6th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– Is. it a fact that the Government have cancelled an order by the ex-Minister for Home Affairs in connexion with the visits of private members of this Parliament to New Zealand; if so, will they cancel an order by that honorable gentleman giving free railway passes in the Commonwealth to all exMinisters, ex-Speakers, and exPresidents; and, if not, why?
– The answer to the first question is “ Yes.” The other question was answered yesterday, and the honorable senator can turn to the answer.
– The question . I have asked, to-day, without notice, was not answered yesterday. The reply to yesterday’s question was that the Government had- cancelled- a- certain- portion of the order, but that- Ministers who had served for twelve months would have free railway passes. Will ‘ the Government cancel that portion, of the order as well as the rest of it ?
– I can only refer the honorable senator to the reply to the question asked yesterday.
Report of the Public Accounts Committee upon establishing a Commonwealth Public Works Department, presented by Senator Bakhap.
The following papers were presented: -
Customs Act 1901-1916. - Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1916, No. 304.
War Precautions Act 1914-1916.- Regulations amended, &c- StatutoryRules 1916, No. 273.
– In asking that cer tain questions on the notice-paper may be postponed, may I point out to honorable senators what has frequently been done in other sessions ? When questions are given notice of on Thursday it is almost impossible to, get replies by Friday morning.. I suggest that in future honorable, senators should give notice of the questions for the- first day of sitting in the. following week.
asked the Minister re presenting the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Was a manifesto issued by Hon. W. M. Hughes to the Australian Imperial Forces prior to the Military Service Referendum; and, if so, will he lay a copy on the table of the Senate?
– The answer supplied by the Prime Minister is “ Yes.”
Debate resumed from 6th, December (vide page 9430), on motion by Senator Pearce -
That the paper be printed.
– In the course of my remarks on Wednesday night I endeavoured to point out the part which Australia was playing in connexion with, the war, the numbers which had been given, the cost which had been entailed to the Commonwealth, and the circumstances which had brought about practically a crisis in connexion with the recruiting of men to help the Empire at the present moment. I endeavoured to show that, whilst we were prepared to do as much as we possibly could, there was a limit to our giving, and that at some point or other we must. necessarily find it impossible to go further.
– Have we reached that point?
– By the attitude of the Opposition, I should say that we are in grave danger of reaching an impasse when voluntarism will be rendered utterly impossible.
– That refers to your own Opposition.
– No; it certainly does not. It refers to those who are in opposition to the anti-conscription policy.
– What is the anti- conscription policy but voluntarism ?
– I said that it refers to those who are opposed to that policy. The cause of any lack in recruiting is due, I contend, to the position taken up by the conscriptionists, who have practically created a feeling in the minds of men that the taking of their place in the defence of the Empire is no longer an’ act of chivalry and of gallantry, but that it is the duty of the conscript slave, the man who has been coerced into action against his own free will, having never been stimulated or stirred into the spirit of patriotism which is animating every soldier who goes to the front. They have robbed Australia of that sentiment which underlies the system of voluntarism. If there is any dearth of recruiting, it is due to the feeling created by the coercion party.
– You ought to go down on bended knees and thank God for what France has done.
-Isit not the duty of all free men to fight for their country when it is in danger?
– It is the duty of every free man to fight for his country, and it is the duty of every country to allow the free will agency of man to play its full part in connexion with that act which he has to perform.
– Is that trade unionism? I thought that you were not a free labourer.
– Trade unionism is undoubtedly a voluntary act.
– You have absolutely broken up trade unionism.
– A man becomes a trade unionist of his own free will.
– When was it voluntary in Newcastle, where you were reared practically?
– I did not need to join the Employees Federation until such time as I had become a worker in the coal-mining industry.
– Until something was to be got out of it.
– I do not think that my honorable friend would have been here, either, if there had not been something to be got out of it.
– I was pushed here, if you want the statement repeated again.
– It did not take much to push the honorable senator in, but it may take much to push him out. I “would be sorry to be a camp follower of the honorable senator, at any rate. I have been a camp follower of the principles which are dear to me, and which have given me my freedom and liberty, and the position I occupy to-day. I am prepared to be a camp follower of the Labour movement, with which I have been identified for so many years.
– You would not dare to advocate voluntarism in trade unionism, anyhow.
– There is no comparison between one and the other, because in trade unionism there is a community of interest, and all its members subscribe to that sentiment.
– Why should there be any difference in a nation ?
– So far as Australia is concerned we have never yet refused to be bound by the military dictates of the situation. We have subscribed to the policy that every man from eighteen to sixty years of age shall be compelled to defend this country in the event of its shores being invaded.
– That is conscription.
– Undoubtedly it is, and we have never yet cavilled at the principle in connexion with the defence of Australia. As a matter of fact, we are the authors of the principle.
– What would you do in the event of an invasion of Papua ? Would you send the Australian troops there under compulsion?
– We would seek to defend any part of the Commonwealth of Australia according to the principles laid down in the Defence Act.
– By conscription 1
– Yes. That is a principle we have never yet objected to for home service.
– But Senator Ferricks says “no.”
– What about Senator Russell?
– It is not a question of what individual members think. It is a question of the principles involved in the Commonwealth Defence Act, and we have never had any occasion to apologize for our attitude concerning service overseas. We have never yet taken up an attitude incompatible with the principles of a Democracy.
– What about your comrades ?
– We have never yet agreed to conscription for overseas service. Had the people of Australia decided that issue in the affirmative at the referendum, no . one in this chamber would have been- more willing than I to give effect to it.
– Because you believe in it?
– No, but because it would then be the ascertained will of the people. When I am asked what is the difference between coercion for service overseas, and coercion as applied to trade unionism, I say that whatever trade unions establish as a principle, I, as a member of a trade union, am compelled to obey ; and when this country decides for service overseas, I, as a loyal member of this Commonwealth, will also obey that law.
– Then you are not a leader of public opinion; you are merely a slavish follower.
– He is not a leader of anything.
– I do not accept Senator de Largie as a judge of my conduct’ either in the industrial or the political movement. Evidently he is one of the “has beens,” and has no time for anybody who comes on the scene after him. If Senator de Largie wishes to know whether I am a leader or not, I invite him to come to the district in which I live, and in which he lived many, many years ago, to discuss our respective attitudes in regard to this conscription campaign. If he accepts the invitation,’ I am quite satisfied he will be convinced that the respect in which he is held has been considerably diminished as the outcome of his intolerant views on this important question.
– That comes very well from your side.
– I am not going to apologize to the honorable senator or any one else. So far as we are concerned I am absolutely satisfied that we have taken up a perfectly honorable attitude in not subscribing to a principle that has not been established in the Labour movement. If in our trade unions there arises a position upon which we cannot agree, we stump the district in which we live, and give utterance to our opinions, and ‘thus ascertain the views held by our people.
– The ‘honorable senator has never been out of his district in his life. He did not know .where Albury was when he .asked the people for their votes.
– I do not admit that is to my discredit, because for twenty-five years I worked in the -bowels of the earth, and I was deprived of those opportunities which my ‘honorable friend enjoyed for many years.
– I worked there before you did. ‘
– I am not questioning that, but when the honorable senator talks about my lack of geographical knowledge of New South Wales he only displays a want of sympathy quite out of keeping with the cause which he is supposed to represent in this chamber.
– Is it not a fact anyway?
– It is not a fact It is merely one of the -honorable senator’s political innuendoes, and about on a level with his “coo-ee!” I hope, at at any rate -whilst I am .addressing this august Chamber I shall always be able .to control myself, and retain the full possession of my senses.- Reverting to the question of conscription, I repeat that we on this side of the chamber are not prepared to be handcuffed. We prefer to remain free. We are not disposed to allow the destinies of Australia to be marred #nd its efficiency destroyed by the depletion of its manhood under conscription. I contend that under the voluntary system we shall do infinitely better ‘ than un.der a system of compulsion, though I am aware that even under the voluntary system we cannot do all that we would desire, for the simple reason that we have not the manhood power here.
– The percentage of masculinity in Australia is higher than in any other portion of the British Empire.
– I say definitely that by the adoption of conscription we could not have done better in point of numbers, nor perhaps would we have sacrificed the vital interests of this country more than has been the case under the voluntary system.
– We would not have sacrificed so much.
– Perhaps because we might not have given so much.
– No; we should .have given more, but would have sacrificed less.
– If full consideration had been given to the needs of the harvest and to other primary industries of this country, I am .perfectly satisfied -it.. would have been necessary ,to retain hundreds of men who left our .shores ; .but we sacrificed them (and did not murmur because we -knew that .they .were animated by ,a spirit of patriotism .and were prepared to offer their lives in defence ;of this country. We ;have -.never yet .condescended to Make into consideration what the cost would be in the face of that .spirit of patriotism, and as a result, under our voluntary .system, we have been able to do more perhaps than could have been done under compulsion.- Senator Bakhap just now referred to what had been done by the Mother Country in proportion to her population, but so far as Australia is concerned, a comparison with the Mother Country is not’ a good one, as the interests are not equal. Great Britain has a population of 46,000,000.
– Are you in the Empire or out’ of it ? “That is the question.
– As I have said, Great Britain has a population of 46,000,000 and a territory of about 100,000 square miles. Australia has, in round figures, about 5,000,000 people and a territory of about 3,000,000 squaremiles. In other words, Australia is about thirty times the size of Great Britain and has a population of only one-ninth, so that it could not reasonably be expected we should do as much. Obviously it would be easier for Great Britain to contribute one-tenth of her population than for Australia to do that.
– With 2,000,000 more women than men in Great Britain?
– I repeat it was easier for Great Britain to do what she has done than for Australia. I know that Great Britain is doing a great deal in the manufacture of munitions, and if wewere similarly employed we should be playing a more useful part. We have to look to the future and bear in mind that we might be called upon to make even greater sacrifices than hitherto, and I think we would be doing a far greater service to the Empire if we conserved our interests within Australia than by going; forward “ mad-headed “ in the manner indicated by the Government proposals.
– And yet Great Britain has now adopted the scheme which you claim the credit of having put into operation in Australia.
– It is quite true that Great Britain established the principle after 5,000,000 of her men had voluntarily come forward, and it is true, also that, according to Colonel Rep.ington, or some other military authority, 10 per cent, of its manhood is as much as any nation can afford to give in the prosecution of a war. I say, therefore, that Great Britain had already given more than a normal proportion before she adopted conscription.
– That indicates that she is making a still greater sacrifice.
– We do not know what sacrifices we may yet be called upon to make in Australia, and I urge that if we are going to maintain our supplies that is as much as we can reasonably be expected to do. Had we confined ourselves to four divisions we would not be- in the difficult position in which we are at the present time. It was a mistake to attempt to send five divisions to the war. I have no doubt that it was the purpose of the military authorities in Great Britain to increase our task until we reached the breaking point. They had no proper regard for the internal affairs of Australia. They were impressed by the grit and worth of the Australian soldiers. They, believed that they were of more -value than almost any other soldiers, they had, and for the purpose in view they, were prepared to bleed Australia to the last man to enable them to carry out their task. I can admit that that wastheir business, but it is ours to loot after our domestic affairs and to have regard to the internal interests of the Commonwealth: We cannot overlook our duty to protect and safeguard our interests, in Australias We should maintain the traditions upon, which the Democracy of Australia has been built up, and I say that to propose a system of- conscription is to advertise to the world that our- men who- are capable of bearing, arms are unwilling to do their duty. If that were really so, there are other means which might be adopted by which those who ought to go to the front could be secured. ~2fo doubt there are some men who have failed in their duty in this respect, and who have not shown a proper sense of their responsibility in connexion with the war. But I remind the Government that the liberty that is permitted upon our race-courses, and at other places of amusement, is a practical admission that those who are responsible have not been imbued with the due sense of the gravity of the situation. We are living here just as we did before the war, and men attend prize-fights and race meetings as though there was nothing amiss. Whilst the Government are prepared to tolerate such a condition of affairs they cannot at the same, time claim that the manhood of Australia have failed to realize their responsibility. Before they attempt to put pressure upon a community which has shown itself more than willing to play its part in the prosecution of the war, they should have the courage to deal with the persons to whom I have referred, and bring home to them a sense of their duty. I am not against sport or amusement. I dearly love pure sport and amusement, and I am satisfied that a community that fails to -foster pure forms of sport that serve to relieve the tension of men’s minds will not conserve the best traditions of nationhood. But at a time when we are in death-grips with an enemy such as the world has never before seen, there are ways and means by which all the forces of the community could be concentrated for the carrying on of the war without the adoption of a policy that strikes a blow at all democratic traditions, and which might establish a precedent from which we would never later be able to free ourselves. We are not justified in asking a people who have done their share, and more than their share, in the prosecution of the war to adopt a policy which would rob them of their claim to gallantry and manhood. Senator Pearce referred to the people of France and other countries that have adopted conscription, and in reply I say that the exigencies and circumstances of any nation can alone determine the wisdom of the policy it adopts. If the people pf Australia to-day found that there was no other way by which to defend their national existence than the adoption of a policy of conscription, I am satisfied that without any referendum they would unamimously call upon the Government to press every fit man into the service of the country.
– The honorable senator is depending on a lot of salt water between us and the enemy.
– I am depending upon a grain or two of common sense which I am afraid the honorable senator does not possess, because there . is neither rhyme nor reason in his interjection.
– When did the honorable senator change his opinion? Some time ago the honorable senator thought I was a model.
– Why this stonewall? Senator Watson is trying to convince himself.
– I could do that more easily than by listening to the Minister.
– The honorable senator has been a long time trying to convince himself, but knows that he is wrong.
– I do not require Senator Pearce . to instruct me as to whether I am wrong or right. I have never made any statement publicly or privately which gives any man the right to say that I am speaking against my conviction.
– The honorable senator is talking “Yes-No.”
– Senator Guthrie is welcome to think so if he pleases - “ As the fool thinks the bell jinks.” Those who are against conscription have been perfectly satisfied with my utterances on the subject. I have not been asked to take any more extreme stand than I have taken. I claim that in what I am saying now I am giving utterance to the views of those who are associated with the anticonscription movement. The people who have advocated anti-conscription are as zealous in the prosecution of the war as ever our conscriptionist friends could be. I say, further, that those who have appeared on the anti-conscription platform are those who for the most part have sons at the war, whilst those who have been advocating conscription have no sons to go to the war. It is a notable fact, apart from the platform advocates ‘of conscription, that people who voted for it, and who assisted the campaign with funds, have merely vested interests to preserve, and were called upon to make no sacrifice of flesh and blood. It ill becomes any man who has nothing to offer to tell the son of another man to take his place at the front.
– Who on this side have not sons at the front and who on the other side have?
- Senator Guthrie is a notable exception to what I have been saying.
– I am not a notable exception. A number of those on this side have sons at the front.
– That is so, but those honorable senators are notable exceptions. A very great number of those who have been calling upon our young men to go to the war have themselves nothing to give, but everything to preserve and protect. They are satisfied that in this case, as in every other, the working population should bear the burden whilst they enjoy the results from their burden-bearing. I am confident that the agitation in favour of conscription was born amongst the wealthy class. It did not emanate from the Labour leaders or from Labour institutions. No Labour organization in Australia took the initiative in suggesting that the manhood of the country should be conscripted. When we are told that conscription is the policy of unionism, I ask why the agitation for it did not begin with the Labour movement and amongst Labour organizations. It is said that trade unions coerce their members into obedience to their laws, but they never instituted a propaganda to compel the manhood of the country to go to war as they think it right to apply compulsion to their members’ in connexion with industrial organization. The thing speaks for itself and needs no argument. I hope that a difference of opinion on this subject between Senator Guthrie and myself will not interfere with the friendship that has existed between us.
– Why should it?
– In what I have had to say on this subject I havemade no personal attack upon any one. Nothing could be further from my inclination. I have even tried to cultivate the friendship of those who have differed from me, believing that to be the right course to adopt. I contend that Australia has done, and is doing, all that any people situated as we are can be expected to do. The highest encomiums have been passed in England upon Australia for the work that she has done and is doing. In my opinion, the agitation in support of conscription has been due to the action of people who have some political axe to grind. I have stated from every platform during the referendum campaign that the agitation in favour of conscription was a deep-laid plot to destroy the Labour party.
– A deep-laid plot between Senator Lynch and myself to destroy the Labour party?
- Senator Guthrie was not the author of the plot, but unfortunately he fell into the trap.
– There was no trap. I am satisfied.
– We see the result of the agitation, and what I predicted has come to pass. The agitation was begun, not because Australia was not doing its share, but because Labour was dominant in the Legislatures of Australia, Federal and State. The purpose was to create disunion in the ranks of Labour, and it was believed that this would accomplish more for the advance of so-called Liberalism than any other policy that could be pursued. We have the results of the agitation before us to-day. Those who were responsible for it have. captured the men who in the past have been leading the van in the ranks of Labour, the men upon whom we relied to safeguard the principles of unionism. Liberalism has accomplished its purpose, but we may find some grain of comfort in the well-known statement of Lincoln that, “ Though it is possible to deceive the people for a time, to fool some of them all the time, and all of them some of the time, it is impossible to deceive all the people all the time.” I venture to say that the disruption which has occurred in tEe Labour party will lead to a greater organization on the part of the masses of the people, who will, in the future, nourish their liberties as they have never done in the past. I am quite sure that the people outside this Parliament had arrived at the conclusion that their representatives here were suffering from lethargy. They had come to regard Parliament as a fossil institution, and its members as persons who, having once received the confidence of the electors, were content to merely sit on these cushioned benches, draw their salaries, and parade themselves as the representatives of the people. They believed that we did not take them into our counsels, but adopted a high-handed attitude-
– Of course, the honorable senator is speaking for himself.
– And for the honorable senator, too.
– I do not accept the honorable senator as my mouth-piece.
– Every State in the Commonwealth is united upon the policy which the Opposition have adopted in connexion with this agitation. If we are wrong, there is a great crowd wrong with us, and I would rather be wrong with the Labour movement than be right with its so-called leaders. I ‘would sooner go down with the masses of the people than remain at the top with cliques and coteries of men.
– I would sooner be right with my conscience than be wrong under the dictation of other people.
– I would sooner be wrong with the workers than right with the opportunists. The position that has been created has not been created by the Labour movement. It has been brought about bv the men who denied the claims of the Labour movement, and who favoured individualism in preference to collectivism. It has been created by the men who avowed Socialism while practising individualism up to the hilt. The whole spirit of the Labour movement has been shattered to the winds, so far as they are concerned, and yet they have the effrontery to claim that they are the leaders of the movement.
– Has not the whole spirit of the movement been that men were required to conform to a written platform, outside of which they were free?
– That is so. but a circumstance arose for which there was no precedent. ‘ The Labour movement met in its councils, and gave consideration to the position.
– Was it the Labour movement ?
– It was the Labour movement which met in session, and by ita decrees gave to us a lead which my bon’orable friends opposite refused to follow. Seeing that we had previously been willing to accept that lead, if the movement considered that the adoption of conscription would place an indignity on our manhood, and we agreed with that view, how can we be accused of being camp followers simply because we come here to register those decrees ? Are we to stand on our dignity because we are afraid of “being dubbed unpatriotic and proGermans, and because we may be regarded as enemy subjects-
– And because you repudiate every pledge .that you gave to the electors.
– We have never repudiated one pledge. We have said that we would do everything in our power’ to prosecute the “war to a successful issue, and we are doing it.- The only sprag in the wheel has come from the conscriptionist camp - from the men who have destroyed recruiting, and who have imposed a- serious check on the patriotic fervour of the manhood of this country. Never since the conscription, campaign began* have we been able to make “the crowd feel that by volunteering for service abroad they would be ennobling themselves. This we had been able to do until the conscriptionists came forward with a scheme which emanated, not from the class to which our Labour leaders belong, but from a class which has ‘always been seeking its own aggrandisement. When the people decided that they would’ not be forced to do ‘that which they were not prepared to do voluntarily, the Government still persisted in calling up the manhood of Australia. They put forward a policy under which, every fit man in the country was to receive a month’s military training in order that he might learn the rudiments of the business. From ‘the stand-point of rendering these men efficient, the utter futility of that policy was -at once apparent. It took men away from their ordinary vocations, disrupted industry, and loaded us with a debt which we are ill-fitted to bear. It cost the Commonwealth no less a sum than £600,000, and no attempt has been made by the Government to justify that expenditure. They merely acted in a despotic way, and imposed upon the people an unnecessary and heavy burden. This is one of the acts -which must condemn the Government in the- eyes of the electors, and it’ is one for which they will have to answer in the not distant future. Then I object strongly to the treatment meted .out by the Government to those who .differ from them on . this question. ‘.They have not hesitated to -associate the opponents of conscription with the Industrial Workers of the World, to brand them as men who are .prepared to destroy homes and cities, and generally to wreck civilisation. They have thus put an indignity, not only upon the representatives of the people in this Parliament who differ from them, but upon the people themselves, who by their votes have shown that they are not prepared to adopt the Ministerial policy. These are matters which we cannot forget. The issue of the- regulation- under which men of eligible -military age were to be questioned .when they visited the polling booths on referendum day will always remain as: an outstanding interference with the secrecy of ,the ballot. I will not say anything further on that. heading, because :Senator Gardiner, in his exposure of the methods of the Government, clearly demonstrated that what they .sought to establish was:not the rule of a Democracy, but the rule of an ‘Autocracy - the creation of a dictatorship, which is repugnant toevery free man, and which does not meet with the approval df the people df this country. So far as I am concerned, whatever may be the differences between my utterances and my conduct, I shall at all times be prepared to plead the merits -of this-‘war, and to urge the surrender of all that we have and all that we hold dear in its prosecution to a, successful issue. I am quite satisfied that if we cannot get men to voluntarily fight for their liberty, it is because they have no liberty to safeguard. But -we i cannot appeal to the best instincts of humanity by a resort to force. When we have to resort to that, it .will be the last stage in our history. We may then reckon that we are doomed and “damned/an’d- that there is no fair prospect for our immediate future. ‘But I do not believe that ‘.we have .yet reached that pass.. I do not think it will ever be necessary to conscript the manhood of this country. When I reflect that there is an army of no less than 32,000,000 on the Allied side opposed to foes who number 21,000,000–
– All made .up .of one’sand two’s.
– When I reflect upon that circumstance, I have no fear for the success of the Allies. When I think of the justice of our .cause, I can see more millions - ^greater battalionsthan those which are arrayed in battle to-day - fighting the common foe before Australia can go under. If I believed” that Australia could turn the tide of battle by one inch, that she could, by any -gift of numbers, alter -the result of the immense struggle which is now raging, much as I value the standard of liberty set up by the Democracy of this country, I would forego it, and appeal to our manhood to lay aside all its preconceived “notions,, and submit itself for military service, as a child . does to its mother j realizing that its fate was dependent upon the success of out arms. But if we gave every man that we have we could not alter the result. We are not the determining factor in the prosecution of this war. The object I have in view is to maintain the freedom of the people and safeguard their liberties. I want to prevent them being brought into serfdom and slavery, and to foster the fighting spirit in us all as we go forward together to give battle to the common foe. I want to put an end to the misrepresentation and calumny which has been heaped upon us by those on the conscription platform with their wild-cat schemes and hysterical ravings. I sincerely trust that during the coming month, whatever may be the part we are called upon to play, we shall all be animated -by deep love of home and country, and seek to maintain the freedom and liberty of the British race, and uphold its best traditions. I trust that as the result of the efforts put forth during the campaign the cry of the conscription of manhood will have been ended for ever, and that Australia will maintain its freedom in the prosecution of this. great. and dreadful war.
– Although the referendum campaign is ended, it seems that it has still to be fought over and over again for an interminable period. Nothing but the recent conflict appears to engage the attention of Parliament and the country. I do not ‘ know whether it is wise to - do so, but I also wish to make a few remarks thereon. It was not likely that those of us who were opposed’ to compulsory service abroad would assist the Government to perfect their plans to carry it into effect. Objection has been raised to the action of the Government in calling up the men in anticipation of an affirmative vote. Personally I was pleased at their action in that direction, because I believed that when the people began to realize what conscription meant they would record a much greater vote against it than would otherwise be the case. Instances came under my notice where people for some time previously had been enthusiastic conscriptionists, but when the hand of the Government was stretched out to force members of their family into the training camps they began to see things in an entirely different light, and spared no efforts to defeat conscription.
– Was that loyalty or selfishness 1
– It was a very unpleasant fact. It brought home to the people in a way which no other method could have done what conscription really meant, and it was largely owing to the calling up of th$ men .that conscription was defeated. I, and I am sure .most other people, regret very much the enormous amount of personal abuse and misrepresentation which took place during that campaign, and which apparently has an indefinite course still to run.
– “ Apparently “ ! There is no doubt about, it, judging by what has been said about the Prime Minister here for the last week.
– No one has heard me make a single derogatory remark about the Prime .Minister, and I do not intend to do so. It is not my way. No matter what he may say with regard to our party, it. is no part of my .business to abuse the Prime Minister or any other man, but I think I have th*e right to object to their actions if I choose. The annoyance to which we were subjected by the unfair and unreasonable attitude of the Government in regard to the censorship of the press was also responsible for a very large measure of the support we received during the campaign.- The Senate yesterday decided that the Government should no longer -be permitted to enjoy the freedom of action in that direction, which they, enjoyed during the campaign.
-A restriction of liberty.
– The decision of the Senate was a restriction of unfair actions on the part df the Government. They capped the whole of their unfair proceedings by the determination to insist upon the use of the ballot-box to find out whether-men had -answered the proclamation or not. All these matters greatly assisted the “ No Conscriptionists, “ but apart from all that, once the people began to realize what conscription meant, they became more and more hostile to the idea, and if the campaign had continued for another fortnight our majority would probably have reached not 60,000 but 200,000. The people of Australia are notprepared to entertain the compulsory idea. It has been said that compulsion is the law of the land in Great Britain, but I remind those who make that statement that the people of Great Britain had not very much voice in the election of members to the Imperial Parliament. They have no voice at all in the election of members of the House of Lords’, and they were not consulted upon the question of compulsion or .no compulsion. Had they been consulted it is very problematical whether they would have voted for it. As it was, it was forced on them by a Government elected not by the people but by a small minority. There is no adult franchise there, and the women of Great Britain do not count in the election of members of Parliament.
– New South Wales has no elective “Upper House.
– We have an elective Lower House.
– Thank God we have no elective Upper House in Queensland. We can deal with the nominee House, but we could not deal with an elective House.
– An elective Upper House with a property qualification is much more objectionable than a House nominated for life, although both are objectionable.
– Then why object to the House of Lords?
– Because it does not represent the people of Great Britain. ,
– Neither does your Upper House.
– It certainly does not. An instance proving this conclusively was seen the other day. There has been on the platform of the Labour party for ten or twelve years a proposal to extend the principle of land value taxation to water and sewerage rating.- That has also been on the platform of the Liberal party for many years. A Bill to give effect to it was passed by the Lower House in New South Wales recently, but when it reached the Upper House the Honorable B. B. O’Conner, followed by Sir Thomas Hughes, and supported by Sir Allen Taylor and Dr. Nash, vigorously opposed the idea. Their opposition was so strong that the Honorable J. D. Fitzgerald, who was in charge of the Bill, ceased to push it along. So far from the New South Wales Legislative Council representing the people I am firmly convinced that if the people had a referendum on the question they would vote for the abolition of that Chamber by a very large majority. Many of its members axe there for the express purpose of preventing the passage of useful legislation.
– Order ! The honorable senator is out of order in discussing New South Wales politics, or the constitution, of t(he New South Wales Parliament on the motion before the Senate.
– You permitted Senator Guthrie to make an interjection to which I was endeavouring to reply. Reference has been made to the disaster which overtook the community by the cessation of the production of coaL That trouble could have been settled by the Federal Government in a few hours, under the ample powers given by the War Precautions Act, but it was allowed tq drag on for weeks until the whole of the industries of the Commonwealth were paralyzed.
– Because the Government would- not act. They were appealed to in the public interest.
– Did the miners ask them to act?
– It does not matter whether the miners did so or not. It ia the duty of any Government, when the whole of the. industries of the country are threatened, to take whatever steps are necessary to restore them.
– Did not the miners say they wanted no interference ?
– It does not matter what they said. The Government ought to have taken the matter in hand during the first week.
– In spite of what the miners said ?
– The miners offered no objection to what was done.
– The miners said that they did not want any interference.
– -I am not prepared to admit the truth of that statement.
– You know that they did.
– The honorable senator ought to know that for more than twenty-five years the miners have been asking for an eight-hours bank-to-bank day.
– They said that they wanted no interference.
– Under the War Precautions Act this Parliament, had it so desired, could have passed a measure making eight hours from bank to bank the law of the country.
– That would have been an interference with the miners, and you would have been the first to complain of interference with liberty.
– The coal difficulty could have been settled in half-a-dozen ways and without any loss of time. The Federal Government could have brought down a Bill to give the miners an eighthours’ day from bank to bank, and it would have been passed through both Chambers almost without comment; but they did not do it. On the contrary, they waited and waited until the ‘whole of the industries of this country were paralyzed.
– How could they do it 1 Joe Cook would not let them.
– I do not think that even the Right Honorable Joseph Cook would have objected to the passage of a Bill of that sort. There is no reason either why the Parliament of New South Wales should not have passed such a measure. They could have done it without the slightest difficulty, but they did not want to do it. They were determined to hang up the coal industry as long as possible, and prevent the miners from obtaining what they got ultimately.
– Some of them said that they wanted the miners to hang out as long as they could so as to get recruits.
– That is an oh1 method of getting recruits, but the old plan of stopping industries is not going to work in the future in the same way as -it has done in the past. We had statements furnished to us through the press to the effect - I do not say with the view to get recruits - that in Tasmania the Liberal Government “had closed down the public works. Such action can have only one result, and that is to throw men out of work, to make it more difficult for persons to secure employment, and to bring about that which is’ unquestionably the worst form of conscription. I am not sure that the Federal Government, if I can read aright, do not intend also to do the same thing. Let me warn them that if they propose to cut down the few little public works we have in hand, they will meet with very strenuous opposition to their action, and that they are not going to get recruits by that method. There has been a number of matters which have led up to a reduction in the number of voluntary recruits, which do not appear to me to have been stated with sufficient clearness and in sufficient detail to indelibly impress the position on the minds of honorable senators. And without wishing to weary them, I propose to quote a few figures. Quite recently the Minister for Defence was good enough to quote to us the enlistments during the months of June, July, and August, and also to furnish us with a statement showing the casualties for’ each one of those months. But that, I submit, was not a fair way of placing the position before the Senate. I want to show that not only has the voluntary system not broken down, but that we are getting more than sufficient men to meet all our requirements. Not going back any further than the first of this year, I intend to quote the enlistments for each month up to October. They are as follows: -
In reply to a question put by me a few days ago, the Minister for Defence informed the Senate that the casulaties from August, 1914, to 31st October, 1916, were as follows: -
– But that does not include the number of those- who, having, been casualties, have returned to the ranks. When casualties return to the ranks, they are struck off the list.
– I. quite understand the position. The return ‘placed, at our disposal showed that during the.- whole of the. campaign, our total casualties up t the end of September were a little over 70,000. Since. that . time the answer given to us by the Minister shows that our net casualties for the whole of the term of the war - that is from October, 1914, to the 31st December, 1916- were’ 50,916; and the total voluntary enlistments’ for” 1916, from 1st: January to 31st October, were 117,296. These- figures show conclusively, and’.in a way which neither the Minister for Defence nor anyof his supporters, nor any of the conscriptionists in the country can controvert, that we had not only maintained our Forces at the front at their original strength, but that we had a margin of 66,380 on the right side. In these circumstances to say, as the conscriptionists have said, that we are not maintaining our Forces, that we are not sending forth the necessary number of reinforcements, seems to me to be utterly untrue, because the return shows beyond the possibility of a doubt that we have not only maintained our reinforcements and our divisions at their original strength, but that we have had a. margin of 66,380 to spare. That is the effective argument which ‘ appealed to the electors of New South Wales to turn., down the conscription proposal:. Had. the Government been able to show - andthey have never been able to show - that we were not maintaining ourdivi- sions at their original strength, then the position would have been an entirely different one. But neither the Government nor any of their supporters, have. ever, been able to prove that such was the case.
– They believed you rather than Sir William. Robertson, did they?
– They did; and they had good reason to. believe me, because I spoke the truth and he did not. To. my mind, there has been a lack of candour on the part of the Government in. placing the true position before the electors of Australia. I am satisfied that when, the war broke out it was a wise actionon the part of the Government to prevent certain items of information from becoming public property, but that stage haspassed. The people of this country now are entitled to get from the Government as frequently as possible exactly what the true position is. I venture to say that there are very few members of the Government, and very few members of the Senate who, on the spur: of the moment, could tell us.-howmany men are. abroad at the present time.
– There- are not nearly enough. You can take that for certain.
– That may be- so, and I am not prepared to contravene the statement. I hold that the Government should furnish information of that kind . to the electors fully and freely, and place the position before them day by day as they see it. The more that course is taken the better, I am satisfied, the result will be.
– And fill the mouths of the Germans - a very foolish thing to do.
– I would be very sorry to be a party to the publication of anything which I thought would be- of the slightest value to the Central Powers, but I am. satisfied . that the kind of information I refer to’ would be of no value to them. Who is responsible for the alleged pleasure displayed by certain sections . of the German- press at the Australian: people turning: down, conscription ?
– You and others.
– Unquestionably the people responsible for that are those who failed in the- effort to fasten conscription on the people of this country.
– You are deliberately misrepresenting them. The- anticonscriptionists are responsible.
– What did the conscriptionists say? They said,.” Shall Australia quit? If you vote ‘No,’ the answer will be that you are prepared’ to quit.” We did vote “No.”
– You advised the.people to quit.
– I did not; the: statement is quite incorrect. It is very much like other inaccurate statements made during the campaign. Australia has not “quitted.” If she had, I presume no more troops would be going to the front, the men at the front would be recalled, and steps taken to close down the whole business.- Has anything of that kind been done?
– No; but you propose to leave the men at the front without reinforcements.
– That statement is merely a: repetition: of the misrepresentations indulged in. during the campaign. It is not true- at all. There has been no objection to reinforcements from Australia, and, so far as I. am: concerned, no objection- will be raised.
– But objection has-been taken to the means by which reinforcements may be obtained.
– That is a different matter altogether.
– The. essential fact to remember, is that we cannot send, reinforcements if. we. have not got them, to send.
– I have already quoted figures to show beyond the possibility of doubt that’ we have sufficient men to maintain reinforcements, with a big margin to spare. It appears that the figures must- be repeated, so that those who are’ reluctant to realize the position will be compelled to recognise the truth.
– You should remember that, so far -as. this country was concerned, we were informed, long before-.the question of : conscription was’ raised; that” Australia was. going. to quit.
Senator- GR ANT. - Who informed us-?
Senator - Keating. - The German, pre.pagandists . did.
Senator- GRANT. - Well, I am . sure nobody ‘ can. say that, up” to- the present; Australia has-“ quitted.” I have-found- no evidence, whatever’ to prove– that no-con- - scriptionists - intend1 to quit:; but; on-, the: other hand, they will continue to do theirutmost, no matter how long* the war may last. We are opposed, however, to the action of the -Government in endeavouring to foist conscription on- the people of /this country.
– Then you are. opposed’, to -the: only, means by which reinforcements could” be- obtained.
– I repeat, for the information of the honorable senator, .that we. have? secured a sufficient number of men under the voluntary- system to meet all requirements.
– That is only “ according to- Grant.”
– No; if is based on an official statement made by the Min ister for Defence, and from figures supplied by the Defence Department. If the honorable senator says that the Minister, has misinformed the Senate, I differ from him, as I believe the Minister supplied, ns with, correct information concerning the position; and on those figures -I maintain we have not -only sufficient- men to maintain our divisions at the front at a normal strength, but a margin of more than 66,000 men. Inthese circumstances, what is the use of saying that we- are going to quit? Surely honorable senators should cease to mislead themselves, and at the same time mislead the community in regard, to this ‘ matter. Before I. pass on to’ another phase of . the subject, I want to make it clear that I am entirely opposed, to, and have -no sympathy whatever with, those who were prepared to destroy machinery, as stated by Senator Pearce yesterday; in the course of his remarks with regard to Cockatoo Island. It is a “most disgraceful and humiliating confession to have to make that, in this country, there are men who think that, by the destruction of machinery, they will secure any advantage to themselves, or the class to which they belong: It is an entirely mistaken notion, and one which. I am sure is not countenanced by members of the Australian Labour movement. Now, referring to the recruiting campaign, I want to point out that a number of reasons contributed to the falling off’ of recruits during this- year. It. will be remembered that about March last, Senator Pearce said that, even if we. had had conscription, we; could not have sent- one additional man to the front.
– Reinforcements . then were.- coming: in at the rate, of 16,000 a month.
– At: that-time,- Senator Pearce was’ apparently not a conscriptionist, and he was- replying to- the rising agitation for conscription.
– I: said that we could’ not then send an: additional man- to thefront, but- 1 think- we might have sentdifferent’ men-
Senator- GRANT. - Following upon that statement’ by the Minister, the> enlistments - dropped to the extent of about 6,000 per- month.
– - Do you really think’ that was due to my statement ?
– I do not know, but I have- no- doubt that- such” a statement- coming from the Minister for Defence, and published broadcast throughout the country, would give the people of Australia an impression that we were getting enough men to meet all our requirements.
– What do you suggest I should have said?
– It would have been far better if the Minister had said nothing. In January last the voluntary enlistments totalled about 22,000 a month; in March, 15,000; but for April, after the Minister’s statement - they dropped to 9,000; and in June, July, and August, they totalled only a little over 6,000 per month. Notwithstanding that, I repeat we have secured more than sufficient recruits to keep our divisions up to their normal strength.
– That settles it, so long as you say~so.
– And the Minister for Defence will not deny the accuracy of the statement.
– Yes, I do.
– Then I shall be glad if the Minister will explain the figures supplied by his own Department.
– They do not require explanation. They explain themselves.
– The figures show a margin of 66,380 on the right side.
– Do you believe the figures were accurate?
– But you do not believe the accuracy of Sir William Robertson’s statement?
– No; he is wrong.
– Well, sack Sir William Robertson, and let us have General Grant.
– It would be a good thing for the Allies if some of those responsible for the conduct of the war were sacked, and fresh men put in their places. I am glad to know that some effective action has taken place with regard to the British Cabinet. After Senator Pearce’s statement about recruiting, a considerable amount of correspondence, notwithstanding the censorship, reached Australia from the front, and placed before the people here the true position of our soldiers. That also was responsible in no small degree for a reduction in the number of those coming forward to offer themselves for their country.
– Was that correspondence from corporals or from officers?
– It was from men im. the actual firing line giving their painful experiences, and stating what was happening there. The severe punishment* for military offences meted out to Australian soldiers at the front also had a damaging effect on recruiting in Australia. It was a mistake to inflict such severe punishments on our soldiers.
– Some of ‘your constituents are objecting to members of the Industrial Workers of the World being punished for murder and arson.
– I might remind the honorable senator that, at the present moment an Inter-State Labour Conference is sitting in Melbourne, and when a proposal objecting to the punishment of these men was submitted to that conference, it was turned down by twentyfour votes to four, indicating plainly that members of the conference had little sympathy with those men.
– But there were only six New South Wales members at that conference, against twenty-four others.
– I do not know how they voted, but I point out. that the Labour movement has shown no sympathy with the men referred to by Senator Story. I have not had time to read the evidence of the trial, but I know some of the men received sentences of fifteen years, I want now to place before the Senate information with regard to the punishment of Australian soldiers, which I think was largely responsible for a falling off in recruiting. The first instance which I shall quote is the case of Private A. G. Anderson. Particulars of his case are set out in the following letter written by his mother -
Crime committed - While on desert they suffered with shortage of food. The company, or part of it, wanted to draw the O.C.’s attention to state of things. “So they decided to not obey the order of “ lift your packs,” thinking the O.C. would investigate. He asked no questions, but immediately placed them under arrest, Court martialled in the desert, brought back here, and serving a term of 18 months’ hard labour in the Goulburn .Gaol. He was twelve months away, five months in trenches without a spell. Another brother, E. T. Anderson, on active service in France, and one in camp at Kiama.
I say that punishment of that kind does not tend -to promote recruiting.
SenatorGRANT. - I think that it should induce the Government to take action, and review these sentences. I take the case now of No. 1134, Private R. Bernberg, of D Company, 17th Battalion, 5th Infantry Brigade, who is doing three years’ penal servitude in Darlinghurst. He writes -
Sir, - I beg to call your attention respecting my return to Australia to undergo a sentence of three years’ penal servitude. The reasons why I appeal toyou are as follows : - I am number 1134 Private E. Bernberg, of “ D “ Company, 17th Battalion, 5th Infantry Brigade. I embarked from Australia on the troopship No. A32 on 12th May, 1915. I arrived in Egypt a few weeks later, where we had to undergo a severe training. On or about 15th August we embarked on the troopship Alornia for the Peninsula, where we arrived on 20th August. I was then fighting with my battalion for seventeen weeks until the evacuation, after which We were sent back to Egypt. I wish to state that up to the time I got into this trouble I had only one crime. I am nineteen years of age, strong, and perfectly willing, and would be only too pleased, to go back to the front and prove myself, as I have already done, and at this time when my country needs me. The crime I am sentenced on to such a term of imprisonment is what other men are daily getting a few days’ confinement to barracks for. At the court martial the crime was stated as “ Absent without leave and insubordinate language to a non-commissioned officer.” This crime was committed in Egypt after the evacuation. I appeal to you,sir, to do your utmost in this matter and get me my liberty, so that I can fall in the ranks again with my fellow countrymen.
I remain, yours respectfully,
– I may say that I went through Darlinghurst Gaol a few weeks ago, and I was pained and surprised to see the number of men who are there, and to learn the trivial offences for which they have been incarcerated. I take another case, that of No. 1517, Private W. J. Clinton,C Company, 19th Battalion, 5th Brigade. He is serving five years’ penal servitude. One would think that we did not need any men at the front. Private Clinton writes -
Sir, - I, the undersigned, wish to appeal against the sentence passed on me whilst in Egypt. I am charged with - 1. Disobeying an order. 2. Obscene language. 3. Escaping from custody. On which charges I am sentenced to five years’ penal servitude. I will endeavour to give you a true statement of what occurred, all of which was stated on oath at my court martial. I was ordered by our O.C. to have a shave. I told him I did not own a razor, to which he replied by swearing and telling me to borrow one. While endeavouring to borrow one I was sent by a sergeant out in the desert on fatigue, with which order I complied. Upon returning to the lines I was walking along with the sergeant to borrow a razor when our O.C. saw me, and once again abused me about not having a shave, at which I lost “my head and abused him in return. Then I was placed under arrest, ‘and put into the guard tent, from where I escaped, not having any leave since my first arrival in Egypt, and knowing that after being court martialled for the first charges would not get a chance, took it on myself, got out. of the guard tent, and went into Cairo. I might state that I was on the Peninsula from August 5th till the final evacuation, and always done my duty to the entire satisfaction of the officers and N.C.O.’s of my battalion. While there for a couple of months I was attached to the Engineers doing sapping duty, and helped during the last days at Gallipoli to mine the Turkish trenches. While at Lemnos, after returning from the Peninsula, I broke camp to visit Castro, a village a few “miles away, for which crime I was sentenced to 28 days’ second field punishment, which included a forfeiture of £7 pay. Upon returning to Egypt and, thinking that my punishment was finished, refused to attend defaulters’ parade, for which I got another 28 days and £7 fine. It was on returning to the lines after being tried for the latter offence that the present trouble arose. Up to the time of leaving Gallipoli I had the cleanest of sheets, and, if given another chance, will do my best to soldier on and play the game. Trusting this matter will receive your earnest consideration.
Private E. W. j. Clinton, 1517.
Here is a man who got five years because he refused to get a shave.
– No ; because he broke camp.
– The origin of his trouble was that he refused to get a shave, and that the officer who told him to get a shave did’ not know how to treat men.
– One would think that we had tens of thousands of men offering themselves. Even if we had, I say that there can be no justification for confining a man in gaol for five years because he refuses to shave when his commanding officer tells him to do so.
– He disobeyed orders.
– The main objection to himwas that hewould not get ashave because he had not a razor.
– He would not have been given five years’ penal servitude for that.
-He did get that sentence, and he is serving it now.
SenatorPearce. - The honorable senator , has given , the man’s -statement, but the whole of the papers in the case are not before us.
– I now refer to the cases of No. 529, Private H. J. . Dalton, No. 649, Private J. Quill, -and No. 751, : Private R. J. ‘Fountain, of B : Company 20th . Battery, 5th Infantry Brigade. What offence did they commit? They write -
Darlinghurst ‘Barracks, 6th June, 1916.
Sir,- We beg to draw your attention to our case, arid ask you to see if you can get us a remission of our sentence. Our battalion (20th Battalion) were seventeen weeks on the Peninsula, andwe were among the last to remain on Anzac at the evacuation. When we returned, to Egypt, after a fortnight atLeranos Island, our battalion was camped at Telelkebir about four weeks, and then we were shifted across the Suez Canal and placed on the Canal defences. On ‘our return from Gallipoli leave had been. granted to 1 per cent. per day, we, not being amongst the lucky ones, did not receive leave. We were posted out on the Arabian Desert, and the main work allotted to our battalion was that of constructing a railway. On . 29th . February, 1916, we were detailed off for outpost for the following day. At 7.55 on 1st March, 1916, it was found that the railway working party was short, and we were picked to make up the number. The party had been issued with water before we joined them. After a march of 1 or 1½ miles in the broiling sun we reached the work, . and we were detailed off with a party under, a corporal to shovel sand on the line. We didn’t start work, and the corporal asked us what was the matter, and we stated that we wanted adrink of water,and then we would start work. We were refused. We then asked the corporal for a drink out of his bottle, with same result. A sergeant was brought along, and he asked us what was the matter, and we stated that we wanted a drink of water, and then we would start work. An officer was then brought along, and he asked thesame question as the sergeant, and got the same answer. At the court martial our characters were given as “very good,” and ‘we were sentenced to three years’ penal servitude each. We were taken to ‘Citadel ‘Detention Barracks. We did six weeks there (four of which were spent in single cells). We have now done twelve weeks of our sentence. Hoping that you can receive for us a -remission of our sentence.
We remain,yours truly,
– Does the honorable senator mean tosay that these men got three years’ penalservitude because they askedfora drink?
– Yes, because they asked for a drink.These sentences have already been published in the Australian Worker newspaper and in other organs. They are to a certain extent known throughout New SouthWales, and they had a very material effect in causing the people to pause before they decided to force other men to go to the front to be dealt with insimilar fashion for similar offences. Here is another case, that of No. . 1925, Private F. Evans, D Company,. 18th -Battalion, 5th Brigade. He only got two years’ hard labour. . He writes -
Sir,-I, the . undersigned, beg . to appealto you in regard to the severity of my sentence. On February 17th I was court martialled on the charge of disobeying < an order and showing wilful defiance of authority and sentenced to two years’, hard labour. This happened at Telelkebir Camp. after our return from the Peninsula. Previous to this offence I had nine months’ service with an entirely clean record. Eight weeks ofthis time -was -spent on the Peninsula in the. firing line. . From the date of the evacuation . up till the date of this offence we were almost continually on -short rations of . food and water, and a full measure of work, which did not tend to sweeten our tempers. Therefore, on being addressed by asergeant in a sharp manner first thing in the morning, gavehim a hasty answer, with the above result. During my career as a soldier Ihave endeavoured to carry out my duties in a manly and soldierly manner, which fact was proved to the satisfaction of the officers constituting . my court martial. Trusting you will give this matter your earnest consideration, and take my previous record as an indication of my character.
I am, yours obediently,
– Yes, two years’ hard labour for a hasty answer - that is all. The public do not appear to know what is being done.
– A great many of them do know, and we have seen the result.
-i have no hesitation in saying that, if the statements made in the letter . are true,the sentence is a disgrace to civilization. What evidence has the honorable senator in support of those statements ?
– I have not only the evidence of the letter, but something to back it up, which I shall refer to later on.
– It is the statement of the individual concerned that the honorable senator has read?
– Yes, I have quoted his own letter. These men are incarcerated in various gaols in New South Wales, and for the reasons to which I have referred. I have the original documents before me, or I would not be one to submit them to the Senate. The cases I have referred to are typical of many others, the facts concerning which I can give to honorable senators.
Sitting suspended from1 to. 2.30 p.m.
– In regard to “the case of No. 1191, Private James Fenwick, ofD.Company, 17th Battalion, of the Australian Imperial Force, who wassentenced to six months’hard labour, I wish to submit the following statement, with a view to showing the offences for which some men at the front are punished by six months’ imprisonment: -
I, ‘JamesFenwick, No. 1191, of D Co., 17th Battalion, 5th Inf. Brigade, wish to draw your attention to my. sentence, received in Egypt, for conduct prejudicial to good order and military conduct, and absence without leave, for which I received six months’ imprisonment, with hard labour.
I left Australia on the 12th May, . 1915, and went into action in August on Gallipoli. After being on Gallipoli some weeks I became ill, and had to go back into hospital in Egypt. I was only out of hospital one week when I left again for Gallipoli, where I stayed until the evacuation, in December.
I was one ofthe last to leave Quinn’s Post on 21st December. After leaving Gallipoli we stayed onLemnos Island . until. after the New Year. We then proceeded to Egypt, and campedat Tel-el-Kebir, about 80 . miles from Cairo, and only.l per cent. a. day were. allowed leave. I only had been granted leave once since leaving Australia nine months before. I asked for leave and was refused, so I absented myself on Sunday, the 30th of January of this year, andwas . arrested and . taken to Cassil Hill Barracks, ..and detained there . until 1st February, and then brought back to camp.
Weleft Tel-el-Kebir-and proceeded out into the Arabian Desert into the first line of the Suez defence. Iwas then let out on open arrest,and I had to do guard. and outpost duty, also I -helped in the digging of the. trenches. We left there about six -weeks . after,. and came back to the Suez Canal , to Moascar Camp, where I was tried and sentenced to. six months, and was sent to Abbassia Detention Barracks, - where I was imprisoned for . six weeks, and then- . was brought tout to Port -Suez and taken on board . the troopship Seang-Bee, and sent back ..to Australia, -after being . away thirteen months.
I think I would be of more use to my country inthe trenches than in prison, so I would most willingly go back to the frontif only I was allowed to seemy -people before I go back.
Trusting you will do your utmost on our behalf, I am, yours truly, ( Sgd. ) Private James Fenwick, No. 1 19 1,
Honorable senators will agree with me that the punishment meted out to this Australiansoldier was altogether outof proportion to the offence committed. But it is only typical of a great number of cases. These facts are fairly well known, and I have no hesitation in saying that when they were brought under the notice of the Government,theGovernment should have exerciseda good deal of clemency towards these men.
– They did not.
– Did youbring these casesbeforethe Government?
– I did.
– With what result ?
– The men are still in gaol.
– They probably deserve to be there.
– There is another side,I suppose ?
– If there is, I have not seen it.
Senator -Guthrie. - What wasthe Go- vernment’sreply ?
– The menare still in gaol. Take the case of No. 1435, Private Arthur Henbury, of the 13th Battalion, Australian ‘Imperial Force, who is now serving a sentence of two years imprisonment. He writes -
I beg to call your attention as regards my returnto Australia to undergo a sentence of two years’ imprisonment, and would like to give you a few facts about my trouble, the reasons being as follows: -
I am No. 1435, Private Arthur Henbury, 13th Battalion, 4th Brigade, A.I.F. I enlisted in . October, ‘ 1914, volunteered for active service, and embarked on 22nd December, 1914, arriving in Egypt a few weeks later, where we camped at Heliopolis. We underwent a severe training and embarked on the troopship Ascot, 12th April, 1915, -wereaboard ten days, slept on an iron deck, , and our food was “ bully “ beef - and biscuits. ‘
I took part in the landing on 25th April, and was in that awful attack of the 2nd May. : My company (D) -was under Captain Simpson, -who led us andobtained the Military Cross. . The casualties during thenight were,
I believe, 1,500, when we had to retire. I was also with my battalion in the big advance on 6th August, being in the ammunition column under Lieutenant McDonald. On this occasion I was mentioned in despatches for conspicuous service on the field - for carrying bombs and ammunition to the advancing troops on the 6th, 7th, and 8th August under heavy shell fire. I continued this work up to 26th August, when I was ordered to report to the Divisional Head-Quarters Staff, to take over acting sergeant-cook to General Godley and staff - being a cook by profession. I held this position until October, when I left the Peninsula (after being there from April to October without a rest) to rejoin my battalion, which at that time had already had five weeks’ rest at Lemnos Island.
I wish to state that from the time I left Egypt and went aboard the Ascot in April to land on the Peninsula, until the time I embarked on the Tuesion, after the evacuation, I never saw civilization until I returned to Egypt , on 4th January, 1916.
I am an Englishman, and go to sea as a cook to support a wife and family, and when the war broke out was a cook on the Orient liner Orvieto, and I left this to volunteer for the front.
I also state that the allotment I left for my wife in November was not received for months after, and during the time I was in Egypt and on the Peninsula fighting, I was getting letters from home stating that they were starving, which worried me to such an extent that at times I did not know what I was doing.
I have been going to sea for years in some of the finest liners afloat, and always held a good record, which you can obtain from the Board of Trade or my wife in England. I do not wish to make myself out a saint on this occasion, or that during my service I always did what I was told, and never drank; but I appeal to you, as a citizen, to try and obtain for me another chance after the hardships I have been through, to take up my position in the ranks with my fellow men, and for the sake of my wife and children, who are so many thousands of miles away.
I have the honour to be, sirs,
Your obedient servant,
– He was charged with being absent without leave, with being drunk, and with breaking custody. His wife does not get the money which is due to her, and the man himself is prepared to go to the front straight away.
– Have these communications been censored?
– Indeed they have not.
– Order ! Asfar as I have been able to follow the honorable senator, I think that he is quoting these letters for the second time. I believe that he quoted them before the suspension of the sitting for luncheon. Once is quite sufficient to quote them, and the honorable senator will not be in order in” reading them again.
– I think, sir, that you are mistaken. However, I will not dispute your ruling. I will not again read the letter which I have just quoted. I wish now to put before the Senate another letter, in. reference to the case of No. 1729, Private John Jamieson, of the 20th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force. He is serving eighteen months’ hard labour in Darlinghurst Gaol. He writes -
I wish to call your attention respecting my coming home from the front to serve a sentence of eighteen months’ hard labour.
I am No. 1729, John Jamieson, of the 20th Battalion, B Company, 5th Brigade, A.I.F.
I enlisted on the 1st June, 1915, and was only in camp nineteen days when I stepped to the front and volunteered for active service. I embarked on the troopship Kanouma on the 19th June, and arrived a few weeks later. I wish to state I was only in Egypt on twentyfour hours when I again volunteered for the Peninsula, which I arrived in time for the Lone Pine charge, which I took part, being an ammunition carrier to the Glasgow Battery. I was doing this work until my battalion arrived two or three weeks later, when I joined and relieved the 8th and 10th Light Horse on WalkerRidge. I then stayed in the trenches for some considerable time, when I was chosen as a bomb thrower to the battalion. I did this work until the evacuation, when I was picked out as a bomb thrower for the rear guard, Russell’s Top.
I also wish to say I sprained my ankle in the early part of the evening, and was ordered to leave my post by Major Fitzgerald, who I asked a favour to stop to the last, which was granted to me. When we left Russell’s Top we embarked for Lemnos Island, and then went through a severe training, and then embarked for Egypt, where we arrived a few days later, and went to Tel-el-Kebir for more training, and -then to Australia Hill, doing trench sapping and patrol duties, after which we marched 15 or 20 miles to Ismailia. I received a. new rifle with the battalion to go to France. Whilst at Moosco I went into the village with some more of my friends, and got native drink. When arriving back at the camp I was placed in the guard tent for being drunk. I was charged with being drunk and using insubordinate language to my superior officer, named Sergeant Holman. i was put back for a court martial,found guilty, and sentenced to eighteen months’ hard labour, and taken, with others, to Abbassia Detention Barracks. I was there about fourteen days, and then taken hand-cuffed through the street of
Cairo to Citadel Prison, and was confined in a small cell twenty-five days.
I was then taken on board the H.M.A.T. Seang-Bee for Australia. I wish to state that I was in the R.N.R. as a qualified seaman, and discharged with good testimonials. I ask of you to try and do your utmost for me and my comrades to be released, so that we may be able to go back to the front with our respective units at this critical moment when my country needs me. I wish to state, in conclusion, that I am a married man, with a wife anl five children to support. I am also a member of the Trolley Draymen’s Union. I was working up to the time of enlistment driving for W. McKeown, Glebe, for some considerable time. Trusting you will be successful on my behalf. I wish also to state that I have never got leave from the army since I joined twelve months ago.
Sir, I have the honour to be,
Your obedient servant, (Sgd.) Private John Jamieson.
Private address : 28 Marmion-street, Camperdown, Sydney, N.S.W.
– It is dated 7th June, 1916.
– When did he commence to serve his sentence ?
– He does not say.
– Has he slept on his grievance from June of this year up to the present time?
– I take it that he has been in gaol all the time.
– Did not the honorable senator have ample opportunity to place his case before the late Government?
– But the same Minister for Defence is still in office.
– The honorable senator did not give this case the ventilation that he is giving it now.
– I did not have the opportunity. I hope that the result of the disclosures which I am now making will be an immediate inquiry into these cases, with a view to a substantial remission of the sentences imposed upon these men.
– Did these letters come to the honorable senator voluntarily ?
– Yes. I received the following letter from. Jamieson’s wife : -
I am the wife of Private John Jamieson, of the 20th Battalion, now serving a sentence in Goulburn Gaol for a military offence committed in Egypt. I am now depending on State aid for my children, five in number, including a young baby six months old, so if you could do anything for my husband I would be greatly obliged to you. I have received no military allowance since the 18th June.
I sent the following reply : -
In receipt of your letter dated 14th inst., and, in reply, have to state in response to representation already made by me to the Defence Department a reply has come to hand that this case will be considered when a full report of the proceedings of the court martial is received by the Department. These proceedings were cabled for some time ago.
That is the last I heard of the case. The details of the case of Trooper William Waddell Miller, No. 720, B Squadron, 6th Light Horse, are as follow : -
I, No. 720, Trooper William Waddell Miller, “ B “ Squadron, 6th Australian Light Horse, do hereby appeal against the sentence of two years’ hard labour I am now undergoing. I appeal on these counts : -
The illegality of my detention below deck on the transportHunts-end for 48 hours without a trial; the flimsiness of the evidence; the illegal action of taking written evidence from an officer in the vicinity of the first inquiry; the biased action on the part of Colonel Cox in prompting a witness in an answer as to time and date, which fie was unable to answer.
My case is as follows : -
I, Trooper William Waddell Miller, was arrested and placed below deck, and detained there, without any charge being formulated against me, for 48 hours. I was liberated, and told that nothing further would be heard of the matter. Alter landing at Anzac as a free man, carrying arms and equipment, some seven or eight hours after, I was informed by Sergeant P. Ryan that I was under arrest. That day I was taken before Colonel Cox, who read out a charge of disobeying a lawful command and insolence to my superior officer, which consisted of abusive language. The evidence in favour of the charge was laid by Lieutenant Buskin, -coupled with a written report by Colonel O’Dowda, Royal Dublin Fusiliers.
I pleaded “ Not’ guilty.” Colonel Cox then said, “Will you be tried by- ? No, you’ll have a court martial.” The Adjutant then took the summary of evidence, Colonel Cox still remaining in the orderly-room, also a trooper not connected with the case. The Adjutant, in adjudicating on the case, put the following question to Lieutenant Buskin : - “On what date, day, and what timeof day was the crime committed?” Lieutenant Buskin looked confused, and could not answer until Colonel Cox rose and reached across the table for the evidence on the written report by Colonel O’Dowda, who was in the vicinity, and could have been present, thus rendering his evidence as invalid. A court martial was granted. At the court martial, held on the 3rd September, 1915, four more witnesses were produced who were not present at the summary, thus giving me no opportunity to crossquestion them, and thus lay before the General both sides of the case before he granted the court martial.
Colonel O’Dowda’s evidence Was still in writing, though he was procurable. Each of the above-mentioned witnesses replied, on being asked as to my condition, that I was under the influence of drink, but not drunk.
In the Army Regulations there is no such quibble, a man is either sober or he is drunk. The result of this court martial was a sentence of two years’ hard labour. I think, to an unbiased mind, this case has every appearance of a conspiracy, taking into consideration the paltryness of the charge and the heavy penalty inflicted.
The only reason I can give is that I attempted to prevent the wholesale robberies that were being committed, by the confiscation of the troops’ rations, who were fighting in the trenches, for the use of persons who had never been in the firing line, and had no intention of ever going, as far as they themselves were concerned.
I can also mention, ifnecessary, the name of an officer in my regiment who was - himself severely reprimanded on approaching the Colonel on the matter of getting the men in the trenches more food and water. Of food there was an abundance, although water was not quite so plentiful.
The Governor of Gabbari Military Prison, Colonel Owen Hassal, Royal Warwick Regiment, to which prison I was sent, recommended me as being a fit and proper person to be released and sent’ back to the trenches:
He has also written a letter on my behalf to the Minister of Justice, NewSouth Wales.
I arrived in Sydney on June 3rd, 1916, to complete the remainder of my sentence.
I have already served my countryin the Boer War, and have been wounded on the 18th June in the present war.
Now, sir, I trust you will see your way clear to investigate into this matter, and thus prevent a greater miscarriage of justice than has been done up till now.
I am only too anxious to go back again and fight for my country, as it is such paltry crimes and such heavy sentences which aresapping the strength of Australia’s Army, which has so nobly upheld the traditions of the Boer War.
Thanking you in anticipation, Sir,
I am your obedient servant, 720 Trooper William W. Miller. 6th Australian Light Horse.
Home address : C/o Mrs. E.. Murray, 41 Merriman-street, Miller’s Point, Sydney.
That is another case which seems to require immediate investigation, and I have other documents corroborating Trooper Miller’s statements. Another case showing undue severity is that of Corporal S. P. Murray, No. 615, A Company, 20th Battallion, 5th Infantry Brigade. His statement is as follows : -
Oh March 16th I was tried by court martial on the charges of insubordinate and threatening language to an officer, and striking another N.C.O., and sentenced to 12 months’ hard labour. Previous to being tried, I applied to our Adjutant to be allowed out on open arrest to arrange my defence and obtain the services of a prisoner’s friend, my request being refused; and, having been under the influence of some Egyptian concoction sold as whisky, was totally unaware of what had taken place. My first knowledge of anything having happened was on my awakening in the guard tent tied up. This happened atIsmailia Camp after our return from the desert.. Previous to this I have had a. clear record, only having been once before our Battalion Court for overstaying my leave by three hours in February, 1916. My company O.C. said this wouldnot be recorded against me on account of previous good service.
I was on the. Peninsula for eighteen weeks, and for three months of this time I held the responsible position of Acting Post SergeantMajor, administering the work and manning of our post right up till the evacuation. Also had the honour of being selected by our O.C. as the last man to leave the firing line on Walker’s Ridge, having to cover theretreat of our party by subterfuge and close our line of retirement with barbed wire, being accompanied on this latter by Lieutenant, now Captain, Hosking:
Whilston duty in the firing line I suffered from the effect of concussion from shell fire twice, the last time, just four days before our evacuation, I was rendered deaf for twentyfour hours, and left subject to violent headaches. On the arrival of the rearguard at Lemnos Island we were paraded in front of General Godley and complimented on our work, our names being mentioned in despatches. From here we were drafted to Egypt, and sent out ten miles over the Suez Canal into the desert to one ceaseless round of hard work digging trenches in the sand on short rations, both of food and water. Whilst here I Was again complimented by our Brigade Major for good work carried out at head-quarters. From here we were marched over to Ismailia Camp to reorganize for France, this being the first little bit of civilization we had seen since our departure for the Peninsula in August last year, just eight months. Taking into consideration my past services and steadiness as a non-commissioned officer (which position I held for ten months), I trust you will agree with me that, for a disciplinary offence committed at a time whilst I was not responsible for my actions, this sentence isunduly harsh.
Evidence as to good character was given at my court martial to the entire satisfaction of the President and the Court, it also being conclusively proved by three witnesses that I wasnot responsible for my actions at the time, and on the. morning. I was read out before the battalion one of our officers came and shook hands to bid me good-bye, as the battalion was leaving for France that night, and remarked, “ Cheer up, I’ll see you back in the firing line in about three months’ time, as these sentences were made particularly heavy for disciplinary reasons on account of the troops going to France.”
I might also state that I am a married man with a wife and child dependent solely on me, and’ how they are. going to get on, . God only knows, if I have to complete this sentence.
I understand that while men are in gaol their wives get no support from the De- fence ‘Department, yet they wonder why recruiting has fallen off, and have the impudence to call anti-conscriptionists pro-Germans. The following is the statement of Private J. Phillips, No. 2068, B Company, 19th Battalion, 5th InfantryBrigade, A.I.F., now doing three years’ penal servitude in Darlinghurst gaol-
On 24th February, 1918, A and B Com- panies of the 19th Battalion were roused at a.m. preparatory to shifting camp on to the desert. At 6 a.m., after having loaded tents and other material on to transport waggons, both companies were fallen in, in full marching order, consisting of full web equipment, containing 150 rounds of ammunition, valise containing underclothing, haversack containing two days’ rations, full water bottle, and two blankets, and waterproof sheets strapped over all, also rifle. After standing in platoons for one hour the O.C. arrived on parade and granted the company permission to sit down. He then returned to the mess tent to havehis breakfast. Returning half an hour later he again fell us in, and kept us standing for half an hour before moving off to entrain for Moaski. On arrival there’ we were marched to the outskirts of Ismailia, where we halted for the first meal of that day. During this halt I found it necessary to retire, and as there was no latrine near at hand I had to go a couple of hundred yards to obtain privacy. On returning I found that the battalion had moved off, leaving a man (Private Hidden) in charge of my equipment and rifle. Soon afterwards another member of the company turned up, having been left behind also, and together the three of us resumed our march in the direction taken by the battalion. As my right foot was very painful from the long standing thatmorning, and had increased by having to stand during theentire threehours’ train journey,itwas decided tohire agharry, by whichmeanswe might catch up the battalion. After driving forsome timeweovertookthe rear of the 18th Battalionwhich was proceeding in the same direction. A staff officer stopped our gharry and told us toget out, which we did. We were than placed in Captain Hinton’s charge, who detailed a corporal to bring us along. We caught up to the 18th, who at this time were resting at the roadside, and sat down with them. When they resumed the march we were ordered by Captain Hinton to fall in with them. I told Captain Hinton that I was unable to proceed as my right foot was then very bad. He then ordered the other two to join up, and Private Smith, who was under the influence of liquor, refused to proceed without me. Captain Hinton then asked for our names and numbers, which we gave; he entered them in his notebook,and I askedhim toleave us, tellinghim that we would follow, as Private Smith was unaware of what he was doing orsaying. He then left us, cautioning us to follow,and Smith shouted anobscene remark after him.I told Smith to stop, as Captain Hinton would only put the remark down in his book. We followed on slowly, meeting on our way Captain Peren, A.M.C., our medical officer. He asked us what was wrong, and I informed him that I was suffering from bad feet. He did not inspect my feet, but directed us to the camp at Ferry Post. On the following day we moved on and made our camp at Katoomba Post; I again having to fall out and follow slowly in the rear. After three days’ trench digging and outpost duties I was sent for and brought before Colonel Mackenzie, who ordered my feet to be examined, which examination was carried out while standing in six inches of soft sand, making a satisfactory examination impossible. The Colonel was then informed that I was suffering from flat foot, but not sufficiently so to incapacitate me from service, and I was then remanded on two charges as follows : -
Disobeying an order to fall in.
Using insubordinate language to an officer.
After ten more ‘days’ trench digging I was placed under arrest toawait court martial. A fortnight later I was tried by Field General Court Martial, and, on the word of this one officer, Captain Hinton, against my own and that of Private Hidden, I was sentenced.
And now he is doing three years’ penal servitude in Darlinghurst gaol. Here is the case of No. 1225, Private F. Purkiss, 1st Battalion, Australian Imperial Force, undergoing a sentence of three years in Darlinghurst -
The offence for which I am sentenced is leading the trenches without permission.
I,No. 1225, Private F. Purkiss, of the Australian Imperial Force,undergoing a sentence of three years’ imprisonment, now lying in Darlinghurst.
Sir, I am asking you if you could see your way clear of getting me released, as Ihave now done over twelve months ofmy sentence, and I offered to go back to my comrades in the firing line and domy bit with them, which they would not allowme to do, so you can see for yourself that it isno fault of my own being sent back here, which I know is a great expense to the Australian Government, as I am not aman of that sort, as I would like to see the end of this war, and I thoroughly understand that this is not the right way to go about it,as the country is in need of -men: at the present time.
Sir, I hope you will give this appealconsideration.
I remain, yours truly,
I was also in the landing party, and was there three months.
Yet the Governmentkeep a man of this sort in gaol ! I wish to submit now the case of N.o. 1242, Private Charles Henry Searle, D . Company, 1st Battalion, Australian Imperial Force, who is doing” twelve months’ hard labour in Darlingburst gaol. He says -
I wish to call your attention with respect to my sentence of twelve months’ hard labour. I belong to D Company, 1st Reinforcements, 1st Battalion, 1st Infantry Brigade, A.I.F.
I arrived in Egypt 2nd February, 1915, where I went straight into camp with my battalion at Mena Camp, the Pyramids. The Brigadier of the brigade had us up for inspection, when he told us we were fit for the front. We embarked a week later for Lemnos Island, where we were practising to land from the ships’ cutters. I landed with my battalion on the 25th April. I was there five months when the Suvla Bay landing was made. We had to have a charge at a place called Lone Pine to draw the Turks’ attention from Suvla Bay. I went through the charge as a first class bomber.
On 13th September my brigade, that is, the 1st Brigade, went away to Lemnos Island for six weeks’ spell. We were relieved by the 23rd and 24th Battalions. I was specially selected by my Commanding Officer, Captain Loyd, as a first class bomb-throwing instructor to the 23rd and 24th Battalions. I stopped with them a fortnight as an instructor. Corporal dudley also stopped behind; but, unfortunately, he was killed. When I went for a spell, I only had one month.
The battalion had an issue of beer and stout, and also drew £7 in two pays. I arrived two weeks later. I could not get any beer or stout, and it took me all my time to get £1. ,
We went back to the Peninsula at the end of October, and ‘relieved the 3rd Brigade and Light Horse. It was here that I got my F.5.C.M., for stealing money and goods, the property of an officer. I was sentenced to twelve months’ imprisonment with hard labour. It was reduced till further orders. In the meantime, I was sent back into the firing line.
The sole motive of the crime was I wanted to get my discharge. ‘ When I committed the crime I had £27 in my pocket. The way we were getting treated was something awful - twenty-four hours in the firing line, and twenty-four hours’ digging. I got about four hours’ sleep in forty-eight hours.
– They must be getting more than four hours in fortyeight hours.
– The statement continues -
I never heard anything about my sentence until after the evacuation, when I went into the Citadel Military Prison for three months.
Sir, I wish to go back to the front in another unit after I see my mother. I have lost my father and grandfather since I have been fight-, ing on Gallipoli. I have been wounded once.
Hoping you will see into this for me. I am an employee in the railway.
Tour obedient servant,
Pte. CHARLES HENRY Searle.
Then there is the case of Private T. C. Smith, of the 19th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force, who is doing four years in Darlinghurst.
– Is there any gaol there now?
– This man is either there or in some other gaol. He is “not out of gaol, so far as I know, although men are urgently required at the front. .
– It is a funny thing to hear of. officers gaoling these men when men are wanted so badly.
– The Minister ought to go up to Darlinghurst gaol and find out the reason why these men are being detained.
– It is funny.
– This is the statement of No. 663, Private T. C. Smith-
I, No. 663, Private T. C. Smith, 19th Battalion, A.I.F., at present undergoing sentence of four years’ penal servitude, now beg to place this - my case before your notice, and trust you will endeavour to get a remission of my sentence, and permission to rejoin my unit at the earliest opportunity.
After the battalion arriving in Egypt, after the evacuation, we were on the march from Mocassar Station to Stadium Camp, Ismailia, on the 24th January, 1916. We halted for lunch, some of us proceeding to town to obtain something to eat. Some drink was also introduced, and when we came back the company had moved on. We put on our equipment, and tried to pick the company up again. We hired a conveyance to take us on, as one of the party, Private Phillips, had a bad foot, and could not keep up with us. A staff officer, with the rank of major, ordered us out of the gharri, also instructing an N.C.O. of the 18th Battalion to take charge of us and hand us over to our unit. We joined up with the 18th Battalion. They were resting when we came up to them. It seems, sir, that after reaching the Stadium Camp we again started off for the Arabian Desert, and three days after arrival there I was charged with threatening my superior officer and abusive language. As to those charges, I am totally ignorant of their ever having been committed; as from the time I missed my own company at Ismailia, I was deep in the state of intoxication, and everything seems a blank to me up to the time I was brought before the officer commanding to stand my trial on those charges.
I must also state, sir, that there are two of my brothers at the front besides myself, and one of them severely wounded at the Palace Hospital, Cairo: that, coupled with the fact that I had, “though at a loss to state the date,” been buried in the trench through the enemy’s shell fire, causing loss of memory for the period of two months or more, must show that my constitution cannot be too strong, and where drink is introduced could be more easily overcome than one whose constitution was in a normal condition.
I have already completed four months of this sentence. I am but a youth of eighteen years, just budding into manhood, one who is expected to keep up the traditions of his country as a peaceful and law-abiding citizen. Surely to guide a man into the right path there must be a kind and helping hand to assist a straggler from the path. Also consider the disgrace my sentence throws on the parents who brought me up, and have thus got the finger of disgrace pointed at them, though they themselves have done nothing to incur this punishment. I only ask, for their sake, as well as for the chance to return to the firing line and redeem my good name; and on this request being granted I will endeavour to show the world at large that I am well worthy of the chance.
So far as I know, this private is still in either Darlinghurst or some other gaol in New South Wales completing the balance of his sentence. It is difficult, of course, to state definitely, but, according to the evidence in my possession, the sentences imposed on these men were altogether too severe. Next, I wish to quote the case of Corporal J. A. Walker, who, with privates C. R. Yeadon, M. G. Alcock, E. J. King, A. G. Anderson, T. J. Rowland, P. Hill, and W. Fletcher, signed a joint request for the remission of their sentences -
We, the seven undersigned members of C Company, 19th Battalion, 5th Brigade, A.I.F., beg to draw your attention to our case, and to record an appeal against the severity and injustice of our sentences. The charges laid against us were - I., Joining in a meeting; II., Disobedience of an order. The circumstances being as follows: -
On Thursday, 3rd February, 1916, we arrived at Katoomba Post, about 4 p.m., after a 10-mile march across the desert carrying full equipment and ammunition. Shortly after our arrival we were issued with four and onehalf biscuits per man, and were instructed that this was our bread allowance for four meals. By dinner time next day the bread allowance was finished, and our dinner consisted solely of a slice of bacon per man, a few lucky ones getting tea. The whole company, being dissatisfied, desired to make their complaint to the orderly officer of the day; but he did not come round the lines as was. customary. Next we asked our tent commander, Corporal Walker, to be paraded to the O.C., and he approached the company orderly sergeant, who refused to parade him. As all our efforts to make our complaint were futile, the whole company fell in on afternoon parade without packs, hoping by this means to draw our officers’ attention to our grievance, and being quite willing to put our packs on afterwards. When our O.C. came on parade, instead of making inquiries, as we had hoped, he ordered the company to fall out and put their packs on. No one in the company complied with this order. He then addressed two men individually, and had them immediately arrested. Then our corporal was arrested, and although he tried to explain the company’s behaviour, was immediately silenced. Following this, after much persuasion from all the officers in the company, the remainder fell out to put their packs on. Before going to put our packs on, five of us approached our O.C, Major Norrie, and asked him if he would give the three men under arrest the same privilege that he hadgiven the rest of us, namely, a second opportunity to put their packs on. He replied that the two privates could have another chance, but not the corporal. As we could not honorably leave the corporal to bear the entire blame of a matter in which the whole company was interested, we decided to share any censure that his action might entail, just as we and the rest of the company would have been willing to share any beneficial result of the protest. Consequently, we were placed in the guard tent, and, after a fortnight, were court martialled, and received the following sentences: -
No. 1111, Corporal Walker, J. A., three years’ penal servitude.
No. 1017, Private Yeadon, C. E.,eighteen months’ hard labour.
No. 1612, Private King, E. J., eighteen months’ hard labour.
No. 877, Private Hill, P., eighteen months hard labour.
No. 1501, Private Anderson, A. G., eighteen months’ hard labour.
No. 1651, Private Alcock, M. G., eighteen months’ hard labour.
No. 1753, PrivateRowland, T., twelve months’ hard labour.
No. 854, Private Fletcher, W., (still in Egypt), twelve months’ hard labour.
The above eight men have all served with the battalion from its landing on Gallipoli, in August, until the final evacuation, and, with the exception of two cases of overstaying leave, we have all got clean records from the time of our enlistment until 4th February, 1916. Two of the above were selected to stay on duty on Gallipoli until the post was finally abandoned. We beg to state that evidence of the same import as this statement was given on oath at our court martial, and that evidence as to character was given to the entire satisfaction of the President of the Court by various officers and N.C.O.’s of our company. It was also stated by our O.C. that he would have no hesitation in picking any one of the eight for- any special ob responsible- duty, and thatseveral oft us had for- nine - weeks, prior to the evacuation, of Anzac, been, on outpost, nightly without any relief, which; he considered’, was sufficient proof of our reliability.
During1 our trial the President wished- to call the- orderly officer of the day of our arrest,, to’ whom we had wished to make our complaint. . The’ prosecutor- was unable either to state who had been the orderly officer that day or to find; any record of- him in battalion, orders. It also, came- out’ in evidence that- the1 responsibility 08 issuing- our allowance, on. the 3rd. February could not be fixed on any particular non-commissioned officer in the cornpany
Trusting’ that’ this matter will receive your- earnest consideration’, as we have been in confinement since 4th February; we remain.; -
– Yes. T will read to “the Senate a letter- which I sent to the Department, under date 3rd July, 1916 - Senator Gardiner,
I have pleasure in forwarding to you for your early and favorable consideration the* attached list of names- of those- soldiers who are undergoing, terms of imprisonment, together with- a statement in connexion with each’ case, urging that either a. substantial reduction! or. a remission of the sentence, should be made’.
I have sent ‘a copy to the Minister for Defence; but shall be glad if you will also- look into the matter to see if the representations made, can be complied’ with’.
On 29th June I wrote- to Senator Pearce, Minister for Defence, as follows -
I am forwarding herewith, a list of twentythree soldiers who are undergoing’ various terms of imprisonment, together with) particulars in support, of a substantial reduction, or a complete remission, of the balance of the- sentences.
I shall be glad if you will, give these representations your early and favorable’ attention, and; if necessary, cable without delay for the evidence on which they were convicted and sentenced. ‘
I have a number of letters- from- tie Department’,, but the- following- is practically the only reply I received with respect to “these cases -
With reference to your letter” of the 29th ultimo,, forwarding’ a- list of twenty-three: soldiers who are undergoing various terms of imprisonment, and giving particulars in sup-, port of a. reduction of the terms of imprison; ment, I am directed to- inform- you that these- cases- will be- considered when a full report of the proceedings- of the courts martial is - received in- this Department.
I may add that these- proceedings were cabled for some time since.
Senator- Findley. - Did you receive, any further communication from the Department ?
– I received one on the following, day,, in reply to my letterconcerning Private Anderson.. It. reads as f follows -
With further reference to your letter of 4th - instant representing the case of Private A. G. Anderson, 19th Battalion, Australian’ ImperialForces. I am- directed to inform you that the court- martial proceedings in- the case of Private Anderson- have1 not yet been received’, and that no action can be taken regarding any remission of bis sentence- until these are- received’.
Th’e record of the court martial, which hasbeen received, shows that Private Anderson was found guilty on charges of
He was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment with hard labour on 20th. February, 1916.
The proceedings should be available shortly. and. full, consideration will be given the matter on their receipt.
All .of these cases were fairly well known throughout- New South Wales during the recent campaign, and in some of the electorates they were made full use of. Nothing could have had a more damaging effect upon recruiting, than the unsatis– factory position with regard to these men. If my memory serves me aright, I think I saw that an- officer of’ the Defence D&partment - or- perhaps it. was the Minister himself - had made a statement in the press to the effect that some consideration should be given to Australian soldiers, because, possessing a great deal of initiative, they were easy to- lead, but difficult to drive. It must be remembered that these men- bad not been trained for military duties at all, and had not. been accustomed . to discipline. Many of them- had spent their lives in. -the- bush; and, although some had been in employment, a great number had been working for themselves, and, therefore, had always been accustomed to absolute freedom of. action. When they heard the. call of the Empire, they responded. willingly, only,- however, to- find themselves surrounded by a mass of military regulations, of which they ‘ had had no previous knowledge. It is not to be wondered at, therefore, that many of them, perhaps under influence of drink of a doubtful character, supplied to them in Cairo, disobeyed some of the military regulations. Due allowance ought to be made for this fact, and the Minister for Defence and his Department ought not to have allowed these matters to stand over all these months. So far as I . know, no reply has yet been received by the Department, and so I. feel it necessary to place the matter before the Senate. I do not like doing this at all, because it would -be much more, satisfactory if the men could be released, and. given an opportunity to rejoin their regiments without delay. I-should .be glad to ber appointed as a judge -in cases of this kind, because then - most . of the men charged. with these offences. would receive permission, in . the near., future to rejoin their regiments. I agree that discipline must be maintained, but there are various ways : of . achieving that object, and we should bear in mind that Australian soldiers, unlike the soldiers of other countries, so- we. are told, cannot ber driven,. Having . said that,’ I hope that, for the sake of recruiting in . the near : future/ the Minister of Defence will cable again- and again for information regarding offences which these men have committed, and that, if he cannot get any further particulars, he will appoint a Commission here to take into consideration all the facts, and deal with the men in a commonsense way. If he does that, his action will have a beneficial effect on the men, and no in-jury whatever will be ‘ done to. the community; while, on the other hand, recruiting will be greatly stimulated throughout the whole of the Commonwealth. I do not deny; nor do I wish to disguise the fact, that the position which confronted us in August; 1914, has still to be faced. It demands all the intelligence, and ability which we can bring to bear upon it. With all due deference to Senator Findley, Germany isi not yet beaten. It is-true-.that, on the western front, for months past the Allied forces have- been slowly - pushing the German forces backwards., and I have- no doubt they will continue to do so until their, object is achieved ; but, on the- eastern front, there has been-.-an absence of news for some months, because the censors have been at” work there, especially in the northern section, and we cannot speak with any certainty regarding the position. Germany overran Servia. Happily part’ of that country has been recovered from the enemy; but we learn from day to day that the enemy is overrunning a large part’ of Roumania, with disastrous results to the people of that country.. We do notknow where the Germans may strike the next blow. All the stories we have heard : about the scarcity of food in Germany must be taken with a grain of salt. Indeed, I believe they may be discarded altogether. I, for one, do not believe them. I believe that Germany has not only plenty of men willing enough to fight fortheir country, but plenty of munitions, and plenty of food. It would appear, also, that Great Britain does not expect the war to end in the near future; The preparations being made in the Mother Country to carry on the conflict indicate that Great Britain expects the war to last, probably for many years yet. I am satisfied that the Allies are getting stronger and stronger as the days go by, and that, ultimately!, victory will be ours. We regret, of course, that, Greece having thrown in her lot with the Central Powers, the position in the near East, is not at all satisfactory to-day. It is the duty of this Government to render all the assistance possible to Great Britain and her Allies in this crisis ; but they must realize, once and for all, that the people of Australia will not submit to conscription. That issue, I take it, may be regarded as settled. In view of ‘ the preparations in Great Britain for a prolonged struggle, we must be prepared to play -our part in this war for a good’ number of years to come. I am not able to see the end of it. I know that the Germans are a stubborn and tenacious people, and, as they believe they are fighting. for the right, they will continue for a long..time. We are built in much the same way-, and are not disposed even to consider . the possibility of giving in. The Com, monwealth Government have yet an opportunity of securing all the,men that: Australia, can offer in this conflict: Some people -may not be disposed ‘to assist the’ Government in- this direction, but I, for.’ one, do not adopt that attitude. Any assistance I can render under, the voluntary system will be willingly given. It is work which no man: who .is not going; to the front himself would care about doing, but I think that every man who can help in this way should be prepared, at public meetings or elsewhere, to place the true facts before his fellow citizens, in order that they may agree as to the best course to be adopted. I should like to say that this is not work which should fall exclusively to the parliamentarian. It may be true, as I have been told, that parliamentarians, being accustomed to speak, are better fitted to place the position clearly before the people than are those who have not their practice in speaking. But ‘ I still say that the business men of this country, and others vitally interested in its welfare, should be compelled to take their part in this movement. The land-owners of the country should be called upon to take their part.
– We ought not to be afraid, as Senator Findley reminds me, to tax them for the protection of the country.
– Now the honorable senator is on a sound wicket.
– I do not propose, however, to give honorable senators an address on land taxation this afternoon. I shall reserve that for another occasion. I received a most valuable return the other day showing that the land values of Australia amount to no less than £446,000,000.’ The Government have presented a financial statement, and I regret very much that in it they have not shown any intention to raise some of the necessary revenue for the payment of expenses in connexion with the war from those who own the land of this country.
– It would be interesting if we could get the names of the owners of some of the big estates.
– I am not very much concerned with the names of the owners of landed estates in Australia, but I’ am concerned about the value of those estates. According to Mr. Knibbs, the official Statistician of the Commonwealth, the value of the lands of Australia, apart from improvements, is £446,000,000, and, in my view, it is disgraceful that the Government should be proposing a tax of Id. upon a 6d. ticket for a picture show, whilst allowing the owners of all this wealth in land to go free of taxation.
– The estimate of value is not yet complete
– The total of £446,000,000 is, I understand, a completeestimate, but it is doubtful whether the owners of the country would be prepared to sell their estates at even that amount. We shall have an opportunity, I hope, in the course of a few days, to deal with this matter, and I trust that we shall call upon the .Government to abandon such trivial proposals as the taxing to the extent of Id. a 6d. ticket for a picture show. A policy of taxation of that kind is quite unworthy even of the present Government. I hope they will see their way to abandon it. I have spoken at some length, and have placed the cases of a number of men before the Government and the Senate. I do not like this kind of work, but the men to whom I have referred are in gaol, and many of them would be only too pleased if given the opportunity to rejoin their regiments. I am satisfied that if the Government were to remit a very large proportion of their sentences, whilst no harm would be done to. any one, much would be done to secure the success of the recruiting campaign which is just about to be started. We have no evidence at present before us to enable us to say whenthe war will be brought to a conclusion. We cannot, in my opinion, obtain 16,500’ men per month. I do not believe that Australia can supply that number of men, even though we should take married men, in the course of the next few months. I believe, however, that we are in a position to keep up reinforcements so as tomaintain the five divisions that are at the front.
– The honorable senator means four divisions.
– No, the five divisions. We have five divisions at the front at the present time, though onemay be in England.
– It has never been> to the front.
– Senator Grant is absolutely right.
– There are four divisions in France, and one in England.
– That is not right.
– Then the fifth division must have been sent to reinforce thefour divisions at the front.
– No, there are five divisions at the front.
– I saw a statement that the fifth division that was at Salisbury Plain was to go to the front.
– Only a few days ago the Government sent a cable asking the authorities to use the fifth division to reinforce the four divisions on the Continent.
– Men going from Australia now can be used to reconstitute the fifth division. I wish to say that those who voted as I did, and worked very strenuously as I did in support of the no-conscription campaign, are as loyal to Australia as any conscriptionists know how to be. We are prepared to give the Government all the assistance we can, whether in the way of imposing taxation, or in any other way -that may be suggested. We shall have an opportunity during the next few months to assist the Government in the matter of recruiting, and I, for one, will be prepared to give them all the assist ance I can in that direction, whatever -other members of the party to which I belong may be prepared to do. My con- science tells me that the ‘men at the front must be reinforced. We have never objected to reinforcements being sent. I wish to make that perfectly clear. Those who accuse us of doing so know that they accuse us wrongfully. What we objected to, and will continue to object to, is the sending of men to the front by compulsion. We must in any case face the position with which we are -confronted, and I hope that the Government will do nothing to prevent a full and free flow of troops to the standard. I repeat that the remission, or a substantial reduction, of the sentences -that have been passed upon the men to whom I have referred to-day would be of the greatest value to the recruiting movement now proposed, and I trust that the Government will favorably entertain the views I have expressed on the matter.
.- We have, in the statement presented to the Senate by the Federal Government, an intimation that they intend to pursue a “ bold and unfaltering policy “ in the conduct of the war. Such a policy will meet with the approbation of every honorable senator on this side. However, during the continuance of the present debate we have had some indication of what the bold -and unfaltering policy of the Government -is to be, particularly with respect to one important feature in the conduct of the war. The policy of the Government is bold, unfaltering, and determined, so far as man power is concerned, but it stops dead and short there. When we come to the question of finance to provide the sinews of war, we find that this bold and unfaltering Government have already proposed a modification of the scheme submitted by the last Government for the taxation of those who hold the wealth of the’ country, and who, while they stay at home, should be called upon to do their share 1 towards the successful prosecution of the war. If it is the policy of the Government to reduce the taxation proposed upon those who have made huge war profits from 100 per cent, to 75 per cent., there is nothing very bold or unfaltering about that. If it is the policy of the Government not to tax war bonds, and to spread the wealth levy for the Repatriation Fund over a period of five years, in order to placate a section of their supporters, it looks as if they were determined to remain on the Treasury bench by making any concession that their Liberal party supporters may ask for. We shall have the financial policy of the Government before the Senate later, and will be able to refer to it in detail. As announced, however, it should be au indication to the people that the Government intend to retain office by the sacrifice of the principles which they asserted previously.
So far as the party on this side is concerned, we remain the same as we were prior to the recent lamentable split. We have the same principles and the same platform. It has not been amended, nothing has been deleted from it, and we have entirely the same organization, the same procedure, and the same rules of conduct. Nothing that has been done, by any one connected with the Labour movement has in the slightest degree altered our methods. The reason we find ourselves in opposition is because we have been true to the pledges we made to the people who sent us into this Parliament. We elected to sacrifice whatever emoluments we might have been receiving for the sake of our principles, and to remain true to the cardinal principles on which we were returned to power originally. It is because those principles were abrogated and torn up by the Leader of the present
Government that we find ourselves in our present position to-day.
– We could not be anywhere else, holding true to majority rule.
– That is so. A primary principle of the party is that a majority of the party should control its political actions.
– And inside this Parliament,. also.
– Two-thirds of the original Labour party are still in it.
– But for outside interference, we should all have been in it.
– The first principle of the party has been that we should elect our own leader. That we have done in the past. The second principle is that the party should elect its own Ministry, and the third principle is that those in the party should entirely control its policy, as far as its platform is concerned. Those principles have been abrogated by the present Government.
– They have been abrogated by outside organizations.
– That is absolutely incorrect. The Minister for Defence and those with whom he is associated left our organization and our movement because they would not submit to its first principle.
– They prefer a oneman Government.
– That is so. They have already denied the second principle, because the statement has appeared in the press, and has not been contradicted, that the Leader of their party selected his own Ministry. That is one of our principles which the present Government party have gone back upon.
– That is because the party made such a mess of selecting the previous Government.
– Senator Story supplies an excuse, but at the same time a plain admission of the fact I have stated. There appears to be a conspiracy of silence on the Ministerial benches, and the only excuse I have heard in this cham ber for their breakaway from the first principle of the Labour party is that the party had made up its mind to depose the Leader.
– The honorable senator does not deny that?
– I do deny it, so far as I am personally concerned. I went into the Caucus meeting of our party absolutely free and untrammelled, and with an entirely open mind. My attitude at the meeting depended entirely upon what the Prime Minister did. He took the stand that he would not submit to his party. He left the meeting, andSenator Pearce and others left with him.
– Will the honorable senator tell us what happened at the meeting held on the previous evening ?
SenatorREADY. - If objection is taken to the right of the Caucus to elect or depose its leader, why did not Senator Pearce get up in his place in the Caucus and voice his objection, and why did he not leave the party when the Caucus, months previously, decided to depose two Ministers - Messrs. Archibald and Spence? When the party not only deposed two of its Ministers, but proceeded to re-elect all the other Ministers, Senator Pearce sat silent. He admitted the right of the party to do that, but he does not admit its right to depose a leader who absolutely refused to consult the wishes of his party.
– -He refused to take his dismissal from outside organizations.
– No outside organisations are admitted to the Caucus. The men who constitute the Caucus are the members of the Parliamentary Labour party.
– The outside organizations instruct the Caucus -what to do.
– If that statement were true, it would be better for any movement to be instructed by those who compose it than that it should be dragged at the heels of any one man.If, in Australia, we are going to abandon our principles of Democracy, and substitute an Autocracy, the sooner Senator Story frankly acknowledges the fact the better. All these remarks about secret juntas and outside organizations come ill from men who for many years sat in those secret juntas and were parties to their creation. Let me ask Senator Story, “Is not his party a secret junta?” Does it admit the press to its meetings? Can anybody hear its debates? Is not the Cabinet a secret junta? Did not honorable members in another place take serious objection to the fact that a Minister revealed that certain regulations were put before a meeting of the Executive Council? At the meeting which took place in Sydney at which those regulations were approved, three Ministers only were present.
– Only two. The third person present was the GovernorGeneral.
SenatorREADY. - There may have been only two Ministers at that meeting, and one of them journeyed to Sydney for the express purpose of being present. At that little secret junta these objectionable regulations were approved, and I am proud to think that my leader in this Chamber, Senator Gardiner, resigned his position as a Minister rather than submit to them. I shall expect the next time Senator Story’s party meets, a general invitation to be issued to the press to come along and take notes of it. I will guarantee that they would prove interesting reading at the present juncture, and I would not mind being the reporter.
As my leader has stated, Mr. Hughes attempted to impose his opinions and his will on the members of his party. Mr. Hughes has been a veritable political “ humptydumpty.” He has had a very great fall indeed, . and many persons, while recognising his great abilities, also recognise that this political “humpty-dumpty’.’ is a man in whom they can no longer put their trust, and especially when they sec the Ministry hanging on to the Treasury bench dependent for their existence upon the party whose principles’ are absolutely antagonistic to their own. Mr. Hughes’ methods were probably never equalled by any leader in Australian history. He abused his position. He libelled and denounced even his own followers. He slandered and reviled all those who were opposed to him. He gagged and insulted his own Ministers, he stifled free speech, and used the whole of the governmental machinery of Australia, Federal, State and municipal, for a pernicious party propaganda for his own side on the referendum question. For these’ reasons we elected to get out into the cold shades of opposition and to trust our fate entirely to the electors. As far asI am concerned, I will do nothing to hinder an appeal to the people who created this Parliament, because I feel sure that the only authority which will effectually determine this political crisis will be the electors of Australia through the medium of the ballot-box.
A point has arisen in regard to the now famous regulations, which I have not heard mentioned by any previous speaker, and which I would like to bring under the notice of Senator Pearce. I have no need to recall Mr. Hughes’ attitude towards these regulations, and his manner of introducing them. There is no doubt that they would have been used on polling-day but for my leader in this Senate. Australia owes a debt of gratitude to him, to Mr. Higgs, and to Senator Russell for the action which they took. In looking up the Electoral Act I find that there are very stringent penalties imposed for electoral offences. In order that we may insure that the ballot shall be kept absolutely pure, certain sections provide that any breach of the law, or any attempt to unduly influence votes in any one direction, is punishable by heavy penalties. The sections of the Act dealing with this matter are very clear. In Part XV. I find that section 177 provides -
threatens, offers, or suggests any violence, injury, punishment, damage, loss, or disadvantage for or on account of, or to induce any candidature, or withdrawal of candidature, or any vote, or any omission to vote, or any support or opposition to any candidate, or any promise of any vote, omission, support, or opposition; or
uses, causes, inflicts, or procures any violence-, punishment, damage, loss, or disadvantage for or on account of any such candidature withdrawal, vote, omission, support, or opposition; shall be guilty of undue influence.
– The Prime Minister will have to be put in gaol.
– The next section practically covers the case of the Prime Minister, and as the Assistant Minister has just entered the chamber I particularly invite his atention to it.
– Everything that was done up to the election day was done by me.
SenatorREADY. - I am very pleased that the Assistant Minister is present, and I hope that he will look carefully into this matter. Section 178 of our Electoral Act reads -
Without limiting the effect of the general words in the preceding section, “ undue influence “ includes every interference, or attempted interference, with the free exercise of the franchise of any voter.
– What part of it applies to me?
– I am dealing with the attempt of the Prime Minister to influence the electors of Australia by means of regulations by which it was sought to make the Department a drag-net for military defaulters. In Part XVII. of the Act, section 206a, I find the following -
Any person who -
is convicted of bribery or undue influence, or of attempted bribery or undue influence, at an election; or
is found by the Court of Disputed Returns to have committed or attempted to commit bribery or undue influence when a candidate, shall, during a period of two years from the date of the conviction or finding, be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a member of. either House of the Parliament.
There is a clear statement that any person who is guilty of any attempt to unfairly influence the electors shall be incapable of sitting as a member of this Parliament. I invite Senator Russell’s serious attention to these sections.
– The honorable senator does not seem to realize that this is a new Government, and that I am not now in charge of the Electoral Department.
– The position is very clear. The law prescribes that any person guilty of thesepractices shall not be allowed to sit in this Parliament. I ask leave to continue my remarks at the next sitting.
Leave granted ; debate adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 3.58 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 8 December 1916, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1916/19161208_senate_6_80/>.