7th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
-I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs if the Government will take into consideration the advisability of appointing some of the State inspectors of meat as Federal inspectors also?
– I shall bring the matter under the notice of the Minister for Trade and Customs.
Senator THOMAS, as Chairman of the Select Committee appointed to inquire into the effect of liquor on Australian soldiers, &c., presented a progress report from the Committee, together with minutes of evidence up to 27th March, 1918.
Ordered to be printed.
Supply of Cornsacks
– I ask the Minister in charge of the Wheat Pool whether the Government have completed arrangements for the supply of cornsacks for the coming season’s wheat?
– The honorable senator intimated his intention to ask this question, and I have to make the following reply: - Owing to the difficulty of proouring freight last year the Government found it necessary to take action much earlier this year to secure an adequate supply of cornsacks for the coming season. The Indian Government have placed the services , of their Jute Controller at the disposal of the Commonwealth Government to purchase this year’s requirements. Sixty million bags have been purchased at a very reasonable price, and conferences are now taking place with the shipping authorities to secure the necessary freight. An early announcement will be made as to prices and details of the scheme for handling the goods.
The following papers were presented : -
Audit Act 1901-1912 - Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1918, No. 83.
Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Fund Act 1916. - Report to the Board of Trustees of the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Fund, March, 1918.
Commonwealth Inscribed Stock Act 1911. - Dealings and Transactions during the year ended 80th June, 1917.
Defence Act 1903-1917. - Regulations amended. -Statutory Rules 1918, Nos. 92, 93, 102.
Entertainments TaxAssessment Act 1916. - Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1918, Nos. 84, 96.
Income Tax Assessment Act 1915-1916. - Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1918, No. 95.
Inter-State Commission Act 1912 -
Prices Investigation Reports -
No. 1.- Bread.
No. 3.- Farm Products Group - Milk, Butter, Cheese, Condensed Milk, and Bacon.
No. 4. - Meat - Further Report dealing with Meat in New South Wales and Queensland.
No. 5. - Bread - Further Report dealing with Bread in New South Wales and Queensland.
No. 6. - Groceries.
British and Australian Trade in the South Pacific - Report.
Lands Acquisition Act 1906-1916. - Land acquired at Mont Park, Victoria - for Defence purposes-
National Relief Fund. - Report on Administration up to 30th September, 1917. (Paper presented to British Parliament.)
Naval Defence Act 1910-1912. - Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1918. Nos. 41. 65.
Norfolk Island. - Ordinance No. 3 of 1918 - Patriotic Funds.
Northern Territory - Ordinances of 1918 -
No. 4. - Darwin Pound.
No. 5. - Plant Diseases.
No. 6. - Liquor.
No. 7. - Oyster Culture Leases.
Supplementary Estimates of Expenditure -
Year ended 30th June, 1916.
Year ended 30th June, 1917.
War Precautions Act 1914-1916. - Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1918, Nos. 91, 100, 101, 103, 104.
War-time Profits Tax Assessment Act 1917. - Regulations amended.- Statutory Rules 1918, No. 82.
– I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer - 1, What is the total amount subscribed to the Sixth War Loan? 2. How much of it was subscribed . at 4½ per cent. and free from Federal and State taxation? 3. How much of it was subscribed at 5 per cent. and liable to Federal and State taxation ?
– The honorable senator having given me prior intimation of his intention to ask these questions, I am enabled to supply the following answers: 1. £43,322,850. 2. £37,322,850. 3. £6,000,000.
Senator Lt.-Colonel BOLTON (Victoria) [3.5]. - (By leave.) - I desire to make a short statement upon a matter of public interest. In view of certain questions that were asked in another place in connexion! with the returned soldiers’ procession in Melbourne on last Friday, I think it is desirable that honorable senators and the public should be acquainted with the facts. It is to be regretted that criticisms have been made in ignorance of the facts, which have had the effect of accentuating an already sufficiently unfortunate and unpleasant incident. I do not propose to inflict a number of ‘details upon honorable senators, and it will be, perhaps, sufficient to say that three parties were concerned in the day’s proceedings, namely, the Defence Department, the committee of the Victorian branch of the Returned Soldiers League, and the general public. My own association with the movement began and ended with an invitation to me as president of the Returned Soldiers League to lead the returned soldiers’ procession. On receiving the invitation I submitted to (the committee of the League, on the night before the march, some suggestions as to the order of their parade. A District Military Order, dated 11th April, made ample provision and excellent arrangements for a united parade of the Military Forces and the returned soldiers. For reasons best known to themselves, the committee of the Returned Soldiers League, of which I am not a member, and, possibly, with a view to making a. stronger appeal to the public for assistance, decided that they would have their procession separate from the military parade, and that the returned soldiers should start from the point of assembly a quarter of an hour or twenty minutes later than the military parade. On the 19th April, another District Order was issued providing for that arrangement, the Order, of course, dealing entirely with the military column. This led to the military column and the returned soldiers assembling at the same point, Alexandra-avenue. The military column assembled in organized units and under command, but the returned soldiers, naturally, assembled there as individuals, and at different times. The military officials in charge of the military column were most courteous in their dealing with the situation. They saw that there was likely to be some confusion, and they very courteously crowded their commands on the northern side of Alexandra-avenue, in order to give all the room possible to the returned soldiers. When ‘ thousands of men assembled at Alexandra-avenue under those conditions, and in the short period of fifteen minutes were organized into their own units and marched off in an organized column, it will be admitted that the fact spoke volumes for the intelligence and discipline of the returned soldiers. It is untrue to say that there was -any chaos or confusion. Speaking as an impartial observer, and one who has had some experience in these matters, I say that I never saw anything that more creditably reflected upon the discipline of the returned soldiers. These men marched off in an organized column until they reached Collins-street. Part of the procession consisted of a collection flag 50-ft. wide and stretching nearly the whole width of the street. When the column was about half way up Collins-street, the generous and sympathetic people crowded in upon the collecting flag in order to hand in their donations, and their action had the effect of cutting the returned soldiers’ procession in two, and blocking the march of those who were behind the collecting flag. The result was that the leading portion of the military procession moved off in ignorance of this, returned from Collinsstreet into Spring-street, and passed the saluting base at the Commonwealth Parliament House. When that first portion of the procession passed the saluting base it can be easily understood that the military officials stationed there were quite justified in believing that it terminated the proceedings. I thought that I ought to make this short statement of the facts in order to remove any wrong impression which may exist in the public mind.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in this Chamber whether he has yet obtained a reply to the question which I put some days ago in regard to the membership of the various Pools, Committees, &c, which are now in operation in the Commonwealth?
– The information which the honorable senator desires is being prepared in the form of a report. I hope that that! report will be here either to-day or to-morrow.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
– The Minister for Home and Territories has informed me as follows: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Works land Railways, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister’ representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– This Government has no information on the subject. The contract for the supply of machinery and terminal elevator, -which Mr. Teesdale Smith has with the New. South Wales Government, concerns that State solely, and does not come within the Federal scheme.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
What is the cost per inch in the newspapers of Australia for advertisements in connexion with Commonwealth war loans?
– The prices asked by the newspapers vary from 2s. per inch to £1 5s. per inch, the latter price being claimed in two cases.
Railway Strikers and Temporary Employment
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– No applicant for teinporary employment has been or will be refused registration’ for, the reason given.
– Arising out of the answer which has just been given by the Minister for Repatriation, I ask if it is not a fact that men have been refused reregistration by Mr. Kragen merely because they left their employment in the New South Wales Railway Department, and went out on strike?
– Order! The Minister has already replied to the honorable senator’s question, and that reply must be accepted by him.
Debate resumed from 4th April (vide page 3590) on motion by Senator Millen -
That the statement be printed.
– So much time has elapsed since this paper was tabled that possibly interest in some of the matters referred to in it has to some extent passed. Senator Millen, in his opening remarks, expressed the hope that Lord Forrest might be restored to health. In that I and all of us heartily join. The honorable senator also congratulates the right honorable gentleman upon the signal honour conferred upon him by His Majesty. I do, too. Personally, I most heartily congratulate Lord Forrest on ‘the distinguished mark of favour bestowed on him. I go further, and say that if any man in. Australia should be granted such a distinction, Lord Forrest certainly stands foremost as one entitled to it. I regret that at the same time I entirely disapprove of the action of the Federal Government in recommending, and of the British Government in indorsing, any Australian citizen for a distinction of that kind. A Democracy such as Australia is cannot afford to have a system of hereditary titles fastened upon it. At a time like this, when in such a Democracy as Australia so splendid an example of Imperial unity is being shown, it is not only bad taste and bad form, but a distinct slap in the face for the Democracy, to try to force a system of hereditary titles upon it.
– There does not seem to be much room for congratulation on those lines.
– I am congratulating the individual, not the system. I hope the honorable senator will not confound the well-earned distinction of an esteemed citizen with a system that is obnoxious to every real Democrat in Australia.
– But is it really an hereditary title?
– Certainly it is. Since the tabling of this paper, which deals at length with the war position, a matter affecting the war position in Australia has cropped up. As it is much more recent than the Ministerial statement, I hope I shall be in order in referring to it. A manifesto has been issued to the Flinders electorate over the signature of Arch. Stewart, secretary of the Australian Labour party, Trades Hall, Melbourne. In it I find the following: -
The War. - The Labour party stands for peace by negotiation. To peace by negotiation the world must come. Those who will not recognise this are putting off peace for years. Peace with a German victory is impossible. The Central Powers cannot beat the Allies. Peace with a British victory is impossible. The Allies cannot beat the Central Powers. The Labour party believes that the humiliation of a nation creates in its people a spirit of revenge, which breeds future wars. The German rulers must be left to the German people. They alone can destroy German militarism and autocracy. And we believe that the prolongation of the war only postpones the hourof triumph of German democracy.
Terms of Peace. - The Labour party stands for the immediate cessation of fighting, and for the calling of an International Conference to settle peace terms. Such terms must include: -
Withdrawal from invaded territory, and reparation by the invader.
Self-government of all small nations.
Right of people of disputed territory to a vote on their own future government.
International control of captured possessions pending agreement.
No annexations and no indemnities.
Means of reducing the number of future international disputes.
I wish to take a portion of that statement, which, if torn from the context and read by itself, might put the movement, of which I am a member, in a very false position. It is this -
The Labour party stands for the immediate cessation of fighting.
I want emphatically and firmly to repudiate that. So far as the peace policy of the Labour party is concerned, Mr. Arch. Stewart has no more right to publish what is Labour’s peace policy than I or any other member of the community. I say emphatically that, so far as the Australian Labour’ party are concerned, we are in this fight to a finish. Let there be no mistake about that. I shall try to put before the Senate the peace policy of the Labour party, as decided in conference in my own State. I do not want to do Mr. Stewart an injustice, but I believe his State has adopted practically the same peace proposals as the Labour party at their conference last June. The resolutions of the New South Wales Conference are somewhat lengthy, but in view of the interest in the matter at the present time, it is only fair that I should quote sufficient to put Labour’s peace policy fully before the Senate.
– Is that the State or the Federal Conference?
– The State Conference. The Federal Conference has not yet given us a peace or war policy. The resolution reads -
That, as the Governments of Europe, founded on class rule, and adopting the methods of secret diplomacy, have failed utterly to preserve peace, or to bring the present war within measurable distance of a conclusion, and whereas the existing capitalistic system of production for profit compels every nation constantly to seek new markets to exploit, inevitably leading to a periodic clash of rival interests, we contend that only by an organized system of production for use, under democratic control, can a recurrence of such calamities be permanently avoided. The present system, by fostering commercial rivalry, territorial greed, and dynastic ambitions, has created an atmosphere of mutual ‘fear and distrust among the Great Powers, which was the immediate cause of the present colossal struggle.
While the people suffer and die in millions, thousands of the ruling and privileged classes are amassing huge fortunes out of war profits; apparently existing Governments are making no sincere efforts to obtain a speedy peace, but are devoting their whole endeavours to the continuance of a disastrous struggle. We are, therefore, convinced that peace can only be accomplished by the united efforts of the workers of all the countries involved.
We, therefore, to quote the Sydney Morning Berala” of the 18th April, 1917, “ rejoice over the revolution of Russia,” and congratulate the people of that country upon their efforts to abolish despotic power and class privileges, and urge the workers of every land where similar conditions exist to follow their example with the same magnificent courage and determination.
We are of opinion that a complete military victory by the Allies over the Central European Powers, if possible, can only be accomplished by the further sacrifice of millions of human lives; the infliction of incalculable misery and suffering upon the survivors ; the creation of an intolerable burden of debt to the further impoverishment of the workers, who must bear such burdens, and the practical destruction of civilization among the white’ races of the world.
We, therefore, urge that immediate negotiations be initiated for an International Conference, for the purpose of arranging equitable terms of peace, on which Conference the workingclass organizations shall have adequate representation, and the inclusion of women delegates, and we further urge that the British self-governing Dominions, and Ireland, shall bo granted separate representation thereon.
We submit that in framing the terms of a lasting peace the following principles should be observed: -
Note. - This course (with such safeguards for the rights’ of minorities in communities of mixed races as the Conference might devise) would secure a final settlement of the rival claims for ‘ Alsace-Lorraine, Poland, Transylvania, and other territories similarly circumstanced.
Now those are the whole of our peace proposals.
– I have read the peace proposals as outlined by the New South Wales Labour party, because I want to state emphatically that, as far as I understand and know the Labour movement, there has been no decision in favour of the cessation of hostilities. I will go further, and say that I anticipate - as one must in such a movement as ours, containing, as it does, so many mixed opinions - what our enemies outside the Labour movement are saying at the present time, namely, that the coming Conference will agree to some such proposal as has been foreshadowed in this manifesto. But I will also say that if it were possible for the delegates to be duped or induced” to put forward the cessation of fighting as the policy of the Australian Labour party, it would be repudiated by the organizations in the movement. I therefore thought it advisable to take this, the earliest, opportunity I have had of saying that, as far as I am aware, the manifesto which I have just read contains the only definite peace proposal that has emanated from our Conferences. Moreover, it is so closely in touch with Mr. Lloyd George’s latest speeches that its adoption would not in any way hurt the dignity of any nation engaged in the war.
– When was the proposal adopted?
– Last June; at a time, too, when we were in a much better position to talk about peace than we are at present. In my opinion-r-and I want to make ft clear that it is my own opinion that I am voicing - it is no time to talk about peace when, as has been the case during the last month or so, we have been nearer and nearer to having our backs to the wall. Such a time as this calls for straight, hard hitting, and for national as well as party unity. I state most emphatically - and there must be no misunderstanding of my words - that if we had a continuation of the disasters of the last month, there should be no party divisions in this country, but, on the contrary, Australians should come together to defend Australia. I do not wish to dwell at any length upon this phase of the subject, but I regret that Senator Pearce should have picked out one line in a statement issued by Mr. Stewart, with the result that the press of Sydney have given prominence to what is really the production of one man. This has been done purely for party purposes. 1 know that if I had made a statement of that kind, and no party capital could be made out of it, it would have been blocked by the censors. I complained of this treatment at a time when, with the rapidly changing position, no man can say what will happen a month hence. 1 realize that there are times when we may indulge in party fighting with the gloves off to an unlimited extent without injuring anybody, but there are times, as at present, when we should seriously consider the position, and, in view of a great crisis which may suddenly come upon Australia, we should endeavour to secure complete unity amongst the people of this country.
– Does not the honorable senator think that, when such a manifesto has been issued, I am entitled to comment upon it?
– The Minister would be perfectly justified in doing so if his attitude were the same in all oases, but if I made a statement of that nature, and if no party advantage could be gained from it, I am satisfied the Minister would see that the censor prohibited its publication.
– Every manifesto of that kind issued by the Official Labour party has been passed.
– I am glad to hear that, because I do not want to suggest that the censorship should be tightened, but I do say-
– That is really the result of the honorable senator’s argument, though.
– The honorable senator has not given me sufficient time to make myself clear.
– Order ! I must ask the honorable senator to keep silence while Senator Gardiner is speaking. More than once Senator Gardiner has intimated his desire to speak without interruption, so that the continuity of his statement may not suffer, and I must ask honorable senators to respect his wishes.
– I am referring to this matter because for over twelve mouths Australia has been governed by a Ministry known as the Win-the-war Government. In their manifestoes, issued for party purposes, they have endeavoured to make it appear that other parties in Australia are opposed to winning the war. This has led to a grave position, for which those who appropriated to themselves the name of the “ Win-the-war Government “ are entirely and solely responsible. The effect has been twofold. One of these has been for the one political party to stamp their opponents as against the war, against the Empire, and generally disloyal. But we can let that pass, although we do not forget that we are within four days of the anniversary of the occasion when the party in power entered upon the government of this country with the one avowed object of winning the war. I might well ask the Leader of the Government here what they have done in the past twelve months towards winning the war. I might well ask, Has it not been a year of inactivity 1 Has it not been twelve months of idly standing by waiting for something to turn up? The Government who, a year ago, appealed to the people, and raised their expectations so high by the vigour with which they proclaimed themselves the champions of those who desired to see the war won, should now be in a position to present a record of something actually attempted, something really done. I regret that I can see nothing in what has been placed before us - nothing having any reference to Government activities in the direction of winning the war. There is nothing indicated by way of achievement; neither is there anything foreshadowed.
Of course, the Government are sending Mr. Hughes and Mr. Cook to London to represent Australia. If they were truly looking for a means of bridging party objections, they might have included in the delegation representatives of all parties. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) might have been invited to go. But the Government have sent two representatives, and, in view of the fact that their chief win-the-war proposal, namely, conscription, was overwhelmingly turned down, it can never be said that those two gentlemen will be truly representing the people of Australia. The Government have made a grave mistake, but the fact that there has been no invitation to a representative of the great body of people is merely in keeping with the general actions of those in power. There has not been a Board, or a body of any kind, appointed to deal with national industrial concerns upon which any of the people for whom we stand have been given a place. It has been a case of the party in power giving the positions to those who have supported them. I do not complain. Possibly it all comes within the scope of their plans for helping to win the war, but I differ as to the methods employed. In spite of that, however, the Government will have no cause to complain of my attitude in relation to matters dealing with war measures. I do not threaten that the Government will have reason to complain of my criticism. Naturally, they shall have criticism, but it will be of an alert and open character. I assure them that I move about, and come into contact with great bodies of the community, and that I have failed to discover in any part of our land anything but the most intense loyalty and unity of purpose; that is, to finish the war as we began, it, namely, with credit and honour, which means a victory for the Allied arms.
I cannot shut my eyes to the fact that victory for either of the contestants in this great struggle must mean prolonged fighting, must mean a cost of manhood which the world can ill-afford. As far as our party are concerned, we claim to stand definitely for the whole of the human race. The international divisions which so sharply separate parties leave us, in time of war as in peace, a party always on the side of international peace. It is one of the great differences between the Labour party and all others that we believe in peace - that our ideals are for peace. I have no hesitation in adopting the words of Walpole, that any peace is better than the most successful war.
– Question 1
– The honorable senator may question it, but he must not forget the price which has to be paid in human treasure for the conduct of warfare to-day. He must realize that it is more than ever now a contest of flesh and blood against machinery, and it may be the side with the best and most effective warwaging machinery that will eventually survive and win. In such days as these, therefore, it is the clear duty of the Government to organize Australia’s resources, to place before the people what are their best resources, and to give the lead in the fullest application of them. The cry has been for men, men, men. In my opinion, it will be supplies and machinery yet that we shall have to give, and not so much men. The attitude of the Government must be to consider Australia’s every possibility, and to so organize our country’s affairs that, whether the war is short or long, we may best continue to do our part. The Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce), I know, is aghast at the want of organization throughout Australia. The war confronts us with a seriousness which many people even to-day have not grasped. Others of us know, and are facing the grim necessity of seeing the prolongation of the struggle to an indefinite term. Therefore, neither the Parliament, the Government, nor the people can afford to drift along, conducting our affairs as a football match is run, namely, by screeching and bellowing. We have to face the stern reality of tilings as they are. We have to realize that in this contest Australia’s resources must be organized. It is not a question merely of hustling and moving off her manhood to the Front. I venture to say that if the manhood at the disposal of the Allies at the present time, including that of the great Democracy of the “United States of America, were equal to that of the Central Powers, the question of the manpower of the Allies would be scarcely of such importance as the proper organization of munnitions, food, and supplies. These must be organized, not in the way adopted in the past, but under a system prepared, planned, and executed as a man would prepare and plan in connexion with his private affairs - knowing first all his resources, and then deciding upon the most advantageous way in which to utilize them.
I have no desire to occupy the time of the ‘Senate at greater length. The statement which we are called upon to discuss contains matter full of interest; but, to my mind, the worst feature of the situation is that a Government specially selected by the people because of the vim with which they put foward their pro- ‘posals to win the war, after toeing twelve months in office, submit a statement in which there is not one reference to anything they have accomplished towards that end, ox one proposal likely to materially alter, the condition of things in Australia. I say, with the deepest regret, that the Ministerial statement is barren of anything which would give even the most enthusiastic supporter of the Government the- slightest hope that they will do anything ‘better towards winning the war in the next twelve months than they have done in the past.
– I am sure that honorable senators on this side welcomed the outspoken utterances of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner) on one matter with which he dealt in the course of his speech. I refer to the manifesto which has been published in this State over the signature of the secretary to the Political Labour Council of Victoria, and which is now being circulated in connexion with a by-election that is proceeding. I do not know why Senator Gardiner objected to my comment upon that manifesto. I do not know what report of my remarks may have been telegraphed to Sydney, but this is the report of those remarks which was published in the Argus of the 29th April and the Age of the same date -
I am quite sure that if the electors of Flinders read the manifesto carefully, and realize what it may mean to Australia, the gentleman who carries the manifesto will receive such an emphatic answer from the loyal electors of Flinders as will relegate him to the obscurity which the manifesto itself would fitly adorn.
I do not see that I can be accused of a party utterance in making that comment. The manifesto says, amongst other things -
The Labour party stands for the immediate cessation of fighting, and for the calling of an International Conference -to settle peace terms.
Am I to be accused of a merely party utterance because I say that a man who goes to an election with a manifesto like that should be relegated to the obscurity to which the manifesto ought to be relegated ? I spoke there, not as a party man, but as an Australian. I say that the Australian who talks about ceasing fighting at this juncture is a traitor to Australia. The Russians have tried what is suggested by this manifesto, with the result that their action has killed the democratic revolution in that country. The putting into effect in Russia of the suggestions of this Victorian Labour manifesto has had the result of transferring the Russian people from the autocracy of the Czar to the autocracy of the Kaiser. Yet we have people in this country so foolish, to use no harsher term, as to advise that at this juncture we should adopt the policy which destroyed the Russian revolution. Every man putting up for election in Australia invites criticism, and has no right to claim exemption from it. He is demanding to be allowed to enter an arena in which he will claim the right to criticise Ministers and fellow-members of Parliament. The moment such a man issues a manifesto it is open to the criticism of every citizen of this country. I claim the right to criticise this gentleman’s manifesto, and knowing what the adoption of a similar policy has done for the Russian Democracy, I say, as an Australian, that the man who appeals to the electors of any part of’ Australia upon such a manifesto deserves, with his manifesto, to be relegated to obscurity, and should never be allowed to. emerge from it. .1 ask Senator Gardiner to accept my assurance that it was in that sense I commented upon this manifesto, and not for the mere purpose of securing the return of the Ministerial candidate.
– Would the Minister not have been entitled to comment upon the manifesto for that purpose?
– I am not saying that I would not, but I do say that there was behind my comment something bigger than any desire to secure a mere party advantage. I commented on the manifesto as I did because I believe in my soul that the adoption of the policy it sets out would be fatal to the best interests of Australia.
Senator Gardiner himself takes up that attitude to a very large extent, because he has to-day said that he disclaims that manifesto. That is rather a daring thing for the honorable senator to do, because knowing the history of the Labour party for the last two or three years, he should know that in making that disclaimer he runs the risk of being suspect by his own party. I should not be at all surprised to hear before many days have passed that the utterances of Senator Gardiner in this chamber on this very question will lead him to be suspect, and that he will be called upon to answer for the statements he has made. ‘ I would remind the honorable senator further, that I had a right to regard this manifesto as something more than the election manifesto of an individual, because it bears the imprimatur of the official in this country who laid down the Labour policy for Australia on the question of conscription. It was this gentleman who assumed the right to call a conference in Melbourne, which largely consisted of those who, on the same council in Victoria, laid down the policy and issued the ultimatum to Victorian members of the Federal Labour party as to what they should do on the Compulsory Military Service Referendum Bill then in contemplation by the Government of the day.
– If he has the public equally behind him now, we are in a bad position.
– When I knew that this official and the organization he speaks for, were successful in getting the line of action they recommended indorsed by the Labour organizations of Australia, I had a right to regard this manifesto as some thing more than the mere statement of a Victorian Labour candidate. Judging from the experience of the past, I had a right to assume that it expressed views which might be accepted by the Official Labour organizations throughout Australia.
Referring to Senator Gardiner’s remarks on the war generally, and notupon this manifesto, I have to say that, in my view, the honorable senator has taken up au attitude which must commend itself to every Australian and every Britisher. I should be the last to say or do anything that would in any way question his motive in making that statement or derogate in any way from its importance and value. I hope that what he has said here to-day will have effect, not merely within his own party, but within the party with which I am associated. I am not going to claim that we have been without fault. We have not, and we know it. I do not claim that we have done everything right, or that the other party has done all that is wrong, but I do claim for the party on this side that, at any rate, we have always had before us the ideal that it is Australia’s duty to do everything of which she is capable to assist in winning the war. Our methods may have been faulty, and we may have been lax in performance, but that has been the dominating ideal which has brought the members of this party together. It is that ideal which has enabled men holding different political opinions to sink those opinions with the one purpose of putting that ideal forward and using it as a weapon in the political life of the country.
There is no reason why there should be such bitter opposition between the Official Labour parties, Federal and State, and the Nationalist party in all that concerns this war.
– It is a pity the honorable senator did not take that view twelve months ago.
– I have always taken that view.
– The honorable senator did not take that view in his conduct of the censorship.
– I have always taken that view, and that is the view I take now.
I ask honorable senators on the other side to consider what is happening in the various Allied countries. If they do, it must bring home to them the fact that in Australia we have gone off the track. There must be something radically wrong with us here, when we find that the Labour parties in other British countries, in France, and in the United States of America, where they are certainly as militant and Socialistic in their ideals as we are in this country, have declared that they are wholly behind the Governments of those countries in connexion with the war. In the great Demo.cracy of the United States of America wc find the Labour Party, Socialists and all, standing four square behind President Wilson, notwithstanding the fact that they have never supported either of the political parties there, and have run their own candidates at Presidential elections. In times of peace they have declared war against both the Republican and Democratic parties. In the industrial sphere, the Labour unions of the United States or America -are far more militant than are Labour unions in Australia. We have proceeded more upon political than upon industrial lines, but in the United States of America the trade unions have largely refrained from political action, and have thrown all their energy and activity into the industrial sphere. They believe in the strike, and practise it, and they have carried it out often with violence and force. Yet these Labour unions, without a dissentient throughout that vast Republic, have placed themselves unreservedly behind the Government, have declared that there shall be no strikes, no labour troubles, and no enforcement of their Labour views until the war is won.
– There have been strikes within the United States of America.
– Very few.
– The building of our own ships was held up by a strike.
– There have been far fewer strikes than occurred in times of peace, and those that have occurred have not been wor.th considering in view of the magnitude of the work that the United States of America is doing in connexion with the war. When we consider these things, I say that it should be possible, at this juncture of national peril, when not only the political life of the nation is in danger, but the very trade unionism and Socialism of the- Labour party are also in danger, to find a common ground on which to meet and act in order to direct the whole of the energies of the nation to the successful prosecution of the war. I appeal to honorable senators opposite to remember that they can wield an influence beyond this Chamber which may have important results in this direction.
I had hoped that we might have some more tangible result from the recent Recruiting Conference than lias come from it. I still believe that, although the actual result of the Conference, as summed up in the resolution that was passed, may be small, the parties present at it came away from the Conference with a better, understanding. . Both- parties have committed faults; both have been to blame in certain directions; but both have come from that Conference with a desire to promote a better understanding and to do better in the future.
– The Conference has been very valuable, then.
– From that point of view, it has. But the point which now arises is: “Who is going to follow up the work of that Conference, and to see that it does succeed ?” Obviously, when two political parties, between whom there has been fighting, come together in a truce and hold a conference, something must be done when these parties go back into their respective camps if any good result is to be achieved. Obviously, the leaders of the two parties must translate the decisions of the Conference into action by influencing th people whom they represent. I am sorry to say that I have seen little in the public statements of the leaders at that Conference to indicate that that is going to ae done. For example, Mr. Tudor was x promised the repeal of a number of War Precautions Act. regulations. The party for whom he spoke affirmed that certain regulations passed by the Government are irritating, unjust, and ‘ unnecessary. Thereupon, the Government representative said, “ Point out to us the regulations to which you refer and we will honestly endeavour to see whether we cannot repeal or alter them so as to meet your objection.”
– The Government have been told about a few of them in this chamber, but Ministers have fought against their repeal.
– That was before the Recruiting Conference was held. The offer of the Government is now open, but, so far, Mr. Tudor has not indicated the regulations to which he objects. Yet in speaking in New South Wales to the organization which he is leading, and which we hope will be induced to join in this common effort to stimulate recruiting, he denounced the War Precautions Act and all connected with it. Had he first submitted to the Government his list of the regulations to which he takes exception, and had we said that we would not cross a “ t “ or dot an “ i “ of them, his action would have been understandable. But, in the light of that Conference, and of the offer which has bean made by the Government,obviously it was his duty to first tell us the regulations to which objection is taken.
– What offer?
– We asked him to point out in what particulars the regulations under the War Precautions Act offend, and we have told him that we will endeavour to alter them in the direction he desires. So far, however, he has not indicated a single regulation to which exception is taken.
– The Minister and his party deliberately voted against a motion to repeal certain of those regulations.
– But the discussion of that motion in this chamber took place before the Recruiting Conference was held at the Federal Government House. At that gathering it was urged by Mr. Tudor and the representatives of Labour organizations that there are certain War Precautions Act regulations which prevent that mutual understanding between the people of this country which would lead to unity of effort in connexion with the war.
– Did he not enumerate these regulations at the Conference?
– I understood that he did.
– No. Mr. Tudor was to point out the regulations to which objection is urged.
– Since the holding of the Conference, has not a regulation been issued under the censorship pro hibiting any comment on the fact that Mr. Hughes and Mr. Cook are going to England ?
– I think it is quite unlikely,because in the newspapersI have myself read attacks upon those honorable gentlemen because they are going to England. Since the Conference rose I do not think there has been a day upon which one could not pick up a newspaper without finding in it adverse comment by somebody upon their projected departure. I am not bringing forward these points by way of attack, but merely with a view to showing that, whilst there may be faults on the part of the Government, we are still looking for some concrete effort on the part of the other side to bring about that unanimity which must precede unity of action; Towards the close of the Conference a resolution was unanimously adopted affirming that there should be that unity of action. This, however, was immediately followed in the other branch of the Legislature by a no-confidence motion, which was based on the ground that Mr. Hughes and Mr. Cook were not fit to represent Australia at the Imperial Conference.
– Do you not think that that motion was perfectly justified?
– In this connexion I am irresistibly reminded of the old couplet -
Perhaps it was right to dissemble your love,
But why did you kick me downstairs?
However, that no-confidence motion did not result in very much harm. But I feel that there is an obligation on the part of the representatives of both parties at the recent Recruiting Conference to see that effect is given to their promises.
The Government intend to honour their pledges. Those pledges were not put forward in the way of a bargain. They were given because we thought it was honestly urged by the representatives of the other side that there are certain obstacles in the way , of unity which it is within our power to remove. But I do put it to honorable senators opposite, who have influence with their industrial organisations, that in this deadly hour of peril, when the very foundations of our country are threatened, there is an obligation on them not to stir up strife in their own ranks, but to take a lead in this matter.
– Yet you victimize men because they will not sign an agreement.
– The honorable senator knows that that was not one of the obstacles put forward at the Conference as standing in the way of national unity. But, in regard to the railway and shipping strikes in New South Wales, both the Government of that State and the Commonwealth Government have promised to do all they can to meet the view which was urged at the Conference. Negotiations are now proceeding with that end in view. Of course, I cannot v speak for the State Government, but I can say, on behalf of the Commonwealth Government, that everything which we can do in that connexion will be done.
We have, I fear, been reading the war news so long that we are coming to look upon the struggle as a permanent evil, and we do not altogether realize the significance of the turn which events have taken during the past few( months. In the early stages of the war, two great drives were attempted by the Germans - one for Paris, and the other for Calais. In the drive for Paris the enemy nearly succeeded, but he was checked pretty early in the drive for Calais. We all regarded that check as a wonderful performance on the part of the old incomparable British Army, and we all believe that it averted a terrible fate for Britain. Yet to-day Calais is in greater danger than it was in 1914. It is in danger of being surrounded by the Germans, with a possibility of our forces having to withdraw from it. Honorable senators have doubtless read the reports of the recent raid on the ports of Zeebrugge and Ostend, and they may depend upon it that the sacrifice of life whichwas involved in that venture, and the strenuous endeavours which were made to close those harbors, were not made without the realization that’ those harbors constitute a deadly threat to Britain. Now. if they constitute a deadly threat to Britain, how much more deadly is the threat that would be constituted by the possession of the ports of Calais and Dunkirk? With these in the hands of the Germans - and we have to remember that the power of the British Navy cannot be exerted in the narrow British Channel as it can be in the North Sea, because, owing to the submarine menace, none of the heavier ships can live in the Channel, and any fight there will have to be a contest between the lighter vessels of the Fleet and the enemy - the coast of Britain would be actually brought into the war Front, with the possibility of invasion, and with the possibility of the release of sections of the German Fleet into the Atlantic, and, subsequently, into other oceans. And, increasing every month as the struggle goes on, is the probability that war weariness and exhaustion may so weaken our Allies that they may be compelled to give up the fight. Surely when we realize the significance of these considerations, we must recognise how strong is the call for us to bring about unity of action in Australia.
Is it in the interests of the Commonwealth that, at a juncture like the present, when, as Senator Gardiner has said, we have our backs to the -wall, the activities and the minds of the working classes should be called upon to discuss questions of peace? This is not the time to talk peace, unless we are beaten - unless our hearts are down, and unless we are thinking of surrender. When we are engaged in a fight, we do not think of peace until we are beaten. Therefore, I do put it to ‘ honorable senators that if ever there was a time when we should not propagate peace ideas, it is now. When Britain and her Allies were in a more favorable position, when the fight was going our way, I could understand those who desire peace at any price saying, “ Now is the time to work up public opinion in favour of peace. It cannot be said now that such an agitation is an ‘ act of surrender. Let us set our printing presses going. Let us hold our meetings.” Never was there a time in the history of the Commonwealth when so much money was being spent on propagating peace ideas or so many meetings being held for that t purpose, as- now. I appeal to the leaders of the Labour movement to realize that this is the most dangerous aspect of public opinion in Australia to-day. It reveals a weakness in our war spirit. It reveals a rift in our determination, which can have only one effect, and that a disastrous one. It will encourage our enemies, and steel their resolution, for, make no mistake about it, our enemies know of these things as well as we do ourselves. Put yourselves in the minds of the German people. If they see their armies advancing and the peoples they are fighting talking of peace, the only peace they will believe in under such conditions is a German peace, or, as the Kaiser says, a “strong German peace.” If you talk to the German when he is advancing of peace by disarmament, or by ceasing to fight, in the words of that manifesto, he will read that, not that he should cease to fight, not that he should lay down his arms, but that you should lay down your arms, and that you are discussing the advisability of doing so.
– That is how you read it, but that is not what is meant.
– I do not say it is what is meant, but I am showing how the German will read it. I should be sorry to think that all those people who in this country are talking of peace are talking of a German peace.
– Are there many of them?
– Moke no mistake about it, there are, and they are pouring out their literature in an ever-increasing stream. There is work there for those who have influence, by their voice and position to counteract that propaganda, and to see that no organization in this country is used for the purpose of weakening our resolve or our national will at a time like the present. I have no doubt that there were thousands, and even scores of thousands, in the revolutionary movement in Russia who honestly believed that if they could organize the proletariat of Russia, overthrow the Czar, and put in his place a democratic form of government, the workers of Germany would refuse to fight the soldiers of the revolution, but we have seen no disposition on the part of the workers of Germany to say : “ We refuse to fight against the proletariat of Russia; here is a newbom Democracy, here is a nation that by revolution has thrown off the autocracy of the Czar; we will not march against them, or shoot down their soldiers.” We read that, notwithstanding the terms of peace, the German soldiers are still invading Russia, pressing , on and on into the heart of the country, surrounding her very capital, cutting off her supplies, practically subjugating the country, and making it subservient to the rule of the Kaiser, with whole provinces passing under his rule. With that example before us, no matter what our politics are, what is the use of talking of peace by negotiation? The Russian peace was a peace by negotiation. The Russian delegates met the delegates of the Kaiser, and they negotiated a peace. Has the Kaiser observed the terms of that peace? There is scarcely a day that we take up the newspaper without reading that in one way or another those terms of peace have been ignored and torn up. So to talk of peace by negotiation with this practical illustration before our eyes is mid-summer madness or treachery of the deepest dye. A man who advocates peace by negotiation with Germany with that example before his eyes and until the German military autocracy is defeated is either a madman or a traitor. He can be no other. He cannot be in possession of his senses. Those who want to keep Australia a Democracy, to work out the destinies of Australia upon free democratic lines, to work out the ideals of Australia’s social Democracy with liberty, must be the last, if they open their eyes to the facts, to talk of peace at this juncture, because they know there can be no peace except a base surrender while the German military machine is in all its strength, as it is now.
I welcome the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner), because, with a courage that does him credit, he has dissociated himself from the sentiment expressed in that’ manifesto. He has put forward what he believes to be the only lines upon which peace should be thought of, but he has also said, and in this I think we can all agree with him, that the only way in which that peace can be obtained is by fighting for it. That peace may not be a peace with which all of us agree, but the Leader of the Opposition gives his adherence to it. He believes, he says, that it is the only peace that can be achieved, but the difference between his position and the other position is this : that he recognises and says that it can be achieved only by fighting for it. The obligation is to-day on those who seek for the peace embodied in that New South Wales manifesto, just as much as it is upon the Government, to get all those forces which recognise their leadership and will listen to their voice, to act together with all the other forces in this country. Let them work, if they like, for their own view of peace, because, after all, if in the fighting the Forces that we have sent into the field, and that the other Allies have sent into the field, are successful in stemming the onrush of Germany, if the German masses exhaust themselves against them, and when the American Armies come into the field, the Allies are able to inflict defeat on the military autocracy of Germany, then, and then only, will the worker of Germany begin to talk of a peace that can be acceptable to the worker of a free Democracy like Australia. That is the best way to teaoh the worker of Germany that war is unprofitable, and that force is not the best weapon to use in international affairs. Talk to him to-day of international arbitration, of a parliament of nations, and he will ask, “ Why should I want anything better than this magnificent military machine of mine, which has already humiliated one of the greatest nations of the world, which has pushed back two of the other great nations, and is making them fight for their very lives, a machine that has put the world in a condition of awe at its might?” That is the way the German to-day, workman, peasant, and aristocrat, regards the German military machine, and not until that machine has been shown to be defective, not until it has been defeated, will the German worker think differently. There are very few voices in the German Parliament to-day advocating a peace such as is embodied in the minutes of the New South Wales Labour Conference. Here and there a few dissentients raise their voices, but it is known that the great bulk of the Social Democratic party of Germany are supporting the German Government. So to-day I welcome the speech of the Leader of the Opposition, because it makes that clear-cut distinction between a peace by negotiation and a peace that will beobtained by fighting. It constitutes a call to those on his. side to join up, andbring about unity of effort on all those things on which We can agree- and we can agree on a great number in connexion with the war.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Alleged Victimization at Cockatoo Island Docs - Public Serviub: Railway Strikers and Temporary Employment.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– Last week I brought up the question of the victimization of workmen at Cockatoo Dock, because they would not sign a certain agreement. Before the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Cook) left, he told me that he had sent instructions to Sydney that those men should be reinstated. They are not reinstated. They have not been sent for, and are not working. Some of these victimized men have grown grey in the Service, and have done good work for their country, and it is a cruel injustice that they should be victimized at this period of their existence. If we are to have harmony, such as the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) speaks of, let him make a start there, and carry out the wish expressed by the Minister for the Navy before he left Australia. Isee by the press that a certain Board is sitting in Victoria to inquire why the men are off, and why they should be reinstated.. I have nothing to do with that inquiry. All I am concerned with is the promise of the Minister for the Navy and of the Government that the, men would be reinstated. I trust that the Minister for Defence will see that his colleague’s wishes in that regard are carried out.
– I take the strongest possible exception to the answer given to me to-day by the Minister representing the Prime Minister in regard to the victimization by Mr. Kragen, the Public Service Inspector for New South Wales, of a man who has been refused registration for temporary employment in the Commonwealth Public Service, because of the circumstances surrounding his severance from the New South Wales railway service. It appears that he came out on strike with his mates. The Government, . while professing to be anxious to win the war, and to heal existing differences, ought not to tolerate this action on the part of Mr. Kragen. It is within my knowledge that the man has been refused registration simply because be came out oil strike from the New South Wales railway service.
– As I have just received acopy of the Defence Bill, I ask leave to withdraw temporarily the motion for the adjournment of the Senate.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Bill presented by Senator Pearce, and read a first time.
Senate adjourned at 4.36 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 1 May 1918, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1918/19180501_SENATE_7_84/>.