6th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
Variation of Awards
– Is the Minister representing the Attorney-General aware that yesterday the variation of the award given to the Australian Telephone and T elegraph Construction and Maintenance Union, dated the 22nd November, was not laid on the table of the Senate? Will he endeavour to have it laid on the table as soon as possible?
– I have had the matter looked into since yesterday, and this is the reply which I have received -
There were two variations of awards laid upon the table of the Senate yesterday; one concerning the Australian Telegraph and Telephone Construction and Maintenance Union, and the other dealing with the Postal Electricians Association, both of the 29th September last. Senator Needham is concerned about the tabling of a further variation of the award dealing with the first-mentioned union, and given on the 22nd November last. This variation was signed by the Judge yesterday afternoon, and the papers immediately forwarded to the Attorney-General for the necessary opinion as to the conformity of the variation with law. The opinion is now being prepared. The Act allows fourteen days from the date of the receipt by him of the award or variation for the Prime Minister to table same. As this period only commenced to run from today, it will be seen that there is at present no cause for complaint as to delay on the part of the Prime Minister tabling the variation in question.
– Through you, sir, I wish to ask the Leader of the Liberal party in the Senate a question. In view of the fact that yesterday he, referring to certain regulations, made the following statement; -
Let there bo no mistake. The regulation was put through and was acted upon. It was only withdrawn for fear of the consequences. and in view of the further fact that the Prime Minister in another place expressly denied that such was done, in these words - .
What I said in the press on 28th October was true. ‘ No such regulations were issued, and no such regulations of any kind that have any resemblance to those which Mr . Tudor referred to were issued. does the honorable senator accept the denial of the Prime Minister, and- withdraw the statement which he made here yesterday?
– Under the Standing Orders an honorable senator is not entitled to ask a question of another private member of the Senate unless with regard to some business which the latter has on the notice-paper or before the Senate. Therefore, it rests entirely with Senator Millen whether he will reply to the question or not, but I wish to point out to Senator O’Keefe that he is not entitled,, as a matter of right, to ask a question of a private senator.
– May I say, in explanation, sir, that I am under the impression - I do not know whether it occurred during your régime or not - that this course has been taken before ? Otherwise, I would not have asked the question.
– If I am free, sir, to answer the question, I prefer to do it rather than that there should be any belief in this Chamber that-I have made a statement recklessly, or one which I am not prepared to stand by. I repeat now the statement which I made yesterday, but I direct attention to the fact that the Prime Minister’s words were, ‘ ‘ the regulation was not issued.” By that phrase - and I accept Mr. Hughes’ statement - the regulation was not issued. But my statement was that it was passed at a meeting of the Executive Council, and that instructions were issued to the electoral officers to carry it out. Whilst I stand, as I stated yesterday, prepared to support the Government in its -war policy, I am under no obligation, either to the Government or to my honorable friends on this side, to allow my veracity to be impugned in the way in which it may be by this question.
– Honorable senators will see that, in allowing a departure from the very salutary rule which has been laid down in regard to this matter, the honorable senators concerned proceeded to argue a question rather than seek information. Senator O ‘Keefe did so, and I am sorry that Senator Millen followed the bad example. In future I shall strictly adhere to the rule, and’ will’ not permit such questions to be asked, or, if asked, to be argued in that »ay.
– Prior to the last adjournment of the Senate, I asked the Minister for Defence whether the Government would take sole control of the different patriotic funds throughout Australia, or act jointly with the State Governments; Has he any further information to give in regard to that question ?
– The late Government was still in communication with the State Governments; the new Government has not considered the matter yet.
– With regard to the gap of 140 miles in the transcontinental railway, will the Minister for Works do all that is possible to see that any shortage of rails is supplied, so as to prevent the dismissal of men at either end of the line f
– So far as my inquiries have led me to an understanding of the position, there were rails enough for the works up to the 16th December, when the Christmas holidays would begin; but, owing to the coal strike, there, was a serious apprehension as to whether the work could be carried on. Now that the coal strike is, happily, overcome, I am in hopes of a continuity of supplies being maintained for the railway, but I am not certain that there will not be a .spell between the exhaustion of the present supplies and the provision of new supples. I am not at all sure that there will not be an idle time at both ends of therailway on account of the coal strike.
– Will the spell referred to necessitate the removal of gangs of men and the bringing of them back? I wish to avoid the expense of bringing men back:
– I cannot say positively whether it will necessitate the removal of gangs of men from the railhead, but it may. If no material is coming to hand, the gangs of men may be employed .more profitably elsewhere, or they may have to remain idle.
– Has the Government considered the desirability, or even, the necessity, of stopping the construction of works like the Federal Capital City and the Western Australian railway, seeing that we have a war in hand, and that money is very scarce?
– The policy of theGovernment in regard to all these public works will be announced when the financial statement is brought before theHouse.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Respecting the men who have been, selected,, and have proceeded to England to loam munition making on behalf of the Commonwealth, is it the intention of the Government to recoup these men their oat-of-pocket expenses, incurred in attending .the officials (sometimes travelling long distances) who were authorized to make the selections I
– The issue of railway warrants to cover railway journeysof these men to the capital cities for purposes of interview by selection committees was authorized, but no other expenses, prior to appointment can be allowed.
Vote op Overseas SOLDIERS
asked’ the Minister representing the-. Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -
What length of time was occupied by the Electoral Department in completing the arrangements’ which enabled the men at the’-‘ front to record their votes in connexion with the recent referendum?
– The answer is -
The regulations enabling members of the Overseas Forces to vote were passed on the 28th September, 1916. Preliminary arrangements for the voting were made prior to the . passing of the regulations. Voting commenced after the issue of the regulations, and continued up to, and inclusive of, polling day.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers are -
– Arising out of the reply, may I ask the Minister if he will inform the Senate whether the substance of the regulations governing the taking of that vote, and referred to in a previous question, were communicated to the authorities conducting the scrutiny in London; and, if so, by what means?
– The whole of the regulations in regard to voting overseas were cabled at full length, to the officers in charge in London.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In fixing the prices of the Australian wool clip to be taken over by the Commonwealth Government, will the Government take into cognisance the prices received by those who have shipped or sold their wool previously, in order that ‘one section of the growers shall not have a decided advantage over the great body of wool producers ?
– The answer is -
Due consideration will be given to every phase of this most important matter, and it is expected that full information will be available shortly.
asked the Minister for Works, upon notice -
Commission will be completed?
– The answers are - 1 to 5. The information sought would embrace many items, such as cost of printing, travelling of officers concerned, and of witnesses, fees paid to expert witnesses, which are not immediately available. 1 will endeavour to obtain the particulars and lay them upon the table of the Senate next week.
Debate resumed from 30th November (vide page 9270), on motion by Senator Pearce -
That the paper be printed.
– I join with Senator Millen in the opinion that the paper submitted to the Senate is more remarkable for what has been left out of it than for what it, contains. I listened to Senator Millen’s speech yesterday with a great deal more pleasure than I should have felt had I been occupying on the other side the position now occupied by Senator Lynch. But, while I agree with Senator Millen that this Parliament is the place where the public should be enabled to get information of all that Governments are doing, and that if properly questioned Senator Pearce will give us the advantage of all the information that Senator Millen asked for, I still claim that, because Senator Millen can cleverly question the Leader of the Government, he has no right to shirk his responsibility as the Leader of the Liberal party in this chamber; and, just as Senator Pearce can be properly brought to book for not giving full information to Parliament and the people about happenings during the suspension of the sittings of Parliament, so Senator Millen has the right, and the people will expect him, , to tell Parliament and them why his party are supporting the present Government.
– Who says he is supporting it?
– The people are entitled to knowwhether he is, and why. Has there been an honorable understanding between the Right Hon. Joseph Cook and the Right Hon. William Morris Hughes?
– I thought you listened to my speech.
– Has there teen an honorable understanding between those parties? What is the basis of that understanding ? Is it that the Government shall barter for the support of the Liberal party those measures of taxation that the last Government intended to introduce? When Senator Millen is castigating the Leader of the Government for not giving the public certain information and not taking them into the confidence of the Government, why does he not take the public into his own confidence, and let them know clearly and definitely that there is no truth in the persistent rumours that for weeks there nas been negotiation between the two parties as to the basis of an agreement that would enable the Government to conduct the business of the country without even a quorum in either House, to say nothing of a majority 1
– What arrangement have you with Senator Millen now for sitting behind you ?
– The arrangement is fair and honorable. I have the voluntary support, without counting Senator Millen or his party, of a majority of the members of the Senate having the confidence of a majority of the people. That also was the only arrangement that existed between Senator Millen and the Government while I was a member of it, so far as I was aware.-
– The position is the same at the present time.
– Honorable senators may shut their eyes to the constitutional position that, at that period, irrespective of Senator Millen or his supporters, the Government were fresh from the country with a majority, who had the confidence and support of the country, behind them. The position is now materially altered. The Government holding the Ministerial bench as the constitutional advisers of His Majesty’s representative, not only have lost the confidence of the country, but have never shown that they have the confidence of this or the other House. The votes may show that they have. I am not claiming that the Government have the support of Senator Millen and his party. All I say is that the public, and Hia Majesty’s representative, are entitled io know whether, they have it. If they lute the honorable support of the Liberal party; if that party say, “ Because ibis is war time, we shall put our fortunes behind the Government, and sink or swim with them, and take the responsibility of their acts,” the position is a perfectly fair and legitimate one.
– It was stated with abundant clearness yesterday, both in the other House and here.
– The clearness may be quite abundant, and the fact may be apparent to every one but me. This may be due to my dullness, but I a]. still going to put to the country the position that, so far as parliamentary procedure is concerned, no Government have a right to hold office for twenty-four hours that does not possess, in addition to a majority in Parliament, the confidence and support of the people. The very essence of parliamentary government predicates support, not only here, but in the country.
– Have you not got a Labour Government in power now?
– I am addressing the Senate as the Leader of the Australian Labour party, and the division that we shall call for will indicate what the support of that big party is in the country.
– That is right; emphasize the “party.”
– I emphasize it, and want to “ make no bones “ about it. I say, without hesitation, that, so far as the different parties in this House are concerned, on the bench behind me sit the Leader of the Liberal party and his followers. Behind me, also-, sit the Labour party and its followers, and opposite me, on the Ministerial benches, sits a remnant that broke Away from the Labour party.
– I understand they now call” themselves the National Labour party.
– A good word !
– Worn threadbare by many fine old parties.
– Did I break away ?
– You broke back.
– I do not want this debate to develop into personalities. When the honorable senator and I were in office together, such a friendship sprang up between us that I hope it will continue.
– I hope so, too; but they made you leader for whatthey sacked me for.
– While I am leading; the party there will be no secret understanding. Nothing will be done that will not bear the closest scrutiny of the whole of the people. Senator Russell left our party and our room without a harsh or unkind word being used against him.
– You do not mean to say you are leading that Labour party ?
– I am leading the section which is represented here.
– My leader put me out without a harsh word.
– I am not dealing with outside organizations, nor am I discussing this matter from an individual stand-point. Senator Millen yesterday referred to the omissions of the Leader of the Government here. He said he had not carried out the proper functions of a leader, because he had not given the Senate full information as to the happenings in the Government during the period of adjournment. Senator Millen is leading the party that the public are inclined to think are supporting that remnant of a party sitting on the Ministerial benches, -a remnant which has a quorum neither in this House nor the other, a remnant which has not enough support, if deserted by the other parties which claim to be independent, to conduct the business of Parliament for ten minutes in either Chamber. Their position is such that, if they were not supported by any other party, no vote of censure would be needed to remove them.
– That is not true in this Chamber.
– Will the Government Whip state that, without the support of the Liberal party, he has a majority in this chamber?
– The Government are attempting to conduct the affairs of the country without being able, of themselves, to form a quorum in either House.
– You can easily put that to the test by trying a count-out now.
– My party have no desire at this moment to test strength “by any such method. My business now is to follow up Senator Millen’s line of argument. If the fullest information at all times should be given to the public on public happenings, surely the leader of a party which stands before the people as having been negotiating for weeks for a basis on which they could support the present Government-
– That is not correct.
– I am glad to hear that statement.
– You can have it from this side, too.
– I am so astounded by the same statement coming from both sides that I begin to think that either I am more dense than I imagine myself to be, or that there is working here the corrupting ‘ influence of the Leader of the Government, who not only lies, but lies deliberately in reference to regulations-
– Order! The honorable senator must withdraw that statement.
– I am not referring to any one in this1 Chamber. I am referring to the public statement of the Leader of the Government in regard to certain regulations.
– The honorable “ senator is not entitled to say, under any excuse whatever, that the Leader of the Government is lying. Such a statement is distinctly unparliamentary, contrary to the Standing Orders, and likely to lead to disorder. I therefore ask him to withdraw it.
– If you rule, sir, that I cannot refer in those terms to a statement published in the press by Mr. Hughes when Parliament was not sitting, I withdraw it.
– The honorable senator must not make a statement reflecting upon a member of this Chamber or of another place, because the Standing Orders are equally emphatic in regard to both. The honorable senator must therefore withdraw the statement.
– I have no hesitation in withdrawing it, but I am still rather astounded at the ruling. I was saying, and I hope I am not mistaken - because I believe the majority of members of the Senate will agree with me - that, judging from the information -we get from the public, press, there are well-founded reasons for the belief that negotiations have taken place between the two parties for a basis of agreement.
– The dogs are barking it.
– There is a belief that such negotiations were conducted, and the happenings of the next few weeks will show whether I am right or wrong in my speculation that there is good reason to believe that as the price of this support from the Liberal party, there will be a watering down of the financial proposals introduced by the last Government. This remark takes me back to the early days of my parliamentary career in New South Wales, in 1891, when the Labour party made similar arrangements in return for their support. On that occasion we had no hesitation in taking the public “into our confidence, and declaring that in return for certain concessions our support would be given to the Government of the day. But there is no room in this country for any Parliament or for any Government that exists by secret arrangement; and this will cease whenever the public have an opportunity of dealing with the Government and the Liberal party.
– What about the secret instructions?
– I can speak for myself, and I say that during the whole of my parliamentary career I have never received instructions not compatible with the proper performance of my public duty as a representative of the people. If Senator Lynch has not had the same experience as I have, then I invite him to make it public on the floor of this Chamber about imaginary secret instructions.
– They were not imaginary; they were very real.
– I will let the honorable senator speak for himself. I can only give my own experience. I refer again to the belief generally held that the Government will get their majority by watering down the financial proposals of the previous Government so that they may be acceptable to the Liberal party.
– Would it not be better for your argument if you stated facts, and did not make imputations or suggestions.
– I am entitled to speculate, and I want to know if there is any truth in the statement that has’ been made that the Repatriation Fund established by the last Government for the purpose of finding the means to place* our returned soldiers on the land, has* been suspended.
– You will get all this* if you wait for the financial statement.
– I have no doubt that the Minister would be very much gratified if I waited for a lot of.” things. Senator Millen, I say, has used! his position as the head of his party to» obtain concessions from the Government.
– That is not correct, and you ought to withdraw it.
– You are indulging in speculations, and the time has passed. You have missed the ‘bus.
– No, I am still entitled to prophesy and speculate, and I. imagine that within the next few months,, or as soon as the negotiations can be conducted successfully, the present Government will be merged into a National Government, so that then we shall have the spectacle of Liberal members on this side of the House occupying seats on the Ministerial benches as supporters, not of a Coalition Government, but of a National party. Members of this Government, at the outset of their career, should have informed His Majesty’s representative, theGovernorGeneral, that they proposed toform a Ministry and act as his advisers,, carrying on the affairs of this country without a majority in either House, and? without a party that they could claim as. supporters of their policy. That is another speculation. The Government should have done that, and they mayhave done it.
– I never heard any Leader of the Opposition before expressso much concern about the Government not having a majority.
– And I, for my part, am quite satisfied that, as far as theMinistry are concerned, it does not matter to them whether they have a majority or not, because they are prepared to go on without a majority, so long as the country is prepared to stand it, and so long as they can claim the support of the Liberal party. But no self-respecting Ministers should be content to continue in officewhen the individual members of the party supporting them repudiate the arrangement in their speeches. That is a sound position to take up. Senator Millen yesterday made it quite clear that, while he- was prepared to support the Government on war measures, he freely reserved his right to criticise the Government.
– Senator Millen has asserted that he ‘will give the “Government support on their war policy, hut let the Government dare to introduce social legislation, and then we shall see what will happen.
– But you will be behind the Government then.
– I can promise the honorable senator that if the Labour party are behind the Government it will oe with a No. 11 boot. I want to know -whether any clause in the agreement, or any phrase in the verbal arrangement or honorable understanding, as it may be termed, between the Liberal party and the Government provides that the Government shall throw overboard everything except war legislation. That is another speculation which, I think, I am entitled to make. I understand this was one of the reasons that induced Mr. Cook and his party to arrive at this honorable understanding with the Government, but 1 am proud to know that the whole of Mr. Cook’s party have not agreed to the proposal. Let me now come to some of the more serious matters touched upon by Senator Millen in his speech yesterday.
– I might remind the honorable senator that the motion before the Senate is not that my speech be printed, but that the paper laid on the table by the Leader of the Senate be sprinted.
– I am aware of that, and I only wish I had the ability to reply in such a manner as to refute effectively those pessimistic utterances made by Senator Millen yesterday - utter.ances that aTe calculated to create a panic in this country. I felt inclined to term them pro-German utterances, but I do not want to play with words, merely to put the matter in a false position. The utterances may he defined, not as pro-German, but as German utterances, for the honorable senator stated most emphatically that if the war were conducted on the present lines he predicted, not the defeat of Germany, but that Germany would win.
– I did not. What I said was that we should fail to win.
– The honorable senator referred to the torpedoeing of British and Allied vessels during one month, and, from his figures, inferred that the position in Great Britain was so bad that starvation itself was not far distant. Such a statement as that ought not to. have been made public.
– It shows that the position with regard to shipping is desperate.
– But the honorable senator gave a statement with regard to the torpedoeing of vessels during one month, and probably the most disastrous month of the whole war.
– As a matter of fact, he gave only one day’s results.
– In order to arrive at a reasonable opinion with regard to this crisis, the honorable senator should have selected a longer period for review, and I intend now to give a few figures dealing with the position with regard to shipping, the period covered being from the time that Germany declared the blockade, on the 18th February, to October of this .year. The figures have been taken from the Daily Mail Year-Book. These are the latest figures given as to the British -vessels sunk by German submarines - 24th February, 7; 1st March, 0; 17th March, 8.
– In what year ?
– That is from the time when the blockade began, on the 18th February of this year.
– The blockade existed before that date.
– I am referring to the proposed German blockade by the use of -submarines. To continue the figures- 31st March, 6; 7th April, 5; 14th April, 2; 21st April, 1; 28th April, 1; 5th May, 5; 12th May, 6; 19th May, 2; :2nd June, 8; 9th June, 9; 16th June, 7; 29th June, 3; 30th June, 7, 7th July, 10; 14th July, 4; 21st July, 0; 28th July, 3; 4th August, 7; 13th August, 2; 18th August, 13 ; 25th August, 20 ; 1st September, 4; 8th September, 12; 18th September, 3; 22nd September, 6; 29th September, 6; 4th October, 8; 13th October, 4. The Tear-Bonk goes on to add that -
Seven other vessels were torpedoed, but managed to reach port. In the period covered by these figures 183 British vessels were sunk, and, in addition to these, 144 British shipping vessels of smaller tonnage were sunk. As an average, the number of steamers, arriving and sailing, was each week 1,400, and the losses were altogether insignificant.
– What about neutral vessels?
– This is a serious subject, and I should like to be permitted to deal with it in my own way. I am showing that during that period of eight months after Germany declared her blockade, 183 British vessels were sunk by German submarines. I do not for a moment say that that is not a serious statement to have to make, or one that should not be a cause of anxiety to all who have the interests of the people at heart; but I do say that in view of the magnitude of our shipping, it does not call for the utterance of panic statements to the effect that the German blockade has put England on a ration basis.
– What is doing it?
– Side by side with the figures I have just quoted, I propose to give the Senate figures referring to the number of ships built and launched in the United Kingdom during the three years 1911, 1912, and 1913, immediately prior to the declaration of war.
– Those will be pre-war figures ?
– Exactly ; and they may not be as good as the figures during the continuance of the war. I find that the total number of ships built and launched in the United Kingdom, exclusive of vessels built for the Royal Navy and for foreign nations, were, in 1911, 1,398; in 1912, 1,296; and in 1913, 1,247.
– Could the honorable senator give the tonnage? That would be a better guide than the number of ships.
– Do the honorable senator’s figures include fishing craft?
– The reason I have not given the tonnage is that I have not the tonnage of the vessels sunk by German submarines to complete the comparison.
– To what class of vessels do the honorable senator’s figures apply ?
– To, all classes of vessels built. I am prepared to give the tonnage if honorable senators think that would be an advantage.
– The vessels sunk by the submarines were almost all capable of being used in oversea trade.
– I am prepared to give honorable senators full details of the vessels built in the years I have referred to. In 1911 the number of steel vessels built and launched was 1,119, tonnage 1,097,682 tons. The number of wooden vessels was 279, and their net tonnage 10,114, or a total of 1,398 vessels of a net tonnage of 1,107,796 tons.
– The figures for the wooden vessels show that many of them must have been very small.
– They also show that they represent a very small proportion of the total number of ships built and launched.
– The figures give an average tonnage per vessel of 800 tons, so . that there must have been a number of very small vessels included.
– I can quite understand the anxiety of some honorable senators to cloud the issue and to refuse to listen to these figures.
– We want to get a fair comparison.
– If I were to go into the tonnage of the vessels sunk it might be shown that the big ships were better protected than the small ones.
– In addition to the 183 British vessels referred to by the honorable senator as being sunk there were over 100 small vessels that were not included in that figure.
– Let me continue with! the figures as to the number of vessels built and launched in the United Kingdom. I find that in 1912 the number of steel vessels built and launched was 1,036, with a net tonnage of 1,087,716 tons; the number of wooden vessels was 260, and the tonnage 9,213 tons, or a total of 1,296 vessels, of an aggregate tonnage of 1,096,929 tons. In 1913, the number of steel vessels was 989, and their net tonnage 1,191,068 tons; the number of wooden vessels was 258, of the net tonnage of 9,423 tons, giving a total of 1,247 vessels, with an aggregate tonnage of 1,200,489 tons.
– Are fishing trawlers included in that aggregate tonnage? If they are the comparison is of np use, because we are dealing with merchant vessels.
– These are merchant vessels.
– Assuming that the honorable senator’s figures are correct, his purpose in presenting them is to show that, so far as shipping is concerned, Great Britain is better off now than when the war broke out. If that be so, I should like to ask him how it is that the difficulties of the British Government in the matter of securing shipping have increased ?
– My purpose is to show the people of this country that although in one week there may have been disastrous losses of shipping, due to the work of the German submarines, that does not warrant a public man using his position in the Senate to make statements calculated to lead to panic. Speaking from memory, Senator Millen said that there were thirty vessels sunk in a month, but he omitted to mention that these included vessels belonging to other countries as well as to Great Britain.
– But they were all employed in British trade.
– There were Norwegian, French, one or two American, and Italian vessels included in the number sunk, and I have pointed out that at least 1,000 steel vessels were built in the United Kingdom in each of the last three years prior to the war, and over 250 wooden vessels were built in each of those years.
– The honorable senator’s figures includes trawlers and ships that are not touched by the submarines at all.
– I need not go into further details, which would only cloud the issue. If in times of peace, when industry was unorganized, ship building in the United Kingdom gave at least twenty-seven new vessels each month, will honorable senators tell me that the Imperial Government have not taken care, with industry organized, to see that for every vessel that is sunk by a German submarine there is another launched to replace it? The Imperial Government have met the greater difficulty of preparing to meet the increase of the German Navy, and when they have been able to provide superior forces for the Navy I decline to believe that the organization of industry in Great Britain has not been accompanied by equally good results in the matter of mercantile snipping. In the circumstances there is, in my opinion, no reason for panic statements because in a particular month thirty vessels - English and foreign - were sunk, and there is no reason to believe that such a result has made a ration list necessary in England, or has brought the people of the United Kingdom to the verge of starvation.
– Is it not a fact that in England they are preparing to ration the people
– These gloomy predictions of the prophets of evil are, of course, made for some purpose. . “When Senator Millen made the statements to which I am referring they gave me, personally, a good deal of concern. I recognise that the honorable senator is the type of man who deals seriously with these questions, and his utterances have considerable weight with a great many people in the community. When he makes a statement that a great number of vessels were sunk in one most disastrous month I wish to point out that that is not so very serious a matter when the figures are compared with the enormous number and tonnage of vessels entering and leaving British ports during the same period.
– Then why should it be a matter of great difficulty for the British Government, or the Government of the Commonwealth, to get ships?
– That question is entitled to an immediate answer, and there is an answer to it. I shall refer to the small part taken in the matter by Australia.
– It is a big part.
– It is in proportion to our numbers; but it is small in proportion to the events that are taking place. The Minister for Defence can correct me if I am wrong, but I say that probably eighty or ninety of the vessels used in the transportation of troops are vessels which would otherwise be engaged in trade.
– They are used for trade as well as for the transportation of troops. The transportation of troops does not affect the matter.
– That is a very interesting statement for the honorable senator to make. He tells us that the transportation of troops, with all their paraphernalia, does not affect the loading of the ships.
– The carrying of 1,000 troops does not sink a vessel six inches.
– But the honorable senator overlooks the fact that the space which the troops occupy is considerable. To answer Senator Millen’s question, I would say that the shortage of shipping is due to the fact that in time of war vessels ordinarily engaged in the mercantile marine are used as troopships and for war purposes. I have said that we are using between eighty and ninety ships for the purpose, and honorable senators from this can imagine the number of ships that are being used Tor war purposes by other countries. The number that Great Britain is using will easily account for the shortage of shipping for mercantile purposes at the present time. I would say, with all due respect to the policy of organizing man power in order to win the war quickly, if the food question is becoming serious the Government might get into communication with the Imperial authorities for the use of ships to convey food from Australia to Great Britain.
– We might be told that we did not know our own business.
– Senator Millen, the gloomy predictor of evils, has told us that victory is already with Germany.
– I cannot allow the honorable senator to publish that statement. I did not say so. What I said was that we might fail to win the war, which is a very different thing from being beaten by Germany.
– I am prepared to apologize if I have misrepresented what the honorable senator said. He now says that the Allies will fail to win the war. Honorable senators will remember the explanation of Senator Findley’s statement. He was careful to explain that when he said that Germany was beaten he did not mean that the end of the war would be immediate. He meant that as far as he could judge the situation, Germany was like a horse in a race which has no chance of winning - like a football team which has been well beaten at half time.
– I hold that opinion still.
– And there are many eminent writers in the world who hold’ it.
– Has not the honorable senator seen a football team which appeared to be well beaten at half time, win in the long run?
– Yes ; but they were not Germans. Senator Millen has stated that we will fail to win this war -
– I did not say that.
– I appeal to you, sir, as to whether I am not repeating the words of the honorable senator’s statement.
– I attached a condition which the honorable senator has left out. I said “unless.”
- Senator Millen has said that if certain things happen we will fail to win the war, and that .the only remedy is greater man power. The speech of the honorable gentleman yesterday was like a ray of light to me because it supplied the reason why the State, which I have the honour to represent, gave such a magnificent “ No “ vote on the occasion of the recent referendum. If Senator Millen delivered speeches of that kind throughout New South Wales, I can readily understand why the people of that State thought that it was time Australia looked after herself.
– We need more men.
– If there is one thing of which I am proud it is that the moment war was declared, Australia went to the aid of the Empire. The Minister for Defence and Senator Millen have stated that the voluntary .system has failed. I am going to prove that it has never failed.
– The honorable senator himself believed up to a certain point that it had failed.
– If Senator Guthrie thinks that I did he is under a misapprehension.
– I know that the honorable senator did.
- Senator Guthrie should know, as every member of the late Government knows, that I never entertained any doubt of the success of the voluntary system. I can prove beyond dispute by figures that the voluntary system has not failed. The Minister for Defence showed that it failed during the first months of recruiting.
– The last months.
– The Minister’s statement proves nothing, because I hold that when the Government fail, anything which they undertake must fail, and certainly the Government had failed.
– Was not the voluntary method a failure?
– I claim that it has never failed, and I propose to put before the Senate figures which will prove my contention. Will anybody say that during the first fourteen months after the outbreak of war any complaint could be made in regard to the voluntary system? From the 4th August, 1914, to the end of September, 1915, will any man claim that the voluntary system failed? I take it, from the silence of honorable senators, that there is a general agreement that during that period it proved satisfactory.
– The voluntary system then gave us what we thought we needed.
– I will go further and say that it gave us all the men we asked for.
– It is not doing that now.
– That may be due to one of two things - either that we are gloomy pessimists or pannicky prophets who are demanding more of Australia than it is possible for her to give. From the beginning of the war to the end of September, 1915, the enlistments amounted to 147,000. During the next fourteen months, under the voluntary system, they numbered more than 150,000. The second period of fourteen months, therefore, supplied more men than did the first. In October, 1915, under the voluntary system, 10,789 men enlisted; in November, 9,674; December, 9,307; January, 1916, 22,6SS ; February, 1S,665; March, 15,S62; April, 9,908; May, 10,656; June, 6,592; July, 6,170; August, 6,161; September, 9,072; and October, 11,522; making a total of 147,066. If I add to that total the enlistments for November, which exceeded 3,000, the aggregate for the- second period of fourteen months is brought up to more than 150,000. Is it a fair thing, I ask, to select one or two months in which the enlistment figures were small, and upon them to base the allegation that the voluntary system has failed. What was responsible for the large enlistments immediately following November of last year. It was the circumstance- that the
Leader of the Labour Government, having the confidence of the people’ of this country, on the 26th November, 1915, offered the Imperial Government an additional unit of 50,000 men. Volunteering was then at a very low ebb. But immediately there was a response from one end of the country to the other, with the result that in December the enlistments numbered 9,307; in January of this year, 22,6S8; in February, 18,665; in March, 15,862; in April, 9,908; and in May, 10,656. Is .it any wonder that after that magnificent effort there was a decline in recruiting during the months of June and July?
– The late Government offered the Imperial authorities more than 50,000 men. It offered to supply an additional 50,000 men plus reinforcements. Senator Gardiner himself made the offer.
– And I will stand up to it. In three months ‘after that offer was made we had secured more than 50,000 men.
– But you had not provided for reinforcements.
– In March of the present year, I repeat, there were 15,862 enlistments, in April 9,90S, in May 10,656, and in June 6,592, which gave us more recruits than there have been casualties up to the present time. According to the statement made by the Minister for Defence yesterday, our total casualties to date number 50,900.
– Do not fall into the same error as Mr. ‘ Tudor did in regard to those figures. They do not include casualties in which the wounded men have afterwards returned to the front.
– I do not want to fall into the error. I can assure the honorable senator that I am not using these figures for the purpose of condemning him, but for the purpose of showing the public that the voluntary system has not failed.
– Because it was a success last year it does not follow that it is a success now. The casualties today are 16,500 a month, and how are we to supply that number of reinforcements ?
– When the Minister for Defence puts such a stupid statement before the country it is about time that he considered casualty statistics in regard to other belligerents.
– It is the statement of the Imperial Army Council.
– The Minister assures me that the Imperial Army Council claims that we require to send forward 16,500 men a month to keep up the strength of our army to five divisions. If that claim be correct it means that the present Australian army will be completely wiped out in. six months, and will require to be renewed.
– The honorable senator refuses to accept the statement of the Imperial Army Council?
– With all respect I do. If the Imperial Army Council had the combined wisdom of all the military men in the world, I would still claim the right to show that judged by two years of war there are no figures which will warrant the assumption that our army will be wiped out in six months.
– The honorable senator knows that in one month a whole division was wiped out.
– How long does the Minister think Australia could continue to supply 16,500 reinforcements monthly?
– The most glorious victories will always be associated with the saddest casualties. According to the Imperial Army Council, in order to keep up the strength of our Australian forces in the field to 100,000, it is necessary for us to supply 16,500 reinforcements monthly. I repeat that such a tremendous wastage would mean the entire wiping out of our present forces within a period of six months. Let us apply a similar rate of wastage to the German Army. To-day Germany has about 4,000,000 men at the front. Assuming that she has suffered wastage at the same rate, her losses since the war began must have totalled 20,000,000. Our men went to Gallipoli on the 25th April, 1915; and they fought there for eight months.
– One division.
– One division only?
– Later, another division, but at the outset only one division.
– I am not looking for any party advantage or argument, but for facts. If, on .the 17th March, our men fired their first shell in France-
– Two divisions.
– And from then to now have been fighting, and fought in that disastrous month when 19,000 of them became casualties; if during that period there had been only 50,000 men-
– How many a month do you say are wanted now?
– I am trying to give the answer.
– Why cannot you answer ?
– I suppose that I have the right to answer in my own way.
– Now that we have five divisions, how many a month do we want?
– If in this period of eighteen months there was one month of such grave disaster as is represented by the loss of 19,000 men, I venture to say that we could estimate our reinforcements on a basis of 5 per cent., and not 16^ per cent. That would mean the provision of 5,000 men a month. I challenge any honorable senator who wishes to answer me to take the French figures, or the Italian figures, or the Russian figures - advancing and retreating as the Russians did, under conditions which led to awful slaughter - or even the Serbian or Belgian figures, and I venture to say that an analysis of those figures will give you a great deal nearer to a wastage of 5 per cent.
– Are you aware that taking your own estimate of 5 per cent, we are not even getting that number, that is, when you allow for the wastage from the camps ?
– I am quite astonished at the Minister making a state- ment of that kind when I have just read official figures which show that for the last f ourteen months of the war we have obtained 150,000 recruits.
– You have not got 5,000 this month.
– I can give a simple remedy for increasing the number of enlistments under the voluntary system, . though it would be an unpleasant one for the honorable senator. It is simply the removal of a Government whose actions the public view with, suspicion, and who have not the confidence of the people of this country ; a Government whose leader told the people of this State that they were pro-Germans; a Government whose leader participated in a party fight, and exhibited on the walls a placard which depicted the people of my State who voted “ No “ as murderers of soldiers, driving a dagger into their hearts.
– You did not protest at the time.
– My honorable friend reminds me of something which would require a much cleverer man than myself to explain. I did remain with the Government, but I led no one to believe that I had altered my views ; I remained with the Government on the condition that I would not open my lips on the conscription question until a vote of the people had been given, and I honorably kept that promise. During the whole of that period I never uttered a word on the conscription question. ‘I quite admit that I had not the firmness of mind to see clearly how things were going. I had not the firmness of mind to say “ I will destroy the Government in the middle of the referendum campaign.” I was rather inclined to wait until the people had voted “ No,” and the party and the Government could have been saved. I did everything in my power to that end. But that does not say that I am going to condone the action of the Leader of the Government, who, by his wild utterances, branded anti-conscriptionists as proGermans, as people handling German money, as “ I.W.W.” men, as men who were prepared to sell their country for their own personal advantage. Having had this proposal turned down by the people, the Leader of the Government could not expect success from his present system of recruiting. There can be no success in the conduct of the war while the present Government remain in office.
– Yet you remained a colleague of that leader.
– I remained a colleague of the Prime Minister because I had promised him that I would until a given date. I remained with the Prime Minister because it would have been embarrassing to him for me to go out of the Government at any time during the campaign. I remained his colleague because, when I gave him that promise, I believed! that the campaign was going to be fairly conducted.
– If, in your opinion, it was not being fairly conducted, were you not absolved from your promise?
– I do not think so. The Minister for Defence had made his arrangements in Western Australia on the understanding that I would conduct the business of his Department while he was away. On that understanding I simply remained silent regarding the conduct of the campaign.
– You were not there when I came back.
– I remained at the Department for four days after my resignation was sent in, and the honorable senator was within twenty-four hours of getting back to the Department. He can put that fact in his own way, and he may have all the advantage by saying of me, “ He was not there when I came back.”
– I think it was a little longer; I will look up that point.
– It was on a Tuesday afternoon that I left the Department, and my resignation was sent in on the previous Friday. At that time I believe that the honorable senator was in South Australia, and on his way back to the Department. Anyhow, something happened to the Government after my promise was given, and I think that there is not to be found in the public life of Australia one man who ‘ would have stopped in the Government after that occurrence. What did happen? Mr. Hughes and Senator Pearce, without the knowledge of the rest of the Cabinet, prepared a regulation.
– That is not correct.
– All right.
– And you know that it is not correct.
– Is the Minister sure that I do?
– You know that the regulation was prepared, if a regulation was prepared at all, after I had left for Western Australia. And you know that there was no such regulation in preparation when I left for that State.
– I can assure my honorable friend that I did not. And when I give to him certain information in my possession, he will see that I did not make the statement just now with the view to injuring him personally. He admits that even he was not. consulted.
– I am not saying that.
– I hope that the honorable senator will not continue the process of trying to make out that I misrepresent him.
– Yes, I will, if you do.
– I intend in the most deliberate manner to put before the Senate and the country my reasons for leaving the Cabinet. There are three distinguished gentlemen - lawyers- who say that the oath of secrecy administered to Executive Councillors is one that binds them to treat as secret and sacred all information which may come before them.
– At the Executive Council.
– I take it that the honorable senator subscribes to that view ?
– That is the oath.
– Not having had the gentlemanly training of a lawyer, I have no such code of morality. I took the oath, believing that no dishonorable conduct would be asked of me as an Executive Councillor.
– You were to be the judge of what was dishonorable conduct ?
– I certainly have to be the judge of what is dishonorable, because I am the maker of my own reputation. I intend to make the public the judge on this occasion as to whether what I was called upon to do was a thing about which an honorable man could remain silent. Mr. Groom, a lawyer; the Right Hon. W. -M. Hughes, a lawyer; and Sir William Irvine, a lawyer, say that a Minister has to keep secret and sacred everything which comes before him as Executive business. It may be a code of morality for lawyers that, if their fee is sufficiently large, if they are briefed in the proper fashion, they can hear recitals of crime from the vilestcriminals, and keep them a secret in their own breasts. . But let me tell the Senate that that is not the code of morality of a representative of the working classes and that is not my code of morality. I took an oath of secrecy, and honorably I kept that oath. I propose to read to the Senate the regulation which the Right Hon. W. M. Hughes prepared and asked us to accept, and I am still keeping to the letter and the spirit of the oath of secrecy which I took when I make public the act of a man who was aiming a blow at our fairest and best institution, at the very Crown. But before I read the regulation, let me say that the lawyers’ code of morality is that they can hear vile statements of infamous doers, but that is not my code. In regard to Executive documents, these lawyers are very sensitive. They say that to take a document, out of the Executive Council chamber is actually to pilfer it. Goodness gracious me ! If I caught a man burgling my house - if I caught a man committing an infamous crime, and picked up his handkerchief with his name written thereon, would I be guilty of stealing thearticle if I were to take it to the police as evidence of his criminal act? The code .of honorable lawyers, of course, would be, “ This is another man’s property, and you cannot touch it.” The regulation in my hand never came before> the Executive. Certain questions were tobe asked of every voter who appeared tobe under thirty-five years of age at the polling booth, and those questions I will read.
– Clearly, something must have preceded the questions. Is there anything in the regulation as to who was to address these questions to intending voters ?
– I will read the lot. From the text of these, it seems it was intended to ask young men under thirty-five years of age -
Are you a person to whom the Proclamation of 29th September, 191fi, calling upon single men under thirty-five to present themselves for enlistment, applies, and have you presented yourself for enlistment accordingly or been exempted f
It was proposed, if any intending voter answered in the negative, or if the presiding officer had reason to believe that the person claiming the vote was the person to whom the proclamation applied, and he had failed to obey it, that the presiding officer, before permitting him tovote, should mark the ballot-paper with the word “ Proclamation “ or “ Proc.” All such ballot-papers were to be dealt, with in the same manner as ballot-papers indorsed under section 9, which deals with persons whose votes may be challenged on the ground of nationality. There was also a clause providing for the appointment of tribunals empowered to determine whether the electors had wilfully failed to comply with the proclamation, and that such wilful failure was to be deemed disloyalty. This was printed on the day that Mr. Garran, the Solicitor-General, handed the papers to Mr. Higgs. The essence of the regulation was that the voters were to be questioned at the polling booth. This is what happened : Mr. Higgs called my attention to the report of a speech delivered by Mr. Hughes, in which he said that at the polling booth he had “ the surprise of their lives” in store for the young men who had not registered. I was endeavouring, to the best- of my ability, to conduct the business of the Defence Department, and I thought the most serious thing that could happen to this country would be a conflict between the civil and military authorities on such an occasion. For the Prime Minister to make a statement that the polling booth was to be used to spring a surprise upon the electors astonished me beyond measure. That, of itself, was sufficient to justify our resignations. I inquired if a regulation had been framed to give effect to this statement. I went to Mr. Starling, the then Acting Secretary to the Prime Minister, and he said he would see the Solicitor-General. I saw him go into the Solicitor-General’s room. When he came out he told me there was no such regulation, and I informed Senator Russell and Mr. Higgs that no such regulation was intended. When the Executive Council met that afternoon three regulations came along. This regulation, the essence of which Mr. Hughes had given, was put before us. It should have been signed by the Minister for Defence, but it was not.
– Why not?
– Possibly because the honorable gentleman had not -seen it in its final stage.
– Where was he at “the- time ? “Senator GARDINER. - In Western Australia.
– Why did you not «ay so ?
– I hope the honorable senator will not be- so bitter as to think that I am trying to put him in any worse position than the regulation puts him in. I thought that as I was acting for the Minister for Defence, the regulation could well have been submitted to me, especially as I had been asked if such a regulation was in existence; but at the meeting of the Executive Council, at which I presided as Vice-President, the regulation was handed, unsigned, to Mr. Higgs, for him to sign, and then to be submitted to the Council. I suppose there was not sufficient confidence in me.
– You could not have signed it, because it had to be signed, under the War Precautions Act, by a Minister with portfolio.
– That may have been the reason. Senator Russell, Mr. Higgs, and myself were at that meeting.: We dealt with the other two regulations.
– You three were the only Executive Councillors there?
– Yes. As the regulation was unsigned, after passing the other regulations, we adjourned until the next afternoon. When we met next afternoon, Mr. Jensen was present, in addition to Senator Russell, Mr. Higgs, and myself, and, after a little discussion, the regulation was unanimously turned down.
-Was the Prime Minister at the meeting ?
– He was conducting his campaign in New South Wales. Quite innocently I stated that Senator Pearce and Mr. Hughes had drafted or prepared that regulation, because, after the first meeting at which we adjourned its consideration, I took the precaution to wire to Senator Pearce that, as Vice-President of the” Executive Council, I would not sign the regulation unless instructed by him or the Prime Minister to do so. I also wired to the Prime Minister that I would not sign it unless I had his instruction to do so. ‘ I did not know what the situation would be, although I knew that if the Executive Council passed the regulation it would’ become the duty of those present to sign what they had passed, and I wanted the authority of some one who was responsible before I attached my signature to it. I sent the following wire to the Prime Minister: -
I cannot sign the proposed regulation to question voters at the polling booths unless instructed by yourself.
I sent a similar wire to Senator Pearce, the only difference being that I put “ unless instructed’ by yourself or . the Prime Minister.”
– Are we to understand that if Mr. Hughes had told you to sign you would have signed ?
– Yes, if the Executive Council passed the regulation, because I would then have been acting under the instructions of the two men whom I looked to.
– The regulation could not come before the Executive Council unless it was signed.
– I received the following reply from the Prime Minister: -
I believe the regulation to ‘be necessary. I consulted Pearce, and he entirely approves.
– He consulted me by wire.
– There was nothing about “by wire” in his telegram. Senator Pearce’s reply was: -
Please sign regulation questioning voters, polling booth; Prime Minister concurs.
I do not think I can be accused of trying to misrepresent Senator Pearce when, with these wires in my possession, I assumed that he and the Prime Minister, without consulting any other members of the Cabinet, had drafted the regulations.
– Is it not possible that the text may have been drafted and submitted, or sent to me? Is that not different from preparing a regulation?
– I do not wish to quibble over that point.
– You quibbled over the time of my return. As a matter of fact, you left office on the Tuesday, and I did not get back to Melbourne until the Thursday.
– When I left the honorable senator’s office I was under the impression that he had returned on the Wednesday. In any case, that has nothing to do with the regulation. My point is that Mr. Hughes and Senator P earce agreed between themselves to submit to the Executive, and inflict on the people through the ballot-box, a military punishment, and that no other member of the Cabinet was consulted about it. Other members of the Cabinet could not get the document, although they asked for it, until the Executive Council met. I am pleased to be able to make this statement in the presence of Senator Russell, who will agree that I have not misstated the case. When we refused to pass the regulation, the Prime Minister made a public statement to the effect that Senator Russell, Mr. Higgs, and myself had prepared a “ childishly dramatic “ retirement from the Cabinet. As a matter of fact, there was no organization or preparation to retire. The question of resignation was not discussed by us until Senator Russell called us together, and we met in Mr. Higgs’ room. Senator Russell then informed us that the regulation which we had turned down had been given effect to at a meeting of’ the Executive Council in Sydney, and that his officer, Mr. Oldham, had been instructed to give effect to the regulation which Mr. Hughes claims was never issued. The details of this matter are worth remembering. I went to the room between 5 and 6 in the afternoon. It is to Senator Russell’s credit that he met the position by saying, “ I think this action demands the dignified resignation of the members of the Cabinet,” and we at once acquiesced in that. On the Saturday following, our resignations appeared in the press. There is another story attached to that, but as it is a personal one, I will leave it till a more convenient period. Mr. Hughes’ comment was that he looked upon the resignation of his Ministers as a sure omen of victory. He said -
I propose to say nothing more to the press than that I have noted their resignations, and have nothing to say by way of comment, except that if they hope by their childishly dramatic action to persuade the electors that they are men who are prepared to sacrifice office for principle, they will be bitterly disappointed. They pretend that they have resigned because of the issue of certain regulations that interfere with the electors going to the polling booths. Their attempt to impose upon the credulity of the electors is on a par with the Maltese coloured labour dodges, and is no doubt the last card in the anti-conscriptionist pack. Personally, I hail their resignations as a sure omen of victory. Mr. Higgs, in a spirit of lugubrious prophecy, told a reporter the other day that if conscription were carried he would have to resign. He and his coadjutors have only anticipated the inevitable by a few hours, and the people now know the kind of men who stand behind the anti-conscription party, and understand perfectly well the motives that animate them, and are resolved to vote them out.
I do not want to comment adversely on that statement, but it left no other course open to me, seeing that it imputed motives to me, and impugned my integrity, than to lay the whole of the facts concerning the regulations before the public at the earliest possible moment, and I did it. If there is a class of men who say that these things must be kept secret, that the man who is laying his unholy hands on the ballot-box, the man who proposes to bring discord and dissension into the polling booth, must be allowed to go scot free, because under the oath to His Majesty whatever comes before the Executive Council must be treated as secret, let it be distinctly understood that whatever council or company I am in, no dishonorable conduct will be kept secret while I have a tongue to speak. These are the things that have brought this Government into contempt. The Government are now putting before the public a proposal to ask the men they have insulted to flock to their standard and give them the kudos of carrying on a system of voluntary organization. I give place to no man in this country in my loyalty to the British people. I perhaps very often put my loyalty to Australia first, but no matter what campaign is inaugurated by this Government I will be no party to it. It is foredoomed to failure, because of the men who are placing it before the community. The Government is foredoomed to failure because it lacks the first essential to success”, that is, the confidence of the people. Are the members of the Government going to the men whom they have branded as Industrial Workers of the World men, to those whom they have branded as pro-Germans, and as the murderers of our soldiers at the front, and to ask them for help?
– No, we are not.
– Then they are going to leave alone the great State of New South Wales, which cast 470,000 votes for liberty, and carried liberty for the people of Australia. Let me tell the Minister representing the Government in this chamber that he and his followers here, especially Senator Guthrie, who are so loud-mouthed in calling the opponents of conscription Germans, that New South Wales has the least percentage of Germans of all the States of the Commonwealth, and gave the biggest percentage of “No” votes. There was no German influence there. There was the influence of that British steadfastness that will do things, but will not be compelled to do them.
– Was there a German influence at the front when the Anzacs voted “ No “ ?
– Although I was a member of the Government, I did not know what the Anzac vote was, so I shall not comment upon it. Though I was a member of the Government, I made no inquiries on that point, and I know no more than the general public. I repeat that the Government do not command a majority in either House, and, as far as I know, command no support whatever in the country.
– I never, knew any honorable senator who was more mournful over the prospects of a Government. Why should you be sorry that we have not a majority?
– I am sorry because I am an Australian. I am sorry to see an Australian Parliament governed under conditions that are so unprecedented as the present. If the Government and their supporters had the courage of their conviction that the country was with them, why did they not tell Parliament that they would arrange for an appeal to the people? Not only am I sorry that was not done, but I am sorry that, by their attitude, this Government have not given the people of Australia that opportunity of doing as much as they want to for the Empire in the present struggle. This Government, by intrigue, and support that is repudiated by the voice, is carrying on the affairs of the country. Would not that make any true Australian sorry? Is that a pleasant prospect as far as the country is concerned? This Government, without the confidence of the people, cannot prosecute the war, or do anything else successfully j and it appears to me that, irrespective of the results to their individual selves, the Government and their supporters should appeal to the country, so that the people should have the opportunity to reconstitute Parliament according to their wishes. ,
– They may have an opportunity very soon.
– I take it that that interjection reflects the statement made by the Prime Minister at the. Lord Mayor’s banquet recently, when he hinted that both Houses of Parliament would be sent to the country at the same time. I have had something to do with hurrying -on that process once before, and I hope to have the opportunity again. The Minister knows as well as I do that, in order to bring about a double dissolution, there would be a waste of four months of valuable time - a time full of immense possibilities - during which the affairs of this country would be carried on, as Mr. Hughes and Senator Pearce have done, by regulations. Is not this prospect enough to make any one gloomy ? Senator Pearce has told us, of course, that this is not the Hughes Government as formed in October of last year, but that, it is a new Hughes Government. If the veil of ‘secrecy could be raised, I should like to know if, when advising His Excellency to send for himself ‘ to form a :new Government, Mr. Hughes told the ‘Governor-General that he had not a quorum in’ either House of the Parliament, but that he hoped the business would be conducted somehow or other with the aid of the Liberal party.
– I am a bit curious on that point myself.
– Then perhaps the Leaders of the Opposition might arrange ;a deputation to ask the Governor-General.
– It might be possible to approach His Excellency by -some other means than by deputation, and by a method which, I think, a majority of this Chamber might approve. We might convey that information by a resolution to His Excellency in the usual formal way. The question at issue in this debate, and which forms the topic of discussion in every club, is how long this unique experiment is to continue; how long, with ten men behind Mr. Hughes and two doubtful supporters in the other House ; how long, with ten. members, and perhaps ten supporters in this Senate, the Government will presume to be the advisers to His Excellency the GovernorGeneral ? No doubt Senator Pearce and Mr. Hughes are perfectly happy “with the present arrangement. Perhaps they think they represent the people in Australia, and that the interests of this country could not be intrusted to any other “hands but their own. Probably they are thoroughly satisfied that the members of -the Labour party who sit on this side of the Senate are merely representatives of that dangerous section of the Labour movement to which reference has been made lately, and that, therefore, we have to be kept out of office at any price.
– The section v that is called the Caucus now.
– And which they have abandoned.
– Yes. They marched out of Caucus without any condemnation being levelled at them in any way whatever. They left the Caucus for no good known reason, and for no insult at all to their dignity. There was nothing to justify the Leader of the Senate and other members in cutting themselves adrift from the deliberations of Caucus other than a misguided loyalty to their chief. Mr. Hughes went out of the Labour movement because ne nad forfeited his right to lead the party, and for the same sound reasons he has forfeited his right to lead the Parliament of this country.
– Who says that?
– I do. I am only voicing my own opinion here 5 but, as far as Mr. Hughes is concerned, I say he had nothing to complain of from our party other than .criticism for having attempted to give effect to those infamous regulations, and that he had spat upon the party which had made him politically.
– What did he do for the party ?
- Mr. Hughes did for the party all that a great man giving twenty years of honest work could do, and I give him the fullest credit for it publicly. But even twenty years of honest work does not warrant any man in attempting to disrupt the party that exalted him to the leadership of the affairs of this country.
– Do not forget that the party condemned Mr. Hughes before we heard of that regulation.
– A fortnight after the resignation of his Ministers, Mr. Hughes called the party together, and took his position as chairman of it.
– But ne was attacked by the organizations outside.
– Well, they had a right to attack him, just as the honor- able senator’s organizations will deal with him yet. What I am saying is that the Parliamentary Labour party gave the Prime Minister no grounds for his resignation, or withdrawal. He acted in this matter on his own initiative, and, for reasons best known to himself, he withdrew from the room, taking a following of members with him.
– Did he not say when he came back from England that he was going on, “ Let them stop me who can “ ?
– I am not at all surprised that the unions expelled Mr. Hughes from their membership; but the Parliamentary Labour party did not indorse that expulsion. The Labour party in this Parliament offered no indignity either to Mr. Hughes or his followers.
– They asked Mr. Hughes to meet them.
– Will the honorable senator explain why it was that the motion was tabled that Mr. Hughes should be removed from the chair?
– I will. ‘ Mr. Hughes was not removed from the chair. He left it of his own volition. A motion was .prepared for submission to that meeting that the chairman of the party, as Leader of the Government, having done certain things in the referendum campaign, no political party could retain him as leader. That is as much as the public are entitled to know.
– Will you tell them that he was asked for an explanation before that motion was moved?
– He was not.
– He was.
– That is absolutely untrue.
– On a point of order, Mr. President, I draw your attention to the fact that Senator de “ Largie interjected that what an honorable senator on the other side had said was absolutely untrue.
– There have been so many interjections during this debate, and so much cross-firing, that it is impossible for me to hear everything that is said. If Senator de Largie made use of the expression complained of, he was out of order, and must withdraw it.
– I withdraw it ; but I would like to make a statement.
– I would have completed my speech before the adjourn- ment for lunch but for cross-firing and explanations due to an interjection by Senator de Largie. I take advantage of this opportunity to say that Senator de Largie’s statement, that Mr. Hughes had no opportunity at the .party meeting testate his case, is not in accordance with) the facts. He was invited to call that meeting and took the chair.
– I rise to a point of order. I wish to ask whether Senator Gardiner can be permitted to make a. statement in regard to the incident to which he is nbw referring, in view of the* fact that 1 have announced my intention to make a personal explanation inconnexion with the same matter. I think it is hardly fair that Senator Gardiner should be allowed to take advantage of me by being permitted to make his statement on the subject before I make mine.
– Senator Gardiner is quite in order in making any statement he pleases that is not in. contravention of the Standing Orders. Senator de Largie has given notice of his intention: to make a personal explanation later. He may do so after the conclusion of Senator Gardiner’s address, but he must confineany remarks he makes to a personal explanation.
– In making my statement I have no wish to split straws; on little matters. It has been said that Mr. Hughes was not given the fullest and fairest opportunity to state his caseat the party meeting. He was asked tocall the meeting, and, as Leader of our party, he called it. As chairman of the meeting, and Leader’ of the party, hewas invited to make a statement, and, in reply to that invitation, he said that it was up to those who called the meeting to say what the business of the meeting was. I, for one, as a member of the party, doknow what the decision of the meeting would have been if Mr. Hughes and his following of their own free will had notwithdrawn themselves from the party.
– There was a motion to depose him moved before he left.
– And two amendments.
– That is so;, but no man at the meeting could have-. foreseen what would be the final decision of the conference had Mr. Hughes and his following not withdrawn. The point.
I wish to make is that, .when. Mr. Hughes and his party withdrew from the meeting, nothing unfair or unreasonable had been done, and nothing had been done which any body of self-governing men had not a perfect right to do. Mr. Hughes still denies the issue of the regulations which brought about the resignation of Senator Russell, Mr. Higgs, and myself. What is the use of such a denial when we have the Returning Officer informed and the instructions given to his officers from one end of the Commonwealth to the other. We have men in the telegraph office aware that the instructions were sent out, and we have Returning Officers and officials engaged at the polling booths on the day of the referendum aware of the existence of those instructions, and if further proof were necessary we have the existence to-day of ballot-papers with the words “Proclamation” or “ Proc “ stamped upon them in accordance with the instructions. It is a most serious thing that a Prime Minister should attempt to impute to three men, who were members of his Cabinet, what is unfounded and untrue. There are two men in the public life of this country who are in a position to remove the imputation cast upon these men by the Prime Minister. One is Mr. Jensen, the Minister for the Navy, and the other is His Excellency the Governor-General. It is within their power to remove this imputation of unfairness, or of acting from improper motives on the part of these three men, and I say that, if they are willing that we should remain under that imputation, I shall take any means in my power to prove that the statement Mr. Hughes now makes, that the regulations that have been referred to, were never issued, is untrue and unfounded. We know that they were issued. The Prim© Minister also shelters himself under the fact that, in this matter, we are- dealing with the secrets of the Executive. * Is this the same Mr. Hughes, and the same Prime Minister, who attacked one of his own colleagues by revealing secrets of the Cabinet ?
– It is not revealing secrets of the Cabinet, but of the Executive Council that is objected to. Members of a Ministry do not’ take an oath not to reveal secrets of the Cabinet.
– I say that the Prime Minister attacked one of his colleagues on the strength of conversations that took place in Cabinet. The Minister for Defence draws some fine distinction between an oath and the conduct of a man who regards his reputation for honorable conduct as of value, but I repeat that in the middle of the referendum campaign, and without provocation, Mr. Hughes revealed secrets of the Cabinet in attacking one of his colleagues. I refer to Mr. Mahon.
– Do you say that Mr. Mahon had made no statement?
– So far as I am aware Mr. Mahon had made no statement. Mr. Hughes based what he said upon what some one at Kalgoorlie had attributed to Mr. Mahon, while that gentleman was in a hospital or away in the country.
– The person at Kalgoorlie published a telegram from Mr. Mahon.
– The point I wish to make is that the Prime Minister has led the way in these recriminations, and if a bad example has been set he is not altogether blameless in the matter. I have occupied more of the time of the Senate than perhaps was justifiable, but for that I must blame honorable senators who, when I desired to make some point quickly, diverted me by their interjections into the consideration of other matters. I commenced my speech with the intention of dealing with the address delivered by Senator Millen, in which he put before the country the most dismal view of the present war situation. I have given figures as to shipping to show that, in view of the enormous shipping of Great Britain, Senator Millen’s references to the number of ships that have been sunk are not so serious as they may at first appear, though I do recognise that they are serious. The honorable senator has told us that Germany is holding us on the Western front and on the Eastern front, and has at the same time been able to raid Roumania. During the present summer Germany has had no reason to congratulate herself upon what has transpired at the Western front. When the spring campaign commenced one of the highest officials in the German Parliament predicted that within a few weeks’ time the German flag would be flying over Verdun. Has that happened? We know that the Germans have sacrificed army after army there, and after a campaign of six or eight months they are in an in-
finitely worse position, facing the French forces, than they were when they commenced that campaign in February. Then, if we consider the Western front on the Somme, however serious the view Senator Millen may take of it, the fact remains that, as the result of the summer campaign, the Allies are in an infinitely stronger position than they were before it began.
– No one is disputing that; but does the honorable senator shut his eyes to the fact that the combined forces of the Allies, during the last six months, have not only held their own, but have been gradually drawing the ring of bayonets more closely around the armies of the Central Powers ? Senator Millen has said that the Germans are holding us upon the Western front, and are at the same time making a raid into Roumanian territory, and he has put this forward as a grave reason why our organization and our policy should be altered, lest otherwise we should not win the war. If Germany, during the whole of the last spring and summer, gained nothing, and lost much on the Western front, that is the result of the organization of the Allies in the production of new guns and explosives. They have, during this period, driven the German forces from trenches which they expected to be able to hold during the coming winter. They have produced guns which out-distance the range of the German guns. They have surpassed the Germans in the production of explosives, and have driven them out of the dug-outs in which they expected to spend the winter in comparative comfort. In face of the facts no one of British birth should, in his place in a British Parliament, attempt to maintain that ‘ Germany is holding us on the Western front. To go further afield, if the Allies could hold the prepared Germans in 1914, when they expected that their flag would be flying over Paris, and the Kaiser made the impertinent statement that they would trample over the insignificant British Army, what is to be said now when that insignificant army has grown into an enormous organization, with hundreds of thousands for the thousands it represented before?
– If the honorable senator’s statement is a correct presentation of the case, and the little British
Army in the early stages could hold the Germans, how is it that the great British Army of to-day has not been able to overrun them?
– Surely no one can doubt the facts. The French and British did hold the Germans in the earlier stage.
– That is so.
– I say that since then there has been a vast organization of industry by the Allies. We cannot -make guns and munitions and organize factories in a week or a month, but I say that the position has changed since the earlier stages of the war, and to-day Great Britain and France, in the matter of the number of men on the Western front, outnumber Germany and Austria. They have exceeded their preparations for war, and slowly and surely the Germans are being driven from their prepared positions. The whole of the 1915-16 campaign has been a slow, but sure, advance to victory by the Allied armies on the Western front. These facts should, I think, be stated when we are told by Senator Millen that the Germans are holding us on the Western front. We have captured strongly-fortified positions, and hundreds of miles of trenches, and though the Germans staked their military reputation that their flag would be flying over Verdun in February or in March, it is not there yet, and it never will be there.
– They are as near to Paris to-day as they were in September, 1914. The honorable senator should not forget that.
– I do not agree with that statement. I know that at one time they were considerably nearer to Paris than they are at the present time. The invading army of Germany were at one time preparing to sit down and besiege Paris.
– They were only 18 miles from Paris at one time.
– I speak of the middle of September, 1914.
– Germany has been going to do wonderful things. She proposed to take Paris, and then declare peace with France, but she was not able to do so. At this time last year it was anticipated that she was going to take Petrograd, but she has not done so.
– They are taking kingdoms in their stride, whilst we are recovering acres.
– I can understand statements like that coming from Senator Bakhap. A mind such as the honorable senator’s is disposed to give greater prominence to German petty victories than to Great British victories. I am dealing with the statements made by Senator Millen that, on land, as well as on water, the Germans are holding their own, and I say that, in the opinion of the most reputable writers in the world, so far as I have been able to digest what they have written, Germany is beaten.
– Oh, no !
Seator GARDINER.- I say that it is impossible for Germany to win, but it may take a considerable time before final victory is achieved by the Allies. That is the position as I view it. What are we to do in regard to additional man power ? I say that, as regards man power, Australia has not only done well, but that she has done excellently. Allowing for subsequent rejections and exemptions, the number of men recently passed as physically fit in a great State like New South Wales - some 30,000 - shows clearly that not more than 15,000 or 20,000 fit young men are now available there: In other words, four out of five of the eligible single men in that State have already volunteered, and proceeded to the front. Yet, because they would not vote for conscription, their brothers and sisters have been described as pro-Germans. That is an intolerable position in which to place a free people. I wish to make it quite clear that the Government can do much more for the Empire than has yet been done. The quickest -way in which it can do this is by giving place to men who possess the confidence of the country.
– Since the honorable senator has justified his own section of the Labour party to the uttermost, will he tell us what he thinks’ of those members of that party who affirmed that Australia had already done enough.
– Those members can speak for themselves. I venture to say that, during the time that I occupy the position of Leader of the Australian Labour ‘party in the Senate, there will be no attempt to curtail the speeches of my colleagues. For two years the late Government gave effect to the Labour policy. During that period, its actions gave satisfaction alike to nine-tenths of the people of Australia, to the people of Great Britain, and to our Allies, while it bitterly disappointed those who wished to put party politics before the welfare of our country.
– Is the honorable senator claiming as part of his policy the proposed amendments of the Constitution ?
– Certainly .
– Did the Ministry of which the honorable senator was a member give effect to that policy?
– It did not. It had a promise from the Premiers of the States that lilley would give effect to that policy. Accepting their assurances, it consented to having those powers conferred upon the Commonwealth during’ war time by the State Parliaments. To the discredit of every State Government, with the exception of New South Wales, not one of them respected its promise.
– The Labour Government in Queensland did.
– But the Legislative Council there rejected the Bill.
– If I was deceived by the promises of the State Premiers, I am prepared to accept my share of the responsibility. It will be my fault if they deceive me again. The late Government were . gulled into desisting from their attempt to amend the Constitution by the separate -promises of the six Premiers of Australia who, with the exception of Mr. Holman, failed to keep their “promise.
– Is it a fact that the Commonwealth Government asked the Western Australian Government to withdraw the Bill giving effect to that compact?
– I know nothing of it.
– It is another fairy tale.
– I propose to conclude my speech with a few observations regarding the policy of the party which I have the honour to lead.
– Why unfold it now?
– Because there are persons who say that our policy has changed since a certain event happened. I wish to say that our policy is the same now as it was before.
– Subject to instructions.
– Our policy is the policy which enabled our men-of-war to protect our” coasts from threatened raids by German vessels. Our policy is that, which, thanks to our compulsory military training system, enabled us to quickly send trained men to assist the Empire on the outbreak of war, and which permitted us within a brief space of two years to organize, arm, equip, and train 300,000 men to participate in the great struggle that is now in progress.
– Which policy is now denounced by those who issue your instructions.
– I am now speaking as their mouthpiece, and I have no hesitation in affirming that our policy is unchanged. The Minister for Defence may put us in the position of our bitterest enemies - the members of the Industrial Workers of the World. But our worst enemy is William Morris Hughes, who would put a fire-stick into our Constitution, if he could.. I repeat that there has been no change in the policy of the Australian Labour party, and that we shall always treat the people of this country with the consideration to which they are entitled.
– Under instructions from the Political Labour Council.
– During my twenty-five years connexion with the Labour movement, the Political Labour Councils have never attempted to interfere with me. I appeal to Senator Lynch to say whether they have interfered with him during his twenty-seven years’ association with the movement?
– Not with me.
– Then why anticipate that they will do so?
– They have done so.
– I am not going to allow the Minister for Defence, or any other honorable senator, to say that outside interference has caused him to leave the party.
– The honorable senator himself obeyed their instructions.
– I am glad to know that Senator Millen, from his many years’ knowledge of me, recognises that I am so obedient and pliant.
– To outside organizations, the honorable senator is.
– The outside organizations are just as much entitled to respect and. consideration pf their views as we are. But when they lay down conditions which are intolerable to a member of this Senate, I shall give that as a reason for getting outside the party.
– That is exactly what has happened.
– But although there may be cases which make it appear
– Suppose that those* outside organizations had said to the honorable senator that he must advocate conscription, would he have done it?
– Who could have said it? /
– The organizations said the opposite. They said to men who. were convinced conscriptionists, “ You must not go out and advocate conscription.” Suppose that they had told the honorable senator that he must advocate conscription, what would he have done?
– Suppose that Joe Cook does not give the Government hia support? They cannot live.
– It is quiteeasy to suppose a case, of certain peopledoing a certain thing, but surely I should wait for actual occurrences before taking; action.
– The honorable senator knows that the question was put to members of this Parliament by outside* organizations.
– My league asked me what meetings I was going to address on the question of conscription, and I replied saying that I did not intend to address any meetings.
– I did the same thing. Yet they elected the honorablesenator as their leader, and gave me tha sack.
– I was asked for no further explanation until the campaign was over.
– The honorable senator is side-stepping the question. If the organizations had threatened with expulsion those who were anti-conscriptionists, would he have advocated conscription ?
– I wish to say that, as soon as ever the question of conscription arose, I did not hesitate to publish my views upon it. To follow the leagues on this occasion was merely to follow my own views. At the same time I confess that there were grave problems confronting me, which rendered my position an extremely difficult one, and I putin about two as unpleasant months as a.man could, in seriously considering it.
– But suppose that the leagues had said to the honorable’ senator, “We want conscription, and you must go out and support it.”
– If they had said that, they would have had my resignation immediately. I can safely assume that the outside political organizations which for twenty years have made the biggest success of a political movement’ which the world can show, are not going to ask questions of that kind. I venture to say that, while the common sense of the working classes prevails, while they are driven into corners by the lawyerlike classes in the community, you will find none of those things calculated to disrupt our movement. I have been led by interjections into speaking much longer than I had intended to do. As the mouth-piece of the party for the time being here, I desire to make it quite clear that there has been no change in the party because there has been a change in the leadership; that there has been no change because of the existing breach. It is the same party, with the same policy - a policy which, I venture to say, with its Commonwealth Bank, its Fleet, and its compulsory trainees, has enabled Australia, during the last two years, to go ahead so successfully as it has done. I hope the same policy will continue, and I know that the honorable senators who are following me on the present occasion will carry out those same proposals which have been given to us year after year by our Conference, but .which have generally crystallized the common sense of the working classes of Australia.
– In explanation, I am sorry that I was led into transgressing the Standing Orders during an interchange of remarks across the floor of the Senate, when a statement was made to the effect that in A meeting in another place Mr. Hughes had been asked for an explanation. I wish to be perfectly fair, both to my honorable friend who interjected and to myself. I will give as briefly as possible a detailed account of what happened. The first business of this particular meeting was the reading of the minutes. When the minutes had been read and adopted, Mr. Finlayson, the member for Brisbane, at once jumped up and moved a certain motion.
– No. V
– That statement is absolutely inaccurate.
– The Prime Minister was asked for a statement before that.
– If Senator Needham is so emphatic in his interjection again I shall have to apply a stronger term than I used on the last occasion.
– I repeat that the statement of the honorable senator is not accurate.
– Mr. Finlayson got up and moved his motion, and after a very few words, sat down. It was not until the motion had been under discussion for some time that a statement from Mr. Hughes was asked for.
– You are absolutely wrong there, for I asked him immediately the meeting began.
– Your minutes will prove what I say, all the same. You are not game to produce them.
– May I make a personal explanation, sir?
– The honorable senator may make a personal explanation; but, of course, there must be a limit to explanations which threaten to develop into a squabble between certain honorable senators.
– I have no inten-‘ tion to take part in a squabble, or in party action. I wish to reiterate that the statement which Senator de Largie has made about the party meeting is not accurate; that before Mr. Finlayson moved a certain motion, Mr. Hughes was asked whether he had a statement to make.
– Order! This is not a personal explanation with regard to anything concerning the honorable senator. It is a statement about something which took place with regard to Mr. Hughes, or somebody else. I cannot permit a statement of that kind to be made. If the honorable senator has been misrepresented, or if anything he has said has been perverted, he is entitled- to make a personal explanation.
– With reference to the reassertion of Senator de Largie, I simply wish to reiterate the statement I made by way of interjection.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [3.7]. - I hope that this little storm is over. It has been most interesting to listen to the addresses we have had concerning the Ministerial statement, ‘ and though those addresses have been confined to two honorable senators, still there was a good deal of electricity in the air during the course of their delivery. Senator Gardiner was at very great pains to let us into a number of secrets in connexion with the administration of the Government during the time he was in office. The most interesting part of his address related to the issue of the proclamation for home defence, which it is alleged was done in a peculiar way. I certainly agree with both Senator Millen and Senator Gardiner that it was a very great mistake to attempt in any way to prejudice the position of men who came to the poll to record their votes, either in one direction or the other. When a ballot of the people is about to be taken in regard to a great question, the less it is mixed up with other matters the more likely is it to get at the true judgment of the people. Had the ordinary course been adopted by the Government of considering these matters in Cabinet, where every Minister would have had an opportunity to express his opinion, we would not have had all this, discussion in regard to these particular regulations. So far as the Executive Council is concerned, the course of procedure is very simple. If the question of a departure from the ordinary policy of the country is raised, it should be determined by the Cabinet, and a minute should go to the Executive Council bearing the signature of the Minister whose Department is involved, or, if it is a matter of national importance, the signature of the Prime Minister. The function of the Executive Council is simply to record the determinations which have been arrived at by the Cabinet or by individual Ministers, and then there is no question of the disclosure of anything done in Executive Council. It is simply a question as to whether debates in Cabinet should be made known to the public. We find that there has been a break in the Labour party, and that a certain number of the Ministers have retired from the Hughes Administration, which was in existence when both Houses of Parliament were adjourned for the recent referendum. We have heard a great many disclosures which, perhaps, it would have been better, in the interests of all parties concerned, if they had not been made. While Senator Gardiner has taken to himself a great deal of credit for the position which he occupied, and the attitude which he took up in connexion with the anti-conscription campaign, there is one thing which he has not explained to the Senate yet, and that is why he remained a member of the Cabinet, though silent when it was exercising its power to induce the people to vote for a system of conscription to which he was directly opposed.
– It is quite impossible to explain it; it is unexplainable.
– The proper position for the honorable senator to have adopted at that moment was to get out of the Cabinet and let his colleagues go on; not to hang on to the Ministry, leading the public to understand that they were asked to vote on a matter of public policy approved by the Cabinet, although it *was one to which he himself was diametrically opposed. His eyes appeared to have been opened to the action of his colleagues long before he decided to retire. Time after time, during the recruiting campaign, he told the people that the voluntary system of recruiting was the only correct system - that it was getting all the men whom we required, and that he was not in favour of a system of compulsion. The possession of these views was made abundantly clear in every speech which he made to the electors. His proper course, I repeat, was to have retired from a Ministry which desired to fasten upon the community for the time being a principle to which he objected very strongly. We all realize that it was not a principle to be fastened upon the community for all time. It was only sought to be adopted to meet a very grave emergency which it was believed by a great many persons could not be met except by the adoption of compulsory service. If we were in that fix, why should not the country adopt a system of that kind? Our object all through ha3 been to assist the Empire to win the war, and at the earliest possible date–not at some remote period.
That would involve the destruction of thousands of lives which otherwise might have been saved, and the destruction of hundreds of thousands of pounds’ worth of property which might have been saved by putting a speedy end to the war. The issue was put to the people, and, rightly or wrongly, they came to a conclusion which we, under the Constitution, are bound to respect.. At the same time, I personally deplore the result of the referendum. I believe that the verdict might have been different had. certain circumstances which occurred from time to time been eliminated from the campaign. I realize that it is easy to be wise after the event. Senator Gardiner was very much concerned with regard to. the attitude of the Opposition to the Government at the present stage. I admit that, here, we are very few in number, and possibly our votes may not have very great weight or influence. It cannot, however, be made too clear that the Opposition do not depart one jot from the policy which they believe is the best in the interests of this country. But when it comes to a national question like the prosecution of the war, we feel that our duty, is to be behind any body of men who are working honestly, fairly, and conscientiously in trying to win the war in a speedy way. If we did otherwise, we would not be worthy of the position which we occupy in the public arena. It is the duty of every honorable senator to do all that lies in his power to assist” to bring the war to an end, and if any honorable senator can show any better means than the Government have adopted it is his duty to put it before the people. I am prepared to support the Government in all matters which I consider will help to end the war successfully, but I reserve the. right to criticise the proposals and methods of the Government whenever I see fit to do so. My criticism, however, when offered, will not be hostile, but will rather be that of a friend who desires to assist them in the very grave duties they are called upon to perform. It is true, as Senator Gardiner says, that the Government represent the smallest party numerically in both Houses. No doubt it is desirable at all times to have a Government with a fair working majority at their command on all matters of public policy, but we are faced witu the alternative of supporting that portion of the Labour party which has advocated the principle that we believe to be necessary in the interests of the country, or the other portion, which is entirely opposed to that principle. Our party is not sufficiently strong to rule in both. Houses. “We have, therefore, to accept the position as it stands, and are going to follow the men whose policy we consider to be best in the interests of the country in the present great national struggle. I hope the Government will not’ attempt to bring forward any of the Labour ideals which have been put before the country from time to time regarding matters of every-day concern. I. trust they will see that their duty is simply to do all they can to assist in carrying the war to a successful conclusion, and to provide adequate measures of taxation, combined with rigid economy, not only for war purposes, but for the interests of the country at large. If the Government do this, they may be very well satisfied that they will receive the support and approbation, not only in this chamber, but in the country, of the right-thinking portion of the community. One honorable senator behind me interjects that they will have to bring down their taxation proposals. It will be time enough to consider those when they come before us. I saw a forecast of them in the press, and, if that is correct, I think the Government can appeal with confidence to the people for fair support for their financial, policy. The proposals submitted by the previous Treasurer would have been absolutely ruinous to the object the Government desired to attain.
– They have been altered to suit your party.
– I do not believe anything of the kind . I could not accept several of the proposals as made by the late Treasurer, and I hope the Government will realize that they must consider the feelings and interests of the country at large. We want no spendthrift policy. The people areprepared to meet the emergency, and thosewith means are ready to put their hands; in their pockets and assist to the fullest possible extent to meet the necessities thathave arisen.
– At 4^ per cent., with exemption from State and Federal income tax.
– The honorable senator must remember that there are differences of opinion even on that matter, and that the ideas of those whose views are very much opposed to his may possibly bring in a much better revenue. We were told, before we went to the country on the referendum question, that the war was practically over, and that, as we were winning, there was no need to adopt any extrememeasures. Senator Findley quoted speeches made in the Old World, to which the lie has been given already by subsequent events. We are all proud of the power of our Empire, and believe that it will emerge -victorious, but we cannot be victorious in a war like this unless we strain every nerve to win the victory. We may have to spend a great many more valuable lives, and much more money, before that end can be attained, and our aim must be to attain it in the shortest possible time. Matters have not been progressing in a way which encourages ms to expect a speedy end to the struggle. The peace terms laid down by the Allies mean the humiliation of the Central Powers, which will make every effort to avoid being brought to their knees. We must prevent the possibility of an inconclusive peace. We want to be in a position to tell the people that they may be sure that there will not be such a bloody war again in the next fifty years; but, unless we are prepared to sacrifice ourselves to the fullest extent, we cannot hope to attain that end. If gigantic efforts are not made, all the warring nations will be bled white, and will have to cease fighting from exhaus-tion. The result will be that the nations we are fighting will do again what they have been trying to do since 1870 - build up a great army and navy to obtain the world-power which this time they have failed to secure. Unfortunately, the smaller nations that have joined in on our side have been in most cases practically wiped out. Servia and Belgium have to be rebuilt, while the Germans, although offering autonomy to Poland, make it a condition that troops must be provided by it to fight the Allies. Most of us thought, when Roumania, with her 600,000 troops, was brought into the war, that it would bring the end appreciably nearer, but up -to the present the Germans have proved too powerful. I hope that we shall drive them out of Roumania, but we shall never do so unless we cease frittering away our strength. We are called on to provide 16,500 troops a month. Senator Gardiner says we do not require that number; but how does he know ? Ministers get their advice from the Army Council at Home, which is the best -authority, and can have no object in exaggerating the necessities of the position. It knows that our population is small and sparse, and that we have great primary industries to carry on.
– Does England need 4,000,000 troops a year to reinforce 2,000,000?
– I am discussing what England requires from us to keep our Forces at the front up to strength. She has adopted a system by which every available man and woman is called on to assist, not only in keeping the Army up to its full strength, but in providing it with the necessary materiel.
– I had a letter from Flanders the other day, stating that there are hundreds of thousands of eligibles walking about England still.
– I doubt the correctness of the honorable senator’s information. It will probably be found that most of those are not eligible. Senator Gardiner quoted a return this afternoon, which showed that, amongst our own people, an enormous number have been rejected as unfit. In view of the information from the British Army Council, it is the duty of the Government to do their best to raise the number required to keep up our establishment at the front. We have not raised in any one month the number that we were told would be required. We are informed that a great fillip was given to enlistment for three or four months, but even during that time the full numbers were not secured, nor did we consider that it was necessary to secure them. It seems remarkable that we should want 16,500 a month to meet the wastage on 100.000 in the firing line, but that is the information we have from the best possible authority. Senator Gardiner will admit that, allowing for a wastage of 10 per cent., which is regarded as the average, it would be necessary to provide about 10,000 men per month. It is ridiculous to talk about 5 per cent, being sufficient. Moreover, men who have been in the trenches for a time require relief from their nerve-racking experiences, and if we sent sufficient to take their places, we should strengthen them, and make them more fit for their work. If we sent 16,500 to the front per month, we should probably be making our Forces actually better by 20,000 to 25,000 men. Senator ‘Gardiner attempted to belittle a great deal of what Senator Millen said with regard to submarine warfare, and quoted statistics to show the extent of shipbuilding in 1911, 1912, and 1913 - the three years prior to the war. We have not the particulars of British ships destroyed since the war began. Although fresh ships have been built, have as many been built since the war for mercantile purposes as were built in the three preceding years? Have we built as many as are necessary to make up for those destroyed? If there is an excessive amount of destruction, it is necessary to build many more ships than we did before in order to keep up our strength. The submarine warfare as at present conducted is a very serious menace to the Empire, for it is not now confined to the North Sea, the British Channel, and the Irish Channel, but it has been carried across the Atlantic to America, where submarines are now operating with a radius of 4,000, 5,000, or 6,000 miles. This kind of warfare might be further extended until ultimately it reached the coasts of Australia. In that event, where would Australia be if the Mother Country were destroyed ? Is it not much better that warfare in which Australia is so vitally interested should be conducted on the fields of Flanders and in the North Sea than upon our own shores? We must realize that we are portion of the Empire, and that no other portion can be injured without the effects being felt in Australia. If Great Britain lost in prestige, and had to surrender her command of the sea, what would be our position ? What would become of the ideals of members of the Labour party ? They have great ideals, and I have no doubt they believe them to be in the interests of humanity but I remind them that the attainment of those ideals will be impossible unless the Empire proves to be strong and all-powerful in this struggle. That being so, we should be ready in an emergency like this to do what ‘Mr. Fisher promised - we should be prepared to go to the last man and the last shilling to maintain the integrity of our great Empire. We have no alternative in order to protect ourselves and our Empire. Senator. Millen, I notice, was taken to task for being pessimistic in his views concerning the outlook; but on the other hand there are other men who are so optimistic as to mislead the people concerning the necessity to act with our utmost strength in this dangerous situation. While Senator Millen may have given expression to some views that we do not all indorse with regard to the present position, he was justified in pointing out the strength of Germany to-day, as a result of which the enemy are still in occupation of nearly all the territory on the west that they acquired in the early stages of the war. It is true Germany has been driven back to a limited extent, hut at what cost? If Great Britain had been prepared to accept the situation and not made strenuous efforts, the enemy would have been in a much stronger position to-day. But the Imperial Government called upon every man and woman of Great Britain to use every possible effort to enable victory to be attained. Are we to hang back, in these circumstances, especially when we have before us the example of the neighbouring Dominion of New Zealand, where the compulsory system of enlistment has been introduced ? Their men are just as good as ours. We are proud of our men and of all they have done, and surely we are not going to say that we are not prepared to help to the fullest possible extent?
– You are not in favour of the New Zealand policy for Australia, are you ?
– I am in favour of any policy that will raise sufficient troops for our requirements, and in the existing circumstances I am in favour of compulsory braining.
– But why do you not accept the verdict of the people in New South Wales?
– I believe that that verdict was not arrived at after the full and fair consideration of all the circumstances, because during that campaign opponents of the proposal magnified the possibilities concerning the arrival of 247 Maltese in Australia to such an extent that the people were grossly misled. If the arrival of 247 Maltese workers is going to take the work out of the hands of our own people, as was suggested during the referendum campaign, then all I have to say is - “ God help the workers of this country.”
– The honorable senator’s party during the campaign made enough noise to wake the dead, but they did not succeed in waking the peoples-
– Yes, I am aware that there was a good deal of noise in New South Wales, and I accept the verdict of the people, although I do not think it was a wise verdict in the circumstances. I assume, however, that the bulk of the people did what they thought was the best in the interests of the community, but I warn honorable senators of the Labour party that if they do not take care they will have within their ranks an element which will surely wreck them as a political -party, because men of anarchical ideas, who are prepared to destroy property and destroy the very fabric of society, are now gaining an undesirable influence in the party.
– But you believe in letting the wool rot on the sheep’s back.
– 1 am surprised that the . honorable senator should have alluded to an incident connected with the shearers’ trouble during which the leaders of the men said, “Well, if the country is going for conscription, you had better leave these sheep alone. Let the wool rot on their backs.” Why should not these men do their bit in defence of the country as well as those who have gone away voluntarily? I am surprised, I say again, that the honorable senator should attempt to use that as an argument in relation to this matter. I could quite understand it if the honorable senator were a disciple of the principles advocated in Direct Action, and favoured sabotage, but at present I cannot understand the reason for his reference to that incident.
– But was it not a barrister who introduced the “ go slow “ policy ? I think I have heard it said that barristers spar skilfully for another refresher.
– The honorable senator will find that lawyers and barristers are like other men. They are prepared to do their work, and they expect to get paid for it. During the campaign we heard also a rumour that the authorities were going to introduce Chinese and black labour in order to carry on the industries of this country if conscription were carried, and I am sorry that the people who looked to public men for light and leading found that during the campaign they were led into darkness.
– Do you approve of Mr. Hughes’ lies about the Maltese ?
– I am not aware of what the honorable senator is alluding to.
– I think you know.
– If the honorable senator wants to know if I approve of the censorship concerning the statement about Maltese being introduced, I say “No.” In matters of that kind it is far better to place all the facts in their true light before the people, for if that is not done, statements will filter through somehow and become grossly exaggerated. It is not my intention to speak further, but I want to put my position clearly before the Senate, as well as before the Ministry. I have said that whilst members of the Government are doing all they can to help the Empire in this war they will have my support, but I will reserve to myself the right, wherever I think it necessary, to indulge in criticism which will be directed in an entirely friendly manner towards the Government, and with a desire to help them in discharging the duties devolving upon them. That has been the policy of the Opposition since the commencement of the war. After all, we are only a handful of people. While we may differ strongly in our opinions we must remember that we are all living in one house, and if it catches fire it behoves all of us to do the best we can to put it out, notwithstanding the divergencies of opinion to which I have already referred.
Sena-tor Mullan. - You must admit that Mr. Cook has destroyed the first plank of his platform. .
.- -What was that?
– To get into office.
– It cannot be said that Mr. Cook has been made a catspaw of in order that the present occupants of the Ministerial benches may retain the reins of Government. I realize perfectly the difficulties of the situation, due to the tripartite grouping of members of a Parliament under which a Government in power with only a small number of followers may have to depend entirely upon outside support. It is a dangerous position, unquestionably, under which to govern any country, but if there ig one broad policy upon, which all can agree, as in the present circumstances, it is our duty to support the Government in discharging that duty. This Parliament, as we know, has not very long to live, and if honorable senators who have broken away from the Government want to get before the people at an early date they will have the opportunity. Then if they can win, and return with a majority, they will be entitled to office.
– Is this another policy pronouncement?
SenatorLt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - It is my own pronouncement. I do not speak on behalf of the Opposition, though as a member of it I. believe in the principles it is advocating, and am prepared to support them. I always reserve to myself the right of freedom of action, and I deny to any body inside or outside of Parliament the right to hold me in its pocket, and direct how I shall vote. I say that it is a public scandal and disgrace that the executives of the Political Labour Leagues should have taken it upon themselves to expel from their ranks some of their ablest men, and amongst them those who have been most instrumental in establishing their party. One would have thought that common gratitude would have urged them to adopt a different attitude.
– The honorable senator is going to impose the same pressure upon the Government now. They will have to do what he tells them.
– Nonsense. The Government will no doubt do what they consider best in the interests of the community. We certainly know that a number of honorable senators on the other side, and a number of those sitting on the right of the Speaker in another place, have had the manliness and courage to tell the Political Labour Leagues that they would hold by their convictions on the question of conscription, and refused (to be browbeaten. I should like to ascertain from some of those who spoke against conscription during the campaign how long they had been converted from the opposite view which we understood some of them to hold until the great organizations outside held up the stick and threatened that if they did not act in a certain way they would not be supported, that they would be expelled from their unions, and would be prevented from ever seeing the inside of Parliament again. I say that no member of Parliament should be placed in such a position as that.
– Was . the honorable senator appointed apologist for the Government ?
– I am not apologizing for the Government, but am pointing out that they had the courage to stand by their convictions. I realize that they may have made mistakes, but who does not make mistakes? I shall not detain honorable senators longer. I hope thatwe shall find that the sittings of this Parliament will be conducted harmoniously in the consideration of the great national questions involved in the defence of the Empire.
Debate (on motion by Senator de Largie) adjourned.
The following papers were presented : -
Compulsory Military Service :Return showing Cost of Referendum, Proclamation, &c.
Compulsory Military Service : Return, in detail, showing cost of calling up men in Australia for Home Defence under the War Service Proclamation.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– For a considerable number of months I have been trying to ascertain from the Government how the lands of the Commonwealth are held.
– Order. The honorable senator is not entitled to discuss that matter on this motion. He has a motion on the paper dealingwith the question, and he cannot anticipate its discussion.
– As a matter of . personal explanation, I might be allowed to say that I was promised that I would be given a reply to my questions in connexion with this matter shortly after Parliament resumed business. The reply has not yet been ‘furnished to me.
– I cannot help that. It is my duty to enforce the Standing Orders, and under them an honorable senator is not permitted to anticipate the discussion of a motion already on the business-paper. Senator Grant waa given an opportunity when to-day I proceeded to the placing of business to put his motion dealing with this question forward in the most favorable position for early discussion. He declined to take advantage of that opportunity, and. I cannot on the motion for the adjournment, permit him to initiate a discussion upon the question.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 3.52 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 1 December 1916, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1916/19161201_senate_6_80/>.