7th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Assent to the following Bills re ported-.-
Daylight Saving Repeal Bill.
Tasmania and Western Australia
– Has it been brought under the attention of the Minister controlling the shipping that the Mount Bischoff Tin Smelting Company, in Tasmania, will have to close down inthree weeks time if a supply of coal is not forthcoming ; that £40,000 worth of smelted tin in ingots is awaiting shipment at the port of Launceston ; that a great deal of perishable produce is also available for shipment; and that the interruptionof the direct service between the mainland and Tasmania, while preventing this stuff from being shipped, also causes travellers to the south, the middle, and the east of the island to be involved in the payment of extra railway fares almost equivalent to steamer fares? If these matters have been brought under his notice, are any steps being taken bythe Administration to restore the direct service between the mainland and the port of Launceston?
– Recognising the urgency of the question, I shall endeavour to procure the necessary information for the honorable senator before we adjourn to-day.
– Has anything been done to lessen the pressure which the people of Western Australia have been and are suffering through, the scarcity of several necessaries of food?
– Action has already been taken which has considerably relieved the difficulty in Western Australia, and the Dimboola, I believe, is to again sail for that State on the 2nd October.
– Yesterday I asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral whether arrangements had been completed to despatch all the Christmas parcels from Australia to tie soldiers at the Front?
– I have received the following reply to the question: -
Two batches of Christmas parcels have already been despatched, and everything possible is being done by the Postmaster-General to secure the forwarding of soldiers’ parcels. It is expected that the last opportunity of forwarding. Christmas parcels will probably occur within thenext fortnight . Persons, intending to send parcels to soldiers and others should therefore post them not later than the 8th October.
The following papers were presented : -
War Precautions Act 1914-1916.- Regulations, amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1917, Nos. 229 and 243.
The War.- National Relief Fund : Report on Administration, up to 31st March, 1917. (Paper presented to British Parliament.)
Defence Act 1903-1915. - Regulations amended, &c- Statutory Rules 1917, Nos. 226, 226, and 230.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister in charge of foodstuffs noticed in the newspapers of this morning that the price of onions is £15 per ton? Does he remember that on the 6th January I gave him notice that a syndicate was being formed to control the crop, that the price of onions would be £15 per ton, and that the growers would receive £4 10s. per ton? The public are now paying £15 per ton, while the growers are receiving only £4 10s. per ton, and I wish to know if any inquiries are being made into this matter ?
– (The Inter-State Commission is now holding an inquiry into the question of foodstuffs.
– Has the VicePresident of the Executive Council received ‘ any information in regard to the matter which Senator Ferricks brought directly, and myself incidentally, under his notice during the debate on the motion for adjournment on Friday and which related to certain alleged heavy charges in connexion with the sale of wolfram, scheelite, and molybdenite?
– I had the information yesterday, but knowing that Senator Ferricks would not be here to-day I did not bring it with me on this occasion. If Senator Bakhap will give me an opportunity before the Senate adjourns this evening, I shall then be in a position to supply the information.
– May I be permitted to say, for the information of the Minister, that Senator Ferricks asked me to be particularly careful to elicit the information from the Minister if it is available, as he would be going to Queensland?
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, ’ upon notice -
– The answers are -
Motion (by Senator Needham) agreed to -
That leave be granted to introduce a Bill to amend section 14 of the Arbitration (Public Service) Act 1911.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Censorship: “The Fiddlers “ - Australian Imperial Force: Enlistments : Withdrawal prom Fighting Line: Relief of First Division: Casualties and Pat: Cable Messages: Recruiting and Conscription - War Taxation - Editor of the ‘ ‘ Worker ‘ ‘ - Naval Service : Pay and Conditions - Ministers in Charge of Bills: Attendance in either House - Prohibition of Luxuries : Intoxicants - Cable Services - Telephone Charges - Wireless Telegraphy - Australia and the United States : Representation at Washington - The War: Terms of Peace - Shipbuilding - Preferential Voting and Proportional Representation - Customs Duties.
Debate resumed from 25th September (vide page 2635), on motion by Senator Millen -
That this Bill be now read a first time.
– It will be remembered that when the debate was adjourned this morning I was discussing a little book which the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) had seen fit to censor. I said that my further remarks about the book would not unduly trespass on the time of the Senate. I intend to quote no further. But I may say that the quotations with reference to our own soldiers’ in Australia are absolutely the worst in the book. As these have been read to the Senate, honorable senators can form their own judgment as to whether it is a publication which should be censored in this country. The book was written by Arthur Mee. It is, I understand, the production of the temperance organizations of this country advocating temperance principles.
– In England.
– And it has been read by thousands and thousands of people.
– I had no desire to quote so largely as I did from the book, but I felt it was only right to put before the Minister for Defence the importance of not interfering by means of the censorship with matters which are certainly not war matters. It may be bad taste to reflect on our soldiers ; it may be bad taste to republish the reports of
Police Court proceedings; it may be bad taste for a temperance organizer to stand on a platf orm and give his support to that kind of publication; but I venture to say that we are living in a community which can stand all that. The censor has no right to interfere with the liberty of individuals or organizations, provided that there is no deliberate interference with the conduct of the war. I do not think that any one, viewing the whole of the circumstances, will accuse the temperance organizations of. this country of being disloyal. I shall let the matter stop at that.
There are one or two questions which I feel that I must refer to. This is the first, and therefore the most important, session of this “ Win-the-war “ Parliament. Early in the session I took exception to something which Mr. Hughes had said in his recruiting campaign. He spread over the whole world a gross slander on the Australian Forces. Since thattime I have been putting questions to the Minister for Defence, but I have not yet received full and candid answers to them. I propose to briefly recapitulate the questions and answers just to show the untruthfulness of the statement of Mr. Hughes, and also the continued unfairness of the Minister for Defence in not putting, in the interests of Australia, the whole truth before the public. In the Bendigo Advertiser of the 24th April Mr. Hughes was reported to have said -
Their enlistments were only enough, because for nearly three months after the lighting at Pozieres the whole Australian Army was withdrawn from the Front, and British troops took their place. Our reinforcements were not maintaining our Australian boys at the Front, and they all had to be withdrawn and other troops sent in to do Australia’s share of the fighting. That was the explanation why we had enough men. The casualties during those three months that they were out of the fighting line dwindled away almost to nothing, and thus only could we keep our ranks filled. That was a complete answer to those who said he had asked for too many men.
In the Melbourne Age of the 20th April this report appeared -
The Prime Minister, explaining subsequently his reference to withdrawal of Australian troops, said that in the fighting at Pozieres the Australians sustained such heavy casualties that the reinforcements were entirely inadequate to fill the gaps and to relieve the remaining men, who were too tired by the longdrawnout struggle to remain in the trenches any longer. It was for that reason that the troops had to be temporarily withdrawn from thefiring line.
On the 12th July I asked the Minister for Defence -
Is it true (as stated by the Prime Minister) that the Australian Forces were withdrawn from the Front because of insufficient reinforcements ?
Senator Pearce’s reply was ;
The matter has been referred to the Prime Minister to obtain from him a copy of the actual remarks made by him on the subject. A reply will be furnished to the honorable senator as soon as this has been received.
On the following day I asked -
Is it a fact that the Australian troops were withdrawn from the fighting line in France for three months, and their place taken by British troops?
And the Minister replied -
I told the honorable senator yesterday that I would ask the Prime Minister for a copy of his actual remarks, and I promised, on its receipt, to reply to the question. I have not yet received the information.
I then said -
Arising out of the answer, may I say that this morning I put the question in a different form, so that there would be no necessity for the Minister to await the Prime Minister’s reply? I asked a simple question, which I thought the Minister might be able to answer, and that is whether the Australian troops were withdrawn from the Front for three months, and their place taken by British troops. and the Minister asked me to give notice of the question. On notice, I then put the following questions: -
For what period of time were the Australian Forces withdrawn from the western Front?
Was insufficient-‘ reinforcements the cause of the withdrawal?
What steps, if any, have been taken by the present Government to obtain sufficient reinforcement ?
Was the withdrawal so skilfully conducted that Australian soldiers in France have not yet heard of the withdrawal?
Senator Pearce replied ; 1 and 2. The Australian Divisions have been withdrawn on more than one occasion for the purpose of refitting and resting for varying periods extending over some weeks.
On 18th September I asked -
I then said -
Arising out of the Minister’s reply to my first question, I desire to ask him if the Sydney Morning Herald reported that he had stated that troops were withdrawn for three months, would he say that was an incorrect report of his statement?
Senator Pearce replied
I do not propose to answer any hypothetical question. I have no report, such as the honorable senator suggests, in my possession, nor have I seen such a report.
I have brought this matter up with a serious purpose. Honorable senators have only to look at the answers to those questions to see that the Minister is dodging the real issue - the statement that, because of lack of reinforcements, the Australian troops were withdrawn from the Front for three months. I shall show that there has been no lack of reinforcements and no lack of fighting or spell from fighting, by means of the Minister’s own figures regarding enlistments and casualties. Mr. Hughes’ statement that the Australian troops bad been withdrawn for three months for lack of reinforcements is not true. I have interviewed member after member of the Forces who have returned, and have not yet met one man who will say that they were withdrawn for any time.
– Then, why did they take men from the Third Division for reinforcements if they were not short of reinforcements?
– I am discussing the question of the withdrawal of Australian troops for three months because they were short of reinforcements.
– I say they were short of reinforcements.
– I say they were not, and will use the Minister’s own figures to prove it.
– Reinforcements in England are not reinforcements at the Front. They may not be available for the Front for six months afterwards.
– All the more reason why the statement should not be spread to bring about the impression that lack of reinforcements caused the withdrawal of our troops from the Front. Here are the figures relating to enlistments: -
From the figures published in the press from day to day I have computed that since May of this year there has been an additional enlistment of 14,000. The Minister’s statement goes on -
Although 366,525 recruits have been accepted for service in the A.I.F., and 302,570 have embarked oversea, there are not 63,955 troops in camp in Australia. As a matter of fact, there are only 20,297 now in camp, the discrepancy being accounted for by deaths, discharges, desertions, and failure to report for duty on the part of those who were accepted, but not properly attested, the latter more common in the earlier stages of the war than at the present time, when a recruit is attested at the time of enlistment.
– Were not those figures marked confidential?
– They have all appeared in the press.
– Those have not.
– I can give quotations from the press of the actual figures.
– You cannot give those you have just quoted, and you ought to know it.
– I have no desire to quote figures that the Minister considers confidential. Totals of casualties appeared in the papers constantly.
– Quite so; but the figures you were quoting from just now are from a document marked “ Confidential.”
– I shall read no figures marked “ Confidential,” but go to the press for my information, and the press figures will bear out my argument. The following is from the Age of 24th September, 1917: -
The latest official summary of Australian casualties, issued by the Defence Department on Saturday, shows that to date 107,270 members of the Australian Imperial Force have been put out of action. This total includes a large number of sick, many of whom have been able to return to duty. Details are as follow: -
The figures of enlistments are published every day and every week in the press, and I cannot understand why the Senators should be prevented from discussing matters which the press are allowed topublish without restriction.
– They are not confidential.
– Lists of enlistments for all the States are posted up daily at the Town Hall, Melbourne.Who should we not have the exact figures from the Department before the Senate, instead of having to resort to that roundabout method of computation? The figures amount to the same, so whynot remove this seal of confidence? The Defence Department is going quite silly with the mystery and secrecy that it imposes in some cases, and the publicity it gives to the same facts in others. The casualties up to the latest date available aggregated 107,270. From a paper laid on the table, of the Senate it appears, that the aggregate casualties to the end of September, 1916, were: -
Therefore during, the twelve, months from October, 19,16, to September 1917, the aggregate casualties increased, by 3.7,128. The enlistments during that time were §7,000. Those figures - are worth remembering, because Australia , is always being misrepresented and having dirt ‘thrown, at her as not doing her duty in this great fight. It is something indeed to be proud of that during the last year of fighting, after three years of war, the voluntary system has given us more volunteers than there have been casualties in that .period.
– gut Australia h’as been getting very much praised for her part in the war.
– I can quite understand a man who is not an Australian, and has not an atom qf Australian sentiment in him, being always willing and anxious to put Australia second in everything that is going on. I want to see Australia stand, not in any boastful position, but in the position she is entitled to claim.
– Australia is all right, but some of the men in it are not.
– 1 The men in Australia will compare very favorably with those who have left Australia, and very favorably also with those in other countries which are fighting in this great struggle.
– Not in doing their duty to the Empire.
– The honorable senator is another instance of a man who is not an Australian.
– I was an Australian long before you were born.
– This is not the honorable senator’s native land.
– It is quite as native to me as it is to you.
– This country does not belong to the Australians, anyhow.
– There speaks another man who is not an Australian, and who is always prepared to give Australia the benefit of second place to his native land. I am trying to give a few facts to show that Australia under, the voluntary system has done all that she has been asked to do, and that as far as single men are concerned three out Qf every four eligibles have enlisted. I want that fact to sink into honorable senators’ minds.
– Give us the figures to prove your statement.
– I find that I have not them with me at the moment, but before this debate closes I shall make it my business to supply them to the honorable senator. The figures also show that of the married and single eligibles more than 50 per cent, have enlisted.
– I presume you refer to men of military age?
– -Tes. These figures are important, because in view of the large number pf enlistments, it can, be shown that the percentage of recruiting at the present time is as good as it was in the ‘earlier stages of the war. I do not mean to say that the enlistments of any single ‘ day’ or week will demonstrate this ‘fact ; but if taken, say, from the beginning qf the war, the figures will show right up to the present time that there has been no weakening in the desire on the part of Australians to prosecute this war to a, successful conclusion - a conclusion, too, that will give us a prospect of a prolonged peace.
I am not endeavouring to hold up Australia as a country superior to the Motherland; I p.m speaking as one who loves not Britain less, but Australia more. As an Australian, I feel very keenly indeed every imputation that Australians are slackers or shirkers in this war. Such a statement should never have been made, or, if made, it should never have been published.
– Those charges have never, to my knowledge, been made against Australia, but only against certain people in Australia.
– If we remember the large number that, have gone, and consider the enlistments from among those who are left, it must be admitted that Australia is still doing her part, and every charge against any Australian is a slander on the whole of Australia.
– No. Do you slander an honest man when speaking of burglars in a community!
– Certainly not. Senator Barnes. - But this imputation has been made against 30,000 or 40,000 people in this country.
– All this talk about slackers and shirkers is quite unjustified, in view of the large number of enlistments.
We all know the promise made by the present High Commissioner, Mr. Andrew Fisher, when he was Prime Minister, that Australia would be prepared to give the last man and the last shilling. As I have already shown, 50 per cent, of the eligible single men in Australia have offered their services, and many thousands of them have made the supreme sacrifice. That is what the manhood of Australia has done in this great struggle. What have the moneyed interests done?
– Not 50 per cent.
– Getting on to it.
– No ; not 50 per cent., and not 25 per cent.
– Not 1 per cent.; not even one-quarter per cent, of the wealth of Australia has been thrown into the scale so far. The aggregate income of those earning over £100 for last year was over £192,000,000.
– It has not been wanted.
– The Government does want it to conduct this war. We talk glibly enough about the last man and the last shilling. We have already contributed 75 per cent, of the single men. What percentage of incomes has been volunteered in the same way that men have offered their lives? It is a magnificent tribute to our manhood that so many have volunteered, and it would give us a great measure of satisfaction if the wealthy section of the community realized their responsibility and volunteered their money in like proportion. But they have not done that. Not only have they not volunteered their money, but so far they have not been called upon to pay. Only a small percentage of the wealth, over and above a living wage, has been levied from the manufacturing, the pastoral, the mining and other industries.
– That money is still in reserve, you know.
– It will be a long time in reserve.
– I recognise that Senator Pratten has put the case very nicely. This money is in reserve.
– It will all be wanted yet.
– As I have said, this money is in reserve, and reserves, as we know, are generally called up at the last. We are within measurable distance of calling up the last man, and I suppose the last shilling is waiting in reserve to be paid when the last man has gone. In the face of all the horrors of this war, why has not a determined effort been made by the Government to secure a percentage of the huge profits made, in order that they may be at the disposal” of this War Government to help win the war, in fulfilment of their promise?
Now I set out to prove that the statement made by Mr. Hughes concerning the withdrawal of the Australian troops from the Front for a period of three months was untrue. They were not, and I challenge the Minister for Defence, if he maintains that they were withdrawn for lack of reinforcements, and if he values his public reputation, to grant us a Royal Commission to inquire into the statement. I will undertake to interview, in two or three days, from 50 to 100 men who were serving in France from June, 1916, to December, 1916, and will venture to assert that they will all emphatically declare they were not withdrawn, and had no recess of three months, as stated by the Prime Minister. I can quite understand, of course, that if a division had done more than its share of the fighting it should be in absolute need of a short rest in order to recuperate; but the Prime Minister’s statement that the casualty lists were light because the Australians had been” withdrawn from the Front for three months, was quite inaccurate. At that time there were 280,000 men at the Front.
– At the Front?
– At the Front or in England. At all events, there had gone across the water, up to October, 1916, 280,000 men. If 100,000 were in the fighting line, and if the casualties amounted to 70,000, a total of 170,000 men would be accounted for, so there must still have been 100,000 men somewhere in Britain or France, and available as reinforcements. If the Australians were withdrawn for lack of reinforcements, the fault must be with the authorities on the other side of the water, and I resent the Prime Minister of this country charging Australia with not doing her duty in this struggle. Even if recruits were then leaving Australia in larger numbers, they would not have been available as reinforcements in the fighting at Pozieres towards the end of July. Therefore, where is the sense in shilly-shallying over this matter? Why not give Australia its fair due ? If a division had done splendid work in July, August, and September of last year, and were withdrawn for a rest, that would not be any justification for the Prime Minister’s statement that .the men had been withdrawn for lack of reinforcements and their places taken by British troops. There are men here whose sons have been, and are, fighting at the Front. I invite them to read letters received from their sons during the period in which it is alleged that they were withdrawn. Within the last week I have seen a letter written by a boy at the Front to his mother, in which he says, “ I have at last received ten days’ holiday, the first since I came here.” That letter was written in May last.
– Does not the honorable senator distinguish between a holiday and soldiers being withdrawn from the Front?
– I certainly do. I am not making any mistake. If the Minister for Defence doubts what I am saying, I invite him. to interview some of the wounded men who are returning at the present time. . Let him move about amongst them, and ascertain their view of it. Their view - and I have made it my business to institute inquiries amongst them - is that the Australian troops were not withdrawn from the Front. There has been no withdrawal such as the statement of the Prime Minister would lead one to believe. I have put to the Minister for Defence a series of questions relating to this matter. He is not like a witness in the witness-box.
– It would seem that I am.
– I have put quite a number of questions to the honorable gentleman, and I have not received a straightforward reply to one of them. What conclusion would a jury draw in such circumstances?
– They would treat him as a hostile witness.
– They would not merely call him a hostile witness, buff they would draw their own conclusions as to the value which was to be placed upon his evidence. For three months the Minister has been giving evasive replies to the questions which I have put to him. If the statement had been true that the Australian troops had been withdrawn from the Front for three months, the Minister would have emphatically affirmed that that was the case. He has failed to do so. I invite him to do so now. I recognise that the evidence is against him. There are thousands of men who were not withdrawn from the Front, and who will - live ito give that evidence against him. In conclusion, I say that the Prime Minister has no right to put such a slander on the Australian people.
– I rise to say a few words in reply to the remarks made by Senator Gardiner last night, at an early hour this morning, and again this afternoon, in regard to the censorship of a book called The Fiddlers. The facts relating to this matter are as follows: - The censor reported that the book was, in his opinion, likely to prejudice recruiting, and submitted to “me a recommendation that its publication should be prohibited. At the same time he forwarded me a sample of the book. I allowed his prohibition to stand until I had had time to read the book, and consulted with others regarding it. I read the book through. I submitted it to two or three other Ministers, and I also referred it to the Director-General of Recruiting, Mr. Mackinnon. Before coming to a decision on the matter - of course the action of the censor still stood - I received two deputations from the Victorian Temperance Alliance, which . were . introduced by Mr. . Finlayson, member of the House of Representatives, and heard their representations in support of the plea that the book should be released. After hearing their case, and after reading the book and considering the matter, I decided that it was a publication which, if circulated, would be highly detrimental to recruiting. The other Ministers formed the same opinion. The Director-General of Recruiting, without knowing my own views or the views of other Ministers on the subject, because I never saw him in reference to it, forwarded me a memorandum that the book would te highly prejudicial to recruiting. After having got these opinions, I registered my approval on the censor’s recommendation that the book should be prohibited during the continuance of the war. ‘
I mention these facts to show that this action was not taken either by the censor himself or by myself without full consideration of both sides of the case. I have been a life-long teetotaller, and whenever I have had an opportunity to restrict the liquor traffic, I have not hesitated to do so. I am a member of a temperance organization, and have been a member of it ever since I became an adult. But we are at war, and this country has to depend for its recruits upon voluntary enlistment. Every publication of this kind, therefore, has to be viewed not merely from the stand-point of the moral object of its author, but from that of whether it will or will not prejudice recruiting. I put this example to Senator Gardiner and the Senate. Take any one of the religions of to-day. Will any honorable senator say it would be a > ‘ fair thing in criticising that religion to pick out those adherents of it who, under the cloak of that religion, have been false to its teachings and have disgraced, not only themselves, but that religion, to bring forward such cases in chronological order, and to say. “ That is the effect of this particular religion. That is what it does?” But here we have a book which is ostensibly aimed at the drink traffic, but which takes none of its horrible examples from the civil population - it leaves that population severely alone - but selects the whole of them from men who have enlisted in our Expeditionary Forces to fight for their country, and from men who have enlisted in the Canadian and the British Forces to fight for their country.
The book even goes beyond that, and selects horrible examples of what drink does in the home, citing the cases of soldiers’ wives, and soldiers’ daughters, apparently with a view to demonstrating that for a father, a son, or a husband to enlist as a soldier, was to become a drunkard ; that for him to fight for his country was to imperil, not merely his own moral character, but the moral character of his wife, his daughter, and his home. That is the inference which is to be drawn when one reads of , these horrible, cases, which are put forward one after another. Can anybody say that the circulation of such a book amongst the wives and mothers of Australia, to whose husbands and eons we are appealing to enlist, would not be prejudicial to recruiting? Would it not be calculated to create in the minds of women, and particularly of women who are careful of the reputations of their husbands and sons, that to allow those husbands and sons to enlist would be to at once plunge them into that temptation the results of Which . are so graphically and extravagantly set forth in this book ? That is the view which I took of the matter. I find no fault with the object of the book, or with the object of those who wish to circulate it, and I have shown that whenever I have had an opportunity to do so But when these persons close their eyes to the facts as they exist in Australia to-day, and irrespective of any damage which they may do to recruiting, wish to circulate these gruesome details, those who can see two objects at the one time are bound to step in, and say, “ This book cannot be circulated, because it will prejudice recruiting.” That is the view which I have taken of the matter, and that is the reason why the circulation of this book has been prohibited. I wish to thank Senator Gardiner for having voluntarily offered to- withdraw from Hansard, all those portions of it which he quoted, and which pillory the soldier, and hold him up as the horrible example in regard to the drink traffic. I venture to say that our soldiers are not” only less given to drink than is the average of the public, but that they . are far above the average of the public. It is a slander on the Australian soldier to hold him and his female relatives up as horrible examples in respect of the drink traffic.
Now, I wish to say a few words in reply to Senator Gardiner’s remarks upon the question of enlistment. With him, I acknowledge that Australia’s voluntary effort has been as good as that of any country, and better than that of most countries. It is as good as that of any of the nations making up the British Empire, and better than that of most of them. But that is not the point. Britain made a magnificent contribution to the war by means of her voluntary effort. The Kitchener armies were a miracle of voluntary effort. New Zealand did as well, if not better than ourselves under the voluntary system, and Canada was not very far behind. But Britain, New Zealand, and Canada have all had to recognise that the best that they could do by means of voluntary effort was not sufficient. That is the unfortunate fact which Senator Gardiner and his friends fail to recognise. But, good as the voluntary effort has been, if we had relied upon voluntary effort, this war would have been lost. Had Britain been content with the voluntary effort, this war would have been lost, and Australia would have been lost with it. That is the point which Senator Gardiner, and many of his friends, fail to recognise or refuse to recognise. Conscription has saved Australia, and will save Australia even if she never adopts it.
Just a word or two on the contribution of wealth towards the prosecution of this war, of which Senator Gardiner spoke. It is quite easy to be sarcastic and cynical in one’s references to what has been done by wealth in Australia towards the successful prosecution of the war. But I say that the wealth of this Commonwealth has nothing to be ashamed of in this connexion. If anybody had said three years ago that Australia was going to raise £80,000,000 to enable her to carry on this war, he would have been laughed to scorn. Like our recruits, this money was raised by voluntary effort. Our war loans were not compulsory, but voluntary loans. But they constitute a splendid record on the part of this country. There has, however, been a certain amount of. compulsion exercised in regard to the contribution by wealth which does not exist in regard to enlistment. The statement of Senator Gardiner that wealth had not contributed 50 per cent., or even 25 per cent., towards the carrying on of the war, was incorrect. Upon the higher incomes in Australia, the contribution is more than 50 per cent. The conscription of wealth in the case of the higher incomes in Australia exceeds 50 per cent, of those incomes ; and we are not out of the wood by a long way yet. Before this war is over, the conscription of wealth will be nearer 100 per cent. Yet Senator Gardiner affirms that we should not have conscription in regard to enlistment. “We have conscription of wealth to-day.
– It is only conscription of a percentage of the profits of which the Minister is speaking. The wealth of the country, about which Senator Gardiner spoke,, is not being conscripted.
– If Senator Barnes is going to conscript wealth in the technical sense of the term, he is going to conscript the dressmaker’s sewing machine. What will he do with it after he has conscripted it ? After all, the sewing machine does not represent wealth to the community, except in so far as it is capable of producing income. It is that income which we tax, leaving to the owner the instrument that produces the income.
With regard to the withdrawal of troops from “the fighting line,” which was the statement made by Mr. Hughes, let me sa.y distinctly that this happened not once, but a number of times. It has happened after each big battle in which the Australians have been engaged. Is Senator Gardiner so blind as not to have been able to discover that from what he must have seen in the cables that have recently appeared in the newspapers? Is he so blind as not to know that before the great battle near Ypres, in which the Australians have just added so much to the glory of the name of Australia, the Australian troops were for over a month out of the firing line resting? Let me quote for honorable senators some of the cables that have been appearing lately. I quote from the Age of 24th September. Mr. Philip Gibbs telegraphed to the Daily Chronicle, giving a description of the battle, and the cable says - “The Australian lads were in their most perfect form.” Mr. Gibbs proceeds: “They had rested since the hard days of Bullecourt and Noreuil, but they have not lost any of their quality- since the great epic of Gallipoli or Pozieres.”
The battle of Bullecourt was fought more than three months ago. Then I find, in the same issue of the Age, that Mr. Gilmour, the special correspondent of the Australian and New Zealand Press Association, who was permitted to be on the spot to watch the Australians fighting in what is described as the greatest battle of the war, cabled - “ I have been privileged to watch many of the units rehearsing for this morning’s task, and I can say they are in the highest spirits and in perfect training and condition. The attackers have just completed their rest.”
If Senator Gardiner will not accept my assurances, or those of Mr. Hughes, perhaps he will accept the assurances of these newspaper correspondents.
– I would have accepted Mr. Hughes’ statement if he had said anything like that, but what he said was that the Australian troops were withdrawn because of insufficient reinforcements, and that their places had been taken by Britishers. Let the Minister for Defence answer that.
– The two statements are absolutely reconcilable. The Australian troops, who have been fighting in the present great battle will.be withdrawn, not in full battalions, but in depleted battalions, and will have to wait until reinforcements come over from England to fill up the gaps.
– As they did before.
– Yes, as they did before, and as they did at the time to which Mr. Hughes referred. On more than one occasion it has happened that the number of men in England fit to start training to take their places in the firing line has been dangerously near the exhaustion point.
The figures which Senator Gardiner has given cannot be read arbitrarily. They do not tell the whole story. The man who is wounded and goes back after a period into a training camp is not permitted to go into the firing line for months afterwards. Senator Gardiner has been told more than once, in reply to questions by himself or others, that when that man is refitted, or passes the Medical Board as again fit for service, he is struck off the list of casualties. A reduction is made in the list by the fact that that man has gone back. The list of casualties Senator Gardiner read out does not therefore represent the number of men who have been wounded. It represents that number, less the number of wounded who have recovered and gone back, some of them two and three times, into the firing line.
SenatorFairbairn. - It is a shame that they should have to do so.
– It is disgraceful.
– There is a relative of my own who has been wounded three times, and is now back in the firing line again. Senator Gardiner practically says,” So long as that man can stand up, there is no necessity for a man now in Australia to go and take his place. Let him be wounded as often as the Germans can get him, but, so long as he can be there, he must be counted as available. He must not be given a spell.” But we say that the time has arrived when men who are here should take the place of some of the men who have been wounded more than once.
– And the sooner the better.
– What does the Minister propose to do?
– I propose to strip away some of the nonsense the honorable senator has been talking here. I am trying to make some of these facts soak into the minds of the honorable senator and his friends, in order that they may be prepared to do something,or to assist us in doing something.
– The Government were elected four months ago to do something, and what have they done since? They have a majority in both Houses, and they are doing no more than was done twelve months ago.
– Does the honorable senator desire that they should bring in conscription ?
– No, I do not.
– Thanks to the misrepresentations of Senator Gardiner and his friends, the party on this side were elected handcuffed on this question. If the honorable senator and his friends had faced the facts, and told the truth about them, we should probably not have been handcuffed in that way.
– The members of the Government party put the handcuffs on themselves.
– They are glad to have been elected, even though handcuffed.
– It is a good job for Australia that they were elected.
-Senator Needham is welcome to his own opinion upon the matter. I do not know that I need continue to speak on these lines. If Senator Gardiner wants an example of what has occurred, I ask him to look back to what happened a few months ago, when splendid fighting was done by the Canadians at Lens. Where were the Australians mentioned at that time? They were mentioned nowhere. They were resting. They were not in the firing line then. I hare that information in a letter to myself from General Birdwood. Senator Gardiner may have seen an individual soldier, whom he asked if he had been in the firing line at the time to which Mr. Hughes referred, and who told him that he had only just received ten days’ holiday in England. That is quite a different thing. It does not in any way. contradict the fact that if that man was in a division fighting in the battles referred to, he was, after them, taken back from the firing line into France, while his division was being spelled, until reinforcements could be obtained.
Does Senator Gardiner imagine that as soon as a fresh draft of reinforcements is brought forward they are fit to be taken with the battalion immediately into the firing line? The men have to shake down ; they have to be trained, and the officers must have time to know them. When the battalion becomes efficient, and a task has been mapped out for it, it then rehearses the battle in which it is to be engaged for weeks before it actually takes part in that battle. T.his is done away in the rear, out of the range of shell fire. The great battle which has “just been fought east of Ypres was fought time and time again 20 of 30 miles behind the actual firing line before those engaged in it went into the actual battle.
– What did the honorable senator mean by the comparison between the Canadians and Australians when he said that there was no mention of the Australians? What did he wish to prove by that statement?
– I meant to prove that the Australians were not then in the firing line, just as I say now that in the recent battle of Ypres the Canadians were not in the firing line, but were resting.
– Then the honorable senator did not previously complete his sentence, and the inference to be drawn from what he said was that the Canadians had done more than the Australians.
– Unlike Senator O’Keefe, I. leave a little to the intelligence of my listeners. The honorable senator has the faculty of talking a subject right out, giving his listeners no credit for intelligence.
– If the Minister wishes to be personal, let him.
– I am merely giving the reason why I did not think it necessary to talk the subjectright out.
Senator Gardiner has said that out of the fit men in Australia, one in every four has enlisted. I have the figures here taken from the war census. At the date of the census the number of fit men between the ages of eighteen and fortyfour were single, without dependants, 215,770, and with dependants 91,380, or a total of 307,150 single fit men between those ages. The number of widowers and divorced men without dependants was 1,345; with dependants, 4,703; or a total of 6,053. The number of married men was 306,758, making altogether a total of 619,961. This number is exclusive of some 200,000 fit men then at the Front, which makes a grand total of over 800,000 married and single men in Australia who said on their war census cards that they were fit. Our total enlistments to the 31st August, 1917, numbered 377,643. That is not one in four of the fit men in Australia or anything like it.
– Has the Minister the number of rejects.
– No; I have not. There were in Australia, not in camp, on the 30th April, 1917, 425,000 fit men, married and single. To that date, approximately, 360,000 had enlisted.
– Has the Minister a separate record of the single men who have enlisted ?
– Yes; they have been recorded separately. During the last twelve months the proportion of married men to single men enlisting has considerably increased, and the number of married men enlisting is now creeping up to the number of single men.
– There are about 70 per cent, single men to 30 per cent, married men.
– As I have stated already, I give place to no one in my admiration for what Australia has done by voluntary effort, but I say that the fact that our sister Dominions and the Mother Country have had to abandon the voluntary effort, because it was not found to be effective enough, constitutes a lesson for Australia to which we should not shut our eyes.
.- Some time ago Senator Gardiner asked a question of the Leader of the Senate (Senator Millen) in connexion with a particular matter, and it was followed by a question by Senator de Largie in these terms-
Will the Minister make inquiries regarding the editorof this newspaper, and see whether his. first start inthe industrial life of Australia was in the capacity of a strike-breaker, and that before any arbitration ‘laws had been enacted ?
To this Senator Millen replied -
The history of the gentleman referred to is, I believe, well known, without the necessity of a further inquiry. “ Strike-breaker “ or “ scab’” are, in my opinion, amongst ‘the most objectionable names that could be applied to any one. When an honorable senator makes assertions of that kind concerning a man who cannot defend himself, he should be made to prove what he says in some other place. I have gone to some trouble to find out whether the statement made by Senator de Largie was true, and I am here ‘to-day to refute it absolutely. I do not know the gentleman referred to except as a writer. He is one of the best writers I know of, whether as the author of books, or of articles contributed to the Worker. To say thai this man was. a “strike breaker” and “scab,” when he is now employed on a union newspaper is absolutely unfair and unjust. I take the following quotation dealing with the matter from the Brisbane Worker of 5th September, 1903: -
A certain Brisbane weekly print has circulated a false and malicious charge against the editor of the Worker, Mr. H. E. Boote, reflecting upon his honour and integrity as a unionist and Labour journalist. It is alleged that he wilfully acted contrary to the principles of unionism by accepting employment at the office of Messrs. Warwick and Sapsford during the general strike in the Brisbane printing trade in 1889, now over fourteen years ago. As I was appointed secretary of the Queensland Typographical Association at that ‘time, and held theoffice for many years afterwards, I deem it my duty to give an unqualified and emphatic denial to the allegation, and to place before Worker readers the following plain statement of facts : -
The Brisbane printingtrade strike was etered upon onthe 4th April, 1889.
Mr. Boote drew his clearance card from the Liverpool branch of the Manchester Typographical Union onthe 9th February, 1889, and sailed from London for Queensland the first week in March of the same year, arrivingin
Sydney at the latter end of April, when; ignorant of the circumstances connected with the strike, he was engaged under agreement by an agent of the Master Printers Association for Messrs. Warwickand Sapsfordwhile the boat was laying in Sydney Harbor. The strike closed on. the . 7th May . Mr. Boote was therefore on the high seas when the strike was in full swing.
Immediatelyon his arrival in Brisbane, Mr. Boote visited theQueensland -Typographical Association’s ‘office, presented his Manchester clearance, together with a letter of introduction and recommendation from . Mr. Cooper, the Liverpool branch Secretary, and detailed the circumstances under which he had entered into engagement with the firmmentioned.
Mr. Boote’s case was fully considered at a special meeting of the Board of Management of the Q.T.A., held on 25th May, 1889 (a, representative of the members employed at Messrs. Warwick and Sapsford’s being present), with the result that hewas admitted provisionally pending inquiries.
. Subsequentlythe Board, at its regular monthly meeting,on8th June, 1889, having satisfied itself that nowilfulviolation of trade principle’s had been committed by him, unanimously confirmed Mr. Boote’s admission, and his name was entered on the membership roll without fee or fine. 6: Mr. Boote was shortly afterwards elected by the members who returned to their places at Warwick and Sapsford’s at the close of the strike, as their representative on the Board of Management, and subsequently he waschosen by a general meetingof member’s as one of the delegates to the Brisbane District Council of the A.L.F.
The minutes of the Q.T.A. will fully bearout the truth of the foregoing statements. Mr. Boote continued a good and faithful member of the Association, and wets clearon the books when, in 1894, he left the office of Messrs. Warwick and Sapsford to take up the editorship of the BundabergGuardian, a paper run in the inter ests of the Labour party. Later on, he was -mainly instrumental in promoting the establishment of Gympie Truth, and in 1896 became its first editor. On retiring from that office in 1901, he, went to Sydney, leaving the paper in a healthy andflourishing condition. Prior to his departure, he was presented with an illuminated address and a purse of sovereigns by the Gympie Labourites in appreciation of his services and as a mark of esteem. When last year he was offered, with very general approval, the editorship of the Worker, he was a financial member of the N.S.W. Typo. Association, and is now a full ‘and financial member of theQ.T.A. and of the Longreach Branch A.W.U.
As a member of the 1889 Strike Committee and of the Board of Management of the Q.T.A. during that period, I can vouch for the accuracy of the above statements; and as secretary at the presenttime, for the statement that Mr. Boote is at present a full financial member.
P. colborne. 1st September, 1903.
This quotation proves that Senator Millen’s assertion to Senator de Largie that the history of this man is well known carried an unworthy reflection. I have read this “refutation” to the Senate in order to clear the character of a man whom I do not know personally. It is unfair and unjust for an honorable senator to come here and start to besmirch the reputation of a man he does not know by relating something which somebody else has told him, and which is absolutely untrue.
I desire now to say a few words regarding the Royal. Australian Navy, and to ask that something substantial should be done to improve the conditions of the officers and the men. When we first tried to get recruits for the Australian Navy, a book was issued, setting out the conditions of employment and presenting an attractive picture to the Australian youth of the benefits to be derived from joining the service. I only propose to read an extract in regard to the question of pay -
The rates have been fixed after very careful consideration of the average earnings in equivalent employments on shore.
The book gives a glowing picture of the prospects offering to a youth who joins the Royal Australian Navy. We know that we have to treat the men well, because it would be absolutely useless to try to build up a navy if the conditions of the service were such that the men would leave it on the completion of their term of five years. Our aim is to provide better and fairer conditions than obtain on shore. When we recollect that these men are debarred from the privileges of ordinary citizenship and have no trade union, it behoves us to show an appreciation of their work, which, as every one knows, has been of the highest order up bo date. It is well known that the cost of living on shore has increased by 30 per cent. It is only fair and just that the wages of the men in the Australian Navy should be . raised by an equivalent percentage. Mr. Knibbs, I believe, has stated that the cost of living has risen by very much more than 30 per cent., but I am content to adopt that percentage. When the men, who are now on the high seas assisting the British Navy in the protection of Great Britain, and at the same time protecting us too, hear that their families are not adequately pro vided for, and, therefore, have to look for charity, they will say that it is unfair and unjust treatment.
Some cases of great distress have been brought before me. I laid them before the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Joseph Cook), but he is absolutely helpless. I am making these remarks to-day in the hope that some action may be taken to assist the men; in other words, to make the position of the man at sea equivalent to that of the man on land. Our soldiers to-day are better off, their wives are better off, their families are better off than the men in the Navy aud their wives and families. That should not be.
Apart from that altogether, we are expending large sums of money in training men at our Naval establishments, and all that training will be thrown away if we do not offer some inducements to men to stay in the Navy. When in the Old Country I visited the Australia. Mr. Andrew Fisher was asked by the then Commander to say a few words to the boys, and try to induce them to rejoin the Navy after completing their term of five years, which he did. Now, the best way to induce young men to retain their positions in our Navy is to raise their wages, and to insure to them the conditions which were advertised in this pamphlet when they joined the Service. Unless this course is taken, undoubtedly 75 per cent, of the men will leave. It is said that the term of service in the Australian Navy is too short. In the British Navy I believe the term is twelve years. On the completion of that long term the men, for the most part, cannot retire into civil life, and consequently, after having had a holiday, they go back to their ship, and sign on for another term. But with our short .service of five years, our men are still young when their time has expired, and, in my opinion, they will not return to the Service unless the conditions are improved.
On the Estimates for 1916 there was a sum of over £8,000,000 voted* for the Royal Australian Navy. Only 10 per cent, of that huge sum was absorbed by the provision for pay, food, and clothing for the ‘Officers and men of the Fleet. The other 90 per cent, was spent in the construction of vessels, dockyards, and training schools. Only 10 per cent. of the money has been effectively .spent. If 90 per cent, of the vote is to be wasted, and no inducement held out to the lads to return to the Navy when their term is expired, the outlook is very gloomy indeed. I am bringing these matters before the Government this afternoon so that something may be done. It is a duty which we owe to the men.
A man who is serving his country should never have to look for charity in order to maintain his family. The wife and family of a man who is away on the high seas lives next door to me, and I know that they are unable to exist on the allowance they get every month. They are obliged to receive charity in some form or other. They get assistance from the Lord Mayor’s Fund and other funds. That is an outrage. There are many other persons in the same position round where I live, which is near the Naval Depot. I know two or three other cases, and I believe that there are very many of them. The man whose wife lives near my place is not a man on the lowest rung of the ladder, but a petty officer or leading seaman. He was on the Tingira training ship, and then he went on to the Brisbane, in the patriotic desire to do something for his country in active warfare. It is a cruel shame that, with Australia enjoying an increased banking credit of £25,000,000, which could be levied upon, the men who are fighting for us to-day on the high seas should have to look for charity.
I believe that a recommendation was made to the Navy Board for an increase in the pay of the men, and turned down.
– No ; you are wrong.
– I am pleased to hear that remark, but I should like to get the assurance from the Minister. Senator Guthrie has no responsibility in making the statement. I believe that a Committee was appointed, and made a recommendation to the Naval Board, and that the recommendation was referred back to them for reduction. Is that right? .
– No; it is still under consideration.
– The Committee’s recommendation was not adopted. Is that right?
– I hope that it will be adopted as a matter of urgency.
– It may be adopted any day.
– I do not know what increase the Committee have recommended for the men, but I understand that they have recommended an increase which will raise their pay by near the equivalent of the increase in the cost of living since they were induced to join the Service. I hope that, if the matter is still under consideration, it will, be quickly considered. If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing quickly and well.
.- A little while ago I asked the Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral whether there was anything in the Federal Constitution which prevented the Standing Orders of the Parliament from being so framed as to allow the Minister in charge of a Bill in one House to pilot it through the other House, and Senator Millen was good enough to obtain this reply: That it was not the practice of the Attorney-General to answer questions of senators asking for an expression of opinion on. a matter of law. I cannot complain of that answer, but the VicePresident of the Executive Council (Senator Millen) was good enough te add that, personally, he did not believe the Constitution created a bar to what he thought would be a very advantageous innovation. I wanted to find out if there was any definite bar, because, if there was, it would be of no use to go any further in the,matter; but apparently there is nothing in the Constitution to prevent it being done. I should like to hi.ve the matter Drought before the Standing Orders Committee, which is the body that must first deal with it, but I do not know whether you, sir, or a Minister, call the Committee together.
– The President does so.
– Then I shall be glad if you, sir, can see your way to call the Committee together at the first convenient opportunity, in order that the matter may be discussed. I recognise ihat it is not of terrifically’ vital importance, but the practice has been followed in Victoria with a good deal of advantage. As I am on the Committee, I can put my arguments before it, so that I need not detail them here.
A little while, ago the Government decided to prevent the importation of luxuries, having in view two very admirable objects - first, to utilize to the best advantage what little shipping space was available, and, second, to inculcate economy in the community, and remove from them thetemptation tobuy imported luxuries. . The Government accordingly prohibited the importation of certain articles. They imposed a total prohibition on confectionery.I am not raising any particular objection to that action on their part, because a good many kinds of sweets can be obtained here, although, in one way, I somewhat regret that it will not be possible to obtain some chocolate creams that are produced in England under the very best of industrial conditions. But the Government prohibited, to the extent of only 30 per cent, the importation of intoxicating liquors; and a number of people are curious to know the reason of this differential treatment.
– Anybody can make sweets, but it is not everybody who can make whisky.
– I have never tasted Australian whisky, that I know of. That may ‘be one reason why I enjoy very good health ; but there are people in Australia who are strongly Protectionist. I have no objection to their holding those views, but I question a man’s loyalty to Protection if he is a whisky drinker, and says that Australian whisky is not good enough for him.
– It is all Australian now.
– Then there is no necessity to import it.
– The same remark would apply to you and lollies.
-I have never gone on the platform, up to the present, and made a very strong speech in favour of Protection. The Minister for Trade arid Customs (Mr. Jensen) gave as a reason for prohibiting the importation of intoxicants to the extent of only 30 per cent., that a total prohibition would cause a loss of £1,750,000 in revenue. I shall not argue from the moral stand-point the question of raising revenue from the drinking customs of any country, customs that bring a great deal of misery and unhappiness with them; but subsequently I asked the Minister the following questions : -
I received the following replies: -
I had a right to ask that question, and asked it civilly and courteously. In those circumstances, any honorable senator is entitled to receive an equally courteous and civil answer. That answer was not courteous. The question had nothing to do with my studies in political economy. The Minister for Trade and Customs is there to know who pays the duties, and the information should have been available. Since I have had the honour of being a member of the Senate, I have received the. greatest kindness and courtesy from Ministers in this Chamber. I quite realize that, except on defence and repatriation matters, they are not directly and personally responsible for the answers they give to questions, because these are furnished to them by Ministers in another place; but I do submit that, before a Minister in this Chamber accepts from a Minister in another place an answer to a legitimate question put by an honorable senator courteously and civilly, he should see that that answer is couched in the same civil and courteous way.
– There was a time when you had not sucha high opinion of the Senate.
– I am not discussing at present the advantages or disadvantages of a bi-cameral system of legislation. I am dealing with things as they are.
– At one time, you did not want the Senate ; how you are glad of it as a refuge.
– If to-morrow the question of abolishing the Senate was put to the people by means of a referendum, it would get my vote
– You have found it a safe haven of refuge.
– It has been a kind of benevolent asylum to others, the honorable senator among them.
– You had not the courage to face the Barrier.
– I suppose I should have surmounted it if I had. I should like to get an answer to the question I have been referring to. I understand the principal reason given by the Minister for Customs for not prohibiting the importation of intoxicating liquors is that the revenue’’ would suffer; but as I presume the consumer pays, I might suggest, as did Senator Grant in regard to another matter a few days ago, that if the importation were prohibited, the money would still be in the country, though perhaps it might not be so easy to extract it from the people as it is by way of Customs duties. It is possible, of course, that my studies in economics have led me to a wrong conclusion, and that in this case our Allies would pay; but if we pay, it seems to me that the argument used by the Minister for Customs rather falls to the ground.
There is another matter upon which I should like information, if it may be obtained from the Defence Department, and that is concerning the amount expended during the last two or three years on cabling to and from England, France, and Egypt. I do not want it to be assumed that I object to the expenditure. In some respects. I would be glad if the expenditure were greater. I understand that when a soldier is injured in any battle, if his wounds are slight, the cable message merely states “ Wounded,” the absence of any other qualifying words indicating that his injuries are slight. It would be an advantage, I think, if a word or two could be added to .each such cable message setting out the nature of the injury, as this would allay a great deal of anxiety to relatives. I desire the information because for some considerable time I have been a strong advocate of the nationalization of cable communications between Australia and Great Britain. As honorable senators are aware, the Pacific Cable is nationalized as far as Vancouver; and the land line across Canada has been leased to the Pacific Cable Board, so that for the time being that portion of the line of communication is also nationalized. I regret that the Atlantic Cable service is not also under Imperial control; and I cannot help thinking it is a pity that action was not taken in this direction many years ago, because at that time nationalization could have been effected at a cost considerably below that of to-day. I understand from the PostmasterGeneral’s Department that the Pacific Cable has been paying within the last two years, this financial result being due, of course, to the extensive use now made of the cable for military purposes. If we could nationalize the Atlantic Cable, we might look forward to the time when it would be possible to cable to England and Europe at rates far below those at present in operation; and the cable would then be used for messages of a social and private nature rather than for business purposes, as at present.
Another matter which I desire to bring under the notice of the Minister representing * the Postmaster-General, is the charge made for Sunday messages on trunk telephone lines, the Sunday rates being double those of week days; the reason, I understand, being that employees on Sunday duty are paid double rates. I am not anxious to increase Sunday labour. Indeed, I should be glad if there were less of it; but, sp far as the trunk lines between Adelaide and Melbourne and some of the country trunk lines are concerned, Sunday telephone messages would make no difference at all, because telephonists are on duty at each end, and it Would be immaterial to them whether they received 100 or twenty-five messages “during their four or five hours on duty. If, however, the revenue now obtained is larger than formerly, as the result of the increase in the rates charged, I would not have anything further t;o say; but if the revenue has not increased, and if a reversion to former rates would not increase the work of the Sunday staff, it would be better, I think, to cheapen the rate, and’ thus improve the facilities available to the public.
.- I desire to supplement the statement made by Senator McDougall with regard to the anomalous position of our naval men compared with that of our soldiers, so far as rates of pay are concerned. I have not heard any complaint about their general treatment. A naval seaman is the equal of a private soldier, but he is paid only £1 8s. a week with deferred pay of 7s. 3d., which is considerably under the amount paid to a private soldier. The naval man nas about the same responsibilities, and has to face about the same dangers as a soldier, and, so far as I can understand, he cannot live any cheaper than the soldier. I find, also, that if a private soldier is a married man, he gets, in addition to his pay, a separation allowance of ls. 5d. a day, and 4½d. for each child, whereas a sailor, if married, gets a separation allowance of ls. a day without any provision for children. It seems to me that it is just as hard for a sailor’s wife to live as it is for the wife of a soldier, and that she has good reason to expect the same allowances. I should be glad if the Government would give attention to this matter, and see if it iB possible to equalize the payments. Our naval men have done good service for their country in this war. If the British Navy had been engaged on the same scale as the British Army, the sacrifices of our naval men would have been as great as that of our soldiers, consequently they should have the same recognition, and ‘ I do not think we can give either of them too much.
– Recently I asked the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) for information about the comparative costs of radio stations, and the comparison of receipts in relation to private business done, which has nothing to do with the extent to which those stations are used for defence purposes. On that occasion the Minister stated that he might be able to supply me with the desired information. But if he has any reasonable objection to doing so, I shall not press for it.
Senator Thomas referred a few minutes ago to the question of week-end cables, and in this connexion I would, like the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) to tell lis whether it is the custom of his Department to send cables every week-end to the Base Records Office, in London, in regard to inquiries of unusual importance by rela»tives of deceased soldiers. I have in my mind the case of the widow of a deceased soldier who quite a number of weeks ago instituted certain inquiries in relation to a question of deferred pay. But .although the casualty had occurred as far back as March last, she was informed by the Department that ,a cable had been received from England saying that there was no record of the casualty at it,11 at end. She was, however, given to understand that cables are sometimes sent to London, and that probably £ reply to her particular inquiry would be forthcoming in the course of a few days. I have been promised that when the desired information reaches the Department, it will at once be supplied to me.
– if it is a question of deferred pay the authorities could not get an answer by cable.
– But there was quite another question involved. A reply was received to the effect that there was no record of the casualty in London. Yet there is no doubt as to the casualty, because the trench kit has already been received here. I would like to know from the Minister whether it is the custom of his Department to send week-end cables to the Base Records Office, London, in regard to cases which are deemed to be unusually important?
– A concession used to be granted by the cable companies, which allowed free week-end inquiries to be made by the relatives of soldiers, but that concession has long since been discontinued.
– And the Department does1 not bear the expense of send-“” ing cables in such cases 1
– This lady was given to understand that further cables would be sent. At any rate, I am hoping to get some satisfactory information for her within- the course of the next week or two. I understand from the Minister that it is not customary for week-end cables to be despatched by the Department in regard to cases of this kind. But I think that he might well consider whether the cost of sending a comprehensive week-end cable should be allowed to stand in the way of promptly clearing up such cases. If the dependants of deceased soldiers experience difficulty in securing the deferred pay which is due to them/, a great obstacle will be placed in the WAY of voluntary recruiting.
– I- desire to stress the. necessity which exists for making a further effort to bring back to the Commonwealth the members of our first division of Australian troops. Quite recently I asked the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) a question in regard to this matter, and he replied that we were not getting the necessary volunteers to enable us to’ relieve these men at the Front. We all know what is happening at the seat of w,ar today. The European winter will soon set in there, and the weather conditions will then be such as to effectually prevent offensive operations on any .large scale. We know also that a very large number of American troops will be available for service on the west Front next spring. Thus we have every reason to believe that the small number of men who remain of the first Australian division would not be missed from the firing line in view of the assistance which will soon be derived from America. In South Australia there is a considerable section of the public who think it is time that these men, who have been absent from their homes for three years, got a trip back to Australia. It is true that our troops occasionally have brief spells in the Old Country. But a holiday there is not like a trip to their homeland. I was very pleased to hear the reply which was given by the Minister for Defence to Senator Gardiner this afternoon. We have nothing but admiration for the splendid work which our soldiers have accomplished. To-day the members of our first Australian division are known in Europe as the Australian Guard. On the battlefield they are placed alongside the best troops that the world can produce. The bestowal upon them of the title “Australian Guard” places them on an equality with’ the crack regiments of other nations bearing a similar designation. T ask the Minister to immediately make representations to the British War authorities with a view to relieving these men from further service for a sufficiently long period to enable them to return to Australia. I am confident that if this is done it will give a considerable impetus to recruiting. People are ^beginning to complain, and they point to the fact that, although France is hard pressed, she was able to spare men who came from the Pacific from the firing line sufficiently long to enable them to spend a few months in their homeland.
– Were not most of those men who had been sick or wounded ?
– Some of them got leave to return to look after their businesses.
– Heaven knows that the men who left Australia in the first contingent have been sick enough, and many have been wounded two, three, and four times since they went away. They are- all homesick, and they want to get back to Australia. The Australian is a3 much attached to his homeland as are the sons of most other countries, if not more. There is a feeling in some quarters that these men cannot be spared from the firing line at the present time, but we have knowledge, in view of the changes made of troops in the firing line, that they would not be missed if they were brought out to Australia for the winter. They would be prepared to go back again for another period if necessary, and would thus be able to relieve another contingent of men who might be sent for a holiday to Australia.
I may be told that this would involve very great expense. Much has been said about the wealth of Australia, and it is stated that those who possess it have not contributed a fair share to the cost of the war. I am not going to say whether that is so or not, but I do say that there is no way in which our wealth could be better expended at the present time than in bringing back the men who have made such a tremendous reputation for this part of the Empire. I hope that the Government will make, not casual, but serious representations to the Imperial authorities on this matter. We have lost the control of our men since the war commenced. We handed them over completely to the British War Authorities. Our American cousins are not doing that.
– America is not a part of the Empire.
– That is so ; she is not handing over her men entirely to the control of the British War Authorities. I am not finding fault with our Government for handing over our men in the way they have done. I recognise the difficulty of any division in the command of our troops at the Front. But I say that there is a growing feeling in the minds of the people of Australia that Australian troops are being called upon to do more than their fair share of the fighting in connexion with the war. It is thought that they are kept for too long periods in the firing line, and immediately behind it. If we have done something which, per- haps, we ought nOt to have done, in handing over , the control of our nien so completely to the British War Authorities, I am of opinion that the time has now arrived when the Government of the Commonwealth should ask, in clear and emphatic terms, that the members of the first Australian contingent should be released from active duty for a period sufficiently long to enable them to return to Australia and spend a month or two with their relations and friends. They will be prepared _ afterwards to go back, and will, unquestionably, if the occasion offers, add fresh laurels to those which they have already won for this country. I constantly meet, fathers, mothers, sisters, and. wives of these men, and I know that from day to day the pressure in support of this request is increasing, and the desire that these men should be sent back to Australia is becoming keener.
– It is not my intention to indulge in any references to the Gargantuan floods of beer which occupied the attention of Senator Gardiner last night, and reminded me of unregenerate days, when I used to read Rabelais. I must, however, refer to one or two matters which seem to me to be of very considerable importance, but I shall not delay the proceedings of the Senate very long.
I hope that the Administration, duringthe recess, will take several matters into consideration, and amongst them an item of policy which, I think, ought to result from a resolution carried unanimously by the Senate a short time ago. Honorable senators will have observed that there is a good deal of talk in European circles about peace. What it will result in it is hard to say at the present time. But there is no doubt whatever that the influence of America in connexion with the conclusion of ‘any kind of peace will be very substantial indeed. I think it is desirable that Australian opinion, as reflected in the resolution of the Senate, should be made evident at Washington at the earliest possible opportunity. In view of the friendly reception which the Leader of the Senate (Senator Millen) gave to the motion which I had the honour of submitting, I believe that this is an item of the policy of the Administration. I hope that the Government will take into very serious con sideration the desirableness of Australia being represented at the seat of Government of the United States of America. Action along that line will be in conformity with the resolution unanimously adopted by the Senate, which, if it means anything, means that the opinion of the people of Australia reflected in this Chamber should be given effect to by the appointment of some responsible representative in connexion “with the discussion of any peace terms.
– Does the honorable senator not think that we should first win the war?
– I am very much of the opinion that it is vital to the interests of the British Empire to win the war. I do not know whether the Imperial authorities, with their knowledge of the situation, are willing to discuss terms of peace at present or not, but I submit that there is a good deal of peace talk, and we do not know the minute at which negotiations in this direction .may be entered upon, and mustprepare for contingencies. That being the case, it is well that the opinion of the people of Australia, as reflected in at least this branch of the Commonwealth Legislature, should be represented in circles where conditions of peace “will, undoubtedly, be deliberated and discussed, and where they may be under discussion at the present moment.
If Senator de Largie wishes to elicit any expression of opinion from me in regard to what the peace should be, I say that any peace that will leave the prestige of our Empire in any way impaired must be unsatisfactory in its future results to the Empire. I hope that the war will at least be continued until the German people are bereft of that sense of victory which they are alleged to still retain, and have brought home to them the fact that their schemes have practically come to nought - until, in other words, they have exchanged for the arrogance of victory a sense of defeat.
– Not the people of Germany ; the swashbucklers of Germany.
– That is where, I think, a great many people who ought to know better are discriminating in a very wrong fashion. If the people of Germany were not imbued with the idea that German interests were being served by the war, and had to be protected, I venture to say that no modern aristocracy would be able to impose the burden of the continuance of the war upon them. What we have to remember is that the German people have had evidence during the last three-quarters of a century of the success
Of the policy which their rulers have espoused, and they must have it clearly brought home to them that this policy, in the long run, has resulted in national disaster, and in what is tantamount to the defeat of the aspirations of the German Empire as a whole. I do not discriminate, as some people do, between the German people and the German Government. At this juncture, I think it is a great mistake to indulge in any such discriminations.
I have every confidence in the Leader of -the Government in the Senate, who has expressed himself temperately, judiciously, and in the manner I expected of him, in regard’ ‘to the representation of the Commonwealth at Washington. T hope that, during the recess, the desirableness of giving effect to the policy involved in the resolution to which I have referred will be taken into serious consideration by the Government.
There is another matter to which I must refer, -and that is the shipbuilding policy of the Administration. I am aware that the peculiar industrial situation in Australia has prevented as much activity being shown as I desire to see in this connexion. The policy of the Government in regard to shipbuilding is right, but it is not righ’t enough. I had the honour and privilege of accompanying the Comm’on-
Wealth shipbuilding ‘expert during his recent visit to Tasmania in connexion with this policy, a leading item of which seems to be a strict ‘adherence to the principle of standardization - a principle that would limit the building of ships in Australia to composite vessels of from 2,300 to 2,400 tons, or vessels of about the size of the Oonah, which is now maintaining steamer communication ‘between Tasmania and the mainland. Undoubtedly vessels of that description Would be extremely valuable, and I very much -regret that Australia and the British Empire are not in possession of a couple of thousand of them at the present time. The policy proposed is a right policy, carried out with activity and energy, but ‘to my mind it is not righ’t enough, because ships of almost all kinds are valuable at ‘the present moment.
Comparatively small and insignificant schooners have been performing most valuable service recently in assisting to maintain trading communication between Tasmania and the mainland. Many of such vessels are also at present trading between the mainland States of the Commonwealth. It is undesirable to have too hard’ and fast an adherence to a principle of standardization.
In Tasmania, fifty or sixty years ago, when the resources of population, plant, and machinery were not nearly as great as they are . at the present time, vessels were built in that .State which satisfactorily made the ocean voyage. They sailed’ from the Australian Colonies as they, were then, to. Tilbury Dock, and were engaged in very important trade. Those vessels would be extremely valuable at the present time if we had enough of them. Therefore, I say that if we threw the whole energy of government into organizing the resources of the people of Australia, we would get many other’ and valuable ships built by persons who have the opportunity, but not the plant and the machinery, to undertake the building of vessels of the composite type, and- up to the standard desired by the Administration. _ The value of shipping at the present time is very great ; that is a platitude, but I am very much inclined to think that many honorable senators have not a par- ticular knowledge of its vastness. I know of a vessel which was intended for the scrap-heap, but which was sold at the outbreak of the war for £30,000, and inside ten months was sold for £300,000. Moreover, in a further term of nine or ten months, she earned the purchase money. If honorable senators care to read an article in Munsey’s Magazine, they will see that it treats of the boom in shipbuilding in the United States of America. I referred to this matter on the ‘occasion of the passage of a previous Supply Bill. The Minister, and any other honorable senator, will see in the article a reference to a vessel which was going to be sent to the breaking-up yard, but which was sold for 17,000 American gold dollars, and in the course of a few months was sold for 170,000 odd dollars. We are told that right along the Pacific and Atlantic seaboards shipbuilding .is proceeding apace.
– Has it not also boomed a good deal in Japan?
– Yes. Honorable senators will have noticed that in August the Japanese launched 1 10*000 tons of mercantile shipping, and purpose launching in October next “180,000 tons. The shipbuilding boom in Japan is described as feverish. We. shall have to be abreast of the time3.
Although I have referred to the fact that there is a good deal of peace talk in the air, I have also heard from men who have recently returned from the Front an expression of opinion that the war is likely to last for another period ‘of three years. It may be so. 1 hope that we shall achieve victory inside that period. But we have to face the fact that if .we. hold .to the objectives and ideals which were spoken of early in the war, it may continue for a considerable time. We do not know what further inroads may be made on the mercantile marine. I know of nothing in which this continent and this Administration of ours can do so much to help towards winning the war as in shipbuilding. I made this a leading feature of my election addresses during the recent campaign-. I urged it upon the Administration, and I am pleased indeed to know that they are sensible of the value of a shipbuilding policy-; but we shall have to impart to our policy something of the feverish energy which is being shown by Japan and America. Honorable senators may have read that a town in one of the -southern States- riot an industrial State in the manufacturing ‘sense of the term, but a State where ‘a ship had not been built before - built a ship. The whole place was en -fete on the day she was launched. They actually dredged a way right from one of the billabongs of the Mississippi, in order that the vessel, which ha’d been built in a comparatively inland city, could be launched. ‘ That is the sort of thing which is being done in America.
Every one of these vessels - wooden vessels, composite vessels, steel vessels, and iron vessel’s - will be worth its weight in gold during the remaining period o’f this war, if we can only succeed in launching them, and will be equally valuable in the time that will succeed the declaration of peace. I venture to. say that the Government will practically have ‘to adopt a bounty policy, ‘and must not be so restrictive in regard ;to the conditions of the shipbuilding scheme they have ‘espoused.
They will have to hold out inducements to persons to build wooden ships) to build composite ships, to build ships of any tonnage that may be built, according to the resources of an individual town, or districts ‘or State, with access to ocean waters-. I do hope that the Government, and the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) in particular, will relax the conditions) and urge everybody who is willing to undertake the building of a wooden vessel, if it is only one of a few hundred ‘tons, to proceed in such a laudable undertaking. I trust that the Government will stand behind an individual, or an association of individuals, or a company, or a State Government, that cares to undertake to build a sea-going vessel of any kind. That is the sort of policy we want, here. Otherwise, in th’e period subsequent to the declaration of peace, notwithstanding the fact that we are a people inhabiting an insular continent, and a people who ought to have a maritime future before us, we shall find ourselves in the unsatisfactory position of being greatly handicapped competitors in connexion with the world’s carrying trade.
This is a matter of the most serious import, for, after all, the win-the-war policy boils itself down to two things - two things which our .Empire mostly needs, and they are men and ships. Given the men, and given the ships, we practically have command now of the world’s resources.
– What about money ?
– If we have command of the world’s resources, we have command of money.
– Of men and ships.
– We ha vo the money, for we have the territory, and we have the resources which the possession of that territory implies.
– You will not commandeer money ?
– The honorable senator need not be afraid. All these things have to be done very judiciously. The country will be ‘financed by the people of the British Empire, if this maritime Empire of ours is able to maintain its communications.
– You will make sure of the men, and think of the money later.
– We will get the money. We have had sufficient money up to the present.
– Sufficient ?
– Surely the honorable senator does not say that our finance has failed?
– I do not say that.
– I do not think that it is going to fail. In the hands of men who are clear-headed, and have plenty of foresight, there is no fear of it failing, provided that we maintain those communications which are essential to the existence of this particularly maritime Empire.
– I admit that; but include the money with the men.
– If we have the men, and keep up our supply of ships, we shall have the money.
– I like your optimism.
– I ask for the observance of flexibility in connexion with the shipbuilding policy of the Administration. I venture to say that if they give to the matter careful consideration they will see the value of the arguments I have adduced.
There is another ‘matter which the Government had better take into consideration. I do not know that it was exactly blazoned on the National party’s programme at the last election, but) I do know that the Prime Minister, speaking in the largest building in Launceston, made a distinct promise that the Administration would bring in a Bill to provide for preferential voting for the House of Representatives, and for the principle of proportional representation in the Senate. I am a believer in proportional representation. I believe that the very scheme of parliamentary government which we have espoused implies that substantial minorities of the people should be represented as well as majorities. In some of the States of America, and in some of the Australian States, too, I understand, they go so far as to pay a salary to the Leader of the Opposition, implying that the representation of differences of opinion is necessary to the wellbeing of our parliamentary system of government.
– In Queensland, they pay the Leader of the Opposition an extra salary.
– In Tasmania, too, they pay the Leader of the Opposition a salary. I do not know the arguments which were used when the proposal was adopted in Tasmania as a financial practice, but the fact remains that the Leader of the Opposition there gets an allowance. I understand from Senator Maughan that the same thing is done in Queensland.
– Yes, for years past.
– And in Western Australia, too.
– I thank Senator Needham for the information, for I was not aware before that it was done in his State. Thus, in three Australian States we have an actual recognition of the principle that minorities, or, anyhow, differences of opinion should be represented in the Legislature. It is an anomalous principle which does not permit of substantial minorities being represented in the National Parliament. It may be faced with this contingency, that the whole of the Senate - that is, according to the provisions of the Electoral Act as it stands - may belong to a party of the same political colour. In the course of three or four years, every honorable senator may very easily belong to one political party.
– So long as it is the right party, what does it matter ?
– I am not talking about parties. I believe in the representation of other men’s opinions. If a very large section of the electors desire representation here, it should be forthcoming.
– Anyhow, it would be an anomaly if, in another place, there were two parties nearly equally divided.
– It would be a singular anomaly if two parties, in another place, were nearly equally divided, and the representation in the Senate belonged entirely to one party. Proportional representation would do away with such an unsatisfactory contingency. There would not be a chance of any such thing occurring.
The tide of political fortune ebbs and flows. In 1910, when the Liberal party was in the doldrums, the Labour party swept the Senate; it gained the whole of the eighteen seats here.
– There were thirtyone senators on the other side, and five senators on this side.
– Quite so.
– That was because the whole of the six States pronounced against one party.
– The aggregate majority was small, but it happened to be divided over the whole of the six States.
– The Senate does not represent people, but States.
– It represents the States, but the people, after all, constitute the States. A State as an entity embodies the idea of. human beings in their collective capacity. When we speak of a State being represented, we do not actually speak of its territory being represented, but of the people in that tract of territory being represented. So, after all, it is human beings and human opinions that have to be represented in this chamber.
I wish it to be understood that I am an advocate of the principle of preferential voting for the House of Representatives, and proportional representation in the Senate. I, moreover,- make this statement, that in Launceston the Prime Minister gave an implicit and clear-cut pledge that the National party would introduce a measure providing for those two principles. There will be a good deal of heartburning and recrimination if the Government enjoys three years of office and flouts the express promise of the Prime Minister. As I say, speaking without reference to the programme of the National party, I do not know whether the particular planks I have referred to were embodied in their policy, but I know that as the result of a written question put to Mr. Hughes by Mr. Goodluck, who waa an intending Senate candidate in Tasmania, Mr. Hughes told Mr. Goodluck and a vast assembly in the Albert Hall that he definitely committed himself and the National party to the introduction cf a measure which would provide for proportional representation in the Senate and the principle of preferential voting for the seats in the House of Representatives. That being so, I would urge the Administration to take the Prime Minister’s pledge into consideration, and bring forward such a measure as is undoubtedly desired by a very large number of the people in the Australian States, and. would secure an overwhelming majority of support in Tasmania.
I come now to a very contentious matter. Last year, on the 28th October, the people were asked to vote on the question of compulsory service for overseas duty. By a not very large majority they turned the principle down. I am very sorry - not because of the verdict, because the verdict of the people has to be respected - that we ever submitted such a question to the operation of the referendum. The referendum was not embodied in the Constitution to the extent of compelling a reference to the people, and with all due respect to the Parliament, I venture to say that it did not raise itself very greatly in the estimation of the best elements of the nation by shirking its legislative responsibilities in the matter. I am not going to cry over spilt milk, but it was asserted that the voluntary system was sufficient, and would meet all our needs. Whether it meets our needs or not, I am not in favour of the voluntary principle, which is inequitable and undemocratic. But it does not meet our needs, according to the standards set up by the Administration. I have heard it said that we were getting 5,000 recruits per month when 7,000 were required. We are not getting at the present time even 3,000 recruits per month.
– There has not been a month that we have not got more than 3,000 recruits.
– In December last we did not get 3,000.
– If the people of Australia are steadfast in their intention not to adopt any other principle than the voluntary one, their intention should be made more manifest than it was by the events of 28th October and 5th May. Democracies are proverbially unstable. I doubt if we would get exactly the same, electoral result if elections were held at three months’ intervals.
The fact remains that we have to face our responsibilities. I have spoken of the need of ships, and the need of” men. Those are the’ two vital elements of a win-the-war policy so far as this unit of the Empire is concerned. If the voluntary system does not afford us a sufficient number of recruits, what are we going to do ? A very serious question presents itself to the consideration of any Government or Legislature worthy of the name. We are at the present time, I suppose, the only Legislature looking after the affairs of a people vitally interested in the war that has refused to enact the principle of compulsory service for overseas duty. It has been enacted in New Zealand. Its necessity was so evident to the Government of the United States of
America that Congress enacted the principle in the very early days of their participation in the war, and compulsory service for overseas duty is in force in that country. Beyond all doubt* if the war continues, it will resolve itself, as was said some time ago, into a wax of endurance. We shall want all the men, all the money, and all the munitions we can find, and all the ships we can build. As a member of the State Recruiting Committee, I must confess that the situation fills me with pain. Whenever my parliamentary duties permit I attend Recruiting “Committee meetings. I also go with the recruiting officers and take the chair at recruiting meetings if need be. If I am holding a public meeting dealing with any other matter I always give a recruiting officer the opportunity of addressing the audiences; but I must say that the attendance at some of the meetings called by the recruiting officers is almost pathetic. I attended one some time ago, and there was a very numerous audience, but, alas, it was composed of women. There were only two men in it. It was pathetic to see the women rolling up to a meeting and doing all they could to incite the members of the sex who ought to be their natural protectors to go to the war. The recruiting officers delivered eloquent addresses, but they were appealing to an audience of women. In Queensland, methods have been adopted to secure recruits that I entirely deprecate. They have practically resorted to the method of “ tin-kettling.” We have heard how the boy scouts go in front of business places and beat the kettledrums, keeping up the row until somebody comes out and volunteers. What a pretty pass for the people of a Democratic country to be reduced to !
– I suppose they are winning the war, the same as the Government is.
– I am trying to explain to the Government the necessity of taking into serious consideration the fact that we are not getting 50 per cent, of the recruits they say are necessary to satisfactorily reinforce our men at the Front. That is a fact. Let the members of this Legislature mentally masticate it.
Are we going to sit down simply because America has come into the war? Do we forget that Russia is practically paralyzed by events of world-wide importance that have transpired within her borders? ‘ If ever the need existed for an Empire to put forward its whole strength, that need is ours to-day, because we still maintain the objective of securing a peace that will be entirely satisfactory to the people of our Empire, and the peoples allied to us. Can we do this if Australia, probably the most important unit of the King’s oversea Dominions, fails in its duty?
I speak in this .Senate representing a population that is more British than the people of the United Kingdom itself. I tell any Englishman, Scotchman, Irishman, or Welshman, that the Australian people, so far as their racial extraction and personal composition are concerned, are really more British than the people of any other Dominion of the Empire. In New Zealand, they have 40,000 or 50,000 Maoris, whom they will have to assimilate. In Canada, there are at least a couple of million French people. In South Africa, there are Dutch people. All these have to be assimilated, and therefore, the white populations of the Dominions I have referred to are not as entirely and purely British as the population of this Commonwealth. The white population of this great Empire of ours is not very numerous, after all. It is inferior in point of numbers to the population of Germany in Europe. We have in Australia 5,000,000 out of the 67,000,000 of white people in the British Empire, and there is on us at least one-twelfth of the responsibility, and even more, considering the composition of our population, of maintaining the prestige of our Empire unimpaired’. Let this sink into the minds of honorable senators, and let the Administration take the matter into consideration in the recess.
The time has arrived to ask the people to reconsider the decision they arrived at on 28th October last. We have been placed in a remarkable position by this referendum reference, because the Administration has promised that conscription will not be introduced unless the people reverse their decision. That pledge has to be maintained. We cannot go out to the people and win an election on a programme which contains pledges and planks which we do not intend to observe or enact. That is not the way to treat the people of a Democracy. The Administration has on its shoulders, seeing that it has a majority in both Chambers, a most onerous responsibility - the responsibility of being true to its pledges, and of helping to win the war.
– Which do. you want to win on. your platform, the election or the war ?
– The election has been won, and I want to see the platf orm on which we won it carried into legislative effect.
– You have won the election ; now win the war.
– To win the war, we must send more men. To send more men, we must adopt another system, and to adopt another system, we must gain the consent of the people. Therefore, the consent of the people should be asked for, and the time has arrived to ask for it.
– Your Administration having won the election, are now satisfied to let the war go hang.
– I should be sorry to make that kind of charge. The Administration may differ in opinion from me as to the time to take action, but I tell them that the time for action has arrived in the direction of the re-submission of the question to the people. If the question is re-submitted, and the people answer once more in the negative, I, for one, shall ever hold my peace on the matter. I am not a poor judge of public opinion. I did not anticipate the carrying of the referendum on 28th October, as I can produce many witnesses to prove, but I do anticipate that if the question is re-submitted to the people there will be such a sound majority in the affirmative as would justify us in placing the principle of compulsory service for overseas duty on the national statute-book. Therefore, I say to the Win-the-war Administration, which has my support, and which I believe will endeavour to carry out its pledges, that the time, beyond all doubt, has arrived for a re-submission of the question to the people, seeing that we are not securing 50 per cent, of the recruits deemed essential to reinforce our armies in the field.
I hope such methods as tin-kettling will be dropped. They are beneath the dignity of a civilized Democracy and of a people fighting for its national life. We want something better. If we are to come down to that level. God help the nation. Tt is. after all, poor business. It is possible for a nation to exhibit the greatest contrasts in this way. Our men when placed in the field may be the greatest heroes in the world, and yet the people behind them at home may be insignificant and unsatisfactory in character. There were nations of antiquity that exhibited very peculiar contrasts. For instance, the Aztecs were mathematicians, and calculated eclipses. They had a civilization of a very high order, and yet they were cannibals. We may have this singular national character: We may have arrived at such a pass that we can put in the field men who will fight like Homeric heroes and at the same time have a cowardly and unstable civilian population at home. I hope that is not the fact, and I do not believe it is. If we are to hold up our heads nationally amongst the Democracies of the world, we must reverse the decision of the 28th October, and beyond doubt it is the duty of this Win-the-war Administration to submit the question once more to the people, seeing that the present recruiting methods are so unsatisfactory in their results.
There is one other matter to which I might refer, but I do not think the time is altogether opportune. I suppose I shall be alive when other Supply Bills come up for consideration later on, a=nd I will then address myself to the consideration of a subject which I consider of vital importance to the people of the Commonwealth. I hope the Administration will give, consideration to the matters to which I have referred.
– One or two of the matters that have been mentioned during the debate seem to call for some statement from me.
Senator Thomas, in his interesting address this afternoon, mentioned a question which he had submitted to this Chamber, and to which, seeing that it was a civil question, he thought he was entitled to a civil answer. We all indorse that view, but I should like also to remark that when a question is submitted in a manner suggesting some underlying motive, the honorable senator should not be very much disturbed if the answer is not couched in the precise terms he desires. The question invited an expression of opinion, and no matter what the reply might have been, it is possible that Senator Thomas would not have been quite silent. The question as to who pays Customs duty is one which we have all heard discussed frequently, and if the Minister for Customs happened to be one of those individuals who think that the people of the country from which goods come pay the duty, and if Senator Thomas happened to be a Free Trader he would no doubt find fault with an answer setting forth that view. But if, on the other hand, the Minister expressed the opinion that the consumer paid the duty, and if Senator Thomas happened to be a Protectionist, then he would say it was merely a matter of opinion, and forthwith would probably proceed to argue the point. This is a debatable question, but I want Senator Thomas to understand that a Minister in this Chamber cannot be dissociated from an answer given by a colleague, although he may not be primarily responsible for it. I wish to assure him, however, that in submitting the answer I had no idea he would feel that there was anything wanting in courtesy to him.
Senators McDougall and Barnes raised the question of the discrepancy in the rates of pay to our soldiers and sailors. I am sure it will be satisfactory to those honorable senators to know that this was one of the first subjects to occupy the attention of the present Minister for the Navy (Mr. Cook), and that as a result the Naval Estimates before Parliament provide for an increase of between £50,000 and £60,000 for the purpose of levelling up the rates of pay hitherto paid to the seamen on our warships.
Senator O’Keefe made reference to the radio stations. I understand that the information which he desires is being obtained, but that it will be some little time before it will be available for him.
Senator Bakhap mentioned two matters, one of which was the motion passed in this Chamber having reference to the representation of Australia at Washington. I can assure him that that question is receiving consideration at the hands of the Government, not alone as affecting the appointment of a representative to Washington, but generally with regard to our future policy for extending our trade beyond our borders.
Senator Bakhap also said something about the Commonwealth shipbuilding scheme, and I can assure him that the Government is not sleeping on that mat ter. There are, however, one or two important preliminary steps to be taken, and I am pleased to be able to say that these are now well under way, so that it should soon be possible to start the industry in Australia. I do not know that there are any other matters to which I need refer at present.
– What about the capitation grant?
– I thought I had supplied the honorable senator with an answer to his question the other day.
– But you indicated last night that you would get further information concerning the interpretation of the law.
– I understood that the honorable senator’s statement last night was that the legal opinion which I had supplied was wrong.
– I did not say that. The matter has been ignored, so let it rest at that.
– But I did not wish to ignore it. It was unfortunate that the request was made at a late hour, and I may be pardoned if it was overlooked. However, I apologize to the honorable senator, and I can promise that I will try and get the information he desires.
Question resolved in the affirmative..
Bill read a first, time.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Issue and application of £3,487,200).
– I desire in this clause to supply some information which I promised Senator Pratten in my second reading speech with regard to the enlistment of single eligible men in Australia. I pointed out then that three out of four of all eligible single men had enlisted. The figures I now have show that the number of married and single men between the ages of eighteen and forty-four years who, up to 9th June, 1916, had not enlisted was 452,618. These figures are taken from the statement furnished by the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce). The enlistments since June, 1916, of married and single eligible men total 86,122, and if we deduct the latter figure from the number who had not enlisted on the 9th June, 1916, we get a total of available married and single eligibles in Australia of 366,496. If we assume - and this is an estimate which the Minister may correct or dispute as he thinks, but I think it is a fair estimate - that 80 per cent, of the men enlisting are single men, and 20 per cent, married men, we arrive at the conclusion that of the 86,122 of enlistments since June of last year, 70,000 represent single men. The Minister gave the figures of enlistment some time ago, and stated the total to 31st May, 1917, at 366,525, and from June to September this year at 14,800, making a total, according to the Minister’s figures, of 381,333 recruits. As I have already shown, the deduction of enlistments since June, 1916, totalling 86,122from the married and single eligibles who had not enlisted at 9th June, 1916, leaves an available total of married and single men of military age of 366,496, so that the married and single recruits enlisted represent 51 per cent of the eligible men of Australia.’ Let me also direct attention to the fact that when the proclamation was issued last October calling up the men, it was shown that there were 110,000 fit single men between the ages of twenty-one and thirty-five years who had not enlisted, and that since then 70,000 single men have enlisted. These figures bear out my contention, and I hope they will satisfy Senator Pratten and other honorable senators. These figures have been carefully collected, with no desire to win an argument, but in order that the facts may be put before the country. I have shown conclusively that there are 100,000 single eligible men left in Australia, whilst 300,000 single eligible men have enlisted. In other words, three-fourths of the single eligible men of the Commonwealth have enlisted.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 3 and 4 agreed to.
Secretary to the High Commissioner - Tungsten Metals : Commonwealth Agency-Income Taxation - Uniform Electoral Rolls - Commonwealth Steamships.
– In connexion with the High Commissioner’s Office, I should like to know whether, as the result of the retirement of Captain Collins, a successor has yet been appointed. There are rumours that a certain gentleman occupying a high position in the Public Service, has been appointed to the vacancy.
– No appointment has yet been made.
.- Will the Vice-President of the Executive Council be good enough to supply the Committee with the information sought by Senator Ferricks on Friday last in regard to tungsten metals?
– The following statement has been furnished me by the Department which deals with the several matters to which Senator Ferricks made reference : -
The prices fixed by the Imperial Government from 8th September, 1915, to 30th June, 1917, for the minerals in question, delivered ci.f. London, were as follow: -
Molybdenite, 105s. per unit of MoS2 (molybdenum sulphide).
Wolfram and scheelite, 55s. per unit of WO (tungsten trioxide).
The producers were paid forthe period in question on this basis. As the price was ci.f. London, the cost of getting the minerals from the field to London had to be deducted. In order to protect the producer, these charges were fixed, and it was specified in the agreement with Dalgety and Company that the price payable to producers at various centres in the Commonwealth should not be less than the c.i.f. price London, less the actual cost of handling it and getting it there.’
For instance, take wolfram from Wolfram Camp (Queensland) to London, the following charges were deducted: -
Local agents’ allowance; cartage to rail; railage and forwarding to Cairns; freight; wharfage and forwarding to Sydney; sampling, weighing, and assaying; bags; collecting agents’ commission; exchange between field and Sydney; insurance, CairnsSydney. Cartage to and from store; sampling; weighing; assaying; reconditioning; bags; exchange; London insurance f.p.a., and loss in weight; war insurance; freight and surtax; interest, export agents’ commission.
The charges between Wolfram Camp and London amountedto 9s.10d. per unit, and the producer was paid the London price, minus these charges.
Of the charges, Dalgety received only l1/4 per cent, export agency commission, except in cases where they acted as collecting agents, where they received an additional11/4 per cent. All the other charges were paid by Dalgety and Company Limited, and it actually cost more than the specified amounts to land the minerals at London. The actual cost was greater than the amount allowed for same in the agreement.
Senator Ferricks has taken his facts from an unauthoritative source (Randolph Bedford’s newspaper articles).
The, actual facts are set out in the report by Mr. Higgins, published as a parliamentary paper, in which the statements now made by Senator Ferricks were inquired into by an audit inspector, and found to be not in accordance with fact.
The Commonwealth Government is aware of , the necessity of ample supplies of these minerals, and, as a result of representations made by it, the price of the minerals has been raised as follows:-
Molybdenite, 100s. per unit, payable at producing centres.
Wolfram and scheelite, 50s. per unit, payable at producing centres.
Since 1st July, this year, and until the end of the war, these prices have been, and will be, paid, and the Imperial Government is paying the cost of getting the wolfram, &c, from the field to London. The statements regarding Dalgety’s charges are, therefore, rather belated, as the producer has been paid for the past three months the price fixed by the Imperial Government, without any deductions, This price is the price fixed throughout the Empire, so all producers throughout the Empire are on the same footing as to price.
As to the appointment of the Queensland Government as agents by the Ministry of Munitions, the Commonwealth Government has been acting as agents for the Imperial Government for over two years, and it is inconceivable that any such arrangements would be made without consulting the Commonwealth Government.
The whole question of appointing agents for the Commonwealth Government is under consideration, and the Prime Minister hopes to be able to make an announcement as to the Government’s intentions alt an early date.
.- On behalf of Senator Ferricks, I merely wish to say that, in regard to his quotation from articles by Mr. Bedford, whom Senator Millen says is an unreliable authority-
– I said that his articles were unauthoritative.
– The only quotation which Senator Ferricks made from Mr.. Bedford’s articles was a statement that in Cornwall 350 mines produce 8 cwt. of wolfram in a week.
– I did not say that Senator Ferricks quoted Mr. Bedford, but that he had obtained his facts from the newspaper articles of that gentleman.
- Senator Ferricks says that the only quotation he made from those articles–
– I am not dealing with quotations.
- Senator Ferricks says that he made the statement, and quoted from memory certain figures in regard to metals. He has since compared these figures with the actual figures, has found that they are correct and he, adheres to them.
– Seeing that all the States are likely to be increasing their direct taxation, I desire to know what steps are being taken to secure a uniform taxation schedule both for the States and the Commonwealth? It. is a matter of serious concern to persons who are carrying on businesses in all the States of the Commonwealth to find that they have six different State returns to furnish, and an additional one for the Commonwealth.
. Senator Fairbairn, I think, brought this matter up a few days ago.
– It has been mentioned here before.
– Oh, yes, I do not wish it to be thought that I am accusing Senator Grant of originality. Senator Fairbairn brought the matter up a few days ago, and I undertook to obtain an answer to the question he submitted. I am informed that the report of the resolutions and proceedings of the recent conference of Commonwealth and State taxation officers is being withheld from publication until the consent of the State Premiers is obtained. Efforts are now being made to secure that consent, and then there will be no difficulty in making the report of the conference available.
– So far as the commercial community of Australia is concerned its desire has been very well voiced by Senator Grant. It will not be satisfied with any report that may be made by taxation officers. My own view is that in the not distant future steps should be taken to synchronize and standardize income taxation throughout Australia. I trust that the Government will give this matter their early attention, so that those taxpayers who will have to supply the greater part of the money that is required to finance the war, and that will be needed to meet our obligations when peace has been restored, may not be subjected to the complications and the varying decisions to which they are subjected now.
– Some time ago I asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories a question regarding the preparation of uniform Commonwealth and State electoral rolls. The time that is at present wasted, both by the electors and by the large number of officers who are employed by the State and Commonwealth Electoral Departments, is a question which ought -to engage the attention of the Government. Have any practical steps been taken with a view to securing uniform rolls for both the State and Federal elections 1 ,
– In answer to Senator Grant’s inquiry, I may say that some time ago a conference of electoral officers, representing both the States and the Commonwealth, was held, a uniform qualification was agreed to, and practically a uniform Bill was adopted. That Bill is now in the possession of ‘the Government of each State of the Com. monwealth. It now awaits legislative effect being given to it both by the States and the Commonwealth.
– I should like to receive some information as to the whereabouts of the Commonwealth fleet of steamers. I lave never seen any of these vessels, and I desire to know where and how they are being employed.
– I regret that Senator Grant has not yet had an opportunity of seeing the Commonwealth fleet of steamers, because I am; sure that he would be proud of it. The vessels comprising the fleet are principally en- gaged in carrying wheat overseas, and on the return voyage to Australia they bring back those articles which are most necessary to our development. With the exception of one occasion, when they carried a cargo of copper, which was required by munition makers in the Old Country, they have been chiefly employed in carrying wheat. They have also been as big a financial success as has any fleet < Qf vessels that has traded to Australia.
Schedule agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without request; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Sonata adjourned at 6.35 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 26 September 1917, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1917/19170926_senate_7_83/>.