured in Australia. Some months ago the honorable member for Martin (Mr. Pratten), who is now Minister for Trade and Customs, criticized the Government, and said the importing boom must cease, because large importations were prejudicial to the best interests of the country. I should like to hear a speech from the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lister), who has contended from time to time that cruisers should be constructed in Australia. Perhaps some change has come over the honorable member, or is it that the party whip Las cracked? When the electors have an opportunity of expressing disapproval of the Government’s action they will, unhesitatingly, bring about their defeat. In the .course of a leading article, concerning the decision of the Government to send the order for the cruisers overseas, the Melbourne Age stated : -
National pride, capacity, and power, the Government holds, will cost too much money. From a Government that is squandering unproductive millions, and possibly inviting each avaricious trading interest to come as a mendicant for public largesse, the excuse is strange, distasteful, and hollow. The two vessels to be built on the Clyde are to cost approximately £4,250,000. By ordering both cruisers abroad, instead of building one here, it is said there will be a saving of £S00,000, which will be spent locally on a seaplane carrier. The boasted saving is a sham and a delusion.
In deciding to allow a seaplane carrier to be built at Cockatoo Island, the Government is merely offering Australian workmen the crumbs, instead of the whole loaf. The ex-Minister for Defence (Mr. Bowden) was asked a few months ago whether the two submarines would be constructed in Australia, and he replied that there was no shipyard in this country capable of building them. That is the kind of statement one would expect from the navy officers who advised the Government that it would be in the best interests of the country to have the cruisers built overseas and who have consistently adopted an anti-Australian attitude. If the Labour party secures the reins of government it will sweep out of their positions those individuals who advise Ministers that Australia’s interests are better served by having work done in other countries, than by giving employment to our own people, and utilizing the up-to-date machinery and plant at our shipyards. The Labour party will appoint to high and responsible positions men who are for Australia first, and all the time.
.- I did not intend to speak on this motion which has been very ably moved by the
Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) and supported by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) and other honorable members on this side of the House, but, as a representative of a Queensland constituency, I do not wish it to be thought that the views expressed by the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. D. Cameron) are shared by a majority of the Queensland electors. That honorable member said that the Government was right in its action in sending the orders for cruisers abroad. Evidently, the policy of the present Government was well set out in a statement made by Sir John Davies, managing director of John Baldwin Limited - the British Prime Minister’s firm - on the occasion of his recent visit to this country. When in Melbourne, Sir John said -
Australia should give up the idea of becoming a manufacturing country, and content herself with exporting primary products and buying manufactured goods from Britain.
– That was said 50 years ago.
– Yes, and it is -the opinion held by a number of honorable members opposite. The people of Queensland do not support the view expressed by the honorable member for Brisbane. I do not propose to discuss at length the definite promise made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) regarding the construction of the second cruiser, but I remind honorable members that on the 5th September last year, according to Hansard, page 4052, the Prime Minister said -
I most certainly give the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) my assurance that the fullest opportunity will ‘.be given to the House to discuss the question of where the second cruiser shall be built. When the- Defence Equipment Bill was being considered, I gave the undertaking that the Government would not take any action in regard to the second cruiser until the House had had a further opportunity to discuss the matter.
That is clear and definite, and no satisfactory explanation of the failure to carry out that promise has been vouchsafed by any supporter of the Government.
– Does the honorable member suggest that a further opportunity was not given at a later stage in the same month ?
– I maintain that it was understood by every honorable member that a further opportunity would be afforded when the tenders for the cruisers were placed before the House. That was never done. The Prime Minister said emphatically that the estimates he then gave the House were only approximate, and that he would have to wait until more detailed estimates with tenders came forward.
– Until the tenders were received.
– Quite so. Every honorable member understood that as the Prime Minister was not in a position to give definite information at the time, he would again brine the matter before the House and put all the cards on the table. The honorable member for Darwin (Mr. Whitsitt) stated in the House to-day that he understood honorable members would have an opportunity of considering the matter, and the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Watson) made a similar assertion.
– The honorable member for Perth, too.
– Yes. If I remember rightly, the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. W. M. Hughes) made a speech in which he said definitely that he understood the House would have an opportunity of debating the subject before a decision’ was arrived at.
– That is what the country thought.
– Of course; but the fact remains that that opportunity was denied us. It would have been far more honorable if the Government had made a clear and definite statement that it thought the responsibility should rest with the Cabinet and not with Parliament. Had the Government said that last session, it could not now be accused of having acted dishonestly with the House. Some honorable members opposite severely criticized the right honorable member for North Sydney when he was Prime Minister because, to use their own words, important matters were decided “behind closed doors,” and they wanted “a return to a responsible Government.” They also desired to “ switch on the light, and make the burglars drop the loot.” The right honorable member for North Sydney switched on the light the other day, and his remarks were not appreciated by honorable members opposite. Members of the Opposition are strongly Australian in spirit, and they demand that preference shall be given to our own industries and our own workmen on all occasions. I should like to hear a speech on this subject from the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser). He knows that if the Queensland Labour Government considered cheapness first, and sent an order abroad for locomotives there would be a shortage of employment for the men engaged at the engineering works of Walker’s Limited, Maryborough. The honorable member is well aware that this firm receives from the State Government preference over British and continental tenderers for railway engines. It even receives preference over other Australian tenderers, because it is conducting a Queensland industry. The Labour Government of Queensland believes in giving employment to Australians. It does not send orders abroad and thus allow good tradesmen and artisans to walk the streets and hump swags throughout the State looking for work. The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) would strongly protest if local contracts were secured by a representative of an overseas firm. He would say, “ Give the local men preference every time.” The local .manufacturers have a right to claim preference, because they employ good Australians under Australian conditions. The Queensland Labour party decided not long ago to establish a sugar mill at Tully River in the north, at a cost of £750,000. It received from both German and British firms very tempting tenders for the manufacture of the mill machinery. What did it do? It let the contract to Walker’s Limited, of Maryborough, which firm in turn let sub-contracts to others. For instance, at the Bundaberg foundry I .saw recently a hive of industry, in which numerous mechanics and fitters were busily engaged in making machinery for the Tully River mill. That foundry and others had obtained sub-contracts from Walker’s Limited. There is a vast difference between the Australian policy adopted by the Queensland Labour Government and the anti- Australian policy of the Commonwealth Government, which is so bitterly condemned by honorable members on this side and by one or two honorable members on the other side. Labour stands for preference to Australians and
Australian industries. This policy -was not carried out by the Federal Government in the case of the Australian cruisers. The honorable member for Wide Bay, as well as the other Queensland representatives, know full well that what is wanted is a greater home market for many of our primary products. The Queensland sugargrowers themselves, in view of the overproduction of sugar, do not feel too certain about the future of that industry.
– I connect my remarks with the motion in this way : If the order for the cruisers had been given to an Australian shipbuilding yard, employment would have been provided for a great number of Australians, whose families would be consuming our sugar.
– The association of those two ideas is too remote.
– I claim that if preference were given to Australian shipbuilding yards, employment would be created for thousands of additional Australian citizens, thus increasing our home markets. If our secondary industries were sufficiently encouraged, the home market would be so increased that there would be no need to export at a loss 150,000 tons of Queensland sugar. I ask the honorable member for Wide Bay to explain why he would vote in favour of sending to Great Britain orders for two cruisers, and at the same time severely condemn the Queensland Government if it sent overseas orders for railway engines, dredges, and mill machinery. Honorable members opposite have stated that the construction of cruisers in Australia would be purely assembling work, and that much of the material would have to be imported. The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Watson) gave the lie direct to that statement He . said that the manager of John Brown’s shipbuilding yards told him that there was more up-to-date machinery at Cockatoo Island Dockyard than there was in John Brown’s yards in Great Britain.
– The honorable member for Fremantle did not say that.
– He said so definitely this afternoon. Furthermore, he said that to construct the cruisers John Brown and Company Limited would have to get from other works more material than Cockatoo Island Dockyard would require to import in similar circumstances.
– And the British firms would probably get it from Germany.
– Yes; from the cheapest market. British shipbuilding firms will obtain their material from Germany or any other country, whichever is the cheapest market, caring not whether it is made by those who helped to kill thousands of Australia’s sons. Nothing matters to them so long as the materials are obtained at the lowest price ! J ohn Brown and Company Limited, when constructing the cruisers, will obtain some of their materials from other works and other countries, and do the assembling work themselves. The work is similar to what would be done at Cockatoo Island Dockyard. Wherever these cruisers were built plates and angle iron would have to be purchased and . brought to the shipbuilding yards. The armaments, of course, would be obtained in Great Britain. John Brown and Company.Limited will of necessity carry out work similar to that done at Cockatoo Island Dockyard, and this should undoubtedly have been carried out by Australian workmen. It has been rightly said that no shipbuilder in the world has rolling mills in connexion with his yards. He obtains his material from other firms, and in that respect Cockatoo Island Dockyard is in the same position as the successful tenderer in Great Britain. John Brown and Company Limited will, no doubt, let a great many sub-contracts to other firms, and the same practice would have been followed here if Cockatoo Island Dockyard had secured the contract. It was pointed out by the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) that if the cruisers were constructed m Australia, 80 per cent, of the material would have to be imported. The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) clearly proved that that was not so. He showed that if Cockatoo Island Dockyard had secured the contract, 75 per cent, of the parts would have been made in Australia, and only 25 per cent, of it imported. That is borne out by the conversation between the honorable member for Fremantle and the manager of John Brown’s shipbuilding yard.
– As an Australian, I am ashamed that the number of employees at the Cockatoo Island Dockyard is being gradually reduced. A few years ago, 4,000 men were employed there, but the number had been reduced to 1,700 last year, and the complaint has been made by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) and other “members representing Sydney constituencies, that only 1,000 men are now employed at the dockyards, and that men are being paid off every week. I cannot understand how the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) can support this action of the Government. Before dinner, I was discussing the possibility of Walkers Limited, whose works are in his electorate, getting a share of this work.
– Why does not the honorable member talk about something that he understands ?
– I shall not suggest that the honorable member knows nothing about sugar, shipbuilding, or other subjects. I shall leave it to honorable members to decide whether he does or not. I am putting my views before honorable members, and he will have an opportunity to put his. I hope he will vote with us on this question, because surely he cannot support the policy of sending shipbuilding work out of Australia, ignoring big works like those of Cockatoo Island and Walkers Limited, in his own electorate, which could do with a share of the business. Even if Walkers Limited had not secured the main contract, they would certainly have been able to carry out some of the sub-contracts.
– They would have got quite a lot of work.
– That is so. If the honorable member for Wide Bay agreed with the policy of the Queeusland Government in giving the contract for the Tully River sugar mills machinery to Walkers Limited at a higher price than need have been paid for it had it been obtained overseas, he ought to be consistent and express his resentment at the action of this Government in ordering the two cruisers from overseas, simply because they would have cost more had they been built here. I am certain that Walkers Limited favour preference to Australian industries, and desire to see their em ployees kept in full work. I do not wish to say anything personal about the honorable member for Wide Bay, but I submit that he ought to see that Walkers Limited, and other engineering firms, get a fair deal from the Government which he. supports. It cannot be said that Walkers Limited are unable to build ships, for they built the Echuca, 6,108 tons, for £275,992, and the Echunga, 6,108 tons, for £269,656, costing a total of more than £545,000 for the two vessels. The firm has most up-to-date works, and is able to handle big contracts. It was given the contract for the Tully River sugar mill machinery, notwithstanding that that machinery could have been obtained in Germany for nearly half its contract price.
– If the cruisers had been built in Australia, Walkers could have done quite a lot of the castings.
– That is so. We do not suggest that all the work should be done in one place. The right honorable member for Worth Sydney, when speaking the other day, said that if any one could speak as a Nationalist, surely he could, for he formed the Nationalist party. In the course of his speech, he said -
I think tb at a great mistake has been made, particularly in the misinterpretation of the feelings of the Australian people. A blow has been struck at the Australian national spirit.
When statements like that are made from this side of the House, it is said that we are biased, and that we are attacking the Government for party reasons. But the way in which the Government has handled this cruiser business concerns the whole of the Australian people; and it is well to hear honorable members on the other side condemning the Government in this matter. A good deal more than sentiment is behind our opposition to this action of the Government. If we are to become a self-reliant country we must make a beginning in constructing our own cruisers, submarines, and like requirements. Years ago Germany and Japan had no shipbuilding industry. They learnt the business from Great Britain. They sent brilliant men to England to learn the secrets of ship construction, and these men, on their return home, trained an army of shipbuilders, so that both countries are now able to build for themselves all the ships that they need. Why should not Australia adopt a similar policy? No reason whatever has been given to justify the sending of this work out of the Commonwealth. It is well known that the Commonwealth Shipping Board was at a great disadvantage in submitting a tender for the cruisers. It had to add to its price for the actual work 5 per cent, for interest on debentures that the Government hold against it; 28 per cent, at least for overhead charges, and 5 per cent, for ordinary working charges. It was compelled to do this by the terms of the statute under which it was constituted. The board was also handicapped in being able to tender for one vessel only; while British tenderers could tender for two. The Minister for Trade and Customs, who makes the boast that the Government gives a fair opportunity to all Australian industries to tender for Government work, not very long ago criticized the Sydney City Council for sending work overseas. He said that the policy of Mr. Forbes McKay, the general manager of the City Electricity Department, was stifling Australian industry. He also said that Australian manufacturers [should be given a fair deal. Yet he is a member of a government which denies a fair deal to the Cockatoo Island Dockyard. I dare say that if the dockyard had been owned by a few wealthy men, such as Sir Sidney Kidman, a greater measure of preference would have been given to it.
– And any sort of work could have been turned out.
– Yes; even coffin ships.
– That is so. But no one can conscientiously criticize in an adverse manner the work that has been turned out by the Cockatoo Island Dockyard. We have examples of its work in the cruisers Brisbane and Adelaide, and also in the steamers Fordsdale, Ferndale, Dundula, and Eudunda. These four vessels cost £2,090,000, and it has been admitted by everybody who has seen them and is qualified to judge that the workmanship in them is of the very first order. It cannot be expected that vessels will be built in Australia for the same amount that they could be built for in England. Wages are higher and working conditions are better in Australia than in England. Shipwrights, for instance, receive £2 15s. 6d. a week in England, and in Australia they receive £6 6s. a week, which is more than twice the English rate of pay. It is all very fine for honorable members opposite to prate, with their tongue in their cheek, and with an eye to the approaching election, that they believe in the maintenance of good wages for Australian workers. How can they expect these conditions to continue when they lose no opportunity to send big contracts out of Australia and so hamper our industries. Nine million pounds worth of contracts went out of Australia last year.
– Will the honorable member answer ohe question? Did he not agitate to have a dredge admitted into Queensland duty free?
– In reply to that I refer the honorable member to the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten), who will be able to tell him that I was definitely opposed, personally, to the dredge being brought into Australia duty free. I wrote a letter to the secretary of the Labour party at Maryborough to the same effect. I maintained in regard to that case, as well as in others of a like nature, that preference should be given to Australian shipbuilders. The honorable member for Wide Bay knows that.
– I noticed a report in the Rockhampton press.
– The honorable member’s information was entirely wrong. He knows very well that I am opposed to dredges, or any other machinery, being brought into Australia duty free. The Minister for Trade and Customs also knows that.
– This, of course, is an excursion outside the motion.
– I realize that, sir, but the honorable member for Wide Bay made an insinuation which was most unfair. He inferred what was really a deliberate lie.
– Well, the honorable member has the credit for it.
– The honorable member for Capricornia, as a parliamentarian, knows that the language he has just used is not permissible.
– I realize that it is not permissible. I will say that the honorable member for Wide Bay is a perverter of the truth.
– The honorable member must withdraw both statements.
– I withdraw them.
– I simply asked a question.
– The honorable member for Wide Bay should not make such insinuations. He knows very well that a boat he once owned and traded with in Queensland was not built in Australia.
– Reasonable latitude has been allowed in this debate. I have given the honorable member every liberty that I can. Having finished his opponent to his own satisfaction, I trust that he will now come back to the motion under consideration.
– Having reminded, the honorable member for Wide Bay that he showed preference for an imported boat, I shall now return to the consideration of the motion. I claim the support of the honorable member for this motion of censure, on the ground that if he is sincere in his expressed opinion that preference should be given to Walkers Limited and other Australian industries, he will disapprove of the action that the Government has taken in ordering cruisers to be built abroad. If cheapness was the main consideration, why were the cruisers not ordered from Japan or some similar coloured labour low-wage country ?
I WiSh to refer to the statement made by the Minister for Defence (Sir Neville Howse) that a contract had been let to Vickers Limited for building two submarines at a cost of about £800,000. I say that these vessels should also have been built in Australia. But Australian shipbuilders were not even given a chance to tender for their construction. At Cockatoo Island Dockyard, we have all the machinery necessary for the purpose. Some years ago, a number of men were sent to Great Britain to receive expert training in this class of construction. By way of excuse the Minister for Defence has claimed that the training those men obtained is now out of date. Surely that is not so. Plans, drawings, and specifications would have been supplied to us by the British Admiralty, and we have at Cockatoo Island Dockyard a manager, foreman, and workmen who have had extensive experience in the building of submarines. These vessels will become a very important arm of Australian defence, and if we are to get them from Great Britain, will it not be necessary to have in Australia expert workmen who, in the event of any mishap to the submarines, would be able to repair them? There is no better way to build up an efficient staff of skilled workmen for the repair of submarines than to set about their construction at the Cockatoo Island Dockyard. This is another matter in connexion with which the Government deserves the severest censure.
The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) last night quoted some figures showing the value of our imports and exports since Federation. He said that the value of our exports within the’ period mentioned was £1,954,000,000, and the value of our imports only £1,739,000,000. The honorable member did not take into consideration the figures for the period during which the present Government has been in office. If he had taken the figures for the period 1918-19 to 1922-23, during which the National Government was in power, he woul’d find that the imports then amounted to £131,750,000, and the exports to only £117,000,000, showing an excess of imports over exports amounting to £14,000,000. That is to say that, during that period, we paid away for goods brought from other countries £14,000,000 more than we received for goods exported from Australia. This is a policy which must be put an end to. We must have confidence in our own people, whether shipbuilders or manufacturers of woollen and ‘other goods.
– The improvement in exchange will automatically bring about what the honorable member desires.
– The honorable, member may make use of whatever excuses he pleases, but I have given the facts, and if he were truly Australian in spirit, he would not support a Government whose policy it is to send orders for cruisers to Great Britain. In the Australian Mining Standard of the 4th of this month there is an article pointing out that there are 50,000 persons out of employment in Australia. They have been rendered workless by this policy of sending orders abroad, and the newspaper specifically refers to the orders sent abroad for cruisers. Honorable members are aware that shipbuilders would not be the only people who would benefit if the work of building the cruisers were done in Sydney. The employment of 3,500 men there in such work would be of benefit to sugar-growers, wheat-growers, potatogrowers, dairy farmers, and others, because it would improve the home market for their produce. I appeal to honorable members opposite not to allow themselves to be tied in this matter by their allegiance to their own party, but to vote as Australians. I appeal to the honorable member for Darwin (Mr. Whitsitt), to the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Watson), to the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. W. M. Hughes), and to the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lister), who could not vote against I his motion, to vote with members of the Opposition on this occasion. As Australians, we should not disparage our country, or permit any one else to do so. We should have confidence in our workmen, who have been recognized to be equal to the best in the world. How are we to build up great industries in Australia if the Government does not give a lead to the rest of the people of the Commonwealth by having these cruisers built in Australia? They will be manned by Australians, and if they were built here those who manned them would be proud of serving on cruisers built in Australian yards by Australian workmen.
– The motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton)* has been debated at some length. It is, in effect, a charge against the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) of having broken a promise made to this House, and censures the Government for not having the cruisers built in Australia. As to the charge against the Prime Minister, I shall say very little. I listened carefully to what was said by the Leader of the Opposition, by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony), who followed him, and by the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley), who traversed some of the same ground. I heard the Prime Minister in reply, and the speech of the Attorney-General to-day. I do not know what was the impression made by the words used by the PrimeMinister, but I am satisfied that the right honorable gentleman had no intention of deliberately deceiving the House. I can, express no opinion as to whether he did deceive it, or whether his words werecalculated to do so, but I shall give him the benefit of the doubt, and I accept hisexplanation without qualification. I turn now to the act upon which thismotion of censure is based - that theGovernment has placed the order for the cruisers in Great Britain. On the merits: of the case, I have already twice in this House stated my position, and several times outside. I see no reason to alter the opinion I have already made clear. I said, when addressing this House last session,, that, assuming the cruisers to be necessary for the defence of Australia, they should be built here, and that the onus of proving that they ought to be built elsewhererested entirely on the Government,, and on it only. I said, too, that in my opinion the question of employment and unemployment was quite irrelevant to the matter before the House, which waswhether the cruisers should be built in> Australia or elsewhere. Assuming that they ought to be built - and the responsibility for the decision rests entirely on the Government - I have not been supplied with any information to enable meto come to a decision as to whether this class of vessel is necessary for the defence of Australia, I do not know whether it is or not ; but I assumed, when I spoke last session, and I assume now, that the PrimeMinister, following the practice of hispredecessors, has obtained the advice of his own naval advisers and of the BritishAdmiralty in arriving at the decision. Assuming, then, that it is desirable that two cruisers of the type for which contracts have been let in Great Britain should be built for the defence of thiscountry, that it is desirable that we should defend this country, and that weought to make such preparations aswill enable us to do so, then, in my opinion, the cruisers should have been, built in Australia. The question of unemployment, I venture to say, is merely incidental to this matter, for unemployment has in this country reached a point quite - beyond such a remedy as it is suggested should be applied to it, and! must be dealt with by a comprehensive policy. When we are told, as we have been this evening, and before, that there are 6,000 unemployed in this city and its environs, it is obvious that the building of the cruisers in this country could not absorb such numbers. I do not know the exact figures as to unemployment in New South Wales, but that there is unemployment there I am well aware. I do not say for a moment that the action of the Government in placing the contract in Britain does not aggravate a position already intensely serious, but I do say that in itself the building of cruisers in Australia would be quite inadequate as a remedy for unemployment, which must be dealt with by a comprehensive Australian national policy. I am at a loss to know why the cruisers have not been built in Australia. When this question was being discussed last session I said - Hansard, vol. 109, page 4320 -
No doubt the acceptance or otherwise of the tender will be decided when Parliament is in recess, and we shall not have an opportunity to express our opinion about what is done. It seems to me that the surest way to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion would be to invite tenders in both Australia and Britain for one ship only. That would be a plain declaration of our intention to construct at least one of the vessels here.
In my opinion that was the right thing to do. It was not done. I do not understand why. The Nationalist policy in regard to naval defence is one thing, and the policy of this Coalition Government, apparently, is quite another. To what we are to attribute this falling away I do not know. That the policy of the present Government differs in this matter from its predecessor is undeniable. I say, and every man in this House, and every person in the country knows it to be true, that the policy of the Nationalist Government, when I was in office, was to build both ships of war and merchant vessels in Australia. With all respect to honorable gentlemen on the other side, I may say that I have done more to establish and encourage shipbuilding in this country than any other single person. I have stated the policy of the Nationalist party when I was its leader. That is not, apparently, the policy of this coalition government. I do not know whether we can attribute that, fact to the -influence of the Country party or to the influence of a section of the
Nationalist party itself, but the fact itself is incontrovertible.
The arguments put forward by the Government are utterly unconvincing. They have been stated several times in the House and outside. In the main they are based upon the higher cost of building cruisers in Australia, and the placing or the contracts in England is said to have been the result of a passion for saving money. If considerations of economy are to be held as sufficient to override all others, then almost every country in the world could, with advantage and propriety, place orders for the building of its warships abroad. America even could do so. During the war it cost that country much more to build her emergency fleet of merchant vessels than the cost in Australia, let alone in England. It would have paid America handsomely to have her fleet built in England, but for national reasons she did not do so. Surely the reasons which were sufficient in her case should satisfy us. The higher cost of production in Australia, which is alleged to be a reason for placing the contract for the two cruisers in England, is the corollary and inevitable consequence of the settled policy of this country. Our national life is regulated by that standard. This Parliament is mainly responsible for the laws which compel every employer to pay high wages. Yet now it is declared that because of the operation of these laws, and for no other reason, the contract for the building of these cruisers could not be placed in Australia. The argument, as far as it is relevant and effective, applies to everything that is made in Australia. The high cost of production is naturally affected by the legislation of the country which compels the payment of high, wages. To my friends in the Corner who do not appreciate some of the results of high wages, I say that it will be a very bad day for them when wages fall. The people of Australia are now able to consume vast quantities of goods. It is fair to say that the 6,000,000 of people in Australia come within measurable distance of consuming as much wealth as is consumed by 100,000,000 people in some other countries.
It is said by those who support the Government in the action it has taken that Australia’s methods are most unsatisfactory. One honorable member this afternoon spoke of the reluctance of Australian operatives to use labour-saving machinery. I do not know to what extent that reluctance applies, but I think it may be said that it does not apply to.a greater extent in. Australia than it does in Great Britain. I could tell honorable members some stories, and every British employer of labour could tell a great many more in this regard. We may deplore this fact, if it be a fact, in its application to Australia, but to claim that it is peculiar to Australia is absurd.
The reasons for building cruisers in Australia have been stated by many honorable members. I have set forth some of them, and this afternoon the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) said quite truly that we could not possibly hope to use those vessels unless we could repair them. Unless a war were to take place immediately they were launched, they would need to be repaired before they could be used. And how can they be repaired unless we have men with experience to repair them? The weight of argument is overwhelmingly in favour of those who say that the cruisers should have been built in Australia.
Another argument put forward by supporters of the Government policy is that these vessels are urgently needed, and should be made available speedily. That argument comes with ill grace from those who have slept on their rights for months. Here was a case of vital urgency, yet nothing was done. I repeat that Parliament should have been called together months ago, and this great and urgent question - if it be urgent - settled. That is the position as I see it. I have stated it several times. I do not agree with the policy of the Government in 1his matter.
My attitude is entirely in conformity with the policy which I have steadily pursued all my public life, and I invite honorable members, no matter how sharp their spears or in what poison they may have been dipped, to try a bout with me on that issue. In season and out of season I have advocated an effective defence policy for Australia. Over 22 years ago in this House, with only two supporters, one a Labour man and the other a political opponent, I urged this country to prepare while yet there was time. I believe and always have striven for a defence policy, adequate for our needs and Australian in sentiment.
But we are now asked to deal with this matter under cover of a* vote of censure. When the question came before us previously, it was discussed on the Estimates, and the Prime Minister invited honorable members to express their opinions freely on its merits. He disclaimed his intention of limiting in any way the free expression of opinion on this subject, and opinions were freely expressed. 1 voted on that occasion for the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) to reduce the defence estimates by £1 as an instruction to the Government to have the cruisers built in Australia. The House, however, with its eyes open, saw fit to reject the honorable member’s proposal. Now, by his motion, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) charges the Prime Minister with having violated a promise made to Parliament, and asks us to declare that the Government is deserving of censure for hot having the cruisers built in Australia. But how will his motion, if carried, alter things? The cruisers are now in course of construction in England, and nothing we can say or do can alter that fact. Besides, the Leader of the Opposition and his friends have frankly declared that they would not build these cruisers, and never had any intention of building them. Therefore, the diffuse protests we have heard for some hours, based upon the needs of the unemployed in Australia, sound somewhat hollow. The Leader of the Opposition says frankly that it is not part of the policy of the Opposition to build cruisers in Australia, and that his party would not have done so had it been in office. While the honorable member would censure the Government for not building cruisers in Australia and affording employment for a great number of men, if he and his party had been in office they would not have had cruisers built in Australia, or anywhere else.
This question touches upon the defence of Australia, and, therefore, I am entitled to ask honorable members opposite what their naval and military policy is. This afternoon the honorable member for Darling claimed, no doubt quite accurately, that the Labour party are m favour of adequate naval defence, but as a matter of fact the party’s defence policy is inchoate and its formulation awaits the decision of some disarmament conference, the date of which is the
Greek Kalends. In presenti, they have no defence policy at all. In the face of all that has been said, then, we are entitled to ask what their naval and military policy is. The honorable member for Darling must have known that his suggestion that the Government could have let these, contracts to Germany, where the vessels could have been built much more cheaply than in -England, was quit irrelevant and absurd. These cruisers must fit in with the naval programme of the British Empire. They are to form part of the fleet upon which rests the safety of Australia and the Empire. Assuming that the right honorable the Prune Minister is acting upon the advice of those upon whom the responsibility for formulating such- a programme rests, and that the class of those vessels, .their armament, and everything in relation to them, have been determined according to that programme. The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) said this afternoon that Australia owes Great Britain no more than it has already paid her. From that opinion I dissent. I may claim that I have -been at least as good a supporter and champion of Australia as has any man in this House. I have vigorously pressed the rights and interests of Australia when they conflicted with those of Britain. But I cannot allow the statement of the honorablemember to pass, lest the world should , imagine that that is the opinion of the Australian people. The fact’ cannot be too clearly understood that, when we speak of the naval defence forces of Australia, wo mean no more than that comparatively insignificant part which we play in its defence. As long as we are - an integral part of the British Empire, the major part in Australian defence must be . the British Navy backed by the might of the Empire. If we are told that Australia has reached a stage when it can defend itself, let the position be faced frankly; let every taxpayer in this country understand what that means ; for the millions of pounds the Government is spending upon two cruisers will be as pennies, compared with the expenditure Australia must incur if it has’ ‘ to rely upon its own efforts for “defence. That is the real’ -position in regard . to naval -defence, and it - cannot be assailed. , As :to . the . disarmament. conference, of which honorable members opposite speak so hopefully, all 1 can say is that the Government of which I was a member showed as keen a desire for peace as any other section of the community. We sent a representative to the greatest disarmament conference ever held, and we faithfully followed its directions, even to the sinking of that ship about which our sentiments were so intimately entwined. Therefore, I have nothing to fear from any gibes from the mouths of those who pose as the apostles of peace. We on this side have proved by our work that we desire peace; but, as honorable members opposite know perfectly well, and admit in the conduct of their own affairs, the best assurance of peace is to be prepared for war. Certainly, when I was leading industrial unions, I always urged upon my comrades that we could best assure that there would be no trouble by being prepared for trouble if it should come. Some honorable members spoke this afternoon of the possibility of tremendous industrial development in Australia, so that if- the necessity arose, the factories of. the Commonwealth could be converted from the pursuits of. peace to the purposes of- war. That idea is a delusion and a snare. There could be no greater illustration of the futility of such a policy than the experience of the United States of America. The greatest manufacturing country in the world, after two and a half years of preparation’, or hesitation if you like, was hurled into the great war. Its 112,000,000 people were suddenly called upon to defend themselves, not at home, but in a distant country, in order to prevent war coming to their own land. If any country in the world was in a position to change over from’ the arts of peace to the needs of war, and show what a dreadful potency there is in an aroused populace whose motto is “ Peace,” when goaded by unbearable insult and indignity into war, America was in that position. But what did it do? After twelve months of war, it had not one gun or one aeroplane in France. Its armies were to be equipped with thousands of great guns and aeroplanes manufactured in America. But the Americans fought their part in the war with British andFrench artillery, aeroplanes, and ammunition: The greatest- manufacturing country. -.in. the world: failed in the -essentials; of modern . war because its defence policy was not’ based upon preparedness. So if honorable members opposite delay the preparation of their defence policy until some disarmament conference - the date of which is not .yet fixed - tells them what to. .do, they must not expect another nation to await our readiness before making. up its mind to strike. I do not agree with the policy pursued by this Government, but no act of mine can undo it. For good or for evil the order for the construction of the cruisers has been placed in . Great Britain. The Government’s action places me in an embarrassing position, but when the Leader of the Opposition asks me to vote to put him in office so. that he may give effect to a policy which, in my opinion, is criminally inadequate to the circumstances of the country, he, asks too much; I cannot do it.
.- The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr,. W. M. Hughes) has furnished me with an inspiration, for his reference to American dependence upon French and English guns and aeroplanes enables me to address myself to a subject the discussion’ of which would not otherwise be permitted. At the outset permit me to congratulate the Attorney-General (Sir Littleton ‘Groom) upon the speech he made this afternoon. He was the only Minister who’ in any1 way ‘ faced the accusation, or had the audacity and courage to read the quotation*, from the speech of the Prime Minister’ vhich was referred to by the Leader of the Opposition. It is quite true that he explained it away, with a great flourish;’ ‘ and’ discussed it with amazing effrontery: His explanation was very simple. The Prime Minister, he said, did nOt make a promise, but he gave the Opposition an opportunity to discuss the proposed construction of two cruisers. What opportunity did the Prime Minister furnish? The Opposition has a right to speak on the Estimates, and had the Prime Minister made no promise that opportunity would still have been ours. Therefore, the Prime Minister gave us nothing. The Attorney-General asked to be allowed to explain the history of this matter as he saw it, and I, too, ask honorable members to permit me to approach the subject from my point of view. The combatants are in the ring, I have paid my,’guine’a.tor half -guinea; or nothing, and
I am looking on. A challenge has been issued by the honorable member for Dalley, who said that the Prime Minister promised that one of the two cruisers to be built for the defence of this country would be,, indeed must be, built in this country in order to promote the development of the equipment, labour, and skill necessary for the refitting of vessels of war. The Prime Minister himself has said that for those reasons it was absolutely imperative that one cruiser should be built in Australia, and he said later, “ I promise the honorable member for Dalley that nothing shall be done in connexion with the ordering of the second cruiser until this House has had an opportunity to discuss the subject in all its bearings.” Upon that understanding the matter was allowed to rest, but no such opportunity was given. That is the whole charge. Did the Prime Minister make a promise?. He did. Did he keep it? He did not. Is the charge proved? It is.
The essential fact in this case is that the last statement made by the Prime Minister was that he would give the House an opportunity to discuss the subject, and no such opportunity was given. Apart from all the camouflage as to whether the order to be placed abroad should be for one or two cruisers, I was convinced long ago, and I said in this House and upon the public platform, that the Government had made up its mind where the cruisers were to be built before the matter was even mentioned in this chamber. Probably the Government acted rightly from its own point of view. I do not blame it for pursuing the policy which it believes to be best in the interests of the country. It is the duty of any government to follow its convictions, irrespective of the protests of the opposition, and for all practical purposes this House need not have discussed the cruisers for a second. I said last year that when the Prime Minister was in England he entered into obligations for the construction of the cruisers in Great Britain. I have been told that I was wrong.
– Many times.
– The Prime Minister said, “ I give you my word as a gentleman that no such undertaking was given,” and I say, as one gentleman to another, “ I accept your assurance.” But I do know that the newspapers of Great Britain, the engineering journals, and the workers in the Clyde shipyards clearly understood, long before the matter was discussed in this Parliament, that the order for the cruisers was to be placed in Britain. I know also that, as a result of that understanding, the value of the shares of John Brown and Company increased in the market. The Prime Minister says, “I cannot help that; the rise was due to influences unknown to me. I give you my word as a gentleman that I never gave any undertaking to the British Government, although I had conversations with Ministers on the subject.” I accept the assurance of the right honorable gentleman, in spite of all evidence to the contrary. Indeed if the actual contract were before me, and I had myself witnessed it, I would still accept the word of the Prime Minister.
I have a precedent for doing this, for I recollect an occasion when he said, “I never saw the gentleman; I never intervened on his behalf; I know nothing about him, and the honorable member may examine all the documents and evidence.” The documents were examined, and although they clearly proved ‘that the Prime Minister had met that gentleman, I, as one gentleman dealing with another, accepted his assurance that he was right, and the documents were wrong. He told us in this House that he had not met or interviewed a man named Jolly. But Jolly swore in court that he had interviewed the Prime Minister, and had received communications from him as a result of which he had been able to obtain for his client, Sir Sidney Kidman, financial benefits. But I accepted the assurance of the Prime Minister as a gentleman that he was right and Jolly was a liar. And there is the outstanding fact that Jolly remains at liberty; the Prime Minister, unlike another member of his Ministry, does not prosecute Jolly for perjury, or endeavour to collect from him £10,000 for damages. The right honorable gentleman is not one of the poor men of this country. I remember another occasion when he gave his word to his then leader in these terms, “Where thou goest I shall go; thy ways shall be my ways. If thou perish, so shall I perish.”
If I saw the victim of an assault slowly recovering from a sand-bagging, and the Prime Minister gave me his assurance as a gentleman that he had not done the sand-bagging, I would accept his word, even though I saw the victim lying almost dead at his feet. I want honorable members clearly to understand that when I have the right honorable gentleman’s assurance, I do not care about evidence. If I saw the victim with his throat cut and the Prime Minister with a dagger in hie hand, 1 should know that he had not killed him, If I had witnessed a signed document and the Prime Minister denied the validity of the signature, I should accept his word. If Mr. Jolly went into a court and swore that the Prime Minister had not told the truth, I should accept the word of the Prime Minister against him. So when the right honorable gentleman tells me that he did not, twelve months ago, give a contract for the construction of these vessels overseas, and did not tell John Brown, “ under the lap,” that his firm would be given the contract, I accept his word. What else could a gentleman do? The Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) came to this chamber and endeavoured to explain away the action of the Government. Poor, miserable object, where is he now?
– Order !
– I have the apology ready, sir. The only explanation which the Treasurer tendered was that in Western Australia members of the Labour party, whilst professing that they stood for Australian manufactures and industry, had given a contract for the construction of some engines overseas. That is a nice sort of argument ! Because somebody belonging to the same party as that to which I belong did something, I am to be held responsible for it! Because the honorable gentleman is a doctor, and Crippen, who was a doctor, committed a murder, therefore the honorable gentleman committed a murder. Because Sir Henry Barwell is an advocate of black labour, and is a Nationalist, therefore all Nationalists are in favour of black labour. That is his mode of reasoning. The outstanding fact is that in Western Australia it was necessary to obtain’ a certain type of engine for haulage. If they could not have secured that particular type they would have been unable to undertake the necessary haulage. As a matter of fact, the Western Australian Labour Government is at the present time constructing engines in its own yards. In the coming elections not one honorable member opposite, whether he belongs to the Country party or to the Nationalist party, will dare advance in Western Australia the argument which the Treasurer has put forward in this chamber.
The indictment against the Government is clear and. precise, and the Government cannot answer it. All that honorable members opposite can say is “What would you do? You do not believe in defence. If you had your way no cruisers would be constructed in Australia or anywhere else.” That is quite true, so far as I am concerned. That question, however, does not arise in connexion with this matter. The Government says, “ In spite of you we are going to construct two cruisers.” Although I might have been absolutely wrong in saying that they should not be constructed, I still retain my right as a citizen, and as .a member of this House, when it has been decided that they shall be constructed, to express an opinion as to where the work should be done. Nobody can deprive me of that right. Therefore, I say, “ If you are going to construct them, construct them in Australia.” All the arguments are in favour of the adoption of that course.
Honorable members” opposite say, “ You do not believe in defence at all.” I say that I do. As the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. W. M. Hughes) said that ability to defend oneself is the evidence of manhood. I, too, believe in defence, both for the individual and for the nation. But if called on to defend myself I have a right to choose the manner in which I shall do so, and I have the right to say what methods I think will give the best results in the defence of the nation. It then becomes a question of which method shall predominate and have priority.
Is it permissible for me to point out that that which in Australia is known as the Labour movement has time after time at its conferences, which are representative of all the states, and of the most radical and progressive sections of the community, declared in favour of national defence? Honorable members sitting be- hind me have no power either inside or outside of Parliament to recede from that declaration. The only defence that Australia has ever had is that which was provided for it by the political representatives of the Labour movement. It was not the right honorable member for North Sydney ; it was not honorable members who sit opposite; it was the Labour movement, acting through its political representatives, that provided for - this country’s defence.
Why does the Labour movement stand for a system of defence ? The working men of this country, speaking through their organizations, have expressed a recognition of the fact that, apart from their country and putting aside difference of opinion regarding Empire defence, they have something to defend. They have to defend all those advantages that the working class organizations of this country have secured for them. They can see what is transpiring in the world to-day. They are aware that rapacious nations make war upon other nations whose political and social systems are not in accord with their own. They witness the spectacle of warlike nations falling upon peaceful nations and tearing them to pieces because they are striving for better conditions, as is the case in China to-day. Because they desire to preserve in this country what they have secured, and to pursue their economical and political policy without interruption, intervention or suppression, they stand for the defence of Australia. It is all rubbish to argue to the contrary, since the Labour movement has proclaimed, not only through its political representatives, but also through its industrial organizations, that it stands for the principle of national defence.
Having said that, I may be asked, “ What is the defence for which you stand ?” There are two policies of defence, and our party is divided on this question from that which sits opposite. One is imperialistic, and the other is local, national, Australian. This country has to make its choice between the two. What is the imperialistic policy of defence ? It puts Empire first. The other says, “The nation first, Australia first.” The party opposite represents the policy of “Empire first.” This party represents the policy of “Australia and the nation first.” Their system is common to all empires. It uses dominions, provinces, dependent nations, merely as subsidiaries to the Empire. In every crisis it drags in the outposts of the Empire and drains their resources for the defence of the centre. So honorable members stand for all those forms of defence that are most easily transferable from the dominions. In wars between empires, whichever wins takes the weaponless and helpless dominions and provinces of its conquered foe. That is what honorable members opposite stand for. We stand for an entirely different system. The right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), speaking of the Argentine on one occasion, said, “ The Argentine is “not a nation like ours, weighed down beneath a burden of debt contracted in the defence of the Empire.” A nation that sacrificed 60,000 men upon the field of battle, that sent to the plains of Europe 300,000 men, that expended £400,000,000 during the late war - to say that that country and its people cannot defend themselves is an insult. What rubbish it is to say that our people, with their resources, are not capable of defending their nation 1
What do we defend when we defend ourselves ? We defend not merely that which is our own, not merely that which is essentially Australia, not merely that which is clear to the working classes, but also 3,000,000 square miles of Imperial territory, and £1,000,000,000 worth of Imperial property and Imperial investments in this country. It is, therefore, not merely a contribution to our own defence, but also a contribution to the predominance of the Empire.
Honorable members opposite stand for the building of cruisers. Why? Because these are imperatively necessary? I say that they are not. Do you, sir, remember a speech in which the Prime Minister discussed the possibility of the invasion of Australia by an enemy? Do you remember that he told this House and the country that such an invasion was an impossibility ? The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. W. M. Hughes), published articles in the Melbourne Sun in which he said the same thing. Dozens of admirals and generals have testified to the same effect. The reasons given are many, but underlying every one of them is the fundamental fact that no foreign nation can make an armed invasion of this country because it has not its bases, or jumping-off grounds, near enough to Australia to enable it effectively to carry out that purpose. The other day the Melbourne Herald, and a few days previously the Sydney Sun, made a similar affirmation. The Herald said, “An English fleet could not stop on this coast for our defence because we have no naval bases.” It is because the party that sits opposite is a purely Imperialistic and anti-Australian party that it stands for a method of defence that would leave this country absolutely defenceless. That is why it stands for the building of cruisers, which are easily transferable to the far corners of the earth. That is why it stands for the building of the Singapore base, at the same time allowing the bases in Australia to rot and decay. That is why the Prime Minister is opposed to the establishment of factories in this country for the manufacture of shells. In the event of war, we should have on our coast men-of-war without bases- to which to retire for repairs, and we should not have factories which could produce shells for either a shore or a naval gun.
Honorable members opposite have no conception whatever of the proper means of defending this country. As in the past, so in the future, they propose to leave this nation without an effective instrument of defence. They are the voices of Imperialism. They stand for the money power of Great Britain, and believe in utilizing the Dominions as feeders to the central forces of the Empire. The policy of the Labour party, however, is to put Australia first. This country has a population of 6,000,000, and we have a large territory to defend. According to the Prime Minister enemy cruisers might make a raid on our coast and fire on our cities as they pass by; but has the Government made provision for any shore defence? Australia has not a single gun capable of defending its cities. This Government has not made the slightest provision for the defence of our shores, and it does not intend to do so.
If we are not attacked by an outside power, the other contingency is that the sea routes may be closed, and our ships prevented from transporting our commodities overseas. Is it proposed that the cruisers to be obtained from Great Britain shall steam backwards and forwards, keeping the sea routes open, enabling merchant ships to bring us the munitions we require ? Our trade follows dozens of routes, and is borne in the ships of all nations. It is idle, therefore, to suggest that two cruisers would be able to keep our trade, routes open.
The problem that confronts Australia is not to decide by what means we can best keep those routes open,’ but what is to be done when the ocean is closed to us, and our ports are blockaded. In the event of Australia being forced to depend on itself for its defence, how does the Government propose that it shall exist as a nation ? Ministers apparently have not considered that question. They have not even mentioned it. The only contingency that could in any way threaten the security or peace of this country is the very matter which the Imperialistic party declines to consider. But ‘it is a contingency to which we must give some thought. In the first place, we should have shore defences, for it is necessary for us to be able to safeguard our food supplies. I maintain that Australia could be a self-contained nation. We must have factories in operation for the manufacture of munitions in order to defend ourselves should we be cut off from the rest of the world. In short, we should be in the same position as Germany was in 1914 when she declared war. The point at issue is not whether Australia needs defence, but whether it should have a purely Imperialistic policy of defence or one primarily Australian.
The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. W. M. Hughes) has contributed to the debate. I do not know which way he will vote on this motion, but some members of the Ministry do. I noticed that, as he was speaking, some were at one moment filled with joy and the next moment with doubt, for they did not know which side he would take. I watched the faces of the Prime Minister and of the Honorary Minister (Mr. Marr), and I am satisfied that they are confident that he will vote with them. I can give an assurance that the right honorable member for North Sydney will vote in the proper way, and he is justified in voting as he thinks fit.
We of the Labour party take the right attitude ; we stand for the defence of Australia. We could not possibly do otherwise, since the Labour platform provides for it. The system we advocate is based on Australian lines, while the party opposite gives predominance in expenditure and priority in construction to those means of defence which could be readily transferred from Australia to other parts of the Empire, leaving this country helpless in the hour of trouble. The Labour party claims that the cruisers should not be constructed ; but if it is determined to have them they ought to be built in Australia. We do not contend that £5,000,000 should not be expended on defence. We say that, instead of being spent overseas, the money should be circulated in our own country, and upon means of defence, such as guns, munitions, and transports, the manufacture of which would provide employment for Australians, and consume materials procurable in Australia. Large importations from overseas are destructive of the principle of home defence. Should this country be cut off from the rest of the world, it is imperative that we should be able to meet all our own requirements. The Newcastle steel works are an integral part of our defence system, and they should not bc cut off from their supplies of raw material. The action of the Government is a contribution to Imperialism and Imperial defence, and it will leave Australia more defenceless than when it assumed office.
.- The hysterical outburst of the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) furnishes me with an inspiration to say a few words. I do not propose to discuss the motion, and I do not intend to repeat the answers given to the charges levelled against the Government. I should think that the reply of the Prime Minister to both parts of the motion is perfectly convincing to anybody not blinded by personal or party prejudice, or cursed with an inordinate degree of native stupidity. It has been somewhat amusing to listen te the reasons adduced by certain honorable members of the Opposition for their expectation of the .votes of some honorable members on this side. The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) claimed my vote among others, on the strength of an interjection I made during the speech of the honorable member for Darwin (Mr. Whitsitt). I do not suppose any honorable member indulges in interjections less than I do, and I suffer just as patiently as any other honorable member the ponderous platitudes of the honorable member for Hindmarsh.When the honorable member for Darwin was speaking on the Defence Equipment Bill, he remarked, “I do not feel disposed to agree to the Government giving an order for both cruisers outside Australia.” I interjected, “ The present bill does not involve the -construction of two cruisers outside Australia.” The bill, as a matter of fact, provided for the construction of two cruisers, and the Prime Minister at that stage had intimated that the Government intended to order one of the vessels abroad, leaving the matter of the second cruiser an open question. I was simply pointing out to the honorable member for Darwin that he might vote for the bill then under discussion without committing himself in regard to the second cruiser. On the strength of my interjection, the honorable member for Hindmarsh claimed that I had committed myself to the support of the proposition that the second cruiser should be built in Australia. That is a sample of the flimsy arguments that have been employed by the Opposition.
I desire to point out the absolute insincerity of the Opposition regarding the construction of the cruisers. Its attitude throughout the debate is stamped with insincerity. In a whirlwind of words, the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) formulated what he was pleased to call an Australian scheme of defence. I venture to say that not one member who listened to that speech has now the faintest idea of what that scheme is. The honorable member for Bourke quoted the Herald, the Sun, and one or two other newspapers.
Honorable members interjecting,
– I ask honorable members to restrain themselves, and save me the necessity of doing so.
– Honorable members on the Opposition side of the cham ber are censuring the Government for not giving them the job of constructing two cruisers within Australia. They voted first against the construction of any cruisers at all. What is now the attitude of a large section of the Labour party regarding the construction of the cruisers? I find that, the other day, when discussing the approaching visit of the AmericanFleet, the Melbourne Trades Hall Council passed a resolution to this effect -
That while desiring to cement the bonds of friendship between labour in Australia and the American people, the Trades Hall Council recognizes that war vessels are the concrete expression of imperialistic force and violence; that they are an incentive to international hatred; and a menace to international peace.
Recognizing that, it recommended that the officials of the council and the delegates to the council should refrain from taking any part in welcoming the American .Fleet. I ask honorable members to bear in mind that that resolution is endorsed by some members of the Opposition. To show the kind of pabulum that is served up to-day to a large section of the Australian working men, I shall quote the Sydney Worker, which I understand is the official organ of the Australian Workers Union, one of the largest and most powerful unions in Australia. In an article which appeared in that newspaper on the11th February last, I find that this kind of stuff is served up to the Australian workmen - “Militarism is the chief buttress of the existing bloodless, soulless competitive system; the Labour party should wash its hands of the whole beastly business.” It also says, “Swords are no defence, only righteousness.”
– Go on, make it up.
– I ask the House to remember that “I am compelled to rely upon my memory; I cannot read to it the exact words of the passages to which I draw attention. But the honorable member will find these statements in the Sydney Worker, a copy of which is in the Library. The article also says, “Defence is no security, only a peril, and the Labour party, when it comes into power, should blaze the trail in just and honorable dealings with outside nations.”
– Hear, hear!
– I am glad to find that the Opposition endorses those sentiments. Again, I find in the Sydney Worker of the 18th February, an article to the effect that nationalism trains boys to be potential murderers. That is a reference to the system of compulsory training introduced by the Labour party.
The article says that the only way to stop war is to induce workers not to kill workers.
– Hear, hear!
– I am glad that the article is endorsed by the Opposition. All this goes to show that the view of the Opposition is that those who have faith in the righteousness of their cause need no other weapons of defence. They are going to blaze a trail in just and. honorable dealings with other nations, and thus make themselves absolutely secure from attack! They say .that defence, as we call it, is no security, and that only righteousness and just and honorable dealings will protect this country.-
If the Opposition had the courage of their convictions and boldly said, “We will not forge weapons of defence, but will trust entirely, to the righteousness and the justice of our cause and our dealings with other nations,” one could quite understand its attitude ; but the hon.orable member for Bourke says, “ We, the Labour party, of course, have a defence policy.” For what are the Opposition censuring the Government to-day? For not giving them the job of constructing vessels of war which they say are the concrete, expressions of imperialistic force and violence, a menace to civilization, an incentive to international hatred, and a danger to international peace. They voted honestly and consistently against the construction of the cruisers, but when we militarists on this side - the nationalists - say that we are going to construct these vessels, they condemn the Government for not giving them the job. Honorable members opposite are clamouring to be allowed to construct these “ concrete expressions of imperialistic force and violence,” these vessels that are going to be a menace to international peace. They say, “For God’s sake let us make them.’” Where is their consistency? It is the utterest and veriest humbug that one can possibly imagine.
– The honorable member is a fairly good judge of that.
– I am.
– Yes, by the way the honorable member, practises it.
– I have said on the public platform, and I say it here, that I intend at every possible opportunity to tear from the face of official Labour the mask of humbug and insincerity that hides it. Of course, honorable members opposite do not like my remarks. I invite the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) to come down to my constituency.
– I have been there, and I am going again before the next Federal elections.
– I hope the honorable member will visit my constituency.
– Yes, and I sha<ll expose the honorable member’s humbug.
– He will not be there. He is away all day, earning big fees.
– The honorable member, for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) must not interject further.
– Why single me out?
– I intend to single out honorable members, and. I shall name the honorable member on his next interjection.
– The quotations that I have used and the endorsement that they have received at the hands of the Opposition show clearly that honorable members on the other side are not sincere when they claim to be in favour of a scheme of Australian defence. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) has to-night clearly pointed out that it is utterly futile to talk about a scheme of Australian defence that is not co-ordinated, and that does not work in co-operation with a scheme of Imperial defence. The honorable mem-, ber for Bourke says, “ Of course, we Labour men have a defence policy.” What is’ it? We need only go to the sitting of the Triennial Congress, which sat recently at the Trades Hall, Lygonstreet, Melbourne, to ascertain what it is. When the subject of defence came up for discussion, the meeting went into secret session. The question was discussed behind closed doors, because the delegates did not want- the people outside to know what were their real ideas on defence. One can imagine that behind the closed doors ‘ they said something like this, “ We do not believe in defence^ but what is the use of our going to the common-sense people of Australia with no defence policy; we must recognize the fact that .- the Australian people insist upon a well thought-out scheme of defence.” So behind -closed doors they formulated their scheme of defence, , which is an adequate defence . of
Australia in the air, on the land, and on the sea, providing amongst other things for the construction of submarines. In one of the articles from which I quoted was the charge that Nationalists spend the people’s money on the construction of submarines, while Labour taxes only for public utilities, which is as much as to say that the building of submarines is not a public utility. Yet one of the planks of the Labour party platform is the construction of submarines, the very thing for which the Worker condemns the National party: “Where is the consistency of the attitude of honorable members opposite? Is it not a fact that these men felt that they must . bow to public opinion and formulate a defence policy? We on the Nationalist side recognize the necessity for a defence policy for this great Commonwealth of ours. We recognize the inability of our small community to have a policy of defence that would be adequate for the defence of Australia. We, therefore, make our contribution to Imperial defence- which has been so .ridiculed by the honorable member for Bourke. We say, “ He defends not Australia who only Australia defends.” We must make our contribution in cooperation and co-ordination with the great Imperial scheme.
So far as the suggestion for the building of the cruisers in Australia is concerned, I for one am absolutely satisfied with the reasons given by the Prime Minister for the construction of both cruisers at Home. I cannot understand the attitude of honorable members opposite who desire not only to construct these vessels of war in Australia, but also to build up here an industry for workmen whose sole duty will be to forge instruments of war with which to murder their fellow- workmen in other parts of the world. To be consistent they should say, “Having said that we will not have any cruisers built at all, if you decide to build cruisers the blood be on your own heads. We shall nob touch one penny of the blood-money.” But instead of taking that stand, they are clamouring for the work. The whole attitude of the Labour party is stamped, from beginning to end, with insincerity and humbug.
.- The honorable member for Fawkner worked himself into a fine frenzy. He allowed his passion and his bias to warp his judgment. He has - a’ considerable power of judgment, but he judges things so finely with that fine conscience of his that he ie usually able to make a speech one way and to vote another. Thus, he finds himself going on the public platform and advocating protection, and sitting behind a Government that practises freetrade.
– Mr. Facing-both-ways.
– The honorable member for Fawkner is noted for facing both ways on most questions.
– Is that fair?
– The honorable member is also noted for speaking -with two voices in one speech.
– I challenge the honorable member to point to one instance in which I have done so.
– I can do so. He has the audacity to charge this party with insincerity and humbug when the charge really fits him, and fits him well. .He gave us, to-night, an example of special pleading - that special pleading in which the honorable member is so well trained. He “is able to plead without believing in the things for which he pleads. He talks of protection, and yet makes excuses for this Government which, in every direction, has violated the protectionist policy of this country. In his special pleading he used arguments that could satisfy no one possessing a single ounce of logic. Two years ago, when we were discussing the visit of the Prime Minister to Great Britain to attend the Imperial Conference, the honorable member made a speech somewhat similar to that which he has made to-night. He quoted from some imaginary catechism on socialism which no one but himself has ever been able to discover. He then spoke of peace. At that time peace was popular on the Government side of the House. It was being discussed by the British Government. The Washington Disarmament Conference had recently been held, and it was popular to talk of peace. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. W. M. Hughes) also talked of peace at that time, and assured us that we were certain of peace for ten years. Yet he has been beating the war-drum to-night. If ever there was an instance of humbug it has been provided by the Government supporters, who, not so long ago, went out cheering, with bands playing and flags flying, to sink the Australia. Now, within a few months they come forward with a programme for spending £4,250,000 to build two new cruisers to take the place of the battleship that was sunk. They told us that it was’ sunk in accordance with the decision of the Washington* Conference. As, a matter of fact, the Washington Conference did not decide that the only battleship that Australia had must be sunk. It was sunk because at that time the Government wished to beat the peace- drum, and make peace speeches. The honorable member for Fawkner cheered with the rest of his party, and accepted the peace souvenir which was issued. But they all had their tongue in their cheek, for while ‘ they were sinking one battleship they were negotiating to replace it with two vessels of a modern type so that they would still be able to take part in future imperialistic wars. I make no apology for the peace sentiments which have been uttered in the name of the Labour party, nor for the motion that was moved in this House calling upon the Government to stay their hand in connexion with the proposed construction of these cruisers.’ At the time t,hat was moved the British Prime Minister was negotiating with the President of the ‘United States of America for the calling of another world conference on disarmament. We believed that that was the . psychological moment for sounding a note of peace. Both sides of the House were then being represented at a meeting of the League of Nations, and we considered it “wise to ask the Government not to push forward with its proposal to build new cruisers. There is nothing insincere in the attitude of the Labour party. The honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) has put the defence policy of our party clearly before the House, and, notwithstanding that the honorable member for Fawkner .twits us with being humbugs because on the one hand we say that battleships are instruments of murder and on the other hand we say that we consider that they should be built here if they are to be built, we are content to let the country judge us. If the honorable member for Fawkner advocates war and the building of cruisers, he also believes in the Ten Commandments. In view-of this it is just as reasonable for us to question his sincerity as it is for him to question ours. We submit that we are just as desirous pf giving effect to the principles of the Ten Commandments as he is; but that does not . commend itself, to. his peculiar conscience. He has criticized the Labour party .conference because it met. … with closed doors to discuss the. important matter of Australian defence. Not one of the important matters dealt with by the Nationalist or composite party is discussed with open doors. The honorable member for Fawkner told us that he could imagine what went on behind the closed doors of the Labour party conference. He has a wonderful imagination. He is a modern Defoe, and ought to write a work of fiction. He said that he could imagine us saying that we did not believe in defence but that as the public must have something from us we must say something. I say deliberately that the honorable member for Fawkner judges us by himself. The Labour party has good reason for discussing certain questions with closed doors. It has need to. protect itself from the unfair criticism and misrepresentation of the Tory press. As the honorable member for Bourke has well said, the Australian conference of our party settled our defence policy, and it has been printed and published broadcast for the whole world to read. The honorable member for Fawkner said that the Prime Minister had replied to the charges made against him and against his Government by the Leader of the Opposition, and that if we could not understand his reply it was because’ of our native stupidity. We do understand the reply, and we are not deceived by it. I do not propose at this late, hour to. traverse the arguments that have been used in this debate, but I wish for a few moments to examine the position of the Government in the light of the explanation that the Prime Minister made. What is the position that we pin the Government down to? The honorable member for Darwin (Mr. Whitsitt) told us that he was under the impression that he would have an opportunity to discuss the definite question of where the second cruiser should be built. I, and other honorable members, were’ also under’ that impression. If the Prime Minister did not intend us to gather that from his statement, he expressed himself in such an ambiguous way that he’, deceived- us. I pin my faith to his definite statement made in this House on the 30th July, as recorded ‘ on page 2604’ of Hansard. He then said - ‘ ‘
The question of where the ‘Second cruiser shall be’ built will be submitted for the . determination of this House;..’
Was .that done? Is there any honorable member on the Government side of the House who will suggest that the Government submitted that question for determination by the House ? If that has not been done, the Prime Minister’s promise has been definitely broken. I say that it was not done.’ Nothing of the kind was done. The Prime Minister also said on that occasion -
In arriving at a .decision on that question it is essential that the House shall be able to gauge exactly what it would cost to build one of the vessels” in Great Britain, and also what it would cost to build one of them here.
Has that .information ever been given to honorable members? I say that it was not given until after the contract for building the cruisers had been let. We indict the Government on the charge that it did not give ns the opportunity, after the information was available) on which we could “ gauge exactly “ what it would cost to build a vessel here, to decide whether it should be built here. The Prime Minister, in his reply to our charges, twisted and turned the whole question. He said : “ Bead my September statement. I said then that the Government would take full responsibility for dealing with the tenders.” He puts one interpretation on that statement and we’ put another on it. The statement may bear the interpretation that the Prime Minister puts upon it, but it also bears the interpretation that we put upon ifc. But let us look at the matter from the Prime Minister’s point of view. If it means what he says it means, we simply reach this position, that in September he had decided not to fulfil the promise that he made in July, and that he told this Parliament that he intended to break his July promise. The circumstances under which the September speech was made are significant. When he made the definite promise in July this House was dealing with the bill to authorize the expenditure of the money. It was exercising the only control it has over the Government, namely, that of controlling public expenditure. By September the construction of the cruisers had been agreed to, and the Prime Minister decided then that he would not keep his July promise. Later on he was confronted with his definite promise by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony), and he said, .” We will give opportunity for a full discussion of this matter.” ‘ He now says that’ he gave :that” full- opportunity when the (Estimates were under discussion.. .’. He told us in his speech a day or two ago that what he meant when he said the Government would give opportunity for a full discussion was that the House would have a full opportunity to discuss his statement; that the Government would take full responsibility for its action in’ dealing with the tenders. Did ‘the honorable member for Darwin or any other honorable member understand that that was what the Prime Minister meant ? Surely the Prime Minister does not think that we are a mock parliament or a sort of debating society. What we wanted was a chance to vote upon the definite question of where the second cruiser should be built. We wanted to say whether it should be built here or in some other country. That was the promise, and it was not fulfilled. No subsequent statement, whether ambiguous or clear, can relieve the Prime Minister of that promise. He says, “It was made perfectly clear what the Government stood for.” Then the Treasurer came along, and in an attempt to make it more “ perfectly clear,” finding thai? he could not quote a statement by the Prime Minister to do so, quoted a statement made by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. W. M. Hughes), in which that gentleman said that no doubt this would be done in recess by the Government itself. The Treasurer said that that proved that the Government intended to take the responsibility without calling Parliament together. That is not an interpretation or a justification of the Prime Minister’s statement. It is merely an accusation that they were going to betray this Parliament and determine the matter without the consent of Parliament. Then there is talk of time being of the essence of the contract; that the Government could not wait to call Parliament together. Do honorable members know when the money was allotted for the cruisers? It is two years ago this month! Twelve months ago, when the Defence Equipment Bill was before this House, the Prime Minister made the statement that one year had then elapsed since the money was allotted. It is now two years since it was allotted, and yet the Government could not extend the time tor . accepting tenders for two months, or call this Parliament, together two- months earlier to. give it” -a. voice- in the’ ‘settlement of the question. ‘ In’ spite ‘ of this, ‘ we are told that there is nothing in our charge that Parliament was deceived, and that the work was done without consult: ing it. Let us consider the statements in their order. In June the Prime Minister said that , there was to he no decision as to where the second cruiser was to be built until the whole of the facts were put before Parliament. The whole of the facts have never been put before Parliament. The right honorable gentleman said in July that the House would be given an opportunity to determine where the second cruiser should be built, when it would be in a position to gauge exactly the cost. That could not be until after the calling and receipt of the tenders. Then he said in September that the Government would take the responsibility, although that meant that he did not intend to keep his previous promise. When we confront him with this, he gives another interpretation, and dodges about from one place, to another, so that we cannot nail him down to anything. I am reminded by his action of the blackfellows description of a flea : “ The moment you put your finger on him you find that he is not there.” That is the position of the Prime Minister.
In July - it will be found on page 2605 of Hansard - the Prime Minister said -
If we are to be in a position to meet the defence requirements of this .’country it is essential to encourage industry.
I want honorable members to note that. That is one of the reasons we were given in favour of constructing a cruiser in Australia. Now, we may take it that we are not encouraging this industry, and are therefore not going to be in a position to meet our defence requirements. We were told that it was essential to encourage industry for this purpose, but the Government has now run away from its defence policy. It does not believe in defence. Honorable members opposite talk about the party on this side not believing in any defence policy. They twit us with being inconsistent, but what about their own inconsistency? The Prime Minister made the statement that the Government was most anxious that the cruisers ‘ should be built in this country, and he gave three reasons. One was to promote industry, and another was to make provision for the construction of further units. The building of the cruisers was only a preliminary of the great naval scheme of the great Nationalist composite government. The Minister for Defence said that other boats would become obsolete and new boats would have to be added to the’ Navy. This was only the beginning of the Government programme, and it was essential according to the Prime Minister to make provision for the construction of further units. Another reason given why it was desirable to build the second cruiser in Australia was that inevitably these vessels would require repairs, and the statement made was that we could not repair them until we had actually built ships of the same class. Repairs are inevitable, and as we are not building the vessels in Australia we shall not be able to repair them. The Prime Minister has run away from that postition, and says that our men can acquire the necessary training to enable them to repair these boats by building a seaplane carrier, which is a different type of vessel altogether.
In a few words, I should like to examine the last reason given by the Prime Minister, and emphasized by the Treasurer, which is to my mind the most amazing reason ever given why a Government should turn away from its own policy. Members of the Government professed to be unanimous in their desire to build the second cruiser in Australia according to the definite statement of the Prime Minister on the 51h September. That definite statement allayed all our fears, and when Parliament rose, honorable members firmly believed that the second cruiser would be built in ‘ Australia. What honorable members on this side fought for in dealing with the Estimates was that the two cruisers should be built in Australia. It was then with us a foregone conclusion that one would be built here. What is the reason why the Government ran away from its policy ? When attacked on the ground that it was not a saving to send money across the sea instead of having it spent in Australia, the Prime Minister abandoned the contention on that point as the sole reason for having these vessels constructed abroad. He then said that that was not the only reason, and we might consider it worth while to spend the extra £800,000 if that would mean the establishment of a new industry in Australia that would have continuity of orders. “But, he said, there is no guarantee of continuity.” Why ? “ Because the Labour party does not believe in a Navy.” The Government cannot carry out its policy, because the Labour party does not believe in that policy. To make sure that that is not misrepresenting the Government’s view, I quote the Treasurer, the leader of the second half of this composite government, who cited the fact that it had given over 60 per cent, preference to have certain locomotives built in Australia. He said, “ You did not censure us for that.” Of course we did not, because we approved of that action of the Government. He then said, “ It was done by executive act and you did not condemn us.” No, because the Prime Minister had made no promise to the House to bring that matter before Parliament for consideration. Some things have to be done by executive act. The Treasurer told us that in the building of vessels for the lighthouse service the Cockatoo Island Dockyard was given a special preference to secure the production of an Australian article. Then the honorable gentleman asked - backing up the statement of the Prime Minister - ‘ Why could not similar action be taken with regard to the building of the cruisers as was taken in connexion with the building of locomotives and of vessels for the lighthouse service?” Let honorable members listen to his extraordinary answer to that question. “ Because the Labour party has no defence policy.” This is the Government which we are told has great vision, and stands for a definite naval policy. The Treasurer said that there is no guarantee of continuity of work. Therefore, the ‘Government has no faith in its policy or in its future. It is without faith or hope, and helpless to the last degree. What can be said of a government which stands before the people of this country claiming to have a fixed policy, and then says, “ We cannot go on with it. We cannot even make a start with it, because the members of the Opposition are of a different opinion, and we might go out of office”? They remind me of the man who was asked to give consent to his daughter’s marriage, and refused because the proposed soninlaw lived on the banks of the Murray River. He said, “I am not going to have my poor little grandchildren drowned.” The Government take up a similar position on this question. They will not launch the shipbuilding in- dustry, and will not help to build it up. It should be remembered that we would not be starting new dockyards and installing new plant. The dockyards and the plant are there, and the workmen are there, or most of them; although week after week some of them are being put off. We are told that the Labour party is not sincere on the question of finding work for the unemployed. Honorable members opposite say to us, “ If you had your way there would be no work given in Australia. No cruisers would be built, and the unemployed shipwrights would not be given work.” If this money, amounting to about £4,250,000, were not spent on building two cruisers at Cockatoo Island, it would still be in Australia, and be available for expenditure on other works. Surely the Government could have found in this great undeveloped country of ours other avenues in which to spend it. It would seem that if we take from them the opportunity to spend the money on cruisers, they are helpless. We on the other hand would not be so helpless. We could spend the money in finding work for our own people. We could even spend it on more adequate means of defence than these two cruisers can ever be. That is my answer to honorable members on the other side, whose great argument is that because, as a gesture of peace, we were opposed to the building of cruisers as an Imperialistic and not an Australian way of defending this country, we would let the workers go workless.
I repudiate the insinuations of the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) and his slanders of the Labour party. That party has always been bold and fearless. It has not been afraid to tell the people what it stands for. It has not been blown about by every passing breeze. When the jingo spirit was high in Australia it was not afraid to oppose conscription. It has always stood for the development of Australian industries. As the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) has said, it stands for Australia first, and it claims that if any money is to be expended, it should be spent in Australia for the development of Australian industries, and to give employment to Australian workmen.
.- I shall not occupy many minutes in my reply to the statements that have been made upon my motion. If ever a censure motion launched against the Government has been justified beyond a shadow of doubt by the records of Parliament, it is the present motion. It will be admitted by all who take the trouble to read this debate that honorable members1 on the other side have carefully evaded the point at issue. The charge against the Government is that it is deserving of the severest censure - for its flagrant breach of faith in failing to honour the definite promise of the Prime Minister to consult the House before determining where the second cruiser should be built, and for its anti-Australian action in sending millions of pounds out of the country for the construction of both cruisers abroad.
The Prime Minister contends that he did not break his promise, but I shall endeavour, as briefly as possible, to place the facts on record, and so that those who read this debate may, at its conclusion, ‘ see exactly what has happened in this matter, I shall again read the statements I used in opening the debate. On the 27th June, 1924- Hansard, page 1710- during the course of the debate on the Defence Equipment Bill, the Prime Minister said -
Upon_ this measure the House must come to a decision regarding the first cruiser, -but no decision will be arrived at in regard to the second cruiser until the whole of the facts and the circumstances have been again placed before the House, and the House has had an opportunity of expressing its views upon them.
That clear and definite statement was made when the Prime Minister was asking the House to vote £2,250,000, or thereabouts for the building of cruisers, and, on the strength of- his assurance, honorable members on his own side of the House agreed to allow the proposal to pass. Subsequently, on the 30th July - Hansard, page 2604 - the Prime Minister referred to this matter again, saying -
The question of where the second cruiser shall be built will be submitted to the determination of the House when the general defence policy is before us. In arriving at a decision, it is essential that the House shall be able to gauge exactly what it will cost to build one of the vessels in Great Britain, and what it will cost to build one here.
It was, on his part, a reiteration of his previous statement that the matter would be considered by Parliament when it had been supplied with all the particulars as to the cost of construction in Great Britain and Australia. I ask honorable members whether we have been supplied with those particulars. It is well known that when the matter was subsequently discussed in this House tenders had not even been invited. How, then, could it be claimed that effect had been given to this verydefinite promise made by the Prime Minister ? On the 4th September - Hansard, page 4050 - the Prime Minister said -
After the tenders have been received, the Government will take whatever course it considers best in the interests of Australia.
Prior to this debate, at Ballarat and elsewhere, the Prime Minister rested his case on that statement. I venture to say that, until I brought them under the notice of the House, he was not aware that the other statements to which I have referred appeared in Hansard. He said that he believed that the Leader of the Opposition was in agreement with him and had said so, but I never made such a statement. There is clear evidence, however, that when he made his last statement he was referring to the first cruiser only, and that the promise he had made in regard to the second cruiser would be carried out. In proof of my assertion, let me quote the Prime Minister further. On the 5th September, the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony), who has played a very prominent part in this discussion, asked the Prime Minister whether the House would have the right to discuss the question of building a second cruiser, and the right honorable gentleman said something in reply which he did not quote on Friday last when he was replying to my motion. It is something, also, which other honorable members, with the exception of the Attorney-General, have not quoted. It is as follows: -
I most certainly give the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) my assurance that the fullest opportunity will be given to the House to discuss the question of where the second cruiser shall be built. When the Defence Equipment Bill was being considered, I gave the undertaking that the Government would not take any action in regard to the second cruiser until the House had had a further opportunity to discuss the matter.
That was further reiteration of his former promise that when the information was available this House could deal with the question of where the second cruiser would be constructed. Evidently that statement escaped the notice of honorable members until this debate commenced. The Government now defends itself by saying that the promise of the Prime Minister was complied with when the debate took place on the Defence Estimates.
But that was not an opportunity in accordance with the Prime Minister’s promise. It occurred a few days after the undertaking given on the 5th September, and in the meantime no tenders had been received, and the House was not, and could not be, in possession of data as to the comparative costs of construction in Australia and abroad. The case against the Government is so clear that I cannot understand the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell), with his legal training and experience, being unable to appreciate it. The promise of the Prime Minister was made repeatedly until the 5th September. Within a few days the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony), acting within his rights, moved a reduction of the Estimates for the purpose of getting a direction from the committee that not one cruiser only, hut both should be built in Australia. His amendment was defeated, but that discussion had nothing to do with the promise made by the Prime Minister. It concerned an entirely different matter, The Prime Minister did not participate in the debate, and, but for the amendment moved by the honorable member for Dalley there would have been no debate at all upon that subject. There can be no burking of the issue. The statement made by the Prime Minister is in Hansard, and any one who reads it can come to no other conclusion than that a definite promise, which was repeated on three occasions, was broken. It is futile for honorable members to shelter themselves behind the debate on the Estimates. The Government afforded no opportunity for discussion on that occasion, because the honorable member for Dalley, in raising the issue on the Estimates or in Committee of Supply at any other time, was only exercising his ordinary rights and privileges. Indeed, the Government could not at that time give the House the promised opportunity to discuss the matter, because the tenders which were to produce the required information for the guidance of honorable members had not even been called for. Honorable members may vote as they please, but in twenty years of public life I have never known a motion of censureto be sowell founded as is this one. The indictment has been proved to the hilt, and with confidence I leave to the people the decision of whether or not the Government has been recreant to the best interests of Australia in ordering the construction of cruisers abroad, instead of having the work done within the Commonwealth, and so giving employment to our own people.
Question - That the motion be agreed to - put. The House divided.
Majority . , 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until 11 o’clock a.m. to-morrow.
House adjourned at 10.34 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 18 June 1925, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1925/19250618_reps_9_110/>.