6th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took thechair at 3 p.m. and read prayers.
– Will the Government take an early opportunity to explain what they propose to do in regard to the embargo which has been placed upon the importation of apples into Great Britain ?
– I will bringthe matter under the immediate notice of the Prime Minister.
– Arising out of that question, may I ask the Honorary Minister who deals with the shipping business whether he has received a letter which I addressed to him yesterday on the same subject, and, if so, whether he has given it consideration?
– I have not had an opportunity of perusing the letter. I ask the honorable senator to give notice of a question.
– Has the Leader of the Senate been able to obtain replies to the queries I put a day or two ago in regard to the prohibition which apparently was placed upon the holding of a meeting in the Melbourne Town Hall for the advocacy of Protection?
– Owing to the absent of the Prime Minister from Melbourne it has not been possible for me to obtain the information sought by the honorable senator.
The following papers were presented : -
Defence Act 1903-1915. - Regulations amended, &c. - StatutoryRules 1917, No. 29.
Public Service Act 1902-1916- Promotions.- Postmaster-General’s Department -
Return to Order of the Senate of 23rd Feb ruary, 1916 -
Military Service: Proclamation calling up men - Return showing results.
The War : Correspondence with the Belgian Minister respecting the Deportation of Belgians to Germany and the Forced
Labour imposed upon them by the German Authorities. (Paper presented to British Parliament.)
War Precautions Act 1914-1916.- Regulations Amended- Statutory Rules 1917, Nos. 32, 33, 34, 38.
– (By leave.) - In the
Hansard report of a speech delivered by Senator Gardiner last week, I am reported to have interjected. “ The present Labour movement is not worth following.” The Hansard reporters are so almost invariably accurate that I am loath to believe that they made a mistake. Yet I do not think that I made the statement in those words. That contention is borne out by a subsequent interjection by Senator Senior, who remarked, “ There is a distinction between the Labour movement and the organization, if you please.” I wish to explain that, so far as the Labour movement is concerned, if I made that statement, I made it entirely in error. I believe that the Labour movement is the hope of the world. The good legislation which Senator Gardiner referred to in his speech as having been passed through ‘this Parliament by the Labour party emanated from the real Labour movement, and I hope that I shall never live long enough to say that the Labour movement is not worth following. My interjection was directed against the so-called Labour party; the party which to-day claims that it represents the Labour movement; the party which is represented in the Senate; the party which is controlling the outside organizations. On that occasion I wanted to say that the Labour party at the present time is not worth following. The Labour movement stands for right and for justice. The party calling itself the Labour party in the Senate andoutside does not represent the Labour movement; it does not represent justice.
– Order ! I ask the honorable senator not to go outside the limit of a personal explanation.
– I do not wish to occupy the time of the Senate. I desire to make my position perfectly clear. I have as much confidence as ever I had in the Labour movement, which I have been following for thirty-five years, but I have not the slightest confidence in the present so-called Labour party which falsely claims that it is leading the Labour movement.
-I ask the Leader of the Government here whether there is any truth in the rumour which is running through this building to-day that a cablegram has been received from the authorities in England to the effect that all parties in this Parliament should be represented at the Imperial Conference?
– Not having been favoured with an opportunity of hearing the rumour, I cannot reply to the question.
– Can the Minister for Defence say what is the procedure with regard to wounded soldiers who are returned to Great Britain? Are Australians put in places all together, or are they mixed up indiscriminately with other British soldiers from the front?
– The arrangement is that the Australian wounded are distributed to those hospitals where there are vacancies. If these happen to be British hospitals they are put there alongside British soldiers.
– Are they not also British soldiers ?
– Of course.
– What I wanted to know was : are our men kept together as far as possible?
– They are sent wherever there is a vacant bed. If it happens to be between two British soldiers the Australian is put into it. If there are vacancies in the Harefield hospital, which is the only Australian hospital in England, they are put there.
– And it depends also on the gravity of the case.
– Yes; there are certain wards in the hospitals reserved for operation cases.
PROSECUTION OF Mr. COOMBE, M.H.A.
– Has the attention of the Ministerfor Defence been called to the following report in this morning’s Argus: -
Adelaide, Tuesday. - Before Mr. T. Hewitson, S.M., at the Tanunda Court to-day, Mr. E. H. Coombe, M.H.A. who was acquitted on Monday on a charge of having used words prejudicial to recruiting during the conscription campaign, was proceeded against on an information alleging that at Tanunda, on 26th October, he had attempted to cause disaffection among the civilian population, contrary to the War Precautions regulations, by using the words : - “ It was an injustice to have certain votes earmarked. It was only done to try and intimidate people, and to try and prevent them from going to the poll to record their votes. It was very dirty work.”
– Order! I have frequently ruled that to read long extracts from newspapers in asking questions with or without notice is not in order. Only sufficient must be read to make the question clear.
– May I have permission to make a statement? If not. I will simply add that the remainder of the report shows that for using the words I have just read the legislator was fined £10, with £5 5s. costs. Does the Minister for Defence think the War Precautions Act was ever passed to penalize people for using language of that kind ?
– I am pretty sure from my memory that those are not the words on which the charge was laid.
– Then the Argus report is wrong?
– In order to obtain the exact words upon which the charge was laid, I ask the honorable senator to give notice of the question.
– If those are the words in the charge, will the Minister for Defence in fairness see that the fine is remitted ?
Paymaster at Sydney.
– Last week I asked the Minister for Defence if it was a fact that a paymaster in the Defence Department had found 10.000 sovereigns in his safe, and could not say where they came from. The Minister said it was not a fact. I can now give him the name of the man that had the money, and the name of the informant. Will he inquire and let me know whether the report is correct or not?
– If the honorable senator will supply me with. the extract which he holds, I shall make further inquiries. My information is that the statement made here was not correct.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
When will the important work at the Launceston Rifle Range, which has been deferred for some time, be commenced ?
– A definite date cannot he fixed for the commencement of this work until the Estimates for the current financial year havebeen passed, and funds made available.
asked the Min ister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are-
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Motion (by Senator Millen) agreed to-
That Standing Order No. 68 be suspended up to and including 9th March, 1917, for the purpose of enabling new business to be commenced after half-past 10 o’clock at night.
Statement op Policy.
Debate resumed from 23rd February (vide page 10617), on motion by Senator Millen -
That the paper be printed.
– I desire to make a few remarks on the Ministerial Statement setting out the policy of the new Government which has resulted from the recently announced Coalition. I take advantage -of this, the first opportunity afforded me, to correct a statement which I made by way of interjection when Senator Pearce was speaking the other day. The honorable senator was speaking of members of this Parliament having received instructions from the Labour executives of their respective States, and I interjected that that did not apply to Queensland. I meant to convey that Queensland representatives had not received any instructions of the . kind. I find upon reconsideration of the matter that I -was in error, and that the Queensland Central Executive, in common with the executives of the other States, did send instructions to members of the Federal Labour party.
– And ordered the honorable senator to violate the Labour platform.
– No; the Queensland executive did not order me to do anything of the kind, because I had already taken my stand on the matter dealt with. I consequently did not acknowledge the instruction from the . Queensland Central Executive, realizing that I had already publicly stated my position in the matter.
– But the honorable senator complied with the instruction.
– I had complied with it before it was issued,, and Senator de Largie will no doubt’ understand that it was that fact which led me, when I ‘ made the interjection to which I have referred, into a misapprehension of the actual circumstances. To go back to the question of instructions and the right of the Central Labour bodies to issue such, instructions, I hold that they have a perfect right to do so. Labour members are elected in accordance with a policy and platform compiled by delegates representative of the Labour movement, upon which, quite unintentionally no doubt, Senator Story endeavoured to cast aspersions to-day.
– That is not correct.
– That was the effect of .the honorable senator’s remarks, though it was not his intention.’
– No, it was to the “ socalled Labour party “ that I referred.
-When Labour members are elected to Parliament they sign an agreement or pledge to carry out the tenets of their oganization.
– No, not of the organization ; the platform of the party.
– Yes, the platform of the party. I hold that any man who breaks away from that platform, or violates one of the basic and essential principles of the Labour movement - and any man who says that no-conscription is not one of Use basic principles of the Labour movement has failed to understand the movement - is guilty of tearing up a “scrap of paper” about which we have heard so much in recent times. Such men ignore their undertakings to the Labour movement. They tear up the scrap of paper, and place no value on their assurances and pledges to the Labour movement, and the people who elected them. Let us consider from whom our friends opposite now receive their instructions. Senator Pearce said that he was beholden and responsible only to the electors of Western Australia, who sent him into the Senate. But a few short days ago the honorable senator occupied the responsible and honorable position of Leader of the Senate, and the leader here of a Government party.
– Why did not the honorable senator honour him when he was in that position?
– In his position as Leader of the Senate we gave tie honorable senator all the honour that was due to him. I am directing attention to the fact that Senator Pearce has been displaced from the leadership of the Senate. He received “the order of the boot”, to retire from that high and honorable position.
– What boot, the Sydney Worker boot ?
– No; the Cook party displaced the honorable senator and put Senator Millen in his place. This goes to show that Senator Pearce and those who are associated with him are now responsible rather to the Cook faction and the Liberal junta than to their electors.
– The honorable senator is wrong in his logic.
– My logic is perfectly sound, because Senator Pearce has been displaced from the leadership of the Senate, and it is the logic of Senator Senior that is seriously at fault. We say that our friends opposite are not responsible to their electors, but first and foremost to the party that has a majority in the Cabinet, and that is the old Conservative or the old Liberal party, their lifelong political enemies. Senator Pearce and his followers are associated with the members of those parties now, and are under their dominance, and they should have the honesty and candour to admit it.
– We are opposing bigger enemies now than political enemies.
– How are honorable senators opposite opposing the enemy ? “We expected a pronouncement on that subject. Looking at the business-paper to-day, I se© a reference to another Ministerial statement which followed upon the formation of the second Hughes Government. It covered a new policy, but disclosed nothing definite in regard to. the successful prosecution of the war. That statement was discussed to some extent, but the debate upon it was not concluded, and while it remains on the business-paper a new Ministerial statement is brought forth for the consideration of honorable senators. It is announced that the new combination is a War Government. Honorable senators and the people generally would like to know whether there is any departure in this so-called policy of the new Administration - apart from the ordinary platitudes which have emanated from Mr. Hughes and his followers in recent times - in the methods proposed for the successful prosecution of the war. Are we to assume that things are to go on as they have gone on ever since Mr. Hughes broke away from the Labour party ? Is the war with Germany to be still a war of extermination ? Mr. Hughes, after about two years of recrimination -and fulmination concerning what he termed the German cancer, and everything attached to Germanism, now calmly admits that he has no objection to anything German except the German military system. That is just what our party said during the conscription conspiracy. We declared that we were opposed to the militarism which the conscription conspiracy attempted to inflict upon a free and democratic Australia. Mr. Hughes, as I have said, now retracts his statement, so all his denunciations during the last two years, here and in London, amount to so many platitudes. Are we to assume that the. policy recently laid down in Great Britain to block the importation of articles of luxury is to be followed in Australia? I sincerely hope so, and I believe this action would have been taken but for the scheming and engineering of Mr. Hughes and his Free Trade colleagues in the Cabinet.
– Senator Gardiner, for instance ?
– If such a policy is introduced, it! will receive the wholehearted indorsement of every Protectionist in Australia. I should think that the Prime Minister is pretty used to the blocking process, judging by his actions during the conscription campaign, when he blocked free speech and the free expression of opinion most effectively. Even on the eve of taking the poll he held back a mail from the Australian soldiers at the front - the Moldavia’s mail - until a couple of days after the vote had been taken. That mail should have been delivered before the actual voting day, and we know that when it was delivered many girls in offices and other employment actually cried when, after having voted “ Yes,” they received letters from- their brothers or other relatives at the front urging them, in the name of Australia, in the name of God, and in the name of civilization, to vote “ No.” I say, therefore, that this blocking process will not be any new business to Mr. Hughes; and I am sure the Government will receive the hearty support of this party if that policy, in relation to the importation of articles of luxury, is introduced. To my mind, one of the most lamentable phases of the demonstration in Melbourne on Saturday was the parade of motor cars. The press stated that there were .quite 400 motors in the procession. It is safe to say that fully 90 per cent, of those motor cars had been imported into Australia, and that quite 50 per cent, had come in since the outbreak of war.
– Has not the Prime Minister himself an imported American car ?
– Well, that is a personal matter. The Prime Minister is quite entitled to his motor car.
– You do not say that they were imported since the 28th October, do you?
– No ; since the outbreak of the war.
– And during the time that you supported the Government.
– Yes ; but during that time Mr. Hughes and his colleagues of pronounced Free Trade tendencies did everything in their power - and, I might add, successfully - to prevent the Protectionist section of the Labour party from securing a Protectionist Tariff’.
– Nothing could have prevented them if they had wanted it.
– It was prevented because of the influence exerted on the Government by the Free Trade section of the Parliament, and by the information disclosed at the so-called secret session, which we realize now was so much fudge. It appeared to me that it would have been better if a great deal of the expenditure on Saturday’s display had been devoted to the repatriation scheme for our returned soldiers and the alleviation of some of the victims of the evictions - I refer to wives of soldiers at the front. We read in last night’s paper that the wife of a soldier in Glebe, in the Prime Minister’s own electorate, was evicted because she was a week behind in her rent. We have read also in the Melbourne press that debt collectors are uniformed - they might as well be armed because of the effect of uniforms on women and children - and’ that a woman with four young children, all but one of whom are in the hospital with scarlatina, is threatened with eviction because she is behind in her rent. Such actions as these by rapacious landlords are a great deterrent to the recruiting movement. In my opinion the removal of this disgrace - and the checking of the money grabbers in the community - would do more to advance recruiting than the splendid spectacular display we had on Saturday last. I am entitled to ask honorable senators now supporting the Government if they are still believers in conscription ?
– I am.
– The honorable senator is candid, and I would like ‘his colleagues who are supporting the Government to be equally candid.
– No one on this side has repudiated conscription.
– Very good then. And if they are to be honest we are entitled to assume that it is their intention to go on with conscription again.
– May I ask the honorable senator if he still takes up the attitude that he will not ask any man to volunteer ?
– Yes, because I am within the military age myself, and I would not ask any one to do anything which I am not prepared to do myself. In connexion with this matter, I desire to inform the Senate of a statement which appeared in the Brisbane Courier, an organ which supports the ‘Government. The Courier states-^*-
If the Liberals place greater war efficiency in the forefront of the joint policy they will have to adopt the measures necessary to secure the fulfilment of the obligations of the Commonwealth. If they do that they will have to ask the people to efface the stigma of th9 “ No “ vote on 28”th October. While that stands it issheer hypocrisy to talk about “ winning the war.” Voluntarism and “ winning the war “ are proved to be irreconcilable. It is voluntarism and defeat that go hand in hand. TheTrades Hall party declares its willingness to support any measures necessary to win the war, provided no attempt is made, directly or indirectly, to introduce conscription. That is to be the attitude of the Senate. As the war cannot be won without men, and as men are not. willing to volunteer, the support it promises is of no value whatever. If the new Government is to be in a real sense a “ win-the-war Government,” it will have to manage without the cooperation of the Senate and its Trades Hall backers, by inducing the people to reverse their unfortunate vote. It is the people who hold1 the key to the situation, and” it is they, and they alone, who can efface the degrading stain that has been put upon the honour of Australia. One of the first acts of the new Government will have to be to provide for representation at the Imperial Conference. Every one admits the urgency and the great importance of that, but unless the representative is ableto tell the Conference that Australia is still’ prepared to co-operate with the Empire to the fullest extent, what influence can he expect to exercise - what weight will the assembled Ministers be able to attach to his undertakings? The spectre of the vote of 28th October will rise behind his chair, to mock his protestation- that the Commonwealth stands shoulder to shoulder with Britain in the great struggle for free existence. While the Commonwealth isi failing to supply reinforcements, and refusingto levy on its manhood to advance the common* cause - while some are not ashamed to say Australia has done enough, and while the organizations which represent a considerable part: of the bone and sinew of the Commonwealth declare undying hatred of the only method of obtaining men which will permit Australia todo her part, representation at this Conferencemust lose much of its value and effectiveness. That is a pressing reason why the new Government, if it is formed; ought to make a clearand definite statement that the first thing itintends to do is to ask the people to reconsider the reinforcements .referendum question.
– Will the honorablesenator now read the declaration of thepolicy of the Government on that question) made in the Senate and another place ?
– What I want to know in regard to the declaration of the Government is, who is to decide whetherthe time is to be opportune ; whether theconditions fully warrant the reintroduction of conscription ?
– Why, the people.
– The issue is tobe submitted to the people again. TheGovernment should be candid and say what their policy is. My complaint is that the Government have said nothing new in> regard to a war policy, and we are justi- died in assuming that they intend to go on as the recent Hughes Government went on since they broke away from the Labour party.
– Will you sketch a war policy for us?
– That is the -duty of the Government, considering that they have styled themselves the “ Winthewar ‘ ‘ Government. We have never presumed to say that we are going to win the war. I only wish that that were so. I only wish that Australia could win the war. If every man available in Australia were at the front to-morrow I have very grave doubts as to whether that would turn the balance in favour of the Allies. I only hope that it would, because if that were the case Great Britain Could get in twenty-four hours more men than would total every eligible man in Australia. If Great Britain took the same step as Australia has taken, :she could get more men in twentyfour hours than remain eligible- in Australia, married and single, and -that is by raising the maximum age to forty-five years. The maximum age in Great Britain now is forty-one years, while in Australia it is forty-five years. That difference would more than compensate for the whole of Australia’s eligible men remaining. Those who say that Australia by its efforts could win the war, decide this issue in which millions of men and of wealth are engaged, are in my opinion very optimistic people. Are we ito assume that the policy of the Government is to be followed in pursuance of Sir William Irvine’s Dandenong speech, in which he said that no Coalition or alliance worthy of the name could exist until it declared its intention straight out of going bald-headed for conscription? The Government are lacking in honesty, in candour and I should say in backbone in not saying what departures they are going to make in regard to their leader’s policy for the prosecution of the war. Are we to assume from the experience of New Zealand, which has brought in conscription, “that Australia is capable of winning the war by its efforts ? The experience of New Zealand has been that, in spite of the introduction of conscription, the Government are not able to keep up reinforcements. I have here a quotation from the Melbourne Herald of the 10th February, which sets “forth that the Government have had to establish’ additional tribunals to hurry up the dealing with the ballots, and to, if possible, rake in the desired number of men for the reinforcements. Subsequently to the publication of that article we now have the information that the Minister for Railways in New Zealand has stated publicly that 25 per cent, of the railway employees have already enlisted, and that no more can be spared. The tribunals, of course,’ will not accept that as a legitimate reason for not forcing the men to the other side of the world. They say, “Stop your excursion trains; stop your race trains; stop all surplus trains.” The Minister for Railways refuses to take that attitude. He points out that if those services, which are nearly always highly payable ventures, are curtailed, the loss of revenue will be great, and, consequently, increased longdistance fares will have to be charged, and that this will affect the primary producers in the national work of production in the interests of Great Britain and our Allies. It appears to one reading at a distance that the Minister for Railways takes up a very logical attitude, that to cut down his staff by more than the 25 per cent, already enlisted would not be in the interests of the nation. For two months this collaboration between Mr. Cook and Mr. Hughes has been going on. We have repeatedly read of the negotiatons which have been taking place between them, and only the other evening, in the Senate, Senator Pearce stated that at the impending Imperial Conference two of the outstanding matters to be discussed would be war and peace. Quite recently, in reply to Mr. Hampson, the honorable member for Bendigo in another place Senator Pearce made the statement that there had been 19,000 casualties - Australian, I assume - during the month of September. Yet this “ Win-the-War Government” have held over the discussion of the Imperial Conference, which is. to deal with war and peace, for two months. Their troubles if there had been 29,000 casualties, so long as their political jobbing and scrambling had successfully terminated, as it has done! The position is that these twin discredited leaders, Mr. Hughes and Mr. Cook, both traitors to the Labour movement, called .forth a Fusion.
– I rise to order, sir. Senator Ferricks has just applied a most objectionable term to Mr. Hughes, the Prime Minister, and Mr. Cook, the Minister for the Navy, in saying that they are both traitors. I ask that those words should be withdrawn, as they . are most objectionable and insulting.
– I was engaged in talking to Senator Findley at the time, and, therefore, I did not hear Senator Ferricks make the statement. If he did use the words he must be aware that they are particularly contrary to the Standing Orders. An honorable senator in the course of debate is not entitled to make any reference which reflects, or could be taken to reflect, on any member of either House. Therefore, I ask the honorable senator, if he did use the words, to withdraw them unreservedly.
– I did not make the statement attributed to me by Senator de Largie, sir, but for your judgment I will repeat what I said. I said .that Mr. Hughes and Mr. Cook were both traitors to the Labour movement. I was speaking in a political sense, and within the scope of legitimate political criticism. Those two gentlemen have brought forth a production which, I submit, was conceived in scheming and engineering. It is now being cradled in deception and distrust between Mr. Hughes and Mr. Cook themselves One mistrusts the other. This shuddering mass of political defilement is lying before the people of Australia unclaimed, ‘ unnamed, and unclothed - lying naked to the stern gaze of the people, who are waiting for an opportunity to deliver their judgment, while the twin authors of this production are trying to cover its political nakedness with a shroud of jingoism. I hold that the people of Australia must have a great disgust for the offspring which is now produced poll:tically Quite another phase of this imposition on the people may be raised by our asking, as was so often asked during the conscription referendum of those who advocated no conscription, both from the platform and through the press, “ What will the Kaiser think of us? What will the Kaiser think of those who vote No? “ It seems to me to be the fashion for honorable senators to speak from the German stand-point. Senator Millen spoke from the stand-point of a German general the other night. It is a pity that we have not Mr. Hughes in this Chamber. He would be in a position to speak as the German Kaiser. He gave some illustrations of his Kaiser-like properties during he referendum campaign. I do not think that there is a member of the Senate who could emulate him or get near him on theindefinable qualities which he then exhibited. We can pass over the doubt, but we may assume that on receipt of the information that this Win-the-war party had been formed, the Kaiser might very reasonably summon a council of war and address Hindenberg, Mackensen and BethmannHollweg probably in these words, “My children, you can disregard the might of the British Navy; you can still ridicule what we used to term their contemptible army, but what is now an army, under our conscription-Prussian method, of over 5,000,000 men. You can ignorethe gallantry of France, the self-sacrifice/ of our heroic but erstwhile life-long foes. You can despise, if you like, the Italians, You can scorn the Russians and their millions. You can taunt the Japanese and their great growing commercialism. You can look with contempt on Belgium, Servia, Roumania, New Zealand, and South Africa, but danger is upon the Fatherland. That mighty Empire-builder Hughes, and his dear brother, Joseph of the many coloured political coat, have embraced in political unionism.” Surely th© Kaiser might say thai, the partnership between himself and God was on the verge of being rent asunder. There is a constitutional aspect to this Win-the-war Government, and we may be pardoned for making a passing reference to it. On three occasions the Governor-General hass given a verdict in face of the opinion which the people of Australia had expressed. I think that the point has been raised, quite correctly and justifiably, that Mr. Hughes was not entitled to receive Supply, that either he misled His Excellency in assuring him that the Government could get Supply, or it was a very dangerous attitude for His Excellency to have taken up. The Senate demonstrated to the Gover-r nor-General that Mr. Hughes could not get Supply except with the concurrence of his opponents. When the Labour majority in the Senate decided in itswisdom to cut down the Supply vote: asked for from three months to two, it was a proof to the Governor-General .that Mr. Hughes could not get Supply, and the exercise of the Royal prerogative on. that occasion was strained. The Fusionduly came about, and the GovernorGeneral again apparently accepted the assurance of Mr. Hughes that Supply would! fee forthcoming. Conditions have not altered in the Senate, and it appears to me that there has been a grave departure from that security and safety which should mark the giving and receipt of advice between the Leader of the Government and the Governor-General. We had a very good illustration of that at the time of the double dissolution in 1914. Hardly anybody objected to the granting of the double dissolution on the advice of the Cook Government then in power, but when the Senate, according to the strict letter of the Constitution, requested the Governor-General to submit the referenda questions to the people, his refusal appeared to the lay person to amount to a grave inconsistency. In the statement emanating from the Fusion - a statement entirely devoid of policy - is a reference to the Imperial Conference. Senator Pearce, with what appeared to be a feeble attempt at humour, suggested the other night that perhaps Senator Gardiner would prefer Mr. Anstey, Senator Ferricks, and Senator Mullan as delegates to the Conference in place of Mr. Hughes, Sir John Forrest, and Sir William Irvine. Senator Gardiner said he would, and Senator Pearce replied, “ Very well, we have a clear-cut issue. I would not be afraid to submit that question to the people.” Leaving my name out of the matter, I tell Senator Pearce and Senator Millen that that is just what the people of Australia want in these times. They want a say in choosing those who are going to decide the destinies of Australia. Names certainly should be submitted to them for their selection before men like Mr. Hughes, Sir John Forrest, and Sir William Irvine are allowed to go to the Imperial Conference. Senator Mullan, in spite of Senator Pearce’s attempt at ridicule, has a better right to represent Australia at any Imperial Conference than Sir William Irvine and Sir John Forrest put together, because in addition to his ability and knowledge of Australian matters, he has two sons fighting at the front, and Sir John Forrest and Sir William Irvine between them have neither chick nor child taking part in the affairs of the’ world. Senator Mullan also represents a whole State. The people outside are clamouring for a say in the government of their own affairs, and if the names of Mr. Hughes, Sir John Forrest, and Sir William Irvine were put up against any three candidates who might be selected to represent Australian nationalism in a vote to be taken for the whole of Australia, I should not be afraid to be one of those condidates against those three so-called Australians. Senator Pearcewas, therefore, attempting to joke on very thin ice. It is idle to assume that men like Mr. Hughes, Sir John Forrest, and Sir William Irvine should go to the Imperial Conference without any indorsement from the people of Australia. I took the following quotation from the Melbourne Herald of 20th February:-
Delegate to War Council
Mr. W. M. Hughes, the Prime Minister, stated to-day that Sir John Forrest, the Federal Treasurer, was going to London to attend the Empire War Council, on behalf of Australia.
It was previously announced that the Prime’ Minister and Sir William Irvine would proceed to England as soon as possible, but to-day’s statement is the first definite announcement from Mr. Hughes that the Treasurer would accompany them.
The three Australian delegates will attend the Conference on an equal footing, though Mr. Hughes will be the chief medium through which the views of Australia will be expressed.
No sane thinking person could say that Mr. Hughes has a right to speak on behalf of the people of Australia, because he has been discredited from one end of Australia to the other. The “No” vote on 28th October was a distinct and emphatic vote of no-confidence in him. The assumption of the control of the Government by the Liberal section, and the leadership of Senator Millen in this Chamber, are also votes of ridicule and want of confidence as regards Mr. Hughes.
– I can say that none of the shafts which the honorable senator launches at us across the chamber leaves any lasting sting. Senator Pearce said also that peace was a very important factor. If he is agreeable to submitting the choice of the Australian delegates to the Conference to the vote of the people of Australia, will he also give them an opportunity of expressing their sentiments on the question raised by Sir Joseph Ward recently in London ? ‘ That self-constituted delegate, speaking in London without any authority from the people of New Zealand, just as Mr.
Hughes spoke without any authority from the people of Australia when he went there on the last occasion, said, “ We must have an Imperial Parliament; Great Britain must submit to an Imperial Parliament, whether she likes it or not.” He added, “We will fight “ - meaning that Sir Joseph’ Ward will fight - “ for two or three years yet before we agree to any peace terms except the terms satisfactory to us.” Those are not the sentiments of the Australian people, although they have been advocated by men like Mr. Hughes and Sir Joseph Ward, and will be advocated again by Sir John Forrest and Sir William Irvine. There is a grave danger in those men being allowed to go to the Imperial Conference. In the Brisbane Daily Mail of Thursday, 22nd February, appears the following significant paragraph: - ,
If Sir William Irvine goes to the Imperial Conference - and it is pretty certain that he will - Australia may hear a little more about conscription, and hear of it from a different quarter, too ! Things can’t go on like this indefinitely. The British people are the gentlest on earth, but even a race of angels won’t go on for ever conscripting itself in order to defend a crowd that encourages shirkers and stands up for men who insult the very people that are doing most of the work.
There is an insinuation there .that Sir William -Irvine, if he goes to the Conference, will use his best efforts to get the British Government, by Imperial edict, to apply conscription to Australia. It is known that there is at present a deep ar.d widespread feeling regarding the position of Australia and its independence. In the Brisbane Worker of 23id November last was published an extract from a paper called the Western Champion, published at Barcaldine, Western Queensland, one of the semi-official organs of squatocracy and it is known that squatocracy now dominates and dictates to the Fusion Government. The statement is as follows : -
Some people, such as the Political Labour League and kindred combinations, appear to imagine that they own Australia; but they do not. It is owned by Great Britain, not by the people living in it. . . .
That is rather a candid assertion by an ultra-Conservative organ and an ardent advocate of conscription for Australia -
If Great Britain finds that it is necessary she might step in and stop the vandalism.
By “ vandalism “ they mean political and industrial troubles, action by unions, and so forth -
Perhaps, hand Australia over to Japan -
Is Senator Pearce listening, because thismatter seems to come under the War Precautions Act? - . on shares, giving her “partner” a free hand, in dealing with the numerous strikes and otherlabour disputes that are always occurring to the dislocation of trade and business generally. There is already talk of Australia being madeinto a Crown colony, and everybody probably knows what that means. Britain usually wears, a very soft velvet glove, but shows she wears a steel one underneath when there is occasion. Seems a very fantastic idea, certainly; but thereit is .’
There it is, almost in the exact words of the paragraph which I quoted from the* Brisbane Daily Mail of Thursday of lastweek. The Western Champion, byinnuendo, states that Great Britain would, be quite justified in taking control of Australia. The paragraph from the Brisbane’ Daily Mail, coming on top of that, show* the danger of men like Sir William Irvine, who have not and will never have anyAustralianism in them, being allowed to go to the Conference as delegates from Australia. If Sir William Irvine would agree* to anything like that at the Conference, so would Mr._Hugh.es, after the extremes^ he went to at the so-called economic Conference at Paris. .If Mr. Hughes, inflated, frog-like by his Imperialism, concluded, that Australia should be. so handled, and; that the people of Australia would tolerateit, he and his co-delegates would not hesitate to commit Australia to any of theseridiculous and disloyal actions. I call them disloyal actions and intentions, becausethose of us in the Labour party who comein contact with Australianism and Australian feeling generally know what thefeeling of the Australian people is. It isnot ultra-Imperialist, and the sooner Mr. Hughes and his co-delegates, who are taking it upon themselves to go to the otherside of the world to speak for Australia, realize this the better and more loyal subjects will they be to the British Empire, to which they so blatantly proclaim their adherence. The new Fusion, or combination, seeks to ridicule those of us who constitute the majority in opposition in thischamber, and the greatest stigma that they seem able to apply to us is to describeus as the Official Labour party. When wecall ourselves the Australian Labourparty, or the Labour party, it seems to please our honorable friends opposite tointerject that we are the Official Labour party. Ever since the inception of theLabour movement in Australia, some hard things have been said about the party. and I really expected thatwhen the break came, and those who disagreed with us went their way, thinking they were right, political history would repeat itself in this country, and that we might expect a repetition of some of the epithets hurled at us during the past twenty-five years. The Labour party has been described in the official organs of honorable senators opposite, and by some politicians of the same political colour, as ‘ ‘ The uprooters of the Church party,” “ The bursters of the marriage tie,” “The desecrators of the home,” “ The advocates of free love,” “Anarchists,” “ Dynamitards,” and “ Syndicalists.” We have lived through all that, and when we are now described merely as “ The Official Labour party,” I am sure that honorable senators opposite, upon consideration, must be surprised at their own moderation.
– That all depends on the meaning the honorable senator attaches to the term “ Official Labour” party.”
– I have no personal objection to the term. I do not see that any meaning conveying a reproach can attach to it.
– I will call the honorable senator’s party a name - “ The Peace-at-any-Price party.”
– Senator Bakhap may put any construction he likes upon the term. In describing this party as the “ Official Labour party,” honorable senators opposite, and those with whom they are associated, must have lost their punch. In view of the terms of vilification applied to the Labour party in the past, the application of the moderate term “ Official “ to the party does not cut any ice or cause meany concern. What I am seriously concerned about is the lack of any policy by the Government. After the fiz-gig launched by Mr. Hughes when he formed his second Cabinet, and after all the negotiations, scheming, and engineering that hassince taken place, the people of Australia expected some kind of policy, good or bad, from the present combination Government. I askany honorable senator on the other side, whether he belongs to the old Conservative faction or the new Fusion faction, to point to anything in the present Ministerial statement that is material. I venture to assert that they must fail to do so. I listened carefully to the statement when it was made by
Senator Millen, and I say that the new Government have lamentably failed to put forward as a policy anything more than the platitudes to which we have become accustomed from Mr. Hughes in recent years. I feel sure that the people of Australia will not be found enthusiastic for the new Fusion, and that when they are given the opportunity it will meet with the same treatment and the same fate as did the Fusion of the Deakin and Cook parties.
– The remarks made by Senator Ferricksmay very well be designated as strong, but they failed to be convincing. The honorable senator referred to two of the leading men in the present Parliament in terms which I thought were opposed to the Standing Orders, and which were certainly quite opposed to the practice of this Chamber or of any other legislative chamber of which I have any knowledge. I drew attention to the honorable senator’s remarks when he referred to these two gentlemen as being “traitors.” The honorable senator afterwards explained that he used the term in a political sense.
– Traitors to the Labour movement, and so they are.
– The same remark might be appropriately applied to Senator Ferricks, who is a self-confessed traitor to the Labour movement, because only to-day he admitted that before he got his orders from the Trades Hall junta of Brisbane to violate the referendum plank of the Labour platform, he had made up his mind to vote against the referendum, knowing it to be one of the principal planks of the Labour platform. It ill-becomes the honorable senator to refer to other members of this Parliament as “ political traitors.” He has sneered at the efforts of the present leaders in this Parliament to form a Government in order to win the war. Onewould think, to hear the honorable senator, that to make an effort in that direction was something to be ashamed of.
– Let the honorable senator tell us something that the Government are going to do.
– If the honorable senator thinks that efforts to win the war are to be sneered at, I wonder how any reasonable or sensible person will regard the boast which he has made that, being of military age, he would not enlist himself, and would not ask any one else to enlist. Is it not a fair construction to put upon his words to say that the honorable senator, instead of doing something to win the war, is doing his very best to lose the war?
– I am not doing anything of the kind.
– Senator Ferricks is a much better recruiting officer than he thinks he is. He may imagine that he is doing something to prevent the enlistment of recruits by referring to leaders in this Parliament as “ traitors “-
– I rise to a point of order. It is, I think, distinctly unfair for Senator de Largie to put the imputation upon my remarks that my references to Mr. Cook and Mr. Hughes were made in an endeavour to prevent enlistment.
– An honorable senator is entitled to use any argument he pleases so long as he complies with the Standing Orders and makes no reflection upon any other honorable senator.
– It is wonderful how thin-skinned Senator Ferricks is and how thick in .the hide he imagines other people to be. He flings his insults about wholesale, but he objects when they are flung back at himself. He does no like them then.
– I like them so long as they are fair.
– In spite of the honorable senator’s remarks about traitors and against recruiting, he is a much better recruiting sergeant than he imagines himself to be. I can prove that from a document which was handed down from the gallery to Senator Pearce during the time Senator Ferricks was making the speech which he has just concluded. This document will show Senator Ferricks ‘how people in the gallery, and the public generally, take his remarks, and will perhaps cast some light on the public opinion of his conduct.
– Before the honorable senator reads the document, I should like to ask whether it is from a member of the Women’s National League ?
– If the honorable senator will listen he will learn from whom the document has been received, and perhaps it will be an eye-opener for him. It is addressed to Senator Pearce, and reads as follows: -
Dear Sir, -
We are two young men from the Malay States at present sitting in. the gallery listen ing to Senator Ferricks’ most unconvincing and most unpatriotic speech -
– The documentproceeds - and we have decided, after hearing this speech, to go and enlist.
– I shall be able touse that from every platform in Queensland.
– The letter concludes -
You may “use this as you think fit.
– Not “Willie”’ Watt, surely?
– Honorable senators will see that Senator Ferricks’ speech has had somewhat of a boomerang; effect. Instead of his remarks hurting the Win-the-War party they are evidently coming back and hurting himself.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that I should try such a speech on the honorable member for Balaclava ?
– The note I have read indicates how the public view the honorable senator’s remarks. It isevident that people outside have sized the honorable senator up. I am done with Senator Ferricks now, because I think his disgusting piffle is scarcely worth while taking notice of.
– Order! The honorable senator must withdraw that statement.
– I withdraw it, sir, at your request, but really when honorable senators are obliged to sit here and listen to Senator Ferricks it is very hard indeed for them not to hit back.
– Let the honorablesenator tell us what is the Government policy.
– It has been very clearly outlined in the statement made by Senator Millen. It is the policy which has been pursued in this Parliament ever since the war began. No matter what Government may have occupied the Treasury bench, the only kind of legislation that has been possible since the war began has been legislation to enable us to succeed in the present struggle. No party legislation of any kind has been passed by the present Parliament, notwithstanding the fact that the Labour party was returned at the last Federal election with an enormous majority in both Houses. Since the war began party legislation has been quite impossible, and quite out of place. We have just discovered in this Parliament what has already been discovered in the Parliaments of all our Allies during the present war. Party legislation has broken down in all of those Parliaments, and has been proved to be impossible during a war such as that which we are waging at the present time.
– It has broken down in Western Australia according to to-day’s newspapers.
– The Western Australian . Parliament has nothing to do with war legislation. I know that Senator Grant, and the rest of them in New South Wales, now that State elections have been entered upon, are doing their best to bring the war into State politics.
– We did not bring the election about. Why does not the honorable senator be fair?
– I am not saying who brought the election about. I am referring to the question of conscription, upon which certain people are trying to fight the election, and which has nothing to do with the State Parliament.
– We have not the slightest faith in honorable senators opposite.
– Whether Senator Grant has any faith in us or not, I say that the State Parliament should not be dragged into the consideration of Federal questions. The present Government have a policy, which is a common-sense policy, and the only one which can be proceeded with under present circumstances. When the war broke out, what was its effect in the French Parliament? Perhaps there is no Parliament in the world in which it is impossible to find men actuated by stronger party feeling, but they saw that party politics were quite out of place during the war. It would have been a good thing if at the beginning of this war we had a Senate like the French Senate, in which the Conservative Royalists crossed the floor, and, shaking hands with the Republican Radicals and Socialists, declared, “ Until this war is ended there is going to be no parties in this Parlia ment.” They, have carried on in that manner ever since the war began, and have had at the head of the Government one of the most prominent Socialists in France. Why ? Not because he was a Socialist, but because he was the strongest man to occupy the position.
– I thought one of their chief Socialists was murdered.
– It is quite true that one of the greatest men in France was shot by a madman, but he was not shot in Parliament. That tragedy occurred in a restaurant. I think there is an adage in currency that the French Royalists never learn anything and never forget anything. That is not quite true now. Since the war began they have learned something which our Labour friends opposite have not learned. They have learned to put country before party and party, considerations.
– Apart from scrambling for office, has your party done anything to win the war during this last few months ?
– They have endeavoured to bring about a united Parliament, which was only prevented by the obstinacy of those sitting opposite. Members opposite have .been prepared to kick over the traces, and in fact to do anything except get into the collar with the rest of the team. They had an invitation to join in, but they refused.
– That was due to the polite way in which the offer was made.
– The invitation was given in the usual way, and if any fault is now to be found with the present position the blame must rest upon those who sit opposite. They must take the responsibility. Never was there a better chance to heal the breach in the Labour party.
– Who wants it?
– Does the honorable senator say he does not want the breach healed ?
– I am not worrying about that.
– It is very candid on the part of Senator Turley to make that admision.
– I do not want to work in with people’ who simply sold the Labour movement.
– If I could apply to that interjection the proper term I would say it is a lying statement.
– Order ! The honorable senator is not entitled to say that any statements made by another honorable senator is a lying statement, and I must therefore ask him to withdraw it.
– The interjection was of a kind that required a strong reply, but as you insist upon its withdrawal, I will do so. I repeat that there never was such a splendid opportunity to heal the breach in our party as when an invitation was given to Labour members opposite to join in this War Ministry, because we have a long way to travel before we reach the end of the war, and many great problems will have to be solved. It is reasonable to assume, therefore, that by the time the war was over the rift in the lute would have been forgotten, and the trouble have been so minimized as to enable us to become a united Labour party again. But Senator Turley tells us he does not want the breach healed.
– And the people outside do not want it healed either.
– Senator Turley is candid over this matter, and I can assure him that his candour will ,prove useful on subsequent , occasions.
– You will always find me candid in these matters.
– It was not always so, but on the contrary I think Senator Turley has been more accustomed to making suggestions than straight-out charges against political opponents. I remember the first speecH I made in this chamber after my return from the Old Country. That speech contained nothing to ruffle his feelings or the feelings of any other honorable gentleman opposite, because I had been out of the turmoil due to the referendum campaign, but as soon as I sat down Senator Turley got up and made a personal attack upon me without any justification whatever. He made no straight-out charge, but he attacked me by insinuation and innuendo, and in view of those circumstances I hardly think Senator Turley is entitled to credit for. candour at any time. I repeat that there never was a better chance to heal the breach in the Labour party than when the offer was made to the Tudor section to come into the present Ministry, but they obstinately refused to do anything except indulge in party strife at a time when party strife was entirely out of place. In no other Parliament in the world, except in Australia, do we ‘ find party strife going on. In no other Parliament in the world do we find members of the Labour party taking up the attitude adopted by those who sit opposite. Their conduct is quite out of harmony with that of Labour members in Europe. What is the position in Great Britain? Who would have ‘thought, some three years ago, that a member of the Labour party would to-day be working in harmony as one of the three rulers in the Imperial Parliament, sitting with a Tory on one hand, and a Radical on the other? The attitude of the Labour party in France, Belgium, and elsewhere is not in consonance with the attitude of the party in Australia, where certain individuals seem to glory in the fact that they can keep party bickerings alive. If. however, they think the country is going to stand this ‘ ‘ Kilkenny cat business ‘ ‘ in politics they will find they are makin? a mistake, and that the people are in no temper to tolerate this condition of affairs. If we do have to appeal to the country, as ‘ a result of the present debate, the people will know where the Turleys and the Ferricks stand, so far as this war. is concerned. Having outlined brien v the general policy of the Government, I would like now to say a few words with reference to the speech made by Senator Gardiner, whose remarks prove that he is still labouring under the disadvantage he experienced during his campaign in Western Australia. While he was in the Western State he had to give a rehash of all the legislation that had been passed during the last few years, and referred to the Acts which had been placed upon the statute-book by the united Labour party from 1910 to 1913. One would have thought that he would have had something to say on the present situation. But no. The only thing he did was to hurl across the floor insulting remarks about members being “rats” and “renegades.” It would have been much better had he left that out. His other remarks, too, were out of date and unfitted in their application to the present political situation. He referred, among other things, to the Australian Notes Act, the Australian Navy, and the Commonwealth Bank. One would have thought by the manner in which he dealt with those measures that he was entitled, above all other members of the Labour party, to claim credit for them. But did Senator Gardiner do anything out of the way, or, to use a colloquialism, did he make a name for himself in connexion with this legislation? The only thing I know is that he was notorious as the greatest opponent of the Government of that day. I was Whip at that time, and it was my custom to make forecasts as to how a vote was likely to go on any particular division, and make out a list for the then Leader, the late Senator McGregor. I never made the mistake of ever counting on Senator Gardiner as a supporter of the Government. He and Senator Ready had a party all on their own, and that party was the most consistent of all others in opposition to the Government. Senator Millen and those associated with him at that time did not vote more consistently against the Government than Senator Gardiner during the particular period for which he now claims so much credit.
– Would you say that Senator Gardiner voted more often against the Government during that time than Senator Millen ?
– Just about as often. On one occasion, I think, Senator Gardiner did made the mistake of voting with the Government.
– It seems to have been a chronic habit of Senator Gardiner to oppose any Government.
– I quite agree with that remark. I think that Senator Gardiner was never happier than when he was sitting in opposition. What was his temperament while he was a member of the Hughes Government? It was quite apparent to any observer that in those days he was the saddest man in the Senate. He was never happy because he could not vote against the Government. It was not until he had thrown off the restrictions and trammels of office, and gone into opposition, that he became himself, the happy man whom we had known in former years. He is a chronic oppositionist, and therefore no one who understands his character can expect him to be happy in a Government. He will far rather go in opposition to a politic hell than go to Heaven with a majority. He will go anywhere so long as he is in opposition. That was his attitude here when the Labour party put on record, I suppose, the finest legislative work which has ever been known in Australian politics.
– I think that if you look up the division lists you will find that you have made a very foolish statement.
- Senator Gardiner is now present, and can contradict me if he chooses. If he consults Hansard he will find that I am right in saying that he was a most consistent opponent of the Government of the day when the legislation was being enacted - the Australian Notes, the Australian Navy, the compulsory Defence Acts.
– May I ask, sir, if the honorable senator is in order in deliberately lying about me ?
– Order ! The honorable senator under cover of a point of order must not be guilty of a deliberate breach of the Standing Orders. I ask him to withdraw his accusation of deliberately lying against Senator de Largie. If the latter has misrepresented the honorable senator that matter can be dealt, with afterwards.
– I withdraw unreservedly the statement I made, and now ask you, sir, if Senator de Largie is in order in uttering a deliberate falsehood about me?
– That remark also is out of order. The honorable senator must know that it is only another way of saying the same thing. .1 ask him to obey the Standing Orders.
– I withdraw unreservedly the remark I made. I understood that an honorable senator would be protected from a deliberate falsehood.
– Order! The honorable senator is now deliberately evading my ruling. I ruled that he was not in order in saying that Senator de Largie was deliberately lying. In withdrawing that remark he stated again - which in my opinion was an aggravation of the offence - that it was a deliberate falsehood. I asked the honorable senator to withdraw that statement - he knows perfectly well that all these expressions are out of order - and he aggravated the offence by withdrawing the statement and saying that he understood that members of the Senate would be protected from deliberate falsehoods, because that is a reflection on the Chair.
– Is that out of order, sir?
– It is out of order.
– If I was under a misconception, sir, and you rule that the remark is out of order, I unreservedly withdraw it.
– On a point of order Senator Gardiner states that Senator de Largie is wilfully misrepresenting him. I ask Senator de Largie to withdraw anything which is a deliberate and wilful misrepresentation, of Senator Gardiner’s action.
– If Senator Gardiner takes exception to my remarks, sir, I withdraw them.
– Why do you not give us the figures? .
– The pages of Hansard are open to the honorable senator, and, if he chooses, he can go and consult them himself. I am stating, in a general sense, what happened in those times. Senator Grant was not a member of the Senate then, and_, consequently, he cannot be in a position to know whether my remarks are accurate or not. I speak from the experience I gained in the position of Government Whip, which I occupied for a considerable time. It was a notorious fact that Senator Gardiner was a most consistent oppositionist in those times. Whether he was prompted by some quality or temperament which is inherent in him I do not know. I believe that he is only happy when he is in opposition, as he seemed to be a very dull dog indeed while he was a’ member of the Ministry. I think it is time that the Commonwealth was given a fair deal. It has not received’ a fair deal lately. Things have been done under the cover of party politics by honorable senators sitting on the opposite side which I dare say would not be tolerated in any country in Europe. There are men making political capital out of the present - situation, who, in other countries, would be checked. It is a pity that in a democratic country like Australia a licence should be granted to men to do and say the things which are passing as currency in politics to-day. Members of Parliament ought to realize that that privilege carries with it a certain amount of responsibility. From some of the speeches which have been delivered during the last few months one would think that no war was going on; that everything was proceeding in a normal way. I always ad mire a man who fights straight out for bis party’s principles, but any well-wisher of Australia must admit that party politics to-day are quite outside the range of good taste and common sense. We endeavoured to the utmost of our power to come to an understanding with our opponents, but we failed. I have not had very much confidence in any appeal to reason since those attempts failed. I anticipated that our attempts would fail, because of a previous experience of these honorable gentlemen.- At the last Caucus meeting which we attended, these gentlemen expelled the Leader of their party, the Prime Minister of Australia-
– We did nothing of the kind. He went out himself, and you followed him.
– For doing that which we had a perfect right to do.
– Is Senator de Largie in order, sir, in making a statement which he knows is untrue?
– Order ! The honorable senator is out of order in saying that any honorable senator is making a statement which is untrue.
– la the honorable senator in order, sir, in making a statement which he knows from personal knowledge is not in -accordance with the facts?
– That is a matter entirely for Senator de Largie to say. His conception of the facts may be entirely different from Senator Grant’s.
– If Senator Grant’s memory is so unreliable that he cannot recall the fact’s, I will have to narrate them for his particular edification. The organization in which the honorable senator was such a shining example - indeed, he was the particular guardian angel at the Sydney Trades Hall for some years - expelled Mr. Hughes’ because he was a conscriptionist. Not only did the Trades Hall do that, but they commanded other members of the Labour party to have nothing to do with Mr. Hughes.
– But you say that the Caucus expelled him.
– I will come to the Caucus part of the dirty business presently. The honorable ‘ senator will not deny, I think, that the Political Labour organization in New South Wales expelled Mr. Hughes for being a conscriptionist. Mr.
Hughes was well within his rights as a Labour man in being a conscriptionist, as I may say he has been ever since I came to know him. I have known Mr. Hughes as a member of this Parliament for the last sixteen years, and I knew him for a good few years previously. Ever since the question of defence was first gone into by the Federal Parliament he has been a believer in the compulsory system, and consequently a believer in conscription. Neither Senator Grant nor any other New South Wales member, so far as I know, has ever questioned the right of Mr. Hughes to be a conscriptionist. What were all the ardent anticonscriptionists doing in these years that they did not bring the Prime Minister to book as a member of the Labour party ? He held these views for a long period, and he was never challenged. These men only plucked up their courage when they were given their orders by the political juntas in Brisbane and Sydney. There was not a syllable of opposition raised to Mr. Hughes when he was elected to the position of Prime Minister. Senator Ferricks - extreme anti-conscriptionist as he is - never once offered a word of objection to Mr. Hughes. Senator Ferricks, Senator Grant, and the rest of them got their instructions from Sydney and Brisbane. They came out of their shell as great anticonscriptionists.
– Do you not know that I opposed Mr. Hughes on conscription when he was in England three months before he came back to Australia?
– I am talking of the time when Mr. Hughes was elected Leader of the Labour party. Mr. Hughes was then a conscriptionist, as he had been for years, and every member of the Labour party knew it. I could understand new chums in the movement like Senator Ferricks not knowing the ideas that prevailed amongst Labour members, for he is only a novice - a mere tyro in Labour politics compared with Mr. Hughes - but Mr. Hughes has always been extremely outspoken with regard to compulsory training for military defence. He never hides his light under a bushel, or anywhere else.
– Before he went away be said he would never send a man out of Australia against his will.
– He may have said so, but it was quite contrary to his whole life-long attitude. He was the first man in the Federal Parliament to put a motion for compulsory training uponthe business-paper. That was discussed, if I remember rightly, in 1902 or 1903, in the first FederalParliament. From that day on he has whole-heartedly and openly advocated the principle of compulsory training.
– Of Australian youths for home service, and you and I supported him in this chamber.
– Senator O’Keefe was always an ardent supporter of the compulsory principle, but he now draws the nice distinction that this was only for home defence. Whether the soldiers are sent to the front in Flanders or anywhere else,they are all fighting at the present time for home defence. If they are not, we have no right to send them there at all. I cannot see any difference between a man defending his country abroad and defending it at home. Wherever the battle has to be fought is the place to fight the country’s battles. I was commenting on the sudden volte face of the New South Wales members towards Mr. Hughes. They had not a word to say against him for years and years. They elected him unanimously as Leader of the party, yet they were prepared just as unanimously to throw him out when the Trades Hall gave them their orders. What a sturdy, independent lot they are ! Every one of them has a backbone quite as stiff as that of a garden worm. What brave fellows they are ! How they slaughtered Mr. Hughes when they got their instructions, but how limp and lam© and obedient they were, and how forgetful they were of their duty to the country on the great question of conscription, when they elected him as their chairman a few months before ! That should be sufficient explanation of the “position we were in when we met at that memorable Caucus, at which a bald motion was moved that Mr. Hughes be expelled. That was moved, practically without any speech, by Mr. Finlayson, of Brisbane. Let me make a comparison between Mr. Finlayson and Mr. Hughes. Mr. Hughes is a life-long trade unionist, the man who, perhaps, with the exception of Mr. Spence, has done more solid work for trade unionism in Australia than the whole of the rest of the representatives of New South Wales. Yet they were ready to expel him on the motion of Mr. Finlayson, of Brisbane. Was Mr. Finlayson ever a member of a trade union? Did he ever vote for a Labour candidate until he voted for himself? I am told on very good authority that he was not a trade unionist and had no connexion with trade unionism until he became a Labour candidate, and that the first Labour vote he cast was for his own nomination. Those are the type of men who were ready to expel and behead Mr. Hughes, the man with a lifelong record to his credit.
– You are telling a deliberate falsehood.
– The honorable senator must withdraw. These accusations of falsehood against other honorable senators must cease.
– I withdraw what I said. It is true all the same. I will produce the minute-book if you like.
– The.honor able senator knows as well as I do that Mr. Finlayson moved a motion for the expulsion of Mr. Hughes.
– He did nothing of the sort
– That was carried after the other members who now constitute the National Labour party had left the room. Mr. Hughes was expelled.
– It is a wonder that a man with your experience persists in making that statement.
– Will Senator
O’Keefe say that that motion was not moved ?
– You are wrong in saying that a motion was moved to expel Mr. Hughes.
– The words of the motion ran something like this, “ That the party has no longer confidence in Mr. Hughes, and that he be expelled.”
– As leader.
– Certainly, as leader. Where now are the honorable senator’s strong assertions that the motion was not moved?
– You said that the motion was that he be expelled from the party.
– He was expelled from the Labour movement of New South Wales, and that was followed up by the action I have referred to in the Caucus. What did the motion mean if they did not want to expel .him ? They expelled him, I will say, from leadership.
– Stick to that, and you will stick to facts.
– I do not require to learn my facts from the honorable senator. Mr. Hughes was expelled’, from his position because he was a conscriptionist. He had been previously expelled from the organization in New SouthWales of which Senator McDougall and Senator Grant are members.
– Your statement wasthat he was expelled from the Caucus, and now you have been bowled out as a. prevaricator.
– Order ! Senator Grant appears to be deliberately defying the ruling of the Chair,’which was that nostatement charging an honorable senator with lying or prevaricating should be made. I must ask Senator Grant to unreservedly withdraw the statement, and’ not to repeat the offence.
– I withdraw the statement unreservedly, and hope that Senatorde Largie will stick to the truth strictly for the rest of the afternoon.
– Order ! The honorable senator must withdraw.
– I unreservedly withdraw.
– I do not want to go into the nice, finnicky distinctions about expulsion from leadership or expulsion from party. Every member of the Caucus knew . very well what was meant. by the motion which was ultimately carried. Honorable senators had not got thepluck on that occasion to get up and say honestly what they were about, and what they proposed doing. It was quiteapparent, that they were ashamed of their conduct, but they were acting under instructions, and could not very well help themselves. What sort of men would wehave been, those of us who were conscriptionists. who had. advocated conscription and believed in compulsory training, and had claimed on the public platform credit for placing it on the statute-book, if wehad allowed Mr. Hughes to be sacrificed, and had still remained in the party that was doing dirty work of that kind ? Evenour political opponents would have spat on us- as being unworthy of the name of men. Because we walked out of the room knowing the outrage that was going tobe committed on the leader of the party rather than be a party to it, those who were responsible for what was done haveever since been wriggling and twisting in every imaginable way in the attempt toget out of the responsibility for their- action. The difference between expelling Mr. Hughes as leader or expelling him in any other way will not absolve them. We knew what was .about to be done, and rather than be a party to it we walked out of the room.
– You walked out when he called you.
– We walked out in response to his invitation, and we are proud that we did so. I am ashamed of the party that did a thing of that kind without having the manhood to stand up for fair play to an individual. I would be ashamed to be associated with an action of the sort. I have time and again stood up in the Labour movement for what is right when men I see opposite me this afternoon were unknown in the movement. They had not the pluck or manhood to become members of the Labour party until it had become safe and profitable, when there were seats in Parliament to be collared, and when they could profit hy the work of the Hugheses and others of his kind.
– Where are they ?
– Sitting opposite me. Those are the men who call themselves the real merinoes of the Labour party. When I was connected with the Labour party of New South Wales the Grants and the McDougalls were practically unknown in the trade union movement.
– I was in it before you were.
– They were such small potatoes that nobody took any notice of them.
– Nobody took any notice of you up to now.
-Nobody took any notice of the honorable senator when I was in Newcastle. I was a prominent “trade unionist and a prominent member of the Labour party in Newcastle when the honorable senator waa a nobody.
– You were very small fry in Newcastle.
– I was a prominent man in both the political arid trade union movement in New South Wales when the honorable senator was only a wowser going about preaching at little bethels on temperance. That was about the height pf his assistance to the Labour movement. He came into it when there was something to be gained, but “when the real fight was being fought he was not known. It makes one’s blood boil to think that men of ‘that kind have crawled into Parliament because of the work of men like Mr. Hughes, whom they would sacrifice if they could. I am pleased to have this1 opportunity of shaking up these “ Johnny-come-latelys “ in the movement, as Senator Lynch has called them.
– Some of us were in the Labour movement longer than you, but we had not the hide or the cheek to get to the front as you did.
– When there were dangers to be faced or risks to be taken in the Labour movement I was always there.
– I have never seen you in any danger yet.
– I was always prominent and in the front rank when the honorable senator was sheltering behind other men. I hope that those gentlemen, when they are addressing themselves to the work of that Caucus - and they seem to be very sore about it being brought up again - will be equally candid, and tell us about the resolution they carried after their late colleagues had left the room. I court every inquiry into my past and present political life, and I am sure that every member of the party with which I am now associated is prepared to do the same. We have nothing to be afraid ot ashamed of. We took all the risks of defying the so-called official element in the Labour movement. Whatever those risks might be, we took them, whilst honorable senators opposite took very good care not to take any risk. They were taking orders and not risks. I am perfectly satisfied with the result of it all.
– We have had a pretty long statement from Senator de Largie, who has professed to give the Senate the facts with respect to many things which he said happened. Quite a number of the things which the honorable .senator said happened, never did happen, and a number of his statements have been absolute distortions of the facts. I take this opportunity to follow the honorable senator in order that the people may learn from the same issue of Hansard what really are the facts in this matter, and what are misrepresentations of the facts. Senator de Largie has said that, at the Caucus meeting, Mr. Hughes was expelled from the Parliamentary Labour party. When that statement was challenged by interjection, the honorable senator quibbled, but admitted that what he had said was wrong. He had apparently been deliberately trying to misrepresent the situation to the country. T have been surprised that one so long connected with the Labour movement should have done so. He and I have been here since the beginning of this Parliament, and. whilst I have always known that the honorable senator is ever ready to fight, I believed that he desired always to fight fairly. But to-day he did not fight fairly in his statement of the position. When, he was compelled to do so by an interjection, the honorable senator made the admission, “ We walked out of the room.” But that was an absolutely different statement from the one which he had just made.
– There was not a bit of difference. Honorable senators would not let me finish my sentence.
– The statement which the honorable senator had just made was that Mr. Hughes was expelled from the Labour party. I repeat - and the statement cannot be too often made, especially in view of the fact that there is to be an appeal to the people shortly - that Mr. Hughes was not expelled from the Federal Labour party.
– Had he not been expelled by the New South Wales organization? Will the honorable senator answer that?
– I am prepared to answer any fair question, and I have always admitted that Mr. Hughes was expelled by the New South Wales organization.
– Then of what use is it for the honorable senator to quibble?
– That was many weeks before the party meeting to which Senator de Largie has referred, and he knows that that is an entirely different thing from Mr. Hughes’ expulsion from the Federal Labour party. Senator de Largie knows as well as does every other member of the Senate that the motion moved by Mr. Finlayson was not a motion expelling Mr. Hughes from the Federal Labour party, but a motion which said that he no longer retained the confidence of the party as leader.
– Was not the word “expelled” used in the motion?
– There is no such word in it. The minutes will show that.
– If Senator de Largie . insists that Mr. Finlayson’ a motion was that Mr. Hughes should be expelled from the leadership of the party, I shall not quarrel with that. The important matter is that ft> depose Mr.: Hughes from the leadership of the party and to expel him from the party are two absolutely different things. No. one should know that better than Senator de Largie, who on a: number of occasions has been the whip of a party.
– That is mere quibbling and playing with the question.
– Let us get at the facts. I can appeal to my friends on this side as to whether I am stating the facts. After the referendum vote was taken, Mr. Hughes was still Leader of the Labour party. The fact that he occupied the chair at the party meeting is proof that he was still leader of the party.
– He could not be expelled until there was a meeting.
– Senator de Largie knows that Mr. Hughes was still leader of .the party. He was asked if he had any statement to make in connexion with recent actions of his, notably some alleged tampering with the ballot, which I shall not refer to to-day, but which has been discussed already at length, and he was also asked whether he had anything to say on the general conduct of the conscription campaign. He refused to make a statement, and on his refusal Mr. Finlayson moved that Mr. Hughes be no longer leader of the party. I do not claim to give the exact words of the motion, but that was its effect. If Mr. Hughes had had the pluck to put that motion to the meeting, and it had been carried, the result would have been that he would have ceased to be Leader of the Federal Labour party, and not that he would have been expelled from the party.
– After his expulsion in New South Wales, how could he sit in that party?
– Mr. Finlayson^ motion had nothing to do with Mr. Hughes’ expulsion in New South Wales. Senator de Largie, in common with every other member of the Senate, knows that that statement is correct.
– Every one knows that the gun was loaded.
– When Mr. Finlayson moved his motion after Mr. Hughes had refused to make a statement, and had said, “ What statement have I to make?” or something like that-
– The heresy hunt was on all right.
– Never mind about the heresy hunt. Those who are trying to throw dust in the eyes of the people with respect to the treatment of Mr. Hughes by the Labour party do not care to hear a statement of the facts, and I am stating a fact.
– Let the honorable senator tell us how and why the meeting was called.
– I shall tell Senator Lynch nothing, because no one can argue with the honorable senator, who loses his head and gets too excited.
– Anyhow, I have got a head to lose.
– After Mr. Finlayson’s motion was submitted, and before it was put to the meeting, I moved a motion in these terms -
The last paragraph of the motion has nothing to do with the question now at issue. There are the facts, and no one can get away from them.
– What support did the honorable senator get?
– Senator de Largie’s leader, Mr. Hughes, did not give me an opportunity to see what support my motion would get. There was an honest and genuine attempt to bring about a reconciliation.
– Yes, honest. Senator Lynch is not the only honest man in Australia who claims to be a Labour man.
The honorable senator, who is always ready with his talk about holding out the olive branch, is also ready to impute dishonest motives to other people. It looks as if he is going down into the gutter to discover motives for the actions of others..
– The gutter? I will tell the honorable senator a bit of his fortune by-and-by.
– Admitting that Senator O’Keefe’s motion was an honest attempt at reconciliation, what could havebeen its effect when certain members of the party could not secure nomination as Labour men ?
– The fact is that I moved that motion, and it was an honest attempt to reconcile the differences between members of this great party which had done so much for Australian Democracy in the past, and which hoped to do still more in the future. I was speaking as one who had received no orders from those whom our friends opposite are now pleased to call a “ junta.” They never called the Labour organizations “juntas” when these were pushing them up the rungs of the political ladder.
– They had never previously attempted to dictate in that manner.
– What is in a name ? If my honorable friends are pleased to call these organizations “juntas” it has nothing to do with me. Whatever they may be called I had received no orders from any such organizations, and I entered the meeting of the Labour party with an ‘honest intention to reconcile its differences. I had written out my motion previous to going to the meeting. I submitted it and let it take its chance, but I did so without any orders from any Labour organization in my own State. I went into the conscription campaign without orders. It was an open question in Tasmania. The Tasmanian Central Executive decided that everyone might speak for or against conscription without contravening any of the rules of the organization. I took my stand in the campaign as an anti-conscriptionist, and when I came back here I was prepared to see all the differences that had arisen sunk in the interests of the Labour movement as a whole. We know that during the campaign a number of things were said by Mr. Hughes, Senator Pearce, and other conscriptionists that were absolutely unwarranted. They branded anticonscriptionists, who were as loyal and patriotic as themselves as “ pro-Germans,” as persons whose ‘ ‘ palms were soiled with German gold,” who were “ backing up the Huns,” and who were “ friends of the Kaiser.” I was just as bitter about those things as any of my friends on thisside were, but it was still my desire to see the members of the great Australian Labour party come together again, and to have the breach between them healed. In spite of my bitterness against Mr. Hughes, Senator Pearce, and others I moved my motion, with the result that Mr. Hughes absolutely refused to put it to the meeting. He refused to allow his fate to be decided, not by the New South Wales executive - and this is what I should like Senator de Largie to bear in mind-
– The honorable senator knows that Mr. Hughes did not refuse to put the motion.
– I know that he never put it to the meeting.
– The honorable senator knows that it was only a suggested amendment to Mr. Finlayson’s motion.
– Senator de Largie has fallen into the soup, to speak vulgarly, because he knows that an amendment is always put before the motion, and he knows that my amendment would have been put first to the meeting.
– Why was it not put? Wasit because it received no support?
– No; but because Mr. Hughes had not the moral courage to leave his fate in the hands of the Labour movement of Australia. If the amendment had been carried, six delegates from the different States would have been appointed to an Inter-State Conference to deal with the matter.
– It was only suggested; it was not a resolution at all.
– Does Senator de Largie suggest that Mr. Hughes would not have received fair treatment at the hands of that conference? Of course he would, but evidently Mr. Hughes had made up his mind not to have anything further to do with the Australian Labour party.As soon as he landed on Australian soilhe was determined that if he could not get his way in this matter of conscription he would have nothing further .to do with the Australian Labour party. The history of this great struggle shows that. There was his first speech at
Fremantle, his speech again when he reached Adelaide, and his speech in Melbourne. He declared then that he was going right on as he saw the light, and “ let those who can, arrest my progress.” He defied the movement, and he defied even his own Cabinet,the majority of whom at that time, as we know, were opposed to conscription. Will any man who wants to place the facts before the public say that Mr. Hughes was not putting himself before the Labour movement? Perhaps he thought he was right, but it is no use now for his supporters and apologists to attempt to make out that it was the Labour party that treated him badly. He asked for that treatment. He had absolutely determined that if the conscription issue did not. go his own way he would have nothing further to do with the Australian Labour party. When he was defeated, did he adopt the usual course, which he would have taken in other circumstances, of convening a meeting of his party to talk things over? No. According to his own announcement, he was going right on, and was going to have his own way. Senator de Largie himself knows that that was the position, and that Mr. Hughes refused to put the amendment which I handed in to the meeting.
– There was no amendment. It was a mere suggestion, and it received no support.
– Who knows what support the amendment would have had ? As a matter of fact, it did receive some support, and it had a very big chance of being carried. I know that, during the luncheon adjournment, members came to me, and said they believed it was a fair way out of the difficulty.
– Suppose a majority had voted for the amendment, what would have happened then?
– An Inter-State Conference, consisting of six representatives from each of the States, would have been held within thirty days. That conference would have threshed the whole matter out, and decided whether the Ministry, with Mr. Hughes at its head as constituted before the resignations were received, should continue in office, or, on the other hand, whether there should still be a Labour Ministry, but a different Ministry.
– Do you not admit that the quarrel with the State executives would have continued, because they would have appointed the same delegates? Would not the same delegates who tried me here have tried me in another place?
– And the same delegates from New South Wales might have tried Mr. Hughes. But what about the delegates from Tasmania, Western Australia, South Australia, and Queensland ? Does anybody know how they would have voted ? I rose to-day to put the amendment on record simply to show that Senator de Largie’s assertion concerning the position was not a true statement.
– It was not an amendment at all.
– It was not, for the reason that the Chairman did not put it to the meeting.
– Nobody took it seriously.
– It appears, according to Senator de Largie, that nobody takes anything seriously. The amendment had no chance of being carried because Mr. Hughes left the meeting without putting it, and he asked the others to follow him. That is what happened. Mr. Hughes was not expelled from the Federal Labour party at all. No motion was even put to show whether he still retained the confidence of the party as a leader or not. I am not going to say that such a motion would have been carried, because I know that a large number of members, like myself, were anxious to avoid any split in the party.
– It was true, as Mr. Finlayson said, that everyone went to the meeting with his mind made up, so there was no occasion to speak to any motion.
– We heard also a. good deal from Senator de Largie about the past history of, and what other men had done for, the Labour movement. I do not deny that Senator de Largie has been one of the most consistent workers in the interests of the Labour party ever since he came into this Parliament in 1901, the same time that I did; but it would be rather interesting, if one cared to detain the Senate, to read a few extracts from Senator de Largie’s speeches in Hansard, giving his views on Sir John Forrest, a member of the present Government, as a Democrat.
– Quote them.
– I have no desire to waste the time of the Senate by doing that.
– You cannot dig up anything of that kind.
– Does Senator de Largie say that time and again he has not declared that Sir John Forrest is not a true Democrat ? The records of Hansards. will show that for the past sixteen years Senator de Largie has time after time expressed his opinion of Sir John Forrest.
– Even if that weretrue, what has it to do with the present position of affairs? As a party politician) I was always opposed to Sir John Forrest, but this is not a party question.
– It is with me tothe extent that while the present Government pose as the “ Win-the-War “ party the same could have been said of the Australian Labour Government during, the whole of its administration, and right, up to the time that the’ lamentable splitoccurred.
– Probably when,! party politics are resumed I shall again bein opposition to Sir John Forrest.
– Yes, and members of the Australian Labour party havefor years been showing the public of Australia that their interests were not identical with the interests of Sir John Forrest,. Sir William Irvine, and Mr. Joseph Cook,, with whom former members of our .party are now cheek by jowl in the new Government. It hurts me as a Labourite, and?for sixteen years a member of this Parliament, to see Senator Pearce and Senator Millen putting their heads together to> find out how they can defeat the Australian Labour party in the Senate.
– But don’t you: know that there is war on ?
– Of course I know there is war on.
– Apparently you do not know what it means.
– I know that theadministration of affairs in this country during war time can be just as effectively carried on with a genuine AustralianLabour party in power as was the casebefore the split occurred, but apparently Mr. Hughes thought that if he could not be the leader of the Australian Labourparty, and Senator Pearce thought thatif he could not be Minister for Defence, no other members of the party could administer these offices properly.
– It is quite truer too.
– I am not quarrelling with them over that matter, bub I am quarrelling with them because they placed their position as Ministers before the movement as a whole, and thought they were the only gentlemen capable of administering the important affairs of this country.
– A great many others thought the same.
– Evidently you thought that’ yourself, because you did not object to Senator Pearce and Mr. Hughes when .the last reshuffle of the Cabinet took place.
– Certainly I did not, because they were then loyal to the movement and to the organization which had placed them there.
– They are loyal today.
– No, they are not. I admit that the Prime Minister and Senator Pearce have climbed to the top of the political ladder in Australia, but it hurts me .to see them kick away the ladder by which they have climbed, and revile the organizations which supported them as “ juntas “ and “ hole-and-corner “ bodies. Those are the organizations which helped these gentlemen to climb to their present positions.
– No, .they are not.
– Not one member of the original Labour party would have been here except for those organizations and the great Democratic movement outside.
– The Peace Society!
– It was not the Peace Society that sent the ‘ honorable senator here, but the Australian seamen, and if one can judge by recent reports they do not approve of the recent action taken by Senator Guthrie. This “Win-the-War” cry is hollow, because if Mr. Hughes and Senator Pearce had wished to remain genuine Labour men, true to the ideals of the Australian Labour party and to the movement which had made them, they would have stood aside when they could not see eye to eye with the party on the conscription issue, and allowed some one else to bake their places as leaders in the movement. If these two gentlemen had remained in the Labour movement, I am quite satisfied that other members of the party who followed them, and for whom personally we have every respect, would also have remained. Evidently they pre ferred to be loyal to Mr. Hughes and Senator Pearce, and so they left the movement.
– I tell you most decidedly I would not belong to the party if they had expelled the leader according to that motion.
– They were going to take us one at a time.
– It would be interesting if one wished to take up the time of the Senate to quote a few extracts spread over the last sixteen years showing Senator Pearce’s opinion of Senator Millen as an Australian Democrat, and Senator de Largie’s opinion of Sir John Forrest as an Australian Democrat.
– What has that to do with the present situation?
– It has a lot to do with the present situation because Australia will have to live after the war is over. Her prosperity or retrogression in the future will depend very largely upon her legislation. Will our honorable friends opposite contend for a moment that men like Sir William Irvine, Sir John Forrest, Mr. Cook, and Senator Millen, holding, as they do, the views which they have hel”d for sixteen years-
– What views?
– Their antidemocratic views.
– Were they elected to their present positions to attack Democracy iri any shape or form?
– Of course they were. The Ministry consists of eleven men, namely, six under the leadership of Mr. Cook, and five under the leadership of Mr. Hughes.
– And they are all loyal.
– Loyal as regards the war question; no one doubts that. Will any of the apologists for the existence of the present Government dare to say that those honorable gentlemen are changed ? Can the leopard change its spots or the Ethiopian his skin? Can Sir John Forrest, Sir William Irvine, and Mr. Cook at once throw off the cloak of Conservatism which has clad them for so many years, and put on the cloak of Democracy? If they do it will not be a genuine cloak.
– Will you tell the Senate what else could have been done than to form a coalition or fusion Government, seeing that no party was in a majority ?
– Something else could have been done. If the men who were then in the lead of the Labour party had only done their duty there would still be a Labour Government in power, and my honorable friend would still be in the party. In default of doing that there was only one fair and honorable course open to the leaders, and that was to let the country itself decide as between the parties. Let us hear for a moment Mr. Hughes’ opinion of a fusion when the Cook party and the Deakin party combined in 1913. In his first speech in the House of Representatives in August, 1913, Mr. Hughes said -
The party that we see opposite is a direct result of a fusion between two parties that for many years in this country achieved whatever notoriety they had by violently, consistently, and persistently abusing each other, and denouncing each other’s policy. For years I listened in this House to denunciations of the leader of the other section of the party by the honorable member for Parramatta. For many years I listened with very great pleasure to denunciations of the honorable member for Parramatta by the leader of that section.
There is Mr. Hughes’ opinion of the political corruption or the political dishonesty of a fusion as it then existed - of the political dishonesty of the leaders of two parties coming together in a fusion; two parties which, like oil and water, could not mix. To-day the position is absolutely the same. Mr. Hughes, who expended a great deal of eloquence in denouncing a fusion, and asking how in the name of Australian Democracy could Mr. Cook and Mr. Deakin combine or fuse to lead Australian progress, finds himself to-day a ‘co-partner with Mr. Cook in a similar kind of fusion. It only shows to what a sorry pass things have come when gentlemen of great ability, who have been in the forefront of our political life for many years, studied their own interests rather than the interests of Australian Democracy. During the whole of this turmoil I have tried to keep anything like bitterness or offensive personalities out of my remarks, whether on the platform or in the Senate, and I am not going to descend to personalities now. I feel aggrieved at seeing this great Australian party, as it was two or three months ago, rent asunder by the actions of one man.
– Mr. Finlayson.
– No, Mr. Hughes. According to the honorable senator’s statement just now, the party was rent asunder before Mr. Finlayson intervened.
– I did not say so. You put him up as your mouthpiece.
– It is lamentable to find an erstwhile leader of Australian Democracy choosing .a man like Sir William Irvine to go to the great Imperial Conference to represent Australian democratic ideals. Here is one man whose name was blazoned in the newspapers every day as a certainty for inclusion in the Coalition Ministry, but who, . apparently, was not trusted fully enough by the members of his own party to be included. Yet, in the face of that affront to him, Mr. Hughes turned round and chose Sir William Irvine ,to represent Australian Democracy at the Conference in London, which we are told is going to determine some of the biggest issues which have ever been considered in the interests of Australia.
– Do you not know that they had to give a sop to Cerberus?
– The more political dishonour lies at the door of the Prime Minister for giving such a sop to such a Cerberus as Sir William Irvine, brilliant, everybody admits; clever, we all know him to be ; but an out-and-out Tory of the Tories. He glories in his Conservatism. Mr. Hughes who to-day still claims to be a leader of Australian Democracy, apparently glories in the fact that he has> chosen the bluest of the blue Tories of Australia to represent its Democracy in London.
– Have you forgotten that Arthur Henderson and Lloyd! George are associated in the Imperial Government 1
– I have not forgotten those gentlemen. I know that Mr. Hughes has taken the best possible means he could, have taken to hurl defiance at the Australian Labour movement. He has cut himself off for good and all. Senator de Largie says, “ Now is the time for reconciliation.” But Mr. Hughes has made reconciliation impossible by hielatest action. He flaunted in the face of the Labour movement a challenge which Labour men have to take up, when he said, “ I have many times called Sir William Irvine the bluest of the blue Tories of Australia, still I am going to send him to the Imperial Conference because you do not like him. I am still a Labourite, but never mind, I am going to send to London .Sir William Irvine, one of the greatest enemies the Labour movement in Australia has had, to represent us there.” He has chosen as a partner or conspirator with Sir William Irvine Sir John Forrest, who everybody says is estimable, but absolutely out of touch with the Australian Democracy. It is too late for him to change his ideas. He is to-day the good old Conservative, which he always has been.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - He always comes back.
– Yes; but he did not come back last time with the good wishes of Senator de Largie. He would not have been here after the second election if Senator de Largie and Senator Pearce could have had their way. They tried very hard to keep him out of this Parliament.
– He was given a free run last time by some of the Labourites of Western Australia.
– Not by Senator <ie Largie or Senator Pearce; not by the gentlemen from Western Australia who to-day are taking the right honorable gentleman to their political bosoms.
– When the party fight is resumed, probably I shall be in opposition to him again.
– Never again ! The appalling part of the whole business is that, in his apparent desire to get to England in his overweening desire to remain Prime Minister, Mr. Hughes would consent to anything rather than stick to his own party, seeing that he consented to the other party having a majority in the Cabinet. It is all very well for some honorable senators to talk about a Fusion, but this is a Liberal Government, because -out of tE’e eleven Ministers, there are six representing Liberal thought and lines of policy. We know that when a Bill is being discussed at the round table, and Senator Pearce puts forward something in accord with what were his ideals up to very recently, it will have no chance of finding a place in the Bill, but when Mr. Cook, or Senator Millen, or Sir John Forrest, or Mr. Glynn, or Mr. Groom, puts forward an idea it must be carried out, because there is a majority of six
Conservatives, or Liberals, as they call themselves, against five.
– I think the honorable senator knows Mr. Hughes better than that.
– Even the honorable senator ought to know that Mr. Hughes is powerless if he has .only four followers, and there are six against him. When I learnt my little arithmetic, six was a bigger number than five.
– They have six votes.
– Does the honorable senator refer to a casting vote?
– There could be no casting vote where the numbers were six to five.
– As a final resort, he has the additional advantage that he can always retire the whole lot of them.
– I have never had the honour of being in a Cabinet, but I take it that the Prime Minister would be in the chair; and if he or any of the other four erstwhile Labourites put forward an idea he might find six Liberal votes against him. I take it that majority rule obtains in the Cabinet.
– You are right, as far as you go, but you do not go far enough.
– I presume that any proposal must be carried by a majority of the Cabinet. If there were six against it, and five for it, it would not be carried. Am I right in saying that?
– I am still positive that there is no hope of any idea seeing the light of day in a Bill in this Parliament if only five Cabinet Ministers are in its favour and six are against it. Everybody knows that there are six Liberal members in the Cabinet and five erstwhile Labour members.
– Then your objection to it. is that it will not bring forward party legislation?
– My objection is that it is a Liberal Ministry, when the country, on the last occasion that it had an opportunity of expressing its will, declared against a Liberal Ministry. Within two or three months after the war broke out, it declared that it wanted a Labour Government, with a Labour policy. That party carried on the war truly and well, and pleased the bulk of the people. They would have continued to carry it on’ well, even if Mr. Hughes had not been the leader or Senator Pearce had not been Minister for Defence. If those gentlemen had chosen to play the better part, and remain true to the movement which made them, rather than to their own interests-
– All this wrangling over the division of the spoils was because the other side wanted to throw Senator Pearce out of the Defence Department.
– I am not joining in the very grave objections that have been raised to the wrangling which is said to have extended over weeks, but it seems to me that Senator Milieu’s party were quite right from their party stand-point. They allowed party considerations to enter into the matter to some extent, when for a long time they would not consent to form a Coalition Ministry until they had obtained a majority in the Cabinet. Who can blame them? They had far more members than the Hughes party had in another place, which, after all, makes and unmakes Governments, and no one can blame them for being true to their party ideals, but they should not talk so much about the Labour party placing party before country at this grave stage of the nation’s affairs. While wanting to win the war as soon as possible, they were true enough to their party ideals to insist on their side being more strongly represented in the Fusion Government than the other, and there was no coalition until Mr. Hughes gave way and gave them six out of eleven seats in the Cabinet.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Your side also had an opportunity to come in with its proportion.
– At the eleventh hour and fifty-ninth minute, after Mr. Hughes and Mr. Cook had been for some time in consultation with each other about the Fusion Government, a belated invitation was sent, not from Mr. Hughes, but. from Mr. Cook.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - No matter where it came from, you would have had the chance, if you had accepted it, of being represented.
– When Mr. Hughes found that Mr. Cook would not join him in a coalition until the Labour party were asked - and no doubt Mr. Cook regarded that as a good tactical move - Mr. Hughes agreed. If he had been really desirous that what he calls a National Government should be formed,, representing the three parties in this Parliament, the first step he would havetaken would have been to consult the party which had been with him until a few weeks before, instead of going first to Mr. Cook’s party to see if he could get their support. Finally, as the only way to allow him to remain in power as Prime Minister, he agreed to that very belatedinvitation being sent to the Australian Labour party. The claim is made that there was no alternative to the formation of the Fusion Government, as the Australian Labour party would not join, but the fact is that they were not wanted.. Mr. Hughes did not want them.
– That is a most ungracious way to put it.
– It . is a fact. Otherwise Mr. Hughes would have asked them before he asked his lifelong political opponents. With my long knowledge of you, sir, as one of the outstanding oldDemocrats and workers in the political! and trade union movement for many years, I wonder what you think, in the seclusion of your presidential room, when you read the names of two of the three men who, we are told, are to represent Australian Democracy at the Imperial Conference. I wonder what are the feelings of Senator de Largie, Senator Pearce,, Senator Story, Senator Guthrie, and those others who for the whole of their sixteen years in the Federal Parliamenthave helped to build up the Labour movement, and have had to sit in this or another place day after day, and sometimes all through the night, listening to the denunciations of the democratic measuresthey were supporting hurled at them byth© party of which Mr. Cook, Senator Millen, Sir William Irvine and others have been the leaders. That was especially the case during those historical threeyears from 1910 to 1913, which will go down in Australian history as the three greatest years in regard to democraticlegislation that the Federal Parliament has ever known. Those were the years that brought into the light) of day all those magnificent measures about which we have heard so much. How many of the leading members of the Liberal party, as. they were then, supported those measures? Most of them consistently opposed them. Picture Sir William Irvine’s magnificent support of such measures as the maternity bonus and the old-age pension I
– Are those to be -discussed at the Imperial Conference ?
– I do not know; but the Imperial Conference will have before it questions that may seriously imperil the future freedom of Australia. Fancy Sir William Irvine, with his love for adult suffrage-
– Is that to be discussed at the Conference.
– The honorable senator does not know what will be discussed. A number of questions may be discussed there, involving amongst other things the great question of a White Australia. What magnificent support we can expect in that matter from Sir William Irvine !
– What about the declaration of policy by the Government?
– What about the declaration that Sir William Irvine will be allowed a free hand by his Government to do, and say, what he likes at the Conference, with Sir John Forrest sitting at his right hand? Fancy Austalian Democracy being handed over to the tender mercies of those two great Democrats !
– Who should go, in the opinion of the honorable senator?
– Rather than that men who cannot properly represent Australian feeling should go, the High’ Commissioner should attend. He could represent Australia as a whole far better than Sir William Irvine or Sir John Forrest. The honorable senator must admit that Sir William Irvine does not represent Australian feeling on any big -question. He also knows that Sir John Forrest does nob represent the majority of the Australian people.
– All this is very interesting, but what has it to do with the war ?
– I am speaking about the proposed Conference-
– As if there were no war.
– Before the honorable senator came in, I expressly stated that this party is just as anxious as any other to see the war brought to an early and successful conclusion. But I am also discussing another part of the policy of the Government. Our friends do’ not like any reference to this part of their policy.
Senator Millen knows well that the Imperial War Conference will have to consider the most momentous questions ever brought before an ‘ Imperial Conference. It will have to consider questions involving, it may be, the freedom of Australia in the future, and in any case the future prosperity of our industrial life. The Tariff question will almost certainly be dealt with by the Conference, and fancy Sir William Irvine and Mr. Hughes - strong Free Traders - representing Australia on that question.
– The honorable senator supported Mr. Hughes for years.
– I did, because he was pledged to the principle of New Protection; but to-day he is pledged to Mr. Cook. He found it very hard to sink his Free Trade opinions, but he did sink them for a time, and now they have come to the surface again. I say that he cannot properly represent Australia from a manufacturing point of view, because he is a Free Trader, and at the Conference will have on one side of him Sir William Irvine, who has been a Free Trader all his life, whilst here he has beside him Mr. Joseph Cook, who has also been a Free Trader all his life.
– - He has not been a stronger Free Trader than Senator Gardiner.
– I am sorry to have to admit that Senator Gardiner nas not shown very strong Protectionist proclivities; but he has been true to the majority opinion of the party with which he is associated. Were it not for the fact that Mr. Hughes has been Prime Minister during the last eighteen months, leading the Labour party in the House of Representatives, and Senator Pearce, another Free Trader, has been leading the party in the Senate, we should have had a revision of the Tariff before in this Parliament.
– Why did not the honorable senator insist upon it? He never opened his mouth about it in the Caucus or elsewhere:
– Senator de Largie knows that, in common with a number of other members of the party, I have been very loyal to Mr. Hughes. He knows, that Mr. Hughes was always pleading that there were some mysterious reasons for delaying the revision of the Tariff. I do not know what those reasons are. I sat at a secret conference of both Houses of this Parliament, and came away from it still unconvinced that there would be any great danger to Australia from raising the Tariff issue. Unfortunately, I was not in a majority, and the Government could not bring themselves to go in for Tariff revision.
– The honorable senator is like one of a gang of burglars who has turned King’s evidence.
– What does the honorable senator say?
– The honorable senator supported Mr. Hughes and Senator Pearce in what they did, and he now denounces them for doing it.
– That statement is absolutely incorrect, and the honorable senator should beg my pardon.
– But did not the honorable senator support the Government during the whole of the time?
– I supported the Government because of their whole policy, but if I had had my way part of their policy would have been immediate Tariff revision.
– Why does the honorable senator say that only now, and why did he not say it before the 28th October ?
– Because I was supporting . the Government and Mr. Hughes in their general policy, and I was not going to flog my own joss. Senator Millen has said that only war matters will be dealt with by the Imperial War Conference. Will nothing else be discussed? Will not the question of Australian trade and manufactures be raised? What a splendid deal Australia may expect to get when represented by three sturdy Free Traders.
– The honorable senator would be satisfied if we were represented by Mr. Fisher, who is a Free Trader.
– Mr. Fisher was never a strong Protectionist, but neither was he a strong Free Trader. Senator, de largie and I have been behind the door. We know what went on in the party for the last sixteen years, and we know that while Mr. Fisher was never very strong on Protection, he was more of a Protectionist than a Free Trader.
– What sort of a fiscalite is a man of whom the honorable senator can only say that he is more of one colour than of another?
– What sort of a Government is the present Government, which is partly of one colour and partly of another? Yet honorable senators opposite claim for it that it is a Government to serve the interests of Australia. In the declarations made by Senator Millen here, and by Mr. Hughes in another place, it is stated that the Government intend to obey the Protectionist will of the people of Australia. At least half of the members of the Cabinet are strong Free Traders, who cannot get away from their Free Trade convictions. Suppose the life of the Government were extended until October twelve months, what chance would, we have to pass a real Protectionist Tariff between now and then under the present Government? Let us consider the members of the Cabinet. First of all, Mr. Joseph Cook is a life-long Free Trader. Senator Pearce is also a life-long Free Trader, but he swallowed his Free Trade ideas when he put Labour ideas before them and became a New Protectionist. Senator Millen is another very strong Free Trader, Mr. Glynn and Sir William Irvine are also Free Traders–
– What is Sir John Forrest ?
– It is on record in Hansard that Sir John Forrest has declared himself a good Protectionist where Western Australian interests are concerned. Every one knows that he is not a Protectionist of the real Australian brand.
– What is the real Australian brand?
– A Protectionist of the real’ Australian brand is not merely a geographical Protectionist, but one who, like myself, whilst representing Tasmania, is prepared to protect an industry in the far north of Queensland’ or in Western Australia. That is my definition of a real Australian Protectionist. I am very doubtful about the strength of Senator Bakhap’s Protectionist principles.
– Has the honorable senator ever heard a Western Australian Protectionist on mining machinery?
– Yes, I have; and I am not sure that on mining machinery Sir John Forrest is a very sound Protectionist. I have mentioned five sound Free Traders in the Ministry, and Sir
John Forrest, who is a very weak Protectionist, if he is one at all. I do not quite know where Mr. Jensen stands on this subject.
– He is a Protectionist on apples.
– He probably would be in favour of strong Protection for apples, since he represents a Tasmanian constituency. I have, on several occasions, told the Free Traders of Tasmania that I am a Protectionist upon everything.
– What is Mr. Webster?
– He is the saviour of the Post Office, the gentleman who said that if he remained in charge of the Post and Telegraph Department for another five years, there would be no more loss in that Department. We have heard something about him before. He sent a number of urgent telegrams from the seat of war during the conscription campaign - “ Anti-conscriptionists routed. Came up to me with a few shots, but fired some bombs, which were too much for them and routed them. Winning all along the line.” I remember reading later the results of the campaign in Mr. Webster’s constituency, and they told a tale very different from his prognostications. The honorable gentleman proved to be a very bad prophet on that occasion.
– His telegrams were sent with “ On Service “ stamps.
– They were of sufficient importance to be sent with “ On .Service “ stamps. I know they were very cheering to Senator Pearce in Melbourne, and to Mr. Hughes wherever he was at the time. They were beginning to think that conscription would not be carried, and Mr. Webster sent these magnificent telegrams for their encouragement. I do not know where he stands on the fiscal question. He may be a Protectionist.
– That is unfair.
- Senator Russell will do me the justice to believe that for the moment I had forgotten that I heard Mr. Webster say that he was an outandout Protectionist.
– His votes prove it.
– I will accept Senator Russell’s word for it that Mr. Webster is a Protectionist, but that does not give a majority of Protectionists in the Cabinet. I know that Senator Russell is a Protectionist, and always has been. I have never known him to give a vote in this chamber that was not a really Protectionist vote. However, the honorable senator is only one in the Cabinet. If I could believe that the present Government would frame their legislation in accordance with the desires of Senator Russell I would not be afraid of what they might do. If the honorable senator talks solid Protection in the Cabinet he will be like the small boy howling in the wilderness, and his voice will not be heard, because a majority of the Cabinet are Free Traders, or only halfhearted Protectionists.
– Some of the men whom the honorable senator classes as Free Traders voted solidly for the last Protectionist Tariff.
– Who were they ?
– The Prime Minister for one.
– In reply to that interjection I remind Senator Russell that those to whom he refers voted in accordance with instructions from the “ juntas “ that have been referred to. On those occasions Mr. Hughes - Free Trader as he was - sank his Free Trade opinions at the order of the “ juntas.”
– No, not the “ juntas “ but the Inter-State Conference that put the New Protection plank on the Labour platform.
– Mr. Hughes sank his Free Trade opinions then and always at the order of the Inter-State Conference and the organizations behind it, because he did not put Free Trade before the political ideals of the Labour party. He voted for a Protectionist policy because he knew perfectly well that he was voting according to the will of a majority of the party.
– Mr. Hughes and Senator Pearce voted for the highest Tariff that Australia has ever known.
– Exactly, because they were members of the Labour party, and it was on the Labour party’s platform, so that they were practically compelled to do that. Yet these are the men who say they have never taken orders from an outside organization. When I think of the future of Australia - and I think there will be an Australia and an Australian Labour party after the war - being handed over to the tender mercies-
– Of the “ rats.”
– I do not -ant to use that term, but when I think of the future of Australia being, handed over to the tender mercies of those six Liberal members of the Fusion party who comprise the majority of the present Cabinet, I wonder what is to become of us. In such circumstances Australia will not become self-supporting as a nation. For years we have been fooling with our wool, our iron, our general metal products, and our timber resources, and if Sir William Irvine, with Mr. Cook and a Free Trade majority in the Cabinet, can get their way there will be no really Australian Tariff for the conservation and the building up of our Australian industries’: Worse than that, there will be no democratic legislation. I do not believe they will be game enough to bring forward any reactionary legislation, but while the present party is in power no democratic legislation will be introduced in this Parliament.
Sitting suspended from 6.28 to 8 p.m.
– This is the first opportunity I have had of speaking in the Senate
– Since you were thrown overboard.
– This is the first opportunity I have had of speaking here since the present Government were formed, and I wish now to congratulate the members of it upon their assumption to office. I want specially to congratulate the Leader of the Senate, Senator Millen, upon his second occupation of a seat on the Treasury benches. I believe that his ability, as reflected on the floor of this chamber in the past, will in due time be equally useful in the higher office for the benefit of the country. I hope that as a result of his share in the counsels of the Government we shall have nothing to be ashamed of, or afraid of, or feel any apprehension for the future on that score. ‘ I am going to say, as clearly and as publicly as I can, that I intend to support this Government fully and whole-heartedly; and that if there should be any doubt about the quality of my support it will be conditioned upon the Government not going fast enough, instead of going too slowly in regard to measures for the vigorous prosecution of the war. I thought it due from me to say this, on account of the fact, as Senator Blakey has indicated, that I am not now a member of the Go vernment; because I want people to understand that just as I endeavoured to do my duty when called upon to lead - however unworthy I may have been of that distinction - so I will follow as loyally the Government now charged with the conduct of this war.
If ever there was a time in the history of this country when it is the duty of every man to do, not as he feels free to do, but to act as he ought to act, that time is now. Therefore, in that spirit, and out of the recognition of my duty, I feel just as well satisfied to act in my humble position on the floor of the Senate as when I was elected a member of the former Government.
During the course of this debate I could not help thinking that the Senate was not playing its part as a deliberative assembly. Ostensibly the purpose of this Chamber is to enable members, by the clash of thought against thought, opinion against opinion, to arrive at the wisest and sanest views. But I could not help feeling that the electors of this Commonwealth will, as the result of the Daylight Saving Bill, be saved the consumption of a considerable amount of candlelight and lamp oil, which but for that measure would have been expended uselessly in the reading of opinions expressed in this chamber on the Ministerial statement. Members on this side of the chamber do not want to be converted, because we all feel that we are on the right side, that we are standing on the firmest granite foundation, and that our views are unchallengeable.
In order to make plain my position as a supporter of this Government clear, -I will recall for the benefit of honorable senators the pronouncement I made in the Western State just on the eve of the referendum campaign. At that time I thought it my. duty to those who had sent me here to inform them how I proposed to act in the future, and, therefore, at a public meeting in Perth I told them there was only one party, one policy, and one plank in that policy for me, and that was to win the war. That opinion was so clearly enunciated at the time that there was no misunderstanding about it. It was uttered in the most public way, and with no attempt to equivocate. I had mapped out a straight course, and I have not deviated from it, so far as I know, by a hair’s breadth. I have strictly and religiously adhered to the policy and platform upon which the electors of the Western State elected me.
I want, also, to recall for honorable senators another pronouncement, which they must have subscribed to, and which, if they have forgotten, it is necessary to remind them of, because if they wanted to keep faith with the solemn obligation they entered into with the electors of this country, they should have pledged themselves in much the same way that I did. When the elections were held in 1914, our late leader, Mr. AndrewFisher, supported by the present Prime Minister, took it upon himself to tell the country what our party would do. Upon that statement, uttered as plainly as words could be uttered to convey their meaning to the average individual, we were elected to this Parliament. The statement contained the following : -
If returned with a majority, we shall pursue with the utmost vigour and determination every course necessary for the defence of the Commonwealth and the Empire in any and every contingency.
Regarding, as we do, such a policy as the first duty of Government at this juncture, the electors may give their support to the Labour party with the utmost confidence. And this we say, further, that whatever be the verdict of the people, we shall not waver from the position taken up by Mr. Fisher on behalf of our party, viz., that “ in this hour of peril there are no parties, so far as the defence of the Commonwealth and Empire are concerned, and that the Opposition will co-operate with the Government and stand behind them as one man.”
I do not need to emphasize what has been so well said, further than to say that when a solemn compact was about to be made between the electors of the country and the candidates in the field, Mr. Fisher said that, in the present grave emergency, there could be only one party. Mr. Fisher has been referred to, and deservedly so, by Senator O’Keefe . I want to ask that honorable senator, and those who form the party ofwhich he is a member, what do they think now of the statement of their former leader, and why they have formed a party in opposition to the advice and the counsel which our former leader gave to the electors of this country, and by virtue of which, and on the faith of which we were elected to this Parliament, “ one party in this grave emergency “ ? How many parties have we now?” We have two parties, so that those men on your left, sir, are giving the lie direct to their former leader. There is no use in mincing words about this matter. These honorable senatorsare giving the lie direct to the solemn engagement which was made with the. electors of. the country when Mr. Fishergave that promise in 1914. There are. two parties.
– We obey the majority of the people of Australia.
– During what Mr.. Fisher said was a crucial time - a time of peril to the Empire and to Australia - we see two parties here.
– You see threeparties.
– I say again thathonorable senators on the other side are not keeping faith with that arrangement, that they won their seats by false pretences, in constituting a separate party; otherwise their former leader spoke in vain, and got for them thousands of voteswhich they would not have otherwise received.
I said just now that I wanted to makemy position clear when speaking in Western Australia. I will make a further reference to my public pronouncement there, not necessarily connected with the subject of my discourse this evening, but in order to show the difference between the East and the West - the temper of thetime, and the tone that pervades themovement which we profess to belong to both in the East and West. In Westerm Australia, I said, as publicly as I could, that it was a pity that German ships werenot allowed to come down our coasts and bombard some of our Eastern cities; toland a shell in the neighbourhood ofthe Trades Halls, and take away a wing tomake them feel what they were about. I said that if they landed a whole broadsider on the Yarra-bank Australia would be the better for it. What followed - showing the difference between the men. in the West and the men in the East? On top of that clear statement, when I gave some wholesome medicine to sluggish people as well as the Labour party, which had been wanted for a long time in theEastern States, the miners of NorthCoolgardie sent me as their chosen representative to the Inter-State Conference in Melbourne, and the executivein Perth indorsed that nomination. I leave this point by saying that if those gentlemen who talk so loudly about the Official habour party, only said something like- that, or something closely approaching it, we would have a healthier and more wholesome Labour movement to-day. They have not the courage to say so; they hold aloof in sullen silence when it is the imperative duty to warn and advise.
When a great Frenchman web asked, “ Why do you not check the excesses of your followers?” he said, “I must follow them, because I am their leader!” So it is with these gentlemen. They have given up the rôle of leadership, and are following behind. What leadership do they give ? Can they point to a sturdy word which they have ever uttered. We, in the Western State, spoke out on various occasions, with the result that we have a healthier Labour movement to-day. Labour leaders, they call themselves 1 They are only leaders in leading strings. There was a time in the history of the Labour movement when we had leaders; when we had men who would go out and do things; when we had men upon whose actions, and upon whose word, depended the welfare and the well-being of tens of thousands of men and women in this country. Leaders then were trusted because they acted as leaders, and not as these . men opposite are acting to-day. What leadership have these honorable senators given? They have not given -the leadership that a blind dog, you see wandering down an alley, would give, so far as our movement is concerned’. Leaders, forsooth I Had they only acted as Senator Buzacott, Senator Henderson and myself did; had. they told their fellow workers what they should do, and what they should think about, as we did, we would not have the extraordinary position which exists to-day.’ This strife between Labour men is due . to want of courage in alleged leaders of Labour to-day. Labour leaders, they call themselves I . Where and when have they led? They are following lamely, supinely behind and obeying the orders - nay, the commands - of the coteries at the Trades Hall. An individual requires medicine at times, but these gentlemen have given sugary pap far too long, and it- has made the Labour movement sick- unwholesome. These leaders failed to give that kind of medicine which would keep the movement healthy. That- is the chief reason why the party is in the terribly con- fused and disrupted state it is in to-day. These men gave up the role of leaders and now follow tamely, stupidly, and blindly, and on their shoulders principally rests the responsibility for the disruption which obtains to-day. Leaders they call themselves I What have they led ? Leaders in leading strings they have been, and nothing more.
We come now to a discussion of the constitution . of the Ministry. The Ministry has been described in various terms. It has been called antiLabour, anti-Protectionist, antiAustralian, anti-Socialistic; everything anti. We, of course, can- stand all that. The only thing I am concerned about at present is that we have in power a Ministry which is the only one that could have been formed to-day - and a good one it is, too- out of the material at hand. I would like to - see, perhaps, a Ministry going much more strongly .than the present one is doing in the direction I have indicated, namely, to see that Australia is - made safe and puts her shoulder under her proper share of the burden. When I look at the alternative, what do I find ? Where am I going to get a Ministry from the other side? There is no hope in that direction. Whatever hope there ls in the present Ministry,’ I Bee no hope whatever on the other side. We have, a - Ministry which, I hope, ia determined upon seeing that Australia shall muster and marshal all her forces to the last man, and I hope to the last featherweight of strength. I am sup- . porting the Ministry to-day, because I believe that we’ are still in need of all the moral and physical strength which can be brought to bear upon the discharge of this country’s duty and obligation as a warring nation. Why are these gentlemen going on a wild career? They were asked to come into this Ministry, but they refused. They were asked to do that in the plainest - and clearest way possible, but they sulked in their tents, and would not come in. It is quite true that the explanation is closeat hand. They know that if they had come in something serious would have happened the following day. They know that they are not masters of their own actions, not masters of their own minds - nay not masters of their own souls so far as parliamentarians are concerned. They know that if they had accepted the invitation which was given to them the “ juntos “ of .the Trades Hall would have frowned upon them, and that would have been the last of them, lb is quite- understandable why they spurned -the invitation. They would have come in gladly but for the frowning “ juntas” in the distance. Let the heavens fall, the “ juntas “ must be -obeyed. They are all supreme in this land as far as these unfortunate weaklings are concerned. It is a sad chapter in the history of this young country. It is sad to find; that, independent parliamentarians have not a soul of their .own,, as these men have shown.
This is no time for warring parties. This is a time when we must be united if we wish to -see victory come our way , if we -wish to see Australia maintain herself on that high pedestal where her patriotic .soldier sons placed her, but from which unfortunately she has been lowered by what has taken place. I am hopeful that as a result of the work .of the present Ministry Australia will be put -back on that pedestal, there to rest as a consequence of our making the -country face fairly and squarely the burdens ahead to-day.
Let us look at what other countries -are doing compared with Australia. Is there any other country on the side -of -the Allies to-day occupying the miserable position in which honorable senators opposite would place Australia In Great Britain, France, and gallant little Belgium -are there to -be found political parties warring against each other ? No. In reach of those countries there is only one party, and one policy, that policy -being to pat forth the country’s best efforts to win the war-. But here’ in Australia we have two political -parties -for the purpose of wasting our strength by reason of the -friction that -must -be engendered by their -presence in the political field. Take our Australian soldiers at the front to-day. They act in strict obedience to the commands which they receive, and in cooperation with their British brethren in the field. Indeed, the -aim -of all .the fighting forces of the Allies is to strike hard when they are required to strike, and to stay their hands -when .it is necessary .to -do so. In other words, there is -order, system, -and method in their every movement. But in Australia have we a -council of war in the political field? No ; .but we have a number of ‘ warring councils, and in that respect our condi- tiona are quite unlike those ‘’ which pre vail in countries where our troops are fighting to-day. 16 is time that we altered our position; it is time that- .we examined ourselves closely and inquired whether we are doing the fair thing to our comrade allied nations, or the fair thing to Australia, by continuing party strife. For my part, I want to see an end. of it. That is why, some -time ago, I made my position perfectly clear, not only to my own State, but to all who cared to listen ito me.
To-day, in England, there is a Labour party under the leadership of Mr. Henderson. How is ib that the Labour party there, which is bound by the sazae principles, and bent upon the same objective, met the Manchester Congress -within the last few weeks with its reputation certainly .not lessened, but rather enhanced, by reason of the fact that it had -advocated conscription t How does that happen in the Old Country, where Labour principles are just as dear ito Labour advocates as they are . here 1 There Mr. Henderson was applauded for standing behind the Asquith Government and the Lloyd George Government in giving effect to national service. Again, I ask how it is that the Labour leader in the Old Country, who advocates conscription, is pronounced an innocent man, whilst his fellow Labour leader in Aus- tralia has branded on his forehead the unforgivable ;sin -and is proclaimed a traitor ? I say that reason will .not support ‘the course pursued by the Official Labour party in Australia. It will never sustain the position of a Labourite in the Mother Country being extolled for taking up a certain attitude, Whilst a Labour member in Australia, for adopting a similar attitude, is branded as were the slaves of South Carolina. Principles do mot work backwards merely because we are -at the Antipodes. -They are eternal. If they do not apply within the complete domain of activities, they are not principles at all, but mere expedients, contemptible -makeshifts, and nothing .more. - -During the course of this discussion, Sir John Forrest and Sir- William Irvine have come in for a lot of condemnation. While we ‘have certain -gentlemen professing to represent Democracy-
– What ! Forrest and Irvine ? The honorable senator is in bad company
– I am not in their company at all. I declared myself on this issue . long before either Sir John Forrest or Sir William Irvine thought of saying on which side they were. Instead of me being in their company, they are in mine. But I wish to tell the professed champions of a White Australia that Sir John Forrest and Sir William Irvine - and, indeed, every member of the Liberal party who stands behind a vigorous war policy - are better Australians, from a White Australian point of view, than are any members of the Official Labour party. Why?
– Who introduced the Kanakas?
– My honorable friends are squealing all the time - a sure sign that there is something the matter with them. It is the shadow of the wrath to come that is over them. I really pity them as much as I can afford to do ; but may I point out to them that they can accept the situation philosophically, because the world is wide before them. Sir John . Forrest, Sir William Irvine, and Mr. Cook, I repeat, who are being assailed with all the bitterness of the Yarra Bank an& the Trades Hall junta oratory, are more staunch from a White Australia stand-point than is any member of the Official Labour party. I say this because if we come out of the present struggle parties to a drawn battle - if the Empire signs a peace which leaves Germany unbeaten - there is not a ship of the British Navy which will be able to come to Australia and fire a single shot in our defence. Every British war vessel will be held in the North Sea. It will be too late then to brush aside the false prophets who are to be found on the opposite side of this .chamber and to recognise the deadly peril which will come to this country. In such circumstances, what will happen ? Australia will have to face the grim task of defending herself without the aid of the Mother Country. Can we do it? I hope that we can. But if honorable senators will recall the rare position occupied by Australia, and recollect what has been said, they will realize that this country is indeed confronted with a grave menace. Let Britain be defeated as a result of Australia failing to put 50,000 or 20,000, or even 10,000 men in the field at the critical moment, and it is Australia that will suffer. If Germany has a free road to Bagdad as the result of a drawn battle, and the means of establishing a Naval Base in the Persian Gulf , her war vessels will have a clear fourteen days’ start of any British ship which can come to our assistance. Then we shall also have 12,000 miles of coast-line to defend, Let Germany be strong in the European area, let her have a road to Constantinople and an opening to the Persian Gulf, and we shall not be able to get a single ship of the British Navy to afford us the protection we have so long enjoyed.
– We want the policy of the Government on that point.
– I am trying to deal with this matter on a high plane. Where will Australia be as the result of a drawn battle? She will have that long coastline to defend, with a mere handful of population. Do honorable senators realize what 12,000 miles of coast-line really means ? It means a coast-line which would stretch from the top of Norway to Calcutta, and down towards Australia. And we have only a population of 5,000,000 to defend that coast-line. I again ask whether honorable senators realize the position which Australia will occupy if Germany makes the present struggle an undecided peace? We shall be then under . the eyes of people who may have designs upon us. Then there will be no time for Chinese or Maltese fictions, or Liberal or Labour or socialistic contemptible party issues. Those of us who wish to retain liberty and. freedom in this country will have to get* busy, as the Americans say, with something else. It is to ward off that probable,, that almost certain position, which will result if the war ends in a draw, that I have taken a stand right down to the present period. These are some home facts for these gentlemen.
When that dread time comes, when the designing enemy plunges upon us - and this may happen long before we are aware of it, for the assassin may come upon us as he pounced on to peaceful Belgium, when we are ill-prepared : we can only hold our own, with our 12,000 miles of coast-line, by a miracle happening. It is to avoid the chance of miracles happening that I have at all times tried to open the minds of these men, who have been steeped in miserable party prejudice up to their eyelids. Blinded to higher questions of national concern, they have always been thinking about how their party is to fare. The enemy will not be bothered about our parties. The only concern that our potential enemy will have is for our country. He will not bother whether it is Liberal or Labour if he has his eyes on this country, as he has. If the result of this titanic struggle is a drawn battle, we shall have either to remodel our external policy or take the consequences, and these men know it. Yet they go out to their juntas far and wide, and bow the knee to Baal, influenced by contemptible and miserable considerations for their own political safety, when the safety, liberty, and independence of Australia are being weighed in the balance. We cannot afford this.
– What are you going to do about it ?
– We want to do our best, . as becomes a nation at war, and we have not done nearly our best yet. That is why I am here trying to open the eyes of these men, who have had them shut either unwittingly or deliberately for so long, to a sense of their duty to their country, to the cause of the Allies, and to the necessity of seeing that human freedom is still preserved the world over.
I have been trying to arrive at a solution of the problem of why a great party such as that party still pretends to be has turned against the national movement, and against Australia doing her full share in the war.
– It is a lie.
– I embraced the last man who said I was lying.
– I did not say you were lying. I said it was a lie to make such a statement. I will say now thatit is incorrect.
– I have been looking for a solution of the problem why the Official Labour party had. declared against’ vigorous action in the war, and have been striving to follow the genesis of the movement in order to get a grip of the position. The present position is partly the result of vital necessity and partly the result of these men failing to act the part of leaders. The Labour party first came into existence to adjust certain unevennesses in our social sphere. In its origin it was a bread-and-butter movement, and nothing else. It did not concern itself with national or defence questions. Only when it gained in popularity and numbers did it broaden out and consider the advisable- ness of wrestling with such national problems. I believe it is partly owing to the nature of its origin that the Labour movement still holds aloof from the national effort. In the early days we troubled ourselves not at all about military or naval questions, or other national issues, but justifiably only with questions affecting our livelihood, and how to get better wages and more equitable conditions. That natal sentiment of the party still survives, but, apart from that consideration, I am going to lay the blame on those men who failed to lead. The Labour party contains men who call themselves leaders, but who are not leading at all, and it is they who are mainly responsible for the attitude of Labour to-day. The workaday supporter of our party naturally looks for a lead to those of us who, for the time being, are in a wider and more elevated sphere of action, with larger powers and opportunities of observation. But how is he being led ? Those who should be his leaders are stooping with their ears to the ground to learn what is going to happen. That is how the present difficulty has come upon us. . When you, Mr. Deputy President, were at Kalgoorlie with Senator Buzacott,and we were fighting there, as it became Labour leaders to fight, when we were dealing with men just as firm in the Labour movement as any that can be found in Australia, we at last succeeded in bringing them to our way of thinking, with the result that the Labour movement in the West ranged itself behind the Hughes Government, and in that respect differed from the Labour movement in any of the other States.
– Is that why they havea Liberal Government in power there ?
– Had Senator Ferricks, or Senator Hysterics, as I should call him, shown half the manliness, grit, and courage, or half the anxiety that he shows here in attacking men that do not deserve to be attacked, had he shown even a tithe of those qualities in telling his fellow Labourites in Queensland what we told them in Western Australia, he would have had a sounder, saner, and more permanent movement behind him in Queensland to-day.
– I declared myself on that question in this chamber before you did. I was an anti-conscriptionist before you were a conscriptionist, and Mansard will prove it.
– The honorable senator followed with the docility of a follower, and I have never seen anything to equal it, when he got his commands from the Trades Hall in Brisbane. Had he talked -to his fellow Labourites as he talks to his fellow members here - and they want talking to - we should have had no trouble in our movement to-day. Had these -alleged leaders led as they ought to have -done, the movement would have been saved. But they failed miserably, disgustingly, sadly, throughout Australia to give that lead which their followers were -entitled to expect. I have mentioned poor dog Tray before as typifying the class of Labourites in the Official party, but poor dog Tray was a rampant lion compared with these alleged latter-day leaders of the Labour party. Leaders! On their head lies the responsibility, and they cannot dodge it. We in Western Australia have as good Labour material as is to be found in any part of the continent. We have men there harder to deal with than those in the older Eastern ‘States. We have advanced thinkers there, but we got them to reason with us and realize the position and to range themselves behind -the Government. The Official Labour movement threw itself on its own sword, and when the historian comes to write the history of our movement he will say, ‘“It came to an early death through want of wisdom and want of courage.” It is true that there is wisdom and courage in its ranks, but where courage has been shown wisdom has been lacking, and vice versâ
We, who have shown some independence in the fight, have been called nice names, and I should like to deal gently with some of the classic names applied to us. According to Senator Turley, we have sold the Labour movement. According to the honorable Leader of the Official Labour party, we are “ rats “ and “ renegades “ ; but when Senator Gardiner was in Western Australia, dealing with men who knew what they were about, he was as mild as mother’s milk. He never uttered a word about “ rata “ or “ renegades,” but when he got here amongst his party of barrackers in the Federal Parliament, he used offensive terms that he was not game to utter in the West. Had he done so there he would have been dealt with quick and lively. Those are nice names to apply to men who have shown the courage we have shown. And how contradictory these men are ! On the one hand they call Mr. Hughes an autocrat, and, almost in the same breath, the subservient tool of the Cook party. He is two different things at the one time. ‘ Bats ‘ ‘ and ‘ ‘ renegades ‘ ‘ are not names that can be applied with truth to a party that, went out as we did to brave the storm, run the risks, and face all the abuse and opposition that could be raised against us. They were all visualized in front of us when we went out into the open way, on leaving the Official Labour party. A “ rat “ does not often brave danger. It is the men who have remained behind that have proved themselves entitled to those epithets. The chief of the head-hunters here on the left has said that we are “rats” and “renegades.” That sounds well, does it not? coming from the leader of the chain gang.
– The chain gang!
– Yes, the chain gang on the left of the Chair; the political chain gang that takes its orders and commands from the Trades Halls, and has not a soul of its own, or the courage to resist any form of imposition however galling. This political chain gang says “ Yes “ all the time to the dominant juntas. “Kate and renegades!” Is it nob inspiring thai that grand old man, Mr. Spence, who for the last forty years has fought the fight of the Labour movement, should be called a rat and a renegade ? Does it not sound enchanting ? Mr. Hughes, the present Leader of the Government, whose matchless brain has been at the service of his fellow toilers in this country all the rounds of the clock for the last twenty-five Tears, is suddenly discovered to be a traitor. Mr. Christian Watson is, with others associated with Mr. Hughes, amongst those who have been described as rats and traitors.
I have said that I desire to put some true wisdom into the party opposite. The difficulty is that they have lost their head. The head is on this side, and the trunk is on the opposite side. I am reminded, by the unfortunate position of the deplorable party on the left of the Chair, which having lost its head is moved now only by muscular action, and nob brains: - of the fact that if you suddenly cut the head off a turkey gobbler he will run about for a time just as well as he did before, so long as there is not a waterhole or fence in front of it. In fact I have seen one run better after he had lost his head than he ever ran before he lost it. The party opposite appear to be running very well to-day, though it represents only the trunk, as the head is on this side. Passing along Bourke-street the other day I saw brains for sale. I believe the offer is still open, and I advise the Official Labour party to call a Caucus meeting at once, tonight, without any loss of time, and corner that supply of brains. They are only bullocks’ brains, but they would be better than the kind which honorable senators opposite now possess. Their only chance of salvation is in the adoption of some measure of the kind, because since they deliberately cut their own head off there has been nothing but division in their councils. There is one thing done in this State, and something quite different is done or approved in another.
The Official Labour party in every State is supposed .to be the same, and to have but one aim and object. But what is happening to-day ? From Queens- # land comes the order from the frowning junta there saying to representatives of that State, ‘ * At the peril of your life do not vote for the referendum upon conscription.” From Victoria there came the same order, “ Do not dare to vote for the referendum, although it is on our platform. Don’t you dare to do it,” and we had poor people here shivering like a do? in a wet sack, knowing that if they did vote for it their political careers would be finished, and they might as well cut their political throats as dare to disobey the irrevocable command. The sword was hung over the heads of the unfortunate Queenslanders, who looked as men never looked before, and shuddered. Representatives of New South Wales were given liberty to vote for the referendum, and so were representatives of South Australia and Western Australia. There was a division amongst the States once the head was removed. To vote for the referendum was an unforgivable offence in some of the States, though it was part of the platform upon which Labour representatives of those States were elected to this. Parliament. What happened at Adelaide the other day ? The organizations directing the members of the Official Labour party solemnly came to the conclusion that for the future military training for home defence was to be wiped off the statute-book. Do honorable senators opposite agree with that ? In Western Australia we have been given the liberty to which we are entitled, which we claimed, and which we would, demand in dealing with the question. We. voted for the referendum, and secured consideration for the main issue of conscription.
Let us consider the division in the Labour party on that main issue, and we shall find that again the reasoning powerwas gone from our honorable friends opposite. On the subject of the referendum they were at sixes and sevens, and in theEastern States on the issue of conscription they were again at sixes and sevens when they ignored the men who could see ahead’ and were not afraid to point the path’ of duty. We were invited to believe that the principle was so sacred that it must be approached with barefeet. Our friends said, “ Don’t advocate conscription. If you do you are a traitor.” In Western Australia this alleged sacred principle was not regarded as a principle at all, or if it was, why were Western Australian representatives given a free hand in dealing with it? In the Eastern States it was a sacred principle,, and conscription must not be mentioned’ because the wretched leaders of Labour in. those States cowardly deserted their -nests and permitted the juntas to dictate to them. That is what happened, because those who should have been leaders crept into the back lanes and by-ways, instead’ of walking, manfully into the councils of Labour and facing them as they should* have done, and as we did in the western State. We have as many different decisions to-day on the referendum and on conscription as there are States in the Commonwealth, and the reason is because the brains are gone, and now confusion? reigns.
I shall say a word about the junta. Our honorable friends do not likethe word ‘’ junta “ at all. What is it? It is nothing more norless than an interloping body that comes between the electors and theelected on questions on which therewas a clear understanding between both. I would not object to the junta if it- kept, its place. But when it came down and gave the orders I have referred to, I say that there was no room and no use, and no possible purpose for any such institution in any true Democracy. A trueDemocracy, if it means anything, means= that each individual shall have the* aright to the expression of his opinion an any and every circumstance, but particularly when the country is in danger. No opinion should then be stifled as the junta succeeded in stifling opinion. What was done in connexion with the issue of conscription which has divided the Labour party? What is our crime? Our crime is that we advocated conscription, and yet I venture to say that there are not a dozen men in the Official Labour party who are convinced in their heart of hearts that conscription is the wrong thing. If I chose to make trouble I could name those in the Official Labour party who have said as clearly as language can convey their ideas that conscription is the right thing, and yet they went out and urged the electors to vote against it.
– Who are they?
– The Speaker in another place for one, and Mr. Page another. Here in the Senate Senator Stewart is another.
– The honorable senator should say this in the presence of these men, and not behind their backs. Let him name one in this chamber.
– When the test came these men were found with their ears to the ground, listening to the juntas, and now they are making desperate attempts to convince themselves that they did right when they took the false step. As one who has had much to do with these people, and can judge from their conversations and declarations from time to time, I repeat that there are dozens of men in the Official Labour party to-day who believe conscription to be right, but who had not the courage to go out and proclaim it to the electors. That was the trouble all the time.
So far as the meeting of the Labour party to which Senator O’Keefe has referred is concerned, I have something to say by way of supplementing what was said by the honorable senator. He stated that the meeting which attempted to expel Mr. Hughes from the chair was called in obedience to a requisition. What was the purpose in the minds of those who signed the requisition we do not know. Senator O’Keefe did not tell the Senate either. He started in the middle of a story, and finished up too soon. I propose to supply the beginning and end of the story. I say that that meeting was specially called in response to a coterie of members of the old Labour party, who did not consult the rank and file as they should have done, and it was for the avowed purpose of expelling Mr. Hughes from the chair. That being the case, the onus and responsibility for carrying on the meeting rested with the signers of the requisition, and they should have had the’ courage to say what they meant.
– That would be all right if the statement were a fact.
– It is a statement of fact.
– It was a full meeting that put Mr. Hughes out ofthe chair, and the honorable senator knows it.
– What about the previous meeting?
– Honorable senators opposite cannot deny the fact that the meeting was convened in response to a special request from certain members of that party. Is that not correct?
– What meeting?
– The meeting at which Mr. Finlayson proposed to expel Mr. Hughes from the chair.
– It was a full meeting.
– I have said how it was called, and upon the shoulders of those who formed that select coterie and conspired against Mr. Hughes, and upon the shoulders of no other persons rested the responsibility of explaining the purpose of the meeting. These are facts from which my honorable friends opposite cannot get away. No sooner had Mr. Hughes called the meeting to order, and asked those responsible for it to explain the purpose of it, than Mr. Finlayson’s motion was tabled. Then only did we get the strength of the meeting. The motion proposed, in set terms, the expulsion of Mr. Hughes from the chair, and without giving any reasons. The Prime Minister of Australia and a leader of the Labour party for twentyfive years, though he had a stainless record hitherto, was to be expelled from the chair without any reasons being given. Is there anything in the history of any political party in any Democracy in the world to equal what was proposed and what happened on that historic day when the Prime Minister and leader of the party was asked to stand forward that sentence of expulsion from the chair might be passed upon him without any reason being given? These are the men who talk about crawling. These are the men who, at a previous Caucus meeting of the party, when Mr. Hughes unfolded his policy and advocated a change in favour of conscription, asked him to go out and “convert the executives. These are the men who are now calling us traitors. Can they deny it? Of course they cannot. These are the men who asked Mr. Hughes to go out to the executives and say to them, “ Save us or we perish.” “Why did they not object to it then? It is enough to raise the ire of any one with an instinct of justice in his composition when he recalls the fact that these very men, who are now calling us crawlers and traitors, on that occasion said to Mr. Hughes, “ Save us, or we are lost. Go out to these executives and save us or we are doomed.” There was not one of them to object to it then, and they know it.
– He went out to save himself.
– These are the men who are now hurling vile epithets at the Prime Minister. A little while ago they acclaimed him as their saviour, only to basely abandon him a little while afterwards.
– We do deny it.
– These are the men who now dare to taunt* us with traitorship ! These are the men who have the damnable affrontery to taunt us - the men who have been so long in the firing line of Labour - with traitorship to the movement. They themselves have been doubly traitors. At an early hour of the morning at the Caucus meeting Mr. Hughes put the motion with regard to the referendum before the members, and it was carried by 24 votes to 21. Now they dare to tell us we left the Caucus. They themselves openly disobeyed the decision of that body.
– Will you tell the Senate what was the motion that was carried by 24 votes to 21 ?
– It was a motion approving of the referendum, and the honorable senator knows it.
– No; it was a ‘ motion to postpone the calling up of the men.
– We have had the tail-end of the story from Senator
O’Keefe, and it is my intention that nothing shall be omitted, so we will now have the beginning, the middle, and the tail-end.
– I gave the full story.
– No; the honorable senator gave only the part of the story that suited him, and he knows it.
– The whole story was told in Sydney, anyhow, when Mr. Hughes went - there to meet the Labour executive.
– That was when you> went there, too.
– Yes, and I “ spragged “ him.
– The honorable senator went up to Sydney and met -the executive before Mr. Hughes arrived. He was there all right, the Sunday before Mr. Hughes got to Sydney, and, as a result of the junta there, sent down sealed orders to the executive in Sydney not to accept Mr. Hughes’ policy. That is the rotten and contemptible state of affairs that has been arrived at in the Labour movement. Will Democracy stand that? No. Freedom will still survive. The proud spirit of Democracy lives in spite of the junta, the tyrant, or the time-server. Democracy will never be dictated to or dominated over by .any person, be he a member of the Labour party, or tyrant, or despot. The junta has in its legal code, “ To perdition with all who dare to differ from us.” It matters not how faithfully or how long a member may have served Labour; it matters not if the country is rocking on its foundation, if he dares to differ from the junta he is condemned, doomed, and damned. I say, however, that we have not yet arrived at the time when that state of things will be tolerated. There is no First Offenders Act in the legal code of the junta. First offence or not, it is a case of “ off with his head.” That is the code pf the junta to-day.
– Then you admit you have committed an offence.
– I have not. I haveproved that at a special Caucus meeting, summoned at the instance of a clique of the Labour party, certain members brought against Mr. Hughes a charge of having advocated conscription. They might as well have charged him with being only 9 stone in weight and built in proportion. This would have been just as justifiable as the other accusation. On this question of conscription we had a free hand in the West, but in the Eastern States Labour members were bound, gagged, and pinioned, and the juntas then expelled men on the ground that they advocated conscription. Whilst Democracy lives and breathes it will never stand that. What did “Bobby” Burns say about the liberty of thought?
– You leave him alone.
– I know it is casting a pearl to mention a man like “ Bobby “ Burns in the presence of the honorable senator. “ Bobby “ Burns asked, “ Why was an independent thought ever planted in my mind V If Burns had been living in the twentieth century he would have come under the ban of the juntas, ‘ and told he had no right to independent thought, and that if he was not careful they would ex-‘ pel him. That is the reason we are here on this side of the chamber, and that is why there is an unbridgeable chasm between members on this side and members opposite. Our views are based on solid foundations, while theirs have their foundations in quicksand.
– Where is your policy ? All this does not help to win the war.
– I am endeavouring to show to Labour members opposite by way of illustration what should be their true position as the custodians of Labour aspirations in this country. Do they realize that while for the last quarter of a century there had been no division in the ranks of Labour from year to year, differences of opinion now exist between brother and brother, between husband and wife? If they only had common sense surely they would have recognised this.
– The Prime Minister has divided Australia as it was never divided before.
– It is idle for me to try to make the least opening in the heavily-encased grey matter of honorable senators opposite, but I point out again that brother is divided against brother in the Labour movement now. The people who voted for conscription would vote again and again for it and glory in the fact.
There would be no impassable gulf between that side and this side. But these men, unable and incapable to realize a situation of that kind, divided the household, and the least they should have done was to be tolerant towards those men who hold a different opinion. Instead of being that they went on their wild, mad career, saying to every one who dare oppose them, “ Persecute; off with his head; how dare he have an opinion?”How dare he, they said, have an opinion which Labourites in the Old Country have expressed, and have been extolled for expressing ?
Senator ‘ Gardiner talked about the freedom in this Democracy of Australia. Let me tell the honorable senator that the freedom which we enjoy here is not a freedom which was won by anybody here, but is a freedom which was won in other lands by men fighting down through the centuries. My people in the Old Country helped to win .the freedom which is enjoyed in this new country. It is idle and misleading, and against historical facts to say that the freedom which we enjoy was obtained or won by any effort on our part. It is the result of what was done in other countries through grim, weary struggles, and we are here to see that it is not violated. We are here to stand up for Australia, to see that a free independence is handed down to our children and our children’s children, full weight, full measure, and full quality, as the result of our efforts to-day. If we do not do something now under the leadership of this Government to make Australia carry out her full share in this war, and anything results which will impair our freedom, the responsibility will rest with us ‘ and with us alone. We are the custodians of the liberty of the generations who will follow us. If Australia fails fo put forward a full effort, and if, as the result of our blindness, our failure to toe the scratch, and put man for man in the field, unborn generations will remember us not with pride as we remember our forefathers, but remember us with shame to our eternal discredit. We are up against no simple problem. We are here to defend this country to the utmost.
Senator Gardiner dared to draw a distinction between the native born and those who have come from other lands. He dared to point to Sir John Forrest and Sir William Irvine. Did you, sir, ever hear from a public man before such a small-minded utterance as he dared to indulge in when he said that the native born are better men than persons born outside the confines of Australia? I will not yield to Senator Gardiner or to anybody else. I have done as much to advance the material interests of Australia as perhaps he has ever done. It does not enhance his reputation, coming from Botany Bay or its neighbourhood, to find fault with those who have come from another land, and have a clean bill of health, so far as genealogy is concerned. Coming from that quarter, he should be the last man in this chamber to dare to impugn the honesty or motives of those who happened to be born outside of Australia. We are here, and have done our bit for this country. Since I landed as a youth in Queensland, if it is calculated on a purely cash basis, this country is in my debt. But side by side with that position I realize that I owe something to this country by virtue of the outstanding monumental fact that, in dear and glorious Australia, I have had the opportunity of rising from the lowest stratum in the social structure to the highest position which the people of Western Australia thought I was fit for. I regard as my own land this country where I found a haven of refuge. We need to see that, in defending the Democracy of Australia, we make men who have shown themselves either too short-sighted or too narrowminded, realize the true position. We need to see that they shall be thrust aside to make way for men who have a keener perception of the fateful circumstances of the hour. This, I say, is a fateful hour in the history of our country. Let there be a drawn battle, and Australia will have to fight, and then there will be no chance of putting up those shibboleths which did duty as arguments during the time which we would all like to forget. That is more than a contingency to me, because I realize that if Australia does not look to herself, and achieve a victory as a result of our contribution to the common effort, she alone of all parts of the Empire will stand to suffer the most by virtue of her isolation. I am here, therefore, to do my best for my adopted land, and I intend to use all the power I can command to see that, regardless of consequences, Australia does her utmost, and gets her shoulder full square under her share of the burden. I still believe that, as a result of the effort which the present Government will make with a huge following behind them in the country, we will proclaim to the world that, after all, “ Australia will still be there “ in this fight.
Debate (on motion by Senator Grant)* adjourned.
Votes of Senator Gardiner - Cabled Remittances to Soldiers - Old-age. Pensions: Inmates of Benevolent Asylums.
Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– In his speech this afternoon, Senator de Largie made a statement reflecting upon my loyalty to the Fisher Government at the end of 1913.. The. statement was so utterly at variancewith the facts, sir,that I lost my temper sufficiently to refer to the honorable senator in terms which you said I would have to withdraw. Since then, in order toverify my side of the question, I have obtained, of course hurriedly, a record of the votes which I gave. It so completelyrefutes all that Senator de Largie said that I will take the liberty of stating thef acts to the Senate. It will be rememberedl that the contention of Senator de Largiewas that Senator Millen recorded morevotes favorable to the Fisher Government than I did, and that I was frequently found voting against that Government. The first record here shows that I voted three times against the Fisher Government, and that Senator Millen voted against them thirty-one times.
– In what year?
– In 1910. I maysay that the Journals have been gone through perhaps hurriedly.
– By whom?
– Not by myself-
– I have gonethrough them, too.
– I gave an instruction for the figures to be got out for me. They have been obtained for me, not with the view to better my position, but to put the facts before the Senate.
– Who collected thefigures ?
– The officer who is acting as my secretary. I do not wishto shelter myself behind an officer. I take the fullest responsibility for quoting thesefigures. In Committee in 1910 I voted three times against the Fisher Government, while Senator Millen voted against them thirty-one times. In the Senate itself I voted twice against the Government, whilst Senator Millen voted_ against them fourteen times. I may say that one of my votes was given against a motion by Senator Henderson for the adjournment of the Senate. The next record shows that in the following session I gave a considerable number of votes against the Government on the War Medals Bill, which Senator Pearce introduced. It waa not a Labour measure, and I opposed its passage by every means in my power. Times without number I moved amendments which enabled me to vote against the Bill. I recorded twenty-two votes in Committee against the Fisher Government, but even Senator Millen recorded in the same period thirty -three votes against them.
– What was the Bill?
– It was a Bill to prevent a soldier from pawning a medal, even if it was one which had come down to him from his great grandfather. In 1913 in the Senate I voted six times against the Fisher Government, while Senator Millen voted twenty-three times. In Committee I voted six times against the Government, while Senator Millen voted seventeen times against them.
– I do not think that you voted often enough against them.
– Since I have been a member of the Senate I have never voted in Committee on party lines, nor shall I do so while I remain here. Just as an amendment strikes me as being right or wrong, so I vote. In the presence of new senators Senator de Largie tried to make out that during the whole period of a Parliament I was disloyal to the party which sent me here. The figures I have quoted were collected hurriedly, and of course Senator de Largie, who has a right to follow me, can put what figures he likes before the Senate. My figures show that the words with which I characterized the statement of Senator de Largie were absolutely correct words to use, although the rules of Parliament did not permit me to use them.
– Order !
– I am. not using any offensive words, sir, but surely I can say that words which were offensive and could not be used were the correct words to employ.
– If I cannot make that statement I can say that many years ago, when I saw the use which was made of a misstatement, I determined that I would never allow a lie uttered against me to pass without refuting it immediately. It is because of that determination that I am now answering what Senator de Largie put before the Senate at an earlier hour. The figures I have quoted speak for themselves. During the time that the last Government were in office I venture to say that they had no more bitter opponent than Senator de Largie. Let him give us a record of how he treated a new Government; - not a new Government in time of peace, but a new Government in time of war. I say that never did I leave this Parliament from 1910 to. 1913, when Senator de Largie was Whip for the Ministry, without first authorizing him to pair me for the Government. Yet, this afternoon, he attempted to put upon me the odium of having acted disloyally to a previous Government. I deny the accuracy of his allegation.
– I did not use the word “ disloyal “ in the charge which I made against Senator Gardiner. My statement was that whilst the honorable senator was in Western Australia he attempted to take particular credit to himself for the measures which were enacted at the instance of the Fisher Government during 1910 and 1911. He has done the same thing in this chamber, and my statement was that, so far from any particular merit attaching to him in connexion with the legislation passed by that Government, if the divisions were counted up, it would be found that he had voted as often against the Government as had Senator Millen. I have not had time to go through all the Journals of the Senate, but I have gone through them for the year 1911, which was a full year. As a result I find that my statement was pretty accurate. In compiling the results I merely looked down the division lists, and wherever Senator Gardiner voted with the late Senator McGregor, who was Leader of the Government at the time, I counted his vote as having Been cast for the Government. The Journals show that during the year 1911 Senator Gardiner voted thirty-six times for the Government and twenty-five times against it. It will thus be seen that he was a .particularly impartial Government supporter. I stated this afternoon that “the honorable senator was never happy unless he was in opposition, and I think that the figures which I have quoted are a sufficient justification for my statement.
– I desire to bring under the notice of the Minister for Defence the most unsatisfactory position which obtains in regard to persons who send money by cable to their relatives at the front. Early in December last I sent a draft to my son there, and although I received a letter from the front about the end of December, no word has yet come to hand that tie money has reached him. I forwarded the draft through the Commonwealth Bank, and at the same time despatched a cablegram to him telling him that the money was waiting for him at that institution. Other people, I find, have had a somewhat similar experience. I have here a definite statement from Captain Wedd, who is in charge of the Camp at Goulburn. He says: -
On the 18th December I received a cable from my son, Harold Wedd, who was at that time a sergeant in the 30th Battalion at the front, asking for £10 to be forwarded, as he had boon recommended by the officer commanding the division to be sent to Trinity College, Cambridge, to go through a staff course. The cable was dated the 21st November. I immediately forwarded the amount to the Commonwealth Bank through the London Bank, Goulburn. I received another cable, dated the 19th January, saying that he had not received the money. This cable was received on the 8th February, at Goulburn. The position of this cadet was that he arrived at Trinity College with 2s. fid. in his possession, and was in very straitened circumstances, having no friends in England, and also having to purchase uniform, books, &c, and no money to do it with. The lad was in great stress of mind at being in such a position. He left Australia as a corporal, and kept ls. Gd. per day out of his pay for necessary expenses, allowing the other amount to accumulate. I made inquiries at the London Bank, and also the Commonwealth Bank, and they state that the amount went on. The Governor of the Bank states that the cadet could not have received the notice from the Commonwealth Bank, London, but, if so, how was it that, on the 19th January, it was not there when inquired after? I have had three cables over this matter from London, the first took twenty-seven days, the second fifteen days, and the third twenty days to reach me. We received a letter from him saying that, as a last resort, he sent to his brother, who is lieutenant in charge of a machine-gun section (a graduate from Duntroon), who was in the firing line at the time with the 9th Brigade. It reached him, and he was able to send him over 200 francs, which reached him a few days before Christmas. As the course closed for eightdays at that period, where he could have put in his time without funds would have been a. problem.
I know that numbers of people who haveforwarded money to their relatives at thefront have had similar experiences. It appears to me that greater diligenceshould be shown by the Department in order that persons despatching moneymay ‘ have some assurance that it will’: reach its intended recipients within a reasonable time. Then I wish to direct attention to the position that is occupied, by certain inmates of our benevolent institutions. In reply to certain questionswhich I put to the Minister in this connexion I was told that the information I sought was not available. I should likeit to be made available. In the Newcastle district there is a benevolent homecontaining a number of male and female inmates, fifteen of whom do not receivethe old-age pension, notwithstanding that they are over sixty and sixty-five years, of age respectively. The reason assigned’ for this is that they were not in receipt, of the Commonwealth pension prior to entering the institution. Some of them were in receipt of an old-age pensionunder the State Government, prior to the. Commonwealth taking over the pension business. But simply because they are inmates of that home they have to be maintained by it at the expense of those who enable it to be carried on. My contention is that every old person in the Commonwealth is entitled to the-, pension. If the benevolent authoritieschose to turn these inmates out of the home they could make them eligible forthe pension. But they cannot find it in their hearts to treat them with suchharshness. I certainly think that the Government ought to give this matterearnest consideration. I do hope thatsomething will be done immediately to remedy the existing state of things. It isa matter which affects every benevolent institution throughout the Commonwealth.
. -. - In reference to moneys sent by friends and relatives in Australia to soldiers in England, I wish to say that that is a matter which does not go through the Defence Department. It goes- in the first place through the Common- wealth Bank, then through the Cable Company, and, later, through the bank in England, and the British Postal Department there. At no stage does it come under the Defence Department. It is really a matter for theCable Company and for the Commonwealth Bank, but as it affects the soldiers I will Bee that the honorablesenator’s representations are brought under the notice of the Governor of the Bank, and of the Cable Company through which the cable was sent. In that connexion I would like the honorable senator to ascertain whether the cable was sent by the Eastern Extension or the Pacific Cable Company. I understand that there is some concession made by these companies by means of which such messages are treated as deferred cables, and that would probably account for the delay which occurred in their receipt by the addressees.
-Will not the Commonwealth Bank be in possession of that information ?
– Probably it will. If the honorable senator will let me have a proof of his remarks I shall bo able to get thematter inquired into.
– I listened attentively to the remarks of Senator Watson in regard to the non-payment of old-age pensions in certain cases. I am not familiar with the particular matters to which he referred, but I shall take an early opportunity of directing the attention of my colleague who has charge of them to the honorable senator’s observations, and in a few days I hope to beable to supply him with the information which heseeks.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 9.56 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 28 February 1917, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1917/19170228_senate_6_81/>.