6th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
.- I move -
That the return to the order of the Senate, presented at the last sitting, be printed.
– After the lapse of time since the return was tabled, can the honorable senator submit this motion without notice?
– There is no doubt that the motion would’ have been perfectly in order if it had been moved at the time the paper was laid on the table, and I am of opinion that it is in order now. Standing order 36 says -
A Printing Committee, to consist of seven senators, shall be appointed at the commencement of each session, to which shall stand referred all petitions and papers presented to the Senate, or laid upon the table, the committee to report from time to tune as to what petitions and papers ought to be printed, and whether wholly or in part : Provided that, when a paper bag been laid on the table, a motion may be made at any time, without notice, that the paper be printed;
The motion is perfectly in order.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– Has the Leader of the Government had an opportunity of getting intotouch with the Prime Minister’s Department to obtain the information whichI have been seeking for some days in respect to the prohibition placed’ on the holding of a meeting in the MelbourneTown Hall for the furtherance of Protection?
– I regret that I am not yet in a position to answer the question of the honorable senator, and in doing so I wish to assure him that it is not from want of any effort on my part. The Prime Minister only returned yesterday from Sydney, and having regard to the multiplicity of his duties it has been simply impossible to put the matter before him up to the present moment. I will make a special effort to do so, and endeavour to have an answer ready for the meeting of the Senate to-morrow.
– In view of the importance attached to the votes of honorable senators at the present juncture, will the Leader of the Government make provision for the honorable senators on this side who are absent through illness to have their names recorded in the pair book? Will he secure for us a pair in each case?
– This question is a most unusual oneto submit on the floor of the Senate; and I suggest to the honorable senator that he might follow the course which is usually adopted in such circumstances.
– Arising out of the answer, sir, may I state that I suggested to Senator Millen during last week that I would bring up this matter? In view of the importance attaching to the votes of. honorable senators, I repeat that it is only an act of fairness that the attitude of every honorable senator should be recorded. I ask the Leader of the Government if they will do so as an act of fairness?
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - How can the Government control individual senators?’
– Order! While it has always been recognised as an individual exchange of courtesies for the convenience of honorable senators on both, sides, pairs are not properly recognisable by the Senate. They cannot and will not be officially recognised under the Standing Orders and rules of procedure. They are a matter of private arrangement between honorable senators on both sides, and the Senate cannot under its rules take cognisance of them-. Therefore, they are not a proper matter for a question or a discussion.
– I would like to ask you,sir, if I am in order, that honorable senators on this side who are ill may be treated with courtesy. If I am not in order, I shall have to take other steps.
– The honorable senator is perfectly in order in asking a question; but, as I pointed out, he is not in order in initiating a discussion.
– In view of the grave rumour that certain honorable senators are “ in the bag,” I ask the Government ifthey will give an opportunity to everyone on this side of recording a vote on the important question which has to come up?
– Where is the “bag”?
-One of the Melbourne papers made that statement a day or two ago.
– I have not heard the rumour. I am not prepared to give art answer founded on a rumour which I have notheard, and I direct your attention, sir, to the somewhat grave imputation contained in the question.
– In view of the fact that the wheat growers of this country have got only half wages for the last twelve months, and the possibility of an extra shilling per bushel being paid soon, will the Minister in charge of the Wheat Board make the payment of that shilling available as soon as possible, to enable the wheat growers to put in as large an area as they can ?
– The statement about half wages is hardly correct, because the farmers have received millions of money more than the wheat realized.
– What about the difference between 2s. 6d. and4s. 9d. ?
– I repeat my statement. The Wheat Board is to meet to-morrow, when the whole question of financing any future arrangements will bo considered, and perhaps in a day or two I may be able to give the honorable senator a final answer.
– Arising out of the answer, I ask the Honorary Minister if payment has been made to farmers for the wheat which they grew last year, and which is still lying at Australian ports? If not, is it not a fact that for last year’s work the farmers have not yet been paid)
– An advance equivalent to 3s. 6d. per bushel has either been paid to the farmer, or has been paid in charges. The balance of the wheat has been sold. It has not all been paid for yet, and there is no desire’ other than to hand the money received for it over to the farmer as rapidly as it comes in.
– By whom are these payments made - by the Federal authorities ?
– The arrangements are made through the medium of the Commonwealth Bank, and in every case the farmer is required to present his certificate before paymentcan be made.
-Seeing that the Wheat Board is to meet to-morrow, I ask the Honorary Minister if he will keep in Blind the representationswhich have been repeatedly made by the representatives of Tasmania, as well as by the Premier and Treasurer of that State, as to the difficult position which it occupies in regard the supply of wheat? Will he also take into consideration what was implied inmy previous question, namely, that as the Commonwealth stands behind and finances the Wheat Pool, will he, therefore, impress upon the Board the desirableness of allowing Tasmania to obtain supplies of wheat at her own porta at prices equivalent to those at which it is being sold at ports on the mainland?
– In regard to the first portion of the honorable senator’s question I may say that the matter to which it relates has been set down on the agenda paper for to-morrow’s meeting of the Wheat Board. As to whether Tasmania will be permitted to participate in the wheat supplies on the lines suggested by the honorable senator, I think that we ought first to have a direct application from the Tasmanian Government.
– I ask the Leaderof the Government in the Senate what is the cause of the extraordinary delay in presenting the complete return of the value of the freeholds of the Commonwealth for which I asked some time ago ?
– I cannot myself supply the information, but I will make inquiries and endeavour to inform the honorable senator, some time next week, of the reason for the delay.
PUBLIC SERVICE CASUAL EMPLOYEES.
– I ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether, out of consideration for the casual employees of the Commonwealth, he will bring before the Cabinet the desirableness of altering the pay-day in the Public Service from a fortnightly to a weekly one?
– Acting on the suggestion of the honorable senator, I shall mention the matter to the Prime Minister.
Report of the Public Accounts Com mittee on the manner of submitting the Estimates, Budget, and Treasurer’s Financial Statement presented by Senator Bakhap.
– Iask the Minister for Defence whether he has any objection to furnishing us with a list of the casualties in the Australian Imperial Force for each month since the commencement of the war?
– I cannot see any objection other than that considerable expense may be incurred in compiling the return. Subject to that qualification, I will endeavour to see that the information is supplied.
– I ask the
Leader of the Government in the Senate whether the Premier of Tasmania was called to Melbourne by the Prime Minister on a matter of public business of the Commonwealth, or on a matter of private business?
– I am unable to answer the question.
– Then, I ask whether thecalling of the Premier of’ Tasmania to New South Wales so hurriedly was with a. view to the summoning of the Tasmanian Parliament?
– My answer to the second question of the honorable senator necessarily follows my answer to his. first question.
The following papers were presented-
Post and Telegraph Act 1901-1916.- regula tions amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1917, Nos. 27, 28, 39.
German Peace Note, communicated 12th December, 1916 (Paper presented to British Parliament).
German Peace Note: Translation of Allies’ Reply, communicated 30th December,
United States Note, communicated 20th December. 1916, respecting peace prospects. (Paper presented to British Parliament.)
– Yesterday I asked a question in reference to a cable from England dealing with our representation at the Imperial War Conference. I then said that the cable in question would appear in the Herald of yesterday. It has so appeared. Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate tell us whether the request referred to therein has been made to the Government or otherwise ?
– With much regret I have to state that my ignorance on. the subject is as profound to-day as it was yesterday.
– I ask the Honorary Minister representing the Minister for Works and Railways whether the Government have decided what action it intends to take in connexion with the report of Judge Eagleson upon the charges made by Mr. Gilchrist in regard to’ the East- West transcontinental line)
– I am aware that the honorable senator has asked this question frequently in the Senate, but in view of changes which have recently taken place here, I ask him to give me till tomorrow to obtain an answer to it.
– Does the honorable senator require notice ?
– I put the question to the Honorary Minister because I understand that he represents the Minister for Works and Railways.
– The matter comes under the Attorney-General’s Department.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate if the Cabinet have had under consideration the appointment of an Administrator to the Northern Territory and’ of a. Chairman to the River Murray Waters Commission, and, if so–
– The honorable senator is too late.
– If so, have certain gentlemen been appointed to the vacancies? Is there any truth in the rumour that Dr. Gilruth has not been reappointed, and that Senator Lynch is to be appointed either as Administrator of the Northern Territory or Chairman of the Murray Waters Commission ?
– It is not usual, I take it, to disclose Cabinet secrets, but it may perhaps allay Senator Findley’s obvious anxiety on the point if I state that the Cabinet has not considered the appointments to which he refers.
– Arising out of the Minister’s reply, and in view of the fact that Dr. Gilruth has, according to published statements, been wandering about the capital cities of Australia, apparently on full pay and travelling expenses, since the month of September last, do the Government not think that it is advisable, in the interests of economy, to forthwith take into consideration the appointments to which I have referred?
– I shall refer to the Cabinet the very earnest representations made by Senator Findley.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether, in view of the fact that the Government have, under the War Precautions Act, taken control of the disposal of live stock and meat, they will take into consideration the immediate necessity of regulating the price of stock and meat in order that the consumers may derive some advantage from the Commonwealth Government’s interference?
– It is considered that resumption of normal market conditions resulting from the removal of restrictions on the distribution of live stock will be of advantage to consumers.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– In order to conform to the rulings which you, sir, have frequently given with respect to replies to questions, and, in order that my reply to Senator Gardiner may not be misunderstood, I ask the leave of the Senate to make a statement.
– I have, in reply to the first question, to say that I have seen the Argus report of the prosecution of Mr. E. H. Coombe, M.H.A., in Adelaide. As that report did not fully set out the facts of the case, I thought it necessary to ask the leave of the Senate to make a statement, especially in view of the reply I made yesterday to Senator Gardiner on the same subject, to the effect that the words to which he referred in his question were not the only words used by Mr. Coombe upon which the charge against him was based. I have before me the file, and I find that there were two charges made against Mr. Coombe, one in which he was reported to have said, in addressing, atTanunda, in South Australia, a meeting largely composed of Germans -
That he appealed to the people of Australia to have nothing more to do with the war.
– He was acquitted on that charge, was he not?
– And, further, he was reported to have pointed out -
The injustice of having certain votes earmarked, and that that was done to intimidate the people.
Two separate charges were lodged against Mr. Coombe. On that upon which he was charged with having appealed to the people of Australia to have nothing more to do with the war, he was acquitted. On the other charge, the Crown Solicitor advised as follows: -
In my opinion the statement as to the injustice of ear-marking votes, and that it was done to intimidate the people, was an attempt to cause disaffection among the civilian population at Tanunda, which is largely German, and would justify proceedings for contravention of regulation 43 of the War Precautions Regulations.
On that charge Mr. Coombe was convicted, and, in view of the opinion of the Crown Solicitor, which I have just read, we do not propose to ask for a remission of the sentence.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Is there any regulation existing by which Australian soldiers in France, when they are granted leave to go to England, may draw a certain sum in advance if there is no money owing to them?
– The answer is-
There is no regulation dealing with this matter, but the following instructions have recently been issued by General Birdwood: -
Applications for leave from men without funds will be carefully considered by commanding officers, with whom the responsibility for granting the leave rests.
Leave must not be granted to men who, through their own misconduct, have not got the necessary funds.
Each man granted leave under this order must be provided with a note from his commanding officer, stating circumstances under which leave is granted.
On production of the note from his com manding officer to the staff paymaster at A.I.F. Administrative Head-Quarters., 130 Horseferry-road, London, an amount not exceeding £10 will be advanced to the man as an overdraft.
Prior to receiving the advance, however, it will be necessary for the man to sign an agreement that the amount of the advance will be a first charge against his deferred pay if, owing to any cause, he is unable to liquidate the debt.
Advances so made will be clearly entered as such in the soldier’s pay book.
State of Rolls
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made, and replies will be furnished as soon as possible.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
Will he recommend to the Government the advisableness of referring all works at the Henderson Naval Base, Cockburn Sound, Fremantle, to the Standing Committee on Public Works?
– Yes, as far as possible.
asked the Minis ter representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Is it the intention of this Government to give Parliament an opportunity to discuss the questions which are tobe submitted to the Imperial War Conference, prior to the Australian delegation leaving for London, so that Parliament can instruct the delegation as to their attitude?
– This may be done, so far as these are known, on the resolution now on the notice-paper.
Motion (by Senator Gardiner) agreed to-
That leave be given to introduce a Bill to repeal the Daylight Saving Act of 1916.
Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed -
That consideration of notice of motion, Government business No. 1, be postponed until after consideration of Order of the DayNo. 1.
Question put. The Senate divided.
– The vote being: equal, the question is resolved in the negative.
Government business, notice of motion No. 1, called on as follows: -
The Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Millen) to move - That, whereas by reason of the existence of a state of war, and by reason of the immediate meeting of an Imperial Conference for the discussion of questions of paramount importance to the Commonwealth and to the British
Empire, it is imperatively necessary that the forthcoming elections for both Houses of the Parliament of the Commonwealth should be postponed : And whereas, in the existing circumstances this can only be effected by an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom : Now, therefore, this House resolves : That the Imperial Government be requested to provide by legislation for the extension of the duration of the present House of Representatives until the expiration of six months after the final declaration of peace, or until the 8th day of October, 1918, whichever is the shorter period, and for such provision in relation to the terms of senators and the holding of Senate elections as will enable the next elections for the Senate to be held at the same time as the next general election for the House of Representatives, and consequential adjustments to be made regarding subsequent elections.
– As the business is not being proceeded with it must drop off the notice-paper.
Statement of Policy
Debate resumed from 28th February (vide page 10698), on motion by Senator Millen -
That the paper be printed.
– I listened very carefully to the policy speech made by Senator Millen, and although I did not expect very much from the Government he represents, I must confess that the announcement was even worse than I was prepared for. There was nothing in it to meet with my approval. It contained no indication whatever that the Government contemplated proceeding with any useful legislation. The question has been raised as to what the Labour party have done in connexion with the war. Members on the other side have attempted to arrogate to themselves the right to be called the “” Win the war “ party, but they have no right whatever to that title.
– Yours is the “ Lose the war “ party.
– On a previous occasion Senator de Largie interrupted so persistently that we on thisside were scarcely able to hear what was being said. This afternoon he has commenced to interrupt at a very early stage, sir, and I trust that during the debate you will see. that he keeps himself somewhat in order.
– All interjections are disorderly. Senator Grant has a right to be heard in silence, and as he has. requested me particularly to see that he is heard in silence, I shall insist upon honorable senators preserving the rules of the Senate by refraining from interjecting.
– While it is quite true that at the last general election the Labour party made a strong point of the fact that they were prepared to give every possible assistance to the Empire in the great struggle, there was nothing whatever in that programme to indicate to the country, or to any person, that we were in favour of conscription for military service abroad. Consequently, whatever pledges were made in our manifesto, there was no promise that we would adopt the policy of conscription. Apart altogether from that, I wish to remind the Senate that during the regime of the late Government we sent to the front, under the voluntary system, over 300,000 men - that is a fact that cannot be gainsaid - but since the present Government came into office the number of recruits who have come forward has diminished day after day. Under the late Government the average number of recruits per month exceeded 5,000 for a period of twelve or thirteen months, but since they went out of office the number has dwindled very considerably. It is quite true that, on account of the vigorous effort being put into this work by the Recruiting Committees,the number is slightly increasing, but no thanks are due to the present Government for that increase. This side has taken a fairly active part in the recruiting campaign, while the other side has remained in Melbourne endeavouring to arrange a coalition between the remnant of the Labour party and the old Liberal party. So far our opponents have succeeded, but since their advent to the Treasury bench the number of recruits has steadily receded. That is an indication of what the manhood of this country thinks of the present Administration. Had the other Government remained in office I have no doubt that the number of recruits would have maintained an average of at least 5,000 or 6,000 a month. It is to be regretted that that is so, and we can only hope that as time goes on the number will increase and again come up to 5,000 or 6,000 a month. If they do that they will offer a very fair support to the Empire in the struggle which is going on. I did not consider at the time, nor do I consider now, that Australia is in a position to supply 16,500 men per month.
– We might have some honorable senators here to listen to this interesting speech. [Quorum formed.]
– There is one action of the present Government to which I think very strong exception should be taken, and that is their administration of the War Precautions Act. I did not anticipate that they would apply its provisions in the drastic manner in which it has been proved they have done. I refer more particularly to their administration of the powers in regard to the censorship. It has been pointed out to me - and I have no reason to doubt those who are concerned - that the censorship has operated with very great hardship to a large number of newspapers, and, perhaps, more especially Labour newspapers, throughout the States. I have here a copy of a letter which has been sent to some of the newspapers in New South Wales in regard to this matter. It reads as follows : -
To the Editor of– , Sydney.
In exercise of the authority conferred upon me under Regulation 28a of the War Precautions Regulations 1915, I hereby require you to submit to me before publication in – any matter (whether in manuscript or print) intended for publication in the said newspaper which relates or refers to the present war or to any subject connected therewith or arising therefrom, or to any of the subjects mentioned in Regulation 19 or the publication of which would be an offence under Regulation 28 of the War Precautions Regulations 1915. I give this notice in respect of all the issues of– during the period of six calendar months from the twenty-third day of January,
That same newspaper, which I need not mention by name, has again been refused permission to publish the address which was issued by the Prime Minister to the Australian soldiers abroad, and in which he asked them to vote “Yes” in order that the votes taken firstmight act as an example to the electors of Australia. This is only a sample of the unfair treatment to which a large number of Labour newspapers has been subjected; it is only a sample of the harsh way in which the Government are administering the Act.
They appear to me to have no justification for the refusal to permit newspapers to publish the address sent forward by the Prime Minister to the soldiers at the front. But despite that fact, it is interesting to know what the real result of the military referendum on the 28th October was. From the latest issue of the Gazette I find that the “Noes” totalled 1,160,033 and the “Ayes” 1,087,557, givinga majority of 72,476 for the “ Noes.” It appears to me that the advent of the present Government to the Treasury bench is in direct violation of that decision. On this point they do not represent the people of this country, and they are only in officer owing to the defection of a number of persons who were returned at the recent elections to support the Labour party. A good deal has been said with regard to the position of honorable senators on this side. It has been asserted thatwe are obliged to take instructions from outside bodies. In my opinion the outside bodies have just as much right to express an opinion on matters not before the electors as have the men inside Parliament. I look upon the various executives throughout the States as being fully entitled to express opinions on a question like conscription. I think that their opinions ought to receive very great weight indeed from those who are inside Parliament.
– We all know very well that the question of conscription was not before the electors in 1914. It is a question which has arisen since the general election. The people outside have as much right to be heard on the question as have the few men elected to Parliament, and their opinion upon it is entitled to as much respect as is their’s. When we see the whole of the organizations emphatically on one side it is reasonable to assume that they represent the views of those who are responsible for the maintenance of the Labour party, and therefore their opinions ought to carry very great weight.
– Evidently they did.
– They did as they ought to. When some thousands of men express opinions in a certain direction their views ought to carry some weight. I am quite tired of the plea that mew come here to represent their own ideas, and consequently the ideas of those who elected them. That notion was exploded many years ago, and I hope that it will not be revived. The executives in *he various States, and the Inter-State executive have a right to be heard, and their opinions are entitled to great .weight. I have no doubt that they do express the opinions of a majority of the people of the Commonwealth. Indeed, the result of the military referendum, as shown by a “No” majority of 72,000, is a very fair indication that the official organizations of the Labour party did correctly gauge public opinion. I hold that their opinion is and ought to be entitled to very great respect. They secured a majority of something like 116,000 in New South Wales. It is quite true that the majority was somewhat reduced in the other States, but the fact remains that throughout the Commonwealth there was a majority of 72,000 votes recorded against conscription. Therefore, honorable senators upon this side of the Chamber unquestionably represent the views of a majority of the electors on this question. Had it not been for the persistent misrepresentations to which we were subjected during the campaign, I have no doubt that our majority would have been close upon 200,000.
– Does the honorable senator mean that he and his party were badly treated?
– We were badly treated both by the press and the Government of the day.
– And you acted like lambs.
– We conducted our campaign in an exemplary manner. The honorable senator witnessed no such disgraceful spectacle as occurred at Moree, in New South Wales, where men were fined about £2 each for making merely formal interjections at public meetings.
– I know something of those formal interjections.
– One man was fined fi for announcing that I was to speak there on the following Wednesday. In Sydney, too, wie saw some exhibitions of the intolerance which, no doubt, would have been quite prevalent had conscription been carried. We know that organized bands of men in uniform endeavoured to break up peaceful meetings in the Domain.
– The people would riot hear Mr, Cook in Tasmania, and yet they voted “ Yes.?’ Who, therefore, disturbed his meetings if the anticonscriptionists did not ? ,
– I was rather pleased at the disturbances which occurred in Sydney, because they gave the people an idea of what they might expect under conscription. I have been a student of what the Government have been doing in connexion with our returned soldiers. We have been assured that they are going to pay great attention to our returned soldiers. But, so far, practically nothing has been done by them, and no matter how long they may remain in office their record in that respect will be of the most barren character. There is published almost daily in the Sydney press long lists of men who have been to the front, who have done their duty to the Empire, and who, upon their return, are unable to obtain employment of any kind. This condition of affairs is tolerated by the Government, and that is one of the reasons why it is so difficult to induce men to volunteer. I hold that our returned soldiers ought to be treated as well as it is possible for us to treat them. But, evidently, the Government are quite indifferent as to whether they secure suitable employment or not. I hope that the Ministry will take whatever steps may be necessary to ensure that Australian soldiers upon their return from the front shall be properly looked after. I have no faith that the Government will do anything which will meet with my approval in regard to the prosecution of public works or the construction of the war vessels which may be required by the Commonwealth in the near future. In my judgment, the time has arrived when we should lay down a policy under which we should undertake the construction of all the submarines, destroyers, and cruisers which may be necessary for the efficient defence of Australia. So far, however, Ministers appear to be doing very little in that direction. The same remark is applicable to the prosecution of public works generally, and more particularly to the prosecution of public works at Canberra. The Federal Territory offers the Government an unlimited scope for carrying out schemes relating to the proper housing of the workmen and for the proper laying out of the city, of which full advantage could be taken. But at
Canberra the policy of ‘the Government seems merely to be the discharge of more and more men. But -while they find it necessary to dismiss workmen, they create new and highly-paid positions in connexion with the proposed arsenal, notwithstanding that nothing has yet been done with the arsenal itself. I doubt very much whether the paper presented by Senator Millen is worth printing. . Then the proposal to send three representatives to the Imperial War Conference^ - especially three representatives from a party which is discredited throughout Australia - is one which will not meet with the approval of this Chamber. The Prime Minister, when he placed his conscriptionist proposals before the electors, was defeated by a majority of 72,000. We all know that Sir William Irvine is an ardent conscriptionist, and cannot therefore reflect the opinions of Australia at that Conference. It is quite true that Sir John Forrest may represent the views of Western Australia, but he certainly does not represent the views of the electors of the Commonwealth. These gentlemen have no mandate whatever from the people to represent them at the forthcoming Imperial War Conference, and any decision at which they may ar-. rive will not be binding upon the people of the Commonwealth.
– I shall not delay the Senate very long, but I wish to refer to one or two sentences that are contained in the Ministerial statement. Before doing so, however, I want to say a few words as to the circumstances in which the Liberal party became more formally associated with the party led by Mr. Hughes than it had been since the disruption occurred in the ranks of the Labour (party. Personally I would have supported the late Hughes Administration in all matters regarding the prosecution of the war. Of course I am prepared to support the present Administration in respect of its war policy, which I hope will be an effective and vigorous one. But I would like honorable senators clearly to understand that the Liberal party was solicited by the Prime Minister to enter into a more formal alliance with the party led by him, in order that Australia might be represented at the Imperial War Conference, by delegates who would have a more substantial parliamentary following than any. who could be sent from the ranks of those? directly following the late Hughes Administration. I venture to say that that was the real reason which animated theLiberal party in entering into a formal* alliance with’ the party led by Mr. Hughes. The Empire’s needs werestressed, and when a party like theLiberal party, which had completely stink, issues of domestic politics m -order to support a Labour Administration in theprosecution of the war, was asked to enter into an alliance wilh Mr.. Hughes, who had incurred the displeasure of theOfficial Labour party .merely because hehad acted on principles which we believed’ to be essential to the welfare of the Empire, it would have been at least very unseemly to have flouted the invitation. There is no doubt that had Mr. Hughes* decided to go straight to the Imperial’ War Conference immediately on receiptof the invitation from the British Government, he would have received justas loyal support from the Liberal party- during his absence as he is likely to receive under the present altered conditions.. So far as my parliamentary position goes,. I indorse to the full the alliance which? has been entered into. I would have supported the late Administration, and I ams prepared to support the present Administration, in respect of all measures which? are necessary to the successful prosecution of the war. But I think that a serious responsibility devolves upon the PrimeMinister - the responsibility of at once proceeding to the seat of Empire now that he has succeeded in effecting- the formal alliance with the Liberal party which he sought to bring about.. Although we do not at any time desireto see Mr. Hughes politically punished for having espoused ideals similar to our own, and do not wish ‘to see the Official Labourparty get the right honorable gentleman’s scalp, so to speak, it was really a sense of duty to the Empire which urged Liberal members to consent to the formal alliance with Mr. Hughes’ following being consummated.
– It was only a marriage of convenience?
– No, it was an honorable understanding to permit of Australia being properly represented at the Imperial War Conference. But the consummation of that understanding involves the present Prime Minister in a very considerable responsibility to bring about, without any undue delay, Australia’s representation at the seat of Empire. I should be- but a very poor sort of man if I swallowed my own convictions,, and claimed to be perfectly satisfied with the present Prime Minister’s -conduct since he received the- Imperial invitation. He- was Prime- Minister when- he received that invitation, and did something which I do not care to condone-, and can only for the present just excuse. He prevented knowledge of the fact- that an invitation had been forwarded to Australia getting into the columns of the press. I do not know what good purpose was served by that. He has received the invitation, and now, notwithstanding the fact that the alliance with the Liberal party has been formally consummated, he is, if I may use- the expression, still hanging about here. I say that it is imperative, that he- should! proceed to the seat of Empire without delay, because we see in the columns of the press that the preliminary meetings of the Imperial- War Conference ar& to be held about ten days hence-. Whilst I have the greatest respect for Mr. Hughes, and believe that he is patriotic, and, whilst I recognise that, although somewhat late- in the day I am sorry to. say, he gave in his adherence to something which at a very early stage I advocated in the interests of the successful prosecution of the war, my respect for the right honorable gentleman will not carry me so far as to justify an unnecessary delay in his acceptance of the Imperial invitation. Had’ he acted properly when he received the invitation, and had he. recognised to the full that he was
Prime Minister of Australia-
– He would be in London.
– He would be in London at the present time. That is where he should be. I do not fora. moment impute to him- any desire to escape the undoubted dangers of the voyage, but I do say that, considering his status as a statesman, he has somewhat unworthily juggled with this very important,. Imperial, and national position.
– I think that this speech is worthy of a quorum. [Quorum formed.’]
– If Mr. Hughes understands his business, and the responsibility that rests upon his shoulders, he will1 proceed to the seat of Empire at the earliest possible moment, and remain, as. a big man should, heedless, of parliamentary developments here. I venture to. assert that Senator Keating is quite correct when he says that the Prime Minister should be in London at the present time. The right honorable gentleman has brought about a situation which has delayed the- Imperial War Conference, which will certainly delay the arrival of Australia’s representatives at it, and, whether he likes it or not, he has caused’ to be- attached to himself either brakes- or make weights as the people of Australia agree to regard them. I have stressed this point, because I am sure that a. very large- number of Liberal members were actuated in giving their consent to a formal alliance with the Hughes parliamentary partly chiefly by a belief in the urgency of Australia’s representation at the Imperial War Conference, and because of the high respect they paid’ to- the Imperial invitation. If Mr. Hughes, having effected his alliance with the Liberal party,, still further delays his departure from Australia, and beyond a time within which circumstances will permit of his leaving the shores- of our continent, I venture to say that I shall lose a great deal of the respect which I hold for him at the present time because of his many patriotic endeavours. There- is, I think, too much stress laid upon what is ordinarily known as the parliamentary position. I cannot claim to be a great student of Australia’s Constitution; but I had, in a humble way, some little to do with the Federal movement which resulted in the adoption- of the Commonwealth Bill which- is now our Constitution, and by virtue of which honorable senators’ are present in this chamber today. I say that at no time did the framers of the Constitution contemplate anything like an absolute equilibrium between the two Chambers of this bi-cameral Legislature. It is not for any Administration, at any time, to expect that the Chamber of review will be in absolute accord with its ideas in regard to administration and legislation. Had the different Labour Ministries that have held the reins of government in the various State Legislatures of Australia refused to administer or legislate merely because the Chambers of review in the State were generally hostile to them, they would never have been able to carry out fairly successfully those acts of legislation and administration which have particularly appealed to the people who favour their political views. They had in each case to accept the situation as they found it. For seven long years one political party has been in a majority in this Chamber. During that time, only once has a Liberal Administration been in power. It, nevertheless, managed to carry on a good deal of very successful government; and, as Senator Gardiner has admitted, managed to do a very great deal in regard to Australia’s share in this great struggle, although it was in office only for a very short period after the declaration of the war. It had a majority of only one vote in the popular Chamber; and, notwithstanding the fact that it won ten or eleven seats in that Chamber at the general election, it lost strength in the Senate. In spite of the fact that it was represented by only seven direct followers in this Chamber, that Administration managed to do a very great deal of valuable work in connexion with Australia’s participation in the war.
– I should like to say that I have no wish to go through a similar time again.
– It was a very unpleasant time, I admit; but the framers of Australia’s Constitution never at any time contemplated that a Ministry would always have in the Senate merely an echo of its following in what is regarded as the popular Chamber. It was never held that there would be complete legislative equilibrium characterizing the relations of the two Chambers. Mr. Hughes, having secured an alliance with the Liberal party, seems to be inclined to hang on here and further delay the advent of Australia’s representation at the Imperial War Conference because of the parliamentary situation in the Commonwealth. Suppose that we have an election, and it results as did that of 1913. It may result in the new Administration having a substantial majority in the popular Chamber, and yet we may find that its position in the Senate may be impaired rather than improved. What is Mr. Hughes going to do then? Is he going tn resign, or to remain in Australia, and complain of the unfavorable position in the Senate? I say that a big man, with statesman-like ideas, would go at once to the seat of Empire, and lay upon the shoulders of the Australian people, and their Legislature, the responsibility of seeing that his prestige and status would not be materially impaired during his absence at the Imperial War Conference as Australia’s representative. It is the right honorable gentleman’s duty to recognise this position, and, so far as I can make my protest heard, I, for one, shall nob be silent if the matter of Australia’s representation at the Imperial War Con.ference is further delayed and fooled with. Having, I hope, made that clear from my own point of view, I want to deal with one or two items of what I may call policy in the Ministerial statement. We all know that the vital or originating factor in creating the dispute or breach in the ranks of the Labour party was the referendum on the question of compulsory military service, and the question itself. The new Administration has made a deliverance in connexion with this important matter. As one who before the war had actually commenced advocated conscrip-tion, and as one who very shortly after the war had broken out advocated in this chamber the adoption by Australia of the principle of compulsory service, so far as its assistance to the Imperial effort waa concerned, I wish to say that I still adhere to my previously expressed views in regard to that matter. I do not, for a moment, say that the question should again be submitted to the people instanter. I recognise that a recruiting campaign is in progress, and so far as my parliamentary duties will permit, I have endeavoured to assist in that campaign. I say, in justice to the DirectorGeneral of Recruiting, and those who have pleaded from time to time that sufficient recruits can be obtained by the voluntary system, that I have refrained from doing anything in the further advocacy of conscription until the present final effort in favour _ of voluntarism, and along its lines, is regarded as completely favorable, only moderately so, or absolutely insufficient. But when the present effort has had a full and fair trial, if I find the result is markedly insufficient in regard to Australia’s duty to the Empire, and the furnishing of the necessary troops to keep the ranks of our invincible phalanxes filled, I shall at once, despite anything which may be regarded as the policy of the present Administration, tell the people of Australia what I think it will then be my duty to tell them, namely, that the voluntary system, having been tried and found insufficient, if they are inclined to prove to their descendants and to the present nations of the world their British origin, and the true nature of their adherence to British institutions, conscription for oversea service should be adopted by them through their Legislature forthwith. That is my position. I wish to say a word in defence of the Administration. I wish to say that it has been treated very unfairly. I heard Senator Ferricks in his place in the Senate yesterday, by an interjection during the course of a .speech by Senator Lynch, say that the Administration had funked conscription, and yet the honorable senator claimed that it is the direct intention of the Government to foist conscription upon the people. What sort of an argument is this? On’ one platform Senator Ferricks will charge the present Federal Administration with funking the issue of conscription, while on another platform in the coming State campaign in New South Wales Senator Grant will not be above telling the people that conscription is the real issue, and that a Labour victory is a condition precedent to preventing the present Government from re-introducing conscription. You cannot have it both ways. Either members of the Ministry are sincere or Senator Ferricks and Senator Grant are insufferably illogical. I say they are certainly illogical. I take it that the declaration of the Ministerial policy is very much on the lines I have laid down. I believe that the Government will pause for a reasonable time in order that the present recruiting effort on a voluntary basis may have a full and fair trial. It is the official effort, for an eminent public man has been appointed Director-General of Recruiting, and it is only fair, therefore, that the system should have a proper trial. But if the War Administration find the effort insufficient for Australia’s needs they would be unworthy to be called the King’s Government, or the Australian Government, if they did not do what was necessary and obvious in the circumstances. That, I believe, is the position, and I do not think that Ministers will cavil at my interpretation of the terms of their statement. It is but fair that the system should have a proper trial, because it is only about four months since this question was submitted to the people, and decided by them in the negative. The manifesto says that the needs of the situation will have to determine the Ministerial attitude. This is a sensible and logical policy for the new Government to adopt. That being clear, I would like now to refer to what I consider are two incongruous statements in the Ministerial declaration of policy. We are told that the Government intend - and I think the declaration is a somewhat injudicious one - to uphold the White Australia policy. Although honorable senators may not think so, I believe in a White Australia. It has been the policy of this country for a very considerable number of years, and not long after the inception of the Commonwealth Parliament it was placed upon thi statute-book. I freely admit that ir some respects the operation of the alien immigration restriction legislation i> unsatisfactory and vexatious. By thai I do not mean to impugn the genera) desirability of a White Australia policy, but I certainly think that sometimes it is carried to an unnecessary and vexatious length, and administered in a manner calculated to irritate those great coloured populations which are to the immediate north of Australia, and with whom, whether we like it or not, as time goes on, we must have increasingly important relations. I hope that there will be profitable and peaceful relations, for they may easily be so, but I say that it is not a good line of national action for a population of 5,000,000 people inhabiting one of the world’s continents to be vexatious and arrogant in the carrying out of one of their declared items of policy. Let that go. The White Australia policy stands. I think, however, that the Ministry made an unnecessary declaration in regard to this matter, especially in view of the fact that the policy speech also refers with bated breath, and in vague and shadowy terms to the Tariff. Without hesitation, I declare that it would be injudicious at the present time to open up the Tariff, and with meticulous care to enter upon a protracted discussion of every individual item. I know that would be unwise, and 3 know, moreover, that this particular Parliament is not likely to have sufficient time at its disposal to do that. And therefore the only practical course open to us now is to formally enact the Tariff which, has been in operation for. some considerable time. I do say, however, that as. Great Britain, notwithstanding her world-wide alliances, and notwithstanding the urgent need of trade in connexion with the commerce of many of her allies,, has directly prohibited! the importation into the ports- of the United Kingdom of many items that can be regarded as articles of luxury, or if not articles of luxury, as articles of no immediate prime necessity, Australia might reasonably do likewise. We may, if: we think fit, quite reasonably prohibit the importation from other countries of those articles which, the Australian people- at present do not directly and immediately require. I regard this country as absolutely independent in its power to legislate in connexion with fiscal matters. Fortunately it does not lie at the proud foot of any conqueror, and it is only because of the exigencies of the circumstances that I will consent to the consideration of Tariff matters being deferred. Had we the time, and were this a new Parliament with two or three years of life before it, then I would say “ Let us take Tariff matters in hand by all means.” We are masters in our own House. If ever Australia definitely decides not to legislate in regard to Customs matters because of the fear of giving offence to some foreign nation, that day will mark the impairment of Australia’s independence, conferred upon it by the generosity of the Imperial Legislature. There is a matter which has cropped up frequently at the instigation of Senator Findley, and I might say it had occupied my attention before that honorable senator and Senator Stewart mentioned it. A certain amount of mystery still surrounds a recent incident. I refer to the statement that a Protectionist meeting at the Melbourne Town Hall was prohibited. I venture to say that if such a meeting was prohibited it was the most injudicious act of the present Administration.
– If it was prohibited why did not the Prime Minister have the manliness to admit it ?
– One supposition at a time will be sufficient for me. If it was prohibited it was injudicious. Nothing will be gained. An intimation on the part of the Prime Minister to those who were about to conduct the meeting that it would be unwise to refer by name to any foreign nations with’ which we have oversea trade relations would surely have been sufficient. As long as Australia remains an independent Dominion- within the Imperial circle I cannot conceive that Australian citizens have not the right in public meeting to’ discuss anything in connexion with the fiscal policy of this country.
– The Government encourage it because they say they stand for a white Australia.
– I have made- a promise not to unduly delay the Senate.. I have made it clear that, on the matter of Australia’s representation at the Imperial Conference I think the Prime Minister should proceed to the Old Country without delay,, and as. soon as the conditions of shipping leaving: Australian ports will permit him.. I have made my position clear also in connexion with conscription. I would suspend action only until: it was determined whether the final effort on the voluntary basis was successful or not. And in regard to the Tariff I consent only to- the discussion being deferred because parliamentary time will not permit of an exhaustive examination of the whole subject. I do not believe it is necessary to refer with bated breath’ to the Tariff, for fear that the susceptibilities of . some foreign nations may be ruffled. My attitude towards the Administration must not be regarded as hostile because of the critical tone of some of my remarks. I have given my full indorsement to the attempt to bring about’ the necessary unity between the two parties. No> man can ever1 charge me with being a bad Imperialist or a bad Australian; and certainly no man will dare to charge me with having taken any action likely to impede the Labour Administration during their occupancy of the Treasury bench since the beginning of the war in regard to war measures. It is not likely, therefore, that I am going to take np a hostile attitude towards the present Government. I have done what I have done in the full belief that it is necessary to bring about as much unity as possible in the present grave crisis in the Empire’s fortunes. I wish success to the present Administration as I wished it to the last, and I hope that victory will be achieved during, their period of office.
– The debate has - hinged principally around questions of the formation of the new Government and the endeavour made by the Leader of the Opposition to make it appear that the Ministerial policy was of such a character that the present Parliament and the people of Australia could have no .trust in it. I venture to say, however, that the Leader of the Opposition advanced arguments for which, in his calmer moments, he would not feel inclined to claim much credit, because they evidenced a narrow outlook with’ no clear conception of the difficulties surrounding the Government at the present time. It is all very well to say that under certain conditions,- certain’ things might be done, but when he endeavoured to exact from the Ministry a statement that under all circumstances they would not depart from a certain course they had laid down, it seemed to me that the Leader of the Opposition was stating a hypothetical case for which he wanted a definite answer. As circumstances change so will our convictions change, because, after all, we are largely creatures of circumstances. Knowing the circumstances of to-day I could, perhaps, say what line of action I would follow ; but I could not possibly say what action I, or a Government, would take in some other set of circumstances. I noticed- that Senator Gardiner was very strong in hia eulogy’ of the work of the Labour party. He seemed to claim the. splendid record of the Labour party as the inheritance of honorable senators on his side, and to imply that honorable senators who now sit on this side are naughty boys who have done nothing. Prom his address, sir, one would assume that all the virtue was on your left while the vice was represented on your right; that, contrary to the- old adage, the sheep had got to the left hand, and that only goats were on the right hand. The honorable senator was oblivious to a fact when he described certain honorable senators as having broken -their pledges. That is a statement which he cannot substantiate. It’ ie a statement which ought to be withdrawn unless it oan be substantiated. Ib ought not to be left to remain in Barnard as a reflection upon men who have, been as faithful to the pledges they gave as the honorable senator has been: Such - a statement, -I repeat, ahould.be withdrawn; a gentleman would withdraw it.
I quite admit that tie splendid record of the Labour party is one of which all its members may be proud. As a member of. the Labour party for many years, I am very proud of the work which it hae put up. Senator Gardiner eulogized the formation of the Australian Navy,- and said that it was the presence of the battleship Australia in these waters which saved Australian ports from bombardment. I believe that that statement is quite true. Had not the Australia been so near to our shores, and yet in close’ proximity to the German war-ships, undoubtedly we would have been visited with- some evidence of the war.
– Do you think that that was a lucky circumstance, or an unlucky one?
– As events have transpired, a visit from the German warships might possibly have been a useful lesson, to us. Our honorable friends on the other side have referred very strongly to the conscription referendum. The word. “ conscription “ does not convey the real issue which waa put before the country. It was simply a question of military service abroad. Those who are so proud of what the Australian Navy has done in saving the Commonwealth will remember that, under our Defence Act, the soldier and the- sailor are on exactly the same lines. No distinction is drawn between the two classes. If, on the -one hand, Senator Gardiner applauds -the Australian sailor for. what he has done, and then, on the other hand, he draws a sharp distinction between the sailor beyond our jurisdiction and the soldier within our jurisdiction, he is not justified.
– And the sailor had no option but to go.
– Exactly. ‘The sailor had no option as to whether he should remain within our jurisdiction. But Senator Gardiner would give to the soldier an option to remain here. If the duty to serve the Commonwealth is binding on one fighter, I hold that it is also binding on the other. ‘ I wish to deal with some other statements which Senator Gardiner made. Those of us who have maintained our allegiance to Mr. Hughes as Prime Minister were described by the honorable senator as men who had deliberately broken their election pledges. He said that not one amongst those members of the party who left the Caucus room hail kept the pledges which they had signed. He evenwent further, and used thesewords, “ When they are prepared to keep the pledges they made.” I wish that Senator Gardiner was present to hear me remind him of the pledge which I did sign, of the pledge which I have kept, and of the pledge which I am now keeping. I challenge the honorable senator to point to one violation of that pledge by me. He referred to this pledge again and again in his speech, and would lead the people of Australia to believe that honorable senators on this side are weak men. From the official record of the Federal Labour Conference, I will read the pledge which I signed -
I hereby pledge myself not to oppose the candidate selected by the recognised political Labour organization, and, if elected, to do my utmost to carry out the principles embodied in the Australian Labour party’s platform -
There is a comma here - and on all questions affecting the platform to vote -
I judge that it means to vote in the Senate or the other House, as the case may be - as a majority of the parliamentary party may decide at a duly-constituted Caucus meeting.
I have kept every particle of that pledge. I submit that Senator Gardiner, as a gentleman, has no right to say that I have violated the pledge unless he is prepared to come forward with the proof.
– To your knowledge, did he himself ever break the pledge?
– I think that there have been instances in which Senator Gardiner, if he did not break the pledge, has at least fractured it. If he has not broken the pledge he has so shattered it that it is in danger of being broken. The pledge binds me to a platform, and number 4 of the planks which wo are pledged to maintain reads -
Citizens’ Defence Force, with compulsory military training and Australian-owned and controlled Navy.
As members of the Federation we are bound to maintain that platform. Knowing what was contained in the Defence Act, and feeling that he could not go against that plank of the party’s platform, the Prime Minister sought to obtain from the people of Australia, by means of a referendum, the same power to send soldiers overseas as he had to control soldiers within Australia. We are charged with violating a principle. I have never heard that principles are confined by geographical limits. I have not heard that a thing can be a principle in Australia and something else in Great Britain. If a thing is valid in Australia, it is also valid elsewhere. If there is a power given to do a certain thing in Australia, and that is to call up men for military service in the interests of Australia, and if it can be shown that military service on the plains of Flanders will be in the interests of Australia, the principle is not violated by sending our soldiers to Flanders. The point I wish to make is that those who would have given that power to the Prime Minister are more in conformity with the pledge they have given than are those who departed from that pledge. If there has been any breaking of pledges, my honorable friends on the other side had better look well to themselves, forthey will not find any breakers of pledges on this side. Those gentlemen who were agitating the country for a “ No “ vote for the referendum immediately charged us with doing things which we ought not to do. As far back as the 5th July, 1916, the official committee in Adelaide sent to me - and I believe to other representatives of South Australia - a letter containing a copy of a resolution carried by the United Trades and Labour Council on the previous Friday
That the secretary be instructed to issue a circular letter to all State and Federal members of the United Labour party in South Australia and Commonwealth Parliaments respectfully pointing out to them the resolution of the council to oppose any member on the next plebiscite who dares to support the pernicious policy of conscription -
Three months before the date of the referendum I was warned distinctly that if I dared to exercise my opinion on a given subject which I was not pledged to oppose I would be opposed at the next plebiscite, and therefore I was not a free man, or if I did claim my freedom I was to be under a ban.
– It is only the blackfellows who are free.
– My honorable friend is almost the only representative of his party present, but does he hold that that is a just thing?
– When you talk about absolute freedom you talk about something which does not exist. In society there is no such thing as freedom.
– My honorable friend will admit that up to the time this issue became a burning question, he was, outside his pledges on the hustings, as free as any man in Australia.
– We are as free now as we were then.
– No. Who are the free men? Certainly not those who are to be found on the opposite side of the chamber.
– According to the honorable senator’s opinion.
– It is not a question of my opinion. I hold in my hand absolute proof. This document is from the United Trades and Labour Council of South Australia, and emanates from the Trades Council office, a body which has no power whatever to interfere on political questions. In the constitution of the Labour party, it is the Labour party, and not the Trades Hall Council, which interferes on political questions.
– Any organization has a right to approach its representative on a political matter.
– Does the honorable senator call the text of that circular, ‘ ‘ approaching “ ? The circular points to the resolution of the Trades Council “ to oppose any member at the next plebiscite who dares to support the pernicious policy of conscription.” Surely a letter couched in such terms cannot be regarded as “ approaching “ Labour representatives in Parliament. It is the same kind of “ approaching ‘ ‘ as characterizes the burglar who is armed with a pistol. Senator Gardiner has charged us with having violated a pledge, but the foundation upon which he bases that charge is as shifty and unsubstantial as a quicksand. . It is based upon the principal resolution of the conference, which was submitted by one of the Port Adelaide committees. It was sent down from the office of the Australian Workers Union to the committee at Port Adelaide, and constituted a recommendation to the conference which appeared on the agenda paper. It was considered by the conference. That resolution reads -
Inter-State executive to oppose, at all costs, the policy of conscription; (c) that copies of the foregoing resolutions be sent to the central body of the Labour organizations of each State, the Acting Prime Minister (Senator Pearce), and the Minister for Customs (Mr. Tudor).
I do not know why Senator Gardiner was omitted.
– They knew that I was all right.
– My friend’s interjection implies that they did not know that Mr. Tudor was all right. What happened? This motion was defeated. Yet it is the motion upon which Senator Gardiner bases his charge of disloyalty. It was a defeated motion.
– The only charge I made was that honorable senators who left the Labour party had violated their pledge to vote as the majority of a duly constituted Caucus meeting might decide.
– The pledge reads-
I hereby pledge myself not to oppose the candidate selected by the recognised political Labour organization -
It will be difficult presently to discover which is the recognised political organization. The unions are breaking away so fast that there will soon be no Official Labour party, but merely a National Labour party. The pledge continues - and, if elected, to do my utmost to carry out the principles embodied in the Australian Labour party’s platform, and on all questions affecting the platform to vote as a majority of the parliamentary party may decide at a duly constituted Caucus meeting.
My pledge binds me upon matters affecting the platform, and matters affecting the platform only. Upon all other matters I claim my freedom. But the motion to which I have previously referred was not carried at the conference. Instead, the following resolution was adopted: -
That this conference favours the principle of the referenda, but is opposed to the conscription of human life.
Immediately that resolution was carried the President was asked, “ What does it mean. How do members stand?” His reply was that the carrying of the resolution left all members free to follow their own convictions. Later, the electors of Australia were asked to express their opinion upon the question of conscription - nothing more, and nothing less. When we honoured the principle of the referendum our friends opposite charged us with violating our pledges.
– The honorable senator deserted his party.
– Nothing of the sort. I recollect a case which occurred at Port Adelaide some time ago. There was a strike at the Sugar Refinery Works at Glanville. When the dispute came to an end thepersons controlling the Glanville works signified their willingness to take back every man who had gone on strike except their chairman. But the whole of the men immediately said, “ We are not going to forsake our mate. If he is not to be taken back we are not.” Yet when we stood by our leader, those who differed from us charged us with forsaking our party.For our loyalty to our leader they accused us of being disloyal toour party, although we were honouring the very principle that permeates unionism through and through. On such a frail foundation as that, an attempt has been made to build up against us a case of disloyalty to the great Labour movement. When men turn round and accuse us of having violated the principles of the Labour movement they must either be unacquainted with us, or unacquainted with the principles of that movement.
– You thought you would perpetrate an outrage against the movement.
– The movement is greater than an organization, although it lives and moves through its organizations. But just as my honorable friend believes that the soul of man will live apart from the body, so will the Labour movement live–
– Notwithstanding those who have deserted it.
– We are not deserters but the true adherents.
– You have stuck to your leader, and left the body. The leader deserted it, and you deserted with him.
– The honorable senator’s party violated the principles of the Labour movement by expelling him. Let us go back a little way. A certain union expelled Mr.. Hughes. Did it try him?
– He violated its will.
– Then it is British law to execute a man without a trial!
– If he acts diametrically in opposition to the will of his. organization it is justified in pronouncing judgment upon him.
– Then the will of the organization is to be the law. So the will of the burglar is the law under which he may work, and the will of the murderer must exculpate him for the murder which he commits. According to my honorable friend’s logic, if he has a will he may do what he chooses.
– Would the honorable senator say that the annual conference was a burglar? It decided against conscription.
– The annual conference declared that the resolution carried’ by it left every man free.
– Mr. Hughes was not free to vote for conscription after the conference decided against it. As a Labour representative he had no standing.
– The incident to which my honorable friend refers occurred long after Mr. Hughes’ expulsion.. After that expulsion I received the following letter: -
At a monthly council meeting held last evening the following resolution was carried, which I was instructed to forward to you: - “ That this council repudiate Mr. Hughes as leader of the Labour party of Australia, seeing that he has been expelled by the executive of his party in New South Wales, and that the Federal members be instructed to carry out this resolution.”
Subsequently, it was learned that Mr. Hughes had not had a trial, and had been expelled unconstitutionally.
– No one was given a trial.
– That is so. None of us had a trial. Yet honorable senators opposite say that because we stand up for that which is just and true, and for a trial according to British justice, we are the rebels, traitors, rats., and renegades. The letter I have just quoted is dated 10th November, and shortly after I received it I received another to say that it be an instruction from the same council, decided upon at the very next meeting, that we support Mr. Hughes as Leader of the Labour party.
– Read that letter, too.
– I have not that letter with me. At the conference in Adelaide Mr. Hughes was present when the motion to which I have referred was carried, and he heard the chairman’s ruling, which left every man free. He was thanked for his address, and confidence was expressed in him. Then we are asked to leave Mr. Hughes after our own conference has expressed confidence in him as the leader of the party. Nothing had intervened to account for this change of attitude. There was only the change of mind in our honorable friends opposite, and, according to them, a change of mind involves a change of principle.
SenatorWatson. - The change took place when Mr: Hughes left the Caucus room.
– All that I am referring to transpired long before the Caucus incident.
– Undoubtedly, but that was the climax.
– Then it comes down to that? When I see my leader repudiated without a trial, and when I am myself expelled from the party without a trial, and without the opportunity to say one word, what am I to do ? Not a single parliamentary Labour man who was at the Adelaide Conference to which I have referred was allowed to reply before he was condemned. When I find such a violation of every principle upon which the Labour movement had been conducted, can honorable senators wonder that I dissociate myself, not from the principles of the Labour movement, but from those who at a time like the present have acted as traitors to those principles, have unjustly taken possession of the Labour craft, have bound the captain in chains–
– Who is he ?
- Mr. Hughes. They have bound Mr. Hughes and other leaders of the party in chains, and have taken possession of the ship. Now they claim that because they are on board the vessel they are the owners of it. As a matter of fact,they are no better than mutineers on the good ship of the Labour movement. My honorable friends opposite say that we have been false to the Labour movement. I have proved that we have not broken our pledges so far as this Parliament is concerned. I claim that I have not violated a single principle of the Labour party’s platform. I challenge Senator Watson to refer to a single instance in which by my voice or vote I have broken a single principle of the
Labour party’s platform or have been f alse to any of its tenets.
– The honorable senator should be over here if he has been loyal and true.
– No; it is Senator Watson who should be on this side. I was elected upon a manifesto issued by Mr. Fisher, as Leader of the Labour party. I have carried out everything to which I was pledged by that manifesto. Mr. Fisher said -
In regard to the attitude of Labour towards the war, it is easily stated. War is one of the greatest realities of life, and it must be faced. Have we not faced it ?
Our interests and our very existence are bound up with those of the Empire.
That is what we need to realize. Some of our friends seem to think that our existence is something separate from that: of the Empire..
– Who is there here who does not realize the position ?
– Those who are continually carping at what the Government are doing in connexion with the prosecution of the war. Mr.Fisher further said: -
In time of war half measures are worse than none.
On the Government side we believe, not in half measures, but in whole measures.
– There are none at all in the policy speech.
– The policy speech says distinctly that there is to be a vigorous prosecution of war measures.
– The Government go neither forward nor back.
– Senator Needham is aware that amongst those who are engaged in the recruiting movement members supporting the Government are as numerous and as. earnest as. are members on the other side, yet he says that the Government are doing nothing.
– I refer to the policy speech.
– It distinctly states that there is to be a vigorous prosecution of war measures. There is nothing in it to indicate that, in the prosecution of the war, the Government will stand still. Mr. Fisher, in his manifesto, further said -
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, and in any and every contingency we shall carry out the course necessary for the defence of the Empire;
– We did that.
– Do my honorable friends consider that they were assisting the Empire in a grave contingency last October, when so many men were urged to restrict Australia’s contingent of reinforcements?
– The people of Australia gave us the verdict.
– We respect that verdict, and, because we do, Senator Needham says that we are not going forward.
– I did not say anything of the sort.
– The charge made by honorable senators opposite against the present Government, is that they do not go on with domestic legislation because war measures are in the way. At the present time we need t-o realize that the war is a very real thing.
– What about the taxation proposals for the prosecution of the war.
– I want to know from my honorable friend whether we have not followed in every contingency Mr. Fisher’s manifesto? I have never violated that manifesto or my platform pledge, and how, then, is it possible for the Leader of the Official Labour party to charge me again’ and again with having broken my pledge, and how can he say that the door of the Labour party is open to us if we are prepared to keep our pledges ?
– It is the present position that I am referring to.
– I am speaking of the pledges we have made. My friends opposite cannot point to a single breach of those pledges, and yet we have been expelled from the party. It is a matter of history to-day that another conference was held in Adelaide, and another president has taken the place of the old one. It has been the custom in the past for presidents to be elected for a full twelve months, but last September the president of the South Australian Labour party was elected, and in consequence of what has since transpired he had to vacate his seat, and another president took his place. This leads me up to something else that has taken place. At the conference recently held in Adelaide between the 12th and 16th of last month, a motion was carried’ and delegates were appointed to go to Perth to attend a triennial conference there. The motion carried was that it should be an instruction to the delegates from the Adelaide conference to the Perth conference that they seek to eliminate from our platform a plank which has been carried into law, and which we are pledged to maintain. There is an interesting position here for honorable senators to note. A plebiscite has been taken for persons to contest the election for the Senate. What platform have they signed ? They have signed a platform pledging themselves to maintain a citizen force with compulsory military training, and an australian owned and controlled navy. 1st two of the gentlemen who have pledged themselves, if elected, to maintain that platform are going to the Perth conference with instructions to have that plank of the platform eliminated. Now who are the traitors in the Labour party ?’ If these men carry out their pledge to the electors they must maintain that platform, and if they carry out their instructions from the conference they must violate their pledge. Is not that the lowest depth to which men can sink? These men are placed in sucha position that they are caught either way. If they go to the Perth conference and carry out their instructions, and that plank of . the Labour platform is eliminated, what will the electors say to them when they come before them ? They will say, “ Have you not signed the pledge to maintain the plank of compulsory military service in the Labour platform?” They must admit that they have done so, and they will then be asked, “ Why did you vote against it at the Perth conference? Has not the Perth conference eliminated it? “ When they admit that it has, they will then be asked, what they are going to do..
– The Perth conference has not yet been held.
– My honorable friend takes refuge in that. As far as the South. Australian Official Labour Party is concerned, with one exception’ every delegate who goes to the Perth Conference is an ardent anti-conscriptionist. If the others are equally strong in their views on this question, what chance will there be of maintaining the platform of the party ?
– You are quoting a hypothetical case.
– Well, it is a very probable case at all events, and will the honorable senator say that the gentlemen chosen from Victoria are not ardent anticonscriptionists ?
– I do not know.
– Are not those from New South Wales also ardent anticonscriptionists?
– I do not know.
– Can the honorable senator speak about the delegates from Queensland? Are they not all ardent anti-conscriptionists, also ?
– I do not know.
– The honorable senator knows quite well that the Labour party is in the grip of the anticonscriptionists, and, consequently, it is not only presumable and possible, but highly probable that that which they are pledged to uphold will be eliminated from the platform.
– Will you take my word that I do not know who are going to the conference?
– Yes; but I ; ask the honorable senator, as an unbiased judge, to face the probability that a man who signed the pledge to maintain the platform is bound to violate his instructions. Yet members on this side of the Senate are charged with being pledge violators. Who are the traitors to their party? Who are the traitors to their instructions? I say that they are the traitors who have to take their orders contrary to the written pledge ofthe party, and contrary to the platform which they signed.
– That refers to you.
– No. It does not.
– Well, it refers to the New South Wales senators at all events. They were bound by the decision of conference.
– So far as South Australia is concerned I have shown that there is not a tittle of evidence that we violated our pledges. Two presidents of the conference, the president who retired last September and the gentleman who succeeded him, Mr. Gilmour, distinctly stated that not a single man who had been expelled by the Labour party had violated any pledge or promise. In view of that, I put up this argument to my honorable friends opposite : If the Labour party can conscientiously, and consistently with their law, expel a member of Parliament on such grounds, can they not also expel every union that is conscriptionist, and every unionist who holds such views? To be logical they must expel from unions and associations every man who is a conscriptionist.
– The unions are solid on the question.
– No; they are not solid by any means.
– You will find that out later on.
– It appears that what is stark madness in a member of Parliament is to be excused in a member of a union. The latter is to be overlooked, apparently, but there mustbe some motive behind it.
– Is that your appreciation of unionism?
– That is my view of it to-day, judged by the acts of that conference.
– I suppose you will be a non-unionist now?
– No. I am a strong unionist, and a member of the very union which gave instructions concerning the platform. It has been repeatedly stated that because of certain events a change has come over the Labour party. I say that trouble has been caused by that spiritwhich has been introduced into the party. Never before in the history of the Labour movement, so far as I know it in South Australia - and my association with it goes back twenty-five years, to a time when our then respected leader, the late Senator McGregor, came down to the South-East soliciting votes for his election to the Legislative Council in South Australia - has any man been asked to pledge himself to anything except what was on the party platform, or to any. pledges which he may have given on the hustings to his electors. It has always been recognised that a man was free to exercise his judgment on all other questions. But he cannot do that to-day. He must receive his instructions from an outside organization. His platform pledges are valueless, because he must obey the behest of outside bodies composed of men who should be simply electors, and nothing else. He may stand before the electors to-day, and say, “ I believe so-and-so to-day, but to-morrow I may believe something entirelydiff erent. “ Under the conditions brought about by these instructions a Labour member of Parliament is a Mr. “ Facing-both-ways. “ Honorable members opposite claim to themselves all the virtues and none of the vices, and charge us with all the vices and none of the virtues. We are judged without law, without Court, and without jury. They condemn us to utter oblivion, and have said that we have violated our pledges. This attitude makes one believe that they have scarcely breathed the spirit of the great Labour movement, which has been the wonder of the world, and which has made its mark in the world’s history ; that movement which has lifted men from the lowest ranks of society tothe halls of the Legislatures, and enabled them to leave their mark on the history of their country. When Senator Gardiner spoke of the Australian Navy and of the Military Defence Forces, he forgot that among those men, whom he regards as having violated their pledges, were many who had assisted him and others to give effect to legislation making the Navy and the Defence Forces possible. Without wishing to detain the Senate any longer, I desire to put it on record that we on this side of the Senate have not violated our pledges, and have not departed from the principles we have held dear for so long. Those who have charged us with violation of pledges have not a tittle of evidence tosupport such an accusation.
– I did not desire to take part in this debate, as I wished to confine my remarks to the notice of motion in connexion with the prolongation of the life of Parliament, but the utterances of Senator de Largie, Senator Lynch, and Senator Senior have impelled me to challenge and. refute the slanders that have been hurled at honorable senators on this side during the course of the debate. The accusation about deserting the Labour movement emanated largely from themselves, and it is quite evident that they stand self-condemned, otherwise we should not have had such an exhibition as we have witnessed during this debate. I cannot help commiserating with them on the position they occupy. Associated as they have been with the Labour movement for so. many years, it must indeed be galling to find themselves in company with men with whom they have nothing in common, and whose political ideals are quite in opposition to those which they have cherished during their political lives. We can quite understand the feeling that animates them at this hour; when they realize that they have practically cut themselves adrift from those principles worthy of the admiration of every man who has sprung from the loins of Labour. But be that as it may. the position in which they find themselves is entirely that of their own creation. It is perfectly true that so far as the State I represent is concerned, our conference passed resolutions definitely laying it down that any man who, voted for conscription, or advocated conscription of human life for service abroad, upon the platform, should not be entitled to be a representative of the Labour movement. That conference was quite within its rights in giving such an instruction, and it was within the right of every member of the Labour party in New South Wales to at once hand in his resignation or else obey the behest of the conference, which practically represented the Labour movement in New South Wales.
– “ Obey “ is anexcellent word.
– We are here to obey, and the man who, has not learned to obey is not capable of enjoining others to do so. Obedience is better than sacrifice..
– Not always, brother.
– I have taken that maxim from a book which the honorable senator is not likely to challenge or contradict. I say that any man who holds a representative position for any responsible body of people, and acts diametrically in opposition to their will, he has a right to forfeit their confidence, and is entitled to receive any mandate which they may issue as a result of his action.
– Then you are simply a megaphone.
– I am here to represent certain interests. I claim to be a representative of the Labour movement. If that is to be a megaphone I am not prepared to question the inter jector. I quite understand my position. I received the confidence of a certain association called the Labour party, just as certain honorble senators owe their seats to the fact that they were the nominees of the Liberal party. They are as much in duty bound to obey the behests and the mandates of the Liberal party as we are bound by the platform of the Labour party. We are not here as independents. We did not pose as independents before the electors. We posed as the representatives of two great parties. Any candidate who has ever attempted to come here on the independent ticket has miserably failed. It is simply begging the question for any honorable senator to talk of his independency. The very statement is a contradiction of the position he occupies. We. are all here to represent certain interests. However much I may admire a man in opposition to mebecause of his personal qualities and charms, I have to recognise with him, as he has to recognise with me, that we stand here to represent two interests which are diametrically opposed to each other,, and that those interests become the subject of debate and controversy in Parliament from time to time. We, as honorable men, are pledged to obey the behests of the body of whom we are the direct representatives. Our obligations to the people are of a general character. In legislating we undoubtedly have charge of the whole interests of the people of Australia, and it is simply a question as to whether a man representing the Labour party directly can represent the interests of the whole community better than can a man who comes here as a representative of the Liberal party. The latter has its tenets just as our party has. If anything conflicts with the tenets of the Labour party a member has a duty to perform as a pledged man. He has to stand loyally by the pledges he gave to his party. We are told that on the question of conscription there was no pledge, as the question was not on the platform. To any man who belongs to the Labour movement I say that when he enters a Caucus room and takes part in a debate on a great issue be is morally bound to obey whatever decision may be arrived at.
SenatorSenior. - Ah !
– If not his position is equally clear there.
– What have you to say about those eight members who attended a party meeting and came here and voted against the Referendum Bill?
– There was no moral binding there.
– As regards that referendum there was no decision arrived at.
– Yes, there was.
– I challenge any man who attended that Caucus to produce any motion on the subject which was carried.
– Bring your minute book along.
– I have perused the minute book. When I came down to this chamber I was clearlyof the opinion that we were morally bound -at any rate to vote for that referendum as laid down; because what Mr Hughes wanted was that we should adhere to the principle of our platform in voting for the referendum, and then every man could take his choice as to whether he should advocate “ Yea “ or “ Nay.” As a man who believed in the Labour platform, I could? not cavil at the proposed referendum, although if I had been asked as to the wisdom of submitting such a principle to a referendum I would have said that it was a most inexpedient thing to do, as events have proved. In my opinion it was not’ a question which the electors should have been asked to decide. It was most unfair to ask a decrepit, infirm, and aged person to vote soas to compel a man to do an act which he himself could not perform. As there was nothing laid down by any Act of Parliament, it was a most unjust position to take up. Had it been a question of conscription for service on our own shores, that would have been entirely another matter; but as it. was a question of conscription for service abroad, it was a matter which we should not have asked the people of this country to decide for us. We should have been manly enough to say to the people, “It is obligatory upon you to render military service abroad.” I could have admired Mr. Hughes if he had taken up an attitude of that kind.
– You voted for an unjust thing, then?
– I beg pardon.
– You denounce that measure as unjust, and you voted for it.
– I voted for the Referendum Bill because I believed that there was a consensus of opinion in the Caucus that we should vote for a referendum. I do not deny the fact.
– In view of your admission, do you not think that you ought to stop reading moral lectures?
– I not only react moral lectures, but I am able to give- them. I could not raise any legitimate objection to the proposed referendum, inasmuch as I am a believer in the referendum. But, as a matter of principle-
– But you advanced an objection a few minutes ago.
– Will the honorable senator be kind enough to listen to what I have to say?
– It is the finest thing he can do.
– I know how dull is the cranium of a Scotchman, and so I sympathize with my ‘honorable friend. The referendum is one of the tenets of the Labour platform. I subscribe to the principle loyally, because I believe that all great issues should be determined by the people of the country. There are questions of domestic policy on which we ought to receive a lead from the voice of the people. As a Democrat, I cannot do other than give my assent to the referendum; but, as a matter of policy, knowing the friction which was likely to be created by taking a referendum during a crisis, I think that it was a most inadvisable course for the Prime Minister to suggest. On his return from the Old Country, it would have been far better for the right honorable gentleman to have taken his courage in both hands and told the people what he believed to be necessary, and said that if they were not willing to follow him in the matter, he could no longer be their leader, and that they must necessarily get somebody else to lead. We could have admired an attitude of that kind.
– How was he to know whether they would follow him or not?
– As soon as Mr. Hughes met his Cabinet he knew that the majority of his colleagues were not likely to follow him ; that only three Ministers were prepared to follow his lead.
– That is not correct.
– If my_ statement is not correct, I have been misinformed by members of the Cabinet.
– You have been misinformed.
– As I was not in their counsels, I must accept Senator Pearce’s statement, but’ I have the assurance of other members of the Cabinet that there were only three followers of
Mr. Hughes. If there be any doubt as to the attitude of the Cabinet on the matter, there can be no doubt as to the attitude of the Caucus. When Mr. Hughes laid bare his plans, we noted a discreet silence on the part of Ministers. Several Ministers were twitted with their continued silence, though afterwards we learned what was the reason for their conduct. Mr. Hughes had every opportunity given to him to convince the members of the Caucus that it was their bounden duty to move with him. May I say that if he had had his way the manhood of this country would have been called up by proclamation as soon as the Parliament met. Not even one month would have been allowed to elapse. I make bold to say that had two months elapsed as against one month - I am not quite clear as to the time-
– The time at first was two months, and then it was reduced to one month. With that amendment the proposals were adopted by a majority.
– I make bold to say that if the term of two months had been allowed to run after the proclamation was issued, we would have more than doubled the majority that we obtained. It was a most unwarranted attack upon the liberty and the freedom of the people. The taking of the referendum has revealed the fact that the Commonwealth i-3 determinedly opposed to the conscription of our manhood for service abroad. Fortunately, our honorable friends on the opposite side were defeated in their intention. One can imagine what a reign of terror would have ensued had the conscription of manhood for service abroad been affirmed on the 28th October. Having been defeated on that date our honorable friends formed an unholy alliance to fight against those who really represent the will of the people of this country. We on this side represent the voice of the people as expressed at the ballot-box, and well do our honorable friends know that. We see an attempt on their part to use every possible means, scrupulous or otherwise, to evade a general election. They have accused us of being traitors. We are denounced as men who have practically done them an irreparable injury. What injury have we done to them ? We have simply advocated that no Government should be permitted to force the men of this country to do that on which they have a fight to be consulted, and to exercise personal judgment. Because these men have not done what they should, they now accuse us of having done them some irrevocable wrong. It is most unfortunate that we should be obliged to submit to the castigations which have been heaped upon us by members of the Ministerial party. But I can assure them that there is a good time coming, and that just as we have had to suffer here they will have to suffer when they are obliged to confront the electors. I do not wonder that they want to sit here secure, knowing as they do, the fury of the electors.
– The honorable senator is only a political accident.
– And Senator de Largie is more like a pigmy because he was an unknown quantity in Newcastle all the time that I have been associated with it. He had to go to Western Australia to become known at all. If he went to Newcastle to-day he would cut a very sorry figure. I am here as the result of the vote of the electors. I was lor four years president of the Miners Association in Newcastle, and it can be said to my credit that when I was elected to this Parliament it was only the second occasion on which I had sought the suffrages of the people.
– If that is the only thing the honorable senator can say for himself, there is very little left for anybody else to say.
– Probably I shall give the Vice-President of the Executive Council food for a little thought later on. I merely wish to exonerate myself from the charge that I am an accident in politics. I am no accident. When I was twelve years of age I entered the mills of Glasgow for the purpose of helping my parents, who were in distress. T worked on what was known as the half-time system - that is to say I went to work one day and to school the next day. When I was fourteen years of age I came to this country. At that time my father was Buffering from miner’s phthisis, and as a result I was denied the opportunity of securing a better education, and of thus fitting myself to play the part which Nature intended that a man with my natural gifts should play*.
– Predestination !
Senator- WATSON. - Having worked in the mines of the Newcastle district since 1884, and having lived an honorable life, the miners there sought me out, and of their own volition elected me as -their leader. I did not have to ask them for a single vote, and during my four years presidency of their association I was able to do more for them than Senator de Largie has done during the whole course of his life. All I have known him -to do here is to talk, and it ill becomes a man to talk about others whose boots he is not fit to black.
– I am a better man in every shape and form.
– I have ever sought to remain humble, knowing that humility is a garment which becometh us all, but when an arrogant man like the honorable senator begins to talk, it is about time to retaliate. Senator de Largie cannot accuse me of being an accident. I have suffered many an accident battling as a* miner in the bowels of the earth. I have lived an honorable career, and I am here as the representative of working men, to fight their battles and to voice their aspirations. These men object to any form of military compulsion, and I bow to their ruling in this matter. , But, notwithstanding that, I am opposed to any system which is calculated to create a military caste in this country. I want to ask: “What have we done in connexion with this war?” Have we been indifferent to the claims of the Empire? Why, the majority of the Australians who are serving at the front to-day are working: men. One out of every five has enlisted in the Newcastle district. In that district there is a higher percentage of recruits enlisting than is to be found in any other part of the Commonwealth. We have never ceased to appeal to alt that is good and noble in men, in our efforts to induce them to play their part in the defence of this country. It is the anti-conscriptionists who are the true patriots of Australia. We have been told that one of the reasons why the late Government desired three months’ Supply prior to the Christmas adjournment was that they were anxious to undertake a vigorous recruiting campaign. I want to ask, What have the Ministry done in that direction? Have they endeavoured to create a spirit of cohesion amongst the members of this Parliament? I say that they have been listless - waiting the doom of our voluntary system in order that they may again appeal to the people to decide iri favour of conscription. If they do so,. I venture to say that they will utterly fail. The people of Australia are more determined than ever not to he shackled by any form of conscription.
– We have conscription now in our Defence Act.
– I have never questioned the obligation of every citizen to fight for his country upon his own soil.
– There are a large number of supporters of the honorable senator’s party who are questioning it very closely now.
– The Labour movement to-day is as determinedly opposed to the policy of conscription as it was on the 28th. October last. If my honorable friends think that the electors have changed their views, why do they mot send both Houses to the country? What right have any Government to> remain in power when they are not pre.ared to pass legislative enactments onehalf of the people? I challenge the Ministry to pass any legislation which will serve to advance the interests of Australia. They cannot do so because there is no unity amongst them. I need scarcely remind my honorable friends opposite of how the people have regarded fusions in the past. What was their opinion of “Mr. .Deakin and Mr. Cook when the memorable fusion took place? How were they regarded? Did we not trace their (histories right back to their inception, with a view to showing the political happenings of their lives, and did we not expose their trickery and treachery ? I am very sorry that so many esteemed men who were formerly members of the Australian Labour party have gone the same way. But inevitably they will be judged !by the people. Any Labour man who rings true would rather leave political life than associate himself with those with whom he has nothing in common. That being so, those who have recently deserted the Labour party will have to face the judgment of the electors. We have been told that circumstances have demanded the change, and that the war has rendered it necessary to abolish party government. We have been assured that it is necessary to preserve unity. Personally I do not know of anything which would make for the more vigorous prosecution of the war and’ which would be cavilled at by the Official Labour party. I yield to no man in my loyalty to the Empire. Members of the party to- which I belong have put aside their political duties, and have gone put appealing to the manhood of this country to continue the vigorous prosecution of the war. We have laid before the people the dangers that beset us, and we have attempted to add to the number of gallant men who have enlisted for service abroad. Having done this, we are obliged to come here and listen to the scurrilous abuse of men who are unworthy of the confidence which has been reposed in them. They had neither fame nor name until they were brought from the mines and the bench by their mates and placed here in a legislative capacity. But when it suited their own fancy these men turned round and slaughtered those who put them here, in addition to insulting their representatives. There is only one remedy for this state of things - an early appeal to the people.. Of course, the position of the Government is a most unfortunate one. Mr. Hughes is in office, but Mr, Cook is in power. The Ministerial majority is absolute, and the Liberals have the reins of government in their hands. It would have been more manly on the part of. Mr. Hughes, and those associated with him in the late Government if, after the defeat of the conscription proposals, they had handed over the reins of government to Mr. Cook.
– According to the honorable senator Mr. Cook has the reins.
– I say that Mr. Cook is in power. Mr. Hughes is in office. He is Prime Minister with five of his own party in his Cabinet and six of the Liberal party. The inevitable has happened, and to all intents and purposes Mr. Cook is now in power. As soon as the difference arose between Mr. Hughes and the Labour party, his duty’ was clear. If he desired to save the party and maintain its identity, and if he desired to continue his connexion with the movement of which he undoubtedly has been a great champion, he had only to hand in his resignation as leader. Another leader would’ have been found; Mr. Hughes would have been relieved of the responsibility of the office of Prime Minister, and might have continued in the party simply by saying that he could not lead a party opposed to conscription. His opinions would have been respected. But he threw down the gauntlet to every man in the Labour movement. He challenged members of the party to be with him or against him. When he left the Caucus meeting in that dramatic manner, and said, “Who is with me let him follow me,” one was reminded of Moses coming down the mount and saying, “ Who is on the Lord’s side let him follow me,” though of course Mr. Hughes is not to be compared with the great champion of Biblical history.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Although the honorable senator says he is on the Lord’s side.
– I do not say fiat Mr.. Hughes was on the Lord’s side when he acted in that dramatic way in imitation of the great leader of the old story.
– Those on the Lord’s side did follow him
– The people will have an opportunity of determining that, and I make bold to say, judging by the vote the people recorded at the Military Service Referendum, and the spirit of Democracy they displayed, that those who have followed Mr. Hughes will find that they have gone to their doom.
– It is dangerous to prophesy.
– It is undoubtedly, but I take the risk. I say definitely now that I would sooner go down with the Labour movement, suffer in its adversity, and endure all that may come as the result of the breach that has taken place, than I would stand defiantly in opposition to the claims which the movement has upon honorable senators in this chamber. I take up that position, and I am sure that I shall never have occasion to regret it. I feel that I have nothing to regret up to the present. I have never tried to be other than a representative of the people, and I shall not do so now. I shall not soil my garments or taint the reputation I have humbly tried to achieve throughout the whole of my life. I am satisfied that when the people are given an opportunity to deal with them, those who have spoken so disparagingly and so bitterly of the Labour party will find that there is a greater voice and a greater power than theirs. Those who have tried to disparage the representatives of the Labour movement, and through their organizations have treated the rank and. file of the movement with ignominy and contempt, will find that the counterblast of public opinion will put them in the place of ignominious defeat which they deservedly occupy at the present time. I shall not trespass further on the time of’ the Senate on this motion, but I should’ like to say that whilst I regret all that has taken place in connexion with the position in which we now find ourselves, the representatives of the people on this side may with honour look to the future. When the opportunity is afforded us to go before the people, we shall have a story to tell them which will certainly bring us back into this chamber again.
Debate (on motion by Senator Lt.Colonel Sir Albert Gould) adjourned.
Resignation of Senator Ready - Private Members’ Business - Storage of Tab and Manufacture of Toluene - Hop Crop in Tasmania - United States Industrial Commission - Imperial Conference Delegates.
Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I should like to ask you, sir, if you have in your possession the resignation of Senator Ready?
– That is a poser.
– I am opposed to the adjournment of the Senate at the present juncture, because there is a number of matters on the business-paper which have appeared upon it for months past, and which should be dealt with. One motion involves the administration of the Naval College at Jervis Bay.
– In whose name rath at motion ?
– It is in my name.
– The honorable senator is anticipating business on the paper.
– The honorable senator is not anticipating the discussion of business by merely calling attention to the fact that he desires an opportunityto discuss it.
– The motion to which I refer, and other motions, have been on the business-paper for months, and I am desirous of discussing that which stands in my name. Some honorable senators have told the people that the organization known as the Industrial Workers of the World believes in the policy of going slowly; but it appears to me that in this respect no organization in the country can be compared with some of the Parliaments of the Commonwealth, and if honorable senators on the opposite side had their way, this Parliament would be amongst them. I desire that the Senate should meet after the dinner adjournment, in order to consider the business that appears on the paper in my name.
– There are half-a-dozen motions on the paper before that of the honorable senator, and it will take a week to discuss them.
– The sooner they are disposed of the sooner we shall reach the motion in my name. I repeat that I am opposed to the adjournment of the Senate at this hour.
.- Quite a number of things have happened during to-day; but I should like to know from you, Mr. President, whether you propose to answer the question put to you just now by Senator Gardiner?
– I think that the Senate may very well trust me to make any announcement, that it is proper to make, regarding any matter that concerns the Senate, when the proper time comes.
Senator WATSON (Western Australia) (6.18]. - I desire to bring under the notice of the Minister for Defence a statement which he is reported to have made in connexion with the storage of tar, and also a contradiction of the statement by one of the directors of De Meric Limited, of Sydney. The following article appeared in last Saturday’s Sun -
Prohibited from March 1. manufacture of toluene.
– The article continues -
The Minister added that representatives of the Albion Quarry Co. Proprietary Ltd., which is engaged in the distillation of tar, waited upon him this morning and gave information regarding the production by the company of toluene and benzine. Experiments had been made, but finality had not yet been reached. Messrs. W. Leitch and R. Lewis, Directors of Munitions, were present at the interview, and matters arising out of the desire of the Department to have toluene and benzine manufactured in the Commonwealth were discussed. It was agreed that further communications with the company are to be made.
Mr. Octavius W. Cowley, director of De Meric Ltd., Sydney, writes : -
It is with much astonishment that I have read in your paper of 19th February a statement headed, “ Distilled Coal Tar,” made by the Minister for Defence. The official statement is so misleading that I ask you to give prominence to these facts.
De Meric Ltd., tar distillers, of Sydney and Newcastle, are at present handling approximately two million gallons of coal tar annually, and are distilling 30,000 gallons weekly. They are, in addition, ‘manufacturing benzol, solvent naphtha, and sublimed naphthalene, and many other byproducts of coal tar, and have for twelve months produced and supplied under contract to the Imperial Russian Government, quantities of toluol for the manufacture of high explosives.
I regret to have to write this explanation in direct contradiction of the following statement made by the Minister for Defence : -
Unfortunately no material supplies have been produced, and in only one instance, that of the Australian Gaslight Co., Sydney, is the installation of a plant contemplated capable of producing toluene of the quality required.
De Meric Ltd. have expended a large capital in erecting a refinery capable of dealing with large quantities of tar oils at Newcastle.
The directors are prepared to negotiate with the Minister for Defence to deal with such products and to supply toluene.
I should like to hear what the Minister has to say in explanation of the attitude which he has taken up in this connexion.
– Before the Senate adjourns, I desire to say that I have received communications from Tasmania in reference to some proposition now under consideration by the Federal Government in connexion with the handling of the hop crop. Tasmania, as honorable senators are aware, is peculiarly the hop-producing State of the Commonwealth. I have taken occasion to see the Prime Minister in connexion with the matter. I realize that his time is very fully occupied, and it was only for a couple of moments that I could see him by calling him away from a deputation of great importance which he was attending. I should like to ask whether the Leader of the Senate will, between now and tomorrow, ascertain from the Prime Minister what is the position with regard to this matter, because I propose, to-morrow morning, to ask a question on the subject, and I know that it is difficult for Ministers to obtain replies from the Department for Friday morning. I shall be returning to Tasmania to-morrow, and, in common wit1] other honorable senators who have received communications, I shall, no doubt, be asked to say something definite as to the intentions of the Government in this matter. I ask the Leader of the Government if he will take an opportunity this evening of consulting with the Prime Minister, so that to-morrow he may be in a position to make some definite statement in regard to the matters I refer to.
– I ask the Leader of the Government what it is intended to do with regard to private business ? I am interested in one item, No. 6, down in the name of Senator Henderson, and there are other matters for which other honorable senators are responsible, and about which we would like information as to when we are likely to have an opportunity of discussing them.
– Before the Senate adjourns I would like to obtain from the Leader of the Senate some information in regard to two matters. For something like a fortnight, I have had a question on the notice-paper with reference to the delegation to the Imperial Conference, and the appointment of an Industrial Commission to visit America. The first is the more important. It is quite true that the Leader of the Senate in his reply to me today said it would all depend upon a motion on the notice-paper, but I do not think that was really an effective reply to my query. On three or four occasions I have asked the Government if it is their intention to give this Parliament an opportunity to discuss the questions to be submitted to the Imperial Conference before our delegates leave Australian shores. I was asked to postpone my question time and again, and the reply given to-day is in no way satisfactory. As private members we do not know when the delegates are going to leave. We do know the personnel of the delegation - namely, the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), the Eight
Honorable SirJ ohn Forrest, and Sir William Irvine - but we do not know when they are to leave.
– You do not want a submarine to attack the ship, do you?
– I agree it is right we should not know when they are to leave, but it is right that this Parliament should have an opportunity of discussing the questions to be dealt with at that Conference, and before our representatives leave Australia.
– What are the questions ?
– Surely the three delegates and the Government they’ represent know.
– Probably not.
– They have been published in the London papers.
– It is right that representatives in this Parliament should know what those questions are, and that Parliament should give instructions to the delegates.
– You would send them there with their hands tied.
– I do not want to tie their hands, but I do want this Parliament to have full knowledge of the matters to be discussed. It is idle for any honorable senator to say that the delegates are going to London without knowing something of the subjects to be dealt with. The Imperial Government have asked for representatives from Australia.
– They are going as ambassadors.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– I think the Leader of the Senate himself will realize the importance of this great issue. We all recognise the necessity . for Australia to be represented at that Conference, because very many questions - affecting, perhaps, the future of Australia - will be discussed there, and it is a matter of public comment whether or not the delegation from Australia should go to London without in any way acquainting the people or their representatives of the matters that are to be discussed.
– I would draw the honorable senator’s attention to the fact that Senator Ferricks has given notice of a motion to deal with this subject. While I have allowed the honorable senator to proceed at considerable length, I am afraid if he continues he will be anticipating the -discussion on the notice of motion referred to.
– I do not . want to come into ‘conflict with you, sir, or with the Standing ‘Orders. I have simply been impelled by a desire to get a direct promise from the Government that this Parliament will have an opportunity of considering the subjects to be discussed in London.
– Senator Ferricks’ motion is in the same terms, and it is because of no action of mine that the honorable senator is limited in the scope of his remarks. This limitation is due to the action of another honorable senator whose notice of motion ‘appears on the businesspaper.
– Shall I he in order, then, in discussing the personnel of the delegation?
– That being so, I think the proper course would have been to ‘have given Parliament an opportunity of considering the matter before the appointments -were made. Who appointed the delegates £ Not the people of Australia, certainly.
– The responsible ‘Government of Australia, just as the .responsible Government-of every other Dominion, appointed their -delegates.
– I disagree with Senator Keating. I say that the present Government are not the responsible Government in the true sense of the term, and Senator Keating himself knows that.
– The responsible Government in the other Dominions appointed their representative.
– That is quite correct; but the responsible Government in the other Dominions are in that position by the votes of the people, whereas members of this Government are not so placed. Can Senator Keating say they are?
– What you are saying about the present Government is said about the- South African Government and about the Canadian ‘Government by those opposed to them.
– No, because no Coalition Government has been formed in South Africa or in the Dominion of Canada within the last few weeks.
– But Opposition members say they are not the responsible
Government. It is the duty of the Opposition to say that always.
– That is only a quibble. Senator Keating knows perfectly well that until a few days ago there were thirteen men in another branch of this Legislature governing the ‘Commonwealth with a small following here, and, in order to give colour to the claim of being a responsible Government, they bargained with each other for over two months to see who would be the Prime Minister, who would be the Minister for Defence, and who would be something else.
– They gave themselves to the enemy.
– It is public property, published through the columns of the daily press, that the Coalition arrangements during the last two days centred .around the question whether or not the portfolio of the Minister for Defence should be in this branch :of the Legislature or in the other. That *was the stumbling block, and if the party led by Mr. Cook had got their way, and transferred the portfolio from this Chamber to another place, there would have been no .responsible Government here in a sense that Senator Keating implies. Knowing that all this bargaining was going on, many of the leading journals of Australia headed their news paragraphs thus - “ Bargaining still going on.” Ministers in a .responsible Government are responsible to the people who elect them, but the present Government include six .gentlemen who were repudiated as Ministers at the polls on the 5th September, 1914. ‘The people said straight-out on’ that occasion that they would have nothing to do with Mr. Cook, Senator Millen, Sir John Forrest, and the others.
– But they were returned to Parliament.
– It is true that they were returned to Parliament, but not to positions .as Ministers of the Crown, and Senator Gould knows that, What was the election cry in 1914 ?
– “Win the war!”
– No, that was not the cry.
– “ The last man and the last shilling !” That was the cry.
– The “win the war “ cry is a very -late ‘cry. In 1914 the question put by Mr. Cook and his party to the electors of Australia was - “ Are you going to swop horses crossing the stream?”
– That is the question now.
– I am speaking of the election cry of 1914.
– That is the truth of the position now.
– In 1914 the election cry from Mr. Cook and his party was : “Are you going to swop horses crossing the stream? We are engaged in a terrible struggle. The fate of Australia and the Empire is at stake. Are you going to change the Government which lias been in power since 1913 ?” That was the battle-cry from Mr. Cook, Senator Millen, and others on the public platforms, and the reply of the people of Australia was that they would swop horses crossing the stream, and they did, thus repudiating Mr. Cook who was then the Prime Minister, Senator Millen who was the Minister for Defence, and three or four other men who were in the Cook Ministry, and who- to-day are governing or attempting to govern, Australia. By no conceivable stretch of the imagination can- it be said, according to Senator Keating’s dictum, that the present Government is a responsible Government.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - It is the Government of the country.
– It is the Government, but it is not a responsible Government by any means. It is a Government elected as the result of a number of Caucus meetings in which they bargained for different “portfolios, the number of party representatives in the Cabinet, and so on. Having got their way, Mr.. Cook and. his party joined Mr. Hughes and his party, and made a Government of a kind.
– They take the responsibility of their action; that is the essence of responsible government.
– That does not make this Ministry a responsible Government.
– They take the responsibility to Parliament and the country.
– I. do not wish to delay the Senate at undue length with a battle of words between the honorable senator and myself. As regards the delegation to London, I submit that two of the delegates have not the confidence of the people of Australia, and those two gentlemen are Sir John Forrest and Sir William Irvine. I am sure that in 1914 Senator de Largie never dreamed for a moment that he would be- a supporter of a man like Sir John Forrest, whom he used to condemn.
– Did you in 1914 think that you would be an opponent of Mr. Hughes?
– I never said as many hard things about Mr.. Hughes as Senator’ de Largie said about Sir John Forrest on every platform in Western Australia.
– You cannot quote a single word which I said against Sir John Forrest. He has always been a good Australian.
– I will not use the quotations now, but will, keep them for another occasion. The honorable senator said last night that he had not a. private secretary; but he took the trouble to go through a number of divisions,, so far as Senator Gardiner was concerned. If I had the time to go through the tomes of Hansard I could fill the table with statements made by Senator de Largie about Sir John Forrest in this Parliament and outside of it, complaining’ that he- was a Tory.
– My report as to the figures last night was only a progress report.
– I have- not started my progress report yet. If the honorable senator wants to hear his statements about Sir John Forrest I will bring them- here on another occasion and quote them
– You- will not find me saying that he was not always a good Australian.
– No; because the honorable senator never made the statement until this moment. He has always condemned Sir John Forrest, on the platform in Western Australia. He has condemned him here,, too - I do not say as a man, but as a politician.
– In a party sense.
– I am not speaking in a personal sense by any means. The honorable senator is- willing to-day ta send to London as a representative of Australia a politician for whom, so long as I have known him, he had no time.
– Not as a party politician.
– As a party politician.
– He is a Nationalist now.
– I would like to go further into this matter of the delegation to London, because it is imperative that the members of this delegation should not leave our shores without receiving instructions from this Parliament, but you, sir, have ruled that I cannot pursue that line.
– From whom would the delegates get instructions ?
– My opinion is that the delegates should receive instructions from this Parliament.
– And whose opinion would prevail?
– I know that the delegates are not going to London without knowing something of the subjects which they are to discuss.
– The subjects have already been announced in the press.
– Exactly . I am quite sure that the Imperial Government did hot invite a delegation from Australia to the War Conference without submitting to the present Government or to the last Government some of the subjects which are- to be discussed. There is no honorable senator who can contradict that view. But if I were to pursue that line of argument I would be transgressing the Standing Orders. The sending of a Trades Commission to America is a subject of vast importance. When Senator Pearce was Acting Prime Minister he said at an annual meeting of the Chamber of Manufacturers, in reply to a suggestion from the president, Mr. Brookes, that it would bea wise thing to send a Trades Commission to America. He went further, and invited from the six States three representatives of employers and three representatives of employees, specifying the industries which they were to investigate in America. Immediately after the arrival of the Prime Minister from England this matter began to hang fire. A number of applications were sent in, and still these persons do not know whether a commission is to be sent or not. In my opinion the Coalition Government have had ample time to determine whether or not a commission will be sent. The questions I have asked in this regard have been postponed very often. I admit that the Leader of the Senate has not yet had much chance to find out the opinion of the Government, but I think he will agree with me that the matter is of such importance to the people of Australia that the Government ought to make a definite statement. What is the good of inviting applications to fill the positions; what is the good of persons going to the expense they have incurred if there is no intention to send a commission to America? Why not end the suspense? Notwithstanding all the great questions which the Fusion Government have to deal with’ just now, and they aremany, I think that a little of their time should be devoted to determining this matter. I rose shortly before half -past 6 o’clock. to make the representations I have made. I have pointed out the necessity of this Parliament being given an opportunity to discuss the subjects which are to be placed before the War Conference, so that the people’s representatives here may tell the delegates how they should act.
– You want, the delegates to act as they are told.
– There is not much harm in doing what you are told if you are told to do a good thing. Secondly, the Government might say at once whether they intend to send a Trades Commission to America.
, - I asked a question yesterday, and again to-day, which the Leader of the Senate seemed to treat as a joke, but when I read a cablegram which was published in yesterday’s Herald he will understand that it deals with a very serious matter -
Scope is very Wide. (United Service Special Cable.)
London, Tuesday, 8.35 p.m.
The business-paper of the Empire War Council has ‘been drafted.
It is of the widest scope, covering the conduct of the war, admission of the Dominions to a voice in foreign policy and war aims, freedom of the sea and sea power, the German colonies, and the control of the Pacific. It is understood that an agreement, under which a representative of the Opposition would join the Australian delegation, would be welcomed, as it would insure full Commonwealth authorization upon urgent vital questions, but it is impossible to postpone decisions unless the Australian delegates leave immediately.
Mr. W. F. Massey, Prime Minister of New, Zealand, expects that the preliminary meeting of the Council will be held in ten days. It is believed that the delegates- will be admitted to the War Cabinet without delay.
Anybody reading between the lines of this cablegram will see that the authorities in Great Britain want representatives of all classes in Australia, and consider that they are not getting such representation. It is stated clearly that the authorities want a representative of the Labour party, which represents a majority of the people of this country. It is suggested, according to this message, that the proposed Australian delegation does not represent the people of Australia. It is not too late to send a representative delegation. I bring this cablegram under the notice of the Government, and hope that they0 will act upon the suggestion which it contains. To my mind, the solution of the difficulty is easy, and it is that the High Commissioner should be authorized to attend the meeting of the Council, so that Australia may be represented from the beginning. It is the duty of the Government to see if it cannot be done. If Mr. Fisher is selected to represent the great Labour movement . of Australia, I believe that there is no man in the, movement who would not be perfectly satisfied. I am not allowed at this stage to discuss the platform of the War Conference, but here it is set forth in print. No one wants to know the minor details. We wish to know what the delegates are going to discuss in reference to Australia, and, according to this cablegram, one question will be the control of the Pacific. That is a matter on which Australia wants a say. It is a matter on which the Labour party wants a say, and one on which ‘ it ought to get a say. If the proposed delegation leaves in a few days, it will not represent the people of Australia, and the Government cannot ask the people who are left behind to bow the knee to whatever is done by them. If their intentions are not criticised before they go, their actions will be when they come. back. The ‘people of Australia w.ill have their say then if they do not have it now.
– Senator Watson read a lengthy extract from a paper with regard to a matter connected with the Defence Department. I shall be obliged if he will place me in possession of it so that I may hand it to the Minister for Defence, who will, no doubt, take an early opportunity of furnishing a reply. Senator Keating brought up a distinctly important matter - the reported movement with regard to the hop crop of Tasmania. I understand that he has seen the Prime Minister. Consequent on that interview, the Prime Minister desires me to intimate that should anything definite eventuate in the form of a scheme similar to the Wheat Pool, the terms of such proposed scheme will be definitely and explicitly published, so that all interested may, either directly, or through their representatives in this Parliament, criticise it before it comes into operation. Senator Lynch asked if the Government would make an opportunity for the discussion of certain private members’ business. So far as I can see from the outlook of business, there should be ample opportunity next week for doing this. I am not in a position to commit myself on the point now. but ordinarily the’ matter will come on next Thursday night, and the Government will take no steps to prevent it coming on in the ordinary and proper course. It may also be possible to assist in the furthering of the motion; in fact, I shall only be too happy to expedite the consideration of business submitted by private members, so long as it does not . interfere with the ordinary conduct of Government business. Senator Needham brought up some matters for the second time to-day - one about the Imperial Conference and the other the Industrial Trade Commission. The honorable senator has already been informed that, on a motion which was then on the businesspaper, he would have had ample opportunity of discussing many matters regarding the Imperial Conference to which he referred. There is the possibility of that motion making its re-appearance, in which case the honorable senator will have the opportunity he seeks, but when he talks of instructions to our delegates, which is a somewhat different matter from” discussing the subject, he has to face the possibility of one House giving one set of instructions and another House anr other. The honorable senator complained , that this Government of a fortnight old had not promptly dealt with the proposal to appoint an Industrial Trades
Commission. The honorable senator remained a silent member for many weeks after that matter had been hung up, and it would undoubtedly assist the Government in its consideration of the .matter if he could prevail on his friends at the Melbourne Trades Hall to compose their own differences on the point. Collectively that body indignantly rejected the proposal, but hardly had the resolution containing that rejection been reduced to paper than members of the council hurried away to write individual applications for inclusion in the commission. If those gentlemen find a difficulty in making up their minds, having had; months for consideration, surely the honorable senator can be a little considerate to a Government that has been in existence for only fourteen days. I did not regard the matter brought forward by Senator McDougall in any way as a joke. I simply told him then, as I tell him now, that I was not aware of the existence of what he first referred to as a rumour, He has now brought forward, in confirmation of his statement, a United Service special cable published in the Melbourne Herald. That is the only authority for it, but is it likely that a mere news agency has obtained a copy of the business-paper of a Conference the date for holding which is not yet fixed?
– It is public property; that is why they have got it in England.
– It is not public property, and in other circumstances Senator McDougall would be the first to deny any authority to this particular cable service.
– The news comes from Mr. Keith Murdoch, and he ran the show when I was there.
– It is a little amusing that on certain occasions honorable senators will accept things they find in the papers as implicitly as if they came from holy writ, when they think they can use them as a charge or accusation against the . Government, while at other times we know the scorn with which they receive quotations from an exactly similar source.
– You said you did not believe it. I only wanted you to know it was there.
– I simply said I had not heard the rumour. As a matter of fact, I had not seen the paragraph until the honorable senator placed ‘it in my hand. As my attention has been directed to the matter, I shall endeavour to see how far the statement is or is not accurate.
– Before putting the question, I have to make to the Senate an announcement which I had hoped to make before the dinner adjournment. There was, however, no opportunity then. At one minute past 6 o’clock I received a communication from Senator Ready resigning his position as a senator for the State of Tasmania.
– Another bloody Judas I
– Mr. President-
– Order ! By section 19 of the Constitution, directly an honorable senator resigns his seat,- in writing, in a communication to the President, or to the Governor-General if the President be absent, the seat becomes vacant, and section 21 of the Constitution provides that if the President receives the communication, he shall communicate its contents to the Governor of the State in which the vacancy occurs. In accordance with that mandatory provision of the Constitution, I have already forwarded a telegram to His Excellency the Governor of Tasmania informing him of the fact, which will be confirmed by an official communication by mail in the usual way.
– This gang will do anything after that.
– I now announce the fact in order that it may be included in the Journals of the Senate. The question is - “ That the Senate do now adjourn.”
– Mr. President-
– Order ! The Vice- . President of the Executive Council having replied, the debate on the motion is now closed.
– On . a point of order, if Senator Watson desires to make a personal explanation, or a statement as a matter of privilege, will he be in order in doing so?
– The honorable senator cannot interrupt the proceedings of the Senate to do so now. The Standing Orders are mandatory on the point.
A division having been called for,
– I appoint Senator de Largie toller for the “ Ayes,” and Senator Stewart teller for the “ Noes.”
Senator O’Keefe having risen to cross the chamber,
– Order ! The honorable senator is too late. The tellers have been appointed.
The -Senate divided -
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned to 8.39 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 1 March 1917, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1917/19170301_senate_6_81/>.