6th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
The following papers were presented: -
Audit Act 1901-1912. - Transfer of amounts approved by the Governor-General in CouncilFinancial year 1915-16 - Dated 28th February, 1917.
Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act 1905. - Regulations amended,&c. - Statutory Rules 1917, No. 47.
Customs Act 1901-1916. - Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1917, Nos. 40, 48.
Defence Act 1903-1915. - Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1917, No. 31.
Public Service Act 1902-1918. - Promotion of A. W. H. Wilford,. Postmaster-General’s Department - Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1917, Nos. 20, 21.
The War: Armenians - Treatment in Ottoman Empire, 1915-16. (Paper presented to British Parliament.)
War Precautions Act 1914-1916 -
Regulations (Passports) 1916.
Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1917, Nos. 17, 19. 22.
– I have to announce to the Senate that I have received from His Excellency the GovernorGeneral the following message : -
The Honorable the President of the Senate.
The Governor-General forwards herewith to the Honorable the President of the Senate, a signed duplicate copy of a despatch received from His Excellency the Governor of Tasmania, certifying to the appointment of the
Honorable John Earle to hold the vacancy created in the Senate by the resignation of Mr. K. K. Ready.
The communication from the Governor of Tasmania referred to therein is as follows : - [Copy.] Government House,
T have the honour to state, for your information, that, having received from Your Excellency and from the President of the Senate telegraphic communications to the effect that Senator Beady had resigned his place as a senator for Tasmania, and having been advised by the Attorney-General for the State of Tasmania that such communications were a sufficient notification of such vacancy, within the meaning of section 15 of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act, I hereby certify that I, the Right Honorable Sir William Grey Ellison-Macartney, K.C.M.G., Governor of the said State of Tasmania, have, with the advice of the Executive Council thereof, appointed the Honorable John Earle to hold the said place of senator until the expiration of fourteen days after the beginning of the next session of the Parliament of the State, or until the election of a successor, whichever first takes place.
I have the honour to be, sir, Your Excellency’s most obedient servant,
Governor. His Excellency the Governor-General, Melbourne.
Statement by Premier of Tasmania.
– Has the Leader of the Government seen in this morning’s newspapers a statement reported as having been made by Mr. Lee, the Premier of Tasmania, to the effect that, on Tuesday last, the Prime Minister told him that there was a possibility of a resignation coming in from an Opposition senator for Tasmania. If that is so, seeing that such resignation was not received here until Thursday, does not the Minister think that it would be better if the Government would reconsider its decision and appoint a Royal Commission, consisting of a Judge of the High Court, preferably, to investigate the whole of the circumstances surrounding the resignation of Senator Ready ?
– I have read the statement. I see no discrepancy between the statement as described by the honorable senator and the one made by the
Prime Minister. As regards the latter portion of his remarks, I will submit it to the Prime Minister.
Report of the Public Works Committee on the proposed extension of the Postal Stores Buildings, Harbour-street, Sydney, presented by Senator Story.
– In view of the necessity to put under crop as large an area as possible and to provide work for the unemployed, will the Government make available the first instalment of ls. on the wheat already delivered 1 The goods have been delivered, and w© want that ls. for the purpose of effecting two advantages, namely, an increased area under wheat-
– Order ! The honorable senator is arguing, and not asking the question.
– All right, sir. The Minister has the strength of the question.
– The matter is now under consideration.
Case of Mb. Jensen
– Will the Leader of the Senate cause the report, together with the minutes of the evidence and the proceedings, of the Commission which inquired into the charges of Mr. Jensen, who was employed by the Government in the Northern Territory, to be laid on the table and printed, if that has not already been done? I am not aware that it has been done.
– I was under the impression ‘that the proceedings had been published.
– Only the report, I think.
– Perhaps the honorable senator will allow me to refer this matter to my colleague in charge of this Department, and give him an answer at the next day of sitting.
Melbourne Recruiting Depot
– I ask the Minister for Defence if he is yet in a position to reply to the questions I asked some days ago concerning allegations of the insanitary condition of the recruiting depot at the Melbourne Town Hall ?
– Yes. The Commandant, 3rd Military District, to whom the questions were referred, now replies as follows - dated 1st March, 1917 -
Accompanied by Dr. Robertson, Chairman of the Board of Health, and Major Summons, Command Sanitary Officer, the Principal Medical Officer inspected the Town Hall recruiting depot this afternoon. Although the premises are not what one would select for the examination of recruits owing to the noise and want of sunlight, there was no evidence of the place being verminous or any want of cleanliness. These officers do not consider, from a health point of view, any danger is likely to arise from the examinations being conducted there. The Principal Medical Officer has not received any complaints from the examining military officer as to its insanitary condition, but has had frequent- complaints about the noise and artificial light being difficult to examine in.
Manifestoes to Soldiers - Soldiers’ Votes
– In view of the report that General Birdwood and the Prime Minister were permitted to address manifestoes to our soldiers at the front during the recent conscription campaign, and in view df the approaching general elections, can we have the assurance of the Government that the same facilities will be afforded to those representing the workers to place their views before the soldiers at the front as were granted to General Birdwood and the Prime Minister on the occasion referred to?
– I am not aware that any facilities were afforded to any one to address soldiers at the front.
– I did not say they were permitted to address the soldiers, but they were permitted to issue the manifestoes.
– I am not aware of what facilities were provided, and, therefore, I cannot answer the question. I must ask the honorable senator to place it on the notice-paper.
– Is it not a fact that the Prime Minister was allowed to distribute, or to have distributed, a manifesto to the soldiers urging upon them to vote “Yes,” and is it not a fact that General Birdwood was permitted to issue a similar manifesto?
– I can only express surprise, in view of my previous answer, that the honorable senator should address the question to me. I do not know what facilities were provided on the previous occasion, and now the honorable senator addresses another question to me on the assumption that I do know something. If the honorable senator will place his question on the notice-paper, I will endeavour to furnish an answer to it.’
– I ask the Minister in charge of the Electoral Department if he can give the House any indication of the steps to be taken to see that our soldiers’ votes in the forthcoming election are properly allocated to the constituencies for which they are enrolled?
– The whole matter, including the details to which the honorable senator has referred, is now being considered by the Government and the officers of the Department.
– Will the Government take into consideration’ the advisability of giving every Australian at the front the right to vote, regardless of age?
– It cannot be done.
– All I can promise is that I will place the suggestion before the Prime Minister.
– -Will the Government consider the advisability of making some provision to enable candidates to be represented at the taking of the ballot of soldiers at the front by the appointment of scrutineers, as is allowed within the Commonwealth?
– That matter, amongst other things, is now under consideration.
– I ask the Honorary Minister if he is yet in a position to reply to a question I put to him some time ago as to whether the Wheat Board would allow the representation of farmers on that Board?
– The Wheat Board has determined that farmers are to have representation, and arrangements are now being made to take a ballot, in order to secure a representative.
– Is the Assistant Minister in a position yet to supply the information I asked for three or four days ago regarding the average price of wheat during the last ten years?
– Yes. According to returns given in the Official Tear-Book, the export values of Australian wheat are as follow :- 1907, 3s. 4d.; 1908, 4s. Id.; 1909, 4s. 2d. ; 1910, 4s. 2d. ; 1911, 3s. 6d. ; 1912, 3s lid.; 1913, 3s. 9d.; 1914-15, 3s. 9d. The values for the year 1915-16 are dependent on the operations of the Wheat Board, which are not yet complete, but the values should not be less than 4s. 9d.
– I believe the facts are as stated. Concerning the latter part of the question, I will obtain the information and supply it to the honorable senator.
– I ask the Minister controlling the censorship - the Minister for Defence, I presume - whether it is a fact, as rumoured, that the censor has received special instructions to exercise the strictest censorship over all cables to and from Australia relating to the recent disclosures in this Parliament?
– The rumours have no foundation in fact.
– Will the Leader of the Government say whether there is any truth in the news that two ships have been sunk in the Indian Ocean, either near or far from these shores? If there is any truth in the rumour, is it wise policy to withhold the news any longer from the public?
– The honorable senator, I think, will see from the very nature of the question he submits that it is one which I ought not to answer at this time without, at least, referring it to the Prime Minister himself. ,
– I desire to ask a question with reference to a paragraph in the Argus of this day, in which the Minister for Defence describes as untrue a statement I made in the Melbourne Town Hall, on Monday night, that the censorship system had been applied to all references to Senator Watson’s charges made in this Chamber. Will the Minister for Defence say whether it is a fact or not that, prior to my making that statement, instructions had been issued ordering that censorship 1
– The answer ls”No instructions.”
– Is it not a fact that, on Thursday last, the editors of certain newspapers were informed that the rigid censorship which existed some months ago, and which had been relaxed, was to be again introduced, and that articles must be submitted to the censor?
– If any such instructions were issued to any newspaper, I trust that they will be forwarded to me, because they were issued without authority.
– In view of the answers given by the Minister for Defence to Senator Ferricks and myself regarding censorship, I ask if the Minister for Defence is prepared to lay on the table of the Senate to-morrow all the instructions that have been issued to the censors during the last fortnight.
– The honorable senator knows very well that such instructions are confidential.
– Will the Minister supply them confidentially, then?
– Yes, I am prepared to supply them confidentially to honorable senators.
– I do not want anything that is confidential, and which I cannot give to the public.
PRICE OF SUGAR. Senator LYNCH. - I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs whether he can supply me with the average wholesale price paid for cane sugar, and also for refined sugar, throughout the Commonwealth during the past ten years?
– I confess that I was a little confused as to the Minister towhom this question was addressed. But I understand, after consultation with my colleagues, that I am the sugar representative of the team. I have to admit that I am unable to supply the desired information off-hand, but if Senator Lynch will put his question on the businesspaper, I will endeavour to get it answered.
– I ask the VicePresident of the Executive Council whether the Government have yet arrived at any decision in regard to the appointment of an Administrator to the Northern Territory?
– I have promised the honorable senator - and did so in the full belief that I would be able to redeem my promise - that an answer would be available to-day. I understand that it was sent over here, but so far it has not reached me.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
Will the Minister furnish the Senate with a return showing -
The total amount already paid to Mr. W. B. Griffin in salary and allowances as Federal Capital Director of Design and Construction ?
The total cost to date of the staff engaged to assist Mr. Griffin ?
Any other amounts paid to Mr. Griffin for professional assistance by the Federal Government, specifying the amount of the fees and the nature of the work in each instance?
– The answers are -
Total amount paid to Mr. Griffin in - 28th February, 1917, £3,53910s. 3d.
Motion (by Senator Henderson) proposed -
That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent notice of motion No. 5, Private Business, in reference to Home Rule for Ireland, being considered without delay.
– It is not my intention to oppose this motion, in view of the knowledge which I have that a very considerable majority of honorable senators desire the opportunity, which the carrying of it will afford them. But I do wish to say that whilst the motion to which the present proposal of Senator Henderson relates, is one for the individual judgment of honorable senators, the Government regrets that an effort is to to be made to discuss it here at the present juncture. It is well known that there is timed for to-night in the Imperial Commons a discussion on this very matter. It was the view of the Government that it might be more desirable that the motion on the business-paper under the name of Senator Henderson should be delayed until after that discussion, especially in view of the generally recognised fact that an effort is being made at Home to arrive at a solution of the problem that is involved by mutual agreement. That is all I wish to say on the motion. For the rest, the subject is one upon which no man can speak for anybody but himself.
– I am glad that the Government do not intend to oppose the suspension of the Standing Orders.
– There being more than a statutory majority of the Senate present, and voting in the affirmative, I declare the motion carried.
– I move -
That an humble address be presented to His Majesty as follows : - May it Please Youn Majesty :
We. Your Majesty’s dutiful and loyal subjects, the members of the Senate of the Commonwealth In Parliament assembled, desire most earnestly in our name and on behalf ot the people whom we represent, to express our unswerving loyalty and devotion to Your Majesty’s person and. Government.
Enjoying and appreciating as we do the blessings of Home Rule here, we would humbly express the hope that a just measure of Home Rule may be granted (immediately) to the people of Ireland.
In this crucial hour, when the might of your Empire is being wielded to maintain the right of self-government for small nations, we feel confident that the whole people of Ireland would be made grateful, loyal, and enthusiastic supporters of that high policy through the gracious endowment by Your Majesty of the same right to them. They ask for it through their representatives - never has request more clear, consistent, and continuous been made by any nation. As subjects of Your Majesty we are interested in the peace and contentment of all parts of the Empire, and we desire to see this long-standing grievance at the very heart of the Empire removed. It is our desire for the solidarity and permanence of the Empire, aB a Power making for peace and civilization, that must be our excuse for submitting to Your Majesty this respectful petition.
It is almost superfluous to attempt to add anything to the words of this motion. I am sure that all of us who have listened carefully to the debates in this chamber during the last week or two have felt the urgency of the duty that is placed upon us to do all that we possibly can, and in the most efficient way of which we are capable, to secure the establishment of a peaceful and united Empire. Whilst, as an Empire, we are engaged in a tremendous struggle to preserve to the smaller nations their right of independence, we. cannot fail to recognise that, in very close proximity to the heart of our Empire itself, there are a people whose struggles for years have been devoted to securing recognition of that very right of selfgovernment which the Empire, as a whole, is engaged in conserving for other small nations. In this motion we dictate no terms, we make no attempt to force our opinions, or to suggest what should be done. We make a simple appeal to His Majesty, reminding him that there are a people within his Empire who have not yet received that measure of selfgovernment for which they have contended for years, and which we, who sympathize with and support their contention, believe should be granted to them. Whatever may be thought by others, the present appears to me the most opportune time at which such an address should be humbly presented to His Majesty. We firmly believe that the aid of every human element in the Empire is necessary in the great war in which we are now engaged. So far as human effort can accomplish it, every element should be brought together for the purpose of assisting to maintain the integrity, not only of the Empire as a whole, but of the separate Dominions of His Majesty. It does appear to me that the shortest road to the accomplishment of this high ideal is, first of all, to concede to Ireland that measure of selfgovernment which is the natural right of all peoples, so that peace and contentment may reign throughout , the Empire, and that harmony may be the keynote of all our efforts in the mighty struggle in which we are engaged. I do not propose to repeat the arguments I used some years ago in advocacy of a motion similar to that which I move to-day,. but I do think it well to remind honorable senators that Irishmen from almost every part of the world have flocked to the standard of the Empire in this great war, and have taken up arms in its defence.
– Mr. Snowball, of Victoria, and a few like him, have tried to deny that.
– I speak only for myself, hut I speak from observation. Recently Mr. Redmond quoted certain figures on the floor of the British House of Commons, which, I take it, he had substantial grounds for using. He reminded us that, up to the period for which he spoke, no less than 500,000 of the sons of Ireland, from all parts of the Empire, had taken up arms in its defence.
Many of them have laid down their lives side by side with men of other nationalities within the Empire. The position which the Irish people hold in this regard is utterly unassailable by any man.
-. - They have done the same in every war.
– They have done the same in every war in which the Empire has been engaged; but the statement applies with particular force to their attitude towards the present war. It should be the desire of every man who feels the responsibility of the Empire, and the need for the preservation of homelife, resting upon his shoulders, to make every effort of which he is capable to bring together all those elements the unity of which is so essential at the present time for the welfare of the nation, for the victory of our arms, and for the ultimate peace of the civilization of the world of which we form a part.
– I have very great pleasure in seconding the motion so _ ably moved by Senator Henderson. As one who is Australianborn, I should like to say in a few words why I so whole-heartedly support it. We Australians have enjoyed the blessings of Home Rule during the whole of our lives. We jealously guard our rights in that regard, and zealously work for the furtherance of Democracy by virtue of the measure of Home Rule we enjoy. When this very important question was under discussion in 1905, when you, Mr. President, took a very prominent part in the debate, and again in 1914, when a similar discussion took place, motions on the lines of that moved by Senator Henderson were adopted and communicated to the Imperial Parliament. I feel sure that the opinion on those occasions expressed by the Senate will be re-affirmed on this motion. I feel sure also that the Imperial Parliament will not regard the passing of such a motion as an interference by Australia, but will look upon it in quite a different light. Any guidance that can be given to the Imperial authorities upon matters of Empire importance will, I feel sure, be heartily welcomed, especially at this time, when unity amongst the peoples of the Empire is so essential. It appears to me that the re-affirmation of this motion, passed twice previously by the Senate, will be doubly welcome at the present time to the Imperial authorities. We have every justification for remitting to them such an expression of opinion. The motion, if carried unanimously, as I hope it will be, or at least without dissent, will be regarded as an expression of opinion emanating from the higher Chamber of the NTational Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, which is a very important Dominion of the British Empire. I feel quite sure that the Imperial authorities would look upon an expression of opinion emanating from this high and responsible Chamber with a degree of welcome and thankfulness which, perhaps, we cannot conceive at this distance. Realizing that the desire is to get the motion put through, I have no wish to recapitulate the history of Ireland’s struggle for this right of self-government, as Senator Henderson has truly said, through so many years - may I extend the term, and say for centuries? Those of us who have read the history of the Empire in its various aspects know what Ireland has endured. There is no necessity to recapitulate the story of the selfsacrifice, or the heroism, which has characterized the fight during the past centuries, not for a privilege, but for a right. That being the situation, I commend the motion to the Senate, and sincerely trust that it will meet with a speedy and unanimous passage.
– Motions in favour of Home’ Rule for Ireland have been submitted to the Senate before. Whether I was here or elsewhere, I have always supported the principle of Home Rule. I believe that Ireland long ago would have been a more contented community had the blessing of selfgovernment been conferred upon it. I believe that it would have been a more harmonious factor in the make-up of the British Empire. To-day we are faced with the position that the Empire is at war; that the_ Parliament whose duty it is to deal with this, amongst other questions, is distracted with all the many critical problems arising out of the war. Notwithstanding that position, we find that Parliament setting apart a time for the discussion of this question. We believe that that is not merely for the purpose of having an idle, academic discussion, but for some deeper purpose than that. I believe that it is for the purpose of finding a way out of this most intricate and hitherto insoluble problem. That discussion almost synchronizes with our own. With the exception of a few irreconcilables - shall I say bigots - on either side, because, unfortunately, neither side has a monopoly of bigotry on its side - with that exception, I believe that all the great parties in Great Britain are honestly endeavouring to find some way which will, with the least possible friction, give Ireland what she has a right to expect. I agree with this motion with one exception. The second paragraph reads -
Enjoying and appreciating ns we do the blessings of Home Rule here, we would humbly express the hope that a just measure of Home Rule may be granted (immediately) to the people of Ireland.
Speaking for myself only, and not for the Government, I candidly confess that I am not in a position to say that that blessing of Home Rule can be granted immediately, or that it should be granted immediately. To be able to make that statement, I would first like to be armed with the views put forward in favour of an immediate grant by those who are more directly concerned, and that is the Irish National party in the House of Commons, and, if Home Rule cannot be granted immediately, the reasons put forward in favour of that view by those who are charged with the responsibility of government in Great Britain. Let us look over the events leading up to the present position in connexion with Home Rule. A measure was passed by the British Parliament, after long years of fighting and much bitter feeling. A great war broke out upon us, and, apparently with the consent of the Irish party, the grant of Home Rule was stayed, at any rate, for -a time. Subsequently that agreement, apparently within reach, was departed from. Looking at the matter from this distance, and in the light of the scrappy information we get, we find the Irish Nationalist party, in agreeing to the deferring of Home Rule for the present, did not contemplate, as none of us contemplated, that the war was going to last for years. They probably thought that it would last only for a few months, and that, at any rate, at the outset of the war, this was a question which could not be conveniently brought forward; and they agreed, no doubt reluctantly, to a postponement of its introduction. . Later, when the war began to stretch out to an interminable length, they began again to press for an instalment of this right for the people of Ireland. Then what I believe were honest attempts were made to reconcile the factions in ‘the British Parliament to permit of an understanding to be arrived at which would enable Home Rule to Ve brought in with the least possible friction. All parties must recognise that if Home Rule is to be brought in it should not be heralded by strife. It should be heralded, if possible, by good-will, and by peaceful agreement amongst all parties. That attempt failed. Mr. Lloyd George did his utmost at a later period to bring into agreement, the two most discordant factions, that is the Irish Nationalist party and the extreme section of the Unionist party. He failed, owing, apparently, to the unbendable attitude of certain of the Unionists. But he is now the head of a Government which contains some of those leading Unionists, who, there is no doubt - and I do not think that I am doing them any injustice in making the statement - have been the chief stumbling-blocks to the accomplishment of Home Rule. The very fact that the present Government have given an opportunity for the discussion of this proposition - and we are told through the cable news that endeavours are being made for an arrangement on this question - leads us to hope and believe that at last something definite will be arrived at. That being so, I ask honorable senators: Is it advisable that the Senate, as a part of a Dominion Parliament, should say to the British House of Commons when it is about to deal with this question, “ You should immediately grant Home Rule “ ? Are we, after all, reasonable in taking up that attitude? That we should say to the House of Commons, “ In our opinion, this is a solution of the difficulty,” I quite agree; that we should say that Home Rule ought to be granted to Ireland, I quite agree; but I submit to the Senate that in using the word “ immediately “ we would go too far. We would say that, no matter what the difficulty may be, no matter what conditions may be asked or demanded, or may be proposed to be given, Home Rule should be granted.
– It is only a respectful expression of opinion.
– Yes, but it is an expression of opinion. I shall not give my vote as an expression of my opinion. I want to give my honest opinion, and honestly I am not able to give that opinion until I know what are the contending views put forward in the discussion now taking place. ‘We are face to face with a different set of conditions from those which the British Parliament ever faced when it dealt with this question before. I have outlined the different sets of conditions which existed on each occasion, and now we have another state of conditions. As one who has looked at this question from afar, I say that, before we express an opinion in favour of an immediate grant of Home Rule, we” ought to know, if the British Government cannot see their way to grant it, what are the difficulties confronting them. We ought to know, too, from the Irish Nationalist party what reasons they put forward for an immediate grant. Whether they are even asking for an immediate grant we do not know. It may be that they are asking for a grant of Home Rule in six months’ time.- We would look rather foolish if, when the discussion took place, we found that the Irish Nationalist party, which must be deemed to more correctly represent the views of the people of Ireland than we do, asked that a grant should be made in three months, and we in Australia demanded that it should be made immediately. I approached those who are moving here in this matter, and asked if they would agree to leave out the word “ immediately.”
– Put in the words “ as soon as possible.”
– If those words were not inserted, I take it that the British Parliament would understand that by our resolution we meant that the grant of Home Rule to Ireland should be made as soon as possible. If it is necessary to put in the words, I am agreeable; but, as a sincere believer in the principle of Home Rule for Ireland, I could not vote to keep in the word “ immediately.” I move - «
That the word “immediately,” line 14, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “without undue delay.”
I hope that the mover of the motion can see his way to accept the amendment. On this matter, as the Leader of the Government indicated, I am speaking for myself, and not as a Minister.
– I second the amendment. I wish to indicate the position which I propose to take up regarding the motion. As Senator Pearce has indicated, this is not the first time that a proposition having for its object the expression by the Senate of an opinion in favour of granting Home Rule to Ireland has been submitted. I think that honorable senators will recollect that on these occasions I have never left any doubt in their minds as to my attitude. They may differ from me, but, at any rate, they cannot complain that I did not state my attitude frankly. With equal frankness I wish to state my views now. I have always held, and I hold more strongly to-day than ever I did, that it commences to travel a very doubtful path indeed when the Legislature of one self-governing body begins to project its thoughts and activities into the arena controlled by another self-governing body. I ask honorable senators to reverse the position for a few minutes. In this country we recently had a very sharp controversy over the question of conscription. What would have been said by members of all parties here if the Imperial Parliament at that time had passed a resolution recommending conscription to us, or suggesting that it was in the best interests of the Empire, or that it was fair and just, that we should, by adopting conscription, render the same proportionate measure of assistance as the people of the Old Country were doing 1 We know that we would have taken a very strong exception to such a proceeding. There can be no controversy on the proposition I am about to put forward. If to-morrow, for Imperial interests, a House of the Imperial Parliament ventured to pass a resolution asking us to forego our White Australia policy, what would be said by the members of all parties ? In very brief, colloquial language they would tell the members of that House to mind their own business. It may be said that this is a matter of Imperial interest, ‘ and that we are concerned in it. So was conscription, and so was the White Australia policy.
– This concerns the governing race of the Empire, remember.
– This motion deals with the question whether the Parliament of one self-governing country should proceed to impress its opinions and try to project its thoughts upon the Legislature of another self-governing portion of the Empire. It seems to me quite an inverted view to take that a local selfgovernment, an autonomy under which we claim the right to frame our own laws, should take this authority upon itself with regard to another portion of the Empire. For that reason I have voted against a motion similar to this before, and I propose to vote against this motion, but I do not want to shrink from the expression of my views on this subject. There is a clear distinction between the proposition itself and the principle referred to. I am one of those who believe that a measure of Home Rule for Ireland is inevitable, but when I say that I am not able to vote for the motion as submitted, I want it clearly understood it is because of a disinclination to deal with motions concerning matters under the control of smother Parliament. Further, whilst I believe that a measure of Home Rule for Ireland is inevitable, I shall vote for no motion which carries with it the suggestion of the coercion of Ulster, and this motion does in some way contain an idea of the coercion of Ulster.
– I want it to bo safeguarded against that suggestion. I believe that a measure of Home Rule for Ireland is inevitable, but I am not going to be a party to any motion in favour of Home Rule which implies the coercion of the six counties. For that reason I have decided to vote against the motion. I understand, however, that the sponsor of the motion is prepared to accept the amendment submitted by Senator Pearce, and, if so, that will obviate the necessity for any discussion on that point.
– What is the nature of the amendment?
– To strike out the word “ immediately “ and insert “ without undue delay.” This makes the motion more acceptable to me, and I believe, also, to those other honorable senators who are supporting it, and who, anxious though they may be to secure Home Rule for Ireland, are unwilling to support it irrespective of. Empire considerations.
– I rise to support the motion. I am glad to think that all parties have come together on the amendment. I hope I shall set an example of brevity to other honorable senators, because I feel that nothing can injure the motion more than undue talking upon it. I merely wish to say that had the word “ immediately “ been retained, I would have supported the motion, for the simple reason that I believe that immediately Home Rule is granted to Ireland there will be a new Ireland. I believe that John Redmond properly interpreted the position and the feelings of the Irish people in this community. Because I have believed in the principle during the whole of my political career I am supporting the motion now. I do not want to say any more. My- position is now beyond all challenge.
– I think I was the first in this chamber to speak on Home Rule, when the motion was carried on the first occasion, the mover contented himself with simply submitting it. The opinions I expressed on that occasion I still hold. Had the mover of the motion insisted upon retaining the word “ immediately,” I would certainly have supported him, because I think if any subject should be dealt with immediately it is this question of Home Rule for Ireland. The carrying of a colourless motion, indefinite as the time, is of little value. I do not think the motion will in any way embarrass the Imperial Government, because when I was in London recently I frequently visited the House of Commons and met there representatives of the Irish people as well as members from other parts of the United Kingdom. I heard, on very good authority, that the arrangement made by the present Prime Minister was well received by Sir Edward Carson, and that any difficulties that arose were due to the action taken by Lord Lansdowne in the House of Lords. I believe, therefore, that the motion now before the Senate will be welcomed by the Prime Minister of Great Britain, and assist him in his task. One pleasing feature of this debate is the brevity of the remarks made by honorable senators, in order that we may dispose of this motion, which is a matter of urgency to the Irish people. I will be equally brief in my remarks, and content myself by saying, “ God speed “ to the resolution.
– I have no desire to prolong this debate. My only reason for speaking now is to say that I would have preferred the motion in its original form. As an Australian born son of an Irishman, I have always wondered why Ireland did not have the right of self-government, and I shall always remember with pleasure my connexion with that big demonstration in the Melbourne Town Hall a couple of years ago, when I was privileged to speak on a resolution dealing with this matter. If the motion had been retained in its original form it would have received the same unanimous support - because, apparently, the vote is going to be unanimous. I cannot see why Ireland should not have Home Rule. I shall, of course, vote for the motion as amended, but I regret that its original form was not retained.
– All I wish to say is that I shall support the motion as amended, and on behalf of my native land I thank all those honorable senators who have spoken in favour of the motion. I also thank those who, from their appearance in the chamber, are about to vote for it. In supporting the motion they will be doing an act of natural justice to Ireland as well as an act of high policy that will consolidate the Empire.
– I would have preferred the original motion, but it is better to carry the amendment than to do nothing. Most of us are conversant with the history of Ireland. When we read in the newspapers from day to day of the dreadful happenings of Europe, the student of history will have before his mind’s eye the picture of a community - the one community of Europe - the population of which to-day is only half what it was fifty years ago.
– And still dwindling.
– There is not another example of that kind in Europe. Some people may claim that this state of affairs has been brought about by what might be called the “ cussedness “ of the Irish race. My own opinion is that it has been caused by misgovernment by the landed aristocracy of Great Britain and Ireland. I hope that if this war accomplishes nothing else it will at least de throne that kind of government in Great Britain for ever.
– We have not Home Britain for ever.
– I know that. I have been an advocate of the granting of Home Rule to both Ireland and Scotland for many years. I suppose honorable senators will recollect that, just prior’ to the outbreak of the war, there was some hope that Ireland would be granted a measure of Home Rule. At that particular time, we found one very prominent member of the British Parliament in open rebellion against the Government. I refer to Sir Edward Carson. He bought ships, purchased ammunition, and organized and drilled troops for the express and unconcealed purpose of opposing the British Government if it decided to give a complete measure of Home Rule to Ireland. To the disgrace of that Government, he was allowed to go about his ordinary avocation unmolested. He was allowed to preach his sedition from one end of the country to the other without let or hindrance. He was permitted to inflame the minds of multitudes in Great Britain and Ireland, and nobody said “ booh “ to him. Why? Because he was a member of the privileged classes of Great Britain. We know, too, that the very officers in the British Army threw their commissions in the face of the British Government rather than take part in putting down the rebellion which Sir Edward Carson was endeavouring to organize. They flaunted their commissions in the face of the Government, and the Government said nothing, but took it as quietly as if it were a lamb or a sheep before its shearers. But when the Nationalists organized a little bit of a procession, what happened ? The military were called out, bullets flew, some men were killed, and others were injured. What I want to show is the difference between the treatment which was meted out to those who were opposed to Home Rule and that which was extended to those who were in favour of it. The reason why we want Home Rule for Ireland - and that immediately - is because the Empire is struggling for its life. We want every portion of the Empire to be whole-heartedly with us in this struggle, and I am certain that if Ireland is given Home Rule now, she will be as enthusiastic in the fight against German domination as is any other portion of the British
Empire. Therefore, I support the motion.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [4.16].- I am quite sure that there is no wish to drag out this debate sp as to provide bitter feelings in the minds of any honorable senator. We all know that Home Rule for Ireland is a matter which has been taken in hand by the people of the Old Country with the object of devising some scheme which will prove acceptable both to the north and south of Ireland. I join with Senator Stewart in saying that it is deplorable that any British Government should have allowed people to openly arm themselves for the purpose of fighting it, as a certain section was permitted to do, just prior to the outbreak of the war. But when we talk about a just measure of Home Rule for Ireland, we know that, despite the efforts which, were recently made in that direction, there was strong opposition to the proposals of the - Imperial Government. While the people in the north of Ireland were opposed to the scheme suggested, those in tho south were opposed to the exclusion of any portion of Ireland from the Homo Rule Bill. Thar, was the bone of contention at the very time that the war broke out. To the credit of the Irish people, they at once brushed this dispute aside, in order to join with the remainder of the Empire in vindicating its honour and integrity.
– Is that not an argument why they should be allowed to govern themselves I
– Nobody recognises more fully than I do the great debt which the Empire owes to the Irish people for their endeavours to maintain its integrity. We know that Ireland has always had good representation in the Forces of the Empire when it has had any difficulty to confront. Senator Blakey asked just now whether that circumstance is not a reason why we should pass a motion of this character. Does he not recognise that, in so doing, wa may be pushing forward this matter m a way which w»U aggravate the difficulty that exists at the present moment, instead of assisting to promote a peaceful solution of tha problem. We cannot close out eyes to the fact that immediately prior to tho outbreak of the war there was much trouble over this question. We cannot forget that Germany counted upon it to disrupt the Empire.
– Germany fell in.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT: GOULD. - I am very proud that she did, because it shows that, at heart, the people of Ireland are loyal to the Empire. Do we not all know that an attempt was made to settle this question by the exclusion of Ulster from the Home Rule Bill 1 That proposal was vigorously fought by the people, who were whole-heartedly in favour of Home Rule. The question therefore arises as to how far we are justified in interfering in this matter at all. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has pointed out what would happen if the Imperial Parliament, by means) of a petition, attempted to dictate te us in regard to a matter of domestic policy. In my judgment, this question of Home Rule for Ireland, although a .national one, may be Best dealt with by the Imperial Legislature. It cannot be denied that, during recent years, Great Britain has endeavoured to redress many of the grievances under which the Irish people laboured. I have such confidence m the good sense and honesty of the people of Great Britain, and in their desire to do what is just, as to believe that we are not called upon to intervene in this controversy. Personally, I doubt very much whether the adoption of this motion will carry any weight with the Imperial authorities. I recognise that an attempt has been made to settle it, and that when the war is over it will have to be settled in a way which will bring contentment and satisfaction to the different parte of Ireland. A few moments ago an interjection was made in regard to granting Home Rule to Scotland. The Scottish people may, with equal justification, urge that they ought to have Home Rule. And if Scotland is granted Home Rule, why not Wales? To my mind, the only way in which this great difficulty can be overcome is by dividing the Empire into different portions, and by conferring full pow-era of local self-government upon each of them, reserving to the Imperial Parliament the right to deal with all truly national questions. While I am sympathetic with the desire of the people of Ireland to control their own affairs, I do not think that this Parliament is called upon to express an opinion upon this very great question.
– That is tight. Try and dodge it.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - I have no desire to dodge it. The Imperial authorities will necessarily - deal with it when the war is over, but until then, it would be fatal to introduce a measure granting Home Rule to Ireland, which might possibly provoke dissension amongst ite people instead of promoting the peace of the Empire.
– Unless by consentby mutual agreement.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - Of course, if a scheme could be devised which, was acceptable both, to the north and south of Ireland, .no nian would welcome that settlement of this vexed question more than I would. But we have to remember what has taken place during the past few years whenever Great Britain has endeavoured to enact legislation which it was thought would bring contentment and happiness to Ireland.
– On “ Win the War” Day I was going to take part in the recruiting meetings held in connexion with the unveiling by the Minister for Defence of the broken column in Yarra Park. On my way there, I met a big Irishman, who said that he was also going down to the column. I said, “ I .am glad to see that you are interested,” and he replied, “I am interested, for, although it is thirty years since I came from Ireland, I have reared a family in the meantime, and two of my sons have fallen at the front, and a third is going there.” I told him that I was glad to be in the company of a patriotic and self-sacrificing man, and he then said, “ Oh, but why do they not give us Home Rule, seeing that they have given it to the Boers of South Africa, who, sixteen years ago, had arms in their hands fighting as enemies of the Empire ? Look at the good results which have followed there from Home Rule. Home Rule for Ireland would bring about equally good results between the peoples of the different sections of the United Kingdom, united at present, but to be united in a better sense subsequent to the granting of self-government.” I am certain that Senator Millen was right when he stated that the granting of a measure ‘of Home Rule for Ireland £s inevitable. Something more ib inevitable, and that is a decentralization of government in the United Kingdom, which will affect not only Ireland, but Scotland as well. I shall not pursue that phase of the matter. I am going to say a word or two in a gentle sense to those peoples who live side by side in Ireland, but who, unfortunately, have had at times unsatisfactory relationships with each other. I say to them, “ Let not the griefs of the old time follow. “ Let them remember, if possible, what one of the greatest masters of the English language has written about that historical Irish figure, Maeldune. I refer to the Voyage of Maeldune. Maeldune went, in accordance with the custom of the times, to an island in the ocean away from the coast of Ireland, in order to find the slayer of his father, and do him to death. But, in the course of his wanderings, he met with a saintly humanitarian, personage, who took him to task, and said, “ Let not this thing be. Go back to the Isle of Finn, and suffer the past to be past.” I say to all dwellers in the Isle of Finn, which is Ireland, “ Suffer the past to be. past. Be reconciled’ to each other. ‘ ‘ Maeldune took the advice of the personage, and returned to his own country, Old Ireland, and on the return voyage he came to the isle which he had been seeking, and saw the murderer of his father -
I came to the Isle of the Ocean, And there on the shore waa he; The man who had slain my father. I saw him and let him be.
Now, Irishmen, whether you are Roman Catholics or Orangemen, and whether you have differing opinions on this matter, have regard for the fact that you are in everlasting geographical propinquity to each other. Sink your enmities in the interests of your country, and once more, as I have said, “ Suffer the past to he past.”
.- As one who is an Australian, and keenly interested in the Emerald Isle, though one whose religion is not that of the majority of the people of Ireland, I hope that this motion will be carried,’ and that it will be sent to the Imperial Parliament to strengthen the hands of Mr. Redmond, and those .who are assisting him, as a message that we are in favour of the measure of local autonomy for Ireland which we enjoy in Australia. Though the times are strenuous just now, local self-govern. ment is working fairly well here, and no doubt it will work a little better in a few months’ time. One of the reasons “why I support the motion is that history proves that people are to he trusted with their own government. Though we have been a little suspicious of them in the past, and inclined to believe that they may do something detrimental to the interests of the Empire if given local autonomy; history proves that people so trusted have never proved false to their trust. Senator Bakhap has cited the example of South Africa. Sixteen or seventeen years ago the Empire, and Australia as a part of it, were engaged in a struggle with the people of South Africa. We sent from Victoria and other States of the Commonwealth some of the cream of our manhood to South Africa to fight Botha, De Wet, and others, who to-day are taken into the councils of the Empire.
– One of our ablest generals is General Smuts.
– That is so. After expending millions of money and pouring tons of lead into the midst of the Boers, we conquered them. No one will deny that they put up a great fight against us. I was against the Boer war. I believed it was wrong. I am not now against the war with Germany, let that be thoroughly understood. After we had conquered the Boers, and brought them to their knees, they were treated with the justice with which Great Britain always treats her conquered foes, and, judging by the attitude of these people in connexion with the campaign in German South Africa and East Africa, the Boers would appear to be amongst the most loyal people in the Empire at the present time. Some people may try to raise the sectarian issue, and tell us that we cannot trust the people of Ireland. They may say, “ Look at the Sinn Feiners; look at Sir Roger Casement, and at the Connelly case.” These matters are referred to, and it is said that we cannot give Home Rule to Ireland, because if we do she might rise against us and stab us at the heart of the Empire. In view of our experience of the conduct of the people of South Africa when they were /anted Home Rule, I do not think that we need fear the grant of local autonomy to the people of Ireland. Apart from the few Sinn Feiners, with whom I have not the slightest sympathy, and apart from a few individuals such as exist in every community, just as we have members of the Industrial Workers of the World in Australia - with whom, again, I have not the slightest sympathy - I be*lieve that the Irish people as a nation would be found loyal to Great Britain. I would give local autonomy, not only to Ireland, but to Scotland and Wales, and every other portion of the Empire. I care not what a man’s religion or politics may be, or what view he may take of this question, I consider it is only right that, enjoying as we do the full benefits of local self-government, we should send a cable to the Imperial Government, at the heart of the Empire to which we are proud to belong, intimating that we are in favour of .the same rights of selfgovernment being given to the people of Ireland that we enjoy ourselves. Ireland is to-day just as loyal to the Empire as is South Africa or Australia. One of the first men to gain the Victoria Cross in the present war was the Irishman, Sergeant O’Leary, who fought so well and so valiantly. No man can tell me that the nation that has reared men of the stamp of Sergeant O’Leary and his fellows at the Front is going to be disloyal to the Empire at this crucial time in its history. Though I have not a drop of Irish blood in my veins, I believe I shall be doing the right thing, and the best thing, not only for Ireland, but for the Empire, in supporting the motion to give to the people of Ireland the same right to govern themselves which we enjoy in Australia. I shall vote for the motion, and the more strongly it is worded the better it will suit me.
Senator KEATING (Tasmania) [4.35]. - I shall endeavour to be no less brief than honorable senators who have preceded me. This motion has been before the Senate previously, and honorable senators will remember the position I have taken up with regard to it. Long before I entered the Senate, or took part in political life at all, I unhesitatingly, freely, and publicly in my own State expressed my attitude with regard to Ireland’s aspirations for autonomy. I had the pleasure and privilege recently of being in the United Kingdom and of visiting Ireland. I spoke in Ireland as one who came from an overseas Parliament, and my remarks in Dublin, and those of Sir James Carroll, were called in question by certain newspapers. They tad overlooked the fact that we were visiting Ireland as private individuals, and were not there by an invitation or tinder any arrangement with any organization or any department of government. As a matter of fact, Ireland was not included in the itinerary of those who visited the United Kingdom from Australia recently. Those of us who went to Ireland did so of our own volition, and entirely at our own expense. Consequently, when I spoke in Dublin I said a few words there as words of reassurance. I have not a report of my speech with me now, but the Lord Mayor of Dublin, in welcoming those of us who came from the different overseas Dominions of the Empire, stated that he regretted that we would see Dublin under conditions which he and every one in the room deplored, and conditions for which neither he nor anybody in that room would accept responsibility, either in sentiment, sympathy, or assistance. He was referring to conditions which had been occasioned by the outbreak in Dublin some little time before. It was a proper statement for him to make, and in replying I took occasion to say that if they exercised patience in Ireland the people would find that their aspirations for autonomy would be realized, because I believed that behind them was the strongest force in this world, namely, a fairly unanimous opinion of those portions of the Empire which had enjoyed, and, therefore, knew and appreciated, the principles of selfgovernment. I pointed to the fact that when the war broke out not one of the Elf-governing Dominions had, apparently, been consulted. No suggestion, no direction, and no request had come from the Imperial Government, but, like hounds let loose from the leash, they sprang to the mother’s side. This, I considered, would prove a very effective lesson in the future consideration of Ireland’s position in the Empire, and I said to the Irish people, “Be patient.” I think that was practically the statement I made, and yet it was called in question by certain organs who thought I had unnecessarily intruded upon matters of domestic legislation. Less than a week later, in the north of Ireland, I repeated my statement, and pointed out that I was free to speak as I chose, because I was not there as the representative or the guest of any particular organization, but as a son of Irish parents, who ever since he had reason and power of thought, and had given consideration to this matter, had felt one way about it, and only one way. That has been my position- in the past. This question has come up here before. I voted for the proposition then. Senator Millen referred to-day to some considerations which, no doubt, are of great importance. Had I not been to the Old Country as I have been recently; had I not given close attention to the whole question, not merely of the self-government of Ireland, but of the Empire in this crisis; had I not given that sympathetic attention to these matters which I have, and had I not felt about them as strongly as I have, I might perhaps have attached as much importance to those considerations which are impressing Senator Millen as he does. But I can say, honestly and sincerely, that after my visit I am assured in my own judgment and conscience, as one loyal to the Empire, that these considerations ought not to influence me now. This motion has been on the notice-paper for some little time. It was put there before the recent developments, and it has come up for consideration to-day. We have expressed our opinions previously, practically all of us, either here or elsewhere, and I see no reason why I should depart from the attitude I have taken here, and everywhere, when this question has arisen.
– Mr. President
– I will put the amendment before the honorable senator speaks in reply.
– Senator Watson may want to speak yet.
– I call your attention, sir, to the statement of Senator de Largie.
– What did he say?
– He said- that Senator Watson is not present.
– Senator de Largie interjected that Senator Watson might want to speak.
– Yes, sir, when Senator Watson is not in the chamber.
– Of course, all interjections are disorderly, but they are specially disorderly when the President is on his feet. For that reason, I ask Senator de Largie to refrain from interjecting.
Amendment agreed to.
– I do not propose to detain the Senate for more than a minute. I only want to express my gratitude for the sincere manner in which the motion has been taken up by the Senate, and the courteous tone of the addresses delivered by the honorable senators who have spoken. I trust that their good wishes will very soon bear fruition, in uniting Ireland as part of the Empire.
Question - That the motion, as amended, be agreed to - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 27
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Addresses to His Majesty or to members of the Royal Family shall be submitted to the Governor-General by the President, requesting His Excellency to cause the same to be forwarded for presentation.
– I move -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until 3 p.m. on Tuesday next.
In view of the announcement as to an approaching dissolution of the other House, and a partial dissolution of the Senate, the Government hopes that it will be able to conclude the business of the session by the end of next week. It proposes to ask Parliament to deal with a Bill to legalize the Tariff, which, as honorable senators know, must be either legalized or abandoned at the termination of the session. It proposes, also, to ask for Supply, and to submit for parliamentary consideration, and, I trust, approval, an Electoral Bill providing for voting by soldiers at the front.
– That will include men on transports.
– Yes. It is probable that the Supply Bill will be here to-morrow, but as there is a doubt, it seems to me that I would be suiting the convenience of honorable senators better if, instead of meeting to-morrow on the chance that there might be some work for the Senate to do, I asked the Senate to adjourn and meet on Tuesday with the knowledge that we shall then have business to proceed with.
– If we got the Supply Bill to-morrow, would we not be able to finish the business by Friday?
– I am rather surprised at an old parliamentarian like SenatorO’Keefe suggesting such a thing.
– In view of the unusual circumstances.
– In view of the very usual tendency to discussion which marks Parliament, I should say that it is most improbable that we shall have the measure from the other House in time to enable the Senate to deal with it this week. I think the proposition I make is the most business-like methodof transacting the business in order to conclude by the end of next week.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senator Gardiner and the Fisher Government ; Labour Party and Labour Pledges ; Military Service Referendum: Proceedings in Caucus ; SenatordelargieandthefishergovernmentCompulsory Military Training ; Resignation of Senator Ready ; Senator Earle’s Appointment : Statement by Premier of Tasmania ; Imperial Conference : Australian Delegation ; Proposed Prolongation of Parliament : Attitude of Senators Keating and Bakhap ; Manufacture of Coal Tar Products : Toluene.
Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– Before the Senate adjourns I desire to say a few words with regard to a matter raised last week by Senator Gardiner, in reply to a statement that I made concerning his support of the Fisher Government. On that occasion I gave the figures, I admit somewhat rather hurriedly, but since then I have had some assistance, and consequently I can speak with a great deal more certainty than I could last week. It will be remembered that I asserted, somewhat humourously, that Senator Gardiner, when in Western Australia, and later on when speaking in the Senate, instead of discussing the particular question before the country, devoted nine-tenths of his time to recounting measures passed by the Labour Government in 1910-13. I said that, judging by the manner in which Senator Gardiner had referred to those measures, one would naturally feel inclined to think that he had some special claims for what he had done to have the Acts placed on the statute-book, I pointed out that Senator Gardiner had no particular reason to claim any merit; that, as a matter of fact, he had very little to do with them. I find, from an examination of the division lists, that I was substantially right when I said that Senator Millen was equally entitled to claim credit for having passed the measures referred to.
– You said that I voted more frequently against the Government than did Senator Millen.
– I have not gone into the figures relating to Senator
Milieu’s place in the division lists, but, so far as Senator Gardiner is concerned, the lists show he was an extremely impartial supporter, and that he was found just as often voting against as for the Government which passed those measures for which he now takes so much credit to himself. He voted fourteen times for, and thirteen times against, the Government.
– What year are you referring to?
– The year 1912. In the division lists I have taken the votes cast by the then Leader of the Senate, the late Senator McGregor, as indicating the Government side of the divisions.
– Was that voting in the Senate or in Committee?
– The divisions were both in the Senate and in Committee.
– Will you give us the number of times I voted against the Government on matters of principle?
– I did not divide the divisions in Committee and in the Senate.
– What you might call matters of principle, Senator Gardiner might not.
– I have taken Senator Gardiner somewhat into my confidence, so that he may check my figures, if he wishes to do so. Seeing that he voted for the Government only fourteen times, and against them thirteen times, I do not think I did him any wrong when I told him that he was claiming credit for measures with which he had precious little to do, as regards his support of the Government.
Senator GARDINER (New South Wales [5.4]. - I am not surprised at the attack which Senator de Largie has made upon me, and would think I was getting beneath consideration if he did anything else but attack me. The yapping of a cur-
– Order! The honorable senator must know that it is unparliamentary to use that term.
– I would like to finish what I intended to say, Mr. President. I say the yapping of a cur at a horse going along the street is like this continual snarling of a little man at those who disagree with him. If that is out of order I will withdraw it. Now, Senator de Largie made an accusation against me that I was disloyal to the Fisher Government in 1910 to 1913.
– I never used the word “disloyal.”
– The honorable senator said that I voted more often against the Government than Senator Millen, and last week I produced figures showing that it was untrue.
– No, you did not.
– Senator de Largie now brings forward a statement showing that in one session I voted against the Government thirteen times, and for the Government fourteen times. I may have voted against the Government during that year every time that a division was called on a certain clause in Committee, for the simple reason that ever since I have been a member of the Senate I have never voted in Committee as other people may have wished me to vote. I remember, when the Senate was dealing with the Bill relating to the pawning of medals, that for weeks I kept up an opposition to it, and moved every amendment that I could think of; but it cannot be said that because my name appeared in the division lists as voting against the Government then I was against the Labour Government. Senator de Largie, by his action to-day, has only increased his own reputation for doing this sort of thing. If Senator de Largie is renowned for one thing more than another it is his method of attack, which all who know him despise, but which all who know him could only expect from that honorable senator.
– Do I understand that the figures show that the Leader of the Opposition voted nearly as many times against as for the Government? If so, I would express the hope that he develops that habit.
– Could not the same argument be applied to some members who have left our party as to me? I would sign next year the same pledge as I signed in 1910.
– No. you would not. Senator GARDINER.- Exactly the same pledge, and there would be no one to call me to account for my vote in this Chamber, in spite of these attempts to discredit me, and members of our party.
– You will not’ be able to do it for the future.
– As in the past, so we will do it in the future. Senator de Largie knows there has been no change in the outside conditions. The only change that has taken place is that certain numbers of men - I cannot mention members of this Senate - have “ ratted “ on the party, and, having done so, they now have to try to make out that the conditions have changed.
– Nothing .of the sort. They stuck to their pledges.
– We know they did not. There was the pledge that they would vote as the majority in a duly constituted Caucus decided.
– On the questions of the platform, yes.
– Well, the Right Honorable W. M. Hughes called a duly constituted meeting, and certain members of the party then “ ratted.”
– Do you mean the Caucus meeting at which they decided to adopt the military service referendum.
– No resolution was adopted in our Caucus approving of that referendum.
– You ought to keep a copy of the minutes available for investigation.
– Well, I believe I can get the permission of our party to produce those minutes if necessary. They are not only .written up, but they bear the signature of William Morris Hughes. There was a lengthy debate, and the motion put to the meeting by the then leader of the party referred to the question of calling up the men on the 1st October instead of the 1st September. That was carried by twentythree votes to twenty-one, because it did not matter very much.
– It was a snap vote.
– The motion was not properly seconded, because we wanted a decision of the real issue.
– And you remained in the Government.
– The honorable senator will, no doubt, attack me in regard to a lot of things, but it cannot be denied that I sacrificed a great deal by remaining in the Government. I did so in the hope that we would be able to hold the party together. No man who remembers the circumstances of that time can say that any Minister could have left the Government at that time lightly. If there is one thing I am proud of it is that I remained in the Cabinet; and although I was subjected to the taunts of many men of the type of the honorable senator, I never replied, but took my gruel without, a word.
– You got no taunts from me.
– It was only because you were away, and you had not then developed that spite which you now show against our party.
– Order ! Will the honorable senator please address the Chair?
– I rose, Mr. President, to reply to the remarks made by Senator de Largie, who is trying to discredit me. I want to say that ever since I have been in this Parliament one of the principles I have always lived vp to has been that during the discussion on a Bill, no matter where an amendment came from, if I thought it would improve the measure, I would vote for it. I venture to say, also, that I can speak for the whole party in regard to Bills in Committee. Yet he says that in order to mislead the outside public, and I am taking the trouble to reply to his statements, because I know the man and his methods. Were his methods not checked, the next time that he appeared on a public platform in Western Australia these insinuations would become untruths. But Hansard, fortunately, circulates there. The best that Senator de Largie can find with which to buttress his charge against me is that I did not support the Fisher Government as well as did Senator Millen. May I say that during the period that I sat with Senator Pearce in the Fisher Government, Senator Millen supported that Government a great deal more generously than did Senator de Largie.
– Absolutely incorrect.
– I do not mind saying now that when the Whip of that Government used to come and tell me how matters stood, I would frequently ask him, “How is the grey wolf?” I had running through my mind a story by Jack London, in which there figured a half-bred wolf dog which was always trying to get at its master.
– That is like Senator’s Watson’s yarn - a bit too late to be believed.
– In order to buttress, his charge against me of disloyalty to the Fisher Government, Senator de Largie says that I voted thirteen times against it during a whole session.
– And- only fourteen times with it.
– Every honorable senator knows that none of us considers that he is bound to act with his party on amendments which are suddenly moved. We are pledged on principles, and when ‘Senator de Largie gets into his head the idea that I was attempting to take personal credit for legislation enacted at the instance of the Labour party, I want to say that such a thought never entered my mind. All the big measures which we have passed have originated with the outside machine. We have merely given effect to them. That is why I am with the machine to-day.
– Compulsory defence, for instance.
– Yes ; compulsory training for our young men.
– Compulsory training was never put on the platform.
– If it were not, what was put on the platform was carried into effect by the Labour party. If Senator de Largie has one spark of manhood remaining in him, I ask him to produce the records of this Chamber and to point to any occasion upon which I have voted against my Government on any matter connected with the Labour platform.
– The honorable senator dare not do that.
– Of course not. Senator de Largie and myself were together then, and were as he would now say, “under the whip of the outside organizations.” It will he seven years next July since I took my seat in this Parliament, and I wish to say that the outside organizations have never questioned one of my votes here.
– Nor one of mine.
– I believe that every other member of the Labour party can say the same thing. With that experience before us, how can it be urged that it is because of the interference of the outside organizations that certain members “ ratted “ upon the Labour party %
– The outside organizations have altered their methods recently.
– There has been no alteration in the Labour platform since we came from the people at the last election. I rose to answer Senator de Largie’s statements, and I am pleased to have his assurance that a member of our party can vote just as he chooses, and the outside organizations will not interfere with him.
– They will expel him, as they expelled me.
– They will expel any member of the party who breaks his pledge to vote in Parliament as the majority of a duly-constituted Caucus meeting may decide. Not long ago I attended a meeting which was presided over by Mr. Hughes, and at which a certain motion was submitted. Twentythree members of this Parliament who were present at that meeting suddenly walked out of the room and formed what is known as the National Labour party, and they have been squealing ever since because of the result of their actions. Of course, I recognise that thos© members now have great, broad national ideas. Only this morning the Premier of Tasmania made it known to the public that the opponents of the party which I have the honour to lead in this Chamber were suspiciously cognisant of the fact that a vacancy in the representation of Tasmania here was likely to occur two or three days before it actually took place. That gentleman was asked by the Prime Minister to make provision to fill the vacancy immediately, and he promptly acceded to the request. Honorable senators opposite are bound to the new “ National “ party and to the chariot wheel of a man who will drag them through the mire so long as they consent to follow him. Yet they are not game to say a word by way of protest. Senator de Largie boasts of his broad “ National “ party - the “ National “ party which has proved the greatest national disgrace we have ever had in this country. Until to-day that party was confronted with the most suspicious evidence of wrong-doing, but that evidence ceased to be suspicious the moment that Mr. Lee had spoken. Now, this “ National “ party, which has no sense of national honour, desires to hurry into recess in order that it may let a general election prove-
– Mr. Lee did not say that he knew Senator Ready was resigning.
– He was aware of a projected retirement in the Senate, and was asked to be prepared to fill the vacancy. Of course, it will be said that he went over to Sydney to discuss wheat and hops with the Prime Minister. But at the same time he was informed of the probability that there would be a vacancy in the Senate almost immediately. This National representative from Tasmania at once asked Mr. Hughes to which side the retiring senator belonged, and was promptly assured that he belonged to the Opposition side of the Chamber.
– He belonged to your party, and was your bosom chum.
– He was my friend, and it is because of that circumstance that I demand an investigation.
– Does the honorable senator know the reason why Mr. Lee asked that question ?
– What was it ?
– Because in the Tasmanian Parliament provision has been made for filling a vacancy created in that State’s representation here by the selection of ‘a successor of the same political persuasion.
– That statement astonishes me still more. If ex-Senator Ready’s position should have been filled by a person who entertains similar political views, the wrong man has been sent here. Nothing, however,, can alter the fact that Mr. Lee met Mr. Hughes, and was told by him two or three days before we became aware of Senator Ready’s illness, that there would be a vacancy in the Tasmanian representation in this Chamber. He immediately inquired whether the retiring senator belonged ‘ to the Liberal party or to the other side. Having been satisfied upon that point, he at once agreed to nominate a person to fill the vacancy. But he missed Mr. Earle in Melbourne. Then an appointment was made, and you, sir, received Senator Ready’s resignation at one minute past 6 in the evening. I should like to know how you got that resignation. If it was delivered by messenger, that officer must surely have had tardy feet if it took from 2 o’clock in the afternoon till 6 o’clock in the evening to reach you. Of course, if it was posted, that supplies an answer to the whole business. I have drifted on to this subject - I did not intend to speak upon it. But having been drawn into it, I wish to say that the Leader of the Government in this Chamber, finding that the Government had lost their majority, came down here and stated that, owing to opposition on the part of members of my own party, the departure of the Commonwealth delegates to the Imperial “War Conference had been delayed. The world now knows that the departure of the delegation was delayed because the Government could not be sure of the support of members of their own party.
– Senator Bakhap did not say that he told me of his intention, before the Government had arrived at a decision on the motion for the prolongation of the life of this Parliament.
– But Senator Millen would not be the acute leader of the Government that he is if he did not balance things so accurately between the adjournment on Friday and the reassembling of the Senate on Monday that he was able to inform the Government that their majority had gone.
– If I am the acute leader which the honorable senator credits me with being, I balanced the position so accurately that I informed the Government that Senators Bakhap and Keating would support us.
– Why, it was on the information given to the Cabinet by the Vice-President of the Executive Council that the Government arrived at the decision which they did. That is the statement of the Prime Minister
– Yet the Leader of the Senate came here and sought to throw upon the Opposition the responsibility for the Government not being represented at the forthcoming Imperial Conference. I was willing to claim credit for the fact that Australia was not to be represented there by men like Sir William Irvine, but my statement was at once challenged by Senator Bakhap.
– The honorable senator should quarrel with him.
– Senator Bakhap has put forward a method by which, for the time being, Australia could be represented at the Conference. He suggested that Sir George Reid, Mr. Fisher, and the Agent-General for Tasmania, Sir John McCall, should represent the Commonwealth until the arrival in England of our own delegates. I commend his suggestion to the Government, in the hope that it will receive consideration. We all recognise that the Commonwealth should be represented by Ministers of the Crown, but until they can get there, we might well be represented by the gentlemen whom I have named. After nearing Mr. Hughes’ statement, I am not at all sure that it was not complete cowardice which prevented our delegates from leaving for England. I am not sure that the postponement of their departure is not directly due to the misfortune which has befallen two of our ships in the Indian Ocean. Although men were to be dragged from their homes and sent as they were required, not only over perilous waters, but also into the trenches, to take the risks there, it would be too serious a matter to risk the valuable lives of these three gentlemen. Although there may be doubts as to where the ‘ credit lies for stopping this delegation - perhaps all the circumstances operated together, and particularly the tear of the risks from submarines and raiders that these three men would have to undergo-
– Of what use is it to talk like that, seeing that one of them had already been through the dangers?
– Why stop the honorable senator? The excuse may be a thin one ; why not let him put it up ?
– At any rate, all the circumstances together have prevented Australia from being represented at the Imperial Conference by the three gentlemen chosen; but I impress on the Government the fact that Australia can be represented by men of equal ability and of sterling character in the shape of Mr. Andrew Fisher, Sir George Reid, and Sir J ohn McCall.
– Surely the honorable senator cannot recommend Mr. Fisher, seeing that he has already taken exception to delegates who are not Australianborn.
– I did say that if Australia was to be represented at the Conference, it should be by Australians; but the point that I am making now is not that these gentlemen should fill every inch of the bill, but that, for the present moment, when no other representatives can reach the Old Country from this Parliament, if they were chosen, we should be represented by men in whom we can place trust and confidence. I did not pick out the names. They were mentioned by the Tasmanian senators, and they appear to me as being a very fair representation of the Commonwealth. Tasmania would be represented, and two men would represent Australia who have been considered qualified to fill the position of High Commissioner for the Commonwealth. What better arrangement could, in the circumstances, be made? I do not say that these men should in the ordinary official way represent Australia at the Conference, where the Commonwealth should be represented by men chosen by the votes of Australians, but only that they should, as suggested, represent us for the time being. We would go a long way before we could get better men to fill the bill for the time being until the people can have a voice in the matter, and say what type of men should go to the heart of the Empire. We want our voice to reach the ears of its governing body, and men to voice our views who are in touch with Australian sympathies. Serious results follow from misrepresentation. Grave things may happen through the position of Australia being misrepresented at this critical juncture. That is why I appeal to Australia not to be unrepresented at the Imperial Conference, and to send to it the men suggested, not by myself, but by Senator Bakhap, until such time as the elections are over, and Australia can send her own representatives. I hope that the Government will pay some attention to that suggestion.
– In view of certain statements made by the Premier of Tasmania, and reported in this morning’s newspapers, I asked the Government at the opening of to-day’s proceedings whether they would reconsider their decision and appoint a Royal Commission to inquire into the circum- stances surrounding the resignation of Senator Ready. Senator Millen said that he would consult the Government on the matter, but I think that it is only fair to the Government, to the State of Tasmania, and to Mr. Lee, the Premier of Tasmania, whose name has been mentioned several times in the Senate in connexion with this matter, that I should read a statement made by Mr. Lee, and published in the Launceston Daily Telegraph yesterday morning. A precis of the statement has appeared in the Melbourne newspapers. It is sufficiently important to place on record in Hansard. This is what the Premier of Tasmania is reported to have said to a representative ‘ of the Launceston Daily Telegraph -
The Premier, Mr. W. H. Lee,’ stated last night, with reference to the development in the Senate yesterday, that he desired to make a full and complete statement as to his connexion with and the part taken by his Government in the matter of the appointment of Senator Earle to the position in the Senate rendered vacant by the resignation of exSenator Ready. Mr. Lee said, “ On Friday, the 23rd ult., I was at Swansea with the Director of Education, when I received a telegram from the Prime Minister asking me to at once go to Sydney by the s.s. Moeraki leaving Hobart next day at 10 a.m., for the purpose of discussing important business. The nature of the business was not specified, but 1 concluded it related to the importation of wheat into Tasmania, a matter in connexion with which I had been corresponding with Mr. Hughes, my last letter to whom I had not received a reply to. I motored to Hobart that night, and joined the Moeraki next morning, arriving in Sydney on Monday morning. That morning I had an interview with the Prime Minister, when the wheat question was discussed at length, after which Mr. Hughes asked me to telegraph to two of the Tasmanian’ millers to go to Melbourne to meet us in conference. The hops difficulty was then fully gone into, and an arrangement made that I should telegraph to Mr. Earle to go to Melbourne with the leading hop growers and discuss with us a possible solution of the trouble, Mr. Earle having interested himself in the hop question, and, at the request of the Government, having with Mr. Shoebridge some months ago conferred with the Prime Minister on the subject. After the matters referred to had been discussed, the Prime Minister said he understood that there was a possibility of a vacancy occurring in the Senate through the retirement of a Tasmanian senator, and asked me whether, in the event of such a happening, my Government would appoint Mr. Earle to the position. I said, “Who is the senator?” He replied, “ I cannot tell you.” I said, “ It must be an Opposition member to be of any use to yon.” He said, “It is.” I said, “I understand a certain Tasmanian senator is taking a trip to the East.” The Prime Minister did not reply. I referred to Senator Long, who I understood was suffering from a very serious malady, and surmised he was contemplating retirement from public life. I told the Prime Minister that, so far as Mr. Earle’s appointment was concerned, the matter would have to be submitted to the Cabinet, but I thought, in view of the facts that Mr. Earle had announced himself as a candidate for the Senate at the approaching election and that my Government was in sympathy with his attitude on war matters, there would be no objection to his appointment, and that I, personally, would strongly recommend it. Mr. Hughes then asked me if it would be possible to arrange for a Cabinet meeting immediately on my return to Tasmania to ascertain whether, in the event of there being a vacancy, the Government would appoint Mr. Earle, as it was imperative, in the event of there being a vacancy, to have the position filled as speedily as possible so that the Commonwealth delegation to the Imperial Conference could leave Melbourne on the next Thursday, for unless such delegation did leave on that day Australia would not be represented. Realizing the great importance to the Commonwealth being represented at this Conference, I said ‘that I would arrange for a meeting of the Cabinet immediately on my return. I left Sydney on Tuesday, 27th February, arriving in Melbourne on Wednesday morning, where I, with the Tasmanian millers, Messrs. Monds and Gibson, conferred with Mr. Hughes on the wheat question. I did not see Mr. Earle, but discussed the hop question briefly with Messrs. Jones, Shoebridge, and Okines, who had gone to Melbourne with Mr. Earle. I tried to see Mr. Earle, but missed him. Subsequently, I understand, Mr. Earle, in company with Messrs. Jones, Shoebridge, and Okines, conferred with Mr. Hughes in connexion with the hop question. On Wednesday, 28th February, I left Melbourne, arriving at Launceston on Thursday and at Hobart the same evening, when the Cabinet was held at 8 p.m., all the members being present except the two Honorary Ministers, Messrs. Shields and Hays. I communicated to my colleagues the. matters, communicated to me by the Prime Minister, and a general discussion ensued, in which Ministers agreed that my surmise as to Senator Long was possibly correct. During the discussion a notification was received from His Excellency the Governor that he had received a communication from His Excellency the Governor-General that SenatorReady had resigned from the Senate. Later I received a wire from Mr. Earle that he was willing to accept the appointment as senator for Tasmania. Later a further telegram was received notifying that Mr. Earle had resigned his seat in the State Parliament. All three communications were received by me while the Cabinet was sitting. I was rather surprised at receiving Mr. Earle’s resignation then, as I had made it clear to Mr. Hughes that 1 could not commit my Government to Mr. Earle’s appointment without consulting my colleagues, and had promised that so goon as a decision was arrived at as to what my Government would, do in the event of a vacancy, I would communicate the result to him. After the communication referred to had been received the Government decided to appoint Mr. . Earle to the vacant position, and an Executive meeting was held ihe same evening and effect given to the de- termination of the Cabinet, and notification was made to His Excellency the GovernorGeneral by a telegram. Mr. Lee said that the only reason for taking such active stepsto ascertain the views of his colleagues on the matter submitted by the Prime Minister and appointing Mr. Earle to the vacancy was for the purpose of permitting the delegation from Australia to take part in the Imperial Conference. He considered this Conference of such vast importance that for Australia to be not represented would be a calamity. He concluded by saying that, so far as Senator Ready’s resignation was concerned, it was not until he received the notification from the Governor-General while the Cabinet was sitting that he had the _ slightest knowledge of Senator Ready’s contemplated retirement.
I have read the statement in full.
– Because you desired to get it printed in Hansard!
– It is only fair that the statement of the Premier of Tasmania, who distinctly admits that the Prime Minister told him on Tuesday last that he was expecting the resignation of an Opposition senator from Tasmania, should be printed in Hansard. That statement, taken in conjunction with the fact that Senator Ready resigned on the Thursday, has led to all these rumours - they may be unfounded, but still they are rumours - and all this suspicion in the minds of a number of people. Therefore I was justified in asking, in the interest of all parties whose names have been mentioned in connexion with the matter, for the appointment of a Royal Commission to clear away these suspicions. When they are cleared up, if suspicion may still rest on any one, then let it so rest ; but if the inquiry can show that there is no justification for suspicion, it will be in the interest of those on whom it is now resting. It is remarkable that Mr. Lee should have stated that he believed it was Senator Long’s resignation that was coming in ; yet he was willing to appoint a supporter of the Government to the vacancy in order to permit of the prolongation scheme being carried. He seems remarkably simple in his innocence concerning the Federal Constitution. If Senator Long had resigned, and not Senator Ready, the Government would still be unable to. carry their proposals through the Senate. Senator Millen has said that, unless the Government could carry their prolongation proposals through the Senate, they would not be able to send the delegation to the Imperial Conference. According to this Tasmanian journal, Mr. Lee was very anxious that the dele- gatton should go without any delay, and that was why he was so eager to fill the vacancy, but if he had any knowledge of our Constitution, he must have known that Senator Long’s resignation would not have altered the position. An alteration of the position could only be brought about by the resignation of a senator who was able to attend and vote. Assuming that Senator O’Loghlin may support the Government, Senator Long’s resignation would have left eighteen senators on either side, and seventeen on either side available to vote. The proposal for the prolongation of the life of Parliament would then have been resolved in the negative. I have read the article from the Launceston Telegraph. In the interests of every one concerned, and especially of Mr. Lee, whose name has been used by myself and others, and against whom I do not impute anything wrong, the Government should appoint a Royal Commission. I believe that Mr. Lee would ask for it, and I hope that the Government will grant it.
– Last week Senator Watson, who was here earlier to-day, but is now absent from the chamber, quoted some statements that appeared in the New South Wales press on the question of the manufacture of toluene. I promised to obtain a reply to the questions he asked. There were four points raised. The first was in regard to an article which appeared in the Sydney Sun, in which it was said that the regulations prohibiting the storing of crude tar would come into force on 1st March, and not on 1st May. As a matter of fact, the regulation that comes into force on 12th March - and not on 1st March, as stated in the article quoted by Senator Watson - does not prohibit the storing of crude tar, but deals only with the treatment and disposal of the light oils obtained from the distillation of tar within certain areas. The second point raised was that representatives of the Albion Quarry Company, of Melbourne, had waited upon me. The company is engaged in the distillation of tar, and it was said that its representatives had waited upon me, and had given information regarding the production by the company of toluene and benzine. This particular company has not yet produced on a commercial scale the toluene required by the Defence Department. The company, however, proposes to alter its still in the hope of being able to do so. The third matter referred to was a statement by Mr. Octavius W. Cowley, a director of De Meric Limited, Sydney, who said that it was with much astonishment he had. read in the Sun a statement under the heading “ Distilled Coal Tar,” made by the Minister for Defence. He quoted the statement, which was to the effect that- I had said that we had not yet been able to secure the successful production of toluene up to the standard required. Mr. Cowley went on to contradict that statement, and to assert that his company are distilling tar, and, in addition, manufacturing benzol, solvent naphtha, and sublimed naphthaline, and many other products of coal tar, and have for twelve months produced and supplied, under contract to the Imperial Russian Government, quantities of toluol for the manufacture of high explosives. The facts in this matter are thatDe Meric Limited have not been supplying the Russian Government with toluol’ to the British Imperial Government’s specification, which is the standard required by the Defence Department, because we have to pass it on to the Imperial Government. The contract between Messrs. De Meric Limited and the Russian Government is for a mixture of benzine and toluene, or toluol. I think it is necessary to make this clear, because we are anxious to induce manufacturers to take up the manufacture of toluene, which will be useful for the manufacture of high explosives for this war. Mr. Cowley said, further, that the directors of his company are prepared to negotiate with the Minister for Defence to deal with such products and to supply toluene. They did make an offer’ to supply toluene to the Defence Department, but, as their proposal involved an’ estimated loss of about £1,000 per month’ to the Defence Department, while apparently showing a very handsome profit to Messrs. De Meric Limited, the proposal was declined in the form presented. There is only one other matter to which I would like to refer, and that is in connexion with a point raised by Senator Gardiner. I think the facts should be correctly set before the public. The honorable senator challenged the statement that the Labour party at their Caucus meeting did carry a resolution approving of the proposal put forward by the then Hughes Government in regard to conscription. Senator Gardiner and other honorable senators who were present at the Caucus meeting will, no doubt, remember that there were three points involved in the proposal put forward by Mr. Hughes at the outset. First, that there should be a referendum on the question of conscription; secondly, that a proclamation should be issued under the Defence Act and the War Precautions Act, calling up men for service under the Defence Act three months prior to the taking of the referendum, so that when it was taken the men would be sufficiently trained to be sent away; and, thirdly, that if conscription were carried at the referendum, that would be deemed to give authority to the Government to proceed. That was the proposal put forward by the Government; and after discussion had proceeded upon it, Mr. Hughes, on behalf of the Government, altered that proposal to the effect that the men should be called up under the proclamation two months prior to the taking of the referendum. Pressure was then brought to bear on Mr. Hughes and the Government in that party meeting to have the calling up of the men after the referendum had been taken, and a number of the members of the party- present intimated that if that were done they would support the Government proposal. As a compromise, the period for which the men should be called up prior to the taking of the referendum was brought down to one month, . and Mr. Hughes then put the Government proposal with that compromise. Those who were present at the meeting will remember that he said, “Well, we come down to one month, and I put the proposal to the vote. All those who are in favour of that “ - “ that” meaning the Government proposal with the compromise reducing the term for which the men were to be called up to one month instead of three months before the taking of the referendum-
– There were no Government proposals. ‘
– The proposal put by Mr. Hughes was the Government proposal, with the concession as to one month prior to the taking of the referendum which had been pressed upon him.
– Is the honorable senator prepared, when the Senate adjourns, to go with me and inspect the minutes signed by Mr. Hughes, and then come and tell the Senate the result?
– I do not care what the minutes contain. I know, and other honorable senators know, that I am accurately stating what took place.
– The words were written down, and signed by Mr. Hughes.
– I have not seen the minutes, but I have a clear recollection of the matter, because, as Minister for Defence, I was keenly interested in it.
– The Minister refers to the vote which was carried early in the morning, at about half -past 2 o’clock?
– Yes. The military necessities of the situation were that the men should be available to be sent overseas after the referendum, and it was therefore desirable that we should get them into camp at the earliest possible moment. Mr. Hughes made what I said at the time was an unwise conces-sion, because, had conscription been carried at the referendum, it would have been necessary for us to keep the men in camp here for some time before they would be ready to be sent overseas. However, when he made that concession, Mr. Hughes put the proposition to the meeting as a whole, and those present knew that very well when they voted upon it. A majority of twenty-four to twenty -one agreed to that proposal put before the meeting by the Government.
– Honorable senators opposite are in a worse fix than they would otherwise be if the Minister’s statement of the matter is not correct.
– By carrying that proposal, the Caucus agreed to the taking of the referendum, to the calling up of the men one month before the referendum was taken, and to the decision being accepted by the Government as an authority to proceed if conscription were carried at the referendum. Yet after that several honorable senators came down here and violated that decision of a duly constituted Caucus meeting by voting against the Military Service Referendum Bill.
– I have never been admitted -to the dread presence of the awful, mysterious institution known as the Caucus. Like other honorable senators, I have been rather interested in the statements and contradictions to which we have listened this afternoon. Senator Pearce has affirmed that a motion was carried at the Caucus meeting by which the party agreed to support the referendum. Senator Gardiner denies it.
– I- do.
– I accept the honorable senator’s denial, and then what is the position? It is that we have had honorable senators here denouncing tho referendum and conscription though not compelled by any party obligation at all. Of their own free will they came here and supported something in which they did not believe. There might have been some excuse for men going into a party room and saving that their organizations required them to follow the lead of the majority; hut there can be no excuse for a man who has any conscience or heart coming here and deliberately supporting, under no party obligations at all, something in which he does not believe, and which he believes to be wrong.
– I supported the submission of the question to the people, and would do so again to-morrow on almost any question.
– The honorable senator can take his choice of the alternatives. Either honorable senators who voted against the Military Service Referendum Bill broke their obligation to the Caucus, or if there were no obligation, then a dozen honorable senators or more voted for something in which they did not believe.
– We voted to let the people decide.
– The honorable senator will accept my assurance that I voted for the Military Service Referendum Bill because I believed in submitting the question to the people, and, at the same time, said that I was going out to oppose conscription.
– There were some honorable senators who, in their speeches, said that they believed in the question being submitted to the people, and then voted against the referendum. Senator Gardiner has reiterated here, as,, if I know him, he will reiterate a hundred times between this and polling day - -
– Surely polling-day is not a hundred days away!
– The honorable senator will say it more than once a day.
When he has once made a speech, he goes on making the same speech. Exception was taken by Senator de Largie the other day to Senator Gardiner going over things that had already been dealt with, Good heavens, let the honorable senator have some mercy on Senator Gardiner I If he takes that speech away from him, Senator Gardiner’s political stockintrade will be exhausted. The speech he made here the other day, with its eulogy of the achievements of the Labour party, had frequently been made by the honorable senator before. If honorable senators will search Ilansard of five years ago they will find the same speech almost word for word. In succeeding sessions it will be found slab for slab, and having made, the speech once, the honorable senator makes it always. He is the most consistent man in the matter of speech-making that I ever met, or hope to meet.
I made a statement here, and I repeat it now, that until Senators Bakhap and Keating had announced how they intended to vote I ‘believed they would vote with the Government on the motion for prolonging the life of this Parliament.
– But the honorable senator had no definite assurance on the point.
– I have admitted that.
– As the honorable senator has again referred to the matter, will he not admit that he had an assurance that, in view of the situation,, we could give him no definite promise ?
– That is quite true;, but whilst the honorable senator gave no definite promise, he gave a conditional one. Passing from that, I want to say that it is perfectly true that Senators Bakhap and Keating gave me no assurance that they would vote with the Government, but it is equally true that they did not say that they would not vote with the Government.
– On Thursday night, was it nott
– Tes, and the honorable senator did not speak to me again on this matter until after the debate on Monday.
– Who stopped the delegation from going away, the Opposition or Senator Bakhap)
– I am going to show directly who stopped the departure of the delegation. Senators Bakhap and Keating left me on that night, as the former has said, without an intimation as to what they were going to do. Seeing that they were in that frame of mind-
– You understood very well that our opinion was in a state of suspense.
– That is quite so. I want Senator Bakhap and myself to agree, if we can, as to the position at that time. I say that the judgment of Senators Bakhap and Keating was, as I viewed it, in a state of suspense. There it was, balanced, waiting to see what might happen. That was the last communication I had with them. Senator Gardiner said something about me having mme political acuteness. I cannot claim that quality.
– Before the Minister goes on, I would like him to understand that I do not admit for a moment - in fact, I utterly disclaim - that there was anything in his relationship to ns which had a suspicion of anything improper about it.
– The idea that any one would even suggest that did not occur to me.
– As a matter of. fact, did not Senators Bakhap and Keating intend to vote for the motion except for the statement that was made on Friday morning?
– My honorable friends on the other side cannot have it both ways. A few minutes ago the statement of Senator Gardiner was that the change of Government policy .was because these two honorable senators were net prepared to vote for the motion; and now Senator O’Keefe, a Tasmanian, having to face the same electors as Senator Bakhap, asks - Is it not a matter of fact that these two senators would have voted for the Government only for what happened after they saw me?
– Exactly; and that, I think, is Senator Gardiner’s opinion, tool That statement was made, and they believed that Tasmania was rather too heavily involved.
– What statement is the honorable senator referring to ?
– The statement made by Senator Watson.
– Leaving these two honorable senators, as Senator Bakhap admits I did, without any knowledge than that their minds were open’ and on the balance, I had naturally to think round the position. I argued, “ Clearly these gentlemen’s’ minds are in a state of balance. What are the probabilities?” First of all, these . two gentlemen have been associated with the Liberal party. They, as members of the party, helped to bring about the present union, and to place me here. I have had long associations with Senator Keating, and. a few years’ association with ‘ Senator Bakhap. I formed this opinion, that if their minds are so evenly balanced on this matter when they come to take that fact into account they, having helped to place me here a week or two ago, will not se soon join with those who wish to pull me from the Treasury bench. I did not believe that these two gentlemen were going to destroy that which they had so recently helped to create. I repeat that there was another factor. Senator Keating did tell me that he was going to leave for Tasmania on Friday afternoon, and, although I pointed out to him what it meant, he still said that he was going, having engagements to make. He did not go to Tasmania. He has said here that he did not leave Melbourne because of what happened on Friday morning, but he did not come and tell that to . me. He told me on Thursday night where he was going, whereupon I pointed out the position to him, assuming that these two gentlemen would think matters over again, and view everything as it came along. Senator Keating never came to me afterwards and said, “ In view of what has happened I must vote against the Government,” nor did Senator Bakhap.
– No, for the simple reason that we did not get an opportunity, and we had to be so careful in regard to the matter, as developments were happening hourly.
– I am not; questioning the right of the honorable senator to do it, nor the wisdom of the course he saw fit to take.
– I do not allow anybody to challenge my right.
– I do not challenge it, and I do not want the honorable senator to think that I am. At the same time, I wish to point out the facts on which I shaped my judgment and my statement to my colleagues. The party attachments, and, may I say, the personal attachments, which existed between the two honorable senators and myself induced me to believe that their minds were evenly balanced, and that these factors would in the final resort turn the scale. When Senator Keating told me that he intended to leave for Tasmania on Friday, and I found he did not go, I argued that he had thought the matter over, and had decided to stay and support the Government, seeing that he had not come to tell me that he was going to do otherwise. If there was an obligation upon any one in these circumstances, if they had finally made up their minds then, - I did not know whether they had or not - it was to acquaint me with their decision.
– Friday’s cable illustrates that.
– The fact that these two honorable senators did not do that relieves me from the suggestion that I knew what they were going to do, and I should say, in the mind of every man but Senator Gardiner, will discount for ever the suggestion that it was because of my knowledge of the attitude of these two gentlemen that the Government changed the procedure which it had placed before the Senate.
– I say that it was not the Opposition, but Senator Bakhap, who censured the Government.
– I still say that in the report I made to my colleagues it was the Opposition which was responsible, and it iB now. The Opposition numbered sixteen, while Senators Bakhap and Keating numbered two. If the Opposition had shown any desire to co-operate with the Government, no one need to have bothered about those two gentlemen.
– Did you not have a Cabinet meeting on Monday morning, and knew that these men were not going to support you ?
– I have said again and again that the statement that I knew that, is absolutely contrary to the fact. I have spent half-an-hour this afternoon in repeating that denial, and either the honorable senator has not sense enough to understand me or he is deliberately and of purpose repeating a statement which I have shown to be false.
– Do not talk about my sense. I am talking about you and the Cabinet.
– I made that report to the Cabinet.
– And the Cabinet came to another decision.
– The Cabinet did not come to another decision. I still said that, so far as the motion was concerned, we could carry it, but I pointed out that, with a hostile, remorseless, reckless Opposition bent upon doing anything, we could get over the first difficulty, though, in my judgment, it would be impossible to go very long on the road we had set out to travel before we would find ourselves in a difficulty, and it was not worth while to take .the risk.
– Why would a reckless Opposition not cause you to throw up the sponge on Friday evening, and yet lead you to do so on Monday morning)
– The reason is that we had no opportunity of presenting the position to the Cabinet until then.
– We did nothing remorseless between Friday evening and Monday morning.
– Friday’s disclosures showed me the kind of Opposition we were up against.
– I was trying to persuade you to screw up your courage.
– Friday’s sitting started in the morning, and there was no opportunity to communicate with my colleagues until the afternoon after we had adjourned, but the happenings in the Senate on that day showed me that there was only one crime in the calendar which the Opposition would not commit if in doing so they could pull down the Government, and that crime was suicide.
– Will you nob admit that on Monday morning you were hoist with your own petard when you knew the position of the two Tasmanian senators?
– All I can say is that these are the gentlemen whom the honorable senator and I have been associated with for many years. I have put that position before them. They will believe me or not, according as they know me and judge my character.
– I did not mean you personally, but the Government.
– I informed the Senate of what I told my colleagues.
Either they have to take my word or uey have to write me down to a very low level, indeed, and still allow these constant suggestions of honorable senators opposite to influence their minds. I have told the Senate, frankly and fully, the recommendations I made to my colleagues. ‘ When I came to the chamber on Monday morning, I came with a full belief that if we proceeded with the motion for prolonging the life of Parliament, we could carry it.
– Why did yon not go on with the motion t
– There is the same thing again. I have been telling the Senate for the’ last half-hour. It was utterly useless to carry the motion if we were not in a position to see that the delegation was allowed to complete its duty. I believe that those who are listening to me, even those who are interjecting, do believe in their hearts what I am saying now; but that will not prevent them from going outside and’ talking in an entirely contrary direction.
– I will quote Senator Bakhap when I get outside.
– The honorable senator may do that, but Senator Bakhap has’ not said a single word to contradict what I am Baying.
– Be claims that he drove you to the country.
– Both Senators Bakhap an3 Senator Keating are here now.
– The position is that the Minister simply knew that on Thursday night our minds, in view of the situation, were in an indeterminate state.. We were awaiting developments.
– That is quite so.
– He heard nothing direct or indirect from me from Thursday night up to the time when he moved the motion .
– I have said all that I want to say on that point. I only regret that it has been necessary to refer to the matter again. I have told the Senate, without any reservation, the report which I made to my colleagues. That report also included an estimate of how we would get along in the Senate if we did carry the motion to prolong the life of Parliament. It was not the action of Senators Bakhap and Keating which shaped the advice I ventured to give to my colleagues, nor did I know what action they were going to take; but it was the knowledge that there were fifteen or sixteen senators on the other side who had not only said by plain words recorded in Hansard, but had shown by their acts, that they were nob prepared to allow us to. get on with the business.
– Hear, hear!
– As Senator Stewart interjects, I must say that I should have considered the possibility of him changing his mind and his attitude. However, I do. not want to say any more on this subject except to give an invitation. I think that those who are listening believe me.
– Do not protest too much; do not do it again.
– If I make a protest, I believe that it will be listened to. The honorable senator has passed the time when any protest he may make will be accepted. In conclusion, I invite honorable senators to remember that, although I made a statement which I believe they accept, they will still find that statement perverted outside for political purposes.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 6.7 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 7 March 1917, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1917/19170307_senate_6_81/>.