30 August 1916

6th Parliament · 1st Session

The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.

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Assent to the following Bills reported : -

War Precautions Bill (No. 4).

Acts Interpretation Bill.

Appropriation Bill 1915-16.

Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill (1915-16).

Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Fund Bill. Public Service Bill (No. 2).

Public Service (Acting Commissioner) Bill.

Customs Bill (No. 2).

Invalid and Old-age Pensions Appropriation Bill (No. 2).

Lands Acquisition Bill (No. 2).

Patents Act (Partial Suspension) Bill.

Post and Telegraph Bill.

Representation Bill.

Rules Publication Bill (No. 2).

States Loan Bill.

Supply Bill (No. 1) 1016-17.

Supply (Works and Buildings) Bill (No. 1) 1916-17.

Trading with the Enemy Bill (No. 3).

War Census Bill (No. 2).

War Loan Bill (No. 3).

War Loan (United Kingdom) Bill No. 3.

War Loan (United Kingdom) Bill No. 4.

War Pensions Bill (No. 3).

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Senator WATSON:

– I ask the Minister of Defence whether, in view of the fact that the men who compose the Miners’ Battalion, now located at the Seymour Camp, have been kept there for a period of eight weeks, notwithstanding a statement previously made that they would remain there for only ten days, at the end of which time they would be embarked for the front; and, seeing also that they have no definite expectation of sailing soon, he will take into consideration the desirableness of returning these men to camps adjacent to their own homes, in order that they may have the opportunity of seeing their relatives as frequently as possible prior to embarkation?

Vice-President of the Executive Council · NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– I ask the honorable senator to give notice of the question. I would like to add that the statement he made was not a fact.


– If I permitted Senator Watson to make a statement, it was remiss of me, because I have frequently ruled that questions must be asked simply to obtain information, and must contain no argument, or statement, or newspaper excerpt.

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Senator MULLAN:

– Is it true, as stated in the press, that the Government contemplate issuing 5s. notes?

Senator RUSSELL:
Assistant Minister · VICTORIA · ALP

– Yes.

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Senator LONG:

– Is it a fact that Dalgety and Company, acting as agents for the Commonwealth Government forthe purchase of wolfram and molybdenite, receive a commission of £50 per ton? If it is not correct, will the Minister of Defence inform the Senate, at the earliest convenient date, what rates of commission that and other firms acting in a similar capacity receive from the Government?


– The statement is not correct. Full information on the subject will be placed before honorable senators at an early date.

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Senator NEEDHAM:

– Have allthe States sent in nominations both of employers and employees for membership of the Industrial Commission which is about to proceed to America? If so, when will the selection be made and a determination come to as to sending the Commission away?


– All the nominations are in, and the selection will be made at an early date. The Government have had other important business to transact during the past few days.

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Senator LYNCH:

– What is the intention of the Government in regard to the payment of the extra 6d. per bushel for wheat already in the Wheat Pool, particularly in regard to Western Australia, in view of certain action taken there by the State Government?

Senator RUSSELL:

– I hope to make a definite, and I trust very pleasing, statement within the next few days.

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Senator SENIOR:

– As an honorable gentleman in South Australia stated at Pinnaroo that there would be no difficulty in obtaining vessels to transmit wheat to Great Britain, will the Assistant Minister state if that has been so in the past, and is it so to-day?

Senator RUSSELL:

– If the honorable senator will give me definite information of any available ship that we missed, I shall be thankful to him, and try to correct the error.

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Senator MILLEN:

– Is there any objection to laying on the table of the Senate a copy of the instructions recently issued through the censors to the press prohibiting the publication of comments on the question of compulsory military service? If the Government are not disposed to lay the information on the table of the Senate, will they make it available confidentially to honorable senators?


– I can imagine no reason why a copy of the instructions should not be laid on the table of the Senate. The matter will, however, receive consideration.

Senator LYNCH:

– Has any portion of the Prime Minister’s speeches been censored? If so, has the Prime Minister lodged any protest, and with what result ? Has any action been taken to censure the censors?


– The Prime Minister’s speeches have been censored. He is in the same position as anybody else regarding the censorship, and the censor has not been censured.

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Preference to Unionists


– No such question is asked of candidates applying for positions as officers. No officer now gets promotion without merit. All candidates have to go through the school before they secure promotion.

NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1910; LP from 1913

-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - I am afraid that the Minister has misunderstood the question. I understand that every candidate has to go through the school before he gets promotion, but I want to know whether the Department is authorized to question men already in the Forces, and who are applying for promotion, whether they belong to a union, and if so, what union ?


– No.

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– Is the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs aware that men who were summoned on the jury in connexion with the recent Arbitration Court case at Port Darwin were asked by opposing counsel if they were members of the A.W.U., and in that event were told to stand down?


– I am not aware that such is the case, but an inquiry will be instituted.

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Senator GRANT:

– Is the Assistant Minister aware that throughout Australia very great inconvenience has been caused by the difficulties arising from the existence of Federal and State rolls, and, if so, will he lay on the table of the Senate the papers relating to any proceedings that have been taken with regard to this question, so that honorable senators may know the present position ?

Senator RUSSELL:

– I shall have pleasure in laying the papers on the table, and I would like to add that considerable progress has been made in the direction referred to. I am hopeful that within a few months at least four of the States will be co-operating with the Commonwealth to secure uniformity in electoral rolls in Australia

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Senator MILLEN:

– I ask the Minister representing the Minister of Some Affairs if, in view of the importance of the matter, the evidence now being given before the Royal Commission inquiring into affairs at Canberra is being reported, and, if not, will he see that a note is taken, so that honorable senators later on may have an opportunity of perusing it?


– The matter will be looked into, and arrangements made for honorable senators to have an opportunity of perusing the evidence. I cannot understand that such a Commission should sit without the evidence being reported.

Senator STORY:

– Will the Leader of the Government see that an arrangement is made for some other Minister to administer the Postal Department while Mr. Webster, the Postmaster-General, is conductingthis inquiry into the Department of Home Affairs ?

Senator RUSSELL:

– No.

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– In view of the state of business on the notice-paper, and as I understand that the Government require a little time to finalize the arrangement of business to be brought before this Chamber, it is desirable that the sitting of the Senate should be suspended for a brief period. I therefore suspend the sitting until ten minutes past 4 o’clock.

Sitting suspended from3.36 to3.50 p.m.


-[3.50].- When I vacated the chair earlier in the sitting I was informed that certain business that had to be transacted would not be ready until later than this. Since then I was made aware that the business was ready, and as I desired that any statement to be made before both Houses should be made simultaneously, I took the opportunity of ringing the bells earlier than I had originally announced.

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Senator PEARCE:
Minister for Defence · WESTERN AUSTRALIA · ALP

– I ask leave to make a statement.

Leave granted.

Senator PEARCE:
Minister of Defence · Western Australia · ALP

– In view of certain urgent and grave communications from the War Council of Great Britain, and of the present state of the war, and the duty of Australia in regard thereto, and as a result of long and earnest deliberation, the Government have arrived at the conclusion that the voluntary system of recruiting cannot be relied upon to supply that steady stream of reinforcements necessary to maintain the Australian Expeditionary Forces at their full strength.

As the Government are very strongly of the opinion that it is the plain duty of

Australia to do this, and as they believe that their opinion is one which is held by the country generally, they have formulated a policy which they believe to be at once adequate to meet the gravity of our circumstances and compatible with the principles of democratic government under which it is our privilege to live.

The Prime Minister intends to-morrow to lay before members of both Houses the position as he knows it to be, and as set out in the recent secret communications from the Army Council of Great Britain; but it is due to the public that they should be told how imperative and urgent the demand for men is. The number of reinforcements required for next month is 33,500, and subsequently 16,500 a month. The number of recruits for June was 6,375, July 6,170, and up to 23rd August 4,144, or a total of 16,689. The most recent list for eleven days shows the number of casualties to be 6,743. These figures speak for themselves.

They show that the position withwhich the Government confronts the Parliament and the people is that, while it is our clear duty to keep the number of our Forces up to their full strength, the stream of recruits under the voluntary system has fallen to less than one-third of what is necessary.

The great offensive, in which our troops have covered themselves with glory, has cost a fearful price, yet it is, and must be, pressed forward with implacable resolution. To falter now is to make the great sacrifice of lives of no avail; to enable the enemy to recover himself, and, if not to defeat us, to prolong the struggle indefinitely, and thus rob the world of all hope of a lasting peace. The sure road, the speedy road, the only road, to victory is to press on. Now is the psychological moment when every ounce of effort is called for.

To the principle of compulsion for military training and service the country has long been committed. But a clear line has been drawn between compulsory service within the Commonwealth and for service overseas. For the first we relied entirely upon compulsion; for the latter upon voluntaryism. Until recently voluntary recruiting proved sufficient to meet the demands made upon us, but latterly

It has quite failed to do so. This failure, however, does notrelease us from our obligation tothe Empire, to its Allies, and to the Commonwealth, whose fortunes rise or fall with the ebb and flow of this dreadful war. For it is literally true that defeat in this war sounds the death knell of all our hopes and aspirations, and robs as at one stroke of all the privileges and liberties that make our lives worth living. Though voluntaryism fails, the country must not fail.It dare not ; its honour and its safety are alike at stake.

But this is a country where the people rule, and in this crisis - in which their future is concerned - their voice must be heard. The will ofthe nation must be ascertained. Autocracy forces its decrees upon the people; Democracy ascertains, and then carries out, the wishes of the people. In these circumstances the Government consider there is but one course to pursue, namely, to ask the electors for their authority to make up the deficiency by compulsion.

Set out briefly, the policy of the Government is to take a referendum of the people at the earliest possible moment upon the question whether they approve of compulsory oversea service to the extent necessary to keep our Expeditionary Forces at their full strength. If the majority of the people approve, compulsion will be applied to the extent that voluntaryism fails. Otherwise it will not.

I now make an earnest appeal to every recruiting agency and centre to use their every effort to encourage voluntary recruiting, and to the men of fighting age to enlist in the defence of their country. If volunteers respond in sufficient numbers there will be no need for compulsion. But to the extent that voluntary recruiting fails to supply the numbers necessary the Government will use the authority of the people, if given, to call to the colours, until the supply is exhausted, single men without dependants. It is not intended, until the supply of single men without dependants is exhausted, to apply compulsion to married men, youths under twentyone, to single men with dependants, or to the remaining sons of families in which one or more of the members have, already volunteered.

As the necessity for more men is not only imperative, but urgent, and in order that the approval of the people, if given, should not be abortive, and, coming too late, leave our soldiers at the front without support of an adequate supply of trained reinforcements, the Government have decided that if within one month the appeal for volunteers does not bring in a sufficient number of recruits, they will issue a proclamation under the Defence Act and call up for purposes of training the number of single men without dependants necessary to make good the deficiency. I hope that the appeal which I now make to the patriotism of Australian manhood will make such proclamation unnecessary.

Unless and until the, people of Australia approve of extending the compulsory provision of the Defence Act to service overseas, no man will be sent away against his will.

Sir, we are passing through the greatest crisis in our history. Our national existence, our liberties, are at stake. There rests upon every man an obligation to do his duty in the spirit that befits free men. The Government asks men to make a great sacrifice; it asks them to risk their lives in order to save their country. Sir, I believe that they are prepared to make this sacrifice. Bat the country must in its turn prove itself worthy of such men. There must be, as far as humanly possible, equality of sacrifice. Wealth has its duties; it owes all it has to the State, and must be prepared, if necessary, to sacrifice that all to the State. Many wealthy men have responded nobly to the call of duty; others have not. But they cannot be allowed thus to evade their responsibilities.

All other considerations must be swept aside; one great principle must now govern our every action. Whatever is necessary for the salvation of the country must be done; and since we are calling upon men to sacrifice their lives, we ought not, and shall not, hesitate to compel men to sacrifice their wealth.

The secret session of both Houses of which I have spoken will commence at 5 p.m. to-morrow in the Senate Club Room. I ask leave to continue my remarks on the next day of sitting.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.

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Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-

That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till 11.30 a.m. on Friday next.

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The following papers were presented : -

Agriculture - Memorandum respecting the International Institute of Agriculture at Borne.

Audit Act 1901-1912 - Regulations amended, &c.- Statutory Rules 1916, Nos. 84, 92, 100, 121.

Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Fund Act 1916.- Regulations. - Statutory Rules 1916, No. 142.

Bank - Commonwealth Bank Act 1911. - True copy of Aggregate Balance-sheet of Commonwealth Bank of Australia made up to 30th June, 1916, together with AuditorGeneral’s Report thereon.

Beer Excise Act 1901-1912. - Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1916, No. 185.

Clothing Factory. - Reports for years ended 30th June, 1914 and 1915.

Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act 1905. - Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1916, No. 103.

Customs Act 1901-1914. -

Proclamation dated 28th June, 1916, prohibiting exportation of Arms, &c.

Proclamation dated 16th August, 1916, amending Proclamation of 28th June, 1916, prohibiting Exportation of Arms, &c.

Proclamations Prohibiting Exportation (except under certain conditions) of - Goods to Liberia (dated 26th July, 1916).

Butter (dated 16th August, 1916).

Proclamation Prohibiting Importation (except under certain conditions) of Soap (dated 9th August, 1916).

Notifications by Minister of Trade and Customs relative to exportation of goods to -

China and Siam (dated 21st June, 1916, and 15th July, 1916).

Liberia (dated 21st July, 1916).

Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory

Rules, 1916, Nos. 90, 152, 184.

Defence. - Mechanical Transport Units. - Report and Statement of Accounts.

Defence Act 1903-1915. - Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1916, Nos. 156, 160, 164, 166, 175, 178, 179.

Dominions Royal Commission. - Memorandum and Tables as to the Trade Statistics and Trade of the Self-Governing Dominions.

Dredges, Bridges, Sugar Mills, and Locomotives: Importations of Material during past ten years. - Interim Statement setting out information available.

Electoral Act 1902-1911 and Referendum (Constitution Alteration) Act 1906-1912. - Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1916. No. 132.

Inscribed Stock Act 1911 - Dealings and Transactions during the year ended 30th June, 1915.

Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Act 1911, and the Northern Territory Acceptance Act 1910 - By-laws for the Regulation of Traffic at Port Augusta.

Goods Rates, South Australian Division.

Lands Acquisition Act 1906. - Land acquired under, at -

Belmont, Queensland - For Defence purposes.

Bunbury, Western Australia - For Quarantine purposes.

Clare, South Australia - For Postal purposes.

Cockburn Sound, Western Australia - For Defence purposes.

Congwarra and Booroomba, Federal Territory - For Defence and Federal Capital purposes.

Goorooyarroo, Federal Territory - For Federal Capital purposes.

Military Road, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.

Newcastle, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.

Phillips Ponds, South Australia - For Railway purposes.

Port Augusta, South Australia - For Railway purposes.

Port Stephens, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.

Race Dam, South Australia - For Railway purposes.

Willow Tree, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.

Wungong, Western Australia - For Defence purposes.

Land Tax Assessment Act 1910-1914. - Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1916, No. 107.

Naturalization Act 1903. - Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1916, Nos. 104, 186.

Naval Defence Act 1910-1912. - Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1916,Nos. 153, 154, 191.

Norfolk Island. - Ordinance No. 1 of 1916. - Importation of Plants.

Papua. -

Ordinance No. 11 of 1915. - Probateand Administration.

Ordinance No. 2 of 1916. - Supplementary Appropriation (No. 1) 1915-1916.

Pearl Shelling Industry: Report and Recommendations of Royal Commission.

Pine Creek to Katherine Railway Act.Goods Rates.

Post and Telegraph Act 1901-1913.- Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1916, Nos. 76, 85, 89, 91, 93, 94, 99, 101, 108, 109, 114, 123, 127, 133, 143, 144, 157, 158, 174, 181, 182, 183.

Premiers’ Conference, Adelaide, May,1913; Report of Resolutions, Proceedings,and Debates, together with Appendices.

Public Service: Eleventh Report of theCommissioner.

Public Service Act 1902-1915.-

Appointments, Promotions, &c. -

Prime Minister’s Department. - R. A. Arnold.

Department of the Treasury, Taxation Branch.- H.F. Brodribb, D. M. Hay, R. G. Friel, J. Adams, S. McK. White, L. R. Roche, T. J. Schmidt, R. W. Chenoweth, E. H. Ivey, G. M. Garcia, J. Y. McGrath, J. N. O’Connor, E. F. Hamilton, W. Kelly, L. S. Jackson, M. J. O’Flaherty, M. D. Mears, F. B. Lee, H. B. Jackson, L. C. Kemp, E. T. Finn, and A. T. Hutchison.

Department of Home Affairs. - C. S. Daley, G. P. Gay, G. Horner.

Department of Defence. - J. K. Jensen, H. H. Potts, A. S. V. Smith, H. D. Stiles.

Postmaster-General’s Department. - J. H. Barrow, S. Ellis, S. N. Gaskell, G. E. Porter, W. H. Tucker, P. A. Weeks, H. F. Wilkins,

Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1916, Nos. 41, 110, 113, 115, 120, 139, 145, 146, 147, 149, 171, 172, 173, 180.

Seat of Government - Ordinance No. 1 of 1916.- Careless Use of Fire; together with Regulations thereunder.

Small Arms Factory. - Annual Report of the Manager for the year ended 30th June, 1914.

The War.-

Papers presented to British Parliament. -

Correspondence with the United States Ambassador respecting Conditions in the Internment Camp at Ruhleben.

Memorandum presented by His Majesty’s Government and the French Government to Neutral Governments regarding the Examination of Parcels and Letter Mails.

Report by the Government Committee on the Treatment by the Enemy of British Prisoners of War, regarding the conditions obtaining at Wittenberg Camp during the Typhus Epidemic of 1915.

Sworn statement by Horst von der Goltz, alias Bridgeman Taylor.

Further Correspondence between His Majesty’s Government and the United States Government respecting the Rights of Belligerents (two papers).

Further Correspondence with the United States Ambassador respecting the treatment of British Prisoners of War and Interned Civilians in Germany.

Correspondence with the United States Ambassador respecting the Transfer to Switzerland of British and German Wounded and Sick Combatant Prisoners of War.

Report by Dr. A. E. Taylor on the Conditions of Diet and Nutrition in the Internment Camp at Ruhleben received through the United States Ambassador.

Further Correspondence respecting the Conditions of Diet and Nutrition in the Internment Camp at Ruhleben.

Correspondence respecting the Employment of British and German Prisoners of War in Poland and France respectively.

Papers relating to Major-General C. V. F. Townshend’s appreciation of the position after the battle of KutelAmara.

Recommendations of the Economic Conference of the Allies held at Paris on 14th, 15th, 16th, and 17th June, 1916.

Note from the United States Government regarding the Examination of Parcels and Letter Mails.

Copy of Supplement to London Gazette of 21st April, 1916, containing an Order by His Majesty in Council, dated 22nd April, further amending the Defence of the Realm (Consolidation) Regulations 1914.

Document relating to proposals for affording relief to Poland.

War Precautions Act 1914-1916. - Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1916, Nos. 98, 105, 106, 111, 117, 118, 119, 125, 126, 130, 134, 137, 138, 140, 141, 148, 150, 151, 159, 165, 167, 168, 176, 177, 187, 188.

Workmen’s Compensation Act 1912. - Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1916, No. 124.

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Secret Session

Motion (by Senator Pearce) pro posed -

That the Senate do now adjourn.

Senator MILLEN:
New South Wales

– There was one announcement made by the Minister of Defence to which I should like to refer. He intimated the desire of the Government that there should be a secret session of members of both Houses of this Parliament to-morrow afternoon. I wish to ask honorable senators to regard it and accept it as an obligation that after that secret conference is over there shall be no reference made to it, good, bad, or indifferent, by any one present at it. I feel compelled to make this request because, on a previous occasion, after such a gathering, statements were made in this chamber and elsewhere which, whilst they in no sense disclosed what transpired at the secret session, constituted a suggestion that the information imparted led only to one conclusion. That may have been due only to thoughtlessness.

Senator Lynch:

– It applies to members of both parties.


– Order! Senator Millen is, under cover of the motion for the adjournment of the Senate, proceeding to discuss a statement made by the Minister of Defence which has not yet been completed, and which there will be ample opportunity to discuss on Friday next. Its discussion has become a part of the business of the Senate set down -for another day. It will appear on the businesspaper of the Senate, and our Standing Orders are emphatic that no honorable senator may anticipate the discussion of business on the paper. As soon as I understood the direction in which the honorable senator desired to proceed, I stopped him. I rule that he will be out of order in proceeding on those lines.

Senator MILLEN:

– I shall not presume to question your ruling, sir; but I must express my regret that under that ruling it is not possible for me to complete the remarks I proposed to make.

Senator PEARCE:
Minister of Defence · Western Australia · ALP

– If no other honorable senator desires to speak, I have only to say that, notwithstanding the fact that Senator Milieu’s remarks, according to the Standing Orders, were disorderly, I am thoroughly in accord with them.


– Order I

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Senate adjourned at 4.13 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 30 August 1916, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.