7th Parliament · 2nd Session
ThePresident (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– Has the at tention of the representative of the Government been drawn to statements by Mr. Austin Chapman and SirWilliam Irvine which suggest a method by which party differences may be settled, and bickering prevented, and a strong War Government formed; and will he consult the Cabinet with a view of calling together all sections of the Parliament in order that such a Government may be formed ?
-I have not the slightest doubt that the statements referred to will be considered by Ministers, but I shall deem it my duty to bring under the notice of my colleagues the remarks made by the honorable senator yesterday, which seem to preclude the possibility of any such coalition as he suggests.
– Will the honorable Minister make available to senators the communication received from the War Council in Great Britain as to the number of reinforcements required?
– I am under the impression that the figures have been published, but I shall bring the question under the notice of the Minister for Defence.
– Yesterday I received a comprehensive reply to a question concerning the staff of the Repatriation Department. I now ask whether the list of names that was read comprises the whole staff, or are there other persons employed for full or part time?
– I am under the impression that the list includes the names of all the persons employed in the Department on the date on which it was compiled, which was a day or two ago. There may have been one or two appointments to modest positions since then, but I do not think so.
– Have the representations which I made some time ago concerning the arrest and imprisonment of an Australian citizen by the Government of New Zealand for refusal to comply with local military regulations been cabled to the Dominion, and, if so, what reply has been received?
– As I promised, I forwarded the representations of the honorable senator to the Prime Minister’s Department, requesting that they might be brought under the notice of the Government of New Zealand, and that that Government might be invited to furnish such reply as it might deem fit.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Has the Government considered the resolution of the Senate in regard to the German colonies captured by Australian troops; and, if so, what is its attitude in regard to the matter ?
– The resolution of the Senate has been noted, and will be dealt with in the statement of Government policy to be. made on the resumption of Parliament.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Has the Government taken into consideration the resolution of the Senate in regard to the representation of Australian interests at Washington, U.S.A.; and, if so, what is its intention in regard to the matter?
– The answer to the previous question equally applies to this one.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs -
– The information is being obtained.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers are -
– A paragraph appeared in the daily press a month or two ago to the effect that, should parcels for soldiers in England contain sugar, they would probably be confiscated, as the sending of sugar was prohibited. That statement was made by Colonel Oldershaw, and I ask the Minister whether it was correct.
– Will the honorable senator give notice?
– I give notice for to-morrow.
– The time for giving notice has passed.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Land Values Taxation - Finance: War Expenditure : Compulsory Levy on Wealth : Interest on War Loans : War Profits Tax : Repatriation - Administration of Public Departments : Co-operation of Business Men - Amalgamation of Commonwealth and State Taxation and Electoral Machinery - Maternity Allowance - Defence Department : Administration: Stores Discrepancy - Motion for Expenditure - National Party : Caucus Rule - Ministerial Pledges - The Governor-General : Exercise of Powers - Reinforcements Referendum: Senator Ferricks’ Vote : Disfranchisement of Citizens : Queensland Prosecutions and Internment of Mr. Schache : Party and Sectarian LiteratureTreatment of Returned Soldiers - Soldiers’ Pay-Increased Cost of Living - “ Liberty “ Loan Subscriptions - Commonwealth Police Force - The Prime Minister: Attacks on: Militarism: Paris Economic Conference : Senator Earle’s Speech - War Policy of Labour Party - The Minister for Defence and Militarism - Northern Territory Administration : Land Settlement : State Hotels :
White Australia Policy - Adjournments of Parliament - Conduct of the War: Voluntarism and Conscription : Contribution of Canada and Australia : Freight and Foodstuffs : Shipbuilding - Russian Revolution and Peace Terms - Shipbuilding in Japan - National Party and Industrial Disturbances - German Writers on Australia and Australians - The War and National Development: Minerals.
Debate resumed from 22nd January (vide page 3350), on motion by Senator Millen -
That this Bill be now read a first time.
– As an indication of the importance of the question of land values taxation - which has been repeatedly mentioned in this chamber, I should like to quote a statement by Senator McDougall, when speaking on the Address-in-Reply, in 1910, as follows -
I now come, Mr. President, to the proposal to impose a tax upon the unimproved value of land. This may be regarded as the main question on which the appeal was made to the people. I think, Sir, that the one question which stood out above all others was the determination of the public to break up land monopoly, and I feel sure that we are on the eve of a new era here, when those who want land will be able to get it; when that doginthemanger policy, which has characterized many of our large land-holders, and that policy of spoliation of the people by the taking of unearned increment, will be done away with. It is by these means, and these means alone, that an effective policy of immigration can be carried out.
I desire briefly to point out that what has been done in Australia since then has been quite ineffective as a measure of reform. It was the main question then, and it is the main question to-day. Before detailing what has been done in Australia by the municipalities, State Governments, and the Commonwealth, I want to quote from a small pamphlet published by the United Committee for the Taxation of Land Values, 11 Tothill-street, London, S.W., to show that this question concerns not only Australia, but. Great Britain, and, indeed, the entire universe. The pamphlet refers to native labour problems in British East Africa, and contains extracts from the evidence and report taken by the East African Protectorate Native
Labour Commission of 1912-13, as follows -
British Bast Africa has been discovered to be a white man’s country. It has an area of 189,838 square miles, and a population of 4,000,000, of which some 3,200 are Europeans. It lias a Labour problem - the exact opposite to our own. With them it is never a question of finding jobs for men, but always of finding men for jobs.
White men interested in the development of the country recognised that nothing was possible without a plentiful supply of labour. They were concerned about what they were pleased to call the laziness of the nigger, and in order to discover some satisfactory solution of the problem, the Commission was appointed on the suggestion of the Land Holders Association to inquire into the’ reasons for the shortage of labour. Honorable senators might be interested to know what Lord Delamere, the owner of 150,000 acres, had to say on this question.. I might add, in passing, that Lord Delamere never had any intention of doing work of any kind, in the= way of production, himself. Evidently he does not believe in interfering with another man’s job. There are some Lord Delameres in Australia, too, although they are not known by that name. This is what he had to say - ;
If the policy was to be continued that every native was to be a land-holder of a sufficient area on which to establish himself, then the question of obtaining a satisfactory labour supply would never be settled.
Lord Delamere realized that if men were given the right to produce for “themselves, naturally it would be difficult to get them to work for the Lord Delameres the Fairbairns, and people of that type, who must then either shift for themselves or starve. Lord Delamere stated further -
He considered the soundest policy would be to curtail the reserves, and although it might take a few years before the effect on the labour SUPply was apparent, the results would be permanent. In other words, so long as the native has free access to land he is under no obligation to work for another for wages, and cannot be compelled to do so; deprive him of that access, and “ the results would be permanent.”
It appears that Lord Delamere quite understands the question. He realizes that the only way to force the niggers to work for land-holders in East Africa is to divorce them from their own country, because so long as the natives have free access to the land they are not under any obligation to work for other men. Mr. T. Howitt, another witness, and a landowner, who gave evidence, said -
He did not favour the idea of natives being taught better methods of agriculture in the reserves, on the grounds that, if they were taught to work on the reserves, the tendency would be for them not to come out at all.
I do not wonder at that. Why should they have to work for such men as Lord Delamere? Who is he that the niggers should be compelled to work for him If they can find their own “ tucker “ in the bush, and provide for themselves in that manner ? Why should not Lord Delamere find his own “ tucker “ ?
– Are you advocating that we should all go back to the bush to live?
– I do not wish to quote the whole of the evidence, so I will content myself with the conclusion arrived at by the Commission -
The reasons for the shortage of labour we considered from the evidence to be the following:
The wealth of certain tribes arising from the large quantity of land at their disposal, the natural -fertility of their reserves, the possession of large quantities of stock, and the profits of trade. It is clearly recognised that there are . practically no natives who need to work for wages in order to live.
That is the condition of the affairs in East Africa. The white men obtained possession of the land, but instead of working it honestly for their sustenance, desired that the niggers should be compelled to work for them for a mere pittance, so that the Lord Delameres, the Fairbairns, and others, may be kept in affluence. The sooner the people of Australia realize that land monopoly is at the bottom of all our troubles the better for all of us. It is said by some that a tax on land values can be passed on. Lord Delamere and other large land-owners do not share that view. They think that the tax cannot be passed on and that land-owners themselves must bear it. That is why it is so easy to secure the imposition of Customs and Excise duties and all other indirect taxation as compared with the imposition of a land values tax. Dealing with this question, the editor of the Standard, Mr. A. G.
Huie, who is an authority on the subject, writes -
We would invite attention to the following points: -
Will a tax on all unimproved values increase the selling price of land?
Of course it will not.
If it can be passed on, clearly it must add to the price of land. Ask any owner of land waiting for a buyer whether the certain knowledge that the buyer will have to pay a tax will incourage him (the buyer) to pay the exorbitant price the seller wants.
Senator Shannon says, “ Hear, hear !”
-Well, it looks like it.
– Land-owners certainly know how to look after themselves. Such men are prepared to support the imposition of Customs duties, income tax, war-time profits taxation, a tax that will fall on widows who visit picture shows; and, in short, any taxation except a land values tax. They know that while they hold the land values they are in a position to compel the rest of the community to remain, in effect, their industrial slaves. The article continues -
That summarizes in a fairly effective manner the fact that a tax upon land values cannot be passed on, and hence the objection of large and small land-owners alike to such an impost.
What might fairly be described, in colloquial language, as the “dizzy limit” has been reached on the Western Front, according to the following quotation from the Standard -
Land Owning on the Battle Front.
Our contemporary Progress has the following in its December issue: - “Mr. Holman, Premier of New South Wales, has lately returned from visiting the soldiers in the firing line in France and Belgium, and has been giving his experiences and impressions. Commenting on these, the Sydney Bulletin of 8th November says: - “‘War isa queer business; but the queerest aspect of it came under Mr. Holman’s notice in the payment of rent for the ground where Billjim has his little dug-out. “ ‘ The Belgian and French farmers and landowners, instead of going to their own Governments and making claims, which would be settled with the British Government, personally came to ‘the British adjutants, or other officers on the ground, and begin to haggle about the trench rents and rent for other occupied territory. So Australia pays its share to the British Government. The Belgian and French peasants are sometimes grasping, and show themselves in the worst lights. “ ‘ Holman found a few things that made him wonder whether the organizing genius he had heard about wasn’t a myth; but he reckons this method of settling the rent payable for a battlefield is well able to hold its own for foolishness.’ “
– That sort of stuff is fit only for publication in a single-tax newspaper.
– Is it not a fact that our soldiers occupying the trenches in Flanders have to pay rent to the local land-owners? The paragraph continues -
Should any of our readers - we send a few copies to the Front - be able to throw additional light upon this matter we would be glad to hear from them.
We hear a good deal concerning grasping land-owners in Australia and elsewhere, but when Belgian and French peasants compel Australian taxpayers to pay rentals for the dugouts and trenches occupied byour soldiers, I think they reach the limit.
– It is a ridiculous statement.
– This is a statement made partly on the authority of Mr. Holman, Premier of New South Wales. 1 have not been to the Front, and am unable to say whether it is correct or not, but I should not be surprised in the slightest degree to learn that it is correct.
– Supposing you owned Mouquet Farm, that was fought for and won by the Australians at the Front, how would you feel ?
– If I followed the example of the landlords of Australia or
Great Britain, or even of the landlords of Ireland, I .would collect the very last farthing of rent.
– But what would you, as John Grant, do?
– When you find rae a hig landlord, with thousands of tenants, ask me the question.
I now wish to place on record a small table which I have had prepared from information contained in the war census returns and in the Finance Bulletin, No. 10. It is as follows: -
This return shows that notwithstanding the importance attached to this question by Senator McDougall and others some 10 years ago or more, and notwithstanding all the efforts put forth since that time, all the revenue derived from land taxation by the . various States for their national purposes, amounts to only £887,000 odd, and the revenue derived by the Commonwealth on a valuation of £450,000,000, to only £2,000,000. In view of the fact that our war expenditure to the end of June this year will exceed £214,000,000, and that the interest on that amount will be over £8,000,000 per annum, the time is. opportune for the Government to review its financial policy and bring down a proposal that will largely remove the taxation from those who are now paying it and put it on the shoulders of others who are well able to bear the burden. It is absolutely unfair that any Government should allow the land-owners of- the Commonwealth to escape with the payment of a paltry sum of £2,000,000 per annum while thousands are sacrificing not only their prospects, but their lives, and others are prepared to do the same.
– Have you included also the unsold land of the Commonwealth in your estimate?
– No ; I have included only lands that are alienated or in process of alienation.
– How can you expect to convert the Senate when you cannot convert the Political Labour Council ?
– He did convert them one day !
– If I can succeed in converting the Senate for just one day, and in getting a measure put through, I shall be .fairly satisfied for the time being.
– You would not vote for anything less than a £5,000 exemption ?
– I am not dealing with that point at the present moment, though I may do so if I have time.
I should like to show how difficult it is to interfere successfully in the slightest possible way with land monopoly. It will be remembered by Senator Thomas, and probably by Senator Millen, that when an effort was made in New South Wales to impose a nominal land tax of one penny in the pound,’ it involved the fate of the State . Ministry. The then Prime Minister, Sir George Reid, had to appeal to the country; and when he was returned, backed by the Labour party, he did impose land taxation to that extent.
– With an exemption ?
– Yes, an exemption of £240; no exemption of £5,000 was mentioned at that time. It remained for those who have since left the Labour party to engineer a £5,000 exemption, so as to make ib more costly and difficult for the poor man to obtain a piece of land.
– Are you speaking for the party?
– Senator Grant is speaking for himself, and not for the party.
– Senator Grant had better reconsider his whole position.
– As there seems a real desire on the part of honorable senators to know something about the £5,000 exemption, I should like to quote some remarks of Senator Pearce, when he was a member of the Labour party, at the Commonwealth Trades Union Congress held in Sydney in November, 1902. Senator Pearce, on that occasion, moved -
That this congress, recognising the justice of land values taxation, recommends that action be taken to secure uniform taxation on that basis in every State.
In submitting that motion Senator Pearce said that there were large tracts of land in one of the richest districts of Australia held by two or three people. The motion was seconded by Mr. Riley, the present member for South Sydney, and supported by Mr. W. T. McGrath, of Victoria, the latter of whom said that by imposing taxation on land values something might be done towards bringing back to the people some of the wealth which had gone into the pockets of the few. That motion was carried. Then at the conference of the Labour party held in Melbourne in 1905 Senator Pearce again moved -
That an unimproved land values tax without exemption be a plank of the Federal fighting platform.
It. was to be a plank, not of the ordinary platform, but of the fighting platform. Senator Pearce said -
He believed that feeling was growing in this direction even with the farmers. This question was at the root of the social system. They should not merely he satisfied with Factory Acts and Arbitration Acts, but should do something that would find work for the unemployed. A great demand for labour would be created by the unlocking of lands which would follow.
Mr. Frazer seconded the resolution.
Mr. Grant was strongly in favour of the proposal, and believed in the system as above all others for raising revenue.
Mr. O’Malley, M.H.R., would favour the resolution if the words “without exemption” were knocked out. They did not want to touch the little bantams; it was the big gilded roosters of the brahmapootra order they wished to get at.
It is recognised by all Labour men that the effect of imposing a tax on big estates is to reduce their selling value. Even Senator O’Keefe recognises that. When there is a £5,000 exemption the poor man who seeks to buy a piece of land is compelled to pay the big owner the monopoly value of it;the owner is not prepared to give to the small man the concession he gives to the big man.
– An estate worth £5,000 is not big.
– I think it is mighty big. All Senator O’Keefe’s friends may be persons who own £5,000 worth of land, but I am certain most of my friends do not own £500 worth, and many of them own no land at all. A return supplied to the Senate some time ago showed that nearly 4,000,000 people, mostly nativeborn Australians, do not own any land, and that 718,000 people own almost the whole continent. Yet Senator Gardiner speaks of “ this lovely Australia of ours.” Of whom? Of the 718,000 who own it.
– The 4,000,000 people who own no portion include infants.
– And there are a good number of infants among the 718,000 who own allthe land. Can we expect men to sacrifice their time and abilities to defend the Commonwealth for those owners who charge exorbitant rents, and sometimes evict thefamilies of soldiers who are fighting at the Front? This is what Mr. J. C. Watson said -
The members of the conference in the rush of enthusiasm were prepared to pile handicaps on the party. At the present time they had a big fight to carry on in the cry of Socialism versus anti-Socialism, and that would require all their energies. They had their socialistic objective to aim for, and whilst he was glad to be one to bear the burden of the fight, he trusted that the burden would not be too heavily increased at this juncture by such proposals.
At that time he was opposed to the elimination of the £5,000 exemption; he was in the same boat as Senator O’Keefe. Since then he has abandoned the idea of allowing a £5,000 exemption, and to-day stands for a straight out land tax with no exemption at all. Senator O’Keefe, speaking at the same conference, said - None of the States seemed to make a proper effort to break up the big estates, and he supported the proposal.
– Absolutely wrong.
– To-day the honorable senator says that a man who advocates that policy should not be a member of the Labour party.
– No matter from what publication you are quoting, I say that I have never supported a land tax on unimproved values without exemptions.
– I attended that conference, which was held in the Melbourne Trades Hall. Senator O’Keefe also was there. The Western Australian delegates were pledged almost to a man to support this proposal, and, according to this report, Senator O’Keefe shared their views. The report has been in the hands of most Labour men for a number of years, and the honorable senator h’as never previously thought fit to contradict it.
– I should like to see that report.
– It is the official report reprinted by the Brisbane Worker. I have no doubt that it is correct, for Senator O’Keefe at that time was a man who understood the question; he knew the truth, and was prepared to state it. Since that date he has changed his attitude, and to-day favours a proposal which makes it almost impossible for a poor man to obtain a block of land.
– When the honorable senator stood for election last time did he not sign a pledge which included a land tax with a £5,000 exemption?
– I signed the ordinary pledge, but there is nothing in it about a £5,000 exemption. At any rate, Senator O’Keefe, who had the impertinence to say a few minutes ago that any one who believes in a land tax with no exemptions should not be in the Labour party, proclaimed to the world at the Melbourne conference that he was in favour of having no exemption.
– What I say is that any person who signed the pledge of the party, and did not agree to it, should not be in the party.
– Surely the honorable senator does not think that every man in the party believes in every bit of the platform. We all know that that platform is a compromise on the part of those who are anxious to see something done/ Some people would leave the party if a proposal which they brought forward at .a Labour conference was defeated. That is not my way of looking at things. I accepted my defeat, and will vote with the majority of the party. Mr. Carpenter seconded the amendment moved by Mr. King O’Malley that “ the words without exemption ‘ be omitted.” After further discussion, Mr. Lamond moved a further amendment, “ that a progressive land tax be agreed to,” and his suggestion wa3 adopted. In the opinion of Mr. Lamond, Mr. O’Malley, and others, but not of Senator O’Keefe, it was a good thing to have a heavy land values taxation on large estates in order to make them cheap, and more easily accessible to purchasers; but when, they came to deal with small estates, those under £5,000 in value, it was of no importance to them whether they were” made cheaper or not.
– It would be very interesting if the honorable senator told us what happened at the 1916 conference.
– A return which was furnished to the Senate on the 14th June, 1917, supplied the following information showing how the freehold lands of the Commonwealth were held -
It must surely be evident, even to Senator Thomas, who is so anxious to know what happened at the last conference, that the effect of having an exemption up to £5,000 is that it is more costly to purchase small blocks of land from the big monopolists.- It is for this reason that I have in season, and sometimes out of season, supported the proposal that there should be no exemption. The matter of the £5,000 exemption was again discussed at considerable length at the Brisbane conference.
– That is the thing which is interesting to the Senate. We want to know where we stand.
– At one time, Senator Thomas stood with ‘the Labour party. To-day, he stands with the party which is determined to get, and does get, the bulk of its revenue from the Customs, a source of revenue to which he is entirely opposed. He supports the party which lets the land-owners of the Commonwealth off with a paltry contribution of £2,000,000, while it extracts from the workers, through the Customs and other indirect sources of taxation, no less than £16,000,000 per annum.
– If I joined the Labour party, I would have to sign a pledge to adhere to a platform which agrees to a £5,000 exemption.
– The honorable senator can support me when I move for the elimination of that exemption.
– When you do.
– I never miss the opportunity.
– You are not game to do it.
-At the Brisbane conference, in1908, I moved, “ That the details of the Federal graduated land tax be the same as the New South Wales State graduated land tax.” I said that I was personally against the graduated or the exemption idea, or anything in the nature of a mortgage clause. I pointed out that, in New South Wales, under the Local Government Act, big and little estates paid proportionately on the same basis, and no difficulty had been experienced. Mr. J. C. Watson had said that the progressive land tax was not primarily for revenue, but was intended for the bursting up of large estates. People held different ideas as to the object of the Federal land tax. Some people wanted it for the purpose of bursting up large estates; others wanted it for revenue purposes.; I wanted it for both purposes. At the Brisbane conference, Mr. Foster seconded my motion. He said that my suggestion that the Federal Labour party wished to raise the bulk of the revenue through the Customs House was utterly incorrect, for during the passage of the Tariff, the Labour party had knocked out purely revenue duties whenever it was possible. Yet we find that the same old source of revenue continues to produce over £13,000,000 per annum. Mr. Watson advocated leaving the plank the same; others took the same view. Finally Senator Lynch moved an amendment, “ That the conference favours a progressive land tax with an exemption of £5,000.” He pointed out that the rate could afterwards be determined, and asked that the principle be affirmed. Mr. Batchelor seconded the amendment, which was carried with but one dissentient. I have no doubt that I was the one dissen tient. So even at that conference, it was quite correct, just as it was at the Melbourne conference, which was attended by Senator O’Keefe, for me to vote in favour of having no exemption. Let me inform honorable senators now of what took place at the 1912 Conference, held at Hobart. Mr. McDonald formally moved a resolution from the Brisbane South Workers Political organization supporting the maintenance of the existing taxation on unimproved land values. Mr. Fisher seconded the motion, and then Senator Givens moved an amendment -
That the existing land taxation he amended so as to provide that the graduation shall not apply to different portions of the values of large estates.
His idea at the time was that, for instance, in the case of an estate worth £65,000, the graduations should apply, not from £5,001 upwards, but over the whole value of the estate. He said -
He desired the tax to apply to the whole of the land that was taxable. Whilst believing in a graduated land tax, he did not believe in the graduations applying to particular estates. He quoted the case of an estate valued at £65,000, in which the owner escaped on the first portion of the value, and only paid the tax on the last portion. He wished the land-owner to pay the tax on the whole taxable value of the estate. In the case of a £65,000 estate, the sum of £60,000 was left as the taxable value, and this, at the rate of 3d. per £1, produced a tax of £750, whereas under his proposal the estate would be taxed on its whole value at the higher rate of 4d. in the £1, and would thus have to pay a total tax of £1,000. Then, again, an estate valued at £35,000 would be taxed at the present rate of 2d. per £1, whereas under his proposition, which was the original proposal of the Labour party, such an estate would have to pay at the rate of 3d. in the £1, and would thus yield a total tax of £375, instead of £250 as at present.
Senator Givens appeared to have a glimmer of intelligence at that time, because he said -
The taxation of the land was the most equitable method of raising revenue for the Commonwealth, but the main object in imposing the Federal land tax was to burst up the big estates. He held that the estates which had hindered closer settlement were those which were valued at from £30,000 to £40,000, and were situated in or near the settled districts. Closer settlement was not hindered by the bigger estates, valued up to £100,000 or so, and which were situated way back. It was absolutely necessary that theformer class of estates should be burst up in order to facilitate the development of the country. The landlords at present could afford to pay the tax and laugh. He held that the tax should be effective in its operations.
Mr. Cornell, from Western Australia, at the same Conference, moved -
That in the opinion of the Conference the exemption clauses in the existing Federal Land Tax Act should be deleted, and the Act amended in the direction of levying a tax on the unimproved value of all land.
Here was another. Labour man moving at a Labour Conference to abolish the £5,000 exemption, and secure the imposition of taxation upon the land values of the Commonwealth. Senator Givens temporarily withdrew his amendment to enable the Conference to discuss Mr. Cornell’s proposal. Mr. Cornell said -
He had been sent there with definite instructions in regard to this matter. In Western Australia the organization which had sent this resolution along had advocated, in season and out of season, a land tax without exemption. They were pledged to it. Over there they <fid not look on the land tax from the point of view of expediency, but as a matter of justice, and they held that there should be no exemptions. All that gave a value to the land was the community, and he hoped that the Conference would agree that the unimproved value of land should be used in the interests of the community that created it, by placing it in the revenue of the country. It might be said that the small land-holder would be hit hard by such a land tax.
Of course, that is an entirely erroneous idea, because if it were true that the small land-owner would be hit heavily by a land tax, it is equally true that the 4,000,000 of our population who own no land would not be hit at all. Mr. Cornell went on to say - lt might be said that the small land-holder would be hit hard by such a land tax, but he contended that it would be the large holder who would be hit by it. Every laborite should have in front of him the ultimate taxing of the whole of the taxable value of the land. He knew that the motion would not be carried, but he asked that a division be taken on it.
I do not wish to weary the Senate by quoting at length from this very interesting report of the Conference, but the result of the discussion was that ultimately the amendment moved by Senator Givens that the graduation should not be applied to the various values of the same estate was carried, and remains a part of the platform of the Official Labour party to-day. It was an advance upon anything that had hitherto been adopted, but it still leaves entirely free from taxation all land values in the Commonwealth in estates of a less value than £5,000, and this involves, in the aggregate, a valuation of no less than £275,000,000- which at present is entirely exempt from Commonwealth taxation.
– The honorable senator overlooks the fact that the States collect land tax on that.
– I do not overlook it at all. Earlier in my remarks I mentioned the fact that, on a total land value of £445,000,000, the various States collected taxation annually to the amount of only £887,000. That is a mere insignificant, inconsequential amount, scarcely worth mentioning.
– And you do not pay any of it.
– Indeed I do.
– Are you a land-owner ?
– I should think I am.
– The honorable senator said just now that the motion moved by Senator Givens was carried. I do not think he is quoting correctly. My recollection is that it was defeated.-
– I thank Senator Russell for the correction.
– The honorable senator ought to be more careful. Think how dangerous it looks in Hansard.
– I am obliged to the honorable senator. I was thinking more of what occurred at the conference held in Adelaide in 1915, from the report of” which I now propose to quote. Mr. Jackson, a prominent Labour man of South’ Australia, moved -
That the exemption under the Federal Land Tax be abolished.
He said -
The values given to land by community enterprise either belonged to the people or it did not. If it did, Governments should get the benefit of such revenue. The Federal land tax had not broken up large estates into small areas to the extent which had been hoped for when it was put forward. Estates of £100,000 might have been brought down to £70,000 and £50,000, but this did not mean that the land had been put to its ‘best productive uses. With a proper land tax in operation, many men now unemployed would be enabled to get land and bring it into use. If the motion were carried no evil results need be feared.
Mr. Arthur Rae, a prominent Labour man of New South Wales, observed -
There never was a time more opportune, or likely to occur again, than the present one in which to abolish the Federal land tax exemption. It had been thought at the time that this £5,000 exemption was made in the Federal platform it would give an opportunity to the States to exercise their taxation powers up to that amount, but the States had not fully done so. Whilst the Federal land tax had done something towards reducing very large estates, the number of large estates was now far too great. All sorts of inducements were held out for the bogus partition of estates so as to evade the tax, and that should not be allowed. The present war necessitated large additions to the revenue, and a tax without exemption would fall equally on all, and he believed in all landowners contributing in proporion to the benefits they enjoyed.
The remarks of Senator O’Keefe, of Tasmania, on the motion were: - .,
They had to look to the different kinds of lands and the varying climatic conditions. It might, to meet that, bc necessary to have different forms of taxes, according to the States, but he was against a no-exemption tax applying throughout Australia as a whole. Besides, the States needed all the revenue they could get at present, and it would not do for this source of revenue to be taken from them.
The honorable senator there suggested that, because the Commonwealth taxes land, that source of revenue is thereby removed from the operations of the States. Why, at the present time in some cases water and sewerage rates, loan rates, general municipal rates, State land tax, and Federal land tax are imposed upon the same land, and in certain instances two Federal land taxes are imposed. Mr. Sumner, of Queensland, said : -
The amount of unimproved land values under £5,000 might very well be left to the States. If the Federal Government took the exemption portion away from the States, he thought they might just as well take the lot, seeing how it would cut inon revenue raised by local bodies. The remedy, he considered, would be to increase the tax, but not to take away the exemption.
Mr. Lamond moved as an amendment a motion submitted by the Townsville (Queensland) branch of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers -
That the exemption under the Federal land tax be reduced to £500.
That is a great drop from £5,000, but it was regarded as quite correct on the part of Mr. Lamond at that time to move it. In doing so he remarked: -
The land values of Sydney to-day were colossal.
He might well say that the land values of Sydney were colossal. They amount to-day to between £35,000,000 and £50,000,000, yet we are told by some people that any estate which does nob exceed £5,000 in value should not be called upon to pay anything towards the cost of the war. Mr. Lamond went on -
They still had land monopoly rampant in their midst, and the failure of the land tax to realize the hopes of its advocates had been foreseen. The enormous increases in land values had made the valuation fixed for land taxation purposes a mere fleabite, owners being very easily able to pay the taxation by reason of the great rise in prices brought about by the public works and enterprises initiated and expanded by the Governments.
I regret that I cannot on this occasion read the whole of the debate, so that it may find a place in Hansard, but I may do so for the edification of honorable senators on some future occasion. - No question is of more importance than that of securing land for the people. Nothing is more disgraceful and disparaging to us as a community than to have to admit that men who have gone to fight for us abroad and come back lame are unable to secure employment of any kind, or to obtain land unless they are prepared to pay fabulous prices for it to. the local Fairbairns and others of that kind.
– Is nothing done to find them employment?
– Nothing compared with what we ought to have done for them.
– The honorable senator must take his share of the responsibility for that.
– I do so, and will do my best to get the honorable senator and others to realize the importance of making land available, not only for returned soldiers, but for other people who are prepared to employ themselves on it. Is’ it not disgraceful that any man should be unemployed in a country like “Australia ?
– How would you make city land available for them ?
– I would annex its annual value for Federal, State, or municipal purposes. During the debate from which I have been quoting, ex-Senator Ready, of Tasmania, moved the following motion, submitted by the Tasmanian Workers Political League -
That’, in effect, is the exact language used by Senator Givens at the previous conference, when he desired to amend the platform : -
The second portion of the motion was carried after debate, and later, on the 3rd June, the first part was agreed to. That is what I was thinking of a little while ago when I said that Senator Givens’ motion was carried. As a matter of fact it was defeated by a very small majority when Senator Givens moved it, but when Senator Ready moved it in 1915 it was carried and stands to-day as part of the Federal Labour platform. It is quite true that whilst Senator Givens, ex-Senator Ready, Mr. Lamond, ex-Senator Rae, and many others have endeavoured to secure the striking out of the £5,000 exemption, I, too, have moved in that direction. At the last annual conference of the Political Labour League, I moved that the matter be referred to the next Inter-State Labour Conference for its decision, and in a lucid moment the former body agreed to the adoption of that course.
– The Inter-State Conference is the only body that is competent to deal with it.
– Exactly. My desire was to have the question remitted to that conference for its decision. . Unfortunately, for some reasons which have never been made public, repeated efforts were afterwards made, and ultimately with success, to review the resolution arrived at by the conference of the Political Labour League, with the result that it was eventually rescinded. I have dealt with the question of the £5,000 exemption at some length because I feel that the only way out of our present difficulties is to be found in making land readily available for settlement purposes. It is idle to make it available to the ordinary working man in blocks that are valued at £30,000 or £40,000. Smaller blocks must be provided. Under the Victorian Land Tax Act there is no exemption whatever. Under that Act the rate of the tax starts, I think, at½d. in the £1; on estates in excess of £5,000 it is increased, and if the owner be an absentee, an additional 20 per cent. is imposed. In Queensland, although there is a Labour Government in office, instead of a straight-out flat rate being operative, a graduated tax has been imposed commencing on estates of less than £500 value at1d. in the £1.
– What more could the honorable senator expect from the Ryan Government?
– I have expected a good deal from the Ryan Government, and I have not been disappointed. The best measure for which that Government is responsible is the Queensland Land Tax Act, which was assented to on the 29th December, 1915. It applies to all lands within Queensland. The rates imposed under it are as follow : -
The Act under which these rates are levied is the best measure that has been enacted at the instance of the Ryan Government. Unfortunately, an exemption of £300 is included in it. It provides that -
In the case of an absentee or a company, the total sum of the unimproved value of each parcel of the land, if such total sum exceeds three hundred pounds;
It appears from that provision that every land-owner is entitled to deduct £300 from each parcel of land which he owns, and to that extent he escapes taxation. But no doubt the Ryan Government, if kept up to the mark by the outside’ Labour conferences, will ultimately remove the exemption, and thus compel people who desire to purchase land of less than £300 value to contribute their share to the land tax.
– Does the honorable senator know there has been a great reduction in land settlement in Queensland since that land tax was imposed ?
– No. As evidencing how easy it is to operate a land tax of this kind I need only mention that the whole of the regulations for the administration of the Act are contained in five printed pages. But we have books running into many hundreds of pages dealing with the various mathematical graduations under our Commonwealth Land Tax Act, and its provisions are thus placed beyond the comprehension of the average citizen. Indeed, I do not hesitate to say that the ordinary member of this Senate will find it impossible to compute the amount which he is liable to pay under it. Similarly, I have just been furnished by the Commissioner of Taxation with an elaborately-printed and carefully-bound volume, covering 172 pages 1 of closely typed matter, detailing how the wartime profits tax is to be computed. Cannot any honorable senator see that all this involves the employment of a vast amount of unproductive labour 1 . If the war-time profits tax, the entertainment tax, and the tax upon single men were repealed, and a flat rate on the land values of the Commonwealth were substituted, everybody would be able to tell at a glance how much he had to pay.
– Is the honorable senator in favour of abolishing all taxation other than land taxation?
– The honorable senator’s curiosity will have to’ remain unsatisfied for a few days, although, if a later opportunity presents itself, I may enlarge upon that aspect of this question.
The imposition of the taxes that I have named has meant the growth of an ever increasing staff of experts to determine the taxation to be paid by the citizens, and we have men like the Commonwealth Statistician and Professor Carslaw, of the Sydney University, contradicting each other as to the effect of some of our measures of taxation. Under these circumstances, how can the ordinary citizen compute his taxation? There are very few members of this Parliament who are in a position to say what their income taxation will be. The easiest thing to do is to pay without question the. sum at which one’s income is assessed. The municipal councils collect their revenue by a far better method. They assess the value of the properties within their borders, and strike a rate of so much in the £1, and each ratepayer knows at once whether he is being rightly charged in respect of his property. Compare the simplicity of the municipal rating with the complexity of the Commonwealth in-, come tax. A business man has to employ an expert accountant to fill up his returns, and very frequently even the statements of accountants are not accepted by the taxation officers, and the case has to be fought out before the Commissioner. Taxation should be imposed in such a way that the people may know what they have to pay, and the least possible trouble may be caused to them, the loss of revenue to ‘ the community being thus induced to the minimum. A flat rate on land would, no doubt, fall heavily on some of our land sharks, but I should not be too sympathetic with them. They have escaped too lightly hitherto, and I should not hestitate in asking them to pay a great-deal more. The land of the Commonwealth belongs, not to the people of Australia, but to a limited number of them, and those who do not own land are obliged to plead with the land-owners for permission to work. At one time, in Great Britain, if an employee left his employer, he was pursued, and, if caught, was compelled to serve a longer term. On a second occasion . of the kind, the letter “V,” standing for vagabond, was branded on his forehead. To-day, however, when” a man loses his job, his concern is to get another employer. Honorable senators have all been approached by men asking them to use their influence to get them employment in Government offices or with private individuals. It is very difficult to get land that . is worth having. Some time ago, when blocks were being balloted for near Brookong, in the Riverina district, there were more than 1,000 applications for a block.
– The balloting is like an Adams sweep.
– The man who secures a block does better than the one who wins a prize in Tattersalls, because he secures with it an independency for himself and those who succeed him. They will never need an employer ; they will have plenty to do for all time. We who favour the taxation of “ land values are accused of desiring to tax people off the ‘ land, but there are 4,000,000 persons in Australia who do not own any land, and the condition of affairs in the suburbs of our big cities is a disgrace to the Commonwealth. It should be possible in this country for the working man to buy a quarter of an acre or half an acre of land in the suburbs, but any one who wishes, to build in one of the nearer suburbs of any of the capitals has to mortgage his earnings for life merely to buy enough land on which to build. That is why so few persons own their own homes. Is it right that in a country like this families should be reared on blocks of land having a frontage of 14 feet and a depth of 8G feet ?
– In Western Australia it is easy to get a 1,000-acre block.
– It is not easy to get land convenient to Perth; the> price per foot is too high. So with land neaT all the other capitals. Yet honorable members opposite stand up for the land monopolists. They contend that the poor landowner should have a £5,000 exemption. One would think the schoolmaster had not been abroad in Australia.
– There can be no land monopoly in places where the land is cut up. into 14-ft. blocks.
– Any amount of land, although cut up into small blocks, is monopolized by a number of people. Right throughout the ages there .has been a tendency, under the freehold system, where the system of taxation of land values has not been in operation, for land gradually to revert to big estates. Is it not a fact that the great bulk of England b held by a few individuals, and that in London the majority of Britons are obliged to pay rent to the land-owners for permission to live? Is it not a fact that the whole of England and Scotland, as well as Ireland, is in the same position? And, in the face of these facts, is it any wonder that the Bolsheviki in Russia have said to the land-owners of that country; “ Get out, we will pay you no more rent “?
– And those are the people that you are upholding.
– No. The honorable senator’s statement is typical of allegations made by honorable gentlemen opposite during the recent campaign. They might be able to circulate those fallacious statements broadcast in the newspapers, but, when made in this Senate, they can be nailed down at once, so that we should hear no more of them here. The honorable senator’s statement is quite incorrect. J. want to point out that what the Bol- sheviki have done in Russia, even if effective for the moment, will not result in a permanent reform. ‘ It would be of no advantage to me to remove some landowner who has compelled me to pay rent for the privilege of living on his estate, if, after removing him, I allowed halfadozen other landlords to step into his position. And that is what will happen in Russia. In Ireland, also, the so-called settlement of the land question will be only of a temporary character, because it will result in the creation of a large number of landlords in places where, before, there was one big landlord. In Russia it appears that the Bolsheviki have “outed” their landlords, and have put themselves in the position of the landowners; so it is probable that in a few years there will arise a large number of land-owners, who will exercise just as much rack-Tenting, and perhaps a little more, than the landlords of the big type. That is’ the position everywhere. I do not advocate the forcible removal of landlords in the WaY adopted by the Bolsheviki, although I would never shed tears about their sudden removal, with the idea of instituting reforms. Permanent reforms can only be obtained by the taxation of unimproved land values, thus compelling the owners to pay into the public Treasury the full rental of lands in their possession.
I am aware that there are other matters which might well receive consideration during the discussion on the Bill before the Senate, and I should like to refer to the various State land taxes in operation in Tasmania, Western Australia, and right throughout the Commonwealth; but I presume that senators coming from the different States are fairly well acquainted with them. The States have failed tocompel land-owners to make the best possible use of their land, but the Commonwealth” Parliament has power to bringabout this very necessary reform, if it sodesires. The statement made by Senator McDougall some years ago about the importance of this question is “ as true today as it was on the day of its utterance ; and whatever may be the opinion of other honorable senators on this question, I am firmly convinced that no other subject is of more importance than that of securing land for the people who require to use it. I am aware, of course, that a number of people do not require, and have no desire, to use land; but, on the other hand, tens of thousands of people would he very pleased indeed if they could get sufficient land around their homes to make themselves comfortable. It is almost impossible for a man living in Melbourne or suburbs to secure enough land to grow even a few rose trees, let alone establish a vegetable garden.
– You mean in Collins-street, I presume.
– No; I mean in and around the city of Melbourne. The same may be said of all the other capital cities of Australia, as well as many villages and towns throughout the Commonwealth. It ought to be the aim of this Parliament, seeing that the State Parliaments refuse to take action, to see that every man in the Commonwealth can obtain sufficient land - an acre, or perhaps two or three acres - upon which to establish a decent vegetable and flower garden.
– You would have to pull down a lot of buildings to make that possible.
– It would not do very much harm if large areas in some of our cities were pulled down. I remember the Sydney newspapers a few years ago reported that certain large areas in that city had become so insanitary, and that the allotments were so microscopic in character, that the City Council was obliged, in self-defence, to pull down large numbers of buildings and re-build on somewhat modern lines. They have not gone far enough, and could go much further with advantage.
I thank honorable senators for the attention they have given to my remarks, and I trust that during the recess they will carefully study this important question of land values taxation. We have an annual interest bill of £8,000,000 to pay, and I put it to honorable senators opposite that this important reform should be carefully studied. In fact, my main purpose in speaking to-day was that honorable senators might, during the recess, digest my remarks, so that when we reassemble they may be prepared, if not to initiate a motion, to support any action that may be taken to place the taxation of this country upon the owners of Australia. In this “lovely Australia of ours,” there are 4,000,000 Australians, mostly nativeborn,who do not own land at all, but who are obliged to pay rent to the owners of Australia. The expression, “ This lovely Australia of ours ‘ ‘ - always between inverted commas - is only a figure of speech. We know there is nothing in it.
– No fault can be found with the loveliness of the country.
– I find fault with the expression “ this lovely Australia of ours,” seeing that Australia does not belong to the people.
– It is a true description.
– It is not. It does not belong to the people of Australia. Senator de Largie may own vast estates-
– Come with meto Western Australia during the recess, and I will give you 1,000 acres.
– I shall accept that offer. When I know that tens of thousands of my fellow workers are huddled away in miserable hovels and microscopic cabins for Which they have to pay rent to the landlord every Monday morning it makes me ill to hear men speaking of “ this lovely Australia of ours.” We should always recollect, when we hear that statement, that this Australia of ours belongs not to the people of Australia but to only a limited number, and that there are in the Commonwealth to-day 4,000,000 who do not own an acre of land.
– The Senate will not be surprised to hear that I am very much perturbed as the result of the attack made upon me “and other honorable lords” by my friendSenator Grant. The gist of his argument appeared to be that a living could be made out of the land alone. He has said that he owns no land.
– That is not so.
– Then the honorable senator has only a small strip?
– Do not believe that.
– He is a landlord.
– And has a lovely bit of land.
– In view of his speech I am surprised to hear that he has.
– I should be glad if I, in common with the rest of the community, had to pay taxation upon the value of the land I own.
– I dare say that the honorable senator comes within the £5,000 exemption for which the Federal Act provides.
– -I admit that I do.
– The honorable senator’s chief argument appeared to be that in no way is it possible to make a living except on the land, and that as a great many people did not own any land whatever, they had no visible means of support. He went on to say that under the Queensland Land Tax Act the highest rate paid was 6d. in the £1, or 2£ per cent, on the unimproved value. I would remind him that the land to which that tax applies was purchased from the Government in large areas, and that there has been no rise in its price. That being so the people of Queensland still practically own that land to the extent of 2^ per cent, of its unimproved value. When a man purchases land with the object of selling it again it is generally thought that he does pretty well if he makes 5 per cent, out of his freehold. That is the return one used to expect, but taxation is now becoming so heavy that one practically expects no return. According to Senator Grant the Queensland Government have taken back 2J per cent, by way of taxation on this land to-day, so that, in other words, the people of that State have taken back 2A_ per cent, of all the land sold in the greater part of its pastoral districts. The figures which the honorable senator has so industriously prepared and put before us need to be thoroughly analyzed and considered from points of view other than those from which he has discussed them.
While I agree with my honorable friend that in the slums of our big cities a great evil is growing up, I do not think the cure for that evil is to be found entirely in land taxation. The problem must be attacked in many different ways. Man is a gregarious animal. He likes to live in ‘ mobs or communities, and it is most difficult to induce many men to live in rural districts. A friend of mine, who takes a great interest in the Melbourne Benevolent Asylum, told me an interesting story, which illustrates this point. Some time ago the asylum was removed from the congested city area, where it had long been established, to a magnificent building specially erected at Cheltenham for the accommodation of the old people. My friend assured me, however, that about 20 per cent: of these old people, who had been inmates of the asylum for many years, left it, refusing to go to Cheltenham, on the ground that it was “ too far out of town.” There seems to be something in human nature that makes life in congested areas attractive, and the congestion of population in all our big cities is certainly becoming a very serious problem. Land taxation does not solve it. Even if we applied the land tax to every little allotment in the congested areas of population, these people would not go out of town. My view is that we can best’ get rid of the slum evil by means of liberal . building regulations, under which allotments would have to be of reasonable size, and buildings unfit for human habitation would not be permitted.
Although we have had a most spirited debate, so far absolutely no reference has been made to the question immediately before the Chair. Senator Gardiner said that we wanted to get back to the peace and quiet that formerly prevailed among political parties in Australia. I agree with him. On 28th October, 1916, we had the first conscription referendum. It was bitterly fought. On 5th May last we had a general election; subsequently we had the State elections in Victoria, and in December last we had a second conscription referendum. So much political strife was aroused by these campaigns that it became almost unsafe to visit what were erstwhile quiet country districts in Victoria. We all know what happened to Senator Barnes, and nearly happened to myself and others during the recent campaign. I was pelted, and I never saw the people worked up to such a state of political excitement as they were during the recent campaign. It behoves us to “make an effort to bring back the people to a sane state of mind. Anything that will help in that direction ought to be cheerfully undertaken by us.
– The bitterness was largely engendered by the Prime Minister.
– The cause, whatever it was, need not now be discussed. I think we are all agreed that we do not want any more political contests for many a year to come. When the life of this Parliament expires by effluxion of time, it should be extended. That is being done all over the world since the outbreak of’ war, and I think that if the life of the Parliament were extended for another three years it would certainly suit Senator Grant.
– A most statesmanlike utterance.
– Speaking quite seriously, we are all most anxious that the bad feeling which has been suddenly engendered in our midst should be completely eliminated. We wish to return to the quiet and harmony that formerly prevailed amongst political parties here.
A great deal has been said as to the breaking of pledges. We all know that the Prime Minister, when launching his campaign, gave a very direct pledge. Honorable senators of the Labour party assert that that pledge has been broken. May I ask what they have to say as to the breaking of the pledge which the Fisher Government gave our soldiers?
– Even if that were so, would two wrongs make a right?
– No, but the results following the breaking of the two pledges were vastly different. The Fisher Government promised that we would give our last man and our last shilling. The fact that that pledge, made by the then leader of the Labour party has been broken - that we have not sent the last man, and may not spend the last shilling to help the boys who have fought so nobly for us - is going to do us infinitely more harm than is likely to attend the alleged breaking of the pledge given by Mr. Hughes. The breaking of the Fisher Government pledge means a loss of life and money. If, as honorable senators opposite say, the pledge given by Mr. Hughes has been broken, can they point to any harm that has thereby been occasioned ? Who has been hurt by it ? No one has been injured, and even Senator Grant cannot say that it has had any effect on land values.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.30 p.m.
– When we adjourned for lunch I was referring to some remarks made by Senator Gardiner, the Leader of the Opposition. That honorable gentleman pointed out how necessary it is for us to do away with that feeling of antagonism which is arising between the two parties. I am entirely in accord with the sentiment, and anything that our party can do in that direction ought to be done. When we think for a moment of the vast issues now before Australia; we realize that what we require more than anything else is discouragement of industrial turmoil. I was sorry to hear Senator Gardiner say that the National Governments, both Federal and State, in New South Wales had organized the late strike. I have been connected with industrial work on the employers’ side for some twenty-seven years, and I ought to know something of the matter. I have no hesitation in denying once and for all that the employers or the National Governments, Federal or State, were in any way responsible for that terrible turmoil whicharose very soon after the May elections. That was a dreadful strike, which impaired the efficiency of Australia, and jeopardized even the food and other supplies for the boys at the Front. Nothing could be further from the views or desires of the employers than any disruption of the kind. We have now to ask what was the cause of that strike. The cause asserted was an endeavour by the New South Wales Government to introduce a card system into their workshops.
– A revised card system ; there had been one in operation for many years.
– As Senator Long says, it was a revised card system, making, I suppose, for greater efficiency. The fear amongst the workers at the time was that the Taylor system would be introduced. The only account I have seen of the Taylor system was that given in the Age a few Saturdays ago, and it. was most interesting. I was surprised to see that, in the United States of America, the men, far from being agitated or displeased with the Taylor system, were working under it in a most harmonious way. I have no knowledge of the system other than that description in the Age, but I gather that it was introduced in order that each worker, by trained movements, might be able to do more efficient work, and do it at greater convenience to himself. It is not a pleasant outlook to a man that he must spend his whole life in one of our modern factories; but we have to do the best we can under the circumstances. In the old days, when we had cottage labour, and the bootmaker and the tailor performed every branch of work in his calling, a pride was taken in the work, and there was something, as it were, to live for. Under the modern system, however, a man becomes simply a cog in a machine; and the question is how we are to improve the conditions. The only way, in my opinion, is by increasing the efficiency of the workers; and to that end there must, in some way) be a card system introduced. But I think the worker is entitled to share in the returns from any increased efficiency that may result; and his share, in addition to any extra money that may be earned, ought to take the shape of lessened time employment. Speaking -as a very old employer, I think that somehow or other we ought to make more bearable the lives of the men who work in our great industries. As I have already said, a man or woman who goes into one of our big factories knows perfectly well that they are there for life. We cannot change that system; but, by increasing efficiency, we can, I think, shorten the time that has to be worked. In addition, profit-sharing would give the worker an interest in the output of his particular workshop, because, under that system, he becomes partly an employer, and regards the success of the factory as, to some extent, the result of his own personal work. In this direction, I think, lies the solution of this most complex problem.
From whom is the suggestion for cooperation to come ? The employers have continually offered, and, in some cases, actually introduced, co-operation; and in a great many cases the workers have turned down the idea. Under -the circumstances, it is “up to “ honorable senators opposite, and those whom they represent, if they desire to have harmony amongst the classes, to suggest some scheme. We know that our friends opposite lead the employees ; and they ought to discuss the matter cordially with the employers, in order to discover whether there is not some scheme by which the prevailing friction may be abolished. The present system is theoretically wrong. We cannot, in my opinion, have peace under the wages system. We have, on the one hand, the inducement to the employer to get as much work as he can out of the employee, and to pay as little as possible. I do not say that employers act up to this theoretical view to any extent; individuals may, but, as a body, I do not think they do so. On the other hand, the theoretical position of the employee is that he must get as much wages’ as he can, and, if he carries the theory to its logical conclusion, give as little work as possible.
– The latter part in regard to the worker is not correct.
– I do not say that such a spirit is general amongst the employees any more than it is amongst the employers; but that is the theoretical position. Honorable senators will admit that there are some workers who take that view, but, as a whole, I think we can say they are above that sort of thing. I am merely giving the theoretical position; and if the theory be carried out to its logical conclusion, that is the result.
– It seems to be, practically, the determination of the present Government to do as little as possible.
– I am not referring particularly to this or any other Ministry - Ministries come and go.
– I have my doubts as to the present Ministry going.
– I hope the Ministry will not go, because, with all hia faults - and I admit he has many - the Prime Minister stands out amongst the people of Australia as typically the most patriotic man we have - a man whose patriotism and whose desire to win the war are in no’ doubt. He may go further than, perhaps, some of us like to see him go, but there is no doubt as to his patriotism; and on that score I am proud to follow him.
I hope honorable senators opposite will seriously consider whether some solution of the perpetual turmoil between employee and employer cannot be found; and, personally, I feel sure it is in the direction I have indicated. We must have our theory right, and the proper practice will follow; at present the theory is not right, and conflict must always go on if we continue our present system. If we could, in some such way as I have suggested, create in the employee a pride and personal interest in the manufactory iri which he is employed, and in the work which he performs^ - if the results of his extra efficiency were paid to him, not only in money, but in lessened time - he might still be only a cog in a great machine, but his position would be a very different one from what it is at present. As I said before, I feel sure that in this direction is the solution for that turmoil which every one of us deplores; at any rate, the proposition is worth thinking over. We know that we are only a handful in Australia ; but we desire our people to live lives such as civilized human beings ought to live, and in this direction we ought to set an example. We used to be proud of tlie fact that Australia was blazing tlie track of civilization, that arbitration and other industrial- laws*-
– These are very excellent sentiments, but is the honorable senator quite sure that he will not get into trouble for uttering them?
– I am sure that I shall not, because I am known as a thoroughly practical mau. I do not desire it to be thought for a moment that I am in any way Quixotic, because I am offering what I regard as a bona fide method of settling these difficulties, and it is up to honorable senators opposite to give it consideration.
– You desire to find a method of doing away with the present difficulties.
– I do. I desire to do away with that continual friction which impedes efficiency, produces hostile feeling, and does harm in every direction. I feel quite sure that in what I am saying I have at my back the great bulk of the employers of this country.
– You are offering an individual suggestion, but I doubt whether the bulk of tie employers are with you.
– Employers have offered time after time suggestions in the same direction, but we wish to see the first steps taken now by the employees or their representatives, because we are afraid that, if we submit solutions, they will be turned down by the workers. If the first steps are taken by our friends opposite, the move will not be looked upon, as it otherwise might be, with suspicion, and will be more likely to serve a good purpose. What Ave desire is that the members of the Official Labour party should sometimes tell their supporters-
– There is no Official Labour party.
– That is what you call yourselves.
– No; we call ourselves the Labour party.
– I think that we on this side are the Labour party, but by whatever name the party opposite may bo known, the suggestions I have made are worth considering. Nothing but harm to the Commonwealth comes out of these continual disputes; and it is perfectly obvious that the solution is not to be found in arbitration and wages boards. These are only palliatives, ‘and we require something more. I am not afraid to’ make these suggestions; but I think the first applications of them should come from the men themselves, or their leaders. We have already tried to show the world an example in industrial legislation, but have merely succeeded in producing a blazed trail of strikes; and I think that the only course now left to us is such as I have indicated.
The preceding speakers have so consistently ignored the Supply Bill that I feel that I ought almost to apologize for referring to iti. We are asked to vote another large sum of money, and we also have on our hands estimates for £37,000,000 of expenditure, apart from war expenditure. This week Parliament will probably adjourn until about the end of April, so that we shall have May and June for the consideration of the Estimates. That means that ten months of the financial year will have expired and ten-twelfths of the expenditure will have been incurred. To me, as a business man, that seems an extraordinary procedure, but I know that it is usual. About the last thing Parliament thinks of is the expenditure of money, although a great man has said that finance is the foundation of ell government. At the present time we are living in a fool’s paradise so .far as the financial affairs of the States and tlie Commonwealth are concerned. We are actually spending £80,000,000 per annum on the war. That expenditure is unavoidable, but our ordinary disbursements are continually increasing. v Some attempt has been made by the present Government to curtail the outgoings, and they have succeeded to some extent. Economy in public finance is a matter to which we should all devote our attention, and our first step should be to allow Ministers more time for the management of their Departments. Ever since this Parliament was elected’ there” has been almost constant political turmoil, and when Ministers are rushing about the country, first in connexion with an election, and afterwards in waging a referendum campaign, they have no time to devote to administration.
– Did not the Government make the trouble for themselves ?
– No ; I think the people made it for them. Honorable senators opposite are forever asking what the Government have done to win the war; but it seems to me that they urged the Government to take a certain step, and now when they have come a cropper over it they wish to kick them while they are down. I urge on the Senate the desirability of allowing Ministers time to thoroughly study’ the affairs and requirements of the country. The people have definitely denied to the Government power to conscript- human life, but on the 5th May the quiet, sober-minded electors of the community, , who voted for the Nationalists, instructed them by a huge majority to carry on the government. It is the desire of those people that Australia shall be governed in a quiet, orderly fashion. That being so, it is obviously our duty to allow Ministers to attend to their Departments and give proper supervision to the expenditure of these millions of pounds. Ministers ought to be engaged in administrative work day after day instead of having to appear in Parliament. At this time we ought to allow as much recess as possible, so that we may have a maximum of administration and a minimum of legislation.
– And the Government may carry on under the War Precautions Act.
– That Act may be used if necessary ; but I hope it may0 not be necessary to use it much longer. The people have said plainly that they wanted this country governed by the Nationalists in the way best calculated to assist in winning the war.
A matter to which I hope the Government will give serious attention is the amalgamation of the taxation and electoral Departments of the States and Commonwealth. In this way an enormous amount of money might be saved directly and much effort saved to the people indirectly. I congratulate the Federal and State taxation officers on the report they have produced as the result of the conference held in Melbourne in March last. They thoroughly investigated the practicability of having uniform taxation machinery for the Commonwealth and the States, and formulated a Bill for submission to Parliament. There are in that draft many things which will require careful revision by Parliament in order to prevent injustice, but the results of the Conference, as a whole, exceed my expectations. We have been told that these Government officers are always looking after their own billets, but at that Conference they gave good advice to us parliamentarians as to’ what can be, and should be, done. The important question to be decided is whether the collection of taxes should be left to the Commonwealth or to the State authorities. It is contended that this is a State job, but although I have always been an advocate of State rights, I cannot indorse that contention. I feel sure that the exchange of seven different taxing machines for six, as would be the case if the States did the work, would not be th© reform which the people expect. The people clearly desire one taxing medium for the whole of Australia, and, in my opinion, that medium must be the Commonwealth. If we had six different States doing the job, and collecting for the Commonwealth, we should not secure uniformity. There would be different decisions in different States, and the chaos would be as great as at present. But some reform in this direction must come. I assure honorable senators that the returns ‘ for land tax, income tax, war-time profits, and so forth, are piling up to such an extent that it is impossible for a business man to get them compiled. I do not believe there are enough skilled accountants in the country to do this work much longer. The system must break down of its own weight. The compilation of these returns for taxation purposes cannot be intrusted to an ordinary man; the work is of an intricate character, and can be done only by an expert of considerable experience. 1 assure the Senate that business men are reaching the limit of their capacity to prepare returns for ‘taxation purposes. We are continually urged to increase production, but how is it possible for a farmer, for instance, to increase his area under crop if half of his time is occupied in getting his land valued, and in making out returns for the State and Federal authorities? I urge Ministers to investigate this matter thoroughly, and endeavour to bring about an amalgamation of the taxation systems along the lines suggested by the conference of officers. The men who stand up for State rights are mostly to be found on the
Government side, because tlie Labour party as a whole is opposed to the States.
– I am a Unificationist.
– That being so, tlie States must look to the National party for protection. But as a Nationalist and a States-righter, I warn the people that nothing will bring about Unification so quickly as a continuance of the irritation caused by the demands for so many taxation returns. If the advocates of State rights really desire to keep the States alive they will allow the Commonwealth to undertake all taxation work, for the States. For I repeat that there must be only one taxing medium, and only by the Commonwealth doing the work can we secure uniformity. Accountancy of the character that is practised in the State and Federal Taxation Departments could not last a day in any private business establishment. ‘ If we could go behind the scenes in the Commonwealth Taxation Offices we should find a chaotic condition of affairs. I do not blame the officers, because they are overburdened with work, but the public, too, are overburdened, and if an improved state of affairs is not brought about they will- rise in their wrath, and we shall have straight-out Unification. Doubtless that would please some people, but it would not please me.
– The honorable senator -admits that a remedy is required.
– Yes, and if it is not found the States will be swept away.
I have previously called’ the attention of the Senate to the possibility ‘of saving the money which is at present being expended on the maternity bonus. Last year the Commonwealth spent in this way £658,285, but notwithstanding that huge expenditure, the Death and Invalidity Committee reported -
The’ benefits conferred, however, by the present system have not apparently been such as to produce any noticeable decline in the maternal mortality rate.
The National party has agreed that during tlie currency of the war no stone of the temple of Labour is to be interfered with. If the maternity bonus is one of the stones it is a very bad one, for the money expended in connexion with it could be applied to a much better purpose. In New Zealand the mortality amongst infants has been reduced from nearly 7 per cent, to 5 per cent, by the Plunkett system, and the cost to the Government has been only £3,000 per annum. This system has saved an enormous number of young lives, and if. we had it in operation in Australia not only could we save a big sum of money to be applied in other directions, but we might reduce the death-rate amongst infants to the same extent as has been done in New .Zealand. The number of babies born in Australia in 1915 was 134,871, and of these 9,430 died during the first year of their life. If we could save 2 per cent, of these infants, we would do an immense service to the community. It is our duty to see that this £658,285 is spent to far greater advantage. “We shall not soon have a big population in Australia, but we should aim at quality, if we cannot get quantity. We should see not only that all the babies are conserved, but also that boys and girls at school are properly looked after.
– Does the honorable senator mean that he would repeal the Act which established the maternity allowance ?
– I have not gone into the details of the matter sufficiently to say that ; but I hold that if the Commonwealth have £658,285 to spend in this way, we might expend it to greater advantage to the community. At any rate, a committee of medical men have reported that the allowance has done no good, and their report is backed up by Miss Henderson, head of the Ladies’ Benevolent Society in Victoria, who says that it has done more harm than good. Though the States are hard up, and have no money to spend in any direction, they are very anxious to look after the health of children ; and I suggest that some of the money now spent upon the maternity allowance should be given to the States, on the distinct condition that they must spend it on the proper inspection of school, children. In that direction, we would be doing a great deal more good than by spending the money on a maternity allowance, when we know that a good deal of it is wasted, some of it going for the purchase of bangles, and some of it being spent on having a good spree to celebrate a birth. Those are not directions in which the taxpayers’ money should be spent. If the country has the money to spare - and apparently it haswe could use it to far greater advantage in having the health of school children thoroughly looked after.
Another matter that I hope will be speedily cleared up is the great discrepancy reported to exist in the stores of the Defence Department. The allegation that these stores have disappeared is an absolute slur on every, one of us, and the matter should be sifted to the bottom before very long. If the Auditor-General is right in saying that stores are disappearing in this remarkable way, the people who are responsible should be punished.
– There is a Committee investigating the matter now.
– We have not seen their report.
– Mr. Garden, who first brought the matter under the notice of the Minister, was “ sacked “ for doing so.
– We cannot get the “ sack “ for pointing it out. Taxation has been unduly heavy of late, and it will be heavier still; but the people do not mind paying taxation so long as they know that the money they contribute is properly spent. It is our duty to let the public know where their money is going. If it is spent on the purchase of stores, and those stores are pilfered, as, apparently, has been the case here, we should learn who is responsible, and there should be somebody “sacked.”
– The motor car money, also, should be inquired into.
– That is so. When one belongs to a party, he shares more or less in any honour or dishonour that attaches to it. We all share in the responsibility in regard to the motor cars referred to in the report of the AuditorGeneral. If a man requires a motor car, it is absolutely indispensable that he should pay for it himself unless he is using it for public business.
– Do, you think that a Minister should have a motor car at his disposal for electioneering purposes?
– That is a moot point. When a Minister has to go from place to place on the business of the country, there is no doubt he is entitled to have a motor car. The whole of his time is at the disposal of the country - and his time is most valuable - and if he is expected to go to various places, be must reach them iD a very short time, because he has other work to do. Therefore, it is not unreasonable that he should be allowed to employ a motor car at the public’s expense. The ordinary member, who has to get from one place to another, should do so in the ordinary way. As for Ministers, the point has to be decided with reference to whatever the custom “in regard to such matters may be. The practice should be clearly laid down, so that Ministers may know exactly what they are expected to do. In looking through the various accounts, I find there is only one case of an item for a motor car, and that is in the figures relating to the Department for External Affairs.
– It is too small a matter to worry about.
– It is a small matter, but it is one in which the honour of the whole of my party is concerned. If a man takes sixpence that does not belong to him, he is doing a great wrong. I would like to see the matter thoroughly looked into, so that not a single gibe can be thrown at the Nationalist party in this regard..
I hope that the Nationalist party will reign long in Australia. The little disputes that have occurred will only have the effect of welding it in a way that a continuance of fair weather would,’ perhaps, never do.
– You do not know Mr. Austin Chapman.
– I do know him. There will always be stormy petrels. No doubt, the disputes we have had will only serve to weld the party and make it a magnificent one capable of governing Australia for a long time to come. I do not wish to take up any further time, because we are anxious to get into recess as soon as possible in order to enable Ministers to settle down and do a little real administrative work. Of late they have been harassed and hunted about the country, and they have hardly had the opportunity of getting together in Cabinet and having those consultations which are so indispensable to the proper business management of the country. If we want to win the war, we must keep Australia’s finances straight. Ministers are mainly responsible for our finances, and it is only by allowing them time to devote themselves to the administration of the country? as we hope, to see it administered, that they can keep the finances straight. We are bolstered up at present by an expenditure of £ S0,000,000 on the war, of which amount £56,000,000 is being spent among a population of 5,000,000 in Australia. What will result when that expenditure ceases? The effect will be tremendous. If we are not very careful, and if the -finances are not very ably handled, there will be enormous distress. Australia is a great producer of foodstuffs and wool, and will probably be enabled to weather the storm better than any other country - if it is properly handled - but we must give the Government the opportunity to do something in that direction. For that reason I will not take up any further time.
Senator NEEDHAM (Western Australia [3.11]. - While there are many portions of the speech just delivered with which I cannot agree, there were one or two suggestions in it which are deserving of very serious consideration. For instance, the suggested amalgamation of the Federal and State Taxation Department is well worthy of consideration. Not only would a considerable expenditure be saved, but also a vast amount of irritation might be avoided. Senator Ferricks has interjected that there might also be an amalgamation of the Federal and State Electoral Departments, which would” lead to a further saving in expenditure.
Senator Farbairn might have gone further, and suggested the necessity for the abolition of the employment of temporary hands in the Taxation Departments, because the continuance of the employment of temporary men does not give to the taxpayer, and particularly to the trading concerns of Australia, that sense of security and protection which they should have regarding their business secrets. Men employed in these Departments have access to the innermost secrets of the business community. I make no allegation in regard to the matter, but simply say that if the men who are called upon to investigate such matters were placed on a permanent footing, it would give the public a greater feeling of security and of confidence.
In dealing with the question of the maternity allowance, Senator. Fairbairn was a little bit off the track when he spoke of the cause of mortality .among infants. I venture to say that it was not because Parliament granted a maternity allowance of £5 to the mother of every child born in Australia that there has been a heavy infantile mortality. ,
– I did not say that. I said that the granting of the allowance had not decreased infantile mortality.
– Nor do I agree with Senator Fairbairn when he says that some of the allowance money is spent in jubilation on account of the arrival of a new citizen in Australia. Whether an allowance is made or not? jubilation of that kind will always occur. I suggest to the honorable senator that the best method of preventing an increase in infantile mortality and of preserving the health of the nation would be to nationalize the Health Departments. Under existing conditions those who are possessed of sufficient means can secure the best medical attention for themselves,, their wives, and children; but those who are not overburdened with this world’s goods can secure the assistance of medical men only to the extent which they can pay for it. We know that at times serious operations are necessary for the preservation of health, and the wives of working men have been, and are to-day, suffering because their husbands cannot afford the big fees necessary to secure for them skilled medical attention for the performance of necessary operations. The matter is, in my opinion, within the purview of this Parliament, and it is time that it devoted its attention to the nationalization of the Health Departments of Australia, Federal and State, and brought the medical men of the Commonwealth under Federal control, in order that the best medical attention might be at the service of the poorest as well as of the richest in the land.
– Smash up the medical trade union.
– I should not mind if/ the British Medical Association was smashed up to-morrow. We have at the present time in Victoria an example of the difficulties that may arise between the’ doctors and the friendly societies.
– The doctors are good unionists; why should the honorable senator desire to smash up their union ?
– I believe that if the doctors union were smashed up tomorrow, the community would benefit by it.
I was very much surprised at the action of the Leader of the Senate yesterday when he introduced the Supply Bill which we are now supposed to be discussing.- As representative in this Chamber of the “Limpet Ministry” - and I term them the “Limpet Ministry” advisedly, because of the way in which they cling to the rock of place and pay in spite of. the pledges they made - Senator Millen formally moved that the Supply Bill be read a first time. He practically threw the Bill upon the table and told the Senate to take it or leave it. I remember the time when the honorable senator, as a member of previous Ministries, would not have dared to treat this Chamber with such contumely. What is the reason for the change in his conduct? It is because of his knowledge that he has now big battalions behind him. He probably feels that, that being the case, he can do practically what he likes. The time may come when he will repent of that kind of conduct.
I shall not dwell for very long on the famous Bendigo pledge, or upon the individual or collective pledges of the newborn Ministry. During the debate, quotations have been read from newspapers to show that, from the Prime Minister downwards,- members of the present Ministry gave their word of honour that they would not attempt to govern this country if the verdict of the people on the 20th December last went against them. They have not kept their word, individually or collectively. It is true that the last Hughes Ministry resigned. It is also true that the Governor-General sent again for the honorable member for Bendigo, the Right Honorable William Morris Hughes, and commissioned him’ to form a new Ministry. It is also true that the Prime Minister in another place, and Senator Millen in the Senate, read a memorandum from the Governor-General. T venture to say that, whilst it may have been the voice of Sir Ronald Munro Ferguson, it was the hand of Mr. Hughes that was recognisable in that memorandum; 0
– I do not think the honorable senator should say that about the Governor-General.
– Is the GovernorGeneral sacrosanct?
– He is not here to defend himself.
– Nor can the King be in the House of Commons; but, that being so, dare we not, as duly elected representatives of the people, say anything in criticism of the actions either of the King or of his representative?
– The honorable senator may say what he knows to be true, but he is only guessing now.
– Senator Newland may dissent from my view, but my guess is not far wrong. I venture to say that the whole business, so far as the Governor-General’s memorandum is concerned, was pre-arranged. I go further, and say this about the Governor-General, that,- after he had sent for the Leader of the Australian Labour party (Mr. Tudor), he told that gentleman that he would let him know ‘what he was going to do, and whether he would ask him to form a Government or not. I know for a fact that, from that day until now, Sir Ronald Munro Ferguson has not kept his word, and has not paid the leader of a great party in this Parliament the common courtesy of telling him’ what he was going to do, a courtesy which he should have paid him in accordance with his own promise. I trust the day will never come when, in this or any other free Parliament of the Empire, elected representatives of the people dare not criticise the King himself, let alone the King’s representative.
Since the 20th December we have heard many varying ‘statements from members of the party opposite.- There have been many differences of opinion between them and the Government they are supposed to support. I was hoping that all the differences of opinion would have furnished an example of the truth of the old- adage, “ When thieves fall out, honest men get their due.”
– Who are the thieves ?
– I am not saying who are the thieves, but I know that members of the party opposite have fallen out among themselves. I know that their Caucus meetings have not been too pleasant. I was wondering whether, when all their differences of opinion had been expressed, the honest people of this nation would get their due. I am still not despondent that as, perhaps, the result of still further falling out - I will not say amongst thieves - but amongst members of the party opposite, the honest people of this country will get their due, and that, perhaps, before we re-assemble at the close of the coming recess.
We have of ten been told that the Australian Labour party is governed by a Caucus, and honorable senators opposite and the press of Australia have also frequently told us that we are governed by organizations outside.
– Hear, hear! It is a fact.
– Senator Newland might not have applauded that statement if he had waited until he heard what I intend to say concerning certain organizations that are controlling the party of which he is to-day a member. I know of no more glaring instance of Caucus rule than that exhibited at, meetings of the Nationalist party shortly after the referendum. Up to the 20th December the party was supposed to be intact. Ministers, including Senator Millen, had given their pledge that they would resign if the referendum were not carried in their favour. Mr. Webster went so far as to say that he would not remain in the Ministry for twenty-four hours. It was naturally assumed throughout the Commonwealth that these gentlemen, being honorable men, would keep their word, but after eighteen days had elapsed from the date of the referendum we still found Mr. Webster and Senator Millen in the Ministry. A party meeting was held, at whichI understand the majority of the members of the Nationalist party were present. As a result of that and other meetings, the Prime Minister got his instructions.
– This is imagination.
– I have not heard it denied. Is it not a fact ?
– There are no facts about it.
– It is easy for Senator Guthrie to make interjections about imagination from his comfortable seat on the other side, but he seldom has the courage to stand up and express his views in the Senate.
– Senator Guthrie does not abstain from speaking for lack of courage, but he abstains from speaking unless he has something to say worth listening to.
– If that be so the honorable senator should hold his tongue, because hisinterjections are certainly not worth listening to. I say that the party opposite is Caucus-bound and Caucus-driven.
– The same as the honorable senator’s party.
– Then Senator Newland and I are in agreement. I was pointing out that it has frequently been contended that the Australian Labour party is Caucus-bound, and Senator Newland now admits that his party is Caucus-bound.
– He admits nothing.
– The honorable senator can disprove my statement if he is able to do so when he takes part in this debate. Amongst the accusations levelled against the party on this side during the referendum campaign were the charges that those who advocated the “ No “ side were disloyalists, pro-Germans, and . Sinn Feiners. Several other polite epithets of that nature were hurled against us by members of the Ministry and their parliamentary supporters. The press throughout Australia, with one or two exceptions, repeated those statements in their leading articles.
– They did not say you were of. that class. They said you were supported by such people.
– The honorable senator’s own leader, in his opening speech at Bendigo, said that those who would vote “ No “ were pro-Germans, disloyalists, and Sinn Feiners. We need not go to the press to find castigations of that nature by William Morris Hughes; they are embalmed in Hansard, and, as Senator O’Loghlin reminds me, there was a continual repetition of the statement that those who voted “ No “ were Sinn Feiners, disloyalists, pro-Germans, and treason mongers. That did not worry me in the least. Amongst the million odd people who determined on 20th December last that human life in this country should not be conscripted, there were 90,000 men who were and are offering their lives on the battle fields ofFrance to-day. According to the gospel of William Morris Hughes and those who supported him, those 90,000 men must be included in the category of Sinn Feiners, pro-Germans,disloyalists, and treason mongers.
– No; they said they did not want slackers.
– Are those 90,000 men slackers? The honorable sena tor’s leader has described them as disloyalists and pro-Germans.
– He did nothing of the kind.
– In his policy speech at Bendigo, and in his speeches in Parliament, the Prime Minister described those who voted “ No “ in the way I have mentioned.
– He did nothing of the sort.
– As a matter of fact, from beginning to end of the campaign, he hurled these insults against those of us who determined to do what we could to prevent the conscription of human life in Australia. To show how far the Prime Minister can be relied upon, he stated a little while ago that only when he saw the wreckage of the British Navy floating in the North Sea would he re-introduce the question of conscription. Thank God, there is no sign of the wreckage of the British Fleet in the North Sea. That day will never come. The Prime Minister’s statement was published broadcast, and, according to his dictum; he should not hive re-introduced the ques- . tion of conscription.
It was said by Senator Fairbairn that we ought to give Ministers a little time to sit down in their respective Departments and determine what kind of policy they can evolve in order to live up to their self-appointed title of the “ Win-the-war “ Government. The honorable senator stated truly that, as the result of the turmoil in this country, Ministers have not had a chance to sit down in their Departments and devote proper attention to the question of the best kind of legislation and administration for Australia, and the best way » to help the Empire at this crisis. I agree with the honorable senator that they have not had that opportunity, but whose fault is it?_ Who brought about the recent turmoil ? I will name the man that was the principal cause of the recent referendum.
– The Kaiser.
– It was partly the Australian Kaiser - William Morris Hughes - but there was a. super-Kaiser to him, and that was Sir William Irvine. He is the man who forced this Government, to re-introduce the question of conscription. At that man’s door call be laid the blame for the recent turmoil, and for the fact that Ministers had to get round the different States, as we had to do, to conduct the referendum campaign. If honorable senators will search their own souls and speak the truth, they must admit that the question was forced on the Government and the party by Sir William Irvine.
– The honorable senator would not believe us if we denied it.
– Honorable senators opposite have been denying things so often that I have been expecting to hear the cock crow. In view of the statement made by the Prime Minister between the first referendum and the elections of 5th May, there was no necessity to re-introduce the question of conscription. If, ‘therefore, Ministers have not had time to devote to their Ministerial duties the fault lies at the door of Sir William Irvine and of the Prime Minister.
– Then the Russian debacle and the Italian reverse have had nothing to do with iti
– If they had anything to do with it, this Parliament should have been summoned. Surely it has a right to know what the Government are going to do in view of certain reported reverses to the arms of our Allies. The Government may have been in possession of certain facts about the position prior to the’ adjournment of this Parliament about the 26th or 27th September. If the Russian debacle and the Italian reverse were the cause of the re-introduction of the question of conscription, how is it that on the 31st October, in Sydney, the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) said that voluntarism had not failed, that it was the reservoir from which had been drawn’ up to that time about 360,000 men, and why did the Federal Treasurer (Sir John Forrest) say in the Town Hall, Perth, about the beginning of November, to a meeting called to impress upon the Government the necessity of conscription, “ Banish’ conscription from your minds; kill it; it is not necessary; voluntarism is doing all that is wanted “ 1
– I was there, and h’e did not say quite that. He said he was pledged to voluntarism, and that up to then it had not. done badly.
– Accepting that correction, if the Russian debacle and the
Italian reverse were the cause, why did the Minister for Defence say on 31st October that voluntarism had not failed, and why did the Federal Treasurer tell the people of Perth to banish the idea of conscription from their minds?
– What happened first, the Russian affair or Senator Pearce’s statement ?
– The Russian debacle undoubtedly happened first. Both that and the Italian reverse happened before the Minister for Defence and the Treasurer spoke. All this shows that the Government was at sixes and sevens. When tlie Minister for .Defence, in Sydney, said the reservoir of voluntarism had not failed, some one interjected, “It is dry.” “No,” said Senator Pearce, “it is not exhausted yet. We have plenty of men.” Let” honorable senators read his speech as printed in the Sydney papers. That Minister at least should know the position, and when we find him telling the people on 31st October that voluntarism had not failed, and early in November agreeing to the conscription referendum, there must be something radically wrong somewhere. ‘
– There were only 2,700 recruits in October, and we wanted 7,000 per month.
– I am putting in the witness-box the Minister for Defence himself.
– He is not here.
– Even when the Minister is here, he very seldom replies to anything. I am not taking any unfair advantage of his absence, but I cannot wait until he comes back.
– He had no right to get sick.
– If he is sick I am sorry to hear i’t, but when any honorable senator is speaking in public he has to endeavour to buttress his arguments by facts, and it is illogical to say that no man must reply to him in his absence. Honorable senators opposite have ‘ made statements time and again about what Ministers have said when Ministers were not present.
– But you know the voluntary system was not yielding as many men as we asked for. We wanted 7,000 men a month, and under 3,000 were coming in.
– I will deal later with the reason why voluntarism .has not yielded as many men recently as formerly. Voluntarism has not failed. The Prime Minister sa.id on one occasion that Australia was an island of voluntarism in a sea of conscription. I prefer to put it that Australia is an oasis of voluntarism in the desert of conscription. It is the one green spot in the world which has achieved more under the voluntary system than has any other portion of the Allied countries.
– Conscription is a very fruitful desert.
– I repeat that Australia is an oasis of voluntarism in the desert of conscription.
– If the voluntary system produced twice as many men, would it be equitable? That is the question.
– I am speaking in reply to the charge that voluntarism has failed. ° It has not failed in Australia. Upon this question I propose to put into the witness-box another man, who is not present - I refer to the Director-General of Recruiting, Mr. Mackinnon. Here are the statements which, according to the Melbourne Herald, he made on the 4.th January of the present year -
Addressing a recruiting meeting in the luncheon hour at the Town Hall to-day, Mr. Mackinnon, Director-General of Recruiting, scouted the idea that the voluntary system had failed.
– Does that settle it?
– I am not saying that it does, but I am putting into the witness-box men who do not belong to the Labour party. Neither Senator Pearce, nor Sir John Forrest, nor Mr. Mackinnon are members of our party.
– The question of whether voluntarism, is failing or not must be determined by whether it is pro’ducing the recruits which are now required.
– The Herald report continues - “We had during the year 1917,” he said, “.enlisted 46,800 men for the war, an average of 3,900 monthly. We had kept tlie five divisions going in France and about three-quarters of a division in Palestine. The people of Australia were, he thought, weary, sick, dog tired of political and party strife, and it was time that a universal close season in political warfare was proclaimed.”
– There is a lot of sense in that statement, anyhow.
– But if the Prime Minister had been possessed of any sense, he would never have plunged Australia into the turmoil of which Mr. Mackinnon complained. The DirectorGeneral of Recruiting proceeded -
Australia was as patriotic as any part of the Empire, and if the gospel of common-sense in connexion with the recruiting movement was spread amongst the people they would respond.
These are the utterances of a gentleman who has been intrusted with the responsible position of Director-General of Recruiting, and they are in keen contrast with the utterances of the Leader of the Government, and of other gentlemen who dubbed Australians, and those who differed from them, as disloyal Mr. Mackinnon says that Australia is patriotic, and that the voluntary system has not failed. There is independent testimony to rebut the charges which have been hurled against) every honorable senator upon this side of the chamber, and against all those who voted “ No “ on the 20th December last.
– I would attach more importance to Mr. Mackinnon’s statements if they had been made before the taking of the referendum instead of after it.
– If the Minister for Repatriation will instruct his secretary to look up the newspaper files, he will find that, prior to the 20th December last, Mr. Mackinnon made practically the same statement in addressing a midday recruiting meeting at the Town Hall, and that he also made substantially the same statement in other parts of this State and in Adelaide.
– But he was asked to get 7,000 men per month, and he is only getting 2,900. If that is a success on the part of the voluntary system, I have no more to say.
– The present reinforcements do not reach 3,000 per month.
- Senator Newland has said that instead of getting 7,000 recruits per month we are getting only 2,900. I will tell him the reason why.
– Then there is a reason for it - a reason for the failure of the voluntary system?
– I do not admit that the voluntary system has failed. There are any amount of reserves still in
England - men who have never been to the firing line.
– They are men who are getting patched up there.
– To encourage recruiting Isaythat we should increase the soldiers’ pay as has been suggested by the Leader of the Opposition.
– It isa question of money then, and not of loyalty?
– We will find out where the loyalty lies presently. It is true that I supported the measure brought down by a Labour Government which authorized the payment of 6s. per day to our soldiers.
– That was three and a half years ago.
– At that time they were the best-paid soldiers in the world, but shortly afterwards New Zealand paid her troops a slightly higher rate. That 6s. per day would, at the time of which I speak, purchase a certain amount of food. It will not purchase the same quantity of food to-day.
– Does the honorable senator know how much the Americans are paying their troops?
– How much?
– It does not matter what they are paying. I am not concerned with American soldiers, and I am not here to legislate for them.
– They are going to fight our battles.
- Senator Lynch has said that they are going to fight our battles. I am referring to the men who have been fighting our battles for over three years.
– And for whom the honorable senator said that 6s. per day was enough.
– At that time I agreed that it was sufficient.
– Up till this minute.
– I can assure the honorable senator that he is wrong. This is not the first time that I have made the statement that 6s. per day is insufficient. I have made it in Western Australia.
– I am not surprised. The honorable senator will say anything over there.
– Senator Lynch is discourteous. I have given himmy word, and if he will not accept it, I must treat him with the contempt that he deserves. I have said nothing in this Senate of which I am ashamed.
– That is the sorry part of it.
-There is a difference between Senator Millen and Senator Lynch. If I possess no other qualification, at least I claim to be sincere, and I defy Senator Lynch to show that either here or elsewhere I have ever said anything of which I have cause to be ashamed.
– This, is the first time that the honorable senator has advocated in this chamber an increase in the pay of our soldiers.
– 1 will not further pursue the conversation with the honorable senator. The 6s. per day. to which I agreed at the time of which I have spoken, has not the same purchasing power to-day that it had then. Any reasonable man will agree with my statement. During the past three and a half years’ we have had numerous awards by Arbitration Courts and Wages Boards.
– This is a bid for popularity.
– The honorable senator may put his own construction upon the matter. At least I had the courage to champion an unpopular cause, so far as my own State is concerned. During the past three and a-half years the wages of employees have been increased by the tribunals to which I have referred, on account of the increased cost of living. Similarly, the separation allowance and the . amount payable on account of each child that is dependent upon a soldier have been slightly increased. But, on the whole, the soldier’s pay should be increased to compensate for the increased cost of living with which their dependants are confronted.
– Why, the men I took to South Africa enlisted for ls. 2d. per day!
– I am not bothering about antiquity. I wish to legislate for to-day, and for the future, not for the past.
– The honorable senator was quoting the past just now.
– I did so in the hope that, by the exercise of greater wisdom, we may right the wrongs which have been done in the past. Another suggestion which I have to make for the encou ragement of recruiting is that the returned soldier should be treated better that he has been. Many men have returned to Australia whose employers had promised to reinstate them in their former positions. That pledge has not been honoured.
– It has been honoured in many cases, and in some cases it could not be honoured because the businesses in which ‘ the employers were previously engaged have disappeared.
– The cases in which the pledge has not been honoured constitute the rule, and not the exception.
– The honorable senator hears only of the cases in which there has been a breach of faith. He does not hear of those in which the pledge has been kept.
– When the Repatriation Bill was under consideration in this Chamber, Senator Millen was afforded . an opportunity to legislate with a view to compelling employers to keep their promises. Senator McDougall moved an amendment in that direction. But, instead of accepting it, the late Government, of which Senator Millen was a member, appointed a Federal Recruiting Committee, consisting of twelve men, two from each State - men who were representative of both shades of politics in this Chamber - to devise means for stimulating recruiting.. That Committee unanimously carried a recommendation in the direction I have suggested, and forwarded it to the Government.
– But it forgot to show iis how we could give effect to an impracticable proposal.
– That is not an answer to the position which I am putting. The recommendation of the Committee was shelved entirely, and we have heard no more about it from that day to this. That Recruiting Committee was appointed to suggest to the Government ways and means to popularize recruiting. Yet, when this very sensible recommendation was made to the Ministry, no action was taken in respect of it. Then7 again, the Government might with advantage turn their attention to rack-renting landlords. I refer to the rack-renting landlords who have increased the rent of the home in which the soldier lived prior to leaving Australia, and from which, in some instances, his wife and children have since been evicted. These are some of the ways’’ in which recruiting might be greatly stimulated. If the Government took the requisite action, we should get more than 7,000 recruits monthly. But when an eligible sees the treatment that is being meted out to our returned soldiers, he naturally exclaims, “ I wonder what would happen to me if It enlisted, and if I were spared to come back to Australia. What will happen to my dependants while I am away?” These things are a great deterrent to enlistment.
– There is no justification for them.
– There is no justification for the fact that at the present time there are 5,000 returned soldiers in Australia who are without employment.
– It has been argued that, just as the Labour party has held that none should enjoy the benefits that have been won by unionism except the members of unions, and that preference should therefore be given to unionists, so all should he made to help to secure the protection for which we are taking part in this war. A trade union taxes every man according to his ability to contribute. But in this war the wealthy are escaping their fair responsibility of taxation.
– Every member of a trade union pays the same fee.
– But every member of the community does not pay the same amount of taxation. Senator Henderson and I pay our taxes, but what about the wealthy, who are not paying what they should be paying?
– Some of them are paying as much as 10s. 3d. in the £1.
– Can Senator Needham give an , instance in which wealthy persons are not paying at all?
– Under the war-time profits tax many persons are escaping taxation. That tax is inequitable. Wealthy professional men, in particular, are escaping their fair share of taxation.
– The majority of the electors are exempt from direct taxation.
– I am referring to war taxation. In borrowing for the prosecution of the war, we offer interest at the rate of 4£ per cent, per annum, together with freedom from taxation by
Federal or State authorities. I supported that arrangement in connexion with the first war loan, but I have ever since opposed it, and will continue to do so, believing it to be wrong.
– Suppose money is not to be obtained under other conditions.
– That would show how little patriotism there is among the wealthy.
– Is the honorable senator sure that the money is in the country?
- Mr. Lloyd George said that we must “go on or go under.”
– Was the honorable senator’s change of opinion regarding the terms of the war loans synchronous with the split that occurred in the Labour party? x
– No, it occurred prior to that. The original intention was not to borrow more than £20,000,000 under the conditions I have named.. We should not exempt war : loan investments from taxation; in this view I am supported by the Chairman of Directors of the National Bank of Australasia Limited. The bank’s Board of Directors consists of Sir John Grice, chairman ; and Messrs. Edward Trenchard, Hugh M. Strachan, and J. Newman Barker. In moving the adoption of its report for the last half year, the chairman pointed out that the bank’s deposits amounted to £12,445,000, or £650,000 more than in March last, and he went on to say -
Leaving now my references to the figures in the balance-sheet before you - in addition to the bank’s subscriptions in London to various British Government issues for war purposes, it may interest you to know that the bank has, in common with other Australian banks, supported liberally the war loans issued by the Federal Government.
Now this reference to the Australian war loans brings under consideration a very important matter, which, in the opinion of this Board, must most seriously affect future taxation in Australia. Business people have been discussing whether the time has not arrived for a reconsideration of the interest terms’ of these loans, and, in view of what seems their very far-caching ‘ results, we, your directors, deem it our duty to place before you our wellconsidered opinion. . . .
Including the present issue of £20,000.000, the Commonwealth war loans, apart from those issued in London, amount to £100.000,000, and we are told by the Treasurer that another £40,000,000 must be subscribed within the financial year, thus making a total of £140,000,000, all of which (if the present system is pursued for the remaining £40,000,000) will be capital removed from the area of Australian taxation. Whilst considering this question, there must also be remembered the State borrowings in Australia, the interest on which has a similar immunity from the obligation of contributing to the expenses of the Commonwealth.
It is, of course, known generally, though not perhaps in detail, that the immunity thus afforded benefits chiefly the wealthy class, whose incomes, if derived from other invest- - ments, would be liable to be taxed on the higher scale, and that the wealthier the individual the greater the advantage gained by investments in the war loans, or in State Government loans.
There is therefore this anomaly, the Commonwealth Government declares with one voice that graduated taxation (which means the wealthier the taxpayers the higher the tax) is equitable, and most people in these days of war and high prices, even those paying taxes on the higher rate, agree with these views, provided they are not carried to extremes, and that the lower incomes also pay a moderate amount of taxation. The other Government voice, speaking in regard to the war loan, virtually says: “There shall be no graduated taxation in regard to this form of investment.” This second decision makes the war loan at 44 per cent., with exemption from taxation, a splendid investment for the very rich investor, for, though he would be quite willing to be patriotic and to make sacrifices in such times as these in order to help his country, no sacrifices are asked from him. On the other hand, the investment is not equally good for those with only a modest amount of capital. It will make my remarks clearer if I go a little into detail and give the varying returns of respective income.
A tabulated statement beside me shows that to persons residing in Victoria investments in the war loan, with exemption from taxation, compare with an investment on mortgage subject to both Federal and State taxation, as follows: -
To an investor -with £500 per annum, the 4i per cent war loan is equal to £4 14s. 6d., or nearly 4 per cent, received from interest on mortgage.
To an investor with £1,000 per annum the equivalent of £4 19s. 2d., or nearly 5 per cent.
To an investor with £3,000 per annum, £5 10s. 5d., or just over 5i per cent.
To an investor with £5,500 per annum, £6 0s. 8d., just over (J per cent.
To an investor with £10,000 per annum, £6 0s. 9d., say, 6* per cent.
And by the time we reach a man with £30,000 per annum, it is equivalent to £6 18s. 4d., or nearly 7 per cent. ^
– The big subscribers to the war loans have been largely corporate institutions, such as insurance societies, in which very many persons are interested.
– A number of wealthy individuals have also subscribed largely. In a war, equality of sacrifice is not possible. Nothing can compensate a woman for the death of her son or her husband, but there might be a better apportionment of responsibility. We heard something about shirkers during the recent campaign, this term having been applied to the young manhood of Australia that had not enlisted. I admit there are shirkers in our community, but they are not to be found among the fighting manhood of Australia, and particularly among the manhood of Western Australia. They have to be looked for amongst the wealthy people of the Western and other States, as I intend to show presently by quoting some figures relating to the loan subscriptions. Last year, when the Treasurer (Sir John Forrest) floated his Liberty Loan,’ aeroplanes were flying over Melbourne dropping pamphlets asking the people to take up Liberty bonds, and I remind the Senate that when war broke out there was no need then for aeroplanes to fly over Melbourne or other places to urge the young men of Australia to go to the assistance of the Mother Country. They volunteered at once, and unconditionally. They did not ask what they were going to get in the way of pay, but it has been necessary to appeal in this way to the wealthy patriots of this country in order to get money to equip and feed these men and transport them overseas. The Liberty Loan was subscribed to in the different States as follows: - Victoria, £8,401,010; New South Wales, £7,937,750; Queensland, £1,584,680; South Australia, £1,393,606; Tasmania, £394,270; Western Australia, £294,240. The wealthy men of even little Tasmania beat the wealthy men of Western Australia.
– The honorable senator knows that is an absolutely unfair statement to make.
– Wherein lies the unfairness? I am merely quoting figures supplied by the Commonwealth Treasury.
– State the whole truth.
– What is it then ?
– I will tell the Senate later.
– I deny the right of the honorable senator to call me a liar, though, not in so many words. I have merely quoted figures supplied by the Commonwealth Treasury, and if the statement is in any way unfair, the fault lies with the Treasury Department, and not with me. These figures show that Tasmania provided £394,270 for the Liberty Loan and Western Australia £294,240.
– Yes; and the deduction is that Western Australia has not done its duty.
– I should think so.
– I am not going to be placed in a false position by the honorable senator. I have not said that Western Australia has not done its duty.
– What is the honorable senator talking about then ?
– The honorable senator has just come into the chamber, so, apparently, I must repeat what I have said for his special edification. My statement was .that the wealthy men of Western Australia had not done their duty. Can he or Senator Henderson deny the figures?
– We will do it.
– Then the honorable senator must contradict the statement supplied by Treasury officials.
– Not necessarily.
– Roughly speaking, the figures I have quoted work out per head of population as follows : - Victoria, £4 10s. ; New South Wales, £4; Queensland”, £2 15s.; .South Australia, £2; Tasmania, £2; Western Australia, 18s. 6d.
– I come now to the figures dealing with the contribution of the manhood of all the States. Western Australia has furnished thirty odd thousand fighting men, or practically one-half of her manhood, and in that respect has done better than any other State. Am I stating the case unfairly now ?
– That is absolutely correct.
– I have never attempted to put the case in any other way.
– But the honorable senator was trying to run his bayonet through the empty money-bags.
– I repeat that while the manhood of Western Australia has done better than any other State of the Commonwealth in this war, the wealthy men of that State have not followed that good example. Let me now give the figures relating to the voting in connexion with the 1916 referendum -
– The honorable senator was the leader of anti-conscriptionists over there. Is he proud of his work?
– Yes, particularly during the last referendum, for we then managed to gain from the conscriptionists of Western Australia some 18,000 votes, so we are progressing, if slowly. That is my reply to Senator Lynch. My point is that, although Western Australia on 28th October. 1916, gave the largest majority of “Yes” votes, the wealthy men of that State contributed less than any other State to the Liberty Loan, issued for the purpose of clothing, transporting, and maintaining our men in the fighting line.
– Would it not be fair if the honorable senator quoted the subscriptions to the other loans? Why has he singled out one loan for his comparison ?
– I am only speaking of the Liberty Loan.
– It might suit the honorable senator’s book to do that.
– I was not thinking about that at all. I used this statement during the recent campaign, and as I have said, the figures are not mine at all, but were supplied by the Commonwealth Treasury in the one case, and the Electoral Department in the other.
I should like now to direct attention to a statement made by the Minister for Defence in New Zealand, a conscript country, to the effect that no drafts from New Zealand were to be sent to the Front during December of last year and January this year. The original draft of 2,500 per month has also been cut down to 1,900 per month. We must presume that the New Zealand Government get the same advice as the Commonwealth Government from the Imperial authorities in regard to war matters; and if it is absolutely imperative that we should provide 7,000 men per month by conscription, according to the doctrines of our friends opposite, will they explain why New Zealand has not been sending any drafts at all in December and during this month?
– Perhaps it is because of the shipping difficulties.
– Then if New Zealand is faced with trouble in regard to shipping, we must be in the same position, for we have wheat rotting on our shores because we cannot transport it to England, where there are meatless days, and where, as the Food Controller now states, the food bullet is much more valuable than the silver bullet.
– We must not forget that the human bullet, to use a Japanese term, is also required.
– I admit that, but the men are there.
I want now to quote a statement made by the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Joseph Cook) in connexion with conscription. When speaking in Sydney on the 20th October last year, the Minister said -
All things considered, Australia has done well in enlisting 40,000 men in twelve months. It is doubtful if Australia can supply many more troops than this annually, even with conscription, without risk of a serious collapse.
What did the Minister mean by that? He must have meant, of course, that up to the 20th October, the voluntary system was doing all that was expected of it, although honorable senators opposite are trying to make out that it has failed. If the conscription proposals of the Government had been carried at the last referendum, we would have sent overseas 84,000 men a year, although the Minister for the Navy said that we could not send more than 40,000 without risking a serious collapse. He did not mean, of course, a collapse of British arms or the arms of the Allies. Nothing was further from his thoughts. There was, however, a danger of a, collapse in the industrial world if we sent abroad men who should be engaged in production to supply food for troops overseas.
– But we cannot get it there.
– For the same reason we could not get greater numbers of troops there.
Let me now refer to the financial position. It is remarkable that although seven months of the financial year have passed, up till now we have not had any real financial statement showing how the Commonwealth stands. We have been told that the Government have entered into a contract to build ships in America, but we have not been informed how much they will cost, when they will be built, or the conditions under which the work is to be undertaken. Parliament should have this information.
– Is the honorable senator referring to the fourteen wooden ships ordered in America?
– Yes. Parliament should be supplied with the fullest information concerning the contract before this Supply Bill is passed. Again, there has been vast delay in starting the shipbuilding industry in Australia. I shall not labour the question. There has already been too much talk concerning the project, while nothing has been done. The Prime Minister stated recently that he had consulted with the different unions with the object of ascertaining the prospects of the industry in Australia. He could best have learnt what he wanted to know by at once proceeding to establish the industry.
– Did not the honorable senator hear the answer given to a question put yesterday in regard to the progress made with the shipbuilding project?
– I did. My complaint is that we are no further forward. Not a keel has yet been ‘ laid. Had prompt action been taken we should by now have had two or three vessels launched. We have the men, the material, and the money.
– Where, - for instance, could we have got the necessary engines ?
– In the very State of which the honorable senator is a representative.
– Not marine engines.
– Even if we could not obtain in Australia the marine engines we required, there is no reason why. we should not have completed by now the hulls of several vessels.
Let me make now a very brief reference to the Commonwealth police force which was established as the result of the battle of Warwick. The only missile fired in that battle, I believe, was a rotten egg, and, in the words of Mr. Anstey, “ Out of a rotten egg has sprung the Commonwealth police force.” If such a force was necessary, it should have been established on 27th October, 1916, when at Albany a band of about 1,500 New Zealand conscript soldiers was let loose and charged my humble self. Rotten eggs were thrown then, but we heard no talk of establishing -a Commonwealth police force to protect a little chap like me. But because another little fellow, Mr. Hughes, while spending twenty minutes on the Warwick railway station, had a rotten egg thrown at him, this force was established. The creation of such a force is one of the greatest farces in modern history. I am surprised that honorable senators opposite should be prepared to support such, an administrative act on the part of their famous leader, before whom Senator Earle last night practically knelt down and expressed his adoration of him.
– A leader whom the honorable senator himself followed for years.
– While he was on the right track. I had no hesitation in striking out for myself when he loft that track.
– The honorable senator was frightened to leave the old track.
– I do not know what fear is. It has been said that if the Government of Australia were handed over to the Commonwealth Labour party we should be governed by outside Labour organizations. I saw in the press the other day a report of a meeting of the Grand Council of tlie National Federation of New South Wales, at which a motion calling upon Mr. Hughes to resign the leadership of his party was moved. It was further reported that Messrs. Holman and Hall led the attack, but that at the request of Mr. Cook tlie matter was adjourned until a Federal Minister could be present. There we had an attempt on the part of an outside organization to control the National Government and its leader. And yet we are told that if the administration of the affairs of the country were handed over to the Labour party the Government would be controlled by outside Labour organizations. As to the attack made on Mr. Hughes by Mr. Holman and Mr. Hall, I can only say that it is the most contemptible of which I have ever heard. Messrs. Holman and Hall were Mr.
Hughes’ confreres during all the stormy times1 of . the referendum, and had he been victorious on 20th December they would have revelled in his glory. I dare say they would have knelt down and worshipped him; but, since he was not victorious, these supposedly trustworthy lieutenants of his now turn upon him, kick him, and, in short, “ put the boot into him,” when he is going down hill.
– Your own action, exactly !
– Since Mr. Hughes and I parted company, I have fought him openly, candidly, and straightforwardly. I have never been in his counsels since then, whereas Mr. Holman and Mr. Hall were closeted with him from time to time, and planned the conscription campaign. When the Government proposals were turned down on 20th December, they turned upon the Prime Minister, and, so to speak, kicked him. I have been a candid and straightforward opponent of Mr. Hughes from the time I refused to follow his leadership.
– The honorable senator has never made a speech in this Senate without abusing him.
– If the honorable senator means by “abuse” “ criticism,” then he is right. While Mr. Hughes was the leader of my party, I followed him; since he has not been my leader, I have criticised him.
I note the desire of the new Government ito get into recess, in order to use the bludgeon of the War Precautions Act, and to govern Australia by regulation. The Prime Minister, speaking in another place, offered to stand aside if this party would join with the Nationalists in forming an Administration. To-day, however, the Leader of the National party in this House, in answer to a question put to him by the Leader of the Opposition, made a reply refusing any offer at all. The Prime Minister’s offer was not sincere. I heard him make it, but when I read the Hansard report of his speech I did not recognise it.
We have been asked what our war policy is. Our war policy is well known. It was circulated throughout the length and breadth of this young nation during the election campaign of May, 1917.
– The Labour party’s war policy is to send Home a cable message urging peace.
– Our war policy in May, 1917, was published to the electors, who rejected it in favour of that put forward by the Nationalist party. The electors left it to that party to aid in winning the war. It has been in office since May,- 1917, and we know what it has done towards carrying out a Winthewar policy. In conclusion, I can only say that the Government might have adopted a wiser course if, instead of hurrying into recess, they had proposed to keep Parliament in session, to bring in war measures, and to invite the assistance of all parties in Parliament in helping, not only Australia, but the whole Empire in the present great crisis.
– The Bill now before us is one to grant and apply out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund a certain sum for the services of the year ending 30th June next, and I understand that, in discussing such a measure, it is the privilege of honorable senators to wander from Dan to Beersheba.- In other words, on the motion for the first reading of a Supply Bill, it is open to us to discuss anything under the sun. I have listened for some time to the criticism of . the “Opposition as to what has occurred during the last three months. I recognise that, under our Constitution, it is the privilege of His Majesty’s Opposition to oppose. It is also the duty of His Majesty’s Opposition to criticise. But it seems to me that, in these perilous, parlous times, something more is required from supporters of the National Government on this side, and opponents of the National Government sitting on the other side. My honorable friend, Senator Needham, referred to the circumstances surrounding the recent reference of the principle of universal military .service to the people. I occupy a somewhat unique position in the Senate, inasmuch as owing to my absence from Australia I have been out of the turmoil of the last three months. I left Australia on the 24th October last with the full knowledge and acquiescence of my leader in the Senate and the Prime Minister. If honorable senators will throw back their memories they will admit that the war situation at that time appeared to be fairly and reasonably satisfactory. There did not seem to be on the horizon such a cloud as that which developed within the next few weeks. The pledge I gave as a Na tionalist to the electors of New South Wales was an indorsement of that given by the Prime Minister at Bendigo that neither by legislative enactment nor parliamentary procedure would conscription be brought in over the heads of the people, but that, should the position of the war become unsatisfactory, should we have an unexpectedly grave reverse, or should the position become very different from what it then was, the whole matter would have to be reconsidered. In the course of that reconsideration, it was said, it might be deemed reasonable and proper to again put the issue’ to the people. My honorable, friend quoted a speech made by Senator Pearce in Sydney on 31st October, in which he stated that the voluntary system was not up to that time unsatisfactory, and, by implication, gave the people to understand that the issue of conscription was not even on the horizon. I would remind Senator Needham that during the first week of November the whole position changed. A nervous people were waiting news of what eventually turned out to be a great Italian debacle. Closely following that, despite the hopes we had in Kerensky, Korniloff, and Kaledin, there was again revolution in Russia - a revolution which most of us believed would mean ultimate chaos and a separate peace with Germany.
These, then, are the reasons why a reconsideration of the position was necessary. And unless the National Government had reconsidered the position in view of these changed circumstances they would not have kept the pledge which Mr. Hughes gave at Bendigo, and which I, together with every member of the National party, gave to the electors. In these circumstances, I think the Government were quite justified in again submitting the question to the arbitrament of the sovereign electors. But for the fact that two cables sent to me in Java went wrong, I should have returned to Australia and supported to the utmost of my ability the position the Government took up. I am, and have been for many years, a consistent believer in universal military service. I hail with a good deal of satisfaction the fact that, owing to the support of my honorable friends on the other side, and of my friends on this side, now members of the National party, we have on the statute-book to-day the principle of compulsory military service in Australia. It is the only fair service, the only fair course; and when the destinies of the nations are at stake I see nothing wrong in again asking the people to vote upon the question. I regret very much the result of that vote. I may say, however, that I have never been enthusiastic in regard to putting the question a second time. I hold the view - and I was quite frank about it last session - that the difference of a few thousand volunteers a month was not worth the risk of all the acrimony, turmoil, ‘and dissension that, to my regret, arose last December. However, it is very easy to criticise after the event - we are all wise then. I am sure that most honorable senators on both sides extremely regretted the acrimony and turmoil during the last referendum. But speaking as a member of the National party, so far as I am concerned any further attempt to conscript the people of Australia for service outside the Commonwealth will have my opposition. The matter should be regarded as settled; the fears of some people should be allayed, and a very clear and early pronouncement made by the Government that the last referendum is regarded as settling the question, so that the way may be opened towards some sort of national unity in the menace that we have to face.
I am much interested in the enlistment figures that, were quoted by the Leader of the Opposition - Senator Gardiner. Speaking from memory, those figures put the position, so far as tlie enlistment of single men in Australia is concerned, in a very favorable light. In this Senate, while quibbling over a good many irrelevant issues1, we have heard but little talk of what is going on in the world. “We know that there is a war in progress, and that it has been going on for three and a half years; and we know that it is a war the like of which this world has never seen. It is not only a war of soldiers and sailors - of munitions and military operations ; it is a war in the air, on the water, under the water, on the land, and under the land - it is a war of organization, of industries, money, metals, and food. And, in spite of our inablity to send many more soldiers to the fighting front, there yet remains power amongst the people left in Australia to help, and in some way fur ther the interests of the Empire and the cause of our Allies.
– How many more men does the honorable senator think we should send?
– All that will go - all that we can send ; we cannot do too much or send too many in these parlous days. We are not permitted, and we have not been permitted owing to the censorship and other military regulations, both in Europe and here, to see very far behind the veil. There are, however, glimmerings of serious unrest in the Democracies of Germany and Austria. We know that the effect of the Russian revolution has practically put Russia out of the war. We do not know very much, even yet, about what America is going to do. I should like to repeat that question which Avas asked in the House of Commons last Friday by Mr. Hogge - What is America going to do, and when is she going to do it?
– Some of the greatest critics say that America would not be able to do much until 1919.
– We know that the Motherland is practically _ bearing the larger portion of the burden of the war, in men, money, and munitions. Britain is straining every nerve, not only to help our Allies, but to beat .back an impending assault from the combined German and Austrian armies that may yet change the destinies of the Empire. These are tlie thoughts that have been going through my mind in the course of my return to Australia in considering our position in connexion with the war. At the time the referendum was decided upon no day in the history of the war since the retreat from Mons had been blacker than that which saw the Italian debacle and the Russian counter revolution.
Something has been said about the percentages of manhood engaged in actual military and naval services. The figures show, approximately, that France has 15 per cent, of her manhood engaged, while Britain has 13 per cent. , and also millions of men and women making munitions for herself and her Allies. The Australian figures show, approximately, that we have enlisted 8 per cent, of our population for military and naval services, that 6^ per cent, of that 8 per cent, has gone overseas. I do not think it will be contradicted by any of the Allied nations engaged in the war that the quality of the men we have sent Home has not been exceeded in any regiment of any nation at any time. Our men have proved themselves, if at times bad soldiers, always good ‘fighters. All these men have been equipped in Australia, from top to toe, in a way that is a credit to this country. We have transported these men 12,000 miles oversea, and I am sure that very few of us four years ago would have credited that Australia could have sent 300,000 soldiers to Europe - an army that exceeded the British Army that was sent to South Africa some years ago - and could have raised £150,000,000 for war purposes. In addition we have produced enormous quantities of wheat, wool, meat, and metals, all very necessary commodities in helping to carry on the war. I do not think there is a member of the Senate, or of another place, but who will willingly admit that Australia has done well.
– A great many of the honorable senator’s party say that Australia has not done enough, while many more say that we have done nothing.
– Australia, as I say, has done a very fair proportion, but I do not think that! Australia, Canada, England, or any part of the Empire, or of the civilized world, can do too much in view of the menace before us. It would seem that, after three and a half years of conflict - after the spur that war has given to science and invention, after the sufferings that “the fighters and the workers have endured - there is a very changed feeling running throughout the world with regard to war and matters pertaining to war. It is clear that, if we approach peace at all during the next few months, it will be a. peace by understanding, and that, if a peace by understanding is made, Australia may not retain German New Guinea. It is clear that - shall I say? - the jingoes, from a military or naval point of view, may not achieve all they would like, or all th-év have laid down as desirable, and there is surging up through the Democracies of the whole world a feeling about the fatuity of the struggle. There is surging up, in the Democracies of Europe, as well as in the Democracies of Anglo-Saxondom, a feeling that, in view of the sacrifices and of the fatuity of the military operations, war should never again be possible. Once’ an honorable peace is achieved it will, I believe, usher in an era of better understanding and greater appreciation of the benefits of peace. All persons who value the preservation of civilization will be found prepared to do everything and anything at the present juncture to get rid of war for all time.
I appeal to honorable senators opposite to, if possible, bury the past. I know that the temptations of party criticism are very keen, and that it is their constitutional duty to oppose; but it seems to me, in the present parlous condition of the world’s affairs, that the time has come to sink all minor differences, and, at least for a season, try to so help the Empire in the war as to achieve a permanent peace. When we reflect that this country of ours contains 3,000,000 square miles, and is held by only 5,000,000 people, it must be clearly evident that we have other problems to consider. I have had the privilege and pleasure of visiting the East, or what is known as the East, a good many times. I know something about the various nationalities inhabitating the territories from Tokio to the littoral of the Red Sea. I know something about the 400,000,000 industrious Chinese who are being crowded in their country, and are still increasing. I know something of the 300,000,000 Indians within the Empire, and it was somewhat of a surprise to me to hear, a month or two ago, from very authentic sources, that whispers are circulating in the bazaars of the over-populated East that there is a big, empty, desirable land to the south. This war is beginning to set up the principle that the nations who hold must use, and in this regard I have paid some attention to what has been called by newspaper writers “ the shadow of a developing Asia.” It may be news to honorable senators that, whilst we in Australia have been talking about shipbuilding, Chinese capital in Singapore has nearly completed two 3,000-ton wooden vessels, which are being equipped with auxiliary motor engines, and in two or three months will be on the water earning dividends for their owners. It may be news to honorable senators that many Chinese, who ten years ago were hewers of wood and drawers of water, and were earning perhaps 9d. per day, have become to-day, by a short course of training, clever artificers, who are able to handle the most complicated electrical, steam, or hydraulic machinery. The knowledge of the East with regard to industrial matters is very rapidly advancing. Cotton mills, iron works, and very many of the larger and more important basic industries of civilization, are being developed there; and I remind the Senate that one of Australia’s many problems is how, in the face of the awakening Orient, we can preserve this great empty land for our own kith and kin. During the recess upon which we are about to enter, it will be the duty and responsibility of the National Government to endeavour to do something towards the solution of these problems.-
Senator Needham stated that the rich men of Western Australia have not contributed in fair proportion to the Liberty Loan. I hold that one of the most, if not the most, important question connected with the future of Australia is finance. Neither this Government, nor any Government that has been in office since the outbreak of the war, has grappled with this question as it should have done. Looming ahead of us is a war debt, of, probably, from £150,000,000 to £200,000,000 sterling. It may be heresy .to say so, but I believe the time is coming when we shall have to consider compulsion with regard to subscriptions to the war loan. If we wish to keep our financial sanity, we shall require to evolve a practical method of paying off our war debt within a reasonable time, instead of placing the whole of. the burden on the shoulders of posterity. I see no solution of the problem except a compulsory levy on wealth for the purpose of paying our war debt. It would be infinitely preferable to bravely realize what the financial future is to be, and to make provision for it, than to have always before us the spectre of additional and crushing taxation in order to pay interest and small sinking funds in connexion with our national debt. I believe that the bulk of the people who have money would much prefer a wealth levy spread over a number of years, and with proper restrictions and limitations on future Governments with regard to taxation. T noticed that recently Mr. Bonar Law stated that it might be necessary to do something of that sort in Great Britain. At all events, the financial problem must be faced, and I hope the Ministry will take it seriously into consideration during the coming recess.
I am entirely in agreement with Senator Needham in regard to the present position of the war loans. Whatever might be said in the early stages of the war when we were faced with the unknown, and in our optimistic Australian way thought the crisis would soon be over, regarding the advisability of issuing war loans bearing 4^ per cent, interest, and free of State and Federal income tax, the time has gone by when we can continue that policy. Owing to the length of the war, and the enormous expenditure it has necessitated, these 4£ per cent, war loans, if continued, will be the best investment in the world for the rich man. The British Government has partly faced the problem by issuing a recent loan that’ carried interest at 4 per cent, free of income taxation, or 5 per cent, with income taxation. . I repeat that it is the duty of the Government to take into earnest consideration the whole financial position and outlook.
I should like to say a few words in regard to the Northern Territory. I have placed on the notice-paper some questions which have not yet been answered, but I think the facts will show that, instead of the Northern Territory being the Cinderella of Australia, it has during the last six or seven years under Commonwealth administration gone from bad to worse. It seems to be an ulcer in the body politic. We are spending now, practically in interest and losses, nearly half-a-million pounds per annum, and the net result seems to have been an increase in population of from 2,000 to 4,000, the new arrivals being principally Patagonians, Greeks, Russians, and other aliens, who came to Australia temporarily at the invitation of the Government, and will return to their homes as soon as their work is finished. I believe, too, that a sum approximating £13,000 to £15,000 per annum has been spent on the Lands and Agricultural Department over a number of years, and the net result of that expenditure is that there are. only ten farmers on the land. lt would have been infinitely cheaper for the Commonwealth to have given each of those farmers a bonus of £1,000, or even £5,000, not to go to the Territory. In that land, where one cannot wear a starched collar for more than a month or two in the year, there are other administrative evils. The State hotels are a disgrace to the Government.
– Vestey Brothers have spent upwards of £1,000,009 there.
– I am perfectly aware of what Vestey Brothers are doing. They have spent in the Territory approximately three-quarters of a million pounds on big meat works, the expenditure having been half-a-million more than their estimate on account of the unique conditions existing. Of course, it is easy to criticise and pull down, but at this time we ought to attempt to do a little building up. Suggestions have been made that instead of the present Commonwealth control and centralization in Melbourne - instead of having the Territory administered from various capitals by various organizations - for instance, the Customs Department and the Defence Department are controlled from Brisbane, the Post Office from Adelaide, and Naval Defence from Melbourne - there should be formed a council on the lines of the executive body in a British Crown possession, consisting- of nominees of the Government and various other interests. At any rate, if the principle of home rule is believed in, the sooner we apply it to the Northern Territory the better for Australia. Rather than allow the present unsatisfactory state of affairs to continue, I would suggest that the Commonwealth should open up negotiations with the Queensland Government for that State to take over control of the Territory in some way.
– The Queensland Government has too much to do already.
– Queensland is the only State that has been able to successfully govern and develop tropical territory. Another point in favour of this suggestion is that the shortest way to connect the Territory with the other States and the eastern seaboard is by means of a railway through Camooweal. We must face the problem of utilizing the Territory in the light of developments in the East, and it is the duty of this Parliament to deal with it at once.
In regard to the Defence Department, there is being expended bv that organization annually from £60,000,000 to £70,000,000, and there are no checks and no reports.
– That is not so.
– Will the honorable senator tell me where that money is going? Will he show me those details in any returns placed on the table of the Senate ?
– A Committee is now inquiring into the administration of the Department.
– From time to time we have had business Committees inquiring into matters concerning the Defence Department, but nothing has been done.- No member of Parliament in the rank and file knows what has been done.
– The pigeon-holing of that Committee’s reports is a scandal.
– One grave fault of the Defence Department has been the omission to co-opt some of the business men of Australia in order to help in its organization. It has been recognised in England, though somewhat tardily, that the war organization should be divided into two parts - that fighting men should take charge of the. fighting operations, and that questions concerning the commissariat of the Army, transport, and the supply of munitions are matters that business men are peculiarly fitted to control. That Mr. Lloyd George has accepted this principle is shown by many of the appointments that he has made during the last twelve months. It is late now for us to follow his example, but better late than never. I consider that the Defence Department should co-opt some of the business brains and instincts of Australia rather than leave the square pegs in round holes and round pegs in square holes we see all over Australia.
The Prime Minister’s Department seems to me to be overweighted. Those who have been brought into contact with its many and varied operations are quite assured that the Prime Minister, enthusiastic and able as he is, is overweighted with the work of controlling them’. In that direction, also, we should have the co-operation of business men.
– So we have on the Shipping Board, on the Coal Board, on the Metal Exchange, and in other directions.
– A writer once said that all great events take place in the imagination. I believe that, after these great events have been imagined, success can only be achieved by an infinite capacity to take pains.
– It is all very fine to throw phrases like that about for the benefit of the public. Let. the honorable senator be specific as to what has gone wrong.
– I can give a specific case that took place last week. A gentleman was appointed in order to enforce greater economy in the matter of foodstuffs consumed in the Engineers’ Camp at Moore Park. Some of the men in the camp get leave every night to go away andhave their meals elsewhere, and heads are counted every night so that the cook may not provide more food than is necessary. Yet on the rifle ranges which these men use there were thirty loaves of bread and two dozen tins of jam left lying about last week for any one to pick up.
– That has nothing to do with the lack of men in the Prime Minister’s Department.
– We know nothing about the Commonwealth ships. We do not know where they are, or what freight they are getting.
– I am just reading a leading article commenting on the fact that we have published our freight rate to the world as £7 10s. per ton, whereas the ruling rate in the open market is £11 10s. per ton.
– I have complained previously that these vessels are steaming all over the world, and are not being put to the use for which they were bought.
– That statement is not true. If you ask for information we will be pleased to supply it.
– I will ask for information regarding those vessels. There are other matters upon which certain members of our party are not satisfied.
I am simply saying now, in a spirit of kindliness, that this is the kind of work that lies nearest to the hand of the National Government and the National Parliament. We have just passed through a time of turmoil, but there are two years before us in which we can do good, solid work for the nation and the Empire. There is a responsibility on the National Government to do that work and to deal with the various problems that will crop up from time to time. I do not wish to weary the Senate with further criticisms on this Supply Bill, but honorable senators have the right to express their opinions. There are very big problems to be dealt with by the Defence Department, the Home and Territories Department, and the Treasury. Things are not altogether as satisfactory as they might be, looking to the future as well as at the present. We must not allow matters to drift. I believe that with the passing of Old Father Time things will settle down again, and we shall realize that it is not profitable to be continually bickering or criticising, and that it is our duty, as representatives of the people, to help win the war, to help the Empire, and to help Australia.
– I was rather interested in the reference of the last speaker to the introduction of Patagonians into the Northern Territory because it brought to my mind the occasion on which I protested in this chamber that opportunity was not offered to the people of Northern Queensland to work on the railway construction in the Northern Territory. We could have got 500 Australians or Queenslanders to work on that railway at the same rates and under the same favorable conditions as were offered to the Patagonians.
Senator Needham made reference to the inactivity displayed in regard to shipbuilding. Some of my colleagues from Queensland seemed to doubt the honorable senator’s statements ; but, for their benefit, I may mention that I have it on unimpeachable authority that Walker’s Limited in Queensland have been prepared during the last six or seven months to lay down the keels of three vessels of 3,000 tons each. They built ships many years ago, and they are ready to make a start again straightway. I realize that the Government cannot undertake to do all these things at very short notice, but I feel that shipbuilding should have been begun in Australia before this.
– Where could we have got the steel plates?
– Walker’s Limited always have a supply of steel on hand, and seeing that boats are constantly going backwards and forwards, plates could have been obtained from America.
– Yes, at a price. It is now possible to get them, because the American Government has fixed the price of steel plates for Australia at the same rates as are fixed for America.
– These interjections show what a good thing it would be if the Minister would give the Senate some information in regard to these matters.
– We are getting it in dribs and drabs.
– Can Walker’s Limited build marine engines?
– I am not prepared to say that they can do so, but the engines could have been got from America. Work on the vessels could have been commenced in the meantime.
Senator Fairbairn hoped that Parliament would go into recess as quickly as possible, and remain in recess for some, length of time, in order that the Government might have the opportunity to formulate a settled policy, particularly in regard to the war. I was amused at his words.
– The Government have been in recess ever since the elections.
– I have searched Hansard in order to find the record of the Governments led by Mr. Hughes, including the Ministry behind which members of the Labour party sat. Mr. Hughes was appointed Prime Minister on. the 27th October, 1915. Parliament then met, and remained in session, for two weeks and two days, and adjourned on the 12th November, 1915, for six months. Anticipating a question that might come from some people - “ Why did you not object then ? “ - let me say that I did object. When it was proposed to adjourn for six months, or some unstipulated period, in order to allow Mr. Hughes to go on what I considered a self-invited trip to Great Britain, I took strong exception to it in this Chamber. However, Parliament was in recess for six months. It met again on 9th May, 1916, sat for fourteen days, and adjourned on the 23rd May for three months and one week. It was called together on the 30th August, 1916, sat for four weeks and four days, and adjourned on the 3rd October for one month three weeks and one day. It was called together again on the 29th November, 1916, sat for three weeks, and adjourned on the 20th December for one month and three weeks. It met again on the Sth February, 1917, sat for seven days, and adjourned for seven days. It met again on the 22nd February, 1917,. sat for three weeks and three days, and adjourned on the 16th March for three months three weeks and three days. Meeting again on the 14th June, 1917, it sat for one day, and adjourned for one month and six days. Meeting again on 11th July, 1917, it sat for two months and. ten days, and adjourned on the 26th September for three months and two weeks. Meeting on the 9 th January of this year it sat for one minute, and adjourned for a week and a day. It is now sitting intermittently, and the Supply Bill before us intimates that we are to adjourn immediately until the middle of April. After sitting for two or three weeks, weadjourn for three months. I ‘am dealingwith lunar months; it is appropriate when referring to the Prime Minister. When we meet again, Parliament will’ have been in session for seven lunar months out of thirty-one months since Mr.( Hughes became Prime Minister, and will have been in recess for twenty-four months. Yet a responsible senator, representing the State of Victoria, urge3 Parliament to go into recess in order toenable the Government to have sufficient time to formulate a policy.
I commented previously on the fact that the House of Commons sat almost continuously since the outbreak of the war. But in Australia we have a National Government of the Commonwealth meeting Parliament during about only one-fourth of the time that has been spent in recess. Our record in this respect is not a good one. People outside may have been led. to believe that members of this Parliament have had a very easy time of it. But that is not the case, because ever since the outbreak of the war there has been a continuous uncertainty as to when Parliament would assemble, or for how long it would adjourn. Members of this Parliament have not known what position they would be in. They have been un-‘ able to make their domestic arrangements, and have been almost continually travelling from State to State at the maximum of expense and inconvenience with the minimum of service rendered to the country.
During the course of this debate, not merely in Parliament, but also in the press outside, there have been many references to the fact that the Prime Minister and his Government have broken » pledge made by Mr. Hughes at Bendigo. I may say candidly that the breaking by Mr. Hughes of a pledge given by him to the people at Bendigo or at any other place was not a matter of surprise to me. He has broken so many pledges, verbal and written, that what would have surprised me would have been to learn that he had kept his pledge. As a result of the action which the Prime Minister has taken we are faced with a peculiar political situation. This is very apparent from what is at present appearing in the newspapers.
In connexion with the situation which now exists, I might make some passing reference to the part which the GovernorGeneral has played in quite recent times. The ordinary constitutional course in the circumstances which arose was, as the Leader of the Labour party in the Senate has pointed out, for the Governor-General, upon the resignation of the Prime Minister, to send for the Leader of the Opposition and commission him to form a Ministry. Had that been done, and had Mr. Tudor refused, or expressed his inability, to form a Government, the Governor-General would have been quite justified in resorting to other means in the endeavour to find out the possibilities of Parliament in the matter of the formation of a Government. But to recommission the retiring Prime Minister without giving an opportunity to the Leader of the constitutional Opposition to form a Government was a breach of constitutional practice. Ever since this gentleman has been in Australia we have had evidence of peculiar decisions on his part. Those decisions have occasioned much food for thought. He played a very discreditable part in what is known as the Senate scandal, and is otherwise known as the Ready-Earle incident. Recent events have led me to consider how conveniently the Governor-General happened to be in Sydney about the time that Senators Gardiner and Russell and Mr. Higgs refused to approve of a certain regulation underthe War Precautions Act. A Cabinet meeting was hastily convened in Sydney at the time to proclaim the regulation, and the Governor-General very conveniently happened to be there. I have obtained from the Sydney Worker of 25th October, 1917, the following very excellent summary dealing with the sudden retirement of ex-Senator Ready from this Chamber, and the substitution in his place of Senator Earle. It shows the lightning change that took place -
Great Display of Speed.
Just here it is interesting to note the rapidity with which the following machinery moves were made - all between 6.1 p.m. and midnight on 1st March: -
What master hands must have been at work to accomplish all these things in so short a time, and in such a way that they fitted one into the other with dovetail accuracy?
This all happened between 6.1 p.m. and midnight of 1st March, 1917.
– There is nothing wrong about that.
– It is an excellent illustration of a lightning change. There is nothing of the go-slow policy about it. I think that the attention of the people of Australia should be called to the attitude which the present Governor-General has adopted in connexion with what may be termed domestic affairs, apart from his constitutional position. I take this - opportunity of protesting against what I may say is the partisanship which he has displayed in this connexion. The best evidence that Mr. Hughes was not able to give the Governor-General an assurance of any weight or worth that he could carry on the government of the country is to be found in the developments that have taken place since the present Administration was formed. Two statements on the present position appeared in the newspapers to-day : one from Mr. Austin Chapman and the other from Sir William Irvine, which give no assurance of solidarity in the Ministerial party, but quite the contrary. The present division in the Nationalist party is the most damaging commentary upon the decision of the Governor-General that could possibly be imagined.
– They have to stick together, like the forty thieves.
– They will have some difficulty apparently in sticking together.
Referring tothe recent referendum, I may say that in Queensland we had a pretty active campaign, and I take this opportunity to inform honorable senators and the public generally, in case it might not otherwise be known, that the presence of the Prime Minister in Queensland, and his actions while there, proved him to be the best organizer whom those advocating a “ No “ vote had in that State. I shall make only a passing reference to the Warwick incident to show how that operated against the cause which the Prime Minister was espousing. I happened to be at Toowoomba, a town adjoining Warwick, on the night before, and at Warwick on the night after, Mr. Hughes was there. I ordinarily refer to Mr. Hughes in his official capacity, but reading the account of the Warwick incident in the newspapers, I said, “ Billy has been on the job again.” I rarely refer to the Prime Minister as “ Billy Hughes,” but I did on that occasion, because as soon as I read the report of the Warwick incident, knowing Mr. Hughes, and knowing his speeches and writings, I was able to fasten the dictation of the newspaper report of the affair on to the Prime Minister. Subsequent information confirmed my assumption, because I was informed next night when I was at Warwick by a gentleman who travelled from Warwick to Wallangarra on the same train as Mr. Hughes, that between Warwick and Wallangarra the typewriters of the two publicity agents were going at about nineteen words to the dozen, and the press reports of the incident were despatched from Wallangarra.
– It was a personal description of what the Prime Minister had gone through.
– Those of us who know Warwick will agree that it is one of the most orderly towns, and the Warwick district is one of the most orderly districts in the Commonwealth. I have been visiting Warwick for many years, though it is not a Labour centre. I do not know that the Labour party ever received majority support at either Federal or State elections in the Warwick district. I was at Warwick shortly after the Brisbane strike of ‘1912, when feeling ran high in the community, and in the town and district I had nothing but orderly meetings. I feel sure that Senator Maughan, who has known the Warwick district for several years, will agree that I am justified in saying that Warwick is one of the most orderly towns in the Commonwealth .
– Hear, hear ! The Prime Minister had no right to make a savage attack on the crowd as’ he did at Warwick !
– Sir William Irvine, on a recent visit to Warwick, administered the greatest rebuff that could possibly have been administered to the Prime Minister. Speaking from the stage of the Town Hall at Warwick, he congratulated the people upon a most orderly meeting, and said that the audience was one of the most orderly he ever addressed, and he thanked them for the reception given him.
– He thanked the Warwick police also.
– That is so.
– The personal bitterness which many people display against Mr. Hughes, and not against Sir William Irvine, may account for the difference in their receptions.
– Let me inform Senator Reid that there is no doubt whatever in my mind that Mr. Hughes went to Warwick with the set purpose of creating a disturbance. I am convinced of that.
– The honorable senator does not believe that.
– I do, because I know Mr. Hughes. I believe that the reason he did that was that he knew that he had “ put his foot in it “ while he was in Brisbane in connexion with the raiding of the Government Printing Office, and the seizure of the No. 37 issue of the Queens land Hansard. He saw, after lie cooled down, that Mr. Ryan, the Premier of Queensland, had him. Mr. Ryan said, in his evidence in the Police Court, and it was published in the newspaper reports of the proceedings, that he approached Mr. Hughes at his hotel, and showed him a copy of No. 37 of the Queensland Hansard, and that Mr. Hughes said that there was nothing in it that any one could object to, and that there was nothing wrong with it. In spite of that expression of opinion, the Prime Minister ordered the raid, and when he saw that he had “put his foot in it” he wanted to distract public attention from the mistake that he had made.
– Has the honorable senator seen No. 37 of the Queensland Hansard ‘
– Yes .
– Does the honorable senator say that there is nothing in it?
-There is absolutely nothing out of the way in it. While Mr. Hughes was in Brisbane, referring to Messrs. Ryan and Theodore, he said, “ Let them say one word,- and I will have them.” Those gentlemen went into one of the leading halls in Brisbane, and repeated the whole of their speeches to which exception was taken.
– They did not.
– Mr. Hughes has not “ had “ them yet.
– THey omitted all the censored portions of their speeches.
- Senator Crawford may have been present at the meeting to which I refer, but I was not there. I am, however, given to understand, and I venture to assert that it is true, that Messrs. Ryan and Theodore did go to the Centennial Hall, in Brisbane, and there repeated from a public platform everything in their speeches .which had been printed in raised type in the Queensland Hansard.
– They said that they would do so, but they did not.
- Mr. Hughes travelled throughout Queensland, and the statements he made gained numberless votes for those who were opposed to conscription. At Ipswich, Toowoomba, and Brisbane he made the statement, “ I have the power, and have had it ever since 5th May last, to conscript every one of you, men and women. I could conscript you at ls. per day and send those eligible for military service overseas and send others to trawlers and mine-sweeping at ls. per day.” He did not mention the other members of his Government or the party behind him, but said that he personally had the power, and might have put it into execution at any time since the 5th May, which was but a poor compliment to the other members of his Government and the party behind him. The people hearing such statements naturally came to the conclusion that if he really possessed that power it was a very dangerous power for any man to have in Australia,, and it would be very unwise to give him any further power. I think that the judgment of the people of Australia, and of ^Queensland in particular, as expressed ab the referendum, was right.
We have been told ever since tlie outbreak of the war that it is necessary to conscript Australians and send them 12,000 miles away to fight for honour, freedom, and liberty. I want to say that when Australia, on the 28th October, 1916, and on the 20th December, 1917, turned down conscription for oversea service, it did more in the interests of honour, freedom, and liberty than all the armies of all the nations have done or will do on the field of battle since the . outbreak of tha war. In my view, the decision of Australia in this matter will have a lasting and beneficial effect on the history of tlie world, not only for generations, but for centuries to come. Does it not occur te honorable senators that if Australia had adopted conscription the militarist powers of the world would have said, “There is Australia, the most advanced Democracy in the world, with adult suffrage, embracing conscription? What is good enough for the leading Democracy of the world is good enough for an Autocracy,” and so militarism would have been everywhere to stay. In my opinion, Australia’s example will be the commencement of an agitation for the abolition of conscription in every country in the world, and that will take place perhaps sooner than some of the sceptics imagine. Generations who come after us will bless those who voted “ No “ for preserving inviolate the freedom of Australia from military despotism and tyranny.
– It is singular that Germany should approve of it.
– Germany approves of militarism, and that is why we do not want it in Australia.
Speaking without any feeling concerning either Mr. Hughes or Senator Pearce, I am firmly convinced that they have been the best two agents that Germany has had in Australia. I do not say they have been so wittingly or consciously, but; unwittingly and unconsciously they have played Germany’s game better than any other two people m the Commonwealth.
– Germany does not think so.
– I think Germany does. We all remember how Mr. Hughes was lauded to the skies for the prominent part he took in the so-called Paris Economic Conference,- which is now more generally recognised as the Paris “Tripe” Conference, because all the resolutions passed there will result in tripe. Mr. Hughes was lauded as responsible for the passing of resolutions affirming that none of the Allies would trade with Germany during the war and for a certain period after. How the German military party must have played that card in Germany for all they were worth ! The first thing they would say was, “ There is the Prime Minister of Australia, the leading Democracy of the world, speaking on behalf of his people, and pledging Australia not to trade with Germany for some time after the war.” Would that not be a reason for them to stiffen their backs and fight on ?
– At the time the Prime Minister was making that statement, you and others were applauding him.
– At that time I was criticising him. I said he was not expressing Australian sentiment. I was subjected to a good deal of ridicule for daring to criticise him when he was away, but I dissented from his expressions over there as not representing Australian Labourism.
– You were making capital in this country out of his success.-
– The honorable senator is entirely wrong, as Hansard will show if he looks it up. Mr. Hughes was a fine asset to the German military party, and the frantic ravings of this little man since he returned to Australia have succeeded in dividing the Australian people as no other question or man could have done.
It was not in the best interests of the Allies, Great Britain, or Australia that the question of conscription should ever have been raised here. In June or July, 1915, the enlistments under the voluntary system had totalled 36,500 for one month. Was not that enough? Yet about that time the party opposite started howling for conscription, which was unreasonable, and should never have been raised.-
Where Senator Pearce has done mischief in Australia has been by his weakness as administrative head of the Defence Department. As a weak Minister, he has given the military serangs and militarism in Australia such freedom to go ahead that they were doing very well in the way of introducing Prussianism here without adopting conscription at all. He was lauded to the skies as the best Minister for Defence we ever had. I am not speaking with any personal feeling against him, because he has never done me any harm; but, unconsciously, he has not been working in the best interests of Australia. He was praised as the best Minister for Defence on record because he suited the military serangs. . He did what they told him, and they said, “ He is the man for us,” so they proceeded to boom him. Any military mau if asked his opinion will say, “ He is the best Minister for Defence we ever had.” Mr. Hughes and Senator Pearce have not been playing the game of Australia and of the Allies, but have unconsciously been playing the game of Germany for the past two years.
– It is mighty queer that Germany does not appreciate their efforts.
– We do not know that.
President Wilson was the first man to knock the stuffing out of the great reputation Mr. Hughes obtained at the socalled Economic Conference in Paris, because, in almost his first official statement he said that one of the terras of the settlement of the war was a universal association of nations to retain inviolate the security of the high seas, meaning, of course, freedom of the seas. What becomes, then, of Mr. Hughes’ idea of no trade with Germany for years after the war? As recently as a fortnight before the last referendum no less a person than Mr. Asquith–
– The Paris Economic Conference did not deal with the freedom of the high seas.
– Then how was Germany’s trade to be restricted for a number of years after the war?
– Does the honorable senator suggest that the phrase “ Freedom of the seas” means the abolition of all Tariffs?
– You can grant freedom of the seas and prohibit trade by means of a Tariff.
– If President Wilson will not convince honorable senators perhaps they will listen to Mr. Asquith. He said at Birmingham that the man who would even suggest that there should be a trade war waged against Germany after peace is declared is an enemy to humanity. I do not say Mr. Hughes is an enemy to humanity, bub Mr. Asquith does.
– Mr. Lloyd George said the same thing in other words in his speech published last week.
– The honorable senator is quite right.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that that interferes with our fiscal independence?
-No ; but Mr. Hughes at the Paris Conference was supposed to be responsible for carrying a resolution in favour of a trade war against Germany after peace was declared.
– In favour of preference among the Allies.
– The honorable senator can put any construction he likes upon it. I have given my view.
I was interested to hear Senator Pratten speaking to-day about the great changes which are coming over the world. I think they are coming very rapidly. The doctrines being enunciated in Russia are extending to Austria with good effect, and I should like to see them extend. It would be a good thing if there were a revolution in Austria, and a revolution in every country to stop the war, because it is about time that the people who do the fighting had some say on that subject.
– Would you like those doctrines to spread here?
– The honorable senator had better look to his leader, because if any man is going to provoke trouble it is Mr. Hughes by his frantic ravings. It seems to me that the Bolsheviks are spreading their doctrines, and
I should not be surprised in the near future to see peace as the result. I should not be surprised to see capitalism, whether British or German, American, Austrian, Italian, Bulgarian, French, or Turkish, combining to defeat the doctrines which are being enunciated in Russia to-day. Capitalists everywhere will see that if those doctrines spread throughout the world they are going to have a pretty rough time, and I am optimistic enough to think that peace may result much quicker than we anticipate.
On the question of the terms of peace what should we as Australians do? Everybody has accepted the basis of no annexations, no indemnities, and freedom of the seas. That opens up a point raised by Senator Bakhap this afternoon in a question to the Leader of the Government here (Senator Millen) regarding the Pacific Islands. Lloyd George, President Wilson, and others proclaim that this is not a war of annexation. Then if Australia, or the Australian Government on its behalf, takes up an immovable attitude with regard to the Pacific Islands, will that not be regarded as annexation ? It is a question that will require mature consideration, quite apart from the side from which the opinions emanate.
– It will have to be looked at from a different stand-point from annexation. That is, from the stand-point of safety.
– We are told by Imperial statesmen and others that the war is going to be waged until the provinces of Alsace-Lorraine are returned to France. We are told, also, that the war is being waged in the interests of small nations, to obtain self-government, and so forth, for them. I came across a simple yet significant cablegram in the Argus ofthe 14th of this month. It was headed, “Our war aims,” “ What France wants”; “Three cardinal points”: “Waiting for direct proposals”; and stated that what France wanted was : 1. Respect for treaties. Everybody agrees to that-
– Does Germany?
– Everybody here but Mr. Hughes does.
– Is Germany agreeable to it?
– Is Germany here?
– She is a party to the contract.
– The other points are: 2. “Territorial settlement on the basis of national rights”; and 3. “ Limitation of armaments,” which also I take it everybody agrees to. It was added that France also wanted the restoration of Alsace-Lorraine without any plebiscite. ‘That is a statement from M. Stephen Pichon, the French Foreign Minister, as tabled from London. If we have gone into the war to maintain the right of small nations to self-government, it is a fair proposition that the inhabitants of such countries should have the right to decide; but we are told by the French Foreign Minister that France must have Alsace-Lorraine without the voice of the people being taken. That brings us to the question raised by Senator Grant this morning, of the statement published in the Sydney Bulletin of 8th November, to the effect that the landowners of France and Belgium are charging the Australian and British Governments rent for the trenches and dugouts occupied by our soldiers.
– Is that not too silly to repeat?
– If it had not been true action would have been taken against those who published it. It is, therefore, -fair to ask whether, if the rents were not .paid, our soldiers would be evicted from their trenches and dugouts. It also opens up the grave question, from the Australian stand-point, whether Australia is to be committed to the war until Alsace-Lorraine is returned to France, without any plebiscite of the residents being taken.
Then there is the question of indemnities. When the peace settlement arrives, no country will be able to pay indemnities because they will be too great. They must be put out of our minds. The freedom of the seas will be guaranteed. Then comes the question of disarmament. The point has also been raised of reparation to Belgium, Servia, and other small nations. Well, if the nations of the world agree to a policy of disarmament, and there is no reason why they should not, after peace is declared, they will save enough in five years to rebuild Belgium and Servia five times over. If they cease their nightmare or lunatic expenditure on war machines, the nations can easily come to terms along the lines I have indicated.
– The honorable sena.tor is very kind to Germany, I must admit.
– I note with satisfaction that quite a change has come over the tone of honorable senators opposite. Only a brief twelve months ago, if one had dared to speak on such themes as that which I am now discussing, he would have been almost howled down. It is good to witness the spread of the spirit of tolerance. To-day anticonscriptionists are able to express their opinions unmolested, whereas only a year ago their utterances would have been howled and jeered at.
– The honorable senator would not have expressed such opinions prior to the elections of 1914.
– For the edification of the Minister for Repatriation, I propose to outline the attitude which I adopted prior to the elections in 1914. I said that I regretted the war, and hoped that it would soon be over. I declared that if I had my way, I would put those who had made the war in the front of the firing line, with the workers back on the hills waving flags and singing “ Rule, Britannia.’
As an evidence of the intolerance which has obtained until quite recently,- let me explain how the authorities in Queensland endeavoured to heap indignity and contumely upon those who dared to oppose conscription and the dominance of militarism generally. I have lived in the subdivision of Windsor, in the electorate of Lilley, for the past nine or ten years, and I am fairly well known there. Our families, I suppose, which must number between fifty and sixty members, are pretty well known throughout Queensland. There is not a drop of German blood in any of them. I do not mention that fact with any degree of pride, because I would sooner shake hands with an Australian-born,if he is a man of principle, even if he were of German descent, than I would with an industrial “ scab “ or political renegade who was born in Australia either of English, Irish, Scotch, or Welsh parents.
– Who are the political renegades?
– I leave that for the honorable senator to say. On the occasion of the recent referendum, I was compelled to answer a number of questions which were put to me under Regu- lation 25 of the War Precautions Act. First, I was asked whether I was a naturalized British subject. I replied, “ No,” adding that I was Australianborn. I was then asked where my father and mother were born. I replied that my father and mother and their progenitors, back to the time of the Spanish Armada at least, were born in the county of Mayo, Ireland. It is sometimes suggested, I know, that we have Spanish blood in our veins, because of our dark complexion. However, I saw that the challenging of my vote was merely an attempt to heap indignity on me, so I smilingly answered all the questions that were put to me. I added, “ I suppose that this is a sample of the freedom for which we are asked to conscript Australian soldiers 12,000 miles overseas to fight - a sample of the Prussianism against which we are alleged to be fighting.” Seeing that I am the last of a family of twelve who have been reared in Australia, I was surprised the other day to receive the following communication: - [Regulation 25(8)
Commonwealth of Australia.
Military Service Referendum 1917.
To Myles AloysiusFerricks, of Old Sandgate-road,
In connexion with the referendum held on the 20th December, 1917, the ballot-paper issued to you was indorsed “Regulation 25,’’ and placed in the prescribed envelope (which was fastened) and has been forwarded to me in such (fastened) envelope for the purpose of scrutiny.
In order that I may be in a position to satisfy myself as to whether your ballot-paper is to be accepted for further scrutiny, or rejected, I hereby require you to furnish information so as to reach me on or before 17th January, 1918, as to whether or not -
If you fail to furnish me with information as aforesaid on or before the said date, the ballot-paper may be rejected. Dated the 9th day of January, 1918.
Geo. E. Driver,
Divisional Returning Officer for the Division of Lilley.
Address - Albion.
I thought that as I had satisfactorily answered all the questions put to me, my vote should have been allowed without further question, but, presumably because I had taken a prominent part in the anti-conscription campaign in Australia and Queensland, an attempt was made to heap indignity upon me.
I think that the action of the Government in disfranchising Australian-born citizens on the occasion of the recent referendum was unworthy of any Ministry professing to be imbued with a sense of fairness, and I believe that it deprived the “Yes” side of quite a lot of votes. I am of opinion that many of those who, at the previous election, voted under section 9 of the Electoral Act, and who were disfranchised at the recent referendum for various reasonsvoted “ Yes “ at the first referendum. Those reasons, from the German stand-point, can be readily understood, and I think that one of them was fear. They feared that if their votes were placed in sealed envelopes they would be interned. They also thought that German districts in Australia would benefit if many thousands of our soldiers were sent overseas. But, whether the Government lost or gained by their action, it was a scandalous thing to deprive Australian natives of a vote, many of whom were better Australians than the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) ever was or ever will be. A man who is so obsessed with Imperialism as he is will never become a good Australian, even if he attains to the age of 100 years.
Before the last adjournment of the Senate took place I was one of those who held that the recent industrial upheaval, particularly in New South Wales, was the result of a conspiracy between a combination of capitalism and of the ‘ Governments throughout the Commonwealth. I hold in my hands something which confirms my belief in that connexion. 1 find that, towards the last . week in September, the London Times published a series of articles headed “ The Ferment of Revolution.” The Times advised the people to put down this rising army of organized labour. It stated that the British nation was divided into two armies - one composed of business and professional men, agriculturists, and workers, in privately-controlled industries; while the other consisted of large numbers of well-organized workers in Government-controlled industries. These Northcliffe articles pointed out that, “the struggle between the two factions may develop into a sort of civil war “, but that the danger must be faced, and “ it is a small risk compared to those undertaken by our armies in Flanders and Mesopotamia.” How the war was to be waged against the workers was hinted at in the following passage : - “ Those who are loyal to the nation should do the work of the nation themselves, and allow no one to impede them.” That was how the menace of organized labour was to be met - by wholesale black-legging, It was just about that period when the attack on labour was made in Australia. The articles in the Times extended over a week, and seemed designed to provoke the workers to rise against the capitalistic class. Doubtless, it was thought that, with the continuance of the war, the workers would be divided and the capitalists would thus be able to crush what they termed “ the serpent of unionism “ for all time. I am quite- convinced that the same conspiracy was launched in Australia, and that it culminated with the Sydney strike, with which my leader in this chamber dealt so exhaustively on a previous occasion. I know that frantic efforts were made to extend that strike to Queensland, and also to Victoria. The members of my own party were in close contact with the members of the Strike Defence Committee, who were making desperate endeavours to prevent the extension of the struggle. But the Employers Federation and the Chamber of Manufactures desired to extend the trouble to Victoria.
– If the honorable senator presumes to speak for the Chamber of Manufactures, I give his statement a denial.
– Were the employers responsible for the strike which took place in Queensland?
– I told the railway workers that I was suspicious. When one sees departmental heads, not only going out on strike, but subscribing to the strike- funds, one naturally becomes suspicious, remembering that these people have never in their existence cast a vote for Labour. The anti-Labour newspaper boosted these gentlemen much more than it did the men on the other side.
Whilst the Leader of the Government in this Chamber is present, I desire to bring under his notice the internment of anAustralian native from the Gladstone district, named Schache. He was the secretary of the Labour organization in that area, and one who to whom, by virtue of his office, anti-conscription leaflets were sent during the conscription campaign. In connexion with the distribution of that literature, writs have been issued by the Prime Minister against Mr. Ryan, Premier of Queensland; Mr. Theodore, Treasurer of that State; Mr. Cuthbert Butler, organizer of the anti-conscription cam- *paign; and Mr. Lewis McDonald, secretary of the central executive. The cases have not yet come on for hearing, and, in the meantime, Mr. Schache has Deen interned. When I was coming down from Queensland, I encountered on the platform ex-Senator Mullan; Mr. Lane, a member of the executive of the Australian Workers Union ; and Mr. Kelly, who occupies a similar position. Mr. Schache who has done valuable work in the cause of Labour in Queensland for years, was travelling by the same train under a military guard, and we asked the guard if we might exchange a word with him. We were allowed to talk to him for acouple of minutes, but the person in charge acted with’ so much dominance that he forced from me the remark, “ We have a lot to be thankful for, in that conscription was not carried.” I ask Senator Millen to inform the Senate why this man was interned. Inquiries have been made in Queensland, officially and otherwise, and we have been told that in 1916 a report on this man went to the GovernorGeneral. Many such reports, no doubt, have been made concerning persons with German names. Schache being in close contact with the Waterside Workers Association, was, I assume, a waterside worker.’ If Senator Millen feels unable to state publicly here why he was interned, I ask him to give me the reasons. There are ugly rumors in Queensland concerning the matter, it being said that there was an ulterior motive for the internment - that Schache has been interned, not because of his connexion with any unlawful association, but with a sinister object. As secretary to a
Labour organization in Gladstone, h’e was one of some 250 recipients of anticonscription literature, and Mr. Hughes seized on the fact that he has a German name. The news was flashed throughout the Commonwealth that the AntiConscription Committee in Queensland was sending its literature to a man named Schache. Writs have been issued against four citizens of the State for having sent this literature to this man, but before they were put into execution he was interned.
– The honorable senator does not suppose that the man’s internment will prevent him from giving evidence before a Court ?
– I do not suggest that, but the circumstances of his internment provide some justification for the suspicion in Queensland that it had a sinister motive.
– What bad object could the Government have in this action ?
– I do not say exactly the Government, but the avidity with which the Prime Minister seized on the fact that this man’s name was German was apparent, and I think some significance is to be attached to it. Schache may be none the worse Australian for having a German name. I ask the Minister to have the reports concerning him perused. We should know the specific grounds of his internment. In Labour circles in Queensland it is believed that there is no reason for pointing the finger of scorn at him.
.- Most of the sentiments expressed in the speeches of Senators Fairbairn and Pratten, comparatively recent recruits to this body, were such as could not meet with opposition in this Chamber. It is a pity that the spirit which actuated their expression has not been more evident in Australia during the past twelve months. Had it been, our people would not now be divided into two bitterly hostile camps. To my mind, the responsibility for the want of unanimity, harmony, and determination on the part of Australians to do their utmost in this awful crisis rests on those who term themselves the National party, because, instead of inviting all and sundry to join in a great effort to resist the Germans, they have kept the two political parties here in conflict fighting each other.
– The party opposite was asked by us to come in.
– The least said about that offer the better.-
Senator Pratten said that Parliament and the country were entitled to have, at the earliest possible moment, a candid declaration of the intention of the Government respecting conscription. Personally, I am convinced that the result of the two referenda has sufficed to make up the minds of Ministers. Still, in consequence of the improper use of the War Precautions Act there is a feeling outside that the Government may, by regulations under that Act, introduce something in the nature of conscription, notwithstanding the determination of the electors. I feel sure that the Government will not impose conscription in any shape or form. They have learnt their bitter and humiliating lesson.
– The result of the referendum is humiliating to the country.
– Although Senator Pratten is a man of keen observation, I entirely disagree with some of his remarks concerning the Northern Territory. He seems to think that the money spent on agricultural and other experiments there has been lost. No country can be developed until its resources have been experimented with, and such experiments cost a great deal of money. He laid stress on the failure of land settlement in the Territory, but admitted that there are ten persons settled on the land there. Surely that fact is evidence that the land can be settled, and that the climate is not against settlement.
– Does the honorable senator know any tropical country settled with white people?
– There is not( a tropical country in the world in which white people are not making money.
– As bosses.
– In the tropical parts of Queensland, at Cairns, Townsville, and other ports, white men are doing work as wharf lumpers which Asiatic workers could not look at. Would it surprise Senator Pratten to hear that last year a man in the Northern Territory banked £360 as the price of his rice crop.
– He deserved it.
– I think that he did; but my point is that it is possible to make a success of rice growing in the Northern Territory.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to8 p.m.
– Senator Pratten, in his remarks upon the development of the Northern Territory, lefta doubt in my mind - and I have no doubt in the minds of other honorable senators - as to the solution he had to suggest regarding this problem. He declared the White Australia policy to be a failure, and therefore we are entitled to know from him what alternative he has to offer. If he believes that the only true solution of the difficulty is the introduction of cheap labour from the East, we are entitled to know that, and also to what extent he can look to senators on the other side of the chamber for support.
– Next month 300 men will be going up there from here.
– I am glad to hear it. Recently I had the benefit of a trip to the East, and visited the Dutch East Indies, Singapore, Indo-China, and China, and I came back with my conviction regarding the White Australia policy very considerably strengthened. I would sooner see that part of Australia deserted altogether than that any attempt should be made to exploit it by the introduction of cheap coloured labour.
– Nobody has suggested that.
– But Senator Pratten led us to believe that the policy of the present and previous Governments for the development of the Territory had proved a failure.
– He suggested local government.
– Yes; but that was for the administration of local affairs. He certainly left the impression on my mind that the introduction of cheap labour for the development of the Northern Territory was his solution of the problem. It is a pity that a public man should try. to prove that an important possession of the Commonwealth like the Northern Territory is, under the existing system of control, a failure, and that he should throw cold water on any efforts to develop the country on the lines laid down, because I do not think there has been any division of opinion among the parties in the Federal Parliament in regard to the White Australia policy.
-Private enterprise has put £1,000,000 into the meat industry of the Territory.
– That is perfectly true, and it shows how absurd, how unfair, and how unpatriotic it is for any public man to throw cold water on a great national undertaking such as the development of our Northern Territory. Senator Pratten tried to make us believe that the people have no confidence in the Territory as at present controlled, and yet he told us the next minute that a big corporation from the Old Country had so much confidence in the Territory as to spend an amount approaching £1,000,000 in establishing the meat industry there. I had the pleasure of looking over those immense works erected at Darwin by Vestey Brothers, and while there it occurred to me that they were not the class of people to invest such a huge sum of money in an industry if they thought it was likely to prove a failure. I expected that while Senator Pratten was criticising the administration of and the methods employed in the Territory, he would offer some observations concerning the re-appointment of the present Adminstrator, and of the fact that he was kept in Melbourne in doubt as to whether he was to be re-appointed or not for almost seven months, during which time he was allowed £2 2s. a day expenses, in addition to his salary of £1,700 a year; but no word of protest came from the honorable senator. I think, myself, that that was a very gross misuse of the taxpayers’ money.
I want now to register my protest against the almost rude manner in which the Supply Bill was presented to the Senate. It was practically thrown on the table without one word of explanation from the Minister in charge, although the Bill involves an expenditure of £3,500,000.
– All regular expenditure.
– That may be so, but I am quite sure that in other circumstances the honorable senator would have been one of the first to protest against this procedure on the part of the Leader of the Senate (Senator Millen), because the Bill involves expenditure on some very important proposals, and the least wemight have expected was a brief explanation as to the purpose of several votes included in the Bill. The desire of the Government appears to be to get into recess as soon as possible.
– Can the honorable senator recall one instance in which the Minister made his speech on the first reading of a Supply Bill? Does he not know that it is the general practice to make a speech on the second reading?
– Within my recollection no Supply Bill has ever been presented to the Senate as was done on the present occasion. Ministers have always been careful and guarded in their statements when moving the first reading, it is true, and a more lengthy statement is generally made in reply on the second reading; bub the Honorary Minister cannot say that the general practice is to lay a Supply Bill on the table and simply move that it be read a first time.
– The honorable senator cannot point to an instance in which the Minister in charge of a Supply Bill has done anything else.
– Yes, I can. The Honorary Minister has only to refer to the records of the Senate and he will find that what I am saying is absolutely correct, and unless he does prove that I am _ wrong the Senate may accept my statement as correct. But what is the good of quibbling over this matter. The Honorary Minister himself would not dream of presenting a Bill in that way.
This Win-the-war Government were elected on the 5th May last during my absence from Australia - something dreadful is sure to happen when I am absent - and, as Senator Ferricks has pointed out, Parliament has sat a total of thirty-six days in eight months. I might also remind honorable senators opposite that the greater part of those thirty-six sitting days has been occupied by members of our party criticising the Government. .
– Most of the time Parliament has been sitting has been in the honorable senator’s absence, too.
– Yes, unfortunately, I have been absent. Had I been here the Government would probably not have had their majority to-day. Referring again to the Bill before the Senate, I desire to say that the Government should give the country some idea of its financial proposals other than the policy of borrowing and drifting. How many people in Australia realize that up to the end of June this year Australia will have incurred a war indebtedness of £214,880,000?
– How can it be cut down ?
– I do not say it can be; but my complaint is that the Government, of which the honorable senator is a servile follower, have done nothing whatever to liquidate the liability. They prate’ about doing so much for our soldiers on the other side of the world, but when our fighting men return they will find that they will have to assist in meeting the bill. Few people, I repeat, realize the extent of our war indebtedness, and that it carries with it an annual interest liability of £8,747,000. Surely honorable senators have a right to ask what the Government intend to do to liquidate it? This interest bill is a mighty obligation that is not going to be liquidated by the issue of war bonds bearing interest at 4$ per cent., and exempt from all taxation. I was rather glad ‘to hear Senator Pratten discuss this question as he did this afternoon, showing that there is sitting behind the Government at least one honorable senator who takes strong exception to the financial methods which, so far, have been employed. Then there is that greatest of all questions, the repatriation of those who have gone to the Front, who have done ‘their duty and have come back to Australia, many of them in a maimed condition. For over three years we” have been at war, and with the exception of a few very fine speeches such as those which the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) can so readily make, nothing has been done towards solving that great problem. Surely the representatives of the people of Australia are entitled to know what are the intentions of the Government in respect to the financial position of the Commonwealth and the repatriation of our soldiers. Surely the Government do not anticipate hostility to any genuine, honest., practical, intelligent effort in that direction. We all know that the bill has to be met, and the party to which I have the honour to belong will, I feel confident, render every assistance in the liquidation of this debt and in the solution of the other great problem that confronts us.
I am now supplied with, information that will enable me to show Senator Russell that it is unwise for him to rush into an argument with an imperfect memory. I do not know that I could put his position in a milder form. If he turns to Hansard, page 4267, he will find that when introducing a Supply Bill in the Senate in June last he made a few observations. I shall hand Hansard to him, and after he has read the report I shall consider his apology.
There are one or two other matters to which I desire to refer. In dealing with a Supply Bill honorable senators are allowed considerable latitude, and like those who have already, contributed to this debate, I intend to avail myself of my privileges. We listened last night! to a speech by Senator Earle.
– He read it.
– We listened to a speech well read and well spoken by Senator Earle. As one who has been associated with that honorable senator for twenty years, I cannot help thinking that two years ago he would sooner have bad his tongue pulled out than have uttered some of the sentiments to which he gave expression last night. This leader of Democracy - this gentleman who took his part in many a strike with me in order to obtain justice for the workers in the State from which I come; this gentleman who, with myself, has taken up what were at the time attitudes that were very unpopular, and for which we both suffered - last night traduced the men who, when the road to a place in the service of this country was difficult, sang to him songs of encouragement, passed the hat round, cheered him along the rough way, helped him up to the seats of the mighty, and then returned to their toil, satisfied that they had assisted in placing one good and true man in Parliament, where lie could demand justice for them and where justice alone could be obtained. Listening to him last night expressing these sentiment’s I felt that I had wakened from a dream.
– In what way did I traduce those men?
– We listened to the honorable senator reading - was it an elegy, a panegyric, or an epitaph of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) ? According to the honorable senator, the Prime Minister is a super-man; he is something divine. He might well have summed up the qualities of this wonderful man in much briefer terms. He might have said of him, “ This man is as great as Caesar as wise as Solomon, as eloquent as Demosthenes, and as good as the prophet
Elijah.” That would have covered the six pages of eulogy of the Prime Minister which Senator Earle read last night.
– What did I say of him that was untrue?
– I have not said that any statement made by the honorable senator was untrue. Mr. Hughes is a man of very remarkable ability, but may I be permitted to say, without any desire to give offence, that his judgment and tact are anything but good? He has been guilty of mistakes;-
– The mistake of going to Warwick.
– The honorable senator ought to be ashamed to refer to the faked Warwick incident. There were on the Warwick station, on the occasion of the Prime Minister’s visit, two men whose duty it was to examine the train to ascertain if any of the fire-boxes had run hot. One of them had a spanner in his hand, the other had a hammer. In the performance of this duty they had walked along the platform in the same way day after day for twenty years, but the local newspapers magnified the incident into an attack upon the Prime Minister by “great burly mechanics with spanners and hammers.” The honorable senator ought to hang his head with shame when that incident is mentioned.
– There is another side to it.
– I have read all that appeared in the local newspapers. I was led to do so because I could not imagine that the people of Queensland, or any other State, would offer the Prime Minister, or any Minister, the violence which it was alleged was offered Mr. Hughes on that occasion.
– I thought it was Mr. Hughes who was said to have -made a disgraceful attack on some one. The only complaint I heard of was the throwing of an old egg at him. I have not heard before any reference to the spanner or the hammer.
– Elderly eggs are privileged artillery at election time. I do not say I favour them when they are aimed at me, but I should not object to one or two reaching the honorable senator.
I say, with all regret, that Mr. Hughes has made some blunders,- from the effects of which Australia will not recover for some time. I shall deal with them in their proper order.
– He would not be great if he did not make blunders.
– In a measure, that is true. Every one makes mistakes. I, myself, made a mistake about ten years ago. During this debate, as well as the debate which took place last week in another place, and to which I listened, I have met with a class of representative who seems to take a special pride in making little of Australia’s magnificent effort in this great war. I am an Australian first, last, and always, and I shall ever be truly proud of the magnificent response that my countrymen have made tothe call to arms. I have nothing to say against any class of the community. Rich and poor, all are alike to me. I say that, as a whole, Australia has established a record of which it has every reason to be proud. Australia, to me, is the greatest of all countries. To me it will always be so. To me, as well as to every honorable senator, it offersthe safety and security of institutions that no other country can offer.
– And for which some will not fight.
– Does the honorable senatorrefer to Kooyong, Balaclava, or Henty?
– Probably. I voted, however, to make those people do their duty, whereasthe honorable senator voted to let them off.
– I did nothing of the kind. My country has done its duty. From the commencement of this war Australia has done all that could be expected of her.
– Then why the reference to Henty?
– Because the honorable senator invited it.
– The honorable senator’s suggestion was that Henty had not done its duty in this matter. I agreed with him, and I voted to make it do its duty.
– Kindly whisper those sentiments into Mr. Boyd’s ears.
– He will be able to read them.
– Neither I, nor any honorable senator on this side, says that
Australia has done enough. To my knowledge, no one on this side has ever expressed that opinion. It is a question which every man must answer for himself.
– I have heard such a statement made many times in Queensland.
– It is very easy for the honorable senator, who, like myself, is over the military age, to talk about sending others to the Front. But it will ever stand to the credit of Australia that under the voluntary system she has sent that type of man that has made her name memorable on the fields of Gallipoli, Flanders and France - that class of soldier under the voluntary system who, if ordered, would storm the very ramparts of hell.
– The credit is all due to the men who have gone.
– I deny that. Has the honorable senator not a kindly word to say for the young fellows who are coming on to twenty-one years of age, and who could not go before ?
– What is the use of talking like that?
– What was the use of the honorable senator talking all the tommy-rot he did during the conscription campaign, when it was declared that, while 32,000 men a month had been required a little while before, 7,000 men were required then, although the Government knew that half that number could not be transported to the scene of operations ?
– Do you believe that any more men at all are required at the Front?
– I certainly do.
– Senator Ferricks has just put the number at 4,000.
– During the referendum campaign, honorable senators opposite, in their willingness to always make a comparison that would tell against this country, which has provided them with such good living, and given them such good positions in its Service, told the electors that Canada had sent 420,000 men to the Front.
– Who told the people that?
– Those who spoke in Tasmania and in Victoria. If honorable senators will look at the newspapers of
Monday last, they will find that, according to latest figures, Canada has sent to the Front 350,000, and that the total casualties to date amount to only 125,000. It must be remembered, when such comparisons are made against my country, that Canadaisonly6,000milesawayfrom the fighting line, while Australia is 12,300 miles away.
– Which country is in the greatest danger?
– The country that is nearest, obviously.
– The honorable senator’s comparison is not working out very well.
– For the moment I admit that I overlooked the fact that Canada, because of its geographical relation to the United States of America, must always be secure. But if Senator Earle desires to make a comparison-
– I do not.
– If the expenditure of money is to be taken as, the test of the efforts of the respective countries, then Australia has sent 2,000,000 men, as compared with Canada’s 350,000; because, while it costs only 30s. to transport a man from Canada to France, it costs £21 to transport him from Australia.
– The honorable senator quotes a low figure when he quotes 30s.
– Then make it £2.
– Make it £12 !
– Tell us who has found the £21.
– I am ashamed to have to admit that the Old Country has found the greater portion. But if expenditure is to be the test, then the response of Australia has been infinitely greater than that of all the rest of the Dominions put together. If we extend the comparison to the Old Country, Australia comes out still better.
– What does all this matter if we do not win?
– I am trying to defend this country, which has been unfairly and unpatriotically slandered by that class of man who should be the first to, defend it. In pressing the financial comparison, I wish to remind honorable senators that when a man leaves Australia every penny of expenditure in connexion with his transport, his wages, and his equipment is borne by Australia, whereas, once troops from Canada are placed under Imperial control, the whole of the expense is borne by the Mother Country.
– That is incorrect.
– It was denied the other day by leading Canadian statesmen.
– My authority is a much better one than Senator de Largie, being the Times cable news which comes to us through a Melbourne newspaper. I feel very strongly on this question. There is a desire amongst the representatives of what is called the National party not to dp justice to this grand country of ours, or to the men and women who have made such great sacrifices. The Leader of the Senate asked, “ Who has paid this money?” I am ashamed to say that for almost the last three years we have had to go cap in hand to the Old Country for the money necessary to take our place in this war; indeed, it would require, not a cap, but a bag to hold all we have received in that way.
Right through the referendum campaign - and I hope I shall not be twitted with- having taken no part in it - we heard from one end of Australia to the other oft repeated references to the “ last man,” but not even a whisper about the “last shilling.” I take it that the Government do not propose to mention the “ last shilling” during the present sitting of Parliament, but desire to have an adjournment until the end of April, when, no doubt, they are coming down with a bold policy.
– I cannot quite understand the honorable senator’s argument. He first claims credit for Australia for the amount of money we axe spending, and now says that the Government are very shy about spending money.
– The Minister’s interjection may be very apropos, but I confess I cannot see how. I am not objecting to expending the “last shilling;” but am complaining because the Government is not making a decent effort to raise it.
– No; you are taking credit for it.
– I am certainly; it is our money, because, although we have had to borrow a good deal, we shall have to pay it all back.
– I could easily take credit for spending money if some one would lend it to me.
– That is what the Government are doing now. I submit that before the House has the adjournment until April, the Government ought to make some declaration as to how they propose to raise even a fair proportion of the money necessary to meet our huge indebtedness in connexion with the war. We went into this conflict voluntarily, and we are determined to see it through ; and every man, if he is at all acquainted with the subject, knows that just as soon as you borrow, or not long afterwards, the tax gatherer comes round.
Australia has rendered a great service to the Allied cause; and we might have done still more if the people had not been divided and driven into hostile camps by two campaigns of bitterness, misrepresentation, and calumny, such as I hope will never again stain the records of Australian history.
– What- about conscription ?
– Conscription would have been brought in if the party opposite had been more loyal to the principle of that, system than they were to the retention of their seats on the Government side.
– How do you make that out?
– In the referendum campaign of 28th October, 1916, honorable senators opposite fought for conscription as though, as the Prime Minister said, it was the only thing forwhich they lived. They made it the issue, and staked everything on it except their seats. They were defeated, and we were told that they would loyally accept the verdict of the people. I would never accept the verdict of the people if it was against a principle which I believed to be vital, as honorable senators opposite said they believed conscription to be, to the nation’s security. They were prepared to stake the lives of men under the compulsory system at the time of the referendum ; but at . the election which followed a few months later they said, “ No, the people have turned down conscription, and, therefore, we will abide by their verdict, and during the term of this Parliament, by Act or Regulation, will not again introduce the question; we were not sincere, not serious, in our advocacy ‘ of what we termed the great national principle of conscription, and we will run away from it, and never breathe a word on the subject again.” It was a different matter when they had to stake their existence as a Government and as members of this Parliament; it ceased to be the grand vindication of the nation’s honour they had said it was when there was nothing at stake n other men’s lives. That is why I say honorable senators opposite were not sincere in their advocacy.
– Do you believe that the question should be shortly re.submitted ?
– I believe the heavens will fall before honorable senators opposite again touch the question, though in saying this I am not referring to Senator Bakhap, who, in season and out of season, has been a consistent conscriptionist. I am sure he will give me the credit of admitting that I have never quarrelled with a man simply because he thought differently from myself.’
– Senator Bakhap was the only one honest enough to say that he would conscript men, and pay them a shilling a .day, though that was what the others also meant.
– Senator Bakhap has been perfectly consistent; and I have no fault to find with him, or, indeed, with any other man, if he advocates conscription, and is prepared to stake not only his seat in Parliament, but also his life, if necessary, upon a great principle. The present Government are responsible for the division that exists amongst the people, and their punishment, although deferred by devious methods, will be none the less sure and severe when it comes in two years’ -time. Honorable senators opposite, in their simplicity, believe that the verdict of the people was only a pronouncement against their policy of conscription. They live in a fool’s paradise if they seriously harbor those sentiments, because I interpret the referendum vote as an all-round condemnation of the Government and all their administrative works.
– The honorable senator will admit that it is better to live in a fool’s paradise than to die outside of it.
– That is rather a humiliating statement to come from the Leader of the Government in this Chamber - that he would rather live with fools in paradise than die outside of it with wise and honest men. It was claimed by the Government that the referendum was only an appeal for reinforcements. That is another instance of the manner in which the Nationalist party ran away from what they used to term “ the great principle of conscription.”
There are some results of the recent campaign for which we have every reason to be thankful. The first is that the referendum has been definitely established as part of our system of government.
– And it proved a great failure.
– That is because it did not result as the honorable senator wished.
– The referendum never has resulted the right way.
– Another result is that Australia pronounced emphatically against a dictatorship, and, with equal emphasis, against legislation by regulation. But?most important result of all, it killed for all time sectarianism, that last refuge of the miserable type of politician. The vote of the people demonstrated that bigotry and sectarianism shall never again be a determining factor in the national politics of Australia. I am thankful tq the tolerant-minded Protestant section of the Australian people for the grand response they made in opposition to the worst tactics that a*ny Government or party can employ. The most continuous efforts were consistently made to insult a very large section of the Australian community. The most diabolical cartoons I have ever seen, or wish to see, were exhibited on every railway station in Victoria. Included amongst them was a picture of Australia encircled in the toils of a green serpent, and on each coil, was written. “ I.W,W.-ism,” “ Sinn Feinism.” “ ProGermanism,” and “ The General Strike,” implying that these were the sentiments for which the Irish people and the Catholics of Australia stood. That cartoon daily met the gaze of many mothers, brothers, and sisters of Catholic soldiers while their hearts were torn with grief at .the loss of some near and dear relative in the Empire’s cause. Honorable senators opposite say they had nothing to do with the issue of that cartoon. The Government must have sanctioned its use, or it would not have been distributed as it was in such a wholesale manner, and I say that any Government who are responsible for such diabolical propaganda are not entitled to a position in this Parliament, or to the respect of any decent man or woman. The Nationalist party will answer for that insult to the Irish and the Roman Catholics of Australia when next the people have an opportunity of expressing their judgment upon it. When such tactics are resorted to, can we wonder that there is discord amongst the people, and that it is difficult to bring all sections together? Have honorable senators ever thought that if wise counsels had prevailed, and if they had attempted to weld the people into one homogeneous whole, Australia’s contribution to the war might have been considerably bigger, great as is the response it has already made?
– Does the honorable senator believe that we would have got more men ?
– I do; and I have sufficient confidence in the honorable gentleman’s common sense to know that he believes also that the result would have been better if the people had not been divided by this diabolical campaign. I feel very strongly on this matter, because I know the grand part played in the war by the Irish Catholics in conjunction with every section of the community. Their contribution has been no better, but certainly no less, than that of other denominations. My son is a Roman Catholic, and, like many thousands of other Roman Catholics, for three and a half years he has been “ doing his bit “ at the Front. He has passed four birthdays away from his home, but he went with my blessing, and if I had half-a-dozen sons they would all have gone with my blessing.
– Hear, hear! That is the feeling we wish to encourage in the people.
– It was the duty of honorable senators opposite to do that, instead of using the respected and distinguished prelate of the Roman Catholic Church in this State as a scapegoat in order to make other sections of the people believe that the Roman Catholics and the Irish in Australia were against the war, and trying thus to consolidate those sections of the community who have always been fighting Roman Catholicism. Throughout Australia, clergymen of other denominations advocated conscription morning, noon, and night, and nobody ever challenged their right to express their views; but immediately another minister of religion saw fit to take a different view he was selected for the most bitter, insolent, and impertinent abuse that members of the Nationalist party could bring against him. The fearless attitude adopted by Dr. Mannix in connexion with the conscription campaign has endeared him more than ever to the freedom-loving people of Australia.
Another scurrilous production issued during the campaign was the Anti’s Creed, but’ although it contains statements of which honorable senators on the Government side ought to be ashamed, I do not take the same strong view of it as I did of the sectarian attacks. It is stated in the Anti’s Creed that members on this side believe in tlie sinking of the Luisitania, in murder on the high seas, in the Industrial Workers of the World, in the massacre of Belgian priests, in the murder of women and baby killing, that -Nurse Cavell got her deserts, that treachery is a virtue, and that disloyalty is true citizenship. These leaflets were distributed by millions all over Australia.
– And “ The Blood Vote” and “ The Lottery of Death “ by tens of millions.
– Possibly. When statements like these are disseminated, can we wonder that there is division amongst the people?
– That publication never reached Queensland.
– A Queensland member gave me this copy. It contains a number of other statements which I do not care to read, but I have quoted from it to provide evidence that if discord and bitterness prevail amongst the people today the Government and the party supporting them are responsible.
In reply to Senator Rowell I stated that the Government were not sincere in their advocacy of conscription, and I wish to offer a few more observations in support of that statement. In 1916 the Prime Minister returned from England with the latest knowledge of the actual situation in Great Britain and Prance. He gave us his solemn assurance that the position was so serious as to necessitate the Commonwealth making a considerably greater contribution of men. He asked for 32,000 men for September, and for 16,500 men per month for the succeeding eleven months. Just after the honorable gentleman had arrived in Australia the Russians were sweeping the Austrians before them, and in three months had taken nearly 200,000 prisoners. Roumania had entered the conflict with a fresh army of 700,000 men, well equipped with the most modern appliances of war.
– Does the honorable senator say that the Roumanian Army was well equipped ?
– It was well equipped ; but badly led.
– If the honorable senator were well acquainted with the position he would know that the greatest defect of the Roumanian Army was in the matter of equipment.
– The main point is that Roumania came into the war. The state of the equipment of its army does not affect my argument.
– Oh! Does it not?
– No. If the honorable senator knows anything about the history of tlie recent disaster on the Eastern Front he will know that corruption was abroad, and that German intrigue and not lack of equipment on the part of our Allies brought it about. My point is that in addition to the great success which the Russian forces had achieved, Roumania came into the war with a great army; but, notwithstanding these favorable circumstances, we were told that the position was so serious that Australia would have to make an added contribution of men. A greats many people in Australia voted “ Yes “ in the honest belief that the number asked for was required - they were bound to take the advice given by the man who led the Government of the country - but twelve months afterwards, when Russia as an effective factor in the war had disappeared entirely, and Roumania was overwhelmed, and when it was just possible that Italy might suffer the same fate, the Win-the-war Government, which had previously asked for 16,500 men per month when circumstances’ were favorable, “now said, “Give us 7,000 per month and we can save the situation.” Were ever men guilty of such arrant hypocrisy ?
– Why does not the honorable senator arraign the British military authorities on whose representation the Australian Government asked the people to give these men ?
– Why do you nob ask the British military authorities what they have done with their 6,500,000?
– They have never had 6,500,000 men.
– According tb Mr. Holman they had that number.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Shannon). - These interjections are out of order.
– When the people came to realize how they must have been misled twelve months previously, can we wonder that they rejected the latest proposition with scorn ? Courage is the surest road to safety. Had the party opposite taken that road - had they been prepared to stand up and fight for the principles they advocated °to the bitter end - they might still have been defeated on the conscription issue, but they would have retained the respect of the people of Australia.
What has the Government to recommend it ? What has it done in the matter of taxation ? What has it done in the direction of liquidating the debt already incurred? It has done nothing. What has it done in another direction wherein we could have been of material assistance to the Old Country? For two years this Government has known that the shipping position has been absolutely critical, yet it has done nothing. There were some nice little references in the press to what was to be done in regard to this question, a vital question even in times of peace ; but Ministers forget to tell us what the Canadian Government have already done in this regard. While we have failed to render assistance Canada, has built three vessels of 5.000 tons and one of 7,000 tons, and they are already in the service of the Old Country carrying foodstuffs to Great Britain. There may be urgent necessity for men, but there is still more urgent necessity to convey foodstuffs to the people in the Motherland, who, even now, are on a ration scale. While we in Australia have stacks of wheat heaped up, and stores full of frozen meat, butter, cheese, rabbits, and other commodities of which the Old Country is in dire need, the people of Great Britain are practically in a condition of starvation. Is there anything in that for the Win-the-war party to be proud of?
– Do I understand the honorable senator to say that the seriousness of the shipping position was known two years ago ?
– Then that was twelve months before the honorable senator left the leadership of Mr. Hughes.
– That does not relieve Senator Millen of his responsibility.
– No; but is suggests hypocrisy to hear the honorable senator talking as he does.
– It does not. I have no say in regard to the government of the country. The honorable senator has only recently had responsibility. Perhaps had he been in office earlier we might have had something to show before this in regard to shipbuilding. Notonly are the Government unable to shirk responsibility in this connexion; Parliament is not without its responsibility, but not to the same extent. I feel sure that if Parliament had been taken into the confidence of the Government, and been made acquainted with the acuteness of the shipping problem, it might have galvanized Ministers into something like activity, just as Sir William Irvine did in regard to the conscription issue. The Government - this Parliament, if you like - have been criminally neglectful of their responsibilities in this direction. They say, “We have no ships. We have no men who understand shipbuilding, no engineers ready to undertake that class of work, and no engines.” The engines would have to come from somewhere else, but there was nothing to prevent us going ahead with the building of the hulls, had we been really in earnest in the matter of rendering genuine assistance to the Old Country. The £100,000 which was spent on -taking the last referendum would have provided twelve months’ interest at 4i per cent, on £2,500,000, which amount would have paid for the construction of twenty ships of 5,000 tons register. Long ago we should have started to do something towards the transportation to the Old Country of the foodstuffs which we have here in abundance.
– The honorable senator is playing the “after” game for all it is worth.
– I know that it is easy to criticise, but the responsibility rests on honorable senators opposite. The record harvest of 1916-17 is still in stacks in Australia, and the harvest for 1917-18 will be gathered in the course of a week or two. All this produce will be on our hands. I admit that it has been paid for, and that the money is in Australia. It has been advanced upon a security for which we are not able to find a market.
– The Prime Minister has done more for shipping in eighteen months than all previous Prime Ministers did.
– The point is that he lias not done enough.
– That is the man the honorable senator is criticising.
– I am doing nothing of the kind. The Prime Minister purchased sixteen or seventeen steamers at the other end of the world at a cost of about £2,000,000. It was a very good purchase, and the vessels have rendered very excellent service ; but the very fact that they have been such a success should have spurred the Government on to do something more, when they knew to what extent foodstuffs were accumulating in Australia and how badly they were needed by our kith and kin at the other end of the world. We know that the utmost capacity of the Allied nations is unable to cope with the submarine menace. Only last week eighteen ships of over 1,600 tons were sunk. This shows that the U-boats are as effective to-day as they were six or eight months ago, and that they are levying a very heavy toll on the shipping of the Old World, such a toll that Great Britain has to place her inhabitants on a ration.
It may interest honorable senators to know what another country has been doing in the matter of shipbuilding whilst the Commonwealth Government have been asleep. Up to the present, covering a period of something like ten years, the Japanese Government have subsidized shipbuilding to the extent of over 100,000,000 yen. One company alone, the Nippon Yusen Kaisha, has received over 10,000,000 yen by way of subsidy. Twelve months ago Japan had, comparatively speaking, only a small mercantile fleet..
– She had that thirty years ago.
– She has not a very large mercantile fleet now.
– She was building ships thirty years ago.
– What has that to do with the question ? If the honorable senator cannot make an interjection that is apropos, he had better remain quiet. In 1916, by comparison with the United States of America and Great Britain, Japan had only a small mercantile fleet.
– Can the honorable senator give the tonnage for 1916 7
– Yes. I extract the following particulars from The World Almanac for 1917 concerning the mercantile tonnage of the different countries in 1916: -
– Nearly 2,000,000 tons for Japan !
– That is so; but have honorable senators any idea of the frenzied shipbuilding activity of Japan during the last few years ? Would it surprise them to know that, in the last twelve months, Japan’ has turned out 400,000 tons of shipping ?
– Were there any general strikes there 1
– Yes; but I expected that the question would come from Senator de Largie. They had two strikes in Japan while I was there, but I assure honorable senators that I had nothing to do with them. I am glad to be able to tell Senator Crawford that, although there were two very big strikes in Japan, one in a Mitsubishi shipbuilding yard, where something like 13,000 men were employed, and another in coal mines employing some 5,000 hands, they were settled without difficulty, and the men got what they were asking for.
– That is proof of a developing Asia.
– That is so; and it is proof, also, that amongst Japanese workmen there is more loyalty of one to another than there is amongst Europeans. I understand that the shipping company paid a wage of 1 yen 50 sen, and the men struck for another 50 sen, or 2 yen, which is a dollar, or 4s. 2d. per day. No Japanese could be found to take the place of the strikers in that strike. The same thing is true of the strike in the coal mines. Each of these strikes was settled within two or three days by granting the demands of the strikers.- I had nothing to do either with the strikes or with the settlement.
Senator Guthrie will see, when we remember the huge number of ships of the Allies that have been sunk by the Huns during the last three years, and i he rapidity with which the Japanese have been building ships, that Japan to-day occupies a much more prominent position in the mercantile shipping world than she has done hitherto.
I was interested in this question when T was in Japan, and it may surprise honorable senators to learn that to-day in that country there are twelve shipbuilding yards in full work, and two more, costing something like 3,000,000 yen, in course of construction. I was privileged to visit the yard of the Osaka Iron Works, and this and the Mitsubishi Dock-yard are the two most extensive works of the kind in Japan. I can assure honorable senators that in the shipbuilding yard I visited I saw seven ships on seven different stocks in course of construction at the same time. These vessels would range from 2,000 to 8,000 tons register. At the two shipbuilding yards in course of construction it is proposed to build ships up to 18,000 tons register. There is in the shipbuilding works alone of Japan a capital of 800,000,000 yen invested, and these works employ over 63,000 hands. To-day Japan need not worry about assistance from any other country for the transport of its products, since Japanese ships are traversing every ocean and are carrying Japanese products, which, during the last few years have increased in number and volume to a remarkable extent, to every market in the world. Having satisfied myself as to the extent to which the industrious people of Japan are developing the business of shipbuilding, I am the more convinced that in this country we have been,, and are still, much too neglectful of this important work.
– A good many British ships are being built in the East.
– Yes. I understand that a very good class of ship is being built at Hong Kong, but there are only two dockyards there. I have here an extract taken from the Japanese Advertiser of 6th July, 1917, which I regard of so much importance that I feel justified in getting it into Hansard. It is a return showing the number of ships that were at the time under construction in “Japan. I desire to make the shipbuilding efforts of Japan in 1917 known to honorable senators in the hope that the information may have the effect of making them realize how important it is that the great work of shipbuilding should be undertaken by the Commonwealth Government rather than that an isolated country like this should be left to the mercy of ships provided by private enterprise.
– Does the honorable senator mean by that that contracts for shipbuilding should not be given to existing privately-owned yards?
– I do not mean anything of the kind. I say that at the present juncture the Government should utilize-
– All facilities.
– Yes; all possible facilities that may be offered. I am speaking of the future policy of shipbuilding which I hope this Commonwealth Parliament will adopt. Last year the Japanese Government paid out 3,129,000 yen for subsidies in shipbuilding. It was anticipated that the output of the docks for 1917 would be 400,000 tons of shipping. I saw much in Japan to surprise as well as to interest me, but the wonderful activity in that country in connexion with shipbuilding was not the least surprising thing that came under my notice: I am in some difficulty in connexion with the publication in Hansard of the return of ships under construction in Japan to which I have referred. I understand that, in order to get it into Ilansard, I am required by the Standing Orders to read it, -which I have some diffidence in doing, because of the Japanese names. I should like a direction in the matter.
– Hansard is, as nearly as possible, a correct record of what honorable, senators say or quote. If an honorable senator neither says nor quotes a thing: it does not appear in Hansard. That has always been the rule, and I cannot authorize Hansard to print a document which has not been quoted.
– The return is as follows: -
This Parliament has not given the important subject of shipping the attention it deserves. I sincerely hope that a very few months will see all the facilities, limited though they may be, which this Commonwealth is able to place at the disposal of the Government utilized to the utmost capacity. I hope I may say, without being accused of blowing the trumpet of my own State - for I have never been a parochialist, but have always claimed to be an Australian - that, if Tasmania can offer facilities in the building of ships equal to those of other States, everything else being equal, I strongly object to the concentration of such a great work in any one State. Most honorable senators who have visited Tasmania will have seen, in the south, north, and northwest, the very fine shipbuilding facilities that exist there.
– On the Tamar?
– Yes, on the Tamar, which has a very big rise and fall.
– Is it true that Launceston has imposed a poll tax of 2s. per head on all Australians entering or leaving that port?
– They would be justified in imposing a penalty of ?2 on any person capable of asking such a question, but, as a matter of fact, they will pay visitors a premium for going there in the shape of a holiday in the best healthgiving air in the Commonwealth. Tasmania has been described as a country “with a climate as mild as a mother’s smile, and a soil as fruitful as God’s love.”
Senator Senior reminded me a few minutes ago that, amongst the other great national matters dealt with by this Government, was war-time profits taxation. The less said about that puny effort tha better. Sir John Forrest’s estimate of the’ amount to be raised by it is ?500,000. The measure was said to be so unfair and inequitable in- its operation that it met with the hostility and condemnation of that very worthy representative of financial institutions, Sir William Irvine.
– It ought to have commended itself to you at once.
– It does not commend itself to me at all. I have always had rather a high regard for the honour and integrity of that gentleman, although politically I differ seriously from him.
– You spoke of the financial institutions opposing it.
-IsaidSirWilliam Irvine was a very worthy representative of many financial institutions, hut I had no desire or intention to make the allusion in any offensive way. When the first Hughes Government succeeded the Labour Government led by Mr. Andrew Fisher, the Labour Treasurer - Mr. Higgs - proposed to raise £3,000,000 by the wartime profits tax. Subsequently a shuffling of the cards took place, and Mr. Poynton became one of the historic twelve. For his loyalty on that occasion he was appointed Treasurer. In consequence of the altered opinions of the subordinates of Mr. Hughes, he cut the estimate down by another £1,000,000, and anticipated to receive £2,000,000 from that source. Then another shuffling of the cards took place, and the party of the Leader of the Government in the Senate becoming predominant in the new Government made necessary a further re-adjustment of the amount to be levied under the measure, with the result that we have now before us Sir John Forrest’s estimate of £500,000. There are in this chamber honorable senators who are continually quoting, and often rightly, the example of the Old Country in legislation. We are asked to follow the example of the British Government in most matters, but not in that of taxation. It is proposed to take only £500,000 from the great wealth of this country - much of it accumulated as the result of the war - and it almost makes me blush to quote the Imperial figures for nine months of the present year.
– The British Government derives most of that amount from shipping and munitions of war.
– Is not that a shocking admission - that munitions of war are the subject of private contract?
– That is patriotism.
– It is, indeed. For the nine months of the present year, the British Government has received in excess profits taxation, £143,945,000.
– Most of the munitions there are made by private companies; ours are made by Government concerns.
– What munitions do we make here? The honorable senator should wake up.
– The honorable senator must know that the munitions we produce are as a drop in the ocean.
– I do not think it would be fitting for me to criticise the manner in which the Old Country levies its excess war profits tax. My function is to point out what the Imperial Government have done, the amount they receive in this connexion, and how little we have done.
– Will the honorable senator deny that by far the greater portion of the sum which he has mentioned is derived from shipping and munitions, of which Australia has none?
– Would the honorable senator be surprised to know that the war profits tax in the Old Country is based on pre-war conditions, and that although last year the White Star Steamship Company paid dividends of 65 per cent. to its shareholders, those dividends have not been challenged under the excess war profits tax because they represented the dividends paid by the company prior to the outbreak of war.
– That is so.
– Then there is not much in the statement that the revenue from war profits taxation in the Old Country has come out of shipping and munitions.
– The bulk of it has come from shipping and munitions.
– Indirectly, perhaps, it has. But sad havoc has been inflicted on shipping during the past twelve months. Obviously, therefore, shipping would not play a large part in the accumulation of the big sum which has been collected under the war profits tax. I think that the great bulk of the revenue collected from that source has been derived from munitions. I know that twelve months ago Kynoch’s big ammunition works had paid a 25 per cent. dividend, and a bonus of 7 per cent. in addition. These amounts had been made out of the necessities of the country - out of the instruments that our soldiers were using at the Front in the defence of these profiteers.
– Would not those dividends be subject to taxation ?
– Unquestionably they would.
– If the honorable senator admits that the bulk of tlie revenue derived by the Old Country from war-time profits comes from munitions, why does he institute a comparison with Australia, where no munitions are made ?
– I did not institute the comparison - an honorable senator opposite did that.
– It was the honorable senator’s own argument. He does not understand the position.
– My duty is to supply Senator de Largie with arguments. I cannot furnish him with understanding. Senator Pratten has said that the bulk of these war-time profits are derived from shipping and munitions.
– But the honorable senator himself first made the comparison with Australia.
– After Senator de Largie had introduced the subject.
– Why, the honorable senator had it on his carefully prepared notes.
– I can assure the Minister, for Repatriation that I had not. I hesitated to analyze the amount, because, obviously, I could know nothing about it. I merely quoted the sum which the Imperial Government had raised during nine months under its War-time Profits Act for the purpose of comparing it with the paltry amount which we propose to raise from tlie wealth_ of this country.
– Upon what did Mr. Higgs base his, estimate that £3,000,000 annually would be collected from his war-time profits tax?
– We shall show the honorable senator that during the course of the next few weeks when a reconstruction of the Ministry takes place.
– I think the honorable senator’ will recognise that whilst estimates) of succeeding Treasurers have ranged from £3,000,000 to £500,000, the alteration was merely one of estimates, and not of the measure of taxation.
– Now that the Minister for Repatriation has opened up the subject, I shall be justified in developing it a little further. When Mr. Higgs estimated that under his War-time Profits Tax he would receive a revenue of £3,000,000, he had behind him a solidparty which would insist upon wealth paying its fair share towards liquidating our war indebtedness. But a little later, when Mr. Hughes left the Labour party and took Mr. Poynton with him, some of his present colleagues offered to support him, but said, “ You must remember that we have a lot of supporters among the wealthy people, and consequently you must not make things too hot.” Accordingly, Mr. Poynton came down with a new schedule, under which he proposed to collect only about £2,000,000 annually.
– Under what- rate of tax ? The same rate as that proposed by Mr. Higgs. It was only a difference of the estimate as to what it would yield.
– Then the Hughes party became diluted with a still greater strain of the Liberal party, so ably led by Senator Millen in this Chamber, and it was decided that a further concession must be made to the wealth of this country. Accordingly Sir John Forrest presented his revised estimate of £500,000.
– It was the same tax.
– But obviously it was a different rate.
– It was the same rate, but a different estimate as to what it would yield. It was the same rate, namely, 50 per cent, for the first year. What happened under the original Bill was that two years were thrown together.
– Does the Minister know what Sir William Irvine said of Sir John Forrest’s proposal? . ‘
– I do not take my politics from what Sir William Irvine may say.
– Just listen to what that gentleman says will be the effect of this Bill on ‘ the wealth of this country, as represented by the great financial institutions, the metal companies, and the shipping companies. He says -
This Bill will take from the great hulk of the big companies and the rich men who have made war profits, nothing whatever more than if it were thrown into the waste-paper basket; but it will take away a considerable portion of the profits of smaller businesses.
– Your Bill would have had exactly the same effect.
– How does the honorable senator know that. If he will read that Bill, he will find that although the principle contained in it is essentially the same, the rate is quite different.
– The rate was the same, but the honorable senator’s party first included an earlier year, which they dropped when they faced the electors, just as they ran away from the wealth levy.
– The honorable senator is all right on the shipping question, but he is somewhat cloudy on this subject.
– There was one advantage which he possessed in speaking upon the shipping question - we did not know anything about it, and were therefore not in a position to contradict him.
– Upon this particular matter I am modest enough to admit that Sir William Irvine is a much better authority than I am. That gentleman went on to say-
If there was any pledge to the country, if the late election was really fought on this issue, and there were no other issues before the people, or if this was one of the material issues bef ore the people, the substance of it was that we should so frame our legislation that we should, as nearly as possible, tax, under this form of taxation, the profits of those metal companies, those shipping companies, those softgoods companies, those chemical businesses, and others whose gains, whose stocks, whose freights, or whose other sources of revenue had, by reason of the war, enabled them to make larger profits. But the Bill lets them off.
That is the price which Mr. Hughes and his immediate followers had to pay to the Liberal party.
– The provision to which the honorable senator refers was the same in both Bills. The honorable senator’s reference to this matter is quite pathetic.
– I am not the only person in Australia whothinks that, after all there is but one man in the party opposite who stands out as an honest, consistent politician upon this question - I allude to Sir William Irvine. Upon this great issue he has been consistent throughout .
– Did the honorable senator call him consistent when, after having expressed approval of certain constitutional amendments, he turned and voted against them ? The honorable sena tor did not call him either honest or consistent then.
– I say that on the question of conscription Sir William Irvine has always been honest and consistent.
SenatorBakhap. - He only took it up about a couple of years after the war had started.
– When, possibly, he had satisfied himself that it was the correct thing to advocate.
– He expressly stated that the War Census Act was not passed with a view to securing data in support of the conscription movement.
– He has advocated conscription, and he has never run away from its as the honorable senator has done.
– The trouble with him, and , a good many more people, is that he did not advocate it soon enough.
– He never ran away from it like the honorable senator did. He is ready to put his faith to the test if he be given a chance to do so. But in view of recent happenings he is not likely to get! that chance.
– I understand that the honorable senator’s party were willing to give him the chance the other day.
– I can give the Minister my personal assurance that there is not an atom of truth in that statement. The honest man never consulted my party in any shape or form, nor did he send an emissary. The disintegration of the political party opposite will be brought about without any assistance from us. It is only a matter of time. A Government built upon such a foundation cannot hope to last. Much as I shall be sorry to lose Senator Millen,I am afraid that his time will come soon.
– The honorable senator has to face an election before he has.
– And I may meet the fate that has befallen many a good ‘man. In consequence ofthe numerous but friendly interjections of honorable senators opposite, I have occupied more time than I had intended to occupy. I am afraid, therefore, that I shall be obliged to cut out many kindly references to my honorable friend.
I shall conclude with the expression of the hope that, by the time we meet again, after an adjournment of some months, we shall be able to congratulate each other on the fact that the war has ended in a decisive victory for the Allies, or, if that is not to be, that it has been terminated by an honorable peace, and that the results gained will be proportionate with the tremendous sacrifices that the Allies have made in this great struggle. Perhaps when the war is over a good deal of the bitterness that now exists may disappear, and something may be done to bring into existence a Government under which peace, goodwill, harmony, and justice will prevail, and there will be developed all that is best and right, all that is most generous and patriotic in Australian men and women.
– The Prime Minister of Great Britain has within the last few days spoken in the gravest terms of the peril of the Empire and the Allies, and even the humblest of us must judiciously weigh any utterance which he may contemplate regarding the war position. Beyond all doubt the situation is perilous in the extreme. We have read during the last two or three days that, in the city of Sheffield, English people have been rushing to shops established there by Belgian refugees for the sale of horse flesh. We read that rationing is in contemplation.
– It is in existence.
– It is to come into existence on the 25th of this month.
– When the Prime Minister of Great Britain made his speech, compulsory rationing was incontemplation, but was not in force. If it now is in force, my remarks are the more apposite. Mr. Lloyd George has warned us that a Democracy, if it will not endure to the end, must perish. He has told us that we must either “ go on or go under.” He has said that if the men in the trenches are not satisfactorily reinforced they will be almost justified in following the Russian example in walking out. Recrimination is being indulged in by the public men of the Empire as to the sharing between the politicians and the soldiers of the responsibility for the military position.. We are told that a great many of the inconveniences that have attended the contemplated advance of the Allied Forces have been caused by the lack of sufficiently large and timely drafts of men. The eating of horse flesh has been hitherto associated in the minds of the people of the United Kingdom with beleaguered fortresses, with towns around which lines ofcircumvallation have been thrown. When we hear of these things it behoves us, as one of the most important Dominions of the Empire having a white population, to consider the remarkable pass to which the Empire has come.
It will be well in this connexion to cultivate a sense of proportion. We have been discussing many matters which, though fairly important in themselves, are small in relation to the general issue. My principal concern is for victory. It is victory that I want, and it is victory that is essential to the cause of the Empire and its Allies, which, beyond all cavil and doubt, is the cause of humanity. Apart from what Lloyd George may say, or what sentiments this or that league may express, or even what may be the opinion of so great a man as President Wilson, I declare in all sincerity and with all conviction that victory is essential to the cause of the Empire and its Allies. Day and night with me there is a feeling of fear that we may be misled, that the leaders of the Empire, or the chiefs among our Allies, may foolishly be led into making with the enemy an inconclusive and unsatisfactory peace. A peace made in the present temper of the ruling classes of Germany would to all intents and purposes be the equivalent of a German victory. Every man who wishes to do justice to himself will endeavour to school his mind to a proper appreciation of the facts; if he wishes to get a proper sense of things he will refrain, to use colloquial Australian, from “pulling his own leg.” I subscribe to the deliverance of one of the best-known writers on the war situation, who has said, “ The enemy thing unbroken is incompatible with us. Either it lives and we die, orit dies and we live.” If, after the war, the German is able to go about the world smacking his chest and saying, “ The whole world was against us, but we kept the soil of Germany inviolate, and imposed our will on our enemies,” then the disintegration of that great Empire of which we are proud to be citizens is within measurable distance. It is essential that the leaders of Labour, and the political leaders too, shall understand that we are at the parting of the ways. If our will to war becomes paralyzed before that of the Germans, we shall be defeated. It is idle to say that the Ger mans are suffering greater privations than the people of our Empire. If they intend to endure longer than we are prepared to endure, the fact that they are suffering more now matters little, because, enduring longer, they will secure the victory, and we shall experience the defeat.
It is essential for us to recognise that differences of opinion in regard to the desirability of making peace have caused conflict among the people of our Empire in other wars. It is always because the ruling classes of the Empire have shown a tenacious spirit, like, that of the old Romans, the determination to hang on, to achieve victory at all costs, that the Empire is what it is to-day. Now: I very rarely indulge in anything like prophecy, and I remember that Mark Twain has very wisely advised us never to prophesy unless we know; but I do take the responsibility of declaring that if the people of this great democratic Empire of ours - we are all interested in the preservation of our liberties - have sufficient resolution to endure this year, victory is certain, because the insidious German peace propaganda keeps in view the fact that, before long, the organizing genius and inventive ability of 100,000,000 people across the Atlantic Ocean will be brought to bear. They know quite well that once America’s strength is exerted, nothing can save the German Empire from a pretty substantial defeat. And during the recent referendum campaign a most singular use was made of the fact that America is our ally. But I warn the people that this is the crucial year, and that? on the confession of Mr. Frank Simmonds, who is recognised as America’s greatest writer on military subjects, we must not entertain .any illusion about America’s military effort during 1918. In an article in Land and Water, he says that the troops or assistance which America can provide during this year must be regarded rather as an earnest of her intention than anything else, and that we had better understand that American armies will not be sent into the field in anything like substantial numbers before 1919. Therefore, every English-speaking man, every citizen of the Empire, who entertains a real and loyal hope that its prestige may be preserved, must understand that this year will be the real trying and testing time. Let us endure. Let us preserve our will to war unimpaired during 1918.
If we do this, we may rest assured that victory, with all its compensations, can be promised. I have no hesitation in saying that if the British people do not become “wobbly” at the knees, but will equal and surpass, the Germans - in endurance during this year, the ultimate and comparatively speedy success of our cause will be insured. But it will be incumbent on British people in all parts of the world to endure during 1918. If we get over this year, if we withstand the insidious efforts on behalf of a peace which would be equivalent^ a German victory, we shall, during 1919, be able to bring about peace imposed by the victorious arms of our. Empire and our noble Allies.That is the ideal we must keep in view. These are times when all public men have a profound responsibility and great duty resting upon their shoulders, and I say that, in this crucial hour, it is their sacred duty to animate and inspire the people with hope and an inflexible determination to endure until victory is achieved.
I may say that I am greatly disappointed, but not very much surprised, at the result of the recent referendum. It is probable that, had other action been taken, something better might have been achieved. I am sorry that, in a demo;cratic community like ours, the referendum was decided upon without some submission of its terms to the National Parliament. But regrets are vain. It is to the future that we must turn our attention. Nothing will be gained by whining over the past. The people of Australia had a great opportunity available to them in 1916, and they had another on the 20th December last, but, unfortunately, a kind of dementia, which I can only compare to that derangement of mind which afflicts unfortunate people occasionally, and which sometimes impels unhappy men to emasculate themselves, overtook the people of Australia, who in a sense emasculated themselves by voting “ No,” and thus to a large extent fettered any future Administration in regard to Australia’s war efforts. The people very unwisely, in my judgment, voted “No.” A very large number voted “ Yes,” but I am sorry to say that my opinion of the referendum as an instrument of government and for ascertaining popular opinion has been very considerably impaired by what was discovered by me during my attempts to assist in securing * satisfactory “ Yes “ vote.
I found that most remarkable motives and most singular reasons inspired some people to vote one way or the other. On one occasion I met a sensible woman who was at the time in the throes of a breach of promise action with some swain who had deserted her. She was a most enthusiastic “Yes” voter,, and when I laughingly asked her for her reasons, she expressed the hope that conscription would be carried, so that this gentleman who had breached his promise would be sent to the Front and killed. Another friend of mine whose entire, household would vote “ Yes “ had some sort of a quarrel with the head of a Department, and he told me that he would vote “‘No” in the hope that it would lead to a change of Government and the dismissal from the Commonwealth employment of the departmental head referred to. If in a great national crisis like this fairly intelligent people have their opinions determined by considerations of the ‘ kind I have mentioned, one must re-adjust one’s ideas concerning the referendum as an instrument for ascertaining the public will. Even in those well-conducted Democracies where the referendum has been used for some years, it has come to be regarded as a Conservative instrument. I venture to say that Parliaments are nearly always more progressive than and considerably in advance of the great body of electors whose opinions are asked by medium of a referendum, for “whenever a direct question involving personal interests is submitted to the electors for their judgment they will invariably vote on the Conservative side. The referendum, therefore, is recognised by nearly all political writers ‘ of any great status as a Conservative instrument, and it is rarely used. Honorable senators will, of course, remember’ that the referendum has been employed on several occasions since the inception of the Commonwealth, and that in regard to only two or three trivial and impersonal matters have we secured an affirmative vote.
– Federation itself was brought about as the result of a referendum.
– At the- second time of asking, as the honorable senator knows.
– A majority of the people voted “ Yes” at the first Federal referendum.
– But the majority was not nearly so large as that polled ir favour of Federation at the second time of asking. This illustrates the correctness of my argument.
I had no very great hope of the second conscription referendum being carried. I thought that, in the circumstances, and with the full knowledge of the fact that the position of the Allies was certainly more perilous than in October, 1916, a sufficiently large number of electors might have changed their minds to enable us to secure a bare “ Yes “ majority. But the campaign had hardly opened before I recognised that the position was very nearly hopeless. I had always considered it perilous, even before the publication of the result of the voting at the first referendum. When I saw that over 100,000 virile, or assumedly virile, Australians who had been called into camp, who were of fit military age, and who had been declared medically fit, had, to the extent of about 95 per cent, of their numbers, applied for exemption, I contemplated the future of my country with very doubtful feelings. The fact is that nearly 100,000 men called into camp in 1916 applied for exemption, and T think it can reasonably be stated that the great majority of them voted “ No.”
I encountered the most amazing and most unnecessary candour on the part of some of these young men. I was surprised at the attitude taken up by many who had been friend’s of mine since their early childhood, and by many I had known almost since their birth. In the most friendly way they stated to me at street corners that they would not go to the wai’; that if the referendum were carried they would have to be bound with ropes and transported by main force to the scene of action. When I reasoned with them - when I asked, “ Why this unnecessary solicitude about the issue of the referendum ? Why this unnecessary fear about going to the field of battle and fighting as so many of your countrymen are fighting? “ - they told me, in very plain Australian, that they were afraid they would suffer from an infirmity which I can best characterize by the use of an expressive phrase culled from the fertile pages of the elegant Plutarch, who, describing a general who suffered from the same infirmity, says, “His bowels used to lose their retentive faculty.” I explained this to these young men, and told them that their candour did not lead me to believe, as they imagined it would, that they would not make fair soldiers. It was a very stout general whom we read of in the pages of history, and, despite the affliction which always overtook him on the day of battle, he accomplished some very great military deeds. He was an eminent warrior - in fact, one of the greatest generals of Grecian antiquity.
– But that description of his infirmity was not “ plain Australian.”
– Quite so-; I am construing the “plain Australian” into the elegant language of classical writers. These men probably were very much better material than were those bie commercial men - Owners of big businesses here - who, while leading the “Yes” speakers to believe that they were going to vote “Yes,” were marshalling their entire households to vote “No” at the polls. If I had sufficient knowledge of military tactics I should not be afraid to lead into battle the men who confessed to me at street corners that they were afraid, for I believe that they would prove good soldiers. They only feared that they would be afraid, and the probability is that they would do as well as any of their countrymen, who have fought so gallantly on the European battle fields. The referendum was defeated by the selfishness of those classes of the nation who ought to have known a great deal better. It was defeated by men who ought to have risen to a sense of their duty, but did not recognise the responsibility that rested upon them because of their citizenship in one of the greatest Empires in history. The referendum was defeated by the insidious opposition of many who professed to be its supporters.
I regret that we were not allowed to deliberate here on the details of the referendum, because I recognise that in it’ we had probably the last opportunity that will ever present itself for obtaining most interesting information in regard to the psychology of the Australian nation. I wanted the ballot-papers polled by voters of the two sexes to be placed in separate ballot-boxes. I wanted to know, whether the vote was an affirmative or a negative one, which sex was responsible for it. The voters on the Commonwealth rolls are classified by letters indicating their sex, and I am very sorry that opportunity was not given for the casting of the ballot-papers into what I might call sex ballot-boxes. We would have known then whether the lack of fibre was in the male or the female portion of the voting population. I am sorry to say - and this again fills me with greater doubt than ever as to the future of this country - that the figures I have in connexion with two of the seventy-five electorates for the House of Representatives into which the Commonwealth is divided, show that in one of them the number of female votes polled was more than 1,300 in excess of the male votes, and that in that electorate there was a substantial “Yes” majority, whereas in the other, where the male voters who exercised the franchise were over 1,000 in excess of the female voters, there was a “ No “ majority of nearly 1,000. Unlike many others who have investigated this matter, I am of the opinion that it was not the women who lacked soul or fibre - that it is not our women* who are unworthy of being compared with the Spartan mothers - but the decadent manhood, the too great pleasure-loving manhood of Australia remaining behind here, that was responsible for the’ “ No “ vote. I attribute the result of - the referendum to a large negative vote on the part of male electors. In the two electorates the statistics of which are at my disposal, I am able to show that where there was a preponderance of female voters there was a majority of “ Yes “ votes, and where there was a large preponderance of male voters there was an almost equivalent majority of “ No “ votes. That speaks little for the virility of the Australian men who have remained behind.
– It speaks very well for them._
– Of course, the honorable senator will differ from this view. j
– By what authority does the honorable senator sit in judgment upon those who constituted the majority at the referendum poll?
– The authority that I owe to my self-respect. I am here, in one of the legislative chambers of the nation, to express my honest opinions.
No tope of cajoling the electors, no hope of “ smoodging “ to them - to use an Australianism - no hope of pandering to them, or of ingratiating myself with them because of anything I may or may not say, will prevent me from saying anything that I believe it to be my duty to say at this juncture in our national fortunes.
I must say that the Official Labour party’s attitude, since it got into Opposi-‘ tion, compares very unfavorably with that of the Liberal Opposition during the first two years of the prosecution of the war. During those two years, as we have heard from the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce), the then ‘ Government received the loyal assistance of the Liberal Opposition. I venture to say that in the House of Representatives the Liberal Opposition was conspicuous for the loyal assistance it rendered to Ministers in regard to all their measures for the prosecution of the war. Circumstances, which we did not compel, and over which we had no control, caused a split in the Labour party. Since then, I venture to say, that section of the Labour party that has gone into Opposition has been conspicuous for nothing else but a constant attempt to thwart the efforts of the Administration to continue to do the best possible in the prosecution of the war.
– The records of Parliament prove that the Opposition has given every assistance to the Government in connexion with their war measures.
– I do not think so. The records of Australian politics, since a- section of the Labour party went into Opposition, simply teem with evidence that the Administration has had to face incessant attempts to thwart its best endeavours. There is this to be said - and honorable senators who sit in Opposition must know I am telling the truth - that, bereft of the most scientific, democratic, and equitable way of raisin? troops for reinforcements, the possible efforts of any Ministry must be regarded as seriously impaired. It is true that much can be done in the way of providing shipping, as -Senator Pratten suggested, and in the stimulation of the production of .metals and ores and in the establishment of factories for munitions within our Territory. A thoroughly enthusiastic effort may secure great results in these .directions ; but in regard to the vita! essential of men, beyond all doubt the Australian people, by their referendum vote, have seriously impaired the efforts of any Administration that may be in office. It is as well to recite these facts, and honorable senators opposite know them as well as I do.
When I went down into the city today, I found the cajoling system in full operation. The bands were playing, men “ spruiking “ from platforms - the splendid voluntary system ! All the circus methods of Wirth and other promoters of such pageants, are in full use by the military authorities of this great Dominion of the Empire. Blow your trumpets ! Beat your drums ! Drag in the services of politicians, and get women to meet young men individually and shame them into enlisting. It is a misuse of the word “ voluntary “ ; it is not the voluntary system at all. Why do you call for speakers, and for the establishment of recruiting committees ? Why should there be all these things in connexion with the voluntary system? It is a system of cajolery; that is all it is. It depends on the war-like enthusiasm of those youths who are approaching their majority, and on the indignation of men really past the military age, who, in their righteous wrath, tell untruths in order to get themselves accepted by the enlisting authorities.
If I have erred since the beginning of the war in advocating compulsion I have erred with the somewhat laggard authorities of Great Britain - with Asquith, with Lloyd George, with Roosevelt, with Wilson, with the Judges of the Supreme Court of the United States of America, who, the other day, would not allow an appeal in a case where a wealthy man had been sentenced to fine and imprisonment for having stigmatized conscription as slavery. The very fact that that man had the effrontery, in the free-born community of America, to stigmatize an equitable, democratic effort, instituted by the Legislature, as slavery; cost him a term of imprisonment and a fine of 10,000 dollars. The impeccable and unimpeachable authority of the Supreme Court quashed the appeal and allowed the conviction to stand. If I err, I err in company in which I am glad to be.
I do not plead guilty to having used one offensive or vituperative term during the prosecution of the two referendum campaigns in which I assisted. I admit that for good or ill - perhaps for. ill - this is a Democracy; and when a question is relegated to a Democracy for decision, it is implied that there are two sides to it, and vituperation and invective in connexion with the arguments for and against are entirely out of place. I have never accused a “ No “ voter of being disloyal or of being a traitor, but I have said, as I shall say now, that those who voted “No” were beguiled and misled, and, in a national and Imperial sense, came to an essentially wrong, and possibly, fatal decision.
I had not intended to speak, and would not have spoken, had it not occurred to me that it would be well if I incorporated in Hansard certain extracts from German publications which ought to serve as a terrible warning to tie people of Australia in regard to their international association with the people of the German race. What I am going to quote might, perhaps, be regarded as the production of pan-Germans, or jingoistic Germans, of a somewhat ignorant class, but, as a matter of fact, educated Germans, belonging to the professorial class, are responsible for the opinions expressed. I venture to say that, although the people of the British race are not impeccable - although they have their faults - it would be impossible to get a series of British publications embodying threats or suggestions such as these in regard to dealing with the -people of the German race if we should fortunately prove victorious. Some honorable members may think that I am a jingoistic kind of man. Not at all. I would not advocate the retention of the German colonies captured by the Australian troops, if I did not think it was absolutely essential to the safety and welfare of Australia, and of our children in the days to come. Honorable senators know that I have taken certain action in a certain direction, and that action has secured the almost unqualified indorsement of the Senate. If honorable senators will favour me with their attention for a moment they will be well repaid; and if the Australian electors, or such of them as read Hansard, will peruse carefully what they will find in its pages within the next few days, and will, as a matter of patriotism and of justice to themselves and posterity, spread the knowledge and intelligence amongst their fellow-electors, both men and women, they will do the country a service. This is the first extract -
Our expenses of war will bc paid by the vanquished; The black, white, red flag shall float over all seas and on Austral land. The whole .world shall stand open to us to develop the energy of the German nature in unhampered competition. We must break the tyranny with which Britain, by the assistance of the Australian Fleet, would rule the world. We will yet see our navy and army quartered in Australia, where we will develop -its hidden wealth, known to us, and unknown to the people of Austral land, whom we shall keep busy - through our agents - at war among themselves. The domination of Australia will be our greatest joy.
The gentleman responsible for this is Professor Otto von Gierke, doctor of jurisprudence, philosophy, professor at Berlin University, and holder of an honorary degree of Harvard University, United States of America. The extract is from pamphlet No. 2, page 23, Deutsche Reden in Schwerer Zeit (“German speeches in difficult days”), a series of pamphlets by the professors of Berlin University. I come now to the future of our women, according to another German writer: -
Why do the young women of Oceanica carry cupids in their peggy-bags and as charms on their breasts? They used to bear teddy-bears; now it is upon the cards they will not carry any images when we, as rulers, dominate the land of the Southern Cross. - Kurd von Strantz, page 27, Dos Wirkliche Australian. (“The Ileal Australia.”)
Other extracts are -
A hundred times more glowing than our steel shall the mark of our contempt be branded upon the British. Wander, thou Australian scum, as a lonely Ahasuerus, restless and unhappy, over land and sea. And if thou sayest I have flung the firebrand of hell from Earth to Heaven, over sea and land, I have struck God and mankind in the face, and must now bear all their curses, an everlasting stigma seared with fire; then shalt thou speak the truth for the first time.” - Otto Riemasch, page 49. (“Hurrah und Hallelujah.”
When our party visited Oceanica we keenly observed everything in Austral land. We had a liberal allowance for travelling expenses, and hence the womenfolk literally threw themselves at us. We anticipate a swift time when we return to the land of the Southern Cross in the role of conquerors. Omar the Persian will be outdone. Decameron will not be read again after our chronicles are published. - Ernst Moritz Arndt, Jnr., in Zur Characteristik der Australier. (“ Australian Characteristics,” page 23.)
When we come to Australia we do not anticipate any difficulty with the younger generati’on. They have proved themselves to be the most arrant cowards. The young males are spineless jellyfish. The only people they bully are their aged parents, to whom they should be a blessing in their old age, but are a curse. It would have been better for the world had they been strangled at birth. They only speak truth by accident, or only when a lie will not serve their purpose. They have no respect for the aged. The only time they go to church is when divine service is ended, and then for the purpose of waylaying the young maidens, who, for outward appearances and respectability, attend the evening devotions. Their only ambition is to workin a dry-goods store, an office, or emporium. They have not any desire to exercise their intellect. We will put them in gangs on the roads, and making fortifications, locking them in stockades at night.
They are to be treated just like kaffirs in compounds. This is the future which this German gentleman pictures for Australians if the black, red, and white flag of Germany is victorious.
– What newspaper republished those statements?
– I am reading from the Launceston Examiner.
– Does the honorable senator think that the reading of this matter will assist recruiting ?
– I wish to arouse the Australian people to a sense of their danger, and to a sense of the racial ideals entertained by educated men in Germany, by men who have the tuition of the German youth, who lecture to German students, and who for the past forty or fifty years have really formed German opinions.
– What is the name and date of that publication?
– I shall give it to the honorable senator when I am finished. The extract continues -
Only the German conquerors will be permitted to the drama, sports, and other amusements. After a time we will allowthe womenfolk freedom, but they will not be permitted to speak even to their Australian boys - our slaves. They will soon forget them and embrace us, as witness the number of girls, to say nothing of mature women, who are our avowed friends. “By their fruits ye shall know them.” All the same, they prove very uninteresting companions, owing to lack of intellectuality, but will soon become at least docile in our hands. They are not on a much higher plane than the black or brown savage, save their skin is white, when the paint and powder admit of a glimpse. We are inclined to forgive them because they admire our German youth, especially those with plenty of coin. We look forward with interest to our twentieth century Arabian Nights in Austral land. The factory girls and sewing girls are even worse. They are utterly impossible creatures. The domestic servants are a lazy, insolent, brainless lot, with only one thought - that is, to get away from toil and promenade the streets in what they appear to consider smart frocks, often costing as much, if not more, than their mistresses’ costumes, leaning on the arm of pimple-faced boys or old rakes. Our womenfolk will straighten them up. If they rebel we will put them on the roads or in the fields. - Jakob Burckhardt, in Weltgeschichtliche Betrachtungen ( “ World-Historic Reflections “ ) .
The writer of that passage is arecognised authority on Renaissance art, and was some time professor in Basle. He visited Australia twice, and was entertained by the civic authorities.
– Does the Launceston paper give the name of the publication in which that statement first appeared ?
– It gives the name of the book, and the writer’s professorial status. Let honorable senators opposite go out and tell the people that German professors who visited Australia and enjoyed Australian hospitality are inflaming and directing German public opinion in this direction.
– If that is the measure of the intelligence of German professors we need not fear Germany.
– That is what the honorable senator has been saying for years past. I can remember that Senator Gardiner and some of his associates said twelve months ago that the war was as good as won.
– Hear, hear !
– I have no quarrel as a quarrel with honorable senators who disagree with me in regard to the question at issue in connexion with the referendum, but I do tell them that they are in very grave danger, as has been the whole British race, of disparaging German intellect, German patriotism, German resolution, German endurance, and the German will to war.
– I am taking the sample the honorable senator has given ofGerman intelligence. That speaks for itself.
– Does the honorable senator believe that if German rule were established in Australia our position would be greatly better than is outlined in these extracts? Does he forget the condition of the unfortunate Poles whom the Germans have oppressed, whose religion the Germans have endeavoured to eradicate, and whose language the Polish children have been forbidden to speak? Does he believe that the Germans who have treated their territorial, and, to some extent, racial neighbours in that fashion would exercise any leniency towards Australians?
– Does the honorable senator think those German writers speak the truth, and that they speak for the German people ?
– I say that they are speaking the truth in regard to the aspirations of a very large number of educated Germans.
– Those statements sound to me more like the production of a National or Liberal writer.
– I have quoted book and author, chapter and verse, and does the honorable senator dispute the authenticity of what I am quoting ?
– I do. It sounds more likethe production of some Nationalist organ.
– At any rate, this matter will appear in Hansard, and the Australian people will see for themselves the authorities from which I have quoted. I have not. been in the houses that published these books, but I have given literally my authority for every word I have read.
– Do you think it is a good advertisement for conscription if that sort of thing comes from professors in a conscription country?
– What I am doing is an absolutely sound and correct way of arousing Australian people to a sense of what some Germans would prepare for them if they had the power.
– Did Critchley Parker issue that document ?
– The honorable senator will not throwme off my argument by any reference to Critchley Parker. I despise Critchley Parker’s efforts so much that I am not even going to refer to them. I have my own way of protecting myself, and my own way of presenting my private grievances. I do not propose to mention them in Australia’s highest national chamber at a time when the Empire is in very grave peril.
I wish to say something about shipbuilding. In his Bendigo speech, which I have had the pleasure of quoting onmany platforms during the election campaign of April and May last, the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) said that freight was a vital factor in regard to winning the war, but, unfortunately, it was one that was beyond our control. I subscribe to the truth of the statement that freight is a vital factor, but I certainly protest against the idea that it is altogether beyond our control. Very early in the campaign of last year I said that I thought a very vigorous policy of shipbuilding in Australia would be one of the very best things a Winthewar Ministry could undertake, and that, . by building ships - we ought to be able to build them with the resources of a continent at our disposal - and by arranging for convoys, just as in the eighteenth century the East India Fleet had to be convoyed by the British men-of-war, we could combat the submarine menace. The pirates of Barbary were almost as big a menace to commerce in the eighteenth century as the German submarine is to-day, and British men-of-war were frequently under the necessity of going as far south as the line in order to convoy the East India fleets to the shores of Great Britain. I pointed out during the campaign that a very satisfactory method of combating the submarine menace would be for all the component parts of the British Empire to address themselves individually and collectivelyto a vigorous policy of building ships - wooden ships; any sort of ships - that would take cargoes to the Home Country.
I am somewhat surprised at the statement that the Prime Minister has ordered the building of fourteen wooden ships in America. I applaud the actual administrative act, but it squares most unsatisfactorily with the attitude ofthe Prime Minister towards the proposal to build wooden ships in Australia. I understood from those who were commissioned to investigate the matter in Tasmania, and whom I had the pleasure of accompanying, that the Prime Minister was opposed to the building of wooden ships in Australia. If he has given orders for the building of wooden ships in America - I speak with only a partial knowledge of the facts, because they have not been even moderately disclosed to us - he should also have arranged his shipbuilding policy in such a fashion that we should have begun the building of wooden ships in Australia months ago. We have built wooden ships in Australia that have made the ocean voyage to London. Tasmania is now getting its supplies of wheat from the mainland in wooden sailing ships. Only a week ago there was at the Launceston wharf a wooden vessel - a converted missionary craft - which had been built in England, and which is now engaged in taking wheat from New South Wales to Tasmania, that mainland wheat which is necessary for the operations of the Tasmanian millers. If a vessel which was built in England, and which has made the stormy ocean voyage to Australia, is actually engaged in the Australian wheat transport trade, cannot we, setting aside all our political differences, address ourselves enthusiastically, even at this late hour, to the building of ships - ships of any sort, rough ships, if you like, so long as they are seaworthy and will carry substantial cargoes - to help to mitigate the unfortunate position of the people of Great Britain? Undoubtedly, we can do so. Surely this is an item of policy with” which no one will disagree. While I applaud what the Administration has done already, I say that it has not done nearly sufficient in this particular, and if there is such incongruity in its. shipbuilding policy in the direction I have mentioned, my surprise at the lack of proportion is increased - for, if we are to pay for American wooden ships with good Australian money, surely in an insular continent, with vast forests at our disposal, we should be able to build wooden ships here ? In fact, some of them ought to be well on the way to launching at the present time. We all know that the Prime Minister and the Administration have been confronted with considerable difficulties, but I must say there has been a lack of that dash, that enthusiasm, that fever of shipbuilding, to which Senator Long has referred. Even at this late hour amendment is possible, and I sincerely hope that the Administration, purged somewhat by the fire through which it has passed, will address itself with tenfold energy to the question of increasing the Empire’s mercantile marine.
A constructive war policy that will really assist is badly needed. As I said in my opening remarks, I am sorry to say that we are forced back on the most unsatisfactory method of providing men, but forced back on it we are, and men of the world deal with things as they are; they deal with facts, and not with suppositions, and they do not indulge in vain regrets as to what might have been. It seems to me our mineral production will have to be greatly stimulated by encouraging enterprise. While I thoroughly agree with the policy that those who are enjoying large incomes at the present time should pay proportionately to the cost of the war, I question very much whether the war-time profits tax is likely to prove anything but a brake on the energies of the people of Australia. Human nature being what it is - and every politician should be a bit of a philosopher - we must recognise that we cannot get men to put money into productive enterprises when they are liable to have their profits taken from them to the extent of 50 per cent, or 75 per cent. There are other avenues in which they can employ their money. As honorable senators suggest, they may even put it into the war loans, where it may be of service, but there they will not be running the risk of having three-fourths of their profits taken from them. I am not going into the bare ethics of the question, nor do I argue that patriots ought not to be willing to sacrifice every shilling which they possess. Theoretically, they ought to be willing to do so, but human nature being what it is they will not do it. Our friends are talking about raising the pay of Australian soldiers, implicating and insinuating that it is necessary to ‘ raise the pay before men will come forward in increased numbers to fight. I do not say that it is necessary, but undoubtedly that is the logical implication. We must stimulate mineral production here. I believe that if the production of metals and ores is vital, as it undoubtedly is, for the successful prosecution of the war, and the maintenance of our part in the struggle, it will be found desirable, as it was found desirable in New Zealand, to revert to the income tax form of raising money and to let the war-time profits taxation go by the board.
I am sure that it will be found by the collection of the war-time profits impost that in Australia war-time profits on the scale on which they are made in the United Kingdom do not exist. Yet the presence of this bugbear in the path of enterprise will, I feel sure, do much to check our reaching a consummation which wedevoutedly wish, namely, the great stimulation of Australian production.
I have not the ability to epitomize my remarks as Senator Pratten has done, but in his short and well-considered speech he alluded to the necessity of our greatly stimulating production of every kind. He referred to the production of metals, the building of ships, and the manufacture of munitions of war. If we undertake all this work, recognising that we shall always be geographically an isolated continent, and our people the population of an island, it may be that this war, great as its drain upon the resources of the Commonwealth in men and money has been, will, in after years, because of the prosperity resulting from the stimulation of our industries, be recognised as a blessing in disguise. It may possibly be that it will result in the planting in Australia of the roots of industries which, like the grain of mustard seed, will eventually bloom and flourish into tremendous industrial trees. As we are restricted in the way of providing men, we should exhibit all the more energy in the development of our resources, the building of ships,the growing of produce, the rearing of stock, and the systematic production of ores and metals.
I am not one. of those who care to make too long references to things that are past and cannot be mended.
– Plutarch has passed.
– Yes; but Plutarchthough dead yet liveth and speaketh still. His body may be dead, but his utterances are immortal. I suppose that it is almost impossible to speak on the Supply Bill without making some reference to the political position quite recently created by the unfortunate and unnecessary pledge on the part of the Prime Minister. I am not going to criticise nor am I going to absolve. I feel that as I am one of the contemporaries of the Prime Minister, I am, perhaps, unable to judge him as dispassionately and correctly as he may be judged by posterity. Every one knows that I am not inclined to indulge in fulsome praise of the right honorable gentleman. I have a keen sense of some of his defects and limitations. Nevertheless. I say that his political career and his political fortunes are identified with the fortunes of our Empire. He stands for all that is
Imperial. He stands for the growth of that Imperialism without the existence of which Australian nationalism must perish. If our Empire comes out of this war unqualifiedly successful, there is no doubt that the future historians of politics, which to us are contemporary, may thinkthe Prime Minister a very much greater man than do some of us who are his contemporaries. I like to do him justice. I have been very much annoyed by many of his political blunders since he has been Leader of the Government. Atthe same time, while I do nob condone them, I am not inclined to very harshly criticise them. I must say that I greatly regret that the referendum was carried out by executive act. When voting for the War Precautions Act I never dreamed that it would permit of the creation of such a condition of things as an administrative atmosphere in which we could have an appeal to the people of Australia without the slightest intermediate reference to Parliament. Now the thing is done, the result has been arrived at, and regrets are vain. His tying of his feet with pledges, his frothy vituperation, his unnecessary acts of administration, and) so on, are things for which Mr. Hughes himself must be responsible. I simply make reference to the matter to protest against any responsibility being thrown upon the Nationalist party, as a party, in respect of any pledges which the Prime Minister may have made. He made them entirely of his own volition, and without consultation with the party. If they have been found inconvenient, he has had to address himself to the consideration of the position in which he landed himself.
– Doesthe honorable senator not think that the pledge bound the members of the Government, apart from the Nationalist party?
– In answer to the honorable senator I simply say that I completely dissociate myself as a member of the Nationalist party from any responsibility the Prime Minister incurred in connexion with the pledge he made. An attempt has been made, and attempts will be made, to saddle the members of the Nationalist party with a certain amount of responsibility in connexion with the matter. I do not subscribe to that at all. If the Prime Minister had said, as he might very well have said, had it occurred to him, that if the referendum were not carried, he and the members of his Ministry would resign their seats-
– Or hang themselves.
– I will not go as far as .that. The Prime Minister and the members of his Government might easily have said that they would resign their seats and re-contest them if the re- ( ferendum were not carried; but will any honorable senator contend that had they said so that would have involved a responsibility upon the rank and file of the Nationalist party ‘to also resign their seats ?
– It is to be hoped not.
– As Senator Henderson somewhat jocularly interjects, it is to be hoped not. I do not think it could be reasonably contended that such a pledge would apply to the rank and file of the Nationalist party. Mr. Hughes made a pledge, and has got out of it in a way satisfactory to himself, and I am not ‘going to comment upon it at this juncture.
I do protest, however, against the - I will not say disloyal - but somewhat sneering, and almost unchivalrous. references which have been made to His Excellency the Governor-General. Let any honorable senator imagine himself placed in the position of the Governor-General repre:senting the Imperial authorities, whose one care is tlie proper and satisfactory government of Australia in this time of crisis, and what would he do? Honorable senators must remember that the Governor-General has no concern with the individual or . collective pledges of members of this Parliament. His concern is to see an Administration in office supported by a majority of the members in the popular chamber. That is his concern. Everything else set aside, he must go about that business. It is his . duty as the King’s representative to keep the King’s government going.
– And to follow constitutional procedure.
– I remind the honorable senator that, once a Ministry has resigned, the Governor-General is his own judge of what is constitutional procedure.
– Then, why did heseek so much advice?
– It will not be held against the Governor-General as a crime that he failed to seek advice. Weknow that he sought the advice of a number of gentlemen. I think that whatever criticism may be directed against the attitude of the Prime Minister in connexion” with the matter, the Governor-General must, by every loyal, sensible, and chivalrous man, be held to have done what was undoubtedly the right thing from the - stand-point of the King’s representative, namely, the securing of fi stable government for the Commonwealth of Australia at a time of great Imperial strain. The Governor-General is well qualified to defend himself, and I am not taking up therole of his apologist. I merely say, as a member of the Senate, that I think- that, whatever’ may be the attitude adopted in another place, the senatorial attitude towards the Governor-General ought to’ be chivalrous, and should indicate a recognition of the difficulties imposed upon him arising from a political crisis. That is all that I desire to say about the matter.
Honorable senators know that I havebeen a conscriptionist from the beginning of the war. I have been a conscriptionist, not because of the necessity of gettingenough men. I should be a conscriptionist now if we were getting a sufficient number of men, because I hold that conscription is equitable, democratic, and scientific. The war authorities should know how many men they can depend on, and that they can depend upon a regular supply. That is possible only under conscription. That is why students of the military art have always been advocatesof -conscription.
– Even at ls. per day.
– I have had to run the gauntlet. a good many times since I made that statement, and have received more votes since than ever before. I havehad my hand shaken by returned veterans,, who have confessed to me that- my attitude was the right one, and that had my scheme been adopted, we should not havebeen giving maimed, blinded, or partiallyblinded, and certainly considerably inca- pacitated soldiers, pensions which, after all are not sufficient to do more than keep bodyand soul together. Under the system we have adopted, nearly £50,000,000 of Australian money has been spent on foreign soil by Australian soldiers in a way that has brought them little or no benefit. Had conscription been introduced, with a scale which permitted of only a nominal monetary payment to the soldier himself, while providing ample allowances for the keep of those dependent on him, and allowing a much more amplified fund for the payment of pensions, something very much better would have been instituted than the system which we are now carrying on to the detriment of our national effort.
– That was not your statement in the Senate.
SenatorBAKHAP. - I have been under the criticism of my electors two or three times since then, and have returned. I fancy I would return again to-morrow without any difficulty if another election occurred. I have been a conscriptionist because of the equity of the system. Every man who understands the military art knows that it is the only system under which satisfactory reinforcements for armies can be depended upon. That being so, it will come with a certain amount of grace from me to suggest that we ought to bury the hatchet with regard to recriminations about this matter. Many mistakes were made on both sides. Pamphlets were published by very indifferent directors of public opinion on both sides, which posterity will regret were ever sent broadcast among Australian people. Lot us all address ourselves now to the problems facing us, rightly or wrongly, straightforwardly or otherwise, according to different view-points. A Government is in power which has the confidence of the majority of this Legislature in both Houses. If it peacefully, but energetically addresses itself to the organization of Australia’s resources; if it is allowed to do so without unnecessary recriminations, something may be achieved; but if we fritter away our internal strength by continual bickering over matters which, after all, will not be regarded as worth a jot by the historian of fifty years hence, we shall be doing a very unwise thing, unbefitting the legislators of one of the most important of the King’s overseas Dominions. After all, there are 5,000,000 almost purely British people in Australia, and there are only 67,000,000 of white people in the whole British Empire. Therefore, the percentage of responsibility on our shoulders is very heavy. It is our duty, all other considerations set aside, to allow this Administration, which ought reasonably to have two years of office before it, to address itself to the question of what can be best done on Australia’s behalf. I hope before election time comes again we shall have surmounted the Alpine heights and landed on the other side, where we can fully survey the broad meadows of unqualified and measureless victory. When we do get such a victory - and I believe we will, if we are sufficiently enduring - we can all look back on this time of trial as one not likely to occur again during our lifetime, and I hope not within the lifetime of two or three generations of our descendants.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Keefe) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Millen) agreed to-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until 11 a.m. to-morrow.
The following paper was presented: -
Customs Act 1901-1916 - Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1918, Nos. 10, 11.
Coaling of Ships at Sydney.
Motion (by Senator Millen) pro posed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I wish to bring under the notice of the Minister representing the Prime Minister a statement of the utmost importance, that the hospital ship Kyarra, the troopship Ayrshire, and one BritishIndia ship, have been held up in Sydney Harbor since 14th January, for want of coal, although 600 coal lumpers are willing to load the coal ; that the Cool Board refuses to permit the stevedores toemploy the men unless they repudiate their own union, and go through the channel established by the New South Wales Government. If that statement is correct, this victimization of the Coal LumpersUnion should -absolutely cease, and steps should be at once taken by the Government to have the ships coaled by members of the union.
– The only step I can take at this juncture is to ask the honorable senator to let me have the statement from which he was evidently reading. By that means, he will put me in possession of the alleged facts quicker than I shall get them by waiting for the appearance of Hansard. I shall then make inquiries.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.18 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 23 January 1918, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1918/19180123_senate_7_84/>.