6th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator SHANNON presented a petition from 2,660 farmers in- the State of South Australia, praying that the provisions of the Federal wheat scheme should be amended in certain particulars..
– I desire to make a personal explanation. Honorable senators will remember that last week Senator O’ Keefe addressed to me a question which, sir, with your sanction” and approval, I endeavoured to answer. I notice that the matter has been presented through the press as if involving a conflict of veracity between the Prime Minister and myself. I thought that I had made it clear - I wish to do so now - that no such conflict exists. My statement then was quite clear, in spite of what the press has published - that I accepted the Prime Minister’s statement without any reservation. His statement was that certain regulations had not been issued. That, sir, is a simple fact. The regulations were not issued, and not gazetted. My statement had no reference to the issue of the regulations. It was a statement that instructions - not the regulations - had been issued. I only wish to say, in order to clear this away, that again I accept fully, without any reservation, the Prime Minister’s statement on that point.
– Could instructions have been issued without the regulations?
– They were issued.
– In anticipation.
– Has the Assistant Minister yet received any reply to my question as to whether prosecutions were instituted against certain people in Tasmania in connexion with the disturbances of public meetings ?
– The reply reads as follows : -
No action was taken by the Commonwealth authorities. The Commonwealth is not concerned with any action which may have been taken under the State law.
The following papers were presented: -
Australian Soldiers,’ Repatriation Fund Act 1916. - Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1916, No. 288.
Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act 1905. - Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1916, No. 292.
Public Service Act 1902-1916- Promotion of W. H. Gibson, Postmaster-General’s Department.
The WarAllied Territories in occupation of enemy : Correspondence respecting relief. - Paper presented to British Parliament.
War Census : Progress Return -showing the number and Unimproved value of Freehold Estates in the Commonwealth on 30th June, 1915.
– asked ohe Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice - ]. What firm in Launceston, Tasmania, was appointed as agent for the Commonwealth Government for the purchase of wolfram?
– The answers are -
– Arising out of that question, sir-
– Order ! I desire to again call the attention of the Senate to the fact that honorable senators are continuing to disobey my ruling not to make statements in asking questions. Paragraph 6 of this question is a distinct breach of that ruling, and, only that it escaped my notice, I would not have allowed it to appear in that form on the notice-paper. It asks, “ What action ia the Government taking against this firm for breaking the law ?” There a distinct allegation, is made, under cover of asking a question, that a firm has broken the law. That is a most improper thing t» do, and I hope that honorable senators will obey the ruling which I have given, namely, that questions can only be asked for the purpose of obtaining information, and must not contain insinuations, statements, or comments.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The following answers are supplied by the Prime Minister : -
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice-
– These questions have been referred to the AttorneyGeneral, who has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Minister for Works, upon notice -
– The answers are -
A map giving this and other information in regard to the railway has been on exhibition in the Queen’s Hall for the last few days.
Referendum: Raid on Premises - Messages from Lieut. Jacka, V.C.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice-
– The answers are -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
The Age, Melbourne - “ Mr. Adam McCay, publicity secretary, National Referendum Council, stated last night that Lieutenant Jacka, V.C, sent a cable message in the terms which were published in the Age of Thursday -
Anzacs demand to be reinforced. Trust Australia will not leave us in the lurch. Strong regiments mean light losses.’ “
The Examiner, Launceston - “Now read what Lieutenant Jacka, V.C, says -
Anzacs demand to be reinforced. Trust Australia will not leave us in the lurch. I don’t think any decent man will vote No.’”?
– The answers supplied by the Prime Minister are as follow: -
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
In the event of an Australian soldier at the front answering the call of the British military authorities to undertake special service necessitating his being transferred from the A.I.F. unit to the British unit,’ will that involve the forfeiture of the pay previously received by him as an Australian private for the pay usually made to a private in the British Army ?
– The answer is: -
In connexion with members of the Australian Imperial Force who are loaned to the Imperial Government for service in the Imperial Army, or on the other hand members of the Imperial Army who are made available for service with the Australian Imperial Force, it has been arranged between the Commonwealth and Imperial .authorities that such members shall continue to be paid by and under the regulations of the Government to which they belong. Should a member of the Australian Imperial Force, however, obtain his discharge from the Australian Imperial Force in order to join the Imperial Army, he would be paid at the rates provided for the latter, but such discharges are only granted in exceptional circumstances, and then only when it is in the interests of the service.
– Arising out of that answer, I ask the Minister whether in the event of the British Government asking Australian, volunteers to join any corps connected with the British Army they will first have to resign from ‘ the Australian Imperial Force.?
– I cannot believe that there ever will be such cases. The British Government would not ask one of our soldiers to leave the Australian Army in order to join the British Forces without first obtaining the consent of the Commonwealth Government. All such cases are first of all represented to the Commonwealth Government, whose consent having been obtained, the soldier is permitted to take his discharge, and to join the Imperial Army. On the other hand, there have been cases in which the British Government have applied for the loan of the services of Australian soldiers, and in such circumstances the latter receive the Australian rates of Pay. But where a soldier relinquishes his connexion with the Australian Army and joins the British Army he receives only the British rates of pay.
– But a soldier can serve in the British Army without first being discharged from the Australian Forces ?
– With the consent of the Commonwealth Government, -‘ Yes.”
– In moving -
That Statutory Rule 273 of 1916, under tha War Precautions Act 1914-16, be disallowed,
I wish to say that one could entertain no reasonable objection to this particular rule-
– I rise to a point of order. This statutory . rule has not yet been laid on the table of the Senate, and under the Acts Interpretation Act the power of disallowing any such rule is given to either House of Parliament in these words : -
But if either House of Parliament passes a resolution of which notice hus been given at any time within fifteen sitting days after such regulations have been laid before such House disallowing any regulation, such regulation shall thereupon cease to have effect.
Notice of motion to disallow this regulation was given on Friday, 1st December. Upon that date the regulation itself had not been laid upon the table of the Senate.
– Has the Minister tabled it to-day ?
– I have not. The Government have thirty days within which to lay a regulation on the table of the Senate, and there are very good reasons for that rule. I therefore ask whether a motion can be proceeded with that is opposed to the terms of the law which deliberately sets out that such disallowance can take place only within fourteen days after the regulation has been laid on the table of the Senate.
– Is it the intention of the Government to lay it on the table ?
– It must be laid on the table.
– There are lots of things which must be done, but which apparently are not done.
– Unless the regulation be laid upon the table within the number of days specified in the Acts Interpretation Act it would become null and void.
– But what about the War Precautions Act?
– The War Precautions Act is no different from any other Act. The regulation must be laid upon the table within thirty sitting days after the Senate meets.
– Whilst admitting the force of the point raised by Senator
Pearce, which, after all, simply goes to indicate the neglect of the Government in denying to Parliament the right to challenge the regulation at the earliest possible moment, I wish to raise another point. Section 10 of the Acts Interpretation Act of 1904 provides that -
Where an Act confers power to make regulations, all regulations made accordingly shall, unless the contrary intention appears -
be laid before both Houses of the Parliament within thirty days of the making thereof, or if the Parliament is not then sitting, within thirty days after the next meeting of the Parliament.
The regulation was made on the 3rd November, and the point I would ask you, sir, to determine is whether, although there was an adjournment, Parliament has not been sitting all the time)
– Does it not say “ thirty sitting days “ ?
– No. In each case the Act simply says “ within thirty days,” but in the proviso which follows “ fifteen sitting days “ are referred to. My point is that Parliament has really been in session, and that without any resolution of the Senate the regulation is void, seeing that it was not laid on the table within thirty days of their making.
– Before dealing with the point of order raised by the Minister for Defence, I shall deal with the point raised by Senator Mullan, that Parliament has been continuously sitting, that the regulation should have been tabled before, and that, as it has not been tabled, it is null and void. That may or may not be so, but it is no part of my jurisdiction as President to compel the Government to table regulations, nor am I called on to decide whether the point raised by Senator Mullan is valid. If it is valid, the regulation is already null and void without any specific motion on the honorable senator’s part. The point of order raised by the Minister for Defence must be sustained, because the Acts Interpretation Act, as quoted by the Minister, simply provides that regulations must be tabled within a certain time if they are to have the force of law, and specifies the time within which this or the other House may deal with them after they are tabled. The first condition has not been complied with, and., therefore, the right of the Senate to interfere has not yet arisen, although, if the regulation is to be pro ceeded with, it must eventually arise. I am bound- by the Standing Orders and by the Act of Parliament which governs the situation, and, as the conditions have not been fulfilled, and the regulation has not been tabled, the Senate has no proper cognisance of it. I therefore rule that the motion cannot be proceeded with.
Motion (by Senator Mullan) proposed -
That Statutory Rule No. 240 of 1916, under the Defence Act 1903-15, and the War Precautions Act 1914-16, be disallowed.
– I must sustain the point of order. It would be an obvious waste of time to move to disallow something which is already repealed.
– Will you allow me to speak before you give your ruling?
– If the honorable senator had risen before I began I should have heard him, but I cannot allow him to interrupt me in the middle of my ruling.
– I desire to make a. personal explanation.
– I do not intend to abridge the right of any honorable senator to make an explanation, but I should not be interrupted half-way through my ruling. Any honorable senator who desires to make an explanation may do so afterwards, or if he considers that my ruling is not a proper one, he will be at liberty to move that it be disagreed with. It is obvious that a thing that does not exist cannot be disallowed. I have here a copy of a regulation made -to-day disallowing the regulation referred to in the motion, and also a copy of the Government Gazette containing that notification. The object which Senator Mullan has in view has, therefore, been already accomplished.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. I should be allowed, in justice to myself, to refer to this act of political legerdemain on the part of the Government.
– I rise to order. The honorable senator is making a personal explanation without the consent of the Senate.
– Is it the pleasure of the Senate that Senator Mullan have leave to make a personal explanation?
– Lest honorable senators should think that I was doing something unfair to them in moving to disallow a regulation which had been already repealed, I wish to explain that as late as noon to-day I made inquiries in the proper quarters to ascertain if this regulation had been in any way vetoed by the Government, and received an assurance that it had not. The Government have come down at the last moment with a new regulation, and I am delighted that they have acquiesced in our desires.
– It is the end of their persecutions, anyhow.
Debate resumed from 1st December (vide page 9354), on motion by Senator Pearce -
That the paper be printed.
– In the debate, so far, there has not been the amount of attention given to the war that one would like. I hope that as the debate proceeds more attention will be directed to the war itself, and less to the trivialities that have been occupying the attention of the Senate hitherto. It has been said that an onlooker sees more of the game than those who take part in it, and as I have had somewhat unusual opportunities lately to see the great tragedy being enacted on the other side of the world, I wish to confine myself as much as possible to my experiences, and to do something to direct the discussion into a profitable channel. Tt is scarcely necessary for me to say that I was absent from the Senate while the Referendum Bill was under consideration. For the first time during my career as a member of this Senate, I was unable to take part in an important debate.
– But that has not saved you.
– When we left Australia, the political outlook here was not overcast, and the Government was conducting the war in a satisfactory manner. Even the Opposition had no complaints. When we reached South Africa, I realized the great difficulties under which that country was labouring, and of which we really know so little in Australia. Later on, when we travelled through Canada, we were able to appreciate the peculiar difficulties confronting that country, which, together with South Africa, has recently been criticised for its attitude towards recruiting for the war. As the result of our visit, we have good reason for congratulation that Australia, at an early stage in its history, determined upon a White Australia policy, and that, as a consequence, we have not here any of those grave racial troubles that exist, for instance, in South Africa, where, also, the influence of the Boer war is still felt. The elder generation of Boer citizens to-day are not very enthusiastic about the war. We all remember that, shortly after the conflict started, a rebellion occurred in South Africa, but, happily, it was suppressed by General Botha, who has proved himself to be one of the most loyal and capable statesmen of the Empire.
– One of the greatest men of our generation.
– Yes, I agree that General Botha is one of the greatest men discovered by the war. During my stay in Cape Town I had an opportunity to listen to a debate in the Union Parliament, and I was surprised to hear a Boer member of that Legislature - a former parson of the Dutch Reformed Church - speak in such a manner as to throw every obstacle he possibly could in the way of Government assistance to Great Britain. He was pointing out that Germany was no enemy of the Boer people, and that, instead of South Africans going from the Union to fight against Germany in East and West Africa, it would be better for them to stay at home and mind their own business. The millions of pounds that South Africa had already spent in the war, he declared, would have been much better employed in the development of their local industries. Then there is that other aspect of the problem confronting South Africa - I refer to its enormous coloured population. Johannesburg, Kimberley, Durban, and Cape Town, appear to be full of coloured people. I do not wish, however, to convey the impression that the disloyal element in South Africa is represented by a large section of the Bon* population, because I know that a considerable proportion of the Boer citizens of that country are doing all in their power to help Great Britain in this great struggle.
– I understand the blacks are now being employed to do wharf labourers’ work in England. That statement appeared in the press, at any rate.
– It was denied.
– I think I read in the cable news to-day that Mr. Asquith, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, had said that up to the present there was no truth in the statement, and it is probable that this is only another mare’s nest, similar to the statement with regard to the Maltese coming to Australia. I cannot leave this part of the subject without referring to the fact that the Australian parliamentary delegates visiting South Africa received cordial hospitality and every consideration. The overwhelming majority of the members of the Union Parliament of South Africa are doing everything possible to successfully prosecute the war. Now as to the position in Canada. We have to remember that geographically Canada occupies a very different position from that occupied by Australia. Canada has a frontier line extending for 3,000 miles between her and the United States of America in which the number of Germans is nearly double the total population of Canada. It is easy, therefore, to understand that the menace of this open frontier has had an important effect upon the efforts which Canada has been able to make for the prosecution of the war. The Canadian people have had before them the constant fear of a raid from over the United States border. Such raids have several times occurred in the history of the country, and this fact has constituted a difficulty with which the Canadian Government has had to contend that does not confront us in Australia. Again, in Canada the efforts which it has been possible to make for the prosecution of the war have been influenced by a racial question as they have been in South Africa, though from different reasons and operating in a different way.- Nearly the whole of lower Canada may be said to be peopled by French Canadians, of whom there are nearly 3,000,000 in the Dominion. Until the circumstances are examined it may be difficult to believe that as a matter of fact the French
Canadians are intensely loyal to Great Britain. They are on the other hand on anything but friendly terms with the French Republic. In order to understand this it is necessary to go back to the date cf the Treaty which followed the battle of Quebec, in which the French were defeated by the British, and Canada became a British colony. At that time, which was prior to the French Revolution, the French peasants settled in Canada, who depended for their protection upon the aristocratic military class under a system something like the feudal system in England, felt that they were deserted by their natural protectors and abandoned by their mother country, France. The result was that for generations a great coldness existed between the French people in Canada and the people of France. In more recent years the soreness on the part of French Canadians towards the French Republic has been intensified by difficulties arising between Church and ,State in France. Some years ago the Government of the day in France expelled quite a number of priests and nuns, many of whom went to Canada.. Their expulsion from France increased this feeling of soreness against the Republic on the part of the French Canadians, who are an intensely religious people. I know of no new country in which the people are animated by such strong religious sentiments as are the French Canadians. The expulsion of the priests and nuns led to such an intensification of the old grievance of French Canadians against France that many of those whom I met went the length of saying that so far as France is concerned the present war has been sent by God as a punishment for the persecution of Mother Church by the French Republic. In view of these circumstances the Canadian Government could not expect to get a great many recruits from the French section of the population. They only recruited some 32,000 from the French population of nearly 3,000,000. I believe that the French Canadians are as loyal to Great Britain as are any other people of the Empire, and if France were not concerned in the war a great many more recruits would have been obtained from amongst the French population in Canada. These are important difficulties which have not had to be faced in Australia. Thank God, we have no racial difficulties here. Our differences are those of political parties. We are a more united people than are the people of either South Africa or Canada, and I think I may say that we are the most British people of the oversea Dominions of the Empire.
– And yet Australia is the first part of the British Empire to cry “ Go.”
– Bearing upon the honorable senator’s interjection, I may say that I grew quite accustomed in the. Old Country to hear Australia and the Australians referred to with enthusiasm, and I know that they have gained the good will and popularity of the people there. I am afraid that if I went back to Great Britain to-day I should not find the popularity quite so evident as it was during the few months I was there. For -some time Australia was rather neglected in the Old Country because of lack of knowledge on the part of the people of Great Britain, but I think I may say that she has never been so well and favorably known in the “United Kingdom as she is at the present time. I should be sorry to think that anything could occur which would interfere with her present popularity there. Wherever we went in the Old Country we heard nothing but good about Australia and Australians. I know that at functions at which representatives of the other Dominions were present I used to feel somewhat embarrassed on hearing all the praise given to Australians. This was a sort of reflected glory which the delegates from Australia had gained because of the action of our boys in Flanders, and also in Turkey.
– You have to leave home to hear any good about yourself.
– I must confess that that remark is perfectly true. I had to come back to Australia to hear all the nasty things said of it, and I hope that we shall be able to get back to that much more pleasant position we were in a few months ago in the opinion of our Allies. IE was not only in Canada, South Africa, and Great Britain, that I heard these praises sung, but also in France. The French people know Australia to-day as they had never known it previously. Wherever I went in that country I heard nothing but the highest praise showered upon the heads of our boys at the front, and on Australian people in general. Every credit was given to them for what they were doing in the war. I hope that, as the outcome of this debate, we shall be able to formulate a scheme or policy which will bring us back to the favorable position we” were in before. I would like to say here that the people of Great Britain before the war, and for some time after, were much more . opposed to the military system of conscription in that country than we in Australia were. Those who helped to pass our first Defence Bill will remember that, to some extent, we favoured conscription. How far that went may be a matter of dispute, but I think that for twelve or thirteen years every person who understood the Defence Act of the Commonwealth recognised that we had put our approval on conscription, at all events “for defence within its boundaries.
– And the Labour party claim the whole credit of instituting the system.
– That is perfectly true. In Australia, the Labour party had gone a considerable way to approve of compulsory service, and we certainly had put on the statute-book the principle of compulsory training, and that principle was on the platform of the Labour party. Whilst the people of Great Britain had been closely pledged for generations to the principle of voluntary enlistment for the defence of the country, and whilst we in Australia had, to a certain extent, approved of the principle of_ conscription, I found, when in the Old Land, that there was le.ss objection to conscription in Great Britain than there was in Australia. That may seem a very strange thing, but it is a notorious fact; as events have shown.
– Before the referendum was- taken, one would think that nine out of every ten persons in Australia were in favour of conscription.
– I thought some years ago that the people of Great Britain would never depart from the voluntary principle of defence. It was force of circumstances which made Great Britain change her view. She had tried the voluntary system, and it had proved a miserable failure, so that the authorities had no option than to get an army in the way in which every other nation up to the present time could get an army, and that is by making every able-bodied citizen do his bit towards the defence of the country. Whilst
I was in the Old Land I took an opportunity to investigate how the .principle of conscription was working out, believing that, possibly, it would be introduced into Australia before ‘very long. Remembering how far we had gone along the conscription road, I never dreamt that any great opposition would be’ offered to a proposal of that kind. I was therefore an interested investigator in examining how the system of conscription was working out in the land of voluntarism and Manchesterism in general. Wherever I made inquiries - whether it was from a Labour member at Westminster or from the secretary or president of a trade union, or from my old workmates in my native town - I found an almost unanimous approval of the conscription principle for running the country in time of war. The only limitation which was applied to the principle was that it was to operate only while the war was being carried on. They declared that as soon as the war was finished many of the conscription laws should cease to operate. It must be borne in mind that these laws apply to industries as well as to the army. It is a very comprehensive set of conscription laws which Great Britain is working under at the present time. It’ is not only the soldiers who are working under direct Government officers, because we find the conscription laws applying to industrial efforts in that country. Wherever I went in” England and Scotland - whether I went to Hyde Park public meetings or to that great rallying place known as Glasgow Green - I heard nothing but approval of the conscription system. That, I can assure honorable senators, was an eye opener to me, who had been trained to the opposite belief. I could scarcely realize that I was in the same country in which I was reared. I am sorry that the conscription campaign in Australia was over before I returned, because I feel that if these facts regarding the working of conscription abroad had been properly known and understood here a great deal of the misconception would have been removed.- However, that is a matter of the past, and we can only feel sorry that the people of Australia did not understand the bearings of the question better; if they had I do not believe that they would have voted as they did.
– There is some conflict of opinion amongst the delegates themselves.
– As far as the satisfactory working of conscription in Great Britain is concerned, I do not think that there is any conflict of opinion amongst the delegates. Of course, we differ as to whether we should or should not adopt it in Australia; and for that matter there was a difference of opinion amongst the twelve apostles. When I find the most extreme Labour agitators, such as Tillett and Blatchford, enthusiastic advocates of conscription in the Old Country, I am quite satisfied to be guided by their opinion, especially as Mr. Tillett is secretary of one of the biggest unions in Great Britain, and Mr. Blatchford is the editor of a well-known Socialist newspaper. In Australia the Labour party is pledged to give support to the prosecution of the war as no other party has ever been pledged.
– And no party has done more in that direction than the Labour party.
– We know that by the utterances of Mr. Fisher the Labour party was pledged to the last man and the last shilling, and I think that we are a long way from having reached that stage. To my mind there is a considerable amount of repudiation of that promise as indicated by the attitude of some honorable senators sitting on the Opposition side.
– We certainly did not pledge ourselves to any violence.
– The only people who I know advocate violence are the members of the I.W.W.
– And the conscriptionists.
– Let me point out here that the conscriptionists of Great Britain recognised that it ‘ was for service ‘ abroad .when they gave their consent to the adoption of the principle. If the conscription policy confined the troops to Great Britain instead of extending to France and following the enemy wherever he could be found, it would be the height of foolishness and ridiculousness. A man who says that he believes in defending his country at home instead of going abroad to defend it is talking foolishly. If he would prefer to bring all the horrors of war into his own country before he would fight abroad, he is not fit to be in uniform. There is only one place he ia fit for, and that is a lunatic asylum.
If ever there were a shallow, miserable excuse offered - a mere apology for an excuse - it is that men are against conscription for service abroad whilst pretending they favoured conscription for home defence. I am sure that no person is deceived by an excuse of that kind. Some honorable senators of the Opposition are declaring that, although they are of military age and fit to go to the front, they do not intend to go or do anything by advice or otherwise to get others to enlist. If that is not repudiation of the election promise on which those gentlemen to a great extent were elected, I do not know what faith one can put in election promises. We know that in 1914 the Labour members were elected on statements made by Mr. Fisher and published all over Australia. A colleague from the same State has made an utterance quite recently that he, though fit and of military age, is not going to the front. If that is not repudiation, what is it? It is a disgraceful state of affairs for any man to be elected on a war policy, and after two years of fighting and after some 300,000 men of his country have gone to the front, to turn round and say that he will not help the nation. Having seen some of the actual fighting in France, having seen some of our boys after a very severe battle was fought, come to the nearest dressing station, 1 say that such an Australian is a heartless creature and ought not to he in the National Parliament. Some persons have insinuated that if the details ofthe voting were made known it would be shown that the oversea soldiers had voted against conscription. I do not believe that our soldiers voted against conscription; it is most improbable that they did so, because to do so would be to vote against help that is much needed at the front. Knowing that some portion of the front has not budged an inch in two years’’ fighting - I refer to that part of the front which is about 70 miles from Paris - can any reasonable person say that no help is required? Can any man with a knowledge of the position in Belgium, where the whole of the country is still in the hands of the enemy, just as it was two years ago, imagine for a mom«nt that there is no need for all the assistance which the
Allies can render? I am as proud as any man of what Australia has done in this war. In proportion to population, perhaps no country amongst the Allies has done more, but that is not a reason why we should not do our utmost. Is the making of miserable comparisons between the number of men who have gone from South Africa or Canada, and the number who have gone from Australia, the patriotic way of conducting the war? Is success to be secured in that way? I hope we shall direct our attention to the necessity of putting forth our greatest efforts towards a successful prosecution of the war. We have had enough fuss in this chamber over an alleged regulation, about which nobody seems to be very sure, as if it were themost important thing connected with the conduct of the war. Need I remind honorable senators that all that that regulation would have accomplished would have . been the exposure of a number of shirkers who desired to exercise their citizen privileges without shouldering their citizen obligations. I hold that any man who refuses to obey the laws of this country has no proper claim to exercise the franchise. If the regulation about which so much has been said had been put into operation, I do not know that very much harm would have resulted. Yet Senator Gardiner, on Friday last, devoted two hours of his speech to an attempt to bolster up the case of these shirkers who had defied the law of the Commonwealth. I hope that these miserable excuses will be brushed on one side, and that we shall all do our utmost to assist in bringing the present - disastrous war to a triumphant conclusion. During this struggle Australia has gained more glories than has any other nation. Trior to Anzac we had. no separate war history or traditions. It is a well-known figure of speech that if the map of the world were painted red in order to . indicate the countries in which war has taken place, almost every country except Australia would be coloured red. With our brief history of war, no country in the world has secured greater fame. We should be careful, therefore, to see that the exploits of our troops in the future redound as much- to their credit as did the deeds of our brave Anzacs. I hope that we shall hear nothing more of the miserable regulation to which, repeated reference has been made, and that a more patriotic tone will pervade this debate. ^
.- I desire to congratulate Senator de- Largie upon the interesting address which he has just delivered on his travels abroad. In discussing this motion, it is my intention to review a few of the incidents that transpired during the time that he was absent from the Commonwealth. As the present may he the only opportunity I shall have during the present year of placing my position fully and freely before those who are responsible for my political existence, I intend to avail myself of it. In regard to the recent campaign - the campaign initiated by the passing of a Referendum Bill, submitting to the people the question of whether or not they were in favour of compulsory service overseas - I desire to make it plain that from the very inception of that movement I made my attitude perfectly clear. In this chamber I took the stand that I would support the Referendum Bill - that is to say, the reference to the people of the question of whether or not the manhood of Australia should be compelled to go overseas to fight for the Empire. In supporting that Bill, I said that I did so because I had no mandate from my electors to say “Tes” or “No” on that question. I had no mandate from them to say whether or not the people should determine such a vital question.
– The honorable senator has a good, emphatic endorsement now.
– I admit that, but it does not in any way affect my opinion. In spite of tike emphatic verdict of the State which I have the honour to represent, I would adopt a similar attitude to-morrow if the same question were before the people. Whilst I had no mandate from my electors on the question, I knew that I had no mandate to prevent them determining it for themselves. They have determined it, and they have done so very emphatically. When the Referendum Bill was before this Parliament I also said that as soon as I could get to Western Australia I would oppose compulsory military service overseas. I did so. Since then a split has occurred in the Labour party to which I propose to refer.- It has been affirmed outside that the Prime Minister, when leader of that party, was not afforded an opportunity of putting his case prior to a certain motion being submitted. I say that that is not correct. He was given that opportunity, and in proof of my statement I desire to say that I asked him if he would follow the custom that had been invariably followed by other leaders of the party. I have sat under the leadership of Mr. Watson, of the Right Honorable Andrew Fisher, and of the present Prime Minister, and I say that it has been the invariable practice for the leader of the party, at the first Caucus meeting after a recess, to make a statement to the members of the party regarding what had transpired during the recess. I asked Mr. Hughes if he would make a similar statement, and he said “No.”
– Where did this take place?
– At a meeting of the Labour party on the 14th November, 1916.
– Otherwise a Caucus meeting ?
– Undoubtedly. As every political party in Australia has a Caucus, we need not be afraid to confess that the incidents to which I have referred took place at a Caucus of the Labour party. I am not giving away any of the secrets of the Caucus, because Mr. Hughes himself made a statement to the press regarding what had occurred there, and those of us who remained in the room after he left it issued a statement combating his. Shortly after the Prime Minister returned from Great Britain there was a meeting of the Australian Labour party, which extended over the better part of five days, and at which the policy of the Government, so far as supplying reinforcements are concerned, wag fully discussed. When the Referendum Bill was about to be submitted to this Parliament, I asked the Prime Minister whether the members of the Labour party would be free to support or oppose the measure either on the floor of the legislative chambers or outside of them. He replied that they would. I further asked him if the members of his own Cabinet would .enjoy the same freedom, and he replied “ Yes.” Time went on, and Mr. Tudor, who was then Minister for Customs, resigned his portfolio. At another meeting of the party, shortly after, Senator Russell - I am sorry he is not presents - asked what his position -was, and was informed by the Prime Minister that if he opposed the referendum proposal on the public platform he would have to do what Mr. Tudor did - resign. These are facts which cannot be denied. I am making that statement now, and taking the full responsibility for making it. Despite the Prime Minister’s statement that we were free to support or oppose the referendum question on the public platform, I found, on my arrival in Kalgoorlie, about 17th or 18th October, that, according to the local papers, the Prime Minister had dubbed those of us who were opposing his proposals “ I.W.W.-ites.” I suppose that meant that those of us who were opposing his proposals were in league with the Industrial -Workers of the World. I noted that statement, and, at every meeting I addressed in Western Australia, I pointed out that I never had any association with the Industrial Workers “of the World. It is most remarkable that the leader who told us we were free to oppose or support his proposals, when he found himself opposed by thirty-four members of his own part/, resorted to the tactics of describing us as “I.W.W.-ites.” I have nothing to do with the Industrial Workers of the World, never had, and never will have. I made these statements on the public platforms of Western Australia, but, strange to say, they were never reported in the Western Australian press. During the campaign, however, I proved the value of that part of our electoral law which compels the writer of every article and letter published in the press, from the issue until the return of the writ, and dealing with the subject before the people, to sign his name. I made a speech in Kalgoorlie on the night of Saturday, 21st October. On the Sunday morning I saw in- the Sunday Sun a paragraph, signed by the editor of the paper, practically bearing out the Prime Minister’s statement that I was in league with the Industrial Workers of the World. Before leaving Kalgoorlie next day I called at that gentleman’s office. He was not there, but the accountant took a statement from me in his absence. I asked that an apology should be published, and the statement contradicted, or otherwise legal proceedings would have to be taken. Needless to say, my request was complied with ; but had it not been for our electoral law, I should not have known who wrote the paragraph. That is one advantage of that law, which I hope will always remain. By no stretch of the imagination can I agree with Senator de Largie’s description of the regulation about the ballot-box as “trivial.”
– What is its peculiar viciousness ?
– It was an interference with the secrecy of the ballot that should never have been attempted.
– Was it not only a possible laying aside of certain votes - a proceeding already provided for in the Act?
– But these were to be marked “ Proclamation.” Why should there have been any necessity to question any elector going to the ballotbox?
– Because certain scoundrels disobeyed the law of their country in time of war.
– Is not the honorable senator aware that there was on the statute-book another Act providing ali the machinery necessary to deal with the people whom he calls scoundrels ?
– Not as directly and efficiently.
– Absolutely as directly, and it has been acted on since. The Defence Act provides all the machinery to deal with these delinquents, as I call them, for I do not re-echo the term “scoundrels” used by my honorable friend. I am not here to uphold any man who breaks the law. Immediately after the proclamation was issued on 29th September calling up all men between the ages of twenty-one and thirty-five, several young men asked me what they were to do, and my reply always was, “ Obey the law.” Whether a member of Parliament or back at my own avocation, 1 would never encourage any citizen to break any law of the Commonwealth, or the State in which I live; but I deprecate the attempt by any man, be he Prime Minister or peasant, to intimidate citizens when about to register their vote; at the ballot-box on a referendum or any other question. There might have beer some excuse for this attempted interference with the ballot-box if there had been no other machinery in existence to bring these men to book; but since then several prosecutions have been instituted, and several sentences passed as the result of the machinery of the Defence Department, and not through the agency of the regulation which the Prime Minister says was never issued. Strange to’ say, it was acted upon. I am not. going to doubt the Prime Minister’s veracity, but on 28th October I read in the West Australian a report that Senators Gardiner and Russell and Mr. Higgs had resigned from the Cabinet on account of the regulation being put before the Executive Council, and that certain things had happened between them and the Prime Minister. Following immediately on that statementwas a paragraph stating that subsequent to that telegram being received the Federal authorities in Western Australia had been instructed that the regulation was cancelled. Just as you, sir, ruled this afternoon that an- honorable senator could not move to disallow a regulation that was not in existence, it having been cancelled fey an Executive minute laid on the table by the Leader of the Senate, so the Federal officers could not strictly be instructed that a certain thing was cancelled if it had not been in existence. I believe there are honorable senators present who can prove that the instruction was acted on in some parts of Australia, and that in some cases the ballot-papers were marked “ Proclamation.” Those papers would have been reserved for the Government to determine whether or not the votes should be allowed.
– And probably to reveal them to the public.
– At any rate, they were to be left in the hands of the Government to decide whether or not they should be allowed. That was the intention of the regulation. No honorable senator in a country such as this could justify any such action by any Government-Labour or Liberal. If the Prime Minister and his Government- have done nothing else, they have at least caused a great amount of suspicion in the mind of every man who believes in the government being carried on as it ought to be in a country like Australia. Senator de Largie referred this afternoon to the question of the Maltese coming to this country..
– He said they were a mare’s nest-
– There is no mare’s, nest about them. When the first lot arrived in Fremantle - speaking from memory - somewhere about August, I received a telegram from the Honorable James Cornell1, M.L.C., then acting general secretary of the State Executive of the Australian Labour Federation in Perth, informing me that a number of Maltese had arrived, and asking me to make inquiries as to whether they were coming out properly or not. I sent the telegram on to the Prime Minister, asking if the men were coming out under contract, and also . approached Mr. Mahon, the then Minister for External Affairs, on the same point. Mr. Mahon informed me that he had no knowledge of where the Maltese were coming from, who sent them out, or anything about the matter. He said that he would get in touch with the Imperial authorities, and if he found that the Maltese were coming to Australia as described, he would see that the education test was applied to them as it is to Asiatics. I asked Mr. Mahon if I had his authority to publish that statement, and he replied in the affirmative, so I sent it on to Mr. Cornell, and I believe it appeared in the papers of Western Australia. At all events, a similar statement was published in the press of this State, on the authority of the then Minister for External Affairs. A little later on I received a letter from the Prime Minister, stating that the Maltese referred to were not coming out under contract. I forwarded that letter on to Mr. Cornell, also, in his capacity as acting general secretary of the State Labour Executive in Western Australia, at Perth, so I have no doubt it can be turned up on the files.
– It is remarkable that such a large number of Maltese were coming to Australia for the benefit of their health.
– I find that on the 14th October an instruction, marked ‘private and confidential,” was issued to the press of Australia to the effect that they were not to publish anything concerning the arrival or the expected arrival of Maltese in Australia. On about the 19th or ’21st of October - I speak from memory - another batch of about 240 Maltese arrived in Fremantle, but the captain of the ship received orders that they would not be allowed to land. In view of this statement, I fail to see how Senator de Largie can regard the matter as trivial.
– It was a serious matter, on the eve of a referendum to ask Australians to leave, that, Maltese should be coming here to take their jobs.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that their arrival was arranged for that purpose?
– There was something very suspicious about the whole transaction.
– I have already pointed out that the Prime Minister said the Maltese were not coming out under contract, but, if that was not the case, what was the necessity for an instruction from the Deputy Chief Censor to the press that no reference was to be made to their arrival, or their expected arrival? I have no doubt it was fondly hoped that this document to the press, marked, as it was, “ Private and confidential,” would not leak out, but it did, and we are now entitled to ask, if the Maltese were not, coming out under contract, why did the Deputy Chief Censor issue the instructions I have referred to? Were the Government a party to those instructions? We have on the statutebook a law dealing with immigration, providing that no persons may come to the Commonwealth of Australia under contract, unless it be proved that the particular labour they may be called upon to perform is of a special character, and not available in the Commonwealth. It was incumbent upon the Government to inquire into the circumstances concerning the arrival of these Maltese, and if it were found that their labour was of a kind not available within the Commonwealth, they could have allowed the Maltese to land under the provisions of that Act. It is the duty of the Government to tell the people why the Maltese were coming here, and what particular class of employment it was intended they should be engaged in.
– It was all prearranged. The Government anticipated that the referendum would be carried.
– It appears that the Government, through the instruction of the Deputy Chief Censor to the press of Australia, endeavoured to gag, not only the press, but also the representatives of the people, on the public platforms, and Parliament is now entitled to know what was the underlying purpose. .1 hope, therefore, that the Leader of the Senate will explain the position in the course of his reply to this debate.
– Who brought the. Maltese to the Northern Territory some years ago? .
– On that occasion no instructions were issued from, the censor to the press.
– Was the arrival of Maltese such an alarming fact?
– If it were not, why were instructions issued to the press ? Surely the Government had no reason to be afraid of any transaction that was fair and aboveboard ? The next matter to which I desire to refer is the regulation passed by the Government disallowing the publication of the Anzac vote. For a few days after the referendum vote the daily press of Australia published not only the “ Yes “ and “ No “ votes in the different States, but gave details of voting in each electoral division and subdivision of the Commonwealth,- but after the issue of the regulation of which I complain the press published only the totals of the “ Yes “ and “ No “ votes in the respective States. No information was given concerning the voting by our soldiers at- the front, or on transports. I wonder if the Government are courageous enough to tell the Senate why that regulation was issued, and why it is the law to-day.
– The reason was given in the press at the time. The Imperial authorities requested that the soldiers’ vote should not be published. I saw that published in the press in Tasmania.
– Senator Bakhap is not a member of the Government, and he is not in a position to tell us authoritatively. If the Imperial Government made such a request, why did they not also instruct that the vote of the people of Australia should not be published? I am aware that the Leader of the Government will probably say that it was desired not to publish the soldiers’ vote “ for. military reasons,” and because it would not be wise to publish to the world how our soldiers voted. But if that can be advanced as a reason for suppressing the soldiers’ vote, why should it not apply also to the vote of the people of Australia as a whole? If the publication of the vote recorded by the people in this country was likely to give information of value to the enemy, the same objection could be taken to the publication of the vote of the people here, because our soldiers on oversea service are just as truly citizens of Australia as are the people of this country, and they had just as great a right to take part in the referendum and to have the result of “their voting known. I do not say, of course, that we should know how they voted individually; but we are entitled to know how many “ Noes “ and how many “Yeses” were recorded by our soldiers in France, England, or on the transports travelling between Australia and the Motherland.
– You would have known it long ago if it had suited the Government to give the information.
– At the back of my mind there is the thought that the Government were afraid to publish the Anzac vote because certain statements have been made that those of us who opposed conscription were disloyalists, “pro-Germans,” and “Huns.” As a matter of fact, in my own State leading members of the State Parliament practically used those words, and, in effect, told me I was a “ pro-German,” a “ Hun,” and a disloyalist, because I dared to exercise my right as an Australian citizen to urge that we should not have conscription of Australian manhood. Were the Government afraid that these names might be applied to the soldiers on the battlefield offering their lives for the defence of the Empire and Australia? If I be classed as a pro-German, and dubbed a disloyalist and traitor because I dared to exercise my right of Australian citizenship, the soldier at the front, exercising his right to vote according to his conscience in the same way, could be similarly classed. Those soldiers at the front who voted “No,” as I did, must be, according to the gentlemen to whom I have referred, pro-Germans, Huns, and disloyalists.’ In” order to clear the atmosphere it would have been as well if the direction of the Anzac vote was made known to the people of Australia. We should have been told exactly what was the opinion of the men at the front on that very important question. I come now to the matter of taxation. I have just received a document issued today, which is stated to be an “ Interim Financial Statement by the Honorable Alexander Poynton, M.H.R., Commonwealth Treasurer,” and dated 6th December, 1916. I find that the proposals it contains differ considerably from those which were set forth in a Ministerial statement of the 27th September of this year. I notice that there, is to be an alteration in the war profits tax and in the proposal for a wealth levy. Mr. Poynton, in announcing these alterations, refers to the Ministerial statement of the 27th September as the proposals of the ex-Treasurer, Mr. Higgs. It might be just as well for honorable senators to note that those proposals were not the proposals of the exTreasurer, Mr. Higgs, but of the Hughes Government of that day. The Ministerial statement of the 27th September last, outlining the proposed entertainments tax, the wartime profits tax for1915-16 and for 1916- 17, and the proposed 25 per cent, increased income tax, represented the proposals, not of the ex-Treasurer, Mr. Higgs, but of the then Hughes Government. The interim financial statement put forward to-day represents the taxation proposals of the present Hughes Government.
– The honorable senator means the “ Fused Government.”
– No, the Confusion Government. I want to know why, if on the 27th September, 1916, the Hughes Government thought it right to put before the people certain taxation proposals, it has become necessary to-day for the reconstructed Hughes Government to materially alter those proposals.
– The honorable senator will not be in order in discussing the interim financial statement to which he has referred on the motion now before the Senate. He can make only a general reference to it.
– Then all I shall say is that it is evident that the proposals of the Hughes Government of to-day in the matter of taxation now submitted are vitally different from the proposals submitted by the Hughes Government on the 27th September. I wonder why this change has come over the spirit of their dream. It is because in the House of Representatives there are nine officers and four privates; there are eight Ministers, a Government Whip, and four followers. It is because in the Senate there is a majority of two against the .Government. To put the matter in plain language, it is because the present Government can only retain the Treasury bench at the will of the Right Honorable Joseph Cook, the Right Honorable Sir John Forrest, and Sir William Irvine.
– And by watering down their policy.
– Yes, by watering down their financial policy in order to suit the requirements and demands of the political party that is keeping them in office to-day. The present Government could not live five minutes on the Treasury bench if the Liberal party withdrew their support in the House of Representatives. It is only natural, in the circumstances, that the Liberal party should say to the Hughes Government, “ This is the price of our support.” We have the price. It is public property to-day.- Let me imagine the position reversed, and Mr. Joseph Cook hanging on to office in the same way that Mr. Hughes is hanging on to office to-day. I can imagine the invective that would be used by the present Prime Minister to describe the position. He would alarm Australia by the terms in which he would hold up to public contempt any man’ or set of men who would cling to the Government benches upon any such conditions. Let me remind Senators Lynch and Pearce that there is a gentleman supporting them now whom they have very often and drastically condemned. I refer to Sir John Forrest. There is no man in the public life of Australia who has been more severely condemned by Western Australian Federal Labour members, .including myself, than has Sir John Forrest. To-day the occupants of the Treasury bench are there by the grace of the very man they have condemned throughout the length and breadth of the Western State.
– Who is eating dirt?
– I am not for one. In connexion with the taxation proposals necessary to carry the war to a successful conclusion, Sir John Forrest, with two other persons in Western Australia, sent out a circular protesting against those proposals. It might be of interest to the Senate to know how this private circular became the property of the public. There is an honorable member of the State Parliament of Western Australia named Mr. Charles Hudson. He is the member for Yilgarn, and resides at Claremont* One morning he received a letter simply addressed “Hudson,’ Claremont,” He opened the letter, and seeing the superscription “ Dear Hudson,” read the letter right through. He found that it was an appeal by Sir John Forrest, Mr. Loton, and Mr. Septimus Burt, three wealthy men of Western Australia, for the establish ment of an organization to defend them against the taxation proposals of the Federal Labour party. It was not to be an organization to win the war or to prosecute the war to a successful conclusion for the Empire and her Allies, but to protect Sir John Forrest, Messrs. Loton, Burt, and others of the wealthy class of Western Australia from the taxation proposals of the Labour party. Sir John Forrest, Mr. Loton, and Mr. Burt said that they were prepared to subscribe £100 a year for three years. What was this to be done for? Was it to assist to put our returned soldiers on the land ?
– Not much.
– No, not much. It was to prevent any depreciation of the banking accounts of these three gentlemen. During the referendum campaign these gentlemen were prominent in advocating conscription, and we found them saying, “ Yes, young men, vote for conscription. Go to the front and fight, but for God’s sake do not touch our banking accounts.” In the document submitted by Mr. Poynton we have the response to that circular issued in Western Australia by Sir John Forrest, Mr. Loton, and Mr. Burt. We find Sir John Forrest supporting the present Hughes Government, members of which had been loudest in his condemnation, politically, throughout Western Australia since I have been a member of the Senate, and long before I became a member of it. This is a remarkable situation for certain members of the present Government to find themselves in. The people of Australia will look for some explanation of the vital change in the taxation proposals of the Hughes Government between the 27th September and the 6th of December.. In addition to Sir John Forrest, we have Sir William Irvine supporting the present Government, of which Senator Lynch is a member. It is well known that Sir William Irvine is the arch coercionist of Australia, yet we find Senator Lynch prepared to remain a member of a Government supported by a man who is known as the arch coercionist of Australia. Those of us who took the stand I did, in the Senate and outside of it, were described by Senator Lynch in a memorable speech as being like poor dog Tray, or like a rheumatic mosquito. The honorable senator, when making a speech in the Senate, I think it was on the 3rd October, likened us to a rheumatic mosquito, and also to the dog “ Tray “ who was so humble that he would do anything which his master would tell him to do. 1 want to know now who is the dog “Tray?” Is it Senator Lynch, or is it the anti-conscriptionist ? Who is the most humble of men to-day, when he can only retain his seat on the Ministerial bench, at the bidding of Forrest, Cook, Irvine, and Company? Where has his proud spirit of independence gone to? I admit ‘ that, intellectually and physically, the honorable senator is a big, stalwart man, but why should he, from his place here, dub those who take an opposite view as resembling the dog “Tray,” when he, to-day, is much more humble and obedient to the requests, I would almost say to the demands, of the Irvine-Cook crowd which is keeping him in office, than any body of men could possibly be? He has practically now to feed from the hand which he has so often’ smote by speeches, particularly in Western Australia, and other places. It is wrong for the honorable senator, or any other gentleman, to use these terms when we find him to-day in a position which to my mind is humiliating. There is one other matter I desire to refer to. I have here an extract from a speech made by the Prime Minister at the Lord Mayor’s banquet in Melbourne a little while ago. The heading of the report is, “ Only one point settled.” On that occasion he used these words -
The result of the referendum settles one point, and one point only; that is, that we may not have recourse to compulsion in order to provide reinforcements for oversea service during the war. It does not in any way affect our existing powers under the Defence Act, although it does limit the extent to which these ought to be exercised. ‘ The referendum does not and cannot affect in any way Australia’s obligations to the Empire during this great war. The people, misled by gross misrepresentations, have declined to entrust the Government with the powers asked for. The decision of the people will profoundly affect the future, not only of this young Commonwealth, but of democratic government generally. Certainly this refusal on the part of a free people to make sacrifices to defend their freedom will be used as the proof of the unwisdom of submitting great national issues directly to the people.
Those were most remarkable words for the right honorable gentleman to use. When certain members of Parliament took the stand that they would not support a referendum on compulsory service overseas, what was the argument which he used? He said, in effect, “You, as Labour men, are going to oppose a principle of the platform of the party which you belong to. You cannot do that and be true Labour men. You cannot have a referendum for one thing, and object to a referendum for another thing.” A referendum has been taken on, I think, the most important question which could be placed before the people of the Commonwealth, or of any other country, the question of the value of human life, and now this gentleman comes down and says, “ It will be a proof of the unwisdom of submitting great national issues directly to the people.” If a majority of the people of the Commonwealth had voted “Yes” on the 28th October, would the Prime Minister have made a statement of that kind? I do not think so. It is a most remarkable thing for’ any man, be he Prime Minister or a private citizen, to reflect on the vote of the people.
– Your State ought to feel enthusiastic over the referendum now, seeing that a majority of the electors have voted “ Yes “ three times.
– I was not referring to the vote in Western Australia, but to a statement by the Prime Minister at the Lord Mayor’s banquet here.
– What good has the referendum done in Western Australia? Answer that question. In the West people have voted in favour of every referendum.
– I am speaking now of the effect of the referendum in Australia, and not in any particular State. It is a most remarkable thing for a leader of the people to say that the result of a certain vote proves theunwisdom of submitting a great national issue to the people.
– He did’ not say that; he said thai it would be used in that way.
– Used by whom ? By. the Government and its supporters to-day !
– By the enemies of the referendum.
– The right honorable gentleman himself has used the argument.
– By men like Senator Findley, who opposed the referendum.
– The Prime Minister was the first to use the argument, anyhow. Coming back to the question of the issue of the proclamation, and the calling up of the men for home defence, we find that up to about the 28th October, a little over 40 per cent, of the men who were examined were declared to be fit to go to the front for active service. Even that is a proof positive that if conscription had been carried, we could not have got 16,500 men a month. A remark was made by Senator de Largie about the last man and the last shilling. He said that, during the last general election, we, as a party, pledged ourselves to do everything possible to win the war. That is quite true.
– “ To the last man and the last shilling,” do not “forget that.
– I subscribed to that doctrine enunciated by the Right Honorable Andrew Fisher, but I want to remind the honorable senator that, during the campaign of 1914, there was no question of conscription, or of sending men overseas against their will. As regards the last man and the last shilling, I support that view yet. In these two Ministerial statements, there is proof that, whilst the Government are prepared to send the last man, they are not prepared to use the last shilling. I wish to make a remark in connexion with the proposed recruiting scheme of the Government. It has been said in certain places that the loyalty of those who advocated “No” on the public platforms will be tested. All I have to say on the subject is that, in my census card some months ago, I made a statement to the State recruiting committee of Western Australia that I was entirely at their disposal. That offer stands to-day.
– I think that we should be obliged to Senator de Largie for giving us a most interesting account of his trip abroad. His little lecture might be appreciated, if he were to go round, and properly advertise it, for the meetings which he will attend by-and-by. It may be very edifying, but the most of it was well known to many of us, who had read the journals and magazines which are sent here every month. I have read, or looked over, most of these publications, and have been acquainted with the conditions in South Africa and Canada for a number of years, but by those persons who, unfor tunately, have not access to the magazines, the honorable senator’s little lectures will, in all probability, be gratefully received.
-What I gave to the Senate, I picked up on the spot, anyhow.
– I do not often enter into family quarrels, but, sitting here the other day, I heard Senator Needham make a statement which he repeated to-day, to the effect that Mr. Hughes, before he left the Labour party, was given an opportunity to make a statement. Senator de Largie denied that.
– I said nothing of the kind.
– The statement appears in the last number of Hansard. If the honorable senator will only look it up-
– I have looked it up. I got my proof, and passed it, just as it was.
– The honorable senator denied that Mr. Hughes had the chance to make a statement before he was arraigned by a motion. I always think it is better to have evidence oil these matters.
– I did not say what you say I said.
– The honorable senator said by way of interjection, ‘ ‘ It is untrue.”
– I repeat that, in regard to the statement which you are now making.
– I can quite understand that. The best witness I can call is the Right Honorable W. M. Hughes, who made a statement to the Government organ next day. In the Argus of the 15th’ November, Mr. Hughes is reported as having said -
I was asked to make a statement, bat I said that I would prefer to hear the charge that was brought against me before I said anything.
– I did not say that he was not asked to make a statement.
– The honorable senator denied that Mr. Hughes, prior to a motion being submitted to that meeting, was asked to make a statement.
– The honorable senator ought to know what transpired here before making a statement.
– I was here, and listened to what was said. In addition.
I have since availed myself of the opportunity to read Hansard. I do think that these misstatements should be cleared up, and in order to dispel them I have called the witness most interested - the Right Honorable W. M. Hughes. I was wondering what the name of this great political party opposite was going to be.
– Did not the honorable senator see the illustrations of the christening 1
– Oh, yes; but we always see them. The newspaper which published them is the oldest Labour . paper in Australia, and one with which I had a fairly good connexion at its inception in 1888. From that time onward it has improved its position, and has done remarkably good work. I refer to the Queensland Worker, which, as I am reminded by Senator Findley, contains a very good cartoon of the christening.
– The honorable senator was very little known in 1888.
– I was known long before 1888, but I do not blow about it because, if I said that I was known in 1888, or even in 1868, it would merely mean that I am getting up in years. But I was fairly well known in 1888 in connexion with the Labour movement.
– Not in connexion ‘ with the Labour movement.
– Yes, and that was long before the honorable senator knew much about the movement in Australia.
– I took part in an election in 1888.
– So did I.
– Two remarkable events.
– No; they were not very remarkable, because Senator de Largie was supporting a man who was not a Labour candidate, but who stood in the Liberal interest for the Queensland Parliament. I am referring to Mr. Thomas Glassey. I, on the other hand, was supporting one of the first Labour candidates who was returned to that Parliament, who afterwards became a member of the New South Wales Parliament. Mr. Glassey was returned as a supporter of Sir Samuel Griffith, and not as a Labour man. At that time I was supporting Mr. James Johnstone, who afterwards represented Balmain in the New South Wales Parliament. Mr. Glassey “ratted” on the Labour party, just as a lot of other people have done. I was naturally interested in the name which would be adopted by my honorable friends opposite, and on turning up the Brisbane Courier of the 24th November, I read the following, for the accuracy of which I do not vouch -
Senator de Largie, the Whip in the Senate, told the Women’s National League to-night, “ We have adopted the name of the National Labour Party, because our section of the Labour Party has placed its national views before its’ party views.”
I think that that was a most appropriate place to make the announcement. If ever there was an audience before which that declaration should have been made by the Whip of the “National” party, it was before the Women’s National League.
– It was not made before the Women’s National League.
– I said that I did not vouch for the accuracy of -the statement, but as it appeared in a Government organ I naturally assumed it to be correct.
– I have never spoken in the presence of the Women’s National League in my life. *
– Then, I will give the honorable senator the other newspaper regarding the matter. It says -
Speaking at the annual congress of the National Council of Women Senator de Largie made certain statements.
– There is a women’s trade union affiliated with that body.
– That may he.
– Another mare’s nest.
– The honorable senator said that the Maltese were a mare’s nest, but I did not see it.
– The honorable senator did not see the 2,000 that were said to be coming.
– I did not say they were coming. But I met friends of mine in the eastern part of New South Wales, around Coffs Harbor, who wanted to know what we were doing, because there were hundreds of Maltese there who were competing with other people for work. I did not deal with that matter, except to speak of the prohibition by the Government of the issue of information regarding the arrival of Maltese in Australia. I repeat that the “ National “ party is the most appropriate title that my honorable friends opposite could have adopted. It has been in existence in connexion with all the State Parliaments of Australia. We have had some experience of “ National “ parties in Queensland. Our experience has been that whenever a gang of political brigands has started out with the object of robbing the people, or of throttling whatever liberty they enjoyed, it has called itself the “ National “ party. The “first party of this kind was created about 1SSS, when quite a number of land-grant railways, starting at Charleville and finishing up at Point Parker, were projected - the greatest land-steal ever contemplated in Australia. I remember the big loaf and the little loaf which were trotted out on that occasion. The big loaf was that which was going to be supplied by the “ National “ party, and the little loaf was that which would be supplied by the other party. The “ Nationalists,” who were led by Sir Thomas Mcllwraith, did not succeed. Anybody who chooses to turn up the Brisbane Worker for 1893 will find printed in it a memorable grid-iron map. It was that journal which was responsible for the first entry into the Queensland Parliament, during that year, of a considerable number of Labour members, including myself. As time went on, this “ National “ party used occasionally to be indicted. It was in the habit of giving long leases to its friends ; it used to grant mining leases and exemptions against which I have heard you, sir, protest very eloquently. It attempted to obtain a franchise to permit of the use of the water of the Barron Falls for private purposes. All these were the works of the ‘ ‘ National ‘ ‘ party. It re-introduced black labour into Queensland. Only a few years before, legislation had been enacted which provided that at the end of a certain time the employment of black labour should cease. But the “ National “ party did not wish it to cease, and, just as honorable members opposite were prepared to have Maltese entering the Commonwealth without anybody knowing of their arrival, so the “ National “ party was prepared to flood Queensland with kanaka labour. The party also consisted of those who locked up the people’s money in 1893. Even to-, day many depositors have not yet received their money back, although they hope to get it in course of time. But their action caused ruin to thousands of workers who had previously been on a very good wicket indeed. It was the “National” party that sent men down to St. Helena for long terms of imprisonment during an industrial dispute in Queensland. It was that party which sent George Taylor there for three years.- Later he went to Western Australia, entered the Parliament of that State, and became a Minister of the Crown. Why was he imprisoned at St. Helena ? Merely for endeavouring to improve the conditions of the men amongst whom he worked. It was members of the “National” party who not only sentenced these men to terms of imprisonment, but who held out a bribe to them by saying, “ Only admit that you were guilty of a crime, and we will let you out.” The “National” party again were beaten, because the men declined to plead guilty to crimes for the sake of getting out, and preferred to do their time. They said, “No, we came here because we were endeavouring to do good work, and we are in the van of reform.” One o’f them went into the Western Australian Parliament, and another into the Queensland Parliament. He is there yet - a credit to the people who were putting up a fight at that time against the so-called “National” party. That was the party which a little while afterwards brought into existence one of the most tyrannical Coercion Acts in existence in any part of Australia.
– It must have been bad if it beat the Irvine Coercion Act.
– It was worse than the Irvine Coercion Act, because one of its provisions was that a man going along the road could be arrested at any time en suspicion. All that a mounted constable had to do was to tie him to his stirrup-iron and walk him along, if necessary, to the nearest town. That could not be done in Victoria under the Irvine Act. Under the Queensland! Coercion Act, if the police found a man asleep on the side of the road, or at a waterhole, they could search him to decide whether he was “loyal,” as they termed it, or not. If they decided that he was not he could be taken away. A man could also be arrested without warrant and kept in prison just as long as was deemed necessary. This was the work of the “ National “ Government in that State. I suppose we may expect something similar when we get a “ National “ Government in Federal politics. Those were the people who not only attempted to use the ballot-box improperly, but used intimidation of every description. They practically refused votes to people. They made one most peculiar proposal. They wanted to give every man reputed to be the father of two children an extra vote. That was a “ National “ Government proposal. I do not know whether we are to get a proposal like that from this “ National “ Government, but on that occasion it was laughed out throughout the length and breadth of Queensland.
– Then I suppose every man had two votes up there?
– No ; the woman who bore the children was not to get a vote at all, but the man who was reputed to be the father was to have two votes. The “ National “ Government at that time used also to “ rig “ elections. I have known them to knock off public works with the idea of compelling men to leave a district, so that they would not be able to record their votes at election time. I do not know whether this
National “ Government will do the same, but I shall not be greatly surprised if they do.
– It is significant that they have stopped a lot of work at the Flinders Naval Base, which is in Irvine’s constituency.
Senator- TURLEY. - There may be an election coming on. In Queensland men were compelled to travel, with the result that they were not able to record their votes. The present electoral law enables men to record their votes even if they are away, but the law at that time did not. Public servants were also transferred if it were believed that they were likely to get a position in Parliament. If the supporters of the present Government doubt that statement, let them ask their factotum in Queensland, Peter Airey, the man who is doing the underground work for them at present in connexion with some of the little things they have on. I knew him when he was a teacher. At that time he was transferred because it -was believed, I think rightly, that he was likely to find a place in the Queensland Parliament. The Labour party afterwards handed Mr. Peter Airey a seat in Parliament on the shovel, and he “scabbed” on them at the first opportunity. I have known these people to hold up election Courts so that claims for votes which they had floating around the country could be got in. I have known them regard with satisfaction the thousands of men that were thrown out of employment after every election. They did nothing to prevent intimidation. Intimidation at the ballotbox did not come from the Government, as it does now. In those days it came from the employer, who regularly circulated the statement, “ We shall know how you vote,” amongst his employees. In the north, as you know, sir, hundreds of men after every election were sent about their business because the employer carried his threat into practice, and numbers of men had to sacrifice themselves because they stuck to the Labour movement. There is hardly a franchise in Queensland to-day relating to gas, tramways, or other public utilities that has not been granted by a “ National “ Government. The name “ National “ is to be ‘found in every organization which has been opposed for many years to any advance, economical or industrial. We have the “ National “ Liberal party in Queensland. We had the National Progressive League in Queensland, and we have the Women’s National League and the National Political Council. In New South Wales we have the “ National “ party of Holman, Wade, Beeby, and company, and last, but not least, we have in Victoria an organization on which Senator Pearce used to pour ridicule a little whole ago - Packer’s “ National “ Organization of Working Men. A new ‘ National ‘ ‘ Government has now come into Federal politics, and I believe it is going to be just as big a disaster, as far as concerns the liberties of the people of Australia, as the State “ National “ parties were in State politics, because I find from the press that exactly the same people are behind the Federal “ National” Government as were behind the State “National” Governments. In the first place, they have the support of the Employers Federation. It must be a strange thing for some of those gentlemen to know that they have the support of that body. They are supported also by the Pastoralists Association, which, T hope, is going to induce them to carry out, if they can, the policy which it has been advocating for many years. That was the association which made it almost impossible for a man to earn a living in the western parts of Queensland. Our friends talk about loyalty. You, sir, remember the time when those people employed men under dreadful conditions in that State. They used to issue to the men who did their best to break up the Labour movement, tickets which they called “ loyalty tickets.” On one occasion the Speaker of another place and myself, when out electioneering, were riding across some of the wide plains of the west on bicycles, and picked up a little bag of the kind carried by most bushmen. It contained a number of papers, and we decided to take it to the secretary of the Shearers “Union. When he examined it he found a piece of blue paper which he immediately threw down, saying, “ I shall not have anything to do with it. That is a loyalty ticket issued by the members of the Pastoralists Association to those who have scabbed on Labour around this district.” Is that the sort of loyalty that the members of the Government party axe after to-day ? Do they want to break up the organizations which practically made them, and made it possible for them to occupy their present positions ? That is the sort of thing that is appealing to the workers outside. I do not know whether they are appealing to the workers in Western Australia, but the workers in the eastern portion of Australia are thinking, and it will not be long before the workers of the West begin to think practically on similar lines. The “National” party have the support, also, of the stock exchanges of Australia and of the incorporated law institutes in the various States, which I do not think they ever had before. I have heard some of the members on the Government side throw out jibes against that learned profession which to-day is nearly all behind them. They have the support, also, of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, which they have denounced year in and year out. That company was more responsible than any other body for the attempt to retain black labour in Australia. They have behind them the Beef Trust of Australia, if there is such a thing, because we know perfectly well that the organizations which make such institutions will always get behind “ National “ Governments while they are in existence. They have behind them to-day the farmers unions of Australia. I could get the resolutions, and quote them wholesale, passed from one end of Australia to the other by those bodies, the members of which are to-day refusing to give reasonable conditions to the men whom they employ.
– It is singular that we have not seen them. We ought to have seen them.
– They may not have been brought under the honorable senator’s notice, but they have been brought under the notice of many of us. The honorable senator has only to look at the papers to see them. Only the other day the Farmers Union in Tasmania threw themselves behind the “National” Government, and at the same time declared against the conditions of employment demanded by the rural workers. Those are the people behind the great “ National “ Government of twenty-six distributed in two Houses, although, I suppose, they hope to grow to something more.
– I challenge the honorable senator to produce a resolution passed by the stock exchanges or the Colonial Sugar Refining Company.
– I did not bring the resolutions, because every one knows they have been passed. Some one will produce them, later on for Senator Pearce’s benefit. I hope that will be done, because he will .then know those whom he is now representing. They are not the men whom he represented prior to a few weeks ago. Up till that time he represented the men who were doing the work, the men- who were asking for improved conditions, the men who want to make this country a better one to live in. Senator Pearce cannot claim that he is representing those men now. On the other hand, he is representing those who all along have not been interested in the improvement of working conditions for our people, and who have always endeavoured to obtain labour as cheaply as possible.
– That is not true.
– Yes, it is. Only the other day, we were informed that an organization had been formed in Melbourne to get the Right Honorable W. M. Hughes to stand for the constituency of Fawkner. Can it be said that the prime mover in that new organization is a. Labour man 1 These are the men who are now supporting the “ National “ Government, and it is just as well that the people of this country should know what the real position is. I do not envy the Government the name that has been adopted for their party. The name is -quite an appropriate one, but I do think that this new “ National “ party will go the way of all “National” parties.
– It stands by the nation.
– It stands by itself.
– It is- propped up.
– I understand that the majority of the local governing bodies are behind the Government, and this new “ National “ party to-day. Those are the people who deluged this Chamber with correspondence on the occasion when members had before them the question of increased salaries. They were opposed to Senator Pearce then, but to-day they are all behind this “National “ party, strange though it may seem. Senator de Largie has told us that this party is going to grow. Such a party might grow for a little while, But eventually it will become extinct. Still there may be something in what Senator de Largie says. It is quite possible that the party will grow so long as its members are prepared to say, “Yes, Mr. Cook,” on all occasions. That is the only possible condition upon which the party can live, let alone grow. For the moment, I regret that I did not bring with me a pamphlet prepared a few years ago by some members of this new “National “ party, because that pamphlet showed Mr. Cook in every possible political condition. It showed him as the one-time Republican, as the one-time land taxer, as the one-time Free Trader, and the one-time Labour -man. I am glad that I am in possession of the pamphlet, because it may be necessary to use it again by-and-by, though instead of applying to Mr. Cook only, it will be equally applicable to the gentlemen whom Mr. Cook will keep in office, because, as every one knows, it would be impossible not only for the Government not to grow, but even to live, if its members were not prepared to feed out of the hand of the man they have denounced in years gone by from Cape York to the Leeuwin. I would like now to say a few words with regard to the regulation to which Senator Gardiner, as Leader of our paTty in the Senate, referred at some length. Mr. Hughes has denied the issue of any regulation which was calculated to intimidate electors on the day of the referendum poll. It is probable that Mr. Hughes is quite right technically, because I do not think that the regulation was actually issued, if by issuing is implied the publication of the particular regulation in the Government- Gazette. I do not believe that that was done.
– It was passed.
– Yes, I believe the regulation was passed, but it was not issued to the public because it was one of those acts which the responsible person would like to hide. It certainly was not something which a person would care to “ blow “ about. I have a copy of the regulation. It is a document which I will cherish because it is well worth preserving by men who have been connected with the Labour movement for any length of time and who desire still to retain membership.”
– It would help us all if you would put the regulation in Hansard so that we could all read it.
– The regulation is in Hansard already, because the Leader of the Labour party in the other House read it, consequently it has been published in Hansard. I notice there appears to be a difference of opinion between Mr. Hughes and Senator de Largie on the subject of this regulation, because while Mr. Hughes says it was never issued, Senator de hargie assures us that it was withdrawn.
– And Senator Millen said, “Make no mistake about it, it was acted upon.”
– Yes, I think that is so. The regulation was acted upon. In the first place instructions were issued to all the officials in charge of polling booths to put questions to certain voters on the day of the referendum. Within three miles of the General Post Office of Melbourne there is a place where those questions were asked up till fifteen minutes to 10 o’clock on the morning of polling day, and in Queensland there are places where they were asked up to 4 o’clock in the afternoon of polling day.
– And yet the Prime Minister has told us that they were never issued*-
– Well, the Prime Minister is a lawyer, and we know the interpretation which lawyers put upon statements, and even upon oaths, so long as they can deceive the public, so it is just as well that the whole position in connexion with this regulation should be made known. I venture to say that if the circumstances connected with it had been known throughout Queensland three days prior to the referendum vote the majority in that State against conscription would have been considerably more than doubled, because if there was one State more than another where the people have had to fight for the franchise and the secrecy of the ballot, it is Queensland. Mr. Watt, in the course of his remarks in another place, said that the regulation would not have prevented men from voting, but I feel sure that it did prevent many a man from presenting himself at the polling booth.
– For what purpose was it issued?
– It was issued in pursuance of a threat by the Prime Minister at Albury prior to. 28th October, that when some men went to record their votes on the following Saturday they would get “ the surprise of their lives.”
– The original intention was to have an armed guard ready to take men away.
– I am not aware of that.
– Well, ask Senator Pearce.-
– What I do know is that instructions were issued, and that men whom Senator Pearce and Mr. Hughes used to represent were kept away from polling booths on that occasion. I do not care to give names, but I have been informed by men who were presiding officers on the day of the referendum that instructions in accordance with the regulation were issued, and that they were carried out. Although the divisional officers had not seen the regulation, they had to obey instructions from the Chief Returning Officer. I was in Brisbane on the 28th October, having addressed a large meeting the previous night, and when I visited one of the voting places the following morning I was informed that the questions contained in the regulation were being asked at that time in Fortitude Valley. Afterwards I was informed that they were being asked in other places. Then, later in the day, the afternoon paper contained the announcement .that a reporter, having interviewed the State Electoral Officer on the subject, had been informed that the questions would not be any longer asked. The effect of this regulation in Queensland will be better understood when I remind the Senate that the people of that State had a hard fight to obtain the franchise,. I was in the Queensland Parliament for nine years before we were able to get anything like a reasonable franchise, which was only secured after Federation, because Queensland was practically compelled to follow the lead set by the Federal Parliament in this regard. For years we had to fight to break down the system of intimidation at elections. I have been asked myself not to speak to men as they came near a polling booth, because their vote was all right, and it might be thought, if I were seen speaking to them, that they were going to vote for Labour. This is the condition of affairs we might expect under a “ National “ Government, because, according to the regulation which has been complained of, it was proposed to put certain questions to electors, who might thus have incriminated themselves as far as the law was concerned. And what guarantee have we that questions like this, or in some other form, will not be asked on some future occasion? The statistical authorities, for instance, might want to know from me, when I go to record my vote, when I was at church last, to what congregation I belong, or how much money I owe. In the State from which I come men have risked their work to secure the franchise and by going to the polling booth to record their votes. I have in mind the circumstances with regard to a certain head station. They had been “peacocking” a piece of country 25 miles away, where they used to breed horses. This area was 3 miles away from the nearest polling booth, but the men were not allowed to ride to that township to record their votes. They were compelled to ride 27 miles to the head station to vote there, and in order that the owner would know how their votes were recorded. That was intimidation, but was it any worse than what we may expect from the “ National “ party to-day ? Not a bit. So long as we have a “ National “ party in existence in the Federal arena, the ballot-box, in my opinion, will never be safe. When men will prostitute their authority “by attempting to break down the secrecy of the ballot-box, as was done recently, . can we say that we will trust them again? Is it not enough to know that on all occasions they are now saying, “ Yes, Mr. Cook”! Fancy Senator de Largie eating out of the hand of Mr. Joseph Cook! It is delightful. I suppose o that it will shortly be made the subject of a cartoon.
– Fancy Senator Lynch eating out of the hand of Sir John Forrest !
– Yes ; but we know that politics makes us acquainted with very strange bedfellows. Senator Lynch is prepared to-day to have as his very strange bedfellow a gentleman whom he has denounced from one end of Western Australia to the other. We shall be very glad to hear the honorable senator’s explanation. I sat on the other side when the honorable senator recently was doing gymnastics, and I had to shift out of my seat to prevent him treading on my toes. Did we not hear him “ coo-ee “ in this chamber and see him wriggle himself about, and may he not do it again in defence of the position he occupies at the present time? The franchise and the ballot represented the driving force of Labour. I can quote a few words to that effect from the Right Honorable W. M. Hughes. When attending a conference of the Australian Labour party in Adelaide, on 31st May, 1915, and speaking to a motion moved in favour of compulsory voting, the right honorable gentleman said -
The. driving force of the Labour movement has not been compulsion, but inspiration. To enforce the people to enroll was a most indifferent substitute for the enthusiasm which led many to walk 60 miles to vote. The movement has been propelled by men who regarded no price as too high nor sacrifice too great to record their votes.
He was right. That was the driving force of the Labour movement. But when the electors got to the ballot-box to record their votes, were they supposed to be met with the question by the returning officer, “ Have you used Pear’s soap “ ? That is what is being proposed to-day. The ballot-box is to be used to know whether a man has been guilty of breaking the law. If it can be used in connexion with a breach of the Defence law, there is no reason why it cannot be used in connexion with the breach of any other law. Why not ask Senator Bakhap, the next time he goes to record his vote, whether he has ceased beating his wife yet, and demand from him an answer to the question before he is allowed to vote; or make him go before a tribunal and prove . to the satisfaction of two magistrates that he has ceased beating his wife? There is no limit to the forms in which this proposal might be applied. Now what was the regulation that was promulgated ?
– What about the Act that was promulgated and which the honorable senator voted for?
– I have been telling honorable senators about the Act when the honorable senator was not present. Paragraph 7 of the regulation reads -
All such ballot-papers shall, subject to these regulations, be dealt -with in the same manner as ballot-papers indorsed with the words “ section 9.”
– What about the war?
– I have no little tale of travels to tell, because I remained in Australia where I believed I could do more important work, from the Labour point of view, than by travelling over the earth at the present time. Senator de Largie knows that I was opposed to the whole business of the travelling of Australian representatives to the Old Country, because I did not think that this was the time for members of this Parliament to travel outside of Australia. When the honorable senator came back, the information he had gained did not, apparently, weigh very much with the people who were asked to vote “ Yes “ at the referendum.
– The honorable senator has not given us the chapter about the blue room yet.
– That will come by-and-by, when we have some more of these little lectures. Let the honorable senator wait until Senator de Largie blossoms forth as a public entertainer, and we shall then find out all about the blue room and other places. Paragraph 7 of the regulation to which I am referring continues -
Provided that for the purpose of this regulation -
“The prescribed envelope” means an envelope similar to that prescribed for the purpose of section 9 of the Military Service Referendum- Act 1916, but with the word “ Proclamation “ or the abbreviation “ Proc.” written or stamped thereon, and if the vote has not been challenged under section 9 of that Act the words “Section 9” shall be struck out; and
the tribunal shall have jurisdiction to determine, in the case of an envelope bearing the word “ Proclamation “ or the abbreviation “ Proc.” whether the elector has wilfully failed to comply with the proclamation. (Any such wilful failure shall be deemed disloyalty.)
I see a lot of loyal gentlemen opposite, and I am reminded of the loyalty ticket that used to be issued by the Pastoralists Association. I do not know whether Senator Lynch ever carried one or not, but they were great things, and let me say that no one in Australia to-day would be game to frame one of those tickets, and hang it up in his house. The holders of those tickets were men whom Senator de Largie would be ashamed of knowing at .that time. The regulation continues -
Any person who refuses or fails to answer any question put to him under these regulations, or who makes an untrue statement, in any answer to any such question, shall be guilty of an offence against the War Precautions Act 1914-16.
That is the way in which the votes of men were to be dealt with. I want to know what confidence the public can have in men who have used the power reposed in them to use the ballot-box for a purpose like that. Paney proposing to put a question whereby a man shall incriminate himself in respect of a violation of the law without going into a Court of justice at all ! Why, no criminal brought before a Court is expected to do that in any circumstances. He may not be asked a question to compel him to incriminate himself in a Court of law, and yet the average worker of Australia between the ages of twenty-one and thirty-five years, when he went to perform an act of citizenship, was to be asked those questions.
– He had broken the law.
– He had -not broken the law. He had merely failed to respond to a call.
– Which had the force of law behind it.
– He had only failed to respond to a call.
– Those are the men whom the honorable senator is championing. ,
– If men broke any other law, should they be challenged at the ballot-box? If this proposal is to be continued, it does not matter what law a man may break, he may be challenged at the ballot-box, asked questions in order to make him incriminate himself, and then be dragged before a Court of justice. If Senator de Largie supports such a proposal as that, I cannot congratulate him. If that be the position he takes up, I hope that he will go to Newcastle, and tell some of the friends with whom he used to work there that he is now eating out of the hand of Mr. Joseph Cook, and is prepared to support regulations like these. It is only the little tail of the governing body that sits on the other side. The main body sits in opposition, and is called the Liberal party.
– But what about the chain-gang party?
– The honorable senator may be used to that .sort of thing, but I have never had any experience of it. It is time that the intelligent electors of Australia were given an opportunity to get rid of both these parties, and send back, as I believe they will, the Labour party, stronger than ever, to govern this country. Let us see what another gentleman says he would do. Mr. Watt made a certain statement in another place.
– What about the war?
– More of our little travels ? The honorable- senator was most ingenious to-day. I could not help laughing at him. He told us a few little tarra.diddles about his travels in the hope that the debate would be drawn upon those particular lines.
– I rise to a point of order. Senator Turley has said that I uttered some “ tarradiddles “ here today. What I said was perfectly true. I told no “ tarradiddles,” and I ask that Senator Turley should be called upon to withdraw that word.
– If Senator de Largie claims that the word is offensive to him, I ask Senator Turley to withdraw it. Personally, I do not know what it means.
– If the use of the word hurts Senator de Largie so much as he suggests, I shall take it back with the greatest pleasure, but he is most sensitive now compared with what he was before he became a member of the “ National “ party. I have often heard the honorable senator say that he did not care what he was called in this Chamber, but now he is very sensitive, and, therefore, I have very much pleasure in saying that he was not telling tarradiddles. but was giving a running narrative of the events of his travels in South Africa, Canada, Great Britain, and various other places. I was dealing with a statement made by Mr. Watt in a newspaper. He said -
Assuming that the Prime Minister did everything that had been said against him, was there anything in these questions against the sanctity, the secrecy, or the freedom of the ballot?
Everybody knows that there was. I have met numbers of men who knew very well that there was. Many of them, I suppose, have been asked to go before a Court to prove their loyalty if they went to vote at all, and it was not a matter which they could get out of very easily.
If he were Prime Minister, and felt inclined to do this thing, he would have gone through with it, and it would not have been any injury to the democratic system of voting they were now operating.
But Mr. Watt went further. He said -
What the Prime Minister apparently contemplated, or what Mr. Hughes believed had been issued, were instructions to electoral officers that they should ask questions of certain persons presenting themselves at the booths. The proper thing to do, and what he himself would have preferred to do, was to let the military authorities place soldiers near the booths to ask men whose appearance suggested that they came within the proclamation if they had responded to the call, and to have those who had disobeyed prosecuted for disobedience of the law.
That is the Liberal party’s programme. They would not have prostituted the ballotbox. They would have taken a number of ‘ military men, and put them close to the booths, so that if a corporal or sergeant thought that a man was between the ages of twenty-one and thirty-five he could pick him up, take him away, and have him prosecuted.
– Why should he not?
– Why should you allow freedom for a man to go and record his vote?
– That is another question.
– This used not to be so at one time. It took years of hard work and solid sacrifice, on the authority of .Mr. Hughes, before we were able to say to people, ‘ ‘ You can now go and record your vote at the ballot-box. It is secret and safe.” There was not a “ National “ Government in Federal politics at that time. I know that, byandby, I shall have to deal with this matter, not here, but on the platforms in the country. I shall have to ask the people of the State I represent whether they are prepared to allow such things to be practised as regards citizenship. Senator Millen was quite right when he said that in many cases the censorship was being used for political purposes. No matter where one might go in Queensland, wherever there was a newspaper which was at all likely to favour Labour, or was supporting those who were going to vote “ No “ at the referendum, there was an impression in the minds of nearly all the newspaper men that a new commandment had been promulgated by the ‘ ‘ National ‘ ‘ party, and that was, “ Thou shalt not cartoon or criticise the Prime Minister.” As a matter of fact, in many cases they were almost afraid to say anything about him, because it might lead to their being dragged before the Courts. I said very little about the Prime Minister. I do not know whether, if I had done so, it would have meant my arrest, but there was plenty to talk about without referring to him.
– You deserve a golden harp.
– I will get one byandby, but I do not know what the honorable senator will get. The order of the boot, I expect. The oldest Labour newspaper in Australia, the Worker, sent a cartoon up to the censor. No objection was taken to the cartoon, but, as honorable senators know, there is generally a little letterpress - it may be one or two lines, or only a few words - which explains the cartoon to some extent. The cartoon I refer to was sent back to the Worker office with this message, “ Yes, you can publish the cartoon,” but the few -words beneath it were scratched out, not that there was any harm in them. I got a copy of the cartoon, and showed it to quite a number of persons. They thought that the letterpress was an improvement, but it was knocked out by the censor. Many strange things have been done by the censors. I have here a copy of a Government organ, of Saturday, the Brisbane Courier, which, on the occasion of his previous visit, wrote in such nice language about the Right Honorable W. M. Hughes that before he got to the border he had to send back about a column of stuff in reply to its remarks.
Sitting suspended from 6.S0 to 8 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended, I was dealing with the censorship, and narrating the way in which the Worker had been dealt with. In this connexion. I wish to say that on the 24th September a cable was forwarded to Australia, and was headed “ Germany’s Latest Infamy,” “Indisputable Proof,” “ Inhuman Treatment,” “ Thousands of Deaths.” That cable was held up for some time, and it may have been thought necessary to hold it up altogether .- But the most peculiar thing about it is that it was released for publication the night before polling day. On that day it was published in all its glaring hideousness for the purpose of influencing a few votes’ Another cable was headed “ Callous Cruelty,” “ The Unspeakable Hun,” “ Horrors of the Gardelgen Prisoners’ Camp.” What is the history of that cable? It was despatched from London on Monday, 23rd October, for publication in Australia on Tuesday, 24 th October. It was released by the censor, but just before publication instructions were issued that it was to be hung up until the newspapers received further advice. On the Friday preceding polling day another notice went out from the censor to the press that that cable had been released for publication. Why ? Because both these cables constituted a very strong indictment of alien enemies. I say that this information should have been given to the public when it arrived. It was not fair to release these cables for publication, to cancel that release, and finally to allow them to be published on the day of the poll. I wish now to refer to another matter, namely, the Military Service Referendum Act.. It is within the memory of honorable senators that we passed that Act on the invitation of the Government for two reasons - first, to prevent persons born in alien enemy countries from voting at the referendum unless their loyalty had been proved, and, secondly, to enable us to question persons who were suspected of disloyalty. Now, the Act was administered in a most peculiar manner. In the first place no instructions were sent to presiding officers as to how questions were to be asked.
– Why did they ask questions ?
– They did not. I know the position from the Chief Electoral Officer in Queensland. The presiding officers were given a copy of the Act and told to administer it, but with a complete absence of instructions. I desire to show how it was administered. Persons born in enemy countries who had sons at the front were allowed to obtain certificates from the military authorities, and on the production of those certificates were permitted to vote. When the measure was under consideration in this chamber I referred to the case of a man who was born in Denmark prior to 1864. He was then a lad.- Denmark was conquered by Prussia in 1864, and he continued to live there for a few years, after which he came to Australia, where he has been a reputable citizen ever since. His son is more loyal to Australia than a good many persons who flap flags and prate of their loyalty. He volunteered for service at the front, but because his father had lived for a few years in Schleswig he was turned down. Although he had passed the medical examination he could not find a place in our Australian Army to fight for his country. At the referendum his father had to vote under section 9 of the Act, whilst the son himself had Iiia loyalty questioned at the ballot-box.
– I would sooner question the loyalty of some Australians.
– He was an Australian born and bred. At the beginning of the war we all know that large numbers of men went to the front from Australia whose names were not English. It was only after the lapse of some considerable time that the Defence Department began to turn down the applications of any volunteer with a name savouring of Danish or German. The young man of whom I speak, and whose loyalty was questioned, was, strangely enough, called up under the proclamation to serve in one of our camps. That is a position which the Department cannot defend, and ‘ which is not likely to make Australian natives look with favour on its administration. When some persons went to the polling booths they were not asked any questions. Take the case of a man named Holts. Holt is English, Holtz is German, and Hoist is Danish. A certain Mr. Hoist attended the polling booth to vote. He recorded his vote, and attempted to put his ballot-paper into the ballot-box, but when doing so the Presiding Officer said, “You must not put your vote into the ballot-box. Give it to me, and I will put it into an envelope.” Why? Merely because he had not been asked from where he came. In this way, men and women born in Australia, because the Presiding Officers did not know their names, had their votes placed in envelopes. In fact, it became a regular thing with some Presiding Officers, whenever an elector’s name was not thoroughly understood to be British, to deposit his vote, not in the ballotbox, but in an envelope. If these persons felt aggrieved, they had either to send in a statement declaring their loyalty, or to appear before two magistrates to prove that they were loyal citizens of Australia. Some of the men who had volunteered for service at the front had actually to vote under section 9 of the Act, and to prevent themselves being declared disloyal had afterwards to appear before a tribunal, or to send in a statement which would satisfy the Bench. In this connexion, I recall the ease of three brothers. One of them voted at a certain polling booth, and the others at another polling booth. Ohe of them had his vote put into an envelope, but the votes of the others were not interfered with. I know of families in Brisbane who would not have recorded their votes if they had been obliged to answer questions; but they were not. Probably they were known to the Presiding Officers. I intend to quote a few of these cases, because it is only right that they should appear in Hansard, and that everybody should know exactly what was done. In the Brisbane Courier of 24tu November, the following paragraph was published : -
Nanango, November 23. Messrs. A. B. Gibson, P.M., and Wm. Horsfall, J. P., formed a Tribunal Court to-day in connexion with Section 9 votes at the recent referendum. Altogether 129 votes were examined, all of which were marked loyal.
Now, Nanango is a district in which there is a large agricultural settlement.
– It contains a considerable number of Germans who came across from other settlements which they had established some years before. The most .peculiar thing about that settlement is that it recorded a “ Yes “ majority in spite of the fact that the Minister for Defence sneers at it as a German settlement. Let me quote again the Government organ, the Melbourne Argus. I call it that because many of us have in the past associated it with the Liberal party only, but in the future we shall have to regard it as the organ of the “National” party. The following appeared in its issue of 15th November : -
Shepparton, Tuesday. - Messrs. F. W. Fair and C- Palling, J.P.’s, sat this morning as a tribunal under section 9 of the Military Service Referendum Act to determine whether certain voters whose votes were marked by the presiding officers on 28th October were or were not loyal. Edward Charles Borghese, orchardist and farmer, No. 2 Shepparton Closer Settlement, stated that he was born in France of British parents, who were married by a Church of .England clergyman. Senior Constable W. J. Corry, who appeared for the police, stated that Mr. Borghese had a document signed by the Governor-General of .South. Africa acknowledging valuable services rendered by him about 18 months ago in the British advance in German East Africa. Mrs. Janet Smith, of Shepparton, said that she was born in Victoria, her parents being Scotch. The Bench remarked that a mistake had been made in this case, and the police concurred, it being evident that the wrong woman had been summoned to appear. Stanley Oswald Jaques, orchardist, No. 1 Shepparton Closer Settlement, said that he was born in Australia. His mother was an Australian, while his father was born in .England.
It does not seem to matter whether you or your parents were born in England or anywhere else. If the presiding officer thinks your name is not exactly correct you become a number niner.
Charles Wilson, carpenter, a Norwegian;’ Charles Gustaf Collander, of No. 2 Shepparton Closer Settlement, a Russian Finn; Ludwig Truisen Valle, carpenter, a Norwegian, for 40 years a resident in Australia; three Frenchmen who are well-known residents; and others, including a Chinese fruiterer, were also called, and no objection was taken to any of them. In the case of Phillip Miller, coachbuilder, who was born at FrankfortontheMain, Mr. W. McLure Abernethy, who appeared for Miller, said that his client had never at any time uttered or done anything disloyal. He bad subscribed to the war loan and to funds for patriotic purposes. No objection was taken in this and in the other cases heard.
The following letter appeared in the same paper -
Sir, - I am a British subject, born in London of an English mother and a father (now dead) who left Germany in his childhood. I am a colonist of 29 years, most of the time spent in Victoria as a farmer, yet I am first insulted in the polling-booth, and now I receive an insulting notice to show cause in a Court of Petty Sessions as though I was an enemy or a rebel. I have a brother an officer in the military camp in Sydney, and my wife (born in South Melbourne) has a brother in the firing line in France. She was treated in a like manner to me. We boast of the freedom and liberty of our institutions. Is this not in danger of becoming just a mock phrase? - Yours, &c,
Those are the things we want to know about. They are administration.
– Yes, under misrepresentation from the honorable senator.
– Too thin !
– I am quite willing to state my position if the honorable senator cares to state his own. Another case from the Daily Standard of 16th November - not a Government organ - is as follows : -
Australian Natives’ Votes Objected to. objectors curtly dismissed.
Busy Farmers Taken from Harvesting,
A tribunal under the Referendum Act was held at the Court House here this morning. In all 189 persons of both sexes were called upon to, if they chose, refute the accusation or disloyalty. In order that no mistake may be made as to the offensive nature of the document issued to those people, it is produced hereunder.
I shall not read that notice yet -
The above notice was issued from the clerk of petty session’s office under date 7th November, and some of them could not possibly have reached addressees in country parts, who were busy harvesting or preparing to help their neighbours some miles away from their own particular post-office. A keen interest was taken in the matter, and the news circulated, not with the intention of validating the votes, but of refuting the insinuation of disloyalty by many who have given and are still giving their time and labour to the forwarding of every movement in aid of our soldiers at the front as well as of our returned heroes. Statutory declarations were handed in by many who were justly indignant at the wholesale and indiscriminate issue of such a notice, and a large number who had travelled many miles were personally present at the appointed time at great inconvenience and expense to themselves. They were surprised, and naturally so, when they were informed, without any further explanation, that their attendance was not further necessary. A few strongly expressed the opinion that as they are supposed to obey the law its administrators should reciprocate by giving them a hearing. Interviewed afterwards the presiding justice said that there was no evidence of disloyalty in any of the cases, and, consequently, no necessity to investigate any of them.
That is a nice little case.The Minister for Defence sent out notices to all the camps telling farmers that they would have what labour they required for their harvest, and yet the Government dragged them away from the fields to , prove their loyalty, and when they came before the Courts they were told, “ You’re all right. We know all about you. You can go away and your vote will be allowed.”
– The honorable senator can sneer as much as he likes, but in those districts there are people who are better Australians, in my opinion, than the honorable senator himself. T shall tell him that, although many of them have given sons to the war, the Minister sneers at them when it becomes a question of going up to exercise their citizen rights. The district of Pittsworth voted “ Yes” by a very big majority. I suppose the Minister for Defence is put out because it gave a majority of over 100 for “ Yes.”
– The challenged votes were not counted in that, and you know it. They were counted afterwards.
– How would they go. Do you know ?
– I do not know. They were not in that majority, anyhow.
– I am not sure when they were counted.
– When are you going to touch on the war ?
– When is the honorable senator going to do some more gymnastic tricks up and down the other side of the chamber? We want to hear him cooeeing again. One paper said the honorable senator could be heard in Victoriaparade the other day when addressing a meeting at the Trades Hall. Here is a specimen of the notices issued -
Commonwealth of Australia.
The Military Service Referendum Act 1916.
Notification to a person whose ballot-paper has been indorsed “ Section 9 “ under the provision of the Military Service Referendum Act 1916.
To Hilda Fanny Rachel Schoenheimer,
Lytton-road and Heath-street,
You are hereby notified thatyou will be afforded an opportunity of showing cause to two of His Majesty’s Justices of the Peace, sitting as a prescribed tribunal under the Military Service Referendum Act 1916, why the vote recorded by you at the referendum held under the provisions of the said Act should not be rejected on the ground that you are disloyal.
You may, if you so desire, appear before the said tribunal at the Council Chambers of South Brisbane on the 15th day of November, 1916, at the hour of ten o’clock in the forenoon, to show cause as aforesaid, or forward for consideration a statutory declaration as to any facts relevant to the question before the tribunal so as to reach it before the time abovementioned at the place aforesaid.
Senior Police Officer of South Brisbane. 6th November, 1916.
This lady is the daughter of a man who was born in Germany, and. has been naturalized in Australia for many years. I never heard a word against him as a citizen. His son had been at the front for seventeen months. He did not claim his right to vote, because he said he felt so disgusted that he would not “take it on.” This section was used to chase scores of people away from the ballot-box.
– Are the electors of Boothby now questioning the loyalty of Mr. George Dankel, M.H.R. ?
– Our friends do not mind the support of all the Germans they can get. I met this man in Brisbane the day before I left. He happened to have this paper in his pocket, and told me he was going to frame it. His son, as I have said, had been at the front for seventeen months, and the boy’s sister, who, likewise, was born in Australia, was also told to go up and prove her loyalty. He was so disgusted with the whole thing that he advised her to have nothing more to do with it, so this young woman, an Australian born, and with not a solitary word against her loyalty, had her vote disallowed on the ground of disloyalty.
– How many Germans voted in Queensland?
– I do not know, but I would like to know how many are in the Government party. The honorable senator is prepared to have the assistance of any Germans to keep him in his present position. It is only about twelve or eighteen months ago that I heard Senator Pearce in this chamber become righteously indignant in his denial of some unscrupulous scoundrel, as he said, who had gone about the country declaring that his wife was a German. Senator Pearce was quite right to be indignant concerning a rumour of that kind, but I would remind him’ that there are other people with relatives. I want to know why my daughter was branded in this way when she went to record her vote on 28th October. I was astounded on the Saturday evening when I heard of the incident. She has been married for about fifteen months, and when she went to record her vote she was properly indignant at having her vote enclosed in an envelope, instead of being allowed to deposit it in the ballot-box. She said to me, ‘ ‘ What does this mean ? I have never been treated in this way before.” I tried to explain the position to her. Naturally she was very much put out, and she asked me what she should do. In reply, I said, “ The best thing you can do, if you do not wish to appear at the Court-, is to send in a statement when you receive the notice regarding the appeal.” She followed my advice, and forwarded the following statement to the Court: -
Sir,- Your favour of the 6th, calling on me to show cause why the vote recorded by me at the polling booth at Mowbray Park on October 28th should not be rejected, on the ground of my disloyalty, is to hand. It is hard to know how to prove one’s loyalty except through one’s birthplace and one’s associations. I was born at Raymond-terrace, South Brisbane. I am the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Turley, who both advise me that they were - born in the county of Gloucester, England, and whose forefathers, as far as they know of, or have heard, were also born in that country. At the time of my birth my father was one of the members for Brisbane South in the Legislative Assembly of Queensland, and at present is a member of the Senate of the Federal Parliament, having been elected by the electors of Queensland to represent them.
Ihave never been outside Australia. I have no known relatives, acquaintances, or friends in any enemy country, nor have I communicated with any person in any enemy country.
I was married on October 28th, 1915, to Mr. Martin WilliamRumpf, who is one of the second generation of Queensland-born natives of this family. If this action constitutes disloyalty in the opinion of the Bench, I must abide by the verdict, otherwise I know of no other reason why my loyalty to my native country and to the British Empire should be questioned.
I make this declaration believing the statement to be true and subject to the Oaths Act of Queensland.
Declared before me this 14th day of November, 1916- John Huxham, J.P.
– Yes, what about the war? “Never mind the prostitution of the ballot-box,” says the honorable senator, but “what about the war?” Never mind the fact that the Government by their action drove hundreds of people away from the polling booths, and prevented them from exercising their citizenship rights. “What about the war ?” he asks.
– But was not that regulation passed under an Act approved of by this Senate?
– I venture to say that no member of the Senate believed for a moment that the legislation referred to would have been administered in the manner that it has been by the Government. It appears that it did not matter whether the people affected by the regulation were natives of Australia or natives of” allied countries. So long as it was thought that they would vote against the enslavement of the workers of this country they were not to be allowed to vote.
– The honorable senator is only parading his ignorance of the Act.
– I am quite satisfied to hold my own opinion, and I am not going to take any notice of the honorable senator. If I had intended to do that, I would have taken notice of him when he was prancing up and ‘down on the other side of the chamber. No member of this Senate, or at least no member of the party to which I belong - and I believe I can alsoinclude some members of the Liberal party - dreamed for a moment when they passed the Act referred to that it would be administered in such a manner as toplace obstacles in the way of people recording their votes. The young man and his wife to whom I have referred had to vote under section 9, and to appear before the Court. On the bench were two magistrates, one of whom knew the man, and when the case was called upon his colleague asked, “ What about this case?” The other magistrate laughed, and said, “Disloyalty! I do not know the reason for this action. I have known these people ever since they were so high, and there can be no question of disloyalty regarding them.” In the case of my daughter, the letter which she sent to the Bench was not Tead right through. As soon as the Court official started to read it the magistrate interrupted with the remark, “ There is no question of disloyalty here.” At the same time, however, an indignity was put upon her, as also upon a number of other people in Australia, and that indignity will never be forgotten. I want now to say something concerning this new recruiting campaign.
– You are getting closer now.
– Oh ! the honorable senator need not worry. I am coming along quietly. I want to correct a misstatement made by the Minister concerning this campaign. When Senator Millen was speaking the other day - his statement appears on page 9267 of Hansard - he said -
If there is no alternative it is far better to tell the people plainly than to go on trying to fool them with the idea that effective measures are in operation to insure success with the scheme.
– But honorable senators over there say they can get recruits under the voluntary system. The Ministerial statement is quite clear.
– What is quite clear?
– We say that we think wo cannot get the reinforcements by this scheme; but there is the machinery, and we look to members of Parliament to help in putting it into operation.
– Let me remind the Minister of the statement which appears in the paper laid on the table concerning this scheme -
It seems hopeless-
The scheme itself appears to be recommended in a spirit of hopelessness - to expect that we can by the voluntary enlistment raise 16,500 men per month; but we propose to do the utmost that voluntary enlistment is capable of.
It may be, as Senator Lynch has suggested, that the only thing to do at present is to go ahead with this proposal; but I do say it is a tremendous responsibility to allow the people to think for a moment that it will meet the difficulty.
– We say distinctly that we do not think so, but honorable senators on the’ other side have said they oan make it a success.
The interjection by the Minister was quite inaccurate. No members of this party have said that they could make the voluntary system such a success as to produce 16,500 men a month, although we have the interjection by the Minister to that effect. It is not right that such a statement should go out without contradiction, because if we do not challenge the interjection the people will believe that it is true.
– You declared that the voluntary system had failed.
– Senator Bakhap will have an opportunity to explain the position later on. I do not believe that this country will do its utmost whilst the present Government control its destinies. I am prepared to do what I can to assist in the matter of voluntary recruiting, but I believe that the Government have killed all chance of getting the best results from voluntary recruiting in Australia. I do not want my attitude to be misunderstood, and I repeat that I am prepared to do what I can . to assist voluntary recruiting in the State I represent.
– I should like the honorable senator to make it clear whether his objection is against the scheme itself, or that he thinks the scheme will prove insufficient because the present Government, are in office.
– I think, in the first place, that it is impossible, under any scheme, to secure 16,500 fit men per month in Australia as reinforcements. I also think that the fact that the present Government are at the back of the scheme will make it a greater failure than it would otherwise be.
– Does the honorable senator mean that if we had another Government we should be able to get the required number of reinforcements ?
– No; I do not believe that Australia can produce the number proposed, and I say, further, that we should be able to get, under another Government, a larger number than we shall be able to get under the present Government. What is it that we are being asked to do? We are being asked to go to the young men who have been branded with disloyalty at the ballot-box; to men who volunteered months ago and were turned down and told that, because they had a German name, or their parents came from Germany, they were not fit to form part of an Australian Army; to men who have been called slackers, shirkers, traitors, cold-footers, friends of the Kaiser, pro- Germans; men who are to be rewarded with iron crosses, and men who have been receiving German money; and we are to appeal to them to enlist now, because the Government are in a hole, and do not know what else to do. I want to know how we can hope for very great success in these circumstances? Whilst I a*m prepared to give what assistance I can to obtain recruits, in common with Senator Millen, I think there is not much enthusiasm in the business. The new organization proposed is only a re-hash of the old organization, very much as the present Hughes Government is a re-hash of the Hughes Government of the month before last. There is a difference between the Governments, however, and it is that one was a free Government, and the other is eating out of the hands of Mr. Joseph Cook and his colleagues.
– There is another difference, and it is that the honorable senator could not speak too highly of the last Government.
– I must resent that. If Senator Millen will search the pages of Hansard, he will find that recently I have very seldom spoken at all, and never, as a matter of fact, in terms of great admiration of the Government.
– The honorable senator’s most eloquent speeches are represented by the appearance of his name in division lists in support of the Government.
– The honorable senator may be right there; but his interjection was that I could not speak too highly of the Government, whilst, as a matter of fact, I did not say much about them, because I was not able on many occasions to get up and say what I thought would have been the best thing to say in the circumstances.
– The honorable senator was like the parrot - he thought a lot.
– Yes, I did; and it is not a bad thing to do. If some Ministers would think more, and say less through the newspapers, it would be a good thing for their Departments. It has been almost the only way in which members of Parliament have been able to get information; but it is a fact that, within the last month or so, Ministers have been continually speaking through the newspapers.
– When honorable senators got their orders from the Trades Hall, they had to shift themselves.
– We did not get any orders from the Trades Hall, and I remind the honorable senator that he was a member of the Labour party then. I have seen the same kind of thing occur on many occasions. Senator Lynch now talks about “ the junta,” but when he was controlling the junta it was all right. It was a most admirable institution, and the best organization that was ever contrived, while he was kept in. his position by it, but when, of his own accord, the honorable senator left the junta, and did not want to have anything more to do with it, we find him speaking of it as the “ secret junta,” that is, issuing orders to every one but himself.
– Does the honorable senator not think that, when a man has been kicked out, it is rather rubbing it in to say that he left of his own accord?
– Was Senator Lynch kicked out ? I have no evidence of that. All the evidence I have is that, when the Right Hon. W. M. Hughes got up at the Caucus meeting, and, without knowing the opinion of the party at all, walked out of the room like the Pied Piper, with all his children following him, Senator Lynch got up obediently and walked out with him. I do not know what tune the right honorable gentleman was playing, but Senator Lynch followed him out of the door of his own accord, and he now says that he was turned out of the party. He was not turned out of the party.
– I was.
– The honorable senator left the party deliberately. There is nothing new about such a thing. We have had a number of such cases in Queensland. We are not worrying about the severance between honorable senators opposite and ourselves. We had numbers of people in Queensland taken, if not out of. the gutter, out of the workshop and the mine, and put into important positions as a result of the sacrifices and efforts of the workers in that State, and after they had felt their feet, they kicked down the ladder by which they had risen and showed that they cared nothing about those who had put them in their positions. In Queensland we have had men turning round upon us time after time, but the party always came again. Mr. Kidston was one who went back upon the party. We had a party numbering thirty-five in the Queensland Legislative Assembly at one time. Not long afterwards men went back upon us, and the Labour party returned to the Legislative Assembly only seventeen strong. Yet to-day it controls the destinies of the State, and the Labour party is going to do exactly the same thing in the Federal arena. By the way, we are becoming eminently respectable. When the Labour programme has to be announced now, the announcement is made at a Lord Mayor’s dinner, but goodness knows where it will be announced next. It may be at Buckingham Palace, but so far we have only reached a Lord Mayor’s dinner at the Melbourne Town Hall.
– Is the honorable senator coming to the war?
– Is the honorable senator going?
– Perhaps the honorable senator has some grievance of the Dog and Poultry Society!
– I notice that “ Poor Dog Tray ‘ “ sits on the Treasury bench now. Senator Needham said a good deal about the speech of the Prime Minister at this celebrated gathering, hut I wish to refer to a special statement. I find from the Government organ, the Argus, of 10th November, that at, the Lord Mayor’s dinner, in the Melbourne Town Hall, the Prime Minister said -
It is perfectly plain that there is in this country a number of persons who are opposed to this war, who are against the Empire, and who will do all they can to prevent Australia doing her duty as a part of the Empire. The effect of the referendum has been to encourage them to advocate openly what they previously advocated in secret. The strikes and upheavals, political and industrial, we see around us, are the manifestations of a deliberate policy by which they aim at destroying society as it now exists. Those upheavals are the work of men who, calling themselves by many names or by no name, are, in effect, anarchists; and assisting them, for their own purposes, are certain sections who are, as I have said, against the Empire. This is the situation with which Australia is faced.
I want to deal with that. We are told that all the industrial and political upheavals we see around us are the work of anarchists. Does this apply to the coal miners who have just gone back to work - to the thousands of men in the coal industry who came out of the northern, southern, and western mining fields of New South Wales? Does it apply to the men who came out of the coal mines of Queensland and to the men who came out of Wonthaggi? Honorable senators opposite evidently think that it is all right because the men at Collie did not come out; because they remained in whilst all the miners engaged in the industry in the eastern States did come out. It applies to every man who finds that he is not working under congenial conditions in any industry. It applies to all the unionists in Australia who are demanding better conditions even though this may be a time of war. It applies to the men on our coasts who have already submitted for consideration a new log. It applies to the men working in our, rural industries who are asking for fair conditions. They are all branded by the Right Honorable W. M. Hughes as anarchists and enemies of the Empire, because they dared at a tim’e like this to ask for some consideration from an economic stand-point.
– Can you tell us how the Queensland miners voted on the question?
– On what question?
– On the question of returning to work.
– I can tell the honorable senator that they have gone back to work, and I can tell him also that they stood out with their mates, which I have always been told is a good thing to do in unionism. Whether the honorable senator is prepared to go back upon that now, and upon every principle that he ever advocated, does not concern me. I say that no man who applies such terms to the workers of Australia is fit to hold the high position of Prime Minister of this Commonwealth. Senator Pearce also made a speech at the Lord Mayor’s banquet.
– There appears to have been quite a number of respectable citizens there.
– But I did not see the name of the honorable senator figuring as one who was there. Senator Pearce said -
Whilst they regretted the result of the referendum, one of the most regrettable features was that, while there was not the slightest doubt that there had been the vote to which the Prime Minister referred, there had been another vote also - the vote of those who put their selfish business interests and property interests before the interests of the nation. (Cheers.) If they analyzed “the voting closely, and took the country electorates and some of the town electorates, they would see the selfishness that put self-interest in business, farm and dairy, before the interests of the country. That selfish disloyalty was the worst disloyalty of all.
These are the people to whom we are being asked to go to-day in order that we may invite them to enlist in the army of Australia to protect this country and the Empire. I have said that I am prepared to . do my share. I intend to ask those to whom I am going to appeal to do what they can in the present crisis, and afterwards, to deal with those who have practically sold them as though they were bullocks in the market. That is the position which I intend to occupy regarding this matter. There is another reason why the Government are asking that we should go out and do all this work, and it comes from Senator Lynch. According to another Government organ, the Age, of the 28th November last, at Warracknabeal, Senator Lynch - dealt trenchantly with the opponents of national service at the referendum. The party to which he belonged was sustained by the patriotic vote recorded, and would use its best endeavour to right the wrong done by men who had the truth in their hearts while the lie was on their lips.
These are the men to whom the honorable senator and his colleagues now say, “ Go out and try to get us out of this hole if you possibly can “ - the men with the lie on their lips and the truth in their hearts. Do not the Government in the statement which is under consideration now, does not even the Minister for Defence in the statement which I read out, practically make that deposition? I am prepared to do what I can in this regard; t>ut I do not want my attitude to be misunderstood or misrepresented afterwards.
– Do you say that I said that?
– No. I say that that is the report of a newspaper which is a Government organ now.
– I never thought that I was so mild.
– The honorable senator is quite right; it may be that.
– And a downright fact it is; and you know it.
– All the encouragement in the world is being held out to men to go out and do work on behalf of this country in the present crisis. Yet that is the way in which they are branded, just like the men who are going to be appealed to. The slackers, the shirkers, the friends of the Kaiser, the men who are going to wear iron crosses, are to be asked to come up and enlist now, and do their duty.
– They have been appealed to on parade grounds. Who expects them to respond now?
– Who are going to respond - all those who voted “ Yes “ ? What an enormous army we shall have, about 1,000,000. What a splendid thing it will be. We shall be able to pick ourselves up, and the honorable senator will be able to go out and wave flags, and do all that sort of thing; and people will say, “ Look at the senator for Tasmania. See how he is able to show his patriotism.” That is not the sort of thing which is going to tell in this campaign.
– I have never yet asked one man to go to the war, because I know that the voluntary system is an inequitable one.
– The honorable senator for Tasmania has done wonderful work. According to the Government organ of this morning, a man who came from Western Australia says that Western Australia has not only provided its share of recruits, but has also provided all the recruits whom South Australia was not able to supply. Every State is making a lot of noise about what it has done. I am not ashamed of what the State I live in has done. I have heard around me pessimistic remarks regarding the future of Labour. I do not share that view. I have been in the Labour movement too long, and seen too many ups and downs to be pessimistic. I have known the Labour movement when it was very email, and I have known it when it was very big. I remember various occasions when those who were leading the Labour movement went back upon it,” just as some of its former leaders are doing now. I have seen the Labour movement sold time and again; but the tide has always been with the movement, and it will come again and again. Why? Because we know very well that the economic conditions in society to-day must be altered, and the only force that is able to alter them is that of Labour represented by the men and the women who are carrying on the industries of the country. That is the reason why I, at least, am not a pessimist regarding the Labour movement. One more quotation from Mr. Hughes at the Lord Mayor’s banquet, and I am done -
I think that the record of the Ministry which I have the honour to lead is one which has earned the commendations of a very large section of the people. of Australia; and along the lines of that policy we intend to proceed. We believe that the bulk of the” people of Australia desire such a policy, and so long as we are permitted to give effect to it we shall carry on.
– Permitted by whom?
– One would not like to say by whom at the Lord Mayor’s banquet -
When we find that to be impossible, we shall appeal to the people. (Loud cheers.) And we shall appeal to the people in such a way that not a section of the Parliament, but the whole Parliament, will come before them.
I, for one, will give to Ministers all the assistance I possibly can to get to the people at the earliest possible opportunity.
– The whole Parliament?
– Yes. I have never shirked that responsibility, and the honorable senator knows very well that when the double dissolution was proposed I was in favour of it. I did not mince matters then. I told every honorable senator with whom I came in contact that it was of no use to try to shun the issue. I pointed out that the only way of clearing up the situation was by everybody going to the country. A similar condition exists now. I believe that this Parliament will not stand well in the eyes of the people until it has been sent to the country, and the electors have had an opportunity to send back those who they think are fit to represent them. Then we shall, in my opinion, have a better response in connexion with not only recruiting, but many other things.
.- I do not intend to speak at any great length on this motion,becauseI feel that honorable senators have already well nigh exhausted what has to be said. I congratulate Senator Turley on the excellent address which he has delivered. I would not care to allow the opportunity to pass without making my position clear, and without striking a note in regard to the existing situation as it appeals to my mind. The present Government cannot possibly assert themselves as a governing force in this Parliament. They must necessarily depend upon those who are in disagreement with their policy, and confine themselves to one matter only, and that is the prosecution of the war. In that regard, there can be no dissension, nor can a dissentient voice on that subject be heard in this chamber.
– Question !
– Notwithstanding all that has been said by advocates of conscription, the fact remains that there has yet to be found in the Senate, or the other pla’ce, one man who has by word or inference shown that he was callous or indifferent to the prosecution of the war.
– Ask Senator Perricks that question.
– I am not prepared now to analyze any statements which have been made, but I have never heard or read in Hansard any speeches delivered here which would lead me to believe that any honorable senator was indifferent to the prosecution of the war, or was prepared to cease hostilities against our common enemy. Otherwise I would consider that this Parliament should make every effort to have that honorable senator removed from the precincts of the chamber. I take up that position definitely, and say that all that has been pitted against honorable senators has been uttered in a spirit of hostility and bitterness, and with political purposes in view. That being so, we have to consider our position in the circumstances in which we are placed. As one who has been interested in the recruiting system from the very commencement, I say that the present Ministry alone are responsible for the position which has been created in regard to our part in the war. Up to the time when Mr. Hughes arrived in Australia, there was not the slightest jarring note in connexion with the work that was being done. The members of both parties were identified with the one object of prosecuting the war, and we stood side by side on the same platforms throughout the country. There was a harmonious note, and recruits were rallying to the standard. Right up to the end of December last, we had shown our recruiting system to be equalto every demand. During the three months ending September last, we had enlisted over 21,000 recruits, whereas our casualties for the same period were given as 26,500, and we were told that out of that number 9,500 had returned to the firing line, having been slightly wounded.
– You are altogether out.
– That statement was made by Mr. Finlayson.
– It was absolutely incorrect.
– It was given as a statement which had been received officially.
– It was not received officially.
– I shall be obliged to the Minister if he will make any correction which is needed. I believe that statement to be true.
– There were 19,900 casualties in one month - September.
– Up to the end of September last, the casualties for the whole period of the war were 68,403.
– During part of that period there was only one division in the field.
– The statement has been made that, for the three months ending September last, the casualties numbered 26,500. The enlistments during that period numbered 21,000. As it was only necessary to supply the gaps caused by 17,000 casualties, we thus had a surplus above the number required for reinforcements. These figures, it must be remembered, relate to the worst period of the war when our losses were heavier than they were at any other period. I say that the bitterness and malice imported into the conscription controversy during those three months mitigated the success that would otherwise have attended our efforts under the voluntary system. When we despatched our first troops overseas we did nothing more than pledge ourselves to assist the Mother Country.
– Was not that obligation more definitely stated last November? ;
– Whatever obligation may have subsequently been stated was due to the fact that greater success had attended our efforts than had ever been anticipated. Whatever promises were afterwards made arose from the circumstance that we had a certain number of men upon whom we could draw. The Prime Minister, by pledging Australia to supply an additional 50,000 men, created a position which rendered it impossible for us to redeem his promise. The demand for reinforcements to the extent of 16,500 monthly came as a shock to everybody who was zealously engaged in recruiting. Nobody ever dreamed that we could furnish that number of men. Nor has it been shown by the Prime Minister, or by anybody else, that there is any need for us to do so. Personally, I never could see why it was necessary for us to supply 16,500 reinforcements monthly for an army of 100,000, especially as one division of that army has not yet taken the field. We know now that the proposal emanated from the Imperial Army Council, which, naturally, is imbued with the idea of securing as many men as possible. The referendum has shown that the people of Australia will not submit to compulsion in regard to- any service that they may render the Empire in this titanic struggle. As the result of the popular vote, anti-conscriptionists have had to bear the odium of being designated pro-Germans, and of having applied to them all the epithets enumerated by Senator Turley. We have had to forfeit the sympathy of many friends who have stood loyally by us throughout our political careers. I am happy to think that much of the bitterness which has been engendered by the struggle will soon pass away. That is one of the bright spots in our political life. But the difficulty which has been created is a serious one. We have had to show the people how Australia stands from the view-point of numbers and territory in relation to the British Empire and to other Dominions. Now we have to make a whole-hearted appeal to men to volunteer for service at the front. Our position has been made very difficult for us by our opponents. In my judgment, the true a patriot will be the man who refused to fs advocate a policy of conscription, but who :<j is yet prepared to appeal to the people to “ voluntarily offer themselves for service. Personally, I am prepared to play my part now, as formerly. No action on the part of any Government could diminish my love for my country, or my desire to successfully prosecute the war against the foe we are fighting. Whatever has been done during the recent political crisis will not in any way affect my position in regard to the prosecution of the war. I yield to no man in my love of country and to the Empire to which I belong. I trust that a great deal of the heat which has been engendered in consequence of the conscription controversy will quickly disappear. Some reference has been made to the industrial strife which occurred during this critical period, and a great deal has been said concerning the coal miners who demanded an eight-hours’ day from bank to bank. As one who represents -that great constituency of workers, I feel that a good deal of misrepresentation has arisen, and much calumny and bitterness have been evoked, by our friends opposite towards these toilers, who merely took up a position which had been forced upon them owing to the difficulties of their calling. The Government are vested with every power requisite for the maintenance of the industrial life of this country, and must, therefore, bear a large share of the responsibility for the cessation of work which occurred for a whole month. A full month was allowed to elapse notwithstanding that the Government had power to command the coal-owners to open their mines and to keep them open pending a final settlement of the difficulty. Had the Government exercised the sovereign power which they possess they would have conferred a great boon on the people of Australia. Here we are on the eve of Christmas, and as a result of the Ministry’s inaction a big cloud will naturally hang over us during the holidays, and for many months to come. I am aware that the miners have been chiefly blamed for the position in which we recently found ourselves. But for twenty years they have been vainly endeavouring to obtain redress. They have appealed to the State and Federal Governments, and they have used the weapon of the strike in their determination to enforce the eight-hours principle. The worst part of the day’s work, in many instances, consisted in getting to and from the scene of their labours. Many of them had to walk in low workings for long distances besides having to work in a most unhealthy atmosphere. If the workings of a’ mine were 3 or 4 miles distant from the pit’s mouth, the men had to walk that distance to their work, so that it will be seen that their disability was one which increased year by year. I repeat that a crisis having arisen in the coal mining industry, the Government should have exercised their powers rather than have allowed a judicial authority to intervene in the way that they did.
– For what purpose are arbitration tribunals instituted?
– As I have already said, the men have been agitating this question for twenty years. It was known to the Government and to the people of this country that they were subjected to .these hardships, and that they were working under conditions which ought not to be tolerated by a civilized community. In these circumstances, the miners had a right to the protection of the Legislature. It was most unfortunate that Parliament was not sitting when the strike occurred, otherwise I do not think that it would have countenanced the holding up of an industry by the colliery proprietors, whose only purpose was to increase their profits. They should have been compelled to open their mines and to allow the men to work under reasonable conditions. It has been suggested that the Government might have resumed the mines. There is abundant precedent for this. We know that in the Old Country the mines have been commandeered for the public good, and the Commonwealth Government would have been justified in following a similar course to insure the public weal and safety. The miners having created a certain position, and having had conceded to them what they demanded, the incident ends there so far as they are concerned.
– Could not the Prime Minister have done at first what the tribunal did afterwards?
– Undoubtedly the Prime Minister had it within his power to do exactly what, after the commencement of the strike, was done by Judge Edmunds.
– Does the honorable senator claim that the nationalization of mines would totally prevent strikes?
– Whether the mines are in the possession of the Government or private individuals, unless they are worked under fair conditions that will give the worker that to which he is justly entitled, you will never have peace.
– If the Legislature did not give miners in a nationalized mine, at any time, what they demanded, what would happen?
– The same thing would happen if their claims were just. The miners have never refused arbitration; their difficulty was to obtain it, but they never had the .opportunity. When these stoppages occur, there seems to be nothing but consternation in our Arbitration Courts. When you appeal to them, a promise is made that if you go back to work a Court will be established, whereas the Court ought to be in working order. When weaknesses are made known, there should be some way of appeal and some remedy for the evil.
– What was the attitude of the Prime Minister when you were president of the miners of New South Wales during the previous trouble ? Did he not say the eight hours bank to bank was fair?
– On every occasion when we have had a deputation to the Government, we have had an open admission that they considered the miners’ claims to eight hours perfectly justified.
– Did the Prime Minister indorse that?
- Mr. Hughes has repeatedly said that eight hours from bank to bank was a fair day’s work for any man.
– Did not the Prime Minister also ask Mr. Wade to take over the mines when the previous trouble occurred in Newcastle?
– I believe so.
– Did you ever know the Prime Minister to say anything contrary to eight hours in the mines?
– I am not going to accuse the Prime Minister of being out of sympathy with the principle itself, but I accuse the Government of lethargy, and assert that they have lost a golden opportunity. With the Prime Minister it was a case of not being in a position to assert himself. That is what caused us to wait a month to get justice. In crises of this kind, the Government should be the sole arbiter, and should have determined the issue. Mr. Hughes knew perfectly well that what the men were asking for was just and equitable. It was simply that he did not want to act, but preferred to allow an Arbitration Court Judge to decide the matter for him. That would have’ been all right if the industries of the country were not being held up.
– The Government commandeered the coal, but would not commandeer the mines.
– That was a glaring inconsistency on their part. They were perfectly within their rights in commandeering the coal, but it was equally within their power to commandeer the mines. If they had done that, it would have, been one of the greatest lessons that could have been taught to the proprietors of industries. During the big strike of 1909-10, when the miners tried to,, work some mines to save their women and children from starvation, the Government commandeered the coal they produced, paying them only a nominal price for it, although they could have got in the open market four or five times as much, proving conclusively that in any crisis in which the public interest is involved the Government have the power to intervene, and ought to exercise it for the benefit of the public.
– Must the Government always give way to the clamour of those who say they are unjustly treated,and take it for granted that they are unjustly treated?
– The Government knew perfectly well that these men were being unjustly treated. There is no man in the present Ministry who was not conversant with the justice of the claim of the miners. If a vote of the people had been taken on the question, apart from the strike, or the cessation of work that had taken place, they would have agreed by a large majority that the miners’ work begins when he leaves the bright sunshine and enters the darksome mine, and not after he has travelled for an hour, to reach the face in such a state of perspiration and ‘ exhaustion that he has to sit down for five or ten minutes before he can begin his work. Stripped to the waist, he has to work at the face like a beast of burden, and when he finishes his shift, he is in such a state of exhaustion that he often has to rest before he can begin the journey to the surface. Many of the miners, after they reach the surface, have to wait an hour before they can get a train back to their homes, distant anything from 7 to 15 miles. Considering the adversities of the miner, the uncertainties of his employment, the dangers to which he is subjected, and the way in which he has to speed up in his work in order to live, no sane man in the community would deny that if eight hours’ labour is to be recognised as a principle in Australia, the first man that ought to be considered is the man who goes underground to dig for that which the community demands to carry on its industries. A great deal of sympathy is felt for the mining community, and I very much regret that the Government did not put into action the machinery at its command to prevent the dire calamity which befell Australia. The conditions created threaten the very future of our industrial life. We have no right to sit down quietly and wait until the pressure is so great that the community has perforce to yield to the claim made, even though that claim is unjust. It only requires a certain power of organization to force any position so far as . the social and civil life of the community is concerned. It ought to be the province of the Government to forestall any act of violence or any pressure that would compel a surrender to whatever claims ‘ are made. I am not one of those who believe that -the purpose of organization is to exercise that amount of pressure which will command obedience to its demands.
– That organization can enforce unjust as well as just demands.
– I am perfectly well aware that organized labour can become the same despotic power that organized capital can become in a community, and that we are just as much likely to suffer from one kind of pressure as the other. It is the duty of the Government to create a condition of affairs that will prevent either becoming necessary.-
– What do you think the Government should have done?
– They should have issued a proclamation, which would have been more worthy of them than the one calling up the manhood of the country before the people said they were to go oversea. I sent an urgent wire to Mr. Hughes on the 10th November, drawing his attention to the seriousness of the situation and urging the temporary taking over of the mines pending a settlement of the difficulty. I received an acknowledgment of the telegram, but nothing further came of it. Other overtures were made to him along simila’r lines, but he absolutely refused. I am told that he said he would not take it on even for a million.
– What evidence have you of that?
– None:; but the district president told me, and I know he would not willingly tell me a lie,
– Why did you not advocate that when you were sitting on this side with a Government in front of you ?
– The position had not arisen. The policy of the Labour party is the nationalization of coal mines, and it was unnecessary therefore for me to raise the question. That is the policy I was elected on, and the platform on which I stand.
– Then you say it was your duty to be silent after you came here?
– It was no more my duty to bring it forward than it was the duty of the honorable senator. I have been in this Chamber for two years; he has been here for twelve. Has he ever raised here the question of the nationalization of coal mines?
– You. came here as the president of the Coal Miners Union. Senator WATSON. - I did, and the honorable senator was a miner in the district from which I came. I have no doubt he owes his present position to many of the same friends as I claim. That being so, ‘he was just as much under an obligation to bring the matter forward as I was.
– Do not you think you are a hit late now?
– No ; the public have been taught the need for the nationalization of the coal mines by a lesson which they will never forget.
– And’ the miners have got the eight hours.
– Undoubtedly. If they had demanded six hours they would have had my sympathy. A miner’s six hours is worth any other man’s eight hours on the surface. He ought to have at least two hours given to him for the difficulties under which he labours.
– Mr. Hughes was the man who brought about the eight hours for the miners, and they ought to be generous enough to give credit where it is due.
– I shall certainly give credit where it is due, but this reform is due to the determination, pluck, and dogged perseverence of the men working in the coal mines. If they had not put their backs against the wall, saying ‘ When we are treated as men we will work as men, but when we are treated as serfs and slaves, we will show our teeth and die fighting,” they would not have gained what they did. Consider what it meant to those men to take up a position of that kind; notwithstanding the statement that some of the miners earn 27s. and 28s. per day, I know that the ordinary miner works under conditions that no civilized being ought to be compelled to endure; that his home - unless he has been fortunate in securing work in some of the best mines - is very often unfit for habitation. It may he clean and tidy, as every thrifty housewife makes her home, but as a home itself it is often hardly fit to carry away. Because of the intermittent nature of their work, many of them live in bag houses, and are heavily handicapped by debt, because of their honorable and upright disposition and determination to pay their way, and to clear their feet of liabilities incurred through circumstances over which so often they have no control. The position thus created is severely felt. I venture to say that this month of idleness, due to circumstances that have been explained, will be felt by the miners for many months to come. I have been through strikes myself, lasting in some cases from four to nine months, and I know from bitter experience what is the lot of miners when passing through those trying times. It is absurd to suggest that men would, without just cause, create a position that is more than repellant to them. No man who has to work for his livelihood can find pleasure in bringing hardship upon another section of the community. No body of working men is more generous than is the mining community of this country, and none responds more readily to an appeal for help than the Australian miners. They have given freely to the cause of the Empire. It is estimated that one out of every five employed in the mining industry is now serving the Empire in the prosecution of this war. And yet these men are now held responsible for the position that has been created in the mining industry. The Government, in my opinion, have not displayed a strong hand. I sympathize with the Prime Minister, because I realize he has not had the power which in other circumstances would have been his. I venture to say that if Mr. Hughes had taken a bold stand at this juncture he would largely have rehabilitated himself in the eyes of the community, whose confidence he had lost. He had a golden opportunity to redeem a position that is now utterly impossible, for he has forfeited the confidence of the working classes in the community by his attitude in regard to this war. If, prior to this crisis, the Prime Minister had instituted a scheme for recruiting based upon his opinion after having visited the scene of action on the other side of the world, he would have created a sympathy unparallelled in the history of the recruiting campaign. There never was a more golden opportunity for William’ Morris Hughes to stand higher in the estimation of the people of Australia than ever he stood in the estimation of the people of England during his visit to the Mother Country, and when he stirred the people with his famous orations and his patriotic zeal in the cause of the Empire. He had Australia at his feet then. He knew that the public were opposed to compulsion, and had declared that if ever the time came when the people of this country were not prepared to fight for it, it would be because the country was not worth fighting for, but was rotten to the core. These were his sentiments when he came back from the Mother Country, and for a considerable time he refused to use She word “conscription.” He talked as patriotically as when he was in the Old Country, and we all listened with awe and reverence; but when his plans were laid bare, we found that, instead of consulting the Labour party as to the best methods for the prosecution of this war, he simply said he was going to do so-and-so. He came to the Caucus with his own Cabinet divided on the subject, and when he found that the position was impossible he submitted the proposal that the matter should go before the people. That was a course which we, as Labour representatives, found ourselves committed to; and consequently, while we did not care for the scheme, we had to consider whether it was wise to force a general election upon the people, or whether we would allow them to decide the issue. The position has been determined, and we are now assembled with a full knowledge of what the people desire. It is true that the majority against conscription is a small one, comparatively speaking; but, when we consider all the circumstances of the campaign, the result was remarkable. Speaking for myself, I can say I travelled considerably through the country districts of New South W ales, following on the heels of those who were on the opposite platform. On a Wednesday night, the Premier of New South Wales (Mr. Holman) spoke at Tamworth, and I followed him on the Thursday night. In the morning the local paper appeared with a report of Mr. Holman’s speech, occupying a column and a quarter, and an apology that as it was not possible to set up the whole of his speech, only a condensed report could be given, but that a full report would appear in Saturday’s issue. The report of my speech covered 6 inches of space, and on the following Saturday Mr. Holman received a full page, except for about half a column. I did not leave Tamworth without thanking the local Observer for having given me such consideration, because the daily papers of Sydney had been giving me about halfaninch for some of the largest meetings which I addressed. It was the policy of the metropolitan press to crush out the views of those who stood upon the anticonscription platform; but, on the other hand, it mattered little who was the speaker, so long as he spoke for conscription he found the press open to him. Then, again, the mayors of every town had been requested by the Government to assist in the campaign for conscription, and thus every civic authority was organized on that side. Every available means, all universities, all the professors, and even the ministers of religion, were requested to bring influence to bear in presenting the issue to the people from the view-point of the conscriptionists. Considering all these circumstances, and the fact that we were labouring against vile representations, villainy, and a tirade of abuse, the result was simply marvellous.
– The honorable senator is not an anti-conscriptionist.
– That depends upon how the Minister views the position. I certainly am zealous for the prosecution of this war, and if that constitutes a conscriptionist, I am one up to that point, for I am prepared to adopt every legitimate means that I know of to beat the Hun. I have made the greatest sacrifice that any man could make - greater even than the sacrifice of my own life - and having done that I think I have done all a man can do, for among those boys of mine at the front is one who in the course of a few months may be seeking to do his little bit by dropping bombs over the enemy’s forces. I yield to no man in my loyalty, and in my adherence to the British flag; but I have yet to learn that we are going to conserve the interests of the Empire by further denuding this country of its people in view of the fact that in two years we have given 300,000 of our best manhood, that we are in possession of a territory of 3,000,000 square miles, foreshored by 10,000 miles; that we are removed by 12,000 miles from the seat of the Empire; and that, in the words of Mr. Hughes himself, we are within “ coo-ee “ of 1,000,000,000 of Asiatics who are jostling one another for want of room. We have to remember, also, that we are heaping up millions of pounds of debt to be £he burden of generations yet unborn; and under the plea of patriotism we send more of our virile manhood away, to the danger of our industries, then that will be patriotism gone mad. The people of the Old Country, in the words of Senator de Largie, could not sing their paeans of praise too loudly for the work that Australia is doing. No shadow fell across the country until the Right Honorable William Morris Hughes came back from England, and told Australia that her manhood was to be conscripted, and to be compelled to do what they had been doing well and loyally under the voluntary system.
– Did not the honorable senator’s sons go as free men ?
– They did, as did the sons of every other man, and they have the honour and glory of knowing that they went of their own free will to take part in the defence of King and country.
– Are not the French Republicans free men ? Are they slaves ?
– The honorable senator should not make himself one. Our men have gone forward voluntarily, and Australia can look upon every one of them with pride. Every one who comes back will be a man whom we can respect and admire, and whom we should be .prepared to succour to the utmost of our power. At no time in the future can we ever forget their valiant deeds. But if our men went as conscripts, forced to leave our shores against their will, . could we look upon them with the same pleasure and pride; could they take the same pride in their work, anu could we have the same sense of their valour as we have of the valour of those who have voluntarily gone to the front? I know nothing of the character of the vote of our Australians overseas, but I venture to say that it was not their will that any man should be forced to leave Australia against his own desire. The temper of the soldier was, I am sure, as true as that of the civilian within our borders, and he was prepared to admit that those still in Australia should be given the same right to say whether they would go to the front or not that he had himself claimed and exercised. The spirit of patriotism and the desire to prosecute the war has been clouded by the manner in which affairs have been dealt with during the last few months, and it will take some time to restore previously-existing conditions. We are not going to restore them by hurling at each other epithets and unkind words.
– The honorable senator should have thought of that when he was attacking Mr. Hughes.
– I do not know of any man who has transgressed in this respect more than has Senator de Largie. There is no man more capable of abuse when occasion gives him the opportunity. Anything we may have said has been provoked by our opponents. We were zealously prosecuting the war. For months and months we were travelling night and day throughout the Commonwealth addressing meetings in the States in which we lived. We had created a feeling of fervour in the manhood of the country, and then, because we were not prepared to violently lay hands on our men, and compel them to do what we desired by force instead of persuasion, calumny was heaped upon us, and every opprobrious epithet applied to us by those who differed from us in opinion. We are told that we are the victims of the Trades Hall. I want to say, “ Thank God for my environment.” I have nothing to apologize for in connexion with the dictation of the Trades Hall. It is the Trades Hall that has given me my position in life to-day. It gave thirty-one Labour senators their positions in the Senate, and they ought never to forget it. When the Trades Hall speaks, its voice ought to be heard. We were looking forward to the time when the trades union movement would make its voice heard in the Commonwealth. It has been heard; and now we are told by men who heard its voice many years ago, and who have been placed by it in important positions in this country of their adoption 6*r their nativity, that we are the subjects of a “ secret junta “ and under the domination of an irresponsible body. I say that the Trades Hall, as representing the trades union movement, is not an irresponsible body. The trades union movement has made our industrial life what it is to-day. It is that movement which has made it possible for working men to get some redress for the grievances under which they labour from day to day. If ever the influence of the Trades Hall ceases to operate, woe betide the working population. I care not what political party may be in power, it is to the Trades Hall that we must look for progress in the industrial affairs of the country. We are here to register its vows, and to put upon tha statute-book of the country that which the Trades Hall claims to be the inalienable rights of the workers, and which we know to be just claims.
– Are they there to give instructions to Cabinet Ministers?
– They are there to speak to the Prime Minister of the country, if need be. I say that a Labour Prime Minister who fails to lend an attentive ear to the Trades Hall is no longer fit to be a Labour Prime Minister. He may be any other kind of representative honorable senators please, but he will have ceased to be one who reflects the ideas of the working-class organizations. That is the position which has recently been created. What has the trades union movement been objecting to in this matter? What has it been asking for ? It has been asking that the freedom which it has achieved in connexion with the industrial affairs shall be maintained in connexion with the political affairs of the country. The political position determines every other position in the community. It is impossible to rise above the political position which has recently been created. If you have a certain line of conduct governing the masses, it must dominate and govern the classes. Because of the classes to which it is attached, and on which its very existence depends, the Trades Hall is seeking to maintain the freedom of the workers and is claiming that no spirit of coercion shall be introduced into the prosecution of the war. I may be told that we have the compulsory system for home service, that the Labour movement instituted that principle, and is loyal to it. I adhere to that principle.
– So that the principle itself is not wrong.
– I will tell the honorable senator what we have. We have compulsory instructions from the executive to Cabinet- Ministers in the party.
– Well, what about it?
– I want to say that the executive in this State tried to conscript me, and ordered me to get out of the Ministry, and when I would not do so, they threw me out. Why ? I never violated the principles of the party.
– When I fail to retain the confidence of the organizations of Labour, I have no place here.
– No matter what they may be.
– Yes, no matter what they may be.
– The honorable senator is safe.
– Thank God if I am ! I wish the honorable senator was safe.
– Thank God I could never give away my freedom to that extent !
– Then the honorable senator wishes to be simply a representative of himself.
– I have some backbone. I am not a garden worm.
– When I accepted my present position I did so as a representative of the people.
– The honorable senator will admit that he is here as the representative of certain principles.
– Tes, of principles that are enshrined in the Labour movement as it is organized to-day.
– Does the honorable senator know one of them that I have voted against?
– I am not here as Senator Russell’s accuser. He stands self -accused so far as I am. concerned.
– Is freedom a Labour principle?
– I have not uttered one word in condemnation of any member of the Senate. I have spoken of principles which should guide every man who stands in this chamber as the representative of Labour. When the time comes that I cannot speak with the voice of Labour I shall remain silent in this chamber. I shall tell the Labour movement to which I belong that I .can no longer echo its voice. I have come here as a voice of the Labour movement, and I feel that I am bound to express the spirit of the movement, and to advocate the principles upon which it is organized. I say that we could not possibly do what was asked of us by the Prime Minister. When he asked that we should send 16,500 men per month to prosecute the war, I was not prepared to pledge Australia to that extent. Had we complied with such a demand we should have depleted Australia in thirteen months’ time of the whole of the virile manhood of the country. The domestic and commercial interests of the country demand that a certain number of that population should be retained within the Commonwealth. Had the Prime Minister taken up that position one could have understood him, but if he had been asked to send 40,000 per month I have no reason to believe that he would have murmured even at that. The question of the last man and the last shilling has been raised, and by our silence, at any rate, we all acquiesced in that offer. I claim that the spirit of that offer was embodied in my policy of anti-conscription .
– The honorable senator knows that it was a ridiculous statement to make.
– Honorable senators did not challenge’ it at the time.
– It was a figure of speech, the use of which was highly commendable on the part of the Prime Minister at the time, who sought to express the loyalty and patriotism of the country. It was. not intended that the Commonwealth should be reduced to a Robinson Crusoe Island. Mr. Andrew Fisher never intended that Robinson Crusoe and his man Friday should alone inhabit Australia. I cannot believe that any man so astute could have any such ridiculous idea in his mind. He expressed a highsounding” sentiment worthy of the man and the spirit of Australia in the prosecution of the war. I say that Australia is giving the last man and the last shilling to the limit of her capacity. When we come to consider that the total indebtedness of the country - State and Federal - rans into about £500,000,000, I do not know that it can be said that we are not giving our last shilling.
– Who is * going to pay the last shilling?
– The debt will not be paid by us or by our immediate successors, but will remain as a burden of taxation upon the people of this country for generations to come.
– Who is bearing the greatest burden of that taxation now?
– I have no doubt that it is the working population that bears the burden of all taxation. I care not who writes out the cheque, it is the working man who has to carry the burden. He alone creates wealth. There is no other creator than the producer, and it is upon him alone that the burden of taxation must necessarily fall. The present taxation will fall upon the producer for ages to come. I ask leave to continue my speech on another occasion.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– Has the Leader of the Senate any idea as to when the Supply Bill will come before us, and can he indicate the intention of the Government in regard to the sittings for the remainder of this year?
– I anticipate that the Supply Bill will come before us early next week. I shall try then to give a forecast of the sittings for this year, but at the present time I cannot.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.17 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 6 December 1916, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1916/19161206_senate_6_80/>.