9th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker (Rt. Hon. W. A. Watt) took the chairat 11 a.m., and read prayers.
Sir AUSTIN CHAPMAN presented a petition from residents in Michelago and surrounding districts, praying that extensive deposits of marble and other material therein situated might be drawn upon for the construction of works in the adjacent Federal Capital Territory.
Petition received and read.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. Last night, on the motion for the adjournment of the House, I made reference to the Australian, dried fruits industry. I was then under the impression that, pursuant to the legislation passed by this Parliamentlast year while I was abroad, a board was appointed to control both the export and interstate branches of the industry. I have since learned that the board I referred to last night only deals with dried fruits for export. I wish to say that I regret having mentioned it, or any one connected with it, in the manner that I did. From what I can gather, I believe that it is rendering good service to the industry. It is only right, therefore, that I should make this explanation. The state hoard is solely to blame for the unsatisfactory conditions that I referred to.
australianrepresentation atgeneva in 1924 and 1925.
– Will the Prime Minister inform us whether any change was made in the personnel of last year’s Australian delegation to the League of Nations Assembly at Geneva after it left these shores? My question is prompted by a passage which appears in a book by Signor Nitti, the cx-Premier of Italy, which deals with the proceedings at that Assembly. The writer refers to a speech made by “ the Australian representative, Sir Matthew Carlton.” Will the Prime Minister inform me whether the “ Sir Matthew Carlton “ referred to is identical with Mr, Matthew Charlton, who is the Leader of His Majesty’s Opposition in this House?
– I am not aware of any change having taken place in the personnel of last year’s Australian delegation to the League of Nations Assembly. I can only assume that the “ Sir Matthew Carlton “ referred to is the distinguished Leader of the Opposition in this House, Mr. Matthew Charlton. I have no knowledge of the honour of knighthood having been conferred on him by the British Government, nor of his having received such recognition at the hands of any other Government.
– Will the Prime Minister state the reason why the Government has altered its policy in regard to the composition of Australian delegations to the League of Nations Assembly, and why it has not this year appointed a Labour delegate to proceed to Geneva?
– The representation of Australia at the Geneva Assembly of the League of Nations is considered each year by the Government when the necessity to appoint a delegation arises. The fullest consideration was given to the matter this year before the names of the delegation were announced.
Position of German Nationals
– In view, of the entry of large numbers of Mediterranean people into Australia, will the Prime Minister give this House an opportunity to discuss whether the prohibition upon the entry of German nationals should not be removed, so that this Nordic blood may be available to Australia?
– The subject of immigration may be discussed fully in the debate on the bill now before the House.
– Will the Prime Minister provide the opportunity in the Bill now before the House for honorable members to decide definitely whether or not German nationals shall continue to be prohibited from entering Australia?
– It would not be appropriate to introduce that matter into the bill, although it may be debated.
construction of national library Building.
– Has the attention of the Government been drawn to a paragraph which appears in the Melbourne Herald on the 1st July, in which it is stated that Mr. J. S. Murdoch, the Commonwealth Architect, has said that it would take eighteen months to prepare plans for the permanent building for the National Library at Canberra, and another eighteen months to construct the building? Does not the Government think that the wish is father to the thought? There appears to be a desire in some quarters to delay in every way possible our removal to Canberra.
– I shall direct the attention of the Minister concerned to the paragraph mentioned. I understood that Mr. Murdoch referred to the National Library building, not to the Parliamentary Library, and that he also said that the books of the National Library would, for the time being, be housed in the Parliamentary Library.
– I have received an intimation from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) that he desires to move the adjournment of the House this morning for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, “ The presence of the Australian Cruiser Brisbane in Chinese waters.”
Five honorable members having risen in their places,
.- I should not have taken this course had I not deemed it absolutely necessary to do so in the interests of Australia. This matter was discussed here on the 25th June. Immediately we received information through the press that the cruiser Brisbane was in Chinese waters, the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) called the attention of the Government to the matter. He and I both urged that prompt action should be taken to prevent Australian warships from being used to interfere in the internal affairs of China. It may be as well for me to state briefly the information on the subject that we had at that time. The press reports read as follows : -
In the Canton fighting 400 Chinese were killed. The Chinese, who started the attack, were led by a Russian officer. The British Foreign Minister announces that the hand of another Government” has been traced in the disturbances.
A British battalion (1,000 troops) is hurrying from Hong-kong toCanton, 90 miles away up the Pearl River.
Later it was stated -
It is estimated that 400 Chinese were killed and many hundreds injured by the fire from French and Portuguese gun-boats, and by British seamen following the attack on the Shameen (European settlement) on Tuesday afternoon.
About 2,000 cadets from the Whampoa (Canton) naval college, under cover of a parade of women and children, fired into the Shameen, killing Mr. J. Pasquier, a French merchant, and wounding the Commissioner of Customs (Mr. Arthur Edwardes), and Mr. V. G. Murrell, of the firm of A. S. Watson and Company.
The report referred to the. fact that the Brisbane was in Chinese waters at that time, and continued -
In addition to the Brisbane, H.M.S. Vindictive, which is on the China station, is also commanded by an Australian naval officer, Captain G. F. Hyde.
The Australian fleet, consisting of Sydney, Adelaide,Stalwart, Anzac and Tasmania left Sydney yesterday on a winter cruise, proceeding north.
Although there is no present intention there is always the possibility that the ships, which could re-fuel ait Thursday Island, might proceed to China waters should the trouble there develop on any considerable scale.
Those statements induced the honorable member for Batman to bring this matter before the House. I supported him on that occasion, and we both urged the Prime Minister to take immediate action to prevent any Australian warship from interfering in the internal affairs of China. Whatever dispute that country may have within its own boundaries certainly does not concern Australia. No one will argue for a moment that we, who exclude Asiatics from Australia, have any justification for interfering in their domestic troubles. We wisely exclude them because of our
White Australia policy. We are told that in Australia certain individuals of foreign origin have taken a hand in matters that vitally affect the welfare of this country, and that certain legislation has been introduced to counteract them. Peoples of other countries who read the debates of this Parliament will naturally come to the conclusion that Australia is in danger of a. serious upheaval because of the action of anarchists, communists, and others, though everybody here knows that the number of these men in Australia is infinitesimal. Only recently several communists contested the New South Wales elections, and but few votes were recorded for them. These men have no time for the Labour party. Then we are told by the British Minister for Foreign Affairs that persons from some other country, probably Russia, are interfering in the domestic affairs of Great Britain and other European nations. These statements are greatly exaggerated to suit the purposes of the Government.
The Prime Minister said ten days ago that he would let the House know at the earliest possible moment the position as far as the Brisbane was concerned. Nothing has since been heard from him. I enter my protest against Australia interfering . in the affairs of other nations without knowing anything of the circumstances, and especially at a time when Parliament is sitting. The Prime Minister should have communicated with the British Government asking why it had sent the. Brisbane to take part in the disturbances in China., and also why an Australian officer was in command of the Vindictive, another vessel in Chinese waters. We are undoubtedly now playing a part in the affairs of China., M is well known that for many years the Chinese people have had considerable difficulty respecting the government of their country. The great populace of China, although downtrodden, is awakening and becoming more enlightened with the spread of education. The people are endeavouring to improve their conditions, and why should we”, knowing nothing of the circumstances, send our war vessels to China to assist in quelling disturbances there. Such action cannot be justified from an Australian point of view. On the 2nd July the Prime Minister, in reply to the hon- orable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan), made the following statement: -
Reverting to the question of the Australian cruiser Brisbane’s possible participation in the Chinese trouble, Mr. Brennan asked the Prime Minister in the House of Representatives yesterday whether he was informed as to the position of the Brisbane, and whether he would assure the House that the vessel would not be engaged ‘in belligerent operations in China or elsewhere without the consent of Parliament.
The Prime Minister replied that the Brisbane was at Hong Kong on 30th June, attached to the British- China squadron. He could give no guarantee to the House as to what action the Brisbane would have to take while there, as the squadron might have to be used for the purpose of protecting the lives and property of European residents.
The Prime Minister then gave the impression that the Government was taking no action, leaving the matter entirely in the hands of the British Government. An arrangement was entered into at the last Imperial Conference whereby the Brisbane was to be exchanged for a British vessel, so that valuable experience mightbe gained by our naval men. I, myself, do not approve of the exchange of war vessels. It is unnecessary, because our naval men, in efficiency, compare favorably with those of Britain, or of any other country. They need no tuition other than what they gain here. That was proved during the recent war. But even if exchanges are made, there is no justification for this Government permitting the British Government to send an Australian war vessel, manned by Australians, to take part in a dispute in China. .We wish to live in peace and quietness and to remain on friendly terms with all nations. How can this be done if we permit our vessels to interfere in the affairs of other nations? What was there to prevent the Prime Minister from informing the British Government that, whilst agreeing to the exchange of vessels, our warships should not participate, in foreign disputes? We wish to avoid trouble with Asiatic and other countries. International law says that domestic legislation is a matter for each country to settle for itself. There was strong opposition to the Protocol of the League of Nations because it was thought that its adoption might interfere with our domestic freedom, and our White Australia policy. Yet, although we contend that there should be no interference in our domestic affairs, the Government allows one of our own war vessels to interfere in the domestic affairs of another nation. No Australian war vessel should take part in the disputes of other countries unless this House has approved of such action. It would be a different matter if Great Britain were embroiled in war and we were fighting for our existence. What will be the international effect of the present situation? Everybody knows that the international position is very unsatisfactory. The League of Nations is doomed to failure, chiefly because of the action of Great Britain itself.
– That is not so.
– Mr. Chamberlain last week stated definitely, on behalf of the British Government, that nothing further could be done respecting the Covenant. The British Cabinet is aware that the Covenant is not satisfactory, and does not give power to the League to deal with international disputes. If the great nations are not prepared to extend or strengthen the powers of the League, I am perfectly justified in saying that to maintain it is a waste of money, and that its value is mythical. International complications may be caused by what is now happening in China, and I, for one, protest against establishing a precedent for Australia by allowing the cruiser Brisbane to remain in Chinese waters. The Government should let the people know exactly what is happening. We wish to live within our rights and to have complete domestic jurisdiction. But if we interfere with another country claiming similar rights we are looking for trouble. We in Australia have decided that the Chinese are not to enter this country. We had a perfect right to do that; but if we follow up that decision by interfering with Chinese domestic affairs, I ask this House how long does it expect international law to stand? At the meeting of the Assembly of the League of Nations one of the main points discussed by the Asiatic representatives was the calling of another convention to alter the present international law, and it was because the other representatives were against it that a move was not made in that direction. The Asiatics feel that they are not getting a fair deal, and that feeling will be greatly intensified if we allow our warships to go abroad and interfere in their domestic troubles.
Eventually the answer to such interference must be a combination of Asiatic nations with certain white nations against the other white nations. Many years may elapse before that development occurs, but the possibility of it stares us in the face, and its realization is being hastened by actions such as this Government has taken. If we think that we can enter into compacts with a few strong nations to rule the world, and that the other nations will quietly submit to such domination, we are making a mistake. The Asiatic nations have advanced a long way in political thought during the last 50 or 60 years, and they will resent action of that kind. Australia has no right to interfere with the internal affairs of any other nation, and the Labour party, when it created the Australian Navy, laid down the principle that it should be owned and controlled by Australians. The sending of the Brisbane to China, however, is the first evidence that the navy is being handed over to the British Government. No other construction can be placed upon what has happened. If we enter into arrangements whereby our warships are removed from our own coast and placed underthe control of the British Government, which is constantly embroiled in difficulties in different parts of the world, we must inevitably be drawn into some conflict. The Chinese nation, if it were sufficiently strong, might reasonably be expected to resent the presence of the Brisbane on its coast at this time as a direct menace to its independence, and to do everything within its power to avenge the insult.
– Why should it not ?
– There is no reason why the Chinese should not defend their national independence. Australia has no right to interfere in China’s domestic affairs,. If the Chinesepeople had done anything inimical to the interests of Australia or its citizens we should be justified in protecting our own people, but so long as we exclude the Chinese from our country and claim the right to manage our own affairs as we think fit, we are not justified in sending a ship manned by Australians to China to participate in the suppression of a domestic rising. We have no definite information as to the part the Brisbane has taken in this trouble, but we know that it is in Chinese waters, that the Britishers have participated in the fighting, and that’ a large number of lives have been lost. As it is admitted that British bluejackets fired upon the Chinese people we have clear evidence that the warships on the scene were engaged in the disturbance. The Prime Minister has been tardy in this matter. He should have taken action when the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) first brought the matter up in this chamber, and should not have allowed a week to elapse before answering in the way he did. Australia does not desire to be involved in war or to interfere in other people’s internal concerns. We claim the right to work out our own destiny, and we concede the same right to other people. Our interference in foreign affairs has already proceeded too far. Prior to the war nothing of this sort could have happened. When the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) was at the head of the Government he always insisted upon the maintenance of the Australian Navy as a separate entity. That policy should be continued. The mere fact that Australia participated in the great war is no reason why we should be involved every time Great Britain moves in foreign affairs. If we consent to be dragged at Britain’s heels, we shall bring trouble upon ourselves in the near future. I brought this matter forward because of its importance, and the necessity for a protest being voiced in this House against an Australian warship being employed in a domestic disturbance in a foreign country. If ‘the Government is not prepared to advise the British Cabinet, in accordance with the views I have expressed, I hope that at least reports of the debate will be published in England, so that the British Admiralty may realize that its action in sending the Brisbane, manned by Australian bluejackets, to China, does not meet with theapproval of a big section of this House, representing, probably, the majority of the people in Australia.
.- The issue raised by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton)’ would be of considerable importance if the facts were anything like the statements he has made; but they are very different, and I can hardly credit that the honorable gentleman believes what he has said regarding the present trouble in China. He dealt with it as if the foreign powers were deliberately interfering in a matter of Chinese domestic jurisdiction. That is far from being so. Anybody who takes an interest in foreign affairs, and has followed closely the troubles that have arisen in China, knows that they are in no sense of a domestic character. In past years, China entered into treaties by which foreign countries were granted certain rights, and at what are known as the treaty ports, large foreign settlements have developed. In recent years, these treaties have received a good deal of consideration from the nations of the world, and they were freely discussed at the Washington Conference. In fact, one of the treaties concluded at that Conference dealt with this matter. As a result of negotiations between representatives of all the Powers and the Chinese Government, great progress towards a solution of the problems had been made, and an arrangement by which the development of Chinacould proceed, and the difficulties experienced over a long period of years would disappear, seemed imminent. It is very regrettable that, at this stage, when the prospects of China were brightening, anti-foreign riots should have occurred. The Leader of the Opposition stated that these riots are in some way connected with industrial disputes, and the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan), when speaking on this matter a few days ago, emphasized that view.
– And stretched it, too.
– Possibly he did. At any rate, he said that Australia was interfering in a Chinese industrial dispute. That is not so. These troubles have been fomented by the student class, and are directed against the foreign elements in China. These students have been educated abroad, and have absorbed western ideas. At this moment, I am not prepared to discuss whether or not there is any justification for their agitation, but I do regret that it should have occurred at a time when a settlement of China’s problem seemed to be at hand. China has a very large foreign population. How those people became settled there is of no concern at this moment. They are there, just as foreigners are settled in other countries, and one of the most sacred obligations of any nation is to ensure the safety of the nationals of other countries who are legitimately within its borders. So far as the British Empire is concerned, this obligation is further strengthened by special treaty provision. Unfortunately, the Chinese Government is not strong- enough to protect the foreigners in China. Riots started at Shanghai, and extended to other centres, and the lives and property of the foreign communities have, been menaced.. Accord.ingly British, Americans, Japanese, French, and Italians have co-operated in action, to protect the lives and property of their own citizens, who are legitimately domiciled in China.
– Against the wish of China.
– Does the honorable mem-ber suggest that the Chinese people are desirous of wiping’ out the foreign populations within their borders? It. is for’ the prevention of such an occurrence that action has been taken by the naval forces of the Powers, and I deplore that the facts should have been so seriously misrepresented;.. I do not propose to’ follow the Leader- of the Opposition’ in the discussion of the influences that are responsible for these troubles, but nobody who- has studied’ the present conditions in China and read the statements of those who are fomenting trouble in the Orient, can doubt that the riots have been caused loy a; foreign government that is desirous- of creating chaos in that country. I do- not propose to follow the honorable gentleman’s argument that we are interfering in domestic affairs in China. The other point raised by him was that one of our cruisers is in Chinese waters, and that the Government should not permit it. to be used in any way in connexion with the disturbance there. In this connexion two points arise : first, whether one of our cruisers should be there at all, and, secondly, if it is there, what instructions the Government should issue as to its future movements.
– The honorable member raises the point whether there should be any exchange of vessels at all.
– That is so. The Leader of the Opposition said that the party to which he belongs stands for the Australian Navy being an independent unit, and. he endeavoured to show that the Government stood for something entirely different.
– So it does.
– There is no justification whatever for’ such a charge. The honorable gentleman can have no knowledge of what took place at the last Imperial Conference, or- of the- action which I, per- sonally, took there. Moreover,,, he cannot be- aware of the- attitude of the British Admiralty. The- right! honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. W. M. Hughes;) has stated- ion many occasions that he stands for the Austraiian Navy being an independent unit, co-operating with the British Navy in times of emergency. Honorable members will remember that in connexion with the establishment of the Australian Navy a. long fight ensued. One section contended that Australia should contribute to the British Navy; that w© should, ensure our safety by having the right to call upon the British Navy in case of need. That section completely overlooked the important factor of Australian sentiment and Australian ideals. “When this question was under discussion the British Admiralty frankly claimed that it would be infinitely better for the Australian unit to be completely under its control. At the- last ImperialConference, however, the British Admiralty just as frankly admitted that the most successful way to- obtain co-operation between the British Navy and the naval forces of the self-governing parts of the Empire was to regard the latter as separate units capable of co-operation in- times of emergency. For that principle I fought, as did the right honorable member for North Sydney when he was Prime Minister. The question then arises what is the best way by which we can develop the Australian Navy. The Leader of the Opposition appeared to suggest that we can build ships, man them, and carry out the whole of the training of their personnel ourselves, that there is no need for cooperation with the British Admiralty. Might I remind him that, as yet, our navy is young ; and has not been in existence sufficiently long to have trained Australian officers capable of holding the more responsible commands:
– The Government will not allow them to be trained.
– At Jervis Bay we have a naval college, where young Australians are being trained, so that eventually they may assume senior commands in the Australian Navy. But that college has only been in existence for a few years, and the officers -undergoing training there have not reached the age or gained the experience to fit them for supreme command. Thus we are faced with this position, that if we are to adequately man our navy, we must obtain the loan of officers from the British Navy until such time as our own men have gained sufficient experience to assume command. While that isso, we are sending to Great Britain those young officers who have passed through Jervis Bay, so that, in time, it will not be necessary to rely on officers from the Imperial Navy.
– The right honorable gentleman is not answering the main point that has been raised.
– It has been objected that, not only have we instituted a system whereby officers of the British and Australian navies are exchanged, but that vessels have been exchanged also. I say, unhesitatingly, that this exchange of vessels is of considerable advantage to Australia.
– Does the right honorable gentleman approve of the Australian Navy taking part in a war with other countries ?
– The attachment of an Australian cruiser to a British naval squadron provides a splendid opportunity for its officers and men to obtain a more complete training than would otherwise be possible; they have the privilege of working with bigger units than would be possible if they were confined to the Australian squadron.
Let me now refer to the situation which arises in connexion with the cruisers which have been exchanged. Our cruiser has gone to the Chinese station, and in its place we have a British cruiser in Australian waters. What is the position of these two vessels ? Is the Australian cruiser under the command of the British Admiralty, and is the British cruiser under the command of the Australian naval authorities?
– Are Australian citizens to take part in fighting in other countries? That is the point.
– During the time for which the cruisers are to be exchanged the vessels will be under the officers in command of the respective navies, and must remain there. The Government has intimated to the British Government that it recognizes that during the period of exchange the respective forces are reduced in strength, and that while that condition exists the British Government is entitled to use our cruiser for any necessary operation, the Australian Government, at the same time, having similar control over the British cruiser.
– Then the Australian crew can take part in a war overseas.
– The British Government has also been informed that while one of our cruisers is attached to a British squadron it should not be permitted to engage in active operations with an opposing force, except to protect life and property, as in the case of China at present. That principle is admitted and subscribed to by both governments.
– Order! The right honorable gentlemen’s time has expired.
Honorable members intimating their willingness to grant an extension of time -
– I think that honorable members know that the practice of granting an extension of time, by leave, is wrong, and has, therefore, been abolished, so far as this House is concerned. There is, however, a way of overcoming the difficulty, namely, by suspending the Standing Orders in accordance with Standing Order 407. Is it desired that the Standing Orders shall be suspended to enable the right honorable the Prime Minister to continue?
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear!
Motion (by Dr. Earle Page) agreed to-
That the Standing Orders be suspended to enable the honorable member to continue his speech.
– I hope that the Prime Minister will not speak at length, because other honorable members also desire to speak.
– I am grateful to the House for the concession it has granted, and shall not occupy more than three or four minutes. This matter is, however, of such importance that the Government’s position should be made perfectly clear. I have already intimated that the British Government has been informed that this Government recognizes that, during the period for which the vessels are exchanged, they shall be under the control of the respective governments to which they are transferred ; but that they should not be used in action without the consent of the government to which they be- long, save in an urgent crisis. That arrangement will meet any circumstance that will ordinarily arise. When a major operation is contemplated, or serious complications arise, the respective governments are to he consulted. That brings us to the question of the position of the Dominions in the event of Great Britain becoming involved in war, and also to the position of Great Britain should any of the Dominions become similarly involved. I do not propose to traverse this matter at length on this occasion. In this case, the Australian Government has consented to its cruiser being used, if necessary, to protect the life and property of British citizens, and, I would remind honorable members opposite, of Australian citizens also. The Leader of the Opposition knows that many Australians are in China, and must realize that they are entitled to protection by every possible means. ‘ Let me put a parallel case. The honorable gentleman has probably not forgotten the racial riots which not long ago took place at Broome, in Western Australia. Honorable members will remember the clamour for a cruiser to be sent to Broome to quell that disturbance. Would they say that if the Concord had been at Fremantle, and under our command at th&.t time, she should not have been sent to Broome, if we had thought fit to send her to deal with the situation there ?
.- We are indebted to the Prime Minister for having at least made one thing clear - that British, and Australian cruisers also, are on our coast, and under the command of the British Government. Honorable members will, therefore, see that there is no exchange.
– I said nothing of the kind.
– The Prime Minister said the very opposite.
– I hold thai there is no exchange. As for the Broome incident referred to by the Prime Minister, it is sufficient to say that our own vessels ensure law and order in Australia. It would be a different thing if the Chinese or Italian Government sent a man-p’-war here to protect its people. The question under consideration is whether an Australian cruiser is being sent into China to deal with industrial troubles there. I point out that, no sooner had the last great war ended - the war which was fought for liberty, democracy, and self-determination - than the British shipowners dismissed the men then manning their vessels, and filled their places with Chinamen. British manufacturers, also, established new factories in China, not only in the concession areas, but also in other parts of the country. In 1922, the Chinese seamen went on strike, and the trouble lasted for a period of two or three months. On the 5th March, 1922, they entered into a compact with the shipowners, by which the ship-owners were to give them a 30 per cent, increase in their remuneration and, in addition, the seamen were to be reinstated, and receive half pay for the period of the strike. The companies named a starting day, and all men not reinstated by that day were to receive half pay. The agreement was signed by Mr. Sutherland, the chairman of the British ship-owners’ committee; and, on behalf of the Chinese Seamen’s Union, the agreement was signed by Chak ICe. It was to apply to all vessels engaged in the coastal trade, and also those trading to Java, Australia, and all Pacific ports. As the Chinese organization would not accept the word of the ship-owners, the British Government guaranteed that the agreement would be fulfilled, the guarantee being signed by Mr. Jamieson, the ConsulGeneral in Canton ; and by Luk King Fo, the secretary for the British Commission for Foreign Affairs. The British shipowners refused to honour the agreement with the seamen, as did the British manufacturers their agreement with the Chinese workers in the factories. The companies were to pay into a fund controlled by a committee appointed by the British Government, but not one penny was paid into the fund. An appeal was made to the British Government to enforce the agreement, but that Government refused to take .any action. In 192’3, the Blue Funnel Line, owned by Lambert and Holt, of which Butterfield and Squires are the compradores on the Chinese coast, not only refused to pay the money, but deliberately broke the agreement. Wages were reduced by 30 per cent, on all ships manned by Chinese. Low as was the Asiatic standard the ship-owners would not comply with the requirements of decency, but took advantage of the position, and to assist them in attaining their objectives they organized a band of strike breakers. in 1923,. when all the seamen went on strike, gunboats were ordered out, and machine-guns were mounted on the wharfs and. along the waterfront. Hundreds of workers were Iti lied in almost every port, and the organization of the seamen was smashed, simply because the British Government refused to compel the ship-owners to Carry- out; the agreement which had been violated by them in every direction. From 19-23 up to the present time the ship-owners have not paid a cent of the increase in wages which they agreed to give, although the British Government guaranteed it. Now the organization of Chinese workers embraces over 100,000 men,, and this industrial dispute is the fundamental cause of the present trouble. Since it is wholly and solely an industrial Struggle for the purpose of raising ‘ the standard of living, the efforts of the Chinese should be heartily supported by Australia. The factories round about Shanghai are not located in concession areas, but in purely Chinese territory. Instances’ of the grossest brutality have been reported. The Chinese factory system under foreign capital shows no improvement on the factory conditions that obtained in. England a century ago. The Chinese waterside workers are the main support of the industrialists in their great fight for a decent standard of living. If I wished to do so I could give details showing the manner in which the Chinese are protesting against the treatment they are- receiving. The agitation that has developed was not caused by the students but by the industrialists themselves. Everybody knows that there has been a conflict waging in China between the reactionary north and the republican south, but the treatment given .to Chinese seamen, wharf labourers, and factory workers by foreign capitalists has practically united them all, irrespective of class or avocation. The people of China have joined in military operations by way of protest against the treatment meted out to the working classes. What is the position in regard to the Brisbane? . We are told that she has gone to China to protect the lives of British subjects. Mr. Speaker, let me remind’ honorable members that China has been the most peaceful nation on earth for a thousand years. She is not a military nation. . She has accorded the utmost respect to foreigners, and they without justification have occupied her terri bones. She has threatened no lives at any time. If her people had been fairly treated there would, not have been the slightest trouble in China today. What would be thought in Australia if in an industrial, trouble a foreign power invaded our territory and shotdown our citizens? The struggle on the part of the Chinese masses should have the most hearty endorsement of the people of this Commonwealth. The lives of British subjects are in no way threatened. It is the lives and liberties of the- industrial classes in China that are at stake, and it is to assist in their degradation that British cruisers are being sent there. Now the ship-owners are enlisting the services of strike breakers. The latest news is that they are bringing men from the Philippines in. order to man the wharfs, ships, and factories under the working conditions to which the- Chinese have objected.. Strike-breakers are being brought in from Singapore, from all the ports of the Malay States, and from various parts of Asia. And yet Australia is to. take a part in assisting to increase the racial hatred- that has been bred,, and to act in the interests- of British and foreign capitalists. ‘ How can this Parliament justify such a proceeding ? We have been told, that the. Australian. Navy will never he used in. subduing an industrial struggle, but I contend that that is the object of ordering the Brisbane to the scene of the present trouble. Whatever may be the basis of the exchange of cruisers between Australia and Great Britain, I say that that is the deliberate purpose in the latest movements of the Brisbane. At least, this Government should notify Great Britain that, considering the nature of the bond entered into between the British ship-owners and employers, generally in China, and considering that they guaranteed the observance of the bond, it insists that, - although the lives of British citizens should be protected, in bo case should our cruiser be used to shoot down the operatives who are trying to improve their industrial conditions. Whatever justification there may be for naval action at Hong Kong, there can be no excuse for pushing up as far as Canton Amoy, or Foo Chow. Under the pretence of defending our own. nationals, the cruiser is to help foreign capitalists to crush the Chinese workers. We should sympathize with these unfortunate people in their efforts to improve their lot rather than use the forces of militarism to assist in destroying them. Australia has never been a party to a. more outrageous act than the proposed use <)f the Brisbane for this purpose.
– The subject under discussion is of the greatest possible importance. I shall not follow the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey)’ along the by-paths which he traversed, alluring though they may seem. He attributes the present trouble in China wholly to the efforts of the waterside workers of the country to raise their wages und improve their standard of living. It must be so, but I shall discuss the matter from the standpoint of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton), who, .to my mind, put his case fairly and temperately, and although_JI listened carefully to the exposition! of the situation given by the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), it failed to satisfy- me. It seems to me that in this matter a departure is being made from those very sound principles of policy that were laid down when the establishment of the Australian Navy was agreed to, and maintained until that Navy, after some years, became a fleet in being. The principles governing the operations of our Navy are entirely compatible with Australia’s independence and our relation to the Empire - but we own the Navy, and control it. Upon this point Parliament was emphatic. I have not
I the ^statute by me, but in the section relating to this matter it is provided that, upon a state of. wai* arising, the control of our Navy may be handed over, when the Australian Government shall approve of that being done, to the British Government, and then, but not until then, will it pass under the control of the British authorities. The mere existence of a state of war does not cause the Australian Navy to pass to British control; it is for this Government, should war arise, to decide what shall be done with our ships. What has happened in. the present case ? The Prime Minister put ‘this’ phase of the matter clearly. He said that at the last Imperial Conference it was agreed that, in order to give our officers the opportunity of the far larger field of training that the British Navy in its worldwide operations affords, there should be an exchange of officers and ships. The exchange of officers was not a new arrangement, nor was the exchange of ships new in principle. As a result, we find the Brisbane, one of our light cruisers, in China at a moment When, for some reason or other, an! act of war has been committed. The right honorable gentleman said that the. measures adopted in Chinese waters do not constitute an act of war, but have been taken for the protection of life and property there. Now, if it is not an act of war to fire upon the nationals of China in their own country in order to protect foreigners there, I should like to know what an act of war is. Let me put a converse case. Suppose that there should be a riot in Melbourne; that some of our white larri-p kins should go down Lonsdale-street and t assault the Chinese cabinetmakers there. Suppose, also, that China had a navy as strong proportionately as its population would warrant, and that ships of that navy should enter Hobson’s Bay, and shell this city under the excuse “that it was protecting the lives and properties of the cabinetmakers of Lonsdale-street, would that not be an act of war? I understand precisely all that is involved in our partnership of Empire. I have been accused, perhaps not without cause, of being a very strong protagonist of Empire. So I am, and so I always shall be. But we should not be involved in a policy. of adventure. No one would suggest that the great British Empire, which has a navy that, in fact. if. not on paper, is ,the strongest in the world, is in danger because of what is occurring in Canton to-day. It is no.t. We have not to inquire now how our nationals came to China ; nor have we to inquire how we came to Australia, or where are those whose places we have taken. Somehow the British are in China, and we are here. But I would remind the honorable member for Bourke that he/ is one who lives in a glass house, that he belongs to a race that is to be found throughout the’ world, and has achieved its position in one way only. He seems to forget this. We have a continent to defend and develop; we are less than 6,000,000; we bar out one-half of the human race, and w.e are, most emphatically, not in a position to engage in a policy of adventure. If war comes to us we must do our best. But we ought not to deliberately seek it. It .is said than an exchanged Australian cruiser falls automatically under the control of the British Admiralty, while, on the other hand, an exchanged British cruiser falls under the control of the Australian authorities. On the face of it, that looks a perfectly fair arrangement. But a British admiral is as powerless as one of Pharaoh’s mummies to commit an act of war unless the British Admiralty shall so direct him.. He is the servant of the Admiralty, and he would he broken and thrown to the wolves if he dared to fire ashot without strict instructions to do so. In the present case some onein England has instructed the admiral in charge of the China station to do this or that upon the arising of certain contingencies. Our vessel is a part of his squadron, and must obey his orders. The position of a British vessel under the control of an Australian admiral is quite different. Does any one think that the Australian admiral could direct a British vessel to commit an act ofwar? He could not do so. The British Admiralty alone has the power to give orders to ships of the British Navy. Although wespeak of our independence, we know very] well that our position is subordinate to Britain and to the Empire as a whole in these matters. But in any ease our Navy would not, unless directly ordered to do so, commit an act of war ; to do that would be foreign to the temper, circumstances, and necessities of this nation. I am not going to consider the cause of the present trouble in China. I am entirely with the Prime Minister, and disagree entirely with the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) as to that. Undoubtedly, Soviet propaganda is responsible for the trouble. Still, we have no business whatever to interfere with the internal policy of China, unless this nation should decide deliberately that we are to attack Sovietism wherever it is found, and give blow for blow. We must abstain from all interference with the domestic affairs of other countries. There is no doubt whatever that the sword of the Soviet is drawn against all nations, and that the Soviet is interfering in the internal policy of this country, and would overturn existing governments by force if it were able to do so. But I have not time to follow this line of argument further. It is said that if the Brisbane has been engaged in Chinese waters, or its seamen have taken part in what is happening there, our interference has been to protect life and property. I do not deny that. But the Brisbane should not have been so engaged - if she has been in action - unless the Government of the Commonwealth deliberately ordered it.For what has been done constitutes an act of war against China, and I say that we should do well, even at the risk of limiting the opportunities for the education of our officers, to keep out of this imperialistic entanglement. I do not believe that the people of England approve of this policy, and it is a policy odious to us to force ourselves into China because she is weak. Here is a lesson for us, too. No one would treat Japan as China is now being treated. I was at a conference when Wellington Koo had the right and the logic and Makino had only guns; but President Wilson never hesitated as to which side he would support. He gave his decision in favour of the man with the guns, and 400,000,000 of people were sacrificed. We must never forget that right without the means of enforcing it counts for little in this world. The Government would do well to consider the position which has been set out fairly by the Leader of the Opposition. I do not think that the’ policy that is being pursued by the British Government is one to which we should be committed without the Parliament and Government of the Commonwealth deliberately approving it, with their eyes open as to the consequences. For this reason, I am supporting honorable members opposite. I think the Leader of the Opposition did well to bring up this matter. It wasdiscussed by him, and I hope will be discussed by others, without heat or partisanship. For my part, I trust that the Prime Minister will see the wisdom of giving such instructions as will prevent any vessel of the Australian fleet from taking part in any act hostile to any nation in the world.
.- The present position of parties in this chamber is somewhat analogous to that of the representatives of China and Japan as described by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) ; we, on this side, have the logic, and honorable members on the Government side have the guns.
Much that was said by the Prime Minister in reply to my Leader may have been informative to some, but was for the most part irrelevant to the present discussion. I do not propose to analyse the causes of the trouble in China. Most of us who are as well informed as we can be on that very difficult problem, realize that it is partly national and partly industrial. We realize that the industrial trouble arises from the age-long quarrel of workers with their oppressors, which, in China, is, perhaps, more acute than in any other country. We realize also that behind the industrialists of China there is a movement by those who may be described as the intellectuals, to give force and effect to the national desires of the people. The Prime Minister relied on what he gave out as certain main facts to justify the inclusion of an Australian man-of-war in the British squadron in Chinese waters. At the present moment he said that the object was the protection of the ‘lives and property of British subjects, and, also, he added emphatically, of Australians. My answer to that is that any excuse is better than none. But I venture to ask the right honorable gentleman where he finds a principle of international law which enables him to declare that an Australian battleship is to play the part of policeman, all over the universe, wherever there may be a local quarrel between our own citizens and the people of any particular country? I suggest that when the honorable gentleman was tickling the ears of his supporters, who were giving him encouragement in his declaration of the principles of international law, he was obviously quoting from a text-book which originated in the office of the National Federation, and which has no established authority in this or any other country. There is a duty imposed on every country to protect its nationals wherever they may be, but there is a well recognized method of performing that duty when there is not a state of war existing. If in any civilized country of the world an outrage is committed, or believed to have been committed on a British subject, representations of a diplomatic character are immediately exchanged between the Governments of the two countries concerned. 1 ask the Prime Minister whether he would seriously argue that in any such circumstances it is competent for Britain or
Australia to send a warship to administer speedy judgment, and take the law into its own hands by firing into the territory of another country. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. W. M. Hughes), whose interesting speech I followed throughout, used an illustration very similar to one which was in my own mind. I was about to put it another way. Suppose that in the United States of America American citizens got into local trouble with our own nationals, or with British subjects - because, after all, we are separate nations though we speak the same tongue - does the honorable member suggest that we would be entitled, in those circumstances, to send a British warship to the littoral of the United States of America and start pot-shotting Americans in their own country ?
– Does the honorable member suggest that the two cases are analogous ?
– No, the two cases are not quite analogous, because America would be able to hit back, and China is not able to hit back. That is the only extent to which they are not analogous. Of course, we would not dare to do such a thing. Diplomatic and respectful representations would be exchanged between the Government of the Empire and the Government of the United State3 of America.
– The honorable member knows that America can protect foreigners in that country, and that China cannot protect foreigners in China.
– I am not here to pass judgment between the standards of civilization of nations. I remind the right honorable gentleman that China takes an honoured place in the League of Nations, and was represented at the Washington Conference. She is as much entitled to the protection of her people as we are, as America is, or as any other country is. I decline to be led into accepting the view that when a nation is disorganized or weak, because of local troubles from which it is trying to emerge, that should be our opportunity to fire upon its people.
– That is the way of the bully always.
– That is always the policy pf the bully. That is a plain acceptance of the doctrine that might is right, and that we are to be the judges of the civilization suitable to the Chinese Republic. I decline to accept that view. We ape mot,, technically, at war with China, but there have been shots fired. Acts of war have been, committed’ in China. We learn, from the newspapers - if they are correctly informed’ - that acts of war ha<ve been committed by ‘.French battleships,, by Portuguese battleships, amd ako by British seamen. Apparently, at any moment - and perhaps at this very moment - (Australian seamen, on a vessel taken, from Australian, waters and handed over to the British squadron,, may be engaged in firing upon the nationals of another country. If the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. W. M. Hughes) expects me to discuss a situation like this without heat he very much misunderstands my attitude and the attitude of the party that in this matter I represent. We say very distinctly that the Australian Navy was brought into being, notwithstanding great opposition, for the express purpose of defending. Australia and not to be sentinto the waters of other nations for aggressive or disciplinary purposes. The Labour party stood very strongly for this principle. The right honorable the Prime Minister said that at the Imperial Conference and elsewhere they have stood for that same principle just as strongly, if not more strongly, than honorable members of the Labour party. My answer to that is, the right honorable member has honoured the principle in the letter but violated it in the spirit. He prated of it in the councils, of the Empire, but when the occasion arose in which he had to choose between respecting and violating it, he acted the part of a craven, and weakly ga-ve the Australian Navy into the control of another- power. What about the Australian seamen who are on board the
Brisbane, and under the command of the Imperial Government? If they are ordered to- fire upon- the Chinese in China, and they say, “‘We will not do it, for it is; against the terms of the Australian Defence Act; Ave should- not be compelled to. take part in an industrial war in a -foreign country,” and they should be court martialled, and possibly be called upon to suffer the supreme, penalty for their disobedience, what would this Government say? I. am sure of what ths< people of Australia would say, ‘but I should like the right honorable gentleman. to tell us what the Government would say if Australians were punished for not doing in China what the. law says, they must not be compelled. to> do in. Australia. This. is. the new conscription. I agree with the statement of my honoured leader, that the exchanging of vessels should cease,, for the reason that it is bound to. result in the very conditions that now face us. It would be all right if we could’ guarantee unbroken peace. If these exchanges could be carried out) in a friendly way, and our cruisers, could be certain of manoeuvring harmlessly in peaceful waters- it would be all right, but no government can give a guarantee like that at amy time. It is highly desirable, therefore, that this arrangement should be terminated. Why should: we make enemies of the 700,00.0,000 or 800,000,000 Chinese? Although for sufficient and good reason* we have excluded them- from- this country we do- not despise them. Our stand has been taken on ethnological and economic grounds.. We have nothing but feelings of respect amd friendliness for the Chinese. Most certainly we do not desire to engage in belligerent operations against them, and so create hatred of Australians throughout the whole Chinese Empire. The time may come; or it may not, when China will be in a position to send her ships across the high seas to the Australian coast for ‘ the purpose of invading Australia. If she should do so her leaders would be able to say to us, “ You should not complain; you sent your battleship to China to take part in our domestic troubles when we were unable- to’ prevent, you from doing so, and when we had no quarrel: whatever with you, and you cannot expect any mercy from our millions1 now.” If this Government persists in its present attitude, and does not recall our vessel from Chinese waters, we shall dieserve noi mercy from China, I complain bitterly, first of all, that our warship should be used to assist the predatory actsof other nations in Chinese waters, and,, secondly, that this should- be done secretly. That makes it the more, reprehensible. I shall be greatly surprised if the people of Australia stand, for a single moment, for this sort of thing. It is. true that Britain is- not at war with China. I go- farther a-ad say that, even, if she had been,, we- should have something better for our warships- to do- than to be dragged into a<n-y imperialistic stunt that might be arranged in Chinese waters to protect the booty that various predatory nations have taken fromChina. It is true, as the Prime Minister hassaid, that some of these nations have vast interests in China - much too vast. Some havesecured them by, perhaps, honest means: but others have adopted flagrantly dishonest and oppressivemeasures to get them. In any case, I hope that this Parliament will stand for the maintenance and control of our ownnavy by our own people, and that we shall never be guilty of allowing it to toe used for predatory operations in China or elsewhere.
.- An opportunity should be given to ‘discuss this matter at greater length,for it isvery important. As the first member of this House to suggest that vessels of the Australian Navy should be exchanged for vessels of the British Navy,so that our officers and men couldhave the advantage of ‘contact with British officers and men, I must confess that I regard the position of ourship inChina as unfortunate. I agree with most of the remarks made by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. W. M. Hughes), and with many that have been male by honorable members opposite. The position is that our ship was sent in exchange for a British ship, and is now on the China station. The object of the exchange was that our officers and men might gain experience. Since she has been there something has happened which may have disastrous consequences. I have askedmyself, if I had had the honour of being Minister for the Navy in this Government, what action would I have taken in these circumstances? I say, without hesitation, that I should have advised my Prime Minister that we had better get our ship back again. I should have told him that she had been inChinese waters long enough, that her officers and men had benefited by the experience, and that it would be advisable for us to have her returned to Australia. Seeing that I should have adopted that attitude, I am not at all surprised at the views expressed by honorable members opposite. If I had not been in a hospital for a month, I should, perhaps, have taken some action similar to theirs. I should certainly have advised the Prime Minister to ask for the immediate return of the ship. The whole point is, as the righthonorable member for North Sydney remarked, “If anything happens in China, from where will our ship receive her orders ?” They will come, of course, from the British Admiral in command. So far as Ican see, the only oil thatmaybepoured on the water to calm the storm - if one should break - would come from theadmiral commanding there at present, who was the First Member of our Naval Board, Sir Alan Everett.
– Hehas gone Home.
– Only recently, on account of ill-health. But we have another friend there, in the person of Captain G. F. Hyde, who was our Second Naval Member, and is now on theChina station. However, Ibelieve that it would be highly desirable for the Government to recall our ship. I say that, apart from any party opinions, although, if it came to a vote in this House, I should certainly vote with my Government. The Leader of the Opposition made one or two statements with which I did not agree. He said that we could learn nothing from the Royal Navy. As a matter of fact our navy cannot imbibe too freely the great traditions of the British Navy. As the Prime Minister rightly remarked, our officers and men are indebted to the British officers and men for all they know. We shallhave to continue to look to the British naval authorities for members of our Naval Board. It will be a long time before we shall reach that state of efficiency that will justify us in ceasing to look to the British naval authorities for guidance and help. The exchange of our ships must go on, and I hope that it will go on, but I do not think that we can be expected to leave this ship in Chinese waters for the ostensible purpose of protecting the lives of British subjects when there are so many other Allied and British warships available for that purpose. It could be said that our ship has served the purpose for which it was sent to the China station, and that it might now be permitted to return to Australia. I feel sure that if any difficulty should arise in which the British Government felt that it needed the assistance of our navy, and asked for that assistance, its request would be granted immediately.
.I happened to visit China on one occasion while a great strike was in progress there. It was caused by the firm referred to by the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey). The workers asked for an increase of 7s. a month in their wages, and the shipping company would not grant it. The men went out on strike, and later every one employed in Hong Kong joined them, even to the waitresses and domestics in the great hotel there. The boarders in the hotel had to cook their own meals and do all the work that was necessary in the hotel, and still pay the same tariff. Later Canton was involved in the dispute. The police at that time wanted to fire on the Chinese. I feel that we are facing an awful moment in our history. We are standing just now in the same position that Britain occupied years ago. She unfortunately took the wrong course, for she ordered that horrible opium, war to be waged, which resulted in thousands of men, women, and children being compelled to engage, against their wishes, in the opium traffic. In spite of the earnest desires of the people the guns of England thundered out and destroyed men, women and children, because their rulers would not do as the Government of England wished. It is possible for this Parliament, at this moment to make a peace gesture that will thrill the world. I think the Prime Minister spoke quite wrongly of the Australians resident in China. How many of our people are resident there? I have been in Hong Kong four times, and I have only met four Australian residents.
– If there was only one it would be sufficient.
– I only know of two who have since gone to reside there. In any case they go to exploit the Chinese. What made the Japanese people stir themselves to such a degree that they have become the great force they now are in world affairs ? It was” the way in which tlie guns of other nations were used to fire upon their men, women, and children. We should not dare to do in Japan what we are doing to China. China is known throughout the world as a peace-loving country. Barely in her history have her people extended their boundaries by war. Usually it has been done because the adjacent nations have requested to be received into the community of China. The men who were responsible for that terrible opium war are now dust and ashes, and they have been judged by the Higher
Power, but we can do something to atone for- their sins by making a gesture which will impress the world. I have seen, unspinning the silk cocoons, little Chinese children whose age and conditions reminded me of those of the little children in the factories of Great Britain a hundred years ago - who were lashed to keep them awake - and for whom great reformers like the glorious Earl of Shaftesbury did so much. If the Admiral of the British Fleet in Chinese waters orders the Brisbane to open fire upon the Chinese, what will happen to any of our men who refuse to man the guns ? Would we allow them to be court-martialled and sentenced to death? I misjudge the Prime Minister as a man if he would nor immediately demand the withdrawal of the sentence and the release of the men concerned. If the Brisbane fires one shot in Chinese waters, I shall, as long as I live, oppose with my vote and voice any proposal to construct in Australia a vessel capable of causing war. We are told that war vessels cannot be built in Australia. Japan, 60 years ago, could not construct war vessels. In those days junks were used. On one occasion, Formosa, using the first ironclad ever constructed, destroyed an invading army of 200,000 men who were being transported in junks. Are we not as good as the Japanese? Would any man say that our white race cannot do what the Japanese have done? Three times in the history of naval warfare have theJapanese possessed the most powerful battleship afloat. I myself saw one of these vessels lying alongside the Renown outside, the great harbour of YokohamaChina has vast resources in coal and iron, and if in the dim future, she should possess naval strength proportioned to that of Japan, would the Prime Minister dare to allow any Australian war vessel to gothere to quell an internal disturbance. I speak now in the interests of humanity with a view to. bringing about the amity of nations, and removing the causes of war. The Chinese student of to-day is a cultivated person with a great amount of knowledge, and if he is endeavouring to obtain better conditions in China we have no right to interfere with him. I am given to understand that the British exchange vessel Concord is not to-day in Australian waters.
– It is being replaced by the Delhi, which is now on its way to Australia.
– The Prime Minister has now an excellent opportunity to recall the Brisbane. It can be done in the kindest of language so as not to hurt the feelings of the admiral of the fleet there. If our cruiser is recalled, we can then claim to have tried to evade a conflict with China.
– The debate this morning has recalled to my mind my experience in China in 1900. I was then quite young, and it so happened that during the Boxer rebellion I went to Pekin with some of the American troops. That was entirely a political disturbance. A section of the people of China were trying to upset the rule of the Dowager Empress. The present trouble in China has quite a different origin. At that time the Government of China was powerless - as I believe it to be now - to do anything effective for the protection, not only of foreigners resident there, but also of its own people. Because of an exchange of vessels between the Australian and the British navies our cruiser Brisbane happens to be at the moment in China with the British squadron, in readiness to protect life and property if necessary. I quite uphold the Prime Minister in the contention that it would be absolutely wrong now to recall her. I have the most vivid recollection of the position of affairs in China at the time I was there. There were hundreds of corpses floating on the water between Pekin and its port. The river was, at one time, jambed full of dead bodies. If honorable members had had a similar experience they would realize the inability of the Chinese Government to cope with the situation in a time of stress like the present.
.- The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks) spoke disparagingly about the conduct of the Naval Department, and I can quite understand why that honorable member, when a member of the previous Ministry, was not in accord with his colleagues respecting the control of the Australian fleet. The honorable member has really placed the Government in a very humiliating position. The Prime Minister has not justified the presence of the Brisbane in Chinese waters. The trouble with China is that outside interests are endeavouring to seize her territory. The American fleet is coming to these waters to give the nations of the Pacific an indication of America’s naval power, and to show what a mighty fleet it is. The Russo-Japanese war was fought over possession of Manchurian territory. The Boxer war, in which Australians took part, was simply a scramble among the great nations of the world to establish their interests in China. The Government would not dare to send an Australian cruiser to Japanese waters to assist in quelling a disturbance in that country, but the position is different when the nation concerned is weak and there is a possibility of acquiring territory. The Australian Navy was never intended for the purpose for which it is being used today. The intention was to protect the coast of Australia. During the great war, owing to the activities of our navy, no raids by enemy cruisers were made upon our coast. I am quite satisfied that the action of the Government in allowing the Brisbane to remain in Chinese waters is not endorsed by the people of Australia. The Prime Minister has imperialistic ‘ideals, and desires that Great Britain, from Downing-street, should control the destinies of Australia. No other nation in the world would allow its fleet to be used by another great power.
– The time allotted under the Standing Orders for the consideraton of the motion has expired.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answersto the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
vessel “ franklin “- expropriated Properties.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The information will be obtained and furnished to the honorable member as soon as possible
Mr.R,. GREEN asked the Treasurer, uponnotice-
Whether the Government intends to release from expropriation any more persons, who are either now, or were previously,, resident in the Mandated Territory of New Guinea?
– The Government does not,at present, intend to release any properties other than the two pending cases which are referred to in part3 of my answer to question No. 4 of yesterday.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
Will he inform the House what progress has been made with the Australian section of the international map of the world?
– After considerable corre spondence with the International Bureau and state departments, the preliminary arrangementshavebeen more or less completed. A large amount of information has been collected and tabulated. Very valuable assistance has been rendered by all state departments,shirecouncils, and other bodies, for which no charge is being made to the Commonwealth. The map of the continent comprises 45 sheets. Two sheets have been compiled. The first map, in proof stage, will be submitted to the Council of the International Bureau within the next few months. Although no sheets have yet reached the proof stage, progress is considered to be satisfactory, and arrangements have been made for the work to be continued without interruption.
asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow.: -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– There is an arrange- ment between the Commonwealth . and Malta Governments under which the latter Government regulates the issue of passports so that, as- far as practicable, not more than 20 Maltese shall seek to land in any one state during one month; also that those who have no relatives here to look after them shall have at least £10 landing money, and! that illiterate Maltese, i.e., those unable to speak and understand colloquial English, shall not be granted passports unless nominated by persons in Australia who are willing and: able to look after them. It might be pointed out, however, for the honorable member’s information that, although this allows for the possibility of upwards of 120 Maltese coming to Australia during a month, the actual arrivals are much below that number. For example, the total’ number of Maltese arrivals for the four months ended’ 30th April, 1925, was only 235, an average of barely 60 a month.
Assent to the following Bills reported : -
Supply Bill (No. 1)
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
– (By leave) - I desire to submit to the House at the earliest possible moment after the conclusion of the financial year an approximate statement of the finances of the Commonwealth. The difficulties which one has to contend with in presenting a statement of this nature at so early a date afterthe close of the financial year will be readily realized when it is remembered that the transactions in London, up to the last day of the financial year, as well as those in every part of Australia, have to be focussed in the Treasury, Melbourne. This can only be done by means of cabled and telegraphed advices. The figures, therefore, can be published only under general heads, and must be accepted as approximate only; but the very slight variation which has occurred in previous years between the approximate and the final figures justifies me in feeling confident that those now presented will not differ materially from the final result when ascertained.
With the large volume of imports throughout the year, and the consequent heavy Customs duties, a considerable increase above the estimate for the year was anticipated, but the abnormal receipts did not continue during the last two months, so that the estimate of Customs and excise revenue which will be available for expenditure during 1925-6 will have to be made with considerable caution. The increase in the income tax revenue is due to the special efforts made to issue the whole of the assessments before the close of the year, and the endeavour to collect arrears. The main increase in the revenue from other forms of direct taxation was contributed by the land tax, the estate duties tax, and the entertainments tax, but owing to refunds of war-time profits tax, the estimate of revenue from that source was not realized. The increases in the expenditure above the estimate were -
As previously explained, it has not been possible, at this early date, to obtain the expenditure in any detail. The exact details of the increase cannot, therefore, at this moment be furnished. However, the additional expenditure above the estimate which has been authorized is known, and this will serve to indicate the directions in which the increase has occurred. The increase in the ordinary votes of the department, other than business undertakings, £234,205, is made up as follows : -
The increase of £90,341 in the Treasury was made up almost wholly of taxation expenditure. The amount provided in the Estimates for payment to the states for the collection of Commonwealth income tax was insufficient. An additional amount of £90,000 was, therefore, provided. Of the increase of £41,382 in the Department of Home and Territories, £17,000 was on account of Northern Territory general services. That amount was required for relief of distress due to unemployment, increased shipping service subsidies, the appointment of a Land Board, the improvement of educational services, the relief expedition for the white women who were lost, and the clearing of poisonous vegetables from stock routes. A sum of £7,000 was required for interest on Northern Territory loans, but a saving of a like amount was made in the interest payable from special appropriations. The balance of the increase was to cover the electoral office expenditure, due mainly to alterations in the electoral law, special printing for the meteorological office, and the establishment of a statistical bureau in Tasmania. The increase in the expenditure of the Department of Trade and Customs was £80,588, of which £16,000 was required for the administration of the Commerce Act, chiefly in the direction of dealing with perishable products. That waa accompanied by an increase of fees. An amount of £26,000 had to be provided for lighthouse services. That increase was due to a greater use of contract steamers than had been anticipated, and to a special arbitration award governing lighthouse keepers. The balance of £38,000 was on account of the general customs administration, and in that connexion it must be remembered that the volume of goods handled by the department during last financial year showed an increase much greater proportionately than any increase in expenditure, and was the greatest in the history of the department. The Arbitration Court award after the Estimates were framed affected almost every officer in the Service, and materially increased the expenditure. That factor must be borne in mind when considering the increases of departmental expenditure, because the effect was felt by every department. The increase of £10,288 in the Department of “Works and Railways was due to additional amounts having been provided to cover urgent expenditure in connexion with repairs to and maintenance of buildings. Although the expenditure for 1924-5 was £234,205 in excess of the estimate, yet, when compared with the actual expenditure for 1923-4, the increase was only £11,717.
The increase of £722,729 in business undertakings was made up as follows: -
The basic wage and telephone officers’ arbitration awards have resulted in an increased annual expenditure of £280,000. Since the Estimates for the year were framed, a re-weighing of mails was made under the agreement with the Commonwealth and State Railways Departments. That test resulted in an annual increase of £103,000 in the cost of carriage of mails. Additional amounts were provided for the repair and maintenance of telegraph and telephone lines. Moreover, the provision of new services proceeded during the year at a greater pace than had been anticipated, especially in connexion with telephones.
The decrease of £65,585 on Commonwealth railways was accounted for by a decrease of £105,699 on the Port AugustaOodnadatta railway, and an increase . of £40,114 on other Commonwealth railways. The Port Augusta-Oodnadatta line is at present being worked by the Government of South Australia on behalf of the Commonwealth, but the Estimates for 1923-4 were framed on. the assumption that the working of the line would be taken over by the Commonwealth Railway Department from the 1st January, last. That action was, however, deferred, and the estimated expenditure was not incurred. Of the increase of £40,114 in other Commonwealth railways, an additional £10,201 was provided for railway surveys, and £29,913 for the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta, Northern Territory, and Queanbeyan to Canberra railways. The revenue of the Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie line was considerably above the estimate, and the additional earnings involved increased haulage. Further expenditure was authorized for extraordinary repairs.
The increase of £65,0.89 in special appropriations was comprised of sundry increases and decreases. Maternity allowance - payments .were-£l-7,000-in- ex- cess of the estimate. An amount of* £61,655 was paid to Tasmania under the Tasmanian Grant Act 1924. That pay-; ment represented the lottery tax collected’ by the Commonwealth from the 1st July to the date on which the state began to collect the tax. The expenditure on other special appropriations was £160,888 above the estimate; the. chief items that, accounted for the increase were:- Iron and steel products bounty, £37,000 ; ‘sulphur bounty, £32,000; advance under , the Hop Pool Agreement Act, £24,500; wine export bounty, £21,000; payments to ‘ the Dried Fruits Export Control Board’, of the dried fruits export charges, £19,000; and State Public Service pensions payable under the Constitution, £12,000. The increase of £179,114 in the miscellaneous services was composed wholly of ‘ unforeseen expenditure- £14,000 for royal commissions, £6,000 for compensation to loyalists, £10,000 for British Empire Exhibition, £5,000 advance to the Meat Council, £55,000 interest on the advance made by the Commonwealth Bank in London pending the raising of a loan (a corresponding saving was effected in the expenditure under special appropriations), £10,000 grant to Territory of New Guinea for medical purposes, £4,000 for services of specialist in port administration, £20,000 for bounties to growers of doradilla grapes, and £15,000 for coping with the rinderpest outbreak. The remainder of the increase represented numerous other similar items.
In connexion with war and repatriation services, the expenditure on war pension^ was £128,247 above the - estimate. The expenditure also showed a slight increase over the actual expenditure of 1923-4. That would seem to indicate that the reductions resulting from pensioners going off the pension list were more than offset by new pension payments resulting from marriages of soldier pensioners, pensions to additional children, and new applications from soldiers whose war injuries had developed.
The increase in interest on loans raised for the states, viz., £286,000, was offset by a similar increase in the amount repaid by the states. ‘
Those details of the expenditure are all that are available at present. When the budget is presented a few weeks hence, more complete information will be “ supplied”,’” and “the House will be informed how the unadjusted balance of revenue, £4,575,478, has been dealt with. This cannot be determined until the accounts for the year are finally balanced.
Honorable members will find the following tabulated return - which, with the permission of Mr. Speaker, I shall not read - informative : -
The transactions of the year 1924-25 resulted as follows : -
The following paper was presented : -
Commonwealth Bank Act - Regulations amended- Statutory Rules 1925, No. 104.
Debate resumed from 2nd July (vide page 688), on motion by Mr. Bruce -
Upon which Mr. Charlton had: moved, by way of amendment -
That after the word “now” the following words be inserted: - “withdrawn and redrafted to provide more adequate provisions regarding alien immigration, and for the reconsideration of the drastic proposals to deport Australian citizens.”
.- I think that it will be conceded by all honorable members that the debate on this bill has been most interesting. The measure has been divided by every speaker info two parts, each of which has its own peculiar interest to the people of the Commonwealth. So far as the first part of the bill is concerned, I intend to support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton), on the ground that not sufficient provision is made to restrict the immigration of undesirable aliens. As to the present necessity for a policy of immigration there is a great difference of opinion, but if for the proper development and prosperity, and particularly the future defence of this country, a policy of immigration is necessary, let us have it, but only if governed by two conditions, which also are absolutely necessary for the future prosperity and defence of the country. The first of those two conditions is that the immigrants shall be assured of employment without displacing Australians. Is that the case to-day? I ask any honorable member who has travelled in any part of the country recently whether he has not met numbers of immigrants who, although they have been here only a little while, are already swelling the ranks of the unemployed? Only yesterday I met, in Prahran, an English immigrant who was unknown to me. He asked me if I could direct him to a certain place in Prahran where he thought there was a chance of his obtaining employment. Having given him the necessary directions, I engaged in further conversation with him, in the course of which I inquired how long he had been in Australia. He replied that he had been here for nearly three years. When asked if he was seeking employment, he replied in the affirmative. He. told me that this winter was the worst he had yet experienced ; he had recently returned from the country, where for eight or nine weeks he had taken another man’s place on a farm, but on the return of the former employee he was discharged. For’ two or three weeks he had been out of employment, and he stated that if he failed to get work that day he would be in a precarious position. I judged him to be a man who would make a worthy citizen of Australia if employment were available for him. When I inquired if there were more immigrants similarly situated, he replied that there were hundreds of them; he added that as soon as he had saved sufficient money he would return to England. I protested that Australia was a better country than England, but he said that that was not so, because of the difficulty of obtaining employment here. I asked him what occupation he followed, and he said that he was a dyer, but that, having failed to obtain employment in his own trade, he had been, and still was, prepared to accept employment of any description. Many of our newspapers, as well as honorable members on the other side, argue that we should adopt a vigorous policy of immigration in order to fill the vacant spaces of Australia. While honorable members speak and editors write in that strain, tradesmen are being brought here at a time when numbers of our tradesmen are out of work. Before people come here as a result of an immigration policy costing the country enormous sums of money, it should be laid down definitely that) not only should employment be found for these men on arrival, but that they should not displace Australians. The second condition which I consider should govern immigration is that the people who come here - from whatever country - should conform to Australian standards of living and Australian ideals. Do the immigrants who come here conform to Australian standards of living? During this debate, as well as in sworn evidence before commissions, it has been frequently stated that there are in Australia to-day numbers of immigrants whose standard of living is far below that which we desire should be maintained in this country. -Maltese and other southern Europeans have been spoken of. A few years ago one of our wealthiest mining corporations decided to employ a number of Maltese, probably with the idea of getting them to accept a lower rate of wages than was paid to Australian miners. Two points have never yet’ been satisfactorily cleared up - how the corporation managed to evade the provisions of the Contract Immigrants Act which prohibit the importation of. .labour under contract, and whether these Maltese worked for a lower rate of wages. It is certain, however, that they congregated in what was afterwards known as the Maltese quarter of the township adjoining the property of the mining company, and when the conditions in which they were living became known, there was such an outcry that force of public opinion compelled the local authorities to make them improve their residences and their ways of living, in conformity with Australian standards. But try as they might, the local authorities could never get these men to live up to the ideals of the Australians with whom they were working. The second part of the bill proposes to give the Government powers which should never be given to any government. This Parliament will be going back 100 years if it agrees to the proposed new sections 8aa and 8ab. Many of us when we were young came across men, good citizens of Australia, who had been deported from Great Britain for offences against the industrial laws of that country. Some of them had been transported for life. I have a vivid recollection of one very fine old chap who was living in a hut close to where i was born. With others I used to take him his food. He was near his end, and was being kept in food by hi3 neighbours.” On one occasion the following conversation took place: - “ Were you sent out here, Tim? “ “I was, and I cannot get back again.” “Were you in prison?” “ I was convicted and sent out here.” “ Why were you sent out? “ “ For knocking pigs off a hen roost.” The phrase “ for knocking pigs off a hen roost “ was frequently used in Tasmania in contempt of the paltriness of the offences for which many men had been deported from Great Britain. For instance, the old man of whom I speak had been deported for the term of his natural life because he had broken, one of the industrial laws of his country, and the Government’s proposal takes us’ back to those days. Many of the men who laid the foundation of Tasmania’s prosperity were sent out here for offences of that kind ; and their sons and grandsons are among the very best of Australian citizens to-day, having reached the highest places in public life, and having had bestowed upon them the highest gifts at the disposal of the Australian people. The honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Latham) opened his speech, which received so much commendation from honorable members on the Government side, with the phrase-1-
The fundamental right of a self governing democracy is the right to determine the composition of its people.
To that very fine-sounding phrase, to which all honorable members would readily subscribe, the honorable member should have added -
The fundamental right of every unit in a self-governing democracy is to have a fair trial in the light of day by unbiased judges and the opportunity to call evidence in bis defence.
The honorable member and the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell), another shining light at the bar, know that even the vilest criminal is entitled to a fair trial in open court, and to call any evidence he chooses in his defence. But as the honorable member for Kooyong did not qualify his remarks in the direction I have suggested, he evidently stands for a Minister of the Crown having in industrial cases the power of deportation without trial.
– That is to be altered, I am pleased to say.
– The honorable member did not say that he would support the proposal of the Government only if it were altered. Apparently he was so anxious to defend the bill which his own Government had brought down that he was ready to find every excuse for it. I do not remember him saying that he would support it only on condition that it was altered.
– I heard him say so.
– Then I am pleased that the honorable member has been partly converted by the arguments advanced from this side of the chamber. The only modification I heard him utter was when, in reply to an interjection, he said that no government could remain in office for a week if it used these powers wrongly. Let me suppose something which is likely to happen. A man of British birth practising as a barrister, convicted of an offence against the laws of this country ten, fifteen, or twenty years ago, may have wiped out the stain on his character, and afterwards lived as a good, honest citizen, only to break the law again. If in these circumstances he should again be convicted and struck off the roll of barristers, would the honorable member for Kooyong support a government that would deport him without a trial?
– Not on those facts.
– The case is on all fours with that of a man convicted for any other offence against the laws of his country. It has been said before, but it cannot be emphasized too often, that under the powers proposed to be given by the proposed new sections Saa and 8ab, the leaders of a union fighting for better conditions, or resisting an attempt on the part of employers to reduce wages, could be deported. Let us look at the other side of the question. If private railways or carrying companies or shipping companies combine to increase fares, charges, and freights to the detriment of those engaged in business, or those whose goods they are carrying, are they not, in the words of the bill, “ guilty of acts which hinder or obstruct to the prejudice of the public the transport of goods or the conveyance of passengers ? “ Undoubtedly they are. Any man with common sense would say so. Every month shipping companies combine for the purpose of increasing their earnings or dividends. But the Government would not dare to deport any one ‘ in such circumstances. An owner of a steamer entering into such a combine may have been born outside Australia, and may have been ‘ convicted as far back as twenty years ago for some offence against the laws. If he is again convicted of a similar offence would the Government dare to send him out of the country as it would the leader of a union ? In the early part of this year a shipping strike took place which affected Tasmania considerably, because of its geographical situation, and because the maintenance of a shipping service is the very life blood of that state. I do not wish to enter into the merits of that dispute- or to say who was right or wrong. There were faults on both sides.
But the trouble culminated in an entirestoppage of the shipping service between Tasmania and the mainland. On one occasion, when the Nairana was about to leave the wharf at Melbourne, 300 or 400 passengers for Tasmania, already on board, were notified, a few minutes before the advertised time for the departure of the vessel, that as there was a dispute in progress between the owners and the men the vessel would not make the trip. It was conceded on that occasion that the owners had broken the arbitration laws. Hobart, of course, was seriously affected by the disturbance, and I happened to be in attendance at a meeting of the shipping committee brought into existence by the Marine Board of the Tasmanian capital. It would not be suggested that many of those in attendance had any sympathy with unionism, but one of the members^, a leading citizen of Hobart, admitted that the law had been broken not by the seamen, but by the company. Did the Government take any action against the Tasmanian Steamships Proprietary ? No, it endeavoured to blame the seamen. If many of the fine types of Cornishmen, who have taken a prominent part in the mining development -of Australia, and who have been ornaments of society, were alive to-day, they would be subject under the proposed law to deportation.
– The same may besaid of men who have come to Australia from every part of the British Empire.
– Exactly. A few years ago one of the greatest disasters that has ever occurred in the Commonwealth took .place on one of the mining fields on the west coast of Tasmania. Fifty odd men were either suffocated or starved to death through the negligence of the mine-owners. It had. long been known by the men working on the field that in the event of fire in the mine there was a possibility of such an occurrence.
– Does’ the honorable member intend to connect his remarks with the bill?
– Yes. For some reason or other - owing, I suppose, to financial considerations - the owners had not provided a safety shaft by which the men could escape in the event of the main shaft being impassable. There wass almost a strike over the matter, and shortly afterwards the dry timbers ofthe main shaft caught fire and 50 men were imprisoned. If the miners had gone on strike, by way of protest, against the failure of the owners to put down a safety shaft, they would have been liable, under this bill, to deportation, provided they had not been born in Australia. Instances of the injustice of such a proposal could be multiplied. I regard this as panic legisla-tion, which can never be effective for any considerable time, and always has to be repealed. I imagine that recent events in the political world have stirred up the supporters of the Government. The election in New South Wales seems to “have partially paralysed the Ministry, and recent happenings in Tasmania have apparently completed the paralysis. One can imagine Ministers assembling to’ consider the position, and my old friend and colleague, the Honorary Minister (Mr. Atkinson), saying to his confreres in Cabinet, “We shall have to do something. Tasmania has gone Labour. We must show that we are a strong Government.” No doubt, a similar attitude would be adopted by Ministers who hail from New South Wales. The position of the Ministry seems to be helpless. They have been assailed from all quarters. In New South Wales the subject of cruiser construction has brought a hornet’s nest about their ears, and in Victoria, owing to the partial closing of factories, thousands of people have been thrown out of employment.
– What about the hop industry ?
– A long series of blunders has been committed- with respect to that small, though not unimportant, industry in Tasmania, and this has intensified the feeling against the Government. The refusal of the reasonable request of the Premier of Tasmania for an investigation into the financial relations between Tasmania and the Commonwealth has also heightened the indignation of the people of my state.
– How does the honorable member connect these remarks with immigration?
– I think that I am within my rights in pointing out the acts for which the Government has been con demned in various states, and my contention is that in view of the general condemnation, and the near approach of the elections, the Government has brought down this bill to lead the people to believe that it is composed of strong men. A number of Tasmanians engaged in the hop industry have been practically ruined, and they have no chance of recovering their position for some years, because of the bungling by the present Government. I understand that they i-ie about to form a hop-growers union, andsince nearly all of them are small growers, who do not employ labour, they may create an industrial disturbance. If so, they will be liable, under the provisions of the present bill, to deportation.
– Utter rubbish!
– The honorable member who has interjected may, possibly, be embroiled in this trouble, but as I understand that he is an Australian by birth he cannot be deported. One could almost excuse the Government for bringing down this measure if it had any hope of accomplishing its purpose. We all know that a great industrial upheaval is imminent. The names of three or four persons have been mentioned, and it is at these individuals that the bill is directed. If Ministers and their supporters believe for a moment that the passing of this measure will in any way prevent the upheaval, their action gives no cause for surprise. But will it do so? Any man who is acquainted with the Australian workman will know perfectly well that legislation like this is bound to have a result exactly opposite to that which the Government thinks it will have. It has frequently been said of late that half of the industrial troubles and threatened industrial troubles of recent times have been due to the actions of certain men in Australia. Why has not the Government taken its courage in its hands, and used the power that it already possesses ? The great majority of workers in Australia have no more time for the illegal acts of these men than I have. The arm of the law is surely long enough and strong enough to rea-sh those men and to punish them! For some reason or other, that has not been done. Yet panic legislation is introduced with the object of preventing industrial disturbances! I have always been in favour of arbitration, because I do. not know of a better means for effecting the settlement of industrial disputes. Until I do see a better method I shall continue to favour arbitration. Every man must admit that up to a certain point it has proved very effective. It would have been more effective had the different Governments in the last few years made access to the Arbitration Court quick, easy, and cheap. They have not done so. Many of the wrong actions, or allegedly wrong actions, of those who have been subject to the decisions of the Arbitration Court, were due to the fact that access to the court was not as quick and as easy as it should have been, and as it would have beer if the Government had amended the act in certain necessary directions. Only experience gained in the working of legislation will show where it is defective and faulty. The arbitration law was to some extent experimental. I do not hold a brief for those who broke away from the Arbitration Court, but I have been greatly amused to hear the howls of protest against that action by men who hold political beliefs similar to those that were held by the men who fought tooth and nail in this Parliament against the passage of the Arbitration Act. They were opposed to arbitration then, but they have been compelled to admit that it has exercised a very beneficial effect in the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes. If the workers will not submit to arbitration, they cannot be forced to work. In the same way, the shipping companies cannot be compelled to run their ships. I know that the great body of the Australian workers believe in arbitration; and do not sympathize with wrongful or illegal acts, but those men are likely to be incensed at legislation which, when an industrial dispute occurs, may render them liable to be arraigned and deported. I have not within the last few years been found in agreement with sentiments that have been expressed by the right honorable ‘member for. North Sydney (Mr. W. M.” Hughes), but I believe- that h>. spoke truly last night when he -said that this bill would probably do the- very thing that .-if was -intended to prevent. The great: body of the workers ‘iri., Australia would,” I think, be behind the : Govern? ment if it used its present powers to impose reasonable punishment upon any man who broke the laws of this country; I am afraid that if the bill is passed there may be an attempt to make martyrs of a few men. I do not agree with, some of the actions of certain men, and I do not defend them, but if action is taken that will make martyrs of them the trouble that the Government wishes to prevent will be precipitated. I am keenly anxious that the shipping industry should remain untroubled, because Tasmania will suffer more than any other state from an upheaval. I support the amendment, because I believe that this action of the Government will hasten trouble. I want to see the bill withdrawn and another introduced containing more effective provisions regarding immigration, so that we may maintain our present standards of living and the purity of our race. Another reason for my support of the amendment is that I think the powers which the Government proposes to take are more drastic than any that have been asked for in the 24 years during which the Commonwealth Parliament has-been in existence. I know the temperament of the Australian workers perhaps better than some honorable members opposite. I have had a good deal to do with unionism since I was a boy, and I know that 95 per cent, of the workers who are trade unionists will resent this attempt to deprive them of their liberties or to jeopardize those liberties in any way. I do not want to again see the- shipping services of Tasmania disrupted. I desire peace. I want to see the wheels of industry kept going, and the ships running from one part of Australia to another. The Government would be acting wisely if, even at this eleventh hour, it tried to settle the dispute in some other way :than by passing this . legislation. There is . not an honorable member opposite who really believes that the bill will bring any nearer the settlement of the . present trouble. They do, however, hold the belief that the exercise of such power3 will cause a terrible industrial crisis. I am loth to say it. but I think that the Government would welcome an industrial crisis; otherwise it would not have brought down such an iniquitous measure, and tried to pass it through Parliament^.-. - ~
.- I wholly subscribe to the dictum that was so ably expressed by my learned friend, the honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Latham), that a selfgoverning democracy has the inherent right to determine the composition of its people. I also believe that such a right must necessarily include the power to both restrict and expel. Every honorable member, no matter where he sits, must concede that much if he is in favour of the White Australia policy. Really the only question that arises is that which relates to the scope of the restrictions and the conditions governing expulsion. Clause 2 provides, inter alia, that the immigration into the Commonwealth of the following persons is prohibited : -
Any person declared by the Minister to be in his opinion, from information received from the Government of the United Kingdom or of any other part of the British dominions or from any foreign Government, through official or diplomatic channels, undesirable as an inhabitant of, or visitor to, the Commonwealth.
That particular part of the clause has not been referred to by many speakers. 1 cannot conceive of this Government being deluged with warnings from other governments regarding persons who are believed by those governments to be undesirable. It appears to me that when any government learned of the proposed departure of a person who was considered undesirable it would be more likely to wish him “ God-speed “ than to send to another government a warning to prevent his entry into that country. Many honorable members opposite have spoken against, but have really argued in favour of, the restrictive provisions. The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin), in the light-hearted and flippant manner which is characteristic of him when addressing this House, last night went back over the history of the last 100 years in an attempt to find an argument with which to oppose the bill. He related the case of a gentleman who rose to a position of honour and importance in New South Wales, although he was a son of a man who had been deported from the Old Country. That argument, to me, appeared to be more in favour of the deportation of that man than against it.
Australia certainly reaped an advantage.
– But look at what
– The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) and, I think, also the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley), spoke very strongly against the bill, but yet argued in favour of its restrictive provisions. If the bill had been introduced with the intention of opening wide the door to unrestricted immigration, most of the arguments of those honorable members would have been to the point; but they were strangely outof place if they were intended to be arguments against this measure. Both the Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for Darling referred to the polyglot population of America, and the fact that that country is closing its doors except to very limited numbers of certain classes of immigrants. They pointed out that the tide of rejects from America was turning in the direction of Australia, and for some reason or other they denounced the Government in this connexion. It seems to me that they should rather have congratulated the Government for the action it took during the recess, which resulted in such a tremendous diminution of the influx of southern Europeans during the first quarter of this year as compared to the last quarter of last year. They should have further congratulated the Government upon introducing a clause in this bill which they might themselves have drafted in collaboration. The Leader of the Opposition dealt at some length with the desirability of preventing too many immigrants coming to Australia at a time when its economic and industrial conditions were such that excessive immigration would be likely to bring about unemployment. If the honorable gentleman will turn to clause 3 of this bill he will find the phrase used in a proposed new section - on account of the economic, industrial, or other conditions existing in the Commonwealth.
The proposed section in which this phrase appears is designed to give effect to what the honorable gentleman considers so desirable. The honorable member for Darling referred to the difficulty of. assimilating certain peopleswithin our population, and again we find in clause 3 of the bill that power to deal with this matter is given to the Government.
– I call attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.]
– When the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) performed his usual function, I was bringing under the notice of the House the fact that clause 3, which increases the power of the Government in restricting immigration, deals with people who are unlikely to be readily assimilated. The clause is designed to exactly meet the argument put forward by the honorable member for Darling. It has been said that there is no need for any of these clauses, that the Government already has power to do all that needs to be done, and the additional powers proposed to be given under this bill are entirely superfluous and unnecessary. In spite of the fact that all honorable members opposite appear to bc in agreement on that point, the Leader of the Opposition, who made and stressed the point, has moved an amendment to the effect that the bill should be “ withdrawn and redrafted to provide more adequate provisions regarding alien immigration.” Honorable members opposite say that the powers which the Government seeks under this bill are entirely unnecessary, yet they move and support an amendment which would have the effect of giving further powers than those for which the Government make provision in this bill.
– May the honorable member be reminded that the bill is in two parts?
– I am reminded that the bill is in two parts, but honorable members opposite contend that the first part of the bill is unnecessary, and have even suggested that it is introduced as a sort of sugar coating for the latter part of the bill, which deals with deportation. I am pointing out that the terms of the amendment which they are supporting suggest, not only that the first part of the bill is necessary, but also that its provisions should be made more drastic. Other very puzzling contradictions have been apparent in the speeches from honorable members opposite. The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Coleman) made an excellent speech, in which he talked very plainly about the necessity of preserving our racial purity. ‘He told. us exactly where he stands in regard to that matter. I am sure that all of us who are sprung from British stock must realize the advantage of living in a country whose people are 98 per cent, of British stock, and must feel that it is our duty to endeavour to keep that stock as pure as possible. When we realize that the population of Australia contains a greater percentage of British blood than does the population of Great Britain itself, we cannot listen to a statement of the kind without a quickening of the pulse. Whilst the honorable member for Reid expressed himself very plainly with regard to alien immigration, other honorable members opposite were” not anything like so definite. Some referred to the influx of Italians in a way that suggested that they loathed them as usurpers of other men’s jobs, and yet while making statements of that kind they seemed to retract, and in the next breath said they esteemed them as particularly good settlers. When ‘ I listened to honorable members opposite speaking in this contradictory way, I could not help being reminded of an explanation given in my school days. A boy who was very cross-eyed attended a certain school, and another boy with a sense of humour more highly .developed than his sympathies for this particular affliction suggested that the reason it had befallen the first boy was because in going home in the dark he found it necessary to keep one eye fixed on a dark wood at one side of the road, whilst he had to keep the other fixed on the cemetery. I am disposed to believe that the explanation for the contradictory statements to which we have listened from honorable members opposite on the influx of aliens is that they were endeavouring to keep one eye on the welfare of the Australianborn cane-cutter, whilst the other strayed in the direction of the naturalized alien voter at the next elections. The immigration agreement has been criticized under cover of this bill, and it has even been said that the Government is to blame for having brought it forward without consulting the states. In my judgment, the immigration agreement is merely an offer by the British and Commonwealth Governments to the State Governments. It does not bind them in any way, nor does it force anything upon them. It is merely an. invitation to them to accept money at an exceedingly low rate of interest. It is almost humorous to suggest that any arrangement which offers money at the low rate of 1 per cent, interest should need to be forced upon any one. The arrangement proposed is particularly liberal to the states. During the first five years the British Government will take up onehalf of the interest bill, the Commonwealth Government will take one-third, and the states availing themselves of the agreement will have to pay only the remaining one-sixth of the interest bill. If the money lent to the states under the agreement is raised at 6 per cent., they will have to pay only 1 per cent, interest on what they receive for the first five years. For the second term of five years the division of interest obligation proposed is onethird to Great Britain, one-third to the Commonwealth, and one-third to the states. To suggest that the . Commonwealth Government is to blame for bringing forward an agreement of that kind and leaving it to the State Governments to take advantage of it or not, passes my comprehension. The Leader of the Opposition quoted a statement from a Queensland report to the effect that immigrants unable to obtain employment themselves are still inviting others’ to come out to Australia. I do riot doubt that such a statement is to be found in the report, but I certainly do doubt that such invitations would have much effect in inducing people to come to this country. I believe that such an invitation from a man who had been here for some time and had been unable to secure employment would be futile nine times out of ten. The honorable member for Reid talked at some length of the necessity of a quota - as did also the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. W. M. Hughes) - in order to ensure our racial purity. I believe the most important thing is not so much the number of aliens who come into the country as the ratio which that number bears to those of British blood. America at the present time is effectively occupied. She has, therefore, a .very strong moral claim to enact legislation restricting immigration. Australia is not in a similar position. It is not effectively occupied, and its area is a little greater than that of the United States of America. It seems to mc that we should be very careful not to offend the susceptibilities of other nations. I believe that the best way to secure our racial purity would be, not so much by cutting down in an . extremely drastic way the number of aliens who may be admitted, as by doing the utmost we can to increase the number of British immigrants, so that the ratio of aliens to British shall be very small indeed. I do not share the fears expressed by some honorable members with regard to the possible increase of unemployment in the event of considerable numbers of people coming here from the Old Country. If we get the right type of men who are willing to work and willing to go to the country rather than remain in the cities, there need be no such fear. It has been proved that every man settled in the country brings about sufficient work in the city to provide for the employment of five men. The proposed amendment of section 5 of the principal act is apparently designed to deal with stowaways, and seems to me to be very necessary. I come now to the deportation clauses of the bill. I was very much surprised last night to hear the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. W. M. Hughes), with his legal training, say that there is no need for these clauses. The ordinary layman, in the comparatively dim twilight of his powers to construe legal verbiage, is able to see at a glance that the provisions of the act relate to persons who have been convicted within a period of three years of their arrival in Australia, whereas the scope of this bill is much wider. It has been said by some honorable members opposite, I think principally by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Anstey), that the deportation provisions of the bill are a blow at trade unionism. I do not believe that for a moment. I believe, however, that if we can suppress agitators who are responsible for so much industrial unrest, trade unionists need not be haunted with the fear of unemployment. I believe in unionism, both industrially and commercially, in a highly organized state of society, and, I believe also, that sections not organized go to the wall.
– Does the honorable member believe in compulsory unionism?
– It is not so long ago since I was chief president of the Victorian Farmers Union, and I did what I could to advance the interests of the members of that organization. We have been told that the measure is directed particularly at one section of the community. Even if it were, which I deny, it could ‘ only become, opera’tive if that section, . or agitators leading it, declared war on the rest of the community. In circumstances such as that, definite action under the measure would be justifiable. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan), now interjecting, to whose, eloquence I gave a silent hearing the other night, in picturesque phrasing gave a graphic description of the deplorable conditions of the wage-earners of bygone days.
– What he said was a fact.
– To whatever lengths wage-earners of former times may have gone in endeavouring to improve their conditions, they would have my entire sympathy, but I remind the House that we live in a different world industrially and socially compared with that so well described by the honorable member for Batman. The conditions of the worker to-day are infinitely better than those enjoyed . by the workmen in any other country. I do not believe that the worker should cease to strive to still further’ improve his lot, but I think that he has” arrived at a stage in the realization of a better living standard when he is no longer justified in taking the extreme step of holding up transportation, paralyzing industry, and causing unemployment and suffering to his fellow’ men. There are constitutional means for achieving his ends. I believe in employing those constitutional methods. A man who defies our laws and causes suffering and misery by paralyzing industry, holding up transportation and causing unemployment, should, if not a native-born, be sent to the country whence he came. Australia is a hospitable country, and men who offend against its hospitality should be dealt with. The powers of the bill certainly are wide. I had only one fault to find with it in its original form. In my opinion the powers contained in clause 8 a, b, were too wide. Therefore, I welcome the amendment which has been circulated by the Government, because, in my opinion, it will entirely remedy any faults which could have been found with the bill originally.
I do not fear that the Government will; use unwisely the powers which this measure will’ put into its hands. T am con- .fident that if, as the wheels of time revolve,” “honorable members opposite ,or their descendants, should, by a change in’ political’ fortune, find themselves on this side of the- “House supporting a Labour. Government, they can be depended’ upon not to misuse the provisions of this measure. No government would dare to do so. One argument against the bill is : that other countries might not allow deportees from Australia to be landed on their shores. A well-known fable in themythology of an ancient civilization tells of the fate of a certain undesirable character who, when cast out from among his people and thrown over a cliff, was rejected by the sea as unclean, and was suspended for all time midway between the top of the’ cliff and the sea. A more recent case was mentioned a day or two ago by the Leader of the Labour Opposition (Mr. Charlton), who reminded the House that a man named Freeman, who was deported during the war, was obliged to travel to and fro across the Pacific before eventually he found a landing place. In his case there was some doubt as, to the country of his origin. I do not believe that many persons will come within the deportation provisions of this bill, but experience during the war disclosed that no country can reasonably reject responsibility for its national progeny.
– This bill is aimed at a man who has been here for 30 years, and is only 31 years of age.
– Still the country of his birth cannot evade its responsibility. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition, the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) last night declared that for the first time in the history of Australian legislation it was proposed to make a distinction between a Britisher in Australia and a native-born Australian by prescribing different treatment for one as compared with the other. It seems, to me that the only reason why an Australianborn citizen who may commit offences specified in this bill, cannot be deported, is that we could not expect to foist upon another country a native-born Australian who was unpalatable to ourselves. Such a man is our own re.sponsibility. It may be urged that a. naturalized citizen has cast off his original nationality, and that in the event of deportation from Australia, the country of his origin could not be expected to receive him. The question of naturalization cropped up during the war. We discovered then that other countries claimed their nationals regardless of whether or not they had become naturalized in the country of their domicile, and it appears to me that foreign countries cannot .have it both ways. If during the war they claimed their nationals to fight for them, they cannot very well refuse to accept them if their presence in Australia is undesirable. I conclude by saying that I whole-heartedly support the second reading of the bill.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Cunningham) adjourned.
House adjourned nt 3.50 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 3 July 1925, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1925/19250703_reps_9_110/>.