6th Parliament · 1st Session
Dissolution - Imperial Confer ence : Australian Delegation - Resignation of Senator Ready - Senator Watson’s Charges - Proposed Prolongation of Parliament: Action of Tasmanian Senators - Constitution of the Government - Ministerial Policy - Senator Findley and Payment of Members - Chairman, Murray Waters Commission : Administrator, Northern Territory - Hansard: Paragraphing of Speeches - Pairs : Senators Guy and Long.
– I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
This motion will undoubtedly strike hon orable senators as somewhat remarkable, in view of the fact that on Friday last I invited them to meet to-day, and that in order to do so many of them have subjected themselves to considerable inconvenience. An explanation is therefore due to the Senate, and I propose ‘to frankly place before honorable senators the reasons that have caused the Government to reconsider, not merely the business to be remitted to the Senate, but the political situation in its entirety. Upon its formation the Government was confronted with the duty of considering the responsibilities arising from both’ the war and the Imperial Conference. In view of the state of the . parties in this House it was obvious that, having regard to the character, urgency, and vital importance of the issues involved, these responsibilities could only be satisfactorily discharged with the co-operation and support of this Chamber. That co-operation was invited by me on behalf of the Government in announcing the formation of the new Ministry. Although the response to that appeal was not reassuring or such as the Government had ventured to look for, it was still hoped, as both the demands of the war and the urgency of the
Imperial Conference were pressing with increasing weight, that members would consider the grave national situation a sufficient warrant tor ignoring party issues and extending to the Government that support without which its efforts would necessarily bo ineffective. It has however, become apparent that it is idle to any longer look for that co-operation. From the first moment of meeting the Government has been assailed with a virulence and malignity never paralleled in the history of the Federal Parliament. It has been made quite clear that no help or co-operation of any kind is to be looked for from those opposed to the Government. Yet without this there can be no adequate representation at the Imperial Conference, nor can the ordinary business of the Government be conducted, still less can there be that concentration of effort which the progress of the war increasingly demands. In these circumstances it has become necessary for the’ Government to put an end to a situation which renders all attempts at government impossible.
The Government has, after earnest consideration, decided to take steps with a view to bringing both Houses of the Parliament before - the country immediately. This, of course, necessarily involves a postponement of the departure of the delegation to the Imperial Conference. A full statement will’ be submitted by the Prime Minister to the House of Representatives to-morrow.
– I have listened to the statement of Senator Millen - that it is the intention of the Government to appeal to the country - with more pleasure than has been afforded to me by any other statement that has been- made in the Senate. No one on this side desires to dispute or to deny what the honorable gentleman said regarding the manner in which the Government have been assailed by the Opposition. Wo, on this side, have assailed the Government because of their manipulation of the public business, and because we have evidence of the attempts of Ministers to bribe an honorable senator. We have assailed the Government because of the manner in which Ministers have succeeded in displacing Senator Ready by an honorable senator who is. willing ‘ to support their policy. As the Senate may not meet again before the elections, it may not be out of place to make a pass- ing reference to the removal of Senator Ready, who was a member of this party, and the appointment of Senator Earle. In fairness to Senator Earle and to myself, I wish to say that he comes from Tasmania with as high a record as any other man in the political life of that State. If we on this side receive him in anger, it is because we, perhaps, know more than he knows of the circumstances which have brought him here. I appeal to his fairness in judging the situation. At half-past 2 o’clock on Wednesday, we, on this side, became aware that Senator Ready was resigning his seat, and it is evident that Senator Earle was aware on Tuesday,’ at least, of Senator Ready’s intention to resign.
– That is absolutely untrue.
– Order !
– I “do not ask that the remark be withdrawn. I am glad to have the statement.
– I am responsible for the proper conduct of the business of the Senate, and I therefore ask Senator Earle to put his denial into parliamentary language.
– I withdraw the remark, as it was unparliamentary, and substitute the expression that Senator Gardiner’s statement was inaccurate.
– As men of average common sense, are we to believe that Senator Earle resigned his seat in the Tasmanian Parliament, and came to Melbourne, without knowing that there would be a vacancy in the Senate?
– I did nothing of the kind.
– Then I await an explanation of what occurred. There are strong grounds for suspecting that the honorable senator was connected with, this most unsavory business. We have the statement that the Premier of Tasmania was suddenly called to Sydney. We know that lie went to Sydney, but when I ask whether the visit was for private or for public reasons, the Leader of the Government did not tell me.
– Why should he?
– This is the place where information concerning public business should be made known. One of the reasons for my constant attacks upon this Government is that it will not say whether information which is in possession of the public is or is not accurate.
According to the press reports, the Premier of Tasmania hastened to Sydney, met the Prime Minister, and. returned to Tasmania. The Prime Minister, speaking on the charge of attempted bribery - I cannot say answering that charge, because he failed to do so - said that he was aware that there would be a vacancy in the Senate, and made his plans accordingly. Senator Earle says that he was not aware of the intended resignation. I do not pretend to be able to look into his mind, nor do I say that his statement i3 not true. But I shall not pretend that he resigned from the Tasmanian Parliament by accident, or in the hope that the resignation of an honorable senator might leave a vacancy for him in this Chamber. It must be plain to the public that, before Senator Ready’s colleagues were aware of his intention to resign his seat in this Chamber, the resignation of Senator Earle was in the hands of the Speaker of the Tasmanian Legislative Assembly.
– I cannot help that.
– I am not asking the honorable senator to help it, but there is one thing which he can do to materially defend his own reputation, and that is to make a candid and full statement of all the circumstances.
– My reputation is all right.
– Senator Earle’s resignation was in before Senator Ready became sick.-
– That is an absolute - perhaps I should say no more.
– The Premier of Tasmania and the Prime Minister have an interview, and Senator Earle hurries in his resignation from the Tasmanian Parliament. The selection of a senator to take Senator Ready’s place is necessary. The Premier of Tasmania after 6 o’clock on Wednesday evening is informed by wire of the vacancy in the Senate, and shall I say by a quarter-past 10 o’clock on the following morning the Executive have met in Tasmania, and Senator Earle has been selected as senator pro tern, for Tasmania - because, after all, the Tasmanian Parliament will yet have a word to say about his position. He is elected pro tern, a senator for Tasmania, a message is sent here, and he is sworn in as a member of the Senate with lightning-like rapidity. I desire to impress upon honorable senators the fact that all these circumstances are so suspicious that even an appeal to the country looks to me like an attempt to smother up the whole thing.
– Does the honorable senator not know that “suspicion ever haunts the guilty mind?”
– I do, and I know, also, that a man who is prepared to permit such grave and reasonably suspicious circumstances to pass without investigation has a guilty mind. Here we have ample grounds for suspicion. A majority on one side is converted into a majority on the other.
– There was no majority. They never knew they had a majority, and that is the reason we are going to the country .-
– Is it not a matter for suspicion that a majority on one side is converted into a majority on the other as the result of circumstances, the suspicious nature of which can never be erased from the public mind ?
– All too quickly !
– Yes, all too quickly. Implicated in the charges that Have been made there are four members of the Senate. There is first of all yourself, Mr. President, who commenced the conversations with Senator Watson. I wish, sir, to be perfectly fair to you.
– Did the President commence the conversations with Senator Watson, or did Senator Watson commence the conversations with the President?
– I do not want to deal with that. J want to be perfectly fair to the President.
– That is a point that has to be cleared up.
– Honorable senators opposite will not allow us to clear the matter up.
– If honorable senators will allow me to proceed they will find that I shall say nothing that is unfair of the President. These conversations which culminated, according to Senator Watson, in the offer of a bribe to him, commenced with a conversation between the honorable senator and the President
– Order ! Does the honorable senator say that any converrsation which Senator Watson had with me ended with the offer of a bribe Do him?
– If you, sir, had listened to what I proposed to. say you would have learned that I intended to put it beyond all dispute that I hold no suspicion against you. I say that the conversations referred to culminated, according to Senator Watson’s statement, in Mr.- Hughes offering him a bribe. I want to say that, having listened to Senator Watson’s statement, I am perfectly satisfied that you, sir, played no part in offering him a bribe or inducement. I think that you will see that your name comes into the matter as a member of the Senate and as President, since, according to Senator Watson’s statement, the conversation with you came about through, the messenger informing Senator Watson that you desired to see him in your room,
– Has Senator Gardiner never been there?
– Many a time. I was there when Senator Ready was ill the other day. I want honorable senators to strip their minds of any thought that I am trying to impute wrong motives to the President of the Senate. I hope, therefore, that they will permit me tc> speak without interruption.
– Order ! Senator Gardiner has * right to be beard in silence.
– These conversations have been made public. Sena-tor’ Watson went from you, sir, to Senator Pearce, and Senator Pearce played the part of bringing Senator Watson and Mr. Hughes together. I impute no grounds for a charge to Senator Pearce, but I say that statements of so grave a character have been made that the reputation of the Senate demands the fullest public inquiry under conditions permitting all statements made to be questioned to the utmost. I say that it is even now the duty of the Government to make provision for such an inquiry. We all welcome the proposed appeal to the public, and we are glad to have the. opportunity for such an appeal, but that appeal to the public will not be a judicial inquiry such as is necessary to sift right to the bottom the definite charge of attempted bribery- which has been made.
-.- Hav Have we a definite charge made?
-Yes. We have the definite charge made by Senator Watson, who has told us that Mr. Hughes said that- if money stood in the way that would be all right. That is- as clear- and definite a charge of attempted bribery as ever was made in any public assembly in the world. There must be no mistake about these things, and there can be no mistake about them.
– If Senator Watson is prepared to make that charge, I shall stand behind him to have it cleared up.
– The charge must be investigated. The honour of every honorable senator whose name has been mentioned in connexion with it is at stake, and the honour of Senator Earle, who comes into the matter, though it may be quite innocently, is also at stake.
– “Where does Senator Earle come in in connexion with the other business ?
– If Senator Shannon cannot see the suspicions surrounding the sudden disappearance of a majority from this side, and the equally sudden appearance of Senator Earle as a majority on the other side, all I can say is that I wish I may reach his years of manhood with such a perfectly innocent mind. I venture to say that not only I, in common with every other honorable member of the Senate, but every fair-minded man who reads the report of the proceedings, will say that the suspicions suggested are sufficiently well grounded to justify a full and impartial inquiry. Who is to lose by such an inquiry ? With respect to another person concerned in the matter, I say, as a friend of ex-Senator Ready up to the last moment, and one who was prepared to defend him up to the last moment, when suspicions concerning him were being flung around, he is entitled to a full inquiry into the matter. It may be that such an inquiry will justify to the utmosteverything that has happened, so far as he is concerned. What will the covering up of the matter lead to ? It will mean that the reputation of honorable members of the Senate has been besmirched, and the Government will take no steps to afford them an opportunity for the fullest, fairest, and cleanest vindication of their honour. I hope that the Government will be well advised, and that, side by side with the proposed appeal to the electors, they will insist that this matter shall be probed to the very bottom. I read in a leading article in one of the newspapers this morning that I had made a statement which might be called in question. It is said that I remarked that there were several honorable senators “ in the bag.” I did make the statement, and I had read the same thing in the press before I made it. I made the statement for a very good reason. I made it in demanding a pair for certain honorable senators who are unavoidably absent from the Senate. I desired that the public should know through me that those honorable senators were not “ in the bag,” since they were willing to vote in the customary way, by pairing, against the proposed prolongation of the life of this Parliament. It is now evident that the life of this Parliament cannot be prolonged, and on that point ‘we are all agreed and satisfied. So far as this Parliament is concerned, we are to go to the people, and while, perhaps, we might not have gone sooner with more advantage to ourselves, I venture to say that a few valuable months have been lost. When the Hughes Government lost their majority the situation might well have been left for the decision of the people by an appeal to them. We have gone on to such an extent that now the newly-formed Coalition Government are compelled to take action by the force of circumstances.
– By the character of the Opposition.
– They are driven by force of circumstances; and, if Senator Millen will do this side the credit of saying that it is by the action of the Opposition, I rejoice in the fact. It enables us to take credit before the country, and say that it is the Opposition that has forced the appeal to the people.
– Nothing of the sort. It is not the Opposition that has forced the appeal. .
– Then there is a difference on the Government side. While one honorable senator says that ib is by the action of the Opposition that they are driven to the country, another says that it is nothing of the kind.
– It is because they could not carry the motion - that is the reason.
– Again, if there is anything secret, so much the worse for the Government - so much the worse for the Government if the country is being administered in secrecy.
– What Government ?
– This Government. We are told that the Government could not carry a certain motion. So far as my knowledge is concerned, the Government had secured their majority by means unsavory to the people of the country.
– I intended to speak on Friday, only the sitting lapsed. But did I not tell you I would vote as I thought fit?
– Of course you did.
– There you are !
– Senator Bakhap said on Friday that he would vote as he thought fit; but surely he would not like me to interpret that as meaning he would vote against his own party ?
– Most decidedly I would vote against my party if I thought it judicious and right to do so. I am not a spoke in any chariot wheel.
– I suppose I should be accused of misrepresenting the honorable senator if I said that, in addition to the character and action of the Opposition, Senator Bakhap’s statement that the Government could not get a majority for the prolongation of Parliament is the cause of the present position.
– The Government had no assurance from honorable senators on this side that they would support the motion.
– If that be so, here is another very good reason why the Government should make the announcement of this morning, and heroically back it up with the statement that the delegation will not go to the Imperial Conference if the Government are not assured of a majority of their own party.
– That is exactly the case.
– The happenings of last week are such that the Government cannot depend on even such a loyal supporter as Senator Bakhap being behind them on a question of the kind.
– I can make myself very clear.
– All this proves that there is independence on this side, which cannot be said of the other side; that is what Senator Gardiner’s argument amounts to.
An Honorable Senator. - Little Tasmania is looming largely.
– Little Tasmania, in which I, perhaps, take as much pride as in my native State of New South
Wales, is in an unfortunate position in the whole of this business. This is not because of little Tasmania, but because of the conditions surrounding the unsavoury happenings of last week. I am quite pleased at the stalwart appearance of Senator Bakhap, who will not follow his party, bound hand and foot, as a party follower.
– I reject the imputation that we follow our party bound hand and foot.
– I really do not place much store in these things myself. If there is anything to complain of in party organization let us know it, for Parliament has much to be thankful for in that organization, because party organization makes parliamentary government possible. I venture to say that if every representative of the public acted of his own free will, on the spur of the moment, the difficulty in conducting the government of the country would amount to an impossibility - government would not be possible or practicable. I had a very brief experience as a Minister, but I can say, in regard to two of my colleagues, that on more than one occasion, the sturdy independence of our supporters nearly wrecked the Government. I repeat that if we had a system by which men came here with no determination to adhere to organization, parliamentary government would be impossible. I am not complaining of the solid system of the party opposite, side by side as it is with the organized solidarity of my own party.
– You approve of it when it suits you, and disapprove of it when it suits you.
– There is an extraordinary statement. I ask any one to point to any occasion on which I have denounced party organization. I have always recognised party organization as essential to helpful government under the parliamentary system. Senator Guthrie. - Three or four parties?
– Just imagine
– If I did the same as Senator Watson, I could say something.
– That is another reason why the honorable senator should speak.
– I will not do ‘it.
– The suggestion that the honorable senator could say something is worse than an open slander.
– And you know what I say is right.
– When the honorable senator says that I know what he i stated is true, I appeal, not only to him, but to any one, to- say whether there is anything in my private or public career the disclosure of which would benefit the public. If there is any such thing, I say, in Heaven’s name, let any man who can speak, speak before the Senate closes. This, I think, will relieve Senator Guthrie’ from any obligation to secrecy so far as I am concerned.
– It may be possible yet.
– We have now a condition of things that has never obtained in this country before. We have a Prime Minister openly charged ‘ in the Senate with attempted bribery, and we have had reported to us certain conversations with Ministers of the Crown, and the President of the Senate. I wish again to say that I do not associate the President of the Senate or Ministers of the Crown with any offers of bribery - I wish to be so clear and distinct in regard to this that nobody can misunderstand. But it is very queer taste, I say, to get men to depart from their position by the means adopted by honorable members of the Senate.
– Not from their principles, but from their position.
– - From their position and from their principle. There is another point in regard to the suspicious circumstances of the resignation of Senator Ready and the charges made by Senator Watson. Let us look at the analogy between the two cases. Before June, in the ordinary course, there had to be an appeal to the country on the part of one-half of the Senate.’ Senator Watson had to appeal, accompanied by two sitting members on the opposite side - Senator Millen and Senator Gould, both of whom are old in the public life of the country. It might seem to honorable senators opposite that, as Senator Wat-
Bon had to go to the country accompanied by two opponents, he might be induced to join them, and, therefore, it would be wise to fetch persuasive pressure to beaT on him. Senator Ready, a Tasmanian senator, had to go to the country accompanied by Senators Bakhap and Keating. Here, again, those who desired the. support of some one on this side would say, “ Senator Ready has to appeal with two men who enjoy the confidence of the people of the State, and we may induce him to come over to our side.” The very action of Senator Ready in resigning at the time’ he did not only lends colour to, but gives good grounds for the statement of Senator Watson as absolutely true in every particular. I wish to place it on record that I absolutely believe every word Senator Watson said, and. if I desired proof I have it in the- three separate statements of the Prime Minister, Senator Pearce, and the President. Of course, the President took the high ground that matters of confidence cannot be divulged.
– And never should have been divulged by an honorable man.
– I remind the honorable senator that the President also declared Senator Watson’s statement to be incomplete and inaccurate.
– Exactly ; and I do not mind the interruption. Senator Millen reminds me that the President said that Senator Watson’s statement waa incomplete and innacurate. I add that to my statement as constituting a correct interpretation of the President’s remarks. But I Bay that his statement, linked up with the statement of the Minister for Defence, and read in conjunction with the statement of the Prime Minister, corroborates the statement of Senator Watson in every particular. - Senator PEARCE. - No, Each denies the essential point upon which the honorable senator bases his case. The Prime Minister absolutely denies that any mention was made of money to Senator Watson, and that waa the only interview at which Senator Watson says that any reference was made to money.
– What was left to the Prime Minister but to deity itf But, apart from his denial, his general statement proves that the statement of Senator Watson was absolutely correct.
– What is there in the rest of Senator Watson’s statement beyond an invitation to him to change his political party?
– If three separate statements made by three old hands in the political arena, -when read carefully, all bear out ninety-nine points out of the hundred in Senator Watson’s statement as correct, on Senator Watson’s word alone I am going to believe the hundredth. I will do so for this reason; that in the locality where he is best known there is no man whose word stands higher than does Senator Watson’s. He is recognised as a hard, straight man, who has always spoken the truth . without party bitterness.
– He did not speak the truth the other day, when he denied that he told me that.he knew he ought to join our party, and would, like to do so.
– I heard the Minister make that statement, and I am glad to say that, in my ears, it sounded ae being as clumsy as the Prime Minister’s statement.
– Truth is clumsy in the ears of some people.
– It seemed to me that the Minister was anxious to kick up a dust by making fresh charges.
– Has not Senator Watson launched this charge for the purpose of kicking up a dust?
– Does the VicePresident of the Executive Council say that?
– Why did he sleep on it for a fortnight, nursing it all the while?
– Why did this man of high honour wait for ten days with that awful secret in his breast?
– That, I suppose, he can answer as well as anybody else.
– He is of age, and can speak for himself.
– Mr. Mathews said, “ We waited till the opportunity came.”
– I am not saying that. Senator Watson was the judge of what he should do himself, and so far as I am concerned) he was left untrammelled and uninfluenced in any step that he chose, to take.
– Does the honorable senator defend his retention of this supposed secret for a fortnight ?
– His very retention of it will add to the reputation of Senator Watson for honesty and inno cence. Here is a man called to the private counsels of a political party who is made an offer. Let us put any honest man in his position - his mind wavering between two conflicting impulses, one to make clear what had been said, and the other to keep the confidence that had been reposed in him. Then a fortnight’ later something happens which causes him: to see that probably similar tactics have been successfully adopted elsewhere. The honest man at once says: “The public of this country must be made aware of recent happenings.”
– Mr. Mathews said that if Senator Watson had made his statement earlier - “ it would have spoiledeverything.” What would it have spoiled - a little plot?
– Here is an attempt on the part of the Minister for Defence, mole like, to scratch up sufficient dust to hide himself. What has what Mr. Mathews said to do with this question. Here is the fact that for a fortnight Senator Watson had’ this occurrence in his mind.
– This awful crime!
– Yes. I venture to say that attempted bribery, particularly at a time like the present, is one of the most awful crimes that could be committed in Australia.
– And yet this man of rectitude does not make his charge known to the people and to Parliament.
– His action was that of an honest man wavering between two- impulses - whether he should make known what had taken place, or whether he should respect . the confidence that had been reposed in him. I venture to say that there are many men of equal integrity and ability who, if placed in a similar position, would ‘hesitate, a long time before they took. the final step. Had it not become patent to Senator Watson that what he had been asked to do, had been done by somebody else, and that the public life of this country had suffered in consequence, probably he would, not have spoken. That was the straw that weighed the balance down.
– Then. if the Ready incident had’ not occurred, Senator Watson would not have made his disclosure.
– I am not going to speak for Senator Watson, but I venture to say it is more than possible that if the Ready incident had not occurred he would not have spoken of the way in which he had been approached. Fortunately, Senator Watson is here to speak for himself.
– Very thin air, according to the honorable senator’s own statement.
– Like Senator Senior’s whiskers.
– The Minister for Defence has answered the charges of Senator Watson by saying that Senator Watson said certain things to him - by making further charges. I invite honorable senators to read the reply of the Prime Minister upon the gravest charge with which he was ever confronted. His speech in answer to that charge was simply an abusive denial. From end to end it reeks with abuse of the party with which he was formerly associated. If ever there was a time when vindictiveness towards the party to which he had been a traitor should have been forgotten, that was the time. The Prime Minister did not answer the charge.
– He did answer it, and denied it. The honorable senator knows that.
– He said, “ You can have a dissolution and a Commission,” and the one reason why I am speaking here to-day is to say, “ Let us have the Commission.” Let this matter be ventilated, let the fiercest light be turned upon it, and let it be searched to the utmost. That can still be done by the Government. An election will nob remove the charges, although we welcome an election. We welcome an appeal to our masters - the people - because we recognise that the time has come for that appeal. I have been uttering the same statement in this Senate for weeks. An appeal to the people by both Houses will give us settled government for I hope at least three years. As to the attempt to throw upon us the responsibility of having blocked the representation of the Commonwealth at the Imperial Conference, I do not forget that so far the Senate has not been taken into the confidence of the Government as to what was the invitation extended to Australia. I asked for the information, and was told by the Minister for Defence that one invitation was issued to the Prime Minister, but that Tie had no knowledge as to the nature of the other. We have no information whatever on that point.
– Have we not as much information as Parliament has had in respect to previous conferences?
– No. We have practically no information in this case except what we can gather from the press. Seeing that the Conference will have the decision of questions vitally affecting the interests of Australia, we are entitled to every information concerning the invitations.
– The honorable senator and his party were quite willing to send Mr. Fisher to the Conference without any information on the subject.
– And to accept Mr. Hughes as a delegate, except as to the request for the prolongation of the life of the Federal Parliament.
– The VicePresident of the Executive Council is trying to draw an analogy between the visit of Senator Pearce and-
– No; I am speaking of the suggestion made by the honorable senator’s party that Mr. Fisher should represent Australia.
– We know that an invitation has been received.
-. - An invitation to the Prime Minister. Mr. Fisher is not Prime Minister.
– No ; but he would more truly represent Australia at the Conference than would Mr. Hughes. There has been an attempt to throw upon us the responsibility for the delegation not going to Great Britain. I accept that responsibility. I say quite unreservedly that nothing would have been more distasteful to me than a delegation consisting of William Morris Hughes, Sir John Forrest, and Sir William Irvine, to a Conference having the decision of questions vitally affecting Australia. Nothing is more welcome to me than that Australia is not to be represented by men who have lost the confidence of the Australian people.
– The desire to prevent the delegation going to England has dominated all your tactics during the last three weeks.
– Our tactics during the last three weeks will compare favorably with those of any Opposition in like circumstances. On questions essential to the government of the country we have not interfered with the Government, but where the Government seem to have been smothering up their functions as a Government, and acting as a combination of parties in secret conclave, we have been demanding information for the public. It is for the Senate to say that, when we meet, the people’s representatives shall be informed of what the Government is doing.
– Does the honorable member’s party sit in Caucus with its doors open?
– It matters not how we sit. “We are not in office. There is a great difference between us and the combination brought about by huckstering and bargaining. We entered this Parliament supported by the votes of a majority of the people to carry out the principles to which we were pledged, but two other parties have come together for the spoils of office, although, to use the expressive language of tin© Leader of another place, the political gulf between them is as wide as the chasm between heaven and hell.
– Spoils of office ! Six portfolios amongst forty or fifty members ! Why does not the honorable member talk sense?
– According to Senator Bakhap, the distribution of six portfolios is too small a thing to be described as the spoils of office. The honorable senator for Tasmania thinks the distribution ofsix portfolios an altogether insignificant affair; but he must not forget that six valuable weeks were wasted while the Hughes party and the Cook party haggled over the question.
– Does the honorable senator really believe that the bulk of the members of the Liberal party, in agreeing to the coalition, took into consideration the fact that there would be six portfolios for distribution amongst forty or fifty men 1
– I was trying to show the difference between our party, which was returned to power by the people who knew what our principles were - they were set out in black and white - and the two parties who came together after debating day after day and week after week how the spoils of office should be divided.
– And one of the biggest fighters for the selection of the
Cabinet on a different method was Senator Bakhap.
– When this Government, composed of two different parties, took office and met the Parliament, we adopted certain tactics to force them to give us information of what had transpired at their secret meetings.
– Does the Official Labour party sit with its doors and windows open ? What are its meetings ?
– They are meetings of a party, not of a Government. A party that wishes to govern successfully must be willing to submit to the fullest investigation of its methods. Its doors and windows, so to speak, must be kept opea. Imagine Senator Bakhap posing as an independent representative of the people when, according to the press, the last ditch that was fought between the two parties was as to whether they should remove Senator Pearce from the office of Minirter for Defence!
– If I were to knock at the door of your party meeting, would you admit me?
– I was sincere in offering Senator Pearce my congratulations a few days ago on his retention of the office of Minister for Defence, because the greed of the Liberals had been checked in that respect. They wished to drag him from the position he had filled fo- ever two years. His retention of the office also established a record since, for the first time in his public life, the Prime Minister stood to a friend.
– That is low down.
– I challenge Sena- . tor Gardiner to say Mr. Hughes ever went back on a friend. There is a challenge for the honorable senator, who has known Mr. Hughes for twenty-five years.
– The Government Whip is one of the cutest men in the Senate in throwing out a challenge. He challenges you, and when you bowl him out, perhaps twenty minutes later, he has not the manhood to admit that heis wrong. The other day he stated that Senator Millen had voted more frequentlyfor the Fisher Government than I had, and when I brought the records to prove he was wrong, the honorable senator, maintaining the reputation he has earned’ so well amongst those who know him, had’ not the manliness to stand up and admit his mistake.
– I gave you the record for one year - thirty-six times against twenty-five.
– The honorable senator lived right up to the reputation that he has so well earned here. I can produce the records to show that Senator Pearce uttered a misstatement last week regarding the refusal of a pair to yourself, Mr. Deputy President. I proved that that statement was untrue, but Senator Pearce has not acknowledged the fact. We have proved untrue the misrepresentations uttered times out of number by Senator de Largie, but he has not acknowledged the fact.
– Where are they?
– They are in the records of Hansard, and the honorable senator was here when the proof of his misstatements was given.-
– What about the one I gave - thirty-six votes against twenty-five in one year?
– The honorable senator can twist and misrepresent figures, but unfortunately for him he is too well known in the Senate. I can go through the happenings of this brief session, and show that in matters essential to the good government of this country the Opposition have been generous to the Government. In matters affecting the rights of the Senate we have been firm and immovable, demanding, as is our right, a full knowledge of everything causing the Government to move in whatever direction they were acting. Our opposition to the delegation to Great Britain has, at any rate, this to recommend it, that it has been straightforward and outspoken. We believed that the delegates selected, not by Parliament or the people, but in the secret conclave of two parties who came together after many weeks of bargaining and huckstering, were not the men to represent Australia, in Great Britain.
– If all you have said this morning is as accurate as that we know all about it.
– Why were all those valuable weeks allowed to go by when men were wanted for recruiting ? Why was the honorable senator’s party waiting to be consulted, and why were messages passing from one party to” the other ?
– You said that the two parties sitting together appointed the delegation to London. That is not correct.
– Let me say, then, that they were selected by the representatives of the two parties sitting together, because I feel sure that Senator Shannon would never be consulted on matters of that kind. I can quite understand that the leaders on the other side feel that they need not consult those members of their party who accept results without inquiry, and who can be found in their places whenever they are wanted.-
– I was only putting you right.
– If the honorable senator thinks that that sort of thing will gull the public, let me remind him that the public have been informed week after week, and day after day, of the huckstering and bargaining that has been going on to bring about the coalition. Does the honorable senator deny it? Does he deny that there were messages passing to and fro, and that valuable time was wasted at the most urgent period in our history?
– We were waiting for your party to decide whether they would come in or not.
– From November 14th, when Mr. Hughes and his followers left us, and thence onward, they did not ask us, but when the two parties found that they could not come together they thought they would find a scapegoat, and invited us to join in the unseemly scramble for portfolios. They invited to join them the men whom they had condemned in all the denunciatory terms they could think of, making us out to be unworthy to be even ordinary citizens of the community - the men whom they referred to as influenced by German gold. Without an apology for their slanders, they asked us to participate with them in the government of the country. Us, whom they had termed the associates of the Industrial Workers of the World, they invited .to take the highest offices in the Commonwealth. We might be bad, but the men who, believing that we were what Mr. Hughes and Senator Pearce said we were, actually asked us to take the highest places in the land, were infinitely worse.
– That stuff is stereotyped by this time.
– A good and true thing cannot be repeated too often, and some of it will be stereotyped through the honorable senator’s electorate before this is over. We are told there is to be an appeal to the country, and we welcome it. It is what we have been demanding. It will give us an opportunity of meeting the people as we have met them for the past twenty-five years. Our platform is in print, and any man may read what is there. We will meet them with our pledge, the same as the one taken by the honorable senator before he deserted us.
– I never deserted that pledge or that platform.
– The outside management of our party is the same as it was when we were all united, and when we meet the people we shall willingly accept their verdict. We have always clamoured for government by the people, we have always demanded that the people should be allowed to know what the Government are doing. As I came by the newspaper offices I noticed an announcement that the War Conference had been postponed. Why.? I wonder whether Great Britain has heard how the majority was to be secured in order to allow the delegates to go from here? We have had a statement from the Government that the delegates would not go unless both Houses acquiesced, and now an appeal to the people is announced. I want to be quite sure that it will be so, because we are dealing with men in whose utterances we have no reason to place much confidence, unless they are so definite that there can be no backing away from them. Before the Senate expires, I hope that those responsible for the conduct of business and those in whose hands the honour of the Senate peculiarly rests will see that the statements made by Senator Watson, which, if true, reflect on members of the Senate, and, if untrue, equally reflect upon the honorable senator making them, are investigated in such a way that the public will know how to weigh and value them, and how to give their verdict upon the happenings of the last few weeks.
– Happenings have been so dramatic that I had not the opportunity of answering the Leader of the Opposition on Friday, when he made a pointed request to me to provide a pair for my col league, Senator Guy. Senator Gardiner was speaking on the motion for adjournment, and, when he concluded, the motion “ that the Senate do now adjourn,” wasput, as it was then 4 o’clock. I called “No,” but the honorable senator did not call for a division, and the sitting terminated. I desire now to state that I know that Senator Guy is genuinely ill. It is essential that that should be said to protect the honorable senator’s position, because this is a time when all kinds of imputations are being made. There is no doubt whatever that Senator Guy hasundergone several severe and hazardous surgical operations. On the day before that on which he said he was going, into the hospital, I met him in Cameron-street, Launceston, and I had a conversation with him. It was not a private conversation. There was a third person present, a young soldier who had returned from Gallipoli, and whom I had known from his boyhood. The three of us walked down the street together, and Senator Guy said to me, “ I would like to tell you that I am going into a hospital to-morrow.” I said, “ I am sorry to hear it; what is the matter?” He told me some of his symptoms. He told me that he had an enlargement of a certain gland - it frequently happens in . the case’ of elderly men - and that he would have to be operated upon. I am not a medical man, but I ventured an opinion which has since been confirmed. I mentioned that Sir Harry Barron had been subject to a similar complaint, and had had to be operated on, and I expressed the hope that the honorable senator would come out of it all right. He then said, “What about a pair?” I said, “I have no authority to grant pairs.” At that time the formal alliance between the Liberal party and the Hughes party had not been effected. I continued, “You. had better consult Senator de Largie. What do you want a pair on ? “ He replied, “I want a pair on all subjects.’* I said, “ I would like to give you a pair, but I cannot give you a pair on all subjects. My opinions are not stereotyped j they are not of that kind. I might wish to vote on the same side as yourself. X advise you to consult Senator de Largie.” The matter then passed, and we listened to the recitals of the young soldier about Gallipoli. All T wish to say is that, when Senator Gardiner pointed across to me and demanded from me a pair for his colleague, he took it for granted - which he had no right whatever to do, seeing that the motion in regard to the prolongation of Parliament had not been before the Senate for discussion - that I was going to vote on the opposite side from Senator Guy, like a machine, and, therefore, that he had what might be called a friendly fraternal call on my vote because Senator Guy is associated with me in the representation of Tasmania. As honorable senators well know, I have a full conception of the fact that I am a legislative censor, in other words, a senator, and have the right, free from party, and free from every other tie, to cast my vote from time to time according to my own judgment, and I do not come here with packets of votes cut up like sticks of barley-sugar to be retailed out as occasion serves. I desire Senator Gardiner to understand that I am nob one of those men who are wise after the event. He is not to think that I am going to say what I intended to do if certain contingencies happened, and so on. I propose to make my position absolutely clear. Irrespective of party, I place my political relationships and my duty to my country in this order : Australia and the Empire first, the State of Tasmania second, my party third, and myself a fairly close-up fourth. In this chamber I put my State before party, and I say, in justice to my leader, the other Ministers, and every honorable senator on’ this side of the chamber, that not one of them had any definite assurance from me as to how far I was going to support them in a matter of the motion for the prolongation of the life of Parliament. Let me be frank. Before these dramatic developments I had intended to vote for the motion in a certain contingency. I am nob going back to Tasmania to say, “No; I never intended to vote for the motion.” That is not my style. I intended to vote for the motion, although I did not like it, not because it is intrinsically unsound, but because I think that a motion for the prolongation of the life of a Parliament ought to be adopted with a reasonable approximation to unanimity. That is why I strove for a union of three parties, and strove for a union of two parties when the union of three could not be obtained. All other British legislatures that have adopted schemes for prolonging the life of their respective Parliaments, in con nexion with which similar motions have been submitted, have adopted prolongation with practical unanimity, as in the case of New Zealand and Canada, where there were but a lew votes in opposition. I conceived that the virtue of this motion, although it was not intrinsically unsound, could not be considered to be very great if the delegation were to go away from the shores of Australia because of the motion being carried by a vote or two. I considered that the carrying of the motion would be somewhat of a futility if it could not be agreed to by a practically unanimous Legislature. Now, that was my attitude towards the motion itself, but I believed that it was not difficult to justify it in the present condition of the Empire’s need; and I consider that the Labour party is entirely out of court when it speaks, and will speak, of a breach of our sacred Constitution being affected by its terms. They were prepared to breach Australia’s Constitution for the ostensible purpose of saving £80,000 ; in other words, 1,600,000 shillings, or about 4d. per head of the population of the Commonwealth. These are the gentlemen who regard our Constitution as sacrosanct. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.
– In what way were we prepared to do it ?
– A conference said that it was permissible, and passed a motion to that effect.
– But we were voting against it.
– What were the other developments - that you had asked v Mr. Hughes to go Home and. secure the same objective ?
– But we voted against it.
– Because it suited the honorable senator to do so.
– What about the resignation of Senator Ready?
– The honorable senator does not appreciate this, but it is good medicine for him. The great Official Labour party of Australia, which holds up the Constitution as a sacred document, was prepared to breach it to save something like 4d. per head of the population. In a certain contingency I was prepared to take the responsibility of voting for the motion for the prolongation of the life of Parliament, whether it was carried or not, although I did not like it unless it could be carried by a fairly unanimous Legislature. What was that contingency? Surely I have already indicated it. A general election is not a good thing for Australia if the Army vote of nearly 300,000 of the prime manhood of the Commonwealth cannot be recorded.
– You are following our lead.
– I am my own mentor in these matters. Long before these dramatic happenings I asked a question iu regard to the desirability of communicating with the Imperial authorities and ascertaining if the Army vote could be properly polled in connexion with an election. If an Imperial communication had come along saying that within the next two or three months, when great military operations were contemplated, it would not be possible to record the votes of Australians in the field, I would, whather the motion was carried or not, have regarded it as so intrinsically sound that I would have voted for it, and theinformation has not yet come forward. It may be that the Imperial authorities will not provide, nor allow to be provided, facilities for recording, in connexion with the forthcoming election, the vote of 300,000 of the best men Australia has produced. That is surely a sufficient indication why reasonable men, no matter what their election prospects might have been, could have voted for the motion as it stands on the notice-paper. But certain things happened. I am not one of those who impute ignoble motives to anybody. My experience of human nature is that very often it is a great deal better than it is believed to be. We are, as Tennyson says, “ a piebald miscellany.” We are patchy individuals, with good and bad intermingled, and very often the bad is not so bad as outsiders suppose it to be. Man is a very suspicious individual - no doubt because of the patchy nature of his own character - he is prone to impute wrong motives to other people, and to put an improper construction on very innocent positions. I condemn nobody, I accuse nobody, but I say that it was my intention to point out before voting that in the atmosphere of suspicion created since the Ready incident it would have been worse than useless to send the delegation home, because its status and prestige would have been materially im paired. We should have had bickerings continued in the Senate while the Imperial Conference was sitting, and when the delegation returned, bringing back the determinations of the Conference, those determinations, so far as they related to Australia’s interests, would have been suspect. It was my intention, on my honour, to point this out to the Senate when the motion came forward for consideration, and honorable senators who know me will understand that when I state a thing there is a reasonable approximation to truth in it. I do not wear the white robe of impeccability at any time. I only ask people to accept me as an ordinary man, with ordinary proportions of good and bad.
– And you would have voted against the resolution ?
– Yes, and I think the Administration knew that. At any rate they had no assurance from me, or from another honorable senator, that they would get our votes.
– Name him.
– I believe tha’t Senator Keating gave no assurance that he would vote for the resolution. I know that Senator Ferricks, with that admiration of all that is good in men, says that I came to this determination because I had seen the Hobart Mercury. He is a wonderful man, for he always imputes the highest possible motives to all people who indulge in any human action. I am what Byron calls “ a wary, cool old sworder,” and I know how to protect myself from the imputations of men like Senator Ferricks. The honorable member for Franklin, Mr. Mcwilliams, has been in constant communication with me regarding this particular resolution and the relationship that Tasmania would have to it, since the Ready business.
– You object to Ready-made senators.
– The honorable senator is joking ; I am not. Seven years ago, as Senator O’Keefe knows, when exSenator Ready was elected contrary to his own anticipations, he was so overwrought that he fainted as he did the other day, and had to go to bed for several days. Senator Ready has sometimes been a somewhat unscrupulous opponent of mine, but it is due to him, as I say it is due to Senators Long and Guy, to state that I believe he was genuinely ill.
– T - There is a vast difference between the actions of Mr. Ready and the position of Senators Guy and Long.
– I know that both Senator Guy and Senator Long are ill, and I also believe that Mr. Ready was ill a few days ago.
– I have no doubt he is ill now, and he ought to be.
– That man will have sufficient to do to live under a load of, perhaps very undeserved, insinuations that may be made against him. He has a very big burden to bear, and it may be one of the tragedies of humanity that the man honestly believed that he ought to have resigned.
– We know all about that.
– I know that Mr. Ready said he was sick, and I believe that, the real truth of the situation is that’ he wanted the Caucus to consider his position in regard to the conscription vote, and to agree to a reasonable lengthening of the life of Parliament until he had a chance of living down the opposition which his vote had aroused. He had always fought, strenuously, fanatically, and loyally for Labour and, because Caucus would not agree to that course, he became disgusted and decided to throw in his political marble. I know nothing more than that, but of a man whose reputation will be attacked for many months in this House, and against whom bitter things will be said, perhaps even after the elections, of a man who is my political foeman, I say that, knowing as much as I do about the facts of his fainting when he was victorious, I can well understand that he fainted when he came to the decision to leave political life. The rest is between himself and his conscience. In regard to yourself, Mr. President, I have been brought into close political relations with you. Until a few months ago you belonged to a party .that was opposed to me in domestic politics. I have met you many times, and I will not believe, on the unsupported statement of one man, that you said anything that was intrinsically wrong, beyond that you may have debated with a man his chances at the elections. That you, who have been admittedly Such a fine and impartial President of the Senate, would do anything derogatory to the interests of Australia is something I will not believe.
– Where did the impartiality of the President come in when he invited a man into his room to do something he ought not to have done !
– Order ! Senator Findley has interjected that the President! was guilty of calling a man into his room to ask him to do something that he ought not to do. He has made a reflection on me and my conduct as President. I ask him to withdraw that statement, in accordance with parliamentary procedure.
– Will I be allowed to state what I did say ?
– The honorable senator’s statement was plain enough, and he must withdraw it, unreservedly or not at all.
– I withdraw the statement because you say that I must, but I will take a later opportunity of telling the Senate what I did say.
– You, sir, are competent to look after your own interests. I turn now ,to the allegation as it affects Senator Pearce. He is a man whose temperament has not allowed him to come into such close relationship with me as you, sir, have done, but I apply the remarks I made in respect of you to Senator Pearce and the portfolio he holds. I do not believe that Senator Pearce would, either publicly or privately, attempt anything that he believed to be wrong. Whatever conversation took place between Senator Watson and himself was, in his belief, justified. I put that statement against the other, and I have no reason to believe that Senator Pearce has done anything for which he should lose my confidence. In regard to my leader, Senator Millen, he ig not directly concerned with the allegations that have been bruited abroad, for most of the allegations relate to what transpired before the present Government came into office.- Having said this much, honorable senators will wonder, perhaps, why I had intended, in the circumstances that have transpired since the Ready incident, to vote against the motion on the noticepaper. And lest any one should say that I am trying to get in out of the wet or do anything of that sort, I want bo say that on Friday last, after Senator Watson’s deliverance, Mr. Mcwilliams had an interview with me, and I gave him an assurance that I would do what wag right in the interests of the State and irrespective of parties. He asked me if Senator
Keating and I would join him in a telegram which he thought it necessary to send to the Premier of Tasmania. We acquiesced, and I presume Mr. Mcwilliams sent the telegram, because I have in my hand a reply to the wire sent by Mr. Mcwilliams after Senator Watson had made his charges.
– Have you any objection to making known the contents of the wire?
– Certainly not. We realized that the charges made would largely condition the political situation even if untrue, and we felt that the Premier of Tasmania should be apprised of the situation.
– There was no Hobart Mercury article then.
– No. The reply sent to Mr. Mcwilliams’ wire is not marked private, so I think I am justified in giving its contents -
Wire received from Senator Keating, Mr. Mcwilliams, and yourself. Thanks for same. Glad to know nature of charge before replying.
Notwithstanding the fact that individually we believe there is nothing in the charges, we recognised that they affected the representatives of Tasmania in this honorable Chamber, and created such an unpleasant situation for Tasmanians that we were practically compelled to resolve on a certain course of action. Everybody knows what action Mr. Mcwilliams took. That was exactly the action which Senator Keating and I contemplated in the circumstances - no cowardly denunciation of the terms of the motion, and no wishing that it would not be carried. We contemplated that line of action because of the fact that the delegation which would have left our shores would have been shorn of much of its influence, and that its members would have left Australia, so to speak, under a cloud of suspicion as regards their chief.
– It would have been utterly discredited.
– We have been told that amongst the ancients there was a certain Roman who had a wife, and that the Roman women had a ceremonial to which men were not admitted.
– Does not history say that he had a lot of wives?
– I am prepared to admit that a lot of wives could not have had abetter man. Honorable members, of course, know that I am referring to Caesar, who introduced a claim for divorce from his wife solely on the ground that at the ceremony of Bona Dea, which was entirely restricted to Roman women, a young man named Clodius had gained admission by dressing up in women’s clothes. It was not alleged that anything untoward had transpired.- Caesar asked for divorce from his wife merely because of the fact that Clodius had gained admission to the ceremony, and because, as he declared, Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion. Now, the Australian Senate must likewise be above suspicion. The events of the past few days have caused me some three or four sleepless nights, not because I believe that anything untoward has occurred, but because of the suspicion certain people attach to what has happened. I have to deal with the Tasmanian Administration. I am quite sure that the Honorable Sir Elliot Lewis is a gentleman’ without reproach. 1 am satisfied, also, that the same can be said of Mr. J. B. Hayes, Mr. Herbert Hays,, Mr. Lee, the Premier, and Mr. Propsting, also the Honorable Tasman Shields. Do honorable senators mean to say that they would do anything wrong in securing the representation of Tasmania in this Senate?
– Do you really think that Mr’. Lee, when he was called to Sydney-
– I believe that when Mr. Lee was called away hurriedly he may have been told that a vacancy was likely to occur in the Senate.
– Do you believe when he went to Sydney to see Mr. Hughes it was to talk about hops and wheat ?
– I do, because that was the question which had engaged the attention of a Tasmanian deputation in the Queen’s Hall for three or four days, and I do believe that the visit of the Premier, and that of the Honorable John Earle, who accompanied him, did a good deal to relieve the situation. When Mr. Lee was told of the vacancy, it was his duty, seeing that the State Parliament was not in session, to make the most speedy and complete arrangements for carrying out the Commonwealth Constitution, so far as concerns Tasmania’s relationship to it.
– You may believe that, but the people will not.
– I do. I simply say, however, that the atmosphere of suspicion which, rightly or wrongly, has been engendered with regard to the whole matter, would have prevented me from voting for the resolution which, up to a certain date, I had somewhat reluctantly intended to support. That is a fair and honest statement of my views.
– Then you thought the Government were culpable in this act?
– I did not think anything of the sort. I do not judge anybody like that. The honorable senator will pardon me for being somewhat disjointed, because of his interjection. I voted for the appointment of a Royal Commission to inquire into the conduct of Tasmania’s Chief Justice, a man who had been friendly and courteous to me since my boyhood. Why? Not only because I believed that he was completely innocent of the accusations being made against him, but because I had no doubt that in his position he would welcome an investigation.
– T - The man who brought charges against the Chief Justice and got the Royal Commission appointed to inquire into his conduct is now a member of a Ministry which refuses to allow an inquiry to be held.
– Hold on; that has nothing to do with me at present. I sympathize with the Prime Minister. He has been in a very difficult position, but his troubles have largely been brought on by his own irresolution. Why did he not go to Great Britain, as I suggested he should have . done, as soon as he received the Imperial invitation ? Honorable senators are not going to be placed in the position of saying that I am wise after the event Do they not know that when I spoke on “Wednesday last I was scrupulous in refraining from any allusion to the motion now on the notice-paper? Why? I had in view certain things which conditioned my acceptance or otherwise of the motion, namely, whether it was possible to poll the votes of Australia’s armies in the field or not. Mr. Hughes has been in a difficult position, but he should have gone to the Imperial Conference. I honour Senator Needham for saying, with all his political antipathy for the time being to Mr. Hughes, that he believes that Mr. Hughes should have been there. Mr. Hughes had ample time to be at the Conference at the present moment, and even if I had been brought face to face with the possibility of voting against the motion, it would have been impossible for him to charge me with having been disloyal to his representation, because he has had ample time to go to England. He made a great mistake in not having gone. There would have been no talk ‘about these conversations, almost undoubtedly wrong imputations, if he had gone.
– How can you say that when they made the same charges against Mr. Hughes during the referendum campaign? They said that he was bribed by the British Government.
– I was not aware of that.
– Who made that statement ?
– Dr. Maloney did.
– If they did make the statement, that detracts very greatly from any weight which the present charges may have. I have still sympathy with Mr. Hughes. I have no personal knowledge of the Prime Minister such as I have of you, sir, or of Senator Pearce or Senator Millen, or my other friends in the Legislature. He must defend himself ; he must clear himself from the imputations which have been made against him. But I ask honorable senators to consider whether it will be possible to have judicial investigation in regard to any matter, if there is merely the’ statement of nian against the statement of man ? After all - and this is what I intended to say this morning when the motion came on for discussion - the best thing is to let the big jury decide the matter. Let each man go on as large a platform as possible, and before as big a concourse as he can get, and justify his action, if any imputations of wrong-doing have been cast upon him.
– In addition to that, Senator Watson will shortly have an opportunity in the Law Courts to prove his statement.
– If Senator Watson is to have an opportunity in the Law Courts, that settles all difficulties. I need not further refer to the position of the Prime Minister in the matter. Let me conclude by saying that I communicated with people in Tasmania, and told them that in all probability I would have to take the responsibility of voting against the Government, that I took this action last Friday, that a telegram was sent on behalf of Mr. Mcwilliams, Senator Keating, and myself, by Mr. Mcwilliams, that I have in my pocket the answer indicating that a telegram was sent, that my action in this Chamber and my vote would not have been conditioned by anything which has appeared in the press. If I kept silence on Friday it was because the forms of the Senate debarred me from replying to Senator Gardiner, and I hope that he, who asked me for a pair for Senator Guy, will understand that it was impossible for me to pair myself with Senator Guy if I wanted to vote on the same side which Senator Guy intended to espouse. That is the situation. I welcome the election, because, when the atmosphere has been cleared, when the national gown has been put in the washing tub, the Prime Minister will, I hope, go to England with an added prestige, and the whole delegation will have a power and a force which it could not possess in the present circumstances.
– May he stop there when he goes.
– That is his own business. I wish to make a suggestion. The Liberal party attaches very great importance, and properly so, to the representation of Australia at the Imperial Conference. For some time to come the business of the Conference is likely to be of a perfunctory, or preliminary, character. And that being so, to give dignity to Australia’s position, I suggest that the man who proclaimed, on behalf of Australia, in the face of the world, the policy of “the last man and the last shilling” should be appointed to temporarily represent the Commonwealth. Nobody impugns his loyalty. He has been Prime Minister of this country, and, in order to satisfy all sections of opinion, if the Labour party is wise it will consent to the Right Honorable Sir George Reid, who has been Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, and also High Commissioner, being associated with the Right Honorable Andrew Fisher in the temporary representation of the Commonwealth until the present political atmosphere has been cleared.
– What about Sir John McCall?
– He is another worthy Australian.
– He is a good Australian.
– Is he the AgentGeneral for Tasmania?
– He is.
– I thought so.
– He is regarded as a very able man. He is a man whose political career has been absolutely without reproach ; but it may be that he is not so well known as the other two gentlemen. I will be content if the Administration does what I think it ought to do, and that is to temporarily appoint the Right Honorable Andrew Fisher and the Right Honorable Sir George Reid to be Australia’s representatives at the Conference, until a Ministerial delegation can go to the seat of Empire. I wish now to refer to my old friend and very able political opponent, Senator Earle. I escorted him into this Chamber the other day, and was very pained to notice that this gentleman, who has come, in pursuance of the operations of the Constitution, as one of Tasmania’s senators to this Chamber, was received, not with courtesy and decorum, but with unseemly interjections. I think that I owe an apology for doing on the moment what I suppose was never done before, and that is protesting to you, sir, while what should have been a dignified ceremony was taking place.
– He deserves all that he got.
– This man I have known for thirty odd years, and if ever the ‘honorable senator should be as good a man, his mother and his father,- if they should be alive, will have reason to congratulate themselves.
– You can leave them out. He was in the conspiracy with the rest of them.
– I have always been opposed to Senator Earle, and our temporary association, perhaps to be , severed when the war is over, is solely because of our belief in one cardinal factor necessary to properly expedite Australia’s assistance to the Mother Country and her duty to the Empire. He is an archconscriptionist, as I am. That is the sole bond of political relationship between us. This gentleman, who has often escorted me to my home after an adjournment of the Tasmanian Parliament, was surely worthy of my escort on first entering this Chamber as a representative of my State. The thing had no political significance. This old friend, this old mate, who has run against me in races and who has been engaged with me in prospecting, surely had a right to expect so much courtesy from me. While apologizing to you, Mr. President, and to the Senate, for having broken in with an interjection upon his taking of the oath of allegiance, I plead, in excuse, that I was provoked by the unseemly interjections of honorable senators opposite. However, the die is cast, and the political situation is to be relegated to the people. I hope, therefore, that without delay both sides will do what is necessary to provide for the holding of the elections. In no spirit of disloyalty to my leaders, but because I place State before party, without imputing ignoble motives to any one, without accepting as true charges more or less vaguely laid at the door of certain members, I had made up my mind, as I have shown, to vote against the motion of the Government for the extension of the life of the Parliament. Senator Gardiner has accepted this statement, and my explanation that, having determined to vote in that way, I could not give a pair to my sick colleague, Senator Guy.
.- I received the announcement of the VicePresident of the Executive Council with mixed feelings, though personally I was very pleased with it, because my short association with the Senate has nob been as agreeable as I should have liked it to be.- I feel that the sooner the people of Australia settle the differences between the two political parties in the Commonwealth the better, though I realize that without the prolongation of the life of the Parliament Australia cannot be directly represented by her public men at- one of the most important conferences ever held in the history of the world. I wish to refer briefly to my appointment as a senator, as erroneous ideas regarding it are floating about. Some honorable senators seem under the impression that a political plot has been hatching for some considerable time, and that I have been a party to a conspiracy. I shall leave the Prime Minister, ex-Senator Ready, and any one else who may be under the suspicion of honorable senators, to defend themselves. If there has been a plot or a conspiracy I know nothing of it. I came to Melbourne, and not even honorable senators opposite could have been more surprised than I was when informed that Senator Ready, if he had not resigned, was about to resign his seat in the Senate.
– Did the honorable senator resign his seat in the Legislative Assembly of Tasmania, before coming to Melbourne ?
– No. My resignation was sent to the Governor of Tasmania on Thursday evening. Personally I should have preferred to secure a seat in this Chamber by the election of the people. I have every confidence regarding roy position in Tasmania, and much as I honour the nomination of the Tasmanian Government, I would have preferred to be elected by the people of my State.
– But the honorable senator intends to seek their suffrages.
– Yes. I have been announced as a candidate at the next election, and was preparing for that election when I came to Melbourne. Having been informed that a senator was about to resign-
– When was the honorable senator so informed ?
– On Thursday morning. But I do not intend to submit to the cross-examination of honorable senators opposite. If there is to be an inquiry, I shall be prepared to state in detail everything that happened. At present I am making .a mere general statement. Having received the information that a senator was about to resign, and, subsequently, the information that he had resigned, together with the offer of the vacant seat if I would resign my position in the Tasmanian Parliament, I resigned, and, in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, was nominated to a seat in this Chamber. I am not here bound to any party. I do not belong to the Liberal party, nor am I with those honorable senators on the other side of the chamber who have constituted themselves a party. I do not think that the Senate should be a party House. Should it become a party House, it must be either a House of obstruction or a mere reflex of the other Chamber, and a useless appendage of it. When a political party has a majority in both branches of the Legislature, and questions are submitted to its members assembled in Caucus, its programme is decided before its presentation to Parliament, and the carrying of it is practically certain.
When under such circumstances measures have been presented to and passed through the other Chamber, what good purpose is served by presenting them to and passing them through this Chamber? Such a procedure results only in the useless expenditure of public money and the waste of public time. On the other hand, if one party has a majority in the other branch of the Legislature, and the opposing party has a majority in this Chamber, the inevitable result is that what is passed by the other branch of the Legislature is opposed and obstructed in this. In the circumstances, I say that if the Senate ia to continue to be a party Chamber, the sooner it is abolished, and the expenditure involved iu its maintenance is saved to Australia, the better. As a representative of one of the smaller States, I fully recognise the value of the Senate. In the Legislature of the Commonwealth, the smaller States have equal representation with the larger. I am nob going to defend that from the democratic point of view. I do not defend the principle that New South Wales is entitled only to the same representation in this Chamber as is Tasmania; but I say that we have that principle in operation under the Constitution, and it would be disastrous to Tasmania, and ‘the smaller States, were we to lose it. I am not going to advocate here, or from the public platform, the abolition of the Senate, but I shall advocate that it should be a non-party Chamber.
– I - It has always been a party Chamber.
– I am aware of that; and I know that, on that account, it has always been wrong. I know Senator O’Keefe’s association with it, and he knows my views, and that I recognise that it is wrong that the Senate should be a party Chamber. The present position is undoubtedly the most serious that I have ever had the opportunity to participate in. I want to declare my position here during the next month or two, and my position should the electors send me back at the next election. So far as I am personally concerned, everything that the Constitution will permit to be done, which I consider will assist Australia in any way to increase its pressure, even by one ounce, on the side of the Allies to bring about the speedy termination of the war will receive my support. It is useless for honorable senators to be fighting here over party matters while in France to-day our men are dying in defence of our Empire, and while the security and integrity of that Empire are in the balance. It is of no use for honorable senators to lose sight of that fact. I have listened to honorable senators, by interjections, conducting the most fierce party struggle across the floor of this chamber. They seem to me to be absolutely oblivious of the fact that at the present moment in Europe the very question of whether this Parliament shall continue to exist or not is absolutely being tested, and is in the balance. Their conduct has reminded me of the story of the couple who were quarrelling in an upstairs room as to how certain pictures should be hung upon the wall whilst the house was on fire in the basement. For goodness’ sake let us understand that it is the duty of every honorable member of the Senate, and of every honorable member of the other branch of this Legislature, as well as of every public man throughout Australia, to first extinguish the fire that is threatening to consume our whole nation, and then, and not until then, talk about the way we are going to hang the pictures.
– Does the honorable senator insinuate that we on this side are not in favour of extinguishing the fire?
– I should 1;ke to have a stronger demonstration from honorable senators on the other side to indicate that they recognise the serious position that we are in. I would not for a moment impute to honorable senators opposite that they are not as anxious as I, or any other man, to bring about the speedy termination of .the war; but I do honestly believe that they do not realize the serious position in which the nation stands to-day, or they would give more consideration to the question of the war than they do at the present time.
– The offering of bribes should, I suppose, be considered a part of the war policy.
– I have noticed that one member of the Senate is absolutely unguarded in his interjections in making imputations of criminal action on the part of other people. What is this bribe of which we hav& heard so much? I am very sorry for honorable senators, and for the honorable senator specially affected, if he thought the matter was serious, and that the action of the Prime
Minister and other honorable men was so corrupt, that he did not make his charge at the time. I cannot understand an honorable and sensitive man being sought by one after another-
– Nobody expects the honorable senator to understand honour and sensitiveness.
– Well, I do not know. Perhaps no one of the type of Senator Barnes would expect that. I repeat that I do not understand why an honorable and sensitive man, after being pressed consecutively by three men to do something which his conscience told him was wrong, did not there and then repudiate and hurl back upon those men the insults which they were placing upon him. According to the honorable senator’s statement, he was first approached by you, sir; then following up your conversation with him the representative of the Government in the Senate, Senator Pearce, makes further overtures to him. Having been insulted by both these honorable senators, he then goes to the Prime Minister to be further insulted by him. It seems to me so ridiculous that this young gentleman, so unsophisticated and innocent, should be walking about the victim of these ghouls, who were following him up to seduce him into evil doings.
– He was so innocent that he landed all the champion spielers.
– I do not know where that comes in. I want to make “ a brief reference to the man against whom all the hostility which has been expressed here during the last day or two has been hurled. I refer to the Prime Minister of Australia. Apart from some bitter words which the right honorable gentleman used during the conscription campaign, there is not one instance in which the Opposition can convict him of one act which they consider discreditable.Yet it would appear from the interjections and speeches of honorable senators opposite that they are perfectly willing that Australia should be represented at the Imperial War Conference provided that the representative is not the Right Honorable William Morris Hughes.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.80 p.m.
– When interrupted at the lunch hour, I was about to make some reference to the Prime Minister, whose very name seems anathema to a large number of honorable senators, or a certain number of honorable senators, on the other side. I wish to direct attention to the career of this man in Australian politics. It is well known that he came into public life about 1894; and so satisfactory was his representation of the people who elected him on that occasion, that, from then until the present time, he has never had to contest a pre-election. So able and so satisfactory, so loyal, has he been to those who elected him, that no man has ever thought it possible to obtain a pre-election in the organization to which he belongs, so as to supplant him in that electorate. On the last occasion, the present Prime Minister contested a seat for another branch of the Legislature under the leadership of the Right Honorable Andrew Fisher. A manifesto was published by Mr. Fisher, with the concurrence of his party, and signed by the secretary of the party, Mr. David Watkins, setting forth to the people of Australia that they could, without any fear or hesitation, and with all confidence, vote for the Labour party, because the first plank of that party’s policy would be the complete and efficient prosecution of the present war.
– That was the tocsin !
– That was the tocsin throughout Australia; and, so far as I remember, the manifesto declared that everything possible would be done to bring the full force of Australia into the conflict for the defence of the Empire with the Mother Country. It was further declared that the party unflinchingly subscribed to the policy as outlined by Mr. Fisher in his speech to his constituents. In that speech, words were used to the effect that Australia was behind the Mother Country to the “last man and the last shilling.”
– The Prime Minister said that he would never consent to men being sent compulsorily from Australia.
– We all have had to modify our opinions concerning conscription - there is no question about that. There are a number of men strongly opposed to conscription for compulsory military service, their objections being born of their experience - theoretical, of course - of conscription in the nations with which we are fighting. But we have had to realize that, in order to have equitable distribution of’ sacrifice - of the sacrifice which must be made by the nation - it is necessary that there should be some system of compulsory service if Australia is to do her part in this war.’
– Why not get into khaki yourself?
– What I desire is a system of_compulsion. I do not wish to have the responsibility left on my shoulders, or on the shoulders of the honorable senator, of saying when he or I have to go. I desire a system under which he and I will have to go when our turn comes. Wherever that sentiment as to “ the last man and the last shilling “ was uttered, it was cheered to the echo throughout the length and breadth of Australia. On one occasion - the first anniversary, I think, of the war, before Mr. Fisher went to England - I used the expression in Hobart, and it was cheered by thousands of people in- the streets of that city. The present Prime Minister, as we know, went to London to discuss the situation with the statesmen of the Empire. Here, in passing, I should like to say that no man in the British Empire has roused the people to the same standard of enthusiasm and of patriotic loyalty as did Mr. William Morris Hughes ; and we were all proud of his work. Honorable senators opposite, who are now so embittered against him, were also proud of the work done by Mr. Hughes in the Old Country.
– When Lord Northcliffe and his press took him up !
– Senator McKissock, amongst others, had the pleasure of being at the banquet given, I think, by the members of this Parliament to the Prime Minister on his return. At that banquet I had the privilege of speaking ; and when I used the strongest language I could in eulogy-
– On the Prime Minister’s return ? I was not there !
– Then the honorable senator missed a treat !
– I am .thankful I was not there !
– -At any rate, the Leader of the Labour party was there. I remind the honorable senator that the banquet of which I am speaking was held in the Queen’s Hall of this Parliament House.
– -The banquet was in the Town Hall, Melbourne, where the Prime Minister announced his policy.
– I am referring to a dinner in the Queen’s Hall. When the Prime Minister, as the guest of the evening, rose to respond, the guests, including honorable senators opposite, rose in their* seats, and, waving their serviettes, made a great demonstration of their approbation and admiration of the honorable gentleman. Mr. Hughes, after the fullest discussion with the responsible men of the Empire who are conducting this’ war, came to the conclusion that, if Australia had to honour the pledge given to the Old Country, some system of compulsory service must be enacted. Honorable senators know what passed and of the referendum that ensued. What crime has Mr. Hughes committed to justify the unfailing bitterness shown towards him now ? It is true, I admit, that Mr. Hughes, in prosecuting his campaign, made statements which might well be resented by honorable senators holding different opinions. But was there anything in that to so embitter them against the honorable gentleman as to make them go to the length to which the past day or two has shown they are prepared to go in order to prevent him representing Australia at the forthcoming Imperial Conference? It appears to me that they want to bludgeon Mr. Hughes, but object to him hitting back. They remind me very much of a child I saw on one occasion crying bitterly on the kerbstone, while a little boy was standing on the other side of the street. I went up to her and asked her why she was crying. Between her sobs, she explained to me that ‘ ‘ Willie would not allow her to hit him with a stick she held in her hand.” That is the position of .honorable senators opposite. If the Prime Minster would permit them to belabour him with their sticks and with their bludgeon of misrepresentation- -
– Save that for the Sunday school.
– There is no doubt about it. That has been the attitude of honorable senators all along. When the Prime Minister will not permit them to belabour him without hitting back, they scream as though they had suffered a serious injury.
– It is only a stick which he made for himself in 1893.
– But it is a stick all the same.
– I do hope that honorable senators will take a wider view of their responsibilities. We must remember that we in Australia have liberties and opportunities which no other people of the world possess to-day. We must recollect that- we are part and parcel of the British Empire, and that we owe our liberties and opportunities to the protection of that Empire. We must recognise that more than 280,000 of our men have gone forth to battle for the maintenance of the privileges which we are enjoying, and that many of them have given their lives on Gallipoli and in France in their effort to uphold them. We must realize that the British Empire to-day is in the death-grip of a relentless and remorseless foe, and that it is our duty to the Empire, and to those who are fighting for us, to take a more national view of things than some honorable senators have exhibited. We must discontinue the party bickering which has been proceeding in this Parliament for months past. I have seen a demonstration of it. Although I have had many hard party fights during my career, I have never seen anything like the bitterness that has been exhibited during the past two or three days that I have been a member of the Senate. I do appeal to honorable senators to take a more national view of their duties.
– You take a straighter one.
– My actions are absolutely straight.
– We have to find that out yet. We want a Royal Commission to discover it.
– It is very easy to find out. As far as a Royal Commission is concerned, I would welcome it.
– How does it come about that the honorable senator was here before Senator Ready had resigned ?
– I came on special business in connexion with my constituents, and knew no more than did the honorable senator of Senator Ready’s resignation until Thursday last. I have nothing more to say beyond telling honorable senators opposite that, although I would welcome any inquiry into this matter, I do not consider it is the duty of Ministers to take notice of every ridiculous charge that is made against them, and to constitute a Royal Commission to inquire into what, after all, was evidently a mere private conversation between two men.
– We really could not expect them to hang themselves.
– I do not think there is any chance of honorable senators opposite ever weaving a rope strong enough to hang either Mr. Hughes, Senator Pearce-
– Or Sir William Irvine.
–I am certain that they will not do that either. It has not been a pleasure for me to occupy a position in this Chamber. But I recognise that I have a duty to perform to my State and to the Empire, and in the discharge of that- duty I have had to endure all the insults which have been hurled against me. Had the Ministry decided to persevere with the proposal for the prolongation of the life of this Parliament, I would have done everything in my power - I would have said everything that you, sir, would permit me to say - to assist in organizing the weight of Australia so that it might be thrown into the balance on the side of the Empire for the purpose of bringing the present disastrous war to a speedy determination.
– The honorable senator would even go for conscription?
– No. The people have spoken on that question, and unless the circumstances were considerably changed, I would not go for conscription, although I believe in it so strongly. I repeat that, had the proposal for the prolongation of the life of this Parliament been pressed, I would have done everything in my power to bring about an early termination of the war.
– I regret that, in these painful circumstances, I cannot offer my congratulations to the honorable ‘ senator who has just resumed his seat.
– They can be dispensed with.
– Having regard to the circumstances in which Senator Earle entered this chamber, I should place myself in a most hypocritical position if I were to attempt to do anything of» the kind. I have risen, in the first place, to express my gratitude to the Government for their decision to bring about a general election, in order that the people may have an opportunity to select an Administration that has their confidence.
– They could not do anything else, so that no gratitude is necessary.
– I - I confess that we, on this side of the Senate, are doubly indebted to Senator Bakhap and Senator Keating in that respect. It is undoubtedly to their credit, and to the credit of the State from which they come, that they have endeavoured to redeem the position created by the fact that two of their colleagues are on the sick list at the present time. Had they taken any other course, it would have been an act of treachery towards two of their corepresentatives who are incapacitated. I wish to rebut the statements that have been made in connexion with my charges in the Senate concerning what took place between the President, the Minister for Defence, the Prime Minister, and myself. At the outset, let me say that the remarks of the President were concise, and that he practically maintained an ominous silence that was, perhaps, more suggestive than words. The statement as made by the President was that he was always under the impression, and he hoped it would always be so, that everything said within the privacy of his own room or home was sacred and confidential.
– So it is with honorable men.
– In that I join issue with the President. As to the sacredness of friendship, I entered the President’s room as a friend, and I left it as such. I had not the slightest conception that anything said to me by him was with a view of trying to create a position for political purposes. Such a thought did not at that time dawn upon me. The conversation was of a friendly character, and, so far as the President was concerned, assumed the tone of a man who sought to advise a younger member of the Senate, whose future practically depended upon what position he took up in respect to the question of the prolongation of Parliament. I believed in the sincerity of the President, whom I have learned to respect since I entered this chamber. He has been most solicitous in seeking to win the approbation and the goodwill of senators, according to my judgment, and I never for one moment questioned his fidelity. Anything that he said to me, therefore, was, as far as I could see, purely in a spirit of deep friendship.. After the charges that were made last Friday morning - during the adjournment for luncheon - the President met me as I was leaving the dining hall, and asked me to speak with him a moment. We at once sat down, and he told me deliberately that it was not to be regarded as a private interview; that I was at full liberty to make use of anything he might say. He said that I had not done him justice in the statement I had made. I asked, “ In what way?” He stated that what he had said to me was not in the way of asking or suggesting that I should vote for the Government; that he had offered me no personal inducement; and that he was most particular in emphasizing that fact. I at once agreed with the President that every word that he said in that regard was perfectly true, and I told him that I was prepared to make that acknowledgment on the floor of the Senate. But I also cited to him the fact that during that conversation he had stated that, should the members of my party turn me down as the result of my voting for the prolongation of Parliament, and should I choose to run as an independent Labour candidate, he thought he could manage to get the other side to withdraw any opposition to that candidature. I said I could not think of such a thing. I did not lose my temper. I did not become angry, because I still thought that there was only one purpose in his mind, and that that was to preserve me from what he thought would be my downfall.
– This did not appear in the honorable senator’s original statement.
– It did not. Since Senator Lynch has raised that question, may I say that I rose in my place on Thursday night to make my statement on the motion for the adjournment. Unfortunately, the Standing Orders were against me, and T was not permitted to go on. Had I been allowed on Thursday night to make my statement immediately after the President had given notice of the resignation of Senator Ready, it would have been extempore. I had made no notes; I had made no preparation. But the paper which I read in the Senate on Friday was prepared in order that I might have everything concise, because I knew the character of some of the men I had to face on the opposite benches. I knew what disturbing elements there were to face, and I was determined to have everything in black and white, so that I could not be sidetracked in the recital of my statement. When I look at some honorable senators opposite, and particularly at Senator Lynch, I thank God it has been my privilege for over twenty years to warn men to flee from the wrath to come. I am quite satisfied that if I had to live in eternity with such a man it would be hell, and more than hell, to me. My statement was prepared only after my attempt to address the Senate on Thursday night, and to then put before honorable senators the facts that I read on Friday morning. As a matter of fact, I was three minutes late in entering the chamber on Friday. The last stroke of the typewriter was placed upon that paper just as the clock turned 11 a.m. I was most anxious to complete the statement in order that I might enter the chamber, so that if there was any omission from it - if there was anything that I failed to state - it was due to the fact that I did not pretend that it was a complete statement of everything that transpired. I do not claim to have a photographic memory, I do not claim to be other than an ordinary man, and many things said during a conversation will occur to one months after their utterance. Something will come to your memory, that did not previously occur to you, and, as a result of that, you may have something very important to disclose. I have endeavoured to give an account of everything that was said, so that I might complete my statement. My reference to you, Mr. President, waa not with a view of indicting you of an offence, nor was my reference to Senator Pearce made with that object in view. The purpose I had was to give a collected statement regarding the circumstances which had led up to the present crisis; and I endeavoured to do it as humbly and as correctly as I possibly could. When I heard of the resignation of Senator Ready, our party had a meeting that same evening, and I went to the meeting and told them just what I knew concerning this matter. It took me twenty minutes to tell that story. I could just as easily have come here, and, in a twenty-minutes address, recited verbatim what I had just previously told my comrades.
– And I suppose the party demanded that you should make that statement here?
– The members of the party who heard that statement at the party meeting were just as much taken by surprise as were the members of the Senate. Except the few friends that I had taken into my confidence, not one member of that party’ meeting had the slightest conception of what was going to take place. There was no talk about “being in the bag” ; it was not a question of “being in the bag,” but a question of something coming out of “ the bag.” When I made that statement to the meeting, I did it with the same feeling of regret as animated me in my attitude in this chamber. I am not the kind of man that seeks to create strife, or to dismember any section of the community by reiterating gossip. I have been a lover of peace, a man seeking to serve and consolidate the best interests of the community, during the whole course of my life.
– You are too good for this world.
– I certainly feel that I live on a higher plane than Senator Lynch.
– I can see the budding halo round your head.
– I can see the sparks flying from the honorable senator already. I had previously told my own colleagues who are with me on this side of the chamber exactly what took place. I had my first conversation, I think, with Senator McDougall, and told him how matters stood in regard to certain conversations I had with the President, and also what had taken place between myself and Senator Pearce. When I had to go to see the Prime Minister, I called Senator McDougall out of the Senate club-room, and told him I had been asked to see the Prime Minister, and that I was going there now. When I returned, I called him out again, and we went and talked in a room concerning what had taken place, and I detailed to him just what I have told the Senate. We recognised the seriousness of the position, and saw exactly the difficulties of making a statement on a matter of that kind in the Senate, having no evidence and no proof, and having to face a man of the calibre of William Morris Hughes, one of the trickiest lawyers that we have in the
Commonwealth. We recognised that it would indeed be a most difficult and trying ordeal for any man to undergo. We saw that my word would bie discounted, while his would probably be accepted. I had also to regard the fact that no one was injured by the interviews I had had up to that point, and there was only one man affected - myself. What was said to me had no influence on me, and did not tempt me in any degree. It could not tempt me, because I am not built that way. I have a conscience, and that to me is of more consideration than any emoluments that can come to me in public or . private life. Mr. Hughes professes to have known me for twenty-five years. I should like to correct the honorable gentleman, as I was introduced to him only during the general elections of 1910. He certainly knew members of my family, and I heard him speaking in the public parks of Newcastle twenty-five years ago, but I had no acquaintance with him at that time. His ultra-socialistic views did not suit my line of thought, and. I certainly have never subscribed to the opinions that he held in those days. Had he continued on that course I could no more have followed him than I can follow him now. Mr. Hughes does not question what I have stated. Senator Pearce in his speech says -
Senator Watson’s account of the events leading up to the interview he had with the Prime Minister, and as to the telegrams, is perfectly accurate, except in one significant detail. That bears on what Senator Watson said to me in the Senate, to which I will refer later. When Senator Watson and myself had an interview on these benches, I told him that, as one of the managers of our party, I knew what policy had been agreed to as the policy of the Coalition Government, if it was formed, and that, speaking to him as a Labour man, I could assure him that there was nothing in that policy that he, as a Labour man, could not support.
Those words were uttered by the Minister to me from those benches, and I did not respond to them. He also states in his speech - ;
I told him that when the announcement of policy was made, and the Coalition Government was formed, it would give him an opportunity to put himself right with his own conscience.
I am amazed at the anxiety of these people regarding my conscience. It is most interesting to find Senator Pearce and Mr. Hughes so concerned about it. I would tell those honorable gentlemen that
I have committed my conscience to a higher tribunal than they can ever set up, and that I am not here to respond to their appeals and propositions concerning my duty to my conscience. I deliberately say here and now that I have never given to Senator Pearce or any other living man the right to say that I was pursuing a course which I believed to be contrary to my conscience. I have lived a life of endeavour to be a conscientious man above all things. That has been the standing rock upon which I have endeavoured to build my character. I have a character of which I am not ashamed. It was my character more than my words that brought me here, and that put me into the miners’ presidency in the Newcastle district.
– An accident.
– It was an accident that the honorable senator was born. As I have just said, my election to the presidency of the Miners’ Federation was won without my having to go upon any platform, or ask a single man to vote for me, and was gained by a majority of 275 votes over one who had held the position for five years. When I again contested the election, twelve months later, I scored a majority of 1,525. Afterwards I was never opposed, and I could have remained in that presidency as long as I chose to serve the organization, but I considered that I was honouring its members, as well as the manhood of this country at large, by seeking to serve in these halls, and to do here what I could on behalf of the working classes. If it be an accident to come through all these gates into the highest position that a man can occupy in the Commonwealth, that of receiving the confidence of the people of the State to which he belongs, then I confess to that accident, but it is one of which I am proud . It has crowned my life, and made me feel that I can stand in equality with those men who interject with such frequency from the other side of the chamber. I utterly repudiate the contention of Senator Pearce and Mr. Hughes, that I gave them any groundwork for believing that I was with them, and that I was acting hypocritically towards the party to which I belong. Since the recruiting campaign began I have been going from place to place advocating recruiting, and I have not ceased appealing to the manhood of this country to fight our bitter and unrelenting foe; but I have done so without in any way advocating that the manhood of the Commonwealth should be conscripted. I concur with the statement of Mr. Hughes, made twelve months ago, that if the men of our country were not prepared to come forward, the country was rotten to the core, and not worth fighting for. I hold that our principles are worth standing for, and that our country is worth fighting for ; our institutions are worth a struggle to maintain, and I can give no better evidence than the fact that all that I can give have gone into the firing line to fight, and, if need be, lose their lives in defending their home and their country. But I am here to defend my honour. That which was told to me in the secrecy of the President’s room, or by Senator Pearce upon these benches, or whispered in the Premier’s room, under lock and key, with the secretary expelled, lest he should hear what was being said, I cannot regard as being words upon which I should maintain secrecy, or upon which I should respect any confidence. I could not maintain my manhood and look my fellows in the face if, as a result of that privacy and confidence, I withheld from the country
– Does not the honorable senator belong to a secret society?
– Where does the honorable senator expect to go when he dies?
– I hope that I shall not go where the honorable senator goes. Any obligation that rested upon me to keep secret what had been told to me, I was released from, by the fact that a young man, who bid fair to occupy a high and exalted position in the life of this country, has been blighted at the commencement of his career, and ruined for all time, and can never raise his head again in public life through having created for himself the position in which he now finds himself, dishonoured and disgraced.
– A minister of religion should not judge the matter harshly.
– I am here in all charity.
– Then talk charitably.
– I speak in all seriousness. This is not a matter with which we can afford to trifle. The sneers or jeers of honorable senators cannot sidetrack me or divert me from the path which I wish to pursue. The circumstances surrounding the resignation of Senator Ready created an impression and established a conviction in the public mind.
– Be charitable; you said that you would be charitable.
– If charity had to be extended to the likes of the honorable senator, I should wish to be relieved of any obligation along those lines. Senator Ready knew well that if illness had overtaken” him he could have secured a pair, particularly as he was Whip. Surely there is no man so dead to feeling but would have, if approached by a sick man, whose heart was affected, and who was in the condition of health of Senator Ready on Thursday last, willingly granted him a pair. In any case, Senator Ready need not have asked leave of the Senate for a considerable time. He could have remained absent right up to the date of the elections without asking for leave. But he did not do this. On the other hand, when a crisis arose, and a position to which he was opposed had to be determined, his resignation was suddenly handed in, and on the next day his successor walked into this chamber - a “ready-made earl.” For the first time an earl graces the sacred precincts of this chamber. No doubt some of my friends opposite would be pleased if all who came to this Chamber were earls and dukes. When Federation was being advocated the question of a peerage in this Chamber was raised, but Democracy obtained the supremacy, and in this House, which represents the interests of the States, we have the representation of the Democracy of the Commonwealth’, though it has been misplaced so far as some honorable senators are concerned. However, that question will be determined at the elections within the coming months. I wish also to make reference to a statement made by a knighted gentleman in another place, Sir William Irvine, and repeated in this Chamber by Senator Earle, that I allowed fourteen days to pass without making the matter known. But no one knows better than the constitutional lawyer of Australia that, had I dared to stand up here and breathe such a sentiment, I would have been hounded down from one end of the country to the other, and would not have been able to stand on any public platform after having assailed a man who occupied such an exalted position, and who was about to embark on a voyage to represent the Commonwealth at the seat of the Empire. May I be pardoned for saying that I yield to no man in the desire to see this country represented at the Imperial Conference, but I question the delegation that we are sending. It is not a true reflex of the views of the people of the Commonwealth.
– Will the honorable senator make his charges outside the Chamber, where he will have no protection?
– Will the honorable senator make a charge inside the Chamber?
– In his first address in this Chamber Senator Earle made reference to the fact that I allowed two insults to be offered to me before I accepted the third, that in the first instance I received an insult from the President, and took it calmly without the slightest remonstrance or indignation, that I again went to Senator Pearce and allowed the insult to be repeated, and that I went to Newcastle, and on my return went hunting for the Prime Minister in order to be insulted again. That sounds nice in the public ear, but I wish to place before the people exactly what occurred. When the President asked me to meet him in his room, and he spoke to me as a friend, I accepted with grace everything he said. I did not agree with him, but it is not my wont or temperament to enter into a dispute with any man who calls me into conversation. I have never been of that controversial order; and unless I feel that I have a subject on which I can speak, I am practically a silent man in conversation, as most of my friends who know me well will admit. Perhaps that accounts largely for my remaining silent in public life as much as I do. I am prepared to speak whenever the occasion demands, but I am not a man hunting for notoriety. It must come to me without that selfseeking which characterizes some honorable senators.
– You turned your friend the President into a conspirator.
– I did nothing of the kind. I connected him with the story only because I could not leave him out. When Senator Pearce spoke to me on this matter it was in the most casual way. I had received that afternoon a letter concerning a woman who was seeking an allowance from a man at the front. He had married her while he was in camp, and had not arranged to transfer the allowance from his mother to. his wife. There had been previous correspondence on the subject. The woman concerned is Mrs. Ball. I mention the name so that the Minister may have an opportunity of verifying my statement. I had received certain testimonials as to the woman’s character, and proof that she was bond fide the wife of this soldier. The allowance to the man’s mother has since been cancelled, and Mrs. Ball is now in receipt of the money to which she is entitled. I was anxious that the Minister should receive the documents, and having to catch a train within halfanhour, I walked across^ to him and asked him to receive the letters. A conversation resulted, during which I commiserated with him on account of the load of care and business which he had upon his shoulders in the performance of his work. I have been on terms of the most intimate friendship with both you, Mr. President, and Senator Pearce ever since I became a member of the Senate. I admit that the temperament of Senator Pearce is, as was stated by Senator Bakhap, of a nervous kind, something like my own, and when two nervous men get together they sometimes find it hard to commence a conversation. It takes a man like Senator Lynch to conduct a conversation that does not affect anybody’s nerves.
– A highly moral man like you.
– There is not much morality in Senator Lynch. Senator Pearce turned from the observation I had made to him, and asked me how I would fare at the election. I said that I did not know. He said, “I do not think you have a million-to-one chance of winning.” Then he recited to me the programme of the National party, which has since been disclosed, and said that there was nothing in it to which a Labour man could not subscribe. I listened to what the Minister had to say with the utmost deference, as I would listen to any man who was speaking to me in the manner and sense in which he was speaking. He was not speaking to me other than as a friend, and I accepted all he had to say, notwithstanding that I did not agree with it, without controversy or response. That I asked him not to reveal anything that I had said to him I flatly deny as being a gross misrepresentation of the truth. I said nothing to him that I could ask him to keep secret, and I positively assert that nothing I said to the President or the Minister for Defence affecting the interests of the country, the public life of the Commonwealth, or my own public career, would in any way embarrass me or place me in an ignominious position if disclosed to the people. I make that statement knowing that I have to face a higher tribunal than that with which I was threatened by Senator Millen. He told me that the law courts are awaiting my statement. I neither fear the frown nor court the smile of any man. If I have said or done any wrong that would commit me to punishment, and’ cause me to endure any privations, let me suffer the just penalties of the law. But I stand not in fear of the law. I repudiate the statement of Senator Pearce that I asked him to conceal something I was alleged to have said, and which would reflect on my honour and integrity. The Prime Minister has stated that having known me and my predilections he had advised me for my own good. I can only repeat that I do not thank these gentlemen for their kind solicitations on my behalf, because it is quite evident that they aimed at one point for me and two for themselves - that they were asking me to do something that would have shattered and blighted my whole career; that would have made me regarded as a contemptible cur amongst my fellows, and a traitor to the party to which I belong. I have previously stated that when the hour arrives that I can no longer follow the party to which I belong I will act honorably, hand back the trust my constituents have reposed in me, and surrender the position I hold at their hands. That hour has not yet arrived, and I trust it never will. I was cradled in unionism; I was reared in the ranks of the toiling ‘masses. Knowing the struggles and trials of the poor I give place to no man in my sympathy for them, and my efforts will ever be directed in their behalf. The mandate of the people shall, be to me as a command, and if I am not prepared to carry out those principles in this Chamber, then let me walk out and become again the plebian I was before I was elected.
– God help the poor who are dependent on you.
– I ask Senator Lynch not to interject.
– God help the poor who have anything to do with Senator Lynch. Here is another statement by the Prime Minister which I am not going to allow to pass unchallenged -
I speak to a man whom I have known for 25 years, who detested the course he was compelled to pursue, and who only pursued it because it was bringing £600 a year.
Thank you, Mr. Hughes ! I give this lie back in your teeth. It is a vindictive lie. He never had any right to talk to me about doles. I know the position from which Mr. Hughes has sprung, and no man could have had greater admiration for him than I ; but when he dares to tell me that, after having worked for twenty-five years as a miner in the bowels of the earth, I am here simply because of the monetary value of the position to me, and that I am here only to advance my own interests, I say, “ Thank God, I never fell into his clutches, and became a victim of his mercenary motives.” Anything that I have received by way of monetary consideration has come to me as a free gift from the people, and as a return for the services which they think I am capable of rendering for them, and not for playing a role of catspaw for Mr. Hughes or any other man in the public life of this country. I am prepared to take my oath upon anything that I have said concerning what took place between Mr. Hughes and myself. Every word that I have said is true to the very letter.
– You say it outside !
– If it were not for the bonds of law that would not only suck the life’s blood out of me, but out of the men I am here to represent, I would willingly stand upon any platform in this country, and give utterance to every word that I have said here. This is the only protection that can be afforded to me, but I challenge the Government, if they want my sworn testimony, to appoint the Royal Commission which has been asked for by the Leader of the Opposition. They will then give to the people of this country the right to have my statement, sworn on oath, upon the annals of the Commonwealth. I swear by heaven and earth that my words are true. I have never sought to injure any fellow-being since I knew what reason was. It has always been my endeavour to shield a weaker brother, and to encourage those who were down. No one feels more keenly than I do this great crisis which has come into my life. I am a man who has never sought publicity or notoriety; and I tell honorable senators that no greater trial could have come into my life than that which is upon me to-day, owing to the uncertainty of the fate of two brave lads of mine who are fighting in the trenches at the present time. No time in my life could have been more inopportune for such a burden of responsibility as that which now falls upon me. Knowledge of the truth of what I say, and the consciousness of having done that which is right in the sight of God and man, alone support me in this tragic hour of my life. I am conscious, however, that right will triumph, and that nothing that my enemies or opponents can do to me will injure me in the slightest degree. I feel that, being in the right, I shall be able to surmount the difficulties which beset me at the present time, and prove to the world that the good name which I have maintained for over thirty years in the Newcastle district, lives throughout the Commonwealth, and that I shall be able to hand down to my children that unsullied character which I have borne since the days of their infancy, when they were dependent upon me. I have nothing further to add, except to re-affirm all that I have said. I defy those who are opposed to me to damn my reputation in the eyes of the people of this country. I have nothing to fear. I have spoken truly as an honest man, wishing to do right in the sight of all men.
– I did not propose to take any part in the debate but for the very pointed references to myself made by Senator Watson; and I think it is due to the Senate that I should make a personal explanation with regard to the matter. Senator Watson said just now that I met him during the luncheon hour on Friday, and had a conversation with him, and that I prefaced my remarks by saying, “ This is not a private conversation.” That is quite true. I took that precaution. In the course of our conversation, I asked him why, when he was telling his story in the Senate, he did not tell the whole truth with regard to myself. I asked him, “Do you not remember my saying to you, and especially impressing upon you, that I did not ask or suggest to you that you should ever vote for the Government or support the Government except on this one question which concerned yourself?” He said, “Yes; I remember that perfectly.”
– I have already said that.
– But not in those precise terms. I neither asked Senator Watson, nor suggested to him that he should support the Government on any other question ; and I am not going, either by hint or suggestion, to indicate anything that Senator Watson said to me in the privacy of my room on the particular occasion referred to.
– Why not?
– Because all the dictates of honour and manliness prevent it. That is why.
– You are all honorable men.
– I ask the honorable senator to examine for a moment the truth of the statement made by Senator Watson, and see how much reliance can be placed upon it. In the course of his speech just now, he said that the reason why his explanation was delayed on Thursday evening was that he was engaged up till the last minute - till 11 o’clock - in putting the finishing touches to his typewritten statement.
– H - He said the Standing Orders prevented him that night.
– As you remember, I had spoken on the motion for adjournment, and, therefore, I could not speak again.
– The honorable senator said that he wanted to speak on Thursday night. He knows that he could not have spoken on Thursday night, but he said that he was prepared to make an ex tempore statement then.
– On Thursday night-, that is so.
– He had the document in his hand.
– Nothing of the kind.
– If we had. a Royal Commission appointed bo examine into this matter, and find when and how that statement was made-
– Let us have a Royal Commission.
– So far as I am concerned, the public of Australia will find that there is at least one man who is not afraid to face the music. I have taken action to-day which will enable the whole question to be threshed out in the Law Courts, and Senator Watson will have a full opportunity of going into the witness-box and stating the whole thing, and subjecting himself to that crossexamination to which every witness must be subjected to establish his veracity.
– Let us have a Royal Commission. Will you vote for that?
– We want a Royal Commission concerning yourself.
– Senator Findley is so used to instant compliance that he thinks that he has a right to demand of me how I would vote, and that I ought to comply with his request. I exercise an independent deliberative vote in this assembly, and I intend to exercise my vote as I think proper on every question as it arises. I am going to take other action to afford Senator Watson and everybody else an opportunity to get into the witness-box and to say everything they know with regard to me and my connexion with this matter. Senator Watson, amongst others, will have that opportunity.
– What does Senator Pearce say to that?
– I am concerned with myself. My honour as President has been impugned. I say here and now that I have never had any connexion with any conversations between Senator Pearce and Senator Watson, or between Mr. Hughes and Senator Watson. What I said to Senator Watson I said to him and to other senators, and I say to them now, that in their own interests they are fools.
– Oh ! go on.
- Senator Findley sneers. The other day he was at the heights in denunciation of honorable senators on this side, including myself, because we would not join with him in singing a chorus to a hymn of hate of Mr. Hughes. We have heard a lot about conscience here to-day. We have heard Senator Findley say in the chamber, “What about the £200 that exSenator Ready sacrificed ? What about his conscience in giving that up?” Let us remember what he-
– I hope that you will get out of the chair if you are going to make a personal attack, because I have something to say about you.
– You can make the attack.
– Do not do what you are doing as President and then ask the protection of the Senate.-
– All right, I will get out of the chair.
– I think that somebody ought to take the chair now.
– That cannot be done.
– I rise to order. My point of order, if I can state it to you, sir, is that you cannot vacate the chair and exercise your right as an individual senator without somebody having the power and the authority to decide points of order which may be raised.
– It was laid down by the first President of the Senate, Sir Richard Chaffey Baker, that, as the President had a deliberative vote, that necessarily carried with it the right to a voice in the deliberations, and on more than one occasion he exercised that voice. It is quite true that it is a right which should be sparingly used, because it is not proper that the Presiding Officer should take part in the turmoil of a publicdebate on the floor of the chamber. It does not make for good order, and inasmuch as Senator Findley will not permit me to make a statement-
– No, I do not stop you. I do not want you to occupy a double-barrelled position, though.
– As the honorable senator evidently desires to throw obstacles in my way-
– No, far from that.
– Necessarily, to . maintain the good order of this debate, I will have to forego my right. Probably another occasion will arise.
– It is not necessary to forego your right because I have raised a point of order.
– There is no other reason why I have to forego my right.
– The President is being attacked and denied the right to reply.
– Oh, no.
– He is getting off the track.
– As regards my getting off the track, on this motion every honorable senator has the right to speak on every conceivable subject. I only intervened, because special and pointed reference was made to myself by Senator Watson. His whole statement involves the relations between honorable senators and myself, and between honorable senators and the Government. The friendliest relations have always existed between honorable senators and myself. My room has been free to every honorable member of the Senate to come in and talk over the political situation, as they frequently have done, every man of them, on both sides of the chamber. Senators belonging to the Official Labour party, senators belonging to the Hughes Labour party, and senators belonging to the Liberal party, have come in there and freely and safely discussed every aspect and phase of the political situation; and I hope that, so far as I am concerned, no whisper of suspicion will attach to anything which has ever occurred there. Senator Watson himself has admitted here that I impressed upon him that I did not want to influence him in any way, that I did not ask him to leave hh party, that I did not ask him either to vote for the Government or to support them, and that all I did was to say, “ your own interests you might be well advised to vote for a prolongation of thu life of Parliament.” I have said that to other honorable senators. I have a perfect right to discuss every point of the political situation with any honorable senator. When anybody imputes anything improper to me, I have a perfect right to resent the imputation, and I do resent it.
– Senator Watson said that the conversation was carried on in a spirit of friendship.
– That is so; I never denied that.
– I am not going to say anything about the conversation. So far as I am concerned, not a hint will ever fall from my lips as to anything which occurred in the conversation. I have made that statement before. Beyond that, I give the whole statement of Senator Watson an emphatic denial. I have taken other steps to protect my honour and the honour of the Senate. Senator Watson indulged in a long eulogy of himself and the impeccability of his nature. With that I have nothing to do. I am the judge of no man, but I claim the right to protect myself from a statement like that of Senator Watson, where he attempted to connect me with something improper, because no such connexion can be shown by him or by anybody else.
.- I think that Senator Watson set out on a very difficult task when he attempted to convince the Senate, and, perhaps, may I say, to convince himself, that he was pleased at the. approach of the elections.
– Some of us have been asking for an election ever since the 28th October.
– Yes, and praying that the request would not be granted. I think that it is not beside the mark to say that the bomb-shell which our honorable friends on the other side received this morning was most unwelcome.
– Which you were compelled to throw. Two members of your own party were going to vote against you.
-Neither I nor Senator Millen knew that Senator Bakhap and Senator Keating were going to vote against the motion for the prolongation of the life of the Parliament.
– That is correct, so far as I am concerned.
– I had no knowledge how those honorable senators would vote; and Senator Millen, when I asked him to-day, said that he did not know how they would vote.
– And I did not know.
– Therefore, the decision of the Government was not affected in the manner suggested. It would have been arrived at had both Senator Keating and Senator Bakhap announced their intention of voting for the motion. I wish to say a few words regarding the second chapter of Senator Watson’s history. He told us to-day that, on Thursday night, he was ready to make an ex tempore statement, but that he had the whole of Thursday night to think over that statement, and that he reduced it to writing on Friday. That gave him ample time to give full consideration to the whole matter. Yet his speech to-day showed his original statement to be full of gaps.
– There will be a few more gaps.
– I believe that there will be a few more gaps to be filled. It is significant that Senator Watson, after full consideration, made a statement containing gaps which he could fill only after you, Mr. President, and myself had reminded him of them. It does not need much effort of the imagination to discover how he came to make his original statement. Honorable senators opposite have tried to connect it with the resignation of Mr. Ready.- They may fool those who have not been members of the Labour Caucus, but they cannot in that way fool those of us who have been. Early last week, and prior to the statement of Senator Watson, Senator Gardiner, the Leader of the Official Labour party in this House, said that rumours were freely circulating to the effect that there were honorable senators on his side who were “ in the bag.” Is it probable, after such a statement, that there would not be an inquiry by the party as to who was likely to be “in the bag”? Senator Watson said to-day that there was a meeting of his party last Thursday night. For what purpose ? To discover who was ‘ ‘ in the bag.” The statement that he made on Friday is, no doubt, the statement that he made at the meeting on Thursday night, to establish his innocence. He was suspect. No doubt the party said to him, “ The only way in which you can clear yourself is to repeat that statement in the Senate to-morrow.” The statement was reduced to writing, and, by means of it, Senator Watson saved himself from being compelled to’ walk the plank. It was the result of the application of the third degree to him at the meeting of his party on Thursday night. Senator Watson, according to himself, is a man of high honour, of the noblest sentiments, and oT keen and alert conscience. Is it conceivable that a man of that type, having been offered a bribe, could keep silence concerning the matter for nearly a fortnight, especially if that bribe had been offered to him by the Prime Minister of Australia - the Leader of the party to which he says he was absolutely opposed ? Senator Watson knew that he had only to prove the statement to blast for ever the reputation of the Prime Minister, and, by bringing him down, to bring down his Government. He knew, moreover, that it was his duty, as a member of this Parliament, to at once make the facts known. Yet this man of high motives, of keen honour, and fine conscience, could sleep contentedly for a fortnight without making the matter known.- It was only after the third degree had been applied to him by the Caucus that he summoned up courage to do his duty in the matter. Senator Watson has not explained the lapse of time to which I refer. He has not told us why it did not occur to him to make the statement till after the resignation of Mr. Ready. It is to be assumed that, if Mr. Ready had not resigned, Senator Watson would have carried his awful secret in silence for ever. The Prime Minister - this corrupt individual who tried to bribe that high-souled individual opposite - would have gone to Great Britain as a representative of Australia, and Senator Watson would have said nothing. Does the honorable senator expect us to believe that, or does he think that the country will believe it? If so, he thinks that we are all very simple. He objects to the criticism that he deliberately placed himself in the way of temptation. But, on his own showing, he must have regarded you, Mr. President, the Prime Minister, and myself as suspect so far as our moral intentions were concerned. Does his tender conscience prompt the honorable senator to avoid us? Not at all. On the contrary, he seeks us.
– The honorable senator sent for me.
– The honorable senator came to me to talk about Defence matters. His statement to-day on this point is quite correct. On the occasion referred to we did talk over the case which the honorable senator has mentioned. Then I proceeded to talk over this other matter, on which I had previously conversed with the honorable senator, not once, but two or three times. When I again, on this occasion, broached the subject, did this gentleman with the high sense of honour and the tender conscience rush away from me as from a person of evil disposition ? Did he say to me, “ I must leave you; you will contaminate me”? Did the honorable senator rush across to the other side of the chamber to escape my evil influence? No, he remained and discussed the question with me. When, as a result of that conversation, I formed the opinion that Senator Watson wanted to come with us, I sent him the telegram which has been referred to in order that he might meet the Prime
Minister in Sydney. When that visit of the Prime Minister to Sydney was cancelled, and Senator Watson met me again, I put the proposition before him that he should go and see the Prime Minister on the matter we had been discussing. Did the honorable senator then, with his high sense of honour, scout that proposition? Not at all. Not only did Senator Watson go willingly to see the Prime Minister, but he went after consultation. He tells us to-day that he asked Senator McDougall to come into a room, and that by themselves they talked the matter over.
– That was after I had seen the Prime Minister.
– I understood the honorable senator to say that he consulted Senator McDougall before he went to see the Prime Minister.
– No, I told Senator McDougall, in the club-room, that I had been asked by you to go and see the Prime Minister, and that I would go and see him. When I came back I took occasion to call Senator McDougall into a room and told him what took place.
– I accept the honorable senator’s statement. He informed Senator McDougall that he had been sent for, no doubt in doing so telling the honorable senator why he had been sent for. Then he goes to the Prime Minister, the arch-tempter of all ! Senator Watson, the unsuspecting, the innocent, this virgin of honour, goes to place himself in the awful presence of the arch-tempter of all ! Having had this great temptation placed before him, the honorable senator comes back. Does he reject the temptation ? Does he announce to the world that he has been tempted, and denounce the tempter? Not at all. In the secret recess of some room in Parliament House he discusses the question with Senator McDougall. Then, honorable senators should bear in mind that nothing happened even after that conference with Senator McDougall. Time goes by, and it is not until the third degree has been applied to Senator Watson by the Caucus that he comes down here and makes his statement. When, after all this, Senator Watson comes before us and speaks about his conscience and his high ideals of honour, there is some reason to doubt the valuation put upon these virtues of the honorable sena tor by himself, and also the value which the public will be likely to put upon them.
– We shall risk all that.
– Unfortunately for Senator Turley, our honorable friends opposite have no choice in the matter. They have to risk it. Senator Findley is taking a very important part in this matter. He is another high-souled gentleman, with great ideas of honour, especially where money, and particularly public money, is concerned. He has had something to say about Senator Ready’s resignation. The honorable senator looks at it from the monetary point of view. He says, “Here is an honorable senator who had £200 more salary coming to him if he had hung on to his job.” The honorable senator says that because a man gives up £200 he must have received something worth more than £200. That is Senator Findley’s standard of honour.
– I know what is coming?
– I do not doubt for a moment that the honorable senator knows what is coming.
– The story is as old as the hills.
– I think that the public to whom Senator Findley on Saturday night appealed on these monetary grounds, should be informed of the attitude which the honorable senator takes up on these questions. Some years ago the members of this Parliament were paid a salary of only £400 a year. It was found to be inadequate, and a Bill was brought forward to increase the amount to £600 a year. When the Bill reached the Senate, one of its most implacable opponents, and the one who denounced it as an act of robbery, was Senator Findley.
– He was the only Labour man who did so.
– Yes, the honorable senator stood out from his party to denounce it.
– I rise to a point of order. I have no feeling in this matter at all, but my point of order is that if my remarks are to be quoted they should be quoted correctly. I challenge the Minister for Defence to prove that I said, that the proposal was wholesale robbery. My contention was that it should be sub- mitted to the people by way of referendum.
– Honorable senators present who were members of the Senate at the time will remember the fine assumption of righteous indignation with which Senator Findley denounced that Bill. He fought it implacably, and announced that he would not draw apenny of the increased pay. That Bill was passed in the teeth of Senator Findley’s most strenuous opposition. The honorable senator did not draw his extra pay. Singular to say, the amount involved, £200, was the same as the honorable senator has said would be due ex-Senator Ready if he had not resigned -the difference between £600 and £400. When the elections came along Senator Findley got all the kudos attaching to the high-souled individual who not only fought the Bill, but refused to take the increased pay. But all that time the increased ,pay was steadily banking up in the Treasury, and as soon as the election was over, the people having been consulted on the matter, Senator Findley not only took the increased salary, but he took the arrears of salary at the increased rate as well. No wonder the question of salary should appeal strongly to the honorable senator. He could not understand how any one could give up £200 without a quid pro quo. The honorable senator judged ex-Senator Ready by his own standard. ‘ He thought of that incident of his past career, and of the way he had seized upon the arrears of salary to his credit in the Treasury, and he therefore could not believe for a moment that in such a matter ex-Senator Ready could act differently from himself.
– Is this a joke, or is it a defence of the charge made against the honorable senator of attempted bribery ?
– I have already replied to Senator Watson’s charges. I tell Senator Watson, Senator McKissock, and any other honorable senator that if they charge me with either directly or indirectly attempting to bribe Senator Watson, or making the offer of a bribe, and if they will make that charge outside this Chamber where they are not privileged, I shall give them the fullest and quickest opportunity of substantiating the charge in a place where we shall meet on equal terms, that is the law Courts of the country. They are not prepared to take up that challenge. They are not game to do what I suggest.
– We have asked for a Royal Commission, and the Government refuse it.
– What honorable senators opposite ;want to do is this : They make charges behind the privilege of Parliament. They want to be permitted to hurl these indiscriminate charges and insinuations and inferences at others, and then have a Royal Commission to inquire into them in order that there may be a fishing inquiry from which they may possibly discover something. But they themselves, knowing that they have no case, knowing that they cannot prove their charges, will not take the manly course of meeting me where we would stand free and equal - where they would not be privileged and I unprivileged.
– A special jury and secret service money ! That is where the inequality comes in.
– Let Senator Ferricks, this exponent of how to lose the war, make a charge-
– You are a liar!
– Senator Ferricks has applied a term to Senator Pearce which is not parliamentary, and I ask him to withdraw it.
– I ask whether the Minister for Defence is in order in describing me as an “ exponent of how to lose the war “ ?
– If Senator Ferricks desires to take exception to any remark by Senator Pearce, there is a proper way in which to do it, and I shall keep Senator Pearce strictly in order. I rule that Senator Ferricks is not in order in using the remark to which I have referred, and I ask him to withdraw it unreservedly.
– I do unreservedly withdraw the remark, but I take strong exception to the remark made by Senator Pearce in regard to myself, and I ask that that also be withdrawn unreservedly.
- Senator Ferricks takes exception to a remark as being offensive, and any remark so regarded is disorderly, and must be withdrawn. I ask Senator Pearce to withdraw the remark to which exception is taken.
– I withdraw the remark, but I invite Senator Ferricks to father outside the charge that has been made against me here, and nothing will give me greater pleasure than to meet him.
– Yes, where you have the secret service fund with which to fight your case 1
– I have no secret service or any money but my own, nor would I use any other.
– Your leader is using it.
– Let Senator Ferricks take the challenge I have made if he has the courage of the opinions he voices here.
– I have been before a special jury, and I know it is the last resort of capitalism !
– After all, what is behind all these charges ? They are part of a programme deliberately laid down, and already tried and proved successful. During the referendum campaign, what did we find ? We found Mr. Hughes, as the Leader of the Government of the day, accused of all sorts of things.
– By whom?
– By honorable senators opposite - by the honorable senator’s party.
– By whom t
– Their name was legion. Dr. Maloney was one, but, as I say, their name was legion; and no doubt the charges would be fathered by the honorable senator amongst others.
– That is not correct.
Several honorable senators interjecting,
– I must ask Senator Lynch, Senator Turley, and others, to refrain from frequent interjections, which, continually fired across the chamber, are liable to cause irritation, and easily lead to disorder. If my request in this connexion is ignored, I shall be compelled to take firmer action to put a stop to such conduct.
– This is a deliberate campaign of false charges indulged in by the’ Official Labour party ; and they are making such charges now because they have done it previously, and succeeded in their purpose. During the referendum campaign, amongst the charges made by the. Official Labour party, and those associated with them, was this: that Mr. Hughes was concerned in a scheme for the introduction of cheap labour into Aus tralia. Do honorable senators deny that leaflets were freely circulated throughout the country to the effect that thousands of Maltese and other cheaplabourers were to be introduced? The next charge was that Mr. Hughes was party to a scheme for the introduction of coloured labour into this country, and that also was sent throughout the length and breadth of the country. Honorablesenators will all remember the published cartoon of a map of Australia, inferring that those who voted “Yes” would vote for a black Australia. That idea was fathered on the Prime Minister, the implication being that, by means of conscription, he desired to introduce coloured labour into Australia.
– That map was issued by the Pastoralists’ Review after the outbreak of the war.
– These leaflets,, cartoons, and statements were. issued during the referendum campaign, and in one speech Dr. Maloney said that Mr. Hughes had been bribed by the British Government to introduce conscription. Although the same thing was not said by honorable senators opposite and others in so blunt a form, we could, throughout their speeches, see the insinuation that Mr. Hughes had been “ got at “ in Great Britain, in order to bring about conscription. These slanders, these misrepresentations, these false charges, accomplished their purpose; they fooled the people for a time. But their contemptible character exposed the falsity of them, because, when Parliament met, those men who had been going about mouthing the charges, did not dare - not a solitary member in either House dared - to repeat them on the floor. The charges were dead - they had served their purpose in misleading the people of the country. Having, as they hoped, fooled the people on that occasion by false charges, they now hope, when they are to be sent before their masters, the electors, to divert them by creating this dust, by making false charges again.
– M - Mr. Hughes said some pretty strong things.
– I do not make the statement on my own authority, but on the authority of one of the honorable senator’s own party. In the Age of today there is a report of a meeting of theSouth Melbourne Labour league on Satur- day night, at which an address was delivered by Mr. Mathews, a member of another place. The following is an extract from the report: -
Mr. J. Mathews, M.P., said that as soon as Senator Watson called his colleagues together in Caucus, and told them what had occurred, the Caucus decided to take action-
– I did not call them together - they met.
– The honorable senator must quarrel with Mr. Mathews as to that, and not with me. I have told honorable senators that the statement by Senator Watson came before us as a result of the “ third degree “ applied to that gentleman; and this newspaper report confirms my view. However, the report is as I have read, and it goes on to state -
The Caucus decided to take action to place the situation before the public.
Not Senator Watson, it will be seen, but the Caucus.
– What has this to do with the Minister’s defence?
– It has this to do with it, that the high-souled gentleman who made the charges has to be forced by the Caucus - by the scruff of the neck - to make them.
– The only question the Caucus considered was whether I should make the statement before Senator Ready’s resignation was made, or wait until it had been received in this chamber.
– As I told the honorable senator before, he must quarrel with Mr. Mathews. These are not my statements, but his.
– I am dealing with the newspaper report, and not with Mr. Mathews.
– The newspaper report proceeds -
The time was extremely opportune -
The time for the Caucus to compel Senator Watson to make the charges was “ extremely opportune !” -
Some people seemed to think that Senator Watson should have disclosed the actions of the former Labour members, Senators Givens and Pearce, and the Prime Minister, sooner than he did; but that would have spoiled everything.
A charge of bribery and corruption earlier “ would have spoiled everything !” What would it have spoiled ? Honorable senators opposite are endeavouring to pose as honest men, desirous of bringing a criminal to justice; but these honestmen, through the mouth of one of their’ spokesmen, say, “If we had brought this criminal to justice before, it would have spoiled everything.” What would it have spoiled ? It would have spoiled their tactics for the election. That is what it would have spoiled; and tactics before the election are far more to these highsouled gentlemen than is any question of bringing a criminal to justice. I am going to deal fully with Mr. Mathews. That gentleman resumes -
What was said to Senator Watson, by itself, was capable of a more or less plausible explanation, but, clouded as it was with the unexpected and unexplained resignation of Senator Ready, it conveyed an impression to the public mind that would never be eradicated.
That is to say, they merely pretend to believe that the Prime Minister is guilty of attempted bribery and corruption. They would not take any action on that account. But when they got Senator Ready’s resignation, they said, “ If we connect the two things, it will have a great effect on the public.” What they, are concerned with, therefore, is scoring with the public. Mr. Mathews has said so, and his statement was greeted with applause. Mr. Mathews continues -
Therefore, Senator Watson was wise to reserve his revelations till something occurred to support his statement, and( the result, he believed, would be to secure for Labour a number of Liberal votes that never came their way before. (Applause.)
It was not the purification of Parliament with which honorable senators opposite are concerned. Oh, no; that does not count. In the hounding down of the man who had offered to bribe this immaculate soul opposite, the only thing which counted was the scoring of votes. All that has been done has been done, not for the purpose of purifying our public life, but to catch votes.
– It has done it, too* It has caught two here - the two votes that are sending the Government to the country.
– That is merely the old trick, which was played in the referendum campaign, dressed up in a new guise. I am justified in saying that, on the utterances of Mr. Mathews. In his speech to-day, Senator Bakhap said that he could see no reason why the Prims Minister could not have gone to England as soon as the invitation from the Imperial War Conference was received.
– I believe that he erred in judgment in not going.
– There was a very good reason why the Prime Minister did not go. He could attend that Conference only as the head of the Government of Australia. Unless he could do that, he would have no standing there.
– He would have been that for eight months. The Liberal party would still have supported the Government.
– If every member of the Liberal party had agreed to support the Government during his absence, there was in this Chamber the power to render that impossible. The Government could have been brought to earth at any time by a majority of the Senate refusing to grant Supply.
– The Minister attaches too much importance to that position.
– I know that the government of this country cannot be carried on without money, and I know that that money has to be voted by Parliament. The majority opposite had only to refuse to grant Supply, and government would then have been rendered impossible.
– The country would soon have dealt with them.
– It could only deal with them at an election. Therefore, there must have been an election while the Prime Minister was absent, and who can say what the result might have been ? It might have been the defeat of the Government, and the Prime Minister might thus have found himself at the Conference table in the humiliating position of receiving a message that his Government had been defeated.
– That would not have been more humiliating than the going there on kidnapped votes.
– I come now to the question of what did influence the Government in arriving at the decision which was announced by Senator Millen to-day ? It was not1 the attitude of Senator Bakhap or of any other honorable senator on this side of the chamber.
– But the Government arrived at the same decision as we did, and, consequently, we were quite justified in taking up the attitude which we did.
– I am not quarrelling with the honorable senator. But our decision was arrived at without! any knowledge of what he was going to do. What is the position to-day ? The war has reached a stage the most crucial in its history. While we are fighting our party battles here, the Empire itself, its fate and its destiny, are swaying in the balance, though not because of defeat on the field. But nobody can regard the submarine campaign, and its results, without recognising that it has a .dread possibility for the future.
– It looked as bad last week as it does this week.
– There is no Australian who wants to see the Empire win the war. but must feel in his heart that we are approaching a crisis in our affairs. At this time of crisis, when the war has taken on a new phase - the submarine campaign which has opened up dread possibilities for us - the Government have been invited to send representatives to the heart of the Empire to discuss this and other phases of the war. And here we are faced with a Parliament which, by the attitude of honorable senators opposite, has been made absolutely unworkable - faced with the position that the invitation by Senator Millen that they should co-operate with the Government met with the most contemptuous refusal. That invitation was treated with contumely and scorn. If we are to play our part in this war we have to face the problem of what we intend to do in the future. The crisis is nob one which may come upon ils next year or the year afterwards ;. it is one which may come upon us within a few months. No Government can contemplate with equanimity the possibility of facing the issues arising out of that conflict with the knowledge that they are hamstrung and helpless by reason of the action of the Opposition in this Chamber. Realizing as we did, after long consideration, that it was not only impossible but foolish to attempt to carry on this Parliament while that situation lasted, we resolved to take the course of appealing to the people of Australia; to let the people say whether they are prepared to continue to intrust the government of this country and the conduct of the war to those who sit on this side, or whether they wish to hand it over to those on the Opposition side, especially in view of the attitude taken by the organizations who hold in their hands, bo to speak, the political lives of those honorable gentlemen. It is for these reasons, that the Government have determined to appeal to the people df this country. It will then be futile for honorable senators opposite to throw these vile, and indiscriminate charges at honorable’ , senators on this aide. The people will want to know what is their war policy1 rather than what is their hatred of Mr. Hughes, or what their aspersions against me or any one else. The people will demand, also, to know whether they support Senator Ferricks in Eis attitude with, regard to the war.
– What is my attitude?
– The honorable senator said he was against this war.
– Yes; I am against all wars.
– The honorable senator did not say that. He said he was against this war. That statement stands on record in Hansard.
– And that he would not ask a man to enlist.
– The people will want to know, too, whether these honorable gentlemen of the Official Labour party, controlled as they are by organizations outside - and some of them influential organizations - take up the same attitude which they have publicly taken up in refusing to assist the recruiting movement in this country. These are the issues the people will have remitted to them, and upon which they will be asked to vote. Honorable senators of the Official Labour part? may raise all the dust they please, but they will never confuse those issues and those who have made, in the Senate as well as in another place, the speeches to which I have just referred, will find, when they go to their masters, the people, that they have altogether miscalculated the spirit of Australia. They will find that they have altogether miscalculated the loyalty of Australia to the Empire, and that they have altogether miscalculated the determination of the people of Australia to see this war through to the bitter end, and to fight, to the last man and the last shilling, for the future of the Empire.
.- I In another place last Friday afternoon, when these serious charges were made respecting men occupying high and re sponsible positions in the Parliament, the Prime Minister said that the Opposition could have two things - they could have a Royal Commission to inquire into these charges, and they could have a general election. I took it that the Prime Minister was speaking for the Government and for all of its supporters. But when the motion for the appointment of a Royal Commission was submitted to a vote ir> another place, the ‘Prime Minister, who had said he would grant the Royal Commission, voted against it, and so did all the members of his Ministry and all its supporters there. Why did they vote against the appointment of such a Commission if they had nothing to hide and. nothing of which to be ashamed? It should have been one of the first things to be desired by a Government absolutely free from the influences which are said to have been exercised in connexion with certain doings in this place. But, apparently, it is the very last thing they want. They come along now with an announcement that there is to be an election for both Houses. I waa very glad >to hear that statement made.
– The honorable senator concealed his pleasure at the time.
– No; I am really glad that that announcement was made; but I am sorry that, side by side with it, we did not have a statement showing that the Government were going to be faithful to the promise made by the Prime Minister that there should be a Royal Commission as well as a general election. Such a Commission would place everybody whose names have been mentioned in connexion with this unsavoury business - it is not only unsavoury, but smellful .and putrid - in the position of having to give evidence on oath. When they were on their oath, they might not be so kee, to make the statements that they are so lightly disposed to make both in this and another place and through the public press. I have read very carefully, no* once, but several times, the statement made by Senator Watson. I am going to read it again to-day, and to offer certain comments as 1 read it. Senator Watson’s first statement is this -
About three weeks ago I was asked by the messenger to meet the President in his room and with the request I complied. He- ‘
That is you, Mr. President - began the conversation by asking me what I thought of my chances at the coming election. I said that I did not know what was likely to occur. He said, “ I don’t think you have a hope of getting back here with Bowling and
Saa as your colleagues.”
If this statement be correct, sir, why did you make - it ? Did you make it to encourage Senator Watson, or did you make it to discourage him altogether - to give him, if it were possible, cold feet - in connexion with the coming election! Did you give him this advice - assuming that yon did give it - in order to stiffen him up, or was it to give him a sort of uneasy feeling about the election, to give rise in him the feeling of some honorable senators, whose names I need not mention, and who do not, apparently, know from day to day where they are, or what the devil is going to happen ? Assuming that you did make this statement, Mr. President, what right had you to say that Senator Watson had no chance with Bowling and Rae? I know Mr. Peter Bowling only by repute. But it is sufficient for me to know that he has been selected by the Labourites of New South Wales to carry Labour’s flag at the coming election. It is sufficient for me to know that he would not be intrusted with the carrying of that banner if be had not the confidence of the Labourites in New South Wales. What justification was there for your saying, Mr.President - assuming that you did say it - that Senator Watson would have no chance with Arthur Rae? Would to God we had in Australia a few more thousand Arthur Rae’s. If Senator Watson’s statement as to your reference to Arthur. Rae is correct, sir, then I can only say that you ought to have been the last to make it. What have Arthur Rae and men of his ilk and type done for Australia? They have blazed the track and pioneered the bush, and -
Through seed-times of sweat and sorrow
To harvests of hunger and tears - they have built up a great and mighty movement in Australia. Without that movement, where would you, sir, have been to-day?
– Order ! No honorable senator is entitled, under the rules of the Senate, to misrepresent another, or misrepresent anything that has been said. Senator Findley was very careful to protect himself a little while ago, and to put me in such a position that I could not say anything about him. He tries to take advantage of his position now to misrepresent me. I said nothing derogatory of either Mr. Peter Bowling . or Mr. Arthur Rae. All I said was, “ Here are your two colleagues who are going to run in the election with you ; what do you ‘ think of your chance?” That is all that is contained in Senator Watson’s statement. ‘
– It is all that is contained in the statement, and the honorable senator must not misrepresent it again.
– Do you, sir, deny it?
– I deny nothing. I said the honorable senator would not be permitted to make a misrepresentation of anybody’s attitude, or of anything that anybody had said.
– Senator Watson says that you, sir, said to him that he would have no chance of being re-elected for the State of New South Wales because of the colleagues that were associated with him. Do you deny having made that statement?
- Senator Watson did not eay anything of the kind.
– According to Senator Watson’s statement, you caused your messenger to find him. What you were concerned about was his health, I expect. You wanted to know how he was. Your messenger found him, and took him to your room. In that room, Senator Watson says, you began the conversation - by asking me what I thought of my chances at the coming Senate election. I said that I did not know what was likely to occur. He. said, “ I do not think that you have a hope of getting back here with Bowling and Bac as your colleagues.”
Do you admit having made that statement?
– I said nothing about that statement. I am taking no exception to your quoting that statement ; but there is no reflection conveyed on either Peter Bowling or ex-Senator Rae, in the statement as made by Senator Watson.
– I differ from you. sir, in this way: that you say, or are alleged to have said, that Senator Watson would have no chance of getting back because be would be associated with those gentlemen. If you did make that statement, you made it unthinkingly, and I believe, with all due deference to you, that you never make a statement without thinking. When you thought this matter out, it was, in my opinion, not so much because of the association, as it might have been for some other reason, that you called Senator Watson into your room. What justification had you for saying that Arthur Rae and Peter Bowling and Senator Watson would not get back here? Senator Watson got back last time. Arthur Rae has been here before, and we are all proud of him. I venture to assert that when some of his detractors who occupy elevated positions in the public life of Australia are dead and forgotten, the name of Arthur Rae will “be remembered and revered by the stalwart Labourites throughout Australia. What justification, let me ask you again, was there for saying that he would not be returned? Do you know - you probably do - that at the last election Senator Millen polled 339,000 votes, in round figures; and Arthur Rae polled 333,000 ? He was only 6,000 votes behind the Leader of this Chamber. And, since that event, things have happened in New South Wales. You probably read in the papers of the result of the referendum that was taken recently in that and other States. If you did not, sir, it will be information to you that, in New South Wales, conscription was not carried; and it was opposed there by Arthur Rae, the man that you said, according to Senator Watson, had no chance. The Minister for Defence is alleged to have said that Senator Watson, Peter Bowling, and Arthur Rae would not have a ‘million to one chance. You will remember, too, how the present Minister for Defence came back after a triumphal tour of New South Wales during the conscription campaign, and told us that he was quite certain^ judging by the enthusiasm manifested, and the longsustained and thunderous applause with which he and others had been received over there, that conscription would be carried in that State by a majority of three or four to one. You know that it was not carried by that majority, and you know, also, that that was the one State that gave the question submitted to the people for the conscription of ‘ the manhood of Australia for oversea service such a kick that it is not likely to sit up again and live in Australia,
– What about your own dear State?
– I thought Senator Lynch would be concerned about my own State; but one tiling at a time. Senator Watson states that you said to him, “You think this matter over, and let me know what you think of it later on.” Think what matter over? Whether he would like a change of air, a change of scene, or a change of surroundings ? What did you mean that he should think over? I do not know any man in Australia about whom there appeared to be so much concern as there was about Senator Watson at that time. If this statement be correct, apparently you had been thinking it over, too. Senator Watson did think it over hard, and told you that the conclusion he had arrived at was -
Sink or swim, I will go with my mates, for you must know that if I were to act derogatively to the party’s interest, I would deserve to be kicked out of the district of Newcastle.
If Senator Watson’s statement respecting yourself be correct, it would appear to me to be an attempt on your part to influence him to violate his conscience, to scab on his mates, and to be a traitor to the movement and the party with which he is associated. Then Senator Pearce appears on the scene. I want you, sir, to follow me now. You will remember that the business managers appointed to carry on negotiations on behalf of the Hughes section in connexion with the unholy combination, or alliance, that has taken place were Mr. Hughes, the Prime Minister, Senator Pearce, and Mr. Jensen.
– All experts.
– They know a bit: but, in my opinion, they fell in badly. Why did the Minister for Defence interest himself so much in this matter; why was he so keenly interested as to Senator Watson’s conscience? He would not send those telegrams to Senator Watson without the knowledge of the Prime Minister. Why did he send a wire to Senator Watson asking him to meet Mr. Hughes? Why did he send another cancelling the engagement, because Mr. Hughes was not going to Sydney? On Senator Watson’s return to Melbourne, why was Senator Pearce so keen about his seeing the Prime Minister? What do all these things demonstrate to every fair-minded man or woman in Australia - the entry of Senator Watson into the President’s room, the conversations with the Minister for Defence, and the closeting of Senator Watson with the Prime Minister? We are told that they looked under the table to see that no one was there, and that when everything was as silent as the grave, Svengali, with a cigarette in his mouth, locked the doors, spoke in a whisper to Senator Watson, and asked him - Mr. Hughes was concerned about the senator’s conscience - “Why don’t you come our way?” Senator Watson would not yield. He asserts that the Prime Minister said, “Does money stand in your way?”
– That is what’ he will not say outside this chamber.
– Senator Watson asserts that the first overtures were that” he should sit opposite. He would not yield. His next assertion is that indirectly a bribe was offered - he might go over there if money stood in the way, and if he was not taking that offer, then he could resign. Who would fill the vacancy? The Government of New South Wales. Who is in power in that State today ? A Government of the same sort as is in power in the Commonwealth.
– But not so strong a Government.
– It is not so strong, not so deadly. But Senator Watson would not yield.
Now we come to another who did resign. It has been blazoned forth to the world that, owing to ill-health, a young man, much younger than myself, and one who, I venture to say, on a medical examination would be found to be sounder physically than I, has resigned. Let me trace the movements of this sick young man for a few days. For some days prior to Friday, 23rd February, Senator Beady was in this chamber as a senator representing the State of Tasmania, and filling a responsible position as Whip of the Australian Labour party in the Senate, and on the Friday he secured the adjournment of the debate on the Ministerial statement, which statement was the first business on the notice-paper for the. following Wednesday, 28th February. On Friday, the 23rd, Senator Ready was apparently like a two-year-old. On Saturday, the 24th, he was about the build ing. On Monday, 26th, he was about the building, looking as well as I have ever seen him look. I was talking to him, and he made no complaint to me, nor, so far as I am aware, to any member of our party, that he was a sick man. He said that he was leaving for Tasmania that afternoon. I said to myself, said I, “ He is leaving for Tasmania on Monday afternoon, and is coming back on Wednesday; he will not have much time in Tasmania.” Later on the President came round to the club-room and said to several of us, “ Have you seen. Senator Ready?” I said to myself again, said I, “It is funny that the President of the Senate, who belongs to the party sitting on the opposite side of the Chamber should know that Senator Ready is going to Tasmania by the afternoon’s boat, and coming back on Wednesday. Why should I not know it.” I do not think that other members of our party were aware of it. At any rate, this sick young man left by Monday afternoon’s boat, and arrived in Tasmania on the following day, and, according to the Hobart Mercury of that same date, after he arrived in Tasmania, Mr. Earle resigned his seat as a member of the State Parliament. Senator Earle made a statement to an Age reporter on Saturday last. He is reported as follows: -
He was aware that there was a likelihood of a vacancy occurring in the Senate representation of his State, and he had also been informed by the Government of that State that he would be nominated. He did not know of Senator Ready’s resignation until Thursday afternoon.
If the statement in the Hobart Mercury be correct, that Mr. Earle resigned his seat as a State member on Tuesday last, how does that fit in with his statement that he did not hear anything about Senator Ready’s intended resignation until Thursday afternoon 1 Senator Ready arrived in Tasmania on Tuesday. He returned to Melbourne on Wednesday with Mr. Earle, and Mr. Lee, the Premier of Tasmania, came to Melbourne from Sydney. That afternoon, we are told, Senator Ready was ill. On Thursday he was at the Commercial Travellers’ Club. I am informed that he was in and out of the premises more than once, and it has been stated that he was in the room of the Minister for Customs, Mr. Jensen, the honorable member for Bass, Tasmania. Be it remembered that the- negotiators in connexion with the Fusion were Mr. Hughes, Senator Pearce, and Mr. Jensen. The leader of our party in the Senate went to see Senator Ready, and the information he then received was the first intimation that reached our party that Senator Ready had submitted his resignation. The resignation was received by the President at one minute past 6 o’clock on Thursday evening, and before the doors of this building were opened on Friday morning Mr. Earle was waiting to be admitted. It will be my endeavour, before this Parliament is prorogued, to have tabled copies of the telegrams sent by the President to the Governor of Tasmania, and by the Governor of Tasmania to the GovernorGeneral, in order that the mystery and unsavoury atmosphere surrounding Senator Ready’s resignation may be cleared up. Senator Ready is said to have resigned on account of ill-health. For quite a long time the party which sits in opposition has been fighting the Ministerial party for good and sufficient reasons. The Government were aware that we were opposed to the prolongation of Parliament, and the only way the Government could achieve their desire in that respect was by getting a majority in this Chamber. Apparently, one of the means adopted was to bring pressure to bear on a member of our party to send in his resignation in order that a member of the Ministerial party might be nominated, thus giving the Government a majority, and insuring the prolongation of Parliament.
– How comes it that your party was in favour of a prolongation of Parliament before Mr. Hughes went to England ?
– We heard for the first time to-day that Senator Bakhap and Senator Keating were not desirous of voting for the prolongation of Parliament. When, may I ask, did these gentlemen make up their minds in respect to this matter ?
– On Friday.
– Up till Friday they intended to vote with the Government to prolong the life of Parliament.
– It was my intention to do so if the Imperial authorities said that the men at the front could not be polled.
– Since Friday those two honorable senators have been putting their thinking caps on. Why? Because they knew that from one end of Tasmania to the other the people were talking of nothing else but the sensation of Senator Ready’s resignation and the shocking disclosures that had been made in this Parliament in connexion with which a certain man from that State was particularly concerned.
– The position of Tasmania was, inferentially, involved in this matter.
– The statement? made were so serious, so far as the honour of their State was concerned, that Senator Bakhap and Senator Keating, though they had resolved to vote for the prolongation of Parliament, altered their minds in order that there might be an appeal to the people.
– In order that the people of Tasmania may make their position clear. ‘
– Does the honorable senator think that is the only method that can be adopted? Does he not know that in a general election many issues are involved, and sometimes the main. issue is clouded ? Does he not think that, in addition to having an election for both Houses, we should have a Royal Commission that would make a searching and exhaustive inquiry into the resignation of Senator Ready and the appointment of Mr. Earle, and into the serious allegations of attempted bribery and corruption made by Senator Watson ?
– Are not the ordinary Courts of law to have the matter in hand ?
– On former occasions, when serious charges were made in the Senate and in another place, the Government was prompt to order an inquiry by an independent tribunal. The Fisher Government without hesitation appointed a Royal Commission to investigate the allegations made by Mr. Fowler against Mr. Chinn. What is there to prevent an inquiry by a Royal Commission into the allegations that have been made during the last few days ? Senator Pearce may talk as he likes about what Mr. Mathews said at a Labour meeting at South Melbourne. He may appeal to the patriotism and enthusiasm of the people in regard to the titanic struggle now raging; but what the people are concerned about for the moment is whether the charges made in this Senate are true - namely, that influence of a baneful character has been exercised in regard to the resignation of Senator Ready, and attempted bribery on the part of prominent men in this and an-, other place, in order to win over one member of our party to their side.
– Will you or some other senator make a specific charge of that kind?
– Do not’ make any mistake about it. The people of Australia are not going to be fooled by this kind of interjection-“ Will I do it?” The Government are afraid to take the necessary action.
– You make a specific charge, and I will vote for an inquiry.
– If the Government are not afraid, why do they not carry out the promise of the Prime Minister in another place last Friday, when he said the Government would appoint a Royal Commission, and that we would have a general election?
– We will deal with the matter if you will make a specific charge here.
– The Government have run away from their first promise, and they are now asking the people of Australia to be the judges in connexion with these charges. I am as certain as I am of standing here that when members of Parliament go before that great assize, the people of Australia will judge between the statements made by members of our party and those made by members of the other party. A fair and impartial jury like the adult citizenship of Australia will not be long in coming to a conclusion which candidates are fit “and proper persons to represent Australia and to maintain the honour and integrity of the Commonwealth Parliament.
We have heard something about the opposition to the proposed embassy to London. But why should there not be opposition to that proposal? Between the Hughes section and the CookIrvineForrest Watt section of the “WintheWar “ party there is, to use the language of the Prime Minister himself, a chasm as wide as hell itself. They have nothing in common. They hate one another. They distrust one another to such an extent that they do not meet in the same room. It is “ This way for the Hughesites,” and “ That way for the Cookites.” In the face of all this, we are told that they ‘ are a united party, brought together for the purpose of winning the war. How can they be a united party when they are disunited every time they are called upon to consider matters of importance? The members of this “united party” meet under different roofs. , What is there between the gentlemen in the Hughes section and the other section of this “’ Win-the-War “ party ? They say that Mr. Hughes should go to London as the Prime Minister of Australia; but I point out that Mr. Hughes was discredited on the 28th October last by the people of Australia. And in what way are the other two gentlemen,. Sir William Irvine and Sir J ohn Forrest, representative Australians? Were they not both discredited at the 1914 election as responsible Ministers of the Crown?” Senator de Largie said the other day that Sir John Forrest was a “ big Australian.” Well, he is big in proportion. He weighs something.
– “A big Australian !” Sir John Forrest is a “little Australian “ in everything that makes for Australian greatness, prosperity, and happiness.
– He weighs heavily in honour.
– He is the biggest Australian, on performances, in Australia to-day.
– His works do speak for him.
– Well, we shall see how big this gentleman is. We shall see what was the Prime Minister’sopinion of Sir John- Forrest a year or two ago. Honorable senators will remember the famous Deakin-Cook-Irvine Fusion, and how we “ biffed “ and banged that Fusion. I need hardly remind you, Mr. Deputy President, that the men we “biffed” and banged a few years age are cheek by jowl with you now. Let me read to the Senate what Mr. Hughes said about Sir John Forrest at that time -
It were idle to attempt-
– What are you quoting from?’
– I am quoting; from a pamphlet containing a speech by
Mr. Hughes on the Deakin.Cook.Irvine Fusion in 1909. Mr. Hughes said ;
It were idle to attempt to say one word of the right honorable member for Swan, save that in him we have the piteous spectacle of a man grown old in the service of the country, who, in his insatiable lust for office, has made one more ignoble twist. I shall not say that he has sacrificed any principle. It were as well to say that as to accuse a corpse of having sacrificed its life. But I do say that he has sacrificed what little dignity yet belonged to him.
– What was your opinion of the present Prime Minister in 1909 ?
– In 1910, when Mr. Hughes was introducing a Bill for the alteration of the Constitution, Sir John Forrest was interjecting, and, of course, opposing the measure, claiming that if the Labour party succeeded in carrying the Bill through, it would confer ‘ upon the Commonwealth Government too much power altogether. Mr. Hughes was so annoyed at these- interjections that he said -
The fact is that no Parliament dares go beyond the point to which the people are prepared to permit it to go. There is nothing to prevent the State Parliament passing a law that the stocks shall again be erected in the streets, or that a man who is guilty of a certain offence shall have his ears cropped off, his nose cut off, or his eyes burnt out.
Sir John Forrest. What is the use of talking like that? It is unworthy of the honorable member’s position.
Mr. HUGHES. It is true.
Mr. Batchelor. ; The honorable member for Swan did not hear what the Attorney-General said.
Sir John Forrest. I did. He was talking about cutting people’s ears off - unworthy and vicious clap-trap.
Mr. HUGHES. The criticisms and comments of the right honorable gentleman upon these measures are worth about as much attention as the remarks of a troglodyte of the post-pliocene epoch upon the latest applications of science to the mechanical arts. What does or can he know of the requirements of the present day?
Sir John Forrest. The honorable member ought to be ashamed of himself.
Mr. HUGHES. I resent these fretful, childish, and banal interruptions which men who are rightly concerned with the welfare of their country have to endure from the right honorable member. His interjections arise from nothing but his intolerant ignorance.
That was the opinion of Mr. Hughes of Sir John Forrest in 1910.
– He has changed his opinion now, as you have changed your opinion about the Prime Minister.
– Why, then, should Sir John Forrest be considered a fit and proper man to represent the interests of Australia at the Imperial Conference? Let us get on to a few more people. The other gentlemen say that we object to Sir William Irvine going. So we do. I remember Senator Russell saying, when an election was pending, that if Sir William Irvine came into office as a result of the election, he would wear mourning bands as expressive of sympathy for the masses of the people in Australia. Sir William Irvine is now associated with Senator Russell. Where are the mourning bands?
– Sir William Irvine is not in office.
– It is true that Sir William Irvine is not in office, but he was chosen to ‘go to London as a representative of the people, which is just’ as important as though he was in office iu Australia.
– Probably more so.
– More so. What did Mr. Hughes say in respect to Sir William Irvine a year or two back? He said -
Home life, if the honorable member had his way, would be always that of the hovel of the Connemara peasant.
He said, further -
I say that when the honorable and learned gentleman goes down into his political grave, upon, his grave-stone there must be engraven this epitaph : “ For the people he did nothing but make speeches, but for the plutocrats he did everything that was in his power to do.”
Then we had Mr. _ Webster, the PostmasterGeneral, saying kindly things of Sir William Irvine at the time. He said -
He is the man with a mask, this cold-blooded political assassin, who would rob the people of this country of the liberty they have won by their efforts in the past.
Mr. Webster was called to order ;
I withdraw the words, Mr. Speaker. I have described this gentleman, and I do not need to repeat the description, because when I have said a thing I mean it. This gentleman would rob the people of this country of every political liberty, privilege, and right that they have acquired after many years of strenuous organization and battle.
Mr. Falkiner interjected, “ Shocking,” and Mr. Webster continued -
It is shocking, and the honorable member ought to be ashamed to be associated with him.
If Mr. Webster in 1910 thought that Mr. Falkiner, whose political views were akin to Sir William Irvine’s, ought to be ashamed to be associated with him, how much ashamed ought Mr. Webster to be to-day to be one of a party which is breaking its neck to see Sir William Irvine and Sir John Forrest go to London as Australia’s delegates?
I am not going to occupy much more of the time of the Senate, but I have a word or two to say in regard to this programme. By the way, sir, may I call your attention to this fact, that for the first time in our Hansard - the official publication of the Commonwealth Parliament - as far as I know, a policy speech appears in paragraph form, not merely as a policy, but the speech itself, establishing a precedent, which, if followed, will make Hansard a very bulky volume indeed, not that I object to it? I am pointing out to you, sir, that once the practice is established of allowing a man to cut his speech into sentences it will be possible for a member to occupy but a very short space of time in the delivery of an address, and to take up pretty well the whole of one issue of Hansard. In this policy speech, the Prime Minister says -
It is not a rich man’s Government, nor a poor man’s Government; it is the people’s Government; riot .1 Government for some people, but for all people.
It is not a rich man’s Government, and it is not a poor man’s Government. It would appear that it is not absolutely a poor Government. A recent happening in a certain State suggests that something was found, or promised to be found, in respect to a vacancy. At a social function on Saturday night I called attention to the fact that Senator Ready resigned because of ill-health.
– And at that function you ought to have spoken in general terms only.
– I said that it did seem an extraordinary thing that this young man, who had four months’ salary to draw - and mind you, sir, he is a poor man, with a young family - should send in his resignation when he could have asked for leave of absence.
– Surely he could do what he liked.
– That is true, but in sending in his resignation he forfeited four months’ salary.
– The honorable senator cannot “ kid “ me that this young man did that for the good of his health, and he cannot “ kid “ the people of Australia that the young man did it in the interests of his health.
– You would not do it, anyhow.
– No. Now I wish to say a few words about the highminded Minister for Defence, a gentleman who assumes a great deal since he got the portfolio.
– You were a colleague of his once.
– I was, and no one stuck to him better than I did; but certainly I have been a bit suspicious of him of late.- I was satisfied that he is concerned not so much about winning the war, as about holding on to his portfolio. I make that statement because I know something.
– That is another man about whom you have changed your opinion.
– This gentleman talks about a question which the world knows about, that at the Treasury I drew a salary which belonged to me, not to anybody else. I never said that I would not take the money, and I challenge Senator Pearce, or any one else, to say that I did. What I did say at that time was that the people had not been consulted on the matter, and that I thought that, in the interests of the people and the party, a referendum should be taken. Senator Pearce was one of those men who was extremely anxious not to let it go to the people. Then he compares the resignation of Senator Ready with something I did in drawing this money. I never drew the money until the people of Australia had been appealed to, and every man who had voted for or against the increase had been returned to Parliament. I took it, therefore, that the people at that time indorsed the increase, and, when I saw fit, I drew the amount. The President of the Senate, in his eagerness to get at me, as he thought, wanted to occupy a dual capacity, and to say what Senator Pearce afterwards said, that I drew the money. It is perfectly true that I did.
– Had you been beaten at the election, would you have drawn the money ?
– You can build up “ ifs “ and “ ands.” I was not beaten then, and I will not be beaten now.
– You have had the money, anyhow.
– I come back to Senator Pearce, this high-minded and high-principled man, who is concerned about one thing, and one thing only, and that is winning the war ! If he- was concerned about that matter, why is he so seriously worried about the likelihood of losing his portfolio? Every one knows - the dogs in the streets were barking it - that one of the obstacles in the way of this unholy alliance was that the other section of the Win-the-war party wished to have the Minister for Defence in the House of Representatives, and that Mr. Hughes was opposed to that. In the Sydney Bulletin recently appeared one of the most striking cartoons that I have seen for a long time. We shall not need to make speeches at the coming election; all that will be necessary will be to publish this cartoon, not by hundreds, but by thousands. It is one of the cartoons that live, and that sting men of the type of those sitting opposite. They are shown with the halter round their necks, Mr. Hughes dragging them along like slaves. They talk of freedom, but they are not free; they have been bought and sold like cattle in the market-place. They are now going to their certain doom. Senator Pearce never had a more anxious time in his life than when the negotiations for the alliance were in progress, and the other side was insisting on the Defence portfolio being held by a member of the House of Representatives. During that time there was no more miserable man in this House than he.
– Do you say that he is now going to his doom ?
– Not as a senator, because he has not to retire this time, but as a Minister, because this Administration is doomed, and he will certainly lose his job. This is not a rich man’s Government, it is not a poor man’s Government; in the name of God, what sort of a Government is it? When a Fusion was formed by Deakin, Cook, and Irvine, Hughes said that the Liberals had gone into the cave of the wolves. Now he and his followers have gone into the same cave. This is not a rich man’s Government, and it is not a poor man’s Government; yet in it, as Minister for the Navy, we have Mr. Joseph Cook, whom in 1909 the Minister for Defence declared to be ignorant in regard to defence. He said that Mr. Cook opposed the building of the Australian Navy, and particularly of destroyers of the River class, on the ground that there are only two Australian rivers, the Murrumbidgee and the Murray, and therefore, they would not be needed. Mr. Cook has been denounced by every member of the Hughes section of the Ministerial party. Then, there is associated with this Government Sir William Irvine, whom these members have also denounced ever since he entered public life. This people’s Government is supported by Sir William Irvine, who asserted that it was an extraordinary thing that the two Houses of the Federal Parliament should be elected on the same franchise ! This “People’s” Government is supported by a gentleman who said that the invalid and old-age pension saps the moral fibre of the community ! It is supported by Mr. Bruce Smith, who expressed the hope that no member of the hob-nailed boot brigade would ever find admittance into the Senate. It is supported by Mr. Watt, who is extremely anxious to win the war. He has said so, not once, but several times, He said over two years ago that he was going, and when asked “ When?” replied, “ Later on.” He is going, make no mistake about that - when the war is over ! Senator Russell, too, is extremely anxious about winning the war. Was it not placarded throughout Australia that, after the taking of the referendum, on 28th October last, he would go to the front? Both he and Mr. Watt have come, not gone, to the front - the front Ministerial bench. Yet this is not a rich man’s Government, it is not a poor man’s Government; it is a people’s Government ! How many weeks were the negotiators haggling as to which side should have six and which five representatives. Finally they came to the conclusion that Australia could be saved and victory won for the Allies by constituting a Government of six Liberals and five Hughesites. For weeks the destiny of civilization was at stake because the Hughesites desired six portfolios! Senator Pearce has asked, “ Do you not know that we are right in the danger zone? Our lives and liberties are at stake. The Empire is quaking.” He realizes that to-day. But his troubles about the dangers of the Empire when the business managers of the two sections of the present Ministerial party were negotiating about their respective representation in the Government ! These men, who talk about being free men, have not a soul to call their own. That was evidenced to-day when the Leader of the Government made a certain announcement. We, on this side, were saying to ourselves, “ My word, they have got a shock and a fright.”
– Do not look at me.
– The honorable senator is all right. I do not know whether you have heard, Mr. Deputy President, that the Chairmanship of the Murray Waters Commission and the Administratorship of the Northern Territroy, both important positions, are vacant. If one wants to show appreciation of a friend and fellow it is well to consider whether he should not be appointed to one of these vacancies.
– Sarah Gamp and Mrs. Harris.
– Senator Pearce tried to dodge the charges levelled against him by asking, “ What did Mr. Mathews say? What did Mr. Findley say about the £200 a year increase seven or eight years ago?” Senator Lynch is going to get one of these positions, and, according to the man in the street, the matter is already fixed up.
– Another rumour.
– If the matter has not been fixed up, should not the Government make an announcement concerning the filling of these vacancies? The people are very curious about the resignation of Senator Ready. The people are very wrath concerning the charge of attempted bribery by Senator Watson, and they want to know what is going to be done in respect of the two positions to which I have referred. Dr. Gilruth “has been in Melbourne for many months. I believe his salary is going on all the time, and that he is also getting travelling expenses. It is up to the Government to state definitely what they propose to do, and whether it is their intention to give one of those positions to Senator Lynch.
– Or to Senator Findley ?
– No; I could not expect to get any change from them. This, we are told, is not a poor man’s nor yet a rich man’s Government, but it is a people’s Government. I say that it is a Government that stands condemned in the eyes of the people. It is a Government without a policy. In confirmation of that remark, all I need do is to repeat .Senator Pearce’s statement, that Senator Watson might readily subscribe to its policy and its programme. How could any senator belonging to the Labour movement subscribe to a policy or programme that has been framed by the Tories and reactionaries in the Federal Parliament ? We know very well who framed the policy of this Government. It was the majority of the members of the Cabinet, and it is because the Government stands condemned on their policy, and because of the doubt of their honesty of purpose in the minds of the people, and because of the peculiar methods they have adopted in dealing with a particular vacancy, that I feel certain that when the people are appealed to - as they will be shortly by a general election - the members of the Australian Labour party in this Chamber, and in another place, will come back to this Parliament as the representatives of the States, and constituencies they represent to-day. They will come back as representatives of the people of the State of Victoria, whilst a number of those gentlemen who have played false with their trust, and false with the people, will receive their quietus, not merely in the year 1917, but, the people measuring some of them by their words and their deeds, they will find it very difficult indeed ever again to secure entry into the Commonwealth Parliament.
– It is not my purpose to detain the Senate at any great length. Honorable senators are aware that I am not given to speaking at very great length upon matters of a general character, whilst I do endeavour to throw myself into the actual work of the Senate, in Committee, and discuss all matters submitted to it with all the energy and all the ability I can compass. As a representative of Tasmania, and as one who had the honour of being sent here to represent that State in the days of my boyhood, and one who has been continuously in this Chamber, assisting, with others, to uphold the honour of the State, I have to say that the events of the previous week put me into such a position as to make it almost difficult for me, in certain circumstances, to express myself. I am not suggesting for one moment that there is anything in the nature of a solid foundation under any of the imputations or charges that have been made, in the most casual fashion, by honorable senators on the other side, and which have been directed to some of the most honorable people in the Commonwealth with whom I have been associated throughout the whole term of my political career. I might say that, on Tuesday last, I came over from Tasmania in the same boat with the gentleman who was then Senator Ready and the gentleman who is now Senator Earle. I met and conversed with them both. Although Senator Ready has been a political opponent of mine, and one who, I expected, would be fighting me at the forthcoming election in Tasmania, I say that the fact that he has been earnest, diligent, and loyal to his party and his colleagues in Tasmania is a fact which no one in the Senate will venture to question. Indeed, I know no member of the Senate who has been more earnest, more diligent, or more loyal, though it may be that he was often politically misguided.
– That makes exSenator Ready’s resignation the greater tragedy.
– It may be a great tragedy for Senator Watson.
– It is for the country.
– It may, for the honorable senator, be a great tragedy. I saw Senator Ready so often, travelled with him so frequently, and came into contact with him, though it may have been a contact of collision, so often, that I shall be the last’ man in the Senate and in this country to believe that he associated, himself with anything wrong or corrupt.
– The circumstances certainly look black against him.
– I saw Senator Ready on the boat. I saw him again here in Parliament House before I left to attend a meeting pf -the Public Works Committee at the other end of this city. I saw him again at luncheon time, and noted how ill the man looked. I was sitting close to the very table at which he was sitting upstairs, and he seemed as if he were done. All of a sudden I heard the very crash which indicated his collapse. I went over to where he had fallen, and while I am not a man who takes trumpery features as conclusive evidence, I say that I saw the man lying on the floor in a cold perspiration.
– In a fainting fit, though it is suggested that it was not genuine.
– I think that Senator Lynch was present with other honorable senators and members, and they were saying, “ Loosen his collar,” “ Open the window,” “ Give him a drop of brandy,” “ Give him a glass of water.” There could be no doubt whatever as to the genuineness of the fit.
– Yet it is suggested and even openly stated that it was otherwise.
– There could be no doubt whatever on the subject. The ex-senator was taken charge of by the President, and if there be any suggestion or implication that Mr. President was associated in any way with Senator Ready’s resignation, let me say at once that the President is responsible for the refreshment-rooms and the internal affairs of Parliament House, and there is no one in this Parliament who could more properly have charged himself with immediate responsibility in the circumstances. I do not think there was any representative of New South Wales in the room. Senator Millen arrived a few minutes afterwards, and I said to him, “ Do you know that Ready has just recently collapsed?” Senator Millen replied, “I saw him in the lift with the President, and I thought he looked peeky.” That was the beginning of the incident, so far as I am concerned ; and I think it is’ only due to the public, and to honorable senators, that one should speak fully and freely on a matter like this. Some time afterwards, Senator Bakhap and myself met Senator Ready in a corridor in Parliament House, and we both asked him how he felt.
– W - Was that on the same day ?
– I am pretty certain it was. I said to Senator Ready, remembering that he had an election to face directly, “Look here, old man, you are somewhat younger than I am, and I have had more experience of parliamentary life, and I advise you to take it easy and not to -worry.” I also told Senator Ready that I had tried this rushing back and forward over the strait to Tasmania, and that I had been, in consequence, twice “ knocked out.” It must be remembered that Senator Ready was a colleague of mine from my own State, and a man whom I was expecting to fight at the next election. In reply to me, Senator Ready said, “ I do not know, but I am sick of politics.” That ended the interview; and I think that Senator O’Keefe and other honorable senators from Tasmania will bear me out in the statement that, rightly or wrongly, Senator Ready’s critics, for the last six months, have been very, very strong, and sometimes, from his standpoint, perhaps, very vindictive.
– Unfeeling !
– Those critics have spoken from my side, I say at once.
– Y - You mean in the State of Tasmania.
– That is so. Those critics of Senator Ready said, “He has no chance,” or “He has cruelled himself “ in this or that. Senator Ready was appointed Chairman of the Recruiting Committee, and, in addition, he voluntarily met the many obligations imposed upon him as a representative of Tasmania, and as an official of the Official Labour party. Under all the circumstances, I cannot for a moment think that he could avoid hearing the criticisms as to his actions in relation to recruiting . previously, and his chances in connexion with the forthcoming elections. As a matter of fact, he was asked to resign from the Recruiting Committee because of his previous attitude, and he did so, though, on being requested, he once more took up the position.
– Excuse me, but Senator Ready was not asked to resign. An adverse motion was passed by the Returned Soldiers Association, and, resenting this, he resigned, but was asked to keep the position.
– Were all these circumstances not enough to throw any man into a state of ill-health ?
– I am merely correcting you in a matter of detail.
– I shall not go over the circumstances particularly, but, so far as I understand, and so far as my own observation went, Senator Ready fell seriously ill here last week - there is no make-believe about his illness. As to the causes contributing to that illness, I could suggest sufficient to make ten men ill, without ground for any imputations whatever. Senator Ready has recently gone through a period of stress and worry.
The other day Senator Gardiner, the Leader of the Opposition, asked some question with regard to the action of the Prime Minister in calling the Premier of Tasmania to meet him. The honorable senator asked whether involved in the action was the convening of the Tasmanian Parliament, or the taking of any constitutional action. As I sat in my place, I heard these questions, and I also heard Senator Millen give the honorable senator his “ change.” Senator Gardiner disappeared; and at that time I had hot the slightest idea of anything like what has since arisen being likely to arise. Foi some time I did not see Senator Gardiner about the House, but the moment he did put in an appearance and took his seat again in this Chamber I went across to him. I knew nothing about this WatsonPresident business, but I was not going to have any conversations in a room or private place. I said, “ Gardiner, I have been representing the State of Tasmania since the inception of the Commonwealth Parliament, and some imputations, or rather some questions you have addressed to the Minister suggest various things. I do not know if I am asking you a fair question, but will you tell me what you are driving at.” Senator Gardiner said, “ It is a fair question, I will.” I hope that Senator Gardiner does not think I am breaking any confidence, because I spoke to him on those benches, and under no seal of secrecy.
– Go on; you are doing the right thing!
– Senator Gardiner then said, “ Ready has resigned,” and I expressed my astonishment, suggesting that the honorable senator was wrong in his information, although I had heard a rumour to that effect from a_pressman in the Queen’s Hall. Senator Gardiner told me, “ I have it at first hand; I have just seen him, and he has resigned.” I replied, “He is very ill, I know that. We will not discuss the matter further.”
– That is correct.
– From that time to this I have not had any discussion with anybody with whom I could avoid discussion. I have consulted my colleague, Sena- tor Bakhap, about the matter, and we have discussed it in all its bearings. I wish ito say before this Senate and the country that whatever action was taken was not determined by press articles of any character. On Friday last I said to Senator Bakhap, “ There is some question arising with regard to the giving of pairs; Senator Gardiner and Senator O’Keefe seem to be making a great noise about it.”
– I - I was trying to get a pair for Senator Guy in case he should not get over this week, and was told I could not have one.
– I wish to say that I came to Melbourne from Launceston on .the 13th January, and was in this House on the 14th. On Monday, 15th, I went to Sydney with the Public Works Committee, and returned the same week. Then I went through to Sydney again, and repeatedly saw Senator Long about these premises, and he never asked for a pair.
– P - Parliament was not sitting in January.
– But we were practically under call. Senator Long never asked me for a pair in general or any terms, although he was about the House. I cannot say that Senator Long was actually within the Senate after we had been summoned or had met, but previous to that I saw him frequently, and under no circumstances did he ask me for a pair in regard to any particular matter. How, then, am I to assume that he de-, sires a pair upon any specific motion corning before the Senate ? Senator Findley has said he has gone. “ The dogs are barking this and that.” The dogs were barking, then, about a motion for the prolongation of the life of this Parliament. But Senator Long has never asked me for a pair. I was in Launceston on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, and on Tuesday of last week up till 4 o’clock; and it was well known that I was there, because interviews with me in regard to wheat and other matters were published in all the newspapers. I asked, particularly, if Senator Guy was ill, what was the nature of his illness, and where he was. I do not say that I sought this information from him direct, or from any member of his family. I asked it of a pressman, and was assured of his genuine and serious illness. I was in Launceston all that time, but I did not get a telephone message, or any request, either directly or indirectly, from Senator Guy to grant him a pair. I now find that I was within 100 yards of him.
– B - But, as an old parliamentary hand, the honorable senator knows that a request for a pair is usually made through the Whip.
– I saw the Whip, Senator Heady, on all the occasions that I have previously mentioned, and at no time did he ask me for a pair.
– The honorable senator never expected him to do so under the circumstances.
– I am not imputing motives; but I do say there is no obligation on my part to give a pair when it is not asked for.
– But there was a request made for a pair to the Government Whip by myself as acting Whip of the Opposition. I asked if Senators Long and Guy could get pairs.
– I am not sure that either Senator Long or Senator Guy wanted a pair. I hope I am not doing either of them an injustice. Senator Long was about this building for weeks. I know that he was not well. It is not due to my State that either Senator Bakhap or myself should find a pair for him.
– S - Senator Guy sent an urgent telegram to the leader of our party, asking for a pair.
– Have you a similar request from Senator Long?
– The Leader of the Opposition would not accept my offer of a pair for Senator Guy. That offer was made on Friday.
– -Because I am under the impression that Senator Guy is paired with .Senator O’Loghlin. I was willing to accept Senator de Largie’s offer on behalf of Senator Long.
– In regard to the statement of Senator O’Keefe, I can only say that this is the first time that he has disclosed the receipt of any such request from Senator Guy.
– H - His telegram arrived on Friday night, after the Senate had risen.
– I was in Launceston over the previous week end, and there was nobody there who takes the slightest interest in public affairs who was not aware of my presence there on the Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. I was within 100 yards of where
Senator Guy was lying ill, and yet I received no request for a pair. Why should I assume that I should pair with a man without first receiving either a direct request from him or an authoritative request from somebody who is in a position to be absolutely sure that he would vote in an opposite direction to myself ? As a matter of fact, as Senator Bakhap stated this morning, after the development of last week, we both of us took this matter into serious consideration. We felt that we would have to cut out altogether the question of elections, to eliminate individuals, and to think only of the honour of our State, which was being impugned. There was a member of the House of Representatives who came over here while I was busy, and who spoke to Senator Bakhap on the subject, and jointly we sent a telegram to the Premier of Tasmania. Will anybody pretend that that member was influenced by any Mercury article ? Why, that very article to which reference has been made, and which I have not yet read myself, did not appear until Saturday. His action was prompted by consideration for his own State. ‘
As to various suggestions which have been made during the course of this debate, I will go so far as to say that I told the Vice-President of the Executive Council that I was ‘ not . quite certain of my own attitude in regard to the motion for the’ prolongation of the life of this Parliament. He frankly and straightforwardly told Senator Bakhap and myself that he was not fool enough to think that he was going to interfere with our considered judgment. He said, “ You are men of experience and of character, but take everything into consideration before you act, and I only hope that what you do will be in your own best interests and the best interests of the Commonwealth.” That conversation was not sought at all. It was a conversation which arose through meeting the Minister in the corridor. There was no privacy about it. That is the position in which Senator Bakhap and myself stand.
There is another matter to which I desire to refer. Senator Findley, in the course of a very eloquent address, which he delivered in louder tones than usual-
– He was talking to the gallery.
– He generally comes over here and looks up to the Melbourne press gallery while he is speaking. This afternoon he did not do that, and, consequently, he had to roar.
– He was on the wrong side.
– Yes, and he had to roar to make an impression. Senator Findley referred to the personnel of the Australian delegation to the Imperial War Conference, in London. I do not think Senator Millen will imagine that I am disclosing anything of a confidential nature when I say that I told him I felt very strongly about Sir William Irvine going to London, but that that circumstance would not be the final factor in my determination of the attitude which I would assume towards the motion for prolonging the life of Parliament. As to the remaining representatives of Australia at the Conference, I look upon Sir John Forrest, not as Senator Findley coarsely puts it, from an avoirdupois point of view, but as one of the biggest Australians this country has ever produced. Mr. Hughes, the Prime Minister, I considered, must go. I expressed that opinion last week, long before these developments occurred, and it was published broadcast throughout Australia. Setting aside Sir William Irvine’s personality altogether, I take the view that the Commonwealth should not be represented at the Conference by a man who is not a Minister of the Crown. One of the bases of the policy of the Government, as recently announced, is that we are to have responsible government - Ministers responsible to Parliament, and members of Parliament responsible to the people - so that, apart from any other consideration, no man occupying a non-Ministerial position should go to the Conference. It was in connexion with that difficulty that I spoke to Senator Millen generally about this motion. I venture to say that neither he nor his colleagues in the Government knew - nor could they say when they met here this morning that they knew - what attitude Senator Bakhap and I might take if the motion were put to a division during the morning. Coming to other considerations affecting Tasmania, I felt that the honour, the integrity, and the fair fame of that State, in the representation of which I have shared since the inception of Federation, is in question, and the course of action that we, as representatives of the people, must take will lead to its position being speedily cleared up. For the sake of the integrity and reputation of the Commonwealth among the nations of the world it is imperative that the serious charges that have been made should be investigated and determined by the most appropriate tribunal. In order that Australia may not lack representation at the Imperial Conference, I should be quite satisfied if the High Commissioner of the Commonwealth, Mr. Fisher, the ex-High Commissioner, Sir George Reid, and Sir John McCall, a native-born Australian, who is Australian in every fibre of his being, were appointed delegates pro tem.
– Why not Sir Timothy Coghlan?
– Let the third representative be Sir Timothy Coghlan, if honorable senators so desire. I have recently been in London, and I know of no man coming from Australia whose status there is higher, no man who is more appreciated and respected than Sir John McCall, whose every nerve vibrates responsively to every Australian sentiment.
– But neither of the gentleman mentioned would have the qualification that the honorable senator insisted upon a few moments ago when he said that Australia should be represented only by Ministers.
– I recognise that, but I would remind Senator Millen that I said that these gentlemen could, if necessary, be representatives “pro tem. at the Conference. I observe that the Conference has been adjourned, and if it is necessary for it to proceed with its deliberations at an early date there may be others who can act for us, and who are just as distinguished and talented as those who have been named from here.
I desire, in conclusion, to say once more that in no circumstances could the Government have known what action I would take in relation to this motion. I am invariably here, Mr. President, when you read the prayer at the opening of the sitting each day, but I deliberately refrained from attending until five minutes after the opening hour to-day, because I was not going to discuss the situation with any one. That being so, the Government could not have known what were my intentions in regard to this mo tion. The attitude which Senator Bakhap and I have taken up is not, as has been suggested by some honorable senators opposite, the result of any newspaper article. We can show by documentary evidence and otherwise that our course of conduct, as well as that of a representative of Tasmania in ‘ another place, was mapped out, if not definitely decided upon in detail long before anything appeared in the press that was calculated to influence us.
– In the course of his address Senator Keating referred to the question of pairs. He said that while in Launceston he was within 100 yards of the hospital in which Senator Guy was lying, that his presence in Launceston was well known, and that he was interviewed by the representatives of different newspapers there, but that no request was made to him to grant a pair to Senator Guy. That explanation was proffered by him no doubt in answer to the statement made by Senator OKeefe, and to the statements that I made last week-end. As I then interjected, an official request for pairs for Senator Long and Senator Guy was made to the Government Whip on Wednesday afternoon last. From the moment that Senator Ready took ill, I have been the acting Whip of the Opposition, and in that capacity I told Senator de Largie, the Government Whip, on Wednesday afternoon last that Senator Gardiner was anxious to know if Senator Long and Senator Guy would be given pairs. The reply I received was that pairs would not be given, and I informed my leader of that answer. This proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that on the Wednesday afternoon, so far as the Government were concerned, through the lips of their Whip, pairs would, not be given to Senator Long and Senator Guy.
– What authority had you to pair Senator Long?
– As acting Whip I had no authority. I asked Senator de Largie straight out if pairs would be given for Senators Long and Guy; he replied, “ No,” and I informed the leader on this side accordingly. I do not know what arrangements Senator Ready had made. On Wednesday afternoon I saw Senator Ready having luncheon upstairs. When I had finished lunch I went to the table where he was sitting between Mr.
Anstey and Senator Stewart, clapped him on the back, and spoke jocularly to him. That was about half-past 1 or twenty-five minutes to 2, About a quarter to 2 Senator Ferricks told me in the Senate Club Room that Senator Ready had collapsed in the dining-room, and was now in the President’s room. I said, “ I will go in at once and see him.” Senator Ferricks said, “ Don’t go in yet, because it might be well that he should remain quiet for a while.” I said, “I will see him later in the afternoon.” About five minutes to 2 o’clock you, Mr. President, came into the Senate Club Room, and asked me if I had heard of Senator Ready’s collapse. I said I had, and had been about to go in to see him, but that Senator Ferricks had suggested that he should be kept quiet. You, sir, then told me that Senator Ready desired to see me in your room at once. I went and saw him lying on the couch. He certainly was very ill at that time. His hand was clammy, and there were beads of cold perspiration on his brow. At my suggestion a rug was obtained for him. He said to me, “ Will you ask the leader of the party and your comrades to allow you to act in my place as Whip ? “ I readily agreed, .and immediately took on the duties. I asked him what the position was as far as pairs were concerned, and all he told me was that Senator Gardiner was paired with Senator Millen for that day.
– At my request.
– Yes. About twenty minutes to 3 o’clock Senator de Largie met me in the corridor and told me that Senator Gardiner and Senator Millen were paired for the day. He said, “ Senator Millen is going to move the prolongation motion, and the Government do not desire to take any advantage of the absence of the Leader of the Opposition. Will you, at Senator Millen’s request, rise in your place and move the adjournment of the debate on the motion when Senator Millen has finished speaking?” I agreed, but the arrangement was unnecessary, as Senator Gardiner arrived in time.
– I did not say at Senator Millen’s request. I asked you to do it on behalf of Senator Gardiner.
– 1 think the honorable senator will remember that he told me that Senator Millen had asked him to convey that request to me.
– The point was that 1 did not wish that the motion should be moved in Senator Gardiner’s absence without some one being ready to give him a full opportunity of continuing the debate.
– In essence Senator de Largie conveyed the honorable senator’s desire to me. Later in the afternoon I called to see Senator Ready. He was nob in the President’s room, and I found him in Senator Gardiner’s room. He was not so bad then as when I had seen him before. He said he was going to the Commercial Travellers’ Club to remain there. I asked him if there was anything I could do for him, and he said, “ No.” He told me he was not sure if the doctor was coming that afternoon or the next morning. On Thursday morning last at twenty-five minutes to 10 o’clock I rang up the Commercial Travellers’ Club to find out how he was after the night. He came to the telephone and told me he had put in a very bad night; that he had not slept all night. Senator Senior sneers, but I am simply making a statement of facts in rebuttal, of certain statements and innuendoes from the other side.
– I was wondering how the public would be interested in a conversation over the telephone.
– Perhaps before I finish the honorable senator may be sorry for his sneers. Senator Ready told me that the doctor had not seen him, but was expected during the morning. I then said, “ If you are required to-day to come up to the Senate for a division, do you think you will be able to come? “ He said, “Yes, I think I will. I will ring you up shortly after lunch at the Senate and let you know.” I waited until about five minutes to 2 o’clock, and he had not rung me up.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– I was saying that at five minutes before 2 o’clock on Thursday afternoon last Senator Ready had not telephoned to me, in accordance with his promise, given by telephone that morning. I waited until five minutes past 2, and then rang up the Commercial Travellers’ Club, and asked whether he was there, and whether I could speak to him. He came to the telephone, and, after
I had told him who was speaking, I asked him whether the doctor had been to see him. He said, “ Hot yet.” I asked when he expected the doctor, and he replied, “ About twenty minutes past 2.” I thereupon said, “Following on my request of this morning, do you think it will be possible for you to come to Parliament House by 3 o’clock? You may be wanted. You said this morning that you would come if you were wanted.” He said, “ I cannot tell you until the doctor comes to see me.” I then asked whether he could let me know at the latest by twenty minutes to 3, and he replied that he could not do so, because he would have to wait until the doctor came. At that moment I was rung off, and that ends the conversations, personal and by telephone, between Senator Ready and myself. The next I heard was the statement which was made about 3 o’clock on the Thursday afternoon, when the Senate was assembling, to the effect that Senator Ready had resigned. I said, at the beginning of my remarks this evening, that Senator Ready was ill when I saw him on the Wednesday afternoon in the President’s room. I saw him later in Senator Gardiner’s room, and I was in conversation with him then, and at different times until seven minutes past 2 on Thursday afternoon. My wonder is that he did not intimate to me, as acting Whip of his party, or to the leader of his party, or to any member of the party, that he contemplated resigning. It is one of the first courtesies to pay to any party to which one belongs to intimate to the leader of it, or to the party itself, one’s intention to resign a seat in Parliament, and it is remarkable to me that Senator Ready, the trusted official of the party, did not let any of his colleagues know what his intentions were until he announced them to Senator Gardiner, who went to see him at the Commercial Travellers’ Club on the afternoon on which he resigned. I leave the matter there. Senator de Largie, by way of interjection before the adjournment, asked my authority for speaking about pairs in relation to Senators Long and Guy. I replied to the honorable senator at the moment, but during the adjournment Senator O’Keefe has been good enough to hand to me an Argus extract, which will throw some light on the attitude that Senator Long intended to adopt. The following paragraph ap peared in the Argus on 15th November, 1915 :-
Senator Beady has resigned the position of Government Whip in the Senate. He stated last night that he had received a letter from Senator Long, who is seriously indisposed, stating that, though unable to attend the Caucus meeting, he wished it to be made known that it was his intention to remain in the Labour party with his Tasmanian Labour colleagues in the Senate.
That was the day after Mr. Hughes and those associated with him left the party room in another portion of this building. At that time Senator Ready was Government Whip. That is the only reply that I can give to Senator de Largie, in addition to what I have already said.
– That was five months ago. A great deal has happened since then.
– I agree with the honorable senator; a lot of water has run under the bridge since then, and particularly during the last week. I come now to the statement made to-day by Senator Millen when he was moving “ That the Senate do now adjourn.” What a most remarkable change has come over the Senate since Friday?
– The Opposition are very quiet now.
– They are just as vigorous as they were on Thursday and Friday last, and as they have been since they have occupied these benches. They are more pleased to-day than they have been, because they realize that, as a result of the statement of the Leader of the Senate, they will have a chance of appealing, along with honorable senators opposite, to a higher tribunal than they can appeal to here. Senator Milieu’s statement reminded me of that old saying
The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men Gang aft a-gley.
Last Thursday there was on the businesspaper a notice of motion, having for its object the prolongation of the life of this Parliament. It was on the notice-paper on Wednesday last, when Senator Ready took ill, but on that day Senator Millen asked that the notice of motion be postponed until the Ministerial statement had “ been dealt with. The Senate agreed to the proposal of the Leader of the House, because at that moment the Government had sixteen votes on their side against our fifteen, and no action could be taken by the Opposition on that day. But on Thursday, after we knew that Senator Ready had tendered his resignation,, when the business of the Senate was called upon, Senator Millen repeated his motion of the day before that the notice of motion regarding the prolongation of Parliament be postponed until after consideration of the Ministerial statement. The Opposition called “ No,” and, on a division being taken, there were sixteen “ Ayes “ and sixteen “Noes.” Consequently, -the motion of the Leader of the Senate was negatived. It was then competent for Senator Millen to proceed with the motion. You, sir, reminded him of the fact that if he did not proceed with the motion, it would drop off the notice-paper. Neither Senator Millen nor Senator Pearce said a word, and you, sir, thereupon announced that the notice of motion lapsed. Next day, when Senator Earle had been sworn in, and taken his seat, the Government plucked up fresh courage. Senator Millen immediately gave notice of the same motion as he had allowed to drop off <he notice-paper the day before, because the Government had not the numbers in the Senate to carry it. With the acquisition of Senator Earle to their side, the Government were in a position to carry the motion by seventeen votes to fifteen, having regard to the number of votes available. Senator Millen then went further. Instead of moving the adjournment of the Senate in the usual way on Friday, he moved that the Senate should meet again at 11 o’clock to-day - a most unusual procedure. Why was it taken ? Confident that he had now a majority behind him, he called the Senate together to-day in order that the motion should be put through. To-day, however, instead of moving that motion, he immediately moved the adjournment of the Senate, and indicated the intention of the Government to send both branches of the Legislature to the country at an early date. Senator Millen could have made that statement long ago. Honorable senators on this side helped him in every possible way to bring about an appeal to the people.
– God save the Government if we have to rely on your help !
– We have helped the Government to go before the electors. Our last vote on Thursday proved our sincerity in that direction. The Government were determined that they would not go to the country; but to-day, when they find that they have not the majority for which they had manoeuvred, and of which they were sure on Friday - to-day, when they find they had reckoned without their hosts - they are compelled to take a step that is distasteful to them, and the de’il thank them. Senator Millen made no attempt to dispute the fact that there was a doubt as to there being a majority on the Government side to carry the motion for the prolongation of Parliament; but Senator Pearce stated distinctly that the Government’s decision to precipitate an election was not taken because of the fact that two Ministerial supporters would oppose the prolongation of Parliament. Senator Bakhap interjected that that was not so.
– I stated that I had no knowledge that either Senator Bakhap or Senator Keating was going to vote against the motion, and Senator Bakhap interjected, “ That is so.”-
– Of course Senator Pearce did not know. We did not say a word to him on the question.
– When the speech of Senator Pearce is perused in Hansard, it will be . found that Senator Bakhap interjected a direct negative to the Minister’s statement.
– I did not say a word to the Leader of the Senate as to how I would vote. I did have a conversation with one member of the Government.
– That is a straight-out admission. Does Senator Pearce think that we on this side are so simple as to believe that, before Senator Millen came into the Senate to-day and moved the adjournment, neither he nor the Government knew the attitude of these two Tasmanian senators?
– I. will bet the Minister did not know my attitude.
– It is a most remarkable thing that the Government should have called the Senate together this morning to deal wilh a notice of motion that had been dropped off the notice-paper last Thursday, and restored on Friday ; and that to-day the Leader of the Senate should immediately move the adjournment, and announce a double election.
– We knew that you wanted an election.
– This side is glad to have it.
– I think the position at first was that the Government was going to put the motion to the Senate, regardless of whether it would be carried or not. It intended to put the responsibility on this Chamber. I am not sure, but I think that was the Government’s intention.
– If that is so, why did Senator Millen drop the motion off the notice-paper last Thursday when he had not a majority to carry it?
– It might be a matter of policy to place a question before the members even if the Government do not anticipate its being carried.
– It is hard to know what is the policy of the present Government.
– The honorable senator’s contention is that we must proceed with the business according as it . suits his party.
– No; that is not the position at all. I am wondering why, as you did not proceed with the business on Friday, you called. us together to deal with the motion for the prolongation of Parliament to-day, and then moved to adjourn the Senate. Why was that done? Because the Government had not the numbers. Coming to the arrival of Senator Earle in this chamber, I have still grave doubts as to whether this gentleman is constitutionally a member of the Senate or not.
– That settles the question, then.
– Shortly before he was sworn in, Senator Gardiner raised the question, and you, Mr. President, ruled that Senator Earle had been duly and constitutionally appointed.
– Were you consulted ?
– No; insulted.
– You were asked by way of interjection if the signature of the Governor of Tasmania had been seen by the Governor-General or yourself, and you admitted that everything had been done by telegraph.
– I did not admit anything of the kind. I did not know how it was done, but I said it could as readily be done by telegram as by letter.
– It must have been done by telegram, because Senator Earle took his seat in this chamber on Friday morning, and there would not have been time for the Governor-General to have seen the signature of the Governor of Tasmania. I agree that, so far as section 15 of the Constitution is concerned, everything has been done correctly; but in the Electoral Act there. is a section which raises a doubt in my mind whether or not Senator Earle could take his seat.
– We have heard you quoting poetry and Scripture. Now let us have a little of the Constitution.
– I have heard Senator de Largie do many things. When he came back from England he gave us a lecture. Section 96 of the Electoral Act provides -
No person who is at the date of nomination or who was at any time within fourteen days prior to the dato of nomination a member of the Parliament of a State shall be capable of being nominated as a senator, or as a member of the House of Representatives.
Section 15 of the Commonwealth Constitution does not refer to the Electoral Act, because when the Constitution was adopted there was no such Act in existence. But in the situation which has arisen, should not section 96 of the Electoral Act be read in conjunction with section 15 of the Constitution? Senator Earle was a member of the Tasmanian House of Assembly. He resigned on Tuesday last, or, at any rate, he had resigned by Friday.
– That is very much nearer.
– You had re: signed your seat, before you came into the Senate, but your resignation was not fourteen days old.
– Quite true.
– Will the honorable senator please address the Chair?
-Well, Mr. President, you were reading the evening paper, and I was addressing you all the time. I think I have as much right to address a senator as you have to read a paper when I am speaking. I am under the impression that section 96 of the Electoral Act raises a doubt as to whether Senator Earle is legally a member of this Senate.
– There is not the slightest doubt about the matter.
– You, Mr. President, admitted that you got the information by telegram, and likewise the GovernorGeneral must have received it by telegram, and so the Governor-General could have had no proof that it was the Governor of Tasmania who signed the telegram authorizing the presence here of Senator Earle. It is well known that in law the signature of the person concerned is an essential point, and I think that. in a matter like the appointment of a senator to succeed another who has resigned, the Governor-General - who is the channel of communication - should have seen the written signature of the Governor of the State, and not have depended upon a telegram. I will not follow this matter further, except to say that this is certainly a point which should be determined, either by the Committee of the Senate or a higher tribunal. It will be futile on the part of the Government to say that, because of the opposition shown by this party to the’ proposal for the prolongation of the life of Parliament, the delegates appointed to the Imperial War Conference cannot leave Australia.- The real truth is that there is not unity among Government supporters. Members on this side welcome the action of the Government. We cheerfully pick up the gauntlet which has been thrown down, and will be prepared to leave the issue in the hands of the “electors.
– I make no apologies. for address- - ing the Senate on the present occasion, although, perhaps, I occupied more time than I was entitled to only a few days ago; but, apparently, we are living in times when it becomes necessary to speak out. I feel that, having a mind capable of producing thought - the only flower that it can produce - this thought, if it is worth expression at all, should unfold itself, unhampered and uninterrupted by any agency on this earth. In a measure, if not completely so, that is the reason why we are here on your right, Mr. President, and that is the reason why those gentlemen are on your left, to-night. Inside of twelve months ago, the gentlemen on your left, and a number of those on your right, were brothers-in-arms. They confided in each other, and, except for those family breezes which are never absent, even in well-regulated families, we were, to all intents and purposes, a united party. To-day we are riven asunder, and the majority, of which I formed a member less; than a year ago, Bit on your left.
I am here with the small minority. Why are we here ? We are here, as I have said, because we insist upon that inalienable and unchallengeable right that a free man should possess’ to express his thoughts independently of consequences in a free Democracy. That is what we are here for, in strict keeping with that sacred principle, without which a free Democracy is a delusion and a. sham. For this we are taunted. Is there a word in the vocabulary of epithets which has not been wasted upon us by Senator Mullan, who said that I was “in the bag,” to other honorable senators who called me and others traitors 1 I wish to draw the minds of these men, if they are not hopelessly steeped in prejudice yet, if there is still a shimmering grain of equity and justice in their compositions, to. the position. What is it ? We are here, I say again, in obedience to. that mental injunction, that impulse of the soul,’ without which a free man is only a slave, to give expression to the thoughts which are in our minds, and that regardless pf what may befall us afterwards. What I give expression to here are the thoughts that affect myself outside the domain and province of the four corners of the agreement into which the electors and myself entered. It is because I am insisting upon that, even with the last breath, that I am to be called a traitor, to be taunted by Senator Mullan that I am “in the bag,” and that I am here for the salary which I drew. Let me tell Senator Mullan that, in opposition to his charge, my reputation of twenty-six years in the Labour movement stands out. Let me remind him that, in this country, there were positions for which I was chosen, not carrying the’ £1,500 a year which I drew as a Minister, but carrying, perhaps, £1,000 a year more than that sum, and for which, as well as the Ministerial position, I never turned a hair. Any form of preferment that has ever been offered to me in my public or private life in Australia has not been given to me by reason of my having lifted a little finger or turned a hair to get it But now I am told by Senator Mullan and his friends that I am where I am, after having refused other things - better things, too, than perhaps I am in enjoyment of - for the sake of what I am getting. Such is the position which we have got down to in the public life of this country, when the reputation pf a man extending over a quarter of a century can stand out in contradiction to the foul charges levelled against him. We are here - and we offer no apology for our presence - in support of a true Democracy. Without our presence, I say again, a free Democracy would have no chance of living, either here or elsewhere, according to my reading of history.
Suppose that an impartial observer were to land here from Mars, or somewhere else, and were told that a strong, organized political party existed in this country within the last few months, and that a part of the party was driven asunder for good reasons, went out from the shelter of the strongest political machine ever fashioned south of the line, went out from the friendship of comrades extending over a period of twenty years, do you, sir, not think that this impartial man would agree that there was something else in that party than material for making traitors and renegades and rats, as we have been called? We are going before a tribunal - and, thank God, it is a higher, a juster, and truer tribunal than that which has been called upon to pronounce judgment upon us in the past - and we are sanguine of success.
– Going very reluctantly.
– With pleasure.
– Bear in mind that it does not matter whether we are immediately successful. So long as we sow the seed of public justice and equity in this country which will bring about our vindication, if not at this election, at the following one, I shall be content. I know well enough that men who have gone before us and attempted to do right have seldom or rarely obtained a vindication during their own life time. So it may be with us. If we are not successful now, although I believe that we will overwhelm our opponents, we shall be content, so far as I am concerned, with getting a vindication later, as every big and great man got his posthumous vindication before.
What is the position reduced to? We are here, and the subject of our discussion largely ranges round the events of the last two days. Something was said by yourself, sir, by Senator Pearce, and by the Prime Minister in confidence to another honorable senator. I believe that in the interests of public justice no seal of secrecy or confidence should stand in the way of its vindication. I believe that absolutely, because contrariwise, if men choose to conspire amongst themselves, and by doing so would defeat the end of public justice and morality, then public justice and morality would have no point, and no object for existence. In my view nothing should stand between the vindication of public justice and the matters that are subject to it. Having stated my position as far as confidences are concerned, I can now proceed to reason on the basis of the statements which have been made.
Starting off with that as a preliminary admission, it is to be remembered that the essence of all crime is the intent. It matters not what a man says or does or appears to do, what is endeavoured to be ascertained on all occasions is what was the secret motive moving the individual or the body of individuals whenever they were disposed to wrongdoing or to any form of misdemeanour. The intent and nothing else,” I say again, justifies any person in being condemned. If it is proved that any persons have an evil intent in their minds, then, apart altogether from what they may say or do, or intend to do, they have to be judged by that fact and nothing else. Starting from that point we have this position, that for public convenience we have a Parliament House where the representatives of the people may come and discuss public questions affecting the public welfare. You, sir, have a room set apart for yourself ; the Chairman of Committees and other officers of the Senate have rooms set apart for themselves ; even honorable senators have a single room walled off from the end of a corridor - for what purpose? At least for this ostensible purpose, to enable honorable senators from yourself downwards to talk upon matters over which they want at least the shield of confidence and privacy thrown. Otherwise knock down these walls and create a wall-less chamber where all may congregate and all may talk together. That is what you have to do. In the complex organization of society no man can stand apart as an independent unit. Any man who thinks it possible to do so had better go to the South Pole, and form a colony of Ishmaelites there. There are moments when members subscribing to different policies discuss matters from the same stand-point, to their mutual advantage. But would any honorable senator like to have a report of his private conversations thrown on the screen 1
– Everything that takes place in the club-room is supposed to be confidential.
– Yes. I have had private conversations with scores of senators which I should not like to have repeated in public, and common sense and reason, which are our guides and mentors in these matters, declare that private conversations should be regarded as confidential. Free discussion would else be impossible, and those who now say anything to the contrary wilfully shut their eyes to the facts of life. I am sorry that Senator Watson is not now in the chamber, because I intend to direct my remarks very pointedly at him. He has said that, being invited, he approached you, Mr. President, the Minister for Defence, and the Prime Minister. We have had his ex parte account of his interview with you. To your honour, you declined to violate the confidence which the conversation implied, and, although Senator Watson has related that conversation in a manner to make it as ugly as possible, can it be said that there is anything in what he has stated that is discreditable to you, or that differs from what other honorable senators have said under similar circumstances many times? I am certain that no impartial judge would hold you guilty of impropriety, even on his ex parte statement.
Then he told us that Senator Pearce had reminded him of the hopelessness of his position in New South Wales, and had urged him to let the voice of his conscience prevail, and to come over to this side of the chamber. That is all that Senator Pearce is declared to have said; that is the conversation that is the head and front of his offence. Was there anything wrong in what Senator Pearce is declared to have said ? Having read Senator Watson’s statement dispassionately and without partiality, I cannot find anything improper in the remarks of Senator Pearce, who may confidently submit himself to the judgment of the electors in the matter. Senator Watson also saw Mr. Hughes, who, he said, told him that his position in New South Wales was hopeless, and advised him, as his judgment and conscience did not approve of his connexion with the Official Labour party, to come to our side of the chamber. Senator Watson contends that he will not budge an inch in his fidelity to his party, that by his party and his convictions he will stand or fall. Let us, however, take the Argus report of what Mr. Hughes said about the interview. According to the Argus reporter, Mr. Hughes declared that Senator Watson said that he would like to be with us. The latter denies that. Senator Pearce, whose political record extends over nearly a quarter of a century, solemnly assured the Senate that Senator Watson had told him that he was not comfortable in the company that he kept, and Mr. Hughes, according to the Argus report of his speech, said that Senator Watson told him, after some little conversation. “ You are right, and we are wrong. 1 wish I had the courage to do what you have done.” Thus, on the one hand, we have Senator Watson’s statement that he had not as much as dreamt of leaving the Labour party, and, on the other hand, the contradictions of Senator Pearce and Mr. Hughes. Senator Watson is new to politics, and his unsupported statement is flatly contradicted by the independent statements of two politicians, each of whom has been in politics for nearly twenty-five years, supported with the confidence of tens of thousands of the men and women of this country. This being so, Senator Watson must obtain corroboration of his statement before he can be regarded as having a strong case. Is there the semblance of evidence to support what he has said ? None whatever. Senator Watson may be an estimable man, but he has not enjoyed the confidence of the people of Australia anything like so long as have Senator Pearce and Mr. Hughes. We have these men on their honour flatly contradicting the statement of Senator Watson, and I say that, in view of the relative positions of the men concerned, we are entitled to disbelieve Senator Watson, and to believe the Prime Minister and Senator Pearce. Their words stand, and defy contradiction.
Moreover, Senator Watson has been asked, as I have asked him, to go out into the open, to walk outside the door of this chamber, and repeat there the charges he has made here. He has refused to do so. That is the place where the truth of his charges can be tested, and nowhere else. If he was a man with a semblance of courage or consistency he would repeat outside the charges with which he has here foully aspersed the characters of innocent men.
– If honorable senators opposite are all so innocent, why not have a Royal Commission ?
– I am trying to deal with this matter as I think it should be dealt with, and that is in the light of fair play. We have to recognise that in the heat of party dissensions, unless things are judged by the standard of fair play, a perfectly honest man may have no chance at all. The standards of fair play do not lead either this way or that. They stand erect. Senator Watson has been given the invitation to come out into the open, to pass through the’ door of this chamber, and make his charges outside, and I say that his refusal to do so covers him with suspicion. The honorable senator is not present. Why does he remove from this chamber ? He dare not show his face here while I am speaking.
– I shall go and find him.
– I hope the honorable senator will find him, because on the question of the appointment of a Royal Commission I have something important to say to him. I want this to be as clearly understood as language will enable me to convey it. If any honorable senator on the other side moves for the appointment of a Royal Commission to inquire into this matter, and Senator Watson will agree that it should go down upon the records of this Chamber that he will release from the. seal of confidence every person to whom he has opened his lips on the subject of his position in this Parliament, as he has himself released the President in a most unbecoming way, I shall vote for that Royal Commission. ‘ There is a challenge to honorable senators opposite.
– Why make it conditional ?
– Let me repeat my challenge. If Senator Watson will not go outside the door of this chamber, and make his charge in public, let him repeat it here, and let him tell honorable senators’ at the same time that he is prepared to release from the seal of confidence every person to whom he has spoken about his position on the other side, and I shall vote a hundred times for the appointment of a Royal Commis sion. Will the honorable senator do that ?
– How do I know ?
– Where is Senator Watson ? Let honorable senators look down in the cellar, and they will find that he is there. He knew that I was going to speak. I again repeat my challenge. Let the honorable senator make his charge and release every person with whom he has spoken on his position, whether in the railway trains, in this building, or elsewhere, from the seal of confidence, as he dared to break the seal of confidence with the President, and I shall vote every time for a Royal Commission. That is a fair proposition. That is playing the game. Let honorable senators opposite play the game and they will find me with them. Let Senator Watson release every man with whom he has spoken on his position from the seal of confidence, and then ask for a Royal Commission to inquire into this matter, and I shall vote for it. Honorable senators opposite did not calculate on that, did they?
I come now to another incidental phase of the present trouble. I said in this chamber before that Mr. Hughes has been the champion of Labour for the past twenty-five years, and long’ before a number of honorable senators on the left of the Chair came into the Labour movement. He has suffered the pangs of hunger, and the biting blasts through a threadbare coat, but he never felt those things as bitter, as cruel, or as unkind as the black ingratitude today of the men who were his former allies. It is well within our memory how Mr. Hughes in a room in this building unfolded his- policy, and it was put to the vote early in the morning. The same Mr. Hughes, who has been called everything black and vile and contemptuous that could come from the tongues of the men whom he had so long befriended, was asked to go round to the executives to explain the position and try to induce them to deal Leniently with honorable senators opposite.
– He asked to be allowed to go before the executives.
– It is of no use for the honorable senator to interrupt; we will have the truth out now. Mr. Hughes was in the chair at the meeting, as we all remember, and he said, “I am going round to the executives.” When he said this, was there one dissentient voice from these men who claim to be so staunch in their belief in the efficacy and eternal justice of voluntarism 1 There was not one. When Mr. Hughes said, “ I will go round and try to save you,” not one of the men who now call him ‘ ‘ traitor ‘ ‘ and “renegade” said “I will fight my own battle; you stop where you are.”
– He said that he was prepared to go before any executive that would meet him.
– He offered to go round to the executives, and there was not a dissenting voice from this ungrateful set of men who now pour every vile epithet from the sump-pits of their minds on their former leader and friend. I owe nothing to Mr. Hughes, and all I am concern**! about is that he should be given a fair deal, and that men should not be found ungrateful to the man who gave so much of his time, attention, and his matchless brains to the cause he has espoused for the last twenty-five years. For twenty-five long years in the service of the Labour movement, a breath of foul suspicion was never wafted against him until now. Now, all at once, as was the case with other patriots in olden times, the very men who adored him, and who threw flowers in his way, are the men who unsheath their daggers and plunge them up to the hilt in his back. That is what these men have done, and that is the reason why I made up my mind, quite apart from the merits or otherwise of conscription, that I would not stand idly bv and witness that black assassination of the Prime Minister. He has been morally assassinated by men who were in the Caucus, and who remained like tombstones in a cemetery when he said that he would go round and fight their cause with the executives. He went round, and we know the result. He tried his level best to save these men who now show themselves to be so ungrateful. This was after his policy was carried by a substantial vote at about half-past 2 o’clock in the morning. This man has been made the object of all the vile language at the command of his former friends, whom he did his best to save. That is not how our conception of human relationship should be moulded.
In civilized society to-day, there is one thing which we cannot ignore, and that is gratitude for and remem brance of faithful service. If men turn their backs upon a man who has given them faithful service, and, without just cause, refuse him the consideration to which he is entitled, the time will come when their own acts will rend them, as they deserve to be rended, as unspeakably loathsome specimens of the human race. For the first act by Mr. Hughes, off must go his head. These gentlemen for whom he pleaded for leniency do not believe in a first offender’s code. I said the other night that, in the junta’s legal code, there is no First Offenders Act. With them, even the very suspicion of guilt is enough, and they come between the electors and the elected. In a free Democracy there is, in my opinion, no room for such a body, and I shall raise my voice and do my little best to see that what room there may be is made less and less until utterly extinguished. Gentlemen in another place affect a holy horror at any suspicion cast on the genuineness of their convictions. I have said previously in this chamber that there are men in the Official Labour party by the dozen who would, and ought to be, with us on this side, if they only spoke their own thoughts. I should like to give an illustration just to show how my friend, Senator Watson, who still keeps out of the chamber, has arrived in his position, and what is practised by these people who are masquerading in the name of freedom. There is a member of the State Parliament of Queensland whose experience typifies the conditions to which public men are brought today. This gentleman was found to be on the anti-conscriptionists’ side, although it was known that he had previously declared himself to the contrary. When he was asked why he “was in that camp he gave a mournful and downcast glance, and said, “ Look here, I am here, and I am sorry; I admit that I have lost my - adjective - manhood.” This party of lost manhood compelled this man to take a side to which he was opposed, but which he had to take for the sake of earning his bread.
– Another ex parte statement !
– It is not an ex parte statement.
– To whom does the honorable senator refer?
– I am not talking to Senator Mullan, because that senator is outside the pale.
– It is not fair to throw an aspersion ou the whole party.
– I am giving an authenticated statement of a case in Queensland, showing how men are degraded, and under the heels of the juggernaut have their conscience wrenched and twisted until, like this gentleman, they have to admit they have lost their manhood. Honorable senators opposite know well that by a turn of the screw given by the intermeddling body of the Trades Hulls, the very manhood is crushed out of them to-day. Of course, I except some of them, amongst them Senator Barnes; but that honorable senator knows as well as I do that there are not one or two, but close on a dozen, if not more, on his side who have by profession and public pronouncement declared conscription to be the right thing.
– The honorable senator is absolutely wrong; I do not know anything of the kind.
– Then I withdraw what I have said ; but my own personal experience of those men remains. I made some reference to breaches of confidence, and if I were as free as Senator Watson holds himself to be to break confidences I could give the names of at least, twelve or eighteen members who are in that position.
– I give the honorable senator absolute permision to repeat anything I have ever said. That is a fair offer!
– I refuse to get down to the level of the honorable senator who still keeps out of the chamber.
-ES - Well, so far as I am concerned, you have my permission to speak.
– The honorable senator is one of whom I made special exception. We know him to be a convinced anti-conscriptionist, but there are a number of others with him who are not. As I say, I shall not get down to the despicable level of breaking confidence in order to present my case more strongly.
Wo are here to do the best we can for this country; and no man who has taken a lead in the struggle for a free system of government has escaped the troubles now assailing the Prime Minister. If we go back through the centuries we find that any man who has made a footprint on the sands of time has, at some period or other, been the victim of foul suspicion or worse. We can start with the Bracchi of ancient Rome, who went down under the daggers of the mob they had befriended. Then, in the French revolu-tion, we have Danton with his “ Audacity, more audacity, and audacity all the time.” Danton went finally .to his doom at the hands of Robespierre, who, is turn, had to suffer from the effects of his own policy. Danton was the man who, if he could, would have breathed into the Democracy of France something that would have caused it to live and stand the test of time, for he was ever a man of tho people. Then, in England, we’ know that the Duke of Wellington, the hero of Waterloo, was chased through the streets of London, and had his house mobbed; indeed, on the very steps of Parliament House he was struck a blow by some ruffian in the crowd. There was much in what the Duke of Wellington did with which I do not agree, but he had done well for England, and yet he did not escape the jeers and shafts of mischievous enemies. Sir Robert Peel, when dealing with the corn laws, suffered from tho taunts that were levelled at him. And, by-the-bye, Wellington himself was accused of criminality, just . as Mr. Hughes baa beon called a criminal in this chamber. Wellington’s name lives, but who was the man who called him a criminal t The name of Mr. Hughes will live much longer than the names of those who have accused him of criminality. Then what happened to Parnell in Ireland ? When fighting his elections be was subjected to the utmost contumely and abuse, had lime thrown in his eyes, and all the rest of it. Parnell a traitor 1 Parnell’s name lives, and will live when the names of those who met him at Kilkenny arc forgotten, as all ungrateful factions ought to be forgotten. And what about my other compatriot, Henry Grattan ? After he had given up the best years of his life to his country, an ungrateful mob conspired to throw him into the Liffey,’ and his blood flowed in the streets of his native town. Last of all comes Washington, the father of, his country, who widened the horizon of human freedom the world, over. Did he escape? No. This reminds me of the honorable senator who is still out of tho chamber, for, as shown in George Trevelyans history, a clergyman of the day, named Odell, called ‘Washington a perjurer and a liar’. Then there was Mazzini, the Italian patriot, who had to .live for years in the cellars of Marseilles and elsewhere. Go down the .whole list of patriots the world over, and we find them suffering at the hands of the ungrateful, malicious, or short-sighted section of the community, who are not blessed with any charitable instinct, and who, by their taunts and actions, make a hell on earth for the great ones. This has been the experience in every age and clime; and Mr. Hughes is only enduring again what every worthy man of the past has had to endure for carrying out the dictates of his mind and the prompting of his conscience.
Until now, Mr. Hughes never came under the breath ‘ of suspicion ; but a Judas has come down upon him, and has exclaimed “ Away with him. He stands condemned. Off with his head.” Again, let me say, there is no First Offenders Act in the Judas code. For what would they take off the Prime Minister’s head f For doing exactly what Labourites in the Old Country have done, for advocating precisely what they are advocating to-day. For this, Mr.’ Hughes is to be tumbled into a traitor’s’ moral grave, while his compatriots in Great Britain are honoured and exalted. I ask whether honorable senators, opposite are not ashamed that they stand behind such a damnable doctrine. In the Old Country, Mr. Henderson and every Labour supporter stand firmer in the esteem of Labour Democrats than they ever did before on account, amongst other things, of their advocacy of conscription. But in Australia-, Mr. Hughes and those who support him. are to have their heads cut off. It would be a baseborn Democracy that would tolerate such a condition of affairs. We stand here to ask the Democrats of Australia to wipe out of political existence the men who dare to punish us for the thoughts that we entertain, Demo.cracy will not submit to that. The Official Labour .junta is like a crooning witch outside her cave, with an immortal and implacable grievance against mankind, sawing the air in every direction with her bony hand and vicious claw, and looking for fresh victims. The Labour leaders are first picked off. From their covert security in the Trades Hall, the cowardly members ‘ of the junta, backed up by honorable senators opposite, snipe the erstwhile leaders of the Labour movement. Why do they not come out into the open and say that every man and woman who voted for conscription should be expelled from the party, and branded as we have been branded? Because they know they would be wiped cif the political landscape. But, in their cowardice and malice, from their dug-outs in the Trades Hall, they snipe the leaders of the Labour movement. We are here to shed a ray of sunlight on their murky surroundings.
– It took the honorable senator a long time to discover what awful people they were..
– The Labour movement would have been intact to-day but for the action of honorable senators opposite, and I should have been sitting with Senator Barnes. But because he allowed such’ a damnable doctrine to be introduced into a free Democracy as that of cutting off my head for holding the opinion that is held by Mr. Henderson and other Labourites in the Old Country, I am separated from him.
– Why did not the honorable senator discover all these faults before?
– Because the attempt to penalize a man for exercising his conscience was never made before. In Western Australia, I and several other members of the Labour movement entered the Trades Hall Congress, and fought like lions, for three days to gain our freedom.
– We did the same thing, and put our position many months before. What is the use of balking that sort of stuff?
– I am telling honorable senators what we did in the Western State, where the elements composing the Labour party are just the same as the elements to be found elsewhere. Why were we given a free hand there? Because of the share we took in beating down the opposition which existed to a proper course of conduct being adopted by this young nation. The result waa that the Western State swung itself behind the Labour Government. But, in the Eastern States, men were expelled even for voting for the referendum. If I understand anything about a Democracy, it is that, if it does not give its units the right to think, to act, and to speak as their consciences dictate, it is not a Democracy at all. I do not understand a Democracy if a man must act as he is told, and must speak as he is directed. Yet that is precisely what members of the junta have sought to do on questions outside the solemn compact into which we entered with the electors. I am here to oppose that sort of thing. If there are any true friends of the Democracy of this country, they are to be found amongst those who were recently expelled from the Labour movement. As one eminent writer hae observed, “ Every true Democracy has within it the seeds of its own decay.” Every Democracy has within it the spirit of faction and the spirit of selfishness which pave the way in the end for the incoming of the dictator. In endeavouring to secure for the people liberty to think freely, we are acting as the best friends of true Democracy. We may be beaten, but that does not matter. Now that we have had our say, and are prepared to proffer our swords to the Democrats of Australia, we do so in the hope that we shall be returned triumphantly to push forward a policy which will save this country. Under the system of voluntarism, I have seen some families denuded to the last man, whilst others have held back. As one who is pledged to a policy of equity, how could I witness that sort of thing without a protest ? Never would it occur with my vote. .
But, apart from that consideration, what I have in my mind is what I am entitled to give this adopted country of mine. Here we possess the most glorious form of freedom to be found the world over - a freedom which has been purchased so cheaply that we do not value it. In my belief, that freedom is now menaced and imperilled. It is because of my desire to hand down to the unborn generations of the future the freedom that we enjoy today that I am acting as I am now, irrespective of consequences. Those unborn generations of Australia are the speechless participants in our actions. We are as much the custodians of their liberty as we are of our own; and if, by any act of folly or cowardice, or by reason of our failing to live up to the traditions of our forefathers, we allow that liberty which is ours in this glorious Australia to be handed down in light-weight fashion, lessened or impaired, future generations will remember us only with shame and regret. I say that we are proud of our forefathers. What section of our forefathers do we hold in dearest esteem ? That section in every land, within’ and without the Empire, which has fought against the foes of freedom. But the greatest fight for human freedom has been put up by those men within the Empire of which we form a part. What gives us a glow of pride and pleasure to-day, when we read those stories of the stalwarts of the past, is the independence they manifested right down through the ages in the effort to get that greater measure of human freedom which they themselves never lived to enjoy. They battled again and again. That proud, uncaged spirit of our forefathers was flung again and again against the ramparts of opposition, and finally we had ushered in that glorious freedom that we enjoy to-day.
Let us keep our manhood in Australia, when 10,000, or 20,000, or 50,000 men would decide the battle in Europe, and Australia alone will be at fault. It is for the purpose, then, of putting in a word for the unborn generations of this country, which has served me so well, that I have shaped the course that I have travelled since this war began. For doing so I have been subjected to no end of imputations and to base insinuations, such as always emanate from base minds. But to those who know me best my reply, like that of my leader, is :. “ There stands my blameless record of twenty-five years in the cause of Labour.” And that record will stand against all these base accusations.
I have, perhaps, unduly prolonged this debate, but I thought it my duty to enter it for the purpose of trying to induce some sweet reasonableness to generate in the minds of members of the Official Labour party opposite. I have endeavoured to show them that we are here, where we stand to-day, on account of the love we have for freedom, to express our thoughts. For that they have persecuted us. But in this election we shall go out on every platform and meet every imputation, every misrepresentation, and every lie. We shall try to chase down every untruth; but we know that falsehood flies, while truth comes lagging after. We shall have a big battle, but, with the object of preserving this free Democracy of ours free to the full, and unimpaired - with the object of handing it on to the generations to follow - we have torn ourselves asunder from the strong party with which we were so long associated, and are prepared to encounter all the violence of the tempest wherever opposition is launched against us. Here we stand to-day, true Labourites, true Democrats, true Australians, anxious that the Empire shall win this war ; anxious to see Australia put her shoulder under the burden, in the final effort, so that victory may at length rest under the banners of the Allies; anxious that we shall have human freedom, that Australia may be able to hold up her head as a participating nation, and. that no country will be able to say to her, “ You have not done your share.” We feel certain that, as the result of our appeal to the country, we shall be returned to power, and that the people will thus proclaim to the world that “ Australia will be there.”
Senator O’KEEFE (Tasmania) [9.25J. - I should not have intervened in thi3 debate but for statements made this afternoon by Senator Keating and Senator Bakhap in reference to the remarks made by Senator Gardiner and myself on Friday afternoon regarding the granting of pairs. In justice to my absent colleague, Senator Guy, for whom I asked that a pair be granted last Friday–
– And a pair was offered the honorable senator.
– I - I shall come to that in a moment. When the Senate adjourned on Friday afternoon, Senator Gardiner and I signed a joint cablegram to Senator Guy, not knowing whether he had left the hospital in Tasmania, or was likely to be- able to get here this week or not. The latest information we had received was that he was progressing very well, after undergoing two serious operations, .and we asked in this message whether it was possible for him to leave Launceston for Melbourne by Saturday’s steamer. On Saturday morning we received the following urgent reply from his son: - “Absolutely impossible Senator Guy leave hospital at present juncture. Letter following.” Later in the day we received another cablegram, apparently signed by Senator Guy himself, and authorizing Senator Gardiner, as leader of his party in the Senate, to obtain for him a pair, if possible. When on Friday afternoon I referred to the difficulty of getting pairs for two absent senators who were sick, I was under the impression that Senator Long was paired with Senator O’loghlin, but learned later that Senator de Largie had made an offer to Senator Gardiner that he would pair Senator O’Loghlin with Senator Guy. During this afternoon’s discussion, Senator de Largie asked Senator Needham, by way of interjection, what authority he had for saying that Senator Long wanted “a pair. So far as I know, Senator Needham gave a very fair authority when he read to the Senate the statement made by Senator Long to the then Whip of this party, Senator Ready. on the day after the historical Caucus meeting, from which Mr. Hughes walked out and formed his National Labour party. That statement appeared in the newspapers as coming from Senator Ready, and it was to the effect that Senator Long was unable to attend the Caucus meeting on the previous day, but that he was with his party in this crisis. That was quite sufficient to justify the belief that Senator Long, if here, would vote with his party on such a critical division as we expected would be taken to-day on the motion to extend the life of Parliament.
– There is no imputa- tion that Senator Long is not genuinely ill, although his illness is different from that suffered by Senator Guy.
– I - I make this statement because Senator Long is sick, and because, further, the interjection made by Senator de Largie this afternoon, perhaps unwittingly, might lead some people to infer that Senator Long would not have asked for a pair.
– What authority had the honorable senator for saying that Senator Long and Senator O’Loghlin were paired ?
– O - Only the authority that, just before Christmas, Senator Ready gave us to understand that Senator de Largie, as Whip for the Hughes party - this wa.s before the coalition took place - was willing to pair Senator O’Loghlin with Senator “Long.
– That is absolutely incorrect.
– Qui Quite a number on this side have that impression.
– There is absolutely no foundation for it.
– S - Senator de Largie on Friday interjected that he offered to pair Senator O’Loghlin, so that, apparently, he had authority to pair him.
– If I had already paired him, it would surely have been unfair for me to pair him a second time.
– I d I do not know whether the honorable senator had authority to pair Senator O’Loghlin on all divisions.
– One would think, judging by the way the honorable senator is speaking, that I could pair him with everybody.
– No, No, I say that he was offered as a pair for Senator Long. That was before the coalition, and we did not know whether Senator O’Loghlin would vote with the present Government or not.
– If they were paired, then the pair should appear in the pair-book; but it does not.
– If If that is the action of the late Whip, Senator Ready, it is something else to put down to his credit. I have no wish to say anything cruel or bitter about the action of my late colleague who resigned his place in such peculiar circumstances last week. Naturally, I am deeply pained. It was the shock of my seventeen years’ political life when I was told, by Senator Gardiner, of his resignation at 2 o’clock or a little after on Thursday afternoon. When he took ill at the luncheon table that day, he recovered an hour or two afterwards, and was in Senator Gardiner’s room. I was there sympathizing with him. He said he did not feel at all well, and had been working too hard, and I reminded him that I had told him a long time before that he was overdoing it. He suggested that he might not be successful at the coming election, but he never said a word to make me think that he intended to resign. It was a remarkable thing that somebody knew two or three days before that he was going to resign.
– It would not be very remarkable if there was some friction between him and the party.
– T - There was absolutely none, as is shown by the fact that at the party meeting the previous week he took his place as assistant secretary, and recorded the minutes, and spoke to this very question. Up to the moment to which I referred, he evidently had no intention of resigning. At all events, he did not tell his colleagues that he had any.
– Perhaps you did not give the arguments in his speech sufficient consideration .
- Sen Senator Bakhap was not there. He knows that we would be discussing now, not the question of the Senate adjourning, but the question of extending the life’ of Parliament, had it not come to the knowledge of the Government a few hours ago that two of its own supporters in the Senate did not see eye to eye with them, but were taking the right course on that question.
– A few hours ago?
– At At all events, it must have come to their knowledge after Friday.
– The Government has said that it arrived at the conclusion to take up its present line of action independently of our votes.
– The The Government asked us on Friday afternoon to meet at ‘ 11 o’clock to-day - a most unusual day and hour - to discuss the motion to extend the life of Parliament. Up to that hour it was currently supposed, and reported every day in the press, when the newspapers were counting heads, that all the senators on the Government side would vote for the motion. I do not know what right the papers had to take that for granted. There appeared to be no chance of the motion being carried, as the Senate was then constituted, until Sena-, tor Ready handed his resignation in on Thursday afternoon, and his place was filled with such lightning celerity on Friday morning by Mr. Earle. There was another change, however, between Friday and to-day. No doubt every elector in Tasmania will be pleased at the action Senators Bakhap and Keating have taken, giving the people, as it does, an opportunity to pronounce judgment, and will commend them for having broken away from the rest of their party on this question, contrary to what the newspapers generally anticipated. But I believe that those two honorable senators, like myself, would have welcomed another method of obtaining a decision on the circumstances surrounding the whole of our proceedings during the last few days. Tasmania contains two very Conservative newspapers - the Launceston Examiner and the Hobart Mercury - that have always been opposed to the Labour party, and have been, and still are, strong supporters of the Liberal party. On Saturday both referred in strong terms to what had happened. The Mercury, especially, declared that the part, played by the Premier of Tasmania and the Prime Minister brought discredit on the State. Whether a Royal Commission was appointed, to consist of a Judge of the Supreme Court, trained in the taking of evidence and able to judge its value-
– Does the honorable senator discredit the statement made by Senator Bakhap, and confirmed by myself, that, his action and mine was framed in this matter long before any articles appeared in either the Launceston or Hobart press on Saturday?
– I - I absolutely accept Senator Bakhap and Senator Keating’s statement this afternoon that their action was dictated by their own convictions, irrespective of what Ministers thought. Ministers evidently thought, on what grounds I do not know, that they would have the votes of those two senators on their side when the motion came before the Senate. On general grounds, they would be justified in thinking so, because politics have become a pretty keen party fight, and Senator Bakhap and Senator Keating have been keen and loyal party men, but when they declared this afternoon that their action in announcing their intention to vote against the motion had nothing whatever to do with the proceedings of the last day or two, I accepted their assurance.
– I think that the honorable senator can also confirm the fact that I have fought my elections successfully more than once against the two newspapers which he has quoted.
– Y - Yes, until a few years ago. The honorable senator knows that the two newspapers have supported him since he ran as a Liberal candidate.
– They opposed me when I fought as a Protectionist.
– The The honorable senator has fought in Federal politics as a Liberal candidate for several years past, and has had the support of those newspapers against the Labour party.
– I have always fought as a Liberal candidate and as a Protectionist.
– E - Except for the first three or four years the honorable senator and I have been opposed to one another, but we have always been able to say that we fought each other fairly. The whole of the circumstances surrounding the resignation of Senator Ready without first consulting his colleagues and the immediate filling of the vacancy by Mr. Earle appeared in the Conservative newspaper in Hobart to have such a peculiar look about them that they came out on Saturday with a very strong article demanding that there should be some sort of inquiry. It would have been better for the Government if they had consented to the appointment of a Royal Commission. I came here this morning not knowing that the Government were going to announce that they proposed to have an election, and it was my intention to ask Senator Millen whether he had read the leading article in the Hobart Mercury, which really imputed improper motives to the Prime Minister and to the Premier of Tasmania, and whether the Government, in view of that leading article, would reconsider their decision and agree to appoint a justice of the High Court as a Royal Commissioner; but Senator Millen caught the eye of the President first, and moved the adjournment of the Senate, and on his motion this debate has proceeded so far. When we have a Supply Bill before us there will be further opportunities of discussing many other phases of the question. I merely rose at this stage because Senator Bakhap and Senator Keating had made reference to our demand for pairs for the sick Tasmanian senators who were unable to get here, and because those two senators had offered certain explanations. Senator Keating said that he had not been asked for a pair. As Government Whip for the first Deakin Government he knows that it is not usual for a senator to ask another to pair with him. The usual course for the honorable senator wishing to get a pair is to go to the Whip.
– I said that Senator Ready as Whip did not ask me for a pair.
– I d I do not know what Senator Ready’s actions were in the last few days. They were so peculiar that I do not think we can take them into account. I do not propose to say anything more unkind about them than that, though they were very inexplicable to me. If there was one person in the Senate to whom he should have divulged his intention to resign it was myself. I was the only other one of the four Labour senators in Tasmania able to be in attendance, and I had many private conversations with him during the last week or two, at which he often stated his fear that his chances at the next elections were not too good, and that he did not feel very well; but he did not hint that he intended to resign his place in the Senate. I accompanied Senator Gardiner to the Commercial Travellers’ Club on Thursday, about 1 o’clock. We went there to endeavour to see Senator Ready, but we were told that he was out. Senator Gardiner returned to Parliament House, but I waited at the club until 2 o’clock, -hoping that Senator Ready would come in. I thought that, perhaps, he had gone out to see his doctor. It was on the previous day that he had become ill. However, he did not return, and I came back to Parliament House about 2 o’clock. Just before I got here Senator Needham had spoken to Senator Ready on the telephone, and I understand that Senator Ready said that he would let Senator Needham know within an hour whether he would be able to vote that afternoon. However, a few minutes later Senator Ready telephoned to Senator Gardiner, and said that he had sent in his resignation.
– Then Senator Gardiner was the first to know that Senator Ready had resigned ?
– N - No, Senator Gardiner was not the first to know. Mr. Hughes and the Premier of Tasmania knew that Senator Ready was going to resign.
– That is a very serious statement to make.
– What basis has the honorable senator for making that statement 1
– T - The whole of the circumstances point to the fact that Senator Ready or some Tasmanian senator was going to resign. Otherwise, why was Mr. Earle’s appointment to the vacancy already fixed up ? Beyond the shadow of a doubt it was fixed up. If it was not fixed up Senator Earle has a pretty good case against the Hobart Mercury, which stated definitely on Saturday that he had resigned his seat in the State Parliament on Tuesday. I believe that he has by interjection denied this statement.
– Senator Earle said to-day that his resignation did not go from Melbourne until Thursday or Friday morning.
– T - The circumstances are remarkable. The Premier of Tasmania hurried away from the east coast to Sydney to meet the Prime Minister there, and came back with him to Melbourne on the Wednesday, and was with him on that day in Melbourne. The s.s. Loongana was to have left Melbourne at 3 o’clock on that afternoon, but was detained for some little time. I had it on fair authority that she was detained for the Premier of Tasmania. He had not finished his business whatever it was, and he rushed down to the. steamer at the last moment. He left Melbourne on the very day that Senator Ready was ill. Senator Ready’s resignation was not announced to the Senate until after the dinner adjournment on the Thursday evening. The President told us that he got it at one minute after 6 o’clock, and that he had to wire it to the Governor of Tasmania. Consequently it could not have been in the hands of the State Governor until well after 6 o’clock on the Thursday evening. Yet that very night the Executive Council of Tasmania met and appointed Mr. Earle to fill the vacancy. The remarkable despatch with which all these things were done lends colour to the statements of numbers of people that something very unusual has occurred, and for that reason it would be a good thing if an independent Commission, free from any party influence - a Royal Commission consisting of a Justice of the High Court - investigated not only the whole of the circumstances of Senator Ready’s resignation, but also the charges made by Senator Watson. I say it would be a good thing, because in these times every one seems to be viewed with suspicion, and the motives of those who ask for an independent and unquestionable tribunal to investigate any and every circumstance surrounding the whole of the business cannot be impugned. That is why in the interests of Tasmania I should like to see a Royal Commission appointed as another method of testing these accusations. Mr. Ready is to make his own statement in the press of Tasmania, I understand, and until that statement appears I will say no more, except that the whole business seems very strange, and in the interests of Mr. Ready - if he is innocent - perhaps more than any other man, it is desirable that inquiry by a Royal Commission should be held.
Senator BARNES (Victoria) T9.52].I should not have spoken on this motion but for the fact that a lot of matter has been introduced which it would be just as well to clear up. It is a most remarkable thing that gentlemen like Senator Lynch and those others who have left the Labour party with him, after such a long connexion with it, discover only at the death-knock that it contains so many scoundrels, cowards, and other most undesirable people. It. says something at least for the dullness of those - people that they did not make this discovery earlier.
– Does not the same apply to you and your friends who have turned out these men after working with them for twenty years?
– Their actions took them out. We do not bother about them. Notwithstanding all the virtues said to be possessed by the gentlemen who have left the Labour party, I have no doubt that the party will continue to do the work which it set out to do many years ago. The development to-day must have come as a great surprise to the Government. The gentlemen who manoeuvred to bring about the result which they thought they had obtained on Friday found themselves obliged to-day to immediately move the adjournment of the Senate, although on Friday they deliberately decided to call the Senate together this morning with the express intention, I have not the slightest doubt, of gagging through, willy-nilly, the motion for the prolongation of Parliament.
– You know that we could not have gagged it through even if we had desired to do so.
– No doubt the Government would have had a job to do so. The statements that have been made during the last few days will come as a great surprise to the electors, because after, all the people, taken in the lump, are fair and desirous of doing the just thing, as they want a fair thing done by them. But although they may forgive politicians for the ordinary political manoeuvring to attain the objects they have in view, I am confident that the statements made in the Senate last week staggered most electors in the Commonwealth. It has been said during the day that the people will take very little notice of the charges levelled against the Government because of the fact that one individual went into a private room and had a confidential conversation, and subsequently went to two other persons in turn to have further confidential conversations. But the statements made by Senator Watson are, on the whole, neither discredited nor denied by the gentlemen who have interested themselves in trying to ridicule the importance of what the honorable senator said. I believe that I am as fair as most men, and have a desire to find out the best in men and give them credit for their good points rather than their bad ones. But the people of the country have been watching with suspicion the men who are the main-springs of the present Government for quite a long while. Some honorable senators criticise us for belonging to a junta, but they belong to a worse one, comprising a few men, whom some honorable senators opposite have been fighting all their lives. Like a number of other people, I will not base my judgment merely on what was said during the last few days, but will look for further guidance from the doings that preceded the latest sensational developments. As the Leader of the Labour party I regarded Mr. Hughes with great admiration. I knew he was a man who might show an opponent a sharp point, but I never expected that he would go to such lengths as he has gone during the last twelve months in his dealings with men who have been associated with him for the length of time mentioned by Senator Lynch. He was one of the last men I should have expected to do things which would sever his connexion with the Labour party ; he was one of the last men I desired to do such things, and while he was absent in the Old Country I was constantly defending him against people who had doubts as to what he would do on his return to Australia. I did not believe that he would ever endeavour to enslave the young men of this country by imposing on them the yoke of conscription. ‘I believed his statement in the House of Representatives before he left Australia that he would be absolutely opposed to sending a man out of Australia to fight against his will.
– That was a mere interjection.
– At any rate the statement appears in Hansard as having been made by Mr. Hughes, and I believed he would stand to it.
– You are not fair to him. You know that scores of speeches were made by Mr. Hughes on conscription.
– I am sorry that I do know that. Those speeches have been made since he assured honorable members in another place that he would never send one man out of Australia against his will. I never thought that the present Prime Minister would turn his back on the principles of a lifetime. It has been stated that the gentlemen who have left the Labour party did so because they were required to do something to which they were not pledged, that did not appear in the Labour platform, and was not in accordance with the spirit of ohe Labour movement, but was being enforced by a secret junta since the war. The whole history of the Labour movement refutes that statement. There is the fact that when the Defence Bill was being put through Parliament, members of the Labour party fought against a clause which the Government of the day desired to include, providing for compulsory military service anywhere inside the Empire.
– It was never proposed.
– I was reading the debate in Hansard a little while ago.
– There was no legislative proposition to that effect submitted to Parliament.
– Witta all due respect to the Minister, there was some such proposition in the Senate, because speeches against compulsory military service outside Australia are on record, and I believe I am right in saying that the Labour party forced the Government to take that clause out of the Bill, and leave it as it stands to-day. That being the case,” what is the use of any member who belonged to the Labour party saying there is nothing in the spirit of the movement to show where it stood ? The whole history of our movement, the whole spirit of it, hag been against that sort of thing. There is no doubt about it. When this question came forward the leaders of the Labour movement watched the happenings from day to day, and when they read the utterances of some of their public men, was it any wonder that the organizations began to doubt and fear that some of their representatives might not be as solid in the interests of the movement and of Australia as they were expected to be ? They met in conference on very many occasions, not especially to discuss this particular matter, but to deal with their ordinary routine business. This subject of conscription became pressing, and they were never backward in expressing their views upon it whenever an authoritative Labour body met in conference. Let there be no mistake about that. There are on the other side of the Senate to-day gentlemen who sat in conference, and voted against conscription at the Hobart Conference. They voted without any protest of any kind, so that the resolution opposing conscription was carried without a dissentient voice. In the face of all this, what is the use now of turning round and accusing members on this side of doing something that is not in the interests of ‘the Labour movement ? The other day Senator Lynch said we were lying with our ears to the ground, listening to the murmurings of discontent from the people who belonged to our organization. Well, I have been in the Labour movement as long as most honorable senators, and I want to make it clear that I am fighting now, as I have always fought, against conscription. Outside the Parliament I have occupied more important positions in the Labour movement than probably any other honorable senator, and I am entitled, therefore, to talk with something like authority as to what this movement means. I resent very keenly indeed any aspersions cast upon the organizations that made it possible for the laws of Australia to be so democratic. Though we were charged by Senator Lynch with having our ears to the ground, I want to point out that for quite a long time before this question became acute I was fighting against it in the organizations. During that time Senator Lynch was fighting for conscription. He made no secret of it. He did not wait for the organizations to talk, but was out on his own account advocating conscription while I was fighting against it. Senator Lynch talks about all the craven hearts on this side of the Chamber, and, in reply, may I remind him that there are many senators who all their, lives have been courageous enough to fight in the interests of those who were most oppressed in this country?
– Did you say “ oppressed in this country “ ?
– Yes, and they would have been very much more oppressed if the Liberal mob had been running Australia up till now. Senator Lynch girds- at us because we did not in this State fight for conscription in our organizations as he did in his State. But, as I have already said, I have always been against conscription. Because he went to his own State, and fought against it there, he claims that he converted his organization.
– No; he fought for the freedom to hold an opinion.
– Yes; I know quite a number of people want to hold their own opinions when they get into permanent places where they think they can go on their own, but I am pleased to think that the organizations will know quite well the value of such persons, and will deal with them when the opportunity arises.
– Are there not differences of opinion in most organizations?
– Yes, and when there is a difference of opinion on an important question, the issue is threshed out among the members. Then, when a decision has been arrived at by a majority vote, there is a solid fight by all its members, irrespective of what individual opinions may be. We could not run an organization without adopting this course of action. Members of the Labour movement do not necessarily see eye to eye with one another on all subjects. We have differences of opinion, but we have sense enough to know that these have to be settled inside our organizations, and then we must fight loyally side by side to accomplish the object aimed at. I have done that times out of number, and so has nearly every other member. I do not mind these differences of opinion at all, so long as I have my say, and if the majority are against my view, well, I know I can accomplish nothing on my own, and so I accept the decision. This does not deprive me of the opportunity of fighting inside the organization for my view, and, perhaps, later on of accomplishing what I desire. Senator Lynch has spoken of the want of courage of members on this side, and, in reply, I quote as a typical instance the case of Senator Needham, who went to the West, and fought his organization there. They gave him a free hand, and he came over to Victoria, and fought against conscription. He then went back during the campaign, and fought in Western Australia against it. I venture to say that when the history of that campaign is written Senator Needham’s attitude will be in striking contrast to the actions of some of the people on the other side. The charges launched against the Government, and the reception of those charges by the Ministry, will not be judged merely by what was said last week. One of the statements made by Senator Lynch was very misleading, to say the least of it. He said that we met here in a room, and, after hearing Mr. Hughes without a protest, we went, on our knees almost, and asked him to go to the organizations. That is absolutely wrong. I addressed some words to Mr. Hughes, and other members said something similar. As nearly as I can remember my words, I said, “ If you want to do that you will have to go to the organizations, and I do not think that you have a hope.” There was the situation. I knew that Mr. Hughes had no chance of doing what he desired. When he came back he thought that he had the whole country behind him, because a few daily newspapers in Australia were giving him a lot of space, and publishing a number of erroneous things as to public sentiment here. Then the fight started. Mr. Hughes came out as a most virulent advocate of conscription. We have been charged with saying nasty things about him and others who fought us. I believe that I fought the issue pretty fairly. I used the arguments which I thought would convince the people. I did not think that abuse of anybody would have much influence in that way. But that cannot be said of Mr. Hughes. I believe that everything which has been said about Mr. Hughes and the people who accompanied him in the first place was warranted by what he had said about them. The fight got very warm, and Mr. Hughes could find a new cablegram at almost any minute of the day, and pull it out of his pocket to show that General Haig or General Robertson had stated that they wanted so many men. One day the number was 5,000 a month, and another day it was 16,000 a month. When that plan did not act, the cable was set to work again, and General Birdwood was prevailed upon to send out a despatch imploring the Commonwealth to send so many thousand men. People doubted this kind of message, because it did not coincide with what we knew were the real facts. The fight got still warmer. Mr. Hughes found, from the reception which he and the advocates of conscription received all over Australia, that lie was not going to have the cake-walk he anticipated on his return from England, and so he began to use another joke. A man named Reginald Turnbull was put up in a place called Wedderburn to write a letter stating that something had been written to him by Lieutenant Jacka, V.C., at the front. Some person wrote a letter saying that there was no such man living in Wedderburn. A challenge was issued that the conscriptionis’ts could not produce the man, and he has not been produced to this day. Next, an alleged cable was received from Jacka himself. All this kind of thing has led up to the present situation. The people of Australia are by no means clear in their minds that either Mr. Hughes or the gentlemen who are following him now, and who were responsible for this kind of thing, can be safely trusted with the control of the interests of the Democracy of Australia. There is the whole position. These questions, and a great many more than I have mentioned, in addition to the charges which were made last week, will be considered by the public of Australia.
– You do not insinuate that the cablegrams from General Birdwood and the British CommanderinChief were faked ?
– - I do not care whether the messages were faked or not. I entertain a very grave suspicion of a man or a Government who would be guilty of allowing these cablegrams to come through, and to be published in this country; of a man who would be guilty of writing a circular advocating his own view to the soldiers at the front, and who would allow a General to do the same thing, and to interfere in politics, where we all understood a soldier was not to interfere if he was acting in an official capacity.
– And to suppress the other side.
– I am coming to that. A man who would be capable of doing these things and suppressing the messages which our people wanted to send, or a Government which would tolerate that sort of thing, can blame no persons who entertain very serious doubts about their integrity. The people of this country, desirous, as they are, of doing the fairest thing both to Mr. Hughes and to his followers here, will call them to account for all these most suspicious circumstances. Those people gloried in a fight while standing shoulder to shoulder with us; but what did they do when they got to the other side ? They turned round, from the late Leader downwards, and every time they called us sneeringly a junta, and yet we were the same body of men whom they had worked with for years. -There is no difference in the movement.
– There are different circumstances, though.
– I dealt with the circumstances before the honorable senator came in. If he had been here, I think that he would have allowed, if it was possible for him to be fair, as I believe it is, that I put up a pretty reasonable case for the stand which I and others on this side are taking. When this section broke away from the Labour party, they thought they could save Australia, but they found that, after all’, another disappointment awaited Mr. Hughes. He thought that all he had to do was to hold up his hand, and that we would follow him to the death, the lot of us; but only a remnant of the party did. He found that he could not govern the country, and that he had to fall on the necks of all the Tories of Australia, and get them to help him. I do not think that there is any man who is more capable of setting out what coalitions are than the honorable gentleman who now has the honour to be Prime Minister of Australia.” I believe that a great sage is credited with saying, “Oh . . . . that mine adversary had written a book.” The Prime Minister wrote a book, and a part of it is devoted to coalitions. He said -
But once or twice in a generation, under the influence of some great temptation or of some malignant but powerful personality, men, taking courage from their numbers, act in concert and go over to the enemy in a body. In tha history of British parliamentary government this has so Seldom happened that thu dust of generations separates the occasions from one another. Coalitions, always regarded by the British people with the most marked disapproval, have invariably occasioned widespread outbursts of protest and condemnation, followed by condign punishment at the first opportunity.
There is William Morris Hughes, with prophetic vision, seeing the time when possibly he would be leading a party separated from the organizations that gave him and his followers political life. With prophetic insight he saw this thing happening, and in his book he detailed what the people of Australia may expect under a Coalition Government.
– That quotation deals with normal times. Give us a chapter on something about a country at war.
– The honorable senator gave us a chapter in that direction, and I have no fault to find with what he said. I want now to give him a chapter which he does not like, but ought to get. The coalition came along, and when I think of Mr. Cook, I am reminded of a little occurrence in the days of my boyhood. Round the little country village where I was born, there were farmers, and, like other boys, the boys in the village had lots of mischief in them.
– You have not altered much.
– I am older; but I believe that I could enjoy this incident even now if I saw it. Most of the farmers round this little village owned a lot of cattle, and many of them owned bulls. A few boys used to go out a couple of miles on one side of the town, and two or three boys would go out a couple of miles on the other side of the town. Each party would take a bull out of a farmer’s paddock and drive him towards the town, and of course when the bulls met there- would be some trouble. This incident occurred just about the time when the fields at Broken Hill were discovered - that is before the railway went through. Everybody was trying to get rich quickly by carting produce of one sort or another to Broken Hill. Teams were in great request, and several men who could drive horses and afford to buy them, went up there and drove loading from Terowie to Broken Hill. A noted conductor of oxen came from the North and tried to get a team with which to take loading from Terowie. As he could not get the bullocks that he wanted, he bought those in our town that had been fighting each other all their lives. But although he got them under the yoke, and as far as Terowie, they were so accustomed to fighting - like the members of the Ministerial party - that he could not get them to Broken Hill. Honorable members opposite set out to win the war, and arranged a coalition between life-long enemies, but they have not got even so far as Terowie. To vary the metaphor, they have fallen at the first fence. Other honorable senators have spoken of the rush that there has been for the spoil, the fight between the old political cormorants of both parties. It took six or seven weeks to arrive at the decision that in the new Administration there should be six Liberal portfolios, the remaining posts going to the Labour members of the coalition, who, nevertheless, claim to be governing Australia. The country is really under Tory rule. Sir John Forrest, Sir William Irvine, Mr. Joseph Cook, and Mr. Watt are all members of the Ministry, and the records of this Parliament and of the State Parliaments show that these gentlemen have always been the strongest opponents of political sentiment, and have always, by voice and vote, tried to stifle the views of the advanced speakers of Australia. When it became a question of choosing delegates to represent Australia at the Imperial Conference, the Tory elements of the Administration came to the fore. Fancy Sir William Irvine, who was responsible for the Victorian Coercion Act, and who tried to suppress the railway men of Victoria, representing the Australian Democracy ! Fancy Sir John Forrest doing so I We are told by one of this- morning’s newspapers that while we shall have three delegates at the Conference, only one of them will be allowed to vote, and we may be sure that if any kudos is to attach to the voting, Mr. Hughes, being in a minority, will not be the one who will vote; it will be one of the two Tories who will do so. As to the winning of the war, I, like other Australians, wish to see the war won by Great Britain and her Allies, and I think that we can do best by letting the people be convinced by what they hear and see of the need for action on their part. I may be asked, “ What have you done in the way of urging young men ,to enlist for the front?” I frankly admit that I have done nothing in that way. My reason is that the great organs of this country, which are’ responsible for the dissemination of news and information, have put clearly before the people the circumstances of the case, and it is’ for them to do as they think right. I have not) gone on the platform to ask another man to do what I have not done, and I have no sons at the front, having none of an age to serve there.
– Is the honorable senator opposed to recruiting efforts ?
– No. Each man must please himself. If a man feels that he should try to stimulate recruiting, I have no objection to urge, and the association to which I belong urges no objection. Senator Pearce was indignant because of the jibe that the Ministerial party was afraid to go to the country. As someone has said, we have nothing to thank the Government for in the step that it is now taking.
– We never thought that you would thank us for what, we propose.
– We do thank you for what is now proposed, but I would remind the Senate that we asked the Government to do this last week, and had Ministers been anxious to go to the country, they would have taken the opportunity then to propose what they now propose. We asked that the House of Representatives and the retiring half of the Senate should be sent to the country at the same time, to lessen the expense df the election, and to give the people an opportunity to choose a Parliament in which it would have confidence. I trust that in the future there will be less vituperation in political discussions. Some of those opposite did fine work when members of the Labour party, and I have no wish to detract from the credit due to them, but I remind them that they will never obtain the confidence of the people by throwing mud on those who represent the people. There mav have been a time when it was possible to gain votes in that way, but the Democracy is now too well informed to be deceived, and in future political parties will obtain power, not because of their abilitv to throw mud, but because of their legislative and administrative actions. Those who think thatthey will be returned to the Treasury Bench by besmirching others will be disappointed. I trust that in future the tone of political discussion will be more reasonable, and that the members of this party will be regarded as being as capable of carrying on the Labour movement as any of those who have left it. The movement will go on in spite of the defection of honorable senators opposite. The Labour party may be out of power for a year or two, but it is as certain as that the sun will rise to-morrow that the representatives of the people will again be in the ascendant, and top the poll, dominating and guiding the destinies of Australia.
.- I think those who have had the pleasure, as I venture to say it was, of listening to the speech of the honorable senator who has just resumed his seat, will agree with me that it stands out in sharp contradistinction to the other speeches to which we have listened from honorable senators opposite. It was a speech from which many of us will differ, but, at any rate, it was free from vituperation. It was an earnest effort to deal with facts, circumstances, principles, and movements. Although I say we may differ from the conclusions at which Senator Barnes arrived, we must recognise that his was a serious contribution to the debate. I have to thank Senator Barnes also for one statement which he made. He admitted frankly - and the honorable senator is always frank - that the question of no-conscription was not a definite plank of the Labour platform. But the honorable senator said that it was in conformity with the spirit of the movement. That settles one very important point. The gentlemen who have been expelled from, or forced out of, the Labour movement, have now the assurance of a high official in the movement that they have not broken any specific plank of the Labour platform, but that, in some way or other, they have violated that intangible, mysterious, and indefinite thing called the spirit of the movement. I propose to quote from the same book and the same author as Senator Barnes has just quoted from with so much pleasure and satisfaction. I find these words in this book -
Shortly, the position may be stated thus -
Here we have a statement in this hook, which is quoted from time to time by honorable senators opposite. They have accepted it as their bible, and have carried it from platform to platform, and when they have been at a loss for an argument, they have gone to this book to draw inspiration from it. Senator Barnes has said that no specific plank of the platform was broken by those who advocated conscription, and we have Mr. Hughes’ assurance that the pledge relates only to the platform. We come, then, to the statement that it is the spirit of the movement that has been violated. When we come to deal with the spirit of a movement, we are dealing with something upon which no two men are likely to entertain exactly the same views. If I speak of the spirit of justice, my honorable friends opposite will say that they also speak of it; but they interpret it in an entirely different way. No man here will for a moment deny that Senator Barnes, in interpreting the spirit of the movement on the subject of conscription as he did, believed that he was acting in accordance with the spirit of right and justice. No man present will venture to say that Senator Lynch, in his advocacy, of conscription, was not animated in the same way. These are two members of the same movement, and yet they put an entirely different interpretation upon the spirit of the movement, and their honesty and courage cannot be impugned. What happened ? Some body outside, that has been called by some persons a “junta,” and that is by others worshipped as the guiding force controlling the Labour movement, says, “Unless all belonging to the movement accept the interpretation which we place on the intangible thing we call its spirit, they commit the unpardonable sin.” There never was an attempt to exercise a more diabolical tyranny. One set of men interpret for the guidance of all others the thing which they call the spirit of the movement. We have to thank Senator Barnes for having made clear beyond dispute the sin those gentle men have committed who were expelled from the movement to which they had been loyal for so many years.
I wish now to make a brief reference to the controversy which has been raised by the statement of Senator Watson. This is the only point I shall put for the consideration of honorable senators: This is a matter in which four men are concerned. These, and these alone, have made statements. One has made a statement which amounts to an accusation against the other three. The other three deny that statement. Passing from that, let me say that, in my judgment, acts speak louder than words. I propose to test the veracity of the statements that have been made by that simple test. I ask any honorable senator here whether, if I went to him and levelled a deadly insult at him, his attitude towards me the next day, and the day after, would be the same as it was before I had insulted him. - I go to Senator McKissock or to Senator Lynch, and launch a deadly insult at him. Is it possible to believe that either of them would treat me next day as he treated me before I insulted him ? That is a question which honorable senators can answer for themselves. I venture to say that there is no member of the Senate who, if I insulted him to-day, would to-morrow meet me on the same footing as he did before I had insulted him. We have Senator Watson stating that he was insulted by the President - for it is an insult to suggest to any man an improper course of action.
-Did I say that the President had insulted me ?
– I do not know whether the honorable senator saidso, but I do know that if any man offered me an inducement to do a wrong action, I should regard it as the most deadly insult he could put upon me.
– Did I not say that these gentlemen spoke to me as advisers and friends trying to advise me as to the best course in my own interests? I said those words concerning each of the three. Each was seeking to advise me as a friend.
– If each of the three was seeking to advise the honorable senator as a friend, what becomes of his charge of attempted corruption ?
– I stated that the reason I made this matter public was in consequence of the fact that ex-SenatorReady had taken a certain course which suggested to my mind treachery and corruption.-
– This makes the situation more incomprehensible than it was before. We are now told that there is no accusation of wrongdoing against either of the three gentlemen named in Senator Watson’s statement. We are told that they were acting as the honorable senator’s friends and advisers. Do friends advise a man to do a wrong and dishonorable thing? Let us know .whether these suggestions from his friends were accepted by Senator Watson as improper suggestions.
– Undoubtedly, when they developed at the last interview I had with Mr. Hughes.
– I am satisfied to take that statement in view of the seriousness of the thing, and to repeat what I understand is the position. I take it that Senator Watson did not consider that there was anything malign in the conversations until the ‘final interview with Mr. Hughes, and then, apparently, he readied the conclusion that there was some connexion between the several conversations, and that the purport was to tamper with his honesty. Is that the position or not?
– I say that when the conversations took place with Senator Givens, Senator Pearce, and Mr. Hughes, it was deliberately stated by them that they were as to a friend, and I accepted what they said in that spirit, though I did not agree with the proposition they put before me. When the matter ended there, I did nothing beyond telling my intimate friends and my colleagues on this side what had taken place; but when there was the development concerning Senator Ready, I saw that he had fallen into the trap set for me, and I considered it my duty to at once communicate the matter to the Senate.
– Then you never suspected anything sinister?
– I have read my statement; make the most of it!
– Let me offer my friend a little advice-
– I am not in need of any of your advice i
– But I am going to offer it, and it is that the less frequently the honorable senator makes explanations the better for himself. In view of the admissions - I say again, the admissions - made by the honorable senator that there was a point - some point - at which it dawned on his mind, and he came to the conclusion that a sinister movement had been set afoot, I wish to know what was, then, the change of attitude on the part of the honorable senator towards Senator Pearce, Mr. Hughes, or the President. If any one came to me now and insulted me, would I meet him to-morrow as if nothing had happened ? You, Mr. President, Senator Pearce, and the Prime Minister can say whether there was any change in the attitude of Senator Watson. If there was not, then you must come to the conclusion either that the charges have been trumped up at the last moment, or that Senator Watson could carry a deceitful and false face, pretending he was your friend, while all the time he was preparing to strike you down in the eyes of the people of the country. That is all I have to say on that point. Feeling as I do that, whatever may have induced Senator Watson to take the course he has, it is part and parcel of a deliberate attempt to pursue the Prime Minister of the country with vendetta to which no Sicilian would have yielded. I am amused at the frantic effort made by some honorable senators opposite to remind us that we on this side are not altogether in unison on certain matters. Do they think, when they remember the purpose which brought us together, that reminders and taunts of that sort will shake our allegiance to our common cause - the welfare of this country. It is not necessary to remind us that we are not altogether in unison. I have been an opponent of Mr. Hughes for twenty years, and I have keen recollection of times when I have smarted under his tongue and treatment which I considered not too generous. I dare say that Mr. Hughes in turn can remember times when he has nursed a grudge against the Liberals. What does it matter about Labour men or Liberals to-day, when we are faced with a great and common danger. Mr. Hughes is free ‘to say that he entertains all his Labour principles as I am to say that I have not forsaken any Liberal principle; but when a national danger threatens, we can surely agree to leave, our domestic policies in the domestic cupboard, and address ourselves to the greater issues, which we can only ignore to the detriment, the danger, and, possibly, the extinction of this nation and the Empire. Let me assure my honorable friends opposite that there is no need to remind us of the points on which we differ, because, every time they do so, they bring clearly before us the points on which we are in agreement. We are reminded that we are not a united party, and on many matters we are not; but I can assure my honorable friends that they are doing more than anything we can do to unite this party - that by these constant vitriolic and contemptible attacks on the Prime Minister, they are raising, not only here but outside, the sporting spirit of the community, who recognise that what is wanted is the head of Mr. Hughes on a charger, and it is for that his enemies are dancing. I am mistaking the temper of the people if I assume for one moment that there will not, as a result of this, be a declaration that honorable senators may use fair political weapons and beat the enemy as they can ; but that those honorable senators are making it clear to-day that the Prime Minister is the victim they are seeking - that honorable senators are saying, “Give us that, and all things else shall be added unto us.” The country recognises the object of those who are opposed to Mr. Hughes. They may say they left the Prime Minister because of his advocacy of conscription. Sir, it is not true. Those gentlemen did not leave the Prime Minister for that reason, as all the records show. If it was because of his advocacy of conscription, why did they not leave him when he first advocated it?. Conscription could never have been submitted as an issue to the people had not my honorable friends opposite supported Mr. Hughes in what he was doing. The question of conscription was naturally brought up in the party room and discussed there, and those opposed to it had it in their power to say to Mr. Hughes, “ We do not believe in it, and we will not go with you.” They knew that Mr. Hughes advocated conscription then; and why did they not leave him ? Later on, when the Bill came here and to another place, did my honorable friends vote against the Government ? Not a bit of it. There were eight of them who did so, I believe, after having pledged themselves to support the resolution arrived at in Caucus. When the proposal came here, and Mr. Hughes said that he was not only going to consult the electors, but was going to advocate it, did they leave him then? No. They did not then know what the verdict was going to be, and they would not run away from a leader who might possibly be a victor. They, therefore, waited for the result of the ballot; and then their organizations got to work, and honorable senators left Mr. Hughes - not because of conscription, but because the organizations had told them to do so.
Just one word more. I regret having to refer to this matter, but Senator Keating will pardon me for doing so, in view of the fact that he himself has previously referred to it. I am now speaking of a conversation 1 was privileged to have with that honorable gentleman and Senator Bakhap. 1 desire, first - and I hope Senator Keating will not misunderstand me - to express some surprise that this conversation was ever referred to in the Chamber. I say at once that there was absolutely nothing in the conversation - my two honorable friends will, I believe, support me - which might not have been related here. But there has been an accepted code that conversations entered into by honorable senators, no matter how innocent or trivial those conversations mav be, are not to form the subject of discussion here. I, therefore, express some surprise that Senator Keating should make any reference to it without, at any rate, first asking me how I felt on the matter.
– May I say that I have not had a word wilh you since then, and I wished to make it abundantly clear that neither Senator Bakhap nor myself had had any communication directly or indirectly with Ministers.
– I merely express some surprise that a conversation of the kind should have been referred to here.
– From my point of view, it was only done in justice to yourself and your colleagues.
– I quite .accept that statement, but still I think there is a possible danger if, for any reason, there are too frequent references to conversations outside. If such should become a habit, intercourse outside the chamber will be rendered absolutely impossible. As to the conversation, I say at once that the statement by Senator Keating, so far as my ‘recollection goes, is entirely accurate; it is certainly so in substance. There is one other matter, and I refer to it because honorable senators have been saying that the action taken by the Government in proposing, instead of proceeding with business, to consult the electors, is due to the discovery that two honorable senators, who ordinarily support the Government, are not certain, apparently, to do so now. It -is assumed that the speeches of Senators Bakhap and Keating gave them some warrant for imputing that .the action now proposed by the Government was taken in consequence of the views which those honorable senators entertained.
– I have not taken that view.
– Both these gentlemen have declared that I did not know, and the Government did not know, what action they were going to take. That is absolutely correct so far as they are concerned. But I do want to point out that at that interview neither Senator Bakhap nor Senator Keating by a single word-
– I did not refer to the conversation with the Vice-President of the Executive Council.
– There was not a single word uttered at that interview, either by Senator Bakhap or Senator Keating, which could be construed, even by a Philadelphia lawyer, into a statement of how they were going to act in regard to that motion. Therefore I parted from them without being in any way able to form a conclusion from what they had said. But there are other means of forming a conclusion. Up to the time they spoke here I did expect from them a vote which would have given the Government a majority in this chamber. I argued, as Senator O’Keefe has argued this evening, that it was quite reasonable that I should regard them as supporters of the Government in the case of a party vote.
– We were entirely free to act as we thought fit.
– Yes. Both honorable senators were free to act as circumstances might from day to day suggest.
There was nob a single word uttered by them upon which I could build at all with confidence that they would record their votes on behalf of the Government proposal. Bub leaving that out of consideration, it was naturally my business, as the representative of the Government, to look around and see what were the prospects of carrying the proposal. Upon doing so I arrived at the same conclusion as that at which Senator O’Keefe has arrived. It is quite true that neither Senator Bakhap nor Senator Keating had indicated to me what their judgment on -that proposal was going to be ; but looking at the general position, I was very loth to believe that at a crisis like .this-
– A kaleidoscopic crisis, changing momentarily.
– Senator Bakhap said that fallings were changing from hour to hour.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council is now quoting my words at the interview.
– These gentlemen gave me no hint that I could rely upon their votes, but 1 had to form some conclusion.
– When did that conversation take place?
– On Thursday night. I then argued, as Senator O’Keefe has argued to-night, that the long association of these gentlemen with the party to which I belong was some reason upon which I could found the hope that they would vote with the Government. In addition, I had bo recollect that they were members of the party which had brought this alliance into existence. I thought that these gentlemen, who are largely responsible for my being where I am bo-day, would not a fortnight after the Government was formed “ .throw me to the dogs.” I knew there were doubts in .their minds, but still I thought that when it came to the real test they would not desert me. There was a third reason which induced me to think that we should have them behind us. Senator Keating informed me on Thursday night that he would be leaving for Tasmania on Friday afternoon. I ventured to point out to him that if he did so it was improbable that he could return in time to record his vote. Still he informed me that it was his intention to go. I have not spoken to him since, except to pass the time of day. The next day, however, I learned that he had not left for Tasmania. Was it strange that I assumed that he had remained here to help the Government out of the hole in which otherwise it would have been placed 1 I may have entirely misjudged the position, but I want to say that until these gentlemen spoke this morning I had come to the conclusion, based on the facts I have related, that in a critical matter involving the whole policy of the Government, I could look to them for the votes necessary to insure the safety of the proposition.
– The developments of Friday morning made me cut every engagement except that to this Senate.
– I did not know that. Apparently I have put a wrong interpretation on the facts. It is quite possible that in my case the wish largely shaped the thought, but until these gentlemen spoke here this morning I was as confident as could be that, their votes would be with the Government.
– Then why did not the Government go on with the proposal ?
– I thought I had answered that question in the statement which I made to-day. Suppose that we had carried the motion by a majority of one. Perhaps Senator Bakhap has not had the experience I have had of endeavouring to get business through this House in the face of a hostile Opposition.
– It would not be hostile if the Government had a majority of one.
– A man who attempts to carry on business in this Chamber against a resolute, remorseless Opposition
– As the previous Government carried it on in the House of Representatives.
– I am speaking with the wealth of that experience to back me up. It, therefore, became apparent to the Government, not that we could not carry the proposal to prolong the life of this Parliament, but that, after having carried it, we should be landed - where ? We might manage to struggle oh for a month or two, or perhaps for three months, but we could not pass a regulation without being challenged. An accident to one of our members in the way of detention from the Senate, and the whole business of the Government would be frustrated.
– Then it was poor Government policy to submit it at all.
– I venture to differ from the honorable senator. When this Chamber resumed its business on the formation of the new Ministry I endeavoured to make my speech as unimpassioned as possible, and asked honorable senators for their co-operation. I told them that without it the Government could not carry on. What took place for a few days I thought was the natural effervescence of spirits bottled up. I did hope that after having fired off their animal spirits honorable senators would have turned round and said, “Now we will lift the Government business along.” But day after day has made it plain that honorable senators opposite intend to give no quarter.
– We do not.
– Senator Barker does not often speak, but when he speaks his speeches are very useful. Senators Barker and Gardiner have both stated that they will give the Government no quarter. We know the nature of the opposition we have to face. While I thought before Senator Bakhap and Senator Keating spoke that we could get the motion through, it now appears that the only result would have been to land us out pf one difficulty into another. From my experience, gained in that memorable session in the other House, and knowing the character and capacity of honorable senators opposite for mischief, it was impossible to suppose that we could carry on either with profit to the country or with credit to ourselves. This brought us to the one conclusion submitted to the Senate to-day, that the only solution of the difficulty was not to tamper with it longer, but to remit the issue to the electors.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.1 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 5 March 1917, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1917/19170305_senate_6_81/>.