6th Parliament · 1st Session
The President - took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
Conduct of Contractors : Prisoners in Turkey : Casualty Lists : Statement by Mr. McGregor : Number of Recruits: Obituary Notices.
– The Minister of Defence has already informed the Senate that the firm of Goode, Currant and Company, of Perth, have been struck off the list of tenderers for defence purposes, and I desire to know whether the Government are prepared to go further than that, and institute proceedings against any contractor who supplies inferior material’ for defence purposes during this war ?
– Each case will be considered on its merits. Where the conditions of a case warrant the step suggested being taken, of course it will be taken; but it was thought that the case of Goode, Durrant and Company would be met by striking the firm off the list of tenderers.
– Has the Minister of Defence any information bearing on the present condition of Australian prisoners of war in Turkey, and, if so, does he mind making it public?
– I have already announced that, through the Home Government, the Ministry approached the United States Government, and asked that their ambassador at Constantinople should supply us with all information possible as to prisoners of war in Turkey ; and, as a result of our representations, we have received information regarding the officers and crew of the submarine AE2. The same procedure will be followed in regard to military prisoners.
– Has the Minister any details in the Department as to the actual number of Australian prisoners now held by the Turks ?
– No other report than the one I have just referred to has yet been received.
– Will the Minister of Defence tell the Senate whether the lists of casualties which we have already received and are still receiving deal only with the landing of our troops at Gallipoli, or include casualties sustained in fighting after a landing had been effected?
– The lists include the casualties up to the dates mentioned in them. If the honorable senator will look at the lists, as received by the Department, he will see that they show the dates on which the casualties occurred, and that in some cases the dates are quite recent.
– Some little time ago, I drew the attention of the Minister of Defence to a statement made by Mr. McGregor, in Adelaide, that the military contracts were being carried out by the scum of the earth, and the Minister undertook to investigate the matter.’ I desire to know whether an investigation has been made, and, if so, with what result ?
– The press report of that statement, which was furnished by the honorable senator, has been sent on to the Attorney-General for advice.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD.- Can the Minister of Defence tell me how many troops have been sent from Australia in the Expeditionary Forces, and also how many men arein training for similar purposes?
– The number of men who had been trained up to the date of the last return I saw was 83,000.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Can the Minister tell me how many men have been sent away?
– I cannot say from memory; but if the honorable senator will give notice of a question, I will furnish the information on the next day of sitting.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answer tothe questions is: -
When first the casualty lists were received it was ordered that no public notice should be published until the lists were officially released. More recently an order was issued that on receipt of telegrams or letters from abroad, or from Defence Department, press references and obituary notices may be published if authorized in writing by relatives concerned.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the questions are: -
The following papers were presented : -
Defence : Troopship Inquiry at Brisbane - Summing-up by Assistant Minister for Defence.
Lands Acquisition Act 1906 - Land acquired under, at Lindfield, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.
European War: Expeditionary Forces: Recruiting: Conscription: Manufacture of Munitions: Small Arms Factory : Preference to Unionists : Conditions of Contracts - Party Truce - Referenda Bills - Tariff - Industrial Organization - Food Supplies and Prices - War Expenditure.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator Russell) proposed -
That this Bill be now read a first time.
– After she has raised the additional 35,000. Up to the time of which the honorable senator speaks, the number raised by Canada was only
– I will assume, for the sake oi argument, that Canada has already despatched 115,000 men.
– -At the time of which the honorable senator is speaking, we had raised 83,000 men for our Expeditionary Forces, without counting the troops mobilized for local defence.
– According to the Minister, Canada has 115,000 men at the front.
– Not at the front She has raised that number since the outbreak of the war, and the Canadian figures have always included troops mobilized for local defence.
– At the beginning of May last Canada had despatched 70,000 troops from her shores. How many had gone to the front was not stated. I. venture to say that those who had left Australia at that time did not number one-half of that total.
– What about the number despatched in proportion to population ?
– The population of Canada is 8,000,000 as against a population in Australia of 5,000,000.
– Then we have dona better than has Canada.
– And Canada is only seven days from the front, whereas we are six weeks from it.
– I am quite aware of that. I recognise that it is much easier to get men to the front from Canada than it is from Australia.
– The honorable senator has stated that Canada has despatched only 70,000 troops.
– She has already raised 115,000, and is now raising an additional 35,000. But as compared with Great Britain, what number have we placed in the field in proportion to our population? That is a question which I invite honorable senators to answer. Then I would ask “ Are we doing all that we might do, if we put forth our utmost efforts? “ How many men of a suitable military age are there in Australia? As a matter of fact, we have an enormous number whose services ought to be available. Our unmarried men between eighteen and thirty-five years of age total 525,000 or 526,000. Our unmarried men between thirty-five and forty-five years of age number 87,250. Consequently, we have upwards of 600,000 unmarried men between the fighting ages of eighteen, and thirty-five years. The services of these men should be available for the Empire’s needs if their health is satisfactory.
– Is the honorable senator advocating conscription?
– I will talk about conscription presently if it be necessary to do so. I say that we have in our midst 600,000 unmarried men of a fighting age.
– But they may not be of a fighting height.
– The standard height is 5 feet 3 inches, and I am of opinion that they would reach that. But, after making full allowance for those who would not do so, we still have 500,000 men to draw upon. In this connexion we must recollect that large numbers of married men are included amongst our Expeditionary Forces who have already gone to the front. Consequently, the number of unmarried men in those Forces must be very small. Senator O’Keefe has asked me if I am advocating conscription? I am not advocating conscription.
– That is the crux of the honorable senator’s argument.
– It is not. The crux of my argument is that we have never made our people realize the necessity for coming forward and freely offering their services at the present juncture. If they were impressed with the difficult position in which the Empire is placed, do honorable senators imagine that they would be holding back? We know that the essential need of Great Britain is men, more men, and still more men. I am satisfied that if our young men were conscious of the grave situation with which we are faced, a great many more would be rallying to the colours. In the earlier stages of the “war we contemplated despatching a Force of only 10,000 troops. Then the number was raised to 20,000, and gradually it has mounted to its present- dimensions. But what news was given to our people of the national emergency with which we are confronted? As a matter of fact, the country did not realize the grave necessities of the situation. It has been brought home to it only after months of fighting that the Mother Country is in a much more serious difficulty than we ever imagined. The people of England themselves were kept ignorant of the real position. The Commonwealth Government cannot be .blamed for the secrecy which has been observed. But the fact remains that all we were told of the progress of the war was of the most favorable character. We knew very little of the reverses experienced by our armies in the field. This policy of secrecy was initiated in Great Britain, and has been followed in this country to the detriment of the people, because if our young men had only realized the seriousness of the position many more would have flocked to the colours. Only the other day we were told in the newspapers that more recruits were offering their services than were required, and that consequently some volunteers were put aside.
– Who said that?
– I saw it stated in the newspapers on the authority of some of the commandants of the States.
– If so, they made that statement without the authority of the Minister. I would like the name of the commandants who made the statement.
– Let the honorable senator supply the names. Otherwise his statement will not help him.
– Unfortunately, I have to address myself to a body of honorable senators who are tongue-tied.
– I am quite as free as is the honorable senator, anyhow.
– Does not Senator Gould think that, in justice to the commandants concerned, he ought to supply me with their names?
– I will see if I cannot send the Minister a copy of the newspaper containing the statement. I say that we should have done everything possible to encourage recruiting, not merely by publishing notices in the newspapers to the effect that men of certain physical proportions were required to enlist, not merely by exhibiting a few posters in the city, but by a united effort on the part of our leaders in Parliament to impress our people with the grave situation with which we are faced.
– Has the honorable senator addressed any recruiting meetings ?
– I have not.
– Then the honorable senator should not criticise Ministers who have done so.
– The Government ought to have been prepared to take a lead with members of tho Opposition who are free, and who are in a position to address the country on this matter.
– A recruiting campaign in this State has been organized by the Australian Natives Association, and Ministers have already addressed meetings.
– But Ministers should have been at the head of the movement in order to give it the stamp of Government approval. Instead of occupying the time of Parliament in dealing with matters, the consideration of which might well stand over to a more convenient season, we should have been impressing upon the people the difficult situation in which the Empire finds itself to-day. It is not pleasant to say these things, and I want honorable senators to realize that I am saying them because I believe them to be true.
– Does not the honorable senator recognise that the Empire needs more than men at the present juncture?
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - But it requires men, and men again. If that fact had not been brought home clearly to the people in the Old Country, Britain would never have been able to raise an Army of 3,000,000 men. I hold that we can stimulate recruiting in our midst only by a strenuous effort in the direction I have indicated. In this* connexion I wish to quote from a newspaper paragraph the opinions expressed by Colonel Cameron regarding the fighting in Gallipoli. We all know the type of man that he is. He says -
A formidable task is ahead, but it can be accomplished if sufficient troops come forward, and it is Australia’s duty to see that the good work commenced by its soldiers is not finished by any other troops. It would be the greatest pity, after the sacrifice of so many valiant lives in the landing at Gaba Tepe. and the extreme heroism that characterized the whole of the operations carried out by the Australians, if by lack of men they should lose the chance of having their name inseparably connected with the conquest of the Narrows, which practically means the conquest of Turkey. The work of the Australians stands out above the doings of all others at the moment. All the kudos will be theirs if only Australia will quickly reinforce the gallant troops at Sari 8’air, and enable them to push on quickly to the Narrows. The greater the part Australia performs in the Dardanelles operations, naturally the greater the say will she have in the final settlement.
I quote that in support of my suggestion that still further efforts should be made to encourage recruiting.
– What does the honorable senator suggest?
– I suggest a campaign for the purpose throughout the country. I suggest that the leaders in Parliament on both sides, who have the time to do so, should give their attention to the matter.
– Ministers have no time to spare.
.- They will have still less time if they are required to attend Parliament week after week. ‘ I admit that the Minister of Defence has almost a superhuman task to perform at the present time.
– Is the honorable senator not aware that the Minister of Defence is to address a public meeting in the Melbourne Town Hall in the course of a few days with the object of encouraging recruiting?
.- I am glad to hear that he is, and I hope that he will be entirely success” ful. The Minister yesterday pointed out what the Government have done in their efforts to make provision for the supply of munitions of war. I am sorry that in the course of his statement, he made a backhanded slap at his predecessors in office. He told us that until September last nothing was done to make provision for the supply of munitions of war or the manufacture of certain arms. It was because of that statement that I asked him later to say when war was declared, and when the present Government took office. I asked also whether a Federal election had not taken place in the meantime.
– The honorable senator should also state that when we sought to postpone the elections because of the war, the party to which he belonged refused to do so.
– I do not wish to be drawn aside; but let me say that the Parliament had at the time been dissolved, and could not legally have been revived.
– It could have been done in twenty-four hours.
– No. The Parliament had been dissolved, and the Governor-General has no power to revive a Parliament that has been dissolved.
– The Imperial Parliament has the power.
– The honorable senator suggests that, like a lot of children, we should have rushed to the Imperial Parliament and said, “ We are in a fix, and we want you, notwithstanding your troubles, to help us out of our difficulty.” An election was on the board, and, rightly or wrongly, it was pursued to the end, with the result that a change of Administration took place. On their assumption of office the present Government realized that certain steps required to be taken because of the war.
– The honorable senator’s party refused the offer of the Labour party for a political truce.
– I have said that I do not wish to discuss that matter now, but I am prepared to say that the then Government took the only action they could take under the Constitution. Honorable senators should remember that no Minister can hold office for more than three months unless he is a member of one branch of this Legislature. When the Minister of Defence complains that nothing was done by his predecessor to provide for the manufacture of armament and munitions of war, I might just as fairly object that when the honorable senator was Minister of Defence in a former Administration, he took no steps to make such provision.
– He did take steps, and the honorable senator and his party opposed them.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - He did not take those steps until September last, and no one opposed him.
– Is not the honorable senator’s speech a covert attack on the Minister of Defence and the Defence Department?
– No; the purpose of my speech is to point out to honorable senators and the country the position of affairs, and to suggest that greater efforts should be put forth for the successful prosecution of the war.
– And as far as possible, by foul means, to prevent the referenda proposals going through.
– The honorable senator is stating what is not true.
– Order ! The honorable senator must not apply such a remark to anything that is said by an honorable senator. I did not catch what Senator Blakey said, but if he said something offensive to the honorable senator I shall ask him to withdraw it. In any case, the honorable senator is not entitled to say that what any honorable senator has said is untrue.
– I accept your ruling, sir, and withdraw my remark. I will say that what Senator Blakey said was incorrect. The honorable senator accused me of a foul attack.
– I withdraw the word “foul.”
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - It is quite incorrect to say that, in making this speech, I am actuated by a desire to prevent the referenda proposals being submitted to the people at a reasonable time.
– Did not the honorable senator’s party decide upon this action in caucus?
– I did not attend the caucus, and am speaking off my own bat.
– The honorable senator’s leader in another place is submitting a vote of censure upon the Government in connexion with the matter at the present time.
– I have nothing to do with that; though I have heard that something of the kind is taking place. It may be said that the Minister of Defence did not realize the necessity for assisting in our own defence by placing us in a position to provide a limited supply of munitions of war in the event of Australia being attacked; but I point out that the Government of Canada realized it, and obtained the information necessary to enable them to provide munitions of war for Great Britain.
– Have we not provided rifles and ships?
– I remind the honorable senator that the Small Arms Factory was established a long time ago. I want to know whether it is the intention of’ the Government that munitions of war shall be manufactured only at Government factories, or also in private factories? The Imperial Government are prepared to obtain munitions of war from private factories in Great Britain, from Canada, from the United States, or from any persons who are prepared to accept contracts. Do the Government propose to establish a Government institution for the manufacture of munitions of war, or will they at the same time encourage their manufacture by private firms? I should like to know, further, whether it is intended, in any contract they let for the purpose, to include a provision that none but unionists shall be employed? Do they propose that clause 31a of their contracts is to apply to factories in which munitions of war are manufactured, so that a member of a trades union may go to the workshops and talk to the men during meal hours?
– Why not?
– The honorable senator must know that the Chamber of Commerce of South Australia have set their face against that, and a number of manufacturers there are declining to tender for Government contracts because they refuse to accept clause 31a of those contracts. If the Government tell me that they are prepared to accept tenders from private firms, and will not hamper in any way their independence of action, well and good.
– Has any private firm offered to supply munitions of war?
– I am not personally in a position to answer the honorable senator; but
I have read in the newspapers that several firms have expressed their willingness to do so, and to place their factories at the disposal of the Government for the purpose. Ac the Newport Workshops at the present time, shells are being manufactured on a small scale.
– Where did the honorable senator get that information?
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - I got it from a newspaper.
– It must be true, because it was in a newspaper !
– Does the honorable senator say that it is not true?
– I say that the statement that shells are being made at the Newport Workshops is not true.
– I accept the Minister’s statement. At the Premiers’ Conference recently, every one of the Premiers stated that they were prepared to place their works and workmen at the disposal of the Government for the prosecution of the war.
– On conditions.
– I do” not know what the conditions were. If we are to do any good, it must be made manifest that this is not to be a question merely of unionist or non-unionist. We must realize that if half the workmen in our factories are unionists the other half are non-unionists, and have as much right to have their interests considered as have the unionists.
– Is the honorable senator prepared to conduct the war by tender ?
– I ask the honorable senator whether he is prepared to conduct the war by union labour only? Are all the men who are going to the front unionists ?
– Military unionism is the grandest unionism on earth just now. .
– If the honorable senator means to say that every man who goes into the firing line is a military unionist, I accept his statement; but a great many who have done so are not members of the Labour unions we have in Australia.
– Then they are not acting consistently with the principles they have adopted in going to the war.
– In offering to go to the war, they have been prepared to sink political and other differences.
– Does the honorable senator not think that it is unfortunate to drag in the question of unionism in connexion with the Military Forces?
– I say that men of every class have shown themselves ready to join the military union referred to by Senator Watson, and they are seeking for assistance from people outside. We should be prepared to give them every possible encouragement by making provision for the manufacture of munitions of war, quite irrespective of whether those engaged in their manufacture are unionists or nonunionists. After all is said and done, Senator Pearce and I are members of the one union composed of those who desire to maintain the integrity of the British Empire. We may differ upon many points, but all loyal men are at one upon that.
– The honorable senator would not give a job to a man who would not enter that union.
– It is open to every one. Senator Pearce could join the military union to-morrow, but there are certain difficulties in the way. Unfortunately, I have passed the military age. At this time every minor principle must be subordinated to the interests of the nation. I do not want to attack trade unionism or raise the question of whether or not it is wise. In certain circumstances I believe thoroughly in it, but I do not believe in some of the extremes to which it goes. We are all on the one plane with regard to the independence and integrity of the country. No matter what side of tho chamber an honorable senator Bits on, or whether he believes in unionism or not, the one common end and aim that all desire to attain is the integrity of our country. That is why I bring this question 11D. I do not want it to be said that obstacles are being thrown in the way of doing what we all agree is manifestly our duty, but it is not fair that artificial rules and regulations should obtain which f avoirone class at the expense of another. I am reminded that in August last a party truce was suggested. It was proposed that the election should not be held, and party warfare avoided. Mr. Hughes said at the time that the only question to be considered was the question of the war and that no other matter should be allowed to interfere. If he was correct in August last, his words are doubly applicable to-day, now that we find that the war is much more serious than we thought at first, and the nation in a much more parlous condition than we ever realized before. Notwithstanding this it is announced that Mr. Hughes is to move to-day in another place the preliminary motions in connexion with the referenda proposals that have already been two or three times before the country.
– Your leader in another place moves an amendment that is practically a want of confidence motion, and yet you say you do not wan party government at this time.
.- Then I am to understand from the honorable senator that the party which is dominant to-day has the right to bring forward anything it likes, and accuse us if we oppose it of raising a party question? The honorable senator knows as well as I do that the referenda questions! have been fought over and over again. They are looked at from two entirely different stand-points.
– They are national questions.
– They may or may not be, but they have created wide divergencies of opinion amongst .the people. They have been twice defeated, and yet are being thrust a third time upon the people. They represent one of the greatest party issues that we have had for many a long day, and the people fully recognise the fact.
– Did not the electors at the last election actually order that they should be re-submitted ?
.- No. The referenda proposals have been fought before, and will be fought again. It is not fair to bring them forward at this stage. It would be much better to bring the whole of our energies and intelligence to bear on the one great question, and make it the paramount issue of the hour. We should not drag in all sorts of questions, which, rightly or wrongly, cause intense party feeling and dissent among people who ought to be all working amicably together for a common end.
– And let the capitalist do just as he likes?
– There are on the statute-book laws which give the Government all the powers necessary to prevent the unfair treatment of any man in the country. That, however, is not the reason why the referenda proposals are advocated. It is because the party opposite think certain powers should be in the hands of one particular body representing the people at the expense of other bodies which also represent the people.
– They should be in the hands of the national body.
– I hope we all belong to the national party in the desire to see the nation progress, although we may differ as to the means. I have spoken, perhaps, a little warmly and plainly, but this is the time for plain speaking, and no manhas the right to regard my speech as an attempt to drag in party questions. My remarks regarding munitions of war and recruiting would have been just as applicable to any other body which had pursued the same course as the present Government. We must arouse and waken ourselves, move and stir ourselves, in order that we may become practically a nation in arms instead of a nation only partially in arms. We see the great bulk of our able-bodied young men, day after day playing football, and attending fights at stadiums, instead of bending their energies to the most important issue of all. Many of them have not yet been made to realize the gravity of the position. It has not dawned on them that their own freedom and independence depend upon the action taken at this juncture. It must be galling to our soldiers at the front to know that while they need more men to help them to retain the positions they have already won, the majority of their own friends and compatriots are doing practically nothing for the defence of the Empire. It is the first duty of every ablebodied young man in this community to assist those who are giving their lives for their country, yet many men equally capable, and equally fit for the purpose, stand idly by and amuse themselves.
– How can we get at those men ?
– Take them !
– I have suggested more than once an earnest campaign to assist recruiting.
– Senator Bakhap ‘s position is clear; yours is not.
– The honorable senator would say, “ We will put into force the provisions of the Defence Act under which, for the purpose of defending our own soil, the Minister has the power to call upon every ablebodied man to serve.”
– We want the best men.
– We do not want to destroy the best men in the country. We do not want to takeall the men with grit, energy, and determination, and possibly lose them, while retaining here many men who are not nearly so good and cannot be so useful in the future development of our country. All those who are hanging back should be made to realize the necessity of a true union amongst the whole of the people of the Empire.
– There is no lack of volunteers at present.
– We have enrolled only 83,000 out of an available population, apart from married men, of 600,000
– Not all available.
– We might take off 10 per cent., but, even allowing a larger percentage, it can safely be said that we have 500,000 unmarried men of the fighting age available, besides a large number of married men of the same ages still waiting to be drawn upon. At the same time, we recognise that these should not be called in while single men, without ties are available.
– Then you believe in conscription ?
– We may talk about conscription later. The necessity for it has not arisen yet. We must put more energy into the matter, and if we find that that does not do what is necessary, it will be time to consider other proposals.
.- The fact that I have to keep an important appointment must be my justification for intervening at this stage of the debate. I would put to Senator Gould the question; “Is it not possible that we can be divided with regard to social politics, and yet united in regard to the war ? “
– That is like offering war with one hand and truce with the other.
– No j that is practically the position taken up at the last election by the Government of which Senator Gould was a supporter-. They accepted the assurance of the then Leader of the Opposition, that in everything they did the Opposition would support them and they acted on this by inviting the Leader of the Opposition to attend their conference with the State Governments. At the same time they were conducting a vigorous campaign throughout the Country against the ‘principles represented by the Labour party. Then the Prime Minister gave up his campaign and came to Melbourne, and the Leader of the Opposition _lid the sam’e-. After the conference was over each resumed the leadership of his party in the campaign.
– Our party withdrew the opposition to the then Prime Minister, but the other party did not withdraw the opposition to Our leader. ‘Senator PEARCE .-That also is a fact, and “much to be regretted. The Government of the day said they were prepared to accept the support of the Opposition and the Opposition pledged their support. Why cannot the same position be maintained to-day ? Why cannot the Opposition say, “ We are going to fight your social policy as bitterly and strenuously as We ‘can, but back up your “War policy to the last man* and the last shilling “ ? What I complain of is that the Opposition “within the last week or two seem to have determined on a policy of -attacking the war programme of the Government for the purpose of assisting them in their campaign against the Government’s referenda, and other proposals. Both in ‘the press and Parliament there has been, during the last two weeks, a decided change in the attitude of the Opposition towards the war policy of the Government.
– The honorable senator ‘cannot prevent criticism or -discussion.
– I have no desire to do so. The present Coalition Govern ment in Great Britain is being criticised, and it is right that it Should be4 but there is a difference between criticism and misrepresentation. There is a difference between fair, honest, and helpful criticism and that kind of criticism which drags in party questions, tries to make pob> tical capital) and refuses to recognise any virtue in the other side. 1 must answer some of _ the honorable senator’s criticism of the character to which I have just referred. He says first that we are wrong, or will be wrong, if we apply the conditions which we pledged ourselves to the electors to apply to Government employment Or work carried out by the Government. We were elected on that understanding, and now the honorable senator says we should’ be faithless to it. The late Liberal Government in Great Britain recognised the importance, notwithstanding the existence of the war, of encouraging trade unionism and cultivating friendly relation’s with the workers. I have received, during the last week, the official report of the formation of the Dockers’ Battalion at Liverpool, under the Earl of Derby. Why was that done? The War Office, desiring to expedite the provisioning and loading of transports and other vessels, organized at Liverpool a Dockers’ Battalion, and put Earl Derby in command. One of the conditions laid down was that before a man could be sworn into that battalion he must be a member of the Docker? Union. , The condition was not laid down by the Union; it was laid down by the British Government, because they saw that it was the best way in which to avoid Labour disputes anti trouble. They recognised that friction would be created if they allowed men to come in wh’o were not unionists.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT Gould. - In that connexion One could understand such a step being taken, but that is quite different from the position that I was attacking.
– To contradict something which is partly correct is unwise. I admit that there is some truth in the statement of the honorable senator that there is -a difference, but it is only one of degree. Whereas the whole of the services of the Dockers’ Battalion are at the disposal of the British Government, the employees in the factories to which the honorable senator referred may be work- ing but partially on defence work. There are, however, factories in Australia that are wholly employed on defence work ; and in the case of the woollen mills, the analogy is complete, the whole of the employees’ time being devoted to defence work. Yet I am said to be wrong in insisting, not on preference being given to unionists - that condition has not been insisted on - but that union organizers shall have the right to go into these mills during meal hours and see that the employees are receiving the wages laid down by the law of the land. That is all that these inspectors are empowered to do, and the only employers who have refused to tender under those conditions are to be found in South Australia.
– Has more than one in South Australia refused ?
– I cannot say so off-hand, but I can say that refusal to tender for defence supplies will not hinder our getting supplies. One manufacturer who refused to tender under the conditions laid down has already learned this. He has had his output in respect of articles required by the Department requisitioned. I can assure honorable senators that if manufacturers seek to fight the conditions laid down, and refuse to tender, they must not think that they have the Department in a quandary; we shall exercise our full powers to requisition for all our requirements.
– And, of course, pay proper value for them.
– Certainly ; and at the same time we shall lay down such conditions as we think right to be observed in the manufacture of these articles. In this matter we are not going to the length the British Government did in regard to the dockers at Liverpool; yet honorable gentlemen opposite who say that we should not have a party fight are actually bringing it forward as an instance of our endeavour to bring party politics into the war question.
– Has it not been done for party purposes?
– Wo. The Government realize that just as much as they are entitled to see that the employer who produces an article has the opportunity to secure a fair profit, so they are entitled to see that the men who actually make the article are paid a decent rate of wages, or that rate to which they are entitled under the law of the land.
– The law already provides for that, and the employees can go to the Courts and insist on the conditions laid down in the law being carried out.
– All that the Government are doing is to see that the wages conditions laid down by the law of the land are observed, but because we do that which we are entitled to do we are accused of bringing in party politics.
– Any employee can give information against his employer.
– Unfortunately, very often men are the victims of circumstances, and the giving of information against employers means the loss of jobs.
– There is punishment provided if a man is discharged on that account.
– But we might as well expect employees to attend to the sanitary conditions of a factory and report deficiencies in regard to fittings. Let a man do that, and see what happens to him. That is why Government factory inspectors are appointed, and in the same way we have appointed men as inspectors to see that wages conditions are observed. But we have told these men that they are not to interfere with the employees at their work, or to take away the time the employees are selling to their employer. They are to enter the factory at the meal hour, in the employee’s own time, in order to make inquiries as to the sale of the employee’s labour to the employer.
– Does not that interfere with the output of material, seeing that men who were contracting for supplies are not doing so now?
– There will be no shortage in connexion with supplies for the Commonwealth. The mere fact that a man does not tender to supply the Commonwealth will not make us short of supplies, because we have ample power to requisition, and in a number of have already done so. So far, there has been no lack of tenders. Before I sit down I wish to say a few words in regard to the comparison made by Senator Gould between the number of men trained bY Canada and the number we have despatched to the war from Australia.. Canada has agreed to raise 35,000 more - site has not yet raised them - and when she has done so she will have 150,000 at the front; but all the figures that I have seen in regard to Canada show that the troops for local mobilization are generally included, though I do not know whether they are included in the 115,000, which, after deducting the 35,000, is the actual number of Canadians at the front. We have raised 83,000, not including about 8,000 troops organized for local defence, nor the men in the Fleet. There is another point of view to be considered. Ships can convey men from Canada to Europe and return to Canada in three weeks, whereas in the case of Australia the same process occupies three months. A transport costs from £800 -to £1,000 a day, and when we compare the cost to Canada of landing 1,000 troops in England with the cost to Australia of sending the same number of troops to the front, the cost to the Commonwealth is five or six times the cost to Canada. Again, our troops are the highest paid troops in any of the Dominions. We have no reason for crying “ stinking fish “ in regard to what the Commonwealth is doing. At the same time, I join with Senator Gould in saying that there are many young men in Australia who could, and should, volunteer, but are not doing so. Considerable efforts, however, are being made by various organizations to stir up enthusiasm and, as a result, there is an increasing stream of men coming forward. I take this opportunity to contradict emphatically a statement that has been made that we are losing 10,000 men each month. We have not yet lost 10,000 men, and the fighting has extended over more than a month.
– We have had 8,000 announced casualties in a little over seven weeks.
– The statement that we are losing at the rate of 10,000 men a month is not true. Furthermore, many of the 8,000 are already back at the firing line. Every effort to stimulate recruiting is receiving, and will receive, encouragement from the Government.
– As the Minister in his opening remarks voiced an idea that I was about to urge on Senator Gould, I need not pursue that question, but I protest against the systematic action of honorable members of the Opposition in the Commonwealth Parliament in endeavouring to make use of the war for party purposes. On nearly every occasion on which an honorable member of the Opposition rises to speak he introduces the subject of unionism versus non-unionism in connexion with the war. I ask Senator Gould : Has not this war resulted from the determination of the British nation, including Australia, to preserve liberty, justice, and freedom for the human race? He will admit that that is so. I ask him another question - Does he not realize that unionists are banded together for a similar purpose? The only need for unionism is the fact that in the past - and even now in some cases - unscrupulous employers on every occasion have taken unfair advantage of their employees, who, being weak, were unable to resist them. It was necessary for unions to be formed, and they have now become strong enough to combat the unfair attacks of employers. As a rule, honorable members of the Opposition represent employers, and they desire that the employing class should still have the power to crush the workers and dictate the terms on which they shall work and live. Largely with the desire of damaging unionism honorable members of the Opposition seek to ally this question of unionism with war matters. There are instances where they have pleaded with the Government to drop all party questions and put in the background all proposed legislation, and deal with nothing but the war. What a ridiculous position they would be placing themselves and the people of Australia in if the Government accepted that advice! In the first place, how would it help the war ? How would it help the people who are fighting on the other side of the world if this Parliament were closed for the next twelve months? Would it assist in gaining a single victory? Would it assist in equipping any Australian man to go and fight for the Empire ? I do not see how it would. On the other hand, if the important legislation which demands attention is delayed, it may cause very serious trouble in Australia, if not in other parts of the Empire, after -the war is finished. Every one who has read history knows that at the end of a war there is a period of great depression. All the factories which had been engaged actively in manufacturing munitions suddenly stop, and there is a dislocation of trade and industry. That is going to occur all over the world at the end of the present war; it is bound to occur in Australia. Before this Parliament is adjourned we should pass the necessary legislation to put Australia in a position, if we possibly can, to employ all unemployed labour as soon as the war is finished, to mitigate the effects of the dislocation of industry, and we can do that by passing, as complete as possible, a Tariff which would enable dozens of new industries to be established. If, however, the new industries we propose to establish are to be of any material service in avoiding the trouble which is likely to occur at the end of the war, they must be established before that event. I ask Senator Gould what is the use of waiting till the end of the war, and then starting to legislate to deal with the troubles that follow a war ? The sooner we legislate the better. I am astonished that the leading Victorian newspaper - the Age– - which has always recognised the importance of having a Tariff, is to-day, for some unknown reason, prepared to defer the revision of the Tariff until the war is finished.
– They wanted the Tariff a week ago, but they do not want it to-day.
– The reason is not unknown - it is the Referenda Bills.
– I do not like to make that suggestion, but it seems to me that the Age is advocating that the consideration of the Tariff should be deferred simply because it believes that if that course were taken the submission of the referenda proposals would also be deferred. I do not desire to occupy the time of the Senate, because I know that this measure has to go through to-day, but there is just one other question I wish to refer to. All the senators on the other side of the Chamber are denouncing the Government for their determination to introduce the Referenda Bills. In the history of Australia there never was a time when the amendments of the Constitution which would be effected by those measures were so badly needed as at the present moment. Does not everybody know that all over Australia to-day wealthy men are monopolizing articles of common use in order that the prices may go up and they may derive immense profits? We read in the press every day, and we know of our own knowledge, that men are deliberately putting up the prices of articles which everybody must use in order that they may become rich.
– Was the price of the bullocks that brought £37 each at Kyneton the other day deliberately put up? Why does not the honorable senator talk sense?
– Why did Angliss export meat at all ?
– Who but Angliss asked for an inquiry?
– Now that others have done, I will give one concrete instance in proof of my statement. Not very many weeks ago, when I was coming by train from Adelaide to Melbourne, there was in the same compartment a gentleman who is reputed to be, and who, I believe, is, one of the richest men in Australia, and, by the way, he had something to do with Senator Bakhaps bullocks. In the ordinary course of conversation this gentleman stated, in a manner which suggested that he thought there was nothing improper in the statement, that he had succeeded in practically cornering dripping. This is an article which is only consumed by the poorest section of the community. This wideawake gentleman, in travelling round the country, noticed that we were going to have a rather bad season, and that the price of butter was likely to rise, and, consequently, he reflected that the price of dripping must rise too, and said to himself, “I might as well make a bit out of it.” He instructed a broker to buy him some dripping, and when the broker asked, “How much?” the gentleman said, “ All you can get.” “ But how much?” said the broker; put a limit on the quantity.” The gentleman replied, “ You buy all the dripping you can get.” The broker said, “Why do you not go and buy it yourself?” The gentleman said, “ They would not sell it to me; you buy it for me.” In the train he assured the company who were travelling with him that he had succeeded in buying 50 tons of dripping at 4d. a lb. He said, “ After a few weeks people wanted dripping, and they had to come to me. I sold some of it back to them for 5£d. a lb. I sold two or three tons for 6d. a pound, and I am going to hang on to the remainder, and make them pay a pretty stiff price for it.” What has been the result of that action?
Any one who knows the price of dripping is aware that it has risen 100 per cent. That kind of thing has been going on throughout the whole of Australia, and we have no power to prevent it. In one State there was a Government who had the courage to endeavour to fix prices; that is successful to a certain extent, but it is only good for the people of that State. We know to-day that the people of New South Wales are living, or can live, at a very much cheaper rate than can the people of Victoria or South Australia, because the prices of commodities were fixed, and the controllers of them were prevented from charging more than certain rates. The point I am coming to is that it is absolutely necessary that this Parliament should have the power to deal with these people, not in one State or one part of the Commonwealth, but in the whole of the Commonwealth, in order that this method of fixing -prices, or preventing depredation by people who deliberately put up prices, shall be uniform throughout Australia.
– If those States had refrained from fixing prices, would not the prices have been uniform throughout Australia so far as commerce would permit?
– They might have been uniform, but they would have been uniformly high.
– In Tasmania we have had to pay more for our wheat, simply because other States checked the transmission of the parcels we bought.
– If the honorable senator will reflect, it may occur to him that if this Parliament had had the power it asked for that would not have occurred, and Tasmania would not have suffered. If he has the interest of his State at heart he will immediately support the carrying of the Referenda Bills, and do his utmost to induce the people of his State to carry them when the proper occasion arises. I do not desire to occupy more time, but I felt impelled to give expression to one or two thoughts in the hope that it might deter the members of the Opposition from continuing to make use of the war in order to attempt in an underhand way to prevent important legislation which is urgently and eminently desirable from being carried early enough to be of benefit to the people of Australia.
– To have a repetition of the criticism we had from the Opposition only a week ago on a similar measure, after the complete answer which was given to it on that occasion, is merely a waste of time. There has been no cuttingof new ground. Senator Gould’s comparisons to-day are on all fours with the comparisons made by Senator Millen in leading the discussion on the last Supply Bill. It was shown quite clearly then that the comparisons were altogether unfair. Comparisons usually are looked upon as rather odious things, but at the present time I think they are worse than odious. To hear born Australians actually attempting to belittle their country in the eyes of the Empire, and to have those statements quoted elsewhere without a full explanation, and probably held up as a horrible example of the effects of Labour government in Australia, without the other side being put, is surely party warfare of an extremely intensified kind and without the usual justification ! If there was no war we could understand the members of the Opposition trying to score off the Labour party in respect to anything they did, but to try to make Australia appear as lagging when we know full well, from the figures quoted, that, leaving out of consideration human life, she must be spending at least £2 for every £1 which Canada is spending, and then to make the unfavorable comment that we are not doing our duty is, I think, party warfare of a kind which does not reflect much credit on our critics. That is actually the position we are in to-day. When the time comes for Australia to pay £84,000 for every £23,000 which Canada will have to pay, for these are the comparative figures; when the time comes to foot the bill, and we have to formulate ways and means to raise the necessary taxation, I dare say that the old familiar cry of the extravagance of the Labour Government will be trotted out here and elsewhere. During the last few years, when the Labour party have been in power, the most common complaint we have heard against them has been that of extravagance. “ A financial debauch “ became quite a hackneyed saying in this Chamber and another place; and I dare say we shall have a repetition of such statements when the war bill comes in to us, as come it will. We cannot send troops to the other side of the world without incurring an enormous expense. I dare say it would be easy to show that so far we have spent £2 for every £1 which Canada has expended, and that is without taking into consideration the enormous bill which must have been incurred in connexion with the Australian Navy since the war began. I am really too scared to go into an analysis of the expenditure at this juncture. I do not think it would be wise to let the taxpayers know what it has been up to the present time.
– In the next two years, we shall have to spend about £130,000,000 if we do our duty proportionately with the United Kingdom.
– Would it be reasonable for Australia, to attempt to raise man for man with the United Kingdom, considering the enormous cost?
– This is an all-in game.
– The expense I am referring to is the enormous cost of transportation. When we recollect that the Seat of Government in the Old Country is within 200 miles of the front - that it is merely a hop, step, .and jump to the firing lines in Flanders and France - the difference between the task which we have set ourselves and that which confronts Great Britain will be apparent. These are facts which we cannot ignore, and to attempt to institute a comparison to our detriment, between conditions which are 80 dissimilar, is very unfair indeed. We know that the object of honorable senators opposite is to arouse the country against the Labour party. But I venture to say that any effort in that direction will be futile, seeing that the people so recently expressed themselves definitely on certain questions of social legislation which were put before them. As the Minister stated this morning, there is no earthly reason why we should not proceed with that legislation. By so doing the Government will not be prevented from pressing forward with their war preparations. As a matter of fact, they may be helped in that direction.
– If that were so I would assist honorable senators opposite.
– The referenda proposals, if carried, will give the Government control of many things which they do not control now. I hope that as a result we shall establish works for the manufacture of all war materiel in regard to the supply of which a difficulty is experienced. Everybody recognises that our greatest need at the present time is a knowledge of how to do certain things. We know that the Government have endeavoured to obtain that knowledge. We cannot expect a young country like Australia to be in possession of either Government or trade secrets to the same extent as are older countries such as France, Germany, and Great Britain. Knowing how carefully they guard those secrets, we all recognize that they are naturally very loath to let others share them. If we had our own Government factories we should be able to experiment in many directions with a view to adding to out knowledge of the manufacture of war munitions. We are pledged to bring forward the referenda proposals, and it is idle for honorable senators opposite to attempt to prevent us doing so. In face of the mandate of the people, is it not ridiculous for them to continue their opposition to preference to unionists?
– The referenda proposals were turned down by the electors on two occasions, and honorable senators opposite now wish to bludgeon the people into accepting them.
– When a man or woman gets a ballot-paper into his or her hands it cannot be said that the elector is being bludgeoned. Each elector will exercise the franchise just as he thinks fit. I say unhesitatingly that the defeat of the referenda proposals was more in the nature of a victory for the press of Australia than anything else. I cannot understand why electors should return Labour representatives, and at the same time reject those proposals.
– Senator Shannon himself was returned by the Labour vote.
– There is one aspect of this question which it is well for us to remember. If the Opposition are so anxious for us to create a National Government, why do they not put all their cards on the table, and boldly declare how far they are willing to give effect to the express mandate of the people ? Are they prepared to abide by the determination of the country on the question of preference to unionists, or do they wish us. to abandon that principle? Are they willing to forego their hostility to it?
– The questions which the honorable senator asks have already been decided by the people on two occasions.
– A vote has been taken upon them.
– And we secured * very much increased vote in favour of them at the last time of asking.
– All these things indicate the attitude of the country in regard to them. If honorable senators opposite have their minds -A on the establishment of a National Government at this particular juncture, they should let us know exactly what they propose.
– I do not intend to occupy the attention of honorable senators on this occasion as long as I did on a previous one, because I think that I have almost sufficiently ventilated my views upon one important phase of the war. When I spoke last week on the method which should be adopted in the raising of the necessary troops to insure a successful termination, of the present struggle, I affirmed my belief that the majority of the people of Australia did not entertain similar views to mv own. Within the past few days, however, that belief has been considerably weakened. I am now quite convinced that there is in the Commonwealth an immense body of most valuable and intelligent public opinion behind the stand which I then took up. I have received numerous letters congratulating me upon the opinions which I expressed on the occasion in question, and I have been the recipient of very warm congratulations from that section of the community which at first blush I thought would be opposed to me. I have received congratulatory messages from numberless female voters who believe that the course which I have suggested is the right one to adopt. Only a few days ago I had occasion to condole with a young woman who had just received the sad intelligence that her brother had been killed at the front. The casualty has not yet been announced in the published lists, but it is only too true that this young man has met his death at the hands of the enemy. In discussing her bereavement the young woman .remarked, “ I am altogether in favour of the opinions which you have expressed. In our family we have given two sons to the cause of the Empire. One has already been killed. We are prepared to give the third son to assist in vindicating that cause, although the sacrifice will mean much to us. But we do feel a little hurt that while we have already given two out of the male members of our family there are other families containing five and six robust sons not one of whom has gone to the front.” It is now dawning on the minds of the people that conscription is equitable, and that it gives effect to what is the shibboleth of every Democrat, namely, equality of sacrifice. I once more ask honorable senators, irrespective of party, to reflect that at present we are adopting recruiting methods which are antiquated, and which illustrate the natural conservatism of even the most advanced Democrat - methods which are ages old in the Mother Country, and which are absolutely derogatory to us as legislators and as units of a great Empire. This is not a question of lack of courage so much as one of the vacillatory nature of the human temperament. I noticed in yesterday’s Age a statement to the effect that for some time nast about 33 per cent, of the men who volunteer for enlistment, and who successfully undergo the medical examination, do not present themselves to be sworn in. I do not mean to suggest that these men are lacking in courage-
– Thirty-three per cent, of whom ?
– Thirty-three per cent, of the men who undergo examination and are declared medically fit do not present themselves to be sworn in.
– Over what period?
– In order to overcome this difficulty the men are now being marched straight from the medical examination to be sworn in.
-ley. - It was also stated that after emerging successfully from the medical examination, recruits are allowed a little time in which to arrange their private affairs.
– The fact remains that if they do not now present themselves to be sworn in they may be treated as deserters
– The honorable senator’s imputation is that lads who volunteer change their minds and run away.
– I say that it is stated in the press of this metropolis that 33 per cent, of those who have hitherto presented themselves for examination and have been declared medically fit failed to attend later to be sworn in and formally enlisted.
– Is that an official statement ?
– That statement, with particulars, appeared in the Age of yesterday morning, and also in the Argus. If it is inaccurate it can be contradicted.
– It was also stated that the system has been altered.
– Yes, and that is in order to give no chance in future for an exhibition of this perfectly human characteristic of vacillation. To supplement the English language with a little plain Australian, 33 per cent, of those who have in the past been declared medically fit have been doing the crayfish trick.
– Does not the honorable senator think that he should have something more reliable than the authority of a paragraph in the Age or in the Argus before making a statement like that?
– I gave my authority, and if the statement is inaccurate it is open to the Minister of Defence, or Ministers representing him in his absence, to get up and give the facts. I have only referred to the statement as evidence of that vacillation and indecision in human nature which it is the duty of this Parliament and of the country, in this supreme Imperial crisis, to rectify by altering the methods of enlistment that so far have been adopted.
– Why is not the Coalition Government in Great Britain proposing conscription ?
– I think it is because they have not yet a proper appreciation of the situation. Senator Gould quoted something which had fallen from the lips of Colonel Cameron, an officer and a gentleman for whom I have the very highest regard. Just about the time of the declaration of war he delivered himself publicly of certain opinions that made a very great impression upon me, and which, I believe, went to the heart of the matter. He said that the cause of the war at bottom was a race movement. Certain races, consciously or unconsciously, desire elbow room. He added that two of the most vital points in connexion with the forthcoming struggle would be found to be the Suez Canal and the Dardanelles. The sequel has shown that Colonel Cameron is possessed of a great deal of military prescience. I wish him an addition to the honours which have fallen to him in previous campaigns on behalf of the Empire, and I wish him, and all with him, a safe return after victory has been achieved.
– The honorable senator denounced him enough in Tasmania.
– I am speaking of the officer and gentleman, and not of the politician. This is one of those matters in which persons of Senator Ready’s type of mind fail to discriminate. I have not left the military question, and will return to it later; but I wish to say a word or two here on the talk and recrimination indulged in in respect to National Governments, the referenda proposals, and all the rest of it. When, after the long adjournment, we were given an opportunity, upon a Ministerial statement, to discuss a number of matters of greater or less importance, I said that I expected no quarter from the Labour party in this regard. Knowing what I do of the internal organization of the party, I said that I was confident that the referenda proposals would be brought forward again. I have never been in a position necessitating the extension of any very great consideration to other people. I dare say I would extend some if the necessity arose, but my natural temperament is such that I ask quarter ‘ from no one. So I say to the Labour party now, “If you care to bring forward the re, ferenda proposals again, do so, and we will defeat them.” A hundred years ago to a day, on a very memorable occasion, Wellington said the same of the forces of the great man then opposed to him. He said, “ He brought them along in the old style, and we drove them off in the old style.” Let the Labour party bring on their proposals, and set the community by the ears, and their efforts will probably produce very unexpected results. As I intend to discuss the referenda proposals when they come before the Senate, it is not necessary that I should occupy time at present by advancing arguments which, I think, will be found conclusive in the minds of many people outside as to the fallacies inherent in them from their conception. It is incumbent on us in Australia, not to consider what Canada has done, and not to consider the situation except from the Australian stand-point. While I am an ardent advocate of the system of conscription, I am not blind to the fact that other matters have to be considered if Australia’s full strength is to be displayed in the cause of the Empire.
– Is the honorable senator aware that the Irish party passed a resolution against conscription ?
– The interjection brings me back again to the question of the referenda proposals, and compels me to say that there is something in the contention that they should not be introduced at this time to set the people of Australia by the ears. Senator Ready will admit that the Irish party in the House of Commons are foregoing just as much at the present juncture as the Labour party here would be asked to forego if they did not at present introduce the referenda proposals. If, in the Imperial Parliament, after long discussion and agitation, the aspirations of the Irish people and the realization of their ideal of a measure of self-government for Ireland had almost reached consummation, and the Irish -party consented to leave to the future its final achievement, do not honorable senators opposite see that in the cause of national unity at this juncture and for the defence of the nation, it might reasonably be asked that the referenda proposals should be discussed later on?
– The honorable senator is getting away from the fact that the Irish party are opposed to conscription.
– They may be just as illogical and purblind in that respect as any other party, whether Liberal, Labour, or Conservative. I am absolutely certain that I do not stand alone in Australia in my advocacy of conscription. There is a tremendous body of popular opinion marshalling itself behind me and behind the more able men who are advocating the system at this juncture. ‘
– Did the honorable senator advocate conscription during the recent Federal elections?
– I advocated conscription and the utilization of the whole of the forces of Australia during the time of the election and immediately subse quent to the election in the columns of the Labour newspaper representing the honorable senator’s party in Tasmania. No one can gainsay that. This is not something which I sprung upon the publicyesterday or the day before.
– Does the honorable senator advocate the conscription of thewealth as well as of the manhood of Australia?
– Taxation of the wealth of the community upon an equitable basis is conscription of that wealth. Does Senator Ready advocate the voluntary payment of taxes? Does he advocate the voluntary surrender of the moneys necessary to meet the requirements of the Government of the Commonwealth ? He does not say any such thing. He agrees that the Government should conscript, as every sensible Government does, the moneys necessary to carry on the services of the nation. It is only one step further to conscript the manhood of the nation. It is incumbent upon us, first and foremost, to do our best to second the efforts of our own men, who have done so much in Europe to achieve fame and renown for the Commonwealth. There is another obligation resting upon us. We are continually hearing appeals to subscribe money for the relief of the Belgian people. This Legislature, doing honour to itself, voted a considerable sum of money for the relief of those heroic people who staved off for a time the first onrush of the German Forces. One of the first phrases I have come across in my reading about the war has been the statement that it is incumbent upon the Democracy of the British Empire to bring the long agony of the people of Belgium to an end - Belgium, the victim alike of German greed and of British and French unpreparedness. Do honorable senators recognise that every day the war lingers on prolongs the agony of these unfortunate people, who committed no crime but that of standing up for the defence of the integrity of their own country? There is a supreme moral obligation resting upon us as upon every other portion of the Empire to do our level best in the circumstances. When I was interrupted by Senator Ready, I was referring to the fact that I am not unmindful that many other factors require to be considered besides the levying of men, and the levying of them equitably, which is all that is implied by conscription. Gallant and heroic as our men who have gone to the front have proved themselves to be on every occasion which has demanded that they should show their manhood, I say that while the volunteer has, perhaps, more of the spirit of adventure in him, there are men in Australia at the present time, of the ideal military age, who far surpass in military physique many of those who have gone to Gallipoli. It would not be difficult at the present time to recruit compulsorily 50,000, 60,000, or 100,000 men in Australia of military age, physically superior to those who are at present at the front. They would not be their superiors in natural courage or in the spirit of self-sacrifice, but they would be superior to them in physique, and in the qualities of endurance necessary for a protracted struggle. This, at least, may be said, that they would be quite as good as conscripted Turks, Germans, or Russians. Courage is abundantly evident in the Australian people. It is not their courage that I am afraid of, but it is the courage, or the lack of it, in their political leaders. Their political leaders talk generalities, and speak of what ought to be done, but they do nothing definite. They are too much afraid of the elections which will come on two or three years hence. That consideration overwhelms them. I say that it is absolutely essential to bring about an equality of sacrifice in the prosecution of this1 war, which has already lasted too long, but which may last very much longer.
– The honorable senator is not singling out any party in his reference to the leaders:
– I am not. Last week I made it abundantly evident that I was referring to the leaders of my own party as well as to those who at present hold Ministerial office.
– The honorable senator is above all parties.
– I speak what I believe to be right, and because I believe that what I suggest is in the interests of the nation. Apart from any supporters of my views in this chamber, a tremendous army is being recruited in support of them outside.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.30 p.m.
– Ministers need not be apprehensive that I shall, either intentionally or inadvertently, by my remarks delay the passage of the Bill to any appreciable extent. Many things besides men are necessary to enable us to put forward the great effort of which we are undoubtedly capable if we address ourselves properly to the war. Ministers may very properly ask us, when we rise to criticise - and I hope they will recognise that my criticisms are not unfriendly - to deliver ourselves of something definite, something that will be of assistance in the prosecution of the war, and the realization of the ideal we all entertain. I have spoken from time to time of the necessity for economy. Economy is necessary because this war may have to be prosecuted for much longer than we now believe, and there may be other contingencies after a state of peace has been established which will necessitate our being in a state of preparation not only as regards our Forces and their equipment, but as regards our financial ability to continue a struggle perhaps in another quarter. That naturally is one of my reasons for advocating that we should conscript and organize our Forces on the most economical lines observed by other nations which are parties to this great struggle. I hope my remarks in that regard will not be misunderstood. I know as well as the Minister, and so does every member of this Legislature, what is one of the vital difficulties that confront us in exhibiting our full strength at this juncture. A very curious notion is abroad, possibly because of certain declarations of the British war authorities, that all munitions provided for our Forces, and all their equipment, must be on exactly the same lines and of the same character as the equipment of the Forces sent to the fields of Europe by the Old Country.
– It needs to be the very best.
– It does; but it need not necessarily be of identically the same character as the British, especially if we can more speedily equip our men with arms and munitions of another pattern. When the Boer war began, the British War Office intimated to Australia that only infantry was required, but Australia insisted on sending mounted men. It turned out that the military instincts of the Australian administrators were correct, as mounted men were found to” be the supreme necessity in South Africa.
– They are playing a very small part in this war.
– But that incident showed that the War Office “do not know everything down in Judee.’ If they do, why are we permitted to govern ourselves to the extent that we do? A very peculiar state of affairs exists in connexion with the defence question in Australia; but the time for general criticism is not yet. We want to win the war. Some of the conditions in the Defence Department are positively appalling, so appalling that I would not mention them here or at a party meeting, or at a public gathering of any description.
– Then you do have party meetings?
– Of course. The honorable senator is not a child. I do not always attend them, but I frequently do. It has been said that it is of no use for us to recruit troops unless we can provide: them with rifles of a pattern approved by the War Office; but the French and Belgian troops who are fighting alongside the British are not armed with the same rifle. The Italians have a rifle of their own, and so, presumably, have the Greeks. The Bulgarians have one, I think, of German manufacture. The rifles of the different armies of Europe, many of whom are allied with us, are in many cases of a substantially different character. If, then, we cannot at the moment get sufficient rifles of an approved pattern to arm the troops that we can prepare for the war, if it is going to last twelve months or longer, what is wrong with sending to America and ascertaining if we can obtain there 50,000 Springfield rifles, or Krag-Jorgensen rifles, which were good enough within a few years ago for the American troops, and are probably good enough for the United States Army at the present day ? What is wrong with sending to our ally, Japan, for, say, 50,000 Murata rifles, or any such modification of them as is available?
– Do you not think that Japan’s full supplies have already been utilized, and are now being’ used in Europe ?
– It is quite possible that they have not. The manager of our Small Arms Factory is going to
America to manufacture equipment not altogether for Britain, but for other nations. Is it not conceivable that, if an alert man, with a knowledge of the circumstances, was sent over, he would be able to secure for us 40,000 or 50,000 weapons quite good enough to arm our troops with, and corresponding ammunition, sufficient for a six months’ campaign ?
– There would not be much advantage in taking those 50,000 rifles from the Allies already in the field.
– The Allies may not be drawing on such supplies. The French want Lebel rifles, and the British want the Lee-Enfield. If it is possible for our Defence administration to secure 50,000 or 60,000 Japanese rifles, with corresponding supplies of ammunition, it is most unwise not to do so. If we got them we could telegraph to the War Office, “ We can send you 50,000 more men, but they will not be armed with the British regulation pattern rifle; they will carry a foreign rifle, but we have secured sufficient ammunition of the necessary type for a six months’ campaign.” Is not this worthy of investigation ? Are we to wait until our Small Arms Factory turns out sufficient rifles to equip further units ?_
– Do you not think that the War Office have investigated that themselves?
– It is for us to investigate the matter. I have heard it said by a most responsible member of this Parliament that the British War Office will accept the units we send forward only if equipped with rifles similar to those in use by British troops. The British troops, however, are opposed1 by troops equipped with other rifles, and assisted by troops equipped with other rifles, and with correspondingly different equipment. It will be by no means detrimental to our efforts if we can arm our troops with 50,000 or 60,000 Murata rifles.
– Do you know definitely under what conditions the British Government would accept our offers of assistance in the shape of troops?
– I do not.
– Do you not think it is a subject better left alone at this stage?
– I know the British Government have not refused any unit which tho Australian people, through their National Administration, have offered for service. There has been no intimation of the fact that the British Government have refused any unit that Australia has offered to equip. If the Government asked the British authorities whether they would agree to have troops placed in the field alongside their own armed with different rifles, they might reply in the negative. But we have the right to ascertain on our own account whether we can arm our troops other than in the strictly orthodox British manner, and offer the British Government fresh units accordingly. If they refuse, our responsibility is at an end, but it is not at an end while there remains within our own initiative the prospect of doing anything valuable. The Small Arms Factory has been subjected to a great deal of criticism, but I am afraid that one of the reasons why the Factory has not produced better results up to the present is too chronic, too deep-seated for me to refer to here in any. manner that would arouse controversy, which at this juncture I wish to avoid. I believe the unsatisfactory nature of the Factory iB in a measure derivable from sources to which allusion has up to the present not been made. Nor shall I make it at this juncture. The fact remains that if the Factory were turning out 150 rifles per day, instead of fifty, it would still take us a considerable time to arm an additional 50,000 men. I want Ministers who really bear the first responsibility in this matter, to understand that we shall have to recruit within the next twelve months, and we ought to be recruiting them now, much more than 50,000 men.
– Is not recruiting going on rapidly?
– Not sufficiently rapidly. The recruiting at present is very little more than equivalent to the losses which the daily bulletins that have been published show our troops to be sustaining. Within the last four or five days the announced losses have approximated 300 per day. Since the 25th April, when our troops were first in action, up to the present day, a period of about seven weeks, our troops have sustained acknowledged casualties well on the way to 9,000, or at the rate of over 1,000 a week.
– The recruiting in Victoria alone has been nearly equal to our losses.
– Since when? Senator Russell. - Over that period. Senator BAKHAP. - As a matter of fact, the recruiting in Victoria has admittedly been according to press reports only about 50 per cent, of what it was in the early months of this year. I saw in the press the other day a statement that the British Government were preparing to put in the field in the different theatres of war a force of 3,200,000 men. The percentage of masculinity in the Australian population is greater than that of the Old Country, and I venture to say that we should be prepared to maintain in the field a force of about 175,000, because not only must we put a force in the field, but we must maintain it at the full fighting strength. Statistics prove that there are 500,000 single men, without encumbrances, of military age in Australia, and it is most essential from the point of view of economy alone that we should recruit single men preferably to married men.
– How many are in the Navy ?
– Not many thousand. Many of the crews of the ships of the Australian Navy are Britishers, whom we got from the Old Country to man the vessels before our men were properly trained. It is most wasteful and uneconomical to recruit married men, because the married men have responsibilities which will entail, if they are slain in action, a most heavy and avoidable charge, at least in the early stages of the campaign, upon the Treasury. I am sorry to say that, so slipshod are the voluntary methods in the Old Country, the percentage of married men recruited is practically as high as two-thirds of Kitchener’s army ! What more wasteful and uneconomical system could we have from the national stand-point? Too many engineers and mechanics have gone to the front, and consequently there is a shortage of men to make munitions. Too many miners have gone, and consequently supplies of coal are short. We cannot systematize under a voluntary system. Under conscription we can allow so many miners, or so many mechanics, to go to the front, and no more, and we may preclude them from going if their services will be more valuable at home. I want the Administration to understand that I believe that what I have suggested is quite possible. Search the world, the seas are clear. The Yankees are after dollars, and so are the Japanese. Everybody is willing to trade. Everybody is willing to manufacture, at times hysterically ready. Offer these people sufficient financial inducements, and I venture to say that the necessary equipment for our Forces will be forthcoming. Although it may not be the orthodox armament used by the British Forces, it will be quite sufficient to arm our Forces in such a way as will enable them to acquit themselves properly on the field of battle, and make a material contribution to that effort which, I hope, will bring about success in the immediate future. We should, at the present time, exercise our faculties. It is very evident that a very great contribution of aeroplanes would be valuable. I believe that they can be manufactured here.
– We are making them._
– I am pleased to hear that statement, and it adds more point to my argument. If we can make one aeroplane we can manufacture a hundred. See the part which machine guns are playing in the war. In an American publication honorable senators can find an account of the testing of an inferior machine gun in the United States of America. One machine gun of the ordinary type used by the American Army has been pitted against a platoon of fifty skilled rifle shots, and in every case, when operating on targets of the same i nature, the machine gun beat the results I obtained by the fifty skilled marksmen. That is the case with an inferior machine gun, and American shots are of a very high class. When these men were selected as skilled marksmen, we can well understand that they were something out of the ordinary. With an admittedly inferior machine gun results have been obtained superior to the fire of a platoon of fifty skilled marksmen. The inference is obvious. Let us do our level best to get machine guns. If the British Government send a battalion equipped with only two or three machine guns, let us do something else. Let us get all the machine guns we can with which to equip the Australian troops, and give them an opportunity to retaliate for the terrible loss inflicted on all our people by means of the same military arm. To the Government I - say: Do everything you can; do what you can with the Small Arms Factory; do what you can in regard to local efforts to manufacture munitions. I have every confidence in the industrial skill of the Australian people, but let it be availed’ of to the utmost extent. I am wholly with the Ministry in the desire to do something which will be absolutely worthy of the nation at this crisis. Send men, send cablegrams, send secret agents to America, to J apan and, if you like, to China, where they are manufacturing small arms, and may have no immediate need of them. Get all that can be got, and offer troops to the Imperial War Office, and, if the authorities there say, “ Because you cannot equip them with Lee-Enfield rifles, or with such machine guns as we are in the habit of using, we beg to decline your offer,” the responsibility of the Government will be at an end. They will be doing something then which it is necessary to do in regard to our domestic force, because nobody is better aware, in some respects, of the condition . of that force than I am. It is absolutely essential that our domestic force be placed in a more satisfactory condition, not only because of the phases which the war may possibly assume, but because of the inevitable, contingency which will arise after the war. Therefore, without elaborating the arguments which I could use for the next two or three hours in support of the position I have taken up, I do adjure Ministers not to think that the object of this party is to criticise them unfairly, to hamper them in view of forthcoming electoral conflicts, and so on, but to believe that the criticism advanced by members of the Opposition is honest criticism, calculated to awaken them, if necessary, to a sense of their responsibility, and to indicate to them paths which, if they are courageous and bold, they will not fear to follow.
– After listening to Senator Bakhap one might be pardoned, I think, if he were to fall into the trap and believe that the Opposition in this National Parliament are in sympathy with what the Labour party are doing, and that their protestations and pretensions of assistance are genuine. We have all, I am sure, been following politics fairly closely during the past few weeks. We have also been reading the newspapers during that period, and we are bound to come to the conclusion that neither the Opposition nor their newspapers care very much what is going to happen so long as they can get their own particular view of politics put with sufficient force before the people. If honorable senators read the debates in another place, they will find .there ample justification for the statement I am making, that the Opposition are not so keen in assisting the Government in this crisis as they are in criticising their actions for political purposes. The very same remark applies to the press of Australia. It is only a few weeks ago that the newspapers, particularly the Conservative journals, woke up to the dire necessity of the situation ; woke up to the fact that the Federal Government, and particularly the Defence Department, were doing nothing. It is only a few weeks since they began to declare on all hands that the Defence Department had gone to sleep, that the authorities ought to do this and to do that; that they ought to call in the assistance of every manufacturer in the Commonwealth; that they ought to set to work and manufacture shells; that they ought to have started long ago to manufacture rifles and munitions of war. All these statements have been made quite recently by the Conservative press of Australia. Yet the Minister of Defence got up here yesterday and made an official statement in which he told the Senate and the country that since the present Government took possession of the Treasury bench they have been unceasing and untiring in their efforts to do just the very thing which the newspapers only found out a week ago that they ought to have been doing. For seven months the Government have been doing these things, and the press say that they have not done anything yet. The Minister of Defence read yesterday official telegrams containing ample proof that the Administration were doing everything that the Government of any country similarly situated could possibly do. Yet the newspapers to-day have not the courage or the honesty to say that the Labour Government deserve some praise for the forethought which they have displayed in connexion with the war. We find, too, that the members of the Opposition in this chamber, as well as in another place have not the courage, or the manliness, or the honesty to do credit to the Government who have done so much.
– I think it is openly conceded that a great deal has been done. The only thing is that at present public opinion in Australia requires more to be done.
– I recognise that no matter how much the Government have done, even although they may have done everything which is humanly possible, it is still open for certain carping critics to find fault with them, but those critics will not in their speeches make a reasonable suggestion. It is perfectly easy for any person to find fault, but most difficult to make valuable suggestions. It is a more difficult thing to-day than it was yesterday, because yesterday we did not know what the Minister “was doing, and our opponents, if they had liked, could have made some valuable suggestions, To-day they know that everything has been done which could be done, and they have not a suggestion to offer, or, as Senator Guthrie interjects, “ a leg to stand on.” Yet they are still prepared to get up and offer criticism of the action of the Government, which is the easiest thing in the world to do, and tell us that their criticism is not animated by any political motives. We are not so blind or so stupid as to be led into a trap of that kind. We know perfectly well that underlying the whole opposition to the Government is the fear that in the near future an opportunity will be given to the people to do something which honorable senators on the other side, and their friends outside, do not want them to have a chance of settling for themselves. I desire to refer to a few of the statements made here this morning, and endeavour to show how unfair, in view of what has been done, some of the criticism of the Government has been. We were told that not sufficient men were being sent to the front. I have no doubt that we could send at any time plenty of men, untrained, unequipped, unsuitable, and inefficient, but what the British Government want at the front is that which is required either in Europe or in Asia to-day. I venture to say that the British Government want the very best men we can possibly get. We know that in neither of the countries where the war is being waged are half -trained men wanted. The Minister of Defence told us yesterday what has been done as regards providing equipment. We know from press reports that England is sorely pushed to equip the men she is sending to the front in France and Belgium. We have no hope of success in appealing to England for any assistance in the matter of equipment We have no doubt that America has been called upon to the fullest extent by the British authorities for equipment, and for other supplies to meet the large amount of wastage which is taking place in munitions of war, guns, and rifles. We in Australia, therefore, are thrown back entirely on our .own resources. For fifty or sixty years the. country was governed by what is known to-day as the Liberal party, and not one step was taken to provide for a war such as the present one. For fifty or sixty years we were living in a fool’s paradise. But when the Labour party came into power, and accepted the responsibility of establishing a Munitions Factory, a Harness Factory, a Small Arms Factory, and every other kind of factory required in connexion with the defence of the country, where were our Liberal friends? Were they standing behind the Government of that day? Were they standing behind the first Fisher Administration in the building of the Australian Fleet?
– The honorable senator forgets, perhaps, that before Federation many of the Australian States had the nucleus of a fleet.
– Yes, some shells.
– I believe that South Australia was the first State in the Commonwealth to provide a warship.
– No; Victoria was the first.
– The old Cerberus.
– It was a war vessel of its day, and good enough.
– I think that without going into details I could show that South Australia secured the first warship for the Commonwealth.
– A warship was built in Sydney when I was a boy.
– I am pointing out that the honorable senators who today are so severe in their condemnation of a Government who have only been in power for a few months, had an opportunity for years and years, but did practically nothing towards securing the defence of Australia.
– It was the Government of which I was a member which started the Small Arms Factory. I myself acquired the site for the Commonwealth.
– But the Clothing, Harness, and Woollen Factories w,ere not established by the Government of which the honorable senator was a Minister.
– Borne was not built in a day.
– Our opponents seek to justify themselves by declaring that Rome was not built in a day. But when they indulge in criticism of the Government they convey the impression that Rome ought to be built in an hour. Notwithstanding the unfavorable comparisons which they have attempted to institute, I am convinced that during the present crisis - a crisis which is unexampled in history - the Government have acquitted themselves in a way of which we have every right to be proud. They have despatched troops more than half way round the world; they have equipped those troops so thoroughly that they constitute absolutely the best equipped Force in the theatre of war to-day. The Labour Government have done this, and they have done it within an exceedingly brief period. It is an achievement which has never been equalled in the history of warfare. Honorable senators who are so prone to find fault with the Government are giving this country a very bad advertisement - an advertisement which it does not deserve. In my judgment, every Australian should be proud of the splendid work which has been accomplished by the Defence Department in sending to the front a most capable Army from the stand-point of its equipment, its munitions, and its pay. It is the best paid Army in the world, and we have the satisfaction of knowing that within the brief space of seven or eight months the men composing it have been drawn from every part of Australia. Since their arrival at the front they have acquitted themselves admirably. They have made a name for themselves which it would be difficult for any troops to excel. An attempt was made this morning by Senator Gould to institute a comparison between the contribution of this country and that of Canada. Now, Canada possesses a very much larger population than does Australia, it is very much older, and it is better equipped from the stand-point of factories, because my honorable friends opposite have always advocated the policy of sending Australian money abroad, to the neglect of our own local industries. As a result of this fatuous policy, Canada is in a much better position to send troops to the front than we are. When we consider the disadvantages under which we labour, we cannot fail to recognise that Canada emerges from any comparison with Australia very badly indeed. I do not say this with a view to disparaging the performance of that Dominion. Canada has done very well, but Australia has done much better; and I deplore the action of those little Australians who are continually decrying the splendid work which this country has accomplished. Some honorable senators opposite appear to be always bent on hindering the operations of the Defence Department. We know that a very large proportion of the work of that Department must be conducted secretly. Yet day after day members of the political party opposite ask the Government, “ How many troops have been despatched to the front? “ “ How many are in training? “ “How many rifles do we possess?” and “ How much ammunition have we got? “ One would almost imagine that they were seeking that information in the interests of our enemies. Such questions ought not to be asked at this juncture. If thereis one reason why I would like to see this Parliament adjourned till the termination of the war, it is because of the undesirable character of many of the questions put by my honorable friends. I have heard questions asked in this chamber which were foolish in the extreme. The German Emperor himself could not devise a better scheme for securing information than that of prompting inquisitorial members to put to the Government questions which fall within the category I have outlined. Only this morning we were assured by honorable senators opposite that the people of this country do not yet realize the urgent necessity which exists for despatching men to the front. Yet when the political exigencies of the moment prompt it, we are told that the people are so excited over the war that it is impossible for them to think of anything else, and that consequently, it would be wrong to ask them to vote upon the referenda proposals. Obviously these statements cannot be reconciled. I have a higher opinion of our people than have honorable senators opposite. I say that every man and woman in the community is thoroughly alive to the fact that a tremendous war is being waged in Europe. Too many of them know it to their cost. But the fact is that a tremendous majority of our people are compelled to engage in their ordinary avocations, and that circumstance alone distracts, to some extent, their attention from the present Titanic struggle. A very large section of them recognise that the war cannot last for ever, and that, in the near future, they will require to be better equipped for carrying on their daily avocations than they are to-day. It is for this reason that they are anxious to have the referenda proposals placed before them. They were thinking of their own necessities when, only a few months ago, they returned the Labour party to power. They expect that party to respect its pledges to them. The press of Australia and the so-called Liberal politicians may talk as they like; but the Labour party is determined that the electors of this country shall be afforded an opportunity of settling those questions for themselves at a very early date. Notwithstanding the carping criticism in which some honorable senators have indulged, not one valuable suggestion has been forthcoming from them.
– We are told to get guns from China !
– I would point out how absolutely ridiculous such a proposal is. We are asked by Senator Bakhap to get guns from China. In other words, we should arm our troops with as many different weapons as possible. We should complicate the position by having to send here, there, and everywhere for supplies of ammunition. What would be the result? One day an unlucky shell would come along and, perhaps, blow up a whole train-load of this Chinese or Japanese ammunition. Then every man who was armed with one of these Chinese or Japanese weapons might just as well go home, or lie down, or be shot, because he would not be in a position to use a single cartridge until a fresh supply had been obtained from the countries I have mentioned. If that is & sample of the suggestions of the Opposition, we shall be infinitely better without them. Even if we sent to China for our ammunition, we would have no assurance that we would get what we had ordered. History might repeat itself, and we might be supplied with a useless counterfeit, just as certain troops were supplied by that country with bayonets that were made of lead. I am confident that the Government will not seriously regard advice of this character. Then we have been told that the Ministry and the Leader of the Opposition should organize a friendly campaign for the purpose of stimulating recruiting - that they should go out into the highways and byways, with a view to telling the people that there is a. war in progress, and inviting our young men to rally to the colours. I do not know that that is necessary in Australia. At the commencement of the war, the British Government intimated that they were prepared to accept a certain number of troops from the Commonwealth. Up to the present we have supplied three or four times that number. In every State of the Commonwealth recruiting is considerably ahead of the requirements of the Government. I do not think there is anything in the suggestion that a troop of travelling politicians, comprising the leaders of the Government and of the Opposition, should go through the country to induce men to enlist. I make the suggestion to my honorable friends opposite that a combination of the Government and the Opposition might be formed in connexion with another matter. The leaders of the Opposition might join with the leaders of the Government in going out in a few months’ time to advise the people of Australia that the Constitution under which we are working is not what they thought it was when they agreed to it some fourteen years ago. If our honorable friends opposite would agree to that proposal, they would be fighting the great battle of political liberty in their own country, and might do much in that way to induce Australians, if any inducement be necessary, to go to the front to fight the battles of the Empire in other parts of the world. I make that suggestion for what it is worth, and if it is viewed from .the national stand-point, it will be admitted that there is more in it than there is in the suggestion that we should obtain munitions of war from China and Japan. We know that Australia was far from being prepared’ to face the war a few months ago, but we know also that Great Britain was not prepared to face it. No one will suggest that, because of that unpreparedness, Great Britain has not done remarkably well in meeting the calls made upon her for men, munitions, and money. Though we may confess that we were not prepared for war, largely owing to the neglect of previous Administrations, we need not condemn ourselves on that account any more than the British Government condemn themselves for their unpreparedness. I do not know that a Coalition Government was absolutely necessary in Great Britain, but we have no right to find fault with what has been done there. We can hope and believe that the Coalition Government will do better work than the party Government did in the past. But conditions in Great Britain are entirely different from what they are in Australia. Our opponents nave shown that’ there is no need for a Coalition Government here because in all their criticisms they have” not been able to point to one instance in which the present Government has failed to meet the requirements of the times. They have made certain criticisms for party purposes, which we can afford to treat as they deserve, because they have not substantiated a single charge they have made, and have not made a single suggestion to meet our difficulties which was not foreseen by the present Administration. We have beard a great deal recently of political unionism, but to-day the Minister of Defence was able to inform us that there has been a great union of workers formed in Great Britain, and a noble Lord has been chosen as the leader of the union. What would our friends opposite think if something of that kind were done in Australia ?
– Fancy Sir John Forrest leading the waterside workers !
– Or Sir William Irvine leading the miners!
– Both those gentlemen are amongst the staunchest supporters of trade unions. There is no better unionist in Australia than is Sir William Irvine. This is the gentleman who refused to appear in a case with a colleague of his own in the Federal Government because he had not the same brand or hall-mark of unionism upon him as he had himself. Of what use is it for our friends to talk as they do about unionism when they are faithful themselves, not only to their political unions, but to the professional organizations to which they belong ? Great fault has been found with the inclusion in Government contracts of a clause permitting a union official to enter a factory, and interview the workers during meal hours. It is suggested that that is an awful crime. A few years ago a worker had to hold his lunch in one hand while he attended his machine with the other. If it were not for the work of the trade unions that kind of thing would be going on in Australia to-day. The workers took the matter into their own hands, and insisted not only upon reasonable hours, but that a place should be provided for them in which they could eat their food with something like comfort and decency. Now that the organizations have done so much for the workers, our friends opposite suggest that the representatives of those organizations should not be permitted to enter a factory to interview the operatives during meal hours. Had the old condition of affairs continued, and were the workers obliged to go out into the streets to eat their meals, would our honorable friends object to the officials interviewing them there? If they would not, why should they object to union officials interviewing workers in a factory during their meal hours? They are permitted under clause 31a of the Government contracts to interview the workers, but not, as some of our opponents have suggested; in the capacity of spies ; not in order that they might interfere with the work, and not to advocate the go-slow policy. There are no advocates of the go-slow policy today, if ever there were. Every, industrial worker and trade unionist knows that efficiency must be the motto of the worker and of his organization. Union officials have a right to enter factories to see that due care is being taken of the personal comfort and safety, of the operatives. One gentleman in South Australia has objected to this condition governing contracts, and I was glad to hear from the Minister of Defence that he will have no hesitation, when he requires Mr. McGregor’s blanket factory at Hindmarsh, in going over and “ collaring “ it. It is just as well that Mr. McGregor should know that.
– Have not the Government commandeered it already ?
– I do not know whether they have or not, but if they do want it the Government will commandeer it. It is as well that Mr. McGregor and others of his kind should know that this country is at war, and that we have passed legislation which places their factories entirely at the disposal of the Commonwealth Government. We want, by our referenda proposals, to make it impossible in the future for Mr. McGregor and men like him to defy the Government of this country for their own profit or selfish ends. The manufacturers of Australia met in conference at Adelaide some time ago. They have a union, and I say, “Good luck to them!” I would not prevent any man enjoying the privileges which I enjoy myself. The manufacturers have as much right to form a union of their own as have the workers. At a conference of manufacturers .In South Australia some months ago, it was decided that, because the Chambers of Manufactures of New South Wales and of Victoria had agreed to clause 31 (a) of the Government contracts, and were prepared to accept tenders under it, the South Australian section should secede from the union. I do not knew whether in their case their action would be called “blackleg.” They broke away from the union largely, I suppose, because of the influence of Mr. McGregor and men like him, who do not sufficiently appreciate the needs of the people of Australia. This should be a sufficient reply to those who say that it is wrong and wicked to insist upon the condition of clause 31 (a) in connexion with Government contracts.
– If it prevents the output of war materiel, will it not be wrong and wicked ?
– The honorable senator is putting a hypothetical case, and I say that up to the present there has been no suggestion that it will have any such effect. The manufacturers who oppose this clause do so on the ground that it, involves an interference with their business.
– Is the honorable senator prepared to answer the question I put to the Minister as to whether any contracts have been refused because ‘of that condition ?
– I could not answer that question. I know that Mr. McGregor, of South Australia, said that he refused to sign a contract containing clause 31 (a). I took the precaution at the time to send his statement to the Minister of Defence, and to ask if it were a fact that this gentleman had refused to sign a contract containing clause 31 (a), and, if so, whether he was permitted to go on with the work without signing the contract. The Minister’s reply was that Mr. McGregor’s contract was signed before clause 31 (a) became operative. We have been blamed for carrying on our political fights here and elsewhere during the war, but I may remind honorable senators that there was a general election in Greece the other day, and if there is one country which, more than another, may be said to be involved in the war, it is Greece. The Greeks are right in the middle of the row. The men who wanted to involve Greece in the trouble were turned out of office, but have now returned to power with an overwhelming majority. Evidently a certain section did not want to be involved in the war while another party did, and I am using this as an illustration to show there is no earthly reason why Australia should not carry on its legislation as usual, in view of the fact that Greece, which is almost sure to enter the arena in a few weeks, did hold a general election. They have done what we did in the Commonwealth. They swapped horses while crossing a stream, and a deep stream at that. Whilst we can listen with toleration to our friends from the other side, we can point to any amount of instances where this war has not affected the usual progress of countries which are more closely involved than we are. I would like to refer to a great many more questions to-day, but I feel it would hardly be fair to delay the passage of this Bill, and, as doubtless we shall have further opportunities of dealing with the questions from time to time, I will close my remarks. I am sorry to say that on account of what is occurring in another place, we are at present debarred from expressing our views on certain questions, because measures are delayed in coming to us.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 postponed.
Clauses 4 and 5 agreed to.
European War - Panama Exposition Commission - Appropriation Bill - National Association for Labour Legislation - Commonwealth Offices - Expeditionary Forces : Boots.
SenatorRussell. - I would suggest that unless honorable senators have an objection, we take the schedule as a whole.
– Are you going to put the whole of them?
– The honorable senator can speak on any Department he pleases.
– Any remarks I have to make will be brief, and will be directed to the Defence Department. With other honorable senators, I have listened to the criticisms of the Department, and I can only say that they are simply a repetition of statements made in the public press and in both branches of this Legislature, and that there is no justification at all for them. So far as the troops we are sending to the front are concerned, I deprecate, with Senator Newland, any comparison with any other Dominions of the Empire. It is not for any self-governing Dominion to cast any reflection upon any other Dominion of the Empire. I venture to say that we are doing the best we can in Australia; as to whether or not Canada is sending more men than we are, that is entirely beside the question. We have to busy ourselves with our own position, and have to ascertain whether or not we are sending sufficient men.
– Might I ask the honorable senator upon what item he is basing his remarks? This is not the second-reading stage of the Bill.
– If I am out of order I will not continue my observations. At the request of the Minister, I omitted speaking on the first and second-reading stages, and reserved my remarks for the Committee stage; but now you are putting the schedule right through as a whole. I understood I could speak on the general question.
– The honorable senator is at liberty to speak upon any item, but he must confine himself to the item, and not discuss the general question.
– I can see I will be entirely out of order by pursuing my remarks, so I will reserve them for some other time.
– As a personal explanation, if I am in order, I would like to say I regret that there has been a misunderstanding. It was the desire of the Government to suspend the Standing Orders at 4 o’clock, and I suggested to Senator Needham that he might speak in Committee instead of on the general motion. I regret if he has been prevented from making his remarks.
– (Queensland) [3.401. - I would point out that, if the schedule is dealt with as a whole, we cannot make any reductions in the Departments in detail. I understood that the usual course was to take each Department separately.
– We are taking the schedule as it stands, but the honorable senator is quite at liberty to speak upon any item in the schedule.
– I do not know that the point has been made clear. I think Senator Stewart wants to know if, by agreeing to the passage of the schedule, that would prevent any one later on from speaking to a motion to reduce any item under the heading of a Department.
– Most decidedly it would, if the schedule were passed.
– Then I would suggest that we deal with the Departments separately.
T3.42]. - I suggested to the Senate that if there was no objection to dealing with the schedule as a whole we should do so. The Senate agreed.
– This is a new method of procedure altogether.
– We can easily overcome the difficulty.
– If honorable senators wish to deal with the schedule in detail I have no desire to restrict them from speaking upon any item. If it is the desire of the Senate I will withdraw my request to the Chairman.
– We will take the schedule in Departments.
.- It is desirable that the Senate should get some detailed information with regard to the trouble that arose between the Minister of External Affairs and the representatives of the .Commonwealth at the Panama Exposition. I notice that we have a sum of £5,100 down for that purpose. I suppose that is only a portion of what the delegation will cost us, and it seems to me - of course I have not any very particular knowledge with regard to the matter - that this business has been very seriously bungled. Mr. Deakin. who was one of the representatives of the Commonwealth, and the Minister of External Affairs, seem to have been at cross purposes, and I think it is extremely desirable that the Senate should be in possession of the exact circumstances in connexion with the matter.
– All the papers have been printed.
– It is a wonder, then, that we have never seen them.
– Are they made available to members?
– I think we might have an explanation from the Minister on the matter. The business was very unsatisfactory, so far as I could discover, from beginning to end. It seemed to have been managed in a most unbusinesslike fashion.
– By whom?
– The advice of persons who have no particular standing, or, at any rate, of one person in connexion with the delegation, seems to have been taken at one time by the Government and probably turned down at another time. We ought also to have particulars regarding the sum of £150 alleged to have been paid to Mr. Nielsen while he was in quarantine in Washington. This matter was referred to by Mr. Mahon in a communication recently published in the press, stating clearly that Mr. Nielsen could have got over the whole difficulty by writing a letter or sending a telegram, instead of which he stayed in Washington for a full month, during which period the Commonwealth Government had to pay his board and lodging, and advance about £60 for train fares in addition. Unless the Minister has some explanation to offer, honor, able senators will be justified in coming to the conclusion that the money of the Commonwealth is being squandered unnecessarily.
.- I am sorry the honorable senator did not give me some intimation that he intended to bring the matter up. Had he done so, I should have had the papers with me, and my answers would have been quite accurate, according to the details appearing in them. If he is satisfied to accept from me a straight-forward statement of what really occurred, I can tell him that the Commission was not constituted entirely by the Federal Parliament. It included the representatives of certain States which had agreed to be represented at the Exposition. A certain sum was placed at the disposal of the Commission, and the Commission had full control of its disbursement to meet expenses. Mr. Nielsen was certainly allowed expenses for his visit to Washington. I am not going to discuss whether they were high or low. They were paid by the Commission, which, I understand, agreed upon a certain sum as an allowance for its members when doing the Commission’s business.
– The Commonwealth will pay its share of that?
– Yes. The Commonwealth’s share will appear in the £12,000. The Commonwealth did not pay the whole of Mr. Nielsen’s expenses. No one unacquainted with the cost of living and other conditions at Washington can say whether the sum he was paid was or was not a fair amount. I would not defend any Commissioner if he made unfair charges, but as an Australian I insist that our representatives at Washington or elsewhere shall take the position to which the representatives of this country are entitled. If Mr. Nielsen charged more than we anticipated, or more than it would cost me to go anywhere, that is altogether beside the question. The honorable senator will see that this is a matter in which certain States are also interested. I do -not think he wants me at this stage to go’ into the unfortunate circumstances that led to the resignation of certain Commissioners. The EstimatesinChief will be before us next week, and I hope that then an ample opportunity will be afforded to .deal with the whole matter.
– Are we to understand that when the Estimates come on for discussion we shall have a better and fuller opportunity to discuss this question?
– This Bill was brought in to enable that to be done.’
– There is not much left of this month to discuss the whole of the Estimates for the year.
– We shall have unlimited time on the Estimates, because this Bill will pay accounts up to the end of the financial year.
– If on the EstimatesinChief we carry a motion for the reduction of any item or items, even though all the Supply Bills for the year have already been passed, will that reduction operate if indorsed by another place ? I ask for an assurance on this point, because I desire to discuss the question raised by Senator Stewart, but it is obvious that there is no time to do it this afternoon on this Bill.
.- This Supply Bill was brought in, not to restrict the discussion of items, but because it was recognised that the earliest date on which we could expect to receive the annual Appropriation Bill was next Wednesday. It is essential that all payments should be made, in order to be able to close the financial year; by the 24th of this month. I thought it would be hardly fair to ask the Senate to pass the Estimates in -one, or even two, days. I therefore decided to ask the Senate to treat the Supply Bill as formal, so as to enable it to be passed to-day, and all necessary payments to be made by the 24th of this month, thus leaving honorable senators the opportunity to discuss the EstimatesinChief at any length that they desired, so long as they are passed by the 30th of the month. This Supply Bill provides almost the whole of the balance of the money required to pay accounts for the current financial year, less an item of £1. We have purposely left the total of these Supply Bills short by £1 of the. total of the annual Estimates in order to allow any honorable senator who wishes to put up a protest to move an amendment for that purpose on the Estimates. By this means the Senate will be able to indicate in the discussion of the Estimates its approval or disapproval of any item. I trust that the Committee will now allow the Bill to go through.
– What will happen if the Senate disapproves of several items ?
– Honorable senators will be able to enter their protests.
.- We must have a clear and definite understanding on this matter. Apparently Senators Stewart and de Largie desire to discuss the Panama Exposition Commission, possibly its personnel, and perhaps the expenditure incurred by it; and Senator de Largie pertinently asks whether the passage of the Supply Bill to-day will preclude him or others, when the Estimates come before us, from moving to reduce a certain item by£1. I heard the Minister’s answer, but it should not be forgotten that any honorable senator moving to reduce a particular item will have to confine his remarks to that item, and if a dozen honorable senators want to move in half-a-dozen ways to reduce expenditure, what position will they be in?. My own view is that once this Supply Bill is passed, we shall be committed to the payment of the amounts mentioned in it, and though we may have an opportunity to talk, perhaps until we are tired, our speeches can have little or no effect. When I rose the first time and gave place to Senator de Largie, it was with the object of asking for an explanation regarding the proposed grant of £100 to the National Association for Labour Legislation. May I ask where the headquarters of the association are located; if it is yet in existence; what are its specific objects; and is this the whole of the money to which the Commonwealth is committed ?
– I have not at my disposal now any information on that point, but I will get it for the honorable senator.
– I can assure the Minister that the Government have no more faithful follower than I am; but I suggest that, while I am not thirsting for information in regard to the item, it would not be much trouble for the honorable senator to answer my inquiry. If he gets the information, and it satisfies me, I shall be quite willing to let the item remain.
– I would like the Minister to give some information regarding the cost of laying the foundation-stone of the Commonweal th Offices in London. I see that a sum of £2 is included in the schedule.
– That is a very cheap stone.
– I am afraid that it does not cover the entire cost.
– It may be to provide coins.
– This is a monthly Supply Bill, and I ask Senator Stewart and others to postpone their inquiries until we get to the Estimates next week, when I promise that they shall have full information on all these matters.
– Last evening Senator Maughan brought up a matter of very great importance, and I think we ought to get the fullest and most complete information possible on the subject. It had reference to the alleged return of a number of boots from Egypt, and the Minister of Defence, I understand, denied that any. boots had been sent back from Egypt, or that boots not properly made had been supplied to the troops. There is a rumour abroad - I have heard it on what I consider to be good authority - that these boots were returned. Of course, the Minister of Defence told the Senate last evening that the Department had no knowledge of any boots having been sent back to Australia, but I am told, as a fact, that boots have been sent back.
– Who told you that?
– I am not at liberty to say who told me.
– Do you not think that you ought to say ?
– I wish to tell the honorable senator that, so far as these matters are concerned, I have very little confidence in the Defence Department.
– That does not touch the question of who this mysterious individual is.
– I haveread the history of military contracts in various countries, and the invariable tale that is told is one of rascality. I do not wish to make any assertion. I merely desire to inform the Committee that a report is very widely circulated that not only have boots been returned, but that many of our troops in Egypt have been put to .serious inconvenience on account of the quality of the boots supplied to them.
– I give that an emphatic contradiction. . Senator STEWART.- I am very glad to hear it. On one famous - or, rather, should I say infamous - occasion, when it was discovered that British soldiers were armed with bayonets made in Germany, and that those bayonets bent when they were thrust at anything, the statement was denied by the military authorities at the time; in fact, we find that the military authorities always deny these things. If one accuses them of anything, he is met with a flat denial; and that common habit on their part has compelled me to come to the conclusion that we cannot place very much trust in what they say. All that I want to impress upon the Minister of Defence is that it is of the utmost importance that the men who are sent to the front should be properly equipped.
– They are the best equipped Force in the world.
– That is not saying very much.
– It is saying something. . Senator STEWART.- I do not know how the British troops are equipped on the present occasion, but if my honorable friend cares to dive into military history, he will find that, in most wars, they have been very badly equipped. I do not know whether they are well equipped now or not; but it is saying very little in regard to the Australian troops to assert that they are the best equipped troops in the world. We want them to be equipped as men ought to be equipped who are fighting for their country.
– And so they are.
– I am very glad to hear it. I have gone about with bad boots, and found that my activity was very seriously interfered with. I am quite certain that if I were fighting for my life in a pair of bad boots, my chance of success would be very seriously decreased. I do not wish to make any charge against the Defence Department. All that I want to tell the Minister is that these reports are being circulated. ,
– 1 am well aware of that.
– I hope that the honorable senator will take very good care that there is no ground for such a report. In a newspaper this morning I read something about the matter, . and I gathered that all the inspectors are union men. That is very good, so far as it goes. It is desirable that every manappointed to a position of that kind should be a member of an industrial union. But is he a competent bootmaker? I read that some of the inspectors were boot repairers, in other words, cobblers.
– It is a very good qualification for an inspector.
– Where did you read that some of them were boot repairers? The Argus said that one was a boot repairer. Did you hear of any others?
– I saw the words “ boot repairer,” and I gathered that perhaps a number of them were.
– That is how these rumours grow.
– We want men who are well up in their business.
– Who could be better up in the business than a man who takes a boot to pieces?
– Some of our most illustrious citizens are boot repairers. Look at Fleming, for instance.
– He is in eclipse. We have not heard of him for some time. Probably he is at the front. All that I am interested in is that the man going to the front shall be well equipped, not only with clothing, but with the best rifle that can be secured. I can remember, during the Boer war, when a charge was made that certain rifles supplied to the troops were altogether unsuitable for use in the field. It was impossible to shoot straight out of them. The result was that when a man fired a shot he did not know where it would strike. I hope that nothing of that kind is going on at present. When our country is in extreme danger, it is essential that the men sent into the firing line to fight its battles should be equipped with the very best of everything.
– I would not have risen but for the fact that Senator Stewart has drawn attention to a matter which has already received, and which will probably continue to receive, more or less publicity, so long as he and others are content to accept information gleaned from the columns of a certain newspaper in preference to the word of the Minister. I do not know that there is a single man in Australia - much less in this Legislature - who is not extremely anxious that our Expeditionary Forces shall be equipped with every article required of the very best material and quality. Although the Argus, over its editorial columns, daily prints the motto -
I am in the place where I am demanded of conscience to speak the truth, and, therefore, the truth I speak; impugn it whoso list.
I fear that that motto is not rigidly observed by it. When the Minister was anxious to obtain from that newspaper the name and address of the person who made the charge against the Defence Department that troops had ‘been permitted to leave Australia with boots that were unworthy of the name of boots, it declined to supply them. I regret that in war time we have not in operation an Act similar to that which is operative during the progress of elections, and under which the authors of articles are compelled to sign their names and accept responsibility for their statements. It is very difficult for the Minister to be continuously chasing shadows. Senator Stewart is no better than the Argus. He got up and repeated what -he read in the Argus this morning without first attempting, in the slightest degree, to ascertain its truth or otherwise.
– The Minister has denied the truth of it.
– Senator Stewart stated that he knew the military authorities, and that he would sooner believe what he had been told than he would believe the Minister.
– I said the military.
– What does that mean? Is not the Minister the head of the military for the time being? Against whom are these charges made? Against some mythical person, or against the Minister of Defence?
– But the men who examined these boots -.are not military men, and never were military men.
– It does not matter to me whether they are military men or not, so long as they are qualified to discharge their duties. Does Senator Stewart mean to say that the Minister would appoint men to perform this class of work unless he were satisfied that they thoroughly understood it? I am disposed to think that some disappointed man in respect of a contract - he may possibly be a rival trader - is so annoyed that he has spread this report with a view to damaging somebody else. But my regret is that when those who make these statements are asked to give something specific they are unable to do so. The Minister of Defence has told us of a deputation of women which waited upon him some time ago, and whose members made the most damaging statements in regard to the men at the Broadmeadows Camp. After he had listened to them patiently .for a long time, he asked the leading members of that deputation to give him the names and addresses of the persons who had been affected in the manner that had been out: lined by them. Their reply was that they could not do so. They had merely .been told that :so-;and-so was the case. When he pressed them for information as to who told them, .they could not supply it. We have had enough of that sort of thing, and I very much regret that a member of our party should have repeated in this Chamber what some man in the street has said without investigating it first hand. If I have a charge to make against the Minister, I shall make it without hesitation. But I shall hesitate to prefer a charge against him because a certain newspaper has set out to weaken the Government by continually attacking the Defence Depar.tr ment. If there be a semblance of truth in the statement that troops have been sent out of Australia with boots unworthy of the name of boots, it is a very serious reflection on those who are intrusted with the work of supervision as well as on the Minister. But I doubt whether -there is any truth in the statement. With, others outside of the Commonwealth, I believe that the Forces which have been’ sent from Australia are the bravest and best-equipped Forces which have ever fought for the Empire.
– I have made further inquiries in regard to the. allegation that 600 pairs of boots have: been returned from Egypt. I have here the statement of the QuartermasterGeneral, who says -
Nothing is known of any boots having been returned from Egypt at all.
– Why does he not say that none have been returned? j
– To his knowledge none have been returned.
– Why does he not say so?
– He does.
– Why does he not say so in unequivocal language?
– Therefore, it cannot be correct that they are being sold in Melbourne and other parts of Victoria. If boots had been sent back they would have been sent back to the QuartermasterGeneral. If he cannot ascertain that they have been returned nobody else can do so. He is the officer who deals with the stores. The Examiner of Stores, Mr. Potts, also denies that any boots - so far as his office is concerned - have been sent back from Egypt. But there is yet another confirmation which I wish to put before the Committee. Major-General Bridges, in sending his reports from Egypt, sent them to the Minister direct. It is generally conceded that Major-General Bridges was a competent officer. Surely a man in command of an Army in the field would take good care, if there were any defects in his supplies, to bring them under the notice of the Minister in order that they might be rectified ! It would be not only foolish, but criminal, for a General in command of an Army to neglect to. represent in the proper quarter that his troops were being supplied with defective boots. I may inform the Senate that I personally read all these despatches, because I recognise that there may be something in them which I ought to know. It is possible that some of them may challenge some officer here, and if they were passed on to him without my reading them, they might be pigeonholed. I have personally read all the despatches, and in those received from Major-General Bridges there was never one complaint about the boots. The late Major-General Bridges was a permanent officer of the Defence Department, and it might be said that he would be interested in keeping up the good name of the Department, but there are other commanding officers at the front. There are Colonel Hughes, Colonel Ryrie, who would not be likely, I should say, to shelter the present Government, Colonel Monash, and other officers, who are sending me despatches from time to time. They bring under my notice any thing they want rectified, or in connexion with which they think certain action should be taken. I read those despatches and minute them to the officers concerned to take the action necessary. Where it is shown that something wrong has been done, I bring it under the notice of the responsible officer, and ask him for an explanation. In not one of the despatches I have received from these officers has there been a single complaint as to the quality of the boots supplied to the troops. We have Commandants here, each of whom reports to the Military Board upon all matters arising in connexion with the camps. Not one of them has complained of the quality of the boots. Who has complained? The Argus newspaper says that it has received information-
– From some unknown person.
– It has received information from some unknown person, and” will not disclose the source of its information. I told honorable senators last night that there had .been complaints from manufacturers in Queensland that some boots supplied in Victoria were not up to the sealed sample. Those complaints were investigated, and it was found’ that, in the early deliveries of boots” for the first Expeditionary Force, there were some that were not up to the sealed sample, but they were good boots nevertheless. No complaints were received from the troops who were wearing those boots. Furthermore, as I have already pointed out, our equipment has been reported upon by others outside the Department, and has been described by them as excellent. If honorable senators will look at the last copy of The Bulletin - and this should appeal to Senator Stewart at any rate - they will find a paragraph written by a man at the front who says that our boots are the envy of the Maorilanders and the Tommies, meaning that the Australian boots are better than the New Zealand or British boots.
– I should expect that.
– If the honorable senator has read his bible this week - and I should say that he has generally read it before Thursday has long passed - he will find that paragraph, and it should have some weight with him. There has recently been a demand, by some manufacturers, for an increased price for the boots. We have fixed a flat rate of 12s. per pair. The demand is made because of the difficulty in obtaining leatherof the high quality that our inspectors insist upon. The manufacturers say that our inspectors demand leather of such a good quality that there is great difficulty in obtaining a sufficient supply of it. We have referred this dispute to the Chamber of Manufactures for report. They have gone into the question, and have dealt with the complaint from Queensland. They have pointed out in their report that some boots included in the early deliveries were not up to the sealed sample, and they sent along the statements of the manufacturers supplying those boots, and giving a full explanation. They point out at the same time the difficulty of getting a sufficient supply of the high-class leather required, and they are backing up the request for an increased price. I do not know whether there is any connexion between this sudden attack upon the quality of our boots, and the request that is made for a higher price. There might be some significance in the fact that, during last week, a conference was sitting at the barracks to consider the request of the manufacturers for a higher price, and the suggestion in the Argus that our boots are defective owing to a lack of proper supervision. I want to say that the request of the manufacturers for a higher price will be dealt with on its merits. I shall not permit the article which appeared in the Argus to prejudice my judgment in dealing with that request. If the manufacturers make out a good case, they will be given an increased price, but, above all,the first consideration will be that the boots supplied to our troops shall be good. They have been good in the past. I find that, in the whole of the States, we have 108 inspectors, and 80 or 90 of these are temporary men. It was found necessary to discharge only four of these men, and they were discharged because some of the boots stamped by them were found to be defective. Whilst some mistakes may have been made, it has been found necessary to discharge only four out of more than 100 men employed as inspectors. That speaks well for the unions who sent those men to us. In passing 300,000 pairs of boots, only four of the inspectors were found to have failed to carry out their duties properly, and they have been discharged. We are doing the best we can in the circumstances, and there is no reason to believe that our inspectors are not doing their duty.
– The statement made by the Minister of Defence is very satisfactory. I may tell SenatorFindley, for his peace of mind, that I did not get my inspiration from the A rgus. I heard of this matter a considerable time before anything about it appeared in the Argus. I am satisfied that,sofar as the Minister of Defence can guarantee good boots and good equipment, for the troops, they will get them, but there are other people to be considered. The Minister cannot overlook everything, and is not informed of everything. He has to depend, to a great extent, on people under him, and it may happen that mistakes will occur. So far as I can gather from the statement which he has just made, the equipment of our troops is as satisfactory as is possible in the circumstances,
Schedule agreed to.
Postponed clause 3 agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without request; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
– I ask leave of the Senate to move that the report which I laid on’ the table of the Senate this morning, being a summing up by the Assistant Minister of the troopship inquiry at Brisbane, be printed. I am doing this, as it is the wish of honorable senators to get a copy of the original. There are not any typed copies.
Paper ordered to he printed.
.- I move -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until Thursday next.
In view of the want of progress with certain measures in another place, I do not think there is much need for the Senate to meet before Thursday next.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 4.28 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 18 June 1915, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1915/19150618_senate_6_77/>.